2 Corinthians


7. The collection for the believers, 8:1-9:15

ii] The generosity of Christ


Having detailed the generosity of the Macedonian churches toward the collection for the poor believers in Palestine, and having encouraged the Corinthian believers to act in like manner, 8:1-7, Paul now goes on to reinforce his exhortation that the Corinthians excel in this grace of giving.


i] Context: See 8:1-7.


ii] Background: See 8:1-7. The collection for the saints.


iii] Structure: The generosity of Christ:

A qualification - the exhortation is not a command, v8;

The exhortation has as its ground the example of Christ, v9;

A restatement of the exhortation, v10-12;

In support of the exhortation - the principle of equity, v13-15.


iv] Interpretation:

Paul begins by explaining that he is commanding the Corinthian believers; "I'm not trying to order you around against your will. But by bringing in the Macedonians' enthusiasm as a stimulus to your love", v8, Peterson. Paul supports his exhortation with the example of Christ, his gracious self-giving, v9, and then encourages the Corinthians to finalize the collection first begun when Titus visited them on Paul's behalf the previous year, v10-12. Paul then supports his exhortation with the theological principle of equity, v13-15.


The principle of equity, v13-15: The principles of liberty, equality and fraternity were not a French invention, but they certainly came to the fore in the French revolution and ever since have impacted on Western society. The interesting feature of these three principles, all of which are Biblical in nature, is the order they are given in society whereby one is depreciated in its standing in relation to the other two, rather than all three held in tension. Historians have often commentated that what the French revolution needed was a little more fraternity, but sadly it was depreciated in relation to the other two. The USSR needed a little more freedom, but for them it was depreciated. Australia is a good example of the modern application of these principles. A hundred years ago the order was freedom (a man's home is his castle), fraternity (mateship) and equality (egalitarian - we all muck in together). Today it is equality (in the terms of social justice), fraternity (only if you adhere to equality) and an increasingly depreciated freedom (eroded by social justice legislation).

Devoid of a Biblical mind-set, secular society struggles to hold these principles in tension, intent on depreciating one to another. The Bible, on the other hand, always holds truth in tension. Take for example God's sovereign will and human freewill, both are true, standing in tension with each other. Then there is the tension of the now / not yet reality of the kingdom of God - Biblical truth is lateral, not linear (one-dimensional). Paul's "fair balance", NRSV, is true, but so is his fraternity, compassion, "according to what one has", and so is his freedom, "I do not say this as a command."

In support of his call for equity , Paul quotes from Exodus 16:18, a text which refers to the gathering of manna by the Israelites in the wilderness. The Israelites were to have "an omer apiece". On collecting the manna, some collected more and some less, but when each took their omer, it equalled out. Of course, it is from the principle of equity that nineteenth century Christian socialism emerged and tried, in the now, to create heaven on earth. The not yet reality of the kingdom saw it struggle as a social entity. Socialism, the secular modern-day political version, has similarly struggled, usually by depreciating fraternity and freedom, along with that most fundamental of Biblical principles, original sin. Equality struggles in the now because greed often transcends love, although as any science fiction buff will tell you, good always wins out in the end - a sound Biblical truth! In the meantime, greed motivates our fallen world, although even the most greedy are loath to claim that "greed is good."


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 8:8

Equity, v8-15: i] Paul does not command the grace of giving, but sees it more as a test of faith, v8. You can't command someone to exhibit a quality which is a gift of God. So, Paul encourages them toward "this grace" by comparing their self-giving with the self-giving of the Macedonian Christians.

kat (kata) + acc. "[I am not commanding you]" - [i speak not] according to [a command, authority]. Expressing a standard, or possibly here, expressing means; "I do not say this by means of a command." Paul is careful not to demand that the Corinthians support the collection for the saints. They have only just come back on side and so tact is required. Presumably "I am not issuing an apostolic instruction", rather than "I have no word from the Lord on this matter."

alla "but" - but [through the diligence, zeal of others]. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ...., but .....", as NIV. The instrumental dia, "through, by", expresses means; "by the readiness of others", Berkeley, ie., by providing the opportunity for the Corinthians to perform a grace ministry of generosity in order to prove (kokimazwn) the sincerity of their love.

dokimazwn (docimazw) pres. part. "I want to test" - i am [and = also] testing. "Test" = "discover to be suitable through examination", Harris. The participle is possibly an example of a participle used as a finite verb, or more properly a periphrastic present construction where the present tense verb to-be is assumed, but possibly adverbial, final expressing purpose, "in order to prove", Plummer, so NIV "I want to test"; "I say it by way of making the zeal of others serve also as a means for testing whatever genuine love there may be in you", Cassirer. The stress is on comparing, not testing, the generosity of the Corinthians with the Macedonians whose generosity Paul has already alluded to, 8:1. "I don't want you to read this as an order. It is only my suggestion, prompted by what I have seen in others of eagerness to help, and here is a way to prove the reality of your love", Phillips.

to ... gnhsion adj. "the sincerity" - the genuineness. The article to serves to nominalize the adjective, introducing the object clause "the genuineness of your love", accusative direct object of the verb "to test." Paul wants to confirm the "reality" of their commitment to the collection for the saints.

thV ... agaphV (h) gen. "of [your] love" - of [your] love. The genitive is usually taken as verbal, subjective, but possibly adjectival, attributed, "sincere love."


ii] The grace of giving is displayed in the example of Christ, v9. The supreme example of Christian self-giving, namely the incarnation of Christ. Christ set aside his divine privilege for us; he became poor so that we might become rich.

gar "for" - Probably not expressing cause / reason, but emphatic; "And indeed, you know ....", Cassirer.

ginwskete (ginwskw) pres. "you know" - you know. The Corinthians already understand what Paul is about to say; "you already understand."

carin (iV ewV) "the grace" - Accusative direct object of the verb "to know." The word does get used differently in different contexts, but primarily it refers to God's covenant mercy, a "divine attribute, namely, love in action, expressed on sinners", Martin.

tou kuriouV "of [our] Lord" - of the lord [of us, jesus christ]. The genitive is usually treated as verbal, subjective, "the grace that was shown by our Lord Jesus Christ", Harris, but a simple adjectival / possessive sense should not be ruled out in that God's gracious nature, of its very self, is outward acting, is "love in action". "Jesus Christ" stands in apposition to "Lord".

oJti "that" - Introducing an object clause / epexegetic, explaining the nature of "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ."

eptwceusen (ptwceuw) aor. "he became poor" - he became poor, took on the life of a poor person. Possibly a reference to the incarnation, and less so to the idea that Jesus identifies with the materially poor. Jesus identifies with the poor in spirit, those humbled before God.

wJn (eimi) pres. part. "though [he was rich]" - being [rich]. The participle of the verb to-be is adverbial, concessive, "even though he was rich." Most commentators see the riches as Christ's "being in the form of God", ie., his riches are his pre-existent status, cf. Gal.4:5.

di (dia) + acc. "yet for [your] sake" - because of [you]. Here leaning toward advantage / benefit, as NIV; "for your sake."

iJna + subj. "so that" - that. Introducing a purpose / result clause; "in order that / with the result that."

th/ .... ptwceia/ (a) dat. "though [his] poverty" - by the poverty [of that person]. The dative is instrumental, expressing means.

plouthshte (ploutew) aor. subj. "you ..... might become rich" - [you] may become rich, wealthy. At face value, being rich involves possessing the consequences of Christ's incarnation, namely salvation. Yet, a more subtle explanation sees "being rich" as acting out our faith, in this case, contributing to the poor saints in Jerusalem. Christ identifies with our poverty that we might share his riches - love in action. So, we could paraphrase the clause, "so that through his poverty you might become rich in generosity."


iii] Paul now encourages his readers to bring to fruition their generous intent with regard the gift of funds toward the saints in Jerusalem, v10-12. His advice to the Corinthians is that they take up the stance that they adopted in the previous year, that they "finish the work" they had so well begun. He points to two aspects of their generosity: a) eager willingness, and b) effective action. Effective action has somewhat dissipated and so Paul hopes that he can still appeal to their eager willingness. He doesn't quantify the results side of the argument since self-giving must be "according to your means."

en "-" - [and] in [this i give]. Adverbial, reference / respect; "with respect to this matter outlined so far I give you my opinion."

genwmhn (h) "judgment / advice" - an opinion, advice. Accusative direct object of the verb "to give." "Opinion" is better, Paul is going softly with the Corinthian believers; "I am only giving you my opinion on this matter."

gar "-" - for [this opinion]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul has given his opinion on this matter, namely, because it is beneficial for them.

sumferei (sumferw) pres. "what is best" - is profitable, expedient, advantageous. The question is, what is expedient? Is it Paul's advice to them, or is it expedient that he gives this advice to them? Is it expedient for them to be involved in the collection for the saints?

uJmin dat. pro. "for you" - Dative of interest, advantage.

oiJtineV (oJstiV) pro. "-" -who [previously began from last year not only the doing but also the willing]. Nominative subject of the verb "to begin." Stronger than the relative pronoun "who" and so here could be translated "you were the kind of people." They were enthusiastic for the collection, not only being the first to contribute towards it, but were the first to decide for it. In v10b the Greek grammar is difficult, but it is likely that Paul is being complementary of the Corinthians early enthusiasm toward the collection so as to encourage them to take up the project again.

apo + adv. "[last year]" - from [last year]. Expressing source / origin + the adverb perusi, forming temporal construction.

proenhxasqe (proenarcomai) aor. "you were the first" - you previously began. "As far back as last year you were the first to want to do it", Barclay .

to poihsai (poiew) aor. inf. "to give" - [not only] the one doing. The articular infinitive, as with the one following, "the willing", serves as a substantive, accusative direct object of the verb "to begin." The Corinthians were the first "to do", aorist, but have not followed through; hopefully Paul can count on their inclination still "to will", present tense, for it is "the willing" that will produce the results.


nuni de kai "-" - Emphatic transitional connective; "So now, its up to you to ......"

epitelesate (epitelew) aor. imp. "finish" - finish, complete. "Complete the undertaking", "bring the undertaking to fruition."

to poihsai (poiew) aor. inf. "the work" - the making, doing. The articular infinitive serves as a substantive, object of the verb "finish". Here probably the Corinthians' "undertaking" to support the collection.

o{pwV "so that" - Introducing a purpose clause; "so that / in order that ...."

kaqaper ......ou{twV kai "-" - just as [the eagerness of the willingness] so also [the completion of the having]. A correlative comparative construction, adverbial, expressing manner; "as readiness of desire is found, so may be accomplishment, as your means will allow", Cassirer.

tou qelein (qelw) gen. pres. inf. "eager [willingness]" - [the eagerness, zeal, enthusiasm] of the willingness. The infinitive serves as a substantive, with the genitive being adjectival, attributive, "willing zeal." The proqumia, "eagerness, zeal" is best taken to mean "readiness"; they were once ready to give, as well as willing to give.

ek tou ecein "according to your means" - out of what you have. The preposition ek + gen. expressing source / origin, "out of, from", with the articular infinitive again serving as a substantive; "out of that which you have", AV. Paul is again being sensitive rather than demanding. "According to your means", NIV, = "give out of what you can spare."


"If the will to give is there, God will accept whatever gift a person's resources make it possible for them to give; he does not demand a gift which is beyond a person's resources", Barclay.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why a person is only required to give according to their means.

ei + ind. "if" - if, as is the case, [the willingness is already present, then it is acceptable]. Introducing a conditional clause 1st. class where the condition is assumed to be true.

hJ proqumia (a) "willingness" - Paul continues with his thought that what is important is the Corinthians eagerness to support the mission. Their actual financial support will reflect their capacity to give.

prokeitai (prokeimai) pres. "is there" - is already there, set before. The Corinthians eagerness for the collection is already confirmed.

euprosdektoV adj. "the gift is acceptable" - it is acceptable. The subject "this" = "gift" + the verb to-be, must be supplied. Presumably "acceptable to God."

kaqo ean + subj. "according to what [one has]" - in accordance with whatever [one may have]. The adverb kaqo = kaq (kata) o{, "according to what." The conjunction ean + subj. serves to form an indefinite clause; "in accordance with whatever one may have." So, expressing a standard; "in proportion to whatever a person may have." It is acceptable to God for a person to give according to their abundance (what they may have) not according to their poverty (what they don't have).


iv] In support of his request to the Corinthian believers, Paul now annunciates the principle of equity, v13-15. The principle behind his argument is the principal of fair-dealing. My "plenty" should supply the "needs" of my brothers and sisters in the Lord, in such a way as to allow them to use their "plenty" toward my "needs". He is certainly not advocating that his readers are to disadvantage themselves for the advantage of others. His picture of Israel's wilderness wanderings makes the point well. All work to gather in the manna; some end up with little, some with much. All then share what they have gathered and so all are filled. For the Corinthians, this illustration serves to encourage them to share their abundance with the poverty-stricken Palestinian believers. The Jewish believers had shared the gospel with the Gentiles and now it was time for the Gentiles to respond with a similar "grace".

gar "for" - More reason than cause; introducing an explanation.

iJna "[Our desire is not] that" - [not] that. Something like "our desire is" must be supplied to express the sense of the verse. Moule suggests that the hina clause probably serves as an imperative infinitive; "let there not be", but it more likely serves to form a dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul "desires / is asking", or epexegetic, explaining content, "indeed, it is not a question of relieving others at the expense of your own difficult circumstances."

alloiV dat. adj. "others" - [there is release from pressure] to others. Dative of interest, advantage; "for others." "I am not trying to make it easier for others by making it harder for you", CEV.

uJmin dat. pro. "while you [are hard pressed]" - [and distress] to you. Dative of interest, disadvantage.

all (alla) "but" - Adversative, as NIV.

ex (ek) + gen. "" - from. The preposition could serve to express means, "by equality", even cause, but is seems more likely to express manner such that with isothtoV, "the state of being equal = fair dealing", we have the sense "fairly"; "Our desire is that you share your resources fairly."

isathtoV (hV htoV) "equality" - fair dealing. The Corinthians should share with their not-so-well-off brothers in Jerusalem, given that the Jerusalem church has shared the gospel with them. From our abundance we share, and visa versa. Such is fair dealing. The principle of equality within the brotherhood relates to all needs, spiritual and physical. It is doubtful that Paul is saying that the Gentiles provide the funding, and the Jewish believers provide the gospel, rather that the flow, whether spiritual or physical, is both ways, depending on need. "Share and share alike", Barclay, "a balance is to be struck", Knox.


en + dat. "at [the present time]" - in = at [the now time the abundance of you]. Temporal use of the preposition. Paul may simply be saying "at the present moment" the Corinthian believers are economically sound and can share with the Palestinian believers in their time of financial need. It is often argued that there was a drought throughout Palestine at this time. Yet, Paul is more intent on the Gentiles fulfilling scripture by sending gifts to Israel as a sign that the kingdom is now. Given this theological perspective, the "present time" is the "now" time of the kingdom, the time of fulfillment. So, this "present time" refers to "the era when the promises of God concerning the new covenant of righteousness and the Spirit and the long-awaited 'day of salvation' have been fulfilled", Barnett, cf. Martin, contra Furnish.

eiV + acc. "will supply" - is to, toward = for. Either serving to express advantage, "for", or purpose, "for the purpose of their need".

to ... uJsterhma (a atoV) "what [they] need" - the lack, what is lacking.

ekeinwn gen. pro. "they" - of those ones. The genitive is adjectival, possessive; "their want."

iJna + subj. "so that" - that, so that. Usually taken as introducing a purpose clause, "in order that / so that", as NIV, "that their abundance in turn serves to supply your needs, (o{twV) so that there may be fair dealing." Some argue that the offering of the Gentiles to Israel at this moment in time "is in order that" Israel may give return blessings in the coming age when God's focus is again on his historic people. See Romans 9-11.

kai "in turn" - and = also [the abundance of those ones may be to = for what is lacking of you]. Adjunctive; "also". So that their surplus may go toward your lack", Berkeley.

o{pwV + subj."The goal" - in order that [there be equality]. Introducing a purpose clause; see above. "In order that there may be fair dealing."


kaqwV "as [it is written]" - as [it has been written. Comparative, often used with the perfect "it has been written" to introduce a quote from scripture, as here; Exodus 16:18.

oJ "he that gathered / the one who gathered " - the one [the much]. The article introduces an assumed substantive participle, possibly "the one gathering much", or "the one having much"

ouk epleonasen (pleonazw) aor. "did not have increase, too much" - did not have an abundance [and the one the little did not have decrease, too little]. The quotation has no Christological significance, rather it simply illustrates fair dealing under God.


2 Corinthians Introduction



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