« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Benson, which is acceded to by Dr. A. Clarke, viz. that Saint Paul refers to an epistle which he had written, or begun to write, but had not sent ; for, on receiving further information from Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, he suppressed that, and wrote this, in which he considers the subject more at large. The weight of evidence, however, is most decidedly in favour of the opinion, that the apostle wrote only the two epistles now extant, which bear his name.
On the undesigned coincidences between this Epistle and the Acts of the Apostles, see Dr. Paley's Horæ Paulinæ, pp. 66–97.
ON THE SECOND EPISȚLE TO THE CORINTHIANS. I. Date and where written. - II. Occasion of this Epistle. — III. Scope. - IV. Synopsis.- V: Observations on this Epistle.
VI. A supposed chronological difficulty elucidated. 1. THE preceding Epistle, we have seen, was written from Ephesus about the year 57, before Saint Paul's departure from that city. On quitting Ephesus he went to Troas, which place was situated on the shore of the Ægean sea, in expectation of meeting Titus, and receiving an account of the success with which (he hoped) his former Epistle had been attended, and of the present state of the Corinthian church. (2 Cor. ii. 12.) But not meeting him there (13.), Paul proceeded to Macedonia, where he obtained the desired interview, and received satisfactory information concerning the promising state of affairs at Corinth. (vii. 5.) From this country, and probably from Philippi (as the subscription imports), the apostle wrote the second letter (2 Cor. viii. 1-14. ix. 1-5.); which he sent by Titus and his associates, who were commissioned to hasten and finish the contribution among the Christians at Corinth, for the use of their poor brethren in Judæa. (ix. 2–4.). From these historical circumstances, it is generally agreed that this Epistle was written within a year after the former, that is, early in A. D. 58. The genuineness of this Epistle was never doubted ; and as it is cited or referred to by nearly the same antient writers, whose testimonies to the first Epistle we have given in the preceding section, it is not necessary to repeat them in this place.
II. The first Epistle to the Corinthians produced very different effects among them. Many amended their conduct, most of them showed strong marks of repentance, and evinced such respect for the apostle, that they excommunicated the incestuous person (2 Cor. ii. 5—11. vii. 11.) ; requested the apostle's return with tears (vii. 7.); and became zealous for him, – that is, they vindicated the apostle and his office against the false teacher and his adherents.
1 See this subject discussed, supra, Vol. I. pp. 125, 126.
(vii. 7-11.) Others, however, of the Corinthians, adhered to the false teacher, expressly denied his apostolical ministry, and even furpished themselves with arguments which they pretended to draw from his first Epistle. He had formerly intimated his intention of taking a journey from Ephesus to Corinth, thence to visit the Macedonian churches, and from them to return to Corinth (2 Cor. i. 15, 16.); but the unhappy state of the Corinthian church led him to alter his intention, since he found he must have treated them with severity, had he visited them. (23.) Hence his adversaries charged him, 1. With icvity and irresolution of conduct (2 Cor. i. 18.), and therefore he could not be a propbet; 2. With pride and tyrannical severity on account of his treatment of the incestuous person ; 3. With arrogance and vain-glory in his ministry, therein lessening the authority of the law; and 4. With being personally contemptible, intimating, that however weighty he might be in his letters, yet in person he was base and despicable. (2 Cor. X. 10.) Such were the principal circumstances that gave occasion to this second Epistle to the Corinthians, to which we may add their forwardness in the contribution for the poor saints in Judæa, and their kind and benevolent reception of Titus.
III. Agreeably to these circumstances the scope of this Epistle is, chicfly, 1. To account for his not having come to them as soon as he had promised, viz. not out of levity, but partly in consequence of his sufferings in Asia, which prevented him (2 Cor. i. 8—11.), and partly that he might give them more time to set their church in better order, so that he might come to them with greater comfort. (ü. 344.) 2. To declare that his sentence against the incestuous person was neither rigid nor tyrannical (ii. 5-11.), but necessary and pious ; and now, as excommunication had produced so good an effect upon that offender, the apostle, commending the obedience of the Corinthians, exhorts them to absolve him from that sentence and to restore him to communion with the church. 3. To intimate his great success in preaching the Gospel, which he does not for his own glory, but for the glory of the Gospel
, which had peculiar efficacy upon the Corinthians above others (2 Cor. iii.) and far surpassed the ministry of Moses (iv.), and was under a veil only to those who were perishing. In preaching which Gospel he used all diligence and faithfulness, notwithstanding all his afilictions for the Gospel; which afilictions, far from reflecting disgrace upon the Gospel, or its ministers, prepared for him a far greater glory in beaven (v.) 10 which he aspired, inviting others to do the same, by accepting the grace of reconciliation tendered in the Gospel. 4. To stir them up io lead a holy life, and particularly to avoid communion with idolaters. 5. To excite them to finish their contributions for their poor brethren in Judæa. (viii. ix.) 6. Lastly, to apologise for himself against the personal contemptibleness imputed to him by the false teacher and his adherents. (x.-xiii.) In the course of this apology, he reproves their vain glory, and enters upon a high commendation of his apostolic office and power, and his extraordinary revelations
which far outshone the counterfeit glory of the false teacher ; but at the same time declares that he had rather use meekness than exert his power, unless he should be forced to do it by their contuinacy and impenitence.
IV. This Epistle consists of three parts, viz. PART I. The introduction. (i. 1, 2.) Part II. The apologetic discourse of Saint Paul, in which, Sect. 1. He justifies himself from the imputations of the false
teacher and his adherents, by showing his sincerity and integrity in the discharge of his ministry; and that he acted not from worldly interest, but from true love for them, and a tender con
cern for their spiritual welfare. (i. 3—24. ii.-vii.) Şect. 2. He exhorts them to a liberal contribution for their poor
brethren in Judea. (viii. ix.) Sect. 3. He resumes his apology; justifying himself from the
charges and insinuations of the false teacher and his followers ; in order to detach the Corinthians from them, and to re-esta
blish himself and his authority. (x.-xiii. 10.) Part III. The conclusion. (xiii. 11–14.)
V. “The most remarkable circumstance in this Epistle is, the confidence of the apostle in the goodness of his cause, and in the power of God to bear him out in it. Opposed as he then was by a powerful and sagacious party, whose authority, reputation, and interest were deeply concerned, and who were ready to seize on every thing that could discredit him, it is wonderful to hear him so firmly insist upon his apostolical authority, and so unreservedly appeal to the miraculous powers which he had exercised and conferred at Çorinth. So far from shrinking from the contest, as afraid of some discovery being made, unfavourable to himself or to the common cause, he, with great modesty and meekness indeed, but with equal boldness and decision, expressly declares that his opposers and despisers were the ministers of Satan, and menaces them with miraculous judgments, when as many of their deluded hearers had been brought to repentance, and re-established in the faith, as proper means could in a reasonable time effect. It is inconceivable that a stronger internal testimony, not only of integrity, but of divine inspiration, can exist. Had there been any thing of imposture among the Christians, it was next to impossible, but such a conduct must have occasioned a disclosure of it.999
Of the effects produced by this second Epistle, we have no circumstantial accounts for Saint Luke has only briefly noticed in Acts xx. 2, 3.) Saint Paul's second journey to Corinth, after he had written this Epistle. We know, however, that he was there, and that the contributions were brought to him in that city for the poor brethren at
1. The various emotions, which evidently
. agitated the mind of Saint Paul, when writing this epistle, and also his elegance of diction, powers of persuasion, and force of argument, are all admirably discussed and illustrated by M. Royaards, in his Disputatio Inauguralis de alteră Pauli ad Corinthios Epistolâ, et observanda in illâ apostoli indole et oratione. 8vo. Trajecti ad Rhenum, 1818.
2 Scott's Pref. to 1 Cor.
Jerusalem (Rom. xv. 26.); and that, staying there several months, he sent salutations from some of the principal members of that church to the Romans. (xvi. 22, 23.) “ From this time we hear no more of the false teacher and his party; and when Clement of Rome wrote his Epistle to the Corinthians, Saint Paul was considered by them as a divine apostle, to whose authority he might appeal without fear of contradiction. The false teacher therefore must either have been silenced by Saint Paul, in virtue of his apostolical powers, and by an act of severity which he had threatened (2 Cor. xii. 2, 3.); or this adversary of the apostle must have quitted the place. Whichever was the cause, the effect produced must operate as a confirmation of our faith, and as a proof of Saint Paul's divine mission.”!
VI. A considerable chronological difficulty occurs in 2 Cor. xii. 14. and xiii. 1, 2., in which passages the apostle mentions his design of visiting Corinth a third time; whereas only one visit before the date of this Epistle is noticed in the Acts (xviii. 1.), about a. D. 51, and the next time that he visited Greece (xx. 2.), about A. D. 57, bo mention is made of his going to Corinth. And indeed, for the reasons already stated, he purposely avoided that city. It has been conjectured by Grotius, and Drs. Hammond and Paley, that his first Epistle virtually supplied the place of his presence, and that it is so represented by the apostle in a corresponding passage. (1 Cor. v. 3.) Admitting this solution to be probable, it is however far-fetched, and is not satisfactory as a matter of fact. Michaelis has produced another, more sinple and natural, viz. that Paul, on his return from Crete, risited Corinth a second time before he went to winter at Nicopolis. This second visit is unnoticed in the Acts, because the voyage itself is unnoticed. The third visit promised in 2 Cor. xii. 14. and in. 1, 2. was actually paid on the apostle's second return to Rome, when he took Corinth in his way. (2 Tim. iv. 20.) “Thus critically does the book of the Acts harmonise, even in its omissions, with the Epistles; and these with each other, in the minute incidental circumstance of the third visit.”3
On the undesigned coincidences between this Epistle and the Acts of the Apostles, see Dr. Paley's Horæ Paulinæ, pp. 98—151.
ON THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS.
1. Notice of the Christian church in Galatia. - II. Date. — III.
Genuineness and authenticity of this Epistle. — IV. Its occasion and scope. -V. Synopsis of its contents. – VI. Observations on this
Epistle. 1. CHRISTIANITY was very early planted in Galatia by Saint Paul himself, and it appears from the Acts of the Apostles that he 1 Michaelis, vol. iv. p. 74.
2 Introd. vol. iv. p. 37. 3 Dr. Hales's Chronology, vol. ii. book ü. p. 1123. 4 Compare Gal. i. 8. 11. iii. 1. et seq.
visited the churches in this country more than once. Two distinct visits are clearly marked, viz. the first about the year 50 (Acts xvi. 6.) and the second about the year 54 or 55. (xviii. 23.)
II. There is great diversity of opinion among learned men concerning the date of Saint Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. Weingart supposes it to have been written so early as the year 48; Michaelis, in 49; Cappel, in 51 ; Bishop Pearson, in 57; Mill, Fabricius, Moldenhawer, and others, in 58; Van Til and Dr. Doddridge, in 53; Hottinger, in 54; Lord Barrington, Drs. Benson and Lardner, in 53 Bea usobre, Rosenmüller, and Dr. A. Clarke, in 52 or 53 ; Bishop Tomline, in 52. Theodoret, who is followed by Dr. Lightfoot and some others, imagined that it was one of those Epistles which Saint Paul wrote from Rome during his first confinement; but this opinion is contradicted by the apostle's silence concerning his bonds, which he has often mentioned in the letters that are known to have been written at that time.
It is evident that the Epistle to the Galatians was written early, because he complains in it of their speedy apostacy from his doctrine (Gal. i. 6.), and warns them in the strongest and most forcible terms against the judaising teachers, who disturbed the peace of the churches in Syria and Asia Minor. (i. 7-9. ii. 1.) The warmth of the apostle's expressions led Tertullian to conclude that Saint Paul tvas himself a neophyte or novice in the Christian faith at the time of writing this Epistle. And as no intimation is given through the whole of it that he had been with them more than once, we are authorised to conclude that he wrote this letter from Corinth about the end of 52, or early in the year 53. The subscription indeed states it to have been written from Rome : but this is evidently spurious, for Saint Paul's first journey to Rome did not take place until at least ten years after the conversion of the Galatians.
IIJ. The genuineness of this Epistle was never doubted. It is cited by the apostolic fathers, Clement of Rome, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp; and is declared to be authentic by Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Caius, Origen,.0 and by all subsequen writers. It is worthy of remark, that this Epistle was acknowledged to be genuine by the heretic Marcion, who reckoned it the earliest written of all Saint Paul's Letters, and accordingly placed it first in his Apostolicon, or Collection of Apostolical Writings."
IV. The churches in Galatia, as in most other countries, were composed partly of converted Jews, and partly of Gentile converts, but
1 Cont. Marcion, lib. i. c. 20. 2 Lardner's Works, čvo. vol. 11, p. 37. ; 4to. vol. i. p. 208. 3 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. p. 57.; 1tu. vol. i. p.
309. 4 Ibid. Svo. vol. ii. p. 76.; 4to. vol. i. P.
319. 5 Ibid. &vo. vol. ii. p. 95. ; 4t). vol. i. p. 330. 6 Ibid. &vo. vol. ii. pp. 163, 161. ; 4to. vol. i.
Ibid. &vo. vol. ii. p. 223. ; 410. vol i. p. 401. s Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. p. 231; 410. vol. i. p. 23. 9 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. p. 374. ; 410. vol. 1. p. 42. 10 Ibid. ovo. vol. i. p. 471.; 4to. vol. i. p. 335. 11 Epiphanius. Ilzeres. 4...