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(a) 8:1-9. The Example of Macedonia
1-5. Paraphrase. ’I wish you to know how liberally and spontaneously the Churches of Macedonia have contributed to the relief of their fellow-disciples in Jerusalem, having first of all presented themselves to God’s service.’
1. Do you to wit] RV ’make known to you.’ The grace of God] the inspiration to give liberally. The churches of Macedonia] i.e. Philippi, Beroea, and Thessalonica, with, perhaps, others unknown to us: cp. Acts 16:12 to Acts 17:14; Acts 20:4.
2. Their deep poverty] The Christians of Macedonia were very poor, and so their liberality was all the more marked.
3. Beyond their power.. of themselves] Their giving was bountiful and spontaneous.
4. The RV gives a better meaning: ’Beseeching us with much intreaty in regard of this grace and the fellowship in the ministering to the saints.’ They desired the privileges (1) of being allowed to give, and (2) of making common cause in this ministry of kindness.
4. The ministering] On the collection see Intro.
5. First gave, etc.] the best of all giving. They surrendered themselves (not their money only) to God’s will first, and then to the Apostle’s guidance.
6-9. Paraphrase. ’The collection prospered so well here that we asked Titus to complete this work of charity which he organised on his former visit. (7) See, therefore, that you manifest this gift in the same degree as the others in which you abound. (8) I am not laying commands upon you; I am only telling you what has been suggested by the liberality of others in order to give you the chance of proving your sincerity. (9) But let me remind you of the great love of Christ, who divested Himself of the riches of His glory and became poor for your sakes, that by His self-denial and humility you might inherit eternal salvation.’
6. Titus] He organised the collection after the arrival of our First Epistle, which contained instructions about it: cp. 1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 12:18.
7. This grace also] Liberality is a Christian grace as much as these others.
9. The grace of our Lord] the crowning example of liberality: cp. Philippians 2:5-8.
(b) 8:10-24. The Principles of Christian Liberality
The Apostle counsels them to complete their good work, tells them that the purpose of the collection is mutual sympathy and aid, and commends to their care Titus and two brethren who go with him.
10-15. Paraphrase. ’In saying this I am not laying a command upon you, for you have already manifested the spirit and practised the duty of giving this twelvemonth past. (11) Complete the offering according to your means, (12) for the willing mind is shown by gifts in accordance with your ability, and not by foolish prodigality beyond it. (13) My purpose is not to make others a burden upon you, (14) but to get you to supply what they lack, and them to supply what you lack; (15) thus acting on the principle of equality illustrated in the bestowal of the manna in bygone days, that none should have too much, and none too little.’
10. Advice] or, ’opinion,’ i.e. as opposed to ’command.’ A command was not needed in their case: cp. 1 Corinthians 7:6, 1 Corinthians 7:25. A year ago] A year had elapsed since they had first responded to the Apostle’s suggestion of the collection.
11. Perform] better, ’make perfect.’
12. According to that a man hath] the true principle of Christian giving. The best commentary on it is Luke 21:1-4.
14. Their abundance, etc.] A time might come when the relative positions of the Christians in the two cities would be reversed.
15. The reference is to Exodus 16:18, but the meaning is somewhat different in the two cases. There the equality is the result of a miracle; here it is the result of mutual love and generosity.
16-24. Paraphrase. ’The zeal of Titus on your account causes us great thankfulness to God, (17) for he did not need my suggestion, but was eager to return to you. (18) With him we send our fellow-labourer, whose work in spreading the gospel is spoken of in all the Churches, (19) and who was chosen by those of Macedonia to accompany us in charge of this gift, to promote Christ’s glory and to satisfy our own desire. (20) And his presence wards off all suspicion of our motives, and silences all criticism of the manner in which we distribute the funds collected; (21) for we desire to do what is honourable both in the sight of God and in the sight of men. (22) We also send with Titus and his fellow-disciple another brother whom we have learned to trust from much experience, and who is more zealous than ever since he has heard of your enthusiasm. (23) If any one asks about Titus, speak of him as my fellow-labourer among you; or if any one asks of the other brethren, they are sent by the Churches, and show forth in their lives the love of Christ. (24) Show, therefore, to them and through them to the Churches the proof of your love and the justification of my boast of you.’
18. The brother] His identity is uncertain, but we may look for him in the list given in Acts 20:4 of those who accompanied St. Paul to Jerusalem, excluding the delegates from Asia and including St. Luke, who joined them at Troas (Acts 20:5-6). Sopater has been suggested, as he is mentioned first in that list, though the representative of the smallest Church.
19. This grace] the collection. To the glory, etc.] The Apostle keeps in view that in aiding the poor he is furthering Christ’s glory.
Declaration of your ready mind] RV ’to show our readiness.’ The meaning is, ’in accordance with our strongly expressed desire.’ The reason of the desire is indicated in 2 Corinthians 8:20.
20. That no man, etc.] Charges of this kind had already been made against St. Paul. He replied to them in 2 Corinthians 12:17-18, which was written previous to this: see Intro. This abundance] RV ’the matter of this bounty.’
21. Providing for honest things] RV ’For we take thought for things honourable.’
22. Our brother] perhaps St. Luke, if he is not ’the brother’ of 2 Corinthians 8:18. I have] RV ’he hath.’
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 8". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28