Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 19, 1959

Paul's Support At Corinth

Thomas F. Shropshire, Cactus, Texas

There has been much made of Paul's support at Corinth. In the New Testament account of this, there are some facts which we believe need to be pointed out. The reason these facts need to be pointed out is occasioned by the false reasoning in connection with this scripture. Some have reasoned that the money sent for Paul's support was sent to the church at Corinth. And it is claimed that, even if the money was sent directly to Paul, it would make no difference because "there is no difference between sending the money and sending the preacher."

But let us examine the scripture and see if there was a difference in this case. "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them that I might minister unto you; and when I was present with you and was in want, I was not a burden on any man; for the brethren, when they came from Macedonia, supplied the measure of my want; and in everything I kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself". "But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them that desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we." (II Cor. 11:8,9,12.) "For what is there wherein ye were made inferior to the rest of the churches, except it be that I myself was not a burden to you? forgive me this wrong." (II Cor. 12:13.)

First, what Paul received at Corinth was not charity but "wages". Second, the wages were from other churches and not from the church at Corinth. Third, the wages were paid by the brethren who came from Macedonia. This proves that Corinth had nothing whatsoever to do with Paul's support. The brethren who make such wild claims about what took place relative to these matters, know that if what they claim took place, it would have been so stated by inspiration. Their claims of what took place are a reflection upon the ability of God through the Holy Spirit to reveal exactly what occurred.

What some seek to justify by the perversion of this text, is completely foreign to what we actually find in the text. They seek to justify a church or churches sending funds to another church to enable them to support a preacher when the receiving church is financially unable to do so. There is not the faintest hint in this text which even remotely suggests that Paul accepted wages from other churches because the church at Corinth was financially unable to support him. The reason for Paul's refusal to accept wages from the church in Corinth was entirely different. And for Paul to have accepted wages from the church in Corinth, whether they were supplied by the church in Corinth or sent by other churches to the church in Corinth, would have defeated the very purpose for which Paul refused to accept wages from Corinth!

The text indicates that from a financial standpoint Corinth could have easily paid his wages. There is not a hint to the effect that they were financially unable to support him. Paul even suggested that from this standpoint he had wronged them. Would Paul have suggested that he had wronged them in not accepting support from them if they had been financially unable to support him? Who could believe that he would?

There were false teachers then as there are now, who were willing to impugn the motives of others to gain advantage. They were and are, looking for occasion to do so. Lest these false teachers misrepresent Paul as exploiting the Corinthians for profit, Paul cut off their occasion by not accepting support from Corinth. There are those today who will stoop to any sort of misrepresentation if the occasion for such presents itself, to discredit those who differ with them Had Paul's support come from Corinth or "through" Corinth, it still would have afforded these false teachers their occasion.

There is nothing in the text about the churches of Macedonia "sending" Paul to Corinth. These churches supported Paul while he was at Corinth as they did while he was at other places. The statement, "sending the money or sending the man", is a misleading statement. The churches did not "send" the man — they supported him. The statement, to properly represent the matter, should be, "supporting the church (at Corinth) or supporting the man (Paul)."

Even so, there is a vast difference between "sending the money and sending the man". Did you ever hear of a congregation to whom money was sent to enable them to support a preacher, refusing to accept the money? Of course not. But it is evident that there are those who would refuse the man if he were sent. There are a lot of congregations today who will send money to another congregation to enable them to support a preacher and in so doing, deprive themselves of any "say" as to the soundness of the preacher supported.

There are many localities today where sound preachers need to go and be supported by sound congregations. In most instances they would not be accepted nor even recognized by the congregations in those localities, to say nothing of being supported by them.

In closing this article, let us say that it is rather ironical that the same brethren who have made such wild claims about the text we have discussed, have themselves provided today in the church the same reason why Paul did not accept support from the church in Corinth.