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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
2 Corinthians 8

 

 

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Verse 11

11–8:1.] EARNEST EXHORTATIONS TO SEPARATION FROM UNBELIEF AND IMPURITY.


Verse 1

1.] δέ is transitional,—passing on to new matter: so 1 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Corinthians 8:1 al. fr.

χάριν] For every good gift and frame of mind comes by divine grace, not by human excellency: and this occasion was most opportune for resting the liberality of the Macedonian churches on God’s grace, that he might not be extolling them at the expense of the Corinthians, but holding out an example of the effusion of that grace, which was common to the Corinthians also, if they sought and used it.

It is a mistake, with Orig(11), Erasm., al., to understand ἐμοί or ἡμῖν after δεδομένην, ‘quemadmodum adfuerit mihi Deus in ecclesiis:’ see the construction διδόναι ἐν in reff.:—given among,—shed abroad in, the churches of Macedonia.


Verses 1-6

1–6.] He informs them of the readiness of the Macedonian churches to contribute for the poor saints (at Jerusalem), which led him also to beg of Titus to complete the collection at Corinth. See some interesting geographical and historical notices in Stanley’s introduction to this section, edn. 2, pp. 479 f.


Verses 1-15

2 Corinthians 8:1 to 2 Corinthians 9:15.] SECOND PART OF THE EPISTLE: CONCERNING THE COLLECTION FOR THE SAINTS.


Verse 2

2.] how that (depends on γνωρίζομεν) in much proof of tribulation (though they were put to the proof by much tribulation) (was) the abundance of their joy (i.e. their joy abounded), and their deep poverty ( κατὰ βάθους, lit. ‘down into the depth,’ as καθʼ ὅλου, ‘throughout the whole’) abounded to (‘abunde cessit in,’ as Meyer, &c. or rather perhaps, ‘abounded,’ produced abundant fruit, ‘so as to bring about’.…) the riches ( τὸ πλ. the riches which have actually become manifest by the result of the collection of their liberality (see ref. Rom. and note).


Verses 3-5

3–5.] Proof of this. There is no difficulty, and no ellipsis, in the construction. For according to their power, I testify, and beyond their power, voluntarily, with much exhortation beseeching of us the grace and fellowship of the ministry to the saints (i.e. to allow them a share in that grace and fellowship), and not as we expected (i.e. far beyond our expectation), but themselves they gave first (i.e. above all: as the inducing motive: not first in point of time, but in point of importance, see Romans 2:9-10) to the Lord, and to us by the will of God (the Giver of grace, who made them willing to do this: not = κατὰ τὸ θέλ. τ. θ., which only expresses (whatever it may imply) consonance with the divine will: διὰ τοῦ θελ. τ. θ. makes the divine will the agent).


Verse 6

6.] So that we besought Titus (not, Titus besought us, see 2 Corinthians 8:17), that (the aim, and purport as well, of our request), as he had previously (before the Macedonians began to contribute: ‘during his visit from which he had now returned’) begun it, so he would also complete among you (the construction is pregnant— ἔλθῃ εἰς ὑμᾶς καὶ ἐπιτελέσῃ) this grace also (this act of grace or mercy, reff.

καί,—as well as other things which he had to do among them. It does not belong to ταύτην, ‘this grace also, as well as other graces,’ but to τὴν χάριν ταύτην altogether).


Verse 7

7.] ἀλλά marks the transition to an exhortation, as in reff. It at the same time implies, as Herm. ad Viger. p. 812 (in Meyer), ‘satis argumentorum allatum esse.’

πίστει, see ch. 2 Corinthians 1:24.

λόγῳ κ. γνώσει see ref. and for γν., 1 Corinthians 8:1.

πάσῃ σπουδῇ, because σπουδή may be manifold even in a good sense. Grot. well explains it, ‘stadium ad agendas res bonas.’

τῇ ἐξ ὑμ. ἐν ἡμ. ἀγ.] your love to us;—the love which, arising from you, has us for its object: see reff. According to the reading, ἐξ ἡμῶν ἐν ὑμ., the only meaning agreeing with the context is, ‘the love (to God and man) which, arising from our teaching, is planted in you.’

ἵνα καὶ κ. τ. λ.] the sense is imperative,— κελεύω, or βούλομαι,—(or βλέπετε, see 1 Corinthians 16:10,)—being omitted. So Soph. Œd. Col. 156, ἀλλʼ ἵνα τῷδʼ ἐν ἀφθέγκτῳ, μὴ προσπέσῃς νάπει. See Hartung, Partikellehre, ii. 148, 9.

ταύτῃ is emphatic here, although ταύτην is not in 2 Corinthians 8:6; ‘this grace also;’—other graces having been enumerated.

Grotius remarks, ‘non ignoravit Paulus artem rhetorum, movere laudando.’


Verses 7-15

7–15.] Exhortations and inducements to perform this act of charity.


Verse 8

8.] Lest his last words should be misunderstood, he explains the spirit in which they were said: not as a command, but by way of inducement, by mention of the earnestness of others, and to try the genuineness of their love.

κατʼ ἐπιτ.] not, ‘in consequence of a command from God,’ as Dr. Burton,—but, by way of command (1 Corinthians 7:6).

διὰ τῆς is not = διὰ τήν, ‘by occasion of,’ as E. V.:—but treats the ἑτέρων σπουδή as the instrument by which, in the way of emulation, the effect was to be produced.

The participial construction is as in 1 Corinthians 4:14.


Verse 9

9.] Explanation of ‘trying the genuineness of your love,’ by upholding His example in the matter, Whom we ought to resemble.

τ. χάριν, the (act of) grace:—the beneficence.

ὅτι] consisting in this, that …

πλ. ὤν] The participle refers to the time when the historic act implied in the aorist ἐπτώχευσεν took place. He, being rich, became poor:—not, as De W., merely by His renunciation of human riches during His life on earth, but by His exinanition of His glory (Philippians 2:6-7), when, as Athanas. (contra Apol. ii. 11, vol. ii. (Migne), p. 757), τὴν πτωχεύσασαν φύσιν ἐν ἑαυτῷ ἀνελάβετο.

The stress is on διʼ ὑμᾶς, to raise the motive of gratitude the more effectually in them.

τῇ ἐκ. πτωχ. πλουτήσητε] that by His poverty (as the efficient cause) ye might become rich: viz. with the same wealth in which He was rich,—the kingdom and glory of Heaven, including τὰ μυρία ἅπερ παρέσχεν ἡμῖν ἀγαθά as Chrys. (Hom. xvii. p. 559): who had just before said, εἰ μὴ πιστεύεις, ὅτι ἡ πτωχεία πλούτου ἐστὶ ποιητική, ἐννόησόν σου τὸν δεσπότην, καὶ οὐκέτι ἀμφιβάλῃς (al. - λεῖς). See the various possible meanings discussed in Stanley’s note.


Verse 10

10.] 2 Corinthians 8:9 was parenthetic: he now resumes the οὐ κατʼ ἐπιταγὴν λέγωAnd I give my opinion [not ‘judgment,’ as rendered in the Version of the Five Clergymen, which is objectionable here, as conveying the very idea which the Apostle wishes to negative, that of an authoritative decision] in this matter, the stress being on γνώμην, as distinguished from ἐπιταγήν.

τοῦτο γὰρ.…] For this (viz. ‘my giving my opinion, and not commanding,’—as Billroth and Meyer. De Wette controverts this, and would make τοῦτο refer to the proof of their love in the act of charity, contending that τοῦτο must refer to the same as ἐν τούτῳ. But Meyer rightly answers that this need not be, for ἐν τούτῳ is altogether unemphatic and insignificant, and the whole sense of the clause is in the words γνώμην δίδωμι) is expedient for you (better than “befitting,” or “suitable,” as suggested by Bloomf. after the Schol. ἁρμόζει, συνᾴδει. This sense of συμφέρει is not found in the N. T., and is very doubtful elsewhere. See Palm and Rost’s Lex.), seeing that you (‘quippe qui;’ οἵτινες is decisive for the above meaning of τοῦτο. ‘My giving my opinion, rather than commanding, is expedient for you, who have already shewn yourselves so willing.’ A command from me would be a lowering of you, and depreciation of your zeal) began before them (the Macedonian churches, see below) not only the act, but also the mind to act, from a year ago: i.e. ‘not only were you before them in the deed itself, but also in the will to do it.’

