Being poor for you (1)

The Conversion of Saint PaulCaravaggio, 1600

You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich.

2 Corinthians 8:9

Christians in Judea were being persecuted, and many had lost all their possessions in the process. They were suffering badly. The apostle Paul, who was active in the Lord’s service primarily in what is today Turkey and Greece, was acquainted with their situation. So he asked the Christian churches that had sprung up through his service to support their fellow believers in Judea financially.

In his first epistle to the Corinthians Paul had already called upon them to take regular collections (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1-3). In this second letter he tactfully gives them the impetus to continue. For this purpose he mentions the example of the Christians in Macedonia, who had actually gone beyond their means in their donations for the believers in Judea (ch.8:v.3). Above all, he reminds them of the supreme example of dedication: “our Lord Jesus Christ”.

From eternity the Lord Jesus Christ is God the Son. Today’s verse tells us that He became Man and that the extreme point of His humiliation was His suffering death for us on the cross (cf. Philippians 2:6-8). Only through his atoning death can we be saved and receive the greatest spiritual riches that believers are to share with Him in eternity. If “poor” in today’s verse has primarily a figurative sense, it is nevertheless true and significant that Jesus was literally and materially poor during His life on earth. We shall consider this aspect tomorrow.

Image: By Caravaggio – Self-scanned, Public Domain,