What does 2 Corinthians 8:2 mean?
ESV: for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
NIV: In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
NASB: that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.
CSB: During a severe trial brought about by affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
NLT: They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
KJV: How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
NKJV: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.
Verse Commentary:
The Corinthians are being asked to follow through on their commitment to give funds to the collection for the suffering Christians in Jerusalem. Paul introduces the topic by pointing out how the churches in the region of Macedonia have already given generously to the collection. This is despite Christians in those churches experiencing great affliction in being persecuted for their faith. This resulted in extreme poverty. That did not stop them from being eager to give to meet the needs of others.

Paul describes it almost as an equation. Severe affliction added to abundant joy added to extreme poverty overflowed to a wealth of generosity. This result doesn't make sense from any human perspective. We would expect persecution and poverty to cause any group of people to need funds, not to be so eager to give them. That's why Paul said in the previous verses that these churches had received the grace of God. Their attitude and generosity, in the face of dire circumstances, were evidence of God's generous work in them.
Verse Context:
Second Corinthians 8:1–15 begins with Paul's praise for the churches in Macedonia. These believers begged to be included in giving to a collection for the suffering Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. Paul urges the Corinthians to follow through on their own commitment to do the same thing of their own free will as an act of grace. In doing so, they will also be following the example of Jesus' sacrifice for them. They should give proportionally, using their abundance to meet the need of other believers so that all may have enough.
Chapter Summary:
The Corinthians had previously agreed to contribute to a collection. This was for suffering Christians in Jerusalem. Paul raises the issue with them, pointing to the example of the poverty-stricken Macedonian churches who had given beyond their means of their own free will. Paul urges the Corinthians to follow through on their commitment by their own choice. Titus and two representatives of other churches are coming to Corinth to oversee the collection so it is done with integrity. Paul urges the Corinthians to prove their love by following through on their commitment to give.
Chapter Context:
Second Corinthians 8 follows Paul's expression of comfort and rejoicing at what he learned from Titus. That news explained the Corinthians' repentance in response to Paul's letter of rebuke. Next Paul urges them to follow through on a commitment to contribute to a collection for the suffering Christians in Jerusalem. He points to the example of the generous gifts of the poverty-stricken Macedonian churches and asks the Corinthians to prove that their own Christlike love for others is genuine by excelling in this, as well. Titus and two delegates from other churches will come to Corinth to oversee the collection. In chapter 9, Paul will continue to discuss this ministry opportunity.
Book Summary:
Second Corinthians returns to similar themes as those Paul mentioned in his first letter to this church. Paul is glad to hear that the church in Corinth has heeded his advice. At the same time, it is necessary for Paul to counter criticisms about his personality and legitimacy. Most of this text involves that subject. The fifth chapter, in contrast, contains comforting words which Christians have quoted often in times of hardship. Paul also details his expectations that the church in Corinth will make good on their promise to contribute to the needs of suffering believers in Jerusalem.
Accessed 6/22/2024 6:25:39 PM
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