"Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.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. Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.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. I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.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.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. 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. For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: 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:
As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.
But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you. And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches; 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:Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you. Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow helper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.
Christian Stewardship: “Due Benevolence” through "Due Diligence"
I. “Excel in Giving- Christ is our “ultimate” Example” (verses 1-7)
A. God’s favor on the Churches in Macedonia (vs. 1)
God gave these churches (Philippi, Berea, and Thessalonica) a “Spirit of Benevolence” enabling them to cheerfully give to help the church in Jerusalem. Paul shared this with Corinth in hopes to ignite the same spirit in them to also give.(Acts 16:9; Romans 15:26; Philippians 4:10- 18) Philippi (reportedly) gave the most because they were able to do so. The other churches gave the best they could. And so should it be with us. Some will be able to give more than others but all can give the best they can!
Note: Cheerful giving is an attribute of love that comes from first loving God and second, responding to God’s love and financial appeal. This means that :
(1) It is God's love that triggers a Spirit of Benevolence in a person.
Giving is not naturally in us because we are naturally selfish. God being the author and finisher of our faith plants both His love and the desire to give in our hearts. The Spirit of Benevolence is one of the many effects of his grace as He imparts both grace and mercy upon us. “Benevolence” opens our hearts in love and out of the concern for others, we express that love in our giving.
(2) "Benevolence" is a favor bestowed on a church or a group when God excites the members in her to give, especially in “special” offerings of benevolence to those in desperate need..
Giving is one of the evidences of his love. Giving is a higher proof that we possess the favor of God and the ability to meet the needs of others. The Apostle Paul did not say in a “cold-like” manner that the churches of Macedonia had contributed to this object, but he spoke of it as a favor shown to them by God that they were able to do it. And he meant, to drop the “hint” to the Corinthians that it would be evidence that they were enjoying the favor of God if they gave to this cause in the same manner.
B. Macedonia gave while being persecuted and in much suffering. (vs. 2)
They gave joyfully at a time when they were in dire straits themselves. Instead of focusing on their own needs and their needs were many, Paul said they gave based on their belief in the promises of the Gospel message. (Hebrews 10:34) (Luke 6:38) God’s love will cause you to give to help others even when you are just barely holding on financially yourself. These saints in the churches in Macedonia were constantly under brutal attacks from the Judaizers and the government. many times, their homes were "ramsacked" and their valuables seized by the magistrates, yet their love for Christ and their full belief in the promises of the gospel supercharged their love for the brethren elsewhere. god give them a giving spirit and they were willing to give out of abundance and out of lack. they wanted to help and were willing to share what little they had to help others.Just like they- so should we!
C. Churches in Macedonia Gave beyond Expectation. (vs. 3-7)
They had an attitude to give and did it out of choice and were honored to give. They didn’t have to be begged to do it. How did they do it? (vs. 3)
1. They gave themselves to the Lord first. (vs.4)
2. Then, accepting that all that they possessed was from the Lord, they submitted themselves under Paul’s ministerial authority and did what they were asked to do by the way of collection. (vs. 5) SO….
3. We sent Titus to collect the offering you are willing to give. We pray that you give liberally and not let those who are poverty stricken out give you. (vs. 6)
4. As you are rich in spiritual things: faith, love utterance, knowledge, and all diligence, show your love and prosperity by giving to this cause. (vs. 7)
II. An Appeal and Opportunity: “Prove your Love”. (verses 8-15)
“Testing” your love (vs. 8)
A. Jesus Christ: Our Example: He was rich, but became poor for our sakes that we might become rich through His poverty. (vs. 9)
Note: Jesus, The possessor, as he was the creator, of the heavens and the earth; for our sakes became poor, that is He emptied himself, and made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and humbled himself unto death, even the death of the cross; that we, through his poverty-through his humiliation and death, might be rich that is, we might regain our forfeited inheritance, and be enriched with every grace of his Holy Spirit, and brought at last to his eternal glory.
