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SECTION 12. — PAUL HAS SENT TITUS AND OTHERS, THAT THE COLLECTION MAY BE READY WHEN HE ARRIVES. CHS. 8:16-9:5.
But thanks to God who gives the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus: because, the exhortation, on the one hand, he accepted; but, being more earnest, of his own accord he came forth to you. Moreover, we have sent together with him the brother whose praise in the Gospel is throughout all the churches: and not only so but also elected by the churches as our fellow-traveller with this grace which is being ministered by you, in view of the glory of the Lord and our earnest wish: guarding this, lest any one blame us in this fulness which is being ministered by us. For we “take forethought for honourable things,” not only “before the Lord” but also before “men.” (Proverbs 3:4.) And we have sent with them our brother whom we have proved in many things often to be earnest, and now much more earnest through much confidence, his confidence in reference to you. Whether on behalf of Titus we speak, he is a partner of mine, and a fellow-labourer for you: or it be our brothers, they are apostles of churches, a glory of Christ. The proof then of your love and of our boasting on your behalf, while you show towards them, you do so in the presence of the churches.
For, on the one hand, about the ministry for the saints it is superfluous to me to write to you. For I know your readiness, of which on your behalf I boast to Macedonians, that Achaia has been prepared from last year. And your zeal has stirred up the more part of them. But I have sent the brothers lest our ground of boasting on your behalf be made vain in this matter; that, as I said, you may be prepared, lest in any way if Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared we be put to shame, that I may not say you, in this confidence. Necessary then I deemed it to exhort the brothers, that they may come beforehand to you and may prepare beforehand your before-promised blessing, that this may be ready, in this way, as blessing and not as greediness.
After giving, in 2 Corinthians 8:7-15, as it were covertly, three strong motives for the contribution, Paul takes up again his request (2 Corinthians 8:6) that Titus should come to Corinth. He speaks of the mission of Titus (2 Corinthians 8:16-17) and another (2 Corinthians 8:18-21) and (2 Corinthians 8:22) a third; and (2 Corinthians 8:23-24) commends them to his readers. The contribution itself he needs to touch (2 Corinthians 9:1-2) only for a moment; and then gives (2 Corinthians 8:3-5) his purpose in sending the brethren, viz. that when he himself comes he may not be put to shame by the contribution not being ready.
2 Corinthians 8:16-17. Paul’s thought about Titus, who had brought from Corinth news so good and who acceded so readily to Paul’s request to go there on this errand, elicits a shout of joy; as usual, in the form of praise to God. So 2 Corinthians 9:15; 2 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Romans 6:17. For the readiness of Titus, like all good in man, is the work and gift of God.
The same earnestness: as in Paul.
Gives: it flows forth each moment from God, in the heart of Titus: as in 2 Corinthians 8:1 : the spiritual locality in which God works and gives this earnestness. 2 Corinthians 8:17 states, in contrast, two facts which together explain the same earnestness.
More earnest; than the foregoing words, had they stood alone, would imply. On the one hand, when Paul asked Titus to go to Corinth he did so, and went there sent by Paul: but so eager was he to complete the work he had begun that his journey was really an outflow of his own earnest wish.
He went forth: as bearer of this letter. Cp. 2 Corinthians 8:18; 2 Corinthians 8:22; 2 Corinthians 9:3; Acts 15:22 f, Acts 15:27. For, the explanation of his mission given in 2 Corinthians 9:5 would be needed as soon as he arrived in Corinth: and this verse implies that the letter did not precede him.
2 Corinthians 8:18-21. We: probably Paul and Timothy; cp. 2 Corinthians 1:1. So ready was Paul to join others with himself in all acts of authority.
Together with; lays emphasis on the companionship in this mission.
In the Gospel: Romans 1:9 : in proclaiming and furthering it. For this he was well spoken of in all the churches. Such men must have been then, as now, a link binding together the various churches. He was not only praised in all the churches but also elected to accompany Paul in taking the contribution to Judaea. Cp. 1 Corinthians 16:3 f.
By the churches: probably of Macedonia only. Cp. Romans 15:26. It is difficult to say whether our fellow-traveller, by us, include Timothy, or refer only to Paul as in 1 Thessalonians 3:1-6. For we do not know whether Timothy went, or when this letter was written intended to go, to Jerusalem. But, that we have no proof that elsewhere in this Epistle Paul uses the words we, our of himself alone, and Timothy’s presence with him (Acts 20:4) when starting from Corinth for Jerusalem, suggest that these words refer to Paul and Timothy.
Elected: same word in Acts 14:23. In both passages apostolic authority (we sent) is combined with popular election.
This grace: as in 2 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 8:6-7.
Ministered: as in 2 Corinthians 3:3; see under Romans 12:7. By suggesting, carrying out, and taking to Jerusalem, the contribution, Paul performed a free and honorable service for the brethren there.
With a view to etc.: two considerations before the Macedonian Christians when electing this brother as Paul’s companion; viz. the Lord’s glory, i.e. the exaltation of Christ in the eyes of men through performance of the work for which he was elected, and Paul’s earnest wish that some one should be chosen to go with him. The former consideration reveals the spiritual aim of the election, and that the honor of Christ was involved in it: the latter shows that the election was compliance with a wish of the apostle.
Earnest-wish: same as readiness or eagerness in 2 Corinthians 8:11-12; 2 Corinthians 9:2; Romans 1:15; Acts 17:11. It is the disposition which prompts men to act.
Guarding this etc.; grammatically connected we have sent, explains our earnest wish, which needs explanation. In wishing for a colleague Paul, and perhaps Timothy, were guarding against blame which otherwise might attach to themselves. Cp. 2 Corinthians 6:3.
Fulness: rich liberality. It is an acknowledgment of the greatness of the contribution.
For we (Paul and his colleagues) take forethought etc.: reason for guarding against blame. It is a general principle, quoted almost word for word from Proverbs 3:4, LXX. Cp. Romans 12:17. They sought the approval, not only of Christ who reads the heart and who knew their honesty, but of men, who judge by appearances. They therefore suggested that a colleague be elected for them in this financial business. Thus the election was for the glory of Christ, and in compliance with an earnest wish of the apostle.
Notice Paul’s careful forethought. Although his own honesty was probably above suspicion, he foresaw a time when similar matters must be entrusted to men less known than himself, and felt the great importance of guarding, in church finance, against even a breath of suspicion. He therefore urged the Macedonian Christians to establish the precedent of committing such matters to at least two persons; a precedent well worthy of imitation now.
Who the elected brother was, we have no means of knowing. All guesses are worthless. His formal election by the Macedonians, which would be announced to the Corinthians, made mention of his name unnecessary.
2 Corinthians 8:22. A second companion of Titus; and like the former, quite unknown to us. He had proved himself to be an earnest man, not in some one matter but in many, and often: and at the present time he was much more earnest than usual, moved to earnestness by his confidence about the Corinthians. Therefore, both his general character and his special interest in them commend him to the readers. And of all this Paul has had proof. This testimony suggests that his brother was less known than the former one. And, that only the first brother is said to have been “elected” by the churches, and that the purpose of the election (2 Corinthians 8:20) is stated before mention of the second brother, suggests that he was not thus elected. If so, the word “apostles” in 2 Corinthians 8:23 denotes only that his association with the chosen delegate was approved by the churches.
2 Corinthians 8:23. A commendation of the three messengers.
Partner: in toil and peril. Same word in 2 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 10:18; 1 Corinthians 10:20; Philemon 1:17; Hebrews 10:33; 1 Peter 5:1; 2 Peter 1:4; Matthew 23:30; Luke 5:10.
Fellow-worker: 2 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 3:9; Romans 16:3; Romans 16:9; Romans 16:21. That Titus was a companion of their beloved apostle and a worker with him for their good, was his high commendation. The other two have three commendations. They are brothers in Christ, apostles approved and sent by Christian churches, men whose mission and work reveal the glory of Christ.
Apostle: in its simplest sense of “one sent on some special business.” See under Romans 1:1.
Glory of Christ; recalls 2 Corinthians 8:19, “for the Lord’s glory.” Cp. 1 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:20. As men sent “with a view to the Lord’s glory,” i.e. to guard and magnify His honor, they were themselves in their mission and work an embodiment of His glory. Notice the gradation. To Paul and his readers they are brothers: to whole churches they are specially related as their apostles; and to Christ as men bringing Him glory.
2 Corinthians 8:24. A motive, drawn from 2 Corinthians 8:23, for receiving the messengers worthily. “Owing to their just stated relationships, what you do to them, you do in the presence of the churches who sent them.”
Your love: to Christians generally. So 2 Corinthians 8:8, “proving the genuineness of your love.” It includes kindness to the messengers and liberality towards the poor saints at Jerusalem.
Our exultation: explained further in 2 Corinthians 9:2-4, for which these words prepare the way. On the various reading see “Notes and Replies” on page XIII.
2 Corinthians 9:1-2. After commending the three messengers, Paul gives in 2 Corinthians 9:3-5 the purpose for which he has sent them. But this he prefaces by saying in 2 Corinthians 9:1-2 that he has no reason to write to them about the collection itself.
For about etc.: reason why, instead of speaking about the collection, Paul merely bids his readers receive the messengers worthily.
On the one hand; implies that Paul mentions the ministry for the saints (2 Corinthians 8:4) only by way of contrast to a detail about it, viz. the mission (2 Corinthians 9:3) of the three brethren.
Superfluous etc.; (cp. 1 Thessalonians 4:9;) reveals the apostle’s usual courtesy and tact.
For I know, etc.: reason why it is superfluous to write.
Eagerness, or readiness: 2 Corinthians 8:19.
On your behalf: in your favor.
I exult: even now he continues to boast about them.
To Macedonians: to some, not necessarily all of them.
That Achaia etc.: the matter of Paul’s boasting. It implies that not only at Corinth but throughout the province the collection was eagerly agreed to from the first.
Has been ready: i.e. they had according to Paul’s advice, (1 Corinthians 16:1,) the money ready at home. For it is evident that the general gathering had not yet been made: whereas, that Paul continues to boast, proves that his boasting was not a mistake.
From last year: as in 2 Corinthians 8:10.
Stirred up: same word in a bad sense in Colossians 3:21.
The more part: the majority, as in 2 Corinthians 2:6.
Paul’s continued boasting about the Corinthians implies that, in the previous year when the matter of the collection was first brought before them, they took it up eagerly, and were prepared to contribute at once and actually began (2 Corinthians 8:10) to contribute. Even the liberality of the Macedonians, for which Paul is so thankful to God, was in great part a result of the example thus nobly set by the Corinthians. All this proves that it is needless for him to write to them about the collection. But it does not prevent him from telling them of the liberality of the Macedonians, that the example of those whom their own liberal purpose had aroused might prompt them to complete at once the work they had been the first to begin. Thus example acts and re-acts.
Since the Corinthians were a year ago ready for the collection, and since three months ago Paul received at Ephesus a deputation of Corinthians who would naturally tell him all that the church had done, we infer that the boasting in 2 Corinthians 9:2 was prompted, not by news received in Macedonia from Titus which seems to have been rather unfavorable though not such as to put an end to Paul’s boasting, but by earlier news.
2 Corinthians 9:3-5. About the collection Paul has no need to write; but he has need to explain why he sent the before mentioned brethren.
Our ground-of-exultation be-made-vain: 1 Corinthians 9:15 : lest the excellence of which we boast in your favor be found out to be an empty thing.
In this matter; implies that Paul’s exultation about them embraced other points. He feared lest in this detail his boast might prove to be misplaced.
That as I said etc.: parallel to, and explaining, the foregoing purpose.
As I said, you may be etc.: opposite to ground of boasting be made vain.
Prepared; takes up the same word in 2 Corinthians 9:2. 2 Corinthians 9:4 is a further negative purpose.
We, you: emphatic. Paul speaks of his own shame, that he may avoid speaking of the greater shame which, if found unprepared, would fall upon them.
Exhort: see 2 Corinthians 8:6.
Come-beforehand… prepare-beforehand: before Paul came.
Before-promised: by Paul. For Paul’s boasting about them was virtually a promise of what they would do. It takes up as I said in 2 Corinthians 9:3.
Beforehand… beforehand… before: emphatic alliteration.
Blessing: a benefit, as in Genesis 33:11; Judges 1:15. But usually it denotes a benefit conveyed by a good word. See under Romans 1:25.
In this way etc.; dwells upon the word blessing, which was chosen to suggest this explanation. Paul begs them to contribute not as though it were an act of greedy self-enrichment, (in which case they would do as little as possible to attain their end,) but as an outflow of benevolence, and therefore measured by the greatness of their love. The word blessing is specially appropriate, as recalling God’s benefits in contrast to man’s selfishness.
Greediness, or covetousness: literally, “having more.” Same word in Ephesians 4:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:5; Luke 12:15. This exhortation we shall do well to remember in all our gifts.
Of TITUS nothing is said in the Book of Acts. This, though remarkable, accords with the scantiness of its reference (Acts 20:2) to the period when this Epistle was written. Nor is he mentioned, apart from this Epistle, except in Galatians 2:1; Galatians 2:3; 2 Timothy 4:10; Titus 1:4. Yet he was evidently a noble and valued helper of the apostle.
Titus was (Galatians 2:3) a Greek: i.e. not necessarily born in Greece, but of Gentile parents. See under Romans 1:16; and contrast Acts 16:3, referring to almost the same time as Galatians 2:3. His birth-place is quite unknown. He seems (Titus 1:4) to have been converted by Paul.
