…both the bishop and the clergy depended on the good will of the laity for funds in the first place. At first, they were supported by a “dividend system,” financed by the total of their Christians’ offerings: the sum seems to have been paid monthly, and a bishop’s share was probably twice as big as an Elder’s. The offerings included first fruits from crops and produce: Christian polemic against the letter of the Mosaic law did not extend to its rules on first fruits and tithes: tithes, on one view, were payable to the minor clerics, widows, paupers and virgins. The notion of fixed clerical salaries was considered an outrage as late as c. 200, in both Rome and Asia. It was the shocking practice of Christian sectarians and heretics. In the Christian Empire, however, it became the orthodox system in the East. Salaries are the heretics’ one lasting legacy to Christian life.
Robin Lane Fox addresses how the early church funded its clergy: