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The Scriptorium

Maintaining Unity

Unity through giving. 1 Corinthians 16.1-4

1 Corinthians 16 (1)

Pray Psalm 125.1, 2.
Those who trust in the LORD
Are like Mount Zion,
Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the LORD surrounds His people
From this time forth and forever.

Sing Psalm 125.1, 2.
(St. Gertrude: Onward, Christian Soldiers)
All who trust in Jesus, strong as Zion stand!
Naught shall ever move them from their promised land!
Like the hills surrounding safe Jerusalem,
Christ surrounds His Church and holds her in His mighty Hand!
Refrain, v. 1
All who trust in Jesus, strong as Zion stand!
Naught shall ever move them from their promised land!

Read and meditate on 1 Corinthians 16.1-4.

1. What were the Corinthians supposed to do?

2. What would happen after that?

To the Ephesians Paul wrote that we must work hard to maintain the unity we have in the Body of Christ (Eph. 4.3). He called on the Corinthians, as he had the Galatians (v. 1), to take up a collection to relieve the famine-stricken churches in Judea (Acts 11.27-30; cf. Acts 18.1, 2 for the date). They were to bring their gifts to the Lord’s Day assembly and offer them as part of their worship of the Lord (v. 2). Paul would then arrange for the gifts to be taken to Jerusalem so that they could be distributed to the needy believers throughout Judea (v. 3).

Here Paul extended his metaphor of the local church as the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12) to a worldwide scale. As all believers are members of a local body with gifts to share for edification, so all churches are members of the worldwide Body for the same ends. Paul wrote to the Romans—from Corinth—that it was appropriate for the churches throughout the world to make this offering for the believers in Judea, because it had been through the believers in Judea that the Gospel had gone out to all the world. They shared spiritually with the churches throughout the empire, so it was fitting for those churches to share materially with the believers in Judea (cf. Rom. 15.25-27). Thus, he further demonstrated the unity of the Church worldwide by adapting the principle he taught in 1 Corinthians 9 about sharing with those who teach (1 Cor. 9.8-14).

In our day we have lost much of the sense of oneness Jesus indicated was so important for His followers to maintain (Jn. 17.21). Whatever we can do—in our church and among the churches of our community, as well as worldwide—to strengthen our unity in the Spirit will serve to bring the glory of God into sharper focus (Ps. 133). And thus, not only in the small things of life, but in large-scale matters as well, God will be glorified (1 Cor. 10.31).

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Paul was expanding our joy by providing new ways to serve and give, along with our required tithe:

“I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20.35). Abundant joy.

Since there are so many people in need, we have no chance of ever feeling sad or without purpose, as the multitude of ways to give are limitless. We are daily surrounded by opportunities to experience the abundant life that Jesus promised us (Jn. 10.10). Abundant peace.

“Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Lk. 6.38). Abundant blessing.

“Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase;
so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Prov. 3.9, 10). Abundant life.

“The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways. Then all the people of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you” (Deut. 28.8-10). Abundant grace.

But all this collecting and saving and giving is not done as an end in itself, or merely for our joy in giving, but it is done to prove our love for God and to be obedient to His command.
“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 Jn. 4.20, 21). Abundant love.

“Now concerning the collection for the saints…” (1 Cor. 16.1) we are on board, looking forward to the joy found in giving, sharing, and loving those who belong to the Lord. Abundant unity.

For reflection
1. So much of what it means to be a Christian involves giving ourselves for others. How does that show up in your life?

2. The unity of Christ’s Body is the responsibility of each member. How do you work at maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace with other believers (Eph. 4.3)?

3. Corporate worship is an excellent context for the work of giving. Explain.

The day itself was enough to encourage them to give alms. For the Lord’s day was the day on which we received all the blessings which we now have. It is the root and the beginning of our new life in Christ. This is not the only reason that it is suitable for almsgiving, however. It is also the day of rest, when our souls can relax from their toils and open themselves to show pity.
John Chrysostom (344-407), Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians 43.2

Pray Psalm 125.1, 4, 5.
Pray that God will do good and bring revival to His churches everywhere, and that churches will work together in seeking and advancing the Kingdom of God.

Sing Psalm 125.1, 4, 5.
(St. Gertrude: Onward, Christian Soldiers)
LORD, do good and care for those upright in heart.
Those who turn to evil shall from You depart.
Sinful men may increase on their way to hell!
Save Your people, let your peace abound in Israel!
Refrain, v. 1
All who trust in Jesus, strong as Zion stand!
Naught shall ever move them from their promised land!

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today is in need of revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter, available by 
clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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