« הקודםהמשך »
INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS.
men, as it became women. These subjects, with their several subdivisions, are so particular, minute, and numerous, that, though they be exactly agreeable to the circumstances of the persons to whom the letter was written, nothing, I believe, but the existence and reality of those circumstances, could have suggested to the writer's thoughts.
But this is not the only, nor the principal observation upon the correspondence between the church of Corinth and their apostle, which I wish to point out. It appears, I think, in this correspondence, that although the Corinthians had written to St. Paul, requesting his answer and his directions in the several points above enumerated; yet that they had not said one syllable about the enormities and disorders which had crept in amongst them, and in the blame of which they all shared; but that St. Paul's information concerning the irregularities then prevailing at Corinth had come round to him from other quarters. The quarrels and disputes excited by their contentious adherence to their different teachers, and by their placing of them in competition with one another, were not mentioned in their letter, but communicated to St. Paul by more private intelligence : “ It hath been declared unto me, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ.” (i. 11, 12.) The incestuous marriage “ of a man with his father's wife,” which St. Paul reprehends with so much severity in the fifth chapter of this Epistle; and which was not the crime of an individual only, but a crime in which the whole church, by tolerating and conniving at it, had rendered themselves partakers, did not come to St. Paul's knowledge by the letter, but by a rumour which had reached his ears: “ It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named
among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife ; and ye are pufied up, and have not rather mourned that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.” (v. 1, 2.) Their going to law before the judicature of the country, rather than arbitrate and adjust their disputes among themselves, which St. Paul animadverts upon with his usual plainness, was not intimated to him in the letter, because he tells them his opinion of this conduct before he comes to the contents of the letter. Their litigiousness is censured by St. Paul, in the si.rth chapter of his Epistle; and it is only at the beginning of the seventh chapter that he proceeds upon the articles which he found in their letter; and he proceeds upon them with this preface : “ Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me,” (vii. 1.); which introduction he would not have used if he had been already discussing any of the subjects concerning which they had written. Their irregularities in celebrating the Lord's Supper, and the utter perversion of the institution which ensued, were not in the letter, as is evident from the terms in which St. Paul mentions the notice he had received of it: “Now in this that I declare unto you, I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse ; for first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you, and. I partly believe it.” Now that the Corinthians should, in their own letter, exhibit the fair side of their conduct to the apostle, and conceal from him the faults of their behaviour, was extremely natural, and extremely probable: but it was a distinction which would not, I think, have easily occurred to the author of a forgery; and much less likely is it, that it should have entered into his thoughts to make the distinction appear in the way in, which it does appear, viz. not by the original letter, not by any express observation upon it in the answer; but distantly by marks perceivable in the manner, or in the order, in which St. Paul takes notice of their faults.
$ This Epistle purports to have been written after St. Paul had already been at. Corinth. ; “ I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom," (ii. 1.): and in many other places to the same effect. It purports also to have been written upon the eve of another visit to that church: “ I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will,” (iv. 19.); and again, “I will come to you when I shall pass through Macedonia.” (xvi. 5.) Now the history relates that St. Paul did in fact visit Corinth twice : once as recorded at length in the eighteenth, and a second time as mentioned briefly in the twentieth chapter of the Acts. The same history also informs.us, Acts, xx, 1. that it was from Ephesus St. Paul proceeded upon his second journey
into Greeee. Therefore, as the Epistle purports to have been written a short time preceding that journey; and as St. Paul, the history tells us, had resided more than two years at Ephesus, before he set out upon it, it follows that it must have been from Ephesus, to be consistent with the history, that the Epistle was written; and every note of place in the Epistle agrees with this supposition. “If, after the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not?” (xv. 32.) I allow that the apostle might say this, wherever he was ; but it was more natural, and more to the purpose to say it, if he was at Ephesus at the time, and in the midst of those conflicts to which the expression relates. “ The churches of Asia salute you." (xvi. 10.) Asia, throughout the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles of St. Paul, does not mean the whole of Asia Minor or Anatolia, nor even the whole of the proconsular Asia, but a district in the anterior part of that country, called Lydian Asia, divided from the rest, much as Portagal is from Spain, and of which district Ephesus was the capital. “ Aquila and Priscilla salute you.” (xvi. 19.) Aquila and Priscilla were at Ephesus during the period within which this Epistle was written. (Acts, xviii. 18. 26.) “I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.” (xvi. 8.) This, I apprehend, is in terms almost asserting that he was at Ephesus at the time of writing the Epistle.“ A great and effectual door is opened unto me.” (xvi. 9.) How well this declaration corresponded with the state of things at Ephesus, and the progress of the Gospel in these parts, we learn from the reflection with which the historian concludes the account of certain transactions which passed there : “ So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed,” (Acts, xix. 20.); as well as from the complaint of Demetrius, " that not only at Ephesus, but also throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded, and turned away
much people.” (xix. 26.)—“And there are many adversaries," says the Epistle, (xvi. 9.) Look into the history of this period :
When divers were hardened and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples.” The conformity, therefore, upon this head of comparison, is circumstantial and perfect. If any one think that this is a conformity so obvious, that any forger of tolerable caution and sagacity would have taken care to preserve it; I must desire such a one to read the Epistle for himself; and, when he has done so, to declare whether he has discovered one mark of art or design; whether the notes of time and place appear to him to be inserted with any reference to each other, with any view of their being compared with each other, or for the purpose of establishing a visible agreement with the history, in respect of them.
