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2 Corinthians 8

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Verse 1

Moreover, brethren, we make known to you -- We want to inform you. The purpose for which Paul informed them of the liberality of the churches of Macedonia was to excite them to similar liberality.

the grace of God -- The generosity of the churches of Macedonia was motivated by God’s grace. Paul did not merely commend those churches for a noble human work, but instead gave the credit to God for what He did through them. - MSB

grace -- The word “grace” (charis) is used over ten times in chapters 8 and 9. It is used in the sense of (1) God’s undeserved, unmerited love in Christ, 2 Corinthians 8:1, 2 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Corinthians 9:8, 2 Corinthians 9:14; (2) favor/privilege, 2 Corinthians 8:4; (3) the offering to Jerusalem, 2 Corinthians 8:1, 2 Corinthians 8:6-7, 2 Corinthians 8:19; or (4) thanks, 2 Corinthians 8:16; 2 Corinthians 9:15. Notice that grace is understood as referring to God’s undeserved, unmerited love in Christ or as a way of referring to the contribution from Paul’s Gentile churches to the mother church in Jerusalem. The Greek term has a wide semantical field. - Utley

of the grace of God ... -- The favor which God had shown them in exciting a spirit of liberality, and in enabling them to contribute to the fund for supplying the needs of the poor saints at Jerusalem.

The word “grace” (χάρις charis) is sometimes used in the sense of gift, and the phrase “gift of God”.

the churches of Macedonia -- Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea. For an account of Macedonia, see Acts 16:9; Romans 15:26 .

Of these churches, that at Philippi seems to have been most distinguished for liberality Philippians 4:10, Philippians 4:15-16, Philippians 4:18, though it is probable that other churches contributed according to their ability, as they are commended (compare 2 Corinthians 9:2) without distinction.

Verse 2


that in a great trial of affliction -- When it might be supposed they were unable to give; when many would suppose they needed the aid of others.

The trial to which the apostle here refers was doubtless some persecution against them, probably instigated by the Jews; see Acts 16:20; Acts 17:5

the abundance of their joy -- Despite persecution, their great joy could not be repressed and they cheerfully contributed to help the poor saints in Jerusalem (Judea). "Abundance" here means "surplus."

and their deep poverty -- They were poor. Their poverty may be a result of their persecution. But the gospel encouraged their spirit of generosity and it gave them joy.

The term, "poverty" (i.e., ptôchos) is a very strong Greek term used of (1) extreme poverty in the Septuagint of Deuteronomy 8:9; Judges 6:6; Judges 14:15 (2) beggars (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:10; Romans 15:26; Revelation 2:9; Revelation 3:17).

“The condition of Greece in the time of Augustus was one of great desolation and distress … It had suffered severely by being the seat of the successive civil wars between Caesar and Pompey, between the triumvirs and Brutus and Cassius, and lastly, between Augustus and Antonius … The provinces of Macedonia and Achaia petitioned in the reign of Tiberius for a diminution of their burdens, and were considered deserving of compassion.” Arnold’s Roman Commonwealth.

abounded -- Or overflowed. Their joy manifested itself in a liberal donation.

in the riches of their liberality. -- Their poverty had the effect, not of producing stinted gifts,

The phrase “riches of liberality,” is a Hebraism, meaning rich, or abundant liberality. The sense is, their liberality was much greater than could be expected from persons so poor.

overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. [ESV] -- They did not give out of excess. They trusted God to provide their needs (cf. Mark 12:42; Luke 21:2). In this context "their deep poverty" seems related to their being persecuted for the gospel (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:13-18). - Utley

Verse 3

For they gave according to their means, -- To their utmost ability.

as I can testify, -- Paul had founded those churches and had spent much time with them. He was therefore well qualified to bear testimony in regard to their condition.

and beyond their means -- The sense is, they were willing to give more than they were well able. It shows the strong desire which they had to relieve the needs of others.

of their own free will -- Acting voluntarily, of their own accord. They did not wait to be urged and pressed to do it. They rejoiced in the opportunity of doing it.

Three things the apostle commended about the giving of the churches of Macedonia.

1) They have proportionately - "according to their ability."

2) The quantity- "beyond what they were able."

3) They did it of themselves freely and cheerfully.

free will [own accord] -- This term is from autos and haireomai, which means self choices. It is used in both 2 Corinthians 8:3 and 2 Corinthians 8:17. The root term has the added connotation of choosing with delight or love (cf. Matthew 12:18, which is a quote from the Servant Song of Isaiah 42:1-3).

Verse 4

begging of us earnestly -- intreaty, exhortation, praying.

This verse can almost certainly be an explanatory gloss to show that the entreaty came from them and not from Paul.

the gift and the fellowship -- “Gift” means “grace.” The Macedonian Christians implored Paul for the special grace of being able to have fellowship and be partners in supporting the poor saints in Jerusalem. They viewed giving as a privilege, not an obligation (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:7). - MSB

fellowship -- Paul uses the term “participation” (koinōnia) often in his Corinthian letters in several related senses.

gift and fellowship - we may take this as a Hebraism, meaning ‘the favour of the fellowship’), i.e. that the Apostle would allow them to take part in the good work. - CBSC

grace - for the various ways "grace" is used in 2Cor 8-9 see 2 Corinthians 8:1.

saints -- Refers to the poor Jewish believers in the church at Jerusalem. Paul is gathering financial relief from the various Gentile churches for the Jewish Christians as a gesture of solidarity. - FSB

Verse 5

not as we expected -- The implication is that the Macedonians went far beyond what was expect of them.

Knowing their poverty only a small sum was expected from them.

Lesson: first [they] gave their own selves to the Lord.

but they gave themselves first to the Lord -- They kept back nothing. They deeply devoted themselves first to God. Doing that, they had no difficulty in sharing what they had with this contribution for the saints in Jerusalem.

and unto us by the will of God -- That is, they gave themselves to us to be directed in regard to the contribution to be made. They complied with our wishes and followed our directions.

The phrase “by the will of God,” means they followed God’s will, or direction, in doing what they did.

Verse 6

Accordingly [Insomuch; so] -- It seems that the generous contribution of the Macedonians had a "causal" influence in encouraging Titus to go back to the Corinthians and finish the collection which they had proposed and had begun to do also.

Titus -- Titus’ name is mentioned 9 times in 12 verses in this epistle. 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:6; 2 Corinthians 7:13-14; 2 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 8:16; 2 Corinthians 8:23; 2 Corinthians 12:18.

as he had started -- Paul direction was given in the first epistle, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, which probably had been delivered by Titus, and who had started the collection.

that he should complete -- The collection.

this act of grace -- It was a "gracious" act on the part of the Corinthians to give to the needs of the poor saints in Jerusalem.

Verse 7

But as you excel [abound] in everything -- Paul commends and exhorts them for their growth in certain areas.

abound -- Grow; See G4052 Thayer for the wide use of this word.

It seems that Paul is appealing to their spiritual maturity, and through tongue-in-cheek praise, he wants them to excel in this matter of being charitable to the poor saints of Jerusalem.

The word usually refers to having more than enough of something and is usually translated “abound” or “overflow.”

1) Have I Grown Spiritually?

Must grow in the graces of 2 Peter 1:5-8

But also to grow in this Grace also!

in faith -- (pistis); in speech -- (logos); and in knowledge -- (gnosis) ; These three (1 Corinthians 1:5) are qualities the Corinthians have been "enriched" by the Lord in the way of spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

in faith -- an enriched devotion to God ; in speech -- the in the ability to instruct others; perhaps referring to their power of speaking foreign languages; 1 Cor. 14. in knowledge -- in understanding the truth of the gospel;

in all earnestness [diligence] -- readiness in the discharge of every duty.

in our love for you [in your love for us; ] -- How to understand and translate this phrase is hotly debated. The understanding and translation of the NASB seems more correct in this context, in the love we inspire in you, NASB

see that you excel in this act of grace also. -- Paul encourages them to "excel" likewise in being charitable in their giving.

Verse 8

I speak not by commandment - This does not mean that he had no express command of God in the case, but that he did not mean to command them; he did not speak authoritatively; he did not intend to prescribe what they should give. - BN

...rather, God hath no where given an express command as to the quantum of what you should give; - Poole

There is a command to give (1 Corinthians 16:1-2), but not a command "what" or "how much" to give (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). WG

8:8 Paul is not commanding this in a harsh, legalistic manner. Rather, he would like to put the sincerity of their love to the test, and especially so in the light of the eagerness or earnestness of the Macedonian Christians in this matter. When Paul states that he did not say this by commandment, he does not mean that it is not inspired. He simply means that the giving should come from a willing heart, because “God loves a cheerful giver.” - BBC

Paul, ever sensitive to the charge that he dominated the churches he founded (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:24), preferred that their motivation not stem from external commands (e.g., 2 Corinthians 8:7). He wanted them to be motivated by their internal devotion (the sincerity of your love) - BKC

Verse 9

For you know -- Paul follows his custom of illustrating by referencing the life and sufferings of Christ.

the grace -- the kindness, mercy, goodness. The Lord’s coming in this manner was the highest proof of his mercy and grace to all.

though he was rich -- The glories of heaven stand opposed to the poverty Christ assumed when he came to dwell among people.

It implies: 1) His pre=existence; 2) He was rich as the Lord and proprietor of all things. He was the Creator of all John 1:3; Colossians 1:16,

yet for you sake -- To become our redeemer and saviour.

he became poor - He chose a condition of poverty, became a servant; Phi 2.7.

that ye ... might be rich -- That men might have durable and eternal riches flowing from God’s everlasting favor. Men become heirs of God’s goodness, and a family.

Verse 10

And in this matter I give my judgment: -- Not proescribing how much they should give. Advice goes much further than commands on the matter of charities.

this benefits you, -- (συμφέρει sumpherei) This will be of advantage to you, profitable, becoming. It became themk it was proper, for them to perform what they had purposed. They were bound by a regard to do what they had started.

who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. -- They had became the college a year before, see 2Co. 8.6. Propably the intention had been interrupted by the dissensions which arose in the church there.

desire to do it. -- "willing" (τὸ θέλειν to thelein) They were voluntary in this matter, and they set about it with vigorous and determined zeal and courage. There was a resolute determination in it. Consistency and their own reputation now demanded they should complete what they had begun.

Verse 11

Perfect Performance

1) Readiness or willing mind 2 Corinthians 9:7

2) Purposeth

3) Cheerfully


1) Not grudgingly

2) Of necessity

3) Not of covetousness, 2 Corinthians 9:5

So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it -- They were now to accomplish this matter and not just be satisfied with having begun it. We are not to suppose that an "intention" is sufficient.

A year had elapsed and the necessity of helping the poor had not ceased.

out of what you have. -- They has been blessed to have some ability, 2 Corinthians 8:12, and their giving should be in proportion to their means.

Verse 12

For if the readiness [willing mind] is there, -- If there is a “readiness” (προθυμία prothumia), a disposition to give; if the heart is in it, then the offering will be acceptable to God, whether you be able to give much or little.

A willing mind is the first and main thing. it is that which God chiefly desires, and that without which everything else will be offensive, hypocritical, and vain; see the note, 2 Corinthians 9:7.

it is acceptable -- Some apply this to the person and render it, "he is accepted." Other think it is a more natural interpretation to apply it to the gift, "it is accepted, God will approve of it and receive it favorably."

according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. -- He is not expected to give what he does not have. Mark 12:42-44; Luke 21:1-4.

Verse 13

others -- eased and you burdened, -- Literally, “Not that there should be rest (ἄνεσις anesis, a letting loose; remission, relaxation) to others, but affliction (θλίψις thlipsis) to you.”

Probably the Corinthians were able to contribute more than many other churches, certainly more than the churches of Macedonia 2 Corinthians 8:2, and Paul therefore presses upon them the duty of giving according to their means, yet he by no means intended that the entire burden should come on them.

Verse 14

a matter of fairness [equality] -- (Stated twice, 2 Corinthians 8:13 b, and 2 Corinthians 8:14 b.) The same principle that Jesus stated in the golden rule, Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31.

may be fairness. -- That no unjust burden should be placed on anyone, but let each give as he has been prospered, Every Christians should bear his due porportion as he has prospered. See Galatians 6:2-5. 1 Corinthians 16:2.

Verse 15

As it is written -- Paul quotes Exodus 16:18, a verse showing how God sufficiently supplied the needs of the Israelites in the wilderness by providing manna (bread) and quail (Exodus 16:1-36).

God meant everyone to have just what they needed, no more and no less (Exodus 16:18). IVPBBCNT

The collecting of the manna by the Israelites in the wilderness was an appropriate illustration of sharing of resources. Some were able to gather more than others, and apparently shared it so that no one lacked what they needed. - MSB

Verse 16

Titus -- Titus’ name is mentioned 9 times in 12 verses in this epistle. 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:6; 2 Corinthians 7:13-14; 2 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 8:16; 2 Corinthians 8:23; 2 Corinthians 12:18.

Paul includes a brief aside to give a letter of recommendation for Titus and two other unnamed men who will deliver his letter to the Corinthian church. Paul describes Titus as a coworker who shares his concerns and values (2 Corinthians 8:16-17). He describes the first “brother” as someone with a good reputation who was chosen by the churches to be Paul’s travel companion (2 Corinthians 8:18-19). Paul describes the second “brother” as someone who has been tested and proven diligent (2 Corinthians 8:22). He encourages the Corinthians to show these three men proof of their love and thereby validate Paul’s boasts (2 Corinthians 8:24). - MSB

Verse 17

2co 8.17

Continuing to speak of Titus, 2 Corinthians 8:16

Verse 18

the brother -- This man is unnamed because he was so well known, prominent and unimpeachable. He was a distinguished preacher, and he was able to add credibility to the enterprise of taking the collection to Jerusalem.

He may have been Apollos (Acts 18:24-28), Timothy (a co-sender of 2 Corinthians; 2 Corinthians 1:1), or one of Paul’s Macedonian traveling companions listed in Acts 19:29. The fact that Paul does not mention his name probably indicates that the church already knew him. - FSB

See the wording of the RSV here. "With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel." Some think this brother with Paul, who is famous for his preaching of the gospel, could be Luke.

Church tradition has asserted that this could be Paul’s co-worker, Luke. Luke is not included in the list of Paul’s traveling companions recorded in Acts 20:4, but the “we” section in Acts 20:5-6, which implies Luke’s presence, occurs at this point in the context (cf. Origen recorded in Eusebius’ Hist. Eccl. 6:25:6; A. T. Robertson’ Word Pictures in the New Testament, p. 245). M. R. Vincent’s Word Studies mentions another theory.

Verse 19

chosen by the churches -- To protect Paul and Titus from false accusations regarding the mishandling of the money, the churches picked the unbiased brother (v. 18) as their representative to lend accountability to the enterprise. - MSB

None from Corinth are listed in Acts 20:4, where the representatives to Jerusalem with this offering are mentioned. Some have asserted that it was possible that Titus, who went earlier, was their representative, but there is no mention of him in Acts. cf. 1 Corinthians 16:3-4; 2 Corinthians 8:19-20.

chosen of the churches -- Acts 20:4, Acts 21:29 an Asian co-worker apparently of Ephesus. Trophimus was one of eight friends who accompanied Paul at the end of the 3rd missionary journey.[ see 1 Corinthians 16:3-4; 2 Corinthians 8:19-20 ] 2 Timothy 4:20 He was the innocent cause of the riot in the Jewish Temple that almost cost Paul his life.

Just as synagogues throughout the Mediterranean would send their annual tribute to the Jerusalem temple via local representatives of high reputation, this offering is also to be administered in an irreproachable manner: envoys would be “appointed by the churches.” The term for “appoint” could indicate election by a show of hands or (more loosely) a casting of ballots, as was common in Greek administration. - IVPBBCNT

this offering [gift, act of grace] -- τῇ χάριτι ταύτῃ τῇ G5485, Refers to the collection of financial relief for the saints in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:4).

Verse 20

take this course [taking precaution; avoiding this] -- The phrase “taking precaution” (“avoiding,” a PRESENT MIDDLE PARTICIPLE used only here and in 2 Thessalonians 3:6) was a nautical metaphor for the extra care in handling the sails when approaching a dock (cf. Moulton and Milligan, p. 587 from


that no one should blame us [should find fault with us] -- Paul planned to have several men accompany him to deliver the financial relief collection to Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:3-4). These men ensured that all the money arrived safely and allowed Paul to avoid any accusations that he mishandled the money.

This is the Greek term mumos, which basically means blame, ridicule, disgrace, or strain (cf. 2 Peter 2:13). The verb here (AORIST MIDDLE [deponent] SUBJUNCTIVE) implies “to find fault,” “to censure,” or “to blame” (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:3; 2 Corinthians 8:20).

generous gift -- G100, The word, which occurs here only, means literally “succulence.” It assumes that the Corinthians will give abundantly. It here implies that the sum which had been collected by Paul’s exertion was a large one. The word in 2 Corinthians 9:5 is different.

Verse 21

what is honorable -- A better rendering is “have regard for what is honorable,” or “take into consideration what is honorable.” Paul cared greatly about what people thought of his actions, especially considering how large the gift was. (cf. Matthew 10:16; Romans 12:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:22).

in the sight of man [before the people] -- Paul echoes Proverbs 3:4 [LXX] to explain the motivation for having a team accompany him and the collection to Jerusalem; he wants handling of this gift to be above criticism. (cf. Romans 14:18; Philippians 4:8; 1 Timothy 3:7; 1 Peter 2:12).

