Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 8

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

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The Proper Way of Benevolence Demonstrated by the Christians in Macedonia

In the first century of the church, maybe more so than at any other time in history, Christians in many areas often suffered deep poverty, leading to starvation. As Paul often does, he names examples of Christians who are doing the right things spiritually and then encourages other Christians and churches to imitate them. In chapters eight and nine, Paul spends much time praising the Christians in Macedonia for their generosity and then encourages Christians in Corinth to imitate them.

Christians who assist other Christians not only help to relieve the poverty of others but also help to reassure that Christians of all races and cultures will witness the behavior of all as one in Jesus Christ. For example, the generosity of the Gentile Christians in Macedonia and Achaia shows their love and feeling of oneness in Jesus with the Jewish Christians in Judea.

Verse 1

Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

Moreover, brethren: After concluding his commendation for the Corinthians’ repentance and godly sorrow, Paul now changes tone and subject matter. In 1 Corinthians 7:16, after receiving Titus’ report of the Corinthians’ godly sorrow. he proclaims, "I have confidence in you in everything." In 1 Corinthians 8:1-7, Paul mentions the example set by the churches in Macedonia; then, in verses 8 through 15, he encourages the Christians in Corinth as well as Christians in "every place" (1 Corinthians 1:2) to imitate the Macedonians’ example by assisting Christians who are less fortunate.

To make the appeal more personal, Paul affectionately addresses the Corinthians as "brethren." In this chapter and the chapter to follow, Paul does not reprimand the Corinthians; rather, he encourages them to complete their task of collecting funds to help other needy Christians. Later in this same chapter, Paul clearly acknowledges that he knows that the Corinthians had—a few months earlier—given consideration to helping needy Christians; but they obviously had not completed the task. Paul says:

In this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have (8:10-11 NKJV).

In Paul’s previous letter, he also references this need for assistance:

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-3 NKJV).

we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: The words "to wit" (gnorizo) mean to "certify (or) make known" (Strong 1107); therefore, Paul is notifying the Corinthians "…we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia." Paul is careful not to imply that the Macedonians have more wealth than the Corinthians, but the prosperity they have comes because of "the grace of God." Thus, Paul is teaching that since Christians’ prosperity comes from God, they should not refuse to help needy Christians if they have the ability to do so. It is important to remember that our physical blessings do come from God, just as our spiritual blessings come from Him.

Verse 2

How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

How that in a great trial of affliction: Paul uses the Macedonians’ generosity in giving to the poor as an example for Christians in Corinth and other places to imitate. The word "affliction" (thlipsis), in this context, means "oppression (or) distress" (Thayer 291-1-2347). Oftentimes, today, people have the tendency to give less if they, because of times of distress, have little themselves. Paul is emphasizing, however, that the Macedonians are not actually wealthy people. They are, in fact, very poor people who have suffered a great trial of affliction; nonetheless, they are still generous in giving to other Christians, such as in Judea, who are poorer than they are.

the abundance of their joy: Paul now states that the reason the Macedonians have given so liberally is not that they have great personal wealth or on the fact that they have a lot of extra money they do not need; instead, their generosity is based on the abundance of their joy. Their "joy" is the joy of their salvation— the joy of being pardoned for their sins and the joy of the wondrous grace given through Jesus.

In the same way today, the amount of our giving should not be based just on the amount in our bank account but on our recognition of what Jesus has done for us. In the New Testament, Christians are not, as in the Old Testament, commanded to tithe, that is, to give a tenth of our earnings based on personal income. The amount of our generosity should always be based on the blessings we recognize we have received from the Lord. Unfortunately, today, many Christians do the opposite—on the first day of the week, they give based on the money they earned during a week or month. If they earn less one week than the week before, they give less—as if Jesus has done less spiritually for them. The point to remember is that "the abundance of their joy" is one important determining factor for giving and that "joy" is not based solely on what the Lord has blessed us with physically but is based on what He has blessed us with spiritually.

and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality: Here, Paul gives another basis for the generosity of the Macedonians: they gave in spite of their "deep poverty," that is, their "extreme poverty" (Thayer 327). Generally, the ones who give the most are not the ones who have the most and who have not experienced poverty. On the contrary, the ones who tend to give the most are the ones who have faced "deep poverty" themselves—they know what it is like to be without; they demonstrate that they can sympathize with those who have little. Bratcher, speaking of the Macedonians, translates: "They are also extremely poor, but they are very generous" (83). The Macedonians’ example of giving to assist those who have less is proof that true generosity is not the privilege only of those who have sufficient wealth. Instead, true liberality is often displayed by Christians who have the least to give. True Christian giving should never be based only in terms of amount but also in terms of spiritual benefit.

Luke records Jesus’ response to the amount a poor widow gave to the poor:(Jesus) looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, "Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had" (Luke 21:1-4 NKJV).

Verses 3-5

For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. nd this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

To understand Paul’s message in verse 3 properly, it is necessary to note that in the Greek verses 3 through 5 (some say through verse 6) form one complete sentence. Regardless of whether it is verse 5 or verse 6, it is essential to, at least, notice verses 3 through 5 together because the verb "gave" (didomi) in verse 5 governs the whole statement.

For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves: The word "to" (kata) means "in proportion to (or) according to the measure of" (Thayer 328-2- 2596). That is, according to the fullest extent of their ability and even far beyond Paul’s expectation of them. they have given "willing of themselves" (authairetos), which means they have given "voluntary" (or) "of one’s own accord" (Thayer 84-1-830). Their giving has not been forced, but it happened because of what Paul taught them about Jesus’ sacrificing Himself for them—they wanted to give and to give abundantly.

Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints: The word "Praying" (deomai) means to "make request" (Strong 1189). The word "intreaty" (paraklesis) means their "comfort" (Strong 3874), indicating the Macedonians would like some assurance and peace of mind that Paul would receive their gift. The word "fellowship (koinonia) means the "distribution" (Strong 2842) of their gift. The word "ministering" (diakonia) means "relief" (Strong 1248); therefore, they wanted to ensure that Paul would accept the responsibility of delivering their bounty to Jerusalem. They did trust Paul or they would not have sent their donation to him; it appears they just needed a confirmation from him.

And this they did, not as we hoped: In 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, Paul had mentioned the poverty of the saints in Jerusalem to the Macedonians. He emphasizes here that they responded to his request for help even more than he had anticipated.

but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God: The fact the Macedonians responded so generously proved their faithfulness; but even more than the donation, Paul explains to the Corinthians that the Macedonians "first gave their own selves to the Lord." The expression "the will of God," as used here, means that they freely gave in obedience to God’s command. God’s command is for His children to give willfully to poorer Christians because Jesus willfully gave His life as a sacrifice for us.

Verse 6

Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.

Paul says that Titus "had begun" a much-needed work and that was to encourage the Christians in Corinth to help assist the needy believers in Judea just as the Macedonians had done. That task, however, was never completed, possibly because of the confusion and divisions in the Corinthian church or perhaps for other reasons.

Regardless of the reason that it was not completed, the assistance is still needed; therefore, since the Corinthians have repented of their past sins and are once again following Paul’s teaching, he now encourages Titus to address this task with them again and to "finish" (epiteleo), that is, to "accomplish" (Strong 2005) the original request. This request is also mentioned in Paul’s previous letter in which he was answering questions about a variety of subject matters:

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-3 NKJV).

Verse 7

Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

Therefore, as ye abound in every thing: Paul, first, gives the highest compliment to the Christians in Corinth, telling them they "abound in every thing." The word "abound" (perisseuo) means "enough and to spare" (Strong 4052) or "to excel" (Thayer 505-2- 4052); therefore, he lets them know he is aware from Titus’ report that they excel in Christian traits. He then follows the compliments with the request for them to assist other Christians. This report has assured Paul that they have truly repented and returned to Jesus.

The word "everything" includes faith, teaching, and knowledge; Paul says they have been diligent in these areas. Thus, he encourages them not to fail in completing their Christian duty to assist in helping other Christians.

in faith: "Faith" (pistis) means "fidelity" (Thayer 513-1-4102), specifically referring to the fact that the Corinthians are once again true to Jesus and that their faith and their obligation to Jesus and His gospel are stronger than ever.

and utterance: "Utterance" (logos) means "word" (Strong 3056), referring to having the "ready exposition of the Gospel message" (Bernard 86). These Christians have the ability to know and to speak the gospel of Jesus in different languages. Paul has complimented them about this spiritual gift in his last letter, saying, "I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge" (1 Corinthians 1:4-5 NKJV). Because of this gift, the Corinthians are able to understand the gospel message and now are able to teach its truth to others.

and knowledge: "Knowledge" (gnosis) means "understanding … (referring to) the deeper, more perfect and enlarged knowledge of this religion, such as belongs to the more advanced" (Thayer 119- 2-1108). The Corinthians have this knowledge of salvation because the Lord blessed them with the spiritual gift of "knowledge." In addition, the Apostle Paul has provided thorough instruction in the Word.

and in all diligence: "Diligence" (spoude) refers to their "forwardness, haste" (Strong 4710), meaning they have seriously pursued complete faithfulness in their teaching and in their knowledge of God’s will. Specifically, Paul refers to their obedience—to their willingness to discharge every command the Lord has given them.

and in your love to us: Paul also acknowledges to the Corinthians that he knows of their true love for him.

see that ye abound in this grace also: Finally, Paul ties all of these Christian attributes together with the conclusion: Since you possess all of these attributes, go further to abound in "this grace" of assisting those Christians who are poor.

Verse 8

I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

I speak not by commandment: The word "by" (kata) means "of the mode in which a thing is done" (Thayer 329-1-2596). Paul is refraining from appearing to be like a dictator or attempting to order the Corinthian Christians what to do or how much to give. God leaves the amount that His children are to give to the discretion of each individual; however, Paul does emphasize that when one is considering how much he is going to give to always remember that God loves a cheerful giver as Paul points out later in this letter: "Let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (9:7 NKJV).

but by occasion of the forwardness of others: The word "forwardness" (spoude) means "diligence" (Strong 4710). Paul has pointed out how well the churches in Macedonia responded to the request to give to the poor Christians in other places, such as Judea. This example is given to serve as a challenge for the church at Corinth, as well as a challenge for all other churches, to imitate them.

and to prove the sincerity of your love: The word "prove" "does not mean ’to show’ or ’to demonstrate’ as an accomplished fact, because the offering had not been taken up yet" (Bratcher 86); instead the word "prove" (dokimazo) means to "discern (or) examine" (Strong 1381) and is suggesting an element of intent or purpose in order to find out the "sincerity" (gnesios) or the "genuine(ness)" (Strong 1103) of the Corinthians’ love for Jesus. Jesus Himself emphasizes just how important it is to assist poor Christians when He says:

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ’Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ’Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ’Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’ (Matthew 25:34-40 NKJV).

Kenneth S. Wuest correctly explains:

In 2 Corinthians 13:5 "the members of the Corinthian assembly are exhorted to examine themselves to see whether they are true believers or not. … If the examination showed that they were true believers peirazo, then they could "prove" themselves, that is, put their approval upon that fact, the word "prove" being the translation of dokimazo. … dokimazo is …translated by the words "discern, prove, did like, approve, try, examine, allow; (see 8:8)" (129).

Verse 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.

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Paul begins here by using Jesus’ example to explain that the amount of one’s liberality comes, not by the money they have, but from sacrificial giving.

By the word "know," Paul is not merely referring to the Corinthians’ having some information about the grace of Jesus; but, instead, he is conceding that they "know" from personal experience about the grace of Jesus. The "grace" (charis), as used in this context, means "liberality" (Strong 5485); therefore, Paul is stating that the Corinthian Christians know firsthand about the liberality of Jesus—that is, they know from experience how much Jesus loved them. They know that because of His love, He became the sacrifice for the forgiveness of their sins when He died on the cross.

that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor: In the previous verses, Paul has used the example of the giving of the Macedonians; however, now he uses the greatest example, that is, the example of Jesus, as a way to illustrate sacrificial giving.

Jesus was "rich" figuratively, having lived in heaven itself; yet for our need of forgiveness and salvation, He became figuratively poor by leaving the richest of heaven and descending to end up at Calvary and in the grave. He says Jesus, "though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor." Jesus was "rich" because He was deity, but He became "poor" by becoming man. Paul refers to this action of Jesus when he writes:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8).

The same message of Jesus’ having been rich in heaven is mentioned in Jesus’ prayer: "O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (John 17:5).

that ye through his poverty might be rich: We should keep in mind that Paul is still talking about Christians’ giving liberally to help other needy Christians. This example of Jesus’ giving of Himself as a sacrifice for Christians (such as the Corinthians) is that "ye through his poverty might be rich." "The logic implicit in the statement of this great truth is too obvious for anyone to miss it: if He did all this for me, then nothing I give or do for Him can be too much" (Hughes 300).

The message of this verse is that Christians, though they were "poor" in sin, through Jesus’ willingness to endure humiliation and His sacrificial death, became "rich" in holiness and salvation.

Verse 10

And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago.

And herein I give my advice: Paul is clearly acknowledging that he is not commanding (see verse 8) but giving his "advice" (gnome), that is, his "opinion" (Strong 1106) in encouraging the Corinthian Christians to give liberally to Christians in Judea. If he were commanding them to give a certain amount, then their giving would not have been a freewill offering. This statement does not suggest they are not expected to give freely; however, Paul’s advice is to give liberally—not out of commandment but out of following the example of Jesus’ giving of Himself as a sacrifice (see verse 9).

for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago: For the Corinthian Christians to give is "expedient," that is, their giving now is based on the logical consideration that it is "profitable" (Strong 4851) to do so because they "have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago." In other words, Paul’s strong advice is for them to continue proving their repentance; prove their change of heart; prove that they have, in fact, returned to Christian living by continuing to do what they were in the process of doing before they went into sin.

Verse 11

Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.

Now therefore perform the doing of it: Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to "perform" (epiteleo), which means to "finish" (Strong 2005) or to complete the work of giving they had begun before they were led into sin. The implication is that the Corinthians had permitted this initiative to give to be set aside.

that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have: The word "readiness" (prothumia) refers to their previous "predisposition" (Strong 2309) or their inclination to give liberally. The Corinthians had previously promised they were going to assist poor Christians, and they should complete their promise. Paul tells them to continue that "there may be a performance also out of that which ye have." Therefore, he is instructing the Corinthians to be as eager to finish their plan to give liberally just as they orginally decided to do. Lipscomb says, "This is an admonition that the completion should correspond to the promise" (113). A completion of their original plan to assist other Christians was proof and an expression of their willingness to do so.

Verse 12

For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.

The words "willing mind" comes from the same Greek term prothumia that is translated "a readiness," in verse 11; it simply refers to their "predisposition" to give—the amount given must always be from a willing mind. As Christians, we should give as a response of gratitude to Jesus for His willingness to give His life as a sacrifice for our sins. Nothing that we could give could equal what Jesus gave; consequently, in this passage, Paul encourages the Corinthian Christians to give liberally. At the same time Paul is being reasonable with this suggestion about giving: "it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." The word "accepted" (euprosdektos) means "well- received, i.e. approved" (Strong 2144); therefore, Paul instructs Christians to give only according to what they have and not to think they must give more than they actually have. The amount a Christian gives is "accepted according to that a man hath." God knows what we have or do not have; therefore, if we give liberally of what we have, God approves of it – otherwise, He does not. A perfect example to illustrate this teaching is seen in the presence of Jesus as Mark records:

Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood" (Mark 12:41-44 NKJV).

Concerning this illustration about the poor widow who gave two mites, the Lord says that what she gave "is more than all those who have given to the treasury." In this statement, He is emphasizing the importance of sacrificing when we give. The amount approved by the Lord is not "how much" we give, but "how much we sacrifice."

Verse 13

For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:

Paul furthers his teaching about Christians’ not believing that they should give more than they have with this explanation. He does not suggest that the Corinthians burden themselves because they give so much to ease the burdens of others. While this message is clear, all Christians need to use common sense. For example, people know what their income is; therefore, they should always be wise in business and not spend more than they receive. Likewise, we should not give so much that we burden ourselves with debt.

Unfortunately, it seems that the excuses Christians give for not being more liberal in their giving is they fail to purpose in their hearts; they accumulate debts that exceed their ability to pay from their income; and they become selfish, forgetting that their financial blessing comes as a result of God’s blessing. The point is to be wise in handling our finances. As a suggestion, the first consideration for using the income we receive should be for the Lord’s work—for helping to assist Christians who are truly in need. Paul, in his previous letter to these same Christians, makes it clear that they are to give on a regular and efficient basis by giving on the first day of the week. Notice he says:

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

These inspired instructions are teaching us that we all are to give little by little so that the church could accumulate funds for the Lord’s work.

