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2 Corinthians Chapter Eight


2 Corinthians 8

Chapter Contents

The apostle reminds them of charitable contributions for the poor saints. (1-6) Enforces this by their gifts, and by the love and grace of Christ. (7-9) By the willingness they had shown to this good work. (10-15) He recommends Titus to them. (16-24)

Commentary on 2 Corinthians 8:1-6

(Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-6)

The grace of God must be owned as the root and fountain of all the good in us, or done by us, at any time. It is great grace and favour from God, if we are made useful to others, and forward to any good work. He commends the charity of the Macedonians. So far from needing that Paul should urge them, they prayed him to receive the gift. Whatever we use or lay out for God, it is only giving him what is his own. All we give for charitable uses, will not be accepted of God, nor turn to our advantage, unless we first give ourselves to the Lord. By ascribing all really good works to the grace of God, we not only give the glory to him whose due it is, but also show men where their strength is. Abundant spiritual joy enlarges men's hearts in the work and labour of love. How different this from the conduct of those who will not join in any good work, unless urged into it!

Commentary on 2 Corinthians 8:7-9

(Read 2 Corinthians 8:7-9)

Faith is the root; and as without faith it is not possible to please God, Hebrews 11:6, so those who abound in faith, will abound in other graces and good works also; and this will work and show itself by love. Great talkers are not always the best doers; but these Corinthians were diligent to do, as well as to know and talk well. To all these good things the apostle desires them to add this grace also, to abound in charity to the poor. The best arguments for Christian duties, are drawn from the grace and love of Christ. Though he was rich, as being God, equal in power and glory with the Father, yet he not only became man for us, but became poor also. At length he emptied himself, as it were, to ransom their souls by his sacrifice on the cross. From what riches, blessed Lord, to what poverty didst thou descend for our sakes! and to what riches hast thou advanced us through thy poverty! It is our happiness to be wholly at thy disposal.

Commentary on 2 Corinthians 8:10-15

(Read 2 Corinthians 8:10-15)

Good purposes are like buds and blossoms, pleasant to behold, and give hopes of good fruit; but they are lost, and signify nothing without good deeds. Good beginnings are well; but we lose the benefit, unless there is perseverance. When men purpose that which is good, and endeavour, according to their ability, to perform also, God will not reject them for what it is not in their power to do. But this scripture will not justify those who think good meanings are enough, or that good purposes, and the mere profession of a willing mind, are enough to save. Providence gives to some more of the good things of this world, and to some less, that those who have abundance might supply others who are in want. It is the will of God, that by our mutual supplying one another, there should be some sort of equality; not such a levelling as would destroy property, for in such a case there could be no exercise of charity. All should think themselves concerned to relieve those in want. This is shown from the gathering and giving out the manna in the wilderness, Exodus 16:18. Those who have most of this world, have no more than food and raiment; and those who have but little of this world, seldom are quite without them.

Commentary on 2 Corinthians 8:16-24

(Read 2 Corinthians 8:16-24)

The apostle commends the brethren sent to collect their charity, that it might be known who they were, and how safely they might be trusted. It is the duty of all Christians to act prudently; to hinder, as far as we can, all unjust suspicions. It is needful, in the first place, to act uprightly in the sight of God, but things honest in the sight of men should also be attended to. A clear character, as well as a pure conscience, is requisite for usefulness. They brought glory to Christ as instruments, and had obtained honour from Christ to be counted faithful, and employed in his service. The good opinion others have of us, should be an argument with us to do well.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on 2 Corinthians


2 Corinthians 8

Verse 1

[1] Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

We declare to you the grace of God — Which evidently appeared by this happy effect.

Verse 2

[2] How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

In a great trial of affliction — Being continually persecuted, harassed, and plundered.

Verse 4

[4] Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

Praying us with much entreaty — Probably St. Paul had lovingly admonished them not to do beyond their power.

Verse 5

[5] And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

And not as we hoped — That is, beyond all we could hope.

They gave themselves to us, by the will of God — In obedience to his will, to be wholly directed by us.

Verse 6

[6] Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.

As he had begun — When he was with you before.

Verse 9

[9] For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

For ye know — And this knowledge is the true source of love.

The grace — The most sincere, most free, and most abundant love.

He became poor — In becoming man, in all his life; in his death.

Rich — In the favour and image of God.

Verse 12

[12] For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.

A man — Every believer.

Is accepted — With God.

