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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Corinthians 9

Verse 1

2 Corinthians 9:1. For as touching the ministering to the saints, Now concerning the ministration to the saints, it is superfluous that I should write further to you. Doddridge. It is superfluous for me to write more to you about the assistance which is preparing for the saints, 2 Corinthians 9:2. For I am convinced of your generous inclination, and have boasted of it to them, &c.—so that your zeal hath excited many others. Heylin. By Achaia, in this verse, is meant the church of Corinth, which was made up of the inhabitants of that town, and of the circumjacent parts of Achaia. See ch. 2 Corinthians 1:1.

Verse 5

2 Corinthians 9:5. Whereof ye had notice before Which had been spoken of before, namely, to the Macedonian Christians, 2 Corinthians 9:2. The word πλεονεξιαν, rendered covetousness, signifies a kind of force, by which money is, as it were, wrung by importunity from persons of a covetous disposition, and by such perseverance as covetous people themselves make use of, where their own gain is concerned. And thus it is opposed to ευλογια, what is readily given, and comes as it were with a blessing.

Verse 8

2 Corinthians 9:8. All grace Rather charitable gifts, or liberality; as the word χαρις signifies in the former chapter, and as the context determines the sense here.

Verse 9

2 Corinthians 9:9. His righteousness His beneficence. Vorst. Phil. S. part 1: p. 45 and so 2 Corinthians 9:10.

Verse 10

2 Corinthians 9:10. Now he that ministereth, &c.— Now may he that ministereth seed to the sower, and bread for food, both minister and multiply your seed, and increase the fruits of your beneficence. See Isa 55:10 and Matthew 6:1.

Verse 11

2 Corinthians 9:11. Being enriched, &c.— This should be connected with 2Co 9:8 the 9th and 10th being in a parenthesis.

Verse 12

2 Corinthians 9:12. The administration of this service This use of the word λειτουργια intimates, that it was to be considered not merely as an act of humanity, but of religion, pleasing to God, and suitable to the nature of the gospel dispensation. Comp. Heb 13:16 and see the note on Romans 15:25.

Verse 13

2 Corinthians 9:13. Whiles by the experiment, &c.— Having this proof of your charity, they will glorify God on account of that subjection to the gospel of Christ which you profess, and for your liberal distribution to them, as well as others, 2 Corinthians 9:14. And they will pray for you, and bear a tender affection to you, upon account of the eminent grace which God hath bestowed upon you. Heylin, and Doddridge.

Verse 15

2 Corinthians 9:15. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. "When I think of these things, I desire sincerely to bless God, on your account, for all the grace he hath given you, and for all the usefulness with which he is pleased to honour you. But I would trace up all to what is, indeed, the fountain of all his other mercies to us, his having bestowed upon us his clear and only-begotten Son. Thanks daily, and everlasting thanks, be ascribed to our Father and our God for that his unutterable gift, of the excellence,importance, and grace of which neither men nor angels can worthily speak or conceive." Or, by the unspeakable gift, the Apostle may mean that exceeding grace of God—his precious gift to the world through Christ, which he speaks of in the preceding verse, as bringing forth such excellent fruits in the Corinthians.

Inferences.—How peculiarly amiable does the Christian liberality of the Macedonians appear, (ch. 2 Corinthians 8:1-2.) when considered as abounding in a great trial of affliction, and in the depth of their poverty!—yet a poverty mingled with an abundance of joy, on account of that rich and happy state into which the gospel had brought them. They were willing of themselves to contribute even beyond their power; as persons of common generosity would have estimated it. Nor did they, on their dying beds, repent such an use of their property, or wish that it had been spent in gratifying their appetites, or hoarded for those whom they were to leave behind them: nor do they now regret their liberalities, or complain that their exposed harvest is perished.

May we remember their example for imitation! nor let any who have a mite to spare be wholly deficient, how low soever their circumstances may be; remembering that gracious complacency with which, where there is a willing mind, the smallest tribute to the treasury of God is accepted;—according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not. To elevate us to the most generous efforts of overflowing benevolence, may we ever bear in mind that grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, of which we all know something, but which it is impossible we should ever fully know, because it passeth knowledge;—that grace, which engaged him, when rich, for our sakes to become poor, that we might be enriched by his poverty. What have we that deserves to be called a possession, which we do not hold by an act of divine bounty and grace?

Let us then consider ourselves as under indispensable engagements, in consequence of it, to consecrate our all to him, conscious that our all is but a low return for the infinite obligations under which he has laid us. He has contrived and determined that the poor, in some form or other, we should always have with us, that we may do them good as a token of our gratitude to him. Let us faithfully aim to supply their need; and he who hath most will have no superfluity to throw away upon the lusts or vanities of life; and he who has least will have no unsupplied lack. Thus the poor will rejoice in the relief of their necessities; and the rich, in the happiest and most delightful use of their abundance.

The tenderness of ministers, in all points where the comfort and edification of the church is concerned, is, indeed, matter of the highest moment; and where it is remarkable in its degree, it affords just cause of thanksgivings to God; for it is he who puts into their hearts that earnest care, who excites and maintains every sentiment of benevolence, when they offer themselves willingly to any generous and charitable service. It is grace which has communicated whatever good is done; and it ought to be ascribed to the glory of the same Lord from whom it comes; for it loses all its value if it be not directed to this ultimate, this supreme end.

When the Corinthians desired to deposit their alms in the hands of St. Paul, they certainly acted a very wise part, as no man living could have rendered them more secure, as to the fidelity or the discretion of the distribution: and yet we see that, high as the Apostle's character stood, and though he had so often given, and was daily renewing, such striking demonstrations both of his wisdom and integrity,—he nevertheless would not undertake the trust alone; but used all proper methods to prove his exactness in the management thereof, even to strangers, providing things honest and laudable, not only in the sight of God, but also of men.

May ministers be often thus employed as the almoners of persons richer than themselves;—(as their readiness to help the poor in their temporal affairs may, and has often been found greatly to promote their usefulness in spirituals,) and may they appear to have managed their trust with the like conscious and delicate honour. May they shew a disposition, like that of St. Paul, to assist in establishing and advancing the characters of their younger brethren, and introducing them into esteem and confidence. Thus will they indeed most effectually strengthen their own hands, and edify and comfort the churches: thus will they prove the glory of Christ themselves in the present age, and be the means of raising up others, who may eminently deserve that illustrious title in succeeding generations. Let us observe with pleasure the happy address of the Apostle, ch. 2 Corinthians 9:2 a felicity, not the result of craft, but of that amiable temper which was so eminent in him. He pleads the high opinion he had entertained of his Corinthian friends, and the honourable things that he had said of them; expressing his persuasion of their readiness to give, as a matter of bounty, not of constraint. He leads them to the inexhaustible stores of the divine liberality, from which they had received their present all; from which he wishes they may receive more and more: and this not that these supplies might be ignobly consumed in self-gratifications, but employed in acts of the noblest beneficence. He represents to them the thanksgivings which it had already occasioned to God, the refreshment it had administered to the saints, the honour it did to their character and profession, and the esteem and friendship for them which it excited in the minds of those, who, though unacquainted with them, were well affected towards their happiness, in consequence of this honourable specimen of their character. Who could withstand the force of such oratory? No doubt it was effectual to cultivate the temper which it applauded, and to add a rich abundance to the fruits of their righteousness. Let us then apply the thoughts here suggested for our own instruction, to excite us to abound in acts of liberality, and to present them to God with that cheerfulness which he loves. To him let us continually look, to make all grace abound in us, and seek a sufficiency in all things relating to this present life, chiefly that we may be ready to every good work; that so our liberality may still endure, and that the multiplication of our seed sown may increase the fruits of our righteousness.

To God be the praise of all ascribed. He ministers seed to the sower; he supplies bread for food; he calls up the blessings of harvest; he insures the advantages of commerce. May we praise him ourselves, and, by the ready communication of the good things which he hath given us to those that want, not only supply their necessities, but give them cause to abound in thanksgiving to God, as well as in prayer for us; while they see and acknowledge that exceeding grace which is the spring of every generous motion in the human heart, and to which therefore be the glory of all!

To conclude, happy shall we be if we learn that pious and evangelical turn of thought suggested by St. Paul, 2Co 9:15 if by all the other gifts of God we are thus led up to the first and greatest unspeakable gift of his love and mercy to sinful men. And surely we may thence encourage our hopes of whatever else is necessary and desirable; for, as this great Apostle elsewhere argues,—he that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how is it possible that he should not be ready with him also freely to give us all things that are truly good for us! Romans 8:32.

REFLECTIONS.—1st. The Apostle, with admirable address, while he seems to wave many arguments which he might have urged, yet by his confidence expressed in the readiness of the Corinthians to comply with his request, lays the strongest obligations on them to shew their generosity. He knew their forwardness; he boasted of their zeal; and it had excited a holy ambition in the Macedonians to follow them. For their own sakes, therefore, as well as his, he wished them to be ready, and had sent Titus and the brethren for this purpose, lest if any of the Macedonians came to them with him, he, not to say they themselves, might be put to shame in the confident boasting that he had made of them, should they be found unprepared, and their collections not completed. He sent therefore, that, having timely notice, all might be ready in the way most honourable for them, and most agreeable to the commendations he had given of them; not as an extorted alms, but as a noble, generous, willing contribution, the grateful acknowledgment due to God for all the singular mercies they had received. Note; Alms given with reluctance, or squeezed out by mere importunity, only prove the covetousness, not the charity of the giver.

2nd, The Apostle proceeds,
1. To direct them concerning the right manner of giving. It must be done, (1.) Bountifully, according to our abilities. (2.) With deliberation, not inconsiderately, but after weighing well what we can afford, consistent with the provisions that we owe to our own house. (3.) Not grudgingly, or of necessity, as if it was extorted by importunity, or as if we were ashamed not to do as others; or as if our heart grieved to part with what our hand bestowed: such a spirit would mar the deed.

2. He suggests the strongest reasons to excite their liberality. (1.) It would be highly for their own advantage. He which soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly: and he which soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully. (2.) God loveth a cheerful giver, and his love is the greatest of blessings. (3.) He is able abundantly to recompense you, both in spiritual graces, and worldly goods; so that you shall still have an abundant sufficiency through his good providence, and be enabled to abound in every good work, never finding yourselves the poorer for what is spent in his blessed service. (4.) They would hereby secure lasting honour, since the scripture testifies of him who liberally dispenses to the poor, that his righteousness, or alms, remaineth for ever, and shall, if he be faithful unto death, bring forth the most blessed fruits in everlasting life, when the great Judge, in the day of his appearing, shall remember and reward him. (5.) Much glory will hereby accrue to God, as well as much good be done to the poor saints, who, experiencing the riches of your bounty, will be excited to offer their thanksgivings to God for this proof of your fraternal love, and of your real subjection to the gospel of Christ, manifested in such liberality shewn to them, and unto all men as occasion requireth. Note; Where true Christianity is enthroned in the heart, it will ever appear in god-like charity. (6.) This will also engage the prayers of those who partake of your bounty; and an interest in the supplications of the saints at a throne of grace will abundantly repay us for every kindness done to them. Note; When we can make no other acknowledgment, we must pray for our kind benefactors, that God, the poor man's friend, may reward them.

3. The Apostle offers up his own earnest prayers for them. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower, so that there is corn enough for the year's provision, and a sufficiency again to sow the ground, both minister bread for your food, and give you always a supply; and multiply your seed sown, restoring it a hundred fold into your bosoms; and increase the fruits of your righteousness, enabling you to abound in liberality more and more, as I have humble confidence he will; being enriched in every thing, with all the blessings of grace and providence, which can enable and dispose you to exercise all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God, who bless his name both for the abundance he has bestowed upon you, and for the heart that he has given you to employ it to his glory.

4. He concludes, therefore, with this doxology; Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift, for all that he has done for you, in you, and by you; above all, for Jesus Christ, that most transcendently invaluable gift, which comprehends all others, and for which all language is insufficient to express our gratitude.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 9". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/2-corinthians-9.html. 1801-1803.