Today we continue Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. Paul begins chapter 8 by telling the Corinthians church how generous the Macedonian churches are despite their poverty (8:1-2). Each gave as he or she could afford (v. 3 – see 1 Cor 16:2), eager to do so (v. 4). Paul says he sent Titus to them to encourage them to do the same (v. 6). Paul encourages them to do give to show the genuineness of their love (v. 8). He then points them to Christ who became poor for their sake (v. 9), and tells them that it is for their own benefit to be generous (v. 10) and to be so eagerly (vv. 11-12). Paul points to their abundance over those who are in need (vv. 13-14). This is how it should work in the church (v. 15 – see Acts 2:44-45). Paul’s quote of Exodus 16:18 is meant to remind the Corinthians that all they have is from God, anyway.
Paul then tells the Corinthians that he is sending Titus to them, who is eager to come to them (vv. 16-17). With Titus is coming another unnamed brother (Timothy? Apollos?) who is a famous preacher and appointed by the churches to travel with Paul (vv. 18-19). That he is appointed by the churches means that there is no cause for doubt about the use of the offering for the poor (vv. 20-23). Paul therefore once again encourages the Corinthians to be generous (v. 24).
In chapter 9, Paul continues speaking of the collection for the poor in Jerusalem. He has already established what this money is for (9:1), and has boasted to the Macedonians how generous the Greeks are, which encouraged the Macedonians to give (v. 2). Paul tells them to prove him right through their generosity (vv. 3-4). But they must only give willingly (v. 5). Those who give abundantly will receive abundantly from God (v. 6) as long as it is with a willing, cheerful heart (v. 7) through which God works (vv. 8-9). Paul here quotes Psalm 112, which is a Psalm about those who fear YHWH being generous. They can give abundantly, because God will continue to provide (vv. 10-11). Their giving is really a giving of thanks to God (v. 12), and will bring Him glory (v. 13), because it is God doing the work (vv. 14-15).
Paul now begins a defense of his Apostleship, which was being challenged by some in Corinth. Paul does not want to be bold with them when he comes, so he wants them to heed his instructions in his letters (10:1-2). Paul is not arguing against his detractors in a worldly way, as they argue, but according to Godly wisdom (vv. 4-6 – see 1 Corinthians 1 and 2). Paul tells them to look at the facts, particularly what he worked among them (v. 7). If Paul is insistent on his Apostolic authority, which built them up, he will not do so only in his letters, but face to face when he comes, if necessary (vv. 8-11). He is not doing it to commend himself, like his detractors (v. 12). There is no understanding for those that do that.
And Paul does not claim anything beyond what God has called him to (v. 13). And because he followed his calling, the Corinthians have been saved (v. 14)! Paul wants them to heed his authority more and more (v. 15) so that he can expand the reach of the Gospel in Greece (v. 16). Paul then quotes himself from his first letter (v. 18 – see 1 Cor 1:31) where he alludes to Jeremiah 9:23-24. In the context of his original quote, Paul is telling them that they are buying into worldly wisdom by listening to his opponents.