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2Corinthians 9

Thursday Evening Bible Study

February 12, 2015


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Target 3300 words

Paul had spent nearly three years in Ephesus, during which he wrote his first letter to the Corinthians.

Paul’s stay in Ephesus ended abruptly when a riot broke out in the city because of how the Christian revival was affecting the business of those who made idols.

After the riot, Paul headed up north to Macedonia.

The year is AD 56, almost a year after Paul had written his first letter to the Corinthians.

Starting in chapter 8, Paul began a section about money. Jerusalem has been going through great financial hardship, and Paul has been collecting funds from all the churches he’s started, intending to take the money and bring it to the believers in Jerusalem.

9:1-5 Preparing the gift

:1 Now concerning the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you;

:2 for I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority.

:1 ministeringdiakonia – service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the commands of others

Paul is calling the collection of funds for needy people a “ministry”, or a way of “serving”.

:1 superfluousperissos – more than is necessary

Paul is saying that it’s really not necessary for him to be reminding them about giving to the folks in Jerusalem because he knows they are already concerned about it.


Practical Loving

When we are in the season of Valentine’s Day (this Saturday!), don’t confuse true love with only having nice feelings for someone.
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Love is about doing things.
Paul doesn’t really have to tell the Corinthians what to do when it comes to giving because they already “get it”.

:2 willingnessprothumia (“toward” + “passion”) – zeal, spirit, eagerness; inclination, readiness of mind

:2 Achaia was ready a year ago

Achaia is the area of southern Greece, and Corinth was its capitol.

The Corinthians had begun to think about giving a year earlier when Paul wrote his first letter to them:

(1 Corinthians 16:1–3 NKJV) —1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. 3 And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem.

We saw last week that the churches in Macedonia were not well off financially, yet they were more than willing to give sacrificially to help the saints in Jerusalem.

(2 Corinthians 8:2 NKJV) that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.

Now we find out one of the ways the Macedonians were motivated.

Paul had been boasting to Macedonians that Achaia (the Corinthians) had been ready with their gift for the last year.

Paul had been using the Corinthians’ passion for this ministry to stir up all the other churches.

:3 Yet I have sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this respect, that, as I said, you may be ready;

:4 lest if some Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to mention you!) should be ashamed of this confident boasting.

:4 if some Macedonians come with me

Did any Macedonians come with Paul to Corinth?

It’s very likely.
Sopater (Berea), Aristarchus and Secundus (Thessalonica) were of Macedonia, and were traveling with Paul around that time (Acts 20:1-5), though we don’t know if they specifically made the trip to Corinth.
(Acts 20:1–5 NKJV) —1 After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia. 2 Now when he had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece 3 and stayed three months. And when the Jews plotted against him as he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. 4 And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia—also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. 5 These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas.

:4 lest … we … you … should be ashamed

Were the Corinthians eventually embarrassed, or did they come through with their promised giving?

When Paul stopped in Corinth, he stopped long enough to write a little letter to the Romans.
He recorded,
(Romans 15:26 NKJV) For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.

The Corinthians came through.


Motivating others

I’m not sure that there aren’t going to be times when we need to twist a few arms to motivate people.
We certainly need to be careful about our motivation when we are doing it.
Paul is twisting the Corinthians’ arms.
He talks about how he’s been boasting about their intentions to give.
He warns them that if they aren’t ready, they might be “ashamed” if some of the Macedonians show up and find out that they aren’t all that generous.
And it worked.

:5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.

:5 ahead of time … beforehand … previously promised

Paul uses an abundance of verbs here that have the preposition “before” (pro) tacked on the front.

Lit. - “So I thought it necessary to encourage the brethren that they would go before to you and arrange beforehand your before-promised gift...”
Paul’s trying to get the point across that they’re late with the gift. He’s rubbing it in their face.
I also think it important to think here how Paul wanted the collection all taken care of before he got there. I don’t think it’s the pastor’s place to stand and watch over the people to make sure they give enough.

:5 generosity … grudging obligation

generous … generosityeulogia (“good” + “words”) – praise; blessing, benefit

grudging obligation pleonexia – greedy desire to have more, covetousness


Blessing or Greed

Those are the two choices we face when God places before us an opportunity to give.
Note: There are also opportunities to give that God has not placed before us. There are going to be times when someone is asking for money, and it is NOT something God wants us to be a part of.
I’m not sure God wants us to enable someone with an addiction who is begging for money only so they can continue in their habit.
But when there is truly something that God places before us, we are faced with two different approaches to the money in our pocket.
It can be an opportunity to bring a blessing (generosity)

(Proverbs 19:17 NKJV) He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, And He will pay back what he has given.

(Psalm 41:1 NKJV) Blessed is he who considers the poor; The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.

It can also be something that displays to us our inner greed.

In other words, the only real reason we won’t give is because we are greedy about our money.

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Greed is NOT good.

Greed is all about “me”.  God wants us to be focused on others.

9:6-15 Cheerful giving

:6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

:6 who sowsspeiro – to sow, scatter, seed

:6 sparinglypheidomenos – sparingly

This Greek word is only found in the New Testament in this verse, but it was also used by the historian Plutarch when he described Alexander the Great’s defeat of the city of Gaza in 332 BC. (Alexander, 25:5)

[4] …Moreover, as he was dispatching great quantities of the spoils home to Olympias and Cleopatra and his friends, he sent also to Leonidas his tutor five hundred talents’ weight of frankincense and a hundred of myrrh, in remembrance of the hope with which that teacher had inspired his boyhood. [5] It would seem, namely, that Leonidas, as Alexander was one day sacrificing and taking incense with both hands to throw upon the altar-fire, said to him:— (TURN) ‘Alexander, when thou hast conquered the spice-bearing regions thou canst be thus lavish with thine incense; now, however, use sparingly what thou hast.’ Accordingly, Alexander now wrote him: ‘I have sent thee myrrh and frankincense in abundance, that thou mayest stop dealing parsimoniously with the gods.’[1]
Alexander’s tutor taught him to use incense “sparingly” (our word in the text).
Alexander now told his tutor he didn’t need to be “parsimonious” (frugal or stingy) … the word he uses literally means “small-words”.
Burning incense is tied to prayers, and offering incense “sparingly” also carries the idea of praying very little.
Alexander was telling his tutor he could start praying more now that he had lots of incense.

Why bring this all up?  Because the word related to giving, “sparingly”, has a spiritual history related to worship and prayer.  You’ll see the word “bountifully” does as well.

:6 reaptherizo – to reap, harvest

:6 bountifullyeulogia (“good” + “words”) – praise; blessing, benefit

This is the same word translated “generous” and “generosity” in verse 5.

The preposition “epi” also precedes this word each time in the verse, and can translated “upon, on, at, over”


How to sow

Paul is talking about the attitude we have when we “sow” or “give”.
In context, Paul is talking about giving to help the needs of others.
Giving is like “sowing” seed in a field.

If you only sow a few seeds, then your harvest will not be very large.

We need to learn to give “generously”.

Video: Values - Generosity
And though we could very well translate eulogia as “bountiful” or “generous”, it does have the idea of “blessing” at its root.
If you sow with “blessing”, then you will reap with “blessing”.

If you give with “blessing”, then you will receive with “blessing”.

If your giving is accompanied in a spiritual sense of “blessing” others, then you will find yourself being blessed in the process.


How to reap

There is a connection between how much you “sow” (give) and how much you “reap” (receive).
When we are giving properly, as God is leading us to give, then the more we sow, the more we reap.
If you are constantly struggling financially, there are several things you need to be looking at.
Hard work

Are you working hard at working?

The Bible says

(2 Thessalonians 3:10 NKJV) For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.


Perhaps you have a hard time saying “no” to buying too much of the wrong things. If you have the income of a factory worker, but you spend like a CEO, you’re going to have a problem.


There may be times when God allows us to go through lean financial times to teach us to trust Him.


Do you give?

I’m not talking about giving more than you are able to give.

When God clearly prompts you to give, do you give?

I know some churches have a policy when people come and ask for financial assistance, to check the tithe records and see if the person has contributed to the church. They will only help those who are givers. This may hit you funny, but the idea is to weed out the people who are just there to get an easy check without working like the rest of us do.

:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

:7 So let each one give


Giving guidelines

Paul gives four principles for healthy giving.
1. Purposeful
as he purposesproaireomai (“before” + “to choose”) – to bring forward, bring forth from one’s stores

It means to decide beforehand.

It’s about making up your mind about what you’re going to give, on your own.

It’s about giving what YOU decide to give, not what somebody else tells you to give.

It’s about giving of your own freewill.

You need to decide ahead of time how much you are going to give.

2. Griefless
not grudginglylupe – sorrow, pain, grief, annoyance, affliction

Giving should not be done out of “grief”, or because someone is annoying you to death.

Giving should not be done because you want the person with the hand out to go away.

3. No pressure
of necessityanagke – necessity, imposed either by the circumstances, or by law of duty

Giving should not be done solely because the person is stressing to you how “necessary” it is that you give to them.

They may not be aware of what is truly “necessary”.

Keep in mind, it’s not wrong for someone to let you know of their needs – Paul is letting the churches now about the needs in Jerusalem.

But he’s being careful about how much pressure or “compulsion” he’s putting on them.

From time to time, you will hear folks on TV telling you that it is “necessary” for you to give or their ministry will have to stop.

If that were even true (it may not be), there is the possibility that God might want their ministry to stop.

Be careful about arm twisting.

4. Cheerful
cheerfulhilaros (“hilarious”) – cheerful, joyous, prompt to do anything

It’s the opposite of grumbling.

In Greek, you can get a sense of “emphasis” based on the order of words in a sentence. If the writer wants you to “emphasize” a particular word in a sentence, that word will be first in the sentence.

This is the first word in the phrase, this is the most important word.

It’s the “cheerful” giver that God loves.

:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

:8 abledunatos – to be able, have strength, to have power

:8 gracecharis – grace

This is word we talked about last week as the main thread throughout both chapters.

It is not only the word for “grace”, but it is also the word for “gift”.

When we learn to “give” or “grace” others, God is able to make all “grace” or “gifts” overflow to us so we can continue to have enough to do every good work that God has for us.

:8 to … aboundperisseuo – to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure; to make to abound

:8 sufficiencyautarkeia (“self” + “to be enough”) – a perfect condition of life in which no aid or support is needed

:8 have an abundanceperisseuo – to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure; to make to abound

:8 may have an abundance for every good work


The grace conduit

God is the one that has EVERYTHING we need. He has “grace” for everything.
And sometimes the way God wants to get His “grace” to others is through us, as a sort of pipeline.
When we learn to give or “grace” others according to God’s leading, God promises to keep giving us everything we need to keep “gracing” others.
We are all familiar with stories of Victorian England and the orphanages.

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One of the “good guy” stories of Victorian orphanages was a man named George Mueller.
R.A. Torrey writes,

“What he received from God never stuck to his fingers; he immediately passed it on to others. He was constantly receiving because he was constantly giving.” (R.A. Torry, How to Pray, pg.73)

George Mueller in his lifetime (1805-1898) founded several orphanages in England. In his lifetime he handled over $8 million, yet when he died, his own worldly possessions were valued at just about $800 at his death.
Also notice that if we do this “giving” thing right …
Paul says we will have “all sufficiency” in all things.
But we will have an “abundance” (not just sufficiency) for every good work.

Mueller writes himself about God’s faithfulness to answer his prayers: (Answers to Prayer, pg.98-99)

“1. Should anyone suppose, on account of its having been stated in the previous pages that we were repeatedly brought low as to means, that the Orphans have not had all that was needful for them; we reply that never, since the work has been in existence, has there a mealtime come, but the Orphans have had good nourishing food in sufficient quantity: and never have they needed clothes, but I have had the means to provide them with all they required.

“2. Never since the Orphan work has been in existence have I asked one single human being for any help for this work; and yet, unasked for, simply in answer to prayer, from so many parts of the world, as has been stated, the donations have come in, and that very frequently at a time of the greatest need.”

The people of Macedonia knew this. Paul would write to the Macedonian church of Philippi about four years from now…
(Philippians 4:10–19 NKJV) —10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

God would supply their needs.

But they were the original givers.

:9 As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”

:9 His righteousness endures forever

Paul is quoting from Psalm 112:9, which is talking about the good guy, the “righteous man”.

(Psalm 112:9 NKJV) He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted with honor.

There is an eternal kind of blessing (righteousness) that comes with giving to others.

:9 dispersed abroadskorpizo – to scatter; of those who, routed or terror stricken or driven by some other impulses, fly in every direction; to scatter abroad (what others may collect for themselves), or one dispensing blessings liberally

:10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,

:10 suppliesepichoregeo – to supply, furnish, present

:10 multiplyplethuno – to increase, to multiply

:10 increaseauxano – to cause to grow, augment; to increase, become greater

:10 the fruitsgennema – that which has been born or begotten; the offspring or progeny of men or animals; the fruits of the earth, the produce of agriculture

:11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.

:10 the fruits of your righteousness

Being right with God (“righteousness”) produces something in our lives.

