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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, May 27, 2016

1 Corinthians (Lesson 26)



Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                     Published weekly on Friday
                                                          
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4

1 Corinthians                                                                         (Lesson 26)

 “It’s essential to know what the Bible says, and what the Bible doesn’t say.”

Last week we began looking through the Scriptures to see what God said, through our Apostle Paul, on the subject of tithing in the Dispensation of Grace.  Far too many Christians are being misled if not “fleeced” by some people in the church.  For instance, I knew a widow; she was 77 years old, living alone in a two bedroom mobile home.  She gave her entire social security check to a T.V. Evangelist because on his broadcast he said the more a person gave the more God would bless the individual.  She took his message to heart, evidently, and gave everything she had, because he also said the need was great…  However, she had nothing left over to pay her monthly expenses:  rent, groceries, electric, water, phone, etc.  She couldn’t pay her medical bills or buy her medications; and I assure you God does not intend for her to live like this, while this evangelist flies around in a Leer jet, drives one of four expensive cars, goes home every afternoon to an 8 million dollar mansion, and enjoys a 7 figure annual salary. 

The blessing she received was when her daughter and son-in-law got wind of what was going on and stopped this woman from being taken advantage of. 

Our Apostle Paul states in 2 Corinthians 9:10 that God gives us what we need so we can support those who feed us spiritually, i.e. teach us God’s Word:  The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him (or her).
(Galatians 6:6)

Paul’s saying those who are blessed by the Word of God through faithful teachers and preachers are to provide for the material needs of these people as a thanksgiving to God.  Paul speaks of proportionate or balanced giving, each person giving of their own accord, according to their ability, as each one has purposed in his (or her) heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion (pressure), for God loves a cheerful giver.
 (2 Corinthians 8:2-3, 13-14, 9:7)

Paul also wants us to know if we have a willing mind, if we have the desire to give, but find ourselves short of funds and unable to meet this need, our desire alone is an acceptable gift before God the Father:   For if the readiness is present, it (the desire) is (what) acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he does not have (2 Corinthians 8:12).

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Please open your Bible at 1 Corinthians 9:14. 

Paul has shown us that the Levites lived off of their work in the temple, partaking of the animal sacrifices and the offerings of the land.  This is how Jehovah ordained it.  But now Paul says this is also the command of Christ, and if you know your Bible then you know these two members of the Godhead are One and the same:

1 Corinthians 9

14: So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.

Paul quoted Jesus as often as he could, so this is probably a reference to Jesus’ own words when He said:  …the worker is worthy of his support.  (Matthew 10:10b; Luke 10:7)  Jesus Christ declared this arrangement was the proper method of support for His workers. 

I want to point out one additional thing from verse 14 before we press on and that’s these three words, “get their living.”  This means those who teach and preach the Word of God should not expect to become wealthy from performing this service to mankind.  Put another way, it means those who preach and teach God’s Word should be able to live a lifestyle similar to those to whom they are ministering.
 
No preacher or teacher of the Word of God has a right to “make a gain” of preaching the gospel with the goal of making it a lucrative enterprise.  Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:17-18 answers this and stands as a rebuke to those preachers and teachers who have taken advantage of the “untaught” churchgoers and became wealthy off of God:  Certainly I have not taken advantage of you through any of those whom I have sent to you, have I?  I urged Titus to go, and I sent the brother with him.  Titus did not take advantage of you, did he?  Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit and walk in the same steps?

To those who say, “But that was then, according to Paul’s day, and this is now.  The Bible is out-of-step with the times.”  Paul said:  For the word of God is (what) living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing the soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).  The Bible was completed approximately 1900 years ago, yet its accuracy and relevance for today remain unchanged.  The Bible is the sole objective source of all the revelation God has given His creation about Himself and His plan for humanity.  It is not out-of-step with the times.  The Bible is exactly what mankind needs for today and tomorrow. 

Permit me to put it this way:  I don’t own a jet plane, so my pastor shouldn’t need one.  I’m not chauffeured to work, so my pastor shouldn’t expect to be driven to work by a paid driver in a stretch limo.  I have a roof over my head so my pastor should expect to have one as well, but not three homes located in different areas of the country, each one worth several million dollars.  My annual salary is nowhere near 7 figures, so my pastor shouldn’t expect his to be anywhere near that number.  By the way, these aren’t exaggerations.  These are the facts.  There are quite a few renowned church leaders living in luxury today off of God and the tithes of unsuspecting Christians who are relatively poor in comparison.  Now, who's robbing God?

