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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 9

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-15

Shall we turn in our Bibles to II Corinthians, chapter nine.

Paul has been, in the last couple of chapters, talking to them about the collection that he wanted them to take for the poor in Jerusalem. The church in Jerusalem had gone through a lot of problems, severe persecution. And the Christians in Jerusalem were in great physical need. And so, Paul is asking the Gentile churches to show their love in the body of Christ for their brothers in Jerusalem by sending an offering by his hand to them. And in chapter eight, he talks to them about the gathering together of these funds. In chapter nine, he continues his appeal to them to give for the aid of the church in Jerusalem. And so,

As touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you ( 2 Corinthians 9:1 ):

Because, he said, "I know how willing you are to do these things."

For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of [which are in] Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many ( 2 Corinthians 9:2 ).

So, Paul is talking to them again about ministering to the needs of the church in Jerusalem. And he said that, I know a year ago you were ready to do it, and I shared with others your willingness, and they became excited over your willingness. And it was an inspiration to them to give. Your zeal has been an inspiration, provoked others.

Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf ( 2 Corinthians 9:3 );

And so Paul sent Titus and another brother ahead to receive the collections that they had taken up to help the church in Jerusalem, and Paul's a little concerned now. He's been boasting of how generous and willing the Corinthians were in supporting, and now he's hoping that they'll come through with his boasting of them. And so, "I have sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf;"

that, as I have said [that as I have declared of you], ye may be ready [to give]: 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 ( 2 Corinthians 9:3-4 ).

So, Paul is sort of trying to cover his bases in a sense. He's been bragging all about them, told the churches in Macedonia, "Oh, these guys are really super givers and all, and they're really ready to aid." And now, if I come and you haven't done anything, you know, I'll be embarrassed, and you'll be embarrassed and all. So it's encouraging them in this giving.

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 ( 2 Corinthians 9:5 ).

Now, Paul really didn't want any offerings taken while he was there. He wanted it to all be done in advance. Paul wanted to preclude any criticism that might come of his ministry saying, "Well, Paul's just in it for the bucks." And he was extremely careful in this regard, not wanting to bring a reproach to Jesus Christ in the matter of giving.

Unfortunately, there are many who do bring a reproach to Jesus Christ because of the emphasis that they make upon giving. And there are all types of ways to fleece the flock of God. And believe me, these clever evangelists have discovered every way, and even some that weren't there.

But Paul didn't want any kind of accusation that he was fleecing the church. And therefore, he wanted it all to be taken care of. He sent a couple fellows in advance so that all of the giving would be over with by the time he got there. That he could just receive what was given, and take it on to the church in Jerusalem. But didn't want any collections made while he was there.

It's, to me, an extremely embarrassing thing to have your name or whatever used as the tool for raising funds. A few years back, I was over in Hawaii speaking at a Bible conference, where I've been invited to speak at this Bible conference. And so the first night, when the fellow went to take the offering, he took about ten minutes, and you know, "We have asked our brother Chuck to come over here, and it cost, you know, the money and all to get him here. And we want to make sure that he's well taken care of and all, and so we want you to really give tonight to provide for our dear brother Chuck's needs." And all this kind of stuff. And I sat there on the platform just embarrassed silly.

And so when I finally got a chance to get up, I said, "I appreciate what this brother said about your poor brother Chuck, but I want you to know, I'm not going to take one penny for being here. For I have an extremely wealthy Father who takes care of all of my needs, and I don't have to depend upon people to provide for my needs, because my Father so adequately takes care of me. Gives me a generous expense account and supplies all of my needs. And so, if you want to take up offerings here, that's fine. If you want to give, that's good. But don't give for poor brother Chuck, 'cause he's not going to take a cent from you. I'm here to give and not to receive."

And I was just really embarrassed. I don't like my name used as the goat or the gimmick or whatever to get people to give. I do trust in my Father to supply my needs, and He does, and He's very good about it. He's very faithful in that. And so, really, I sort of modeled myself after Paul in this regard.

I have always been disturbed over the emphasis that churches so often place upon giving. And that is why I, perhaps, gone the other direction in the pendulum and say so little about giving. That is why we never mention to you any needs that might exist, because we're not looking to you; we're looking to the Lord to supply for the work of the ministry. And when God guides, God always provides.

And I always look a little ensconced at these who have been led by God into some great program, and the whole thing's going to fail unless you bail God out. I somehow don't conceive God as being on the brink of bankruptcy every other week and ready to fold His whole program because people don't come through and rescue Him from financial insolvency.

So, Paul had the same attitude towards giving. Didn't want any offerings taken while he was there. Didn't want any emphasis placed upon money. "Go ahead and get it all in before I get there, so that when I arrive, there will be no collections taken while I am there."

But in the giving, Paul does mention an interesting basic law of God. And that law of God is a spiritual law. And it is interesting because it is hard, at times, to understand just how it can work. And I don't know the mechanics of how it works, all I do know is that it does work. Now, there are a lot of physical laws that I know work. I don't know how they work. I understand a little bit about the laws of magnetism. The attraction of opposite poles and the repelling of like poles. I know that the positive charges repel each other. Now, why they repel, I don't know. Why opposite poles attract, I don't know. I know they do. From the time I was a child, I knew that I could take a magnet and slowly put it down and finally watch the nail jump up to the magnet, and some invisible force that was grabbing that nail and pulling it up to the magnet and holding it to the magnet. Later, as I began to study a little bit of physics, I understood that opposite poles attract. Now I know that; why they do, I don't know.

