Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #323b MP3 Audio File

Compensate Your Bible Teacher

Galatians 6:6

Delivered 07/31/2005

Today we're going to only look at one verse in Galatians, but we will look at other passages to support the principle that it teaches. I believe that this verse is teaching that the man who teaches the Bible should be paid by those he teaches. I do not approach this subject from a personal, but an exegetical perspective. I am committed to verse-by-verse exposition of the Scriptures. God gave us the Scriptures in book form, and I believe we should study them in their context-not pick out our favorite topics and neglect the rest. Well, in teaching verse-by-verse, this is the verse we come to this morning. I don't have an agenda to push, I am simply trying to be faithful in teaching the whole counsel of God.

Commenting on Galatians 6:6 Martin Luther wrote: "These passages are all meant to benefit us ministers. I must say I do not find much pleasure in explaining these verses. I am made to appear as if I am speaking for my own benefit."

Those of you who know me and have been around for a while know that I don't talk about money unless it's in the text. I am sensitive to the fact that there are many who, in the name of Christ and Christian ministry, line their own pockets with funds gained from gullible people. While this is a serious problem, it was not the problem the Galatians were dealing with.

What is your attitude toward finances and the local church? What do you think your responsibility is toward those who teach you the Word of God? Does your thinking line up with what the New Testament says about the believer and his responsibilities toward those who teach him?

If my paperboy charges the same thing as my doctor, I won't pay that; because I have a different value for those two things. That is the way the culture works. We price things according to our value. What am I willing to pay to have my car repaired? What am I willing to pay to have groceries? What am I willing to pay to have health insurance or health care? What am I willing to pay for a hamburger at McDonald's? All of those represent a certain value system. If that is true of the temporal things of this world, then what Paul is saying here is: What is it worth to you for those who labor in the things that are eternal, for those things that last forever?

Galatians 6:6 (NASB) And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.

We need to keep this verse in context so back up to verse:

Galatians 6:2 (NASB) Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.

Verse 6 seems to give another example of burden-bearing - namely the financial burden of Christian teachers. In this context of caring for one another, Paul instructs those who are taught to support (share in all good things) those who teach them. One way to bear the burdens of those who carry major responsibilities of teaching in the church is to support them financially so that they can be free for prayer and study.

Most commentators see this verse as an exhortation to pay your Bible Teacher, but there are a few who understand it differently. I'm going to share with you my opinion. Hopefully, it is an informed opinion, but it is just my opinion. That is why I am constantly exhorting all of you to be Bereans and search these things out yourself.

Acts 17:10-11 (NASB) And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.

Paul certainly was one with the gift of teaching and yet he commended the Bereans for not simply taking his teaching without comparing it with the rest of the Scriptures to see if those things he said were true. If they were not to take the word of an inspired teacher without looking into it themselves, how much more are you who sit under non-inspired teachers responsible to search the Word to confirm what is taught?

Let me add here that I am absolutely convinced that the Bible teaches the principle that you are to pay your Bible teacher. I am just not absolutely convinced that this passage teaches that, but I am pretty sure that does.

Lightfoot translates the sense of this: "I spoke of bearing one another's burdens. There is one special application I would make of this rule. Provide for the temporal needs of your teachers in Christ."

Adam Clark writes, "It appears that some of the believers in Galatia could receive the Christian ministry without contributing to its support. This is both ungrateful and base. We do not expect that a common schoolmaster will give up his time to teach our children their alphabet without being paid for it; and can we suppose that it is just for any person to sit under the preaching of the Gospel in order to grow wise unto salvation by it, and not contribute to the support of the spiritual teacher? It is unjust."

Galatians 6:6 (NASB) And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.

"Share" is from the Greek word koinoneo, which in this context means: "to share with, to provide for." We see this in Philippians 4:15, where Paul writes:

Philippians 4:15 (NASB) And you yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I departed from Macedonia, no church shared [koinoneo] with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone;

The word "shared" is the Greek word koinaneo, which means: "to share with others, communicate, distribute, be a partner." They were partners with Paul in the gospel ministry through their giving. They were helping spread the gospel.

God is laying down a principle here that those who are blessed by the word of God through faithful teachers are to provide for the physical needs of those teachers as a thanksgiving to God.

