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gating, for the purpose of persuading us, that divine revelation is unnecessary in matters of religion. They are of use likewise in shewing the falsehood of those philosophical principles, whereby deists have endeavoured to disprove the facts recorded in the Gospel history. Lastly, they prove, that a studied artificial rhetoric is not necessary, in communicating to the world the revelations of God.
SECTION V. of the Time and Place of writing the First Epistle to the Corinthians.
Of the place where this epistle was written, there never has been any doubt. The mention that is made, chap. xvi. 8. of the apostle's purpose of remaining in Ephesus till Pentecost, and the salutation of the churches of Asia, ver. 19. shew, that this letter was written, not at Philippi, as the spurious postcript indicates, but at Ephesus, during the apostle's second abode in that city, of which we have the account, Acts xix. 1.-41.
It is not so generally agreed, at what particular time of the apostle's abode in Ephesus, this letter was written. Mill, in his Prolegomena, No. 9. says it was written after the riot of Demetrius, because the apostle's fighting with wild beasts at Ephesus, is mentioned in it, chap. xv. 32. which he thinks happened during that riot. But Paul did not then go into the theatre, being restrained by the disciples, and by some of the Asiarchs who were his friends, Acts xix. 30, 31. His fighting with wild beasts, therefore, at Ephesus, must have happened in some previous tumult, of which there is no mention in the history of the Acts. That the First Epistle to the Corinthians was written a little while before the riot of Demetrius and the craftsmen, appears to me probable from two circumstances. The first is, the apostle told the Corinthiaris, chap. xvi. 8, 9. That he resolved to abide in Ephesus till Pentecost, on account of the great success with which he was then preaching the gospel. The second circumstance is, that Demetrius, in his speech to the craftsmen, mentioned the much people whom Paul had turned from the worship of idols, as a recent event; and by shewing that Paul's doctrine, concerning the gods who are made with the hands of men, effectually put an end to their occupation and wealth, he excited the craftsmen to make the riot. These two circumstances joined, lead us to conclude, that the First Epistle to the Corinthians was written a little while before the riot. For if it had been written after the riot, the apostle could not have said, I will abide at Ephesus till Pentecost.
On supposition that the First Epistle to the Corinthians was written a little while before the riot of Demetrius, its date may be fixed to the end of the year 56, or the beginning of the year 57, in the following manner. The apostle, as has been shewn, sect. 1. came to Corinth the first time, about the beginning of summer in the year 51. On that occasion, he abode near two years, Acts xviii. 11. 18. then set out by sea for Syria, with an intention to celebrate the ensuing feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem, ver. 21. This was the Pentecost which happened in the year 53. Having celebrated that feast, he went immediately to Antioch; and after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, ver. 22, 23. and passing through the upper coasts, he came to Ephesus, Acts xix. 1. In this journey, I suppose he spent a year and four months. These, brought into the account after the feast of Pentecost in the year 53, will make the apostle's second arrival at Ephesus, to have happened in the autumn of 54. At Ephesus, he abode two years and three months; at the end of which the riot of Demetrius happened. These, added to the autumn of 54, bring us to the end of the year 56, or the beginning of the year 57, as the date of the riot, and of the apostle's First Epistle to the Corinthians. Accordingly Pearson places it in the year 57. And Mill more particularly in the beginning of that year: because it is said, chap. v. 7. For Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, 8. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, &c.
Farther, the apostle, a while before the riot of Demetrius, speaking of his going to Jerusalem with the collections, said, Acts xix. 21. After I have been there, I must also see Rome. From this Lightfoot very well conjectures, that Claudius was then dead, and that the news of his death, which happened Oc. tober 13. A. C. 54. had reached Ephesus ; because if he had been alive, and his edict in force, St. Paul would not have thought of going to Ronie. I add, that before he took such a resolution, he must have known that Nero was well affected to the Jews, and that the Christians were re-established at Rome. But as some months must have passed before Nero discovered his sentiments respecting the Jews, and before the church was actually
re-established in the city, the apostle could not well be informed of these things, before the spring of the year 56, that is about 18 months after Claudius's death.
Of the Messengers by whom the First Epistle to the Corinthians was sent,
and of the Success of that Epistle..
At the time the apostle wrote this letter, he was in great distress, (2 Cor. ii. 4.) being afraid that the faction would pay no regard to it. And therefore, instead of sending it by the messengers who had come from Corinth, he sent it by Titus, 2 Cor. vii. 7, 8. 13. 15. that his presence and exhortations might give it the more effect. And as it contained directions concerning the collections for the saints, chap. xvi. the apostle desired Titus to urge the sincere among the Corinthians, to begin that good work, 2 Cor. viii. 6. With Titus, the apostle sent another brother, (1 Cor. xii. 18.) probably an Ephesian, whose name is not mentioned, but who no doubt was a person of reputation ; seeing he was appointed to assist Titus in healing the divisions which had rent the Corinthian church. And that they might have time to execute their commission, and return to the apostle at Ephesus, he resolved to remain there till the ensuing Pentecost. It seems he did not think it prudent to go himself to Corinth, till he knew the success of his letter, and how the Corinthians stood affected towards him, after they had read and considered it.
As this letter, of which Titus was the bearer, contained the apostle's answer to the one which the Corinthians had sent to him, we may believe the messengers by whom it was sent, namely, Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, 1 Cor. xvi. 17. would go along with Titus and the brethren. Be this, however, as it may, Titus and his companions, on their arrival at Corinth, had all the success in executing their commission, which they could desire. For on delivering the apostle's letter, the Corinthians received them with fear and trembling, (2 Cor. vii. 15.) expressed the deepest sorrow for their miscarriages, (ver. 9.-11.) and paid a ready obedience to all the apostle's orders, ver. 15, 16. But the news of this happy change in their temper, the apostle did not receive, till leaving Ephesus he came into Macedonia, where it seems he waited till Titus arrived, and brought him such an account of the greatest part of the church at Corinth, as gave him the highest joy, 2 Cor. vii. 4.7. 13.
Because Sosthenes joined the apostle in this letter, Beza thinks he was the apostle's amanuensis in writing it. And for the same reason he supposes the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, to have been written by Timothy. But all this is mere conjecture, as is plain from Beza's note on Gal. vi. 11.
View and Illustration of the Matters contained in the First Chapter of this
Epistle. The teacher who came to Corinth after the apostle's departure, with a view to lessen his authority among the Corinthians, boldly affirmed that he was no apostle. Wherefore, to shew the falsehood of that calumny, St. Paul, after asserting his own apostleship, and giving the Corinthians his apostolical benedicion, mentioned a fact well known to them all, by which his title to the apostleship was established in the clearest manner. Having communicated to the Corinthians, a variety of spiritual gifts immediately after their conversion, he thanked God for having enriched them with every spiritual gift, at the time his preaching concerning Christ was confirmed among them, ver. 4.-7. By making the spiritual gifts with which the Corinthians were cnriched immediately on their believing, a subject of thanksgiving to God, the apostle in a delicate manner put them in mind, that they had received these gifts long before the false teacher came among them ; consequently, that they had received none of their spiritual gifts from him, but were indebted to the apostle himself for the whole of them ; also that they were much to blame for attaching themselves to a teacher, who had given them no proof at all, either of his doctrine or of his mission. See the View prefixed to 2 Cor. xii. verses 12, 13.
St. Paul, by thus appealing to the spiritual gifts which he had imparted to the Corinthians, having established his authority as an apostle, exhorted them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to live in union and peace, ver. 10.–For he had heard, that after the example of the disciples of the Greek philosophers, each of them claimed peculiar respect, on account of the supposed eminence of the person who had taught him, and attached himself to that teacher, as if he, rather than Christ, had been the author of his faith, ver. 11, 12.—But to make them sensible that Christ was their only master, the apostle asked them, Whether Christ, that is, the church of Christ, was divided into different sects, under different masters, like the Grecian schools of philosophy ? and whether any of their teachers was crucified for them ? and whether thay had been baptized in the name of any of them? ver. 13.—Then thanked God, since they made such a bad use of the reputation of the persons who baptized them, that he had baptized but a few of them, ver. 14, 15, 16.And to shew that they derived no advantage from the dignity