Does I Corinthians 16:1-4 apply to general collections?


Good day to you all. A question has come up here, one that always does, and has to do with I Corinthians 16:1-4. The questioner appears to be denying that the text is an authority for the weekly giving we practice here on the first day of the week. Apparently that:

  1. the giving of the text has to do with giving for the needy saints, not paying preachers, and
  2. that the text means it was something done at home, not in the assemblies.

I would appreciate your thoughts and material on this subject.


The full passage of 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 (NIV) says, "Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.  On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.  Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.  If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me."

Paul is indeed giving some very specific instructions for a specific need of the time.  There is no way to honestly look at this passage and come to any conclusion other than this particular set of instructions was for the collection of God's people.  There was a great need in Jerusalem and the churches (at least Galatia and Corinth) were determined to help.  The question then becomes one of how does this example extend from a specific to the general.

There are two ways that I could see in extending this passage.  One is that the collection was for "God's people".  Since a preacher is also one of God's people, then it would be a good example to follow any time that God's people are involved and not just when there are needy saints in Jerusalem.  The other is to look at the passage as the only way in which the church is told how to raise money.

In Philippians 4:15 Paul says, "Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only."  Paul mentions the matter of giving and receiving that he tied to his own upkeep.  From this passage, it is clear that Paul received a living wage from the church in Philippi while he was preaching in another area.  There is no specific mention of how the Philippian church gathered the money, only that the money collected made it to Paul.

In II Corinthians 11:7-9 Paul says, "Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so."  Paul said he did not accept any money from the Corinthian church while he was there -- he got all he needed from the Macedonian churches.  By implication, though, Paul could have accepted wages from the Corinthians.  Again there is no mention of how it was gathered, only that the money gathered made it to Paul.

There are several other passages that show that preachers are recipients of money from churches and could, therefore, be considered another form of "God's people."  In fact, the passages above show that while the collection for the saints in Jerusalem was to relieve their great need, Paul said the Philippians supplied his needs, implying that he was supplied far above any measure of destitution.

However, the collection had to be a public (as opposed to a household or private) collection because of the phrase "so that when I come no collections will have to be made."  If this was something that was done at home, then in order for it to get to Jerusalem, there would have to be at least one collection at the end.  The only way around that would be to assume that every household would be sending someone to Jerusalem.  That is highly unlikely due to the "appointment of men" to carry the gift and the letters of introduction that Paul mentions.

Darrell Hamilton

Print Friendly, PDF & Email