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- 2 Corinthians
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
General Editor:-J. J. S. PEROWNE, D.D.,
Bishop of Worcester
The Second Epistle to the
with notes, map and introduction
The Rev. J. J. Lias, M.A.,
rector of east bergholt
at the university press
[ All Rights reserved .]
First Edition 1879.
By the General Editor
The General Editor of The Cambridge Bible for Schools thinks it right to say that he does not hold himself responsible either for the interpretation of particular passages which the Editors of the several Books have adopted, or for any opinion on points of doctrine that they may have expressed. In the New Testament more especially questions arise of the deepest theological import, on which the ablest and most conscientious interpreters have differed and always will differ. His aim has been in all such cases to leave each Contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment, only taking care that mere controversy should as far as possible be avoided. He has contented himself chiefly with a careful revision of the notes, with pointing out omissions, with suggesting occasionally a reconsideration of some question, or a fuller treatment of difficult passages, and the like.
Beyond this he has not attempted to interfere, feeling it better that each Commentary should have its own individual character, and being convinced that freshness and variety of treatment are more than a compensation for any lack of uniformity in the Series.
Chapter I . Date, Place of Writing, Character and Genuineness of the Epistle
Note A. On the Undesigned Coincidences between the Acts of the Apostles, the First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians
Note B. On the Thorn in the Flesh
Note C. On the English Versions of the New Testament
Chapter II . Analysis of the Epistle
Part I. St Paul’s Principles of Action
Part II. The Collection for the poor Saints at Jerusalem
Part III. St Paul’s Vindication of his Apostolic authority
II. Text and Notes
III. General Index
IV. Index of Words and Phrases explained
Cambridge University Press.
Date, Place of Writing, Character and Genuineness of the Epistle
1. Date and place of writing . The Second Epistle to the Corinthians was written not long after the First. We read that St Paul had resolved to visit Macedonia and Achaia, but that he delayed the fulfilment of his purpose for a while, sending two of his disciples, Timotheus and Erastus, to announce his intention and to prepare for his arrival 1 1 Acts 19:21, 22; 1 Cor. 16:8. . Directly after the tumult at Ephesus, and possibly to a certain extent in consequence of it, he set out on his journey. He arrived at Troas, and expected there to have met Titus, who had probably been sent to Corinth in charge of the first Epistle 2 2 See Introduction to First Epistle, p. 14. . The non-arrival of Titus filled him with anxiety 3 3 Ch. 2:12, 13. . He found it impossible to take advantage of the opportunity there afforded him of preaching the Gospel with success, and hurried on to Philippi, where it seems probable the long-expected tidings at last reached him, and filled his heart with conflicting feelings of joy and disappointment. The nature of Titus’ report was such that, although much encouraged by what he heard, he felt it necessary to send at once another letter of expostulation, that all might be peace and concord at his arrival 4 4 Ch. 10:2, 12:20, 21, 13:2, 10. . This letter was probably written at Thessalonica, in the summer of the year 57. It is not probable that it was written at Philippi, as some have supposed, because St Paul speaks of the liberality of the Churches of Macedonia 1 1 Ch. 8:1. Cf. 9:2. , as though he had visited more than one of them, whereas Philippi would be the first in his way from Asia.
2. Character and contents of the Epistle . It has been universally remarked that the individuality of the Apostle is more vividly displayed in this Epistle than in any other. Human weakness, spiritual strength, the deepest tenderness of affection, wounded feeling, sternness, irony, rebuke, impassioned self-vindication, humility, a just self-respect, zeal for the welfare of the weak and suffering, as well as for the progress of the Church of Christ, and for the spiritual advancement of its members, are all displayed by turns in the course of his appeal, and are bound together by the golden cord of an absolute self-renunciation dictated by love to God and man. The Epistle may be divided into three main portions. The first, consisting of the first seven chapters, is devoted to an exposition of St Paul’s principles of action in his dealings with his converts. The second, contained in chapters 8 and 9, treats of poor saints at Jerusalem. The third, which embraces the whole of the rest of the Epistle, is an animated vindication of his Apostolic authority. There is no particular system in this outpouring of the Apostle’s heart. The variety of feelings described above display themselves in the most rapid alternation. But its one object is to place himself on such terms with the Corinthian Church before his arrival, that he might be spared the necessity of exercising discipline when he came.
The unsystematic character of the Epistle is due to the fact that the opposition to St Paul was to so large an extent personal. A large portion of the Corinthian community had been completely won over by his first Epistle 2 2 Ch. 2:14, 7:6, 7. . The question at least of the incestuous person had been settled according to his desires by the decisive action of the majority 3 3 Ch. 2:6. . But there still remained an uneasy feeling of distrust, aggravated by the taunts and insinuations of St Paul’s opponents, which it seemed necessary to dissipate. The Apostle’s disposition was represented as changeable and his conduct based upon no settled principles 1 1 Ch. 1:15 20. . He was inclined to unnecessary self-laudation 2 2 Ch. 3:1, 5:12, 10:8. . He was assuming an authority to which he had no right 3 3 Ch. 10:14. . He was a traitor to his country and a renegade from his faith 4 4 Ch. 11:22. . He was no true minister of Christ at all 5 5 Ch. 10:7, 11:23. , although he ventured to place himself on a level with those who were 6 6 Ch. 11:5, 12:11. . The violence of these accusations and the immense effect they produced, is shewn by the fact that two centuries afterwards they were repeated by the Judaizing party, which by that time had severed itself from the Church. In the Ebionitish writings which have come down to us we find similar imputations cast upon St Paul, and even when professedly assailing Simon Magus, occasional covert attacks are made upon the Apostle’s person and doctrine 7 7 The Clementine Recognitions, and still more the Clementine Homilies, purporting to be written by Clement, the first Bishop of Rome (see Phil. 4:3), repeat all these accusations and reflect very strongly, although indirectly, upon the presumption of St Paul in venturing to place himself on a level with St Peter. .
There can be no question therefore of the necessity of making some reply, and the present Epistle proved so much to the purpose that we find no trace of any subsequent serious resistance to St Paul’s claims, at least within the pale of the Christian community. The Corinthian Church, as we learn from the Epistle of Clement, written shortly after the Apostle’s death, was still given to faction, but the memory of its founder was held in affectionate and unquestioning veneration. It is therefore most important to notice the way in which St Paul stilled the clamours of his adversaries. He begins by enlisting their sympathies with him in the sufferings he had undergone on behalf of the faith at Ephesus 8 8 Ch. 1:3 14. . He proceeds to clear himself from the charge of fickleness 9 9 Ch. 1:15 22. . He next explains the object he had in view in delaying his visit, and appeals to facts to shew the deep interest he took in the Corinthian Church 10 10 Ch. 2. Then, after a full and profound exposition of the principles on which a minister of Christ was bound to act 1 1 Ch. 3 6. , he winds up this portion of his Epistle by an earnest and affectionate entreaty that they will open their hearts as freely and frankly to him as he has done to them 2 2 Ch. 7. . He next turns to the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem, which was one of the objects he had in view in writing. He exhibits great anxiety lest the Corinthians should come short in any way of the character he has given them among other Churches, and urges them to be prepared beforehand, lest they should be taken by surprise when he comes 3 3 Ch. 8, 9. . And lastly he enters into an elaborate vindication of his claims to the obedience of the Corinthian Church. Desirous as he is of appealing to a higher standard, he feels that to many of those whom he is addressing such an appeal would be thrown away. There is nothing left to him but to descend to their level, and to shew that even from their own point of view they had no right to withhold their allegiance from him. He first remarks, not without a touch of sarcasm, that he at least does not build upon another man’s foundation, nor intrude into any other man’s sphere of labour to take credit to himself for what that man has done 4 4 Ch. 10. . With many apologies for boasting ‘according to the flesh,’ he shews that whether in Hebrew extraction and patriotism, or in genuine labours for Christ’s sake, he has as much right, if not more, to describe himself as a minister of Christ, as any other teacher can possibly have 5 5 Ch. 11. . He distantly hints at the sublime visions of things unseen which God has vouchsafed to him 6 6 Ch. 12:1 12. , and then condescends to defend himself from the coarse charges of deceit and roguery 7 7 Ch. 12:13 18. . And after a final assertion of his Apostolic authority, and of the power he has received from Christ to carry it out, he concludes with a brief and touching exhortation and benediction, and thus brings to a close the most remarkable revelation of an Apostle’s mind and an Apostle’s work which is handed down to us in the New Testament.
