BIBLICALY SANCTIONED: Paul instructed the Corinthian church (i.e. collectively), “to lay by in store on the first day of the week.” (1 Cor 16:2).
DEFINITION: Concerning these words, “lay” and “store” – W.E. Vine in Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says, regarding both words – that they refer to a common treasury. Concerning this instruction, Albert Barnes says of the phrase – “lay by in store” in 1 Corinthians 16:2 – “They were to lay it by, and put into the common treasury, that there might be no trouble collecting when he should come. Alternatively, it may, perhaps, mean that they were individually to treasure it up, having designated in their own mind the sum that they could give, and have in readiness when he should come. This was evidently to be done not on one Sunday only, but was to be done on EACH Lord’s Day until he should come.” (From Barnes’ Notes)
SCRIPTURAL USES OF THE CONGREGATION’S TREASURY:
Editor’s Note: There is a great difference in the use of the Lord’s Treasury today by religious organizations; The many and sundry uses are to my personal understanding contrary to the teaching of the New Testament on the matter. It is my honest contention that there are only three legitimate (i.e. Scriptural uses) of the treasury.
1. BENEVOLENCE: God’s Written Word is clear on this point as we see in the church at Jerusalem, the needs of the poor were cared for from the congregations treasury by an appointed group (i.e. possibly the first deacons) – cf., Acts 6:1-8. Again in Acts 11:28-30 we read of the congregation in Antioch sending relief to the church in Judea.
2. EVANGELISM: The New Testament church consistently involved itself in the instructions given by the Lord to the apostles. The early church set the pattern for us in congregational evangelism as they took the gospel to the entire world of their day, Today we must also do as much in the area of local and world evangelism as the congregation is able to do. We note also that the early congregations supported those that spent their lives in teaching the gospel. Paul wrote that the laborer was worthy of his hire, cf., 1 Timothy 5:18. Paul also instructed churches to support those that sowed spiritual things among them (i.e. teachers/preachers) cf.,
1 Corinthians 9:6-14, “6 Or I only and Barnabas, have we not a right to forbear working? What soldier ever serveth at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Do I speak these things after the manner of men? or saith not the law also the same? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. Is it for the oxen that God careth, or saith he it assuredly for our sake? Yea, for our sake it was written: because he that ploweth ought to plow in hope, and he that thresheth, (to thresh) in hope of partaking. If we sowed unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we shall reap your carnal things? If others partake of (this) right over you, do not we yet more? Nevertheless we did not use this right; but we bear all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. Know ye not that they that minister about sacred things eat (of) the things of the temple, (and) they that wait upon the altar have their portion with the altar? Even so did the Lord ordain that they that proclaim the gospel should live of the gospel.” ASV
It is also shown that the church at Philippi sent again and again to Paul’s needs while he was involved in preaching the gospel; cf., Philippians 4:14-18, “14 Howbeit ye did well that ye had fellowship with my affliction. And ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving but ye only; for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my need. Not that I seek for the gift; but I seek for the fruit that increaseth to your account. But I have all things, and abound: I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things (that came) from you, and odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.” ASV
Since this work is to be performed to the extent of each congregation’s ability; this method is binding on each autonomous congregation today.
3. EDIFICATION: The Written Word requires of each congregation that it come together at appointed times for worship and edification. An upper room was utilized at Troas, cf., Acts 20:6-9, “6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days, where we tarried seven days. 7 And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and prolonged his speech until midnight. 8 And there were many lights in the upper chamber where we were gathered together. 9 And there sat in the window a certain young man named Eutychus, borne down with deep sleep; and as Paul discoursed yet longer, being borne down by his sleep he fell down from the third story, and was taken up dead.” ASV
The apostle Paul apparently rented a place while he was in Rome where he preached the gospel for two years, cf. Acts 28:30-31, “30 And he abode two whole years in his own hired dwelling, and received all that went in unto him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, none forbidding him.” ASV
Since the assembly of the church is appointed by Scripture, whatever is needed to expedite the assembly is authorized. Some brethren meet in a home, some in a rented building, some in a building constructed by funds from the church treasury. It is also true that song books, Bibles, class material, etc. – whether purchased from brethren or compiled by the elders or the preacher of the congregation, may be purchased from the congregation’s treasury.
SOME UNAUTHORIZED USES OF THE CHURCHES TREASURY:
Funds from the treasury ought not be used for entertaining the membership or others.
The church treasury should not be used to provide banqueting facilities for the membership – there are many other ways and places for such matters.
The congregation’s treasury should not be used to support entities that are not part of the churches mission.
The congregations treasury ought to be used for Biblically authorized causes only – Col 3:15-17, “15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms (and) hymns (and) spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God. 17 And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, (do) all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” ASV
CONSIDER THIS: In this brief study, I have attempted to show that each congregation has the responsibility to the extent of its ability to perform it assigned Divine Mission:
Ephesians 4:10-12, “10 He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some (to be) apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ:” ASV
DIVINE PATTERN FOR RAISING FUNDS FOR THE TREASURY:
Many of our religious neighbors resort to any means to raise money to carry on their work program. The only method that God authorizes in the New Testament for raising funds to carry on the work that HE has assigned each congregation is through free-will contributions into a common treasury on the first day of each week, cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, “1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. 2 Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.” ASV
Any method other that that stated in 1 Cor 16:1-2 is unauthorized by God; the duty of each Christian in the church is therefore responsible as a collective body to build the congregation’s treasury with their weekly contributions so that the work may be done.