1 Now, brothers, we want you to know about the favor God has given to the churches in Macedonia. 2 [It is] how, in spite of their suffering severe trials, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty produced an overwhelming expression of generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave [financial help] to the full limit of their ability, yes and even beyond it. [And they did this] entirely on their own, 4 [even] pleading with us and requesting the privilege of taking part in this service to the saints [i.e., God's holy people] in Jerusalem. [See also 9:1-15; I Cor. 16:1-2; Rom. 15:25-28]. 5 And they did not [just] do as we had hoped, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and [then] to us through the will of God. 6 So, [i.e., because of your enthusiastic response to this need. See verse 10], we urged Titus, who had previously begun [taking up this collection], to help you also complete this favorable work [i.e., by finalizing it]. 7 But just as you excel in everything [else]; in your faith, in your speaking; in your knowledge [Note: Possibly these refer to spiritual gifts. See I Cor. 12:8-10], in your eagerness [to serve], and in your love for us, now you people should also excel in this favorable work [i.e., of giving financial help to needy people].
8 I am not saying this [to you] as a command, but by telling you how eager others are [to help], to find out how genuine your love is also. 9 For you know the unearned favor of our Lord Jesus Christ, [how] that even though He was rich, He became poor for your sakes, so that through His poverty you people could become [spiritually] rich. 10 Now here is my advice on what is best to do in this matter: Since you were the first ones to begin [taking up a collection] a year ago, [now you should] not only be doing something [about it], but [you should continue] wanting to do something [as well]. 11 So, now finish doing it also, so that just as you were eager to want to, you will also [be eager to] finish it, according to your ability. 12 For if the eagerness is there, [then] whatever a person has [to give] is acceptable, and not what he does not have. 13 I am not saying this to make it easy for others [to give] and difficult for you people, 14 but that there will be equality [i.e., in everyone's giving]. Your abundance can now supply their need, so that their abundance can [later] supply your need. [That way] there can be equality, 15 as it is written [Ex. 16:18], "The person who gathered much [i.e., manna] did not have any left over, and the one who gathered [only] a little [still] had plenty."
16 But I thank God for putting the same concern [that I have] for you in the heart of Titus. 17 For he not only accepted our urging, but being very diligent himself, he went to you of his own accord [i.e. Titus had wanted to go to Corinth even before being urged to]. 18 And we have sent [i.e., are sending] with him the brother who is praised throughout all the churches for [his work in] preaching the Gospel [Note: This "brother" cannot be identified with any certainty]. 19 And not only this, but he was also appointed by the churches to travel with us in [taking] this gift [to Jerusalem] as we minister in order to honor the Lord Himself, and to demonstrate our eagerness [to help poor people]. 20 [We made this arrangement] to avoid anyone blaming us for the way we handled this generous gift. 21 For we take measures to do what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of people. 22 And we have sent [i.e., are sending] with them our brother [Note: This is a different person from the one mentioned in verse 18], who has often proven his diligence to us in many ways, and is now proving to be even more diligent because of the great confidence he has in you [i.e., confidence in the Corinthians completing their collection for the poor]. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow-worker on your behalf. As for our brothers [i.e., those who will accompany him], they are the messengers of the churches and an honor to Christ. 24 [So], demonstrate in front of the churches evidence of your love [for them] and our reason for boasting about you.