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.
1. we do you to wit—we make known to
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, 19). The importance given in this Epistle
to the collection, arose as well from Paul's engagement (Ga 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.
2. trial of affliction—The Greek
expresses, "in affliction (or, 'tribulation') which tested
them"; literally, "in a great testing of affliction."
abundance of their joy—The greater was
the depth of their poverty, the greater was the abundance of their joy.
A delightful contrast in terms, and triumph, in fact, of spirit over
their deep poverty—Greek,
"their poverty down to the death of it."
abounded unto the riches of their
liberality—another beautiful contrast in terms: their
poverty had the effect, not of producing stinted gifts, but of
"abounding in the riches of liberality" (not as Margin,
"simplicity"; though the idea of singleness of motive to God's
glory and man's good, probably enters into the idea); (compare Ro 12:8, and Margin; 2Co 9:11, Margin; see on 2Co 9:13; Jas 1:5).
3-5. they were willing—rather, supply
8:5, the ellipsis thus,
"According to their power … yea, and beyond their power, THEY GAVE."
of themselves—not only not being
besought, but themselves beseeching us.
4. that we would receive—omitted in the
oldest manuscripts. Translate therefore, "Beseeching of us … the
grace and fellowship of (that is, to grant them the favor of sharing
in) the ministering unto the saints." The Macedonian contributions
must have been from Philippi, because Philippi was the only church that
contributed to Paul's support (Php 4:10, 15, 16).
5. And this they did, not as we
hoped—Translate, "And not as we hoped (that is, far beyond
our hopes), but their own selves gave they first to the Lord." "First,"
not indicating priority of time, but first of all, above all in
importance. The giving of themselves takes precedency of their
other gifts, as being the motive which led them to the latter (Ro 15:16).
by the will of God—not
"according to the will of God," but "moved by the will of
God, who made them willing" (Php 2:13). It is therefore called (2Co 8:1), "the grace of God."
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
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].
7. in faith—(2Co 1:24).
utterance—(See on 1Co 1:5). Not as Alford,
"doctrine" or "word."
diligence—in everything that is
your love to us—literally, "love from
you (that is, on your part) in us" (that is, which has us for its
object; which is felt in the case of us).
8. not by commandment—"not by way of
but by occasion of the forwardness of others,
and &c.—rather, "But by (mention of) the forwardness of
others (as an inducement to you), and to prove (literally, 'proving')
the sincerity of your love." The Greek is "by means of,"
not "on account of the forwardness," &c. Bengel, Ellicott, and
others translate, "By means of the forwardness of others,
proving the sincerity of your love ALSO." The former is the simpler construction in the
9. ye know the grace—the act of
gratuitous love whereby the Lord emptied Himself of His previous
heavenly glory (Php 2:6, 7)
for your sakes.
became poor—Yet this is not demanded
of you (2Co
8:14); but merely that,
without impoverishing yourselves, you should relieve others with your
abundance. If the Lord did so much more, and at so much heavier a cost,
for your sakes; much more may you do an act of love to your brethren at
so little a sacrifice of self.
might be rich—in the heavenly glory
which constitutes His riches, and all other things, so far as is really
good for us (compare 1Co 3:21, 22).
10. advice—Herein he does not (as some
misinterpret the passage) disclaim inspiration for the advice he gives;
but under the Spirit, states that it is his "opinion" [Alford] or "judgment" [Ellicott, and others], not a command, that so
their offering might be free and spontaneous.
this—my giving you an advice,
not a command.
who have begun before—"seeing
that ye have begun before" the Macedonian churches;
"a year ago" should be connected with this clause.
not only to do, but also to be
forward—There were three steps: (1) the forwardness,
more literally, "the will"; (2) the setting about it, literally,
"doing it"; (3) completion of it [Alford]. In the two former, not only the act,
but the intention, the Corinthians preceded the
Macedonians. Bengel explains, "Not
only to do" FOR THE PAST YEAR, "but also
to be forward" or willing FOR THIS
YEAR. Ellicott translates,
"already," instead of "before": "Ye began already a year ago, not only
to do, but also to be forward." It appears hence, that something had
been done in the matter a year before; other texts, however, show the
collection was not yet paid (compare 2Co 8:11 and 2Co 9:5, 7). This agrees with one, and only
one supposition, namely, that every man had laid by in store the fund
from which he was afterwards to contribute, the very case which is
shown by 1Co 16:2 to
have existed [Paley, Horæ
11. perform—"complete the doing also"
(see on 2Co 8:10).
a readiness to will—Greek,
"the readiness of will"; referring to 2Co 8:10, where the Greek for "to be
forward," ought to be translated as here, "to will."
performance—"completion" [Alford], The godly should show the same zeal to
finish, as well as to begin well, which the worldly exhibit in their
undertakings (Jer 44:25).
12. For—Following up the rule "out of
that which ye have" (2Co 8:11),
and no more.
a willing mind—rather, as
Greek, "the readiness," namely, to will, referring to 2Co 8:11.
according to that a man hath—The
oldest manuscripts omit "a man." Translate, "According to whatsoever it
have"; the willing mind, or "readiness" to will, is personified
[Alford]. Or better, as Bengel, "He is accepted according to
whatsoever he have"; so 2Co 9:7, The
Lord loveth a cheerful giver." Compare as to David, 1Ki 8:18. God accepts the will for the deed. He
judges not according to what a man has the opportunity to do, but
according to what he would do if he had the opportunity (compare Mr 14:8; and the widow's mite, Lu 21:3, 4).
13. For—Supply from 2Co 8:8, "I speak." My aim is not that others
(namely, the saints at Jerusalem) may be relieved at the cost of your
being "distressed" (so the Greek for "burdened"). The golden
rule is, "Love thy neighbour as thyself," not more than
14. by an equality—"by the rule of
equality" [Alford]: literally, "Out of
now at this time—Greek, "at the
present juncture" or season.
that their abundance also—The
Greek being distinct from the previous "that," translate, "in
order that," namely, at another season, when your relative
circumstances may be reversed. The reference is solely to
temporal wants and supplies. Those, as Bengel, who quote Ro 15:27 for interpreting it of spiritual
supplies from the Jews to the Gentiles, forget that Ro 15:27 refers to the past benefit
spiritually, which the Jews have conferred on the Gentiles, as a motive
to gratitude on the part of the latter, not to a
prospective benefit to be looked for from the former, which the
text refers to.
15. (Ex 16:18; Septuagint). As God gave an
equal portion of manna to all the Israelites, whether they could gather
much or little; so Christians should promote by liberality an equality,
so that none should need the necessaries of life while others have
superfluities. "Our luxuries should yield to our neighbor's comforts;
and our comforts to his necessities" [J.
16, 17. Returning to the subject of 2Co 8:6.
for you—Translate, "Which put the same
earnest care for you into the heart of Titus," as was in myself. My
care for you led me to "desire" him (2Co 8:6, 17, "exhortation," the same
Greek); but Titus had of himself the same care, whence he
"accepted (gladly) my exhortation" (2Co 8:17) to go to you (2Co 8:6).
17. being more forward—more earnest than
to need such exhortation.
he went—Greek, "went forth."
We should say, he is going forth; but the ancients put
the past tense in letter writing, as the things will have been
past by the time that the correspondent, receives the letter. "Of his
own accord," that is, it is true he has been exhorted by me to go, but
he shows that he has anticipated my desires, and already, "of his own
accord," has desired to go.
18. the brother, whose praise is in the
gospel—whose praise is known in connection with the Gospel:
Luke may be meant; not that "the Gospel" here refers to his
written Gospel; but the language implies some one well known
throughout the churches, and at that time with Paul, as Luke then was
20:6). Not a Macedonian, as
appears from 2Co 9:4. Of
all Paul's "companions in travel" (2Co 8:19; Ac 19:29), Luke was the most prominent, having
been his companion in preaching the Gospel at his first entrance into
16:10). The fact that the
person here referred to was "chosen of the churches" as their trustee
to travel with Paul in conveying the contribution to Jerusalem, implies
that he had resided among them some time before: this is true of Luke,
who after parting from Paul at Philippi (as he marks by the change from
"we" to "they," Ac 16:11)
six years before, is now again found in his company in Macedonia. In
the interim he had probably become so well known that "his praise was
throughout all the churches." Compare 2Co 12:18; Phm 24. He who is faithful in the Gospel will
be faithful also in matters of inferior importance [Bengel].
19. not that only—not only
praised in all the churches.
chosen—by vote: so the
of the churches—therefore these
companions of Paul are called "messengers of the churches" (2Co 8:23).
to travel—to Jerusalem.
with this grace—Greek, "in
the case of this grace," or "gift."
to the glory of the same Lord—The
oldest manuscripts omit "same."
declaration of your ready mind—The
oldest manuscripts read, "our," not your. This and the previous
clause, "to the glory of the same Lord," do not follow "administered by
us," but "chosen of the churches to travel," &c. The union of the
brother with Paul in this affair of the collection was done to guard
against suspicions injurious "to the glory" of the Lord. It was also
done in order to produce a "readiness" on the part of Paul and the
brother to undertake the office which each, by himself, would have been
less ready to undertake, for fear of suspicions arising (2Co 8:20) as to their appropriation of any of the
20. Avoiding—taking precautions against
in this abundance—in the case of
21. The Septuagint (Pr 3:4; Ro
12:17). The oldest
manuscripts read, "For we provide."
honest things—"things honorable."
22. This second brother, Birks supposes to be Trophimus: for a Macedonian is
not meant (2Co 9:4)
probably the same as was sent before with Titus (2Co 12:18); and therefore sent from Ephesus, and
probably an Ephesian: all this is true of Trophimus.
oftentimes … in many things—Join
and translate as in the Greek, "many times in many things."
upon the great confidence which I have in
you—"through the great confidence WHICH HE HAS towards you" [Alford]. Bengel
better supports English Version, "We have sent … through
the confidence WHICH WE FEEL in regard
to your liberality."
23. fellow helper concerning
you—Greek, "fellow worker towards you."
our brethren—the two mentioned in
messengers—rather, as the
Greek, "apostles": in the less strict sense (Ac 14:14).
of the churches—sent by the churches,
as we are by the Lord (Php 2:25).
There was in the synagogue an ecclesiastical officer, called "the angel
of the Church," whence the title seems derived (compare Re 2:1).
24. The oldest manuscripts read "[continue]
manifesting to them in the face of the churches the
manifestation of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf."