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Thursday, November 16 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai


In the last study we saw Paul encouraging the Corinthian church to give generously. We learnt that to be generous is by God’s grace; especially when we are facing difficulties ourselves! It is however a known truth that when it comes to handling monies; especially those given for a particular cause, accountability is key! Because quite easily, allegations of mishandling of funds could arise. That is why in today’s world, a charity organization would employ an independent body that would assess its fiscal accountability and apply objective standards to its handling of donations. In this way donors can be assured that all monies are being appropriately managed. But what about the first century? How could a donor be certain that his contribution would not end up merely lining the pockets of an administrator? And what kind of assurances did a fundraiser give prospective contributors that their donations would be handled in a responsible fashion?

Reading through these 9 verses, we learn of the precautions Paul; a first-century fundraiser took to ensure the responsible handling and transportation of a considerable sum of money.


Verses 16 – 17 – Same Goal, Same Vision, Same Purpose

“But thanks be to God who puts the same genuine concern for you in the heart of Titus.  17 For Titus not only accepted our appeal, but was so very interested in you that he has gone to visit you of his own accord.” 

The first time, Titus had to be encouraged to go to Corinth (7:13-14). This time no encouragement was needed. Paul made his appeal and to his surprise, Titus welcomed it (v. 17). That Titus would welcome a visit so soon after returning from Corinth is surprising indeed. In part this is due to the church's warm reception and obedient response on his last visit. But it can also be attributed to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern for the Corinthians that Paul himself has (v. 16). Besides eagerly accepting the idea of a return visit to Corinth, Titus is coming on his own initiative (on his own accord) (v. 17).


Verses 18 – 19 – Steer Clear but Engage People with Character

“And we have sent along with him the brother who is praised in the gospel [ministry] throughout all the churches; 19 and not only this, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us in regard to this gracious offering which we are administering for the glory of the Lord Himself, and to show our eagerness [as believers to help one another].” 

In addition to a trusted colleague, Paul sends two church representatives of proven worth and recognized stature to help Titus with the collection effort. The first is merely referred to in the text as the brother (v. 18); no name is provided. But where a name is lacking, credentials are not. To the brother's credit is the fact that he was chosen by the churches to accompany the offering (v. 19).

This brother is also someone who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel (v. 18). Although praised by all the churches could be understood provincially (all the churches in Macedonia), the phrase could also point to someone who was highly regarded by all the Gentile churches contributing to the fund. Regardless, his fame shows that he is more than a local church leader. What he is famous for is his service to the gospel. The Greek text is literally "praised in the gospel" and may well indicate that he is an evangelist of some renown.


Verses 20 – 21– Give No Room for Suspicion

“We are taking precaution so that no one will [find anything with which to] discredit us in our administration of this generous gift.  21 For we have regard for what is honorable [and above suspicion], not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” 

You will recall that Paul had already insisted that the collection occur prior to his coming, so that he not be involved in the actual handling of the monies (1 Cor. 16:2). And here we see him taking extra precautions. Such advance planning was needed to avoid any criticism of the way the offering was being administered (v. 20). Paul tries to have as little to do with the collection process as possible. In this way he hopes to eliminate any possibility of criticism (v. 20). The extra care that Paul takes is understandable. His critics were quick enough to suggest that the collection was merely a covert way of receiving financial support (Read 2 Cor. 12:16-18).

Paul was usually concerned with doing what is right in God's eyes rather than human eyes--especially since God's way and humankind's way are often in conflict. Here he takes the additional step of taking into consideration what is right in the eyes of others (v. 21). What this amounted to was making sure that everything not only was above suspicion (right . . . in the eyes of the Lord) but also looked so (right . . . in the eyes of men). Why? Because life and ministry are inseparable. There will always be those who judge the claims of Christ by the lives of those who claim to be his followers. If the conduct of the fundraiser can be faulted, then the gospel itself can be called into question. Not only this, but God's reputation can be damaged. The ultimate purpose of the collection was to honor the Lord (literally, "to advance the glory of the Lord"; v. 20); an aim that could hardly be accomplished if any suspicion is attached to the collection process.

The steps that Paul had already taken to avoid criticism are spelled out in 1 Corinthians. For one, he had insisted that the collection occur prior to his coming, so that he not be involved in the actual handling of the monies (1 Cor. 16:2). Moreover, he had instructed the Corinthians to appoint their own representatives to accompany the collection, thereby exempting himself from any criticism regarding the transportation of the funds (1 Cor. 16:3). Now, in 2 Corinthians Paul adds an additional precaution: he sends a trusted colleague to finish the collection effort, rather than going himself: Titus . . . is coming to you (2 Cor. 8:17). This trusted colleague is well respected by the Corinthians and has already established a good working relationship with the church in the matter of giving (8:6).


