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LECTURE XCIII.

PAUL'S REASONS FOR REMAINING AT EPHESUS.

1 CoR. xvi. 1–9.

1. Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye."

2. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

3. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by jour letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.

4. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with 7ne.

These directions take for granted that Christians, every man according to his ability, are to contribute to the relief of their poorer brethren. St. Paul uses no proofs or arguments to enforce the duty; that was not disputed: he only points out the way in which that duty was to be performed. Each was to lay by in store, or treasure up, a portion of his means for this object, according as the Lord had prospered him. Whatever a man obtains, it is the Lord's giving. Whether the labour of his hands or the labour of his mind has been successful, still it is as the Lord hath prospered him ; for strength to labour is of the Lord, and the success which crowns industry is of the Lord. As David piously acknowledged, concerning the riches which were to be employed on the temple at Jerusalem : “O Lord our God, all this store which we have prepared to build thee a house for thy holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own.” Therefore they were to dedicate to the people of God a portion of the gain which God had given. But why on the first day of the week " The Corinthians, in their heathen state a few years before, had not been accustomed to divide their time by weeks: that division belonged to the Jews alone. And why on the first, rather than the last, or any other day ! Because a sacred duty was suited to a sacred season : and the Christians, whether of Jewish or Gentile origin, now observed the first day of the week as the Lord's day. The heathen converts, who had known no weeks, because they had known no Sabbaths, had learnt to keep that day as “holy of the Lord, and honourable:” and the Jewish brethren, instead of the last day of the week, on which “God rested from the work which he had made,” now observed as the sabbath the day on which the Lord Jesus had risen from the dead. Although a day of rest,--that rest from worldly cares which the soul requires,-it was no longer termed the sabbath, but it was “the Lord's day,” as the day of the Lord's resurrection. The liberality here enjoined, was to relieve the straits to which the Christians were reduced at Jerusalem. The bigotry of their countrymen, from * 1 Chron. xxix. 16. * Gen. ii. 2. * Rev. i. 10.

* Probably in his journeys through that country, recorded Acts xvi. 6, and xviii. 23.

whom they had separated, subjected them to heavy persecutions. And the poor brethren in Judea, even if they had not been the most oppressed, were the most to be considered; they from whom the blessings were derived which the Christians had inherited; they, the witnesses of God in the world through so many ages,” they “whose were the fathers,” and the prophets; they “from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came,” to whom the Corinthian congregation “owed even their ownSelves.”?

5. Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.

6. And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I 90.

7. For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.

8. But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.

9. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

These were Paul's reasons for desiring to remain longer at Ephesus. The opening there for usefulness was clear and wide. It was probably about this time that the truths which the apostle was proclaiming began to work more effectually upon the minds of the Ephesian disciples. There is proof that the Spirit is affecting the heart, (and “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his,”) when all earthly things are renounced which are not consistent with the will of God; when a practical conviction lays hold upon the mind, that it profits a man nothing to “gain the whole world, and lose his own soul.” Now we read in the Acts that this did take place at Ephesus.” “Many that believed, came and confessed and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men; and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” This proved that a great and effectiial door was opened to the apostle. There were many asking, “What must I do to be saved " And when they had received for answer, that “if they would enter into life, they must keep the commandments;” “cease to do evil, and learn to do well;” for that if they continued in sin, Christ could profit them nothing, they could have no part in his covenant: they did not “go away sorrowing,” like the young ruler in the Gospel narrative, who would not forego this world's good for the sake of treasure in heaven: but they publicly renounced the sins which they had hitherto practised secretly, and determined to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” This was not the moment for St. Paul to quit Ephesus. The enemy was retreating, the people of God were “advancing towards Zion with their faces thitherward;” and what could he do but lead them on in the name of God, till the victory was completely gained. But, besides, there were many adversaries. Adversaries of religion will commonly be numerous and vehement in proportion to the prevalence of religion.

* Isa. xliii. 10, 6 Rom. ix. 5. 7 See Philem. 19.

* Acts xix. 18–21. 9 Matt. xix. 22. 1 Jer. l. 5.

The malice of Satan waxes hot, when “he knows that he hath but a short time.” It was the success of the Gospel, wherever the Lord opened many hearts that they should attend unto the things spoken, which excited the jealousy of the Jews. “When they saw the multitudes who came together to hear the word of God, then they were filled with envy, contradicting and blaspheming.” Perhaps it was about this season when the anger of Demetrius began to show itself, on account of the spread of Christian faith; when he called together the workmen of the like occupation, and said,” “Sirs, ye see and hear that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods which are made with hands.” This ended at last in Paul's departure from the city. But before the tumult broke out into actual violence, no doubt there was much secret opposition. So that the opening of a great and effectual door was in fact the excitement of violent hostility: and Paul would desire, before he left his new converts, to have larger opportunity of confirming them in the faith, and exhorting them, “with full purpose of heart to cleave unto the Lord:” for that “he that endureth unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Every individual heart must expect to encounter opposition. “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” But these things should not move us. It is the heart which he cannot retain that Satan desires to assail, and, if possible, to * Rev. xii. 12. * Acts xiii. 45. * Acts xix. 18–21.

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