1 Moreover, brothers, we make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the assemblies of Macedonia; 2 how that in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality. 3 For according to their power, I testify, yes and beyond their power, they gave of their own accord, 4 begging us with much entreaty to receive this grace and the fellowship in the service to the saints. 5 This was not as we had hoped, but first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us through the will of God. 6 So we urged Titus, that as he made a beginning before, so he would also complete in you this grace. 7 But as you abound in everything, in faith, utterance, knowledge, all earnestness, and in your love to us, see that you also abound in this grace. 8 I speak not by way of commandment, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity also of your love. 9 For 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. 10 I give a judgment in this: for this is expedient for you, who were the first to start a year ago, not only to do, but also to be willing. 11 But now complete the doing also, that as there was the readiness to be willing, so there may be the completion also out of your ability. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what you have, not according to what you don't have. 13 For this is not that others may be eased and you distressed, 14 but for equality. Your abundance at this present time supplies their lack, that their abundance also may become a supply for your lack; that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, "He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack." 16 But thanks be to God, who puts the same earnest care for you into the heart of Titus. 17 For he indeed accepted our exhortation, but being himself very earnest, he went out to you of his own accord. 18 We have sent together with him the brother whose praise in the Good News is known through all the assemblies. 19 Not only so, but who was also appointed by the assemblies to travel with us in this grace, which is served by us to the glory of the Lord himself, and to show our readiness. 20 We are avoiding this, that any man should blame us concerning this abundance which is administered by us. 21 Having regard for honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. 22 We have sent with them our brother, whom we have many times proved earnest in many things, but now much more earnest, by reason of the great confidence which he has in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for you. As for our brothers, they are the apostles of the assemblies, the glory of Christ. 24 Therefore show the proof of your love to them in front of the assemblies, and of our boasting on your behalf.
In the previous chapter 2 Cor. 7 the apostle had expressed his entire confidence in the ready obedience of the Corinthians in all things. To this confidence he had been led by the promptitude with which they had complied with his commands in regard to the case of discipline there, and by the respect which they had shown to Titus, whom he had sent to them. All that he had ever said in their favor had been realized; all that had ever been asked of them had been accomplished The object of his statement in the close of 2 Cor. 7 seems to have been to excite them to diligence in completing the collection which they had begun for the poor and afflicted saints of Judea. On the consideration of that subject, which lay so near his heart, he now enters; and this chapter and the following are occupied with suggesting arguments, and giving directions for a liberal contribution.
Paul had given directions for taking up this collection in the first Epistle; see 1-Corinthians 16:1 ff; compare Romans 15:26. This collection he had given Titus direction to take up when he went to Corinth; see 2-Corinthians 7:6-17 of this chapter. But from some cause it had not been completed, 2-Corinthians 7:10-11. What that cause was, is not stated, but it may have been possibly the disturbances which had existed there, or the opposition of the enemies of Paul, or the attention which was necessarily bestowed in regulating the affairs of the church. But in order that the contribution might be made, and might be a liberal one, Paul presses on their attention several considerations designed to excite them to give freely. The chapter is, therefore, of importance to us, as it is a statement of the duty of giving liberally to the cause of benevolence, and of the motives by which it should be done. In the presentation of this subject, Paul urges upon them the following considerations.
He appeals to the very liberal example of the churches of Macedonia, where, though they were exceedingly poor, they had contributed with great cheerfulness and liberality to the object, 2-Corinthians 8:1-5.
From their example he had been induced to desire Titus to lay the subject before the church at Corinth, and to finish the collection which he had begun, 2-Corinthians 8:6.
He directs them to abound in this, not as a matter of commandment, but excited by the example of others, 2-Corinthians 8:7-8.
He appeals to them by the love of the Saviour; reminds them that though he was rich yet he became poor, and that they were bound to imitate his example, 2-Corinthians 8:9.
He reminds them of their intention to make such a contribution, and of the effort which they had made a year before; and though they had been embarrassed in it, and might find it difficult still to give as much as they had intended, or as much as they would wish, still it would be acceptable to God. For if there was a willing mind, God accepted the offering, 2-Corinthians 8:10-12.
He assures them that it was not his wish to burden or oppress them. All that he desired was that there should be an equality in all the churches, 2-Corinthians 8:13-15.
To show them how much he was interested in this, he thanks God that he had put it into the heart of Titus to engage in it. And in order more effectually to secure it, he says that he had sent with Titus a brother who was well known, and whose praise was in all the churches. He had done this in order that the churches might have entire confidence that the contribution would be properly distributed. Paul did not wish it to be entrusted to himself. He would leave no room for suspicion in regard to his own character; he would furnish the utmost security to the churches that their wishes were complied with. He desired to act honestly not only in the sight of the Lord, but to furnish evidence of his entire honesty to people, 2-Corinthians 8:16-21.
To secure the same object he had also sent another brother, and these three brethren he felt willing to recommend as faithful and tried; as people in whom the church at Corinth might repose the utmost confidence, 2-Corinthians 8:22-24.
The apostle stirs them up to make a collection for the poor Christians at Jerusalem, by the very liberal contributions of the people of Macedonia for the same purpose, who were comparatively a poor people, 2-Corinthians 8:1-5. He tells them that he had desired Titus to finish this good work among them which he had begun; hoping that as they abounded in many excellent gifts and graces, they would abound in this also, 2-Corinthians 8:6-8. He exhorts them to this by the example of Jesus Christ, who, though rich, subjected himself to voluntary poverty, that they might be enriched, 2-Corinthians 8:9. He shows them that this contribution, which had been long ago begun, should have been long since finished, 2-Corinthians 8:10. And that they should do every thing with a ready and willing mind, according to the ability which God had given them; that abundance should not prevail on one hand, while pinching poverty ruled on the other; but that there should be an equality, 2-Corinthians 8:11-14. He shows from the distribution of the manna in the wilderness, that the design of God was, that every member of his spiritual household should have the necessaries of life, 2-Corinthians 8:15. He tells them that he had now sent Titus, and another with him, to Corinth, to complete this great work, 2-Corinthians 8:16-22. The character which he gives of Titus and the others employed in this business, 2-Corinthians 8:23, 2-Corinthians 8:24.