According to what he hath — And the same rule holds universally. Whoever acknowledges himself to be a vile, guilty sinner, and, in consequence of this acknowledgment, flies for refuge to the wounds of a crucified Saviour, and relies on his merits alone for salvation, may in every circumstance of life apply this indulgent declaration to himself.

Verse 14

[14] But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:

That their abundance — If need should so require.

May be — At another time.

A supply to your want: that there may be an equality — No want on one side, no superfluity on the other. It may likewise have a further meaning:-that as the temporal bounty of the Corinthians did now supply the temporal wants of their poor brethren in Judea, so the prayers of these might be a means of bringing down many spiritual blessings on their benefactors: so that all the spiritual wants of the one might be amply supplied; all the temporal of the other.

Verse 15

[15] As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.

As it is written, He that had gathered the most had nothing over; and he that had gathered the least did not lack — That is, in which that scripture is in another sense fulfilled. Exodus 16:18

Verse 17

[17] For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.

Being more forward — Than to need it, though he received it well.

Verse 18

[18] And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;

We — I and Timothy.

The brother — The ancients generally supposed this was St. Luke.

Whose praise — For faithfully dispensing the gospel, is through all the churches.

Verse 19

[19] And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:

He was appointed by the churches — Of Macedonia.

With this gift — Which they were carrying from Macedonia to Jerusalem.

For the declaration of our ready mind — That of Paul and his fellow-traveller, ready to be the servants of all.

Verse 22

[22] And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.

With them — With Titus and Luke.

Our brother — Perhaps Apollos.

Verse 23

[23] Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.

My partner — In my cares and labours.

The glory of Christ — Signal instruments of advancing his glory.

Verse 24

[24] Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.

Before the churches — Present by their messengers.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on 2 Corinthians


Chapter 8. In Rich Generosity

He Who Gathered Much Did Not Have Too Much
He Who Gathered Little Did Not Have Too Little

