And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.


Have you had any part in the modern cheapening of the Christian gospel by making God your servant? Have you allowed leanness to come to your soul because you have been expecting that God would come around with a basket, giving away presents?

I feel that we must repudiate this great modern wave of seeking God for His benefits. Anyone can write a best-selling book now—just give it a title like “Seventeen Ways to Get Things from God!”

I would say there are millions who do not seem to know or understand that God wants to give Himself! He wants to impart Himself with His gifts. Any gift that He would give us would be incomplete if it were separated from the knowledge of God Himself.

If I should pray for all of the spiritual gifts listed in Paul’s epistles and the Spirit of God should see fit to give them, it would be extremely dangerous for me if, in the giving, God did not give Himself as well.

It is a fact that God has created an environment for all of His creatures. Because God made man in His image and redeemed him, the heart of God Himself is the true environment for the Christian. If there is grief in heaven, I think it must come because we want God’s gifts but we do not want God Himself as our environment![1]

While it is possible to give without loving, it is not possible to love without giving. God gives His Son to all believers, but as previously noted, He blesses in a unique way generous, cheerful givers. In fact, He blesses such believers on such a grand, immense, staggering scale that it beggars language to express it. Trying to convey the magnanimity of God’s generosity, Paul resorted to hyperbole, using a form of the word pas (all) five times in verse 8. God’s gracious giving has no limits; it is off the scale.

Since giving naturally seems to result in having less, not more, it takes faith to believe that giving will open up God’s blessing. Christians must believe that what God has promised to do He is able to do. Dunateō (is able) literally means “has power.” God’s power is great (Deut. 4:37; 9:29; Neh. 1:10; Pss. 66:3; 79:11; Jer. 32:17; Nah. 1:3; Rev. 11:17) and is exhibited in creation, providence, miracles, salvation, the resurrections of Jesus Christ and believers, and in the eternal destruction of the wicked in hell. Not surprisingly, then, Paul expressed his concern “that [the Corinthians’] faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:5).

Human wisdom teaches that prosperity comes from grasping for wealth, not from giving it away. But faith trusts in God’s promise to bless the giver and in His ability to keep His promises, knowing that He is able to “do exceeding abundantly beyond all that [believers] ask or think” (Eph. 3:20), guard and preserve them (2 Tim. 1:12; Heb. 7:25; Jude 24), help them when they are tempted (Heb. 2:18), and raise them from the dead (Heb. 11:19). Believers, like Abraham, must be “fully assured that what God [has] promised, He [is] able also to perform” (Rom. 4:21).

God gives back magnanimously so as to make all grace abound to Christians who give generously. He gives so freely and abundantly that His children will always have all sufficiency in everything. In this context, that refers primarily to material resources, because the harvest must be of the same nature as the seed. Having sown material wealth by their giving, believers will reap an abundant harvest of material blessing in return. God graciously replenishes what they give so that they lack nothing; He will continuously provide the generous giver with the means of further expressing that generosity.

To the Cynic and Stoic philosophers of Paul’s day autarkeia (sufficiency) meant independence from people and circumstances. They viewed such independence as essential to true happiness. But the believer’s sufficiency does not come from independence from circumstances but rather from dependence on God. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

The reason God gives back to those who give is not, as prosperity teachers falsely imply and exemplify, so people can consume it on their own desires with bigger cars, homes, and jewels. God supplies them so they will have an abundance for every good deed. The Lord will fully supply cheerful givers with what they need to use for what is good work to the honor of the Lord. He constantly replenishes what they expend so the cycle of giving and ministering to others can continue. Generous givers are the people whose lives are most full of righteous deeds.[2]

For God is able to make all grace abound toward you, so that in everything you may always have enough of everything and you may abound in every good work.

Power. “For God is able to make all grace abound toward you.” Here are two preliminary observations:

First, in the preceding verse Paul teaches that God is love, and in the present verse that God is all-powerful. That is, God expresses his love to his people through his power.

