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Verse 1 Paul gave instructions concerning this collection in 1Co_16:1-3 . "Grace" is the opportunity to do good for others, which Christians should be thankful for. Macedonia would include Philippi, Berea, and Thessalonica. The money is for poor saints at Jerusalem.
Verse 2 McGarvey and Pendleton tell us that Macedonia had just been through three civil wars. They were so poor, their taxes had been lightened. The church was made even poorer by persecution ( 2Th_1:4 ). They were put to the test by their affliction and poverty. But, they coupled this with their joy at receiving the gospel and gave abundantly, especially in light of their poverty.
Verse 3 Before Paul had a chance to ask for a contribution, these people gave over and above their means.
Verse 4 They then begged Paul to deliver the money to those in need in Jerusalem.
Verse 5 The reason they gave so freely was that they first gave themselves over totally to God. Then, they gave their service to the apostles as God's servants. The reason their gift exceeded all Paul's hopes is evidently the fact that they counted all they had as God's.
Verse 6 Thus encouraged by the Macedonian response, Paul sent Titus back to finish the collection at Corinth. Paul uses the example to encourage, not to promote competition.
Verse 7 They possessed many of the gifts of the Spirit and Christian virtues. Paul now encourages them to add one more good work.
Verse 8 Paul was not commanding them to give, as that must be a personal decision to be of value. Rather, he would use an example to inspire them and will look to the gift as a measure of their love.
Verse 9 Paul could not think of giving without thinking of Jesus' great sacrifice. He gave up heaven and its riches to come to earth and die for us ( Php_1:4-8 ; Heb_2:9 ).
Verse 10 Paul would not command them to give, as giving has to be willingly done ( 2Co_9:7 ). He did encourage them to finish the work they had started.
Verse 11 They had promised to do a certain work and Paul was pleading with them to keep that promise.
Verse 12 God will accept a gift that is given willingly and freely. The greatness of the gift is not determined by amount, but by amount coupled with ability. The best example of this is the widow and her gift of 2 mites ( Mar_12:41-44 ).
Verses 13-14. Paul's purpose was not to make the Corinthians poor so that those in Jerusalem might be made richer. He wanted them to give out of their overflow that others might have their basic needs provided for. Later, the Corinthians might have needs that could be met by someone else's abundance.
Verse 15 In the wilderness ( Exo_16:17-18 ), no one had anything left and no one lacked for manna. McGarvey and Pendleton write, "Now that which God effected by irresistible law under the old dispensation, he was now seeking to effect under the new dispensation through the gracious influence of brotherly love. Our differences in ability make it inevitable that some shall surpass others in the gathering of wealth; but as selfishness gives place to Christian love, the inequality of earthly possessions will become more even.
Verses 16-17. Paul thanked God that he had caused Titus to have the same loving concern for the Corinthians' spiritual growth as Paul had. Titus was not only willing to go back and encourage them to take up a collection, but had prepared to go before being asked.
Verse 18 Another brother, who was widely praised for his work in behalf of the gospel, went with Titus.
Verse 19 This second brother could be trusted because of the above mentioned praise and because he had been appointed to help Paul carry the gift to Jerusalem.
Verse 20 Paul was glad to have companions so that he would be above suspicion in the handling of the money.
Verse 21 He wanted to be right in God's eyes and have a good reputation among men if possible.
Verse 22 Paul sent a third brother with them who had been used by Paul often and had proven a determined worker in God's service. This brother's determination had grown stronger because of his knowledge of the Corinthians' work.
Verse 23 To stop all objections to the three, Paul noted that Titus was his partner in the work at Corinth. Further, the other two were men sent by churches to deliver messages. Apparently they had proven faithful by delivering the whole message without any changes. Also, their lives were plainly given over by them to Jesus with the sole purpose of glorifying the savior.
Verse 24 Since the messengers deserved their trust, Paul asks the Corinthians to show their love in the collection of the gift. He wanted them to show it because he knew they had it and had confidently affirmed to the messengers they would display it.
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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 8". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent