Remember, Paul, in the larger context of this letter here, is speaking to believers. This is important, because he is discussing salvation in a way that is largely ignored in Christendom, and seems poorly understood by all except the faithful, and that is sanctification, the act of God imparting His holiness to us through His work and our cooperation.
We should contrast this with justification, the act of God declaring us righteous in the first place. This is why Christ died in our place according to the Gospel. He became human, he lived for between 33 and 34 years as a human, in perfect obedience to God under the Law of Moses, and then deliberately and knowingly gave up that life as a perfect substitutionary sacrifice for us vicariously on the cross. All those big words are chosen and precise in their definition, but the basically mean that Christ died for OUR sins as a substitute (vicariously), atoning for them (propitiation), with God then declaring us righteous in Christ (expiation), which pronounces us as faultless before God (justification). This is a sole work of our triune God, as opposed to sanctification, which God allows His new creations in Christ to learn to CHOOSE to do His will, and instead of simply imputing His righteousness (giving us the righteousness of another, Christ) monergistically (alone by Himself), He imparts His righteousness to our changed natures by teaching us to choose His will and live according to His Word. This is defined as sanctification, the process whereby He makes us holy, and it is said to by synergistic, that is we are allowed by God to participate in the act by our choices, that will move out into our works. However, it is still mostly His work – and none of what we do to become holy is worth two cents if we have not been born again, or saved, or converted, or justified, or redeemed, or regenerated – whatever term you want to choose for justification.
Paul is speaking of sanctification here to believers, and when justification does come up (as it does in 4:15, for example), it is mentioned as happening as a result of Christians that have said yes to sanctification and are choosing to live as God commands. If you read carefully, Paul is using this kind of sanctification as evidence of justification before God and all of His gifts to men, including His own Apostleship. Here is where my review of ground we have already covered begins.
Paul, you will recall, was put out to the extreme, I think to the point where it began to distract him in His service to Christ. After his second visit to Corinth, he was so saddened and deflated that he simply quietly returned to Ephesus. In Ephesus, he wrote the “angry” letter that he sent and then wished he hadn’t. He began to be distracted here, I think – you know, that gnawing thing in your mind and gut that just makes you crazy to know what happened? I wasn’t there, but Paul was one of us – human – and it seems reasonable that he would have human responses.
He was becoming so distracted, he left Ephesus and set out for Troas, where Titus was after his own trip to Corinth. It is entirely reasonable that Paul was after news of what happened with that letter that might have been like a hand grenade in the wrong setting. He didn’t find Titus, so he went looking for him in Macedonia, eventually finding him, and receiving a blessed report that at least a majority of the people there were with Paul and not the false teachers that were calling themselves “super apostles” and attacking Paul’s character.
So what is the first thing Paul chose to confront these “super apostles” with? The idea of suffering, and how that suffering perfects the believer. We talked about how the false teachers were essentially trying to use the gospel as a means of gain, and that’s never good. Paul, on the other hand, would not allow the Corinthians to support him while he was there. We talked about how Paul had gone through real life-threatening trials for the sake of the gospel. Were any of these false apostles ever stoned for preaching his message? Not ever. Paul was. Were any ever beaten with rods for speaking publicly about Christ? No, but Paul was, and he was even given 39 lashes on three different occasions. (One more stoke is a death sentence, if you didn’t know.) Had any of them ever been shipwrecked and lost at sea? Paul was, for a day and a night, for the sake of the work of Jesus on earth. No, beloved, suffering perfects us – if we will cooperate with God and let it.
What we saw was Paul talking about how the Lord had led him in real triumph – but it wasn’t Paul’s triumph, it was Christ’s. He speaks greatly here of his own motives in writing that angry letter, and what that meant to the work, his own state of mind, and the effect it had on the Corinthians. It is a sort of apology in our modern sense, but also an explanation of why he wrote it.
In Chapter 3, we studied the actual connection between the Old and New Testaments, or Covenants. Paul compared them directly. This is a particularly crucial area of study, because if you get the Covenants confused, or worse ignore the one that has gone before, you end up with some really whacked-out ideas on things like tithing, resisting sin, like that. We saw that we live in a new and spiritual reality (more of the now/coming, present/future kingdom stuff we’ve been talking about on and off since we studied Ephesians), and that it is a reality that needs to be intentionally chosen to live in by act of will on our parts. Walking in the Spirit requires that we chooses to set aside all those old acts of the flesh (sins) that will kill us, and instead choose life, being renewed in our minds, and transformed in our characters into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In Chapter 4, we saw a need to let God do the work and for us to submit and either cooperate or get out of His way. In his contrasting of the righteous versus the unrighteous, we saw that we can fit into both categories, and in fact that those category differences, the contradictions in our character, not only perfectly describer humanity, but actually give glory to God as we allow Him to work in our lives. We talked about the cost of following God like this, and we saw that it was in fact everything we have and are. Christ exchanged His life for ours. We are no longer our own, and we must live like that matters, by focusing on the unseen, spiritual reality we now find ourselves in. We have not arrived, and we will not arrive until Jesus comes for us personally.
In Chapter 5, we got a look at what our behaviour as servants of God Most High should be, as we looked at the reasoning of Paul and how he was motivated to behave in his own walk and service of Christ the King. I know that this letter to Corinth was Paul’s justification of his ministry to Christ, but the best way I have found to read it is to make personal application, as if I were called to do what Paul was called to do in terms of the gospel. I know I’m not Paul, I’m not an apostle (Capital or Lowercase A), I’m not a prophet or the son of a prophet, I’m MAYBE an evangelist, but we are all supposed to be that, and I’m barely a pastor and teacher. I understand that–but did not Paul say we are to be imitators of him as he was an imitator of Christ? He did, back in 1 Corinthians 11:1 (Also 4:6).
With that foundation, Chapter 6 shows us (starting in 5:21) the GOSPEL! Paul does make some contrasts and comparisons as to how the servant of God should conduct his life, but the main thrust I saw in this chapter is the gospel, and our specific response to it. Paul explains that WE are sons and daughters of the living God! As such, we should be responding to the gospel, whether we are already believers or not. After all, the answer to all questions and issues is the risen Lord Jesus Christ, and there really is no other. I’m not saying that to be arrogant so I can feel good about myself. Truthfully, it would make me miserable if any of you ended up in eternal suffering and it was my fault. The time, according to Paul, and according to the Holy Spirit in me, is NOW.
In Chapter 7, Paul is going to get what I used to call in high school [unintelligible] years ago, “Under the Hood.” What we saw was what drives the sanctification of God’s people, given that NOW is the time for salvation, be your need justification or sanctification, and everyone needs both if we are to one day see God. We see this best with Corinth because it was the one church from NT days that just had problems with the influence of the world around them leaking into the church. Remember when we studied 1 Corinthians? The world around them had turned the name of the city into a verb: to Corinthianize–to completely debase or debauch a person, place, or occasion. Scripture is clear that WE need to be Holy, just as our Father in Heaven is holy. Hebrews 12:14 tells us that this holiness is something to be pursued actively and why: “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” That holiness is the evidence to the world that Christ actually keeps His Word and that His sacrifice was sufficient for the sins of all those who will ever believe in Him. That holiness is only found via the Holy Spirit in Christ, and that is what drives the whole thing for the believer.
In Chapter 8, we see the gracious giving spirit that is to characterize all who wish to be in the work of God. In fact, Paul encourages all to abound in that work, specifically of sharing what you have within and even beyond your own ability. Because it is God Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit living inside of the believer that is the engine for all of this, we should not be surprised that it is a spirit of generosity and liberality that is displayed by our gracious God through us no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. Ask James Coates and Tim Stephens what that means, the bit about “whatever circumstances.” James Coates has been imprisoned for being a godly pastor. Tim Stephens was imprisoned just because Alberta Health Services and their provincial government want to be able to tell everyone what to wear, where to stand, and what you can and cannot do. And Ontario isn’t much better with one church being fined over $10M! Yes, that’s $10M. You didn’t mishear. Yet, we are to respond to this with an attitude of graciousness and generosity, just like the Lord Jesus did.
Now in Chapter 9, we can see how that graciousness and generosity will pay dividends to the servants of God who will be willing and faithful to do it. I broke the chapter down like this:
KV7: Not Grudgingly or Under Compulsion…
1-5: A Word to the Wise Is Sufficient
6-9: Be a Cheerful Giver…
10-15: God’s Work Also Supplies His Servants
With a breakdown like that, I need to take a moment to define what this is NOT saying. This is NOT saying that if we give, that our “seed giving” will result in a “bigger harvest!” That’s what wolves will tell you to take your money under false pretenses. We will speak directly about that when we get to those verses. So hang in there, Ger has most definitely NOT gone prosperity gospel.
KV7: Not Grudgingly or Under Compulsion…
Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Have you ever noticed that our petty acting all righteous but secretly harbouring other motives than good ones just doesn’t work on God? It’s the reason “name-it-and-claim-it” theology doesn’t work–we can’t fake how we really are inside. James demonstrates it best in chapter 4 of his general epistle, starting in verse 2: “You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.” I think the first part of that verse tells us that we are not walking in the Spirit at a minimum (no fruit present), and so we struggle and strive and fight and war. But have we really actually asked God what His will is? And agreed ahead of time that we will abide by whatever His will is? That’s important, because of his next verse: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” And our motives are a hard thing to control, beloved. You either have good ones or you don’t. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I have often struggled with this, and still do. But God wants us to have good and pure motives when we ask Him for things.
Recently, in our book studies on Fridays, we completed Dr. R. C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God, in which we read, discussed, and hopefully learned that God has called us to be holy, that is set apart for Him in our physical beings, but also in our character, our intangible selves. Our thoughts and motives, if you will. In this, we must learn that He knows best, and every time we are asked, we must give Him what He is asking for from us, or why should He give to us? We are not following the command to set Him first in everything we do, that being the first commandment.
When I say that we struggle with this, I’m not kidding. I literally fought with a particular issue for 30 years or more, and I still don’t have perfect control over that tongue of mine. As you all know. We’ll move on. Paul will illustrate this in the positive by spurring the Corinthians on by calling them to example here, and by reminding them that they started all this, and they need to finish it. Let’s look.
1-5: A Word to the Wise Is Sufficient
Paul isn’t really scolding or warning, he is motivating them by pointing out that the work they had started is something that has stirred others to do the same and participate…so they had better oughta git ‘er done!
1: For it is superfluous for me to write to you about this ministry to the saints;
- Paul is saying, “I don’t actually need to do this.” The Greek gives the sense of the one doing this is overflowing, or providing more than is required, but as with Paul on other things, he is demonstrating liberality in his words and encouragement to the Corinthians saints.
2: for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the Macedonians, namely, that Achaia has been prepared since last year, and your zeal has stirred up most of them.
- In fact, Paul is telling them all of this to stir them up, and this isn’t a bad thing. Look at what he says. He has been bragging about “those Corinthian believers,” using them as examples of generous givers to all the churches in the entire province of Achaia (the part of the Roman Empire that today is all of Greece for the most part), and where the city itself was located.
- He was actually praising the Corinthians here for leading the way in that gift of charity that we talked about last time, the “gracious work” from 8:7 that translated directly as chariti, which as it turns out is almost a direct transliteration into English for the concept. And Achaia has been abuzz about it for a year, and was actually begun in Corinth, according to Paul, right here.
3: But I have sent the brethren, in order that our boasting about you may not be made empty in this case, so that, as I was saying, you may be prepared;
- It’s like Paul is saying in these three verses, “Okay, I KNOW I don’t need to do this, because you took a leadership role in stirring up the saints through the entire state of Achaia to do this charity work for the saints in Jerusalem, but we sent the brethren so we could make sure you knew to be ready to lead the way for real.”
- That’s the real reason I have titled this first paragraph, “A word to the wise is sufficient.” Paul is rightly reminding the believers in Corinth that they had made some pretty real commitments, and that it was now time to keep them. Gee, we’ve never done anything like that around here… [hahahaha]
4: otherwise if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to speak of you—will be put to shame by this confidence.
- This is kind of the “or else” of the statement. Paul is doing something I call “playing the tape forward” to the natural consequences of NOT being prepared. The Corinthians would be embarrassed, the brethren would be embarrassed, Paul would be embarrassed, like so. Who here, by show of hands, likes to be embarrassed? Me either!
- Also, please note that the word here for “confidence” is the Greek hypostasis. This is the very word used by the writer of Hebrews in chapter 11:1, which says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Here, the NASB translators have used the synonym “conviction.” This is important because false teachers like Kenneth Copeland and Jesse DuPlantis, and those are the ones I have personally observed and addressed directly on Twitter, like to quote the King James “substance” and tell us that faith is an invisible substance that we can through prayer coat those items we want, and then demand them of God. I personally know that isn’t going to work, so don’t be mislead by these wolves.
5: So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead to you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, so that the same would be ready as a bountiful gift and not affected by covetousness.
- Back to the primary point. Paul thinks precautions are in order to avoid embarrassment in the work, and I (not surprisingly) agree! I am a big fan of the “Here is what you said, now it’s time to do it” method of encouragement. If you don’t like that, I suggest to you that you should either be more disciplined (the same word as disciple if you check the spelling), or stop making promises you aren’t going to keep for whatever reason. You don’t have to do stuff just because I asked, or Dan asked, or Alex asked, etcetera. Is the Lord asking? THAT is when you want to pay attention. Clearly, the Lord had asked, and had inspired some servants in Corinth with the idea that they should give charity to the saints in Jerusalem.
- Paul is basically saying, “You promised this gift. Make sure it is ready when we get there on this date.” What else could you really do and still walk with Christ if Christ told you to do this? I can’t think of anything…and make sure you aren’t jealous of the gift you’re giving to them. This is charity, and you need to be willing to part with it. God loves a cheerful giver, as we are going to read and talk about later.
When I think about what we talked about here, I get a few different applications. The first of those is that being encouraged to do what you said you would do is a normal thing. People, me included, can sometimes overreact because it wasn’t said the right way, or by the right person, so there is a clear need to be humble about things. Second, as a leader in God’s house, I have not the right, but the duty to encourage people to do what they said they would do. It’s okay to make a bit of a deal out of it, as long as you are being kind and truthful. There’s probably more, but we’ll move on.
6-9: Be a Cheerful Giver…
With the mandatory reminders to faithfulness complete, Paul now begins to look at what it means to give with a proper attitude. I have heard sermon after disappointing sermon on this subject, usually to get the frozen chosen to beef up the money they put in the collection plate. But that isn’t all there is to it, and it is a thing that the Lord covers WELL in Scripture. We are going to try to give it a reasonable treatment here this evening. Let’s dig in.
6: Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
- Now remember what I said earlier. This is NOT a proof-text that says that if I use my seed money properly, I will get a bigger monetary harvest. This could, however, be called the law of increasing returns. It is worded in Scripture like this; You reap what you sow. And that works negatively OR positively. And the returns are not material for the most part. If you sow evil deeds, you will get evil returns. Some people call it karma, but that’s the mistaken notion of balance. This is nothing other than the justice of God. Sin brings death. Righteousness brings life. The problem for the sinner (and the reason they don’t want to think of it like the justice of God) is that there is nothing good in us and nothing we do is truly good. Isaiah tells us that all our righteousnesses are as used menstrual rags in the Hebrew. “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” (64:6)
- And this is speaking in terms of rewards in this case. The rewards though, are NOT physical or monetary. The rewards here pay dividend to your developing character. If you will, it is all about the renewing of your mind, and the making holy of a saint of the most High God. If you don’t put out some effort, you will not see much benefit. Maximum effort, maximum benefit in the terms of the transformation of the soul. This is the true fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Yes, it is love, joy, peace, and all of that, but the real fruit is the person who manifests these things, not each individual thing. That’s why the word fruit in that passage is singular.
7: Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
- In this verse, in this context, Paul is saying a REAL mouthful. First, our motives must be what Paul calls “purposed” in our heart. That word for purpose in Greek means to choose for oneself one thing before another; to prefer or propose, intend. The word here denotes a conscious choice.
- Now, before all you back-row internet guys start piling on about the heart being the organ that pumps blood and not a center of choice, the ancient Greeks knew that, and so did Paul. He is using figurative language to indicate this is a choice that is connected to our motivations and intentions, as did the writers and poets of the day, and we still do that today! I have heard people say, “I feel in my heart…” They know as well as I do that their feelings are all in their mind. It is expressive language used to make a point, and that is all Paul is doing here.
- So–this is saying that we must decide what to do for ourselves, and no one else can do it for us! I like this. Look, if you want to work on BereanNation.com, then great, let’s talk about that. If you don’t, that’s okay too. I’m not going to twist your arm or hold you hostage. YOU get to decide. And you can decide with your actions! You will either do it because you want to, or NOT do it because you want to do something else. I’m okay with either, it’s up to you. This is a volunteer job, after all. That’s an example, albeit a good and applicable one for this audience.
- After Paul explains that it must be preferred in our own motives, he strengthens that statement with, “not grudgingly or under compulsion.” Going back to our previous example of BereanNation.com, I am not going to nag you until you say, “Oh, all right! I’ll do some stuff!” And I’m not going to point a gun at you (or anyone) literally or figuratively in order to threaten or guilt you into doing something you clearly do not want to do.
- Why not? Because God loves a “cheerful” giver. That word in Greek for “cheerful” is hilaron in the text. We get our English word “hilarious” from it, but the original word had a different meaning than “funny-ha-ha.” The word in Greek, according to Vine in his expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words, signifies that readiness of mind that is willing to do anything and with great promptness, because of the joy the task or duty brings to doer. This is called hilaros in Greek, and “cheerful” in English. What Paul is saying is that whatever we purpose to do in our heart, that figurative decision-making center in each of us, we must be ready to do for the sheer joy the purpose brings us. That’s from getting up in the morning to go about our daily business, to doing your chapter summary bible study for the evening.
- Beloved, please don’t ever feel like I’m guilting you into doing something. If you want to do it, do it. If you don’t, don’t. God will take notice and reward or correct accordingly, and I won’t say a thing. I won’t have to, and besides, it isn’t my job.
8: And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
- All that previous talk makes for a really important question here. What if I know this is what the Lord wants and I don’t want to do it? Beloved, Paul has blessed news for us all here. God is able to make all grace abound to you. And to me! You mean God will make the day 28 hours long so I can keep up with all the podcasts? We may wish, but no.
- God will give you the sufficiency to do it. We don’t have that in ourselves. Here, see what the text says. The Greek work autarkia is the English word sufficiency here, and that simply means “to have enough in yourself” if you read literally. What is important here is to recognize that YOU are not the SOURCE of that enough within yourself, it is caused by God abounding all grace toward you.
- And this isn’t just to “make you a success” in the world like other wolves like Joel Osteen and his wife Victoria, or Joseph Prince teach. What is this for? It is for every GOOD DEED. Ergon agathon in the Greek, and it means all the stuff that God wants you to do, but that isn’t us becoming successful or having our best lives now. It is doing what God wants us to do. What if God WANTS you to be poor for a time so you can leant to be content with what you have, with what He has given you, really? And why, oh why, would we want our best life now? Isn’t our best life supposed to come when He returns for us, but it could be really rough until that happens? That’s what I read here. Am I wrong? No, I can answer that myself, thanks. Anyone telling you that God wants you to be all successful-like is trying to get rich on your back, beloved.
9: as it is written, “HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.”
- This is what God wants, and we know it because it is what He did. And what did He do? First, He SCATTERED ABROAD. The picture here is a sower scattering seed to plant ancient grains. He is not looking for an even spread of wealth here. He’s throwing it EVERYWHERE. It lands where it lands. And there are some that do not get enough. These are called “the poor” in our language here.
