FOR READERS: I have just started a new blog: xtremejesus.co which is intended to contribute to political and social debate from the point of view of the Jesus tradition. Some have found difficulty in accessing the site from their search engines and browsers. At present, Google Chrome gives it easily.
MEANWHILE, this old faithful blog continues to explore Paul’s Corinthian correspondence day by day. At present it is dealing with 2 Corinthians. I’m assuming that all his Corinthian letters were sent from Ephesos. The news headline is a reminder of the world we live in. The great amount of commentary on this site can be accessed by date from the archive, or by googling emmock.com and adding either a scripture reference or topic, e.g.: emmock.com John 3:16; or emmock.com punishment.
ALIEN SPOTTED NEAR MEXICAN BORDER
Corinthians 8Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
8 Now, brothers, we must tell you about the grace God has given the congregations in Macedonia. 2 Despite severe trials, and even though they are desperately poor, their joy has overflowed in a wealth of generosity. 3 I tell you they have not merely given according to their means, but of their own free will they have given beyond their means. 4 They begged and pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service for God’s people. 5 Also, they didn’t do this in the way we had expected, but first they gave themselves to the Lord, which means, by God’s will, to us.
6 All this has led us to urge Titus to bring this same gracious gift to completion among you, since he has already made a beginning of it. 7 Just as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in diligence of every kind, and in your love for us — see that you excel in this gift too. 8 I am not issuing an order; rather, I am testing the genuineness of your love against the diligence of others. 9 For you know how generous our Lord Yeshua the Messiah was — for your sakes he impoverished himself, even though he was rich, so that he might make you rich by means of his poverty. 10 As I say, in regard to this matter I am only giving an opinion. A year ago you were not only the first to take action but the first to want to do so. Now it would be to your advantage 11 to finish what you started, so that your eagerness in wanting to commence the project may be matched by your eagerness to complete it, as you contribute from what you have. 12 For if the eagerness to give is there, the acceptability of the gift will be measured by what you have, not by what you don’t have. 13 It is not that relief for others should cause trouble for you, but that there should be a kind of reciprocity: 14 at present your abundance can help those in need; so that when you are in need, their abundance can help you — thus there is reciprocity. 15 It is as the Tanakh says,
“He who gathered much had nothing extra,
and he who gathered little had nothing lacking.”
Paul does not mention that this is his collection for the poor of the Jerusalem Assembly. Given the time it took to come to fruition it seems to me that this was not an emergency, but rather a recognition of a difference of wealth between most of the gentile assemblies and the original assembly in Jerusalem. It may also have been a demonstration by Paul of the possibility of koinonia over great distance, a glimpse of what a world assembly could be.
Here on this passage he treads warily, knowing that there had been argument in Corinth about the need for such a gift, and about it being entrusted to Paul. He begins by using the example of the Philippians’ generosity – “divine kindness” he calls it – to whet the competitive spirit of the Corinthians. Then he tells them bluntly that he is sending Titus to pick up their contribution. He argues that their whole existence as Messianic people is based on the generosity of Jesus who gave up wealth, status and power, so that they should be rich in goodness. Again we see the connection Paul makes between the ordinary practice of messianic life and the life of the Messiah.
He reminds them that they had been the first Assembly to respond to his appeal, and can now complete what they had begun. He emphasises that he is not asking anyone to impoverish himself: it is simply a matter of sharing so that nobody goes without. He calls the equality, (isotetes) a word tstrangely that most of our translators are strangely reluctant to use. This is a aspect of Paul’s revolution. All over the world there will be communities willingly committed to equality with their brothers and sisters.nhis quotation from the Bible sums it up well: amongst the Assemblies of Jesus nobody will have too much and nobody too little.
It’s a noble vision which has been poorly implemented in the modern churches. Yes, we have international Aid agencies like Caritas and Christian Aid, but the disparity between the lives of believers in the ‘north’ and those in the ‘south’ is very evident; and the present help offered to believers caught in the Middle East violence by more comfortable brothers and sisters is wholly inadequate. I do not mean that Christian believers should limit their attention to their fellow believers, but if the churches did show an example of equality, it would be influential not only in international matters but also in more domestic concerns. for example, in education. If Christian parents refused to act simply for the maximum advantage of their own child, and tried to act for the benefit of all kids in the area, they might shame others into seeking communal rather than simply individual good. Paul wanted his Corinthians to honour equality in a practical way by contributing to his collection.