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An Exposition Of the Epistles Of Saint Paul And Of The Catholic Epistles Volumes 1&2

Analysis

The Apostle and St. Barnabas, whose mission was to be exercised among the Gentiles, were charged by the first Council of Jerusalem, with the collection of alms from the other churches for the afflicted poor of that Church, who, in consequence of having embraced the faith, suffered the greatest persecution from their fellow-countrymen, including the loss of their worldly substance (Hebrews, 10:34). In the first four verses of this chapter, the Apostle reminds the Corinthians of this collection, and points out the mode of carrying it into execution, and of transmitting it to its destination (1–5). He next discloses his purpose of visiting them, and of remaining with them for some time (5–10). He commends Timothy to them, and requests of them to treat him in such a way as to render him free from molestation; to respect him as his own co-operator, and, at parting, to escort him and supply him with the necessary viatic (10, 11). He apologizes for not sending Apollo, whom the Apostle earnestly besought to visit them; but, Apollo himself declined doing so. He devotes the remainder of this chapter to moral exhortations, on the subject of constant, persevering faith, charity, reverence for good men (13, &c.); and finally, closes with salutations, and with inculcating the love of Jesus Christ.

Paraphrase

1. With regard to the collection of the alms which is made for the relief of the poor plundered Christians of Jerusalem, follow the same method which I have marked out for the guidance of the churches of Galatia.

2. On Sunday, let each of you, when coming to the church, carry with him whatever it may please him to give, according to the means with which God prospered him, treasuring it up for the poor; in order that when I come, the collection may be completed, and there be no delay in having it transmitted to Judea.

3. But when I shall have come to you, whomsoever you shall select as the fittest persons for this purpose, these I shall send with commendatory letters, to carry your liberal and generous contributions to the afflicted poor of Jerusalem.

4. But, should the sum contributed be such, as not to be beneath the dignity of an Apostle to be its bearer, those whom you will have selected shall accompany me.

5. But after having passed through Macedonia, I will come to you, for I will make my passage through Macedonia.

6. But my stay with you shall be of some continuance, perhaps for the winter, so that you may afterwards escort me when leaving you.

7. For I wish to see you, not merely in a passing way; I expect that I may be enabled to prolong my stay, if the Lord permit me.

8. In the meantime, I will continue at Ephesus until Pentecost.

9. For I have great and evident hopes of an abundant harvest of conversions to the faith in this great city. But I have to encounter great difficulties in accomplishing this holy work, from the numerous adversaries who are endeavouring to impede the progress of the gospel.

10. But should Timothy come amongst you, take care that he enjoy perfect security, and that he have no cause for fear; for he is my colleague and co-operator in promoting the divine work of the gospel.

11. Let no one then despise him on account of his youth. But do you take care to escort him honourably when leaving you, that he may come to me, for I expect him with the brethren.

12. But as to our brother Apollo, whose presence you anxiously desire, I wish to inform you that I earnestly besought him to go to you, accompanied by the brethren; but for some reasons, he does not wish to go to you at present; he will, however, go when he has leisure and opportunity.

13. In the meantime, until we come to you, be on the watch against the snares of your spiritual enemies, and attend to the business of your salvation. Persevere in the faith you have received from us, display true manly courage and invincible constancy in bearing up against the persecutors of your faith, be they Jews or Gentiles.

14. Let all your actions be performed not from any factious or contentious spirit, but from a spirit of charity, which is the secret bond of concord and union.

15. Brethren, you know the families of Stephanas, of Fortunatus, and of Achaicus, that they are the first fruits of Achaia, who embraced the faith, and that they have entirely devoted themselves to the service of the poor Christians, by exercising hospitality towards them, and ministering to their wants and several necessities.

16. I entreat you, therefore, to reverence such persons, by ranging yourselves under their holy standard, and attending to their admonitions and example, and to the admonitions of every one else, who co-operates and labours in promoting the holy work of the gospel. Such persons deserve special honour.

