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Thursday, November 16 2017

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

Introduction:

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.

 

Conclusion

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: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/2Cor/Paul-Sends-Team-Advance-Coming

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 01:36 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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