2 Corinthians 8:1-9; 9:1-2, 7-8, 12-15 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin
2Co 8:1
As, in the event of the Corinthians retaining any feeling of offense, occasioned by the severity of the preceding Epistle, that might stand in the way of Paul’s authority having influence over them, he has hitherto made it his endeavor to conciliate their affections. Now, after clearing away all occasion of offense, and regaining favor for his ministry, he recommends to them the brethren at Jerusalem, that they may furnish help to their necessities. He could not, with any great advantage, have attempted this in the commencement of the Epistle. Hence, he has prudently deferred it, until he has prepared their minds for it. Accordingly, he takes up the whole of this chapter, and the next, in exhorting the Corinthians to be active and diligent in collecting alms to be taken to Jerusalem for relieving the indigence of the brethren. For they were afflicted with a great famine, so that they could scarcely support life without being aided by other churches. The Apostles had intrusted Paul with this matter, (Gal_2:10,) and he had promised to concern himself in reference to it, and he had already done so in part, as we have seen in the former Epistle. Now, however, he presses them still farther.

1. I make known to you.He commends the Macedonians, but it is with the design of stimulating the Corinthians by their example, although he does not expressly say so; for the former had no need of commendation, but the latter had need of a stimulus. And that he may stir up the Corinthians the more to emulation, he ascribes it to thegrace of Godthat the Macedonians had been so forward to give help to their brethren. For although it is acknowledged by all, that it is a commendable virtue to give help to the needy, they, nevertheless, do not reckon it to be a gain, nor do they look upon it as the grace of God Nay rather, they reckon, that it is so much of what was theirs taken from them, and lost. Paul, on the other hand, declares, that we ought to ascribe it to the grace of God, when we afford aid to our brethren, and that it ought to be desired by us as a privilege of no ordinary kind.

He makes mention, however, of a twofold favor, that had been conferred upon the Macedonians. The first is, that they had endured afflictions with composure and cheerfulness. The second is, that from their slender means, equally as though they had possessed abundance, they had taken something — to be laid out upon their brethren. Each of these things, Paul affirms with good reason, is a work of the Lord, for all quickly fail, that are not upheld by the Spirit of God, who is the Author of all consolation, and distrust clings to us, deeply rooted, which keeps us back from all offices of love, until it is subdued by the grace of the same Spirit.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
2Co 8:1
2Co_8:1-24. The collection for the saints; The readiness of the Macedonians a pattern to the Corinthians; Christ the highest pattern; Each is to give willingly after his ability; Titus and two others are the agents accredited to complete the collection.

we do you to wit — we make known to you.

the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia — Their liberality was not of themselves naturally, but of God’s grace bestowed on them, and enabling them to be the instrument of God’s “grace” to others (2Co_8:6, 2Co_8:19). The importance given in this Epistle to the collection, arose as well from Paul’s engagement (Gal_2:10), as also chiefly from his hope to conciliate the Judaizing Christians at Jerusalem to himself and the Gentile believers, by such an act of love on the part of the latter towards their Jewish brethren.

Albert Barnes
2Co 8:1
Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit – We make known to you; we inform you. The phrase “we do you to wit,” is used in Tyndale’s translation, and means “we cause you to know.” The purpose for which Paul informed them of the liberality of the churches of Macedonia was to excite them to similar liberality.

Of the grace of God … – The favor which God had shown them in exciting a spirit of liberality, and in enabling them to contribute to the fund for supplying the needs of the poor saints at Jerusalem. The word “grace” (χάρις charis) is sometimes used in the sense of gift, and the phrase “gift of God” some have supposed may mean very great gift, where the words “of God” may be designed to mark anything very eminent or excellent, as in the phrase “cedars of God,” “mountains of God,” denoting very great cedars, very great mountains. Some critics (as Macknight, Bloomfield, Locke, and others) have supposed that this means that the churches of Macedonia had been able to contribute largely to the aid of the saints of Judea. But the more obvious and correct interpretation, as I apprehend, is that which is implied in the common version, that the phrase “grace of God,” means that God had bestowed on them grace to give according to their ability in this cause. According to this it is implied:

(1) That a disposition to contribute to the cause of benevolence is to be traced to God. He is its author. He excites it. It is not a plant of native growth in the human heart, but a large and liberal spirit of benevolence is one of the effects of his grace, and is to be traced to him.

(2) it is a favor bestowed on a church when God excites in it a spirit of benevolence. It is one of the evidences of his love. And indeed there cannot be a higher proof of the favor of God than when by his grace he inclines and enables us to contribute largely to meliorate the condition, and to alleviate the needs of our fellowmen. Perhaps the apostle here meant delicately to hint this. He did not therefore say coldly that the churches of Macedonia had contributed to this object, but he speaks of it as a favor shown to them by God that they were able to do it. And he meant, probably, gently to intimate to the Corinthians that it would be an evidence that they were enjoying the favor of God if they should contribute in like manner.

The churches of Macedonia – Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea. For an account of Macedonia, see the Act_16:9 note; Rom_15:26 note. Of these churches, that at Philippi seems to have been most distinguished for liberality Phi_4:10, Phi_4:15-16, Phi_4:18, though it is probable that other churches contributed according to their ability, as they are commended (compare 2Co_9:2) without distinction.

John Calvin
2Co 8:2
2. In much trial— In other words, while they were tried with adversity, they, nevertheless, did not cease to rejoice in the Lord: nay, this disposition rose so high, as to swallow up sorrow; for the minds of the Macedonians, which must otherwise have been straitened, required to be set free from their restraints, that they might liberally furnish aid to the brethren.

By the term joy he means that spiritual consolation by which believers are sustained under their afflictions; for the wicked either delude themselves with empty consolations, by avoiding a perception of the evil, and drawing off the mind to rambling thoughts, or else they wholly give way to grief, and allow themselves to be overwhelmed with it. Believers, on the other hand, seek occasions of joy in the affliction itself, as we see in the 8th chapter of the Romans.

And their deep poverty.Here we have a metaphor taken from exhausted vessels, as though he had said, that the Macedonians had been emptied, so that they had now reached the bottom. He says, that even in such straits they had abounded in liberality, and had been rich, so as to have enough — not merely for their own use, but also for giving assistance to others. Mark the way, in which we shall always be liberal even in the most straitened poverty — if by liberality of mind we make up for what is deficient in our coffers.

Liberality is opposed to niggardliness, as in Rom_12:8, where Paul requires this on the part of deacons. For what makes us more close-handed than we ought to be is — when we look too carefully, and too far forward, in contemplating the dangers that may occur — when we are excessively cautious and careful — when we calculate too narrowly what we will require during our whole life, or, in fine, how much we lose when the smallest portion is taken away. The man, that depends upon the blessing of the Lord, has his mind set free from these trammels, and has, at the same time, his hands opened for beneficence. Let us now draw an argument from the less to the greater. “Slender means, nay poverty, did not prevent the Macedonians from doing good to their brethren: What excuse, then, will the Corinthians have, if they keep back, while opulent and affluent in comparison of them?”

Albert Barnes
2Co 8:2
How that, in a great trial of affliction – When it might be supposed they were unable to give; when many would suppose they needed the aid of others; or when it might be supposed their minds would be wholly engrossed with their own concerns. The trial to which the apostle here refers was doubtless some persecution which was excited against them, probably by the Jews; see Act_16:20; Act_17:5.

The abundance of their joy – Their joy arising from the hopes and promises of the gospel. Notwithstanding their persecutions, their joy has abounded, and the effect of their joy has been seen in the liberal contribution which they have made. Their joy could not be repressed by their persecution, and they cheerfully contributed largely to the aid of others.

And their deep poverty – Their very low estate of poverty was made to contribute liberally to the needs of others. It is implied here:

(1) That they were very poor – a fact arising probably from the consideration that the poor generally embraced the gospel first, and also because it is probable that they were molested and stripped of their property in persecutions (compare Heb). Act_10:34);

(2) That notwithstanding this they were enabled to make a liberal contribution – a fact demonstrating that a people can do much even when poor if all feel disposed to do it, and that afflictions are favorable to the effort; and,

(3) That one cause of this was the joy which they had even in their trials.

If a people have the joys of the gospel; if they have the consolations of religion themselves, they will somehow or other find means to contribute to the welfare of others. They will be willing to labor with reference to it, or they will find something which they can sacrifice or spare. Even their deep poverty will abound in the fruits of benevolence.

Abounded – They contributed liberally. Their joy was manifested in a large donation, notwithstanding their poverty.

Unto the riches of their liberality – Margin, “Simplicity.” The word ( haplotes) used here means properly sincerity, candor, probity; then Christian simplicity, integrity; then liberality; see Rom_12:8 (Margin,); 2Co_9:11, 2Co_9:13. The phrase “riches of liberality,” is a Hebraism, meaning rich, or abundant liberality. The sense is, their liberality was much greater than could be expected from persons so poor; and the object of the apostle is, to excite the Corinthians to give liberally by their example.

John Calvin
2Co 8:3
3. To their power, and even beyond their power.When he says that they were willing of themselves, he means that they were, of their own accord, so well prepared for the duty, that they needed no exhortation. It was a great thing — to strive up to the measure of their ability; and hence, to exert themselves beyondtheir ability, showed a rare, and truly admirable excellence. Now he speaks according to the common custom of men, for the common rule of doing good is that which Solomon prescribes, (Pro_5:15 ) — to drink water out of our own fountains, and let the rivulets go past, that they may flow onwards to others.

The Macedonians, on the other hand, making no account of themselves, and almost losing sight of themselves, concerned themselves rather as to providing for others. In fine, those that are in straitened circumstances are willing beyond their ability, if they lay out any thing upon others from their slender means.

Albert Barnes
2Co 8:3
For to their power – To the utmost of their ability.

I bear record – Paul had founded those churches and had spent much time with them. He was therefore well qualified to bear testimony in regard to their condition.

Yea, and beyond their power – Beyond what could have been expected; or beyond what it would have been thought possible in their condition. Doddridge remarks that this is a noble hyperbole, similar to that used by Demosthenes when he says, “I have performed all, even with an industry beyond my power.” The sense is, they were willing to give more than they were well able. It shows the strong interest which they had in the subject, and the anxious desire which they had to relieve the needs of others.

Of themselves – (authairetai). Acting from choice, self-moved, voluntarily, of their own accord. They did not wait to be urged and pressed to do it. They rejoiced in the opportunity of doing it. They came forward of their own accord and made the contribution. “God loveth a cheerful giver” 2Co_9:7; and from all the accounts which we have of these churches in Macedonia it is evident that they were greatly distinguished for their cheerful liberality.

John Calvin
2Co 8:4
4.Beseeching us with much entreaty. He enlarges upon their promptitude, inasmuch as they did not only not wait for any one to admonish them, but even besought those, by whom they would have been admonished, had they not anticipated the desires of all by their activity. We must again repeat the comparison formerly made between the less and the greater. “If the Macedonians, without needing to be besought, press forward of their own accord, nay more, anticipate others by using entreaties, how shameful a thing is it for the Corinthians to be inactive, more especially after being admonished! If the Macedonians lead the way before all, how shameful a thing is it for the Corinthians not, at least, to imitate their example! But what are we to think, when, not satisfied with beseeching, they added to their requests earnest entreaty, and much of it too?” Now from this it appears, that they had besought, not as a mere form, but in good earnest.

That the favor and the fellowship.The term favor he has made use of, for the purpose of recommending alms, though at the same time the word may be explained in different ways. This interpretation, however, appears to me to be the more simple one; because, as our heavenly Father freely bestows upon us all things, so we ought to be imitators of his unmerited kindness in doing good, (Mat_5:45 ); or at least, because, in laying out our resources, we are simply the dispensers of his favor. The fellowship of this ministry consisted in his being a helper to the Macedonians in this ministry. They contributed of their own, that it might be administered to the saints. They wished, that Paul would take the charge of collecting it.

Albert Barnes
2Co 8:4
Praying us with much entreaty – Earnestly entreating me to receive the contribution and convey it to the poor and afflicted saints in Judea.

And take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints – Greek, “that we would take the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” They asked of us to take part in the labor of conveying it to Jerusalem. The occasion of this distress which made the collection for the saints of Judea necessary, was probably the famine which was predicted by Agabus, and which occurred in the time of Claudius Caesar; see note on Act_11:28. Barnabas was associated with Paul in conveying the contribution to Jerusalem; Act_6:30. Paul was unwilling to do it unless they particularly desired it, and he seems to have insisted that some person should be associated with him; 2Co_8:20; 1Co_16:3-4.

