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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
2 Corinthians 8

 

 

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Verses 1-6

The Example of Christian Giving by the Macedonian Churches - In 2 Corinthians 8:1-6 Paul provokes the Corinthians to jealousy by telling them about the sacrificial giving of the churches of Macedonia. In this passage he exhorts the church at Corinth to give as the churches of Macedonia had done. The underlying theme of 2Corinthians is about mature sanctification. Throughout this Epistle Paul reveals his life of sufferings and perseverance as an example of spiritual maturity. Therefore, Paul calls the Corinthians into this mature walk by asking them to make similar sacrifices. He will later provide them a reason and motive for such sacrifices through God's promises to reward those who sow financially into the Kingdom of God.

The sacrificial giving of the Macedonia Churches out of their poverty may seem far removed from our comfortable lifestyles in a developed nation, but many mission fields today could use a little Macedonian-type giving from a blessed America.

2 Corinthians 8:1 — "Moreover" - Comments- The English word "moreover" carries the meaning of "Beyond what has been said." Alfred Plummer suggests that the conjunction δέ with an address suggests some sort of "transition" to a new thought. He prefers "now." 71]

71] Alfred Plummer, The Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, in The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (Edinburg: T. & T. Clark, Ltd, c 1915, 1985), 232.

2 Corinthians 8:1Comments- Note who is the giver (God), and who is the receiver (the churches of Macedonia) in 2 Corinthians 8:1.

2 Corinthians 8:2 — "How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy" - Comments- We see James exhorting the Jewish converts to walk in joy while undergoing similar trials.

James 1:2, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;"

2 Corinthians 8:2"and their deep poverty" - Scripture Reference- Note:

Proverbs 13:7, "There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches."


Verses 1-10

Paul Offers Reconciliation to the Church at Corinth - Having explained his ministry of reconciliation in the previous section (1-7), Paul now tests the obedience of the Corinthians after calling them to be reconciled unto God. For those who answer his call, Paul gives them an opportunity to prove their loyalty to him by participating in the collection of the saints ( 2 Corinthians 8:1 to 2 Corinthians 9:15). For these church members Paul's words are a sweet savour of Christ resulting in life ( 2 Corinthians 2:15-16) resulting in their edification ( 2 Corinthians 13:10). For those who reject his call, Paul launches into an apologetic message to defend his right as an apostle over the Corinthians ( 2 Corinthians 10:1 to 2 Corinthians 13:10). He then warns them of his upcoming visit in which he is ready to use sharpness according to the power which the Lord had given him for edification and for destruction ( 2 Corinthians 13:10). Song of Solomon , for the rebellious, Paul's words are "the savour of death unto death" ( 2 Corinthians 2:15-16).

Outline- Note the proposed outline:

A. The Collection for the Saints — 2 Corinthians 8:1 to 2 Corinthians 9:15

1. The Example of Christian Giving — 2 Corinthians 8:1-6

2. The Exhortation to Give — 2 Corinthians 8:7-15

3. The Arrangement to Give — 2 Corinthians 8:16 to 2 Corinthians 9:5

4. The Benefits of Christian Giving — 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

B. Paul Exercises Apostolic Authority — 2 Corinthians 10:1 to 2 Corinthians 13:10

1. Paul Declares His Authority — 2 Corinthians 10:1-18

a) Paul's Defense Against False Charges — 2 Corinthians 10:1-11

b) Paul's Claim to Apostleship — 2 Corinthians 10:12-18

2. Paul Boasts of His Credentials — 2 Corinthians 11:1 to 2 Corinthians 12:21

a) Mental: A Godly Lifestyle — 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

b) Physical: Jewish Ancestry & Christian Suffering — 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

c) Spiritual: Revelations & Miracles — 2 Corinthians 12:1-13

3. Paul Executes His Authority — 2 Corinthians 12:14 to 2 Corinthians 13:10


Verses 1-15

The Collection for the Saints 2 Corinthians 8:1 to 2 Corinthians 9:15 forms the second division of this Epistle. In this section Paul challenges them to fulfill their commitment and make a sacrificial offering for the poor saints at Jerusalem. Now, for those in Corinth who will be reconciled to Paul as their spiritual authority, he gives them a charge of giving an offering to the poor saints in Jerusalem ( 2 Corinthians 8:1 to 2 Corinthians 9:15). This is their opportunity to prove their loyalty to Paul ( 2 Corinthians 8:8). For those who are still rebellious, Paul will execute his divine authority over them ( 2 Corinthians 10:1 to 2 Corinthians 13:10). This lengthy passage on giving begins with the example of the Macedonians giving out of their deep poverty. It ends with a promise from God's Word that giving generously will cause all of God's grace to abound so that they have an abundance to give on every good occasion. The Corinthian believers had experienced the grace of salvation, the gifts of the Spirit operating in their lives, understanding in God's Word through the teachings of Paul and Apollos, as well as various miracles and healings. Now, God wanted them to experience financial blessings. In other words, financial sowing reaps financial blessings. Although they may begin their efforts of sacrificial giving out of poverty, it will lead them down a road of financial prosperity.

Outline- Note the proposed outline:

1. The Example of Christian Giving — 2 Corinthians 8:1-6

2. The Exhortation to Give — 2 Corinthians 8:7-15

3. The Arrangement to Give — 2 Corinthians 8:16 to 2 Corinthians 9:5

4. The Benefits of Christian Giving — 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Paul's Exhortation on Giving - 2 Corinthians 8:1 to 2 Corinthians 9:15 forms the second major division of this Epistle. In these two chapters Paul deals with the issue of the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem.

Its Background- It has been suggested that Paul borrowed the concept of this collection from the customary Jewish Temple tax. This tax was fixed at a certain amount and made mandatory for all Jews. It finds a similar purpose with Paul's collection in that it made provision for the poor within local Jewish communities. Thus, is served as an ideal model to use within the local churches. However, Paul structured it differently to fit the Gentile churches and found it necessary to refer to Old Testament Scriptures supporting such an offering ( 2 Corinthians 8:15; 2 Corinthians 9:9).

Order of Events- The topic of this offering is mentioned in four places in the New Testament: Acts 24:17, Romans 15:26-28, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 and these two chapters. By examining these four passages we can suggest an order of events. It seems that the Corinthians had heard of this project prior to Paul writing to them about it, perhaps through Timothy ( 2 Corinthians 9:2). He is possibly answering their inquiries in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 as to how this collection is to be gathered. Because of the trouble that arose in the church at Corinth, Paul decided to send Titus with the "severe letter" in an attempt to set the problem in order, as well as deal with this collection also ( 2 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 8:16-17). Having met up with Titus in Macedonia and wrote 2Corinthians. He sent this letter to Corinth by the hands of Titus , accompanied by two brothers to finish organizing for this collection ( 2 Corinthians 8:18-24; 2 Corinthians 9:1-5). When Paul did make his visit to Corinth shortly thereafter ( 2 Corinthians 13:1), he received this offering ( Romans 15:26-28) and made his way back to Jerusalem around the time of Pentecost ( Acts 20:16) where he offered it to the churches there ( Acts 24:17). We call this time Easter, so this could easily be called an Easter offering.

Its Purpose- We must note that Paul had agreed with the "Pillars" of the Church in Jerusalem when they first recognized and approved his apostleship to the Gentiles that he would "remember the poor" ( Galatians 2:10). Thus, this collection not only strengthened his relationship with these church leaders in Jerusalem, but it bore witnesses to his authenticity as a true apostle to the Gentiles. The distress in Jerusalem was great, and for such a great offering to come from Gentile believers spoke loudly of their genuine conversion and godly love. This is one reason that Paul stresses that the offering must be given willingly, and not begrudgingly. Thus, this offering from Gentile believers to Jewish believers was used as a tool to unite the church in Jerusalem with the Gentile churches he had founded. As Alfred Plummer points out, it was only fitting that if the Gentiles had been allowed to share in the spiritual blessings of the Jews, then the Jews ought to share in the material blessings of the Gentiles. 69] We see from Paul's final visit to Jerusalem that he had many enemies there because of his missionary work. There appeared to be false reports and misunderstandings as to Paul's doctrines and motives by this Jewish community of Palestine, and even the Jewish converts there. Therefore, this offering was used to demonstrate his good will towards the Jews in general as Paul made efforts to keep peace between his churches and Jerusalem. For if these Jewish emissaries were accusing Paul and his churches of being fractured from the mother church in Jerusalem, this was an opportunity for him defend his apostleship and demonstrate his unity and love to these Jewish saints in Jerusalem.

69] Alfred Plummer, The Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, in The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (Edinburg: T. & T. Clark, Ltd, c 1915, 1985), 230.

This offering also directly benefited the Corinthians. In order to understand why Paul is asking for such an offering from them in this manner, we must look at the underlying theme of this great epistle of 2Corinthians. The secondary theme of 2Corinthians is about a lifestyle that reflects mature sanctification. It is intended to show us the believer's lifestyle when he has come to maturity in the faith. A Christian life then reflects a lifestyle of sacrifice. We also see in 2Corinthians how Paul's sacrificial service brought him into God's favor, which was manifested as an abundance of divine revelations. While the theme of 1Corinthians reflects this process of sanctification by the Holy Spirit in its early stages, and it shows us the manifestation of this process being expressed through the operation of the charismatic gifts balanced with the love walk 2Corinthians takes sanctification a step further into the mature, sacrificial Christian service, which involves suffering. With such a sacrifice comes an abundance of God's grace.

Now the believers at Corinth could not all become apostles and ministers of the Gospel. They could give financially unto the Lord, and this could be done sacrificially. This is exactly what Paul the apostle is asking them to do. We must understand that our financials and material possessions are the manifestation of our labours. When we give these to the Lord sacrificially, we are actually giving him our labours. Thus, Paul is trying to get them to step out into a lifestyle of sanctification in its mature stages. It means trusting in the Lord at a greater level for daily provision. This is what we see taking place in the ministry of Jesus Christ as He sent out the twelve apostles without their daily provisions. Jesus wanted them to learn to look to divine providence and divine provision for their daily needs as they sacrificially served the Lord. Paul is offering the same lessons for the Corinthian saints.

Its Application to Us Today- We can apply this passage in 2 Corinthians 8:1 to 2 Corinthians 9:15 to our daily lives when our pastor asks the congregation to serve in the ministry of helps, or to give sacrificially in a special offering. Such commitments from the congregation take a sacrifice. It does not come easily, but it is well pleasing unto God. Our finances are a measure of our physical labours, and when we give financially, we are essentially giving our labours. Note:

Hebrews 13:16, "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

This is part of the struggle that moves us into a higher calling. Such struggles are what stops many believers from entering into the deeper life with God. In Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, he has asked the church to deal with internal strife, fornication, and offenses among the brethren so that they can enter into the love walk of the Christian faith and operate the gifts of the spirit properly. His second epistle asks the Corinthians believers to take a further step and learn to suffer for Jesus' namesake in divine service. In 2 Corinthians 8:1 to 2 Corinthians 9:15 Paul will give instructions on sacrificial giving, which serves as the final step in our sanctification prior to forsaking all and following Jesus in the full-time ministry. We see this in the lives of the apostles as Jesus called each one to forsake all and follow Him.

Paul's Exhortation on the Motive For Giving - Note how often synonyms for willingness are used by Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:1 to 2 Corinthians 9:15 in this discourse on giving. Paul is clearly emphasizing the fact that giving must be done with the right motive, willingly from a pure heart.

1. 2 Corinthians 8:3 - "they were willing of themselves" - αυθαίρετος - Really, verses 2-5 emphasize the willingness of these churches.

2. 2 Corinthians 8:8 - "the forwardness of others" - σπουδή - Their eagerness and diligence is the focus of Paul mentioning the churches of Macedonia in verses 2-5.

