|COLLECTION FOR THE POOR SAINTS |
Near the end of Paul's ministry he took up a collection for the poor of the Jerusalem church. Why the Jerusalem church had so much poverty is not clear. The Jews in Jerusalem may have isolated Christian Jews from the economic system. Paul and Barnabas promised to help (Galatians 2:1-10). This money was collected by Paul from the Gentile churches which he administered. These included churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, and Galatia. He mentioned this offering on three occasions in his letters. In
1 Corinthians 16:1-4, Paul indicated that he wanted the church to put something aside on the first day of each week. In
2 Corinthians 8-9, Paul wrote that the churches of Macedonia had given liberally and Titus would oversee the completion of the offering in Corinth. Finally, in
Romans 15:25, Paul stated that at the present time he was going to Jerusalem to deliver the gift. A sense of spiritual indebtedness to the founding church in Jerusalem prompted the offering. Luke never mentioned the offering specifically in Acts. There is a list of men in
Acts 20:4 who accompanied Paul to Jerusalem. (This trip corresponds to the plans of
Romans 15:25.) The importance of this offering for Paul was twofold. First, the offering met an economic need in Jerusalem. Political instability and general economic depression were problems in Palestine. There were dependent widows (Acts 6:1), and the sharing of property offered only temporary relief (Acts 4:32-37). For this reason Paul was anxious to “remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10). Second, the offering had a theological importance for Paul. The fact that the Gentiles were willing to aid the Jews in this manner validated Paul's Gentile mission. The offering was evidence that in the Christian family there was neither “Jew nor Greek” (Galatians 3:28).
Terence B. Ellis; Lynn Jones