2 Corinthians 9:5


Friday, 23 October 2015

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. 2 Corinthians 9:5

In this verse, Paul uses the idea of “before” three times – “go to you ahead of time;” “your generous gift beforehand;” and “previously promised.” This triple repetition demonstrates that he was considerably involved in this process in order to avoid any hint that he had embellished his words to the Macedonians, or that he could not trust the previous promises of the Corinthians. His intent was to have everything ready before those from Macedonia arrived. Should they find things were not as promised, everyone involved in the process would have some sort of bad feelings towards the collection of this gift.

For this reason, Paul “thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time.” Actually, Titus was more than willing to go, even eager. But Paul also wanted the others to go with him to ensure that everything was handled in a proper manner. This is obviously a large gift and so more than one delegate was proper.

His sending of them then was to “prepare your generous gift beforehand.” As noted, having it ready before his arrival with the Macedonians was of the highest importance to him. His stress in this verse cannot be underestimated, especially with the next words “which you had previously promised.” They had spoken in promise and Paul was reminding them of this. If this were not true, then he could not have written that they had promised. And so his words are a reminder to them of this.

Having said that, the reminder is necessary because of his final words which say, “…that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.” Should he arrive and the gift not be ready, he could rightly state in front of all of the visiting guests, “You promised this gift and others were motivated by your promise. Now you are reneging on the very promise which prompted them to give, even beyond their means.” Should he speak in such a manner, they would be shamed into giving out of “grudging obligation.” When he and the money departed for Jerusalem, there would be shame rather than honor left behind for them to wallow in.

The specificity in this verse is a clear and evident indication of Paul’s true heart for every part of the process to be smooth, honorable, and edifying for all involved.

Life application: Hindsight is 20/20, but with careful thought and contemplation, it is not always necessary to say, “Oh I wish I had….” Instead, by taking the time to think important issues through, pitfalls can be avoided through tact and diplomacy.

Lord God, give us the ability to look forward through difficult issues and to properly evaluate the best way of handling them in advance. Help us to be people that don’t just run into situations without thought or care, but to ask ourselves what is the most honorable and proper way to handle them. Grant us this that we might avoid bringing trouble to ourselves and having a negative view of You arise in the eyes of others. Amen.

2 Corinthians 9:4


Thursday, 22 October 2015

…lest if some Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to mention you!) should be ashamed of this confident boasting. 2 Corinthians 9:4

Paul continues the thought of the previous verse concerning his boasting in what the Corinthians were going to do in their gift giving. The term “Macedonians” leaves off any article and therefore it is as if Paul is conducting a competition between the two groups of people – pitting them against one another to spur them on to the greatest gift possible.

Charles Ellicott and others think that this may mean that the two unnamed brothers of chapter 8 are Macedonians. Thus they would be able to report on this competition between the two. However, if they are coming with Titus, who is carrying Paul’s letter, then this doesn’t fit. Paul will only travel to Corinth after the letter is received. It is whoever travels with Paul, not with Titus, who is being referred to. As he says, they were to come with him. When they traveled together, he didn’t want them to find those in Corinth “unprepared.”

Paul will be traveling with Macedonians who will be evaluating the words he spoke to them. If the gift at Corinth didn’t match his boasting, it would be embarrassing. This is exactly what he has been trying to avoid. This would be particularly so with the Corinthians who had done the boasting. In order to get them on the ball he says, “…not to mention you!”

Together, all parties would find some sort of shame in the events which had transpired. The words “confident boasting” indicate that which is below something else, like a foundation, or the ground. It is what provides stability and steadfastness. If the gift wasn’t ready, the sure words of those in Corinth, and the boasting of Paul concerning them, would seem as if they lacked any true foundation.

Life application: Words without a firm foundation and something to back them up are just wasted breath. Be sure to follow up on what you speak (as Paul is doing in this letter) to ensure that your words are found true and reliable.

Lord God, how often do our words lack any true foundation! And when this is so, people feel they cannot trust us in the future. Help us to be people of truth, honesty, and integrity. Help us to never bring shame upon Your name by being anything less that the epitome of integrity. May those who are called by the Lord act as if it is true! To Your glory I pray this. Amen.



2 Corinthians 9:3


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

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; 2 Corinthians 9:3

Paul begins this verse with the word “yet.” This is a subtle hint of what he will say next. He had just mentioned his boasting concerning the church at Corinth to the Macedonians, telling them about the zeal he witnessed there in regards to the gift. Despite this zeal, he felt it prudent to ensure follow up to the promise by saying, “I have sent the brethren.

These are Titus and the two other unnamed brothers mentioned in verses 8:22, 23. The intent, at least in part, is to avoid the personal embarrassment of Paul as well as of those in Corinth. It was his plan that gift’s presentation not fall short of the promise “lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this respect.”

