2 Corinthians 8

In chapters eight and nine, Paul asks the Corinthians to make good on their promise to make a bountiful gift to the poor saints in Jerusalem. In his doing so, he provides us with some sound principals concerning the matter of giving and receiving money in the name of Jesus.

1 Now, brethren, we {wish to} make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia,

2 that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.

3 For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, {they gave} of their own accord,

4 begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints,

5 and {this,} not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.

Paul now tells the Corinthians (the faithful ones, not the ones whose salvation was in doubt) about how the churches in Macedonia (one of which was in Philippi (Phil 4:15)), in spite of their trials and poverty, gave money, beyond their ability, for the poor Christians in Jerusalem (Ro 15:26), without any pushing from anyone, but instead, begging Paul for the opportunity to do so. They also first lived a life pleasing to God.

This doesn’t sound like a church that was tithing, as Paul doesn’t mention tithes here. If the church was tithing, surely Paul would have mentioned it here. This is one of the reasons why I don’t think that tithes are expected in the New Testament.

God had regard for Abel and his offering, but had no regard for Cain and his offering (Gen 4:4-5). If God doesn’t have regard for you, then He will not accept your offering. It is important to first give yourself to the Lord, and then give your offering to Him.

If you have wronged your brother, you have to first fix that wrong before making your offering to God (Mt 5:23-24).

6 So we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work as well.

7 But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, {see} that you abound in this gracious work also.

Paul wanted these wealthy Corinthians (who abounded in everything) to not miss the reward for supporting the saints, and so he asks them to contribute too.

8 I am not speaking {this} as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also.

Paul makes sure that they understand that he is not commanding them to contribute, but merely suggesting that they contribute. Tithing was a command in the Old Testament, and so if Paul believed that tithing was in effect in the New Testament, then he would have commanded them to pay up.

9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

Jesus gave sacrificially to meet our needs. Paul points to Jesus as the example for giving.

If Jesus was 100% man and 100% God while on earth, then how could Paul truthfully say that Jesus became poor? A poor person is someone who doesn’t have certain things, but one who is 100% God has everything, and in no way can be called ‘poor’.

10 I give {my} opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do {this,} but also to desire {to do it.}

11 But now finish doing it also, so that just as {there was} the readiness to desire it, so {there} {may be} also the completion of it by your ability.

12 For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what {a person} has, not according to what he does not have.

Our giving must be accompanied by a desire to give. God doesn’t love a reluctant giver but a cheerful giver. If you cannot give cheerfully, then don’t give to God or to His people.

One must also only give from what one has, not from one doesn’t have. If you owe someone money, pay that off first, before you give to God. Some pastors teach that one should give to their church even if one has debt (e.g. credit card debt). That is not what Paul taught here.

13 For {this} is not for the ease of others {and} for your affliction, but by way of equality –

14 at this present time your abundance {being a} {supply} for their need, so that their abundance also may become {a supply} for your need, that there may be equality;

15 as it is written, “HE WHO {gathered} MUCH DID NOT HAVE TOO MUCH, AND HE WHO {gathered} LITTLE HAD NO LACK.”

We shouldn’t give to those who already have, and don’t need money, but to those who don’t have. If your pastor’s bank balance is greater than yours, he shouldn’t be asking you for money for himself. If the church’s bank balance is greater than yours, then the church should be asking you for money.

16 But thanks be to God who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus.

17 For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest, he has gone to you of his own accord.

18 We have sent along with him the brother whose fame in {the things of} the gospel {has spread} through all the churches;

19 and not only {this,} but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us in this gracious work, which is being administered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself, and {to show} our readiness,

20 taking precaution so that no one will discredit us in our administration of this generous gift;

21 for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

22 We have sent with them our brother, whom we have often tested and found diligent in many things, but now even more diligent because of {his} great confidence in you.

Paul send another (unnamed here, but quite well-known and well-reputed in Paul’s time) brother with Titus so that no one could be accused of pilfering what was given. He wanted to make sure that if the Corinthians had any concerns about inappropriate use of the money they gave, those concerns were being addressed.

Paul (repeatedly) tested the people who worked with him before he gave them much responsibility.

23 As for Titus, {he is} my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, {they are} messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ.

Titus too was well-tested and found faithful, as were the others who would be going with Titus to Corinth to collect the money.

24 Therefore openly before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.

Having addressed any concerns from the Corinthians about the people the money would be untrusted with, Paul requests the Corinthians to give freely, without worrying about the money being stolen or being used inappropriately.

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