2 Corinthians 8:3
For to their power, I bear record, yes, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) They were willing of themselves.—Literally, spontaneously. This was the point of excellence which he wished to indicate as an example to the Corinthians. Those of Macedonia needed no appeal or counsel such as he had given to the Corinthians and to others.

2 Corinthians 8:3-5. For to their power, &c. — According to their ability, yea, and beyond their ability; they were willing of themselves — Without our soliciting them. This, as Macknight justly observes, is no hyperbole, but an animated expression, strongly descriptive of the generosity of the Macedonians. They were willing to give more than they were well able, considering the distresses under which they themselves laboured. Praying us with much entreaty — Probably St. Paul had lovingly admonished them not to do beyond their power; that we would receive the gift — Which their bounty had prepared, and take a part in ministering it to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped — That is, beyond all we could have hoped; and first gave their own selves, and all they had, to the Lord — To his honour and service; and unto us — Resigned themselves to us; by the will of God — In obedience to his will, to be wholly directed by us; that is, to do what we should think most advisable in present circumstances.8:1-6 The grace of God must be owned as the root and fountain of all the good in us, or done by us, at any time. It is great grace and favour from God, if we are made useful to others, and forward to any good work. He commends the charity of the Macedonians. So far from needing that Paul should urge them, they prayed him to receive the gift. Whatever we use or lay out for God, it is only giving him what is his own. All we give for charitable uses, will not be accepted of God, nor turn to our advantage, unless we first give ourselves to the Lord. By ascribing all really good works to the grace of God, we not only give the glory to him whose due it is, but also show men where their strength is. Abundant spiritual joy enlarges men's hearts in the work and labour of love. How different this from the conduct of those who will not join in any good work, unless urged into it!For to their power - To the utmost of their ability.

I bear record - Paul had founded those churches and had spent much time with them. He was therefore well qualified to bear testimony in regard to their condition.

Yea, and beyond their power - Beyond what could have been expected; or beyond what it would have been thought possible in their condition. Doddridge remarks that this is a noble hyperbole, similar to that used by Demosthenes when he says, "I have performed all, even with an industry beyond my power." The sense is, they were willing to give more than they were well able. It shows the strong interest which they had in the subject, and the anxious desire which they had to relieve the needs of others.

Of themselves - (αὐθαίρεται authairetai). Acting from choice, self-moved, voluntarily, of their own accord. They did not wait to be urged and pressed to do it. They rejoiced in the opportunity of doing it. They came forward of their own accord and made the contribution. "God loveth a cheerful giver" 2 Corinthians 9:7; and from all the accounts which we have of these churches in Macedonia it is evident that they were greatly distinguished for their cheerful liberality.

3-5. they were willing—rather, supply from 2Co 8:5, the ellipsis thus, "According to their power … yea, and beyond their power, THEY GAVE."

of themselves—not only not being besought, but themselves beseeching us.

Two things the apostle commendeth in the charity of the churches of Macedonia:

1. The quantity of their gift, which, he saith, was to their power, yea, ( on his knowledge), beyond what they were able.

2. Their freedom in the action; so as they did not need the apostle’s exhortations and arguments, but did it of themselves freely and cheerfully. For to their power, I bear record,.... They gave according to their ability, to the utmost of it, which is the most that can be desired, or be given; for no man can give more than he has, nor is he required to do more than he is able:

yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; not that they did or could do beyond their power; but they were "willing" beyond their power; their hearts were larger than their purses; they would gladly have done more than they had ability to do; and to this the apostle bears testimony to give it credit, which otherwise might have been called in question: and it is to be observed, that these churches communicated in this cheerful manner and large way, considering their circumstances, to the utmost of their ability, "of themselves"; unasked, not having been put upon, pressed, and urged to such a service; for persons to give when they are asked, especially when they do it readily, at once, without demurring upon it, and with cheerfulness, is much; but to give unasked discovers a very generous and beneficent disposition: this is reckoned by the Jews as one of the excellencies in giving of alms (u),

"when a man gives into the hands of another , "before he asks"; and the next degree to this is, when he gives to him after he asks; and the next to this, who gives less than is proper, but with a cheerful countenance.''

(u) Maimon. Hileh. Mattanot Anayim, c. 10. sect. 11, 12, 13.

For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were {c} willing of themselves;

(c) Of their own accord they were generous.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 8:3-5. Ὅτι is not dependent on γνωρίζομεν (Hofmann), but gives the proof of what was just said: εἰς τὸν πλοῦτον τῆς ἁπλ. αὐτ.

The construction is plain; for there is no need to supply an ἦσαν, as many wish, after αὐθαίρετοι or after δεόμενοι, but, as Bengel aptly remarks: “ἔδωκανtotam periochae structuram sustinet.” Comp. Fritzsche, Dissert. II. p. 49; Billroth, Ewald, Osiander, Hofmann. There are, namely (and in accordance therewith the punctuation is to be fixed), four modal definitions attached to this ἔδωκαν: They gave (1) according to and beyond their means; (2) of their ovm impulse; (3) urgently entreating us for the χάρις and κοινωνία κ.τ.λ.; and (4) not as we hoped, but themselves, etc. This last modal definition is naturally and quite logically attached by καί (hence καὶ οὐ καθὼς ἠλπίσ.); and Rückert (comp. de Wette and Neander) is arbitrary in holding this καί to prove that Paul allowed the sentence he had begun to drop, and appended a new one, so that after ἠλπίσαμεν we should have to supply an ἐγένετο or ἐποίησαν.

μαρτυρῶ] I testify it, a parenthetic assurance. Comp. the Greek use of οἶμαι and the like (Bornem. ad Xen. Conv. p. 71, 179; Stallb. ad Plat. Gorg. p. 460 A).

παρὰ δύναμιν] i.e. more amply than was accordant with their resources. See Homer, Il. xiii. 787; Thucyd. i. 70. 2; Lucian. Nigr. 28, de Dom. 10. The same, in substantial meaning, is ὑπὲρ δύναμιν, 2 Corinthians 1:8; Dem. 292. 25. It forms, with κατὰ δύναμ., a climactic definition of ἔδωκαν, not of αὐθαίρ., to which it is not suitabl.

αὐθαίρετοι] excludes human persuasion or compulsion, not the divine influence (see 2 Corinthians 8:5, διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ); we must not, with Rückert, hold it, on account of the remark 2 Corinthians 9:2, to be an exaggeration, since the latter notice does not deny the self-determination of the Macedonians, but, when compared with our passage, exhibits as the real state of the case this, that Paul had boasted of the readiness of the Achaeans before the Macedonians, but without exhortation to the latter, and that these thereupon, of their own accord, without urging, had resolved on making a contribution, and had given very amply. Comp. Chrysostom on 2 Corinthians 9:2. αὐθαίρετος, free-willed, self-determined, only here and at 2 Corinthians 8:17 in the N. T., often in the classic writers; seldom of persons (Xen. Anab. v. 7. 29; Lucian. Catapl. 4). Comp. the adverb in 2Ma 6:19; 3Ma 6:6.

μετὰ πολλῆςεἰς τ. ἁγίους] to be taken together: with much exhortation entreating us for the kindness and the participation of the service being rendered for the saints, i.e. urgently entreating us that the kindness might be shown them of permitting them to take active part in the … work of collections. Οὐχ ἡμεῖς αὐτῶν ἐδεήθημεν, ἀλλʼ αὐτοὶ ἡμῶν, Chrysostom; and in the κοινωνία sought they saw a kindness to be shown to themselves: they knew how to value the work of love thus highly. The χάρις, namely, here is not grace from God (Hofmann and the older commentators), since it was requested from the apostle, but τὴν χάριν κ. τ. κοινων. is a true ἓν διὰ δυοῖν (the favour, and indeed the partaking, i.e. the favour of partaking). See Fritzsche, ad Matth. p. 854, and generally, Nägelsbach on Il. iii. 100, p. 461, ed. 3. Bengel, who likewise rejects the δέξασθαι ἡμᾶς of the Recepta, connects τὴν χάριν κ. τὴν κοινωνίαν κ.τ.λ. with ἔδωκαν; but what a prolix designation of the withal quite self-evident object of ἔδωκαν would that be, while δεόμενοι ἡμῶν would remain quite open and void of definition! On δεῖσθαι, with accusative of the thing and genitive of the person, comp. Plato, Apol. p. 18 A, p. 41 E; Xen. Cyrop. i. 4. 12; Anab. vii. 3. 5; 3 Esd. 8:53. Yet in the classics the accusative of the object is the neuter of a pronoun, like τοῦτο ὑμῶν δέομαι; ὅπερ ὑμῶν δέομαι, and the like, or of an adjective (Krüger on Thuc. i. 32. 1).

τῆς εἰς τοὺς ἁγίους] In this addition (comp. 1 Corinthians 16:1), which would in itself be superfluous, there lies a motive of the δεόμενοι.

καὶ οὐ καθὼς ἠλπίσαμεν] for but a little could be expected from the oppressed and poor Macedonians! Οὐ περὶ τῆς γνώμης λέγει, ἀ̓λλὰ περὶ τοῦ πλήθους τῶν χρημάτων, Theodoret. According to Hofmann, the words are meant only to affirm that the Macedonians had joined in the contribution quite of their own resolution, which had not been expected by the apostle. But in this case the remark, which on this interpretation would be no independent element, but only the negative expression of what was already said in αὐθαίρετοι, would have had its logical position immediately behind αὐθαίρετοι; and it must have run not as it is written by Paul, but: καθὲς οὐκ ἠλπίσαμεν. No, the apostle says: and their giving did not remain within the limits of the hope which we had formed regarding them, but far surpassed these (ἀλλʼ ἑαυτοὺς κ.τ.λ.).

