Are There Two Epistles in 2 Corinthians.

By J. H. Kennedy


The document which is described in our Bibles as the " Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians " has always been regarded by commentators as an especially difficult one; and among its difficulties none has been felt more strongly than the striking difference between the relation of the Apostle to the Corinthian Church revealed to us in the first nine chapters, in which he almost exhausts the resources of language in describing the fulness of his joy at their reconciliation to himself after a temporary estrangement, and the relation which appears to be revealed to us in the four concluding chapters, in which the estrangement appears to be present and not past.

More than a century ago Semler suggested that these portions did not originally belong to the same epistle. He seemed to regard the contrast between them as sufficient evidence for his theory, and did not seek for farther proof; and he complicated the theory by advocating further alterations of the text, some of which he afterwards abandoned or modified. In fact he divided 2 Corinthians into three epistles:(1) 2 Corinthians i.-viii., to which he added Romans xvi. and 2 Corinthians xiii. 11 to end; (2) 2 Corinthians x. 1 to xiii. 11; (3) 2 Corinthians ix. Meyer, in his reply to this theory, endorsed the statement of Hug, that we might as well divide the περὶ σεφάνου of Demosthenes into two orations because the first part is calm and the second part vehement. Semler's theory did not for a long time gain much acceptance even in Germany, and in England it was completely ignored; so much was this the case that Dean Alford in his Introduction to 2 Corinthians acknowledged that he derived his information about the theory from Meyer's reply to it. In process of time, how ever, fresh advocates appeared in Germany; and in the year 1870 Professor Hausrath, of the University of Heidel berg, published a pamphlet, entitled Der Vier-Capitel-Brief des Paulus an die Corinther, in which he advocated the division of 2 Corinthians into two separate epistles; the division being made at the end of the ninth chapter. Hausrath went into more detailed proof of his theory than Semler had done; he particularised four points of difference which had arisen between St. Paul and the Corinthian Church: (1) The case of the incestuous person; (2) Suspicions about the collection for Jerusalem; (3) The announcement of St. Paul's approaching visit to Corinth and the subsequent postponement of the visit; (4) The controversy with the Judaising party there. Taking these points one by one, he claimed that he could show that chapters x.-xiii. of 2 Corinthians represent an earlier stage of the controversy than chapters x.-xiii. The treatise is marked by acuteness and ability, but in discussing each of the four heads Professor Hausrath frames hypotheses about the position of things at Corinth, and the accusations brought against the Apostle, which do not appear to me to be capable of being sufficiently established to be made in their turn the foundations of an important theory; and by far the most telling part of the reply which was made by Professor Klöpper to the pamphlet is, in my opinion, his examination of some of these hypotheses.

Since 1870 the question has become to some extent an open one in Germany, but in England it has as yet received very slight notice; commentators, when they do not ignore it altogether, generally confining themselves to a passing reference to Klöpper's refutation of Hausrath's treatise.

A sentence in a short introduction to an unfinished Commentary by Bishop Lightfoot, which has been published since his death, seems to me to suggest that that great scholar regarded the matter as one which should not be quite to summarily disposed of, for he classes both Hausrath's and Klöpper's treatises among works which will well repay examination, while at the same time he refrains from expressing any opinion on the theory or even stating it. This reserved attitude, taken in connection with his respectful mention of both the opponents, makes it probable that he suspended his judgment on the matter, and that bad time and strength been spared to him he would have further investigated a subject which his words implied to be one that would repay investigation.

It was not by any of these writers that my own attention was first called to the question, but by a remark which was made in my hearing by the late Dr. Reichel, Bishop of Meath, to the effect that he was convinced that there were two epistles in 2 Corinthians, and that the last written stands before the earlier. Though I had a very high respect for his acuteness of mind and profound scholarship, I was at first strongly prejudiced against what appeared to me to be a mutilation of the Epistle; but as from time to time I closely examined the text, proofs of various kinds appeared to multiply, all converging to the same conclusion — that the epistle referred to in 2 Corinthians ii. 4 as written ἐκ πολλῆς θλίψεως καὶ συνοχῆς καρδίας was not our 1 Corinthians but an epistle whose closing portion we possess in chapters x.-xiii. of 2 Corinthians.

It occurred to me that if these were two separate epistles, written by the same writer, with only a short interval between them, and referring to the same circum stances seen from such very different standpoints, it was not improbable that there might be some passages in which the epistle which was written later might refer back either to the very phraseology of passages in the earlier epistle, or to the acts or purposes spoken of, or the thoughts or feelings which underlay the words of those passages.

I think that I have discovered three such pairs of corresponding passages, and I would specially call the attention of the critical reader to the fact in each of these pairs — the act, or purpose, or feeling, which in 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. is present or future, in 2 Corinthians i.-ix. is spoken of as belonging to the past.

The first of these passages which I shall adduce is 2 Corinthians xiii. 10: " For this cause I write these things while absent that I may not when present deal sharply" διὰ τοῦτο ταῦτα ἀπὼν γράφω, ἵνα παρὼν μὴ ἀποτόμως χρήσωμαι.

With this I would compare 2 Corinthians ii. 3, " And I wrote this very thing, lest when I came I should have sorrow." Καὶ ἔγραψα τοῦτο αὐτὸ, ἵνα μὴ ἐλθὼν λύπην ἔχω. This is the very paragraph in which the Apostle is speaking of having written out of much affliction, so that unless the correspondence between the passages be merely apparent, it is a direct identification of 2 Corinthians xiii. 10 as part of the epistle referred to in 2 Corinthians ii. 4 as written ἐκ πολλῆς θλίψεως.

The second passage from 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. which I wish to adduce is taken from the same chapter as the last. It is 2 Corinthians xiii. 2, " If I come again, I will not spare," ἐὰν ἔλθω εἰς τὸ πάλιν οὐ φείσομαι. With which I compare 2 Corinthians i. 23, " To spare you I forbare to come unto Corinth," φειδόμενος ὑλῶν οὔκετι ἦλθον εἰς Κόρινθον. If "οὔκετι" here be taken in its usual meaning as equivalent to " no more," " not again," the parallelism of the two passages will be even clearer than it is in either the Revised or Authorised translations. That it should be thus translated can, I think, be proved, not only because this is the proper meaning of the word; whereas the rendering of our Authorised translation "Not as yet" would represent οὔπω; but also because St. Paul carrying on the thought in the following verse adds "But" (or "For," which has strong manuscript authority) " I deter mined this for myself, that I would not come again to you with sorrow." Here there can be no doubt as to the meaning of the word πάλιν. It is in fact the very word which he employed in 2 Corinthians xiii. 2.

The passages which I have quoted from, 2 Corinthians x.-xiii., are both taken from the closing chapter, and the corresponding passages from 2 Corinthians i.-ix. have been found near the opening of the epistle. This is what might have been expected a priori in letters standing to each other in the relation in which I contend that these epistles stand. It would in such a case be highly probable that the opening part of the later letter would contain references to the thoughts and plans which had occupied the mind of the writer when he was concluding the letter which immediately preceded it.

The next passage to which I would ask the critical reader to turn is to be found in 2 Corinthians x. 6:" Being in a readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be fulfilled "; but the corresponding passage in 2 Corinthians i.-ix. is, like the two former ones, taken from the portion of the epistle where St. Paul is speaking of the letter written ἐκ πολλῆς θλίψεως. It will be found in 2 Corinthians ii. 9:"For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye are obedient in all things." His words imply that he is satisfied that they are now obedient in all things; and later on he expressly asserts this; for in 2 Corinthians vii. 15, 16 he says (speaking of the result of Titus's mission), " Whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him. I rejoice therefore that in everything I am of good courage concerning you." He is now so far from any longer entertaining the purpose " to avenge disobedience," that he gives the Corinthian Church a carte blanche in the matter of forgiveness in the very next verse to the one which I have quoted as a parallel. " To whom ye forgive any thing I forgive also." 2 Corinthians ii. 10.

These pairs of corresponding passages, important as I believe them to be, form but a portion of the mass of evidence which can be produced. The best way of giving an idea of the number of ways in which this theory can be tested will be to mention briefly some of the alterations in the opinions that are held concerning the time and place of origin of 1 and 2 Corinthians, which would necessarily follow from the establishment of the theory as I hold it.

But I must first state the theory itself more fully than I have as yet done. The thesis which I have to prove is this — That there were four epistles written by St. Paul to the Corinthian Church. The first of these is alluded to in 1 Corinthians v. 9, and is now admitted by almost all commentators to be lost. The second is our 1 Corinthians. The beginning of the third epistle and the end of the fourth are lost, having perished before the first copy of our existing texts was made — very possibly from the same cause to which we owe the destruction of the first letter. It is probable from the allusions in 2 John 12 and 3 John 13, that some at least of the epistles were written on papyrus, which is a very perish able material and could easily be destroyed by constant handling or by any one out of the many accidents to which papers are exposed. (Bishop Lightfoot in his note on the lost epistles of St. Paul to the Philippians reminds us that " on the ground of inspiration we cannot assuredly claim for the letters of the Apostle an immunity from the ravages of time, which was denied to the words of the Saviour Himself.") The part which remains to us of the third Epistle is, as I believe, contained in 2 Corinthians x.-xiii., and the fourth Epistle in 2 Corinthians i.-ix. The fourth Epistle is probably almost entire; for the closing verses of 2 Corinthians vii. have all the appearance of being the conclusion of the discussion of the troubles which had agitated the Apostle but were now happily ended; and in the eighth chapter he passes to the topic of the Collection, which in 1 Corinthians conies at the end of all the doctrinal and disciplinary discussions, and immediately before the final messages and salutations.

How the maker of the first copy of these epistles came to unite in one the fragments of two letters cannot of course be shown with certainty; but I think we may perceive a very probable cause for his mistake. The closing portion of the fourth Epistle, which forms the ninth chapter of 2 Corinthians, refers to an approaching visit to be paid by the Apostle, while the tenth chapter also speaks of a visit. It is indeed a visit of a very different kind. There is an apparent resemblance concealing a deep-seated difference; but this is precisely the complexion of things which would be likely to mislead a copyist, and cause him to unite the two, placing the epistle which had lost its beginning after the epistle which had lost its conclusion. Once the mistake was made it would be irreparable, and would be necessarily followed by all subsequent copies. The Jews used to show their respect for sacred manuscripts in a very different way from that which would be followed by the men of the nineteenth century. We would preserve them carefully in our libraries. They used reverently to bury the papyrus or parchment lest it should ever be put to unhallowed uses; and as we know that in the earliest days the Christian Church followed in many things the customs of the Synagogue, it is probable that when a copy had been made on very superior material, the Jewish mode of sepulture would be the fate of the old and tattered pieces of papyrus which we would have looked on as so priceless.

This is an outline of the theory, and I will now state briefly its necessary consequences. If it be true, 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. must have been written from Ephesus, not from Macedonia; 1 Corinthians cannot be the Epistle referred to in 2 Corinthians ii. 3; and, furthermore, it must have been written at a longer interval before the departure of the Apostle from Ephesus than has been generally supposed hitherto. It is scarcely possible that a false theory, which necessitated such various changes, would not expose itself to conclusive refutation under some of these heads; and it is still more unlikely that there could possibly be an apparently strong confirmation under every one of them, if the theory were really false and the changes were aberrations from the true point of view. I hope to be able to show that there is so strong a confirmation of the theory derived from each of these separate and distinct means of testing it, as is incompatible with the falsehood of the theory itself.

The occasion of St. Paul's writing 2 Corinthians i.-ix. was the successful result of the mission of Titus to the Corinthian Church. This is admitted by all. The keynote of these chapters is truly described in the Speaker's Commentary as "Comfort in affliction"; the word παράκλησις occurring eleven times in these chapters, while it does not appear once in 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. The Apostle does not leave us in doubt as to the cause of this comfort, and of the joy with which he says that he now overflows (2 Cor. vii. 4). It was the coming of Titus, and not his coming only, but the tidings which he brought with him of the repentance and zeal of the Corinthian Church, which had changed his great sorrow into great joy. This keynote of παράκλησις is struck in the very beginning of the first chapter, and it is maintained throughout; for whenever for a short interval the writer digresses in order to give counsel or warning, he comes back again quickly to the subject of his thankfulness and joy, and the completeness of the reconciliation which has been effected; and at the end of the seventh chapter he concludes the subjects which he has been discussing with the words, " I rejoice, therefore, that I have confidence in you in all things."

The two following chapters deal with the question of the collection, and in them the same affectionate and cheerful tone is maintained. The approaching visit seems to be looked forward to with pleasure, the only cause of apprehension being lest, as the Apostle has been praising the Corinthian Church so highly to the Macedonians, they may not in this particular be found to be quite so good as he has depicted them; this apprehension being expressed in language which is affectionate and almost playful. " Lest we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting." He closes these chapters with the ejaculation, " Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift."

Then, after this climax of adoring gratitude, without explanation of any kind, all is suddenly changed, and a torrent of mingled pathos and indignation is poured out, being continued through four chapters till the final fare well and blessing of the last four verses; the cheerful tone of the nine chapters being never resumed for a moment. These four verses indeed express earnest affection, but I cannot agree with Weber that there is in this anything inconsistent with the argument of the four chapters at the close of which they stand; for these four chapters are, after all, the utterances of love, though it be wounded love. We need not, therefore, think it strange if the Apostle, be fore he closes his letter, allows the expression of his love to predominate in the four verses in which he bids farewell to those who were so dear to him. Even in the severe Epistle to the Galatians the last word before the final amen is "Brothers," ἀδελφοί, and the last sentence is a blessing. There is, however, at the close of these four chapters no return to the attitude of joy and thankfulness with which chapters i.-ix. both began and ended.

If, seeking for a clue to guide us through these difficulties, we scrutinise the first sentence where this perplexing change of tone makes its appearance, we not only find no reason or explanation furnished by the writer, but are also confronted with the strange fact that the second word of this sentence is the conjunction δέ, seeming to connect the sentence with something that has gone before, and that the passage has all the appearance of being the continuation of an argument homogeneous with itself; for, in addition to the fact that it begins with a conjunction, it contains an allusion to an objection which had been brought against the Apostle, and it brings it before us not as if the subject were now for the first time introduced, but as if it had been already mentioned. Furthermore, St. Paul in this opening sentence accosts those to whom his reproaches are addressed simply as " you," without any addition or qualification to show that he is no longer addressing the Church at large, or the repentant majority, but an unrepentant minority, who have dissociated themselves from the submission of their fellow Churchmen.

Prof. Hausrath, to whose treatise, Der Vier-Capitel-Brief , I have already referred, puts forward a curious hypo thesis about this sentence. According to him the clue is to be found in the word αὐτός, which denotes that what follows belongs to the Apostle in a sense in which that which preceded it did not. He conjectures that these four chapters were probably an appendix to an epistle written by the brethren at Ephesus in support of St. Paul, and that the name of Aquila may have been the most prominent in it, as he would be likely to have special influence, having helped to found the Corinthian Church.

Prof. Hausrath might have found in the Epistle to the Galatians phrases not unlike that which he regards as so significant, especially Ἰδὲ ἐγώ Παῦλος λέγω ὑμῖν in Galatians v. 2, where, instead of pointing a contrast to something preceding it, which had not been said by St. Paul, the expression continues with added emphasis a connected argument. This is the function which, as I think, was discharged by the phrase αὐτό δέ ἐγὼ Παῦλος, as it stood in the original manuscript of St. Paul; for my conjecture is that the destruction by some accident of the earlier part of the manuscript has broken off the connection at a point which is now the beginning of the tenth chapter, but which appears to have been originally the middle of an impassioned argument or appeal, αὐτός would seem to be used in connection with the taunts to which the Apostle was referring in the discourse of which we have now only the latter portion — " I, the same Paul who am thus depreciated by you."

Klöpper, in his commentary, quotes Hausrath's surmise with glee, exclaiming triumphantly that the father of the theory of the four-chaptered Epistle has dug its grave with his own hands. Klöpper is, I think, a little hasty in jumping to the conclusion that the theory which he defends is the only alternative to this conjecture of Hausrath.

It is not so much in the employment of the word αὐτός as in that of the conjunction δέ that, in my opinion, the true clue is to be found. δέ, as Winer teaches, connects while it opposes, whereas ἀλλά expresses proper and sharp opposition. δέ is indeed frequently used by St. Paul almost as an equivalent to " and." But, at the beginning of 2 Corinthians x. even ἀλλάd would be utterly inadequate to express the sharpness of the opposition between the con tents of that chapter and the ejaculation, " Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift," with which chapter ix. so appropriately concluded.

The startling abruptness of the transition at this point is to some extent concealed from ordinary readers by the division into chapters; bat all commentators have noticed it, and have felt the necessity for some explanation. The explanation generally adopted is that the tidings brought by Titus were not altogether favourable. All who were well disposed had been humbled by the Apostle's rebukes; but his adversaries had been further embittered. The first nine chapters of 2 Corinthians are accordingly supposed to be addressed to the repentant majority, and the four concluding chapters to the rebellious minority.

An objection to this theory which at once suggests itself is to be found in the fact (to which I have already called attention), that in the beginning of the part where St. Paul is supposed to turn to the rebellious minority, he addresses those with whom he is remonstrating simply as "you," as if they were the same persons whom he had been addressing all along. Indeed the only appearance of a distinction which he makes is not between them and a majority better than themselves, but rather between them and a still more rebellious minority. " I beseech you, that I may not, when present, shew courage with the confidence wherewith I count to be bold against some, which count of us as if we walked according to the flesh."

But beside this objection, the description which in 2 Corinthians i.-ix. he gives of the manner in which his letter was received plainly describes a tide of feeling so universal and so strong as to be inconsistent with the existence of such an openly rebellious minority as would he required to account for the language of 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. He speaks of the Corinthians as having received Titus with fear and trembling (2 Cor. xiii. 15); he records how Titus " told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me " (2 Cor. vii. 7); and he adds, " For be hold this selfsame thing that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge ! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in the matter." And at the close of the seventh chapter he twice emphatically speaks of the universality of this movement of zeal and godly fear. In 2 Corinthians vii. 13 he says, " His spirit was refreshed by you all " — the Greek πάντων ὑμῶν putting the word πάντων in the position of emphasis. Again, in the fifteenth verse, " Whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him." Here, again, the position of emphasis is given to πάντων. Even the chief offender himself was not only overwhelmed by the force of public opinion within the Church, but was also moved to a true repentance, so that the Apostle was satisfied that his case no longer called for punishment, but rather for words of forgiveness and reconciliation. " Sufficient to such a man is this punishment which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow " (2 Cor. ii. 6, 7).

Professor Klöpper (whose commentary on 2 Corinthians is referred to by eminent English commentators as conclusively establishing its unity), finds himself so hard pressed by some of these passages that he has recourse to a summary method of disposing of these inconvenient statements of the Apostle, by describing them as "idealistic" and "to be taken cum grano salis." His adoption of this heroic method of exposition is a tribute to the strength of the proof which St. Paul's language furnishes if we only allow him to speak.

