2 Corinthians 8:8
I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.
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(8) I speak not by commandment.—The English, and, indeed, the Greek also, is to some extent ambiguous, and leaves us uncertain whether he disclaims merely the tone of command or the sanction of a divine authority. The former seems the preferable meaning, but ultimately the one runs into the other. He gives no commands in this matter to others because he has received no commandment from the Lord Himself. (Comp. 1Corinthians 7:6; 1Corinthians 7:12; 1Corinthians 7:25.)

8:7-9 Faith is the root; and as without faith it is not possible to please God, Heb 11:6, so those who abound in faith, will abound in other graces and good works also; and this will work and show itself by love. Great talkers are not always the best doers; but these Corinthians were diligent to do, as well as to know and talk well. To all these good things the apostle desires them to add this grace also, to abound in charity to the poor. The best arguments for Christian duties, are drawn from the grace and love of Christ. Though he was rich, as being God, equal in power and glory with the Father, yet he not only became man for us, but became poor also. At length he emptied himself, as it were, to ransom their souls by his sacrifice on the cross. From what riches, blessed Lord, to what poverty didst thou descend for our sakes! and to what riches hast thou advanced us through thy poverty! It is our happiness to be wholly at thy disposal.I speak not by commandment - This does not mean that he had no express command of God in the case, but that he did not mean to command them; he did not speak authoritatively; he did not intend to prescribe what they should give. He used only moral motives, and urged the considerations which he had done to persuade rather than to command them to give; see 2 Corinthians 8:10. He was endeavoring to induce them to give liberally, not by abstract command and law, but by showing them what others had given who had much less ability and much fewer advantages than they had. People cannot be induced to give to objects of charity by command, or by a spirit of dictation and authority. The only successful, as well as the only lawful appeal, is to their hearts and consciences, and sober judgments. And if an apostle did not take upon himself the language of authority and command in matters of Christian benevolence, assuredly ministers and ecclesiastical bodies now have no right to use any such language.

But by occasion of the forwardness of others - I make use of the example of the churches of Macedonia as an argument to induce you to give liberally to the cause.

And to prove the sincerity of your love - The apostle does not specify here what "love" he refers to, whether love to God, to Christ, to himself, or to the church at large. It may be that he designedly used the word in a general sense, to denote love to any good object; and that he meant to say that liberality in assisting the poor and afflicted people of God would be the best evidence of the sincerity of their love to God, to the Redeemer, to him, and to the church. Religion is love; and that love is to be manifested by doing good to all people as we have opportunity. The most substantial evidence of that love is when we are willing to part with. our property, or with whatever is valuable to us, to confer happiness and salvation on others.

8. not by commandment—"not by way of commandment."

but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and &c.—rather, "But by (mention of) the forwardness of others (as an inducement to you), and to prove (literally, 'proving') the sincerity of your love." The Greek is "by means of," not "on account of the forwardness," &c. Bengel, Ellicott, and others translate, "By means of the forwardness of others, proving the sincerity of your love ALSO." The former is the simpler construction in the Greek.

I do not speak in an imperious way, as one that commandeth you; or rather, God hath no where given an express command as to the quantum of what you should give; but the forwardness of others makes me thus speak to you, as not being willing you should in good works come behind any churches; and that I might

prove the sincerity of your love, to God, to me, and to the poor afflicted saints that are in Judea. Though God hath not directed the particular sums we should give to those that are in need, yet he hath given us general rules; That we should give as God hath prospered us, 1 Corinthians 16:2; and so as there may be some equality, as the apostle speaketh, 2 Corinthians 8:14. So, as the sincerity of our love to God dependeth in some measure upon the proportion of what we give at his command, so doth also the sincerity of our love to those poor members of Christ that are in want; that there may be a moderate supply for their want, from our abundance.

I speak not by commandment,.... Either of God, who has not fixed the certain times when, or certain sums which persons are to give, and other circumstances, which are left to discretion; but in general has signified it as his will, that those in necessity are to be relieved by such who are in ability to do it: or as an apostle, he did not speak in an imperious manner, extorting from them a collection, or laying his apostolical injunctions upon them to make one; he did not go about to force or oblige them to it, for men in such cases must act willingly, and what they do, must do of their own accord with cheerfulness, and not through constraint or grudgingly:

but by occasion of the forwardness of others; or "through carefulness for others"; what moved the apostle to propose this matter to the Corinthians, and exhort them to it, were either the forwardness of the Macedonians, cheerfully contributing in the midst of their poverty, and their urgent solicitations that the same good work might go on elsewhere, or else the very great care and concern that he himself had for the poor saints at Jerusalem: it was not therefore to show his apostolical authority, that he sent Titus to them to finish this service; but he was stirred up hereunto, partly by the bounty and solicitations of others, and partly by bowels of compassion within himself, and concern in his own mind for the poor saints; and also, as he adds,

to prove the sincerity of your love; to God, to Christ, to his ministers, and to the saints, particularly the poor; that their love might appear to be true, genuine, hearty, and real to others, to all men as well as to them the apostles.

{3} I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the {e} forwardness of others, and to prove the {f} sincerity of your love.

(3) Thirdly, he warns them to live up to the expectation which Paul and his companions have conceived of them.

(e) At the request of the Macedonians.

(f) The naturalness of our love appears when we truly, and that frankly and freely, help our brethren even for Christ's sake.

2 Corinthians 8:8. Prudent and yet deeply stirring caveat in reference to what was said in 2 Corinthians 8:7. Not by way of command do I say it, but as, through the diligence of others, testing also the genuine nature of your love.

διά] “aliorum studio vobis commemorate,” Benge.

ἑτέρων] of members of extraneous churche.

τὸ γνήσιον] the genuineness. See Kühner, II. p. 122; Dissen, ad Pind. Nem. p. 452.

δοκιμάζειν] is here, too (comp. on 1 Corinthians 11:28), not probatum reddere (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Estius), but explorare; for by the result, which the setting forth of the Macedonian example would have on the Corinthians, it had to be shown whether, and how far, their brotherly love was genuine or not. The participle does not depend on 2 Corinthians 8:10 (Bengel), but on λέγω, which is to be supplied again after ἀλλά. λέγω with the participle: I say it, inasmuch as I thereby, etc. Comp. on 1 Corinthians 4:14.


8. I steak not by commandment] The Apostles “never spoke as dictators. Robertson. See ch. 2 Corinthians 1:24, and 2 Corinthians 8:10, as well as 1 Corinthians 7:6; 1 Corinthians 7:25; Philemon 1:8-9; Philemon 1:13-14, and 1 Peter 5:3.

by occasion of the forwardness of others] Because other are so fervent. Tyndale.

sincerity] Literally, genuineness. Cf. Php 4:3; 1 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4. The original meaning is of legitimate as opposed to illegitimate birth.

2 Corinthians 8:8. Διὰ, by) Having mentioned to you in 2 Corinthians 8:1, the diligence of others.—καὶ) also. This is more powerful than any commandment.—ἀγάπης, of love) nothing is more forward in zeal [referring to σπουδῆς] than love.—δοκιμάζων, proving) The participle depends on 2 Corinthians 8:10.

Verse 8. - Not by commandment. St. Paul felt an honourable sensibility which prevented him from straining his authority by urging the Corinthians to give of their substance. Among Gentiles such contributions towards the needs of others - the result of unselfish compassion - were all but unknown. The forwardness; i.e. the ready zeal. The sincerity; more literally, the genuineness. 2 Corinthians 8:8Sincerity (γνήσιον)

Used by Paul only. Contracted from γενήσιος legitimately born: hence genuine. Paul calls Timothy his lawful son in the faith (1 Timothy 1:2). The kindred adverb γνησίως sincerely (A.V. naturally), occurs once, Philippians 2:20. See note.

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