Expositor's Greek Testament
For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:2 Corinthians 9:1-5. HE IS CONFIDENT OF THEIR READINESS TO GIVE; BUT TITUS AND HIS COMPANIONS HAVE BEEN SENT ON, THAT THE COLLECTION MAY BE READY WHEN HE ARRIVES AT CORINTH.
2 Corinthians 9:1. περὶ μὲν γὰρ κ.τ.λ.: for concerning the ministration to the saints, i.e., the collection (see on 2 Corinthians 8:4), it is superfluous (cf. 2Ma 12:44) for me to write, sc., this letter (note the force of the art. before γράφειν), to you, who “were the first to make a beginning” (2 Corinthians 8:10). Cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:9.
For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.2 Corinthians 9:2. οἷδα γὰρ τὴν προθ. κ.τ.λ.: for I know your readiness, of which I glory (for constr. cf. 2 Corinthians 11:30, Proverbs 27:1) on your behalf (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:14) to the Macedonians, that Achaia (not ὑμεῖς, he reports the actual words in which he made his boast; for “Achaia” see on 2 Corinthians 1:1) has been prepared since last year (see on 2 Corinthians 8:10 above), i.e., to make its contribution. It would seem that the Apostle feared that he had somewhat overstated the case, as he is evidently anxious about the Corinthian collection. The use of the present tense, καυχῶμαι Μακεδόσιν, shows that he is writing from Macedonia (see Introd., p. 12).—καὶ τὸ ὑμῶν ζῆλος κ.τ.λ.: and your zeal (see on 2 Corinthians 7:7) has provoked the majority of them (see on 2 Corinthians 2:6), sc., to contribute (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:10).
Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:2 Corinthians 9:3. ἔπεμψα δὲ τοὺς ἀδ. κ.τ.λ. but (the δέ corresponding to μέν of 2 Corinthians 9:1) I have sent (the epistolary aorist; cf. 2 Corinthians 8:18) the brethren (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:16-22), that our glorying on your behalf may not be made void (cf. esp. 1 Corinthians 9:15) in this respect, i.e., in the matter of actually gathering the money, as distinct from their general readiness to be liberal (2 Corinthians 8:10), in order that, even as I said, sc., to the Macedonians to whom he had repeatedly boasted of Corinthian generosity (2 Corinthians 9:2), ye may be prepared.
Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.2 Corinthians 9:4. μή πως ἐὰν ἔλθωσι κ.τ.λ.: lest by any means, if there come with me any of Macedonia (not “they of Macedonia,” as A.V.; it is probably a fair inference from this verse that the unnamed “brethren” of 2 Corinthians 8:18; 2 Corinthians 8:22 were not Macedonians), and find you unprepared, i.e., with the collection still incomplete, we—that we say not, ye (which is what he really wishes to convey to them)—should be put to shame in this confidence, i.e., should be shamed because of our exaggerated statements. ὑπόστασις = substratum or substance (Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 11:1) is sometimes used in the LXX as = “ground of hope” (Ruth 1:12, Psalm 38:6, Ezekiel 19:5), and thus it came to mean “confidence,” as here (see reff.).
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 covetousness.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.).
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.2 Corinthians 9:6-11. LIBERAL GIVING IS BLESSED OF GOD.
2 Corinthians 9:6. τοῦτο δὲ, ὁ σπείρων κ.τ.λ.: but (sc., although I am not pressing you to give, cf. 2 Corinthians 9:1) this I say (understanding φημι; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:29; 1 Corinthians 15:50), He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he that soweth bountifully (lit., “on the principle of bounties”; cf. 1 Corinthians 9:10, ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι, for a similar dative of condition) shall also reap bountifully. A similar principle of spiritual husbandry is laid down in Proverbs 11:24-25, where its application is plainly to the temporal prosperity of the “liberal soul”; cf. also Luke 6:38. Here, too, this is, no doubt, the main thought (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:14); but St. Paul elsewhere extends the principle to the future harvest which each soul shall reap according to its sowing (Galatians 6:7; cf. chap. 2 Corinthians 5:10).
