How does Paul's description of himself as a true apostle relate to his request for money from the Corinthians, in the Bible?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In the New Testament of the Bible, specifically in I Corinthians 15:8-11, Paul speaks of how he came to Christ, long after the other apostles, and that in his sin, he doesn't deserve to be called an apostle (he was not one of the original twelve) because of who he once was—Saul, a "zealous" Pharisee who was a persecutor of the followers of Jesus Christ. After his conversion—when he became a follower of Christ (though Christ had died before this)—Paul admits to working harder than anyone. However, he does not praise himself for this, but gives the praise to God who was working within Paul, blessing him so that he might be of service to God. He then notes that being the hardest worker really means nothing—the important thing is the the Gospel was taught to the Corinthians and they believed what they heard. Nothing else matters.

In comparison to what Paul has said about himself, in II Corinthians, Chapter Nine, he calls upon the people of Corinth to give financially as they have promised. Paul reminds them that he knows they wanted to send money even a year ago, and Paul has boasted to other churches about how dedicated the church at Corinth is. He explains that each man must give, but only as he is comfortable in giving. He cautions these givers to remember that God rewards based upon how much is given—like a farmer, if he plants a few seeds, he will see a few plants, but the one that invests heartily will reap crops based upon how much he has planted. Paul encourages the people:

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (II Corinthians 9:7, NIV)

The parallel I see in how Paul perceives himself and his request for money from the Corinthians, is that he works very hard by choice, and the glory is to God for how He has been able to use Paul—not for Paul's benefit, but to spread the teachings of Jesus. Doing this is more important than anything. I see the same challenge issued to the people of Corinth. People need to give to support the church. It does not matter how other Christians perceive the givers, but how God perceives their giving, and that God will reward all accordingly. In either case, it is not a contest between men, but the bottom line of how committed people are to sharing the Gospel. The benefits that come from this dedication on the part of the followers of Jesus makes a worthy gift— not in an amount, but in the heart-felt manner in which good works or money are given.

Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. (II Corinthians 9:13, NIV)

The correlation between Paul and the Corinthians is not the work, but the spirit in which the work is done—or money given—to win others to Christ through their collective example.

 

Additional Sources:

http://www.enotes.com/topic/Conversion_of_Paul

http://bible.cc/2_corinthians/9-7.htm

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