2 Corinthians 9
ICC New Testament Commentary
For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:
9:1. Here again (see on 7:1) the division between the chapters is not well placed. As the γάρ shows, 9:1 is closely connected with what precedes. The Apostle continues to make arrangements respecting the collection. He has assumed all along that what has been begun will not be allowed to drop, and he has suggested reasons for a liberal contribution. He now begs them, whether they give much or little, to have all in readiness before he himself arrives.

As in the case of 6:14-7:1, we have again to consider the hypothesis that a fragment of another letter has somehow or other been inserted here. It is urged that 9:1 does not explain 8:24, and therefore the γάρ cannot refer to 8:24, and that in 9. we have repetitions of things which have been already said in viii. Repetitions in letters are common enough, especially when the writer is very much in earnest and has to feel his way with caution. “The tautological urgency of the appeal does not show a plurality of epistles, but a lack of certainty as to the result” (Reuss). The γάρ, as we shall see, is very intelligible. Indeed, if the division between the chapters had not been so misplaced, no one would have proposed to separate 9:1-5 from 8:16-24. Schmiedel divides the paragraphs between 8:23 and 24, giving 24 to what follows.* Hypotheses of stray leaves from other documents being imbedded in N.T. writings are to be received with much scepticism, unless they are supported by strong external evidence, as in the case of Joh_7:53-11. Some critics suggest that it is ch. 8. that has been interpolated. But there is no evidence in any MS., or version, or series of quotations, that ii Corinthians ever existed without 8. or without 9. Cyprian quotes from both, and commentators, both Greek and Latin, comment on both without betraying doubt about the genuineness of either. It will be found that 9. helps us to understand 8. See Massie, pp. 60, 61.

1. Περὶ μὲν γὰρ τῆς διακονίας εἰς τοὺς ἁγίους. The μέν anticipates δέ in v. 3; the γάρ looks back to the conclusion of 8. Cf. 1 Corinthians 11:5, 1 Corinthians 12:8. ‘I have commended the envoys to you rather than commanded you to give (8:8), for, with regard to the ministration to the saints, in the first place (μέν) it is superfluous for me to be writing (pres. not aor.) to you.’ The similar statements in 1 Thessalonians 4:9 and 5:1 should be compared; also 4:13. For διακονία εἰς τ̔ ἁγ see on 8:4. In neither place does the εἰς limit the ministration to the transmission of the money. C, Arm. omit γάρ as unintelligible.

περισσόν μοί ἐστιν. Ex abundanti est mihi scribere vobis (Vulg.); better, supervacaneum est. We often do this; especially in cases in which we are deeply interested. We begin, ‘I need not say’; and immediately we do say, perhaps at some length: σοφῶς δὲ τοῦτο ποιεῖ, ὥστε μᾶλλον αὐτοὺς ἐπισπάσασθαι (Chrys.). On the art. with γράφειν see Blass, § 71. 2, and comp. 7:11; Php 2:6, Php 4:10.

2. οἶδα γὰρ τὴν προθυμίαν ὑμῶν. He has stated that he knows that they thought of doing something and began to do something in the previous year, and he assumes that they are still anxious to do something; solet enim se meliorem praebere ille, de quo bene sentitur ab alio (Herveius). But we are not to suppose that St Paul deliberately gave the Corinthians praise which he knew that they did not deserve, in order to induce them to be liberal; still less that this is a right thing to do.

ἥν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν καυχῶμαι Μακέδοσιν. ‘Of which I am continually glorying on your behalf to the Macedonians.’ He is staying in Macedonia, and habitually praises the Corinthians to them. As Theodoret remarks, Διὰ μὲν Κορινθίων τοὺς Μακεδόνας, δὶα δὲ Μακεδόνων τοὺς Κορινθίους, ἐπὶ τὴν ἀγαθὴν ἐργασίαν προέτρεψεν. It would be grievous indeed, if the Corinthians now failed to imitate the Macedonians, to whom the Corinthians had been held up as a pattern. ‘See that you who taught them do not fall behind your own disciples.’ Καυχῶμαι with acc. of the thing gloried in is not rare (7:14, 10:8, 11:30). Often in Paul καυχῶμαι is used in a good sense, not merely when the glorying is in God or in Christ (Romans 5:11, Romans 5:15:17; 1 Corinthians 1:31; etc.), but also when it is in men (here, 7:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; Php 2:16). The Apostle also glories in his own infirmities and afflictions (12:9; Romans 5:3). Here he seems to have some misgivings as to whether he may not have praised the Corinthians to the Macedonians somewhat too warmly. The report which Titus brought from Corinth had delighted him so greatly, that his glorying about the collection may have been somewhat in excess of the facts.

Ἁχαῒα παρεσκεύασται ἀπὸ πέρυσι. He is quoting what he says to the Macedonians; ‘Achaia has been prepared since last year’ (see on 8:10). As in 1:1, ‘Achaia’ probably means Corinth and the neighbouring district; he purposely includes Christians outside Corinth, perhaps to avoid exaggeration. Corinth had done something the previous year, but apparently not very much.

τὸ ὑμῶν ζῆλος. Again we have the Pauline arrangement of ὑμῶν between art. and noun; cf. 1:6, 7:7, 15, 8:13, 14, etc. In N.T., as in LXX and in class. Grk., ζῆλος is usually masc., but here and Php 3:6 the neut. form is well attested. It is found also in Ign. Tral. 4. Clem. Rom. Cor. 3-6 uses both masc. and neut. indifferently. Here the meaning is uncertain, but ‘your zeal’ is more probable than ‘emulation of you,’ guae ex vobis est aemulatio (Aug.).

ἠρέθισε. ‘Stimulated.’ In Colossians 3:21, the only other place in N.T. in which the verb occurs, it is used in a bad sense, ‘provoke,’ ‘irritate.’ In LXX and in class. Grk. the latter sense prevails. ‘Provoke’ has both meanings, but commonly the bad one. Aldis Wright (Bible Word Book, p. 482) gives examples of the good meaning.

τό (א B 17) rather than ό (C D F G K L P). ὑμῶν (א B C P f Vulg. Copt. Arm.) rather than ἐξ ὑμῶν (D E F G K L, d e Goth.).

3. ἔπεμψα δὲ τοὺς ἀδελφούς. ‘In the second place (δέ) I am sending (epistolary aor., as in 8:17, 18, 22) the brethren,’ viz. Titus and his two colleagues.* The δέ corresponds to the μέν in v. 1. He need not urge them to give; he is sending these three to organize their giving. D E, Copt, have ἐπέμψαμεν.

ἴνα μὴ τὸ καύχημα ἡμῶν. ‘That our glorying on your behalf may not be made void in this particular.’ He had praised the Corinthians for many good qualities, and he does not want his boast to be proved an empty one in the matter of the relief-fund. He is not afraid that they will refuse to give, but he is afraid that they may be dilatory for want of organization. It will produce a bad impression if the money is not ready when it is wanted. He carefully limits his anxiety to ‘this particular.’

ἵνα καθὼς ἔλεγον παρ. ἦτε. ‘That, just as I repeatedly said (to the Macedonians) you may be prepared.’ The second ἴνα is co-ordinate with the first; cf. Galatians 3:14.

4. ἐὰν ἔλθωσιν σὺν ἐμοὶ Μακεσόνες. The brethren who go with Titus may or may not have been Macedonians. Their finding the collection not yet complete does not matter so much. But it will look very badly, when St Paul comes to fetch the money, if Macedonians come with him and find that very little has been collected. There is nothing here to show that the situation is different from that in viii, —that there St Paul is not coming to Corinth very soon, and that here he is coming very soon.

ἀπαρασκευάστους. A late and rare form, here only in N.T. The usual form is ἀπαράσκευος. Neither word occurs in LXX.

καταισχυνθῶμεν ἡμεῖς. He puts his own shame first; but of course the disgrace would be theirs rather than his. He asks them to spare him, which is a better plea than appealing to their own interests, which are just touched parenthetically. Multa confusio est, si pro te qui te diligit erubescat (Pseudo-Primasius). ‘We, to say nothing of you, should be put to shame’ (7:14; Romans 10:11). See Index IV.

ἐν τῇ ὑποστάσει ταύτῃ. The word has a very varied history, but only one or two points need be noted here. From meaning ‘standing ground’ or ‘foundation’ it comes to mean ‘ground of hope or confidence’ (Ruth 1:12; Ezekiel 19:5), and hence ‘hope’ or ‘confidence.’ In LXX it represents fifteen different Hebrew words. In Hebrews 3:14 (see Westcott) it means the resolute confidence which resists all attack. Here it means the Apostle’s confidence in the character of his converts. They must not make people think that he has been too sure of them. Cf. 11:17; Hebrews 11:1. In this verse St Paul makes it quite clear that he means to visit Corinth again.

