2 Corinthians 8

CHAPTER VIII.

The apostle stirs them up to make a collection for the poor

Christians at Jerusalem, by the very liberal contributions of

the people of Macedonia for the same purpose, who were

comparatively a poor people, 1-5.

He tells them that he had desired Titus to finish this good

work among them which he had begun; hoping that as they

abounded in many excellent gifts and graces, they would abound

in this also, 6-8.

He exhorts them to this by the example of Jesus Christ, who,

though rich, subjected himself to voluntary poverty, that they

might be enriched, 9.

He shows them that this contribution, which had been long ago

begun, should have been long since finished, 10.

And that they should do every thing with a ready and willing

mind, according to the ability which God had given them; that

abundance should not prevail on one hand, while pinching

poverty ruled on the other; but that there should be an

equality, 11-14.

He shows from the distribution of the manna in the wilderness,

that the design of God was, that every member of his spiritual

household should have the necessaries of life, 15.

He tells them that he had now sent Titus, and another with him,

to Corinth, to complete this great work, 16-22.

The character which he gives of Titus and the others employed

in this business, 23, 24.

NOTES ON CHAP. VIII.

Verse 1. Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit] In all our

dignified version very few ill-constructed sentences can be found;

however here is one, and the worst in the book. We do you to wit

is in the original γνωριζομενδευμιν, we make known unto you.

This is plain and intelligible, the other is not so; and the form

is now obsolete.

The grace of God bestowed] Dr. Whitby has made it fully

evident that the χαριςθεου signifies the charitable contribution

made by the Churches in Macedonia, to which they were excited by

the grace or influence of God upon their hearts; and that

δεδομενηνεν cannot signify bestowed on, but given in. That

χαρις means liberality, appears from 2Co 8:6:

We desired Titus that as he had begun, so he would finish την

ξαρινταυτην, this charitable contribution. And 2Co 8:7:

That ye abound ενταυτητηχαριτι, in this liberal contribution.

And 2Co 8:19: Who was chosen of the Church to travel with us συν

τηχαριτιταυτη, with this charitable contribution, which is

administered-which is to be dispensed, by us. So 2Co 9:8:

God is able to make πασανχαριν, all liberality, to abound

towards you. And 1Co 16:3:

To bring τηνχαριν, your liberality, to the poor saints. Hence

χαρις, is by Hesychius and Phavorinus interpreted a gift, as

it is here by the apostle: Thanks be to God for his unspeakable

gift, 2Co 9:15.

This charity is styled the grace of God, either from its exceeding

greatness, (as the cedars of God and mountains of God signify

great cedars and great mountains, Ps 36:6; 80:10;) or rather, it

is called so as proceeding from God, who is the dispenser of all

good, and the giver of this disposition; for the motive of charity

must come from him. So, in other places, the zeal of God, Ro 10:2;

the love of God, 2Co 5:14;

the grace of God, Tit 2:11.

The Churches of Macedonia] These were Philippi, Thessalonica,

Berea, &c.

Verse 2. In a great trial of affliction] The sense of this

verse is the following: The Macedonians, though both poor and

persecuted, rejoiced exceedingly that an opportunity was afforded

them of doing good to their more impoverished and more persecuted

brethren. We can scarcely ever speak of poverty and affliction in

an absolute sense; they are only comparative. Even the poor are

called to relieve those who are poorer than themselves; and the

afflicted, to comfort those who are more afflicted than they are.

The poor and afflicted Churches of Macedonia felt this duty, and

therefore came forward to the uttermost of their power to relieve

their more impoverished and afflicted brethren in Judea.

Verse 3. For to their power, &c.] In their liberality they

had no rule but their ability; they believed they were bound to

contribute all they could; and even this rule they transgressed,

for they went beyond their power-they deprived themselves for a

time of the necessaries of life, in order to give to others who

were destitute even of necessaries.

Verse 4. Praying us with much entreaty] We had not to solicit

them to this great act of kindness; they even entreated us to

accept their bounty, and to take on ourselves the administration

or application of it to the wants of the poor in Judea.

Verse 5. Not as we hoped] They far exceeded our expectations,

for they consecrated themselves entirely to the work of God;

giving themselves and all they possessed first unto the Lord; and

then, as they saw that it was the will of God that they should

come especially forward in this charitable work, they gave

themselves to us, to assist to the uttermost in providing relief

for the suffering Christians in Judea.

Verse 6. That we desired Titus] Titus had probably laid the

plan of this contribution when he was before at Corinth, according

to the direction given by the apostle, 1Co 16:1, &c.

The same grace] Liberality. See Clarke on 2Co 8:1.

Verse 7. As ye abound in every thing]

See Clarke on 1Co 1:5.

