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THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 1
Introduction of 2nd Corinthians Chapter 8
IN the previous chapter the apostle had expressed his entire confidence in the ready obedience, of the Corinthians in all things. To this confidence he had been led by the promptitude with which they had complied with his commands in regard to the case of discipline there, and by the respect which they had shown to Titus, whom he had sent to them. All that he had ever said in their favour had been realized; all that had ever been asked of them had been accomplished. The object of his Statement in the close of 2 Co 7 seems to have been to excite them to diligence in completing the collection which they had begun for the poor and afflicted saints of Judea. On the consideration of that subject, which lay so near his heart, he now enters; and this chapter and the following are occupied with suggesting arguments and giving directions for a liberal contribution.
Paul had given directions for taking up this collection in the first epistle. See 2 Co 8:1, seq. Comp. Ro 15:26. This collection he had given Titus direction to take up when he went to Corinth. See 2 Co 8:6-17. But from some cause it had not been completed, 2 Co 8:10,11. What that cause was, is not stated; but it may have been possibly the disturbances which had existed there, or the opposition of the enemies of Paul, or the attention which was necessarily bestowed in regulating the affairs of the church. But in order that the contribution might be made, and might be a liberal one, Paul presses on their attention several considerations designed to excite them to give freely. The chapter is, therefore, of importance to us, as it is a statement of the duty of giving liberally to the cause of benevolence, and of the motives by which it should be done. In the presentation of this subject, Paul urges upon them the following considerations:
He appeals to the very liberal example of the churches of Macedonia, where, though they were exceedingly poor, they had contributed with great cheerfulness and liberality to the object, 2 Co 8:1-5.
From their example he had been induced to desire Titus to lay the subject before the church at Corinth, and to finish the collection which he had begun, 2 Co 8:6.
He appeals to them by the love of the Saviour; reminds them that though he was rich, yet he became poor, and that they were bound to imitate his example, 2 Co 8:9.
He reminds them of their intention to make such a contribution, and of the effort which they had made a year before; and though they had been embarrassed in it, and might find it difficult still to give as much as they had intended, or as much as they would wish, still it would be acceptable to God. For if there was a willing mind, God accepted the offering,2 Co 8:10-12.
He assures them that it was not his wish to burden or oppress them. All that he desired was that there should be an equality in all the churches, 2 Co 8:13-15.
To show them how much he was interested in this, he thanks God that he had put it into the heart of Titus to engage in it. And in order more effectually to secure it, he says that he had sent with Titus a brother who was well known, and whose praise was in all the churches. He had done this in order that the churches might have entire confidence that the contribution would be properly distributed. Paul did not wish it to be intrusted to himself. He would leave no room for suspicion in regard to his own character; he would furnish the utmost security to the churches that their wishes were complied with. He desired to act honestly not only in the sight of the Lord, but to furnish evidence of his entire honesty to men, 2 Co 8:16-21.
To secure the same object he had also sent another brother; and these three brethren he felt willing to recommend as faithful and tried—as men in whom the church at Corinth might repose the utmost confidence, 2 Co 8:22-24.
Verse 1. Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit. We make known to you; we inform you. The phrase, "we do you to Wit," is used in Tindal's translation, and means, "we cause you to know." The purpose for which Paul informed them of the liberality of the churches of Macedonia was to excite them to similar liberality.
Of the grace of God, etc. The favour which God had shown them in exciting a spirit of liberality, and in enabling them to contribute to the fund for supplying the wants of the poor saints at Jerusalem. The word "grace" (carin) is sometimes used in the sense of gift, and the phrase "gift of God" some have supposed mast mean very great gift, where the words "of God" may be designed to mark anything very eminent or excellent, as in the phrase "cedars of God," "mountains of God," denoting very great cedars, very great mountains. Some critics (as Macknight, Bloomfield, Locke, and others) have supposed that this means that the churches of Macedonia had been able to contribute largely to the aid of the saints at Judea. But the more obvious and correct interpretation, as I apprehend, is that which is implied in the common version, that the phrase "grace of God" means that God had bestowed on them grace to give according to their ability in this cause. According to this it is implied,
(1.) that a disposition to contribute to the cause of benevolence is to be traced to God. He is its Author. He excites it. It is not a plant of native growth in the human heart; but a large and liberal spirit of benevolence is one of the effects of his grace, and is to be traced to him.
(2.) It is a favour bestowed on a church when God excites in it a spirit of benevolence. It is one of the evidences of his love. And indeed there cannot be a higher proof of the favour of God, than when by his grace he inclines and enables us to contribute largely to meliorate the condition, and to alleviate the wants of our fellow-men. Perhaps the apostle here meant delicately to hint this. He did not therefore say coldly that the churches of Macedonia had contributed to this object, but he speaks of it as a favour shown to them by God that they were able to do it. And he meant, probably, gently to intimate to the Corinthians that it would be an evidence that they were enjoying the favour of God, if they should contribute in like manner.
Of these churches, that at Philippi seems to have been most distinguished for liberality, (Php 4:10,15,16,18, ) though it is probable that other churches contributed according to their ability, as they are commended (comp. 2 Co 9:2) without distinction.
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