Page images




CORINTH, to which this and the following epistle were sent, was one of the most cele

brated cities of Greece. It was situated on a gulf of the same name, and was the capital of the Peloponnesus or Achaia, and was united to the continent by an isthmus or neck of land, that had the port of Lecheum on the west and that of Cenchrea on the east, the former in the gulph of Lepanto, the latter in the gulph of Egina, by which it commanded the navigation and commerce both of the Ionian and Egean seas, consequently of Italy on the one hand and of all the Greek islands on the other: in a word, it embraced the commerce of the whole Mediterranean sea, from the straits of Gibraltar on the west to the port of Alexandria on the east, with the coasts of Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Asia Minor. It is supposed, by some, to have been founded by Sisyphus, the son of Eolus, and grandfather of Ulysses, about the year of the world 2490 or 2500, and before the Christian era 1504 years. Others report that it had both its origin and name from Corinthus, the son of Pelops. It was at first but a very inconsiderable town; but at last, through its extensive commerce, became the most opulent city of Greece, and the capital of a powerful state. It was destroyed by the Romans under Mummius, about 146 years before Christ, but was afterwards rebuilt by Julius Cæsar.

Corinth exceeded all the cities of the world, for the splendour and magnificence of its public buildings, such as temples, palaces, theatres, porticoes, cenotaphs, baths, and other edifices; all enriched with a beautiful kind of columns, capitals, and bases, from which the Corinthian order in architecture took its rise. Corinth is also celebrated for its statues; those, especially, of Venus, the Sun, Neptune and Amphitrite, Diana, Apollo, Jupiter, Minerva, &c. The temple of Venus was not only very splendid, but also very rich, and maintained, according to Strabo, not less than 1000 courtesans, who were the means of bringing an immense concourse of strangers to the place. Thus riches produced luxury, and luxury a total corruption of manners; though arts, sciences, and literature continued to flourish long in it, and a measure of the martial spirit of its ancient inhabitants was kept alive in it by means of those public games which, being celebrated on the isthmus which connects the Peloponnesus to the main land, were called the Isthmian games, and were exhibited once every five years. The exercises in these games were, leaping, running, throwing the quoit or dart, boxing, and wrestling. It appears that, besides these, there were contentions for poetry and music; and the conquerors in any of these exercises were ordinarily crowned either with pine leaves or with parsley. It is well known that the apostle alludes to those games in different parts of his epistles, which shall all be particularly noticed as they occur.

Corinth, like all other opulent and well-situated places, has often been a subject of contention between rival states, has frequently changed masters, and undergone all forms of govern


ment. The Venetians held it till 1715, when the Turks took it from them; under whose dominion it has till lately remained. Under this deteriorating government it was greatly reduced, its whole population amounting only to between 13 and 14,000 souls. It has now got into the hands of the Greeks, its natural owners. It lies about 46 miles to the east of Athens, and 342 south-west of Constantinople. A few vestiges of its ancient splendour still remain, which are objects of curiosity and gratification to all intelligent travellers.

As we have seen that Corinth was well situated for trade, and consequently very rich, it is no wonder that, in its heathen state, it was exceedingly corrupt and profligate. Notwithstanding this, every part of the Grecian learning was highly cultivated here; so that, before its destruction by the Romans, Cicero (Pro lege Manl. cap. v.) scrupled not to call it totius Græciæ lumen-the eye of all Greece. Yet the inhabitants of it were as lascivious as they were learned. Public prostitution formed a considerable part of their religion; and they were accustomed, in their public prayers, to request the gods to multiply their prostitutes! and, in order to express their gratitude to their deities for the favours they received, they bound themselves, by vows, to increase the number of such women; for commerce with them was neither esteemed sinful nor disgraceful. Lais, so famous in history, was a Corinthian prostitute, and whose price was not less than 10,000 drachmas. Demosthenes, from whom this price was required by her for one night's lodging, said, "I will not buy repentance at so dear a rate." So notorious was this city for such conduct, that the verb кopiviaεo0ai, to Corinthize, signified to act the prostitute; and Kopivia кopη, a Corinthian damsel, meant a harlot or common woman. I mention these things the more particularly because they account for several things mentioned by the apostle in his letters to this city, and things which, without this knowledge of their previous Gentile state and customs, we could not comprehend. It is true, as the apostle states, that they carried these things to an extent that was not practised in any other Gentile country. And yet, even in Corinth-the gospel of Jesus Christ prevailing over universal corruption-there was founded a Christian church !

Analysis of the First Epistle to the Corinthians.

