2 Corinthians 8:12
For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man has, and not according to that he has not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) For if there be first a willing mind.—This grows “out of that which ye have” in the previous verse. He is expecting a sum large relatively, and not absolutely. The history of the widow’s mite, found in the Gospel of his friend St. Luke (Luke 21:1-4), was probably not unknown to him as belonging to “the words of the Lord Jesus” which he freely cites (Acts 20:35). He has, at all events, imbibed the spirit of its teaching from other like words.

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.For if there be first a willing mind - If there is a "readiness" (προθυμία prothumia), a disposition to give; if the heart is in it, then the offering will be acceptable to God, whether you be able to give much or little. A willing mind is the first consideration. No donation, however large, can be acceptable where that does not exist; none, however small, can be otherwise than acceptable where that is found. This had relation as used by Paul to the duty of almsgiving; but the principle is as applicable to everything in the way of duty. A willing mind is the first and main thing. it is that which God chiefly desires, and that without which everything else will be offensive, hypocritical, and vain; see the note, 2 Corinthians 9:7.

It is accepted - Doddridge, Rosenmuller, Macknight, and some others apply this to the person, and render it," he is accepted;" but the more usual, and the more natural interpretation is to apply it to the gift - it is accepted. God will approve of it, and will receive it favorably.

According to that a man hath ... - He is not required to give what he has not. His obligation is proportioned to his ability. His offering is acceptable to God according to the largeness and willingness of his heart, and not according to the narrowness of his fortune - Locke. If the means are small, if the individual is poor, and if the gift shall be, therefore, small in amount, yet it may be proof of a larger heart and of more true love to God and his cause than when a much more ample benefaction is made by one in better circumstances. This sentiment the Saviour expressly stated and defended in the case of the poor widow; Mark 12:42-44; Luke 21:1-4. She who had cast in her two mites into the treasury had put in more than all which the rich people had contributed, for they had given of their abundance, but she had cast in all that she had, even all her living. The great and obviously just and equal principle here stated, was originally applied by Paul to the duty of giving alms. But it is equally true and just as applied to all the duties which we owe to God. He demands:

(1) A willing mind, a heart disposed to yield obedience. He claims that our service should be voluntary and sincere, and that we should make an unreserved consecration of what we have.

(2) secondly, he demands only what we have power to render. He requires a service strictly according to our ability, and to be measured by that. He demands no more than our powers are suited to produce; no more than we are able to render. Our obligations in all cases are limited by our ability. This is obviously the rule of equity, and this is all that is anywhere demanded in the Bible, and this is everywhere demanded. Thus, our love to him is to be in proportion to our ability, and not to be graduated by the ability of angels or other beings. "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength;" Mark 12:30. Here the obligation is limited by the ability, and the love is to be commensurate with the ability. So of repentance, faith, and of obedience in any form. None but a tyrant ever demands more than can be rendered; and to demand more is the appropriate description of a tyrant, and cannot pertain to the ever-blessed God.

(3) thirdly, if there is any service rendered to God, according to the ability, it is accepted of him. It may not be as much or as valuable as may be rendered by beings of higher powers; it may not be as much as we would desire to render, but it is all that God demands, and is acceptable to him. The poor widow was not able to give as much as the rich man; but her offering was equally acceptable, and might be more valuable, for it would be accompanied with her prayers. The service which we can render to God may not be equal to that which the angels render; but it may be equally appropriate to our condition and our powers, and may be equally acceptable to God. God may be as well pleased with the sighings of penitence as the praises of angels; with the offerings of a broken and a contrite heart as with the loud hallelujahs of unfallen beings in heaven.

12. For—Following up the rule "out of that which ye have" (2Co 8:11), and no more.

a willing mind—rather, as Greek, "the readiness," namely, to will, referring to 2Co 8:11.

accepted—Greek "favorably accepted."

according to that a man hath—The oldest manuscripts omit "a man." Translate, "According to whatsoever it have"; the willing mind, or "readiness" to will, is personified [Alford]. Or better, as Bengel, "He is accepted according to whatsoever he have"; so 2Co 9:7, The Lord loveth a cheerful giver." Compare as to David, 1Ki 8:18. God accepts the will for the deed. He judges not according to what a man has the opportunity to do, but according to what he would do if he had the opportunity (compare Mr 14:8; and the widow's mite, Lu 21:3, 4).

He had before directed them to give out of that which they had, that is, in a proportion to what God had blessed them with; for he tells them that it is the willing mind which God accepteth, not the quantity of the gift. God doth not require of people things not in their power, yet bare velleities, or pretended willings, are not accepted; there must be an acting according to our power to justify the sincerity of our willing mind, and men vainly pretend to will that towards the performance of which they never move. Though God requireth not of us things that are not within our power, yet he requireth of us the putting forth of our power in doing what he hath commanded us, so far as we are able; which indeed can alone justify the willingness of our mind to be more than a mere pretence. A present impotency, if contracted by our own fault, will not excuse us from the performance of those acts as to which it doth extend, to which some are bound by the just laws of God or men; but it is very unreasonable to think it should excuse as to those acts to which it doth not extend, and as to which it cannot be pleaded. For if there be first a willing mind,.... If what is done springs from a truly noble, generous spirit, a spirit of bountifulness and liberality; and is given cheerfully and freely, and according to a man's ability; the quantity matters not, whether it be more or less:

it is accepted; both of God and man:

according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. The widow's mite was as acceptable, and more so, than all the rich men cast into the treasury; a cup of cold water given to a prophet, in the name of a prophet, is taken notice of by God, and shall have its reward. The present sent by the Philippians to the Apostle Paul, and which perhaps was not very large, was "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God", Philippians 4:18.

