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The Great Commentary Of Cornelius À Lapide Volumes 1 To 8

1 He exhorteth them to relieve the want of the brethren at Jerusalem. 10 Commendeth Timothy, 13 and after friendly admonitions, 16 shutteth up his epistle with divers salutations.

Ver. 1.—Now concerning the collection for the saints. The saints here meant were the poor Christians living at Jerusalem. Cf. ver. 3 and Rom. 15:26. For the Christians at Jerusalem, as appears from Heb. 10:34, were robbed of their goods and grievously harassed by their fellow-countrymen, who were the most bitter foes of Christ. Hence an injunction was given to S. Paul in the Council of Jerusalem to be as mindful of the poor Jews as of the Gentiles (Gal. 2:10). He orders, therefore, that alms be regularly collected for them; and this practice lasted till the time of Theodosius. Cf. 2 Cor. 8.

Ver. 2.—Let every one lay by him in store—the amount that he may wish to give at this collection on the Lord’s Day. The first day of the week was the day on which the faithful assembled in church and made their oblations, even as they do now; for from this passage it is evident that, by Apostolic institution, a collection was wont to be made on the Lord’s Day. When this custom had been discontinued at Constantinople, S. Chrysostom had it restored, and delivered a remarkable sermon on almsgiving and collections at the time. Again, S. Chrysostom well remarks that it was well ordered that the collection should take place on the Lord’s Day, for on it God created the world and re-created it when lost, when Christ rose on the first day of the week and sent His Holy Spirit on the same day; and, therefore, we should keep in mind the great mercy that we have received on that day, and be merciful and liberal ourselves to others who are in need.

Moreover, it appears from this verse, that in the time of the Apostles the Sabbath had given way to the Lord’s Day, and that is evidently implied by S. John (Rev. 1:10), when He says: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” Moreover, it follows secondly, in opposition to the Protestants, that even unwritten traditions are to be observed, for Scripture nowhere orders the Lord’s Day to be kept instead of the Sabbath.

S. Thomas and Cajetan think that each one of the faithful is here bidden to lay by at home, each Lord’s Day, his offering, and give it in the church, not on that day, but later on, when it was to be sent to the poor of Jerusalem. But the practice of the Church shows that the opposite is meant, viz., that the oblations should be offered at the altar each Lord’s Day, and the same thing is shown by the words that follow, “that there be no gatherings when I come.” He wishes, then, these offerings to be put by each Lord’s Day, before the supper and the agape, and then, when the Eucharist was celebrated in the church, to be collected as alms. Notice that “to lay by in store” is in Greek “to treasure up,” for he who treasures up for the poor lays up treasure for himself in heaven.

Ver. 3.—I will send your liberality to Jerusalem. Œcumenius points out that he does not here speak of alms, as he might truly have done, because the name of alms is degrading and insulting to the saints who were to receive them, but he uses a more polite term—liberality, kindness, blessing.

And if it be meet that I go also they shall go with me. S. Paul stirs up the Corinthians by these words to make a larger collection, one large enough to be fit for him to take.

Ver. 8.—I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. Viz., because at Ephesus was the famous temple of Diana, and because the chief men of Asia Minor lived there. Hence the Proconsul of Asia Minor resided at Ephesus, and, as Philostratus says (Vita Apollonii, lib. viii.), learning flourished there most; and, therefore, there was a greater harvest for S. Paul, and this was what determined him to stay so long there.

Ver. 9.—A great door … is opened unto me. A great opportunity of preaching the Gospel and of converting many. So Ambrose.

Ver. 14.—Let all your things be done with charity. This, according to some, is not supernatural charity, but the sincere affection which penitents or even unbelievers can possess. But this is not the charity which Scripture and S. Paul commend to the faithful, but merely such natural love as pagans have. The sense properly speaking is therefore: “Do all your works, O Corinthians, not from ambition, nor from contention or schism, as I told you in chaps, 2 and 14, but in Christian charity, which is a Divine virtue infused into you by Christ.” This is partly a precept, partly a counsel of perfection, as was pointed out in the notes to chap. 10:31.

Ver. 15.—I beseech you, brethren, &c. Theophylact arranges this verse and the next in this way: I beseech you, brethren, that ye submit yourselves to Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaiacus, and to every one that works with them and labours; for ye know their house (i.e., houses or families), that they are the firstfruits of Achaia (viz., that they were the first in Achaia to believe on Christ), and that they have devoted themselves and all that they have to the ministering to the saints (i.e., in showing hospitality to needy Christians and to strangers, and especially those who labour in the Gospel). The submission enjoined here would consist in showing honour, and in following their exhortations and good example. The fellow-labourers are those who helped the men mentioned above in their Christian work.

