Friday, 24 April 201
And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. 1 Corinthians 16:3
Over the years, translators have chosen one of two main ways of translating this verse. The first would be as the NKJV and others render it. The second would be such as the NIV and others render it. Side by side for comparison, they read:
1) And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. NKJV
2) When, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. NIV
The Greek could go either way, but the likely rendering is the second. The word “your” is inserted by translators in the NKJV because they have opted for the first view. Because of this, it could be misleading unless one knows that it is actually an inserted word.
At other times, Paul gave notes of recommendation concerning individuals (e.g. Romans 16:1), or he referred to letters of recommendation as a means of confirming authority or status (e.g. 2 Corinthians 3:1). He is the apostle with the authority concerning the matter, and it is his letter which would be received in the light which is needed for such a gift to the saints.
Therefore, Paul has asked those in Corinth to set aside money weekly. After his arrival, the money would be collected and counted. Those in Corinth would select men considered honorable and capable of taking the money to Jerusalem, and Paul would send a letter of introduction concerning the gift. This line of reasoning will become more obvious when the next verse is evaluated.
It could be that translators and scholars who hold the first view have been concerned that there is a letter written by Paul which had been lost and not included in the Bible. However, this is a non-starter. The Bible refers to other communications by writers of the Bible which are not included in its pages. Everything written by a prophet or apostle which is in the Bible is inspired and a part of the word of God, but not everything written by a prophet or apostle was inspired by God.
Finally, the word for “gift” here literally means “grace.” Such is the nature of a gift for ministering to others. Such gifts should be without compulsion and they should be without strings attached.
Life application: God has ensured that His word has everything necessary to guide us in our walk and instruct us in our theology. We have a reliable witness to His plan of redemption in the pages of the Bible.
Lord God, You have given me so much in this life of mine. Help me to be gracious in my giving to others as well. Give me a heart to never attach strings to a gift that I give, and also to never act out of a sense of compulsion either. Instead, may my heart be right towards You in whatever I give to others and in how I handle the many blessings which have come from Your open hand of grace. Amen.