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Grant Osborne: “My pleasure!”

At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality. 2 Corinthians 8:14

“Paul had several purposes in developing the collection for the poor:

(1) In verse 26 he calls the gift a “fellowship” (NIV, contribution) indicating a unity of sharing between the Gentile and Jewish factions in the church. The gift from the Gentiles was intended to bind them with the Jews in Jerusalem and to show their love.

(2) In verse 27 he develops the principle of sharing… This has often been called the principle of equality, as in 2 Corinthians 8:14. In other words, the Jews provide help from their spiritual heritage, and the Gentiles provide material help; in that way they find equality before the Lord…

(3) They would see the offering as the fulfillment of the promise that the Gentiles would bring gifts to Zion (Isaiah 2:2-4; 60:6-7, 11; Micah 4:13).

(4) It was an act of joy. Paul emphasizes that the Macedonians and Achaians were pleased to do it in 2 Corinthians 8:2… It simply cannot be stated any better than that. It was a pleasure to give!”

Grant Osborne in Romans (IVPNTC; Downers Grove: IVP, 2004) 397-398.

During lockdown, I miss the occasional visit to food establishments like Chick-fil-A where when you place your order, the cashier politely says, “My pleasure!”

That’s the proverbial flavor of the message of Paul wants the Romans and the Corinthians to hear with regard to the giving of the Macedonians and the Achaians. They were filled with joy and pleased to give.

Today’s our daughter, Sophie, turns 23. I rejoice that your rich generosity always comes with the same spirit: “My pleasure!” She’s always pleased to share whatever God supplies whether it be material or spiritual blessings.

Now I see why Paul would write about the Macedonians and the Achaians in 2 Corinthians and Romans with such enthusiasm. They gave from grateful hearts that were thrilled to share.

When people give with a “My pleasure!” perspective that always makes sure everyone has enough, they are the kind of person everyone wants to be around. They bless everyone they touch. Happy Birthday, dear Sophie!

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Matthew Henry: A Communication

For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. Romans 15:26

“It pleased them. This intimates how ready they were to it — they were not pressed nor constrained to it, but they did it of their own accord; and how cheerful they were in it — they took a pleasure in doing good; and God loves a cheerful giver. To make a certain contribution; koinonian tina — a communication, in token of the communion of saints, and their fellow-membership, as in the natural body one member communicates to the relief, and succour, and preservation of another, as there is occasion. Every thing that passes between Christians should be a proof and instance of that common union which they have one with another in Jesus Christ.”

Matthew Henry in Commentary on Romans 15.

Giving sends a message. Literally, in the Greek the language implies sending “a communication.” What message does your giving send? From Macedonians to Achaia, from Northern to Southern Greece, the Christians were pleased to send a message of support.

Let’s send a message through our giving that God’s work is more important than anything else in our lives.

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John R. W. Stott: The debt that all Gentiles pay

They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. Romans 15:27

“The significance of the offering (the solidarity of God’s people in Jesus Christ) was primarily neither geographical (from Greece to Judea), nor social (from the rich to the poor), nor even ethnic (from Gentiles to Jews), but both religious (from liberated radicals to traditional conservatives, that is, from the strong to the weak), and especially theological (from beneficiaries to benefactors). In other words, the so-called ‘gift’ was in reality a ‘debt’…

The Gentiles must be careful not to be boastful or arrogant. They must rather remember that they have inherited from the Jews enormous blessings to which they have no title. In themselves they are nothing but a wild olive shoot. But having been grafted into God’s ancient olive tree, they ‘now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root’ (11:17). It is right therefore for the Gentiles to acknowledge what they owe to the Jews. When we Gentiles are thinking of the great blessings of salvation, we are hugely in debt to the Jews, and always will be. Paul sees the offering form the Gentile churches as a humble, material, symbolic demonstration of this indebtedness.”

John R. W. Stott in The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (Bible Speaks Today; Downers Grove: IVP, 1994) 386-387.

What is the debt that all Gentiles pay? We are indebted to the Jews for the spiritual blessings we have received through Christ. This does not mean that we need to mail money our Jewish friends. It means we need to take a humble rather than an arrogant posture for the privilege of having been grafted into the family of God.

Even as we have been given a share in Christ, we must hold on loosely to all we have and take a sharing posture. This is the opposite of most Gentiles. Most hold for themselves. So really the debt that all Gentiles pay is one of gratitude and generosity for becoming partakers of the Spirit of God. Our only response is to be rich givers.

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Douglas J. Moo: Fellowship

For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. Romans 15:26

“Paul has not been shy about exhorting these churches to participate in the collection. But their participation is, nevertheless, of their own free will: they were “pleased”; they “freely decided” to make a contribution. Paul suggests something of the significance of this contribution by calling it a koinōnia, literally, a “fellowship.” Here the word clearly means “that which is readily shared,” “contribution,” but there is certainly an allusion to the word’s common use in Paul to denote the loving intimacy of the Christian community.”

Douglas J. Moo in The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; Grand Rapids, 1996) 903.

I am sitting in this verse for a few days with commentators because the language is so powerful. Are you “pleased” to fellowship with others through sharing? By calling it a fellowship, Paul implies how giving knits us together in God’s work.

We actually grasp deeper communion with God and each other through giving and receiving. In sharing freely and willingly we send message to God that our trust is in Him and, in turn, we forge relationships that can only be gained by this experience.

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William Barclay: Practical Action

For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. Romans 15:26

“There was not better way of demonstrating in the most practical way the unity of the Church. This was a way of teaching the young churches that they were not isolated units but members of a great Church extending throughout all the world. The value of giving to others is that it makes us remember that we are not members of a congregation but of a Church that is worldwide. There was no better way of putting Christianity into practical action. It was easy enough to talk about Christian generosity; here was a chance to turn Christian words into Christian deeds”

William Barclay in The Letter to the Romans, revised edition (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975) 205.

The Christians in Macedonians and Achaia took practical action. There was a need and they responded. They “were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people.” Are we likewise so willing?

Some people wrestle with making such giving decisions, but don’t overthink it. If you have been blessed by anyone, help them when they have a need like the Christians in Macedonians and Achaia did. When we do this we show our faith in action.

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Willie James Jennings: The Eyes of Jesus

Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. Acts 3:2

“At the doorway to worship are those whose very presence should discipline praise and guide hope. Before praises go up to God the poor and the lame, sick and pained must be seen. The lame man lay in the path toward praise which is also the path of the disciples. This route was established by Jesus.

The man is precisely the person Jesus will see and demands His disciples see. Peter and John find themselves without an option: time to see with the eyes of Jesus. The man was a daily reminder of the need of Israel itself, for miraculous healing, and for yet another moment of divine revealing…

Peter has no riches to give. He has something else to offer. The contrast of gifts introduces the truth of belonging. There is silver and gold, the gifts of the Caesars of this world, and there are the gifts of God.”

Willie James Jennings in Acts: A Theological Commentary on the Bible (Belief; Louisville: WJKP, 2017) 41-42.

Ever hear anyone say to you that they do not know anyone who is poor or needy? If you do, give this suggestion. Tell them to ask God to give them the eyes of Jesus. What about you?

God wants to bless the world through you. If you are not sure whom to serve, invite the Spirit to guide you. The Spirit through people is the main character of Acts of the Apostles and the Church today.

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R. Kent Hughes: Good Prospects

And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Acts 3:7-9

“As Peter and John moved along with the flow of the crowd, they providentially encountered a beggar being borne on a litter to his usual post. He had been a congenital cripple for all of his life. Having never taken a step, he had to be carried everywhere he went. . .

Though they had not even come to the gate, the beggar caught sight of Peter and John, who probably looked like good prospects. So he began his mechanical beggar’s wail, which he undoubtedly repeated millions of times. . . Peter responded, “Look at us.”

As the beggar turned expectantly Peter said, “I have no silver and gold.” Perhaps the beggar began to frown. Perhaps he thought he was being mocked. But then came those immortal words: “. . . but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”

The poor man knew he could not walk, so he did not budge. But Peter, doing a typically Peter thing, grabbed him by the right hand and began to hoist him up. . . Sometimes we miss the drama and the significance of miracles like this one because we do not allow our imaginations to catch the fact that it happened instantly. . . The man was healed in a flash. . .

What does the Spirit-filled church impart? It imparts what is has! There is a spiritual axiom here: you can only give away what is truly yours. . . The miracle was both literal and parabolic, because the Spirit-filled church dispenses more than care for the body—it brings healing to the soul. In place of spiritual lameness, there can be leaping.”

R. Kent Hughes in Acts: The Church Afire (Preaching the Word)(Wheaton: Crossway, 2014) 53-56.

When people see you coming along, do they see a good prospect? Think about it. Consider how people perceive you. When they see you coming, do they say to themselves: that guy or gal looks kind and loving, generous and compassionate.  Surely he or she will help me by giving me a hand up!

We cannot impart anything that we do not first receive from God. But when connected to that source, we can, like Peter and John, be generous and lift people up, so that the lame leap with joy. Make us good prospects by filling us with your Spirit and compassion, Jesus, to minister richly to those in need today.

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Craig S. Keener: Agents of Faith

By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through Him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. Acts 3:16

“Peter’s lack of silver reinforces the picture of serving the Lord sacrificially… The heart of the account, as demonstrated by the dialogues that follow is that healing occurs in Jesus’ name, which offers salvation and wholeness. That is, Jesus remains active and works through those agents He has chosen and commissioned…

While believer prayed together daily in the temple, and this man was brought daily, it is only on this occasion when the man requests alms from the apostles, that they address him… Their lack of silver and gold fits Luke’s distinctive emphasis, including Jesus instructions to His followers (Luke 9:2-6; 10:4, 9; 12:41-42)…

The man is healed because of faith in Jesus’ name (3:16). Peter expresses faith by commanding the healing and lifting the man up; apparently the healed man also expresses faith by recognizing what has happened and acting accordingly (3:8)… Nevertheless, these commands are effective only because Jesus’ agents act within His purposes…

Acting by means of Jesus’ name here means acting on His authorization. Analogously, “in God’s name” could signify a representative acting on God’s behalf, according to His command, by His help, or using His name in a miraculous act. Invoking Jesus’ name may also implicitly call on Jesus… Essentially Jesus continues to act through those who bear His name; thus the credit belongs to Him not His agents.”

Craig S. Keener in Acts (NCBC; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020) 182-184.

Notice the source of power for generous service. It flows from the name of Jesus! When His followers serve as agents of faith and obey His command not to trust money to make ministry happen, He shows up for them. He works in mighty ways.

We must not lose this perspective in modern times. It was the name of Jesus that made people strong back then and it holds the same power today. If you want to minister generously, don’t depend on money. Serve, instead, as an agent of faith.

I want to honor my mother today, Patsy Hoag, as it is Mother’s Day, and my wife, Jenni Hoag, too. They are two amazing women, and their strength in the name of Jesus, flows from their deep relationship with Him.

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Darrell Bock: Give attention

When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Acts 3:3-5

“The lame man is there to ask for alms of the worshipers; giving alms was a responsibility that Judaism took seriously as an expression of compassion that honored God… The lame man is asking for alms… The lame man would have made this request of all who were passing by to go to the temple. Peter, with John gives him attention… Peter demands the man’s attention by calling on him to look at them… Seeking the man’s attention tells him that a response is coming, but it will not be what he expects.”

Darrell Bock in Acts (BECNT; Grand Rapids, Baker, 2007) 160-161.

Most people don’t “pay attention” to poor and needy people. Notice that Peter and John “give attention” to this lame man and bless him beyond imagination in the name of Jesus.

When our giving is what people expect to receive, it will generally follow cultural patterns and flow from finite human resources rather than divine blessing that directs glory to God.

In this scene, which I am studying to preach for a recorded message next week, I am moved that compassionate generosity is about giving attention. It’s about holy noticing the needs of people.

Father, help us by your Spirit to “give attention” to those in need and then call them to watch how Jesus can meet them in their place of crisis and minister in unexpected ways. Amen.

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Ajith Fernando: Silver and Strength

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Acts 3:6

“An economically poor church that is able to harness the power of God is actually a rich church. It is sad that with the increase of riches, dependence on God and consequently spiritual power often become less. It is unfortunately possible to use things that money can buy, such as a wonderful gymnasium for the youth or a grand pipe organ for worship, to have an impressive program and mask spiritual poverty. Economic poverty is sometimes a gift, for it forces us to look to God for strength.”

Ajith Fernando in Acts (NIVAC; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998) 149.

What is the strength of your church? What are you depending on in your personal life to make things happen? Is it material wealth or spiritual riches? These are not insignificant questions, and they are also very revealing ones.

I am studying Acts 3:1-10 to record a sermon on it for my pastor friend, Eric Tober, and what strikes me is that Peter holds nothing back.  After saying “silver or gold I do not have” he adds, “but what I do have I give you.” He shows his strength is in God.

See that! Don’t miss it. That’s generosity. Sharing freely what we have. And notice, even though he had nothing materially to share, he could still be generous. So can we! We can share help, hope, and healing in the name of Jesus.

That’s what our world needs. It needs you and I to give what we have so that we remain dependent on God for strength. Remember, God looks not at what we give, but at what we don’t give, for it reveals where we place our trust.

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