I know a little bit about electricity. Enough not to put my finger in a socket. I know that we can project, and this I don't know whether or not the electrical charges are going in the wire or around the wire, that I don't know. But I know that they can be transmitted along a wire. And I understand a little bit about alternate currents and direct currents, but just how it works, I'm not sure. I know that the laws are there, and I learned to have used to advantage those laws. I know that gravity is a natural law, that it works. I know not to defy it. Now why it is that mass attracts, I don't know. But I know it does.

The same with spiritual laws that are also established by God within the universe. And though I can't explain how they work, I know they do. And so, you learn to live by these laws. You learn to follow these laws, and to reap the results. Now, I know that there is a spiritual law that declares, "Give, and it shall be given unto you, measured out, pressed down, running over" ( Luke 6:38 ). Now, just how it is that the more you give to God the more you receive, I don't know how that operates. But Paul brings out this spiritual law here.

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully ( 2 Corinthians 9:6 ).

Now that's the spiritual law. And when you put it like this, I can begin to understand it a little bit how the more you give, the more you'll get. For Paul here puts it in a framework that I can begin to understand a bit. If I am sowing wheat in the field, it stands to reason the more seed I sow, the greater harvest I will have. Now, if I want to be very careful about how I sow, and just take the seeds and toss them out here and there, then I'm only going to have little wheat shoots here and there. I'm not going to have much of a harvest. But if I go out and sow just abundantly, then I'm going to reap an abundant harvest. So, putting it in that kind of a framework, I can begin to understand a little bit how the more you give, the more you get. The more God returns, the greater the harvest.

And so, Paul brings it over into this law of giving, saying that if you sow sparingly, you're going to reap sparingly. But if you will sow bountifully, then you will reap bountifully. That is a law of God. Interesting, it is the only law that God challenges you to prove. A lot of people say, "I'm going to prove God now." But God has only challenged you to prove Him in one area, and that is in this law of giving. And God said, "Prove me now herewith, saith the LORD, and see if I will not pour out unto you a blessing that you cannot contain" ( Malachi 3:10 ). And that proving Him is in the giving to God of tithes and offerings.

So there is a basic law, it works. I can't explain how it works. All I can do is assure you that it does work. God says prove me and see if it doesn't. Only in the one area of giving. Now,

Every man ( 2 Corinthians 9:7 )

And here is how we are to give, "Every man"

according as he has purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity [out of pressure]: for God loveth a cheerful [hilarious] giver ( 2 Corinthians 9:7 ).

And that's what the Greek word means. God takes it as a personal affront, and I would, too, if I were God. When someone gives Him something, and then gripes about it. You ever had someone give you something, and then they go around and they complain and you know, about what they gave to you? Giving grudgingly. My feeling is always, "Keep it, man. I don't want it." You know, I don't like gifts with strings attached. Many times, things are given to the church, and I really don't like to question motives, but sometimes people sort of have let it slip. "You know, this chair was given to us by our grandmother, and we don't want to get rid of it. We don't really have any use for it. We don't really want it, but we thought we'd give it to the church, you know, because we don't want to throw it away." And then it becomes our obligation to put it someplace and to keep it for grandma's sake, you know.

But God doesn't want you to give anything to Him begrudgingly. You know, with an all right-I'll-give-it-to-you kind of an attitude. And God as much as says, "Hey, keep it. I don't want it; I don't need it."

Nor does God want your gift to be by pressure. Someone really putting the pressure on you, you know. Everybody's looking now to see what you're going to give. And God doesn't want the gift to come by necessity, by constraint, by pressure. But what you give to God, which God receives and accepts, is that which you give with just a cheerful heart. Giving hilariously. "Lord, you know, here." I love it, to give to God just. It's a joy to be able to give. And only that should you really give to God. That which is given hilariously, because it is only that which God really respects and honors. So you're better off to keep it than to give under pressure, constraint or grudgingly. You're better, really, off to keep it, and you would be better off if you'll just keep it. And only give what you can give with a hilarious heart because of your love for Him. So, "Every man as he has purposed in his own heart, so let him give."

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 ( 2 Corinthians 9:8 ):

That is God's return now to you. You have given to God hilariously. God will never be a debtor to you. Remember that. God will never be a debtor to man. As the scripture said, "Who hath given, and it has not been recompensed unto him again?" ( Romans 11:35 ) And as Jesus said, "Give and it shall be given, measured out, pressed down, running over," because God's not going to be your debtor. So, "God is able to make all grace abound toward you," taking care of all of your needs, "every good work."

(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever ( 2 Corinthians 9:9 ).

And so, he puts together here, actually, some of the psalms in this verse, "has dispersed abroad; given to the poor: his righteousness remains."

