II Corinthians 8

 

 

These two chapters (8 and 9) form an independent section of the Epistle. The plural  (“we”)

is used throughout; participial and unfinished constructions abound; the style is a little

embarrassed; and various words, such as “grace,” “blessing,” “righteousness,”

 simplicity,” occur in somewhat unusual shades of meaning. All this arises:

 

  • From St. Paul’s natural delicacy in alluding to pecuniary subjects.

 

  • From a desire to conciliate the Corinthians, while at the same time he

            cannot conceal from them a little apprehension that they were rather more

            forward and zealous in words than in deeds. Their large promises had led

            him to speak of them in a way which seemed unlikely to be justified by the

            fulfillment. He was thus more or less under the influence of conflicting

            emotions. Out of patriotism (Romans 9:3) and compassion, and an

            effort to fulfil an old pledge (Galatians 2:10), and a desire to conciliate

            and, if possible, win over the affection of the Jewish Church — which had

            been much alienated from him by differences of opinion and by assiduous

            calumnies — and from a wish to show that his Gentile converts were

            faithful and loving brethren (Romans 15:31), he was intensely anxious

            that the contribution should be a large one. This feeling is apparent, not

            only throughout every line of this appeal, with the solemn topics which it

            introduces, but also in all his other allusions to the subject (Romans 15:26;

            I Corinthians 16:1-7; Acts 20:22; 21:4). On the other hand, he was careful lest

            he should seem to have even the most distant personal aims, and lest he

            should lay on his Gentile converts a wholly unfamiliar burden.

 

 

1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit” - In this and the next chapter Paul, having fully

spoken of the joy which had been caused to him by their reception of his first letter, and

having said as much as he then intended to say in answer to the charges insinuated against

him, proceeds to give directions about the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem. He had

already spoken of it (I Corinthians 16:1-4), but feared that they were behindhand, and now

sends Titus to stimulate their zeal. The style throughout is brief and allusive, because he had

already, in various ways, brought this matter fully before them. Throughout this section he

shows in a remarkable degree the tact, courtesy, high sense of honor, and practical wisdom

which were among his many gifts – “of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of

Macedonia” - Paul wants to tell the Corinthians how extremely liberal the Macedonians

have been, since it was his custom to stir up one Church by the example of another (ch. 9:2);

but he begins by speaking of their generosity as a proof of the grace which they are receiving

from the Holy Spirit. The Churches of Macedonia. The only Macedonian Churches of

which we have any details in the New Testament are those of Philippi, Thessalonica, and

Berea. They seem to have been peculiarly dear to Paul, who was attracted by their

cheerfulness in affliction and their generosity in the midst of want.

 

2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy” -“Affliction”

seems to have befallen the Churches of Macedonia very heavily (I Thessalonians 1:6; 2:14),

chiefly through the jealousy of the Jews, who excited the hatred of the Gentiles (Acts 16:20;

17:5,13)  Paul says that their joy overflowed their affliction, and their liberality overflowed

their poverty (Mark 12:44) - “and their deep poverty” – literally, their pauperism to the

 depth; their abysmal penury. Though they were in baqou>v ptwceia, bath’-os  pto-khi’-ah

 deep poverty or destitution, they showed themselves in generosity to be baquploutoi -

(deeply liberal in spiritual riches – the actual Greek  is baqou>v ptwceia autwn

eperisseusen ei>v to plouto>v th>v aploth>to>v autwn“deep poverty produced an

abundance of riches which were extraordinary in their liberality – translation mine – CY –

2010)  Stanley refers to Arnold’s ‘Roman Commonwealth,’ where he mentions that the

provinces of Macedonia and Achaia, which had suffered greatly in the three civil wars,

appealed successfully to Tiberius for a diminution of their burdens. The gift of the

Macedonians was like the widow’s mite (Luke 21:3-4, where similar words occur

perisseu>ontov, — per-is-syoo’-ontos; = abundance and uJste>rhmatov, —

hoos-ter’-ay-mah-tos; = lack, deficiency, penury - abounded unto the riches of

their liberality” - rather, of their singleness of purpose or simplicity (Ephesians 6:5)

 

3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing

of themselves” - “Of their own accord,” as in v. 17.  Paul does not mean that the

notion of making the collection originated with them (ch. 9:2), but only that they

displayed a voluntary energy in carrying it out.

 

4 Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon

us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.”  The translation then is,

begging us for the grace of participation in this ministration to the saints.” They were

so willing in the matter that they entreated me, as a favor (ca>rin -  “grace” instead of “gift”),

to allow them to have a share in this contribution, because it was to be given to the saints,

that is, the suffering peer in the Church of Jerusalem. This Church suffered from chronic

poverty. Even the Jewish population were liable to famines, in one of which they had only

been kept alive by the royal munificence of a proselyte, Queen Helena,of Adiabene. The

Christians would, of course, suffer even more deeply, because they were drawn

from the humblest classes and had fewer friends. This was one of the reasons why, as

an act of common humanity, it was incumbent on the Gentile Christians to help

them (Acts 11:29; Romans 15:25-26). Paul had already brought the subject to the

notice of the Corinthians (I Corinthians 16:1-4).

 

5 And this they did, not as we hoped” - rather, not as we expected. They were so

poor that it was impossible to expect much from them, but they surpassed my expectations

in every way. The Church of Philippi, perhaps under the influence of Lydia, was remarkable

for generosity, and was the only Church from which  Paul would accept any personal help

(Philippians 2:25; 4:15-18) – “but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us

by the will of God.” - “They gave themselves to the Lord, which is the best of all, and

they gave themselves as helpers to us also — by the will of God.” The phrase, “by the

will of God,” implies thanksgiving to God for the grace which enabled them to give

themselves to Him, and their goods to His saints. Being “a peculiar people,” they

naturally showed themselves “zealous of good works”  (Titus 2:14).

 

6 Insomuch that” - Their liberality encouraged me so greatly that I exhorted Titus to

return to Corinth once more, and see whether he could not receive some proof that you

were equally liberal. The remarks that follow are full of delicate reserve, but under their

exquisite tact and urbanity we can perceive that the Corinthians had talked very loudly

about their contributions, and had promised with great zeal, but had shown themselves

somewhat slack in redeeming their promises – “we desired (exhorted)Titus, that as

he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.” - Among

other works of grace which Titus might complete by returning to them from Macedonia

was the kindly collection which he had begun to set on foot in his previous visit

(ch. 12:18).

 

7 Therefore” -  rather, but. In the following verses to v. 15 Paul tells them his wishes

about this collection. He desires them to show generosity among their other graces

(v. 7), not by way of command, but that they may emulate others and show their love

(v. 8) by following the example of Christ (v. 9). And by acting thus they would prove

the sincerity of their former promises (vs. 10, 11), especially as he did not wish them to

give more than they could justly spare by way of reciprocity (vs. 12-15) - “as ye abound

in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in

your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.”  (namely, the grace of Christian

liberality).

 

8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness (zeal) of

others, and to prove the sincerity (genuineness) of your love.” – Among Gentiles

such contributions towards the needs of others, the result of unselfish compassion,

were all but unknown.  (Think of  American history, how generous as a nation we

once were and that because we were heavily influenced by God’s grace through Christianity –

now as we turn from JEHOVAH GOD to the god of MATERIALISM, notice not only

how in debt we are, but ponder our future selfishness at the expense of GENEROSITY! –

Truly, we are experiencing the truth of Psalm 135:15-18 – that MATERIALISM IS “…..the

work of men’s hands.  It has mouths but “speak not” - has eyes but “see not” – has ears

but “hears not; neither is there any breath in their mouths.  They that make them

[created MATERIALISM or promote it] are like unto them:  so is every one that

trusteth in them”CY – 2010).

 

9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich” –

(John 16:15; Ephesians 3:9; Philippians 2:5-7) – “yet for your sakes He became

poor” - The aorist implies the concentration of His self-sacrifice in a single act –

that ye through His poverty might be rich.”  The word “His” in the Greek implies

the greatness of Christ. The word for “poverty” would, in classical Greek, mean

pauperism or “mendicancy.”

 

10 And herein I give my advice: (an opinion)  for this is expedient for you, who

have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward” - rather, not only to do,

but also to be willing. The “to do” is in the aorist, the “to be willing” in the present.

We should naturally have expected a reversed order, “not only to be willing, but also

to put in action.” There must be a strong touch of irony in the words, unless we

interpret it to mean “not only to make the collection, but to be willing to add yet more

to it.” Perhaps in the “to be willing” lies the notion of “the cheerful giver,” “the willing mind”

(ch. 9:7; I Timothy 6:17-19) – “a year ago.”- rather, since the previous year;

 i.e. last year (ch. 9:2). They had probably begun to collect in the previous Easter, and

it was now soon after Tisri, or September, the beginning of the Jewish civil year.

 

11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so

there may be a performance” - “but now complete also the actual work, in order that,

as was the readiness of the willing, so may be also the completion according to your means.”

“also out of that which ye have.” This, and not “out of your ability,” is probably the

right reading, as we see from the next verse.

 

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.”  In other words, God considers not the

magnitude of the gift, but the proportion which it bears to the means of the giver.

(Compare Mark 12:41-44)

 

13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened” - literally, for not

that there may be relief to others, but to you affliction. In other words, I have no wish

that you should distress yourselves to set others at ease. You must not suspect me

of Jewish proclivities which would lead me to impoverish you to provide luxuries for

the Christians at Jerusalem.

 

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” - Paul may possibly be thinking of the reciprocity of spiritual and

temporal benefits, as in Romans 15:27; but if so he leaves the thought unexpressed.

 

15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that

had gathered little had no lack.” – The reference is to the gathering of manna in Exodus

16:17-18.

 

16 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus

for you.” – Thanks be to God that we think alike.

 

17 For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own

accord (aujqai>retov, authairetos; - voluntary - of own accord, willing of

self) he went unto you.” – Titus was more earnestly zealous than I had ever

ventured to hope, he went spontaneously. (On the word authairetos, see v. 3.)

 

18 And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel

throughout all the churches” - From Acts 20:5, it is somewhat precariously inferred

that Luke is meant. Others have conjectured Barnabas, Silas (who are out of the question),

Erastus, Mark, a brother of Titus, etc.  Luke is not unlikely to have been selected as a

delegate by the Church of Philippi; but further than this we can say nothing. Luke was

not a Macedonian by birth, and any Macedonian (e.g. Aristarchus, Sopater, Secundus,

Epaphroditus) seems to be excluded by ch. 9:4. Palsy notes it as curious that the object

of  Paul’s journey to Jerusalem, which is so prominent in this group of Epistles, is only

mentioned indirectly and incidentally by Luke (Acts 24:17)

in the Acts of the Apostles.

 

19 And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches” - (literally, chosen

by show of hands) implies a popular vote (comp. I Corinthians 16:3-4). This brother

was not only widely known and valued, but also specially selected for this task – “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:”

 

20 Avoiding this” - The object in sending Titus and the brother was to cut away the

possibility of blame and suspicion. The word ste>llomenoi, — stel’-lo-menoi;

 avoiding” literally means “furling sail,” and then “taking precautions.” It may,

however, mean “making this arrangement” (see II Thessalonians 3:6). Too much

stress has been laid on Paul’s “use of nautical terms”. They belong, in fact, to the very

phraseology of the Greek language – “that no man should blame us” - (see ch. 6:3).

Paul here sets a valuable and necessary example to all Christians who are entrusted

with the management of charitable funds. It is their duty to take every step which may

place them above the possibility of  suspicion. Their management of the sums entrusted

to them should be obviously and transparently business-like and honorable. (I have

heard that Billy Graham had a set salary of $100,000 – this amidst annual large sums

of money contributed to his ministry for the Lord and to his credit, there has never been

any problem associated with finances in his ministry – CY – 2010)  Paul taught this

behavior both by example and by precept (Romans 12:17; Philippians 4:8). There is

such a thing as a foolish and reprehensible indifference to public opinion (I Peter 2:12).

Yet with all his noble carefulness, Paul did not escape this very slander (ch.12:18) -  

in this abundance (this implies that the sum which had been collected by Paul’s

exertion was a large one)  which is administered by us:”

 

21 Providing for honest things” - The word “honest” means “honorable”

(Romans 12:17; Proverbs 3:4, LXX.) – “not only in the sight of the Lord” –

Such precautions would be unnecessary if others were not concerned, for

God  knows  our honesty  - (ch. 5:11) -  but also in the sight of men.”  Although

the text “avoid all appearance of evil” (I Thessalonians 5:22) should be rendered

avoid every species of evil,” the mistranslation conveys a wise lesson. “In a field of melons,”

says the Chinese proverb. “do not stoop to tie your shoe;” for that will look  as if you

wanted to steal one of the melons.

 

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.”  It is impossible to conjecture with any certainty who was the

brother thus warmly eulogized.

 

23 Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow helper

concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers” –

 literally, ajpo>stolov, ap-os’-tol-os; - apostle, messenger, he that is sent.

The word is used in its original and untechnical sense of delegates (Philippians 2:25;

Romans 16:7) – “of the churches, and the glory of Christ.”  Men whose work

redound to Christ’s honor (Galatians 1:24).

 

24 Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love,”

Not only of your love “to me,” but of your brotherly love in general – “and of our

boasting on your behalf.”  Show to the Church that my boasting of you was justifiable.

 

 

                                                ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

                                            Genuine Beneficence (vs. 1-9)

 

“Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God,” The subject of these

words is genuine beneficence, (doing good) – Acts 10:38 says “God anointed Jesus

of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power:  who went about doing good” –

Thus Christ learned from His Father who is a good God and who is very beneficent!

The words suggest certain general truths concerning that GOODNESS!

 

  • THAT ALL GENUINE BENEFICENCE IN MAN IS FROM GOD.

            “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of [we make known to you] the grace        

            of God.” (v. 1) - All that is loving and generous in all moral beings is from

            one Source, and that is God. He is the primal Font whence all flows.

            Wherever you see love, in young or old, rich or poor, cultured or rude, you

            see an emanation from and a reflection of the Eternal. As you may see the

            ocean in a dewdrop, you may see God in every throb of affection in human

            souls.

 

  • THAT IN SOME MEN IT IS MORE STRONGLY DEVELOPED

            THAN IN OTHERS, According to Paul, the “Churches of Macedonia(v. 1)

            displayed it in a remarkable degree. It would seem from what Paul says

            concerning the beneficence of the Macedonian Churches that it was:

 

ü      Self-sacrificing. “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance

      of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their

                        liberality.” (v. 2) -  It would seem from this that they could ill afford —

                        as the phrase is — to render any help in the way of property to others,

                        and yet their contributions “abounded unto the riches of their liberality.”

 

ü      Spontaneous. “They were willing of themselves.” (v. 3) - They were

      not pressed into it by outward appeals. The only pressure was from love           

      within.

 

ü      Earnest. “Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the

      gift.” (v. 4) - Instead of giving because they were besought by others to

      do so, they themselves besought the reception of their gifts. They might

      have presented plausible reasons for withholding their contributions to

      this charity. They might have pleaded distance, and said, “Jerusalem is a           

      long way off, and charity begins at home.” They might have pleaded

      lack of personal knowledge, and have said, “We are utterly unacquainted       

      with any of these saints at Jerusalem;” or they might have pleaded their  

      own affliction or poverty. But instead of that, they earnestly seized the

                        opportunity to render what help they could.  Compare Jesus’words in

                        Mark 14:6-8 – Let  her alone……she hath done what she could”!

 

ü      Religious. “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.” (v. 5) - they         

      had done what was far beyond Paul’s hopes. And here the point lies in

      the fact that they gave, not their money only, but themselves, their time,

      thought, energy, primarily to Christ as their Lord, and then to the apostle           

      as His minister. And this they had done because they allowed the will of            

      God to work upon their will.  Consecration of self to God is at once the            

      cause and virtue of all our gifts to men. Unless we give ourselves to God,          

      all our gifts to men are morally worthless.

 

  • THAT THOSE IN WHOM BENEFICIENCE IS MOST STRONGLY

            DEVELOPED MIGHT BE URGED AS AN EXAMPLE TO OTHERS.

            Paul here holds up the beneficence of the Macedonians as an example to

            stimulate the charity of the Corinthians. It would seem that the Church at

            Corinth had, through the influence of Titus, commenced a subscription for

            the poor at Jerusalem, and that Titus was about to return in order to obtain

            larger contributions. The charity of the Macedonian Churches Paul quotes

            as an example in order to help forward the work. His argument seems to be

            this — You have the advantages of the Churches at Macedonia in many

            things; you “abound in everything,” (v. 7) you are wealthy, they are poor;

            your endowments are greater than theirs, your “faith, and utterance, and

            knowledge,” and “in your love to us;” this being so, “See that ye abound

            in this grace also;” (ibid.) see that you excel in your contributions to this

            charity. It is wise and well to hold up the good example of others to stimulate

            men to a holy emulation. The good deeds of other men are amongst the Divine

            forces to purify and ennoble our own characters.

 

  • THAT THE HIGHEST EXAMPLE OF IT WE HAVE IN THE LIFE

            OF JESUS CHRIST. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

            (v. 9)  - Christ is the supreme Model of philanthropy.

 

ü      Christ’s  philanthropy was self-sacrificing. “Though He was rich, yet

      for your sakes He became poor.” (Ibid.) - Observe:

Ø      He was rich in material wealth before He came into the world.

      It is of material wealth that the apostle is speaking.

 

Ø      His existence on earth was that of material poverty. “The foxes

      have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son

      of man hath not where to lay His head.”  (Luke 9:58)

 

Ø      He passed voluntarily from one stage to another. “For your

      sakes He became poor.” Of all the myriads of men that have

      appeared on this earth, and that will appear, He alone had the   

      choosing of His circumstances, and He chose poverty.

 

ü      His philanthropy aimed supremely at the promotion of spiritual wealth.

                        “That ye through His poverty might be rich.” Rich spiritually. Great

                        is the difference between spiritual wealth and material.

 

Ø      The one is absolutely valuable, the other is not.

Ø      The one is essential to happiness, the other is not.

Ø       The one is WITHIN REACH OF ALL, the other is not.

 

 

 

                                    The Condescension of Jesus Christ (v. 9)

 

According to the teaching of the New Testament, human kindness should be based

upon Divine benevolence. Such is the import of this wonderful parenthesis — “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” - a jewel

which the inspired writer drops by the way and passes on.

 

  • CHRIST’S NATIVE RICHES CONTRASTED WITH HIS VOLUNTARY

      POVERTY.

 

ü      His proper rightful wealth is apparent, not only from His nature as the

                        Son of God, but from His evident command, during His earthly

                        ministry, of all the resources of nature. Bread, wine, money, He could                           

                        multiply or create; the earth and the sea obeyed His will; diseases and                           

                        demons fled at His bidding.

 

ü      His poverty was not compulsory; it was a “grace.” We see it in His

                        incarnation, in which He emptied Himself of His glory; in His ministry,                           

                        passed in a lowly and all but destitute condition of life; in His refusal to                          

                        use His power for selfish ends; in His cheerful submission to a shameful                         

                        death.

 

ü      Compare the glory which He claimed to have had with the Father before

      the world was, with the homelessness and poverty of His life and the

      desertion and ignominy of His death, and His “grace” appeals to every

      just mind, to every sensitive heart.

 

·        OUR NATIVE SPIRITUAL POVERTY CONTRASTED WITH OUR

            ACQUIRED SPIRITUAL WEALTH.

 

ü      Our natural destitution is undeniable; by sin we have lost our

                        possessions, our inheritance, our powers of acquisition, and are left

                        resourceless and friendless. Apart from the interposition of Christ,

                        and where Christianity is unknown, such is STILL THE STATE OF

                        MAN!

 

ü      Christ’s humiliation was for the sake of man’s spiritual enrichment.

      Only by condescension, compassion, and sacrifice could man be reached.        

      Thus He drew near to us, and imparted to us of His own true and Divine           

      riches, of knowledge, of righteousness, of favor, and of glory.

 

ü      By Christ’s mediation all things are ours, God, giving Christ, gives

      with Him all good things. “I have all things and abound,”

      (Philippians 4:18; I Corinthians 3:21-22) is the testimony of every

      right-minded and appreciative disciple of Christ. The history of the

                        Church is the history of the enrichment of the race; and this in turn is

                        the pledge and promise of the INESTIMABLE and

                        INEXHAUSTIBLE RICHES OF ETERNITY!

 

 

 

                                                Genuine Beneficence (vs. 10-15)

 

In these verses there is a continuation of the subject presented in the preceding passage, viz.

genuine beneficence. And there are three further remarks suggested concerning this

all important subject.

 

  • IT IS THE EMBODYING OF THE BENEFICENT DESIRE IN

            CONTRIBUTIONS FOR THE GOOD OF OTHERS. “Herein I give my

            advice [judgment]: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before

            [who were the first to make a beginning], not only to do, but also to be

            forward a year ago. Now therefore perform [complete] the doing of it;

            that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance

            [completion] also out of that which ye have.” (vs. 10-11)  They had shown

            the will to contribute, for they had “a year ago” commenced their subscriptions.          

            Now Paul exhorts them to go on and complete the work. “As there was a

            readiness to will, so there may be a performance.” The mere generous will

            is good in itself, but is not enough; it requires to be embodied in deeds.

            Every good desire requires embodiment:

 

ü      For our own sake. It is only as our best desires are translated into

      deeds that they give solidity and strength to our character. In words
      and sighs they die away; they are like the morning dew. A good desire

      in itself is like the raindrop on the leaf of the tree; it may excite

      admiration as it glistens like a diamond in the sun, but it is soon

      exhaled, and probably does no good to the tree. But when embodied in

      a generous deed it is like the raindrop that penetrates the roots and       

      contributes some portion of strength to all the fibers. A charity

      sermon delivered with the eloquence of a Chalmers may excite in the    

      congregation the beneficent idea, almost to a passion, but, unless that    

      passion takes the form of a self-denying act, it evaporates and leaves the           

      congregation in a worse state than the preacher found it.

 

ü      For the sake of others. It is generous deeds that bless the world. They

                        go where ideas cannot penetrate, into the hearts and consciences of

                        men; they work silently and salutarily as the sunbeam.

 

  • THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF BENEFICENCE ARE ONLY VIRTUOUS AS

      THEY SPRING FROM A GENEROUS DESIRE. “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.” (v. 12) - The doctrine is this, that the

            disposition of the heart, not the doings of the hand, constitute the essence

            of moral character. This is the Divine method of estimating human

            conduct. “The Lord judgeth not as man judgeth,  The motive is the

            soul of the deed. “Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,.., and

            have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (I Corinthians 13:3) Do not

            judge the desire by the effort, but judge the effort put forth by the desire.

            The poor widow would have made munificent contributions, but she could

            only give a “mite;” but in that mite there was more value than in all the

            amount in the temple exchequer. Some have the means to do good and not

             the heart, and some have the heart but not the means. The former are grubs

            in the universe, the latter are angels. There are deeds done in the body, seen of

            God, infinitely more numerous and essentially more valuable in most cases

            than deeds done by the body.

 

  • THE CONTRIBUTION OF OTHERS CANNOT SUPERSEDE THE

            OBLIGATION OF OURS, BUT MAY SUPPLEMENT THEIR

            DEFICIENCIES.

 

ü      It is not a substitute. “For I mean not that other men be eased, and

      ye burdened.” (v. 13) - It behoves every man to contribute to the extent

      of his riches, to the good of others. If one man gives a thousand it does

      not relieve me from my obligation to contribute what I can.

 

ü      It is a supplement. “But by an equality, that now at this time your

                        abundance may be a supply for their want.” (v. 14) - It is the duty of

                        all to contribute. Some have the ability to contribute a hundred times the                                    

                        amount of others; let their large sums go to supplement the deficiencies

                        of their poorer brethren, so that there may be “an equality.” Thus the

                        old Scripture will be illustrated, that “he that had gathered much had                                    

                        nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.”  (Exodus

                        16:18).