SECTION III. § Chap. iv. 17–19. “ For this cause I have sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come unto you; but I will come unto you shortly, if the Lord will."
With this I compare Acts, xix. 21, 22.“ After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem; saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome; so he sent unto Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus.”
Though it be not said, it appears I think with sufficient certainty, I mean from the history, independently of the Epistle, that Timothy was sent upon this occasion into Achaia, of which Corinth was the capital city, as well as into Macedonia : for the sending of Timothy and Erastus is, in the passage where it is mentioned, plainly connected with St. Paul's own journey : he sent them before him. As he therefore purposed to go into Achaia himself, it is highly probable that they were to go thither also. Nevertheless, they are said only to have been sent into Macedonia, because Macedonia was in truth the country to which they went immediately from Ephesus ; being directed, as we suppose, to proceed afterwards from thence into Achaia. If this be so, the nar. ratice agrees with the Epistle ; and the agreement is attended with very little appearance of design. One thing at least concerning it is certain : that if this passage of St. Paul's history had been taken from his letter, it would have sent Timothy to Corinth by name, or expressly however into Achaia.
But there is another circumstance in these two passages much less obvious, in which an agreement holds with out any room for suspicion that it was produced by design. We have observed that the sending of Timothy
INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS.
into the peninsula of Greece, was conneeted in the narrative with St. Paul's own journey thither ; it is stated as the effect of the same resolution. Paul purposed to go into Macedonia; “ so he sent two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus.” Now, in the Epistle also you remark that, when the apostle mentions his having sent Timothy unto them, in the very next sentence he speaks of his own visit: “ for this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, &c. Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you ; but I will come to you shortly, if God will.” Timothy's journey, we see, is mentioned in the history and in the Epistle, in close connection with St. Paul's own. Here is the same order of thought and intention : yet conveyed under such diversity of circumstances and expression, and the mention of them in the Epistle so allied to the occasion which introduces it, viz. the insinuation of his adversaries that he would come to Corinth no more, that I am persuaded no attentive reader will believe, that these passages were written in concert with one another, or will doubt that the agreement is unsought and uncontrived.
But, in the Acts, Erastus accompanied Timothy in this journey, of whom no mention is made in the Epistle. From what has been said in our observations upon the Epistle to the Romans, it appears probable that Erastus was a Corinthian. If so, though he accompanied Timothy to Corinth, he was only returning home, and Timothy was the messenger charged with St. Paul's orders.-At any rate, this discrepancy shews that the passages were not taken from one another.
Section IV. ☆ Chap. xvi. 10, 11.-“ Now, if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear; for he worketli the work of the Lord, as I also do : let no man therefore despise him, but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me, for I look for him with the brethren.”
From the passage considered in the preceding section, it appears that Timothy was sent to Corinth, either with the Epistle, or before it : “ for this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus.” From the passage now quoted, we infer that Timothy was not sent with the Epistle ; for had he been the bearer of the letter, or accompanied it, would St. Paul in that letter have said, “If Timothy come?" Nor is the sequel consistent with the supposition of his carrying the letter; for if Timothy was with the apostle when he wrote the letter, could he say, as he does, “ I look for him with the brethren ?” I conclude, therefore, that Timothy had left St. Paul to proceed upon his journey before the letter was written. Farther, the passage before us seems to imply, that Timothy was not expected by St. Paul to arrive at Corinth, till after they had received the letter.
He gives them directions in the letter how to treat him when he should arrive: “ If he come," act towards him so and so. Lastly, the whole form of expression is most naturally applicable to the supposition of Timothy's coming to Corinth, not directly from St. Paul, but from some other quarter; and that his instructions had been, when he should reach Corinth, to return. Now, how stands this matter in the history? Turn to the nineteenth chapter and twenty-first verse of the Acts, and you will find that Timothy did not, when sent from Ephesus, where he left St. Paul, and where the present Epistle was written, proceed by a straight course to Corinth, but that he went round through Macedonia. This clears up every thing ; for, although Timothy was sent forth upon
his journey before the letter was written, yet he might not reach Corinth till after the letter arrived there; and he would come to Corinth, when he did come, not directly from St. Paul at Ephesus, but from some part of Macedonia. Here, therefore, is a circumstantial and critical agreement, and unquestionably without design; for neither of the two passages in the Epistle mentions Timothy's journey into Macedonia at all, though nothing but a circuit of that kind can explain and reconcile the expressions which the writer uses.
Section V. $ Chap. i. 12. « Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ.”' Also, iii. 6.
“ I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” This expression, “ I have planted, Apollos watered," imports two things; first, that Paul had been at
INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS.
Corinth before Apollos; secondly, that Apollos had been at Corinth after Paul, but before the writing of this Epistle. This implied account of the several events, and of the order in which they took place, corresponds exactly with the history. St. Paul, after his first visit into Greece, returned from Corinth into Syria, by the way of Ephesus; and, dropping his companions Aquila and Priscilla at Ephesus, he proceeded forwards to Jerusalem ; from Jerusalem he descended to Antioch; and from thence made a progress through some of the upper or northern provinces of the Lesser Asia, Acts, xviii. 19. 23. during which progress, and consequently in the interval between St. Paul's first and second visit to Corinth, and consequently also before the writing of this Epistle, which was at Ephesus two years at least after the apostle's return from his progress, we hear of Apollos, and we hear of him at Corinth. Whilst St. Paul was engaged, as hath been said, in Phrygia and Galatia, Apollos came down to Ephesus; and being, in St. Paul's absence, instructed by Aquila and Priscilla, and having obtained letters of recommendation from the church at Ephesus, he passed over to Achaia ; and when he was there, we read that he “helped them much which had believed through grace, for he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly." Acts, xviii. 27, 28. To have brought Apollos into Achaia, of which Corinth was the capital city, as well as the principal Christian church; and to have shewn that he preached the Gospel in that country, would have been sufficient for our purpose. But the history happens also to mention Corinth by name, as the place in which Apollos, after his arrival in Achaia, fixed his residence : for, proceeding with the account of St. Paul's travels, it tells us, that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper coasts, came down to Ephesus, xix. 1. What is said, therefore, of Apollos in the Epistle, coincides actly and especially in the point of chronology, with what is delivered concerning him in the history. The only question now is, whether the allusions were made with a regard to this coincidence. Now, the occasions and purposes for which the name of Apollos is introduced in the Acts and in the Epistles, are so independent and so remote, that it is impossible to discover the smallest reference from one to the other. Apollos is mentioned in the Acts, in immediate connection with the history of Aquila and Priscilla, and for the very singular circum-' stance of his “knowing only the baptism of John." In the Epistle, where none of these circumstances are taken notice of, his name first occurs, for the purpose of reproving the contentious spirit of the Corinthians; and it occurs only in conjunction with that of some others: “Every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ.” The second passage in which Apollos appears, “ I have planted, Apollos watered,” fixes, as we have observed, the order of time amongst three distinct events : but it fixes this, I will venture to pronounce, without the writer perceiving that he was doing any such thing. The sentence fixes this order in exact conformity with the history: but it is itself introduced solely for the sake of the reflection which follows:-“ Neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase."
SECTION VI. Ś Chap. iv. 11, 12. “ Even unto this present hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; and labour, working with our hands."
We are expressly told, in the history, that at Corinth St. Paul laboured with his own hands : “ He found Aquila and Priscilla ; and, because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought; for by their eccupation they were tent-makers.” But, in the text before us, he is made to say, that “he laboured eren unto this present hour,” that is, to the time of writing the Epistle at Ephesus. Now, in the narration of St. Paul's transactions at Ephesus, delivered in the nineteenth chapter of the Acts, nothing is said of his working with his own hands, but in the twentieth chapter we read, that upon his return from Greece, he sent for the elders of the church of Ephesus, to meet him at Miletus ; and in the discourse which he there addressed to them, amidst some other reflections which he calls to their remembrance, we find the following: “I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel; yea, you yourselves also know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me." The Reader will not forget to remark, that though St. Paul be now at Miletus, it is to the elders of the church of Ephesus he is speaking, when he says, “ Ye yourselves know that these hands have ministered to my necessities;" and that the whole discourse relates to his conduct during
INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS.
his last preceding residence at Ephesus. That manual labour, therefore, which he had exercised at Corinth, he continued at Ephesus; and not only so, but continued it during that particular residence at Ephesus, near the conclusion of which this Epistle was written ; so that he might with the strietest truth say, at the time of writing the Epistle, “ Even unto this present hour we labour, working with our own hands.” The correspondency is sufficient, then, as to the undesignedness of it. It is manifest to my judgment, that if the history, in this article, had been taken from the Epistle, this circumstance, if it appeared at all, would have appeared in its place, that is, in the direct account of St. Paul's transactions at Ephesus. The correspondency would not have been effected, as it is, by a kind of reflected stroke, that is, by a reference in a subsequent speech, to what in the narrative was omitted. Nor is it likely, on the other hand, that a circumstance which is not extant in the history of St. Paul at Ephesus, should have been made the subject of a factitious allusion, in an Epistle purporting to be written by him from that place; not to mention that the allusion itself, especially as to time, is too oblique and general to answer any purpose of forgery whatever.
SECTION VII. $ Chap. ix. 20. “And unto the Jews, I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law."
We have the disposition here described, exemplified in two instances which the history records ; one, Acts xvi. 3. “Him, (Timothy,) would Paul have to go forth with him, and took and circumcised him, because of the Jews in those quarters, for they knew all that his father was a Greek.” This was before the writing of the Epistle. The other, Acts xxi. 23. 26. and after the writing of the Epistle : “Do this that we say to thee; we have four men which have a vow on them : them take, and purify thyself with them, that they may shave their heads; and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.-Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself with them, entered into the temple.” Nor does this concurrence between the character and the instances look like the result of contrivance. St. Paul, in the Epistle, describes, or is made to describe, his own accommodating conduct towards Jews and towards Gentiles, towards the weak and over-scrupulous, towards men indeed of every variety of character ; “ to them that are without law as without law, being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ, that I might gain them that are without law; to the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak; I am made all things to all men, that I might gain some.” This is the sequel of the text which stands at the head of the present section. Taking therefore the whole passage together, the apostle's condescension to the Jews is mentioned only as a part of his general disposition towards all. It is not probable that this character should have been made up from the instances in the Acts, which relate solely to his dealings with the Jews. It is not probable that a sophist should take his hint from those instances, and then extend it so much beyond them: and it is still more incredible that the two instances, in the Acts, circumstantially related and interwoven with the history, should have been fabricated, in order to suit the character which St. Paul gives of himself in the Epistle.
SECTION VIII. $ Chap. i. 14–17. “ I thank God that I baptized none of you but Crispus and Gaius, lest any should say that I baptized in my own name; and I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other; for Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel.”
It may be expected, that those whom the apostle baptized with his own hands, were converts distinguished from the rest by some circumstance, either of eminence, or of connection with him. Accordingly, of the three names here mentioned, Crispus, we find, from Acts xviii. 8. was a “chief ruler of the Jewish
synagogue Corinth, who believed in the Lord, with all his house." Gaius, it appears from Romans xvi. 23. was St. Paul's host at Corinth, and the host he tells us, “ of the whole church.” The household of Stephanas, we read in the sixteenth chapter of this Epistle, “were the first fruits of Achaia.”
were the first fruits of Achaia.” Here therefore is the propriety we expected: and it is a proof of reality not to be contemned; for their names appearing in the several places in