Original Research

The leadership challenges of Paul's collection for the saints in Jerusalem: Part I: Overcoming the obstacles on the side of the Gentile Christian donors

Christoph W. Stenschke
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 36, No 1 | a1406 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v36i1.1406 | © 2015 Christoph W. Stenschke | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 January 2015 | Published: 19 August 2015

About the author(s)

Christoph W. Stenschke, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa


In addition to many other activities, the Apostle Paul was involved in a large-scale fund raising project. Following a charge he once had received in Jerusalem to remember the poor (Gl 2:10), Paul tried to convince the predominantly Gentile Christian churches which he had founded to contribute to a collection for the impoverished Jewish Christians of Jerusalem. For the potential donors it was far from obvious that they should be involved in benefaction for people far away and unable to reciprocate to their would-be ‘patrons’, to name but one obstacle. Whilst Paul is best known as theologian, missionary and pastor, his collection project also indicates his determination and skills as an early Christian leader. In this quest, Paul combined a broad salvation historical perspective, skilful persuasion and rhetoric, the notions of honour and shame, exemplary transparency and other aspects. This article describes what obstacles Paul had to overcome on the side of the Gentile Christian donors, how he did so and how he proceeded in preparing and organising the actual collection, the transport of the funds to Jerusalem and its presentation in Jerusalem. In closing, the article suggests applications for today’s Christian leaders.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The article indicates that already in early Christianity Christian leadership involved the use of several skills and was controversial. Far from being able to simply demand a certain course of action, early Christian leaders such as Paul had to convince others to lead by their own example and had to be involved themselves in what they demanded of others. This challenges some contemporary notions of Christian leadership. Following the portrayal of Paul’s leadership as it emerges from his collection project will lead to more effective Christian leadership.


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