We first meet Titus going with Paul to Jerusalem as narrated in Galatians 2:1, (same journey apparently as Acts 15:2,) probably as representative of the Gentile Christians.
From 2 Corinthians 7:14 f we infer that Titus was not a member of the church at Corinth. But Paul (2 Corinthians 12:17) sent him there, from Ephesus probably, to promote the collection for the poorer Christians at Jerusalem. That Titus began (2 Corinthians 8:6) this collection at Corinth, and that Paul assumes in 1 Corinthians 16:1 f that his readers already know about it, implies that this first mission of Titus was not later than the First extant Epistle to the Corinthians, and suggests strongly that it was some time earlier. This is confirmed by the absence of any reference to Titus, Paul’s valued colleague, in the First Epistle, and by the fact that, at the instance (2 Corinthians 8:6) of Titus, the Corinthians were ready (2 Corinthians 9:2; 2 Corinthians 8:10) a year ago to contribute. This seems to prove that some months before the First Epistle was written, perhaps in the previous autumn, Paul sent (2 Corinthians 12:18) Titus and another to Corinth to begin the collection; and that he did so. Now, 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:6 ff, imply that personally or by message Paul requested Titus to meet him at Troas, expecting thus news from Corinth, especially about the effect of the First Epistle. That Titus was not at Ephesus or at Corinth when Paul wrote the First Epistle, is made almost certain by its silence about him. But this expectation implies that, although not at Corinth then, Titus was likely to be there either by Paul’s request or otherwise soon afterwards. He may have come to Ephesus, and have been at once sent back to Corinth, with directions to meet Paul at Troas: or, while residing elsewhere he may have been requested by Paul to visit Corinth. This would imply, as is by no means unlikely, that Paul sent Titus three times to Corinth. Either of these suppositions would account for all our scanty indications of the movements of Titus. The latter suggestion, as implying less travelling, is rather the more likely of the two. In many ways unknown to us messages may have been sent by Paul to Titus.
After his own hasty (Acts 20:1) departure from Ephesus, not finding Titus at Troas, Paul crossed over to Macedonia. Here, though not immediately, Titus met him with good news about the deep repentance and Christian earnestness of the Corinthians, and with information about the progress of the collection. Moved both by the liberality of the Macedonians and by the readiness of the Corinthians, Paul begged Titus (2 Corinthians 8:6) to return to Corinth and complete, before (2 Corinthians 9:5) the apostle’s own arrival, the collection he had begun. This, Titus gladly (2 Corinthians 8:17) agreed to do; and went from Macedonia to Corinth, accompanied by one brother chosen by the Macedonian churches to go with Paul to take the collection to Jerusalem, and by another sent with the approval of the churches by Paul himself. These messengers took with them (2 Corinthians 8:18; 2 Corinthians 9:3 f) the Second Epistle. The collection at Corinth was (Romans 15:26) duly made; doubtless in great part by the activity of Titus.
And now we lose sight of Titus for at least five years. In Titus 1:5 we find him again a trusted helper of the apostle, deputed to set in order the imperfectly organized churches in Crete. Paul is very wishful (Titus 3:12) to see him at Nicopolis during the winter. It would seem that later (2 Timothy 4:10) Titus was with Paul in his last imprisonment at Rome. And, with a touch of sadness, the lonely prisoner says that he has gone, doubtless for a sufficient reason, to Dalmatia.
The gushing joy (2 Corinthians 7:7) of Titus about the repentance of the Corinthians, his warm affection (2 Corinthians 7:15) for them, and his eagerness (2 Corinthians 8:16 f) to visit them again, betray an ardent temperament. He worked in perfect accord (2 Corinthians 12:18) with Paul. And, though little known to us, he doubtless had no small share in founding Gentile Christianity.
SECTION 13. — PAUL SUGGESTS A LARGE AND FREE GIFT; WHICH WILL NOT ONLY RELIEVE DISTRESS BUT ALSO BRING PRAISE TO GOD. CH. 9:6-15.
And this: he that sows sparingly, sparingly will also reap; and he that sows with blessings, with blessings will also reap. Each one according as he has resolved in his heart, not with sorrow, or from necessity. For “a cheerful giver God loves.” (Proverbs 22:8, LXX.)
And God is able to make every grace abound towards you, that in everything always having all sufficiency you may abound for every good work: according as it is written, (Psalms 112:9,) “He scattered, he gave to the poor; his righteousness remains for ever.” And He that supplies seed to the sower and bread for eating will supply and will multiply your sowing, and will increase the fruits of your righteousness; while in everything you are being enriched for all sincerity, which works out through us thanksgiving to God. Because the ministry of this public service not only is supplying the shortcomings of the saints but also abounds through many thanksgivings to God: while through the proof of this ministry they glorify God for the submission of your confession, in view of the Gospel of Christ, and for the sincerity of the partnership towards them and towards all men, while themselves with supplication on your behalf long for you because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks to God for His indescribable gift.
Paul now uses the word “blessing,” chosen to be so used, as a stepping stone to a suggestion that the gift be (2 Corinthians 9:6) abundant and (2 Corinthians 9:7) free. To this he encourages his readers by pointing to God, who is (2 Corinthians 9:8-9) able to bless them and (2 Corinthians 9:10-11) will do so; and (2 Corinthians 9:12-15) to the spiritual results of their liberality.
2 Corinthians 9:6. And this; directs attention to a new and important point, viz. that acts of kindness to God’s people are seeds thrown into the ground, which by the outworking of the laws of life produce similar and multiplied results. So Galatians 6:7; 1 Corinthians 9:11; James 3:18; Proverbs 22:8.
Sparingly, sparingly: exact retribution. Since gifts are seeds, he that holds himself back from giving thereby holds himself back from the harvest.
With blessings: recalls “as blessing” in 2 Corinthians 9:5. They who in giving think, not how little they can give, as they would if self-enrichment were their aim, but of benefits to be conferred, will receive back on the same principle. As they to others, so God will act to them. The plural denotes a variety of blessings. These words will be fulfilled both in the various blessings in this life to those who do good and in the infinite recompense of the great Day. This sufficient motive for liberality makes direct exhortation for a large gift needless.
2 Corinthians 9:7. A direct exhortation, but only on a matter of detail, viz. the freeness of the gift. Whatever be the amount, it must be an outflow of each one’s own previous resolve. The choice must be in his heart, the inmost center of the man, where standing alone he chooses his own action. See under Romans 1:21.
Not with sorrow or from necessity; lingers over and expounds as he has resolved in his heart. The gift must not be with regret, nor be a surrender to pressure from without. For this a reason is given, almost in the words of Proverbs 22:8, where instead of “The man with kindly eye shall be blessed: because he has given of his bread to the poor,” the LXX. render “A man cheerful and a giver, God blesses.” The sense is practically the same, and bears on the case before us. The cheerfulness and freeness of the gift mark it as being a genuine outflow of Christian life, in which everything is free and cheerful; and are therefore acceptable to God.
2 Corinthians 9:8. An added thought expounding the worth of the foregoing quoted words, viz. the ability of God to supply all our need.
Every grace: emphatic: all the various gifts of God, including earthly gifts looked upon as marks of His undeserved favor; nearly the same as “gift-of-grace” in 1 Corinthians 1:7. See under Romans 1:5.
That in everything etc.: purpose cherished by God who is able etc. In everything, takes up every grace. The five consecutive universals are exceedingly emphatic. They are evidently chosen to include conspicuously all material needs.
Sufficiency: objective possession of, or subjective consciousness of possessing, all that they need. The latter sense here. Same word in 1 Timothy 6:6; Philippians 4:11. They who know that God will supply all their need, and they only, are independent of the uncertainties of life. They can therefore afford to give away money to others. Thus sufficiency is essential for large and cheerful giving. The quotation in 2 Corinthians 9:9 suggests that every good work refers to, or specially includes, acts of beneficence.
Abound: literally, “have something over.” “God is able to pour out upon you abundantly in undeserved favor every good thing; in order that thus in every point and at all times having every need supplied, and being conscious of this, you may have a surplus for every kind of beneficence.”
2 Corinthians 9:9. Quotation, word for word, of <19B209>Psalms 112:9, according with, and thus supporting, the foregoing exposition of God’s purpose.
Scattered: gave with a liberal hand, as men sow seed. The quotation was perhaps suggested by 2 Corinthians 9:6, and itself suggests 2 Corinthians 9:10.
Righteousness: such conduct as the judge approves and will reward. Cp. Deuteronomy 6:25; Deuteronomy 24:13. See under Romans 1:17. The act of beneficence will have an endless reward. This is forcibly represented as a continuance to eternity of the act itself as, by God’s undeserved favor, a claim for reward. But even this righteousness is by faith: for it is an outworking of faith and of the Holy Spirit given to believers. This suitable quotation reminds those familiar with it, as does that of 2 Corinthians 9:7, that liberality to the poor is approved and will be rewarded by God.
2 Corinthians 9:10. An assurance, based on an analogy in nature, that God (who is able to do so, 2 Corinthians 9:8) actually will supply whatever is needed “for every good work.” The analogy was suggested, as was probably the word “scattered” in 2 Corinthians 9:9, by the metaphor of 2 Corinthians 9:6.
Supplies: derived from a word denoting the payment by wealthy citizens at Athens and elsewhere of the costs, frequently very large, of a “chorus” of singers or dancers at festivals or public entertainments. It suitably describes God’s bountiful supply of the needs of all mankind. Same word in Galatians 3:5; Colossians 2:19; Ephesians 4:16; Philippians 1:19. By supplying seed for the sower God supplies bread for every one’s eating. These exact words are taken from Isaiah 55:10.
Supply and multiply etc.: will give us, and in increasing measure, the sowing needful for the reaping of 2 Corinthians 9:6, viz. the material means of doing good.
And will increase: or make-to-grow, i.e. make your acts productive of good results. Same word in 1 Corinthians 3:7.
Fruits: same word in Matthew 26:29. See under Romans 1:13.
Righteousness: practical conformity with law, i.e. with the higher law of the Gospel of love. Cp. Matthew 5:10; Matthew 6:1. It suggests that in giving their money they were only doing what is right (cp. Romans 15:27) and were doing what God will reward. Cp. 2 Corinthians 9:9. Of this abstract principle of righteousness Christian liberality is a natural concrete outgrowth produced by God. He will provide, and in increasing measure, the means of Christian liberality, and will thus give seed to sow for the great harvest; and will make their just liberality productive in still greater degree of good results. In Isaiah 55:10 God declares that, just as He provides for the material needs of men, so the provision in His word for their spiritual needs shall not be in vain. And, by clothing his own spiritual metaphor and argument in the words of Isaiah, Paul gives to it Old Testament authority.
2 Corinthians 9:11. Same truth as in 2 Corinthians 9:10, from another point of view.
In everything: as in 2 Corinthians 9:8. It denotes such supply from time to time of every material need as will leave something to spare for Christian giving.
Rich; reminds us that they who have more than they need are practically rich.
For all sincerity: God’s purpose in thus enriching them. The gifts for the poor Christians at Jerusalem were a wonderful proof of the genuineness of the faith of the Corinthian Christians. And, that they may afford such proof, Paul is confident that from time to time God will give them a measure of wealth.
All sincerity; suggests that, though proved in other ways, Christian sincerity is in some sense defective if not proved by liberality.
Which: viz. their sincerity, thus proved, works out.
Through us: viz. Paul and his colleagues, who suggested and carried out this contribution. Paul added these words remembering that of the praise evoked by the collection he was an instrument. The abstract principle of Christian sincerity, operating through the collection suggested by Paul, called from the lips of those who received it, thanksgiving to God. That the sincerity of the Corinthians, thus manifested, is bringing praise to God, both strengthens the assurance that God will give the means of liberality and becomes a stepping stone to the exposition in 2 Corinthians 9:12-14.
Argument of 2 Corinthians 9:8-11. Liberality is an element, even in the Old Testament, of the character which God approves and will reward. And God designs it to be a proof of the genuineness of His people. But this proof cannot be given unless we first receive from Him a measure of material good. Some degree of wealth is therefore needful for a full development of the Christian life. This, God is able to give. And, just as He supplies the food needful to maintain and develop bodily life, so we may be sure that He will supply all that is needful, including a measure of material good, to develop the spiritual life. How small a measure is sufficient for this end, we learn from Luke 21:2. But, if the widow had not had the mites, she could not have given this noble proof of her sincerity. And many lowly Christians have given from their small store; confident that God designed them to do so, and that He would supply not only their bodily needs but also something to give away. And they have found that day by day God makes them rich enough to give, while some richer men plead poverty.
2 Corinthians 9:12-15. Because etc.; explains the foregoing words by a matter of fact.
Public-service: see under Romans 15:27; Romans 15:16; Romans 13:6. It reveals the solemn and public importance of this collection.
The ministry, or ministration, of etc.: the voluntary attention to the needs of others implied in this public service. See under Romans 15:25.
Not only supplying etc.: the material benefit of the collection, which must be mentioned together with its spiritual gain.
Abound: 2 Corinthians 9:8 : producing results beyond the just mentioned material results.
Thanksgiving to God; takes up the same word in 2 Corinthians 9:11, and is expounded in 2 Corinthians 9:13. “By means of the proof that your Christian profession is genuine, proof afforded by this ministration, the Christians in Judaea are glorifying (see under Romans 1:21) God. In their eyes God was magnified through the proved sincerity of the Gentile Christians. The present tense suggests that they had already heard of the collection. This accords with the fact (2 Corinthians 9:2) that it was projected a year ago.
For the submission of your confession… the sincerity of your fellowship: two matters about which they glorify God. The submission is that rendered either by their confession or by themselves to their confession. Cp. “obedience to faith” in Romans 1:5. In both places, the two expositions are practically the same. This collection was a conspicuous act of submission to the apostolic authority which enjoined it and to Christ (cp. 2 Corinthians 8:5) for whose glory it was made, by those who professed to be His servants.
Confession, or profession: Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 10:23.
In regard of the Gospel of Christ; goes with glorifying God. [Cp. Galatians 6:4; Romans 4:2.] The good news about the Messiah had led Paul’s readers to confess Him and to lay themselves and their possessions on the altar of God. Therefore, the praise of God evoked by their gifts had reference to the Gospel.
Fellowship etc.: partnership in rendering help to those in need, as in 2 Corinthians 8:4. See under Romans 15:26 f. The sincerity was manifested in the fellowship. This recalls 2 Corinthians 9:11; 2 Corinthians 8:2. And the gift to the unknown brethren in Judaea was a manifestation of brotherhood not only towards them but also towards all men. This was its real worth. The submission to the common Master, and the sincere spirit of brotherhood, of both which proof was given by this collection, revealed to the Jewish Christians the glory of God who had wrought such a disposition in these far off foreigners.
2 Corinthians 9:14. Another result produced in the Jewish Christians.
Longing for you: i.e. “to see and know you,” as in Philippians 1:8; Romans 1:11. This longing was mixed with supplication on their behalf. The present tenses in 2 Corinthians 9:12-14 seem to imply that already news of the collection had reached Jerusalem and was already evoking this thanksgiving and affection. For this is evidently the language not of expectation but of narrative. And for all this there was sufficient lapse of time since (cp. 2 Corinthians 9:2) the collection was mooted.
Grace of God, closes DIV. II. with its opening thought, 2 Corinthians 8:1. The Jewish Christians wonder at the undeserved favor of God which had wrought in the Gentiles such submission and brotherhood and sincerity. Thus they glorified God. They longed to see those in whom He had worked such blessings; and returned their kindness by prayer for them.
2 Corinthians 9:15. As frequently, Paul concludes DIV. II. with an outburst of praise.
His indescribable gift: probably of Christ and Christianity, of which all-embracing gift the liberality given to the Gentiles was one element. The exultation which culminates in 2 Corinthians 9:15 proves how all-important in Paul’s view were the spiritual results of this collection.
Whether he had them in view in suggesting the collection, we do not know. But it is not unlikely.
Paul begins 13 by reminding his readers that the money given for the collection is seed sown which will produce a harvest; and that therefore to limit their gifts is to limit their reward. But, while thus suggesting a large gift, he asks that it be, by each one’s own deliberate choice: for, as Solomon taught, it is the cheerful giver whom God loves. Their gifts may well be both large and free. For God is able to supply every need of every kind, that they may have a surplus for every kind of good work. Indeed, this surplus for giving away is implied in an ancient promise that gifts to the poor shall be followed by endless reward. That God supplies our material needs, was appealed to by Isaiah in proof that His word shall accomplish its spiritual aims: and it is a pledge now that He will both supply the means of sowing spiritual seed and make the seed sown productive of spiritual good. Such supply is designed to give proof of Christian sincerity, and thus to bring, as this contribution is already bringing, praise to God. This last point Paul develops. This contribution not only supplies the needs of God’s people, but, by affording proof that the Gentile professors of Christianity really submit to Christ and that their Christian brotherhood is genuine, reveals the grandeur of God. And it evokes prayer for them, and an affectionate desire to see them, on the part of those whose needs they are relieving. Of the praise to God thus evoked Paul’s own warm gratitude is an example.
The word sincerity in 2 Corinthians 9:11; 2 Corinthians 9:13; 2 Corinthians 8:2, reveals the great spiritual use of earthly wealth, viz. as a proof of our purity of motive in religion. When we spend for Christ and for strangers that which we might spend in self-gratification, we give thereby conspicuous proof that our Christian profession is genuine. This proof, all should be eager to give. And, that a measure of wealth is needful for it, is a pledge that, in ordinary circumstances, God will give this to His people.
THE COLLECTION for the Christian poor at Jerusalem marks an important era in Paul’s life. Hitherto his labors have been confined to the eastern division of the Roman empire. But his work there is now (Romans 15:19; Romans 15:23) complete: in all the great centers he has planted Christianity. And his thoughts now turn (Romans 15:24; Acts 19:21) towards the West.
Throughout all his labors, Paul has felt (Galatians 2:2) the importance of unity and harmony between the Jewish and Gentile parts of the one Christian Church; and has striven to maintain it. His earnest desire to work in connection with the apostles of the circumcision is attested by his visits to Jerusalem after each missionary journey. But his desire for concord has not led him to modify in the least his teaching that the Christian Church is not bound by Jewish trammels. From Galatians 2:11 f we learn that, although this freedom was formally acknowledged by the other apostles, it was not always courageously maintained by them. And we may well believe that Paul felt that upon himself mainly rested the task of maintaining on the one hand the perfect freedom of the Gospel and on the other the unity of the entire Church.
For some reason, the church at Jerusalem was exceptionally poor. Years ago, (Acts 11:28,) when a general famine had been foretold, the Christians at Antioch, perhaps at Paul’s suggestion, thought of, and resolved to relieve, the foreseen distress at Jerusalem. And at a later date (Galatians 2:10) Peter urged the same matter on Paul’s attention.
At the time this Epistle was written the same poverty was pressing, and for some time (1 Corinthians 16:1) had been pressing, upon the mother church of Christendom. And Paul resolved to fulfill his promise (Galatians 2:10) made long ago to Peter. That Paul gave directions (1 Corinthians 16:1) for the collection in Galatia, Macedonia, and Greece, makes it very probable that he did the same at Ephesus, where he was living when he gave these directions and where he labored so long and so successfully. We may therefore infer that he started a united effort throughout the Gentile churches to relieve the distress at Jerusalem. It was probably the first general effort by men of one nation for the help of another.
Paul’s earnestness in this matter, and his joy at the spiritual effects already produced (2 Corinthians 9:12 ff) even by the promise of help, suggest that these spiritual effects were foreseen by him and were his chief aim in the whole effort. We may well conceive that he desired to give to the Jewish Christians this proof (2 Corinthians 9:13) of the reality and extent of the work among the Gentiles, that thus he might link together in the ties of affection the Jewish and Gentile parts of the Church, while at the same time he taught the Gentiles how much they owed to the ancient people of God and taught the Jewish Christians, what they were evidently very slow to learn, that the full possession of Gospel privileges was not confined to those who were circumcised. Before going to the West, the Apostle of the Gentiles wished to erect a monument to the success of his preaching in the East and to the truth of the free Gospel he had preached.
When and how the first directions were given to the Galatians and Macedonians, we do not know. But Titus, sent by Paul, began the contribution at Corinth. See note under 2 Corinthians 9:5. The Corinthians took up the matter so readily, and were so eager to contribute at once, that, moved by their example which Paul quoted, the Macedonians not only showed a similar or greater readiness but accomplished at once their good purpose. The effect of the example of the Corinthians, and his own credit for veracity, made Paul now anxious that their action should correspond with their promises. He therefore sent Titus again to Corinth, accompanied by two others, to push forward the collection, so that on Paul’s arrival it might be ready. And for the same end he wrote DIV. II. of this Epistle, and sent the Epistle to Corinth by Titus and his companions.
Paul introduces the matter by describing the liberality of the Macedonians. This example, he has no need to urge the Corinthians to imitate. The greater example of Christ is sufficient for them. He remembers that they were the first to accept his suggestion for a collection; and that their gifts must be measured by, and will be accepted in proportion to, their ability to give. Paul then commends Titus and his companions, and explains the purpose of their mission. While doing so, he again refers for a moment to his readers’ readiness to help and to its effect upon the Macedonians. He then concludes his reference to the contribution by reminding his readers that it is seed sown which will produce a harvest and should therefore be given cheerfully; that God is able to give them all means needful for the development of their Christian life, and therefore the means of Christian liberality; and that the promised contribution is already working out abundant spiritual results.
That in the Book of Acts we have no direct mention of this collection, accords with the scanty notice (Acts 20:1-3) of the period in which it was made; and gives great value to the undesigned reference in Acts 24:17. That in the Epistle to the Galatians we have no reference to it, suggests, as does the great similarity of the contents, that it was written about the same time as the Epistle to the Romans, when the collection was everywhere completed. And Galatians 2:10; Galatians 6:9 f show that the poverty of the Christians at Jerusalem and the need for Christian liberality were present to the apostle’s mind. The various references in the New Testament to his collection afford by their many coincidences a most valuable confirmation of the genuineness and the historic truthfulness of the writings which contain them.
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Beet, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 9". Joseph Beet's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25