Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
NUMBER 24, PAGE 1,5b

October 22. 1964

The Church Treasury

Robert C. Welch

"Where do we read of a 'Church Treasury' in the New Testament?" This question and several related ones come from those who seek to justify the practice of churches supporting human institutions from the church collections. They add to that such quibbles as: "If examples mean anything, where is the example of a preacher being paid out of a common treasury?" or, "Where is the authority for the church to own a building?" Such questions are not asked in sincerity by these people. They think that there is scriptural authority for these things. They merely think that if no specific words such as "church treasury" can be produced by us that they have embarrassed us and have made us to feel that our case is weakened for demanding scriptural authority for everything done. They seem not to realize that it only weakens their case; for it is plain admission that they know they do not have the authority for church support of their institutions. There are perhaps some, however, who sincerely want to know what the Scriptures teach about such questions.

There is no commonly used translation of the text which employs the specific words "church treasury" or the word "treasury" applied to the church. But that which these words describe is authorized, being specified by other English words. Neither is there a commonly used version with the specific word Sunday. But there is no doubt that this same day is referred to in other words. There are occasions when words other than those of the common versions are used and people infer ideas which are contrary to the intent of the Scriptures. This has happened with such words as sacrament, missions, and co-operation. There is no violence, however, to the teachings of the Scriptures by the term Church treasury.

In its earliest days the church in Jerusalem "had all things common," from the sale of possessions and goods (Acts 2:44,45). It was used for distribution to those among them who had need (Acts 2:45; 4: 34, 35). In this instance of emergency there was extreme giving for extreme needs. In other instances there was that which is described as collections in the churches (1 Cor. 16:1, 2). These collections were described as a laying by in store by one (1 Cor. 16:2). Hence, if the church is to have a collection, a laying by in store by each one, things common, and a distribution therefrom; this is accurately described by the term treasury. It is not a treasury of some of the members, not an independent, private collection; but a collection of the church, a church treasury.

If someone tries to make out of this church treasury that which the New Testament does not authorize, it cannot then be justified. If some governing board supervises it other than the church with its elders, it becomes a function of an unauthorized organization. If it is made into a general collection agency or fund raising agency, it has violated its God-given function. If used for distribution to unauthorized purposes, it has voided its purpose for existence.

Paul, a preacher of the gospel (2 Tim. 1:11), took wages from churches as he preached to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 11:8). Thus, by approved apostolic example, we have authority for churches to pay wages to preachers of the gospel. On one occasion the church at Philippi was specifically named as supporting him (Phil. 4:15, 16). For a church to pay a preacher it must have funds. Where, or how can it obtain them? The only inference possible, the necessary inference, is that the funds were obtained from the collections, the laying by in store of each one, and that the pay was from this collection, store, things common or church treasury. We learn by express statement that those who preach the gospel are to be supported in their work (I Cor. 9:14).

Therefore, by use of the Scriptures in all methods of authorization, express command or statement, example and necessary inference, we learn what the role of the church is in supporting preachers. If some person objects to using the term "church treasury" for this let him use the terms which are used in our common versions. But when he does this he will have precisely described that which is described by saying that the preacher is paid his salary or wages from the church treasury.

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