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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

At a very early stage in the history of the Christian Church the consciousness of its members expressed itself in voluntary efforts to ameliorate the condition of the poor and destitute ( Acts 4:32;  Acts 6:1). That this somewhat naïve attempt proved a failure was, perhaps, inevitable. Its apparently early abandonment leads to the conclusion that its promoters soon realized that a permanent settlement of social evils could never be arrived at by practical communism. Indeed, it is conceivable that, instead of curing the ills of poverty, wide-spread and deep-seated as it was in Jerusalem, it aggravated and perpetuated them. As we shall see, other and more powerful causes were at work; but, even if we minimize the historical value of the early chapters of Acts, enough remains to prove that this earliest and most self-sacrificing attempt of Christian men to realize their obligation to their poor brethren contributed to, rather than allayed, the evil it sought to destroy. See articleCommunity of Goods.

The next instance of a systematic collection of money for the purpose or relieving distress in Judaea and Jerusalem is found in the history of the Church of Antioch ( Acts 11:27 ff.). A threatened famine roused the sympathy of the Antiochene Christians, whose activity in the matter reveals their knowledge that the conditions of life amongst many of their Jewish brethren were those of chronic poverty and distress. The agents (διὰ χειρός) employed on this occasion for bringing relief (εἰς διακονίαν) were Barnabas and Saul. It was probably the example thus set that gave St. Paul the idea of his great and prolonged effort. Other causes were doubtless at work in the mind of the Apostle. As time went on, and misunderstandings grew up between Jewish and Gentile Christians, some attempt to bring them together was necessary if permanent disruption was to be avoided. In his letter to the Galatian Church he mentions an injunction laid on him and Barnabas by the ‘pillar’ apostles, ‘that we should remember the poor’ ( Galatians 2:10). It is also of interest to note that public subventions from the Imperial exchequer to cities or provinces in distress formed part of a settled policy of the Emperors, while private benefactions by wealthy citizens in cases of real or fancied need were almost universal (see S. Dill, Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aurelius , 1904, bk. ii, ch. ii.). The Jews of the Dispersion, moreover, recognized their obligation to their poor brethren of Jerusalem by organized help from time to time (cf. Robertson-Plummer, 1 Corinthians [ International Critical Commentary , 1911] 382); and doubtless as Christian teaching spread and was accepted by the people, and converts became gradually separated from the rest of the community, they would lose their share of these gifts. Another cause for a poverty so acute and wide-spread may well have been the general belief in the nearness of the Parousia which threatened the ordinary daily business of Christian men ( 2 Thessalonians 3:10; cf.  1 Thessalonians 4:11).

In his references to the carefully planned collection from the different churches St. Paul uses seven different words. All these occur in his letters to the Corinthians and Romans, and are as follows: λογία ( 1 Corinthians 16:1), χάρις ( 1 Corinthians 16:3,  2 Corinthians 8:4), κοινωνία ( Romans 15:26,  2 Corinthians 8:4, etc.), ἁδροτής ( 2 Corinthians 8:20), εὐλογία ( 2 Corinthians 9:5), λειτουργία ( 2 Corinthians 9:12), διακονία ( 2 Corinthians 8:4;  2 Corinthians 9:1;  2 Corinthians 9:12 f.; cf.  Acts 11:29). In the report of his defence before Felix two other words occur in the same connexion (ἐλεημοσύναι and προσφοραί [ Acts 24:17]). The word λογία occurs nowhere else in the NT, and is of obscure origin. By some it is supposed to be used here for the first time in Greek literature, and probably to have been coined by St. Paul for his purpose (T. C. Edwards, Com. on 1 Cor . 2, 1885, p. 462). A variation (λογεία), however, is found in the papyrus documents from the 3rd cent. onwards and in the compound words ἀνδρολογία, παραλογεία (A. Deissmann, Bible Studies , Eng. translation, 1901, pp. 142f., 219f.). It is also found associated with the Pauline word λειτουργία (F. G. Kenyon, Greek Papyri in the British Museum , 1893, i. 46), and is frequently employed ‘in papyri, ostraca, and inscriptions from Egypt and elsewhere,’ when the writer is speaking of ‘religious collections for a god, a temple, etc.’ (see Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East . Eng. translation2, 1911, p. 104ff.). The Codex Vaticanus (B) has the form λογεία, but as this manuscriptshows a tendency to orthographical changes in this direction its evidence must be discounted (see Westcott, Introd. to NT in Greek , 1882, p. 306). It also appears in a compound form in Jewish literature (κατʼ ἀνδρολογεῖον,  2 Maccabees 12:43) where the question of the collection of money-supplies is alluded to.

That St. Paul attached very great importance to the success of his collection for the poor Christians of Judaea is evident from the care with which he organized the scheme, and the perseverance he displayed in carrying it out. From the tone of his reference to this work which he began in Galatia ( 1 Corinthians 16:1) we are able to infer not only that he exercised his apostolic authority but that he gave detailed directions to the churches there in accordance with arrangements (διέταξα) personally thought out by himself. The instructions sent by letter to the Corinthians are no doubt a brief epitome of those delivered to the Galatian Christians (οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ποιήσατε), and include details as to the careful and systematic ear-marking by each Christian believer of his personal subscription ‘on every first day of the week’ (κατὰ μίαν σαββάτον). They were to appoint and approve by letters of credit (cf., however, Robertson-Plummer’s interpretation of the passage, making the Apostle the writer of the commendatory letters [διʼ ἐπιστολῶν τούτους πέμψω, κτλ.  1 Corinthians 16:3]) delegates who should carry their gift to Jerusalem (τὴν χάριν ὑμῶν). The laborious nature of the undertaking may be realized from St. Paul’s own references to the centres of activity. Galatia, Asia, Achaia, and Macedonia constituted the fields of his labours, and it is not improbable that his definite allusion to the collection in his Epistle to the Romans was intended as a hint to them to join with the other churches in ‘ministering to the saints’ (διακονῶν τοῖς ἁγίοις,  Romans 15:25; see Bengel, Gnomon of NT 7, 1873, on  Romans 15:27; cf.  Romans 12:13).

It is not too much to say that the Apostle did not regard his work in these four great provinces as completed until the fruit of his prolonged labours had been reaped (cf. σφραγισάμενος,  Romans 15:28), So long as this zealously undertaken (ἐσπούδασα,  Galatians 2:10) task remained unfinished he felt himself hindered from extending his missionary operations (τοῦτο οὖν ἐπιτελέσας). For a long time he was eagerly determined to visit Rome (see  Romans 1:13;  Romans 15:22 f.), but at the time of writing to that church he explains that he is prevented from doing so by an obligation to visit Jerusalem. On this journey he was accompanied by envoys or messengers (ἀπόστολοι,  2 Corinthians 8:23) from the churches contributing ( Acts 20:4), and so keen was his desire to bring the undertaking to a successful issue that no consideration of the dangers involved could turn him from his purpose (see  Acts 20:3;  Acts 20:22 f.). The result of this visit shows that the risks foreseen and spoken of beforehand (see  Acts 21:10 ff;  Acts 24:17 ff. etc.) were neither Imaginary nor exaggerated.

In order to appreciate rightly the necessity for this work of good-will (εὐδόκησαν,  Romans 15:28 f.), it will be useful to recall the wretched condition of the poor in Jerusalem at this time (all the Jewish Christians were not amongst the poor [see εἰς τοὺς πτωχοὺς τῶν ἁγίων,  Romans 15:26]). The plundering and bloodshed accompanying the successive administrations of the procurators Ventidius Cumanus and Felix brought about a state of anarchy, chronic rebellion, and famine (Jos. Ant . XX. viii. 5, etc., Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) II. xii. 1, II. xiii. 2, etc., Tacitus, Ann . xii. 54; cf.  James 2:2-6; W. Fairweather, The Background of the Gospels , 1908, p. 199f.; Schürer, History of the Jewish People (Eng. tr. of GJV).] I. ii. [1890] p. 172f.). The Zealots, whose fanatical policy kept the country seething with the wildest revolution, were replaced by the Sicarii or Assassins (cf.  Acts 21:38). Murderous bands infested the provinces, and the streets of Jerusalem witnessed innumerable deeds of cruelty and bloodshed. Those suspected of the least friendliness with the Romans were unhesitatingly robbed and assassinated; and although Felix endeavoured to stem the wild religious and political torrent by wholesale crucifixion, the disorders increased. The procurators Festus, Albinus, and Florus, who succeeded Felix, were not less unfortunate in their experience (Jos. Ant . XX. viii, ix, xi.), and the internecine struggles of the Jewish factions ended in the advent of Titus and the final destruction of Jerusalem. Famine, hitter and chronic, was the Inevitable outcome of these conditions, and none suffered so severely as the humble disciples of the despised Nazarene.

The relief-fund, the earliest attempt to organize and perpetuate Christian fellowship, was not only a failure in itself, but must soon have disappeared in these social upheavals. An appeal to outside sources became necessary, and one result of the compromise effected at his meeting with the ‘pillar’ apostles in Jerusalem was the initiation by St. Paul of his scheme of systematic collection (see  Galatians 2:10). There can scarcely be a doubt that the halting decision of the apostles of the circumcision, while it left the cardinal point of difference much where it had been, quickened St. Paul’s anxiety to adopt a plan which should emphasize the spirit of toleration and good-will then established ( Galatians 2:9). Having returned to Antioch, he was compelled to renew in a more pronounced form the controversy which had been partially settled at the Jerusalem Conference. After some little time (μετὰ δέ τινας ἡμέρας,  Acts 15:36) he proceeded in company with Silas to revisit by the shortest route-‘the Cilician Gate’-the older churches of Galatia. The purpose of this visit was not only to strengthen and establish (ἐπιστηρίζων,  Acts 15:41) spiritually these communities, but also to set on foot the collection for the poor among the Christians of Jerusalem (cf.  Galatians 6:10). In spite of the discouraging defection of the Galatian Christians, the Apostle feels himself justified in keeping this purpose before them, recalling its origin, and reminding them of its spiritual value (cf.  Galatians 6:6 ff.). It was probably early in a.d. 57 that he visited the Galatian churches for this purpose, and from this time until he presents the fruit of his toil during the feast of Pentecost in a.d. 58 he never loses sight of the importance and justice of the collection, not alone as it affected those who were to receive it, but also as it affected the givers (see  Romans 15:27;  2 Corinthians 9:6;  2 Corinthians 8:6 ff; 2 Corinthians 12). It is instructive, too, to note how he stimulates each community by mentioning the others in terms of generous praise (cf.  2 Corinthians 8:1-5;  2 Corinthians 9:1-5,  Romans 15:26 f.). It is a good example of the Apostle’s method, and recalls the accusation of wiliness (πανοῦργος δόλῳ,  2 Corinthians 12:16) brought against him by the Corinthian Christians.

The character of the dispute which raged so long and so fiercely between St. Paul and the church in Corinth was to a large extent developed and moulded by the niggardliness (ἐὰν δὲ ἄξιον ᾖ τοῦ κἀμὲ πορεύεσθαι [ 1 Corinthians 16:4; cf.  1 Corinthians 9:11 f.,  2 Corinthians 11:8 f.;  2 Corinthians 12:13]) and suspicious meanness of its members. Their response to the appeal of Titus, who was the original deputed organizer of the Corinthian collection, was prompt and willing (τὸ θέλειν); and yet, in spite of the fact that they had so early (προενήρξασθε ἀπὸ πέρυσι,  2 Corinthians 8:10) given their assent to his wishes, they seem to have repented soon of their promised support and to have accused St. Paul of having hurried them deceitfully into an unwelcome undertaking (ἐγὼ οὐ κατεβάρησα,  2 Corinthians 12:16). The disingenuous nature of their charges appears again and again in his vigorous self-defence (see his words, ἠδικήσαμεν, ἐφθείραμεν, ἐπλεονεκτήσαμεν,  2 Corinthians 7:2). Of one fact he constantly reminds them-he never accepted the smallest help towards his own support during his two visits to Corinth (cf.  Acts 18:3,  1 Corinthians 9:12;  1 Corinthians 9:15;  1 Corinthians 9:18,  2 Corinthians 11:7 ff.); and if, as seems very probable, his Second Epistle to the Corinthians is represented by the last four chapters of our Canonical Second Epistle (see J. H. Kennedy, The Second and Third Epistles to the Corinthians , 1900), we find that the Apostle’s indignation was so keen that he expressly determined, before he wrote the more conciliatory Third Epistle (2 Corinthians 1-9), never to accept monetary aid at their hands ( 2 Corinthians 11:9;  2 Corinthians 11:12;  2 Corinthians 12:14). It is satisfactory to note that this intense and proud independence was met by a complete reconciliation; and the success of his mission was such that he was moved to exclamations of thankfulness and praise ( 2 Corinthians 9:15). Perhaps an even more significant proof of his feeling in this respect is to be discovered in the tone of friendliness with which he mentions his Corinthian friends in the document written immediately afterwards ( Romans 16:1 f. 23). At the time of writing the Epistle to the Romans he was the guest of Gaius in Corinth, and the unpleasant character of his relations with the Corinthian Church had undergone a complete change.

What measure of success attended the Apostle’s prolonged and anxious efforts it is difficult to estimate. If we are to judge by his silence and the solemn warning in his Epistle to the Galatians ( Galatians 6:7), the scheme would appear to have been only a partial success or even to have fallen through. Again, if we are allowed to draw an inference from the list of delegates who accompanied him ( Acts 20:4), it would seem that the amount of the Corinthian collection was so small that there was little or no need for a representative. As early as the latter part of a.d. 57 the Macedonian churches had appointed their delegates ( 2 Corinthians 8:19; see Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) iii. 712a). On the other hand, as the Apostle intended to spend the winter months in Corinth, the selection would naturally await his arrival; and more especially would this delay occur as the bitter quarrel not only just been amicably settled. From the scanty evidence available it would not be safe to dogmatize. It may be that his reference to the example of the Galatian collection (see the emphatic ὑμεῖς,  1 Corinthians 16:1) points to a work already successful. Again, as the time of his journey to Jerusalem drew near, confidence in a not unworthy response by the Corinthian Church seems to have been restored (see his παρρησία, καύχησις,  2 Corinthians 7:4; περισσεύετε,  2 Corinthians 8:7; προθυμία,  2 Corinthians 8:11; τὴν οὖν ἔνδειξιν τῆς ἀγάπης ὑμῶν,  2 Corinthians 8:24; cf.  2 Corinthians 9:2;  2 Corinthians 9:7;  2 Corinthians 9:13;  2 Corinthians 9:15). It is not improbable that the triumphant joyousness (ἡ καρδία ἡμῶν πεπλάτυνται,  2 Corinthians 6:11) of his late appeal to them was due to their having chosen himself as their ambassador or representative to convey their ‘gracious’ gift (ἀπενεγκεῖν τὴν χάριν ὑμῶν εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ,  1 Corinthians 16:3) to its destination. His satisfaction that all discontent and suspicion were at an end is expressed by his sending before him to Corinth along with Titus two well-known and tried brethren (οὖ ὁ ἔπαινος ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ, ὃν ἐδοκιμάσαμεν ἐν πολλοῖς,  2 Corinthians 8:18;  2 Corinthians 8:22), to complete the collection and to have everything in readiness against his arrival in company probably with some Macedonian representatives ( 2 Corinthians 9:4; cf.  Acts 20:4). It is pleasant to learn that the unsavoury bickerings in Corinth were forgotten when, during that winter’s sojourn there, St. Paul penned his stately and cam Epistle to Rome. In that document he refers only to the good-will and the pleasure with which the Corinthians adopted and carried out the purpose of his pacificatory labours (τὸν καρπὸν τοῦτον,  Romans 15:28). The depth of the Apostle’s sympathy for the sufferings of his fellow-countrymen may be gauged by the reasons on which he bases his claims on their behalf. The spiritual debt which the Gentiles owed to the Jews (ὀφειλέται εἰσὶν αὐτῶν,  Romans 15:27; cf.  Galatians 6:6,  1 Corinthians 9:11) demanded an answering service (λειτουργῆσαι) in ministering to their temporal needs (see the contrast involved in the words πνευματικοῖς … σαρκικοῖς,  Romans 15:27). Another reason which he adduces arises out of the duty which wealth universally owes to poverty (mark again the contrast, περίσευμα … ὑστέρημα,  2 Corinthians 8:14), in order that, as equal opportunities in things spiritual is the norm of Christian life, there may also be equality (ὅπως γένηται ἰσότης,  2 Corinthians 8:14) in the satisfaction of worldly necessities. The repeated use of the word κοινωνία in this connexion by St. Paul justifies us in assuming that he deliberately set himself the task of conciliating the jealousy of the Jewish Christians by establishing a bond of fellowship and communion between them and the Gentile converts ( 2 Corinthians 8:4;  2 Corinthians 9:13; cf.  Romans 12:13).