λέγωμεν (א B C 2 L P, f Vulg. Syrr. Copt.) rather than λέγω (C * D F G, d e g), After ταύτῃ, א c Dc E K L P, Syrr. Arm. Goth. add τῆς καυχήσεως from 11:17. א * B C D * G 17, 67 * *, Latt. Copt. omit.

5. προέλθωσιν … προκαταρτίσωσι τὴν προεπηγγελμένην εὐλογίαν. ‘To go to you before me and get into order before I come the bounty which was promised before (Romans 1:2).’ In this way, or by having ‘in advance’ in all three places, the repetition, which is no doubt deliberate, may be preserved in English. See on 13:2. It is not quite clear that the participle means promised long before’ by the Corinthians. It might mean ‘announced long before’ by St Paul. With ἀναγκαῖον ἡγησάμην comp. 2 Macc. 9:21.

εὐλογίαν. From being used of good words it comes to mean good deeds; from men blessing God and one another and God blessing men it comes to mean a concrete blessing or benefit, whether bestowed by men or by God (Jdg 1:15; Ezekiel 34:26). Here it means a benefit bestowed by men on men. What the Corinthians give will be a blessing to the Jerusalem poor (Genesis 33:11; Joshua 15:19). He is not hinting that liberal giving will bring a blessing to them in this life or will be rewarded in the next; he is thinking of the good done to the recipients. In Romans 16:18 εὐλογία has the rare sense of ‘flattering speech.’ It is remarkable that St Paul, who uses so many words in connexion with this benevolence to poor Christians, κοινωνία, διακονία, χάρις, ἁδρότης, λειτουργία and εὐλογία, nowhere speaks of it as φιλανθρωπία: that word he uses of God’s love to man (Titus 3:4). Luke has it of man’s love to man (Acts 28:2).*

ὡς εὐλογίαν καὶ μὴ ὡς πλεονεξίαν. Here RV. makes a change for the worse. ‘As a matter of bounty, not of covetousness’ (AV), is better than ‘not of extortion’ (RV). In the next verse φειδομένως as well as ἐπʼ εὐλογίαις applies to the Corinthians, and φειδομένως is parallel to ὡς πλεονεξίαν as ἐπʼ εὐλογίαις is to ὡς εὐλογίαν. ‘Not of extortion’ makes πλεονεξία apply to the Apostle and his three envoys; ‘that this might be ready, because you are so willing to give, and not because we force you to do so.’ The meaning rather is ‘that this may be ready as a generous gift and not as a grudging contribution.’ Πλεονεξία is “The disposition which is ever ready to sacrifice one’s neighbour to oneself in all things” (Lightfoot on Romans 1:29). It has therefore a much wider sweep than φιλαργυρία (Trench, Syn. § 24), and in the case of giving it means keeping for one’s own use what one ought to bestow on others. That is the meaning here.† But Chrysostom and Beza (ut extortum aliquid) take it as RV.

εἰς ὑμᾶς (א C K L) rather than πρὸς ὑμᾶς (B D F G).προεπηγγελμένην (א B C D F G P) rather than προκατηγγελμένην (K L). The καί before μὴ ὡς is probably original; but א* F G, Latt. omit. D E gave καί although d e omit.

9:6-15. Give Liberally and Cheerfully, for Your Own Sakes and for the Sake of the Whole Church.

6 Now remember this sure law; He who sows sparingly, sparingly shall also reap, and he who sows on principles of bounty, on principles of bounty shall also reap. 7 Let each man give just what he has resolved in his mind to give, neither impulsively, because he takes no thought, nor regretfully, because he thinks that he cannot avoid giving. It is one who gives joyously that God loves and blesses. 8 Do not regard this as an impossible standard. God can and will help you to attain to it. He can shower earthly blessings in abundance upon you; and so, when you find that on all occasions you have all sufficiency in all things, you will have abundant means for accomplishing all kinds of good work. 9 This is exactly what stands written about the charitable man in Scriptur

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.
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:
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.
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.
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
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:
(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth 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;)
Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
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;
And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
ICC New Testament commentary on selected books

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