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Doctrine of Tithes and Offerings

July 23, 2010

Doctrine of TITHES AND OFFERINGS

Introduction

A.    When the subject of tithing is being discussed, it must be understood that the Old Testament teaches two different kinds of tithing:

1)    One is referred to as an historical tithe.
2)    One is referred to as a Law tithe.

B.    One might ask the question, “Why are these two tithes called an ‘historical tithe’ and a ‘Law tithe’?”

1)    The “historical tithe” is so called because it occurred as an historical event before the tithe commanded by the Mosaic Law.

2)    The “Law tithe” is so called because it was commanded by the Mosaic Law.

C.    Let’s examine both the “historical tithe” and the “Law tithe” — first, the “historical tithe” documented in Genesis 14:20.

The Historical Tithe

The first 16 verses of Genesis 14 provide the background for an understanding of the historical tithe.  Listen to these verses.

Genesis 14:1-16
1    And it came about in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim,
2    {that} they made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).
3    All these came as allies to the valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea).
4    Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but the thirteenth year they rebelled.
5    And in the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim and the Zuzim in Ham and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim,
6    and the Horites in their Mount Seir, as far as El-paran, which is by the wilderness.
7    Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and conquered all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, who lived in Hazazon-tamar.
8    And the king of Sodom and the king of Gomorrah and the king of Admah and the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) came out; and they arrayed for battle against them in the valley of Siddim,
9    against Chedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim and Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar– four kings against five.
10    Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into them. But those who survived fled to the hill country.
11    Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed.
12    And they also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.
13    Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram.
14    And when Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.
15    And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.
16    And he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people. (NAS)

In these verses we see that Abram has just been victorious in two areas of his life:

mental attitude victory (vv.13-14); could have panicked, but didn’t.
military victory (vv. 15-16); could have been defeated, but wasn’t.

As a result of Abram’s military victory, two kings are brought into the picture, one a believer–the king of Salem, and one an unbeliever–the king of Sodom.  Listen to the passage:

Genesis 14:17-20
17    Then after his [[ Abram’s ]] return from the [[ military ]] defeat of Chedorlaomer [[ king of Elam ]] and the kings [[ named in verse 1 ]] who were with him [[ Chedorlaomar ]], the king [[ his name is Bera ]] of Sodom went out to meet him [[ Abram ]] at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).
18    And Melchizedek [[ a Gentile king-priest ]] king of Salem [[ “Salem” means “peace” and is another name for Jerusalem ]] brought out bread and wine [[ literal bread and wine with a spiritual significance associated with the Lord’s Supper, before the Lord’s Supper was instituted ]]; now he [[ Melchizedek ]] was a priest [[ representative ]] of God Most High [[ “God Most High” designates the God of Israel and the God of the Christian ]].
19    [[ Melchizedek ]] And he [[ Melchizedek ]] blessed [[ pronounced a blessing upon ]] him [[ Abram ]] and [[ Melchizedek ]] said, “Blessed be [[ to ]] Abram of [[ from ]] God Most High [[ “God Most High” designates the God of Israel and the God of the Christian ]], Possessor of heaven and earth;
20    And [[ Melchizedek now blesses God ]] blessed be God Most High [[ “blessed . . . High” is a statement of praise to God for granting Abram military victory ]], who [[ God ]] has delivered your [[ Abram’s ]] enemies into your [[ Abram’s ]] hand.” And he [[ Abram ]] gave him [[ Melchizedek ]] a tenth [[ a tithe ]] of all [[ of the spoils of his military victories ]].

Concerning The Historical Tithe in Genesis 14:20

1.    Who are Abram and Melchizedek?

Abram is the first Jew, and thereby, the father of the Jews.
Melchizedek is a Gentile king-priest.
Both lived nearly five hundred years before the Mosaic Law was given to Israel.

2.    Concerning Abram’s tithe to Melchizedek . . .

It was not commanded by God.
It was not solicited by Melchizedek.
It preceded the Mosaic Law by nearly 500 years.
It is referred to as an “historical tithe.”
It is referred to as an “historical tithe” because it occurred in human history before the Mosaic Law.
Abram was not paying Melchizedek to bless him.
The purpose of Abram’s tithe to Melchizedek is explained in Hebrews 7.
If it were not for Hebrews 7, we would not understand why Abram tithed to Melchizedek.
Hebrews 7 teaches that Abram tithed to Melchizedek to show Melchizedek’s superiority over Abram.
Abram’s tithe to Melchizedek is totally unrelated to Israel’s tithe under the Mosaic Law.
Abram’s tithe to Melchizedek has no bearing on how a Christian should give to the Church.
The Christian should not tithe just because Abram tithed.
Abram is not meant to be a model to show Christians how to give financially.
To impose tithing upon the Church because Abram tithed to Melchizedek shows a total disregard for why Abram tithed to Melchizedek.
Abram’s tithe to Melchizedek occurred only one time in human history.

The Law Tithe

References to the Law tithe are found throughout the Old Testament, but before we look at some verses that instruct Israel in Law tithing, let’s consider some introductory information about Law tithing and the Church Age Christian.

Some Introductory Notes About Law Tithing and the Church Age Christian

1.    Tithing is totally unrelated to the Church Age.

2.    Tithing was commanded of Israel, and Israel is not the Church, and the Church is not Israel.

(To impose tithing upon the Church because Israel was commanded to tithe is as foolish as arresting a driver in Arkansas for not driving on the left side of the street because England has a law that says that the English should drive on the left side of the street.  Brethren, the laws of England should be no more imposed upon Arkansans that the Mosaic Law of Israel should be imposed upon the Church or Christians.)

3.    There is not one passage of Scripture that requires the Christian to be a tither.

4.    A Christian does not owe 10% of his income to his church.

5.    Christians are not blessed by God because they tithe.

6.    Tithing for blessing is tantamount to bribing God.  (It’s the old idea that “If I tithe, God, you’ve got to bless me because I tithe.”)

7.    There are three codices in the Mosaic Law:

Codex #1 contained the commandments toward which Israel was to be obedient.
Codex #2 contained a complete system of Christology which pointed Israel to Christ.
Codex #3 contained principles by which to operate the nation of Israel.

8.    The three codices of the Mosaic Law were for both believer and unbeliever:

Codex #1:    proved that the Jew was a sinner in need of a Savior.
Codex #2:    provided information about Christ as the Savior of sinners.
Codex #3:    provided the nation of Israel with dietary laws, quarantine laws, honeymoon requirements, principles about divorce, principles about the Sabbath, and tithing regulations.

9.    Tithing was a system of “income tax” imposed upon Israel by God.  The following truths must be understood:

Tithing is part of the Mosaic Law.
The Mosaic Law was given only to Israel as a nation.
When the Mosaic Law was given to Israel, the form of government was a Theocracy.
The following things are true about Israel’s Theocracy:

God was Israel’s Governor.
God, as Israel’s Governor, resided in the Holy of Holies.
Since the Holy of Holies was in the Tabernacle and the Temple, the Tabernacle and the Temple were the seats of Government; therefore, Israel’s tithes were collected by Israel’s Governor in the Tabernacle and the Temple, as the seats of government.  (All nations pay income taxes to their government; but it must be understood that in Israel, God was the Government, and He resided in the Tabernacle and the Temple; therefore, all tithes were taken to the Tabernacle or Temple.)

10.    Law tithing was never considered spiritual giving.

11.    The Mosaic Law demanded three tithes, not one.

12.    The three tithes of Israel under the Mosaic Law are as follows:

10% income tax for maintenance of the Levites.
10% income tax for maintenance of the feasts and sacrifices.
10% income tax to take care of Israel’s poor people.

13.    Passages related to the three different Law tithes:

Maintenance of the Levites:  Numbers 18:21, 24

Numbers 18:21
21    “And to the sons of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform, the service of the tent of meeting. (NAS)

Numbers 18:24
24    “For the tithe of the sons of Israel, which they offer as an offering to the LORD, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance; therefore I have said concerning them, `They shall have no inheritance among the sons of Israel.'” (NAS)

Maintenance of the feasts in the metropolis: Deuteronomy 12:17-18; Deuteronomy 14:22-24;

Deuteronomy 12:17-18
17    “You are not allowed to eat within your gates the tithe of your grain, or new wine, or oil, or the first-born of your herd or flock, or any of your votive offerings which you vow, or your freewill offerings, or the contribution of your hand.
18    “But you shall eat them before the LORD your God in the place which the LORD your God will choose, you and your son and daughter, and your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all your undertakings. (NAS)

Deuteronomy 14:22-24
22    “You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year.
23    “And you shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the first-born of your herd and your flock, in order that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.
24    “And if the distance is so great for you that you are not able to bring {the tithe,} since the place where the LORD your God chooses to set His name is too far away from you when the LORD your God blesses you, (NAS)

Maintenance of the poor:  Deuteronomy 14:28-29.

Deuteronomy 14:28-29
28    “At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit {it} in your town.
29    “And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do. (NAS)

14.    How the Jews tithed by years:

A.    First year:        20%

10% for maintenance of the Levites
10% for maintenance of feasts in the metropolis

B.    Second year:    20%

10% for maintenance of the Levites
10% for maintenance of feasts in the metropolis

C.    Third year:        30%

10% for maintenance of the Levites
10% for maintenance of feasts in the metropolis
10% for maintenance of the poor

D.    This three year cycle then repeats itself every three years.

Now, let me make myself clear:  If we as Pastors are going to use the Mosaic Law to teach tithing as the means of Christian giving, then we as Pastors should be honest with our congregations, and teach them that they are to tithe 20% the first year, 20% the second year, and 30% the third year, and then repeat this same cycle every three years.

Note:  Unger’s Bible Dictionary notes that while there are some who maintain that Israel recognized only two tithes, Josephus, the Jewish historian who was a contemporary of Jesus, confirms the Jewish practice of triple tithing when he stated in his writings that that one-tenth was to be given to the priests and the Levites, one tenth was to be applied to the feasts in the metropolis,and that one tenth besides these was every third year to be given to the poor.

Other Passages Teaching the Concept of the Law Tithe

Numbers 18:21, 24
21    And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.
24    But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. (KJV)

Leviticus 27:30-33
30    And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’s: it is holy unto the LORD.
31    And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.
32    And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.
33    He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed. (KJV)

Deuteronomy 14:22-24
22    Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.
23    And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.
24    And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: (KJV)

Understanding Malachi 3:7-12

First read Malachi 3:7-12.

Malachi 3:7-12
7    Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
8    Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9    Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10    Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
11    And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.
12    And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts. (KJV)

Let’s look at some of the background for the Book of Malachi

The Book of Malachi was written around 400 B.C., and in this Book, Malachi is dealing with the sins of the priests and of the people of his day.

It is imperative that Malachi is addressing backslidden Jews.  He is not addressing the church or Christians.
There will be no church and no Christians for approximately 400 more years.

Now, brethren, I want to ask a question.  If Malachi is rebuking backslidden Israel for failure to keep the Mosaic Law, and if the Church is not Israel, and Christians do not live by the Mosaic Law, what right does anyone have to impose any form of criticism upon any Christian who is not obedient to the Mosaic Law?

To criticize Christians for not tithing during the Church Age because Jews did not tithe in Malachi’s day is just as foolish as it would be to criticize an American for not driving on the left side of the highway because that’s the way they do it in England!

Brethren, what I am saying is that Malachi 3:7-12 does not apply to the Church or Christians.  Let’s look at the passage.

Malachi 3:7-12
7    Even from the days of your [[ the people who constitute the nation of Israel and whose worship is guided by adherence to the Mosaic Law ]] fathers [[ Jewish ancestors ]] ye [[ Jews functioning under the Mosaic Law ]] are gone away [[ backslidden ]] from [[ introduces the thing from which the Jews had backslidden ]] mine [[ God’s ]] ordinances [[ Codex # 2:  shadow Christology ]], and have not kept [[ been obedient to ]] them [[ the ordinances ]]. Return [[ come back ]] unto me [[ God ]], and I [[ God ]] will return [[ come back ]] unto you [[ Israel, functioning under the Mosaic Law ]], saith the LORD of hosts. But ye [[ Israel, functioning under the Mosaic Law ]] said, Wherein shall we return? [[ “What have we done wrong?”  This statement indicates that Israel, not the Church, in her backslidden condition, did not even recognize that she was a backslidden nation. ]]

8    [[ God now answers backslidden Israel’s question, “Wherein shall we return?” and He begins by asking Israel, not the Church, another question. ]] Will a man rob [[ HB. QABA = defraud; ]] God? [[ This is a pretty powerful question when you realize that it is God that is asking the question; but at the same time we understand that God is addressing Israel who operates under the Mosaic Law, not the Church who operates under grace ]] Yet ye [[ Israel, not the Church ]] have robbed [[ defrauded; stolen from ]] me. But ye [[ Israel under the Mosaic Law in Malachi’s day, not the Church under grace ]] say, Wherein have we [[ Israel under the Mosaic Law in Malachi’s day, not the Church under grace ]] robbed [[ defrauded ]] thee? [[ Again, these Jews of Malachi’s day do not understand how they have robbed God. ]]  [[ God now answers how these Jews, operating under the Mosaic Law, have robbed God ]] In tithes [[ notice, brethren, the word tithes is plural, and this is a reference to the triple tithe of Israel ]] and offerings [[ spiritual giving ]].

9    Ye [[ Israel under the Mosaic Law in Malachi’s day, not the Church under grace ]] are cursed [[ constantly being cursed:  disciplined ]] with a curse [[ discipline ]]: for ye [[ Israel under the Mosaic Law in Malachi’s day, not the Church under grace ]] have robbed [[ defrauded ]] me, even this whole nation [[ has defrauded Me ]].

10    Bring ye [[ Israel under the Mosaic Law in Malachi’s day, not the Church under grace ]] all the tithes [[ taxes ]] into the storehouse [[ the house of the treasury built next to the temple so the people could pay their taxes at one end of the temple; the national treasury ]], that there may be meat [[ HB.  TEREPH and refers to provision for running a government ]] in mine house [[ the second temple ]], and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you  [[ Israel under the Mosaic Law in Malachi’s day, not the Church under grace ]] out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

11    [[ national protection ]] And I will rebuke the devourer for your [[ Israel under the Mosaic Law in Malachi’s day, not the Church under grace ]] sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your [[ Israel under the Mosaic Law in Malachi’s day, not the Church under grace ]] ground; neither shall your  [[ Israel under the Mosaic Law in Malachi’s day, not the Church under grace ]] vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.

12    [[ national prosperity ]] And all nations shall call you  [[ Israel under the Mosaic Law in Malachi’s day, not the Church under grace ]] blessed: for ye  [[ Israel under the Mosaic Law in Malachi’s day, not the Church under grace ]] shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts. (KJV)

How Should We as Christians Understand Malachi 3:7-12

1.    The following reasons are given to demonstrate why Malachi 3:7-12 does not apply to the Church and Christians:

A.    The principle of tithing under the Mosaic Law was given by God to Israel, not the Church.

Principle of Interpretation:  Israel is never the Church and the Church is never Israel, and since God gave the Mosaic Law to Israel, and not the Church, I, as a Pastor, have no right to teach my congregation that tithing is the method of giving that God has designed for the Church.

B.    Malachi is addressing backslidden Israel for their failure to pay their income tax (Law tithes) and their offerings (grace giving).  He is not addressing the Church, nor is he teaching the Church to tithe.

C.    Since God is addressing Israel, do not expect God to bless your life because you give ten percent of your income to anyone, whether it be to the Pastor, the church, or any other Christian organization.  God does not bless tithers simply because they tithe.

D.    Since Law tithing was income tax, if Christians followed the true meaning of Malachi 3:7-12, they would expect God to bless them because they pay their income tax, not because they give ten percent of their income to the Church.

E.    This passage teaches that Israel as a nation, not the Church or Christians, will be both protected and prospered for obedience to the Mosaic Law which included both tithes and offerings.

2.    Tithing is neither commanded, nor recommended, by God as the method of Christian giving.

3.    God has a plan for Christian giving separate and apart from the Mosaic Law, and God’s plan does not include tithing as the means of grace or spiritual giving.

4.    Tithing under the Mosaic Law was always associated with a national income tax upon both believing and unbelieving Jews.

5.    Once again, this passage is totally unrelated to the Church as far as giving is concerned.

Matthew 23:23
23    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (KJV)

23    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these [[ tithing mint, anise, and cummin ]] ought ye [[ Jews functioning under the Mosaic Law ]] to have done, and not to leave the other [[ judgment, mercy, and faith ]] undone. (KJV)

1.    In this passage, Jesus is speaking to the scribes and Pharisees, not the Church and Christians.

A.    The Church will not be born until the Day of Pentecost 30 A.D., in Acts 2, and since there is no Church at the time Jesus spoke these words, there is no reason to apply them to the Church.

B.    There is a common error in understanding among many people, and the mistake is this:  The Old Testament is about Israel and Jews, and the New Testament is about the Church and Christians.

C.    Actually, Matthew Mark, Luke, John, and Acts 1 relate to the Age of Israel, and the Church does not begin until Acts 2.

2.    Scribes and Pharisees were Jews, not Christians.

3.    Scribes and Pharisees functioned under the Mosaic Law, not those truths designed for the Church Age Christian.

4.    Since the scribes and Pharisees were Jews functioning under the Mosaic Law, we should expect them to have been tithers because they were bound to the Mosaic Law.

5.    Here, Jesus is rebuking Jews functioning under the Mosaic Law for neglecting the weightier matters of the Mosaic Law, while being obedient in the matter of Law tithing.  (And I might add, brethren, Jesus says that these Jews were unbelievers, and yet, Jesus says that they ought to tithe.  Why?  Not because tithing was spiritual giving, but because tithing was an income tax levied upon both believer and unbeliever in Israel for the purpose of operating their government.

6.    Since this passage deals with Jews operating under the Mosaic Law, there is absolutely no reason to teach that this passage demonstrates reason to believe that Christians should tithe.

Now that the Mosaic Law tithe has sufficiently been discussed in several key Old Testament passages, it is time, now, to show why the tithe of Hebrews 7 has nothing to do with Christian giving.

HEBREWS 7:1-10

Before I begin an explanation of this passage, let me tell you what the writer of Hebrews 7 is doing.  He is going to show the superiority of Christ’s priesthood over the Levitical priesthood by using the occasion of Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek to prove his point.

The fact that the tithe is mentioned in the New Testament Book of Hebrews does not give me the right as a Christian Pastor to teach my congregation that Christians are suppose to tithe because the writer of the Book of Hebrews mentions the tithe.

Also recall that Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek is referred to as an “historical tithe,” it is not a Mosaic Law tithe.

This passage will also demonstrate that the reason Abraham tithed to Melchizedek was because Melchizedek was superior to Abraham.

Hebrews 7:1-10
1    For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
2    To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
3    Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
4    Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.
5    And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:
6    But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.
7    And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
8    And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
9    And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
10    For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him. (KJV)

Hebrews 7:1-10 (Exposited)
1    For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
2    To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

Note:  These first two verses merely reflect the same information contained in Genesis 14:17-20.  This reflects the “historical tithe,” of Abraham to Melchizedek, not a Mosaic Law tithe.

3    Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

A.    This describes Melchizedek, and neither implies, nor states, that Melchizedek is Jesus.

B.    This simply indicates that Gentiles did not maintain genealogical records in the same manner as the Jews did, therefore, this indicates that there was no historical record of Melchizedek’s father or his mother or his relatives or his birthdate or his date of death.

C.    If Melchizedek were Christ, this verse would read:  “ . . . but made the Son of God, . . .” not “made like the Son of God.”

D.    The fact that Melchizedek was “like” the Son of God indicates that Melchizedek “was not” the Son of God.

Principle:  Something that “is like” something else, “cannot be” that something else of which it is said to be like; therefore, Melchizedek cannot be Jesus Christ.

4    Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

Note:  Here is a key point:  Melchizedek was greater than Abraham because Abraham tithed to Melchizedek.  This was the sole purpose for which Abraham tithed to Melchizedek — not because he was commanded to do so by God; not because it was part of the Mosaic Law; but to show the superiority of Melchizedek to Abraham.

5    And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood [[ under the Mosaic Law ]], have a commandment to take tithes [[ Mosaic Law tithes ]] of the people [[ of Israel, not the Church ]] according to the law [[ Mosaic Law ]], that is, of their brethren [[ Jews, not the Church or Christians ]], though they [[ the Levites ]] come out of the loins of Abraham:

Note:  Brethren, it should be clear that this passage is not designed to teach Christians to tithe.  It is part of God’s reasoning to show the inferiority of the Levitical priesthood when compared with the priesthood of Melchizedek.

6    But he [[ Melchizedek ]] whose descent [[ family lineage ]] is not counted [[ considered ]] from them [[ because he is a Gentile, not a Jew ]] received tithes [[ historical tithes ]] of Abraham, and blessed him [[ Abraham ]] that had the promises [[ contained in Genesis 12:1-3 ]].
7    And without all contradiction the less [[ Abraham ]] is blessed of the better [[ Melchizedek ]].

Note:  How much clearer could this be?  This tells us why the tithe is mentioned here in Hebrews.  It is not here to teach the Christian to tithe.  It is here as part of God’s teaching to show the purpose for which Abraham tithed to Melchizedek — not because Abraham was commanded to do so by God; not because of obedience to a non-existent Mosaic Law; but to show the superiority of Melchizedek’s priesthood over the Levitical priesthood which further proves the superiority of Christ’s priesthood over the Levitical priesthood.

8    And here [[ under the Mosaic Law ]] men [[ Levitical priests ]] that die [[ physically ]] receive tithes [[ from their brethren, the Jews, according to the Mosaic Law ]]; but there [[ when Abraham tithed to Melchizedek ]] he [[ Melchizedek ]] receiveth them [[ Abraham’s tithe ]], of whom [[ Melchizedek ]] it is witnessed that he [[ Melchizedek ]] liveth.

Note:  “and here . . . but there”  contrasts tithing under the Mosaic Law with Abraham’s “historical tithe” to Melchizedek.

9    And as I may so say, Levi [[ from whom the Levites who formed the Levitical priesthood came ]] also, who [[ Levi ]] receiveth tithes [[ by commandment from the Mosaic Law ]], payed tithes [[ to Melchizedek ]] in Abraham [[ because Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Abraham tithed to Melchizedek ]].
10    For he [[ Levi ]] was yet in the loins of his father [[ Abraham ]], when Melchisedec met him [[ Abraham ]]. (KJV)

1.    There are seven references to tithing in this passage.

2.    However, it must be observed that the writer is not teaching the Christian to tithe, nor is he teaching the Christian that tithing is the Christian’s spiritual method of giving.

3.    The writer of Hebrews 7 is teaching the superiority of Christ’s priesthood, when compared with the Levitical priesthood, which was prescribed by the Mosaic Law, and he does so by using Abram’s tithe to Melchizedek as his proof.  His logic follows this reasoning:

A.    The Mosaic Law established the Levitical priesthood.
B.    The Mosaic Law told the Levites to receives tithes from the Israelites.
C.    The Levites received tithes from the Israelites.
D.    The Levites came from the loins of Abraham.
E.    Abraham tithed to Melchizedek.
F.    Since Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, this indicates that Melchizedek is superior to Abraham.
G.    Since the Levites were in the loins of Abraham when Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, this implies that Melchizedek is superior to the Levites.
H.    If Christ’s priesthood is similar to Melchizedek’s priesthood, and Melchizedek’s priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood, then Christ’s priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood.

4.    Simply stated, this passage has nothing to do with Christians tithing.  It has everything to do with the superiority of Christ, as our High Priest.

Christian Giving
or
Christian Giving Is Grace Giving

Introduction

In the first six verses of 2 Corinthians 8, Paul teaches Christians about grace giving by using the Macedonian Christians as an example.

Who were these Macedonians?  They were impoverished Christians who had a burning desire to give financially to relieve the financial suffering of impoverished Christians in Jerusalem.  In other words, the Macedonians were one poor group of Christians with a burning desire to help relieve the poverty of another group of poor Christians located in Jerusalem.

Now, the real question for us at this point is how one group of poor Christians can help another group of poor Christians.  In other words, how can the poor relieve the poor?  Might I say that God has a way, and Paul is about to show us how the poor can assist the poor, and then, he will make the point that if the poor can help the poor, then, it ought to be obvious that Christians who are not poor have no excuse for not helping other poor Christians.

2 Corinthians 8:1-13
1    Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; (KJV)
1    Now, brethren, we {wish to} make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, (NAS)
1    And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. (NIV)

brethren  Paul is addressing believers, and the context is giving.

Principle:  Only believers have the right to give.
Principle:  No local church should knowingly receive money from an unbeliever.
Principle: Unbelievers should be cautioned not to give money to the church because there is no spiritual value in their giving and giving could give them a false sense of security with God.  Brethren, salvation cannot be bought, and blessings from God cannot be purchased.

due you to wit  means “to make known by communicating.

the grace of God  here, the word “grace” refers to God’s provision of money that He gave to the poor Macedonians, so that the poor Macedonians would have money to give to the poor Christians in Jerusalem.

Several Principles Related to Grace Giving

Principle:  All grace giving is with no strings attached.

(For example:  If you will put my name on the pew, I will donate $100.00 to the pew fund.)

Principle:  Giving any amount to the church does not authorize the donor to dictate church policy.
Principle:  Because a Christian gives to the church does not authorize the donor to control the Pastor.
Principle:  A Christian with money is not a self-made man.  He is a product of grace.  God has permitted the believer to have the finances, and God can remove them at any time.
Principle:  Everything a Christian has is a grace provision of God.

Back to Our Passage

The Macedonians who were broke gave more money to Paul’s offering than any other group.  Brethren, that demonstrates grace.

Principle:  Poverty + God’s provision + giving God’s provision away = poverty.

the churches of Macedonia

According to an ancient historian, the Romans had militarily devastated all of Macedonia by the time of Paul’s writing, and the entire region of northern Greece was impoverished.  Yet, these Macedonians gave out of their poverty for the Jerusalem collection.

2    How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

trial  The word “trial” is the Greek word  dokimh  and refers to “testing.”

The fact that Paul was receiving an offering for the poor saints in Jerusalem and the Macedonians had nothing to give was a spiritual test to the Macedonians.

Question:  How can a poor man give what he does not have?
Answer #1:  He cannot give what he does not have.
Answer #2:  He trusts God to provide something to give, and if God provides, he gives, but if God does not provide, he gives nothing.

Principle:  A poor man is poor because he has insufficient financial resources to meet his basic needs.

THE MECHANICS OF GIVING OUT OF POVERTY

$500.00    pray    100.00    100.00    $500.00
poverty    opportunity    God’s provision    given    poverty

$500.00    pray    50.00    50.00    $0.00
poverty    opportunity    God’s provision    given    poverty

$0.00    pray    0.00    0.00    $0.00
poverty    opportunity    God’s provision    given    poverty

2    How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

2 Cor 8:2  that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.  (NAS)
2 Cor 8:2  Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.  (NIV)
2 Cor 8:2  Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, they have mixed their wonderful joy with their deep poverty, and the result has been an overflow of giving to others.  (TLB)

affliction  The word “affliction” is the Greek word  qliyij  and it refers to “pressure” created by the circumstances of life.

This word is translated “trial” in the (NAS), and “trouble and hard times” in the (NIV).

Again, the pressure is associated with an opportunity to give with no means of giving.

Point:  It is important to understand that the pressure is not coming from Paul.  The pressure is related to the opportunity without the means.

Explaining the source of this pressure:

Paul isn’t saying, “If you want God to bless your life, you had better give” to this offering.

This pressure comes from the fact that the Macedonian Christians had nothing to give when the opportunity presented itself to give.

Principle:  God does not require any Christian to give when the pressure comes from the preacher, the evangelist, or any other human being.

Principle:  God never requires the Christian to give under pressure when the pressure comes from a misrepresentation of truth.

For Example:  If you are under pressure to give because I tell you that God will bless your life with a bigger automobile if you will give your car payment to God, the church, or me (the preacher), I have misrepresented the truth, and you are free to reject the pressure to give, and to tell me to go-fly-a-kite.

For Example:  If you are under pressure to give because I tell you that God will bless your life with a bigger home if you will give your home mortgage payment to God, the church, or me (the preacher), I have misrepresented the truth, and you are not required to give one cent of your home mortgage payment to anyone or anything.

Principle:  Christians should never give a cent to anything if being pressured by anyone other than the Holy Spirit, and the Pastor, or the preacher, or the evangelist, or any other Christian worker are not the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, the Christian can freely reject any pressure to give when the pressure comes from a human being, even when the human being claims to be “a man or woman of God.”

abundance  The word abundance means “superabundance.”

of their joy

This is inner happiness based on an accurate understanding of the Word of God about giving.

Principle:  Only truth gives the capacity for inner happiness.
Principle:  If happiness is not based on truth, tomorrow, you will hate the thing that makes you happy today.
Principle:  The thing that makes you happy today will make you miserable tomorrow if your happiness is not based on truth.

and their deep poverty

“deep poverty” translates three Greek words, not two  —  kata baqouj ptwxeia
literally translated, these three words translate “deep down poverty”

The poverty of these Macedonian Christians is more than just the “deep poverty” that the King James Version indicates.  The Greek text actually indicates their poverty to be “deep down poverty.”

If any form of poverty is bad, “deep poverty” would be worse,” and “deep down poverty” would even be worse than that.

In other words, these Macedonian Christians were not just poor.  They were the poorest of the poor.  Their poverty is said to be “deep down poverty.”

Remember that the Apostle Paul is using these “deep down poverty” Macedonian Christians as an example of how to give financially, and he is using them as an example to the wealthier Corinthian Christians, and Paul’s point is this:

Point:  Paul is saying, “If this is what ‘deep down poverty’ Christians can give, just think what you as wealthier Christians can give.”  Paul was using what the poor Macedonian Christians had done that he might motivate the wealthier Corinthian Christians to do more.

abounded

The Greek word, here, is  perisseuw  which means more than “abound.”

It means “to be richly furnished,” “to be possessed of full sufficiency,” “to exist in full quality,” “to super-abound.”

Paul is saying that the “deep down poverty” of the Macedonian Christians “super-abounded” unto riches.

unto the riches

The word translated “unto” is the Greek preposition  eij  and is causal, not directional.

In other words, Paul is not saying that the Macedonian Christians’ deep down poverty super-abounded unto something, but that their deep down poverty super-abounded because of something.

of their liberality

The word for “liberality” is the Greek word  a(plothj  and in this verse refers to a mental attitude of “generosity.”

The point is this:  These “deep down poverty” Macedonian Christians had a mental attitude of “generosity” before they had anything to give, and this leads us to a very important principle associated with Christian giving.