Next, throughout this verse the concept all appears five times: all, everything, always, everything, and every. With this concept, Paul attempts to describe God’s infinite goodness and greatness.

The first item Paul discusses is that God has power “to make all grace abound toward you.” God is involved in all the intricacies of a person’s life, even in the decision one makes to give for a certain cause. Paul wrote that the Macedonians received God’s grace so that their decision to give resulted in a wealth of generosity (8:2). In the service of the Lord grace begets grace, although the believer’s grace in joyful giving can hardly be compared with God’s abounding grace to the believer. God showers his love on the joyful donor, who is unable to match God’s grace. He grants the gift of salvation, spiritual gifts, the fruits of the Spirit, and innumerable material blessings. In conclusion, all the spiritual and physical gifts are included in the word grace. The Corinthians were fully aware of Paul’s teaching on this point (see, e.g., 1 Cor. 1:4–7; 12; 2 Cor. 4:15; 6:1).

Sufficiency. “So that in everything you may always have enough of everything.” If we take these words literally, they appear too good to be true. Does God give the joyful Christian everything to meet all his or her material needs (compare Phil. 4:19)? True, God’s grace is all-sufficient to meet our every need any time. But when he grants us his grace, it is always meant to glorify him in his church and kingdom on earth:

It is given to us and we have it, not that we may have, but that we may do well therefore. All things in this life, even rewards, are seeds to believers for the future harvest.

A Christian who because of God’s grace always has enough of everything (compare 1 Tim. 6:6–8) must give within the framework of loving God and neighbor (Matt. 22:37–40). The spiritual and material flow of gifts coming from God to the believer may never stop with the recipient. It must be passed on to alleviate the needs of others in church and society (Gal. 6:10; 1 Tim. 6:17–18; 2 Tim. 3:17). The believer must always be a human channel through which divine grace flows to enrich others.

Paul writes the word autarkeia, which in this context means “sufficiency.” This cannot be interpreted as self-sufficiency or self-reliance, for we are completely dependent on God to supply us in every need. God provides us sufficiency for the purpose of our dependence on him and the support of fellow human beings.

Service. “And you may abound in every good work.” Twice in this verse Paul relates the verb to abound to God and to us. God makes his grace abound so that we may abound in performing good deeds. Fully trusting God to provide the necessary means, we may support the causes that promote his message at worship on Sundays. We support missions and evangelism, and in society we apply his divine message. God’s grace (singular noun) appears in varied forms; similarly, our good work (also a singular noun) includes all our activities.26[3]

8 One way God’s approval of cheerful givers (v. 7b) finds expression is in the provision of both spiritual grace and material prosperity (“all grace”) that will enable them constantly and generously to dispense spiritual and material benefits (“you will abound in every good work”). As regularly as the resources of the cheerful giver are taxed by generous giving, they are replenished by divine grace. This gives such a person a “complete sufficiency” (pasan autarkeian; NIV, “all that you need”) born of dependence on an all-sufficient God. In the writings of the Cynics and Stoics, on the other hand, this same term (autarkeia, GK 894) denoted an intrinsic self-sufficiency that made a person independent of external circumstance.

But autarkeia may also mean “contentment,” as in 1 Timothy 6:6 (“godliness with contentment is great gain”). Some commentators thus interpret v. 8 to mean that God supplies generous people with multiplied material blessings, so that, content as they themselves are in every circumstance (cf. Php 4:11), they may be able to shower multiplied benefits of every kind on the needy. But to restrict “all grace” to temporal benefits seems unnecessary.[4]

9:8 Here we have a promise that, if a person really wants to be generous, God will see that he is given the opportunity. Grace is here used as a synonym for resources. God is able to supply us with resources so that we will not only have a sufficiency ourselves, but so that we will be able to share what we have with others and thus have an abundance for every good work.

Notice the alls of this verse. All grace, always (that is, at all times), all sufficiency, all things, every good work.[5]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2003). 2 Corinthians (pp. 315–316). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 19, pp. 313–314). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Harris, M. J. (2008). 2 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 508). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1854). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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