In this chapter the apostle praises the churches of Macedonia for their liberality and generous spirit in the matter of giving, and he uses their example to encourage the Corinthians to abound in this grace of giving. Actually, who should give, how we should give, how much we should give and to whom we should give form the main theme of the next two chapters of this epistle.
(Vs. 1.) "Brethren, I want to tell you more about the grace, favour and spiritual blessings of God which have been bestowed upon the churches of Macedonia, arousing in them love for others and the desire to give alms and aid to those in need? The phrase "to wit" means to inform, make known, or to give knowledge of a thing. Their liberality was the result of the grace of God in them, for his grace is the fountain of all the good that is in us or done by us at any time (1 Cor. 15:10; Eph. 4: 32). These churches were Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea and others.
(Vs. 2.) Although these churches were under great persecution from Jews and pagans, although they had endured great trials and were in deep poverty, this did not keep them from taking up a collection and sending gifts to their needy brethren in other places. They had little themselves but freely gave generously of what they had (Mark 12:41-44).
(Vs. 3.) Two things the apostle points out concerning the generosity of these churches.
1. They gave according to their ability and even beyond what they were able to give they gave sacrificially.
2. They did it voluntarily and willingly. They were not told to give or how much to give, but rather gave freely and cheerfully motivated by a love for Christ and the brethren.
(Vs. 4.) They brought what they had collected among themselves to the apostles and begged them to take the responsibility of distributing these gifts to believers who were in need.
(Vs. 5.) The apostle expected something from them, even in their condition of poverty and affliction, but what they gave was far beyond his expectation. Here is the reason for their faith and generosity they first gave themselves to the Lord, to the care of his providence, trusting him to provide for them and resting in his care (Phil. 4:19). Then they gave themselves and what they had to the servants of Christ to be directed and used according to the will of God (Ps. 37:23-25).
(Vs. 6.) Paul instructed Titus to go to the church at Corinth and receive alms and assistance for those in need. Evidently Titus had dealt with this matter of giving when he was with them before, but the work was not completed, so Paul urged Titus, through the example of the Macedonians, to go to Corinth and encourage among them the grace of giving.
(Vs. 7.) The church of Corinth excelled and abounded in every grace, according to Paul. He commended their "faith", by which they had received the Lord Jesus and for which they had courageously stood (1 Cor. 15:1, 2), their "utterance" or speech, by which they preached the gospel even in other languages, their "knowledge" of God, Christ and the truth of the gospel, their "diligence" in discharging their duties to God men and their "love" for him and the ministers of the Word. "See that you abound and excel in the grace of giving as well", for as faith, utterance, knowledge, diligence and love are graces, work of God within us, so also are kindness, generosity liberality. None of these can be exercised properly without Spirit of God (Gal. 5:22).
(Vs. 8, 9.) "I am not commanding you to give," nor does God give a commandment fixing certain sums and times when believers are to give. The Lord has certainly revealed his will concerning giving. There is to be a willing mind (Vs. 12); everyone is to have a part (Vs. 13); and that part is to be as God has prospered or enabled them (1 Cor. 16:2). But Paul seeks to motivate them by three things: by pointing out the example of other believers, by urging them to prove the sincerity of their love to Christ and others (James 2:15-17), and by the example of our Lord Jesus Christ - our Lord gave all for us. Through his love, kindness and grace, he, who was rich beyond description, became so very poor so that by his poverty we might have every spiritual need abundantly supplied. "Let this mind be also in you which was in Christ" (Phil. 2:5-9). How can we, who are loved in such a way, not also love? How can we, who are the recipients of such grace and mercy, not be gracious and merciful to others?
(Vs. 10.) "It is then my counsel and advice, and it is profitable and fitting for you, to complete this work which you willingly began a year ago." A good beginning and a wiling mind are good, but not enough. We must persevere and do it. Words and good intentions are fine, but the doing of it is essential (1 John 3:18).
(Vs. 11.) "Now, therefore, finish what you began. You showed before that you had the will to help those in need; now perform the doing of it according to your ability or as God has prospered you. Give out of that which you have, be it little or great. No man is expected to give that which he does not have."