Vol.VII No.I Pg.7
March 1970

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

It is scriptural for one church to assist destitute saints who are members of another church, without such assistance being sent through the elders of the other church? PK


Paul was in want, had affliction (although he said he knew how to be content under such conditions) and the church at Philippi sent to him. (Phil. 4: 10-f.) Brethren from Macedonia supplied his want when he was in Corinth, although Paul considered some of the assistance received as wages. (2 Cor. 11:8-9) We do not offer these cases as exact parallels to that of the question, but feel they contribute to the solution.

John urged brethren to show hospitality (assist) traveling saints (3 Jn. 5-8) and the Romans were asked to assist Phoebe while she was in their city. (Rom. 16: 1-2) These passages seem to counter the idea that a saint must receive all his help from the local church of which he is a member. I would add that the obligation of the local church is one of love and concern for a brother, NOT party rules and regulations that stem from the fact his name is on the roll.

Circumstances (dating back to the earliest struggles with the missionary society) have conditioned brethren to think of the local church as the organizational media for the universal church. Campbell proposed that the universal church function through the missionary society — and others countered with the proposition that the universal church was to function through the local church organization. The fallacy — somewhat overlooked in the smoke of battle — was the concept of the universal church functioning through ANY media. Church of Christ denominationalism will continue to germinate as long as this seed is allowed to live.

Saints who agree to work and worship together collectively make up a local church — and I believe the N.T. authorizes and encourages this kind of functional entity. Saints who make up this local team have team obligations — but this is far from saying that henceforth their whole life must emanate from and be directed by the forces that make this local team possible.

In the event of general destitution, where individual and detailed needs are not known, the overseers of a local church would certainly be in a position to see that assistance reached the persons in want. It seems to me this was the case in Acts 11:27-30, when disciples in Antioch sent relief unto the brethren... sending it to the elders.

I grew up in a community where the missionary society battle was lately fought. I heard preachers stress that we must glorify God in the church (Eph. 3:21) and it was several years before I studied the passage for myself, and noticed that it referred to glorifying God as saints, i.e., in the universal Church, NOT that all must be done through some local church. (See 1 Cor. 10: 27-31) Saints may function to Gods glory as individuals, as well as collectively.