4:12 I know both how to be {l} abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am {m} instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

(l) He uses a general word, and yet he speaks but of one type of cross, which is poverty, for poverty commonly brings all types of discomforts with it.

(m) This is a metaphor taken from holy things or sacrifices, for our life is like a sacrifice.

4:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound. He had experienced all things; want as well as plenty, hunger and food in abundance; every variety of condition.

4:12 I know how to be abased - Having scarce what is needful for my body. And to abound - Having wherewith to relieve others also. Presently after, the order of the words is inverted, to intimate his frequent transition from scarcity to plenty, and from plenty to scarcity. I am instructed - Literally, I am initiated in that mystery, unknown to all but Christians. Both to be full and to be hungry - For one day. Both to abound and to want - For a longer season.

4:10-19 It is a good work to succour and help a good minister in trouble. The nature of true Christian sympathy, is not only to feel concern for our friends in their troubles, but to do what we can to help them. The apostle was often in bonds, imprisonments, and necessities; but in all, he learned to be content, to bring his mind to his condition, and make the best of it. Pride, unbelief, vain hankering after something we have not got, and fickle disrelish of present things, make men discontented even under favourable circumstances. Let us pray for patient submission and hope when we are abased; for humility and a heavenly mind when exalted. It is a special grace to have an equal temper of mind always. And in a low state not to lose our comfort in God, nor distrust his providence, nor take any wrong course for our own supply. In a prosperous condition not to be proud, or secure, or worldly. This is a harder lesson than the other; for the temptations of fulness and prosperity are more than those of affliction and want. The apostle had no design to urge them to give more, but to encourage such kindness as will meet a glorious reward hereafter. Through Christ we have grace to do what is good, and through him we must expect the reward; and as we have all things by him, let us do all things for him, and to his glory.