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2 Corinthians 8:18–21

“We aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man” (v. 21).

Titus was appointed by Paul to return to Corinth and complete the process of gathering donations from the Corinthians for the collection to alleviate the poverty of the Jerusalem church (2 Cor. 8:6, 16–17; see Rom. 15:25–27; 1 Cor. 16:1–4). However, Titus would not be going to Corinth alone. In today’s passage, Paul says that he would send with Titus “the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel” (2 Cor. 8:18).

We cannot be certain of the identity of the man whom Paul mentions. Most likely, he was a believer from Macedonia, where Paul was reunited with Titus after Titus had delivered the letter of rebuke to the Corinthian church, the letter that resulted in the repentance he describes in 2 Corinthians 7:5–9. Acts 20:1–6 mentions several individuals from Macedonia who traveled with Paul on his way to Jerusalem, and the man who is mentioned in today’s passage may be one of the named people in Acts. However, it is also possible that he was someone else completely unknown to us. In any case, he was not unknown to the churches Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 8:18, as we see in verse 19. They had chosen him, and Paul was sending him to Corinth. From this act we may infer that the laity should have some kind of a say in the decisions that churches make even though the elders or overseers exercise oversight (see Titus 1:7).

Paul says that the collection for the Jerusalem church would both glorify God and show the good will of the predominantly gentile churches that contributed to it (2 Cor. 8:19). This points to the final collection’s being quite a substantial sum of money. A large collection, after all, could be used to direct people to God’s generosity in Christ for the sake of the glory of the Lord, and good will could be seen clearly if the donations were sizable. Because of the great collection of funds, Paul wisely sent Titus and others with him to gather the monies and keep watch over them (vv. 20–21). The larger the collection, the greater the temptation would be to skim some off the top, for no one would miss the little bit that was taken if the funds were vast. Paul, of course, had no intention of doing this, but he knew that unscrupulous people might falsely accuse him of doing so. In 1 Corinthians 16:1–4, Paul anticipated that he might need to have others present with him to keep watch over the money and eliminate any hint of impropriety, and 2 Corinthians 8:20–21 indicates that he was right to think ahead on this matter.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Matthew Henry comments on today’s passage that we should “act so prudently as to prevent, as far as we can, all unjust suspicions concerning us, and all occasions of scandalous imputations.” Reproaches will come that are false and unavoidable, but “it is our imprudence at least if we give them any occasion, when there may not be a just cause for them so to do.” Let our actions both be honorable and look honorable.

For Further Study
  • Proverbs 22:1
  • Ecclesiastes 7:1
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:22
  • 1 Timothy 3:7

Titus’ Generous Love for the Corinthians

Proving Paul Right

Keep Reading The Doctrine of Justification

From the October 2021 Issue
Oct 2021 Issue