Matthew Poole's Commentary
For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:2 Corinthians 9:1-5 Paul showeth the reason why, though he knew the
forwardness of the Corinthians, he had sent the
brethren before hand to make up their collections
against his coming.
2 Corinthians 9:6-11 He stirreth them up to give bountifully and
cheerfully, as a likely means to increase their store,
2 Corinthians 9:12-15 and as productive of many thanksgivings unto God.
I should think the particle gar, here translated for, had been better translated but, as in 1 Peter 4:15, and 2 Peter 1:9, our translators do render it. So these words contain an elegant revocation of himself from the argument he had dwelt upon in the whole former chapter, and the sense amounts to this: But to what purpose do I multiply words to you, to persuade you to minister to the saints in distress? As to you, it is superfluous. By this art letting them know, that he had no doubt, but a confident expectation, concerning them; the suggesting of which hath also the force of another argument, that they might not deceive the apostle’s good opinion and confidence of them.
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.He gives them the reason why he judgeth it superfluous to write to them, because they had a forward mind of themselves, and needed not to be spurred on. This the apostle tells them that he knew, (he had told them of it, 2 Corinthians 8:10), he knew it either from themselves, or from some that came from them unto him; and he had boasted of them for this their forwardness in this good work to the churches of Macedonia.
And your zeal hath provoked very many; he tells them, that their warmth unto, and in, this work, had kindled a heat in many in those parts where he was. Having therefore been so forward in this good work, and so good instruments to kindle a heat in others, he would not have them now come behind others, or grow cold in it.
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:I did not send the brethren so much to move you to this work, or quicken you to it, for you yourselves purposed it a year ago, and showed a forwardness in it; the motion proceeded from yourselves, and you showed a readiness to it, which gave me occasion to boast of you to the churches of Macedonia; but I thought you might forget it, and I would not have
our boasting in vain on this behalf. And besides, I would have the work done, that your alms might not be to gather when I come, (as he had said, 1 Corinthians 16:2), but might be in a readiness to be taken and carried away; for that is signified here by being
ready, not that readiness of mind of which he had before spoken, and which he had before mentioned as what he had found in them.
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.For if I should come, and any of the members of the churches of Macedonia, who have heard me boasting of you as a people very forward in this charitable work, and when they are come they should find you had done nothing, only talked much of your readiness, both I should be ashamed, and you also might see some cause to blush, which I, who consult your honour and reputation equally with my own, would prevent.
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.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.
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.Whereas covetous persons think all lost which they give to charitable uses, the apostle correcteth their mistake, by letting them know, that it is no more lost than the seed is which the husbandman casteth into his ground, which bringeth forth thirty, sixty, or sometimes a hundred-fold; though with this difference, that whereas the husbandman’s crop dependeth upon the goodness and preparedness of his ground, it is not so with this spiritual crop; a man shall not reap according to the nature of the soil in which he casts his seed; for he that giveth to a prophet or to a rightcerts man, in the name of a prophet or a righteous man, (though he may be mistaken in the person to whom he so giveth), yet shall he receive the reward of a prophet and of a righteous man. But this spiritual sower shall receive according to the quantity of seed which he soweth: he that soweth niggardly and sparingly shall reap accordingly; he that soweth liberally shall reap liberally: from whence we may be confirmed, that the rewards of another life will not be equal, but bear some proportion to the good works which men have done here.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.Let not any give out of any awe of us, nor as it were forced by our authority, but as God shall put it into his heart, and as he hath purposed in himself, and is inclined from himself, without any grudging or unwillingness; not because he thinks he must give, but out of choice: for God loveth one that giveth with freedom and cheerfulness, not him that giveth as it were by constraint, or upon force; it is the will and affection of the giver, not the quantity of the gift, that God looks at. The apostle, by naming God and his acceptance in the case, lets the Corinthians know, that God was concerned in what they thus gave, it was not given to men only; according to that: He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again, Proverbs 19:17.
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:Having made God, in the verse before, a debtor to those who, by giving to poor distressed saints, would make him their creditor, he here proveth him to be no insolvent debtor, but able to do much more for them, than they in this thing should do at his command out of love to him.
He is (saith he)
able to make all grace to abound toward you: the word translated
grace, signifieth all sorts of gifts, whether of a temporal or spiritual nature; and being here applied to God, (who is the Author of all gifts), it may very properly be interpreted concerning both. God is able to repay you in temporal things what you thus lend him, and so to pay you in specie; and he is able to pay you in value, by spiritual habits and influences.
That ye, always having all sufficieney in all things, may abound to every good work; that you may have a sufficieney in all things, so as that you may abound to and in every good work.
(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.As in the former verse the apostle had asserted God’s sufficiency to repay them what they should lend him. So he here asserteth God’s readiness and willingness. This he confirmeth from a promise taken out of Psalm 112:9, where also is further added, his horn shall be exalted with honour. Concerning the merciful man, it is true that Solomon saith, Proverbs 11:24: There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth. The psalmist saith: His righteousness endureth for ever: by which term some understand his bounty or liberality: I had rather understand by it here his obedience to the command of God ht his free distribution to the poor; this remaineth in God’s book of remembrance for ever, God will not forget this labour of love, Hebrews 6:10. The friends which he maketh with his mammon of righteousness, shall receive him into everlasting habitations, Luke 16:9. A man’s riches cannot remain for ever, but his righteousness, in the distribution of them according to the command of God, that shall remain 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;)The God, whose providence and blessing maketh rich, and who giveth this seed to the sower, supply you with whatsoever you stand in need of for this life, and give you a heart to multiply that spiritual seed, by which the fruits of your righteousness shall be increased. Some Greek copies read these words in the future tense, according to which reading they are a formal promise, both of good things, whereby they might show their charity, and also of a free and large heart, disposing them to that exercise of grace. Our translators render it in the form of a prayer; which yet being the prayer of the apostle, put up in faith, doth virtually contain a promise both of a temporal and a spiritual increase.
Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.The word here translated bountifulness, signifies simplicity, in opposition to deceit and fraud. We had it before, 2 Corinthians 8:2; so Romans 12:8: so, Jam 1:5, God is said to give aplwv, simply (we translate it liberally). We have in these two chapters met with three words, by which the bounty of Christians to persons in distress is expressed; grace, blessing, simplicity, cariv, eulogia, aplothv. The first lets us know the true root of all accceptable giving to those who are in distress, that must be free love: the second expresseth the true end, blessing God and our neighbour; serving the glory and commands of God, and the necessities of our brethren: this third expresseth the manner how we must give, that is, with simplicity. It is no true liberality where simplicity is wanting, that a man doth not what he doth with a plain heart and design to obey God and do good to his brother.
Which causeth through us thanksgiving to God; as a further argument to press them to this liberality, he tells them, that it would cause them that were the apostles and ministers of Christ, to offer thanksgiving unto God.
For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;No than ought to live to himself; the two great ends of every Christian’s life ought to be, the glory of God, and the good of others, especially such as belong to the household of faith. This service (saith the apostle) serveth both those ends:
1. It supplieth the neccessities of the saints; and:
2. It causeth thanksgivings to God by many persons, and upon many accounts; which he further openeth in the following verses.
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;Whiles by the experiment of this ministration, upon their receiving of what you sent them,
they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ; they will see how ready you are to obey the gospel of Christ, (which hath in so many places called you to this duty), and this will give them occasion of blessing God, who in the day of his power hath made such a willing people, willing at God’s command, and in consideration of the love of Christ, to strip themselves to clothe his naked members, to restrain their own appetites to feed them. The grace of God bestowed on others, is matter of great thanksgiving to every gracious heart.
And for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men: another cause of thanksgiving will be God’s moving your hearts towards them; they will see reason to bless God, who hath raised them up such friends in their great straits; so as they will both bless God on your behalf, for his grace bestowed on you, that out of the Gentiles he hath picked out a people so subject to the law of his gospel; and also on their own behalf, that God hath stirred up a people to compassionate them in their deep distresses.
And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.Another way by which the glory of God will be promoted, by your simple, free, and liberal contribution, is, that by this he will have more prayers, which also will redound to your advantage, for it will procure prayers for you; and not prayers only, but a great deal of fervent love; so as they will long after your good, and after your acquaintance, when they shall receive such an experiment of
the exceeding grace of God in you.
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.Interpreters are not agreed what the apostle here meaneth by God’s
unspeakable gift. Some by it understand Christ, who is the gift of God, and the Fountain of all grace; and to this the epithet unspeakable doth best agree. Others understand the gospel, by which the hearts of men are subdued, effectually disposed, and inclined to obey the will of God. Others think it is to be understood of thai habit of brotherly love, which from the Spirit of Christ, by the gospel, was wrought in the hearts of these Corinthians. If the last be meant, (to which the most incline), the apostle declareth his firm persuasion of them, that they would obey him in this thing, and giveth God thanks for giving them such a heart. Seeing the contribution was not yet made, though a year before they had declared their readiness to it, I should rather incline to interpret it concerning Christ; and that the apostle concludeth this whole discourse about contributing to the relief of these poor members of Christ, with a general doxology, or blessing of God for Jesus Christ, who is the Author and Finisher of all grace, without such a particular reference to the preceding discourse; yet hereby hinting to them, that without the influence of his grace they would, they could do nothing.