Questions about Church BenevolenceWe received the following questions about church benevolence …
- How do you argue that Galatians 6:10 is talking about an individual (other than the argument that the context is talking about an individual)?
*** Well, that is really the only way you can ever tell who a passage is talking to — you have to look at the context and make that determination. Beginning with Galantines 6:1, it is clear that the text is addressing individuals. Read it and see that it repeatedly says things like "a man," "every man", "his own," "let him". Look at verses 7-9 which talk about individual accountability and judgment. This leads right up to verse 10 that says, "as we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men …" There is no way it could be discussing congregational activity.
- Also, where do you prove that the church is only to help Christians in physical need?
*** It is the whole question about how we establish Bible authority. If the church is authorized to help non-Christians from the collective treasury, then there must be one of the following methods for proving it. 1) a direct command for the church to do it, 2) an approved example of a church doing it, or 3) something implied in the New Testament which would force us to the inescapable conclusion that the church must do this. Of course, none of those three things is present in the New Testament. There is no direct command for the church to do it (remember that there is a difference between what individuals are commanded to do and what the church as a collective body is commanded to do — that is why Gal. 6:10 is a point of contention). There is no example of any New Testament congregation ever helping a non-saint from their collective treasury. In addition, there is nothing implied that would force the conclusion that the church should do this. Bottom line: there is no authority for it.
But in discussing this, we want to be sure to point out that as individual Christians we believe that we can and should "do good unto all men" as Galatians 6:10 says.