2 Corinthians 8:10
And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago.
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(10) And herein I give my advice.—We note the same careful distinction between command and counsel which we have seen in 1Corinthians 7:25.

Who have begun before . . .—Better, who got the start, last year, not only as to the doing, but also as to the willing. At first, the words seem like an anti-climax, but what is meant is that the Corinthians had been before the Macedonian churches in both those stages. They had formed the purpose of giving, they had begun to lay by and to collect, before their rivals had started. They had, as it were, scored those two points in that game of honourable competition. It was “profitable for them” that he, as a by-stander watching the game, should give them a hint, so that they might not at last be ignominiously defeated. It is not easy to fix the exact limits of time indicated in the “year ago.” The First Epistle was written about Easter. Then, after remaining at Ephesus for a while, there came the journey to Troas; then that to Macedonia; then the coming of Titus, bringing word that the Corinthians had acted on the command of 1Corinthians 16:1. This would bring us to the autumn months; and St. Paul, reckoning, as a Jew would, the year as beginning with Tisri (September or October), might speak of what had taken place in April or May as done “last year,” though there had not been an interval of twelve months.

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.

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.And herein I give my advice - Not undertaking to command them, or to prescribe how much they should give. Advice will go much further than commands on the subject of charities.

For this is expedient for you - (συμφέρει sumpherei). That is, this will be of advantage to you; it will be profitable; it will be becoming. The idea is, that they were bound by a regard to consistency and to their own welfare, to perform what they had purposed. It became them; it was proper, and was demanded; and there would have been manifest disadvantages if it had not been done.

Who have begun before - Who commenced the collection a year before; see 2 Corinthians 8:6. It had been commenced with fair prospects of success, but had been interrupted probably by the dissensions which arose in the church there.

Not only to do - Not merely to accomplish it as if by constraint, or as a matter of compulsion and drudgery.

But also to be forward - Margin, "Willing." So the Greek τὸ θέλειν to thelein. They were voluntary in this, and they set about it with vigorous and determined zeal and courage. There was a resolute determination in the thing, and a willingness and heartiness in it which showed that they were actuated by Christian principle. Consistency, and their own reputation and advantage, now demanded that they should complete what they had begun.

10. advice—Herein he does not (as some misinterpret the passage) disclaim inspiration for the advice he gives; but under the Spirit, states that it is his "opinion" [Alford] or "judgment" [Ellicott, and others], not a command, that so their offering might be free and spontaneous.

this—my giving you an advice, not a command.

who have begun before—"seeing that ye have begun before" the Macedonian churches; "a year ago" should be connected with this clause.

not only to do, but also to be forward—There were three steps: (1) the forwardness, more literally, "the will"; (2) the setting about it, literally, "doing it"; (3) completion of it [Alford]. In the two former, not only the act, but the intention, the Corinthians preceded the Macedonians. Bengel explains, "Not only to do" FOR THE PAST YEAR, "but also to be forward" or willing FOR THIS YEAR. Ellicott translates, "already," instead of "before": "Ye began already a year ago, not only to do, but also to be forward." It appears hence, that something had been done in the matter a year before; other texts, however, show the collection was not yet paid (compare 2Co 8:11 and 2Co 9:5, 7). This agrees with one, and only one supposition, namely, that every man had laid by in store the fund from which he was afterwards to contribute, the very case which is shown by 1Co 16:2 to have existed [Paley, Horæ Paulinæ].

Giving to those that were in want, was matter of precept (it being what the law of God and nature did require); but giving as the Macedonians had given, not only to, but beyond, their ability, was not so. Or, possibly, the apostle’s saying,

I give my advice, doth not suppose what he advised to be no commanded duty; friends may advise us to what is our duty to do.

For, saith the apostle, this is expedient for you; for your profit, or for your honour and reputation. A precept alone ought to oblige us to this doing of the thing commanded, but the profit, credit, and honour of the action adds an edge to the duty, and layeth us under a double obligation; the first, of obedience to God; the second, of being wise for ourselves.

Who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago: the apostle proveth the expediency of it from the concern of their reputation in it; that they might not be thought to have gone backward, or to become weary of well doing, in regard they had begun this charitable work some time before.

Objection. But how cometh he here to put doing before willing (for so it is in the Greek, not only to do, but also yelein, to will)? Some tell us these hysterologies, or putting things after which should in order be before, are usual in holy writ; but possibly it is better answered by others, that yelein here doth not signify the mere inclination of the will, but a forwardness, (thus our translators understood it, and therefore translate it to be forward), or a spontaneous willingness, without arguments used by others to persuade them to it. So as the sense is this: You not only began to do the thing a year ago, but you did it of your own accord, without our exhortations and arguments, of your own free mind and will; so as if you should now be behind hand, it would be a reproach to you. This sense is favoured by the next verse, what he here calls a willing, he there calls a readiness to will.

And herein I give my advice,.... As Daniel did to Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 4:27. The apostle did not choose to make use of his apostolical authority, or give orders, as he sometimes did in such cases; he did not think fit to speak by way of commandment, obliging them to what they ought to do willingly; looking upon this the most prudential step, and wisest method he could take in order to succeed, only to give his judgment in this matter, as what would be best for them, and most conducive to their real good:

for this is expedient for you; most versions read it, "profitable"; doing acts of beneficence is profitable to persons, as to things temporal, God usually blessing such with a greater affluence of the things of life, and which indeed is often promised; and is also profitable with respect to things spiritual, for if God does not make it up to them in temporal enjoyments, yet with his presence, the discoveries of his love, the joys of his salvation, and an increase of every grace; so Gaius, that hospitable man to the apostle, and all Christian strangers, was in much spiritual health, and a prosperous condition in his soul, when but in an ill state with respect to his body: yea, such a conduct is profitable in relation to things eternal; for as it springs from the grace of God, and men are assisted therein by it, and is exercised towards persons that have received it, it will be rewarded with a reward of grace; though it may be, the apostle here does not so much argue from the utility, as the decency of it in the Corinthians;

who, says he,

have began before, a year ago, not only to do, but also to be forward, or "willing": it is hard to say whether the apostle designs to commend or reprove them; and indeed, it seems as if there was a mixture of praise and dispraise in this passage; it was in their favour that they had begun before, even a year ago, and were willing and forward of themselves to this good work; yea, were the first that set it on foot, and so were an example to the Macedonian churches, and others; but then this was against them, that the other churches, which began later than they, had finished before them; whether this their charity was obstructed, as some have thought, through some affliction and persecution that befell them, which if it appeared would much excuse them; or rather it was neglected through lukewarmness and indolence; wherefore the apostle gives his sentiments, that to save their own credit, it was expedient for them to finish what they had begun; for otherwise, as their boasting of them would be in vain, so they would expose themselves to contempt and incur disgrace; and it was not only proper that they should do this, but do it willingly, and with much cheerfulness, for that is meant by being "forward" or "willing"; that they not only do it, but do it with a good will, which they at first discovered.

{5} And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to {g} be forward a year ago.

(5) He takes good heed that he seem not to wrest it out of them by force, for unless it is voluntary, God does not accept it.

(g) Not only to do, but also to do willingly: for he notes out of a ready willingness, without any enforcement by any other men. And much less did it come out of ambition and vain glory.

2 Corinthians 8:10 After the parenthesis in 2 Corinthians 8:9, a continuation of the ἀλλὰδοκιμάζων, 2 Corinthians 8:8 : and an opinion I give in this affair. Γνώμην, opinion, has the emphasis, as contrasting with ἐπιταγήν in 2 Corinthians 8:8. Comp. on 1 Corinthians 7:25.

τοῦτο γὰρ ὑμῖν συμφέρει] συμφέρει does not mean decet (Vorstius, Emmerling, who appeals to LXX. Proverbs 19:10, where, however, the translation is inaccurate), but: it profits. And τοῦτο is not, with most, including Rückert, de Wette, Ewald, Neander, to be referred to the supplying of charitable gifts, in which case συμφέρει is either left without more precise definition (Rückert: “like every good deed, bringing advantage”), or is interpreted as pointing to the advantage of good repute (Grotius, comp. also Hofmann), of the divine recompense (Calovius) and the moral advantage (Flatt), or as useful for salvation (Bisping), and so on. Τοῦτο γὰρ ὑμ. συμφ. contains, in fact, the ground why Paul proceeds in this matter merely by way of advising; hence, with Billroth, Osiander, and Kling, τοῦτο is to be referred to the previous γνώμηνδίδωμι. It is no objection to this, that in ἐν τούτῳ immediately before the pronoun referred to the distribution. For in the previous clause γνώμην δίδωμι contained the whole thought, and ἐν τούτῳ had no stress laid on it, not even needing to be inserted. Accordingly: for this—that I do not command you, but only give my opinion in the matter—is serviceable to you, is fitted to operate in the way of moral improvement on you, as being persons who have already shown yourselves to be such as need not command, but only counsel. The emphasis lies primarily on τοῦτο and next on ὑμῖν. According to Hofmann, who does not take 2 Corinthians 8:9 parenthetically, in καὶ γνώμην κ.τ.λ. there is meant to follow something new and further, so that both ἐν τούτῳ and subsequently τοῦτο point to the advice, which Paul intends to give (with the followingwhat follows), and this advice is expressed in the imperative clause 2 Corinthians 8:11, to which οἵτινες κ.τ.λ. belongs as a protasis. Against this confusion it may be decisively urged, first, that the ἐν τούτῳ emphatically pointing forward must have been placed first; secondly, that after δίδωμι there would come not at all the announced γνώμη, but in the first instance an argumentative parenthetic clause, which would again begin with “what follows,”—a course which could only lead the reader astray; thirdly, that if τοῦτο γ. ὑμῖν συμφέρει does not go with οἵτινες κ.τ.λ., and find its more precise explanation therein, it would interpolate a thought altogether indefinite and isolated; fourthly, that δέ after νυνί in 2 Corinthians 8:11 most naturally introduces a new sentence; lastly, that 2 Corinthians 8:11 has not in the least the form of a γνώμη, of an expression of opinion, but a form purely praeceptive, as, indeed, that which the apostle has put under the considerate point of view of a testing and a γνώμη in contrast to an ἐπιταγή, was already contained in 2 Corinthians 8:7 and has nothing more to do with the direct precept of 2 Corinthians 8:11.

