« PreviousContinue »
Greeks, and their aversion to the doctrines of the gofpel, pro, ceeded from their extreme attachment to their own false piilofophy and rhetoric, the apostle in different paffages of this epistle, was at great pains to thew the vanity of both, together with their pernicious influence in matters of religion. His reafonings on these topics, no doubt, were particularly designed for confuting the pretensions of the Greeks; yet they are not uninteresting to us. They are still of great use in beating down those high ideas of the powers of the human mind, which some modern pretenders to philosophy are so industrious in propagating, for the purpose of persuading us, that divine revelation is unneceffary in matters of religion. They are of use likewise in fhewing the falsehood of those philofophical principles, whereby deilts have endeavoured to disprore the facts recorded in the Gospel history. Lastly, they prove that a studied artificial thetoric, is not necessary in communicating to the worid the revelations of God.
Secr. V. Of the Time and Place of writing the First Epistle to
the Corinthians. Of the place where this epistle was written, there never has been any doubt. The mention that is made, chap. xvi. 8. of the apostle's purpose of remaining in Ephesus till Pentecoft, and the falutation of the churches of Afia, ver. 19. Thew, that this letter was written, not at Philippi, as the spurious postscript indicates, but at Ephesus, during the apostle's second abode in that city, of which we have the account, Acts xix. 1.-41.
It is not so generally agreed, at what particular time of the apostle's abode in Ephesus, this letter was written. Mill, in his Prolegomena No. 9. says it was written after the riot of Demetrius, because the apostle's fighting with wild beasts at Ephesus, is mentioned in it, chap. xv. 32. which he thinks happened during that riot. But Paul did not then go into the theatre, being restrained by the disciples, and by some of the Aliarchs who were his friends, Acts xix. 30, 31. His fighting with wild beasts, therefore, at Ephesus, must have happened in some previous tumult, of which there is no mention in the history of the Acts.-That the First Epistle to the Corinthians
was written a little while before the riot of Demetrius and the craftsmen, appears to me probable from two circumstances. The first is, the apostle told the Corinthians, chap. xvi. 8, 9: That he resolved to abide in Ephesus till Pentecoft, on account of the great success with which he was then preaching the gospel. The second circumstance is, that Demetrius, in his speech to the craftsmen, mentioned the much people whom Paul had turned from the worship of idols, as a recent event; and by shewing that Paul's doctrine, concerning the gods who are made with the hands of men, effectually put an end to their occupation and wealth, he excited the craftsmen to make the riot. These two circumstances joined, lead us to conclude, that the First Epistle to the Corinthians was written a little while before the riot. For if it had been written after the riot, the apostle could not have said, I will abide at Ephefiis till Pentecoft.
On supposition that the First Epistle to the Corinthians was written a little while before the riot of Demetrius, its date may be fixed to the end of the year 56, or the beginning of the year 57, in the following manner. The apostle, as has been shewn, fect. 1. came to Corinth the first time, about the beginning of summer in the year 51. On that occasion, he abode near two years, Acts xviii. 11. 18. then set out by sea for Syria, with an intention to celebrate the ensuing feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem, ver. 21. This was the Pentecost which happened in the year $ 3. Having celebrated that feaft, he went immediately to Antioch ; and after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, ver. 22, 23. and passing through the upper coasts, he came to Ephesus, Acts xix. 1. In this journey, I suppose he spent a year and four months. These, brought into the account after the feast of Pentecost in the year 53, will make the apostle's second arrival at Ephesus, to have happened in the autumn of 54. Ať Ephesus, he abode two years and three months ; at the end of which the riot of Demetrius happened. These, added to the autumn of $4, bring us to the end of the year 56, or the beginning of the year 57, as the date of the riot, and of the apostle's First Epistle to the Corinthians. Accordingly Pearson places it in the year 57. And Mill more particularly in the beginning of that year: because it is said, chap. v. 7. For Christ our Passover is facrificed for us, 8. Therefore let us keep the feast, not suith old leaven, &c.
l'arther, the apostle, a while before the riot of Demetrius, speaking of his going to Jerusalem with the collections, said Acts xix. 21. After I have been there, I must alfo fee Rome. From this Lightfoot very well conjectures, ihat Claudius was then dead, and that the news of his death, which happened October 13. A. C. 54. had reached Ephesus; because if he had been alive, and his ediet in force, St. Paul would not have thought of going to Rome. I add, that before he took such a resolution, he must have known that Nero was well affected to the Jews, aid that the Christians were re-established at Rome. But as some months must have paffed before Nero discovered his fentiments respecting the Jews, and before the church was actually re-established in the city, the apostle could not well be informed of these things, before the spring of the year 56, that is about .8 months after Claudius's death.
Sect. VI. Of the Meffingers by whom the Firsi Epifle to the
Corinthians was sent, and of the Success of that Epiftle. At the time the apostle wrote this letter, he was in great disiress, (2 Cor. ii. 4.) being afraid that the faction would pay nó -regard to it. And therefore, inítead of sending it by the mes. sengers who had come from Corinth, he fent it by Titus, 2 Cor. vč. 7, 8. 13. 15. that his presence and exhortations might give it the more effect. And as it contained directions concerning the collections for the saints, chap. xvi. the apostle desired Titus to urge the fincere among the Corinthians, to begin that good work, 2 Cor. viii. 6. With Titus, the apostle sent another brother, (1 Cor. xii. 18.) probably an Ephesian, whose name is not mentioned, but who no doubt was a person of reputation; seeing he was appointed to affift Titus in healing the divisions which had rent the Corinthian church. And that they might have time to execute their commission, and return to the apottle at Ephesus, he resolved to remain there till the ensuing Pentecoft. It seems he did not think it prudent to go himself to Corinth, till he knew the success of his letter, and how the Corinthians stood affected towards him, after they had read and confidered it.
As this letter, of which Titus was the bearer, contained the apostle's answer to the one which the Corinthians had sent to him, we may believe the messengers by whom it was fent, namely Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, į Cor. xvi. 19; would go along with Titus and the brethren. Be this, however, as it may, Titus and his companions, on their arrival at Corinth, had all the success in executing their commiflion, which they could defire. For on delivering the apostle's letter, the Corinthians received them with fear and trembling, (2 Cor. vii. 15.) exprefed the deepest sorrow for their miscarriages, (ver. 9.-11.) and paid a ready obedience to all the apostle's orders, ver. 15, 16, But the news of this happy change in their temper, the apostle did not receive, till leaving Ephesus he came into Macedonia, where it seems he waited till Titus ar. rived, and brought him such an account of the greatest part of the church at Corinth, as gave him the highelt joy, 2 Cor. vii, 4. 7. 13:
Because Softhenes joined the apostle in this letter, Beza thinks he was the apostle's amanuensis in writing it. And for the same reason he supposes the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, to have been written by Timothy. But all this is mere conjecture, as is plain from Beza's note ou Gal. vi. 11.
View and Illuftration of the Matters contained in the First Chapter
of this Epistle. HE teacher who came to Corinth after the apostle's de
parture, with a view to leffen his authority among the Corinthians, boldly affirmed that he was no apoftle. Wherefore, to fhew the falsehood of that calumny, St. Paul, after afferting his own apostleship, and giving the Corinthians his apostolical benediction, mentioned a fact well known to them all, by which his title to the apostleship was established in the clearest man. ner. Having communicated to the Corinthians, a variety of fpiritual gifts immediately after their conversion, he thanked God for having enriched them with every spiritual gift, at the time his preaching concerning Christ was confirmed among them, ver. 4.-7. By making the spiritual gifts with which the Corinthians were enriched immediately on their believing, a subject of thanksgiving to God, the apostle in a delicate manner put them in mind, that they had received these gifts long before the false teacher came among them; consequently, that they had received none of their spiritual gists from him, but were in, debted to the apostle himself for the whole of them; also that they were much to blame for attaching themselves to a teacher, who had given them no proof at all, either of his doctrine or of his mission. See the View prefixed to 2 Cor. xii. verses 12, 13.
St. Paul, by thus appealing to the spiritual gifts which he had imparted to the Corinthians, having established his authority as an apostle, exhorted them in the name of the Lord Jesus Chrift, to live in union and peace, ver. 10.-For he had heard, that after the example of the disciples of the Greek philosophers, each of them claimed peculiar respect, on account of the fupposed eminence of the person who had taught him, and attached himself to that teacher, as if he, rather than Christ, had been the author of his faith, ver. 11, 12.-But to make them fensible that Chrilt was their only master, the apostle asked them, Whether Christ, that is, the church of Christ, was divided into different sects, under different masters, like the Grecian schools of philosophy? and whether any of their teachers was crucified for them and whether they had been baptized in the name of any of them ? ver. 13.—Then thanked God, since they made such a bad use of the reputation of the persons who baptized them, that he had baptized but a few of them, ver. 14, 15, 16. -And to fhew that they derived no advantage from the dignity