2 Corinthians 8 - IVP New Testament Commentaries

The Corinthians Should Make Good Their Pledge

At verse 10 Paul once again stresses that he is only offering an opinion rather than giving a command: Here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter. His advice is quite simply to finish the work (v. 11). Two reasons are offered.

First, a considerable time has lapsed since the Corinthians first expressed interest. The year before they had been eager to contribute and had taken some initial steps to do so. But the tragedy of life so often is not that we lack good intentions but that we fail to turn them into action (Barclay 1954:229). Giving may start as a response of the heart, but it must move on to an act of the will. If the Corinthians do not finish the work, then in the final analysis all their good intentions amount to nothing.

Second, the Corinthians currently enjoy a toofold precedence over the Macedonians in that they were the first to give and the first . . . to have the desire to do so (v. 10; M. J. Harris 1976:369). If they had also been the first to finish, they would have truly lived up to their reputation for excellence. But the Macedonians, who were latecomers to the collection effort, finished ahead of the Corinthians. So it is incumbent on the Corinthians now to bring their work to a speedy conclusion so that they do not lose what small advantage they still possess.

Paul's final strategy does not appear until 9:1-5, where he uses a little reverse psychology on the Corinthians. He began his appeal by pointing to the exemplary model of the Macedonian churches. At the end he admits that this sacrificial model is due in part to the boasting about the Achaian churches that he had done while in Macedonia. In particular, he had been bragging about the Corinthians' "eagerness to help" and "readiness to give since last year," which served to "stir most of" the Macedonian churches "to action" (v. 2). How would it look, then, if some visitors from Macedonia should come and find the Corinthians unprepared (v. 4)? It would be rather embarrassing for Paul--not to mention for them (v. 4).

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Paul Tests the Corinthians' Love

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Guidelines for Giving

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