|<< 1 Corinthians 16 >>|
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
The apostle exhorts the Corinthians to make a contribution for the relief of the poor Christians at Jerusalem; and directs to the best mode of doing it, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4. Promises to pay them a visit after pentecost, 1 Corinthians 16:5-9. Gives directions about the treatment of Timothy and Apollos, 1 Corinthians 16:10-12. And concerning watchfulness, etc., 1 Corinthians 16:13, 1 Corinthians 16:14. Commends the house of Stephanas, and expresses his satisfaction at the visit paid him by Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus, 1 Corinthians 16:15-18. Sends the salutations of different persons, 1 Corinthians 16:19, 1 Corinthians 16:21. Shows the awful state of those who were enemies to Christ, 1 Corinthians 16:22. And concludes the epistle with the apostolical benediction, 1 Corinthians 16:23, 1 Corinthians 16:24.
1Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
The collection for the saints - Περι - της λογιας, from λεγω, to gather, or collect; translated by the Vulgate, de collectis, a contribution made by the rich for the relief of the poor. The Christians living at Jerusalem, we may naturally suppose, were greatly straitened; as the enmity of their countrymen to the Gospel of Christ led them to treat those who professed it with cruelty, and spoil them of their goods; (see Hebrews 10:34; and Romans 15:26; and see the note Romans 15:27); and the apostle hereby teaches that it was the duty of one Christian congregation to help another when in distress.
2Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
Upon the first day of the week - The apostle prescribes the most convenient and proper method of making this contribution.
1. Every man was to feel it his duty to succor his brethren in distress.
2. He was to do this according to the ability which God gave him.
3. He was to do this at the conclusion of the week, when he had cast up his weekly earnings, and had seen how much God had prospered his labor.
4. He was then to bring it on the first day of the week, as is most likely, to the church or assembly, that it might be put in the common treasury.
5. We learn from this that the weekly contribution could not be always the same, as each man was to lay by as God had prospered him: now, some weeks he would gain more; others, less.
6. It appears from the whole that the first day of the week, which is the Christian Sabbath, was the day on which their principal religious meetings were held in Corinth and the Churches of Galatia; and, consequently, in all other places where Christianity had prevailed. This is a strong argument for the keeping of the Christian Sabbath.
7. We may observe that the apostle follows here the rule of the synagogue; it was a regular custom among the Jews to make their collections for the poor on the Sabbath day, that they might not be without the necessaries of life, and might not be prevented from coming to the synagogue.
8. For the purpose of making this provision, they had a purse, which was called ארנקי של צדקה Arneki shel tsedakah, "The purse of the alms," or what we would term, the poor's box. This is what the apostle seems to mean when he says, Let him lay by him in store - let him put it in the alms' purse, or in the poor's box.
9. It was a maxim also with them that, if they found any money, they were not to put it in their private purse, but in that which belonged to the poor.
10. The pious Jews believed that as salt seasoned food, so did alms, riches; and that he who did not give alms of what he had, his riches should be dispersed. The moth would corrupt the bags, and the canker corrode the money, unless the mass was sanctified by giving a part to the poor.
3And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.
Whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters - Why should Paul require letters of approbation in behalf of certain persons, when he himself should be among them, and could have their characters viva voce? It is probable that he refers here to letters of recommendation which they had sent to him while he was away; and he now promises that when he should come to Corinth, he would appoint these persons, whom they had recommended, to carry the alms to Jerusalem. If δοκιμασητε, be read ye shall have approved, as Bishop Pearce does, the difficulty will vanish. Some MSS. and several versions join δι' επιστολων, by letters, to the following words, and read the verse thus: When I come, those whom ye shall approve I will send with letters to bring your liberality to Jerusalem. This seems most natural.
4And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.
And if it be meet, etc. - If it be a business that requires my attendance, and it be judged proper for me to go to Jerusalem, I will take those persons for my companions. On the delicacy with which St. Paul managed the business of a collection for the poor, Archdeacon Paley makes the following appropriate remarks: - "The following observations will satisfy us concerning the purity of our apostle's conduct in the suspicious business of a pecuniary contribution.
"1st. He disclaims the having received any inspired authority for the directions which he is giving: 'I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.' (2 Corinthians 8:8.) Who, that had a sinister purpose to answer by the recommending of subscriptions, would thus distinguish, and thus lower the credit of his own recommendation?
"2nd. Although he asserts the general right of Christian ministers to a maintenance from their ministry, yet he protests against the making use of this right in his own person: 'Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they who preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel; but I have used none of these things; neither have I written these things that it should be so done unto me; for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying, i.e. my professions of disinterestedness, void.' (1 Corinthians 9:14, 1 Corinthians 9:15.)
"3rd. He repeatedly proposes that there should be associates with himself in the management of the public bounty; not colleagues of his own appointment, but persons elected for that purpose by the contributors themselves. 'And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem; and if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.' (1 Corinthians 16:3, 1 Corinthians 16:4.) And in the second epistle, what is here proposed we find actually done, and done for the very purpose of guarding his character against any imputation that might be brought upon it in the discharge of a pecuniary trust: 'And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the Churches; and not that only, but who was also chosen of the Churches to travel with us with this grace, (gift), which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and the declaration of your ready mind: avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us; providing for things honest, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men:' i.e. not resting in the consciousness of our own integrity, but, in such a subject, careful also to approve our integrity to the public judgment. (2 Corinthians 8:18-21.") Horae Paulinae, page 95.
5Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.
I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia - St. Paul was now at Ephesus; for almost all allow, in opposition to the subscription at the end of this epistle that states it to have been written from Philippi, that it was written from Ephesus: and this is supported by many strong arguments; and the 8th verse here seems to put it past all question: I will tarry at Ephesus; i.e. I am in Ephesus, and here I purpose to remain until pentecost. Though Macedonia was not in the direct way from Ephesus to Corinth, yet the apostle intended to make it in his way. And it was because it was not in the direct road, but lay at the upper end of the Aegean Sea, and very far out of his direct line, that he says, I do pass through Macedonia - I have purposed to go thither before I go to Corinth.
6And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.
Yea, and winter with you - He purposed to stay till pentecost at Ephesus; after that to go to Macedonia, and probably to spend the summer there; and come in the autumn to Corinth, and there spend the winter.
That ye may bring me on my journey - That ye may furnish me with the means of travelling. It appears that, in most cases, the different Churches paid his expenses to other Churches; where this was not done, then he labored at his business to acquire the means of travelling.
7For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.
I will not see you now by the way - From Ephesus to Corinth was merely across the Aegean Sea, and comparatively a short passage.
8But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.
I will tarry at Ephesus - And it is very probable that he did so; and that all these journeys were taken as he himself had projected. See on 1 Corinthians 16:5 (note).
9For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.
A great door and effectual is opened - Θυοα γαρ μοι ανεωγε μεγαλη και ενεργης· A great and energetic door is opened to me; that is, God has made a grand opening to me in those parts, which I perceive will require much labor; and besides, I shall have many adversaries to oppose me. So Bp. Pearce understands the words ενεργης, not as signifying effectual, but as implying full of labor. Door often signifies occasion or opportunity; but here, the apostle may allude to the throwing open of the great doors of the Circus Maximus before the chariot races began; and the many adversaries may refer to the numerous competitors in those races.
God gave him a grand opportunity to preach the Gospel; but he was not to expect that either Satan or wicked men would leave him unmolested.
10Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.
Now, if Timotheus come - Of Timothy we have heard before, 1 Corinthians 4:17. And we learn, from Acts 19:22, that Paul sent him with Erastus from Ephesus to Macedonia. It is evident, therefore, in opposition to the very exceptionable subscription at the end of this epistle, that the epistle itself was not sent by Timothy, as there stated.
That he may be with you without fear - That he may be treated well, and not perplexed and harassed with your divisions and jealousies; for he worketh the work of the Lord - he is Divinely appointed, as I also am.
11Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.
Let no man - despise him - Let none pretend to say that he has not full authority from God to do the work of an evangelist.
But conduct him forth in peace - I believe, with Bp. Pearce, that this clause should be translated and pointed thus: accompany him upon his journey, that he may come unto me in peace, (εν ειρηνῃ, in safety), as the word is used in Mark 5:34; and Luke 7:50.
For I look for him with the brethren - Εκδεχομαι - αυτον μετα των αδελφων. This clause should not be understood as if Paul was expecting certain brethren with Timothy; but it was the brethren that were with Paul that were looking for him; I, with the brethren, am looking for him.
12As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.
As touching our brother Apollos - It appears from this that the brethren, of whom the apostle speaks in the preceding verse, were then with him at Ephesus; I, with the brethren, greatly desired to come.
But his will was not at all to come - As there had been a faction set up in the name of Apollos at Corinth, he probably thought it not prudent to go thither at this time, lest his presence might be the means of giving it either strength or countenance.
13Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
Watch ye - You have many enemies; be continually on your guard; be always circumspect: -
1. Watch against evil;
2. Watch for opportunities to receive good;
3. Watch for opportunities to do good;
4. Watch over each other in love;
5. Watch, that none may draw you aside from the belief and unity of the Gospel.
Stand fast in the faith - Hold in conscientious credence what you have already received as the truth of God; for it is the Gospel by which ye shall be saved, and by which ye are now put into a state of salvation: see 1 Corinthians 15:1, 1 Corinthians 15:2.
Quit you like men - Be not like children tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine; let your understanding receive the truth; let your judgment determine on the absolute necessity of retaining it; and give up life rather than give up the testimony of God.
Be strong - Put forth all the vigor and energy which God has given you in maintaining and propagating the truth, and your spiritual strength will increase by usage. The terms in this verse are all military: Watch ye, γρηγορειτε, watch, and be continually on your guard, lest you be surprised by your enemies; keep your scouts out, and all your sentinels at their posts, lest your enemies steal a march upon you. See that the place you are in be properly defended; and that each be alert to perform his duty.
Stand fast in the faith - Στηκετε εν τῃ πιστει· Keep in your ranks; do not be disorderly; be determined to keep your ranks unbroken; keep close together. On your unity your preservation depends; if the enemy succeed in breaking your ranks, and dividing one part of this sacred army from another, your rout will be inevitable.
Quit yourselves like men - Ανδριζεσθε· When you are attacked, do not flinch; maintain your ground; resist; press forward; strike home; keep compact; conquer.
Be strong - Κραταιουαθε. If one company or division be opposed by too great a force of the enemy, strengthen that division, and maintain your position; if an attack is to be made on any part or intrenchment of the foe, summon up all your courage, sustain each other; fear not, for fear will enervate you. Your cause is good; it is the faith, the religion of Jesus; he is your Captain in the field; and, should you even die in the contest, the victory is yours.
14Let all your things be done with charity.
Let all your things be done with charity - Let love to God, to man, and to one another, be the motive of all your conduct.
15I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
Ye know the house of Stephanas - Ye know that Stephanas and his family have addicted them to the help of the followers of Christ; they have been the chief instruments of supporting the work of God in Achaia, of which work they themselves have been the first fruits. See the note on Romans 16:5.
16That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.
That ye submit yourselves unto such - That ye have due regard to them, and consider them as especial instruments in the hand of God for countenancing and carrying on his great work. The submission here recommended does not imply obedience, but kind and courteous demeanour. Kypke vindicates this sense of the word from Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5.
17I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.
I am glad of the coming of Stephanas, etc. - It was by these that the Corinthians had sent that letter to the apostle, to answer which was a main part of the design of St. Paul in this epistle.
Fortunatus - This man is supposed to have survived St. Paul; and to be the same mentioned by Clement in his epistle to the Corinthians, sec. 59, as the bearer of that epistle from Clement at Rome to the Christians at Corinth.
For that which was lacking on your part - This may either refer to additional communications besides those contained in the letter which the Corinthians sent to the apostle - which additional circumstances were furnished by the persons above; and from them St. Paul had a fuller account of their spiritual state than was contained in the letter - or to some contributions on their part for the support of the apostle in his peregrinations and labors.
18For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.
They have refreshed my spirit and yours - They have been a means of contributing greatly to my comfort; and what contributes to my comfort must increase yours. This is probably the meaning of the apostle.
Therefore acknowledge ye them - Pay them particular respect, and let all be held in esteem in proportion to their work and usefulness. When this is made the rule of respect and esteem, then foolish and capricious attachments will have no place. A man will then be honored in proportion to his merit; and his merit will be estimated by his usefulness among men.
19The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
The Churches of Asia salute you - i.e. The Churches in Asia Minor. Ephesus was in this Asia, and it is clear from this that the apostle was not at Philippi; had he been at Philippi, as the subscription states, he would have said, The Churches of Macedonia, not the Churches of Asia, salute you. How these places lay, in reference to each other, the reader will at once perceive by consulting the map in Acts.
Aquila and Priscilla - Of these eminent persons we have heard before: see Acts 18:2, Acts 18:18, Acts 18:26; and Romans 16:3.
With the Church that is in their house - That is, the company of believers who generally worshipped there. There were no churches or chapels at that time built; and the assemblies of Christians were necessarily held in private houses. It appears that Aquila and Priscilla devoted their house to this purpose. The house of Philemon was of the same kind; Plm 1:2. So was likewise the house of Nymphas, Colossians 4:15. See the note on Romans 16:5.
20All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.
With a holy kiss - The ancient patriarchs, and the Jews in general, were accustomed to kiss each other whenever they met; and this was a token of friendship and peace with them, as shaking of hands is with us. The primitive Christians naturally followed this example of the Jews. See the note on Romans 16:16.
21The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.
The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand - This should be rendered: "The salutation is written by the hand of me Paul;" γεγραπται, is written, being understood. It is very likely that the apostle wrote this and the following verses with his own hand. The rest, though dictated by him, was written by an amanuensis.
22If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.
If any man love not the Lord Jesus - This is directed immediately against the Jews. From 1 Corinthians 12:3, we find that the Jews, who pretended to be under the Spirit and teaching of God, called Jesus αναθεμα, or accursed; i.e. a person who should be devoted to destruction: see the note on 1 Corinthians 12:3. In this place the apostle retorts the whole upon themselves, and says: If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let Him be αναθεμα, accursed, and devoted to destruction. This is not said in the way of a wish or imprecation, but as a prediction of what would certainly come upon them if they did not repent, and of what did come on them because they did not repent; but continued to hate and execrate the Lord Jesus; and of what still lies upon them, because they continue to hate and execrate the Redeemer of the world.
It is generally allowed that the apostle refers here to some of the modes of excommunication among the Jews, of which there were three, viz.: -
1. Niddui נדוי, which signifies a simple separation or exclusion of a man from the synagogue, and from his wife and family, for Thirty days.
2. Cherem חרם which was inflicted on him who had borne the niddui, and who had not, in the thirty days, made proper compensation, in order to be reconciled to the synagogue. This was inflicted with dire execrations, which he was informed must all come upon him if he did not repent; but the cherem always supposed place for repentance.
3. Shammatha שמתא: this was the direst of all, and cut off all hope of reconciliation and repentance; after which the man was neither reconcilable to the synagogue, nor acknowledged as belonging even to the Jewish nation. See these different forms in Buxtorf's Rabbinical and Talmudical Lexicon, under their respective words.
In the Lexicon just now quoted, Buxtorf gives a form of the cherem, which he says he copied from an ancient Hebrew MS. Of this awful piece I shall lay a translation before the reader.
"By the sentence of the Lord of lords, let P. the son of P. be anathematized in both houses of judgment; the superior and inferior. Let him be anathematized among the highest saints; let him be anathematized among the seraphim and ophanim; and finally, let him be anathematized by all the congregations of the great and the small! Let great and continued plagues rest upon him; with great and horrible diseases! Let his house be the habitation of dragons! and let his constellation be darkened in the clouds! Let him be for indignation, and wrath, and burning! Let his carcass be thrown to the wild beasts and serpents! Let his enemies and his adversaries triumph over him! Let his silver and gold be given to others! And let all his children be exposed at the doors of their enemies! And let posterity be astonished at his day! Let him be accursed by the mouth of Addiriron and Achtariel; by the mouth of Sandalphon and Hadraniel; by the mouth of Ansisiel and Patchiel; by the mouth of Seraphiel and Sagansael; by the mouth of Michael and Gabriel; by the mouth of Raphael and Mesharetiel! Let him be anathematized by the mouth of Zaafzavif, and by the mouth of Hafhavif, who is the great God; and by the mouth of the seventy names of the supreme King; and lastly, by the mouth of Tsortak the great chancellor.
"Let him he swallowed up like Korah and his companions! Let his soul depart with fear and terror! Let the chiding of the Lord slay him! Let him be confounded as Achitophel was in his counsel! Let the leprosy of Gehazi be his leprosy! and let there be no resurrection of his ruins! In the sepulchres of the children of Israel let him not be buried! Let his wife be given to another, and let others bow themselves upon her in his death! In this anathema, let P. the son of P. be; and let this be his inheritance! But upon me and upon all Israel may God extend his peace and blessing, Amen." To this is added the 18th, 19th, and 20th verses of Deuteronomy 29, (Deuteronomy 29:18-20) which the reader may read at his leisure. There are many things in this cherem which require a comment, but this is not the place.
