About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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ch. 8:1-15    ch. 8:16 - 9:5    ch. 9:6-15 

Generosity Encouraged  (ch. 8:1 - 15)


Before starting with verse 1, we need to realize that both chapters 8 and 9 are a unit.  The subject of this unit is giving, and inparticular, the  giving of money.


Right away I need to say that Paul does not use the word tithing here or anywhere in his letters.  As a matter of fact, the word tithing is not used in the New Testament except when it is used in a few places, and there, it is used in connection with the Old Testament. 


The background to this chapter can be seen in the book of Acts when Paul visited various churches to collect money for the poor saints in Jerusalem .  So when Paul encourages the Corinthians to give, it is for this purpose.    


Paul makes a major shift in his train of thought at this point in his letter.  He was encouraging the Corinthians, building them up in the last chapter, and now he's coming with them with a request to give to the poor saints in Jerusalem .


In verse 1 Paul refers to the churches of Macedonia, which was a Roman  province north of Corinth.  He says that they received "grace" from God.  We will see that this grace was the ability to give.  It's part of New Testament thinking concerning giving, no matter what kind of giving it is. 


Here we need to understand grace, not as unmerited favour, but as the divine ability to do the will of God. Grace is used in both ways in the New Testament.  We cannot do God's will in our own strength.  We are too depraved to do so.  Therefore, God gives us grace, or, He gives us the ability to do what He wants us to do.  That is what is meant here in verse 1. 


The next few verses that follow concerning the way in which the Macedonian churches gave financially, in my opinion, clearly teaches how Christians should view giving.  


In verse 2 we note that the Macedonian churches were going through many trials.  They were in fact extremely poor.  They were poverty stricken.  Yet, even in their poverty they felt it a great joy to give what they could give.  Being in such a poor financial state makes it clear that they needed God's grace to give. 


We need to note that these Christians were very poor, even though they were Christians.  I say this in light of the teaching concerning “prosperity”.  Prosperity teaching teaches that Christians should not be poor but wealthy. Those holding to this teaching say that if you have sufficient faith, you should be able to expect material blessings and wealth from God.  None of us needs to be poor, that is, if you have lots of faith.  I'm sure that these  Macedonian Christians had faith.  This only goes to prove that the so-called "Prosperity Gospel" is not New Testament thinking.         


Note the joy these people had wasn't simply joy, it was "overflowing joy".  It was ecstatic joy.  It was a visible joy.  


Even though these Christians were very poor, they gave with “rich generosity”.  As seen in verse 3, they gave “as much as they were able and even beyond their ability”.   This says lots about the dedication these people had to Jesus.  It reminds me of the poor widow that Jesus spoke about.  She gave her last penny away and Jesus commended her for it.  Again, this is New Testament thinking concerning giving.   


Note here that the financial giving was to people, and especially brothers in the Lord, who are in need.  It is my thinking that much of our giving in the modern church only goes to serve ourselves, and not those who need it most.  Much of our money goes to our buildings and our organizations that serve us more than those outside of our ranks.  I think we need to think about where we give.  We need to give responsibly.  Also note here that Paul is not talking about tithing. Paul says nothing about tithing in his writings.  If you believe that Paul wrote the book of Hebrews, that book does speak about tithing, but it is in the context of the Old Testament.  Paul speaks about giving generously according to the ability you have to give.  I believe this is New Testament thinking on giving.  I don't believe tithing is a New Testament concept.  I won't explain that because I've done that elsewhere.  


Another thing to note here is that these Macedonian churches were Gentile churches.   They were being encouraged to give to a Jewish church that often had reservations about Gentile Christians.     


The words "entirely on their own" tells us something else about New Testament thinking.  We shouldn't have to be told to give.  We should simply see the need and give accordingly.  This is what the apostle John says in 1 John 3:17.  He tells his readers not to give in word alone.  Saying "I love you" is not good enough.  Love is not love unless it is demonstrated in actions and according to the truth of the gospel.       


Note the word "pleaded"  in verse 4.  I can't be certain, but because of the Macedonian's poverty, these people might have pleaded with Paul to give because he might have told him it was okay.  They didn't have to give any more.                 


Paul says in verse 5 that these people ‘urgently pleaded with us to share” in this giving.  Paul may not have even asked for a financial gift, or maybe he did but did not expect their eager response.  They “pleaded’ with Paul in this matter of giving. I suppose most pastors would like such a congregation.  The Macedonian churches viewed this giving as a “privilege”, something they did not have to do, but really wanted to do.  It is hard for me to even imagine that people are so willing to give that they plead with Paul to give.   As a youth I remember just the opposite.  I remember long drawn out appeals that could last a half our when the offering was taken up in a Sunday morning service.  I also remember multiple offerings in some services.   The pastor was the one doing the pleading, not those in the pew.  


In verse 5 Paul says that they “did not do as he expected”, meaning, these Christians went farther then what Paul anticipated.  “They first gave themselves to the Lord and then to us”, Paul says.  Part of the proof of these people giving themselves to Jesus was seen in their giving to him and their brothers in the Lord.  As Christians, we don't only relate to Jesus.  We relate to our brothers and sisters in Jesus as well.  The love we claim to have for Jesus should be seen in the love we have for those who whom Jesus has joined us.  Again, the apostle John hammers this home throughout his first letter.  If we say we love God, he says, and don't show that love to our brothers, we have no love for God.    


Another way of saying what I just said is this.  To the degree we give ourselves to the Lord, will be the degree in which we give ourselves to others from pure motives.  Our relationship with Jesus is primary in our lives, but if it is not seen in how we relate to others, and especially our brothers in Christ, then we can question the validity of the relationship with Jesus that we claim.


In verse 6 Paul alludes to the fact that Titus was involved somehow in the encouragement of the Corinthian church in giving as well.  It appears that the Corinthian church might have promised Titus that they would give.  Now Paul wanted to see that commitment come about. 


In verse 7 Paul recognized that the Corinthians were growing in “faith, speech, knowledge and love", all the things he spoke concerning them in the last chapter.  Now he wants them to also grow in their “grace of giving”.  This term that Paul uses, that is, “grace of giving” is important.  It takes God’s grace to give to such a degree as the Macedonians gave.  Grace is inherently involved in giving.  We have received grace from God and therefore His grace should encourage and enable us to give graciously as well.  Earlier Paul said that the Macedonians gave with “joy”.  Jesus tells us to give with joy.  The attitude in which we give is important.  If we do not give with joy, I am not sure that God is pleased with our giving.  Yes, the recipients of our giving may be happy, but it will accomplish nothing for us. God loves a cheerful giver.


I think the term "grace of giving" is the simple way of describing New Testament giving.  We give, but to give in accordance to what Jesus would have us give, requires His grace, His divine ability to do as He wants.


In verse 8 Paul tells us why he brought the Macedonians into the discussion in his letter.  He hopes by comparing the Corinthians with the Macedonians, this will encourage the Corinthians to give as well.  Paul tells his readers that he is not commanding them to give.  He is merely encouraging them to give.  As he puts it, “this is a test of your love”.  If we say we love, we will give in whatever way we can.  Love without practical giving is not love.


Note the word "test" in verse 8.  There are two Greek words in the New Testament that are translated into English as "test".  Both words have to do with metallurgy, that is, the testing of metal.  One of these Greek words means "to test in order to destroy", as the devil would test, or temp, people.  The other Greek word translated as "test is to "test in order to make strong or purify".  This is the testing God does to his people.  This second use of the word test is what Paul uses here.  He in fact is testing the Corinthians for one reason only, and that is to strengthen their love for Jesus and others.  This should not be interpreted as a test of obedience to him as some more dictatorial types might think.  This is proved by the words" I am not commanding you" that begins verse 8.    


The simple fact is this.  We know how much we love God by how we love others.   


After comparing the Corinthians to the Macedonians, Paul compares them to Jesus Himself.  In verse 9 he uses Jesus as an example by saying, that Jesus “though He was rich, He became poor for your sakes, so that you through His poverty might become rich”.  This is the example for us to follow.  This is where the "Prosperity Gospel" goes wrong.


What does Paul mean when he says that Jesus became poor so that we might become rich ? Prosperity people would use this verse in their defense.  Does this mean that we should all be rich due to the fact that we are Christians?  Should we expect to be rich because Jesus became poor?


In context I believe the riches that Jesus had included some kind of material wealth, however that would look like in heaven.  I'm not sure we can even call what He had in heaven material wealth.  Beyond this, Jesus was spiritually rich, especially in His relationship with His father.  Jesus left lots when He came to earth.  Be sure, Jesus was materially poor while living on earth.  Beyond this poverty, His relationship with His Father was not what it was while in heaven.  He makes this clear in his prayer found in John 17.  The whole realm of angels were not at His disposal as they might have been in heaven.  Jesus gave up lots when He came to earth.  Jesus did all this for our benefit.