Verse 14

But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:

But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want: Paul’s message to the Corinthians is that he knows at that present time about their "abundance" (perisseuma), that is, he knows that the church in Corinth has "a surplus" (Strong 4051); therefore, they should give liberally to the Christians who are in poverty. Again, Paul’s message is that Christians should never look upon themselves as being superior to other Christians based on money or based on one Christian’s having more wealth than another. Paul is teaching "equality" (isotes), meaning "likeness" (Strong 2471) between all Christians. On the other hand, by this statement, Paul is not meaning to imply that any Christian who is able to work but refuses should abuse this teaching and expect other Christians to supply his daily needs. In another letter, Paul is clear about this matter: "… we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). There is no justification in the idea that one hardworking Christian must or even should support an able-bodied Christian who chooses not to provide for himself and his family. Likewise, church leaders must be careful never to use the Lord’s money—that is, the collection for the saints that is taken up on the first day of the week—to assist Christians who choose not to work or who are known to be using their money unwisely.

that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: Paul is aware that the Corinthians at that

time have an "abundance" (perisseuma), that is, a "surplus" (Strong 4051), and should assist those who have need. Those who are being assisted should understand they also must give appropriately on the first day of the week because a time may come when those who have abundance today may need assistance in the future. Paul is teaching that they are to treat all Christians equally.

Verse 15

As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.

The equality that Paul is endorsing is one of reciprocal sharing of resources. Paul’s contention is that Christians should share equally. The message taught is that if each Christian will give freely to help others, no Christian will be in need. If we have little, as the poor widow who gave two mites, we will be approved by the Lord for our smaller sacrifice. If we have more and we give more to the point that there is a sacrifice, we will be approved by the Lord—otherwise, we will be rejected.

Verse 16

But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.

Paul now returns to the subject of Titus. He thanks God that Titus has the same "care" (spoude), the same "diligence" (Thayer 585), for the Corinthians that he has, "refer(ing) to the quality of eagerness, or concern, that Paul and his companions have" (Bratcher 90). He believes the "earnest care" that Titus has comes from God as a sign. The specific care to which Paul refers is the work of collecting the money for needy Christians.

Verse 17

For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.

Because of the "exhortation" (paraklesis), meaning the "admonition (or) encouragement" (Thayer 483) of Paul, Titus was willing to go to Corinth. Paul then clarifies his statement by saying that Titus "accepted the exhortation" by going on to say he went to Corinth willingly. Paul says he was "more forward" (spoudaioteros), that is, he was "more diligent" to go (Thayer 585); "more zealous" (BAG 771) to go; or as Bernard states, "it was of his own accord that he went forth unto you from Macedonia, bearing this letter" (88). The point is Paul did not have to talk Titus into going to Corinth because he was ready to go "of his own accord" (authairetos), meaning "voluntary" (Strong 830) or "of free choice" (Thayer 84).

Verse 18

And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;

And we have sent with him the brother: It is not possible to know without doubt who this "brother" is who accompanied Titus to Corinth. Scholars have suggested names, but there is no proof of his identity. Bernard states this important fact:

As this unnamed "brother" is seemingly subordinate to Titus, he must not be identified with persons so important as Apollos or Silas; and again, that, as he was apparently not a Macedonian, he cannot be any of the prominent members of the Macedonian Church (89).

whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches: Regardless of who the "brother" is, he is one whose "praise" (epainos) "is in the gospel," meaning his knowledge of the gospel has received the "commendation" (Thayer 227); the "recognition" (BAG 281) of Christians throughout all the churches.

Verse 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, and declaration of your ready mind:

And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace: Paul states that he was unwilling to decide on his own to deliver the funds to the other churches; furthermore, he has chosen not to be the one to select this unnamed brother to go deliver the financial help to those in need.

In an earlier letter, Paul says, "When I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem.

But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me" (1 Corinthians 16:3-4 NKJV).