Principle:  Mental attitude is more basic in Christian giving than is the amount given.

Application:  You cannot give what you do not have, but if your mental attitude is right when the offering is received, God sees your right mental attitude, and counts your right mental attitude as your offering to Him, especially, when you don’t have any money to put in the offering plate.

Principle:  Never give under pressure because you have nothing to give.

Principle:  Never give if you have to rob Peter to pay Paul.

Illustration:  Let’s suppose you have enough money to pay your home mortgage payment this month, and there’s nothing left over for an offering to your church.  What should you do?  God does not expect you to give your home mortgage payment, or any part of your home mortgage payment to the church, if it means that you will not have enough money to pay your home mortgage payment.  And if you ask me if I am saying that your home mortgage payment should come before giving to the church, that’s exactly what I am saying.  God has provided you with a home.  He expects you to pay for it with the money He has provided for the payment!  Brethren, don’t rob Peter (your home mortgage company) to pay Paul (the church, the preacher, or any other Christian organization).

Another illustration:  Let’s suppose you have enough money to pay your car payment this month, and there’s nothing left over for an offering to your church.  What should you do?  God does not expect you to give your car payment, or any part of your car payment to the church if it means that you will not have enough money to pay your car payment.  And if you ask me if I am saying that your car payment should come before giving to the church, that’s exactly what I am saying.  God has provided you with transportation.  He expects you to pay for it with the money he has provided for the payment!  Brethren, don’t rob Peter (your car mortgage company) to pay Paul (the church, the preacher, or any other Christian organization).

3    For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

For to their power   and beyond their power

their  Who is “their?”  “their” is a reference to the poor Macedonians of verse 1.

power  Both uses of the word “power” are from the Greek word  dunamij  which means not only means “power,” but it also means “ability” and that’s why it is so used  in the (NAS) and (NIV).

2 Cor 8:3  For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord,  (NAS)
2 Cor 8:3  For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,  (NIV)
2 Cor 8:3  They gave not only what they could afford but far more; and I can testify that they did it because they wanted to and not because of nagging on my part.  (TLB)

willing of themselves

This means that these poor Macedonians chose a course of action from their own free-will.

This means that when these poor Macedonians gave their money to the offering, they did it without pressure, without intimidation, and without coercion.  They did it because they wanted to, not because someone was pressuring them to give.

No Christian should ever give a cent to any kind of offering if he or she is giving under pressure that has been created by man.  Let me give you some modern day examples of giving under pressure.

Example 1:  If you are told that you are robbing God if you don’t give, you are giving under pressure and you don’t have to give.

Example 2:  If you are told that God will not bless you if you don’t give, you are giving under pressure, and you don’t have to give.

Principle:  If you don’t have anything to give, don’t give.
Principle:  If God the Holy Spirit does not motivate you to give, don’t give.
Principle:  If you decide to give, it is your responsibility to determine the amount, and you shouldn’t allow anyone else to determine the amount for you.
Principle:  No believer is ever blessed by giving more that someone else.  The Christian is blessed by doing what the Holy Spirit leads him to do, and brethren, no preacher, no Pastor, or anyone else claiming to represent God is the Holy Spirit.
Application:  I am a Pastor.  I have no right to tell any Christian how much to give, and if I, as a Pastor, even recommend an amount for someone else to give, I am in violation of God’s grace policy of giving for Christians.
Principle:  No Pastor, or any other Christian leader, has any right to tell any Christian how much to give, or when to give.

Our phrase, “willing of themselves,” recognizes that every Christian has the freedom to determine whether or not they will give, and it recognizes the freedom to determine the amount, if they determine that they are going to give.

Principle:  If an offering is being received, and you, as a Christian, have nothing to give, God does not require that you give, so don’t allow any human being put you on a guilt trip that will pressure you to give what you don’t have.

Application:  If a Christian has money available to pay his/her bills, God has provided that money to pay those bills.

Question:  Suppose a Christian gives his/her bill money to a church offering.  Is God obligated to replace that bill money just because it was given into a church offering?

Answer:  No!  And for me to tell you that God will replace your bill money if you give it to the church is contrary to the teaching of God’s Word.

Application:  Suppose you say to God, “God, I need for you to replace my bill money.”  He might ask you, “What did you do with the money I’ve already given you to pay your bills?”  And you say, “I gave it to the church.”  or “I gave it to some preacher.”  or “I gave it to some evangelist.” or “I gave it to some other Christian worker who told me I ought to give it.”  Then God might say, “Poorly done, thou foolish and unwise servant.  You have given away the money that I’ve already provided for you to pay your bills.  Now, you’ll have to answer to your creditors for giving away the money that I gave you to pay your bills.  And when your bill collectors come to turn off your electricity, or to repossess your car, or foreclose on your home mortgage, just remember, don’t blame Me.  I gave you the money once to pay your bills, and you misspent it.  It was not I who asked you to give away the money that I gave you to pay your bills.  It might have been the preacher, or someone else, who told you to do so, but it surely wasn’t me.  And the pressure you face from your bill collectors is evidence that I, your God, am not the source of your problem.  Your lack of understanding is the source of your problem, and until you learn the principle of grace giving, you will continue to be miserable as long as you continue to give away your bill money.

4    Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

praying  [[ deomai  ]] means “to beg.”

This is why the NAS says “begging us,” and the NIV says, “they urgently pleaded with us,” and TLB says, “they urgently pleaded with us.”

2 Cor 8:4  Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.  (KJV)
2 Cor 8:4  begging us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints,  (NAS)
2 Cor 8:4  they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.  (NIV)
2 Cor 8:4  They begged us to take the money so they could share in the joy of helping the Christians in Jerusalem.  (TLB)

These poor Macedonians weren’t praying for anything.  They were begging.  They were pleading.

with much entreaty  means “with much imploring”

In other words, these poor Macedonians didn’t just beg Paul to receive their offering, they earnestly begged the Apostle Paul to receive their offering.

that we should receive the gift

gift  the word “gift” is the Greek word “xarij” which means “grace” and refers to the uncoerced, non-pressured, unintimidated, free-will offering given to Paul’s ministry team by the poor Macedonians for the relief of the poor Christians in Jerusalem.

and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

fellowship  [[ Greek:  koinwnia ]] in this context, the word “fellowship” means “partnership.”

The poor Macedonians, in the midst of their deep-down poverty, wanted to become partners with the Apostle Paul in relieving the suffering of the poor Christians in Jerusalem.

The picture might have gone something like this.  The poor Macedonians wanted to give to the relief of the poor saints in Jerusalem, but the Apostle Paul, knowing that the Macedonians were poor, might have said to them, “I know you want to help, but you’re poor just like the saints in Jerusalem; therefore, I’d rather that you just keep your money so we don’t have to help you later.”  However, the poor Macedonians earnestly begged the Apostle Paul to receive their offering so that they might have a part in ministering to the poor saints in Jerusalem.

Principle:  This is the poor ministering to the poor, but remember, brethren, a poor man can’t give what he doesn’t have, and a poor man shouldn’t give what he has that’s designated for his own survival.

Remember this principle:

Poverty + God’s provision + giving God’s provision away = poverty.

While a poor man cannot give what he does not have, if he asks God for something to give, and God provides, the poor man can then give what God has provided in answer to his request, but he will still be poor after he has given.

Principle:  Christian giving is a privilege associated with grace.
Principle:  Legalistic giving is associated with coercion, intimidation, and other forms of pressure unjustly forced upon well-meaning Christians who lack adequate understanding of God’s Word.

5    And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

2 Cor 8:5  And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.  (KJV)
2 Cor 8:5  and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.  (NAS)
2 Cor 8:5  And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.  (NIV)
2 Cor 8:5  Best of all, they went beyond our highest hopes, for their first action was to dedicate themselves to the Lord and to us, for whatever directions God might give to them through us.  (TLB)

this we did  does not exist in the older manuscripts

we hoped  is the Greek verb  elpizw  and means “to have confidence, to have expectation”

Translation:  “And, not as we expected . . .”

Point:  In other words, Paul, knowing that the Macedonian Christians were poor, didn’t expect them to do anything because he knew that they were poor.

Point Restated:  Here is a spiritual leader who didn’t expect the poor to contribute anything to the Church because he knew that they were poor.

Question:  I want to raise a question.

“If the Apostle Paul didn’t expect the poor of his day to contribute to a church offering, what right do I have as a Pastor to expect the poor of this day to contribute financially to my church?”

I’ll Offer Some Possible Answers to  that Question:

1)    If I answer, “God’s Word tells us that we as Christians should tithe,” I am guilty of misinterpreting and misapplying Scripture.

God told Israel to tithe.  He didn’t tell the church to tithe, and the Church is never Israel, and Israel is never the church.

Again, I’ll Raise the Question:

“If the Apostle Paul didn’t expect the poor of his day to contribute to the church offering, what right do I as a Pastor have to expect the poor of this day to contribute financially to my church?”

2)    Suppose I answer that question in this manner:  “As a Pastor, I have a responsibility to tell the people that God will bless them if they give.”

My Answer:  God doesn’t prosper anyone who gives money to the church, simply because they give money to the church.  God prospers Christians who have yielded their life to the Holy Spirit, and the spiritual result of yielding to the Holy Spirit is not financial wealth.  Yieldedness to the Holy Spirit develops the Christian life into Christ-likeness.  Yieldedness to the Holy Spirit produces a life that overcomes sin.  Yieldedness to the Holy Spirit does not produce millionaire Christians or even wealthy Christians.  Yieldedness to the Holy Spirit produces spiritual wealth, not material wealth!

More often than not, God blesses financial giving with spiritual blessings, not money.  It is only when I as a Pastor distort the truth, knowingly or unknowingly, that I can tell you that if you give money to my church God will bless you by returning what you gave with interest.  In other words, if you’ll give $100.00, God will bless you by giving your $100.00 back, and even add some more money to what you gave.  Nowhere in God’s Word does it tell me that if I will give money, God will give me money in return, let alone increase my return after I’ve given.

Application:  When are the poor of this world going to learn.  Brethren, if you are poor, why don’t you watch what’s happening in this world.