Because of what Jesus gave up, we now can be rich, but does this simply mean financial wealth?  No.  Jesus gave up more than material wealth.  He gave up an abundance of spiritual wealth and I believe it is this wealth that Paul is speaking of here.  We become wealthy in a spiritual sense.


I believe the abundant life Jesus speaks of in John10 is not material life in this age.  The abundant life that Jesus promises us is in fact spiritual life and the life to come once we find ourselves in eternity.   


Besides all of the above, we need to understand what rich might mean in Paul's mind.  I'm not quite sure we can know that for sure.  Rich for Paul might well be middle class for us.      


Note the word "advice" in verse 10.  This is not a command but advice.  I think I can safely say, that because of my belief that the Bible is God's inspired Word, Paul's advice, at least to us, is God's will.     


In verses 10 and 11 Paul offers the Corinthians some “advise”.  He says that “last year you were not only the first to give but you had a desire to do so”.  These people were really willing to give of their money for the cause.  But now Paul wants them to finish what they have started, complete what they have pledged to give, “according to your means”.  Note the use of the phrase, “according to your means”.  Even though the Macedonians gave “beyond their ability”, Paul only expects people to give according to their ability.  If you want to go farther than that, that is your decision, but at least give “according to your means”.


In verses 11 and 12 Paul continues by saying that the “willingness” to give is the important thing.  If you are willing to give according to your means and you do so, that is what God desires.  He specifically says that we should give according to what we have, “not according to what we don’t have”.   If you only have ten dollars, and would really like to give twenty dollars, you should not feel bad about giving your ten dollars.


Paul says that "if the willingness is there the gift is acceptable".  The simple point here is that even though the gift is given to people, God accepts and recognizes it if it is given willingly, without being constrained for forced to give.  Giving should never be forced on anyone.  Paul is not forcing the giving here. He is encouraging the Corinthians to do as they said they'd do, and that is, to give.  


In all that Paul says here about giving, he never uses the word tithe, or a tenth.  He uses the phrases “giving according to your means”, or ‘according to what you have, not what you don’t have”.  I think that sometimes when I teach this aspect to giving, some use it as an excuse to give less or not give at all.  That should not be the case.  Like with all Old Testament Laws, the New Testament thinking that corresponds to these laws, tithing included, goes way beyond the laws.  


In verse 13 Paul states the reason why he wants people to give.  He says that he wants “equality” among the believers.  He does not want the Corinthians to become poor because of their giving.  He wants all Christians to live by a median income, a type of equality. 


Some over the years have seen this verse as a form of socialism, or even communism, but that's not Paul's point.  The giving that leads to equality here is not forced giving.  It's giving based on our heart's desire to give, a heart that has been blessed by Jesus.  There is no hint of socialism and communism here that is forced on you by one in authority. 


In verse 14 Paul explains what he means by "equality".  At the moment the Corinthians plenty would supply what the poor Christians need, and in turn their plenty would supply what you need.  Paul did believe in equality.  Communists would often quote Paul on this point, but Paul was not a dictatorial  communist.  Yes, he believed in equality, but he believed in the joyful and free exchange of money and resources in order to bring everyone on the same level.  He did not use any dictatorial influence.  He only asked and encouraged such giving based on what Christians had received from God. 


The Corinthians at the moment had extra.  They could afford to give to the poor saints in Jerusalem .  Maybe someday the poor Jewish saints would return the favour, or maybe they could return the favour by giving in some other way at the present time.


In verse 15 Paul backs up his point by quoting from Exodus 16:18 which says, “he that gathered much did not have too much, and he that gathered little did not have too little”.  Whether you worked hard and gathered little or lots, the end result in Paul’s mind should be equality of material wealth and enough to get by.


Titus Sent To Corinth (ch. 8:16 – 9:5)


In verse 16 through 18 Paul relates to the Corinthians Titus’ concern that he has for them.  This concern was not as a result of Paul’s influence, but a genuine heart felt concern he had.  Paul was going to send Titus back to Corinth along with another unnamed, but  well respected person.  This unnamed person was chosen by many of the churches to accompany Paul and his fellow workers with the financial contribution they collected for the poor saints in Jerusalem .


