Introduction: Recall from 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 that Paul has been taking up a collection on behalf of the poor Christians in Judea (who would have been mostly Jewish) from among the Gentile churches he has planted. How would this have helped the Jewish believers to have been more accepting of the Gentile Christians? See Acts 24:17, Rom 15:25-28. Was this something new for Paul to do? See Acts 11:28-30, Gal 2:10.
2Co 8:1-5 Considering the opposition to Paul’s ministry by some in Corinth, do you think he was concerned about the success of the collection he was taking up from among them? How does he motivate its success in these verses? Why did the Macedonians have reason to not be generous in their giving? Did such prevent them from being so? What characterized their giving that made it so commendable, both to the Corinthians and to us? See 2Co 8:3b-4. What is the significance to the Corinthians that Paul mentions how the Macedonians gave themselves first to the Lord “and to us”? (Hint: recall that there were some in Corinth who were still challenging Paul’s authority as an apostle.)
2Co 8:6-9 In 2Co 8:1,4 (NASB favor), 2Co 8:6, 7, 9 Paul uses the Greek word for grace (charis). What is the significance of this emphasis upon grace to the giving Paul wanted to inspire in the Corinthians? Quite often our giving may be restrained by questions about whether or not the recipient is “worthy”, or “deserving” of our gift (“we want to be good stewards you know”!). How is this different from the Lord’s gracious gifts to us? How should our understanding of the gospel of God’s grace influence our giving—where we so clearly understand God’s grace to mean His unmerited favor? See 2Co 8:9. Recall from 1 Cor 1:7 and chapters 12-14 that the Corinthians were “rich” in spiritual gifts (Greek charisma, meaning literally a grace-let from God). What is the significance of this to 2Co 8:7? Is Christian giving a commandment, as tithing was under the Old Covenant? See 2Co 8:8a,10. What then is the basis for Christian giving? See 2Co 8:8b-9, 1 Tim 1:5.
2Co 8:10-15 Why does Paul say that it was to the Corinthians’ advantage to complete that which they were eager to begin earlier? See 2Co 9:2-4. What parable of Jesus illustrates the truth of 2Co 8:12? See Luke 21:1-4. What does 2Co 8:13 reveal about the objection some had for the collection Paul was taking up from among the Gentiles for the saints in Judea? As Americans we are among the richest people on earth. What attitude does 2Co 8:13-15 teach us we should have in regard to the material wealth entrusted to us by the Lord and the poverty of so many of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world? What abundance could the poor saints in Judea possibly possess that could become a supply for the want of the Corinthians? See 2Co 9:12-14, Luke 6:20.
2Co 8:16-24 From these verses it is clear that Paul was sending a fairly large delegation along with Titus to the Corinthians in advance of his own coming: He mentions Titus, “the brother” in 2Co 8:18, another brother in 2Co 8:22, and “our brethren” in 2Co 8:23, whom he says are messengers of the churches (literally apostles—meaning ones sent out by the other churches as messengers, but his use of the word is significant). “The brother” in 2Co 8:18 likely refers to Luke, who during the time when Paul left him in Philippi in Acts 16 (see the “we” section of Acts 16:9-17 and confer Acts 16:40) until his arrival back on this his third missionary journey (notice the “we” section resumes at this point in Acts 20:5-6) had been making and distributing copies of his Gospel, so that his fame in the gospel had spread through all the churches. For what purpose did Paul send this delegation to the Corinthians? See 2Co 8:19-20,24. Considering the challenges to Paul’s apostolic authority in Corinth by some who considered him a nobody, what additional purpose would Paul’s sending such an important and influential delegation serve? What does 2Co 8:21 and Paul’s handling of the collection for the saints teach us about how Christians should conduct themselves in the world, especially in regard to finances? Notice in 2Co 8:23 it says that the messengers/apostles of the churches are a glory to Christ; are we? (Note: some have conjectured that Luke was the blood brother of Titus because “the” brother in 2Co 8:18 may also be translated “his” brother, and would be a quite natural Greek construction if he were indeed the brother of Titus; this theory is also supported by the fact that it was in Troas that Luke first joined Paul, Acts 16:8-10, and it was in Troas that Paul had so confidently expected to find Titus, 2 Cor 2:12-13).