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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Beet's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
2 Corinthians 8

 

 

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Verses 1-15

DIVISION II.

THE COLLECTION FOR THE POOR AT JERUSALEM CHAPTERS 8, 9.

SECTION 11. — BY THE EXAMPLE OF THE MACEDONIAN CHURCHES, PAUL URGES HIS READERS TO PERFORM THEIR OWN PURPOSE OF LIBERALITY CH. 8:1-15.

Moreover, we make known to you, brothers, the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia; that in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy is, and their deep poverty has abounded for the riches of their sincerity. Because, according to their power, I bear witness, and beyond their power, of their own accord, with much exhortation begging of us the favour* (*Or, grace.) and the partnership in((AGreek, of) the ministry for the saints, and not as we hoped but themselves they gave first to the Lord and to us by the will of God; that we might exhort Titus that according as he had before begun so he should also complete in reference to you this grace also.

Yes, just as in everything you abound, faith and utterance and knowledge and all earnestness and love from you to us, that also in this grace you may abound. Not by way of command do I say it, but by means of other men’s earnestness putting to the proof the genuineness of your love. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that because of us He became poor, although rich, that you by His poverty may become rich. And an opinion in this matter I give. For this is profitable for you, who not only to do but also to wish began first, last year. And now complete the doing also, in order that just as there was the readiness to wish so there may be also the completing, according as you possess. For, if the readiness exists, according to whatever one may have it is acceptable, not according to what he has not. Not in order that to others there may be relief, to you pressure: but by way of equality, in the present season your abundance for their deficiency, that also their abundance may come to be for your deficiency; that there may be equality, according as it is written, (Exodus 16:18,) “He that had much had not more: and he that had little had not less.”

2 Corinthians 8:1-2. For the altogether new matter of DIV. II. Paul has prepared the way by the confidence and joy about his readers expressed in 2 Corinthians 7, and especially in 2 Corinthians 7:16. He now enters it by recounting the great liberality of the Macedonians, from whose midst he writes to the Corinthians. This liberality he introduces as grace of God given, i.e. as a gift of the undeserved favor of God. Thus, while holding up human excellence as an example, he shuts out beforehand all human merit. With the same thought (2 Corinthians 9:14-15) he concludes DIV. II.

In the churches etc.: the locality in which the grace was given. Cp. 2 Corinthians 8:16. The kind of grace given, 2 Corinthians 8:2 states in plain words.

Much proof of affliction: affliction putting to the test, and thus manifesting, their faith. Cp. Romans 5:4. It directs attention to the spiritual significance of their affliction.

The abundance of their joy is. We should say “their joy abounds.” Their abundant joy is represented as a definite object of thought. [Similar construction in 2 Corinthians 8:11.] For an example of Macedonian joy amid affliction, see 1 Thessalonians 1:6.

And their deep poverty etc.: a second excellence.

Abounded for: Romans 3:7 : produced abundant results in the direction of spiritual riches.

Their sincerity: the purity of motive of their Christian life; the opposite of guile.

Riches of sincerity: more than abundance. For sincerity is true wealth. The liberality of the Macedonians was of value to Paul chiefly as proof of the sincerity of their profession of Christianity. Their deep poverty increased the force of this proof, and thus itself produced abundant results in the direction of spiritual wealth.

2 Corinthians 8:3-5. A statement of fact, in proof of 2 Corinthians 8:2.

I bear witness: writing from the midst of this liberality.

Of their own accord: probably, while Paul told them (2 Corinthians 9:2) of the readiness of the Corinthians, and without any suggestion from him.

With much exhortation etc.: they pleaded hard to be allowed as a favor to join with the other churches in this service for the brethren in Judaea. This suggests that Paul hesitated, because of their poverty, to accept their cooperation.

Exhortation: see under Romans 12:1.

Favour or grace: as in 2 Corinthians 8:19; see under Romans 1:5. It is in apposition to partnership. They begged for the favour, viz. the partnership etc.

Ministry: often used for supply of bodily needs. See under Romans 12:7. That the collection was for the saints, (cp. 1 Corinthians 16:1,) i.e. for men standing in special relation to God, gave it special significance.

