2 Corinthians 8
PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
|Liberal Giving||Excel in Giving||The Collection for the Relief
of the Jerusalem Church
|Christian Giving||Why the Corinthians Should be Generous|
|Christ Our Pattern|
|Titus and His Companions||Collection for the Judean Saints||Titus and His Companions||The Delegates Recommended
to the Corinthians
READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five modern translations. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one main subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
A. Chapters 8 and 9 form a literary unit related to the Corinthian's part in the Gentile churches' contribution for the poor of the church in Jerusalem (cf. I Cor. 16:1-3).
B. Background to Paul's gift to the Jerusalem church
1. In Acts 11:27-30 the church at Antioch started the program of relief work for Jerusalem. It was a way of uniting the Jewish and Gentile churches.
2. In Gal. 2:10 and 6:10 Paul began a similar emphasis in his early mission work.
3. In I Cor. 16:1-4 it is shown that this contribution had already started at Corinth.
4. In Rom. 15:26 the contributions of both Macedonia and Achaia are mentioned.
C. Paul's overall argument concerning Christian giving
1. example of others (Macedonians) vv. 1-5
2. giving is an aspect of spiritual growth, vv. 7-8
3. example of Christ, v. 9; 9:15
4. their own start, vv. 6,10
5. encouragement to put desire into action, v. 10
6. motive, not amount, is the key, v. 12
7. giving equals out, v. 14
D. New Testament guidelines for Christian giving based on the model of the churches of Macedonia
1. joyous and genuine, even amidst poverty, v. 2; 9:7
2. gave to utmost of ability, v. 3
3. gave sacrificially beyond ability, vv. 3,12
4. gave freely, v. 3; 9:7
5. gave sincerely, v. 4
6. gave more than money, v. 5
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:1-6
1Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, 2that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. 3For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, 4begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, 5and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. 6So we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work as well.
8:1 "the grace of God" This word "grace" (charis) is used over ten times in chapters 8 and 9. It is used in the sense of
1. God's undeserved, unmerited love in Christ, 8:1,9; 9:8,14
2. favor/privilege, 8:4
3. the offering to Jerusalem, 8:1,6,7,19
4. thanks, 8:16; 9:15
Notice that grace is understood as referring to God's undeserved, unmerited love in Christ or as a way of referring to the contribution from Paul's Gentile churches to the mother church in Jerusalem. The Greek term has a wide semantical field.
▣ "the churches of Macedonia" This would refer to Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea (cf. Acts 16-17). There was a cultural sense of competition between Achaia and Macedonia. See Special Topic: Church at I Cor. 1:2.
8:2 "that in a great ordeal of affliction" We see something of this persecution from Acts 17:1-15 and I Thess. 1:6; 2:14. There are two Greek words that are translated "trial," "test," or "tempt" (here "ordeal"). One refers to a test with the view toward destruction, while the other refers to a test with a view toward approval (cf. vv. 2,8,22; 9:13). See Special Topic at I Cor. 3:13.
For "affliction" see SPECIAL TOPIC: TRIBULATION at II Cor. 1:4.
▣ "their abundance of joy" It is so surprising that this phrase occurs between "great ordeal of affliction" and "their deep poverty." This joy amidst adverse circumstances is a characteristic of the believer (cf. Matt. 5:10-12; Rom. 5:3; James 1:2). Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:22) and it is not related to circumstances!
For Paul's repeated use of "abundance" or "overflow" see note at 1:5.
▣ "their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality" The term, "poverty" (i.e., ptōchos) is a very strong Greek term used of (1) extreme poverty in the Septuagint of Deut. 8:9; Jdgs. 6:6; 14:15 (2) beggars (cf. 6:10; Rom. 15:26; Rev. 2:9; 3:17). They did not give out of excess. They trusted God to provide their needs (cf. Mark 12:42; Luke 21:2). In this context "their deep poverty" seems related to their being persecuted for the gospel (cf. vv. 13-18).
▣ "liberality" This term's root meaning is "single-mindedness," which can mean "genuine" or "sincere" (cf. Septuagint II Sam. 15:11; I Chr. 29:17). But, it is used in the NT (i.e., term only in Paul's writings) in the sense of "liberality" or "generosity" (cf. 9:11,13). The Jerome Biblical Commentary (p. 284) thinks the word reflects a Hebrew term meaning "perfection" or "integrity" and, therefore, refers to their purity of motives. The motive for our giving is the key (cf. v. 12). See full note at 1:12.
8:3 Paul had seen their poverty first-hand.
NASB"they gave of their own accord"
NKJV"they were freely willing"
NRSV"they voluntarily gave"
TEV"of their own free will"
NJB"it was of their own accord"
This term is from autos and haireomai, which means "self choices." It is used in both II Cor. 8:3 and 17. The root term has the added connotation of choosing with delight or love (cf. Matt. 12:18, which is a quote from the Servant Song of Isa. 42:1-3). It is used in (1) II Maccabees 6:19 and III Maccabees 6:6; 7:10 and (2) the Koine papyri from Egypt of someone acting on their own accord freely.
A Handbook on Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians by Roger L. Omanson and John Ellington shows how English translations differ grammatically over which clause to attach this phrase.
"These words may be considered a part of the sentence which precedes, that is, the Macedonians gave of their own free will (so RSV, NRSV, NJB, SPCL), or to the sentence which follows in verse 4, that is, of their own free will they begged to take part in the collection (so TEV, NIV, REB, NJB, TNT, FRCL). The latter interpretation follows the punctuation of the UBS Greek New Testament and is probably more likely" (p. 142).
8:4 "with much urging" See full note on this phrase at 1:4-11.
▣ "for the favor of participation" For "favor" see note at 8:1. The term "participation" (i.e., koinōnia) is used often by Paul in his Corinthian letters in several, but related, senses. See Special Topic at I Cor. 1:9.
1. intimate, close, personal relationships (related term koinōneō often used of initiations into the mystery religions)
a. with the Son, I Cor. 1:9
b. with the Spirit, II Cor. 13:14
c. not with evil, II Cor. 6:14
d. Titus and Paul in ministry, II Cor. 8:23
2. generosity (related term koinōnikos means the liberal sharing of one's own goods), II Cor. 9:13
3. participation in something
a. I Cor. 10:16 (i.e., in the blood of Christ)
b. II Cor. 8:4 (i.e., in contribution for poor saints in Jerusalem)
c. II Cor. 1:7 (i.e., in suffering)
There is an obvious word play between participation (koinōnia) and support (or ministry, diakonia). This word for ministry or service is used so often in 2 Corinthians.
1. diakonos (servant), 3:6; 6:4; 11:15,23
2. diakoneō (serving), 3:3; 8:19,20
3. diakonia (service), 3:7,8,9; 4:1; 5:18; 6:3; 8:4; 9:1,12,13; 11:8
Christianity is sevanthood. We were saved to serve!
▣ "in the support of" See note at I Cor. 16:1.
▣ "saints" See SPECIAL TOPIC: SAINTS at I Cor. 1:2.
8:5 "they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God" Stewardship involves everything we are and have. If you give yourself to the Lord there remains nothing to give! Christian stewardship is a thermometer of our spiritual maturity. Believers are owners of nothing and stewards of God in everything. This truth is sometimes easier for poor people to grasp and obey than wealthy people.
8:6 "Titus" In Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, F. F. Bruce comments on the theory that chapters 10-13 are a segment of a previous letter, "but this is rendered improbable by 12:18, which seems clearly to refer back to 8:6,16-19" (p. 274 footnote 51).
▣ "this gracious work" This refers to the contribution from Paul's Gentile churches to the poor of the mother church in Jerusalem (cf. I Cor. 16:1-4; Rom. 15:26). In Jesus and the Rise of Early Christianity, Paul Barnett makes a good point about the variety of terms Paul used to describe this love offering for the poor believers in Jerusalem.
"The appeal is characterized by its own vocabulary: 'contribution for the saints' (1 Cor 16:1); 'gift' (1 Cor 16:3); 'grace' (2 Cor 8:6, 7, 9; 9:14); 'service' (2 Cor 9:12; cf. Rom. 15:27) and 'fellowship' (2 Cor 8:4; 9:13; Rom 15:26)" (p. 344).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:7-15
7But 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. 8I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. 9For 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. 10I 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. 11But 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. 12For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality -14at 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; 15as it is written, "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack."
8:7 "just as you abound in everything" Notice that the list (i.e., faith, speech, knowledge, earnestness, love) does not relate to material possessions. We do not give to get more things for ourselves. We abound in Him (cf. I Cor. 1:5). He supplies everything we need (cf. 9:8).
▣ "abound" This term is used twice in this verse. The first is present active indicative, they were abounding in the blessings of the gospel. The second is present active subjunctive, which adds a note of contingency. As they had abounded in the benefits of the New Covenant, they should abound in the responsibilities. Their help for the poor in the church in Jerusalem is one of these "gracious works."
NASB"in the love we inspired in you"
NKJV, TEV"in your love for us"
NRSV"in our love for you"
NJB"and love for us too"
These translations reveal the Greek variant.
1. "in our love for you" (NRSV) from MSS P46, B
2. "in your love for us" (NKJV, TEV, NIV) from MSS א, C, D, F, G
3. NASB takes option #1, but slightly changes the focus, "the love we inspired in you"
4. the UBS4 puts option #1 in the text, but gives it a "C" rating.
The same pronoun confusion is seen in the Greek variants in v. 9.
8:8 "I am not speaking this as a command" Commands are inappropriate and ineffective in the area of Christian stewardship. Proper motives are crucial in this area of the Christian life.
NASB"as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also"
NKJV"but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others"
NRSV"but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others"
TEV"but by showing how eager others are to help, I am trying to find out how real your own love is"
NJB"but testing the genuineness of your love against the concern of others"
Paul is challenging the Achaian churches to follow the lead of the Macedonian churches (cf. vv. 1-5) through Titus' visit (cf. vv. 6,16-24).
▣ "proving" See Special Topic at I Cor. 3:13.
8:9 "the grace" See note at 8:1.
▣ "of our Lord Jesus Christ" See note at 1:2.
▣ "though He was rich" This refers to the pre-existent glory of Jesus the Christ (cf. John 1:1; 8:56-59; 16:28; 17:5,24; II Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:6-7; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3; 10:5-8; I John 1:1).
▣ "yet for your sake He became poor" This is an emphasis on the incarnation of the pre-existent Logos in the manger at Bethlehem. He was born to a young, virgin peasant woman, into the life of a village carpenter, but He was God in human form (cf. George Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, pp. 241-242).
▣ "so that you through His poverty might become rich" Paul is using Jesus' incarnation in two ways.
1. He came to die in our place for our sins (cf. Mark 10:45).
2. He came to give us an example to follow (cf. I John 3:16).
This tremendous thought parallels 9:15. This church thought they already were rich (cf. I Cor. 4:8). Now the true definition of wealth is clearly spiritual and service-oriented, not self-seeking or intellectual, or materialistic.
8:10 "I give my opinion" Although Paul asserts that this is his opinion, because of his comments in I Cor. 7:25,40 it is an authoritative (i.e., inspired) statement.
▣ "the first to begin a year ago" 2 Corinthians was written between six and eighteen months after I Corinthians (cf. II Cor. 16:1-4).
8:11 "now finish doing it also" This is an aorist active imperative. They were one of the first churches to originally desire to help the poor in Jerusalem. Now it is time to do it (cf. TEV).
TEV"be as eager"
This is the Greek word prothumia, which is also used in v. 12 and v. 19 as well as 9:2. Its basic meaning is "readiness, promptness" (cf. Acts 17:11).
▣ "the completion of it by your ability" Notice Paul returns to this theme again. It is so surprising to me that Paul never discusses regular Christian giving. His only comments on "giving" relate to this one-time gift for the church in Jerusalem. He admits that a worker is worthy of his hire and that churches should help traveling missionaries, but gives no further guidelines.
New Covenant believers must be careful of proof-texting OT cultic criteria in a NT setting (cf. Hard Sayings of the Bible, p. 539 footnote #1). If we assert tithing is the will of God, what is to keep others from mandating sacrifice or Sabbath worship? Jesus did mention tithing in talking to a Jewish legalist (cf. Matt. 23:23; Luke 11:42), but this cannot be claimed to be the only NT evidence that this OT rite is perpetually valid (see Special Topic at 8:8).
I am not trying to lower what believers should give, but accentuate Paul's guidelines in 2 Corinthians 8-9 as the only NT information (also see I Cor. 16:2). Believers should never be content with an OT standard! Read Paul again (cf. Frank Stagg, New Testament Theology, pp. 285-293).
8:12 "if" This is a first class conditional sentence. Paul assumes they were ready and eager to give.
▣ "it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have" The key to Christian stewardship is our attitude and motive, not the amount or percentage (cf. Mark 12:41-44).
8:13-14 The key word in these two verses is "equality" and the key concept is reciprocity. The family of God should help one another in need (cf. Eph. 4:28). The Jerusalem church has spread the good news of Christ (cf. Rom. 15:27). The Gentile churches can help in providing for the believing poor in Jerusalem. Some may be poor because of their faith in Christ.
▣ "affliction" See Special Topic: Tribulation at II Cor. 1:4.
8:15 "as it is written" This perfect passive indicative (Hebrew idiom) was used to introduce an OT quote. It implies the divine inspiration and eternal relevance of Scripture. The text quoted relates to the miracle of the daily gathering of manna where each Israelite had just enough (cf. Exod. 16:17,18). God will provide believers' needs as they seek and obey Him (cf. Matt. 6:19-34).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 8:16-24
16But thanks be to God who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus. 17For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest, he has gone to you of his own accord. 18We have sent along with him the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches; 19and 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, 20taking precaution so that no one will discredit us in our administration of this generous gift; 21for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. 22We 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. 23As 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. 24Therefore openly before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.
8:16-17 "But thanks be to God who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus" Notice Paul's understanding of God's equipping (cf. Eph. 4:12) and motivating for ministry. This same understanding of God's sovereign leadership in the affairs of mankind is also seen in Rev. 17:17. This is the mystery of divine sovereignty and human free will.
8:16-24 Verses 16-24 seem to be a letter of recommendation for Titus. See fuller note at 3:1. A brief biographical sketch of Titus follows.
1. Titus was one of Paul's most trusted co-workers. This is evidenced by the fact that Paul sent him to the trouble spots of Corinth and Crete.
2. He was a full Gentile (Timothy was only half-Greek), converted under Paul's preaching. Paul refused to circumcise him (cf. Gal. 2).
3. He is mentioned often in Paul's letters (cf. II Cor. 2:13; 7:6-15; 8:6-24; 12:18; Gal. 2:1-3; II Tim. 4:10) and it is very surprising that Luke does not mention him in Acts. Some commentaries theorize that (1) he may have been a relative of Luke (possibly a brother) and to include his name would have been seen as an act of cultural impropriety on Luke's part or (2) Titus is Luke's major source of information about Paul's life and ministry and, therefore, like Luke, would not be named.
4. He accompanied Paul and Barnabas to the all important Jerusalem Council, recorded in Acts 15.
5. A letter to Titus focuses on advice Paul gives Titus about his work on Crete. Titus is acting as Paul's official surrogate.
6. The last information in the NT about Titus is that he was sent to work in Dalmatia (cf. II Tim. 4:10).
8:16 "heart" Paul uses this term often in 2 Corinthians (cf. 1:22; 3:2-3,15; 4:6; 5:12; 6:11; 7:3; 8:16; 9:7). See Special Topic at I Cor. 14:25.
8:18 "We have sent along with him the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches" Church tradition has asserted that this could be Paul's co-worker, Luke. Luke is not included in the list of Paul's traveling companions recorded in Acts 20:4, but the "we" section, which implies Luke's presence and starts in Acts 20:5-6, occurs at this point in the context (cf. Origen recorded in Eusebius' Hist. Eccl. 6:25:6; A. T. Robertson' Word Pictures in the New Testament, p. 245).
F. F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, comments on Titus and Luke being brothers.
"One explanation of Luke's silence about one who was such a trusted lieutenant of Paul's is that Titus was Luke's brother; cf. W. M. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen (London, 1895), p. 390; Luke the Physician and Other Studies (London, 1908), pp. 17 f.; A. Souter, 'A Suggested Relationship between Titus and Luke', Expository Times 18 (1906-7), p. 285, and "The Relationship between Titus and Luke', ibid., pp. 335 f. But if this relationship is maintained, then the possibility that Luke is the 'brother' of 2 Corinthians 8:18 f. (see. p. 320) is ruled out: Paul's purpose in sending this 'brother' along with Titus was that he should be an independent guarantor of the probity of the administration of the relief fund, and this purpose would have been frustrated if critics had been given an opportunity to draw attention to a blood-relationship between the two. Nothing could have been better calculated to foster already existing suspicions" (p. 339 footnote #5).
M. R. Vincent's Word Studies mentions another theory.
"The person referred to has been variously identified with Titus' brother, Barnabas, Mark, Luke, and Epaenetus, mentioned in Rom. 16:5. The reference to Epaenetus has been urged on the ground of a supposed play upon the word praise, epainos; Epaenetus meaning praiseworthy; and the parallel is cited in the case of Onesimus profitable of whom Paul says that he will henceforth be useful, Philem. v.11" (p. 830).
8:19 "but he has also been appointed by the churches" The verb is cheirotoneō, which is a compound from "hand" and "to stretch out." It originally referred to a vote by raising the hand. It cannot mean this in Acts 14:23, but does imply it here in II Cor. 8:19.
Here is another example of congregational polity linked to several different congregations. See fuller note at I Cor. 16:3.
NASB"to travel with us in the gracious work"
NRSV"to travel with us with this gift"
NKJV"to travel with us while we are administering this generous undertaking"
TEV"to travel with us as we carry out this service of love"
NJB"to be our traveling companion in this work of generosity"
Paul was always leery about the accusation of his mishandling of money (cf. v. 20; 11:9,12). Therefore, he wanted to take several representatives from the different churches with him to give the contribution from the Gentile churches to the mother church in Jerusalem.
