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2 Corinthians 8:6–7

“As you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also” (v. 7).

Having noted that the Macedonian Christians were examples of generosity in giving to meet the needs of the impoverished church in Jerusalem (2 Cor. 8:1–5), Paul continues to call the Corinthian church to give as well in today’s passage. The Apostle notes that Titus will “complete . . . this act of grace” (v. 6). Paul has put Titus in charge of securing the donations from the Corinthian church, and Titus will actually come to Corinth with 2 Corinthians, as commentators believe that he was the courier of the letter (see also vv. 16–17).

One scholar notes that Titus was the ideal choice for this mission. He already had personal contact with the Corinthians, for he had carried the earlier harsher letter from Paul to Corinth and had observed the good response of the church to it (7:5–16). Titus also had a true affection for the Corinthians (v. 15), which would have helped him convince the church in Corinth to give to the collection for the Jerusalem church. Apparently, Titus had already started this appeal when he brought Paul’s letter of rebuke (8:6), so it would not be too difficult for him to continue the work.

The Apostle calls the Corinthians’ donation to the collection an “act of grace” (v. 6). Theologically speaking, grace often refers to the favor of God to those who do not deserve it, His will to save people instead of condemning them to eternal destruction (see Rom. 3:21–31; 11:6). However, grace can also be used in the sense of an overflowing abundance of goodness and generosity. This is how Paul uses the term in 2 Corinthians 8:6–7. Giving to the needy saints in Jerusalem is an act of grace because it is an act of exceedingly generous goodness.

Paul exhorts them to excel in the act of grace—that is, to give with lavish generosity (v. 7). He sets up this exhortation by noting that they already excel in many other things—faith, speech, knowledge, earnestness, and his love for them—thus encouraging them to see that excelling in their generosity would not be a brand-new thing but a logical progression of their growth in grace. But how does one excel in the grace of giving? The simple answer is to give beyond the bare minimum expected. In this, a figure such as Boaz is a good example. He kept the law by allowing Ruth to glean among his fields, but he went beyond that requirement by giving her extra grain as well (see Lev. 23:22; Ruth 2–3).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

The New Testament does not give us a bare minimum that we should set aside to help poor believers. However, we do know from Old Testament precedents such as Leviticus 23:22 that believers should be prepared to assist poor Christians. If we are not presently giving to relieve the suffering of poor believers, let us start doing so today, and if we are already giving, let us consider how we might continue being generous.

For Further Study
  • Deuteronomy 15:11
  • Proverbs 14:31
  • 2 Corinthians 9:11
  • Ephesians 4:28

The Generous Macedonian Churches

Rich through the Poverty of Christ

Keep Reading The Doctrine of Justification

From the October 2021 Issue
Oct 2021 Issue