οἵτινες] ut qui, includes the specifying of the reason. See on Ephesians 3:13. οὐ μόνον τὸ ποιῆσαι, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ θέλειν] Grotius, following the Peshito and Arabic of Erpenius, assumes here a loquendi genus inversum; but this is an irrational violence,[274] to which also the view of Emmerling (comp. Castalio in the Adnot.) ultimately comes: “vos haud mora, uno momento facere et velle coepistis.” The explanation of others (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Gregory, Erasmus, Calvin, Beza, Cornelius a Lapide, Clericus, Heumann, Bauer, Log. Paul. p. 334; Zachariae, Storr, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Billroth, Schrader, Olshausen, Rückert, Osiander, Ewald, and several others) is at least rational: not only the doing, but also the being willing, i.e. the doing willingly. But that θέλειν is not used in the sense of ΘΈΛΟΝΤΑς ΠΟΙΕῖΝ (see regarding this use of ΘΈΛΩΝ, Markl. ad Lys. Reisk. p. 616), or even θέλειν ποιῆσαι (Bremi, ad Dem. hil. 2 Corinthians 1:13, p. 121), is plain from 2 Corinthians 8:11, where Paul, if that meaning had been in his mind, must have continued: νυνὶ δὲ καὶ ἐπιτελέσατε τὸ π. But, in the form in which he has written 2 Corinthians 8:11, the emphasis lies not on ἘΠΙΤΕΛΈΣΑΤΕ, but on ΤῸ ΠΟΙῆΣΑΙ, which is thereby shown to be something not contemporaneous with the ΘΈΛΕΙΝ, but following upon it, something which is still to happen after that ΘΈΛΕΙΝ is already present, so that we have an advance (1) from the ΠΟΙῆΣΑΙ to the ΘΈΛΕΙΝ in 2 Corinthians 8:10; and (2) from the ΘΈΛΕΙΝ to the further ΠΟΙῆΣΑΙ in 2 Corinthians 8:11. Moreover, in opposition to the former interpretation, we may urge the change of tenses in 2 Corinthians 8:10; for, if the ΘΈΛΕΙΝ in 2 Corinthians 8:10 were to be something inherent in the previous ΠΟΙῆΣΑΙ (willingness), the aorist infinitive must likewise have been used. Lastly, there is opposed to this interpretation the ὅπως καθάπερ κ.τ.λ. in 2 Corinthians 8:11, where evidently the (future) actual accomplishment is compared with the inclination of the (present) willing; hence, in 2 Corinthians 8:10 also ΘΈΛΕΙΝ must be conceived of as something which subsists for itself, and not simply as a willingly doing. Others conceive that τὸ ποιῆσαι denotes the collection-gathering which had already actually taken place, and τὸ θέλειν the continuing wish to do still more. This is in the main the view of Hunnius, Hammond, Wetstein,[275] Mosheim, Bengel, Michaelis, Fritzsche. The latter says (Dissert. II. p. 9): “hoc modo non solum τὸ θέλειν tanquam gravius τῷ ποιεῖν oppositum est (nam qui nova beneficia veteribus addere vult, plus illo agit, qui in eo quod praestitit, subsistit) sed etiam v. προενάρξασθαι utrique bene congruit, illi (τῷ ποιῆσαι), quoniam nondum tantum pecuniae erogaverant, quantum ad justam λογίαν sufficere videretur, huic (τῷ θέλειν) quoniam in hac nova, voluntate huc usque acquieverant.” In this way the change of tenses in ποιῆσαι and ΘΈΛΕΙΝ would be quite appropriate; both would apply (this in opposition to Billroth’s objection) to the same fact, to the work of collecting begun in pursuance of 1 Corinthians 16, which, however, would be viewed not according to two different sides (Billroth), objective (ποιῆσαι) and subjective (ΘΈΛΕΙΝ), but according to two different stages, in respect of the first activity and of the further willing, so that now also the third stage, the execution of this further willing, must be added to complete the whole matter, 2 Corinthians 8:11. But since there is no indication whatever of the reference of τὸ θέλειν to a further willing (following on the ποιῆσαι), and that a willing arrested as to its realization; and since, on the other hand, the ΠΡΟ in ΠΡΟΕΝΉΡΞ. permits for the climactic relation Οὐ ΜΌΝΟΝ ΤῸ ΠΟΙῆΣΑΙ, ἈΛΛᾺ ΚΑῚ ΤῸ ΘΈΛΕΙΝ only the temporal reference, that the θέλειν must have been earlier than the ποιῆσαι, and consequently Οὐ ΜΌΝΟΝἈΛΛᾺ ΚΑΊ is a climax of time pointing not forward, but backward: the view of Fritzsche is to be given up as not accordant with the context. There remains as the only correct view, that of Cajetanus and Estius, which de Wette (and after him Winer, p. 521 [E. T. 701 f.], also Wieseler, Chronol. d. apost. Zeitalt. p. 364) has defended, that προενήρξ. places the readers in comparison as to time with the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 8:1 ff.): not only the doing (the carrying out of the action of collecting), but also already the willing has begun earlier among you than among the Macedonians; you have anticipated them in both respects. With this view it is obvious that Paul could not but logically place ποιῆσαι before ΘΈΛΕΙΝ. The offence, which this arrangement would otherwise occasion, cannot be got over by the pregnant meaning, which Hofmann puts into the present θέλειν, viz. that it denotes the steady attitude of mind sustained up to the execution (comp. Billroth). This would, in fact, be a modal definition of the willing, which Paul would doubtless have known how to designate, but could not put into the bare present.[276] And such an attitude of mind would withal have already existed before the ποιῆσαι, and would not simply have come afterward.

ἈΠῸ ΠΈΡΥΣΙ] More precise definition of the ΠΡΟ in ΠΡΟΕΝΉΡΞ.: since the previous year. On πέρυσι, superiore anno, see Plato, Protag. p. 327 C; Gorg. p. 473 E; Aristoph. Vesp. 1044; Acharn. 348; Lucian, Tim. 59; Soloec. 7, al. Comp. ix. 2. Whether did Paul date the beginning of the year after the Greek (rather Attic and Olympic) reckoning (so Credner, Einl. I. 2, p. 372), i.e. about the time of the summer solstice, or after the Macedonian fashion (so, on account of 2 Corinthians 9:2, Wieseler, Chronol. d. apost. Zeitalt. p. 364), i.e. at the autumnal equinox, or from the month Nisan (Hofmann; see Grimm on 1Ma 10:21), or from the usual national standpoint of the Jewish reckoning, according to which the beginning of the civil year was the month Tisri (in Sept.)? The last is in itself the most natural, and also the most probable, considering the great variety as to the times of beginning the year, to which he would have had to accommodate himself in the various provinces, and considering not less the acquaintance with the Jewish calendar which he could take for granted in all his churches. Consequently there lies between the composition of our first and second Epistles the time from Easter till at least after the beginning of the new year in Tisri.

[274] This inversion is followed also by Luther, not in the translation, but in the gloss: “You have been the first, who willed it and also did it.”

[275] Who says: “ποιῆσαι est dare; θέλειν ποιῆσαι, i.e. ποιήσειν vel δώσειν, daturum esse.”

