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31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed for evermore, knoweth that 32 1 lie not. In Damascus. the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to apprehend 33 me: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER XI. 1. Let us admire the condescension of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, amidst all the glories of heaven, is so graciously uniting souls to himself; espousing them in the bonds of a love stronger than death, and in its duration everlasting. And what an honour is it to be employed in the work of espousing men to him; and especially to be made successful in it, as the blessed apostle was. No wonder that he felt a tender solicitude, that those whom he had espoused to Christ, might maintain such purity in doctrine and conduct, as became their relation to him. What need of a holy jealou-y of ourselves, considering the subtlety of our great adversary, and of deceitful men, his servants and instruments in the work of deceit, lest we should be beguiled. No one should consider himself secure from temptation; but should watch and pray that he may be preserved in, and delivered out of it.
2. What a noble example of zeal, disinterestedness and prudence, have we in the conduct of Paul. He had preached the gospel at Corinth without receiving any thing for his labour; and he did this to prevent all suspicion of any worldly design. Thus he cut off occasion from those who sought occasion to reproach him, or to question his apostolic mission. He had, however, as every faithful minister will have, opponents, false apostles of Christ, men assuming an office to which they were not called, and for which they were unqualified. Their pride, self-confidence, love of power and of the world, showed
32, 33. Under Aretas, kc. Acts ix. 23-25.
CHAP. XI. 1. It is not expedient. It brings upon me the suspicion of vain-glory -Yet I will come, &c. As you have in a measure forced me. 2. I know a man in Christ. A believer in him.—“Whether in the body," by being actually caught up to heaven; or "out of the body," in a vision or trance. Acts xii. 9.- -Third heaven. The highest heaven where God manifests his glory. See note, Gen. i, 6.
4. Paradise. St. Paul speaks of the same vision here, and verse 2; and consequently paradise is the same as the third heaven.-Not possible, &c. Though he was enabled to understand what he saw and heard, yet he could not, by human language, convey to others any conceptions of it.
He was caught up to paradise.
XII. I know not: God knoweth ;) that such an one was caught up to the third heaven. And 3 I know such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I know not: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into para- 4 dise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not possible for a man to utter. Of such 5 an one will I glory: but of myself I will not glory, except in my weaknesses. For if I were 6 desirous of glorying, I should not be foolish; for I should speak the truth: but I forbear, lest any man should think of me above what he seeth me to be, or what he heareth from me. And lest I should be exalted above 7 measure through the abundance of these revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me;
that they were truly the ministers of Satan; and with them gain was godliness. Could such bear a comparison with holy Paul? His knowledge, self-denial, sincerity, love, and spirituality, bore proof to his high claims, and justified his assertion, that he was in nothing inferior to the chiefest apostles."
3. In Paul's sufferings for the sake of Christ, and the spread of the gospel, we have the most convincing evidence of his faith and sincerity; and of his mission as an apostle. We learn from other places in his epistles, something of his labours and sufferings; but had he uot been urged by the claims and arrogance of his enemies, to plead them with the Corinthians, we should never have known their number or severity. By land and by sea, in every city and country, among all sorts of men, he was exposed to dangers, and in many instances su fered the punishments and disgrace due only to the most infamous characters; but what most tried the apostle was what he had to endure from false brethren. Amidst all these things his ardent mind was occupied in planning new schemes of usefulness, and in watching and caring for the interest of all the churches! How unlike him were those who had intruded themselves into the Corinthian church, and who were bringing them into bondage, oppressing, and insulting them! And how unlike him have been, and are, many, who hold a high rank in the visible church! May we like him be conformed to Christ, in suffering with him, that we may be glorified together.
5, 6. Of such an one, &c. This is a delicate mode of speaking of himself, and shows his great humility. He might justly glory in the honour done him; but he was afraid lest any one should think too much of him instead of the Saviour.
7. A thorn in the flesh. Some bodily infirmity; and no conjecture seems so natural as that of Dr. Whitby, that the views he had of the heavenly glory, produced some paralytic symptoms, perhaps a stammering in his speech, and some particular distortions in his countenance. As this might lessen both his acceptance and his usefulness, it is no wonder he should be so importunate to have it removed; and yet being the consequence of "so great a favour," he might justly glory in it.- —A messenger of Satan. Natural evil or affliction
lest I say, I should be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I besought the Lord 9 thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness." Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may 10 rest upon me. I take pleasure therefore in weaknesses, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: 11 for when I am weak, then am I strong. I am become foolish in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended by you for in nothing am I inferior to the chiefest 12 apostles, though I be nothing. The signs indeed of an apostle were wrought among you, in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and 13 mighty deeds. For what is it wherein you were inferior to other churches, unless it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive 14 me this wrong. Behold, a third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not your's, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the chil
II CORINTHIANS XII.
