Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:'9:1-5.] He recurs to the collection itself, and prays them that they would make good before the brethren his boasting of them, and prepare it before his own coming.
1.] The μὲν γάρ connects with the last verse, thus, ‘I beseech you to receive the brethren whom I send, courteously; for concerning the duty of ministration to the saints, it is surely superfluous for me to write to you who are so prompt already.’ No new subject begins, as some have supposed; nor is there any break in the sense at all. Some obscurity has been introduced unnecessarily, by taking τῆς διακ. τ. εἰς τ. ἁγ. for merely this collection which is now making: whereas the Apostle chooses such general terms as a mild reproof to the Corinthians, who, well aware as they were of the duty of ministering to the saints, were yet somewhat remiss in this particular example of the duty. There is an emphasis on γράφειν: ‘nam testes habebitis præsentes,’ Bengel. Theophyl. well remarks: τοσαῦτα καὶ πρότερον εἰπὼν καὶ πάλιν μέλλων εἰπεῖν, ὅμως περιττὸν αὐτῷ λέγει τὸ περὶ τούτων γράφειν. σοφῶς δὲ τοῦτο ποιεῖ, ὥστε μᾶλλον αὐτοὺς ἐπισπάσασθαι. αἰσχυνθήσονται γὰρ εἴ γε τοιαύτην ὑπόληψιν περὶ αὐτῶν ἔχοντος τοῦ Παύλου, ὅτι οὐ δέονται συμβουλῆς πρὸς τὸ ἐλεεῖν, εἶτα φανῶσιν ἐλάττους τῆς ὑπολήψεως.
2.] For (ground of περισσόν ἐστι) I am aware of your readiness of which (reff.) I am in the habit of boasting concerning you to Macedonians (Bengel remarks on the pres., ‘adhuc erat Paulus in Macedonia’) that Achaia (not ὑμεῖς—he relates his own words to the Macedonians) has been ready (viz. to send off the money: καὶ οὐδὲν λείπει εἰ μὴ τὸ ἐλθεῖν τοὺς δεξομένους τὰ χρήματα, Theophyl. The Apostle, judging by their readiness, had made this boast concerning them, supposing it was really so. That this is the sense is shewn by ἀπαρασκευάστους below, ver. 4) from last year (reff.):—and the zeal which proceeds from you (‘which has its source in you and whose influence goes forth from you:’ so ὁ ἐκ Πελοποννήσου πόλεμος, οἱ ἐκεῖθεν, and the like) stirred up the greater number of them (but not only the example of your zeal: see ch. 8:1).
3.] But (contrast, not to μέν in ver. 1, but to καυχῶμαι above; implying fear lest he should have been making a vain boast concerning them) I sent (epistolary past, as in ch. 8:18, 22) the brethren, in order that our matter of boasting concerning you (καύχημα, our whole ‘materies gloriandi,’ not =καύχησις) may not in this particular be proved empty (ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ, does not belong to καύχημα, but to κενωθῇ—‘that our boast of you, so ample and various—ch. 7:4, may not break down in this one department.’ Estius, in marg., well calls it ‘acris cum tacita laude exhortatio apostolica’); that, as I said (when? in ver. 2? or, in his boasting to the Macedonians? or, in 1Corinthians 16:1?
Most naturally, in ver. 2. If he had meant, to the Macedonians, it would probably have been λέγω, as καυχῶμαι above: if in 1Co_161Co_161Co_16, it would have been more clearly expressed.
If so, ἔλεγον refers merely to the word παρεσκ.), ye may be prepared, (see above on ver. 2),
4.] lest perchance if Macedonians should come with me (to you:—to bring me on my way, or to bear the Macedonian collection.
We may infer from this expression, that neither of the two brethren above mentioned, ch. 8:18, 22, was a Macedonian), and should find you unprepared (with your collection, see ver. 2) we (who have boasted), not to say you (who were boasted of), should be put to shame, in the matter of this confidence (respecting you. ὑπόστασις, as elsewhere in N. T. and LXX, see reff., subjective: the attempt to give it here the meaning of ‘foundation,’ ‘matter boasted of,’ as Chrys., Theophyl., Erasm., Grot., al., Rück., Olsh., is unnecessary, and has probably been induced by the gloss τῆς καυχ inserted from ch. 11:17: but see there also).
5.] I therefore (because of ver. 4) thought it necessary to exhort the brethren (Titus and the two others) that they would go before (my coming) to you, and previously prepare your long announced beneficence (i.e. long announced by me to the Macedonians, ver. 2.
εὐλογία, blessing; not used only of a blessing in words, but of one expressed by a present, as Genesis 33:11; Judges 1:15. (See Stanley.) But beware of the blunder of connecting it with εὖ and λογία, ‘a good collection.’ This sense of blessing, combined with the primitive sense, affords the Apostle an opportunity for bringing out the true spirit in which Christian gifts should be given), that this same may be ready (the construction is unusual: ταύτην refers back to εὐλ. and the inf. must have ὥστε supplied. De W. compares Hebrews 5:5. Perhaps the nearest is Colossians 4:6) in such sort as beneficence, and not as covetousness (i.e. as the fruit of blessing, poured out from a beneficent mind, not of a sparing covetous spirit which gives no more than it need. There is no need to alter the primitive meaning, or to make the word signify ‘tenacity,’ as Calv., De Wette, al.: he who defrauds the poor by stinting them πλεονεκτεῖ, in the literal sense. Still less must we with Chrys., al., refer πλεονεξ. to the Apostle,—μὴ νομίσητε, φησίν, ὅτι ὡς πλεονεκτοῦντες αὐτὴν λαμβάνομεν, Hom xix. p. 573,—which is inconsistent with the interpretation φειδομένως below, and with εὐλογίαν, the corresponding word, which applies to the spirit of the givers).
6, 7.] He enforces the last words by an assurance grounded in Scripture and partly cited from it, that as we sow, so shall we reap.
τοῦτο] Some supply φημί, as in ref.: others, as Meyer, would take it as an accus. absol., ‘as regards this,’ viz. what has gone before. But I would rather take it as an imperfect construction, in which τοῦτο is used merely to point at the sentiment which is about to follow:—But this—(is true), or But (notice) this …
ἐπʼ εὐλογίαις] with blessings: ἐπί denoting the accompanying state or circumstances, as in ref.: not, ‘with a view to blessings,’ which will not suit the second ἐπʼ εὐλ.: nor as Theophyl., Œ, and E. V. μετὰ δαψιλείας, bountifully: which gives indeed the sense, but misses the meaning of the expression: see above. It refers to the spirit of the giver, who must be ἱλαρὸς δότης, not giving murmuringly, but with blessings, with a beneficent charitable spirit: such an one shall reap also with blessings, abundant and unspeakable. The only change of meaning in the second use of the expression is that the εὐλογίαι are poured on him, whereas in the first they proceeded from him: in both cases they are the element in which he works. So, we bestow the seed, but receive the harvest. The spirit with which we sow, is of ourselves: that with which we reap, depends on the harvest. So that the change of meaning is not arbitrary, but dependent on the nature of things.
7.] Not, as Meyer and De W., a limitation of the foregoing, or else it would be expressed by some connecting particle,—but a continuation of the thought:—φειδομένως and ἐπʼ εὐλογίαις referred to the spirit of the giver; so does this verse,—ἐκ λύπης ἢ ἐξ ἀν. corresponding to φειδομένως,—ἱλαρός, to ἐπʼ εὐλογίαις.
καθὼς προῄρηται] as he hath determined in his heart; supply, ‘so let him give:’ i.e. let the προαίρεσις, the full consent of the free will, go with the gift; let it not be reluctant offering, given ἐκ λύπης, out of an annoyed and troubled mind at having the gift extorted, nor ἐξ ἀνάγκης, out of necessity,—because compelled. Such givers,—that is implied,—God does not love.
δότης is not a classical word. δότηρ, δωτήρ and (Hes. Op. 353) δώτης, are used (Meyer).
