For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:
Verse 1. - For. This word shows that he is continuing the same subject, and therefore excludes the supposition that this chapter is a separate letter or fragment. No doubt, however, the express mention of the collection after he has been practically writing about it through the whole of the last chapter looks as if he had been interrupted, or had left off dictating at the end of the last verse. Such breaks must often and necessarily have occurred in the dictation of the Epistles, and doubtless help to account for some of their phenomena. Perhaps, on reperusing the last paragraphs before resuming the subject he observed that, after all, he had not directly mentioned the contribution, and therefore explains that he thought it superfluous to do so. To the saints. The poor Christians of Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:4). Superfluous. Because the subject had been already fully brought to their notice by himself and by Titus.
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.
Verse 2. - I boast of you; literally, I am boasting. The tense shows that he is writing from Macedonia, probably from Philippi (2 Corinthians 8:24). Achaia (see 2 Corinthians 1:1). Was ready a year ago; has been prepared since last year. Your zeal hath provoked very many; literally, zeal from you hath stimulated the majority. "Zeal from you" means zeal which emanated from the Corinthians and aroused emulation in others.
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:
Verse 3. - But. Though it is needless to write to you about this collection, I sent the brethren to make sure that all I had said about you might be justified by reality. In this behalf; i.e. about this matter (comp. 2 Corinthians 3:10), or, as we might express it, "in this direction." He seems to have felt more uncertainty about their liberality than about other matters (2 Corinthians 7:4).
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.
Verse 4. - They of Macedonia; rather, Macedonians; i.e. any friends from Macedonia (Acts 20:4). Shall Achaians have to blush before Macedonians? We, that we say not ye. Nothing can exceed the delicacy of this touch. St. Paul asks them to be ready with their contributions for his sake, not for their own; that he may not have to blush for his generous words respecting them, whereas really the discredit would be simply theirs. Confident boasting; rather, confidence. The reading "of boasting" is not genuine here. For the word hypostasis in the sense of "confidence," see 2 Corinthians 11:17; Hebrews 3:4. The use of the word to represent the "Persons" of the Blessed Trinity is later. The other sense of the word, "substance" (or underlying base of attributes), is found in Hebrews 1:3.
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.
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.
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
Verse 6. - But this I say. The Greek only has "But this." The ellipse can hardly be "I say." It is an accusative used absolutely - "as to their." Compare "But one thing" (Philippians 3:14). Shall reap also sparingly. In the Greek the more emphatic order is "sparingly also shall reap." The metaphor of the harvest implies that the more generous the gift the richer will be the return; and that "withholding more than is meet" will only tend to poverty (Proverbs 11:24, 25; Proverbs 19:17; Proverbs 22:9). (For "sowing" and "reaping" in this connection, comp. 1 Corinthians 9:11.) Bountifully; literally, with blessings; Vulgate, in benedictionibus (comp. Galatians 6:7, 8). Bountifulness blesses both him that gives and him that takes.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
Verse 7. - In his heart. The heart must not only go with but anticipate the hand. Grudgingly; literally, from grief (Exodus 25:2; Romans 12:8). A cheerful giver. The phrase is from the addition to Proverbs 22:8, which is found in the LXX.; except that "loveth" is substituted for "blesseth." Compare "He that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness" (Romans 12:8). The rabbis said that cheerful kindness, even if nothing was given, was better than a morose gift.
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:
Verse 8. - To make all grace abound toward you. God can give you such abundant gifts that you will not feel the loss of a generous contribution to his service. Sufficiency. The word autarkeia (1 Timothy 6:6) in the Stoic philosophy was used for the perfect independence which enabled a man to stand alone. The term is here softened and Christianized to express the contentment which arises from the full supply of all our needs by God. The affirmations of the original are as emphatic as language can make them. They express that the man who places all his trust upon God will be "perfect and entire, lacking nothing" (Philippians 4:11, 19).
