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TO THE CORINTHIANS”
1. Authorship.—The Pauline authorship of this epistle is involved in that of 1 Corinthians. There is in several points such a subtle harmony between them as can only be accounted for by their common authorship; and the impression that both are genuine writings of Paul is confirmed by an examination of relative passages in the Book of Acts. 1
That the author did not derive his information from
1 The truth of this statement will be manifest to any one who will take the trouble to compare carefully the following corresponding passages with the assistance of Paley's Horæ Paulinæ (iv.):1 Cor. xvi. 5; 2 Cor. vii. 4-7; ix. (regarding Paul's visit to Mace.. 2-4
donia). 1 Cor. v. 1-5; 2 Cor. ii. 7, 8; vii. (regarding the scandalous offence).
7-12 1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2; 2 Cor. viii. 10, 11 ; (regarding the money promised but ix. 2-7
not collected). Acts xix. 23-xx. 1 ; 2 Cor. i. 3-10 (regarding the trouble which befell
Paul in Asia). 2 Cor. i. 15, 16; i. 23–ii. 9 ; 1 Cor. (regarding his change of route xvi. 5-7 ; iv. 17, 18; Acts xix. previous to writing 1 Cor., and
his motive for it). Acts xviii. 1-5; 2 Cor. i. 19 ; xi. 9 (regarding Silas' and Timothy's
coming to him from Macedonia). Acts xx. 6, 7 ; 2 Cor. ii. 12, 13 (regarding the door opened to him
at Troas). 2 Cor. x. 14-16; Acts xviii, 1-18 (regarding the limits of his mis
the Book of Acts may be inferred from the circumstance that the name of Titus, which is prominent in the epistle, is not once mentioned in Acts. The same conclusion may be drawn from a comparison of their respective allusions to the attempts made upon Paul's life and liberty at Damascus after his conversion (xi. 32; Acts ix. 23-25), as well as from the fact that the enumeration of his trials in xi. 24, 25 contains a number of striking statements which have nothing corresponding to them in the Book of Acts, though at the same time there is nothing inconsistent with them. With regard to the apparent discrepancy as to the number of his visits to Corinth (xiii. 1) see page 82.
Apart from the minute correspondences above referred to, there is a living interest and an air of reality about the epistle, scarcely ever met with in forgeries, especially of that early period.
With regard to external evidence a few echoes of expressions occurring in the epistle are to be found in the fragmentary writings that have come down to us from the beginning of the second century. By the end of that century the quotations from the epistle in the writings of Irenæus, Tertullian, etc., are explicit and unmistakable.
The amanuensis in this case was probably Timothy, as he is associated with the apostle in the opening verse.
2. The Readers.- “ Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in the whole of Achaia.” See page 73.
3. Date and Place of Composition. It was evidently written a few months after the first epistle, say in the summer of 57 A.D., from some town in Macedonia, probably Thessalonica.1
1 “From Philippi” according to note at end of epistle in A.V. But this is not so probable in view of the fact that the apostle seems 1 Many attempts have been made to identify these two brethren. Luke is generally held to be one of them.
In the interval the apostle had left Ephesus (i. 8-10), after his narrow escape from the violence of the crowd, and had proceeded to Troas, where he anxiously expected the arrival of Titus. The latter had been sent to Corinth, either with the first epistle or shortly after its dispatch, to enforce the apostle's views and to bring him back word of the effect produced by his epistle at this momentous crisis in the history of his most influential Church (viii. 6; xii. 18; 1 Cor. xvi. 12).
In his disappointment at not finding Titus, he had no heart to embrace the opportunity of preaching at Troas, and had proceeded to Macedonia (ii. 12, 13), where Titus at length joined him (vii. 5, 6). It was after getting Titus' report, bringing him great relief of mind in the midst of his severe trials and heavy responsibilities (vii. 4-16; xi. 28), that he appears to have written this epistle, which he sent by the hands of Titus, accompanied by two other brethren, whom he describes as “the messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ," one of them being “the brother whose praise in the gospel is spread through all the churches,” and the other
our brother, whom we have many times proved earnest in many things” (viii. 6, 16-23).1
A difficulty has been raised about the expression in xiii. 1, “This is the third time I am coming to you.” Some think the apostle had paid a second visit to Corinth, from Ephesus, prior to the writing of his first epistle. But another explanation is to be found in the importance attaching to the visit he had intended to pay on his way to Macedonia (i. 15). The confidence of the Corinthians in him had been shaken by the disappointment he had to have already visited the Churches of Macedonia (viii. 1-4), for in the course of doing so Philippi would naturally come first, to one travelling southward.
caused them; and he wished to impress upon them the reality of his intention, although he had been unable to fulfil it. No doubt, on this supposition, he would have been more strictly accurate if he had expressed himself as in xii. 14, “Behold, this is the third time I am ready to come to you.”
4. Character and Contents.-If the first epistle may be said to be our great instructor regarding the inner life of the Church, the second epistle is our chief source of information regarding the personality of the apostle himself. It is an outpouring of personal feeling almost from beginning to end, expressing itself in many different moods and with a great variety of style. It is well described by Erasmus when he says that “at one time the apostle wells up gently like some limpid spring, and by and by thunders down like a torrent with a mighty crash, carrying everything before it; now he flows placidly and smoothly, now spreads out far and wide, as if expanding into a lake, then disappears, and suddenly reappears in a different place.” But although the least systematic of Paul's writings, it contains many passages of priceless worth, for the comfort and edification of the Church.
The apostle had learned from Titus that his first letter had served its purpose and that the interests of Church discipline had been secured.
But the same messenger had informed him that fresh cause for anxiety had arisen in the rapid growth of a party hostile to his influence, who were seeking to trade upon the disaffection which had been caused among his converts by his failure to visit them according to promise (i. 16, 17).
Traces of such opposition are discernible even in the first epistle (1 Cor. i. 12; ix. 1-6); but it had been greatly stimulated by the intrigues and false pretensions of rival teachers from Jerusalem, who had brought letters of commendation with them, and were using Peter's
name, and even that of Christ, for party purposes (ii. 17; iii. 1, 2; v. 12; x. 7-12, 18; xi. 3-5, 12-15, 22, 23).
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 (xii
. 20, 21; xiii. 10).
In i.-vii. 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 viii.-ix. 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 (x.-xiii.) is devoted to a vindication of his character as an apostle. He enumerates 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