17. The arrival of Fortunatus, Stephanas, and Achaicus, has been to me a source of joy and delight; for, as your representatives, they have made up for your absence, whose presence I so ardently desire.

18. For, by their assiduities in attending to my wants, they have refreshed my spirit, and consequently yours also, who are identified with me in heart and feeling, and I am all yours. Pay particular honour and respect to such persons.

19. The Churches of Asia Minor salute you. My kind hosts, Aquila and Priscilla, with the other faithful members of the same family, anxiously salute you in the Lord.

20. All the faithful salute you. Embrace one another with that holy kiss, which is a symbol of chaste and Christian love.

21. I, Paul, salute you, and this salutation I subscribe with my own hand.

22. If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema. Maran Atha.

23. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (This is the salutation signed with his own hand).

24. I sincerely love you all in Christ Jesus—or, may the charity, with which I love you all in Christ Jesus, so continue with you, as to provoke mutual love from you in Christ Jesus.

Commentary

1. “Collections,” in Greek, collection, “that are made for the saints;” “are made,” is not in the Greek, which runs thus: περὶ τῆς λογίας, τῆς εἰς τους ἁγίους, “concerning the collection, that for the saints,” i.e., which is being made, or, is to be made “for the saints,” i.e., the poor of Jerusalem, who were plundered of their property, in consequence of having embraced the faith. Paul and Barnabas were charged with collecting alms for them.—(Galatians, 2:10). “As I have given order.” That is, follow the plan of collection which I have prescribed for the churches of Galatia. He marks out the plan of collection; the sum to be given, he leaves to their own generosity.

2. “On the first day of the week.” (In the Greek, κατὰ μίαν σαββατου, on the one of the Sabbath; day, is not in the text, but it is understood. The Cardinal number “one” is put, after the Hebrew custom, for the ordinal, first). “Sabbath” is put for the “week,” as expressed in our version; because the Sabbath was the principal day of the week among the Jews. The first day of the Sabbath, or week, corresponds with our Sunday. This was the day on which the people assembled together in the church, and on it, they made their offerings for the poor. Some Commentators, particularly the Greeks, understand this verse to mean—let each person, on Sunday, lay aside whatever he may please, treasuring it up at home in some private coffer, to be afterwards given in the public collection. This interpretation, although it would appear, at the first reading of the text, to be the true one, still seems improbable; because the Apostle’s object in advising this course is, that by this means the collection would be completed when he comes. Again, the usage of the Church, at all times, has been to make oblations on Sundays, at the altar. Hence, the interpretation of A’Lapide is preferred in the Paraphrase—“laying up.” The Greek is θησαυρίζων, treasuring up.

The words of this verse supply a probable argument, that the solemnity of the Christian Sabbath has been transferred by the Apostles to Sunday; since St. Paul fixes on it, as the day for making the collections, when the faithful assemble to celebrate the divine mysteries. This transfer of the day is implied here, and is supposed to have already occurred. We have no certain authority, however, for the fact of such translation of the Christian Sabbath, except Tradition.

3. “By letters.” Some interpreters connect these words with the preceding, thus:—Whomsoever you shall approve by letters, which you shall give them, those will I send. The connexion in the Paraphrase, which connects “by letters” with “I will send,” although the punctuation of the Vulgate would connect it with the preceding (Estius is also of the same opinion), is preferable. “Your grace.” Such is the delicate term by which he designates their contribution; he abstains from calling it, alms, as this latter term might not be so agreeable to the feelings of the saints for whom it was destined.

4. By this he stimulates their generosity. If the sum contributed be worthy of the ministry of an Apostle, he will go himself; but, still, to guard against the remotest ground for adverse suspicion, he says he will not be the sole bearer of it; the others shall accompany him. What an edifying example of Apostolic prudence is set here before such as have charge of ecclesiastical funds. With what caution should they guard against the remotest suspicion of appropriating to themselves, directly or indirectly, or to the wants of greedy relatives, the patrimony of the poor. They should, in every instance, have others associated with them, in charge of ecclesiastical property.

