Paul’s Example

If you feel that the Lord is calling you into the ministry, I highly recommend that you read this article in its entirety. This is a teaching that is hard to find anywhere because most preachers and teachers accept money for doing the work of the Lord, therefore they do not discuss this topic for it would make them look like a hypocrite.

Right after I got saved, I felt the Lord tugging at my heart and calling me into the ministry. As with all preachers and teachers, they have to make a decision about their livelihood and what to do to provide for themselves and their families.

Many denominations take the service of an evangelist, pastor, or teacher and turn it into a job with salaries, benefits, retirement and so on. With this occupation becoming available, many people seek after these jobs even though the Lord never called them into the ministry to be an evangelist, pastor or teacher, so we end up with a tremendous amount of false teachers.

Lot’s of men were pushed into the ministry by their parents. Their parents sent them to a seminary school in order to become a preacher and to get a job as one, but the Lord never called them to do so, it was mom and dad.

And then you have those that lust after money and are greedy of gain. These are called gainsayers. A gainsayer is someone that says things for gain.

But the scripture is very clear on what steps a servant should take. Many preachers have never taken the time to pray about this situation but have rushed head on into the ministry expecting people to provide their way.

In Proverbs 3 it says,

“5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Question#1: Do you believe this?

Question #2 Do you REALLY believe this?

Do you believe that the Lord can show you what to do if you acknowledge a situation to him? I believe it with all my heart.

When the Lord called me into the ministry I got on my knees and asked him, “Okay Lord, what do I need to do about this money thing? Am I supposed to quit my job and take money from people for serving you or what? Please show me what to do.”

And then I waited for an answer.

The answer came very shortly thereafter. About 3 or 4 days later I was reading in the book of Acts when I got to chapter 18, which reads,

“After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;

2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife
Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.

3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.”

Then it hit me, why was Paul holding down an occupation? Isn’t he the apostle of the Gentiles? Didn’t he see Jesus Christ? Isn’t Paul a servant of the Lord? Why aren’t the people providing for him?

As I researched the scriptures I found out that in Acts 18 Paul was approximately 20 years into his ministry. Why wasn’t he being provided for?

As more research developed, the Lord opened my eyes and I saw that it wasn’t that the people wouldn’t provide for him, but he refused to accept it and provided for himself as an example unto us.

In 1st Corinthians chapter 9 we see that there is a power in the gospel. God allows provision that if someone works for him, he will provide their way. But Paul refused this for several reasons. Let’s see why:

“Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?

2 If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.

3 Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,

4 Have we not power to eat and to drink?

5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?

6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?”

Paul states here, “I don’t have to work.” Paul did not have to hold down an occupation, but he chose to do so, and goes on to tell us about the power in the gospel. Let’s continue.

“7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?”

If you are drafted into or join the army, who pays your way? Uncle Sam (the government) does. Do you have to provide your own shoes? Your own rifle? Your own food? No. You are taken care of by the army that you serve.

If you plant a vineyard, and work that vineyard and take care of it, and harvest it when the time comes, who do you think should be the first one to partake of the fruit? You are. The same goes if you take care of a flock of goats or sheep or a herd of cattle, you are the first one to get the milk.

“8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?

9 or it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.

11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?”

12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.

13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?

14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

So what we have here is Paul telling us that they that preach the gospel have a power in the gospel that they can be provided for by the people they teach. So is it wrong for preachers to be provided for by the people they teach? Absolutely not. God ordained it. But Paul did not use this power and he gives us three reasons why he did not use this power. Again in verse 12,

“12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.”

The first reason Paul did not use this power is because there is a possibility of hindering the gospel of Christ. So how could this hinder the gospel? Easy, people can say you are doing it for the money. There are many gainsayers out there that do it for the money and by you taking money it makes you look just like them. People that are lost will see no difference between you and them that are gainsayers. Let’s continue.

“15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.

16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.”

The second reason Paul did not use the power because of the possibility of abusing the power in the gospel. So how could someone abuse their power in the gospel? Easy. Just look at some of those T.V. preachers and evangelists. They are going for the big bucks and they live in multi-million dollar homes drive around in a Mercedes Benz and live extravagant lives. It is very easy to abuse the power and it happens all the time.

