2 Corinthians 8:24
Why show you to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) Wherefore shew ye to them.—In adding “before the churches” (literally, in the face of the churches), St. Paul appeals, as he has done throughout the chapter, to that natural love of praise which takes its place as a legitimate, though it may be, and ought to be, a subordinate, motive for the activity of Christian benevolence. They were not to consider only what he and Titus and the two brethren would think of them. The eyes of the churches were upon them. Probably Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berœa are referred to.

The proof of your love, and of our boasting.—The “love” to which he appeals is probably their personal regard for him. What the “boast was he states more fully in 2Corinthians 9:2. With a subtle knowledge of human nature, he attacks them, as it were, on every side. They have to compete with Macedonia; they have to show their love for their teacher; they have to sustain their own reputation.

8:16-24 The apostle commends the brethren sent to collect their charity, that it might be known who they were, and how safely they might be trusted. It is the duty of all Christians to act prudently; to hinder, as far as we can, all unjust suspicions. It is needful, in the first place, to act uprightly in the sight of God, but things honest in the sight of men should also be attended to. A clear character, as well as a pure conscience, is requisite for usefulness. They brought glory to Christ as instruments, and had obtained honour from Christ to be counted faithful, and employed in his service. The good opinion others have of us, should be an argument with us to do well.Wherefore show ye to them ... - By a liberal contribution in the cause in which they are engaged and for which they have come among you now, furnish the evidence that you love me and the Christian cause, and show that I have not boasted of you in vain.

The proof of your love - Your love to me, to God, to the cause of religion; see the note on 2 Corinthians 8:8.

And of our boasting ... - My boasting that you would give liberally to the object; see the note, 2 Corinthians 7:14. Let it now be seen that my boasting was well founded, and that I properly understood your character, and your readiness to contribute to the objects of Christian benevolence.

Remarks

1. Let us bear in mind that a disposition to be liberal proceeds only from God, 2 Corinthians 8:1. The human heart is by nature selfish, and indisposed to benevolence. It is only by the grace of God that people are excited to liberality; and we should therefore pray for this as well as for all other graces. We should beseech God to remove selfishness from our minds; to dispose us to feel as we should feel for the needs of others, and to incline us to give just what we ought to give to relieve them in trouble, and to promote their temporal and eternal welfare.

2. It is an inestimable blessing when God gives a spirit of liberality to the church, 2 Corinthians 8:1. It should be regarded as a proof of his special favor; and as an evidence of the prevalence of the principles of true religion.

3. People are often most liberal when in circumstances of distress, perplexity, and affliction, 2 Corinthians 8:2. Prosperity often freezes the heart, but adversity opens it. Success in life often closes the hand of benevolence, but adversity opens it. We are taught to feel for the sufferings of others by suffering ourselves; and in the school of adversity we learn invaluable lessons of benevolence which we should never acquire in prosperity. If you lack the tear of sympathy: if you want aid in a good cause, go to a man in affliction, and his heart is open. And hence, it is that God often suffers his people to pass through trials in order that they may possess the spirit of large and active benevolence.

4. If Christians desire to be generous, they must first devote themselves to God, 2 Corinthians 8:5. If this is not done they will have no heart to give, and they will not give. They will have a thousand excuses ready, and there will be no ground of appeal which we can make to them. True liberality is always based on the fact that we have given ourselves wholly to God.

5. When Christians have honestly devoted themselves to God, it will be easy to contribute liberally to the cause of benevolence, 2 Corinthians 8:5. They will find something to give; or if they have nothing now they will labor and deny themselves in order that they may have something to give. If every professed Christian on earth had honestly given himself to God, and should act in accordance with this, the channels of benevolence Would never be dry.

6. We should compare ourselves in the matter of benevolence with the churches here referred to, 2 Corinthians 8:3. They were poor; they were in deep affliction, and yet they contributed all in their power, and beyond their power. Do we do this? Do we give according to our ability? Do we deny ourselves of one comfort? withhold one gratification? curtail one expense which fashion demands, in order that we may have the means of doing good? O! if every Christian would give according to his ability to the sacred cause of charity, how soon would the means be ample to place the Bible in every family on the globe, to preach the gospel in every country, and to maintain all the institutions which the cause of humanity needs in this and in other lands.

