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

November 5, 2014

Tom Lowe

The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians

 


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

               Lesson III.C:Faithfulness Exhorted. (8:6-9:15)

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

 

      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 8:13-15 (NKJV)

Part-4

13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.

14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality,

15 as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."

 

 

Commentary

 

13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.

 

The Jerusalem Christians had been poor for some time. About a decade before this collection, the believers in Antioch had sent Paul and Barnabas with some monetary relief for the church at Jerusalem. Palestine had been hit with a severe famine, and apparently the believers in Jerusalem were in great need (see Acts 11:27-30). Most likely, the Jerusalem Christians remained extremely poor because of their social ostracism[1].

 

Again Paul seeks to remove any idea that too heavy a burden is being placed on the Corinthians. He does not mean “others” should “be relieved” from the strain of heavy giving and you Corinthians be burdened with large financial obligations. That would be like robbing Peter to pay Paul! A guiding principal for material and monetary giving among churches is “equality.” Paul is saying that a burden should not be placed on anyone. It would be unwise for a Christian to go into debt in order to relieve somebody else’s debt, or cause hardship for his family by giving more than he could afford; unless, of course, he was able to handle the responsibility of paying the debt back. Paul saw an equality in the whole procedure: the Gentiles were enriched spiritually by the Jews, so the Jews should be enriched materially by the Gentiles: “Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way” (Romans 15:25-28).

 

Paul no doubt approved of the Jerusalem church’s early efforts in meeting each other’s needs by having everything in common: “And all that believed were together, and had all things common” (Acts 2:44). This expressed their mutual concern for all members of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:25). This principal is modeled after a divine pattern. When God gave food to the Israelites in the wilderness He did so equally according to their needs (Exodus 16:16-18). The church should not do less. The golden rule is, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” not more than thyself.

 

 

14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality,

 

This verse describes God’s program for the relief of want in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord’s purpose is that whenever a need exists in one area among Christians, then there should be a flow of funds from other areas to that needy spot. The constant flow and interflow[2] of funds would result in an equality among the churches world-wide. Thus, at the time of Paul’s writing there would be a flow of funds from Corinth, Macedonia, and other places to Jerusalem.

 

Verse 14 may complete the statement of verse 13: “but that” you should give so that “there might be equality.” However, they may be joined with what follows in verse 14. In either case, verse 14 explains what is meant by “equality”: Christians should share their resources, those who have more sharing with those who have less. The term “equality” could also be translated “balance” or “equilibrium.” The idea is that in the body of Christ some believers who have more than they need should help those who have far less than they need, which is the premise of 1 Timothy 6:17, 18: “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share.” This is NOT, however, a scheme of Paul’s to redistribute wealth within the church, but rather to meet basic needs. It has been suggested that, as in Romans 15:27, this verse means the Gentile-Christian church should give financial help to the Jerusalem Jewish-Christians in return for the gift of the Gospel that has come to the Gentiles from the Jewish Christians. But the return the Jewish Christians are to make is mentioned as something that will follow the giving of the Corinthians. So the meaning seems to be that you now, at the present time, are to meet their need, and at some future time, if you have need, the Jewish Christians (or other Christians) will share with you. No church, and no individual, can tell when it’s time of hardship and need may come. The reference to “your plenty” makes it clear that the Corinthian Christians, though mainly from the lower classes of society (1 Corinthians 1:26), are financially better off than most Christians; it is implied throughout the entire passage (see verse 2) that they are more prosperous than the Macedonian Christians, who had to endure persecution with its inevitable financial losses. Furthermore, the Gentile churches at that time were enjoying some measure of material wealth, while the believers in Judea were suffering. That situation could one day be reversed. There might come a time when the Jewish believers were assisting the Gentiles.

 

In the end, the giving and the receiving of money would tie the entire church together. Each would be dependent on the other. Just as the Gentiles had been dependent on the Jewish Christians for the wonderful message of salvation, the Jews would be dependent on the Gentiles for financial support. Each part’s need would be met with the other’s strength, so the entire church would be built up.

 

 

15 as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."

 

The Israelites spent forty years in the wilderness. During that time they could not find enough food to feed all of their number. So God provided food from heaven; manna. These thin, white flakes appeared on the ground every morning. Paul gives the example of the gathering of the manna in the wilderness, to show a biblical basis for his idea of economic equality among Christians; those with more than others should share. Each person was to gather enough for one day. Some man might go out with several baskets and say, “Let’s just fill them up. I’ll gather bushel baskets of manna while I can.” He would go out and greedily gather up much more than he needed. What would happen? After he had eaten what he needed for that day, he would find that all the rest had spoiled by the next morning. The collecting of the manna by the Israelites in the wilderness was an appropriate illustration of sharing of resources. Some were able to gather more than others, and apparently shared it so that no one lacked what he needed. The lesson is clear: gather what you need, share what you can, and don’t try to hoard God’s blessings. It was God’s plan that each one should have just enough and no more. God will see to it that you will not be in need if you trust Him and obey His Word.

 

We will learn in chapter 9, verse 6, that “. . . He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” I think that God will begin to deal with you as you have been dealing with Him. I think that God keeps books. He does not put us under Law because He wants our giving to be a grace, a passion, and a desire to share. It should be a joyful experience. You should be able to say to fellow believers, “You ought to listen to the pastor. He’s talking about the most wonderful privilege in the world. He’s telling us how we can be happy by giving.” That may sound crazy to you, but that is exactly what Paul is saying here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


[1] Exclusion, by general consent, from social acceptance, privileges, friendship, etc.

[2] To flow into each other; intermingle.

Make a free website with Yola