Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
DIRECTIONS AS TO THE
COLLECTION FOR THE
1. collection for the saints--at Jerusalem
and in Judea
(Ac 11:29, 30; 24:17;
2Co 8:4; 9:1, 12).
He says "saints" rather than "the poor," to remind the Corinthians that
in giving, it is to the Lord's people, their own brethren in
the faith. Towards the close of the national existence of the Jews,
Judea and Jerusalem were harassed with various troubles, which in part
affected the Jewish Christians. The community of goods which existed
among them for a time gave temporary relief but tended ultimately to
impoverish all by paralyzing individual exertion
and hence was soon discontinued. A beautiful fruit of grace it was,
that he who had by persecutions robbed many of their all
should become the foremost in exertions for their relief.
as I have given--rather, "gave order," namely, during my
journey through Galatia, that mentioned in
The churches of Galatia and Phrygia were the last which Paul visited
before writing this Epistle. He was now at Ephesus, and came thither
immediately from visiting them
(Ac 18:23; 19:1).
That he had not been silent in Galatia on contributions for the poor,
appears from the hint let fall in his Epistle to that church
an undesigned coincidence and mark of genuineness [PALEY, Horæ Paulinæ]. He proposes the
Galatians as an example to the Corinthians, the Corinthians to the
Macedonians, the Corinthians and Macedonians to the Romans
(Ro 15:26, 27;
There is great force in example.
2. first day of . . . week--already kept sacred by Christians as the
day of the Lord's resurrection, the beginning day both of the physical
and of the new spiritual creations: it gradually superseded the Jewish
sabbath on the seventh day
Joh 20:19, 26;
So the beginning of the year was changed from autumn to spring when
Israel was brought out of Egypt. Three annual feasts, all typical of
Christian truths, were directed to be kept on the first day of the
week: the feast of the wave offering of the first sheaf, answering to
the Lord's resurrection; Pentecost, or the feast of weeks, typical of
the fruits of the resurrection in the Christian Church
(Le 23:11, 15, 16, 36);
the feast of tabernacles at harvest, typical of the ingathering of the
full number of the elect from one end of heaven to the other. Easter
was directed to be kept as a holy sabbath
The Christian Sabbath commemorates the respective works of the Three
Persons of the Triune God--creation, redemption (the resurrection), and
sanctification (on Pentecost the Holy Ghost being poured out). Jesus
came to fulfil the Spirit of the Law, not to cancel it, or to lower its
standard. The primary object of the sabbath is holiness, not
merely rest: "Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day."
"God blessed and sanctified it, because . . .
in it He had rested," &c. The word "Remember" implies that it was in
existence before the giving of the law from Sinai, and refers to
its institution in Paradise (compare
Ex 16:22, 23, 26, 30).
"Six days shalt thou labor": the spirit of the command is
fulfilled whether the six days' labor be on the last six days or on the
first. A perpetual sabbath would doubtless be the highest Christian
ideal; but living in a world of business where the Christian ideal is
not yet realized, if a law of definite times was necessary in Paradise,
it is still more so now.
every one of yon--even those in limited circumstances.
lay by him--though there be not a weekly public collection, each is
privately to set apart a definite proportion of his weekly income for the Lord's cause and charity.
in store--abundantly: the earnest of a better store laid up for the
as God hath prospered him--literally, "whatsoever he may be
prospered in," or "may by prosperity have acquired" [ALFORD],
that there be no gatherings when I come--that they may not then
have to be made, when your and my time ought to be employed m more
directly spiritual things. When men give once for all, not so much is
given. But when each lays by something every Lord's day, more is
collected than one would have given at once [BENGEL].
3. approve by your letters--rather translate, "Whomsoever ye shall
approve, them will I send with letters": namely, letters to several
persons at Jerusalem, which would be their credentials. There could be
no need of letters from them before Paul's coming, if the persons
recommended were not to be sent off before it. Literally, "by
letters"; an abbreviated expression for "I will send, recommending them
by letters" [GROTIUS].
If English Version be retained, the sense
will be, "When I come, I will send those whom by your letters,
then to be given them, ye shall approve." But the antithesis
(opposition or contrast) to Paul himself
favors GROTIUS' view. So "by" means with
and the Greek for "by" is translated, with
liberality--literally, gracious or free gift
4. meet--"worth while." If your collections be large enough to be
worth an apostle's journey (a stimulus to their liberality), I will
accompany them myself instead of giving them letters credential
with me--to guard against all possible suspicion of evil
(2Co 8:4, 19-21).
5-7. His first intention had been
(2Co 1:15, 16)
to pass through them (Corinth) to Macedonia, and again return to them
from Macedonia, and so to Judea; this he had announced in the lost
now having laid aside this intention (for which he was charged with
&c., whereas it was through lenity,
2Co 1:23; 2:1),
he announces his second plan of "not seeing them now by the way," but
"passing through Macedonia" first on his way to them, and then
"tarrying a while," and even "abiding and wintering with them."
for I do pass--as much as to say, "This is what I at last
resolve upon" (not as the erroneous subscription of the Epistle
represents it, as if he was THEN at Philippi, on his way through
Macedonia); implying that there had been some previous communication
upon the subject of the journey, and also that there had been some
indecisiveness in the apostle's plan [PALEY]. In accordance with his
second plan, we find him in Macedonia when Second Corinthians was
(2Co 2:13; 8:1; 9:2, 4),
and on his way to Corinth
(2Co 12:14; 13:1;
Ac 20:1, 2).
"Pass through" is opposed to "abide"
He was not yet in Macedonia (as
shows), but at Ephesus; but he was thinking of passing
through it (not abiding as he purposed to do at
6. He did "abide and even winter" for the three
WINTER months in Greece
Ac 20:3, 6;
from which passage it seems that Paul probably left Corinth about a
month before the "days of unleavened bread" or the Passover (so as to
allow time to touch at Thessalonica and Berea, from which cities two of
his companions were; as we read he did at Philippi); so that thus the
three months at Corinth would be December, January, and February
[BIRKS, Horæ Apostolicæ].
ye--emphatical in the Greek.
whithersoever I go--He purposed to go to Judea
from Corinth, but his plans were not positively fixed as yet (see on
7. I will not see you now by the way--literally, "I do not wish to see
you this time in passing"; that is, to pay you now what would have to be
a merely passing visit as I did in the second visit
In contrast to "a while," that is, some time, as the
Greek might better be translated.
but--The oldest manuscripts read "for."
8. at Ephesus--whence Paul writes this Epistle. Compare
"Asia," wherein Ephesus was.
until Pentecost--He seems to have stayed as he here purposes: for just
when the tumult which drove him away broke out, he was already intending
to leave Ephesus
(Ac 19:21, 22).
1Co 5:7, 8,
this verse fixes the date of this Epistle to a few weeks before
Pentecost, and very soon after the Passover.
An opening for the extension of the Gospel. Wise men are on the
watch for, and avail themselves of, opportunities. So
"door of hope,"
"Door of faith,"
"An open door,"
"A door of utterance,"
"Great," that is, extensive. "Effectual," that is, requiring great
labors [ESTIUS]; or opportune for effecting
great results [BEZA].
many adversaries--who would block up the way and prevent us from
entering the open door. Not here false teachers, but open adversaries:
both Jews and heathen. After Paul, by his now long-continued labors at
Ephesus, had produced effects which threatened the interests of those
whose gains were derived from idolatry, "many adversaries" arose
Where great good is, there evil is sure to start up as its
10. Now--rather, "But." Therefore Timothy was not the bearer of
the Epistle; for it would not then be said, "IF Timothy come." He must
therefore have been sent by Paul from Ephesus before this
Epistle was written, to accord with
and yet the passage here implies that Paul did not expect him to arrive
at Corinth till after the letter was received. He tells them how
to treat him "if" he should arrive.
Ac 19:21, 22
clears up the difficulty: Timothy, when sent from Ephesus, where this
Epistle was written, did not proceed direct to Corinth, but went
first to Macedonia; thus though sent before the letter, he might
not reach Corinth till after it was received in that city. The
undesigned coincidence between the Epistle and the history, and the
clearing up of the meaning of the former (which does not mention the
journey to Macedonia at all) by the latter, is a sure mark of
genuineness [PALEY, Horæ
Paulinæ]. It is not certain that Timothy actually reached
Corinth; for in
only Macedonia is mentioned; but it does not follow that though
Macedonia was the immediate object of his mission, Corinth was not the
ultimate object. The "IF Timothy come," implies
represents him with Paul in Macedonia; and
speaking of Titus and others sent to Corinth, does not mention
Timothy, which it would have probably done, had one so closely
connected with the apostle as Timothy was, stayed as his delegate at
Corinth. The mission of Titus then took place, when it became uncertain
whether Timothy could go forward from Macedonia to Corinth, Paul being
anxious for immediate tidings of the state of the Corinthian
Church. ALFORD argues that if so, Paul's
adversaries would have charged him with fickleness in this case also
as in the case of his own change of purpose. But Titus was sent
directly to Corinth, so as to arrive there before Timothy could
by the route through Macedonia. Titus' presence would thus make amends
for the disappointment as to the intended visit of Timothy and would
disarm adversaries of a charge in this respect
(2Co 7:6, 7).
without fear--Referring perhaps to a nervous timidity in Timothy's
(1Ti 3:15; 5:22, 24).
His youth would add to this feeling, as well as his country,
Lystra, likely to be despised in refined Corinth.
11. despise--This charge is not given concerning any other of the many
messengers whom Paul sent.
accounts for it (compare
He was a young man, younger probably than those usually employed
in the Christian missions; whence Paul apprehending lest he should, on
that account, be exposed to contempt, cautions him, "Let no man despise
thy youth" [PALEY, Horæ
conduct--set him on his way with every mark of respect, and with
whatever he needs
"Peace" is the salutation of kindness and respect in the East; and so
it stands for every blessing. Perhaps here there is too a contrast
between "peace" and the "contentions" prevalent at Corinth
I look for him--He and Titus were appointed to meet Paul in Troas,
whither the apostle purposed proceeding from Ephesus
(2Co 2:12, 13).
Paul thus claims their respect for Timothy as one whom he felt so
necessary to himself as "look for" to him [THEOPHYLACT].
with the brethren--Others besides Erastus accompanied Timothy to
12. Apollos, I greatly desired . . . to come unto you--He says this
lest they should suspect that he from jealousy prevented Apollos' coming
to them; perhaps they had expressly requested Apollos to be sent to
them. Apollos was not at Ephesus when Paul wrote (compare
and 1Co 1:1).
Probably Apollos' unwillingness to go to Corinth at this time was
because, being aware of the undue admiration of his rhetorical style
which led astray many at Corinth, he did not wish to sanction it
(1Co 1:12; 3:4).
Paul's noble freedom from all selfish jealousy led him to urge Apollos
to go; and, on the other hand, Apollos, having heard of the abuse of
his name at Corinth to party purposes, perseveringly refused to go.
Paul, of course, could not state in his letter particularly these
reasons in the existing state of division prevalent there. He calls
Apollos "brother" to mark the unity that was between the two.
with the brethren--who bear this letter
subscription added to the Epistle). CONYBEARE
thinks Titus was one of the bearers of this first letter
(2Co 8:6, 16-24; 12:18).
ALFORD thinks "the brethren" here may be the same
convenient time--Apollos did return to Corinth when their divisions
were moderated [JEROME], and so it was a more seasonable time.
13. He shows that they ought to make their hopes of salvation to depend
not on Apollos or any other teacher; that it rests with themselves.
"Watch ye": for ye are slumbering. "Stand": for ye are like men
tottering. "Quit you like men; be strong": for ye are effeminate
"Let all your things be done with charity"
(1Co 8:1; 13:1):
not with strifes as at present [CHRYSOSTOM]. "In
the faith" which was assailed by some
(1Co 15:1, 2, 12-17).
15. first-fruits of Achaia--the first Achæan converts (compare
The image is from the first-fruits offered to the Lord
The members of this family had been baptized by Paul himself
addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints--Translate, "Set
themselves, (that is, voluntarily) to minister unto the saints"
16. That ye--Translate, "That ye also," namely, in your turn . . . in
return for their self-devotion [ALFORD].
