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4. "Paradise."-Commentators are rather divided here. They cannot agree whether "Paradise" is here the same as the "third heaven," or another place; and they who agree that another place is to be understood, doubt whether it denotes the Garden of Eden or the place of departed souls. The most ancient interpretation, in which the most considerable modern commentators have been disposed to concur, is, that the unutterable things of the third heaven and of the place of departed souls, were successively manifested to the apostle.
7. "A thorn in the flesh."-There is no bodily complaint which man can suffer, no disease of mind which can befal him, nor any temptation to which he is subject, in which St. Paul's "thorn in the flesh” has not been sought. From all this, as well as from the nature of the thing, it is so evident that whatever may be offered on the subject must be the merest conjecture, that we do not feel it necessary to enter into the question. The pain inflicted by a sharp thorn or splinter, which has entered the flesh, is so acute, that it is almost everywhere found to supply a metaphor for expressing any severe anguish, whether of body or mind.
1 He threateneth severity, and the power of his apostleship against obstinate sinners. 5 And advising them to a trial of their faith, 7 and to a reformation of their sins before his coming, 11 he concludeth his epistle with a general exhortation and a prayer.
THIS is the third time I am coming to you. 'In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.
2 I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again I will not spare:
3 Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.
4 For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.
5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
1 Deut. 19. 15.
6 But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.
7 Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.
8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.
9 For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, eren your perfection.
10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.
11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
12 Greet one another with an holy kiss. 13 All the saints salute you.
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.
The second epistle to the Corinthians was written from Philippi, a city of Macedonia, by Titus and Lucas.
2 Or, with him.
3 Rom. 16. 16.
Verse 1. "This is the third time I am coming to you."-These words seem to imply that the writer had already been twice at Corinth. Yet we have no historical knowledge that St. Paul visited that city more than twice, and every note of time except this, which can be collected, plainly intimates that this, as well as the former Epistle, was written between his first and second visit. Moreover, from his first visit to Greece down to his first imprisonment at Rome, the apostle's time is fully accounted for, precluding the idea that any third journey to Corinth could be made or intended. If, therefore, the epistle was written after the second journey to Corinth, and in view and expectation of a third, it must have been written after his first imprisonment at Rome; that is, after the time to which the history extends. "When I first read over this Epistle, with the particular view of comparing it with the history," says Dr. Paley, "I own that I felt myself confounded by this text. It appeared to contradict the opinion which I had been led, from a great variety of circumstances, to form, concerning the date and occasion of this Epistle. At length, however, it occurred to my thoughts to inquire whether the passage did necessarily imply that St. Paul had visited Corinth twice; or whether, when he says, 'This is the third time I am coming unto you,' he might mean only that this was the third time he was ready, that he was prepared, that he intended to set out upon his journey to Corinth. I recollected that he had once before this proposed to visit Corinth, and had been disappointed in his purpose, which disappointment forms the subject of much apology and protestation in the first and second chapters of the Epistle. Now if the journey in which he had been disappointed was reckoned by him one of the times in which he was coming to them,' then the present would be the third time, i. e., of his being ready and prepared to come; although he had been actually at Corinth only once before. This conjecture being taken up, a further examination of the passage and the Epistle produced proofs which placed it beyond doubt." For these proofs, which seem to us quite satisfactory, we must be content to refer to Hora Paulinæ, ch. iv. No. xi. It is right to explain, however, that although we have taken Paley's clear exposition of the difficulty and its solution, the latter was by no means first discovered by him, the same having been given by some of the ancient and many of the modern commentators.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be
Gr. equals in years.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation. of Jesus Christ.
13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that 'beyond measure I persecuted the Church of God, and wasted it:
14 And profited in the Jews' religion above many my 'equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judæa which were in Christ:
23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. 24 And they glorified God in me.
8 Ephes, 3, 8.
• Or, returned.
GALATIANS. Of the Galatians, and the country which they occupied, some notice has been taken under Acts xvi. 6. The Gospel of Christ was first preached to the Galatians by St. Paul himself (Acts xvi. 6), who afterwards visited again the churches which he had planted among them (Acts xviii. 33). The first visit appears to have been about the year 49 or 50, and the second in 54 or 55. As the Epistle does not intimate that the apostle had been twice with them, it was probably written between the first and second visits. Indeed, it was the ancient opinion that this was the first in date of all the Epistles of St. Paul; and this opinion has been adopted and advocated, with his usual ability, by Michaelis. Even those who are not prepared to affirm that this was the most early of the Epistles, do yet generally allow that it was one of the earliest, and assign it dates ranging, for the most part, between the years we have just mentioned. That St. Paul complains how speedily the Galatians had been seduced from the simple doctrines which be taught, as well as the very character of the question which forms its principal subject, clearly demonstrate that the Epistle to the Galatians must take its place among the earliest of St. Paul's writings. The statement in the subscription, that it was written from Rome-that is, while Paul was a prisoner there is utterly unfounded, and does not claim the least attention.
Like many other of St. Paul's Epistles, the one now before us is chiefly occupied in opposing the disposition shown by the Christian converts to unite Judaism with Christianity; and since so much of the present Epistle is employed on the subject of circumcision, which point was sooner settled than many others, it is evident that it was written at an earlier stage of this great controversy than when the Epistles to the Corinthians and the Romans were composed. It appears, indeed, that one or more influential Christian Jews, probably from Jerusalem, had intruded into the Galatian church-which had been founded on the ideas of Christian liberty from the yoke of the Law, which St. Paul entertained—and taught the necessity of circumcision, and of obedience to the whole Law. They seem to have considered. with many others who stirred up the churches against St. Paul, that Christianity was merely a sect or modification of Judaism, which did not by any means dispense with the obligations of the Law, which they believed to be perpetual. This notion it was natural enough for Jews to entertain; and even some of the apostles appear to have relinquished it with difficulty. Indeed, it seems, in this age, to have been the hardest of all things for the Jewish Christians to understand that the new religion was an original, independent, and superseding revelation. St. Paul was constantly brought into contact with the class of feelings arising from such views since, as the apostle of the Gentiles, it became necessary to him to state the separate claims of Christianity broadly and distinctly. He had to tell the Gentile converts whether they were to obey the Law of Moses or not: whereas the apostles who laboured among the Jews, had not the subject equally pressed upon their attention, and did not feel it urgently necessary to teach their converts to discontinue that obedience to the Law which they had been accustomed to render. If the apostles of the circumcision permitted these things, as matters indifferent to those who were Jews, Paul felt that it behoved him not to allow that, which might thus be permitted to them as an indifferent thing, to be set up as a matter of necessity to the Gentiles. To require the Gentiles to conform to the Law of Moses, and above all to be circumcised, was to lay upon their shoulders a yoke very different from the easy one of Christ; and was calculated to hinder the progress of the Gospel among them. For Judaism was not adapted to general acceptance; and it must not be concealed that circumcision alone was a great bar to its adoption. For it is certain that the Gentiles had an invincible repugnance to the site; in which we may perhaps discover the reason for the remarkable fact, that while the female converts to Judaism were very numerous, the males were comparatively few.
Some of the other points which the Epistle offers to consideration may remind one of the misrepresentations concerning Paul which were circulated at Corinth. "The Epistle supposes," says Paley, "that certain designing adherents of the Jewish Law had crept into the churches of Galatia; and they had been endeavouring, and but too successfully, to persuade the Galatic converts that they had been taught the new religion imperfectly, and at second-hand; that the founder of their church himself possessed but an inferior and deputed commission, the seat of truth and authority being in the apostles and elders at Jerusalem; moreover, that whatever he might profess among them, he had himself, at other times and at other places, given way to the doctrine of circumcision." (Hora Paulinæ,' ch. v. No. 1.)
Verse 17. "I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus."-From this we learn an important circumstance, to which the Acts of the Apostles contain no allusion. But for this, we might suppose that, from the time of his conversion until he went to Jerusalem, Paul had remained entirely at Damascus; but we now know that in this time he had performed a journey into Arabia; we are not, however, informed to what part of Arabia he went, how long he remained, or what work he accomplished. It may seem probable that he went into Arabia Petræa, which adjoined that part of Syria in which Damascus is situated; and it may be well to remember that Damascus was at this time subject to an Arabian king. Doubtless, he preached the Gospel and planted churches in Arabia. That there were Christian churches in that country, in the ages following, is certain. The idea entertained by some, that St. Paul paid a short visit to Arabia for the sake of his health, is preposterous. Who, in Damascus, ever thought of going into Arabia on account of his health?
18. "After three years."- In the history (Acts ix.), the time which elapsed between Paul's conversion and his final departure from Damascus, is described as many days." If any one is disposed to question whether this popular phrase can properly be so extended as to mean "three years," he may turn to 1 Kings xi. 38, 39,-" And Shimei dwelt at Jerusalem many days: and it came to pass, at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away," &c.
1 He sheweth when he went up again to Jerusalem, and for what purpose: 3 and that Titus was not circumcised: 11 and that he resisted Peter, and told him the reason, 14 why he and other, being Jews, do believe in Christ to be justified by faith, and not by works: 20 and that they live not in sin, who are so justified.
THEN fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that Gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but 'privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy
1 Or, severally.
out our liberty which we have in Christ | Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
5 To whom we gave place by subjection, = no, not for an hour; that the truth of the Gospel might continue with you.
6 But of those who seemed to be somewhat, whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: 'God accepteth no man's person: for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:
7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the Gospel of the uncircumcision was com
mitted unto me, as the Gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles :)
9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
10 Only they would that we should re
2 Rom. 2.11.
member the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimu
14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
3 Rom. 3. 20.
18 For if I build again the things which destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness tome by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Verse 1. "Fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem."-Most commentators understand this to apply to the journey from Antioch to Jerusalem, which was made by Paul and Barnabas, upon the business of the Gentile converts; and which journey produced the famous apostolical council and decree recorded in Acts xv. Under this hypothesis a has been thought remarkable that Paul should here omit all mention of that decree, not only as it was the result of the journey, but because it was intimately connected with the question which he is now discussing. But any wonder at this may subside, when we reflect that his views on the subject of the non-observance of the law of Moses, went much further than that decree; and that he did not wish to encourage the Galatians to lean on the authority of any other apostle than himself. There still however remain some rather strong objections, which the reader may see in the Hora Pauline' of Dr. Paley, who himself is led by them to conclude that the present passage refers to sume journey to Jerusalem, previously undertaken, the mention of which is omitted in the Acts.
1 He asketh what moved them to leave the faith, and hang upon the law? 6 They that believe are justified, 9 and blessed with Abraham. 10 And this he sheweth by many reasons.
9. “Pillars.”—This title is often given by the Jewish writers to their eminent teachers. 11. "Peter."-There can be no reasonable doubt but that this was the apostle of that name: a leader in the church from St. Paul's rebuke, it was very anciently pretended that the person the apostle, but another man of the same name, who had been one of the seventy disciples. makes this statement; and Jerome mentions it as an opinion which some entertained.
O FOOLISH Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the
4 Have ye suffered 'so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
1 Or, so great. 2 Gen. 15. 6,
Yet, to save so eminent here mentioned was not Clemens (apud Euseb
5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
6 Even as 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, 'In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written,
3 Or, imputed. 4 Gen. 12. 3.