For some of my Greek classes at Bethlehem College & Seminary, I require the students to paraphrase a passage after they translate it and trace its argument. A paraphrase is basically a highly interpretive translation—more like a translation with built-in (concise) commentary.
I love reading paraphrases by those who have labored in a text. One example is Greek scholar Murray Harris. He wrote a detailed commentary on the Greek text of 2 Corinthians, and he concludes with his paraphrase. Here’s how he paraphrases 8:8–15:
8 In saying this I am not issuing a command or laying down a rule that you must obey. I am, however, seeking to elicit evidence of the genuineness of your own love as well, by appealing to the example of the eager cooperation shown by the Macedonian believers. 9 Giving commands is out of place; you do not need to be reminded of the example given by our Lord Jesus Christ, who was immeasurably generous. Though he was rich in his heavenly, eternal glory, it was for your sake that he became extremely poor in his earthly, human state, in order that you, yes you, might become incalculably rich as a result of his poverty.
10 On this matter of participation in the collection, I am giving you no command but only my considered opinion and advice, for this is the appropriate way to treat you. After all, it was you who led the way last year by giving the Macedonians an example to follow, not only by taking action in giving, but even before that, by wanting to do so. 11 Now, however, I want you to finish carrying out the project as well. This will mean that the completion of the project, using the resources that you have, will match the eagerness of desire that you showed at the outset. 12 Where there is such an eagerness to give, God accepts the gift and judges its value in relation to whatever people have at their disposal, not in relation to what someone does not have.
13 Our aim in this whole enterprise is not that other people should get relief from their financial burdens at the cost of your financial hardship. No, our concern is for the equalizing of burdens. 14 In the present circumstances of special need in Jerusalem, you have a considerable surplus of resources that can be applied to their deficiency of resources, so that on some future occasion their surplus will in turn serve to supply your deficiency. The purpose will be equality of provision, 15 a point made in the scriptural account of the manna. “The person who had much did not have anything extra, and the person who had only a little did not have any shortage.”
Note especially these phrases in verses 11 and 12: “using the resources that you have” and “in relation to whatever people have at their disposal.” In other words, we should give proportionally according to our means (not based on a particular percentage).
When Bethlehem College & Seminary shares our financial needs with you, we don’t intend to manipulate you into giving. Instead, we simply want to share this information with you so that the Spirit of God would encourage those who have “resources” to help us spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. The mission could not be greater. We invite you to invest in this mission by “using the resources that you have … in relation to whatever [you] have at [your] disposal.”
Assistant Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology
- Pray that God would generously provide financial resources for Bethlehem College & Seminary.
- Some people from our school are in San Diego this week for the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Institute for Biblical Research. Faculty include Jason DeRouchie, Ryan Griffith, Andy Naselli, Brian Tabb, and Tim Tomlinson. Pray that their time away would be sharpening and energizing so that they will return even better equipped to serve Bethlehem College & Seminary.
- Pray that God would help our dean, Tom Steller, recover fully from his recent hip surgery.