INTRODUCTION TO 2 CORINTHIANS 8
In this chapter the apostle stirs up the Corinthians, to make a collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem, by a variety of arguments, and gives a commendation of Titus and some other brethren, who were appointed messengers to them on that account. He first sets before them the example of the Macedonian churches, who had made a liberal collection for the above persons; which the apostle calls the grace of God, and says it was bestowed on them; and it was not the generosity of one church only, but of many, and so worthy of imitation, 2-Corinthians 8:1 which generosity of theirs he illustrates by the circumstances and condition they were in, they were not only in great affliction, but in deep poverty; and yet contributed with abundance of joy, and in great liberality, 2-Corinthians 8:2 yea, this they did not only to the utmost of their power, and according to the best of their abilities; but their will was beyond their power, they had hearts to do more than they were able; and what they did, they did of themselves without being asked and urged to it, 2-Corinthians 8:3 nay, they even entreated the apostle and his fellow ministers to take the money they had collected, and either send or carry it to the poor saints at Jerusalem, and minister it to them themselves, 2-Corinthians 8:4 and which was beyond the expectation of the apostle, who knew their case; and yet it was but acting like themselves, who at first gave themselves to the Lord and to the apostles by the will of God, 2-Corinthians 8:5 and this forwardness and readiness of the Macedonian churches, or the churches themselves put the apostle upon desiring Titus to go to Corinth, and finish the collection he had begun; and which carries in it more arguments than one to excite them to this service; as that this was not only at the request of the apostle, but of the Macedonian churches, that Titus should be desired to go on this business; and besides the thing had been begun, and it would be scandalous not to finish it, 2-Corinthians 8:6 and next the apostle argues from their abounding in the exercise of other graces, which he enumerates, that they would also in this, 2-Corinthians 8:7 for to excel in one grace, and not in another, was not to their praise and honour; however, he did not urge them to this in an imperious way, and to show and exercise his authority; but was moved unto it through the generous example of others, and that there might be a proof of their sincere love and affection to the Lord, and to his people, 2-Corinthians 8:8 but as what he wisely judged would have the greatest weight with them; he proposes to them the example of Christ, and instances in his great love to them; who though was rich became poor for them, that they might be enriched through his poverty, 2-Corinthians 8:9 and therefore should freely contribute to his poor saints. Moreover, inasmuch as the apostle did not take upon him to command, only give advice, he should be regarded; and that the rather because what he advised to was expedient for them, would be for their good, and be profitable to them; as well as prevent reproach and scandal, which would follow should they not finish what they had begun so long ago, 2-Corinthians 8:10 wherefore he exhorts them cheerfully to perform what they had shown a readiness to; and points out unto them the rule and measure of it, that it should be out of their own, what they were possessed of, and according to their ability; which be it more or less would be acceptable to God, 2-Corinthians 8:11 for his meaning was not that some should be eased and others burdened; but that all should communicate according to what they had, 2-Corinthians 8:13 to which he stimulates them from the hope of the recompence of reward, whenever it should be otherwise with them than it was, and things should change both with them who communicated, and with them to whom they communicated; or this was the end proposed by the apostle, that in the issue there might be an equality between them, 2-Corinthians 8:14 which he confirms and illustrates by the distribution of the manna to the Israelites, who had an equal measure, 2-Corinthians 8:15 as appears from what is said, Exodus 16:18 next the apostle enters upon a commendation of the messengers, that were appointed and ordered to be sent to them upon this errand, and begins with Titus; and gives thanks to God, that had put it into his heart to be so solicitous about this matter, 2-Corinthians 8:16 and praises him for his forwardness in undertaking it of his own accord, and in performing it without being urged to it, 2-Corinthians 8:17 and next he commends another person, whose name is not mentioned, who was sent along with him; a person of note and fame in all the churches, 2-Corinthians 8:18 and who had the honour to be chosen by the churches for this service, 2-Corinthians 8:19 and the reason why more persons than one were sent, was to prevent any suspicion of converting the collections to wrong purposes; and to preserve and secure a good character, a character of honesty before God and men, 2-Corinthians 8:20. To these two a third was added, whose name also is not mentioned, and who had been proved to be a diligent man, and appeared more so in this matter upon the apostle's confidence in the Corinthians, that they would readily attend to the service these were sent to promote, 2-Corinthians 8:22 and thus having separately given the characters of these men, they are all of them commended again; Titus, as the apostle's partner and fellow helper; and the other brethren as the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ, 2-Corinthians 8:23 and the chapter is concluded with an exhortation to the members of the church at Corinth, to give these messengers a proof of their love to the poor saints before all the churches, and make it appear that he had not boasted of them in vain, 2-Corinthians 8:24.
(2-Corinthians 8:1-6) The apostle reminds them of charitable contributions for the poor saints.
(2-Corinthians 8:7-9) Enforces this by their gifts, and by the love and grace of Christ.
(2-Corinthians 8:10-15) By the willingness they had shown to this good work.
(2-Corinthians 8:16-24) He recommends Titus to them.
SUMMARY.--The Liberality of the Macedonian Brethren. Exhortation to the Corinthians to Abound in the Same Grace. The Example of Christ. The Spiritual Blessing of Liberal Giving. Titus and Another Brother Sent to Corinth to Aid and Encourage Them.
*More commentary available by clicking individual verses.