The collection for the saints (I Corinthians 16:1-2)
Because this section starts out with “now concerning,” which Paul used repeatedly to address questions that came to him from Corinth, we can conclude that Corinth was told about the collection earlier, but had some questions about how it was to be done – judging from the answer that Paul gives. The command Paul passes on to them is the same that he gave the churches in Galatia. Paul is currently teaching in Ephesus, so he has ready access to the churches in Galatia.
We know that Judea was in difficult straits because of a famine in the region (Acts 11:27-30). It appears it wasn’t a short-term problem as I Corinthians was written years later. It is also possible that they faced a second famine before they fully recovered from the first famine. Though a famine would affect everyone in a region, not just Christians, notice that this collection is not for all the poor but for the poor saints. This is consistent with every other mention of the collection conducted by the churches (II Corinthians 8:4; 9:1, 12).
Each first day of the week (Sunday), money is to be collected and saved. The purpose of these weekly collections was to avoid a last-minute collection when Paul arrives later to carry the gift to Jerusalem. There are two phrases being used. The first states that money is to be laid aside. This indicates fore-planning to set a part of one’s income aside prior to coming on the first day of the week (II Corinthians 9:7). Giving is to be systematic and not impulsive. The storing of funds is where churches have the authorization to have a bank account. The amount is not specified. Only that it is intended to be as a person prospers. God is not expecting people to give what they do not have (II Corinthians 8:12).
- Is Paul heartless because he only ordered the collection for the saints?
- Who handles the needs of the poor in general? (See Galatians 6:9-10)
- Is it the church’s duty to wipe out poverty? Is it the Christian’s duty?
- Sabbatarians claim that worship is to take place on the seventh day of the week, the Sabbath. Why would Paul order collections on the first day of the week if this were true?
- Some claim that Paul wanted Christians to each have individual savings so in order to bring them to Paul when he comes. Does this match what Paul is ordering?
The bearers of the gift (I Corinthians 16:3-4)
When Paul comes, he is expecting that Corinth will have selected people to carry their gift to Jerusalem. Some translations make it sound as if Corinth would approve people through letters, but the more natural reading is that Paul plans to send letters of introduction with the carriers because at this time he is not certain if he can accompany them to Jerusalem. He would like to go and if it works out the carriers and Paul would journey together. But even if something happens to Paul, they will have letters with them from Paul introducing them to the church.
The implication is that each church would be selecting carriers for its funds (II Corinthians 8:16-19). Even though Paul was a trustworthy man, he insisted that others actually carry the funds (II Corinthians 8:20-21). Besides, Paul wasn’t certain if he would be going to Jerusalem at this time. We know from Acts 19:21 that he had hoped to go further west to Rome. That didn’t work out and he did end up going to Jerusalem after all (Acts 20:1-4).
- When a congregation is sending funds to another area, what precautions should be made? Why?
- Notice the implication that Corinth would be sending more than one person. Would this be important?