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those who had much

those who had much

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Published by Bill McLella

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Published by: Bill McLella on May 08, 2008
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Bill McLellan
Dr. Williams
Covenant Theology Term Paper
27 April 2005
2 Corinthians 8:15
Exodus 16:18

During the time of the New Testament, the Jewish Christians living in Jerusalem
became terribly impoverished. In the early chapters of Acts, we read about how wealthy
Christians in Jerusalem were led by the Holy Spirit to share their land and money with
their poor brothers and sisters. Years later, after famine and persecution, they had all
become poor. In the midst of this poverty, sometime around AD 50, the Apostles
gathered for a conference in Jerusalem. There they firmly established that by God\u2019s grace
and through faith in Jesus, Jewish and Gentile Christians are equal in God\u2019s sight. Based
on this spiritual equality, the Apostle Paul immediately began collecting money for the
Jerusalem Church everywhere he traveled.1

The church that Paul founded in the Greek city Corinth promised to give to this
collection, but a year later, they had not yet made good on their pledge. They were
probably delayed by a feud that developed between them and Paul, provoked by itinerate
preachers who claimed to have apostolic authority superior to Paul\u2019s authority. The
epistle of 2 Corinthians is Paul\u2019s successful attempt to mend his relationship with the
church in Corinth, and in chapters 8-9, Paul seeks to persuade the Corinthians to finish
quickly raising the money they committed to raise.2 He appeals in 8:13-15 to the ideal of
equality, which he hopes will exist between the Christian churches, whether
predominately Jew or Gentile. In order to support and explain what he means by
equality, Paul quotes from the Old Testament story of the manna Israel received in the
desert. \u201cAs it is written,\u201d Paul writes, \u201c\u2019Whoever gathered much had nothing left over,
and whoever gathered little had no lack.\u2019\u201d (2 Corinthians 8:15).

It is my contention that with this quote, Paul is using what Christopher Wright
calls a paradigmatic interpretation of the Old Testament.3 Paul is appealing to the
economic equality that existed among the liberated Israelites in the desert as a paradigm
for the economic equality he wants exhibited in and among the New Testament churches.

Exodus 16 is about God\u2019s provision and the responsibility of his people to trust
him and obey his instructions. Moses wrote the book of Exodus to give the Israelites the
story of how God came to their rescue in Egypt and liberated them to serve him and be
his people. Goran Larson, in his commentary on Exodus, Bound for Freedom, argues that
the dual theme of the whole book is an intertwining of freedom and responsibility.4

As chapter 16 opens, Israel has just celebrated Yahweh\u2019s victory over the
Egyptian army by drowning them in Red Sea. Now they are leaving those shores and
heading out into the wilderness toward the land God promised their ancestors to give
them. It is not long before the thrill of liberation and victory wares off and rebellious
grumbling sets in. \u201cWould that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt,
when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into
this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger\u201d (3). Larson comments, \u201cThe
people react as though they have never faced the greatness of God\u2019s power to deliver.\u201d5
Their grumbling went far beyond simple doubt or worry; they accused God of
wickedness, of actually intending the opposite of their freedom, their destruction.

Yahweh responded with material provision and a moral test. He told Moses that
he would feed Israel directly and miraculously with quail and bread from heaven and then
see if they would respond by following his instructions in how to gather and distribute the
bread. Cornelis Houtman argues that God responded so graciouly in order to overcome
Israel\u2019s rebellion and impress on them that he would provide for them just as powerfully

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