What is the Biblical basis for preachers to be paid from members' tithing?
That's an easy question to answer. The key is to know what the title pastor was referred to in both the Old Testament & also the New Testament. They didn't use the term pastor, like we do today. In the OT the term pastor was called a Priest. In the NT the same title pastor is known as an Elder. (Some of the synonyms for those titles, can be found at the bottom of this message.)
If you use a Bible search engine like these & look for "priest" plus "tithe", you can find the answers which you're looking for. (Or you can scroll down & keep reading.)
Here is the OT answer from Numbers 18:28 (NIV):
In this way you also will present an offering to the Lord from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the Lord’s portion to Aaron the priest.
Aaron was the high priest. So the best part of the tithes was to go to him. We call that "the best of the best". It's the top 1%. (Formula: 100% / 10 = 10% / 10 = 1% = Best of the Best = the Lord's portion!)
Here are some NT answers:
Hebrews 7:5 (NIV):
Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham.
This is the verse which you're looking for:
1 Corinthians 9:12-13 (NIV):
Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
Here is why you're probably confused:
Paul didn't want to be a burden on anyone, so he chose tent making as his trade. Just remember that his calling was to be a traveling missionary to the Gentile world & not necessarily a stationary synagogue elder to the Jews in Jerusalem.
Part of Acts 18:2-3 (NET):
... Paul approached them, 3 and because he worked at the same trade, he stayed with them and worked with them (for they were tentmakers by trade).
Paul didn't want to take anything from the tithe as he wanted a reward. Paul just has a hard time explaining it though in 1st Corinthians 9:15-18. In v. 19, we see what his heart really wanted:
1 Corinthians 9:19 (ESV):
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.
There are some indirect verses too. Since I'm not going to do all of your Bible study homework for you, you can continue studying by checking out these verses too:
- See: Galatians 6:6
- See: 1 Corintians 9:11
- See: Genesis 14:18-20
- See: Luke 10 where Jesus sends out 72 local missionaries. Read verse 7.
If you're thinking about becoming a pastor, you'll need to read 1st Corinthians 9 plus the entire Bible, MANY MANY times & pray a lot to ask God if it's His will that you should become one! For the sake of your own eternal future, DO NOT choose the profession lightly! But seek His guidance through prayer & Bible study. Then patiently wait upon The Lord to answer you! If He says yes, then by all means pursue becoming a pastor! If He says no, then don't force it. See James 3:1 for the reason. Someday, I hope to see you in Heaven!
Here is a note about the title of the ordained office, for clarification purposes: One of the synonyms of the title for a priest/pastor/elder would be a Presbyter. Bible translations tend to refer to priests in the OT & elders in the NT. It's someone who reads the Words of God - AKA scrolls - and then teaches the congregation. The printing press wasn't invented until around 1440 A.D. Anyone who was called by God & then ordained by God & set apart where God gave them their primary job, which was to read His Word and/or copy His Word or translate His Word like Martin Luther did & preach + teach His Word to others, would be considered a priest, rabbi, elder, overseers, presbyter, bishop, reverend, pastor, etc... (The Internet wasn't invented until the 1960's with the WWW in 1990. Now we can easily get digital copies of the Bible for free!) Someone who didn't preach 2,000 years ago, but just copied scrolls, was a scribe. Someone who served under a priest, but isn't a full-time called & ordained pastor, but was allowed to serve in the church - like on weekends & is a full-time worker somewhere else... like in an office or a factory - is a deacon.