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 Vol. 5, No. 9 

September 2003

Since You Asked

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Image Names may be included at the discretion of the Editor unless querists request their names be withheld. Please check our Archive for the answer to your question before submitting it; there are over 1,000 articles in the Archive addressing numerous biblical topics. Submit a Question to GGO.

Special or Perpetual Collections?

By Louis Rushmore

Dear Louis, A word about the collection of 1 Cor. 16:1-4.  It was never designed to be a permanent ordinance (2 Cor. 8:11; 1 Cor. 16:2); it was voluntary (2 Cor. 8:3); it was formed by individuals storing at their homes on Sunday and later consolidating their stores (1 Cor. 16:2).  The Greek prepositional phrase, par' heauto, in verse two, is translated by the lexicons as "at home."  These are the same lexicons that translate psallo as "I sing."  In the lexicons look under heauto in the dative case where they will tell you the phrase means "at home" in 1 Cor. 16:2. Can you find any Greek lexicon, which we use on the music question, that disputes this? Respectfully, Randall Reed

Whereas "the collection of 1 Cor. 16:1-4" was designated for a specific purpose, which when accomplished that particular occasion would be complete, the every Lord's Day collection as well as other special collections continued. In Acts Chapter Two, where we find the birthday of the Lord's church, four of the five activities of Christian worship are mentioned; the collection ("fellowship" from koinonia, which can mean and is sometimes used regarding the church contribution, Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 9:13) is included there but singing is absent (found elsewhere, Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). In addition, local congregations in the first century had regular financial responsibilities for which regular contributions were necessarily collected weekly (1 Corinthians 9:4-14). First Corinthians 16:1-4 has the apostle Paul commanding that the Corinthians designate a portion of their weekly contribution (because they had a year earlier volunteered to make this contribution, 2 Corinthians 8:10; 9:2) for the poor saints in Judaea. While the special contribution (amidst the weekly contribution, only essentially in its own account) would naturally conclude, the biblically authorized method for financing the mission of the church through the weekly contribution is an enduring and valid biblical principle.

Commentators and Greek lexicons are not agreed as to whether the phrase "par' heauto" means "by itself" or implies "at home," or even if "par' heauto" is a prepositional phrase in the dative case. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature says of "heauto" as it appears in 1 Corinthians 16:2: "put something aside." Regarding "par'" as it appears in 1 Corinthians 16:2, it says: "each one at home." The basic meaning of "par' heauto" is as the first reference indicates: "put something aside" (Bauer, Gingrich and Danker). Whether the Greek phrase implies at home continues to be debated among lexicons and commentators.

The Abridged Greek-English Lexicon says of the Greek phrase under consideration, "at his own house" (Liddell and Scott). The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains says of "par'" that it means "beside" (Louw and Nida). Word Pictures in the New Testament says of "lay by him in store" that it means "By himself, in his home"; incidentally, though, it also erroneously states that psalms, hymns and spiritual songs may be accompanied with instrumental music (Robertson).

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary observes that whether there is a public contribution weekly, each Christian is to separate from his funds each first day of the week an amount reserved for the Lord's cause (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown). Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament says of 1 Corinthians 16:2 "Literally, 'put by himself treasuring.' Put by at home" (Vincent).

Irrespective of whether the text of 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 indicates that each Christian was to purpose at home what he would give for the poor saints, it is not reasonable within the context to deny the weekly, public contribution. This text itself (and other texts respecting fiscal responsibility of the church or its weekly worship on the first day of the week) precludes keeping the funds that have been dedicated to the Lord at home. I concur with the commentators below who argue the necessity, with the 1 Corinthians 16 text, of the public contribution.

Let him lay up at home, treasuring up as he has been prospered. The Greek phrase, "by himself," means, probably, the same as at home. Let him set it apart; let him designate a certain portion; let him do this by himself, when he is at home, when he can calmly look at the evidence of his prosperity. Let him do it not under the influence of pathetic appeals, or for the sake of display when he is with others; but let him do it as a matter of principle, and when he is by himself. The phrase in Greek, "treasuring up," may mean that each one was to put the part which he had designated into the common treasury. This interpretation seems to be demanded by the latter part of the verse. They were to lay it by, and to put it into the common treasury, that there might be no trouble of collecting when he should come. Or it may, perhaps, mean that they were individually to treasure it up, having designated in their own mind the sum which they could give, and have it in readiness when he should come. This was evidently to be done not on one Sunday only, but was to be done on EACH Lord's Day until he should come. (Barnes)

Let each one of you lay by him in store ...  It is generally admitted that every Christian was to participate in the giving, but "by him" has given the commentators a lot of trouble.  Thus Johnson thought it was "a reference to the home-giving was to be private giving." The word "home" is not in the Greek text, nor is such an idea to be found there. As Lipscomb and many others have noted, "The idea that the storing was to be at home is incompatible with the idea that 'no collections be made when I come.'" The words do not mean "to lay by at home," but "to lay by himself." This indicates that the amount of giving was to be determined by the man HIMSELF, not by any tax or suggestion from others. The word rendered "in store" means "putting in the treasury ... the common treasury, not every man's own house." (Coffman)

MacKnight also observes that to translate or interpret 1 Corinthians 16:2 to mean keeping a collection at home would make the verse contradict itself and defeat the purpose Paul intended, to avoid the process of gathering the collection for the benevolent fund he came to retrieve for poor saints in Judea (MacKnight  208).

On the first day of the week, each should separate or lay by itself something, casting it into the treasury. Some contend that the storing was to be at home, but that would be incompatible with the idea "that no collections be made when I come," for if stored at home, it would have to be gathered when he came. It was to be separated at home from the amount not given, then cast into the treasury. (Lipscomb 249)

J.W. McGarvey summarizes the question respecting the contribution of 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 well.

The word "thesaurizoon," translated "in store," means, literally, "put into the treasury;" and the phrase "par' heauto," translated "by him," may be taken as the neuter reflexive pronoun, and may be rendered with equal correctness "by itself." ... If each man had laid by in his own house, all these scattered collections would have had to be gathered after Paul's arrival, which was the very thing that he forbade. ... It was put in the public treasury of the church, but kept by itself as a separate fund. (McGarvey and Pendleton 161)Image

Works Cited

Barnes' Notes. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1997.

Bauer, Walter, F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1979.

Coffman, James Burton. James Burton Coffman Commentary. CD-ROM. Abilene: ACU Press, 1989.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1997.

Liddell, H.G., and Scott. Abridged Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford: Oxford University, 1992.

Lipscomb, David. A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles: First Corinthians. J.W. Shepherd, ed. 1935. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1974.

Louw, Johannes P. and Eugene A. Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains. New York: United Bible Societies, 1989.

MacKnight, James. A New Literal Translation from the Original Greek of all the Apostolic Epistles. Grand Rapids: Baker.

McGarvey, J.W. and Philip Y. Pendleton. Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians and Romans. Cincinnati: Standard.

Robertson, Archibald Thomas. 1933. Word Pictures in the New Testament. Nashville: Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1998.

Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1997.

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