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I Tim. iv. l.
Athenians had adopted; but the true God, whom, he tells them, they ignorantly worshipped in the various characters of Jupiter, Apollo, &c. To Jehovah (they understood him to say) are justly due your worship and your altars. It is not your Jupiter who is the God, but the Being who made the heavens or Jupiter.
The objections to this interpretation are these: first, the apostle so expresses himself as clearly to denote that the words, “ to God unknown, were inscribed on some altar ; 68 secondly, respectable testimonies have been found of the existence of such an altar; lastly, it is not in accordance with St. Paul's other addresses on the subject of idolatry,—his custom being to point out to the heathen, not that they were worshipping God under false names, but serving the 1 Cor. x. 20; devil.
It remains, therefore, to determine what particular God was meant by the inscription on the altar. On this point the remarks already made, on the occasion of the speech, may not a little help to guide inquiry. Nothing is more probable, than that the Athenians, the most inquisitive people on earth, should by this time have heard, and have taken some interest in the report, of a new God which the Christians were represented as proclaiming to the world. 67 In their characteristic vivacity and eagerness for novelty, an altar might have been erected to hiin, before they had ascertained his
On Paul's arrival, their very conversation with him would lead them to surmise that he was one of the promulgators of this new religion. Hence the eagerness with which he was brought before the public, led purposely perhaps by this very altar, which would on that account be pointed out to him, and would form a natural topic for the opening of his speech. It is scarcely necessary to add to these remarks, that the
expression “too superstitious,” which is mistranslated, was meant, no doubt, as a compliment, and not as a reproach, by characterising the people as one who displayed a high sense of religion.
65 Pope's creed, as expressed in his viz. “ the man whom he had ordained," Universal Prayer, was no other than when he was interrupted. Nor is this this:
altogether unfounded conjecture. For, “ Father of all, in every age,
that Christ was represented as a strange In every cline, ador’d;
God, worshipped by the Christians, is, I By saint, by savage, and by sage,
think, plain from the very terms in which Jehovah, Jove, and Lord.”
Pliny describes the new sect. * They
sing a hymn to Christ as to a God," 66 Βωμόν εν ώ επεγέγραπτο, 'Αγνώστω Θεώ. which is precisely the remark of the 67 Christo ut Deo carmen dicunt, Plinii Athenians respecting Paul, that he was Epist. May not the remark, that Paul a setter forth of strange gods." was a setter forth of strange gods, because This then is at least plausible, whether he preached Jesus and the Resurrection, we admit or reject the notion that the have arisen from his statement of the accomplished Christian orator was so doctrine of the Trinity, in reply to some misunderstood in the use of the term question put to him concerning the new åváo TO15, (resurrection,) by an Athenian God? The opening of his speech obvi- audience, as to leave the impression that ously falls in with this view. Having he was discoursing of a goddess so named first declared him to be the same God -a notion first suggested by Chrysostom, who made the world, he was proceeding and adopted by many after him. to speak of his manifestation in the flesh, 68 Δεισιδαιμονέστερους. . H.
Paul's observance of Jewish rites at Cenchrea.
ST. PAUL AT CORINTH AND CENCHREA. Foundation At Corinth the apostle made a longer sojourn than in any other Church of city during his journey. Here were written his Epistles to the
Thessalonians; perhaps that also to the Galatians. Here, too, he probably received from Aquila and Priscilla the first intelligence of Christianity having been preached to the Romans. Here, lastly, he founded that Church, which, above all others, engaged his personal interest. In the minute internal regulations of this, more than of any other, he appears to have busied himself; and, accordingly, his Epistles to the Corinthians contain more information on the Church discipline of the apostolic age than any other part of the New Testament. Indeed, in some few instances, the points alluded to have so much the character of domestic detail, as scarcely to admit of illustration from the general history of the times.
