Tentmakers then and now


Acts 18:3-4 Tentmakers

Acts 18:5 Jesus is the Christ
ACTS 18:3-4  3 So, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers. 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.

What did Paul begin to do in Corinth?
He went to "the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks" (Acts 18:4). And during the week, he worked as a tentmaker with Aquila and Priscilla, fellow "tentmakers" (Acts 18:3).

What did "tentmakers" do?
The made tents - portable temporary shelter - either out of leather, which was the typical material for tents back then, and/or the cilicium, the thick goats' hair for which Cilicia, Paul's home province in today's southern Turkey, was famous.

Should preachers like Paul work a "trade" (Acts 18:3) or be financially supported by Christians?
With false preachers already running around squeezing money out of people, Paul stated his Biblical right to receive material support from the Christians he taught, which he chose to forego at times during his ministry so that nobody could accuse him of having preached to make money from people and in effect claim that his preaching was "void": "Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 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. 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? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the Gospel should live from the Gospel. But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void" (1 Corinthians 9:7-15). The Bible instructs Christians to provide for their Bible teachers - "Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches" (Galatians 6:6) - and specifies, "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages" (1 Timothy 5:17-18), as well as, "As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:9). Taken together, these verses indicate that preachers who "rule well ... especially those who labor in the word and doctrine" - i.e., according to the Bible - should receive "double honor," while those who preach unbiblically - "preaches any other Gospel to you than what you have received" - not only forego "honor" but in fact are to be "accursed." This meritocracy directs financial support to Biblical preaching to expand it, and away from unbiblical preaching to silence it.

Is this the case among today's preachers?
Typically in the West today, the amount of "honor" received by a preacher depends on his ability to entertain and tell the audience what it wants to hear, which then increases the size of the audience, rather than his adherence to the Bible, as well as the frequency and the fervency with which he begs for money.

In the Bible, how many servants of God asked - let alone begged - other Christians to give them money for their ministry?
None. And the collection Paul took up was for other Christians in need, not for himself (see Acts 20).

Why is there no case of God's servants begging for money in the Bible?
God provides for the ministries that are His, often without His servants even having to ask for His provision. And a true servant of God, if in financial need, asks God, who then moves the hearts of the Christians who are guarding His resources to disburse it to the servant who prayed to Him.

What about the preachers on television who beg for money and say that if their ministry doesn't get your money, it will need to go off the air?
Begging people for money for what they claim to be "God's work" blasphemes the Creator and the Owner of the universe as a pauper. Blasphemers should repent and go off the air.

What about "ministries" that sell for money copies of the messages that God supposedly spoke through them?

What should Christians guarding God's provision do?
Stop supporting "ministries" that ask/beg/demand/charge money. Instead, look for and support with both money and prayers the ministries whose teachings and actions adhere to the Bible.