Setting

In this chapter, Paul continues to write about giving to the saints in Jerusalem. After giving detailed commendations about the three emissaries who will be carrying the gifts, Paul now explains the need for making preparations in advance. Finally, he teaches the Corinthians the manifold blessings that come with cheerful giving.

Key Verse

(9:8)

Did You Know...?

  1. Macedonia (9:2) was a Roman province in the Balkan Peninsula. Paul’s first missionary efforts in Macedonia began after he saw a vision in a dream of a Macedonian man calling for help (Acts 16:9–10). There, he and his fellow workers won converts in the cities of Philippi, Thessalonica, and possibly Berea. But wherever they preached they met fierce opposition and were forced to leave (cf. Acts 16:16–17:15). Despite their adversity, the churches in Macedonia excelled in their steadfast faith and generosity (cf. Php 1:3–7; 4:14–18; 1 Thess 1:6–8; 2 Cor 8:1–5; 11:9).
  2. Achaia (9:2): A Roman province in the region of central and southern Greece. Corinth was its capital.
  3. In verse 9, Paul is quoting Psalm 112:9.
  4. Gift (9:15): The Greek word is also translated “grace,” as in verse 14.

Outline

  • Making Preparations in Advance
    (9:1–5)
  • God’s Abounding Grace
    (9:6–11)
  • Thanksgiving Resulting from the Ministry
    (9:12–15)

General Analysis

  • 1.

    Observe how the three segments are connected by repeating a word or idea from the last verse of the previous segment in the first verse of the next segment.

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    1. In verse 5 (last verse of the first segment), Paul mentions “willing gift.” The Greek word is the same as the word translated “bountifully” in verse 6 (first verse of the second segment).

    2. Verse 11 (last verse of the second segment) ends with mention of thanksgiving to God. Verse 12 (first verse of the third segment) carries the thought forward and speaks of many thanksgivings to God.

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Segment Analysis

  • 9:1–5

    1.

    What is Paul’s concern in this segment?

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    Paul has been boasting to the Macedonian believers about the zeal of the Corinthians in ministering to the saints in Jerusalem. He does not wish that, when the Macedonians come with him to Corinth, they will find the Corinthians not having completed the collection as promised. So Paul is sending some brothers ahead of him to Corinth to help make the necessary arrangements.

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  • 2.

    How can we apply the kind of thoughtfulness Paul exhibits here in our guidance of other believers?

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    When we guide other believers in their faith or ministry, it is helpful to remember that forgetfulness and procrastination are common human weaknesses. Even when people have the heart to do what is right or the zeal to serve, they may not always follow through with action. Rather than being harsh with them for failing to do what they have intended or promised to do, we should patiently and gently remind them and encourage them along the way.

     

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  • 3.

    Why is the attitude in giving just as important as the giving itself (v. 5)?

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    If giving becomes an exaction rather than a willing gift, it is no longer as beautiful as it could be. Those who collect the gift as well as the recipients of the gift may even feel guilty when they see that the donor gives unwillingly. Most importantly, God, who looks at the heart, would not be pleased when the giving is done grudgingly. As far as God is concerned, the amount of offering is not nearly as important as the generosity and devotion with which the offering is made (cf. Mk 12:41–44).

     

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  • 9:6–11

    4.

    Recall your own experience of the truth that whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

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  • 5.

    Why is being cheerful when giving so valuable to God?

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    What God wishes to see is more than the act of giving or the amount that is given. God also looks at a person’s intentions and motivation behind his actions. When a person gives grudgingly, it means that he does not have the desire to love or help others. On the contrary, one who gives cheerfully does so out of love and compassion for others. It is the heart of love and compassion that God deems valuable.

     

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  • 6.

    What does Paul mean by the multiplying and increase in verse 10?

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    God, the giver of all things, will multiply the seed for sowing for those who sow generously. In other words, if we are generous in helping others, God will enable us to be even more generous. He can do so by giving us more resources with which we can help others even more and by making us even more loving and compassionate.

     

    Furthermore, God also increases the harvest of righteousness for those who give generously. Righteousness is the quality of being right in the eyes of God (cf. Acts 10:35). Giving out of love produces outcomes that are pleasing in the sight of God. Not only are the act of giving and the heart of generosity pleasing to God, the beneficiaries of our giving would also be thankful to God and glorify God. They would be encouraged to likewise love and help others.

     

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  • 7.

    Why does giving require trust in God?

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    If we trust that God will provide for us, we would not be reluctant when we give. We would view our giving as a blessing rather than a loss. For example, the Bible promises, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.” (Prov 19:17). Our faith in this promise makes us confident that God would not let us suffer loss but would reward us when we help those in need.

     

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  • 8.

    Besides being generous in monetary giving, what other things can we be generous in?

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    1.We can be generous with our time, lending our ears to those who are troubled, helping the underprivileged, or caring for the neglected.

    2.We can be generous in our relationship with others, being accommodating of those who may be different from us, bearing with the weaknesses of others, or giving others a second chance when they have failed.

    3.We can be generous with our words, giving praise, comfort, and encouragement to others to support them and to lift them up.

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  • 9:12–15

    9.

    How does our giving result in many thanksgivings to God?

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    Those who benefit from our giving tend to give thanks to God for our acts of love. Their thanksgiving would also translate to concrete actions of love. When they have the opportunity, they are also more likely to extend the same kind of love to others.

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  • 10.

    How is giving related to our confession of the gospel of Christ (v. 13)?

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    Paul writes in verse 13 that the saints who benefit from the giving will glorify God because of the Corinthian believers’ submission that comes from their confession of the gospel of Christ. Our faith in Christ leads to submission to the teachings of Christ. Love and giving are central to the message of the gospel and the teachings of Christ (cf. 1 Jn 3:16). When we give to others out of love, it shows that we have embraced the gospel of Christ and lived out its message.

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  • 11.

    What is the indescribable gift of God Paul gives thanks for (v. 15)?

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    Paul regards the Corinthians’ act of giving to be an outflow of the surpassing grace of God upon them (9:14; cf. 2 Cor 8:1). The Greek word translated “grace” in verse 14 is translated “gift” in verse 15. The immediate context tells us that by “indescribable gift,” Paul has in mind the believers’ generosity inspired by God’s love. Even more broadly, God’s indescribable gift was demonstrated most vividly through His giving of His only Son to us (cf. Rom 8:32). Not only so, God continues to pour out His grace to us through His forgiveness, mercy, and continual work of love in our lives.

     

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