INTRODUCTION

The Third Epistle to the Corinthians is a pseudepigraphical text under the name of Paul the Apostle.

It is also found in the Acts of Paul, and was framed as Paul's response to the Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul.

The earliest extant copy is Papyrus Bodmer X, dating to the third century.

Originally written in Greek, the letter survives in Greek, Coptic, Latin, and Armenian manuscripts.

 

CONTENT AND THEOLOGICAL BACKGROUND

The text is structured as an attempt to correct alleged misinterpretations of the earlier First and Second Epistle to the Corinthians of which the author (usually called "pseudo-Paul") has become aware due to the (similarly dubious) Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul.

According to the preceding part of the Acts of Paul, when the letter was written Paul was in prison, on account of Stratonice, the wife of Apollophanes.

 

CANONICITY

In the West it was not considered canonical in the 4th century AD, becoming part of the New Testament apocrypha.

In the East, in the Syriac Orthodox Church, Aphrahat (c. 340) treated it as canonical and Ephrem the Syrian (d. 373) apparently accepted it as canonical, because he wrote a commentary on it.

The Doctrine of Addai includes it, but it was not included in the Syriac Peshitta translation of the Bible (but nor were 2–3 John, 2 Peter, Jude, or Revelation, which are almost universally recognized as canonical, see also Antilegomena).

Although part of the Oskan Armenian Bible of 1666, it was in an Appendix to the Zohrab Armenian Bible of 1805 which follows the Vulgate canon, and it is not currently considered part of the Armenian Orthodox New Testament.

It was not part of the canon list of Anania Shirakatsi in the 7th century but is part of the canon lists of Mechitar of Ayrivank` in the 13th and Gregory Tat`ew in the 14th.

 

ACCORDING TO THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA

The ancient Syrian (Edessene) Church revered as canonical a Third Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, which is accompanied by a letter from the pastors of that Church, to which it is an answer.

But about the beginning of the fifth century the Syrian Church fell under the influence of the Greek, and in consequence the spurious letter gradually lost its canonical status.

It was taken up by the neighbouring Armenians and for centuries has formed a part of the Armenian New Testament.

Latin and Greek writers are completely silent about this pseudograph, although Greek and Latin copies have been found.

It was obviously suggested by the lost genuine Pauline letter referred to in I Cor. v, 9; vii, 1.

It was composed by a presbyter about 160–170, and is a disguised attack on some of the leading errors of Gnosticism.

This correspondence long had an independent circulation, but recently it has been proved that the document was incorporated into the Acts of St. Paul (q.v.).

THIRD CORINTHIANS

M. R. JAMES TRANSLATION

1.7. ... prayed that a messenger be sent to Philippi. For the Corinthians were in great trouble concerning Paul, that he would depart out of the world, before it was time. For there were certain men come to Corinth, Simon and Cleobius, saying: There is no resurrection of the flesh, but that of the spirit only: and that the body of man is not the creation of God; and also concerning the world, that God did not create it, and that God knoweth not the world, and that Jesus Christ was not crucified, but it was an appearance (i.e. but only in appearance), and that lie was not born of Mary, nor of the seed of David. And in a word, there were many things which they had taught in Corinth, deceiving many other men, (and deceiving also) themselves. When therefore the Corinthians heard that Paul was at Philippi, they sent a letter unto Paul to Macedonia by Threptus and Eutychus the deacons. And the letter was after this manner.

 

I.

1 Stephanus and the elders (presbyters) that are with him, even Daphnus and Eubulus and Theophilus and Zenon, unto Paul THEIR BROTHER ETERNAL greeting in the Lord.

2 There have come unto Corinth two men, Simon and Cleobius, which are overthrowing the faith of many with evil (CORRUPT) words,

3 which do thou prove AND EXAMINE:

4 for we have never heard such words from thee nor from the other apostles:

5 but all that we have received from thee or from them, that do we hold fast.

6 Since therefore the Lord hath had mercy on us, that while thou art still in the flesh we may hear these things again from thee,

7 if it be possible, either come unto us or write unto us.

8 For we believe, according as it hath been revealed unto Theonoe, that the Lord hath delivered thee out of the hand of the lawless one (enemy, Laon).

9 Now the things which these men say and teach are these:

10 They say that we must not use the prophets,

11 and that God is not Almighty,

12 and that there shall be no resurrection of the flesh,

13 and that man was not made by God,

14 and that Christ came not down (is not come, Copt.) in the flesh, neither was born of Mary,

15 and that the world is not of God, but of the angels.

16 Wherefore, brother, WE PRAY THEE use all diligence to come unto us, that the church of the Corinthians may remain without offence, and the madness of these men may be made plain. Farewell ALWAYS in the Lord.

 

II.

1 The deacons Threptus and Eutyches brought the letter unto Philippi,

2 so that Paul received it, being in bonds because of Stratonice the wife of Apollophanes, AND HE FORGAT HIS BONDS, and was sore afflicted,

3 and cried out, saying: It were better for me to die and to be with the Lord, than to continue in the flesh and to hear such things AND THE CALAMITIES OF FALSE DOCTRINE, so that trouble cometh upon trouble.

4 And over and above this so great affliction I am in bonds and behold these evils whereby the devices of Satan are accomplished. (4 Harnack: may not the priests (intrigues) of Satan anticipate me while (or after) I suffer (have suffered) fetters for the sake (?) of men.)

5 Paul therefore, in great affliction, wrote a letter, answering thus:

 

III.

1 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, unto the brethren which are in Corinth, greeting.

2 Being in the midst of many tribulations, I marvel not if the teachings of the evil one run abroad apace.

3 For my Lord Jesus Christ will hasten his coming, and will set at nought (no longer endure the insolence of) them that falsify his words.

4 For I delivered unto you in the beginning the things which I received of the HOLY apostles which were before me, who were at all times with Jesus Christ:

5 namely, that our Lord Jesus Christ was born of Mary WHICH IS of the seed of David ACCORDING TO THE FLESH, the Holy Ghost being sent forth from heaven from the Father unto her BY THE ANGEL GABRIEL,

6 that he (JESUS) might come down into this world and redeem all flesh by his flesh, and raise us up from the dead in the flesh, like as he hath shown to us in himself for an ensample.

7 And because man was formed by his Father,

8 therefore was he sought when he was lost, that he might be quickened by adoption.

9 For to this end did God Almighty who made heaven and earth first send the prophets unto the Jews, that they might be drawn away from their sins.

10 For he designed to save the house of Israel: therefore he conferred a portion of the spirit of Christ upon the prophets and sent them unto the Jews first (or unto the first Jews), and they proclaimed the true worship of God for a long space of time.

11 But the prince of iniquity, desiring to be God, laid hands on them and slew them (banished them from God, Laon MS.), and bound all flesh by evil lusts (AND THE END OF THE WORLD BY JUDGEMENT DREW NEAR).

12 But God Almighty, who is righteous, would not cast away his own creation, BUT HAD COMPASSION ON THEM FROM HEAVEN,

13 and sent his spirit into Mary IN GALILEE,

[14 Milan MS. and Arm.: WHO BELIEVED WITH ALL HER HEART AND RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST IN HER WOMB, THAT JESUS MIGHT COME INTO THE WORLD,]

15 that by that flesh whereby that wicked one had brought in death (had triumphed), by the same he should be shown to be overcome.

16 For by his own body Jesus Christ saved all flesh [AND RESTORED IT UNTO LIFE],

17 that he might show forth the temple of righteousness in his body.

18 In whom (or whereby) we are saved (Milan, Paris: in whom if we believe we are set free).

19 They therefore (Paris MS.; Arm. has: Know therefore that. Laon has: They therefore who agree with them) are not children of righteousness but children of wrath who reject the wisdom (providence?) of God, saying that the heaven and the earth and all that are in them are not the work of God.

20 THEY THEREFORE ARE CHILDREN OF WRATH, for cursed are they, following the teaching of the serpent,

21 whom do ye drive out from you and flee from their doctrine. [Arm., Milan, Paris:

22 FOR YE ARE NOT CHILDREN OF DISOBEDIENCE, BUT OF THE WELL-BELOVED CHURCH.

23 THEREFORE IS THE TIME OF THE RESURRECTION PROCLAIMED UNTO ALL.]

24 And as for that which they say, that there is no resurrection of the flesh, they indeed shall have no resurrection UNTO LIFE, BUT UNTO JUDGEMENT,

25 because they believe not in him that is risen from the dead, NOT BELIEVING NOR UNDERSTANDING,

26 for they know not, O Corinthians, the seeds of wheat or of other seeds (grain), how they are cast bare into the earth and are corrupted and rise again by the will of God with bodies, and clothed.

27 And not only that [body] which is cast in riseth again, but manifold more blessing itself [i.e. fertile and prospering].

28 And if we must not take an example from seeds ONLY, BUT FROM MORE NOBLE BODIES,

29 ye know how Jonas the son of Amathi, when he would not preach to them of Nineve, BUT FLED, was swallowed by the sea-monster;

30 and after three days and three nights God heard the prayer of Jonas out of the lowest hell, and no part of him was consumed, not even an hair nor an eyelash.

31 How much more, O YE OF LITTLE FAITH, shall he raise up you that have believed in Christ Jesus, like as he himself arose.

32 Likewise also a dead man was cast upon the bones of the prophet Helisaetis by the children of Israel, and he arose, both body and soul and bones and spirit (Laon: arose in his body); how much more shall ye which have been cast upon the body and bones and spirit of the Lord [Milan, Paris: how much more, O ye of little faith, shall ye which have been cast on him] arise again in that day having your flesh whole, EVEN AS HE AROSE?

[33 Arm., Milan, Paris: LIKEWISE ALSO CONCERNING THE PROPHET HELIAS: HE RAISED UP THE WIDOW'S SON FROM DEATH: HOW MUCH MORE SHALL THE LORD JESUS RAISE YOU UP FROM DEATH AT THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPET, IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE? FOR HE HATH SHOWED US AN ENSAMPLE IN HIS OWN BODY.]

34 If, then, ye receive any other doctrine, GOD SHALL BE WITNESS AGAINST YOU; AND let no man trouble me,

35 for I bear these bonds that I may win Christ, and I therefore bear his marks in my body that I may attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

36 And whoso receiveth (abideth in) the rule which he hath received by the blessed prophets and the holy gospel, shall receive a recompense from the Lord, AND WHEN HE RISETH FROM THE DEAD SHALL OBTAIN ETERNAL LIFE.

37 But whoso transgresseth these things, with him is the fire, and with them that walk in like manner (Milan, Paris: with them that go before in the same way, WHO ARE MEN WITHOUT GOD),

38 which are a generation of vipers,

39 whom do ye reject in the power of the Lord,

40 and peace, GRACE, AND LOVE shall be with you.

THIRD CORINTHIANS

DR. KEN JOHNSON TRANSLATION

From Corinth to Paul

Stephanus and the presbyters who are with him, Daphnus, Eubulus, Theophilus and Xenon, to Paul their brother in the Lord, greeting.

Two men have come to Corinth, Simon and Cleobius, who pervert the faith of many through pernicious words we want you to respond to.

We have never heard such things from you or the other apostles.

What ever you and the other apostles teach we will believe.

The Lord has shown mercy to us, since you are still alive we wish to hear from you again.

Please do write or come to us.

We believe, what has been revealed to Theonoe, that the Lord delivered you out of the hand of the lawless one.

What they teach is as follows:

  1. We must not appeal to the prophets
  2. God is not Almighty
  3. There is no resurrection of the flesh
  4. Creation is not God’s work
  5. The Lord did not come in the flesh
  6. The Lord was not born of Mary
  7. The world is not of God but the Angels

So brother, hurry and come here, that the church here in Corinth may remain pure, and the foolishness of these men may be made known to all.

Farewell in the Lord.

 

From Paul to Corinth

Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ, to the brothers in Corinth, greeting!

Since I am in prison, I am not surprised that the teachings of the evil one are quickly gaining ground.

My Lord Jesus Christ will quickly come, since he is rejected by those who falsify His words.

I delivered to you from the beginning what I received from the apostles who were before me, who were at all times together with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Lord Jesus Christ was born of Mary of the seed of David.

The Holy Spirit was sent from Heaven by the Father into her, that he might come into this world to redeem all flesh through his own flesh, and that he might raise up from the dead we who are fleshly, just as He has shown Himself as our example.

Since man was molded by his Father, man was sought for when he was lost, that he might be quickened by adoption into sonship.

The almighty God, who made heaven and earth, first sent the prophets to the Jews, that they might turn from their sins; for he had determined how to save the house of Israel, therefore he sent a portion of the spirit of Christ into the prophets, who at many times proclaimed the faultless worship of God.

But since the prince who was unrighteous wished to be God, he laid hands on them and killed them, and so all the flesh of men were bound to passions.

But God, the almighty, who is righteous and would not repudiate his own creation, sent the Holy Spirit to Mary the Galilean, who believed with all her heart, and she received the Holy Spirit into her womb that Jesus might enter the world, in order that the evil one might be conquered by the same flesh which he held sway, and be convinced that he was not God.

For by his own body Jesus Christ saved all flesh and brought it to eternal life through faith, that he might present a temple of righteousness in his own body, through whom we are redeemed.

These are not children of righteousness but of wrath, who reject the providence of God, saying that heaven and earth and all that is in them are not the works of the Father.

They are themselves therefore children of wrath, for they have the accursed faith of the serpent.

From them turn away, and flee from there teaching! For you are not sons of disobedience but of the church most dearly beloved.

This is why the time of the resurrection is proclaimed.

As for those who tell you there is no resurrection of the flesh, for them there is no resurrection, who do not believe in Him who has risen.

You men of Corinth must understand that they don’t know about the sowing of wheat or other seeds.

That they are cast naked to the ground and when they have perished below and are raised again by the will of God in a body and clothed.

The body is not only raised up, but abundantly blessed.

And consider not only the seeds, but nobler bodies.

You know how Jonah the son of Amathios, when he would not preach in Nineveh but fled, was swallowed by a whale and after three days and three nights God heard Jonah’s prayer out of the deepest hell, and no part of him was corrupted, not even an eyelid.

How much more, you of so little faith, will he raise up you who have believed in Christ Jesus, as he himself rose up? And if, when a corpse was thrown by the children of Israel on the bones of the prophet Elisha, the man’s body rose up, so you also who have been cast upon the body and bones and spirit of the Lord will rise up on that day with your flesh whole.

But if you receive anything else, do not cause me trouble; for I have these fetters on my hands that I may gain Christ, and his marks on my body that I may attain to the resurrection form the dead.

And whoever abides by the rule which he received by the prophets and the holy Gospel, he shall receive a reward and when he has risen form the dead shall obtain eternal life.

But to him that turns aside form them – there is fire with him and those who go before him in the way, since they are men without God, a generation of vipers; from these turn away in the power of the Lord

May peace, grace and love be with you.

Amen.