Is there scriptural support for paying clergy a salary?
Mormon missionaries visited my home recently and, among other things, condemned as unbiblical the Catholic custom of paying priests and bishops. They were quite proud of the fact that the Mormon church has no paid clergy, claiming they follow the pattern set by the first Christians. I was uncomfortably silent because I had no idea where to look in the Bible for verses that support the Catholic position. Are there any?
Yes. Start your response with 1 Corinthians 9. In verses 7-12 Paul takes up this very topic, asking,
Whoever serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating its produce? Or who shepherds a flock without using some of the milk from the flock? Am I saying this on human authority or does not the law also speak of these things?
It is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is God concerned about oxen, or is he not really speaking for our sake? It was written for our sake, for the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher in hope of receiving a share. If we have sown spiritual seed for you, is it a great thing that we reap a material harvest from you? If others share in this rightful claim on you, do not we still more?
He goes on to specify that even though he would be completely justified in being paid for his ministry (v. 18), he chose to forego that right in order to eliminate a potential source of criticism from his detractors. He explains in verses 13 and 14, "Do you not know that those who perform the temple services eat what belongs to the temple, and those who minister at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the gospel should live by the gospel." Also see Romans 15:26-27, 2 Thessalonians 2:6-10, and 2 Timothy 2:6.