Corinth may be considered as the boundary of this apostolical journey, and the last regular scene of Paul's labours for the present. For, although we hear of him afterwards at Cenchrea, and again at Ephesus, his pause at the former place was only to perform a cereinony which he went through as a Jewish Christian; at the latter, to convey to the Asiatic continent Aquila and Priscilla. Cenchrea has, however, been particularized, together with Corinth, in order to remind the reader that St. Paul here exhibited a striking illustration of the general principle which guided the primitive Church, in regard to the observance of foreign rites and rules by its members. As a member of the Jewish society, about to visit his own people, and not as a Christian, or as performing any duty to God as such, St. Paul on this occasion observed a form wholly Jewish. On the same principle he anxiously hastened to be present at Jerusalem by the approaching festival, whilst he was insisting on the sinfulness of the Gentile convert, who should add to the Christian appointments the obligations of the Jewish law. Thus, too, he circumcised Timothy, because his father was a Jew; but, although he was in the very seat and centre of Jewish prejudice, in Jerusalem, and even while the question was hotly agitated, he refused to allow Titus, the Gentile convert, to be circumcised.
ST. PAUL'S THIRD APOSTOLICAL JOURNEY.
From A.D. 55–60.
ROUTE. Galatia; Phrygia; Ephesus; Asia; Ephesus again; Troas; Macedonia; Greece; Acts xviii. Corinth; Macedonia again; Philippi; Troas again; Assos; Mitylene; Chios; Samos; 23; Trogyllium; Miletus, (in Asia ;) Coos; Rhodes; Patara, (in Lycia;) Tyre; Ptolemais; xix.to xxi 15. Cæsarea; Jerusalem.
Of those places through which the route of the apostle in his Paul at third official journey is marked, Ephesus was the principal scene of
Ephesus. his labours. In his return from Greece to Palestine, he had touched at Ephesus, and there left Aquila and Priscilla, with a promise that he would himself soon visit them. This promise he now fulfilled. Passing through Galatia and Phrygia, he made Ephesus, for the third time, his chief station in Asia, as on former occasions he had chosen Corinth in Greece. It was here, then, that all who dwelt in Asia, both Jews and Greeks, first heard the word from him. Among these may be numbered Epaphras, who not only became his Col. i. 7. convert, but probably his missionary to the neighbouring Colossians. Of all the incidents, however, which mark Paul's residence at Ephesus, the most interesting, perhaps, is his meeting with certain disciples of John the Baptist.
ST. PAUL AND THE DISCIPLES OF JOHN THE BAPTIST. No mention is made by any of the Evangelists of the disciples of John the Baptist, subsequently to their master's imprisonment and death. Probably the greater part of them became followers of Jesus; having been indeed called and instructed by John to this very end. Some notice of this transfer might have been intended in the formal embassy on which he sent them to our Saviour, when he found his own removal from them likely to be at hand.69 But before it actually took place, some might have quitted Palestine ; and thus, although convinced by the preaching of Christ's forerunner, might have had no opportunity of attaching themselves either to Him or to the disciples of Him whose way their master had prepared. Such might have been the case with those, who, about
80 Matt. xi. 2. See Appendix (F.)
twelve in number, were found by Paul at Ephesus. Apollos, one similarly circumstanced, had, before the apostle's arrival, received
baptism from Aquila and Priscilla ; and had already, from his eloActs xviii. quence and knowledge of the Scriptures, become eminently service
able to the Christian cause in Achaia. As Apollos is said to have been of Alexandria, these others also might have come from the
same place. Even so, their total ignorance of all that had occurred Acts xix. 2. at Jerusalem during an interval of more than twenty years, on a
subject which so nearly concerned them as the descent of the Holy Ghost, and the preaching and baptizing of the apostles; and this, too, notwithstanding their manifest expectation of the events, strongly confirms the remark formerly made, on the extreme tardiness with which intelligence of the several stages of the new dispensation was communicated, even between places the most connected by frequent intercourse. Between Alexandria and Jerusalem there was at this time nearly as much intercourse, as between the holy city and the remote parts of Judæa itself; and the Passover, at least, was yearly attended by numbers, with, perhaps, a more scrupulous punctuality than by the Jews who were resident in their native country.