While the description of the repentance of the Corinthian Church given in 2 Corinthians i.-ix. seems to leave no room for an openly rebellious minority, the language of 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. leaves no room for a repentant majority. The rebels are from first to last addressed, not as a section of the Church, but as the Church of Corinth itself. Thus in 2 Corinthians xi. 8 the Apostle says, " I robbed other churches," implying by his words that it is a Church that he is addressing; and in 2 Corinthians xii. 13 he says, " In what were ye inferior to other churches? " In 2 Corinthians i.-ix. St. Paul interrupts his exhortations to assure his readers that he does not write to condemn them, and he shows in different places in these chapters a keen anxiety that nothing which he says may revive the painful feelings of the past. If 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. were part of the same letter addressed to an unrepentant minority whose rebellious spirit was in sharp contrast to that of the repentant majority, it is inconceivable that the Apostle should never once from beginning to end of these four chapters have written a single sentence to assure the majority that his reproaches were not intended for them, but only for the rebellious section. Instead of doing this, he again and again uses language the plain meaning of which would seem to include the whole community. For instance, in 2 Corinthians xi. 10, " As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this glorying in the regions of Achaia "; and in 2 Corinthians xiii. 2 he expressly includes all, in language which it seems impossible to mistake, " Being absent, now I write to them, which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare." Even if the Apostle had not used the unmistakable words, τοῖς λοιποῖς πᾶσιν, the mere fact that he was here referring back to a threat uttered daring the visit which he had paid at a time when his relations with the community were evidently greatly strained, and that he now expressly declared that his pre sent warning was a repetition of that threat, would almost necessarily give to the second threat as wide an application as had been given to the first.

Some commentators of eminence have employed another hypothesis to explain the divergence between 2 Corinthians i.-ix. and 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. They have supposed that when St. Paul had written as far as the end of the ninth chapter fresh news arrived, this time of a distinctly unfavourable character, and that the four chapters which close the Epistle, as we have it, were written in consequence of the receipt of this information.

If this hypothesis be true, and if we are to take 1 Corinthians as indicating by its tone the gravity of the situation when the Apostle wrote with many tears out of much affliction and anguish of heart at the time of the mission of Titus, and 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. as indicating the gravity of the situation which arose in consequence of this new development, then must these later tidings have caused the complete destruction of all the hopes which had been excited by the result of Titus' mission, and showed the state of things at Corinth to be worse than ever. For the tone of 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. is beyond all comparison more sorrowful and more indignant than that of 1 Corinthians. Is it possible that, if news so momentous had arrived, St. Paul should never have mentioned it, never alluded to it in any way ? That he should have sent to the rebellious church the praise of them which he had already written, adding on the blame without explanation, joining the blame to the praise by the conjunction δέ, and (strangest of all) falling back on a declaration which he had made before the mission of Titus,1 as if nothing had happened in the mean time? Klöpper admits that it is surprising (auffallend) that the writer should say nothing of any unfavourable news, and should instead go back to the threat which he had uttered during his second visit to Corinth. For "surprising" I would substitute " incredible." The fact that 2 Corinthians xiii. 2 thus goes back to the time of the visit is a strong proof that, when it was written, there could not have intervened any change in the situation of such critical importance as that which had been brought about (as St. Paul shows us in 2 Corinthians i.-ix.) by Titus' mission and by the letter of the Apostle. I am convinced that the true way of escape from this difficulty is to abandon the attempt to assign to 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. a date later than the mission of Titus.

Another way has, however, been suggested by a German theologian named Drescher, writing in the January number of Studien und Kritiken this year. Instead of dating 2 Corinthians xiii. 2 before Titus' mission, he seeks to place the visit to which it refers after that mission, and thus assigns to 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. a date later than 2 Corinthians i.-ix. While this view is, of course, opposed to that of Klöpper with regard to the unity of 2 Corinthians, it agrees with him in what I believe to be a much more important matter; i.e., in holding that Titus made an incorrect diagnosis of the situation at Corinth, and misled St. Paul, so that the first nine chapters of 2 Corinthians were written under the influence of an illusion. He quotes with warm approval Klöpper' s remarks on this point; and gives it as his opinion that St. Paul's choleric temperament was easily carried away by excessive and exaggerated alternations of hope and fear, so that he formed an opinion of the state of things from the report of Titus which he afterwards found to be false when he visited the city in the autumn of the same year. The theory of Titus' mistake and St. Paul's illusion, which is so uncompromisingly put forward by this writer, is also the logical result of the hypothesis of the arrival of fresh news of a contradictory character before the letter was finished. If Titus' account of the repentance of the Corinthian Church, as it is given to us by St. Paul, be correct, it would be impossible, unless some new subject of dispute had been introduced, that the old causes of bitterness could have so soon revived, and in so acute a form; and it is the old causes of bitterness, very much intensified, but without any new element added, which we find in 2 Corinthians x.-xiii.

The agreement of Klöpper and Drescher on the subject of the Apostle's supposed illusion arises from the fact that their theories (diverse as they are from some points of view) rest upon a common foundation — i.e., the assumption that 2 Corinthians i.-ix. was written before 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. The measure of the priority assigned to the former chapters may indeed differ, extending to months in Drescher's theory, while it would be limited to weeks or days in the theory of those who hold that the nine chapters and the four were sent to Corinth in the same letter; but all who hold these theories agree in placing the four chapters last, and consequently in making the history end badly instead of ending well. If the identification of 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. with the Epistle referred to in 2 Corinthians ii. 4 can be established, the foundation of these theories will be taken away.

I have already set before the reader proofs, derived from a comparison of different passages, which, I believe, go a long way towards establishing this identification; but St. Paul also gives us an opportunity of applying four marks of identification on a larger scale. Of these four there is not one which corresponds perfectly with the characteristics of 1 Corinthians. Three of them correspond with it at best very imperfectly, and one is completely at variance with it; while each one of the four fits perfectly 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. as the wards of a key fit the lock to which it belongs.

