Arthur Sido wrote a post on why he believes Pastors should not be paid a salary over at the voice of one crying out in suburbia.
It’s a thoughtful piece examining what the Scriptures say on the issue, however much of it seems to hang on an interpretation of 1 Corinthians 9. The summarized argument is:
Paul, more than anyone else, can make a claim to being owed money for his work in the Corinthian Church. But he would suffer anything than actually do that. Therefore, Paul considers being paid to be a Pastor an obstacle to the preaching of the Gospel.
1 Cor. 9:12 – If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.
1 Cor. 9:15 – But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting.
The question we have to ask ourselves is whether this is truly what Paul is teaching — whether a Pastor being paid to do his work is in itself an obstacle to the gospel? If it is, we can throw the usual proof texts (1 Tim. 5:17-18, 1 Cor. 9:9, 14) for paying a Pastor’s salary out the window, encouraging them to write hand made Greek/Hebrew interlinear moleskines in order to provide food instead. Fortunately for faithful Pastors, the argument presented above isn’t Paul’s, church the payrolls are safe from editing (for now).
Paul talks about his not taking money from the Corinthian church in his second letter, which provides context for his statement in 1 Corinthians.
2 Cor. 11:5-11 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
Or a did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
So Paul makes it clear that he forsook the claim for payment mentioned in 1 Cor. 9:12 not because he was against it in principle but because knowing the difficulties he faced in the Corinthian church inundated with the “Super Apostles”, the taking payment would be a potential obstacle to preaching the gospel… and Paul would rather die than have that happen. This is understandable and something that a Pastor should be agreeable towards – I can think of several who take little or no money because of the impact demanding salary from their churches would have. Rather than take a salary that might be an obstacle to the gospel, Paul gets financial help from churches in Macedonia so he is able meet his needs while Pastoring in Corinth. With this understanding in view, the notion that Paul is universally making a statement about Pastors receiving payment falls into the realm of eisegesis, however sincere.