Vol.XVII No.I Pg.7
March 1980

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Can it be established that the contribution of 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8:9: was sent from a church to a church, a corporate body? Why can a church send to aid all ages and sexes in another church, when only "widows indeed" can be helped at home? LSM


The contribution came from a "corporate body" as shown by (1) Paul's order to "churches of Galatia, even so do ye" (1 Cor. 16:1-2); (2) the collection made — from "logeia" "used chiefly of religious collections for a god, a temple, etc." (see Deissmann, Light from Ancient East, p. 105; and (3) it was sent by church-chosen messengers (1 Cor. 16:3; 2 Cor. 9:19).

The recipients were "saints" (Rom. 15:25-26,31; 1 Cor. 16:1; 2 Cor. 8:4-f) but a "corporate" recipient is not clearly established in these verses. Such was the case, however, in the first sending (Acts 11:27-30) where they "sent it to the elders..." Here, either the elders were the only needy brethren, or, they received it on behalf of the saints of their flock.

The widows "taken into the number" (1 Tim. 5:9) were apparently supported full-time, and had certain obligations, which, if neglected, amounted to "casting off their first faith" (v. 11-12). I don't know all I would like to know about this. But nothing in Acts 6: suggests the Grecian widows were "widows indeed" as in 1 Tim. 5.

It seems "needy saints" (generic) were assisted by the church, at home and abroad; but only widows indeed were made the "charge" of the church (1 Tim. 5:16). We need not expect to find every detail of this or any other matter enclosed in a single command or example, but the whole of divine revelation on a subject will sufficiently guide us.

As the Corinthian church was being asked to send relief (above), I consider the conditions of "want" and "abundance" of 2 Cor. 8:14 to apply to churches (although there is obvious reference also to the giver whose substance is "gathered" for sending). If there is such a thing as an "in (not) dependent church," and I believe there is, this "sufficiency" must be measured by its ability to meet basic needs. Having more, it has an abundance; having less — it is in a condition of "want" and can be supplied "alms" by other churches. This was discussed in detail in P.T., Vol. 14, No. 12, pp. 4-5.

When the saints of a "team" or local church are so in want that the resources of that church can not supply their need, alms should be sent. I do not deny that needy individuals could receive alms; but if those alms are sent to "the elders" (as in Acts 11:30) it seems to follow that we are supplying a "church" in want, and the overseers of that church would use the supplies for their flock, much as the head of a household would use such assistance for the members of his family.

These are fairly simply matters and would never raise an eyebrow had not promoting brethren used "alms" scriptures to justify (?) church-hood funds pooled in a sponsoring church.