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Tentmaking

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an overview of the New Testament texts regarding Paul's "secular" work and its relationship to ministry

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Paul’s work described

, ,
Acts 18:3 ESV
and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.
2 Thessalonians 3:7-9
Acts 18:18–19 ESV
After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow. And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.

Tentmaker. These artisans made tents from a felted cloth of woven goats’ hair. The Greek term for tentmaker may have served to denote a range of activities in cloth and leather.

Tentmaker. These artisans made tents from a felted cloth of woven goats’ hair. The Greek term for tentmaker may have served to denote a range of activities in cloth and leather. The

1 Corinthians 4:12 ESV
and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure;
2 Corinthians 11:27 ESV
in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
2 Corinthians

Tentmaker. These artisans made tents from a felted cloth of woven goats’ hair. The Greek term for tentmaker may have served to denote a range of activities in cloth and leather.

Paul’s motivation for working

1. So as not to be a burden
1 Thess 2:9
2 Thessalonians 3:7–9 ESV
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. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.
1 Thessalonians 2:9 ESV
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 Thessalonians 2:9 ESV
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.
2 Thessalonians 3:7–9 ESV
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. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.
2. So as to not hinder the gospel
1 Corinthians 9:12 ESV
If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? 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.
1 Corinthians 9:18 ESV
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.

Paul’s example to others

Acts 20:34-35
Acts 20:34–35 ESV
You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all 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.’ ”
2 Corinthians
2 Corinthians 12:14 ESV
Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.
2 Corinthians
2 Corinthians 11:9 ESV
And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.
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