Paul is writing about a large gift from the church at Corinth to help the poor Christians in Judea. However, Paul does not describe the gift like that. Instead, he describes it as an act to ‘serve the saints’. By saints, he means God’s holy people. The word for ‘saints’ in the original Greek language is simply the normal word that means ‘holy’. The first Christians often used that word to describe any other Christians. They were all God’s holy people*.
To be holy, means to belong to God, or to be separate for God. That describes many of Judea’s Christians well. They were the first people in the world to become Christians; and they suffered much for their belief in Christ. That was why they were so poor. Many of them had lost their homes and jobs because of their belief in Christ. Their friends, relatives and family had separated from them. Now many of them were old, and they had nobody to support them. In their troubles, they did not turn away from God. Instead, they depended wholly on him. They gave their lives even more to carry out good works and for prayer*.
In the Bible, a gift of the first part of the harvest was especially holy*. It may be that Paul considered the gift from Corinth’s church to be this kind of gift. It was the first special gift that this important new church was giving. Paul had refused to accept this first gift for himself, even when he needed it*. The result was that this very holy gift would go for a very holy purpose.
* See complete article for these Bible references.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.