The sense has been missed by many of the Commentators, from not observing the comparison implied in προενήρξασθε, and applying it only to the Corinthians themselves beginning. In that case, as the will comes before the deed, to say, you began not only to do, but also to will, would be unmeaning. Some, in consequence, as Grot., al., and the Peschito, have arbitrarily assumed an inversion of terms, so that ‘non solum facere, sed velle’ should = ‘non solum velle, sed facere.’ Others, as Chrys., Theodoret, al., Erasm., Calv., Beza., al., Billroth, Olsh., Rückert, al. m., have taken θέλειν = ‘to do with a good will,’ which is certainly not its sense in 2 Corinthians 8:11. The above explanation is that of Cajetan, Estius, De Wette, Winer, Meyer, and Wieseler, and puts the climax in its right order, making it a backward one of comparison. For as Wieseler remarks (Chron. Apost. Zeit. p. 364, note), there are three steps in the collection for the saints,—the wishing it ( θέλειν), the setting about it ( ποιῆσαι), and the completion of it ( ἐπιτελέσαι). And the Corinthians had begun not only the second, but even the first of these, before the Macedonians. Long employed as they had then been in the matter, it was more creditable to them to receive advice from the Apostle, than command.

θέλειν is not a historic act like ποιῆσαι, but a permanent state: hence the pres. inf.” Meyer.

In saying ἀπὸ πέρυσι ‘from last year,’ it seems probable that Paul would speak as a Jew, regarding the year as beginning in Tisri.


Verse 11

11.] But (contrast of your former zeal with your present need to be reminded of it) now complete the act itself also ( καί can hardly apply to the whole τὸ ποι. ἐπιτ., as De Wette, but must be taken with ποιῆσαι; now shew not only the completion of a ready will in the act begun, but complete the act also,—as Meyer), that, as (there was) (with you) readiness of will, so (there may) also (be) completion according to your means ( ἐκ τοῦ ἔχειν, not ‘out of that which ye have,’ as E. V., but ‘after the measure of your property,’ as in ref. The verbs substantive must be supplied, as in 2 Corinthians 8:13).


Verse 12

12.] Explanation of ἐκ τοῦ ἔχειν,—that on it, προθυμία being presupposed, and not on absolute quantity, acceptability depends. For if a willing mind is present,—according to what it may happen to possess, it is acceptable, not according to what it possesseth not. The construction of the sentence is simple enough: προθυμία being the subject throughout, quasi-personified: readiness in God’s service is accepted, if its exertion be commensurate with its means,—and is not measured by an unreasonable requirement of what it has not.


Verses 13-15

13–15.] Further explanation that the present collection is not intended to press the Corinthians καθὸ οὐκ ἔχουσι. For (it is) not (the collection is not made) that there may be to others (the saints at Jerusalem) relief, and to you distress (of poverty):


Verse 14

14.] but that by the rule of equality ( ἐξ as in ἐκ τοῦ ἔχειν, above), at this present time (of their need: the stress is on ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ as suggesting that this relation may hereafter be altered) your abundance may subserve ( γένηται, see next clause. γίνεσθαι εἰς, ‘to be extended to,’ see ref. Gal.) their deficiency; that also (supposing circumstances changed) their abundance may subserve your want. The reference is still, as is evident from the next verse, to the supply of temporal wants, in respect of which there should be a mutual relieving and sharing among Christians. But the passage has been curiously misunderstood to mean, ‘that their (the Jewish Christians’) abundance in spiritual things may be imparted to you to supply your deficiency.’ Thus Chrys., al.,—the ancients regarding this imparting as the Gospel-benefit received from them by the Gentiles (which however was past, not future, and is urged as a motive for gratitude, see Romans 15:27), and the modern Romanists introducing the monstrous perversion of the attribution of the merits of the saints to others in the next world. So Estius: “Locus hic apostoli contra nostræ ætatis hæreticos ostendit, posse Christianos minus sanctos meritis sanctorum adjuvari etiam in futuro sæculo. Denique notanda virtus eleemosynæ, quæ facit hominem participem meritorum ejus in quem confertur.”


