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against it. It is more probable that he refers to what has already been said in the present epistle. The text rei admits of being rendered—“ I had written to you in this Epistle” (Whitby); or, “I have been writing to you" (BA Middleton); or, “I have already or just) written to you” (Bloomfield).
5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that
there is not a wise man among you ? no, no 1 The Corinthians must not vex their brethren, in one that shall be able to judge between his
going to law with them : 6 especially under infi- brethren ?
6 But brother goeth to law with brother, of Christ, 19 and temples of the Holy Ghost. 16, 17 They must not therefore be defiled.
7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault
among you, because ye go to law one with DARE
you, having a matter against another. 'Why do ye not rather take wrong? another, go to law before the unjust, and not why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be before the saints ?
defrauded ? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall 8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and judge the world ? and if the world shall be that your brethren. judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the 9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall smallest matters?
not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters how much more things that pertain to this nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers life?
of themselves with mankind, 4 If then ye have judgments of things 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkpertaining to this life, set them to judge who ards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inare least esteemed in the church.
herit the kingdom of God.
1 Matt, 6. 39. Luke 6. 29, Rom, 12. 19.
11 And such were 'some of you: but ye | members of Christ, and make them the memare washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are bers of an harlot? God forbid. justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and 16 What? know ye not that he which is by the Spirit of our God.
joined to an harlot is one body? for 'two, 12 'All things are lawful unto me, but all saith he, shall be one flesh. things are not 'expedient: all things are 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is lawful for me, but I will not be brought one spirit. under the power of any.
* 18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a 13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for man doeth is without the body; but he that meats: but God shall destroy both it and committeth fornication sinneth against his them. Now the body is not for fornication, own body. but for the Lord; and the Lord for the 19 What? Oknow ye not that your body body.
is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in 14 And God hath both raised up the you, which ye have of God, and ye are not Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.
20 For ’ye are bought with a price : there15 Know ye not that your bodies are the fore glorify God in your body, and in your meinbers of Christ ? shall I then take the spirit, which are God's.
Chap. 10. 23.
Gen. 2. 24. Matt. 19. 5. Ephes, 5. 31.
Tit. 3, 3.
Verse 1, " Dare any of you. ...go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints ?"- Michaelis and others have taken some pains to show that the Jews enjoyed the privilege which the Christians are here enjoined to exercise-that of settling their own differences among themselves. Vitringa quotes a law of Arcadius and Honorius, by which the Jews are indeed forbidden to hold courts of judicature ; but were permitted to have arbitrators, elected by the consent of both parties, whose decisions the Roman magistrates were bound to support and execute. As the Jews possessed this privilege so long after the destruction of Jerusalem, we may conclude that they enjoyed it before that time in still greater extent. And this inference is supported by a much more ancient Rescript of Lucius Antonius to the Sardinians, in which the privilege is represented as having been enjoyed by the Jews, and is further secured to them. The words of the Rescript, as quoted by Josephus, are as follows :-* The Jews have represented to me that they have had, from the very beginning, their own assembly, according to the custom of their ancestors, and their own place, where they settled disputes among themselves. As they have now requested that the same be further granted to them, I have determined that leave be given to them. It appears also from Tanchuma, fol. 92. 2, that the Jews had a law among themselves, by which all Israelites were bound, in case of any litigation, not to bring their disputes before any heathen tribunal. From these facts, as connected with the present text, it has been inferred that the Christians, being many of them Jews, and confounded with them, enjoyed the same privilege in this matter as they did. The facts are interesting, as showing the reluctance which Jews felt to go to heathen tribunals, and the exemption which they en. joyed. And as we believe that those Jews who were converted to Christianity, continued at this time to be looked upon as Jews by the heathen, we might conclude that the Apostle reproaches them for having dropped their own custom, if we were certain that he now addresses the Jewish portion of the Corinthian church. But if, as we rather think, he refers to the conduct of the Gentile converts, we have no reason to suppose that their civil position was modified by their having embraced the Christian faith, even although that faith were considered to give them a religious connection with the Jews. We are therefore disposed to understand the text quite independently of the facts we have stated. There never was a law on earth to oblige persons to appeal to a magistrate, if they were able to settle their differences among themselves, or by arbitrators of their own choosing—so long as they have no desire to enforce their conclusion by such measures as the civil power only could authorize. This, we believe, is what the Apostle counsels them to do, and reproves them for not doing: and to do this no authority or privilege from the civil government was necessary; although this could not be dispensed with by the Jews, when they desired that the conclusions of their arbitrators should have the force and effect of a judicial decision.