3. Genuineness of the Epistle . The contents of this Epistle are the best guarantee of its genuineness. Not only do they fall in with what we know from other sources concerning the history of St Paul 1 1 See Note A. , but the animation of the style, the earnestness of the appeals, the variety and minuteness of the personal details with which the Epistle abounds, place it beyond the reach of a forger. But external testimonies are not wanting. Beside several quotations made from the Epistle, without naming it, by Ignatius 2 2 See Ep. to Trallians, c. 3. and the author of the Epistle to Diognetus 3 3 The Epistle to Diognetus is usually supposed to have been written by some anonymous author in the early part of the second century. It has been lately attacked in the Church Quarterly Review as a forgery of the 16th century, but the arguments in favour of the theory are not conclusive. It is, however, regarded with suspicion by many scholars. in times immediately succeeding those of the Apostles, we have the distinct authority of Irenaeus, who not only attributes it to an Apostle, and that Apostle St Paul 4 4 Adv. Haer . iv. 26, 28. , but refers in two different places 5 5 ii. 30, and v. 5. to the ‘visions and revelations’ spoken of in ch.12 as well as to the thorn in the flesh spoken of in the same chapter 6 6 v. 3. . From the time when Tertullian (about the year 208 a. d.) introduced an elaborate analysis of the Epistle into his treatise against Marcion, its genuineness has never been doubted in the Church 7 7 Tertullian also makes copious extracts from this Epistle in his Treatise on the Resurrection, and enters into a minute investigation of the case of the incestuous person as recorded in both Epistles, in his De Pudicitia , while it is continually quoted as the work of St Paul in the rest of Tertullian’s writings. .
Note A. ON THE UNDESIGNED COINCIDENCES BETWEEN THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, THE FIRST AND SECOND EPISTLES TO THE CORINTHIANS
The subject of the coincidences between the Acts of the Apostles and the two Epistles to the Corinthians, which cannot by any possibility be attributed to design, is treated of exhaustively by Paley in his Horae Paulinae , and they are among the most decisive arguments for the genuineness of all these three books of Holy Scripture, though they are too often overlooked by student and critic alike. A brief summary is here given of the more important of Paley’s arguments, for the sake of those who have not the opportunity of consulting the book itself. The rest will be found touched upon in the notes.
1. St Paul refers at the opening of this Epistle to some great trouble and danger which had befallen him, though he does not mention what it is. On consulting the Acts of the Apostles, a book by a different author, and written at a different time, we find 1 1 Ch. 19. that he is referring to the violent tumult stirred up at Ephesus by Demetrius and the craftsmen.
2. St Paul says in his first Epistle 2 2 Ch. 16:5. , that he purposes passing through Macedonia. In the Acts, we find 3 3 Ch. 20:1. that St Paul does leave Ephesus for Macedonia. In the Second Epistle 4 4 Ch. 9:1 4. , we find him in Macedonia.
3. In the Second Epistle St Paul refers to a change of purpose on his part. He had originally intended to go to Corinth first, and to return to Asia Minor by way of Macedonia 5 5 2 Cor. 1:15, 16. . But the Acts of the Apostles leads us to believe that when he sent Timothy to Greece he had intended to visit Macedonia first 6 6 Acts 19:21. . Consequently we draw the conclusion that his purpose had been already changed before the mission of Timothy. It is in remarkable, but most undesigned agreement with this conclusion, that not only is there no mention of the former plan in the First Epistle, which was sent off soon after Timothy’s departure 7 7 1 Cor. 4:17. , but we learn from 1 Corinthians 16:5 , that the change of purpose had already taken place.
4. In the fifth chapter of the First Epistle mention is made of a private wrong inflicted by one member of the community upon another. In the Second Epistle 8 8 Ch. 7:12. there is another mention of a private wrong to which St Paul had formerly referred. In the First Epistle he bids the community inflict punishment upon the offender. In the Second 9 9 Ch. 7. he bids them restore him upon repentance. None of these things lie upon the surface. They were clearly not put in to lend a plausible colour to the idea that the Epistles were by St Paul. This strengthens materially the evidence we have that St Paul himself, and none other, was their author.
5. In 1 Corinthians 16:1 , St Paul gives directions to the Corinthian Church to be prepared to supply him with contributions for the poor saints at Jerusalem. But he gives his directions in such terms as to make it clear that they had been already informed that it was to take place. Accordingly we read in the Second Epistle, written a few months after the former, that Achaia was ‘ready’ and ‘forward’ in the previous year 1 1 Ch. 8:10, 9:2. . Again, the amount, as we find from the Second Epistle, had still to be collected 2 2 Ch. 9:5. . On turning to the First Epistle, we find that this was because the Corinthians had been exhorted to lay by at home every week 3 3 Ch.16:2. , so that the sums they had at their disposal might be handed over when St Paul arrived. Such minute instances of agreement could not possibly be intentional; they therefore afford the surest proofs of the genuineness of the Epistles.
6. Paley thinks that there is another instance of this kind of coincidence in the fact that St Paul does not disclose the reason of the change of purpose mentioned above until his first Epistle had produced its effect 4 4 Ch. 7:6, 7, 11. . His object, he declares 5 5 Ch. 2:9. , was to make proof of their fidelity to him, as well as to avoid the necessity of harsh measures when he came. Nothing could be in more entire harmony with this express declaration than his entire silence in the First Epistle about the reasons of his change of plan, as well as the brief sentence in which he announces the change of plan itself 6 6 1 Cor. 16:5. .
Note B. on the thorn in the flesh
The interpretations of 2 Corinthians 12:7 are so numerous that it demands more space than an ordinary note. The ‘thorn in the flesh’ of which the Apostle speaks has been supposed to be every possible infirmity or temptation to which man is liable. We can but remark on the most probable suggestions that have been offered.
1. It is to be remarked that the word translated ‘thorn’ in the A. V. has also the meaning ‘stake.’ The latter is more common in Classical Greek, the former seems to be more usual in the Alexandrian Greek of the LXX. It is obvious that the latter word suggests the idea of a more grievous affliction than the former, speaking as it does of an actual impalement of the body by a stake thrust through it, while the former gives the idea rather of irritation and annoyance, of a visitation painful indeed, but not serious in its nature. It is obvious that our view of the nature of the affliction must depend largely upon which of these two translations we decide to adopt. The Vulgate, as well as the ancient Latin translator of Irenaeus, who is supposed to have done his work at the beginning of the third century, translates by stimulus , a prick or goad, but Tertullian renders by sudes , ‘stake.’
2. We find from the New Testament as well as the Old, that Satan was supposed to be permitted to exercise considerable power over the bodies of men. Not only was he called the ‘prince,’ or ‘ruler’ of this world 1 1 St John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 6:12. , but we find him, in the book of Job, inflicting, with God’s permission, the most grievous calamities on Job and his family 2 2 Job, Chapters 1 and 2. . We also find our Lord Himself giving His sanction to the view that all temporal evil, including pain and disease, has Satan for its author, in the case of the woman whom ‘Satan had bound 3 3 St Luke 13:16. ’. A similar idea meets us in Revelation 9:2-10 .
3. This power, however, was sometimes permitted to be exercised for the amendment of the offender, as we find from 1 Corinthians 5:5 (where see note) and 1 Timothy 1:20 . Tertullian 4 4 De Pudicitia , 13, De Fuga in Persecutione , 2. Cf. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer . v. 3. enlarges much on the remedial aspect of Satan’s visitations as evidenced by these three passages. Not that it was imagined that Satan could in any way be intentionally an instrument of good, but since all evil, physical as well as moral, was attributed to his agency, as the enemy of mankind, the physical evil was sometimes permitted to exist, that the graver moral evil might be prevented. In the present instance the object of the punishment is distinctly specified. It was lest the Apostle might be uplifted with pride, in consequence of the many signal tokens of God’s favour he had received.
4. We now proceed to consider the nature of the temptation. The first point to remark is that the words ‘in the flesh’ cannot be restricted to the idea of bodily suffering. The word ‘flesh,’ as used by St Paul, refers to man’s unregenerate nature as a whole 5 5 See for instance Rom. 7 and 8:1 13, and especially Gal. 5:19 21. Cf. also 1 Cor. 3:3, 4. , and not to the bodily organization alone. It may therefore fitly be interpreted of that “infection of nature” which, we are told 6 6 Art. ix. on Original Sin. , “doth remain, yea, even in them that are regenerated.” An infirmity of that kind is far more likely to have proved a serious trouble to the Apostle than any mere physical ailment, and it is probable that a solution of the difficulty may be looked for in that direction rather than any other. We will, however, review the interpretations which have found most favour with interpreters, and having placed the evidence before him, will leave the student to decide for himself.
a . The idea of temptations in the flesh of the nature of suggestions to impurity, which has found great favour with Roman Catholic writers, need only be noticed to be rejected. There is not the slightest hint in any of St Paul’s writings that he ever experienced such temptations. There is one passage in which he appears to assert the contrary 1 1 1 Cor. 7:7. Cf. v . 9 and ch. 9:5. . The idea finds no support in early tradition. Tertullian, for instance, in his remarks on this passage 2 2 De Pudicitia , 13. , enlarges on the contrast between the incestuous person, and the soul of the Apostle, entirely unstained by such suggestions, and only uplifted on account of his superior sanctity and innocence. The idea that the Apostle refers to struggles with such sins in the seventh chapter of the Romans can only arise from the contracted notion of the word ‘flesh,’ which has just been shewn to be incorrect. In fact this interpretation is entirely the growth of an age which, by the exaggerated regard paid in it to celibacy, brought such struggles into special prominence, and made them almost the sole test of saintliness 3 3 The passages cited by Estius from St Jerome as favourable to this view will not bear examination, and one of them, that from his letter to Eustochium, explains the passage quite differently. It was in a still later age that this view seems to have originated. .
b . We have no tradition on which we can depend for the nature of the affliction. The earliest writers, Clement, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, and others of that date, are silent concerning it. Irenaeus, to the special nature of whose information we have referred in the notes on ch. 12:2, 4, contents himself with speaking of St Paul’s infirmity as a proof that God does not despise the flesh of man, as the heretics supposed. The first writer who goes so far as to specify the nature of the complaint is Tertullian, in the passage cited above, who supposes it to be “a pain in the ear or head.” He speaks of this, however, only as a matter of common report. Nearly every possible kind of pain or disease has been suggested as well as these. It seems hardly probable, however, that the Apostle should speak of ailments so slight in terms so strong. Other writers, therefore, have suggested that the Apostle was subject to epileptic fits. And if we are to suppose that the passage refers to bodily ailments at all, we must suppose something of this sort, or at least some kind of bodily infirmity sufficiently serious to prove an actual hindrance to the Apostle in his work of evangelizing the world. Dean Stanley mentions several instances of great men, such as Alfred the Great and William III., struggling against severe physical infirmities while discharging the most onerous duties of public life, and it is by no means impossible that St Paul’s thorn in the flesh may have been of this kind. See also 1 Corinthians 2:3 , 2 Corinthians 10:10 , 2 Corinthians 11:30 , Galatians 4:13 , Galatians 4:14 , Galatians 4:6 :17.
c . There is one kind of bodily infirmity, however, which is made so much more probable than all others by certain passages in the Acts of the Apostles and in St Paul’s Epistles, that it deserves special consideration. Many have thought that a defect of sight, consequent on the dazzling light which shone upon him at his conversion, resulting in a three days blindness, was the physical defect under which he laboured, and have seen in such passages as Galatians 4:14 , Galatians 4:15 and 6:11 (the latter passage being supposed to imply that St Paul’s defective vision obliged him to write with characters unusually large) 1 1 St Paul says ‘with how large letters,’ not ‘how large a letter,’ as in A. V. a confirmation of this view. This opinion is deserving of consideration, but when it is sought to confirm it by such passages as Acts 13:9 , Acts 23:1 , it must be remembered that, the same word precisely is used of the council in Acts 6:15 , of St Stephen in Acts 7:55 , and would seem to imply an intent and piercing gaze, the very opposite of that caused by defective vision 2 2 Cf. St Luke 4:20; Acts 1:10, 3:4, 12, &c., where the same Greek word is used. . Such a gaze we might well suppose the Apostle to hare possessed, capable of riveting the attention of his hearers, in spite of a weak voice, an unstudied manner, and considerable personal disadvantages.
d . It is very characteristic of Martin Luther, with his terrible mental struggles and temptations to suicide, that he should have imagined in the mental history of a man in some respects not unlike himself, the direct suggestions of the enemy to blasphemous and unbelieving thoughts and acts. But it is hardly possible to suppose that one whose leading characteristic, both before and after his conversion, was an ardent and undoubting faith, should have been troubled with misgivings like these. Nor is there in any of St Paul’s writings, whatever cares and anxieties (as in ch. 11 of this Epistle) he describes as weighing upon him, the slightest hint at even the most transient shadow of doubt concerning Him to the ministering of Whom he had devoted his whole life.
e . Many of the Greek commentators suppose St Paul to be referring to the opponents of his Apostolic authority, supposing that there was one of these antagonists specially prominent 1 1 The ὁ ἐρχόμενος of ch. 11:4. . But this seems hardly reconcileable with the manner in which St Paul speaks of the visitation.
f . Our last alternative must be some defect of character, calculated to interfere with St Paul’s success as a minister of Jesus Christ. And the defect which falls in best with what we know of St Paul is an infirmity of temper. There seems little doubt that he gave way to an outbreak of this kind when before the Sanhedrim, though he set himself right at once by a prompt apology 2 2 Acts 23:2 5. . A similar idea is suggested by St Paul’s unwillingness to go to Corinth until the points in dispute between him and a considerable portion of the Corinthian Church were in a fair way of being settled. His conduct was precisely the reverse of that of a person who felt himself endowed with great tact, persuasiveness, and command of temper. Such a man would trust little to messages and letters, much to his own presence and personal influence. St Paul, on the contrary, feared to visit Corinth until there was a reasonable prospect of avoiding all altercation. In fact, he could not trust ‘himself there. He ‘feared that God would humble him among them 3 3 2 Cor. 12:21. .’ He desired above all things to avoid the necessity of ‘using sharpness,’ very possibly because he feared that when once compelled to assume a tone of severity, his language might exceed the bounds of Christian love. The supposition falls in with what we know of the Apostle before his conversion 4 4 Acts 7:58, 9:1. . It is confirmed by his stern language to Elymas the sorcerer 5 5 Acts 13:10. , with which we may compare the much milder language used by St Peter on a far more awful occasion 6 6 Acts 5:3, 9. . The quarrel between St Paul and St Barnabas makes the supposition infinitely more probable. The passage above cited from the Epistle to the Galatians may be interpreted of the deep personal affection which the Apostle felt he had inspired in spite of his occasional irritability of manner. The expression that he ‘desired to be present with them and to change his voice 7 7 Gal. 4:20. ,’ would seem to point in the same direction. And if we add to these considerations the fact, which the experience of God’s saints in all ages has conclusively established, of the difficulty of subduing an infirmity of temper, as well as the pain, remorse, and humiliation such an infirmity is wont to cause to those who groan under it, we may be inclined to believe that not the least probable hypothesis concerning the ‘thorn’ or ‘stake’ in the flesh is that the loving heart of the Apostle bewailed as his sorest trial the misfortune that by impatience in word he had often wounded those for whom he would willingly have given his life 1 1 When this note was written, the Bishop of Durham’s note on this subject in his “Epistle to the Galatians” had not been consulted. It confirms what has been written above, except on the last head, but adds from Pauli’s Life of Alfred a striking parallel between the expressions used of the great English king and those used by St Paul, expressions the more remarkable in that there seems no ground to suppose that the former were suggested by the latter. .
Note C. ON THE ENGLISH VERSIONS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
The six most important versions of the New Testament in English, to which frequent reference is made in these pages, are as follows:
1. Wiclif’s Translation, made by John Wiclif about 1380.
2. Tyndale’s Translation, made by William Tyndale in 1526.
3. Cranmer’s Translation, issued by Archbishop Cranmer in 1539.
4. The Geneva Bible, undertaken by the refugees during the Marian persecution, at Geneva. It appeared in the reign of Elizabeth, in 1569.
5. The Rhemish Version, made at Rheims in 1582. It is generally known as the Douay Bible, because it is usually bound up with the version of the Old Testament made at Douay in 1609 10. It was brought out by the authorities of the Roman Catholic Church to counteract the influence of the versions made by the Reformers.
6. The Authorized Version (quoted as the A.V. in this volume) made under the auspices of King James 1:0 in 1611.
Analysis of the Epistle
Part I. St Paul’s Principles of Action Ch. 1 7
Section 1. Salutation, 1:1, 2.
Section 2. The mutual interdependence of St Paul and the Corinthian Church, 1:3 14.
( α ) Suffering a dispensation of God, bringing with it (1) Divine consolation for oneself, (2) the power to comfort others
( β ) St Paul’s trouble in Asia and the mode of his deliverance from it, namely God’s mercy and the sympathy of the Church of Corinth
( γ ) St Paul had deserved this sympathy
Section 3. St Paul’s reason for putting off his visit, 1:15 24.
( α ) St Paul’s former resolution
( β ) The accusation of fickleness brought against him in consequence
( γ ) Assertion of his consistency
( δ ) Reason for his delay
Section 4. St Paul’s only object the spiritual advancement of his converts, ch. 2
( α ) His object not to pain the Corinthians, but to display his love for them
( β ) For the offender had not only pained St Paul, but the Corinthian Church itself
( γ ) It was now time to forgive him
( δ ) Beside manifesting his love, he wished also to test their obedience
( ε ) He desires to be associated with them in the work of forgiveness
( ζ ) He loved the Corinthians so deeply that he could not rest till he had heard how they received his rebukes
( η ) Outburst of praise at the thought of the good God had wrought by his hands
( θ ) Christ’s doctrine life to those who accept, death to those who reject it
( ι ) Insufficiency, yet sincerity of St Paul
Section 5. St Paul’s ministry no self-assumed task, but the communication of the Spirit, 3:1 6.
( α ) St Paul and his companions had no need to be recommended to the Corinthians
( β ) The Corinthian Church itself was their recommendation
( γ ) A power from God had fitted them for the communication, not of a command which brings death, but of a Spirit which gives life
Section 6. The Ministration of the Spirit superior to that of the Law, 3:7 18.
( α ) If the law, which ministers death, were glorious, how much more the Spirit, which gives life?
( β ) Contrast between the reticence of Moses and the free utterance of the preachers of the Gospel
( γ ) This reticence has produced its natural, though temporary, effect on the Jews
( δ ) The Spirit, which has superseded the law, is none other than the Spirit of Christ Himself, and is a Spirit of liberty and spiritual progress
Section 7. The power of this ministry demonstrated by the weakness of the ministers, 4:1 15.
( α ) St Paul’s ministry a true and genuine one
( β ) If the light of truth be any longer hidden from any, it is in consequence of no reserve on the part of those who proclaim it, but is the fault of those who reject it
( γ ) The weakness of the minister does but set off the efficacy of his doctrine
Section 8. They are sustained by the hope of a future life, 4:16 5:10.
( α ) The minister in his weakness is animated by the hope of eternal life
( β ) In which they hope to add to their present life in Christ, the possession of a body as suited, as their present one is unsuited, to the needs of that life 5:1 5.
( γ ) Yet though as yet absent from the Lord, they are never out of His sight
( δ ) But He will one day pass judgment on all their deeds
Section 9. The Christian ministry one of reconciliation, 5:11 21.
( α ) The fact of the coming judgment being admitted, St Paul strives to win men to the life of the Spirit, not for his own sake, but for theirs
( β ) The love of Christ, who died as our representative, that we might partake of His life, is the motive which animates the true ministers of the Gospel
( γ ) They take a new and higher view of humanity than men have hitherto taken
( δ ) God is henceforth reconciled to the world in Christ, and has bidden His ministers proclaim the fact, and urge mankind to accept it
Section 10. How God’s ministers carry on the work of reconciliation, 6:1 10.
( α ) The ministers of God’s purpose urge men not to let God’s offers of favour be thrown away, but to close with them at once
( β ) Their self-abnegation when engaged in the work
Section 11. Such a ministry demands a suitable response from those on whose behalf it is exercised, 6:11 7:1.
( α ) Appeal to the Corinthians to receive such a ministry in a spirit of affection
( β ) Advice to withdraw from society with the impure
( γ ) And to preserve real inward holiness
Section 12. Exhortation to set aside suspicion and to trust St Paul, 7:2 16.
( α ) St Paul’s conduct free from reproach
( β ) His language not of bitterness but of affection
( γ ) This proved by his anxiety while waiting for the tidings from Corinth, his joy when it reached him
( δ ) The First Epistle written, not to give pain, but to produce reformation
( ε ) His delight that he had gained his end
Part II. The Collection for the poor Saints at Jerusalem Ch. 8, 9
( α ) Conduct of the Macedonian Churches
( β ) Mission of Titus to Corinth, to urge on the work there
( γ ) Character of Titus and his companions
( δ ) Exhortation to liberality
( ε ) Result of deeds of love
Part III. St Paul’s Vindication of his Apostolic Authority Ch. 10 13
Section 1. St Paul’s intention of overcoming all opposition, 10:1 6.
( α ) St Paul meek and gentle in conduct
( β ) But possessed of supernatural power
Section 2. Caution not to trust in external appearance, 10:7 18.
( α ) The Corinthians would be deceived if they imagined from St Paul’s absence of self-assertion that he possessed no authority derived from Christ
( β ) He means to exert that authority when present, and not by letter only
( γ ) He keeps within his own limits, and does not challenge comparison by intruding himself within the sphere of other men’s labours
Section 3. St Paul’s defence against his accusers, 11:1 17.
( α ) Appeal to bear with him if he descend for a moment to the level of unspiritual men
( β ) On account of his anxiety for the purity of his converts’ faith
( γ ) It is no question of a new Gospel, in which case to abandon St Paul might be reasonable, but of his authority to preach the Gospel he had preached, about which there ought to be no doubt
( δ ) His desire not to cast the burden of his maintenance upon them could hardly be regarded as an offence
( ε ) For he only acted thus to prevent the Corinthians from being misled by the affected disinterestedness of dishonest men
( ζ ) St Paul does not wish to be thought willingly to abandon the high standpoint of the Gospel
Section 4. St Paul permits himself to enumerate his labours on behalf of the Gospel, 11:18 33.
( α ) St Paul will take the purely human view of things, since it is the only one recognized by some
( β ) For the Corinthians have so large a toleration for the folly of others that they may be expected to bear with his
( γ ) And he has actually been reproached with weakness for not imitating this folly, to which he will now, to a certain extent, condescend for the moment
( δ ) His equality with his opponents on the score of race and nationality
( ε ) His vast superiority to them in the true qualifications of the minister of Christ ( a ) in labours, ( b ) in care and sympathy
( ζ ) These boasts are not unbecoming, for his qualifications are not what he has done, but what he has undergone
( η ) His escape from the hands of Aretas
Section 5. St Paul’s Visions and Revelations, 12:1 6.
( α ) Lest he should be altogether despised, he will hint at higher qualifications for his task
( β ) His being caught up to the third heaven and Paradise
( γ ) Yet though he might glory in this, he prefers not to dwell on it
Section 6. The Thorn in the Flesh, 12:7 10.
( α ) It was sent him to preserve him from self-exaltation
( β ) He besought that it might be removed
( γ ) But he was told that God’s power was most manifested in the weakness of his ministers
( δ ) And this is why he boasts of his infirmities
Section 7. Continuation of the Defence, 12:11 21.
( α ) St Paul’s folly rendered necessary by that of the Corinthians
( β ) They had had every needful proof of his Apostolic authority, save his casting his maintenance upon them
( γ ) He intends to persist in refusing all support at their hands, in order to demonstrate the disinterestedness of his affection
( δ ) He meets a possible accusation of duplicity
( ε ) And another that he is admitting his want of authority by condescending to enter upon a defence
( ζ ) His object is not to establish his own authority, but to put an end to the disorders among his disciples
Section 8. The Apostle’s intention on his arrival, 13:1 10.
( α ) St Paul will thoroughly and fairly investigate the condition of the Church
( β ) He will use severity if necessary
( γ ) They seek a proof of Christ’s power in him, such as they have experienced in themselves, and they shall have it
( δ ) They can learn by their own experience that Christ’s power is manifested in its influence upon the life
( ε ) They shall know that the same power can be manifested through the ministry of St Paul
( ζ ) Though it is not their high opinion he seeks, but the purity of their lives
( η ) The only power he has in Christ is a power to promote righteousness
( θ ) He has no ambition for himself, but only desires their perfection
( ι ) His only object in writing thus was to avoid the necessity of severity
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18