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2 Corinthians 8:16–17

“But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord.”

Even though the Apostle Paul expected the church at Corinth to give to the collection for the poor church in Jerusalem, he plainly wanted their giving to be voluntary and not the result of mere obligation (2 Cor. 8:8, 12). The revelation of God’s grace and generosity in Christ gave the Corinthians an example to follow in freely giving to meet the needs of others (v. 9). Thus, even though Paul cites Old Testament Scripture as a precedent for making sure that everyone has their basic needs met in the church (v. 15; see Ex. 16:14–18), he did not want the Corinthians to give only because they felt that they were mandated to give. In the passage he cites, there were specific directions given for how much manna the Israelites should collect. Paul looks to the text not to establish a minimum level of generosity but as an example of how even the old covenant people assisted one another by sharing manna with those who could not gather enough. The implication is that if the old covenant people could provide for one another’s basic needs, the new covenant people should be all the more willing to do so because of the greater revelation of God’s grace in Christ.

Christ is the supreme example of generosity for believers, for no one has given more for the sake of others than He did. He, being the Son of God, humbled Himself in the incarnation, leaving the riches of heaven to enter our poverty in order to meet our most basic need—reconciliation with our Creator (2 Cor. 5:21; 8:9; see Phil. 2:5–11). Yet, God has given us other examples of generosity in the church. Titus served as such an example for the Corinthian believers in particular. Paul mentioned that he had urged Titus to return to them to complete the gathering of the collection (2 Cor. 8:6), but he says in today’s passage that Titus would not be coming merely at Paul’s request. On the contrary, Titus had an earnest affection for the Corinthians and was eager to volunteer for the mission (vv. 16–17). Paul likely wanted to make this clear to the Corinthians because they may have found it odd that he was returning to them so soon after delivering Paul’s earlier letter of rebuke (see 7:5–9). Nevertheless, in so doing he indirectly commended Titus as a model of giving. He was basically saying, “Be as generous in your giving as Titus is generous in his love for you, as demonstrated in his desire to fellowship with you again.”

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

We dare not look at significant people in the Bible merely as examples of what holy living consists of. After all, the Scriptures are given ultimately to point us to Christ and His salvation. Still, the holy men and women of the Bible are examples to us insofar as they faithfully served God (see Heb. 11). Their generosity and piety have much to teach us about how we can live in obedience to the Lord.

For Further Study
  • 2 Kings 18:1–3
  • John 13:12–15
  • 1 Corinthians 11:1
  • 1 John 3:12

A Matter of Fairness

Aiming at What is Honorable

Keep Reading The Doctrine of Justification

From the October 2021 Issue
Oct 2021 Issue