This epistle, as to its subject matter, has been variously divided: into three parts, by some; into four, seven, eleven, &c., parts, by others. Most of these divisions are merely artificial, and were never intended by the apostle. The following seven particulars comprise the whole :

I.-The Introduction, ch. i. 1-9.

II.-Exhortations relative to their dissensions, ch. i. 9 to ch. iv., inclusive.

III.-What concerns the person who had married his step-mother, commonly called the incestuous person, ch. v., vi., and vii.

IV. The question concerning the lawfulness of eating things which had been offered to idols, ch. viii., ix., and x., inclusive.

V. Various ecclesiastical regulations, ch. xi.—xiv., inclusive.

VI.-The important question concerning the resurrection of the dead, ch. xv.

VII.-Miscellaneous matters; containing exhortations, salutations, commendations, &c., &c., ch. xvi.




Chronological Notes relative to this Epistle.

Year of the Constantinopolitan era of the world, as used by the emperors of the east in their diplomata, &c., and thence also called the "civil era of the Greeks," 5564.-Year of the Alexandrian era of the world, or Greek ecclesiastical epocha, 5558.-Year of the Antiochian era of the world, 5548.-Year of the Eusebian epocha of the creation, or that used in the Chronicon of Eusebius, and the Roman Martyrology, 4284.-Year of the Julian period, 4764.-Year of the Usherian era of the world, or that used in the English Bibles, 4060.-Year of the minor Jewish era of the world, 3816.-Year of the greater Rabbinical era of the world, 4415.-Year since the Deluge, according to archbishop Usher and the English Bible, 2404.-Year of the Cali Yuga, or Indian era of the Deluge, 3158.-Year of the era of Iphitus, or since the first commencement of the Olympic games, 996.-Year of the two hundred and eighth Olympiad, 4.-Year from the building of Rome, according to Fabius Pictor, who flourished in the time of the first Punic war, and who is styled by Dionysius of Halicarnassus an accurate writer, 803. (This epoch is used by Diodorus Siculus.)—Year from the building of Rome, according to Polybius, 807.-Year from the building of Rome, according to Cato and the Fasti Consulares; and adopted by Solinus, Eusebius, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, &c., 808.-Year from the building of Rome according to Varro, which was that adopted by the Roman emperors in their proclamations, by Plutarch, Tacitus, Dio Cassius, Gellius, Censorinus, Onuphrius, Baronius, and by most modern chronologers, 809. N.B. Livy, Cicero, Pliny, and Velleius Paterculus, fluctuate between the Varronian and Catonian computations.— Year of the epocha of Nabonassar, king of Babylon, or that used by Hipparchus, by Ptolemy in his astronomical observations, by Censorinus and others, 803. (The years of this era constantly contained 365 days, so that 1460 Julian were equal to 1461 Nabonassarean years. This epoch began on Feb. 26th, B. C. 747; and consequently, the commencement of the 803rd year of the era of Nabonassar corresponded to the IVth of the Ides of August, A. D. 55.)-Year of the era of the Seleucidæ, or since Seleucus, one of the generals of Alexander's army, took Babylon, and ascended the Asiatic throne; sometimes called the Grecian era, and the era of Principalities, in reference to the division of Alexander's empire, 368.-Year of the Cæsarean era of Antioch, 104.-Year of the Julian era, or since the calendar of Numa Pompilius was reformed by Julius Cæsar, 101.-Year of the Spanish era, or since the second division of the Roman provinces among the Triumviri, 94. (This epoch continued in use among the Spaniards till A. D. 1383, and among the Portuguese till about A. D. 1422.)-Year since the defeat of Pompey, by Julius Cæsar, at Pharsalia in Thessaly, called, by Catrou and Rouillé, the commencement of the Roman empire, 104.-Year of the Actiac, or Actian era, or proper epocha of the Roman empire, commencing with the defeat of Antony by Augustus at Actium, 86.-Year from the birth of Jesus Christ, 60.-Year of the vulgar era of Christ's nativity, 56.-Year of the Dionysian period, or Easter Cycle, 57.-Common Golden Number, or year of the Grecian or Metonic Cycle of 19 years, 19, or the seventh Embolismic.-Jewish Golden Number, or year of the Rabbinical Cycle of 19 years, 16, or the second after the fifth Embolismic.-Year of the Solar Cycle, 9.-Dominical Letters, it being Bissextile or Leap-year, DC; D standing till the 24th of February, or the sixth of the Calends of March (the two following days after Feb. 23rd, or the seventh of the Calends of March, being named the sixth of the same month), and the other letter for the remainder of the year.-Jewish Passover (15th of Nisan), Saturday, April 17th, or the XVth of the Calends of May.-Number of Direction, or number of days on which Easter Sunday happens after the 21st of March, 28.-Mean time of the Paschal Full Moon at Corinth (its longitude being twenty-three degrees to the east of London), according to Ferguson's Tables, April 19th, or the XIIIth of the Calends of May, at fifteen minutes and fifty-eight seconds past eleven at night. (The reason of the discrepance of the fifteenth of Nisan with the day of the mean Paschal Full Moon arises from the inaccuracy of the Metonic Cycle, which reckoned 235 mean lunations to be precisely equal to nineteen solar years, these lunations being actually performed in one hour and a half less time. The correspondence of the Passover with the mean Full Moon, according to the Julian account, was in

The salutation of


Paul and Sosthenes. A. D. 325.)—True time of the Paschal Full Moon at Corinth, according to Ferguson's Tables, the XIIth of the Calends of May (April 20th), at fifty-seven minutes and forty-one seconds past five in the morning. -Easter Sunday, April 18th. or the XIVth of the Calends of May.-Epact, or moon's age on the twentysecond of March, or the XIth of the Calends of April, 18.-Year of the reign of Nero Cæsar, the Roman emperor, and fifth Cæsar, 3.-Year of Claudius Felix, the Jewish Governor, 4.-Year of the reign of Vologesus, king of the Parthians, of the family of the Arsacidæ, 7.-Year of Caius Numidius Quadratus, governor of Syria, 6.-Year of Ishmael, high-priest of the Jews, 2.-Year of the reign of Corbred I., king of the Scots, brother to the celebrated Caractacus, who was carried prisoner to Rome, but afterwards released by the emperor, 2.-According to Struyk's catalogue of eclipses, which he collected from the Chinese chronology, the sun was eclipsed at Canton in China, on the 25th of December of this year, or on the VIIIth of the Calends of January, A. D. 57. The middle of the eclipse was at twentyeight minutes past twelve at noon; the quantity eclipsed at this time being nine digits and twenty minutes. The day of this eclipse was the 19th of Tybi, in the 804th year of the Nabonassarean era, and on the 24th of Cisleu, of the minor Rabbinical or Jewish era of the world, 3817, or 4416 of their greater era.-Roman Consuls, Q. Volusius Saturninus, and P. Cornelius Scipio.


The salutation of Paul and Sosthenes, 1, 2. The apostolical benediction, 3. Thanksgiving for the prosperity of the church at Corinth, 4. In what that prosperity consisted, 5—9. The apostle reproves their dissensions, and vindicates himself from being any cause of them, 10-17. States the simple means which God uses to convert sinners and confound the wisdom of the wise, &c., 18–21. Why the Jews and Greeks did not believe, 22. The matter of the apostle's preaching, and the reasons why that preaching was effectual to the salvation of men, 23-29. All should glory in God, because all blessings are dispensed by Him through Christ Jesus, 30, 31.

[blocks in formation]

2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

[blocks in formation]

Verse 1. Paul, called to be an apostle] Bishop Pearce contends that a comma should be placed after KλŋToç, called, which should not be joined to anoσrolog, apostle: the first signifies being called to, the other sent from. He reads it, therefore, Paul the called; the apostle of Jesus Christ. The word кλŋrog, called, may be here used, as in some other places, for constituted. For this, and the meaning of the word apostle, see the note on Rom. i. 1.

As the apostle had many irregularities to reprehend in the Corinthian church, it was necessary that he should be explicit in stating his authority. He was called-invited to the gospel feast; had partaken of it, and, by the grace he received, was qualified to proclaim salvation to others: Jesus Christ therefore made him an apostle, that is, gave him a divine commission to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.

Through the will of God] By a particular appointment from God alone; for, being an extraordinary messenger, he derived no part of his authority from


f Rom. i. 7. 2 Tim. i. 9.--8 Acts ix. 14, 21. xxii. 16. 2 Tim. ii. 22.-h Ch. viii. 6. Rom. iii. 22. x. 12.

Sosthenes our brother] Probably the same person mentioned Acts xviii. 17, where see the note.

Verse 2. The church of God which is at Corinth] This church was planted by the apostle himself about A. D. 52, as we learn from Acts xviii. 1, &c., where see the notes.

Sanctified in Christ Jesus] 'Hylaoμevois, Separated from the corruptions of their place and age.

Called to be saints] Kλŋroiç ȧyııç, Constituted saints, or invited to become such; this was the design of the gospel, for Jesus Christ came to save men from their sins.

With all that in every place, &c.] All who profess Christianity, both in Corinth, Ephesus, and other parts of Greece or Asia Minor; and by this we see that the apostle intended that this epistle should be a general property of the universal church of Christ; though there are several matters in it that are suited to the state of the Corinthians only.

Both theirs and ours] That is, Jesus Christ is the common Lord and Saviour of all. He is the exclusive property of no one church, or people, or nation.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

*Rom. i. 7. 2 Cor. i. 2. Ephes. i. 2. 1 Pet. i. 2.- b Rom. in—Ch. xii. 8. 2 Cor. viii. 7.———a Ch. ii. 1. 2 Tim. i. & Rev. i. 2.-e Phil. iii. 20. Titus ii. 13. 2 Pet. iii. 12. 1 Gr. revelation. Col. iii. 4.--- 1 Thess. iii. 13. Col.

Calling on or invoking the name of the Lord Jesus, was the proper distinguishing mark of a Christian. In those times of apostolic light and purity no man attempted to invoke God but in the name of Jesus Christ; this is what genuine Christians still mean when they ask any thing from God for Christ's SAKE. Verse 3. Grace be unto you] For a full explanation of all these terms, see the notes on Rom. i. 7.

Verse 4. For the grace—which is given you] Not only their calling to be saints, and to be sanctified in Christ Jesus; but for the various spiritual gifts which they had received, as specified in the succeeding


Verse 5. Ye are enriched-ye abound-in all utterance] Ev zavri λoyw, In all doctrine; for so the word should certainly be translated and understood. All the truths of God relative to their salvation had been explicitly declared to them; and they had all knowledge; so that they perfectly comprehended the doctrines which they had heard.

Verse 6. As the testimony of Christ, &c.] The testimony of Christ is the gospel which the apostle had preached, and which had been confirmed by various gifts of the Holy Spirit, and miracles wrought by the apostle.

Verse 7. So that ye come behind in no gift] Every gift and grace of God's Spirit was possessed by the members of that church, some having their gifts after this manner, others after that.

Waiting for the coming of our Lord] It is difficult to say whether the apostle means the final judgment, or our Lord's coming to destroy Jerusalem, and make an end of the Jewish polity.-See 1 Thess. iii. 13. As he does not explain himself particularly, he must refer to a subject with which they were well acquainted. As the Jews in general continued to contradict and blaspheme, it is no wonder if the apostle should be directed to point out to the believing Gentiles that the judgments of God were speedily to fall upon this rebellious people, and scatter them over the face of the earth; which shortly afterwards took place. Verse 8. Who shall-confirm you] As the testi


in spiritual gifts.

8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.


A. M. 4060.

A. D. 56. A. U. C. 809. Anno Imp. Neronis Cæs. 3.

9 God is faithful, by whom were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that 1 ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment.

[blocks in formation]

mony of Christ was confirmed among you, so, in conscientiously believing and obeying, God will confirm you through that testimony.-See ver. 6.

In the day of our Lord Jesus] In the day that he comes to judge the world, according to some; but, in the day in which he comes to destroy the Jewish polity, according to others. While God destroys them who are disobedient, he can save you who believe.

Verse 9. God is faithful] The faithfulness of God is a favourite expression among the ancient Jews; and by it they properly understand the integrity of God in preserving whatever is intrusted to him. And they suppose that in this sense the fidelity of man may illustrate the fidelity of God, in reference to which they tell the two following stories. "Rabbi Phineas, the son of Jair, dwelt in a certain city, whither some men came who had two measures of barley, which they desired him to preserve for them. They afterwards forgot their barley and went away. Rabbi Phineas each year sowed the barley, reaped, thrashed, and laid it up in his granary. When seven years had elapsed the men returned, and desired to have the barley with which they had intrusted him. Rabbi Phineas recollected them, and said, 'Come and take your treasure,' i. e. the barley they had left, with all that it had produced for seven years. Thus, from the faithfulness of man ye may know the faithfulness of God."

"Rabbi Simeon, the son of Shetach, bought an ass from some Edomites, at whose neck his disciples saw a diamond hanging; they said unto him, Rabbi, the blessing of the Lord maketh rich, Prov. x. 22. But he answered: The ass I have bought, but the diamond I have not bought; therefore he returned the diamond to the Edomites. Thus, from the fidelity of man ye may know the fidelity of God." This was an instance of rare honesty, not to be paralleled among the Jews of the present day, and probably among few Gentiles. Whatever is committed to the keeping of God he will most carefully preserve; for he is faithful.

Unto the fellowship, &c.] Eig kovoviav, Into the

« PreviousContinue »