Ver. 1. Grace of God,† that hath been given in the Churches of Macedonia. It was certainly the grace of God, that moved the Macedonians to make those charitable contributions for the relief of their poor Christian brethren in Judea, which S. Paul now speaks of: and therefore with those who seem the most exact translators, (even with the most approved Prot. translation) I have, according to the letter, put the grace of God, rather than the godly charity, as others would have it, whom I had once followed, and which I think probable, taking the grace of God, for a great grace, a great charity, or a great benevolence. Wi.
[†] V. 1. Gratiam Dei. thn carin tou Qeou. The same word gratia and cariV is used, v. 4. 6. 7. where it is generally understood of their charitable contributions.
Ver. 2. Poverty hath abounded, &c. The sense seems to be, that in their great poverty, they shewed the riches of their simplicity, that is, of a sincere, willing, and charitable heart. Wi.
Ver. 4. Begging of us the grace, &c. We may translate, benevolence, or charity, meaning their charitable alms or contributions. It also may be called a grace, a favour, or a charity, which they did for the poor. He exhorts them to these charitable contributions by the example of Christ, who being the God of glory, made himself the lowest and poorest of men to enrich us with grace and glory. Wi.
--- Towards the saints. The saints whom S. Paul is here speaking of, are the faithful of Jerusalem, who had been deprived of all their property at the beginning of their conversion, by their countrymen, for their steady adherence to the Christian faith, and were now reduced to the greatest want. It is for the support of their brethren in Palestine that the charitable contributions here mentioned by S. Paul, were raised in the Churches of Macedon. Calmet.
--- In the Greek we read, entreating us to receive the alms which they offered as a contribution to the charitable fund destined for the saints, or faithful, at Jerusalem. See Rom. xv. 25. 26. and 1 Cor. xvi. 1. 3.
Ver. 5. They gave their ownselves. That is, they resigned themselves and families to the care of Providence for the necessaries of life, begging that the apostle would receive their alms, which exceeded even their means. C.
--- And by the will of God they also gave themselves to us, that we might dispose of them, and of all that belonged to them, as we should judge proper. V.
Ver. 6. We desired Titus. Having experienced the benevolence and generosity of the faithful of Macedon, S. Paul dismisses his faithful disciple, Titus, to exhort the Corinthians to imitate the example of their brethren in Macedon, laying before their eyes, in the following verses, the charity of Christ, who reduced himself to the greatest poverty and indigence, to shew us an example of humility and charity.
Ver. 10. Begun not only to do, but also to be willing. The sense seems to be, that they not only began the last year to do it, to contribute, but that they were the first that had this will, and began it of their own accord, by a motion of their own will. And therefore in the next chap. (v. 2.) he boasted of their ready mind to the Macedonians, and that their zeal or emulation had incited a great many. Wi.
Ver. 12-13. He tells them that it is the will that chiefly makes their charity acceptable to God, who sees the heart. And that the design is not to make others live at their ease, in a richer condition than those who give, but to make a kind of equality, their brethren in Judea being now in great poverty and want. Wi.
--- God regards two things in our alms: first, the zeal and good-will with which we give our alms; secondly, the greatness of our charities, that is, if they be proportionate to our means. If you have little, give a little, but with good-will; if you have much, give also much, but with equal benevolence and zeal. God measures the extent of our charity by the greatness of our zeal, not requiring of us what we have not, but what we have to spare, relieving others, without overcharging ourselves. V.
--- Yielding our superfluities, that the poor may not want necessaries. Menochius.
Ver. 14. This present time, let your abundance, &c. The sense, according to some interpreters is, that the time may perhaps come, when they in Judea may supply the wants of those in Achaia in the same kind. Others rather understand it of a communication of spiritual for temporal goods, that your alms, by the assistance of those who will pray for you, and your charities, may obtain for you the spiritual riches of grace, which every one stands chiefly in need of. Wi.
Ver. 15. He that had much, &c. The words were spoken of those who gathered the manna. Exod. xvi. 18. Every one was there ordered to gather such a particular measure, called a gomer, and they who for fear of wanting, gathered more, found they had no more than the measure they were ordered to take, and they, who as it happened, took less, still found they had their measure of a gomer. By this example, S. Paul exhorts them to contribute to the relief of their brethren, with confidence in God's providence, and without fear of wanting themselves. Wi.
Ver. 16. &c. The apostle then tells them, that he has sent Titus, and two other brethren of known probity and honesty, lest any one should suspect, that he, or they should turn these charitable contributions to their own profit and advantage by enriching themselves, that no one, saith he, might find fault with us in this abundance, which is managed by us. Wi.
Ver. 18. Brother, whose praise is in the gospel, through all the Churches.† It may either signify in writing or in preaching the gospel, so that though S. Jerom expound this of S. Luke, who wrote his gospel, (but probably not till after this time) yet S. Chrys. rather understands it of Barnaby, by the words that follow, who was ordained by the Churches companion of our travels. Others also guess it might be Silas or Silvanus. Who the third brother was, is also uncertain. Wi.
--- Commentators very in their opinions upon the person here mentioned. S. Chrys. and Theo. are of opinion, that this person is S. Luke or Barnabas; S. Jerom also thinks that it must be S. Luke the evangelist.
[†] V. 18. Cujus laus est in evangelio, ou o epainoV en tw euaggeliw. See S. Chrys. om. in. p. 645. oqen moi dokei ton barnaban ainittesJai.
Ver. 22-23. With much confidence in you, either for Titus, &c. Some expound it of the confidence which this the third brother had in the Corinthians, but it seems rather to be understood of the confidence which S. Paul himself had in them, that they would shew great respect both to Titus, and to the other brethren whom he sent. He concludes, (v. 24.) by exhorting them to these charitable contributions, which he calls the manifestation of their charity, in the sight of the Churches. Lit. in the face of the Churches, in your public meetings. Wi.
--- Most commentators understand here Apollo, but without any certainty. V.