And not as we hoped but themselves: last point which Paul specifies. They gave, beyond their power of their own accord, earnestly begging to be allowed to give, and beyond Paul’s expectation they gave themselves.

Disregarding their own need, and moved by loyalty to Christ, they gave. So that their gift was not money but themselves, not to men but to Christ. And this was the primary element of their gift: first to the Lord. And to us] Their self-surrender to Christ was also a surrender to those whom Christ had set in authority in His Church. For the liberality of the Macedonians was loyalty to Paul as well as to Christ.

By the will of God: as in 2 Corinthians 1:1. The Macedonians recognized by their gift Paul’s divinely given authority: they thus did the will of God.

The instructive parallel of Philippians 4:10-18 suggests that in the liberality of the churches of Macedonia the Philippians (Acts 16:12) took a prominent part. They who were the first to contribute to the support of their beloved teacher while preaching to others were also abundant in their liberality to unknown and far off brethren. And since we read here not of Philippian but of Macedonian liberality, we may suppose that their example had moved to liberality other Macedonian churches.

2 Corinthians 8:6. Paul’s request to Titus (cp. 2 Corinthians 8:17) is represented as not only a result of the liberality of the Macedonians, but as a designed result; i.e. designed by God. This implies that the request was itself an accomplishment of a purpose of God by means of “the grace given” to the Macedonians. God intended Paul to send Titus to Corinth, and used the liberality of the Macedonians to bring this about. Thus Paul viewed his own action as an outworking of a divine purpose.

He had begun before: on a former visit to Corinth; doubtless that referred to in 2 Corinthians 12:18, undertaken at Paul’s request, probably with express reference to this collection, some time before Paul wrote the First Epistle. See under 2 Corinthians 9:5.

Your grace, or favour: as in 2 Corinthians 8:19, the unmerited kindness of the contribution for the poor at Jerusalem. Moved by the liberality of the Macedonians Paul begged Titus to go to Corinth and complete the work he had already begun there. And in making this request he felt that his meeting with Titus amid churches manifesting such wonderful liberality was by divine arrangement to encourage them to press forward the contribution at Corinth. Thus Paul introduces, as an accomplishment of a divine purpose, the specific matter of DIV. II.

2 Corinthians 8:7-8. Just as etc.; appeals to them on the ground of their excellence already shown.

In everything you abound: 1 Corinthians 1:5.

Faith, utterance, etc.: having these, they are in everything spiritually rich.

Utterance and knowledge: 1 Corinthians 1:5.

All earnestness: an example in 2 Corinthians 7:11.

Love to us: manifested in the “longing” of 2 Corinthians 7:11.

Also in this grace: this act of undeserved kindness.

That… you may abound: Paul’s purpose in requesting Titus to complete the collection at Corinth. Practically, it is an exhortation: for it is not given by way of command.

Putting to the proof: as in 2 Corinthians 2:9.

Your love: to fellow-Christians and to mankind, as in 1 Corinthians 13. It is the essence of Christian character. Therefore, to put to the proof the genuineness of their love, is to test the worth of their Christian profession. And there is no surer way of doing this than to ask money for Christian purposes. For men generally trust in, and cling to material good.

2 Corinthians 8:9. A reason why Paul has no need to “command,” but only to put to the test his readers’ Christian love. To those who know the grace of Christ towards themselves, command to be kind to others is needless.

The grace of etc.: the free undeserved favor which moved Christ to become man to save men. So Romans 5:15 : 1 Corinthians 16:23; 2 Corinthians 13:13.

That because of us etc.; recounts the grace of Christ.

He became poor; involves, as do 2 Corinthians 13:4 and Philippians 2:7, the mystery of the incarnation. It means infinitely more than abstinence from material good while on earth. For riches denotes, not actual enjoyment of the things possessed, but control over things needful or pleasant to us. This is the real worth of money. Poverty is the absence of control over things needful or pleasant. Now, from eternity the Son of God had absolute control over all things; and was therefore infinitely rich. Want was unknown to Him. But at His incarnation He laid aside this absolute control, and submitted, in a way to us inconceivable because divine, to creaturely and human limitations, that thus by personal experience He might become conscious of human dependence and need.

