2Corinthians 8 - Outline of 2Corinthians (MENU page)
I. Introduction. 1:1-7
II. The Characteristics of Paul's Ministry. 1:8- 7:16
III. The Collection for the poor. 8:1- 9:15
A. The example of Macedonia. 8:1-6
1. Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of {ie., we make known to you}
the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
{eg., Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea}
2 How that in a great trial of affliction
{eg., 1The 1:6; 2:14; 3:3,4}
the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty
abounded unto the riches
{fulness} of their liberality {generosity}. {cp. Mark 12:41-44}
3 For to [their] power, I bear record,
yea, and beyond [their] power
[they were] willing of themselves
{ie., of their own accord, voluntarily};
4 Praying
{begging} us with much intreaty
that we would receive the gift
{GK=charis, grace},
and [take upon us] the fellowship
{GK=koinonia, communion}
of the ministering
{GK=diakonia, service as servants} to the saints.
5 And [this they did], not as we hoped,
but first gave their own selves to the Lord,
{Rom 12:1; 1Cor 6:19,20; 2Cor 5:14,15}
and unto us by the will of God.
{cp. 2Cor 4:5}
6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun,
so he would also finish in you the same grace also.
...the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia...
In ch.8-9, Paul seeks to prepare the Corinthian believers for participation in a financial gift which was being collected, by the Gentile churches, to aid the persecuted and poverty stricken church in Jerusalem. Rom 15:26,27
     Here (in v.1-6), he urges them to give generously, citing the example of the Macedonian churches, who despite their own persecution and poverty, eagerly desired to serve the Lord, by assisting their Judean brethren in this way. As they saw it, this ministry was much more than a financial donation.
...the gift {grace}... the fellowship {communion}... the ministering to the saints.
Their gift was a work of God's grace, to meet the need of another part of Christ's body, with whom they were in vital union. In giving themselves 'first' to the Lord, they also gladly gave themselves to do God's will, as the servants of their brothers in Christ. cp. v.5; 1Joh 3:16,17
...insomuch that we desired Titus, that... he would also finish in you the same grace also.
God's work of grace is not only through the gift, but also within the hearts of the givers.
     We often define 'grace' as 'unmerited favor.' We certainly do not deserve the grace of God which brings salvation (Titus 2:11). But there is more to grace: "The grace of God is the passion of God to share all His goodness with others." [quoted from JVMcGee] God, in grace, passionately made Himself known to the world, in Christ (eg., Luk 10:22; Joh 1:14-18; 17:3). His children ought to be moved with that kind of grace, to make Him known (cp. Joh 13:34,35).
     During his recent visit to Corinth, Titus had begun to organize the monetary collection. Now, as Titus was returning with this letter, he was to prepare the hearts of the believers, to develope this grace of giving, which would require 'first' giving themselves to the Lord. v.16,17
B. The exhortation to follow through. 8:7-15
7. Therefore, as ye abound in every [thing, in]
{lit., as ye abound in all} faith, and utterance, and knowledge,
and [in] all diligence,
and [in] your love to us,
[see] that ye abound in this grace also.
8 I speak not by commandment,
but by occasion of the forwardness of others,
and to prove the sincerity of your love.
9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that, though he was rich,
yet for your sakes he became poor,
that ye through his poverty might be rich.
as ye abound in all... [see] that ye abound in this grace also.
The Corinthian church placed great emphasis on the Holy Spirit's gifts or enablements for ministry (cp. 1Cor 1:3-7; 12:4-6; 14:12). Therefore, they should also seek to overflow with 'this grace': the gift of giving as enabled by the Spirit. See Rom 12:6-8, where 'simplicity' {meaning 'generosity'} is the GK word translated 'liberality' in v.2, 'bountifulness' in 2Cor 9:11, and 'liberal' in 9:13.
I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness {diligence} of others, (cp. v.7c)
and to prove the sincerity of your love.
