Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 4.djvu/424

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30RINTHIANS


368


CORINTHIANS


better." (vii, 25-40.) — Principles of moral theology. In ch. vii and following chapters St. Paul solves sev- eral difficult cases of conscience, some of them of a very delicate nature, falling under what we should now call the tractatus de sexto (sc. pra:cepto decalogi). He would, doubtless, have preferred to be free from the necessity of having to enter into such disagreeable subjects; but as the welfare of souls required it, he felt it incumbent upon him, as part of his Apostolic office, to deal with the matter. It is in the same spirit that pastors of souls have acted ever since. If so many difficulties arose in a few years in one town, it was inevitable that numerous complicated cases should occur in the course of centuries amongst peo- ples belonging to every degree of barbarism and civil- ization ; and to these questions the Church was rightly expected to give a helpful answer; hence the growth of moral theology.

The Second Eplstle was written a few months after the First, in which St. Paul had stated that he intended to go roimd by Macedonia. He set out on this journey sooner than he had anticipated, on ac- count of the disturbance at Ephesus caused by Deme- trius and the votaries of Diana of the Ephesians. He travelled northwards as far as Troas, and after waiting some time for Titus, whom he expected to meet on his way back from Corinth, whither he had carried the First Epistle, he set sail for Macedonia and went on to Philippi. Here he met Titus and Timothy. The news that Titus brought him from Corinth was for the most part of a cheering character. The great major- ity were loyal to their Apostle. They were sorry for their faults'; they had obeyed his injunctions regard- ing the public sinner, and the man himself had deeply repented. We hear no more of the parties of Paul, Apollo, and Cephas, though the letter appears to con- tain one reference to the fourtli party. His friends, who had expected a visit from himself, were deeply grieved at his not coming as he had promised ; a few who were his enemies, probably judaizers, sought to take advantage of this to undermine his authority by discoi'ering in this a clear proof of fickleness of mind and instability of purpose; they said that his unwill- ingness to receive support betrayed want of affection; that he used threatening language when at a safe dis- tance, but was in fact a coward who was mild and con- ciliating when present; that they were foolish to let themselves be led by one who made the rather enor- mous pretension to be an Apostle of Christ, when he was nothing of the kind, and was in reality, both naturally and supernaturally, inferior to men they could name. This news filled the soul of St. Paul with the deepest emotion. He purposely delayed in Macedonia, and sent them this Epistle to prepare them better for his coming and to counteract the evil influence of his op- ponents. It was sent by Titus and two others, one of whom, it is almost certain, was St. Luke. The cir- cumstances under which the Epistle was -nTitten can be best gathered from the text itself. We can easily imagine the effect produced when it was read for the first time to the assembled Christians at Corinth, by Titus, or in the sonorous tones of the Evangelist St. Luke. The news that their great Apostle had sent them another letter rapidly spread through the city; the previous one had been such a masterly production that all were eager to listen to this. The great bulk of the expectant congregation were his entliusiastic ad- mirers, but a few came to criticize, especially one man, a Jew, who had recently arrived with letters of recom- mendation, and was endeavouring to supplant St. Paul. He said he was an Apostle (not one of The Twelve, but of the kind mentioned in the Didache). He was a man of dignified presence, as he .spoke slight- ingly of St. Paul's insignificant appearance. He was skilled in philosophy and polished in speech, and he insinuated that St. Paul was wanting in both. He knew little or nothing of St. Paul except by hearsay,


as he accused him of want of tletcrmination, of cow- ardice, and unworthy motives, things belied by every fact of St. Paul's historj^. The latter might terrify others by letters, but he would not frighten him. This man conies to the assembly expecting to be attacked and prepared to attack in turn. As the letter is being read, ever and anon small dark clouds appear on the horizon ; but when, in the second part, the Epistle has quieted down into a calm exhortation to almsgiving, this man is congratulating himself on his easy escape, and is already picking holes in what he has heard, t Then, suddenly, as upon the army of Sisara, the \ storm breaks upon him ; lightnings strike, thunder ( upbraids. He is beaten down by the deluge, and his » influence is swept out of existence by the irresistible ' torrent. At any rate, he is never heard of again. These two Epistles as effectively destroyed St. Paul's opponents at Corinth, as the Epistle to the Galatians annihilated the judaizers in Asia Minor.

Style. — This Epistle, though not written with the same degree of care and polish as the First, is more varied and spontaneous in style. Erasmus says that it would take all tlie ingenuity of a skilled rhetorician to explain the multitude of its strophes and figures. It was written with great emotion and intensity of feeling, and some of its sudden outbursts reach the highest levels of eloquence. It gives a deeper insight than any other of his writings into the character and personal history of St. Paul. With Comely, we may call it his " .\pologia pro Vita Sua", a fact which makes it one of the most interesting of the writings of the New Testament. Erasmus described it as follows: " Now it bubbles up as a limpid fountain ; soon it rushes down as a roaring torrent carrj-ing all before it; then it flows peacefully and gently along. Now it widens out as into a broad and tranquil lake. Yonder it gets lost to view, and suddenly reappears in quite a different direction, when it is seen meandering and winding along, now deflecting to the right, now to the left; then making a wider loop and occasionally doubling back upon itself."

Divisions of the Epistle. — It consists of three parts. In the first of these {chapters i to vii, inch), after (1) introduction, (2) the .\postle shows that his change of plan is not due to lightness of purpose but for the good of the people, and his teaching not mutable; (3) he did not wish to come again in sorrow. The repentant sinner, the cause of his sorrow, to be now reconciled (4) His great affection for them. (5) He does not re- quire, like others, letters of recommendation. They, as Christians, are his commendatory letters. (6) He writes with authority, not on account of arrogance, bvit because of the greatness of the ministry with which he was entrusted, as comjjared with the minis- try of Moses. Those who refuse to listen have the veil over their hearts, like the carnal Jews. (7) He endeavours to please Christ Who showed His love by dying for all, and will reward His servants. (8) Mov- ing exhortation.

The second part (chapters ^mi and ix) relates to the I collections for the poor Christians at Jerusalem. (1) He praises the Macedonians for their ready generosity in giving out of their poverty. He e.xhorts the Corinthians to follow their example in imitation of Christ Wlio ■ being rich, Ijccame poor for our sakes. (2) He sendi Titus and two others to make the collections and tc • remove all groimds of calumny that he was enrichinj' him.self. ('X) He has boasted of them in Macedoni;i that they began before others. (4) .-V. man shall reaj in proportion as he sows. God loves the cheerfu giver and is able to repay. Giving not only relieve the poor bretliren but causes thanksgiving to Ooi and prayers for benefactors.

The third part (last four chapters) is directed .agains the jiseudo- Apostles. (1) He is bold towards .soim who think he acts from worldly motives. He ha powerful arms from God for humbling such and i)un