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Titus Sent to Corinth January 28, 2012

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 2 Corinthians 8:16-9:5.

Summary: Paul begins by giving thanks to God, who gave Titus his zeal for the spiritual welfare of the Corinthians. Even though Titus accepted Paul’s directive for him to go to Corinth, he did not need to be prodded in this regard – instead, he had decided on his own that he would go there. Also, Paul has decided that a brother – who is praised by all of the Macedonian churches for his efforts in spreading the Gospel – would accompany Titus on his journey. This brother has also been appointed by the Macedonian churches to accompany Paul as he takes the collection for the Judean relief effort to Jerusalem; this collection glorifies Christ and demonstrates Paul’s desire to help those in need. By taking these actions, he hopes that nobody will question his integrity when he takes charge of this large sum of money. He acts not only to please God but to commend himself to others.

Paul has also appointed a second brother – who has been rather diligent – to travel with Titus and the above-mentioned brother; this second brother is extremely zealous due to his confidence in the success of their trip to Corinth. He stresses that:

  • Titus labors alongside him in his ministry
  • the other two brothers are delegates of the Macedonian churches, and they glorify Christ.

He exhorts the Corinthians to show their love for Titus and the two above-mentioned brothers, so that they could vindicate Paul’s boasting of them to the Macedonians.

Now Paul notes that the Corinthians do not need to be prodded in terms of taking up the collection for their poor brothers in Jerusalem. He knows their readiness to give, and he has boasted of them to the Macedonians – telling them that since last spring the Corinthians have been ready to take up this collection; their eagerness to give had excited most of the Macedonians to action. To ensure that his boasts have merit, though, he is sending Titus and the two above-mentioned brothers to them; this act will spur them to finish taking up the collection in question. Indeed, if the Macedonians who will accompany him on his next journey to Corinth find that the Corinthians have been negligent in this regard, he will be ashamed. Paul concludes by inferring that he needs to send Titus and the two above-mentioned brothers to Corinth before his journey there so that the collection in question – which is a blessing – can be completed as they had promised last spring; then their gift would be abundant – not a gift that would betray their greed.

Thoughts: In this passage, we see that Paul and the Macedonian churches had appointed two brothers to join Titus in his journey to Corinth. In his commentary on verse 18, Hodge offers some sobering thoughts to those readers who are curious as to their identities:

It was someone subordinate to Titus who was sent along with him as a companion, someone well-known throughout the churches and who especially had the confidence of the Macedonian Christians (verse 19). But these conditions meet in so many of the people mentioned in Acts or in Paul’s letters that they lead to no certain conclusion. Whether, therefore, it was Luke, Mark, Trophimus, or someone else must be left undecided. The question is hardly worth the trouble that commentators have devoted to it.

I must count myself in the set of believers who are curious as to the identities of these two brothers. I am definitely eager to meet them in heaven and learn more about them; in particular, I would want to ask them about their lives in war-torn Macedonia, the reception that the Corinthians gave them when they arrived in Corinth with Titus, and the struggles and triumphs that they experienced in their Christian service.

This passage also states that although the Corinthians had – in the previous spring – resolved to take up a collection for the Judean relief effort, they had not completed this collection. This was the case even though the Corinthians apparently had a great desire to take up this collection. I thought about it and I simply could not understand what hindered the Corinthians in this regard. Did they simply forget about the collection? Did they desire to take it up, but then carry out that task slowly due to a lack of urgency? In either case their zeal would not have been genuine. Now perhaps they were truly zealous in this regard, yet outside forces – in the form of false teachers – strongly opposed their efforts. This is just a hunch on my part, though. Paul seems to indicate that the Corinthians had not fully developed the gift of generosity that they possessed – yet it is strange to view the Corinthians as having the zeal to give while lacking the full gift of generosity.

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