Is Full Time Ministry Scriptural?



 

 
      Some have asked why I believe it is acceptable for a person to receive donations as a full time minister. This short study will explain, from scripture, why it is not only acceptable, but normal.

      For over 18 years, I operated this ministry as a part-time endeavor. But in 11/2013, due to a number of circumstances as well as the overwhelming ministry needs, I believe that Yahweh led me to make this ministry a full-time endeavor. This means that I spend at 40-50 hours a week (sometimes a lot more) doing ministry work. In the interest of accountability, time clock reports are available to confirm that I am doing what I say I am doing. I don't use a time clock because I get paid by the hour (I don't). I only do it to prove I am doing ministry work.

      I have never charged anyone for any ministry work that I do. Everything that I do is completely free, as it is written in scripture

Matthew 10:8b - Freely you have received, freely give.

       Unlike most ministries, I never charge for DVD's. And anyone who wants a printed copy of any study on this web site can receive one for free by clicking a link at the bottom of that page. Yahweh provided with volunteers who handle these matters for me so that I am free to focus on other ministry tasks.

        I have always made donations to the EliYah.com ministry an option, and I've also made giving to the Alms fund an option for anyone who is led by Yahweh to give. In 20 years of ministry I have never taken a single penny of these donations for personal use.

        In 11/2013 I added an option to my donation page for anyone who wanted to donate to our family personally. I have never asked anyone for a donation; I have only made the option available for those who are led by Yahweh to give.

         I do have an income stream through some online business endeavors but they are nowhere near enough to support my family.

         So for anyone who is interested in why I believe it is completely biblical for someone to donate to my family for the work that I do, I've written this article below.
 

Is receiving donations for full time ministry scriptural?

When it comes to receiving funds personally for ministry, our first example is Yahushua Himself. We are called to walk as He walked and live as He lived. If He lived a certain way, we can be certain that it is acceptable for us to live the same way.

Yahushua didn't work a regular job but was a full-time minister. There is no record of Him ever asking for a donation to do anything or charging anyone for anything, yet His needs were always provided for. Anyone who was led by Yahweh to give to Yahushua was permitted to do so:

Luke 8:1-3 - Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of Elohim. And the twelve were with Him,
2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities-- Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons,
3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance
<5224>.

The word translated "substance" is

5224 ὑπάρχοντα huparchonta {hoop-ar'-khon-tah}
Meaning: 1) possessions, goods, wealth, property
Origin: neuter plural of present participle active of 5225 as noun;; v participle
Usage: AV - goods 7, that (one) has 4, things which (one) possesses 2, substance 1; 14

So it was acceptable for Yahushua to receive "possessions, goods, wealth, property" from Chuza, Susanna and "many others who provided for Him" Therefore, Yahushua's ministry had a "money box" that was used to fund His operations as well as provide for others:

John 13:29 - For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Yahushua had said to him, "Buy those things we need for the feast," or that he should give something to the poor.

The next example is that of His apostles. He told them to do everything without charge and without price, and to not even take a money bag with them. However, they were permitted to receive funding:

Luke 10:4-7 - "Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.
5 "But whatever house you enter, first say,`Peace to this house.'
6 "And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you.
7 "And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.

Notice that He said "the laborer is worthy of his wages." Yahushua gives the comparison of a person working in ministry to one working any other occupation. And He said that one who functions in ministry is worthy of receiving wages. In this case, He said that they did not need to carry a money bag with them. By faith they could trust that their needs would be provided for because Yahweh would lead various individuals to provide for them.

Yahushua told them not to carry a money bag, but Yahushua Himself did have a money box. When He sent His disciples out, it was a special mission that was temporary in nature. He wanted to demonstrate that Yahweh would be with them and would make sure they were provided for.

