The Unmuzzled Ox
Deuteronomy 25:4“You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain”.
This Mosaic regulation would seem rather insignificant, except that it is quoted twice in the New Testament.
1 Corinthians 9:9-10For the law of Moses says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.”[a] Was God thinking only about oxen when he said this?
Yes, but that is not the main purpose behind this law. Wasn’t he actually speaking to us? Yes, it was written for us, so that the one who plows and the one who threshes the grain might both expect a share of the harvest.
This application is drawn in 1 Corinthians 9:14 In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it
That is, supporting financially those who devote full time to God’s work is not “charitable giving,” but compensation for services, with the pay to be provided by those who receive the benefit of their labors.
This is even more clear in the second reference:
1 Timothy 5:17-18“Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well,[a] especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!”,
the latter part quoting words of Christ in Luke 10:7Don’t move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay.
Incidentally, note that both New Testament and Old Testament Scriptures are considered divinely inspired and authoritative on any subject with which they deal.
The subject here is just compensation for those who devote their time, training, and abilities to the work of the Word, under the call and leading of God, as recognized by the people of God. This seemingly insignificant principle, if faithfully obeyed, would greatly enlarge the effectiveness and outreach of the Christian witness in the world.