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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
2 Corinthians 8

 

 

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Verses 1-11

Abound in this grace also

2 Corinthians 8:1-11

In this chapter the apostle praises the churches of Macedonia for their liberality and generous spirit in the matter of giving, and he uses their example to encourage the Corinthians to abound in this grace of giving. Actually, who should give, how we should give, how much we should give and to whom we should give form the main theme of the next two chapters of this epistle.

2 Corinthians 8:1. ‘Brethren, I want to tell you more about the grace, favour and spiritual blessings of God which have been bestowed upon the churches of Macedonia, arousing in them love for others and the desire to give alms and aid to those in need.’ The phrase ‘to wit’ means to inform, make known, or to give knowledge of a thing. Their liberality was the result of the grace of God in them, for his grace is the fountain of all the good that is in us or done by us at any time (1 Corinthians 15:10; Ephesians 4:32). These churches were Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea and others.

2 Corinthians 8:2. Although these churches were under great persecution from Jews and pagans, although they had endured great trials and were in deep poverty, this did not keep them from taking up a collection and sending gifts to their needy brethren in other places. They had little themselves but freely gave generously of what they had (Mark 12:41-44).

2 Corinthians 8:3. Two things the apostle points out concerning the generosity of these churches.

1. They gave according to their ability and even beyond what they were able to give – they gave sacrificially.

2. They did it voluntarily and willingly. They were not told to give or how much to give, but rather gave freely and cheerfully motivated by a love for Christ and the brethren.

2 Corinthians 8:4. They brought what they had collected among themselves to the apostles and begged them to take the responsibility of distributing these gifts to believers who were in need.

2 Corinthians 8:5. The apostle expected something from them, even in their condition of poverty and affliction, but what they gave was far beyond his expectation. Here is the reason for their faith and generosity – they first gave themselves to the Lord, to the care of his providence, trusting him to provide for them and resting in his care (Philippians 4:19). Then they gave themselves and what they had to the servants of Christ to be directed and used according to the will of God (Psalms 37:23-25).

2 Corinthians 8:6. Paul instructed Titus to go to the church at Corinth and receive alms and assistance for those in need. Evidently Titus had dealt with this matter of giving when he was with them before, but the work was not completed, so Paul urged Titus, through the example of the Macedonians, to go to Corinth and encourage among them the grace of giving.

2 Corinthians 8:7. The church of Corinth excelled and abounded in every grace, according to Paul. He commended their ‘faith,’ by which they had received the Lord Jesus and for which they had courageously stood (1 Corinthians 15:1-2), their ‘utterance’ or speech, by which they preached the gospel even in other languages, their ‘knowledge’ of God, Christ and the truth of the gospel, their ‘diligence’ in discharging their duties to God men and their ‘love’ for him and the ministers of the word. ‘See that you abound and excel in the grace of giving as well,’ for as faith, utterance, knowledge, diligence and love are graces, work of God within us, so also are kindness, generosity and liberality. None of these can be exercised properly without the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22).

2 Corinthians 8:8-9. ‘I am not commanding you to give,’ nor does God give a commandment fixing certain sums and times when believers are to give. The Lord has certainly revealed his will concerning giving. There is to be a willing mind (2 Corinthians 8:12); everyone is to have a part (2 Corinthians 8:13); and that part is to be as God has prospered or enabled them (1 Corinthians 16:2). But Paul seeks to motivate them by three things: by pointing out the example of other believers, by urging them to prove the sincerity of their love to Christ and others (James 2:15-17), and by the example of our Lord Jesus Christ - our Lord gave all for us. Through his love, kindness and grace, he, who was rich beyond description, became so very poor so that by his poverty we might have every spiritual need abundantly supplied. ‘Let this mind be also in you which was in Christ’ (Philippians 2:5-9). How can we, who are loved in such a way, not also love? How can we, who are the recipients of such grace and mercy, not be gracious and merciful to others?

2 Corinthians 8:10. ‘It is then my counsel and advice, and it is profitable and fitting for you, to complete this work which you willingly began a year ago.’ A good beginning and a willing mind are good, but not enough. We must persevere and do it. Words and good intentions are fine, but the doing of it is essential (1 John 3:18).

2 Corinthians 8:11. ‘Now, therefore, finish what you began. You showed before that you had the will to help those in need; now perform the doing of it according to your ability or as God has prospered you. Give out of that which you have, be it little or great. No man is expected to give that which he does not have.’


Verses 12-24

First – a willing mind

2 Corinthians 8:12-24

2 Corinthians 8:12. In the matter of giving, the motive and spirit in which we give are of greater importance than the amount. There must first be a willing mind. If what we give springs from a cheerful and willing heart, it is accepted of God, it be little or much, for the Lord does not require of us that which is not in our power to give. The widow's mite and a cup of cold water given willingly for the glory of God are well-pleasing to God (Philippians 4:18).

2 Corinthians 8:13-14. The apostle's meaning is that the burden of the collection or offering should not be carried by some while others are excused from giving, but that everyone should give according to his ability (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Also, the meaning is that there should be an equality between givers and receivers - share and share alike. ‘At the present time your brethren are in need and your gifts will supply that need. At another time their surplus may be given to supply your want’ (Acts 2:44-45).

2 Corinthians 8:15. This is a quotation from Exodus 16:17-18 and refers to the manna which God gave for food in the wilderness. Each morning it was gathered by the people, by some more, by others less; yet when it was measured, every man had his omer and no more. The man who gathered much shared with those who gathered less, and every need was met. If we are blessed of God to have an abundance of material blessings, he surely intends us to share with those who have less strength, ability, or blessing. This does not excuse nor justify laziness and an unwillingness to work (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The true believer does not look upon giving for the preaching of the gospel and the relief of the needy as a duty, but as a privilege and a blessing (Acts 20:35). What we give is not really ours but the Lord's. We are but his stewards and servants (1 Chronicles 29:12-14).

2 Corinthians 8:16-17. Paul requested of Titus that he go to Corinth for the purpose of receiving a collection and to assist them in the matter of giving, but God had already laid the matter on the heart of Titus, and though he made the journey at the suggestion of the older apostle, he willingly did so of his own accord. How blessed is the service of the Lord when it is motivated by a willing heart!

2 Corinthians 8:18-19. Who this brother was is difficult to say. Some have suggested Luke, Barnabas, Silas, Apollos, or Mark, but one thing is clear, he was a brother who faithfully preached the gospel. Also, he was one chosen by the churches to travel as Paul's companion when he carried a large gift for distribution among the needy. On that occasion, as now, Paul's end was the glory of God and to show his readiness to help others.

2 Corinthians 8:20-21. Paul is careful to have another brother, designated by the church, with him when he is entrusted with gifts and money for distribution. This is not only to provide things honest in the sight of God, but also in the sight of men. Paul would not handle so large a gift alone lest someone should think that he had applied it to his own use or did not distribute it to those for whom it was intended. Paul could be trusted and he certainly trusted Titus, but he did not know what men say; he therefore takes along or sends along a witness. Let us be careful to pattern our methods in the handling of collections in the same way (2 Corinthians 13:1).

2 Corinthians 8:22. Paul mentions sending another brother of good report and faithful service along with them.

2 Corinthians 8:23. This verse contains Paul's words of recommendation for Titus and the brethren sent to Corinth to make up their collection and gifts for the needy in other places. In the matter of preaching the gospel, Paul, on another occasion, discounted letters of recommendation, saying that the gospel he preached and the fruits of his ministry were his letter of recommendation (2 Corinthians 3:1-3). But in the matter of handling finances and receiving to hand large gifts to be taken to other places, Paul feels it necessary to express his personal confidence in these men and to assure the church at Corinth that they can be trusted fully. ‘As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow-helper, and the other two brethren are chosen messengers of the churches and a credit and glory to our Lord.’

2 Corinthians 8:24. ‘Therefore, when they come your way, receive them and show to them (before all) the reality and truth of your love to Christ, to others and to me. Show also that I have good reason for boasting about and being proud of you.’

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 8:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/2-corinthians-8.html. 2013.


Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, July 17th, 2018
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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