Paul was not commanding the Corinthians to give generously, because participation was entirely voluntary (2Cor 9:7). But he knew they would want to follow the example of the Macedonian churches, and demonstrate their love, for Paul (v.7d), for other believers, and for the Lord (v.24).
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ... that ye through his poverty might be rich. (v.9)
His gift of grace is of incomparable cost. Eph 1:6-8; Php 2:6-8
He took our poverty, to give us the riches of His glory and grace. Rom 8:32; Eph 1:15-23; 2:1-7
10 And herein I give [my] advice:
for this is expedient for you
{ie., to your advantage},
who have begun before, not only to do,
but also to be forward
{ie., to be willing} a year ago. {1Cor 16:1-4; 2Cor 9:2}
11 Now therefore perform
{complete} the doing [of it];
that as [there was] a readiness to will,
so [there may be] a performance
{completion} also
out of that which ye have.
12 For if there be first a willing mind,
{cp. Ex 25:2; 35:5,21-22,29}
[it is] accepted according to that a man hath,
[and] not according to that he hath not.
13 For [I mean] not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
14 But by an equality, [that] now at this time
your abundance
{surplus} [may be a supply] for their want {deficit},
that their abundance also may be [a supply] for your want:
that there may be equality:
15 As it is written, He that [had gathered] much had nothing over;
and he that [had gathered] little had no lack.
{Ex 16:18-20}
The Scripture quoted (in v.15) relates to the gathering of manna, during the Exodus from Egypt. When the manna was gathered according to God's instructions, the amount gathered satisfied everyone's need perfectly. However, when manna was horded, it went to waste. Paul's application is that it would be better to share your surplus with brothers in need, while you can.
     Knowing that the Corinthian church had previously expressed an eager desire to participate in this gift (v.10), Paul encourages them to move beyond being willing, to accomplish the collection (v.11), but only to the extent that people were willing and able to give (v.12). Although the organizational process had taken longer than expected, the church should get ready, because the messengers would soon arrive, to carry the gift to Jerusalem.
C. The endorsed messengers 8:16- 9:5
16. But thanks [be] to God,
which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.
17 For indeed he accepted the exhortation;
but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.
18 And we have sent with him the brother,
whose praise [is] in the gospel throughout all the churches;
According to church tradition, this is Luke, who was famous for his Gospel account. However, there is little evidence for this. It is also uncertain whether Luke's Gospel had been written and distributed by this time. Whoever he was, this brother was well known and trusted.
19 And not [that] only,
but who was also chosen of the churches
to travel with us with this grace,
which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord,
{cp. 2Cor 9:12-14}
and [declaration of] your ready mind:
In the interim between First and Second Corinthians, the other churches had already chosen most of the messengers, and had determined that Paul would be one of them (cp. 1Cor 16:3,4). No doubt, the Corinthian church would appoint additional messengers to the group.
20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us
in this abundance
{bountiful gift} which is administered by us:
21 Providing for honest things,
{cp. 1The 5:22}
not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.
22 And we have sent with them our brother,
whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things,
but now much more diligent,
{Timothy? Php 2:20-22; cp. 1Cor 16:10,11}
upon the great confidence which [I have] in you.
23 Whether [any do enquire] of Titus,
[he is] my partner and fellowhelper
{co-laborer} concerning you:
or our brethren [be enquired of, they are]
the messengers of the churches, [and] the glory of Christ.
24 Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches,
the proof of your love,
and of our boasting on your behalf.
{2Cor 7:14; 9:2-4}
The identity, of the brother mentioned in v.22 (like the one in v.18), cannot be determined with certainty. Several of Paul's co-laborers and travel companions have been suggested, including Tychicus, Timothy, and Sosthenes. In any case, whoever they were, these messengers were well known to the Corinthian church, as men who were above reproach.
     Having commended these messengers (who were among those chosen to administer the gift) for their integrity and sincere service for Christ (in v.16-24), Paul goes on to consider the relationship of the Corinthian church to additional messengers, who would soon be arriving from other churches (in 9:1-5).
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