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Bible Commentaries

James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary
2 Corinthians 8



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Verses 1-15


The mother church at Jerusalem was passing through stormy days, and its common chest was replenished by all the daughter churches. Macedonia, in poverty, had contributed liberally, but the wealthy, flourishing Corinthians had been backward. Paul uses nearly one-sixth of his present letter to argue and plead for greater generosity on their part. He enjoins the duty of giving:

1. By the example of the churches in Macedonia (2 Corinthians 8:1-4). They were poor, yet lavish. The effect of divine grace on their hearts.

2. By the sense of congruity in the Christian life (2 Corinthians 8:7). They already abounded in other gifts such as faith, utterance and knowledge; liberality therefore was expected. Its absence would be a defect in the symmetry of their spiritual experience.

3. As a proof of their love and gratitude to Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 8:8-9), who, though rich, yet for their sakes had become poor.

4. In consideration of what they professed to be willing to do. Regard for their promises (2 Corinthians 8:10-11).

5. The offering would be appreciated not according to its size, but the 2 Corinthians 8:4-5 spirit in which it was given (2 Corinthians 8:12).

6. The care of the poor saints should not fall on a few but all should be equally burdened (2 Corinthians 8:13-15).

7. The apostle’s honor was at stake (2 Corinthians 8:24, also 2 Corinthians 9:3-4).

8. As they sowed they would reap (2 Corinthians 9:6).

9. God was able to reward them (2 Corinthians 9:8-11).

10. They would thus glorify God (2 Corinthians 9:13).

11. They would thus secure the prayers and love of the saints (2 Corinthians 9:14). There is further homiletic value in the following division of the chapters in the Scofield Bible: The example of Macedonia (2 Corinthians 8:1-6); the exhortation, (2 Corinthians 8:7-15); the messengers, (2 Corinthians 8:9-16); the encouragement (2 Corinthians 8:6-15).

From the same source we get a summing up of the Christian doctrine of giving, as follows:

1. It is a “grace,” i.e., a disposition created by the Spirit (2 Corinthians 8:7).

2. In contrast with the law, which imposed giving as a requirement, it is voluntary, a test of sincerity and love (2 Corinthians 8:8-12; 2 Corinthians 9:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:5; 2 Corinthians 9:7).

3. The privilege is universal, belonging, according to ability, to rich and poor (2 Corinthians 8:1-3; 2 Corinthians 8:12-15. Compare 1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

4. It is to be proportioned to income (2 Corinthians 8:12-14; compare with. 1 Corinthians 16:2). The Old Testament proportion was the tithe, a proportion which antedates the law (Genesis 14:20).

5. Its rewards are (a) joy (2 Corinthians 8:2); (b) increased ability to give in proportion to that which has been already given (2 Corinthians 9:7-11); (c) increased thankfulness to God (2 Corinthians 9:12); and (d) God and the gospel glorified (2 Corinthians 9:13-14).


1. Have you carefully examined the eleven arguments for Christian giving?

2. Divide the eleven arguments among the four homiletic divisions of the chapter.

3. Summarize the doctrine of Christian giving.


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 8:4". The James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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