Fulton County Gospel News

a work of the mammoth spring church of christ



By Larry

“And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Eph. 4:11-12). One of the works of the church, as listed above, is that of ministry. Many have understood this phrase to be the preaching of the gospel. However, this is not the case. Of this phrase David Lipscomb and J.W. Shepherd wrote, “There are two different words used in the Greek to designate the work of serving and the work of preaching the gospel. Ergon diakonios indicated the work of serving; ergon evangelistes the work of preaching the good news of salvation. The term used here, translated ministering, is the one which designates work of serving or ministering to the wants of the afflicted – first of the household of faith; secondly, to all the suffering mortals of the earth”[1] The church is, by implication, commanded to be a benevolent institution.

That the early church was to be involved in benevolence is evident by the command to collect funds for this work, ”Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye” (1 Cor. 16:1). We need to remember that the collection of these monies was used, not only for benevolence, but also for evangelism and other congregational obligations, “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14), and, “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things” (Gal. 6:6). The Gentile congregations were being instructed by Paul to set aside a portion of these funds to send to their Jewish brethren, “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. 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” (Rom. 15:26-27). The Gentile helping the Jew not only broke down racial barriers, it also broke down congregational barriers. The church is one body consisting of many congregations, and individual members, throughout the entire world who are to work together to the glory of God (Matt. 5:16). Likewise, some of these monies were to be used to help the poor and needy. The poor have been mentioned above and concerning those in need Paul penned, “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” (1 Tim. 5:16). Since orphans are aligned with widows by James, it is obvious that they are to be aided by the saints too, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (Jas. 1:27).

God is benevolent to all men according to the word of Jesus (Matt. 5:45). Until these people obey the gospel they are destitute of God’s spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3), but His physical benevolence is still extended toward them. The Lord and His disciples, from a collective purse, were benevolent to all men, “Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simons son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor” (Jn. 12:4-6; also see and read Jn. 13:27-29). Since the New Covenant began with the teachings and examples of our Lord, we should imitate these things, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;” (Heb. 2:3; also see and read 1 Pet. 2:21). According to the inspired Paul the church, as a collective body, is to be benevolent to all men (Gal. 6:10; also see and read 2 Cor. 9:12-13). The Corinthians text is a parallel text to the Galatian passage and ends with these words, “… for your liberal distribution (fellowship – see Strong, 2842, pg. 56 - LY) unto them, and unto all men.” Like God and His Son, we are to fellowship all men in carnal things, but can only offer them spiritual fellowship after their obedience to the gospel.

Larry preaches for the Curry St. church of Christ in West Plains, MO

[1] David Lipscomb and JW Shepherd, A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles, Vol. 4, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians (Gospel Advocate Company, Nashville, TN) pg. 78. 



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