Quite awhile ago I sent out an email to a number of prominent pastors (8 or 9) within the area I live in. One out of the nine responded in an effort to minister. The following conversation is with that one pastor who sought to help. I appreciate his willingness to enter into a discussion with me.
Our previous post supplied the initial question and the pastors response. This post will supply my response and appreciation to this pastor. I am still gonna call him Pastor X cause I still think it’s cool.
My response follows.
Thanks for getting back to me on this. Some of these verses seem to be helping with the argument for a salaried position but after looking at their context and setting, it doesn’t seem to be as strong an argument as I thought. I have been a believer for many years now, and have used the very same verses to defend my thinking in this topic, but …
OLD TESTAMENT BASIS
As for your reference to the levitical priesthood, we are under a New Covenant where each believer is a priest before God. I fear that I do not see any direct NT link between professional Christians (clergy) and the Levitical priesthood. (Although if you know of any clergy performing the levitical sacrifices to satisfy the old covenant that these provisions were specified under, let me know.)
THE RIGHT OF SUPPORT
Your point referring to 1 Corinthians seems to be an argument for an itinerant preacher, and not a stationary pastor. The right of support (support same as a salary?) is valid, but not necessarily for the local pastor/priest associated with one local church body. The apostle Paul did much traveling, where the “pastor” (actually elders) of the churches were stationary and could hold down a “secular” job while ministering to the believers in their group.
As a matter of fact, Paul spoke in Acts that the elders/pastors were to give to the church and not be a burden to the group. They were to help the weak and remember that it is more blessed to give than receive. Notice that the context includes the topic of coveting silver and gold.
33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel.
34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me.
35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
1 Peter 5:1-3 seems to address this same topic. (I think Peter is addressing motivation in these verses.)
Peter is kinda rough – using terms like “shameful gain”.
Calm down Peter – you need to get with the program.
1 Peter 5:1-3
1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:
2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
When you referred to 1 Timothy 5:17-18, this is the set of verses that started this concern for me.
1 Timothy 5:17-19
17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
As I was studying these verses earlier, I found that honor = Strongs greek # 5091. Thayer definitions below.
Strong’s # G5091, τιμάω timaō
1) to estimate, fix the value
1a) for the value of something belonging to one’s self
2) to honour, to have in honour, to revere, venerate
As I look at these definitions, there doesn’t seem to be any specific thought of money being an issue. This of course does not take away from your argument, that Paul could be gently breaching the salary concept. But if he is, then we need to put widows on a salary, since the same word for honor is used in verse 3.
1 Timothy 5:3
3 Honor widows who are truly widows.
And we need to ensure that all slaves are placing their masters on a salary, since this word is also used in verse 1 of chapter 6.
1 Timothy 6:1
1 Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.
Surely, the church of the living Christ is a priesthood of believers. At times, I fear that having paid clergy can work against the church body, creating a group of believers dependent on a paid staff (clergy).
As an aside, I found that Peter used the word cleros (a root for the english word “clergy”?) to define all of God’s people in 1 Peter 5:3. Kinda found that to be ironic!
I heard a believer once say that to find the strength of a church, one needs only to remove the pastor. I realize this is very difficult stuff, and I have feared even bringing this topic up for many months. I am thankful that you responded so quickly and sought to help.
If I am missing something, or you find that I am not understanding a truth, please be assured that I would be very happy to continue this discussion. It is truth that believers need to seek, and not just to blindly follow traditions.
Thanks again for your ministry.
Pastor X has not had the opportunity to reply with any additional exhortations or instruction. I appreciate this mans desire to help me, and I hope the best for him and his ministry.
After receiving the pastors notes, and waiting for a response, my mind started wandering and considering. Some of those wanderings and considerings will be in our next post.
Hope to see you there.
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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.