7. The Christian character is incomplete unless there is a spirit of large and liberal beneficence, 2 Corinthians 8:7. This is indispensable to the proper symmetry of the Christian graces, and this should be cultivated in order to give beauty and completeness to the whole. Yet it cannot be denied that there are true Christians where this is lacking. There are those who give every other evidence of piety; who are people of prayer, and who evince humility, and who are submissive in trials, and whose conversation is that of Christians, who are yet sadly deficient in this virtue. Either by an original closeness of disposition, or by a defect of education, or by lack of information in regard to the objects of Christian benevolence, they are most stinted in their benefactions, and often excite the amazement of others that they give so little to the cause of benevolence. Such persons should be entreated to carry out their Christian character to completion. As they abound in other things, they should abound in this grace also. They are depriving themselves of much comfort, and are bringing much injury on the cause of the Redeemer while they refuse to sustain the great objects of Christian charity. No Christian character is symmetrical or complete unless it is crowned with the spirit of large and comprehensive benevolence toward every object that tends to promote the temporal and eternal welfare of man.

8. The sincerity of our love should be tested, and will be, by our readiness to deny ourselves to do good to others, 2 Corinthians 8:8. The love of the Lord Jesus was tested in that way; and there can be no true love to God or man where there is not a readiness to contribute of our means for the welfare of others. If we love the Redeemer. we shall devote all to his service; if we love our fellow-men we shall evince our "sincerity" by being willing to part with our earthly substance to alleviate their woes, enlighten their ignorance, and save their souls.

9. Let us imitate the example of the Lord Jesus, 2 Corinthians 8:9. He was rich, yet he became poor; and, o how poor! Let the rich learn to copy his example, and be willing to part with their abundant and superfluous wealth in order that they may relieve and benefit others. That man is most happy as well as most useful, who most resembles the Redeemer; that man will be most happy who stoops from the highest earthly elevation to the lowest condition that he may minister to the welfare of others.

10. Charity should be voluntary, 2 Corinthians 8:12. It should be the free and spontaneous offering of the heart; and the first promptings of the heart, before the pleadings of avarice come in, and the heart grows cold by the influence of returning covetousness, are likely to be the most correct.

continued...

24. The oldest manuscripts read "[continue] manifesting to them in the face of the churches the manifestation of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf." The chapter concludeth with an exhortation to their liberality, backed with a heap of arguments.

1. It would be an evidence of their love to God, to their afflicted brethren, and to the apostle.

2. It would be a proof of it to those messengers of the churches, and to the churches whose messengers they were.

3. It would evidence that the apostle had not, to Titus and others, boasted on their behalf in vain. Wherefore show ye to them, and before the churches,.... This is the conclusion of the apostle, upon summing up the characters of these messengers; and his exhortation is, that since they were persons of so much note and worth, as they ought to be received with great marks of respect and affection, so they would take care evidently to make it appear to them who were sent by the churches, and before the churches, or before them who represented the churches; or so as that it might be known by the churches from whence they came, when they returned with their report; or be evident to the churches in Judea, when their liberality should be brought to them:

the proof of your love; to Christ and his poor members, how hearty and sincere it was:

and of our boasting on your behalf; how willing and forward they were to this good work, and how liberal they would be.

Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the {o} churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.

(o) All the churches in whose presence you are in will be witnesses of this your godly behaviour, for these men are the messengers whom they have chosen by common consent, and sent to you.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 8:24. According to the Recepta, ἐνδείξασθε is here a direct exhortation, in conformity with the points adduced in 2 Corinthians 8:23 (οὖν), to furnish towards those three (εἰς αὐτούς) the demonstration (τὴν ἐνδ.) of their love, etc., which demonstration of love is shown to the churches that were represented by them (εἰς πρόσωπ.). Since, however, the Recepta is a gloss (see the critical remarks), and ἐνδεικνύμενοι is the correct reading, we have here an indirect exhortation, which puts the matter as a point of honour, and so touches the readers the more effectively, without directly making a demand on them. “When you accordingly show towards them the demonstration of your love and of what we have boasted regarding you, you do it in presence of the churches.” In this way εἰς αὐτούς and εἰς πρόσωπον τῶν ἐκκλ. emphatically correspond with each other, and after the participle ἐνδεικν. the second person of the present indicative of the same verb is to be supplied. Comp. Soph. O. C. 520; El. 1428 (1434): τὰ πρὶν εὖ θέμενοι τάδʼ ἑς πάλιν, sc. εὖ θῆσθε. See Schneidewin in loc., and, in general, Doederl. de brachyl. 1831, p. 10 f.; also Dissen, ad Dem. de Cor. 190, p. 359. We might also simply supply the imperative ἐστέ with ἐνδεικν. (see on Romans 12:9), so that also with this reading there would be a direct, stern summons. But with the former interpretation the contextually appropriate emphasis of εἰς πρόσωπον τῶν ἐκκλ. comes out more strongly and more independently.

On points of detail we may further observe—(1) The οὖν does not draw the inference simply from the second half of 2 Corinthians 8:23, but from both halves, since the exclusion of reference to Titus is not warranted by εἰς πρόσωπ. τ. ἐκκλ., which, in fact, suits all three together, and ἡμῶν καυχησέως κ.τ.λ. includes specially a glance at the apostle’s relation to Titus; comp. 2 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 7:14. (2) Πρόσωπον is here also not (see on 2 Corinthians 1:11) person, which would be against the usage of the N. T., and, besides, in the singular would be unsuitable here; but εἰς πρόσωπον means to the face, i.e. coram in the sense of the direction. The conception, namely, which Paul wishes to excite in the minds of his readers, is this, that in those three men they have to think of the churches themselves, whose instruments these men are in the matter of the collection, as present and as witnesses of the demonstrations of love that fall to the share of the representatives, and to measure their demeanour towards them accordingly. According to this view, every evidence of love, which is shown to these men, comes, when it takes place, before the eyes of the churches (ideally present in the case). The churches stand by and look on. (3) τῆς ἀγάπης ὑμ. is not the love to Paul (Grotius, Billroth, de Wette, Ewald, and others, following Chrysostom and Theophylact), but the Christian brotherly love, which thereupon has its definite object marked out by εἰς αὐτούς.

On τὴν ἔνδειξιν ἐνδείκνυσθαι, comp. Plat. Legg. 12, p. 966 B. The demonstration of the boasting: namely, how true it was. Comp. 2 Corinthians 7:14.2 Corinthians 8:24. τὴν οὖν ἔνδειξιν κ.τ.λ.: shew ye therefore (if we read ἐνδεικνύμενοι the exhortation is indirect, as at Romans 12:9-21) unto them in the face of the Churches the demonstration of your love, sc., to us (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:7), and of our glorying on your behalf, sc., my boasting of your readiness to give (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:4; 2 Corinthians 7:14, and 2 Corinthians 9:2-3).24. before the churches] To which they belong, and of which they are the representatives, 2 Corinthians 8:19; 2 Corinthians 8:23. The spirit shewn by the Corinthians would of necessity be reported by these delegates to the Churches which had commissioned them. For the expression, literally in the face of, cf. ch. 2 Corinthians 2:10, 2 Corinthians 4:6, 2 Corinthians 5:12 and notes.

our boasting on your behalf] See ch. 2 Corinthians 9:2.2 Corinthians 8:24. Ἔνδειξιν ἐνδείξασθε) This expression is the same idiom as χαίρειν χαράν.[53]—εἰς αὐτοὺς, εἰς πρόσωπον τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν, to them, in the face of the churches) The knowledge of the matter was sure to spread by means of the messengers [deputies] among the churches.

[53] An accus. of a cognate signification to the verb, Manifest a manifestation.—ED.Verse 24. - Of your love. Not only of your love "to me," but of your brotherly love in general. And of our boasting. Show to the Church that my boasting of you was justifiable.



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