Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
NUMBER 5, PAGE 3,14b

The Brotherhood Contribution For Jerusalem

Wm. E. Wallace, Akron, Ohio

Please read 1 Corinthians 16, Romans 1 and 15, 2 Corinthians 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9.

The collection for the saints at Jerusalem was a brotherhood project in that Paul instructed congregations across the empire to have fellowship in the matter. Surely brethren today will eventually accept what the New Testament reveals about this "brotherhood" work. Paul in preparing to make his last trip to Jerusalem made final arrangements to complete the collection of funds for the brethren in the earthly Zion. The occasion of Paul's proposed trip to Jerusalem was the prolonged famine in Judea. Paul had for a long time occupied himself in raising money for the poverty stricken 'church in Jerusalem. This work had been interrupted by trouble in the Corinthian church. That had been settled, the collection had been completed, and now Paul is ready to depart for Jerusalem with the funds. The design of this aid for the Jerusalem brethren was that of helping brethren in need, "that there may be equality" — abundance supplying want. (2 Cor. 8:14.) But in view of Paul's work among established churches, and in regard to his fight against Judaism, and in consideration of the rift between the Jew and Gentile Christians, it seems that Paul's purpose in personally going to Jerusalem was not single. The aid of the Gentile brethren to the Jewish brethren would go a long way toward healing the breach and bringing peace in the church. Paul had emphasized the doctrinal truth — they had to accept that, or be cast out as heretics and perverters of the faith. But in any such situation there is an undercurrent of feeling that lingers on. If anything would eliminate this, the funds of Gentile churches, readily and freely given would do so. The design of the aid was to remedy a physical difficulty, but the funds were emblematic of something higher — sincere brotherly love which overflowed for the 'afflicted Jewish Christians. The Gentile churches were pleased to be able to help the Jewish Christians — they manifested their feeling of indebtedness (Rom. 15:27) to the Jerusalem brethren. They were indebted because from Jerusalem came the gospel into "Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8.) 'Since the Gentiles have received spiritual blessings through the Jews, it is right that the Jewish Christians should receive material blessings from the Gentiles." Paul was willing to postpone his deep seated, long desired plans to go west in order to finish this gesture of good will from the Gentile to the Jew. It took an opportunity brought about by physical adversity to bring reconciliation and thus soothe the feelings excited in the Judaistic controversy. The outstanding rift in the early church was over the insistence of some Jews that portions of the Law of Moses must be kept. The early church was made up almost exclusively of Jewish converts, but as the apostle Paul turned his interest primarily to the Gentile, the texture changed. Eventually the church became predominately Gentile. During the period of transition it was necessary to fight the Judaistic influences in order to keep the church pure. Much is said in the epistles of Paul concerning the status of Jew and Gentile in the church, of the doing away of the Law of Moses and of the superiority of the New Covenant. On his return visits to various churches Paul was preoccupied with healing the rifts and correcting the errors caused by Judaistic teachers.

Paul wrote a long letter to the Roman church in which he set forth the meaning of salvation in Christ. He discussed the problem incited by Judaistic teaching and presented the doctrinal truth concerning the matter in a thorough systematic way. Every word Paul wrote was inspired of the Holy Spirit and it was by this process of inspiration that Paul declared his motive in a proposed visit to Rome. In chapter one he says he has completed his work in Greece and Asia Minor and is ready to travel west. The destination in mind is Spain. But for a long time he has wanted to visit Rome. On his projected trip to Spain Paul wants to stop over at Rome and impart some spiritual gift to the Roman brethren and "to reap some harvest" among the Roman's. It was not his desire to build on another's foundation, but rather he wanted to be of some apostolic service to the Roman church. Paul explains that his delay in coming to Rome is due to his desire to preach the gospel where it had been known. But now another interruption in his plans must be explained — "But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints." Why did not Paul just send the aid with Titus and the others as he had indicated he would do in 1 Corinthians 16?

The primary design of the congregational cooperation involved in this collection was that of relieving the congregations in need. But Paul took advantage of the opportunity or situation to knit together Jew or Gentile as one in brotherly love. The generosity of the Gentiles proved the genuineness of their Christianity. A healthy receptive attitude on the part of the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem would declare the veritableness of their faith.

Paul had planned to return to Corinth and complete the collection and send it on to Jerusalem by approved messengers, and it was to be understood that Paul himself might take the collection on to Jerusalem in company with the others. (1 Cor. 16:3-4.) But trouble arose. Before the second Corinthian letter was written it was necessary for Paul to make a second, premature visit to Corinth (See 2 Cor. 2:1, 12:14, 13:1-2), possibly from Ephesus (See 1 Cor. 16:8) where transportation over to Achaia was easily available. It seems he must have failed to settle the matter due to the opposition of the Jewish teachers who were working against Paul (See Paul's reference to them in 2 Cor. 10:7. 10, 11, 11:4, 13, 22-23). He returned to Ephesus. sent or left Titus to Corinth expecting to meet him later in Troas. (2 Cor. 2:13.) Titus failed to appear at Troas, but met Paul over in Macedonia and delivered good news concerning the church trouble in Corinth. (2 Cor. 7:6-7.) So Paul wrote the second Corinthian letter. sometimes called "a thankful letter." He explained the reason of his change in plans. He declared that he was not fickle in reference to intentions. He had mapped his plans in the sixteenth chapter of the first letter. They did not materialize and Paul explains why in the second letter. After writing some lines in defense of his apostolic ministry, and after giving a sort of resume' of events transpired, with exhortations and encouragements, he returns to the matter of the collection for the saints in Jerusalem (chapters 8 and 9).

"The Macedonian Churches Have Given Magnificently: Will You Not Do So Too?"

In 2 Corinthians 8:1-14 Paul urges the Corinthians to complete the collection for the relief of the destitute saints in Jerusalem. The project had been hindered and delayed but now circumstances favored its completion. In encouraging the Corinthians to expedite the giving, Paul calls their attention to the example of the Macedonian churches who were liberal though they were in something of a state of poverty themselves. Even in this "poverty" the Macedonian churches were better off than the Jerusalem brethren. Paul was not using the Macedonian churches as examples of poor congregations giving to a richer congregation in order that the wealthier congregation could be made even richer. Nor was he suggesting that a poverty stricken congregation should become penurious on behalf of a congregation already that way. He was not suggesting that congregations poverty stricken lower themselves to a state of total indigency, for he said, "For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye distressed." Even though the Macedonian churches were considered in "deep poverty," Paul sets them as an example before Corinth — an example of churches giving a portion of what they do have in order to bring the Jerusalem church up to equality — at least from a penury condition to "poverty." The Jerusalem brethren evidently were helpless, the Macedonian brethren were not. Paul said, "Corinth, Macedonia gave out of their poverty to help relieve this emergency situation at Jerusalem, now you brethren give out of your abundance, and Jerusalem can Abe relieved of this distress and they will be brought out of this condition of helplessness, to equality with other congregations — able to care for themselves."

The guiding principle of the giving, Paul taught, was not the exaltation of one congregation at the expense of making the benefactor distressed, but rather that of relieving distress in a sharing of what they did have. This is the story and import of the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem. Can you not see that the nature of the "brotherhood" work in New Testament times is lacking in examples of organization, centralized authority, and permanency — examples which would serve as support for present day brotherhood projects?