All this is implied in Mark 13:32, (Luke 22:43, genuineness very doubtful,) Hebrews 5:7. This self-impoverishment of Christ I venture to illustrate by supposing a rich man to leave the luxuries of home and go to the Arctic Regions to rescue a friend. For by doing so he not only abstains from his accustomed comforts but puts himself for a time beyond reach of them. And only by some similar conception, excluding however all idea of peril and thinking only of hardship, can we attach any meaning to the words He became poor; and to Philippians 2:7, “He emptied Himself.” But He did not (for He could not: 2 Timothy 2:13) lay aside even for a moment His divine Nature, of which the essence is Love. Never before did the divine Love of the Son of God shine forth so wonderfully as when to save men He became Man.

Because of you: more forceful than “because of us.” Cp. Galatians 2:20. Paul sets the Corinthians alone, and says that Christ died for them.

May become rich: all our needs and desires supplied in the wealth of our Father’s house, and already in sure anticipation of it. The self-impoverishment of Christ is a motive for Christian liberality. For, by giving money we limit our own control over things needful and pleasant to us, in order to supply the needs of others. And this we cannot refuse to do, in the lower sphere of material good, in view of the infinite self-sacrifice of Christ for our eternal enrichment. Thus, after setting before his readers the example of the Macedonians, Paul strengthens his appeal by pointing to the infinitely greater example of Christ.

2 Corinthians 8:10-11, Continues 2 Corinthians 8:8, after supporting it in 2 Corinthians 8:9 by the example of Christ. Far from commanding, Paul merely gives in 2 Corinthians 8:7-11 an opinion (1 Corinthians 7:25; 1 Corinthians 7:40) about what is best for his readers.

For this: viz that he gives an opinion, not a command.

For you: emphatic, a courteous recognition of the readiness of the Corinthians. For others less ready a command might be needful.

Who not only etc.: proof of the foregoing words.

Began first: literally began before, as in 2 Corinthians 8:6; i.e. before the Macedonian Christians.

Last year: cp. 2 Corinthians 9:2 : not necessarily a full year ago. When, about Easter, Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 16:1, the collection was already well known at Corinth. And, since about Titus who began (2 Corinthians 8:6) the collection there no mention is made in the First Epistle, probably he went to Corinth some time before it was written. The Corinthians took up the matter at once. Consequently, the collection may have been begun, and in some sense the Corinthians “ready,” (2 Corinthians 9:2,) the autumn before these letters were written. And this would be naturally spoken of as last year. During the previous year the Corinthians had not only begun it before the Macedonians, but were before them in wishing to contribute. They were earlier, not only in beginning to give, but also in wishing to give. For such ready contributors an opinion was certainly better than a “command.”

And now also the doing: in addition to what last year they did and wished to do.

Complete: (same word as accomplish in 2 Corinthians 7:1 :) in contrast to begin. Same contrast in Philippians 1:6. A year ago they were first to begin not only to do something but to wish to do. The wish continues: but the doing is not yet completed. Paul bids them complete what they then began, and accomplish what they then wished.

That according as… so also: that with the purpose, which was so ready, (see under 2 Corinthians 8:19,) performance may correspond. It suggests the uselessness of a purpose not followed by corresponding action.

According as you possess: developed and supported in 2 Corinthians 8:12. Only so far as they were able could their performing correspond with their wish. Paul thus reminds his readers that in asking for the accomplishment of their purpose of liberality he takes into account their limited resources.

2 Corinthians 8:12. Justifies the foregoing words, by stating the general principle that the limits of our ability to give do not limit the reward of our liberality, and yet are the measure of our reward. For, according to our ability, the readiness (or eagerness: see 2 Corinthians 8:19) itself is acceptable. But, if genuine, it will, according to whatever the giver may have, develop into action. The contrasted negation, not according to what he has not, restates emphatically the standard of acceptability. This verse, introduced to explain 2 Corinthians 8:11, shows that Paul was thinking not about the gift itself but about its acceptability to God.

2 Corinthians 8:13-14. That Paul was seeking something acceptable to God, not a large sum of money, he now proves by stating his real purpose in making the collection, viz. not to enrich others by impoverishing the Corinthians, but to bring them material gain.

Relief: removal of affliction; cp. 2 Thessalonians 1:7.

To you pressure: literally affliction: privation of the necessaries of life, through liberality towards the Christians of Judaea.

By way of equality: taking equality as his standard and aim.

Their abundance… your deficiency: in the same sense as 2 Corinthians 8:13, viz. material good. For, the spiritual blessings from the Jews to the Gentiles (Romans 15:27) had been already received: but Paul refers to something still future. Although now the Corinthians are richer than the Judaean Christians, matters may some day be reversed. And in view of the uncertainties of the future Paul now presses this collection, in order that in days to come those who now give may themselves receive material help; and that thus in the family of God there may be an equality unknown outside it. Therefore, so far from seeking to enrich others at his readers’ cost, Paul is really seeking, in view of the uncertainties of life, ultimately to enrich them. In Romans 15:27 he gives a nobler justification than this, and in 2 Corinthians 9:12 ff a nobler result, of the collection. But these do not cause him to overlook its material benefits. By establishing the principle of mutual monetary help, he was doing something to shelter the people of God in the dark days awaiting the Church and the world.

2 Corinthians 8:15. As a pattern of what he desires to see in the Christian Church, Paul quotes Exodus 16:18, almost word for word from the LXX., viz. the narrative of Israel in the wilderness, supplied by the gift of God so that none had too much and none too little.

Had not more, had not less; than he needed. For they gathered according to the size of their families. So far as the Christian life permeates church-members and churches will there be reproduced this ancient and beautiful ideal of a company in which each has sufficient, an ideal never realized in material good so completely as in Israel in the wilderness. For all men are but gatherers of food freely given by God.

The important matter of the collection for the Christian poor in Judaea, Paul introduces by the noble example of the Macedonians, whose liberality he speaks of as a gift of the undeserved favor of God working out for them spiritual wealth. This liberality moved him, by the design of God, to send Titus to Corinth, that the Corinthians, so rich in spiritual gifts, may be rich in spiritual liberality. To them he forbears to give commands: for the example of the Macedonians is enough, and his readers know the greater example of Christ. Indeed they were themselves the first not only to begin, but also to wish to join in, this contribution. Paul asks therefore that with their readiness to purpose performance may correspond. He asks only for gifts in proportion to ability: for this will be the measure of the reward. For his purpose is, not to enrich others by impoverishing them, but ultimately to bring them material help. He wishes to bring about in the people of God the equality of those who in the wilderness were fed by the providence of God sufficiently, but not in excess.


Verse 16

SECTION 12. — PAUL HAS SENT TITUS AND OTHERS, THAT THE COLLECTION MAY BE READY WHEN HE ARRIVES. CHS. 8:16-9:5.

But thanks to God who gives the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus: because, the exhortation, on the one hand, he accepted; but, being more earnest, of his own accord he came forth to you. Moreover, we have sent together with him the brother whose praise in the Gospel is throughout all the churches: and not only so but also elected by the churches as our fellow-traveller with this grace which is being ministered by you, in view of the glory of the Lord and our earnest wish: guarding this, lest any one blame us in this fulness which is being ministered by us. For we “take forethought for honourable things,” not only “before the Lord” but also before “men.” (Proverbs 3:4.) And we have sent with them our brother whom we have proved in many things often to be earnest, and now much more earnest through much confidence, his confidence in reference to you. Whether on behalf of Titus we speak, he is a partner of mine, and a fellow-labourer for you: or it be our brothers, they are apostles of churches, a glory of Christ. The proof then of your love and of our boasting on your behalf, while you show towards them, you do so in the presence of the churches.

