Part Two of Three
Show Me the Money
Monetary compensation was a big issue for Paul. The Philippians appear to have been his primary source of income, and perhaps the Galatians contributed as well. The Corinthians were a much tougher sell for Paul.
When it comes to compensation, Paul’s language becomes flowery and a bit circumspect --- this was likely the polite way to address such issues at the time. Here are some passages regarding compensation:
Paul reminded them that he had previously worked hard for them without compensation,
"For you remember our labor and hardship brothers, working night and day so we would not burden any of you … " (1 Thessalonians 2:9).
But then Paul encouraged them to work hard (1 Thess. 4:11), and to compensate him and his co-workers,
"Moreover we implore you brothers, to remember those who toil among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to consider them exceedingly in benevolence on account of their work." (1 Thess. 5:12-13).
This is Paul's polite language for soliciting financial support. Paul was gently working the Thessalonians, but it seems this Macedonian franchise hadn't begun to pay off yet.
"Now the one who is taught the message must share all good things with the one who teaches." (Galatians 6:6).
Spiritual or financial? I think Paul was saying they must pay him for his work. And I think they had. Such would help to explain, at least in part, Paul's vehement defense of his authority against the threat from the competition, the circumcisers.
"I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your care for me." (Philippians 4:10).
"… in the early days of the gospel when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the manner of giving and receiving except you alone. For even in Thessalonica, you sent twice for my needs." (Phil. 4:15-16).
These Macedonians were paying Paul again, but they had stopped for a while. Paul sent Epaphroditus, one of his partners, to make another collection from them (Phil. 2:25, see also 4:18).
Paul laid a guilt trip on the Philippians, blaming them for Epaphroditus' near death while he was working hard to,
"… make up what was lacking in your service to me." (Phil. 2:30).
The discussion of compensation occupies most of Philippians 4:10-20.
Paul's authority with the sophisticated Corinthian congregation was tenuous, and, if ever of much significance, it didn't seem to persist (2 Corinthians 3:1). And much to his chagrin, they weren't paying him. Paul had competition and the Corinthians had paid the competitors (1 Cor. 9:11-12). But Paul kept working them pretty hard.
He played the poor-me card,
"At the present hour we both hunger and thirst, we are poorly clothed, mistreated and homeless, we toil, working with our own hands …" (1 Cor. 4:11-12).
Then he continued to lay the guilt trip on pretty thick through more than 14 verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 9;
"… don't we have the right to eat and drink … is it only Barnabus and I who have no right to refrain from working? … who shepherds a flock and does not drink milk from the flock? … if we have sown spiritual things for you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? … ".
Nothing seemed to work, so Paul played his trump card. He made it an order from the Lord, as if he had a copy of the commandments of Jesus in his hip pocket,
"… the Lord has ordered that those who preach the gospel to earn their living by the gospel." (1 Cor. 9:14).
Paul wasn't shy about claiming he spoke for the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37), but even the Lord didn't seem to convince the Corinthians to pay Paul.
Paul (falsely) claimed superiority,
"For we are not like the many peddling the word of God …" (2 Corinthians 2:17).
And regarding his right to compensation for his spiritual work, Paul wrote,
“However, we did not use this right, instead we endure everything so that we will not hinder the gospel of Christ." (1 Cor 9:12)
“But I have used none of these (rights), nor have I written these things to make it happen that way for me. For it would better for me to die than for anyone to deprive me of my boast.” (1 Cor 9:15)
However, Paul’s disclaimer is empty rhetoric. Why would it be so noble to work for the Corinthians without compensation, only to be supported by the Philippians?
"Or did I commit sin… because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches having received support to minister to you … the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my needs ….” (2 Cor 11:7-9).