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The Reception of Paul’s Epistles to the Corinthians

Here are some select examples of the reception of Paul’s epistles to the Corinthians during the Patristic period. For more possible references or allusions to these texts, check out the following books:

“Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the Gospel first began to be preached? Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you. But that inclination for one above another entailed less guilt upon you, inasmuch as your partialities were then shown towards apostles, already of high reputation, and towards a man whom they had approved.” (1 Clement 47:1-4)

“Let my spirit be counted as nothing for the sake of the cross, which is a stumbling-block to those that do not believe, but to us salvation and life eternal. “Where is the wise man? where the disputer?” Where is the boasting of those who are styled prudent?” (Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians 18:1)

“Paul declared most plainly in the Epistle to the Corinthians… For the apostle does also say in the Second [Epistle] to the Corinthians… Thus he says in the second [Epistle] to the Corinthians” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4.27.3; 4.28.3; 5.3.1)

“First of all, to the Corinthians, prohibiting their heretical schisms; next, to the Galatians, against circumcision; then to the Romans he wrote at length, explaining the order (or, plan) of the Scriptures, and also that Christ is their principle (or, main theme). It is necessary for us to discuss these one by one, since the blessed apostle Paul himself, following the example of his predecessor John, writes by name to only seven churches in the following sequence: To the Corinthians first, to the Ephesians second, to the Philippians third, to the Colossians fourth, to the Galatians fifth, to the Thessalonians sixth, to the Romans seventh. It is true that he writes once more to the Corinthians and to the Thessalonians for the sake of admonition, yet it is clearly recognizable that there is one Church spread throughout the whole extent of the earth.” (Muratorian Canon, Lines 42-57)

“Paul’s fourteen epistles are well known and undisputed” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.3.5)

“Here are what he [Marcion] calls Epistles: 1. Galatians. 2. Corinthians. 3. Second Corinthians. 4. Romans. 5. Thessalonians. 6. Second Thessalonians. 7. Ephesians. 8. Colossians. 9. Philemon. 10. Philippians. He also has parts of the so-called Epistle to the Laodiceans.” (Epiphanius, Panarion 42.9.4; cf. Tertullian, Against Marcion 5.2-21)

“He [Paul] wrote nine epistles to seven churches: To the Romans one, To the Corinthians two, To the Galatians one, To the Ephesians one, To the Philippians one, To the Colossians one, To the Thessalonians two; and besides these to his disciples, To Timothy two, To Titus one, To Philemon one.” (Jerome, On Illustrious Men 5)

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