I’ve long thought over the role of the modern day pastor. The current office is not the original intent. At the same time, whenever I read spoutings off on the modern pastor role, they tend to throw out the baby with the bathwater, which, you know, babies are annoying and everything, but still.
A recent guy I’m reading talks about 1 Timothy 5:17, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour.” This is a statement used to support the paying of pastors, which he attempts to deny.
First, he says that the Greek word used is not the usual Greek word referring to wages. This depends. Yes, there is a word that refers to wages but there is also a word that is more commonly used referring to paying money, and that is the word “honor” in 1 Timothy 5:17.
Second, there are charges in the NT for believers to honor each other and honor God etc. Therefore, it must always mean “respect.” This is true, the word is used that way, however, my Greek concordance also shows me that it is also frequently used in regard to paying money.
Third, he attempts to show that the context means we are to respect elders, not pay them. I would argue the exact opposite from the context. Ox eat the grain they tread, sounds like a physical payment to me. This point is further proven by looking at 1 Corinthians 9:9-11 (a passage he neglects to bring up) where the same analogy is used to refer to paying a guy for spiritual work. Granted, Paul refused the payment but he still says it is acceptable. “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (9:14).
Further, the anti-paid-pastor guy says that earlier in chapter five the church is to honor widows. He says this refers to respecting them. However, the context shows that Paul is literally talking about paying widows, putting them “in the number,” on the account sheet to provide for them.
It always bothers me when guys make points and neglect to raise the total context of their passages and words. Makes me suspicious of their agenda.
In all, I think pastors should endeavor to pay their own way, Paul is an excellent example of this sacrificial service. At the same time, the Bible seems to back up the notion of paying guys who help you. Christian love says to pay guys who don’t help you (Matthew 5:38-42) so I’d assume paying helpful people is also love!
Pastors should, however, be more concerned with their service to others and if reducing salary induces edification, go for it. Being paid is a right; foregoing it is a privilege.