3. 2 Corinthians 8:10 - "also to be forward" - or willing- θελω

4. 2 Corinthians 8:11 - "there was readiness to will" - προθυμια

5. 2 Corinthians 8:12 - a willing mind" - προθυμια

6. 2 Corinthians 8:16 - "the same earnest care into the heart to Titus" - σπουδή

7. 2 Corinthians 8:17 - "being move forward" - σπουδαιοτερος

8. 2 Corinthians 8:18 - "of his own accord" - αυθαίρετος

9. 2 Corinthians 8:19 - "your ready mind" - προθυμια

10. 2 Corinthians 8:22 - "often times proved diligent" - σπουδαιος

11. 2 Corinthians 8:22 - "much more diligent" - σπουδαιοτερος

12. 2 Corinthians 9:1 - "the forwardness of your mind" - προθυμια

13. 2 Corinthians 9:2 - "your zeal" - ζηλος

14. 2 Corinthians 9:5 - "as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness" - ευλογία

15. 2 Corinthians 9:6 - "He which sowth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" Amplified, "Generously that blessings may come" - ευλογία

16. 2 Corinthians 9:7 - "not grudgingly (sorrowful) or of necessity compulsion), for God loveth a cheerful giver- ιλαρος

17. 2 Corinthians 9:11 - "to all bountifulness" - απλοτης

18. 2 Corinthians 9:13 - "your liberal distribution unto them" - απλοτης

The theme of this discourse on giving could well be summed up in Isaiah 1:19 :

Isaiah 1:19, "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land"

Mark Carillo said "If our income belongs to God, then our outcome will be blessed." 70]

70] Mark Carillo, "Sermon, Sunday Night Service" (Calvary Cathedral International, Fort Worth, Texas) 22July 2007.

Two Examples of Giving- Two examples of giving are mentioned by Paul to exhort the Corinthians to give:

1. The churches of Macedonia (verses 2-5).

2. Jesus Himself (verses 9).


Verses 7-15

The Exhortation to Give - In 2 Corinthians 8:7-15 Paul exhorts the Corinthians to give out of a willing heart in order to prove their love for him. He explains that sacrificial giving does not mean to ease others and burden themselves, but rather, to find an equality so that everyone has enough. He uses the example of the child of Israel in the wilderness as they gathered manna for one another.

2 Corinthians 8:8Comments- God tests our love and devotion to Him through acts of sacrifice and obedience. He tested the Corinthians through financial offerings in order to develop them into spiritual maturity.

2 Corinthians 8:9Comments- Jesus Christ divested Himself of His riches and glory and honor which He had in Heaven and came to earth and because poor so that we might be enriched in every area of our lives, spiritually, mentally, physically and financially. He was born in a manger to identify with the poor of this world. Yet, He did not necessarily remain poor, for when He entered His public ministry He feed the five thousand, and again the four thousand; He paid taxes from the fish's mouth; He took care of the needs of the twelve apostles; He rented the upper room for the Last Supper. In other words, His Heavenly Father continually met His daily needs, so that He was not poor in the sense of having lack. Rather, He walked in the abundance of heavenly blessings.

The purpose of Paul's stewardship as an apostle to the Gentiles was to enrich the believers in their daily walk with Christ. Such blessings came at a great price to Paul, who will declare himself as their "spiritual father" in the next passage ( 2 Corinthians 4:14-18). At the one who "fathered their faith," he had to endure much persecution and suffering for Christ's sake. Paul will make mention of this fatherly principle of making sacrifices for his children in his second epistle to the Corinthians ( 2 Corinthians 6:10) as well as to the sacrifices that Christ bore for us that we might be made rich ( 2 Corinthians 8:9).

2 Corinthians 6:10, "As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things."

2 Corinthians 8:9, "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."

What does it mean to become a "father" of a people's faith? We see Abraham being called "the father of all them that believe" ( Romans 4:11). We look at Abraham's historic steps in the Promised Land, obeying the Lord in order to demonstrate to us that it is possible to live in right standing with God. Thus, he serves as a "father of faith" for all who were to believe afterwards. There were many sacrifices that Abraham made, and much suffering and persecutions he endured for the sake of the Lord. One good example of how a "father of faith" must make great sacrifices is seen in the accomplishment of Charles Lindburgh, the first man to fly across the Atlantic Ocean compared to some of the historic flights made today with some of the world's biggest passenger jets. One of these took place on November 10, 2005 when a Boeing 777 commercial airline flew from Hong Kong to London, a distance of 18 ,662kilometers (11 ,664miles) on a flight that took 22hours and 43minutes in the air, breaking the record for the longest nonstop flight by a commercial jet. Those on board enjoyed the luxuries of a lounge, beds, sofas and meals. Yet, such events did not begin that way. The first man make such a flight across the oceans was Lindburgh, who fathered flights across the Atlantic. On May 20, 1927 he roared down the muddy runway of Roosevelt Field, Long Island and lifted his small aircraft, the "Spirit of St. Louis," into the air. Thirty-three and one half-hours and 3 ,500 miles later he landed in Paris, France. This was a dangerous journey that had already seen a number of men lost at sea in their failed attempts to be the first to cross the Atlantic. Lindburgh had no parachute, but only took with him with four sandwiches, two canteens of water and 451gallons of fuel in order to keep his load light. His spirit and will to succeed captivated the world and made many believe that it could be done. From that point men worked hard in faith knowing that they could follow in the steps of Lindburgh. 72]

72] "Lindbergh Flies the Atlantic, 1927 ," (EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com, 1999) [on-line]; accessed 18 April 2010; available from http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/lindbergh.htm; Internet.

Song of Solomon , when Paul tells the Corinthians that they are rich and reign as kings while he suffers as a spectacle to the world in 2 Corinthians 4:6-13, he is explaining the principle of fatherhood that Abraham ( Romans 4:11-12) and Jesus Christ ( 2 Corinthians 8:9) walked in. They made tremendous sacrifices themselves so that their "children" could walk in blessings.

2 Corinthians 8:14Comments- This was not equal giving, but rather, equal sacrificing. 73]

73] Arthur Nsamba, "Sermon," Miracle Center Cathedral, Kampala, Uganda, June 24, 2007.


Verse 16

The Arrangement to Give - In 2 Corinthians 8:16 to 2 Corinthians 9:5 Paul explains to the Corinthians how he has made arrangements to collect their offering. He is going to send Titus along with another brother whom they knew well, perhaps Timothy or Erasmus or another close companion of Paul ( 2 Corinthians 8:16-23). He asks them to give in order to prove their love and Paul's boasting of them ( 2 Corinthians 8:24). Paul then reminds them of their willingness a year ago to give when this project was first presented to them ( 2 Corinthians 9:1-2). He will send the brethren ahead of his coming in order to prepare the offering for his arrival ( 2 Corinthians 9:3-5).

2 Corinthians 8:16 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.

2 Corinthians 8:16Word Study on "thanks be to God" - The Greek construction χάριν ἔχω τῷ χριστῷ ἰησοῦ or χάρις τῷ θεῷ 74] or some variation of this phrase is found no less than thirteen times in the Greek New Testament ( Luke 17:9, Romans 6:17; Romans 7:25, 1 Corinthians 10:30; 1 Corinthians 15:57, 2 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 8:16; 2 Corinthians 9:15, Colossians 3:16, 1 Timothy 1:12, 2 Timothy 1:3, Philemon 1:7 [t.r.], Hebrews 12:28). It is properly translated in a variety of ways; "I am grateful to God," or "I thank God," "Let's give thanks," or "with thanks to the Lord."

74] Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993, 2006), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 2 Corinthians 8:16.

2 Corinthians 8:23Comments- Paul uses the words "fellowprisoners," "fellowlabourers," and "fellowhelpers" in a number of his epistles. These words go deeper in meaning than just describing their personal relationships with Paul. It also describes their spiritual relationship with him in the sense that they were partners and partakers of Paul's sufferings as well as his heavenly rewards. In other words, these words describe people would receive the same rewards in heaven that Paul would receive because they stood with him during these difficult times.

2 Corinthians 9:5Comments- Paul asked for a missions pledge from this congregation.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 8:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/2-corinthians-8.html. 2013.


Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 12th, 2018
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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