When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. (Acts 18:5)
Paul left Macedonia and passed through the city of Athens on his way to the city of Corinth. This was a coastal trading city which was rich and had abundant resources. While in Corinth Paul was a tentmaker, working with Aquila and Priscilla, who loved the Lord. On the Sabbath, he went to the synagogue to preach the Word of God and exhorted everyone. One of the reasons why Paul preached the gospel only on the Sabbath was that he wanted to earn money making tents so he could supply his own needs. Later, Paul's co-workers Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia to join him and brought funds from the Macedonian church (cf. Phil. 4:15). During this time Paul could concentrate on evangelism every day and didn’t need to make tents.
We know from the Bible that the church which supplied Paul’s needs was the Philippi Church in Macedonia. This church not only supported Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica but also supported him in Corinth. Therefore, while he was preaching the gospel in Corinth and establishing the church, he did not burden them economically (2 Corinthians 11: 9).
Both the Philippi Church and the Corinthian Church were established by Paul. The Corinthian Church was very rich, and the Philippi Church was relatively poor. But Paul, who served in the Corinthian church, was actually supplied by the Philippi church, not the Corinthian church. Why was the Philippian church willing to supply Paul's needs? This was not only because they had a spiritual vision, but also they loved God which was more important, so they also loved God's servants.
The church’s support of its ministers is an old topic, but still a prominent question in the Chinese church. The Chinese church still has difficulty providing the needed support for its ministers. Although this topic is sensitive, it is mentioned again and again.
Because of a lack of resources, some ministers often have to leave the threshing floor of the church and work outside in society. They raise their families while serving God in the church. Some married couples cannot serve together in the church, so one must work so the other one can serve in the church. Some ministers go directly to work in society and no longer serve in the church.
The economic level of today’s society is constantly improving, and most churches do not lack financial resources. However, many churches today still owe their ministers their salary. What they really lack is not money, but the love and knowledge of the truth.
The fact that the Philippian church can have such love is inseparable from their knowledge of the truth. Because they truly understand the truth, they can have true love. Although the Corinthian church has all kinds of spiritual gifts, the pursuit of truth is still inferior to that of the Philippi church, and their love is also inferior.
If our church wants to have true love, they must first strive to understand the truth. As preachers we also have an obligation and responsibility to do our best to teach the truth, to use wisdom and knowledge to guide believers to understand the truth. In this way, they can grow continuously in their spiritual lives.
(Note: The author of this article is a full-time co-worker of a grassroots church in Fujian)
-Translated by Abigail Wu