Note the words, "God put into the heart of Timothy".  All that is necessary for us as Christians to do the will of God must be put into our hearts.  Being the depraved people that we are, we are not capable on our own to serve the Lord as we should.  Thus, what Paul says is one very important Biblical truth; "God put into the heart of Timothy"; God puts into our hearts as well.      


Paul says that the collection of this money is meant to “honour the Lord Himself”.  This is a Scriptural principle, that is, we honour the Lord by honouring others. 


In verses 19 and 20 we see that it was the churches that chose this unnamed man who would accompany Paul and those with him with such a large some of money.  It seems that this man was specifically chosen to keep and eye on things to see this money got to where it was supposed to go without any hint of misappropriating these funds.  Clearly, this is an example for present day financial matters in the church.  What Paul was saying here is what we call "transparity", or, "accountability", these days.  


Concerning the special gift of money, Paul says in verse 21 that he wants “to do what is right”.  He also says in verse 20 that he wants to “avoid any criticism”, thus the reason for this well respected person that was chosen by the churches to accompany Paul on his journey.  Paul took his work seriously.  He knew well that he would encounter criticism if there was not an outsider, well liked by all, to keep watch over him and his companions.  I am sure Paul would have handled the money properly, but in order to  avoid false criticism from without, he submitted himself to the watchful eye of someone else.   He said that he did not only want to do “right in the eyes of the Lord, but also in the eyes of men”. 


Note the words "we are taking pains" in verse 21.  Paul is saying that he is going beyond any reasonable means to make sure nothing happens with this money, or, nothing can be perceived as happening with the money.  The word "pain" is a strong word here.  Paul is going out of his way, causing himself undue trouble, so to speak, in order not to be criticized.  


Paul was really concerned not to do anything that would bring disgrace to Jesus or the gospel.  This was a very strong motivation in his life, and should be in ours as well, but often is not.   


In verse 22 Paul says that he is sending a second man who is unnamed  along with Titus.  This second unnamed man has “proved himself in many ways”.  Who this man was, we just don't know.


In verse 23 Paul calls Titus “a partner and fellow worker”, while he calls the other unnamed men representatives of the churches.  Paul is making a clear distinction between Titus and these representatives.  You can see how these other men are less known by Paul.  They're not real close friends, not real close brothers who are used to serving Jesus with Paul in ministry.    


In verse 24 Paul gives the Corinthians a bit of an admonishment.  He tells them to prove to these church representatives that what we say about you is true, meaning, give to the cause as you said you would. 


In chapter 9, verse 1, Paul says that he doesn't have to remind them concerning this "service to the saints".  It was an issue that had been well discussed.  The Corinthians had promised to give, and now it was time to do as they said they would.  Notice how Paul puts it; "service to the saints".  I like that.  It is our Biblical responsibility to "serve the saints".  As a matter of fact, the way I see it, is that the New Testament teaches Christians to first serve the saints over those in the world.  If a brother has need and one in the world has need, you try to help both, but the brother in Christ comes first.   Paul confirms this in Galatians 6:10 with the words "especially to those who belong to the family of believers".     


In verse 2 we see hints of what's going on here.  The Corinthians had promised to give a year ago.  The Macedonians had already given to the cause.  Paul was boasting to both the Macedonians and the Corinthians about each other as a means to encourage each group to give.  It appears that the Corinthians were a bit slower in giving, thus the reason for this part of the letter.  Some people would say it's not a good idea to compare one Christian to another, or, to compare one church to another, and they might have a point, but Paul seems to be doing that here, at least in my thinking. 


Notice the name "Achaia" in verse 2.  There is some debate why Paul is using "Achaia", which is a Roman province, instead of Corinth .   All along this letter has been directed to the believers in Corinth , and now this verse seems to say the letter is being directed to many groups of believers scattered throughout the province of Achaia .  I have no answer to this other than Corinth might have been the largest body of believers in Achaia, and thus why the letter was primarily written to them, and then secondarily written to the smaller community of believers throughout the whole province.   


In verse 2 Paul is sending the brothers to collect on the promised gift of money the Corinthians said they would give.  In chapter 8 Paul was boasting of the Macedonians and their giving to this project to encourage the Corinthians to give as they said they would.  Here in verse  2 it is the other way around.  Paul is boasting about the Corinthians in order to encourage the Macedonians.  The basic reason for Paul's boasting and comparison between the two groups of believers was to be an encouragement to both groups.   


In verse 3 Paul tells the Corinthians that he is sending the brothers to them for one reason, and that is to make sure his boasting about their pledge to give won't be hollow.  In other words, He is going to make sure they give.


Paul, in verse 4,  is, at least in my thinking, twisting the arms of the Corinthians a bit.  He's basically saying that if some Macedonians ever come with him to Corinth , and they find out that the Corinthians haven't given after Paul said such good things about them, everyone, Paul and the Corinthians included, would be shamed.  Can you see that this is a bit of arm twisting?  


I think their is another point to be made at this point.  Paul doesn't care about him being shamed.  What Paul is doing here is encouraging these Corinthians to give, as they said they would.  If they didn't give, then they would be the ones shamed.  They'd be the ones that would be embarrassed and look bad in the eyes of the Macedonians, or anyone else were would come to collect this money.


Verse 5 might even be seen as more than arm twisting.  Paul clearly states that there are some brothers coming to visit them "in advance" of his coming.  They'd make sure that the gift was all ready to go when Paul got there.  Paul did not want to arrive in Corinth and see no financial gift ready for him to receive.  This tells me that even though Paul boasted about the Corinthians, he might have still had a bit of doubt about them actually giving as they promised.  This also tells me that Paul's boasting was to be an encouraging way to help them give.  You might say, an encouraging arm twits. 


Sowing Generously (ch. 9:6 – 15)



In this next section Paul continues on the theme of giving.  He says, “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, whoever sows generously will also reap generously”.  The sowing analogy is an agricultural one.  The more seeds you plant, the more chances of reaping a big harvest.  This is a sales principle as well in business.  If you want to sell something, the more contacts you make. the more chances you have in making a sale. 


Paul says that “each man should give according to what he had decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”.  A couple things should be noted here.  There is no talk about giving in accordance to obeying the Law of Moses.  There is o talk about tithing.  The individual should decide for himself how much he should give in this matter.  This is an individual matter of giving, that is decided in the heart of men.  You might say that before the Lord you decide what to give. You don’t give because someone is telling you to give.  You give because you want to give, and you do it cheerfully.  There is no undue pressure here.


Those who believe we should still be obedient to the Law of Moses, including the tithing laws, might suggest that this giving that Paul is talking about here is giving that is over and above the tithe.  They might suggest that these Christians were giving their tithe, but when it came to this special one time need, this giving was extra giving.  There is no proof to support this thinking.  I would conclude that this giving might well be over and above normal and regular giving, but I believe the normal regular giving was not based on the Law of Moses but on the same principle that Paul is teaching here, that is, give according to your ability; give generously and cheerfully.  Knowing what I believe is Paul's thinking concerning the Law of Moses, I believe I can safely say he never taught these Gentiles to give because they were forced to by the Law.   


Paul goes on to say in verse 8, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work".  What is Paul saying here?  Is he saying that if you give cheerfully, God will bless you financially?  This is partly true.  I believe Paul is saying that if you give from a cheerful heart God will look after you, yet at the same time he will help you “abound in every good work”.  This is important.  The emphases is not on the Lord blessing you because you give.  The emphases is on God giving you grace to do good works as you continue to give.  Financial blessings are secondary.  Good works are the primary result of giving.  Now there's a thought for the "Prosperity Gospel" folk. 


Note the words "all you need" in verse 8.  The Greek word this phrase is translated from means to "be self content", that is to say, "to be content with what one has".   Paul is not saying that God will make everyone rich who gives.  He is saying that God can make you content with that which you have.  There is a big difference between the two.  


Paul quotes from Psalm 112:9 to back up his point.  The quote reads, “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor….”  This is meant to be an encouragement to give to the poor that is among you.


Verse 10 may be a bit hard to understand.  We'll take it in two parts.  It might well be an illusion to Isaiah 55:11.  The first half of the verse  speaks of "He", meaning God, is the One who supplies seed for the sower and bread for the storehouse.  This is important.  This tells me that Paul understood all the he had, or even didn't have, was because of God.  If all we have comes from God, then all we have belongs to God and we are stewards of God's property.  If we see all that we have in this light, it should really make us think about how we should look after what we have.  It should also make us understand that not just a tenth belongs to God, suggesting ninety percent belongs to us, but rather, all one hundred percent of what we have belongs to God.  We're simply looking after it for Him. 


