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justs 8é, others ñuels obv, others ápa or
âpa oov, and one at least entirely omits
the connecting particle. The difficulty
in 8th was evidently felt, but sufficient
allowance was not made for St Paul's
freedom in the employment of con-
necting particles.
mat3torkms dANá x.r.X.] Observe
the omission of the article before
mauðtorkms; “not of any bondwoman’
whether Judaism or some form of hea-
thenism, for there are many (see the
note iv. 11), “but of the freewoman,
the lawful spouse, the Church of Christ,
which is one.’ See on i. Io dvépé-
movs metów v Beóv;
W. I. éAev6epig i kr.A.] If this
reading be adopted (see the detached
note, p. 200), the words are best taken
with the preceding sentence. They
may then be connected either (1) with
réxva Čorney ris Aev6épas, “we are sons
of the free by virtue of the freedom
which Christ has given us'; or (2) with
rms éAev6épas alone, ‘of her who is free
with that freedom which Christ etc.”
The latter is perhaps the simpler con-
struction. In either case ri, Asv6epig
K.T.A. serves the purpose of an explan-
atory note.
If on the other hand we read ri)

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References to his infirmity.

Different accounts.

i. Abodily complaint (tradition).

St Paul's infirmity in the flesh.

In the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (xii. 7) St Paul, after speaking of the abundant revelations vouchsafed to him, adds that “a thorn' or rather ‘a stake’ was ‘given him in his flesh, a messenger of Satan sent to buffet him, and thus to check the growth of spiritual pride. In the Epistle to the Galatians again (iv. 13, 14) he reminds his converts how he had “preached to them through infirmity of the flesh, commending them at the same time because they “did not despise nor loathe their temptation in his flesh, but received him as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.’ In the latter passage there is a variation of reading, which has some bearing on the interpretation. For ‘my temptation,’ which stands in the received text, the correct reading seems certainly to be ‘your temptation,” as I have quoted it". These passages so closely resemble each other that it is not unnatural to suppose the allusion to be the same in both. If so, the subject seems to have been especially present to St Paul's thoughts at the season when these two epistles were written; for they were written about the same time. What then was this ‘stake in the flesh, this “infirmity of the flesh,’ which made so deep an impression on his mind? Diverse answers have been given to this question”, shaped in many instances by the circumstances of the interpreters themselves, who saw in the Apostle's temptation a more or less perfect reflexion of the trials which beset their own lives. How far such subjective feelings have influenced the progress of interpretation, will appear from the following list of conjectures, which I have thrown into a rough chronological order. 1. It was some bodily ailment. This, which is the natural account of the incident, is also the first in point of time. A very early tradition defined the complaint; ‘per dolorem, ut aiunt, auriculae vel capitis,’ says Tertullian de Pudic. § 13. And this statement is copied or confirmed by Jerome (Gal. l.c.), “Tradunt eum gravissimum capitis dolorem saepe perpessum.' The headache is mentioned also by Pelagius and Primasius (both

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on 2 Cor. l.c.). Others seem to have followed a different tradition as to the complaint in question"; but in some form or other illness was the solution which suggested itself to the earliest writers. This appears to be the idea of Irenaeus, the first writer who alludes to the subject, and of Victorinus, the first extant commentator on the Epistle to the Galatians”. 2. “Nay, not so, argued Chrysostom (2 Cor, Gal), as others probably ii. Persehad argued before him; “it cannot have been a headache, it cannot have i. fa been any physical malady. God would not have delivered over the body of !. His chosen servant to the power of the devil to be tortured in this way. The Apostle is surely speaking of opposition encountered, of suffering endured from his enemies.’ And so for a time, and with a certain class of expositors, the thorn in the flesh assumed the form of persecution, whether from the direct opponents of the Gospel or from the Judaizers within the pale of the Church. This interpretation again was perhaps not uninfluenced by the circumstances of the times. At all events it would find a ready welcome, when the memory of the Diocletian persecution was fresh and when the Church was torn asunder by internal feuds. It appears at least as early as the middle of the fourth century in Eusebius of Emesa (Cramer's Catena, Gal. l.c.) among the Greek, and the Ambrosian Hilary (2 Cor, Gal.) among the Latin fathers. It is adopted also by Augustine (Gal.), by Theodore of Mopsuestia (Gal.), by Theodoret (2 Cor., Gal.), by Photius (, ap. CEcum, 2 Cor, Gal), and by Theophylact (2 Cor., Gal.)*. Thus it is especially the interpretation of the Greek commentators, though not confined to them. But in spite of such strong advocacy, this account of St Paul's thorn in the flesh at all events cannot be correct. The passages, which allude to it, point clearly to something inseparable from the Apostle, to some affliction which he himself looked upon and which was looked upon by others as part of himself. Any calamity overtaking him from without fails to explain the intense personal feeling with which his language is charged. The state of opinion on this subject at the close of the fourth century Jerome.

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by understanding of St Paul the mala-
dies which Nicetas (see below, note 3)
attributes to Gregory Nazianzen. Aqui-
nas mentions the opinion, “quod fuit ve-
hermenter afflictus dolore iliaco' (colic),
but I have not noticed it in any earlier
writer. On the whole the tradition of
the headache (ke paNaAyla) is fairly con-

* Iren. v. 3. 1, but his language is
obscure. Victorinus says, “infirmus
carne,' but this again is not free from

* It was so taken apparently also by Greg. Naz. Orat. xx. (de laud. Basil.) ad fin. (see the note of Nicetas), and by Basil, Reg. Fus. Tract. ad fin. (II. p. 4oo, Garnier).

may be inferred from the alternative explanations which Jerome offers in his commentary on the Galatians, derived in part from tradition, but partly without doubt conjectural. These are four in number : (1) St Paul's carnal preaching of the Gospel, as addressed to babes; (2) His mean personal appearance; (3) Some bodily malady, traditionally reported as headache; (4) Persecutions endured by him". 3. ‘No,' thought the monks and ascetics of a somewhat later date, ‘not persecution. It was surely something which we can realise, something which we have experienced in ourselves. Must he not have felt those same carnal longings, by which we have been dogged in our solitude, and which rise up hydra-like with seven-fold force as we smite them down? From these Paul thrice entreated the Lord to be delivered, as we have entreated Him; and was only answered, as we have been answered, by the indirect assurance, My grace is sufficient for thee.’ This interpretation does not appear in a very tangible form before the sixth century, but earlier writers had used language which prepared the way for it”. Throughout the middle ages it seems to have been very generally received; and Roman Catholic writers have for the most part adopted it. So it is taken by Aquinas, Bellarmine (de Monach. c. 30), Corn, a Lapide", and Estius. Luther is probably correct when he attributes the prevalence of this interpretation to the influence of the Latin version, which renders orkóAoy ri, gapki by “stimulus carnis.' This account again of St Paul's thorn in the flesh may confidently be set aside. In such a temptation he could not have “gloried”; nor would this struggle, hidden as it must have been in his own heart, have exposed him to the contempt of others. But indeed from painful trials of this kind we have his own assurance that he was free: ‘I would,” he says, “that all men were even as myself' (I Cor. vii.7). ‘Ah no,' said Luther, “he was too hard pressed by the devil to think of such things.” 4. And in turn Luther propounded his own view of the thorn in the flesh. He complained that the older churchmen were unable from their tual trials position to appreciate St Paul's meaning, and thus he consciously threw (Reforminto the interpretation of the passage his own personal experiences. It “” was certainly not carnal longing, he thought; it was not any bodily malady. It might mean external persecution, as others had maintained, but he inclined more and more to the view that spiritual trials were intended, faint-heartedness in his ministerial duties, temptations to despair or to doubt, blasphemous suggestions of the devil". This view naturally commends itself to the leaders of a new form of religious belief, owing to the difficulties of their position; and spiritual temptation was the account of St Paul's trial in which the reformers generally acquiesced. From them it found its way into Protestant writers of a later date, subject however to some modifications which adapted it to the more equable temper and the more settled opinions of their own day. Lastly, having thus travelled round the entire circle of possible inter- Recent pretation, criticism has returned to the point from which it started. Critics. Bodily ailment of some kind has been felt by most recent writers to be the only solution which meets all the conditions of the question. These conditions are as follows: (1) The Apostle speaks of physical pain Conditions of a very acute kind; for nothing less can be implied by his metaphor of of the proa stake driven through his flesh”. (2) The malady, whatever its nature, was very humiliating to himself, for he speaks of it as a set-off against his spiritual privileges and a check to his spiritual pride. (3) He seems to regard it, as he could not but regard such suffering, as a great trial to his constancy and resolution, a grievous hindrance to the Gospel in itself, a powerful testimony to the Gospel when overcome as he was enabled to overcome it. (4) His suffering was such that he could not conceal it from others. It seems to have attacked him in the course of his public ministrations, so that he feared it might expose him to the contempt and even loathing of his hearers. (5) In the meanhess of his personal presence, of which he was

iii. Carnal

thoughts (Ascetics).

iv. Spiri

* Ephraem Syrus (on Gal. iv. 18), a little earlier than Jerome, says “Either disease of his limbs or temptation from his enemies.’

* Jerome Epist. xxii (ad Eustoch.)
§ 5, says: “Si apostolus was electionis
et separatus in evangelium Christi ob
carnis aculeos et incentiva vitiorum
reprimit corpus suum, etc.,’ quoting
Rom. vii. 24, but he makes no refer-
ence to either of the passages in St Paul
which relate to his “thorn in the flesh,”
and in § 31 of the same letter he says,
‘Si aliquis te afflixerit dolor, legito,
datus est mihi stimulus carnis meae,' evi-
dently explaining it of somebodily pain.
The passage in Augustine, Ps. lviii.
Serm. ii. (Iv. pp. 572, 3), is vague, and
need not necessarily refer to this kind
of temptation. Pelagius gives, as one

interpretation, “naturalem infirmita-
tem'; Primasius more definitely, though
still only as an alternative explanation,
“alii dicunt titillatione carnis stimula-
tum.” Gregory the Great, Mor. viii.
c. 29, writes, ‘Sic Paulus ad tertium
caelum raptus ducitur, paradisi pene-
trans secreta considerat, et tamen ad
semetipsum rediens contra carnis bel-
lum laborat, legem aliam in membris
sustinet.' Comp. also x. lo. And thus,
as time went on, this opinion gained
strength, till at length it assumed the
coarsest and most revolting form.
* Corn. a Lapide on 2 Cor. xii. 7 al-
most exalts this interpretation into an
article of faith : “Widetur communis
fidelium sensus, qui hinc libidinis ten-
tationem stimulum carnis vocant: vox
autem populi est vox dei.’

* In his shorter and earlier com- akóAoy: see the notes of Meyer and

mentaryon the Galatians (1519) Luther
explains it of “persecution'; in his later
and fuller work (1535) he combines spi-
ritual temptations with persecution;
and lastly in the Table-talk he drops
persecutionand speaks of spiritual trials
only, xxiv. § 7 (vol. xxii. p. 1092 of
the Halle edition). This last passage
forms a striking contrast to the lan-
guage of a Lapide quoted in the last
note. “Those were high spiritual temp-
tations,’ says Luther, “which no papist
has understood,' with more in the same
strain. Thus each of these writers
makes his own interpretation in a man-
ner a test of orthodoxy. Other refer-
ences in Luther's works to the “thorn
in the flesh' are, vol. VIII. p. 959, x1.
P. 1437, xii. p. 561.
* This seems to be the meaning of

Stanley on 2 Cor. xii. 7. Robertson,
Lectures on the Corinthianslix, lx, speaks
of the thorn as peculiarly suggestive of
some “secret sorrow'; for ‘a thorn is a
small invisible cause of suffering.” The
Greek word however suggests no such
idea; nor is it consistent with the fear
of contempt orloathing expressed in the
Galatian Epistle. This slight blemish,
occurring where it does, may well be
overlooked in the latest utterance of
one who spoke from deep personal ex-
perience, having himself maintained a
hardstruggle against ‘fightings without'
and “fears within,” and “borne about
in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.’
The lesson of St Paul's sufferings is
nowhere more powerfully brought out
than in this exposition of the thorn in
the flesh.

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