2 Corinthians 8:5
And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us by the will of God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Not as we hoped . . .—This means, of course, that they had done what was far beyond his hopes; and here the point lies in the fact that they gave, not their money only, but themselves, their time, thought, energy, primarily to Christ as their Lord, and then to the Apostle as His minister. And this they had done because they allowed the will of God to work upon their will.

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!And this they did ... - They did not give what we expected only. We knew their poverty, and we expected only a small sum from them.

Not as we hoped - Not according to the utmost of our hopes. We were greatly disappointed in the amount which they gave, and in the manner in which it was done.

But first gave their ownselves to the Lord - They first made an entire consecration of themselves and all that they had to the Lord. They kept nothing back. They felt that all they had was his. And where a people honestly and truly devote themselves to God, they will find no difficulty in having the means to contribute to the cause of charity.

And unto us by the will of God - That is, they gave themselves to us to be directed in regard to the contribution to be made. They complied with our wishes and followed our directions. The phrase "by the will of God," means evidently that God moved them to this, or that it was to be traced to his direction and providence. It is one of the instances in which Paul traces everything that is right and good to the agency and direction of God.

5. And this they did, not as we hoped—Translate, "And not as we hoped (that is, far beyond our hopes), but their own selves gave they first to the Lord." "First," not indicating priority of time, but first of all, above all in importance. The giving of themselves takes precedency of their other gifts, as being the motive which led them to the latter (Ro 15:16).

by the will of God—not "according to the will of God," but "moved by the will of God, who made them willing" (Php 2:13). It is therefore called (2Co 8:1), "the grace of God."

We might have hoped for something from them, though they were in that poor afflicted condition; but what they brought was much beyond what we could hope for, or expect from them. Or else this phrase may refer to what followeth: they did not only bring us their gift, but they also gave up themselves to us, to be disposed of for the good of the church, according to the will of God; for they first gave themselves up to the Lord, devoting themselves to his service and glory, and then to us, the will of God so ruling and directing them. And this they did not as we hoped,.... All this was unexpected by the apostles, who knew their great affliction and deep poverty, and therefore could not have hoped for such a collection from them; or that they would have desired the apostle to have ministered it for them:

but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God; the sense of which is not barely, or only, that they committed themselves to the care of Providence in all their afflictions and poverty, trusting in God that he would provide for them for time to come, and therefore even in their strait circumstances gave liberally; and were so much under the direction of the apostles, God so disposing their minds, that they were willing to do or give anything that they should say was proper; yea, were very willing that some of their number should leave their habitations and families to accompany them, in forwarding this good work elsewhere: but the apostle seems to have respect to what these persons did at first conversion, when they gave themselves to Christ, to be saved by him, and him alone; and to serve him to the uttermost, in everything, he should signify to be his will; and when they joined themselves to the churches of Christ, and put themselves under the care, government, and direction of the apostles, who were over the churches in the Lord: and therefore though what the members of these churches collected, was very wonderful and beyond expectation; yet when it is considered that these persons had long ago given their whole selves, their all to Christ, had committed all into his hands, and devoted themselves entirely to his service; and had declared their subjection to his ministers as servants under him, and to his word and ordinances as ministered by them; it need not be so much wondered at, that they should be so liberal in giving away their worldly substance for the relief of Christ's poor members, when they had given their precious souls, their immortal all, and had committed the salvation of them entirely to him. Giving themselves to Christ, in this sense, supposes that they had a true sight and apprehension of their state and condition by nature, how sinful they were, and lost and undone in themselves; that they were destitute of a righteousness, and unable to obtain one by the works of the law; that they were in hopeless and helpless circumstances, as considered in themselves; that they were diseased from head to foot, and could not cure themselves; that they were dead in law, and liable to the curse and condemnation of it; for till men see themselves in such a case they will never give themselves to Christ, or betake themselves to him to be saved by him. Moreover, this supposes some knowledge of him as God's ordinance for salvation, as the Saviour of the Father's appointing and sending; of him, as having effected it by his obedience and death; of his being the only Saviour, a suitable one, both able and willing to save to the uttermost, even the chief of sinners that come to God by him. It is expressive of faith in Christ; of seeing the Son and the fulness of grace and salvation in him, and of going to him for it; of staying, resting, leaning, and relying upon him, venturing on him, committing all into his hands, and trusting him with all and for all. It denotes subjection to him, as their husband, to whom they give themselves as his spouse and bride, and consent to be the Lord's in a conjugal relation; and submission to him in all his offices, as a prophet to be taught and instructed by him, as a priest to be washed in his blood, and justified by his righteousness, to which they heartily submit, and as their Lord and King to the sceptre of his kingdom, the laws of his house, and ordinances of his Gospel; for they are made a willing people, not only to be saved by him, but to serve him in body and soul, and with all they have; as it is but right they should, since he has given himself, his all, for them. Giving themselves up to the apostles, signifies not a surrender of themselves to them as lords over God's heritage, to be governed and ruled over in a tyrannical and arbitrary way; but a submitting of themselves to them, as Christ's servants set over them in the Lord, whilst they minister the word and administer the ordinances, according to the will of Christ; owning them as their fathers, or instructors, and guides, and as watchmen and overseers placed in and over the churches, for their spiritual welfare: all which is,

by the will of God: as that poor sensible sinners should give up themselves to Christ, to be saved by him, and serve him; and that they should join themselves to the churches, and be subject to the care, teachings, and government of his servants in his house.

{2} And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

(2) He amplifies the eagerness of the Macedonians in this, that they also desired Paul to stir up the Corinthians to accomplish the giving of alms by sending Titus to them again.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 8:5. καὶ οὐ καθὼς κ.τ.λ.: and not (merely) as we hoped, i.e., beyond what we expected or hoped, but first (not only in order of time, but in order of importance; as we say “first of all”) they gave themselves to the Lord. This is not merely the consecration of self (cf. Romans 12:1), which is the condition of all acceptable almsgiving, for this would not have been beyond the Apostle’s expectations, but the devotion of personal service in the work of spreading the Gospel, such as was given by Sopater of Berœa, Aristarchus and Secundus of Thessalonica (Acts 20:4), and Epaphroditus of Philippi (Php 2:25). Other Macedonian Christians who are named as helpers of St. Paul are Jason (Acts 17:5 f.) and Gaius Acts 19:29); possibly Demas also (Philm. 24, 2 Timothy 4:10) was of Thessalonica, and it has been argued that St. Luke was of Philippi (see Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller, p. 202).—καὶ ἡμῖν διὰ θελ. Θεοῦ: and to us (some of them were St. Paul’s companions in travel) by the will of God. Everywhere in St. Paul’s writings the impulse to faithful service is traced up to God’s grace.5. And this they did] The words this they did are not in the original. They were added by Tyndale in order to explain the meaning of the passage. The construction of the Greek is not clear, but the general sense is that by the readiness of their offers of service and by their devotion to God, the Macedonians had surpassed St Paul’s expectations.

first gave their own selves] First here may be a reference to the order of time, but it is better, with most commentators, to understand it of the order of importance; ‘above all.’ Alford. For a similar expression see the Greek of John 1:27; John 1:30.

and unto us] The sense requires ‘and then unto us,’ i.e. as God’s ministers and representatives. Cf. Acts 15:28.

by the will of God] See note on 2 Corinthians 8:3. It was God’s Will that they should have the power to act thus, if they were willing to carry out His Will. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; 1 Timothy 2:4.2 Corinthians 8:5. Ἔδωκαν, they gave) This word mamtains the whole structure of the paragraph in the following sense: Not only have they given grace and a proof of fellowship, or δόμα, that gift, but they have altogether given their own selves. So Chrysostom, Homil. 16. on 2 Cor.; comp. especially Homil. 17, where he repeats ὑπὲρ δύναμιν ἔδωκαν. The nominatives αὐθαίρετοι, δεόμενοι are connected with the same verb ἔδωκαν; and the accusatives χάριν, κοινωνίαν, ἑαυτοὺς, depend upon it, in an easy and agreeable sense. The transcribers have thrust in δέξασθαι ἡμᾶς after ἁγίους; and those who consider these words as Paul’s, give themselves great trouble, especially Beza. Different commentators have used different glosses, which are quite superfluous.—πρῶτον, first) their own selves, before [in preference and precedency to] their gift; comp. Romans 15:16.—τῷ Κυρίῳ, to the Lord) Christ.—καὶ ἡμῖν διὰ θελήματος Θεοῦ, and to us by the will of God) It is therefore called the grace of God, 2 Corinthians 8:1. The Macedonians did not of themselves previously determine the amount of the gift, but left that to the disposal of the apostle.Verse 5. - Not as we hoped; rather, not as we expected. They were so poor that it was impossible to expect much from them, but they surpassed my expectations in every way. The Church of Philippi, perhaps under the influence of Lydia, was remarkable for generosity, and was the only Church from which St. Paul would accept any personal help (Philippians 2:25; Philippians 4:15-18). First. "They gave themselves to the Lord, which is the best of all, and they gave themselves as helpers to us also - by the will of God." (For a similar use of "and" to imply a matter of less importance, see Acts 15:28.) The phrase, "by the will of God," implies thanksgiving to God for the grace which enabled them to give themselves to him, and their goods to his saints. Being "a peculiar people," they naturally showed themselves "zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). First (Romans 1:16; Romans 2:9, 10). As we hoped (καθὼς ἠλπίσαμεν)

Better, expected. They took part in this contribution in a manner beyond our expectation. Supply, as A.V., this they did, or, Rev., and this.

Their own selves

Their liberality began in self-surrender to God and to the apostles as His agents: to us by the will of God.

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