I. Testimony of the Macedonians

  1. Extreme Poverty
  2. Beyond Their Ability
  3. Urgently Plead

II. Follow the Example of Christ

  1. He Was Rich
  2. He Became Poor
  3. We Become Rich

III. Titus Works for the Offering

  1. With Much Enthusiasm
  2. Praised by the Churches
  3. Often Proved Faithful
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament
Chapter Eight General Review
1) To see how Paul motivated others in their giving
2) To ascertain what principles ought to govern our giving
3) To appreciate the honorable manner in which Paul handled the
   collection for needy saints
At this point Paul addresses an issue that occupied much of his 
interest during his missionary journeys:  the collection for the needy
Christians in Judea (cf. Ga 2:9-10; Ro 15:25-28; 1 Co 16:1-2).  In this
letter, two entire chapters are devoted to the subject.
He begins by mentioning the churches in Macedonia.  Despite a great 
trial of affliction and their own deep poverty, their abundance of joy
and eagerness to participate in this ministry resulted in great 
liberality (1-5).
Having sent Titus to assist the Corinthians in carrying through with 
their own desire to give, Paul exhorts them not only by the example of
the Macedonians but by the example of Jesus Christ (6-9).  Since it is 
to their advantage that they complete what they began a year earlier,
Paul reminds them of the principles that ought to govern their giving.
These principles involve willingness, ability, and equality (10-15).
In an effort to do everything honorable in the sight of others, the 
collection is to be handled by three men other than Paul.  Titus is 
one, but the other two men are unnamed.  However, they are well known
and proven in their service to the Lord.  Paul encourages the
Corinthians to demonstrate to these men and to all the churches the
proof of their love in this collection and that Paul's boasting about 
the church in Corinth was not in vain (16-24).
      1. God's grace was bestowed upon the churches of Macedonia (1)
      2. Despite affliction and deep poverty, with an abundance of joy
         their poverty abounded in riches of liberality (2)
      1. They gave beyond their ability (3a)
      2. They gave willingly (3b)
      3. They implored Paul to accept their contribution (4)
      4. Beyond Paul's expectations, they gave themselves first to the
         Lord and then to Paul as God willed (5)
      1. Titus was sent to complete this grace in them (6)
      2. As the Corinthians abounded in many other things, Paul 
         encourages them to abound in this grace also (7)
      1. Not by commandment, but the example of others Paul seeks to
         test their love (8)
      2. Remembering the example of Jesus, through whose poverty we
         became rich (9)
      1. It is to their advantage to complete what they started a year
         before (10)
      2. So that there is not only a desire to do it, but the
         completion of it as well (11)
      1. There must first be a willing mind (12a)
      2. Then it should be according to what one has (12b)
      1. Paul does not desire that they burden themselves to ease
         others (13)
      2. But that their abundance might supply others' lack, so there
         can be equality (14)
      3. As in the case of gathering manna, recorded in Exodus 16:18
   A. TITUS (16-17)
      1. Paul could see that God put earnest care for the Corinthians 
         in Titus' heart (16)
      2. For he not only accepted the encouragement to go, but went on
         his own accord (17)
      1. Not mentioned by name, but whose praise was known by all the
         churches (18)
      2. Chosen by the churches to travel with Paul, so that none would
         question Paul's handling of the collection (19-21)
      1. Also not mentioned by name, but well proven (22a)
      2. Known for his diligence, he was very diligent in view of 
         Paul's confidence in the Corinthians (22b)
      1. Titus is Paul's partner and fellow worker (23a)
      2. The two unnamed brethren are messengers of the churches, the
         glory of Christ (23b)
      3. Corinth encouraged to prove their love and Paul's boasting on
         their behalf to these messengers (24)
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Macedonia's example in giving (1-5)
   - Paul's exhortations to the Corinthians (6-15)
   - The messengers administering the collection (16-24)
2) What was the condition of the churches in Macedonia?  Yet what did
   they have in abundance? (2)
   - They were in a great trial of affliction and had deep poverty
   - Their joy
3) What three things are said in how they gave? (3-4)
   - Beyond their ability
   - Freely willing
   - Imploring with much urgency that their gift be received
4) How did they go beyond Paul's expectations? (5)
   - By giving of themselves first to the Lord, and then to others
5) Why did Paul send Titus? (6)
   - To complete this grace in them, i.e., help them to prepare their
6) What two examples did Paul use motivate them to give? (8-9)
   - The diligence of others (e.g., the Macedonians)
   - The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
7) What three guidelines does Paul give to govern their giving? (12-14)
   - There must first be a willing mind
   - It is to be according to what one has
   - The idea is equality
8) What three men were sent to administer this collection? (16,18,22)
   - Titus
   - The brother whose praise is in the gospel
   - The brother who has often proved diligent in many things
9) Why were these men handling the collection, and not Paul? (20-21)
   - To avoiding possible blame; to provide things honorable in the 
     sight of the Lord and men
10) What did Paul want the Corinthians to show to these men and the
    other churches? (24)
   - The proof of their love and of Paul's boasting in them