The rebaptism of these disciples of John the Baptist, first by Baptisms of Aquila and Priscilla, and, in a second instance, by St. Paul,
suggests an inquiry into the difference between the baptism of John and that of Paul; which again leads us to ask, what was the difference between this last and that of Jesus Christ himself.
John baptized with water only; that is, there was no inward grace bestowed on the disciple through the ceremony. Baptism was only a sign of admission into the temporary society over which he presided; and as such, a pledge also that the initiated would conform to the rule of that society, repentance.
But, while John baptized, he pointed to the coming of Jesus, as of one who should “baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire ;'' meaning, that his baptism should be performed, with water indeed, but not with water only—that the immersion and sprinkling should not be merely the sign of admission into a society, or the pledge of conformity with rules, but the appointed means for imparting the Holy Spirit. It was really then a baptizing with the Holy Ghost, rather than with water; for the same reason as we should say, that he who was sent by the prophet to wash in Jordan was cured, not by the washing, but by the secret grace attached to it; or again, that it was not the clay on the blind man's eyes which restored him to sight, but the virtue which went forth from Jesus with the act of putting it on.
“ With the Holy Ghost,” says St. John, therefore, “He shall baptize, and with fire;” that is, with the Holy Ghost, whose emblem and attesting sign shall be fire. He speaks of the flame which descended on the day of Pentecost, in proof of the true invisible descent of the Holy Ghost.
Matt. iii. 11;
John i. 33.
Such then was the baptism of Jesus, as distinguished from that of John. Jesus himself indeed baptized not, but such was the baptism of his followers. At the same time, an evident distinction obtains between this rite as performed by his disciples during his abode on earth, and as performed by those who after the day of Pentecost were enabled to fulfil his commission of baptizing, not only in the name of the Father and of the Son, but also of the Holy Ghost. It was, doubtless, owing to this very ground of difference, that they were forbidden to enter upon their duties until the descent of the Holy Ghost had taken place. For, until that event, they could neither impart that holy gift to the initiated, nor have properly baptized them into that name. It is plain, for the same reason, that whatever baptisms took place during our Saviour's ministry must have been similarly defective. And yet it would seem, that to that stage of Christian baptism more especially John's words relate, “ He Luke iii. 16; shail baptize you,” &c. And, doubtless, they are to be so understood. The baptism of Jesus, during his abode on earth, was defective; no more internal grace was conveyed at the time through it than through John's. But this was in conformity with the character of Christ's whole ministry. It was imperfect for the time, but so framed as to become perfect afterwards. Those whom he baptized by the hands of his apostles and of the seventy were in one sense incompletely baptized; because the most important effects of the ceremony
did not in these instances immediately follow the performance of it. Still, when he sent the Holy Spirit on them, he may be said to have himself completed their baptism; which was thus more honourable than any others could boast of receiving. With them the giving of the Holy Ghost was not by the agency of human ministers, but immediately by their Lord and their God. Being baptized, too, by a manifestation of the Holy Ghost, these had no more need to be rebaptized unto that name, in addition to the form wherewith they had already been admitted as disciples, than had the apostles to be baptized unto Christ, when called by him in person. The presence of the Divine Being in each manifestation, superseded and implied all that could be intended by specific baptism unto that name, which, in each case, designated the Person of the Godhead then present. None of Christ's disciples, accordingly, were rebaptized after the descent of the Holy Ghost ;70 but with John's, the case was widely different. On the present occasion it is particularly recorded, that Paul explained to them the difference, baptized them in the Christian form, and imparted to them the Holy Ghost, testified by the gift of tongues and of prophecy.
70 Tertullian mentions certain freethinkers of his day, who argued from this fact, that either Christian baptism
was not necessary to salvation, or else the apostles were not saved.- De Baptismo, C. 12.