Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 7, 1954
NUMBER 22, PAGE 1-2a

False Premises -- No. 2

Roy E. Cogdill

One of the fallacies in the applications that are being commonly made from Acts 11:29-30, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, and 2 Corinthians 8:16-24 is the failure to recognize that there are two separate incidents. It is commonly argued that the contributions were for the brethren in Judea and that these contributions were sent to Jerusalem. Acts 11 says the brethren in Judea; 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians say Jerusalem. Is the conclusion warranted that relief for the saints in Judea was sent to the elders at Jerusalem? Absolutely not.

The famine in Judea which created a need to which the saints in Antioch responded took place in the reign of Claudius Caesar. According to the best authorities that reign began in about 41 A.D. and Coneybeare and Howson in their "Life and Epistles of Paul" (page 117) say that the famine mentioned in Acts 11 occurred about the fourth year of the reign of Claudius Caesar or about the year 44 A.D. The Corinthian letter was not written until somewhere around 57 or 59, hence there were from 13 to 15 years between the two incidents. If the famine began in 44 and lasted as Brother Harper contends in one of his articles until after Paul wrote to Corinth and then relief was sent to Judea and placed in the hands of the Jerusalem elders, the relief got there entirely too late. A famine of 13 years in length would have starved everyone to death before the Jerusalem elders received any relief or had any to distribute among the churches.

Jamieson, Faussett and Brown in their commentary say, "Four famines occurred during the reign of Claudius Caesar. This one (Acts 11) in Judea and the adjacent countries took place A.D. 41. Josephus, Antiquities-20:2.5.

Albert Barnes says, "Claudius began his reign in A.D. 41, and reigned thirteen years. This famine is described as having continued under the two procurators of Judea, Tiberius Caesar and Cassius Fadus. Fadus was sent into Judea, on the death of Agrippa, about the fourth year of the reign of Claudius, and the famine therefore continued probably during the fifth, sixth and seventh years of the reign of Claudius."

It can be readily seen that the contribution mentioned in the Corinthian letters which wasn't sent until after the letters had been written — somewhere around 59 at least — got there entirely too late to relieve the suffering in the first famine. This error of combining the two cases and concluding that because the famine was in Judea and the relief was sent to Jerusalem is absolutely inexcusable. It is either careless disregard of Bible facts or a willful intent to deceive. I call upon the brethren who have so used it to correct their misuse of it and cease to pervert the word of God to justify their idols.

Were the contributions of the churches of Macedonia and Achaia mentioned in 2 Corinthians 8 combined in the hands of the messengers selected to take it to Jerusalem and did they have the control of its distribution? There is not even the slightest indication that they combined the funds into one general fund. These funds were entrusted to the hands of the messengers which the various congregations approved or selected. Each church had the right to select its own messenger. In some instances several churches selected the same messenger or approved one already selected by some other but they had the right to approve those others had selected or select one of their own. This means that they kept their funds separate and continued (through the messenger selected as their agent) to exercise control over the funds contributed by them until they were delivered to Jerusalem. When these messengers delivered the funds of these various congregations at Jerusalem, did they "administer" the funds in the sense that they exercised oversight of their distribution? Not if they followed the example set by Paul and Barnabas and the Saints of Antioch some fifteen years before for Paul and Barnabas delivered the funds from Antioch into the hands of the Elders among the brethren in Judea. According to the precedent and principle when the funds of the churches of Macedonia and Achaia were taken to Jerusalem by Paul, Titus and "the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches," evidently they delivered the contributions from these various churches into the hands of the elders in Jerusalem to be distributed.

There is not the slightest indication that these funds forwarded from Macedonia and Achaia were distributed throughout Judea by the Jerusalem elders. They came to rest in Jerusalem where the poor saints were and where the church had an obligation because of the need that existed that was greater than the church there could meet.

If they were delivered in this second instance of benevolence into the hands of the elders as they had been in the first instance fifteen years before, those elders were in Jerusalem and they distributed them in Jerusalem for that is all that the text says. (1 Corinthians 16:3.) Romans 16:25-26 — "For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem."

Neither is there the slightest indication that the funds sent to the "brethren in Judea in the first instance of benevolence, Acts 11, and delivered into the hands of the "elders" among the brethren in Judea actually came to rest in Jerusalem only and by the Jerusalem elders were distributed throughout the churches of Judea. Paul wasn't mixed up in his geography and neither was Luke but some of the brethren now appear to be pretty badly. They get Jerusalem, the city, confused with Judea, the province. No wonder they think Jerusalem was the only church in Judea with elders. They think Jerusalem is Judea and Judea is Jerusalem. They are also mixed up badly in their chronology when they think the relief sent by Antioch to Judea in Acts 11 is the same as the relief sent by the churches of Macedonia and Achaia to the poor saints in Jerusalem in 1 Corinthians 16.

But they are still worse mixed up and confused about Bible teaching when they think that one eldership can oversee the distribution of benevolence or any other work in another congregation or for another congregation where they are not elders. This is pure rank sectarianism. Yet that is what Brother Harper advocated in a recent article. Surely he didn't mean that the Jerusalem elders took charge of the distribution of the benevolence sent for all Judea, ignoring the autonomy, independence and equality of other congregations. If so, the "Herald of Truth" really does have his head in a whirl and I am almost as concerned about him as he is for himself. Someone needs to hold him still a moment and let him get his bearings.

The elders of the Highland Church in Abilene in their capacity as directors of the Herald of Truth owe the same obligation to every contributing congregation that they owe to the Highland Church. They sustain the same relationship as directors of the Herald of Truth to 1,000 churches. Is that the capacity of elders? Will Brother Harper affirm that as elders of the Highland Avenue Church they can scripturally sustain the same relationship to 1,000 other churches or even two that they sustain to Highland? That is what he is contending for or maybe he will point out to us the difference in the obligation they owe to Highland in directing the Herald of Truth and the other congregations that are contributing to it. I had almost as soon see him write on that as on "What is Wrong With a Missionary Society." He says that he didn't promise to write an article on that; well even if he didn't, he should write it anyway, promise or not, for it would be interesting to apply the test as. to whether or not the Missionary Society is right or wrong to the Herald of Truth.