“Collection for the Saints” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2)
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (NKJV).
This directive from the pen of Paul provides the most concise, clear set of instructions for local churches about how to handle the church’s collection. Without this text, churches may have been left to their own wisdom in raising funds. Yet, this passage clarifies the matter so there may be no misunderstanding of the divine expectations.
It authorizes a “collection.” The Greek word is LOGIA meaning “a contribution, collection, gathering” (Strong’s). The church will always have financial needs and the “collection” is God’s means to regularly prepare for and meet those needs.
It limits the distribution as “for the saints” (16:1). The church’s collection is not for distribution to just anyone. Scripture earmarks the church’s funds for the purpose of meeting the edification and benevolent needs of “the saints” (cp. Romans 15:25).
It is an order given “to the churches of Galatia” as well as this “church...at Corinth” (16:1; see also 1 Cor 1:2). This was not a personal or small-group collection. The local churches gathered, in part, for this purpose. This is a precedent for local churches.
This was to take place “on the first day of the week” (16:2). This voluntary offering took place at the assembly on a specific day. Yet, some churches seem to be perpetually fundraising. Where is the Scriptural precedent for churches raising money in other ways and at other times than this weekly collection?
It was the obligation of “each one of you” (16:2). It is not a church-imposed, compulsory flat fee. It is a self-imposed freewill gift based upon a person’s unique ability. Every individual must determine to give and is given latitude in their discretion in giving.
This giving was proportional to how one “may prosper” (16:2). A teen may not prosper like a CEO. A widow may not prosper like a working-class citizen. God does not expect us to give as others do, but to give in proportion to our blessings (cp. 2 Cor 8:12).
Paul’s teaching is simple and straight-forward. It provides authority for a collection, informs us of the collection’s expected appropriation, its audience, its time, its funding source, and the principles behind one’s giving. When Paul arrived, funds would be ready so he might “bear your gift to Jerusalem” (16:3). When churches follow this divine pattern, they are better equipped to meet the regular and urgent needs that will arise in a church’s work. May we fill our God-defined role in “the collection for the saints.”