8:1 And now [an attempt by Paul to rekindle the Corinthians’ initial commitment to give to the offering to assist the poor Jewish believers in Jerusalem (see 1 Cor. 16:1-4 and Rom. 15:25-33)], brothers [reminder that all believers are members of God’s family], we want you to know about the grace [God’s undeserved kindness and mercy; cause of their generosity; experiencing God’s grace opened their hearts] that God has given the Macedonian [a province in northern Greece; Paul preached there as a result of a vision (Acts 16:9)] churches [poor and persecuted (see 1 Thess. 1:6; 2:14) but nevertheless generous; included congregations in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea (Acts 16:9—17:14)].
8:2 Out of the most severe trial [Gr. thlipseos: distress, pressure, affliction, tribulation], their overflowing joy [resulted in overflowing giving; giving a joy not a duty] and their extreme [deep] poverty welled up in rich [overwhelming] generosity [openhearted and openhanded; their poverty did not become an excuse for not giving to others].
Note: In 1 Corinthians 13:3, Paul said, “If I give all I possess to feed the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” It is possible to give without loving, but it is not possible to love without giving. It is possible to have compassion and express kindness without love, but it is not possible to have love without compassion and kindness.
8:3 For I testify that they gave [to help the poverty-stricken believers in Jerusalem] as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability [sacrificially; cf. the widow’s offering in Mk. 12:41-44]. Entirely on their own [voluntarily; took the initiative],
8:4 they urgently pleaded [begged] with us for the privilege [not burden or duty] of sharing [Gr. koinonia: fellowship or participation] in this service [Gr. diakonias; work that benefits another] to the saints [the poor in Jerusalem].
8:5 And they did not do as we expected [but rather went beyond what Paul hoped for], but they gave themselves first [priority] to the Lord [the first step in becoming a generous giver] and then to us [submissiveness] in keeping with God’s will.
8:6 So [because of the example of the Macedonians] we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning [on the collection], to [Titus sent back to complete the task] bring also to completion [to help the Corinthians follow-through on their pledge to take part in the offering] this act of grace [Gr. charis: gracious giving] on your part.
Titus was a dear and trusted friend of the Apostle Paul. He was a Greek believer (Gal. 2:3) who was converted to faith in Christ by Paul (Titus 1:4). Although Titus is not mentioned by name in the book of Acts, he accompanied Paul and Barnabas (Gal. 2:1-10) to the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) where he was Exhibit A that the Jewish rite of circumcision was not necessary for salvation.
Titus was a trustworthy individual who assisted Paul in dealing with the troubled church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 7:13-14; 8:6,16,23; 12:18). He was also an individual with administrative gifts (Titus 1:5). He was highly regarded by Paul who referred to him as “my partner and fellow worker” (2 Corinthians 8:23).
8:7 But just as you excel [go beyond the minimum; to go over and above] in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us [areas of which the Corinthians had boasted] — see that you also [add to these] excel [go beyond mere duty] in this grace of giving [cf. Rom. 12:8 re: gift of giving; giving focuses on needs of others].
8:8 I am not commanding you [to give; perhaps out of a feeling of obligation to Paul], but I want to test the sincerity [legitimacy or genuineness; a quality of being real and without pretense; Latin sin cera or “without wax”] of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others [other contributors such as the Macedonian Christians].
8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [best example of giving], that though He was rich [Col. 1:16-18], yet for your sakes He became poor [cf. Phil. 2:5-8], so that you through His poverty [the cross] might become [spiritually] rich.
8:10 And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year [period of time that had elapsed since they had first made a commitment to give] you were the first not only to give [even before the Macedonian churches; their example had stirred the Macedonian churches to action (see 2 Cor. 9:2)] but also to have the desire to do so [intention must lead to completion].
8:11 Now [an urgent reminder to complete their commitment] finish [imperative] the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means [recall that Macedonian Christians had contributed beyond their means].
8:12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have [gift must be seen in comparison with the total financial resources of the giver as in the case of the widow’s offering].
Note: God does not expect us to give according to what we do not have.
8:13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed [some feared that by giving they might end up in need like the poor believers in Jerusalem], but that there might be equality [in sharing the burden].
8:14 At the present time your plenty [by comparison to those in need, the Corinthians had plenty] will supply what they [Judean Christians] need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need [Corinthians could count on help from others if they encountered difficulties in the future]. Then there will be equality,
8:15 as it is written [Ex. 16:18]: “He who gathered much [manna] did not have too much, and he who gathered little [manna] did not have too little.”
2 Corinthians 8:24
8:24 Therefore show these men [Titus and the two representatives mentioned in 8:16-23] the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you [see 2 Cor. 7:14; 9:1-4], so that the churches [the churches of Macedonia; the churches contributing to the offering] can see it [and therefore be encouraged and motivated by the example].