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These studies examine the traditional doctrines held by the Church of Christ to see if they are actually taught in the scriptures. This is not an "anti-Church of Christ" site. I was reared in the Church of Christ and have been preaching since 1968 in the Church of Christ. My desire is that we walk righteously before God, not according to traditions of men.  Bernie Parsons

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Biblical Pattern of Assistance to Religious Leaders, the Poor, and the Needy

 by Bernie Parsons

 April 17, 2010

The Church of Christ teaches that there must be a Biblical pattern for everything that the church does. When it comes to collecting money, it is insisted that the only scriptural pattern is found in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, and consists of a weekly collection, each Sunday, from members. This collection is put into the so-called "church treasury". The act of collecting the funds is often called "Lay By In Store".

There is a Biblical pattern for assisting poor and needy saints, and for providing support for preachers, found throughout the Bible. It does not consist of one particular activity alone, such as the "Lay By In Store" attributed to 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. I have debunked this doctrine already in a separate article, and in this one, I wish to point out what the Bible teaches about assisting the poor, the needy, and the religious leaders, such as evangelists and elders.

Old Testament Assistance

 (1)   Tithe into storehouses for Levites, strangers, fatherless, widows – 10 per cent of that to priests

 Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:25-32; Deuteronomy 12:11-27; Deuteronomy 14:22-29; 2 Chronicles 31:4-20; Nehemiah 10:34-39; Nehemiah 13:10-13

 (2)   Seventh year forgiveness of debts (helped poor regain some of their wealth)

Leviticus 25:1-8

 (3)   Jubilee return of lands in fiftieth year to original owner (helped poor regain some wealth)

 Leviticus 25:9-28

(4)   Don’t cut corners of fields, leave for Levites, strangers, fatherless, widows

 Leviticus 19:9; Leviticus 23:22

 (5)     (a) Leave forgotten sheaves in field, leave for Levites, strangers, fatherless, widows

(b) Don’t shake trees second time, leave for Levites, strangers, fatherless, widows

(c) Don’t glean left-behind grapes, leave for Levites, strangers, fatherless, widows

 Deuteronomy 24:17-22; Leviticus 9:9-10; Leviticus 23:22

 (6)   Treat strangers (unbelievers) as you would yourself

 Leviticus 19:33-34

(7)   Loan without interest to needy brethren

Exodus 22:25-27; Leviticus 25:35-37; Deuteronomy 23:19-20; Ezekiel 18:16-18


 The above was intended to:

(1)   Support the Levites and priests who take care of the Lord’s work

(2)   Help the poor to become more wealthy

(3)   Assist the needy, both Israelites and strangers, in times of crises

(4)   Look after those who cannot look after themselves – widows, fatherless, strangers


New Testament Assistance


(1)   Give out of common purse to the poor

 John 13:29

(2)   Share houses with fellow believers

 Matthew 19:29 

(3)   Sell things and give proceeds to the poor

 Matthew 19:21; Matthew 26:9; Luke 19:8; 1 Corinthians 13:3

 (4)   Sell excess items and distribute to brethren as needs arise

 Acts 4:34-37; Acts 5:1-4

(5)   Keep as much from these sales as you wish

Acts 5:4

(6)   Support those who labor in the gospel work (preachers, elders, others)

Luke 8:1-3; 1 Corinthians 9:3-13; Galatians 6:6-9; Philippians 2:25; Philippians 4:14-19; 2 Timothy 1:16-18; Philemon 1:11-13; 1 Timothy 5:17; 3 John 1:6-8

(7)   Work to support self and others

Acts 20:33-35; 1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 9:15-19; Galatians 6:4-5; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Timothy 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:8-15

(8)   Believers are to help close relatives

1 Timothy 5:4, 8

(9)   Church to support widows without close, believing relatives

 Acts 6:1-6; 1 Timothy 5:3-5; James 1:27

(10) Collection, over time, to help a congregation of believers in need

 Romans 15:26; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8:1 - 9:15

 (11) Give cheerfully, willingly, in love

2 Corinthians 8:12, 9:7

(12) Give of your excess

Acts 4:37; 2 Corinthians 8:14-15

 (13) Those doing well are to assist the poor

Matthew 19:21; Mark 14:7; Luke 6:35; Romans 15:26; 1 Corinthians 10:24; Galatians 2:10; 1 Timothy 6:17-18; Hebrews 6:10-11

 (14) Support the weak

Acts 20:35; Romans 15:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 5:14

 (15) Bear one another’s burdens

1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 10:24; Galatians 6:2; Galatians 6:9-10

 (16) Help everyone, especially the believers

1 Corinthians 6:18; 2 Corinthians 9:13; Galatians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 6:17-18; Hebrews 13:16


The above was intended to:

(1)   Support the evangelists, elders, and others who do God’s work

(2)   Help the poor believers to become more wealthy

(3)   Assist all of the needy, believers and unbelievers, in times of crises

(4)   Look after those who cannot look after themselves – widows, fatherless, etc.