- So what does God do? He GIVES TO THE POOR! He makes it so that the poor can get enough and be blessed! It is why it is so important that WE give to the poor. And Beloved, we aren’t just talking about money. What makes a person poor? It is a lack of SPIRITUAL riches. They do not know the GOSPEL!
- And that is how His righteousness will endure forever–the great sacrifice He made of Himself at the cross on Golgotha. Beloved, it is what gave us all eternal life, and we will literally be talking about it for all ages to come.
- In case you didn’t recognize this, it is Psalm 112:9. It reads, “He has given freely to the poor, His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted in honor.” His “horn” is the way children are made, if I understand the Hebrew reference, but I could be corrected. And if you think about it, are we not now the children of God? And didn’t He make us so by special act of New Creation from above?
We must indeed be a cheerful giver in the senses we have discussed in this paragraph. The Lord is our sufficiency in everything, even when we do not want to do what He has said to do. I’m thinking about Jonah here. We all make errors in judgement from time to time. Because it is the Lord’s law of increasing returns. You reap what you sow. If you sow the wind, you will certainly reap the whirlwind, but if you sow a generous amount of effort, whatever that effort is for you, and if you do it with the right attitude, then you will reap an increase in character…and isn’t that what being made holy as He is holy is all about?
10-15: God’s Work Also Supplies His Servants
This section is dangerous in the wrong hands. Coming from the mouth of a Bill Johnson, a Chris Valloton, a Kenneth Copeland, a Creflo Dollar, or a Jesse DuPlantis–or any other similar word of faith preacher–this Scripture becomes twisted and unholy. We will discuss this in depth as we go. Let me point out here at the beginning of the thought unit that NOWHERE does it say this applies to MONEY. Sure enough it CAN, but that doesn’t mean that it always does, and it CERTAINLY isn’t describing seed-faith giving as defined by these false-teacher charlatans. Jude calls them hidden reefs, and clouds without water, trees without fruit, and doubly dead in the 12th verse of his general letter to the churches. Peter is the one who actually names them False Teachers in 2 Peter 2:1, and says that they will introduce destructive heresies. Paul calls them false brethren in this very letter (11:26) and in in Galatians 2:4, which is how we began these studies. We have seen the Apostles themselves name names and call out men for preaching these things in Acts, and even Jesus called them whitewashed tombs, filled with dead men’s bones. John the Baptist called them “brood of vipers” TO THEIR FACES, IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE! So don’t get on me for naming names. Have a little courage and stand up. I personally know a pastor in the US that is facing lawsuits from false “believers” because he correctly named someone and what they were doing. I’ll keep his name out of the spotlight pending court results. Don’t tell us we’re always supposed to be “nice” and passive wall-flowers, because men of God aren’t built that way. I like the way my brother put it in public response: “These jeans ain’t skinny. And these colors don’t run. Y’all picked the wrong guy.”
You see, God supplies for His own people. What does He supply you ask? Whatever they actually need. Sometimes that is unpleasant, like in the church at Smyrna. Apparently they “needed’ persecution, or it would have happened a different way. Apparently I “needed” the loss of a friend I have known since Grade 6, who called me out on an article on BereanNation.com (and I didn’t write the article, it was a news story the news wire put together. I don’t think it was a specifically “Christian” news article either, but going off like a Liberal Karen about it helps no one, least of all, him. To my old friend I say, I’m sorry you were offended. Maybe you should read the Scriptures more and see the kind of language that the Apostles use to describe idolatry in other religions. Not just Paul on Mars Hill, but in other places. And I have to tell you, if this means we can no longer be friends, I am okay with that. In fact, I don’t care if it cost me every friend I had as a youth because it isn’t about me, Jay. It’s about the Lord Jesus Christ, and what is important to him–the truth. There are other interpretations to the narrative in that article, and not all of them think that Derek Chauvin is a murderer. And certainly NO ONE WHO IS A REAL CHRISTIAN will deify the criminal George Floyd as that mural did, who once held a knife to a pregnant lady’s belly over drugs. He was high on fentanyl when he died, and so says the coroner’s report. Sure, Chauvin was an idiot that deserves to pay some kind of penalty for that idiocy–but life in prison for murder? Not when I see ALL the facts, not just what the mainstream media feeds us, because they don’t any longer report the truth. And that’s what WE need–the truth–and not just any truth, but the truth as it is in Jesus, as recorded in the pages of Scripture. That’s what we “need,” more than anything else. And that’s what Paul is talking about.
So what am I ranting about? Let’s dig into the text.
10: Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;
- The first thing I will point out in this verse is that money DOES NOT COME UP AS A THEME. We will need to take a little time here, so buckle your seatbelts.
- We begin by establishing who “He” refers to at the start of the verse. The Greek word is in fact “he,” and in the manuscripts, there was no capitalization. So the clue about the identity best comes from the surrounding context. Who is it that can both supply the seed that makes the wheat that the baker makes, and then the bread that the baker makes? It has to be the only One that has made both, that is God. Arguably, we could say that is Christ, as the eternal Word that was both with God and was God at the same time, who John tells us in the first chapter of his gospel that He is the one that poke everything into being, and not one thing that is was made without Him. But That is less important than just seeing that God is the “He” of whom Paul speaks.
- In fact, what is God doing according to Paul? He is supplying your seed, and He is multiplying your seed for sowing. You will have more opportunity that need, or even recognize. I find this to be true. Until recently, I only saw the ability to preach the gospel where I wanted, and in reality, it is in every situation I am in. There are times where I am hindered providentially, but outside those times, just practicing saying the right words at the right times can turn a conversation to the gospel, and positively so! And if we are faithful to do that sowing, the real emphasis here, God will increase the harvest of our righteousness.
- Notice that didn’t say that everyone will agree, or that everyone will be saved, or that everyone won’t become angered. What God promises here is that YOUR righteousness will increase as you are made holy by your sufferings.
11: you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.
- So what does this mean? It means exactly what it says. You will “be made rich,” or “enriched” here in the NASB, in EVERYTHING. The Greek word pas, for all or everything. Does that include money? Yes, if that is what god wills for you. Does it include suffering for the sake of the gospel? MOST DEFINITELY. Because it is what we NEED to be made holy, that is set apart for God, and THAT is the ONLY thing that really MATTERS for the follower of Jesus.
- It says we will be made rich for all “liberality,” chosen by the translators of the NASB that I use, which can mean generosity, plenty, copious bestowal–but can also mean singleness, or sincerity, without dissimulation (self-seeking). The really interesting thing to me is that BOTH meanings actually apply here. If God gives us goods, it is to bless others in His name. If He gives us the gospel, same thing. If He gives us sufferings instead, that is the way He wants it in our case, and we are not worthy to question that. We are NOT God, and I can guarantee we do not understand everything like He does. We need to focus on that attitude of liberality in the sense of generosity, and in the sense of sincerity. To do otherwise is to disobey our master.
- All of that “making rich,” regardless of what we are being made rich in, will produce thanksgiving to God as we move through the circumstances with which He presents us.
12: For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.
- Back to the text. The ministry of this service is diakonia tes leitourgicas. That first word in the Greek phrase is where we get our English word deacon, which means “one who serves.” I point this out because we tend to overuse and misuse the term “ministry” today. He has a gospel ministry. He has a worship ministry. He has a music ministry. None of those are particularly bad or wrong, but what about a ministry to bring justice to the poor? Sounds good, right? Yeah, until you realize that the poor need mercy and not justice, and the last thing any human needs is to get what they deserve from God, which would be true justice.It needs to be real service, not just that loose term “ministry.”
- The second main word of the phrase is where we get our English word liturgy, but again, it has become associated with something I don’t think Paul envisioned. According to Vine, it is used in this verse to indicate the service, or “ministration,” (his word) of believers one to another. This is regarded as our priestly duty to each other. Remember, a priest speaks to God on behalf of the people, not the other way around. We cannot mix that up with the job of a prophet, to speak to the people for God. We have to keep that straight.
