Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

to visit them, recommending himself to their prayers (23–33.); and sends various salutations to the brethren at Rome. (xvi.)

VIII. In perusing this epistle it will be desirable to read, at least, the eleven first chapters, at once, uninterruptedly : as every sentence, especially in the argumentative part, bears an intimate relation to, and is dependent upon the whole discourse, and cannot be understood unless we comprehend the scope of the whole. Further, in order to enter fully into its spirit

, we must enter into the spirit of a Jew in those times, and endeavour to realize in our own minds his utter aversion from the Gentiles, his valuing and exalting himself upon bis relation to God and to Abraham, and also upon bis law, pompous worship, circumcision, &c. as if the Jews were the only people in the world who had any right to the favour of God. Attention to this circumstance will show the beauties of the apostle's style and argument, and that this Epistle is indeed “a writing which, for sublimity and truth of sentiment, for brevity and strength of expression, for regularity in its structure, but, above all, for the unspeakable importance of the discoveries which it contains, stands unrivalled by any mere human composition ; and as far exceeds the most celebrated writings of the Greeks and Romans, as the shining of the sun exceeds the twinkling of the stars.”

On the undesigned coincidences between this Epistle and the Acts of the Apostles, see Dr. Paley's Hora Paulinæ, pp. 20—65. Svo fifth edition.

SECTION IV.

ON THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS. I. State of the Corinthian church. - II. Occasion of this Epistle.-III. Its scope and analysis.- IV. Date and genuineness. – V. Ex

. Eramination of the question, how many Epistles Saint Paul wrote to

the Corinthians 1. CHRISTIANITY was first planted at Corintho by Saint Paul himself, who resided here a year and six months, between the years 51 and 53. The church consisted partly of Jews, and partly of Gentiles, but chiefly of the latter; whence the apostle bad to combat, sometimes with Jewish superstition, and sometimes with Heatheu licentiousness. On Saint Paul's departure from Corinth, he was succeeded by Apollos, “an eloquent man, and mighty in the Seriptures,” who preached the Gospel with great success. (Acts xviü. 24 --28.) Aquila and Sosthenes were also eminent teachers in this church. (xviii. 3. ; 1 Cor. i. 1.) But, shortly after Saint Paul quitted this church, its peace was disturbed by the intrusion of false teachers, who made great pretensions to eloquence, wisdom, and

1 Macknight on the Epistles, vol. i. p. 407. 4to edit. 2 For an account of the city of Corinth, before the planting of Christianity, see the Geographical Index in Volume III.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

knowledge of their Christian liberty, and thus undermined his influence, and the credit of his ministry. Hence two parties were formed, one of which contended strenuously for the observance of Jewish ceremonies, while the other, misinterpreting the true nature of Christian liberty, indulged in excesses which were contrary to the design and spirit of the Gospel. One party boasted that they were the followers of Paul; and another, that they were the followers of Apollos. The Gentile converts partook of things offered to idols, which the Jewish Christians affirmed to be unlawful. The native Corinthian converts had not so entirely eradicated that lasciviousness, to which they had been addicted in their heathen state, but that they sometimes committed the vilest crimes; and one of them had even proceeded so far as to marry his step-mother. Some of them also, supporting themselves by philosophical arguments and speculations, denied the resurrection of the dead. The richer members of the church misconducted themselves at the celebration of the Lord's supper: while others, who possessed spiritual gifts, behaved themselves insolently, on account of their acquirements.' Women also, with unveiled heads, spoke in their assemblies for divine worship. It further appears that many of the Corinthian Christians prosecuted their brethren before the Heathen tribunals, instead of bringing their complaints before Christian tribunals; and that violent controversies were agitated among them concerning celibacy and marriage.

Although these evils originated (as above noticed) chiefly with the false teachers, yet they are in part at least to be ascribed to the very corrupt state of morals at Corinth. It is well known that at the temple of Venus, erected in the centre of that city, one thousand prostitutes were maintained in honour of her. Hence it happened that some, who professed themselves Christians, regarded the illicit intercourse of the 'sexes as a trifling affair : and as the eating of things offered to idols was, in itself, an indifferent thing, they frequently went to the temples of the heathen deities to partake of the meat that had been there sacrificed, by which means they rendered themselves accessary to idolatry.?

II. The occasion on which this Epistle was written, appears from its whole tenor to have been twofold, viz.

First, the information which the apostle had received from some members of the family of Chloe, while he was at Ephesus, concerning the disorders that prevailed in the church at Corinth ; such as, 1. Schisms and divisions (1 Cor. i. 11. et seq.); 2. Many notorious scandals, as the prevalence of impurity, incest, covetousness, lawsuits of Christians before Pagan magistrates (v. vi.); 3. Idolatrous communion with the Heathens at their idol-feasts (viii. x.); 4. Want of decorum and order in their public worship (xi. 2—16. xiv.); 5. Gross profanation of the Lord's Supper (xi. 17–34.); and, 6. The denial of the resurrection and eternal life. (xv. 12. et seq.)

i The reader will find an instructive account of the state of the church at Corinth in Prof. Storr's Note Historicæ, epistolarum Pauli ad Corinthios interpretationi'inservientes, in the second volume of his Opuscula Academica, pp. 242-266. VOL. IV.

