Updated: Feb 4
As you excel in everything– in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you– so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.
I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something– now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has– not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written,
“The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”
This is the Epistle selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 8. This will next be read aloud in church by a reader on Sunday, July 1, 2018. It is important because Paul delves into the benefits of having received the Holy Spirit and become one with Jesus Christ.
In verse 7, the Greek word translated as “you excel” is “perisseuete.” The root verb, “perisseuó,” more readily states, “I exceed the ordinary (the necessary), abound, overflow; am left over,” which makes “excel” an acceptable substitute. However, “excel” can be read as a form of personal achievement, brought about by natural talents and a devotion to perfect one’s mastering of some desired action; but this personal achievement cannot be read into this word penned by Paul.
To read the intent as Paul stating to the Christians of Corinth as him stating, “You exceed the ordinary in everything,” the explanation is then the gifts that have been allowed them all by God. The level of “excellence” Paul knew the Corinthians displayed was the same as that coming from the talents that God gives to all His Apostles. Therefore, he could list them specifically as 1.) Faith; 2.) Speech; 3.) Knowledge; and 4.) Eagerness (as far as this translation allows one to see).
In the Greek written, the end of this list states, “and in the (ones) , from us to you , love , that also , in this the grace , you should abound.” The presence of marks of pause and reflection (commas) then makes it possible to add to the list: 5.) A brotherhood of Saints; 6.) God’s love; and 7.) The gift of the presence of Jesus Christ.
The Greek word written, “chariti” (like “charity”), means “grace, favor, kindness,” where its use in the New Testament implied such “grace” “as a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ, (b) favor, (c) gratitude, thanks, (d) a favor, kindness.” It is this “grace” or “favor” that binds one Apostle to all Apostles in the brotherhood of Jesus Christ, where all Apostles (males and females He made them) are reborn Sons of God. The unity that binds is God’s love, and this union is not from practice, desire, or aptitude that is achieved through personal will, as it is only possible as a gift of God. This list of Paul is, therefore, the rewards of one’s soul being married to God through the cleansing of the Holy Spirit, all of which is gained after the dowry of marriage has been paid in full –the sacrifice of one’s self will in obedience and submission to God’s Will.
The next verse does not state that Paul was “testing the genuineness of your love against the eagerness of others,” but instead Paul wrote from afar, with the personal experience of a true Christian. This means he admitted he was not commanding anything of the Corinthians, but simply stating some facts that become apparent through the Mind of Christ. This Mind knew the “eagerness” of all Apostles to please God. As such, Paul was stating how he knew this love of God within the Christians of Corinth would prove itself as genuine, through their acceptance of new disciples, just as Paul had accepted them. Less than a “testing” by Paul, the presence of Jesus Christ within the Corinthians would be “proving the genuineness of their love” to others.
Paul then stated, “You know indeed the grace of the Lord of us Jesus Christ,” which stated the Christians of Corinth, just like the Christian Paul and his Apostle companions, knew the presence of Jesus Christ was one with their beings, due to “the grace” (“charin”) Jesus Christ brought them as their personal “Lord.” That presence is sent upon all of God’s lovers in marriage, because God will accept no less than perfection in His brides (males and females He marries His brides). That presence of Jesus Christ as the Lord of an Apostle is “for the sake of them,” due to their human actions of devotion and commitment to God.
When we read the translation above that says, “That though [Jesus Christ] was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor,” the meaning is an Apostle, as a human being, is impoverished by sin. To cleanse a soul of sin, one must sacrifice the self-ego, which then leaves a human body with only a soul. The riches of the world have been turned aside, placing one into a vow of poverty. This is the dowry a human being must make in order to accept the proposal of marriage with God. Therefore, when one has become poor, then Jesus Christ comes from the richness of Heaven, entering the soul of the cleansed.
When Paul then finished this thought by writing, “so that by [Jesus Christ’s] poverty you might become rich,” this says that the coming of Jesus Christ within one’s being is so one can “become rich.” These riches are not measured in material means, but in Spiritual gifts: faith, speech, knowledge, eagerness, brotherhood, love, and the presence of Jesus Christ as one’s identity.
Still, Paul added his advice to the Corinthians, about this presence of Jesus Christ within, and how their vows of poverty could be “profitable for you” (“hymin sympherei”). The translation above – “for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something” – misses the point Paul made about “thelein,” which is a direct statement about the sacrifice made a year ago, which was that of personal “will, wish, desire, intend, and design.” Instead of Paul referencing the Corinthians’ “desire to do something,” as if he made a suggestion to rekindle their personal egos, but he instead advised they “now finish doing it.” The Greek word written, “epitelesate,” means Paul recommended the Corinthians “complete, accomplish, and/or perfect” their submission to God’s Will.