This unnamed man was "chosen" (cheirotoneo) by the churches, meaning that he was "appoint(ed) by vote" (Thayer 668), which is to "elect by raising hands" (BAG 889). His job was to travel with Paul and to deliver this "grace" (charis) or the "gift of grace; bounty" (Thayer 666) to the needy Christians in Jerusalem. The indication is that this unknown man was one in whom others had confidence since he was chosen by the church.

which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord: Paul’s responsibility is to "administer(ed)" (diakoneo) the funds contributed, meaning that his purpose is to "attend to, anything, that may serve another’s interests" (Thayer 137). God is to receive the glory for this generosity and not Christians in other places. This unnamed man has been selected to travel with Paul in delivering the financial gift to needy Christians.

and declaration of your ready mind: The word "declaration" (prothumia) means a "statement" of the willingness (ready mind) (BAG 713) of the Corinthian Christians to share their surplus with other Christians.

Verse 20

Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:

Paul appears to be answering the false charge that he preaches Jesus for money. "Avoiding this" (stello touto) means "being cautious (or) taking care" of something (Bratcher 92). "Blame" (momaomai) means "to find fault with" (BAG 532). Gerhard Kittel provides this explanation of this verse:

The verse undoubtedly faces the possibility that the plentitude of gifts might give rise to the suspicion that Paul would have control of them and might spend them on himself. But if responsibility for the correct disbursement of the collection was committed to his companions there would be no ground whatever for such ideas (VII 590).

Paul indicates he wants to be extremely cautious to evade any false accusation of mishandling these funds. Having multiple people in charge of delivering this money avoids all possible charges of dishonesty.

Verse 21

Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

Others will travel with Titus to deliver the financial gift to the churches in need. The purpose of others accompanying him is to witness his honesty. Bernard says:

Where other people’s money is in question, one cannot be too careful; and the prudence of the method pursued in this collection, whereby the contributing Churches appointed colleagues to accompany St. Paul and to check his accounts, is worthy of close imitation in the ecclesiastical finance of a later age (89).

Imitating Paul’s example of having more than one person to oversee the collection and depositing of money is highly advisable for all church leaders today. It keeps a person honest and avoids false accusations being made toward the one in charge of the money.

Verse 22

And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.

Accompanying Titus and this unknown brother is still yet a second unknown brother. Regarding this second brother, Alford says:

Still less can we determine who this second brother is. Every possible person has been guessed. Several would answer to the description, ’whom we have many times in many matters proved to be earnest’ (684).

This unknown brother is well known to the Christians in Corinth for many different occasions on which he demonstrated his trustworthiness; however, Paul emphasizes that this man will now prove himself "much more diligent" than ever before in handling their money.

Verse 23

Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.

Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches: Here Paul refers to three people specifically in charge of delivering the Corinthians’ money to other Christians in need: Titus and the two unknown brethren mentioned earlier. All three who will travel with Paul are now referred to as "messengers of the churches." The word "messengers" (Apostolos) is specifically defined as "an apostle"; however, they are not apostles chosen by the Lord but are apostles in the sense of "being sent" to do the Lord’s work in delivering the money to others in need. Lipscomb says:

The messengers of the churches were sent to carry the message and do the specific work the church sent them to do, without direction or power to change or otherwise direct the work of the churches... Scriptural messengers carried a message or gift, went to do a work and return. Their power was limited to this. Churches sent messengers to deliver their messages and receive others and to bear their gifts. Messengers were sent to the churches in Judea to bear the gifts of those sending (118).

and the glory of Christ: The three mentioned above are messengers designated to deliver the funds to needy Christians. They are not to build up themselves, but they are to bring "glory" to Christ.

Verse 24

Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.

Paul compliments the Corinthian Christians for their return to their original state of Christianity, and now, he asks for them to verify that his boasting of them was not in vain. His proof of the sincerity of their faith and of their love for Christians everywhere is that they have collected such a large amount of funds, now ready for distribution. Albert Barnes summarizes:

Let it now be seen that my boasting was well founded, and that I properly understood your character, and your readiness to contribute to the object of Christian benevolence (191).

He now wants them to accept the three men sent to deliver their funds to needy Christians. Gould says, "These men were the messengers of the churches; and what the Corinthians show to them, therefore, they show before the churches. This is a motive, then, for them to do the thing stated" (196).

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 8". "Contending for the Faith". 1993-2022.