Paul and the Great Collection–Part Two

After making an analysis of Paul and the Great Collection, one writer concluded—There is no nobler example of disinterested benevolence in history. Except for the false accusations, constant character assassination, and a bogus arrest in Jerusalem, Paul profited nothing from it. We, however, can profit much by considering the heart and soul of this one who spearheaded this monumental effort and saw it through to its completion. In addition to his integrity, wisdom, and love for his brethren and kinsmen (see yesterday’s post), the following can be added:

Paul had a strong sense of duty. Recompensing those who preach the gospel and having a sense of debt and duty to others who help promote the gospel are not optional matters in God’s eyes: “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things…It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things..If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?” (Galatians 6:6; Romans 15:27; 1 Corinthians 9:11).

At the very beginning of the church, the generous brethren in Jerusalem supported at least twelve full-time preachers and their families, plus needy widows (Acts 6). Without the selfless financial sacrifices like those described in Acts 4:32-34, the early church would not have thrived as it did and that would have resulted in the Gentiles not hearing the gospel. The Gentile Christians had a debt to pay and a duty to discharge in light of this.

Paul’s courage. Few things place a traveler in any greater danger than the transporting of a large sum of money on a thousand-mile trip from Corinth to Philippi to Troas to Jerusalem. Christ’s bond-servant was not carrying paper currency. He could not convert a single shekel into legal tender that could be hidden discreetly while he traveled. There were no travelers’ checks or electronic money transfers. The best he could do would be to divide the sizable amount of coins among his traveling companions like Ezra did (cf. Ezra 8:24-33) and carry a sword (cf. Luke 22:36) to protect the Lord’s money.

In addition, before he ever boarded the ship which sailed out of Miletus’ harbor for Caesarea in Palestine, the Holy Spirit was informing him in every city that bonds and afflictions lay ahead of him (Acts 20:23). After landing safely in Caesarea, the prophet Agabus (who had accurately predicted the famine in Judaea about twelve years earlier—Acts 11:28) predicts Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem by the Jews (Acts 21:11-12). Though many sought to persuade him to not make the final leg of the trip, Paul courageously went ahead (Acts 11:13-14). He refused to allow his courage succumb to his fears or the fears of others.

Integrity. Wisdom. Brotherly love. Duty. Courage.

Five essential characteristics every soldier of the cross ought to possess.

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Author: jchowning

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