Poor Saints in Jerusalem

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by drfuss, Aug 7, 2010.

  1. drfuss

    drfuss
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    Romans 15:
    25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. 26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. 27 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.

    Jerusalem is the only established church, that we have a record of, where it was necessary for other churches to take up an offering to support their poor people. Why wasn't this long established church able to support its own poor people?
     
  2. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Factors to consider:

    The Jerusalem Church was comprised mainly of non-Jerusalemites who were there for the feast season, got saved and "stuck around". They grew in grace and most think they remained for 6-12 months.

    The local residents were so strapped that they sold possessions and land to help bear the burden of all these other new believers.

    Then persecution arose and most scattered.

    What is left in Jerusalem by AD 60 was a shell of the Church there in AD 35. The powerful leading churches had shifted to Alexandria in Egypt, to Antioch in Syria, and soon to Rome in Italy.

    Remember, WE thinkj of churches with buildings, bank accounts, assets. The NT churches were in homes, giving to needy and no assets from week to week.

    But the church in Jerusalem DESERVED "repayment" of the sacrifice they had made in the earlier decades. They had planted churches. They had sent out and supported missions. The Gentile churches in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus all owed their very existence to that group.

    How wonderful and fitting to have these "new church plants" gathering resources and entrusting them to Paul to take and distribute back in Jerusalem. Not sure "karma" is a good word, but it is descriptive.
     
  3. drfuss

    drfuss
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    Acts 4:
    34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

    I suspect that the selling of lands and houses had a lot to do with the Jerusalem believers not being able to care for their poor. Those who had lands and houses probably were making a good living before and would have been able to continue giving to help the poor. But when they sold their lands and houses, they gave away their ability to make good money. So in time when the money laid at the apostles feet had run out, they could not make enough money to provide for the poor.

    As the saying goes, they had eaten the goose that laid the golden eggs.


    Note that two bad things happened with the central system they created.


    1. It provided an incentive for some to cheat. Ananias and Sapphira tried to cheat the system by lying about what they had contributed. Peter made it clear that the punishment was not about the fact that they held back some of the sale; but it was only because they tried to misrepresent their gift.


    2. After a while, some of the widows were neglected in the daily distribution. The problem was likely because the distribution amount was becoming very limited. This resulted in creating the deacon assignments to oversee the operation to make it more efficient.


    Since the Jerusalem church was the first group of Christians, one would think that the later Christians churches would follow their example. Yet there is no record in the New Testament that any other churches followed the Jerusalem example of selling all they had and giving it into a central system. I suspect the other churches saw what happened to the church in Jerusalem and knew better that to sell their means of making good money.
     
  4. drfuss

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    No comments of debate?

    Does everyone agree with me?
     
  5. Tom Butler

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    Actually, you may have a point.

    Some people have tried to characterize the Jerusalem church as a form of communism, since everybody chipped in so everybody would have something.

    They're wrong, of course. It may have been a form of communalism, but not communism.

    And the reason you don't hear about it in the other NT books is probably that it didn't work too well.
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    And in reality not that many 'Judean' Jews were saved. Almost all the 3k and 5k at pentecost were proselytes or Jewish visitors and not residents.

    There were some churches in the region, but really few. Saul, seeking to stamp out the spread, didn't go anywhere in the area but all the way to Damascus to attack the church there.

    The apostles remained (Acts 15) but with the advent of Gentile missions, the work moved out of Palestine, esp Judea. By the time Paul is arrested in Judea the church had little numbers/influence. The church in Rome, as Luke records, was far more numerous and active in supporting Paul (acts 28)

    Paul went to Jews, his kinsmen, first in every city. But the makeup of the churches was mostly non-jew. Jerusalem was a nice place to visit but . . wait, probably not even a nice place to visit for first century Christians!!
     

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