Who used the money in the early church?

Since Paul (1 Cor 16:2, Rom 15:28 cf. Acts 2:45) the idea of collecting money appears in many early Christian writings of the first centuries CE. Even if the cash flow may not have been very large compared to the whole Roman society, it is still worth noticing. One of the leading principles was to share the collected funds with those in need. The conventional view has seen the deacons as “dispensers of the Church’s charity” (J. Kelly 1963; J. Barnett 1995) and supposed that “the church created the office of deacon because of an ongoing need to administer charity” (J. Olson 2005). This paper analyses the role of deacons as administrators of charity and distributors of the church funds. Central texts (focus on the pre-Nicene era) will be analyzed and it will be argued that the widely agreed view about deacons’ role as caritative functionaries is not based on the primary sources. Rather, the concept of caritative deacons was created during the later reception of the NT texts. Besides the bishops all Christians, including the deacons, participated in the care of poor and needy. On the other hand, it is probable that besides the bishops, the deacons had access to the collected funds as well.