If I tell the poor of my church  to give their money to me or my church, it’s me, the Pastor, who becomes rich, and it’s me, the Pastor who builds bigger churches, and the poor, who give because I tell them that God would bless them if they do, it’s these poor who remain poor, and have their cars repossessed, and the bank forecloses on their home, and the utility companies turn off their utilities.  And then these same people come back to the church for help, they are told that the church doesn’t have enough money to help every poor person in the world.  They are told that since the church can’t help, the church can pray for them.

Brethren, instead of misguiding the poor of this world, why don’t I just be honest with them and tell them that if they are poor, the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, didn’t expect them to give, so why should I?

Let me ask that question one more time:  Why should I expect the poor of this world to give what they don’t have?

Answer:  I shouldn’t expect them to give because of the following principle:  No one can give what they don’t have.

My Advice to Poor People:  Stop trying to give what you don’t have!

Let me teach the difference between Law and Grace:

Law says, “Give your money, and THEN PRAY that God will return it to you AFTER you have given.”

Grace says, “PRAY for something to give, and only AFTER God makes the provision, give.”

Application:

Under Law giving, if a poor man trusts God to replace his house payment, or car payment, or utility payment, or insurance payment, or food money, he is trusting God to do something that God hasn’t guaranteed.  And if God doesn’t replace the money given by the poor man, as the Pastor, I just tell the poor man he doesn’t have enough faith.  And what have I done?  I have just taken both God and me off-the-hook, and placed the blame on the poor Christian’s lack of faith–and if I blame the poor man’s lack of faith, I have either done it out of my own ignorance, or I have done it from my own misunderstanding, or I have purposely calculated to defraud and steal from the poor man.

Let me say it another way:

Under Law giving, when the poor man gives what he doesn’t have, the poor man becomes poorer, and the Pastor and/or the Church receives the benefit.

Under grace, when the poor man gives what God provides to give, and while he remains poor, he does not become poorer, and the Pastor and/or the Church receive the benefit.

The difference between Law giving and grace giving:  Under grace giving, the poor man remains poor.  Under Law, the poor man becomes poorer.

Principle:  If Paul knew that the Macedonian Christians were poor and didn’t expect them to contribute to his offering, why should I as a modern day Pastor expect the poor of my church to give to the offerings of the church that I pastor.

but first gave their own selves to the Lord

first gave their own selves  The word “first” separates the believer’s “money” from the believer as a “person.”

Point:  To “give yourself” to God means to turn your soul over to Him.

Another Point:  They first gave themselves, and then they gave their money.

Application:  Any unbeliever can give his money, but if he hasn’t first given himself to the Lord, his money is of no value to him in terms of spiritual benefit.

Application:  Let me help you who are listening to this program.  If you are an unbeliever, do not give a cent of your money to the church.  Your spiritual condition is no worse off if you don’t give money to the church, and your spiritual welfare is not better off if you give to humanitarian causes.  For example, you could feed this world’s starving children, but you are still lost and condemned to hell if you have not trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Salvation comes by grace through faith, not by giving to the church.

Principle:  The church that receives money from unbelievers deceives the unbeliever by allowing him to believe that his spiritual condition is improved because he has given money to God through the church.

Point restated:  They first gave themselves, and then they gave their money.

Principle:  Soul giving must precede money giving.

Application:  Again, this is why the church should not receive money from a lost person.  They have not turned their soul over to the Lord.

Principle:  Christian giving is soul activity which extends itself into money giving, but the money and the amount are not important.  It’s the condition of the soul that counts, and when the condition of the soul is right, the amount will take care of itself.

Principle:  There is no spiritual benefit gained by the believer who gives under emotional pressure.

unto the Lord, and unto us

Point:  First, the Macedonians gave themselves to the Lord, and then, secondly, they gave themselves to the Apostle Paul by giving their offering.

by the will of God.

Point:  By divine design, the poor Macedonians gave their offering to Paul after they had first given themselves to the Lord.

Principle:  While it is the design of God for the Christian to give money to the church, there is a definite sequence in giving–first, yourself, then your money.

NOW WE ENTER THE APPLICATION PHASE OF MACEDONIAN GIVING

(The Apostle Paul, now, relates Macedonian giving to the Corinthians)

2 Corinthians 8:1-5
1    Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
2    How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
3    For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
4    Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
5    And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. (KJV)

6    Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.

2 Cor 8:6  Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.  (KJV)
2 Cor 8:6  Consequently we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work as well.  (NAS)
2 Cor 8:6  So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part.  (NIV)
2 Cor 8:6  They were so enthusiastic about it that we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to visit you and encourage you to complete your share in this ministry of giving.  (TLB)

Insomuch that  means “consequently.”

we desired is better translated “we urged.”

Titus  the person in charge of promoting and receiving an offering for the poor saints in Jerusalem.

that as he had begun, so he would also finish

What had Titus begun?  He had previously begun to receive this offering at Corinth, but stopped promoting and receiving the offering.

Now, Paul is encouraging Titus to begin receiving the offering again, and bring it to its conclusion.

Principle:  Special offerings are legitimate.
Principle:  It is legitimate to receive a special offering over an extended period of time.
Principle:  To start an offering, and stop an offering, and start it again is not inconsistent with God’s Word.

in you  This refers to the Corinthians who had started to give and then stopped, and are now being encouraged to complete what they had started.

the same grace also.  Interestingly, here, the word “grace” means to two things:  1) It refers to the offering, itself, and 2) describes the manner in which the offering should be given–by grace, not law.

Principle:  Law giving establishes the amount for a person to give.
Principle:  Grace allows the giver to determine the amount.
Note:  The Bible never authorizes anyone, including preachers, to tell any believer how much money they should give to anything.
Principle:  Grace is always the means by which Christians are to give–never by law.

Note:  It is a commonly said that “10% tithing” is where the Christian should begin to give, and offerings are always above and beyond the tithe.  That idea is not consistent with the Word of God, because tithes were a predetermined amount of income tax associated with the Mosaic Law, and offerings were an amount determined by the donor under the concept of grace.

Principle:  Under law giving. the amount is determined by someone other than the donor.
Principle:  Under grace, the amount is determined by the donor.
Principle:  God’s plan for Christian giving is grace, not law.

Listen to the verse one more time:    “Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.”

THE NEXT NINE VERSES MOVE FROM MACEDONIAN GIVING
TO CORINTHIAN GIVING

Three Things That Will Encourage Corinthian Giving

7    Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

2 Cor 8:7  But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also.  (NAS)
2 Cor 8:7  But just as you excel in everything– in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us– see that you also excel in this grace of giving.  (NIV)
2 Cor 8:7  You people there are leaders in so many ways– you have so much faith, so many good preachers, so much learning, so much enthusiasm, so much love for us. Now I want you to be leaders also in the spirit of cheerful giving.  (TLB)

Therefore, as you abound in everything

The word “abound” is the word for “superabound” and Paul indicates that these Corinthian Christians superabound in everything, which includes the following areas:

1)    in faith refers to believing God’s Word and applying God’s Word.

2)    in utterance  [[ logoj ]] means the “word,” and refers to the superabundance of the Word of God being taught by their Bible teachers.

3)    in knowledge  a reference to the superabundance of what they had learned because of the superabundance of their faith in the superabundance of what they had been taught.

4)    in all diligence  a reference to the superabundance of their application because of the superabundance of what they had learned because of the superabundance of their faith in the superabundance of what they had been taught.

5)    in love toward Paul and his team  a reference to a superabundance of love which is a real indication of their spiritual growth.

see that ye abound in this grace also.

see that you abound is literally, “you should superabound in this grace”

The word “abound,” again, is the word “superabound.”

And, again, the word “grace” refers to the offering and the manner in which it is to be given.

Point:  Here’s Paul’s point:  You superabound in . . .

faith.
the teaching of the Word of God.
in what you have learned.
in your application.
in your love.

Now, “you SHOULD superabound in your giving to this offering.”

Now, I want to show you something from the Greek grammar
that we don’t see in our English Bibles.

In verse 7, the words “you superabound” appears two times:

1)    The first time, it’s the present, active, indicative of the verb  perisseuw.
2)    The second time, it’s the present, active subjunctive of the verb perisseuw.

The indicative mood is the mood of reality, and the subjunctive mood is the mood of potentiality.  This means that Paul is saying, . . .

It is a reality that you superabound in faith.
It is a reality that you superabound in the teaching of the Word of God.
It is a reality that you superabound in what you have learned.
It is a reality that you superabound in your application.
It is a reality that you superabound in your love.

And then he continues, . . .

You SHOULD superabound in giving to this offering.

Point:  The contrast between the indicative mood and the subjunctive mood indicates the difference between consistency and inconsistency.

Principle:  God requires consistency from our Christian lives.
Principle:  Some Christians start fast, but are not around at the finish line.

Another point suggested by the indicative and subjunctive moods:  The Christian way of life is filled with many possibilities.

Principle:   When the Christian encounters possibilities in life, God wants us to turn those possibilities into realities.

Application:  Stop whining over yesterday’s failures, and start working on tomorrow’s victories!

Some other principles suggested by Paul’s use of the
indicative mood vs. the subjunctive mood

1.    Faith, and the teaching of the Word of God, and learning the Word of God, and applying the Word of God, and loving people ARE STABILIZERS OF LIFE.

Principle:  Christian giving is an extension of a stabilized life.

Application:  When a Pastor has to pressure, intimidate, or coerce his people to give, this indicates that the people of his congregation are not stable in their Christian lives.

Principle:  You don’t have to pressure stable Christians to give.

Application:  Under grace giving, stable Christians will give what they can give.
Application:  What stable Christians give may not be what the preacher wants them to give, but it will be what God wants them to give.

Principle:  If what stable Christians give is not what the Pastor wants them to give, it’s the Pastor’s vision that’s out of line, and not the Christian giving that’s out of line.

Principle:  Christian giving is an extension of the consistent learning of God’s Word.

Application:  If a Pastor does not understand the need for his congregation to be consistently taught sound doctrine, he will resort to pressure, intimidation, coercion, and guilt-tripping his congregation in order to make them give.

Principle:  God does not and can not bless the Law-giver.  God blesses that which is given by grace, and under grace, the believer determines when, where, and how much to give.

Principle:  The size of an offering does not necessarily indicate that the givers are spiritual.  It may just indicate the amount of pressure and guilt the preacher has dumped on his congregation.

Principle:  As goes the teaching of God’s Word, so goes the giving.

Four Things that I, As a Pastor, Should Not Do Concerning Christian Giving

1.    I should not force people to give.

For example, like telling them they’ll go to hell if they don’t.

