Notes on 2 Corinthians 9:1-7

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 10
But the apostle has a good deal more to say on a subject so constantly and often urgently needed in the assembly, where the poor are apt ever to abound. He had brought before the Corinthians the bright example of the Macedonian believers, notwithstanding circumstances most unpromising naturally. And this had stirred up the apostle to urge on Titus the completion of this grace also in Achaia which the Corinthians had begun a year ago. Not that he spoke by commandment, but through the zeal of others and proving the genuineness of their love, while setting before them the incomparable grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to act on their souls. So God in giving the manna to Israel took care that, whatever the inequality in gathering, none should be in excess and none want: was there to be less regard for each other in the church? Love desired not the ease of those, nor pressure on these, but rather a principle of equality in mutual consideration of each other, and this wherever the church is found. Then he sets forth the hearty diligence in this matter of Titus, who had gone about what remained to be done at Corinth with two other brethren; for thus had the apostle lent the contribution importance whilst guarding it from the smallest imputation of evil, and calling on the Corinthians to make good their love and his own boasting of them.
“For about the ministration for the saints it is superfluous for me to write to you. For I know your readiness which I boast of you to Macedonians that Achaia hath been prepared a year ago, and your1 zeal stimulated the mass. Yet I sent the brethren in order that our boasting of you may not be made vain in this respect, that (as I said) ye may be prepared; lest haply, if Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we may be ashamed, that we say not ye, in this confidence.2 I thought it necessary therefore to exhort the brethren that they would go before unto you and complete beforehand your blessing promised before,3 that it be ready thus as blessing, not as4 covetousness. But this [I say], he that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth in blessings shall reap also in blessings; each as he hath purposed5 in his heart, not of sorrow or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (Vers. 1-7.)
From Gal. 2:1111But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. (Galatians 2:11) we know how earnest our apostle was like the rest as to the general principle, and how in this particular case his heart went out to the distressed saints in Jerusalem, none the less because his part of the work was emphatically toward the Gentiles. But his delicacy is no less striking and instructive here, where he gives the saints in Corinth full credit for the same love which overflowed his own heart; “it is superfluous for me to write to you.” They had been taught it of God themselves. Why then did he write so amply? Not because he did not know their ready mind; not because they had failed to give him ground to glory in what God had wrought in this respect; for as he in the last chapter boasted of the Macedonians triumphing over their trying and needy circumstances in their most generous remembrance of the poor saints in Judea, so now he lets the Corinthian saints know his habit of boasting of themselves to Macedonians, and very especially in their preparation for this call a year ago.
Hence, no doubt it is that in his zeal for themselves and the Lord's honor in them, and seeking the happy flow of love in every way, he speaks (in the epistolary aorist) of sending the brethren referred to in the close of the preceding chapter, in order to guard in this particular against mishap in his boast on their behalf. He wanted them to be prepared beyond danger of disappointment as far as pains on his part could secure it. How painful for him, not to say for them, it would be if brethren came from Macedonia and found shortcoming in the very saints, the report of whose zeal had acted so powerfully in kindling their own! What shame on all sides if this confidence in the Corinthians should not prove well-founded He did not wish that there should be collections when he came himself; as he would guard against haste on the one hand or personal influence on the other, or malevolent insinuation. But his love for them and desire for the Lord's glory in the business made him exhort Titus and his two companions to go on before to Corinth and previous to his own arrival complete their fore-promised blessing. Compare, for this use of “blessing,” Gen. 33:1111Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it. (Genesis 33:11); Judg. 1:1515And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs. (Judges 1:15) Kings 5:15; it is love not in word nor in tongue, but in deed and in truth, 1 John 3:1818My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18).
The apostle's longing was, not merely that their proposed beneficence should be ready, but in such sort as blessing, and not as covetousness, meeting thus the danger on both sides. As he would have it a blessing on the givers' part, he repudiates all covetousness on the part of those receiving it for the poor saints. He does not seem to limit his caution to the former nor to allude in covetousness to a niggardly spirit, any more than to make πλ. mean “tenacity,” instead of the desire of having more which soon runs into tricky means to get it.
But this further he adds, a wholesome thing to remember, being truth in God's moral government, and of all moment in our life on earth: he that sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that sows with blessings shall reap also with blessings. It is no question of correspondence in kind, but it may be spiritually also and so much the better. Still it is true, and especially among God's people, as it always was. (See Prov. 11:24, 2524There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. 25The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. (Proverbs 11:24‑25).) Scripture indeed teems with it in one form or another; and experience is the sure and plain commentary. God despises not what is given to the poor saints; but the spirit of giving is far More important than the gift. Therefore the apostle follows up the apothegm he had just applied: each just as he has pre-determined in his heart, not of sorrow or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver, quoting Prov. 22:88He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail. (Proverbs 22:8), Alex. LXX. To grudge and grieve over what is given is unworthy of a saint of His; to exact it no less unworthy of His servant. How needed is faith here as everywhere how energetic is love, which is our only due spring in this as in all else practically, whatever the encouragements God may and does give those whom grace has called and strengthens to walk in the path of Christ Himself the sovereign giver of all good, He loves to see the reflection of His grace and blessing in His children.