Study Notes—Chapter 8
made the riches of their generosity abound: Or “made . . . overflow.” Paul seeks to motivate the Christians in Corinth to complete the relief ministry for the needy Christians in Judea. So he tells them about “the congregations of Macedonia,” such as those in Philippi and Thessalonica, that were outstanding examples of generous giving. (Ro 15:26; 2Co 8:1-4; 9:1-7; Php 4:14-16) Their cheerful generosity was all the more remarkable, since they themselves were in “deep poverty” and were experiencing a great test under affliction. It is possible that those Christians in Macedonia were being accused of practicing customs considered unlawful for Romans, as happened to Paul himself in Philippi. (Ac 16:20, 21) Some suggest that the test was connected with their poverty. Such tests, or trials, might explain why the Macedonians felt empathy for their Judean brothers, who were suffering similar hardships. (Ac 17:5-9; 1Th 2:14) Therefore, the Macedonian Christians wanted to help them and joyfully gave “beyond their means.”—2Co 8:3.
have a share in the relief ministry: Paul uses the Greek noun di·a·ko·niʹa, here rendered “relief ministry.” The word is often used in the Bible to describe humble services performed out of love for others. It is significant that this Greek noun is used for the twofold ministry in which Christians share, the preaching work and the relief work. (See study note on Ac 11:29.) In this verse, Paul refers specifically to bringing relief to fellow Christians who are struck by hardship. (2Co 9:13; see study note on Ro 15:31.) The Macedonian congregations considered it a privilege to share in this relief work. Both aspects of the Christian ministry constitute “sacred service.”—Ro 12:1, 6-8.
that although he was rich, he became poor for your sake: To motivate the Corinthians to help those in need, Paul has them contemplate Jesus’ example of self-sacrifice and generosity. Before Jesus came to earth as a man, he was rich in a special sense; he was especially favored and blessed by his Father. (Joh 1:14; Eph 3:8) Yet, he willingly relinquished his favored position. (Joh 1:18; Php 2:5-8) He left his heavenly home to live among imperfect humans who coped daily with poverty, sickness, and death. Additionally, Jesus was born to the wife of a poor carpenter. (See study note on Lu 2:24.) As a man, Jesus led a simple life. (Mt 8:20) Yet, he redeemed the human race. Because of Jesus’ generosity, the Christians in Corinth had become rich in spiritual blessings, including the prospect of a heavenly inheritance. Paul thus urges them to imitate Jesus’ spirit of giving.
an equalizing: In this context, Paul gives instructions regarding a collection for the needy “holy ones” in Jerusalem and Judea. (2Co 8:4; 9:1) He highlights that the Christians in Corinth, who were better off financially, could contribute from their surplus to offset the material need of their brothers in Judea. Such generosity would result in “an equalizing,” or balancing out, of resources. No one was pressured to give more than he could afford.—2Co 8:12, 13; 9:7; see the study note on 2Co 8:15.
Just as it is written: As a Scriptural basis for the principle of “equalizing,” Paul quotes from Ex 16:18, referring to Jehovah’s loving arrangement of providing manna for the Israelites during their wilderness journey. (2Co 8:14; see Glossary, “Manna.”) An Israelite family head either gathered or supervised the gathering of manna for the entire household. Since the manna melted when the sun got hot, he doubtless quickly gathered the approximate supply needed for the household and measured it afterward. He gathered little or much according to the size of the household; yet, the amount collected always proved to be one omer measure (2.2 L; 2 dry qt) per person. (Ex 16:16-18) Paul alluded to this when encouraging the Christians in Corinth to use their material surplus to offset the material need of their brothers in Judea.—See study note on 2Co 8:14.
the brother: Paul refers to this unnamed brother by a Greek word rendered “traveling companion.” (2Co 8:19) This word is used in only one other place in the Christian Greek Scriptures, at Ac 19:29, where it occurs in the plural form. There, Aristarchus is named as one of the traveling companions. Aristarchus became Paul’s close associate. Some scholars thus feel that “the brother” mentioned here might be Aristarchus, but there are also other possibilities, such as Tychicus.—Ac 20:2-4; 27:2; Col 4:7, 10.
we ‘care for everything honestly’: Paul glorified his ministry by watching closely every feature of his life and conduct. (2Co 6:3) Paul knew that some who associated with the congregation in Corinth criticized and slandered him in order to belittle his authority as an apostle. Paul realized how dangerous such faultfinding could become if money was involved, so he assured the congregation that he was sending Titus and two other trustworthy brothers to handle the contributions. (2Co 8:20, 22) Paul wanted to act honestly not only in the sight of Jehovah but also in the sight of men. Paul here alludes to Pr 3:4 as the Scriptural basis for making such arrangements so that the contributed funds were handled in a way that was above suspicion. He uses wording that according to copies of the Septuagint available today reads: “Provide things honest in the sight of the Lord, and of men [or, people].”—For the use of the divine name in this verse, see App. C3 introduction; 2Co 8:21.
our brother: To ensure that the contributed funds were handled in a way that was above suspicion, two reputable, duly appointed brothers were assigned to help Titus in completing the collection. (2Co 8:20, 21; 9:5) Paul did not name either of these brothers. (See study note on 2Co 8:18.) So it is not known who this unnamed brother was, though some have suggested Trophimus and Tychicus as possibilities.—Ac 20:4.
apostles of congregations: Paul uses the Greek word for “apostle” (a·poʹsto·los) in its general sense, which can mean “sent one” or “envoy.” (See study note on Joh 13:16.) The brothers he mentions were sent out as representatives of their respective congregations. Similarly, Paul used the Greek word a·poʹsto·los when speaking about Epaphroditus as an “envoy.” (Php 2:25) Such faithful men were not apostles in the sense of being appointed to serve as one of the Twelve, as Matthias was; nor were they apostles in the sense of being chosen by Christ to serve as apostles to the nations, as Paul was.—See study note on Ac 1:26; see also Ac 9:15; Ro 11:13.