 

 

 

                        Stimulating Men to Beneficent Actions (vs. 16-24)

 

“But thanks be to God,” - The verses under notice present to us the subject of

stimulating men to efforts of beneficence, and three remarks are suggested concerning

this occupation:

 

  • IT IS A WORK THAT REQUIRES THE HIGHEST ORDER OF

      CHRISTIAN MEN. We find here that not only Paul employs himself in it

            with all his loving earnestness and logical power, but he engages Titus also,

            and a “brother” with him of such distinction that his “praise is in the gospel

            throughout all the Churches.” (v. 18) - To excite men to beneficent enterprises         

            is preeminently a Christian work. Christianity is the mother of all

            philanthropic labors and institutions. Christian piety is a fountain whence

            all the myriad streams of human beneficence that circulate through all the

            districts of human life proceed. To stimulate this beneficence in men is the

            highest ministry on earth, and for it men of the most distinguished

            character and faculty are required. No man is too great for it, and but few

            men are equal to its successful discharge.

 

  • IT IS A WORK DESERVING THE GRATITUDE OF ALL. Paul

            refers to:

 

ü      The gratitude of those who had been excited to beneficent efforts.

      “But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the

      heart of Titus for you.” (v. 16) - It is implied that Titus conferred on  

      them an immense favor in stimulating them to generous deeds. No man  

      can render us a greater service than by taking us out of ourselves and    

      inspiring us with a genuine concern for the interests of others. It is not

      he who gives me a good thing, but who stimulates me to do a good thing,     

      that is my greatest benefactor; for it is “more blessed to give than to

      receive.” (ch. Acts 20:35) - In giving we become Godlike, and therefore         

      we ought to thank the man most devoutly who evokes within us the spirit          

      of true charity. Instead of endeavoring to avoid appeals to our  

      benevolence, we should hail them and thank our Maker for them.

 

ü      The gratitude of those who have effected the excitement. Paul says,

                        “Thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart

                        of Titus for you.”  (v. 16)

 

Ø      There is no office higher in itself than this. This is the work

      for which Christ came into the world, the work for which He    

      established the Christian ministry. The aim and tendency of the  

      gospel are to drown the selfish ego in the sunny tide of universal            

      charity. The love of Christ constrained men to feel that they

      should not henceforth live to themselves.  (ch. 5:15)

 

Ø      There is no office more useful than this. Success in this means

      ruin in all that is ruinous to souls in human history, ruin to           

      selfishness and all its fiendish brood. Well, therefore, may those            

      who are engaged in such a work thank God for the distinguishing          

      honor to which they have been called.  Paul says nothing here   

      about the gratitude of those on whom the excited beneficence has         

      bestowed its favors — the beneficiaries. He seems to take

                                    it for granted that they ought and would be thankful; that they                                        

                                    ought to be admits of no doubt, but that they always are cannot be                                            

                                    asserted.  Ingratitude, alas! is one of the reigning sins in human                                      

                                    life.  (See Luke 17:11-19)

 

  • IT IS A WORK EXPOSED TO THE SUSPICIONS OF WORLDLY

            MEN. The apostle seems to have been afraid that the contributions that

            would flow from stimulating the beneficence of the Corinthian Church

            would occasion the allegation that they were participating in them, and so

            obtaining some personal advantage. Hence, to guard against the possibility,

            he gets the Churches to choose from amongst them some men of the best

            reputation, whom he calls “messengers of the Churches,” (v. 19) and Titus,

            and perhaps Luke, in the administration of the charity, and thus “providing for

            honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of

            men.” (v. 21) - Dishonest men have existed in all ages, and the more dishonest          

            men are, the more suspicious. Paul here guards himself against all scandalous

            imputations. He had great respect for his own reputation, so much so, that

            one at times, in reading these Epistles, is well nigh astonished that a man so

            great in nature and sublime in character should think so much about the

            opinions of others.

 

 

 

 

 

"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.

Materials are reproduced by permission."

 

This material can be found at:

http://www.adultbibleclass.com