EPISTLE 1. This was written by Paul at Ephesus, about A.D. 57, upon the receipt of intelligence respecting the Corinthian church, conveyed by members of the family of Chole, 1Co 1:11, and by a letter from the church requesting advice, 1Co 7:1, probably brought by Stephanus, etc., 1Co 16:17. Certain factions had arisen in the church, using his name and those of Peter, Apollos, and of Christ himself, in bitter partisan contentions. In the first part of this letter he endeavors to restore harmony among them, by reuniting them to the great and sole Head of the church. He then takes occasion to put them on their guard against teachers of false philosophy, and resting their faith on the wisdom of men instead the simple but mighty word of God. He proceeds, in 1Co 5, to reprove them for certain gross immoralities tolerated among them, such as they had formerly practiced like all around them, but which he charges them to banish form the church of Christ. He replies to their queries respecting celibacy and marriage, and the eating of food offered to idols; and meets several errors and sins prevalent in the church by timely instructions as to disputes among brethren, decorum in public assemblies, the Lord's supper, the resurrection of believers, true charity, and the right use of spiritual gifts, in which the Corinthian Christians excelled, but not without a mixture of ostentation and disorder. He directs them as to the best method of Christian beneficence, and closes with friendly greetings.
EPISTLE 2. This was occasioned by intelligence received through Titus, at Philippi. Paul learned of the favor reception of his former letter, and the good effect produced, and yet that a party remained opposed to him-accusing him of fickleness in not fulfilling his promise to visit them; blaming his severity towards the incestuous person; and charging him with an arrogance and assumption unsuited to his true authority and his personal appearance. In the course of his reply he answers all these objections; he enlarges upon the excellence of the new covenant, and the duties and rewards of its ministers, and on the duty of the Corinthian Christians as to charitable collections. He then vindicates his own course, his dignity and authority as an apostle, against those who assailed him. His last words invite them to penitence, peace, and brotherly love. This epistle seems to have been written soon after the first.
CORINTHIANS, Epistles to. St. Paul left Corinth A.D. 53 or 54, and went to Jerusalem. From Ephesus he wrote his First Epistle to the Corinthians, in the beginning of A.D. 56. In this epistle he reproves some who disturbed the peace of the church, complains of some disorders in their assemblies, of law suits among them, and of a Christian who had committed incest with his mother-in-law, the wife of his father, and had not been separated from the church. This letter produced in the Corinthians great grief, vigilance against the vices reproved, and a very beneficial dread of God's anger. They repaired the scandal, and expressed abundant zeal against the crime committed, 2Co 7:9-11.
To form an idea of the condition of the Corinthian church, we must examine the epistles of the Apostle. The different factions into which they were divided, exalted above all others the chiefs, ???? ???? ???? ?????????? [the very chiefest Apostles,] 2Co 11:5; 12:11, whose notions they adopted, and whose doctrines they professed to follow, and attempted to depreciate those of the opposite party. While, then, some called themselves disciples of Paul, Cephas, or Apollos, others assumed the splendid appellation of Christ's party. Probably they affected to be the followers of James, the brother of our Lord, and thought thus to enter into a nearer discipleship with Jesus than the other parties. The controversy, as we shall see from the whole, related to the obligation of Judaism. The advocates of it had appealed, even in Galatia, to Cephas and James, for the sake of opposing to Paul, who had banished Jewish ceremonies from Christianity, authorities which were not less admitted than his own. The question itself divided all these various parties into two principal factions: the partisans of Cephas and James were for the law; the friends of Paul adopted his opinion, as well as Apollos, who, with his adherents, was always in heart in favour of Paul, and never wished to take a part in a separation from him, 1Co 16:12. The leaders of the party against Paul, these ?????????????, [false apostles,] as Paul calls them, and ?????????????????? ??? ?????????? ???????, [transformers of themselves into the apostles of Christ,] who declared themselves the promulgators and defenders of the doctrines of Cephas, and James, were, as may be easily conceived, converted Jews, 2Co 11:22, who had come from different places,