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To defeat the efforts of these Judaising teachers, and to refute the charges and insinuations which they were bringing against him, was the main object of this epistle. By doing so the apostle hoped to obviate the necessity for any sharp dealing after he arrived at Corinth.1
In the first half of the epistle? Paul seeks to conciliate the affection of his converts by giving them an account of his sufferings and of the anxiety he had felt on their behalf. He explains that his delay in visiting them had not been owing to any fickleness of purpose on his part, but to a desire for the restoration of peace and purity before he came among them. He gives a frank exposition of his views and feelings, his trials and supports, as a minister of Christ, making glad and thankful acknowledgment of the kind reception they had given to his deputy, and of the full amends they had made in the important case of Church discipline about which he had written to them. In the two succeeding chapters 3 he exhorts them to a prompt and liberal fulfilment of their promise to contribute for the relief of the needy brethren at Jerusalem,-a promise of which he had boasted to the Churches at Macedonia, in order to stimulate their generosity. In this connection he sets forth more fully than anywhere else in his writings the motives and dispositions which should actuate Christians in the discharge of this duty of pecuniary liberality.
At this point there is a sudden change in the apostle's tone; and the remainder of the epistle is devoted to a vindication of his character as an apostle. He enumerates so am I. Are they Israelites ? so am I. I should find you not such as I would, Are they the seed of Abraham ? so am and should myself be found of you I. Are they ministers of Christ ? (I such as ye would not; lest by any speak as one beside himself) I more; means there should be strife, jealousy, in labours more abundantly, in prisons wraths, factions, backbitings, whispermore abundantly, in stripes above ings, swellings, tumults ; lest, when I measure, in deaths oft.”
come again, my God should humble 1 xiii. 10:
“For this cause I write me before you, and I should mourn these things while absent, that I may for many of them that have sinned not when present deal sharply, accord- heretofore, and repented not of the ing to the authority which the Lord uncleanness
fornication and gave me for building up, and not for lasciviousness which they committed." casting down.” xii. 20, 21: “For I 2 Chaps. i.-vii. fear, lest by any means, when I come, 3 Chaps. viii., ix.
his many claims to the respect and obedience of his converts, and closes with an impressive salutation, followed by the form of Benediction which has now become so general in the Church : “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all."
That the epistle succeeded in regaining, or rather in retaining, for the apostle the general confidence of his Corinthian converts, may be inferred from the veneration in which his memory was held amongst them a few years after his death. Of this veneration we find unmistakable tokens in the epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, written towards the close of the first century.
Note A (p. 114). (1) 1 Cor. xvi. 5: “But I will come unto you, when I shall have passed through Macedonia ; for I do pass through Macedonia.”
In the following passages we can trace the fulfilment of this intention on the part of the apostle to visit Macedonia :—2 Cor. vii. 4-7: “ Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying on your behalf: I am filled with comfort, I overflow with joy in all our affliction. For even when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no relief, but we were afflicted on every side ; without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless he that comforteth the lowly, even God, comforted us by the coming of Titus ; and not by his coming only, but also by the comfort wherewith he was comforted in you, while he told us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced yet more”; 2 Cor. ix. 1-4: "For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: for I know your readiness, of which I glory on your behalf to them of Macedonia, that Achaia hath been prepared for a year past; and your zeal hath stirred up very many of them. But I have sent the brethren, that our glorying on your behalf may not be made void in this respect; that, even as I said, ye may be prepared : lest by any means, if there come with me any of Macedonia, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be put to shame in this confidence.”
(2) 1 Cor. v. 1-5: “It is actually reported that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not even among the Gentiles,
that one of you hath his father's wife. And ye are puffed up, and did not rather mourn, that he that had done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, being absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as though I were present, judged him that hath so wrought this thing, in the name of our Lord Jesus, ye being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
From the following passages we gather that the sentence thus pronounced was duly executed, with good results both to the offender himself and the members of the congregation :
:-2 Cor. ii. 6, 7 : “Sufficient to such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the many; so that contrariwise ye should rather forgive him and comfort him, lest by any means such a one should be swallowed up with his overmuch sorrow." 2 Cor. vii. 6-8 : “Nevertheless he that comforteth the lowly, even God, comforted us by the coming of Titus ; and not by his coming only, but also by the comfort wherewith he was comforted in you, while he told us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me ; so that I rejoiced yet more. For though I made you sorry with my epistle, I do not regret it, though I did regret; for I see that that epistle made you sorry, though but for a season.” ver. 12: “So although I wrote unto you, I wrote not for his cause that did the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered the wrong, but that your earnest care for us might be made manifest unto you in the sight of God.” It is to be observed that the terms of the last-quoted verse are precisely applicable to such a social offence as is referred to in the first epistle.
(3) 1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2: Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.”
The collection thus introduced as a matter with which the Corinthians were already familiar, is several times alluded to in the second epistle — in such a way as to imply that while the resolution to contribute had been formed a whole year before, the actual payment to the treasurers to be approved by the Corinthians had not yet been made. 2 Cor. viii. 10, II:
And herein I give my judgment : for this is expedient for you, who were the first to make a beginning a year ago, not only to do, but also to will. But now complete the doing also; that as there was the readiness to will, so there may be the completion also out of your ability"; 2 Cor. ix. 1-4 (quoted p. 120, Note A (1)); ver. 5:“I thought it necessary therefore to intreat the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your aforepromised bounty, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not of extortion"; ver. 7: “Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart.
NOTE B (p. 114).
(1) Acts xix. 23—xx.I: “And about that time there arose no small stir concerning the Way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines of Diana, brought no little business unto the craftsmen ; whom he gathered together, with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this business we have our wealth. And ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands : and not only is there danger that this our trade come into disrepute ; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana be made of no account, and that she should even be deposed from her magnificence, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. And when they heard this, they were filled with wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And the city was filled with the confusion : and they rushed with one accord into the theatre, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel. And when Paul was minded to enter in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not And certain also of the chief officers of Asia, being his friends, sent unto him, and besought him not to adventure himself into the theatre. . . . And after the uproar was ceased, Paul having sent for the disciples and exhorted them, took leave of them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.”
This narrative throws light, evidently undesignedly, on the apostle's thankful remembrance of his deliverance from “the affliction which befell (us) in Asia” that meets us at the opening of the second epistle. 2 Cor. i. 8-10: "For we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning our affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power, insomuch that we despaired even of life : yea, we ourselves have had the answer of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead : who delivered us out of so great a death, and will deliver : on whom we have set our hope that he will also still deliver us."
(2) 2 Cor. i. 15, 16: “And in this confidence I was minded to come before unto you, that ye might have a second benefit; and by you to pass into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come unto you, and of you to be set forward on my journey unto Judæa.” ... ver. 23: “But I call God for a witness upon my soul, that to spare you I forbare to come unto Corinth.” ii. 1-4: “But I determined this for myself, that I would not come again to you with sorrow. For if I
make you sorry, who then is he that maketh me glad, but he that is made sorry by me? And I wrote this very thing, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice ; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be made sorry, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.”
From these allusions it appears that Paul had departed from his intention of passing through Corinth on his way to Macedonia ; and it was after this change, and in pursuance of it, that he had written the epistle referred to,—which, it is evident from the context, is to be identified with our i orinthians. This coincidence between the two epistles finds confirmation and explanation in Acts xix, 21, 22 : after these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. And having sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while."
(3) Acts xviii. 1-5: “After these things he departed from Athens, and came to Corinth. . . . But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul was constrained by the word, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ."
This agrees with 2 Cor. i. 19, from which we learn that Silas (under a slightly altered name, cf. i Thess. i. 1, Acts xvii. 10) and Timothy had assisted Paul in preaching to the Corinthians: “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timothy, was not yea and nay, but in him is yea.” The agreement is enhanced by 2 Cor. xi. 9, where “the brethren doubt to be identified with Timothy and Silas—“And when I was present with you and was in want, I was not a burden on any man; for the brethren, when they came from Macedonia, supplied the measure of my want; and in everything I kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.”
(4) Acts xx. 6, 7: “And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we tarried seven days. And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and prolonged his speech until midnight.”
From these verses it appears that, in returning from Macedonia on his final journey to Jerusalem, Paul stayed a week at Troas, and there found a Christian congregation ready to receive Communion at his hands. Now there is no previous mention in the Book of Acts of the existence of such a Church, or of Paul's having preached at Troas, though we learn it was from that city he set sail on his first mission