Ver. 17.—I am glad of the presence of Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaiacus. (1.) According to Anselm this presence means the presence of these men with the Corinthians to supply, teach, and strengthen them in the faith. (2.) According to Theophylact it is the presence of these men with S. Paul, to supply him with what he needed for his ministry from their own resources, and so to help forward the cause of Christ. This is undoubtedly S. Paul’s meaning, and suits better with what follows.

Ver. 18.—For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. What refreshes me refreshes you. Theophylact thinks that these men were so warmly commended to the Corinthians, to prevent them from being trented coldly or severely for having brought to S. Paul news of the divisions and backslidings of the Corinthians.

Ver. 22.—If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema. “Anathema” denotes anything separated by a curse, thrown away, and destined for utter destruction. In the case of men it denotes, therefore, eternal damnation. These are not words of excommunication merely, but of cursing, and of denunciation of eternal damnation against unbelievers and all who love not Christ. Cf. notes on Rom. 9:3. Next to “anathema” was reckoned “katathema,” which was a term applied to those who allied themselves to persons under condemnation. Hence Justin (qu. 121) says: “ ‘Anathema” denotes anything laid aside and set apart for God, and no longer put to common uses, or what has been cut off from God because of its vice or guilt. ‘Katathema’ is applied to those who consent to men under anathema, or who devote themselves to the gods below.”

Maran-atha. This is properly two words. Erasmus thinks it is the same as “anathema,” and he compares with its use here, “Abba Father.” But he is mistaken: the words are Hebrew-Syriac, and signify, “The Lord has come.” The first part is still in common use among the Christian churches of India and Babylon, which look to S. Thomas as their founder, and is applied to their bishops, as Mar Simeon, Mar Joseph, &c. But what has the phrase, “the Lord has come,” to do with the context here? Chrysostom and Theophylact say that S. Paul uses this word in order to point to Christ’s coming in our flesh, and His charity, to stimulate us to endeavour to come to every degree of virtue, and, as S. Jerome says, to hint that it is foolish to contend any longer by wanton hatred of one another against Him who, as every one knows, has now come. S. Chrysostom says, further, that the reason why S. Paul denounces anathema against those who love not Jesus is, that He has now come in His humility to save, so that there is now no excuse for not loving Him; for the Incarnation and Passion of Christ so win our love that the man who does not love Him is unworthy of pardon.

But this explanation seems too forced. Notice, then, that “Maran-atha” is a Syro-Hebraic phrase, which, with Amen, Hosanna, and Alleluia, has been transliterated into other languages. Cf. S. Jerome (Ep. 137 ad Marcellam) and S. Augustine (Ep. 178). And so S. Paul adds here, after “Anathema,” “Maran-atha,” because the Hebrews, when passing sentence on any one, were in the habit of invoking the Divine justice to confirm their own. Cf. Dan. 13:55 and 59 (Vulg.), and Ps. 9:19. It is, then, a prayer: “May the Lord come as Judge to punish him who loves not Christ.”

Notice again that by a euphemism the Hebrews commonly let this punishment be understood. Their usual formula is, “May God do so to me and more also,” without specifying the particular form of punishment that they wish to call down on themselves if they break their oath. They do this out of reverence for an oath, and from the fear that the curse, if openly expressed, may fall upon them in some way, just as among us now-a-days, when any one is enraged and falls to cursing, or calling down on his friend some dreadful disaster, he will by-and-bye add: “God avert this!” “God forbid it!” “God protect us!” Similarly, when it is here said, “The Lord is coming,” or, “May the Lord come,” supply “to judgment,” viz., to inflict everlasting punishment on unbelievers and the enemies of Christ. Anselm says: “If any one love not the Lord Jesus Christ, as His first coming is of no use to him, so neither will His second coming to judgment be.” The explanation of Titelman is the same: “Let him be anathema in the coming of the Lord to judgment.” S. Clement, too, seems to interpret “Maran-atha” in the same way (Ep. 2 in Fine), when, in allusion to this passage, he says: “This, my brother James, have I heard enjoined by the mouth of S. Peter: ‘If any one keep not these precepts entire, let him be anathema till the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ ” What else explains these last words but the “Maran-atha” of SS. Peter and Paul?

S. Paul refers here to the last verse of the prophecy of Malachi. “lest I come and smite the earth with a curse,” and primarily to the Book of Enoch, quoted by S. Jude in his epistle (vers. 14 and 15): “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly,” &c.

Ver. 24.—My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. May the love that I bear you flow back to me and towards each other for Christ’s sake. Amen.








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