Join us as we study through 2 Corinthians verse by verse. Our discussion questions, teaching points, and applications can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.
2 Corinthians 8:16-25 Bible Study Lesson – Accountability and Team In Collections
I. Commendation of the Team
- How does this passage fit in with the context about giving?
- Why did Titus want to go to them?
- Who else was on this team?
- Who might the “brother who is famous” be?
- Who appointed this brother to go? What might his role have been? What does this brother’s role teach us about the importance of accountability?
- Why might someone blame them (verse 20)? How could this brother’s position help keep them blameless?
- Who is the third member of the team?
- What can we learn about team and partnering from this passage?
- How can the phrase “there is safety in numbers” apply to Christian workers?
- How did Paul ask the Corinthians to respond to these brothers?
1 John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
Titus 1:4 – To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 – Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
1 Corinthians 3:9 – For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Ephesians 4:16 – From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
1. Thanks be to God – Paul has an attitude of thanksgiving. When good things happen, he turns them back to God with gratitude. He could have just said, “Titus has earnest heart for you.” But he realized that Titus’ earnest heart was due to God’s grace in his life. This reflects a worldview that realizes every “good gift is from above.” (James 1:17)
Application: Gratitude to God should be constantly seeping out of us. Even when people do well, we should acknowledge that ultimately their good deeds originated in God’s grace. When we have this perspective, we will be more joyful, more humble, and complain less. At the same time we should not take credit for our own good deeds, knowing that God started this good work in us and it would not be possible without Him.
2. Who put into Titus the same earnest care I have for you – What motivated Titus to sacrifice his time for the Corinthian church? It was simple. He cared for them. Caring for people is more than just words. It is more than just saying, “I will pray for you.”
Titus showed his care by going on a long trip and giving his time for the Corinthians. It is easy to say, “I care.” It is much harder to sacrifice yourself for others.
Ultimately this heart for others comes from God. Therefore we should ask God to work in us and give us more love for others.
3. He is going to you of his own accord – We have learned in the first part of chapter 8, that generosity cannot be coerced. Giving done under pressure is not sincere, does not please God, and probably can’t be sustained.
In the same way, ministering to others cannot be forced. Ministry is challenging. It often comes with a high cost. The one ministering for God must sacrifice something. That could include: time, comfort, convenience, security, even himself. The choice to do that has to come from within. A person who is pressured into doing it, or the person who does it for the wrong reasons is likely to burn out.
Titus made that choice himself. Paul encouraged him, but in the end it was in between him and God.
Application: Every believer is responsible to God for his decisions. You should not do things because people are watching you and expect you to live a certain way. Rather, you should strive to please God in all you do. In the Old Testament there were different types of offerings. Sin offerings were mandatory. But peace offerings were freewill sacrifices where a person brought a gift to God of his own accord. It is when we offer our life as a freewill offering to the Lord that the sacrifice is most meaningful (Romans 12:1).
4. We are sending the brother who is famous – It is not clear from this passage who this brother is. Evidently the Corinthians were well acquainted with him so they did not need an introduction.
In verse 19, Paul says that this brother was “appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace.”
Basically this brother’s role was to keep them accountable and make sure that the funds were collected in a transparent way. That brings us to a key point as it relates to giving.
5. The collecting of funds should be done in a transparent and above board way –
Money is one of the most talked about issues in the Bible. Greed, theft, bribes, corruption, and many more sins are related to money. In fact, in 1 Timothy 6:10 it says that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
Money leads many astray, even in the church. Embezzlement scandals sometimes rock the church and harm its testimony.
Modern day charities are generally very careful. People want to make sure that their money actually goes to the place or the cause they are donating it to. Great pains are taken to be transparent. Organizations have to file a lot of paperwork and submit to external audits.
But how about in the early church? There was no external system to keep people accountable. But it was important for the givers to know their gift was used properly and made it to where they wanted it to go.
Proper accountability protected the gift from being misused, the giver from wasting their money, and the team collecting the funds from false accusations.
Throughout these verses we can see that it was very important to Paul to collect these funds in a blameless way. He was aware of the pitfalls that might come if a single person was entrusted with this large sum of money. So he made sure that a single person was not responsible.
Here are some references to Paul’s consideration on this issue:
- For the glory of the Lord (19)
- So that no one should blame us (20)
- We aim at what is honorable (21)
- Not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man (21)
We see clearly Paul’s motivation. He wanted to keep a clear conscience before God knowing that they were responsible to God. At the same time, he wanted to keep a clear conscience in the site of man. He did not want this gift to be a cause of division, factions, accusation. He did not want it to become a stumbling block or an opportunity for Satan to gain a foothold and sow discord.
So Paul took a number of precautions, some of which he already mentioned in a previous letter.
1 Corinthians 16:1-3 – Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem.
A. The collection should be taken up before he want so that he would not need to handle the actual money himself.
B. The Corinthians should appoint their own representative to accompany the collection the entire way to Jerusalem.
C. He sends a trusted colleague (Titus) to finish the collection effort. Titus himself was blameless and had been in charge of appointing elders.
D. Titus goes as part of a three man team, one of whom is specifically appointed by the churches to go with them as an objective accountability partner. He too is a man of great character and repute, being praised by all the churches.
As far as Paul could, he took pre-emptive measure to make sure that this collection would be done above board. It is far better to plan ahead, foreseeing problems and then avoiding them than it is to have a casual attitude.
Reflect: Does taking precautions signal distrust to the person in charge of collecting offerings or other donations? If you trust someone, should you still take precautions? Why or why not?
It should be noted that making sure there is transparency in no way says, “I do not trust you.” It is not a matter of trust. But it minimizes temptation. It also protects the person doing the collections from false accusations. Without clear guidelines and processes a person might be left unable to defend himself from a false accusation. Thus his reputation could suffer through no fault of his own.
Application: Wherever you have influence, use that influence to make sure that money (offerings, tithes, donations, etc.) is handled with transparency. There should be clear processes and guidelines. And there is safety in numbers. For example, one “rule” could be that 3 people are always present when counting the money. In more general terms, we should not give the devil an opportunity to tempt the flesh (Ephesians 4:27, Romans 13:14).
6. The importance of team (23) – Paul calls Titus his “partner and fellow worker.” And the brothers who went with Titus were also messengers of the churches.
Although Paul was an apostle, he was not a one-man show. He did not lord his authority over others. He did not push and bully. It wasn’t Paul and his lackeys. He consider Titus to be his partner. And he had many partners. He realized the value of team.
Reflect: What are some of the benefits of team?
- A team can get much more accomplished than a single person.
- A team can help to pick up a member who falls.
- A team can keep each other accountable.
- A team can exercise positive “peer pressure.”
- A team can act as a safeguard and minimize temptation.
- A team can deflect accusations that could more easily land on one individual.
- A team can have more collective wisdom than one person does.
- A team can acts to cover over weaknesses and increase strengths since people would be more free to pursue what they are gifted at.
- A team can help keep each person humble.
- A team can help members learn to cooperate.
- A team can share the load.
Paul’s ministry model is centered on the team.
Application: Are you on a team? If so, is it a healthy team? What can you do this week to be a better team member?
7. Give proof before the churches of your love and our boasting –
Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Here Paul is attempting to stir up the Corinthians to love and good deeds. He encourages them to prove their love by finishing collecting this gift. Having boasted of them to others, Paul called on them to make his boasting come true. Now it is was time for their love to manifest itself in action.
1 John 3:18 – Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
Application: How can you love in deed and in truth this week?
2 Corinthians 1:1-11
2 Corinthians 1:12-24
2 Corinthians 2:1-11
2 Corinthians 2:12-17
2 Corinthians 3:1-6
2 Corinthians 3:7-18
2 Corinthians 4:1-6
2 Corinthians 4:7-12
2 Corinthians 4:13-18
2 Corinthians 5:1-10
2 Corinthians 5:11-15
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
2 Corinthians 6:1-10
2 Corinthians 6:11-18
2 Corinthians 7:1-5
2 Corinthians 7:6-16
2 Corinthians 8:1-7
2 Corinthians 8:8-15
2 Corinthians 8:16-24
2 Corinthians 9:1-7
2 Corinthians 9:8-15
2 Corinthians 10:1-6
2 Corinthians 10:7-18
2 Corinthians 11:1-15
2 Corinthians 11:16-33
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
2 Corinthians 12:11-21
2 Corinthians 13
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