Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 9

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

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God’s Unspeakable Gift

In the first five verses of this chapter, Paul gives his final instructions regarding the need to raise money for needy Christians in Judea. Then, in the rest of the chapter, he expresses the wondrous blessings God grants to Christians who assist less fortunate Christians who are in need. In these final instructions, Paul continues his care in choosing the proper words. Just as in chapters seven and eight, he never wants to appear to be giving commands regarding how much Christians must give, for to do so would void their giving as being a freewill offering.

Verse 1

For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:

The word "touching" (peri) means "completeness" (Strong 4012), indicating that Paul is about to teach more to the Corinthians about "the ministering to the saints" (diakonia), that is, "relief" (Strong 1248) for those who are less fortunate. Paul obviously recognizes he is repeating the teaching he has already written; therefore, he says it is "superfluous" (perissos), meaning it is "more than is necessary" (Strong 4053) for him to write about this subject again. In other words, there will be little, if any, new information in the fifteen verses of this chapter; however, it bears repeating because of the seriousness and importance of the subject matter as well as the good that will come to those in need.

Verse 2

For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.

For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago: The word "forwardness" (prothumia) means "readiness" (Strong 4288), referring to the readiness of the minds of the Christians in Achaia, referring to all those living in the province of Achaia but specifically to Christians in Corinth. Paul realizes the Corinthian Christians were "ready" (paraskeuazo), meaning they were "prepared" (Strong 3903) more than a year ago to send financial help to the needy saints. Because of this fact, he boasted about them to the Christians in Macedonia, while also encouraging the Macedonians to assist with this great need—which they did.

and your zeal hath provoked very many: Paul not only recognizes their preparedness but also he praises them for their "zeal," that is, their "enthusiasm (or) strong desire" for helping at that time. Their enthusiasm "provoked" (erethizo), meaning their desire "stimulate(d)" (Strong 2042) many other Christians, such as in Macedonia, to give.

Verse 3

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

Yet have I sent the brethren: The "brethren" Paul refers to are Titus and the two unnamed messengers already mentioned: "Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ" (8:23).

lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready: Paul has been "boasting" (kauchema), meaning he has been "rejoicing" (Strong 2745), in telling others about the greatness of the Corinthians’ desire to collect money to send to those in need. Because of all of his boasting, Paul wants to be sure they have the money ready to send; therefore, he sends three men (Titus and the two messengers) to Corinth to see to it that the offering has been taken care of before he returns with the Macedonian brethren. Paul wants to ensure that all of his bragging about the Corinthians’ enthusiasm for giving is not "vain," and "will be proven true" (Bratcher 96) when he arrives.

Verse 4

Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.

Paul and some Christians from Macedonia plan to go to Corinth. He has been boasting about the Corinthians’ work regarding their collecting a generous freewill offering. Now, he appears to be concerned lest "haply" (pos), meaning lest "perhaps" (Strong 4458), when he and those from Macedonia arrive in Corinth, they are "unprepared" in that the offering is not ready. If such were the case, he, and especially the Corinthians, would be "ashamed" or "humiliated" (Bratcher 96). Paul wants to avoid embarrassing them as well as himself.

Verse 5

Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.

Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before: Paul repeats the same fact regarding his sending brethren to Corinth, but this time he does so in the past tense. It appears that as he writes this letter, he is thinking about the Corinthians’ receiving the letter later; therefore, he wants them to understand clearly what is in his mind as he writes. He says he thought it was "necessary" (anagkaios), meaning it was "needful" (Strong 316), to "exhort" (parakaleo), that is, it was his "desire" (Strong 3870) or his "request…(for the brethren to) implore urgently" (BAG 622) to come to them before he did to assist them in collecting their "bounty" (eulogia), referring to their "blessing" (Thayer 260).

that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness: This final clause means "in this way" (Bratcher 97); that is, by sending the brethren before he arrived to encourage the Corinthians to prepare their gift, they will not appear to be forced to do something they actually wanted to do as a freewill offering. They wanted this gift to be "as a matter of bounty" (eulogia) or "a blessing of a collection" and not appear to be a case of "covetousness" (pleonexia), that is, a case of "greediness" (Strong 4124) on their part. If the gift is not ready when Paul comes through Corinth and it has to be raised after he gets there, it will appear the money is being raised by force from reluctant hearts. Therefore, Paul restates the need for them to collect this gift before he arrives so that the Corinthians will not be embarrassed by appearing to be greedy—the collecting before his arrival will be a blessing to them as well as a blessing to those who receive the gift.

Verse 6

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

The expression "But this I say" means "the point is this" (Bratcher 98). Paul emphasizes that while they are collecting this gift, they should understand there are two types of giving: (1) "sparingly" (pheidomenos), meaning they could give "stingily" (Strong 5340); or they can give (2) "bountifully" (eulogia), meaning they should be liberal in their giving.

Paul has turned this situation into a teaching moment as he moves his discussion forward and lays out this natural principle: sowing sparingly means reaping sparingly; sowing bountifully means reaping bountifully. Thus, he really communicates the idea to the Corinthians once again that they should give liberally to assist the poor saints.

In more detail, his example of giving is compared to the principle of sowing seed in a field. An obvious fact of nature is that if you sow a scanty number of seed, you will have a scanty harvest. Likewise, Paul has already stated that if their gift is prepared before he arrives in Corinth it will be a blessing to them; therefore, he is teaching that if they give a scanty amount (small amount), they will receive a scanty (small amount) of blessing.

The amount every person is to give or "lay by him in store" "upon the first day of the week," as Paul has taught in 1 Corinthians 16:2, is not specified; therefore, God will be the judge to determine if the gift is given "sparingly" or "bountifully." How do we today determine what is "sparing" and what is "bountiful"? A suggestion is to consider the Old Testament teaching when God’s children were told:

Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe (Numbers 18:26).

Paul is not teaching here, nor is it taught elsewhere in the New Testament, that Christians must give a tenth part of what they earn; however, logic would suggest that they would not want to give less than the children of God in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, God blessed his children with physical salvation from Egyptian bondage; but in the New Testament, God blesses His children with spiritual freedom from the bondage of sin.

In the Old Testament, God blessed His people with a physical promised land (Canaan). In the New Testament, God blesses His faithful children with the promise of the spiritual land of heaven. As is easily recognized, God blesses Christians of the New Testament far more than He blessed those of the Old Testament; therefore, how can we rationalize giving less than they gave back then? Just a suggestion for consideration!

Verse 7

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give: A Christian’s giving is not to be a haphazard action; that is, our giving should not be something we do on the spur of the moment, without any consideration of its purpose; instead, a Christian’s giving must be "according as he purposeth in his heart." The word "purposeth" (proaireomai) means "intent" (Strong 4255); a Christian must decide beforehand what to "lay by him in store" or give "upon the first day of the week" (1 Corinthians 16:2).

not grudgingly: This giving is a decision that comes from within a Christian and not an obligatory decision from the outside; or as Paul says, this giving must never be done "grudgingly" (lupe), that is, from a "reluctant mind" (Thayer 383-2-3076). Paul is emphasizing the importance of giving but not giving to the point that we regret what we give.

or of necessity: Furthermore, Christians are to "lay by him in store" because we choose to do so and not out of "necessity" (anagke), meaning not out of "compulsion" or because we believe we are "forced to do so" (Bratcher 98). If Christians give upon the first day of the week, but do so with regret because they believe they are required to do so, they are not pleasing God and will not receive a blessing for the giving.

for God loveth a cheerful giver: For Christians to please God in their giving, they must remember, "God loveth a cheerful giver." A giver who is "cheerful" (hilaros) is simply a Christian giver who is "willing" (Strong 2431) to give. It is his pleasure to give. Paul’s message here possibly came loosely from the Old Testament where the Scriptures say, "He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor" (Proverbs 22:9 NKJV).

While Christians’ giving must not be done grudgingly or out of necessity, they must understand they are required to give. No Christian is exempt from giving for any reason because giving is a command. If Christians find it difficult to give without doing so grudgingly or because they believe they have no choice, they need to examine their life to determine the reason for giving. All Christians must love one another; therefore, there should never be a reason that would cause them not to give voluntarily and, therefore, cheerfully. Attempting to force a person to give out of necessity is of no more value than forcing a person to be baptized. Both acts must be done willfully and for the right reason; otherwise, they are useless and they would not be pleasing to God.

Verse 8

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you: Paul encourages all Christians to give to assist other Christians by emphasizing that when Christians obey God in relieving the poor, God will "make all grace abound toward" them. The word "grace," as used here, means "gift" (Strong 5485); therefore, Christians who give cheerfully have the promise of God that He will "make all (gifts) abound toward" them. The word "abound" (perisseuo) means to "increase" (Strong 4052); thus, when Christians give cheerfully to assist other Christians, God will "increase" all of His gifts toward the giver.

that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things: Christians who freely give to assist other Christians are not told how much God will increase His gifts to them; however, they are promised that it will be enough of an increase that they will "always hav(e) all sufficiency in all things…(and) abound to every good work." God’s promise is that the giver will have all "sufficiency" (autarkeia), meaning he will find "contentment" (Strong 841) in all things; that is, God promises willful givers they will have "a sufficiency of the necessaries of life" (Thayer 84-85). This promise proves that God will bless Christians with, not only spiritual blessings, but also physical blessings in life.

may abound to every good work: Not only will God bless the generous giver with enough to have contentment in the necessities of life, but God’s promise also includes that this generous giver will continue to be able to give "to every good work," meaning he will continue to have enough to give to other Christians in need.