Verse 15

15.] that there may be equality, as it is written (i.e. according to the expression used in the Scripture history: παράγει παλαιὰν ἱστορίαν, Chrys.,—of the gathering of the manna) He that (gathered) much, did not exceed (the measure prescribed by God): and he that (gathered) little, did not fall short (of it). The fact of equality being the only point brought into comparison as between the Israelites of old and Christians now, it is superfluous to enquire minutely how this equality was wrought among the Israelites. The quotation is according to the reading of the LXX generally supported by MSS.; except that ἔλαττον appears for ὀλίγον in A a secunda manu. Grabe (not F) and the Aldine edition have ᾧ τὸ πολύ and ᾧ τὸ ὀλίγον, probably a correction. The context supplies συλλέξας from the συνέλεξαν in the preceding verse,—and is presumed by the Apostle to be familiar to his readers.


Verse 16

16.] The sense is taken up from 2 Corinthians 8:6.

διδόντι ἐν, see reff. τὴν αὐτ. σπ., viz. ‘as in myself.’ This is evident from ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν.


Verses 16-24

16–24.] Of Titus and two other brethren whom Paul had commissioned to complete the collection.


Verse 17

17.] Proof of this; that Titus received indeed ( μέν) Paul’s exhortation to go to them (said, to shew his subordination,—or perhaps to authenticate his authorization by the Apostle), but in reality ( δέ) was too ready to go, to need any exhortation;—and therefore went forth (the past tense of the epistolary style,—as ‘dabam,’ &c., indicating things which will have passed before the letter is received) of his own accord to them.


Verse 18

18.] ὁ ἀδελφός cannot surely be, as some Commentators (Heumann, Rückert) have understood, ‘the brother of Titus:’ the delicate nature of the mission would require that there should be at least no family connexion between those sent to fulfil it. This and the other are called in 2 Corinthians 8:23, ἀδελφοὶ ἡμῶν, and were unquestionably Christian brethren in the usual sense. Who this was, we know not. Chrys., Theodoret, Œcum., Luther, Calvin, suppose Barnabas to be meant; but there is no historical ground for this, and we can hardly suppose him put under Titus. Baronius and Estius suppose, Silas; to whom this last objection would also apply; besides that he was well known to the Corinthians, and therefore would not need this recommendation. Orig(12), Jerome, τινές in Chrys., Ambrose, Pelagius, Primasius, Anselm, Cajetan, Grot., Olsh., al., suppose Luke:—and of these all before Grot. (who pointed out the mistake; which however I see reproduced in Mr. Birks’s Horæ Apostolicæ, p. 242 f.) suppose οὗ ὁ ἔπαινος ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ to refer to his gospel,— διὰ τὴν ἱστορίαν ἥνπερ ἔγραψε, Chrys. Hom. xviii. p. 564;—but this is altogether without proof, as is the assumption that it was Mark (Lightfoot, Storr). It may have been Trophimus, who (Acts 20:4) accompanied Paul into Asia, and (Acts 21:29) to Jerusalem: so De Wette, Wieseler. If the expression whose praise in (the matter of) the Gospel is throughout all the Churches, is to be compared with any similar eulogium, that of Gaius in Romans 16:23 seems to correspond most nearly: γάϊος ὁ ξένος μου καὶ ὅλης τῆς ἐκκλησίας: but he was resident at Corinth, see 1 Corinthians 1:14. A Gaius, a Macedonian, is mentioned Acts 19:29, as one of the συνέκδημοι of Paul, as here, together with Aristarchus, which latter we know accompanied him to Jerusalem (but see below on ch. 2 Corinthians 9:4).

