Written as part of a lengthy section that describes what is to happen when "the whole church comes together in one place" (I Cor. 11:20, 14:23), I Corinthians 16:2 addresses the matter of our giving. When Christians gather as "the assembling of ourselves together" (Heb. 10:25), we are to commune around the Lord's supper (I Cor. 10:16+, 11:20+), receive edifying instruction (I Cor. 14:4+), and offer songs and prayers (I Cor. 14:15). I Corinthians 16:2 instructs us to also contribute when we are all together. This article is written to explain this important passage.
I Corinthians 16:2 - Different Versions
- "Upon the firstdayof the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as Godhath prospered him" (KJV).
- "On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income" (NIV).
- "On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper" (ESV).
- "On the first day of every week each one of you is to put something aside, in proportion to his prosperity" (AMP).
- "On every Lord’s Day each of you should put aside something from what you have earned during the week, and use it for this offering. The amount depends on how much the Lord has helped you earn" (TLB).
I Corinthians 16:2 - Setting and Background
Standardizing Christian doctrine and practice as the young church matured, Paul arranged giving in Corinth just as he had directed giving to be done in Galatia. Instead of awkward and unscheduled collections, the first day of the week, the day of Christian worship, is also to be the day of giving. Along with John 20:19 and 26 and Acts 20:7, this is one of the Bible verses that distinguishes the Christian Sunday from the Jewish Saturday Sabbath and the Progressive whenever.
I Corinthians 16:2 - An Unusual Phrase
Paul uses the unusual words "lay by in store" or "put aside something" to describe our giving. This refers to our private, "pre-Sunday" decision to conscientiously "measure our treasure." On Sunday, the result of our decision-making is to be placed in the hands of the eternal God by placing our contribution in the hands of temporal decision makers (see Acts 4:35). The giving is to take the form of money - but how much?
I Corinthians 16:2 - The Standard of Our Decision
A levy of 10% was standard in the Old Testament. Even before the tithe was included in the Law of Moses (Lev. 27:30, and etc.), first Abraham (Gen. 14:20) and later Jacob (Gen 28:20) gave a tenth part to God. When Malachi asked, "Will a man rob God? (Mal. 3:8), the prophet was speaking of "tithes and offerings."
No New Testament passage re-imposes the tithe. I Corinthians 12:2 presents a less rigid but no less demanding standard: we are to give "as God has prospered" us, or in an amount "in keeping with our income." Released from the hook of a standard, public levy, we are placed on the sharper hook of private conscience. Paul emphasizes that God is the author of our prosperity, so between our heart and The Giver of "Every good gift and every perfect gift" (Jas. 1:17), we are to reach the decision about how much to give.
Another New Testament passage also informs this decision. "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (II Cor. 9:7). No external "grudging compulsion" forces our decision. Our giving is to be with internal, personal cheerfulness. The Greek word from which "cheerful" is translated is hilaros, the same ancient work as is in the background of our modern word hilarious. Like a distance runner enjoying the euphoric "runner's high" of an endorphin rush, Christians are to give to the point of sheer delight. This point is far beyond pinch-penny stinginess. It is not a coincidence that the words miser and miserable sound so similar.