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Commentary On Corinthians Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

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, 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; 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 fellowmembers. 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.

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 hupostasis the Old Interpreter has rendered it substantiam, (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, ouch houto ten dunamin hos ten hupostasin kai tolman autou katapeplegmenon ton enantion -- |It was not so much his bodily strength, as his boldness and intrepidity, that proved confounding to the enemy.| Hence hupotatikos sometimes means one that is bold and confident. 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 eulogias to express the Hebrew word vrkh, (beracah,) which is used in the sense of a blessing, that is, an invoking of prosperity, as well as in the sense of beneficence. The reason I reckon to be this, that it is in the first instance ascribed to God. Now we know how God blesses us efficiently by his simple nod. 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, but yet not unsuitably by transference.

To blessing Paul opposes pleonexian, (grudging,) which term the Greeks employ to denote excessive greediness, as well as fraud and niggardliness. 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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