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γιος της έλεγθέροC. 31 διό, αδελφοί, ουκ έσμεν παιδίσκης τέκνα, αλλά της ελευθέρας [V] 'τη ελευθερία ή ημάς Χριστός ήλευθέρωσεν. στήκετε ούν και μη πάλιν ζυγώ δουλείας ενέχεσθε.
ημείς δέ, others ημείς ούν, others άρα or ελευθερία ήμας Χριστός ήλευθέρωσεν, the άρα ούν, and one at least entirely omits force of this detached sentence will the connecting particle. The difficulty be, ‘Did Christ liberate us that we in diò was evidently felt, but sufficient might be slaves ? no, but that we allowance was not made for St Paul's might be free.' Compare v. 13 éi' freedom in the employment of con- ελευθερία έκλήθητε, and especially John necting particles.
viii. 36 εάν ουν ο υιός υμάς ελευθερώση, ου παιδίσκης αλλά κ.τ.λ.] Observe όντως ελεύθεροι έσεσθε. The abruptthe omission of the article before ness of the sentence, introduced withπαιδίσκης ; not of any bondwoman' out a connecting particle, has a fair whether Judaism or some form of hea- parallel in Ephes. ii. 5 χάριτί εστε σεthenism, for there are many (see the owouévoi: but the dative, 'with' or note iv. 11), “but of the freewoman, 'in' or 'for freedom,' is awkward, in the lawful spouse, the Church of Christ, whatever way it is taken ; see A. Buttwhich is one. See on i. το ανθρώ- mann p. 155. πους πείθω ή τον θεόν;
OTÁKETE] 'stand firm, stand upV. 1. τη ελευθερία ή κ.τ.λ.] If this right, do not bow your necks to the reading be adopted (see the detached yoke of slavery'; comp. 2 Thess. ii. 15 note, p. 200), the words are best taken άρα ούν, αδελφοί, στήκετε κ.τ.λ. The with the preceding sentence. They form otńkw appears not to occur earmay then be connected either (1) with lier than the New Testament, where τέκνα εσμέν της ελευθέρας, we are sons with two exceptions (Mark iii. 31, xi. of the free by virtue of the freedom 25) it is found only in St Paul. which Christ has given us'; or (2) with Trav] 'again. Having escaped της ελευθέρας alone, of her who is free from the slavery of Heathenism, they with that freedom wbich Christ etc.' would fain bow to the slavery of JuThe latter is perhaps the simpler con- daism. Compare the similar expresstruction. In either case τη ελευθερία sions iv. 9 πως επιστρέφετε πάλιν, πάκ.τ.λ. serves the purpose of an explan- λιν άνωθεν δουλεύειν θέλετε. For the atory note.
force of these expressions see the inIf on the other hand we read tn troduction, p. 30, and the note on iv. 11.
St Paul's infirmity in the flesh.
Refer- In the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (xii. 7) St Paul, after speaking ences to
of the abundant revelations vouchsafed to him, adds that 'a thorn' or his infirmity.
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? Different Diverse answers have been given to this question, shaped in many accounts. 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 conjec
tures, which I have thrown into a rough chronological order. i. A bodily 1. It was some bodily ailment. This, which is the natural account of complaint the incident, is also the first in point of time. A very early tradition (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
i Of the three readings, TÒN TELPCOμόν μου τον έν, τον πειρασμόν τον εν (omitting μου), and τον πειρασμόν υμών év (omitting Tór), I have no hesitation in preferring the last; for (1) it is the most difficult of the three; (2) it accounts for the remaining two (see the note on the passage); and (3) it has far higher support than the others in the ancient copies. The Thebaio Version reads tov telpao Móv mov, as I have as. certained (see Scrivener's Introduction, p. 351, ed. 2). Eusebius of Emesa here (Cramer's Catena, p. 65)
and Origen on Ephes. iii. 14 (Cramer's Catena, p. 158) have a mixed reading TÓN πειρασμόν υμών τον έν κ.τ.λ. Εusebius is overlooked by Tischendorf.
2 A long list of references to writers who have discussed this question is given in Wolf Cur. Philol. on 2 Cor. xii. 7. I have to acknowledge my ob ligations chiefly to Calov. Bibl. Illustr. on 2 Cor. 1. c., and Stanley's Corinth. ians, p. 563 sq (2nd ed.). I have had no opportunity of using Bertholdt Opusc. 134 sq, to which I find frequent references in recent commentaries.
on 2 Cor. 1. 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 Irenæus, 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
cution been any physical malady. God would not have delivered over the body of thers).