After Yahushua's death and resurrection, we see that Paul also taught that it was acceptable for a minister to receive personal funding. Please read this carefully, without skipping any verses:

1 Corinthians 9:1-14 - Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Yahushua Messiah our Master? Are you not my work in the Master?
2 If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Master.
3 My defense to those who examine me is this:
4 Do we have no right to eat and drink?
5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Master, and Cephas?
6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?
7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?
8 Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also?
9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it oxen Elohim is concerned about?
10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.
11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?
12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Messiah.
13 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?
14 Even so Yahweh has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

So we see that Paul appeals to the Torah for an example of why it is acceptable for those who preach the good news to receive personal funding.

He gives the example of Aaronic priests partaking of the offerings to prove that it’s acceptable for those who preach the good news to “live from the good news.” Furthermore He says it is a commandment from Yahweh. Remember, Yahushua said "a worker is worthy of his wages."

Of course, we know that this has been quite abused today. It was abused quite a bit in the first century as well, and this is probably one reason that Paul decided against doing it. He didn't want to be accused of converting from an unbeliever to a believer in Messiah just so he could benefit financially.

But abuse of this principle doesn't change what the scriptures say. He clearly taught that it would be acceptable, and that one could bring a wife along in his ministry endeavors, and each should be provided for.

Now it is true that many ministers and ministries today are raking in millions of dollars because they charge money for their teachings. This is an unbiblical practice:

2 Corinthians 2:17 - For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of Elohim; but as of sincerity, but as from Elohim, we speak in the sight of Elohim in Messiah.

I don't do this and I teach against this. It is wrong to charge someone money for them to hear Yahweh's word. However, there is nothing wrong with someone giving you a donation as Yahweh leads. There is a significant difference.

If one were to adopt the "teach of pay" model where one could only receive a teaching if they paid the teacher, this would hinder the word of Yahweh and prevent the poor from being able to hear Yahweh's word.

But if someone gives a teaching freely to all, not requiring payment, this allows Yahweh's word to go out without hindrance to everyone both rich and poor. One can freely accept (but not require) a donation and this is no different than what Yahushua and His disciples were doing when we read that Chuza, Susanna and "many others who provided for Him of their substance/wealth/possessions."

Another example of apostles receiving money is:

Acts 4:34-37 - Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,
35 and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus,
37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.

If it was wrong for them to receive money, they would have been sinning. If it wasn't wrong for them to receive 100%, certainly it is not wrong for a ministry to receive 10%. It is true that the communal practice mentioned here is not done today, and there is no scripture that commands this kind of practice. But doing this is certainly within the parameters of scripture, and it did involve the receiving of money.

Galatians 6:6 - Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.

Romans 15:25-28 - But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints.
26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.
27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.
28 Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain

This is an offering for the "poor among the saints" who are in Jerusalem. It appears that the brethren in Jerusalem had fallen poor, so Paul came to minister to them and provide for them. The saints in Jerusalem were ministering the word, and indeed, this is where the entire ministry of preaching the good news was started.

Thus, Paul notes that whenever they were in need of material things, it was the duty of those who have benefited spiritually from their ministry to supply their material needs. Providing material needs to those who are supplying spiritual needs is a consistent biblical principle that reaches back all the way to the book of Genesis.

Melchizedek was a priest of Elohim and he ruled over Salem, which is modern day Jerusalem. Thus, he was both a king and a priest:

Genesis 14:18 - Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of Elohim Most High.

Abraham paid a "tithe of all" to this priest:

Genesis 14:20 - And blessed be Elohim Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tithe of all.

This tithe was from his spoils, but this doesn't mean it was the only time that Abraham tithed. The fact that it was done before the Torah was given tells me that it was one of the many practices found in Genesis that are repeated in the Torah.

It's just that at this time there was no written law. Everything was passed down orally and people just knew the difference between the clean and unclean, the need for sacrifices, the Sabbath day observance and many other things. We see that tithing was also something that was known.

Thus, Jacob also paid tithes:

Genesis 28:22 - And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be Elohim's house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You."

Since Melchizedek was the priest at this time, it makes sense that at least some of Jacob's tithes would have gone to Melchizedek. Some of it may have gone to the poor as well. There really wasn't anyone else on the earth to give it to.

Now, we all know that the Levites were also eventually recipients of tithes, but so were the poor of the land.

Proverbs 19:17 - He who has pity on the poor lends to Yahweh, And He will pay back what he has given.

We also know that Yahushua is a High Priest:

Psalm 110:4 - Yahweh has sworn And will not relent, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."

Hebrews 5:9-10 - And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,
10 called by Elohim as High Priest "according to the order of Melchizedek,"

Remember the Melchizedek priesthood was also involved kingship and royalty. Yahushua is both a King and a Priest. Likewise, believers in Yahushua are also part of this Royal Priesthood:

Revelation 1:4-6 - John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,
5 and from Yahushua Messiah, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
6 and has made us kings and priests to His Elohim and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen

Notice that we are already kings and priests to Yahweh. This is because we are of the Melchizedek priesthood.

1 Peter 2:4-5 - Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by Elohim and precious,
5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Elohim through Yahushua Messiah.

1 Peter 2:9 - But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

A Royal priesthood would be a priesthood that functions also as Kings. The Levites were not Kings. Therefore, this can only mean that believers in Yahushua function under the order of Melchizedek, which is a royal priesthood. Since Melchizedek received tithes from Abraham, there is nothing wrong with those who function in the Royal Priesthood of Melchizedek to receive tithes as well. There is clear biblical precedent. The sacrifices we offer are spiritual in nature, and our bodies are a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

Levites are now called to be believers in Yahushua the Messiah. Therefore, any Levite who believes in Yahushua the Messiah will actually become a priest after the order of Melchizedek. And, in fact, we see an example of a Levite giving money to the apostles:

Acts 4:36-37 - And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus,
37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.

I think this was mentioned in the book of Acts for a reason. Melchizedek is actually the higher priesthood.

So does this mean that any believer in Messiah who functions in full time ministry can receive donations from another person's tithe money? Yes, but it's not limited to teachers or evangelists. Suppose a believer spent all their time visiting nursing homes to share the good news, or feeding the homeless that the good news might be shared with them, or any person involved in full time ministry for the purposes of proclaiming the word of Yahweh. All would qualify.

And why? A laborer is worthy of his wages, whether it be a son of Aaron, a Levite or someone operating as a Melchizedek priest. Yahushua qualifies as a Melchizedek priest, we are His Body, His feet and hands, a representation of Him on the earth, functioning as He did, therefore we qualify.

So the scriptures are clear and consistent. Melchizedek priests (a royal priesthood) can receive donations. This is how Yahushua operated, it is how His apostles operated, it is how Melchizedek operated, and in the Torah it is the way that Yahweh commanded Israel to operate. This isn't a new concept, but a concept that goes all the way back to Genesis.

On this web site I have set up 3 different places you can donate. I would rather Yahweh move the hearts as to where the donations should go than for myself to make the decision. Therefore, each of these are managed separately and go into 3 separate accounts.

  • The alms fund (open treasury) is for the poor.

  • The EliYah.com fund is for general ministry expenses.

  • The personal donations would be for me and my family to be freed up to minister full time.

I have never taken from the Alms fund or the EliYah.com fund. I keep them all separate so that the person wanting to contribute can contribute to the place that Yahweh leads them to contribute. Few ministries operate this way but I do so in the interest of accountability. When all is said and done, my goal is this:

Yahweh is glorified and His word is glorified as it goes out to all nations.

So if you want to contribute, there is a place for you to do that. If you want to personally give to a poor brother in your community, feel free to do that. If you want to contribute to another person doing ministry, you are free to do that as well.
May Yahweh lead us all to do what He is calling us to do, and may His word be proclaimed to all the people of this lost and dying world.


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