Evening Bible Study
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
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
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
:1 superfluous – perissos –
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.
When we are in the season of Valentine’s Day (this Saturday!), don’t
confuse true love with only having nice feelings for someone.
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 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:
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
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.
: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.
(Romans 15:26 NKJV)
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.
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 generosity … grudging obligation
generous … generosity – eulogia
(“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
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)
41:1 NKJV) Blessed is he who considers the poor; The Lord will deliver him in time of
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.
Video: Gordon Gekko Greed is Good
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 sparingly – pheidomenos –
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)
 …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.  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.’
Alexander’s tutor taught him to use incense “sparingly” (our word in the
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 bountifully – eulogia (“good”
+ “words”) – praise; blessing, benefit
This is the same word translated “generous” and “generosity” in verse 5.
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
We need to learn to give “generously”.
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
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
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.
Are you working hard at working?
The Bible says
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
When God clearly prompts you to give, do you give?
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
Paul gives four principles for healthy giving.
as he purposes – proaireomai (“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
not grudgingly – lupe – 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 necessity – anagke – 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.
cheerful – hilaros (“hilarious”) – cheerful, joyous, prompt to do
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
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 grace – charis – grace
This is word we talked about last week as the main thread throughout both
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 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.
– Oliver Twist
One of the “good guy” stories of Victorian orphanages was a man named George
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.
: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
There is an eternal kind of blessing (righteousness) that comes with giving
: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
:11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes
thanksgiving through us 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,
: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,
:14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding
grace of God in you.
:14 grace – charis – God’s
One of the threads through the chapter
:12 thanksgivings – eucharistia
(“good” + “grace”) – thankfulness; the giving of thanks
Thanks to God
Doing good things ought to result in “thanks”
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
It can even result in “prayers” (vs. 14) when those who receive pray for
:15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
:15 Thanks – xaris – God’s
grace, His “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
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.