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ON "KEEPING ONE'S WORD!"

2nd CORINTHIANS 9:1-6

"For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: for I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many. Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready: 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. 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. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully."

 

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSON 1, VERSE 1:

"For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you."  2nd Corinthians 9:1

The Apostle Paul loved the Corinthians.

Many of them were saved under his preaching.

He had great hope for them as a congregation of Believers!  "Our hope of you is stedfast," he wrote in 2nd Corinthians 1:7.

His "care" for them was astounding!

Yet Paul also had burdens for other Churches and flocks too!

He even once mentioned this.  "Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches."  2nd Corinthians 11:28

That noun "care" (in Greek = "merimna") pictures things which "distract" or "pull apart" one's emotions and thoughts and concerns!

One extreme burden Paul had was for the suffering saints at Jerusalem.  They often lacked necessary items ... perhaps even food and proper clothing.

For some time Paul had wanted to receive a generous love offering from the Gentile churches to help the Jewish Christians in their time of need.

The Corinthians had apparently committed themselves to help in this vital matter.

But it seems that their commitment had nearly been forgotten!

They were on the verge of going back on their word!

Therefore Paul writes 2nd Corinthians 8 and 9, two whole chapters!

Here the great Apostle is teaching them (and us) how to give, when to give and why to give to the cause of Christ!

His loving treatment of them is astounding!

In essence our verse today, "For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you," is tantamount to writing something like this:  "Now, you folks know this.  It is not even necessary for me to remind you." He is leading up to mentioning the offering they had promised to give!

The word "touching" translates "peri," a Greek preposition meaning "concerning" or "surrounding" a certain thing.

The noun for "ministering" is the same word which gives us the Greek term "deacon."  That is ... one who serves others!  Get it?  NOT one who bosses others!  The root verb "diako" means "to run errands!

The "saints" ("hagios") are truly born-again Blood-washed Believers in Jesus Christ, set apart unto Him exclusively!

Paul loved to help other Christians!  He even went so far as to make them a priority!  "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."  (Galatians 6:10)  He is saying "be good to everybody, but particularly your brothers and sisters in Christ!"

Paul believed that by loving one another, we Christians exert a powerful testimony and influence for the sake of the Gospel!  He adopted Jesus' philosophy:  "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."  John 13:35

The adjective "superfluous" is in Greek "perissos" and means "in excess." Super-abundant!  Overflowing!  It in reality means "all around!"

Paul is modestly and kindly saying ... "I don't have to remind you" ... but really he did!

They were about to fail in faithfulness to their word!

In not keeping a promise!

And it is so important that we be truthful!  That our "yea" really be "yea!"

In fact, it's so important that Psalm 15 ... when mentioning some things that will keep us "stable" in the Christian life ... includes "He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not."  That means he who "does what he says!"  Psalm 15:4b

Can you today think of any "broken" promises you need to rectify?

I suspect we all can!

Well, you had better read no further if you have no intentions of making those things right!

That's what the rest of this Text is all about, keeping one's word!

                                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSE 2:

The Corinthians were apparently on the verge of breaking a promise!

They had earlier committed to participate in a "love offering" for the poor suffering Believers back in Jerusalem.

But, as Titus had recently reported to Paul, plans for such an endeavor had fallen by the wayside.

Our Text reveals how Paul tactfully reminded them of their vow!

Here again we see that Paul, at least when dealing with fellow Christians, seldom rebukes without also including some commendation in the message as well!

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

The verb "know" ("eido") implies God-given knowledge!  Not that which Paul acquired at the feet of Gamaliel, for example.  God has revealed to Paul the fact that the Corinthians were initially genuinely excited about financially helping their Brethren in Judea.

The "forwardness of their mind" is represented by a noun, "prothumia."  It means "passion" or strong emotional feeling ("thumos") possessed previously ("pro") by a group of people.  A predisposition!

To "boast" ("kauchaomai") is to brag on someone, to "glory" in them.  Paul had been telling of the Corinthians' unselfishness everywhere he went!

An unselfishness which now had seemed to disappear!

Macedonia, in Paul's day a mountainous country north of Greece proper, was the location of cities like Philippi and Thessalonica. 

Paul had apparently used the Corinthians' proposed generosity as an example to "spur" the giving of the Macedonians!

So ... the Achaians couldn't stop now!  Achaia was the area, the country, in which Corinth was located ... along with Athens and other cities.

The verb  "was ready" translates "paraskeuazo."  A "skueos" in Greek was a vessel or a pot or pan ready to be used in cooking or otherwise preparing a meal.  An implement, a tool, a piece of equipment!

That's what we Christian are to be, "tools" in the Master's Hand!

The "zeal" of the Corinthian Church, their ("zelos") hot passion, their burning desire to give ... had encouraged others to take part in this great offering of benevolence!

To "provoke" is to "stimulate!"  The word has a dubious background! "Erethizo" actually means to start a fight!  "Eris" in Greek means a quarrel or wrangling!

Is Paul here posing a "contest" between the two districts?  A "friendly" battle to see who can give more graciously to those suffering saints?

Forgive me this term, but here Paul's "psychology" is evident!

His way of handling the saved people so dear to his heart!

He is "inciting" them to good works!

He will later teach us all to ... "consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works."  Hebrews 10:24

I have a feeling the Corinthians, once receiving this challenging letter from Paul, went on a dramatic stewardship drive!

Talk about missions giving!

After all, Paul had earlier written that our giving is indeed "the proof of our love!"  2nd Corinthians 8:24

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSE 3:

Paul was a man with authority, God-given authority.  "For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction ...."  2nd Corinthians 10:8

He plans to send several brethren to Corinth ... in advance of his arrival.  "Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready."  2nd Corinthians 9:3

That verb "sent" is "pempo" in Greek.  It means to dispatch someone from one place to another.  These "brethren" were with Paul, probably at Philippi.  From there to Corinth was at least 250 miles.

These "brethren" were unnamed, but had to include at least two or three men. It seems that when Paul handled money, which was indeed the reason for this trip to Corinth, he always tried to keep it under the supervision of more than one man! This is wise! It lowers the threshold for temptation. And it increases accountability.

Why did Paul send these "brethren?"

To help the Corinthian Church with their love offering!  They apparently need a little "boost."  Paul had been bragging ("boasting" = "kauchema") about the Corinthians' generosity.  But they had nearly failed him!

The word for "vain" just means empty.  

The word "behalf" in reality is "meros" and means a "part" or "portion" of something.  The Church at Corinth did not have the burden of the whole love offering for the Christians in Judea.  They merely needed to do their part! That's all the Lord asks of any of us.

Then Paul uses a clause that is interesting, "as I said."  He often repeats things! Preachers must do so!  Twice in his Epistles he says:  "I told you before."  2nd Corinthians 13:2 and 1st Thessalonians 3:4

These men have come to help the Church be financially "ready" for Paul's arrival.  That verb "may be ready" translates "paraskeuazo" and means to be prepared as an "instrument" or a "vessel" or a "tool" ("skeuos"). 

Paul was a practical man of God!

And he urgently wanted this proposed love offering for the suffering saints in Jerusalem to be both generous and proper. 

                                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 4:

Paul is planning another trip to Corinth.

This, according to 2nd Corinthians 13:1, is his third time there.

When he comes he wants to collect the Corinthian "love offering" for the suffering Believers in Jerusalem.

And he will be bringing several additional Brethren with him too, men from Macedonia.

"Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me," says the Apostle.  (2nd Corinthians 9:4)  "Haply" (in Greek = "pos") just means "perhaps" or "by any means."

The fact that Paul has used the Corinthians as an "example" of voluntary generous faith "giving," even to the Macedonians, is important to remember here!

If the Apostle comes to Corinth, with his Philippian brethren alongside, and finds no offering collected, it will be embarrassing!

Both to him and to the Corinthians themselves!

He does not want "to find them unprepared!"

Here's the whole verse we're studying today:  "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."  2nd Corinthians 9:4

"Ashamed" means "disgraced" literally!

And the adjective "confident" which modifies Paul's "boasting" is spelled "hupostasis" in Greek.  It means that which is standing ("stasis") under ("hupo") something to brace and stabilize it!

Paul was SURE of the Corinthians' generosity!

In a unique way a certain amount of spiritual pressure is being applied here ... due to the unusual circumstances ... exclusively for the cause of Christ!

Paul is saying something like this.

You all in Corinth promised you would give to this fund for the needy!

Over a year ago you said so!

You have been slow to respond!

Now, get with the program!

Keep your word!

I'm sending some men on ahead to help get you started!

I don't want you ... or me ... to be embarrassed when other Christians see what little you've done, if anything!

Come on now!

Be generous!

Your mentor in Christ, Paul!

And I say, "Will the ushers come forward!"

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, VERSE 5:

Paul calls their proposed love gift to the poor saints at Jerusalem a "bounty!"

"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."  2nd Corinthians 9:5

What word pictures Paul uses!

In order, I think, to avoid too many stark financial terms ... the Apostle uses the word "eulogia" for the offering!  This "bounty" just means "a good word!"  It can mean a "blessing" too.

Did you ever think of a twenty dollar bill in  a folded sheet of paper and mailed to a needy Christian brother or sister as a "good word?"

Paul sure did ... and the Holy Spirit told him to use that term too!

The wording here indicates that Paul possible had to exert a little friendly "pressure" on two or three of the "brethren" to get them to come ahead of him to Corinth ... to aid with the "collection."

I say that because of the terms employed here. 

"Necessary" translates "anagkaios" and means under constraint, pressure being applied!  And the verb "exhort" suggests some mild persuasion just may have been involved too.

"To make up beforehand" is "prokatartizo" and means "ahead of time" ("pro") to "intensively" ("kata") refresh ("artios") the offering!  These men were sent to Corinth to be sure the offering was complete (or nearly so) when Paul arrived! Here is the only time this word is used in all the Bible!  That alone makes it special.

And this "visit" should not surprise the Corinthians either.  They had know for some time that the offering "deadline" was approaching.  Paul was going to Jerusalem to deliver it personally!

He says, "ye had notice before."   The verb "prokataggello" means to announce ahead of time, to heartily proclaim something in advance!

And the adjective "ready" ("hetoimos") means "fit" or "prepared."

Paul was expecting a spirit of generosity and love to surround this Corinthians adventure!  He wanted things done is an atmosphere of "bounty" ("eulogia" again, a "good word") ...and not one of "covetousness."  "Pleonexia" means to have or to hold ("echo") to more and more ("pleon")!  That's exactly what it is to covet!  To want more and more and then some more, never stopping! 

Christian giving is to be permeated by sweet liberality ... not selfish hoarding!

May such be so in our lives too.

                                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

P. S. --- You may be wondering WHY Paul is being so precise and so careful about this offering.  It could be, based on little "hints" in 2nd Corinthians, that Paul has been accused (by his enemies in that Corinthians Church) of wanting to get his "hands" on that money ... for personal reasons!  Listen to him in 2nd Corinthians 12:18.  "I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you?"  Did we take one cent of your money, he asks!  Or earlier another such indication rests in verse 16.  "But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile."  I did not take your money ... although I have been accused of being "crafty!"  So Paul reasoned with them. Folks, it's just a good idea to have more than one person handling the money down at God's House!  In that sense there is safety in numbers.

 

 

LESSON 6, VERSE 6:

The Apostle Paul, for two whole chapters in 2nd Corinthians, discussed the subject of Christian "giving," the "offering!"

He wrote to the Romans:  "Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.  But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.  When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain."  (Romans 15:24-28)  Note the capitalized text.

He has urged all the churches, everywhere he has preached, to help with this offering!

Corinth had failed to do their best.

Paul wrote chapters 8 and 9 of his second Epistle to the Corinthians in order to incite the Achaians to further generosity.

He writes verse 6 of chapter 9 as sort of a "summary" of God's plan for giving.  "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully."

He here, under Holy Spirit inspiration, pictures one's giving and sharing as being quite similar to a farmer sowing his springtime crops!

The more one "sows" ... the more he will reap!

The verb for "sow," in Greek "speiro," means to scatter as well!  Everywhere one goes, give!  In those days they did not always plow straight rows and then plant, but often broadcast the seed everywhere in a softly prepared field.  Even in the corners where rocks were located and along pathways where people walked!

The adverb "sparingly" means "not expending freely!"  Too cautiously!  With too much care!  Or even sorrowfully! 

God does not enjoy our giving if it is clothed in sorrow and grief!  He in fact loves a "cheerful" giver!  (2nd Corinthians 9:7)  That word, "hilaros," means cheerful!

Then the term "bountifully" translates "epi logia."  Literally it means upon blessing after blessing after blessing!

The bottom line here:  Corinthians, the more you give ... the more you will be blessed!  Or maybe it is even this:  The more you give and bless others ... the more you yourself will receive and be blessed!

Either way, God is good!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

CONCLUSION:

If I have studied Paul's paragraph accurately, he is really saying in this Text ... "Corinthians, keep your word!  You promised some time ago to help with the offering for the needy saints in Judea, but you have grown lazy in your generosity.  I am sending a few men to help you get started again.  Don't embarrass me as your leader of yourselves as saints of God.  Do what you said!"

Now that's pretty good advice for us all!

 

 

More Christians need to read these Verses ...and practice their teaching!

 

 

 

 

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