Notes on 2 Corinthians 9:8-15

2 Corinthians 9:8‑15  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 10
The close of the apostolic exhortation on giving is admirably in keeping with all we have had already. Not only does God love a cheerful giver, but He is able in His grace to see that there shall be means to give, and not in this form only, but for every good work. “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth.” (Prov. 11:2424There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. (Proverbs 11:24).)
“And God is able to make every grace abound unto you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in every [thing], may abound unto every good work; as it is written, He scattered, he gave to the poor: his righteousness remaineth forever.” (Vers. 8, 9.) No doubt that God has now revealed Himself in Christ according to His own nature, in view of heaven and eternity; no doubt He has given us life in His Son and redemption through His blood and union with that glorified man at His right hand, that we might glory in naught but His cross here below, and count not life dear to serve the Lord in His way and our measure, as we wait for Him from heaven. But this does not hinder the government of God and the pleasure He takes in blessing large and generous hearts, as of old, so now. Special privileges do not forbid His general principles, and His power finds a way in His wisdom to harmonize all. And the apostle, who knew better than any what it was to suffer with Christ and for Christ, is just the suited one, out of his capacious mind and heart, to communicate the assurance of these His unchanged ways, for which he cites Psa. 112:99He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honor. (Psalm 112:9); the beautiful description of man blessed in the kingdom when divine judgment introduces it by-and-by. Then the fear of Jehovah and obedience will have might on the same side, and judgment will return to righteousness, and wealth in no wise corrupt it, but it endures forever with a spirit of compassion and gracious consideration of others. There may be judicial ways peculiar to that day as looking on his enemies, and his horn exalted, &c.; but true righteousness, far from being hard, dispenses with liberal hand from that which grace supplies abundantly. Nor could it be otherwise in the estimate of a true heart that now, in the day when grace is vouchsafed in other and deeper ways, it should fail in this. It is not so however; and He-who shows us His mercy beyond measure or thought is able to make every grace abound, and this that we might have the blessed favor of imitating Him here too, or as the apostle puts it to the Corinthian saints, “that ye, at every time having every kind of sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work,” as it is written in the Psalms.
There is no need we may by the way remark of altering the force of righteousness here or elsewhere. It does not mean “benevolence” as the Geneva Version renders it with many a commentator, but comprehends it. Cf. Matt. 6:1, 21Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (Matthew 6:1‑2). Righteousness means consistency with relationship; and what can be more consistent than generous remembrance of want in others, especially in the household of faith, on the part of those who own that all is of grace in their own case?
But this is not all. Not only is God able thus to do, but He, the God of all grace, acts accordingly. “But he that supplieth seed to the sower and bread for eating will1 supply and multiply your sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness [you], being enriched in everything unto all liberality which worketh out through us thanksgiving to God.” (Vers. 10, 11.) It is not a wish or prayer as in the Authorized Version, nor is it (with the same Version, the Vulgate, Luther, Calvin, &c.) correct to construe χορηγήσαι “minister” or supply (were this the true form) with ἄρτον εὶς βρ. ("bread for your food"). Compare Isa. 55:1010For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: (Isaiah 55:10). It is an assurance that the God who amply provides for ourselves, loves to furnish means as well as opportunities of blessing to others, as He delights in owning and rewarding these fruits of righteousness, which are really of His grace, as if they were ours and not of Him by us. The form of the sentence following is slightly irregular, the sense quite sure and plain, without introducing the parenthesis of the English or other Versions. God would thus increase the fruits of their righteousness, while you are in everything being enriched with every kind of liberality, which is such as worketh out through us thanksgiving to God. The word translated “liberality” is given in Rom. 12:88Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:8) as “simplicity,” which is no doubt its literal force. But thence from conveying the absence of excuse for not giving it easily derived the sense here implied. The apostle acknowledges the source of all they had given that they might abound in good works, reminds them of his own share in it whether in strengthening their zeal or in dispensing the fruit, and anticipates the thanksgiving of those about to be relieved by it rising up to God.
On this last thought, the worthy conclusion of all previously urged, the apostle dilates to the end of the chapter. “Because the ministration of the service is not only filling up the wants of the saints, but also abounding through many thanksgivings to God; through the proof of this service [they] glorified God for the subjection of your confession unto the gospel of Christ and liberality of fellowship toward them and toward all; and their supplication for you, while longing for you, on account of the surpassing grace of God [bestowed] on you. Thanks to God for his unspeakable gift.” (Vers. 12-15.) Thus is shown the true and proper character of such a loving contribution for the poor saints. It is an honorable service and a ministry of love. It meets their wants, but it flows over, and rises into many thanksgivings to God. It drew out praise from those who received it in this subjection to His name; for why also thus liberally remember them at all? It roused them to prayer with earnest longing for those who manifested such grace. And if such be the blessed effect of love working, in the heart and the supplying the poor saints, with that which otherwise perishes in the using, what shall we say or feel, as we think of Christ? Thanks to God for His unspeakable gift. The reader will agree with me that it is strong to suppose the apostle could speak in such unmeasured terms of liberality in earthly things, however of grace. Spoken of Christ, of all God is to us in and by Him, what can be more proper? One would scarcely have deemed it needful to make even this brief remark, if Calvin and many others had not allowed a turn so derogatory, as it seems to me.