x413.......Partakers Of The Altar
1Co 9:13* Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things
live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar
are partakers with the altar?
this verse is very often take out of context, and used to try to say
that within the church--there is meant to be the "some " of ministry
who are the special ones--the "New Covenant Levites" which somehow have the Biblical right to "partake of the altar"--meaning
that some Christians have the right to make a living from their ministry--and in fact to be supported by the other Christians in their area--in their church.
Now, just taken this way--out of context--we can say that in fact this
statement is true--but it must line up with the rest of scripture. It is
true that ministers--people who serve God, do have the right to ask for support from other Christians--and in fact we are all meant to give to other people's ministries. But the fact is that all Christians are made priests unto God--
Re 1:6* And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father;
to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Re
5:10* And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Now this teaching--that those who minister about the altar can partake of the altar starts to make sense. Now we see how this lines up with the distribution in Acts chapters 2 and 4. IN these areas of scripture, we see the New church, directly after the day of Pentecost--pooling their money together--some selling their lands and homes--so that "none in the church had any lack". The simple fact is that they were all supporting the ministries which all the saints were participating in. They put as #1 priority the idea that no one within he church had a any lack--simply because of the fact that they all were made priests--they all had ministry to function in--they all were serving God in their anointings and gifts. It is very clear that they were not giving all their money to the apostles---as the Bible states--
34* Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were
possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the
prices of the things that were sold, 35* And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according
as he had need. (Acts 4: 34-35)
(It is very interesting to note that they were operating in the opposite way that we are--we "lay our money down at the pastor's feet--and he builds a house--in the book of acts--they were selling their land and homes--so that all the "houses of God"--all the homes of Christians--had no lack. They were not building their own temple--their own sanctuary--they realized that every Spirit-filled Christian was the temple of the Holy Spirit--and thus had the right to be a partaker of the altar--as they had need--not by tithing law!)
1Corinthians 16 tells us about he collection--which was "for the saints"--not for the "ministry" --not for the "apostles"--nor for the elders or the bishops---but "for the saints"
1Co 16:1* Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
Again this lines up exactly with the rest of the New Testament way of doing things --to support the ministry of all the people--to support all the "houses of God" which the church consisted of.
"Distributing to the necessity of saints;...." (Romans 12:13)
It was considered important t feed and support all he people in the
church since all were priests--all had the right to receive money for
Paul does not indicate that only "some" partake of the altar.
Jesus said that we must not use authority over one another--but that all
serve--as He did--and to eat at His table--to partake of the altar.
25* And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship
over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are
called benefactors. 26* But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he
that doth serve. 27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you
as he that serveth. 28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29* And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my
Father hath appointed unto me; 30* That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes
of Israel. (Luke 22: 25-30)
There again is no designation that only "some" can serve God--or that "some" have authority over others--as many would teach in the church--(and unfortunately have taught for hundreds of years). In the OT --God clearly and specifically designated one tribe of Israel--the Levites__as the delegated--designated anointed appointed authority which had the right to minister unto God in the temple. This is very very clear and understood in the Old Covenant.
But Jesus here is clearly making a New covenant change for the old. He uses the words "apoint unto you a kingdom"---The Greek word used here--(which is the only time in the entire Bible which Jesus spoke this term!) means to render over the covenant--(diatithemi)---this is meant to be the operational principle of the New covenant--and a specific change from Old Covenant to New.
But tradition which has existed for hundreds of years in the church has ignored these words of Jesus--ignored His New covenant principle--and built our ideas of the form and function of ministry and authority within the church upon the Old Covenant concepts of the Levitcal priesthood. It is very rarely openly taught--but most of what we operate by in regard to ministry and authority come from the Old Covenant--and these things are specifically dealt with in the New Covenant as being changed.
If we read further in the book of 1Corinthians, we see something which gives us a further explanation of who can "partake of the altar--
17* For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers
of that one bread. 18* Behold Israel after the flesh: are
not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? (1 cor 11: 17-18)
Paul is making the point here that we all are partakers of the Lord's
supper--which in part is the representation of the partaking of the
altar bread. He relates this to Israel--It was only the Levites--only the priests--which could partake of the altar--which could eat the
bread that is holy before God.
But in our New Covenant, all Christians have the right to partake of
the bread of the altar--all are priests unto God--all have the right to
serve God and minister. We all ought to walk worthy of what the Lord Jesus has brought us into through His blood on the cross and His death and resurrection. He has purchased us the right to sit at His table--to eat His bread--the bread of the altar--and thus we are all made servants unto God. All Christians have the right to serve God--and all have the right to receive money for this cause--ALL have the right to be supported in their ministry unto the Lord.