2 Corinthians 9:5
Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brothers, that they would go before to you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof you had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.
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(5) Therefore I thought it necessary . . .—The brethren were to go before St. Paul, so as to get all things ready for his arrival. There were to be no hurried and unsatisfactory collections then.

Your bounty, whereof ye had notice before.—Better, your bounty, announced before. He is not referring to any notice that he had given, whether in 1Corinthians 16:1-2 or elsewhere, but to the announcement that he himself had made to the churches of Macedonia. The word for “bounty” (eulogia) has, like that for “confidence” in the preceding verse, the interest of an ecclesiastical history attaching to it. Literally, it means a “blessing;” then, as in the LXX. of Genesis 23:11, Judges 1:15, it was used for the “gift,” which is the outward token or accompaniment of a blessing. In liturgical language, as connected with the “cup of blessing,” it was applied—(1) to the consecrated bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper generally; (2) specially to those portions which were reserved to be sent to the sick and other absentees; (3) when that practice fell into disuse, to the unconsecrated remains; and (4) to gifts of bread or cake to friends or the poor, as a residuum of the old distributions at the Agapæ, or Feasts of Charity.

As a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.—The bearing of the last word is not quite obvious. Probably what is meant is this:—“Let your gift be worthy of what you call it, a ‘blessing’ expressed in act, not the grudging gift of one who, as he gives, is intent on gaining some advantage through his seeming generosity.” So understood, it expresses the same thought as Shakespeare’s well-known lines:—

“The quality of mercy is not strained,

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

It is possible, however, that the word “covetousness” had been applied tauntingly to St. Paul himself, as always “asking for more,” always “having his hand” (as is sometimes said of active organising secretaries in our own time) “in people’s pockets,” and that this is his answer to that taunt. The use of the corresponding verb in 2Corinthians 7:2; 2Corinthians 12:17-18, is strongly in favour of this view. “Don’t look on this business,” he seems to say, “as a self-interested work of mine. Think of it as, in every sense of the word, a blessing both to givers and receivers.”

9:1-5 When we would have others do good, we must act toward them prudently and tenderly, and give them time. Christians should consider what is for the credit of their profession, and endeavour to adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things. The duty of ministering to the saints is so plain, that there would seem no need to exhort Christians to it; yet self-love contends so powerfully against the love of Christ, that it is often necessary to stir up their minds by way of remembrance.Therefore I thought it necessary ... - In order to secure the collection, and to avoid all unpleasant feeling on all hands.

That they would go before unto you - Before I should come.

And make up beforehand your bounty - Prepare it before I come. The word "bounty" is in the margin, rendered "blessing." The Greek (εὐλογία eulogia) means properly commendation, eulogy. Then it means blessing, praise applied to God. Then that which blesses - a gift, donation, favor, bounty - whether of God to human beings, or of one man to another. Here it refers to their contribution as that which would be adapted to confer a blessing on others, or suited to produce happiness.

That the same might be ready as a matter of bounty - That it may truly appear as a liberal and voluntary offering; as an act of generosity and not as wrung or extorted from you. That it may be truly a blessing - a thank-offering to God and adapted to do good to people.

And not as of covetousness - "And not like a sort of extortion, wrung from you by mere dint of importunity" - Doddridge. The word used here (πλεονεξία pleonexia) means usually covetousness, greediness of gain, which leads a person to defraud others. The idea here is, that Paul would have them give this as an act of bounty, or liberality on their part, and not as an act of covetousness on his part, not as extorted by him from them.

5. that they would go before—Translate, "that they should," &c.

whereof ye had notice before—rather, "promised before"; "long announced by me to the Macedonians" (2Co 9:2) [Bengel]. "Your promised bounty" [Ellicott and others].

not as of covetousness—Translate, "not as matter of covetousness," which it would be, if you gave niggardly.