I’ve attended church where a basket was placed in the rear of the sanctuary and at no time during the service did the pastor mention it was time to give or take up the tithe.  The congregation understood, as they passed by this basket they could place a “gift” in it, or not, of whatever amount they had purposed in their heart.  I’ve also attended assemblies where no collection was taken up at all.  The pastor simply mentioned, if a person felt inclined to give, the mailing address was posted inside the church pamphlet.  The pastor remarked whether people gave or not, he was convinced that God would supply all the church’s needs…”  Now, that’s faith!  But other church leaders across America continue to mislead their congregations week in and week out on the non-Church doctrine of tithing, distorting God’s Word intentionally or unintentionally. 

On any given Sunday there will be numerous men-of-the-cloth, so to speak, bellowing from the pulpits and from the airwaves that people are “robbing God,” and being “cursed with a curse” because they have failed to pay God His 10% from their paychecks (Malachi 3:8-10).  However, if you read Malachi 1:1-4, you’ll see that this book is written to the nation of Israel and has nothing to do with us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace, aside from the fact it’s there for “our learning.” 

People do not have the right to use this passage from the Old Testament, or any other for that matter, to shame us into tithing.  This is called proof-texting.  Many times when someone discusses what the Bible teaches they may use a Proof Text, and it’s possible they are unaware of what they’re doing.  But all too often they are very much aware of what they are doing, and this takes us into another area called “false teaching.”  But, Proof texting uses certain short passages, many times only a single verse, pulled from somewhere in the Bible in support of a particular belief, Church Doctrine, or personal agenda.  The problem with this is this method can lead to wrong conclusions regarding what is the truth of God, as it does here with tithing.   

Here are some shocking truths about tithing doctrine, which isn’t really a doctrine at all:

1)      Abraham never tithed on his own personal property or livestock.  His tithe consisted of booty taken from conquered nations.  And he only did this once.
2)      Jacob wouldn’t tithe until God blessed him.
3)      Only Levite priests could collect tithes, and there are no Levite priests today.
4)      Only food products from the land were tithable.
5)      Money was never a tithable commodity.
6)      Christian converts were never asked to tithe anything to the Church.
7)      Tithing in the Church first appears centuries after completion of the Bible; which occurred in 367 AD, meaning man came up with this idea and not God. 

In verse 14 Paul establishes beyond question the clear principle that:  a Bible teacher and a preacher of the Word has the right to be supported materially by the church, but he does not have the right to become “rich” off of God, or God’s people, and he never mentions the word tithe once (1 Timothy 5:17-18).

Moving on to verses 15-18, Paul speaks of practicing the principle of self-denial.  We’ll look at verses 15 first. 


1 Corinthians 9

15: But I have used none of these things.  And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one.

Why Paul Practiced Self-Denial

Reason #1:  Because of his call to preach the gospel without charge (9:15-18).

I have used none of these things (v15).  Paul did not use his apostolic authority for personal gain, nor did he write these things in order to persuade the Corinthians to support him.  If you’ll recall, Paul had the gift of singleness (7:7); this lifestyle enabled him to meet his own needs without all the unnecessary distractions that might have kept him from his ministry.  Even though this added to his burden, he was able to forego the support of the churches.  Paul adds that he was not writing these things so that it will be done so in his case – he was not asking for their support.

…it would be better for me to die (v15) Paul’s saying he’d rather die from a lack of support than be deprived of the privilege of preaching the gospel, without charge, and as he’s mentioned previously without causing a hindrance to the gospel (v12).

My boast(v15) here Paul means to “glory” or “rejoice” in something:  Kauchema in the Greek language; (pronounced:  kow’-khay-mah), Noun Neuter, Strong’s Greek #2745.  This was not prideful boasting, as some assume, but legitimate rejoicing or glory in what God had called him to do (Acts 9) and that was to preach the gospel and he did this without expense to any one (v18).  But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting (Kauchema) in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another (Galatians 6:4; Hebrews 3:6).

Paul was able to practice self-control, pursuing a course of self-denial that would ultimately result in his joy and happiness, referring to his reward in heaven (9:23-27).  Any man” would have made this null and void, if he had supported Paul in his ministry, and exposed him to the charge of having preached the gospel for profit. 

Let’s go to verses 16-18 now. 