[276] The present denotes simply the being disposed as the habitus of readiness prevailing in the case, by way of distinction from the historical doing (ποιῆσαι), through which the θέλειν became active.

2 Corinthians 8:10. καὶ γνώμην κ.τ.λ.: and herein I give my opinion, for this (i.e., that he should offer them an opinion rather than give a command in this matter, cf. 2 Corinthians 9:2) is better, i.e., is morally profitable, for you, inasmuch as you (see Romans 1:25; Romans 1:32, etc., for οἵτινες = quippe qui) were the first to make a beginning last year, sc., they began to make the collection before the Macedonian Churches did (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1, chap. 2 Corinthians 9:2), not only to do but also to will, sc., they were beforehand not only in act, but in intention. ἀπὸ πέρυσι is for ἐκ f1πέρυσι or πρὸ πέρυσι of classical Greek; Deissmann (Neue Bibelstudien, p. 49) notes its occurrence in a papyrus of the second cent. B.C., of which the words run: ὅτι εἰσὶν ἐν τῷ κεραμεῖ ἀπὸ πέρυσι ιβ κ.τ.λ., i.e., “that twelve drachmae are in the pot from last year”. This parallel is important, as showing that ἀπὸ πέρυσι does not necessarily mean “a year ago”. It must be borne in mind that St. Paul is writing from Macedonia and probably in the month of November. Now the Macedonian year, like the Jewish, began with October, so that the phrase would be strictly justifiable, according to the chronological scheme adopted in the Introd. (p. 13).

10. And herein I give my advice] See 2 Corinthians 8:8.

for this] Either (1) ‘that I advise and not command,’ or (2) ‘this proof of your love.’

expedient] Rather, profitable. The word expedient in the A.V. is never, as in modern English, opposed to right. See note on 1 Corinthians 6:12. Wiclif and the Rhemish Version render here by profitable. See Luke 16:9 and 1 Timothy 6:18-19.

begun before] i.e. before the Macedonian Churches. See ch. 2 Corinthians 9:2.

but also to be forward] Literally, to will (margin, be willing). There is much difference of opinion among the commentators concerning the apparent inversion of the natural order in this sentence. But it would seem that the Apostle, as we might expect from such passages as ch. 2 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 3:6, Romans 7:6, &c., attaches more importance to the motive than to the action. They not only had begun to do the work, but they had resolved to do so upon a full persuasion that it was the right thing to do. Their conduct was due to no mere transitory impulse, but was the deliberate conviction of the heart. To this “readiness to will” (see next two verses) the Apostle appeals, and invites them to further action on the ground that the principle on which they acted was just as true now as it had been in the previous year. See note on ch. 2 Corinthians 9:7.

a year ago] Better, perhaps, last year (the former yeere. Wiclif; ab anno priore. Vulgate). St Paul probably speaks as a Jew. But it is uncertain whether he refers to the Jewish civil or ecclesiastical year, the former of which began with the month Tisri, answering to part of our September and October, the latter with the month Abib or Nisan. The former is more probable, for the Apostle must have been writing too near the commencement of the latter to give any force to his remark. See 1 Corinthians 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:8, and ch. 2 Corinthians 2:12-13.

2 Corinthians 8:10. Καὶ, and)—συμφέρει, is expedient) An argument from the useful, moving them to give: So, 2 Corinthians 8:16, ὑπὲρ. A most pleasant paradox.—τὸ ποιῆσαι, to do) for the past year.—τὸ θέλειν, [to be forward] to be willing) for this year.

Verse 10. - And herein I give my advice; and in this matter I offer an opinion (only). For this is expedient for you. It is more to your advantage that I should merely suggest and advise you about the matter than command you. Who have begun; rather, seeing that you formerly began. The verb is the same as in ver. 6. Not only to do, but also to be forward; rather, not only to do, but also to be willing. The "to do" is in the aorist, the "to be willing" in the present. We should naturally have expected a reversed order, "not only to be willing, but also to put in action." There must be a strong touch of irony in the words, unless we interpret it to mean "not only to make the collection, but to be willing to add yet more to it." Perhaps in the "to be willing" lies the notion of "the cheerful giver," "the willing mind "(ch. 9:7; 1 Timothy 6:17-19). A year ago; rather, since the previous year; i.e. last year (ch. 9:2). They had probably begun to collect in the previous Easter, and it was now soon after Tisri, or September, the beginning of the Jewish civil year. 2 Corinthians 8:10
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