For, on the one hand, about the ministry for the saints it is superfluous to me to write to you. For I know your readiness, of which on your behalf I boast to Macedonians, that Achaia has been prepared from last year. And your zeal has stirred up the more part of them. But I have sent the brothers lest our ground of boasting on your behalf be made vain in this matter; that, as I said, you may be prepared, lest in any way if Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared we be put to shame, that I may not say you, in this confidence. Necessary then I deemed it to exhort the brothers, that they may come beforehand to you and may prepare beforehand your before-promised blessing, that this may be ready, in this way, as blessing and not as greediness.

After giving, in 2 Corinthians 8:7-15, as it were covertly, three strong motives for the contribution, Paul takes up again his request (2 Corinthians 8:6) that Titus should come to Corinth. He speaks of the mission of Titus (2 Corinthians 8:16-17) and another (2 Corinthians 8:18-21) and (2 Corinthians 8:22) a third; and (2 Corinthians 8:23-24) commends them to his readers. The contribution itself he needs to touch (2 Corinthians 9:1-2) only for a moment; and then gives (2 Corinthians 8:3-5) his purpose in sending the brethren, viz. that when he himself comes he may not be put to shame by the contribution not being ready.

2 Corinthians 8:16-17. Paul’s thought about Titus, who had brought from Corinth news so good and who acceded so readily to Paul’s request to go there on this errand, elicits a shout of joy; as usual, in the form of praise to God. So 2 Corinthians 9:15; 2 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Romans 6:17. For the readiness of Titus, like all good in man, is the work and gift of God.

The same earnestness: as in Paul.

Gives: it flows forth each moment from God, in the heart of Titus: as in 2 Corinthians 8:1 : the spiritual locality in which God works and gives this earnestness. 2 Corinthians 8:17 states, in contrast, two facts which together explain the same earnestness.

More earnest; than the foregoing words, had they stood alone, would imply. On the one hand, when Paul asked Titus to go to Corinth he did so, and went there sent by Paul: but so eager was he to complete the work he had begun that his journey was really an outflow of his own earnest wish.

He went forth: as bearer of this letter. Cp. 2 Corinthians 8:18; 2 Corinthians 8:22; 2 Corinthians 9:3; Acts 15:22 f, Acts 15:27. For, the explanation of his mission given in 2 Corinthians 9:5 would be needed as soon as he arrived in Corinth: and this verse implies that the letter did not precede him.

2 Corinthians 8:18-21. We: probably Paul and Timothy; cp. 2 Corinthians 1:1. So ready was Paul to join others with himself in all acts of authority.

Together with; lays emphasis on the companionship in this mission.

In the Gospel: Romans 1:9 : in proclaiming and furthering it. For this he was well spoken of in all the churches. Such men must have been then, as now, a link binding together the various churches. He was not only praised in all the churches but also elected to accompany Paul in taking the contribution to Judaea. Cp. 1 Corinthians 16:3 f.

By the churches: probably of Macedonia only. Cp. Romans 15:26. It is difficult to say whether our fellow-traveller, by us, include Timothy, or refer only to Paul as in 1 Thessalonians 3:1-6. For we do not know whether Timothy went, or when this letter was written intended to go, to Jerusalem. But, that we have no proof that elsewhere in this Epistle Paul uses the words we, our of himself alone, and Timothy’s presence with him (Acts 20:4) when starting from Corinth for Jerusalem, suggest that these words refer to Paul and Timothy.

Elected: same word in Acts 14:23. In both passages apostolic authority (we sent) is combined with popular election.

This grace: as in 2 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 8:6-7.

Ministered: as in 2 Corinthians 3:3; see under Romans 12:7. By suggesting, carrying out, and taking to Jerusalem, the contribution, Paul performed a free and honorable service for the brethren there.

With a view to etc.: two considerations before the Macedonian Christians when electing this brother as Paul’s companion; viz. the Lord’s glory, i.e. the exaltation of Christ in the eyes of men through performance of the work for which he was elected, and Paul’s earnest wish that some one should be chosen to go with him. The former consideration reveals the spiritual aim of the election, and that the honor of Christ was involved in it: the latter shows that the election was compliance with a wish of the apostle.

Earnest-wish: same as readiness or eagerness in 2 Corinthians 8:11-12; 2 Corinthians 9:2; Romans 1:15; Acts 17:11. It is the disposition which prompts men to act.

