2 Corinthians Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern

chapter 8
1. Now, brothers, we must tell you about the grace God has given the congregations in Macedonia.
v. 8:1-10: la The background of these two chapters appealing to the Corinthians to give generously to the brothers in Judea is 1С 16:1 -4&NN. In addition, this section is connected with two themes enunciated elsewhere in this letter — the importance of the Corinthians' not receiving the grace of God in vain (6: Ib-2&N), and Sha'ul's defence of his own ministry (1O:1&N). The occasion for moving into the subject is Macedonia (v. 1). which he began discussing at 7:5.

Sha'ul's fundraising methods have much in common with those of today. But notice that although he has plenty of sekhel about practical matters, he brings everything — the gift itself, the motivations for giving, the remarks about the "fundraising committee," the allusions to the reactions of the recipients, even the "Jewish mother guilt trips" which he lays on the Corinthians — into the service of glorifying God. 

2. Despite severe trials, and even though they are desperately poor, their joy has overflowed in a wealth of generosity.
3. I tell you they have not merely given according to their means, but of their own free will they have given beyond their means.
4. They begged and pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service for God’s people.
5. Also, they didn’t do this in the way we had expected, but first they gave themselves to the Lord, which means, by God’s will, to us.
He stirs up the Corinthians' envy of virtue by presenting the congregations in nearby but competitive Macedonia (v. 1) as a standard of comparison (v. 8). Despite trials and poverty they have been generous beyond their means without being nagged (vv. 2-3). They even pleaded for the privilege of giving (v. 4); further, their giving was not casual but an act of devotion to the Lord (v. 5). 

6. All this has led us to urge Titus to bring this same gracious gift to completion among you, since he has already made a beginning of it.
7. Just as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in diligence of every kind, and in your love for us — see that you excel in this gift too.
8. I am not issuing an order; rather, I am testing the genuineness of your love against the diligence of others.
I Sha'ul's follow-up of his earlier nudging (1С 16:1-4) is to be carried out by an experienced man in the field, Titus (v. 6). Sha'ul again compliments the good qualities of the potential givers (v. 7) but says, in effect, "Put your money where your mouth is" (v. 8). 

9. For you know how generous our Lord Yeshua the Messiah was — for your sakes he impoverished himself, even though he was rich, so that he might make you rich by means of his poverty.
Here is a motivation for giving unique to believers in the Lord Yeshua the Messiah. He was rich, in that he had divine "glory... before the world existed" (Yn 17:5) and was "in the form of God," so that "equality with God" was available to him (Pp 2:6), yet for your sakes he impoverished himself (Pp 2:5-11), so that he might make you rich with the righteousness of God imputed to you. You should imitate his generosity in this more mundane way. 

10. As I say, in regard to this matter I am only giving an opinion. A year ago you were not only the first to take action but the first to want to do so. Now it would be to your advantage
11. to finish what you started, so that your eagerness in wanting to commence the project may be matched by your eagerness to complete it, as you contribute from what you have.
12. For if the eagerness to give is there, the acceptability of the gift will be measured by what you have, not by what you don’t have.
13. It is not that relief for others should cause trouble for you, but that there should be a kind of reciprocity:
14. at present your abundance can help those in need; so that when you are in need, their abundance can help you — thus there is reciprocity.
15. It is as the Tanakh says, "He who gathered much had nothing extra, and he who gathered little had nothing lacking" (Exodus 16:18).
It is tempting to see Sha'ul as a Jewish mother, "only giving an opinion" as he urges mature expression of initial zeal as being to your advantage (vv. 10—11 a). You should not be dissuaded by poverty or by fear thai your gift will be inadequate (vv. 1 lb—12). And relief for others should not cause trouble for you; rather, there should be reciprocity (vv. 13-14), as when the Israelites were in the desert and each gathered just as much manna as he needed (v. 15). 

16. Now I thank God for making Titus as devoted to you as we are;
17. for he not only responded to our urging, but, being so devoted, he is coming to you on his own initiative.
18. And with him we are sending the brother whose work for the Good News is praised in all the congregations;
19. not only that, he has also been appointed by the congregations to travel with us, so that the way we administer this charitable work will bring honor to the Lord and show our eagerness to help.
20. Our aim in this is to show that our conduct in dealing with these substantial sums is above reproach;
21. for we take pains to do what is right not only in the sight of God but also in the sight of other people (Proverbs 3:4 (Septuagint))
One need go no farther than the daily newspaper to read tragic stories of people who fail to make sure that their behavior not only is righteous but is seen by others as righteous. "Abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Th 5:22, KJV). 

22. With these two we are sending another brother of ours, one whose diligence we have tested many times in many ways, but who is now all the more diligent because of his great confidence in you.
23. As for Titus, he is my partner who works with me on your behalf; and the other brothers with him are emissaries of the congregations and bring honor to the Messiah.
24. So the love you show these men will justify our pride in you to them, and through them to the congregations that sent them.
Sha'ul is aware that the purity of charitable work can be clouded by misappropriation of funds and excessive administrative costs. He forestalls such criticism by entrusting these matters to a committee of three with credentials (vv. 16-19,22-23) and conduct that are above reproach (vv. 20-21). But he does not let go of his main purpose, that the Corinthians respond appropriately (v. 24). 

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