1 Corinthians 16:1-4

In 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 Paul replies to concerns of the Corinthian church about their giving. It’s not optional. “Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.” Paul is consistent in his guidance to everyone he speaks with about this topic. We are to set aside some of what we have and give it regularly. It shouldn’t require special offerings or a big push from the pulpit. It should be part of the regular life of the church.

The money to be collected is not just for the local needs of the congregation. Paul wants them to give enough they can help the needy in Jerusalem. “And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem.” Paul has done this same thing among many different churches to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem. There are a few reasons the church in Jerusalem likely needed assistance in caring for the poor. They supported a large number of widows and were in the midst of famine. Giving is about much more than our own needs. It extends to helping all of God’s family.

So does it mean that that because Christians are commanded to help the poor, especially Christians in need, that this is more important than supporting ministers of the gospel. Paul has been clear elsewhere that the answer is no. It isn’t either or, it is both. And we need to recognize how seriously God takes this part of being a Christ Follower. Paul makes it clear just how serious he is about helping the folks in Jerusalem. “If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.” He’s willing to go with the messengers from the church to get the offering to those in need. This is important to him on many levels.

Guzik shared these general principles from the Bible for supporting the poor in the church:

  1. Benevolence distribution is a potential source of conflict and division, and it is the job of deacons to prevent such problems by their wise, Spirit-led actions (Acts 6:1-7).
  2. The church has an obligation to help the truly needy (James 1:27).
  3. The church must discern who the truly needy are (1 Timothy 5:3).
  4. If one can work to support himself, he is not truly needy and must provide for his own needs (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, 1 Timothy 5:8, 1 Thessalonians 4:11).
  5. If one can be supported by their family, he is not truly needy and should not be supported by the church (1 Timothy 5:3-4).
  6. Those who are supported by the church must make some return to the church body (1 Timothy 5:5, 5:10).
  7. It is right for the church to examine moral conduct before giving support (1 Timothy 5:9-13).
  8. The support of the church should be for the most basic necessities of living (1 Timothy 6:8).

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