2 Cor. 9:15
The subject that surrounds this verse is giving. In chapter eight Paul is commending the churches of Macedonia for their giving of a special offering given to aid the poor saints in Jerusalem. He uses them as an example for the church at Corinth to follow. Then he talks again in chapter ten about missionary giving. So right in the midst of Paul’s teaching on giving he says, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” Christ is the motive for all giving. Let’s look at this verse then derive some lessons that we can learn.
The word “Thanks” (charis) comes from a word that means “grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech.” There is a root word in Greek (chairo) out of which a family of words comes. Some of the meanings, without going into detail, are, “to rejoice,” “joy,” “grace,” “to bestow a favor,” “gratitude, thanks,” “thanksgiving.” The word “thanks” has in its utterance and meaning an outburst of praise to God for the grace gift of His Son. So in this utterance, there is an acknowledgment of the unworthiness of the one offering thanks. It is not possible to use this word without admitting this truth.
Thanks to God
The words “unto God” bring us before His throne of grace: “Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). God gives grace and gifts of grace because His throne is a throne of grace. I am afraid most Christians think when they come before God in prayer that there is a Lion on the throne. And if you think there is a Lion on the throne you can never be at ease. You are afraid that that Lion is going to roar and have you for a meal. Because in our hearts all of us know that God would be absolutely just to consume us on the spot. Another thing, if we believe there is a Lion on the throne, we want to become like that One on the throne.
I ask you a question. Aren’t we supposed to become like God? Well, if He is a Lion ready to pounce on anything that comes near, He is to be dreaded and respected but not loved. But John says, “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth” (Rev. 5:6). There you have it. There is a Lamb in the midst of the throne. The Lamb has turned the throne of a Holy and Just God into a friendly, and loving meeting place of the saints and God. Excuse me! Someone hold my mules! I am literally overwhelmed by this thought. Paul says, “Thanks be unto God . . .”
Thanks to God for His Unspeakable Gift
The words, “for his unspeakable gift” introduces us to the reason for the ecstatic praise of God on this occasion. Notice it is “His” gift. We already knew this but sometimes it slips our minds. For God did so love the world that He gave His Only-begotten Son to die on a cross for sinners like you and me. It is HIS gift. The word “unspeakable” (anekdiegetos) means according to the Linguistic Key, “indescribable, not able to recount or to describe or to set forth in detail (Linski). God’s exquisite working cannot be fully described with human words (Windisch).”
It would be foolish for me to attempt to describe what Paul said is indescribable. There have been times I have been so filled with a sense of praise over God’s indescribable blessing that I could utter that praise in no other way than just shouting “Glory to God! If someone were to have asked, “What’s going on?” I would have had to reply, “I can’t tell you. I am just overwhelmed at God’s goodness.” You see, people would like for you to describe it so they can get in on it. But there are some things that cannot be explained. But praise God they can be enjoyed!
Now coming out of this verse that is found in the context of giving, I believe Paul is saying, “Give with your eyes on Jesus.” He is the Unspeakable Gift. He is the explanation of God’s grace. We did not deserve Him. “He came to His own and His own received Him not” (John 1:11). The Creator in our midst and we did not receive Him. We did not know Him. Jesus is Grace Personified. He is the exegesis of God (John 1:18: the word “declared” is literally exegesis) which means He brings the meaning of God into visibility and what we see is GRACE. When we give, we should give with our eyes on Jesus. This takes any boasting out of the gifts we give no matter how sacrificial they are.
We are to give, motivated by our gratitude for His unspeakable gift. The story of the ten lepers who were cleansed by Him in Luke 17:11-19 illustrates this. He cleansed all ten but one, once he realized what had happened returned to give Him praise and thanksgiving for what had been done. When this happened verses 17-18 say, “And Jesus answering said, Were there, not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.”
This man was so overwhelmed by the grace, goodness, and power of the Lord Jesus, and so filled with thanksgiving, that he was freed from this painful and terminal illness, that he was compelled by his gratitude to return and give thanks for his healing. Jesus drew attention to this man’s act as being one of notable mention. God is glorified and honored when those who have been helped by Him return to give Him praise.
Conclusion: There is something at this point that we need to look at. Paul says, “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Eph. 3:21). The local Church is the place where believers give glory to God by Christ Jesus. We sinners who have been saved by the grace of God have a divine institution that is the designated place where we can publicly give glory to God for saving us.
The “one” who returned to give glory to God did it unashamedly and publicly: “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving Him thanks: and he was a Samaritan” (Luke 17:15-16). The words “and he was a Samaritan” draws attention to the fact that he was the most unlikely one to do such a thing. I think sometimes we resent it when some unlikely person gets emotional in a church service as he expresses his thanksgiving to God for salvation and blessing. Is the discomfort that we experience, the conviction of the Holy Spirit because of our unexpressed gratitude? It is something to think about.