I have discovered an ancient manuscript that explains why Christians of the first century gave money on the first day of the week.
I know what you’re thinking: “We already know why they gave – it was to help the needy Christians having difficult time in Jerusalem.”
No. According to the manuscript I’ve discovered, that was the effect of their giving – but it was not the cause (or WHY) they gave.
I enjoy old manuscripts. It is often difficult to find the true meaning of what was written because everything must be translated before I can read it. And – some translations simply aren’t that good. But this particular one blew me away.
Personally, just to get this out of the way, I believe this manuscript is inspired by God. I have full confidence that it was written by the real Apostle Paul. So, now that THAT is out of the way, after I introduce the topic from the Bible you will see how everything fits together.
To legitimize my claim, let me start by quoting what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians.
“Now concerning the collection for the saints: just as I gave directions about it to the churches of Galatia, so you do also. On the first day of the week, each one of you put aside something, saving up to whatever extent he has prospered, in order that whenever I come, at that time collections do not take place. And whenever I arrive, whomever you approve by letters, I will send these to take your gift to Jerusalem. And if it is worthwhile for me to go also, they will travel with me. But I will come to you whenever I go through Macedonia (for I am going through Macedonia), and perhaps I will stay with you, or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way wherever I may go. For I do not want to see you now in passing, for I hope to remain some time with you, if the Lord allows it. But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a great and effective door has opened for me, and there are many opponents. But if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without cause to fear, for he is carrying out the Lord’s work, as I also am. Therefore do not let anyone disdain him, but send him on his way in peace in order that he may come to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers.” 1 Corinthians 16:1-11
Let’s sum that up shall we? I know it’s a long passage and I want to prove to you why I think this manuscript I’ve discovered should be considered real and why it should prompt us all to change why and how we give. So, here we go:
- Paul had given the same instructions to others
- On Sunday, put some money aside based on how much you’ve prospered
- This will make it easier so that the money will already be collected when Paul comes
- They will write letters of approval for the people who will actually take their gift to Jerusalem
- Paul might go with them to Jerusalem
- Paul plans on traveling through Macedonia before coming to Corinth
- When Paul arrives, he might stay with them in Corinth through winter
- He doesn’t want to come and go – he wants to visit
- Right now though, Paul is in Ephesus and will stay there through Pentecost because of a great opportunity
- If Timothy happens to stop in Corinth, be nice to him because he is carrying out the Lord’s work – like Paul is
- Treat Timothy with respect and send him to meet up with Paul because Paul is expecting him and his companions
Alright, here is the moment you’ve been waiting for. What does the manuscript I discovered say about WHY Paul told Christians to help the needy saints in Jerusalem? I will quote the exact words and then explain what it means in context with the rest of the passage within this manuscript:
“For this is not that for others there may be relief, and for you difficult circumstances, but as a matter of equality. At the present time your abundance will be for their need, in order that their abundance may also be for your need, so that there may be equality, just as it is written, “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.””
Wow! Did you get that? The collection for the needy saints was NOT to give them relief – it was so there would be EQUALITY among the saints.
This is a huge and major discovery that changes the reason why we give at church. It is not so we can provide comfort for people who come to services. It is not so we can provide temporary relief to saints in a crisis. It is not so we can create a program to help the homeless eat.
We are to give whatever money we have leftover (as we’ve prospered according to our Bible passage) so that the giver and the recipient will be equal.
EQUAL? Yes – equal.
Think about that for a moment. If this manuscript is authentic – and I believe it is – then our giving should not just be 10% it and then forget it. And our giving should not be focused on the bills that the local church has. Our giving should be focused on bringing the poor saints around the world up to our living conditions. THAT’S A LOT OF GIVING!!!!
But that’s not all, the manuscript I’ve discovered can be read online for yourself if you’d like to judge it’s veracity. In it, the writer (who I think is the actual Apostle Paul) describes what it was like in other churches (besides Corinth) and how they gave to the needy saints in Jerusalem. Here are some of the details:
- The Macedonian church also gave abundantly – even out of extreme poverty
- They gave above and beyond their ability
- When they gave they requested to be included in this ministry to Jerusalem
- So Titus was asked to help in this act of grace (a gift that is undeserved) in the same way the Corinthian church had excelled in grace
- Then Jesus is compared to this gift: He was rich but became poor so that we could become rich
- So, they should expect to see Titus and his team to pick up more money for the needy in Jerusalem.
- Not only that, but the Achaia church was also participating in this gift.
- Remember this: if you give just a little – you get just a little … but if you give a lot – you will get a lot in return.
That is basically all I found in the manuscript that pertains to explaining the collection for the Saints. I thought it was pretty cool because I’d never heard that the REAL point of giving was to promote financial equality across the whole church universal.
Thanks for reading this blog post and sharing in my discovery of this ancient and (I believe) authentic manuscript.
If you’d like to read the manuscript for yourself, click on the link below: