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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 2 3 4
We want you to know, brothers, of the grace of God that has been given to the
churches of Macedonia,
5 for in a severe test of affliction, the
abundance of their joy and their profound poverty overflowed in a wealth of
generosity on their part.
6 For according to their means, I can testify,
and beyond their means, spontaneously,
they begged us insistently for the favor of
taking part in the service to the holy ones,
and this, not as we expected, but they gave
themselves first to the Lord and to us 7 through the will of
so that we urged Titus 8
that, as he had already begun, he should also complete for you this gracious
9 Now as you excel in every respect, in faith,
discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you
excel in this gracious act also.
I say this not by way of command, but to test
the genuineness of your love by your concern for others.
10 For you know the gracious act of our Lord
Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that
by his poverty you might become rich.
And I am giving counsel in this matter, for it
is appropriate for you who began not only to act but to act willingly last
complete it now, so that your eager 11
willingness may be matched by your completion of it out of what you have.
12 For if the eagerness is there, it is
acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have;
not that others should have relief while you
are burdened, but that as a matter of equality
your surplus at the present time should supply
their needs, so that their surplus may also supply your needs, that there may
As it is written: "Whoever had much did
not have more, and whoever had little did not have less."
13 But thanks be to God who put the same concern
for you into the heart of Titus,
for he not only welcomed our appeal but, since
he is very concerned, he has gone to you of his own accord.
With him we have sent the brother 14
who is praised in all the churches for his preaching of the gospel.
And not only that, but he has also been
appointed our traveling companion by the churches in this gracious work
administered by us for the glory of the Lord (himself) and for the expression
of our eagerness.
This we desire to avoid, that anyone blame us 15
about this lavish gift administered by us,
for we are concerned for what is honorable not
only in the sight of the Lord but also in the sight of others.
And with them we have sent our brother whom we
often tested in many ways and found earnest, but who is now much more earnest
because of his great confidence in you.
As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker
for you; as for our brothers, they are apostles of the churches, the glory of
So give proof before the churches of your love
and of our boasting about you to them. 16
[⇒ 8:1-⇒ 9:15] Paul
turns to a new topic, the collection for the church in Jerusalem. There is an
early precedent for this project in the agreement mentioned in
⇒ Gal 2:6-10. According to Acts, the church at
Antioch had sent Saul and Barnabas to Jerusalem with relief
(⇒ Acts 11:27-30). Subsequently Paul organized a
project of relief for Jerusalem among his own churches. Our earliest evidence
for it comes in ⇒ 1 Cor 16:1-4 -after it had
already begun (see the notes there); by the time Paul wrote
⇒ Romans 15:25-28 the collection was completed and
ready for delivery. 2 Cor 8-9 contain what appear to be two letters on the
subject. In them Paul gives us his fullest exposition of the meaning he sees in
the enterprise, presenting it as an act of Christian charity and as an
expression of the unity of the church, both present and eschatological. These
chapters are especially rich in the recurrence of key words, on which Paul
plays; it is usually impossible to do justice to these wordplays in the
2 [1-24] This is a letter of recommendation
for Titus and two unnamed companions, written from Macedonia probably at least
a year later than 1 Cor 16. The recommendation proper is prefaced by remarks
about the ideals of sharing and equality within the Christian community
(⇒ 2 Cor 8:1-15). ⇒ Philippians
4:10-20 shows that Paul has reflected on his personal experience of
need and relief in his relations with the community at Philippi; he now
develops his reflections on the larger scale of relations between his Gentile
churches and the mother church in Jerusalem.
3 [1-5] The example of the
Macedonians, a model of what ought to be happening at Corinth, provides Paul
with the occasion for expounding his theology of "giving."
