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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
2 Corinthians 9

 

 

Verse 1

1. περὶ μὲν γὰρ τῆς διακονίας. The μέν looks forward to the second point, which comes in 2 Corinthians 9:3 (δέ): the γάρ looks back to the end of 8—the reception of the three delegates. But, as μέν and δέ cover 2 Corinthians 9:1-4, this shows that the explanation implied in γάρ is to be looked for in 2 Corinthians 9:1-4, not in 2 Corinthians 9:1 only. Thus understood, the connexion between 8 and 9 is natural enough. To say that 2 Corinthians 9:1 does not explain 2 Corinthians 8:24 is to state the case incorrectly. See the note at the end of this chapter. For the use of εἰς in τῆς εἰς τοὺς ἁγίους see on 2 Corinthians 8:4 and comp. 2 Corinthians 9:13. For διακονία see on 2 Corinthians 9:12.

περισσόν μοί ἐστιν τὸ γράφειν. It is superfluous for me to write, because he is sending men who are competent, and because the Corinthians do not need to be told their duty. Nevertheless, in his intense anxiety, he does write about it. He must take every means to secure a good result. περιττὴν ἐκάλεσε τὴν περὶ τῆς φιλοτιμίας παραίνεσιν· οὐ περιττὴν ὅντως ὑπολαμβάνων, ἀλλὰ τῇ τοιαύτῃ τῶν λόγων μεθόδῳ πρὸς πλείω διεγείρων φιλοτιμίαν (Theodoret).


Verses 1-5

1–5. The assistance to be rendered to the three delegates. What the Corinthians have to give should be collected soon, so as to be ready when S. Paul arrives.


Verse 2

2. οἶδα γὰρ τ. προθυμίαν. For I know your readiness, of which I am glorying on your behalf to the Macedonians. He is still in Macedonia. Excepting Acts 17:11, προθυμία is peculiar to 2 Cor. (2 Corinthians 8:11-12; 2 Corinthians 8:19); and καυχῶμαι is specially frequent (2 Corinthians 5:12, 2 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 10:15-17, 2 Corinthians 11:12; 2 Corinthians 11:16, &c.); with an acc. of the thing gloried in (2 Corinthians 7:14, 2 Corinthians 10:8, 2 Corinthians 11:30). The present tense covers his action since Titus brought the good news. See Mayor on James 1:9.

Ἀχαία παρεσκεύασται ἀπὸ πέρυσι. Achaia has been prepared since last year, or ‘for a year past’ (R.V.). When 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 was written, Achaia was by no means ready. The troubles in Corinth would put an end to the collection for a time; but now that they are over, the Apostle is glorying of their earlier readiness. For ἀπὸ πέρυσι see on 2 Corinthians 8:10. For ὑμῶν between art. and noun see on 2 Corinthians 12:19.


Verse 3

3. ἔπεμψα δέ. This is the second point, the δέ of the μέν in 2 Corinthians 9:1. But I am sending (epistolary aorist, as in 2 Corinthians 8:17-18; 2 Corinthians 8:22) the brethren, that our glorying on your behalf may not be made void in this particular (2 Corinthians 3:10), in the matter of the relief fund.


Verse 4

4. ἐὰν ἔλθωσιν σὺν ἑμοὶ ΄ακεδόνες. If any Macedonians come with me. This seems to imply that neither of the brethren who were to accompany Titus was a Macedonian. If Luke was one of these, this verse is against his being of Philippi.

ἀπαρασκευάστους. Here only in Biblical Greek and rare in classical, where MSS. sometimes vary between it and the more common form ἀπαράσκευος.

καταισχυνθῶμεν ἡμεῖς. We should be put to shame (2 Corinthians 7:14; Romans 10:11) in this confidence. See critical note. The word ὑπόστασις has a long and important history, only one or two points of which can be noted here. In classical Greek it is ‘ground’ or ‘foundation’; then ‘ground of hope’ or ‘ground of confidence’; and finally ‘hope’ or ‘confidence.’ In the LXX. it occurs 20 times and represents 15 different Hebrew words; but in some cases the Hebrew text is uncertain. Comp. ἡ ὑπόστασίς μου παρὰ σοῦ ἐστιν, ‘my ground of hope is from Thee’ (Psalms 38:8); also Ruth 1:12; Ezekiel 19:5, where Theodotion has ἐλπίς. See Hatch, Essays in Biblical Greek, p. 88, and Westcott on Hebrews 3:14. The ‘confidence’ in this case is that of the Apostle in the Corinthian Christians. Comp. 2 Corinthians 11:17.


Verse 5

5. The threefold προ- is doubtless intentional: he insists that all must be ready before he arrives. Comp. 2 Corinthians 13:2 and the repetition of πᾶς in 2 Corinthians 9:8.

προεπηγγελμένην. Afore-promised (R.V.); ‘announced beforehand by the Apostle to the Macedonians,’ or perhaps simply ‘promised long ago.’

εὐλογίαν. This also is a word which has gone through various phases. It is used, 1. of praise to God (Revelation 7:12), and to men, whether bestowed by God (Galatians 3:14; Romans 15:29) or by men (Hebrews 12:17): 2. of the invocation of blessings (Hebrews 12:17; James 3:10): 3. of a concrete blessing or benefit (Hebrews 6:7; 1 Peter 3:9): 4. of a benefit or gift bestowed by men; which is the meaning here. Comp. Genesis 33:11; Joshua 15:19; Judges 1:15; 1 Samuel 25:27; Ezekiel 34:26. See Westcott on Hebrews 7:1. Gifts are a blessing both to those who give (Acts 20:35) and to those who receive. It is the latter aspect which is indicated here: Corinthian bounty will be a blessing to Palestinian need.

ὡς εὐλογίαν καὶ μὴ ὡς πλεονεξίαν. ‘Give in a generous spirit, and not in a covetous one, keeping back all you can.’ The R.V. substitutes ‘matter of extortion’ for ‘matter of covetousness’ (A.V.), and thus makes εὐλογία refer to the Corinthians, and πλεονεξία to himself and his colleagues, as if they were putting pressure on the Corinthians. But both φειδομένως and ἐπʼ εὐλογίαις in 2 Corinthians 9:6 refer to the Corinthians, and φειδομένως is evidently synonymous with ὡς πλεονεξίαν. To give less than one ought to the needy is to disregard the claims of others and have too much oneself; and this is exactly πλεονεξία. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:5; Ephesians 4:19; Ephesians 5:3; and see Lightfoot on Colossians 3:5 and Romans 1:9. Avaritia enim vocatur datio, quae fit tenaci et parco ac tristi animo; benedictio autem, quae fit largo et alacri animo (Herveius Burgidol).


Verse 6

6. Τοῦτο δέ. Neither φημί (1 Corinthians 7:29) nor λέγω (Galatians 3:17) nor ἴστε (Ephesians 5:5) need be supplied, although any one of them may. ‘But as to this,’ or ‘But it is just this,’ is quite intelligible. Comp. ἔν δέ (Philippians 3:14) and the classical δυοῖν θάτερον. The Apostle is dictating and uses brevity. The τοῦτο emphasises what follows, in which the chiasmus should be preserved in translation: He that soweth sparingly, sparingly shall also reap, and he that soweth on the principle of blessings, on the principle of blessings shall also reap. Comp. Galatians 6:7. The fitness of the metaphor of sowing and reaping is insisted on by Chrysostom. Comp. εἰσὶν οἳ τὰ ἴδια σπείροντες πλείονα ποιοῦσιν· εἰσὶν καὶ οἳ συνάγοντες ἐλαττονοῦνται (Proverbs 11:24): also Non esse cupidum, pecunia est, non esse emacem, vectigal est (Cic. Parad. VI. iii. 51). For this use of ἐπί comp. Romans 5:14 and see Westcott on Hebrews 8:6. The rare word φειδομένως occurs here only in Biblical Greek: once in Plutarch (Alex. xxv). For the chiasmus comp. 2 Corinthians 2:16, 2 Corinthians 4:3, 2 Corinthians 6:8, 2 Corinthians 10:11, 2 Corinthians 13:3.


Verses 6-15

6–15. EXHORTATION TO GIVE LIBERALLY AND CHEERFULLY

Having gloried in the former readiness of the Corinthians, in order to encourage the Macedonians, and having told the Corinthians of the spontaneous generosity of the Macedonians, in order to encourage the Corinthians, and having begged the latter not to prove his glorying on their behalf void by showing unwillingness now, he presses home his appeal by other arguments. 1. Giving is not loss, but a sowing which will bring a harvest, if only it is done in a right spirit (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). 2. God can and will bestow, not only the right spirit, but the means of exercising it (8–11). 3. Their bounty will relieve the necessities of those who receive it, and will also increase their thankfulness to God and their love to the givers (11–14).


Verse 7

7. ἕκαστος καθὼς προῄρηται. Here again the verbless sentence is as intelligible in English as in Greek (comp. Romans 5:18): Each man just as he has determined in his heart; not out of grief, or out of necessity. Comp. οὐ λυπηθήσῃ τῇ καρδίᾳ σου διδόντος σου αὐτῷ (Deuteronomy 15:10). For προαιρεῖσθαι comp. Proverbs 21:25; Isaiah 7:15.

ἱλαρὸν γὰρ δότην ἀγαπᾶ̣ ὁ θεός. It is a joyful giver that God loveth: ἱλαρόν is emphatic by position, and it means something more than ‘cheerful.’ The word is late Greek, not rare in the LXX. (Job 33:26; Proverbs 19:12; Sirach 13:26; Sirach 26:4; &c.), but nowhere else in the N.T. In Romans 12:8 we have ὁ ἐλεῶν ἐν ἱλαρότητι: comp. Proverbs 18:22; Ps. Sol. 4:6, 16:12. The words here are an echo of the addition in the LXX. to Proverbs 22:8, ἄνδρα ἱλαρὸν καὶ δότην εὐλογεῖ ὁ θεός. The substitution of ἀγαπᾶ̣ for εὐλογεῖ is the more remarkable, because εὐλογει would harmonize with ἐπʼ εὐλογίαις in 2 Corinthians 9:6. The Rabbis said that he who gave nothing, but received his friend with a cheerful countenance, was better than he who gave all with a gloomy countenance. Si panem dederis tristis, et panem et meritum perdidisti (Augustine).


Verse 8

8. δυνατεῖ δὲ ὁ θεός. Comp. δυνατεῖ γὰρ ὁ κύριος (Romans 14:4). In both places later authorities substitute δυνατός, because δυνατεῖ is an unusual word. The thought is, ‘Do not set this aside as an impossible standard; God can, and will (2 Corinthians 9:10), help.’

πᾶσαν χάριν περισσεῦσαι εἰς ὑμᾶς. A very comprehensive statement: χάριν includes, and here specially means, earthly blessings as opportunities of benevolence; comp. 2 Corinthians 8:6. Where there is the spirit of benevolence, the power to exercise benevolence is sure to be given. Chrysostom paraphrases; ἐμπλῆσαι ὑμᾶς τοσούτων ὡς δύνασθαι περιττεύειν ἐν τῇ φιλοτιμίᾳ ταύτῃ. For περισσεύειν transitive see on 2 Corinthians 4:15.

ἐν παντὶ πάντοτε πᾶσαν κ.τ.λ. In order to preserve the characteristic alliteration and repetition we may turn singulars into plurals without change of meaning; always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to all good works. Comp. 2 Corinthians 7:4, 2 Corinthians 8:22; Philippians 1:3-4; Acts 21:28; Acts 24:3; also διὰ παντὸς πᾶσαν πάντως προθυμίαν πειρᾶσθε ἔχειν (Plat. Menex. 347 A).

αὐτάρκειαν. ‘Self-sufficiency, being independent of help from others’—a word which has played a prominent part in Greek philosophy, especially in the tenets of the Cynics and Stoics. Aristotle is at pains to distinguish the true αὐτάρκεια from that which the Cynics advocated (Eth. Nic. I. vii. 6; comp. x. vi. 2; Pol. I. ii. 14). The occurrence of this term in such close proximity to προαιρεῖσθαι (another word which is frequent in the Nicomachean Ethics, but occurs nowhere else in the N.T.) has led to the surmise that S. Paul was acquainted with the Aristotelian philosophy. See last note on 2 Corinthians 9:10. In 1 Timothy 6:6 αὐτάρκεια is rendered ‘contentment,’ the subjective feeling of self-sufficiency and independence. For αὐτάρκης comp. Philippians 4:11, where see Lightfoot’s note. Here the point is that the less a man wants, the greater his self-sufficiency and his power of helping other people.


