Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

of Christian equality required not an absolute uniformity, but a mutual co-operation and assistance. It could no longer be said that “none among believers possessed ought of his own;" or that “none lacked.” There were rich Christians and poor Christians. The wealth of the Corinthians, the poverty of the Jews and of the Macedonians, are recognised as an established order of things. The only question that arose was the regulation of their mutual relations and duties. Such an undoubted instance of change in regard to one of the most important institutions of the early Church, is valuable as a warning against laying too much stress on adherence to the letter of any of them.

(IV.) THE ASSERTION OF HIS INTENTION TO

EXERT HIS APOSTOLICAL AUTHORITY,

X-XIII.

WITH A DIGRESSION

VINDICATING HIS AUTHORITY AND CHARACTER AGAINST

THE CHARGES OF THE FALSE TEACHERS.

(x. 6—X11. 10.)

The transition from the first to the second part of the Epistle, is so marked that it might almost be thought to be a distinct composition. The conciliatory and affectionate strain of entreaty which pervaded the first part is here exchanged for a tone of stern command, and almost menace: there is still the same expression of devotion to the Corinthian Church; but it is mixed with a language of sarcasm and irony which has parallels in the First Epistle?, but none up to this point in the Second. With this change in the general tone agrees also the change in details. Instead of the almost constant use of the first person plural to express his relations to the Corinthians, which pervaded the first part of the Epistle, he here almost invariably, and in some instances? with unusual emphasis, employs the first person singular; the digressions no longer go off to general topics, but revolve more and more closely round himself: the Corinthians are no longer commended for their penitent zeal, but rebukedo for their

1 1 Cor. iv. 8—20.; vi. 3–8. ; ix. 1-16.; xv. 34. x. 1., xii. 13.

3 vii. 7-16.

2

4 xii. 15. 20. 21.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

want both of love and penitence. The confident hopes! which he had expressed for the future are exchanged for the most gloomy forebodings.?

What is the change that has come over the spirit of his Epistle? A momentary doubt might be suggested whether it was not an intermediate fragment between the First and Second Epistle, transposed by mistake to this part of the Apostolic writings, and thus appear as the Epistle to which some have imagined a reference in ii. 4., vii. 8. But this is forbidden, as well by the general character as by the details, of this portion of the Epistle. However different from the first portion in many points, yet the resemblance between them is greater than between any other two portions of the Apostle's writings; the abruptness of the digression xi. 7-15., xii. l., are paralleled only by such as ii. 14. 16., iv. 2–6., vi. 14., vii. 2.; and the topics, although treated much more personally, are still the same. Compare iii. 1. and x. 13—18.; ii. 17. and xii. 14—19. And lastly, the allusions to the mission of Titus), and to the intention, now for the third time, of visiting them“, fix the date of these Chapters to be subsequent to those which precede them.

Another solution might be, that in this part of the Epistle he is occupied with a different portion of the Corinthian Church; that it is, as it has sometimes been called, an attack on the false teachers. But although this holds a much more prominent place than in the former part, it is evident from such passages as x. 8., xi. 1—9., xii. 11–15., xiii. 11. 12., that he is still, on the whole, addressing the same body, as in Chapters i.-ix.

Rejecting, therefore, any attempt to separate this portion of the Epistle from the rest, so as in any way to constitute it into a separate composition, there still is nothing improbable in supposing a pause, whether of time or of thought, before the beginning of the tenth Chapter. It may be, that in the interval news had come again from Corinth, indicating a relapse of fervour on the part of the Church at large, and a more decided opposition to him on the part of the Jewish section of the Church. Or it may be that, after the full outpouring of his heart, he returned, as it were, to the original impression which the arrival of Titus had removed ; as the time of his visit either actually drew nearer, or was more forcibly impressed upon his imagination, he was again haunted by the fear already expressed, though more mildly (ii. 1.), that he should have to visit them, not in love, but in anger;

1 vii. 9-16.
3 xii. 18.

2 xii. 24
4 xii. 14., xii. 1.

and that his long delay would be ascribed by them, not to tenderness, but to weakness. Such a feeling of fear, at any

, rate, is the basis of this, as that of gratitude was the basis of the first, portion of the Epistle ; it is from this that he starts-, from this the digressions fly off?, and to this his conclusion returns.3

[The argument of this portion is so personal, and so closely entangled together, that it has been found necessary to follow a somewhat different arrangement in the position assigned to the general remarks.]

1x. 1–7.

2

x. 12., xii, 10.

3 xii. 11., xiï. 13.

(1.) The Assertion of his Authority.

X. 1-6.

66

Χ. Αυτός δε εγώ Παύλος παρακαλώ υμάς διά της πραΐτητος και επιεικείας του χριστού, ός κατά πρόσωπον μεν τα

πραότητος. X. 1. Autos à éryo Ilaūlos. lemon, was, contrary to his

Αυτός δε εγώ Παύλος. This emphatic stress on his usual custom, written by his own person, is the fit introduc- own hand. tion to the portion of the Epi- διά της πραϋτητος και επιειstle which, beyond any other κείας του χριστού. For the same part of his writings, is to lay mode of exhortation compare open his individual life and Rom. xii. 1., παρακαλώ διά των character. It is as if he said, ointipôv toll Jeo0: and less

οικτιρμών του θεού: “Look at me: it is no longer precisely, Phil. ii. 1., “If in conjunction with others that there be any consolation in I address you ; it is not as at Christ, if any comfort of love, the beginning of the Epistle if any fellowship of Spirit, if

Paul and Timotheus ;' but any bowels and mercies.” Paul alone, that Paul who is The force of the expression charged with making empty bere, however, is much more boasts; he now places himself personal. One would expect before you, with all his human from the words that he was feelings of love and tender- going to entreat them, by the ness, to warn and entreat you example of Christ, to be fornot to drive him to extremi- giving and forbearing towards ties.”

him; but the context shows the The only other passages sense to be, “You know, and where a similar phrase occurs, I know, how mcek and forare in Gal. v. 2., “ Behold, I bearing was Christ; do not Paul say to you, that if ye be provoke me into even an apcircumcised, Christ shall profit parent deviation from that ex

, you nothing." Philemon, 19.: ample, by a misconduct which “ I Paul have written it with will compel me to mine own hand.” Eph. iii. Εph. iii. verity.” επιεικεία, επιεικής, are

, , 1.: “I Paul the prisoner of always used in the New TestaChrist.”

ment in contradistinction to vioIt might almost appear that lence or irascibility. 1 Tim. iii. this portion of the Epistle, like 3. (with äuaxos); Tit. iii. 2. that to the Galatians and Phi- (here with a paütns); James, iii.

use

se.

« PreviousContinue »