Partnership One With Another
Chapter 8 Plurality
live in the day of grace. It is written in the book of Galatians that
we are not under the law. If we are not under the law, then we are
simply not under the law. Neither are we under the consequences that
result from not following the law. (The curse of the law.)
the Old Testament, and in the gospel period, the law was in effect. One
of the many laws was the law of the tithe. Malachi chapter three, from
which many teach that we are to tithe, or suffer the consequences, is
addressed to the people of Israel, and they were under the law. We are
We have been given God's model for giving and sharing of
our prosperity in this age of grace. The example that we are to follow
is given in the fourth chapter of the book of Acts.
multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul: neither
said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his
own; but they had all things in common. And with great power gave the
apostles witness of the resurrection of the lord Jesus: And great grace
was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as
many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the
price of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles
feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had
need. Acts 4:32-35
Each believer in the church shared with the
other believers as needed. Many believers went so far as to sell houses
and properties that weren't needed so they could provide money to fill
the needs of the people of the church.
God's plan for the
needs of His people to be met was and is still very simple and straight
forward. Reread Acts 4:32-35 and notice that it was not a complex
structure or organization, but it was a simple partnership (koinonia)
with each person taking responsibility and reaping benefits.
the short time that passed between Acts chapter four and Acts chapter
six, the church grew from about 120 people to many thousand. As you can
imagine, there were problems that had to be overcome to carry out the
distribution of the money, food and other items. In Acts 6:1 we see
that some of the widows were being overlooked in the daily
distribution. We have the record of the way that the problem was
And in those days, when the number of the disciples
was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the
Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and
said, it is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve
tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest
report, full of the holy ghost, and wisdom, whom we may appoint over
this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to
the ministry of the word. Acts 6:1-4
Some have taught that this
example was not carried on into the later part of the early church, but
over twenty years later when the book of II Corinthians was written,
Paul said that there was to be an equity by the sharing with each other
to fill needs. (II Corinthians 8:12-15) This instruction and example is
for the believers of the age of grace, of which we are a part.
First Corinthians 16:2, Paul instructed, "Upon the first day of the
week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered
him." The word of God further instructs us in II Corinthians
9:7, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him
give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: For God loveth a cheerful
giver." We should give because we are operating the love of God in the
renewed mind in manifestation. God has given us His word and we must
choose to believe and give willingly out of love. It is our choice. God
will not force us to give. However in II Corinthians 9:6 the revelation
to us is, "He which soweth sparingly shall also reap sparingly: and he
which soweth bountifully shall also reap bountifully."
give an extremely strong example of giving for the wrong reason in the
account of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11. They did not give out
of love and believing, but to glorify themselves.
account in II Corinthians 8:24, we find that giving to supply others
need is a way to show "the proof of your love." The book of James makes
a very important point concerning sharing our plurality to fill other's
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily
food, And one of you say unto them, depart in peace, be ye warmed and
filled; notwithstanding ye give them not the things which are needful
to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works
is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have
works: Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my
faith by my works. Thou believeth that there is one God; thou doeth
well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain
man, that faith without works is dead.
as believers know the word of God, we then are responsible to believe
and carry out that word. In II Corinthians chapters eight and nine,
Paul gives instructions to the scattered churches at Corinth,
concerning a special collection to help the starving saints in
Jerusalem. He doesn't tell them to talk about it or pray about it, or
to wait around. But he encourages them to get on with it.
therefore, perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to
will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. For
if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what a
man hath, and not according to that he hath not. For I mean not that
other men be eased, and ye be burdened: But by an equality, that now at
this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their
abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be
equality: As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over;
and he that had gathered little had no lack. II Corinthians 8:11-15
Go back to Acts 4:32-35 and read it again. As you read, notice the following six truths of this revelation:
no one felt that their possessions were there own. Everything that we
have is because God has blessed us. God has supplied our need so that
we can carry out the ministry of reconciliation that He has given us.
God supplies us so we can give, not so we can squirrel it away. Look at
the following verses:
But they that will be rich fall into
temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which
drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the
root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from
the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou,
O man of God, flee these things ... I Timothy 6:9-11
that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in
uncertain riches, but in the living God who giveth us richly all things
to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to
distribute, willing to communicate. Laying up in store for themselves a
good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on
eternal life. I Timothy 17-19
The second truth in Acts chapter
four that we should see is that they had all things in "common."