2.    I should not use gimmicks to get people to give.

For example, like selling video or audio tapes and books at inflated prices.  Like selling anointing oil, or prayer cloths that have been prayed over, or water that came from the River Jordan.  All this is gimmicky, and has nothing to do with the Christian way of life.  It makes the Preacher rich, and poor people poorer.  There is no place for gimmick-giving in God’s plan for the human race.

3.    I should not appeal to the people’s emotions to get them to give.

For example, by telling some sob-story, and then when the congregation has reached its emotional peak, pass the offering plate.  There is no place in God’s plan for emotional giving.

4.    I should not appeal to a sense of competition to get them to give.

For example, “I’ll give five, who’ll give ten.”
For example, “The Sunday School Class that gives the most will get a free-trip to Disney World.”

One more time–verse seven from The Living Bible:

2 Cor 8:7  You people there are leaders in so many ways– you have so much faith, so many good preachers, so much learning, so much enthusiasm, so much love for us. Now I want you to be leaders also in the spirit of cheerful giving.  (TLB)

8    I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

I speak NOT by commandment leads to more principle associated with Christian living.

Principle:  Giving should never be forced upon Christians.
Principle:  Christians should never be pushed into giving.
Principle:  Christian giving should be the result of yieldedness to the Holy Spirit, learning the Word of God, and applying the Word of God.

There are some things that Christians are commanded to do:

1)    Assemble for worship.
2)    Hear the Word of God.
3)    Pray.
4)    Love one another.

BUT – – – Christian giving is NOT commanded!  Christian giving SHOULD BE the result of yieldedness to the Holy Spirit, learning the Word of God, and applying the Word of God.

Application:  Christians who allow themselves to be commanded to give, do so for one of three reasons:

1)    They are not yielded to the Holy Spirit, or . . .
2    They do not understand God’s Word, or . . .
3)    They understand God’s Word, but are not applying God’s Word.

I speak not by commandment, but . . .

Here’s an interesting word — BUT . . .

This word is called a “conjunction of contrast,” and it indicates a big difference between what has just been said, and what follows.

The word “but” introduces the reason for which Paul is speaking to the Corinthians about Christian giving.

Paul, Now, Gives Us Two Reasons for Encouraging the Corinthians About Christian Giving

The First Reason for Paul’s Encouragement:

but by the occasion of the forwardness of others

First, the word others refers to the poor Macedonian Christians who are being used as an example.

Second, the word forwardness refers to the manner in which the poor Macedonian Christians gave, that is, they were forward in their giving.

To be forward in giving means that the poor Macedonian Christians “found a way to give when they didn’t have anything to give.”

Remember, this is one poor Christian helping another poor Christian, and Paul uses this example to encourage the wealthier Corinthians to give.

. . . not by commandment, but by reason of the extraordinary example of what the poor Macedonian Christians had done!

The Second Reason for Paul’s Encouragement

and to prove the sincerity of your love.

The word prove is the Greek verb dokimazw which means “to test for the purpose of approval.”

The offering became a test to the Corinthian Christians.  Will the Corinthian Christians, who have the financial means to give —will they give to the poor Jewish Christians at Jerusalem, or will they not give to the poor Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.  THIS OFFERING IS A TEST! It will prove something — but what will it prove?

the sincerity of your love.

There are two important words here:

First, the word sincerity.  This word means “genuineness,” “realness.”

The second word is love.  This is the word  agape  and refers to “unconditional love.”

Now, Let’s Ask Ourselves a Question

Question:  Why should the Corinthian offering be a test to the genuineness of the Corinthian Christians’unconditional love?

Answer:  Because of racial prejudice between Gentiles and Jews!  The Corinthians were wealthy Gentiles and the group for whom the offering was being received were poor Jews.

Brethren, modern day racism is not new to the world.  Racism and bigotry have been around for thousands of years, and Paul realized the possibility that if racism existed among the Corinthians, they would say, “No,” to the offering that was designed to assist poor Jews, and that’s why Paul’s offering became a test to the Corinthian Christians’ unconditional love.  If they said, “No,” to the offering, they did not have unconditional love, but if they said, “Yes,” to the offering, they were manifesting unconditional love.

Listen to Verse 8 in the NAS, NIV, and TLB

8    I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also.  (NAS)
8    I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.  (NIV)
8    I am not giving you an order; I am not saying you must do it, but others are eager for it. This is one way to prove that your love is real, that it goes beyond mere words.  (TLB)

Verse 9 Will Now Provide Us with an Example of Giving
(Jesus Christ is our example)

9    For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

2 Cor 8:9  For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.  (KJV)
2 Cor 8:9  9    For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake   He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.  (NAS)
2 Cor 8:9  For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.  (NIV)
2 Cor 8:9  You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus was: though he was so very rich, yet to help you he became so very poor, so that by being poor he could make you rich.  (TLB)

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

1.    Remember, the context of this passage is giving.

2.    Here, we learn that giving is related to grace orientation.

3.    Christ voluntarily gave Himself.  That’s grace.  No coercion.  No intimidation. No pressure.

Principle:  Giving depends on grace orientation.
Principle:  Grace orientation depends on a knowledge of the Word of God.

that, though he was rich,

He refers to Jesus Christ

rich focuses on the essence of Christ in eternity past and before He became a human being:
S, EL, L, J, +R, O, O, O, I, V.

yet for your sakes  – primary interpretation:  the Corinthian Christians; secondary application:  Christians, today.

he became poor  (aorist, active, indicative  ptwxeuw ] focuses on the humanity side of Jesus Christ, minus His deity:  body, soul, and spirit with all of their limitations.

aorist:  refers to Christ on the cross for three hour period of time.
active:  a voluntary act indicating His choice to go to the cross.
indicative:  the reality of Christ bearing our sins on the cross.

body:  needed to be fed; capable of dying..
soul:  had to learn.
spirit:  required to receive communication from the indwelling Holy Spirit.

In His humanity, Christ went to the cross, and it was there that He reached the deepest level of His poverty — the sins of the world were imputed to Him, and God the Father forsook Him.

that ye . . . might be rich

ye refers to the Corinthian believers by interpretation, and by secondary application, it refers to all Christians.

might be rich [ aorist, active, subjunctive ploutew ] and has nothing to do with financial wealth; this refers to every spiritual blessing associated with the Christian way of life.

constantive aorist:  rolls into one ball of wax every blessing and reward from salvation to eternity.
subjunctive:  indicates that riches are potential; they depend on a choice to become saved, and choices to live according to God’s plan for one’s life.

through his (Christ’s) poverty . . . .

His poverty – again, this refers to the work of Christ on the cross — bearing the sins of the world.

Things to Learn from Christ’s Example

1.    He first gave Himself to the Father.
2.    He gave Himself voluntarily to go to the cross.
3.    He was not coerced, pressured, or intimidated to give Himself.
4.    He did not give Himself under the influence of emotionalism.
5.    He did what He did in the strength of the Holy Spirit.

Several Things to Learn About Christian Giving from Christ’s Example

1.    First, give yourself to God the Father.
2.    Give voluntarily.
3.    Do not give under pressure, coercion, or intimidation.
4.    Do not give under the influence of emotion.
5.    Give under the leadership of and in the strength of the Holy Spirit.

10    And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago.

10  And I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it.  (NAS)
10  And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so.  (NIV)
10  I want to suggest that you finish what you started to do a year ago, for you were not only the first to propose this idea, but the first to begin doing something about it.  (TLB)

and herein I give my advice

herein – a reference to the offering to be received at Corinth.

I give my advice

I give –  present, active indicative  didwmi  = to give.

advice – a suggestion, not a command

1.  Paul is not giving an order, just advice.

2.  To give an order to someone to give financially violates the giver’s freedom of choice in the matter of giving.

3.  Giving must always come from freedom of choice, not from someone issuing a demand.

4.  Illustration:

demand upon freedom of choice negates freedom of choice = forced giving

advice + freedom of choice = love giving

5.  Believers should not give on the basis of demand or command.

6.  A believer should give only on the basis of personal desire.

7.  Giving demands freedom of choice on the part of the one doing the giving.

for this is expedient for you

for this – r.t. Paul’s opinion

expedient for you = is to your advantage.

who have begun before, not only to do – indicates that when Titus begins to promote this offering, it won’t be the first time.  The Corinthians had given to this offering on a previous occasion, and now the opportunity is being offered to do it again.

but also to be forward a year ago. (literally, “but also to desire to do it a year ago.”)

Let’s Stop Right Here and Look at Two Words in This Verse

1.  The key to this section is found in the two words “doing and desiring”.  _____ and _____.

to do – aorist active infinitive – the aorist tense indicates a point in time.

to desire – present active infinitive – the present tense indicates continuous action.

x_________________________x             x____x____x____x____x____x____x
desiring (present)    doing (aorist)

Now, when you put the two together, it looks like this:

doing    doing    doing    doing    doing    doing
x__________x__________x__________x__________x__________x
desiring    desiring    desiring    desiring    desiring

3.  Note the aorist tense for “doing” and the present tense for “desiring”.

4.  Point:  Giving and desiring to give are two different things.

5.  Point:  While the desire to give remains with you, you can’t give what you do not have.

6.    Point:  Even though a Christian may not be able to give, God recognizes the desire to give.

7.    Principle:  The desire to give stays with the spiritual believer whether the spiritual believer is able to give or not.

to be forward a year ago = to begin before this time

Point:  Paul wants the Corinthians to begin receiving the offering now, but the Corinthians had been willing to start receiving the offering a year prior to this time.

Point:  v. 10 serves as a transition between the principle of doctrine in v. 9 and the application to the Corinthians at this point.  The advice is given in v. 11 – giving takes place at a point in time; the desire may be there all the time.

8:11

2 Cor 8:11  Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.  (KJV)

2 Cor 8:11    But now finish doing it also; that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability.  (NAS)
2 Cor 8:11    Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.  (NIV)
2 Cor 8:11    Having started the ball rolling so enthusiastically, you should carry this project through to completion just as gladly, giving whatever you can out of whatever you have. Let your enthusiastic idea at the start be equalled by your realistic action now.  (TLB)

Now therefore perform the doing of it;

now – at this time; and since you did it a year ago, now, it’s time to begin again.

therefore – introduces an action based upon a reason just stated.

the action – finish the offering you started to receive a year ago.
the reason – because you (the Corinthians) have the desire to do.