John Calvin
2Co 8:5
5.And not as He expected from them an ordinary degree of willingness, such as any Christian should manifest; but they went beyond his expectation, inasmuch as they not only had their worldly substance in readiness, but were prepared to devote even themselves. They gave themselves, says he, first to God, then to us.

It may be asked, whether their giving themselves to God, and to Paul, were two different things. It is quite a common thing, that when God charges or commands through means of any one, he associates the person whom he employs as his minister, both in authority to enjoin, and in the obedience that is rendered.

It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us; say the Apostles, (Act_15:28,) while at the same time they merely, as instruments, declared what had been revealed and enjoined by the Spirit. Again, The people believed the Lord and his servant Moses, (Exo_14:31,) while at the same time Moses had nothing apart from God. This, too, is what is meant by the clause that follows — by the will of God For, as they were obedient to God, who had committed themselves to his ministry, to be regulated by his counsel, they were influenced by this consideration in listening to Paul, as speaking from God’s mouth.

Albert Barnes
2Co 8:5
And this they did … – They did not give what we expected only. We knew their poverty, and we expected only a small sum from them.

Not as we hoped – Not according to the utmost of our hopes. We were greatly disappointed in the amount which they gave, and in the manner in which it was done.

But first gave their ownselves to the Lord – They first made an entire consecration of themselves and all that they had to the Lord. They kept nothing back. They felt that all they had was his. And where a people honestly and truly devote themselves to God, they will find no difficulty in having the means to contribute to the cause of charity.

And unto us by the will of God – That is, they gave themselves to us to be directed in regard to the contribution to be made. They complied with our wishes and followed our directions. The phrase “by the will of God,” means evidently that God moved them to this, or that it was to be traced to his direction and providence. It is one of the instances in which Paul traces everything that is right and good to the agency and direction of God.

John Calvin
2Co 8:6
6.That we should exhort Titus. Now this is an exhortation that is of greater force, when they learn that they are expressly summoned to duty. Nor was it offensive to the Macedonians, that he was desirous to have the Corinthians as partners in beneficence. In the mean time an apology is made for Titus, that the Corinthians may not think that he pressed too hard upon them, as if he had not confidence in their good disposition. For he did that, from having been entreated, and it was rather in the name of the Macedonians, than in his own.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
2Co 8:6
Insomuch that — As we saw the Macedonians’ alacrity in giving, we could not but exhort Titus, that as we collected in Macedonia, so he in Corinth should complete the work of collecting which he had already begun there, lest ye, the wealthy people of Corinth, should be outdone in liberality by the poor Macedonians.

as he had begun — Greek, “previously begun,” namely, the collection at Corinth, before the Macedonians began to contribute, during the visit to Corinth from which he had just returned.
finish in you the same grace — complete among you this act of grace or beneficence on your part.

also — as well as other things which he had to do among them [Alford].

Albert Barnes
2Co 8:6
Insomuch – The sense of this passage seems to be this, “We were encouraged by this unexpected success among the Macedonians. We were surprised at the extent of their liberality. And encouraged by this, we requested Titus to go among you and finish the collection which you had proposed and which you had begun. Lest you should be outstripped in liberality by the comparatively poor Macedonian Christians, we were anxious that you should perform what you had promised and contemplated, and we employed Titus, therefore, that he might go at once and finish the collection among you.”

The same grace also – Margin, “Gift;” see the note on 2Co_8:1. The word refers to the contribution which he wished to be made.

John Calvin
2Co 8:7
7.But as He had already been very careful to avoid giving offense, inasmuch as he said, that Titus had entreated them, not so much from his own inclination, as in consideration of the charge given him by the Macedonians. Now, however, he goes a step farther, by admonishing them, that they must not even wait for the message of the Macedonians being communicated to them; and that too, by commending their other virtues. “You ought not merely to associate yourselves as partners with the Macedonians, who require that; but surpass them in this respect, too, as you do in others.”

He makes a distinction between utterance and faith, because it. is impossible that any one should have faith, and that, too, in an eminent degree, without being at the same time much exercised in the word of God. Knowledge I understand to mean, practice and skill, or prudence. He makes mention of their love to himself, that he may encourage them also from regard to himself personally, and in the mean time he gives up, with a view to the public advantage of the brethren, the personal affection with which they regarded him. Now in this way he lays a restraint upon himself in everything, that he may not seem to accuse them when exhorting them.

Matthew Poole
2Co 8:7
Though the apostle made little use of oratory in his ordinary discourses and epistles, yet he knew how to use it when it might be of probable advantage for the ends which he aimed at, viz. the glory of God, and the good of the souls that were under his care. He did not turn divinity into mere words and rhetorical flourishes; yet he made use of these sometimes, as a waiting maid to divinity. Being therefore to press upon these Corinthians this great duty of charity, he insinuateth himself into them, by telling them, that they abounded in all other spiritual habits:

Faith, by which they had both steadily assented to the truth of gospel propositions, and also received Christ.

Utterance, by which they were enabled either to speak with tongues, or to God in prayer. For to men by prophecy and exhortation.

Knowledge, both of things Divine and human. And in love to the ministers of the gospel, which, if it did not appear in all, yet it did in many of them. And from hence he fetcheth an argument to press them to be complete in this habit of grace. The force of the apostle’s argument lies, in the duty of all Christians to strive after perfection, and that natural desire, which is in all ingenuous people, to be perfect in that good of which they have a taste in less perfect degrees.

Albert Barnes
2Co 8:7
Therefore as ye abound in everything – see the note, 1Co_1:5. Paul never hesitated to commend Christians where it could be done with truth; and the fact that they were eminent in some of the Christian duties and graces, he makes the ground of the exhortation that they would abound in all. From those who had so many eminent characteristics of true religion he had a right to expect much; and he therefore exhorts them to manifest a symmetry of Christian character.

In faith – In the full belief of the truth and obligation of the gospel.

And utterance – In the ability to instruct others; perhaps referring to their power of speaking foreign languages; 1 Cor. 14.

And knowledge – The knowledge of God, and of his truth.

And in all diligence – Diligence or readiness in the discharge of every duty. Of this, Paul had full evidence in their readiness to comply with his commands in the case of discipline to which so frequent reference is made in this Epistle.

And in your love to us – Manifested by the readiness with which you received our commands; see 2Co_7:4, 2Co_7:6-7, 2Co_7:11, 2Co_7:16.

See that ye abound in this grace also – The idea here is, that eminence in spiritual endowments of any kind, or in any of the traits of the Christian character should lead to great benevolence, and that the character is not complete unless benevolence be manifested toward every good object that may be presented.

John Calvin
2Co 8:8
8.I speak not according to commandment Again he qualifies his exhortation, by declaring that he did not at all intend to compel them, as if he were imposing any necessity upon them, for that is to speak according to commandment, when we enjoin any thing definite, and peremptorily require that it shall be done. Should any one ask — “Was it not lawful for him to prescribe what he had by commandment of the Lord?” The answer is easy — that God, it is true, everywhere charges us to help the necessities of our brethren, but he nowhere specifies the sum; that, after making a calculation, we might divide between ourselves and the poor. He nowhere binds us to circumstances of times, or persons, but calls us to take the rule of love as our guide.

At the same time, Paul does not here look to what is lawful for him, or unlawful, but says, that he does not command as if he reckoned that they required to be constrained by command and requirement, as though they refused to do their duty, unless shut up to it by necessity. He assigns, on the other hand, two reasons why he, notwithstanding, stirs them up to duty: first, Because the concern felt by him for the saints compels him to do so; and, secondly, Because he is desirous, that the love of the Corinthians should be made known to all. For I do not understand Paul to have been desirous to be assured of their love, (as to which he had already declared himself to be perfectly persuaded,) but he rather wished that all should have evidence of it. At the same time, the first clause in reference to the anxiety of others, admits of two meanings — either that he felt an anxiety as to the individuals, which did not allow him to be inactive, or that, yielding to the entreaties of others, who had the matter at heart, he spoke not so much from his own feeling, as at the suggestion of others.

Albert Barnes
2Co 8:8
I speak not by commandment – This does not mean that he had no express command of God in the case, but that he did not mean to command them; he did not speak authoritatively; he did not intend to prescribe what they should give. He used only moral motives, and urged the considerations which he had done to persuade rather than to command them to give; see 2Co_8:10. He was endeavoring to induce them to give liberally, not by abstract command and law, but by showing them what others had given who had much less ability and much fewer advantages than they had. People cannot be induced to give to objects of charity by command, or by a spirit of dictation and authority. The only successful, as well as the only lawful appeal, is to their hearts and consciences, and sober judgments. And if an apostle did not take upon himself the language of authority and command in matters of Christian benevolence, assuredly ministers and ecclesiastical bodies now have no right to use any such language.

But by occasion of the forwardness of others – I make use of the example of the churches of Macedonia as an argument to induce you to give liberally to the cause.

And to prove the sincerity of your love – The apostle does not specify here what “love” he refers to, whether love to God, to Christ, to himself, or to the church at large. It may be that he designedly used the word in a general sense, to denote love to any good object; and that he meant to say that liberality in assisting the poor and afflicted people of God would be the best evidence of the sincerity of their love to God, to the Redeemer, to him, and to the church. Religion is love; and that love is to be manifested by doing good to all people as we have opportunity. The most substantial evidence of that love is when we are willing to part with. our property, or with whatever is valuable to us, to confer happiness and salvation on others.

John Calvin
2Co 8:9
9.For ye know the grace.Having made mention of love, he adduces Christ as an all perfect and singular pattern of it. “Though he was rich,” says he, “he resigned the possession of all blessings, that he might enrich us by his poverty.” He does not afterwards state for what purpose he makes mention of this, but leaves it to be considered by them; for no one can but perceive, that we are by this example stirred up to beneficence, that we may not spare ourselves, when help is to be afforded to our brethren.

Christ was rich, because he was God, under whose power and authority all things are; and farther, even in our human nature, which he put on, as the Apostle bears witness, (Heb_1:2; Heb_2:8,) he was the heir of all things, inasmuch as he was placed by his Father over all creatures, and all things were placed under his feet. He nevertheless became poor, because he refrained from possessing, and thus he gave up his right for a time. We see, what destitution and penury as to all things awaited him immediately on his coming from his mother’s womb. We hear what he says himself, (Luk_9:58,) The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests: the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Hence he has consecrated poverty in his own person, that believers may no longer regard it with horror. By his poverty he has enriched us all for this purpose — that we may not feel it hard to take from our abundance what we may lay out upon our brethren.

Albert Barnes
2Co 8:9
For ye know … – The apostle Paul was accustomed to illustrate every subject, and to enforce every duty where it could be done, by a reference to the life and sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. The design of this verse is apparent. It is, to show the duty of giving liberally to the objects of benevolence, from the fact that the Lord Jesus was willing to become poor in order that he might benefit others. The idea is, that he who was Lord and proprietor of the universe, and who possessed all things, was willing to leave his exalted station in the bosom of the Father and to become poor, in order that we might become rich in the blessings of the gospel, in the means of grace, and as heirs of all things; and that we who are thus benefitted, and who have such an example, should be willing to part with our earthly possessions in order that we may benefit others.

The grace – The benignity, kindness, mercy, goodness. His coming in this manner was a proof of the highest benevolence.

Though he was rich – The riches of the Redeemer here referred to, stand opposed to that poverty which he assumed and manifested when he dwelt among people. It implies:

(1) His pre-existence, because he became poor. He had been rich. Yet not in this world. He did not lay aside wealth here on earth after he had possessed it, for he had none. He was not first rich and then poor on earth, for he had no earthly wealth. The Socinian interpretation is, that he was “rich in power and in the Holy Spirit;” but it was not true that he laid these aside, and that he became poor in either of them. He had power, even in his poverty, to still the waves, and to raise the dead, and he was always full of the Holy Spirit. His family was poor; and his parents were poor; and he was himself poor all his life. This then must refer to a state of antecedent riches before his assumption of human nature; and the expression is strikingly parallel to that in Phi_2:6 ff. “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation,” etc.

