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2 Corinthians 9 Commentary

A verse by verse commentary with quotations from many different authors.
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  2 CORITHIAS 9 COMMETARY Edited by Glenn Pease ITRODUCTIO BARES, I this chapter the apostle continues the subject which he had discussed in 2Corinthians 8 --the collection which he had purposed to make for the poor saints in Judea. The deep anxiety which he had that the collection should be liberal; that it should not only be such as to be really an aid to those who were suffering, but be such as would be an expression of tender attachment to them on the part of the Gentile converts, was the reason, doubtless, why Paul urged this so much on their attention. His primary wish undoubtedly was to furnish aid to those who were suffering. But in connexion with that, he also wished to excite a deep interest among the Gentile converts in behalf of those who had been converted to Christianity among the Jews. He wished that the collection should be so liberal as to show that they felt that they were united as brethren, and that they were grateful that they had received the true religion from the Jews. And he doubtless wished to cement as much as possible the great body of the Christian brotherhood, and to impress on their minds the great truths, that whatever was their national srcin, and whatever were their national distinctions, yet in Christ they were one. For this purpose he presses on their attention a great variety of considerations why they should give liberally: and this chapter is chiefly occupied in stating reasons for that, in addition to those which had been urged in the previous chapter.“The argument here is, that Paul's veracity and their own character were at stake, and depended on their now giving liberally.”ote the word anxiety. It is clear that Paul was experiencing many emotions of anxiety in these chapters, for he had such a great goal and so much uncertainty about the cooperation of all involved. He is managing a major project, the success of which depended on all pitching in with enthusiasm. 1There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints.  1. BARES, 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. 2. HAWKER, Paul useth the best of all arguments, to recommend every species of charity, both in this, and all his Epistles; namely, the relationship between Christ and his people. And very certain it is, that where the love of Christ is shed abroad in the heart, the streams of it will diffuse itself to all his members. And indeed, the charity, or love,  which doth not begin in this source, hath no security for any continuance. And, even in the time that it flows, as it riseth only in creature affection, it is the subject only of what is fickle, and momentary; and either soon dries up of itself, or is stopped by caprice, or the changeableness of the human mind. It is only that love which begins in God, which is kept alive in communications from God; and being chiefly directed to his glory, hath a spring to depend upon for its continuance towards God’s people forever! 3. GILL, For as touching the ministering to the saints ,.... It looks at first sight as if the apostle was entering upon a new subject, though by what follows it appears to  be the same; for by ministering to the saints , he does not mean the ministry of the Gospel to them; nor that mutual assistance members of churches are to give each other;  but either the fellowship of ministering to the saints, which the churches had entreated him, and his fellow ministers, to take upon them, namely, to take the charge of their collections, and distribute them to the poor saints at Jerusalem; or rather these collections themselves, and their liberality in them: with respect to which he says, it is superfluous for me to write to you ; that is, he thought it unnecessary to say any more upon that head, because he had used so many arguments already to engage them in it, in the foregoing chapter; and because he had sent three brethren to them,  who well understood the nature of this service, and were very capable of speaking to it, and of enforcing the reasonings already used; and more especially he judged it needless to dwell on this subject, for the reasons following. 4. HERY, In these verses the apostle speaks very respectfully to the Corinthians, and with great skill; and, while he seems to excuse his urging them so earnestly to charity, still presses them thereto, and shows how much his heart was set upon this matter.I. He tells them it was needless to press them with further arguments to afford relief to their poor brethren (2Co_9:1), being satisfied he had said enough already to prevail with those of whom he had so good an opinion. For, 1.  He knew their forwardness  to every good work, and how they had begun this good work a year ago, insomuch that, 2. He had  boasted of their zeal to the Macedonians, and this had provoked many of them to do as they had done. Wherefore he was persuaded, that, as they had begun well, they would go  on well; and so, commending them for what they had done, he lays an obligation on them to proceed and persevere.4B. CALVIN, 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; 704 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. 705 Paul, however, had in view, what believers owe to their fellowmembers. 706 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. 5. EBC 1-5, 2Co_9:1-5This section strikes one at first as greatly wanting in connection  with what precedes. It looks like a new beginning, an independent writing on the same or a similar subject. This has led some scholars to argue that either 2Co_8:1-24. or 2Co_ 9:1-15. belongs to a different occasion, and that only resemblance in subject has led to one of them being erroneously inserted here beside the other. This in the absence of any external indication, Is an extremely violent supposition; and closer examination goes to dissipate that first impression. The statements, e.g., in 2Co_9:3-5 would be quite unintelligible if we had not 2Co_8:16-24to explain them; and instead of saying there is no connection between 2Co_9:1and what precedes, we should rather say that the connection is somewhat involved and circuitous-as will happen when one is handling a topic of unusual difficulty. It is to be explained thus. The Apostle feels that he has said a good deal now about the collection, and that there is a danger in being too urgent. He  uses what he has just said about the reception of the brethren as a stepping-stone to another view of the subject, more flattering to the Corinthians, to begin with, and less importunate. Maintain your character before them, he says in effect; for as for the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to be writing to you as I do. Instead of finding it necessary to urge their duty upon them, he has been able to hold up their readiness as an example to the Macedonians. Achaia has been prepared for a year past, he said to his fond disciples in Thessalonica and Philippi; and the zeal of the Achaians, or rivalry of them, roused the majority of the Macedonians. This is one way of looking at  what happened; another, and surely Paul would have been the first to say a more profound, is that of 2Co_8:1-the grace of God was given in the Churches of Macedonia. But the grace of God takes occasions, and uses means; and here its opportunity and its instrument for working in Macedonia was the ready generosity of the Corinthians. It has  wrought, indeed, so effectively that the tables are turned, and now it is the liberality of Macedonia which is to provoke Corinth. Paul is sending on these brethren beforehand, lest, if any of the Macedonians should accompany him when he starts for Corinth himself, they should find matters not so flourishing as he had led them to believe. That  would put me to shame, he says to the Corinthians, not to speak of you. I have been  very confident in speaking of you as I have done in Macedonia: do keep up my credit and  your own. Let this blessing, which you are going to bestow on the poor, be ready as a  blessing-i.e., as something which one gives willingly, and as liberally as he can; and not as a matter of avarice, in which one gives reluctantly, keeping as much as he can. The legitimacy of such motives as are appealed to in this paragraph will always be more or less questioned among Christian men, but as long as human nature is what it is they  will always be appealed to. Ζηλτυπον γρ τ τν νθρπων γένος  (Chrys.). A great man of action like St. Paul will of course find his temptation along this line. He is so eager to get men to act, and the inertness of human nature is so great, that it is hard to decline anything which will set it in motion. It is not the highest motive, certainly, when the forwardness of one stimulates another; but in a good cause, it is better than none. A good cause, too, has a wonderful power of its own when men begin to attend to it; it asserts itself, and takes possession of souls on its own account. Rivalry becomes generous then, even if it remains; it is a race in love that is being run, and all who run obtain the prize. Competitions for prizes which only one can gain have a great deal in them that is selfish and bad; but rivalry in the service of others-rivalry in unselfishness- will not easily degenerate in this direction. Paul does not need to be excused because he stimulates the Macedonians by the promptitude of the Corinthians-though he had his misgivings about this last-and the Corinthians by the liberality of the Macedonians. The real motive in both cases was the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor. It is this which underlies everything in the Christian heart, and nothing can do harm which works as its auxiliary.6. BI 1-5, Liberal givingI.  Why does God call us to give? 1. He cannot need our gifts. We can give Him nothing that we did not first get from Him. 2. It must be somehow for our sakes. Giving is God’s way of getting for ourselves the highest good. The root of sin is selfishness. God would have us grow bigger, have a larger world to live in, find a higher joy; and the secret of all this change is giving. It is a curious fact that we call a man who gets but does not give a “miser,” that is, a miserable man. The true worth of money is never learned until we begin to make
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