Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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2 CORINTHIANS - Chapter 8

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2 Corinthians 8

Supplemental Commentary:

II.  THE COLLECTION FOR THE POOR CHRISTIANS IN JERUSALEM  8, 1 -- 9, 15

In this second main section of 2 Cor., St. Paul is dealing with the collection for the poor Christians in Jerusalem.  The Apostle is deeply concerned over this collection.  The need was pressing.  But there were also other considerations in this matter.  A generous collection at Corinth would be a special sign of the unity between that Gentile church and their Jewish brethren so far away, and at the same time it would be a telling proof of the Apostle's own authority which had been recently questioned.  Again, there were the adversaries at Corinth and opponents at Jerusalem.  How would these look upon this collection?

8, 1-6:  Example of the Macedonians.    2.  Testing of tribulation means the many afflictions experienced by the Macedonians, which made them sympathetic towards the sufferings of others and willing to help those in distress.  Here we should read the narrative in Acts 16-17.    4.  Saints: the poor Christians of Jerusalem.  The Apostle had previously spoken of a collection for those needy brethren in 1 Cor. 16, 1-4, and had sent Titus to start it, perhaps soon after the arrival of our 1 Cor.    5.  Gave themselves, first, etc.: i.e., they put their lives and persons at the disposition, first of Christ, and then of the Apostles for Christ's sake.

8, 7-15:  Exhortation.    8.  Zeal of others: i.e., the earnestness of the Macedonians.    10.  A year ago, etc.: this can hardly mean that twelve months had intervened since the writing of 1 Cor. 16, 2, because that Epistle was written in the spring, and 2 Cor. appears to have followed very probably in the succeeding autumn.  Perhaps the collection had been decided on some time before 1 Cor. 16, 2 was written; or St. Paul might have been reckoning according to the Macedonian year which, like the Jewish civil year, may have begun in autumn.  In this latter supposition a year ago would mean "last year."    13.  Equality: it is not necessary that this be thought of as realized in the present.    14.  Your abundance: Corinth was a center of great wealth.  Their abundance may refer to the spiritual plenty of the Christians in Jerusalem, or to the material goods which might be their at some future time.    15.  The Apostle now cites a passage from Ex. 16, 18, to illustrate how there should be equality in temporal goods among the Christians, just as of old God so distributed the manna in the desert that all had what was necessary, superfluities being made to supply needs.  Those who gathered more manna than the others had not in the end more than they needed, while the others had all that they required.

8, 16-24:  The Mission of Titus.    18.  The brother: some hold this refers to St. Luke.  And we have sent: this is an example of the epistolary aorist in Greek, referring to a present action which will be past when the letter is received.    20.  St. Paul took care that the collection should be handled by several, so as not to give his enemies any chance to accuse him of misappropriating the money.    22.  Our brother: i.e., some trusted fellow-Christian, who was to be the third delegate to go to Corinth.


Confraternity Bible:

Example of the Macedonians  1 Now we make known to you, brethren, the grace of God that has been bestowed upon the churches of Macedonia; 2 where, amid much testing of tribulation, their overflowing joy and their deep poverty have resulted in rich generosity.  3 For according to their means---I bear witness---yes, beyond their means, they gave, 4 earnestly begging of us the favor of sharing in the ministry that is in behalf of the saints.  5 And beyond our expectations they gave themselves, first to the Lord, and then by the will of God to us.  6 This led us to exhort Titus to complete among you also this same gracious work, of which he had made a beginning before.

Exhortation  7 Now, as you abound in everything---in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all zeal, in your love for us---may you excel in this gracious work also.  8 I do not speak as commanding, but as testing the sincerity of your own charity by means of the zeal of others.  9 For you know the graciousness of our Lord Jesus Christ---how, being rich, he became poor for your sakes, that by his poverty you might become rich.

10 In this matter I am giving advice.  It is to your interest, since a year ago you not only began to do, but also to have the will.  11 Now therefore complete the doing also; so that your readiness to begin it may be equaled by your desire to carry it through, according to your ability.  12 For if there is willingness, it is welcome according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

13 For I do not mean that the relief of others should become your burden, but that there should be equality; 14 that at the present time your abundance may supply their want, and that their abundance may, in its turn, make up what you lack, thus establishing an equality, 15* as it is written, 
"He who had much had nothing over, and he who had little had not less."
The Mission of Titus  16 Now thanks be to God, who has inspired Titus with this same zeal for you.  17 For not only has he accepted our exhortation, but being very zealous himself, he has gone to you of his own choice.  18 And we have sent along with him the brother whose services to the gospel are praised in all the churches; 19 and what is more, who was also appointed by the churches to travel with us in this work of grace which is being done by us, to the glory of the Lord and to show our own readiness.  20 We are on our guard, lest anyone should slander us in the matter of our administration of this generous amount.  21 For we take forethought for what is honorable, not only before God, but also in the sight of men.  22 And we have sent with them also our brother, whom we have proved to be zealous often and in many things, but who now is more in earnest than ever, because of his great confidence in you, 23 whether as regards Titus, who is my companion and fellow-worker among you, or as regards our brethren, the messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.  24 Give them therefore, in the sight of the churches, a proof of your charity and of our boasting on your behalf.
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*
15: Ex. 16, 18.