2 Corinthians 8:14
But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:
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(14) But by an equality.—The meaning of the word is obvious. The Church of Jerusalem was at this time suffering from poverty, and, therefore, St. Paul exhorts the Corinthians to come to its assistance. A time might come in which their relative position would be inverted, and then he would plead not less earnestly that Jerusalem should assist Corinth. It is reading too much between the lines to see in the words the thought which the Apostle expresses elsewhere (Romans 15:27), that the equality of which he speaks consisted in the Corinthians giving money and receiving spiritual privileges. But for the fact that controversial ingenuity is “capable of anything,” it might have been thought impossible to see in them the doctrine that men are to give to the poor in order that, in their time of need, in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment, they might receive from them a transfer of their superfluous merits. And yet this has actually been done by Roman Catholic commentators—even by such as Estius.

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.But by an equality - On just and equal principles. "That now at this time," etc. That at the present time your abundance may be a supply for their needs, so that at some future time, if there should be occasion for it, their abundance may be a supply for your needs. The idea is this. Corinth was then able to give liberally, but many of the other churches were not. They were poor, and perhaps persecuted and in affliction. But there might be great reverses in their condition. Corinth might be reduced from its affluence, and might itself from its affluence, and might itself become dependent on the aid of others, or might be unable to contribute any considerable amount for the purposes of charity. The members of the church in Corinth, therefore, should so act in their circumstances of prosperity, that others would be disposed to aid them should their condition ever be such as to demand it. And the doctrine here taught is:

(1) That the support of the objects of benevolence should be on equal principles. The rich should bear an equal and fair proportion, and if more frequent demands are made on their benefaction than on others they should not complain.

(2) Christians should contribute liberally while they have the means. In the vicissitudes of life no one can tell how soon he may be unable to contribute, or may even be dependent on the charity of others himself. A change in the commercial world; losses by fire or at sea; lack of success in business; loss of health, and the failure of his plans, may soon render him unable to aid the cause of benevolence. While he is prospered he should embrace every opportunity to do good to all. Some of the most painful regrets which people ever have, arise from the reflection that when prospered they were indisposed to give to benefit others, and when their property is swept away they become unable. God often sweeps away the property which they were indisposed to contribute to aid others, and leaves them to penury and want. Too late they regret that they were not the liberal patrons of the objects of benevolence when they were able to be.

That there may be equality - That all may be just and equal. That no unjust burden should be borne by anyone portion of the great family of the redeemed. Every Christian brother should bear his due proportion.

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.

But by an equality; but only to bring you and them to some equality, that they might not starve while you have plenty, and what you may well enough spare.

That now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want; I do not urge you to make your necessaries a supply for others’ wants; I would only have a supply for their wants out of your abundance.

That their abundance also may be a supply for your want: some by their abundance understand their aboundings in the good things of this life: they are now in distress by reason of the great famine that is in Judea, or by reason of the great storm of persecution that is there raised against Christians; yet God may turn the scales, he may send a famine in those parts where you live, and there may be plenty in Judea; then their abundance may supply your wants. Others interpret their abundance of the aboundings of their grace, which may quicken them up to pray for you, for the supply of such grace to you as you stand in need of.

That so there may be an equality, they being instruments of spiritual blessings to you, as you are instruments of temporal blessings and good things to them.

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.

But by an {h} equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:

(h) That as now in your abundance you help others with a share of your goods, so should others in the same way bestow some of their goods upon you.

2 Corinthians 8:14 f. In order that (divine purpose), if the circumstances change, the converse case may also set in, and the superfluity of those be imparted to your lack. On account of 2 Corinthians 8:13 we must, in accordance with the context, think also here of something earthly, not (as Jerome, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Anselm, the Catholics,[278] Bengel, Michaelis, Schrader wish) of spiritual blessings—which would be unhistorical, and quite opposed to the standpoint of the apostle to the Gentiles. According to Paul, the participation of the Gentiles in the spiritual blessings of the Jewish Christians had already taken place through the conversion of the former, Romans 15:27.

ὅπως γένηται ἰσότης] in order that (according to the divine purpose) equality might set in, since, namely, then they will not have too much and you too little, if their superfluity shall come to the help of your lack. According to Hofmann, ἰσότης amounts here to the idea of the inversion of the relation, which, however, does not agree with 2 Corinthians 8:15, and has against it the clear reference of the meaning of ἐξ ἰσότ. in 2 Corinthians 8:13. The idea of brotherly equalization, which Paul had expressed by ἐξ ἰσότ. as regulative for the present case in 2 Corinthians 8:13, he repeats also for the eventual future case in 2 Corinthians 8:14 : it is to him of so much importance. And so important was it to the primitive church generally, that it even produced at first in Jerusalem the community of good.