The Apostle gives us one of these means of identification in 2 Corinthians ii. 4, where he says, " Out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears." Emotions so intense disturbing the mind of the writer could not but leave their traces in the Epistle which was written under their influence.

To the note of identification thus furnished I maintain that 1 Corinthians answers very imperfectly indeed. In the fourth verse of the first chapter its author, after his opening salutation, gives utterance to an earnest thanksgiving which is continued for six verses. He goes on afterwards to speak of the party spirit and the grave disorders of the existence of which he has been informed; but in doing this he shows no traces of despondency or anguish of mind, either in utterances expressing these feelings or in the style of the Epistle itself. Dr. Plummer, in an article in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, justly says of its style that it " should possibly be ranked first among St. Paul's writings." He adds, " Possibly no such thought was in his mind; but the letter might convince the fastidious Greeks that in clearness of thought and power of language he was no way inferior to the eloquent Apollos."

When, on the other hand, we turn to 2 Corinthians x.- xiii., not only do we find many passages which we can well believe to have been blotted with tears (as, for instance, 2 Cor. xii. 11, 15, 20, 21); but the style and manner of the whole writing present the very characteristics which we should expect to find in a letter written out of much anguish of heart. No commentator can help feeling some thing of this. The critic whose words about 1 Corinthians I have just quoted, certainly does not identify 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. as I do, yet he writes thus of 2 Corinthians:" Both narrative and sentences are often involved and broken. There is throughout a want of ease and smoothness. The thoughts in the main as noble as in the earlier letter, are less beautifully expressed. . . . The intensity of the conflicting feelings under which it was written have shattered rhythm and arrangement. One feels in every sentence that the writer is speaking straight from his heart, that heart on which Corinth is inscribed."

It is apparent in every paragraph of 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. that the feelings which have shattered its rhythm are the same as those described in 2 Corinthians ii. 4. In fact, in order to exhibit the full force of the proof that this mark of identification is to be found in these chapters, it would be necessary to transcribe the whole of them.

The second note of identification is given in 2 Corinthians vii. 8, 9, where the writer lets us see that his affliction had been caused by the conduct of the Corinthians, and that he had expressed his sense of this so strongly in the Epistle to which he there refers, that, after he had sent it to them, he for a time repented having done so (" Though I did repent," 2 Cor. vii. 8).

Here again 1 Corinthians corresponds very imperfectly; for though in that Epistle the writer speaks of grave faults, this was only what faithfulness required. The blame occupies but a small portion of the letter, which contains also a good deal of praise, and an amount of valuable instruction which far exceeds either. The keynote of 1 Corinthians is, I think, given to us in 1 Corinthians iv. 21:" What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness ? " Here the form of the question seems to imply the hope that it will be in love that he will be enabled to come.

But in 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. the expressions of displeasure are no longer a small portion of the whole, and they are blended with no praise. The keynote here is: "If I come again, I will not spare." There is only one other epistle of St. Paul (the Epistle to the Galatians) which shows anything approaching the displeasure which is here apparent throughout.

The third mark of identification may be gathered from two passages in 2 Corinthians i.-ix., viz., 2 Corinthians iii. 1, where the question, " Do we begin again to commend ourselves ? " seems to imply that the Apostle has been com mending himself, but is not going to do so again; and the assurance that this will not be repeated, which is implied here by the form of the question, is more expressly made in 2 Corinthians v. 12, " We commend not ourselves again unto you," where the repetition of the word "again" (πάλιν) seems to me to show that the writer has done this on some former occasion, but is not going to repeat what had given him so much pain to write.

On what occasion did he do this ? In 1 Corinthians there is a certain amount of self-vindication, so that this note might seem to correspond a little better than the two former ones with that Epistle. Still self-commendation is not a very marked feature in it; and the greater part of the self- vindication which it contains is written with reference to the question of the Apostle's refusal to accept payment for his labours amongst them.

But, when we turn to 2 Corinthians x.-xiii., the word πάλιν and the references to self-commendation become full of meaning; for he must be indeed a careless reader who has never been struck by this characteristic in these chapters. Indeed the writer again and again calls attention to what he is doing. The word καυχᾶσθαι occurs seventeen times in these four chapters.

A comparison of the mode in which the writer employs the words καύχησις, καύχημα and καυχᾶσθαι in 2 Corinthians i.-ix., with his use of them in 2 Corinthians x.-xiii., reveals a contrast so delicate and so suggestive that I think it alone would convince me that he wrote chapters i.-ix. with recollection of the contents of chapters x.-xiii., and with the conviction that his readers recollected them also. The first time that he employs the word καύχησις in 2 Corinthians i.-ix. is in chapter i. 12, and he there uses it with the definite article, and proceeds to explain what it had really meant:" The boasting is this." Then in the fourteenth verse, with a delicate touch, which is peculiarly characteristic of St. Paul, he gives καύχημα a new application:" Ye are our boast "; and having given this turn to the word, it is in this way that he employs it and its cognate words henceforth in these chapters. Thus in vii. 4 he writes: "Great is my boasting (καύχησις) on your behalf; in vii. 14 he speaks of having boasted of them to Titus, and in the ninth chapter of having boasted of them to the Macedonians. There is only one exception, i.e. in 2 Corinthians v. 12, and in that passage he is their boast, as they are his in all the other passages. But he never once reverts to the painful meaning of self-assertion rendered necessary by their depreciation of him; in which sense he so constantly employed the word in 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. I do not think it is possible that this can be merely accidental, but I have never seen it noticed by any commentator; when they allude to the words at all, they speak solely of the number of times that they are used, without taking notice of the remarkable and significant difference of meaning.