18. “ Flee fornication.”—The frequent cautions against lewdness, which the apostle gives to the Corinthian converts, are explais and illustrated by the character of Corinth, --notorious, even among the heathen, for the dissolute conduct of its inhabitants, and their abandonment to every kind of sensuality and voluptuous indulgence. The heathen world in general regarded the indulgence of the sensual appetites as a matter in itself indifferent; but even heathen morality was shocked at the proverbial excesses of Corinth. Indeed, what could be expected of the state of society in a town which possessed a temple to Venus, in which a thousand women were kept in honour of the goddess, and ministered to the gratification of her adorers ? Such abandoned worship was not only in itself sufficient to corrupt a city but secured to it the further corruption which it derived from the continual arrival of dissolute strangers, who came from all parts to visit this unholy temple. Considering, therefore, the loose principles in which the native converts had been brought up, the temptations by which they were surrounded, and the vague ideas concerning Christian liberty which they entertained, we can easily understand the deep anxiety which St. Paul experienced, and his frequent and earnest representations on this subject.
depart. A brother or a sister is not under
bondage in such cases : but God hath called 2 He treateth of marriage, 4 shewing it to be a re
us 'to peace. medy against fornication : 10 and that the bond
16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whethereof ought not lightly to be dissolved. 18, 20 Every man must be content with his vocation. 25 ther thou shalt save thy husband? or how Virginity wherefore to be embraced. 35 And for knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt what respects ưe may either marry, or abstain save thy wife? from marrying.
17 But as God hath distributed to every Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote man, as the Lord hath called every one, si unto me: It is good for a man not to touch | let him walk. And so ordain I in all a woman.
churches. 2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let
18 Is any man called being circumcised? every man have his own wife, and let every let him not become uncircumcised. Is any woman have her own husband.
called in uncircumcision ? let him not be cir 3 Let the husband render unto the wife cumcised. due benevolence: and likewise also the wife 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumunto the husband.
cision is nothing, but the keeping of the 4 The wife hath not power of her own commandments of God. body, but the husband : and likewise also
20 Let every
man abide in the same callthe husband hath not power of his own body, ing wherein he was called. but the wife,
21 Art thou called being a servant? care 5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, be with consent for a time, that ye may give use it rather. yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come 22 For he that is called in the Lord, together again, that Satan tempt you not being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: for your incontinency.
likewise also he that is called, being free, is 6° But I speak this by permission, and Christ's servant. not of commandment.
23 ‘Ye are bought with a price; be not 7 For I would that all men were even as ye the servants of men. I myself. But every man hath his proper 24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he gift of God, one after this manner, and an- is called, therein abide with God. other after that.
25 Now concerning virgins I have no 8 I say therefore to the unmarried and commandment of the Lord: yet I gire my widows, It is good for them if they abide judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy even as I.
of the Lord to be faithful. 9 But if they cannot contain, let them 26 I suppose therefore that this is good marry: for it is better to marry than to for the present 'distress, 1 say, that it is burn.
good for a man so to be. 10 And unto the married I command, yet 27 Art thou bound unto a wife ? seek not not I, but the Lord, 'Let not the wife depart to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? from her husband:
seek not a wife. 11 But and if she depart, let her remain 28 But and if thou marry, thou hast not unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband : sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not and let not the husband put away his wife. sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trou
12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord : ble in the flesh: but I spare you. If any
brother hath a wife that believeth | 29 But this I say, brethren, the time is not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, short: it remaineth, that both they that let him not put her away.
have wives be as though they had none; 13 And the woman which hath an hus- 30 And they that weep, as though they band that believeth not, and if he be pleased wept not; and they that rejoice, as though to dwell with her, let her not leave him. they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as
14 For the unbelieving husband is sanc- though they possessed not; tified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife 31 And they that use this world, is sanctified by the husband: else were your abusing it: for the fashion of this world children unclean; but now are they holy. passeth away. 15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him 32 But I would have you without care
3 Gr, made free. • Chat. 6. 0. 30, nccesit.
1 Matt. 5. 32, and 19, 9. Mark 10. 11. Luke 16. 18.
2 Gr. in peace.
fulness. He that is unmarried careth for if she pass the flower of her age, and need the things that belong to the Lord, how he so require, let him do what he will, he sinmay please the Lord :
neth not: let them marry. 33 But he that is married careth for the 37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedthings that are of the world, how he may fast in his heart, having no necessity, but please his wife.
hath power over his own will, and hath so 34 There is difference also between a decreed in his heart that he will keep his wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman virgin, doeth well. careth for the things of the Lord, that she 38 So then he that giveth her in marriage may be holy both in body and in spirit: but doeth well; but he that giveth her not in she that is married careth for the things of marriage doeth better. the world, how she may please her husband. 39 "The wife is bound by the law as long
35 And this I speak for your own profit; as her husband liveth; but if her husband not that I may cast a snare upon you, but be dead, she is at liberty to be married to for that which is comely, and that ye may whom she will; only in the Lord. attend upon the Lord without distraction. 40 But she is happier if she so abide,
36 But if any man think that he be after my judgment: and I think also that I haveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, have the Spirit of God.
6 Rom. 7. 2.
Verse I. “ Concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me."-Of these things he first considers the question of matrimony: from which it appears that the Corinthian church (or at least a party of it) had written to consult him on the subject. It is difficult to ascertain what their opinions were in this matter ; but taking the question as here stated, in connection with the nature of the disputes which distracted the church at Corinth, it may appear that, since the Jewish Christians were disposed to inculcate the necessity of marriage as an imperative and indispensable duty, the Gentile party were inclined to run into an opposite extreme, and insist on the superior advantages of celibacy, which it appears they justified by St. Paul's example, and also recommended to others. It would seem as if some went so far, that, although married, they resolved to practise a continual continency. The apostle answers that, in this matter, every one might act as he felt to be the best for himself; but seems to incline to the opinion that, under the circumstances of persecution and distress to which Christians were then exposed, it would be better for those to remain single who felt no constraining inducements to matrimony.
19. “ Circumcision is nothing.”—It is a fact that circumcision was not considered, even by the Jews, as absolutely indispensable for an Israelite. Hence, in their writings, we read of uncircumcised Israelites in full enjoyment of their religious privileges, and even of uncircumcised priests, who were not, by the want of circumcision, disqualified from discharging their sacerdotal functions. The principal cause of this was, when there was reason to apprehend that the child could not bear the operation, and that it might cost him his life. Thus it was rarely ventured to circumcise a child if three or four of his brothers had previously died from the effects of the operation. Hence we read (T. Hieros. Jevamoth, fol. 7.4.), “ An uncircumcised İsraelite is he whose brethren died of circumcision: and yet he is an Israelite, although uncircumcised. For the Israelites are not bound to perform the precepts where death will certainly follow ; for it is said, ' Laws, which if a man shall observe them, he shall even live in them,' not that he die in them." 'We are not, however, to infer that the Jews would have concurred in the apostle's estimate of circumcision: for although they made allowance in such cases, they were so far from holding that“ circumcision was nothing,” that they rather considered all things else as nothing without it.
21. “ If thou mayest be made free, use it rather.”—The slaves among the Greeks and Romans, and particularly the latter, seem, upon the whole, to have been much less favourably circumstanced than in the East. The power of the master over them was equally absolute, and much more tyrannically exercised. A Christian also must, as such, have experienced many difficulties in the service of a heathen master. Hence, while the apostle counsels them to “ care not for it,” he adds, that it would be better, if possible, to obtain their freedom. The early Christians felt all this; and hence we learn from the Apologies' of Justin Martyr and Tertullian, that, as far as their means allowed, they exercised their charity in purchasing the freedom of such of their brethren as were in the condition of slaves.
36. “Behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin."—Some think that the word rendered “virgin” means generally the virgin state, applicable to either sex, and therefore equivalent to our "single person.” But it has been justly objected, that there is no authority for this interpretation ; and that the ordinary use of the term, as well as the clear connection of the passage, requires us to read,“ his virgin daughter," not “his virginity:" The passage therefore refers to the case of a father, considering the marriage of his daughter, who had become marriageable. This must have been a matter of great anxiety to the parent; so much so, indeed, that it could not but form part of the apostle's consideration of the whole question. It should be recollected that celibacy was not in the East, and particularly among the Jews, reputable for either sex, and least so for females; and the discredit of the unmarried woman involved a serious discredit to her parent, as one who had not properly performed his duty by her, in using every exertion to get her married. Indeed, a man who allowed his daughter to remain unmarried, was considered as criminal as if he were a party to her prostitution: and to avoid the disgrace of having an unmarried daughter, he was even counselled to manumit his slave and marry her to him. Compare Ecclus. xlii. 9: “ The father waketh for the daughter, when no man knoweth; and the care for her taketh away sleep: when she is young, lest she pass the flower of her age; and, being married, lest she should be hated,” &c.
The feeling on the general subject, was not so strong among the Greeks and Romans as in the East; and many philosophers of high name taught that, to men, the single life might be recommended as the most free from care and the most favourable to the cultivation of knowledge. But even in Europe the celibacy of females was not advocated. For them marriage was on all hands allowed to be the most suitable condition, and a single life was not by any means free from reproach.
6 But to us there is but one God, the Fa1 To abstain from meats offered to idols. 8, 9 We ther, of whom are all things, and we 'in him; must not abuse our Christian liberty, to the offence and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all of our brethren: 11 but must bridle our know- things, and we by him. ledge with charity.
7 Howbeit there is not in every man that Now as touching things offered unto idols, knowledge: for some with conscience of the we know that we all have knowledge. idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edi- unto an idol; and their conscience being fieth.
weak is defiled. 2 And if any man think that he knoweth 8 But meat commendeth us not to God: any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he for neither, if we eat, 'are we the better; ought to know.
neither, if we eat not, *are we the worse. 3 But if any man love God, the same is 9 But take heed lest by any means this known of him.
Sliberty of your's become a stumblingblock 4 As concerning therefore the cating of to them that are weak. those things that are offered in sacrifice 10 For if any man see thee which hast unto idols, we know that 'an idol is nothing knowledge sit af meat in the idol's temple
, in the world, and that there is none other shall not the conscience of him which is God but one.
weak be emboldened to eat those things 5 For though there be that are called which are offered to idols; gods, whether in heaven or in earth, as 11 And through thy knowledge shall the there be gods many, and lords many,) weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 1 Chap 10. 19. ? Or, for hin, Rom. 11. 36.
• Or, hare we the less.
. Gr. edified
* Or, have we the more.
5 Or, goroer.