As explained in v. 20, this refers to the delivery of the money and arranging in advance for a delegation so that even in the sight of men no question could be raised as to Paul’s appropriating special credit to himself.

Verse 22

our brother -- A third member of the delegations sent to deliver the gift, also unnamed.

Paul expresses confidence in the integrity of this “brother.” He hopes that his boasting about this “brother” and Titus will cause the Corinthians to treat them with respect and honor. See note on 2 Corinthians 8:18.

As distinguished from “the brother” referred to in 2 Corinthians 8:18, means that this is one of Paul’s associates while the other man is not. The use of “our brother” shows that those are mistaken who in v. 18 translate τὸνδελφόνhis brother,” namely a physical brother of Titus’.

We know that this is not a man who was elected as a delegate for the journey to Jerusalem as the other is (v. 19). This is a man who was tested out often and in many things in the past and was always found “earnest.” B.-D. 416 makes ντα complementary to the verb; R. 1123 has it predicative to the adjective. “Being earnest” states the result of past tests: “that he is (indeed) earnest.” Let us note that “earnestness” (σπουδή) occurs in 2 Corinthians 8:8 and 2 Corinthians 8:16; then the comparative adjective “more earnest” in regard to Titus in 2 Corinthians 8:17, and now both the positive and the comparative in regard to this third brother.

B.-D. Friedrich Blass’ ; R. A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, by A. T. Robertson, 4th ed.

great confidence in you. -- This is another Pauline term used mostly in II Corinthians. It comes from the same Greek root as faith, trust, believe (peithō and pistis, pisteuō). It basically means trust, confidence, or reliance.

Verse 23

Titus -- Titus’ name is mentioned 9 times in 12 verses in this epistle. 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:6; 2 Corinthians 7:13-14; 2 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 8:16; 2 Corinthians 8:23; 2 Corinthians 12:18.

Note how he is described here.

messengers -- The Greek word used here, apostoloi, often translated as “messengers,” literally means “apostles” (see note on 1 Corinthians 12:28). Paul concludes by endorsing all three men as representatives of the churches who are working for the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). [Acts 14:14, Barnabas was an "apostle" or "messenger" of the church at Antioch being "sent out" by them. Acts 13:1-3]

It is hardly right to translate the word for ‘apostle’ by ‘messenger’ or ‘delegate’ either here or Philippians 2:25. - Plummer, CBSC

The two men who went with Titus were apostles in the sense of being commissioned and sent by the churches. They were not apostles of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:6), because they were not eyewitnesses of the resurrected Lord or commissioned directly by Him (see note on Romans 1:1). - MSB

Note: In the restoration era in this country in the 1800’s delegates to the various "Baptist" and other church conventions or councils, were referred to "messengers." - WG

Verse 24

Proof of your love -- In the first century, hospitality was the practical demonstration of love for visitors (John 13:20; Hebrews 13:2). Paul encourages the Corinthian believers to receive these three men with love and validate his boasting about them (see 2 Corinthians 7:16 and note).

Question: How much do I love God? [In the Roebuck Parkway church bulletin, the heading over the "contribution" listing each week was labeled: "Proof of Our Love". WG]

Wherefore [therefore, So] -- The point of the ‘therefore’ is, that these brethren are delegates of Churches; therefore respect shown to them is respect shown to the Churches, and will be reported to the Churches. - CBSC

show [give, treat, manifest] -- G1731, The rendering, ‘shew … the proof of your love’ (A.V., R.V.) once more obliterates a characteristic repetition. In Romans 3:26 the R.V. has ‘shewing’ for this same substantive; in Philippians 1:28 it has ‘manifest token’; ‘show the showing’ might do here. In Biblical Greek the word is peculiar to S. Paul. - CBSC

show them -- By a liberal contribution in the cause in which you are engaged. Furnish evidence that you love me and the brethren, and that I have not boasted of you in vain. (BN)

them -- The exegetical question is to whom does “them” refer? (1) It could refer to the poor in the church in Jerusalem. The Corinthian church demonstrated their love by their gift for the mother church. Their generosity showed the other Gentile churches that they were co-operating and following Paul’s lead. (2) It could refer to the other churches themselves. The best option contextually and grammatically is #2. - Utley

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 8". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. 2021.