{6} For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.

(6) Against those who excused themselves because they are not rich, as though it were only the duty of rich men to help the poor.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 8:12. Confirmation of the ἐκ τοῦ ἔχειν by a general proposition. There is nothing to be supplied except the simple ἐστί after εὐπρόσδεκτος, so that ἡ προθυμία remains the subject (Vulg., Erasmus, and others, including Rückert, Osiander, Ewald). It is quite superfluous mentally to supply the non-genuine τις after ἔχῃ, and to refer εὐπρόσδ. to it (Billroth), all the more that Paul is fond of personifying abstractions (ἡ προθυμία). The correct translation is: For, if the inclination exists (presents itself as existing), it is well-pleasing in proportion to that which it has, not in proportion to that which it has not, i.e. God measures His good pleasure according to that which the πρόθυμος (who is ready to contribute) possesses, not according to that which he does not possess.[277] If, for example, the poor man who is ready to give little, because he has not much, were less pleasing to God than the rich man, who is willing to give much, God would then determine His good pleasure according to what the ΠΡΌΘΥΜΟς does not possess. Such an unjust standard God does not apply to good will! οὐ γὰρ τὴν ποσότητα, ἀλλὰ τῆς γνώμης ὁρᾶ τὴν ποιότητα, Theodoret. On ΠΡΌΚΕΙΤΑΙ in the sense specified, see Kypke, II. p. 259, and from Philo, Loesner, p. 312. Comp. ΠΑΡΆΚΕΙΤΑΙ, Romans 7:18. The interpretation prius adest, namely, tanquam boni operis fundamentum (Erasmus, Beza, Estius, and others), is not supported by linguistic usage, and there is no hint in the context of a reference to time. Flatt imports “unpleasing” into the negative half of the sentence; and Hofmann goes still further, since he finds in πρόκειται the realization of the good will, and attaches to this (not to εὐπρόσδ.) the ΚΑΘῸ ἘᾺΝ ἜΧῌ, while he thereupon adds the supplementary words Οὐ ΚΑΘῸ ΟὐΚ ἜΧΕΙ so as to form the sentence: “that is not the condition of the acceptableness of the good will, that it is present as realized according to the measure of what it has not.” In this way we should have mentally to add εἰ πρόκειται after Οὐ; and Paul would not only have made use of a fragmentary mode of expression as unintelligibly as possible, but would withal have posited an inconceivable case, namely, that the good will is realized according to the measure of non-possession, which is tantamount to saying that the good will gives what it has not. And the assumption that πρόκειται denotes already the realization of the προθυμία by the act, is the more erroneous, that the one before whom the προθυμία is laid is here God, as is shown by εὐπρόσδεκτος. God, however, looks on the heart, and the frame of mind itself lies open before Him.

Note further the difference between the conditioned καθὸ ἐὰν ἔχῃ, in proportion to what he, under the respective circumstances of each case (ἐάν = ἄν), may have, and the unconditioned καθὸ οὐκ ἔχει. Comp. Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 293 f.; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 143.

[277] An evangelical commentary on this sentence is the story of the widow’s mite, Mark 12:42 ff.; Luke 21:2 ff.2 Corinthians 8:12. εἰ γὰρ ἡ προθυμία κ.τ.λ.: for if the readiness is there it is acceptable according as a man has, not according as he has not: cf. 2 Corinthians 9:7, Mark 12:43, and Tob 4:8, “As thy substance is, give alms of it according to thine abundance; if thou have little, be not afraid to give alms according to that little”.12. For if there be first a willing mind] Literally, For if willingness (or readiness) is present. See Hebrews 6:18. The word translated willing mind here is rendered readiness in 2 Corinthians 8:11 and ready mind in 2 Corinthians 8:19.2 Corinthians 8:12. Πρόκειται, if there be obvious [if there be first]) So πονηρία πρόκειται ὑμῖν, evil is before you, Exodus 10:10.—εὐπρόσδεκτος, he is well-acccepted or very acceptable) to God, ch. 2 Corinthians 9:7, with his gift. [Not as Engl. V. “it is accepted;” 2 Corinthians 9:7 confirms this, “The Lord loveth a cheerful giver.”]—οὐ καθὸ οὐκ ἔχει, not according to what a man has not) For thus [were God’s favour regulated by the amount of the gift, not by the willingness of the giver] a more humble person would be less acceptable.Verse 12. - For if there be first a willing mind, etc. "For if the readiness is forth- coming, it is acceptable," etc. In other words, God considers not quantum, but ex quanto; not the magnitude of the gift, but the proportion which it bears to the means of the giver. If there be first a willing mind (εἰ ἡ προθυμία προκειται)

The error of the A.V. consists in regarding πρό in πρόκειται as indicating priority in time; be first; whereas it signifies position, before one; as "the hope, or the race, or the joy which is set before us." Hebrews 6:18; Hebrews 12:1, Hebrews 12:2; or "the example which is set forth," Jde 1:7. Hence Rev., correctly, if the readiness is there.

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