(2) he was rich as the Lord and proprietor of all things. He was the Creator of all Joh_1:3; Col_1:16, and as Creator he had a right to all things, and the disposal of all things. The most absolute right which can exist is that acquired by the act of creation; and this right the Son of God possessed over all gold, and silver, and diamonds, and pearls; over all earth and lands; over all the treasures of the ocean, and over all worlds. The extent and amount of his riches, therefore, is to be measured by the extent of his dominion over the universe; and to estimate his riches, therefore, we are to conceive of the scepter which he sways over the distant worlds. What wealth has man that can compare with the riches of the Creator and Proprietor of all? How poor and worthless appears all the gold that man can accumulate compared with the wealth of him whose are the silver, and the gold, and the cattle upon a thousand hills?

Yet for your sakes – That is, for your sakes as a part of the great family that was to be redeemed. In what respect it was for their sake, the apostle immediately adds when he says, it was that they might be made rich. It was not for his own sake, but it was for ours.

He became poor – In the following respects:

(1) He chose a condition of poverty, a rank of life that was usually that of poverty. He “took upon himself the form of a servant;” Phi_2:7.

(2) he was connected with a poor family. Though of the family and lineage of David Luk_2:4, yet the family had fallen into decay, and was poor. In the Old Testament he is beautifully represented as a shoot or sucker that starts up from the root of a decayed tree; see my note on Isa_11:1.

(3) his whole life was a life of poverty. He had no home; Luk_9:58. He chose to be dependent on the charity of the few friends that he drew around him, rather than to create food for the abundant supply of his own needs. He had no farms or plantations; he had no splendid palaces; he had no money hoarded in useless coffers or in banks; he had no property to distribute to his friends. His mother he commended when he died to the charitable attention of one of his disciples Joh_19:27, and all his personal property seems to have been the raiment which he wore, and which was divided among the soldiers that crucified him. Nothing is more remarkable than the difference between the plans of the Lord Jesus and those of many of his followers and professed friends. He formed no plan for becoming rich, and he always spoke with the deepest earnestness of the dangers which attend an effort to accumulate property. He was among the most poor of the sons of people in his life; and few have been the people on earth who have not had as much as he had to leave to surviving friends, or to excite the cupidity of those who should fall heirs to their property when dead.

(4) he died poor. He made no will in regard to his property, for he had none to dispose of. He knew well enough the effect which would follow if he had amassed wealth, and had left it to be divided among his followers. They were very imperfect; and even around the cross there might have been anxious discussion, and perhaps strife about it, as there is often now over the coffin and the unclosed grave of a rich and foolish father who has died. Jesus intended that his disciples should never be turned away from the great work to which he called them by any wealth which he would leave them; and he left them not even a keepsake as a memorial of his name. All this is the more remarkable from two considerations:

(a) That he had it in his power to choose the manner in which he would come. He might have come in the condition of a splendid prince. He might have rode in a chariot of ease, or have dwelt in a magnificent palace. He might have lived with more than the magnificence of an oriental prince, and might have bequeathed treasures greater than those of Croesus or Solomon to his followers. But he chose not to do it.

(b) It would have been as right and proper for him to have amassed wealth, and to have sought princely possessions, as for any of his followers. What is right for them would have been right for him. People often mistake on this subject; and though it cannot be demonstrated that all his followers should aim to be as poor as he was, yet it is undoubtedly true that he meant that his example should operate constantly to check their desire of amassing wealth. In him it was voluntary; in us there should be always a readiness to be poor if such be the will of God; nay, there should he rather a preference to be in moderate circumstances that we may thus be like the Redeemer.

That ye through his poverty might be rich – That is, might have durable and eternal riches, the riches of God’s everlasting favor. This includes:

(1) The present possession of an interest in the Redeemer himself. “Do you see these extended fields?” said the owner of a vast plantation to a friend. “They are mine. All this is mine.” “Do you see yonder poor cottage?” was the reply of the friend as he directed his attention to the abode of a poor widow. “She has more than all this. She has Christ as her portion; and that is more than all.” He who has an interest in the Redeemer has a possession that is of more value than all that princes can bestow.

(2) the heirship of an eternal inheritance, the prospect of immortal glory; Rom_8:17.

(3) everlasting treasures in heaven. Thus, the Saviour compares the heavenly blessings to treasures; Mat_6:20. Eternal and illimitable wealth is theirs in heaven; and to raise us to that blessed inheritance was the design of the Redeemer in consenting to become poor. This, the apostle says, was to he secured by his poverty. This includes probably the two following things, namely,

(a) That it was to be by the moral influence of the fact that he was poor that people were to be blessed he designed by his example to counteract the effect of wealth; to teach people that this was not the thing to be aimed at; that there were more important purposes of life than to obtain money; and to furnish a perpetual reproof of those who are aiming to amass riches. The example of the Redeemer thus stands before the whole church and the world as a living and constant memorial of the truth that people need other things than wealth; and that there are objects that demand their time and influence other than the accumulation of property. It is well to have such an example; well to have before us the example of one who never formed any plan for gain, and who constantly lived above the world. In a world where gain is the great object, where all people are forming plans for it, it is well to have one great model that shall continually demonstrate the folly of it, and that shall point to better things.

(b) The word “poverty” here may include more than a mere lack of property. It may mean all the circumstances of his low estate and humble condition; his sufferings and his woes. The whole train of his privations was included in this; and the idea is, that he gave himself to this lowly condition in order that by his sufferings he might procure for us a part in the kingdom of heaven. His poverty was a part of the sufferings included in the work of the atonement. For it was not the sufferings of the garden merely, or the pangs of the cross, that constituted the atonement; it was the series of sorrows and painful acts of humiliation which so thickly crowded his life. By all these he designed that we should be made rich; and in view of all these the argument of the apostle is, we should be willing to deny ourselves to do good to others.

