God’s Church shall grow and mature because it is His will and pleasure that it does. What He decreed before creation shall come to pass. All those He chose before creation to be holy and blameless in His sight shall be saved. (Ephesians 1:4). Having fulfilled their duties and discipling of the converts in Antioch, we read:
Ac 12:25 When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.
This included taking the monetary gift with them.
1) A translation problem? The phrase “they returned from Jerusalem” is translated as “they returned to Jerusalem” in some Bibles.
(a) Remember Barnabas went to Tarsus to find Saul to help him minister to the Greek converts in Antioch?
Ac 11:26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
Then you will recall the Church in Antioch collected for the believers in the Mother Church in Jerusalem (brothers living in Judea).
Ac 11:29 The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
They left Antioch to return to Jerusalem. As said … some Bibles translate it, “to” Jerusalem and others, “from” Jerusalem. Taking the above verses into consideration, it is possible that “to” is the better translation.
(b) On the other hand … When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission … might mean after they had been in Jerusalem and handed over the gift, they … had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem. This is an option because as we start chapter 13, we find:
Ac 13:1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul
Both Barnabas and Saul are mentioned being in Antioch! In other words they might have been to Jerusalem and had returned … after they had finished their mission. This is not a doctrinal nor theological issue, just a matter of translation, depending on how one reads the original. I point this out so that should you be confused when reading chapter 12:25, you can consider both possibilities. As said, no doctrine or theology is affected whichever way one decides.
2) Taking an assistant along. Barnabas and Saul took John Mark back to Jerusalem with them. He was Barnabas’ cousin, but he was also a helpful member of the ministry team. Barnabas had a keen eye for who could help them minister the Gospel. We saw this when he chose Saul. We see him again later in Acts in a dispute with Paul (Saul) over the same man, John Mark. We need people like this with discernment. Often we chose people for a ministry team only to find that they are not suitable for the position we had employed them for (full time – paid) or appointed them to (part time – volunteers). Having people who are able to discern the “fit” is vital to prevent disappointment and negative vibes in Gospel Ministry. The enemy is always seeking to destroy and this is one area that he could be effective. Our part as Church Members is to pray, presenting our needs to God and asking for the right fit … the right person to do the task at hand.
3) Church finances need credible and reliable people to administer it. The Antioch Church sent their gift to the elders in Jerusalem .
Ac 11:30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
(1) The transport of the money needed to be with solid Gospel men. In this case it was with Barnabas and Saul.
(2) The money was to, and received by the elders in Jerusalem. It is so important that both the money and those involved, be cared for properly.
Too often, one person might count the income or the treasurer might have sole authority over the finances. In some cases this is the only way, but as a norm, every money counter or treasurer needs someone to help them for their personal protection. We want to trust those appointed, but we also need to protect them. When one person is responsible for managing the Church’s money, someone could easily accuse that person of bad management or wrong doing. Such accusations in most cases will be wrong, but the damage done to the person working with the money is of such a magnitude that their credibility and character are ruined. This is another area for prayer.
As a pastor, I was blessed to have treasurers who had their own resources … meaning that the Church’s money was never a temptation. The same was true of the person counting the money. Not every Church has this blessing. If your Church has only one person … and if you are a mature believer … offer your assistance to help the person do the task, as well as to protect their credibility!
Perhaps another matter to consider is that your pastor ought never to work with money. Yes, he has an important say when drawing up a budget and yes, he needs to have a facility to purchase the day to day requirements of the Church should the Church be smaller and only have him as an employee. But, you need to protect him from both temptation as well as worrying about both managing the money and about where the money will be coming from—or, if the money is not there, who gets paid and who does not.
Many a good pastor has failed because he was forced to work the money. Protect your pastor! His main work is spiritual. His primary task is to pray and study the Word to craft good expositions from the scriptures. If he fails here he fails. His secondary task is to shepherd the flock through visitation and counseling. Third on the list would be some admin work … but largely (some would say exclusively), his work is spiritual. When he digs into work not part of his Biblical mandate he will not be spiritual because he will lack seeking God’s face for an understanding of the Scriptures and not seek God’s face for how to help his flock.
Dear God, graciously raise up credible workers to manage to finances of our Churches. At the same time please protect pastors to fulfil their Gospel calling. Amen.