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rebuked the faction for joining the heathens in their idolatrous feasts in the temples of their gods, he hath shewed us the obligation Christians are under in all their actions, not to regard their own interest and pleasure only, but to consult the good of their brethren also; and that they are at no time by their example, even in things indifferent, to lead their weak and scrupulous brethren into sin.-In like manner, when he reproved the Corinthians for eating the Lord's Supper in an improper manner, he gave such an account of that holy institution, as shews, not only its true nature and design, but the views also and the dispositions with which it ought to be performed._Finally, the arguments by which the apostle excited the Corinthians to make the collection for the saints in Judea, who, at the time these epistles were written, were in great distress, and the rules by which he wished them to direct themselves in making these collections, are of great and perpetual use for animating the disciples of Christ, to perform works of charity with liberality and cheerfulness.
To the things above mentioned, we may add, that the epistles to the Corinthians, though suited to their peculiar circumstances, may be read by the disciples of Christ in every age, with the greatest profit, because they contain matters of importance, not to be found any where else in scripture. Such as, the long account given in the first epistle of the spiritual men, and of the nature, operation and uses of their gifts, and of the way in which they exercised their gifts for the confirmation of the gospel, and the building of the church ; whereby the rapid progress of the gospel in the first and following ages, and the growth of the Christian church to its present greatness, is shewn to be, not the effect of natural causes, but the work of the Spirit of God.—The proof of the resurrection of Christ from the dead, the great foundation of the faith and hope of Christians, is no where formally set forth in scripture, but in the xvth chap. of the first epistle to the Corinthians, where many of the witnesses who saw Christ after his resurrection are appealed to by name, and the times and places of his appearing to them are particularly mentioned; and their veracity is established by the grievous sufferings, sometimes ending in death, which they sustained for witnessing the resurrection of Christ. In the same chapter, by the most logical reasoning, the resurrection of all the dead at the last day, is shewn to be necessarily connected with Christ's resurrection : so that if he hath been raised, they will be raised also. There likewise the apostle hath given a circumstantial account of the resurrection of the righteous, and hath described the nature and properties of the body with which they are to rise : from which it appears, that by the re-union of their spirits with their glorious bodies, their happiness will be rendered complete and everlasting. These great discoveries made in the first epistle to the Corinthians, impressed the minds of the disciples of Christ so strongly in the early ages, that they resolutely suffered the bitterest deaths with a rapturous joy, rather than renounce their master, and their hope of a glorious immortality. And to name no more instances; by the comparison which the apostle hath instituted, in the 3d chap. of the second epistle to the Corinthians, between the inspiration of the apostles the ministers of the gospel, and the inspiration of Moses the minister of the law, he hath shewn, that the inspiration of the apostles was far more perfect than the inspiration of Moses: so that by this discovery, the apostle hath admirably displayed the excellence of the gospel revelation, and raised its authority to the highest pitch.
Before this section is concluded, it may be proper to observe, that from the epistles to the Corinthians, and from Paul's other epistles, we learn that he was the great object of the hatred of all the false teachers in the first age, but especially of the Judaizers. Nor is it any wonder, that they were enraged against him, and persccuted him with the bitterest calumnies. For it was this apostie chiefly who opposed them, in their unrighteous attempt of wreathing the yoke of the law of Moses, about the neck of the Gentiles.-He it was likewise who resisted the introduction of the dogmas of the heathen philosophy into the church, by teachers who having nothing in view but worldly considerations, endeavoured to convert the Greeks, at the expense of corrupting the religion of Christ.-In fine, he it was who openly and severely rebuked the false teachers and their disciples, for the licentiousness of their manners.—Yet he was not the only object of these men's malice. Barnabas also had a share of their hatred, (1 Cor. ix. 6.) probably because he had been active in procuring and publishing the decree of the council of Jerusalem, whereby the Gentile converts were freed from obeying the institutions of Moscs.
Of the Place and Time of Writing the second Epistle to the Corinthians :
And of the Person by whom it was sent. Of the place where the apostle wrote his second epistle to the Corinthians, there is little doubt. In the epistle itself, ii. 12. he tells us, that from Ephesus where he was when he wrote his first epistle, he went to Troas, and then into Macedonia, to meet Titus, whose return he expected about that time : that while he abode in Macedonia, Titus arrived and brought him the good news of the submission of the Corinthians : and that on hearing these tidings, he wrote his second letter to them, to encourage them to go on with the collection for the saints in Judea, that the whole might be finished before he came to Corinth, 2 Cor. ix. 3, 4, 5. The apostle therefore was in Macedonia, in his way to Corinth, to receive their collection, when he wrote his second epistle to the church in that city.
