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FIRST EPISTLE OF ST. PAUL
WRIT IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 57, OF NERO 111,
SAINT Paul's first coming to Corinth was anno Christi 52, where he first applied himself to the synagogue, Acts xviii. 4. But finding them obstinate in their opposition to the gospel, he turned to the gentiles, ver. 6, out of whom this church at Corinth seems chiefly to be gathered, as appears, Acts xviii. and 1 Cor. xii. 2.
His stay here was about two years, as appears from Acts xviii. 11, 18, compared: in which time it may be concluded he made many converts; for he was not idle there, nor did he use to stay long in a place, where he was not encouraged by the success of his ministry. Besides what his so long abode in this one city, and his indefatigable labour every where, might induce one to presume, of the number of converts he made in that city; the scripture itself, Acts xviii. 10, gives sufficient evidence of a numerous church gathered there.
Corinth itself was a rich merchant-town, the inhabitants greeks, a people of quick parts, and inquisitive, 1 Cor. i. 22, but naturally vain and conceited of themselves.
These things considered may help us, in some measure, the better to understand St. Paul's epistles to this church, which seems to be in greater disorder, than any other of the churches which he writ to.
This epistle was writ to the corinthians, anno Christi 57, between two and three years after St. Paul had left them. In this interval, there was got in amongst them a new instructor, a jew by nation, who had raised a faction against St. Paul. With this party, whereof he was the leader, this false apostle had gained great authority, so that they admired and gloried in him, with an apparent disesteem and diminishing of St. Paul.
Why I suppose the opposition to be made to St. Paul, in this church, by one party, under one leader, I shall give the reasons, that make it probable to me, as they come in my way, going through these two epistles; which I shall leave to the reader to judge, without positively determining on either side; and therefore shall, as it happens, speak of these opposers of St. Paul, sometimes in the singular, and sometimes in the plural number.
This at least is evident, that the main design of St. Paul, in this epistle, is to support his own authority, dignity, and credit, with that part of the church which stuck to him; to vindicate himself from the aspersions and calumnies of the opposite party; to lessen the credit of the chief and leading men in it, by intimating their miscarriages, and showing their no cause of glorying, or being gloried in that so withdrawing their party from the admiration and esteem of those their leaders, he might break the faction; and putting an end to the division, might re-unite them with the uncorrupted part of the church, that they might all unanimously submit to the authority of his divine mission, and with one accord receive and keep the doctrine and directions he had delivered to them.
This is the whole subject from chap. i. 10, to the end of chap. vi. In the remaining part of this epistle, he answers some questions they had proposed to him, and resolves some doubts; not without a mixture, on all occasions, of reflections on his opposers, and of other things, that might tend to the breaking of their faction.
CHAP. I. 1-9.
1 PAUL, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother:
2 Unto the church of God, which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, both theirs and ours.
3 Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 PAUL. an apostle of Jesus Christ, called to be so by the will of God*, and Sosthenes † our brother in the 2 christian faith; To the church of God, which is at Corinth, to them that are separated from the rest of the world, by faith in Jesus Christ ‡, called to be saints, with all, that are every-where called by the name 3 of Jesus Christ §, their Lord ||, and ours. Favour and peace be unto you, from God our Father, and from
1 * St. Paul, in most of his epistles, mentions his being called to be an "apostle by the will of God;" which way of speaking being peculiar to him, we way suppose him therein to intimate his extraordinary and miraculous call, Acts ix, and his receiving the gospel by immediate revelation, Gal. i. 11, 12. For he doubted not of the will and providence of God governing all things.
+ Acts xviii. 17.
2 † Ηγιασμένοις ἐν Χρισῷ Ἰησῦ. "Sanctified in Christ Jesus," does not signify here, whose lives are pure and holy; for there were many, amongst those he writ to, who were quite otherwise; but, sanctified, signifies separate from the common state of mankind, to be the people of God, and to serve him. The Heathen world had revolted from the true God, to the service of idols and false gods, Rom. i. 18-25. The Jews being separated from this corrupted mass, to be the peculiar people of God, were called holy, Exod. xix. 5, 6. Numb. xv. 40. They being cast off, the professors of christianity were separated to be the people of God, and so became holy, 1 Pet. ii. 9, 10.
§ Επικαλέμενοι ὄνομα Χριςό, “ that are called christians; these Greek words being a periphrasis for christians, as is plain from the design of this verse. But he that is not satisfied with that, may see more proofs of it, in Dr. Hammond upon the place.
|| What the apostle means by, Lord, when he attributes it to Christ, vid, ch, viii. 6.