For the Corinthians, part of that fruit involved their giving.

:11 enrichedploutizo – to make rich, enrich

:11 liberalityhaplotes – singleness, simplicity, sincerity; not self-seeking, openness of heart manifesting itself by generosity

:11 thanksgivingeucharistia – thankfulness; the giving of thanks

:10-11 may He … supply and multiply … thanksgiving

Paul is praying a blessing on the Corinthians, that God would bless and multiply all they are giving, that He would meet all their needs and help them to continue to be generous, because all of this causes Paul and his team to give much thanks to God.

:12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God,

:12 administrationdiakonia – service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the commands of others

:12 serviceleitourgia (“liturgy”) – a service or ministry of the priests relative to the prayers and sacrifices offered to God

This is a word that is used to describe the duties of a priest in the Temple. This is how the priests “served” God.

The giving of funds to the saints in Jerusalem was like a priest serving God in the Temple.

:13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men,

:13 proofdokime – proving, trial; a proof, a specimen of tried worth

:13 ministrydiakonia – service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the commands of others

:13 the obediencehupotage – the act of subjecting; obedience, subjection

:13 confessionhomologia – profession; objectively: profession [confession] i.e. what one professes [confesses]

:13 liberalhaplotes – singleness, simplicity, sincerity; not self seeking, openness of heart manifesting itself by generousity

:13 sharingkoinonia – fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse

Paul used this word back in chapter 8

(2 Corinthians 8:4 NKJV) imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

Here, the Corinthians “fellowship” with the folks in Jerusalem meant that they gave to their needs.

Fellowship can go way beyond eating cookies together after a Bible Study.

:14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.

:14 prayerdeesis – need, indigence, want, privation, penury; a seeking, asking, entreating, entreaty to God or to man

This is not just general “prayer”, but specifically prayer for needs.

The church in Jerusalem was praying for the needs of the saints in Corinth.

:14 who long forepipotheo – to long for, desire; to pursue with love, to long after

:14 the exceedinghuperballo – to surpass in throwing, to throw over or beyond anything; to transcend, surpass, exceed, excel; excelling, exceeding

:14 gracecharis – God’s grace

One of the threads through the chapter

:12 thanksgivingseucharistia (“good” + “grace”) – thankfulness; the giving of thanks


Thanks to God

Doing good things ought to result in “thanks”
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Our goal goes one step further, to bring “thanksgiving” to God.
The thanks here would not just be from Paul, but from the saints in Jerusalem.
It can even result in “prayers” (vs. 14) when those who receive pray for you.
In an article on China in Eternity Magazine, the writer records a story of Christian love and kindness. “A Chinese cook was put into prison one night. It was bitterly cold. About 26 degrees below zero. He had on his padded clothes and a big fur coat. But a heathen man who was later thrown in with him had no wraps at all. The Christian man began to pray that God would get him out of prison. While he was praying, it seemed God spoke to him. ‘I won’t hear your prayer until you’ve taken off your fur coat and given it to this man who had none.’ ‘But if I do that, I’ll be frozen to death by morning,’ the man thought. ‘Well, if you don’t,’ he seemed to hear God’s reply, ‘this man will be dead before morning.’ So he took off his fur coat and gave it to the man and his life was saved. Later on at a Christian gathering in Communist China, the heathen man who had received the coat got up and gave his testimony. “I am here today because a man shared his coat with me in prison.”

:15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

:15 Thanksxaris – God’s grace, His “gift”

:15 indescribableanekdiegetos – the unspeakable, indescribable

:15 giftdorea – a gift

:15 His indescribable gift


Circle of Grace

All grace, all gifts, come from God.
As we learn to give properly, it results in people giving thanks (grace) back to God.
When we give, our goal ought to be to see people turn to God.
When others give to us, we ought to be turning to God and giving thanks.
And above all, God is the original “giver”.
(John 3:16 NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Look back at Paul’s guidelines for giving (2Cor. 9:6) and overlay them on God’s gift to us.

God’s gift was purposeful

He decided beforehand that He would give His Son.

God’s gift was griefless

God didn’t send His Son because we were causing Him so much grief.  He did it because He loved us.

God gave without pressure

God indeed gave because He saw our great need, not because we demanded it.

God gave cheerfully

God was glad to give everything for us.

[1] Plutarch. (1919). Plutarch’s Lives. (B. Perrin, Ed.). Medford, MA: Harvard University Press.