Bible: What Does 2 Corinthians 7-8 Teach Us About Repentance and Grace Giving?
The Apostle Paul
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Follow My Example
Having entrusted himself to this promise of God’s fatherly care, Paul exhorts his disciples in Corinth to follow his example by repenting from every spiritual and fleshly impurity, using the fear of God (cf. 5:11; cf. Prov. 1:7) as motivation to progress in their sanctification (v. 1).
[Verse 1 belongs with chapter six.]
Contending that he has not treated anyone badly, Paul reiterates his plea for them to “open to us” (v. 2; cf. 6:13).
As a co-worker committed to this group of people, he points out that he does not condemn them by asking them to be honest toward him (v. 3).
In fact, Paul has every confidence in them; he feels pride whenever he speaks of them.
Despite his manifold trials in Macedonia, Paul now experiences joy because God had comforted him with the news from Titus about Corinth’s positive reception of his letter; (vv. 4-6; see 2:13).
Titus’ mere presence, the word that he brought about the Corinthians’ repentance, and their love and concern for Paul himself caused the apostle to rejoice “even more” (v. 7).
He felt sorry that his letter caused them pain, but he did not regret sending the missive because it accomplished the Lord’s intended purpose: their repentance (vv. 8-9a).
It made them sorry according to God’s will, so that they would not suffer loss because of what Paul wrote (v. 9b).
The Corinthians’ godly sorrow brought them to a “turn about” that “saved” them from spiritual failure.
Generally speaking, no one should regret being brought to repentance through a sorrow according to God’s will because it leads to spiritual salvation; a different sorrow, the kind that the unsaved experience, produces both physical death and spiritual separation from God (v. 10).
Paul counsels them to “observe” the effects this godly sorrow produced in them: diligence, vindication of themselves, indignation, fear, vehement desire (NKJV)/longing (NASB), zeal, and avenging of wrong (NASB).
He notes that these results demonstrated their innocence regarding the case of the wrongdoer (v. 11).
The apostle adds that he wrote the Corinthians this sorrowful letter not just to set the offender straight or to vent his anger about this sin, but to show them that he cared about their spiritual welfare (v. 12).
Paul reports that, by correcting this matter, the Corinthians had not only strengthened themselves in their spirit, but they had also comforted both him and Timothy.
Titus’ joy at their recovery caused the apostle to rejoice as well (v. 13).
Paul feels no shame about telling Titus how special the Corinthian believers are, because they have proven the truth of his words about them (v. 14).
Titus loves them even more now as he recalls how obediently and humbly they received him (v. 15).
Paul again joyfully expresses his complete confidence in them (v. 16).
Don't Be a Miser
What percentage of your income do you contribute to your church's ministries?
2 Corinthians 8
Addressing the Corinthians as brethren—perhaps as a subtle reminder of their familial responsibility to contribute to the needs of the saints in Judea (the subject of this section of the epistle)—Paul testifies to how the grace of God enabled the poor, afflicted Macedonian churches to give freely, joyfully and generously to the relief fund (vv. 1-3; cf. Acts 4, 6).
Not only were these believers willing to give liberally, they repeatedly begged Paul to receive their gift; they saw it as a form of fellowship, a privilege to participate in the support of their brethren in Judea (v. 4).
Paul also notes that he had hoped that the Macedonian Christians would first dedicate themselves to God and to the apostolic band before giving to their brethren, and that is just what they did (v. 5).
The apostle reports that he encouraged Titus to continue teaching grace giving; just as he had begun with the Macedonians, so he should work to perfect this grace in the Corinthians as well (v. 6).
Paul acknowledges to his Corinthian readers that their church possessed a multitude of gifts; nevertheless, he desires to see them add grace giving to that list (v. 7).
Commanding them to contribute to the needs of the poor believers does not fall within the scope of Paul’s authority; however, by strongly encouraging them to follow the Macedonian example, he admits that he is “testing the sincerity of your love” (v. 8).
Not only does he test it by the diligent example of the Macedonian churches, he also points to the grace of the Great Exemplar, Christ Himself, Who surrendered the glory of Heaven to become their Sin Bearer and their Reward (v. 9).
Instead of designating his encouragement as a command, Paul calls it “advice”; he counsels them that it would benefit them spiritually to follow through with their yearlong desire to give by actually contributing according to their means (vv. 10-11).
The apostle stresses that if the Corinthians are ready to give, Paul (and God, by implication) will not expect them to give what they do not have, but will accept what they do (v. 12).
He does not desire to burden them financially in order to lighten the contribution load of others;
Charles C. Ryrie
Paul aims for equality (vv. 13-14a). Since the Corinthians are wealthy now, they can afford to meet the needs of others; perhaps in some future day, those whom they help weather their present shortfall may come to the Corinthians’ rescue (v. 14b).
Paul cites Exodus 16:18 to support this assertion and to demonstrate how God provides for the poor (“he who gathered little”) through the labor and generosity of the rich (“He who gathered much”) [v. 15].
[The Exodus text seems to indicate that everyone gathered what manna he needed for himself and his household; it does not mention that those who gathered much supplied the needs of those who gathered little.]
Paul encourages the Corinthians to join him in thanking God for making Titus a caring servant who not only listened to the apostle’s appeal, but also visited them on his own initiative (vv. 16-17).
With this worthy man, the apostle also sent a certain unnamed but outstanding Christian whom the churches had chosen to accompany Paul to Judea with the gift in hand (vv. 18-19a; cf. 1 Cor. 16:3-4).
[According to Charles Ryrie, this companion may have been Luke or Trophimus (New Testament Study Bible, 24).]
He assures the Corinthians that he took the precaution of sending several men to collect the money, so that he would stop the mouths of critics who might accuse him of “borrowing” (vv. 19b-20).
Paul points out that he is administering the gift “to the glory of God” (v. 19); he is careful to show his integrity not only to God, but also to men in all of his dealings (v. 21).
Also with Titus, Paul sent the well-known brother and another unnamed worker whom he has found diligent (v. 22).
Paul encourages the Corinthians to answer all the critics’ questions, whether the queries inquire about Titus’ credentials or those of “our brethren” (v. 23).
He urges them not only to demonstrate their love before the churches, but also to show these other saints why Paul is proud of them (v. 24).
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