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.2 Corinthians 9:7. ἕκαστος καθὼς κ.τ.λ.: let each man give (understanding διδότω) according as he hath purposed (note the perf.; he implies that they had already made up their minds to give. προαίρεσις is Aristotle’s formal word in Nic. Eth., iii. 3.19, for a free act of moral choice) in his heart (cf. Exodus 25:2, “of every man whose heart maketh him willing, ye shall take my offering”); not grudgingly or of necessity, for “God loveth a cheerful giver”. In this quotation from Proverbs 22:8, St. Paul substitutes (perhaps to avoid the cognate of εὐλογία) ἀγαπᾷ for εὐλογεῖ, the LXX reading as it has come down to us, but the sense is not altered. The duty of almsgiving played a large part in Hebrew ethics, and that it should be carried out ungrudgingly is often insisted on in the O.T. and Apocrypha, a point specially to be emphasised in the case of a people who have always had the repute of being over-fond of money—e.g., “Thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him” (Deuteronomy 15:10); “Let not thine eye be envious” (Tob 4:7); “In every gift show a cheerful countenance” (Sir 35:9). These precepts St. Paul commends to the Corinthians (cf. Romans 12:8). (Note that the practice of having “all things common,” which was initiated by the enthusiasm of the first converts (Acts 4:32 ff.), did not last long; it was a noble attempt to express in outward deed the brotherhood of men as revealed in the Incarnation, but was, in fact, impracticable).
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:2 Corinthians 9:8. δυνατεῖ δὲ ὁ Θεὸς κ.τ.λ.: and God is powerful (see reff. 2 Corinthians 13:3) to make all grace, i.e., every gift, temporal as well as spiritual, abound unto you (see reff. 2 Corinthians 4:15 for περισσεύω in a transitive signification), in order that ye, having always all sufficiency, sc., of worldly goods and gifts (for πᾶσαν see reff. 2 Corinthians 8:7). may abound unto every good work. Note the paronomasia, ἐν παντὶ, πάντοτε, πᾶσαν … περισσεύητε … πᾶν.
(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.2 Corinthians 9:9-10 are parenthetical, containing an illustrative quotation and its application.
2 Corinthians 9:9. καθὼς γέγραπται “Ἐσκόρπισεν κ.τ.λ.: as it is written, sc., in the words of Scripture (perhaps the quotation was suggested by the image of sowing and reaping which recalled the word ἐσκόρπισεν), “He, sc., the liberal man, hath scattered abroad (cf. Proverbs 11:24), he hath given to the poor, his righteousness, i.e., his beneficence (as at Matthew 6:1; St. Paul, when using his own words, never uses δικαιοσύνη in this old Hebrew sense), endureth for ever.”
Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)2 Corinthians 9:10. ὁ δὲ ἐπιχορηγῶν “σπέρμα τῷ σπείροντι κ.τ.λ.: and he that supplieth “seed to the sower and bread for food,” shall supply and multiply your seed, i.e., your means of giving, for sowing (the A. V. not only follows the inferior reading, but conceals the quotation from Isaiah 55:10), and increase (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:6 for the trans, use of f1αὐξάνω) the “fruits” of your “righteousness,” i.e., of your beneficence, as in the preceding verse. The phrase γενήματα δικαιοσύνης in ref. Hosea may be illustrated by τὸ γένημα τῆς ἀμπέλου, “the fruit of the vine” in the Gospels (e.g., Mark 14:25). This verse is the application, as it were, of the quotation in 2 Corinthians 9:9, the connecting link being the word δικαιοσύνη.
Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.2 Corinthians 9:11. He now resumes the general subject of 2 Corinthians 9:8, ἐν παντὶ πλουτιζόμενοι here being in apposition with ἐν παντὶ … ἔχοντες there; there is thus no necessity to treat πλουτιζ. as a nom. pendens.—ἐν παντὶ πλουτιζόμενοι κ.τ.λ.: ye being enriched in everything unto all, i.e., all kinds of, liberality, which worketh through us (he goes on in the next verse to explain how this is) thanksgiving unto God; cf. 2 Corinthians 1:11, 2 Corinthians 4:15.
For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;2 Corinthians 9:12-15. LIBERAL GIVING WILL CALL FORTH THE BLESSINGS OF THE RECIPIENTS.
2 Corinthians 9:12. ὅτι ἡ διακ. τῆς λειτ. κ.τ.λ.: for the ministration of this service (λειτουργία, which originally stood for any public service, came to be restricted to the service of God; λειτουργέω is used in Romans 15:27 of this very contribution; cf. Numbers 8:22, Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:21) is not only filling up (note the constr. ἐστι with a participle) the wants of the saints, but is abounding also through many thanksgivings unto God (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:15).
Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;2 Corinthians 9:13. διὰ τῆς δοκιμῆς τῆς διακ. κ.τ.λ.: inasmuch as they, i.e., the Judæan Christians, through the proof, sc., of you, afforded by this ministration (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:2 for a similar gen. after δοκιμή), glorify God (cf. Matthew 5:16, 1 Peter 2:12) for the obedience of your confession in regard to the Gospel of Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:12). The sentence is an anacoluthon; δοξάζοντες cannot be taken as in apposition with πλουτιζόμενοι of 2 Corinthians 9:11, for the persons referred to are different. It would be grammatically admissible to take δοξάζ. τὸν Θεὸν with εἰς τὸ εὐαγγ. τοῦ Χρ., but the order of words and the sense both support the connexion ὁμολογίας εἰς κ.τ.λ. Of the A.V. “by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ” Lightfoot truly remarks that “a concurrence of Latinisms obscures the sense and mars the English”. The contribution of money for the relief of the Christian poor is a ὁμολογία, inasmuch as it is the manifestation to the world of belief in Christ’s Gospel; ὁμολοία is a “confession” or “vow,” and so (as in Deuteronomy 12:17, Amos 4:5) = “a free will offering”.—καὶ ἁπλότητι τῆς κοινωνίας κ.τ.λ.: and for the liberality of your contribution unto them and unto all. This would suggest that the rich Corinthian Church had been liberal to other Churches besides that of Jerusalem, but we have no knowledge of anything of the sort.
And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.2 Corinthians 9:14. καὶ αὐτῶν δεήσει κ.τ.λ. This is again an independent sentence, beginning with a gen. abs.: while they also, with supplication on your behalf, long after you (sc., apparently, long to see you) by reason of the exceeding grace of God upon you: i.e., you have the prayers of those whom you are helping, who feel the yearnings of affection for their benefactors in whom the working of God’s grace has been so signally displayed.
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.2 Corinthians 9:15. χαρὶς τῷ Θεῷ κ.τ.λ.: thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. δωρεά is always in the N.T. (see reff., etc.) used of the gifts of God, not of men; and the “unspeakable” gift (cf. Romans 11:33, Ephesians 3:20) for which the Apostle bursts out here into a characteristic doxology is the gift of Christ Himself (John 3:16) and of salvation in Him, thankful appreciation of which had borne such fruit in Christian lives.
III. The Vindication of his Apostolic Authority. It would appear that while Titus had brought favourable news as to the loyalty with which the Corinthians had received St. Paul’s message of reproof in the matter of the incestuous person (2 Corinthians 7:9-11), he had also brought distressing intelligence as to the depreciation of the Apostle’s authority by certain active Judaisers at Corinth. The case is so serious that it requires immediate attention, and the third (and last) section of the latter is occupied with St. Paul’s reply in vindication of his claims. See Introd., p. 22.