Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 25, 1962
NUMBER 37, PAGE 3,11b-14

What Teacheth The Context Of 2 Corinthians 9:13?

Herbert E. Winkler, Nashville, Tennessee

Fifty years ago men would go into minute details in studying the Scriptures as to a word, or statement of the apostles. Back in those days the brethren around Nashville with whom I was thrown and under whose teaching I was tutored in the Sacred Writings of the apostles went to the Scriptures for a self-interpretation of a difficult passage.

There was, in those days, (now a lost art) the practice of studying a passage within, or in connection with its context. Often in a class or the pulpit the speaker would say, "Well, let's study the context and get the thought the apostle would have us get." The word context was a word much used in the past: but seems to have slipped into the list of forgotten arts of a past era. How long has it been since you have heard a man in the pulpit refer to the context in the study of a word, op, clause, or a sentence and say, " Now the context shows thus and so."


But what is meant by the word context?

Context: "The part or parts of a discourse preceding or following a 'text' or a passage or a word, or so intimately associated with it as to throw light upon its meaning." Webster. Con-tex-tual: "Of, pertaining to, or conforming to, the context." Webster.

During my life-time the church has struggled to her feet from the crippling blow she received from the stroke of the apostasy culminating in the final division about 1906 in the forming of the denominational status of the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) as opposed to the Church of Christ. And since the day of the division the Church of Christ, after getting to her feet, has gone forward at an accelerated pace, extended her borders, grown fat with property and large imposing, cathedral-like church buildings and has announced to the world that she has arrived by climbing on the band-wagon and getting "On the march" and doing big things in a big way. And so, if you want to stop long enough to study the context of a passage, they can't slow the wheels of "On the March" for such a minor thing.

You know, in our present time, many devices and gimmicks are being projected into the activities of the church. A desperate effort has been launched to show that Gal. 6:10 and James 1:27 present a church or congregational duty or action instead of individual action only. The context of each of these passages shows, beyond a doubt, that the individual is the only one under consideration. And with reference to the action of the congregation in benevolence, all the passages are specific in stating that the benevolence was to the (poor) saints. But someone has found a passage, and it seems to be passing from one to another, which they claim teaches that the contributions Paul raised among the churches as mentioned in the Corinthian Epistles was for both saint and sinner. 2 Cor. 9:13 is the passage. "Whiles by the experiment of the ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men."

And they claim that the "all men" includes the sinner also, as the recipient of the contribution Paul gathered for the poor saints at Jerusalem. It is significant that the word "men" in the King James Version is italicized and that the Revised Version omits the word "men."

What does the context show? The entire context of all the places where this contribution is mentioned, (1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8 & 9; Rom. 15:25-28) shows that the "poor among the saints that are at Jerusalem," (Rom. 15:26) were the ones for whom the certain contribution was made. You will note that Rom. 15:26 in both versions states that this was "a certain contribution." Read them both. The very context of these passages prove that the churches were accustomed to making contributions to the poor. The church at Antioch, for example, made a contribution, some time before, to the churches in Judea. (Acts 11:27-30)

2 Cor. 9:12-14 follows: "For the ministration of this service not only filleth up the measure of the wants of the saints, but aboundeth also through many thanksgivings unto God; seeing that through the proving of you by this ministration they glorify God for the obedience of your confession unto the gospel of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution unto them and unto all "men"; while they themselves also, with supplication on your behalf, long after you by reason of the exceeding grace of God in you." The "thanksgivings unto God" were made "for the liberality of your contribution unto them and unto all." For instance, the brethren would not only thank God for the gift to them only, but for the benevolence to brethren elsewhere as well.

Philip Doddridge in his Paraphase of the New Testament says: "If we understand this, with Dr. Whitby, in the following sense. 'I adore God for this charitable temper in you, and other sincere Christians, by which God is glorified, the gospel adorned, the poor Saints are refreshed, and you fitted for an exceeding great Reward'."

J. W. McGarvey says: "If the attitude of the unchristian Jewish mind toward him was still relentlessly bitter, it must be borne in mind that he took no collection for them, and that they were in no manner in his thought in this connection."

David Lipscomb's Commentary: "Seeing their obedience and fidelity to the gospel of Christ and their liberality to the poor saints in Jerusalem in the offerings they made, prompted them to glorify God for their professed subjection to the gospel of Christ, and their beneficence to all men, for they excluded no Christian from their fellowship."

The absurdity of the claim that "all men" included the non-christian is clearly seen by the following: On verse 13, Adam Clarke comments as follows: " By the experiment of this ministration'. In this, and in the preceding and following verses, the apostle enumerates the good effects that would be produced by their liberal almsgiving to the poor Saints at Jerusalem. I. The wants of the saints would be supplied. 2. Many thanksgivings would thereby be rendered unto God. 3. The Corinthians would thereby give proof of their subjection to the Gospel. AND 4. The prayers of those relieved will ascend up to God in the behalf of their benefactors."

The construction put on this verse by our liberal brethren would include the non-christian of Paul's day — his persecutors included. Can you imagine Paul's taking up a contribution for the enemies of the cross of Christ and his persecutors AND then those enemies of the cross and his persecutors giving "many thanksgivings unto God" and "glorify God for the obedience of your (the Corinthians') confession unto the gospel of Christ, and for the liberality of your (the Corinthians') contribution unto them and unto all?" The thought is preposterous, absurd, utterly foolish. Of the unchristian Jew McGarvey said above: "It must be borne in mind that he (Paul) took no collection for them, and that they were in no manner in his thought in this connection."

Now, let's look at this scripture's counterpart in Acts 2:44, 45. "And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all MEN, as any man had need." Here again the word "'men" is italicized in the Authorized Version but omitted in the Revised. I think the picture is clear to every clear thinker. But suppose, as some of the brethren are doing, that the "all men" in 2 Cor. 9:13 includes the non-christian, the "all men" here in Acts 2:45 will also have to include him. If not, what logic will apply to make the difference? Do you argue that the context of Acts 2 would exclude the un-believer? So would the context of 1 Cor. 16:1; 2 Cor. 8 & 9; and Rom. 15:25-27 also exclude the un-believer. It would be repulsive to all benevolence to suppose Paul would encourage the churches of Macedonia, Achaia, Galatia and others to make a contribution to the infidel Jews who were hounding him, perverting the gospel and seeking to destroy the churches. So, also, of Acts 2:45. It would have been contrary to all of God's requirements to think of the disciples at Jerusalem selling their possessions and distributing the proceeds among the unbelieving Jews who "Denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted unto you, and killed the Prince of life." (Acts 3:14, 15) And also the "rulers" and "elders" and "scribes" and "Annas the high priest" and "Caiaphas" and others that made up the council who "beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus. (Acts 5:40) If those who concluded that the "all men" in 2 Cor. 9:13 included non-christians had been conversant with the scriptures sufficiently well to have recalled Acts 2:45 and concluded that the "all men" were only the men of the context they would have avoided this embarrassment.

But you could go into most any church, among us, and get up in the pulpit and mention the context of the passage, but few would know what you were talking about. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." (Hos. 4:6)

Now taking the "all men" out of its context, separate and independent thereof (in 2 Cor. 9:13) and making it include the alien sinner is proof that their position is suffering all the agonies of the want of support. That the Scriptures must be so wrested by anyone is proof of the fallacy of his position. And such wresting, warping, twisting, wrenching and malicious handling of the word of the Lord is to the destruction of the person who so deceitfully uses it. (2 Cor. 4:2)

Brethren, let's face it like men. There is no mistake about it. There has, within the past few decades, mushroomed a malignancy in the church of our Lord which has destroyed "The," down to earth, "love of the Truth." (See 2 Thess. 2:10-11) Yes, "The man of sin" is still at work. Alas!

Consider The Following

Benevolence to the poor among God's people will cause the Gospel of Christ to appeal to the people of the world and tend to draw them under its influence. Whereas, if we promiscuously or indiscriminately extend benevolence to all people their present wants will be supplied and the gospel will probably have no further appeal to them. With the church moving along in a quiet, unassuming way taking care of her needy members, the world will take note of the proof of the love which exists among God's people and want those great principles which shape the activities of our lives, to order their own. To turn the church of our Lord into a general Benevolent Society would dwarf and hinder the Spiritual aspect of the Kingdom of Heaven, in the eyes of the world, and we would be doing dishonor to the glorious plan of the spiritual redemption of the race and to its Maker by appealing to and influencing man to the Kingdom of God through his carnal instead of his spiritual needs. Those thusly influenced would have no higher conception of the church of the Lord than that it was designed only to care for the needs of the belly. Those of you who think the church should extend benevolence to the people of the world: How do you account for the fact that Christ, who had all power at his disposal, let people sicken and die all around him for not using the power he had to spare them all?

Jesus put the emphasis where it belonged: upon the spiritual, and only as proof of his deity he took advantage of the most acute and needed occasions to demonstrate his deity and thus prove his identity as God's Son and the Saviour of men's souls. (John 20:30, 31)

He fed people on special occasions to accentuate his identity by feeding four thousand and five thousand with what would not make a meal for two, and accused the unbelieving of following him for the loaves and fishes: " Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs, but because ye ate of the loaves, and were filled." (John 6:26)

"Let him that readeth understand." Jesus.