What pattern emerges from both Old and New Testament teachings? Help those who are poor to increase their wealth! Assist the needy during financial crises! Support those who do God’s work.

The pattern is not, as Roman Catholics and their Protestant offspring have taught, to collect into a “church treasury” each first day of the week, ten per cent, or more, to sustain “church activity” – that activity consisting of whatever the church wants to do. Such activity often includes building, furnishing, maintaining, and repairing so-called "church buildings", paying related utility bills, and importing evangelists into the local congregation to preach in so-called revivals or "gospel meetings".

Ironically, the one thing that many congregations refuse to do, or do grudgingly, is to help the poor and the needy among themselves. Most flatly refuse to help non-Church of Christ members who may need help. They usually cite 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 for their flawed reasoning, insisting that it is a collection for needy saints only. Yet, they have no qualms about using that same money for preachers and buildings. 

The Biblical pattern is evident: help the needy and poor, and support those laboring in the Lord's spiritual work. Helping the needy and the poor are two different things. The needy are those who find themselves in a sudden dire need, and may have otherwise been able to take care of themselves. Often, helping them is a single incident, although that same person or family may need help again at another point in their lives. By helping the needy, we lift the burden from their minds, relieving the stress of wondering how to meet the sudden, often catastrophic, need.

The poor are those who live in poverty, and who struggle from day to day just to make ends meet. Life is always difficult for them, and they often get by with basic necessities, rough fare for food, old cars that keep breaking down, and sub-standard housing. Their homes might be cold in winter and hot in summer due to inadequate heating and cooling. They may not be able to afford proper clothing to deal with extremes in temperatures. Their diet often consists of common, starchy, fatty, or sugary foods that are cheap to buy – which can also contribute to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses.

God has taught His people to work with such poor brethren to try to get them on a better footing, so that they might have a better life. This is part of God’s plan for His people. The Law of Moses dealt with this quite a bit. So did the teaching of the apostles, particularly Paul. James also said quite a bit on the subject. In fact, Paul invoked the memory of the manna distribution when writing to the Corinthian church about helping their fellow saints in need. Those who gathered much had none left over, and those who gathered little had no lack. This is not a socialist, “share the wealth” scheme, but a godly, voluntary sharing of abundance in order to improve the lives of all believers. The apostle Paul told the Corinthian Christians that their surplus would help the needy Judaean Christians, and that in the future, the reverse might well be true.

Lastly, both the Law of Moses and the teaching of Christ and His apostles specify that those who labor in the Lord’s work are to be loved and assisted. Under the old Law, tithing was the means by which the priests, and the Levite families who worked in the tabernacle and its upkeep, and later the temple, and its upkeep, were supported. Under the teaching of Christ and His apostles, the evangelists and elders were supported through the voluntary contributions of believers, either as individuals, or as an assembly of such believers, and through sharing other resources, such as homes, meals, and the like.

Once more, realize that the pattern is not found in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 alone, but in all of the scriptures that reference how the needy, poor, and laborers in the Lord’s work were supported. An attempt to zero in on one scripture alone as the pattern causes us to miss the actual pattern. For instance, Jesus told the rich, young man of Luke 18:22 to sell everything that he owned and give it to the poor. However, Zacchaeus, in Luke 19:8-9, when stating that he would give half of his wealth to the poor, was told by Jesus that he was righteous. In Acts 4:32-37, Jerusalem Christians were selling lands and turning the proceeds over to the apostles for distribution as each had need. Yet, in Acts 5:1-4, Ananias and Sapphira lied about the value of land that they had sold, andwere told that while it was in their hands, it was theirs to do with as they pleased. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, the congregations were gathering resources, over time, to send to the church in Judaea. In 2 Corinthians 8:12-15, they were told that this could be from their surplus, much as was done with the manna in ancient times.

A thorough review of the scriptures listed earlier in this writing shows that there are several ways in which we can meet the requirements of the poor, the needy, and those laboring in the Lord’s work. The main thing is to actually follow through and meet those requirements, rather than merely paying lip service to the concept while actually neglecting them.

Although this assistance begins in the household of faith, it is not confined to believers. The Bible teaches that we are to love everyone, even our enemies – Romans 12:20 – and that we are to be a neighbor to whoever needs our help – that was the lesson of the “good Samaritan” in Luke 10. We are to help all people who need us, as is stated in 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15, 2 Corinthians 9:12-13, and Galatians 6:10.

To do any less is to contradict the eternal law of God that we love our neighbor as ourselves.

For better understanding, read the following related articles: 

Collection For The Saints

Distribution Of Wealth

Paying The Preacher

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