Lynn Cohick describes one practical outworking of the unity of the early church.
Paul was very concerned that Christians, if you will, put their money where their mouth is. And he especially was interested in the unity of the church – all of his churches, from all of the cities that he was a part of. And he realised that there is just something about giving aid to another church that’s in need that really brings unity. And so for example, to the Corinthians, he spends a couple of chapters talking to them – this is in his second letter – and he talks to them about fulfilling their promises. They promised that they would help the Jewish Christians who were in Judea, and who were struggling, and Paul says to them: now’s your moment. Step up. Give what you promised. And at some point, perhaps those Jews in Judea, when they have extra and you need help, they’ll give to you.
The other bit about this, though, is that it’s not just that they’re two groups helping each other. There’s also an ethnic component to this ethical charge. You see, the Gentiles and the Jews didn’t always get along in the various cities. There was tension, at times. And so Paul is really pushing the Gentiles in Corinth to say, do you really believe that you are united in Christ, one to another? And if you really believe that, then you’re going to help your brothers and sisters – be they Jews, be they poor, be they whatever, you’re going to help them, and you’re going to do it with your hard-earned money.