That, though he was rich, . . . he became poor.--Better, that, being rich . . . The thought is the same as that expressed in Philippians 2:6-7, especially in the words which ought to be translated He emptied Himself. He was rich in the ineffable glory of the divine attributes, and these He renounced for a time in the mystery of the Incarnation, and took our nature in all its poverty. This is doubtless the chief thought expressed, but we can scarcely doubt that the words refer also to the outward aspect of our Lord's life. He chose the lot of the poor, almost of the beggar (the Greek word "poor" is so translated, and rightly, in Luke 16:20-22), as Francis of Assisi and others have done in seeking to follow in His steps. And this He did that men might by that spectacle of a life of self-surrender be sharers with Him in the eternal wealth of the Spirit, and find their treasure not in earth but heaven. As regards the outward mendicant aspect of our Lord's life, and that of His disciples, see Notes on Matthew 10:10; Luke 8:1-3; John 12:6.
that though he was rich; in the perfections of his divine nature, having the fulness of the Godhead in him, all that the Father has, and so equal to him; such as eternity, immutability, infinity and immensity, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, &c. in the works of his hands, which reach to everything that is made, the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all that in them are, things visible and invisible; in his universal empire and dominion over all creature; and in those large revenues of glory, which are due to him from them all; which riches of his are underived from another, incommunicable to another, and cannot be lost:
yet for your sakes he became poor; by assuming human nature, with all its weaknesses and imperfections excepting sin; he appeared in it not as a lord, but in the form of a servant; he endured in it a great deal of reproach and shame, and at last death itself; not that by becoming man he ceased to be God, or lost his divine perfections, thought these were much hid and covered from the view of man; and in his human nature he became the reverse of what he is in his divine nature, namely, finite and circumscriptible, weak and infirm, ignorant of some things, and mortal; in which nature also he was exposed to much meanness and outward poverty; he was born of poor parents, had no liberal education, was brought up to a trade, had not where to lay his head, was ministered to by others of their substance, and had nothing to bequeath his mother at his death, but commits her to the care of one of his disciples; all which fulfilled the prophecies of him, that he should be and "poor" and "low", Psalm 41:1. The persons for whom he became so, were not the angels, but elect men; who were sinners and ungodly persons, and were thereby become bankrupts and beggars: the end for which he became poor for them was,
that they through his poverty might be rich; not in temporals, but in spirituals; and by his obedience, sufferings, and death in his low estate, he has paid all their debts, wrought out a robe of righteousness, rich and adorned with jewels, with which he clothes them, and through his blood and sacrifice has made them kings and priests unto God. They are enriched by him with the graces of his Spirit; with the truths of the Gospel, comparable to gold, silver, and precious stones; with himself and all that he has; with the riches of grace here, and of glory hereafter. These are communicable from him, though unsearchable, and are solid and substantial, satisfying, lasting, and for ever. Now if this grace of Christ will not engage to liberality with cheerfulness, nothing will.