4  The grace of God: the
fundamental theme is expressed by the Greek noun charis, which will be
variously translated throughout these chapters as "grace"
(⇒ 2 Cor 8:1; ⇒ 9:8,
⇒ 14), "favor" (⇒ 2 Cor
8:4), "gracious act" (⇒ 2 Cor
8:6, 7, 9)
or "gracious work" (⇒ 2 Cor 8:19), to be
compared to "gracious gift" (⇒ 1 Cor
16:3). The related term, eucharistia, "thanksgiving," also
occurs at ⇒ 2 Cor 9:11,
⇒ 12. The wordplay is not superficial; various mutations
of the same root signal inner connection between aspects of a single reality,
and Paul consciously exploits the similarities in vocabulary to highlight that
5  Three more terms are now
introduced. Test (dokime): the same root is translated as "to test"
(⇒ 2 Cor 8:8) and "evidence"
(⇒ 2 Cor 9:13); it means to be tried and found
genuine. Abundance: variations on the same root lie behind "overflow"
(⇒ 2 Cor 8:2; ⇒ 9:12),
"excel" (⇒ 2 Cor 8:7), "surplus"
(⇒ 2 Cor 8:14), "superfluous"
(⇒ 2 Cor 9:1) "make abundant" and
"have an abundance" (⇒ 2 Cor 9:8). These
expressions of fullness contrast with references to need (⇒ 2
Cor 8:14; ⇒ 9:12). Generosity: the word
haplotes has nuances of both simplicity and sincerity; here and in
⇒ 2 Cor 9:11, ⇒ 13 it
designates the singleness of purpose that manifests itself in generous giving.
6 [3-4] Paul emphasizes the
spontaneity of the Macedonians and the nature of their action. They begged us
insistently: the same root is translated as "urge,"
"appeal," "encourage" (⇒ 2 Cor
8:6, ⇒ 17;
⇒ 9:5). Taking part: the same word is translated
"contribution" in ⇒ 2 Cor 9:13 and a
related term as "partner" in ⇒ 2 Cor
8:23. Service (diakonia): this word occurs also in
⇒ 2 Cor 9:1, ⇒ 13 as
"service"; in ⇒ 2 Cor 9:12 it is
translated "administration," and in ⇒ 2 Cor
8:19, ⇒ 20 the corresponding verb is
7  They gave themselves . . . to
the Lord and to us: on its deepest level their attitude is one of self-giving.
8  Titus: 1 Cor 16 seemed to leave
the organization up to the Corinthians, but apparently Paul has sent Titus to
initiate the collection as well; ⇒ 2 Cor 8:16-17
will describe Titus' attitude as one of shared concern and cooperation.
9  The charitable service Paul is
promoting is seen briefly and in passing within the perspective of Paul's
theology of the charisms. Earnestness (spoude): this or related terms occur
also in ⇒ 2 Cor 8:22 ("earnest") and
⇒ 2 Cor 8:8, ⇒ 16,
⇒ 17 ("concern").
10  The dialectic of Jesus'
experience, expressed earlier in terms of life and death (⇒ 2
Cor 5:15), sin and righteousness (⇒ 2 Cor
5:21), is now rephrased in terms of poverty and wealth. Many scholars
think this is a reference to Jesus' preexistence with God (his
"wealth") and to his incarnation and death (his "poverty"),
and they point to the similarity between this verse and
⇒ Philippians 2:6-8. Others interpret the wealth and
poverty as succeeding phases of Jesus' earthly existence, e.g., his sense of
intimacy with God and then the desolation and the feeling of abandonment by God
in his death (cf ⇒ Mark 15:34).
11  Eager: the word prothymia also
occurs in ⇒ 2 Cor 8:12,
⇒ 19; ⇒ 9:2.
12 [12-15] Paul introduces the
principle of equality into the discussion. The goal is not impoverishment but
sharing of resources; balance is achieved at least over the course of time. In
⇒ 2 Cor 8:15 Paul grounds his argument unexpectedly
in the experience of Israel gathering manna in the desert: equality was
achieved, independently of personal exertion, by God, who gave with an even
hand according to need. Paul touches briefly here on the theme of "living
13 [16-24] In recommending Titus and
his companions, Paul stresses their personal and apostolic qualities, their good
dispositions toward the Corinthians, and their authority as messengers of the
churches and representatives of Christ.
14  The brother: we do not know
the identity of this co-worker of Paul, nor of the third companion mentioned
below in ⇒ 2 Cor 8:22.
15 [20-22] That anyone blame us:
⇒ 2 Cor 12:16-18 suggests that misunderstandings
may indeed have arisen concerning Paul's management of the collection through
the messengers mentioned here, but those same verses seem to imply that the
Corinthians by and large would recognize the honesty of Paul's conduct in this
area as in others (cf ⇒ 2 Cor 6:3).
16  As Paul began by holding up
the Macedonians as examples to be imitated, he closes by exhorting the
Corinthians to show their love (by accepting the envoys and by cooperating as
the Macedonians do), thus justifying the pride Paul demonstrates because of
them before other churches.
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