This is the last post in my series on 1 Corinthians and I will turn to the Jerusalem Collection in 1 Corinthians 16. Ever since Paul was instructed by the “Jerusalem Pillars” Peter, John, and James the Lord’s brother to “remember the poor” (Gal 2:10), Paul chose to raise a collection from his Christ assemblies throughout the nations as a gift for the poor saints in Jerusalem and we can read about the development of the collection in Paul’s letters (cf. 1 Cor 16:1-4; 2 Cor 8:1-9:15; Rom 15:25-28). This gift was not only intended to supply their material needs, but also to be a sign of unity between Jews and non-Jews in Christ. It is curious that Paul does not report on the reception of the collection in letters that postdate his arrival in Jerusalem (e.g., the “Prison Epistles” if written from their traditionally-conjectured location in Rome) and the book of Acts is completely silent about the collection altogether, unless Acts 24:17 is a subtle reference to it. This has lead some scholars to speculate that the collection may have been rejected due to some of the significant opposition that Paul faced in some quarters of the Jerusalem Church, which Acts 21:20-22 acknowledges. Moreover, it is interesting that some Jewish Christ followers continued to identify themselves as ’ebyônîm or “poor ones” and despise the Apostle Paul in subsequent centuries, though the beliefs and practices of certain Ebionites as documented in Patristic literature may not be representative of the pre-70 CE Jerusalem Church.
I also want to call attention to the documentary A Polite Bribe, which has a particular spin on the biblical data but does interview quite a number of biblical scholars from across the religious spectrum. When the documentary was released, there were some blog reviews and discussions of the film (or the book) by James McGrath, Larry Hurtado, Mark Goodacre, Max Lee, Ben Witherington III, Mark M. Mattison, Bradford McCall, J. Goodrich, Philip J. Long and Richard Fellows and Gerd Luedemann uses the term “polite bribe” in a Bible and Interpretation article on the Jerusalem Collection. If I missed your post, send me an email so that I can include the link.