Verse 9

9. καθὼς γέγραπται. Even as it is written: what has just been stated is exactly what is said of the benevolent man in Scripture; He scattered, he gave to the needy (Psalms 112:9). The difference between πτωχός, the common word for ‘poor’ in the N.T. (2 Corinthians 6:10; Romans 15:26; Galatians 2:10; Galatians 4:9; &c.), and πένης, which occurs here only, should be marked in translation. Both words are classical, and both occur together in Psalms 40:17; Psalms 41:1; Psalms 70:5; Psalms 72:13; Psalms 74:21; Psalms 86:1; Psalms 109:22; Ezekiel 16:49; Ezekiel 18:12; Ezekiel 22:29. In this passage no English Version makes any distinction, although ‘poor and needy’ is so familiar from the Psalms. Nor does the Vulgate, which in the O.T. is very capricious in passages where both words occur. Commonly it has egenus et pauper, but sometimes pauper et inops, and once mendicus et pauper. In the Beatitudes Tertullian preferred beati mendici to beati pauperes, as being closer to the Greek (adv. Marc. iv. 14). Of the two words πτωχός (πτώσσω, ‘I crouch’) is the stronger, implying abject poverty. See Trench, Syn. § xxxvi.; Hatch, Biblical Greek, p. 73. In Ἐσκόρπισεν we have the opposite of σπείρων φειδομένως (2 Corinthians 9:6): μετὰ δαψιλείας ἔδωκε (Chrys.): verbum generosum, spargere, plena manu, sine anxia cogitatione quorsum singula grana cadant (Bengel). Both in LXX., where it is frequent, and in N.T. (Matthew 12:30 = Luke 11:23; John 10:12; John 16:32) it is commonly used of ‘scattering to the winds,’ ‘putting to flight,’ or ‘dispersing.’

ἡ δικαιοσύνη αὐτοῦ. The righteousness which includes and manifests itself in φιλανθρωπία. It is not clear what is meant by the righteousness of the benevolent man enduring for ever. In Psalms 111 [112] it is twice said (2 Corinthians 9:3; 2 Corinthians 9:9) of the good man ἡ δικαιοσύνη αὐτοῦ μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος, which is variously interpreted; [1] that the wealth which is the means and the reward of his benevolence will never cease; [2] that he will practise righteousness as long as he lives; [3] that his good deeds will never be forgotten among men; [4] that God will give an everlasting reward; [5] that virtue is imperishable; a good deed remains a good deed for ever. In the previous Psalm (2 Corinthians 9:3-4) the same expression is used of God; ‘His righteousness standeth fast for ever. He hath made a memorial for His wonderful works.’ This perhaps means that the wonderful things which He has done, especially for Israel, will for ever be remembered to His glory. What is true of the good God is in a degree true also of the good man; but God’s remembrance of good deeds is perhaps chiefly in S. Paul’s mind. That he omits τοῦ αἰῶνος after εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα in order to limit the meaning to this life, is not likely: εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα may include the life to come (John 8:51; John 11:26; John 12:34; &c.). S. Paul himself commonly writes εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, with (Galatians 5:4; Philippians 4:20; 1 Timothy 1:17; &c.) or without (Romans 1:25; Romans 9:5; Romans 11:36; &c.) τῶν αἰώνων.


Verse 10

10. ὁ δὲ ἐπιχορηγῶν. Assurance that He who can do this (2 Corinthians 9:8), will do it. The A.V. here follows the wrong reading (see critical note) and distributes the optatives wrongly. The sentence is amphibolous, but the verbs are fut. Indic.; and Isaiah 55:10 shows that ἄρτον εἰς βρῶσιν goes with ὁ ἐπιχορηγῶν, not with χορηγήσει. Now he that bountifully supplieth (Galatians 3:5; Colossians 2:19; 2 Peter 1:5; 2 Peter 1:11) seed to the sower and bread for eating, will supply and multiply your sowing. The change from σπέρμα to σπόρον should be marked in translation, all the more so because the first is literal, whereas τὸν σπόρον ὑμῶν is figurative of the gifts which the Corinthians are to ‘scatter,’ and which will bring a rich harvest. It is also worth while marking the difference between ἐπιχορηγεῖν and χορηγεῖν: compound augments the idea of liberality, which is conspicuous in the simple verb. But in late Greek compounds often take the place of simple words without much access of meaning (see Bigg on 2 Peter 1:5), and there is perhaps not much difference here. In the LXX. ἐπιχορηγεῖν occurs in Sirach 25:22 of a wife who entirely supports her husband, and as a variant 2 Maccabees 4:9. Comp. ἐπιχορηγία (Ephesians 4:16; Philippians 1:19). In the LXX. χορηγεῖν is common; in the N.T., here and 1 Peter 4:11 only. Originally it meant ‘to lead the chorus’, and then ‘to supply the chorus’ for the exhibition of a drama, an act of public munificence involving great expense. Hence it came to mean ‘to supply necessaries with liberality,’ ‘to equip bountifully.’ Aristotle uses the metaphor several times; Eth. Nic. I. viii. 15, x. 15; x. vii. 4 (in the last passage in connexion with αὐτάρκεια: see on 2 Corinthians 9:8); Pol. IV. i. 1; VII. i. 13; &c.

In this late Greek the difference between βρῶσις and βρῶμα, as between καύχησις and καύχημα, is not sharply maintained (John 4:32; John 6:27; John 6:55). But S. Paul seems to distinguish both βρῶσις and πόσις (Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Colossians 2:16) from βρῶμα and πόμα (Romans 14:15; 1 Corinthians 3:2; 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Corinthians 10:3-4); and therefore βρῶσις here should be rendered ‘eating’ rather than ‘food.’ Nowhere else does he use πληθύνειν, which is fairly common in Acts (Acts 6:1; Acts 6:7; Acts 7:17; Acts 9:31; Acts 12:24), and very common in the LXX.

τὰ γενήματα τῆς δικαιοσύνης ὑμῶν. From the LXX. of Hosea 10:12 : God will make the fruits of your righteousness to grow. Not only the goods with which to do acts of benevolence, but also the good will to do them, will be increased by Him. For αὐξάνειν transitive comp. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 : it is ὁ αὐξάνων θεός, ‘God who in all things giveth the growth,’ that is spoken of here. In the LXX. αὐξάνειν is always transitive; αὐξανῶ αὐτὸν καὶ πληθυνῶ (Genesis 17:20; comp. Genesis 1:22; Genesis 1:28, Genesis 8:17; Genesis 9:1; Genesis 9:7; &c.). The intransitive use begins with Aristotle; αὐξάνει δὲ ἡ σελήνη (Anal. Post. i. xiii. 4), and is usual in the N.T. Comp. τὸ σῶμαἐπιχορηγούμενοναὔξει τὴν αὔξησιν τοῦ θεοῦ (Colossians 2:19), which is somewhat close to Aristotle’s σώματι κάλλιστα πεφυκότι καὶ κεχορηγημένῳ (Pol. iv. i. 1).


Verse 11

11. ἐν παντὶ πλουτιζόμενοι. If 2 Corinthians 9:9-10 are a parenthesis (Bengel, WH.), the participle is to be connected with περισσεύητε in 2 Corinthians 9:8. But it seems better to have no parenthesis (for 2 Corinthians 9:10 is a new start), and to regard πλουτιζόμενοι as an easy anacoluthon from the ὑμῶν in 2 Corinthians 9:10. Comp. στελλόμενοι in 2 Corinthians 8:20 (which, however, can with less difficulty be taken back to 2 Corinthians 8:18), and δοξάζοντες below (2 Corinthians 9:13). Winer, p. 716. This verse is added to show the way in which God will bestow this χάρις (2 Corinthians 9:8) upon them; ye being enriched in every thing unto all liberality or singlemindedness (as in 2 Corinthians 8:2), which is such as to work out (2 Corinthians 4:17, 2 Corinthians 5:5, 2 Corinthians 7:10-11) through us thanksgiving to God; or, to preserve the repetition in ἐν παντὶεἰς πᾶσαν, in every thing unto every (kind of) liberality. The ἥτις may retain its classical force. “Your singleness of heart, your absence of all secondary and selfish motives, provides us with the means of alleviating the distresses of others, and thus elicits from them thanks to God out of the fulness of a grateful heart” (Lias). Take τῷ θεῷ (see critical note) with εὐχαριστίαν rather than with κατεργάζεται: substantives derived from verbs which govern a dative are often followed by a dative rather than the usual genitive; e.g. εὐχή, προσευχή, χάρις. Put only a semicolon at the end of 2 Corinthians 9:11.


Verse 12

12. ὅτι ἡ διακονία τῆς λειτουργίας ταύτης κ.τ.λ. This explains how the relief fund has this religious side: because the ministration of this public service is not only filling up the measure of the wants of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God. The use of διακονία in this connexion (comp. 2 Corinthians 9:1, 2 Corinthians 8:4) should be compared with Acts 11:29; Acts 12:25, where it is used of Barnabas and Saul carrying help from Antioch to those suffering from famine in Judea; also with Romans 15:31, where the variant δωροφορία (BDG, d e) is correct as a gloss. On διακονία and διάκονος see Hort, The Christian Ecclesia, pp. 202 ff. The use of λειτουργία here is close to the original use, viz. of the ‘aids’ which wealthy Athenians had to render to the State, e.g. supplying choruses for plays, equipping men-of-war, &c. This was a ‘service to the public,’ or a ‘public service.’ Among the Jews λειτουραγία meant priestly ministrations (Luke 1:23; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:21; Numbers and Chronicles passim). Among Christians it was used specially of the eucharist, but also of public worship generally; and ‘liturgy’ is derived directly from it. See D. of Chr. Ant. vol. II. pp. 1018 ff., and Lightfoot’s notes on Philippians 2:17; Philippians 2:30. Comp. the use of λειτουργεῖν in Romans 15:27. Here the genitive is of apposition, and the διακονία which is λειτουργία refers, not to the ministration of the Apostle and his fellows, but to that of the Corinthians, as appears from 2 Corinthians 9:13. S. Paul is anxious to stir them up to a bountiful contribution rather than to call attention to his own share in the work.

προσαναπληροῦσα. Filling up in addition to what had been done before, supplementing other kinds of assistance. The Corinthian contribution would be an additional supply; comp. 2 Corinthians 11:9; in Plat. Meno 84 D the compound is used of filling up in addition the vacant part of a geometrical figure. For ὑστέρημα comp. 2 Corinthians 8:13-14; Luke 21:4 : τῷ θεῷ with περισσεύουσα rather than εὐχαριστιῶν.


Verse 13

13. Explains why the recipients of the bounty give thanks; and the participle is again, like πλουτιζόμενοι (2 Corinthians 9:11), without regular construction; seeing that through the proof (2 Corinthians 2:9, 2 Corinthians 8:2) of this ministration of yours they glorify God for the subjection of your confession unto the Gospel of the Christ, and for the liberality (2 Corinthians 9:11, 2 Corinthians 8:2) of your contribution unto them and unto all. Three things are expressed here; [1] the occasion of the recipients’ thankfulness, viz. the tested genuineness of the help given; [2] and [3] two reasons for their thankfulness, viz. [2] Corinthian loyalty as regards the Gospel, and [3] Corinthian generosity in giving so liberally. As regards [2] the Palestinian Christians had had misgivings: it had looked as if Gentile converts were advocates for extreme license. Now Palestine would see the loyalty manifested in Corinth’s adhesion to the Gospel. The construction of εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον is uncertain. It probably is parallel to εἰς αὐτοὺς καὶ εἰς πάντας, and this excludes the connexion with δοξάζοντες, which would be very awkward in the case of εἰς αὐτούς. There remains the doubt whether εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον depends on τῇ ὑποταγῇ or on τῆς ὁμολογίας. The A.V. takes the former; ‘your professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ’: comp. obedientia consensus vestri in evangelium = consentiens obedientia in evangelio (Calvin), and vos tanto consensu obedire monitis evangelicis (Erasmus). But it is better with the R.V. to adopt a translation which at least makes the connexion of εἰς τ. εὐαγγ. with τ. ὁμολογίας possible; ‘the obedience of your confession unto the gospel of Christ.’ Comp. τῆς εἰς Χριστὸν πίστεως ὑμῶν (Colossians 2:5); and τῆς εἰς τὸν τῶν ὅλων θεὸν εὐσεβείας (Eus. Hist. Eccles. II. xxv. 1); and the exactly parallel τὴν εἰς τὸν Χριστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ ὁμολογίαν (Just. M. Tryph. xlvii. 266 D). The meaning is, ‘the obedience which consists in your loyalty to the Gospel.’ Similarly, it is better to take εἰς αὐτοὺς καὶ εἰς πάντας after τῆς κοινωνίας rather than after ἁπλότητι: so both A.V. and R.V. For κοινωνία comp. 2 Corinthians 8:4 and Romans 15:26 : the whole passage, Romans 15:26-31, throws much light on the one before us (see J. A. Robinson on ‘Communion’ in Hastings’ DB. i. p. 461). We have no word in English which combines the ideas of ‘fellowship,’ and ‘contributing’; with εἰς αὐτούς the notion of contributing is uppermost, with εἰς αὐτούς that of fellowship. Nevertheless, in a real sense, what was a boon to the Palestinian Christians was a boon to the whole Church. The addition of εἰς πάντας is another incitement to liberality.


Verse 14

14. καὶ αὐτῶν δεήσει ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἐπιποθούντων ὑμᾶς. The construction is uncertain: but it is clumsy to take δεήσει back to δοξάζοντες, ‘glorifying God by their prayer’; and still more so to take it back to περισσεύουσα, ‘abounding in their prayer.’ More probably αὐτῶν ἐπιποθούντων is a gen. absol. (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:18) adding the thought that (while the Corinthians exhibit their goodwill by their bounty) the recipients of the bounty exhibit their goodwill by intercession for the donors; while they themselves also, with supplication on your behalf, long after you, on account of the exceeding grace of God upon you. To make δεήσει depend on ἐπί (2 Corinthians 9:13) is grammatically possible, but yields no good sense. Would the Judean Christians glorify God for their own prayer? The word δέησις implies personal need (Luke 1:13; James 5:16; 1 Peter 3:12), and is often used of intercession, whether to God or to man (Romans 10:1; Philippians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:3). See Lightfoot on Philippians 4:6, and Trench, Syn. § li.

τὴν ὑπερβάλλουσαν χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐφʼ ὑμῖν. This is explained by πᾶσαν χάριν περισσεῦσαι in 2 Corinthians 9:8. The play of words between χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ and χάρις τῷ θεῷ (2 Corinthians 9:15) should be noted.


Verse 15

15. Χάρις τῷ θεῷ. The thought of this mutual goodwill between Jewish and Gentile converts, as an earnest of the love which unites all Christians (κοινωνία εἰς πάντας), fills the Apostle’s heart with thankfulness, to which he gives immediate and abrupt (see critical note) expression. One who had had so much experience of the bitter antagonism between Jews and Gentiles in the Church, might well overflow with gratitude, and speak of this blessed result as an ‘indescribable boon.’ The Jews in Palestine will be thankful for the Corinthians’ bounty, and he is thankful for God’s bounty in bringing all this to pass: Paulus in gratiarum actione se illis in Judaea fratribus adjungit, et quasi Amen illis accinit (Grotius).

ἀνεκδιηγήτῳ. The word occurs nowhere else in Biblical Greek. Clement of Rome uses it of the ineffable mysteries of nature (1 Cor. xx. 5). It is found also in Arrian; τὴν ἀνεκδιήγητον τόλμαν (Exp. Al. p. 310). To say that so strong an epithet would not be used by the Apostle of any less boon than man’s redemption is unsound reasoning. A thanksgiving for redemption would here have very little point. Calvin gives the right connexion; tandem, quasi voti compos, ad laudem Deo canendam evehitur: quo suam fiduciam quasi re jam confecta testari voluit.

This thanksgiving concludes the second main portion of the letter. Comp. the conclusion of the first portion (2 Corinthians 7:16) and the thanksgivings at the end of important divisions of other Epistles (1 Corinthians 15:57; Romans 11:33-36; 1 Timothy 1:17).

It is hardly necessary to do more than mention the suspicion of some critics that this ninth chapter is an interpolation from some letter, of which the rest has been lost. The transition from 2 Corinthians 8:24 to 2 Corinthians 9:1 is said to be not obvious, and the two chapters, if read together, are said to involve needless repetition. Others, to avoid these supposed difficulties, regard 8 as an interpolation. But the connexion of 8 with 1–7 is manifest; and the trifling difficulties about the addition of 9 vanish when we remember the delicate position in which the Apostle was placed. He had to recognize what the Corinthians had already done, and yet to intimate that very little had been done and that a very great deal was wanted from them. Hence the variations and half-repetitions in 9 when compared with 8. But the two chapters are quite harmonious; comp. 2 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 8:11 with 2 Corinthians 9:3-5. And they mutually explain one another; comp. 2 Corinthians 8:16-22 with 2 Corinthians 9:3-5. The hypothesis of a piece of one letter being inserted in the middle of another is intrinsically so improbable that it ought not to be accepted without very strong evidence. That a letter mutilated at the end should get united to one mutilated at the beginning is less improbable. See above on 2 Corinthians 6:14.

 


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on 2 Corinthians 9:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/2-corinthians-9.html. 1896.


Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 13th, 2018
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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