2 Corinthians 9

CHAPTER IX.

St. Paul intimates that so ready were the Corinthians to make

this charitable contribution, that it was scarcely necessary

for him to write, 1, 2.

But lest they should not be ready when he came, he had sent

the brethren, Titus, &c., beforehand; lest, if any of the

Macedonians should come with him, they should find them not

prepared, though he had boasted so much of their ready mind,

3-5.

He gives them directions how they shall contribute; and the

advantage to be gained by it, in the fulfilment of the

promises of God, 6-11.

He shows them that by this means the poor shall be relieved,

God glorified, their Christian temper manifested, and the

prayers of many engaged in their behalf, 12-14.

And concludes with giving thanks to God for his unspeakable

gift, 15.

NOTES ON CHAP. IX.

Verse 1. It is superfluous for me to write to you] I need not

enlarge, having already said enough. See the preceding chapter.

Verse 2. I know the forwardness of your mind] You have

already firmly purposed to contribute to the support of the poor

and suffering saints.

That Achaia was ready a year ago] The whole of the Morea was

anciently called Achaia, the capital of which was Corinth. The

apostle means, not only Corinth, but other Churches in different

parts about Corinth; we know there was a Church at Cenchrea, one

of the ports on the Corinthian Isthmus.

Your zeal hath provoked very many.] Hearing that the

Corinthians were so intent on the relief of the sufferers in

Palestine, other Churches, and especially they of Macedonia, came

forward the more promptly and liberally.

Verse 3. Yet have I sent the brethren] Titus and his

companions, mentioned in the preceding chapter.

That, as I said, ye may be ready] And he wished them to be

ready, that they might preserve the good character he had given

them: this was for their honour; and if they did not take care to

do so, he might be reputed a liar; and thus both they and himself

be ashamed before the Macedonians, should any of them at this time

accompany him to Corinth.

Verse 5. Whereof ye had notice before] Instead of

προκατηγγελμενην, spoken of before, BCDEFG, several others, with

the Coptic, Vulgate, Itala, and several of the fathers, have

προεπηγγελμενην, what was promised before. The sense is not

very different; probably the latter reading was intended to

explain the former. See the margin.

Bounty, and not as of covetousness.] Had they been backward,

strangers might have attributed this to a covetous principle; as

it would appear that they were loth to give up their money, and

that they parted with it only when they could not for shame keep

it any longer. This is the property of a covetous heart; whereas

readiness to give is the characteristic of a liberal mind. This

makes a sufficiently plain sense; and we need not look, as some

have done, for any new sense of πλεονεξια, covetousness, as if it

were here to be understood as implying a small gift.

Verse 6. He which soweth sparingly] This is a plain maxim: no

man can expect to reap but in proportion as he has sowed. And

here almsgiving is represented as a seed sown, which shall bring

forth a crop. If the sowing be liberal, and the seed good, the

crop shall be so too.

Sowing is used among the Jews to express almsgiving: so they

understand Isa 32:20:

Blessed are ye who sow beside all waters; i.e. who are ready to

help every one that is in need. And Ho 10:12, they interpret:

Sow to yourselves almsgiving, and ye shall reap in mercy-if you

show mercy to the poor, God will show mercy to you.

Verse 7. Not grudgingly, or of necessity] The Jews had in the

temple two chests for alms; the one was of what was

necessary, i.e. what the law required, the other was of

the free-will offerings. To escape perdition some would

grudgingly give what necessity obliged them; others would give

cheerfully, for the love of God, and through pity to the poor. Of

the first, nothing is said; they simply did what the law required.

Of the second, much is said; God loves them. The benefit of

almsgiving is lost to the giver when he does it with a grumbling

heart. And, as he does not do the duty in the spirit of the

duty, even the performance of the letter of the law is an

abomination in the sight of God.

To these two sorts of alms in the temple the apostle most

evidently alludes. See Schoettgen.

Verse 8. God is able to make all grace abound] We have

already seen, 2Co 8:1 that the word χαρις, in the connection in

which the apostle uses it in these chapters, signifies a

charitable gift; here it certainly has the same meaning: God is

able to give you, in his mercy, abundance of temporal good; that,

having a sufficiency, ye may abound in every good work. This

refers to the sowing plenteously: those who do so shall reap

plenteously-they shall have an abundance of God's blessings.

Verse 9. He hath dispersed abroad] Here is still the allusion

to the sower. He sows much; not at home merely, or among those

with whom he is acquainted, but abroad-among the strangers,

whether of his own or of another nation. The quotation is taken

from Ps 112:9.

He hath given to the poor] This is the interpretation of he

hath scattered abroad; and therefore it is said, his righteousness

remaineth for ever-his good work is had in remembrance before God.

By righteousness we have already seen that the Jews understand

almsgiving. See Clarke on Mt 6:1.

Verse 10. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower] The

sower, as we have already seen, is he that gives alms of what he

hath; and God, who requires him to give these alms, is here

represented as providing him with the means. As in the creation,

if God had not created the earth with every tree and plant with

its seed in itself, so that a harvest came, without a previous

ploughing and sowing, there could have been no seed to deposit in

the earth; so, if God had not, in the course of his providence,

given them the property they had, it would be impossible for them

to give alms. And as even the well cultivated and sowed field

would be unfruitful if God did not, by his unseen energy and

blessing, cause it to bring forth, and bring to maturity; so would

it have been with their property: it could not have increased; for

without his blessing riches take wings and flee away, as an eagle

towards heaven. Therefore, in every sense, it is God who

ministers seed to the sower, and multiplies the seed sown. And as

all this properly comes from God, and cannot exist without him, he

has a right to require that it be dispensed in that way which he

judges best.

The word οεπιχορηγων, he that ministereth, is very emphatic;

it signifies he who leads up the chorus, from επι, to, and χορηγω

to lead the chorus; it means also to join to, associate, to supply

or furnish one thing after another so that there be no want or

chasm. Thus God is represented, in the course of his providence,

associating and connecting causes and effects; keeping every thing

in its proper place and state of dependence on another, and all

upon himself; so that summer and winter, heat and cold, seed time

and harvest, regularly succeed each other. Thus God leads up this

grand chorus of causes and effects: provides the seed to the hand

of the sower; gives him skill to discern the times when the earth

should be prepared for the grain, and when the grain should be

sowed; blesses the earth, and causes it to bring forth and bud, so

that it may again minister seed to the sower and bread to the

eater; and, by a watchful providence, preserves every thing. The

figure is beautiful, and shows us the grand system of causes and

effects, all directed by and under the immediate guidance and

government of God himself.

There is a fine exemplification of this in the same figure thus

produced by the prophet. Ho 2:21, 22: I will hear, saith the

Lord, I will hear the heavens; and they shall hear the earth; and

the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine and the oil; and

they shall hear Jezreel. See the note there.

The fruits of your righteousness] Your beneficence; for so

δικαιοσυνη is here to be understood.

See Clarke on Mt 6:1,

already referred to.

Verse 11. Being enriched in every thing] Observe, Why does

God give riches? That they may be applied to his glory, and the

good of men. Why does he increase riches? That those who have

them may exercise all bountifulness. And if they be enriched in

every thing, what will be the consequence if they do not exercise

all bountifulness? Why, God will curse their blessings; the rust

shall canker them, and the moth shall consume their garments. But

if, on the other hand, they do thus apply them, then they cause

thanksgiving to God. The 9th and 10th verses should be read in a

parenthesis, for this verse connects with the eighth.

2Co 9:8-11

Verse 12. For the administration of this service] The poor

are relieved, see the hand of God in this relief, and give God the

glory of his grace.

Verse 13. By the experiment of this ministration] In this,

and in the preceding and following verses, the apostle enumerates

the good effects that would be produced by their liberal

almsgiving to the poor saints at Jerusalem. 1. The wants of the

saints would be supplied. 2. Many thanksgivings would thereby be

rendered unto God. 3. The Corinthians would thereby give proof of

their subjection to the Gospel. And, 4. The prayers of those

relieved will ascend up to God in the behalf of their benefactors.

Verse 14. The exceeding grace of God in you.] By the

υπερβαλλουσανχαριν, superabounding or transcending grace, of

God, which was in them, the apostle most evidently means the

merciful and charitable disposition which they had towards the

suffering saints. The whole connection, indeed the whole chapter,

proves this; and the apostle attributes this to its right source,

the grace or goodness of God. They had the means of charity, but

God had given these means; they had a feeling, and charitable

heart, but God was the author of it. Their charity was

superabundant, and God had furnished both the disposition, the

occasion, and the means by which that disposition was to be made

manifest.

Verse 15. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.] Some

contend that Christ only is here intended; others, that the

almsgiving is meant.

After all the difference of commentators and preachers, it is

most evident that the ανεκδιηγητοςδωρεα, unspeakable gift, is

precisely the same with the υπερβαλλουσηχαρις, superabounding

grace or benefit, of the preceding verse. If therefore Jesus

Christ, the gift of God's unbounded love to man, be the meaning of

the unspeakable gift in this verse, he is also intended by the

superabounding grace in the preceding. But it is most evident

that it is the work of Christ in them, and not Christ himself,

which is intended in the 14th verse 2Co 9:14; and consequently,

that it is the same work, not the operator, which is referred to

in this last verse.

A FEW farther observations may be necessary on the conclusion

of this chapter.

1. JESUS CHRIST, the gift of God's love to mankind, is an

unspeakable blessing; no man can conceive, much less declare, how

great this gift is; for these things the angels desire to look

into. Therefore he may be well called the unspeakable gift, as he

is the highest God ever gave or can give to man; though this is

not the meaning of the last verse.

2. The conversion of a soul from darkness to light, from sin to

holiness, from Satan to God, is not less inconceivable. It is

called a new creation, and creative energy cannot be comprehended.

To have the grace of God to rule the heart, subduing all things to

itself and filling the soul with the Divine nature, is an

unspeakable blessing; and the energy that produced it is an

unspeakable gift. I conclude, therefore, that it is the work of

Christ in the soul, and not Christ himself, that the apostle terms

the superabounding or exceeding great grace, and the unspeakable

gift; and Dr. Whitby's paraphrase may be safely admitted as giving

the true sense of the passage. "Thanks be unto God for his

unspeakable gift: i.e. this admirable charity (proceeding from

the work of Christ in the soul) by which God is so much glorified,

the Gospel receives such credit, others are so much benefited, and

you will be by God so plentifully rewarded." This is the sober

sense of the passage; and no other meaning can comport with it.

The passage itself is a grand proof that every good disposition in

the soul of man comes from God; and it explodes the notion of

natural good, i.e. good which God does not work, which is absurd;

for no effect can exist without a cause; and God being the

fountain of good, all that can be called good must come

immediately from himself. See Jas 1:17.

3. Most men can see the hand of God in the dispensations of his

justice, and yet these very seldom appear. How is it that they

cannot equally see his hand in the dispensations of his mercy,

which are great, striking, and unremitting? Our afflictions we

scarcely ever forget; our mercies we scarcely ever remember! Our

hearts are alive to complaint, but dead to gratitude. We have had

ten thousand mercies for one judgment, and yet our complaints to

our thanksgivings have been ten thousand to one! How is it that

God endures this, and bears with us? Ask his own eternal

clemency; and ask the Mediator before the throne. The mystery of

our preservation and salvation can be there alone explained.

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