How much should we pay missionaries?
Paul put it this way: “see that they lack nothing” (Titus 3:13). He was talking about providing for Zenas and Apollos who were probably the equivalent of a missionary today. At the very least, they were being sent by a church on a mission. We know Apollos was itinerant minister and Zenas was a “lawyer” which meant he was a teacher of the law. Paul was instructing that when Zenas and Apollos were sent, they were supposed to have all their needs provided for.
That is the basic meaning of the word “propempo” which in this verse is translated “see that they lack nothing.” It has the idea that when you send someone on a journey, they are to be well provisioned.
That still begs the question of how much a missionary should receive in financial support. Regardless a the dollar figure, their expenses were to be cared for. The Apostle John wrote to his friend Gaius and answered the question this way: “You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God” (3 John 6). That makes it even more difficult. It would have been easier if there was a exact amount. The standard for supporting missionaries is to do it like you are supporting Jesus. This concept was taught by Jesus.
“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Mt 25:37).
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward” (Mt 10:41-42).
Perhaps we should be asking if we are paying too little instead of asking if we are paying too much.
Paul Seger, BMW