a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

Encouragement to Be Generous


We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; 2for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, 4begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints— 5and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, 6so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. 7Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.

8 I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. 9For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something— 11now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. 12For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. 13I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between 14your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. 15As it is written,

“The one who had much did not have too much,

and the one who had little did not have too little.”

Commendation of Titus

16 But thanks be to God who put in the heart of Titus the same eagerness for you that I myself have. 17For he not only accepted our appeal, but since he is more eager than ever, he is going to you of his own accord. 18With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his proclaiming the good news; 19and not only that, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us while we are administering this generous undertaking for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our goodwill. 20We intend that no one should blame us about this generous gift that we are administering, 21for we intend to do what is right not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of others. 22And with them we are sending our brother whom we have often tested and found eager in many matters, but who is now more eager than ever because of his great confidence in you. 23As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker in your service; as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24Therefore openly before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.

13. Not that others. This is a confirmation of the preceding statement — that a readiness of will is well-pleasing to God alike in poverty and in wealth, inasmuch as God does not mean that we should be reduced to straits, in order that others may be at ease through our liberality. True, indeed, it is certain, that we owe to God, not merely a part, but all that we are, and all that we have, but in His kindness He spares us thus far, that He is satisfied with that participation of which the Apostle here speaks, What he teaches here you must understand to mean an abatement from the rigor of law. 673673     “Est vn relaschement de ce a quoy nous sommes tenus en rigueur de droict comme on dit;” — “Is an abatement from what we are bound to by strictness of right, as they say.” In the mean time, it is our part to stir ourselves up from time to time to liberality, because we must not be so much afraid of going to excess in this department. The danger is on the side of excessive niggardliness.

This doctrine, however, is needful in opposition to fanatics, who think that you have done nothing, unless you have stripped yourself of every thing, so as to make every thing common; 674674     “Calvin alludes to the same class of persons, when commenting on Acts 2:44had all things common. Verum sana expositione indiget hic locus propter spiritus fanaticos, qui bonorum κοινωνίαν fingunt, qua omnis politia evertatur;” — “This passage, however, requires to be soundly interpreted — for the sake of those fanatical spirits, who pretend (κοινωνίαν) — a community of goods, by which all civil government is overturned.” — Ed. and, certainly, they gain this much by their frenzy, that no one can give alms with a quiet conscience. Hence we must carefully observe Paul’s (ἐπιείκεια) mildness, 675675     Beza, when commenting on 2 Corinthians 10:1, observes, that ἐπιεικείας means “an inclination to clemency and mercy, as opposed to a disposition to follow out to the utmost one’s just right.” “Aristotle,” he remarks, “contrasts τὸ ἐπιεικες, (mildness,) with τῷ ἀκριβοδικαίῳ, (rigorous justice,) and Hermogenes contrasts it with τῷ βιαίῳ (violence.)” — Ed. and moderation, in stating that our alms are well-pleasing to God, when we relieve the necessity of our brethren from our abundance — not in such a way that they are at ease, and we are in want, but so that we may, from what belongs to us, distribute, so far as our resources allow, and that with a cheerful mind. 676676     “Et ce d’vne gayete de coeur et franc courage;” — “And that with cheerfulness of heart and frank courage.”

By an equality Equality may be taken in two senses, either as meaning a mutual compensation, when like is given for like, or, as meaning a proper adjustment. I understand ἰσότητα simply as meaning — an equality of proportional right, 677677     “C’est a dire qui est compassee par proportion selon des qualitez des personnes et autres circounstances;” — “That is to say, which is regulated proportionally according to the stations of individuals, and other circumstances.” as Aristotle terms it. 678678     “Quaerenda omnino ἰσότης est, sed analogica qualis est membrorum in corpore humano, qua quidem non omnia in eodem pretio et dignitate habentur, sed omnia tamen, quae ornamento vel integumento indigent, ornantur et teguntur;” — “Equality must by all means be aimed at, but proportional, such as subsists among the members of the human body, according to which they are not, indeed, all held in the same estimation and dignity, but all of them notwithstanding, that require ornament or clothing, are adorned and clothed.” — Heideggerus.Ed. In this signification it is made use of, also, in Colossians 4:1, where he exhorts “masters to give to their servants what is equal.” He certainly does not mean, that they should be equal in condition and station, but by this term he expresses that humanity and clemency, and kind treatment, which masters, in their turn, owe to their servants. Thus the Lord recommends to us a proportion of this nature, that we may, in so far as every one’s resources admit, afford help to the indigent, that there may not be some in affluence, and others in indigence. Hence he adds — at the present time. At that time, indeed, necessity pressed upon them. Hence we are admonished that, in exercising beneficence, we must provide for the present necessity, if we would observe the true rule of equity.

VIEWNAME is study