on 2-corinthians 9 :15
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift - Some contend that Christ only is here intended; others, that the almsgiving is meant.
After all the difference of commentators and preachers, it is most evident that the ανεκδιηγητος δωρεα, unspeakable gift, is precisely the same with the ὑπερβαλλουση χαρις, superabounding grace or benefit, of the preceding verse. If therefore Jesus Christ, the gift of God s unbounded love to man, be the meaning of the unspeakable gift in this verse, he is also intended by the superabounding grace in the preceding. But it is most evident that it is the work of Christ in them, and not Christ himself, which is intended in the 14th verse (2 Corinthians 9:14); and consequently, that it is the same work, not the operator, which is referred to in this last verse.
A Few farther observations may be necessary on the conclusion of this chapter.
1. Jesus Christ, the gift of God's love to mankind, is an unspeakable blessing; no man can conceive, much less declare, how great this gift is; for these things the angels desire to look into. Therefore he may be well called the unspeakable gift, as he is the highest God ever gave or can give to man; though this is not the meaning of the last verse.
2. The conversion of a soul from darkness to light, from sin to holiness, from Satan to God, is not less inconceivable. It is called a new creation, and creative energy cannot be comprehended. To have the grace of God to rule the heart, subduing all things to itself and filling the soul with the Divine nature, is an unspeakable blessing; and the energy that produced it is an unspeakable gift. I conclude, therefore, that it is the work of Christ in the soul, and not Christ himself, that the apostle terms the superabounding or exceeding great grace, and the unspeakable gift; and Dr. Whitby's paraphrase may be safely admitted as giving the true sense of the passage. "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift: i.e. this admirable charity (proceeding from the work of Christ in the soul) by which God is so much glorified, the Gospel receives such credit, others are so much benefited, and you will be by God so plentifully rewarded." This is the sober sense of the passage; and no other meaning can comport with it. The passage itself is a grand proof that every good disposition in the soul of man comes from God; and it explodes the notion of natural good, i.e. good which God does not work, which is absurd; for no effect can exist without a cause; and God being the fountain of good, all that can be called good must come immediately from himself. See James 1:17.
3. Most men can see the hand of God in the dispensations of his justice, and yet these very seldom appear. How is it that they cannot equally see his hand in the dispensations of his mercy, which are great, striking, and unremitting? Our afflictions we scarcely ever forget; our mercies we scarcely ever remember! Our hearts are alive to complaint, but dead to gratitude. We have had ten thousand mercies for one judgment, and yet our complaints to our thanksgivings have been ten thousand to one! How is it that God endures this, and bears with us? Ask his own eternal clemency; and ask the Mediator before the throne. The mystery of our preservation and salvation can be there alone explained.
on 2-corinthians 9 :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 benefitted. 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 used here ἀνεκδιηγήτῳ anekdiēgētō 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 mankind. So he is uniformly represented; see John 3:16; Galatians 1:4; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 1:22; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:14. Man had no claim on God. He could not compel him to provide a plan of salvation; and the whole arrangement - 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.
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 connection with a case that actually occurred. But it follows that it is important to study the Bible attentively, 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.
on 2-corinthians 9 :15
9:15 His unspeakable gift - His outward and inward blessings, the number and excellence of which cannot he uttered.