2Corinthians 8 — To a Church in Crisis, With Love

Text: 2Corinthians 8

With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I speak to you from 2Corinthians 8 today. We want you to join us in being the Amen to God’s promises of reconciliation, of salvation, and of the infilling of the Holy Spirit! Yes! Truth! He has done it in me! You will say the same thing, when you are filled!

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “Give Yourself to the Lord.” I always pray that there will be a great revival in the church Why? Many believers have never heard of, and do not believe, the truth that they are commanded by Jesus Christ give themselves fully to Him, asking Him to fill them with His Spirit and God’s divine love.

The believers at Corinth have been unwilling to give out of their abundance — out of their church’s weekly collection. Certainly, the local church must be supported. But others are in dire straits and experiencing extreme persecution — including the church at Jerusalem. 

The Corinthians have been given much by the Lord. Now, Paul asks them to gather a long-overdue collection to be delivered to the church at Jerusalem and distributed according to need, among all the churches.

Verses 1-2 —

Paul tells the believers at Corinth of the grace of God which has been extended by the churches of Macedonia. They have given liberally to Paul so he can do his ministry full-time, and to the church at Jerusalem. 

The churches of Macedonia are greatly tried by intense persecution. But this persecution gives them great joy! Why? They have been considered worthy to suffer shame for Christ’s sake (Acts 5:41)!

They are poor, shunned by their countrymen and unable to find work. And yet, they give liberally, richly, to overflowing (superabounding, excelling), to assist Paul and all of the churches 

Acts 18:5   But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.

2Corinthians 11:8 I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you; 9 and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so.

Verses 3-5

Paul testifies to the believers at Corinth that the believers in Macedonia have given according to their ability, and BEYOND their ability, without anyone asking them to give. They gave of their own accord, voluntarily. Why? For the sake of the furtherance of the gospel by which they had been saved and later filled with the Holy Spirit. They were superabundantly thankful, and expressed their thanksgiving by superabundant giving!

They begged (beseeched) Paul and Timothy with much urging (earnest begging), for the favor (gift) of participation in the support of the saints. They so loved their brothers and sisters, even with God’s own love, that they considered it a gift and a privilege to give toward the work that was being done by the saints in all of the church and in missionary work!

They gave not as expected — that is, what was required. Instead, they gave far beyond that! Why were they so generous? They had first given themselves to the Lord, and then to Paul and Timothy and the work of all the missionaries! 

They had fully surrendered, and offered themselves as living sacrifices to the Lord, which was their spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1). They were filled with the Spirit, beloved, and no longer infants in Christ who considered only their own interests. They had died to self, because that is God’s will and Christ’s command. 

Beloved, heed these words, see the self-centeredness in your heart which makes you miserly in giving, and cry out for the Lord to change your heart! He will do it! 

I have seen many single dollar bills in the offering plate in many churches. Such an offering will not supply the need of the local church, or of those who coordinate the rest of the work in the fields and in the churches. There is a great need for a painful letter and painful words, to exhort and call to repentance those who do not give as they ought.

Verse 6 —

So, Paul and Timothy sent Titus, urging him to continue with what he had begun among the believers at Corinth. Titus had begun to convince them of their need to give to the church at Jerusalem. He has shown them that it is a gracious work, a work that reveals the grace of God worked through the hearts of the Corinthians. I am sure he exhorted them to be filled with the Holy Spirit!

Verses 7-8 —

Paul says the believers at Corinth superabound in everything — in faith, in utterance (speech), and in knowledge (first knowledge of spiritual things), and in all earnestness (eagerness), and in the love (affection, but not agape, for they are not yet filled) inspired by Paul and Timothy.

 So Paul exhorts them that they see to it that they superabound in the gracious work displayed by the churches at Macedonia. He does not speak this as a command, but so that the believers at Corinth will see that they must prove the sincerity (genuineness) of their love (affection) for all of the church. 

He would not need to speak to them, if their hearts were filled with agape, beloved. I have heard pastors plead with their congregations to tithe to the church. And yet there are still just single dollar bills in the plate. If that is your tithe, then you make only $10 per week. Open wide your hearts, O church! Let the Lord do a work in you!

Verse 9 — 

Why should all believers liberally give? Because our Lord Jesus Christ, though rich with all the riches of heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father, gave all of Himself on your behalf. He gave up His glory, for your sake (Philippians 2:7). And by His offering of Himself on a cross, you now have the riches of eternal life! 

And by His ascension and glorification, you will have the riches of the fullness of His Spirit, if you will simply ask your Father in heaven for the gift of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). 

Do not harden your hearts, beloved, but give yourself to the Lord, and be filled with His Spirit and His divine love! Then you will gladly and liberally give toward the work, compelled by His love that has been poured out in your heart to overflowing (Romans 5:5)!

Verses 10-11 —

Paul and I give our opinion, because it is to your advantage (profitable to you) to obey. And I add that, even more so, it is a command of Jesus to be filled with the Spirit and the love of God! 

Paul had been with them for 18 months, when he established the church at Corinth. At that time, the believers at Corinth became the first of the churches to give, and even to prefer to give. But something has happened. They have stopped giving. 

So Paul says, finish what you began! They were willing to give, in the beginning, so they now must complete (finish) their desire to give, by their ability — that is, according to what they are able to give.

Verse 12 —

If the readiness to give is present, then it will be found to be acceptable if they simply give according to their own ability, and not beyond it, though the churches in Macedonia have given beyond their ability. Paul does not ask the believers at Corinth to give what they do not have, but to give of what they do have!

Verses 13-15 —

Paul exhorts them to give not for the ease (relaxation) of others — that is, so others don’t have to give. It is not for their affliction (that is, to cause the Corinthians anguish). But it is so that the believers at Corinth give equally, in the same proportion that the other churches are asked to give.

At the present time, the church at Corinth has a superabundance of funds. These should be a supply for the need of the other saints, so that the superabundance that eventually happens in other churches may become a supply for the Corinthians in their future time of need. 

For it is written, He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack. Both were equally supplied by the Lord — 

Exodus 16:18 When they measured it with an omer (dry measure), he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat.

But also, I believe Paul refers to the spiritual need of the believers at Corinth, the need to be filled with the Spirit, which the other churches would be glad to assist them to receive!

Then there will be equality in every way!

Verses 16-17 —

But thanks be to God who puts into the heart of Titus the same earnestness (eagerness, diligence, care) Paul and Timothy have.  Titus not only accepted their appeal (urging) to go to Corinth, but being himself very earnest (diligent), Titus also has also gone to the Corinthians of his own accord. 

He is eager to help the believers at Corinth to gather together their offerings for the collection for the church at Jerusalem, who will distribute according to the needs of the other churches.

Verses 18-21 —

Paul and Timothy send another with Titus, a brother whose fame in the gospel has spread through all the churches (probably a reference to Apollos), one who has also been appointed by the churches to travel with Paul and Timothy in this gracious work (the collection) which is being overseen by Paul, Timothy and the rest. 

Why are Paul and Timothy glad to oversee the collection?  For the glory (praise) of the Lord Himself, so He is glorified. And they also are glad to do it so none can question their own motives, for the churches will see their quick and joyful willingness to serve.

And Paul and Timothy do not want to be discredited (censured) by the leaders of the church at Jerusalem by not quickly and faithfully making the collection of funds. Paul recognized that the progress of the gospel was hindered if its ministers, for any reason, acquired a reputation for dishonest dealings. In today’s church, the gospel is hindered because of dishonesty by the leaders of some churches — ones who use the collections for personal gain.

Verse 22 —

Another brother will accompany Titus and Apollos, one who Paul and Timothy have often tested and found diligent (earnest) in many things, but now even more diligent because of Paul’s great confidence in the believers at Corinth, that they would send a large gift to the church at Jerusalem, to make amends for their lack of giving.

Verse 23 —

As for Titus, he is Paul’s partner and fellow worker among the believers at Corinth, and as for the two brethren who will accompany him to receive the church at Corinth’s offering, they are messengers of the churches (commissioners of Christ, who have miraculous powers), and their work is a glory (praiseworthy) to Christ. The men being sent to Corinth are well qualified for every good work, including the collection of offerings.

Verse 24 —

With all of this in mind, Paul commands the believers at Corinth to give openly, so the churches are able to see proof of their love (affection). And when Corinth gives, the rest of the churches will also see Paul and Timothy’s reason for boasting (their confidence that Corinth will give all they have promised to give).

Beloved, are you like the believers at Corinth who are reticent to give for the work of the church? Then give yourself fully to the Lord! Then you will gladly and abundantly give, because you will be filled with His divine love and His Spirit, and your selfish sin nature will be crucified!

Please know, however, that you must use discernment, for in today’s church, there are many false teachers who constantly beg for funds. Do not give to them unless you are able to observe that they walk as Jesus Christ walks, and are as He is, in this world.

Lord Jesus, I have confidence that many will heed these words, see their need for heart change, and cry out for you to do it! May it be so, I pray! Amen.