8:1 Moreover, brothers, we make known to you the grace of God
which has been given in the assemblies of Macedonia;
8:2 how that in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy
and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality.
8:3 For according to their power, I testify, yes and beyond their
they gave of their own accord,
8:4 begging us with much entreaty to receive this grace
and the fellowship in the service to the saints.
8:5 This was not as we had hoped, but first they gave their own
to the Lord,
and to us through the will of God.
8:6 So we urged Titus, that as he made a beginning before,
so he would also complete in you this grace.
8:7 But as you abound in everything, in faith, utterance, knowledge,
all earnestness, and in your love to us, see that you also abound in
8:8 I speak not by way of commandment,
but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity
of your love.
Comparing our Generosity with Christ
8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he
yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty
Fulfilling Our Vows of Generosity
8:10 I give a judgment in this: for this is expedient for you,
who were the first to start a year ago, not only to do, but also to
8:11 But now complete the doing also, that as there was the
to be willing,
so there may be the completion also out of your ability.
8:12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to
not according to what you don't have.
Equality as a Motivation in Giving
8:13 For this is not that others may be eased and you distressed,
8:14 but for equality. Your abundance at this present time supplies
that their abundance also may become a supply for your lack; that
may be equality.
8:15 As it is written, "He who gathered much had nothing left
over, and he who gathered little had no lack." (Ex 16:18)
Cooperating in the
Administration of the Gift
The Enthusiastic Attitude of the Administrators
8:16 But thanks be to God, who puts the same earnest care for you
the heart of Titus.
8:17 For he indeed accepted our exhortation,
but being himself very earnest, he went out to you of his own
8:18 We have sent together with him the brother
whose praise in the gospel is known through all the assemblies.
8:19 Not only so, but who was also appointed by the assemblies to
with us in this grace,
which is served by us to the glory of the Lord himself, and to show
Avoiding Criticism in Generosity
8:20 We are avoiding this, that any man should blame us
concerning this abundance which is administered by us.
8:21 Having regard for honorable things,
not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.
8:22 We have sent with them our brother,
whom we have many times proved earnest in many things,
but now much more earnest, by reason of the great confidence which
he has in you.
8:23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for you.
As for our brothers, they are the apostles of the assemblies, the
8:24 Therefore show the proof of your love to them in front of the
and of our boasting on your behalf.
vs 1-8 In what ways is it appropriate to compare ourselves
church to other Christians and other Churches?
How might a healthy sense of competition edify the church?
How might it divide?
What particular characteristics of the Macedonian churches impressed
vs 9 How has Christ enriched you?
In what ways did he become poor?
How have we or might we make ourselves poor for the sake of others?
vs 10-12 What hinderances do you find you face between your
desire to give and your actual giving?
vs 13-15 What political-economic ideas might be inferred from
What attitudes does it promote?
vs 16-19 What dangers did the administrators of the gift face
in delivering the gift?
What words in this chapter most characterize givers like Titus? (You
might also consider the next chapter)
Have you ever thought of taking your own initiative in doing some
vs 20-24 What did Paul do to assure the Corinthians that
money would be handled properly?
2Cor 8:1,2 And now, brothers, we want you to
about the grace
that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial,
overflowing joy and their
extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
If God's grace to you were measure by your degree of generosity, how
would you do? Severe poverty makes one appreciate and value that
the affluent may take for granted and consequently makes one
to the practical needs of others. And such circumstances may also
invoke a sense of empathy for the afflicted.
Furthermore while the affluent have money to spare and consequently
their generosity may not entail much personal sacrifice, the
of the poor is reflected in the poor widow of Luke 21. As he looked up, Jesus saw the
putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor
put in two very small copper coins. "I tell you the truth," he
"this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these
gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty
all she had to live on."Luke
21:1-4 If your generosity were measured by the degree of
personal sacrifice you made, how would you do?
But what motivates such generosity? As Paul notes later in
chapter 9, it's not out of reluctance or compulsion that they gave,
rather out of joy, taking their own initiative. They needed no
fleece-the-flock type of sermon so common today to motivate them to
give. But what was their overflowing joy that led to their
inspite of the circumstances? It was the joy of knowing that they
saved, guaranteed an inheritance to come. Such joy cannot be shared
those who are trying to work to be saved. Overflowing joy led to
rich generosity. Enthusiastic
2Cor 8:3,4 For I testify that they gave as
as they were able, and
even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,they urgently pleaded with us for
privilege of sharing in
this service to the saints.
Giving should be proportional to one's ability. When the church at
Antioch heard of the poverty of the brethren in Judea, "the disciples, each according to
ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in
Judea."Acts 11:29 But the
churches in Macedonia went beyond this, though being poor themselves
they gave beyond their ability. That is, like the poor widow who
all she had to live on, they gave more than they were able to live
and trusted God to provide their necessities.
