Life-Study of 2 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In chapter nine of 2 Corinthians Paul gives an additional word concerning the ministry to the needy saints. It may seem to us that this chapter is not necessary, for we may think that what Paul says in chapter eight is sufficient. According to your understanding, why does Paul give an additional word in chapter nine? If you read these two chapters again, you may consider that regarding the ministry to the needy saints, the first part alone of chapter eight is adequate and that the last part of chapter eight and all of chapter nine are not actually necessary. We need to ask why Paul devoted so much space to this matter. As we shall see, his reason for doing so is related to certain profound thoughts.
Paul’s thought in chapters eight and nine is profound. The key to understanding Paul’s profound thought is found in two matters. First, in 8:15 Paul concludes, “As it is written, He who gathered much had no excess, and he who gathered little had no lack.” This is a quotation from Exodus 16:18 concerning the gathering of manna for the daily supply. Why does the Apostle Paul connect ministering the supply of material things to the saints to the gathering of manna? If we consider this matter thoughtfully, we shall realize that ministering material things to the needy saints certainly is for their daily supply. Manna was gathered for the daily supply of the children of Israel, and material things were ministered to the needy saints also for their daily supply. Paul’s quotation of Exodus 16:18 is a crucial factor in our grasping his profound thought.
The second matter related to Paul’s profound thought in chapters eight and nine concerns his word in 9:6 about sowing: “But this: he who sows sparingly, sparingly also shall reap; and he who sows with blessings, with blessings also shall reap.” Here Paul likens the ministering of material things to the needy saints to the sowing of seed. The sowing of seed, like the gathering of manna, is for daily supply. Therefore, both the gathering and the sowing are for the same purpose, for both are for our living.
In the Bible there are two ways for God’s people to live. The first way is according to the natural law ordained by God. This is to sow seed and reap a harvest. In Genesis 3 God ordained that man would till the ground in order to have something to live on. The sowing of the seed is for man’s living. This is the way according to the natural law ordained by God. No race or nationality can survive without sowing, without farming. To farm is to sow the seed and reap a harvest.
The second way for God’s people to live is the way of miracles from the hand of God. When the children of Israel were in Egypt, they lived according to the natural way. But when they came out of Egypt and were wandering in the wilderness, they lived by another way, by the way of God’s miracles. The people did not sow any seed, but they gathered manna. We could say that they reaped without sowing, for their gathering was a reaping. In the wilderness the children of Israel continually reaped without sowing. The raining down of manna from heaven was a substitute for sowing. Human beings can sow seed, but only God can cause manna to rain down. In the wilderness the children of Israel gathered the manna sent by God.
According to Exodus 16, the children of Israel gathered manna every morning, except for the Sabbath day. On the sixth day they gathered a double portion in order to have a sufficient supply for the Sabbath. Exodus 16:17 and 18 say, “And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.”
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