These are not the only instances in which the Apostle gives a similar turn in 2 Corinthians i.-ix. to expressions which he had used in 2 Corinthians x.-xii.; thus the θαῤῥῶεἰς ὑμᾶς of x. 1, 2 (confidence against you) is replaced in 2 Corinthians vii. 16 by θαῤῥῶεἰς ἐν ὑμᾶς (I have confidence in you).

In the same spirit the warning of 2 Corinthians xiii. 10, " I write these things lest being present I should use sharpness," when it is referred to in 2 Corinthians ii. 3 is thns gracefully softenel, " I wrote this same lest when I came I should have sorrow."

I have treated there last points as if I assumed the priority of chapters x.-xiii. I was obliged to do so in order to bring out their meaning. Taken in this time order these contrasts are full of significance and beauty; but they cannot be read in the reverse order. They are like the valves of the heart which revealed to Harvey the secret of the circulation of the blood by opening in one direction only.

A fourth mark of identification of the Epistle referred to in 2 Corinthians ii. 4 is furnished by 2 Corinthians i. 23 and ii. 1, which show that the Apostle was at the time when he wrote contemplating, and at the same time shrinking from, the payment of a visit which must be of a severe character, and that in the end, out of mercy to them, he did not pay it.

With this remark the references to St. Paul's intentions of visiting Corinth made in 1 Corinthians xvi. do not correspond at all; for he there fixes the time when he purposes to visit them with the sole proviso, " If the Lord will "; and he tells the Corinthians that his reason for not coming sooner was the absorbing nature of the work at Ephesus (1 Cor. xvi. 8, 9); he fixes his visit for the autumn and possibly the winter, so that if this Epistle was written in the same year in which he left Ephesus the visit was not deferred at all. In this chapter he also speaks of abiding with them (1 Cor. xvi. 6), as if the visit was one to which both he and they might look forward to with pleasure.

On the other hand 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. corresponds as perfectly with this note of identification as it does with the three previous ones; for 2 Corinthians xii. 20, 21 and xiii. 1, 2 show that the Apostle was contemplating a visit of the very character which the identification requires; and the last-mentioned verse proves in addition the fact that he was hesitating about it. The words, " If I come again, I will not spare," show that the coming itself was uncertain, but that there was no uncertainty about the character of the visit if it were paid at the time.

That these notes of identification do not form a key which would fit any lock, may be seen from the fact that there is not one of the eleven remaining epistles of St. Paul which would answer to any one of them, except the Epistle to the Galatians, and that it would not answer to the last- mentioned work.

If these proofs are valid, it follows necessarily that 2 Corinthians x.-xiii. must have been written, not from Macedonia, as was 2 Corinthians i.-ix., but from Ephesus; and this consequence of the theory lays it open either to refutation or confirmation if it be found to contain any descriptive phrase indicating the geographical position of the writer. It does contain such a phrase, and this did not escape the notice of Prof. Hausrath. In 2 Corinthians x. 16 the Apostle speaks of preaching " the gospel even unto the lands on the other side of you," εἰς τὰ ὑπερέκεινα ὑμῶν, where the addition of ὑμῶν seems intended to define the locality of these lands as being on the other side of Corinth. Now a straight line drawn from Macedonia to Achaia, would, if produced, not touch land till it reached the coast of Africa; whereas a straight line drawn from Ephesus to Corinth would be continued through Italy and Spain, the very lands which, as we learn from the Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul was planning to visit. I feel certain that if it were the received theory which placed the writer of this sentence at Ephesus, the coincidence would have been noticed by every commentator, and it would have been regarded as a fatal objection to any new theory if it necessitated a change which would deprive this phrase of any part of its point and force. A new theory of course requires far more proof than would be thought sufficient for an old one; but it is an indication that we are on the right track when a conclusion to which we have been led on altogether different grounds, gives to a geographical expression an appropriateness which it has never had for any readers since that day, now more than eighteen hundred years ago, when this Epistle was read for the last time in the original manuscript by some member of the Corinthian Church.

But the theory also necessitates an earlier date for 1 Cornthians than the generally received one, and on this point I think I can show that we have very strong proof in confirmation.

