4

In 2nd Corinthians Paul says:

"For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality" (KJV, 2nd Corinthians 8: 12-14)

As I gather from the words put in bold, Paul says that the willingness is counted before God only in case if one has something that he could donate, and if one doesn't have anything to donate - due to the reasons of his own poverty - then his willingness to give won't be counted. However, a few verses earlier Paul said something about Macedonians that seems to be contradictory to this:

"...brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift" (KJV, 2nd Corinthians 8: 1-4)

Here we seem to have a case of people who obviously have nothing and yet are willing to give, and this willingness seems to be counted - at least Paul is commending Macedonians for that.

I am kind of puzzled here. Can somebody, please, explain?

0
+200

The Answer Is So In The Question

In 2nd Corinthians Paul says:

"For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality" (KJV, 2nd Corinthians 8: 12-14)

Then as a quote from sir Brilliant: "As I gather from the words put in bold, Paul says that the willingness is counted before God only in case if one has something that he could donate, and if one doesn't have anything to donate - due to the reasons of his own poverty - then his willingness to give won't be counted."


Then to Answer: When is willingness to give counted?

Let us go logically backwards to get to the understanding. The goal of the giving was to achieve what goal? That there may be equality

How do we achieve this goal?

  • That their abundance also may be a supply for your want

  • That now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want

What was "NOT" the point of giving?

  • For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality.

If the giver has little
Now "to the person" attempting to achieve equality, if that person has little then how does that person's giving to a group that has more achieve equality?

It doesn't like in math to make the value

  • Group 1 (5 - 5)
  • Group 2 (15 + 5)
  • 0 != 20 therefore not equality.

If the giver has much
Now "to the person" attempting to achieve equality, if that person has much then how does that person's giving to a group that has less achieve equality?

By balancing the values between the separate groups like in math to make the value

  • Group 2 (15 - 5)
  • Group 1 (5 + 5)
  • 10 = 10 therefore equality.


First Be a Willing Mind

If equality only can be achieved through the group with much giving to the group with little. Therefore the group with much "Must Be Willing".

Equality does not get achieved through the willingness of the smaller group.
Even if the smaller group wills to achieve equality their physical efforts towards larger groups do nothing towards the real goal.

Let us remember that a group though small may still "Act" towards the goal of equality
Through the giving to a lesser group say group C, the givers "new found poverty" gave them blessings.


When does willingness to give get counted?

  • When the willingness to give applies to the greater goal of equality.


Yet when do those in poverty count and deserve praise?

... praying us with much intreaty that "WE" would receive the gift (2 Corinthians 8:4 KJV)

For to ask "for those" that strive to bring balance so that the administration of the balance may grow, was itself the approved offering.

When do those in poverty count
God made everybody, and God loves all of his creation. To him if a person has many things or if a person does not have many things either way each person has an importance that "he has set". For wealth in the world is so a worldly standard on how "we" look at each other. However to God all things have a equal balance of Love. However since his love for us is so equal between all of us, he feels that each should get the same amount.

What does God own?
Now God who made all things rightfully owns all things. Now to those that are of Christ are also of God. They are in, and of God, and also part of God. Therefore to the person that has become part of God to that person God shares his wealth. Therefore all people that are of Christ own all things.

Now as we develop in understanding as a whole society we have those that do not fully comprehend the meaning of owning all things, and strive to hold on to the worldly example of "mine". So then while in transition to the greater expression, for those that truly own all things we abide by the world's standard to prevent those that do not understand from falling to anger/depression and then death. Therefore to a man that feels that something belongs to "him". We allow that belief till understanding grows to the greater expression. For God delivers understanding and he does it at his pace, and he is so very patient, so therefore also must we.

Who deserves praise?
To him who is so in Christ is also of Christ and part of Christ, and Christ deserves all the praise glory and honor forever and ever. Therefore from a worldly perspective a man may look in poverty, yet in the view of Christ owns all things. So be a man rich or poor, all in Christ owns all things. Yet to the poor man we can appreciate more. For the poor in Christ expresses their patience in the great waiting more then the rich. And it's the patience that deserves the praise ^^, and also the works that the patient man suffers through that the rich will be accountable for in the day of great balance. For he who owns much and considers it the standard of living falls below that, to them it gets counted as suffering. Yet to the poor in receiving the wealth from the day of balance a great moment of joy awaits.


