Generosity of the Churches
1Beloved ones, we must tell you about the grace God poured out upon the churches of Macedonia. 2For even during a season of severe difficulty, tremendous suffering, and extreme poverty, their super-abundant joy overflowed into an act of extravagant generosity. 3For I can verify that they spontaneously gave, not only according to their means but far beyond what they could afford. 4They actually begged us for the privilege of sharing in this ministry of giving to God’s holy people who are living in poverty. 5They exceeded our expectations by first dedicating themselves fully to the Lord and then to us, according to God’s pleasure. # 8:5 Under persecution and desperately poor, the churches of Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea) gave more than just an extravagant offering. They fully surrendered themselves to the Lord and gave out of a longing to fulfill God’s pleasure. This is the key to generous giving. First we dedicate our hearts to God, which includes our finances, then we give to God’s work as he directs us. Throughout 2 Corinthians, giving is described as a “grace” that God places on our lives, which empowers our generosity. 6That is why we appealed to Titus, since he was the one who got you started and encouraged you to give, so he could help you complete this generous undertaking on your behalf. 7You do well and excel in every respect—in unstoppable faith, in powerful preaching, in revelation knowledge, in your passionate devotion, and in sharing the love we have shown to you. So make sure that you also excel in grace-filled generosity. # 8:7 Notice the features of godliness in this verse that should be seen in our lives and ministries: (1) We excel in everything. (2) We have unstoppable faith. (3) We have an anointing of grace to speak the Word. (4) We have revelation knowledge. (5) We have passionate devotion. (6) We show love. (7) We are generous.
8I’m not saying this as though I were issuing an order but to stir you to greater love by mentioning the enthusiasm of the Macedonians as a challenge to you. # 8:8 Or “to test your love by the eagerness of others.” 9For you have experienced the extravagant grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that although he was infinitely rich, he impoverished himself for our sake, so that by his poverty, we become rich beyond measure.
10So here are my thoughts concerning this matter, and it’s in your best interests. Since you made such a good start last year, both in the grace of giving and in your longing to give, 11you should finish what you started. # 8:11 Or “Get on with it and finish the job!” You were so eager in your intentions to give, so go do it. Finish this act of worship according to your ability to give. 12For if the intention and desire are there, the size of the gift doesn’t matter. Your gift is fully acceptable to God according to what you have, not what you don’t have. 13I’m not saying this in order to ease someone else’s load by overloading you, but as a matter of fair balance. 14Your surplus could meet their need, and their abundance may one day meet your need. This equal sharing of abundance will mean a fair balance. # 8:14 Apparently, the Corinthian church was not poor. They had intended, a year prior to receiving this letter, to make a generous offering to the believers in Jerusalem living in poverty. Paul encourages them to now follow through with their pledge. Note the principles of giving Paul teaches them in vv. 10–15: (1) A willing, cheerful offering is more important than the amount. (2) Financial commitments of giving are to be taken seriously. (3) We are to share our substance with those in need, because the time may come when we may need their gifts. (4) Our giving reflects our devotion to Christ. (5) We are to give what we are able and not stress about what we cannot give. We are to give in proportion to our income. 15As it is written:
The one who gathered much didn’t have too much,
and the one who gathered little didn’t have too little. # 8:15 See Ex. 16:18.
Titus Sent to Corinth
16We give thanks to God for putting the same devotion I have for you into the heart of Titus. 17Of course, he enthusiastically accepted our request to go to Corinth, but because he carries you in his heart, he’d already planned on coming. 18So we’re sending with him the brother # 8:18 This brother and the one mentioned in v. 22 were identified as apostles. Many have tried unsuccessfully to identify whom they might have been. Some of the names considered include Timothy, Luke, Barnabas, Apollos, Mark, Erastus, Silas, Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Tychicus, and Trophimus. Regardless of these apostles’ identities, we know that Titus was the leader of this delegation and that all three were apostles of the church. See Eph. 4:11. who is greatly honored and respected in all the churches for his work of evangelism. 19Not only that, he has been appointed by the churches to be our traveling companion as we carry and dispense this generous gift that glorifies the Lord and shows how eager we are to help. 20We are sending a team in order to avoid any criticism over how we handle this wonderfully generous gift, 21for we intend to do what is right and we are totally open both to the Lord’s inspection and to man’s. 22So we’re sending with them another brother who is faithful and proven to be a man of integrity. He is passionate to help you now more than ever, for he believes in you.
23Concerning the credentials of Titus, he’s my partner and coworker in ministry for you. As for the brothers coming with him, they are apostles of the churches, which are the glory of the Anointed One. # 8:23 Although ambiguous in the Greek text, the clause “which are the glory of the Anointed One” most likely refers to the churches. God’s church is his glorious bride on the earth, which brings him glory through all the ages. If referring to Titus and his delegation, this verse would mean that the apostles are the glory of the Anointed One. 24So demonstrate to them how much you love, and prove that our boasting of you is justified.