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The Didache 30 – Supporting Prophets

Posted: July 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Didache | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

This series is reflecting on the Didache if you want to read it separately.

But every true prophet who wants to live among you is worthy of his support. So also a true teacher is himself worthy, as the workman, of his support. Every first-fruit, therefore, of the products of wine-press and threshing-floor, of oxen and of sheep, you shall take and give to the prophets, for they are your high priests. But if you have no prophet, give it to the poor. If you make a batch of dough, take the first-fruit and give according to the commandment. So also when you open a jar of wine or of oil, take the first-fruit and give it to the prophets; and of money (silver) and clothing and every possession, take the first-fruit, as it may seem good to you, and give according to the commandment.

Giving the first fruits resonates with the Jewish background of Christianity.  Though Paul did not use the language of first fruits, the sentiment here clearly echoes his teaching. We know that Paul and Barnabus mostly did not accept money or other support and worked as tentmakers. They did not want there to be any confusion or question about their motives. However Paul taught in no uncertain terms that a prophet is worthy of being supported by his community.

While Paul did not accept such support very often, we know that others certainly did. Among the apostles, Peter and John were supported by different churches. And many of the early bishops were as well.

I’ve noticed there has arisen today an idea in some corners that a “proper” minister should be bi-vocational rather than being paid. While there is certainly nothing wrong with it, and it can even be a very honorable thing to do, there’s nothing in either the NT or in early christian writings to support the idea that such an approach is either required or is somehow “better”.  Or so it seems to me.

2 Comments on “The Didache 30 – Supporting Prophets”

  1. 1 ChristSpeak said at 11:20 am on July 10th, 2009:

    It’s an interesting question. I know several people who are planning bi-vocational lives, such as (male) nursing and pastoring as dual careers. I personally am planning to be simply a pastor without a secondary career, though I should be writing and things like that on the side.

    The argument for non-bi-vocational (is that a word?) ministry would simply be that it enables the pastor to invest that much more in the knowledge of what he teaches or the relational side of running the church.

  2. 2 Scott said at 7:25 pm on July 10th, 2009:

    I’m not sure that “non-bi-vocational” even needs an argument. Scripture very clearly, all the early writings, and everything we know of history support the idea that the presbyters and episcopos are worthy of the support they receive. Some, especially those spreading the faith, eschew it as Paul mostly did to remove any hint that they’re in it for the money. But that’s the exception, not the rule.