Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 25, 1957
NUMBER 12, PAGE 2-3b

Questions On How To Pay A Preacher

Cecil B. Douthitt, Brownwood, Texas

The following letter is from a good friend and brother in Louisville, Kentucky.

"Dear Brother Douthitt:

In seeking to know God's will more perfectly, your comments on two Bible questions will be very helpful to me.

No. 1. Is it according to scripture for a strong financial church to send money to a weak financial church for the weak church to use in paying a preacher to preach for the local congregation

No. 2. In I Cor. 16:2 the apostle Paul specifies taking up a collection for poor saints on the first day of the week. Is this scripture a pattern also for using the Lord's Day collection to pay for evangelistic work ?"

Answer To No. 1.

No gospel preacher can confine his preaching to the members of a "local church" and remain "pure from the blood of all men". He must preach to the lost also. If it is "according to scripture" for one church to send money to another church to use in paying a preacher to preach to a few people, why would it not also be according to scripture for a thousand churches to send money to that same poor church to use in paying a thousand preachers to preach the gospel to every creature in all the world?

The whole world is the field which the Lord has assigned to every church in the work of evangelization, and all the churches sustain an equal relationship to that field and to that work. How can a church send money to another church for a work that is as much the responsibility of the sending church as it is of the receiving church? How can I say that any practice in religion is "according to scripture", until I find the "scripture" to which it is "according"? What "scripture" is such practice "according to"?

In many ways New Testament churches did cooperate in preaching the gospel:

(1) Peter and John were sent from Jerusalem to the church in Samaria where they preached the word. (Acts 8:14,25).

(2) The Jerusalem church sent Barnabas to Antioch, and for a whole year he taught "much people" there, but he did not limit his preaching to the local church. (Acts 11:22, 26).

(3) "Other churches" sent wages to Paul while he ministered to the church in Corinth. (II Cor. 11:8, 9).

(4) The church in Philippi sent to Paul in Thessalonica and in Rome. (Phil. 4:16, 18).

In these and other ways churches co-operated and helped one another in preaching the gospel; but it stands as a Biblical fact that no church sent money to another church to be used by the receiving church in preaching the gospel to anybody. It is the revealed will of God for every church to control and use its own money in this kind of work, and this is the only right way to do it.

A few brethren in recent months have made a desperate but futile effort to justify such brotherhood evangelistic projects as Herald Of Truth Missionary Society by a process of false reasoning which, if valid, would justify any heresy that any crank might want to establish. They argued that since the contributions for the "poor among the saints" during two famines in Judea were sent first to the churches and not directly to the poor in those churches, it follows that "other churches" sent Paul's wages to the elders of the churches in Corinth and in Rome when Paul was in those cities, and then the elders of those two churches paid Paul's wages. How far will men go to defend an unscriptural practice?

The scripture anticipated every false doctrine that either men or devils would originate from apostolic days to the end of time, and dealt a death blow to it before it came into existence. Here is the deadly blow with which inspiration strikes the puny theory that Paul's wages were first collected from other churches by Corinth and Rome, and then passed on to him by the elders of the collecting churches: The Bible clearly states that the contribution for the poor saints during that first famine in Judea was sent "to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul" (Acts 11:27-30). But Paul teaches just as clearly that that is not the way he received his wages from "other churches" when he was in Corinth and Rome. Regarding his wages while he was at Corinth, he says, "For the brethren, when they came from Macedonia, supplied the measure of my want" (II Cor. 11:9). Regarding the support he received from Philippi while he was in Rome, he said that he received it from Epaphroditus (Phil. 4:18) who was Philippi's "messenger and minister" to Paul's need (Phil. 2:25). I think every student who has neither an unscriptural practice to defend nor a hobby to protect can see clearly that Paul's wages were sent directly to him by the supporting churches. How could anything be made plainer?

Answer To No. 2.

I Cor. 16:2 is not the complete pattern for the use of Lord's Day contributions; it is only a part of the pattern. In order to have the complete pattern for any doctrine or religious practice, one must have all that the Bible says on that doctrine or practice. Every passage of scripture must be read in the light of all other passages bearing on the same subject; otherwise, faulty interpretations and erroneous conclusions are sure to follow.

The "faith only" theory, Premillennialism, the "impossibility of apostasy" theory, and many other false doctrines which have led many astray may be traced to failures to view and to accept the whole pattern. The devil separated Psalm 91: 11, 12 from the rest of The "pattern", and by his interpretation of the isolated passage he tried to persuade Jesus to jump from the pinnacle of the temple (Matt. 4: 6); but Jesus quoted another passage (Deut. 6:16) which also was a part of the pattern, and which changed the entire picture (see Matt. 4: 5-7).

Therefore, I Cor. 16: 2 must be read in the light of Acts 2: 42, I Cor. 9, II Cor. 11: 8, and other passages on the subject of a church's money. When all the passages are read, and the complete pattern is viewed and duly considered, three things become crystal clear: (1) The Lord's Day contribution did not originate with Paul's order to the churches in Galatia and Corinth in I Cor. 16: 2; but from the beginning of the church it was listed as a divinely prescribed act of Lord's Day worship along with the Lord's supper, the teaching and the prayers in Acts 2: 42. (2) Churches are taught to pay wages to preachers, help the poor and perform other duties which require the use of money as seen in I Cor. 9; II Cor. and 9; and other passages. (3) The Lord's Day contributions went into the treasury of the local church, and funds were taken from that treasury for any work which the local church had a right to perform, as shown in the passages to which reference has already been made.