Giving Par Excellence (8:1-7)
1. An important element of Christian service is that of "giving"...
   a. Following the NT pattern of taking up a collection, we lay by in
      store on the first day of the week - 1 Co 16:1-2
   b. With such benevolence we seek to provide for needy saints, and 
      support the work of the church
2. What is the best way to motivate Christians to give liberally?
   a. Many often appeal to OT examples of giving
   b. E.g., the Israelites and how they were expected to tithe
   c. The argument goes something like this:
      1) God required the Israelites to give a tithe (ten percent)
      2) In the New Covenant we enjoy greater blessings than those 
         under the Old Covenant
      3) So our giving should be at least ten percent if not greater
3. Yet the apostle Paul, seeking to inspire the Corinthians to abound 
   in the grace of giving, used the example of the churches of 
   Macedonia - 2 Co 8:1-7
4. Shouldn't we do the same?
   a. Why use an example where people gave out of COMPULSION (as was 
      the case in the OT practice of tithing)...
   b. ...when our giving is to be a FREEWILL offering? - cf. 2 Co 8:12;
   -- Indeed, I believe the Macedonians provide a much better role 
      model when it comes to Christian liberality!
[With that in mind, let's take a closer look at the churches at 
Macedonia who are set before us as examples of "Giving Par 
      1. We read of its beginning in Acts 16:11-40
         a. With the conversion of Lydia and her household
            1) Note her hospitality - Ac 16:15
            2) Was this an indication of things to come?
         b. And the conversion of the Philippian Jailor and his family
            1) He too showed hospitality - Ac 16:34
            2) Another example which may help us to appreciate what we
               learn later on
         c. Paul then had to leave abruptly because of the persecution
            - Ac 16:39-40
      2. The epistle to the Philippians was written to them, in which
         we learn...
         a. They helped Paul throughout his ministry - Ph 1:3-5; 4:10,
         b. They had continued to suffer for Christ - Ph 1:27-30
      1. We read of its beginning in Acts 17:1-10
         a. Many were converted - Ac 17:4
         b. Persecution against them soon arose - Ac 17:5-9
         c. Requiring Paul to leave suddenly - Ac 17:10
      2. The epistles to the Thessalonians were written to this church
         a. They too continued to have trouble - 1 Th 2:14; 2 Th 1:4-5
         b. They excelled in the matter of brotherly love - 1 Th 4:9-10
[With this background on the churches of Macedonia, we should not be
surprised that they are presented as a case of "Giving Par Excellence".
As we return to our text (2 Co 8:1-7), let's seek to answer the 
following question...]
      1. We've seen that they were in the midst of great affliction (2)
      2. They were experiencing poverty themselves (2)
      3. Yet they gave "beyond their ability" (3a)
      4. This they were not expected to do - cf. 2 Co 8:12-13
   B. THEY GAVE "JOYFULLY" - 2 Co 8:2
      1. Somehow they had discovered "the joy of giving"
      2. Perhaps they took to heart the teaching of...
         a. The Lord relating to the blessedness of giving - Ac 20:35
         b. James to the value of persecution - Ja 1:2-4
      3. In any case, this is the kind of giving that God loves - 2 Co
      1. They were "freely willing"
      2. This is the kind of giving God requires today...
         a. We can not command people to give against their will - cf.
            2 Co 8:8
         b. We can only command how it is to be done to help needy 
            saints abroad - cf. 1 Co 16:1-4
         c. Giving must come from "a willing mind" - 2 Co 8:12
         d. Giving must never be done "begrudgingly" or because you
            "have to" - 2 Co 9:7
         e. Otherwise, you might as well not give at all
      1. As Paul says, "imploring us with much urgency"
      2. They wouldn't take "no" for an answer (or for an easy way 
      3. With the Philippians, we know their giving to Paul persisted
         throughout his life
      1. Perhaps this explains how they were able to give as they did!
      2. They gave themselves "first to the Lord"
         a. When a person does this, they do not worry about "the cost
            of giving"
         b. For they have the promise of Jesus in Mt 6:25-34
      3. Having given themselves first to the Lord, it is only natural
         that they would give "then to us (others)"
         a. For such is a mark of true discipleship - cf. Jn 13:34-35
         b. And it is a mark of true love for God - cf. 1 Jn 4:20-21
1. What a example to motivate us in the art of giving!
2. Here are churches that were not expected to give because of their 
   own poverty
   a. Yet they gave:
      1) Sacrificially
      2) Joyfully
      3) Voluntarily
      4) Persistently
      5) Themselves
   b. They gave:
      1) To support preachers in the spread of the gospel
      2) To help needy Christians in a foreign land
      3) To help an old preacher in his time of need
3. Their example is much better than the "tithing" in the OT!
   a. And there are others we could have referred to:  Jerusalem, 
      Antioch, etc.
   b. Of course, the supreme example is that of Jesus Christ - 2 Co 8:9
4. Brethren, what kind of givers are we?
   a. Those who give out of compulsion, with a grudging obligation?
   b. Or those who like the Macedonians "beg" for the opportunity to
   -- May the churches of Macedonia serve to remind us of what is 
      involved in "Giving Par Excellence!"
Finally, have you thought about what kind of "recipient" you are?  
Christ became poor that we might be rich (2 Co 8:9).  Have you accepted
His gracious offer properly, or has it been offered in vain...
   "We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to
   receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: "In an acceptable
   time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped
   you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of
   salvation."  (2 Co 6:1-2)
Let the Jews on the Day of Pentecost be your example of "receiving par
excellence" as how one ought to receive the grace of God today! - cf.
Ac 2:36-41


--《Executable Outlines


In Rich Generosity

He Who Gathered Much Did Not Have Too Much

He Who Gathered Little Did Not Have Too Little


I.  Testimony of the Macedonians

1.    Extreme Poverty

2.    Beyond Their Ability

3.    Urgently Plead

II.Follow the Example of Christ

1.    He Was Rich

2.    He Become Poor

3.    We Become Rich

III.       Titus Works for the Offering

1.    With Much Enthusiasm

2.    Praised by the Churches

3.    Often Proved Faithful

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament