Beginning this series on Bivocationalism, my goal is to show the benefits of Bivocationalism. You may not receive any pay, minister, for obeying the Lord in your calling. But money is not the object anyway. I in no way wish to diminish the blessing of “full-time” ministers. But, guys, Paul was bivocational and our Lord Jesus spent most of His life in construction in Israel. So without further ado, here begins a series of posts from a course I took from Seminary Extension a couple of years ago:
Dorr lists five potential reasons why Paul chose to work as a tentmaker and minister, thus being bivocational. The first is to set the example for the Believers to serve and fulfill one’s God-given calling regardless of pay. This emphasized that all Believers were equal and there was not “priest class” hierarchy in the Body of Christ. Second, Jewish rabbi’s and Pharisees would always have a trade and provide for themselves and minister for free. This Jewish tradition was likely ingrained in Paul as a trained Pharisee and may have been a reason why he did not compel the churches to support him (though he does say he had the right to do so). A third reason, is that the Greek society was very used to cult leaders making their living off of their followers. Teachers and philosophers who made a living with their tongue were very common. It could have been that Paul did not accept financial or material support in many cases because he wanted to show that the Gospel was real and he was not creating another self-serving cult to make a buck. Fourth, Paul wanted to give the gospel freely. Paul mentions in the book of Acts to freely give as we have freely received as the Lord Jesus commanded. Paul’s free giving of the Gospel at no charge allowed Him to give sacrificially to Christ as an act of worship. Fifth and finally, Paul may not have accepted support because he did not want to be a burden on the church, the majority of whom were poor. While there were some wealthy members among the Early Church, the majority of our Biblical and historical records show the majority were poor. In addition there were no church buildings and so most gatherings were of small groups in homes, thus it would be very difficult for a house church of perhaps 30-40 at most to support a minister, especially when the Jewish converts typically had big families that would quickly add up to that number.