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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
2 Corinthians 8

 

 

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Verse 1-2

2 Corinthians 8:1-2. Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit γνωριζομεν, we make known to you; the grace of God — The great degree of grace conferred by God; on the churches of Macedonia — Namely, of Philippi, Thessalonica, Beræa, and other places in this province; which grace has induced them to exert themselves in a most liberal and generous contribution for the relief of the poor saints in Judea. It appears that the directions which the apostle, in his former letter, gave to the Corinthians concerning the collection to be made for the saints in Judea, had not been fully complied with. At the persuasion of Titus, indeed, they had begun that collection; but they had not finished it when he left Corinth, owing perhaps to the opposition made by the faction, or to the disturbances which the faction had raised in that church. Wherefore, to stir up the sincere among the Corinthians, to finish what they had so well begun, the apostle in this chapter sets before them the example of the Macedonian churches; who, notwithstanding their great poverty, had contributed beyond their ability, being inclined to that good work by an extraordinary measure of divine grace conferred upon them. How that in a great trial of affliction — Amidst great sufferings, which they met with from their persecuting enemies, always ready to harass and plunder them. See Acts 16:10, &c.; Acts 17:5, &c.; 1 Thessalonians 2:14. The abundance of their joy — Arising from the doctrines and promises of the gospel, and from the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit; and their deep poverty — That is, amidst their deep poverty; abounded unto — Or hath overflowed in; the riches of their liberality — So that, indigent as they are, they have done far beyond what could have been reasonably expected for the relief of their yet poorer brethren. By mentioning the poverty of the Macedonian Christians as the circumstance which enhanced their liberality, the apostle, in a very delicate manner, intimated to the Corinthians, who were an opulent people, (1 Corinthians 4:8,) that it was their duty to equal, if not exceed, the Macedonians, in the greatness of their gift. From 1 Thessalonians 2:14, it appears that the Christians in Thessalonica had been spoiled of their goods. So also it is probable the Beræans had been, Acts 17:13. In places of lesser note the disciples may have been few in number, and not opulent.


Verses 3-5

2 Corinthians 8:3-5. For to their power, &c. — According to their ability, yea, and beyond their ability; they were willing of themselves — Without our soliciting them. This, as Macknight justly observes, is no hyperbole, but an animated expression, strongly descriptive of the generosity of the Macedonians. They were willing to give more than they were well able, considering the distresses under which they themselves laboured. Praying us with much entreaty — Probably St. Paul had lovingly admonished them not to do beyond their power; that we would receive the gift — Which their bounty had prepared, and take a part in ministering it to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped — That is, beyond all we could have hoped; and first gave their own selves, and all they had, to the Lord — To his honour and service; and unto us — Resigned themselves to us; by the will of God — In obedience to his will, to be wholly directed by us; that is, to do what we should think most advisable in present circumstances.


Verses 6-8

2 Corinthians 8:6-8. Insomuch that — Seeing this forwardness in them; we desired Titus, that as he had begun — When he was with you before; so he would also now finish among you the same grace — That is, fruit of grace, or charity; also. Therefore, as ye abound in every thing — In all other gifts and attainments; in faith — A full assurance of the truth of the gospel; and utterance — In eloquence, or ability to speak a variety of languages; and knowledge — Of divine things; and in all diligence — In performing every Christian duty; and in your love to us — To me your spiritual father; see that ye abound — Or I pray that you would abound; in this grace of Christian liberality also. I speak not by commandment — Or by way of injunction, because works of charity ought to be voluntary; but by occasion of the forwardness of others — I recommend it on account of the diligence ( δια της σπουδης, through the zeal) of the Macedonians, which I wish you to imitate; and reprove the sincerity το γνησιον, the sincere thing, or the genuine sincerity; of your love — To God, to your brethren, and to me.


Verse 9

2 Corinthians 8:9. For ye know — And this knowledge is the true source of love; the grace — The most sincere, most free, and most abundant love; of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich — (1st,) In the glories of the divine nature, for, (John 1:1,) the Word was God, and subsisted in the form of God, (Philippians 2:6,) in the most perfect and indissoluble union with his eternal Father, with whom he had glory before the world was, John 17:5; and by whom he was beloved, as the only-begotten Son, before the foundation of the world, 2 Corinthians 8:24. (2d,) In the possession of the whole creation of God, which, as it was made by him, (John 1:3,) so was made for him, (Colossians 1:16,) and he was the heir and owner of it all, Hebrews 1:2. (3d,) In dominion over all creatures; he that cometh from above, (said the Baptist, John 3:31,) is above all; Lord of all, Acts 10:36; over all, God blessed for ever, Romans 9:5. All things being upheld were also governed by him, Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3. (4th,) In receiving glory from them all; all creatures being made, upheld, and governed by him, manifested the wisdom, power, and goodness, the holiness, justice, and grace of him, their great and glorious Creator, Preserver, and Ruler. (5th,) In receiving adoration and praise from the intelligent part of the creation, Psalms 97:7; Hebrews 1:6.

