Vol.IX No.IX Pg.7
November 1972

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

What scripture teaches that the church should have a general treasury in the local church? Be specific.


From experience with others who have asked this, and presented their views, I assume that by "general" the querist means one from which the various expenses of local church work and worship are met - as opposed to a treasury gathered for some single specified purpose. I know of no passage that stipulates such a "general" treasury; nor of any that stipulate a specific treasury for providing a place of assembly, communion service, Bibles, support of bishops, advertisement for a meeting, or support of a preacher -- all "church" work.

But the Scriptures clearly teach that the local church is authorized to support a gospel preacher (PHI.4:15, the "church" communicated with Paul, and here the saints are not considered distributively, for the verb is singular, referring to these brethren as a unit), and other verses confirm such, as a work of the church. (2CO.11:8; 1CO.9:1-14) There is a necessary inference in PHI.4:15 that the "church" had a source, a fund common to the unit; and so with each "church" of the "churches" that sent to Paul, (2CO.11:8)

Now are we to assume that in each of these cases a specific exclusive treasury had to be provided -- the sole ground being that a specific purpose is named in 1CO.16:1-3? This would necessitate a separate gathering, and treasury, for every separate function which the local church performs via a medium of exchange. Will those who make such a fuss about the "general treasury" go to this length?

No, they are going the other way. They are denying that saints should function as an "organized entity". A very few have contended that church buildings should be sold, and saints cease to function as a team. Most will reject this extreme, and be content to simply cut back on activities that require prolonged united effort, or very much money. They like the "church at large" idea, where there are few obligations; or small non-aggressive churches, where the extent of their obligation is to "chip in" now and then for grape juice, or a few utilities.

There has been much misunderstanding of "contribution" and "treasury," and much abuse of these. Some regard the act of giving as an act of worship "per se" -- almost as if they brought some "offering" before the sacred altar of Judaism. In Christ we present ourselves "a living sacrifice" after which we use ourselves and our substance in His service. But abuses do not justify denial of principles.

1CO.16:1-3 (even as a specific example) shows the "church" at work. And practically every function God has given saints to do collectively necessitates a means of support. The "general treasury" is an expedient, and 1CO.16:1-3 an example of how one (and why not all other) works of the church may be supplied. Can anyone name another, more scriptural way? Let us be busy in the Lord's works.