God’s Indescribable Gift.* 1Now about the service to the holy ones, it is superfluous for me to write to you, 2for I know your eagerness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia* has been ready since last year; and your zeal has stirred up most of them.a 3Nonetheless, I sent the brothers* so that our boast about you might not prove empty in this case, so that you might be ready, as I said, 4for fear that if any Macedonians come with me and find you not ready we might be put to shame (to say nothing of you) in this conviction. 5So I thought it necessary to encourage the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for your promised gift, so that in this way it might be ready as a bountiful gift and not as an exaction.
6Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.b 7Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.c 8* Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work. 9As it is written:
“He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”d
10The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.e
11* You are being enriched in every way for all generosity, which through us produces thanksgiving to God, 12for the administration of this public service is not only supplying the needs of the holy ones but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God. 13Through the evidence of this service, you are glorifying God for your obedient confession of the gospel of Christ and the generosity of your contribution to them and to all others,f 14while in prayer on your behalf they long for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!g
* [9:1–15] Quite possibly this was originally an independent letter, though it deals with the same subject and continues many of the same themes. In that case, it may have been written a few weeks later than 2 Cor 8, while the delegation there mentioned was still on its way.
* [9:3] I sent the brothers: the Greek aorist tense here could be epistolary, referring to the present; in that case Paul would be sending them now, and 2 Cor 9:9 would merely conclude the letter of recommendation begun in 2 Cor 9:8. But the aorist may also refer to a sending that is past as Paul writes; then 2 Cor 9:9, with its apparently fresh beginning, is a follow-up message entrusted to another carrier.
* [9:8–10] The behavior to which he exhorts them is grounded in God’s own pattern of behavior. God is capable of overwhelming generosity, as scripture itself attests (2 Cor 9:9), so that they need not fear being short. He will provide in abundance, both supplying their natural needs and increasing their righteousness. Paul challenges them to godlike generosity and reminds them of the fundamental motive for encouragement: God himself cannot be outdone.
* [9:11–15] Paul’s vision broadens to take in all the interested parties in one dynamic picture. His language becomes liturgically colored and conveys a sense of fullness. With a final play on the words charis and eucharistia (see note on 2 Cor 8:1), he describes a circle that closes on itself: the movement of grace overflowing from God to them and handed on from them through Paul to others is completed by the prayer of praise and thanksgiving raised on their behalf to God.