The Governmental Expression

In the greater concept of Equality having all property publicly owned is so a step in the right direction however... For it to work the government would have to act as the Apostles as the true method of Administration.

As explained in "The Nature of True Apostleship" found in (1 Corinthians 4)

So instead of each person getting paid according to their abilities and needs.

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10 KJV)

|improve this answer|||||
  • Your amazingly clear and very logical explanation in the first part of your answer has fully cleared my confusion. You have fully understood my exact problem and just ''nailed it''. Thank you!!!! However, would you, please, elaborate a bit on the last two sections in your answer (''Yet when do those in poverty count and deserve praise?'' and ''The Governmental Expression''). I don't think I fully understand them. – brilliant Mar 4 '16 at 13:23
  • For the Governmental Expression section perhaps this could get a fuller explanation as it's own separate question. However since this question focuses on the foundation to that expression I felt it needed at least mentioned. – Decrypted Mar 4 '16 at 21:46
  • I see. Then, please, expand a bit on the ''Yet when do those in poverty count and deserve praise?'' section. – brilliant Mar 4 '16 at 21:55
  • @brilliant Well sir God has allowed more to flow so the post has been updated. Please let me know if any further confusion exists concerning this. For confusion is so the enemy of understanding, and by God confusion will be thrown down. – Decrypted Mar 4 '16 at 22:39
2

Paul is saying that the willingness is accepted no matter how little you have. Basically, "don't think you are of no use even if you are super poor." The widow who only had 2 mites still gave it to the temple, and did not think she had so little that it wouldn't make a difference anyway so why even donate these two mites at all?

1 And He [Jesus] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” - Luke 21:1-4 (NKJV)

The widow's willingness was accepted by God. Paul is saying that if you are willing but don't give anything because you think your gift is so small as to not make any real impact, then your "willingness" will not be accepted.

The Macedonians in verses 1-4 are described as being in "deep poverty (v2)," yet still gave a gift of some kind (v4).

Matthew Poole on verse 12:

...it is the willing mind which God accepteth, not the quantity of the gift. God doth not require of people things not in their power, yet bare velleities, or pretended willings, are not accepted; there must be an acting according to our power to justify the sincerity of our willing mind, and men vainly pretend to will that towards the performance of which they never move.

Matthew 10:42 says that even a cup of water given to a little one in the name of a disciple is noticed and accepted by God.

Paul is wanting the Corinthians to finish what they started a year ago (v10-11). As they were sincerely willing to begin the task, they should finish it with the same sincere willingness, whether their resources are great or small.

|improve this answer|||||
1

I personally consider Charles Hodge almost of canonical significance as a commentator, though I consider only the Bible as actually canonical.

So here are some of Hodge's observations. I hope they will be useful in your research. They are all from Hodge's Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians, published by Banner of Truth, 1974, orig. publ. 1857 and 1859.

Hodge clearly believes that Paul is holding up the sacrificial giving of the poorer Macedonians as an example to the richer Corinthians who had expressed a desire to give, but had not followed through on it. Paul "desired them to prove the sincerity of their love," and clearly maintains that "the standard of judgment with God is the disposition, not the amount given." [p.579]

Hodge poignantly comments on v.12,

the disposition is what God regards, and that disposition will be judged according to the resources at its command. A small gift may manifest in one case much greater willingness to give, than a much larger gift in another. [580]

Since this is the standard,

Giving must be voluntary. It is the fruit of love. It is of course obligatory as a moral duty, and the indisposition to give is proof of the absence of the love of God. 1 John 3,17. [581]

Hodge also makes an important points regarding rights and responsibilities as he discusses v.14, obviously drawing on other passages:

Thus do the scriptures avoid, on the one hand, the injustice and destructive evils of agrarian communism, by recognizing the right of property and making all almsgiving optional; and on the other, the heartless disregard of the poor by inculcating the universal brotherhood of believers, and the consequent duty of each to contribute of his abundance to relieve the necessities of the poor. At the same time they inculcate on the poor the duty of self-support to the extent of their ability. [582]

In conclusion, I'll offer my own observation: It would seem in Macedonia the desire to give was greater than their ability to do so, while in Corinth the ability to give was greater than the desire to do so. The greater desire showed the greater love, and is to us all the example. Willingness to give is counted when it is genuine, not merely when it is announced but not followed with actual giving.

|improve this answer|||||
1

In 2 Corinthians 8-9 (as well as in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, the Epistle to the Galatians and the Epistle to the Romans) Paul writes of a collection for "the poor." In 2 Corinthians 8:1-14, Paul is using all his powers of persuasion to encourage the Corinthians to contribute to this collection, which he had already sought in First Corinthians.

