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2 Corinthians 9:1-5

1. For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:

1. Nam de subministratione quae fit in sanctos, supervacuum mihi est scribere vobis.

2. For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.

2. Novi enim promptitudinem animi vestri, de qua pro vobis gloriatus sum apud Macedones: quod Achaia parata sit ab anno superiori: et aemulatio vestri excitavit complures.

3. Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:

3. Misi autem fratres, ut ne gloriatio nostra de vobis inanis fiat in hac parte: ut, quemadmodum dixi, parati sitis.

4. Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.

4. Ne si forte mecum venerint Macedones, et vos deprehenderint imparatos, nos pudore suffundamur (ne dicam vos) in hac fiducia gloriationis.

5. Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.

5. Necessarium ergo existimavi, exhortari fratres, ut ante venirent ad vos: ut praepararent qante promissam benedictionem vestram, quo in promptu sit, atque ita ut benedictio, 703703     “Comme benediction, c’est a dire, son liberal, ou beneficence;” — “As a blessing, that is to say, a liberal gift or kindness.” non tenacitas.

 

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; 704704     “Ou vous espargner en leur endroit;” — “Or to spare yourselves as to what you owe 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. 705705     “Vn titre plus magnifique et honorable;” — “A more magnificent and honorable designation.” Paul, however, had in view, what believers owe to their fellowmembers. 706706     “Ceux qui sont membres d’vn mesme corps auec eux;” — “Those that are members of the same body with themselves.” 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.

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. 707707     “Le Sainct Apostre donc parloit de ceste promesse des Corinthiens;” — “The holy Apostle, therefore, spoke of this promise of the Corinthians.”

3. But I have sent the brethren. He now brings forward the reason — why it is that, while entertaining a favorable opinion as to their willingness, he, nevertheless, sets himself carefully to exhort them. “I consult,” says he, “my own good name and yours; for while I promised in your name, we would, both of us in common, incur disgrace, if words and deeds did not correspond. Hence you ought to take my fears in good part.”

4. In this confidence The Greek term being ὑπόστασις the Old Interpreter has rendered it substantiam, (substance.) 708708     In Wiclif’s version, (1380,) the rendering is, “in this substaunce;” Rheims (1582) has, “in this substance.” Erasmus renders it argumentum, (subject-matter,) but neither is suitable. Budaeus, however, observes, that this term is sometimes taken to mean boldness, or confidence, as it is used by Polybius when he says, ὀυχ οὑτω την δύναμιν ὡς τὴν ὑπόστασιν καὶ τόλμαν αὐτοῦ καταπεπληγμένον τῶν εναντίων — “It was not so much his bodily strength, as his boldness and intrepidity, that proved confounding to the enemy.” 709709     The expression here quoted from Polybius, (lib. 6: cap. 53, p. 691,) is made use of by the historian in relating a heroic exploit of Publius Horatius Cocles, who, on occasion of a sudden attempt being made upon the city of Rome by Porsena, king of Clusium, the most powerful prince at that time in Italy, having stationed himself, with singular intrepidity, on the Sublician bridge, along with two others, withstood the attack of the enemy, and effectually obstructed their progress, until the bridge was cut down from behind, after which he leaped into the river, and swam across to his friends in safety, amidst the darts of the enemy. In honor of this daring adventure, a statue of Cocles, as is stated by Livy, (2:10,) was placed in the Comitium, and a grant of land was made to him, as much as he could plow round in one day. Raphelius adduces another instance in which Polybius employs ὑπόστασις in the same sense — “When the Rhodians,” says he, “perceive τὴν τῶν Βυζαντιῶν ὑποστασαι — the intrepidity of the Byzantians.” (Pol. lib. 6: p. 440.) — Ed Hence ὑποτατικός sometimes means one that is bold and confident. 710710     The adjective ὑποστατικός is used in this sense by Aristotle, Eth. End. ii. 5, 5, and the adverb derived from it, ὑποστατικῶς, has a corresponding signification in Polybius, (lib. 5: cap. 16, p. 508, line 1,) Τοῦ δὲ βασιλέως ὑποστατικῶς φήσαντος “the king having spoken with firmness.” — Ed. Now every one must see, how well this meaning accords with Paul’s thread of discourse. Hence it appears, that other interpreters have, through inadvertency, fallen into a mistake.

5. As a blessing, not in the way of niggardliness In place of blessing, some render it collection. I have preferred, however, to render it literally, as the Greeks employed the term εὐλογίας to express the Hebrew word ברכה, (beracah,) which is used in the sense of a blessing, that is, an invoking of prosperity, as well as in the sense of beneficence. 711711     “Qui signifie tant benediction, c’est a dire vn souhait ou priere pour la prosperite d’autruy, que beneficence ou liberalite;” — “Which denotes blessing — that is to say, a desire or prayer for the prosperity of another, as well as beneficence, or liberality.” The reason I reckon to be this, that it is in the first instance ascribed to God. 712712     “Ie pense que la raison de ceste derniere signification est, pource que ce mot est en premier lieu et proprement attribue a Dieu;” — “I think that the reason of this last signification is — because it is in the first place and properly ascribed to God.” Now we know how God blesses us efficiently by his simple nod. 713713     “Par la seule et simple volonte;” — “By a mere simple exercise of the will.” When it is from this transferred to men, it retains the same meaning, — improperly, indeed, inasmuch as men have not the same efficacy in blessing, 714714     “Que Dieu ha;” — “That God has.” but yet not unsuitably by transference. 715715     “God’s blessing of us, and our blessing of God, differ exceedingly. For God blesseth us efficiently, by exhibiting his mercies to us. We bless God, not by adding any good to him, but declaratively only. God’s betedicere is benefacerehis words are works, but our blessing (as Aquinas says) is only recognoscitium, and expressivuman acknowledgment only and celebration of that goodness.which God hath.” — Burgesse on 2 Corinthians 1. — Ed.

To blessing Paul opposes πλεονεξίαν, (grudging,) which term the Greeks employ to denote excessive greediness, as well as fraud and niggardliness. 716716     “Qui signifie tant couuoitise exccssiue, ou auarice, que chichete, et quand on rogne quelque chose de ce qu’il faudroit donner;” — “Which denotes excessive covetousness or avarice, as well as niggardliness, and when one pares off something from what he should give.” I have rather preferred the term niggardliness in this contrast; for Paul would have them give, not grudgingly, but. with a liberal spirit, as will appear still more clearly from what follows.


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