John Calvin
2Co 9:1
This statement may seem at first view to suit ill, or not sufficiently well, with what goes before; for he seems to speak of a new matter, that he had not previously touched upon, while in reality he is following out the same subject. Let the reader, however, observe, that Paul treats of the very same matter that he had been treating of before — that it was from no want of confidence that he exhorted the Corinthians, and that his admonition is not coupled with any reproof as to the past, but that he has particular reasons that influence him. The meaning, then, of what he says now is this: “I do not teach you that it is a duty to afford relief to the saints, for what need were there of this? For that is sufficiently well known to you, and you have given practical evidence that you are not prepared to be wanting to them; but as I have, from boasting everywhere of your liberality, pledged my credit along with yours, this consideration will not allow me to refrain from speaking.” But for this, such anxious concern might have been somewhat offensive to the Corinthians, because they would have thought, either that they were reproached for their indolence, or that they were suspected by Paul. By bringing forward, however, a most, suitable apology, he secures for himself the liberty of not merely exhorting them, without giving offense, but even from time to time urging them.

Some one, however, may possibly suspect, that Paul here pretends what he does not really think. This were exceedingly absurd; for if he reckons them to be sufficiently prepared for doing their duty, why does he set himself so vigorously to admonish them? and, on the other hand, if he is in doubt as to their willingness, why does he declare it to be unnecessary to admonish them? Love carries with it these two things, — good hope, and anxious concern. Never would he have borne such a testimony in favor of the Corinthians, had he not been fully of the mind that he expresses. He had seen a happy commencement: he had hoped, that the farther progress of the matter would be corresponding; but as he was well aware of the unsteadiness of the human mind, he could not provide too carefully against their turning aside from their pious design.

1. Ministering. This term seems not very applicable to those that give of their substance to the poor, inasmuch as liberality is deserving of a more splendid designation. Paul, however, had in view, what believers owe to their fellow members. For the members of Christ ought mutually to minister to each other. In this way, when we relieve the brethren, we do nothing more than discharge a ministry that is due to them. On the other hand, to neglect the saints, when they stand in need of our aid, is worse than inhuman, inasmuch as we defraud them of what is their due.

Albert Barnes
2Co 9:1
For as touching the ministering to the saints – In regard to the collection that was to be taken up for the aid of the poor Christians in Judea; see the notes on Rom_15:26; 1Co_16:1; 2 Cor. 8.

It is superfluous … – It is needless to urge that matter on you, because I know that you acknowledge the obligation to do it, and have already purposed it.

For me to write to you – That is, to write more, or to write largely on the subject. It is unnecessary for me to urge arguments why it should be done; and all that is proper is to offer some suggestions in regard to the manner in which it shall be accomplished.

John Calvin
2Co 9:2
2. For which I have boasted.He shows the good opinion that he had of them from this, that he had, in a manner, stood forward as their surety by asserting their readiness. But what if he rashly asserted more than the case warranted? For there is some appearance of this, inasmuch as he boasted, that they had been ready a year before with it, while he is still urging them to have it in readiness. I answer, that his words are not to be understood as though Paul had declared, that what they were to give was already laid aside in the chest, but he simply mentioned what had been resolved upon among them. This involves no blame in respect of fickleness or mistake. It was, then, of this promise that Paul spoke.

Albert Barnes
2Co 9:2
For I know the forwardness of your mind – I know your promptitude, or your readiness to do it; see 2Co_8:10. Probably Paul here means that he had had opportunity before of witnessing their readiness to do good, and that he had learned in particular of Titus that they had formed the plan to aid in this contribution.

For which I boast of you to them of Macedonia – To the church in Macedonia; see 2Co_8:1. So well assured was he that the church at Corinth would make the collection as it had proposed, that he boasted of it to the churches of Macedonia as if it were already done, and made use of this as an argument to stimulate them to make an effort.

That Achaia was ready a year ago – Achaia was that part of Greece of which Corinth was the capital; see the note, Act_18:12. It is probable that there were Christians in other parts of Achaia besides Corinth, and indeed it is known that there was a church in Cenchrea (see Rom_16:1). which was one of the ports of Corinth. Though the contribution would be chiefly derived from Corinth, yet it is probable that the others also would participate in it. The phrase “was ready” means that they had been preparing themselves for this collection, and doubtless Paul had stated that the collection was already made and was waiting. He had directed them 1Co_16:1 to make it on the first day of the week, and to lay it by in store, and he did not doubt that they had complied with his request.

And your zeal – Your ardor and promptitude. The readiness with which you entered into this subject, and your desire to relieve the needs of others.

Hath provoked – Has roused, excited, impelled to give. We use the word “provoke” commonly now in the sense of to irritate, but in the Scriptures it is confined to the signification of exciting, or rousing.

The ardor of the Corinthians would excite others not only by their promptitude, but because Corinth was a splendid city, and their example would be looked up to by Christians at a distance. This is one instance of the effect which will be produced by the example of a church in a city.

John Calvin
2Co 9:7
7Every one according to the purpose of his heart.As he had enjoined it upon them to give liberally, this, also, required to be added — that liberality is estimated by God, not so much from the sum, as from the disposition. He was desirous, it is true, to induce them to give largely, in order that the brethren might be the more abundantly aided; but he had no wish to extort any thing from them against their will. Hence he exhorts them to give willingly, whatever they might be prepared to give. He places purpose of heart in contrast with regret and constraint. For what we do, when compelled by necessity, is not done by us with purpose of heart,but with reluctance. Now the necessity meant you must understand to be what is extrinsic, as it is called — that is, what springs from the influence of others. For we obey God, because it is necessary,and yet we do it willingly. We ourselves, accordingly, in that case impose a necessity of our own accord, and because the flesh is reluctant, we often even constrain ourselves to perform a duty that is necessary for us. But, when we are constrained from the influence of others, having in the mean time an inclination to avoid it, if by any means we could, we do nothing in that case with alacrity — nothing with cheerfulness, but every thing with reluctance or constraint of mind.

For God loveth a cheerful giver He calls us back to God, as I said in the outset, for alms are a sacrifice. Now no sacrifice is pleasing to God, if it is not voluntary. For when he teaches us, that God loveth a cheerful giver, he intimates that, on the other hand, the niggardly and reluctant are loathed by Him. For He does not wish to lord it over us, in the manner of a tyrant, but, as He acts towards us as a Father, so he requires from us the cheerful obedience of children.

Adam Clarke
2Co 9:7
Not grudgingly, or of necessity – The Jews had in the temple two chests for alms; the one was של תובה of what was necessary, i.e. what the law required, the other was של נרבה 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.

Albert Barnes
2Co 9:7
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart … – The main idea in this verse is, that the act of giving should be voluntary and cheerful. It should not seem to be extorted by the importunity of others 2Co_9:6; nor should it be given from urgent necessity, but it should be given as an offering of the heart. On this part of the verse we may remark:

(1) That the heart is usually more concerned in the business of giving than the head. If liberality is evinced, it will be the heart which prompts to it; if it is not evinced, it will be because the heart has some bad passions to gratify, and is under the influence of avarice, or selfishness, or some other improper attachment. Very often a man is convinced he ought to give liberally, but a narrow heart and a parsimonious spirit prevents it.

(2) we should follow the dictates of the heart in giving. I mean that a man will usually give more correctly who follows the first promptings of his heart when an object of charity is presented, than he will if he takes much time to deliberate. The instinctive prompting of a benevolent heart is to give liberally. And the amount which should be given will usually be suggested to a man by the better feelings of his heart. But if he resolves to deliberate much, and if he suffers the heart to grow cold, and if he defers it, the pleadings of avarice will como in, or some object of attachment or plan of life will rise to view, or he will begin to compare himself with others. and he will give much less than he would have done if he had followed the first impulse of feeling. God implanted the benevolent feelings in the bosom that they should prompt us to do good; and he who acts most in accordance with them is most likely to do what he ought to do; and in general it is the safest and best rule for a man to give just what his heart prompts him to give when an object of charity is presented. Man at best is too selfish to be likely to give too much or to go beyond his means; and if in a few instances it should be done, more would be gained in value in the cultivation of benevolent feeling than would be lost in money. I know of no better rule on the subject, than to cultivate as much as possible the benevolent feelings, and then to throw open the soul to every proper appeal to our charity, and to give just according to the instinctive prompting of the heart.

(3) giving should be voluntary and cheerful. It should be from the heart. Yet there is much, very much that is not so, and there is, therefore, much benevolence that is spasmodic and spurious; that cannot be depended on, and that will not endure. No dependence can be placed on a man in regard to giving who does not do it from the steady influences of a benevolent heart. But there is much obtained in the cause of benevolence that is produced by a kind of extortion It is given because others give, and the man would be ashamed to give less than they do. Or, it is given because he thinks his rank in life demands it, and he is prompted to do it by pride and vanity. Or, he gives from respect to a pastor or a friend, or because he is warmly importuned to give; or because he is shut up to a kind of necessity to give, and must give or he would lose his character and become an object of scorn and detestation. In all this there is nothing cheerful and voluntary; and there can be nothing in it acceptable to God. Nor can it be depended on permanently. The heart is not in it, and the man will evade the duty as soon as he can, and will soon find excuses for not giving at all.

Not grudgingly – Greek, “Not of grief” (meek lupes). Not as if be were sorry to part with his money. Not as if he were constrained to do a thing that was extremely painful to him. “Or of necessity.” As if he were compelled to do it. Let him do it cheerfully.

For God loveth a cheerful giver – And who does not? Valuable as any gift may be in itself, yet if it is forced and constrained; if it can be procured only after great importunity and persevering effort, who can esteem it as desirable? God desires the heart in every service. No service that is not cheerful and voluntary; none that does not arise from true love to him can be acceptable in his sight. God loves it because it shows a heart like his own – a heart disposed to give cheerfully and do good on the largest scale possible; and because it shows a heart attached from principle to his service and cause. The expression here has all the appearance of a proverb, and expressions similar to this occur often in the Scriptures. In an uninspired writer, also, this idea has been beautifully expanded. “In all thy gifts show a cheerful countenance, and dedicate thy tithes with gladness. Give unto the Most High according as he hath enriched thee: and as thou hast gotten give with a cheerful eye. For the Lord recompenseth, and will give thee seven times as much” – Wisdom of the Son of Sirach 35:9-11. In nothing, therefore, is it more important than to examine the motives by which we give to the objects of benevolence. However liberal may be our benefactions, yet God may see that there is no sincerity, and may hate the spirit with which it is done.

John Calvin
2Co 9:12
By the term administration, he means what he had undertaken at the request of the Churches. Now what we render functionem(service), is in the Greek λειτουργία term that sometimes denotes a sacrifice, sometimes any office that is publicly assigned. Either of them will suit this passage well. For on the one hand, it is no unusual thing for alms to be termed sacrifices; and, on the other hand, as on occasion of offices being distributed among citizens, no one grudges to undertake the duty that has been assigned him, so in the Church, imparting to others ought to be looked upon as a necessary duty. The Corinthians, therefore, and others, by assisting the brethren at Jerusalem, presented a sacrifice to God, or they discharged a service that was proper, and one which they were bound to fulfill. Paul was the minister of that sacrifice, but the term ministry, or service, may also be viewed as referring to the Corinthians. It is, however, of no particular importance.

Albert Barnes
2Co 9:12
For the administration of this service – The distribution of this proof of your liberality. The word “service” here, says Doddridge, intimates that this was to be regarded not merely as an act of humanity, but religion.

The want of the saints – Of the poor Christians in Judea on whose behalf it was contributed.

But is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God – Will abound unto God in producing thanksgivings. The result will be that it will produce abundant thanksgiving in their hearts to God.

John Calvin
2Co 9:13
13. By the experiment of that administration The term experiment here, as in a variety of other places, means proof or trial For it was a sufficient token for bringing the love of the Corinthians to the test, — that they were so liberal to brethren that were at a great distance from them. Paul, however, extends it farther — to their concurrent obedience in the gospel. For by such proofs we truly manifest, that we are obedient to the doctrine of the gospel. Now their concurrence appears from this — that alms are conferred with the common consent of all.

Adam Clarke
2Co 9:13
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.

Albert Barnes
2Co 9:13
Whiles by the experiment … – Or rather, by the experience of this ministration; the proof (δοκιμῆς dokimēs), the evidence here furnished of your liberality. They shall in this ministration have experience or proof of your Christian principle.

They glorify God – They will praise God as the source of your liberality, as having given you the means of being liberal, and having inclined your hearts to it.

