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Thursday, April 18, 2019

2019.04.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 7:13-8:7

Questions for Littles: In what has Paul and his team found comfort (2 Corinthians 7:13)? Whom else’s joy has made them rejoice? How much? What made Titus rejoice? To whom had Paul and company spoken all things in truth (2 Corinthians 7:14)? To whom had he boasted about the Corinthians? Did those boasts come true? What two things have increased Titus’s affection for the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 7:15)? In what does Paul say he has confidence in the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 7:16)? Now, in 2 Corinthians 8:1, about whom is Paul boasting? What are their circumstances (2 Corinthians 8:2)? Of what do they have an abundance? What are they deeply in? In what did this poverty abound? According to what did they give (2 Corinthians 8:3)? Beyond what did they give? How intensely does 2 Corinthians 8:4 say that they asked the apostle to do something? What did they ask him to do? In what did they want to have fellowship? To Whom had they given themselves first (2 Corinthians 8:5)? And then, as a result, to whom? By whose will did this happen? Who had been making this collection from the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 8:6a)? From whom also did Paul urge Titus to continue collecting (verse 6b)? In what five things does the apostle say that they abound (2 Corinthians 8:7a)? In what does he now exhort them to abound (verse 7b)? What does he mean by “this grace”?
In this week’s Epistle reading, there is much boasting going on. The Macedonian churches sound pretty amazing. In great trial of affliction, they have overflowing joy. In deep poverty, they give with overflowingly rich generosity.

Upon first reading, one might wonder whether these churches are riddled with flaws like all of the churches that we have ever been a part of. But then, we might notice what the apostle has to say about the Corinthian church. Sure, there have been hints of good things here and there (particularly recently); but on the whole, my or your first description of this congregation might not have been “abounding in faith, speech, knowledge, diligence, and love.” Even if it were suddenly amazing (looking at the way he feels compelled to appeal to them in the rest of the letter, I’m not convinced that it was), the Corinthian church’s average rating on the internet might have taken quite a bit longer to recover than this.

So, how is the apostle able to speak with such encouragement about them? I think we have hints in 2 Corinthians 8:12 Corinthians 8:52 Corinthians 8:62 Corinthians 8:7. It was “the grace of God” that was bestowed on the churches of Macedonia. It was “by the will of God” that the Macedonians had given. And in verses 6-7, the apostle refers to the opportunity for the Corinthians to give as “this grace in you.”

Grace! That’s why the apostle is exceedingly gladdened and comforted by every glimmer of anything good in the Corinthians (and Macedonians). Because it is the fruit of the almighty power of God, exercised in the infinitely merciful grace of God!

May God give us grace—to abound with joy over every evidence of His grace in others!
Over whom in your church do you have difficulty rejoicing greatly? What are some evidences of grace in them over which you can rejoice?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

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