1 Corinthians 16 – The Collection for the Poor & Collection for the Poor Saints

We live in a very selfish and greedy world.  Throughout the world, and certainly in the United States which I have seen, the poor will give more to the poor than the rich will.

In the end the rich will be very sorry for their greed, as Jesus clearly pointed out more than once:

“And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living” (Mk 12:41-44). 

“And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matt 19:24).

This is the last chapter here so tomorrow we’ll start with…

1 Corinthians 16
The Collection for the Poor

1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.

“Churches of Galatia” – the fact that the Galatian and Macedonian churches are involved, along with the Corinthians, indicate4s that the collection of this offering was quite widespread. 

The Jerusalem saints may have become poverty-stricken because of the famine recorded in Acts 11:28 (c. 44 or 46 A.D.) or because of the persecution of Jerusalem Christians.

2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

Amphitheater in Philipi

“Upon the first day of the week let everyone of you lay by him in store” – every Sunday each person was to bring what he had set aside for the Lord’s work – an amount proportionate to his income.  Since it was to be brought on Sunday, the new day for worship (cf. Acts 20:2; Rev 1:10).

Probably it was collected at the worship service, not at home.  Justin Martyr indicated (in his Apology, 1.67-68) that in his time (c. 150 A.D.) offerings were brought to the church on Sundays.

3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.

For proper financial accountability and responsibility thee approved men would act as auditors and guardians of the funds the Corinthians gave.

Philippian Jail
This traditional place of Paul and Silas’s imprisonment is of dubious authenticity, but it remembers the attack on these men and their subsequent flogging and imprisonment.

In the course of the night, a violent earthquake shook the prison and the jailer feared that all might have escaped. After learning that none had fled, the Philippian jailer put his faith in Christ and was baptized with his family.

4 And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.

5 Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.

“When I shall pass through Macedonia” – after leaving Ephesus where he was when he wrote 1 Corinthians, Paul planned to go up to Macedonia, no doubt to visit the Philippians and others in northern Greece, and then to Corinth.

He had originally planned to go to Corinth first and then to Macedonia but thought it best to change his plans (see 2 Cor 1:12-24).

6 And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.

“Winter with you” – probably the three-month stay in Greece mentioned in Acts 20:3.

7 For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.

8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.

9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

“Many adversaries” – probably a reference to the pagan craftsmen who made the silver shrines of Artemis and to the general populace whom they had stirred up.

10 Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.

View of Ancient Philippi

11 Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.

12 As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.

13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

14 Let all your things be done with charity.

15 I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

Thessalonica was the principle city and primary port of Macedonia in what today is Greece.

It was founded in 316 B.C. during the reign of Alexander the Great. It became an important city under Roman rule as well in 146 B.C.

It was located at the junction of the main land route from Italy to the East and the main route from the Danube down to the Aegean Sea.

“House of Stephanas” – evidently the Corinthians had little respect for this household that Paul had baptized (1:16).  They were among the first converts in Achaia (Greece), along with the few individuals in Athens who had believed a short time earlier.

16 That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to everyone that helpeth with us, and laboureth.

17 I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.

18 For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.

19 The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

“Aquila and Priscilla” – they had helped Paul found the church at Corinth (Acts 18:1-4).

20 All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with a holy kiss.

“A holy kiss” – the kiss of mutual respect and love in the Lord was evidently the public practice of early Christians – from a practice that was customary in the ancient East.

21 The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.

22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.

“Maran-atha” – an expression meaning “O Lord come!”, used by the early church as a cry that the second coming of Christ may soon take place.

23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Collection for the Poor Saints

Near the end of Paul’s ministry he took up a collection for the poor of the Jerusalem church. Why the Jerusalem church had so much poverty is not clear.

The ruins of a Roman fountain in ancient Corinth.

The Jews in Jerusalem may have isolated Christian Jews from the economic system. Paul and Barnabas promised to help (Gal 2:1-10 ). This money was collected by Paul from the Gentile churches which he administered.

These included churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, and Galatia. He mentioned this offering on three occasions in his letters.

In 1 Cor 16:1-4, Paul indicated that he wanted the church to put something aside on the first day of each week.

In 2 Cor 8-9, Paul wrote that the churches of Macedonia had given liberally and Titus would oversee the completion of the offering in Corinth.

Finally, in Rom 15:25, Paul stated that at the present time he was going to Jerusalem to deliver the gift. A sense of spiritual indebtedness to the founding church in Jerusalem prompted the offering.

Egnatian Way
The Via Egnatia was built beginning in 145 BC and at its greatest extent connected Byzantium with the Adriatic ports.

This route was Rome’s primary artery to the east and Philippi was an important outpost along the road.

The Egnatian Way made it easier for Rome to move troops throughout the empire and it was the route that Paul traveled on from Neapolis to Philippi, Amphipolis, Apollonia and Thessalonica.

Luke never mentioned the offering specifically in Acts. There is a list of men in Acts 20:4 who accompanied Paul to Jerusalem. (This trip corresponds to the plans of Rom 15:25.)

The importance of this offering for Paul was twofold. First, the offering met an economic need in Jerusalem. Political instability and general economic depression were problems in Palestine.

There were dependent widows (Acts 6:1), and the sharing of property offered only temporary relief (Acts 4:32-37). For this reason Paul was anxious to “remember the poor” (Gal 2:10).

Second, the offering had a theological importance for Paul. The fact that the Gentiles were willing to aid the Jews in this manner validated Paul’s Gentile mission.

The offering was evidence that in the Christian family there was neither “Jew nor Greek” (Gal 3:28).

…the Book of 2 Corinthians.