"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.V No.IV Pg.6-7a
November 1942

The Corinthian Contribution

W. Curtis Porter

The Jerusalem church had been impoverished by persecution and famine, and it became necessary for other churches to send relief. The apostle Paul, while endeavoring to arouse churches to this duty, wrote the Corinthian church in this language: "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." (1 Cor. 16: 1, 2.)

In this statement a number of things of interest are revealed to us. Beyond doubt this is instruction in the matter of religious service. Such giving to the saints of God and to his cause could not be thought of as less than a religious service. To engage in a religious work of such import was to render service to the Eternal One. And not only was it a religious service, but it was a religious service enjoined for a particular day. Giving of our means to the cause of the Lord upon any day of the week would be a religious service; but when such service is specified for a particular day, it makes it all the more significant, for it not only teaches the service to be religious, but also makes the day a day for that service. And that would exalt the day to the position of a "religious day." Notice that Paul says, "Upon the first day of the week" perform this duty. What reason could there be for giving such instruction unless the first day of the week was a day to be devoted to religious service? If the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, had yet been binding on the people of God, then that day would have been the logical one for such contribution to be made. But Sabbatarians claim that the Corinthian contribution was but a home duty. If so, why did he specify the first day of the week as a day for it to be performed? What reason could there be for performing any home duty on a particular day? Why would not the second day or the third day of the week do just as well? Home duties are never enjoined for a particular day. But this duty was, and there can be no reason for its performance on the first day of the week, except that that day was their day of religious worship.

Furthermore, the apostle did not limit the matter to one week; but, as the original language clearly states, it was to be done upon the first day of every week. That makes it a religious service to be repeated. It is a service for every week. Why specify the first day of every week unless that day was a day of worship and assembly? Certainly any day of the week would be appropriate for a home service-the middle of the week, or even the last. But Paul did not say, "Sometime during every week perform this service"; but he said do it on "the first day of the [every] week." That day, then, is a day particularly enjoined as a day for religious service.

Another interesting thing about it is that Paul gave an order for this to be performed: "As I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye." Webster says that an order is "a rule or regulation; also, a command; direction." Hence, the apostle gave a commandment for a first-day religious service. This commandment (order) had also been given to the churches of Galatia. Can Sabbatarians find where any apostle ever gave a commandment to any Christian to perform any religious service "on the seventh day of the week"? No such record is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Preaching, or many other religious services, might be done upon any day of the week; but where is the record that specifies the seventh day of the week as a day for a particular religious service?

If such could be found, Sabbatarians would seize on it as indisputable evidence of Sabbath keeping. Yet, Paul did command that a particular service be done on the first day of the week; and when he gave that commandment, what did it involve? He answers himself: "If any man think himself not to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." (1 Cor. 14: 37.) So we have a "commandment of the Lord" for first-day religious service. It will not do to try to set this aside by finding where Paul gave his "advice" and "judgment" about things, and then decide that 1 Cor. 16:1, 2 is not a commandment. Paul wrote many things to the Corinthian brethren that were not commandments; but when he did write a commandment, as he did in the text before us, it was a commandment of the Lord.

Sometimes men use Paul's statements in 2 Cor. 8:8 to prove that the "order" of 1 Cor. 16 is not a commandment. In the second epistle Paul wrote: "I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love." In this the inspired writer is speaking of the same contribution, but because in his second letter to them he speaks "not by commandment" does not destroy that fact that he spoke by commandment in the first letter. He appeals to their liberality and love in his second letter. In the first he gave an order. One does not set aside the other. And that order was given to other churches besides Corinth—the churches of Galatia.

They were also told to lay this by "in store." This is from an original word that means "in treasury," or "treasuring up." In fact, some translations give this expression as "putting it into the treasury." This excludes the idea of a home duty. But it is often argued that as Paul said "lay by him in store," he intended for it to be laid by at home—that "by him" should be translated "by himself at home." Such, however, is not true. The expression is often translated "by itself," which simply means that it is separated from his other means. Or it may also suggest the idea that he is to do it of his own accord. It is to be done willingly.

And this collection was to be made on the first day of every week, Paul said, "that there be no gatherings when I come," or "that no collections be made when I come." If they carried it out as a home duty, each one putting aside his contribution at home, then when Paul came this would all have to be collected—there would have to be a gathering of it. That Paul did not wish to do. And if they carried out his order in the matter, no such gathering would be necessary—it would already be placed in the treasury. This is unmistakable evidence that they were to lay by in store in their assembly, not at home; for how would their contributing at home prevent the gathering of it when Paul arrived? In 2 Cor. 9:5, Paul declared: "Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness." This does not indicate, as I have heard it contended, that the church at Corinth laid by at home, and Titus and others were sent before Paul that they might go around to their homes and gather it up. Thus there would be no gatherings when Paul arrived. If this is the teaching of the writer, his language should read: "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by at home, as God has prospered him, and before I come I will send some brethren to make the rounds to your homes and collect it, that there be no gatherings when I come." However, Paul said no such thing. It was not the visit of Titus and others that would prevent any collections being made when Paul arrived. If they laid by in store as prospered, that thing itself would prevent it. But lest they become careless and neglectful toward making that contribution, Titus and other brethren were sent to stir them up to their duty, to arouse their love in the matter, so the contribution would be made as Paul had previously directed, and thus be ready when he arrived.