2 Corinthians 9 Study Notes


9:1-5 This section explains that Paul wanted to spare the Corinthians the embarrassment that would happen if their pledge went unfulfilled and others learned about it.

9:1 On ministry to the saints, see note at 8:4.

9:2 The Macedonians lived in the province north of Achaia, the province in which Corinth was located (see note at 1:1). Evidently what Paul had written in 1Co 16:1-4 had met with an enthusiastic pledge from the Corinthians. He had learned about this and boasted of the Corinthians’ zeal to the Macedonian churches. This had become a factor in the generous offering for Jerusalem that Paul had already received from Macedonia (8:1-4).

9:4 Paul appealed to the Corinthians’ sense of integrity to keep their promise of a generous gift.

9:5 Paul intended to arrive in Corinth after Titus and the two brothers arrived, by which time the collection would be ready for him to take to Jerusalem. This is in fact what happened, as noted in Rm 15:25-27 (which was written from Corinth). The phrase a gift and not . . . an extortion may be translated literally as “a blessing and not a [matter of] greed.” In other words, the giving was to be done because this would benefit others, without the givers thinking of getting back something material in return.

9:6-15 These verses contain the most explicit passage in the NT on stewardship. Because no individuals or places are named, the passage is easy to apply broadly.

9:6 The words sparingly . . . sparingly . . . generously . . . generously state a principle that is proverbially true, based on common agricultural experience. Here it is applied to financial matters, but see Lk 6:38; Gl 6:7-9.

9:7 Christian stewardship, like other good works, flows ideally from a heart of love for God and others rather than from a sense of duty (Mt 22:37-40).

9:8 A form of the Greek word for “all” is used in four phrases here, translated as every grace . . . every way . . . everything you need, and every good work. A closely related word is translated always.

9:9 This quotation of Ps 112:9 is taken from a song about those who fear the Lord by living lives of righteous obedience to him, extolling them to give to the poor.

9:10-11 These verses return to the agricultural metaphor of v. 6, emphasizing God’s sovereignty in providing for the material needs of believers (seed) as well as for their spiritual needs (righteousness).

9:12-13 The impact of the Corinthians’ gift to the poor believers in Jerusalem would go far beyond Jerusalem. Other congregations would learn about it and praise God for the generosity of the Corinthians. Christian stewardship is one important way to acknowledge the truth of Christ’s gospel before others. For other instances of Paul’s use of “confess” or confession, see Rm 10:9-10; 1Tm 6:12-13.


Greek pronunciation [tah pay NAHSS]
CSB translation humble
Uses in 2 Corinthians 2
Uses in the NT 8
Focus passage 2 Corinthians 10:1

The Greek adjective tapeinos means humble, lowly, or downcast. The related verb tapeinoo means to humiliate, humble, or make ashamed, and occurs fourteen times in the NT (four in Paul’s writings).

The ancient Greeks so emphasized personal strength and self-sufficiency that tapeinos and its related words were almost always used in a negative sense. To be humble or lowly was considered a vice. However, Jesus elevated tapeinos to the status of a virtue when he said, “I am lowly and humble in heart” (Mt 11:29), and Paul used tapeinoo to describe the incarnation (Php 2:8). Jesus warned that those who promote themselves will be judged by God, but he also said that those who humble themselves will be rewarded (Mt 23:12; Lk 14:11; 18:14; see Mt 18:4; 2Co 11:7). True humility is the opposite of putting self first. Humility means that a person does not think of self at all but instead thinks of the needs of others and makes their needs a priority (see Php 2:3-4). God gives grace to those who practice such humility (Jms 4:6; 1Pt 5:5).

9:14 An added incentive for giving is that other believers will pray for those who give generously, because generous giving is evidence of the grace of God already at work in such people.

9:15 His indescribable gift refers to God’s Son, Jesus. Giving ought to be an expression of appreciation to God for sending Jesus (Jn 3:16).