The second half of verse 10 might well be an illusion to Hosea 10:12.  Paul speaks of "the harvest of righteousness".  The point here is that God will give even more to those who give joyfully and generously in order to give more.  Paul is talking about a "harvest of righteousness" here.  He is not talking a harvest of wealth we can pile on for ourselves.  The point is made clear by his use of the word "righteousness".        


In verse 11 Paul says that “you will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous”.  Note that being rich is more than just financially, although it would include finances.  Yet the reason why you would be rich is in order to help the poor.  Can this verse be used as a “Prosperity Teaching” proof text?  Paul does seem to suggest that if the Corinthians give cheerfully that God will reward them in order to do more good works, in order to give again.  You must note then that if you are blessed by God, the blessing is meant to be passed on to others.  Yet at the same time this blessing is to be given to poor people, especially to poor brothers and sisters in Jesus, who are our first responsibility.     


Receiving blessings from the Lord for the sole purpose to give away to the poor isn't necessarily what prosperity teachers teach.  Many of them say in order to be a good witness for Jesus, in order to impress people that you are a Christian, you must drive the up-to-date car, have a nice house, and on it goes.  This thinking is far from Biblical.  If this were the case, then the apostle Paul impressed no one, and of course, I don't think he was wanting to impress people anyway.    


The idea that there are poor Christians would suggest that God does not bless everyone alike.  It is His prerogative or choice to bless whom He wishes.  This may be hard to understand.  Paul suggests here that if you give, the Lord will look after you, to the extent that you can give even more.  Yet at the same time there are poor Christians that need to be the recipients of this giving.  Why are these Christians poor?  Is the giving of money to them part of God’s blessing towards them?  Whatever the case, as Paulstated before, is interested in equality, not riches.


I'd suggest that you look around the next time you are in church, and see if there is financial equality among those who are sitting in the pews with you.  My guess is that there is not financial equality.  If that is the case, then your church is not following the Word of the Lord on this point.   Your church is probably not spending it's money properly, because I believe Paul would say that people come first.


Just to be clear: Paul says that if we give joyfully and generously, we will be made rich in every way.  The words "every way" speaks more than just in a financial way.  Our responsibility to fellow believers is more than just sending them a check in the mail.  It will often include us sacrificing time and effort in the process of supporting them.  Too often these days it is easier for us to send the check, but there's more to support than money.       


In verses 12 and 13 Paul says that there is a secondary result in being generous.  Yes, the people to whom you give money to will be helped, yet they will also thank God for the gift.  The thanking of God in Paul’s mind is just as important as the equality that results in the giving. He says that “men will praise God for your obedience”.  It is this expression of praise to God that is important in the mind of Paul, possibly even more than the equality that comes from giving. 


Part of verse 13 says that this “obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ …”  We should back up our confession with action.  If someone really has accepted the gospel of Christ, it should be evident in his actions.  This is what Paul is saying here.  The Corinthians have a confession of faith, therefore they should prove its validity by giving.


In verse 14 Paul says that those who receive the gift and see the love in action will not only give thanks to God but their hearts will go out to the one giving.  This is relational, another thing that Paul is very interested in. 


Paul has used the term "hearts go out" earlier in this letter.  When someone's heart goes out, it is a personal thing.  It's actually the process by which one exposes his heart and his life to another.  As I've said earlier, in part, this was one reason why Paul wrote this letter in the first place.  For a while, the Corinthians would not respond to Paul opening his heart and life to them.  He wanted the Corinthians to do as he did, that is, return the love by them opening their hearts and lives to him.  The giving of this gift of money would help the opening of people's hearts to each other.  I believe I can say I've experienced this.  On occasion,  when I needed money I didn’t have, and was blessed by someone who gave me the needed money, our hearts were net even closer together.     


We need to remember at this point to whom this gift of money was being given to.  It was being given to poor Jewish saints in Jerusalem , many of which might well have had a hard time with Gentile believers.  Thus, when they received this gracious gift, Paul's hope was that the divide between Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles would not be so bad.       


In verse 15 Paul ends this chapter by saying, “thanks be to God for His indescribable gift”.  The gift that Paul is talking about here is the gift of Salvation, and all that it encompasses.  This would include such things as Jesus Himself, the Holy Spirit, the present and future kingdom of God , among many other things.  If we have received this indescribable gift, then anything we have in the way of materialism isn't all that important.  We should view everything we have in light of the gift we have from God, that is, Jesus Himself.   


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