Paul then explained this “completion” by writing, “so even as there was readiness to the will [of God to submit to], so also the [readiness] to complete.” He then continued by saying, “if indeed the readiness is present, as if he might have acceptable, not as not he does not have.” The translation above says this as, “For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has– not according to what one does not have.” The meaning is to submit completely to the Will of God, without question and without any personal desire for more gifts of God, seemingly brought on by the eagerness to serve God, but in reality as a personal quest to be ranking higher among the men of God. A total commitment does not keep up with what other talents other Apostles possess. A total commitment to God releases all personal desires and accepts what God allows.
The translation above that states, “I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you,” the focus is on one feeling pains by not being able to help another, due to the limitations of God’s gifts bestowed. An Apostle is still feeling personal ego pains when they feel such pressure to perform as self, rather than as Jesus Christ reborn. The literal statement coming from the Greek words written by Paul say, “not indeed to others ease, but for you affliction; but of equality,” where “isotētos” means, “equality, equality of treatment, and fairness.” One still bearing the weight of self-ego is equal to the one who has yet to sacrifice his or hers, such that one is attracted to another for the purpose of seeing one’s shortcomings before God, more than being able to see one’s self as God on earth.
This makes the advice of Paul to the Corinthians to be a recommendation to further their commitment to God, rather than as a way to see the inequalities among the Apostles as a measurement of one’s piety before God. One must thank God for all His generosities and see His equal treatment of all His wives (males and females He takes human wives). Anything less than seeing this means more self-sacrifice is required.
This is the purpose behind Paul writing, as translated above, “it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance.” This is then based on “the present time” (“en tō nyn”) of the epistle’s writing, which is always the “time” of relevance, where one’s personal “abundance” from God, to meet the needs of others, is always relative to the needs of others being to a reflection of one’s own needs, where the equality exposed is in how one retains the sins of the world, rather than release them through completion of sacrifice.
The issue of equality is then found in Paul quoting from Exodus 16:18, stating, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.” This is relative to the gathering of manna that was sent by God and the instructions given to the Israelites by Moses. This quote by Paul is then reference to the surrounding story in Exodus 16, where we read:
“Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’”
The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.
Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”
However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.” (Exodus 16:15b-20)
This then becomes applicable to the talents and gifts of the Holy Spirit, as sent to God’s wives just as God sent manna to the Israelites.
Paul was recommending that the Apostles in Corinth see the value of being given the food of Jesus Christ, which is sent to be gathered in portions and measurements that equate to those who will be fed by it. All that comes through the Holy Spirit is to be used. None can be wasted. The only waste is found in those who still retain self-ego and seek more than needed.
As an epistle selection for the sixth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry for God should be underway, this tells one the talents one should already possess: faith that peaks from personal experience in Jesus Christ; the ability to speak in tongues and explain Scripture; the knowledge that comes from the Christ Mind; the eagerness to serve God as Jesus Christ; the need for a brotherhood of Saints in a true Church of Christ; the love of God that confesses one’s soul has been married to God via the Holy Spirit; and the grace of having become Jesus Christ reborn from above. Those characteristics define all ministers of God, which deems them Apostles and Saints.
Still, this message tells all who have submitted to the Will of God not to retain even the slightest sense of self-worth, as all value one has comes from God. It is not up to oneself to determine what one needs, in order to serve others. One serves God, not others; so God will send you what you need and no more. This means a new minister for God still needs to search one’s soul for how one can give more to serve God.
In a ministry for the LORD, one will attract those who one should feed. The nourishment God gives is the Word of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures then act as the body of Christ and is the manna from Heaven. One gathers what is needed daily, with the day before the Sabbath being the only time more than one’s day’s food is necessary to gather. A minister to the LORD feeds those sent to him or her the meaning of God’s Word, until they are matured and can gather their own manna from Heaven.
A minister sees equality in the sins of the world, not in the talents of the Holy Spirit. This means one cannot pass judgment on sinners, as one is also a sinner without being married to God. Therefore, all who profess to point out sinners in the name of Jesus Christ are those who have gathered too much, with their words full of maggot and stinking to high hell.
A minister for the LORD sees the sins of the world reflected upon his or herself. That sin is not to be condemned or one condemns one’s marriage to God and the rebirth of Jesus Christ. One forgives the sins of others by repentance before God and Christ. This makes ministry for the LORD the service of caring for other Apostles, so they do not mistakenly judge others wrongly.