Collections on the First Day of the Week
Good News Magazine
November 1973
Volume: Vol XXII, No. 4
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Collections on the First Day of the Week
Richard A Wiedenheft  

   THE story begins around A.D. 42 when Agabus foretold a famine that began in the reign of Claudius Caesar (Acts 11:27-28). Claudius ruled from A.D. 41 to A.D. 54.
   Around the spring of A.D. 55 (during this famine), Paul wrote to the Corinthians concerning the plight of the Christians of Judaea. Read carefully and analyze I Corinthians 16:1 and 3.
   "Now concerning the collection for the saints...." Paul was writing to them about a special collection not about regular tithes and offerings which would be used primarily for the Work of God.
   Now notice verse three. "And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem." This particular gathering included more than money for several men were required to carry it to Jerusalem.
   It was probably a few months later, during the summer of A.D. 55, that Paul again wrote to the Corinthians about this special emergency collection for the poor brethren at Jerusalem who were suffering the worst of the famine.
   In II Corinthians 8:1 and 3 he wrote: "Now, brothers, I have to tell you about the grace God has given to the churches of Macedonia.... I can testify that up to their means, aye and beyond their means, they have given begging me of their own accord, most urgently, for the favour of contributing to the support of the saints" (Moffatt translation).
   In chapter 9:1-2 Paul again made reference to this collection: "Indeed it is quite superfluous for me to be writing to you about this charitable service to the saints; I know how willing you are, I am proud of it, I ha ve boasted of you to the Macedonians: 'Achaia,' I tell them, 'was all ready last year.' And your zeal has been a stimulus to the majority of them" (Moffatt). And in verse 12: "For the service rendered by this fund does more than supply the wants of the saints, it overflows with many a cry of thanks to God" (Moffatt).
   Clearly, this was a special collection being taken up among the Christians of Macedonia, Achaia and Galatia to aid their brethren in Judaea!
   When Paul wrote to the Romans, probably during the winter of A.D. 55-56, he was taking this collection to Jerusalem.
   "At the moment I am off to Jerusalem on an errand to the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have decided to make a contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. Such was their decision; and yet this is a debt they owe to these people, for if the Gentiles have shared their spiritual blessings, they owe them a debt of aid in material blessings. Well, once I finish this business by putting the proceeds of the collection safely in their hands, I will start for Spain and take you on the way" (Rom. 15:25-28, Moffatt).
   Luke, also, wrote of this special offering in Acts 11:29-30. "Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul."
   With all this background, I Corinthians 16:2 becomes very plain. "Upon the first day of the week let everyone of you lay by him in store.... " Paul was actually telling the Corinthian Christians to work on Sunday, the first day of the week. They were to go out to gather what they wanted to contribute and store it at their own homes! Obviously this was not money, but more likely foodstuffs dried fruit, meat, etc. for those in Jerusalem afflicted by the famine.
   He concluded, verse 2: "... That there be no gatherings when I come." Paul wanted them to spend the first part of each week assembling their contributions so they would not have to do the work of gathering it when he came on the Sabbath.
   Here is an obvious command to do work on the first day of the week. Yet Christians are commanded to rest on the Sabbath day. This seeming dilemma is solved when one realizes which day of the week is truly the Sabbath in God's eyes. (Read our free booklets Which Day Is The Christian Sabbath? and Which Day Is The Sabbath Of The New Testament? The latter booklet examines all of the texts in the New Testament which mention "the first day of the week," showing that in none of them was a religious meeting or preaching service held on the hours we now call Sunday.)
   Far from being a command to take up an offering every Sunday, I Corinthians 16:1-2 was an instruction for the Corinthians to do the work of assembling a special collection at their own homes for the brethren in Judaea.

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Good News MagazineNovember 1973Vol XXII, No. 4