I will send the men . . . to take your kind gift to Jerusalem: About 55 C.E., the Christians in Judea had fallen into poverty, so Paul supervised the collection of relief funds from the congregations in Galatia, Macedonia, and Achaia. (1Co 16:1, 2; 2Co 8:1, 4; 9:1, 2) When he set out on the long journey to Jerusalem in 56 C.E. to deliver the contribution, Paul was accompanied by a number of men. The group were carrying money entrusted to them by several congregations, each of which may have supplied men to accompany Paul. (Ac 20:3, 4; Ro 15:25, 26) Such a large company may have been needed for security because robbers posed a threat to safe passage. (2Co 11:26) Since only approved men would be delivering the collected funds along with Paul, there would not be any reason to suspect these men of misusing the funds. Those giving the contributions could be confident that the money would be used properly.—2Co 8:20.
I am sending the brothers: See study note on 1Co 16:3.
not as something extorted: The Greek word here rendered “something extorted” is usually translated “greed” or “greediness.” (Lu 12:15; Ro 1:29; Eph 4:19; 5:3; Col 3:5) Therefore, the Greek expression indicates that Paul and his coworkers did not take up a collection with the wrong motive, in a spirit of greed. Paul did not pressure the Christians in Corinth into contributing to the relief work. He gave them no reason to feel as if someone had exploited them or extorted the funds from them. The giving was to be voluntary, out of a generous and cheerful heart.—2Co 9:7.
whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully: The expression “bountifully” describes sowing an abundance of material blessings or benefits. Paul encourages the Christians in Corinth to sow bountifully, that is, to show generosity in connection with the relief ministry for the brothers in Jerusalem. (Ro 15:26; 2Co 8:4; 9:1, 7) Those brothers had apparently suffered many hardships, perhaps losing many of their possessions as a result of persecution from the Jews. (1Th 2:14) Paul indicates that the Corinthian Christians would also “reap bountifully,” receiving such blessings as God’s undeserved kindness and favor, as well as the assurance that they too would be cared for in a material way. (2Co 9:8, 10) All the brothers would give glory to God and thank him, either for the privilege of giving or for the assistance that they received.—2Co 9:11-14.
has resolved in his heart: In discussing the relief effort to help the needy Christians in Judea, Paul was confident that the Christians in Corinth desired to contribute to the effort. (2Co 8:4, 6, 10; 9:1, 2) Now the Corinthians needed to turn their willingness and zeal into action. (2Co 9:3-5) Paul did not want to pressure them, for a person can hardly be “a cheerful giver” when he or she is coerced. Paul trusted that they had already resolved to give. The Greek word rendered “resolved” in this verse means “to decide beforehand; to determine ahead of time.” So Paul points out that a genuine Christian gives after he has considered ahead of time the needs of fellow believers and how he can contribute toward filling those needs.
grudgingly: Or “reluctantly.” The Greek expression rendered “grudgingly” literally means “out of sadness (grief).”
under compulsion: The Greek expression for “under compulsion” means “from necessity” or “under pressure.” Giving cannot result in real happiness to the giver if it is forced, causing one to feel pressured to give. Thus, Paul indicates that in the early Christian congregation, making contributions was to be completely voluntary.—Compare De 15:10.
for God loves a cheerful giver: God is very pleased with a Christian who gives with the right motive to support true worship or to assist fellow believers. “A cheerful giver” is truly happy because he or she is able to give. Throughout history, God’s people have received joy from giving of themselves and their resources to support Jehovah’s worship. For example, the Israelites of Moses’ day joyfully supported the construction of the tabernacle. Those “with a willing heart” cheerfully gave gold, silver, wood, linen, and other things as a voluntary “contribution for Jehovah.” (Ex 35:4-35; 36:4-7) Centuries later, King David, along with princes, chiefs, and others, contributed generously toward the temple of Jehovah to be built by David’s son Solomon.—1Ch 29:3-9.
has distributed widely: In his discussion of giving aid to needy fellow believers, Paul quotes the Greek Septuagint translation of Ps 112:9 (111:9, LXX), where the Greek word here rendered “distributed widely” is used to render the corresponding Hebrew term. Both the Greek and the Hebrew terms literally mean “to scatter.” In this context, the expression conveys the figurative idea of generous or abundant giving or distributing. Thus, it could also be translated “has distributed generously.” The truly generous person does not fear that his freehearted giving, even if it sometimes exceeds his actual financial means, will bring him to poverty.—2Co 9:8, 10.
His righteousness: Paul continues to quote from the Hebrew Scriptures. (See study note on has distributed widely in this verse.) The one who does kind and beneficial deeds, such as giving generously to the poor, shows that he has the quality of “righteousness.” A person who conducts himself in harmony with God’s will and righteous standards rather than his own has the hope of doing so forever.—Compare Mt 6:1, 2, 33.
public service: Paul applies this term to the ministry, or the relief work, that was carried out “to provide well for the needs of” the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem and Judea. Such work, or service, was truly of great benefit to fellow worshippers. The Greek word lei·tour·giʹa, used here, and the related words lei·tour·geʹo (to render public service) and lei·tour·gosʹ (public servant, or worker) were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to refer to work or service for the State or for civil authorities and done for the benefit of the people. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, these terms are frequently used in connection with the temple service and the Christian ministry. For this usage, see study notes on Lu 1:23; Ac 13:2; Ro 13:6; 15:16.
a public servant: The Greek word lei·tour·gosʹ is derived from the words la·osʹ, “people,” and erʹgon, “work.” The word was originally used by the ancient Greeks to refer to a person performing work or service under the civil authorities, usually at personal expense, for the benefit of the people. There was a similar arrangement under the Romans. As used in the Bible, the term usually refers to one who is serving in sacred office. The related term lei·tour·giʹa is frequently used in the Septuagint to refer to “duties” (Nu 7:5) and “service” (Nu 4:28; 1Ch 6:32 [6:17, LXX]) carried out by the priests at the tabernacle and at Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem. Here Paul uses the term lei·tour·gosʹ with regard to himself, “an apostle to the [Gentile] nations” who proclaimed the good news of God. (Ro 11:13) This preaching would be of great benefit to the public, particularly to people of the nations.
public servants: The Greek word lei·tour·gosʹ (public servant, or worker) used here and the related words lei·tour·geʹo (to render public service) and lei·tour·giʹa (public service) were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to refer to work or service for the State or for civil authorities that was done for the benefit of the people. (The above-mentioned Greek words are derived from la·osʹ, “people,” and erʹgon, “work.”) Here the secular authorities are called God’s “public servants” (plural form of lei·tour·gosʹ) in the sense that they provide beneficial services for the people. However, in the Christian Greek Scriptures, these Greek terms are frequently used in connection with the temple service and the Christian ministry. For this usage, see study notes on Lu 1:23; Ac 13:2; Ro 15:16.
were ministering: Or “were publicly ministering.” The Greek word lei·tour·geʹo used here and the related words lei·tour·giʹa (public service, or ministry) and lei·tour·gosʹ (public servant, or worker) were used by the ancient Greeks to refer to work or service performed for the State or for civil authorities and to the benefit of the people. For example, at Ro 13:6, the secular authorities are called God’s “public servants” (plural form of lei·tour·gosʹ) in the sense that they provide beneficial services for the people. At Lu 1:23 (see study note), the term lei·tour·giʹa is rendered “holy service” (or, “public service”) regarding the ministry of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. In that verse, the use of the word lei·tour·giʹa reflects how it and related terms are used in the Septuagint in connection with the service performed by priests and Levites at the tabernacle (Ex 28:35; Nu 1:50; 3:31; 8:22) and at the temple (2Ch 31:2; 35:3; Joe 1:9, 13; 2:17). Such service included the idea of a ministry for the benefit of the people. However, the idea of holiness was included in some contexts because the Levitical priests taught God’s Law (2Ch 15:3; Mal 2:7) and offered sacrifices that covered the sins of the people (Le 1:3-5; De 18:1-5). At Ac 13:2, the Greek word lei·tour·geʹo is used in a more general sense, describing the ministering by Christian prophets and teachers in the congregation in Antioch of Syria. The word refers to the different expressions of devotion and service to God, including such aspects of the Christian ministry as prayer, preaching, and teaching. The ministry performed by these prophets and teachers no doubt included preaching to the public.—Ac 13:3.