8-11.] He encourages them to a cheerful contribution by the assurance that God both can (vv. 8, 9), and will (vv. 10, 11) furnish them with the means of performing such deeds of beneficence.
8.] δυνατεῖ has the emphasis. I adopt the reading because after all it is difficult to imagine how so easy a construction as δυνατὸς ὁ θεός, should have been altered to δυνατεῖ, as Meyer supposes, or why the transcriber need have written δυνατός ἐστιν if the latter were a correction for δυνατεῖ, seeing that the verb substantive is just as frequently omitted in such clauses as inserted.
πᾶσαν χάριν, ‘etiam in bonis externis,’ Bengel,—to which here the reference is: not excluding however the wider meaning of ‘all grace.’
περισσεῦσαι, to make to abound,—reff.
ἵνα κ.τ.λ.] in order that, having at all times in every thing all sufficiency (of worldly substance; αὐτάρκ. is objective; not contentedness, subj.) ye may abound towards (‘have an overplus for;’ which is not inconsistent with αὐτάρκεια, seeing that αὐτ. does not exclude the having more, but only the having less than is sufficient: the idea of a man’s having at all times and in all things a sufficiency, would presuppose that he had somewhat to spare) every good work: 9.
9.] as it is written (i.e. fulfilling the character described in Scripture),—He scattered abroad (metaph. from seed: μετὰ δαψιλείας ἔδωκε, Chrys.), he gave to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. In what sense is δικαιοσύνη used? Clearly in the only one warranted by the context—that of ‘goodness proved by beneficence,’—‘a righteous deed, which shall not be forgotten,—as a sign of righteousness in character and conduct.’ To build any inference from the text inconsistent with the great truths respecting δικαιοσύνη ever insisted on by Paul (as Chrys., p 574, καὶ γὰρ δικαίους ποιεῖ (ἡ φιλανθρωπία), τὰ ἁμαρτήματα καθάπερ πῦρ ἀναλίσκουσα, ὅταν μετὰ δαψιλείας ἐκχέηται) is a manifest perversion.
10.] Assurance that God will do this. But (introduces the new assurance) He that ministers seed to the sower and bread for eating (in the physical world:—from ref. Isa., LXX. The Vulg., E. V., Luther, Calv., Grot., al., commit the mistake of joining κ. ἄρτον εἰς βρῶσιν with χορηγήσαι, or -ει. βρῶσις, the act of eating: not = βρῶμα), shall supply and multiply your seed (i.e. the money for you to bestow,—answering to σπέρμα τῷ σπείροντι), and will increase the fruits of your righteousness (from ref. Hos.—the everlasting reward for your bestowals in Christ’s name, as Matthew 10:42;—answering to ἄρτον εἰς βρῶσιν, which is the result of the sower’s labours).
11.] Method in which you will be thus blessed by God. In every thing being enriched (the construction is an anacoluthon, as in ref. and in ch. 1:7 al.: nothing need be supplied) unto all liberality (i.e. in order that you may shew all liberality. On ἁπλ. see note, Romans 12:8), which (of a sort which) brings about by our means (as the distributors of it) thanksgiving (from those who will receive it) to God.
12.] Explanation of the last clause. Because the ministration (not on our part who distribute, though it might at first sight seem so: the next verse decides διακονία to mean, ‘your administering by contribution,’ as in ver. 1) of this public service (λειτ. here seems to approach more nearly to its proper sense, serving the public by furnishing the means of outfit for some necessary purpose) not only serves the end of supplying by its help the wants of the saints, but of abounding (περισς. may be transitive as in ver. 8, not only filling up, but ‘causing to overflow,’ what were ὑστερήματα. But the usual intransitive sense is preferable. The emphasis is on προσαναπλ. and περισσεύουσα) by means of many thanksgivings to God (τῷ θεῷ with εὐχαρ., as in ver. 11, not with περισσεύουσα, which would not, as Meyer observes, give the sense of abounding towards God,—this would be εἰς τ. θεόν, see Romans 5:15, or εἰς τ. δόξαν τ. θεοῦ, as in ch. 4:15,—but the objection able one of περισσεύει μοί τι, as John 6:13; Luke 9:17