According to the Bible, every good and perfect gift comes from above and is given by the Father (see James 1:17). God loves His children and has good things for those who follow Him.
The Apostle Paul included this statement in one of his letters to the church of Corinth. In this letter, Paul wrote about various topics to correct the Corinthians, teach them, and encourage them in their faith. Paul had a deep passion for helping Christians stay committed to the Gospel and speaking against false teachers who distorted the truth of God.
In the second half of this letter, Paul wrote about being generous givers. It is in this passage about generosity that Paul referenced the most generous gift of all.
“While through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:13-15).
According to the Bible, every good and perfect gift comes from above and is given by the Father (see James 1:17). God loves His children and has good things for those who follow Him. In this 2 Corinthians verse, we learn that truly there is one gift that exceeds them all — that is the gift of Jesus Christ in whom we are saved by grace through faith.
What Does This Verse Mean?
This verse focuses on the person of Jesus Christ as the most precious, valuable gift given by God. Throughout the Bible, it is made abundantly clear why Jesus is the best gift ever. From passages in Isaiah about the coming Messiah to what is documented and written in the New Testament, there is more than enough truth to establish that Jesus is indeed the gift of all gifts.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).
Jesus was sent to earth out of the Father’s love to save humanity. Jesus came not to be served but to serve. He did not come for riches or wealth or to experience an easy life. Jesus came to save and redeem the world by sacrificing His life. He healed, preached, brought back to life, and changed the course of humanity. Jesus bore the weight of all sins and died on a cross. Jesus was the perfect gift to humanity in that He took our place, conquering sin and death. This verse alludes to the blessings ushered in through Jesus by reminding readers what an exquisite gift He is.
What Is the Context of 2 Corinthians 9?
The Apostle Paul had a true love for the church in Corinth and corresponded with them by letters to instruct, share the truth of God, and motivate their spiritual growth. Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians because they were struggling to stay committed to their faith in Jesus, and some even began questioning Paul’s authority.
In the 9th chapter of 2 Corinthians, where we find this verse about the indescribable gift of God, Paul wrote about being a generous giver. This passage teaches that believers should be ready to give and to give generously.
“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
The Lord wants His followers to be generous givers. This is a consistent message found within Scripture. All that we have belongs to the Lord (see Psalm 24:1), so we should not be greedy but give generously and cheerfully. As Paul closed this passage about being a cheerful giver, he added that thanks should be given to God for His indescribable gift.
Paul connected this idea of being a cheerful giver to God’s generous gift. If God has given His most precious Son, then we should surely be in the habit of giving generously, just as God gives generously. Our hearts should be full of gratitude to the Lord for the gift of Jesus, and from that thankfulness, generosity should overflow.
What Is God's "Indescribable Gift"?
Jesus Christ, who came and gave up His life to save humanity, is God’s indescribable gift. When Paul wrote that this gift is “indescribable,” he did not mean that the gift cannot be described. There are many verses in both the Old and New Testaments that name and describe Jesus and His ministry. Rather, what Paul meant is that the extraordinary gift of Jesus is like none other. Jesus is beyond words or human ability to fully comprehend the depth and width and reach of this most powerful and blessed gift.
Through Jesus’ life and death came repentance, forgiveness, and salvation. The process of God’s redemption for humanity and the world began with Jesus’ death and resurrection, and God’s kingdom will fully come when Jesus returns. We respond to this indescribable gift by accepting salvation through Jesus Christ, repentance of our sins, and giving our hearts to the Lord. God has called us to the great commission to share the Good News of Jesus — the indescribable gift to the world. There could be no better gift than that of Jesus coming to redeem what sin had threatened to destroy. In sending this perfect gift, we know the love of God runs deep for His children.
Why Does This Gift Encourage Us to Be Generous?
In 2 Corinthians 9:9, Paul quoted a verse that comes from the book of Psalms which emphasizes the generosity of God’s people. The Psalmist declared that those who fear the Lord will be rich, blessed, compassionate, and generous. Following the Lord truly requires a generous heart.
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever” (Psalm 112:9).
Paul pointed to the Old Testament to demonstrate the significance of God’s followers to live as generous givers. Generosity has always been the way of God. To be generous is to be like Jesus. This greatest gift of God — Jesus — is noted as having taught His followers to be generous and that this is the way believers should conduct themselves (see Acts 20:35). God expects that His children will be generous just as He has been generous by giving us what we needed to be saved from sin and death.
What Does This Verse Mean for Us Today?
Whether we have a little or a lot, we can give generously and we can give thanks because God has given us the most precious and necessary gift — Jesus Christ. We are prone to worry and sometimes doubt if we have enough to give to others when it seems like we barely have enough to get by. God will most assuredly supply everything we need, and we should not be greedy, even with the little we have.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:9).
We can be encouraged that God sent His Son because He loves the world. He does not want us to be overcome by evil, but to have victory through faith in Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 15:56-57). Scripture invites us to consider: how could we withhold generosity when God has freely given the life of His Son on our behalf? We can trust the Lord to supply all our needs, and give thanks that He has met our greatest need through the gift of Jesus Christ.
This verse might seem confusing at first and cause readers to wonder what exactly the indescribable gift of God is. But we know that nothing compares to the gift of Jesus Christ. It is through Him that we find salvation and victory over sin and death. God has not hidden this gift, rather He has sent all believers into the world to testify about Jesus. As God has generously given His Son to save the world, so are Christians to generously give to those in need.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/InspirationGP
Pamela Palmer is a writer, speaker, and the founder of upheldlife.com, the platform on which she produces devotionals and faith resources to inspire keeping faith at the center of life. She is in pastoral ministry and gets to share in the emotional and spiritual lives of others. She lives and thrives on Jesus, coffee, and music. She is the author of Living a Deeper Faith: Nurture Your Relationship with God and Live a Faith-Fueled Life. Pamela married the perfect man for her and they have two beautiful kiddos. She has been published on herviewfromhome.com, and you can follow her at upheldlife.com or on Facebook.com/upheldlife.