2 Corinthians 9:15


Monday, 2 November 2015

 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15

To end the chapter, and also the topic of the collection of the gift, Paul breaks into a sudden and emotional proclamation of thanksgiving. This is not at all unique to his writings as he elsewhere suddenly breaks forth in praise and thanks to God. It is as if Paul contemplated the words which he had penned and couldn’t restrain himself at certain points. And not only was it an internal expression, but one which he simply had to share with others as well.

The word for “thanks” is the same as the word elsewhere translated as “grace.” Even in the previous verse it is used this way. There it said, “…and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.” Scholars debate what this “grace” is intended to be. Is it the Holy Spirit? Is it Christ Jesus? The answer seems likely to be the same “grace” which he just mentioned. He turned the thought around from “the exceeding grace of God in you” into “thanks.”

If this is so, then it refers to the entire process of salvation which was initiated through their “confession to the gospel of Christ” which was mentioned in verse 13. Because of their salvation which came from this confession, and because of their obedience to it, all things were working out for a good and common goal among the saints. In other words, it all comes back to the work of Jesus Christ in them. He is the gift of God through which all other things find their right and proper place.

And this seems certain by the use of the word “indescribable.” The Greek word from which this is translated is used only here in the New Testament. It comes from two separate words. The first it a negative prefix and the second is a word which means “to declare.” In other words, there are simply no words which could fully express this gift. This is certainly the case concerning the Person and work of Christ. He is the indescribable Gift which is the basis of every other good thing which comes down from the Father of heavenly lights.

Life application: If you are in the mood to break out in praise or thanks to God, don’t hold it in. You might explode. Let it out!

Glorious God! I want to praise You and thank You for Your indescribable Gift, my Lord Jesus. Without Him, I would be forever separated from You. I would have no hope and no reason to exist. Life would be a vain pursuit which would terminate in an oblong box. But though I may end up there, it will only be a temporary place of rest until I am brought back for an eternal walk in Your presence. And all of it is because of the Gift of Jesus. Thanks be to You for this indescribable Gift! Amen.



2 Corinthians 9:14


Sunday, 1 November 2015

…and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.
2 Corinthians 9:14

The actual intent of Paul’s words here is debated over, but what is certain is that the Greek is confusing. Albert Barnes gives the following analysis –

“On the grammatical construction of this difficult verse, Doddridge and Bloomfield may be consulted. It is probably to be taken in connection with 2 Corinthians 9:12, and 2 Corinthians 9:13 is a parenthesis. Thus interpreted, the sense will be, ‘The administration of this service [2 Corinthians 9:12] will produce abundant thanks to God. It will also [2 Corinthians 9:14] produce another effect. It will tend to excite the prayers of the saints for you, and thus produce important benefits to yourselves. They will earnestly desire your welfare, they will anxiously pray to be united in Christian friendship with those who have been so signally endowed with the grace of God.'”

Because of the difficult nature of the Greek, this seems to be in line with what Paul was trying to say. He was taking these other verses and tying them together with the words of this verse. One way or another, an effect would be produced in the hearts of the people in Jerusalem towards the Gentile churches who had given the gift. They would come to understand that the Gentiles, like them, had received God’s exceeding grace. With this knowledge, they would then glorify God. This is actually what occurred as well, as is documented in Acts at the time that the gift was presented to them –

“And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord.” Acts 21:17-20

Life application: There are portions of Scripture which are complicated, but understanding or misunderstanding them is because of our limitations, not God’s. We need to take the Bible as a whole and allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. In doing so, there will always be a satisfactory explanation for that which is at first difficult to understand.

Lord God, help us to be pure in our intentions towards Your word. When we come to it, keep our hearts open to what You want us to see and not just what we want to see. You have given us instructions that are easily manipulated by teachers with personal agendas and which can then lead others down wrong paths. Keep us from this Lord. Instead, help us to revere Your word and to accept it in context and with the understanding that it is our guide to right living and a right relationship with You. Amen.



2 Corinthians 9:13


Saturday, 31 October 2015

…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, 2 Corinthians 9:13

This verse is widely translated and debated over. Charles Ellicott notes that its construction is that “of a participle which has no direct grammatical connection with what precedes.” It is a stand-alone thought. The words “through the proof of this ministry” are not clear concerning what is being referred to. Is it the service that is being provided or is it referring to the people who render the service?

Either way, the result is that the Jewish believers who will receive the gift will “glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ.” They will see that the message of Christ has led to the Gentiles faith in Christ. In turn, they will understand that the message didn’t just go into the ears and out again, but it sank down into their hearts, resulting in obedience to the teachings of the Lord.

This obedience is evidenced, as noted above, either in the gift which is made or in the willing hearts of those who gave the gift. In the end, they together form into a whole ministry which results in their “liberal sharing with them and all men.”

Paul is making it clear that what is being evidenced is a willingness to be obedient to the precepts that come along with receiving the gospel. Further, their status as Gentiles does not affect their ability to truly commune with the Jewish believers they are ministering to. Instead, “…there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him” (Romans 10:12).

Life application: Though there are many cultures on the earth with many different traditions and ways of worshipping the Lord, if they are Christians, they are a part of the body and on an equal footing with all others. It is unrealistic to think that our personal form of worship is the only way to honor the Lord. Instead, He has called people out from all places in order to worship Him in spirit and in truth. The externals are far less important than what is going on inside the heart.

Lord Jesus, from time to time I see different people worshipping You in ways or in settings that are completely unfamiliar to me. Instead of thinking that they are doing it wrongly, I rejoice that You have accepted them as they are. Their heritage, culture, and upbringing have made them who they are and You have accepted them in just that way. How marvelous it is to see the nations rejoice in You in a multitude of wonderful ways. I can’t wait for the day when we are all gathered together in Your presence to praise You as one, and yet just as we are! Amen.


2 Corinthians 9:12


Friday, 30 October 2015

For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 2 Corinthians 9:12

Paul, in describing the gift which is being gathered, had just mentioned that it is one “which causes thanksgiving through us to God.” To explain this further, he says, “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints.” In this, he uses the word leitourgia which is translated as “service.” It is the basis for our word “liturgy.”

In this sense, the giving of the gift is not just to be considered a beneficent act of humanity, but one of religious significance. This is evident from the second half of the verse. In supplying the desperate needs of the saints, the gift “also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God.” Thus this verse is a fuller explanation of the words of the previous verse.

Another word to consider is translated as “supplies.” Vincent’s Word Studies explains the meaning of the word prosanapléroó

“Lit., fills up by adding to. … Supplementing what the saints lack. Through many thanksgivings. The need of the poor is filled, like an empty vessel, to the brim, and the supply overflows in the thanksgiving which it calls out. Thus Christian beneficence does a double work, in giving relief and in generating thankfulness.”

The “double work” of Christian giving here is 1) taking care of the desperate needs of the saints in Jerusalem, while 2) producing many thanksgivings to God. As can be seen from this, there is a marked difference between the giving of believers and that of non-believers. God is glorified through such giving when it is done by His faithful people.

Life application: God is deserving of all praise and glory for the wonderful blessings He provides among His people. James says that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” As this is so, let us remember to give Him the thanks that He is due. It is right and proper to do so.

Lord God, Your word tells us that every perfect gift is from above. Help us then to see Your hand in the perfect gifts we receive and to return thanks to You for them. Something as simple as a perfectly placed flower on the side of the path of life may be just what we need to lighten our burdens. If that does it, then help us to remember to thank You for providing the flower for our comfort. May our praise never be lacking in the good gifts You supply. Amen.



2 Corinthians 9:11


Thursday, 29 October 2015

…while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11

These words are connected in thought to the previous verse. Taken together, they read –

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

Paul noted the multiplication of the seed in order to “increase the fruits of your righteousness.” This meant that what they earned would be sufficient to be spread out to others in the doing of good deeds. In addition to that, he now adds in that not only should others prosper from their sowing, but that they should likewise be “enriched in everything.” It is looking to an increase for them as well.

However, the increase to them again has the purpose of “all liberality.” As they increase, they should become all the more charitable in their giving. The idea is that it is God who blesses and the blessings that we are given are not to be secreted away with no useful purpose in mind. Rather, they are to be shared so that others may be blessed as well.

Paul certainly has the recipients of the intended gift in mind. The saints in Jerusalem were in need and in the Corinthian’s abundance there was a chance to help that need. In this, it would cause “thanksgiving through us to God.” God is glorified through the thanks of those who receive such assistance. In the end, it all came from Him and so praise and thanks should always be directed to Him for what He does for His people.

These verses obviously have to be considered in light of the human condition. There are those who have come on hard times. When this occurs, we should be willing to tend to them and help them out. This is the case with the saints in Jerusalem. There are also those who are simply unwilling to get up and help themselves.

It would be contradictory to think that someone who is unwilling to work should constantly receive what others have worked for. The premise here is that God blesses us to bless others. If God blesses someone through our efforts, then that person should realize where their blessing has come from and endeavor to follow in the same path. However, if they are lazy and unwilling to put forth their own effort, then they cannot be who the Lord is speaking of here.

These verses simply cannot be used to justify wealth redistribution to the indolent and worthless. They need to change their lifestyle, or they need to continue to wallow in the mud which they are unwilling to leave.

Life application: Today, think of someone who has fallen on hard times and think about how you can bless them in their need. Let them know that they are not alone in their trials, but that you are there with them. Such encouragement may be just what they need during their moment of darkness.

Lord God, it is a tough world and there are a lot of folks who are facing great need. Help me to recognize their need and to help them out in a way which will let them know that they are not alone in their trial. Whether through a gift, a word of encouragement, or a prayer with them, help me to be one who is willing to be with them in the dark valley and who will stay with them until they again reach the mountaintop. Amen.