holy service: Or “public service.” The Greek word lei·tour·giʹa used here and the related words lei·tour·geʹo (to render public service) and lei·tour·gosʹ (public servant, or worker) were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to refer to work or service for the State or for civil authorities and done for the benefit of the people. For example, at Ro 13:6, the secular authorities are called God’s “public servants” (plural form of lei·tour·gosʹ) in the sense that they provide beneficial services for the people. The term as used here by Luke reflects the usage found in the Septuagint, where the verb and noun forms of this expression frequently refer to the temple service of the priests and Levites. (Ex 28:35; Nu 8:22) Service performed at the temple included the idea of a public service for the benefit of the people. However, it also included holiness, since the Levitical priests taught God’s Law and offered sacrifices that covered the sins of the people.—2Ch 15:3; Mal 2:7.
have a share in the relief ministry: Paul uses the Greek noun di·a·ko·niʹa, here rendered “relief ministry.” The word is often used in the Bible to describe humble services performed out of love for others. It is significant that this Greek noun is used for the twofold ministry in which Christians share, the preaching work and the relief work. (See study note on Ac 11:29.) In this verse, Paul refers specifically to bringing relief to fellow Christians who are struck by hardship. (2Co 9:13; see study note on Ro 15:31.) The Macedonian congregations considered it a privilege to share in this relief work. Both aspects of the Christian ministry constitute “sacred service.”—Ro 12:1, 6-8.
to associating together: Or “to sharing with one another.” The basic meaning of the Greek word koi·no·niʹa is “sharing; fellowship.” Paul used this word several times in his letters. (1Co 1:9; 10:16; 2Co 6:14; 13:14) The context of this passage shows that this fellowship involves close friendship rather than just casual acquaintance.
fellowship: Or “a sharing.” Paul uses the Greek word koi·no·niʹa several times in his letters. (1Co 10:16; 2Co 6:14; 13:14) In this context, this word implies that fellowship with God’s Son involves close friendship and unity.—See study note on Ac 2:42.
relief ministry: This is translated from the Greek term usually rendered “ministry,” which shows that relief efforts in behalf of needy believers are a vital aspect of the Christian ministry, part of “sacred service.”—Ro 12:1, 7; see study notes on Ac 11:29; Ro 15:31; 2Co 8:4.
contribution: The Greek word koi·no·niʹa conveys the basic idea of sharing, and the meaning varies according to context. (See study notes on Ac 2:42; 1Co 1:9.) Here it conveys the idea of giving that is motivated by a feeling of fellowship. The same word is similarly used at Heb 13:16: “Do not forget to do good and to share what you have with others, for God is well-pleased with such sacrifices.”
my ministry: The Greek word di·a·ko·niʹa, often rendered “ministry,” is here used in the sense of “relief work (or, ministry),” as at Ac 11:29; 12:25; 2Co 8:4; 9:13. The congregations in Macedonia and Achaia had shared in a “relief ministry,” gathering together a contribution for Paul to take to the needy brothers in Judea. (2Co 8:1-4; 9:1, 2, 11-13) Instead of di·a·ko·niʹa, a few ancient manuscripts use the word do·ro·pho·riʹa (bringing of a gift) here. Some suggest that this was the result of a scribe’s attempt to explain what kind of “ministry” Paul was referring to.—See study note on Ac 11:29.
relief: Or “a relief ministration.” This is the first recorded instance of Christians sending relief aid to fellow Christians living in another part of the world. The Greek word di·a·ko·niʹa, often rendered “ministry,” is also used in the sense of “relief work” at Ac 12:25 and “relief ministry” at 2Co 8:4. The use of the Greek word di·a·ko·niʹa in the Christian Greek Scriptures shows that Christians have a twofold ministry. One aspect is “the ministry [form of di·a·ko·niʹa] of the reconciliation,” that is, the preaching and teaching work. (2Co 5:18-20; 1Ti 2:3-6) The other aspect involves their ministry in behalf of fellow believers, as mentioned here. Paul stated: “There are different ministries [plural of di·a·ko·niʹa], and yet there is the same Lord.” (1Co 12:4-6, 11) He showed that these different aspects of the Christian ministry all constitute “sacred service.”—Ro 12:1, 6-8.
This artist’s rendering shows a family in Corinth contributing what they have set aside on a regular basis to provide relief to their brothers in Judea. (1Co 16:2) The family cheerfully cooperates with those in the congregation who are responsible for organizing this relief work. Because these parents teach their son to contribute, the child learns the greater joy that comes from giving. (Ac 20:35) A year before, the Corinthian congregation had expressed readiness to donate. (2Co 8:10, 11) So in his second inspired letter, Paul encourages the congregation to complete this act of kindness.