Chapter Twenty — Part Fifteen: The Book of Acts

By: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne

Publish date: 12/04/2022

Foundation Scripture:
Acts 20:34

1. Providing Necessities.
a. Acts 20:34 NKJV — Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me.
b. There were times that Paul worked with his hands—doing manual labor—to sustain himself and his companions.
c. Even though they had needs, Paul wanted to set an example of integrity for the Ephesians, and not to burden them in any way.
d. 1 Thessalonians 2:9 NKJV — For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.
e. The Gospel may be offered freely—because someone paid the price.
f. Jesus paid the ultimate price—His life.
g. Paul paid a personal price to deliver the Gospel to the nations—as have many others, who obeyed the Call.
h. Among other things, Paul and the others had to endure hunger and thirst, inadequate clothing, beatings, and homelessness (1 Cor. 4:11).
i. They toiled unto exhaustion for their living, working hard with their own hands (1 Cor. 4:12a).
j. Paul made tents, which was very hard physical work.
k. He suffered many hardships, doing whatever was required, to sustain himself and those with him, so that they could be free to continue to minister and preach the Gospel.

2. Working Willingly.
a. Paul preached the Gospel because he was called and commissioned by Jesus, the Head of the Church (1 Cor. 9:16-23).
b. He did it because he was commanded, and he also did it willingly, with all his heart.
c. He preached the Gospel without charge, so that he might not abuse his authority in the Gospel; therefore, his motives could not be brought into question.
d. The reward he expected was not a material reward, given by men, but a heavenly reward given by the Father—which was of far greater worth.
e. Because God was his source, his supply, and his strength, he was not moved up or down by his circumstances (Phil. 4:11-13).

3. Setting the Standard.
a. Paul set the spiritual standards for these new converts, and he also set the standard and the example for their personal conduct in everyday life (2 Thess. 3:7-10).
b. Paul taught them by example:
c. To work, and not to be idle, disorderly, nor shirk their duty.
d. To earn and pay for their own necessities, like food, and not to expect to receive it for free.
e. To be willing to work long and hard and to not be a burden nor impose on others.
f. If you do not work, you do not eat.
g. The reformed thief was admonished to steal no more, but to work industriously and honestly with his own hands and become a giver not a taker (Eph. 4:28).
h. Paul, and those with him, had a right to the material support of the people they ministered to—but they did not always make use of this right.
i. 1 Corinthians 9:11-12 NKJV — 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 Christ.

4. Worthy of Wages.
a. Even though Paul had a right to their financial support, he did not demand it.
b. However, those who receive from the minister of the Gospel, have an obligation to support them financially (1 Cor. 9:1-17).
c. 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 NKJV — 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 the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
e. The Lord has commanded that those who preach the Gospel should live from the Gospel.
f. What soldier at any time serves at his own expense and who plants a vineyard and does not eat any of the fruit of it? Who tends a flock and does not partake of the milk of the flock? (1 Cor. 9:7).
g. You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain (Deut. 25:4;        1 Cor. 9:9; 1 Tim. 5:18).
h. The laborer is worthy of his wages (Deut. 24:15; Luke 10:7; 1 Tim. 5:18).
i. The plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher ought to thresh in expectation of partaking of the harvest (1 Cor. 9:10).  
j. The minister of the Gospel has these rights (1 Cor. 9:1-17):
 - To their food and drink at the expense of the Church.
 - To have a Christian wife alongside them, who is also provided for.
 - To refrain from doing manual labor for a livelihood to go about the work of the Gospel.
k. The Scriptures tell us that the elders of the Church who rule well, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine, are counted worthy of double honor (1 Tim. 5:17).
l. That means that in God’s economy, an honorable minister of the Gospel is worthy to be paid double the wages of those who work a regular job.

5. Material Support.
a. It is appropriate for those who are ministered to spiritually, to give back materially to the minister of the Gospel.
b. Galatians 6:6 AMPC — Let him who receives instruction in the Word [of God] share all good things with his teacher [contributing to his support].
c. Giving to the Gospel and to the support of the minister of the Gospel must be done—but it must be done voluntarily.
d. In the Body of Christ, the motivation of the minister of the Gospel must be to preach, teach, demonstrate, and serve freely.
e. His source is the Lord, and his reward is changed lives, people saved and on their way to Heaven, and people raised up to carry the Gospel to others.
f. At the same time the Body of Christ, the people, who are ministered to spiritually, are to recognize the value of this gift to them, and sow back to the minister financially—freely and generously, without grudging.
g. To all: Be a giver—not a taker.