You also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many on our behalf.
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Cornelius a Lapide
That by the means of many persons. Primasius reads this, "By a company of many persons," that Isaiah , children, youths, and old men. S. Paul"s meaning Isaiah , that through many people in a great concourse of men, thanks may be publicly given to God for S. Paul"s deliverance and safe return, as the common father and Apostle of all.
For the gift bestowed upon us. That thanks may be given, says Vatablus, by many, on our behalf, for the gift of grace that was given to us. As gratitude demands that thanks be given, in proportion to the benefit bestowed, to the great Giver for our creation, redemption, justification, education, and growth, so also should thanks be given for the gift of deliverance.
That for this gift, or favour, obtained for us by many persons The words and construction are obscure, both in the Latin and Greek. It would seem a tautology if translated, that by many persons thanks may be rendered by many. Therefore the sense must be, that God must now be thanked by many persons for the benefit in preserving my life, and hearing the prayers of many persons, who before had prayed for my life. (Witham)
St. Paul in soliciting the prayers of the Corinthians, did not suppose that this was derogatory to Christ's mediation, nor to the hope he had in God. And can it be more dishonourable to God to solicit the aid of saints in heaven than of sinners on earth? Or is it to be supposed, asks St. Jerome, that the intercession of our fellow-men beneath, is more available with God, than the prayers of those, who enjoy the beatific vision above. (Cont. Vigil.)
Paul said this both to stir them up to pray for others and to accustom them to give thanks to God for whatever happened to others. People who do this for others will be much more likely to do it for themselves as well. Paul also teaches them humility and deep, fervent love. For if he, who was so high above them, admitted that he was saved by their prayers, think how modest and humble they should have been as a result.