Paul said he preached the gospel without charge. Very seldom did he take anything for himself. Now let’s go on to the third reason Paul did not use the power.

In 2nd Corinthians 11, Paul tells us about his situation with them. Starting in verse 7 he says,

“7 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?

8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.”

Notice here how Paul said he preached the gospel freely. In verse 8 he says he took wages of other churches but it wasn’t for himself it was for the Corinthians to do them service, and he also called it, “ROBBING the churches”. Let’s go on.

“9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.

10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.

11 Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.

12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.

13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

There are people out there that see this power in the gospel, that they can preach and make gain off of people. Paul calls this the occasion. There are people that desire this occasion though the Lord never called them into the ministry but have put themselves into the ministry just for the occasion.
Satan’s ministers are really bad about doing this. They deceive people left and right making gain the entire time they are doing it. Paul knew that if he used the power that he would look just as them. But by not using the power, Paul could cut off them that did. How? By revealing them unto the public and showing people that they are doing it just to make gain. They cannot turn around to Paul and say, “Well, you are doing it too!”, because Paul wasn’t.

In Titus 1 Paul tells us about the bishops in the church. Starting in verse 7 it says,

“7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;

9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:

11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.”

In case you didn’t already know, filthy lucre is money. The bible says that a bishop should not be given unto filthy lucre, in other words, don’t lust after money. But these gainsayers, that’s what they do. They lust after money and teach things that are not proper in order to get it. Paul said that their mouths must be stopped. Well, how do you stop the mouth of a gainsayer? You tell people about them. But how are you going to do that if you are doing the same thing they are doing? Paul realized this problem and chose to not use the power so that he could cut off them which desire occasion.

So we see three reasons why Paul did not use the power.

1. He didn’t want to hinder the gospel.
2. He didn’t want to abuse his power in the gospel.
3. He wanted to cut off them that desired the occasion.

Not only did Paul not use the power, but made himself and the brethren that were fellow laborers with him an example for us to follow. In 2nd Thessalonians 3 it says,

“6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;

8 Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:

9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.

10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.

12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

In 2nd Thessalonians 1:1 Paul writes,

“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:”

So when he says,”… but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.” He is talking not only about himself, but Silvanus and Timothy also. And in 1st Corinthians he says, “Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?” So Barnabas followed Paul’s example also. In 2nd Corinthians 12 Paul writes,

“13 For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.

14 Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.

16 But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.

17 Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?

18 I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?”

Question #1: Did Paul make a gain of them? NO.
Question #2: Did Titus make a gain of them? NO.

So we know for sure that Paul, Barnabas, Silvanus, Timothy, and Titus all walked in the same spirit and in the same steps. This leads me to believe that Paul taught this example to all his fellow laborers in Christ Jesus to walk in the same spirit and same steps that he did.

In Acts 20 Paul said,

“33 I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.

34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Paul said that he did not covet any man’s gold or apparel but rather worked with his own hands to provide his necessities and for the the brethren that were with him. He also tells us to remember Jesus’ words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

It is more blessed to give, than receive.

Question: People that are making gain from preaching the gospel are they giving or receiving? They are receiving. They might tell you that they give back unto the Lord but they are definitely receiving.

So what we have here is Paul teaching us how a fellow laborer should walk in the Lord. This is Paul’s example.

So I ask you, “Are you following Paul’s example? Are you walking in the same spirit and the same steps as the apostle Paul? Is your preacher following Paul’s example?

I went to a bible camp many years ago, and as sat at a dinner table, me and the person I was sitting next to started having a conversation. It got around to what each one did and I told them that I had an occupation doing collision repair on automobiles.

So they said, “Oh, so you’re a part time preacher”. I didn’t say anything but as dinner was over I went back to the bunkhouse and kept thinking to myself, “Part time preacher?”

I intentionally follow Paul’s example for the same reasons that Paul did. I hold down an occupation just like the apostle Paul and his fellow laborers in Christ. So here’s the question: If me and Barnabas, Silvanus, Timothy and Titus are considered part time preachers does that make Paul a part time apostle? Do you have to take money from people to be considered a full time preacher? This is nonsense.