Principle:  Desire is a strong motivation in giving.
Principle:  It is easier for people to do what they desire to do.
Principle:  People find it difficult to do what they do not desire to do.
Principle:  Sometimes people want to do something, but never get around to it.

perform – a word that refers to doing something until it is finished, and is a reference to the offering.

1.    aorist tense:  at a point in time “finish.”

2.    Since the “desire” is still there (present linear akionsart) they can “finish” at a point in time.

the doing – a reference to actually receiving the offering.

of it – refers to the offering.

that as there was a readiness to will.

1.    that as there was

2.    a readiness – refers to a deep desire that motivates a person to do something; here, a deep desire to give an offering.

3.    to will – means “to do” what you desire to do; here, again, to give an offering.

so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.

1.    there may be a performance – means “a completion;” refers to giving an offering.

3.  out of that which ye have – refers to the material wealth of the Corinthians, part of which they will give as an offering.

Listen, Again, to the Living Bible on This Verse

2 Cor 8:11  Having started the ball rolling so enthusiastically, you should carry this project through to completion just as gladly, giving whatever you can out of whatever you have.  (TLB)

Things to Learn from This Verse

1.    You cannot receive an offering without receiving an offering.

2.    Receiving an offering is legitimate Christian function, and Christians should not make excuses for receiving offerings.

3.    The problem is never with whether offerings should be received.  The problem is associated with how an offering is received.

A.    Christians should never be coerced, intimidated, or pressured to give.
B.    Any form of pressure applied to make a Christian give is never God’s plan.

4.    All Christian giving should be the result of a desire to give.

5.    A desire to give is associated with spiritual growth.

6.    The desire to give should always precede the ability to give.

7.    The desire to give is associated with spiritual growth.

8.    The desire to give is the result of spiritual growth.

9.    If a Christian does not have the desire to give there is something wrong with his/her spiritual life.

10.    Having a desire to give is not the same as having the ability to give.

11.    The ability to give is measured by what a person has.

12.    Remember, a Christian cannot give what he/she does not have.

13.    Christians can only give what they have.

14.    There are certain basic needs that all Christians have, for example:  food, clothing, shelter, medical needs.

15.    God does not require any Christian to give his food money to God, his clothing money to God, his shelter money to God, his medical money to God.

16.    Question, brethren.  If God provides money for food, shelter, clothing, medical needs, why can’t he provide money to give to an offering?  The answer:  He can.

17.    God never expects a Christian to give away his/her house payment, utility money, food money, clothing money, or medical expense money.

18.    Giving away one’s house payment, or utility money, or food money, or clothing money, or medical expense money is irrational and foolish.

19.    The Pastor who has access to the money collected in an offering should never use himself/herself as an example for giving.  Reason:  If the Pastor has access to the money collected, he or she can give publicly for the world to see, and then take their money back in the back room where the public cannot see.  Brethren, if I as a Pastor give publicly and then receive that same money back in private, I have deceived my congregation and sinned against God.

20.    Once again, Christians have never been commanded to tithe.

21.    Tithing under the Mosaic Law was income tax and all Jewish citizens were commanded to tithe.

8:12

2 Corinthians 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.  (KJV)

2 Corinthians 8:12  For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he does not have.  (NAS)
2 Corinthians 8:12  For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.  (NIV)
2 Corinthians 8:12  If you are really eager to give, then it isn’t important how much you have to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you haven’t.  (TLB)

For if there first be a willing mind,

if – introduces the protasis and is a 1st class condition.

there be first – first in succession.

a willing mind – “a willing mind” is an attitude of surrender to the Holy Spirit’s leadership.

it is accepted according to that a man hath:

it refers to the amount of money a Christian gives to a church offering

is accepted – this means that God accepts.

according to – this phrase introduces the standard from which a person is to give his offering to the church.

that a man hath

The word man refers to any Christian, man or woman.

And this phrase tells us how God views the manner in which a Christian should give his/her money to the church.  A man is to give from what he has, not from what he doesn’t have.

The word hath refers to the standard from which a person gives and the standard is what you have.

Principle:  Brethren, you can’t give what you do not have!

The word hath refers to the total amount of money that a person has in their possession, and what a person has in their possession may be anything from nothing to something.

and not according to that he hath not.

This phrase refers to the negative side of the picture regarding Christian giving.

This phrase tells us, again, how God views the manner in which a Christian should give his/her money to the church.  God does not expect a Christian to give what he does not have.

The phrase according to that he hath not  means that a person cannot give what he does not have.

Some Principles to Be Learned from This Verse

1.    Before any Christian gives even a penny to an offering, he/she should have a willing mind.

2.    If a believer is not willing to give, he should not give even a penny to the church.  Reason:  God, first, desires a willing mind from his givers.

3.    A willing mind should precede all giving.

4.    No mind is willing to give that must be forced, pressured, coerced, intimidated, badgered to give.

5.    God considers a Christian to have given only when his/her giving is from a willing mind.

6.    You cannot give what you do not have.

7.    Illustration:

If a man has $500.00 worth of bills,
And his income is less than $500.00,
According to God’s plan,
This person should first pay his/her bills,
Even though he/she will have nothing to give to the church offering after the bills are paid.

8.    There is little doubt from Scripture that God demands that Christians first spend their money on their basic needs before giving financially to the church.  Listen to the Bible:

1 Tim 5:8  But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.  (KJV)
1 Tim 5:8  But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.  (NAS)
1 Tim 5:8  If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  (NIV)
1 Tim 5:8  But anyone who won’t care for his own relatives when they need help, especially those living in his own family, has no right to say he is a Christian. Such a person is worse than the heathen.  (TLB)

9.    The idea of caring for one’s family is not new to the Christian era.  Listen as Jesus speaks to the Jewish Pharisees who function under the Mosaic Law.

Mark 7:10-12
10    For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:
11    But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.
12    And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;  (KJV)

Mark 7:10-12
10    “For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death’;
11    but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, anything of mine you might have been helped by is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’
12    you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother;  (NAS)

Mark 7:10-12
10    For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’
11    But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift devoted to God),
12    then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother.  (NIV)

Mark 7:10-12
10    For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother.’ And he said that anyone who speaks against his father or mother must die.
11    But you say it is perfectly all right for a man to disregard his needy parents, telling them, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you! For I have given to God what I could have given to you.’
12    And so you break the law of God in order to protect your man-made tradition. And this is only one example. There are many, many others.”  (TLB)

2 Corinthians 8:12  For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he does not have.  (NAS)
2 Corinthians 8:12  For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.  (NIV)
2 Corinthians 8:12  If you are really eager to give, then it isn’t important how much you have to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you haven’t.  (TLB)

8:13

2 Corinthians 8:13  For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:  (KJV)

2 Corinthians 8:13  For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality–(NAS)
2 Corinthians 8:13  Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.  (NIV)
2 Corinthians 8:13  Of course, I don’t mean that those who receive your gifts should have an easy time of it at your expense,  (TLB)

For I mean

not that other men – refers specifically to the poverty stricken Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.

be eased, – relieved of financial pressure caused by their poverty.

and ye – specifically, the wealthier Gentile Corinthian Christians who are being asked to contribute some of their finances to a group of people toward whom they are naturally racially prejudiced.

be burdened: – refers to increased pressure in the Corinthian Christians’ lives due to donating a portion of their financial resources to relieve the poverty of the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.

8:14

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:  (KJV)

2 Corinthians 8:14  at this present time your abundance being a supply for their want, that their abundance also may become a supply for your want, that there may be equality;  (NAS)
2 Corinthians 8:14  At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality,  (NIV)
2 Corinthians 8:14  but you should divide with them. Right now you have plenty and can help them; then at some other time they can share with you when you need it. In this way, each will have as much as he needs.  (TLB)

but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want

but by an equality

1)    Remember, money is the issue, here, for the Corinthian Christians.

2)    “equality” doesn’t mean that everyone will have the same amount of money.

3)    Let’s try to understand what Paul means by equality.

Question:  How can the Corinthians who are wealthy and the Jerusalem Christians who are poverty stricken be equal if they both don’t end up with the same amount of money?

Illustration:  If the Corinthian Christians have $1,000.00 and the Jerusalem Christians have $0.00, how can they be equal if the Corinthians don’t give them $500.00 so that they each have $500.00.

Answer:  You have to understand the scenario.

1)    The Corinthian Christians need Pastor-Teachers and the Jerusalem Christians have Pastor-Teachers.
2)    The Jerusalem Christians need money and the Corinthian Christians have money.

If the Corinthian Christians will share their wealth with the Jerusalem Christians and the Jerusalem Christians will share their Pastor-Teachers with the Corinthian Christians, the result is said to be equality.

Point:  Here, equality is not equal amounts of money, but equality in SHARING.  You have SHARED and I have SHARED.  If only the Corinthians “shared,” there would be no equality, but if both “share” what they have, EQUALITY is said to be the result.

To say it another way:  You give what you have to offer and I will give what I have to offer, and equality is the result.

Illustration:  If you need pencils, and I have pencils, and I need an airplane, and you have an airplane, and

that now at this time

Question:  Why does Paul say, “now at this time” . . .

Answer:  Because Paul knows that the circumstances for both the Corinthian Christians and the Jerusalem Christians may change at some future time.

Principle:  Life is a spiritual battle, so don’t expect your circumstances to always remain the same.

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:  (KJV)

your abundance – refers to the present wealth of the Corinthian Christians.

may be a supply – something to meet a need.

for their want – refers to the Jerusalem Christians whose need is finances.

there may be equality – refers to a balance between the Corinthian Christians and the Jerusalem Christians, the balance being that both have a need and both have something to share, the result of which is that each share what they have to offer, and each receives what the other has to offer.  Therein, lies the “equality.”

Principle:  God does not always provide in every local church everything needed for that church to function.

Principle:  God frequently provides for one church’s need by providing the supply to another church, just to test the sincerity of that church’s love by watching to see if the local church with the supply will give their supply to the church in need.

Principle:  Christianity demands team work among its churches.

1)    Religion destroys team work.
2)    Carnality destroys team work.

8:15  (Quote from Exodus 16:18)

As it is written, – quote from Ex. 16:18.

He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.

Principle:  One Christian’s gain is another Christian’s supply.

Principle:  One Christian’s lack is another Christian’ opportunity to meet a need.

Principle:  If you have more than you need of anything, you should be alert to the need of another Christian.  It’s possible that you can meet his need with your oversupply.

