Finances in the Pauline churches : a social-exegetical study of the funding of Paul's mission and the financial administration of his congregations
Paul, like other apostles who adopted the so-called 'charismatic poverty, ' could have relied on his churches for the funding of his mission. He rejected such support and opted to work on a trade, a choice which ultimately rested on his conception of the gospel and the influence it had on his life. He gives three reasons for his actions: love for his converts, not to hinder the gospel, and his independence/freedom. This shows also an awareness of his social milieu. This thesis utilises 'models from the environment' to demonstrate that Paul extensively adopted, reshaped or modified the social conventions of his day, as need be. He conceived the gospel as received and interpreted within his social context, appreciating the good aspects of that social context. He accepted hospitality and benefaction only when it did not 'hinder the gospel' as he put it. Similarly, Paul expected the churches of his mission to run their local finances on these same principles, with the social conventions of hospitality, and benefaction featuring prominently. Such hospitality and benefaction were however understood in the light of the gospel message described as the 'law of Christ' (&vogoc XPLUTOO). His admonitions on work indicate that he expected his converts to follow his practice. Although he anticipated that out of love his converts would help one another, especially the poor, he did not by that expect that the poor would be lazy. For translocal finances, he expected that his reshaped, and modified form of patronage and benefaction would be adopted, taken in conjunction with the theological conception of giving as the grace of God bestowed for generosity.