Evening Bible Study
Paul had spent nearly three years in Ephesus, during which he wrote his first
letter to the Corinthians.
Paul’s stay in Ephesus ended abruptly when a riot broke out in the city
because of how the Christian revival was affecting the business of those who
After the riot, Paul headed up north to Macedonia.
The year is AD 56, almost a year after Paul had written his first letter to
At this point in the letter, Paul is going to shift gears and talk about money.
He is going to talk about money for the entire next two chapters.
Some of us don’t like to talk about money in the church. We struggle because churches seem to be
constantly pressuring people to give more and more money.
There were 2 men shipwrecked on this island. One started screaming and
yelling, “We’re going to die! We’re going to die! There’s no food! No water!
We’re going to die!” The second man was propped up against a palm tree, so calm
it drove the 1st man crazy. “Don’t you understand? We’re going to die”! The 2nd
man replied,” You don’t understand, I make $100,000 a week” The 1st man looked
at him quite dumbfounded & asked, “What difference does that make? We’re on
an island with no food & no water. We’re going to DIE!!!” The second
answered, “You just don’t get it, I make $100,000 a week & I tithe on that
$100,000 a week. My pastor will find me!”
In our passage, Paul’s reason to talk to the Corinthians about money is not
because he’s low on funds, and not because he wants to buy the latest chariot, but
it’s to encourage them to give to his project of helping the people of
Jerusalem, who were being ravaged by a famine.
8:1-7 Macedonian Giving
:1 Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on
the churches of Macedonia:
:1 the grace of God
grace – charis – that which
affords joy, pleasure, delight; good will, loving-kindness, favor
This is going to be a key word for the next two chapters.
It occurs 7 times in chapter 8.
It occurs 3 more times in chapter 9.
It is usually translated “grace”, but it is also translated “gift” (8:4,
19) and “thanks” (9:15).
It’s important to remember that one of the root concepts behind the word
for “grace” is the idea of a “gift”.
The grace of God is all about what God gives us, freely, without any
:1 the churches of Macedonia
Video: Macedonia Churches map clip
This would include churches in the cities of Berea, Thessalonica, and
Philippi. We believe Paul is probably
writing from Philippi.
As Paul is sitting in Philippi about to depart for Corinth, he is going to use
the Macedonians as an example of giving for the Corinthians to follow.
:2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their
deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.
:2 the riches of their liberality
liberality – haplotes – simplicity,
sincerity; not self seeking, openness of heart manifesting itself by generosity
Generosity is relative
I think you need to be careful how you quantify the Macedonian “generosity”.
Paul is careful not to specify a dollar amount.
Jesus and the widow’s mite
(Luke 21:1–4 NKJV)
—1 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the
treasury, 2 and He saw
also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that
this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God,
but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
God is more concerned about how your gift relates to your
overall wealth than He is with a specific dollar amount.
If you compared a billionaire who donates $100,000, with
an elderly person living on Social Security who donates $50, which one is the
I don’t think the amount the Macedonians actually donated is necessarily
greater than what the Corinthians would be giving.
The Macedonians were in a much more difficult place.
Conditions for giving
Paul describes three conditions that described the Macedonians when they
were gathering their gifts for Jerusalem.
or, “great trials of affliction”
Sometimes when we are going through great difficulty, we can make it worse
by becoming totally self-absorbed.
All we can think about is our own horrible condition.
The Macedonians learned to dedicate a little of their time/thinking to
or, “abundance of joy”
We will talk next week about how God loves a “cheerful” giver.
Corinthians 9:7 NKJV) So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not
grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
The Macedonians apparently had mastered giving with joy.
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
or, “deep poverty”
Sometimes we can tell ourselves that we will “give” after we’ve won the
They gave when they were at their poorest.
It’s whether or not you are learning to be “other” centered.
:3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and
beyond their ability, they were freely willing,
:3 ability – dunamis – strength,
This is the word used to describe what happens when a person is baptized in
the Holy Spirit.
(Acts 1:8 NKJV) But you
shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be
witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of
Some preachers like to emphasize that we get the word “dynamite” from this
For me, that sounds like images of lightning bolts coming out of a
person. It reminds me of Star Wars when the
evil Emperor does in trying to convert Luke to the “dark side” …
Video: Star Wars – Emperor
I have always like the word “ability” as a better idea. Perhaps the word “dynamic” might be a better
word than “dynamite”.
The Holy Spirit gives us the “ability” to be witnesses, not to be “destroyers”
(like the Star Wars Emperor).
:4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the
fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
:4 imploring us with much urgency
These folks were begging to be allowed to give to the poor in Jerusalem.
:5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to
the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.
:5 they first gave … by the will of God
The first gift
One of the things that made Macedonian giving wonderful was their
They weren’t giving for attention.
They weren’t giving to impress others with their spirituality.
They were focused first on giving themselves to God.
This is one of the reasons we pray in church before we receive the
We want to take the time to intentionally give ourselves to God before we
give anything else.
:6 So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this
grace in you as well.
:6 complete this grace
The “grace” is all about the giving.
When Titus had arrived with the first letter to the Corinthians (ch. 16 on
collections), he was supposed to be nudging the Corinthians along in learning
how to give, to have the “grace” of giving.
:7 But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in
all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace
:7 abound in this grace
The Corinthians seemed to think that they were a notch above the other
When Paul wrote the first letter, he said a bit sarcastically,
(1 Corinthians 1:5
NKJV) that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and
Now Paul challenges them that they have a little further to go, to learn to
excel in the “grace” of giving.
A healthy Christian walk
involves your wallet. A commitment to Christ involves a commitment of your
Martin Luther wrote, “There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of
the heart, mind and the purse.”
8:8-15 Jesus’ Example
:8 I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love
by the diligence of others.
:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was
rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might
:9 the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
There’s that word for grace (charis)
again. Think of it here as the “gift” of
the Lord Jesus. Paul is asking the
Corinthians for a “gift” for Jerusalem.
The Greatest Giver
The greatest giver is God.
No one can be a greater giver than God.
We see this as a wonderful summary of what the “gospel” is all about. This is how we were saved, because of God’s
“gift” to us, because of God’s “grace”.
Jesus was rich
He dwelt in heaven with God.
He became poor
He emptied Himself and took on human flesh.
We became rich
Because He died on a cross, our sins were forgiven, and we
gained the riches of heaven.
Earlier, Paul had expressed it this way:
(2 Corinthians 5:21
NKJV) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we
might become the righteousness of God in Him.
We often like to say,
He paid a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.
Paul now takes this example, the example of how we were saved, and uses it
to remind the Corinthians that if God has given us so much, then we ought to
learn to give to others.
In the movie, “Saving Private Ryan”, a group of soldiers in WWII are sent
out to bring a young Private Ryan (Matt Damon) home from the war because his
brothers were all killed in battle, and he would be allowed to return so his
mother wouldn’t lose all her sons in the war.
When the group of soldiers led by Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) find
Ryan, he isn’t about to abandon his own band of brothers, and they all end up
fighting with him in one last battle.
Captain Miller was killed in that battle.
Video: Saving Private Ryan – Death
of Captain John Miller
Miller’s last words to Ryan were “Earn this”. Others gave their life so he could live. He was encouraging Ryan to not make their
Jesus gave everything for us.
We can never “earn” our salvation, but we ought to live in
a way that brings honor to His sacrifice for us.
Part of that comes in how we learn to give like He gave.
:10 And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing
what you began and were desiring to do a year ago;
:11 but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there
was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a
completion out of what you have.
:10 were desiring to do a year ago
When Paul wrote his first letter a year prior, they had started collecting
funds for the church in Jerusalem.
16:1–3 NKJV) —1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given
orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first
day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as
he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. 3 And when I
come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift
:11 you also must complete the doing of it
Finish what you start
I tend to be a guy with lots of projects laying around that I’ve started,
but haven’t finished.
I have all sorts of excuses.
I get distracted.
But it’s a good feeling to take one of those projects off your “to do”
list, and actually finish it.
Proper, serious giving ought to take much prayer, discussion (with your
spouse), and calculation.
It’s not something you should arrive at impulsively.
When you’ve taken the time to know what you ought to be giving, then you
have to learn how to follow through and finish what you start.
:12 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according
to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.
(2 Corinthians 8:12
NLT) Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give
according to what you have, not what you don’t have.
:12 according to what one has
Not too much
Some people give too much.
They can even get themselves into debt because they give from what they
“don’t have” instead of giving from what they “have”.
As a general rule, you shouldn’t be giving away your rent money, or your
grocery money, of the money you need to pay your bills.
I say “as a general rule” because there may be a time when God is asking
you to step out on faith.
:13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you
:14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may
supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that
there may be equality.
:14 your abundance may supply their lack
For now, the Corinthians
have some funds to help out the folks in Jerusalem.
They ought to do it
because they can.
Perhaps later the folks
in Jerusalem can help the Corinthians in some way.
:15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and
he who gathered little had no lack.”
:15 He who
This is a quote is from Ex.16,
when the people were fed in the wilderness by going out each morning to collect
that mysterious “manna”.
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.
8:16-24 Collection for Judea
:16 But thanks be to God who puts the same earnest care for you into
the heart of Titus.
:16 thanks be to God
The word “thanks” is charis. This could be literally, “But grace be to God
:17 For he not only accepted the exhortation, but being more diligent, he
went to you of his own accord.
:17 went to you of his own accord
Titus didn’t need to be
asked. He went to Corinth because he wanted to go.
I like it when people see
a need and seek to fill it without having to be asked.
He also went in a Honda. An “Accord”
:18 And we have sent with him the brother whose praise is in the
gospel throughout all the churches,
:18 the brother whose praise is…
There was a “famous” brother that would be travelling with Titus to
Some think it was Luke.
The irony is that we don’t know who it was.
Fame might be important to us, but it apparently wasn’t to Paul.
:19 and not only that, but who was also chosen by the churches to
travel with us with this gift, which is administered by us to the glory of the
Lord Himself and to show your ready mind,
:20 avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is
administered by us—
:19 chosen by the churches
The guy travelling with Titus was one who had been chosen by the church,
not by Paul.
This adds a layer of accountability for Paul’s sake.
Paul wasn’t just going through the churches taking up offerings and then
disappearing on a boat to Tahiti.
:21 providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also
in the sight of men.
:22 And we have sent with them our brother whom we have often proved diligent
in many things, but now much more diligent, because of the great confidence
which we have in you.
:23 If anyone inquires about Titus, he is my partner and
fellow worker concerning you. Or if our brethren are inquired about, they
are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.
:24 Therefore show to them, and before the churches the proof of your love
and of our boasting on your behalf.
:24 the proof of your love
Paul is hinting that if they love him, they ought to gather funds for
Jerusalem. Just a little arm twisting.
:21 providing honorable things
Paul is careful to avoid things that could lead to a scandal.
How you handle money is one of those areas.
In banking we called it “dual custody”
Paul is demonstrating financial accountability by entrusting the money to
two people – to Titus as well as the other travelling companion.
We try to be very careful how we handle the money you give to the church.
The offerings are always handled with at least two people present.
It takes two individuals to unlock the Agape box.
Even though Deb does the church’s books (she is an accountant), everything
is reviewed by the Treasurer and the elders.
We have policies over how funds can be spent.
Checks over $200 require two signatures.
I have a spending limit, and everything over that limit has to be approved
by the board of directors (elders).
Every month the board reviews the income and expenses of the church.