1 Timothy 5:17-18-Financial Support of Pastors
In 1 Timothy chapter five, the apostle Paul addresses Timothy’s proper conduct to various groups in the Ephesian Christian community.
In 1 Timothy 5:1-2, he instructs his young delegate as to how to conduct himself with regards to both older and younger men and in addition his proper conduct with respect to older and younger women.
He follows this up with instructions as to the proper treatment of widows in the church in verses 3-16 and then, in 1 Timothy 5:17-25, Paul instructs Timothy as to the proper treatment of elders.
The apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 5:17 issues a command to the Ephesian Christian community through his young delegate and fellow pastor-teacher, Timothy.
In this verse, he commands that elders who lead correctly are worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at teaching the Word of God.
1 Timothy 5:17 Those elders who are leading correctly must be considered worthy of double honor. Specifically, those who make it their habit of working hard with respect to the Word, yes, teaching the Word. (My translation)
“Elders” is the adjective presbuteros, which refers to those who held the office of overseer, which could only be held by those men with the spiritual gift of pastor-teacher that had met the qualifications listed by Paul in 1 Timothy 3:1-7.
“Leading” is the verb proistemi, which is used with reference to the pastor’s authority over the Ephesian Christian community, which he exercises by teaching them.
The word conveys a leadership style characterized by loving care and expresses the idea that the Ephesian Christian community submits to the leadership of the pastor-teacher out of respect for his position of teaching the Word and the delegation of this authority by the Lord to him and not out of fear.
“Correctly” is the adverb kalos, which conveys the idea that the overseer or pastor-teacher is governing the household of God according to the standards of God’s Word and specifically with regards to teaching the Word of God to the household of God and operating in God’s love by the power of the Spirit.
“Must be considered worthy of double honor”expresses a general precept that the Ephesian Christian community must consider worthy of double honor those pastor-teachers who work hard at teaching the Word of God.
It denotes that they are to be characterized as considering worthy of double honor those pastors who worked hard at teaching them the Word of God.
The fact that Paul addresses this issue of remuneration of elders implies that there was a problem in the Christian community in Ephesus with regards to their attitudes towards pastor-teachers.
Undoubtedly, this was the direct result of the apostasy of many pastors in Ephesus, whom Paul discusses in 1 Timothy chapter one.
Of course, there were Christians who adhered to this command by Paul in 1 Timothy 5:17 and there must have been some that did not otherwise he would not addressed this issue in the first place.
Thus Paul simply communicating a general precept of the Word of God and the Lord and the apostles’ teaching without reference to whether there was a violation of this command or not.
“Honor” is the noun time, which means not only “to honor” in the sense of respect and valuing the role of the elders in teaching the Ephesian congregation the Word of God but also it denotes remuneration for fulfilling this function on behalf of the body of Christ.
The Ephesian Christian community is not only to show respect for those elders who worked hard at teaching them the Word of God but also was to provide for them financially.
This demonstrates how much they value what these elders do for them and their families.
That the idea contains the sense of remuneration is clearly indicated by the quotations that Paul uses in 1 Timothy 5:18.
In this verse, he first quotes from Deuteronomy 25:4, which says “you shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.”
This is followed by a quote from the Lord Jesus Christ that “the laborer is worthy of his wages” and this statement from our Lord is recorded in Matthew 10:10 and Luke 10:7.
“Double” is the adjective diplous, which speaks of both respect and remuneration with the former expressed by the latter.
In other words, a Christian demonstrates respect for the pastor who works hard teaching them the Word of God by reciprocating and paying him for his services. By doing, he also demonstrates how much he values this work on his behalf by the pastor.
Thus, the idea of providing generously for the pastor who works hard teaching the Word of God is not contained in this expression, which is supported by the quotations from the Law and the Lord.
Both do not refer to generous compensation for teaching the gospel but rather that one should be compensated for doing so.
The apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 5:18 cites two passages of Scripture to support his command in 1 Timothy 5:17.
he first is from the Old Testament, specifically from the Mosaic Law, namely Deuteronomy 25:4 and the second is from the New Testament, specifically from Luke 10:7, which is also found in Matthew 10:10.
The second quotation that Paul uses as support for his command in 1 Timothy 5:17 is found in Luke 10:7 and Matthew 10:10.
1 Timothy 5:18 Because the Scripture says, “you must absolutely never muzzle an ox while it does, at any time tread out the grain.” Also, “the worker is, as an eternal spiritual truth worthy, namely, of his pay.” (My translation)
This verse presents the basis for Paul’s command in 1 Timothy 5:17.
This indicates that Paul is basing his command in 1 Timothy 5:17 on the teaching of Scripture.
The first piece of Scripture that the apostle uses to support his command in verse 17 is Deuteronomy 25:4 and second is from the Lord Jesus Christ’s teaching, which is recorded in Luke 10:7 and Matthew 10:10.
The former teaches that one must not muzzle an ox while it is threshing out the grain and the latter is that a laborer is worthy of his wages.
Therefore, Paul in 1 Timothy 5:18 presents two reasons why elders who work hard teaching the Word of God must be considered by the congregation as worthy of double honor, i.e. respect and remuneration.
“You must absolutely never muzzle an ox while it does, at any time tread out the grain” is quotation from quotation from Deuteronomy 25:4.
Originally, the command in Deuteronomy 25:4 was given out of concern for oxen employed by the citizens of Israel.
The ox was driven over a threshing floor and by doing so would separate the grain from the stalk and chaff with its hooves.
The animal was allowed to eat some of the grain.
If the farmer gains from the work of the ox, he should allow the animal to sustain itself.
In 1 Timothy 5:18 and 1 Corinthians 9:1-14, Paul teaches from this command in Deuteronomy 25:4 that if the animal is allowed to sustain itself by the work it provides for the farmer, should not pastor-teachers sustain themselves by the work they perform for their congregations.
The apostle Paul teaches the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 9:1-14 that they are to support pastor-teachers financially by employing the figure of a fortiori and applying the reasoning from this command in the Mosaic Law concerning provision for oxen to the pastor-teachers who taught them the Word of God.
If God is concerned about oxen, then the argument of a fortiori teaches how much more is He concerned about those who serve them by teaching them the Word of God.
So Paul brings out the ethical and spiritual implications of Deuteronomy 25:4 for the Corinthians.
If God wants oxen to partake of grain that they thresh, how much more should pastor-teachers benefit materially and financially from those they serve by teaching them the Word of God.
This quotation is an emphatic prohibition and refers fastening a strap or metal piece over the mouth of an animal to keep it from eating the grain that was being threshed.
The muzzle was forbidden because it was cruel and inhumane to walk an ox over the grain all day and never allow him to satisfy his own hunger.
Paul applies this word to those who work hard teaching the Word of God.
He teaches that just as God forbid the Israelites from muzzling their oxen when the animal was threshing out the grain, so the Christian community should not do the same by not paying them for their services of teaching them the Word of God.
As it was cruel to muzzle the ox, it was equally cruel for the Christian community to not provide for their pastor-teachers’ financial and material needs.
Not only does 1 Timothy 5:17-18 teach that the Christian community is to support financially those pastors who are teaching them the Word of God but the rest of the New Testament does as well.
Both the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles taught that those who teach the gospel should be provided for financially by their congregations as payment for their services of teaching them the Word of God (cf. Matt. 10:1-10; Luke 10:1-7; 1 Cor. 9:1-14).
Galatians 6:6 The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. (NASB95)