"Common" is the Greek word koina which means shared or common.
Possessions were not held as a high priority, because spiritual things
were most important. This word koina is the word that koinonia comes
from, which is translated fellowship and means partnership.
Third, no one in the group at Jerusalem lacked for physical needs because there was an equality in the church.
those who had more than they needed sold unneeded possessions and "laid
them down." They turned loose of their gift and turned it over to the
"apostles." (Later gave them over to the seven men who were designated
to manage the distribution.) They didn't give with strings attached to
Fifth, distribution was made. People gave. People
distributed. God supplies our needs through people. Distribution is
made possible by people who choose to believe what God has plainly told
us in His word about sharing our possessions.
distribution was made according to the need of each individual. Acts
chapter four gives us the basic plan of plurality within the body of
Christ. Each individual church is responsible to receive and distribute
to the needs of believers within the church.
The church should
help all believers within their group as needed until they are able to
stand on their own and contribute to the common need. I Timothy
gives us very specific instructions concerning who the church is
responsible to support on an ongoing basis:
3 Honor widows that are widows indeed.
(honor: tima place value on)
(indeed: ontos really being)
(widow: xeras lacking husband)
4 But if any widow have children or nephews,
(not a widow indeed)
(nephews: ekgona grandchildren)
let them learn first to shew piety at home,
(piety: eusebeiv respect to parent)
and requite their parents: for this is good and acceptable before
God. (requite: amoibas repay)
5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate,
(desolate: memonomene without support)
trusteth in God and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
(pleasure: spapalosa self pleasure)
7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.
(give in charge: paraggelle transmit a message)
8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his
own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse
than an infidel.
(infidel: apistou unbeliever)
9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under three-score
years old, having been the wife
of one man.
(taken: katalegestho enrolled)
10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up
she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the
saints feet, if she have relieved their afflicted,
if she have
diligently followed every good work.
11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they
(refuse: paraitou decline)
have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
(wax wanton: katasteniasosi grow lustful)
12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about
from house to house; and not only
idle but tattlers also and busy-bodies,
things which they ought not.
13 I will
therefore that the younger women marry, bear children,
guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary
to speak reproachfully.
14 For some have already turned aside after Satan.
15 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them
relieve them, and let not the
church be charged; that it may
relieve them that are widows indeed
(relieve: eparkeito help) (charged: bareistho burdened)
indeed are women that are over 60 years old and have no means of
support. The church is to make arrangements for these women to be taken
care of, and the church is to provide for them. Other widows are to
marry. They fall into the general guidelines given in Acts chapter
four. The church is to help them until they either marry or become able
to work to support themselves.
Paul goes into great detail to explain why some elders should be financialy supported.
I Timothy 5:17-18:
17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double
especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
(honour: times money paid) (doctrine: didaskalia teaching)
18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that
the corn. And the labourer is worthy of his reward.
(labourer: ergates worker, figuratively, teacher)
(reward: misthou pay for service)
I Corinthians: 9:7-14
7 Who goes a warfare anytime at his own charge?
(charge: opsoniois pay for service)
Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or
who feedeth a flock and eateth not the milk of the
8 Say I these things as a man? Or
saith not the law the same
9 For it is
written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the
mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God
take care of oxen
saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no
doubt, this is
written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope;
and that he that thresheth is hope should be
partaker of his hope.
11 If we have sown
unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we
shall reap your carnal things?
12 If others
be partakers of this power over you, are not we
rather? Nevertheless, we have not
used this power: but suffer all things lest we
should hinder the gospel of Christ.
13 Do ye
not know that they which minister about holy things live
of the things of the temple? and they which wait the
partakers with the altar?
14 Even so hath
the lord ordained that they which preach the
gospel should live of the gospel.
is what the word of God says about plurality. Now we need to believe
the word, do the word, and see the wonderful results of God's word in
action. The word also tells us the following:
I have shewed you
all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to
remember the words of the lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed
to give than to receive. Acts 20:35
Therefore if thine enemy
hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing
thoughshalt heap coals of fire on his head. Romans 12:20
deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he
also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh
reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit
reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for
in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have
therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto
them who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:7-10
that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his
hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that
needeth. Ephesians 4:28
The evidence is clear, we are to give
of our plurality based upon the New Testament records. Therefore, "my
little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in
deed and in truth." I John 3:18
By Neil Tolman