Many of the poor living in welfare states today which take other
people's generosity for granted, rather than thinking about
practicing generosity have a sense of entitlement, a sense of
envy of other people's stuff. But this should not be so of
though they be poor. "Watch
Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man‘s life does not
consist in the abundance of his possessions."Luke
12:15 "For this world
its present form is passing away."1Cor 7:31
But not only were the Macedonians overlooking their own poverty,
took initiative in sharing with others. Now much as most of what the
Bible says with regards to generosity is directed to the poor in
particular, "this service to the saints" probably referred to Paul's
ministry in particular. The primary Macedonian church Paul likely
in mind was Phillipi, "Moreover,
you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with
the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared
me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for
when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I
in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for
may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and
more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from
the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable
sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs
according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."Php 4:15-19
First to the Lord
2Cor 8:5 And they did not do as we expected,
they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping
One wonders what Paul expected. No doubt by this he means that
expectations for them were lower than how they ended up
which is interesting of itself. For when one comes to Christ one
hardly expect perfection. And having lower expectations one is
likely to be disappointed and likely to be encouraged when they
outperform that standard.
But what is that "giving
first to the Lord", how did he measure it and how might
this? It is a common phenomenon that when one decides to follow a
leader, they make perhaps too much of that leader over and above
one whom that leader may be representing, the Lord in this case.
this was the case for the Corinthian church as noted in
1Corinthians. "For when one
says, '`I follow Paul,'
and another, 'I follow Apollos,' are you not mere men? What,
is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you
believe— as the Lord has assigned to each his task."1Cor 3:4,5 But in contrast to
Corinth, the Macedonian churches recognize the proper order of
the Lord first and secondly ministers of the Lord.
Note that putting the Lord first unites the Christian community,
while putting his ministers first creates denomination divisions,
the former enhances generosity in overlooking geographic and
to Implement their Generosity
2Cor 8:6So we urged Titus, since he had
made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on
So he had sent Titus to them as he had been with them at the
of Paul's ministry in Corinth. Of course what this implies is that
need help in coming to completion. A Christian is not to isolate
themselves. For we are all one body and it is in the context of a
one must grow and minister. Titus was assigned to water them much as
Paul said, "I planted the
Apollos watered it, but God made it grow."1Cor 3:6 But what of Apollos?
appears he was not available. Note that Paul used the past tense
"Apollos watered". And at the end of 1Cor it says, "Now about our brother Apollos: I
strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite
unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity."1Cor 16:12 So it was likely
Apollos was simply not available and so Titus was sent. In fact
may have made himself unavailable at the time so as to not play on
tendency of the Corinthians to align themself between him and Paul,
rather it would be wiser to send a third party - Titus.
As to the particular act of grace he was referring notice from verse
he says, "we want you to know
about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches." and
to this was the subject of
concern with regards to the Corinthian church. In both cases he
as God grace imparting this attribute of generosity, if not invoking
it. Yet given that he's sending Titus this implies that God's grace
needs assistance, or more likely the use of his minister and
cooperation with them is part of what consitutes God grace or the
application and implementation of God's grace. For the word
"completion" here often refers to one's performance.
What applications has the grace of God invoked in you? For example
says that "the grace of God
brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say
ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled,
and godly lives in this present age" Titus 2:11,12 In this case Paul
concerning for their generosity.
2Cor 8:7But just as you excel in
faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in
love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
Though we may have strengths we must not overlook our weaknesses.
But given the diversity of their strengths, how could they have this
weakness of charity? However notice the flow of his first letter to
them. For Paul
speaks of the diversity of their giftedness in 1Corinthians, but he
speaks also of
their weakness which brought imbalance to the application of their
gifts and the overinflating of one over another. And so he wrote 1Corinthians 13, which is often
during marriage ceremonies, but which is really about the
fact that they were making much of speech and knowledge in their
of tongues and prophecy, but were deficient with respect to love.
Interesting also that the KJV translated "love" as "charity" in that
Indeed there is a correspondance between love and generosity. But
generosity must not be out of a legalistic motive. For he also
writes, "If I give all I
the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I
nothing."1Cor 13:3 Many
practice generosity are under the false impression that by doing so
they will save themselves. Such a person believes a false gospel of
salvation by works. But on the other hand, the lack of generosity
reveals a lack of love for others. And this is what Paul saw in the
Corinthians. Yes they were devoted to him, but such love had yet to
extend to the larger Christian community.
Apart from false motives, love is reflected by one's
generosity. John wrote, "God
loved the world that he gave ..."John 3:16 If your love was
by your generosity how would you do?
2Cor 8:8,9 I am not commanding you, but I
test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the
others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through
poverty might become rich.
Notice as I said previously, the sincerity of one's love is test by
one's practice of generosity. Much as the Corinthians were full of
words - tongues and prophecy - John writes, "let us not love with words or tongue
but with actions and in truth."1John
3:18 How fleeting to think that love can be expressed by
words. How vain! And how many have been deceived and become
disillusioned by the words, "I
you", spoken in vain. Rather love is reflected in the
sacrifices one makes on behalf of another.
How does God demonstrate his love for us? "God demonstrates his own love for us
in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Rom 5:8 Likewise in
love "your attitude should be
same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did
consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made
nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human
likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled
and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!"Php 2:5-7
2Cor 8:10-12And here is my advice about what is
best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only
give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so
your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion
it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the
is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he
While not yet exceeding in the grace of generosity, the Corinthians
were certainly active in it. The last chapter of 1Corinthians says, "Now about the collection for
people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first
every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in
with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections
have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of
introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift
Notice also both passages refer to giving in proportion to one's
But as for "willingness", remember the parable of the two sons where
the father told the one to go and work in the vineyard today, and he
said he would, but didn't. Beward of making pledges and not carrying
them out. "If you make a vow to
the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God
certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin." Deut 23:21 And mere good
may be of little value in meeting practical needs. People
will often express sympathy and make false promises not for the
of the needy but for their own benefit, so that they may imagine
2Cor 8:13-15 Our desire is not that others
relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be
At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so
turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be
equality, as it is written: "He
gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little
have too little."(Ex
Agur son of Jaketh prayed, "Two
I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep
falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor
give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and
you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal,
dishonor the name of my God." Prov
Though in any circumstance we should be content. Paul
writes, "I have learned to be
content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in
and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of
being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or
whether living in plenty or in want."Php 4:11b-12
Paul isn't preaching communism here in which money is stolen from
rich and given to the poor, which in the end as history has proven,
makes everyone equally poor, there being no incentive to work. In
contrast generosity presumes personal property rights, just as Peter
said to Ananias concerning his donation of a piece of his property, "Didn’t it belong to you before it
sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?" Acts 5:4a And if it is an
obligation, then it is not an act of generosity. Likewise those who
receive other people's generosity with an attitude of entitlement do
not receive it as generosity. The rich need to beware of greed and
poor need to beware of envy.
But if each out of generosity does the reasonable thing , equality
result, as in the early church where "All the believers were one in heart
and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
they shared everything they had." Acts 4:32 Such is often the case
families and so ideally in the family of God.
There are many practical issues to consider as well. What
too much? Isn't it generally true that when people have too much
simply increase their standard of living so that they no longer feel
they have too much? And conversely may it not be unhealthy to give
much to individuals and spoil them as one may spoil children in
them too much? I have seen it happen. Beware of overgiving to
particular individuals or organizations. For money is a root of all
kinds of evil. Beware of anyone having too much of it.
2Cor 8:16-19 I thank God, who put into the
Titus the same concern I have for you. For Titus not only welcomed our
appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his
initiative. And we are
sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the
for his service to the gospel. What is more, he was chosen by
the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we
administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our
It's interesting the Paul speaks of God taking initiative to put
concern in the heart of Titus and yet also speaks of Titus taking
own initiative. We've seen this before at the beginning of this
when Paul speaks of God giving the grace of generosity to the
Macedonian churches and yet speaks of them giving "entirely on their own". (2Cor 8:3)
The balance between God's sovereignty and human responsibility is
debatable, but I do not think Paul views it as a sort of puppet
as some theologians are inclined to think. Rather just as the sinful
nature causes temptations, but it is left to the individual whether
not to act upon such tempatations, so also God puts things on our
hearts and minds, but it is up to us to act. In this case Titus
in cooperation with what God had put on his heart, and that not
reluctantly but with much enthusiasm, as had the Macedonian churches
with their generosity. What has God put on your heart, and what
initiative may you enthusiastically take carrying out that desire? I
pray that "by his power he may
fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your
faith." 2Th 1:11c
We don't know who the brother is mentioned, but Jesus sent out his
disciples by twos. Best not to minister alone, but chose companions
wisely and among the faithful. This man had a good reputation, and
proven faithful in his service. Paul mentions of his own
placement into service saying,
thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he
considered me faithful, appointing me to his service."1Tim 1:12 And "it is required that those who
been given a trust must prove faithful" 1Cor 4:2 And having been proven
faithful they are given more responsibilities. Have you proven
with regards to the responsibilities you have taken on?
Reproach with Regards to Money
2Cor 8:20-22We want to avoid any criticism of
way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do
is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of
In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often
to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so
his great confidence in you.
We must be careful to avoid unnecessary criticism with regards to
money. Most ministers don't go to the extent Paul goes in this
For while being entitled to being paid for ministry, as "the Lord has commanded that those
preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel."1Cor 9:14 he choses to earn
living to "that in preaching
gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my
in preaching it." 1Cor
and to the Ephesian elders he writes, "I have not coveted anyone’s silver or
gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine
supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In
did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the
remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more
to give than to receive.’"
20:33-35 And to the Thessalonians, "nor did we eat anyone’s food without
paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring
toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you." 2Th 3:8
"Be careful to do what is right
the eyes of everybody."Rom
2Cor 8:23-24As for Titus, he is my partner and
fellow worker among you; as for our brothers, they are
of the churches and an honor to Christ. Therefore show these men
proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that
churches can see it.
Though Paul was an apostle chosen personally by Jesus Christ
yet he is not inflated by such a position. Rather he views himself
fellow worker along with the rest of those who minister.
But what are proofs of love that Paul alludes to? There are many
proofs, but in general a proven love is one which meets people's
In contrast many will declare their love. "Many a man claims to have unfailing
love, but a faithful man who can find?"Pr 20:6