I… Present the Gospel Free of Charge

Without question, God accepted the Apostle Paul’s service, demonstrating this acceptance by Paul’s evangelistic success and by performing miracles through Paul.

You will recall that Chapter 9 of the book of Acts, records the conversion of Saul, whose name later became Paul.  Paul had been persecuting Christians.  One day, while on the road to Damascus, a bright light shone around him, and his name was called by Jesus, who said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Saul ( Paul) responds, “Who are you, Lord?”  The voice responded, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.”  Paul was blinded for three days and had to be led around by friends. 

Paul’s ministry for Christ could be considered the most successful, next to that of Christ, Himself.  Let’s look now at one of many miracles that God performed through Paul.

Paul raised a dead person, a young man who had fallen from a window.  Acts 20:10-12 reads: But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, "Do not be troubled, for his life is in him." When he had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left. They took away the boy alive, and were greatly comforted.


Paul, after his conversion, was an apostle of superior faith. In addition, he was a tentmaker; he continued to practice this trade after his conversion. At this time, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to visit them, 3and he stayed and worked with them because they were tentmakers by trade, just as he was. (Acts 18: 1-3.)

Why did Paul continue to work with his hands rather than charge for preaching the gospel of Christ?  There are several reasons.  In I Corinthians, Chapter 9, Paul discusses this topic. In verse 9, Paul observes that under the Mosaic Law, an ox had the right to eat the corn that he was working. He continues, noting that those who served at the altar of the Mosaic temple, were fed by the food brought to the temple for the priests. In verse 14, he observes that those who preach the gospel should live of the gospel.  Then, in verse 15-18, he states: Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ . . . I have made no use of any of these rights (to receive pay for preaching Christ), nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision . . . What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

So, why didn’t he charge for his preaching?

First, he wanted his preaching to have maximum impact on his listeners. If he were to have accepted pay for preaching, his congregation could have wondered if he were preaching for money or for the love of teaching eternal salvation through Christ. 

Second, he did not want to be a financial burden to those he was shepherding.  For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God (1 Thess. 2:9).

For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 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 (2 Thess. 3:7–8).

Third, he wanted to be an example of a spiritual shepherd being financially independent. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all these things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:34–35).

Fourth, Paul did not want to cheapen the gospel of salvation by peddling it as a door-to-door salesman, selling cheap pots and pans. You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ's authority, knowing that God is watching us. (2 Corinthians 2:17 (NLT.)

In conclusion, we see that from the standpoint of justice, Paul had the “right” to charge for his preaching. Think of the parable of the Good Samaritan. From a strict standpoint of justice, the Good Samaritan could have gone back to the man who was robbed and required repayment for his time and the money he spent on the victim at the inn.  However, being a Godly man, he did not do this. Why? Because he did unto his neighbor as he would have wanted his neighbor to do to him.  The joy of helping a victim, saving a life, was reward far beyond that of money. Repayment as a matter of justice did not cross his mind.

 Payment for preaching was rejected by Paul; the joy of seeing souls saved for God’s eternal Kingdom was his abundant reward.

Until next week, may God richly bless you and yours

 © 2005 Guthrie Memorial Chapel