- What I read in this verse is that this service to God is for us to act as the hands of god for other people. Our service here is not for these people, it is to and for God Himself, but as a side effect, it does fully supply the needs of the people, something that a priest does for the people toward God. It is only with that consideration that it makes sense to me that it would be overflowing with many thanksgivings to God. I don’t think I’m thick, I think I have it here.
13: Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all,
- As it turns out, this is important to the overall meaning, because this service (diakonia) of meeting the needs of other saints, in this case in Scripture, the saints in Jerusalem, but really it could be anything we do to serve the saints individually or collectively as the church, serving the Lord in the process, give PROOF of the Lord Jesus and His working in people to build Himself a people from every tribe and nation called The Church Universal. I stay away from the Latin word here [Catholic] because they claim it’s them, and they are not really The Church Universal and have not been since the early 6th century if you ask me. I prefer the term I used.
- It is THIS proof that will cause people to glorify God that we do what we are supposed to for God, and that the sincere generosity of what we give to the saints that are in need, and to everyone else. Isn’t that what the verse says in plain English? It is what it says in Greek…
14: while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you.
- Beloved, I have a sort of rhetorical question (and sort of not) for you all right here. Is this not the kind of “love” for other Christians that we should have, that will make all people realize that we are indeed who we claim to be? John 13:34-35. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
- Now think about this. Paul is speaking specifically of other believers in these verses. How do I know? They are praying for the believers in Corinth. Beloved, if you have ever been part of a fellowship that has international reach, you start to make contacts in other places, and those contacts pray for you just like you pray for them. And if you hear they are in crisis, do you not do what you can to relieve that/ And do they not reciprocate? I was in such a fellowship for a time. I sincerely yearned for those brethren, the same way I know they yearned for me. Why do we yearn. Or long to be with, them? Paul tells us here. It is because of the surpassing grace of God we see and know to be in each other. It is because we see and believe that new commandment Jesus gave His disciples in John 13. The PROOF in the last verse, the result of a procedure of examination or testing, is seen by your brethren in other places, assuming they are brethren.
- Did you all know that we have a connection to a brother in Bangladesh? We do! I gave him permission to use all of the teaching stuff on BereanNation.com in his own ministry. He has used it, too. Likewise brothers in India, the Philippines, The Gambia, Ireland, and anywhere else that Christians are. It is informal, we don’t communicate often, but we are there and pray for each other as we can. This is an example of that kind of love for the brethren that the world sees and is either attracted or doesn’t know what to do with.
15: Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
- And with all that in mind, all Paul can do is the same thing we can all do–praise the Lord! He says it is for God’s indescribable [inexpressible] gift! The Greek is dorea, meaning free gift, or giving without cost. People have difficulty believing this, but God makes all of His gifts to men free of monetary cost, or anything we could do or merit. He gives to all equally, regardless of status, assuming only that He chose to do it, and that is again His choice, and not ours. That is the gift for which we should thank God continuously.
So go back to the title of this paragraph for a second. I called it, “God’s Work also Supplies His Servants.” What is the Lord actually suppling here? Well, I thought about this for more than a few cursory minutes. He is supplying EVERYTHING. He supplies the grace, the faith, the works we do, the service, the adequacy to do them, the words to say, the prayers to pray…and His Spirit to do it all in love and truth. ALL of it, all for Him, and in His name, so that He gains all the glory through us.
I have a serious question about this to all that might be listening at some point to this. What is stopping YOU from getting involved in the work of Christ today? He lived the life we should have lived, under the Law in perfect obedience to God, and then willingly and knowingly provoked his own arrest, mistreatment, and most painful execution so that He would die in your place. My friend, if that is what you believe, then ask Him to forgive your sins–and really turn away from them. Find yourself a biblical church where they teach and preach Christ. If you aren’t sure where to go, contact us, and we’ll do our best to help you. If this isn’t what you believe, why not? Al the proof you could ever want or need is there. Think about it.
And that’s chapter 9!