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to Corinth with letters of commendations from the Ephesian Christians; «s and when ,
Apollos was disposed to pass into Achaia, " the brethren wrote, exhorting the disci“ples to receive him.” Here the words of the epistle bear the appearance of alluding to fome specific instance, and the history supplies that instance; it supplies at least an instance as apposite as possible to the terms which the apostle uses, and to the date and direction of the epistle, in which they are found. The letter which Apollos carried from Ephesus, was precisely the letter of commendation which St. Paul meant; and it was to Achaia of which Corinth was the Capital, and indeed to Corinth itself (Acts, chap. xix. ver. 1), that Apollos carried it; and it was about two years before the writing of this epistle. If St. Paul's words be rather thought to refer to some general u fage which then obtained among
Christian churches, the case of Apollos exemplifies that usage ; and affords that species of confirmation to the epistle, which arises from seeing the manners of the age, in which it purports to be written, faithfully preserved.
Chap. xiii. ver. 1. 66 This is the third • time I am coming to you" (IPITOV TETO ερχομαι).
). Do not these words import that the writer had been at Corinth twice before? yet, if they import this, they overset every congruity we have been endeavouring to establish. The Acts of the Apostles record only two journeys of St. Paul to Corinth. We have all along supposed, what every mark of time except this expression indicates, that the epistle was written between the first and second of these journeys. If St. Paul lad been already twice at Corinth, this supposition must be given up; and every argument or observation which depends upon it, falls to the ground.
Again, the Acts of the Apostles not only record no more than two journeys of St. Paul to Corinth, but do not allow us to suppose that more than two such journeys could be made or intended by him within the period which the history comprises; for, from his first journey into Greece to his first imprisonment at Rome,
with which the history concludes, the apoAtle's time is accounted for. If therefore the epistle was written after the second journey to Corinthi, and upon the view and expectation of a third, it must have been written after his first imprisonment at Rome, i. e, after the time to which the history extends. When I first read over this epistle with the particular view of comparing it with the history, which I chose to do without consulting any commentary whatever, I own that I felt myself confounded by this text, It appeared to contradict the opinion, which I had been led by a great variety of circumstances to form, concerning the date and occasion of the epistle. At length however it occurred to my thoughts to inquire, whether the passage did necessarily imply that St. Paul had been at Corinth twice ; or whether, when he says “this is the third time I am coming to you," he might mean only that this was the third time that he was ready, that he was prepared, that he intended to set out upon his journey to Corinth. I recollected that he had once before this purposed to visit Corinth, and L
had been disappointed in his purpose; which disappointment forms the subject of much apology and protestation, in the first and second chapters of the epistle. Now, if the journey in which he had been disappointed was reckoned by him one of the times in which “ he was coming to them," then the present would be the third time, i. e. of his being ready and prepared to come; although he had been actually at Corinth only once before. This conjecture being taken up, a farther examination of the paflage and the epistle, produced proofs which placed it beyond doubt.
" This is the third time I am coming to you:” in the verse following these words he adds, “ I toid you before, " and foretel you, as if I were present the * second time; and being absent, now I write " to then which hererofore have sinned, 6 and to all other, that if I come again, I " will not spare.” In this verse, the apostle is declaring beforehand what he would do in his intended visit: His expression therefore, “as if I were present the second time,” relates to that visit. But, if his future visit would only make him present among them
a second time, it follows that he had been already there but once. Again, in the fifteenth verse of the first chapter, he tells them, “ In this confidence, I was minded to come “ unto you before, that you might have a
second benefit.” Why a second, and not a third benefit? why deutepæv, and not tpornu
, τριτον ερχομαι, in the fifteenth chapter, meant a third visit ? for, though the visit in the first chapter be that visit in which he was disappointed, yet, as it is evident from the epistle that he had never been at Corinth, from the time of the disappointment to the time of writing the epistle, it follows, that ifit was only a second visit in which he was disappointed then, it could only be a second visit which he
proposed now. But the text which I think is decisive of the question, if any question remain
upon the subject, is the fourteenth verse of the twelfth chapter:
- Behold the third time I am ready to come to you" (Ιδε, τριτον ετοιμως εχω ελθειν). It is very clear that the τριτον ετοιμως εχω ελθειν of the twelfth chapter and the τριτον τετο ερχομαι
of the thirteenth chapter, are equivalent ex