Verses 22 – 24 – You Can Never Be Too Careful – Involve All Relevant Parties

“We have sent with them our brother, whom we have often tested and found to be diligent in many things, but who is now even more diligent [than ever] because of his great confidence in you.  23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker in your service; and as for the [other two] brothers, they are [special] [b]messengers of the churches, a glory and credit to Christ.  24 Therefore, show these men, in the sight of the churches, the proof of your love and our reason for being proud of you.”

The second church representative is unnamed as well. This individual, unlike the first, is well known to the congregation: our brother (v. 22). He is distinguished by Paul in two ways. First, he has often proved in many ways that he is zealous (v. 22). Each time, the brother was found zealous). Second, his great confidence in the Corinthians. The language suggests a recent positive encounter with the Corinthians in a ministry capacity.

A summary of the credentials of the three individuals is provided in verse 23. Titus is distinguished as Paul's partner and fellow worker. By virtue of his apostolic standing, he could legitimately have treated Titus as a subordinate. Instead he dealt with him as a partner and companion. Titus is Paul's personally appointed representative. The other two brothers are designated representatives of the churches.

The two brothers are also distinguished as an honor to Christ. Nowhere else are individuals referred to in this way. The phrase is literally "the glory of Christ." The two brothers and Titus raise the total that Paul sends in advance of his arrival to three persons. Would Titus alone not have sufficed? His ministerial abilities and affection for the Corinthians seem to be very much in evidence. Yet although Titus had had some success with the collection on his previous visit, it had not been enough to spur the Corinthians on to completion. In addition, Titus is Paul's colleague and representative, and there are now intruders on the scene raising doubts about the offering. So there is real value in sending persons who are not directly connected with the Pauline mission. Also, by sending two representatives of congregations that had already given, Paul can place a subtle pressure on Corinth to match the efforts of the other Gentile churches. Then too, the two delegates serve to guarantee the legitimacy of the endeavor. Their presence shows that the collection effort is not just Paul raising personal funds for himself and his colleagues.



Paul concludes by exhorting the Corinthians to do two things. They are to show these men their love and to demonstrate the reason for [Paul's] pride in them.

By showing Titus and the delegates their love, the Corinthians in turn demonstrate the reason for Paul's pride in them. He has been confidently boasting about them to the Macedonian churches (2 Corinthians 9:2). They are now called on to justify his boasting by fulfilling their pledge from the year before. And they are to do it so that the churches can see it--that is, the Corinthians are challenged to act as if the churches, and not just their delegates, were there to watch.

This study was culled from:

Monday, November 06 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai


In last week’s study titled “Paul Reveals His Heart – Titus’ Good Report” we learnt about the believer’s responsibility as it relates to walking in holiness, and humility being one of the attributes of a godly leader and that leaders were not exempted from real life issues – conflicts and occasional fears; but in all of it, God sends His comfort. In today’s study we shall be looking at Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians to give generously



Now, brothers and sisters, we want to tell you about the grace of God which has been evident in the churches of Macedonia [awakening in them a longing to contribute]; 2 for during an ordeal of severe distress, their abundant joy and their deep poverty [together] overflowed in the wealth of their lavish generosity.”


Paul begins with an example of sacrificial giving by referencing the churches in Macedonia. The churches of Macedonia had been planted by Paul on his second missionary journey--Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea. Paul points to the fact that their generosity was due to the grace that God has bestowed on them. That despite adverse conditions, God has enabled the Macedonians to financially assist destitute Christians whom they did not personally know. The Macedonians make it absolutely clear that our stewardship does not depend upon our circumstances. It depends upon the quality of our relationship with Jesus Christ. We give because He first gave to us His amazing grace.

In this type of giving, there is no pressure on the giver. There is no public display, no competition and no manipulation of the givers. It is honest, open, transparent and genuine giving from the heart.

The apostle Paul had already taught the Corinthians some great principles of stewardship as we see in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. "Now, concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come"

