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They Gave Themselves to the Lord

8/20 – For the Glory of the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:16-24)

 

Introduction — Here Paul provides more details about the gathering of the offering for the church in Jerusalem. Paul thanks God who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus. For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest, he has gone to you of his own accord. Paul then explains how he and his team sent another brother with Titus. This unnamed brother is someone appointed by the churches to travel with us in this gracious work to ensure that no one could discredit the integrity the integrity of this generous gift. Paul takes these precautions because he desires that this offering is for the glory of the Lord. Paul speaks highly of all those involved—these messengers to the churches who are a glory to Christ—in the gracious work. Paul notes their diligence and confidence in the church of Corinth. Paul concludes this section with a charge to the believers there in Corinth: Therefore openly before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you. Paul urges these folks to glorify the Lord through their generous, willing gift to the church in Jerusalem, just as he and his team work to administer this offering for the glory of the Lord. How about us? Do we urge one another to glorify the Lord through our giving? Do we encourage one another in this area? Do we work well with one another? Do we give our best to one another? Do we give generously to help fellow Christians? Do we glorify the Lord in what we give and the way we give?

 

We carry out this act of grace . . . for the glory of the Lord Himself.

 

We give our best to spread the gospel. (16-19)

18 We have sent along with him the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches; 19 and not only this, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us in this gracious work, which is being administered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself, and to show our readiness,

 

Comment: Paul and his team sent a fellow worker along with Titus. This unnamed brother is well-known among the churches for his gospel efforts. Paul and crew show due diligence with the offering. They want to make certain that the gracious work of helping the church in Jerusalem does not tarnish the gracious work of spreading the gospel. So, they, and the churches, go to great lengths to be transparent in this matter. They want to carry out this act of grace for the glory of the Lord Himself. They want to give their best in order to spread the gospel. Question: Do we give our best to spread the gospel? Do we give our best even if that means we remain anonymous? Do we have a willing eagerness to give? Do we give our best for the glory of God?

Application: Make an effort to talk with someone about the Lord this week. Be willing to speak the gospel to a friend. Go out of your way to spread this good news. Be generous in giving away the gospel. Be bold in sharing the gospel. Be humble and kind and sincere in all that you say and do. And do everything for the glory of the Lord Himself.

 

We give our best to show honor. (20-22)

20 taking precaution so that no one will discredit us in our administration of this generous gift; 21 for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. 22 We have sent with them our brother, whom we have often tested and found diligent in many things, but now even more diligent because of his great confidence in you. 

 

Comment: Continuing his thoughts on the offering, Paul states his desire to take these extra measures to ensure that no one has reason to discredit either how they receive or how they give the generous gift. He has his eye on what is honorable before both the Lord and people. Paul and others give their best in order to show honor. They want to do the right thing for the right reasons. So, they send extra people with the offering. Paul and company carefully examine and appoint those they send to Jerusalem. It seems that Paul makes every effort to do what is right, not only for the churches, and not only folks outside the church, but for the Lord Himself. He lives to honor or glorify the Lord. Question: How about us? Do we make every effort to do what is honorable? Do we try to do right for the right reasons? Do we give our best to show honor in the church? Before others? Before the Lord? Application: Always do the right thing. Give your best to show honor before the Lord. Do not take shortcuts. Do not discredit the Lord in any way. Take extra care so that no one will discredit what you do and why you do it.

 

We give our best to serve the church. (23-24)

23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ. 24 Therefore openly before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.

 

Comment: Apparently, Titus was a loyal and trusted friend to Paul. He thinks of Titus as one who serves both him and the church well. Titus is among the messengers of the churches. This group is a glory to Christ. Now, Paul urges the Corinthians to follow the example of these messengers. Just as this group serves the church, Paul wants the church to serve this group. He calls upon them to do the right thing. He calls upon them to show honor. He calls upon them to give their best to further the gospel. Paul directs them to be open about their love for these men and for the Lord. Paul directs them to give their best for the glory of the Lord. Question: Do we give our best to serve the church? Do we go out of our way to help one another? Do we work closely with one another? Do we want to spend time with one another? Are we open and free in showing our love to one another? Do we give our best for the glory of the Lord? Application: Prayerfully consider one way you can serve the Lord as you serve His church. Perhaps you can step up to serve our children. Think about teaching the children on Sunday morning for one month. Maybe you can lead a small group in the study of God’s word. There are countless ways to serve this body of believers.

So, as you give your best—time, talent, and treasures—carry out these acts of grace for the glory of the Lord.

Word Study for 2 Corinthians 8:16-24

16 earnestness (spoude—haste; zeal; eagerness; do one’s best; do quickly)[1]

17 accepted (dechomai—receive; take; welcome; take hold of)

18 sent (sympempo—send with; send simultaneously)

18 gospel (euangelion—good tidings; good news; to announce good news)

19 appointed (cheirotoneo—choose; install; establish; to voted by stretching out the hand)

19 glory (doxa—splendor; brightness; amazing might;  praise; honor; opinion; weight)

19 readiness (prothymia—eagerness; willingness)

20 discredit (momaomai—criticize; blame; to find fault with)

20 generous (hadrotes—abundance; liberality; large sum; generous gift; thickness; strength)

21 honorable (kalos—good; beautiful; handsome; fitting; important)

21 sight (enopion—in front of; in the presence of; before)

22 tested (dokimazo—examine; regard as worthwhile; judge as good; examine prior to approval; verify)

23 partner (koinonos—partner; companion; friend; associate)

23 fellow worker (synergos—helping; helper; fellow laborer)

24 show (endeiknymi—demonstrate; mark; point out; to show forth; prove)

24 proof (endeixis—a pointing out or indication; sign; demonstration; display of good will)

 

Application for 2 Corinthians 8:16-24

Let’s thank God when we see folks eagerly respond to the grace of God.

Let’s give willingly.

Let’s be honest in the way we receive gifts.

Let’s carefully appoint those who handle offerings.

Let’s have high regard for doing what is honorable.

Let’s do everything for the glory of the Lord Himself.

 

Gospel Connections for 2 Corinthians 8:16-24

Our Lord Jesus Christ, though He was rich, yet for our sake He became poor, so that we through His poverty might become rich. Jesus is worthy of all honor and praise and glory. Jesus is our friend and fellow worker. He finished what the Father entrusted to Him. Jesus brought good news. Jesus brought a perfect offering. Jesus gave Himself willingly. Jesus gave Himself completely. Jesus openly showed the proof of God’s love.

 

Thoughts and Quotes for 2 Corinthians 8:16-24

To be asked to minister without an informing vision of God (which is what theology is really all about), however, is like being told to make bricks without straw. What keeps people going in ministry, and what, in my experience, congregations are longing for, is an exciting and empowering vision of God, articulated in a theology that is integrated with worship, prayer, and social action. ~ Alister E. McGrath

 

When the glory of God is the treasure of our lives, we will not lay up treasures on earth, but spend them for the spread of his glory. We will not covet, but overflow with liberality. We will not crave the praise of men, but forget ourselves in praising God. We will not be mastered by sinful, sensual pleasures, but sever their root by the power of a superior promise. We will not will nurse a wounded ego or cherish a grudge or nurture a vengeful spirit, but will hand over our cause to God and bless those who hate us. Every sin flows from the failure to treasure the glory of God above all things. ~ John Piper, Preaching the Cross 

 

The time is always right to do the right thing. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it. ~ Augustine

 

Commentary for 2 Corinthians 8:16-24

8:19–20 Money is a sensitive issue and frequently sparks controversy, and Paul reminds them that this fund is a “grace” that is “being ministered” by us for the purpose of bringing glory to the Lord and to show our good will (8:19). Then he explains that he is taking every precaution to be above reproach. By having these well-known representatives from Macedonia accompany Titus, Paul makes it clear that he does not intend for this project to line his own pockets. With someone appointed by other churches and not by Paul, there can be no doubts about his own honesty regarding what will happen to the funds. Paul recognizes that the power of one’s witness corresponds directly to one’s reputation for integrity. He cannot allow the project to become shrouded in malicious rumors that all is not above board.95 He therefore takes steps to ensure that there be not the slightest hint of any impropriety.

8:21 Paul cites Prov 3:4 (LXX) in 8:21: “For we take forethought for the good not only before the Lord but also before men” (cited again in Rom 12:17) to underscore his honorable intentions. His motives and actions are an open book to God, who scrutinizes him. Still, he also wants to be completely open to people. This recalls his statement in 4:2 that he commends himself to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. Though he can accept being held in ill-repute (6:8; 1 Cor 4:10), he does not welcome dishonor and will do nothing to warrant it (see 1 Pet 2:20; 3:13–17). The gospel may be scandalous, but his behavior and sincerity must be exemplary to both believers and unbelievers. Too often Christians have brought discredit to themselves and to the Christian faith in the eyes of the world by mishandling donations through fraud or by receiving disproportionately high salaries for their “service” in the gospel. Paul is sensitive to any charges that he might be guilty of corruption (see 2:17; 4:2; 7:2; 11:7–12; 12:14–18). He therefore bends over backwards to keep everything open and public and to avoid the slightest impression of any self-seeking in all of his ministry (6:3), especially with regard to a collection of a substantial sum of money.

8:22 This concern for propriety leads to the mention of another person who will accompany Titus. He is identified as “our brother,” which distinguishes him from the first one mentioned who is identified as “the brother.” This may mean that he is a well-known and longtime companion of Paul. No mention is made of his election by the churches but it may be assumed. Paul highlights that he is fully acquainted with him and that he has proven himself zealous in many things, many times. Now he is all the more zealous because of his confidence in you. This last remark removes any potential competition or rivalry between the two regions. The one who represents the Macedonian churches has every confidence that the Corinthians will come through with shining colors.

8:23 Paul rounds out this paragraph on the administration of the program with a final reference to Titus and the brothers and their qualifications. The abrupt way the Greek reads, “whether Titus.… whether our brothers,” requires adding a verb to make sense of it. Barnett suggests the translation, “Whether [anyone asks about] Titus or the brothers.” If anyone questions Titus, he is Paul’s partner and a coworker “for you” (eis hymas), not “among you” (NIV). Titus is therefore Paul’s partner “because he works with him for the Corinthians.”97 The brothers are “apostles” (sent ones) of the churches, which means that they are their messengers, agents, or representatives (see Phil 2:25). They are not Paul’s coworkers in Corinth but mostly bystanders to endorse that everything that Paul and his emissary undertakes is honorable.

More important, these brothers are identified as doxa Christou. The NIV renders this phrase as an objective genitive “an honor to Christ”—they bring glory to Christ by the quality of their lives. They are dedicated to the gospel of the glory of Christ (4:4). This phrase could also mean that they reflect the glory of Christ as Paul is “the aroma of Christ” (2:15) or the Corinthians are “a letter of Christ” (3:3). Paul probably has more in mind than the prosaic idea that they are a credit to Christ. “Glory” is connected to revelation. Watson comments, “The glory of God is that which makes the invisible God visible, that which makes God known.” Distinguishing them as “the glory of Christ” implies that Christ is made known through these delegates. Rather than blinding others to the glory of Christ as the god of this age does (4:4), they proclaim the gospel.

The three who come to Corinth are more than envoys. They become a standard of Christian living which the Corinthians would do well to emulate. In 8:24 Paul entreats the Corinthians to live up to his boasts about them.[2]

 



[1] Word studies from various sources on Logos Software, including, but not limited to Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains by James A. Swanson

 

[2] Garland, D. E. (1999). 2 Corinthians (Vol. 29, pp. 393–395). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.