The Act of Grace

Notes for Feb. 25, 2018
2 Corinthians 8:1-11

Biblical Background

  • Paul’s previous comments on giving: In 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, Paul tells the Corinthians about the need to collect funds to help Christians in need.

  • Positive Role Models and Comparison of rivals: Paul uses a standard rhetorical technique for his day which was to offer models for the audience to compare themselves to. In this case, he highlights the positive generosity of the Macedonian churches as an example to follow. In this case as well, there was a regional rivalry in the culture between Macedonia and Corinth, so it might be like telling Washington Redskin fans about the generosity of the Dallas Cowboys as a means of spawning some healthy competition.

  • Hardship in Macedonia: The Macedonian church had endured some persecution and hardship, so their example of generosity toward other churches – even giving beyond their means – was a stirring example of sacrifice for the kingdom.

  • Giving alms according to one’s ability: The Old Testament encourages giving, each according to one’s ability to give (Deuteronomy 15:14; Ezra 2:69) but here the Macedonians give beyond their ability.

  • Privilege of Giving: The Macedonians see their giving as a means of showing hospitality toward others and counted it a privilege rather than an obligation.

  • In service to the saints: The Macedonians saw giving as a means of serving the Christians who had less than they had.

  • Titus began the appeal: Titus had asked the Corinthians earlier to help out the churches in need.

  • The grace or gift of giving: Giving is a spiritual gift just as is teaching, faith, etc…

  • Not commanding the act of giving: Biblical giving occurs when a person’s motivation comes from the heart, from within. It is not forced or coerced or manipulated.

  • Christ the ultimate example in giving: Christians should be giving as a means of imitating their Lord

  • Corinthian Church was a wealthy church: The Corinthian church had means and wealth and so Paul is encouraging to share with those churches that don’t have as much.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the “grace of God” given to the Macedonian churches?

  2. Paul shares the example of the Macedonian Churches giving generously to churches in need. Why does he do this do you think?

  3. What can we learn about giving from the Macedonian churches?

  4. How did the Macedonian churches view the act of giving?

  5. What does it mean to “given oneself first to the Lord and then to us”?

  6. How can we do God’s will according to this passage?

  7. What gifts had God given the Corinthian church?

  8. What gifts has God given our church?

  9. Why doesn’t Paul command the Corinthians to give?

  10. How is Jesus Christ a model for us in giving? Why is this an important point?

  11. How often does Paul ask the Corinthians to give to churches less fortunate than their own?

  12. What are some examples in which you’ve seen wealthy churches like the Corinthian church give generously to other churches who may be in need?

  13. How might God be calling our church to give generously to other churches who not as well off financially than ours?

  14. How might God be calling you to give generously toward the work of God?

  15. Share an example of biblical generosity.