Vincent's Word Studies
For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:
For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.
Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:
Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.
Confident boasting (ὑποστάσει)
Primarily something put under, foundation, ground; so substance (sub, stans, standing under), substantial quality: thence steadiness, confidence. Compare Hebrews 3:14; Hebrews 11:1. In the Septuagint the word represents fifteen different Hebrew words.
Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.
Notice the thrice repeated before, emphasizing the injunction to have everything ready before Paul's arrival.
Make up beforehand (προκαταρτίσωσιν)
Lit., blessing. In this sense only here in the New Testament. In the Septuagint indifferently of gift or blessing. See Genesis 33:11; Judges 1:15; Ezekiel 34:26. In Proverbs 11:25, liberal soul is rendered by Sept., εὐλογούμενη blessed.
Whereof ye had notice before (προεπηγγελημένην)
Rev., better, your afore-promised bounty. The bounty promised by you, or by me on your behalf.
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
Bountifully (ἐπ' εὐλογίαις)
Lit., with blessings. Compare 1 Corinthians 9:10, "plow in hope (ἐπ' ἐλπίδι)."
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
Read προῄρηται, perfect tense, hath purposed.
Grudgingly (ἐκ λύπης)
Lit., out of sorrow.
Only here in the New Testament. See on the kindred ἱλαρότης cheerfulness, note on Romans 12:8.
God loveth, etc.
From Proverbs 22:9, where the Hebrew is, a kind man shall be blessed. Sept., God blesseth a man who is cheerful and a giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
Always - all - in everything
Nearly reproducing the play on the word all in the Greek.
Only here and 1 Timothy 6:6. The kindred adjective αὐταρκης A.V., content, occurs Philippians 4:11 (see note). The word properly means self-sufficiency, and is one of those which show Paul's acquaintance with Stoicism, and the influence of its vocabulary upon his own. It expressed the Stoic conception of the wise man as being sufficient in himself, wanting nothing and possessing everything. Here, not in the sense of sufficiency of worldly goods, but of that moral quality, bound up with self-consecration and faith, which renders the new self in Christ independent of external circumstances.
(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
He hath dispersed abroad (ἐσκόρπισεν)
Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
Rev., supplieth. See on add, 2 Peter 1:5.
Both minister bread, etc.
Construe bread with supplieth, as Rev., supplieth seed to the sow and bread for food.
Minister and multiply (χορηγήσαι καὶ πληθύναι)
The correct reading is the future, χορηγήσει καὶ πληθυνεῖ shall supply and multiply.
The fruits (τὰ γενήματα)
Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
Better singleness or simplicity of heart. See on Romans 12:8.
For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
Supplieth (ἐστὶν προσαναπληροῦσα)
Lit., fills up by adding to. Only here and 2 Corinthians 11:9. Supplementing what the saints lack. Through many thanksgivings. The need of the poor is filled, like an empty vessel, to the brim, and the supply overflows in the thanksgiving which it calls out. Thus christian beneficence does a double work, in giving relief and in generating thankfulness.
Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;
Experiment of this ministration (δοκιμῆς τῆς διακονίας ταύτης).
Commentators differ as to the interpretation; the difference hinging on the question whether the trial (experiment) applies to the service itself, or to those who render it: hence either "the proving of you by this ministration," as Rev., or the tried character of this ministration. Δοκιμή may mean, either the process of proving or the state of being approved, approvedness. The difference is immaterial.
Your professed subjection (ὑποταγῇ τῆς ὁμολογίας ὑμῶν)
A vicious hendiadys. Lit., as Rev., the obedience of your confession; that is, the obedience which results from your christian confession. Ὁμολογία is once rendered in A.V. confession, 1 Timothy 6:13; and elsewhere profession. Both renderings occur in 1 Timothy 6:12, 1 Timothy 6:13. Rev., in every case, confession. A similar variation occurs in the rendering of ὁμολογέω, though in all but five of the twenty-three instances confess is used. Rev. retains profess in Matthew 7:23; Titus 1:16, and changes to confess in 1 Timothy 6:12. In Matthew 14:7, promised (A.V. and Rev., see note), and in Hebrews 13:15, giving thanks; Rev., which make confession. Etymologically, confession is the literal rendering of ὁμολογία, which is from ὁμόν together, λέγω to say; con together, fateor to say. The fundamental idea is that of saying the same thing as another; while profess (pro forth, fateor to say) is to declare openly. Hence, to profess Christ is to declare Him publicly as our Lord: to confess Christ is to declare agreement with all that He says. When Christ confesses His followers before the world, He makes a declaration in agreement with what is in His heart concerning them. Similarly, when He declares to the wicked "I never knew you" ("then will I profess, ὁμολογήσω"), a similar agreement between His thought and His declaration is implied. The two ideas run into each other, and the Rev. is right in the few cases in which it retains profess, since confess would be ambiguous. See, for example, Titus 1:16.
Liberal distribution (ἁπλότητι τῆς κοινωνίας)
Rev., correctly, liberality of your contribution. Κοινωνία communion includes the idea of communication of material things, and hence sometimes means that which is communicated. See on Acts 2:42; so Romans 15:26; Hebrews 13:16. Compare the similar use of κοινωνέω, Romans 12:13, distributing; Philippians 4:15, communicated.
And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.