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

Introduction

CANONICITY OF.—The Canonicity, or Divine authority of this Epistle, has never been called in question in the Church. Hence, in the Canon of Scriptures, it is classed among the books termed, Proto-Canonical.

There has been no difference of opinion about the language of it either. It is universally admitted to have been written in Greek.

TIME AND PLACE OF.—It is generally supposed to have been written about the year 57—the same year in which the preceding Epistle was written, but a few months after it. The place where it was written is generally supposed to have been Philippi in Macedonia. This is asserted by the subscriptions of the Greek copies. Baronius states, however, that it was written from Nicopolis in Epirus.

OCCASION OF.—The Apostle had, in his former Epistle, promised to visit the Corinthians—a promise, however, he was prevented from fulfilling by duties of importance. And although, as he learned from Titus, whom he sent to Corinth, his former Epistle was attended with partial success; still, he was informed, that the false teachers, who insinuated themselves amongst the Corinthians, offended at the holy liberty with which they were rebuked by him, endeavoured by all means to alienate the minds of the people from him. They charged him with fickleness and irresolution—with tyranny, as instanced in his treatment of the incestuous man—with indulging in self-praise—with arrogant haughtiness in his Epistles, so ill befitting the lowliness and seeming meanness of his personal appearance and conversation, when amongst them. The Apostle defends himself against these imputations. He clears himself of the charge of fickleness, and assigns satisfactory reasons for not appearing amongst them according to his promise. He shows that his treatment of the incestuous man was attended with the most salutary results; and finding that the excommunication had the desired effect of reforming the offender, he mildly instructs them, by way of request, to remove the censure and restore him to the communion of the faithful (chapters 1, 2). He repels the charge of indulging in self-praise, by retorting upon his enemies, and by showing that unlike them, he needed no recommendation with the Corinthians; and after contrasting the Apostolic ministry with that of Moses (chap. 3), and after pointing out the exalted virtues which the Apostles practised, together with the sufferings and persecutions they underwent for the Gospel (chap. 5, 6, 7) he refutes the charge of arrogance in his Epistle, by showing, that whether absent or present he always acted consistently, always with candour and sincerity, both in his words and actions—(chapter 10).

In his own defence, and from the strictest necessity, he enumerates the manifold labours and perils he underwent in the cause of the Gospel; the success with which his efforts were crowned; and, consequently, his claims to their confidence and affection in preference to the false teachers, whom all along, in the enumeration of his own services, he indirectly censures; and whom, moreover, in several passages, depicting in their true colours, he denounces in the strongest language. And as the false teachers had endeavoured to recommend themselves by putting forward their high-sounding titles, the Apostle, in order to counteract their wicked devices, enumerates the exalted titles and heavenly favours, wherein he might justly glory—(chapters 11 and 12).

He was informed that the collection in favour of the poor of Jerusalem, which he recommended in his former Epistle, was not yet made; he, therefore, exhorts them to the zealous discharge of this meritorious duty, and instructs them to perform it with liberality, promptitude, and cheerfulness. He proposes to them, as models in this respect, the poor churches of Macedonia—(chapters, 8 and 9). Finally, he exhorts them, under pain of the severest chastisements, to correct the faults to which they were still addicted—(chapter 13).

The chief object and general scope of this Epistle may be said briefly to consist in the defence of his own conduct and apostleship against the false teachers.

Commentators remark that this Epistle may be regarded as a perfect masterpiece of that solid and impassioned eloquence for which the writings of St. Paul are so remarkable.








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