Paul's 2nd Letter to the Corinthians and Paul's Letter to the Ephesians

October 24, 2014

Tom Lowe

The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians

 


III. Appeal of Paul’s Ministry. (8:1–9:15.)                        

               Lesson III.B:Faithfulness Exhorted. (8:6-15)

                       Part-2: Follow Christ’s example. (Verse 9)

Faithfulness Exhorted.

            Part-1: The example of the Macedonian Churches. (Verses 6-8)

            Part-2: Follow Christ’s example. (Verse 9)

            Part-3: Paul challenges the Corinthian believers. (Verses 10-12)

            Part-4: Paul tells them to give to set a precedent. (Verses 13-15)

 

2nd Corinthians 8:9 (NKJV)

9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

 

We continue with the narrative of the Corinthian church’s contribution to the fund for the relief of the poor and needy Christians in Jerusalem.

 

The apostle begins his plea with these words, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ:” he counts on their knowledge of the grace of Christ, and appeals to it. He does not expect Christian virtues from those who have not had the Christian experience, and these Corinthians to whom he is writing have only just emerged from a pagan society. We cannot get golden conduct out of leaden motives. Paul’s appeals are always based on the highest motives, on loyalty to Christ, and gratitude for what God has done. It is to the grace of Christ that the Corinthians, like all Christians, owe their salvation. No Christian can ever call himself a self-made man.

 

The Corinthian church—a wealthy church—had pledged a great deal of money, but they had not yet given any of it. Paul was concerned that they might never get around to giving what they had promised, so he gave them two examples of generous giving. In the preceding verses of this chapter, Paul had given them the first example (model); the poor Macedonian Christians who had enthusiastically given beyond what they could afford. Then in this verse, Paul gave the Corinthians another model—Jesus Himself. Although the Macedonians had shown a great amount of generosity in the past, their sacrifice couldn’t compare with Jesus’ giving of Himself.

 

“Though He was rich,” Jesus became poor for the Corinthians’ sakes by generously giving up His rights as God and becoming human. Although He is God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, is as rich as God is rich, and possesses all the privileges, power, authority, sovereignty, glory, honor, majesty, and wisdom of God (John 1:1-14), He gave up all of that. He voluntarily became a man called Jesus of Nazareth. “He became poor” when He became a human, because He set aside so much. He was a heavenly King, and He humbled Himself to become a servant of lowly human beings. He even voluntarily surrendered Himself to death on a cross, like a common criminal—it was the cruelest and most humiliating death known at that time. Yet by doing so, he made all who believe in Him rich. Christians have not only been saved through His self-sacrificing actions, they have also been accepted into God’s family [“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).].  That means that they have a glorious, eternal inheritance in heaven [“while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).].

 

Why did Jesus willingly give up so much? The reason is revealed in the final clause; “that you through His poverty might become rich.” This suggests that we were poor before we met Jesus Christ, and we were—totally bankrupt. But now that we have trusted in Him, we share in all His riches. We are now the children of God.  Believers become spiritually rich through the sacrifice and impoverishment of Christ [“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Ephesians 2:5-8).].  They became rich in salvation, forgiveness, peace, joy, glory, honor, and majesty [“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge. (1 Corinthians 1:4, 5).]. They became joint heirs with Christ [“and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:17).].

 

Few verses surpass verse 9 as a concise summary of the Gospel [“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).]. From the splendor of heaven, Christ came to the squalor of earth. The One who “was rich,” who had everything, “became poor,” making himself nothing (Philippians 2:7). He assumed mankind’s debt of sin and paid for it with His life (Philippians 2:8). The Corinthians had directly benefitted from His generosity. He became what they were (poor), so they could become what He was and is (rich). Therefore, was it too much to ask for a material blessing from them?

 

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