During his third missionary journey, Apostle Paul organized a collection of funds for the poor people in the Jerusalem Church. He had collected money for the impoverished believers in Jerusalem from many of the Asian Churches–-such as the Churches in Macedonia, Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea (see Romans 15:25-27). Previously, he had instructed the Corinthian Church to also collect money for the believers in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-4). In response, the Corinthians had begun the collection (2 Corinthians 8:10; 9:1, 2), and now Paul pressed home to them the urgency of completing the task, urging them to finish it (2 Corinthians 9:5).
In this passage (2 Corinthians 8:1-15), Paul explained and defended his beliefs about giving. The apostle was not shy about asking for money as he urged the Corinthian Church to give generously and follow through on their previous commitment. His great tact with the Corinthians should be noted in verse 1.
As incentives for completing the collection, Paul first presented them with an illustration of admirable generosity–the giving of the Churches in Macedonia. He commended the unselfish example of the Macedonians to the Corinthians (verses 1-7). Though they were poor themselves, the Church in Macedonia wanted to help; they had sacrificially given more than Paul expected. According to Paul:
- These people gave during affliction–verse 2.
- They gave in spite of great poverty–verse 2.
- They gave with great joy–verse 2.
- They gave beyond their means–verse 3.
- They gave freely–verse 3.
- They pleaded for the privilege of sharing their wealth with other believers–verse 4.
- They gave themselves to the Lord and to others–verse 5.
Paul also referred to Jesus’ example of self-giving in 2 Corinthians 8:8-9. Here, he gives major teaching on giving and Christian economics: first, Christians are to follow Christ in giving freely; second, economic equality is the principle governing who gives to whom. His intent in urging the Corinthians to take part in the offering was to allow their plenty to offset the poverty of the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:14). Obviously, this collection was both an act of charity (cf. Acts 11:27-30; Galatians 2:10) and a symbolic act of unity and fellowship between the Gentile and Jewish branches of the Church.
In this context (that is, 2 Corinthians 8:7-15), the principles of the collection are that:
- First, the Corinthians should follow the example of our Lord Jesus, who became poor for them.
- Second, they should give freely what they can without regretting that they cannot give more, for God values the eagerness to give expressed in action, not the net amount of the gift; and
- Third, there should be an economic equality among sections of the Church–no one section being enriched at the expense of another (cf. Exodus 16: 18). This economic equality extends to the relationship between two Churches a continent apart.
Overall, the New Testament principles for giving that can be found in 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 includes but not limited to the following:
- Right giving demonstrates God’s grace – verse 1.
- Joy and poverty overflow by grace giving – verse 2.
- Give according to and beyond your ability – verse 3.
- Genuine giving must be of one’s own free will, voluntarily – verse 3.
- It is a favor or benefit to be able to give – verse 4.
- Giving is a way of participating in the ministry with others – verse 4.
- Give self first to the Lord, self to spiritual leaders, and money to Church – verse 5.
- Follow through and finish the giving that you began – verse 6. ·Giving is a grace work – verse 7
- Giving is a normal and desirable activity for every believer – verses 6, 7, 10
- Giving demonstrates divine love – verse 8
- Christ demonstrated grace giving – verse 9
- Follow through and complete the giving you began, but based upon your ability – v. 11
- There must be willingness or a readiness – verse 12
- Giving is based on what you have or ability – verse 12
- Giving is a way to support a part of the Church that lacks material needs – verses 13-14
See Ilumina Encyclopedia; Spokane Bible Church: Principles for Grace Giving
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