We can imagine the embarrassed stares all around should those in Corinth not provide as he had said they would. Each party would have secret thoughts of being duped or of having failed in their commitment. In the end, nobody would be left untouched by the failure. Because of this, he was doing his very best to ensure that those in Corinth would “be ready.”

Life application: Which is more embarrassing – to fail to meet a promise or to be the one who reminds the person of the promise they made? Both can be cumbersome and difficult, but if a promise is made which will affect numerous parties, it is certainly best to ensure that the promise is fulfilled. In such a case, we can come to this passage in 2 Corinthians and see how Paul has handled this very delicate matter.

Heavenly Father, it is amazing how many real-life applications can be found right in Your word. Countless situations occur which lead us to a better understanding of how to deal with similar matters which arise in our own lives. And why is this? It is because You are the One who fashioned us in the first place! You know exactly what is needed in all situations and so You’ve given us a guide for these times. Thank You for Your precious word! Amen.



2 Corinthians 9:2


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

…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. 2 Corinthians 9:2

Continuing with his thought on the gathering and final collection of the gift from those in Corinth, Paul says first that “I know your willingness.” He was there personally and had heard the words of promise which the Corinthians had made, their desire to give, and the excitement about doing so. Because of this, when he was in Macedonia he boasted on behalf of those in Corinth concerning their zeal.

His words, “…about which I boast of you” are in the present tense and it shows that he was still in Macedonia and still making the boast to inspire them on in their giving as well. It is likely that this letter is being written from Philippi. The boast of which he speaks is found in verse 24 of the previous chapter. It is a boast which Paul is praying is still applicable, hoping that their zeal has not died down.

Of interest is that he says, “Achaia was ready a year ago.” His words to those in Macedonia show that those in Achaia had already began preparing for this gift. In his first epistle, he even gave instructions on how best to do it –

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 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. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.” 1 Corinthians 16:1-4

The term “Achaia” encompasses the region of Greece where Corinth was the capital. Therefore, this is indicating that there were more churches than just the one in Corinth that had promised to give. Romans 16:1 shows that there was a church in Cenchrea. Paul’s boasting included any and all of the churches, of which Corinth would have been the most prominent.

Because of this boasting, he notes that “your zeal has stirred up the majority.” It would be a shame if the boast proved to be unfounded. As a way of hinting at this, the word for “stirred up” is used in a good sense. In essence, it means “to motivate.” However, it could be used in a negative sense, such as in Colossians 3:21 –

“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”

As the word could go either way, he is probably using it to show that at this time their zeal had a positive effect. However, if they were to delay further, or fail to come through, with their promise, it would turn from a happy stirring to a negative one.

Life application: Delaying a promise can turn into an unhappy thing. We should keep from making promises that we cannot fulfill, or we should explain that the promise will be fulfilled by a certain time. Don’t let things fester in the heart of the one who received the promise.

Lord Jesus, Your word promised salvation for those who would reach out to You, and in due time You came and fulfilled Your word. You didn’t shy back from what was necessary in order to fulfill what You had said. Help me to be like that also. Help me to keep my promises and to not let others down with words that only tickle the ears but which fail to follow through on my promises. Amen.



2 Corinthians 9:1


Monday, 19 October 2015

Now concerning the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you; 2 Corinthians 9:1

Paul, after having brought up the subject of Titus and his traveling companions, returns to the subject of the collection of the gift which he had been speaking of. His words, “Now concerning the ministering to the saints,” are speaking of this very thing. “The saints” are those saints in Jerusalem who are in need.

Concerning this gift, he says that “it is superfluous for me to write to you.” He is tactfully avoiding a possibility of hurting their feelings by directly reminding them of their obligation. Instead, the word “superfluous” is used to let them feel that he knows they have committed to give and will also fulfill in the collection of the gift. Should he not say that his words were superfluous, they may feel he doubted their intent to fulfill the promise previously made.

This will become evident in the next verse. Paul is masterfully writing them to remind them of what they have promised, and yet he is claiming that no reminder is necessary. He understands this type of approach is both wise and necessary. The promise has faded in the minds of the Corinthians and he is bringing it back to a prominent place now that the time for the collection has arrived.

Life application: To make a vow and not fulfill it is to lie concerning the vow. Speaking truthfully to avoid lying is not just a command found in the Law of Moses which has now been set aside in Christ. Lying is forbidden in the New Testament as well (see Colossians 3:9 for example). Think your words through carefully at all times and be sure to perform what your lips have spoken, if you cannot then do so, then be sure to fully explain to the one whom you have made the promise to why you must retract your words.

Lord Jesus, help us to speak the truth, to perform the vows which we have spoken, and to be seen as people of integrity so that You will not be diminished in the eyes of those who evaluate You based on what we say and do. Grant us discernment in how we present ourselves and in the words we speak to others. In the end, what they see in us is how they will then evaluate You. May our conduct and integrity lead many to You. Amen.