Passage: 1 Corinthians 15:58-16:14
Discussion Audio (1h07m)
The closing of the First Epistle covers a few miscellaneous topics. The first two regards financing and travels. These two topics feature in the first half of chapter 16.
The topic of financing is not about general giving or collections, but about some specific needs. The first need is one that regards the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. Paul’s desire is that through participation in bringing relief to Jerusalem, the Jewish and Gentile Christians will come to a better understanding of one another, that they are one in Christ, and that they are not at odds.
The second need is for Paul himself. He desires to travel to new areas, but needs financing to do so. He expects the Corinthian church to help him in this respect. Earlier he had to defend his refusal to accept pay for ministry, but here he is requesting aid. The difference? While ministering in a location, he is able to work and fund himself, but while traveling he is unable to do so. In addition, acceptance of pay means some degree of control over him by those paying him. On the other hand acceptance of travel funds (especially if his destination is not disclosed) hold no strings over his ministry.
The third need is for Timothy. Paul is sending Timothy to Corinth, but he tells the Corinthians that it is their responsibility to send Timothy back.
All of this comes from Paul’s missiology. First, those funding the missionary do not get a say in how or where ministry happens. Second, the first step for a missionary is to come in need to those whom he or she ministers. Third, the people who have enjoyed the benefits of a missionary have a responsibility to send her or him back.
Looking at Paul’s missiology I sense that there is a significant difference between his principles and modern mission principles. Modern missions goes in well-funded, primarily to give, and funders want to know how and where their funds will be used. Maybe this isn’t all bad, but maybe there are some things missions can learn from how Paul practiced it.