Re: 2 Corinthians 9:7 "God loves"?

From: Jonathan Robie (jwrobie@mindspring.com)
Date: Tue Jun 24 1997 - 08:08:19 EDT


At 05:17 PM 6/23/97, Ben Crick wrote:
>On Mon 23 Jun 97 (04:47:51), joe@whidbey.net wrote:
>>╩ilaron gar dothn agapa o qeoV
>>╩cheerful for giver loves God
>
> The clause is an allusion to Proverbs 22:8 LXX:
> ANDRA hILARON KAI DOTHN EULOGEI hO QEOS, KTL
> A cheerful and liberal man God blesses, etc
>
> Am I missing something here? Where does the accusative /QEON/ come from,
> and with a nominative definite article /hO/?

I think this is an accident of the font that Joe is using. The original does
say hILARON GAR DOTHN AGAPA hO QEOS.

> IMHO this is a statement that God wants givers to be cheerful about it,
> not that God loves the man who is a "cheerful giver" but hates another
> who is a needy recipient. Jesus said "it is more blessed to give than
> to receive" (or at least, according to Luke's reporting of Paul he did;
> Acts 20:35).
>
> That is, it is better for you (you are "happier", MAKARION ESTIN MALLON)
> if you are in the situation of having money to give to others, rather than
> of having to receive money from others (DIDONAI H LAMBANEIN).

If you look at the context, the contrast is not between giving and
receiving, but between giving cheerfully of your own free will and giving
grudgingly or under compulsion. The whole line of argument is interesting
here, and is not really a logical line of argument, but a personal one. It
starts, I think, in chapter 8:1, where Paul talks about how the Macedonians
gave generously for the sake of poorer brethren elsewhere, an idea which
apparently came from the Corinthians a year ago (verse 8:10). Paul presented
the idea to the Macedonians, who gave far beyond their own ability. Paul
commends the Macedonians for several things to which he then calls the
Corinthians to emulate:

1. They gave according to their ability (verse 8:3)
2. They gave beyond their ability (verse 8:3), giving freely despite their
own deep poverty (verse 8:2) Note the use of the noun PERISSEIA and the
verb PERISSEUW in the phrases hH PERISSEIA THS XARAS AUTWN and EPERISSEUSEN
EIS TO PLOUTOS THS APLOTHTOS AUTWN.
3. They gave of their own accord (AUQAIRETOS)
4. They begged to participate in supporting the saints (verse 8:4). The
Greek in this whole verse is wonderfully pregnant, but I especially like the
phrase THN XARIN KAI THN KOINONIAN THS DIAKONIAS THS EIS TOUS hAGIOUS.
5. They gave themselves first to the Lord, and *then* gave money, according
to the Lord's will. As I read this, instead of giving the money that they
thought was expected, they gave themselves to the Lord, sought his will, and
gave the money that God told them to give. It was not according to
compulsion, and not according to expectations, but according to God's will.

Now after this, you might expect him to just tell the Corinthians to do the
same, but he doesn't, not quite. First, he commends them, who apparently had
given earlier, and were the first people to have the desire to give a year
ago (verse 8:10), and calls them to finish what they started according to
their ability. He says, on the one hand, that the willingness is what
matters, and that they need not give beyond their ability (verse 8:12).

In fact, not giving beyond their ability is an important factor, because the
whole point of the matter is that those who have should give to those who do
not have, so that "he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who
gathered little had no lack" (verse 8:15). Since this is the whole reason,
by the way, it is dangerous to apply this passage to fund raising appeals
for buying new organs or building new buildings, where Paul's justification
would not apply. A more appropriate application might be for rich suburban
churches to see how they can partner with poorer urban churches, supplying
money to empower them, and enjoying THN XARIN KAI THN KOINONIAN THS
DIAKONIAS THS EIS TOUS hAGIOUS. And poorer urban churches could give to the
third world and enjoy the same blessing.

Paul also wants to assure them that nobody is going to misappropriate funds,
so he sends two brothers of sound reputation as a safeguard to ensure that
nobody will even think that the funds have been misappropriated (verses
8:20-22).

Now, it would be embarrassing for Paul and for the Corinthians if they, the
very people who came up with the idea and have been stirring up others to
give, did not give generously (verse 9:2). They have already promised a
bountiful gift (were there specific pledges, or did they just promise to
give bountifully?), and now Paul is asking them to gather in the promised
money so that it will be there and there will be no embarassment.

Now we've set the stage to look at the verse about the cheerful giver in 2
Corinthians 9:7. Paul asks them to give as they have promised, and not to
give grudgingly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver. God
doesn't love giving under compulsion, or grudging giving. Like the
Macedonians, we should not give according to people's expectations; instead,
we should go to God and give ourselves entirely to him, then cheerfully give
what he asks us to give. And we can have the faith to give cheerfully since
God loves a cheerful giver and will take care of our needs if we give: "And
God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all
sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed."

Jonathan

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Jonathan Robie jwrobie@mindspring.com http://www.mindspring.com/~jwrobie
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