…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

Why Paul chose to support his ministry through tentmaking?

Apostle Paul chose to support his ministry through tentmaking.

However, … Paul did not subject his choice on other church leaders.

1 Timothy 5:17,18
17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

This post is a sequel to a previous post
on Paul’s marketplace ministry (click here)


So, why did Paul chose to self-support his ministry and missionary trips?


1 Corinthians 9:18 (NKJV)
What is my reward then?
That when I preach the gospel,
I may present the gospel of Christ without charge,
that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.

2 Corinthians 2:17 (NIV)cointip
 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.

For Paul, … unlike so many, to present the gospel of Christ without charge (free of charge) to those who have not heard of Jesus.  His motive was not for any profit, but to honor the Lord with sincerity and truth in his message.  Build trust.

not abuse my authority in the gospel  Not manipulate his audience for profit or greed, through abusing the privilege of his position of authority or influence, … in order to serve them free of charge.
unlike so many — it seems during Paul’s time, profiteering was common.

In Paul’s words — We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, …
2 Corinthains 6:3-5 (NIV)

the gospel of Christ Jesus Christ was the center/heart of Paul’s message.
His message brought people to personally encounter Christ,
the Word of God.

When Jesus sent out his disciples to preach the gospel,
He commissioned them,

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,drive out demons.
Freely you have received; freely give.
Matthew 10:7,8 (NIV)

Similarly in Paul’s ministry,

1 … Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus …
Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 … He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.
10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.
11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, …

Acts 19:1, 8-11 (NIV)

i.e., Proclaim Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God,  minister healing and deliverance.
Freely you have received; freely give

1 Thessalonians 2:8,9 (NIV)
8  … Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship;
we worked night and day
in order not to be a burden to anyone
while we preached the gospel of God to you.

For Paul, … not to be a burden to anyone,
relieve the church by
 self-support of his gospel ministry through his tentmaking work.
Through his work, Paul also shared his life as well — a Christ-like lifestyle in word, work and deed, in the community.
Any lack of financial support would not deter Paul from preaching the gospel, and minister to others … even if it meant he worked night and day, toil and hardship … fulfilling his heavenly calling.

share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well
For Paul, the gospel is shared through word and deed,
… up close and personal (not from afar), … an open book,
discipling through everyday life living.

“Isn’t this the carpenter? …” Mark 6:3 (NIV)
God did not just send us a teaching manual to read,
or a workbook to fill with right answers,
God sent to us an example to follow,
His Son,
the living Word,
down to earth
to live and work amongst us,

Jesus said, “… Anyone who has seen me
has seen the Father …”

John 14:9 (NIV)

Also, the stories of Jesus and the parables He taught were mostly framed upon the canvas of everyday life, and the concerns/challenges of ordinary folks.  Jesus lived out His life for all to see.  Before Jesus started his ministry, He worked as a carpenter.

Through sharing and living his life out with the people around him,
Paul was certainly not a leader that one only meets once a week through a sermon.

because we loved you so much, motivated by love,
by being a blessing to the people around him;
living, working, and immersed in the ordinary lives of the community he ministered to, and loved.

“You can impress people at a distance but you can only impact them up close”
— Howard Hendricks

2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 (NIV)
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us

For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you,nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate.

For Paul, … follow our examplethrough his life and lifestyle for his disciples to imitate,
i.e. not being idle, but productive, paying others their fair due, and not take others for granted.
Even though he was a minister of the gospel, he chose to forgo the right to such help.
Paul chose to work in the marketplace, so that he could set an example for his disciples to follow.

Paul told them … and he showed them.
follow our example … a model for you to imitate,

He personally mentored, discipled.
He demonstrated to them how to integrate their faith and God’s word into daily life,  … through his own life, in down-to-earth and practical everyday situations

 somethings are taught … somethings are caught

Paul’s discipling was both teaching and following the life/lifestyle of believers like him.
It was not all talk or church activities, … but a caring Christ-like walk
an inspiring tangible example to emulate, follow

Authentic, .. sincere, .. real, … down-to-earth … simple, relevant,
straightforward, matter-of-fact,
… ‘one of us
… a peer, … a colleague, … a friend;

not shrouded in theological buzz-words,
or deep spiritual experiences.

Dressed in ordinary workman’s clothes,
with a brow of sweat, seasoned rough hands,
and a wholesome, beckoning warm smile,
making quality tents.

Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters,
and just as you have us as a model,

keep your eyes on those who live
as we do.
Philippians 3:17 (NIV)

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said …
Matthew 4:19 (NIV)

Can we honestly say … follow my example, brothers and sisters?

Through his life mentoring and discipling, Paul described the fruit of his ministry,

The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.
2 Corinthians 3:2,3 (NLT)

Like Paul, his disciples were also living, shining examples for Jesus in the community…
a letter from Christ …. everyone can read it and recognize
… written with the Spirit of the living God, carved on human hearts.

In business speak, … a brand promise.

Jesus said,
A disciple is not above his teacher,
but everyone who is perfectly trained
will be like his teacher.
Luke 6:40 (NKJV)

1 Thessalonians 4:11,12 (NIV)
11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

By working with his hands:
For Paul,not be dependent on anybody.
Not dependent or beholden on others,
so that he could boldly preach the gospel,
un-hindered by the ‘political correctness‘ or opinions of others.

For Paul, … your daily life may win the respect of outsiders,
win the respect of outsiders through everyday life,
not just mere talk/preaching … an authentic caring Christ-like walk alongside those who have yet to know Jesus in the community … eg his customers, suppliers in his tentmaking work, co-workers, neighbors, other business people, etc.

Running a profitable business also involves … dealing with difficult customers/suppliers, collecting late payments from customers, addressing customer complaints, managing customer expectations, … managing cash flow & costs, managing inventory, tax returns, sales/marketing, customer service, etc.
Living out God’s word in God’s work with integrity in the marketplace.

Being an active part of the community also helps Paul have his finger on the pulse of the community, and be in-tune with the needs of the people around him.

Paul took his faith and lived it out in the community by being a blessing,
demonstrating how God works in practice in the marketplace.

Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

At his farewell with the elders of the church in Ephesus, Paul shared,

Acts 20:31-35 (NASB)
31 Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. 35 In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

For PaulIt is more blessed to give‘, … through his earnings he was able to help others and the weak financially,  and also support my own needs and the men who were with me.   God prospered his tentmaking enterprise with surplus to support others … his tents were well made and well-received by the market.

As Paul’s needs and others were well met, … and through his giving to support others … there was no need to covet other’s silver or gold or clothes (greed, covetousness).

By the way, Barnabas who co-labored with Paul on their mission journeys,
also worked to support his ministry.
Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves? ..
We work wearily with our own hands to earn our living
1 Corinthains 9:6, 4:12 (NLT)

However, … Paul was not adverse to receiving support.
Paul did receive faithful support from the believers in Macedonia, his friends, who partnered with his ministry in the matter of giving and receiving.   

Philippians 4:15-19 (NIV)
15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

When Paul had a shortfall from his tentmaking, timely assistance came from the Macedonian Christians.

“God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”
— Hudson Taylor

Paul expressed his gratitude to the generosity of the Philippians in Macedonia for their partnership with him and the Lord.  He complimented them for their support.  The Lord will honor their faith and meet their needs.

1 Corinthians 11:9 (NIV)
And when I was with you and needed something,
I was not a burden to anyone,
for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed.
I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way,
and will continue to do so.

Paul’s needs in Corinth were met by the generosity of the Macedonian believers.
I have more than enough … I am amply supplied
He was contented, … and not greedy for more.
Paul’s focus was on ministry … true eternal riches, … not the riches of this world.

Interestingly, the Macedonian church was pioneered by Paul through a vision,

Acts 16:9,10 (NIV)
During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

In his 2 letters to the Thessalonians, its clear that Paul was extremely focused and committed in his ministry, … he worked, toiled, labored night and day.

1 Thessalonians 3:7-10 (NIV)
Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.
How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.

His motivation/vision was for the believers to stand firm in the Lord, and not lack in their faith ... desiring eagerly to build up their faith.
Most importantly,
night and day Paul prayed most earnestly for the believers he served.
He truly wanted what’s best for them.
— the heart of a discipler, mentor.

8  … Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.
1 Thessalonians 2:8 (NIV)

Paul loved them!
He loved all the people he ministered/shared his life with.

Its clear that Paul was committed to the ministry of the gospel —
the transparent life he lived amongst the believers and others in the community,
… night and dayprayer, ministry and work.
Paul wrote — Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
1 Corinthians 11:28 (NIV)

With everything going around him,
Paul must have been a very disciplined and focused person,
a multi-tasker, creative problem solver,
not a procrastinator, skilled at prioritizing his busy calendar,
giving his utmost to the Highest,
anointed and led by the Spirit of God,
practical, down-to-earth and got things timely done.

He certainly will thrive in our 24/7 internet age.

In humility Paul shared,

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them,
yet not I,
but the grace of God with me.
1 Corinthians 15:10 (NASB)

In Paul’s words,

26:19… I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,

15:15  … because of the grace given to me by God,
16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles,
ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
17 Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God. 18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me,
in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient—
19 in mighty signs and wonders,
by the power of the Spirit of God, so that
from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum
I have fully preached the gospel of Christ
20 And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation
(Acts 26:19, Romans 15:15-20 NKJV)

Even today, we are blessed by Paul’s ministry
which has gone right round the world as he desired,
the fruit of his devotion,
through the grace & vision given to him by God.

Truly an inspiration, a great example!

Praise God!


1 Corinthians 3:10-13
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.

Marketplace | Discipling

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
September 6, 2015

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License



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