An example of God’s blessing those who willfully give is recorded by Paul in his letter to the Philippians:

I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (4:18-19).

Verse 9

(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

The first pronoun "He" refers to God. To "disperse(d) abroad" (skorpizo) means God has "scatter(ed) abroad" (Strong 4650). The second pronoun "he" refers to the Christian who gives generously to the poor; therefore, God scatters abroad to the generous Christian who has given to the poor; and this good Christian’s "righteousness remaineth for ever." The word "righteousness," as used here, refers specifically to the act of the generous Christian. The promise of God is that He will continue to bless the generous Christian so that he will be able to continue giving forever, indicating God will never forget him as long as he continues giving willingly to the poor Christians. Lipscomb explains correctly, saying: "The meaning is that he can go on giving from a constantly replenished store" (124).

Verse 10

Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food: In this verse Paul restates his message in verse 8. Similarly, the same message is presented in the Old Testament:

As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater (Isaiah 55:10).

Likewise, in Paul’s statement here, the word "ministereth" (epichoregeo) means to "supply" (Thayer 246) or "contribute" (Strong 2023) to the "sower." It is God who is supplying seed to the sower. The "sower" is the cheerful giver. As in the Old Testament passage, God gives the rain and snow from heaven; and they profit the sower by providing necessary bread; likewise, in Paul’s statement, God supplies seed to the willful giver, and the seed provides bread for their food to eat.

and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness: Again, as Paul has previously taught, God multiplies, that is, He "increase(s) the seed sown by the Christian who freely gives and He increases the ’righteousness’ or ’generosity’ for what he was given" (Bratcher 100). Paul’s message is that God uses human generosity to create a rich harvest of good things for others. Therefore, we learn that God’s way of giving on the first day of the week will produce ample amount of daily necessities for all Christians, as Lipscomb says, "God multiplies what is given and increases the means of doing good" (124).

Verse 11

Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness: The word "enriched" (ploutizo) means "to make wealthy" (Strong 4148), or as Bratcher says, "God will make you rich" (101). It is also important to recognize that this verse shows that God will make us rich in "every thing" for all "bountifulness" (haplotes), meaning those who give liberally will be compensated with all of God’s "generosity" (Strong 572).

which causeth through us thanksgiving to God: Christians should always express thankfulness to God for all things He gives to His children. Not only should we give thanks to God for the physical blessings He grants to us but also we should give thanks to God for blessings He gives to others.

Verse 12

For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;

For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God:

The freewill offering given on the first day of the week is a religious service: it is an act of worship. We give out of praise to God. The word "administration" (diakonia) means "relief" (Strong 1248), and the word "supplieth" (prosanapleroo) means "furnish" (Strong 4322); therefore, Paul, in talking about the liberality furnished to needy Christians by the more prosperous Christians, will demonstrate that these Christians are obedient and true believers in Christ by their expressing their thanksgiving to God. In other words, blessings to God are seen abundantly. Paul is emphasizing that our generous giving benefits more than just the needy Christians. This giving also benefits the giver because the act of giving as God instructs is actually abundantly praising God Himself.

Verse 13

Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;

The word "experiment" (dokime) means "proof" (Strong 1382) of this ministration, that is, the relief given to the poor is proof that Christians, such as those in Corinth, "glorify" (doxazo) or "magnify" (Strong 1392) God in their obedience. Christians’ giving "profess(es)" (homologia), meaning their liberal giving is an "acknowledgment" (Strong 3671), that they are in subjection to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Verse 14

And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.

It appears the Christians in Judea who are in such great need have heard about the Corinthians’ repentance. They also would have known that before their disobedience, they had promised to send a generous gift to assist them. Now that they have repented and returned to Jesus in obedience, the Christians in Judea—still being in need—pray a prayer of gratitude for the Christians’ gift.

Verse 15

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

The word "unspeakable" (anekdiegetos) means an "indescribable" (Strong 411) gift, referring to God’s gift of Jesus Christ who brought forth redemption from our sins. Paul is speaking of Jesus as being the gift of salvation. Such a love as God has for His children that would allow Him to give His Son to die as a sacrifice should inspire all Christians to love their fellow brethren and sisters and always be willing to give generously and freely to assist them when they are in need.

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 9". "Contending for the Faith". 1993-2022.