Guarding this etc.; grammatically connected we have sent, explains our earnest wish, which needs explanation. In wishing for a colleague Paul, and perhaps Timothy, were guarding against blame which otherwise might attach to themselves. Cp. 2 Corinthians 6:3.

Fulness: rich liberality. It is an acknowledgment of the greatness of the contribution.

For we (Paul and his colleagues) take forethought etc.: reason for guarding against blame. It is a general principle, quoted almost word for word from Proverbs 3:4, LXX. Cp. Romans 12:17. They sought the approval, not only of Christ who reads the heart and who knew their honesty, but of men, who judge by appearances. They therefore suggested that a colleague be elected for them in this financial business. Thus the election was for the glory of Christ, and in compliance with an earnest wish of the apostle.

Notice Paul’s careful forethought. Although his own honesty was probably above suspicion, he foresaw a time when similar matters must be entrusted to men less known than himself, and felt the great importance of guarding, in church finance, against even a breath of suspicion. He therefore urged the Macedonian Christians to establish the precedent of committing such matters to at least two persons; a precedent well worthy of imitation now.

Who the elected brother was, we have no means of knowing. All guesses are worthless. His formal election by the Macedonians, which would be announced to the Corinthians, made mention of his name unnecessary.

2 Corinthians 8:22. A second companion of Titus; and like the former, quite unknown to us. He had proved himself to be an earnest man, not in some one matter but in many, and often: and at the present time he was much more earnest than usual, moved to earnestness by his confidence about the Corinthians. Therefore, both his general character and his special interest in them commend him to the readers. And of all this Paul has had proof. This testimony suggests that his brother was less known than the former one. And, that only the first brother is said to have been “elected” by the churches, and that the purpose of the election (2 Corinthians 8:20) is stated before mention of the second brother, suggests that he was not thus elected. If so, the word “apostles” in 2 Corinthians 8:23 denotes only that his association with the chosen delegate was approved by the churches.

2 Corinthians 8:23. A commendation of the three messengers.

Partner: in toil and peril. Same word in 2 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 10:18; 1 Corinthians 10:20; Philemon 1:17; Hebrews 10:33; 1 Peter 5:1; 2 Peter 1:4; Matthew 23:30; Luke 5:10.

Fellow-worker: 2 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 3:9; Romans 16:3; Romans 16:9; Romans 16:21. That Titus was a companion of their beloved apostle and a worker with him for their good, was his high commendation. The other two have three commendations. They are brothers in Christ, apostles approved and sent by Christian churches, men whose mission and work reveal the glory of Christ.

Apostle: in its simplest sense of “one sent on some special business.” See under Romans 1:1.

Glory of Christ; recalls 2 Corinthians 8:19, “for the Lord’s glory.” Cp. 1 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:20. As men sent “with a view to the Lord’s glory,” i.e. to guard and magnify His honor, they were themselves in their mission and work an embodiment of His glory. Notice the gradation. To Paul and his readers they are brothers: to whole churches they are specially related as their apostles; and to Christ as men bringing Him glory.

2 Corinthians 8:24. A motive, drawn from 2 Corinthians 8:23, for receiving the messengers worthily. “Owing to their just stated relationships, what you do to them, you do in the presence of the churches who sent them.”

Your love: to Christians generally. So 2 Corinthians 8:8, “proving the genuineness of your love.” It includes kindness to the messengers and liberality towards the poor saints at Jerusalem.

Our exultation: explained further in 2 Corinthians 9:2-4, for which these words prepare the way. On the various reading see “Notes and Replies” on page XIII.

2 Corinthians 8:1-2. After commending the three messengers, Paul gives in 2 Corinthians 9:3-5 the purpose for which he has sent them. But this he prefaces by saying in 2 Corinthians 9:1-2 that he has no reason to write to them about the collection itself.

For about etc.: reason why, instead of speaking about the collection, Paul merely bids his readers receive the messengers worthily.

On the one hand; implies that Paul mentions the ministry for the saints (2 Corinthians 8:4) only by way of contrast to a detail about it, viz. the mission (2 Corinthians 9:3) of the three brethren.

