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  • CHAPTER 1.
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    The Salutation, vs. 1, 2. Thanksgiving to God for the deliverance and consolation which the writer had experienced, vs. 3-11. Defense of himself against the charge of inconstancy and inconsistency, vs. 12-24.

    PAUL’S GRATITUDE FOR THE DELIVERANCE AND CONSOLATION WHICH HE HAD EXPERIENCED. VS. 1-11.

    After the apostle had written his former letter to the Corinthians, and had sent Titus, either as the bearer of the letter or immediately after its having been sent by other hands, to ascertain the effect which it produced, he seems to have been in a state of unusual depression and anxiety. The persecutions to which he had been exposed in Asia placed him in continued danger of death, 1:8; and his solicitude about the church in Corinth allowed him no inward peace, 7:5. After leaving Ephesus he went to Troas; but although the most promising prospects of usefulness there presented themselves, he could not rest, but passed over into Macedonia in hopes of meeting Titus and obtaining from him intelligence from Corinth, 2:12, 23. This letter is the outpouring of his heart occasioned by the information which he received. More than any other of Paul’s epistles, it bears the impress of the strong feelings under the influence of which it was written. That the Corinthians had received his former letter with a proper spirit, that it brought them to repentance, led them to excommunicate the incestuous person, and called forth, on the part of the larger portion of the congregation, the manifestation of the warmest affection for the apostle, relieved his mind from a load of anxiety, and filled his heart with gratitude to God. On the other hand, the increased boldness and influence of the false teachers, the perverting errors which they inculcated, and the frivolous and calumnious charges which they brought against himself, filled him with indignation. This accounts for the abrupt transitions from one subject to another, the sudden changes of tone and manner which characterize this epistle. When writing to the Corinthians as a church obedient, affectionate, and penitent, there is no limit to his tenderness and love. His great desire seems to be to heal the temporary breach which had occurred between them, and to assure his readers that all was forgiven and forgotten, and that his heart was entirely theirs. But when he turns to the wicked, designing corrupters of the truth among them, there is a tone of severity to be found in no other of his writings, not even in his epistle to the Galatians. Erasmus compares this epistle to a river which sometimes flows in a gentle stream, sometimes rushes down as a torrent bearing all before it; sometimes spreading out like a placid lake; sometimes losing itself, as it were, in the sand, and breaking out in its fullness in some unexpected place. Though perhaps the least methodical of Paul’s writings, it is among the most interesting of his letters as bringing out the man before the reader and revealing his intimate relations to the people for whom he labored. The remark must be borne in mind (often made before), that the full play allowed to the peculiarities of mind and feeling of the sacred writers, is in no way inconsistent with their plenary inspiration. The grace of God in conversion does not change the natural character of its subjects, but accommodates itself to all their peculiarities of disposition and temperament. And the same is true with regard to the influence of the Spirit in inspiration.

    The salutation in this epistle is nearly in the same words as in the former letter, vs. 1, 2. Here also as there, the introduction is a thanksgiving. As these expressions of gratitude are not mere forms, but genuine effusions of the heart, they vary according to the circumstances under which each epistle was written. Here the thanksgiving was for consolation. Paul blesses God as the God of all mercy for the consolation which he had experienced. He associates, or rather identifies himself with the Corinthians; representing his afflictions as theirs and his consolation also as belonging to them, vs. 3-7. He refers to the afflictions which came upon him in Asia, so that he despaired of life, but through their prayers God who had delivered, still delivered, and he was assured, would continue to deliver him, vs. 8-11. 1, 2. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy (our) brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia: Grace (be) to you, and peace, from God our Father, and (from) our Lord Jesus Christ .

    The sense in which the word apostle is to be here taken, the force of the expression by the will of God , the scriptural meaning of the words church and saints , are all stated in the remarks on the first verse of the former epistle. In the first epistle Paul associates Sosthenes with himself in the salutation; here it is Timothy who is mentioned. In neither case is there any community of office or authority implied. On the contrary, a marked distinction is made between Paul the apostle and Sosthenes or Timothy the brother, i.e. the Christian companion of the apostle. From Corinthians 4:17 it appears that Timothy was in Macedonia, on his way to Corinth, when the first epistle was written. From the form of expression (if Timothy come) in 1 Corinthians 16:10, and from the absence of any intimation in this epistle that Paul had received from him the information from Corinth which he was so desirous to obtain, it is doubtful whether Timothy had been able to reach that city. At any rate he was now with the apostle at Nicopolis or some other city in Macedonia. With all the saints which are in all Achaia . This epistle was not intended exclusively for the Christians in Corinth, but also for all the believers scattered through the province who were connected with the church in Corinth. These believers were probably not collected into separate congregations, otherwise the apostle would have used the plural form, as when writing to the churches of Galatia, Galatians 1:3. Achaia was originally the name of the northern part of the Peloponnesus including Corinth and its isthmus. Augustus divided the whole country into the two provinces, Macedonia and Achaia; the former included Macedonia proper, Illyricum, Epirus and Thessaly; and the latter all the southern part of Greece. It is in this wide sense Achaia is always used in the New Testament. From this it appears that the converts to Christianity in Greece were at this time very few out of Corinth, as they were all members of the church in that city. Grace and peace , the favor of God and its fruits, comprehend all the benefits of redemption. The apostle’s prayer is not only that believers may be the objects of the love of God our Father and of Jesus Christ our Lord, but that they may have the assurance of that love. He knew that the sense of the love of God would keep their hearts in perfect peace. God is our Father, Jesus Christ is our Lord. Every one feels the distinction in this relationship, whether he reduces it to clear conceptions in his own mind or not. God, as God, is our Father because he is the Father of all spirits, and because, if believers, we are born again by his adopted as his children, made the objects of his love and the heirs of his kingdom. Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God clothed in our nature, is our Lord, for two reasons: first, because as God he is our absolute sovereign, and secondly, because as Redeemer he has purchased us by his own most precious blood. To him, therefore, as God and Redeemer, our allegiance as Christians is specially due. 3. Blessed (be) God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and God of all comfort .

    This richness and variety of designations for the object of his reverence and gratitude, shows how full was the apostle’s heart, and how it yearned after fellowship with God, to whom he places himself in every possible connection by thus multiplying the terms expressive of the relations which God bears to his redeemed people. Blessed . The word eujloghto>v (blessed ) is used in the New Testament only of God. (In Luke 1:28, where the virgin Mary is spoken of, eujloghme>nh is used.) It expresses at once gratitude and adoration. Adored be God! is the expression of the highest veneration and thankfulness. It is not God merely as God, but as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who is the object of the apostle’s adoration and gratitude. The expression does not refer to the miraculous conception of our Lord, but the person addressed is he whose eternal Son assumed our nature, who, as invested with that nature, is our Lord Jesus Christ. It is he who so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoso believeth in him might not perish but have everlasting life. It is therefore the peculiar, characteristic Christian designation of God, as it presents him as the God of redemption. Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Colossians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3. This God who has revealed himself as the God of love in sending his Son for our redemption, the apostle still further designates as the Father of mercies , i.e. the most merciful Father; he whose characteristic is mercy. Comp. Psalm 86:5,15; Daniel 9:9; Micah 7:18. The explanation which makes the expression mean the author of mercies is inconsistent with the signification of the word oijktirmo>v , which always means mercy as a feeling. The God of all comfort . This most merciful Father is the God, i.e. the author of all, i.e. of all possible, consolation. God is the author of consolation not only by delivering us from evil, or by ordering our external circumstances, but also, and chiefly, by his inward influence on the mind itself, assuaging its tumults and filling it with joy and peace in believing. Romans 15:13. 4. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

    Us here refers to the apostle himself. Throughout this chapter he is speaking of his own personal trials and consolations. He blessed God as the author of comfort, because he had experienced his consolations. And the design, he adds, of God in afflicting and in consoling was to qualify him for the office of a consoler of the afflicted. In this design Paul acquiesced; he was willing to be thus afflicted in order to be the bearer of consolation to others. A life of ease is commonly stagnant. It is those who suffer much and who experience much of the comfort of the Holy Ghost, who live much. Their life is rich in experience and in resources. In all our tribulation , i.e. on account of (ejpi> ). His tribulation was the ground or reason why God comforted him. The apostle was one of the most afflicted of men. He suffered from hunger, cold, nakedness, stripes, imprisonment, from perils by sea and land, from robbers, from the Jews, from the heathen, so that his life was a continued death, or, as he expressed it, he died daily. Besides these external afflictions he was overwhelmed with cares and anxiety for the churches. And as though all this were not enough, he had “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan,” to buffet him. See 11:24-30, and 12:7. In the midst of all these trials God not only sustained him, but filled him with such a heroic spirit that he actually rejoiced in being thus afflicted. “I take pleasure,” he says, “in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong,” 12:10. This state of mind can be experienced only by those who are so filled with the love of Christ, that they rejoice in every thing, however painful to themselves, whereby his glory is promoted. And where this state of mind exists, no afflictions can equal the consolations by which they are attended, and therefore the apostle adds, that he was enabled to comfort those who were in any kind of affliction by the comfort wherewith he was comforted of God. 5. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation aboundeth by Christ .

    This is a confirmation of what precedes. ‘We are able to comfort others, for our consolations are equal to our sufferings.’ The sufferings of Christ , do not mean ‘sufferings on account of Christ,’ which the force of the genitive case does not admit; nor sufferings which Christ endures in his own members; but such sufferings as Christ suffered, and which his people are called upon to endure in virtue of their union with him and in order to be like him. Our Lord said to his disciples, “Ye shall indeed drink of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism wherewith I am baptized with,” Matthew 20:23. Paul speaks of his fellowship , or participation in the sufferings of Christ, Philippians 3:10; and the apostle Peter calls upon believers to rejoice, inasmuch as they are “partakers of Christ’s sufferings,” 1 Peter 4:24; Comp. Romans 8:17; Colossians 1:24; Galatians 6:17. In many other passages it is taught that believers must share in the sufferings, if they are to be partakers of the glory of Christ. So , i.e. in equal measure, our consolation aboundeth through Christ . As union with Christ was the source of the afflictions which Paul endured, so it was the source of the abundant consolation which he enjoyed. This makes the great difference between the sorrows of believers and those of unbelievers. Alienation from Christ does not secure freedom from suffering, but it cuts us off from the only source of consolation. Therefore the sorrow of the world worketh death. 6, 7. And whether we be afflicted, (it is) for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual to the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, (it is) for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you (is) steadfast, knowing that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so (shall ye be) also of the consolation .

    Although the ancient manuscripts differ very much in the order in which the several clauses of these verses are arranged, yet the sense expressed in all is substantially the same. The text adopted by Beza, Griesbach, Knapp, Meyer, etc., on the authority of the manuscripts A, C, and several of the ancient versions, reads thus, “Whether we be afflicted, (it is) for your consolation and salvation; whether we are comforted, (it is) for your consolation, which is effectual in enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope of you is steadfast, knowing that as ye are partakers of the suffering, so also (shall ye be) of the consolation.” The reading adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Ruckert and others, differs from the common text in placing the clause our hope of you is steadfast , immediately after the first member of the sentence, and before the words, whether we are comforted. For this arrangement are the MSS. B, D, E, F, G, I. The reading of Beza gives the text in its simplest and most perspicuous form. In either way the main idea is, ‘Whether we be afflicted, it is for your good; or whether we be comforted, it is for your good.’ All the rest is subordinate. The relation in which the apostle stood to the Corinthians was such that he felt assured that they would share both in his sufferings and in his consolation, and therefore experience the benefit of both. It was not that Paul’s constancy in suffering set them a good example; nor simply that Paul suffered in behalf of the Gospel, and therefore for the benefit of others; nor does he mean merely that the experience of the Corinthians would correspond to his, if they were similarly afflicted, they would be similarly comforted; but the main idea is that such was the intimate bond between them and him that he had a firm hope they would be partakers both of his affliction and of his consolation.

    Though this appears to be the primary idea of the passage, the others are not to be excluded. Paul no doubt felt, and intended to intimate, that his diversified experience would redound to their advantage by qualifying him more abundantly for his work, and especially for the office of consoling them in the afflictions which they, as well as he, would be called to endure. Whether we be afflicted (it is) for your consolation and salvation ; i.e. my afflictions will contribute to your consolation and salvation. To the former, because those whom God afflicts, or, who suffer for Christ’s sake and with Christ’s people, God never fails to console; to the latter, because suffering and salvation are so intimately connected. “If we suffer with him we shall also be glorified together,” Romans 8:17. It is not of suffering as suffering that the apostle here speaks. There is no tendency in pain to produce holiness. It is only of Christian suffering and of the sufferings of Christians, that is, of suffering endured for Christ and in a Christian manner, that the apostle says it is connected with salvation, or that it tends to work out for those who suffer an eternal weight of glory. Or whether we be comforted it is for your consolation . That is, our consolation is also yours. If we are consoled, so are you. If we suffer together, we rejoice together. Or, if you suffer as I do, you will enjoy similar consolation. My being consoled enables me to console you. According to the common text the reading here is, “your consolation and salvation . “ But the repetition of the words and salvation is not sustained by some of the oldest manuscripts, and they do not cohere so well with the following clause; as it can hardly be said that “salvation is effectual in enduring affliction.” On these grounds, as before remarked, Beza and many other editors omit the words in question. Which is effectual ; that is, which consolation is operative or efficacious, not to the enduring, as in our version, but in the enduring (ejn uJpomonh|~ ). This consolation shows its efficacy in the patient endurance of suffering. According to another interpretation ejnergoume>nhv is taken passively, which is wrought out .

    The sense would then be good. ‘This consolation is wrought out or experienced in patient endurance.’ But as Paul always uses this word actively, the rendering adopted in our version is generally and properly preferred. The same sufferings which I also suffer . The sufferings of the Corinthians were the same with those of the apostle, because they sympathized in his afflictions, because they in a measure suffered as he did, and because their sufferings were “the sufferings of Christ,” in the same sense that his were. They were not only such sufferings as Christ endured, but they were incurred because those who suffered were Christians. And our hope of you is steadfast . That is, ‘we have a steadfast hope that you will be partakers of our consolation.’ Knowing , i.e. because we know, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so also of the consolation . The two go together. Those who share in our sorrows, share in our joys. There are two ideas apparently united here as in the preceding context. The one is that the sufferings of the apostle were also the sufferings of the Corinthians because of the union between them. The other is, that his readers were in their measure exposed to the same kind of sufferings. In this twofold sense they were the koinwnoi> , the communicants or joint-partakers of his joys and sorrows. 8. For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble, which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life .

    The apostle confirms; from the facts of his recent history, what he had said of his afflictions. Asia is probably to be understood here in reference to proconsular Asia, which comprehended the western provinces of Asia Minor, viz., Mysia, Lydia, Caria, and part of Phrygia. What afflictions and dangers the apostle here refers to is uncertain. It is generally assumed that he alludes to the uproar in Ephesus, of which mention is made in Acts 19:23-41. But to this it is objected that Paul does not appear to have been in personal danger during that tumult; that instead of saying in Asia he would probably have said in Ephesus , had he referred to that special event; and that the language used seems obviously to imply a succession and continuance of severe trials. Others think that the reference is to some severe illness. But there is nothing in the context to indicate that particular form of affliction. Neither could illness naturally be included under the “afflictions of Christ,” under which head the apostle comprehends all the afflictions to which in this connection he refers. The probability is that he alludes to trials of different kinds, and especially to plots and attempts against his life. He was surrounded by enemies Jews and heathen, who thirsted for his blood. And we know, as remarked above, that the Acts of the Apostles contains the record of only a small portion of his afflictions. That we were pressed , ejbarh>qhmen , we were burdened.

    The allusion is to a wearied animal that sinks in despair under a burden beyond its strength. Out of measure, above strength ; if thus separated, the former of these phrases refers to the character of his afflictions in themselves, ‘they were excessive;’ and the latter, expresses their relation to his ability to bear them. Absolutely, they were too great, relatively, they were above his strength. Many commentators make the former qualify the latter, “We were burdened far beyond our strength” (kaqÆ uJperbolhInsomuch that we despaired even of life . The expression is intensive, ejxaporhqh~nai , to be utterly at a loss , or, absolutely without a way (po>rov ) of escape. It seemed impossible to the apostle that he could escape from the enemies who beset him on every side. These enemies were not only men, but perils and trials of all kinds. 9. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead.

    So far from expecting to live, the apostle says, on the contrary (ajlla> ) he had in himself the sentence of death . This may mean that he was as one who was actually condemned to die. God appeared to have passed upon him the sentence of death, from which there could be no reprieve. This supposes ajpo>krima to have the sense of kata>krima . This meaning of the word is very doubtful. It properly signifies response, answer. ‘We had in ourselves the answer, of death.’ That is, when he put to himself the question, whether life or death was to be the issue of his conflicts, the answer was, Death! In other words, he did not expect to escape with his life. God brought him into these straits in order that he might not trust in himself, but in God who raiseth the dead. These two things are so connected that the former is the necessary condition of the latter. There is no such thing as implicit confidence or reliance on God, until we renounce all confidence in ourself. When Paul was convinced that no wisdom nor efforts of his own could deliver him from death, then he was forced to rely on the power of God. God is here described as he who raiseth the dead , because the apostle’s deliverance was a deliverance from death. It was only that Being who could call the dead to life who could rescue him from the imminent peril in which he was placed. So when Abraham’s faith was put to the severe trial of believing what was apparently impossible, it is said, “He believed God who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were,” Romans 4:17; Comp. Hebrews 11:19. No man until he is tried knows how essential the omnipotence of God is as a ground of confidence to his people. They are often placed in circumstances where nothing short of an almighty helper can give them peace. 10. Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver (us).

    Paul’s trust in God was not disappointed. He did deliver him from such a death , i.e. one so fearful and apparently so inevitable. It is evident from the whole context that the apostle had not only been in imminent peril, but exposed to a more than ordinarily painful death. Whether this was from disease or from enemies is a matter of conjecture. The latter is the more probable. Though he had been delivered from the instant and fearful death with which he was threatened, the danger was not over. The machinations of his enemies followed him wherever he went. He therefore says that God had not only delivered, but that he continued to deliver him. He was still beset with danger. He was however confident for the future. For he adds, in whom we trust , eijv o\n hjlpi>kamen , on whom we have placed our hope that he will also henceforth deliver . He did, he does, he will, deliver, ejrjrJu>sato , rJu>etai , rJu>setai . The experience of past deliverances and mercies is the ground of present peace and of confidence for the future.

    These words of Paul sound continually in the ears of the people of God in all times of emergency. 11. Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift (bestowed) upon us by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many on our behalf .

    Intercessory prayer has great power, otherwise Paul would not so often solicit it on his own behalf, and enjoin the duty on his readers. His confidence in his safety for the future was not founded simply on the experience of God’s past mercy, but also on the prayers of Christians in his behalf. God will yet deliver me, he says, you also helping together by prayer . That is, provided you join your prayers with those of others for my safety. Helping together probably refers to their co-operation in the work of intercession with other churches, rather than with the apostle himself. The design of God in thus uniting his people in praying for each other when in affliction or danger, is that the deliverance may be matter of common gratulation and praise. Thus all hearts are drawn out to God and Christian fellowship is promoted. This is expressed in the latter part of this verse; that , i.e. in order that the gift being bestowed on us by means of many (dia< pollw~n ) thanks may be rendered by many (ejk pollw~n ). In the Greek it is ejk pollw~n prosw>pwn , which most commentators render as our translators do, by many persons . The word proface or presence , which sense many retain here. ‘That thanks may be rendered from many (upturned) faces.’ According to the interpretation given above, the words dirisma “the favor to us by means of many;” and ejk pollw~n prosw>pwn with eujcaresqh|~ , ‘thanks may be rendered by many persons (or faces). This gives a good sense, and is perhaps better suited to the force of the prepositions ejk and dia> . It is more correct to say that the ‘favor was (dia> ) by means of many,’ i.e. by means of their prayer, than that it ‘was (ejk ) out of , or by ,’ as expressing the efficient cause. The order of the clauses, however, favors the connection adopted by our translators. ‘The favor was by many persons, and the thanks, to be rendered by means of many.’ This construction of the sentence is also sanctioned by the majority of commentators.

    THE APOSTLE’S DEFENSE AGAINST THE CHARGE OF INCONSTANCY. VS. 12-24 Paul had informed the Corinthians that it was his purpose to go direct from Ephesus to Corinth, thence into Macedonia, and back again to Corinth, v. 16. This plan he had been induced to modify before the former epistle was sent, as in 1 Corinthians 16:5 he tells them he would not visit them until he had passed through Macedonia. On this slight ground his enemies in Corinth represented him as saying one thing and meaning another. They seem also to have made this an occasion for charging him with like inconsistency in doctrine. If his word could not be depended on in small matters, what dependence could be placed on his preaching? Paul shows there was no levity or insincerity involved in this change of his plans, and no inconsistency in his preaching; but that to spare them he had deferred his visit to Corinth, vs. 12-24. 12. For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

    The connection between this verse and what precedes, as indicated by the particle for , is, ‘I look for your sympathy in my afflictions, and for your prayers in my behalf, for my conscience bears testimony to the simplicity and sincerity of my conversation among you.’ Unless we are conscious of integrity towards others, we cannot be assured of their confidence in us. Our rejoicing , says Paul, is this , the testimony of our conscience . This may mean that the testimony of conscience was the ground of his rejoicing.

    This assumes a metonymical sense of the kau>chsiv , a meaning which is often attributed to the word. But as the word may express the inward feeling of exultation as well as the outward expression of it, which latter is its proper sense, the meaning may be (without assuming any metonomy), ‘My joyful confidence consists in the consciousness of sincerity.’ The testimony of the conscience is consciousness; and that of which Paul was conscious was integrity. And that consciousness sustained and elevated him. It was in its nature a joy. What follows is explanatory. His conscience testified that in simplicity and godly sincerity , etc. The word aJplo>thv means singleness of mind , the opposite of duplicity. The ancient manuscripts A, B, C, read aJgio>thv , purity or sanctity , which the recent editors generally adopt. The former word is much more common in Paul’s writings, and is better suited to the following term, eijlikri>neia which means translucence , clearness, sincerity of mind. It is called the sincerity of God , which our translators explain as meaning godly sincerity , either in the sense of religious, as distinguished from mere natural sincerity as a moral virtue, or in the sense of divine , what comes from God. The latter is the true explanation. It is the sincerity which God gives. The Bible often uses such expressions as “the peace of God,” “joy of the Spirit,” etc., meaning the peace or joy of which God or the Spirit is the author. There is a specific difference between moral virtues and spiritual graces, although they are called by the same names. Simplicity, sincerity, meekness, long-suffering, when the fruits of the Spirit differ from the moral virtues designated by those terms, as many external things, though similar in appearance, often differ in their inward nature. A religious man and a moral man may be very much alike in the eyes of men, though the inward life of the latter is human, and that of the former is divine. What Paul means here to say is, that the virtues which distinguished his deportment in Corinth were not merely forms of his own excellence, but forms of the divine life; modes in which the Spirit of God which dwelt in him manifested itself.

    This is expressed more clearly in what follows. Not in fleshly wisdom , that is, not in that wisdom which has its origin in our own nature. The familiar meaning of the word flesh in the New Testament, especially in the writings of St. Paul, is human nature as it now is, as distinguished from the Spirit of God. “Ye are not in the flesh,” says this apostle, “but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you,” Romans 8:9. As our nature is corrupt, natural or fleshly necessarily involves more or less, the idea of corruption. The natural man, carnal mind, fleshly wisdom, all imply that idea more or less, according to the context. Fleshly wisdom , therefore, is that kind of wisdom which unrenewed men are wont to exhibit, wisdom guided by principles of self-interest or expediency. It stands opposed to the grace of God . Paul was not guided by the former, but by the latter.

    The grace of God controlled his conduct; and by grace is here meant, as so often elsewhere, the gracious influences of the Spirit. We have had our conversation ; ajnestra>fhmen , we moved about , we conducted ourselves.

    The expression includes all the manifestations of his inward life. In the world , i.e. among men generally; and more especially to you-ward . That is, the evidence of my sincerity is much more abundant to you than to others.

    The Corinthians had enjoyed more opportunities of learning the character of the apostle, and of seeing his simplicity and integrity, than the world, or men outside of the church, had possessed. He could therefore the more confidently assume that they confided in him. 13, 14. For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge, and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; as also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also (are) ours in the day of the Lord Jesus .

    The same sincerity and honesty marked his correspondence that characterized his life. He never wrote one thing and meant another. The connection with the preceding verse is, ‘We are perfectly honest, for we write none other things than what ye read.’ The simple, obvious meaning of my letter, is the true meaning. I write , i.e. I mean none other things than what you understand me to intend when you read my letters, or know from other sources. The word ejpiginw>skete may be rendered as in our version, ye acknowledge . The sense would then be, ‘I mean nothing else but what you read or acknowledge to be my meaning.’ But this is not so clear. The design of the apostle is to show that his purposes really were what his letters indicated, or what the Corinthians, by other means, had been led to understand them to be. The words are, “Ye read, or also (h\ kai> ) know,” and I trust ye shall acknowledge to the end. This clause may be connected with what precedes. ‘I mean what you know, and I trust shall continue to acknowledge, to be my meaning.’ That is, ‘I have confidence that you will not misunderstand or misinterpret my intentions until we all come to the end;’ e[wv te>louv , to the end , either of life, or of the world. A much better sense is obtained by connecting this clause with what follows, so that the clause (o[ti kau>chma uJmw~n ejsmen ) that we are your rejoicing , is the object of the verb (ejpignw>sesqe ) ye shall acknowledge . ‘I trust ye shall acknowledge unto the end (as ye have acknowledged us in part), that we are your rejoicing.’ The verb ejpiginw>skein combines the ideas of recognition and of complete knowledge. The words in part are most naturally referred to the Corinthians, ye in part , i.e. a part of you. Paul knew that there were some in Corinth who did not rejoice in him. Others understand them to qualify the verb. It was only a partial recognition of him that the Corinthians had as yet manifested. Compare 1 Corinthians 13:12, “I know in part.”

    This, however, would give a tone of reproach to the language which is foreign to the character of the passage. We are your rejoicing , i.e. the ground of your exultation and delight. As ye also ours , in the day of the Lord Jesus . Paul believed that in the day of the Lord Jesus the Corinthians would rejoice over him as he would rejoice over them. In that day they would appreciate the blessedness of having had him for their teacher, as he would rejoice in having had them for his converts. The joy, however, which he anticipated in its fullness when Christ should come, was in a measure already theirs. ‘We are, and shall be, your rejoicing, as ye are and shall be ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.’ Instead of rendering o\ti in the above clause that many commentators render it because . This gives a different sense to the whole passage. ‘We hope you will acknowledge — because we are your rejoicing, as ye are ours.’ This, however, leaves the verb acknowledge without an object. What were they to acknowledge? We may indeed supply from the context the words our sincerity , but it is more natural so to construe the passage as to avoid the necessity of supplying any thing. The sense also is better according to the common interpretation.

    Paul does not design to prove that the Corinthians confided in him because he was their rejoicing, which would be to prove a thing by itself. 15, 16. And in this confidence I was minded to come to you before that ye might have a second benefit; to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way to Judea.

    And in this confidence , that is, in the confidence that we are your rejoicing, Paul was not afraid to go to Corinth. He did not doubt that the great majority of the church would receive him with confidence and affection.

    The change in the plan of his journey arose, as he afterwards states, from very different motives. Paul says he was minded , i.e. intended to come to them before , i.e. before going to Macedonia; that ye might have a second benefit , i.e. the benefit of seeing me twice, once before going to Macedonia, and again after my return. The other explanation of this passage is, that second here refers to his first visit to Corinth. The first benefit was their conversion, the second would be the good effects to be anticipated from another visit. But it appears from 12:14 and other passages that Paul had already been twice in Corinth, and therefore he could not speak of his intended visit as the second; and the word second here evidently refers to the word before . He was to see them before and after going to Macedonia. Benefit , cari>n , grace , a term generally in the New Testament used of religious blessings. The word sometimes signifies joy , so the sense here may be, ‘That ye might have the pleasure of seeing me twice.’ The former explanation is not only better suited to the common use of the word, but also gives a higher sense. And of you to be brought on my way to Judea .

    Propemqh~nai , to be brought on my way , i.e. to be aided in my journey.

    The word often, and perhaps most frequently, means to escort on a journey, or to furnish with the means of traveling. Acts 15:3; 20:38. etc. In ancient times when there were no established modes of traveling, it was customary for the friends of the traveler in one city to send him forward to the next, or at least to escort him on his way. This office of friendship Paul was willing and desirous to receive at the hands of the Corinthians. He was not alienated from them. And his purpose to seek this kindness from them was a proof of his confidence in their affection for him. 17. When therefore I was thus minded did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea, yea, and nay, nay ?

    Paul did not execute the plan of his journey above indicated. His having changed his purpose was made the ground of a twofold charge against him; first, of levity, and secondly, of inconsistency; saying one thing, and doing another; or saying one thing at one time, and the opposite at another, so that he was utterly untrustworthy either as a man or as a teacher. This was indeed a slight foundation on which to rest such a charge. It is no wonder therefore that it excited the apostle’s indignation. The first charge is that he used lightness , i.e. that in purposing to visit Corinth and in announcing his purpose he had no serious intention of doing what he promised. It was a careless, inconsiderate avowal such as none but a man of levity would make. In the Greek the article is used (th|~ ejlafri>a| ) the lightness, which may mean, the lightness with which they charged him; or that which belongs to our nature; or it may have no more force than when used in other cases before abstract nouns. Or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh ? The first charge related to the past, did I use lightness? This relates to his general character. ‘Am I habitually governed in my plans by the flesh,’ i.e. am I influenced and controlled by those considerations which govern ordinary men, who have nothing to guide them but their own corrupt nature? The word flesh here, as in v. 12, stands for our whole nature, considered as distinguished from the Spirit of God. All who are not spiritual , (governed by the Spirit) are, according to the Scripture, carnal (governed by the flesh). What Paul therefore intends to deny in these two questions, is that his original purpose of visiting Corinth was formed in levity, and secondly, that his plans in general were controlled by worldly or selfish considerations. That with me there should be yea, yea, and nay, nay. That (i[na ) here expresses the result, not the design. ‘Do I so act after the flesh that the consequence is,’ etc. The repetition of the particles yea, yea, and nay, nay, is simply intensive, as in Matthew 5:37, “Let your communication be yea, yea, and nay, nay.”

    The meaning, therefore, is, ‘Do I affirm and deny the same thing? Do I say both yes and no at the same time and in reference to the same subject? Is no dependence to be placed on my word?’ This is the common interpretation and the one demanded by the context. Many commentators from Chrysostom downwards give a very different view of the passage.

    They understand the apostle to defend himself for his change of plan by saying that he was not like men of the world who obstinately adhered to their purposes, without regard to the manifested will of God, so that with him a yea should be yea, and a nay, nay, let what would be the consequence. But in the 18th v. this interpretation is impossible, because it is there simply “yea and nay.” That verse therefore determines the meaning of this. Besides, what he goes on to defend himself against is not a change of obstinacy, but of saying first one thing and then another.

    Luther’s translation assumes still another interpretation. “Are my purposes carnal? Not so, but my yea is yea, and my nay is nay.” But this arbitrarily introduces into the text what is not expressed, and thus changes the whole sense. 18. But as God is true, our word towards you was not yea and nay .

    That is, ‘My preaching, or the doctrine which I preached, was not inconsistent and contradictory. I did not preach first one thing and then another.’ This sudden transition from the question as to his veracity as a man to his consistency as a preacher, shows two things; first, that his enemies had brought both charges against him, founding the latter on the former; and secondly, that Paul was much more concerned for the gospel than for his own reputation. Whey might accuse him, if they pleased, of breaking his word; but when they charged him with denying Christ, that was a very different affair. He therefore drops the first charge and turns abruptly to the second. ‘Whatever you may think of my veracity as a man, as God is true, my preaching was not yea and nay,’ i.e. unworthy of confidence. As God is true . The words are, God is faithful, that , etc. Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; Thessalonians 5:24. They may be understood as an appeal to the fidelity of God as the ground and evidence of the truth and reliableness of his preaching. ‘God is faithful, that our preaching is not yea and nay.’ That is, his fidelity secures the trustworthiness of the gospel. It is his word and therefore is unchangeably true. It abideth forever. ‘If,’ says the apostle, ‘there is no dependence to be placed on my word, God is trustworthy. My preaching, which is his word, is to be relied upon. That is not yea and nay, but firm and true.’ It must be admitted, however, that this interpretation is constrained; it is not the simple meaning of the words. The passage must be paraphrased to get this sense out of it. It is perhaps better with our translators, after Calvin, Beza, and many other commentators, ancient and modern, to take the words as an asseveration. So true as God is faithful , so true is it, that , etc.

    Comp. 11:10, e]stin hJ ajlh>qeia Cristou~ ejn ejmoi> , o[ti . Romans 14:11, zw~ ejgw> — o[ti , as I live — every knee shall bow to me . Judith 12:4, zh|~ hJ yuch> sou — o[ti . It is therefore according to the usage of the language to understand pistov — o[ti as an oath, and the sense given is much more natural. An oath is an act of worship. To predict that men shall everywhere swear by the name of Jehovah, Isaiah 65:16, is to predict that Jehovah shall everywhere be worshipped. Men may, therefore, appeal to God for the truth of what they say on any solemn occasion, if they do it devoutly as an act of worship. It is a formal recognition of his being, of his omniscience, of his holiness and power, and of his moral government. Our Lord himself did not refuse to answer when put upon his oath, Matthew 27:63; and the apostles often call on God to witness the truth of their declarations. When, therefore, our Savior commands us, “Swear not at all,” he must be understood to forbid profane swearing, that is, calling on God in an irreverent manner and on trivial occasions. That our words towards you was not yea and nay ; oJ lo>gov hJmw~n . This may mean our preaching , 1 Corinthians 1:17; 2:1, 4, and often; or, our word generally, i.e. what I said. The apostle may be understood to assert the truth and consistency of his instructions as a teacher, or the trustworthiness of his declarations and promises as a man.

    The decision depends on the context. In favor of the latter it is urged that the charge against him, as intimated in v. 17, was that of breaking his promise, and therefore to make this verse refer to his preaching is to make him evade the point entirely. But the following verses, which are intimately connected with the one before us, clearly refer to matters of doctrine, and therefore this verse must have the same reference. The sudden transition from the charge of levity in v. 17, to that of false doctrine in v. 18, as before remarked, is sufficiently accounted for from the association of the two charges in the minds of his enemies. They said he was not to be depended upon as a preacher, because he had shown himself to be untrustworthy as a man. “As God is true, my preaching is true.” The one is as true as the other. Hence in Galatians 1:8 he pronounces an angel accursed should he preach another gospel. Paul’s confidence in the truth of the gospel as he preached it was one and the same with his confidence in God. To tell him that his preaching was not to be depended upon, was in his mind the same as to say that God was not to be believed; for he knew that he was the infallible organ of God in all his teaching. John 5:10. 19. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, (even) by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea .

    My preaching is true, for Christ is true. There is no contradiction, no yea and nay, in him, therefore there is no contradiction in my doctrine. There was no room in Paul’s mind for doubt as to his preaching being a trustworthy exhibition of the person and work of Christ, and therefore if Christ be one and the same, i.e. self-consistent truth, so was his doctrine or teaching. With such self-evidencing light and irresistible conviction does the Spirit attend his communications to the human mind. Even in ordinary religious experience, the testimony of the Spirit becomes the testimony of consciousness. Much more was this the case when plenary inspiration was combined with the sanctifying power of the truth. The Son of God, Jesus Christ ; that is, Christ, who is the Son of God, the same in nature with the eternal Father, and because he is the Son, and, therefore, eternally and immutably true, was not yea and nay . There was nothing in him contradictory or untrustworthy. This Christ was preached in Corinth by Paul, Silvanus and Timotheus. These persons are mentioned because the apostle probably refers to his first visit to Corinth when they were his companions. Acts 18:5. His appeal is to the experience of his readers.

    They had found Christ to be the way, the truth and the life. He had been made unto them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:32. By Christ here the apostle does not mean the doctrine of Christ. He does not intend to assert simply that there was perfect consistency in his own preaching, and that it agreed with the preaching of his associates. The truth asserted as that Christ, the Son of God, had not been manifested among them, or experienced by them to be unsatisfying or uncertain, but in him was yea. That is, he was simple truth. In him , i.e. in Christ, was truth. He proved himself to be all that was affirmed of him. He was and continued to be (ge>gonen ) all that they had been led to expect. Let, therefore, what will become of me and of my reputation for veracity, Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 20. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of God by us.

    This verse is the confirmation of what precedes. Christ was, and is, not yea and nay, not uncertain and inconsistent, for in him all the promises of God were fulfilled. All that God had promised relative to the salvation of man met its full accomplishment in him. Instead of, all the promises , the Greek is, as many promises That is, as many promises as had from the beginning been made as to what the Messiah was to be and to do. In him were the yea . That is, in him they found their affirmation or accomplishment. The article (to< nai> ), the yea, has reference to the promises. Christ, as regards the promises of God, was the yea , i.e. their affirmation and accomplishment. And in him the Amen . This is saying in Hebrew what had just been said in Greek; Amen being equivalent to yea. It is not unusual with the sacred writers to give solemn or impressive formulas in both languages. The promises of God are amen in Christ, because he is the sum and substance of them. He says in a sense which includes the idea here expressed, “I am the truth,” John 14:6; and in Revelation 3:7 he is designated as “He that is true;” and in Revelation 3:14 he is called, “The Amen, the faithful and true witness.” The common text, which is expressed in our version, has the support of the manuscripts D, E, I, K, which read kai< ejn aujtw~| and in him A, B, C, F, G have dio< kai< dij aujtou~ , wherefore also through him the Amen. This reading, which most recent editions adopt, was preferred by Calvin, who renders the passage, quare et per ipsum sit Amen . The Vulgate has the same reading, ideo et per ipsum Amen . The sense thus expressed is certainly better and fuller. The verse then teaches not only that the promises of God receive their confirmation in Christ, but also that we experience and assent to their truth. We say Amen, it is even so, to all God had promised, when we come to know Christ. To the glory of God by us . As these words are commonly pointed the natural interpretation is, that by us, i.e. by the preaching of the apostles, men are brought thus to say Amen to the divine promises, to the glory of God. God is glorified by the faith in his promises thus expressed. The words, however, admit of a different constructism. By us may be connected with the first part of the clause. ‘The Amen is said by us to the glory of God.’ This may mean, ‘We Christians render a glad assent to the promises; thus ratified in Christ.’ But us in the immediate context refers to the apostles, and therefore cannot be naturally here made to refer to Christians generally. Or, the meaning may be, ‘By us apostles testimony is given to the truth of the promises, to the glory of God.’ This last-mentioned interpretation, however, is inconsistent with the scriptural use of the expression “to say Amen,” which means simply to assent to, or to sanction. 1 Corinthians 14:6. The apostles did not say Amen to the promises by preaching the gospel; but through their preaching men were brought to say Amen; that is, they were led to the joyful experience and avowal of faith in what God had promised. In Christ, therefore, the promises were fulfilled; and in him also men were brought, through the apostles, joyfully to assent to them. Bengel’s pithy comment on this verse is: Nae respectu Dei promittentis, amen respectu credentium. “He that hath received his testimony, hath set to his seal that God is true.” John 3:33; 1 John 5:9,10. To receive God’s testimony concerning his Son, to say Amen, and to believe, all mean the same thing. 21, 22. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, (is) God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

    In the preceding verse the apostle had spoken of Christ as the truth and substance of all the divine promises, and of the cordial assent which believers gave to those promises; he here brings into view God as the author and preserver of their faith, who would assuredly grant them the salvation of which he had already given them the foretaste and the pledge. Now he; or, but he who stablisheth us with you in Christ . The word is o[ bebaiw~n , who renders firm or steadfast ; i.e. who causes us with you to stand firm, eijv Cristo>n , in reference to Christ, so that we adhere to him with unshaken constancy. As by the pronouns we and us , in what precedes, the apostle had meant himself and Silas and Timothy, here where he has reference to all believers he unites them with himself, us with you . The constancy in faith which God gave was not a gift peculiar to teachers, but common to all true Christians. And hath anointed us . Kings, prophets, and priests were anointed when inaugurated in their several offices; to anoint may therefore mean to qualify by divine influence, and thereby to authorize any one to discharge the duties of any office. In Luke 4:18 our Lord applies to himself the language of Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.” Acts 4:27; 10:38. “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth With the Holy Ghost.” In like manner Christians are spoken of as anointed, because by the Spirit they are consecrated to God and qualified for his service. 1 John 2:20,27. When Paul says here, hath anointed us , he means by us all Christians, and of course the anointing to which he refers is that which is common to all believers. This is plain, 1. Because the object of the two participles, bebaiw~n and cri>sav , here used, must be the same; ‘who establisheth us , and hath anointed us’ But with the former Paul expressly associates the Corinthians. He says, us with you . They as well as he were the subjects of the confirmation, and therefore also of the anointing. 2. What follows of sealing and receiving the earnest of the Spirit, cannot with any propriety be restricted to ministers. 3. In the New Testament official anointing is spoken of only in relation to Christ, never of apostles or preachers; whereas believers are said to receive the unction of the Holy Spirit.

    The design of the apostle is not, as some of the later commentators say, to assert that God had given to him the assurance of the Spirit as to his fidelity in preaching the gospel; but to show that believers were indebted to God for their faith, and that he would certainly cause them to persevere. Is God ; God it is who confirms and anoints his people. Comp. 5:5 for a similarly constructed passage. This is the common and natural explanation.

    Billroth and Olshausen render it thus: ‘God, who establishes and anointed us, also sealed us.’ But this makes the first part of the verse too subordinate; the sealing is not the dominant idea. It is only one of the several benefits specified. It is God who establishes, anoints, seals and gives the earnest of the Spirit. Who also hath sealed us. A seal is used, 1. To indicate proprietorship. 2. To authenticate or prove to be genuine. 3. To preserve safe or inviolate.

    The Holy Spirit, which in one view is an unction, in another view is a seal.

    He marks those in whom he dwells as belonging to God. They bear the seal of God upon them. Revelation 7:2; 1 Timothy 2:19. Act. Thom . § 26, oJ qeoskei ta< i]dia pro>bata , God knows by his seal his own sheep . He also bears witness in the hearts of believers that they are the children of God. He authenticates them to themselves and others as genuine believers. And he effectually secures them from apostasy and perdition. Ephesians 1:3; 4:30. This last idea is amplified in the next clause; and hath given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts . The Holy Spirit is itself the earnest , i.e. at once the foretaste and pledge of redemption. The word ajrjrJabw>n , pledge , is a Hebrew word, which passed as a mercantile term, probably from the Phenician, into the Greek and Latin. It is properly that part of the purchase money paid in advance, as a security for the remainder. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of his people, is that part of the blessings of redemption, which God gives them as a pledge of their full and final salvation. So certain, therefore, as the Spirit dwells in us, so certain is our final salvation. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his... But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you,” Romans 8:9-11. The indwelling of the Spirit is therefore called the first-fruits of redemption. Romans 8:23; Comp. Ephesians 1:14; 2 Corinthians 5:5. There is but one thing stated in these verses, and that is that God establishes or renders his people firm and secure in their union with Christ, and in their participation of the benefits of redemption. How he does this, and the evidence that he does it, is expressed or presented by saying he hath anointed, sealed, and given us the earnest of the Spirit. The indwelling of the Spirit, therefore, renders the believer secure and steadfast, it is his anointing; it is the seal of God impressed upon the soul, and therefore the pledge of redemption. The fruits of the Spirit are the only evidence of his presence; so that while those who experience and manifest those fruits may rejoice in the certainty of salvation, those who are destitute of them have no right to appropriate to themselves the consolation of this and similar declarations of the word of God. The perseverance of the saints is a perseverance in holiness. 23. Moreover, I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.

    Paul here returns to the original charge. The complaint against him for not having executed his purpose of going at once from Ephesus to Corinth, he had left on one side to meet the more serious charge of inconsistency in his teaching. Having answered that accusation, he here says, But I sparing you , i.e. for the sake of avoiding giving you pain, came not again to Corinth .

    The obvious implication is, that such was the state of things in Corinth that had he ‘gone there immediately on leaving Ephesus, as he had originally intended, he would have been obliged to appear among them with a rod. 1 Corinthians 4:21. It was to avoid that necessity, and to give them the opportunity to correct abuses before he came, that he had deferred his visit. As there was no available testimony by which the apostle could prove that such was his motive, he confirms it by an oath. I invoke God as a witness , i.e. I call upon the omniscient God, who is the avenger of all perjury, to bear testimony to the truth of what I say. “An oath for confirmation is the end of all strife,” Hebrews 6:16. All the bonds of society are loosened, and all security of life and property is lost, if men are not to be believed upon their oaths. This shows that human society depends on the sanctity of an oath; and as the oath derives all its sacredness from faith in God, as the providential and moral governor of the world, it is obvious that society cannot exist without religion. Superstition and false religion, although great evils, are far better than atheism. The words ejpi< thn , rendered on my soul , may mean against my soul; or, I summon God to me as a witness. The latter idea includes the former, for, as Calvin says, “He who uses God as a witness, cites the punisher of falsehood.” 24. Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand .

    This is intended to moderate and explain what precedes. ‘When I speak of sparing you, I do not wish to intimate that I consider myself the Lord over your faith.’ Not for that , oujc o[ti , equivalent to, I do not say that we have dominion over your faith. Some say faith is here used for believers, (the abstract for the concrete,) we have not dominion over believers; or, as St.

    Peter says, are not lords over God’s heritage. 1 Peter 5:3. Others say faith here means faith-life; we have not dominion over your Christian life.

    Both of these interpretations are unnatural and unnecessary. The word is to be taken in its ordinary sense. Paul disclaims all authority over their faith, either as a man or as an apostle. It was not for him, and if not for him, surely for no other man or set of men, to determine what they should believe. He called upon the Galatians to denounce him, or even an angel from heaven, as accursed, if he preached another gospel. Galatians 1:8.

    Faith rests not on the testimony of man, but on the testimony of God.

    When we believe the Scriptures, it is not man, but God whom we believe.

    Therefore faith is subject not to man but to God alone. This is perfectly consistent with the plenary inspiration of the apostles, and with our confidence in them as the infallible witnesses of the truth. When a man speaks through a trumpet, it is the man and not the trumpet that we believe. Or when we read a printed page, we have confidence in the trustworthiness of the words as symbols of thought, but it is the mind expressed by those symbols with which we are in communion. So the apostles were but the organs of the Holy Ghost; what they spoke as such, they could not recall or modify. What they should communicate was not under their control; they were not the lords, so to speak, of the gospel, so that they could make it what they pleased. Not at all; they were as much subject to the communication which they received, and as much bound to believe what they were made the instruments of teaching, as other men.

    Paul therefore places himself alongside of his brethren, not over them as a Lord, but as a joint-believer with them in the gospel which he preached, and a helper of their joy . That is, his office was to co-operate with them in the promotion of their spiritual welfare. It was not the end of the apostleship to give pain or to inflict punishment, but to promote the real happiness of the people. For by faith ye stand. The meaning of this clause is doubtful. Taken by themselves the words may mean, ‘Ye stand firm or independently as to faith.’ This would suit the connection as indicated by for . ‘We are not lords over your faith, but merely helpers, for you stand independently as to faith.’ Or the meaning may be what is expressed in our version, ‘Ye stand by faith.’ Then the connection, as explained by Calvin, is, ‘since it is the effect and nature of faith to sustain or cause you to stand, it is absurd that it should be subject to man, or that we should have dominion over your faith.’ This, however, is rather an obscure argument. According to Meyer the connection is with the immediately preceding words, ‘We are helpers of your joy, because ye are steadfast as to faith.’ That is, steadfastness in faith is necessary to joy. The most natural interpretation probably is that given by Erasmus: fidei nomine nullum habemus in vos dominium, in qua perseveratis; sed est in vita quod in vobis correctum volebam. ‘Over your faith I have no dominion, for in that ye stand; but, when I speak of not sparing, I had reference to your conduct.’ He had authority in matters of discipline, but not in matters of faith. As to the latter, he and they were equally under subjection to the revelation of God. He indeed, as the organ of the Spirit, could declare infallibly what that revelation was, but he could not go counter to it, and was to be judged by it. If the inspired apostles recognized not only their subjection to the word of God, but also the right of the people to judge whether their teachings were in accordance with the supreme standard, it is most evident that no church authority can make anything contrary to Scripture obligatory on believers, and that the ultimate right to decide whether ecclesiastical decisions are in accordance with the word of God, rests with the people. In other words, Paul recognizes, even in reference to himself, the right of private judgment. He allowed any man to pronounce him anathema, if he did not preach the gospel as it had been revealed and authenticated to the church. Quum eorum fidei dominari se negat, significat injustam hanc esse et minime tolerandam potestatem, imo tyrannidem in ecclesia. Fides enim prorsus ab hominum jugo soluta, liberrimaque esse debet. Notandum autem, quis loquatur: nam siquis omnino sit mortalium qui jus habeat tale dominium sibi vindicandi, Paulus certe dignus hac praerogativa fuit, fatetur qutem sibi non competere. Itaque colligimus, fidem non aliam subjectionem agnoscere, quam verbi Dei: hominum imperio minime esse obnoxiam.CALVIN.

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