« PreviousContinue »
(III.) TIIE COLLECTIONS FOR THE CIIURCHES
VIII. 1-IX. 15.
The subject of the first part of the Epistle is now concluded. He has expressed his satisfaction at the account of the Corinthian Church brought by Titus; and he now passes on to another topic distinct from the first, though to a certain degree connected with it.
In the close of the First Epistle 1 he had given directions that the collection for the poor Christians in Judæa, which he had apparently ordered before, and the origin and purpose of which have been sufficiently described in the notes on that passage, should proceed as rapidly as possible, in order to be ready for his arrival. On his meeting with Titus he had learned that the collection was not yet completed; whilst, at the same time, his stay in Macedonia had impressed him with the greater zeal of the Churches in the north of Greece, although under greater difficulties from their inferiority in wealth and civilisation. Under these circumstances he had charged Titus to resume the inission which he had confided to him in the First Epistle (xvi. 11.), and to hasten the completion of the work; and he proceeds himsclf to urge upon them the same duty.
That this part of the Epistle, though more clearly connected with the first part (i.—vi.) than with the third part (x.—xiii.), is independent of both, appears from various points :- 1. The plural, instead of the
singular, first person is uniformly used, instead of the
1 Cor. xvi. 1-4.
mixture of the two which pervades the Chapters (vii. and x.) immediately preceding and succeeding. 2. The use of several words in a peculiar sense is peculiar to this Section, χάρις, ευλογία, δικαιοσύνη, απλότης. 3. The allusions to the prevailing topics of the two other portions are very slight.
The exhortation is enforced, first, by holding up to them the example of the Macedonian Churches (viii. 1–15.); then by describing the nature and purpose of the mission of Titus (viii. 16—23.); lastly, by suggestions as to the spirit in which the collection should be made (ix. 6—15.).
(1.) The Example of the Macedonian Churches.
MACEDONIA, as is well known, included, at that time, under four divisions, all the Roman province of Greece north of Thermopylæ. The part, however, to which the Apostle here chiefly refers, must be that through which (Acts, xvi. xvii.) he had himself travelled, and which corresponded to the ancient kingdom of Macedonia, properly so called. By “the Churches" or "congregations” (tais éxxagorris) of Macedonia, he probably means those Christian congregations, of which one was to be found in each of the cities where he had preached; namely, Philippi", Thessalonica?, Beræa.3
Two points are noticed in these congregations : 1. Their extreme poverty (ý xatà Belous TTWxsid, viii. 2.
I Acts, xvi. 12.-40.
? Acts, xvii. 1.-9.
; Acts, xvii. 10.-15.
útèp dúvajiv, viii. 3.). This poverty was probably shared by them in common with all other parts of Greece, except the two great Roman colonies of Patræ and Corinth; of the latter especially since its revival by Julius Cæsar. * The condition of Greece in the time of Augustus' was one of great desolation and distress..... It had suffered severely by being the seat of the successive civil wars between Cæsar and Pompey, between the triumvirs and Brutus and Cassius, and lastly, between Augustus and Antonius. Besides, the country had never recovered the long series of miseries which had succeeded and accompanied its conquest by the Romans; and between those times and the civil contest between Pompey and Cæsar, it had been again exposed to all the evils of war when Sylla was disputing the possession of it with the general of Mithridates. .... It was from a view of the once famous cities of the Saronic Gulf that Servius Sulpicius derived that lesson of patience with which he attempted to console Cicero for the loss of his daughter Tullia.? Ætolia and Acarnania: were barren wastes, and the soil was devoted to pasture for the rearing of horses. Thebes was hardly better than a village. 4 . . Epirus was depopulated and occupied by Roman soldiers. Macedonia had lost the benefit of its mines, which the Roman government had appropriated to itself, and was suffering from the weight of its taxation. .. The provinces of Macedonia and Achaia?, when they petitioned for a dimunition of their burdens in the reign of Tiberius, were considered so deserving of compassion that they were transferred for a time from the juris
1 Arnold's Roman Commonwealth, vol. ii. pp. 392—383. 2 Cic. ad Fam. iv. 5. 3 Strabo, viii. 8. $ 1. 4 Strabo, ix. 2. $ 5.
5 Strabo, vii. 7. $ 3. Strabo, x. 5. § 3. 7 Tac. Ann. i. 76. VOL. II.
diction of the senate to that of the Emperor [as involving less heavy taxation"].
2nd. Their extreme generosity. This agrees with what we hear of them elsewhere. In the Church of Thessalonical the Apostle's converts are warned against indiscriminate bounty, evidently from a fear lest they should fall into it. In the Church of Philippi, we hear of the contributions which they sent to support the Apostle both on his travels through Macedonia?, and afterwards by the hands of Epaphroditus, in his imprisonment at Rome. And in this Epistle 4 he speaks of the support which was brought to him from Macedonia during his residence at Corinth; a circumstance which would impress on his Corinthian converts, in a livelier form, his present argument. It was probably the same feeling which caused some Macedonian Christians to give, not merely their money, but " themselves” to his service as constant companions. Such were Sopater, Secundus, and Aristarchus, of whom the last-named accompanied him to Rome.? Such, in all probability, was the author of the Acts, who must have joined him from Philippi $, and also accompanied him to Rome.' Such was Epaphroditus, who “regarded not his life" in the Apostle's service.10 What renders the mention of these Macedonian converts more striking is their number, compared with the few who came from the Churches of Southern Greece, none of whom, except Sosthenes", appears as a permanent companion.
4 xi. 9.
1 2 Thess. ii. 10. 11.
2 Phil. iv. 15.
Acts, xx. 4.
8 Acts, xvi. 10—40. • Acts, xxvii. 2., xxviii. 16. Compare Col. iv. 14. ; 2 Tim. iv. 11, * Phil, ü. 31,
Il i Cor. i. l.
V 1ΙΙ. 1–15.
VIII. Γνωρίζομεν δε υμίν, αδελφοί, την χάριν του θεού την δεδομένην εν ταϊς εκκλησίαις της Μακεδονίας, 2 ότι εν πολλή δοκιμή θλίψεως ή περισσεία της χαράς αυτών και η κατά
VIII. 1. Γνωρίζομεν. See on περισσεία and η πτωχεία the 1 Cor. XV. 1.
nominative case to έπερίσσευσε, dè may possibly be meant to according to the regular order; make a contrast with the last or, (2.) to suppose an anacoclause of vii. 16., but more luthon, in which he first exprobably (see the general in- presses that their affliction was troduction to this Section) is contrasted with their joy, and meant merely as the opening then that their poverty was of a new subject, as in 1 Cor. contrasted with their wealth ; vii. 1., viii. 1., XV. 1.
so that the sentence should την χάριν. This word is have been either ότι η πολλή used in these chapters (viii. 1. δοκίμη θλίψεως επερίσσευσεν 4. 6. 7. 19., ix. 14.) as in 1 Cor. εις την χαράν αυτών, και κ. τ. λ.,
λ xvi. 3., in the peculiar sense of or εν πολλή δοκ. θλίψ. η περίσσ. a “gift” or “contribution.” a
« . τ. χαράς αυτών εγένετο και εν In almost every other part of τη κατά βαθ. πτωχεία ή περισthe New Testament it is used σεία του πλούτου, κ. τ. λ. This for « favour,” “ goodness,” ge- secondinterpretation seems prenerally speaking of God; and ferable; the construction is not the manner in which it is here more abrupt than many others introduced, “ the favour of in these two chapters, and it God” (την χάριν του θεού), suits the context. shows that here also the two δοκιμή, “ trial,” as in Rom. V.
“,. v. ideas are blended together.
4.: η υπομονή δοκιμήν κατερCompare the use of ευλογία γάζεται. in ix. 6.
θλίψις. The word most naτην δεδομένην, which has turally indicates persecution; been given.
and if so, might reser to some εν ταϊς εκκλησίαις. See
such persecutions as those
which had taken place in those 2. The sense of what follows Churches five years before.
. is clear. “Their poverty made Acts, xvi. 20., xvii. 5. 1 Thess.
. their liberality more striking." i. 6., ii. 14. But as the word of The construction and the words itself significs only “pressure,” are difficult. The construction perhaps it may here be taken may be either: (1.) to make ή in the sense most conformable