Sunday, March 1, 2015

Paul's Epistles - 1 Corinthians Part 16 – Supporting Ministers

Paul's Epistles - 1 Corinthians
Part 16 – Supporting Ministers
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

Paul's letter to the church in Corinth, up until last week, was addressing the things he had heard about them, including incest, adultery, over-spiritualized behaviors, wandering away from the Word of God, and an overall pride about them.

Paul has corrected the Corinthian Churches view about the division; Christ is head of the church, no one else. He also let them know that the power comes from God, and they should be humble, not conceited and over-spiritual.

He warned them not to go beyond what is written.

He addressed their pseudo-faith and spiritual activity of abstaining from intimate relations with their spouses, explaining this was the root of their immoral behavior.

He also warned them against lawsuits with other believers, saying the only reason they could not come to terms together inside the church was because of their pride and arrogance.

He instructed them to be content in their situations, so as to quench the immoral behavior that was coming from discontent, and selfish ambition.

Last week Paul warned about becoming a stumbling block to other believers if we have certain knowledge that they do not possess.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE I Corinthians 9:1-18
Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. Don’t we have the right to food and drink? Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?

Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?
But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.

13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. 16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.

Today Paul will try to help the church in Corinth understand better about knowledge, and how to act in love. He will show them that he has knowledge about how it is biblical, and commanded by God that the church financially support Paul, but they were not doing so.
Paul explains that he did not demand it of them, even though it was his right, because he was acting in love.
Paul was trying to get the church to behave more responsibly with what they were entrusted with.

                   I.            RIGHTS AS AN APOSTLE
a.      Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus the Lord?
                                                                         i.      Paul was free, and could chose to follow ministry, or walk away. He chose to devote his life to the ministry.

                                                                      ii.      Paul saw Jesus in Acts 9:3, 17; 22:7-8

                                                                   iii.      This IS A REQUIREMENT of an Apostle!

b.     This is my defense
                                                                         i.      His defense to those who judged him as whether or not he was a real Apostle, and about his ministry.

                                                                      ii.      He makes the point that Apostles are still human; having needs, and by God's commands and laws, have a right to be taken care of by the Church.

c.      We have a right to eat and drink!
                                                                         i.      Paul is speaking of legitimate needs here.

                                                                      ii.      It is NOT the churches responsibility to purchase mansions, yachts, limos, multiple houses, lavish lifestyles for the ministers of the gospel.

                                                                   iii.      However, it IS the churches responsibility to provide a "living" for them.

d.     Do we not have a right to take believing wives in the ministry with us, as other Apostles have, the Lord's brothers and Cephas?
                                                                         i.      Paul showing that the church is not just to take care of the ministers of the gospel, but also provide a living for his family as well.

                                                                      ii.      Other Apostles were married, although Paul was not, he defended them and their family's rights.

                                                                   iii.      Even Jesus' brothers, who were also Apostles, and even lead the council in the Jerusalem church, were married.

                                                                     iv.      And Cephas was married.
1.      This should wake up the Catholic community.

2.      Cephas is "Peter"

3.      The so-called "first Pope", the foundation of the faith, the "rock", the one who holds the key to salvation (which is the knowledge that Christ is God).

4.      Yet, they still prevent their priests from marriage.

               II.            TO LIVE FROM MINISTRY
a.      Or is it only Barnabas and I who do not have the right to quite working and live from our ministry?
                                                                         i.      Paul was upset because all of the other Apostles and families were being taken care of except for him and Barnabas.

                                                                      ii.      They were being looked down upon, not as "real" Apostles, and expected to hold jobs for a living and do ministry on the side, while other Apostles and their families were being taken care of.

b.     What does God say?
                                                                         i.      Who serves as a soldier at his own expense?
                                                                      ii.      Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the grapes?
                                                                   iii.      Who tends the flock and does not drink the milk?

c.      Am I speaking simply from human authority?
                                                                         i.      Doesn't God's Law say the very same thing?

                                                                      ii.      Law of Moses: Do not muzzle an ox while it's treading out the grain.
1.      Is this said for the ox's sake? NO...for ours!

2.      The ox (minister of the Gospel) is allowed to take of the harvest while treading out the grain for his needs!

                                                                   iii.      Whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing the harvest!

                                                                     iv.      If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much to ask we reap a material harvest from you?

                                                                        v.      If others have the right of support (missionaries, alms, etc...) how much more do we; the ones who started the church!

d.     However, this right I do not exercise from you

                                                                         i.      Paul did receive financial aid from other churches, and worked when he had to, in fact, we see in scripture where he thanks certain churches for supporting him, and tell others he will work so as not to be a burden to them for they were small, and could not afford it.

                                                                      ii.      However, I believe Paul refused to receive from the Church in Corinth for a few reasons.
1.      He was trying to teach them, just because you have a right to something, you must exercise responsibility and always act in love with the other persons interests before your own.

2.      Because of so many not accepting him as a "real" Apostle, and the spiritual state of the church in Corinth, I believe Paul did not want his support to come from a church struggling to be right with the Lord.

a.      It may have reflected poorly on him and his ministry to be receiving support from them, it would look as if he approved of their behavior.

            III.            PAUL'S CHOICE
a.      Do you not know?
                                                                         i.      Those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple.
                                                                      ii.      Those who serve at the altar share in what's offered at the altar.

b.     In the same way the Lord has commanded
                                                                         i.      That those who preach the Gospel should receive a "living" from the gospel.

c.      I do not ask of you now, or ever
                                                                         i.      Paul makes it clear, he is not telling them this because he wants anything from them, and tells them he would not accept their support any way.


Paul says, I must preach the Gospel, woe unto me if I do not preach the gospel.

I do this either way, by my willingness to do so, or by compulsion of God.

If I do so willingly, then I have received my reward, but if I do so against my will, what is my reward?

Paul says he preaches the gospel of Christ without charge, for free, so that it is of his free will he preaches.

It is up to the church to do their part in taking care of the minister, without being forced or manipulated to do so.

Paul says I would rather die than manipulate God's people to offer me a living, so I work; however, this in no way relieves the church of God's command to do so.

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