Now he that ministereth seed to the sower [or God] both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness:) ( 2 Corinthians 9:10 )

And so God, who gives the seed to the sower, gives us the bread. May He multiply the seed that you have sown, and just increase your fruits.

Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God ( 2 Corinthians 9:11 ).

And so, may God just return to you riches untold.

For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God ( 2 Corinthians 9:12 );

So, it doesn't just . . . it has a two-fold purpose. It takes care of their need, but it also creates a praise in their hearts to God. And so the people who are receiving, as they receive the gifts that you have given, they're going to be giving God thanks. And so through your giving, actually, you are provoking a lot of thanksgiving to be directed unto God. As people go away and say, "Oh, thank You, God. Oh, praise the Lord. Lord, You've taken care of our needs and all." And these praises are going to God, and they are actually praises that have resulted from your giving. I think that's really a beautiful way to look at the giving. In the fact that it is going to bring blessing to other people who, in turn, will give thanks to God for those blessings. And so your giving is not only just taking care of their needs, but it's being the cause for bringing praise and rejoicing unto the Father.

While by the experiment of this ministration [ministry] they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; And by their prayer for you ( 2 Corinthians 9:13-14 ),

And of course, they, in turn, having received, will pray for you,

which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift ( 2 Corinthians 9:14-15 ).

So we're talking about giving to God, but yet, you think of what God has given unto us: that unspeakable gift of Jesus Christ. And what was the motive behind it? "God so loved the world that He gave" ( John 3:16 ).

And so the motive behind our giving must be love. Our love for God. And any other motive is not really valid. Give because you love the Lord. Give what you purpose in your heart. What you can give hilariously, that give unto God and God will bless you abundantly for it. So the rule's really about giving. And I want that those rules should apply here.

Really, I don't want you to give unless you are motivated by the love of the Lord within your heart, and give only as you purpose in your own heart to give. Never feel pressured. Never feel constrained. We'll never come to you pleading for funds for God's work. We'll close the doors before we do that. If things should get bad financially and all, and we start really going down the tubes, we'll just close the door. We won't come up and send you letters and say, "Well, we're really in desperate straits," and all that. We'll just close the doors, and I'll head for Hawaii or something. Don't feel sorry for us.

"Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift." Oh, God is so good to us, and in His love He has given us so much, not only Christ, but that gift that is through Christ of the hope for the eternal kingdom and those riches in glory that are ours through Christ Jesus. You know, Christ is just sort of, in a sense, the obvious, but with Christ there comes so much. You know, the fringe benefits never quit. They go on and on and on and on and on. But they all come to us through Christ. "Grace and peace"--oh, these glorious gifts of God. How do I receive them? Through Christ--"be multiplied to you through our Lord Jesus Christ" ( 2 Peter 1:2 ). So He is the gift that really opens the door for all of these gifts that God bestows upon us.

Now Paul has finished his section upon the giving for the poor saints in Jerusalem and he goes on to other things. And these other things are very sober and serious things. Again, he deals with the challenge of his apostleship that was made by those in Corinth. There was a faction in Corinth that were against Paul, and this factious group tried to turn other people against Paul.

Divisions within the church are always an ugly thing. When people begin to align themselves with man or with some system of teaching, rather than with Jesus Christ. And so often when people create these divisions, rather than just saying, "Well, let's start something new," they have to somehow give a rationale for starting something new by tearing down the old and by finding fault and by saying things against Paul.

And so these factions were at work. Always an ugly thing in the body of Christ. And so, Paul now is writing to these factious groups, addressing himself to the criticism that was made of him by these who sort of set themselves up as spiritual authorities. And there's always those around, you know, who pretend to have a greater spiritual insight and a greater spiritual understanding.

They go around with sort of putting off this aura of, "Well, brother, when you really arrive at, you know, the degree that I am, you will understand these things. I can understand now, you just are not ready for these things. But as you mature and grow, then you can understand these deeper things of God." And these malarkey that they come off with, you know. And so, as though they are more spiritual, have greater insight. And you poor peons, someday maybe you'll arrive, but in the meantime, we feel sorry for you. Trying to bolster their own cause by tearing down others.

There is, they used to have the "Confucius say." I don't know if Confucius said all the things he's attributed to having said, but I can remember one of the "Confucius says" when I was a kid. And it used to be, you know, one of the popular things, "Confucius say," you know, "Many men smoke but few men chew." One of the things that they used to say. But there is another saying attributed to Confucius, and probably more accurate. And it was, "Confucius say, Man who throws mud loses ground." I like that. You see, you can't really throw mud without getting your hands dirty and losing ground.

They were throwing mud at Paul. Paul seeks now in the next few chapters to defend himself, as though he needed to defend himself. It's tragic that Paul was put in this posture. And Paul is embarrassed by it. He's more or less forced now to say things he doesn't want to say. These are things that were between he and the Lord. These are things that he endured for Christ's sake, willingly, gladly. Things that he didn't go around, you know, trumpeting all over the land. But now he's more or less forced, because of his position being challenged by these evil people in Corinth, to reveal some of the things whereby his apostleship is really proved.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 9". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/2-corinthians-9.html. 2014.
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