2 Corinthians 8
Assuring the Integrity of Collecting the Offering
Paul is known as an apostle, theologian, and church-planter, but a great deal of his ministry was tied up in raising funds from the Gentile church to take to Jerusalem for economic relief. We know the churches of Galatia as well as the church of Corinth were participating in the offering (1 Corinthians 16:1-4), also the churches of Achaia (Romans 15:26) as well as Macedonia. During his journey, Paul was picking up delegates from Derbe, Lystra, Berea, Thessalonica, and Ephesus (Acts 20:4) to accompany the collection to Jerusalem. You can tell Paul was hoping to take the offering to Jerusalem, solidify the unity between the Gentile and Jewish churches, and then head to Rome with this great accomplishment as witness to what Jesus had done.
However, history records that the offering did not do what he assumed and Paul ends up imprisoned and taken to Rome under different circumstances than he had imagined.
Paul spends the next two chapters dealing with this collection.
How the Macedonians Gave (1-5)
First, Paul takes up the example of impoverished Macedonia citing their response to the grace of God (1). In the middle of affliction and poverty, they let their joy and generosity win their hearts (2). They ended up begging Paul, against his advice, to let them collect an offering way over what they would have been naturally able to do (3-4). Paul was surprised by what they were able to accomplish and noted that they did it by giving themselves to Lord first and then they gave themselves to the will of God concerning the collection (5).
The Challenge to Give Like Jesus (6-9)
Next, Paul told the Corinthians that he had challenged Titus before he left to help the Corinthians complete the offering that had been begun (6). He then told the Corinthians that they were to do their most excellent work on the offering just like they had given themselves to other things they considered important (7). Paul wanted them to throw their whole heart into the work to prove their love was genuine and not an expression of doing something to get something (8). Of course, the example they were to follow was Jesus Who by the grace of God on Him, He being rich, gladly became poor to make them all rich (9).
A Reminder of Their Giving Leadership (10-11)
Paul reminds the Corinthians that they were among the first to pick up the call and desire to give to the collection for Jerusalem (10). So Paul calls the Corinthians to finish their commitment with the same passion and eagerness they began with (11).
Instructions on How to Give (12-15)
Paul was clear; what made an offering acceptable was not the amount but rather the eagerness and delight in giving it. The principle was to give according to what they had, not in seeking to commit something they did not have and then end up feeling bad about either the small amount they gave or their inability to give what they committed. The principle was to figure out what they wanted to sacrifice and then go without so they could give it, then to collect what they had been sacrificing and to do it with joy, passion, and love (12).
Paul did not encourage some to sacrifice and create their own world of poverty while they made others who did nothing become rich on that sacrifice (13). Paul rather viewed persons in a time of abundance helping those experiencing deep need. As those who were in need were being helped so they would get back on their feet and begin to prosper, at which point they were to do the same for others so the whole body of Christ could have every genuine need met (14).
Paul then quotes Exodus 16:18 regarding manna and transferred the point to the body of Christ: no one was to have anything thing leftover and no one was to have any lack—in many ways, an unimaginable concept (15).
Standards to Assure Funds Would Not Be Mishandled (16-23)
Paul lets the Corinthians know that Titus and a well-known brother was returning to Corinth. Titus was returning eager and willingly and on his own nickel, thus he was as trustworthy as Paul himself (16-18).
Paul inserts a footnote here telling the Corinthians that the well-known and trusted brother coming with Titus was appointed by the churches and was going to help them carry the offering all the way to Jerusalem (19). Paul tells the Corinthians that he is taking time to explain all this so there will be no accusation about how they were handling the funds. Paul puts a high priority on being honorable before God and humans (20-21). Continuing on with his footnote, Paul mentions another unnamed, trusted brother coming with Titus, also making note of his same eagerness toward and confidence in the Corinthians. Paul concludes his footnote by noting some final qualifications of the three men: they were partners, workers, and messengers for the glory of Christ (22-23).
Prove Your Love (24)
Paul finishes off the chapter by encouraging them once again to give evidence of their love, proving Paul's boast was true (24).