The reason for this collection is poorly understood, but Acts 11:25-30 says that while Paul was out of Jerusalem and had not yet begun his mission, a certain Agabus prophesied a great famine and that in consequence a collection was taken up for the brethren in Judea. This is, no doubt, a reference to a famine that occurred between 44 and 48 CE and affected much of the Roman Empire.

Because of Acts, Paul's epistles are traditionally dated more than ten years later than I am about to propose. I can cite Murray J. Harris ( The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, page 86) who suggests there are good reasons for dating Galatians before the Jerusalem Council of 49-50 CE. If so, the impact of this is that Paul was already an active missionary long before Acts gives him credit for, especially as Galatians 1:16-2:1 suggest that he had already been an apostle for more than 17 years by the time he sat down to write the Epistle to the Galatians. Such an early date for Galatians and the length of time Paul had already been an apostle, makes it very credible that the collection on which Paul expended so much effort and political capital in these epistles was actually the collection for the famine of 44-48. This famine would be one way to explain the Jerusalem brethren seeking assistance, asking Paul to be “mindful of the poor,” the importance Paul placed on the collection and his comparative lack of success, particularly in Galatia. It seems implicit elsewhere that the Galatians may have been unable or unwilling to contribute because of their own extreme circumstances but, as Paul points out here, the Macedonians dug deep and contributed. He knew that the Corinthians were also suffering, but wanted to leave them no excuse for failing to help. Paul is not only commending the Macedonians for that but holding them up as an example he wants the Corinthians to follow.

When Paul speaks, in verses 8:12-14 of an equality, he is encouraging the Corinthians to help the poor of Judea at this time in the knowledge that the favour would be returned when the Corinthians themselves suffer great want:

2 Corinthians 8:14: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality


Footnote
* Harris does not pursue this reasoning and elsewhere accepts the historicity of Acts in respect to the Jerusalem Council.

|improve this answer|||||
  • So, how does that all explain the contradiction that I am talking about? "Paul is not only commending the Macedonians for that but holding them up as an example he wants the Corinthians to follow" - Which is exactly that puzzles me here because it seems to me to be contradictory to his own words in 2Cor 8:12 ("For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not"), from which seems to follow that Macedonians' willing mind must not be accepted because they were poor, that is, they 'had not'. – brilliant Mar 3 '16 at 18:33
  • @brilliant The appearance of contradiction is only there as long as we think that Paul is preaching about giving, which is of course the common assumption. If one keeps in mind that he is actually dealing with a practical issue of the moment, using whatever arguments he can in order to get the Corinthians to contribute to famine relief of the Christians in Judea, then the contradiction disappears. We could make it clearer with the use of bullet points or, at least, paragraphing, but Paul simply strung different reasonings together, one after the other. .../ – Dick Harfield Mar 3 '16 at 22:51
  • .../ vv8:10-12 constitute a separate line of thought from verse 14. In v10, Paul says that a year ago they were willing to contribute (cf First Corinthians) and v11 now calls on them to do what they had promised. v12a says there was first a willing mind (last year); v12b-c says if they have any to give that will be accepted but not to use shortage as an excuse. – Dick Harfield Mar 3 '16 at 22:51
  • "...makes it very credible that the collection on which Paul expended so much effort and political capital in these epistles was actually the collection for the famine of 44-48" - I am a bit puzzled here. How ca it be famine of 44-48 when the earliest possible date for writing Second Corinthians is 53?! (I haven't found any earlier date). – brilliant Mar 14 '16 at 23:27
  • @brilliant Thank you for your question. The possible range of dates can be deduced from 3 sources: 1. when he began his mission; 2. internal evidence in the epistles; 3. Acts. Then, 1. Paul says he spent 3 years preaching Christianity in Damascus during the reign of Aretas, who died in in 39 or 40 CE - which means the latest possible date for his arrival there from Petrea was around 36 CE, and probably much earlier. 2. Internal evidence includes (but is not limited to) the collection that Paul mentions in most of his undisputed epistles; 3. Acts is the primary evidence for a late date. .../ – Dick Harfield Mar 15 '16 at 0:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.