RPM, Volume 18, Number 32, July 31 to August 6, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament
Explanatory and Practical
Part 65

By Albert Barnes



Introduction of 2nd Corinthians Chapter 8

IN the previous chapter the apostle had expressed his entire confidence in the ready obedience, of the Corinthians in all things. To this confidence he had been led by the promptitude with which they had complied with his commands in regard to the case of discipline there, and by the respect which they had shown to Titus, whom he had sent to them. All that he had ever said in their favour had been realized; all that had ever been asked of them had been accomplished. The object of his Statement in the close of 2 Co 7 seems to have been to excite them to diligence in completing the collection which they had begun for the poor and afflicted saints of Judea. On the consideration of that subject, which lay so near his heart, he now enters; and this chapter and the following are occupied with suggesting arguments and giving directions for a liberal contribution.

Paul had given directions for taking up this collection in the first epistle. See 2 Co 8:1, seq. Comp. Ro 15:26. This collection he had given Titus direction to take up when he went to Corinth. See 2 Co 8:6-17. But from some cause it had not been completed, 2 Co 8:10,11. What that cause was, is not stated; but it may have been possibly the disturbances which had existed there, or the opposition of the enemies of Paul, or the attention which was necessarily bestowed in regulating the affairs of the church. But in order that the contribution might be made, and might be a liberal one, Paul presses on their attention several considerations designed to excite them to give freely. The chapter is, therefore, of importance to us, as it is a statement of the duty of giving liberally to the cause of benevolence, and of the motives by which it should be done. In the presentation of this subject, Paul urges upon them the following considerations:

He appeals to the very liberal example of the churches of Macedonia, where, though they were exceedingly poor, they had contributed with great cheerfulness and liberality to the object, 2 Co 8:1-5.

From their example he had been induced to desire Titus to lay the subject before the church at Corinth, and to finish the collection which he had begun, 2 Co 8:6.

He directs them to abound in this, not as a matter of commandment, but excited by the example of others, 2 Co 8:7,8.

He appeals to them by the love of the Saviour; reminds them that though he was rich, yet he became poor, and that they were bound to imitate his example, 2 Co 8:9.

He reminds them of their intention to make such a contribution, and of the effort which they had made a year before; and though they had been embarrassed in it, and might find it difficult still to give as much as they had intended, or as much as they would wish, still it would be acceptable to God. For if there was a willing mind, God accepted the offering,2 Co 8:10-12.

He assures them that it was not his wish to burden or oppress them. All that he desired was that there should be an equality in all the churches, 2 Co 8:13-15.

To show them how much he was interested in this, he thanks God that he had put it into the heart of Titus to engage in it. And in order more effectually to secure it, he says that he had sent with Titus a brother who was well known, and whose praise was in all the churches. He had done this in order that the churches might have entire confidence that the contribution would be properly distributed. Paul did not wish it to be intrusted to himself. He would leave no room for suspicion in regard to his own character; he would furnish the utmost security to the churches that their wishes were complied with. He desired to act honestly not only in the sight of the Lord, but to furnish evidence of his entire honesty to men, 2 Co 8:16-21.

To secure the same object he had also sent another brother; and these three brethren he felt willing to recommend as faithful and tried—as men in whom the church at Corinth might repose the utmost confidence, 2 Co 8:22-24.

Verse 1. Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit. We make known to you; we inform you. The phrase, "we do you to Wit," is used in Tindal's translation, and means, "we cause you to know." The purpose for which Paul informed them of the liberality of the churches of Macedonia was to excite them to similar liberality.

Of the grace of God, etc. The favour which God had shown them in exciting a spirit of liberality, and in enabling them to contribute to the fund for supplying the wants of the poor saints at Jerusalem. The word "grace" (carin) is sometimes used in the sense of gift, and the phrase "gift of God" some have supposed mast mean very great gift, where the words "of God" may be designed to mark anything very eminent or excellent, as in the phrase "cedars of God," "mountains of God," denoting very great cedars, very great mountains. Some critics (as Macknight, Bloomfield, Locke, and others) have supposed that this means that the churches of Macedonia had been able to contribute largely to the aid of the saints at Judea. But the more obvious and correct interpretation, as I apprehend, is that which is implied in the common version, that the phrase "grace of God" means that God had bestowed on them grace to give according to their ability in this cause. According to this it is implied,

(1.) that a disposition to contribute to the cause of benevolence is to be traced to God. He is its Author. He excites it. It is not a plant of native growth in the human heart; but a large and liberal spirit of benevolence is one of the effects of his grace, and is to be traced to him.

(2.) It is a favour bestowed on a church when God excites in it a spirit of benevolence. It is one of the evidences of his love. And indeed there cannot be a higher proof of the favour of God, than when by his grace he inclines and enables us to contribute largely to meliorate the condition, and to alleviate the wants of our fellow-men. Perhaps the apostle here meant delicately to hint this. He did not therefore say coldly that the churches of Macedonia had contributed to this object, but he speaks of it as a favour shown to them by God that they were able to do it. And he meant, probably, gently to intimate to the Corinthians that it would be an evidence that they were enjoying the favour of God, if they should contribute in like manner.

The churches of Macedonia. Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea. For an account of Macedonia, See Barnes "Ac 16:9" See Barnes "Ro 15:26".

Of these churches, that at Philippi seems to have been most distinguished for liberality, (Php 4:10,15,16,18, ) though it is probable that other churches contributed according to their ability, as they are commended (comp. 2 Co 9:2) without distinction.

{*} "to wit" "We make known to you"

{a} "churches of Macedonia" 2 Co 9:2,4


Verse 2. How that, in a great trial of affliction. When it might be supposed they were unable to give; when many would suppose they needed the aid of others; or when it might be supposed their minds would be wholly engrossed with their own concerns. The trial to which the apostle here refers was doubtless some persecution which Was excited against them, probably by the Jews. Ac 16:20; 17:5.

The abundance of their joy. Their joy arising from the hopes and promises of the gospel. Notwithstanding their persecutions, their joy has abounded, and the effect of their joy has been seen in the liberal contribution which they have made. Their joy could not be repressed by their persecution, and they cheerfully contributed largely to the aid of others.

And their deep poverty. Their very low estate of poverty was made to contribute liberally to the wants of others. It is implied here,

(1.) that they were very poor—a fact arising probably from the consideration that the poor gene- rally embraced the gospel first, and also because it is probable that they were molested and stripped of their property in persecutions. Comp. Heb 10:34.

(2.) That notwithstanding this they were enabled to make a liberal contribution—a fact demonstrating that a people can do much even when poor, if all feel disposed to do it, and that afflictions are favourable to the effort. And,

(3.) that one cause of this was the joy which they had even in their trials. If a people have the joys of the gospel; if they have the consolations of religion themselves, they will somehow or other find means to contribute to the welfare of others. They will be willing to labour with reference to it, or they will find something which they can sacrifice or spare. Even their deep poverty will abound in the fruits of benevolence.

Abounded. They contributed liberally. Their joy was manifested in a large donation, notwithstanding their poverty.

Unto the riches of their liberality, Marg., "simplicity." The word (aplothv) here used, means properly sincerity, candour, probity; then Christian simplicity, integrity; then liberality. See Ro 12:8, (Marg.;) 2 Co 9:11,13. The phrase, "riches of liberality," is a Hebraism, meaning rich or abundant liberality; The sense is, their liberality was much greater than could be expected from persons so poor; and the object of the apostle is to excite the Corinthians to give liberally by their example.

{b} "deep poverty" Mr 12:44

{1} "liberality" "simplicity"


Verse 3. For to their power. To the utmost of their ability.

I bear record. Paul had founded those churches, and had spent much time with them. He was therefore well qualified to bear testimony in regard to their condition.

Yea, and beyond their power. Beyond what could have been expected; or beyond what it would have been thought possible in their condition. Doddridge remarks that this is a noble hyperbole, similar to that used by Demosthenes when he says, "I have performed all, even with an industry beyond my power." The sense is, they were willing to give more than they were well able. It shows the strong interest which they had in the subject, and the anxious desire which they had to relieve the wants of others.

Of themselves, auyairetoi. Acting from choice; self-moved; voluntarily; of their own accord. They did not wait to be urged and pressed to do it. They rejoiced in the opportunity of doing it. They came forward of their own accord and made the contribution. "God loveth a cheerful giver," 2 Co 9:7; and from all the accounts which we have of these churches in Macedonia, it is evident that they were greatly distinguished for their cheerful liberality.


Verse 4. Praying us with much entreaty. Earnestly entreating me to receive the contribution, and convey it to the poor and afflicted saints in Judea.

And take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. Greek, "that we would take the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints." They asked of us to take part in the labour of conveying it to Jerusalem. The occasion of this distress which made the collection for the saints of Judea necessary, was probably the famine which was predicted by Agabus, and which occurred in the time of Claudius Caesar. See Barnes "Ac 11:28".

Barnabas was associated with Paul in conveying the contribution to Jerusalem, Ac 11:30. Paul was unwilling to do it unless they particularly desired it, and he seems to have insisted that some person shoed be associated with him, 2 Co 8:20; 1 Co 16:3,4.

{e} "fellowship" Ac 11:29; Ro 15:25,26


Verse 5. And this they did, etc. They did not give what we expected only. We knew their poverty, and we expected only a small sum from them.

Not as we hoped. Not according to the utmost of our hopes. We were greatly disappointed in the amount which they gave, and in the manner in which it was done.

But first gave their own selves to the Lord. They first made an entire consecration of themselves and all that they had to the Lord. They kept nothing back. They felt that all they had was his. And where a people honestly and truly devote themselves to God, they will find no difficulty in having the means to contribute to the cause of charity.

And unto us by the will of God. That is, they gave themselves to us to be directed in regard to the contribution to be made. They complied with our wishes and followed our directions. The phrase, "by the will of God," means evidently that God moved them to this, or that it was to be traced to his direction and providence. It is one of the instances in which Paul traces everything that is right and good to the agency and direction of God.

{*} "Hoped" "expected"


Verse 6. Insomuch. The sense of this passage seems to be this: "We were encouraged by this unexpected success among the Macedonians. We were surprised at the extent of their liberality. And encouraged by this, we requested Titus to go among you and finish the collection which you had proposed, and which you had begun. Lest you should be outstripped in liberality by the comparatively poor Macedonian Christians, we were anxious that you should perform what you had promised and contemplated; and we employed Titus, therefore, that he might go at once and finish the collection among you."

The same grace also. Marg., "gift." See Barnes "2 Co 8:1".

The word refers to the contribution which he wished to be made.

{1} "same grace" "gift"

{+} "grace also" "liberally"


Verse 7. Therefore, as ye abound in every thing. See Barnes "1 Co 1:6".

Paul never hesitated to commend Christians, where it could be done with truth; and the fact that they were eminent in some of the Christian duties and graces, he makes the ground of the exhortation that they would abound in all. From those who had so many eminent characteristics of true religion he had a right to expect much; and he therefore exhorts them to manifest a symmetry of Christian character.

In faith. In the full belief of the truth and obligation of the gospel.

And utterance. In the ability to instruct others; perhaps referring to their power of speaking foreign languages, 1 Co 14.

And knowledge. The knowledge of God, and of his truth.

And in all diligence. Diligence or readiness in the discharge of every duty. Of this, Paul had full evidence in their readiness to comply with his commands in the case of discipline to which so frequent reference is made in this epistle.

And in your love to us. Manifested by the readiness with which you received our commands. See 2 Co 7:4,6,7,11,16.

See that ye abound in this grace also. The idea here is, that eminence in spiritual endowments of any kind, Or in any of the traits of the Christian character, should lead to great benevolence, and that the character is not complete unless benevolence be manifested toward every good object that may be presented.

{a} "abound" 1 Co 1:5

{++} "grace" "liberality"


Verse 8. I speak not by commandment. This does not mean that he had no express command of God in the case, but that he did not mean to command them; he did not speak authoritatively; he did not intend to prescribe what they should give. He used only moral motives, and urged the considerations which he had done to persuade rather than to command them to give. 2 Co 8:10. He was endeavoring to induce them to give liberally, not by abstract command and law, but by showing them what others had given who had much less ability and much fewer advantages than they had. Men cannot be induced to give to objects of charity by command, or by a spirit of dictation and authority. The only successful, as well as the only lawful appeal, is to their hearts, and consciences, and sober judgments. And if an apostle did not take upon himself the language of authority and command in matters of Christian benevolence, assuredly ministers and ecclesiastical bodies now have no right to use any such language.

But by occasion of the forwardness of others. I make use of the example of the churches of Macedonia as an argument to induce you to give liberally to the cause.

And to prove the sincerity of your love. The apostle does not specify here what "love" he refers to, whether love to God, to Christ, to himself, or to the church at large. It may be that he designedly used the word in a general sense to denote love to any good object; and that he meant to say that liberality in assisting the poor and afflicted people of God would be the best evidence of the sincerity of their love to God, to the Redeemer, to him, and to the church. Religion is love; and that love is to be manifested by doing good to all men as we have opportunity. The most substantial evidence of that love is when we are willing to part with our property, or with whatever is valuable to us, to confer happiness and salvation on others.

{b} "by commandment" 1 Co 7:6

{&} "commandment" "by way of commandment"

{|} "frowardness" "diligence"


Verse 9. For ye know, etc. The apostle Paul was accustomed to illustrate every subject, and to enforce every duty, where it could be done, by a reference to the life and sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. The design of this verse is apparent. It is to show the duty of giving liberally to the objects of benevolence, from the fact that the Lord Jesus was willing to become poor in order that he might benefit others. The idea is, that he who was Lord and Proprietor of the universe, and who possessed all things, was willing to leave his exalted station in the bosom of the Father and to become poor, in order that we might become rich in the blessings of the gospel, in the means of grace, and as heirs of all things; and that we who are thus benefited, and who have such an example, should be willing to part with our earthly possessions in order that we may benefit others.

The grace. The benignity, kindness, mercy, goodness. His coming in this manner was a proof of the highest benevolence.

Though he was rich. The riches of the Redeemer here referred to, stand opposed to that poverty which he assumed and manifested when he dwelt among men. It implies

(1.) his pre-existence, for he became poor. He had been rich; yet not in this world. He did not lay aside wealth here on earth after he had possessed it, for he had none. He was not first rich and then poor on earth, for he had no earthly wealth. The Socinian interpretation is, that he was "rich in power and in the Holy Ghost;" but it was not true that he laid these aside, and that he became poor in either of them. He had power, even in his poverty, to still the waves, and to raise the dead, and he was always full of the Holy Ghost. His family was poor; and his parents were poor; and he was himself poor all his life. This, then, must refer to a state of antecedent riches before his assumption of human nature; and the expression is strikingly parallel to that in Php 2:6, seq. "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation," etc.

(2.) He was rich as the Lord and Proprietor of all things. He was the Creator of all, (Joh 1:3; Col 1:16;) and as Creator he had a right to all things, and the disposal of all things. The most absolute right which can exist is that acquired by the act of creation; and this right the Son of God possessed over all gold, and silver, and diamonds, and pearls; over all earth and lands; over all the treasures of the ocean, and over all worlds. The extent and amount of his riches, therefore, is to be measured by the extent of his dominion over the universe; and to estimate his riches, therefore, we are to conceive of the sceptre which he sways over the distant worlds. What wealth has man that can compare with the riches of the Creator and Proprietor of all? How poor and worthless appears all the gold that man can accumulate, compared with the wealth of Him whose are the silver, and the gold, and the cattle upon a thousand hills?

Yet for your sakes. That is, for your sakes as a part of the great family that was to be redeemed. In what respect it was for their sake, the apostle immediately adds when he says, it was that they might be made rich. It was not for his own sake, but it was for our.

He became poor. In the following respects:

(1.) He chose a condition of poverty, a rank of life that was usually that of poverty. He "took upon himself the form of a servant," Php 2:7.

(2.) He was connected with a poor family. Though of the family and lineage of David, (Lu 9:4) yet the family had fallen into decay, and was poor. In the Old Testament he is beautifully represented as a shoot or sucker that starts up from the root of a decayed tree. See Barnes "Isa 11:1".

(3.) His whole life was a life of poverty. He had no home, Lu 9:58. He chose to be dependent on the charity of the few friends that he drew around him, rather than to create food for the abundant supply of his own wants. He had no farms or plantations; he had no splendid palaces; he had no money hoarded in useless coffers or in banks; he had no property to distribute to his friends. His mother he commended when he died to the charitable attention of one of his disciples,. (Joh 19:27;) and all his personal property seems to have been the raiment which he wore, and which was divided among the soldiers that crucified him. Nothing is more remarkable than the difference between the plans of the Lord Jesus and those of many of his followers and professed friends. He formed no plan for becoming rich, and he always spoke with the deepest earnestness of the dangers which attend an effort to accumulate property. He was among the most poor of the sons of men in his life; and few have been the men on earth who have not had as much as he had to leave to surviving friends, or to excite the cupidity of those who should fall heirs to their property when dead.

(4.) He died poor. He made no will in regard to his property, for he had none to dispose of. He knew well enough the effect which would follow if he had amassed wealth, and had left it to be divided among his followers. They were very imperfect; and even around the cross there might have been anxious discussion, and perhaps strife about it, as there is often now over the coffin and the unclosed grave of a rich and foolish father who has died. Jesus intended that his disciples should never be turned away from the great work to which he called them, by any wealth which he would leave them; and he left them not even a keepsake as a memorial of his name. All this is the more remarkable, from two considerations:

(a.) That he had it in his power to choose the manner in which he would come. He might have come in the condition of a splendid prince. He might have rode in a chariot of ease, or have dwelt in a magnificent palace. He might have lived with more than the magnificence of an oriental prince; and might have bequeathed treasures greater than those of Croesus or Solomon to his followers. But he chose not to do it.

(b.) It would have been as right and proper for him to have amassed wealth, and to have sought princely possessions, as for any of his followers. What is right for them would have been right for him. Men often mistake on this subject; and though it cannot be demonstrated that all his followers should aim to be as poor as he was, yet it is undoubtedly true that he meant that his example should operate constantly to check their desire of amassing wealth. In him it was voluntary; in us there should be always a readiness to be poor, if such be the will of God; nay, there should be rather a preference to be in moderate circumstances, that we may thus be like the Redeemer.

That ye through his poverty might be rich. That is, might have durable and eternal riches, the riches of God's everlasting favour. This includes

(1.) the present possession of an interest in the Redeemer himself. "Do you see these extended fields?" said the owner of a vast plantation to a friend. "They are mine. All this is mine." "Do you see yonder poor cottage?" was the reply of the friend, as he directed his attention to the abode of a poor widow. "She has more than all this. She has CHRIST as her portion; and that is more than all." He who has an interest in the Redeemer has a possession that is of more value than all that princes can bestow.

(2.) The heirship of an eternal inheritance, the prospect of immortal glory, Ro 8:17.

(3.) Everlasting treasures, in heaven. Thus the Saviour compares the heavenly blessings to treasures, Mt 6:20. Eternal and illimitable wealth is theirs in heaven; and to raise us to that blessed inheritance was the design of the Redeemer in consenting to become poor. This, the apostle says, was to be secured by his poverty. This includes probably the two following things, viz.:

(1.) That it was to be by the moral influence of the fact that he was poor, that men were to be blessed. He designed by his example to counteract the effect of wealth; to teach men that this was not the thing to be aimed at; that there were more important purposes of life than to obtain money; and to furnish a perpetual reproof of those who are aiming to amass riches. The example of the Redeemer thus stands before the whole church and the world as a living and constant memorial of the truth that men need other things than wealth; and that there are objects that demand their time and influence other than the accumulation of property. It is well to have such an example; well to have before us the example of one-who never formed any plan for gain, and who constantly lived above the world. In a world where gain is the great object, where all men are forming plans for it, it is well to have one great model that shall continually demonstrate the folly of it, and that shall point to better things.

(2.) The word "poverty" here may include more than a mere want of property. It may mean all the circumstances of his low estate and humble condition; his sufferings and his woes. The whole train of his privations was included in this; and the idea is, that he gave himself to this lowly condition in order that by his sufferings he might procure for us a part in the kingdom of heaven. His poverty was a part of the sufferings included in the work of the atonement. For it was not the sufferings of the garden merely, or the pangs of the cross, that constituted the atonement; it was the series of sorrows and painful, acts of humiliation which so thickly crowded his life. By all these he designed that we should be made rich; and in view of all these the argument of the apostle is, we should be willing to deny ourselves to do good to others.

{c} "rich" Joh 1:1

{d} "became poor" Lu 9:58; Php 2:6,7

{e} "rich" Re 3:18


Verse 10. And herein I give my advice. Not undertaking to command them, or to prescribe how much they should give. Advice will go much farther than commands on the subject of charities.

For this is expedient for you. Sumferei. That is, this will be of advantage to you; it will be profitable; it will be becoming. The idea is, that they were bound by a regard to consistency and to their own welfare, to perform what they had purposed. It became them; it was proper, and was demanded; and there would have been manifest disadvantages if it had not been done.

Who have begun before. Who commenced the collection a year before. See 2 Co 8:6. It had been commenced with fair prospects of success, but had been interrupted probably by the dissensions which arose in the church there.

Not only to do. Not merely to accomplish it as if by constraint, or as a matter of compulsion and drudgery.

But also to be forward. Marg., "willing." So the Greek, (to yelein). They were voluntary in this, and they set about it with vigorous and determined zeal and courage. There was a resolute determination in the thing, and a willingness and heartiness in it which showed that they were actuated by Christian principle. Consistency, and their own reputation and advantage, now demanded that they should complete what they had begun.

{1} "forward" "willing"


Verse 11. As there was a readiness to will. Now accomplish the thing, and be not satisfied with having begun it. Do not suppose that the intention was sufficient, or that you are now released from the obligation. A year indeed has elapsed; but the necessity of the aid for the poor has not ceased. The sentiment here is, that if we have felt it our duty to aid in a cause of benevolence, and have commenced it, and have then been interrupted in executing our purpose, we should seize the first favourable opportunity to accomplish what we had designed. We should not regard ourselves as released from our obligation; but should, from a regard to consistency and our obligation to God, accomplish what we had intended.

Out of that which ye have. According to your ability. See 2 Co 8:12. It should be in proportion to your means.

{a} "perform the doing" 1 Ti 6:19; Heb 13:16; Jas 2:15,16


Verse 12. For if there be first a willing mind. If there is a readiness, (proyumia,) a disposition to give; if the heart is in it, then the offering will be acceptable to God, whether you be able to give much or little. A willing mind is the first consideration. No donation, however large, can be acceptable where that does not exist; none, however small, can be otherwise than acceptable where that is found. This had relation, as used by Paul, to the duty of almsgiving; but the principle is as applicable to everything in the way of duty. A willing mind is the first and main thing. It is that which God chiefly desires, and that without which everything else will be offensive, hypocritical, and vain. See Barnes "2 Co 9:7".

It is accepted. Doddridge, Rosenmuller, Macknight, and some others apply this to the person, and render it, "he is accepted;" but the more usual, and the more natural interpretation, is to apply it to the gift—it is accepted. God will approve of it, and will receive it favourably.

According to that a man hath, etc. He is not required to give what he has not. His obligation is proportioned to his ability. His offering is acceptable to God according to the largeness and willingness of his heart, and not according to the narrowness of his fortune.—Locke. If the means are small, if the individual is poor, and if the gift shall be therefore small in amount, yet it may be proof of a larger heart, and of more true love to God and his cause, than when a much more ample benefaction is made by one in better circumstances. This sentiment the Saviour expressly stated and defended in the case of the poor widow, Mr 12:42-44; Lu 21:1-4. She who had cast in her two mites into the treasury, had put in more than all which the rich men-had contributed, for they had given of their abundance, but she had cast in all that she had, even all her living. The great and obviously just and equal principle here stated, was originally applied by Paul to the duty of giving alms. But it is equally true and just as applied to all the duties which we owe to God. He demands

(1.) a willing mind, a heart disposed to yield obedience. He claims that our service should be voluntary and sincere, and that we should make an unreserved consecration of what we have.

(2.) He demands only what we have power to render. He requires a service strictly according to our ability, and to be measured by that. He demands no more than our powers are fitted to produce; no more than we are able to render. Our obligations in all cases are limited by our ability. This is obviously the rule of equity; and this is all that is anywhere demanded in the Bible, and this is everywhere demanded. Thus our love to Him is to be in proportion to our ability, and not to be graduated by the ability of angels or other beings. "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with ALL THY heart, and with all THY soul, and with all THY mind, and with all THY strength," Mr 12:30. Here the obligation is limited by the ability, and the love is to be commensurate with the ability. So of repentance, faith, and of obedience in any form. None but a tyrant ever demands more than can be rendered; and to demand more is the appropriate description of a tyrant, and cannot appertain to the ever-blessed God.

(3.) If there is any service rendered to God, according to the ability, it is accepted of him. It may not be as much or as valuable as may be rendered by beings of higher powers; it may not be as much as we would desire to render, but it is all that God demands, and is acceptable to him. The poor widow was not able to give as much as the rich man; but her offering was equally acceptable, and might be more valuable, for it would be accompanied with her prayers. The service which we can render to God may not be equal to that which the angels render; but it may be equally appropriate to our condition and our powers, and may be equally acceptable to God. God may be as well pleased with the sighings of penitence, as the praises of angels; with the offerings of a broken and a contrite heart, as with the loud hallelujahs of unfallen beings in heaven.

{b} "if there be first" Lu 21:3


Verse 13. For I mean not that other men be eased, etc. I do not intend that others should be eased in order to relieve you. Literally, "Not that there should be rest (anesiv, a letting loose, remission, relaxation) to others, but affliction (yliqiv) to you." Probably the Corinthians were able to contribute more than many other churches, certainly more than the churches of Macedonia, (2 Co 8:2;) and Paul therefore presses upon them the duty of giving according to their means, yet he by no means intended that the entire burden should come on them.


Verse 14. But by an equality. On just and equal principles.

That now at this time, etc. That at the present time your abundance may be a supply for your wants. The idea is this: Corinth was then able to give liberally, but many of the other churches were not. They were poor, and perhaps persecuted and in affliction. But there might be great reverses in their condition. Corinth might be reduced from its affluence, and might itself become dependent on the aid of others, or might be unable to contribute any considerable amount for the purposes of charity. The members of the church in Corinth, therefore, should so act in their circumstances of prosperity, that others would be disposed to aid them should their condition ever be such as to demand it. And the doctrine here taught is,

(1.) that the support of the objects of benevolence should be on equal principles. The rich should bear an equal and fair proportion; and if more frequent demands are made on their benefaction than on others, they should not complain.

(2.) Christians should contribute liberally while they have the means. In the vicissitudes of life, no one can tell how soon he may be unable to contribute, or may even be dependent on the charity of others himself. A change in the commercial world; losses by fire or at sea; want of success in business; loss of health, and the failure of his plans, may soon render him unable to aid the cause of benevolence. While he is prospered, he should embrace every opportunity to do good to all. Some of the most painful regrets which men ever have, arise from the reflection that when prospered they were indisposed to give to benefit others, and when their property is swept away they become unable. God often sweeps away the property which they were indisposed to contribute to aid others, and leaves them to penury and want. Too late they regret that they were not the liberal patrons of the objects of benevolence when they were able to be.

That there may be equality. That all may be just and equal. That no unjust burden should be borne by any one portion of the great family of the redeemed. Every Christian brother should bear his due proportion.


Verse 15. As it is written. See Ex 16:18.

He that had gathered much, etc. This passage was originally applied to the gathering of manna by the children of Israel. The manna which fell around the camp of Israel was gathered every morning. All that were able were employed in gathering it; and when it was collected, it was distributed in the proportion of an omer, or about five pints to each man. Some would be more active and more successful than others. Some by age or infirmity would collect little; probably many by being confined to the camp would collect none. They who had gathered more than an omer, therefore, would in this way contribute to the wants of others, and would be constantly manifesting a spirit of benevolence. And such was their willingness to do good in this way, such their readiness to collect more than they knew would be demanded for their own use, and such the arrangement of Providence in furnishing it, that there was no want; and there was no more gathered than was needful to supply the demands of the whole. Paul applies this passage, therefore, in the very spirit in which it was originally penned, he means to say that the rich Christians at Corinth should impart freely to their poorer brethren. They had gathered more wealth than was immediately necessary for their families or themselves. They should, therefore, impart freely to those who had been less successful. Wealth, like manna, is the gift of God. It is like that spread by his hand around us every day. Some are able to gather much more than others. By their skill, their health, their diligence, or by providential arrangements, they are eminently successful. Others are feeble, or sick, or aged, or destitute of skill, and are less successful. All that is obtained is by the arrangement of God. The health, the strength, the skill, the wisdom by which we are enabled to obtain it, are all his gift. That which is thus honestly obtained, therefore, should be regarded as his bounty, and we should esteem it a privilege daily to impart to others less favoured and less successful. Thus society will be bound more closely together. There will be, as there was among the Israelites, the feelings of universal brotherhood. There will be on the one hand the happiness flowing from the constant exercise of the benevolent feelings; on the other the strong ties of gratitude. On the one hand the evils of poverty will be prevented, and on the other the not less, though different, evils resulting from superabundant wealth. Is it a forced and unnatural analogy also to observe, that wealth, like manna, corrupts by being kept in store? Manna, if kept more than a single day, became foul and loathsome. Does wealth, hoarded up when it might be properly employed—wealth that should have been distributed to relieve the wants of others—become corrupting in its nature, and offensive in the sight of holy and benevolent minds? Comp. Jas 5:2-4. Wealth, like manna, should be employed in the service which God designs—employed to diffuse everywhere the blessings of religion, comfort, and peace.

{a} "written" Ex 16:18

{*} "lack" "want"


Verse 16. But thanks be to God. Paul regarded every right feeling, and every pure desire—every inclination to serve God or to benefit a fellow-mortal—as the gift of God. He therefore ascribes the praise to Him that Titus was disposed to show an interest in the welfare of the Corinthians.

The same earnest care. The earnest care here referred to was that the Corinthians might complete the collection, and finish what they had proposed. Titus was willing to undertake this, and see that it was done.

For you. For your completing the collection. Paul represents it as being done for them, or for their welfare. The poor saints in Judea, indeed, were to have the immediate benefit of the contribution; but it was a privilege for them to give, and Paul rejoiced that they had that privilege. A man who presents to Christians a feasible object of benevolence, and who furnishes them an opportunity of doing good to others, is doing good to them, and they should esteem it an act of kindness done to them.


Verse 17. For indeed he accepted the exhortation. He cheerfully complied with the exhortation which I gave him, to wit, to visit you, and excite you to this good work.

But being more forward. More disposed to do this than I had supposed. The idea here is, that he was very ready to engage in this; he was more ready to engage in it than Paul was to exhort him to it; he anticipated his request; he had already resolved to engage in it.

Of his own accord he went, etc. he went voluntarily, and without urging. The ground of Paul's thankfulness here seems to have been this: he apprehended, probably, some difficulty in obtaining the collection there, he was acquainted with the distracted state of the church, and feared that Titus might have some reluctance to engage in the service, lie was therefore very agreeably surprised when he learned that Titus was willing to make another journey to Corinth, and to endeavour to complete the collection.

{b} "brother" 2 Co 12:18

{c} " " 1 Co 16:3,4


Verse 18. And we have sent with him the brother. It has been generally supposed that this anonymous brother was Luke. Some have supposed, however, that it was Mark; others that it was Silas or Barnabas. It is impossible to determine with certainty who it was; nor is it material to know. Whoever it was, it was some one well known, in whom the church at Corinth could have entire confidence. It is remarkable that though Paul mentions him again, 2 Co 12:18, he does it also in the same manner, without specifying his name. The only circumstances that can throw any light on this are,

(1.) that Luke was the companion and intimate friend of Paul, and attended him in his travels. From Ac 16:10,11, where Luke uses the term "we," it appears that he was with Paul when he first went into Macedonia; and, from Ac 16:16, it is clear that he went with Paul to Philippi. From Ac 17:1, where Luke alters his style, and uses the term "they," it is evident that he did not accompany Paul and Silas when they went to Thessalonica, but either remained at Philippi, or departed to some other place, he did not join them again until they went to Troas, on the way to Jerusalem, Ac 20:5. In what manner Luke spent the interval is not known. Macknight supposes that it might have been in multiplying copies of his gospel for the use of the churches. Perhaps also he might have been engaged in preaching, and in services like that in the case before us.

(2.) It seems probable that Luke is the person referred to by the phrase, "whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches." This would be more likely to be applied to one who had written a gospel, or a life of the Redeemer, that had been extensively circulated, than to any other person. Still it is by no means certain that he is the person here referred to, nor is it of material consequence.

Whose praise. Who is well known and highly esteemed.

Is in the gospel. Either for writing the gospel, or for preaching the gospel. The Greek will bear either construction. In some way he was celebrated for making known the truths of the gospel.


Verse 19. And not that only. Not only is he esteemed on account of other services which he has rendered by his preaching and writings; but he has had a new mark of the confidence of the churches in being appointed to convey the collection to Jerusalem.

Chosen of the churches. Chosen by the churches. Many concurred in the choice, showing that they had entire confidence in him. Paul had been unwilling to have charge of this contribution alone, 1 Co 16:3,4, comp. 2 Co 8:20, and he had procured the appointment of some one to undertake it. Probably he expected that the church at Corinth would concur in this appointment.

With this grace. Marg. "gift." See 2 Co 8:1. The word here refers to the alms, or the collection which had been made.

Which is administered by us. That is, which is undertaken by us. Paul had been the instrument of procuring it.

To the glory of the same Lord. The Lord of us all. The design was to promote the glory of the Lord, by showing the influence of religion in producing true benevolence.

And declaration of your ready mind. That is, to afford you an opportunity of evincing your readiness to do good to others, and to promote their welfare.

{1} "grace" "gift"

{d} "to the glory of the same Lord" 2 Co 4:15


Verse 20. Avoiding this. That is, I intend to prevent any blame from being cast upon me in regard to the management of these funds. For this purpose Paul had refused to have the entire management of the funds, (see 1 Co 16:3,4,) and had secured the appointment of one who had the entire confidence of all the churches.

That no man should blame us. That no one should have any occasion to say that I had appropriated it to my own use, or contrary to the will of the donors. Paul felt how dangerous it was for ministers to have much to do with money matters, he had a very deep impression of the necessity of keeping his own character free from suspicion on this subject, he knew how easy it might be for his enemies to raise the charge that he had embezzled the funds, and appropriated them to his own use. He therefore insisted on having associated with him some one who had the entire confidence of the churches, and who should be appointed by them, and thus he was certain of being for ever free from blame on the subject: a most important example for all ministers in regard to the pecuniary benefactions of the churches.

In this abundance, etc. In this large amount which is contributed by the churches, and committed to our disposal. Large sums of money are in our time committed to the ministers of the gospel, in the execution of the objects of Christian benevolence. Nothing can be more wise than the example of Paul here, that they should have associated with them others who have the entire confidence of the churches, that there may not be occasion for slander to move her poisonous tongue against the ministers of religion.


Verse 21. Providing for honest things. The expression here used occurs Ro 12:17. See Barnes "Ro 12:17".

In that place, however, it refers to the manner in which we are to treat those who injure us; here it refers to the right way of using property; and it seems to have been a kind of maxim by which Paul regulated his life—a vade mecum that was applicable to everything. The sentiment is, that we are to see to it beforehand, that all our conduct shall be comely or honest. The word rendered "providing for," (pronooumenoi,) means foreseeing, or perceiving beforehand; and the idea is, that we are to make it a matter of previous calculation, a settled plan, a thing that is to be attended to of set design. In the middle voice, the form in which it occurs here, it means to provide for in one's own behalf; to apply one's self to anything; to practise diligently.—Robinson. The word rendered "things honest" (kala) means, properly, beautiful or comely. The idea which is presented here is, that we are to see beforehand, or we are to make it a matter of set purpose, that what we do shall be comely; that is, just, honourable, correct, not only in the sight of the Lord, but in the sight of men. Paul applies this in his own case to the alms which were to be intrusted to him. His idea is, that he meant so to conduct [himself] in the whole transaction, as that his conduct should be approved by God, but that it should also be regarded as beautiful or correct in the sight of men. He knew how much his own usefulness depended on an irreproachable character. He, therefore, procured the appointment of one who had the entire confidence of the churches to travel with him. But there is no reason for confining this to the particular case under consideration. It seems to have been the leading maxim of the life of Paul, and it should be of ours. The maxim may be applied to everything which we have to do; and should constantly regulate us. It may be applied to the acquisition and use of property; to the discharge of our professional duties; to our intercourse with others; to our treatment of inferiors and dependents; to our charities, etc.: in all of which we should make it a matter of previous thought, of earnest diligence, that our conduct should be perfectly honest and comely before God and man. Let us learn from this verse also, that ministers of the gospel should be especially careful that their conduct in money matters, and especially in the appropriation of the charities of the church, should be above suspicion. Much is often intrusted to their care, and the churches and individual Christians often commit much to their discretion. Their conduct in this should be without reproach; and in order to this, it is well to follow the example of Paul, and to insist that others who have the entire confidence of the churches should be associated with them. Nothing is easier than to raise a slanderous report against a minister of the gospel; and nothing gratifies a wicked world more than to be able to do it—and perhaps especially if it pertains to some improper use of money. It is not easy to meet such reports when they are started; and a minister, therefore, should be guarded, as Paul was, at every possible point, that he may be freed from that "whose breath outvenoms all the worms of Nile"— SLANDER.

{e} "honest things" Ro 12:17; Php 4:8; 1 Pe 2:12

{*} "things" "things which are good"


Verse 22. And we have sent with them our brother. Who this was is wholly unknown, and conjecture is useless. Some have supposed that it was Apollos, others Silas, others Timothy. But there are no means of ascertaining who it was; nor is it material. It was some one in whom Paul had entire confidence.

Whom we have oftentimes proved diligent. Of whom we have evidence that he has been faithful. It is evident, therefore, that he had been the companion and fellow-labourer of Paul.

But now much more diligent, etc. Who will now prove himself much more diligent than ever before.

Upon the great confidence, etc. Marg., "he hath." The margin is doubtless the 'more correct reading' here. The idea is, that this brother had great confidence in the Corinthians that they would give liberally, and that he would, therefore, evince special diligence in the business.

{1} "I have" or "he hath"


Verse 23. Whether any do enquire of Titus. It is to be observed that the words "any do inquire" are not in the original; nor is it clear that these are the most proper words to be introduced here. The Greek may mean either "if any do inquire about Titus," or it may mean "if anything is to be said about Titus." The sense of the passage may either be, that some of the faction at Corinth might be disposed to inquire about the authority of Titus to engage in this work, or that Paul having said, so much in commendation of the persons who went with Titus, it seemed proper to say something in his favour also. The idea is, "If any inquiry is made from any quarter about him, or if it is necessary from any cause to say anything about him, I would say he is my partner," etc.

He is my partner, etc. He partakes with me in preaching the gospel, and in establishing and organizing churches. Comp. Tit 1:5. To the Corinthians this fact would be a sufficient commendation of Titus.

Or our brethren be enquired of. That is, the brethren who accompanied Titus. If any inquiry was made about their character, or if it was necessary to say anything in regard to them.

They are the messengers of the churches. They have the entire confidence of the churches, having been selected and appointed by them to a work of labour and responsibility. Comp. Php 2:25. The words here rendered "messengers of the churches," are in the original "apostles of the churches," (apostoloi ekklhsiwn.) The word apostles here is used evidently in its proper sense, to denote one who is sent out to transact any business for others, or as an agent or legate. These persons were not apostles in the technical sense: and this is an instance where the word is applied in the New Testament to those who had no claim to the apostolic office. It is also applied in a similar way to Apollos and Barnabas, though neither, strictly speaking, was an apostle.

And the glory of Christ. That is, they have a character so well known and established for piety, they are so eminent Christians, and do such honour to the Christian name and calling, that they may be Called the glory of Christ. It is an honour to Christ that he has called such persons into his church, and that he has so richly endowed them. Every Christian should so live as that it would appear to all the world that it was an honour and glory to the Redeemer that he had such followers; an honour to his gospel that it had converted such and brought them into his kingdom. It is sufficient honour, moreover, to any man to say that he is "the glory of Christ." Such a character should be, and will be, as it was ere, a recommendation sufficient for any to secure them the confidence of others.

{a} "messengers" Php 2:25


Verse 24. Wherefore shew ye to them, etc. By a liberal contribution in the cause in which they are engaged, and for which they have come among you now, furnish the evidence that you love me and the Christian cause, and show that I have not boasted of you in vain.

The proof of your love. Your love to me, to God, to the cause of religion. See Barnes "2 Co 8:8".

And of our boasting, etc. My boasting that you would give liberally to the object. See Barnes "2 Co 7:14".

Let it now be seen that my boasting was well founded, and that I properly understood your character, and your readiness to contribute to the objects of Christian benevolence.

{b} "boasting" 2 Co 7:14

{*} "behalf" "account"

REMARKS on 2nd Corinthians Chapter 8

(1.) Let us bear in mind that a disposition to be liberal proceeds only from God, 2 Co 8:1. The human heart is by nature selfish, and indisposed to benevolence. It is only by the grace of God that men are excited to liberality; and we should therefore pray for this, as well as for all other graces. We should beseech God to remove selfishness from our minds; to dispose us to feel as we should feel for the wants of others, and to incline us to give just what we ought to give to relieve them in trouble, and to promote their temporal and eternal welfare.

(2.) It is an inestimable blessing when God gives a spirit of liberality to the church, 2 Co 8:1. It should be regarded as a proof of his special favour, and as an evidence of the prevalence of the principles of true religion.

(3.) Men are often most liberal when in circumstances of distress, perplexity, and affliction, 2 Co 8:2. Prosperity often freezes the heart, but adversity opens it. Success in life often closes the hand of benevolence, but adversity opens it. We are taught to feel for the sufferings of others by suffering ourselves; and in the school of adversity we learn invaluable lessons of benevolence which we should never acquire in prosperity. If you want the tear of sympathy, if you want aid in a good cause, go to a man in affliction, and his heart is open. And hence it is that God often suffers his people to pass through trials in order that they may possess the spirit of large and active benevolence.

(4.) If Christians desire to be liberal they must first devote themselves to God, 2 Co 8:5. If this is not done they will have no heart to give, and they will not give. They will have a thousand excuses ready, and there will be no ground of appeal which we can make to them: True liberality is always based on the fact that we have given ourselves wholly to God.

(5.) When Christians have honestly devoted themselves to God, it will be easy to contribute liberally to the cause of benevolence, 2 Co 8:5. They will find something to give; or if they have nothing now, they will labour and deny themselves in order that they may have something to give. If every professed Christian on earth had honestly given himself to God, and should act in accordance with this, the channels of benevolence would never be dry.

(6.) We should compare ourselves in the matter of benevolence with the churches here referred to, 2 Co 8:3. They were poor; they were in deep affliction, and yet they contributed all in their power, and beyond their power. Do we do this? Do we give according to our ability? Do we deny ourselves one comfort—withhold one gratification— curtail one expense which fashion demands, in order that we may have the means of doing good? Oh, if every Christian would give according to his ability to the sacred cause of charity, how soon would the means be ample to place the Bible in every family on the globe, to preach the gospel in every country, and to maintain all the institutions which the cause of humanity needs in this and in other lands!

(7.) The Christian character is incomplete unless there is a spirit of large and liberal beneficence, 2 Co 8:7. This is indispensable to the proper symmetry of the Christian graces, and this should be cultivated in order to give beauty and completeness to the whole. Yet it cannot be denied that there are true Christians where this is wanting. There are those who give every other evidence of piety; who are men of prayer, and who evince humility, and who are submissive in trials, and whose conversation is that of Christians, who are yet sadly deficient in this virtue. Either by an original closeness of disposition, or by a defect of education, or by want of information in regard to the Objects of Christian benevolence, they are most stinted in their benefactions, and often excite the amazement of others that they give so little to the cause of benevolence. Such persons should be entreated to carry out their Christian character to completion. As they abound in other things, they should abound in this grace also. They are depriving themselves of much comfort, and are bringing much injury on the cause of the Redeemer while they refuse to sustain the great objects of Christian charity: No Christian character is symmetrical or complete, unless it is crowned with the spirit of large and comprehensive benevolence towards every object that tends to promote the temporal and eternal welfare of man.

(8.) The sincerity of our love should be tested, and will be, by our readiness to deny ourselves to do good to others, 2 Co 8:8. The love of the Lord Jesus was tested in that way; and there can be no true love to God or man, where there is not a readiness to contribute of our means for the welfare of others. If we love the Redeemer, we shall devote all to his service; if we love our fellow-men, we shall evince our "sincerity" by being willing to part with our earthly substance to alleviate their woes, enlighten their ignorance, and save their souls.

(9.) Let us imitate the example of the Lord Jesus, 2 Co 8:9. He was rich, yet he became poor; and, oh! How POOR! Let the rich learn to copy his example, and be willing to part with their abundant and superfluous wealth in order that they may relieve and benefit others. That man is most happy, as well as most useful, who most resembles the Redeemer; that man will be most happy who stoops from the highest earthly elevation to the lowest condition, that he may minister to the welfare of others.

(10.) Charity should be voluntary, 2 Co 8:12. It should be the free and spontaneous offering of the heart; and the first promptings of the heart, before the pleadings of avarice come in, and the heart grows cold by the influence of returning covetousness, are likely to be the most correct.

(11.) Charity should be in an honest proportion to our means, 2 Co 8:12. It should be according to what a man hath. God has left the determination of this proportion to every individual, responsible to him alone. He has not told us how much we shall give, or in what proportion we shall give; but he has left it for every individual to decide what he may give, and what he ought to give.

(12.) If men do not give according to their means, they must answer for it to God. Every man may have opportunity to contribute to relieve others, if he will open his heart and ears to the cries of a suffering and a dying world. No man can complain that he has no opportunity to give; or that he may not procure for his own soul all the blessings which can be produced by the most large and liberal benevolence.

(13.) Men have no excuse for being lost, 2 Co 8:12. If God required more of them than they could render, they would have. They would not be to blame. They might be sufferers and martyrs in hell, but no one would blame them. But the sinner can never have any such excuse. God never required any more of him than he had power to render; and if he dies, it will be his own fault, and the throne of God will still be spotless and pure.

(14.) God's government is an equal, and just, and good government, 2 Co 8:12. What can be more equitable than the principle that a man is accepted according to what he has? What ground of complaint can the sinner have in regard to this administration?

(15.) The churches should bear their just proportion in the cause of Christian beneficence, 2 Co 8:13-15. There are great interests of charity which MUST be sustained. The world cannot do without them. Not only must the poor be provided for, but the cause of temperance, and of Sabbath-schools, and of missions must be sustained. Bibles must be distributed, and men must be educated for the ministry, and the widow and the fatherless must be the objects of Christian benevolence. These burdens, if they are burdens, should be equally distributed. The rich should furnish their fair proportion in sustaining them; and those in more moderate circumstances must do their fair proportion also in sustaining them. If this were done, all the objects of Christian benevolence could be sustained, and they would in fact not be burdensome to the churches. With infinite ease all might be contributed that is necessary to send the gospel around the world.

(16.) Ministers of the gospel should have as little as possible to do with money matters, 2 Co 8:19-21. While they should be willing, if it is necessary, to be the almoners of the churches, and should esteem it a privilege to be the means of conveying to the poor and needy, and to the great cause of benevolence, what the churches may choose to commit to them, yet they should not covet this office; they should not show any particular desire for it; nor should they do it unless, like Paul, they have the most ample security that the voice of slander can never be raised in regard to their management. Let them see to it that they have persons associated with them who have the entire confidence of the churches; men who will be responsible also, and who will be competent witnesses of the manner in which they discharge their duty. In all things ministers should be pure. On few points is there more danger that the enemy will endeavour to take advantage, and to injure their character, than in regard to their abuse of funds intrusted to their care.

(17.) Let all Christians so live that it may be honestly said of them, they are "the glory of Christ," 2 Co 8:23. Let them aim so to live that it will be esteemed to be an honour to the Redeemer that he called them into his kingdom, and that he so richly endowed them by his grace. This would be a commendation to all men where they might go; to say this is enough to say of any man. None can have a higher character than to have it said with truth of him, "He is the glory of Christ; he is an honour to his Redeemer and to his cause."



INTRODUCTION to 2nd Corinthians Chapter 9

IN this chapter the apostle continues the subject which he had discussed in 2 Co 8—the collection which he had purposed to make for the poor saints in Judea. The deep anxiety which he had that the collection should be liberal; that it should not only be such as to be really an aid to those who were suffering, but be such as would be an expression of tender attachment to them on the part of the Gentile converts, was the reason, doubtless, why Paul urged this so much on their attention. His primary wish undoubtedly was to furnish aid to those who were suffering. But in connexion with that, he also wished to excite a deep interest among the Gentile converts in behalf of those who had been converted to Christianity among the Jews. He wished that the collection should be so liberal as to show that they felt that they were united as brethren, and that they were grateful that they had received the true religion from the Jews. And he doubtless wished to cement as much as possible the great body of the Christian brotherhood, and to impress on their minds the great truths, that whatever was their national origin, and whatever were their national distinctions, yet in Christ they were one. For this purpose he presses on their attention a great variety of considerations why they should give liberally: and this chapter is chiefly occupied in stating reasons for that, in addition to those which had been urged in the previous chapter. The following view will present the main points in the chapter:—

(1.) He was aware of their readiness to give; and knowing this, he had boasted of it to others, and others had been excited to give liberally from what the apostle had said of them, 2 Co 9:1,2. The argument here is, that Paul's veracity and their own character were at stake, and depended on their now giving liberally.

(2.) He had sent the brethren to them in order that there might by no possibility be a failure, 2 Co 9:3-5. Though he had the utmost confidence in them, and fully believed that they were disposed to give liberally, yet he knew also that something might prevent it, unless messengers went to secure the contributions; and that the consequence might be, that he and they would be "ashamed" that he had boasted so much of their readiness to give.

(3.) To excite them to give liberally, Paul advances the great principles that the reward in heaven will be in proportion to the liberality evinced on earth, and that God loves one who gives cheerfully, 2 Co 9:6,7. By the prospect, therefore, of an ample reward, and by the desire to meet with the approbation of God, he calls upon them to contribute freely to aid their afflicted Christian brethren.

(4.) He further excites them to liberal giving by the consideration that, if they contributed liberally, God was able to furnish them abundantly with the means of doing good on a large scale in time to come, 2 Co 9:8-11. In this way he would enable them to do good hereafter, in proportion as they were disposed to do good now; and the result of all would be, that abundant thanks would be rendered to God—thanks from those who were aided, and thanks from those who had aided them that they had been enabled to contribute to supply their wants.

(5.) As a final consideration inducing them to give, the apostle states that not only would they thus do good, but would show the power of the gospel, and the affection which they had for the Jewish converts, and would thus contribute much in promoting the glory of God. The Jewish converts would see the power of the gospel on their Gentile brethren; they would feel that they now appertained to one great family; they would praise God for imparting his grace in this manner; and they would be led to pray much for those who had thus contributed to alleviate their wants, 2 Co 8:12-14.

(6.) Paul closes the whole chapter, and the whole discussion respecting the contribution about which he had felt so deep an interest, by rendering thanks to God for his "unspeakable gift," JESUS CHRIST, 2 Co 9:15. Paul was ever ready, whatever was the topic before him, to turn the attention to him. He here evidently regards him as the Author of all liberal feeling, and of all true charity; and seems to imply that all that they could give would be small compared with the "unspeakable gift" of God, and that the fact that God had imparted such a gift to the world was a reason why they should be willing to devote all they had to his service.

Verse 1. For as touching the ministering to the saints. In regard to the collection that was to be taken up for the aid of the poor Christians in Judea. See Barnes "Ro 15:26 1 Co 16:11; 2 Co 8".

It is superfluous, etc. It is needless to urge that matter on you, because I know that you acknowledge the obligation to do it, and have already purposed it.

For me to write to you. That is, to write more, or to write largely on the subject. It is unnecessary for me to urge arguments why it should be done; and all that is proper is to offer some suggestions in regard to the manner in which it shall be accomplished.

{*} "touching" "concerning"

{a} "ministering to the saints" 2 Co 8:4


Verse 2. For I know the forwardness of your mind. I know your promptitude, or your readiness to do it. See 2 Co 8:10. Probably Paul here means that he had had opportunity before of witnessing their readiness to do good, and that he had learned in particular of Titus that they had formed the plan to aid in this contribution.

For which I boast of you to them of Macedonia. To the church in Macedonia. See 2 Co 8:1. So well assured was he that the church at Corinth would make the collection as it had proposed, that he boasted of it to the churches of Macedonia as if it were already done, and made use of this as an argument to stimulate them to make an effort.

That Achaia was ready a year ago. Achaia was that part of Greece of which Corinth was the capital. See Barnes "Ac 18:12".

It is probable that there were Christians in other parts of Achaia besides Corinth, and indeed it is known that there was a church in Cenchrea, (see Ro 16:1,) which was one of the ports of Corinth. Though the contribution would be chiefly derived from Corinth, yet it is, probable that, the others also would participate in it. The phrase was ready means that they had been preparing themselves for this collection, and doubtless Paul had stated that the collection was already made and was waiting. He had directed them (1 Co 16:1) to make it on the first day of the week, and to lay it by in store, and he did not doubt that they had complied with his request.

And your zeal. Your ardour and promptitude. The readiness with which you entered into this subject, and your desire to relieve the wants of others.

Hath provoked. Has roused, excited, impelled to give. We use the word provoke commonly now in the sense of to irritate, but in the Scriptures it is confined to the signification of exciting, or rousing. The ardour of the Corinthians would excite others, not only by their promptitude, but because Corinth was a splendid city, and their example would be looked up to by Christians at a distance. This is one instance of the effect which will be produced by the example of a church in a city.


Verse 3. Yet have I sent the brethren. The brethren referred to in 2 Co 8:18,22,23.

Lest our boasting of you. That you were disposed to contribute, and that you were already prepared, and that the contribution was ready.

Should be in vain. Lest anything should have occurred to prevent the collection. I have sent them that they may facilitate it, and that it may be secure and certain.

In this behalf. In this respect. That is, lest our boasting of you, in regard to your readiness to contribute to relieve the wants of others, should be found to have been ill-grounded.


Verse 4. Lest haply if they of Macedonia. If any of the Macedonians should happen to come with me, and should find that you had done nothing. He does not say that they would come with him, but it was by no means improbable that they would. It was customary for some of the members of the churches to travel with Paul from place to place, and the intercourse was constant between Macedonia and Achaia. Paul had, therefore, every reason to suppose that some of the Macedonians would accompany him when he should go to Corinth. At all events it was probable that the Macedonians would learn from some quarter whether the Corinthians were or were not ready when Paul should go to them.

We (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed, etc., In this," says Bloomfield, "one cannot but recognise a most refined and delicate turn, inferior to none of the best classical writers." Paul had boasted confidently that the Corinthians would be ready with their collection. He had excited and stimulated the Macedonians by this consideration, he had induced them in this way to give liberally, 2 Co 8:1-4. If now it should turn out after all that the Corinthians had given nothing, or had given stintedly, the character of Paul would suffer. His veracity and his judgment would be called in question, and he would be accused of trick, and artifice, and fraud, in inducing them to give. Or if he should not be charged with dishonesty, yet he would be humbled and mortified himself that he had made representations which had proved to be so unfounded. But this was not all. The character of the Corinthians was also at stake. They had purposed to make the collection. They had left the impression in the mind of Paul that it would be done. They had hitherto evinced such a character as to make Paul confident that the collection would be made. If now by any means this should fail, their character would suffer, and they would have occasion to be ashamed that they had excited so confident expectations of what they would do.

{b} "boasting" 2 Co 8:24


Verse 5. Therefore I thought it necessary, etc. In order to secure the collection, and to avoid all unpleasant feeling on all hands.

That they would go before unto you. Before I should come.

And make up beforehand your bounty. Prepare it before I come. The word "bounty" is in the Marg. rendered "blessing." The Greek (eulogian) means, properly, commendation, eulogy. Then it means blessing, praise applied to God. Then that which blesses—a gift, donation, favour, bounty—whether of God to men, or of one man to another. Here it refers to their contribution as that which would be adapted to confer a blessing on others, or fitted to produce happiness.

That the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty. That it may truly appear as a liberal and voluntary offering, as an act of generosity, and not as wrung or extorted from you. That it may be truly a blessing—a thank offering to God, and adapted to do good to men.

And not as of covetousness. "And not like a sort of extortion, wrung from you by mere dint of importunity."—Doddridge. The word here used (pleonexian) means usually covetousness, greediness of gain which leads a person to defraud others. The idea here is, that Paul would have them give this as an act of bounty or liberality on their part, and not as an act of covetousness on his part, not as extorted by him from them.

{1} "bounty" "blessing"

{2} "whereof ye had notice" "which hath been so much spoken of before"


Verse 6. But this I say. This I say in order to induce you to give liberally. This I say to prevent your supposing that because it is to be a voluntary offering you may give only from your superfluity, and may give sparingly.

He which soweth sparingly. This expression has all the appearance of a proverb, and doubtless is such. It does not Occur indeed elsewhere in the Scriptures, though substantially the same sentiment exciting to liberality often occurs. See Ps 41:1-3; Pr 11:24,25; Pr 19:17; 22:9. Paul here says that it is in giving as it is in agriculture. A man that sows little, must expect to reap little. If he sows a small piece of land, he will reap a small harvest; or if he is niggardly in sowing, and wishes to save his seed and will not commit it to the earth, he must expect to reap little. So it is in giving. Money given in alms, money bestowed to aid the poor and needy, or to extend the influence of virtue and pure religion, is money bestowed in a way similar to the act of committing seed to the earth. It will be returned again in some way with an abundant increase. It shall not be lost. The seed may be buried long. It may lie in the ground with no indication of a return or of increase. One who knew not the arrangements of Providence might suppose it was lost and dead. But in due time it shall spring up and produce an ample increase. So with money given to objects of benevolence. To many it may seem to be a waste, or may appear to be thrown away. But in due time it will be repaid in some way with abundant increase. And the man who wishes to make the most out of his money for future use and personal comfort, will give liberally to deserving objects of charity—just as the man who wishes to make the most out of his grain will not suffer it to lie in his granary, but will commit the seed to the fertile earth. "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days," Ec 11:1, that is, when the waters, as of the Nile, have over flowed the banks, and flooded the whole adjacent country, then is the time to cast abroad thy seed. The waters will retire, and the seed will sink into the accumulated fertile mud that is deposited, and will spring up in an abundant harvest. So it is with that which is given for objects of benevolence.

Shall reap also sparingly. Shall reap in proportion to what he sowed. This every one knows is true in regard to grain that is sowed. It is also no less true in regard to deeds of charity. The idea is, that God will bestow rewards in proportion to what is given. These rewards may refer to results in this life, or to the rewards in heaven, or both. All who have ever been in the habit of giving liberally to the objects of benevolence can testify that they have lost nothing, but have reaped in proportion to their liberality. This follows in various ways.

(1.) In the comfort and peace which results from giving. If a man wishes to purchase happiness with his gold, he can secure the most by bestowing it liberally on objects of charity. It will produce him more immediate peace than it would to spend it in sensual gratifications, and far more than to hoard it up useless in his coffers.

(2.) In reflection on it hereafter. It will produce more happiness in remembering that he has done good with it, and promoted the happiness of others, than it will to reflect that he has hoarded up useless wealth, or that he has squandered it in sensual gratification. The one will be unmingled pleasure when he comes to die; the other will be unmingled self-reproach and pain.

(3.) In subsequent life, God will in some way repay to him far more than he has bestowed in deeds of charity. By augmented prosperity, by health and future comfort, and by raising up for us and our families, when in distress and want, friends to aid us, God can and often does abundantly repay the liberal for all their acts of kindness and deeds of beneficence.

(4.) God can and will reward his people in heaven abundantly for all their kindness to the poor, and all their self-denials in endeavouring to diffuse the influence of truth and the knowledge of salvation. Indeed, the rewards of heaven will be in no small degree apportioned in this manner, and determined by the amount of benevolence which we have shown on earth. See Mt 25:34-40. On all accounts, therefore, we have every inducement to give liberally. As a farmer who desires an ample harvest scatters his seed with a liberal hand; as he does not grudge it though it falls into the earth; as he scatters it with the expectation that in due time it will spring up and reward his labours, so should we give with a liberal hand to aid the cause of benevolence; nor should we deem what we give to be lost or wasted though we wait long before we are recompensed, or though we should be in no other way rewarded than by the comfort which arises from the act of doing good.


Verse 7. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, etc. The main idea in this verse is, that the act of giving should be voluntary and cheerful. It should not seem to be extorted by the importunity of others, ( Co 9:6; ) nor should it be given from urgent necessity, but it should be given as an offering of the heart. On this part of the verse we may remark,

(1.) that the heart is usually more concerned in the business of giving than the head. If liberality is evinced, it will be the heart which prompts to it; if it is not evinced, it will be because the heart has some bad passions to gratify, and is under the influence of avarice, or selfishness, or some other improper attachment. Very often a man is convinced he ought to give liberally, but a narrow heart and a parsimonious spirit prevent it.

(2.) We should follow the dictates of the heart in giving. I mean that a man will usually give more correctly who follows the first promptings of his heart when an object of charity is presented, than be will if he takes much time to deliberate. The instinctive prompting of a benevolent heart is to give liberally. And the amount which should be given will usually be suggested to a man by the better feelings of his heart. But if he resolves to deliberate much, and if he suffers the heart to grow cold, and if he defers it, the pleadings of avarice will come in, or some object of attachment or plan of life will rise to view, or he will begin to compare himself with others, and he will give much less than he would have done if he had followed the first impulse of feeling. God implanted the benevolent feelings in the bosom that they should prompt us to do good; and he who acts most in accordance with them is most likely to do what he ought to do; and in general it is the safest and best rule for a man to give just what his heart prompts him to give when an object of charity is presented. Man at best is too selfish to be likely to give too much, or to go beyond his means; and if in a few instances it should be done, more would be gained in value in the cultivation of benevolent feeling than would be lost in money. I know of no better rule on the subject, than to cultivate as much as possible the benevolent feelings, and then to throw open the soul to every proper appeal to our charity, and to give just according to the instinctive prompting of the heart.

(3.) Giving should be voluntary and cheerful. It should be from the heart. Yet there is much, very much that is not so, and there is, therefore, much benevolence that is spasmodic and spurious; that cannot be depended on, and that will not endure. No dependence can be placed on a man in regard to giving, who does not do it from the steady influences of a benevolent heart. But there is much obtained in the cause of benevolence that is produced by a kind of extortion. It is given because others give, and the man would be ashamed to give less titan they do. Or, it is given because he thinks his rank in life demands it, and he is prompted to it by pride and vanity. Or, he gives from respect to a pastor or a friend, or because he is warmly importuned to give; or because he is shut up to a kind of necessity to give, and must give or he would lose his character, and become an object of scorn and detestation. In all this there is nothing cheerful and voluntary; and there can be nothing in it acceptable to God. Nor can it be depended on permanently. The heart is not in it, and the man will evade the duty as soon as he can, and will soon find excuses for not giving at all.

Not grudgingly. Greek, "Not of grief," (mh ek luphv.) Not as if he were sorry to part with his money. Not as if he were constrained to do a thing that was extremely painful to him.

Or of necessity. As if he were compelled to do it. Let him do it cheerfully.

For God loveth a cheerful giver. And who does not? Valuable as any gift may be in itself, yet if it is forced and constrained; if it can be procured only after great importunity and persevering effort, who can esteem it as desirable? God desires the heart in every service. No service that is not cheerful and voluntary, none that does not arise from true love to him, can be acceptable in his sight. God loves it because it shows a heart like his own—a heart disposed to give cheerfully, and to do good on the largest scale possible; and because it shows a heart attached from principle to his service and cause. The expression here has all the appearance of a proverb, and expressions similar to this occur often in the Scriptures. In an uninspired writer, also, this idea has been beautifully expanded. "In all thy gifts show a cheerful countenance, and dedicate thy tithes with gladness. Give unto the Most High according as he hath enriched thee; and as thou hast gotten give with a cheerful eye. For the Lord recompenseth, and will give thee seven times as much."—Wisdom of the Son of Sirach, chap. xxxv. 9—11. In nothing, therefore, is it more important than to examine the motives by which we give to the objects of benevolence. However liberal may be our benefactions, yet God may see that there is no sincerity, and may hate the spirit with which it is done.

{a} "grudgingly" De 15:7,8

{*} "necessity" "by constraint"

{b} "cheerful giver" Ex 35:5; Ro 12:8


Verse 8. And God is able, etc. Do not suppose that by giving liberally you will be impoverished and reduced to want. You should rather confide in God, who is able to furnish you abundantly with what is needful for the supply of our necessities. Few persons are ever reduced to poverty by liberality. Perhaps in the whole circle of his acquaintance it would be difficult for an individual to point out one who has been impoverished or made the poorer in this way. Our selfishness is generally a sufficient guard against this; but it is also to be added, that the Divine blessing rests upon the liberal man, and that God keeps him from want. But in the mean time there are multitudes who are made poor by the want of liberality. They are parsimonious in giving, but they are extravagant in dress, and luxury, and in expenses for amusement or vice, and the consequence is poverty and want. "There is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty," Pr 11:24. The Divine blessing rests upon the liberal; and while every person should make a proper provision for his family, every one should give liberally, confiding in God that he will furnish the supplies for our future wants. Let this maxim be borne in mind, that no one is usually made the poorer by being liberal.

All grace. All kinds of favour. He is able to impart to you those things which are needful for your welfare.

That ye always, etc. The sense is, "If you give liberally, you are to expect that God will furnish you with the means, so that you will be able to abound more and more in it. You are to expect that he will abundantly qualify you for doing good in every way, and that he will furnish you with all that is needful for this. The man who gives, therefore, should have faith in God. He should expect that God will bless him in it; and the experience of the Christian world may be appealed to in proof that men are not made poor by liberality.

{c} "God is able" Php 4:19

{+} "grace" "every blessing"


Verse 9. As it is written. Ps 112:9. The idea is, "in this way will the saying in the Scriptures be verified, or the promise confirmed." The psalmist is describing the character of the righteous man. One of his characteristics, he says, is, that he has scattered abroad, he has given liberally to the poor. On such a man a blessing is pronounced, (2 Co 9:1;) and one of the blessings will be that he shall be prospered. Some difficulty has been felt by commentators to see how the quotation here made sustains the position of Paul that the liberal man would be blessed of God, and would receive an increase according to his liberality. In order to this, they have supposed (see Doddridge, Bloomfield, and Clarke) that the word "righteousness" means the same as almsgiving, or that "he would always have something to bestow." But I would suggest that perhaps Paul quoted this, as quotations are frequently made in the Scriptures, where a passage was familiar, he quotes only a part of the passage, meaning that the whole passage confirms the point under consideration. Thus the whole passage in the Psalm is, "he hath dispersed; he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour;" that is, he shall be abundantly blessed with prosperity and with the favour of God. Thus the entire promise sustains the position of Paul, that the liberal man would be abundantly blessed. The phrase "he hath dispersed," (eskorpisen,) may refer either to the act of sowing, as a man scatters seed upon the earth; or there may be an allusion to the oriental custom of scattering money among an assembled company of paupers. Comp. Pr 11:24.

His righteousness, his deeds of beneficence.

Remaineth. In its fruits and consequences; that is, either in its effects on others, or on himself. It may mean that the sums so distributed will remain with him for ever, inasmuch as he will be supplied with all that is needful to enable him to do good to others. This interpretation accords with the connexion.

{a} "He hath" Ps 112:9


Verse 10. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower. This is an expression of an earnest wish. In the previous verses he had stated the promises, or had shown what we had a right to expect as a consequence of liberality, he here unites the expression of an earnest desire that they might experience this themselves. The allusion is to the act of sowing seed. The idea is, that when a man scatters seed in his field, God provides him with the means of sowing again, he not only gives him a harvest to supply, his wants, but he blesses him also in giving him the ability to sow again. Such was the benevolent wish of Paul. He desired not only that God would supply their returning wants, but he desired also that he would give them the ability to do good again; that he would furnish them the means of future benevolence, he acknowledges God as the source of all increase, and wishes that they may experience the results of such increase. Perhaps in this language there is an allusion to Isa 55:10; and the idea is, that it is God who furnishes by his providence the seed to the sower. In like manner he will furnish you the means of doing good.

Minister bread for your food. Furnish you with an ample supply for your wants.

Multiply your seed sown. Greatly increase your means of doing good; make the results of all your benefactions so to abound that you may have the means of doing good again, and on a larger scale, as the seed sown in the earth is so increased that the farmer may have the means of sowing more abundantly again.

And increase the fruits of your righteousness. This evidently means, the results and effects of their benevolence. The word "righteousness" here refers to their liberality; and the wish of the apostle is, that the results of their beneficence might greatly abound, that they might have the means of doing extensive good, and that they might be the means of diffusing happiness from afar.

{b} "he that ministereth" Is 55:10

{c} "of your righteousness" Hos 10:12


Verse 11. Being enriched in every thing, etc. In all respects your riches are conferred on you for this purpose. The design of the apostle is to state to them the true reason why wealth was bestowed. It was not for the purposes of luxury and self-gratification; not to be spent in sensual enjoyment, not for parade and display; it was that it might be distributed to others in such a way as to cause thanksgiving to God. At the same time, this implies the expression of an earnest wish on the part of Paul. He did not desire that they should be rich for their own gratification or pleasure; he desired it only as the means of their doing good to others. Right feeling will desire property only as the means of promoting happiness and producing thanksgiving to God. They who truly love their children and friends will wish them to be successful in acquiring wealth only that they may have the means and the disposition to alleviate misery, and promote the happiness of all around them. No one who has true benevolence will desire that any one in whom he feels an interest should be enriched for the purpose of living amidst luxury, and encompassing himself with the indulgences which wealth can furnish. If a man has not a disposition to do good with money, it is not true benevolence, to desire that he may possess it.

To all bountifulness. Marg., Simplicity, or liberality. The word (aplothta) means, properly, sincerity, candour, probity; then also simplicity, frankness, fidelity, and especially as manifesting itself in liberality. See Ro 12:8; 2 Co 8:2. Here it evidently means liberality; and the idea is, that property is given for this purpose, in order that there may be liberality evinced in doing good to others.

Which causeth through us, etc. That is, we shall so distribute your alms as to cause thanksgiving to God. The result will be, that by our instrumentality thanks will be given to the great Source and Giver of all wealth. Property should always be so employed as to produce thanksgiving. If it is made to contribute to our own support and the support of our families, it should excite thanksgiving. If it is given to others, it should be so given, if it is possible, that the recipient should be more grateful to God than to us; should feel that though we may be the honoured instrument in distributing it, yet the true benefactor is God.

{1} "all bountifulness" "simplicity, or liberality"

{d} "causeth through us" 2 Co 1:11; 4:15


Verse 12. For the administration of this service. The distribution of this proof of your liberality. The word service here, says Doddridge, intimates that this was to be regarded not merely as an act of humanity, but religion.

The want of the saints. Of the poor Christians in Judea on whose behalf it was contributed.

But is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God. Will abound unto God in producing thanksgivings. The result will be that it will produce abundant thanksgiving in their hearts to God.

{e} "the want of the saints" 2 Co 8:14


Verse 13. Whiles by the experiment, etc. Or rather, by the experience of this ministration; the proof, (dokimhv,) the evidence here furnished of your liberality. They shall in this ministration have experience or proof of your Christian principle.

They glorify God. They will praise God as the source of your liberality, as having given you the means of being liberal, and having inclined your hearts to it.

For your professed subjection, etc. Literally, "For the obedience of your profession of the gospel." It does not imply merely that there was a profession of religion, but that there was a real subjection to the gospel which they professed. This is not clearly expressed in our translation. Tindal has expressed it better, "Which praise God for your obedience in acknowledging the gospel of Christ." There was a real and sincere submission to the gospel of Christ, and that was manifested by their giving liberally to supply the wants of others. The doctrine is, that one evidence of true subjection to the gospel, one proof that our profession is sincere and genuine, is a willingness to contribute to relieve the wants of the poor and afflicted friends of the Redeemer.

And unto all men. That is, all others whom you may have the opportunity of relieving.

{*} "experiment" "experience"

{f} "glorify God" mt 5:16


Verse 14. And by their prayer for you. On the grammatical construction of this difficult verse, Doddridge and Bloomfield may be consulted. It is probably to be taken in connexion with 2 Co 9:12, and 2 Co 9:13 is a parenthesis. Thus interpreted, the sense will be, "The administration of this service 2 Co 9:12 will produce abundant thanks to God. It will also 2 Co 9:14 produce another effect. It will tend to excite the prayers of the saints for you, and thus produce important benefits to yourselves. They will earnestly desire your welfare; they will anxiously pray to be united in Christian friendship with those who have been so signally endowed with the grace of God." The sentiment is, that charity should be shown to poor and afflicted Christians because it will lead them to pray for us and to desire our welfare. The prayers of the poorest Christian for us are worth more than all we usually bestow on them in charity; and he who has secured the pleadings of a child of God, however humble, in his behalf, has made a good use of his money.

Which long after you. Who earnestly desire to see and know you. Who will sincerely desire your welfare, and who will thus be led to pray for you.

For the exceeding grace of God in you. On account of the favour which God has shown to you; the strength and power of the Christian principle, manifesting itself in doing good to those whom you have never seen. The apostle supposes that the exercise of a charitable disposition is to be traced entirely to God. God is the Author of all grace; he alone excites in us a disposition to do good to others.

{a} "grace of God" 2 Co 8:1


Verse 15. Thanks be unto God. Whitby supposes that this refers to the charitable disposition which they had manifested; and that the sense is, that God was to be adored for the liberal spirit which they were disposed, to manifest, and the aid which they were disposed to render to others. But this, it is believed, falls far below the design of the apostle. The reference is rather to the inexpressible gift which God had granted to them in bestowing his Son to die for them; and this is one of the most striking instances which occur in the New Testament, showing that the mind of Paul was full of this subject; and that wherever he began, he was sure to end with a reference to the Redeemer. The invaluable gift of a Saviour was so familiar to his mind, and he was so accustomed to dwell on that in his private thoughts, that the mind naturally and easily glanced on that whenever anything occurred that by the remotest allusion would suggest it. The idea is, "Your benefactions are indeed valuable; and for them, for the disposition which you have manifested, and for all the good which you will be enabled thus to accomplish, we are bound to give thanks to God. All this will excite the gratitude of those who shall be benefited. But how small is all this compared with the great gift which God has imparted in bestowing a Saviour! That is unspeakable. No words can express it, no language convey an adequate description of the value of the gift, and of the mercies which result from it."

His unspeakable gift. The word here used (anekdihghtw) means, what cannot be related, unutterable. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The idea is, that no words can properly express the greatness of the gift thus bestowed on man. It is higher than the mind can conceive; higher than language can express.

On this verse we may observe,

(1.) that the Saviour is a gift to men. So he is uniformly represented. See Joh 3:16; Ga 1:4; 2:20; Eph 1:22; 1 Ti 2:6; Tit 2:14.

Man had no claim on God. He could not compel him to provide a plan of salvation; and the whole arrangements the selection of the Saviour, the sending him into the world, and all the benefits resulting from his work, are all an undeserved gift to man.

(2.) This is a gift unspeakably great, whose value no language can express, no heart fully conceive. It is so because

(a.) of his own greatness and glory;

(b.) because of the inexpressible love which he evinced;

(c.) because of the unutterable sufferings which he endured;

(d.) because of the inexpressibly great benefits which result from his work. No language can do justice to this work in either of these respects; no heart in this world fully conceives the obligation which rests upon man in virtue of his work.

(3.) Thanks should be rendered to God for this. We owe him our highest praises for this. This appears,

(a.) because it was mere benevolence in God. We had no claim; we could not compel him to grant us a Saviour. The gift might have been withheld, and his throne would have been spotless. We owe no thanks where we have a claim; where we deserve nothing, then he who benefits us has a claim on our thanks.

(b.) Because of the benefits which we have received from him. Who can express this? All our peace and hope; all our comfort and joy in this life; all our prospect of pardon and salvation; all the offers, of eternal glory are to be traced to him. Man has no prospect of being happy when he dies, but in virtue of the "unspeakable gift" of God. And when he thinks of his sins, which may now be freely pardoned; when he thinks of an agitated and troubled conscience, which may now be at peace; when he thinks of his soul, which may now be unspeakably and eternally happy; when he thinks of the hell from which he is delivered, and of the heaven to whose eternal glories he may now be raised up by the gift of a Saviour, his heart should overflow with gratitude, and the language should be continually on his lips and in his heart, "THANKS BE UNTO GOD FOR HIS UNSPEAKABLE GIFT." Every other mercy should seem small compared with this; and every manifestation of right feeling in the heart should lead us to contemplate the source of it, and to feel, as Paul did, that all is to be traced to the unspeakable gift of God.

REMARKS on 2nd Corinthians Chapter 9

(1.) This chapter, with the preceding, derives special importance from the fact that it contains the most extended discussion of the principles of Christian charity which occurs in the Bible. No one can doubt that it was intended by the Redeemer that his people should be distinguished for benevolence. It was important, therefore, that there should be some portion of the New Testament where the principles on which charity should be exercised, and the motives by which Christians should be induced to give, should be fully stated. Such a discussion we have in these chapters; and they therefore demand the profound and prayerful attention of all who love the Lord Jesus.

(2.) We have here a striking specimen of the manner in which the Bible is written. Instead of abstract statements and systematic arrangement, the principles of religion are brought out in connexion with a case that actually occurred. But it follows that it is important to study attentively the Bible, and to be familiar with every part of it. In some part of the Scriptures, statements of the principles which should guide us in given circumstances will be found; and Christians should, therefore, be familiar with every part of the Bible.

(3.) These chapters are of special importance to the ministers of religion, and to all whose duty it is to press upon their fellow Christians the duty of giving liberally to the objects of benevolence. The principles on which it should be done are fully developed here. The motives which it is lawful to urge are urged here by Paul. It may be added, also, that the chapters are worthy of our profound study on account of the admirable tact and address which Paul evinces in inducing others to give. Well he knew human nature. Well he knew the motives which would influence others to give. And well he knew exactly how to shape his arguments and adapt his reasoning to the circumstances of those whom he addressed.

(4.) The summary of the motives presented in this chapter contains still the most important argument which can be urged to produce liberality. We cannot but admire the felicity of Paul in this address—a felicity not the result of craft and cunning, but resulting from his amiable feelings, and the love which he bore to the Corinthians and to the cause of benevolence. He reminds them of the high opinion which he had of them, and of the honourable mention which he had been induced to make of them, (2 Co 9:1,2;) he reminds them of the painful result to his own feelings and theirs if the collection should in any way fail, and it should appear that his confidence in them had been misplaced, (2 Co 9:3-5;) he refers them to the abundant reward which they might anticipate as the result of liberal benefactions, and of the fact that God loved those who gave cheerfully, (2 Co 9:6,7;) he reminds them of the abundant grace of God, who was able to supply all their wants and to give them the means to contribute liberally to meet the wants of the poor, (2 Co 9:8;) he reminds them of the joy which their liberality would occasion, and of the abundant thanksgiving to God which would result from it, (2 Co 9:12,13;) and he refers them to the unspeakable gift of God, Jesus Christ as an example, and an argument, and as urging the highest claims in them, 2 Co 9:15. "Who," says Doddridge, "could withstand the force of such oratory?" No doubt it was effectual in that case, and it should be in all others.

(5.) May the motives here urged by the apostle be effectual to persuade us all to liberal efforts to do good! Assuredly there is no less occasion for Christian liberality now than there was in the time of Paul. There are still multitudes of the poor who need the kind and efficient aid of Christians. And the whole world now is a field in which Christian beneficence may be abundantly displayed, and every land may and should experience the benefits of the charity to which the gospel prompts, and which it enjoins. Happy are they who are influenced by the principles of the gospel to do good to all men! Happy they who have any opportunity, to illustrate the power of Christian principle in this; any ability to alleviate the wants of one sufferer, or to do anything in sending that gospel to benighted nations which alone can save the soul from eternal death!

(6.) Let us especially thank God for his unspeakable gift, Jesus Christ. Let us remember that to him we owe every opportunity to do good; that it was because he came that there is any possibility of benefiting a dying world; and that all who profess to love him are bound to imitate his example, and to show their sense of their obligation to God for giving a Saviour. How poor and worthless are all our gifts compared with the great gift of God; how slight our expressions of compassion, even at the best, for our fellow-men, compared with the compassion which he has shown for us ! When God has given his Son to die for us, what should we not be willing to give that we may show our gratitude, and that we may benefit a dying world!


INTRODUCTION to 2nd Corinthians Chapter 10

PAUL, having finished the subject of the duty of alms-giving in the previous chapter, enters in this on a vindication of himself from the charges of his enemies. His general design is to vindicate his apostolic authority, and to show that he had a right, as well as others, to regard himself as sent from God. This vindication is continued through chapters 11 and 12. In this chapter, the stress of the argument is, that he did not depend on anything external to recommend him on any "carnal weapons;" on anything which commended itself by the outward appearance; or on anything that was so much valued by the admirers of human eloquence and learning. He seems willing to admit all that his enemies could say of him on that head, and to rely on other proofs that he was sent from God. In chapter 11 he pursues the subject, and shows, by a comparison of himself with others, that he had as good a right certainly as they to regard himself as sent by God. In chapter 12 he appeals to another argument, to which none of his accusers were able to appeal, that he had been permitted to see the glories of the heavenly world, and had been favoured in a manner unknown to other men.

It is evident that there was one or more false teachers among the Corinthians, who called in question the Divine authority of Paul. These teachers were native Jews, 2 Co 11:13,22, and they boasted much of their own endowments. It is impossible, except from the epistle itself, to ascertain the nature of their charges and objections against him. From the chapter before us it would seem that one principal ground of their objection was, that though he was bold enough in his letters, and had threatened to exercise discipline, yet that he would not dare to do it. They accused him of being, when present with them, timid, weak, mild, pusillanimous, of lacking moral courage to inflict the punishment which he had threatened in his letters: To this he replies in this chapter.

(1.) He appeals to the meekness and gentleness of Christ; thus indirectly and delicately vindicating his own mildness from their objections, and entreats them not to give him occasion to show the boldness and severity which he had purposed to do. He had no wish to be bold and severe in the exercise of discipline, 2 Co 10:1,2.

(2.) He assures them that the weapons of his warfare were not carnal, but spiritual. He relied on the truth of the gospel, and on the power of motives; and these weapons were mighty, by the aid of God, to cast down all that offended him. Yet he was ready to revenge and punish all disobedience by severe measures, if it were necessary, 2 Co 10:3-6.

(3.) They looked on the outward appearance. He cautioned them to remember that he had as good claims to be regarded as belonging to Christ as they had, 2 Co 10:7. He had given proofs that he was an apostle; and the false teachers should look at those proofs, lest they should be found to be opposing God. He assured them that if he had occasion to exercise his power he would have no reason to be ashamed of it, 2 Co 10:8. It would be found to be ample to execute punishment on his foes.

(4.) The false teachers had said that Paul was terrible only in his letters. He boasted of his power, but it was, they supposed, only epistolary bravery. He would not dare to execute his threatening. In reply to this, Paul, in a strain of severe irony, says that he would not seem to terrify them by mere letters. It would be by something far more severe. He advised such objectors, therefore, to believe that he would prove himself to be such as he had shown himself to be in his letters; to look at the evidence, since they boasted of their talent for reasoning, that he would show himself in fact to be what he had threatened to be, 2 Co 10:9-12.

(5.) He pursues the strain of severe irony by secretly comparing himself with them, 2 Co 10:12-16. They boasted much, but it was only by comparing themselves with one another, and not with any elevated standard of excellence. Paul admitted that he had not the courage to do that, 2 Co 10:12. Nor did he dare to boast of things wholly beyond his ability, as they had done. He was contented to act only within the proper limits prescribed to him by his talents, and by the appointment of God. Not so they. They had boldness and courage to go far beyond that, and to boast of things wholly beyond their ability, and beyond the proper measure, 2 Co 10:13,14. Nor had he courage to boast of entering into other men's labours. It required more courage than he had to make a boast of what he had done, if he had availed himself of things made ready to his hand, as if they were the fruit of his own labours, implying that they had done this; that they had come to Corinth, a church founded by his labours, and had quietly set themselves down there; and then, instead of going into other fields of labour, had called in question the authority of him who had founded the church, and who was labouring indefatigably elsewhere, 2 Co 10:15,16. Paul adds, that such was not his intention, he aimed to preach the gospel beyond, to carry it to regions where it had not been spread. Such was the nature of his courage; such the kind of boldness which he had, and he was not ambitious to join them in their boasting.

(6.) He concludes this chapter with a very serious admonition. Leaving the strain of irony, he seriously says, that if any man were disposed to boast, it should be only in the Lord. He should glory not in self-commendation, but in the fact that he had evidence that the Lord approved him; not in his own talents or powers, but in the excellence and glory of the Lord, 2 Co 10:17,18.

Verse 1. Now I Paul myself beseech you. I entreat you who are members of the church not to give me occasion for the exercise of severity in discipline. I have just expressed my confidence in the church in general, and my belief that you will act in accordance with the rules of the gospel. But I cannot thus speak of all. There are some among you who have spoken with contempt of my authority and my claims as an apostle. Of them I cannot speak in this manner; but instead of commanding them, I entreat them not to give me occasion for the exercise of discipline.

By the meekness and gentleness of Christ. In view of the meekness and mildness of the Redeemer; or desiring to imitate his gentleness and kindness. Paul wished to imitate that. He did not wish to have occasion for severity, he desired at all times to imitate and to exhibit the gentle feelings of the Saviour. He had no pleasure in severity; and he did not desire to exhibit it.

Who in presence. Marg., in outward appearance. It may either mean that when present among them he appeared, according to their representation, to be humble, mild, gentle, 2 Co 10:10, or that in his external appearance he had this aspect. See Barnes "2 Co 10:10".

Most probably it means that they had represented him as timid when among them, and afraid to exercise discipline, however much he had threatened it.

Am base among you. The word here used (tapeinov) usually means low, humble, poor. Here it means timid, modest, the opposite of boldness. Such was formerly the meaning of the English Word base. It was applied to those of low degree or rank; of humble birth; and stood opposed to those of elevated rank or dignity. Now it is commonly used to denote that which is degraded or worthless, of mean spirit, vile; and stands opposed to that which is manly and noble. But Paul did not mean to use it here in that sense. He meant to say that they regarded him as timid, and afraid to execute the punishment which he had threatened, and as manifesting a spirit which was the opposite of boldness. This was doubtless a charge which they brought against him; but we are not necessarily to infer that it was true. All that it proves is, that he was modest and unobtrusive, and that they interpreted this as timidity, and want of spirit.

But being absent am bold toward you. That is, in my letters. See Barnes "2 Co 10:10".

This they charged him with, that he was bold enough when away from them, but that he would be tame enough when he should meet them face to face, and that they had nothing to fear from him.

{a} "beseech you" Ro 12:1

{1} "in presence" "in outward appearance"

{b} "am base" 2 Co 10:10


Verse 2. That I may not be bold. I entreat you so to act that I may not have occasion to exercise the severity which I fear I shall be compelled to use against those who accuse me of being governed wholly by worldly motives and policy. That I may not be compelled to be bold and decisive in my measures by your improper conduct.

Which think of us, Marg., reckon. They suppose this; or, they accuse me of it. By the word "us," here, Paul means himself, though it is possible also that he speaks in the name of his fellow-apostles and labourers who were associated with him, and the objections may have referred to all who acted with him.

As if we walked. As if we lived or acted. The word "walk," in the Scriptures, is often used to denote the course or manner of life. See Barnes "Ro 4:12" See Barnes "2 Co 5:7".

According to the flesh. See Barnes "2 Co 1:17".

As if we were governed by the weak and corrupt principles of human nature. As if we had no higher motive than carnal and worldly policy. As if we were seeking our own advantage, and not the welfare of the world. The charge was, probably, that he was not governed by high and holy principles, but by the principles of mere worldly policy; that he was guided by personal interests, and by worldly views—by ambition, or the love of dominion, wealth, or popularity, and that he was destitute of every supernatural endowment, and every evidence of a Divine commission.

{c} "I think to be bold" 2 Co 13:2,10

{2} "think of us" "reckon"


Verse 3. For though we walk in the flesh. Though we are mortal, like other men; though we dwell, like them, in mortal bodies, and necessarily must devote some care to our temporal wants; and though, being in the flesh, we are conscious of imperfections and frailties like others. The sense is, that he did not claim exemption from the common wants and frailties of nature. The best of men are subject to these wants and frailties; the best of men are liable to err.

We do not war after the flesh. The warfare in which he was engaged was with sin, idolatry, and all forms of evil. He means that in conducting this he was not actuated by worldly views or policy, or by such ambitious and interested aims as controlled the men of this world. This refers primarily to the warfare in which Paul was himself engaged as an apostle; and the idea is, that he went forth as a soldier under the great Captain of his salvation, to fight his battles, and to make conquests for him. A similar allusion occurs in 2 Ti 2:3,4. It is true, however, that not only all ministers, but all Christians, are engaged in a warfare; and it is equally true that they do not maintain their conflict "after the flesh," or on the principles which govern the men of this, world. The warfare of Christians relates to the following points:

(1.) it is a warfare with the corrupt desires and sensual propensities of the heart; with internal corruption and depravity; with the remaining unsubdued propensities of a fallen nature.

(2.) With the powers of darkness—the mighty spirits of evil that seek to destroy us. See Eph 6:11-17.

(3.) With sin in all forms; with idolatry, sensuality, corruption, intemperance, profaneness, wherever they may exist. The Christian is opposed to all these; and it is the aim and purpose of his life, as far as he may be able, to resist and subdue them. He is a soldier, enlisted under the banner of the Redeemer, to oppose and resist all forms of evil. But his warfare is not conducted on worldly principles. Mohammed propagated his religion with the sword; and the men of this world seek for victory by arms and violence. The Christian looks for his conquests only by the force and power of truth, and by the agency of the Spirit of God.

{a} "after the flesh" Ro 8:13


Verse 4. For the weapons of our warfare. The means by which we hope to achieve our victory.

Are not careful. Not those of the flesh. Not such as the men of the world use. They are not such as are employed by conquerors; nor are they such as men in general rely on to advance their cause. We do not depend on eloquence, or talent, or learning, or wealth, or beauty, or any of the external aids on which the men of this world rely. They are not such as derive advantage from any power inherent in themselves. Their strength is derived from God alone.

But mighty through God. Marg., "to" They are rendered mighty or powerful by the agency of God. They depend on him for their efficacy. Paul has not here specified the weapons on which he relied; but he had before specified them, 2 Co 6:6,7, so that there was no danger of mistake. The weapons were such as were furnished by truth and righteousness, and these were rendered mighty by the attending agency of God. The sense is, that God is the Author of the doctrines which we preach, and that he attends them with the agency of his Spirit, and accompanies them to the hearts of men. It is important for all ministers to feel that their weapons are mighty ONLY through God. Conquerors and earthly warriors go into battle depending on the might of their own arm, and on the wisdom and skill which plans the battle. The Christian goes on his warfare, feeling that however well adapted the truths which he holds are to accomplish great purposes, and however wisely his plans are formed, yet that the efficacy of all depends on the agency of God. He has no hope of victory but in God. And if God does not attend him, he is sure of inevitable defeat.

To the pulling down of strong holds. The word here rendered "strongholds" (ocurwma) means, properly, a fastness, fortress, or strong fortification. It is here beautifully used to denote the various obstacles resembling a fortress which exist, and which are designed and adapted to oppose the truth and the triumph of the Christian's cause. All those obstacles are strongly fortified. The sins of his heart are fortified by long indulgence, and by the hold which they have on his soul. The wickedness of the world which he opposes is strongly fortified by the fact that it has seized on strong human passions; that one point strengthens another; that great numbers are united. The idolatry of the world was strongly fortified by prejudice, and long establishment, and the protection of laws, and the power of the priesthood; and the opinions of the world are entrenched behind false philosophy and the power of subtle argumentation. The whole world is fortified against Christianity; and the nations of the earth have been engaged in little else than in raising and strengthening such strongholds for the space of six thousand years. The Christian religion goes forth against all the combined and concentrated powers of resistance of the whole world; and the warfare is to be waged against every strongly fortified place of error and of sin. These strong fortifications of error and of sin are to be battered down and laid in ruins by our spiritual weapons.

{b} "weapons of our warfare" Eph 6:13; 1 Th 5:8

{c} "are not carnal" 1 Ti 1:18

{1} "mighty" or "to"

{d} "through God" 2 Co 13:3,4

{e} "strong holds" Jer 1:10


Verse 5. Casting down imaginations. Marg., reasonings. The word is probably used here in the sense of device, and refers to all the plans of a wicked world—the various systems of false philosophy, and the reasonings of the enemies of the gospel. The various systems of false philosophy were so entrenched, that they might be called the stronghold of the enemies of God. The foes of Christianity pretend to a great deal of reason, and rely on that in resisting the gospel.

And every high thing, etc. Every exalted opinion respecting the dignity and purity of bunyan nature; all the pride of the human heart and of the understanding. All this is opposed to the knowledge of God, and all exalts itself into a vain self-confidence. Men entertain vain and unfounded opinions respecting their own excellency, and they feel that they do not need the provisions of the gospel, and are unwilling to submit to God.

And bringing into captivity, etc. The figure here is evidently taken from military conquests. The idea is, that all the strongholds of heathenism, and pride, and sin, would be demolished; and that when this was done, like throwing down the walls of a city, or making a breach, all the plans and purposes of the soul, the reason, the imagination, and all the powers of the mind, would be subdued or led in triumph by the gospel, like the inhabitants of a captured city. Christ was the great Captain in this warfare. In his name the battle was waged, and by his power the victory was won. The captives were made for him, and under his authority; and all were to be subject to his control. Every power of thought in the heathen world; all the systems of philosophy, and all forms of opinion among men; all the purposes of the soul; all the powers of reason, memory, judgment, fancy, in an individual, were all to come under the laws of Christ. All doctrines were to be in accordance with his will; philosophy should no longer control them, but they should be subject to the will of Christ. All the plans of life should be controlled by the will of Christ, and formed and executed under his control—as captives are led by a conqueror. All the emotions and feelings of the heart should be controlled by him, and led by him as a captive is led by a victor. The sense is, that it was the aim and purpose of Paul to accomplish this, and that it would certainly be done. The strongholds of philosophy, heathenism, and sin should be demolished, and all the opinions, plans, and purposes of the world should become subject to the all-conquering Redeemer.

{2} "imaginations" "reasonings"

{f} "every high thing" 1 Co 1:19

{g} "thing" Ps 18:27; Eze 17:24

{h} "captivity" Mt 11:29,30

{i} "to the obedience" Ge 8:21; Mt 15:19; Heb 4:12


Verse 6. And having in a readiness, etc. I am ready to punish all disobedience, notwithstanding all that is said to the contrary. See Barnes "2 Co 10:1, See Barnes "2 Co 10:2".

Clothed as I am with this power; aiming to subdue all things to Christ, though the weapons of my warfare are not carnal, and though I am modest or timid 2 Co 10:1 when I am with you, I am prepared to take any measures of severity required by my apostolic, office, in order that I may inflict deserved punishment on those who have violated the laws of Christ. The design of this is to meet the objection of his enemies, that he would not dare to execute his threatenings.

When your obedience is fulfilled. Doddridge renders this, "Now your obedience is fulfilled, and the sounder part of your church restored to due order and submission." The idea seems to be, that Paul was ready to inflict discipline when the church had shown a readiness to obey his laws, and to do its own duty—delicately intimating that the reason why it was not done was the want of entire promptness in the church itself, and that it could not be done on any offender as long as the church itself was not prepared to sustain him. The church was to discountenance the enemies of the Redeemer; to show an entire readiness to sustain the apostle, and to unite with him in the effort to maintain the discipline of Christ's house.

{k} "obedience is fulfilled" 2 Co 7:15


Verse 7. Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? This is addressed evidently to the members of the church, and with reference to the claims which had been set up by the false teachers. There can be no doubt that they valued themselves on their external advantages, and laid claim to peculiar honour in the work of the ministry, because they were superior in personal appearance, in rank, manners, or eloquence to Paul. Paul reproves them for thus judging, and assures them that this was not a proper criterion by which to determine on qualifications for the apostolic office. Such things were highly valued among the Greeks, and a considerable part of the effort of Paul in these letters is to show that these things constitute no evidence that those who possessed them were sent from God.

If any man trust to himself, etc. This refers to the false teachers who laid claims to be the followers of Christ by way of eminence. Whoever these teachers were, it is evident that they claimed to be on the side of Christ, and to be appointed by him. They were probably Jews, and they boasted of their talents and eloquence, and possibly that they had seen the Saviour. The phrase, "trust to himself," seems to imply that they relied on some special merit of their own, or some special advantage which they had.— Bloomfield. It may have been that they were of the same tribe that he was, or that they had seen him, or that they confided in their own talents or endowments as proof that they had been sent by him. It is not an uncommon thing for men. to have such confidence in their own gifts, and particularly in a power of fluent speaking, as to suppose that this is a sufficient evidence that they are sent to preach the gospel.

Let him of himself think this again. Since he relies so much on himself; since he has such confidence in his own powers, let him look at the evidence that I also am of Christ.

That, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's. That I have given as much evidence that I am commissioned by Christ as they can produce. It may be of a different kind. It is not in eloquence, and rank, and the gift of a rapid and ready elocution, but it may be superior to what they are able to produce. Probably Paul refers here to the fact that he had seen the Lord Jesus, and that he had been directly commissioned by him. The sense is, that no one could produce more proofs of being called to the ministry than he could.

{a} "appearance" Joh 7:24


Verse 8. For though I should boast, etc. If I should make even higher claims than I have done to a Divine commission. I could urge higher evidence than I have done that I am sent by the Lord Jesus.

Of our authority. Of my authority as an apostle, my power to administer discipline, and to direct the affairs of the church.

Which the Lord hath given us for edification. A power primarily conferred to build up his people and save them, and not to destroy.

I should not be ashamed. It would be founded on good evidence, and sustained by the nature of my commission. I should also have no occasion to be ashamed of the manner in which it has been exercised —a power that has in fact been employed in extending religion and edifying the church, and not in originating and sustaining measures fitted to destroy the soul.

{*} "boast" "glory"

{b} "authority" 2 Co 13:2,3

{c} "and not for your destruction" 2 Co 13:8


Verse 9. That I may not seem, etc. The meaning of this verse seems to be this: "I say that I might boast more of my power in order that I may not appear disposed to terrify you with my letters merely. I do not threaten more than I can perform. I have it in my power to execute all that I have threatened,, and to strike an awe not only by my letters, but by the infliction of extraordinary miraculous punishments. And if I should boast that I had done this, and could do it again, I should have no reason to be ashamed. It would not be vain empty boasting; not boasting which is not well-founded."


Verse 10. For his letters. The letters which he has sent to the church when absent. Reference is had here probably to the first epistle to the Corinthians. They might also have seen some of Paul's other epistles, and been so well acquainted with them as to be able to make the general remark that he had the power of writing in an authoritative and impressive manner.

Say they. Marg., Saith he. Gr., (fhsi) in the singular. This seems to have referred to some one person who had uttered the words— perhaps some one who was the principal leader of the faction opposed to Paul.

Are weighty and powerful. Tindal renders this, "sore and strong." The Greek is, "heavy and strong," (bareiai kai iscurai). The sense is, that his letters were energetic and powerful. They abounded with strong argument, manly appeals, and impressive reproof. This even his enemies were compelled to admit, and this no one can deny who ever read them. Paul's letters comprise a considerable portion of the New Testament; and some of the most important doctrines of the New Testament are those which are advocated and enforced by him; and his letters have done more to give shape to the theological doctrines of the Christian world than any other cause whatever. He wrote fourteen epistles to churches and individuals on various occasions and on a great variety of topics; and his letters soon rose into very high repute among even the inspired ministers of the New Testament, 2 Pe 3:15,16, and were regarded as inculcating the most important doctrines of religion. The general characteristics of Paul's letters are:

(1.) They are strongly argumentative. See especially the epistles to the Romans and the Hebrews.

(2.) They are distinguished for boldness and rigour of style.

(3.) They are written under great energy of feeling and of thought—a rapid and impetuous torrent that bears him forcibly along.

(4.) They abound more than most other writings in parentheses, and the sentences are often involved and obscure.

(5.) They often evince rapid transitions and departures from the regular current of thought. A thought strikes him suddenly, and he pauses to illustrate it, and dwells upon it long, before he returns to the main subject. The consequence is, that it is often difficult to follow him.

(6.) They are powerful in reproof—abounding with strokes of great boldness of denunciation, and also with specimens of most withering sarcasm and most delicate irony.

(7.) They abound in expressions of great tenderness and pathos. Nowhere can be found expressions of a heart more tender and affectionate than in the writings of Paul.

(8.) They dwell much on great and profound doctrines, and on the application of the principles of Christianity to the various duties of life.

(9.) They abound with references to the Saviour. He illustrates everything by his life, his example, his death, his resurrection. It is not wonderful that letters composed on such subjects and in such a manner, by an inspired man, produced a deep impression on the Christian world; nor that they should be regarded now as among the most important and valuable portions of the Bible. Take away Paul's letters, and what a chasm would be made in the New Testament! What a chasm in the religious opinions and in the consolations of the Christian world!

But his bodily presence. His personal appearance.

Is weak. Imbecile, feeble, (asyenhv,) a word often used to denote infirmity of body, sickness, disease, Mt 25:39,43,44; Lu 10:9; Ac 4:9; 5:15,16; 1 Co 11:30.

Here it is to be observed that this is a mere charge which was brought-against him, and it is not of necessity to be supposed that it was true, though the presumption is that there was some foundation for it. It is supposed to refer to some bodily imperfections, and possibly to his diminutive stature. Chrysostom says that his stature was low, his body crooked, and his head bald. Lucian, in his Philopatris, says of him, Corpore erat parvo, contracto, incurvo, tricubitali—pobably an exaggerated description, perhaps a caricature, to denote one very diminutive, and having no advantages of personal appearance. According to Nicephorus, Paul "was a little man, crooked, and almost bent like a bow; with a pale countenance, long and wrinkled; a bald head; his eyes full of fire and benevolence; his beard long, thick, and interspersed with gray hairs, as was his head," etc. But there is no certain evidence of the truth of these representations. Nothing in the Bible would lead us to suppose that Paul was remarkably diminutive or deformed; and though there may be some foundation for the charge here alleged that his bodily presence was weak, yet we are to remember that this was the accusation of his enemies, and that it was doubtless greatly exaggerated. Nicephorus was a writer of the sixteenth century, and his statements are worthy of no regard. That Paul was eminently an eloquent man may be inferred from a great many considerations; some of which are,

(1.) his recorded discourses in the Acts of the Apostles, and the effect produced by them. No one can read his defence before Agrippa or Felix, and not be convinced that as an orator he deserves to be ranked among the most distinguished of ancient times. No one who reads the account in the Acts can believe that he had any remarkable impediment in his speech, or that he was remarkably deformed.

(2.) Such was somehow his grace and power as an orator that he was taken by the inhabitants of Lycaonia as Mercury, the god of eloquence, Ac 14:12. Assuredly the evidence here is, that Paul was not deformed.

(3.) It may be added, that Paul is mentioned by Longinus among the principal orators of antiquity. From these circumstances, there is no reason to believe that Paul was remarkably deficient in the qualifications requisite for an orator, or that he was in any way remarkably deformed.

And his speech contemptible. To be despised. Some suppose that he had an impediment in his speech. But conjecture here is vain and useless. We are to remember that this is a charge made by his adversaries, and that it was made by the fastidious Greeks, who professed to be great admirers of eloquence, but who in his time confided much more in the mere art of the rhetorician than in the power of thought, and in energetic appeals to the reason and conscience of men. Judged by their standard, it may be that Paul had not the graces in voice or manner, or in the knowledge of the Greek language, which they esteemed necessary in a finished orator; but judged by his power of thought, and his bold and manly defence of truth, and his energy of character and manner, and his power of impressing truth on mankind, he deserves, doubtless, to be ranked among the first orators of antiquity. No man has left the impress of his own mind on more other minds than Paul.

{1} "say they" "saith he"


Verse 11. Let such an one think this, etc. Let them not flatter themselves that there will be any discrepancy between my words and my deeds. Let them feel that all which has been threatened will be certainly executed, unless there is repentance. Paul here designedly contradicts the charge which was made against him; and means to say that all that he had threatened in his letters would be certainly executed, unless there was reform. I think that the evidence here is clear that Paul does not intend to admit what they said about his bodily presence to be true; and most probably all that has been recorded about his deformity is mere fable.


Verse 12. For we dare not make ourselves of the number. We admit that we are not bold enough for that. They had accused him of a want of boldness and energy when present with them, 1 Co 10:1,10. Here, in a strain of severe but delicate irony, he says he was not bold enough to do things which they had done. He did not dare to do the things which, had been done among them. To such boldness of character, present or absent, he could lay no claim.

Or compare ourselves, etc. I am not bold enough for that. That requires a stretch of boldness and energy to which I can lay no claim.

That commend themselves. That put themselves forward, and that boast of their endowments and attainments. It is probable that this was commonly done by those to whom the apostle here refers; and it is certain that it is everywhere the characteristic of pride. To do this, Paul says, required greater boldness than he possessed, and on this point he yielded to them the palm. The satire here is very delicate, and yet very severe, and was such as would doubtless be felt by them.

But they measuring themselves by themselves. Whitby and Clarke suppose that this means that they compared themselves with each other; and that they made the false apostles particularly their standard. Doddridge, Grotius, Bloomfield, and some others suppose the sense to be, that they made themselves the standard of excellence. They looked continually on their own accomplishments, and did not look at the excellences of others. They thus formed a disproportionate opinion of themselves, and undervalued all others. Paul says that he had not boldness enough for that. It required a moral courage to which he could lay no claim. Horace (B. i. Ep. 7, 98) has an expression similar to this:

Metri se quemque suo modulo ac pede, veturn est.

The sense of Paul is, that they made themselves the standard of excellence; that they were satisfied with their own attainments; and that they overlooked the superior excellence and attainments of others. This is a graphic description of pride and self-complacency; and alas! it is what is often exhibited. How many there are, and it is to be feared even among professing Christians, who have no other standard of excellence than themselves. Their views are the standard of orthodoxy; their modes of worship are the standard of the proper manner of devotion; their habits and customs are in their own estimation perfect; and their own characters are the models of excellence, and they see little or no excellence in those who differ from them. They look on themselves as the true measure of orthodoxy, humility, zeal, and piety; and they condemn all others, however excellent they may be, who differ from them.

And comparing themselves, etc. Or rather comparing themselves with themselves. Themselves they make to be the standard, and they judge of everything by that.

Are not wise. Are stupid and foolish. Because

(1.) they had no such excellence as to make themselves the standard.

(2.) Because this was an indication of pride.

(3.) Because it made them blind to the excellences of others. It was to be presumed that others had endowments not inferior to theirs.

(4.) Because the requirements of God, and the character of the Redeemer, were the proper standard of conduct. Nothing is a more certain indication of folly than for a man to make himself the standard of excellence. Such an individual must be blind to his own real character; and the only thing certain about his attainments is that he is inflated with pride. And yet how common! How self-satisfied are most persons! How pleased with their own character and attainments! How grieved at any comparison which is made with others implying their inferiority! How prone to undervalue all others simply because they differ from them! The margin renders this, "understand it not," that is, they do not understand their own character or their inferiority.

{a} "we dare not" 2 Co 3:1

{1} "are not wise" "understand it not"

{b} "wise" Pr 26:12


Verse 13. But we will not boast of things without our measure. Tindal renders this, "But we will not rejoice above measure." There is great obscurity in the language here, arising from its brevity. But the general idea seems to be plain. Paul says that he had not boldness as they had to boast of things wholly beyond his proper rule and his actual attainments and influence: and, especially, that he was not disposed to enter into other men's labours; or to boast of things that had been done by the mere influence of his name, and beyond the proper limits of his personal exertions. He made no boast of having done anything where he had not been himself on the ground and laboured assiduously to secure the object. They, it is not improbable, had boasted of what had been done in Corinth as though it were really their work, though it had been done by the apostle himself. Nay more, it is probable that they boasted of what had been done by the mere influence of their name. Occupying a central position, they supposed that their reputation had gone abroad, and that the mere influence of their reputation had had an important effect. Not so with Paul. He made no boast of anything but what God had enabled him to do by his evangelical labours, and by personal exertions. He entered into no other men's labours, and claimed nothing that others had done as his own. He was not bold enough for that.

But according to the measure of the rule, etc. Marg., or line. The word rendered "rule," (kanwn, whence our English word canon,) means properly a reed, rod, or staff employed to keep anything stiff, erect, asunder, (Hom. Iliad, 8, 103;) then a measuring rod or line; then any standard or rule—its usual meaning in the New Testament, as, e.g., of life and doctrine, Ga 6:16; Php 3:16.—Robinson's Lex. Here it means the limit, boundary line, or sphere of action assigned to any one. Paul means to say that God had appropriated a certain line or boundary as the proper limit of his sphere of action; that his appropriate sphere extended to them; that in going to them, though they were far distant from the field of his early labours, he had confined himself within the proper limits assigned him by God; and that in boasting of his labours among them he was not boasting of anything which did not properly fall within the sphere of labour assigned to him. The meaning is, that Paul was especially careful not to boast of anything beyond his proper bounds.

Which God hath distributed to us. Which, in assigning our respective fields of labour, God has assigned unto me and my fellow-labourers. The Greek word here rendered "distributed" (emerisen) means, properly, to measure; and the sense is, that God had measured out or apportioned their respective fields of labour; that by his providence he had assigned to each one his proper sphere; and that, in the distribution, Corinth had fallen to the lot of Paul. In going there he had kept within the proper limits; in boasting of his labours and success there he did not boast of what did not belong to him.

A measure to reach even unto you. The sense is, "The limits assigned me include you, and I may therefore justly boast of what I have done among you as within my proper field of labour." Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, Ac 26:17,18; and the whole country of Greece, therefore, he regarded as falling within the limits assigned to him. No one therefore, could blame him for going there as if he was an intruder; no one assert that he had gone beyond the proper bounds. {2} "the rule" "line"


Verse 14. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure. In coming to preach to you, we have not gone beyond the proper limits assigned us. We have not endeavoured to enlarge the proper boundaries, to stretch the line which limited us but have kept honestly within the proper limits.

As though we reached not unto you. That is, as if our boundaries did not extend so far as to comprehend you. We have not overstepped the proper limits as if Greece was not within the proper sphere of action.

For we are come as far as to you, etc. In the regular work of preaching the gospel we have come to you. We have gone from place to place preaching the gospel where we had opportunity; we have omitted no important places, until in the regular discharge of our duties in preaching we have reached you, and have preached the gospel to you. We have not omitted other places in order to come to you and enter into the proper field of labour of others; but in the regular work of making the gospel known as far as possible to all men, we have come to Corinth. Far as it is, therefore, from the place where we started, we have approached it in a regular manner, and have not gone out of our proper province in doing it.


Verse 15. Not boasting of things without our measure. There is here probably an allusion to the false teachers at Corinth. They had come after Paul had been there and had entered into his labours. When he had founded the church; when he had endured trials and persecutions in order to reach Corinth; when he had laboured there for a year and a half, Ac 18:11, they came and entered the quiet and easy field, formed parties, and claimed the field as their own. Paul says that he had not courage to do that. See Barnes "2 Co 10:12".

That required a species of boldness to which he could lay no claim; and he did not assume honour to himself like that.

That is, of other men's labours. Not intruding into churches which we did not establish, and claiming the right to direct their affairs, and to exclude the founders from all proper honours and all influence, and endeavouring to alienate the affections of Christians from their spiritual father and guide.

But having hope, etc. So far from this; so far from a desire to enter into the labours of others, and quietly enjoying the avails of their industry; and so far even from a desire to sit down ourselves and enjoy the fruit of our own labours, I desire to penetrate other untrodden regions; to encounter new dangers; to go where the gospel has not been planted, and to rear other churches, there. I do not, therefore, make these remarks as if I wished even to dispossess the teachers that have entered into my labours. I make them because I wish to be aided by you in extending the gospel further; and I look to your assistance in order that I may have the means of going into the regions where I have not made Known the name of the Redeemer.

When your faith is increased. When you become so strong as not to need my presence and my constant care; and when you shall be able to speed me on my way, and to aid me on my journey. He expected to be assisted by them in his efforts to carry the gospel to other countries.

That we shall be enlarged. Marg., Magnified in you. Bloomfield supposes that this means, "to gain fame and glory by you;" that is, as the teacher may justly by his pupils. So Robinson renders it, "to make great, to praise." But to me the idea seems to be, that he wished them to enlarge or magnify him by introducing him to larger fields of action; by giving him a wider sphere of labour. It was not: that he wished to be magnified by obtaining a wider reputation, not as a matter of praise or ambition, but he wished to have his work and success greatly enlarged. This he hoped to be enabled to do partly by the aid of the church at Corinth. When they became able to manage their own affairs; when his time was not demanded to superintend them; when their faith became so strong that his presence was not needed; and when they should assist him in his preparations for travel, then he would enter on his wider field of labour. He had no intention of sitting down in ease, as the false teachers in Corinth seem disposed to have done.

According to our rule. Greek, "According to our canon." See Barnes "2 Co 10:13".

The sense is, according to the rule by which the sphere of his labours had been marked out. His rule was to carry the gospel as far as possible to the heathen world. He regarded the regions lying far beyond Corinth as coming properly within his limits; and he desired to occupy that field.

Abundantly. Greek, Unto abundance. So as to abound; that is, to occupy the field assigned as far as possible.

{*} "boasting" "glorying"

{a} "other men's labours" Ro 15:20

{1} "enlarged" "magnified in you"

{+} "rule" "line"


Verse 16. To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. What regions are referred to here can be only a matter of conjecture. It may be that he wished to preach in other parts of Greece, and that he designed to go to Arcadia or Lacedaemon. Rosenmuller supposes that, as the Corinthians were engaged in commerce, the apostle hoped that by them some tidings of the gospel would reach the countries with which they were engaged in traffic. But I think it most probable that he alludes to Italy and Spain. It is certain that he had formed the design of visiting Spain, Ro 15:24,28; and he doubtless wished the Corinthians to aid him in that purpose, and was anxious to do this as soon as the condition of the eastern churches would allow it.

And not to boast in another man's line of things, etc. Marg., rule, the same word (kanwn) which occurs in 2 Co 10:13. The meaning is, that Paul did not mean to boast of what properly belonged to others. He did not claim what they had done as his own. He did not intend to labour within what was properly their bounds, and then to claim the field and the result of the labour as his. He probably means here to intimate that this had been done by the false teachers of Corinth; but so far was he from designing to do this, that he meant soon to leave Corinth, which was properly within his limits, and the church which he had founded there, to go and preach the gospel to other regions. Whether Paul ever went to Spain has been a question, See Barnes "Ro 15:24".

but it is certain that he went to Rome, and that he preached the gospel in many other places after this besides Corinth.

{2} "line" "rule"


Verse 17. But he that glorieth, he that boasts. Whatever may be the occasion of his boasting, whether in planting churches or in watering them; whether in his purposes, plans, toils, or success. Paul himself did not deem it improper on some occasions to boast, 2 Co 11:16; 12:5, but it was not of his own power, attainments, or righteousness, he was disposed to trace all to the Lord, and to regard him as the Source of all blessing and all success.

Let him glory in the Lord. In this serious and weighty admonition, Paul designs, doubtless, to express the manner in which he was accustomed to glory, and to furnish an admonition to the Corinthians. In the previous part of the chapter there had been some severe irony. He closes the chapter with the utmost seriousness and solemnity of manner, in order to show on his part that he was not disposed to glory in his own attainments, and to admonish them not to boast of theirs. If they had anything valuable, they should regard the Lord as the Author of it. In this admonition it is probable that Paul had in his eye the passage in Jer 9:23,24, though he has not expressly quoted it: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth." The sentiment is a favourite one with Paul, as it should be with all Christians. See Barnes "1 Co 1:31".

On this verse we may here remark,

I. That nothing is more common than for men to boast or glory. Little as they really have in which to glory, yet there is no one probably who has not something of which he is proud, and of which he is disposed to boast. It would be difficult or impossible to find a person who had not something on which he prided himself; something in which he esteemed himself superior to others.

II. The things of which they boast are very various.

(1.) Many are proud of their personal beauty—many, too, who would be unwilling to be thought proud of it.

(2.) Many glory in their accomplishments; or, what is more likely, in the accomplishments of their children.

(3.) Many glory in their talents; talents for anything, valuable or not, in. which they suppose they surpass others. They glory in their talent for eloquence, or science, or gaining knowledge; or in their talent for gaining property or keeping it; for their skill in their professions or callings; for their ability to run, to leap, or to practise even any trick or sleight of hand. There is nothing so worthless that it does not constitute a subject of glorying, provided it be ours.

If it belong to others, it may be valueless.

(4.) Many glory in their property; in fine houses, extended plantations, or in the reputation of being rich; or in gorgeous dress, equipage, and furniture. In short, there is nothing which men possess in which they are not prone to glory. Forgetful of God the giver; forgetful that all may be soon taken from them, or that they soon must leave all; forgetful that none of these things can constitute a distinction in the grave or beyond, they boast as if these things were to remain for ever, and as if they had been acquired independently of God. How prone is the man of talents to forget that God has given him his intellect, and that for its proper use he must give account! How prone is the rich man to forget that he must die! How prone the gay and the beautiful to forget that they will lie undistinguished in the grave; and that death will consume them as soon as the most vile and worthless of the species!

III. If we glory, it should be in the Lord. We should ascribe our talents, wealth, health, strength, salvation to him. We should rejoice

(1.) that we have such a Lord—so glorious, so full of mercy, so powerful, so worthy of confidence and love.

(2.) We should rejoice in our endowments and possessions as his gift. We should rejoice that we may come and lay everything at his feet; and whatever may be our rank, or talents, or learning, we should rejoice that we may come with the humblest child of poverty, and sorrow, and want, and say, "Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory for thy mercy and for thy truth's sake," Ps 115:1. See Barnes "1 Co 1:31".

{a} "he that glorieth" Jer 9:24 THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 10 - Verse 18

Verse 18. For not he who commendeth himself, etc. Not he who boasts of his talents and endowments. He is not to be judged by the estimate which he shah place on himself, but by the estimate which God shall form and express.

Is approved. By God. It is no evidence that we shall be saved that we are prone to commend ourselves. See Ro 12:10.

But whom the Lord commendeth. See Barnes "Ro 2:29".

The idea here is, that men are to be approved or rejected by God. He is to pass judgment on them, and that judgment is to be in accordance with his estimate of their character, and not according to their own. If he approves them, they will be saved; if he does not, vain will be all their empty boasting—vain all their reliance on their wealth, eloquence, learning, or earthly honours. None will save them from condemnation; not all these things can purchase for them eternal life. Paul thus seriously shows that we should be mainly anxious to obtain the Divine favour. It should be the grand aim and purpose of our life; and we should repress all disposition for vain-glory or self-confidence; all reliance on our talents, attainments, or accomplishments for salvation. OUR BOAST IS THAT WE HAVE SUCH A REDEEMER; AND IN THAT WE ALL MAY GLORY.

{b} "whom the Lord commendeth"

REMARKS on 2nd Corinthians Chapter 10

(1.) We should have no desire to show off any peculiar boldness or energy of character which we may have, 2 Co 10:1,2. We should greatly prefer to evince the gentleness and meekness of Christ. Such a character is in itself of far more value than one that is merely energetic and bold; that is rash, authoritative, and fond of display.

(2.) They who are officers in, the church should have no desire to administer discipline, 2 Co 10:2. Some men are so fond of power, that they always love to exercise it. They are willing to show it even by inflicting punishment on others; and, "dressed in a little brief authority," they are constantly seeking occasion to show their consequence; they magnify trifles; they are unwilling to pass by the slightest offences. The reason is not that they love the truth, but that they love their own consequence, and they seek every opportunity to show it.

(3.) All Christians and all Christian ministers are engaged in a warfare, 2 Co 10:3. They are at war with sin in their own hearts, and with sin wherever it exists on earth, and with the powers of darkness. With foes so numerous and so vigilant, they should not expect to live a life of ease or quietness. Peace, perfect peace, they may expect in heaven, not on earth. Here they are to fight the good fight of faith, and thus to lay hold on eternal life. It has been the common lot of all the children of God to maintain such a war, and shall we expect to be exempt? \-

Shall I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face—
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?"

(4.) The weapons of the Christian are not to be carnal, but are to be spiritual, 2 Co 10:4. He is not to make his way by the exhibition of human passion; in bloody strife; and by acting under the influence of ambitious feelings. Truth is his weapon; and armed with truth, and aided by the Spirit of God, he is to expect the victory. How different is the Christian warfare from others! How different is Christianity from other systems! Mohammed made his way by arms, and propagated his religion amidst the din of battle. But not so Christianity. That is to make its way by the silent, but mighty operation of truth; and there is not a rampart of idolatry and sin that is not yet to fall before it.

(5.) The Christian should be a man of a pure spirit, 2 Co 10:4. He is to make his way by the truth. He should therefore love the truth, and he should seek to diffuse it as far as possible. In propagating or defending it, he should be always mild, gentle, and kind. Truth is never advanced, and an adversary is never convinced, where passion is evinced; where there is a haughty manner, or a belligerent spirit. The apostolic precepts are full of wisdom—speaking the truth in love," Eph 4:15; "in MEEKNESS INSTRUCTING those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth," 2 Ti 2:25.

(6.) In his warfare, the Christian shall conquer, 2 Co 10:4,5. Against the truth of Christianity nothing has been able to stand. It made its way against the arrayed opposition of priests and emperors; against customs and laws; against inveterate habits and opinions; against all forms of sin, until it triumphed, and "the banners of the faith floated from the palaces of the Caesars." So it will be in all the conflicts with evil. Nothing is more certain than that the powers of darkness in this world are destined to fall before the power of Christian truth, and that every stronghold of sin shall yet be demolished. So it is in the conflicts of the individual Christian. He may struggle long and hard. He may have many foes to contend with. But he shall gain the victory. His triumph shall be secure; and he shall yet be enabled to say, "I have fought a good fight— henceforth there is laid up for me a CROWN"

"The saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
And seize it with their eye."

(7.) Yet all should feel their dependence on God, 2 Co 10:4. It is only through him, and by his aid, that we have any power. Truth itself has no power except as it is attended and directed by God; and we should engage in our conflict feeling that none but God can give us the victory. If forsaken by him, we shall fall; if supported by him, we may face without fear a "frowning world," and all the powers of the "dark world of hell."

(8.) We should not judge by the outward appearance, 2 Co 10:7. It is the heart that determines the character; and by that God shall judge us, and by that we should judge ourselves.

(9.) We should aim to extend the gospel as far as possible, 2 Co 10:14-16. Paul aimed to go beyond the regions where the gospel had been preached, and to extend it to far-distant lands. So the "field" still "is the world." A large portion of the earth is yet unevangelized. Instead, therefore, of sitting down quietly in enjoyment and ease, let us, like him, earnestly desire to extend the influence of pure religion, and to bring distant nations to the saving knowledge of the truth.

(10.) Let us not boast in ourselves, 2 Co 10:17. Not of our talents, wealth, learning, or accomplishments let us glory. But let us glory that we have such a God as JEHOVAH. Let us glory that we have such a Redeemer as Jesus Christ. Let us glory that we have such a sanctifier as the Holy Spirit. Let us acknowledge God as the Source of all our blessings, and to him let us honestly consecrate our hearts and our lives.

(11.) What a reverse of judgment there will yet be on human character! 2 Co 10:17,18. How many now commend themselves who will be condemned in the last day! How many men boast of their talents and morals, and even their religion, who will then be involved in indiscriminate condemnation with the most vile and worthless of the race! How anxious should we be, therefore, to secure the approbation of God! and whatever our fellow-men may say of us, how infinitely desirable is it to be commended then by our heavenly Father!

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