|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:10-15 Good purposes are like buds and blossoms, pleasant to behold, and give hopes of good fruit; but they are lost, and signify nothing without good deeds. Good beginnings are well; but we lose the benefit, unless there is perseverance. When men purpose that which is good, and endeavour, according to their ability, to perform also, God will not reject them for what it is not in their power to do. But this scripture will not justify those who think good meanings are enough, or that good purposes, and the mere profession of a willing mind, are enough to save. Providence gives to some more of the good things of this world, and to some less, that those who have abundance might supply others who are in want. It is the will of God, that by our mutual supplying one another, there should be some sort of equality; not such a levelling as would destroy property, for in such a case there could be no exercise of charity. All should think themselves concerned to relieve those in want. This is shown from the gathering and giving out the manna in the wilderness, Ex 16:18. Those who have most of this world, have no more than food and raiment; and those who have but little of this world, seldom are quite without them.
Verse 14. - But by an equality, etc. The verse, like so many in this chapter, is expressed very elliptically: "But by a reciprocal fairness in the present case, your superabundance to their lack, that also their superabundance may be in proportion to your lack, that there may come to be reciprocal fairness." St. Paul may possibly be thinking of the reciprocity of spiritual and temporal benefits, as in Romans 15:27; but if so he leaves the thought unexpressed. The application of the text to "works of supererogation" (Art. XIV.), as forming a fund at the disposal of the hierarchy in the way of indulgences, pardons, etc., is a singular perversion. The passage has been pointed out by Dean Stanley as one which indicates a possible acquaintance with the writings of Aristotle.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But by an equality,.... All that he meant was, that there might be an equality both in givers and receivers, proportioned to their several circumstances and stations of life:
that now at this time; which was a very necessitous time at Jerusalem, there being a famine there, and their common stock exhausted:
your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want; which respects either the different abilities of givers at different times; and that whereas now the church at Corinth was rich, and wealthy, and had great abundance of the things of this world, they in this general collection were able to make up the deficiencies of other churches; and so should it ever be their case, as it might be, that they should be reduced, and these other churches increased, and enjoy a large abundance, they might hereafter in their turn supply what would be wanting in them: or else the persons given to; and the sense is, that should they ever change circumstances, as it was not impossible that they that were now rich should become poor, and they that were poor become rich; then as their abundance had been a supply to the wants of others, the abundance of others in their turn would be a supply to their wants; so that the argument is taken from the hope of retribution, in case of such vicissitudes; see Luke 6:38 his view was,
that there may be equality; either that in time to come an equal return may be made, should it be necessary; or that at present some sort of equality might be observed between the rich and poor; that the rich should so distribute as not to leave themselves without a proper support, according to their station of life; and yet so freely communicate, that the poor may not be without food and raiment, suitable to their lower sphere of life.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14. by an equality—"by the rule of equality" [Alford]: literally, "Out of equality."
now at this time—Greek, "at the present juncture" or season.
that their abundance also—The Greek being distinct from the previous "that," translate, "in order that," namely, at another season, when your relative circumstances may be reversed. The reference is solely to temporal wants and supplies. Those, as Bengel, who quote Ro 15:27 for interpreting it of spiritual supplies from the Jews to the Gentiles, forget that Ro 15:27 refers to the past benefit spiritually, which the Jews have conferred on the Gentiles, as a motive to gratitude on the part of the latter, not to a prospective benefit to be looked for from the former, which the text refers to.
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