Bible 1 Yr – Day 106 – Earn Your Keep

Today we get to the crux of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, the reason he wrote it. It turns out that some of the believers who were convinced that the glorious return of Jesus was imminent had decided to take every day as a vacation day. No longer did they work the fields or labor at their jobs instead they bounced around living off of others. Be careful not to be too hard on them in your own thoughts, for they were probably very pious people who genuinely believed the final judgement was around the corner. Still Paul makes clear the value or work.

For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

Paul obviously sees the value in work and in each person being a contributing member of the community.

What is interesting is that Paul sets himself and his group of evangelists apart from the rest of the community. Paul says that although they had the right to be supported by the community they chose not to exercise it.

….nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.

So Paul gives up his right to support from the community in order to be a good example to them. But why did Paul have this right in the first place? What does the right to support from the community imply? Remember, under the Old Testament it was the Levitical Priests who had the right to support from the community. A part of all the tithes to the Temple went to them. Thus, Paul’s right to support from the community is recognition of his priesthood.

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5 Responses to Bible 1 Yr – Day 106 – Earn Your Keep

  1. Chris Daley says:

    “Thus, Paul’s right to support from the community is recognition of his priesthood.”

    In 1Cor12:28, it says

    1 Corinthians 12:28New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)
    28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues.

    There is no mention of priests being in the church, unless one of those positions should be translated priest.

    Then in 1Peter2:9 it says,
    1 Peter 2:9New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)
    9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people,[a] in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

    Isn’t Peter calling all of us believers “priests” in this?

    Then in 1Timothy3, Paul refers to what it takes to be an elder and a deacon, no mention of what it takes to be a priest.

    I guess my over arcing question in all of this is, where in the New Testament are the instructions or guidelines for being a priest? Or is that something the church added later?

  2. Sure, I think I understand your question.

    First, Apostles are Bishops and Priests. So, if the list of positions listed all three that would be partially repetitive. Although within the priesthood the 3 have different roles. Apostles are priests who are eyewitnesses to the Lord and his resurrection (that is why Paul qualifies), Bishops are successors of the Apostles and priests are ordained assistants to the bishops.

    Second, the word priest was not used during the first century or so as to distinguish these assistants of the bishops from the Jewish priests and pagan priests. However, they functioned and acted as priests. A rose by any other name….

    The reference in 1 Peter to the “royal priesthood” is a reference to the OT where the nation of Israel is called the royal priesthood. In the same chapter the levitcal priests are ordained. Peter is saying that the Church is the new Israel and the old covenant is being fulfilled in the new. In the Old Covenant you had a high priest, a ministerial priesthood of the Levites and the “universal” or royal priesthood of all Israel. The high priesthood is fulfilled in Jesus. The royal priesthood is fulfilled the Church and its believers. It stands to reason that the ministerial priesthood must also somehow be fulfilled in the new covenant.

    We see this in many places throughout the New Testament. At the last supper Jesus offers bread and wine – separately – and says this is his body and blood. The separation of body and blood signals death – a sacrifice. Jesus says to them, “do this in memory of me”.

    Offering a sacrifice is the core function of a priest. That a priest is offer sacrifice is confirmed in Hebrews (sorry don’t have the verse right now). Recall in the OT that Malkizidek the king of Salem, “was a priest of God most high” and offered bread and wine in thanksgiving of Abraham’s victory. This is a foreshadowing of the Christians priesthood. The Malkizidek priesthood was ended with the golden calf and it is restored by Jesus, who the book of Hebrews calls a “a priest in the order of Malkizidek.

    Further, the Apostles draw lots to replace Judas after he commits suicide. This was a priestly practice of the Temple to determine who God wanted to enter the tabernacle. In addition, the Apostles specifically say they are filling Judas’ “office” (the actually use the term bishopric). Priest in the OT held their office for life. This shows that role of Apostle / Bishop was not attached intrinsically to the person but had an element of permanency.

    Another indication is in the book of James in which James tells the Church that if they are sick to call for the “elders” of the Church to anoint the sick person. Notice, even though there is a universal royal priesthood he does not say that anyone can do this anointing. The elders must be called. The elders are those who run the church and guide it, teach, etc. This goes back to the idea that while the term priest was not used for the assistants to the bishop they functioned as priests.

    For additional info on this question you can go here:

  3. Chris Daley says:

    If I’m understanding you right, the term “Elder” is referring to the priests.

    Then why in 1Tim3:1-5 , when Paul goes over the qualifications for being an elder , does he say that they must be faithful to their wife and manage their own family well, with children who respect him. For if a man cannot manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?

    This goes back to my question the other day, because I’m trying to understand that if the “elders” back then are now our current catholic priests, why the shift to celibacy?.
    It seems clearly stated that they wanted family men to fill that posisition

    Here is the whole verse for reference

    1 Timothy 3:1-5New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

    Qualifications of Bishops

    3 The saying is sure:[a] whoever aspires to the office of bishop[b] desires a noble task. 2 Now a bishop[c] must be above reproach, married only once,[d] temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way— 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?

  4. Chris Daley says:

    and I know you’ll tell me the there are married priest in the orthodox church, but I want to know what the rationale is from the Roman catholic church for complete celibacy on the part of its priests, bishops, etc.

  5. The verse you site is qualifications of BISHOPS. In the early Church there were married Bishops and priests. This was a practical necessity. As thousands of people converted the church needed to ordain qualified men. However, the vast majority of men were already married. As I described the other day Jesus did not require celibacy for Bishops and Priests but he strongly recommended it. Thus a married man could become become a bishop BUT he had to not only show personal holiness and understanding of the gospel etc, but also that he had succeed in managing his married life as well. The verse actually prohibits the remarriage of bishop if his first wife were to die.

    In addition, many of these men took a vow of celibacy but remained married. They would still live with their wives but no longer engage in sexual relations – again following Jesus’ strong suggestion that people who were devoting their lives to God should accept celibacy.

    Quickly, the Church saw the value of celibacy. Those men that adopted it at the outset of their ministry excelled and became saints. In the west, the tradition grew up of priestly celibacy but in the east it did not. Eventually, the Church made it the norm. We can see the result of that tradition today. It is the western church, that embraced celibacy that spread to the ends of the earth. no doubt there are more reasons than just that but celibacy is “a saint making machine”. It works exactly as Jesus predicted.

    If you have an interest in the biblical and historical development of this practice i have heard that this book is good (it’s on my list but i haven’t read it yet).

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