17. Fortunatus . . . Achaicus--probably of Stephanas' household.
that . . . lacking on your part--So far as you were unable
yourselves to "refresh my spirit," in that you are absent from
me, "they have supplied" by coming to me from you, and so supplying the
means of intercourse between you and me. They seem to have carried this
letter back; see the subscription below: hence the exhortations,
1Co 16:16, 18,
as though they would be at Corinth when the Epistle arrived.
18. refreshed my spirit and yours--"yours" will be refreshed on
receiving this letter, by knowing that "my spirit is refreshed" by their
having come to me from you; and (perhaps) by the good report they gave
of many of you
my refreshment of spirit redounds to yours, as being my
acknowledge--render them due acknowledgments by a kind reception of
"know" them in their true worth and treat them accordingly.
19. Asia--not all Asia Minor, but Lydian Asia only, of which
Ephesus was the capital.
much--with especial affection.
Aquila . . . Priscilla--(Compare
Ro 16:3, 4).
Originally driven out of Italy by Claudius, they had come to Corinth
(whence their salutation of the Corinthians is appropriate here), and
then had removed with Paul from Corinth to Ephesus
(Ac 18:2, 18, 19, 26);
here, as at Rome subsequently, they set up a Church (or assembly of
believers) at their house
(Ro 16:3, 5).
A pattern to Christian husbands and wives. Their Christian
self-devoting love appears wherever they were
(Ro 16:3, 4).
Even the gifted Apollos, so highly admired at Corinth, owed much of
his knowledge to them
"All the brethren" (that is, the whole Church) seem to be distinguished
from "the church that is in their house," which was but a partial and
private assembly out of the general Church at Corinth. NEANDER thinks
refers to "the whole Church" meeting at the house of
"Synagogue" implies an assembly in general, without reference to the
character or motives of its members. "Church," like the Hebrew
Kahal, implies an assembly legally convened; as, for
instance, the Jews met as a body politic to receive the law (hence
Stephen calls it "the Church in the wilderness,"
and having a legal bond of union. Christ's followers when dispersed
from one another cease to be a congregation (synagogue), but
still are a Church, having the common bond of union to the same
Head by the same faith and hope [VITRINGA,
Synagogue and Temple]. From this we may explain Paul's entering
"into every house and haling men and women": he would in
searching for Christians go to their several "houses"' of prayer.
in the Lord--They pray for all blessings on you from the Lord, the
source of every good [GROTIUS].
ALFORD explains, "in a Christian
manner," as mindful of your common Lord. "In the Lord" seems to me to
refer to their union together in Christ, their prayers for one
another's good being in virtue of that union.
20. holy kiss--the token of the mutual love of Christians, especially
at the Lord's Supper (compare
"in which all the dissensions of the Corinthians would be swallowed up"
21. salutation . . . with mine own hand--He therefore dictated all the
rest of the Epistle.
22. A solemn closing warning added in his own hand as in
the Lord--who ought to be "loved" above Paul, Apollos, and all
other teachers. Love to one another is to be in connection with love to
Him above all. IGNATIUS [Epistle to the
Romans, 7] writes of Christ, "My love, has been crucified" (compare
Jesus Christ--omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
let him be Anathema--accursed with that curse which the
Jews who call Jesus "accursed"
are bringing righteously on their own heads [BENGEL]. So far from "saluting" him, I bid him be
Maranatha--Syriac for, "the Lord cometh." A motto or watchword
to urge them to preparedness for the Lord's coming; as in
"The Lord is at hand."
23. The grace, &c.--This is the salutation meant in
and from which unbelievers
are excluded [BENGEL].
24. My love, &c.--After having administered some severe rebukes, he
closes with expressions of "love": his very rebukes were prompted by
love, and therefore are altogether in harmony with the profession of
love here made: it was love in Christ Jesus, and therefore embraced
"all" who loved Him.
The subscription represents the Epistle as written from Philippi.
shows it was written at Ephesus. BENGEL
conjectures that perhaps, however, it was sent from Philippi
because the deputies of the Corinthians had accompanied Paul thither.
From Ephesus there was a road to Corinth above Philippi.