This was the cause why I judged it reasonable to send the three brethren, before mentioned, unto you, that they might make up your bounty; prokatartiswsi, not so much to move, quicken, or exhort you to it, as to hasten the despatch and perfecting of it, that your money might be ready gathered. The word which we translate

bounty, in the Greek signifieth blessing, which agreeth with the Hebrew dialect. Abigail’s present to David in his distress is called hkrb, a blessing, 1 Samuel 25:27: so Jacob called his present to his brother Esau, Genesis 33:11. Such kind of reliefs are called a blessing in both the Hebrew and the Greek tongue:

1. Because they are a part of God’s blessing upon him that gives, Psalm 24:5.

2. Because the giving of them is a recognition or acknowledgntent how far God hath blessed persons, they giving as the Lord hath prospered them, 1 Corinthians 16:2.

3. Because they are an indication of the blessing, or well wishing, of him that giveth to him that receiveth the gift.

4. Because they are a real doing good to the person that receiveth them, an actual blessing of him.

5. Possibly they are (in him that gives) an effectual, real blessing of God; for we then bless God with what we have, when we use and improve it for the ends for which he hath given it to us. It is very observable, that a liberal, free giving to the relief of the servants of God in distress, is called cariv and eulogia, grace and blessing; a heart to it being created in us from the free grace of God, and the work itself being a real, actual blessing of God with our substance, and the fruit of our increase: which two things well digested, will be potent arguments to charity with every soul that knoweth any thing of God, or hath any love for God.

That the same might be ready; that the same may be ready gathered, not to gather when I come. As a blessing, we translate it,

as a matter of bounty: the sense is the same.

Not as of covetousness: the meaning is, I have also sent the brethren, that they may persuade you to a free and liberal contribution, a giving that may look like a blessing, not as proceeding from a narrow heart, in which the love of money prevaileth above the love of God. Giving to the distressed saints of God sparingly, and disproportionately to what estate we have, no ways looks like a blessing; he that so gives, doth not, according to the apostle’s phrase, give wv eulogian’ for he neither gives as the Lord hath blessed and prospered him, nor yet according to what God requires of him; for he withholds a part of what he ought to part with: neither doth he bless his brother; he doth him some little good, but blessing another signifies a more liberal doing good to him. Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren,.... Titus, and the other two, on whom he did not lay his commands, or apostolical injunctions, according to the authority and dignity of his office; only exhorted or besought them, and which was judged by him very needful and proper at this time:

that they would go before hand unto you; before him, and the Macedonian brethren that might probably come with him:

and make up before hand your bounty; or blessing; for any present sent, or delivered, by one person to another, as a token of their friendship, favour, and good will, whether in a necessitous case or not, was by the Jews called "a blessing"; see Genesis 33:11 and especially what is contributed for the relief of the poor may be so called, because it is not only a part of the bounty of Providence, and blessings of life, with which men are favoured; but is also one way of blessing God for the mercies he has blessed them with, and likewise of blessing, or doing good to fellow creatures and Christians. Moreover, because for this the poor bless their benefactors; and it is a blessing itself to do good to others. Now the apostle judged it expedient to send the brethren before hand to complete and finish this good work begun.

Whereof, says he,

ye had notice before: in his former epistle, 1 Corinthians 16:1 or which was promised before by them; or had been spoken of so much before by him to other churches:

that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, or blessing,

not as of covetousness; that is, that the collection being ready made, largely and liberally, it might appear to be a free generous action, and show what a noble bountiful disposition they were of; and not performed as covetous men usually do what they do, sparingly, tenaciously, keeping their money as long as they can, being loath to part with it.

Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of {b} covetousness.

(b) As from covetous men.

2 Corinthians 9:5. Οὖν] in pursuance of what was said in 2 Corinthians 9:4.

ἵνα] comp. 2 Corinthians 8:6.

προέλθ.] namely, before my arrival and that of the Macedonians possibly accompanying me. The thrice-repeated προ- is not used by accident, but adds point to the instigation to have everything ready before the apostle’s arriva.

προκατατίσ.] adjusted beforehand, put into complete order beforehand, Hippocr. p. 24, 10. 18.

τὴν προεπηγγελμένην εὐλογίαν ὑμῶν] your blessing promised beforehand (by me). See 2 Corinthians 9:2-4. On προεπ., comp. Romans 1:2. Erasmus, Estius, Rückert, and some others at variance with the context, take it: the blessing formerly promised by you.

εὐλογία is a characteristically conciliatory (καὶ τῇ προσηγορίᾳ αὐτοὺς ἐπεσπάσατο, Chrysostom) designation of the collection, inasmuch as it is for the receivers a practical blessing proceeding from the givers (i.e. πληθυσμὸς ἀγαθῶν ἐξ ἑκουσιότητος διδόμενος, Phavor.). Comp. on εὐλογία in the sense of good deed, LXX. Genesis 33:11; Jdg 1:5; Ezekiel 34:26; Sir 39:22; Wis 15:19; Ephesians 1:3.

ταύτην ἑτοίμην εἶναι οὕτως ὡς κ.τ.λ.] the intended consequence of προκαταρτ. τ. προεπ. εὐλ. ὑμῶν, so that the infinitive in the sense of ὥστε (Kühner, II. p. 565, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 5. 3) and ταύτην, which attaches itself more emphatically to what has to come than to what goes before (Hofmann), are used anaphorically (Bernhardy, p. 283): that this may be in readiness thus like blessing and not like covetousness, in such manner that it may have the quality of blessing, not of covetousness; in other words, that it may be liberal, which is the character of εὐλογία, and not sparing, as covetousness shows itself in giving. Πλεονεξία does not mean here or anywhere else parsimony (Flatt, Rückert, de Wette, and many others); but Paul conceives of the sparing giver as covetous, in so far as such a man desires himself to have that which he contributes, in order to increase his own, and therefore gives but very scantily. Following Chrysostom (comp. Erasmus, Paraphr., and Beza), Billroth refers πλεονεξία to Paul and his colleagues: “Your gift is to be a free, and not an extorted, one.” Against this may be urged as well the analogy of ὡς εὐλογίαν, as also 2 Corinthians 9:6, where the meaning of ὡς πλεονεξ. is represented by φειδομένως; hence also we must not, with Rückert and others, combine the ideas of willingly and unwillingly (which are not mentioned till 2 Corinthians 9:7) with those of giving liberally and sparingly.

On οὕτως after its adjective, see Stallb. ad Plat. Rep. p. 500 A.2 Corinthians 9:5. ἀναγκαῖον οὖν ἡγησάμην κ.τ.λ.: therefore, sc., because of the reason in 2 Corinthians 9:4, I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren (inasmuch as two of these “brethren” were not chosen by St. Paul, but were the delegates of the contributing Churches, the rendering “entreat” of the R.V. conveys well the meaning of παρακαλέσαι; but see on 2 Corinthians 8:6) that they should go beforehand unto you, sc., before the Apostle should himself arrive at Corinth, and make up beforehand your bounty which was promised beforehand, sc., to the Macedonians. “Bis dat qui cito dat” is what he would impress upon the Corinthian Christians. εὐλογία, elsewhere used in the N.T. as = “blessing” (e.g., Romans 15:29, 1 Corinthians 10:16, Galatians 3:14), is here = “gift,” a meaning which as the rendering of בְּרָכָה it frequently has in the LXX (Genesis 33:11, etc.). “Originally the blending of the two ideas arose from the fact that every blessing or praise of God or man was in the East (as still to a great extent) accompanied by a gift” (Stanley). cf. the similar ambiguity in the word χάρις.—ταύτην ἑτοίμην εἶναι κ.τ.λ.: that (we must supply ὥστε as at Colossians 4:6) the same might be ready as a bounty (οὕτως ὡς marks the exact mode in which the thank-offering is desired; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:15; 1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Corinthians 9:26), and not as an extortion, sc., a matter of covetous grasping on my part (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:17). The A.V. rendering of πλεονεξίαν = “covetousness,” seems to mean “niggardliness, such as a covetous man would exhibit,” and this would fall in well with the verses which follow; but it is not agreeable to the general meaning of the word or to St. Paul’s usage elsewhere (see reff.).5. the brethren] i.e. those mentioned in the last chapter.

go before] i.e. before the Apostle.

your bounty, whereof ye had notice before] Rather, according to the best MSS., ‘your previously announced bounty,’ i.e. either (1) announced by me to the Macedonian Churches; or (2) generally, promised beforehand. The word translated bounty is more usually translated blessing (Vulg. benedictio). See 1 Corinthians 10:16; also Genesis 33:11; 1 Samuel 30:26 in the LXX. The gifts of the Corinthians are called a blessing, because they are so to others, and because they call down a blessing on those who impart them. See Dean Stanley’s note, who quotes the well-known passage from the Merchant of Venice, where Portia says that mercy is “twice blessed; it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

as a matter of bounty] Rather, so as to be a blessing.

and not as of covetousness] Rather, perhaps, greed; i.e. to be given in a generous and not in a grudging spirit. But Dr Plumptre regards it as possibly referring to St Paul, ‘as a work of your bounty, not of my claims upon your purses.’ Ch. 2 Corinthians 7:2, 2 Corinthians 12:17-18, which he cites, are decidedly in favour of this interpretation. For covetous, covetousness, see 1 Corinthians 5:10 (note).2 Corinthians 9:5. Ἀναγκαῖον, necessary) not merely [suitable] becoming.—προἐπηγγελμένην, promised before [But Engl. V., whereof ye had notice before]) by me, among the Macedonians, concerning you [the liberality on your part, which I had vouched for to the Macedonians].—εὐλογίαν) as דבר is used for word and deed, so εὐλογία, a blessing and a benefit [‘bounty’], a bountiful gift, LXX. Joshua 15:19.—εἶναι) for τοῦ εἶναι, that it may be.—οὕτως, so) The Ploce is by this word [so] shown in regard to bounty.[55]—πλεονεξίαν, [covetousness] avarice) It is avarice, when men give niggardly, and receive [get] unjustly.

[55] Ploce, where a word is used, as εὐλογία here, first in the simple sense, then to express some attribute of it.—See Append.—ED.Verse 5. - That they would go before unto you. The triple repetition of the word "before" shows how earnest St. Paul is in the matter. The Corinthians had promised largely; it was evident that there had been, or that there was ground for fearing that there might be, some slackness of performance. St. Paul was so unwilling to have seemed inaccurate in what, he had said about them in Macedonia that he wished to give them ample notice before the Macedonian delegates arrived. Your bounty, whereof ye had notice before; your previously promised blessing, bounty; literally, blessing. The mere word should have acted as an inducement to generosity. See the use of the word to express a generous gift in Genesis 33:11; Judges 1:15, etc. (LXX.); Ephesians 1:3. In this sense it resembles the Hebrew berachah (Joshua 15:19, etc.). As a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness; as a blessing, and not as an extortion; i.e. as a free gift of your own, and not as something which I had wrung from you, or "got out of you" (2 Corinthians 7:2; 2 Corinthians 12:17, 18). It is less likely that the word pleonexia refers to the "parsimony" of the Corinthians, as though the smallness of their gift would show their greed for large gains. Go before

Notice the thrice repeated before, emphasizing the injunction to have everything ready before Paul's arrival.

Make up beforehand (προκαταρτίσωσιν)

Adjust. See on Matthew 4:21; see on Matthew 21:16; see on Luke 6:40; see on 1 Peter 5:10.

Bounty (εὐλογίαν)

Lit., blessing. In this sense only here in the New Testament. In the Septuagint indifferently of gift or blessing. See Genesis 33:11; Judges 1:15; Ezekiel 34:26. In Proverbs 11:25, liberal soul is rendered by Sept., εὐλογούμενη blessed.

Whereof ye had notice before (προεπηγγελημένην)

Rev., better, your afore-promised bounty. The bounty promised by you, or by me on your behalf.

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