2 Corinthians 8:9
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
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(9) Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.—The meaning of the word “grace” appears slightly modified by the context. The theological sense of the word, so to speak, falls into the background, and that of an act of liberality becomes prominent.

That, though he was rich, . . . he became poor.—Better, that, being rich . . . The thought is the same as that expressed in Philippians 2:6-7, especially in the words which ought to be translated He emptied Himself. He was rich in the ineffable glory of the divine attributes, and these He renounced for a time in the mystery of the Incarnation, and took our nature in all its poverty. This is doubtless the chief thought expressed, but we can scarcely doubt that the words refer also to the outward aspect of our Lord’s life. He chose the lot of the poor, almost of the beggar (the Greek word “poor” is so translated, and rightly, in Luke 16:20-22), as Francis of Assisi and others have done in seeking to follow in His steps. And this He did that men might by that spectacle of a life of self-surrender be sharers with Him in the eternal wealth of the Spirit, and find their treasure not in earth but heaven. As regards the outward mendicant aspect of our Lord’s life, and that of His disciples, see Notes on Matthew 10:10; Luke 8:1-3; John 12:6.

2 Corinthians


2 Corinthians 8:9The Apostle has been speaking about a matter which, to us, seems very small, but to him was very great viz., a gathering of pecuniary help from the Gentile churches for the poor church in Jerusalem. Large issues, in his estimation, attended that exhibition of Christian unity, and, be it great or small, he applies the highest of all motives to this matter. ‘For ye know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich yet for your sakes He became poor.’ The trivial things of life are to be guided and shaped by reference to the highest of all things, the example of Jesus Christ; and that in the whole depth of His humiliation, and even in regard to His cross and passion. We have here set forth, as the pattern to which the Christian life is to be conformed, the deepest conception of what our Lord’s career on earth was.

The whole Christian Church is about to celebrate the nativity of our Lord at this time. This text gives us the true point of view from which to regard it. We have here the work of Christ in its deepest motive, ‘The grace of our Lord Jesus.’ We have it in its transcendent self-impoverishment, ‘Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor.’ We have it in its highest issue, ‘That ye through His poverty might become rich.’ Let us look at those points.

I. Here we have the deepest motive which underlies the whole work of Christ, unveiled to us.

‘Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Every word here is significant. It is very unusual in the New Testament to find that expression ‘grace’ applied to Jesus Christ. Except in the familiar benediction, I think there are only one or two instances of such a collocation of words. It is ‘the grace of God’ which, throughout the New Testament, is the prevailing expression. But here ‘grace is attributed to Jesus’; that is to say, the love of the Divine heart is, without qualification or hesitation, ascribed to Him. And what do we mean by grace? We mean love in exercise to inferiors. It is infinite condescension in Jesus to love. His love stoops when it embraces us. Very significant, therefore, is the employment here of the solemn full title, ‘the Lord Jesus Christ,’ which enhances the condescension by making prominent the height from which it bent. The ‘grace’ is all the more wonderful because of the majesty and sovereignty, to say the least of it, which are expressed in that title, the Lord. The highest stoops and stands upon the level of the lowest. ‘Grace’ is love that expresses itself to those who deserve something else. And the deepest motive, which is the very key to the whole phenomena of the life of Jesus Christ, is that it is all the exhibition, as it is the consequence, of a love that, stooping, forgives. ‘Grace’ is love that, stooping and forgiving, communicates its whole self to unworthy and transgressing recipients. And the key to the life of Jesus is that we have set forth in its operation a love which is not content to speak only the ordinary language of human affection, or to do its ordinary deeds, but is self-impelled to impart what transcends all other gifts of human tenderness, and to give its very self. And so a love that condescends, a love that passes by unworthiness, is turned away by no sin, is unmoved to any kind of anger, and never allows its cheek to flush or its heart to beat faster, because of any provocation and a love that is content with nothing short of entire surrender and self-impartation underlies all that precious life from Bethlehem to Calvary.

But there is another word in our text that may well be here taken into consideration. ‘For your sakes,’ says the Apostle to that Corinthian church, made up of people, not one of whom had ever seen or been seen by Jesus. And yet the regard to them was part of the motive that moved the Lord to His life, and His death. That is to say, to generalise the thought, this grace, thus stooping and forgiving and self-imparting, is a love that gathers into its embrace and to its heart all mankind; and is universal because it is individualising. Just as each planet in the heavens, and each tiny plant upon the earth, are embraced by, and separately receive, the benediction of that all-encompassing arch of the heaven, so that grace enfolds all, because it takes account of each. Whilst it is love for a sinful world, every soul of us may say: ‘He loved me, and’--therefore--’gave Himself for me.’ Unless we see beneath the sweet story of the earthly life this deep-lying source of it all, we fail to understand that life itself. We may bring criticism to bear upon it; we may apprehend it in diverse affecting, elevating, educating aspects; but, oh! brethren, we miss the blazing centre of the light, the warm heart of the fire, unless we see pulsating through all the individual facts of the life this one, all-shaping, all-vitalising motive; the grace--the stooping, the pardoning, the self-communicating, the individualising, and the universal love of Jesus Christ.

So then, we have here set before us the work of Christ in its--

II. Most mysterious and unique self-impoverishment.

‘He was . . . He became,’ there is one strange contrast. ‘He was _rich_ . . . He became _poor_,’ there is another. ‘He was . . . He became.’ What does that say? Well, it says that if you want to understand Bethlehem, you must go back to a time before Bethlehem. The meaning of Christ’s birth is only understood when we turn to that Evangelist who does not narrate it. For the meaning of it is here; ‘the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.’ The surface of the fact is the smallest part of the fact. They say that there is seven times as much of an iceberg under water as there is above the surface. And the deepest and most important fact about the nativity of our Lord is that it was not only the birth of an Infant, but the Incarnation of the Word. ‘He was . . . He became.’ We have to travel back and recognise that that life did not begin in the manger. We have to travel back and recognise the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh.

And these two words ‘He was . . . He became,’ imply another thing, and that is, that Jesus Christ who died because He chose, was not passive in His being born, but as at the end of His earthly life, so at its beginning exercised His volition, and was born because He willed, and willed because of ‘the grace of our Lord Jesus.’

Now in this connection it is very remarkable, and well worth our pondering, that throughout the whole of the Gospels, when Jesus speaks of His coming into the world, He never uses the word ‘born’ but once, and that was before the Roman governor, who would not have understood or cared for anything further, to whom He did say,’To this end was I born.’ But even when speaking to him His consciousness that that word did not express the whole truth was so strong that He could not help adding--though He knew that the hard Roman procurator would pay no attention to the apparent tautology--the expression which more truly corresponded to the fact, ‘and for this cause came I into the world.’ The two phrases are not parallel. They are by no means synonymous. One expresses the outward fact; the other expresses that which underlay it. ‘To this end was I born.’ Yes! ‘And for this cause came I.’ He Himself put it still more definitely when He said, ‘I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go unto the Father.’ So the two extremities of the earthly manifestation are neither of them ends; but before the one, and behind the other, there stretches an identity or oneness of Being and condition. The one as the other, the birth and the death, may be regarded as, in deepest reality, not only what He passively endured, but what He actively did. He was born, and He died, that in all points He might be ‘like unto His brethren.’ He ‘came’ into the world, and He ‘went’ to the Father. The end circled round to the beginning, and in both He acted because He chose, and chose because He loved.

So much, then, lies in the one of these two antitheses of my text; and the other is no less profound and significant. ‘He was rich; He became poor.’ In this connection ‘rich’ can only mean possessed of the Divine fulness and independence; and ‘poor’ can only mean possessed of human infirmity, dependence, and emptiness. And so to Jesus of Nazareth, to be born was impoverishment. If there is nothing more in His birth than in the birth of each of us, the words are grotesquely inappropriate to the facts of the case. For as between nothingness, which is the alternative, and the possession of conscious being, there is surely a contrast the very reverse of that expressed here. For us, to be born is to be endowed with capacities, with the wealth of intelligent, responsible, voluntary being; but to Jesus Christ, if we accept the New Testament teaching, to be born was a step, an infinite step, downwards, and He, alone of all men, might have been ‘ashamed to call men brethren.’ But this denudation of Himself, into the particulars of which I do not care to enter now, was the result of that stooping grace which ‘counted it not a thing to be clutched hold of, to be equal with God; but He made Himself of no reputation, and was found in fashion as a man, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.’

And so, dear friends, we know the measure of the stooping love of Jesus only when we read the history by the light of this thought, that ‘though He was rich’ with all the fulness of that eternal Word which was ‘in the beginning with God,’ ‘He became poor,’ with the poverty, the infirmity, the liability to temptation, the weakness, that attach to humanity; ‘and was found in all points like unto His brethren,’ that He might be able to help and succour them all.

The last thing here is--

III. The work of Christ set forth in its highest issue.

‘That we through His poverty might become rich.’ Of course, the antithetical expressions must be taken to be used in the same sense, and with the same width of application, in both of the clauses. And if so, just think reverently, wonderingly, thankfully, of the infinite vista of glorious possibility that is open to us here. Christ was rich in the possession of that Divine glory which Had had with the Father before the world was. ‘He became poor,’ in assuming the weakness of the manhood that you and I carry, that we, in the human poverty which is like His poverty, may become rich with wealth that is like His riches, and that as He stooped to earth veiling the Divine with the human, we may rise to heaven, clothing the human with the Divine.

For surely there is nothing more plainly taught in Scriptures, and I am bold to say nothing to which any deep and vital Christian experience even here gives more surely an anticipatory confirmation, than the fact that Christ became like unto us, that each of us may become like unto Him. The divine and the human natures are similar, and the fact of the Incarnation, on the one hand, and of the man’s glorification by possession of the divine nature on the other, equally rest upon that fundamental resemblance between the divine nature and the human nature which God has made in His own image. If that which in each of us is unlike God is cleared away, as it can be cleared away, through faith in that dear Lord, then the likeness as a matter of course, comes into force.

The law of all elevation is that whosoever desires to lift must stoop; and the end of all stooping is to lift the lowly to the place from which the love hath bent itself. And this is at once the law for the Incarnation of the Christ, and for the elevation of the Christian. ‘We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.’ And the great love, the stooping, forgiving, self-communicating love, doth not reach its ultimate issue, nor effect fully the purposes to which it ever is tending, unless and until all who have received it are ‘changed from glory to glory even into the image of the Lord.’ We do not understand Jesus, His cradle, or His Cross, unless on the one hand we see in them His emptying Himself that He might fill us, and, on the other hand, see, as the only result which warrants them and satisfies Him, our complete conformity to His image, and our participation in that glory which He has at the right hand of God. That is the prospect for humanity, and it is possible for each of us.

I do not dwell upon other aspects of this great self-emptying of our Lord’s, such as the revelation in it to us of the very heart of God, and of the divinest thing in the divine nature, which is love, or such as the sympathy which is made possible thereby to Him, and which is not only the pity of a God, but the compassion of a Brother. Nor do I touch upon many other aspects which are full of strengthening and teaching. That grand thought that Jesus has shared our human poverty that we may share His divine riches is the very apex of the New Testament teaching, and of the Christian hope. We have within us, notwithstanding all our transgressions, what the old divines used to call a ‘deiform nature,’ capable of being lifted up into the participation of divinity, capable of being cleansed from all the spots and stains which make us so unlike Him in whose likeness we were made.

Brethren, let us not forget that this stooping, and pardoning, and self-imparting love, has for its main instrument to appeal to our hearts, not the cradle but the Cross. We are being told by many people to-day that the centre of Christianity lies in the thought of an Incarnation. Yes. But our Lord Himself has told us what that was for.

‘The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.’ It is only when we look to that Lord in His death, and see there the very lowest point to which He stooped, and the supreme manifestation of His grace, that we shall be drawn to yield our hearts and lives to Him in thankfulness, in trust, and in imitation: and shall set Him before us as the pattern for our conduct, as well as the Object of our trust.

Brethren, my text was spoken originally as presenting the motive and the example for a little piece of pecuniary liability. Do you take the cradle and the Cross as the law of your lives? For depend upon it, the same necessity which obliged Jesus to come down to our level, if He would lift us to His; to live our life and die our death, if He would make us partakers of His immortal life, and deliver us from death; makes it absolutely necessary that if we are to live for anything nobler than our own poor, transitory self-aggrandisement, we too must learn to stoop to forgive, to impart ourselves, and must die by self-surrender and sacrifice, if we are ever to communicate any life, or good of life, to others. He has loved us, and given Himself for us. He has set us therein an example which He commends to us by His own word when He tells us that ‘if a corn of wheat’ is to bring forth ‘much fruit’ it must die, else it ‘abideth alone.’ Unless we die, we never truly live; unless we die to ourselves for others, and like Jesus, we live alone in the solitude of a self-enclosed self-regard. So living, we are dead whilst we live.

2 Corinthians 8:9. For ye know — And this knowledge is the true source of love; the grace — The most sincere, most free, and most abundant love; of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich — (1st,) In the glories of the divine nature, for, (John 1:1,) the Word was God, and subsisted in the form of God, (Php 2:6,) in the most perfect and indissoluble union with his eternal Father, with whom he had glory before the world was, John 17:5; and by whom he was beloved, as the only-begotten Son, before the foundation of the world, 2 Corinthians 8:24. (2d,) In the possession of the whole creation of God, which, as it was made by him, (John 1:3,) so was made for him, (Colossians 1:16,) and he was the heir and owner of it all, Hebrews 1:2. (3d,) In dominion over all creatures; he that cometh from above, (said the Baptist, John 3:31,) is above all; Lord of all, Acts 10:36; over all, God blessed for ever, Romans 9:5. All things being upheld were also governed by him, Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3. (4th,) In receiving glory from them all; all creatures being made, upheld, and governed by him, manifested the wisdom, power, and goodness, the holiness, justice, and grace of him, their great and glorious Creator, Preserver, and Ruler. (5th,) In receiving adoration and praise from the intelligent part of the creation, Psalm 97:7; Hebrews 1:6.

For your sakes he became poor — Namely, in his incarnation: not, observe, in ceasing to be what he was, the Wisdom, Word, and Song of Solomon of God, and God, in union with his Father and the Holy Spirit; but in becoming what before he was not, namely, man; in assuming the human nature into an indissoluble and eternal union with the divine, John 1:14; Hebrews 2:14; Hebrews 2:16. In doing this he became poor, 1st, In putting off the form of God, and taking the form of a servant, appearing no longer as the Creator, but as a creature, veiling his perfections with our flesh, and concealing his glories from human eyes. 2d, In taking the form of a mean creature, not of an archangel or angel, (Hebrews 2:16,) but of a man; a creature formed out of the dust of the earth, and in consequence of sin returning to it; and becoming a servant to the meanest of them. I am among you, (said he;) among whom? — Among princes? No; but among fishermen; as one that serveth. 3d, In taking the form even of a sinful creature, being made in the likeness of sinful flesh, Romans 8:3. For, though without sin, he appeared as a sinner, and was treated as such. And this likeness he assumed, 4th, Not in a state of wealth, and honour, and felicity, but in a state of extreme poverty, and infamy, and suffering. 5th, In this state our sins and sorrows were imputed to him, and laid upon him, and his honour, his liberty, and his life, were taken away, in ignominy and torture.

That ye through his poverty might be made rich — It is implied here that we were poor, and could not otherwise be made rich, but may in this way. When man was first formed, he was rich in the possession of God, and of this whole visible creation. 1st, In the favour and friendship, the protection, care, and bounty of his Creator; in the knowledge, love, and enjoyment of him. All this was lost by the fall. Man became ignorant, sinful, guilty, and a child of wrath, Ephesians 2:3; deprived of the favour, exposed to the displeasure of his God, and subjected to the tyranny of his lusts and passions, and of the powers of darkness. 2d, When first made, man was the lord of this lower world; all things on this earth being put under his feet, and made subservient to his happiness. This is not the case now. The creature was made subject to vanity, and does not satisfy or make him happy while he has it, and is constantly liable to be torn from him, and in the end he is certainly stripped of all. 3d, Man has even lost himself; he is so poor as not to retain possession of his health, or strength, or body, or soul. He has contracted an immense debt, and is liable to be himself arrested and thrown into the prison of eternal destruction. His body is due to sickness, pain, and death; and his soul to the wrath of God, and is liable to be seized by Satan, the executioner of the divine wrath. Such is our natural poverty! Having forfeited all, we have nothing left, neither the Creator nor his creatures, nor even ourselves. But the Son of God came, that, having assumed our nature, taken our sins and sufferings, and paid our forfeit, we might yet be rich. 1st, In the favour of God, and all the blessed effects thereof, in time and in eternity. 2d, In being adopted into his family, born of his Spirit, and constituted his children and his heirs. 3d, In being restored to his image, and endued with the gifts and graces of his Spirit. 4th, In being admitted to an intimate union and fellowship with him. 5th, In having the use of God’s creatures restored to us, blessed and sanctified, even all things needful for life as well as godliness. 6th, In being unspeakably happy with Jesus in paradise, in the intermediate state between death and judgment. 7th, In having our bodies restored, and conformed to Christ’s glorious body, at his second coming. 8th, In being associated with all the company of heaven in the new world which the Lord will make, admitted to the vision and enjoyment of God, and the possession of all things, Revelation 21:7; — riches, honour, and felicity, unsearchable in degree, and eternal in duration! And all this we have through his poverty, through his incarnation, life, death, his resurrection, ascension, and intercession; whereby, having expiated sin, and abolished death, he hath obtained all these unspeakable blessings for such as will accept of them in the way which he hath prescribed; which is, that we acknowledge our poverty in true repentance and humiliation of soul before God, and accept of these unsearchable riches in faith, gratitude, love, and new obedience.

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.For ye know ... - The apostle Paul was accustomed to illustrate every subject, and to enforce every duty where it could be done, by a reference to the life and sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. The design of this verse is apparent. It is, to show the duty of giving liberally to the objects of benevolence, from the fact that the Lord Jesus was willing to become poor in order that he might benefit others. The idea is, that he who was Lord and proprietor of the universe, and who possessed all things, was willing to leave his exalted station in the bosom of the Father and to become poor, in order that we might become rich in the blessings of the gospel, in the means of grace, and as heirs of all things; and that we who are thus benefitted, and who have such an example, should be willing to part with our earthly possessions in order that we may benefit others.

The grace - The benignity, kindness, mercy, goodness. His coming in this manner was a proof of the highest benevolence.

Though he was rich - The riches of the Redeemer here referred to, stand opposed to that poverty which he assumed and manifested when he dwelt among people. It implies:

(1) His pre-existence, because he became poor. He had been rich. Yet not in this world. He did not lay aside wealth here on earth after he had possessed it, for he had none. He was not first rich and then poor on earth, for he had no earthly wealth. The Socinian interpretation is, that he was "rich in power and in the Holy Spirit;" but it was not true that he laid these aside, and that he became poor in either of them. He had power, even in his poverty, to still the waves, and to raise the dead, and he was always full of the Holy Spirit. His family was poor; and his parents were poor; and he was himself poor all his life. This then must refer to a state of antecedent riches before his assumption of human nature; and the expression is strikingly parallel to that in Philippians 2:6 ff. "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation," etc.

(2) he was rich as the Lord and proprietor of all things. He was the Creator of all John 1:3; Colossians 1:16, and as Creator he had a right to all things, and the disposal of all things. The most absolute right which can exist is that acquired by the act of creation; and this right the Son of God possessed over all gold, and silver, and diamonds, and pearls; over all earth and lands; over all the treasures of the ocean, and over all worlds. The extent and amount of his riches, therefore, is to be measured by the extent of his dominion over the universe; and to estimate his riches, therefore, we are to conceive of the scepter which he sways over the distant worlds. What wealth has man that can compare with the riches of the Creator and Proprietor of all? How poor and worthless appears all the gold that man can accumulate compared with the wealth of him whose are the silver, and the gold, and the cattle upon a thousand hills?

Yet for your sakes - That is, for your sakes as a part of the great family that was to be redeemed. In what respect it was for their sake, the apostle immediately adds when he says, it was that they might be made rich. It was not for his own sake, but it was for ours.

He became poor - In the following respects:

(1) He chose a condition of poverty, a rank of life that was usually that of poverty. He "took upon himself the form of a servant;" Philippians 2:7.

(2) he was connected with a poor family. Though of the family and lineage of David Luke 2:4, yet the family had fallen into decay, and was poor. In the Old Testament he is beautifully represented as a shoot or sucker that starts up from the root of a decayed tree; see my note on Isaiah 11:1.

(3) his whole life was a life of poverty. He had no home; Luke 9:58. He chose to be dependent on the charity of the few friends that he drew around him, rather than to create food for the abundant supply of his own needs. He had no farms or plantations; he had no splendid palaces; he had no money hoarded in useless coffers or in banks; he had no property to distribute to his friends. His mother he commended when he died to the charitable attention of one of his disciples John 19:27, and all his personal property seems to have been the raiment which he wore, and which was divided among the soldiers that crucified him. Nothing is more remarkable than the difference between the plans of the Lord Jesus and those of many of his followers and professed friends. He formed no plan for becoming rich, and he always spoke with the deepest earnestness of the dangers which attend an effort to accumulate property. He was among the most poor of the sons of people in his life; and few have been the people on earth who have not had as much as he had to leave to surviving friends, or to excite the cupidity of those who should fall heirs to their property when dead.

(4) he died poor. He made no will in regard to his property, for he had none to dispose of. He knew well enough the effect which would follow if he had amassed wealth, and had left it to be divided among his followers. They were very imperfect; and even around the cross there might have been anxious discussion, and perhaps strife about it, as there is often now over the coffin and the unclosed grave of a rich and foolish father who has died. Jesus intended that his disciples should never be turned away from the great work to which he called them by any wealth which he would leave them; and he left them not even a keepsake as a memorial of his name. All this is the more remarkable from two considerations:

(a) That he had it in his power to choose the manner in which he would come. He might have come in the condition of a splendid prince. He might have rode in a chariot of ease, or have dwelt in a magnificent palace. He might have lived with more than the magnificence of an oriental prince, and might have bequeathed treasures greater than those of Croesus or Solomon to his followers. But he chose not to do it.

(b) It would have been as right and proper for him to have amassed wealth, and to have sought princely possessions, as for any of his followers. What is right for them would have been right for him. People often mistake on this subject; and though it cannot be demonstrated that all his followers should aim to be as poor as he was, yet it is undoubtedly true that he meant that his example should operate constantly to check their desire of amassing wealth. In him it was voluntary; in us there should be always a readiness to be poor if such be the will of God; nay, there should he rather a preference to be in moderate circumstances that we may thus be like the Redeemer.

That ye through his poverty might be rich - That is, might have durable and eternal riches, the riches of God's everlasting favor. This includes:


9. ye know the grace—the act of gratuitous love whereby the Lord emptied Himself of His previous heavenly glory (Php 2:6, 7) for your sakes.

became poor—Yet this is not demanded of you (2Co 8:14); but merely that, without impoverishing yourselves, you should relieve others with your abundance. If the Lord did so much more, and at so much heavier a cost, for your sakes; much more may you do an act of love to your brethren at so little a sacrifice of self.

might be rich—in the heavenly glory which constitutes His riches, and all other things, so far as is really good for us (compare 1Co 3:21, 22).

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; call to mind the free love of your Lord and Master Jesus Christ, which you know, believing the gospel, which gives you a true account of it, and having in your own souls experienced the blessed effects of it:

He was rich, being the Heir of all things, the Lord of the whole creation, Hebrews 1:2, all things were put under his feet.

Yet for your sakes he became poor; yet that he might accomplish the work of your redemption, and purchase his Father’s love for you, he took upon him the form of a servant, stripped himself of his robes of glory, and clothed himself with the rags of flesh, denied himself in the use of his creatures, had not where to lay down his head, was maintained from alms, people ministering to him of their substance.

That ye through his poverty might be rich; and all this that you might be made rich, with the riches of grace and glory; rich in the love of God, and in the habits of Divine grace; which was all effected by his poverty, by his making himself of no reputation, and humbling himself. If after your knowledge of this, by receiving and believing the gospel, and experiencing this, in those riches of spiritual gifts and graces and hopes of glory which you have, you shall yet be found strait hearted in compassionating the poverty and afflicted state of his poor members, or strait-handed in ministering unto them, how will you in any measure answer this great love, or conform to this great example?

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus,.... This is a new argument, and a very forcible one to engage to liberality, taken from the wonderful grace and love of Christ, displayed in his state of humiliation towards his people; which is well known to all them that have truly believed in Christ; of this they are not and cannot be ignorant, his love, good will, and favour are so manifest; there are such glaring proofs of it in his incarnation, sufferings, and death, that leave no room for any to doubt of it:

that though he was rich; in the perfections of his divine nature, having the fulness of the Godhead in him, all that the Father has, and so equal to him; such as eternity, immutability, infinity and immensity, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, &c. in the works of his hands, which reach to everything that is made, the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all that in them are, things visible and invisible; in his universal empire and dominion over all creature; and in those large revenues of glory, which are due to him from them all; which riches of his are underived from another, incommunicable to another, and cannot be lost:

yet for your sakes he became poor; by assuming human nature, with all its weaknesses and imperfections excepting sin; he appeared in it not as a lord, but in the form of a servant; he endured in it a great deal of reproach and shame, and at last death itself; not that by becoming man he ceased to be God, or lost his divine perfections, thought these were much hid and covered from the view of man; and in his human nature he became the reverse of what he is in his divine nature, namely, finite and circumscriptible, weak and infirm, ignorant of some things, and mortal; in which nature also he was exposed to much meanness and outward poverty; he was born of poor parents, had no liberal education, was brought up to a trade, had not where to lay his head, was ministered to by others of their substance, and had nothing to bequeath his mother at his death, but commits her to the care of one of his disciples; all which fulfilled the prophecies of him, that he should be and "poor" and "low", Psalm 41:1. The persons for whom he became so, were not the angels, but elect men; who were sinners and ungodly persons, and were thereby become bankrupts and beggars: the end for which he became poor for them was,

that they through his poverty might be rich; not in temporals, but in spirituals; and by his obedience, sufferings, and death in his low estate, he has paid all their debts, wrought out a robe of righteousness, rich and adorned with jewels, with which he clothes them, and through his blood and sacrifice has made them kings and priests unto God. They are enriched by him with the graces of his Spirit; with the truths of the Gospel, comparable to gold, silver, and precious stones; with himself and all that he has; with the riches of grace here, and of glory hereafter. These are communicable from him, though unsearchable, and are solid and substantial, satisfying, lasting, and for ever. Now if this grace of Christ will not engage to liberality with cheerfulness, nothing will.

{4} For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

(4) The fourth argument taken from the example of Christ.

2 Corinthians 8:9. Parenthesis which states what holy reason he has for speaking to them, not κατʼ ἐπιταγήν, but in the way just mentioned, that of testing their love. For you know, indeed (γινώσκετε not imperative, as Chrysostom and others think), what a high pattern of gracious kindness you have experienced in yourselves from Jesus Christ. So the testing, which I have in view among you, will only be imitation of Christ. Olshausen rejects here the conception of pattern, and finds the proof of possibility: “Since Christ by His becoming poor has made you rich, you also may communicate of your riches; He has placed you in a position to do so.” The outward giving, namely, presupposes the disposition to give as an internal motive, without which it would not take place. But in this view πλουτήσητε would of necessity apply to riches in loving dispositions, which, however, is not suggested at all in the context, since in point of fact the consciousness of every believing reader led him to think of the whole fulness of the Messianic blessings as the aim of Christ’s humiliation, and to place in that the riches meant by πλουτήσητε.

ὅτι διʼ ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ.] that He for your sakes, etc., epexegetical of τὴν χάριν τ. κυρ. ἡμ. Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. The emphatic διʼ ὑμᾶς brings home to the believing consciousness of the readers individually the aim, which in itself was universa.

ἐπτώχευσε] inasmuch as He by His humiliation to become incarnate emptied Himself of the participation, which He had in His pre-existent state, of God’s glory, dominion, and blessedness (πλούσιος ὤν), Php 2:6. On the meaning of the word, comp. LXX. Jdg 6:6; Jdg 14:15; Psalm 34:10; Psalm 79:8; Proverbs 23:21; Tob 4:21; Antiphanes in Becker’s Anecd. 112. 24. The aorist denotes the once-occurring entrance into the condition of being poor, and therefore certainly the having become poor (although πτωχεύειν, as also the classical πενέσθαι, does not mean to become poor, but to be[271] poor), and not the whole life led by Christ in poverty and lowliness, during which He was nevertheless rich in grace, rich in inward blessings; so Baur[272] and Köstlin, Lehrbegr. d. Joh. p. 310, also Beyschlag, Christol. p. 237. On the other hand, see Raebiger, Christol. Paul. p. 38 f.; Neander, ed. 4, p. 801 f.; Lechler, Apost. Zeit. p. 50 f.; Weiss, Bibl. Theol. pp. 312, 318.

ὤν] is the imperfect participle: when He was rich, and does not denote the abiding possession (Estius, Rückert); for, according to the context, the apostle is not speaking of what Christ is, but of what He was,[273] before He became man, and ceased to be on His self-exinanition in becoming man (Galatians 4:4; this also in opposition to Philippi, Glaubensl. IV. p. 447). So also ὑπάρχων, Php 2:6.

] in order that you through His poverty might become rich. These riches are the reconciliation, justification, illumination, sanctification, peace, joy, certainty of eternal life, and thereafter this life itself, in short, the whole sum of spiritual and heavenly blessings (comp. Chrysostom) which Christ has obtained for believers by His humiliation even to the death of the cross. Πλουτεῖν means with the Greek writers, and in the N. T. (Romans 10:12; Luke 12:21), to be rich; but the aorist (1 Corinthians 4:8) is to be taken as with ἐπτώχευσε. Ἐκείνου, instead of the simple ΑὐΤΟῦ (Krüger, ad Xen. Anab. iv. 3. 30; Dissen, ad Dem. de cor. p. 276, 148), has great emphasis: “magnitudinem Domini innuit,” Bengel.

In opposition to the interpretation of our passage, by which ἐπτώχ. falls into the historical life, so that πλούσιος ὤν is taken potentialiter as denoting the power to take to Himself riches and dominion, which, however, Jesus has renounced and has subjected Himself to poverty and self-denial (so Grotius and de Wette), see on Php 2:6.

[271] As e.g. βασιλεύειν, to be king, but ἐβασίλευσα: I have become king. Comp. 1 Corinthians 4:8; and see in general, Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. i. 1. 18; also Ernesti, Urspr. d. Sünde, I. p. 245.

[272] Comp. his neut. Theol. p. 193: “though in Himself as respects His right rich, He lived poor.”

[273] Comp. Rich. Schmidt, Paul. Christol. p. 144.

2 Corinthians 8:9. γινώσκετε γὰρ κ.τ.λ.: for ye know the grace, i.e., the act of grace, of our Lord Jesus Christ, that being rich, sc., in His pre-existent state before the Incarnation, yet for your sakes (cf. Romans 15:3) He became poor, sc., in that κένωσις which the Incarnation involved (Php 2:5-6), (the aor. marks a def. point of time, “He became poor,” not “He was poor”), in order that ye by His poverty, i.e., His assumption of man’s nature, might be rich, i.e., in the manifold graces of the Incarnation (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:5). This verse is parenthetical, introduced to give the highest example of love and self-sacrifice for others; there is nowhere in St. Paul a more definite statement of his belief in the pre-existence of Christ before His Incarnation (cf. John 17:5). It has been thought that ἐπτώχευσε carries an allusion to the poverty of the Lord’s earthly life (Matthew 8:20); but the primary reference cannot be to this, for the πτωχεία of Jesus Christ by which we are “made rich” is not the mere hardship and penury of His outward lot, but the state which He assumed in becoming man.

9. For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ] In St Paul’s eyes “Christ is the reference for everything. To Christ’s life and Christ’s Spirit St Paul refers all questions, both practical and speculative, for solution.” Robertson. For grace see above, 2 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 8:6. Tyndale and some of the other versions render it here by liberality, and Estius interprets by beneficentia.

though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor] Rather, being rich (cf. John 3:13 in the Greek and ch. 2 Corinthians 11:31). There is no was in the original. Jesus Christ did not cease to be rich when He made Himself poor. He did not cease to be God when He became Man. For became poor we should perhaps translate, made Himself a beggar. The aorist refers to the moment when He became Man; and the word translated poor seems rather to require a stronger word. (“Apostolus non dixit pauper sed egenus. Plus est egenum esse quam pauperem.” Estius.) The word (which seems “to have almost superseded the common word for poverty in the N.T.” Stanley) is connected with the root to fly, to fall, and yet more closely with the idea of cowering, and seems to indicate a more abject condition than mere poverty. For the word, see Matthew 5:3, also ch. 2 Corinthians 6:10, and 2 Corinthians 8:2 of this chapter. For the idea cf. Matthew 8:20; Php 2:6-8.

that ye through his poverty might be rich] We could only attain to God by His bringing Himself down to our level. See John 1:9-14; John 1:18; John 12:45; John 14:9; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3. And by thus putting Himself on an equality with us He enriched us with all the treasures that dwell in Him. Cf. Ephesians 1:7-8; Ephesians 2:5-7; Ephesians 3:16-19; Colossians 2:2-3, &c., as well as Php 2:6-8 just cited.

2 Corinthians 8:9. Γινώσκετε γὰρ, for ye know) by that knowledge, which ought to include love.—χάριν, the grace) love most sincere, abundant, and free.—ἐπτώχευσε, He became poor) He bore the burden of poverty; and yet this is not demanded from you: 2 Corinthians 8:14.—ἐκείνου, of Him, His) This intimates the previous greatness of the Lord.—πτωχείᾳ πλουτήσητε, through His poverty ye might be rich) So through the instrumentality of all those things, which the Lord has suffered, the contrary benefits have been procured for us, 1 Peter 2:24, end of ver.

Verse 9. - The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The word "grace," as in vers. 4, 6, 7, here means "gracious beneficence." Though he was rich (John 16:15; Ephesians 3:8). Became poor. The aorist implies the concentration of his self-sacrifice in a single act. By his poverty. The word "his" in the Greek implies the greatness of Christ. The word for "poverty" would, in classical Greek, mean "pauperism" or "mendicancy." Dean Stanley (referring to Milman's 'Latin Christianity,' 5. bk. 12. c. 6) points out how large a place this verse occupied in the mediaeval controversies between the moderate and the extreme members of the mendicant orders. William of Ockham and others, taking the word "poverty" in its extremest sense, maintained that the Franciscans ought to possess nothing; but Pope John XXII., with the Dominicans, took a more rational view of the sense and of the historic facts. 2 Corinthians 8:9He became poor (ἐπτώχευσεν)

Only here in the New Testament. Primarily of abject poverty, beggary (see on Matthew 5:3), though used of poverty generally. "Became poor" is correct, though some render "was poor," and explain that Christ was both rich and poor simultaneously; combining divine power and excellence with human weakness and suffering. But this idea is foreign to the general drift of the passage. The other explanation falls in better with the key-note - an act of self-devotion - in 2 Corinthians 8:5. The aorist tense denotes the entrance into the condition of poverty, and the whole accords with the magnificent passage, Philippians 2:6-8. Stanley has some interesting remarks on the influence of this passage in giving rise to the orders of mendicant friars. See Dante, "Paradiso," xi., 40-139; xii., 130 sqq.

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