44

The second cause of Saint Paul's writing this epistle was liis receiving a letter from the church at Corinth, by the hands of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (xvi. 12. 17. vii. 1.) in which the Corinthian Christians requested his advice concerning some particular cases; as, 1. Concerning marriage (vii. 1. et seq.); 2. Things sacrificed to idols (viii.) ; 3. Spiritual gifts (xii.) ; 4. Prophesying, or teaching and instructing others (xiv.) ; and, 5. Concerning the making of charitable collections for the poor brethren in Judæa. (xvi. 1. et seq.)

Hence we learn that Saint Paul maintained a constant intercourse with the churches which he had planted, and was acquainted with all their circumstances. They seem to have applied to him for advice in those difficult cases, which their own understanding could not solve ; and he was ready, on all occasions, to correct their mistakes.

III. The scope of this Epistle, therefore, is conformable to the circumstances that caused the apostle to write it, and in like manner is twofold ; viz. 1. To apply suitable remedies to the disorders and abuses which had crept into the church at Corinth ; and, 2. To give the Corinthians satisfactory answers on all those points concerning which they had requested his advice and information. The Epistle, accordingly, divides itself into three parts. PART I. The introduction (i. 1-9.), in which Saint Paul expresses

his satisfaction at all the good he knew of them, particularly at their having received the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the con

firmation of the Gospel. Pårt II. contains the treatise or discussion of various particulars

adapted to the state of the Corinthian church'; which may be commodiously arranged into two sections. Sect. 1. contains a reproof of the corruptions and abuses which

disgraced the church. (i. 10.-vi. 1--20.) i. The apostle rebukes the sectaries among them, and defends himself against one or more Corinthian teachers, who had alienated most of the Co. rinthians from hin; and adds many weighty arguments to re-unite them in affection to himself, as having first planted the Gospel among them. (i. 10—31.

ii.-iv.) Q ii. A reproof for not excommunicating an incestuous person, who had mar

ried his own step-mother. (v.) ini. A reproof of their covetous and litigious temper, which caused them to

prosecute their Christian brethren before heathen courts of judicature. (vi. 1 ý iv. A dissuasive from fornication,--a sin to which they had been extremely

addicted before they were converted, and which some of the Corinthians appear to have considered an indifferent matter. The enormity of this sin is very strongly represented. (vi. 10-20.) Secr. 2. contains an answer to the questions which the Corinthian

church had proposed to the apostle. (vii.-xv.) ý i. Directions concerning matrimony (vii. 1–16.), the celibacy of virgins (25

-38.) and widows (39, 40.); in which Saint Paul takes occasion to show that Christianity makes no alteration in the civil conditions of men, but leaves them under the same obligations that they were before their conversion. (17 .-24.) şii. Concerning the lawfulness of eating things sacrificed to idols, showing

when they may, and when they may not, be lawfully eaten. (viii.-21. 1.) Dui. Saint Paul answers a third query concerning the manner in which women

[ocr errors]

should deliver any thing in public, when called to it by a divine impulse. He particularly censures the unusual dress of both sexes in prophesying, which exposed them to the contempt of the Greeks, among whom the men usually

went uncovered, while the women were veiled. (xi. 2-17.) ý iv. A reproof of their irregularities, when celebrating the Lord's supper,

with directions for receiving it worthily. (xi. 17—34.). ♡ v. Instructions concerning the desiring and exercising of spiritual gifts.

(xii.- xiv.) § vi. The certainty of the resurrection of the dead defended against the false

teacher or teachers. (xv.) It appears from the twelfth' verse of this chapter that the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead was denied by certain false teachers; in consequence of which Saint Paul discusses the three following questions.

I. Whether there will be a resurrection from the dead?
II. What will be the nature of the resurrection bodies?

III. What will become of those who will be found alive at the day of judg. ment?

lle proves the doctrine of the resurrection,
1. From Scripture. (1-4.)
2. From eye-witnesses of Christ's resurrection. (5—12.)
3. By showing the absurdity of the contrary doctrine : – Thus,

i. If the dead rise not, Christ is not risen. (13.)
ii. It would be absurd to have faith in him, according to the preaching of the

Gospel, if He be not risen. (14.) ii. The apostles, who attest His resurrection, must be false witnesses. (15.) iv. The faith of the Corinthians, who believe it, must be vain. (16, 17.) v. All the believers, who have died in the faith of Christ, have perished, if

Christ be not risen. (18.) vi. Believers in Christ are in a more miserable state than any others, if there

be no resurrection. (19.)
vii. Those, who were baptised in the faith, that Christ died for them, and

rose again, are deceived. (29.) viii. The apostles and Christians in general, who suffer persecution, on the

ground that, after they have suffered awhile here, they shall have a glorious

resurrection, are acting a foolish and unprofitable part. (30—35.) II. He shows what will be the nature of the resurrection-bodies, and in what manner this great work will be performed. (35-49.)

III. He shows what will become of those who will be found alive at the day of judgment. (50:-57.) This important and animating discussion is followed by

The use which we should make of this doctrine. (58.) 1 Part III. contains the conclusion, comprising directions relative to

the contributions for the saints at Jerusalem, promises that the apostle would shortly visit them, and salutations to various members of the church at Corinth. (xvi.)

IV. Although the subscription to this Epistle purports that it was written at Philippi, yet, as this directly contradicts Saint Paul's own declaration in xvi. 8., we must look to the Epistle itself for notes of time, that may enable us to ascertain its date. We have seen that

i Dr. A. Clarke on 1 Cor. xv.

2 The Jews, who lived out of Palestine, were chiefly engaged in trade, and were generally in more affluent circumstances than those who resided in Judæa, to whom tliey usually sent an annual relief. (Vitringa de Syn. Vet. lib. iii. p. i. c. 13.) Now, as the Gentile Christians became brethren to the Jews, and partook of their spiritual riches, Saint Paul thought it equitable that the Greek Christians should contribute to the support of their poorer brethren in Judæa. (Rom. xv. 26, 27.) When he was at Jerusalem, he had promised Peter and James that he would collect alms for this purpose (Gal. ii. 10.); and accordingly we find (1 Cor. xvi. 14.) that he made a collection among the Christians at Corinth. Michaelis, vol. iv. p. 61.

3 See pp. 317, 318. supra. Michaelis is of opinion that the mistake in the subscription arose from misunderstanding despxopai (xvi. 5.) to mean I am now tra

2

3

5

Saint Paul, on his departure from Corinth, went into Asia, and visited Ephesus, Jerusalem, and Antioch, after which, passing through Galatia and Phrygia, he returned to Ephesus, where he remained three years. (Acts xvii. 18-23. xix. 1. XX. 31.) At the close of his residence at Ephesus, Saint Paul wrote this Epistle, as appears from 1 Cor. xvi. 8. where he says, “I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost ;" and that it was written at the preceding Easter, is further evident from verse 7. where the apostle uses this expression, "ye are unleavened,” – that is, ye are now celebrating the feast of unleavened bread. Now, as Saint Paul's departure from Ephesus, after residing there three years, took place about the year of Christ 57, it follows that the first Epistle to the Corinthians was written about that time.

The genuineness of Saint Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians was never doubted. It was cited or alluded to repeatedly by Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and Polycarp,' in the first century. In the following century it was cited by Tatian, Irenæus, Athenagoras," and Clement of Alexandria. In the third century, this Epistle was acknowledged to be Saint Paul's by Tertullian, Caius," and Origen." The testimonies of later writers are too numerous and explicit to render any detail of them necessary.

V. An important question has been much agitated, Whether Saint Paul wrote any other Epistles to the Corinthians besides those we now have. In 1 Cor. v. 9. the following words occur Εγραψα υμιν εν τη επιςολη, which in our version is rendered-Ihare written to you in an epistle. From this text it has been inferred, that Saint Paul had already written to the Corinthians an Episte which is no longer extant, and to which he alludes ; while others contend, that by on ET150Mn he means only the Epistle which he is writing. The former opinion is advocated by Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Čappel, Witsius, Le Clerc, Heinsius, Mill, Wetstein, Beausobre, Bishop Pearce, Dr. Doddridge, Mr. Scott, Michaelis, Storr, Rosenmüller, and Schleusner : and the latter opinion, after Chrysostom, Theodoret, and other fathers, is defended by Fabricius, Glassius, Calinet, Dr. Whitby, Stosch, Jer. Jones, Drs. Edwards, Lardner, and Macknight, Purver, Archbishop Newcome, Bishop Tomline (whose words are adopted by Bishop Mant and Dr. D'Oyley), and Bishop Middleton. A third opinion is that of Dr. velling through, instead of “my route is through Macedonia,” which it evidently

Vol. iv. p. 43. 1 Michaelis, vol. iv. p. 42. Paley's Horæ Paulinæ, p. 96. Mill, Whitby, Michaelis, Benson, and almost all modern commentators and critics, agree in the above date.

2 Lardner's Works, Avo. vol. ii. p. 36.; 4to. vol. i. p. 297.
3 Ibid. &vo. vol. ii. pp. 74, 75. ; 4to. vol. i. pp. 318, 319.
4 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. pp. 91. 94. ; 4to. vol. i. pp. 327. 329.
5 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. p. 140.; 4to. vol. i. p. 355.
6 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. p. 163. ; 4to. vol. i. p. 368.
7 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. p. 185. ; 4to. vol. i.
8 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. p. 222. ; 4to. vol. i. p. 401.
9 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. p. 263. ; 4to. vol. i.
10 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. pp. 374, 375. ; 4to. vol. i. pp. 482, 483.
11 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ü. p. 471.; 4to. vol. i. p. 535.

means.

p.

380.

[ocr errors]

423.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »