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Friday, January 20, 2012

Apostolic Traditions Regarding Giving: (Part One)

I am discovering that traditions of men are almost always contrary to apostolic traditions! Traditionally we have been taught that, in Christian ministry, giving should always flow from a large group of people to a small group of people and that the needs of the small group are to be met differently than are the needs of the large group. In this post, I simply ask you to consider some questions I’ve been asking myself as I’ve been seeking answers in the scriptures.  I hope this will spark your interest in searching the scriptures for your own answers and then hopefully we can discuss what we have discovered in future posts!

How are the needs of elders/overseers/pastors to be met? (Acts 20:28-35)
Do apostles, prophets, evangelists or teachers have a right for their needs to be met in a different manner than those of local elders/overseers/pastors?  Yes/No

If so, what scriptures set forth such a right?
If not, what scriptures teach the wisdom of the needs of both being met in the same ways? (Acts 20:33-35; II Thess.3:6-15)

Which apostles demanded or used such rights?  (Acts 6:2,4;  I Cor.9:4-6,12)

Which apostles did not demand or use such rights?  (Acts 20:33-35; I Cor.4:9-17;  I Cor.9:6,12,15,18;  II Cor.11:7-9; II Cor.12:12-19; I Thess.2:1-9; 4:9-12; II Thess.3:6-15)

Are there any good reasons to surrender such rights and not demand them?  (I Cor.9:12,15-18)

Did any apostle, whose needs were met differently than those of elders, teach others to follow his own example? Yes/No

Are apostles. prophets, evangelists, pastors or teachers to be hired, paid and even fired by other believers? Yes/No
If so, what scriptures would teach these things?
If not, who calls, appoints, sends and rewards apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers? (Matthew 10:16; 23;34; John 20:21; Acts 20:28-35; I Peter 5:1-4)
Who gave such men to the Body?  (Ephesians 4:10,11) Who is then responsible to see that they receive their hire or reward for their labour?  (Matthew 16:27; 20:1-16; I Cor.3:18; I Tim.5:18; Rev.22:12)

Are the financial and material needs of widows, orphans, the weak, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the imprisoned and the poor to be supplied by believers?  Yes/No
If not, what scriptures teach this?
If so, what scriptures teach this? How and by whom are such to be supported? (Matt.25:34-46; Acts 6:1-6; 11:27-30; 20:35; Rom.15:25,26; I Cor.16:1,2;  II Cor.8:13-15; 9:12; Gal.2:9,10;  Eph.4:28; I Tim.5:3-15)

 For what reason should some such not be given anything? (II Thess.3:10-15; I Tim.5:9-14)

What does scripture teach us…
- about “saving” for the future? (Matt.6:19,20;  10:7-12; Luke 10:1-8; I Cor.16:1-3; II Cor.3:13-15)
- about saving for known needs (i.e. storing crops for use in the winter when they won’t grow, for meeting the current known needs of one’s own children, elderly or widowed parents.)  (Prov.6:6-11; II Cor.12:14; I Tim.5:3-16)
-about saving for unknown needs (“for a rainy day”, for possible “emergencies” or catastrophes, for security in old age, for children’s education etc.)

“Saving” is not mentioned in scripture. But the Lord Jesus and the apostles did instruct us regarding “laying up”. Is “laying up” an equivalent to “saving”?  How is “laying up” the same as or different from “saving”?

Is fundraising (the act or occupation of asking, pleading, appealing or making known needs for funds) for ministry scripturally justified? Yes/No    If so, what scriptures teach us …
- how to do it? Acts 11:27-30; Phil.4:6
- to whom such appeals should be made? Matt.7:2,7,8,11,12;  Acts 11:27-30; Phil.4:6
- by whom such appeals should be made? Acts 11:27-3                                                                                                                         - the reasons for generous response to such appeals? Luke 6:28-38; II Cor.9:6;  Gal.6:7-10.
The reason why the promise of Phil.4:19 was made to  saints at Philippi and not to others is found in Phil.4:14-16! This is entirely in keeping with the teachings of Luke 6:28-38, II Cor.9:6 and Gal.6:7-10!
 - the reasons for which some such appeals should be rejected? Prov.1:22-33; II Thess.3:10

What scriptural commands teach how the needs of the following are to be met:
  -apostles?  -prophets?  -evangelists?  -pastors/elders/overseers?  -teachers?  -the poor?  -the weak?
  -widows?  -orphans?  -saints/believers?  All of the above are instructed by Matt.6:3,4 & 19,20;  Matt.7:2,7,8,11,12;  Luke 6:30,31,38; Acts 20:33-35;

What scriptural examples show (right or wrong) how the needs of the following have been met?
  -apostles?  -prophets?  -evangelists?  -pastors/elders/overseers?  -teachers?  -the poor?  -the weak?
  -widows?  -orphans?  -saints/believers?

Does any historical event or practice recorded in scripture establish an apostolic tradition which is incumbent on believers today, or must such responsibilities be established by an apostolic command?

What kinds of people are scripturally entitled to receive financial assistance? Poor saints Romans 15:25-27; those who preach the Gospel I Cor.9:9-14; those who teach Galatians 6:6;  faithful widows I Tim.5:3-14; elders who labour in the word and doctrine  I Tim.5:17,18

What apostolic traditions (commands of the Lord through the apostles) give us guidance in these matters? (the texts immediately above)

Who serves the Lord? Who are “the servants of the Lord”? (Col.1:1,2 with 3:24;  Romans 12:1,11)

Who is to “live of the Gospel”?  Who are those who “preach the Gospel”? (Evangelists?, Sunday school teachers?, parents who teach their children their need of a Saviour? Christians who are faithful witnesses to co-workers etc?)

What does “living of the Gospel” mean?  Does it mean -charging for preaching? - receiving a salary or wage for preaching?  - being hired to preach? - looking for one’s reward from the hand of the One who appointed the preacher? - something else?   If so, what does it mean?

What does the negative command “muzzle not the ox that treadeth out the corn” mean for us? 
-Does it mean positive commands such as: “Pay the apostle.” -“Pay those who preach the Gospel.” or “Pay the elders who labour in the word and doctrine” ?  If so, how are they to be paid, how much and by whom? 

Or does a negative command teach us there is something we are NOT to do?  If so, what are we NOT to do regarding apostles, those who preach the Gospel, or elders who labour in the Word and doctrine?  What does this mean in practical ways….how will this affect our care for such? 
   -When one literally muzzles an ox, what does he do and why does he do it?
   -When a believer or an ekklesia “muzzles” an apostle, a Gospel preacher, a teacher or an elder who labours in the word and doctrine? What do they do? Why do they do it?
Specifically, what are we NOT to do in this matter regarding apostles, Gospel preachers, teachers or elders?

Have you been surprised by any of the answers you have discovered in the scriptures? Feel free to share and comment on whatever you have learned in this regard in the "comments" section below or in an email to me at

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