Paul tried to avoid the accusation of wearing a “cloke of covetousness” (1 Thessalonians 2:5). In his ministry, Paul had the right to ask for compensation for his gospel work. For he himself taught the churches, “Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?” (1 Corinthians 9:13, 14). With his saving influence over people (Galatians 4:13–15), Paul could have obtained material support. He declared, “we have cheated no one” (2 Corinthians 7:2 also 12:17, 18).
He did not accept the support of the believers lest he be charged with greed. He said, “…we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ … nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void” (1 Corinthians 9:12, 15).
In his ministry, Paul knew “both how to be abased” and “how to abound” (Philippians 4:12). He had learned “in whatsoever state” he was, “therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11). Paul never made “a gain” of the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12:17). He desired no “gift” of the Philippians (Philippians 4:17). Instead, he and his assistants traveled around on their own expense and were satisfied with just meeting their basic needs as they shared the riches of salvation with others.
Rather than accept help, Paul worked with his own bare hands. He labored at his trade of tent making with Aquila and Priscilla at Corinth (Corinthians 18:1–3). He had previously worked at Ephesus (1 Corinthians 4:12) and at Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8). And Acts 20:34 shows evidence that he had worked also at Ephesus.
Paul had labored not only to help himself but also to help those that were with him. It is possible that Timothy, with his “often infirmities” (1 Timothy 5:23), was one of ones that needed assistance. The apostle did not think that it was in the least to his disgrace to labor to provide for his livelihood while ministering, at the time when the church had not yet learned to provide for the needs of the ministers. He had no desire for the resources of this world.
The apostle’s life should be a model for the gospel ministers today. A bishop, should not be “greedy for money” (1 Timothy 3:3). The stories of Judas Iscariot and Simon the sorcerer show the damage that can affect the church through the love of money (John 12:1–6; Acts 8:14–23).
In His service,