« AnteriorContinua »
Bible.N.T. Corinthians. English?
THE FIRST AND SECOND EPISTLES
WITH NOTES CRITICAL AND PRACTICAL.
BY THE REV. vicheke!
BECTOR OF HONITON; PREBENDARY OF WELLS; AUTHOR OF CHURCH DOCTRINE BIBLE
ON ST. MATTHEW, ST. MARK, ST. LUKE, ST. JOHN,
THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS," ETC.
GEORGE BELL AND SONS.
INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST EPISTLE
TO THE CORINTHIANS.
I. TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING.
Pentecost,” that this Epistle was written from Ephesus, and shortly before Pentecost. Many have supposed, and with some reason, that on account of the allusion to the old leaven in v. 7, it was written at the time of the Passover, when the searching for leaven in Jewish houses would be fresh in his mind. Such an abrupt allusion to a purely Jewish custom seems to require some such explanation. Most expositors agree that it was written in 57, but Alford places it in 56, and Usher in the margin of our Bibles
II. OCCASION OF WRITING.
Two reasons seem to have united in causing St. Paul to write it. (1) Accounts had been brought to him of serious declensions in the Corinthian Church. They were distracted by parties, some calling themselves by the name of Paul, others of Apollos, others of Peter or Cephas, others of Christ. Some refused to acknowledge his Apostleship; some who desired mere human eloquence and a commanding presence, spoke disparagingly of their father in Christ; a fearful crime of such a character that it was not even named by the profligate Gentiles in whose midst they lived, was committed by one of their number, and apparently no notice had been taken of it, and the offender was suffered to continue in Church fellowship. And so far from entertaining proper brotherly feelings to one another as members of the same body, they dragged each other before the heathen tribunals.
(2) At the same time that he heard these reports, a letter was brought to him containing certain questions, respecting the solution of which they desired to have his opinion; such as whether a state of marriage or celibacy was preferable 2-what restrictions were to be put on the partaking of things offered to idols 2—for what reason did he refuse receive that maint nce from them which other Apostles claimed as their right? Then he had heard that they observed with some degree of faithfulness the traditions (probably respecting the conduct of their religious assemblies) which he had delivered to them, except, apparently, on two points, concerning their neglect of which he has to blame them severely, one, the veiling of women in their Church assemblies, the other, their disorderly conduct at the Agape, which apparently for schismatical or sensual purposes (xi. 20, 22) they had not kept distinct from the celebration of the Blessed Sacrament. They had also, it appears, sent him some questions respecting the relative value of their spiritual gifts, or perhaps he had heard that they abused one spiritual gift, that of tongues, through vanity or love of display. And he had also heard that there were some among them who had so declined from the faith which he first taught them as to deny the Resurrection of the Body, and, by consequence, the Resurrection of the Lord Himself.
To meet these evils, and to solve these questions, St. Paul was inspired by the Spirit of God to write this letter.
III. THE SPECIAL TEACHING OF THIS EPISTLE.
We have now to consider what is the Christian truth which St. Paul brings forward to meet these evils.
The dominant truth of this Epistle is, that Christ is the Head of a mystical Body, the Church, and that this Church is so the Body of Christ, that each member of the Church is a member of Christ, spiritually and sacramentally united to Him in one Divine organism. We will briefly review the Epistle in regard to this.
The whole Church is a body of men sanctified in Christ Jesus (i. 2). Grace is diffused throughout it, but “in” Christ Jesus. This, as it appears in the opening verses, is not so plain in our translation as it ought to be : for instance, “the grace given to you by Christ Jesus” (i. 4) ought to be “the grace given to you in Christ
"enriched by Him” should be " enriched in Him." Then he has to mention their divisions, and he significantly asks, "Is Christ divided ?" Then the Corinthians are of God in Christ Jesus (i. 30). Then, as Christ is the one true temple of God (John ii. 19, 20, 21), so are they the temple of God, and they must take heed how they destroy or defile such a temple (iii. 17). They are St. Paul's spiritual children, but "in" Christ (iv. 15). They must purge themselves from the old leaven, because they have not ten thousand paschal lambs, but One Paschal Lamb, of whom all partake (v. 7, 8). They must keep their bodies pure, not merely because by impurity they contravene high ideas of morality, but because they defile bodies which are members of Christ (vi. 15). All members of the Church are one bread and one body, because they are all partakers of One Inward Part in the great Sacrament of Christian unity (x. 16, 17). Men are not to partake of things presented on the altars or tables of demons, because, if so, they cannot partake savingly of the Lord's Body (x. 21). Because the Head of every man is Christ, women are not to pray or prophesy unveiled in the Christian assemblies (xi. 3-16). In judging respecting spiritual gifts the first principle to be taken into account is that "by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body” (xii. 13), that all the members are endowed by the Spirit with spiritual gifts and faculties, but all in subordination to the unity of the One Body. We are all the body of Christ and members in particular or severally (xii, 27). The offices of the mystical body, just as the members of the natural body, are manifold, but the Spirit is the same, only manifesting Himself differently in each. And lastly, this unity of the body of Christ is not confined to this world, but has its issues in the spiritual and eternal world : for we shall rise again, not by, or in ourselves, but in Christ; He is the Second Adam, and as by receiving not the soul only, or the spirit, but the flesh of the first Adam we all die, so in Christ, the Second Adam, Who rose from the dead in a lifegiving Body so capable of transfusion that it is, though a Body, called a life-giving Spirit, we shall all be made alive (xv. 21-23).
All these remarkable things are said to the whole body of the baptized without any limitation or reservation. It is assumed that each baptized Corinthian maintaining a profession of the faith of Christ, as distinguished from the denial of the same faith by Jews or heathen (xii. 1-4), is a member of the Body of Christ. If any Corinthian has fallen into sin he is assumed to sin, not only against