1 Timothy 5:17
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
Note 1 at 1Ti 5:17: Up to this point, the word "elder" was used in this chapter to denote those who were physically older. From this verse to the end of the chapter, the word "elder" refers to the ruling leaders in the local church (see note 3 at 1Ti 5:1).
Note 2 at 1Ti 5:17: Notice that Paul's instructions about giving a double financial blessing to spiritual leaders (see note 3 at this verse) was limited to the leaders who did a good job. This was not supposed to be purely a grace gift. It was a reward to those elders who ruled well. It is also important to remember that Paul was writing this letter to Timothy, the bishop of the church in Ephesus. These were instructions on how the head elders should treat their subordinate elders.
In many ways, our society has moved away from rewarding performance. In an effort to keep anyone from feeling left out, everyone is rewarded equally for varying levels of performance. This attitude removes motivation from high achievers and low achievers alike. It kills efficiency and tends to bring everyone down to the lowest common denominator. That is not what Paul was speaking of here. Some ministers perform better than others, and they should be financially rewarded accordingly.
Note 3 at 1Ti 5:17: The Greek word that was translated "honour" in this verse was "TIME," and it means "a value, i.e. money paid, or...valuables; by analogy, esteem" (Strong's Concordance). Paul was speaking of money. He was saying that ministers who do a good job should be paid twice as much.
This flies in the face of current thinking toward ministers and the salaries they earn. Many people feel that ministers should not make much money. They should only have the basics and all their rewards should come when they die and go to heaven. That is not what Paul was saying.
Something is wrong in society when people such as movie stars and sports figures are paid millions for entertaining us. They are applauded and envied for their lavish lifestyles. Yet, ministers who deal with our eternal souls are paid a mere pittance in comparison and are criticized if they possess anything of worth. That's misplaced values.
Ministers should not be in the ministry for the money they can receive, but they shouldn't be punished financially for being in the ministry either. It is encouraging for ministers not only to have their needs met but also to prosper above and beyond the basics.
Note 4 at 1Ti 5:17: The elders who do a good job are to be given twice the financial reward of ministers or elders who are only doing an average job (see notes 2-3 at this verse). Paul said this was especially true of the ministers who labored in the Word and doctrine. This is speaking of elders who teach or minister.
There are many ways people can be in full-time ministry and receive their livelihood from services rendered. Church administrators, musicians, visitation pastors, and many more who are called and anointed ministers are worthy of financial support for their services. Paul said that the ministers who labor in the Word and doctrine are especially worthy of our gifts. This is speaking of teachers and pastors who instruct the body in doctrine.
Many things are essential to spiritual growth, but none is more important than the intake of the knowledge of God's Word. The body of Christ would be vastly different today if it did not have ministers who devoted their time and energies to seeking God and bringing revelation knowledge to their brothers and sisters. The ministers who do a good job of helping us receive revelation knowledge from God's Word are worthy of "double honour."
Note 5 at 1Ti 5:17: Many people think that ministers shouldn't be paid much because they don't do much. This may be true of some ministers, but godly ministers who rule well work hard (see note 9 at Col 1:29). It is hard work to discipline oneself to constantly study God's Word. Plus, ministry involves so much more than just study and prayer.
Many ministers, especially pastors of small churches, are on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. They deal with the hurts and heartbreaks of others as few professionals do. They balance their time being an accountant, business manager, advertising agent, arbitrator, and many more positions along with the other responsibilities that go along with being in the ministry. In their spare time, they have the demands of their own lives and families just like everyone else. They live under public scrutiny as few people do. They are supposed to do all this with the apparent ease of the Lord, because they are His representatives on earth.
Ministers are sometimes criticized for taking a day off to golf or just spend time with their mates. One pastor announced to his church that Monday was going to be his day off. If someone was sick or had died, they would just have to wait until Tuesday to get in contact with him. A woman in his church came up to him after the service and rebuked him by saying, "Pastor, the devil never takes a day off." The pastor wisely replied, "Then if I don't take a day off, I'll be acting just like the devil."
Paul's point was don't underestimate the work of good ministers. If they do a good job, pay them well.
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