The apostle Paul never used manipulative tactics to raise support for his ministry. Paul chose to labor with his hands and pay his own way so that the truth of the gospel would not be hindered.

It’s remarkable that so many Christians don’t know that Paul worked to provide for himself and others in the ministry. Paul says the following in the book of Acts:

I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring 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. ~ Acts 20:33-35

Paul believed in working and paying your own way if possible.

For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 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: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an example unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10

You may find it interesting to know what I learned from a friend who is skilled in the Greek language. The handkerchiefs taken from Paul, which were used to heal the sick and drive out demons (Acts 19:12), were most likely those used for wiping the sweat during his making of tents.

Paul had the right to ask for support but chose not to do so, so that the gospel would not be hindered (see 1 Corinthians 9). In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul addresses the gullibleness of the Corinthians who had allowed other “so-called apostles” to take advantage of them in contrast to how he had ministered to them without charge.

Paul says to the Corinthians, Now I am coming to you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you. I don’t want what you have — I want you. After all, children don’t provide for their parents. Rather, parents provide for their children.  ~ 2 Corinthians 12:14 

Paul also appealed to the Corinthians to raise support for the poor saints in Jerusalem who were in need of help. He did not teach those poor saints who were in need to sow a seed to his ministry. On the contrary, he encouraged their brethren in Christ, who had the means to help, to give generously. He taught those who could help to do so within their means and as a result God would bless them, and their giving, and this would bring forth the fruit unto the praise and glory of God. ~ See 2 Corinthians chapters 8 & 9

Paul was also cautious about how this gift was to be handled. Consider Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 8:

We are also sending another brother with Titus. All the churches praise him as a preacher of the Good News. He was appointed by the churches to accompany us as we take the offering to Jerusalem —a service that glorifies the Lord and shows our eagerness to help. We are traveling together to guard against any criticism for the way we are handling this generous gift. We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable.  ~ 2 Corinthians 8:18-21

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul thanks them for their generous gift of support for his ministry by saying the following:

How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness. At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:10-19

As can be seen from the text above, though he was sometimes supported by the gifts of some (namely the Philippians), Paul wasn’t one who went around teaching people to “sow seed” into his ministry and promising them that God would cancel their debts or make them rich.

Paul was a true minister of the gospel.

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