Ministers of the gospel are worthy of wages, but are not greedy of filthy lucre. This study will explain the difference.
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by Mitch Kuhn
Not Greedy of Filthy Lucre
1Ti 3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous
This means not desiring to gain things that are shameful.
From G150 and κέρδος kerdos (gain); sordid: – given to (greedy of) filthy lucre.
From the same as G153; shameful, that is, base (specifically venal): – filthy.
These verses are a part of the qualifications for elders in Titus 1.
Tit 1:9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be
able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who
Tit 1:10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers,
especially those of the circumcision party.
Tit 1:11 ESV They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.
Here is the root word of G150.
From αἶσχος aischos (disfigurement, that is, disgrace); to feel shame (for oneself): – be ashamed.
Php 1:20 ESV as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all
ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my
body, whether by life or by death.
1Pe 4:15 ESV But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or
as a meddler.
1Pe 4:16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let
him glorify God in that name.
1Jn 2:28 ESV And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we
may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.
1Jn 2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
An elder must teach things that are pleasing to God and not shameful. He teaches others to pursue riches of the Spirit, not things of the world. This qualification really speaks to the motivation of the minister and what is their intent. Here is what our desire should be.
3Jn 1:2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good
health, as it goes well with your soul.
3Jn 1:3 For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth,
as indeed you are walking in the truth.
3Jn 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in
Php 1:23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with
Christ, for that is far better.
Php 1:24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
Php 1:25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for
your progress and joy in the faith,
Php 1:26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus,
because of my coming to you again.
Php 1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that
whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing
firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel
Pro 23:24 The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.
An elder’s true joy is to see those he teaches standing in the truth of God’s words,
and reaping the good fruits of sowing to the spirit.
One aspect of being greedy for filthy lucre is desiring to sell the gospel for money.
There are many ministers in the world that make their ministry all about money.
Even the more honorable ministers who do not overtly fleece the flock still often
charge for the truth.
Pro 23:23 Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and
If anyone is selling the gospel in anyway then they are preaching another Gospel.
Paul preached the Gospel free of charge.
1Co 9:18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may
make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the
What does he mean, “that I abuse not my power in the gospel?” Paul has a right to
make a living of the gospel, but forgoes that right at times when dealing with babes
in Christ. 1 Corinthians is written to a very carnal church. These are questioning the
Gospel that Paul has preached to them, and even question if Paul is an Apostle.
1Co 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto
carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
1Co 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able
to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
1Co 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife,
and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
1Co 9:1 Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?
are not ye my work in the Lord?
1Co 9:3 Mine answer to them that do examine me is this
There are so many issues going on in Corinth, from fornication to divisions,
contentions, lawsuits among believers, disorderly gatherings, and more. Paul is
dealing with a group of babies here, so he has to be careful how he works with
Part of a true ministers “power in the Gospel” is to make a living by preaching the
1Co 9:6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?
1Co 9:7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a
vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not
of the milk of the flock?
1Co 9:8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
1Co 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of
the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
1Co 9:10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is
written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in
hope should be partaker of his hope.
1Co 9:11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall
reap your carnal things?
1Co 9:12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather?
Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should
hinder the gospel of Christ.
1Co 9:13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the
things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
1Co 9:14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should
live of the gospel.
This is very different than being greedy of fifthly lucre or charging for the Gospel.
2Co 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not
grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
There are times that Paul DID use this power in the gospel, when he had cheerful
givers. Here is how cheerful giving works. God sends you one of his messengers, a
minister, to preach the word of God to you.
Rom 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and
how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they
hear without a preacher?
Rom 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How
beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring
glad tidings of good things!
This truth sets you free.
Joh 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
You are so filled with joy that you give up your old life an begin to sow your life to
the Spirit instead of to the flesh.
Mat 13:44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
You now want others to have the same joy that you have. Here is an example of
this happening to the churches in Macedonia.
2Co 8:1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on
the churches of Macedonia;
2Co 8:2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
2Co 8:3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
2Co 8:4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
2Co 8:5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to
the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
These churches are so grateful for what they received in the Spirit, that they
basically begged Paul ando those with him to take
their gifts so they could be a part of ministering to the saints.
Here are some more details from the church at Phillipi, a church in Macedonia.
Php 4:15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I
departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
Php 4:16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
Here the Philippians are ministering to Paul’s needs, so he can do the work of
spreading the Gospel. Pay close attention to this next verse.
Php 4:17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
This is the motivation of a true minister of the Gospel, for fruit of the SPIRIT to
abound on their account. Paul knows that anything given to him, since he is
ministering the true word of God, is a sacrifice to God himself.
Php 4:18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
The Corinthians do not understand this yet. They are not grateful for Paul, and do
not see that he is a minister sent from God and worthy of double honor.
1Th 5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you,
and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
1Th 5:13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
1Ti 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
In due time, the Corinthians will come to desire to communicate with Paul in giving and receiving just like the Philippians. This will be a part of them gaining the life of Christ.
Gal 6:6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in
all good things.
Gal 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that
shall he also reap.
Gal 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he
that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
Not that anyone can buy the Spirit of God, it just demonstrates and expresses that where you treasure is your heart will be also.
Mat 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Elders know that it is more blessed to given that to receive. They know that by spending your time, energy, and money on spreading the Gospel you will reap great treasure in the Spirit. They are NOT greedy for filthy gain, they are desiring to see fruit about on your account.
Act 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
I know that many have been abused by tithing in the past, seeing preachers get rich while the church suffers in poverty. A true minister of the gospel understands the following verses, and is always willing to work when joyful givers are not present to fund the work of the ministry.
1Ti 6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of
words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
1Ti 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth,
supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
1Ti 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1Ti 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry
1Ti 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
1Ti 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many
foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
1Ti 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
2Th 3:7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;
2Th 3:8 Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:
2Th 3:9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.
2Th 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
Elders are also not selfish. They will teach you to care for the entire body of Christ, and to meet the needs of the poor around you as well.
Jas 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
1Co 12:23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
1Co 12:24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
1Co 12:25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
Deu 26:12 When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase
the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled