8:1-6 The grace of God must be owned as the root and fountain of all the good in us, or done by us, at any time. It is great grace and favour from God, if we are made useful to others, and forward to any good work. He commends the charity of the Macedonians. So far from needing that Paul should urge them, they prayed him to receive the gift. Whatever we use or lay out for God, it is only giving him what is his own. All we give for charitable uses, will not be accepted of God, nor turn to our advantage, unless we first give ourselves to the Lord. By ascribing all really good works to the grace of God, we not only give the glory to him whose due it is, but also show men where their strength is. Abundant spiritual joy enlarges men's hearts in the work and labour of love. How different this from the conduct of those who will not join in any good work, unless urged into it!
5. And this they did, not as we hoped—Translate, "And not as we hoped (that is, far beyond our hopes), but their own selves gave they first to the Lord." "First," not indicating priority of time, but first of all, above all in importance. The giving of themselves takes precedency of their other gifts, as being the motive which led them to the latter (Ro 15:16).
by the will of God—not "according to the will of God," but "moved by the will of God, who made them willing" (Php 2:13). It is therefore called (2Co 8:1), "the grace of God."