5. He addresses them here as devoted friends, and acquaints them with his intentions with regard to the future. It is disputed whether he fulfilled this promise or not. It is most likely that he did, and that he remained some time at Corinth. At all events, his words are true, as expressing his present purpose and determination.

6. He expresses his desire that his advent amongst them may be of longer duration than the passing visit, which he intends paying to the Churches of Macedonia; he says “perhaps,” on account of the uncertainty of the event.

7. “For I trust.” In the common Greek ελπιζω δε, “but I trust.” The causal particle, γαρ, is preferred by the best critics, and found in the chief MSS. “If the Lord permit.” The chief MSS. have the future, ἐπιτρέψῃ. This the Apostle adds because, he knew not whether it might be God’s will or not, that he should remain.

8. “I will remain at Ephesus.” Hence it is inferred, that this Epistle was written from Ephesus. “Until Pentecost.” The Jewish festival—a time well known to both Jews and Gentiles; and thus, they well knew how long he was determined to remain at Ephesus. It is well remarked by Estius, that the computation of time among the Jews bespoke more their religious feelings, than does that which obtains among Christians, the names of whose months and days may be traced back to the errors of Paganism. Among the Jews, the days of the week were traced from Sabbath to Sabbath. The first of the Sabbath; the second of the Sabbath; third, &c. Similar is the arrangement, which takes place in the Ecclesiastical computation—Feria 2da—3tia, &c.

9. “A door.” That is, a great opportunity of promoting the cause of the gospel. Some say, this opportunity was grounded on the preparation of the hearts of all to receive the gospel. Cajetan conjectures, it might be owing to the conversion of some leading persons, whose example would stimulate others. Baronius is of opinion, that it arose from the circumstance of the place itself, it being the capital of Asia Minor, famed for the famous Temple of Diana, and the seat of the proconsul. “Evident;” for this we have in the Greek ἐνεργὴς, effective, or ripe for the good work; but the word “evident” better suits the term “door,” and means, a distinguished opportunity of good. “And many adversaries,” a cause for longer stay. These, probably, refer to the Jews, who were numerous in Ephesus, and were always the most violent and bitterest enemies of the gospel. These are, probably, the “beasts” referred to.—(1 Eph. 15:32).

How admirable the zeal of the Apostle, which no toils can relax, and the intrepidity, which no dangers can appal!

10. Timothy was sent to them by St. Paul to remind them of his own mode of living (4:17). The Apostle expresses a desire that he would “be without fear,” i.e., free from molestation, arising from unmeaning opposition.

11. “Let no man despise him.” Timothy was a young man, and the Corinthians, whom he was to govern, very haughty. They should honour him, as the fellow-labourer of the Apostle. “But conduct ye him in peace.” Escort him upon leaving, securely and honourably: supplying him with a suitable viatic and outfit, so as to reach the Apostle at Ephesus.

12. He excuses himself in this verse for sending to them Timothy, a young man, instead of Apollo, who was much esteemed by them. The Apostle says he entreated the latter to go, and that he would by no means consent to do so, for certain reasons; but, that hereafter he would go.

13. “Watch ye.” In consequence of being in the midst of snares and temptations. “Stand fast in the faith.” On account of the false teachers, who endeavour to corrupt it. “And be strengthened” (“and” is not in the Greek), on account of the trials and crosses they were doomed to bear.

14. “Let all your actions,” and thus you will put an end to factions and contentions. These words are to be explained in the sense given to 1 Ep. 10:31.—(See also the meaning given to “Charity” chap. 13 of this same Epistle).

15. “And I beseech you, brethren.” These words are to be immediately connected with the words of next verse—“that you be subject,” &c. (as in Paraphrase). The intermediate words—“you know … and have dedicated themselves,” &c., serving as a reason why he beseeches them to be subject to such persons. “The house of Stephanas, Fortunatus,” &c. Fortunatus and Achaicus, are not in the Greek.

