« PreviousContinue »
against it. It is more probable that he refers to what has already been said in the present epistle. The text w admits of being rendered-"I had written to you in this Epistle" (Whitby); or, "I have been writing to you" (Bp. Middleton); or, "I have (already or just) written to you" (Bloomfield).
1 Matt, 6. 39. Luke 6. 29. Rom. 12. 19.
11 And such were 'some of you: but ye | are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not 'expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.
14 And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.
15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the
* Tit. 3. 3.
9 Chap. 10. 23.
members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for 'two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
Chap. 3. 16.
• Or, profitable.
7 Chap. 7. 23.
Verse 1. "Dare any of you.... go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?"-Michaelis and others have taken some pains to show that the Jews enjoyed the privilege which the Christians are here enjoined to exercise-that of settling their own differences among themselves. Vitringa quotes a law of Arcadius and Honorius, by which the Jews are indeed forbidden to hold courts of judicature; but were permitted to have arbitrators, elected by the consent of both parties, whose decisions the Roman magistrates were bound to support and execute. As the Jews possessed this privilege so long after the destruction of Jerusalem, we may conclude that they enjoyed it before that time in still greater extent. And this inference is supported by a much more ancient Rescript of Lucius Antonius to the Sardinians, in which the privilege is represented as having been enjoyed by the Jews, and is further secured to them. The words of the Rescript, as quoted by Josephus, are as follows:-"The Jews have represented to me that they have had, from the very beginning, their own assembly, according to the custom of their ancestors, and their own place, where they settled disputes among themselves. As they have now requested that the same be further granted to them, I have determined that leave be given to them. It appears also from Tanchuma, fol. 92. 2, that the Jews had a law among themselves, by which all Israelites were bound, in case of any litigation, not to bring their disputes before any heathen tribunal. From these facts, as connected with the present text, it has been inferred that the Christians, being many of them Jews, and confounded with them, enjoyed the same privilege in this matter as they did. The facts are interesting, as showing the reluctance which Jews felt to go to heathen tribunals, and the exemption which they enjoyed. And as we believe that those Jews who were converted to Christianity, continued at this time to be looked upon as Jews by the heathen, we might conclude that the Apostle reproaches them for having dropped their own custom, if we were certain that he now addresses the Jewish portion of the Corinthian church. But if, as we rather think, he refers to the conduct of the Gentile converts, we have no reason to suppose that their civil position was modified by their having embraced the Christian faith, even although that faith were considered to give them a religious connection with the Jews. We are therefore disposed to understand the text quite independently of the facts we have stated. There never was a law on earth to oblige persons to appeal to a magistrate, if they were able to settle their differences among themselves, or by arbitrators of their own choosing-so long as they have no desire to enforce their conclusion by such measures as the civil power only could authorize. This, we believe, is what the Apostle counsels them to do, and reproves them for not doing: and to do this no authority or privilege from the civil government was necessary; although this could not be dispensed with by the Jews, when they desired that the conclusions of their arbitrators should have the force and effect of a judicial decision.
18. "Flee fornication."-The frequent cautions against lewdness, which the apostle gives to the Corinthian converts, are explained and illustrated by the character of Corinth,-notorious, even among the heathen, for the dissolute conduct of its inhabitants, and their abandonment to every kind of sensuality and voluptuous indulgence. The heathen world in general regarded the indulgence of the sensual appetites as a matter in itself indifferent; but even heathen morality was shocked at the proverbial excesses of Corinth. Indeed, what could be expected of the state of society in a town which possessed a temple to Venus, in which a thousand women were kept in honour of the goddess, and ministered to the gratification of her adorers? Such abandoned worship was not only in itself sufficient to corrupt a city but secured to it the further corruption which it derived from the continual arrival of dissolute strangers, who came from all parts to visit this unholy temple. Considering, therefore, the loose principles in which the native converts had been brought up, the temptations by which they were surrounded, and the vague ideas concerning Christian liberty which they entertained, we can easily understand the deep anxiety which St. Paul experienced, and his frequent and earnest representations on this subject.
depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.
16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whe ther thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.
1 Matt. 5. 32, and 19, 9. Mark 10. 11. Luke 16. 18.
26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present 'distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.
27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seck not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife?
seek not a wife.
28 But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.
29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;
20 And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;
31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it for the fashion of this world passeth away.
32 But I would have you without care
3 Gr. made free.
Chap. 6. 20.
2 Gr. in, peace.
fulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.
34 There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.
36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin,
6 Rom. 7. 2.
Verse 1. "Concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me.”—Of these things he first considers the question of matrimony from which it appears that the Corinthian church (or at least a party of it) had written to consult him on the subject. It is difficult to ascertain what their opinions were in this matter; but taking the question as here stated, in connection with the nature of the disputes which distracted the church at Corinth, it may appear that, since the Jewish Christians were disposed to inculcate the necessity of marriage as an imperative and indispensable duty, the Gentile party were inclined to run into an opposite extreme, and insist on the superior advantages of celibacy, which it appears they justified by St. Paul's example, and also recommended to others. It would seem as if some went so far, that, although married, they resolved to practise a continual continency. The apostle answers that, in this matter, every one might act as he felt to be the best for himself; but seems to incline to the opinion that, under the circumstances of persecution and distress to which Christians were then exposed, it would be better for those to remain single who felt no constraining inducements to matrimony.
19. "Circumcision is nothing."—It is a fact that circumcision was not considered, even by the Jews, as absolutely indispensable for an Israelite. Hence, in their writings, we read of uncircumcised Israelites in full enjoyment of their religious privileges, and even of uncircumcised priests, who were not, by the want of circumcision, disqualified from discharging their sacerdotal functions. The principal cause of this was, when there was reason to apprehend that the child could not bear the operation, and that it might cost him his life. Thus it was rarely ventured to circumcise a child if three or four of his brothers had previously died from the effects of the operation. Hence we read (T. Hieros. Jevamoth, fol. 7. 4.), “ An uncircumcised Israelite is he whose brethren died of circumcision: and yet he is an Israelite, although uncircumcised. For the Israelites are not bound to perform the precepts where death will certainly follow; for it is said, 'Laws, which if a man shall observe them, he shall even live in them,' not that he die in them." We are not, however, to infer that the Jews would have concurred in the apostle's estimate of circumcision: for although they made allowance in such cases, they were so far from holding that "circumcision was nothing," that they rather considered all things else as nothing without it.
21. "If thou mayest be made free, use it rather.”—The slaves among the Greeks and Romans, and particularly the latter, seem, upon the whole, to have been much less favourably circumstanced than in the East. The power of the master over them was equally absolute, and much more tyrannically exercised. A Christian also must, as such, have experienced many difficulties in the service of a heathen master. Hence, while the apostle counsels them to "care not for it," he adds, that it would be better, if possible, to obtain their freedom. The early Christians felt all this; and hence we learn from the Apologies' of Justin Martyr and Tertullian, that, as far as their means allowed, they exercised their charity in purchasing the freedom of such of their brethren as were in the condition of slaves.
36. "Behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin.”—Some think that the word rendered "virgin" means generally the virgin state, applicable to either sex, and therefore equivalent to our "single person." But it has been justly objected, that there is no authority for this interpretation; and that the ordinary use of the term, as well as the clear connection of the passage, requires us to read, "his virgin daughter," not "his virginity." The passage therefore refers to the case of a father, considering the marriage of his daughter, who had become marriageable. This must have been a matter of great anxiety to the parent; so much so, indeed, that it could not but form part of the apostle's consideration of the whole question. It should be recollected that celibacy was not in the East, and particularly among the Jews, reputable for either sex, and least so for females; and the discredit of the unmarried woman involved a serious discredit to her parent, as one who had not properly performed his duty by her, in using every exertion to get her married. Indeed, a man who allowed his daughter to remain unmarried, was considered as criminal as if he were a party to her prostitution: and to avoid the disgrace of having an unmarried daughter, he was even counselled to manumit his slave and marry her to him. Compare Ecclus. xlii. 9: "The father waketh for the daughter, when no man knoweth; and the care for her taketh away sleep: when she is young, lest she pass the flower of her age; and, being married, lest she should be hated," &c.
The feeling on the general subject, was not so strong among the Greeks and Romans as in the East; and many philosophers of high name taught that, to men, the single life might be recommended as the most free from care and the most favourable to the cultivation of knowledge. But even in Europe the celibacy of females was not advocated. For them marriage was on all hands allowed to be the most suitable condition, and a single life was not by any means free from reproach.
2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.
4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that 'an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
1 Chap. 10. 19. 2 Or, for him, Rom. 11. 36.
6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of your's become a stumbling block to them that are weak.
10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple. shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things 1 which are offered to idols;
11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
4 Or, have we the less.
• Gr. edified.
Or, have we the more.