A Worker is Worthy of His Wages?

What exactly did the Lord Jesus and Paul mean?

by Curtis Lee Hall
Written 10/21/2009
Revised 10/24/2009


Jesus said to the 12...

Matthew 10:7 "And as you go, preach, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
8 "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.
9 "Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts,
10 or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support."

Freely you received, freely give? Notice that the wages here is just what is necessary to sustain them? Food and covering? Where are salaries here? According to now-a-days evangelism, shouldn't someone who is raising the dead, healing the sick, and preaching the gospel get fulltime salaries, and quite substantial ones at that?

Jesus said to the 70...

Luke 10:3 "Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.
4 "Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way.
5 "Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace be to this house.
6 "If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.
7 "Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house.
8 "Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you;
9 and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you."

Wages=eating and drinking what is put before you? Isn't this clear? No other place in the gospels does Jesus talk about a worker being worthy of his wages. So how can we conclude He was talking about fulltime salaries? Again, we are talking about being sustained only, and that only while they were on a journey.

Let's go on...

Matthew 27:54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
55 Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him.

Mark 15:40 There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome.
41 When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

Luke 8:1  Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him,
2  and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
3  and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.

Does it say anywhere that these women gave Jesus or His apostles a monetary salary or anything like that? Jesus and His disciples were traveling on foot, ministering as they went. Of course they had to be sustained in food and covering, etc. This is what these women did. Even though Jesus could have just produced their needs miraculously. Let's think about that. Jesus preached and fed the 4000 and 5000. Did He receive wages from them? Did He require a salary before He would minister to them as so many professional ministers do today? Did the Lord take a collection or tithe before or afterwards? Didn't the Son of man have nowhere to lay His head (Matt8:20)? Are we not suppose to be like our Teacher, not greater?

Now it is quite possible that some people gave the Lord and His disciples some gifts in the form of money, since Judas did carry the money box (John13:29). But the gospels do not record anywhere this actually happening. Also, some of the funds in the money box could have came from the disciples themselves. Even after three years it is apparent that the disciples that were fisherman still had their boats and nets (John21:2-6).

Now let's look at what Paul said...

1 Timothy 5:17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.
18 For the Scripture says, "YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING," and "The laborer is worthy of his wages."

Paul quotes the Lord Jesus here. Does this nullify what Jesus meant, or does it nullify all the other things Paul said on this issue? What did Paul mean by wages? Is an ox not just sustained in his work while he is threshing? Does an ox store up grain or build barns to keep it in? Let's look at what else Paul said...

1 Corinthians 9:3 My defense to those who examine me is this:
4 Do we not have a right to eat and drink?
5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?
6 Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working?
7 Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?
8 I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things?
9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, "YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING." God is not concerned about oxen, is He?

Paul again mentions the ox. Notice verse 4, "Do we not have a right to eat and drink?" Is Paul talking about monetary salaries here? It appears obvious that he is talking about food and drink only.

Acts 20:17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.
18a And when they had come to him, he said to them...
Acts 20:28 "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
29 "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
31 "Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.
32 "And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
33 "I have coveted no one's silver or gold or clothes.
34 "You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me.
35 "In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, `It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Notice Paul tells the elders to 'shepherd' the ekklesia (church). The Greek word translated 'pastor' in Eph4:11 means shepherd. The elders are the overseers and shepherds. Paul never coveted anyone's silver, gold, or clothes. Can we say that of professional ministers today? Do you not know that the covetous will not inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor6:9)? Does what Paul says in 1Tim5:17-18 nullify what he orders the elders to do here? Or is it that 1Tim5:17-18 is being misinterpreted by many in regards to wages?

Paul also said...

2 Corinthians 2:17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.

1 Timothy 6:5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.
6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.
7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.
8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.

How come godliness is a means of gain to so many? How are they not peddling the gospel? The average pastor in the USA gets around $85,000 per year. The American so-called Christian church takes in around $100,000,000,000 per year! It is claimed that there are around 80 to 100 million believers in China. If we divide up what the American church takes in per year, we could give about $1000 to every Chinese believer! Yet many of our Chinese brothers and sisters do not even have one Bible in there whole community. It only takes $4 to send a Bible to China! The American church is clearly robbing God and the Lord's body. It is a disgrace. The American institutional church keeps over 95% of what it takes in for building cost and staff salaries. Is that what the collection of the saints is for?

1 Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also.
2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.

The collection is for the SAINTS!

2 Corinthians 8:13 For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality --
14 at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality;
15 as it is written, "HE WHO gathered MUCH DID NOT HAVE TOO MUCH, AND HE WHO gathered LITTLE HAD NO LACK."

Read all of 2Corinthians chapters 8 and 9. We are suppose to be taking care of the saints. We are not suppose to be using most of our resources building up some man's ministry and church building. This is exactly what Paul warned about.