Principle:  God gives on the basis of  equality in giving, that is, I have a need, you have a need; I share with you, and you share with me.

The concept of equality in giving:

A    B    C
Need    car    Bible    pencil

Supply    pencil    car    Bible

Biblical equality in giving is not based upon whether everyone has the same things alike.
Biblical equality in giving is based upon “sharing” one’s abundance with someone in need, and receiving from another’s abundance to meet your own need.

2 Corinthians 9:1-15
1    For as touching [[ regarding ]] the ministering [[ a reference to the offering discussed in chapter 8 ]] to the saints [[ the poor Christians in Jerusalem ]], it is superfluous [[ even though they know it, Paul is going to say it again ]] for me [[ Paul ]] to write to you [[ wealthier Christians in Corinth ]]:

2 Cor 9:1  For it is superfluous for me to write to you about this ministry to the saints;  (NAS)
2 Cor 9:1  There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints.  (NIV)
2 Cor 9:1  I realize that I really don’t even need to mention this to you, about helping God’s people.  (TLB)

Principle:  Even though we as Christians know what is about to be said, there are times when we need to hear the same thing again!

2    For I know the forwardness [[ readiness ]] of your mind, for which I boast of you [[ the Corinthians ]] to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked [[ stirred into action ]] very many.

2 Cor 9:2  for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the Macedonians, namely, that Achaia has been prepared since last year, and your zeal has stirred up most of them.  (NAS)
2 Cor 9:2  For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.  (NIV)
2 Cor 9:2  For I know how eager you are to do it, and I have boasted to the friends in Macedonia that you were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was this enthusiasm of yours that stirred up many of them to begin helping.  (TLB)

3    Yet have I sent the brethren [[ Titus, Luke and an unknown believer ]], lest our [[ Paul and his team ]] boasting of you [[ Corinthians ]] should be in vain [[ bad information ]] in this behalf [[ the offering for the poor Jewish Christians ]]; that, as I said, ye may be ready [[ having received the offering so that is has now been completed ]]:

2 Cor 9:3  But I have sent the brethren, that our boasting about you may not be made empty in this case, that, as I was saying, you may be prepared;  (NAS)
2 Cor 9:3  But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be.  (NIV)
2 Cor 9:3  But I am sending these men just to be sure that you really are ready, as I told them you would be, with your money all collected; I don’t want it to turn out that this time I was wrong in my boasting about you.  (TLB)

4    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.

2 Cor 9:4  lest if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to speak of you) should be put to shame by this confidence.  (NAS)
2 Cor 9:4  For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we– not to say anything about you– would be ashamed of having been so confident.  NIV)
2 Cor 9:4  I would be very much ashamed– and so would you– if some of these Macedonian people come with me, only to find that you still aren’t ready after all I have told them  (TLB)

5    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.

2 Cor 9:5  So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead to you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, that the same might be ready as a bountiful gift, and not affected by covetousness.  (NAS)
2 Cor 9:5  So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.  (NIV)
2 Cor 9:5  So I have asked these other brothers to arrive ahead of me to see that the gift you promised is on hand and waiting. I want it to be a real gift and not look as if it were being given under pressure.  (TLB)

6    But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

2 Cor 9:6  Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully.  (NAS)
2 Cor 9:6  Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  (NIV)
2 Cor 9:6  But remember this– if you give little, you will get little. A farmer who plants just a few seeds will get only a small crop, but if he plants much, he will reap much.  (TLB)

7    Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

2 Cor 9:7  Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.  (NAS)
2 Cor 9:7  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  (NIV)
2 Cor 9:7  Everyone must make up his own mind as to how much he should give. Don’t force anyone to give more than he really wants to, for cheerful givers are the ones God prizes.  (TLB)

8    And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

2 Cor 9:8  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;  (NAS)
2 Cor 9:8  And 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.  (NIV)
2 Cor 9:8  God is able to make it up to you by giving you everything you need and more so that there will not only be enough for your own needs but plenty left over to give joyfully to others.  (TLB)

9    (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

2 Cor 9:9  as it is written, “He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness abides forever.”
(NAS)
2 Cor 9:9  As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”  (NIV)
2 Cor 9:9  It is as the Scriptures say: “The godly man gives generously to the poor. His good deeds will be an honor to him forever.”  (TLB)

1)    “As it is written” indicates that Paul is quoting is a reference to Psalm 112:9.

Ps 112:9  He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.  (KJV)

2)    This verse is used to introduce the concept of the multiplication of grace through giving.)

10    Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

2 Cor 9:10  Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;  (NAS)
2 Cor 9:10  Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  (NIV)
2 Cor 9:10  For God, who gives seed to the farmer to plant, and later on good crops to harvest and eat, will give you more and more seed to plant and will make it grow so that you can give away more and more fruit from your harvest.  (TLB)

6)    Let’s go back to the principle that it is God who provides both food money and offering money (seed).

A.    Every Christian has legitimate needs:  roof over his head, food for his belly, clothes for his back, transportation, medical needs, utility needs, etc.

B.    When a Christian spends on himself, the result is ADDITION:

1)    Things you might add to yourself:

a.    car:  purchase a car, ADD a car in your garage.
b.    house:  purchase a house, ADD a house to your possessions.
c.    food: purchase food, ADD food to your cupboard.
d.    clothes:  purchase clothes, ADD clothes to your closet.
e.    toys:  purchase toys, ADD toys to the toy box

2)    About those thngs tht you might add to yourself:

a.    All of these items are legitimate needs of any believer.
b.    God supplies finances for these needs.
c.    When you spend money for these needs, you ADD (accumulate) things to yourself.
d.    Whe you give to the church offering, God MULTIPLIES the results.

3)    You can see that spending on yourself results in ADDING THINGS to yourself.

C.    When a believer gives to God, the results are MULTIPLIED.

Ex.:  If you need a pair of shoes and have $200.00, you can spend $100.00 and ADD a pair of shoes and ADD one pair of shoes to your wardrobe, and you can give $100.00 to the church that will MULTIPLY into 50 Bibles for 50 people to tell thousands of people about Jesus, all from the same amount, $100.00.

Principle:  The results of giving to God are GREATER than the results of spending on yourself.

HOWEVER . . .

Principle:  Just because the results of giving to God are greater than the results of spending on yourself, it is not wrong to first spend on your own personal needs.

D.    Note that “fruits” are produced FROM your righteousness.

Principle:  Fruit does not produce righteousness.  Righteousness produces fruit.

Application:  Many Christians operate under the false assumption that if they give some money to the church offering, God will make them righteous, and that is just the opposite of God’s plan.  God’s plan says that if you will become righteous, you will be able to give some money to the church offering.

Diagram:    Righteousness leads to giving.
Giving does not produce righteousness.

E.    Listen to this verse once again:

2 Cor 9:10  Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;  (NAS)
2 Cor 9:10  Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  (NIV)
2 Cor 9:10  For God, who gives seed to the farmer to plant, and later on good crops to harvest and eat, will give you more and more seed to plant and will make it grow so that you can give away more and more fruit from your harvest.  (TLB)

10    Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

11    Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

2 Cor 9:11  you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.  (NAS)
2 Cor 9:11  You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  (NIV)
2 Cor 9:11  Yes, God will give you much so that you can give away much, and when we take your gifts to those who need them they will break out into thanksgiving and praise to God for your help.  (TLB)

Being enriched in everything indicates that when the Christian is living a life that is yielded to the Holy Spirit, God the Father makes provision for that believer to give away what He has provided.

to all bountifulness (listen to the other three versions)

. . . for all liberality. (NAS)
. . . so that you can be generous on every occasion (NIV)
. . . so that you can give away much (TLB)

Note:  Note that God is making the believer wealthy so that his wealth can be given away.
Note:  Note that God is not making the believer wealthy to ADD things to his own life.

12    For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;

2 Cor 9:12  For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.  (NAS)
2 Cor 9:12  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  (NIV)
2 Cor 9:12  So two good things happen as a result of your gifts– those in need are helped, and they overflow with thanks to God.  (TLB)

Three Wonderful Things Happen (vv. 12-13)

1.    Remember that the issue in this passage is giving.

2.    this service – this phrase refers to the offering being received at Corinth.  It is called “service.”  In other words, the Coriunthians are serving the saints in Jerusalem by receiving an offering on their behalf.

2.    For the administration – the word administration acknowledges the fact that human effort is involved in recceiving an offering.  The (NAS) calls it “ministry.”

3.    Two good things are said to occur as a result of receiving this offering:

A.    The needs of the saints in Jerusalem are met.
B.    Thanksgiving to God overflows from Jerusalem.

Principle:  When an offering is distributed to spiritual people with physical needs, their physical needs are met.
Principle:  When spirirutal people’s needs are met through a grace offering, those people overflow with thanks to God.

Listen to the verse one more time from (TLB):  9:12  So two good things happen as a result of your gifts–those in need are helped, and they overflow with thanks to God.  (TLB)

13    Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;

2 Cor 9:13  Because of the proof given by this ministry they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all,  (NAS)
2 Cor 9:13  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.  (NIV)
2 Cor 9:13  Those you help will be glad not only because of your generous gifts to themselves and to others, but they will praise God for this proof that your deeds are as good as your doctrine.  (TLB)

The word experiment has a different meaning, today, than the meaning understood when it was originally translated into the KJV.  The NAS, NIV, and TLB all use the word “proof.”

The word ministration refers to the “offering” and Paul’s point is this:

your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ is just another way of saying that the Corinthians are saved.

your liberal distribution refers to the generosity of the Corinthinas toward the Christian Jews in Jerusalem.

Point:  The Christians in Jerusalem who receive the offering will glorify God because of two things:

1)    Because the Corinthians profess to be Christians.
2.    Because the good deeds of the Corinthians match their profession of faith in Christ.

14    And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.

2 Cor 9:14      while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you.  (NAS)
2 Cor 9:14  And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.  (NIV)
2 Cor 9:14  And they will pray for you with deep fervor and feeling because of the wonderful grace of God shown through you.  (TLB)

15    Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (KJV)

2 Cor 9:15  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!  (NAS)
2 Cor 9:15  Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!  (NIV)
2 Cor 9:15  Thank God for his Son– his Gift too wonderful for words.  (TLB)

Luke 6:38
38    Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (KJV)

Luke 6:38  “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”  (NAS)
Luke 6:38  Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  (NIV)