Anathema, maran-atha - "Let him be accursed; our Lord cometh." I cannot see the reason why these words were left untranslated. The former is Greek, and has been already explained; the latter is Syriac maran-atha, our Lord is coming: i.e. to execute the judgment denounced. Does not the apostle refer to the last verse in the Bible? Lest I come and smite the land (חרם cherem) with a curse? And does he not intimate that the Lord was coming to smite the Jewish land with that curse? Which took place a very few years after, and continues on that gainsaying and rebellious people to the present day. What the apostle has said was prophetic, and indicative of what was about to happen to that people. God was then coming to inflict punishment upon them: he came, and they were broken and dispersed.
23The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
The grace of our Lord Jesus - May the favor, influence, mercy, and salvation procured by Jesus Christ, be with you - prevail among you, rule in you, and be exhibited by you, in your life and conversation! Amen.
24My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. ‹‹The first epistle to the Corinthians was written from Philippi by Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus, and Timotheus.
My love be with you all in Christ Jesus - It appears exceedingly strange that the apostle should say, My love be with you; as he said, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. We can easily conceive what the latter means: the grace of Christ is an active, powerful, saving principle; it is essential to the existence of the Christian Church that this grace should be ever with it: and without this grace no individual can be saved. But what could the love of the apostle do with them? Has it any meaning? I confess I can see none, unless it be intended to say, I love you; or, I continue to love you. The pronoun μου, my, is wanting in the Codex Alexandrinus, and in 73, an excellent MS. in the Vatican, written about the eleventh century. This will help us to a better sense, for it either says, May love prevail among you! or supplying the word Θεου God, as in 2 Corinthians 13:14, The love of God be with you! This gives a sound sense; for the love of God is as much a principle of light, life, and salvation, as the grace of Christ. And probably ΜΟΥ, my, is a corruption for ΘΕΟΥ, of God. And this is the more likely, because he uses this very form in the conclusion of his second epistle to this Church, as we have seen above. I conclude, therefore, that the reading of the two MSS. above is the true reading; or else that μου is a corruption for Θεου, and that the verse should be read thus: The love of God be with you all, in (or by) Christ Jesus.
Amen - So be it: but this word is wanting in most MSS. of repute, and certainly was not written by the apostle.
1. The subscription to this epistle in our common English Bibles, and in the common editions of the Greek text, is palpably absurd. That it was not written from Philippi, but from Ephesus, see the notes on 1 Corinthians 16:5, 1 Corinthians 16:8 (note), 1 Corinthians 16:10 (note), 1 Corinthians 16:19 (note); and that it could not be written by Silvanus, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus, and Timotheus," needs no proof. But this subscription is wanting in all the best MSS. and versions, either in whole or in part. In some it is simply said, The first to the Corinthians; in others, The first to the Corinthians is finished; written from Ephesus - from Asia - from Ephesus of Asia - from Philippi of Macedonia - from Philippi of Macedonia, and sent by the hands of Timothy; so the Syriac. Written from Ephesus, by Stephanas and Fortunatus; Coptic. Written from Philippi by Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus; Slavonic. Written, etc., by Paul and Sosthenes. Written from the city of Philippi, and sent by Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus, and Timotheus; Arabic. There are other variations, which need not be set down. Those only appear to be correct that state the epistle to have been sent from Ephesus, of which there can be no reasonable doubt.
2. In closing my observations on this epistle, I feel it necessary once more to call the reader's attention to the many difficulties contained in it as an excuse for any thing he may find handled in an unsatisfactory manner. Perhaps it will be of little consequence for him to know that this epistle has cost me more labor and difficulty than any portion of the same quantity which I have yet passed over either in the Old or New Testament.
3. It has been already noticed that the Church at Corinth had written to the apostle for advice, direction, and information on a variety of points; and that this epistle is, in the main, an answer to the epistle from Corinth. Had we that epistle, all difficulty would vanish in this; but, as the apostle only refers to their questions by mere catch words from their letter, it is impossible to know, in all cases, what the questions contained. To them the answers would be clear, because they knew on what they had consulted him; to us the answers must be, as they really are in some cases, necessarily obscure, because we know not the whole bearing and circumstances of the questions. Indeed the epistle contains more local matter, and more matter of private application, than any other in the New Testament; and there is in it, on the whole, less matter for general use than in most other parts of the sacred writings. Yet it is both very curious and useful; it gives insight into several customs, and not a few forms of speech, and matters relative to the discipline of the primitive Church, which we can find nowhere else: and it reads a very awful lesson to those who disturb the peace of society, make schisms in the Church of Christ, and endeavor to set up one preacher at the expense of another.
4. It shows us also how many improper things may, in a state of ignorance or Christian infancy, be consistent with a sincere belief in the Gospel of Christ, and a conscientious and zealous attachment to it.
5. In different parts of the epistle we find the apostle speaking very highly of the knowledge of this Church; and its various gifts and endowments. How then can we say that its blemishes arose from ignorance? I answer, that certainly only a few of the people at Corinth could possess those eminent spiritual qualifications; because the things that are attributed to this Church in other places are utterly inconsistent with that state of grace for which the apostle, in other places, appears to give them credit. The solution of the difficulty is this: There were in the Church at Corinth many highly gifted and very gracious people; there were also there many more, who, though they might have been partakers of some extraordinary gifts, had very little of that religion which the apostle describes in the thirteenth chapter of this epistle.
6. Besides, we must not suppose that eminent endowments necessarily imply gracious dispositions. A man may have much light and little love; he may be very wise in secular matters, and know but little of himself, and less of his God. There is as truly a learned ignorance, as there is a refined and useful learning. One of our old writers said, "Knowledge that is not applying, is only like a candle which a man holds to light himself to hell." The Corinthians abounded in knowledge, and science, and eloquence, and various extraordinary gifts; but in many cases, distinctly enough marked in this epistle, they were grossly ignorant of the genius and design of the Gospel. Many, since their time, have put words and observances in place of the weightier matters of the Law, and the spirit of the Gospel. The apostle has taken great pains to correct these abuses among the Corinthians, and to insist on that great, unchangeable, and eternal truth, that love to God and man, filling the heart, hallowing the passions, regulating the affections, and producing universal benevolence and beneficence, is the fulfilling of all law; and that all professions, knowledge, gifts, etc., without this, are absolutely useless. And did this epistle contain no more than what is found in the 13th chapter, yet that would be an unparalleled monument of the apostle's deep acquaintance with God; and an invaluable record of the sum and substance of the Gospel, left by God's mercy to the Church, as a touchstone for the trial of creeds, confessions of faith, and ritual observances, to the end of the world.
7. I have often had occasion to note that the whole epistle refers so much to Jewish affairs, customs, forms of speech, ceremonies, etc., that it necessarily supposes the people to have been well acquainted with them: from this I infer that a great majority of the Christian Church at Corinth was composed of converted Jews; and it is likely that this was the case in all the Churches of Asia Minor and Greece. Many Gentiles were undoubtedly brought to the knowledge of the truth; but the chief converts were from among the Hellenistic Jews. In many respects Jewish phraseology prevails more in this epistle than even in that to the Romans. Without attention to this it would be impossible to make any consistent sense out of the 15th chapter, where the apostle treats so largely on the doctrine of the resurrection, as almost every form and turn of expression is Jewish; and we must know what ideas they attached to such words and forms of speech, in order to enter into the spirit of the apostle's meaning. His ignorance of this caused a late eminent writer and philosopher to charge the apostle with "inconsistent reasoning." Had he understood the apostle's language, he would not have said so; and as he did not understand it, he should have said nothing. A man may be qualified to make great and useful discoveries in the doctrine of gases or factitious airs, who may be ill qualified to elucidate the meaning of the Holy Spirit.
8. Before I finish my concluding observations on this epistle, I must beg leave to call the reader's attention once more to the concluding words of the apostle: If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema, maran-atha. These words have been as often misunderstood, and perhaps as dangerously applied, as another passage in this epistle, He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, etc. Though I am ready to grant that the bad Christian, i.e. the man who professes Christianity, and yet lives under the power of sin, is in a very dangerous state; and that he who, while he credits Christianity, is undecided as to the public part he should take in its profession and practice, is putting his eternal interests to the most awful hazard; yet I must also grant that the meaning generally put on the words in question is not correct. The words apply to the gainsaying and blasphemous Jews; to those who were calling Christ anathema, or accursed; and cannot be applied to any person who respects his name, or confides in him for his salvation; much less do they apply to him who finds through the yet prevalence of evil in his heart, and the power of temptation, that he has little, and, to his own apprehension, no love to the Lord Jesus. The anathema of the apostle is denounced against him only who gives the anathema to Christ: of this, not one of my readers is capable. It is the duty of all to love him with an undivided heart: if any be not yet able to do it, let him not be discouraged: if the Lord cometh to execute judgment on him who calleth Jesus accursed, he cometh also to fulfill the desire of them who fear him; to make them partake of the Divine nature, and so cleanse their hearts by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit, that they shall perfectly love him, and worthily magnify his name.