It must then rest in uncertainty.


Verses 18-21

18–21.] Commendation of a brother sent with Titus.


Verse 19

19.] parenthetical (see on 2 Corinthians 8:20) adding to his general commendation a particular qualification for this office.

οὐ μόν. δέ,—and not only so (i.e. praised in all the churches), but who was also appointed (‘suffragiis designatus,’ see ref. and note; and Stanley here) by the churches (of Macedonia? see 2 Corinthians 8:1) as our fellow-traveller (to Jerusalem, from what follows) in (the matter of) this charity which is being ministered by us,—in order to subserve the glory of the Lord and our readiness (this clause refers not to διακον. ὑφʼ ἡμ. as usually interpreted, but to the fact related, the union of this brother with Paul in the matter of the alms, which was done to avoid suspicions detrimental to Christ’s glory, and to the zeal of the Apostle):


Verse 20

20.] taking heed of this (‘devitantes,’ Vulg.— ὑποπτεύσαντες κ. δεδοικότες, Theophyl.:—the participle belongs to συνεπέμψαμεν, 2 Corinthians 8:19 being parenthetical) that no one blame us (ref.) in the matter of this abundance (of contributions) which is being ministered by us. On ἁδρότης, Meyer observes, “from ἁδρός, ‘compact,’ ‘solid;’—is used in Homer (Il. χ. 363, π. 857, ω. 6) of a firm and succulent habit of body. Later, we have it in all the various references of the adjective, e.g. of abundance—of plants and fruits (Theophr.), of discourse (Diog. Laërt. x. 83), of tone (Athen(13) x. p. 415 A), &c. What kind of abundance is meant, the context therefore alone determines.” Wetst. says, “ ἁδρότης apud Zosimum quater pro ingenti largitione.”


Verse 21

21.] ‘And such caution is in accordance with our general practice.’ See reff. Rom. and Prov.


Verse 22

22.] Still less can we determine who this second brother is. Every possible person has been guessed. Several would answer to the description, ‘whom we have many times in many matters proved to be earnest.’ By our uncertainty in these two cases, we may see how much is required, to fill up the apostolic history at all satisfactorily.

πεποιθήσει …] through the great confidence which he has towards you: belongs to σπουδαιότερον, and to the brother, not to συνεπέμψαμεν and to Paul. The brother had, by what he had heard from Titus, conceived a high opinion of the probable success of their mission.


Verse 23

23.] General recommendation of the three.

εἴτε ὑπ. τίτου] Whether concerning Titus (we may supply λέγω or γράφω, or as in E. V., ‘any enquire:’ or we need not supply any thing), he is my partner and (especially) my fellow-worker towards you: whether our brethren (be in question:—viz. the two mentioned—but generalized by the absence of the article—‘whether [any] brethren of ours’), they are Apostles (in the more general sense of Acts 14:14; 1 Thessalonians 2:6; Philippians 2:25) of the churches (i.e. ‘are of the churches, what we are of the Lord’—persons sent out with authority), the glory of Christ (i.e. men whose work tends to Christ’s glory).


Verse 24

24.] Shew then to them the proof of your love (‘to us,’ or perhaps, ‘to your poor brethren’ (Meyer):—but the word has not been so used throughout this passage, see 2 Corinthians 8:7; χάρις has been the word), and of our boasting concerning you, in the sight of the churches. I may remark, (1) that the participial construction is elliptic, as in Romans 12:16 al. (2) That πρόσωπον τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν does not actually import ‘the representatives of the churches,’ as Meyer (which would be τὸ πρόσωπον or τὰ πρόσωπα, without εἰς), but as above, it being implied that they, being the ἀπόστολοι τ. ἐκκλ., are such representatives. And this is all that Theodoret seems to mean, whom Meyer quotes in support of his view:— τὸ πρόσωπον γὰρ τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν ἐπέχουσιν οὗτοι τῶν πεμψασῶν αὐτούς.

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 8:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/2-corinthians-8.html. 1863-1878.


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Tuesday, September 18th, 2018
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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