Where is a pastor leading a local ekklesia (church) anywhere in the NT? Why in the epistles, did not Paul, Peter, James, Jude, or John ever address a pastor or presiding elder of an ekklesia in all their rebuking, correcting, and admonishing? They addressed their letters mostly to the saints, sometimes including the elders and deacons. In all their correcting of false teachings and practices, you would think they would have been rebuking the 'pastor' who is suppose to be in charge of doctrine and teaching? Or is it only in our man-made system that a pastor is placed at the head of the local ekklesia? It is quite obvious that the pastor is taking the place of a priest. The reformation of Martin Luther was only a partial one. There is much reformation left to be done.

Back to 'wages' again. Let's look at what John said...

3 John 1:5 Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers;
6 and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.
7 For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.
8 Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.

Strangers that went out for the Name? And we should support such men. We like to call them missionaries now-a-days. Another unbiblical term.

Organized institutional religion is a huge hindrance to the advancement of God's kingdom. It robs God, and it keeps Christians from becoming mature in Christ. People are not allowed to use their callings and giftings. They are usually told what openings there are for ministry in their church, and then how to perform such ministry. Did Paul do this to the ekklesia?

1 Corinthians 16:12 But concerning Apollos our brother, I encouraged him greatly to come to you with the brethren; and it was not at all his desire to come now, but he will come when he has opportunity.

Did Paul command or lord it over Apollos? No.

1 Corinthians 14:26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

Notice that no such thing as a so-called pastor has control over this? Each person has the right to exercise their gifting in the assembling of the ekklesia.

1 Corinthians 14:29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment.

Let the others pass judgement? But I thought the hired professional minister was suppose to pass judgement and decide who could speak and who cannot? What demonic lies the ekklesia has bought into! Yet this kind of control is practiced and preached from pulpits almost everywhere. And where do pulpits come from anyway? The doctrines of demons and men.

2 Corinthians 1:24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.

2 Corinthians 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake.

Do bond-servants get well paying fulltime salaries? I thought the greatest among us was suppose to be servant and slave of all (Mark10:42-45)? Would you pay your slave 85K a year? Let's get real. Were not the apostles the epitome of Christianity? Were they not our examples and leaders of the church. So, how great were their salaries?

1 Corinthians 4:9 For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.
10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor.
11 To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless;
12 and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure;
13 when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.

Could it be any clearer?! Hungry, thirsty, poorly clothed, and homeless!! And working with their own hands! Hmm, there's that working with your own hands again, and barely having food and covering. How come Paul didn't rebuke the ekklesia for not providing for the apostles better? Now-a-days the typical American church would just tell you that you must lack faith, you're not paying your (unbiblical) tithes, or maybe you are in disobedience to God to be in such a poor condition as the early apostles. Can you not see how far off we have become? The American church serves mammon. There are a few exceptions, but very few.

1 Thessalonians 4:9  Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
10  for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more,
11  and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,
12  so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.

"Work with your hands, just as we commanded you?" Was this epistle not written to the whole ekklesia of the Thessalonians, including the overseers?

Ephesians 4:28  He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.

Who is stealing from God, the poor, and the saints? Is it not the institutional so-called church that takes in billions and billions of dollars every year?

Something else to think about...

Acts 4:32  And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.
33  And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.
34  For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales
35  and lay them at the apostles' feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.

They would distribute to each as any had need? Do so-called church leaders do that today? What happens when you bring your money to the leaders today? To they distribute the money to the saints as each have need? No! Again, they keep almost all of it (over 95% in the USA) for themselves, for their ministries and their so-called churches. In other words, for their unbiblical man-made temples and salaries.

How much money did the apostles take or receive from the saints for themselves?

Acts 3:3  When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms.
4  But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, "Look at us!"
5  And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
6  But Peter said, "I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene -- walk!"

Peter did not possess silver and gold? How many professional ministers today will not minister by preaching, praying for the sick, running a Christian organization, etc, etc, unless they receive offerings and/or a fulltime salary first? They have made professional careers out of the gifts of God and the gospel. Did the early apostles do that?

In case you think silver and gold didn't mean money in Peter and John's day...

Acts 8:18  Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money,
19  saying, "Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."
20  But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!"

Silver was used for money. Peter condemns Simon for trying to buy the gift of God. But how many today are selling or peddling the gifts of God? They are FORCING people to buy the gifts of God, such as teachings, prophecies, and healings. Oh, how far we have drifted from the early disciples and ways of the Lord!

And what did Jesus say about professional ministers?

John 10:8 "All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.
9 "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
11 "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
12 "He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
13 "He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep."

Jesus called them 'hired hands'! These are Jesus' words, not mine. By definition they are hirelings (KJV). Anyone who is a paid shepherd is a hireling. Can it be any plainer? Also notice verse 10, that the thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Most say this is talking about Satan. Really? Satan is nowhere mentioned in all of this chapter! Read it again and see who Jesus is talking about. All who came before Him are thieves and robbers.

John 10:16 "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

One Shepherd! We are all priests (1Peter2:9), and Jesus is the only High-Priest.

Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;

2 Corinthians 12:14  Here for this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you; for children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.

The Lord said to the shepherds...

Ezekiel 34:4  "Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them."

A lesson to be learned...

Luke 22:35  And He said to them, "When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?" They said, "No, nothing."

- by Curtis Lee Hall

All scripture taken from the
New American Standard Update
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