Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 20, 1955
NUMBER 24, PAGE 8-9a

A Review Of L W. Roberts

J. P. Lusby, Amarillo, Texas

Brother J. W. Roberts, who "holds the Ph.D. degree with Greek as his major" and "is a teacher at Abilene Christian College, Abilene, Texas," labors at length in an article published in the Gospel Advocate, September 1, 1955, to establish a scriptural precedent for the "sponsoring church" method of congregational cooperation. This he does from two passages of scripture-2 Cor. 11:8, 9 and Phil. 4:15, 16. Our brother takes the unwarranted position that the two passages refer to one and the same occasion. And since the apostle states in the Corinthian passage: "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service;" and in the Philippian passage: "Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only;" that other churches sent their money to Philippi and Philippi sent it on to Paul — that Paul robbed other churches through Philippi! Brother Roberts thinks this must have been the way of it, or else the passages are irreconcilable! It could not have been different occasions of which the apostle spoke!

Sending And Spending Churches

As regards the "wages" Paul received from "other churches" while at Corinth, brother Roberts asks: "How were these wages sent to Paul? Were they sent direct through the messengers of each church? Were the contributions collected through one church and sent by the messengers of this church?" In other words, did each church collect and disburse its own funds, or did a number of them contribute to one church for this one church to spend for them? Brother Roberts takes the position that a plurality of churches sent their money to Philippi and Philippi spent it for them — sending it on to Paul.

His first proof (?) is what "Many commentators have argued." Now, it would have appealed more to the taste of one who respects the authority of inspiration if brother Roberts had said, "Many apostles have taught," or even "One apostle has taught." The trouble with his witnesses is that they have espoused almost any and every absurd position under the sun on almost any and every subject. It is not a question to be decided by what "many commentators have argued," or even by what "many of the brethren have argued," but purely and simply, What do the scriptures teach?

Proof Text May Actually Prove It!

Next brother Roberts tries his hand at scripture. "The text of Phil. 4:15, 16 may (Emphasis mine, J.P.L.) actually contain a direct confirmation of this view" — i.e., the view which "many commentators have argued," that we "have a precedent for one church to receive funds from several congregations and forward those funds to another work." That is tantamount to saying, My proof text may actually teach what I'm trying to prove! Can you beat it?! And this from one who "holds the Ph.D. degree with Greek as his major" and is a teacher at Abilene Christian College, Abilene, Texas."

Of course, if it "may actually contain a direct confirmation of this view," it also "may not actually contain a direct confirmation of this view." It occurs to me that thinking brethren will conclude that the passage adduced contains no confirmation of this view at all, direct or otherwise.


It would appear that some need to learn that whatever a passage does not actually assert or necessarily imply, it does not teach.* Now does the Philippian passage actually assert the "sponsoring church" arrangement of cooperation? Does it necessarily imply it? Certainly not. Then it does not teach it.

Try the Corinthian passage by this rule. What is your answer? The Corinthian passage neither asserts it nor necessarily implies it; therefore, it does not teach it.

If neither of the two proof texts by itself teaches the sponsoring church cooperation, how could the two together possibly teach it? The obvious answer is that they do not.

Hote Ekselthon

Brother John T. Lewis said brother Guy N. Woods thought he found the authority for institutional homes in cheras and chera, and now brother J. W. Roberts thinks he finds "a clear instance of that collective cooperation which some brethren will not allow" in "hate ekselthon." He thinks that the aorist cannot be ingressive, "when (at the time) I departed from Macedonia," because it "would refer to the time when Paul escaped from Berea." And as "we know of no such help from Philippi at the time" it "seems doubtful" that such was the case.

Well, Paul stated, Acts 20:35, that the Lord Jesus said: "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Now, since we know neither the time nor place where the Lord made such statement shall we conclude that it "seems doubtful" that he said it? I believe he said it, whether we have a record of it or not, because Paul said he did; and I believe Philippi sent aid to Paul when (at the time that) he left Macedonia, even though "we know of no such help from Philippi at that time," because Paul said they did — and that they were the only ones who did.

It appears that the main reason the aorist is not allowed to be ingressive by brother Roberts is that to so allow would destroy a theory, for if the term means "when" ("at the time that," Bagster, pg. 294) it does not mean "after he had left Macedonia, hence during the one year and six months stay at Corinth." Furthermore, Paul said, "that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia." He departed from Macedonia in the beginning of the gospel. In the beginning of the gospel where? Why, in Macedonia. Then it was not in the beginning of the gospel in Achaia, at Corinth! This forever destroys the theory that it was after Paul departed from Macedonia and during his year and a half stay at Corinth.

It was unfortunate for brother Roberts' position to quote Vincent. For though Vincent thought "that verses 16 and 15 speak of two different contributions," he also states that the one under dispute was made "on his departure from Macedonia." The quotation reads: "That Paul in verse 16 mentions a contribution earlier than that noted in verse 15 presents no difficulty. Having said that the Philippians were the very first to assist him on his departure from Macedonia, he emphasizes that readiness by going back to a still earlier instance. 'Not only on my departure, but even before I departed you were mindful of my necessities'." This language clearly places emphasis on the time that Philippi assisted Paul. It was "on my departure" from Macedonia, and not after I had departed and during my one year and six months stay at Corinth. That is the exact force of the adverb "when." It simply means "at the time that" I departed.

A Parallel Case

Under the above heading the writer under review presents what he considers to be "an exact parallel to the statement in Phil. 4:15, 16." This he does "to illustrate what this all means." His parallel, however, turns out not to be a parallel at all, for three reasons:

First, "in the beginning of my ministry with you" of the "exact parallel" is not parallel to "in the beginning of the gospel" of the Philippian passage. Second, "no church received and sent money to me except you Abilenians" is not parallel to "no church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving but ye only." Third, it affects not the sense of the passage whether the word logos is translated "matter" or "account"; whether dosis is rendered "disbursements," "debit," or "giving;" or lepsis "receipts," "credit," or "receiving." But it does convey the wrong impression to switch positions with doseos kai lepseos, "giving and receiving," to make it read lepseos kai doseos, "received and sent" — which very thing brother Roberts does in his "A Parallel Case," which turns out to be not a parallel at all, but simply a wresting of the scripture! It strikes me as being more parallel with the denominationalist who changes the position of words to get salvation before baptism in Mk. 16:16.


Throughout his article brother Roberts repeatedly refers to denominational commentators in an attempt to bolster his contention; and even calls attention to some that take a contrary view. Others might be sighted presenting conflicting views and taking contradictory positions, but to what avail? It would only serve to invite more theories. The teaching of God's word is not determined by what denominational commentators say.

Our esteemed brother states with regard to his view of Phil. 4:15, 16: "If this be a fanciful interpretation, as some infer, then some of our brethren know a lot more than some very able commentators," Amen. I am certain they do, especially as concerns the church, its worships, its work, and its organization.


In his conclusion the brother assures us: "We are not disposed to be dogmatic." Just who the "we" are that "are not disposed to be dogmatic" we are not informed Judging from what I see and hear, and the divisions and alienations which are occurring over this and kindred matters, coupled with the open threats of quarantine, the "we" cannot be very broad in scope.

But why not be dogmatic, doggedly so, if that is the true meaning of the passage? Would brother Roberts and those others who are included in the "we" be "disposed to be dogmatic" regarding the teaching of Mk 16:16 or Acts 2:38?

An Absurd Position

The ludicrous absurdity of the position under review is seen in this statement: "Notice that Paul did not say that no other church gave him any money, but that no other church had fellowship with him (eis) on account of receipt and disbursement. This would be true, if they were the only church through whom Paul received any money after he left Macedonia."

Other churches gave the money, but they gave it through the church at Philippi, and did not keep an account. Philippi kept an account of the money received by them from other churches and disbursed by them to Paul. Instead of commending the churches who gave the money, by which he was helped, the apostle praises the church which kept the account of receipts (from other churches) and disbursements (of said receipts to Paul)! Shades of a sponsoring church! Brother Roberts found it in hote ekselthon and dosis lepsis! Remember: "Brother Roberts holds the Ph.D. degree with Greek as his major. He is a teacher at Abilene Christian College, Abilene, Texas."


Personally, I become slightly nauseated at some who having gained some knowledge decide they know more than the one hundred forty eight real Greek scholars who translated the two most popular versions in the English speaking world.

Joseph Henry Thayer is recognized by scholars as one of the greatest if not the greatest, Greek-English lexicographers the world has known. On page 157 of his lexicon Mr. Thayer states: "dosis; 1. a giving, (fr. Hdt. down): logos doseos k. lepseos, an account of giving and receiving (i.e. debit and credit accounts; cf. logos 11.3), Phil. 4:15; here Paul by a pleasant euphemism, refers to the pecuniary gifts, which the church bestowing them enters in the account of expenses, but he himself in the account of receipts."

Should it be allowed to mean, as brother Roberts and Mr. Lenski think, that the Philippian church kept the account of both the receipts and disbursements, all that it would fairly import is that the church kept a record of its own contributions and expenditures. The context will not fairly admit of more than this.

*This splendid rule is found on page 59 of A REVIEW OF CAMPBELLISM EXAMINED by Moses E. Lard.