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.” (1 Cor. 16:1, 2) The Greek word lo·giʹa (“collection”) is not found in classical Greek writings and 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.” Likewise, the expression “collect tithes” in Hebrews 7:5 stems from another word (a·po·de·ka·toʹo) altogether different from lo·giʹa. However, comparatively recent finds of certain Greek papyri and inscriptions down in Egypt containing this word lo·giʹa show that Paul did not use an unknown expression. It was a common business term, and was used chiefly with reference to collections of money for gods and temples, in the form of taxes, assessments or voluntary offerings.
So, from Paul’s choice of words, we learn that the collection was evidently 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; the reasons for it are not here covered. 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.”
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. He and others had carefully planned this project. Paul always had the physical needs of the Lord’s poor in mind, as well as their spiritual needs, and it appears that this collection was especially in behalf of the Judean Christians who were hard pressed at the time. (Gal. 2:10) Elsewhere Paul referred to this collection by expressions such as “a contribution to the poor of the holy ones in Jerusalem” (Rom. 15:26), “the ministry . . . for the holy ones” (2 Cor. 9:1), “your bountiful gift previously promised,” “this public service” (2 Cor. 9:5, 12), “gifts of mercy.” (Acts 24:17) Such love and concern for the needs of fellow Christians was one of the identifying marks of first-century Christianity.—John 13:35; see CONTRIBUTION.