(Greek faHis 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 uniniuenced 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. 1. 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. Ecum., 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.
1 An ancient writer (Cotel. Mon. Eccles. I. p. 252) says tpex@étoinoáμεθα την αφαίρεσιν· συναφέλωμεν αυταίς και τους εν τη κεφαλή σκάλοπας: κομάσαντες γάρ ούτοι επιπλέον ημάς οδυνώσι το μεν γαρ τρίχωμα ημών ην ο κατά τον βίον κόσμος, τιμαι, δόξαι, χρημάτων κτήDELS, K.T.N., on which the editor (p. 756) absurdly enough remarks, ex toto contextu suspicari datur a nostro per σκόλοπα αnimalcula quae caput pungunt intellecta esse.' The context, if I mistake not, fails to bear out this remark, bat Cotelier's conjectural interpretation is treated as a fact by recent writers, and so this is added to the list of tra. ditional accounts of St Paul's com. plaint. The list is still further swelled
by understanding of St Paul the mala-
a Iren. v. 3. 1, but his language is
3 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. 400, 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! ii. Carnal 3. 'No,' thought the monks and ascetics of a somewhat later date, thoughts ‘not persecution. It was surely something which we can realise, something (Ascetics).
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 suficient 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 Lapides, and Estius. Luthier is probably correct when he attributes the prevalence of this interpretation to the influence of the Latin version, which renders σκόλοψ τη σαρκί by stimulus carnis.'
.' This account again of St Paul's thorn in the fiesh 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'(1 Cor. vii. 7). 'Ah no,' said Luther, 'he was
too hard pressed by the devil to think of such things.' iv. Spiri- 4. And in turn Luther propounded his own view of the thorn in the
1 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 vas electionis et separatus in evangelium Christi ob carnis aculeos et incentiva vitiorum reprimit corpus suum, etc.,' quoting Rom. vii. 24, but he makes no reference to either of the passages in St Paul which relate to his 'thorn in the flesh,' and in 8 31 of the same letter he says, "Si aliquis te aflixerit dolor, legito, datus est mihi stimulus carnis meae,'evi. dentlyexplaining it of some bodily 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 infirmitatem '; Primasius more definitely, though still only as an alternative explanation, alii dicunt titillatione carnis sti ulatum.' Gregory the Great, Mor. viii. C. 29, writes, “Sic Paulus ad tertium caelum raptus ducitur, paradisi penetrans secreta considerat, et tamen ad semetipsum rediens contra carnis bellum laborat, legem aliam in membris sustinet. Comp. also x. 10. And thus, as time went on, this opinion gained strength, till at length it assumed the coarsest and most revolting form.
8 Corn, a Lapide on 2 Cor. xii. 7 al. most exalts this interpretation into an article of faith : Videtur communis fidelium sensas, qui hinc libidinis ten. tationem stimulum carnis vocant: vox autem populi est vox dei.'
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
ers). 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 com. mends 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,
blem. 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 meanness of his personal presence, of which he was
1 In his shorter and earlier com. okódoy: see the notes of Meyer and mentary on the Galatians (1519) Luther Stanley on 2 Cor. xii. 7. Robertson, explains it of "persecution'; in his later Lectures on the Corinthians lix,ls, speaks and fuller work (1535) he combines spi- of the thorn as peculiarly suggestive of ritual temptations with persecution ; some 'secret sorrow'; for 'a thorn is & and lastly in the Table-talk he drops small invisible cause of suffering. The persecution and speaks of spiritual trials Greek word however suggests no such only, xxiv. § 7 (vol. XXII. p. 1092 of idea; nor is it consistent with the fear the Halle edition). This last passage of contempt orloathing expressed in the forms & striking contrast to the lan. Galatian Epistle. This slight blemish, guage of a Lapide quoted in the last occurring where it does, may well be note. • Those were high spiritual temp- overlooked in the latest utterance of tations,' says Luther, which no papist one who spoke from deep personal ex. has understood,' with more in the same perience, having himself maintained a strain. Thus each of these writers hard struggle against 'fightings without makes his own interpretation in a man. and 'fears within,' and .borne about ner & test of orthodoxy. Other refer. in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.' ences in Luther's works to the thorn The lesson of St Paul's sufferings is in the flesh' are, vol. VIII. p. 959, XI. nowhere more powerfully brought out p. 1437, XII. p. 561.
than in this exposition of the thorn in % This seems to be the meaning of the flesh.