Paul was not a part time apostle. The Lord called him into the ministry and he set an example for other preachers to follow. But there are people out there that do not want to work. They want to preach and get paid. I have very little respect for these people.

I have seen people that KNOW Paul’s example but refuse to follow it. Why? Are they lazy? They do not want to get out and hold down a job and provide for their families. They say, “the Lord called me to preach”. Well, did the Lord call Paul to preach? Did he have an occupation?

I have seen preachers that take money for preaching say. “I walk by faith”. Lets see what Paul has to say about that. In 2nd Corinthians 5 Paul says,

“7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)"

Did Paul walk by faith? Yes. Did Paul have an occupation? Yes. Then who came up with this saying that if you take money for teaching you are walking by faith? The people that try to justify their position by taking money for preaching.

Listen up preachers! You don’t have to try to justify yourselves for taking from people. God has ordained, “them that preach the gospel , should live of the gospel.” If that is what you want to do, so be it.

But don’t you dare say that you are following Paul’s example.

I have seen many preachers in the grace movement preach, “Follow Paul, follow Paul, he is your apostle”, and give scriptures like 1st Corinthians 4,

“16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.”

And 1st Corinthians 11:1,

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."

But they refuse to follow Paul’s example. Why? Ask them, they know why. They know what’s in their heart. Any decent preacher that knows this bible knows the example set down by the apostle Paul but they refuse to teach it. Why? Because then, they would be a hypocrite.

Let’s suppose I took a salary from a church or just received money for preaching in general. And then one day I taught my congregation the example set down by the apostle Paul. What do you think they would ask me? How about, “Well, if this is the example to follow why aren’t you following it?”

These preachers do not want to interrupt their cash flow. It would not be in their best interest to teach this. They do not want to appear to be a hypocrite. So they keep silent about the matter or they teach opposite and say they are supposed to take from people.

I knew a preacher once that took money for preaching and he didn’t pull in enough to meet his needs and made his wife work two jobs so they could make it. This is absurd! Paul tells us in 1st Timothy chapter 5,

“8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

How can you possibly teach this scripture to people when you are not providing for your own household?

I’ve had preachers tell me that they don’t have time to work. They need to study. I’ve seen preachers that take money for preaching and then have a day out of the week that they go to do a hobby! You have time for a hobby but you don’t have time to work and provide for your family and you refuse to follow Paul’s example? Yeah I know, it’s crazy.

I had preachers that take money for preaching and when I show them Paul’s example they avoid me like the plague. They do not want me to teach their congregation Paul’s example. Most preachers do not follow Paul’s example.

So if the Lord calls you into the ministry what are you going to do? If you are already in the ministry what are you going to tell the younger ones coming up what to do? Are you going to teach Paul’s example or deny it and reject it? Are you going to keep silent about Paul’s example so you can take money for preaching?

If Paul was alive today, no doubt he would make a big impact on people getting into the ministry. What do you think he would tell them?

There are a lot of people out there that would love to just speak and get paid for it. It’s a dream job. Following Paul’s example is hard, very hard, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you make the decision to not follow Paul’s example, fine. But don’t say that you are walking in the same spirit and same steps as Paul, because you are not. As you get older and you are teaching others that are going into the ministry, what are you going to teach them to do? In 1st Thessalonians 4, Paul said,

“11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;

12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.”

If you do decide to follow Paul’s example, my hat is off to you and you have my respect. I’m sorry, but it is very difficult for me to respect those concerning this subject that know Paul’s example and refuse to teach it and follow it. They want to follow Paul, but they refuse to go all the way with him. I can’t respect that. I don’t care who they are. I'll respect the preacher for who he is and what he does, but I'll have very little respect him for holding back a teaching. The Lord gave Paul as our example and as our pattern of longsuffering that we should follow. In 1st Timothy 1 it says:

“16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

Paul, without a shadow of a doubt, was led by the Holy Spirit to do what he did. He is our example.

“…believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”