For your professed subjection … – Literally, “For the obedience of your profession of the gospel.” It does not imply merely that there was a profession of religion, but that there was a real subjection to the gospel which they professed. This is not clearly expressed in our translation. Tyndale has expressed it better, “Which praise God for your obedience in acknowledging the gospel of Christ.” There was a real and sincere submission to the gospel of Christ, and that was manifested by their giving liberally to supply the needs of others. The doctrine is, that one evidence of true subjection to the gospel; one proof that our profession is sincere and genuine, is a willingness to contribute to relieve the needs of the poor and afflicted friends of the Redeemer. And unto all people. That is, all others whom you may have the opportunity of relieving.

JohnCalvin
2Co 9:14
14. And their prayer He omits no advantage which may be of any use for stirring up the Corinthians. In the first place, he has made mention of the comfort that believers would experience; secondly, the thanksgiving, by means of which God was to be glorified. Nay more, he has said that this would be a confession, which would manifest to all their unanimous concurrence in faith, and in pious obedience.

He now adds the reward that the Corinthians would receive from the saints — good-will springing from gratitude, and earnest prayers. “They will have,” says he, “the means of requiting you in return; for they will regard you with the love with which they ought, and they will be careful to commend you to God in their prayers.” At length, as though he had obtained his desire, he prepares himself to celebrate the praises of God, by which he was desirous to testify the confidence felt by him, as though the matter were already accomplished.

Adam Clarke
2Co 9:14
The exceeding grace of God in you – By the υπερβαλλουσαν χαριν, 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.

Albert Barnes
2Co 9:14
And by their prayer for you – On the grammatical construction of this difficult verse, Doddridge and Bloomfield may be consulted. It is probably to be taken in connection with 2Co_9:12, and 2Co_9:13 is a parenthesis. Thus interpreted, the sense will be, “The administration of this service 2Co_9:12 will produce abundant thanks to God. It will also 2Co_9:14 produce another effect. It will tend to excite the prayers of the saints for you, and thus produce important benefits to yourselves. They will earnestly desire your welfare, they will anxiously pray to be united in Christian friendship with those who have been so signally endowed with the grace of God.” The sentiment is, that charity should be shown to poor and afflicted Christians because it will lead them to pray for us and to desire our welfare. The prayers of the poorest Christian for us are worth more than all we usually bestow on them in charity; and he who has secured the pleadings of a child of God, however humble, in his behalf, has made a good use of his money.

Which long after you – Who earnestly desire to see and know you. Who will sincerely desire your welfare, and who will thus be led to pray for you.

For the exceeding grace of God in you – On account of the favor which God has shown to you: the strength and power of the Christian principle, manifesting itself in doing good to those whom you have never seen. The apostle supposes that the exercise of a charitable disposition is to be traced entirely to God. God is the author of all grace; he alone excites in us a disposition to do good to others.

Matthew Poole
2Co 9:15
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.

Adam Clarke
2Co 9:15
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 ανεκδιηγητος δωρεα, unspeakable gift, is precisely the same with the ὑπερβαλλουση χαρις, 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.

Albert Barnes
2Co 9:15
Thanks be unto God – Whitby supposes that this refers to the charitable disposition which they had manifested, and that the sense is, that God was to be adored for the liberal spirit which they were disposed to manifest, and the aid which they were disposed to render to others. But this, it is believed, falls far below the design of the apostle. The reference is rather to the inexpressible gift which God had granted to them in bestowing his Son to die for them; and this is one of the most striking instances which occur in the New Testament, showing that the mind of Paul was full of this subject; and that wherever he began, he was sure to end with a reference to the Redeemer. The invaluable gift of a Saviour was so familiar to his mind, and he was so accustomed to dwell on that in his private thoughts, that the mind naturally and easily glanced on that whenever anything occurred that by the remotest allusion would suggest it. The idea is, “Your benefactions are indeed valuable; and for them, for the disposition which you have manifested, and for all the good which you will be enabled thus to accomplish, we are bound to give thanks to God. All this will excite the gratitude of those who shall be benefitted. But how small is all this compared with the great gift which God has imparted in bestowing a Saviour! That is unspeakable. No words can express it, no language convey an adequate description of the value of the gift, and of the mercies which result from it.”

His unspeakable gift – The word used here ἀνεκδιηγήτῳ anekdiēgētō means, what cannot be related, unutterable. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The idea is, that no words can properly express the greatness of the gift thus bestowed on man. It is higher than the mind can conceive; higher than language can express. On this verse we may observe:

(1) That the Saviour is a gift to mankind. So he is uniformly represented; see Joh_3:16; Gal_1:4; Gal_2:20; Eph_1:22; 1Ti_2:6; Tit_2:14. Man had no claim on God. He could not compel him to provide a plan of salvation; and the whole arrangement – the selection of the Saviour, the sending him into the world, and all the benefits resulting from his work, are all an undeserved gift to man.

(2) this is a gift unspeakably great, whose value no language can express, no heart fully conceive. It is so because:

(a) Of his own greatness and glory;

(b) Because of the inexpressible love which he evinced;

(c) Because of the unutterable sufferings which he endured;

(d) Because of the inexpressibly great benefits which result from his work. No language can do justice to this work in either of these respects; no heart in this world fully conceives the obligation which rests upon man in virtue of his work.

(3) thanks should be rendered to God for this. We owe him our highest praises for this. This appears:

(a) Because it was mere benevolence in God. We had no claim; we could not compel him to grant us a Saviour. The gift might have been withheld, and his throne would have been spotless, We owe no thanks where we have a claim; where we deserve nothing, then he who benefits us has a claim on our thanks.

(b) Because of the benefits which we have received from him. Who can express this? All our peace and hope; all our comfort and joy in this life; all our prospect of pardon and salvation; all the offers of eternal glory are to be traced to him. Man has no prospect of being happy when he dies but in virtue of the “unspeakable gift” of God. And when he thinks of his sins, which may now be freely pardoned; when he thinks of an agitated and troubled conscience, which may now be at peace; when he thinks of his soul, which may now be unspeakably and eternally happy; when he thinks of the hell from which he is delivered, and of the heaven to whose eternal glories he may now be raised up by the gift of a Saviour, his heart should overflow with gratitude, and the language should be continually on his lips and in his heart, “thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.” Every other mercy should seem small compared with this; and every manifestation of right feeling in the heart should lead us to contemplate the source of it, and to feel, as Paul did, that all is to be traced to the unspeakable gift of God.

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