All this is the more remarkable as at this period the sinister machinations of the Jews in both Corinth and Jerusalem were active and unremitting ( Acts 20:3; cf.  Romans 15:31). Instead of sailing direct, he made the return journey through Macedonia, where he celebrated the Passover ( Acts 20:6), and only arrived in Jerusalem in time for the feast of Pentecost, when he finally discharged the task he had set himself to carry out (cf.  Acts 24:17).

Literature.-In addition to the works mentioned throughout the article, see Conybeare-Howson, The Life and Epistles of St. Paul , new ed., 1886; G. G. Findlay, article‘Paul the Apostle’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) iii. 696ff.; A. Harnack, Mission and Expansion, of Christianity , Eng. translation2, 1908; A. Hausrath, A Hist. of NT Times  : The Time of the Apostles , Eng. translation, 1895, vols. iii. and iv.; W. M. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen , 1895, also article‘Corinth’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) i. 479ff.; F. Rendall, ‘The Pauline Collection for the Saints’ in Expositor , 4th ser. viii. [1893] 321ff.; J. Armitage Robinson, article‘Communion’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) i. 460ff.; Sanday-Headlam, Romans 5 ( International Critical Commentary , 1902); C. v. Weizsäcker, Apostolic Age , Eng. translation, i. 2 [1897], ii. [1895].

J. R. Willis.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [2]

Any organized gathering of funds or resources. In the Bible, collections are often taken for the benefit of others and not for oneself. The Hebrew term terumaa [תְּרומָּה] refers to a contribution. The Greek terms are logia [Λογεία] ("collection"), koinonian [Κοινωνία] ("participation"), and diakonia [Δωροφορία Διακονία] ("ministry").

The collection detailed in  2 Chronicles 31 was part of Hezekiah's reforms to make sure that God's ministers, the priests, received adequate provision as the law had commanded (  Exodus 35:21,24;  Leviticus 7:14,32;  Deuteronomy 12:6,17-19 ). When an excess came in, the remainder was stored for later use. The collection was administered with care.

The right of the New Testament minister to donated material support is affirmed by Jesus ( Luke 10:7 ) and the early church ( 1 Corinthians 9:1-14;  1 Timothy 5:18 ), but how this support is to be collected is not discussed anywhere in detail.  Acts 4:32-37 discusses how believers voluntarily brought their gifts to help members to the apostles. Here the collection extends beyond ministers to any believer in need. A negative example of those who lie while making such a donation occurs in   Acts 5:1-11 .

The key New Testament passages on collection are Romans 15:25-26, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 , and  2 Corinthians 8-9 . They all refer to Paul's aid from Gentiles for mostly Jewish believers in need in Jerusalem. Here believers in one locale help those of a different race in another locale. The gift expresses the sense of oneness in the body of Christ that comes through sharing and also reveals the church's sensitivity in meeting needs. First Corinthians 16:1-4 makes it clear that the gift is planned for and collected at a fixed time, and that much effort is made to insure the gift's integrity as it is delivered by trustworthy believers to those who are in need. In  2 Corinthians 8-9 , the gift is of their own free will, according to means, is handled by trustworthy individuals, is planned for, is to be given with joy, is an expression of thanksgiving to God, and glorifies him because it is a mark of generosity. In this passage, the collection is called "ministry."

Darrell L. Bock

See also Contribution; Tithing Tithe

Bibliography . S. McKnight, DPL, pp. 143-47; K. F. Nickle, The Collection: A Study in Paul's Strategy .

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [3]

1: Λογεία (Strong'S #3048 — Noun Feminine — logia — log-ee'-ah )

akin to lego, "to collect," is used in  1—Corinthians 16:1,2; in the latter verse, AV "gatherings," RV, "collections," as in ver. 1. See Gathering.

Webster's Dictionary [4]

(1): (n.) That which is collected

(2): (n.) That which is obtained in payment of demands.

(3): (n.) An accumulation of any substance.

(4): (n.) The act or process of collecting or of gathering; as, the collection of specimens.

(5): (n.) A gathering or assemblage of objects or of persons.

(6): (n.) A gathering of money for charitable or other purposes, as by passing a contribution box for freewill offerings.

(7): (n.) The jurisdiction of a collector of excise.

(8): (n.) The act of inferring or concluding from premises or observed facts; also, that which is inferred.

King James Dictionary [5]


1. The act of gathering, or assembling. 2. The body formed by gathering an assemblage, or assembly a crowd as a collection of men. 3. A contribution a sum collected for a charitable purpose.

Now concerning the collection for the saints.  1 Corinthians 16 .

4. A gathering, as of matter in an abscess. 5. The act of deducing consequences reasoning inference. 6. A corollary a consectary a deduction from premises consequence. 7. A book compiled from other books, by the putting together of parts a compilation as a collection of essays or sermons.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [6]

 Acts 24:17 Romans 15:25,26 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 2 8:9 Galatians 2:10

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [7]

kō̇ - lek´shun  :

(1) In the Old Testament (משׂאת( tnematse , mas'ēth , "something taken up"), used in  2 Chronicles 24:6 ,  2 Chronicles 24:9 the King James Version with reference to the tax prescribed in Ex.   Exodus 30:12 ,  Exodus 30:16; the Revised Version (British and American) "tax."

(2) In the New Testament "collection" is the translation given to λογία , logı́a , found only twice (classical, συλλογή , sullogḗ ). It is used with reference to the collection which Paul took up in the Gentile churches for the poor Christians in Jerusalem, as, for some reason, perhaps more severe persecutions, that church was especially needy ( 1 Corinthians 16:1 ,  1 Corinthians 16:2;  1 Corinthians 16:2 the King James Version "gatherings"). Other words, such as bounty, contribution, blessing, alms, ministration, are used to indicate this same ministry. Paul seems to have ascribed to it great importance. Therefore, he planned it carefully long in advance; urged systematic, weekly savings for it; had delegates carefully chosen to take it to Jerusalem; and, in spite of dangers, determined himself to accompany them. Evidently he thought it the crowning act of his work in the provinces of Galatia, Asia, Macedonia and Achaia, for as soon as it was finished he purposed to go to Rome and the West (  Acts 24:17;  Romans 15:25 ,  Romans 15:26; 2 Cor 8;  2 Corinthians 9:1-15 ). See also Communion .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [8]

(1.)' מִשַׂאֵת , Maseth , something taken up, e.g. Tribute ( 2 Chronicles 24:6;  2 Chronicles 24:9; elsewhere "gift," "mess," etc.);

(2.) for Συνάγω , to Contribute ( Baruch 1:6);

(3.) Λογία , a pecuniary collection ( 1 Corinthians 16:1; "gathering,"  1 Corinthians 16:2). (See Assessment).

In the apostolic age the Christians of Palestine were more straitened than other churches, and this might be from their being assailed with every cort of oppression by the Jews. The activity of Paul in taking up collections on their behalf is evident from what is said in  Acts 24:17;  Romans 15:25-26; 2 Corinthians 8, 9, and  Galatians 2:10. For this purpose the apostle, in  1 Corinthians 16:2, says, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store as God hath prospered him." The reason why this day was appointed for this purpose seems to be that, by the early Christians, the first day of the week was observed as the Sabbath of the Lord; and consequently, as on that day they commemorated that which formed the great bond of union between them and other Christians, it was the most suitable occasion for their displaying their love in the way prescribed, and also the time when they would be most liberal ( 1 Corinthians 16:1-3). (See Alms).