The apostle is writing concerning a certain collection which was being made for the poor saints of Jerusalem. It was from Jerusalem that the gospel had spread into Greece, and, therefore, those who had received spiritual things from the poor Jews at Jerusalem were bound by every tie of holy brotherhood to remember their benefactors in the time of famine. The apostle stirs up the Corinthian Church about this contribution.
2 Corinthians 8:1. Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit
Or “we make you to know.”
2 Corinthians 8:1-2. Of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia. How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
It is good to stir one Christian up by the example of another, and Paul excites those at Corinth by the example of the churches in Macedonia —especially, no doubt, the church at Philippi. He says that they were in great affliction, and they were very poor, but yet they had been so filled with the grace of God that their very poverty had enabled them to “abound to the riches of their liberality,” for what they gave became more in proportion because they were so poor.
2 Corinthians 8:3. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves:
Without any pressure: without even a hint — spontaneously.
2 Corinthians 8:4. Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
“Take upon us the communion,” for that blessed word “Koinonia,” communion, is applied not only to the Lord’s supper, and to such fellowship as that but to communion with poor saints — fellowship with them by helping their necessities. And Paul says that the Macedonian Churches pressed it upon him that he should take their money, and go with it to Jerusalem, and distribute it. He appears to have been very reluctant to do this, but they pressed it upon him.
2 Corinthians 8:5. And this they did, not as we hoped,
That is, “according to our hopes.”
2 Corinthians 8:6. But first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
They first gave of themselves to God, and then asked Paul to take it that he might use it for God in the distribution of Christian charity among the poor saints at Jerusalem.
2 Corinthians 8:6-7. Inasmuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. Therefore, as ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.
They were a famous church — this church at Corinth, having gifted men in abundance more than other churches, insomuch that they did not use to have one man for a pastor, because they so abounded in brethren able to edify; and he urges them, as they were forward in all things, not to be backward in their liberality.
2 Corinthians 8:8. I speak not by commandment,
“I do not wish to put it upon you as a law. I want it to be spontaneous on your part.”
2 Corinthians 8:8-9. But by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. 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.
What a touching argument! How could he find a better? Help your brethren in Jerusalem that are in need, even though that help should pinch you, for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and what he did, and what he gave that you might be rich.
2 Corinthians 8:10. 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.
They had begun last year — perhaps not a year ago, but some months ago in the previous year — to talk the matter over, and to make promises; and they had been among the first to undertake the work, but as yet they had not done it.
2 Corinthians 8:11. 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.
They had not a minister, you see, and what is everybody’s business is nobody’s business, and so the contribution was not carried out. And in general the church at Corinth is about the worst in the New Testament, and that for this very reason — that it had not any oversight. It was the pattern church of certain brethren whom we have among us this day — in the very example of them, and they quote this as an example, whereas it is put here as a beacon, and a very excellent beacon, too, to warn us against any such thing. Everything was sixes and sevens, good people as they were. Seeing that they had no order and no discipline, nothing got done, and they wearied the apostle’s life because of that. God would have things done decently and in order, and he gives to his churches pastors after his own heart, and when he does, then is the church able to carry out her desires and her activities with something like practical common-sense. But here a year ago, months ago, they had talked the matter over, and made a promise, and now he has to say to them, “Now therefore, perform the doing of it.” They had no deacons to look them up, I will be bound to say.
2 Corinthians 8:12-14. 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. For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: 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:
It is in the Christian Church alone that we shall ever find liberty equality, and fraternity thoroughly represented. There, by the life of Christ within his people spiritually, that shall be realized, and the apostle backs up this thought of his, which Bengel has beautifully put when he says “We ought to minister of our luxuries to the comfort of others, and of our comforts to the necessities of others.” So we should, to keep up a balance that, when one suffers wants and another abounds, there may be an equality made.
2 Corinthians 8:15. As it is written, He that had gathered much
2 Corinthians 8:15-17. Had nothing over: and he that had gathered little had no lack. But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.
Or “he is going unto you,” for he bore this letter unto them.
2 Corinthians 8:18. And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches:
And what brother was that? Nobody knows. And a brother who has praise in all the churches may be well content to have his name forgotten. Oh! it would be a sweet thing to have praise in all the churches anonymously, so that it all might go up to God. It may have been Luke. Probably it was. It may not have been Luke. Probably it was not. We do not know who it was. But it does not signify. What matters it? As Mr. Whitfield used to say, “Let my name perish, but let Christ’s name last for ever.” “And we have sent with him the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches.”
2 Corinthians 8:19. And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace,
Or “with this gift.”
2 Corinthians 8:19-20. Which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind: Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:
He had other brethren associated with him, lest anybody should even hint that Paul was benefited thereby. And, oh! in the distribution of the Lord’s money, it becomes us to be exceedingly careful. Paul adds this.
2 Corinthians 8:21. Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.
That the thing might be so clear and transparent that, while God knew that Paul was honest, everybody else might know it too, for others had been associated with him.
2 Corinthians 8:22-23. 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. Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow-helper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messenger of the churches, and the glory of Christ.
How beautiful to see Paul so praising his brethren — very humble, commonplace persons as compared with himself, but he admires the grace of God in them. How very different from the general spirit of depreciation that you find even among Christian men — afraid to praise anybody, lest they should be exalted above measure. You might leave that to the devil. He will take care that they are not exalted above measure but you need not be as particular about that. Often the best thing that can be done for God’s servant is to encourage him, for, though you may not know it, he may have a multitude of depressions, heavy toil and earnest care, and much watching, which may bring him down. Paul speaks well of the brotherhood: let us try to do the same. But how does he call these simple-minded men, who are going with him to distribute this money? Does he call them the glory of Christ? Yes; Christ is the glory of God, and his people are the glory of Christ. He glories whenever he is glorified by them. They are the result of the travail of his soul, and in that sense they are his glory.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 8". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany