2Corinthians 8-9

Sunday Evening Bible Study

July 23, 2000


The subject of “giving” and “money” is certainly one of the things that drive people away from church.

There are the churches that are always pumping their people for money.  They have their “thermometers” in front of the sanctuary, reminding people how much the church is running short.  They send people over to your house to get you to promise to give so much a year to them.

But we have to be careful that we don’t go too far overboard the other way, beginning to think that it’s unspiritual to even talk about money, let alone giving, in the church.

The next two chapters are all about giving.  And as you read it, you might even get to thinking that Paul is putting a bit of pressure on the Corinthians too.

As much as I hate to say it, one of the reasons people are turned off to talk about giving in church is simply because they are too in love with their money.  They want to spend it only on themselves.

It’s important that we have a healthy view about our money.

Historical Context

The situation:  The folks back in Jerusalem had run into hard times financially.  Paul was collecting contributions from the Gentile churches to help these brethren out.

(1 Cor 16:1-3 NLT)  Now about the money being collected for the Christians in Jerusalem: You should follow the same procedures I gave to the churches in Galatia. {2} On every Lord's Day, each of you should put aside some amount of money in relation to what you have earned and save it for this offering. Don't wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once. {3} When I come I will write letters of recommendation for the messengers you choose to deliver your gift to Jerusalem.

Paul told the Corinthians to start taking collections for the church in Jerusalem.

Note:  This is a collection for another group.  Paul isn’t asking for himself or “his church”.

2Corinthians 8

:1  Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

wit – to know

churches of Macedonia - Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea.

grace - charis - objectively, that which causes favourable regard, gracefulness, grace, loveliness of form, graciousness of speech; subjectively, on the part of the giver, grace, graciousness, kindness, goodwill, favor; of the divine favour, grace, with emphasis on its freeness and universality; on the part of the receiver, a sense of favour received, thanks, gratitude.

Charis is also the root for one of the Greek words for “gift” (charisma).

In 2Corinthians 8-9, the word charis is found 10 times!

2Co 8:1  Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace <5485> of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

2Co 8:4  Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift <5485>, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

2Co 8:6  Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace <5485> also.

2Co 8:7  Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace <5485> also.

2Co 8:9  For ye know the grace <5485> of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

2Co 8:16  But thanks <5485> be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.

2Co 8:19  And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace <5485>, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:

2Co 9:8  And God is able to make all grace <5485> abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

2Co 9:14  And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace <5485> of God in you.

2Co 9:15  Thanks <5485> be unto God for his unspeakable gift.


Grace makes grace.

The idea here is that God gives us His grace, and in response, we become “gracious” people.  God demonstrates His giving to us, we give to others.
If you have a problem of giving to people, do you have a problem receiving from the Lord?

:2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

(2 Cor 8:2 NLT)  Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity.

It was their liberality, their graciousness that was wealthy, not necessarily the gift.

The circumstances for their giving weren’t what we’d call ideal.  We sometimes get the idea that the time to give is when you win the Lottery, or get a bonus, or things are going right for you.  Not so here.

:3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

The idea is not that they gave way over and above what they could afford, but the idea is that they knew what they could give, and gave a little more besides.

of their own accord - authairetoi - self chosen, of one’s own accord.

Paul hadn’t pressured them or twisted their arms to get them to give.  They did it on their own.

:4 Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

Can you imagine anybody now a days begging for the opportunity to give money away?  These folks saw it as a privilege to give.

It reminds me of a story about the little boy that gave a gift to his teacher.


Teacher's Day

On a special Teachers’ Day, a kindergarten teacher was receiving gifts from  her pupils.  The florist’s son handed her a gift. She shook it, held it overhead, and  said, “I bet I know what it is, some flowers.” “That’s right”, the boy said,  “but how did you know?”  “Oh, just a wild guess,” she said.  The next pupil was the candy store owner’s daughter. The teacher held her  gift overhead, shook it and said, “I bet I can guess what it is, a box of  candy.”  “That’s right, but how did you know?”, asked the girl.  “Oh, just a wild guess,” the teacher said.  The next gift was from the son of the liquor store owner. The teacher held it  overhead, but it was leaking. She touched a drop of the leakage with her  finger and touched it to her tongue.  Is it wine?” she asked.  “No” the boy replied, obviously delighted that he was the first student to at  least temporarily defy the teacher’s apparent insight.  The teacher repeated the process, touching another drop of the leakage to her  tongue. “Is it champagne?” she asked.  “No,” the clearly delighted boy answered.  Once again the teacher tasted the leakage and finally said, “I give up, what  is it?”  The boy enthusiastically replied, “It’s a puppy!”

fellowship - koinonian - fellowship, communion,

Contribution as outcome of fellowship.  They wanted to “share” in this giving project.

of the ministering - diakonias - the office and work of a deacon, service, ministry.  Giving is one type of ministry.

Robertson - Apparently Paul had been reluctant to press the Macedonians because of their manifest poverty.  They demanded the right to have a share in it.

:5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

by the will of God - thelematos - (from thelo, to will, be willing, wish, desire) will

Before they gave any money, they first gave their hearts to the Lord, and they gave their hearts to Paul.

:6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.

Apparently Titus had gotten the Corinthians started in collecting for this gift for Judea.

:7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

Paul now lists what the Corinthians had going for them

faith - pistei

utterance - logo - word; may refer to the spiritual gifts working in their church, speaking gifts like prophecy, teaching, word of wisdom, etc.

knowledge - gnosei - may be the “word of knowledge”, a spiritual gift.

all diligence - spoude - see 2Cor.7:11, their earnestness to repent, their haste or speed in repentance.

love - agape - see 1Cor.13 where Paul encourages them in love.

grace - chariti – grace.  Giving is a “grace”.  The ability to “give” is from God.

A healthy Christian walk involves your wallet.  A commitment to Christ involves a commitment of your money.

:8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

forwardness - earnestness

Paul is using the earnestness of the Macedonians as a way of testing the earnestness of the Corinthians.  He wasn’t commanding them to give to the poor in Jerusalem, but if they did, it would show that their love for Jerusalem was legitimate.

:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

Jesus’ example of giving (charis).  This is a beautiful summary of the gospel.

He was rich

For our sake He became poor

So we might become rich in Him

With an example like this, we need to be careful to evaluate our excuses that we come up with when we are faced with an opportunity to give and we don’t.

:10 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago.

Paul wrote them a year ago (1Cor.16), and they not only started to do it, they actually wanted to also.

:11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.

of that which ye haveek tou echein - lit. “out of the having”, or “out of what you can give”.  Paul isn’t trying to get them to mortgage their houses to give to this offering.

Finish what you start.

:12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.

it is accepted - euprosdektos - acceptable.

As long as you’re ready with your gift, that’s all that counts.  It doesn’t matter how much you’ve put away to give, it’s whether you’re ready to give it.  It’s the fact that you have a gift, not how much.

(Luke 21:1-4 NLT)  While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people putting their gifts into the collection box. {2} Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two pennies. {3} "I assure you," he said, "this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. {4} For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has."

:13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:

Paul’s trying to say that this collection isn’t just so that some people back in Jerusalem can get fat while you go without dinner, it’s for the sake of evening things out.

(2 Cor 8:13 NLT)  Of course, I don't mean you should give so much that you suffer from having too little. I only mean that there should be some equality.

:14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:

For now, the Corinthians have some funds to help out the folks in Jerusalem.  They ought to do it.  Perhaps later the folks in Jerusalem can help the Corinthians in some way.

:15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.

Quote is from Ex.16

(Exo 16:16-18 KJV)  This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. {17} And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. {18} And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.

This was about the gathering of manna in the wilderness.  God provided equally for each family’s needs.  If it was a large family, the man gathered a lot, if a small family, he gathered less.  But everybody’s needs were met.


Lessons in Giving:

1.  Give in times of affliction and poverty. (8:2)
2.  Give according to your ability, maybe a little more. (8:3)
3.  Give of your own free will. (8:3)
4.  Give yourself to God first.  (8:5)
5.  Intentions to give aren’t much good without doing it. (8:11)
6.  Don’t put yourself into debt to give (8:13)

:16 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.

Here, literally, “grace be to God”

:17 For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.

forward – earnestness, diligence

of his own accord

Titus didn’t need to be asked. He went on his own decision. I like it when people see a need and seek to fill it without having to be asked.

:18 And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;

praise – “fame”

Who is Paul talking about?

Some think it is Luke.
I think it very ironic that Paul on one hand says how this brother has “fame”, yet doesn’t tell us his name.

:19 And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:

chosen of the churchesLit. - to vote by stretching out the hand; to appoint.  In other words, the churches did the choosing, not Paul.  This adds to Paul’s financial responsibility.  Paul doesn’t go through the churches collecting funds and then disappears without any accountability.

:20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:

Paul avoided the things that would cause scandal.

Paul was a financially responsible person.

It is important for a church, for any ministry to handle their money in an open, responsible way. I think its best if the pastor has as little to do with the money as possible. 

Note Paul’s method of being responsible:  

To send two people to handle the money.  They were to handle it out in the open, not behind closed doors.  The finances were to be above reproof. 

:21 Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

Lit. - “we are providing for that which is ethically right, not only to the Lord, but also to men”

It isn’t good enough to say that you are accountable to God and only God.  What good is it going to do your credibility if you say God holds you accountable, but nobody can tell if you’re telling the truth.

2Corinthians 9

:2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.

The Corinthians had begun a year earlier to collect funds for Jerusalem.

:3 Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:

Paul had sent Titus to make sure that they were ready.

:4 Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.

Q.  Did any Macedonians come with Paul to Corinth?

Yes, Sopater, Aristarchus, and Secundus were of Macedonia, and were traveling with Paul at that time (Acts 20:1-5)

Q.  Did everything come out okay?  Was Paul embarrassed?

Romans 15:26-27 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.  It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.

Everything came out just fine, Paul wasn’t embarrassed by their offering.

:5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up before hand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.

Paul uses an abundance of verbs here that have the preposition “before” (pro) tacked on the front.

Lit. - “So I thought it necessary to encourage the brethren that they would go before to you and arrange  beforehand your before-promised gift...”

Paul’s trying to get the point across that they’re late with the gift.  He’s rubbing it in their face.

I also think it important to think here how Paul wanted the collection all taken care of before he got there.  I don’t think it’s the pastor’s place to stand and watch over the people to make sure they give enough.

:6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

bountifully - lit. “blessingly” (eulogiais)

Paul is using physical, agricultural principles that apply to spiritual things.

You will reap proportionally to how much you have sown. (2Cor.9:6)

Here in 2Cor., Paul is saying that the amount you sow will affect the amount you reap.

If you plant two wheat kernels, don’t expect to reap ten acres of wheat.
If you want to reap much from the Lord, then you need to give much.
It’s much bigger than just money.  How much of yourself are you giving to the Lord?

Keep in mind, Paul is talking about money here.

There is truth here.  Remember the context, Paul is talking about taking up a collection for the poor in Jerusalem.

The pitfall is when we try to take principles like this and use them in a fleshly way, like trying to become rich.

(1 Tim 6:10 KJV)  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Back to our principle, it is important that we learn to not hold on to our money too tightly.

The more you give to others, the more you’ll find others giving to you.

If you are having a rough time financially, you may need to check and see if you are giving freely to others.  That’s not the only possibility, there are many others (you lack self-control, God is testing your faith...etc.). 

I know some of the larger churches have a policy when people come and ask for financial assistance that they will have the tithe records checked to see if the person has contributed to the church.  This may hit you funny, but the idea is to weed out the people who are just there to get an easy check without working like the rest of us do.

:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Four words to circle here.  This verse is the New Testament guide to giving.

1.  purposethproeretai - perf.mid.ind. proaireo - to bring forth, forward; in mid., to take by choice, prefer, propose, to choose beforehand.  Only here.  Lit.  “Let each one do just as he has chosen before and still desires to do...”

The New Testament standard of giving is that of giving from your own free will.
I think it’s also interesting to note that it’s what you have purposed in your heart, not your mind.  It’s not giving what you “know you ought to give”, but it’s “giving what you feel is right”.
God desires us to give from the heart, not necessarily the mind.

2.  not grudgingly - lupes; pain of body or mind, grief, sorrow; the opposite of joy.  We might call it a “pain in the pocketbook”.  There is also an implied command here (use of me), “Do not give grudgingly”. 

It’s not the actual amount that causes some people pain, it’s the fact that they have to give up something of their own.
Have you ever had a person give you a gift, then complain how much it hurts them to give it up?  Just keep it!
Giving grudgingly comes from pride and selfishness.  When we think we have a right to keep all that God has given us for our own use, then we’re headed for “grudgingly”.

3.  not of necessity - anagkes; Necessity, to be compelled, of necessity; force, violence.  As if it were like pulling eye-teeth.  Implied command here also.  When the preacher says, “You must give or God’s work will stop”, then don’t!  The idea of not giving under compulsion is to give spontaneously, without having to be told.

A healthy church will beg to give, not be begged to give.
Does this mean that anyone in ministry who asks for or even mentions money is a “false teacher”?
No.  The whole passage we’re dealing with is Paul asking the Corinthians to give.   There is nothing wrong in asking people to give or in letting people know of needs.  The problem is in the pressure tactics.

4.  a cheerful giver - hilaron; cheerful, joyful (hilarious). Found only here in N.T.  It can also be translated “glad”.  Used of daylight, songs, messages, and especially people (in other sources).  LXX uses it for “cheerful countenance” or the “favor” of a ruler.  It is the opposite of grumbling.

Isn’t it sad that in some churches the most somber point of the worship service is when the plate is passed during the offering.
I think that we could change the name of the Agape Box in the back of the auditorium to the Hilarious Box.

:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

A common worry we face when thinking about giving is, “Will there be enough for me?”  The answer is yes! (Phil.4:10-19)

:11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.



Before children: I was thankful to have been born the USA, the most powerful free democracy in the world.

After Children: I am thankful for Velcro tennis shoes. As well as saving valuable time, now I can hear the sound of my son  taking off his shoes --which gives me three extra seconds to activate the safety locks on the back seat windows right before he hurls them out of the car and onto the freeway.

Before children: I was thankful for the recycling program which will preserve our natural resources and prevent the overloading of landfills.

After children: I am thankful for swim diapers because every time my son wanders into water in plain disposables, he ends up wearing a blimp the size of, say, New Jersey, on his bottom.

Before children: I was thankful for fresh, organic vegetables.

After children: I am thankful for microwaveable macaroni and cheese -- without which my children would be surviving on about three bites of cereal and their own spit.

Before children: I was thankful for holistic medicine and natural herbs.

After children: I am thankful for pediatric cough syrup guaranteed to "cause drowsiness" in young children.

Before children: I was thankful for a warm, cozy home to share with my loved ones.

After children: I am thankful for the lock on the bathroom door.

Before children: I was thankful for material objects like custom furniture, a nice car and trendy clothes.

After children: I am thankful when the baby spits up and misses my good shoes.

:12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;

Paul is saying that he is really excited not just because some hungry people are going to be fed, but even more exciting is that a sacrifice of thanksgivings will be given to God because of this work.

:13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;

(2 Cor 9:13 NLT)  You will be glorifying God through your generous gifts. For your generosity to them will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.

distributionkoinonias; sharing, fellowship, etc. Word also used in 2Cor.8:4, translated as “participation” or “fellowship”.

I wonder how well we really understand this word “fellowship”.  

Here the Corinthians could “fellowship” with the poor saints in Jerusalem by helping them financially. 

:14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.

:15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

I think it’s neat that Paul brings us back to a healthy perspective on giving here.

It is God who has taught us how to give.

He gave His only begotten Son.
He 1)purposed in His heart to do it, 2) He didn’t give Jesus for us grudgingly, 3) Nobody twisted God’s arm to do it, 4) He did it cheerfully.