“Some brethren have argued that the church is authorized to help church members and their dependents out of the church treasury, but no others. They reason that many times do we read of the church aiding and assisting “saints,” “disciples,” “brethren” (see Acts 6:1-3; Acts 11:27-29; Romans 15:25; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:1-4; 2 Corinthians 9:1; 1 Timothy 5:3-16; James 2:15-16); however, it is claimed that never do we see an example of the church relieving the non-Christian.
First order of business, where is the consistency? G. K. Wallace remarked, “If it is true that no contribution was made out of the treasury in the New Testament times except to poor saints, it is also true that no contribution was made into the treasury except for poor saints (article – The Church Budget, Gospel Advocate, Jan. 11, 1962). Isn’t it strange that some have no difficulty using money for so many other things out of the treasury? Again, Wallace remarks, “So, if money was put in for the poor saints, certainly, it was taken out for the poor saints. If you want some money in the treasury for the janitor, put some in for the janitor. If you want some money in the treasury to buy fertilizer to put on the lawn, put it in the treasury for that purpose. It always seemed strange to me that brethren could put money into the treasury and take it out to buy a load of fertilizer to put on the lawn, but could not take it out to buy a loaf of bread for a starving baby” (ibid). Some seem to have no difficulty at all using money out of the church treasury for all kinds of things for which there is no Biblical example.
Let us remind ourselves just here that there is a great difference between saying no example and saying no authority. Roy Cogdill recognized this, writing, “Sometimes it is argued that this is the plan (1 Corinthians 16:1-2, B.H.) for raising money only for benevolence in the church. It remains, however, that divine wisdom led Paul to give this plan to Corinth for raising money, and good reasoning will convince one that if it will work in raising money for one righteous cause, it will work for another and for all” (The New Testament church page 105 -106).
Next, is it true that there is no example of the church aiding non-Christians? Read 2 Corinthians 9:13. It speaks of liberal distribution made unto “them” and unto “all.” The “them” clearly refers to the poor saints in Jerusalem. But, to whom does the “all” refer?
Those who hold to the “saints only” position believe that the “all” refers to all other saints in contrast with the saints in need in Jerusalem. Just as the Calvinist limits pantos (translated “every man”) in Hebrews 2:9, even so those who hold to the “saints only” position limit the pantas (translated “all men”) in 2 Corinthians 9:13.
I see no good reason to so limit the wording. (1) Watch the fact that the term “all” is not qualified in any way. (2) Watch the fact that nothing in the immediate context so limit’s the word. (3) Consider how the unqualified “all” is commonly used elsewhere in scripture: (a) 1 Thessalonians 3:12, “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all, even as we do toward you.” Does “all” mean just other Christians elsewhere? Or, does it mean just what it says – “all”? (b) 1 Thessalonians 5:15, “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both among yourselves, and for all.” Does “all” include the non-Christian here? (c) Galatians 6:10, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Clearly, the “all” here is placed in contrast and distinction with “the household of faith.” The reference is to non-Christians. (d) 1 Timothy 4:10, “…we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. ” Notice that “all” is contrasted with those who believe. It seems to me for anyone to limit the “all” of 2 Corinthians 9:13 there better be a reason which demands such. I see no such demanding reason.
I do believe that our first responsibility is toward the household of faith. However, I see no good reason to deny that the “all” includes the non-Christian.
A parting shot – Matthew 5:46-48 reads, “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Yes, I know that this is written concerning the individual. I understand the point is that we should be kind and loving toward all. However, if the church only shows benevolence towards her own, does such not put her in the same category as the tax collectors? Many denominations do more than this.