Did Paul bring alms to all Jews or just Christians?


Hello Jeffrey,

The Apostle Paul in Acts 24:17 shows that he brought alms, supplied by churches, to his nation. Alms would be mercy benevolence to the poor of that region. The New Testament Greek word for "nation" in this passage is ethnos. Thayer defines this word as a multitude associated or living together. Louw & Nida's Greek Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains Vol #1 defines ethnos :
The largest unit into which the people of the world are divided on the basis of their constituting a socio-political community. Focus attention upon a particular people as a socially functioning unit.

So I don't believe you can prove syntactically and conclude, that Paul's ministration to his "nation" excluded any Jews except Christians.



While Paul said, "Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings" (Acts 24:17), you did not conclude that Paul gave funds to the entire nation. You assumed that it was limited to the poor because of the word "alms." I point this out because it is a typical figure of speech where one object stands in place of another. In a synecdoche, the whole of something is used for the part or the part is used for the whole. For example, "Now it will come about that In the last days the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it" (Isaiah 2:2). We understand this prophecy about the church means that people from every nation will become Christians. We know that God is not saying every nation as a whole will join the church.

If Acts 24:17 were the only verse on this topic, you might have a point, but there are numerous passages that give greater detail.

  • "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. When I arrive, whomever you may approve, I will send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem; and if it is fitting for me to go also, they will go with me" (I Corinthians 16:1-4).
  • "But now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things" (Romans 15:25-27).
  • "For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints" (II Corinthians 8:3-4).
  • "For it is superfluous for me to write to you about this ministry to the saints" (II Corinthians 9:1).
  • "For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God" (II Corinthians 9:12).

Because the detailed accounts specifically state that the funds went to the poor among the brethren in Judea, we understand that the synecdoche does not mean the whole nation, or all the poor in the nation, but specifically the poor Christians in Paul's nation.

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