16. “That you be subject to such.” The word for “subject,” ὑποτασσησθε, conveys the idea of ranging themselves under the banners beneath which Fortunatus, Achaicus, and Stephanas were ranged. (This is conveyed by the Greek word for “dedicated” in the preceding verse, εταξαν,) viz., the banners of charity and good works of mercy to the poor.

17. The Apostle is urgent in procuring the respect of the Corinthians for these men, lest any feeling of bitterness might be entertained for them on account of having informed him of the abuses that prevailed at Corinth. The Greek, επι τῃ παροῦσία, should, probably, be translated, at the arrival; for they went to Ephesus to see the Apostle. “That which was wanting on your part,” το ὑμῶν ὑστερημα, &c. They made up for the absence of the Corinthians, because the people of Corinth were represented and present in them. Or, it may refer to their aiding the Apostle in a pecuniary way, and relieving his wants. In this sense, verse, 18, is to be understood.

19. “With whom also I lodge.” These words are wanting in the Greek, and in many of the best Latin editions. Some critics think they are not of the text. From the Acts of the Apostles, we learn that St. Paul, while at Corinth, lodged with Aquila and Priscilla; but, we find nothing of the kind said of him, when at Ephesus. They are, however, found in the MSS. of Clermont and St. Germain.

21. The rest of the Epistle is supposed to have been dictated by him to an amanuensis.

22. Before giving his salutation, which is expressed in verse 23, the Apostle interposes this impassioned denunciation of eternal damnation—this execration of anathema, or separation from Christ, against “such as love not Jesus Christ.” These words, “love not,” are understood by some in a positive sense, as implying hatred of Christ, and they confine the words to the Jews, who, while they anathematized Christ, deserve this same sentence of anathema, pronounced against themselves by the Apostle. St. Thomas favours this interpretation; for, he understands the words to refer to heretics and infidels—Who love not (THE FAITH) of our Lord Jesus Christ. Others understand the words to refer to the absence of the love of God manifested by the violation of his commandments; and these extend the execratory sentence to all the sinners of every class referred to, throughout this Epistle. The plenitude of divine love, with which the Apostle was filled, inspires him on a sudden with this denunciatory sentence.

“Anathema,” with the penultimate syllable short, (ε).—The Septuagint translation for charma, from the Hebrew root, cherem—means a separation, or a thing separated from human uses, as execrable, and abominable, and worthy of extermination, without a vestige of it being left. In this sense, the word, anathematize, was applied, in the Old Testament, to the Chanaanite nations given over for destruction to the Jews. In reference to men, anathema meant, eternal damnation.—(See Romans, 9:3). When the penultimate syllable is long with an (η) (αναθημα), the word denotes a votive offering. In this sense, it is employed only once in the New Testament.—(Luke, 21:5).

“Maran Atha.” These words are of a mixed Hebrew and Syriac origin, signifying, our Lord cometh. They are used by the Apostle in accordance with the Jewish custom after condemning any person, of threatening the judgment of God as immediately following. Hence, the words of this verse mean:—“Let him be anathema,” and the Lord himself has come, as judge, to execute this judgment; to his just judgment is such a sinner to be remitted. Others understand the words to mean, may our Lord come to execute this judgment; for, “Maran Atha,” like anathema, is a word of execration and condemnation.

23. In this verse is conveyed the Apostle’s own salutation, which he interrupted by the impassioned denunciation contained in verse 22.

24. The first interpretation in the Paraphrase is to be adopted, if we read the present tense “is,” i.e., my charity is with you; or, “I sincerely love you,” &c., as in Paraphrase. The second, if we read it, optatively.

The ordinary Greek copies have the following subscription: “The first to the Corinthians was written from Philippi by Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus, and Timotheus.” This is rejected by critics, being wanting in the chief MSS. And that the letter was written, not from Philippi, but from Ephesus, may be clearly inferred from verse, 8, of this chapter. The Codex Vaticanus has: Written to the Corinthians from Ephesus.








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