The facts just now mentioned, which shew that the apostle's second epistle to the Corinthians was written in Macedonia, in his way from Ephesus to Corinth after the riot of Demetrius, shew likewise that it was written but a few months after the first epistle. For, whether the first was written immediately before, or immediately after the riot, there could be but a short interval between the two epistles. Namely, the time of the apostle's abode in Ephesus after writing the first letter, and at Troas after leaving Ephesus, and the weeks which he spent in Macedonia before the arrival of Titus: all which, when joined, could not make above half a year at most. Since therefore the second epistle to the Corinthians was written so soon after the first, its date may be fixed to the summer of the year 57. For, as we have shewn in the preface, sect. v. the first epistle was written in the end of the year 56, or in the beginning of the
It was observed in sec. 1. of this preface, that St. Paul's second epistle to the Corinthians was sent by Titus, who carried his former letter. This excellent person is often mentioned by the apostle, and was in such esteem with him, that he left him in Crete to regulate the affairs of the churches there. He seems to have been originally an idolatrous. Gentile whom Paul converted in his first apostolical journey, and brought with him to Antioch when he returned from that journey. For he took him up to Jerusalem when he went thither from Antioch to consult VOL. II.
the apostles and elders and brethren there, concerning the cir. cumcision of the converted Gentiles.-Not long after this Paul undertook his second apostolical journey, for the purpose of confirming the churches he had formerly planted. On that occasion, Titus accompanied him in his progress till they came to Corinth: for he assisted him in preaching the gospel to the Corinthians. So the apostle himself informs us, 2 Cor. viii. 23. If any inquire concerning Titus, he is my partner and fellow-lobourer, in the gospel toward you. Wherefore, when the apostle wrote this, having been in Corinth only once, if Titus was his partner and fellow-labourer in the gospel toward the Corinthians, it must have been at Paul's first coming to Corinth when he converted the Corinthians. These particulars shall be more fully explained in the preface to Titus. But it was necessary to mention them here, because they shew the propriety of the apostle's sending Titus, rather than any of his other assistants, with his first letter to the Corinthians, some of whom had forsaken the apostle, and had attached themselves to a false teacher. Titus being such a person, St. Paul hoped he might have had some influence with the Corinthians, to persuade them to return to their duty. Besides a number of them having been either converted or confirmed by him, he had an interest in the welfare and reputation of their church. Wherefore, when he joined the apostle in Macedonia, although he had but just come from Corinth, he not only accepted of Paul's invitation to return with him to that city, but being desirous that the Corinthians should finish their collection for the saints, he of his own accord offered to go back immediately, to persuade them to do so without delay, that their collection might be ready when the apostle came. By Titus therefore, St. Paul sent his second epistle to the Corinthians, who we may believe, on receiving it, set about, the collection in earnest, and finished it by the time the apostle arrived.
View and Illustration of the Matters contained in this Chapter.
Arter giving the Corinthians his apostolical benediction, St. Paul began this chapter with returning thanks to God, who had 'comforted him in every affliction, that he might be able to comfort others, with the consolation wherewith he himself had been comforted, ver. 3.-7. By this thanksgiving, the apostle insinuated, that one of the purposes of his writing the present letter, was to comfort the sincere part of the Corinthian church, and to relieve them from the sorrow occasioned to them, by the rebukes in his former letter.-Next, to shew the care which God took of him as a faithful apostle of his Son, he gave the Corinthians an account of a great affliction which had befallen him in Asia, that is in Ephesus and its neighbourhood, and of a great deliverance from an imminent danger of death, which God had wrought for him : namely, when he fought with wild beasts in Ephesus, as mentioned in his former epistle, chap. xv. 32. and had the sentence of death in himself, to teach him that he should not trust in himself, but in God, ver. 8, 9.
When the apostle sent Timothy and Erastus from Ephesus into Macedonia, as mentioned, Acts xix. 22. it is probable that he ordered them to go forward to Corinth, (1 Cor. xvi. 10.) provided the accounts which they received in Macedonia, gave them reason to think their presence in Corinth would be useful: and that he ordered them likewise to inform the Corinthians, that he was coming straightway from Ephesus to Corinth, to remedy the disorders which some of the family of Chloe told him had taken place among them. But after Timothy and Erastus departed, having more than ordinary success in converting the idolatrous Gentiles in the province of Asia, he put off his voyage to Corinth for some time ; being determined to remain in Ephesus and its neighbourhood till the following Pen.