ἀλλʼ ἑαυτοὺς κ.τ.λ.] but themselves they gave, etc. An expression of the highest Christian readiness of sacrifice and liberality, which, by giving up all individual interests, is not only a contribution of money, but a self-surrender, in the first instance, to the Lord, since in fact Christ is thereby served, and also to him who conducts the work of collection, since he is to the giver the organ of Christ. Flatt and Billroth, following Mosheim and Heumann, are wrong in making πρῶτον before in the sense: before I asked them. This reference is not in the least implied in the immediate context (οὐ καθὼς ἠλπίσ.); and if it were, πρῶτον must have had the first place:[269] ἀλλὰ πρῶτον ἑαυτοὺς ἔδωκαν κ.τ.λ. As the words stand, ἑαυτούς has the emphasis of the contrast with οὐ καθὼς ἠλπίσ. Bengel also (comp. Schrader) is wrong in thinking that in πρῶτον there is implied prae munere: the Macedonians, before they made collection, had first given themselves to the Lord, and then left it to the apostle to determine how large their contribution should be. In that case there must have been inserted καὶ τὰ χρήματα ἡμῖν, or something similar, as a correlative to ἑαυτοὺς πρῶτον τῷ κυρίῳ. It is wrong to find in ἑαυτούς the idea merely of voluntarily.[270] without any summons, because it is object of the having given. It must have run: αὐτοὶ ἑαυτοὺς κ.τ.λ. (comp. 2 Corinthians 1:9), or without stress on the self-object, ἈΦʼ ἙΑΥΤῶΝ.

ΚΑῚ ἩΜῖΝ
] Paul does not say ἜΠΕΙΤΑ ἩΜῖΝ (in opposition to the usual opinion that καί stands for ἜΠΕΙΤΑ; so also Rückert), because the surrender to the Lord is not a prius in time, but in degree: to the Lord before all, and to us. So Romans 1:16; Romans 2:9-10.

διὰ θελήμ. θεοῦ] not exactly an expression of modesty (Billroth),—for it is only arbitrary to limit it merely to καὶ ἡμῖν (so also Bengel, Ewald),—but added quite according to the requirement of religious feeling: for God has, according to His will, so wrought on their dispositions, that they, etc. Comp. 2 Corinthians 8:1; 2 Corinthians 8:16.

[269] This also in opposition to Hofmann, who, in consistency with his inappropriate interpretation of κ. οὐ καθ. ἠλπίσ., takes πρῶτον: without such a thought (such a hope) having occurred to me. Besides, πρῶτον would not mean “without,” but “before that,” etc.

[270] So Hofmann; whence there would result even a threefold expression of the voluntary act, namely: (1) in αὐθαίρετοι; (2) in κ. οὐ καθ. ἠλπίσ., and (3) in ἑαυτούς.2 Corinthians 8:3-4. αὐθαίρετοι μετὰ πολλ. παρακ. κ.τ.λ.: of their own accord begging of us with much entreaty (the constr. is clumsy but perhaps unbroken; we should expect ἔδωκαν after αὐθαίρετοι, but the verb is found in 2 Corinthians 8:5) the favour, sc., of giving (cf., for this sense of χάρις, Acts 24:27; Acts 25:3, Sir 30:6), and the participation in the ministering to the saints, sc., the poor Christians in Judæa. The Macedonian Christians did not wait to be asked to give; they asked to be allowed the privilege of giving (cf. Acts 20:35). διακονία is the regular word for such charitable service (cf. Acts 6:1; Acts 11:29, Romans 15:25; Romans 15:31, chap. 2 Corinthians 9:1; 2 Corinthians 9:12, etc.), a primary duty of the διάκονοι being the administration of alms.3. willing of themselves] Willynge of their owne accorde, Tyndale. Literally, of their own choice, not excluding, however, as Meyer well remarks, Divine, but only human, influence in the matter. Cf. 2 Corinthians 8:17.2 Corinthians 8:3. Ὅτι, because) Anaphora with epitasis.[44]—ΜΑΡΤΥΡῶ, I bear witness) This expression has respect to the words, κατὰ, according to, and παρὰ, beyond.—αὐθαίρετοι) of their own accord; not only not being besought, but they themselves beseeching us. See the following verse.

[44] See App. The same ὅτι, already used 2 Corinthians 8:2, is again by Anaphora used here, to mark the beginnings of sections or sentences. The κατὰ δύναμιν makes an emphatic addition or epitasis.—ED.Verse 3. - They were willing of themselves. "Of their own accord," as in ver. 17. The verb in the original is energetically omitted, with the "they gave" of ver. 5. St. Paul does not mean that the notion of making the collection originated with them (2 Corinthians 9:2), but only that they displayed a voluntary energy in carrying it out. They were willing (αὐθαίρετοι)

The adjective stands alone. Only here and 2 Corinthians 8:17. Lit., self-chosen, and so Rev., of their own accord.

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