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Commentary On Corinthians Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

2 Corinthians 9:10-15

10. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

10. Pro qui suppeditat semen seminanti, is et panem in cibum supeditet, et multiplicet sementem vestram, et augeat proventus iustitiae vestrae.

11. Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

11. Ut in omnibus locupletemini in omnem simplicitatem, quae per vos producit gratiarum actionem Deo.

12. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;

12. Nam ministerium huius functionis non solum supplet ea quae desunt sanctis: verum etiam exuberat in hoc, quod per multos agantur gratiae Deo:

13. Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;

13. Quod per probationem ministrii huius glorificant Deum super obedientia consensus vestri in Evangelium Christi: et de simplicatate communicationis in ipsos, et in omnes:

14. And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.

14. Et precatione eorum pro vobis: qui desiderant vos propter eminentem Dei gratiam in vobis.

15. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

15. Gratia autem Deo super inenarrabili suo munere.

10. He that supplieth. A beautieth circumlocution, in place of the term God, and full of consolation. For the person that sows seed in the proper season, appears when reaping to gather the fruit of his labor and industry, and sowing appears as though it were the fountainhead from which food flows forth to us. Paul opposes this idea, by maintaining that the seed is afforded and the food is furnished by the favor of God even to the husbandmen that sow, and who are looked upon as supporting themselves and others by their efforts. There is a similar statement in Deuteronomy 8:16,18 --

God fed thee with manna -- food which thy fathers knew not: lest perhaps when thou hast come into the land which he shall give thee, thou shouldst say, My hand and my strength have gotten, me this wealth; for it is the Lord that giveth power to get wealth, etc.

Supply Here there are two different readings, even in the Greek versions. For some manuscripts render the three verbs in the future -- will supply, will multiply, will increase. In this way, there would be a confirmation of the foregoing statement, for it is no rare thing with Paul to repeat the same promise in different words, that it may be the better impressed upon men's minds. In other manuscripts these words occur in the infinitive mood, and it is well known that the infinitive is sometimes used in place of the optative. I rather prefer this reading, both because it is the more generally received one, and because Paul is accustomed to follow up his exhortations with prayers, entreating from God what he had previously comprised in his doctrine; though at the same time the former reading would not be unsuitable.

Bread for food He mentions a two-fold fruit of the blessing of God upon us -- first, that we have sufficiency for ourselves for the support of life; and, secondly, that we have something to lay up for relieving the necessities of others. For as we are not born for ourselves merely, so a Christian man ought neither to live to himself, nor lay out what he has, merely for his own use.

Under the terms seed, and fruits of righteousness, he refers to alms. The fruits of righteousness he indirectly contrasts with those returns that the greater number lay up in cellars, barns, and keeping-places, that they may, every one of them, cram in whatever they can gather, nay, scrape together, so as to enrich themselves. By the former term he expresses the means of doing good; by the latter the work itself, or office of love; for righteousness is taken here, by synecdoche, to mean beneficence. |May God not only supply you with what may be sufficient for every one's private use, but also to such an extent, that the fountain of your liberality, ever flowing forth, may never be exhausted!| If, however, it is one department of righteousness -- as assuredly it is not the least -- to relieve the necessities of neighbors, those must be unrighteous who neglect this department of duty.

11. May be enriched unto all bountifulness. Again he makes use of the term bountifulness, to express the nature of true liberality -- when,

casting all our care upon God, (1 Peter 5:7,)

we cheerfully lay out what belongs to us for whatever purposes He directs. He teaches us that these are the true riches of believers, when, relying upon the providence of God for the sufficiency of their support, they are not by distrust kept back from doing good. Nor is it without good reason, that he dignifies with the title of affluence the satisfying abundance of a mind that is simple, and contented with its moderate share; for nothing is more famished and starved than the distrustful, who are tormented with an anxious desire of having.

Which produces through you. He commends, in consideration of another result, the alms which they were about to bestow -- that they would tend to promote the glory of God. He afterwards, too, expresses this more distinctly, with amplification, in this way: |Besides the ordinary advantage of love, they will also produce thanksgiving.| Now he amplifies by saying, that thanks will be given to God by many, and that, not merely for the liberality itself, by which they have been helped, but also for the entire measure of piety among the Corinthians.

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 leitourgia 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.

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.

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.

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