This is the principle God first set forth back in Old Testament time. The priests who offered the sacrifices in the temple received their food from the sacrifices. They were paid from the tithes that were brought by the Israelites.
This is a basic, though sometimes neglected, spiritual principle. Those who feed you spiritually should be supported by you financially. Paul repeated this principle in several other places. Probably the closest parallel to Galatians 6:6 is:

1 Corinthians 9:11 (NASB) If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you?

1 Corinthians 9 give us an in depth commentary on Galatians 6:6; so turn with me to 1 Corinthians and let's look at this passage.

Paul is answering the Corinthians questions on Christian liberty. Paul sets the example for us. He has just made the statement in 8:13 that he was willing to give up his rights for the sake of his brother:

1 Corinthians 8:13 (NASB) Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, that I might not cause my brother to stumble.

Paul goes on in chapter 9 to show that he practiced what he preached. Not only was he willing to lay aside his rights, he did lay them aside. In chapter 9 he illustrates in his own life the principle that he taught in chapter 8. In the first 14 verses of chapter 9 Paul expounds his right - which was to be paid for his labor. Then in verse 15-27 he demonstrates how he relinquished his right - he earned his own living.

1 Corinthians 9:3 (NASB) My defense to those who examine me is this:

The Greek word for defense is, apologia, and for examine is, anakrino; these are legal terms. He is on the defense, and he is making his answer to those charging him, or examining him. Grammatically, "this" could refer to verses 1-2 or to verses four and following. It seems best to take it as referring to what follows. Paul has already defended his apostleship and is now giving a defense of his rights.

Please understand Paul's purpose, he is not defending his rights so that he can receive what is due him. He is defending his rights so he can justify using himself as an example as one who has relinquished the rights that were lawfully his. Paul says that he has the right to be supported by the Church. He has the right to monetary remuneration for his service for the Lord. He has labored and is worthy of wages.

1 Corinthians 9:4 (NASB) Do we not have a right to eat and drink?

This is another rhetorical question that can be answered in the affirmative: of course everybody has the right to eat and drink. Nobody is under a moral obligation to starve himself to death. But Paul is not concerned with starving to death. His point becomes clear in verse 6. To clarify the meaning of the rhetorical question, the phrase "at the expense of the church" could be added to verse 4 & 5. The particular right that Paul wants to discuss is the right to receive remuneration for his ministerial services. The argument concerns the legitimacy of a paid ministry.

1 Corinthians 9:5 (NASB) 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?

Paul says that he has the right to have a believing wife and she also should be supported by the church. The adjective "believing" or "sister" in this verse reinforces what Paul said in 7:39; a Christian should only marry a Christian.

Paul had every right, just as did the other apostles, to be accompanied by a Christian wife. No doubt he did not exercise this right in order to devote himself completely, without distractions, to his task of building up the church of Christ (7:26, 32, 35).

1 Corinthians 9:6 (NASB) Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working?

Paul seems to be using a touch of sarcasm here. We could paraphrase: are Barnabas and I the only exceptions to the rule that ministers should be supported by their respective churches? In the beginning of his ministry in Corinth Paul and his associate, Barnabas, worked to support themselves. Paul's trade was tent making (Acts 18:3; 20:34; 1 Thess. 2:9; 2 Thess. 3:8). Notice here that not only Paul the apostle had the right of support, but also Barnabas who was never an apostle, but a Christian worker.

It would have been only right for the churches to support Paul as he ministered to them, but he did not want to be a burden to them or allow anyone to cast aspersions on the gospel by insinuating that he preached only for his own gain or comfort. There were most likely those in Corinth, and even some today, who would question that kind of a right.

Does anybody have the right to be supported by the Christian church? Paul answers that question in verses 7-14. He appeals to six different areas to prove the legitimacy of the right that he has just claimed. He appeals to custom, to Old Testament precept, to community justice, to precedent, to the priesthood, and to Christ's command. He first appeals to custom and gives us three illustrations. Each of these people live off their work.

1 Corinthians 9:7 (NASB) 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?

Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Do you sailors have to pay for your cruises? Do you have to support yourself while you're out at sea? No, the Navy gives you a pay check. Soldiers do not fight during the day and then work at a civilian job at night in order to support themselves.

"Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it?" The farmer does not have a side job in order to support himself. He makes his living off the farm.

Deuteronomy 20:6 (NASB) 'And who is the man that has planted a vineyard and has not begun to use its fruit? Let him depart and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man begin to use its fruit.

This refers to a man using the fruit of his vineyard, and even excuses him from military service if he has not yet enjoyed the fruit of a newly planted vineyard.

"Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?" The shepherd gets the benefit of the flock he shepherds. In any work the person who does the work has a right to live off of the work he is doing?

Examples from life are instructive, but Paul does not rest his case on self-evident observations. This is not only taught by custom, this is an Old Testament precept. And in verses 8-10 he makes his second appeal, and this is to the Old Testament law.

1 Corinthians 9:8-9 (NASB) 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?

"I am not speaking these things according to human judgement, am I?" - This is not just a human judgement, God's law teaches the same thing: "YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING." - The Israelite farmer spread his grain on an outdoor threshing floor, which was hard, smooth, and level. A flat board weighed down with stones or people was drawn over the grain by a team of oxen or horses that walked in circles around a post. The ox was permitted to eat as much grain as it desired while it was doing the heavy pulling. If a Jew muzzled the ox, he would run the risk of a scourging in the local synagogue.

This quotation comes from Deuteronomy 25:4, and from that context you can see that this text does not refer to animals, but to men and their service for God. The theme of Deuteronomy 25 is human compassion, decency, and fairness. It gives laws regarding dignity in punishment (25:1-3); a proverb on wages for work (25:4); care for widows (25:5-10); indecency (25:11-12); accurate and honest weights and measures (25:13-16); and the command to destroy the Amalekites for their unfair war against Israel (25:17-19). Not muzzling an ox, therefore, was probably a proverbial expression concerning just remuneration. Paul quoted this same verse when he wrote to Timothy and encouraged the church to pay their ministers adequately (1 Timothy 5:17-18).

If we show consideration for the needs of animals that serve us, how much more should we care for men who devote their lives to ministering to us? It is a church's responsibility to see that their minister is adequately paid for his work.

1 Corinthians 9:10 (NASB) Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops.

"Altogether for our sake?" - The word "altogether" is the Greek word pantos, and I believe should be translated: "assuredly." He is not saying that the command has exclusive reference to man. But what he is saying is that it was assuredly given for our sakes. Paul takes a figurative expression from the Old Testament, and he applies it to this principle. As the ox works, he is to have the freedom to eat some of the corn that he is treading out.

"The thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops."- A literal reading would be: he that thresheth (ought to thresh) in the hope of partaking ( of the fruit of his threshing). As the worker and the ox works in hope, so should the Christian worker. He should work in the hope that he will be supported in his work. This principle is supported by custom and has the sanction of scripture. In verse 11 he appeals to basic community justice:

1 Corinthians 9:11 (NASB) If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you?

The "if" is a first class condition in the Greek and could be translated: "since." Since I have taught you about the Lord, since I have taught you about spiritual things, since I have encouraged you in the word of God, shouldn't you provide material things for me?

Please notice here that this verse is talking about sowing and reaping just as our text in Galatians is. To me this is a strong indication that Paul is talking about the teachers remuneration in Galatians 6:6 just as he is in 1 Corinthians 9.

The Greek philosophers received an honorarium for their instruction, didn't Paul have the same right when teaching them spiritual things? Those who teach the Word of God have the right to expect support from those they teach. This is a basic principle of the Christian life: If we receive spiritual blessings, we should in turn share material blessings.

Romans 15:25-27 (NASB) but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. 27 Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things.

That is basic community justice. The Plymouth Brethren do not believe in a paid teacher in spite of this perfectly clear passage. Their teachers, therefore, cannot devote themselves to study- no wonder their dispensational.

Then in verse 12 he appeals to precedent:

1 Corinthians 9:12 (NASB) If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.

The word others discloses that they are people in the same category as Paul, namely, those who proclaim the gospel. The Corinthians apparently recognized that others did have this right (of support): perhaps Apollos or Peter. It is the height of irony and injustice that they would refuse these same rights to the one who was most of all responsible for their spiritual growth. If anyone has the right to support, surly it should be us we brought you to Christ. "Nevertheless, we did not use this right"-undisputable as this right was in the case of Paul, he did not exercise it. "But we endure all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ." - The word endure is stego; " to cover with silence, endure patiently, bear, suffer."

Paul put up with, uncomplainingly, whatever was necessary in order not to hinder the gospel. Paying his own way was one means of causing no hindrance to the gospel. Paul did not want new converts or potential converts to have reason to think he was preaching the gospel for money.

This policy was no doubt especially significant for Paul's work, because he, more than any other apostle, worked in areas where the gospel had not been preached. Those who are involved in evangelism should not try to be supported by the people they are trying to reach. The word hinder is a military term that connotes breaking up a road to impede the advance of a pursuing army.

Calling people to come to Christ and to give their money is offensive. Televangelists who keep phone numbers constantly on their viewers screens, are distracting from any message they might be trying to preach other than, "We want your money." Paul didn't want to hinder the gospel message, so he supported himself. After Paul underscores his rational behind his own refusal to exercise his right, he gives two more proofs of the legitimacy of the his right to be supported by the church.:

1 Corinthians 9:13 (NASB) Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share with the altar?

This is an appeal to the priesthood. "Do you not know?" - This question is a rebuke, they knew this. The principle that the priests should eat of the sacrificed animals was accepted in heathendom. But Paul naturally refers to the Old Testament. That was a Biblical principle that existed in the days of the Old Testament:

Leviticus 7:5-7 (NASB) 'And the priest shall offer them up in smoke on the altar as an offering by fire to the LORD; it is a guilt offering. 6 'Every male among the priests may eat of it. It shall be eaten in a holy place; it is most holy. 7 'The guilt offering is like the sin offering, there is one law for them; the priest who makes atonement with it shall have it.

The Levites lived off their work. They would partake of the offerings. That is how God ordained the Old Testament economy.

Then he turns to the highest authority of all, the command of Christ:

1 Corinthians 9:14 (NASB) So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.

The New Testament teaching reiterates that of the Old. Jesus taught that the labor is worthy of his hire. When the Lord sent out his apostles and the other 70, he taught this very basic principle:

Luke 10:3-7 (NASB) "Go your ways; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 "Carry no purse, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. 5 "And whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house.' 6 "And if a man of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him; but if not, it will return to you. 7 "And 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.

Paul writes that Jesus commanded his disciples to receive their living from the people to whom they ministered the gospel. This command calls for obedience, not from the ministers, but from the members of the church.

So Paul establishes beyond question the clear principle that: a Bible teacher has the right to be supported materially by the church.

Are all pastors qualified to be supported by the church? Are there any specific qualifications? Yes, I think they are given in:

1 Timothy 5:17-18 (NASB) Let the elders who rule well 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."

We are to support those elders who rule well. The word rule is proistemi, which means "to lead, care for, manage, guide, and protect." F.F. Bruce translates it as: "elders who direct the affairs of the church well." We are also to support those who work hard at preaching and teaching. That is those who give themselves to study of the Word of God. So we are to give to support the Bible teachers of the church.

Galatians 6:6 (NASB) And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.

The word Paul utilizes for "the one who is taught," is the Greek word katecheo, which is the word we use for catechize. Its basic meaning is: "to instruct." The use of the present passive participle demonstrates that Paul means these believers are involved in a regular, ongoing ministry of being taught the Word of God. It was not a sporadic participation, but a normal part of the Christian's life to be instructed in the Word of God. We will do well to maintain this practice.

We observe throughout the Bible the need for God's people to be taught. One of the most striking evidences for this is found in the book of Ezra. We find in the companion book of Nehemiah that the people of God would stand for hours to listen to the reading and exposition of Scripture (8:1-8). The very first group of believers brought to faith in Christ at Pentecost gave themselves continually to "the apostle's doctrine." In other words, they studied the doctrines of the Word on a regular basis (Acts 2:42). Timothy was told to take the things which he had learned and to "commit them to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (II Tim. 2:2).

Being a regular part of the study of God's Word and its exposition is the normal, biblical pattern for the Christian. To avail yourselves of this regular diet of the Word means that you will reap its benefits in the days ahead. To neglect the study of the Word, to absent yourself from the exposition of the Word, demonstrates unfaithfulness and places that person in the line of reaping the consequence of neglecting the Word.

While the believer is to be "taught," there are also those "who teach[es]." The church must exist on the basis of those who instruct others in the Scriptures. Let programs go! Let pageantry go! Let big organization go! But do not diminish the ministry of teaching the Word of God! And what is to be the content being taught? "And let the one who is taught the word" explains that it is the clear, unadulterated Word of God (Greek, logos) which is to be expounded regularly to others in the body of Christ. In a day when teaching the Word has taken a backseat to all sorts of other activities, we must be steadfast in its priority.

