Robbing Peter to Pay Paul



By Bill Burkett




The Peter Factor – Peter has been with the church since the beginning. He has become quite well known by the brethren. They are always glad to see him. You might say, he is a seasoned veteran missionary within the fellowship.

The Paul Factor – Then suddenly there comes the shocking news from the brethren in Jerusalem that the notorious Saul of Tarsus, the vicious persecutor of the church has been gloriously converted and is now serving Christ! From time to time news of how his ministry and increasing influence, especially upon the Gentiles, a real mission field, is shaking the whole Roman empire! Paul’s exposure to the church increases and now we have two missionaries out there, one to the Jews (Peter) and one to the Gentiles (Paul).

Robbing Peter To Pay Paul – The question is; “If I am already supporting Peter, how can I support Paul, too.” At first it seems to be a bit of a dilemma but after a little thought (and a token prayer), I decide to have a board meeting with the elders and just suggest to them that we cut Peter’s support in half and split it with Paul, the new missionary. The brethren all agree for the sake of harmony and it’s settled.

Suddenly Peter starts getting offerings from you through the mail and he is delighted!

But Peter’s offering has been cut in half causing him great concern. Not hearing anything from the pastor his mind is troubled. “What does this mean?” He would call but then the pastor may think he only calls when money is involved. So he commits it to the Lord.

One afternoon at a fellowship gathering a group of pastors were discussing their church missions budgets. One of them said, “Well, I cut Peter’s support in half and gave half of his support to brother Paul… Peter’s getting plenty of support anyway.”

But at the very time he was saying this, Peter was sending a message to a distant country canceling a crusade because he did not have the funds to make the trip. Later he had to turn down another urgent invitation. In fact, he had promised support to some brethren in Africa and India and had to write and put them off. Peter is borrowing money on notes taken at the bank in order to give promised help.

Such remarks that, “Peter has plenty of support anyway,” is irresponsible. The danger of such thoughtless statements is that others who hear such remarks made by a man who has no idea of what he is talking about, may just believe it as being a fact when in reality Peter is struggling to make ends meet.

The answer is not in ROBBING PETER TO PAY PAUL and then drop a remark that could hurt Peter’s ministry. No! No! Let’s help both of them without robbing or hurting either of them.

Before we reveal The Peter and Paul Principle, let’s consider another serious condition that is robbing both Peter and Paul.


If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: (11) For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. 2 John 1:10-11

Pastors should be selective in who they support. It is part of the shepherd’s responsibility to regard matters of pure doctrine in those ministries represented by the church. While dedicated ministries suffer privation and inadequate living standards, those with flamboyant and worldly lifestyles are being backed by powerful missionary organizations.

If holiness missionaries had the money sent to liberal missionaries who do not even believe in the gospel being preached by the churches supporting them, there would be hundreds and thousands of dollars available to Peter and Paul and all of the Timothys going out after them!

Why should we support men financially that we do not support doctrinally? The missionaries your church supports should carry the same message you preach to your church.

I will be accountable to God for supporting people who do not carry a pure message of holiness to the foreign fields. Romans 16:17-18; 1 Timothy 6:3-5

We would be quick to say that it is never right to stop support of a missionary while they are on the field, no matter the reason for stopping their support. Such changes should be made ethically and preferably when the missionary returns home on his next furlough.

It is understandable that there are certain situations that pastors did not themselves create. Sometimes they inherited their missionary problems. There are many valid reasons why especially a new pastor wants to revamp his missionary program. Maybe the new pastor’s missionary philosophy prefers to support several missionaries with less money than one missionary with a large amount. There is nothing wrong with this thinking. Some pastors are more comfortable with it. Now let’s talk about how to best make these changes.


This pastor wants the missions support of the church to have broader effect. But, while the new missionary is delighted with his new support, the missionary being cut will be saddened. Remember too, the larger the amount the missionary is receiving the more he will feel it when he gets his support reduced.

THE ETHICAL PROCEDURE – If you must cut the support of a missionary you have been supporting, the kind and ethical thing to do would be to (a) notify the missionary whose support will be cut. Explanations are not necessary, just so he knows it’s coming, (b) Make the change in his support to start at a future date giving him several months or till the first of the year to begin the change, (c) Tell him how much the reduction will be and what amount he will be receiving after the date of the change.

