An Abundance of Joy

2 Corinthians 8:1–2

Principle for Bible Reading

We take some words in the Christian vocabulary for granted. 2 Corinthians 8:1–2 and 2 Corinthians 8:8 offer a definition of love that you may not have considered. By paying close attention to Paul’s grammar, we find keys to loving people more truly and effectively. We also learn what’s behind the kind of generosity that pleases God.

View the outline.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:40)

Observations (00:40–03:07)

  1. Paul is trying to inspire generosity by sharing the example of the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 8:1).
  2. Affliction and poverty didn’t cease when the Macedonians came to faith (2 Corinthians 8:2).
  3. Surprisingly, these afflicted believers were overflowing with joy (2 Corinthians 8:2).
  4. Their abundance of joy and extreme poverty produced generosity (2 Corinthians 8:2).
  5. Paul called this kind of generosity, “love” (2 Corinthians 8:8).

Defining Love (03:07–05:27)

Love (2 Corinthians 8:8) is the overflow of joy (2 Corinthians 8:2) in the grace of God (2 Corinthians 8:1) that meets the needs of others (2 Corinthians 8:2).

Confirmation from 1 Corinthians 9:7–8 (05:27–07:04)

  1. God loves a cheerful (or joyful) giver. Giving that pleases God is the overflow of joy (2 Corinthians 9:7).
  2. Our giving relies on God making grace abound to us (2 Corinthians 9:8).
  3. Grace leads to joy, and joy produces generosity (2 Corinthians 9:7–8).

Study Questions

  1. What is surprising about the Macedonians’ generosity?
  2. Looking only at 2 Corinthians 8:1–2 and 2 Corinthians 8:8, how would you define love?
  3. What themes do you see in 2 Corinthians 8:1–2 and 2 Corinthians 9:7–8? How do those themes relate to one another?
Piper: “You cannot truly love people if you do not pursue your own joy in God’s grace.”