Partners in Ministry2 Corinthians 8:16 – 9:5Theme: Sharing.This week’s lessons teach us the blessing of carrying each other’s burdens.
Lesson2 Corinthians falls into three sections. The middle section – chapters 8 and 9 – forms a whole section, because those two chapters deal with a collection that Paul was trying to receive from the church in Corinth. In addition to the church in Corinth, the collection involved the surrounding churches, as well as churches in Macedonia, Achaia, and other parts of the world that he had evangelized.
As I have looked at the verses in this section, I have been struck by the way Paul laid down principles that have to do with giving. They reveal Paul’s sense of partnership in the ministry with others who were sharing with him at this particular period of his missionary work.
This is not an uncharacteristic way for Paul to speak. He was what we would call today a “people person.” Paul was very much interested in individuals. He was very appreciative of those whom God had quite obviously raised up to be fellow workers with him, partners in the ministry in this great task of carrying the Gospel through the known world of the day.
His letter to the Philippians is a good example of that. The church at Philippi had sent money to Paul when he was in prison, and he was writing to thank them for it. But at the end at the second chapter, Paul reflects on Timothy, who had worked with him for so many years. He expresses his appreciation for Timothy and a man named Epaphroditus.
Perhaps the most striking of all the examples of this sensitivity to people in Paul’s writings is found in the sixteenth chapter of the book of Romans. When Paul gets to this last chapter, he just fills it with names of people that he knew about and commended for their Christian service. As he writes about these people at Rome, we find twenty-six individual names, plus groups of people that he refers to as those of the household of Aristobulus and so on.
The striking thing about that is that Paul had never been to Rome, at least not at that stage. Yet he had kept such close tabs on that church and the people who were associated with it that when he came to write this letter, he could speak of Phoebe, Priscilla, Aquilla, Epenetus, Mary, Adronicus, Junius, Ampliatus, Urbanus, Apelles, and Herodion, and so on for twenty-six names. Then at the very end, he gives greetings from the people with whom he is living. He passes those names on to the church at Rome because he is conscious of the fact that though they are separated by all those miles, these people are, nevertheless, workers together in this great work that the Lord Jesus Christ has given the Church.
We have something like that in these verses. Here in 2 Corinthians 8, beginning with verse 16 and on into the ninth chapter as far as verse 5, we have Paul speaking of three brothers who were associated in this particular task of collecting the offering from the churches. He mentions one of them by name, Titus. “I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you” (2 Cor. 8:16). He is really thanking God for Titus.
Then there are two more that, for some reason, are not named. Paul refers to them in verse 18: “And we are sending along with [Titus] the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the Gospel.” And then in verse 22: “In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proven to us in many ways that he is zealous.” And then having spoken of those three, Paul sums it up in verse 23 by talking about Titus, to whom he gives more commendation, and then about their brothers, about whom he says a few more positive things.
According to Dr. Boice, what is Paul’s focus in this section of 2 Corinthians?
What is striking about Paul’s mention of the individuals in Romans 16?
Further StudyRead the following passages to get an idea of Paul’s sensitivity to people: Romans 16; 1 Corinthians 16:19-24; Colossians 4:7-17; 2 Timothy 4:19-21; Philemon 23-24.
ReflectionDo you show personal sensitivity to those in your own Christian community?