Now he that ministers seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
All Commentaries on 2 Corinthians 9:10 Go To 2 Corinthians 9
Cornelius a Lapide
Now he that ministereth seed to the sower. This again is an answer to an objection which might be urged from the Psalm quoted. It might be said. You prove clearly enough, Paul, that alms remain in their heavenly reward, but I do not yet see how you prove from that that we ought not to impoverish ourselves. You have, therefore, given no answer to my first objection that if, I give alms liberally I shall make myself poor, and be unable for the future to give help to others. S. Paul"s answer to this Isaiah , that the contrary is implied in the verse of the Psalm he has just quoted. As a master who supplies his husbandman with seed to sow his field, provides him also with bread to eat, and multiplies his seed, that is the grain sown, at harvest times, so that for one bushel he receives three, which he can sow again, and receives still more at the next harvest, and so on from year to year—so much more shall God, who gives to almsgivers goods to disperse to the poor, give them bread and all other necessaries of life; nay, more, He shall multiply their seed or goods to sow again and disperse to the poor. For God is our Master; we are His husbandmen: His field is the poor, and alms are the seed. God, then, wishes us as His husbandmen, to scatter His seed (alms) over His field (the poor). Much more, if we do that, will He give us nourishment and a harvest of goods to sow again. Let rich men remember that their riches are given them as seed to disperse to the poor, not to store up in their coffers or to be spent on costly clothing or luxurious living. "It Isaiah ," says Cicero, "a work of liberality to sow seeds of kindness, so as to be able to reap a harvest from them."
Gregory of Tours (Hist. Gallic. lib. v. c38) highly praises the Christian Emperor Tiberius for his almsgiving, and says that he uttered the following words, worthy of an emperor: "There will be no deficiency in our treasury so long as the poor receive alms, and captives are redeemed. For if we do these things, great will be our treasure, according to the words of the Lord, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." Let us then lay up in store in heaven by the hands of the poor from what God has given us, that the Lord may vouchsafe to increase our goods on earth." No wonder that God increased his wealth. He saw one day a cross engraved on the pavement, and when, out of veneration for it, he ordered the stone to be taken up, he found under it a vast treasure, containing more than100 ,000 pieces of gold. Then, when, according to his wont, he distributed of it largely to the poor, God gave him another treasure already amassed for him by Narsetes, Duke of Italy. This was found in a cistern, in which, when they opened it, they found so much gold and silver that it took several days to carry it away. Cf. Baronius (Annals, A.D582).
Both minister. The Latin version with the Syriac gives the future, shall minister, instead of the optative. Theophylact, Erasmus, and Vatablus read the optative. The future is better, because, as I said, Paul is endeavouring to banish from their minds all fear of poverty. But this is not to be done by wishing, but by making assertions and promising bread, seed, and fruits.
Multiply your seed sown. Your temporal goods. S. Basil (Hom13de Eleemos.) says: "As seed cast into the ground brings forth fruit an hundredfold, so do alms given to the poor. If you have then but one loaf, and it be asked for at the door, take it and lift up your hands to heaven and say, "Of my little I give to my brother, and do Thou, 0 Lord, supply my want." Then doubt not that the bread given out of your poverty will abundantly minister you seed for sowing." And again, commenting on S. Luke 12:18, he says: "As wells that are continuously drawn from send forth a sweeter and more copious supply of water, while if neglected and undisturbed they soon grow foul, so are riches when stored up useless, but when transferred to the poor they bring forth fruit." Clement of Alexandria (Pdag. lib. iii. c7) uses this same simile of a well, and adds another. He says. "As milk commonly flows into those breasts that are sucked, so does wealth flow to those who spend it." S. Cyprian says the same (Tract. Deuteronomy 0pere et Eleemos.), and adds that the best inheritance that parents can leave their children is alms given, and the more children there are the more liberal should the almsgiving be. He proves this by the example of the widow of Sarepta ( 1 Kings 7) and from Tobit 4:7. Cf. Proverbs 28:27, and Psalm 37:26.