The word for "share" is a present imperative verb. This gives it the force of a command, not a suggestion. It also implies that this is to be the regular practice and duty of the Christian who is being taught. So we are to give to support the Bible teachers of the church.

How much are we to give? A Tithe? Does the Bible teach that we are to give 10%? I heard a radio preacher say, "I have doubts that a person who does not tithe is a Christian." He also said, "One who does not tithe is under the condemnation of God."

This is an area of great confusion in the Christian church. Is tithing God's mandate for Christians? How many of you have been taught at some time in your Christian lives that you were supposed to tithe?

Isn't it interesting that Paul devoted two whole chapters (2 Corinthians 8 & 9) to the subject of stewardship, and the word "tithe" is not mentioned? The church's teaching on tithing is legal, it is Old Covenant. I once attended a church that used a campaign slogan, "Tithing is Christian." That is wrong! Tithing is not Christian; it was for Old Covenant Israel, not New Covenant Israel, the church.

Tithing is taught in the Bible, in the Old Testament, but even in the Old Testament it was not giving. Giving was always voluntary in the Old Testament. The tithe was a debt, it was taxation, not giving. Just like on April 15 you don't send the IRS a gift, you pay your debt. It is required giving - if you don't pay it, you'll go to jail. Tithing was taxation under the Mosaic economy.

Tithing was taxation, not giving. Giving was always voluntary - that is, the amount given was voluntary. It is the same in the New Testament.

The tithe is never imposed on the New Covenant believer. We don't live in a Theocracy! I encourage you to get a concordance and look up the word "tithe" and its plural in the New Testament. You'll see that it is used only eight times; it is found once in Matthew and twice in Luke, each one is referring to the Old Testament law. It is used five times in Hebrews 7, speaking of a time before the giving of the law when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. Tithing is not mentioned in any of the letters to the Churches.

According to Deuteronomy 12, the tithe was to be paid in Jerusalem. So, if you think that you are under obligation to tithe, you're 2,000 years too late and 5,000 miles too far away. This is so clear in the New Testament that you have to be severely prejudiced to miss it. If we are not under the tithe, and we are not, how much are we supposed to give? Speaking about the subject of grace giving, Paul said that giving is to be proportionate:

2 Corinthians 8:12 (NASB) For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he does not have.

If you have a willing mind, you desire to give, but you have no money, your desire is accepted before God. If we are able, we have responsibilities, if we're not able, then we don't have responsibilities. Our responsibility is according to our ability. For the rich, the willing is measured by the deed. For the poor, the willing is accepted for the deed. The portion is incidental, the PROPORTION is what counts. Those who have less than enough are to receive from others who have more than enough:

2 Corinthians 8:13-14 (NASB) 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 want, that their abundance also may become a supply for your want, that there may be equality;

Those that have little, give the little that they can:

2 Corinthians 8:2-3 (NASB) that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. 3 For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord,

"THEY GAVE OF THEIR OWN ACCORD." The amount they gave was of their own choosing. They were in poverty, and yet they gave. Increasing prosperity should result in an increase in the amount given.

2 Corinthians 9:7 (NASB) Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.

What is the amount commanded here? "As he has purposed in his heart." They gave as they purposed to do. This is proportionate giving.

Since Christian workers have a right to receive wages from those to whom they minister, then Christian people have a responsibility, a duty to give financially to those who teach them. The laborer is worthy of his wages:

Galatians 6:6 (NASB) And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.

I see four implications of Galatians 6:6 that I want to mention briefly. First, teaching the word of God is essential in the church. We will not know the Lord as we ought if we go without sound teaching. Paul considered it essential.

Second, those who carry the main responsibility of teaching need freedom to study and meditate and pray. Finding the meaning of Biblical texts, discovering how that meaning fits with the totality of revelation, and seeing its relationship to contemporary life week in and week out is a glorious calling--but it takes time and effort.

Third, it follows that Bible teachers should be paid so that they do not have to do other work to support themselves. Some, like Paul, may renounce this right, but those who are taught the Word ought to be eager to free up their teachers financially. And for that, I thank all of you who support this ministry!

Fourth, when you give of your money to support the teaching ministry, you are fulfilling the law of Christ according to Galatians 6:2 (helping bear the teacher's burden).

If you do not share what you have with the church, it is because the church is of no real value to you. Deep in your heart you believe, "I don't need this; I can do it myself." But if you really believe the church matters, if it is important, then you need to share of your time, your talents, and your finances. That is what Paul is saying.

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