Paul, while in Ephesus about 55 C.E., wrote to the Corinthians: “Now concerning the collection that is for the holy ones, just as I gave orders to the congregations of Galatia, do that way also yourselves.” (1Co 16:1, 2) The Greek word lo·giʹa (“collection”) was in use at least from the third century B.C.E. It occurs only in these two verses of the Bible.
Matthew 17:24 describes “men collecting the two drachmas tax,” but here a different word (lam·baʹno) is used, which conveys the idea of “receiving.” (Compare Int.) Likewise, the expression “collect tithes” in Hebrews 7:5 stems from another word (a·po·de·ka·toʹo) altogether different from lo·giʹa.
However, Paul’s choice of words does give an indication that the collection was likely money and not food or clothing, and when he says “the collection,” it indicates a special collection and one already known to the Corinthians. Paul’s instructions were only about the manner in which the collection was to be made. It was to be in a private manner at each one’s “own house,” on a voluntary basis as each “may be prospering,” the same as was being done in “the congregations of Galatia.”—1Co 16:1, 2.
Paul was giving “orders,” not in the sense of arbitrary, compulsory commands, but as one taking the lead and supervising the whole affair, which involved several congregations. (1Co 16:1) He and others had carefully planned this project. In addition to being concerned about the spiritual needs of the congregations, Paul always had the physical needs of poor Christians in mind, and it appears that this collection was especially in behalf of the Judean Christians who were hard pressed at the time. (Ga 2:10) Elsewhere Paul referred to this collection by expressions such as “a contribution to the poor of the holy ones in Jerusalem” (Ro 15:26), “the ministry . . . for the holy ones” (2Co 9:1), “your bountiful gift previously promised,” “this public service” (2Co 9:5, 12), “gifts of mercy” (Ac 24:17). Such loving concern for the needs of fellow Christians was one of the identifying marks of first-century Christianity.—Joh 13:35; see CONTRIBUTION.