In faith, crediting the whole testimony of God; in utterance,

λογω, in doctrine, knowing what to teach: knowledge of God's

will, and prudence to direct you in teaching and doing it; in

diligence, to amend all that is wrong among you, and to do what is

right; and in love to us, whom now ye prize as the apostles of the

Lord, and your pastors in him.

Abound in this grace also.] Be as eminent for your charitable

disposition as ye are for your faith, doctrine, knowledge,

diligence, and love.

Verse 8. I speak not by commandment] I do not positively

order this; I assume no right or authority over your property;

what you devote of your substance to charitable purposes must be

your own work, and a free-will offering.

The forwardness of others] Viz. the Churches of Macedonia,

which had already exerted themselves so very much in this good

work. And the apostle here intimates that he takes this

opportunity to apprise them of the zeal of the Macedonians, lest

those at Corinth, who excelled in every other gift, should be

outdone in this. Their own honour, if better motives were absent,

would induce them to exert themselves, that they might not be

outdone by others. And then, as they had professed great love for

the apostle, and this was a service that lay near his heart, they

would prove the sincerity of that professed love by a liberal

contribution for the afflicted and destitute Jewish Christians.

Verse 9. For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ] This

was the strongest argument of all; and it is urged home by the

apostle with admirable address.

Ye know] Ye are acquainted with God's ineffable love in

sending Jesus Christ into the world; and ye know the grace-the

infinite benevolence of Christ himself.

That, though he was rich] The possessor, as he was the

creator, of the heavens and the earth; for your sakes he became

poor-he emptied himself, and made himself of no reputation, and

took upon himself the form of a servant, and humbled himself unto

death, even the death of the cross; that ye, through his

poverty-through his humiliation and death, might be rich-might

regain your forfeited inheritance, and be enriched with every

grace of his Holy Spirit, and brought at last to his eternal

glory.

If Jesus Christ, as some contend, were only a mere man, in what

sense could he be said to be rich? His family was poor in

Bethlehem; his parents were very poor also; he himself never

possessed any property among men from the stable to the cross;

nor had he any thing to bequeath at his death but his peace. And

in what way could the poverty of one man make a multitude rich?

These are questions which, on the Socinian scheme, can never be

satisfactorily answered.

Verse 10. Herein I give my advice] For I speak not by way of

commandment, 2Co 8:8.

For this is expedient for you] It is necessary you should do

this to preserve a consistency of conduct; for ye began this work

a year ago, and it is necessary that ye should complete it as soon

as possible.

Not only to do, but also to be forward] τοποιησαικαιτο

θελειν, literally, to do and to will; but as the will must be

before the deed, θελειν, must be taken here in the sense of

delight, as it frequently means in the Old and New Testaments.

See several examples in Whitby.

Some MSS. transpose the words: allowing this, there is no

difficulty.

A year ago.] αποπερυσι. It was about a year before this that

the apostle, in his first epistle, 1Co 16:2, had exhorted them to

make this contribution and there is no doubt that they, in

obedience to his directions, had begun to lay up in store for this

charitable purpose; he therefore wishes them to complete this good

work, and thus show that they were not led to it by the example of

the Macedonians, seeing they themselves had been first movers in

this business.

Verse 11. A readiness to will, so there may be a performance]

Ye have willed and purposed this; now perform it.

Out of that which ye have.] Give as God has enabled you; and

give as God has disposed you. He requires each man to do as he

can; and accepts the will where the means are wanting to perform

the deed.

Verse 12. According to that a man hath] According to his real

property; not taking that which belongs to his own family, and is

indispensably necessary for their support; and not taking that

which belongs to others; viz. what he owes to any man.

Verse 13. That other men be eased] I do not design that you

should impoverish yourselves in order that others may live

affluently.

Verse 14. But by an equality] That you may do to those who

are distressed now, as, on a change of circumstances, you would

wish them to do to you. And I only wish that of your abundance

you would now minister to their wants; and it may be that there

abundance may yet supply your wants; for so liable are all human

affairs to change, that it is as possible that you rich

Corinthians should need the charitable help of others as it is

that those Jews, who once had need of nothing, should now be

dependent on your bounty.

That there may be equality] That ye may exert yourselves so in

behalf of those poor people that there may be between you an

equality in the necessaries of life; your abundance supplying them

with that of which they are utterly destitute.

Verse 15. He that had gathered much, had nothing over] On the

passage to which the apostle alludes, Ex 16:18, I have stated

that, probably, every man gathered as much manna as he could, and

when he brought it home and measured it by the omer, (for this was

the measure for each man's eating,) if he had a surplus it went to

the supply of some other family that had not been able to collect

enough; the family being large, and the time in which the manna

might be gathered, before the heat of the day, not being

sufficient to collect a supply for so numerous a household;

several of whom might be so confined as not to be able to collect

for themselves. Thus there was an equality among the Israelites

in reference to this thing; and in this light these words of St.

Paul lead us to view the passage. To apply this to the present

case: the Corinthians, in the course of God's providence, had

gathered more than was absolutely necessary for their own support;

by giving the surplus to the persecuted and impoverished Christian

Jews these would be an equality; both would then possess the

necessaries of life, though still the one might have more property

than the other.

Verse 16. But thanks be to God] He thanks God who had already

disposed the heart of Titus to attend to this business; and, with

his usual address, considers all this as done in the behalf of the

Corinthian Church; and that though the poor Christians in Judea

are to have the immediate benefit, yet God put honour upon them in

making them his instruments in supplying the wants of others. He

who is an almoner to God Almighty is highly honoured indeed.

Verse 17. He accepted the exhortation] I advised him to visit

you and excite you to this good work, and I found that he was

already disposed in his heart to do it; God put this earnest care

in the heart of Titus for you, 2Co 8:16.

Verse 18. The brother, whose praise is in the Gospel] Who

this brother was we cannot tell; some suppose it was St. Luke, who

wrote a gospel, and who was the companion of St. Paul in several

of his travels; others think it was Silas; others, Barnabas;

others, Mark; and others, Apollos. Neither ancients nor moderns

agree in either; but Luke, John, and Mark, seem to have the most

probable opinions in their favour. Whoever the person was he was

sufficiently known to the Corinthians, as we learn by what the

apostle says of him in this place.

Verse 19. Chosen of the Churches to travel with us]

χειροτονηθεις. Appointed by a show of hands; from χειρ the

hand, and τεινω, to extend. This appointment, by the suffrage of

the Churches, seems to refer more to St. Luke than any one else;

unless we suppose he refers to the transaction, Ac 15:40, 41, and

then it would appear that Silas is the person intended.

With this grace] Liberal contribution. See Clarke on 2Co 8:1.

Your ready mind.] Your willingness to relieve them. But,

instead of υμων, your, ημων, our, is the reading of almost

all the best MSS. and all the versions. This is, doubtless, the

reading.

Verse 20. Avoiding this, that no man should blame us] Taking

this prudent caution to have witnesses of our conduct, and such as

were chosen by the Churches themselves, that we might not be

suspected of having either embezzled or misapplied their bounty,

See Clarke on 1Co 16:4.

Verse 21. Providing for honest things] Taking care to act so

as not only to be clear in the sight of God, but also to be clear

in the sight of all men; avoiding even the appearance of evil. I

wish the reader to refer to the excellent note on "1Co 16:4", which

I have extracted from Dr. Paley.

Verse 22. We have sent with them] Titus and, probably, Luke,

our brother, probably Apollos.

Now much more diligent] Finding that I have the fullest

confidence in your complete reformation and love to me, he engages

in this business with alacrity, and exceeds even his former

diligence.

Verse 23. Whether any do inquire of Titus] Should it be

asked, Who is this TITUS? I answer, he is my companion, and my

fellow labourer in reference to you; 2Co 2:13; 7:6, 7. Should

any inquire, Who are these brethren, Luke and Apollos? I answer,

They are αποστολοι, apostles of the Churches, and intensely bent

on promoting the glory of Christ.

Verse 24. Wherefore show ye to them, and before the Churches,

&c.] Seeing they are persons every way worthy in themselves, and

coming to you on such an important occasion, and so highly

recommended, receive them affectionately; and let them thus see

that the very high character I have given of you is not

exaggerated, and that you are as ready in every work of charity as

I have stated you to be. Act in this for your honour.

1. THE whole of this chapter and the following is occupied in

exciting the richer followers of Christ to be liberal to the

poorer; the obligation of each to be so, the reasons on which

that obligation is founded, the arguments to enforce the

obligation from those reasons, are all clearly stated, and most

dexterously and forcibly managed. These two chapters afford a

perfect model for a Christian minister who is pleading the cause

of the poor.

2. In the management of charities a man ought carefully to

avoid the least suspicion of avarice, self-interest, and

unfaithfulness. How few persons are entirely free from the

upbraidings of their own consciences in the matter of alms! But

who will be able to hear the upbraidings of Christ at the time of

death and judgment? No man can waste without injustice, or

neglect without sin, those things of which he is only the

dispenser and steward.

3. God has not settled an equality among men by their birth to

the end that this equality might be the work of his grace. He has

put the temporal portion of the poor into the hands of the rich,

and the spiritual portion of the rich into the hands of the poor,

on purpose to keep up a good understanding betwixt the members of

the same body by a mutual dependence on one another. He who

withholds the part belonging to the poor steals more from himself

than from them. Let every one answer this admirable design of

God, and labour to re-establish equality: the poor, in praying

much for the rich; and the rich, in giving much to the poor.

See Quesnel.

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