Paley, in his Horæ Paulinæ, speaking of the apparent reference in 2 Corinthians xiii. 1 to two visits already paid by St. Paul to Corinth, wrote thus:" I own that I felt myself confounded by this text. It appeared to contradict the opinion which I had been led by a great variety of circum stances to form concerning the date and occasion of this Epistle. At length, however, it occurred to my thoughts to enquire whether the passage did necessarily imply that St. Paul had been at Corinth twice: or whether, when he said, " This is the third time I am coming to you," he might mean only that this was the third time that he was ready, that he was prepared, that he intended to set out on the journey to Corinth." This ingeniously devised explanation found for some time considerable favour, but it is now accepted by few commentators. The reading in 2 Corinthians ii. 1, μὴ πάλιν ἐν λύπῃ πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐλθεῖν, which is now known to have overwhelming manuscript authority in its favour, is generally allowed to settle the question of a second visit in the affirmative.

But if this visit ἐν λύπῃj came between 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 Corinthians must have been written earlier than has hitherto been supposed, and a farther consequence is that it cannot be the Epistle referred to in 2 Corinthians ii. 4. Accordingly an attempt is now generally made to put it before the time when 1 Corinthians was written. We learn, however, from Galatians iv. 13 that, when St. Paul had really visited a church twice, and had occasion afterwards to refer to one of those visits, he specified which he meant, speaking in that place of his visit as the earlier one, τὸ πρότερον; whereas in 1 Corinthians ii. 1 he refers to his original visit as if it were the only one he had paid them, κἀγώ ἐλθὼν πρὸς ὑμᾶς. Furthermore, throughout this Epistle everything is dated from this original visit. When he praises the Corinthians, he praises them because they re member him in all things, and hold fast the traditions even as he delivered them to them (1 Cor. xi. 2); and when he blames them, he blames them for their want of progress since his visit:" I fed you with milk, not with meat: for ye were not able to bear it; nay, not even now are ye able." The attempt has been made to explain away this by saying that the visit ἐν λύπῃ was so short that the Apostle here ignores it; but the change which a painful personal meeting between the Apostle and his converts (such as that visit plainly was) would introduce into their mutual relations could not be measured merely by the number of days that it lasted.

But a proof, if possible still stronger, is furnished by the fact that in 1 Corinthians the Apostle expressly states in three several passages that he derived his information, both about their party spirit and their moral disorder, from hear say evidence. " It hath been signified unto me concerning you, my brethren, by them that are of the household of Chloe, that there are contentions among you." In v. 1 he writes:" It is actually reported that there is fornication among you"; and in xi. 18, " I hear that divisions exist among you, and I partly believe it." Is it conceivable that he could thus speak if he had previously paid them a visit, in which these matters had been discussed between him and them, face to face, so that he spoke of it as a visit ἐν λύπῃ, and if he had then uttered such a threat as that which he refers to in 2 Corinthians xiii. 2?

The conclusion to which we are thus led is confirmed by the fact that in 2 Corinthians viii. 10, and also in 2 Corinthians ix. 2, St. Paul refers to the Corinthian collection as having been ready a year ago; yet the directions given in 1 Corinthians xvi. make it plain that at that time the weekly collections had not yet begun, and the Apostle gives directions about them as about a new thing. In 2 Corinthians ii. he makes it plain that the first news he received of their reception of the letter written ἐκ πολλῆς θλίψεως came from Titus, so that if 1 Corinthians were that Epistle, he could not have learned that they were ready (or were even getting ready) till Titus came, which was certainly not a year before 2 Corinthians was written.

The conclusion which I believe follows from these two lines of proof is that 1 Corinthians was not written in the spring of the year in which St. Paul left Ephesus, but probably in the spring of the year before; that he stayed at Ephesus beyond Pentecost by reason of the greatness of the work, but that he paid a short visit to Corinth (the visit ἐν λύπῃ), and promised or warned them that he would come again, and that when he came again he would not spare.

I believe that this earlier date of 1 Corinthians removes an apparent discrepancy between it and the Acts. In Acts xix. 21 we read that before the riot at Ephesus "Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem," and the purpose thus solemnly made is shown by the subsequent history to have been one in which nothing could shake him. The account of his plans given in the Epistle to the Romans is in perfect harmony with this, for though he speaks of his ardent desire to see them, he makes it plain that he must go to Jerusalem first. But in 1 Corinthians xvi. he twice speaks of his immediate destination (when he shall have left Corinth) as doubtful; as if indeed his first intention were not to go himself to Jerusalem, but to send letters of introduction with their messengers; though he might possibly go himself, as it were by an after-thought (1 Cor. xvi. 3, 4), and again in xvi. 6 he says:" That ye may set me forward on my journey whithersoever I go," as if it were as yet undetermined. Yet if 1 Corinthians was written at the date usually assigned, and the sending of Timothy there referred to were the same as that mentioned in Acts xix., this was written after his solemn resolution to go to Jerusalem had been made. But when the earlier date for 1 Corinthians is adopted, the chronology falls into its place, and there is harmony instead of contradiction; for it then becomes clear that 1 Corinthians was written before this solemn purpose was formed, and while the Apostle was still uncertain whether he would visit Rome or Jerusalem first.

J. H. Kennedy.



1) See 2 Corinthians xiii. 2,