applying Paul's rhetorical question
Today as in the first century, the truth is there are saints, men as well as women, who may not necessarily wonder or miss the reference to oxen, but they fail to learn, or to accept and make those applications of the text because it disturbs their sensibilities. Those sensibilities will remain undisturbed as long as the saints do not look closer at presuppositions and conclusions taken from the Deuteronomy passages and the application of that passage by Jesus and Paul in the New Testament.
For instance, what was the gender of the laborer? Although it is not mentioned the saints tend to assume that it was male, but even IF, and I emphasize IF, that were the case does the assumption also follow that since the laborer is not female she is not worthy of her wages? Or, that her employer can unjustly withhold the wages due to her, because, after all, she is a woman?
Was the laborer a teacher in the passage? Again the type of work which the laborer performed was not specified. Since Jesus applied it to the Galilean fishermen preachers does anyone think that the matter of the laborer's wages is limited to preachers only? Furthermore, it seems that like as some saints, as Paul appears to have anticipated, might think and assume that God was concerned about oxen there are saints today who have just as mistakenly drawn their conclusions that the gender of those who are to preach and receive their compensation is limited to males. Yet, neither preachers or teachers nor gender were present in the original text which Jesus applied as he did, not just for the moment, but for our learning. In the spirit of Paul's rhetorical question about oxen; does anyone really think (another rhetorical question) Jesus was concerned that men and only men are to go and preach and that men and only men are to receive their compensation for doing so?
Then, there is an extended application on the teaching from these passages by Jesus and Paul. It is a matter which Paul presented to Timothy for his consideration. (II Timothy 2:7) It involved the livelihood of those who make their living through the preaching of the gospel. Paul illustrated for Timothy how soldiers and athletes keep themselves from becoming entangled in the affairs of this of life, and like the farmer who labors must be the first to get a share of the crops. (II Timothy 2:6) I cannot help but notice Paul’s use of the term labor perhaps to stir in Timothy’s mind a connection with the Leviticus passage. Similarly, I notice he is emphatic, unabashed and unapologetic to Timothy that this is a must. Yet, he did not command Timothy on the matter of Timothy’s livelihood, but Paul was confident that the precedent of the scriptures from Leviticus, to the teaching of Jesus, and the realities of the lives of athletes, soldiers and farmers would be just a few ways by which the Spirit would instruct Timothy concerning his livelihood.
Paul applied this same cumulative and combined teaching of the Law and Jesus’ teaching to elders. (He also applies it to Barnabas and himself. [I Corinthians 9:9]) The context of the Leviticus passage does not concern teachers, prophets or others who proclaim the word of God. Yet, Jesus, as he received from the Father, and Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, revealed for the understanding of the saints in Christ that this book, chapter and verse and its context use of the Leviticus passage represented an application of scripture which was valid, true, and _ biblical.