▣ "for the glory of the Lord Himself, and to show our readiness" This monetary gift had several purposes. Two are stated here.
1. to glorify the Lord
2. to show the Gentile churches' willingness to help the mother church in Palestine
It probably helped Paul show his devotion and loyalty to the believing Jewish part of the universal church. See SPECIAL TOPIC: GLORY (DOXA) at I Cor. 2:7.
There is a Greek manuscript variant connected to "Himself." This reciprocal pronoun appears in two forms,
1. auto - MSS א, D1
2. autēn - MS P
3. omitted in the uncial MSS B, C, D*, F, G, and L (NJB)
The UBS4 gives option #1 a "C" rating which means the textual committee cannot decide.
8:20 "taking precaution" The phrase "taking precaution" (i.e., "avoiding," a present middle participle used only here and in II Thess. 3:6) was a nautical metaphor for the extra care in handling the sails when approaching a dock (cf. Moulton and Milligan, p. 587 from Homer).
TEV"stir up any complaints"
NJB"be able to make any accusations"
This is the Greek term mōmos, which basically means blame, ridicule, disgrace, or strain (cf. II Pet. 2:13). The verb here (i.e., aorist middle [deponent] subjunctive) implies "to find fault," "to censure," or "to blame" (cf. 6:3; 8:20).
TEV"this generous gift"
NKJV"this lavish gift"
NJB"this large sum"
This is not the usual term for gift. It was used in the Septuagint for mature adults (cf. II Sam. 15:18; I Kgs. 1:9) and of leaders (cf. II Sam. 15:18; II Kgs. 10:6,11; Isa. 34:7). From Greek literature it was used of ripened grain or of something thick. It is found only here in the NT.
8:21 "for we have regard for what is honorable" This seems to be a quote from Pro. 3:4 in the Septuagint. Believers need to be above suspicion in all things (cf. Matt. 10:16; Rom. 12:17; I Thess. 5:22).
The term "honorable" (NASB) or "right" (NKJV, NIV) is the Greek term, kalos, which has a variety of nuances.
1. beautiful 7. distinguished
2. good 8. moral excellence
3. useful 9. worthy
4. excellent 10. virtuous
5. just 11. propriety
▣ "in the sight of the Lord" This refers to one's motives and knowledge of Scripture. If v. 21 is from Pro. 3:4, then Lord refers to YHWH.
▣ "but also in the sight of men" This refers to our witness (cf. Rom. 14:18; Phil. 2:15; 4:8; I Tim. 3:7; I Pet. 2:12).
8:22 "We have sent with them our brother" This seems to be a second unknown companion to fulfill the OT requirement for two witnesses (cf. Deut. 17:6; 19:15). This means that Paul is referring in this context to three people.
2. the brother of v. 18
3. the brother of v. 22
▣ "we have often tested" This term dokimazō also occurs in v. 8 and another form of the word in v. 2. See Special Topic: Greek Terms for "Testing" and Their Connotations at I Cor. 3:13.
▣"great confidence in you" See full note at 3:4.
NRSV"they are messengers of the churches"
TEV"they represent the churches"
NJB"they are emissaries of the churches"
This is the word apostolos, which meant "messenger" or "agent." Because of the terms' unique usage in John's Gospel referring to Jesus as the "Sent One" and His sending His followers, the term took on a specialized sense of official representation (i.e., Apostle). Here it is used in its normal sense of those (i.e., Titus and two unnamed brothers) sent to represent churches in the trip to Jerusalem with the offering. See Special Topic: Send at I Cor. 4:9.
▣ "a glory to Christ" This must refer to v. 19. See SPECIAL TOPIC: GLORY (DOXA) at I Cor. 2:7. It is possible that this phrase refers to the churches that sent offerings.
8:24 The exegetical question is to whom does "them" refer?
1. It could refer to the poor in the church in Jerusalem. The Corinthian church demonstrated their love by their gift for the mother church. Their generosity showed the other Gentile churches that they were co-operating and following Paul's lead.
2. It could refer to the other churches themselves. The best option contextually and grammatically is #2.
▣ "openly before" See full note at 1:11.
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.
1. How does NT giving differ from OT giving?
2. Is the tithe a universal or cultural truth? Why or why not?
3. How does your giving stack up against the Macedonians?
4. Explain the difference between giving and stewardship.
5. Who is the brother mentioned in v. 18?
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