  • They gave methodically. Paul instructed them to give "on the first day of every week." It was periodic giving. The church received the gifts every Lord's day.
  • They gave personally. It was a personal privilege and responsibility to give. "Let each one of you" give.
  • They gave regularly. They were to "put aside and save." You will never give consistently unless God comes first. When you give Him His part first, before the house note, car notes, even food, you will give as a gift of grace.
  • They gave impartially. They gave as God caused them to prosper. Each person gave "as he may prosper." They gave in proportion to what they had.
  • They gave confidentially. Paul wanted them to take the offering before he came, so "no collection be made when I come." He did not want a big show. He didn't want to make a contest out of it. Do it privately so that when I get there we can concentrate on other matters. It is an act of grace. Do it methodically, individually, regularly, impartially and with confidentiality. It is a matter of the heart. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
    It is easy to see how wealth can well up in generous giving. But how is it possible for extreme poverty to overflow in a wealth of liberality? Verses 3-5 provide the explanation.
    "For, as I can bear witness, [they gave] according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability; and [they did it] voluntarily." 4 begging us insistently for the privilege of participating in the service for [the support of] the saints [in Jerusalem].  5 Not only [did they give materially] as we had hoped, but first they gave themselves to the Lord and to us [as His representatives] by the will of God [disregarding their personal interests and giving as much as they possibly could].  [AMP]
    So, how is it possible?
    First, it is because the Macedonians gave not just as much as they were able (literally "according to their ability") but beyond (v. 3). The sense is that they determined what they could comfortably contribute and then went beyond this figure.
    Second, what they gave, they gave entirely on their own (v. 3). In essence, the Macedonians were not pressured into giving. They gave willingly. In fact, they urgently pleaded to be involved (v. 4). Finally, the Macedonian generosity was possible because they gave themselves first to the Lord and only then to Paul (v. 5). Their preeminent concern was how best to serve Christ. It is here that they exceeded Paul's expectations. They gave out of their poverty because of the sincerity of their commitment to Christ as Lord. So great was their desire to serve Christ that they would not allow their economic situation to keep them from being involved in the Lord's work. This is why Paul describes the collection as a service (v. 4). It is not just a financial obligation. It is a ministry opportunity to the saints (v. 4) - those set apart to be God's possession
    " So we urged Titus that, as he began it, he should also complete this gracious work among you as well. 7 But just as you excel in everything, [and lead the way] in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in genuine concern, and in your love for us, see that you excel in this gracious work [of giving] also. 8 I am not saying this as a command [to dictate to you], but to prove, by [pointing out] the enthusiasm of others, the sincerity of your love as well. 9 For you are recognizing [more clearly] the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [His astonishing kindness, His generosity, His gracious favor], that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich (abundantly blessed). [AMP]
    The Corinthians had made a previous commitment to help in "the support of the saints" in Jerusalem. Following from 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. They said they would do their part to relieve the suffering of the believers. It was Titus, who encouraged their giving in the first place, so Paul urged him to visit them and encourage them to complete their share in this ministry of giving. Paul commends the Corinthians reminding them that God has blessed them abundantly (v. 7). They excelled in everything, leading the way. They had faith, utterance, knowledge, all earnestness and love. Now it was time to demonstrate it by showing their love to the Lord by capitalizing on the opportunity to give. In these verses the apostle uses several cogent arguments to stir up the Corinthians to this good work of giving. He urges upon them the consideration of their eminence in other gifts and graces, and would have them excel in this of giving also, v. 7. Most people love to be complimented, especially when we ask a gift of them for ourselves or others; it is only just natural that we give commendation to whom God’s grace shines always and not only when something is required from them.
    The best way to determine the sincerity of our love for God is when people are given the option to choose to give; not commanded to. Paul wanted to motivate them by the sincerity of their love for the Lord to give (v. 8). Because we do not have to be commanded to give before we give. In verse 9, you get the feeling as if Paul was saying: “Now if you think these Macedonian churches are an excellent example of the stewardship of grace, let me show you an even greater example of Jesus!” He didn’t give out of poverty but became poor so we can be rich!
    " 10 I give you my opinion in this matter: this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to take action [to help the believers in Jerusalem], but also [the first] to desire to do it.  11 So now finish this, so that your eagerness in desiring it may be equaled by your completion of it, according to your ability.  12 For if the eagerness [to give] is there, it is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” [AMP]
    Paul then proceeds to encourage them to finish what they started; their good purposes, and their forwardness to begin this good work. Good purposes, indeed, are good things; they are like buds and blossoms, pleasant to behold, and give hopes of good fruit; but they are lost, and signify nothing, without performances. Akin to Faith without Works!
    So good beginnings are amiable; but we shall lose the benefit unless there be perseverance, and we bring forth fruit to perfection. Seeing therefore the Corinthians had shown a readiness to will, he would have them be careful also in the performance, according to their ability. This willing mind is accepted (v. 12), when accompanied with sincere endeavors. When men purpose that which is good, and endeavor, according to their ability, to perform also, God will accept of what they have, or can do, and not reject them for what they have not, and what is not in their power to do: and this is true as to other things besides the work of giving.
    The MSG version says:
    “So here’s what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart’s been in the right place all along. You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t. The heart regulates the hands.
    13 For it is not [intended] that others be relieved [of their responsibility] and that you be burdened [unfairly], but that there be equality [in sharing the burden]—  14 at this present time your surplus [over necessities] is going to supply their need, so that [at some other time] their surplus may be given to supply your need, that there may be equality; 15 as it is written [in Scripture], “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not lack.” [AMP]
    The MSG version says:
    “This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even. As it is written, nothing left over to the one with the most, nothing lacking to the one with the least.”
    It is important to note here that Paul’s mission was to motivate the Corinthian church by comparing attitudes, not monetary amounts. It is the Macedonians' joyful, willing and earnest attitude that is set before the Corinthians, not the size of their contribution.
    Finally, Paul is quick to point out that generous giving is an act of divine grace (8:1). It is only as God blesses and enables that we are able to give in the first place.
    Parts of this study was culled from:

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