In this series, we are making the argument that, in 2 Corinthians 9: 6 and 7, God does not make at all reference to the quantity one gives. In quite a contrast, we are arguing that the sole focus (and emphasis) of this passage is on the intention behind the giving. Click here for Part 1.
Are you ready for some Bible translations?
Let’s revisit verse 6, but now looking at not one, but three (3) popular bible translations: The New International Version (NIV), the New King James Version (NKJV), and the New Living Translation (NLT).
2 Corinthians 9:6 [NIV] – Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
2 Corinthians 9:6 [NKJV] – But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
2 Corinthians 9:6 [NLT] – Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.
We see that verse 6 identifies two courses of actions leading to opposite results. The first – sowing sparingly – results in reaping sparingly, while the other – sowing bountifully – results in reaping bountifully. These two actions are claimed to be making reference to the quantity sown: “sparingly” versus “bountifully” respectively. In fact, the NLT version makes this specific claim very explicit with its translation: “planting a few seeds versus planting generously (in other words, planting many seeds)”. There is no doubt that the three Bible versions refer to how much one sows.
But wait…what is that Greek word again?
See, the word that was translated “bountifully” in the NKJV and “generously” in the other two versions is the Greek word eulogia, which means blessing. This word – eulogia – actually appears in 15 other places throughout the New Testament. And in most of them, it is translated (guess what)…“blessing”. Let us look at just two such instances (Galatians 3:14 and Hebrew 6:7) in both the NKJV and the NLT.
Galatians 3:14 [NKJV] – That the blessing (eulogia) of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Galatians 3:14 [NLT] – Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing (eulogia) he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.
Hebrews 6:7 [NKJV] – For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing (eulogia) from God.
Hebrews 6:7 [NLT] – When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing (eulogia).
Did you notice that even the NLT translates this word as “blessing” in both instances!? And actually, it turns out that save only one (1) other place (Romans 16:18), 2 Corinthians 9 is the only place where this word eulogia is not translated “blessing”. Therefore, in the face of such exception, one must ask…Why? Why is eulogia not translated here as “blessing” as it is everywhere else? This fact alone should cause us to look further into what appears to be a blatant discrepancy.
In all of those places where the word “blessing” is used, what is highlighted is the good intention of the one giving. Simply the intention to bless, not more and not less. In the case of Galatians 3 and Hebrews 6, the one who gives is God. When we read these passages, we cannot help but realize that what is received is something good, and that it was given with the best of intentions…it was given, literally…to bless. That is the focus in those passages.
How much quantity you said it was?
The one giving gives because he or she knows how much it will bless the recipient. There is simply “no” indication of the quantity given other than it must be the right quantity. Let us think about it for a minute. Back in Hebrews 6:7, how much quantity of rain does the earth receive from God? Does it receive a lot of it? We all know that too much rain could be very bad. What about a little of it? We all know that too little rain can be very bad as well. So what is the right answer, because it is a fact that the earth does receive some rain?! The only right answer pertaining to quantity is that the earth receives the right, perfect quantity of rain. This bears repeating. The earth receives the right quantity of rain from God. And being the right quantity is one reason it is a blessing, otherwise, it would not be! Too little and the earth would starve, too much and it would saturate.
Galatians 3:14 is even more profound. What was the quantity of the blessing Abraham was promised? That’s a good one huh! All we can say with assurance is that it was the right quantity…that’s all, the right quantity! Therefore, we see from these records that by its very definition, a blessing already embodies within itself the notion of right quantity. The right quantity is one of the attributes that makes a blessing what it is…a blessing.
Two major points here.
One: Bible translations. They introduce in their own rights a host of issues, as was already illustrated previously. Here as well, it is manifestly no different. None of the three popular Bible versions cited here used the right word…blessing! Why?
Two: Nature of a blessing. The different passages referenced here demonstrated that a blessing, by its very nature, includes the notion of right quantity. When it is a blessing, the quantity given is the right one. So what’s next? Well, it is time to take the wrong word out (bountifully or generously) and plug in its stead the right one (blessing) and see what will happen…
Glory to our God. Yes, blessing is indeed the right word as God only look at the heart; the intention.
I am also noticing the reference to farming in 2 Corinthians 9:6 and it makes sense. I am not a farmer but I assume in order to produce a proper crop the seeds must be sown with wisdom 1. I doubt a farmer could throw all his seeds in a singular hole and expect a harvest.
1 (fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom)
What a great point Trenz! Quantity is clearly not always the answer. Amen…the fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom.