« AnteriorContinuar »
No. II. Our epistle purports to have been written after St. Paul had already been at Corinth: “I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom” (ii. 1.); and in many other places to the same effect. It purports also to have been written upon the eve of another visit to that church:“I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will," (iv. 19.); and again, I “ will come to you when I shall pass through Macedonia.” (xvi. 5.) Now the history relates that St. Paul did in fact visit Corinth twice : once as recorded at length in the eighteenth, and a second time as mentioned briefly in the twentieth chapter of the Acts. The same history also informs us, (Acts xx. 1.) that it was from Ephesus St. Paul proceeded upon his second journey into Greece. Therefore, as the epistle purports to have been written a short time preceding that journey; and as St. Paul, the history tells us, had resided more than two years at Ephesus, before he set out upon it, it follows that it must have been from Ephesus, to be consistent with the history, that the epistle was written; and every note of place in the epistle agrees with this supposition. “If, after the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not ?" (xv. 32.) I allow that the apostle might say this, wherever he was; but it was more natural and more to the purpose to say it, if he was at Ephesus at the time, and in the midst of those conflicts to which the expression relates. “The churches of Asia salute you.” (xvi. 19.) Asia, throughout the Acts of the Apostles and the epistles of St. Paul, does not mean the whole of Asia Minor or Anatolia, nor even the whole of the proconsular Asia, but a district in the anterior part of that country, called Lydian Asia, divided from the rest, much as Portugal is from Spain, and of which district Ephesus was the capital. Aquila and Pris cilla salute you.” (xvi. 19.) Aquila and Priscilla were at Ephesus during the period within which this epistle was written. (Acts xviii. 18. 26.) “I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.” (xvi. 8.) This,
I apprehend, is in terms almost asserting that he was at Ephesus at the time of writing the epistle.-—“A great and effectual door is opened unto me." (xvi. 9.) How well this declaration corresponded with the state of things at Ephesus, and the progress of the gospel in these parts, we learn from the reflection with which the historian concludes the account of certain transactions which passed there: “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed” (Acts xix. 20.); as well as from the complaint of Demetrius, “ that not only at Ephesus, but also throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded, and turned away much people.” (xix. 26.) "And there are many adversaries,” says the epistle, (xvi. 9.) Look into the history of this period: “When divers were hardened and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples.” The conformity therefore upou this head of comparison, is circumstantial and perfect. If any one think that this is a confor. mity so obvious, that any forger of tolerable caution and sagacity would have taken care to preserve it, I must desire such a one to read the epistle for himself; and, when he has done so, to declare whether he has discovered one mark of art or design ; whether the notes of time and place appear to him to be inserted with any reference to each other, with any view of their being compared with each other, or for the purpose of establishing a visible agreement with the history, in respect of them.
No. III. Chap. iv. 17.–19. “For this cause I have sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come unto you; but I will come unto you shortly, if the Lord will.”
With this I compare Acts xix. 21, 22: “ After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem ; saying, After I have been there I must also see Rome; so he sent unto Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus."
Though it be not said, it appears I think with sufficient certainty, I mean from the history, independently of the epistle, that Timothy was sent upon this occasion into Achaia, of which Corinth was the capital city, as well as into Macedonia: for the sending of Timothy and Erastus is, in the passage where it is mentioned, plainly connected with St. Paul's own journey: he sent them before him. As he therefore purposed to go into Achaia himself, it is highly probable that they were to go thither also. Nevertheless, they are said only to have been sent into Macedonia, because Macedonia was in truth the country to which they went immediately from Ephesus; being directed, as we suppose, to proceed afterward from thence into Achaia. If this be so, the narrative agrees with the epistle; and the agreement is attended with very little appearance of design. One thing at least concerning it is certain: that if this passage of St. Paul's history had been taken from his letter, it would have sent Timothy to Corinth by name, or expressly however into Achaia.
But there is another circumstance in these two pas sages much less obvious, in which an agreement holds without any room for suspicion that it ras produced by design. We have observed that the sending of Timothy into the peninsula of Greece was connected in the narrative with St. Paul's own journey thither; it is stated as the effect of the same resolution. Paul purposed to go into Macedonia ; " so he sent two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus." Now in the epistle also you remark that, when the apostle mentions his having sent Timothy unto them, in the Very next sentence he speaks of his own visit: “for this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my be. loved son, &c. Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you; but I will come to you shortly, if God will.” Timothy's journey, we see, is mentioned in the history and in the epistle, in close connexion with St. Paul's own. Here is the same order of thought and intention; yet conveyed under such diversity of circum
stance and expression, and the mention of them in the epistle so allied to the occasion which introduces it, viz. the insinuation of his adversaries that he would come to Corinth no more, that I am persuaded no attentive reader will believe, that these passages were written in concert with one another, or will doubt but that the agreement is unsought and uncontrived.
But, in the Acts, Erastus accompanied Timothy in this journey, of whom no mention is made in the epistle. From what has been said in our observations upon the Epistle to the Romans, it appears probable that Erastus was a Corinthian. If so, though he accompanied Timothy to Corinth, he was only returning home, and Timothy was the messenger charged with St. Paul's or. ders.--At any rate, this discrepancy shews that the passages were not taken from one another.
No. IV. Chap. xvi. 10, 11. "Now, if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear; for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do: let no man therefore despise him, but conduct him forth in peace,
that he may come unto me, for I look for him with the brethren."
From the passage considered in the preceding number, it appears that Timothy was sent to Corinth, either with the epistle, or before it: “for this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus." From the passage now quoted, we infer that Timothy was not sent with the epistle: for had he been the bearer of the letter, or accompanied it, would St. Paul in that letter have said, “If Timothy come ?" Nor is the sequel consistent with the supposition of his carrying the letter; for if Timothy was with the apostle when he wrote the letter, could he say as he does, “ I look for him with the brethren ?” I conclude therefore, that Timothy had left St. Paul to proceed upon his journey before the letter was written. Farther, the passage before us seems to imply, that Ti. mothy was not expected by St. Paul to arrive at ca rinth, till after they had received the letter. He gives them directions in the letter how to treat him when he should arrive : « If he come" act towards him so and
so. Lastly, the whole form of expression is most na. turally applicable to the supposition of Timothy's coming to Corinth, not directly from St. Paul, but from some other quarter; and that his instructions had been, when he should reach Corinth to return. Now, how stands this matter in the history Turn to the nineteenth chapter and twenty-first verse of the Acts, and you will find that Timothy did not, when sent from Ephesus, where he left St. Paul, and where the present epistle was written, proceed by a straight course to Corinth, but that he went round through Macedonia. This clears up every thing; for, although Timothy was sent forth upon his journey before the letter was written, yet he might not reach Corinth till after the letter arrived there; and he would come to Corinth, when he did come, not directly from St. Paul at Ephesus, but from some part of Macedonia. Here, therefore, is a circumstantial and critical agreement, and unquestionably without design; for neither of the two passages in the epistle mentions Timothy's journey into Macedonia at all, though nothing but a circuit of that kind can explain and reconcile the expressions which the writer uses.
No. V. Chap. i. 12. “ Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ.”
Also, iii. 6. “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”
This expression, “I have planted, Apollos watered," imports two things; first, that Paul had been at Corinth before Apollos; secondly, that Apollos had been at Corinth after Paul, but before the writing of this epistle. This implied account of the several events, and of the order in which they took place corresponds exactly with the history. St. Paul, after his first visit into Greece, returned from Corinth into Syria by the way of Ephesus; and, dropping his companions Aquila and Priscilla at Ephesus, he proceeded forwards to Jerusalem; from Jerusalem he descended to Antioch; and from thence made a progress through some of the upper