ΚΑΘῺς ΓΈΓΡΑΠΤΑΙ] A confirmation from Scripture of this idea, which is to realize itself in the two cases, 2 Corinthians 8:13 and 2 Corinthians 8:14. It is already typically presented in the gathering of the manna, Exodus 16:18 (freely quoted after the LXX.). The quotation refers therefore not simply to 2 Corinthians 8:14, but to 2 Corinthians 8:13-14, since in both there prevails the same fundamental though.

Ὁ ΤῸ ΠΟΛΎ] he who much, namely, had gathered, as in Ex. l.c., we must supply from the context (2 Corinthians 8:17). Paul presupposes that his readers are aware of the reference and of the connection of the passag.

οὐκ ἐπλεόνασε] had not too much, not more than was appointed by God for his needs; τὸ γὰρ μέτρον ὁ μεγαλόδωρος τῷ δώρῳ συνέζευξε, Theodoret. See Exodus 16:16 f. In the same way: ΟὐΚ ἨΛΑΤΤΌΝΗΣΕ, he had not too little. The word, frequent in the LXX., is foreign to Greek writers.

The articles denote the two definite and well-known cases which occurred in the gathering.

[278] These misused the passage against Protestants in this way: “Locus hic apostoli contra nostrae aetatis haereticos ostendit, posse Christianos minus sanctos meritis sanctorum adjuvari etiam in futuro saeculo,” Estius. See, on the contrary, Calovius. Bisping also thinks of prayers, merits of good works, and the like, which love may give for temporal gifts received.

14. but by an equality] Cf. 1 Corinthians 12 and Acts 2:41-47; Acts 4:32-37. Dean Stanley remarks on the similarity between this passage and several in the 5th book of Aristotle’s Ethics, and no doubt St Paul here uses the word in Aristotle’s sense of fairness, reciprocal advantage. Many of the English translators connect these words with those that succeed, but by an equality at the present time.

your abundance] i.e. as we should now say, superabundance. See note on ch. 2 Corinthians 7:4, where the word in the Greek is derived from the same root. The English word abundance is derived from the Latin unda, a wave, and signifies originally an overflowing quantity.

that their abundance also may be a supply for your want] Literally, might be. There are two interpretations of this passage. The first, which is supported by the ancient interpreters, refers it to the spiritual return made by the Jews in the fact that it was men of their nation who preached the Gospel to the heathen. Cf. ch. 2 Corinthians 9:14. The second, which has found favour with the moderns, is that the allusion is to earthly gifts. The chief difficulty which besets the latter interpretation is the impossibility of conceiving of what those earthly gifts could consist, unless, with De Wette, we regard it as referring to a communication of earthly goods “at another time, and under other possible circumstances.” But Estius refers to Luke 14:12-14, as decisive against any reference to temporal recompense.

2 Corinthians 8:14. Καὶ τὸπερίσσευμα, that also their abundance) in spiritual things.[47]—γένηται εἰς) We have the same expression at Galatians 3:14.—τὸ ὑμῶν ὑστέρημα, your [spiritual] want) inasmuch as ye were Gentiles. Their [spiritual] abundance had already begun to supply the want of the Corinthians; he is therefore speaking of continuation, increase, and reward [in spiritual things]. Nor yet would I venture to deny, that the corporeal abundance also of the Jews would sometimes supply the corporeal want of the Gentiles; for the limitation is omitted, 2 Corinthians 8:13, note. Although [the view that the reference is to] the spiritual abundance of Israel is supported by the parallel passage, Romans 15:27.—ἰσότης, equality) in spiritual things.

[47] As Jews. Eng. Ver. evidently takes it of temporal abundance, i.e., that if hereafter ye be in want, their abundance may supply you, as you now supply them. But Beng. takes both “your abundance” (temporal) and theirs (spiritual) of the present time.—ED.

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. 2 Corinthians 8:14By an equality (ἐξ ἰσότητος)

Ἑξ as in 2 Corinthians 8:11, according to. I speak on the principle that your abundance should go to equalize the difference created by their want.

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