Now that we have considered the careless approach to the Peter and Paul problem, let’s get to THE PETER AND PAUL PRINCIPLE and see how it works.


So, Paul has come to hold you some meetings and you have a real witness in your heart that you are to start supporting him. You fully realize you’re supporting Peter, but Peter doesn’t really come to mind because this pastor knows the secret: He understands THE PETER AND PAUL PRINCIPLE.

When Paul is finished speaking the pastor steps to the pulpit and asks for a show of hands of those who feel the church should start supporting brother Paul. Hands go up all over the church. The pastor expresses his approval of the church helping. “I feel we should help brother Paul with fifty dollars a month. Let us pray.”

The pastor asks the Lord to speak to each one as they become a part of Paul’s ministry. “Now,” the pastor says to his people, “I am asking 25 people to raise your hand saying you will support this ministry with two dollars a month.” He no sooner gets the words out of his mouth and the hands all go up together. As they count the hands from the platform there are actually 31 individuals pledging to help brother Paul! Even some children pledged!

The pastor says, “Fine, we have counted hands and will be able to pledge 62 dollars a month to brother Paul, our new missionary to the Gentiles, for an indefinite period of time. Those of you who raised your hand in pledge of support take an offering envelope from the pew in front of you, place your name and address on it, check ‘missionary pledge’ on the back of the envelope and the ushers will now come and collect the envelopes so we have a record to give to our missions secretary.”

Let us now examine THE PETER AND PAUL PRINCIPLE a little closer:

1. The pledges were intentionally small for several reasons.

2. So the church could add more missionaries that will come along later. In a smaller church it could be one dollar pledges or a smaller amount with the two dollar pledges.

3. So that each family or individual can take on another pledge of support later and handle several easily.

4. Enabling the missionary support to be distributed evenly throughout the body avoiding dependence on just a few sources with large amounts of support.

5. It gives the body the feeling of direct involvement and spreads the blessing and sense of fulfillment over the enure congregation.

6. Even the poor and the young people can pledge such amounts, becoming involved in the missionary vision of the church.

7. When any person should move away from the church or decease, the amount lacking can be easily picked up by a new pledger(s).

8. It gives a sense of direct contact with the missionaries they are supporting.

9. The following month if they had another missionary they wanted to support they would be able to start his support the same way.

10. The missionary budget is determined by the people making direct contact with the missionary and not a mechanical missionary offering taken with little missionary spirit.

11. The missions secretary keeps a record of those who have pledged and monitors the amounts received with the pledges.

12. No other missionary is affected by another missionary being added. The people are personally committed to their own missionaries.

13. In the announcements of the church or in the church bulletin, reminders are placed reminding pledgers of their responsibility.

14. An education in missions is good, explaining to the church how to handle their pledges and to report any pledges that have to be dropped. They may even want to ask someone to take over their pledge in the event they move away from the church or are laid off work.

15. The pledges are so small that even an unemployed person may want to keep up their pledges, or some of them.

16. The support of a new missionary taps the missionary resources of the church increasing the giving of the people rather than cutting up a pie from whatever comes in the monthly missionary offering.

17. Giving brings joy and life to the giver and God’s blessings on the church.

18. Taking the need to the body, allows body participation.

19. It means you will discover a whole new potential source of missionary support you never knew you had.

20. It means there is no limit to the missionaries you can support. As you increase your giving your numbers will increase enabling the church to give more.

21. It gives the Christian at home the feeling he is personally linked with “his” missionary and helps him to pray intelligently for the missionary he is supporting.

*For other Missionary Projects: Amend the church constitution requiring at least ten percent of the churches’ weekly income to be placed in the missionary fund for the missions budget needs.

GOD’S CYCLE OF CHARITY – The more God blesses, the more we are able to give back into the Kingdom. Perpetual revival is possible where God’s people have learned THE PETER AND PAUL PRINCIPLE.

by Bill Burkett

Box 90
Anderson, MO 64831

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul pamphlets are available
1-100 copies @ 10 cents each;
101 or more copies @ 8 cents each.

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