Superfluous etc.; (cp. 1 Thessalonians 4:9;) reveals the apostle’s usual courtesy and tact.

For I know, etc.: reason why it is superfluous to write.

Eagerness, or readiness: 2 Corinthians 8:19.

On your behalf: in your favor.

I exult: even now he continues to boast about them.

To Macedonians: to some, not necessarily all of them.

That Achaia etc.: the matter of Paul’s boasting. It implies that not only at Corinth but throughout the province the collection was eagerly agreed to from the first.

Has been ready: i.e. they had according to Paul’s advice, (1 Corinthians 16:1,) the money ready at home. For it is evident that the general gathering had not yet been made: whereas, that Paul continues to boast, proves that his boasting was not a mistake.

From last year: as in 2 Corinthians 8:10.

Stirred up: same word in a bad sense in Colossians 3:21.

The more part: the majority, as in 2 Corinthians 2:6.

Paul’s continued boasting about the Corinthians implies that, in the previous year when the matter of the collection was first brought before them, they took it up eagerly, and were prepared to contribute at once and actually began (2 Corinthians 8:10) to contribute. Even the liberality of the Macedonians, for which Paul is so thankful to God, was in great part a result of the example thus nobly set by the Corinthians. All this proves that it is needless for him to write to them about the collection. But it does not prevent him from telling them of the liberality of the Macedonians, that the example of those whom their own liberal purpose had aroused might prompt them to complete at once the work they had been the first to begin. Thus example acts and re-acts.

Since the Corinthians were a year ago ready for the collection, and since three months ago Paul received at Ephesus a deputation of Corinthians who would naturally tell him all that the church had done, we infer that the boasting in 2 Corinthians 9:2 was prompted, not by news received in Macedonia from Titus which seems to have been rather unfavorable though not such as to put an end to Paul’s boasting, but by earlier news.

2 Corinthians 8:3-5. About the collection Paul has no need to write; but he has need to explain why he sent the before mentioned brethren.

Our ground-of-exultation be-made-vain: 1 Corinthians 9:15 : lest the excellence of which we boast in your favor be found out to be an empty thing.

In this matter; implies that Paul’s exultation about them embraced other points. He feared lest in this detail his boast might prove to be misplaced.

That as I said etc.: parallel to, and explaining, the foregoing purpose.

As I said, you may be etc.: opposite to ground of boasting be made vain.

Prepared; takes up the same word in 2 Corinthians 9:2. 2 Corinthians 9:4 is a further negative purpose.

We, you: emphatic. Paul speaks of his own shame, that he may avoid speaking of the greater shame which, if found unprepared, would fall upon them.

Exhort: see 2 Corinthians 8:6.

Come-beforehand… prepare-beforehand: before Paul came.

Before-promised: by Paul. For Paul’s boasting about them was virtually a promise of what they would do. It takes up as I said in 2 Corinthians 9:3.

Beforehand… beforehand… before: emphatic alliteration.

Blessing: a benefit, as in Genesis 33:11; Judges 1:15. But usually it denotes a benefit conveyed by a good word. See under Romans 1:25.

In this way etc.; dwells upon the word blessing, which was chosen to suggest this explanation. Paul begs them to contribute not as though it were an act of greedy self-enrichment, (in which case they would do as little as possible to attain their end,) but as an outflow of benevolence, and therefore measured by the greatness of their love. The word blessing is specially appropriate, as recalling God’s benefits in contrast to man’s selfishness.

Greediness, or covetousness: literally, “having more.” Same word in Ephesians 4:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:5; Luke 12:15. This exhortation we shall do well to remember in all our gifts.

Of TITUS nothing is said in the Book of Acts. This, though remarkable, accords with the scantiness of its reference (Acts 20:2) to the period when this Epistle was written. Nor is he mentioned, apart from this Epistle, except in Galatians 2:1; Galatians 2:3; 2 Timothy 4:10; Titus 1:4. Yet he was evidently a noble and valued helper of the apostle.

Titus was (Galatians 2:3) a Greek: i.e. not necessarily born in Greece, but of Gentile parents. See under Romans 1:16; and contrast Acts 16:3, referring to almost the same time as Galatians 2:3. His birth-place is quite unknown. He seems (Titus 1:4) to have been converted by Paul.

We first meet Titus going with Paul to Jerusalem as narrated in Galatians 2:1, (same journey apparently as Acts 15:2,) probably as representative of the Gentile Christians.

From 2 Corinthians 7:14 f we infer that Titus was not a member of the church at Corinth. But Paul (2 Corinthians 12:17) sent him there, from Ephesus probably, to promote the collection for the poorer Christians at Jerusalem. That Titus began (2 Corinthians 8:6) this collection at Corinth, and that Paul assumes in 1 Corinthians 16:1 f that his readers already know about it, implies that this first mission of Titus was not later than the First extant Epistle to the Corinthians, and suggests strongly that it was some time earlier. This is confirmed by the absence of any reference to Titus, Paul’s valued colleague, in the First Epistle, and by the fact that, at the instance (2 Corinthians 8:6) of Titus, the Corinthians were ready (2 Corinthians 9:2; 2 Corinthians 8:10) a year ago to contribute. This seems to prove that some months before the First Epistle was written, perhaps in the previous autumn, Paul sent (2 Corinthians 12:18) Titus and another to Corinth to begin the collection; and that he did so. Now, 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:6 ff, imply that personally or by message Paul requested Titus to meet him at Troas, expecting thus news from Corinth, especially about the effect of the First Epistle. That Titus was not at Ephesus or at Corinth when Paul wrote the First Epistle, is made almost certain by its silence about him. But this expectation implies that, although not at Corinth then, Titus was likely to be there either by Paul’s request or otherwise soon afterwards. He may have come to Ephesus, and have been at once sent back to Corinth, with directions to meet Paul at Troas: or, while residing elsewhere he may have been requested by Paul to visit Corinth. This would imply, as is by no means unlikely, that Paul sent Titus three times to Corinth. Either of these suppositions would account for all our scanty indications of the movements of Titus. The latter suggestion, as implying less travelling, is rather the more likely of the two. In many ways unknown to us messages may have been sent by Paul to Titus.

After his own hasty (Acts 20:1) departure from Ephesus, not finding Titus at Troas, Paul crossed over to Macedonia. Here, though not immediately, Titus met him with good news about the deep repentance and Christian earnestness of the Corinthians, and with information about the progress of the collection. Moved both by the liberality of the Macedonians and by the readiness of the Corinthians, Paul begged Titus (2 Corinthians 8:6) to return to Corinth and complete, before (2 Corinthians 9:5) the apostle’s own arrival, the collection he had begun. This, Titus gladly (2 Corinthians 8:17) agreed to do; and went from Macedonia to Corinth, accompanied by one brother chosen by the Macedonian churches to go with Paul to take the collection to Jerusalem, and by another sent with the approval of the churches by Paul himself. These messengers took with them (2 Corinthians 8:18; 2 Corinthians 9:3 f) the Second Epistle. The collection at Corinth was (Romans 15:26) duly made; doubtless in great part by the activity of Titus.

And now we lose sight of Titus for at least five years. In Titus 1:5 we find him again a trusted helper of the apostle, deputed to set in order the imperfectly organized churches in Crete. Paul is very wishful (Titus 3:12) to see him at Nicopolis during the winter. It would seem that later (2 Timothy 4:10) Titus was with Paul in his last imprisonment at Rome. And, with a touch of sadness, the lonely prisoner says that he has gone, doubtless for a sufficient reason, to Dalmatia.

The gushing joy (2 Corinthians 7:7) of Titus about the repentance of the Corinthians, his warm affection (2 Corinthians 7:15) for them, and his eagerness (2 Corinthians 8:16 f) to visit them again, betray an ardent temperament. He worked in perfect accord (2 Corinthians 12:18) with Paul. And, though little known to us, he doubtless had no small share in founding Gentile Christianity.

 


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Bibliography Information
Beet, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 8:4". Joseph Beet's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jbc/2-corinthians-8.html. 1877-90.


Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, September 19th, 2018
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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