Chapter 16:1-9 (ESV) - 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. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.
I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
Question to consider: Why do we give monetary offerings to the church?
The final chapter to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is like the announcements at the end of a church service. If you went through the study in Acts, there was a famine during the reign of Caesar Claudius which was prophesied by Agabus. When Paul visited Jerusalem to consult the apostles about the Judaizers who had come into Galatia to convince the Gentile believers that to be Christian, they had to follow the Law of Moses and be circumcised, he promised to send monetary help to those in Jerusalem impoverished by the famine and persecution.
As I wrote in earlier chapters of this study, I believe the church at Corinth received a copy of the letter written by James in the Jerusalem church at that time regarding circumcision and to abstain from food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality. This letter prompted them to write Paul to ask questions about these prohibitions in light of the gospel which had been preached to them. I think when Paul initially had the Jerusalem letter delivered to the Corinthians, he addressed the need in Jerusalem. His statement in today’s passage is a follow-up on this to say that a collection should be done during their Sunday church services.
I’d argue that one of the reasons God allowed the famine to affect the Jerusalem church more deeply than among the Gentile believers was out of a desire that all Christians become one body in Christ. It would have been hard for the Jerusalem church to look down upon Gentile Christians from Galatia, Corinth and Rome and still accept their charity. As Christians, we should all have the same spirit of generosity that the Jerusalem church did for one another after Pentecost. We give to our church, not out of a sense of obligation, but out of a desire that gospel believing churches around the world can thrive. We should want to provide for our pastors and to maintain the buildings and to feed the poor among us and to see more people become disciples of Christ.
If this is not your experience, it is important to search your heart as to why this is so.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for gathering believers together to encourage and support each other as we do Your blessed work in a world that loves darkness more than the light. Please give us a spirit of generosity in being a part of Christ’s command to us to go and make disciples of all nations. We especially want to lift up to You the persecuted church throughout the world. Please bring comfort and justice to all in need. Amen.