B. It’s to your advantage to finish what you started: You had a readiness of mind to do this first. It’s based on what you have, not what you don’t have it.
C. Sometimes, it’s not that some are not willing, they simply don’t have it. If they had it they would certainly give it. Give in abundance so when you lack, they who now have will give in the same manner you did when you had it. (vs. 10-15) You are not doing this to impoverish yourself so others can live “high on the hog”.
D. As it is written, "He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack."*
III. Concerning Titus: The Collection (offering) to the Judean Saints (verses 16- 24)
A. Titus had already been given the initiative to collect an offering, Paul thanks God who had already disposed the heart of Titus to attend to this business; and, with his usual address, considers all this as done in the behalf of the Corinthian church; and that though the poor Christians in Judea are to have the immediate benefit, yet God put honor upon them in making them his instruments in supplying the wants of others. He who is as almoner to God Almighty is highly honored indeed. (vs. 16-17)
B. We sent “the Brother” along with Titus (verses 18-19)
Whose praise is well known throughout the churches (Luke ?)
(Taken from Barnes commentary Notes)
It has been generally supposed that this anonymous brother was Luke. Some have supposed however that it was Mark, others that it was Silas or Barnabas. It is impossible to determine with certainty who it was; nor is it material to know. Whoever it was, it was someone well known, in whom the church at Corinth could have entire confidence. It is remarkable that though Paul mentions him again (2 Corinthians 12:18), he does it also in the same manner, without specifying his name. The only circumstances that can throw any light on this are:
(1) That Luke was the companion and intimate friend of Paul, and attended him in his travels. From Acts 16:10-11, where Luke uses the term "we," it appears that he was with Paul when he first went into Macedonia, and from Acts 16:15 it is clear that he went with Paul to Philippi. From Acts 17:1, where Luke alters his style and uses the term "they," it is evident that he did not accompany Paul and Silas when they went to Thessalonica, but either remained at Philippi or departed to some other place. He did not join them again until they went to Troas on the way to Jerusalem; Acts 20:5. In what manner Luke spent the interval is not known. Supposedly, it might have been in multiplying copies of his gospel for the use of the churches. Perhaps also he might have been engaged in preaching, and in services like that in the case before us.
(2) It seems probable that Luke is the person referred to by the phrase "whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches." This would be more likely to be applied to one who had written a gospel, or a life of the Redeemer that had been extensively circulated, than to any other person. Still it is by no means certain that he is the person here referred to, nor is it of material consequence. Luke was well known and highly esteemed. In some way he was celebrated for making known the truths of the gospel.
C. This Brother was Chosen by the (Jerusalem) church to travel with Paul many times.
He was chosen by the churches. Many concurred in the choice, showing that they had entire confidence in him. Paul had been unwilling to have charge of this contribution alone (1 Corinthians 16:3-4; compare 2 Corinthians 8:20), and he had procured the appointment of someone to undertake it. Probably he expected that the church at Corinth would concur in this appointment. WHY?
1. Avoiding Accusations (vs. 20-22)
The “accusation” that we were guilty of “filthy lucre” that is, misusing collected money for our personal use instead of the reason it was collected.
Our conduct in handling church money and the church business in the appropriate way will be “above board” and not “under the table”.
3. Track Record
“Our Brother” is well known and well respected by all parties involved and is above reproach
IV. Concerning Titus: “Inquiry” What about Him? (verses 23-24)
A. He’s My (Paul’s) partner and fellow helper
He helps me fully minister to you. He preaches and also helps me organize and establish churches. (Titus 1:5)
B. The Brethren with him also are messengers (couriers) “Administrative Assistants”
They help conduct the churches administrative business
C. All of them are Christians and they conduct business and live their lives in a “Christ-like manner.”
D. When they all get there, show them how much you love God, me (Paul) and the “cause” of the gospel that my “bragging” of you was not in vain. That I really did understand your true character in Christ Jesus, that you were willing and ready to show Christian benevolence in your giving to this cause.
Dr. William Edward Boddie