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER XII. 1. If good men are to be ready to give a reason of the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear; it could not be improper for the apostle modestly to make known his own experience, and the visions and revelations communicated to him. And as he found vicissitudes and changes ever occurring; so have all believers. They are sometimes like him raised to the third heavens, and enjoy the highest delights and joys; and then they fall under the buffetings of Satan, and suffer severe trials and afflictions. This reminds them that they are not yet made perfect, and that there is a needs be for what they suffer, to prevent spiritual pride, and self giorying. They must feel their weakness, to lead them to take hold, by faith and prayer, of Christ as their strength; and when they do this, they will find, that his grace is sufficient for them; sufficient to support and comfort them, and to preserve them safe amidst all their weaknesses and trials.
is attributed to Satan. Luke xiii. 26. But some think that the messenger of Satan refers to the false teachers or apostles who took advantage of Paul's iufirmities, to oppose and injure him.
8-10. The Lord thrice. This shows how much he desired that it might be removed.- · My grace, &c. This answer to his prayer was made most probably in a vision, or else by revelation through the Spirit.— My power, &c. In converting men is displayed by the weakness of the instruments 1 employ. Most gladly, &c. Rather than be discouraged, I will rejoice in my infirmities, that the power of Christ, în supporting me, may be honoured. 11-15. Ye have compelled me. By what has been said against me. Tt 3
dren. And I will very gladly spend and be 15 spent for the sake of your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.
But be it so; "I did not burden you: never- 16 theless, being crafty, I caught you with guile." Did I make a gain of you by any of those whom 17 I sent to I sent to you? I desired Titus to go, and with 18 him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps? Think ye 19 that we again defend ourselves to you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edification. For I fear, lest, when I come, I may not find 20 you such as I would, and lest I shall be found by you such as ye would not: lest there be contentions, envyings, wrath, strifes, evil-speakings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: And 21 lest, when I come again, my God may humble me among you, and that I shall have to bewail many who have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness, and fornication, and lasciviousness, which they have committed.
2. We next learn, that a minister may justly appeal to the success of his labours, and to his spirit and behaviour, as prools that he has not run unsent. Paul could confirm his apostolic mission from the miracle's wrought, and the spiritual gifts conferred on the members of the church at Corinth. And how generous, how amiable his temper! May every teacher truly be enabled to adopt the same language; "I seek not your's, but you; and I will very gladly spend and be spent for the sake of your souls," such a disinterested, generous ardour, could not but be attended with some good effects; and wherever it is exercised, it must vanquish prejudice, and eonciliate esteem and love. Indeed this conduct is melting to the obdurate, and diffuses a savour of the love and kindness of the christian spirit around. How delightful is it when one servant of Christ can appeal to the conduct of another, as walking in the same steps, and that all they do is for the edification of the church. May this be the spirit and conduct of all that name the name of Christ.
Yet "the signs of an apostle were wrought among you" by my patience, and by various and wonderful miracles and gifts of the Spirit.—I seek not your's, &c. He considered himself as a father, and hence bound to do all for their advantage. How generous was his conduct towards them!
16-19. I caught you with guile. This was the language of some opponent. He appeals to them, whether or not this charge was true. He had neither by himself nor by any of those sent, made a gain of them.
20, 21. For I fear, lest, &c. Paul was concerned, lest on his arrival he should find some very far from being what he desired, in their temper and practice; and lest he should have sorrow over such on account of their sius. 331
II CORINTHIANS XIII.
THIS third time I am coming to you. the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every 2 word be established. I told you before, and I tell you beforehand the second time, as if present, though absent, that I now write to those who heretofore have sinned, and to all others, that, if I come again, I will not 3 spare them: Since ye seek a proof of Christ
speaking by me, who towards you is not weak, 4 but is mighty among you. 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 5 power of God towards you. Examine your selves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, unless 6 ye be disapproved? But I trust that ye will 7 know that we are not disapproved. Now I
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER XIII. 1. We should seriously examine ourselves whether we be united to Christ by faith, and our state, temper, and behaviour be approved of God or not. And if any who profess to be believers, walk disorderly, and thereby show that they are disapproved of him; there is a necessity of treating them ac cording to the directions of Christ, and endeavouring by reproof and censure to bring them to repentance. But if their sins and offences, have been of a more private nature, let one or two kindly admonish them, and if this method should succeed, there will be no need to go to extremity. How much rather would the servant of Christ have just ground to commend, than to blame; and to heal rather than to exasperate a wound, and thus be the instrument of recovering an erring brother to a holy, consistent conduct, and not of cutting him off from the church.
5. Jesus Christ is in you. By his spirit and truth, and by his holy temper and image. -Disapproved. See 1 Cor. ix. 27. Every man is disapproved who is not in Christ, and who has not Christ formed in him. It is only in him that we are accepted.
6. Are not disapproved. Of God, however we may be so by some men.
Exhortation to peace,
pray God that ye do no evil: I pray not that we should appear approved, but that
ye should do that which is good, though we be as if disapproved. For we cannot do any thing 8 against the truth; but for the truth. we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong and for this we pray also, even your perfection. Wherefore I write these things, 10 being absent; lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me; yet this is for edification, and not for destruction. Finally, brethren, 11 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. Salute one 12 another with a holy kiss. All the saints salute 13 you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and 14 the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.
The second epistle to the Corinthians was
2. We learn that conscientious men cannot do any thing against the reason and nature of things, any more than against the gospel itself, which is eminently the truth according to godliness. And they aim in all they do, to promote the edification of men; and how gladly would they prevent, if possible, the destruction of any. They sincerely desire, that every follower of Christ, may go on to perfection, abounding in the comforts of the Holy Spirit, and being established in the same opinion and just sentiment with other believers, and may live in peace and love. Then surely we may expect that the God of love and peace will be with and bless us. In the spirit of the gospel let us salute all disciples, praying that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, may be with them all. Amen.
7. Now, I pray God, &c. That he would keep you from doing evil.— I pray not, &c. So Vatable and others supply. I do not pray that we may appear approved by the exercise of our apostolic authority, in punishing offenders, but I am rather desirous in this respect, to appear as if disapproved.
8. We cannot do, &c. We cannot do any thing in approving or disapproving of men, or in exercising our authority against the interest of the truth of the gospel, but for it. We are influenced by no selfish ends and views.
9. We are weak. When we are accounted so, and when you are strong in faith and other christian virtues; and we even most fervently pray for your perfection.
10. Yet this is for, &c. I have supplied what appears to be necessary; and from this we learn that the power of the apostles was to be used for the advantage of the people, and that censures or punishments were not to be inflicted but for the good both of the offenders and of the whole body.
11. Of one mind. United in your views and affections, and live in peace and concord; and then may you expect the God of peace to be with you.
NUMEROUS christian societies had been formed in various parts by the labours and ministry of Paul; and several such in Galatia : Acts xvi. 1.; xviii. 23. The members of these societies or churches were chiefly Gentiles, who had been called to forsake their idols and to believe in the Lord Jesus. Some Jewish zealots had come among them, and maintained, that they could not be saved unless they were circumcised according to the law of Moses. To establish this sentiment, they asserted that the authority of Paul was not equal to that of Peter, and other apostles of the circumcision. Paul vindicates his own authority, and maintains that he who submitted to circumcision, became obliged to perform the whole law, and did in effect renounce the gospel; the grand peculiarity of which is justification by faith, without the works of the law. This he establishes by sound argument.
A D. 38. Paul wonders that they should so soon desert him and the gospel ; solemnly condemus any other gospel, and shows how he was called to the apostleship.
PAUL, an apostle, (not from men, nor by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, 2 who raised him from the dead;) And all the brethren that are with me, to the churches 3 of Galatia: Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus 4 Christ: Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of our God and 5 Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever.
I wonder that ye are so soon removed from him that called you through the grace of 7 Christ to another gospel: Which is not ano
CHAP. I. 1-5. From men. Originally; not from the suggestion or instruction of men, nor by the instrumentality of any man; but by Christ himself, and as he is one with the Father, by his will and act also.Gave himself for, &c. Gave up himself a sacrifice for our sins.—This prescnt evil, &c. Some render, "this present evil age." Doubtless the apostle refers to the persons and manners of that period, and calls them evil, as they were in a high degree, Gentiles being given up to idols and the most degrading vices, and the Jews being no better.
Him that call you, &c. With Dr. Chandler, Doddridge, and others, I refer this to the apostle; and as the proper translation of 1 x is "by or through the grace of Christ," as it is rendered, 2 Cor. i. 12, and 2 Thess. ii. 16; the apostle only speaks of himself as the instrument which Christ had employed in this work of mercy.
ther; but there are some that trouble you,
But I declare to you, brethren, that the 11 gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For 1 neither received it 12 from man, nor was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard 13 of my former behaviour in the Jewish religion,
7. Which is not another. Having called the opinion of the Judaizing teachers, "another gospel," probably using their boasting language, he corrects such a statement, by leaving his reader to supply what he intended; namely, what they maintain and preach is not another gospel, but a perversion of the gospel of Christ.
8-10. Angel from heaven. This is supposing a strong case by way of illustration; and the repetition of it shows how much the apostle felt the importance of the subject.- Endeavour to gain, &c. For this sense of w, see Acts xii. 20.; xiv. 19, and the authorities in Schleusner. 'Do I endeavour to gain the favour of men by any unworthy compliances? If I did I should not be the faithful servant of Christ.
11, 12. According to man. It is not of man's invention, nor was I taught
Christ revealed to Paul.
that I exceedingly persecuted the church of 14 God, and laid it waste : And I made a proficiency in the Jewish religion above many of the same age in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my 15 forefathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and 16 called me by his grace, To reveal his Son to me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles; I did not immediately confer with 17 flesh and blood: Nor did I go up to Jeru
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER I. 1. With what entire satisfaction should we receive the gospel, which Paul preached. It was not his own invention; nor did he derive his knowledge of it, or his commission to preach it, from men, however wise, great, or good; but directly, and in a wonderful manner, he received it both from the Lord Jesus, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. How important is the death of our Lord, when the design and blessed fruits of it are considered. He gave up himself for our sins, according to the will of our God and Father; he gave up himself, a victim to incensed justice, that by his vicarious sufferings, we might be pardoned and delivered from this present evil world. This is the grand leading truth of the gospel; of that gospel which is worthy of all acceptation, and which Paul so faithfully and so forcibly preached, and which he so vigorously defended against all opposers. With what solemnity does he speak against such as attempted to subvert it! Let us then cordially believe it, and guard against those errors which are subversive of it. 2. What a wonderful and lasting change does divine grace make
He preached him to Gentiles. things which I write to you, behold, before God, I lie not.) Afterwards I came into the 21 regions of Syria and Cilicia; And I was un- 22 known by face unto the churches of Judea which were which were in Christ: But they had only 23 heard, "That he, who formerly persecuted us, now preached the faith which he once destroyed." And they glorified God on ac- 24 count of me.
it by any man, but received it by immediate revelation from Christ, as the following facts will testify.
14. Traditions, &c. Not only being more zealous for the law of Moses, but for all the traditions which had been mixed with it, as of the same divine authority.
15. Separated me, &c. Who had in his secret and holy purpose appointed me to the office of an apostle from my very birth. See Jerem, i. 5.
16. To reveal his Son, &c. To discover him to me in the way to Damas. cus, as risen from the dead, and as being most glorious, and to convince me that he is the Messiah and Saviour, that I might preach him to the Gentiles; I did not, after that, consult any man, respecting the gospel, or my duty as to preaching it.
17. Into Arabia. We have no account of this journey in Acts ix. It is probable that Paul having tarried a few days at Damascus with the brethreu, and preached Christ, then withdrew into Arabia to exercise his ministry, and after some time returned to Damascus, where what is related, Acts ix. 23, 24, occurred.
18. After three years. From the time of his conversion. If this visit is
Paul mentions his second journey to Jerusalem, and the reason of it; blames Peter, and states the doctrine of justification by faith, &c.
THEN, after fourteen years, I went up again 1 to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took with me Titus also. And I went up by revelation, 2 and communicated to them that gospel which
in the heart and life of its subjects! It reveals Christ to those who were strangers to him; and induces them to confess their past ignorance and destructive errors, with frankness and holy sorrow. It turns the greatest bigots, and those most wedded to prejudices and false opinions, into humble believers; and even subdues the most inveterate enemies, and brings them to cry to Jesus, "Lord, what wouldst thou have us to do.". It has often converted enmity into love, and constrained the cruel persecutor, to become the zealous preacher of the faith. Pride and selfishness, by grace, have yielded to the most profound humility, and the most generous and diffusive benevolence. Through grace, that Jesus who was despised and rejected, becomes so dear and precious, that all carnal interests are sacrificed at the call of duty for his sake. In Paul's own account of himself we have a proof of these truths; and in every such instance of efficacious grace, the churches of Christ rejoice, and glorify God. They ascribe to him the glory of producing such effects; and they are all encouraged to hope for still greater triumphs.
that related, Acts ix. 26-30, Paul must have laboured some time in Arabia as well as at Damascus. He abode with Peter fifteen days; but all the other apostles, except James, were then employed in their different missions.
20-24. I lie not. I write only what is true. On his departure from Jerusalem he first went into Syria, and then into his own native country, Cilicia. During all this period he was personally unknown to the churches in Judea; but they having heard of his wonderful conversion and labours, glorified God on his account.