16:  For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

17: For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.

18: What then is my reward?  That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

In verse 16 Paul’s actually saying, if he preached the gospel spontaneously, there was no question about his reward, but even if “against his will,” he was responsible, for the glorified Lord Jesus Christ had committed to him alone “the dispensation of the grace of God. In other words, Paul could have said: “If I don’t want to, it doesn’t make any difference.  My service is compulsory.”  This doesn’t sound commendable, at first.  But taking into consideration he didn’t volunteer to be the apostle to the Gentiles; he was called and/or chosen.  However, that inner compulsion he speaks of is one of the ways a person’s calling is confirmed.  In effect, Paul is saying, “I have to do this; it’s my calling.”

God made it abundantly clear in Acts 9:15 that the gospel belongs to all people.  This not only made Paul responsible to preach the gospel it also made him say, “I am under obligation (a debtor) both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish…” (Romans 1:14-17).

What is this verse saying?  How could Paul help it if people were lost (means:  lacking a relationship with Jesus Christ)?  Paul could not help it if people were lost, but he could help it, if due to his lack of concern, they were not saved.  This is what Paul meant by saying, “for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel (v16).  Paul felt a deep obligation (debt); he felt he “owed” the gospel to every unsaved person. 

Ironically, at one point in his life he felt an obligation to persecute every Christian he could find; but later, after his encounter with the glorified Jesus Christ on the Damascus road, he felt an obligation to preach God’s good news to the lost.

17: For if I do this (preach the gospel) voluntarily I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 

18: What then is my reward?  That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

The reward for Paul was not financial support in exchange for his preaching the gospel, but instead was a spiritual blessing.  Paul is saying that he does not ask for or seek financial support as a condition for preaching God’s good news to the lost.  The
Corinthians, who have been ministered to by Paul, should have been motivated out of compassion to provide him material support, as they most likely did the other leaders.

The Church needs more men like Paul today – a rare man of God indeed!  He felt rewarded if, working as a tent-making to support himself, he could preach the Word without any mention of personal needs and we all know he had personal needs.  But his generosity of spirit did not involve material things alone.  For Paul sacrificed more than money to win lost souls to Jesus Christ. 

*If anyone has any questions pertaining to this Bible lesson or one of the previous lessons, please submit them to:  TruthisTold3@GMail.com

(To be continued)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved




Friday, May 20, 2016

1 Corinthians (Lesson 25)



Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                     Published weekly on Friday
                                                          
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4

1 Corinthians                                                                         (Lesson 25)
Introduction to Chapter 9

Paul had stated in 1 Corinthians 8:13 his willingness to deny himself to keep his brethren from stumbling.  This Christ-like standard has led him to speak on it further.  At verse 9:27 he offers an illustration to show his readers this was more than an opinion it was a principle he practiced.

It’s also obvious from reading the Bible text that both Paul’s apostleship and his leadership were under attack by some of the groups in the Corinthian church (1:12-13).  Thus, this chapter is devoted to the discussion of the rights afforded to them by the written Law, i.e. to financial and material support by their congregations.  Then the remainder of the chapter is taken up by Paul’s explanation as to why, in his own case, he did not require the Corinthian saints do fulfill this responsibility to him.

As to Paul’s apostleship, there are two extended passages in which he defends his position as an apostle of Jesus Christ.  They are Galatians 1:11-2:9 and 1 Corinthians 9.  In Galatians he relates the official facts of his apostleship and in 1 Corinthians 9 he gives Believers the sensible truth.

In Galatians, he tosses his certificate of apostleship onto the conference table, figuratively speaking (Galatians 1:11-12), and proceeds to prove using one argument after another that the gospel he was sent to preach was neither “of men” nor “by man,” but was received directly ”by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

The strongest evidence in defense of his apostleship is found in Galatians 2.  Here Paul relates how 14 years after his initial visit to Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-28; Galatians 2:17-18) he went up to Jerusalem by revelation; he was sent there by the Lord in other words.  Why?  Did he go there to check in with the twelve apostles to make sure he was preaching the same gospel as they were?  No so much!  Let’s read what he had to say:  It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles… he did this to prove without a doubt that his gospel was not the same as theirs, for he adds:  but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.  (Galatians 2:2; Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Let’s be real.  Why would a private meeting with the Jewish leaders be necessary if his message was the same as theirs?  In verse 3, he remarks that he brought his brother in the faith Titus with him, a Gentile Believer, as a test case, if you will, and he did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour (praise God for this) so that the (what) truth of the gospel would remain with you (v5) .

But from those who were of reputation… contributed nothing to me (or God’s gospel).  But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised – and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James, Cephas (Peter), and John (in that order) who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised (the Jews; – v6-9).

The leaders of the Apostles in Jerusalem, James (Jesus’ brother), Cephas, and John agreed from then on to minister to the nation of Israel and recognized Paul and his co-workers as the apostle to the Gentiles.  The Bible student should understand by this act, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the commission of the earthly Jesus to His twelve apostles, was superseded by that greater commission given to the Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 5:14-21).  Within a few years, the Gospel of the Kingdom, within God’s Prophetic Program, fades from the scene altogether leaving Paul’s gospel as the one and only gospel that saves in the Dispensation of Grace (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

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Please open your Bible at 1 Corinthians 9:1-2 where Paul provides sensible evidence of his apostleship to the divisive Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 9

1: Am I not free?  Am I not an apostle?  Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?  Are you not my work in the Lord?

2: If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

The word apostle in the Greek language is Apostolos (pronounced:  ap-os’-tol-os), Noun masculine, and it means - one whom God has sent on an errand or with a message.  An apostle is accountable to his Sender and carries the authority of his Sender.  While Jesus Christ was here on earth, He personally selected twelve men and gave them an “apostleship;” i.e. the office of an apostle.  They received special responsibility to spread His message of the gospel of the kingdom during His time here on earth and after His ascension (Mark 3:14-15; John 17:1-5; Acts 10:39-40). 

Months later, Saul of Tarsus, one of the Pharisees, was zealous in his persecution of God’s church, but while on his way to Damascus to destroy the church there, the glorified Jesus Christ appeared to him.  This undeniable encounter with the resurrected Lord revolutionized Saul’s life (Acts 9:15, 22:14-15).  Following his conversion, Saul spent 3 years in the desert of Arabia, where he was taught by the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12-17).  Saul changed his name to the Greek “Paul,” and Jesus sent him forth to the Gentiles or the uncircumcised primarily, but also to the Jews:  for now there is no difference. 

In verse 2 Paul is saying the Corinthian’s themselves were the seal of his apostleship, meaning if they deny his apostleship, they deny their very own existence:    In Paul’s day a seal was a blob of wax into which a signet ring was pressed to seal a letter or official document.  It signified a couple of things to the recipient; #1:  It was assurance that the letter or document had not been opened during transit.  #2:  It showed who owned the contents.  #3:  It showed the genuineness of the contents; that it was sent by the right person.  Paul is saying, Are you not my work in the Lord?

Let’s go to verses 3-6.

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?

In other words Paul is saying, “Would you examine me?  Am I on trial?  Let me ask you a few questions instead… beginning with this:  Do we not have a right to eat and drink?  The right to eat and drink is a figurative reference to financial support.  It means to eat and drink at the expense of others.  Paul uses the word “right six times in this chapter making it the central issue.  Paul is saying, “I have the right to receive financial support from those who I minister to.” 

Paul continues his case in verses 5-6 by raising two other issues:  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?  And don’t I have the right to refrain from working (to provide for my own needs).  All of these questions posed by Paul are rhetorical but expect a positive response.  Every apostle of the Lord has the right to marry and to cease working, so they can devote their time and energy to their ministry (Acts 6:1-4).

In verses 7-14 Paul continues his case, giving five reasons why he has a right to be supported by the churches to which he ministered; why he shouldn’t have to work at a trade to earn a living, in addition to performing God’s work.  He begins by appealing to their common sense in 3 illustrations taken from everyday experiences in everyday life:    

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?

10:  Or is He speaking altogether for our sake?  Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plow-man ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops.

11: If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?

12: If others share the right over you, do we not more?  Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.

13: 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 from the altar?

14: So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.

While this apostle of God had toiled tirelessly among them, the Corinthians had been thoughtless and inconsiderate; they let him work with his own hands in order to earn enough money to pay for his daily needs, under the most difficult circumstances, while they reaped all the blessings.  Paul was doing all the “giving,” while they were doing all the “taking!”  Were they unfamiliar with Roman law and the Old Testament Scriptures? 

Paul asked them:  Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense?  Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it?  The farmer doesn’t have a side-job in order to support himself and his family.  He makes his living off of the farm (Deuteronomy 20:6).  Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?  The shepherd benefits from watching over the sheep.  In any work the person doing the work has a right to live off of the work they perform.

God said:   “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING.”
This phrase comes from the Pentateuch.  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 while it was threshing, he would run the risk of a scourging in the local synagogue.

That explanation comes from Deuteronomy 25:4, and from that context it’s plain to see the LORD God’s not really speaking about animals.    The theme of Deuteronomy 25 is human compassion, decency, and fairness.  This is written for our sakes, because the plow-man ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops.   As the worker and the ox both work together in hope, so should those who preach or teach God’s Gospel.  They should work in the hope that they will be supported in their work.

In verse 11 Paul asks, if we sowed spiritual things in you, (and at such a cost) is it too much if we reap material things from you?   This verse speaks of sowing and reaping. Paul has covered this subject before in his letter to the Galatians 6:6:  The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.

The Greek philosophers received an honorarium for their instruction, the Corinthians were well aware of this fact, didn’t Paul, an apostle of the Lord, have the same right when teaching spiritual things?  Flip over to the book of Romans 15:25-27 with me, please.  I want to show you what Paul wrote to the church there:  but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints.  For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.  Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them.  For if the Gentiles have (what) shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things.

God’s Word teaches us that spiritual things are more important than physical things.  The things of God will last forever whereas physical things are only temporary (Col 3:2). 

Let’s go to verse 12.

1 Corinthians 9

12: If others share the right over you, do we not more?  Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.

Don’t just pass over the word others in this verse it discloses that there are other people in the same category as Paul (those who proclaim the gospel) whom the Corinthians recognized as having this right of support.  This could have been either Apollos or Peter (Cephas) or both.  Yet, their saying Paul is not worthy of this same right even though he is the masterbuilder; he laid the foundation of Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead, according to the Scriptures, and is responsible for their spiritual growth (3:10, 15:1-4). 

In verse 12 Paul sets the example for these Corinthians again by practicing what he preached.  In verse 8:13 he said he was willing to give up his rights for the sake of his brother, so that he will not cause him to stumble.  Here in v12, not only was he willing to lay aside his right to financial support, he did lay it aside so that this right did not become a hindrance to the gospel of Christ.  The word hinder is a military term that means breaking up a road to impede the progress of an advancing or pursuing army.

Paul didn’t want the Corinthians spreading gossip to the effect that he preached the gospel merely for financial gain.  Thus, he endured all things, Stego in the Greek language (pronounced:  steg’-o), Verb; (Strong’s Greek #4722) meaning - to bear, to cover over with silence.  Paul worked as a tentmaker in addition to ministering, so that no one could accuse him, credibly, of exploiting his rights of an apostle.  Even false accusations would have hindered the gospel in many ways. 

Now I need to show you what this book says about Paul not accepting money for ministering from the churches, so y ‘all won’t get the notion that I’m making this stuff up as I go along…  Please turn with me to the book of Acts at chapter 20, and we’ll drop in at verse 32, where Paul wrote:  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.  “I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes.  You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me (Acts 18:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9). 

This was Paul’s standard practice and it was especially important to his ministry because he worked amongst the pagans in areas where the gospel had not been preached.  His asking for financial support in these areas could have proved to be a hindrance to potential converts.  These folks might hesitate to listen to what he had to say, or even accept the gospel, if they thought they had to “donate” money to support the ministry.  Paul put the gospel of Jesus Christ first and he supported himself in order to avoid any potential hindrance to the gospel.  No one could rightfully claim he was in it for the money.

Let’s go to verse 13 where Paul gives additional proof of the legitimacy of his right to be supported by the church:

1 Corinthians 9

13: 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 from the altar?

This question, “Do you not know,” is a rebuke.  Of course they knew.  It was common knowledge that those who ministered in both the pagan temples as well as the Jewish temple received their support from the proceeds of the temple. 

The concept of supporting God’s servants dates back to the Old Testament.  In verse 13 Paul is referencing the Levites who lived off their work.  Turn with me to Leviticus, chapter 7:5-7:  ‘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.  ‘Every male among the priests may eat of it.  It shall be eaten in a holy place; it is most holy.  ‘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 word share in verse 13 is from the Greek word koinoneo, (pronounced:  koy’-no-neh’-o), a Verb, which in this context means: to share with, to provide for - Strong’s Greek #2841.  We see this in the Philippians passage where Paul writes:  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; (Philippians 4:15).

God is simply re-enforcing a principle He laid down initially in the O.T.  The priests dutifully working in the temple of God offered the sacrifices there and received their food from these sacrifices.  In Old Testament times the priests and Levites were given no portion of land to cultivate like the other Israelites.  They were to live from the offerings brought to the tabernacle (and later the temple) for sacrifice.

This book says the system of biblical tithing was part of the Law and only to the tribe of Levi (Numbers 18:21).  This tithe (or tax) consisted of all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or the fruit of the tree (Leviticus 27).  Their support came from the tithes that were brought by the children of Israel (Numbers 18:24-28).  To be specific no money changed hands only livestock, grain, fruit, oil, and the like.  These items could be exchanged for money, if the person desired, but at a loss according to Scripture (Leviticus 27:31).
To teach that tithing is one’s Christian duty in this dispensation is wrong.  Tithing is taught in the Bible, but only in the O.T.  But even in the O.T. it was not giving.  Giving was always voluntary in the O.T.  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; a tax.  It’s required giving.  Tithing in the O.T. was similar in that it too was taxation under the Mosaic economy.

I’ve been teaching since day one that Paul’s writings are the place to go when you have questions about Church Age Doctrine or if you have questions concerning you’re responsibilities as a member of Christ’s body.  So, this is the ideal time to teach that the Body of Christ (the church) is not obligated to tithe (give 10% of your income regularly). 

Paul used two chapters of his second letter to the Corinthians to speak on stewardship (8 & 9) and he never mentioned the word tithe once.  You will find the word “tithe” mentioned elsewhere in the N.T.; once in Matthew, and twice in Luke, each one referring to the O.T. law.  Paul used it 5 times in Hebrews chapter 7, speaking of a time before the law when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek.  An interesting point to mention about this is Abraham didn’t tithe from his own property but rather from the “booty” taken from conquered nations; and this only once.  But tithing is not mentioned in any of Paul’s letters to the churches.

Let’s go to 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 to see what Paul says:  Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you do also.  On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he (or she) may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. 

Paul was collecting donations for the poor saints in Jerusalem at this particular time, but if you’ll read the text carefully Paul never instructs these Believers to tithe.  He said, each one is to put aside and save as he (or she) may prosper, meaning it’s their choice.  They we’re under no compulsion to surrender 10% of their income. 

If we’re under no compulsion to tithe, and we are not, how much are we to give?
Speaking on the subject of Grace giving, our Apostle Paul said giving is proportionate.
Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 8:12:  For if the readiness is present, it is (what) acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he does not have.

What in the world does this mean?  I’m glad you asked.  Paul is saying, if you have a willing mind, you have the desire to support those who feed you spiritually, but you don’t have the money to do this, your desire alone is an acceptable gift before God.  If a person is financially secure, then they have responsibilities, as they are able.  If a person is not able, then they don’t have responsibilities.  Our responsibility in this matter is according to our ability.  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. 
 
Paul explains this principle in 2 Corinthians 8:13-14:  For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality-- 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:  that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.  For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord, (2 Corinthians 8:2-3).

According to their ability… they gave of their own accord – this means the amount they gave was of their own choosing.  They were in poverty, and yet they gave a little.

Each one must do just as he purposed in his (or her) heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).  What amount did Paul mention here?  “…as he purposed in his (or her) heart.  They each gave as they purposed to do.  This is proportionate (balanced) giving.  

Paul states in 2 Corinthians 9:10 that God gives us what we need so we can continue to support those in the ministry.  Paul’s saying those who are blessed by the Word of God through faithful teachers and preachers are to provide for the physical needs of these people as a thanksgiving to God. 

Wherever you’re being fed spiritually, this is where you should be directing your financial support, as you have purposed in your heart.  Paul repeats this principle in several of his letters.  The closest companion passage is Galatians 6:6:  The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him (or her).

P.S.  This Blog site has a comment feature, which is Public, but it was recently brought to my attention by a Bible student there’s a need for private communication.  There are occasions when a Bible lesson “hits a nerve,” touches on something personal going on in a Believer’s life, or they just want clarification on what the Bible says regarding one of God’s commandments, and they want to discuss it, but not openly.  To address this need I am providing an e-mail address.   If you have a personal question, send a brief e-mail to: TruthisTold3@GMail.comI will respond.

(To be continued)

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