2 Corinthians, Lesson 13: The Delegation Coming to Corinth

Visiting Pastoral Delegation (610x351)Unlike some of our translations, what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 8:1-9 (last week’s lesson) began and ended with God’s grace. Paul finished vs. 9 opened ended, moving from Jesus’ self-giving love to how the Corinthians will channel the grace overflowing to them in Christ Jesus to others.

Now, Paul goes back to the topic of helping the saints in the Jerusalem congregation.


How Giving Works in the Christian Church

Read 2 Corinthians 8:10-11

“judgment”: Greek, gnoma, opinion, decision. Paul is not commanding the Corinthian Christians but sharing what he would like to see happen among and through them.

  • “In this matter,” what would Paul like to see happen?


  • What do we learn about “this matter”? Is this something brand new or a renewed effort to finish what was already begun?


  • What does Paul mean when he says their “readiness in desiring… may be matched by [their] completing it”?


  • Discuss: Why would it be to their “benefit” to give in such a way? In other words, what takes place within the Christian when he wants to give in such a way and then does that?


Paul now explains a bit more of what he meant in verse 11.

Read 2 Corinthians 8:12

In this verse, Paul taps into the Greek-language Old Testament and uses that (in his own words) to make his point.

Tobit 4:8: [Tobit instructing his son, Tobias]:

“Give in proportion to what you have. If you have great wealth, give from your abundance; if you have but little, do not be afraid to give according to the little you have.”

“readiness”: Greek, prothumia. A “readiness” that is the result of being willing and eager.

  • What two areas affect someone’s ability to give?


If you remember last week’s lesson, the ESV translated what Paul said about the Macedonians as, “They gave… beyond their means” (2 Corinthians 8:3). Your pastor went crazy and said that, in our culture, we understand “beyond someone’s means” as monetary (example, “He’s living beyond his means”). However, Paul said that the Macedonians gave “beyond their power,” not that they went into debt by giving more money than they had. They gave beyond their power because their power to give originated from God!

God’s grace changes our will, which includes our giving back to God and helping others. Paul didn’t praise the Macedonians as a moral example, but as an example of God’s grace in their lives. If Paul meant that they monetarily gave “beyond their means,” then he is contradicting what he says in this verse, to give “according to what a person has.” 


Lesson 13, What Drives Giving


Read 2 Corinthians 8:13-15

Paul now quotes Exodus 16:18, almost verbatim, from the Septuagint (Like Paul, the LXX is singular; the Hebrew Masoretic Text is plural). He uses Israel’s experience in the wilderness—where God provided enough manna to meet someone’s needs each day, but no extra—to finish his line of thought.

  • Based on these verses, how wealthy are the Corinthian Christians compared to the Jerusalem Christians?


  • Based on Paul’s model for inter-congregational giving, what is to take place if the Corinthian congregation comes under great financial stress?


Lesson 13, Pauls Model for Inter-Congregational Giving


Lesson 13, Applying Pauls Model for Inter-Congregational Giving in Our Church Structure


The Gift-Collecting Delegation

Read 2 Corinthians 8:16-17

  • Who has volunteered to go to Corinth to help collect the gifts for the Jerusalem congregation?


  • Remembering Titus’ relationship with the Corinthian congregation, why does it make sense for him to be part of this delegation?


Read 2 Corinthians 8:18-19

  • Who else in accompanying Pr. Titus?


“famous”: Paul literally says, “whose praise is the Gospel through all the churches…” Paul isn’t saying that this pastor is “famous,” focusing on the pastor, but that his praise is, instead, the Gospel. Notice that it’s not the man (he’s famous) but what gets conveyed through him (his praise is the Gospel)! That pastor was known to be faithful and trustworthy in delivering the Gospel at various congregations.

  • Reading between the lines, why is the “brother whose praise is the Gospel through all the churches” is not only travelling with them, but also “appointed by the churches”?


“appointed”: Greek, cheirotoneo. The Jewish theologian and philosopher Philo (25 BC – 50 AD) used the same Greek word to refer to envoys who were appointed to deliver the Old-Covenant first-fruits offering of the diaspora synagogues to the Jerusalem Temple (Philo, Special Laws 1, 78).

  • Beyond helping the saints in Jerusalem, what other two reasons are behind this gift-collection?


Read 2 Corinthians 8:20-22

What we could infer earlier about Paul including a well-known pastor “who has been appointed by the churches” now becomes explicitly clear.

  • How does Paul not want others to view this gift-collection for Jerusalem saints?


  • In verse 22, who are “them” and who is “our brother”?


Lesson 13, A Model of Transparency


Read 2 Corinthians 8:23a

“partner”: literally “communer.” In Christ, Paul and Titus are in “community,” in “communion,” with each other.

  • How does Paul describe Titus? How much “daylight” are they to see between Paul and Titus?


Read 2 Corinthians 8:23b

  • Who are these “brothers” on the delegation with Paul and Timothy?


  • What else does Paul call these “brothers”? (Note the footnote for “messengers” in the ESV: “Greek apostles”)


  • By using “apostles” to refer to those who are clearly pastors, what is the point being made?


Lesson 13, The Link between Pastors and Apostles


  • What are these “apostles”?


  • What is the “glory of Christ”?


Paul calls these brother pastors, not only “apostles,” but even “the glory of Christ.” This can sound blasphemous until we understand what Paul is actually saying.


Lesson 13, Pastors as the glory of Christ


Read 2 Corinthians 8:24

  • How does Paul “challenge” the Corinthian congregation?


When it came to helping the Christians in Jerusalem, Paul and Timothy clearly said they were not commanding the Corinthians. Instead, they were testing the genuineness of their love (2 Corinthians 8:8). They now ask for the Corinthians to display that proof to the pastoral delegation that will soon arrive (2 Corinthians 8:24).

The Gospel is what drives and shapes this appeal to the Corinthian congregation. The “love” of the Corinthians is nothing other than the “grace” of Christ that they have come to know and experience (2 Corinthians 8:9).

In next week’s lesson, Paul goes on to describe their gift as result of their confession of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 9:13). What the Corinthians Christians do arises from what Christ has “done” for them. And this is more than gratitude—it’s a fresh experience of the “grace” of Christ and of God. This appeal (like all “stewardship campaigns” are supposed to be) are is based on, and flow from, the Gospel!


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