For your sakes he became poor — Namely, in his incarnation: not, observe, in ceasing to be what he was, the Wisdom, Word, and Son of God, and God, in union with his Father and the Holy Spirit; but in becoming what before he was not, namely, man; in assuming the human nature into an indissoluble and eternal union with the divine, John 1:14; Hebrews 2:14; Hebrews 2:16. In doing this he became poor, 1st, In putting off the form of God, and taking the form of a servant, appearing no longer as the Creator, but as a creature, veiling his perfections with our flesh, and concealing his glories from human eyes. 2d, In taking the form of a mean creature, not of an archangel or angel, (Hebrews 2:16,) but of a man; a creature formed out of the dust of the earth, and in consequence of sin returning to it; and becoming a servant to the meanest of them. I am among you, (said he;) among whom? — Among princes? No; but among fishermen; as one that serveth. 3d, In taking the form even of a sinful creature, being made in the likeness of sinful flesh, Romans 8:3. For, though without sin, he appeared as a sinner, and was treated as such. And this likeness he assumed, 4th, Not in a state of wealth, and honour, and felicity, but in a state of extreme poverty, and infamy, and suffering. 5th, In this state our sins and sorrows were imputed to him, and laid upon him, and his honour, his liberty, and his life, were taken away, in ignominy and torture.

That ye through his poverty might be made rich — It is implied here that we were poor, and could not otherwise be made rich, but may in this way. When man was first formed, he was rich in the possession of God, and of this whole visible creation. 1st, In the favour and friendship, the protection, care, and bounty of his Creator; in the knowledge, love, and enjoyment of him. All this was lost by the fall. Man became ignorant, sinful, guilty, and a child of wrath, Ephesians 2:3; deprived of the favour, exposed to the displeasure of his God, and subjected to the tyranny of his lusts and passions, and of the powers of darkness. 2d, When first made, man was the lord of this lower world; all things on this earth being put under his feet, and made subservient to his happiness. This is not the case now. The creature was made subject to vanity, and does not satisfy or make him happy while he has it, and is constantly liable to be torn from him, and in the end he is certainly stripped of all. 3d, Man has even lost himself; he is so poor as not to retain possession of his health, or strength, or body, or soul. He has contracted an immense debt, and is liable to be himself arrested and thrown into the prison of eternal destruction. His body is due to sickness, pain, and death; and his soul to the wrath of God, and is liable to be seized by Satan, the executioner of the divine wrath. Such is our natural poverty! Having forfeited all, we have nothing left, neither the Creator nor his creatures, nor even ourselves. But the Son of God came, that, having assumed our nature, taken our sins and sufferings, and paid our forfeit, we might yet be rich. 1st, In the favour of God, and all the blessed effects thereof, in time and in eternity. 2d, In being adopted into his family, born of his Spirit, and constituted his children and his heirs. 3d, In being restored to his image, and endued with the gifts and graces of his Spirit. 4th, In being admitted to an intimate union and fellowship with him. 5th, In having the use of God’s creatures restored to us, blessed and sanctified, even all things needful for life as well as godliness. 6th, In being unspeakably happy with Jesus in paradise, in the intermediate state between death and judgment. 7th, In having our bodies restored, and conformed to Christ’s glorious body, at his second coming. 8th, In being associated with all the company of heaven in the new world which the Lord will make, admitted to the vision and enjoyment of God, and the possession of all things, Revelation 21:7; — riches, honour, and felicity, unsearchable in degree, and eternal in duration! And all this we have through his poverty, through his incarnation, life, death, his resurrection, ascension, and intercession; whereby, having expiated sin, and abolished death, he hath obtained all these unspeakable blessings for such as will accept of them in the way which he hath prescribed; which is, that we acknowledge our poverty in true repentance and humiliation of soul before God, and accept of these unsearchable riches in faith, gratitude, love, and new obedience.


Verses 10-12

2 Corinthians 8:10-12. And herein — In this matter; I give my advice — That to finish your collection immediately is for your reputation, who have formerly begun, not only to make the collection, but also to manifest a remarkable willingness; even a year ago — When Titus was with you. Now, therefore, perform, &c. — Speedily finish the business, agreeably to your former resolution; that as there was a readiness to will — And undertake this charitable work; so there may be a performance, &c. — Or a readiness to finish; out of — Or according to, your ability, be it never so little. For if there be first a willing mind — A sincere readiness in any man to act according to his ability; it — Or he rather; is ευπροσδεκτος, well accepted — Of God; a little, in proportion to his abilities, is pleasing to God. If a person, being a true believer in Christ, and a lover of God and his people, act in any thing according to the best light he has, and with a single eye to God’s glory, his work, or his gift, be it ever so small, is graciously accepted of God. This rule holds universally: and whoever acknowledges himself to be a vile, guilty sinner, and, in consequence of this acknowledgment, flees for refuge to the wounds of a crucified Saviour, and relies on his merits alone for salvation, may, in every circumstance of life, apply this indulgent declaration to himself.


Verses 13-15

2 Corinthians 8:13-15. I mean not that other men — Those who are now in want; should be eased — Plentifully supplied; and ye be burdened — Straitened to relieve them; that is, that ease should be to the brethren in Judea, through distress to you. But by ( εξ, on account of) an equality — That a distribution should be made according to their necessity and your ability; that at the present time your abundance may be a supply for the wants of the brethren in Judea, and that at another time, if God, in the course of his providence, should hereafter change your conditions, and you should stand in need of it; their abundance may be a supply for your wants, so as that there may be an equality — That there may be no want on the one side, nor superfluity on the other. The words may likewise have a further meaning: that as the temporal bounty of the Corinthians supplied the temporal wants of their poor brethren in Judea, so the prayers of these might be a means of bringing down many spiritual blessings on their benefactors. So that all the spiritual wants of the one might be amply supplied; all the temporal of the other. As it is written — As it was in the gathering of the manna; He that gathered much had nothing over, &c. — Had only his proportion. For what any person gathered more than a homer, was put into a common stock, to make up that quantity to the aged and infirm, who gathered little.


Verses 16-22

2 Corinthians 8:16-22. But thanks be to God — But while I speak of this collection which I am desirous of promoting, I would express my gratitude to God, who put the same earnest care — Which I have; into the heart of Titus for you — Namely, to promote this work among you. For he accepted the exhortation — Complied with my desire to promote and perfect this work; being forward — To undertake it; of his own accord — Yea, before he was spoken to. And we — I and Timothy; have sent with him the brother — The ancients generally supposed this was St. Luke; whose praise — For faithfully dispensing the gospel; is throughout all the churches — Macknight interprets the clause, “whose praise, on account of the gospel which he hath written, is great, throughout all the churches of Christ in these parts.” And not that only — Not only is he so much esteemed on these accounts, but he was also chosen — Ordained and appointed; of the churches — Whom we consulted on this occasion, particularly of Macedonia; to travel with us — To accompany me to Jerusalem; with this grace — This fruit of grace, this contribution; which is administered, &c. — Which I have been the instrument of procuring; to the glory of the same Lord Jesus, and the declaration of your ready mind — Your readiness to do works of charity to the saints. This is the second character of the person who was sent by the apostle with Titus to Corinth. He was chosen by the churches of Macedonia to accompany Paul to Jerusalem, to witness his delivering their gift. This character, likewise, agrees very well to Luke. For having resided long at Philippi, he was well known to the Macedonian churches, who, by making him their messenger to Judea, showed their great respect for him. Avoiding this — Taking care of this; that no man should blame us — Charge me with any undue partial dealing, or as being unfaithful; in this abundance — This large collection, the management of which is intrusted with us. Providing for honest, or honourable things, not only in the sight of the Lord — To whom it is and ought to be our first and chief care to approve ourselves; but also in the sight of men — From whose minds I wish to remove every suspicion which might hinder my usefulness. And we have sent with them — That is, with Titus and Luke; our brother — Probably Apollos; whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many other affairs, but now much more — In his endeavours to promote the collection among you; upon the great confidence, &c. — That is, I have sent him with them upon the great confidence which I have as to your goodness and liberality. Or, connecting the clause with the words immediately preceding, the sense is, that the brother spoken of was much more ready to come to Corinth, and active in his endeavours to forward the collection, upon the great confidence which he had in the good disposition of the Corinthians to the work.


Verse 23-24

2 Corinthians 8:23-24. Whether any inquire, &c. — As if he had said, If any be not yet satisfied, but desire to know more of those persons, and inquire concerning Titus, he is my partner — In my cares and labours; and fellow- helper concerning you — Always ready to act in concert with me in any attempt to correct what is amiss among you, and to promote your improvement in real Christianity. Or the meaning may be, He is my fellow- labourer with respect to you, having assisted me in planting the gospel among you. If it be inquired concerning our other brethren, whom I have mentioned above, and who accompany Titus, they are the messengers of the churches — Persons sent by the churches to go with me to Jerusalem; and the glory of Christ — Signal instruments of advancing his glory. “The apostle’s example in doing justice to the characters of his younger fellow- labourers, is highly worthy of the imitation of the more aged ministers of the gospel. They ought to introduce their younger brethren to the esteem and confidence of the people, by giving the praise which is due to them. For, as Doddridge observes, they will most effectually strengthen their own hands and edify the church, by being instrumental in setting forward others, who, on account of their faithfulness and diligence in the ministry, will in time merit the illustrious appellation of being the glory of Christ.” — Macknight. Wherefore show before the churches — Present by their messengers; the proof of your love to me and the saints — That is, an evidence that it is sincere; and of our boasting on your behalf — That it was not without foundation.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 8:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-corinthians-8.html. 1857.


Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, September 19th, 2018
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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