(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
Verse 9. - As it is written. The quotation is from the LXX. in Psalm 112:9. He hath dispersed abroad. He has been a large and generous giver. The poor. The word here used is penes, which does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It means moderato and honourable poverty, whereas in classical Greek ptocheia implies disreputable pauperism and mendicancy (comp. 2 Corinthians 8:9). His righteousness. Meaning here his good deeds. The word is often rendered "pity" by the LXX. (eleemosune, from which word comes our "alms"), and this word occurs as a synonymous reading in Matthew 6:1. Remaineth forever. Because -
"Good deeds never die.
They with the sun and moon renew their light,
Forever blessing him that looks on them."
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;)
Verse 10. - He that ministereth. The verb used is epichoregein, to furnish abundantly. At Athens a choragus was one who furnished a chorus, and as this was a leitourgia (or "public service"), involving great expense, and often discharged with extreme munificence, the verb came to imply "provide abundantly." St. Paul may (so to speak) have "picked up the word" at Athens. Seed to the sower (Isaiah 55:10). Both minister. The true reading almost certainly is "will both supply bread for food, and will multiply your seed for sowing, and will increase the fruits of your righteousness" (see Isaiah 55:10, LXX.). The fruits of your righteousness (Hosea 10:12, LXX.). In "righteousness," as in all things else, it is God only who "gives the increase" (1 Corinthians 3:10).
Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
Verse 11. - To all bountifulness; rather, to all simplicity, or "singleness of heart" (2 Corinthians 8:2). Through us. We are the agents in collecting and distributing your gifts (2 Corinthians 8:19, 20). Thanksgiving to God. From the recipients of your single-hearted generosity.
For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
Verse 12. - For the administration of this service. The word "liturgy," here rendered "service," is used in the same connection in Romans 15:27. Generally it means "religious service" (Acts 13:6; Philippians 2:17; Hebrews 10:11). Here it more resembles its classic sense of "a public office discharged for the good of the state," such as undertaking the office of a choragus (see ver. 10). Not only. St. Paul is anxious to emphasize the religious side of the contribution fully as much as its philanthropic object. Is abundant. It overflows as it were in the form of thanksgivings to Galatians
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;
Verse 13. - By the experiment of this ministration; rather, by the test (of your love) furnished by this ministration (2 Corinthians 8:2). For your professed subjection; literally, for the submission of your confession to the gospel of Christ. And for your liberal distribution unto them; rather, and for the simplicity of your fellowship towards them. A large contribution would prove two things; namely,
(1) that the Corinthians showed due subjection to the truths and duties which they theoretically accepted as resulting from the gospel; and
(2) that they were united to their Jewish-Christian brethren and to all others in single-hearted fellowship. It is very doubtful whether haplotes ever means "liberality," and koinonia is here better understood of "communion" than of "communication." Unto all men. For if the Corinthians behaved with such brotherly kindness to the once-despised Jews, who were now their Christian brethren, they would be not likely to refuse fellowship with any others.
And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
Verse 14. - And by their prayer for you. These words are joined by our Authorized Version with "glorifying God." The saints at Jerusalem would, in consequence of the proved sincerity of the Corinthians, glorify God with thanksgiving for their faithfulness and kindness, by prayer for them. The Revisers take the clause with the following participle, "while they themselves also, with supplication on your behalf, long after you by reason of the exceeding grace of God in you." This is the only right view of the construction. Long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you; literally, yearn for you because of the grace of God which overabounds to you.
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
Verse 15. - Thanks be unto God. Nothing ever seems so much to disburden the full heart of St. Paul after deep emotion as an utterance of thanksgiving (Romans 7:25; Romans 9:5; Romans 11:33; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Galatians 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:17). The thanksgiving here is like a great sigh of relief. The subject of it is perfectly general. It is not a mere "Amen" uttered, as it were, by St. Paul at the end of the thanksgivings of the saints at Jerusalem which he has been presupposing; but an offering of thanks to God for the issues of grace in general, all summed up in one act of "inestimable love" (John 3:16; Romans 6:23; Romans 11:33; Ephesians 3:19).