Question & Answer Forum

Is the collection a part of the worship at the breaking of bread?

The context of Hebrews 13:13-17, including confessing “His name” (v. 15, JND), is the assembly (Matthew 18:20). “To communicate” (verse 16) is the same word translated “a certain contribution for the poor saints” (Romans 15:26) and is closely related to “no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving” (Philippians 4:15). Therefore, Hebrews 13 links offering “the sacrifice of praise” (verse 15) and sacrifices of our finances (verse 16). Offering sacrifices is priestly and those who brought their sacrifices are called worshipers (Hebrews 10:1, 2). Therefore when holy priests offer up spiritual sacrifices (1 Peter 2:5), they are worshiping. This is equally true of audible and inaudible expressions and of financial offerings.

D. Oliver


Do the Scriptures guide only the husband to contribute financially at the Lord’s supper?

I Corinthians 16:2 teaches that “every one of you” (“each of you,” JND) should set aside funds on the first day of the week. Although a couple’s resources are one, is she not as much a priest as her husband? Husbands are not priests who offer on behalf of their wife or family; the males offer on behalf of the assembly. Is it not a fitting testimony to the wife’s priesthood that she should offer her financial sacrifice in the assembly? Does he partake of the emblems on her behalf, or does she remember the Lord individually? Is a believing couple received into the assembly as a couple or as individuals? Sapphira did not die (Acts 5:10) because she was one with Ananias in marriage, but because she was one with him in tempting the Spirit of the Lord (verse 9). In an assembly, we stand before the Lord as individuals.

D. Oliver


We often hear ministry warning against television, but isn’t the Internet worse?

The Internet’s pollution is both worse and constantly available; however, its email service and volumes of information can be spiritually and educationally helpful. This highlights an important difference. We could hardly watch the news coverage, commercials, and programming of television without being bombarded by its unbiblical values, but we can use the Internet without accessing its corruption. One alternative for believers is that some software and some Internet providers limit access to the Internet’s defilement; nevertheless, computers in the work place and in public libraries still provide full Internet access. In an increasingly immoral world, we must, as never before, teach and motivate one another and our children to make right choices, avoiding the serious consequences of choosing otherwise. We can “use,” but not “abuse” (1 Corinthians 7:31) the Internet, a choice that hardly exists with television.

D. Oliver


Does Ecclesiastes 3:21 teach that animals have spirits?

Ecclesiastes is inspired, but records the thoughts of men “under the sun,” ideas derived without the benefit of divine revelation. For instance, “the earth abideth for ever” (1:4) is deemed true only when the scriptures are ignored. We cannot, therefore, base doctrine on the statements of Ecclesiastes. Furthermore, the varied translations of this verse, “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” leave some questions as to its meaning. These statements may be merely what was commonly accepted in Solomon’s day. Five of the first six times “living soul” is used in Genesis 1 and 2, it refers to animals (“living creatures,” 1:20, 21, 24, 30; 2:19; see also Job 12:10). What distinguishes men, though, is that the Lord God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (2:7) Adam was formed uniquely by God, Who is spirit and directly “breathed” life into him. God’s creative purpose was to make man capable of relating to Himself (1:26; 3:8). This requires that man be a spirit being, for “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit…” (John 4:24). The creation, until what is introduced in Genesis 2:7, was material. This indicates that animals are totally material, their body and soul being no different. The soul gives individuality; for man, that involves a spiritual and eternal identity, but only a material and temporal identity for animals. Paul’s statement that our bodies – without our soul and spirit – are “soulish” (literally “natural,” I Corinthians 15:44) may support this.

As to an animal’s “spirit,” the word is often translated “breath.” Its context determines its meaning. “The breath of life” is used of both man (Genesis 2:7) and animals (6:17; 7:15, 22), but the first is from God and is therefore spiritual, imparting life; the second is physical, indicating what has breathe and is therefore living. This is likely the best way to understand any thought of “spirit” in the animal creation.

D. Oliver