Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

md when they had preached the Gospel to .hat city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and to Antioch/' This account comprises the period to which the allusion in the epistle is to be referred. We have so far therefore a conformity between the history and the epistle, that St. Paul is asserted in the history to have suffered persecutions in the three cities, his persecutions which are appealed to in the epistle; and not only so, but to have suffered these persecutions both in immediate succession, and in the order in which the cities are mentioned in the epistle. The conformity also extends to another circumstance. In the apostolic history Lystra and Derbe are commonly mentioned together: in the quotation from the epistle Lystra is mentioned, and not Derbe. And the distinction will appear on this occasion to be accurate; for St. Paul is here enumerating his persecutions: and although he underwent grievous persecutions in each of the three cities through which he passed to Derbe, at Derbe itself he met with none: "The next day he departed," says the historian, " to Derbe ; and when they had preached the Gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra." The epistle, therefore, in the names of the cities, in the order in which they are enumerated, and in the place at which the enumeration stops, corresponds exactly with the history.

But a second question remains, namely, how these persecutions were "known" to Timothy, or why the apostle should recall these in particular to his remembrance, rather than many other persecutions with which his ministry had been attended. When some time, probably three years afterwards (vide. Pearson's Annales Paulinas,) St. Paul made a second journey through the same country, " in order to go again and visit the brethren in every city where he had preached the word of the Lord," we read, Acts, chap, xvi. 1. that, "when he came to Derbe and Lystra, behold a certain disciple was there named Timotheus." One or other, therefore, of these cities was the place of Timothy's abode. We read moreover that he was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium; so that he must have been well acquainted with these places. Also again, when Paul came to Derbe and Lystra, Timothy was already a disciple: "Behold, a certain disciple was there named Timotheus." He must therefore have been converted before. But since it is expressly stated in the epistle, that Timothy was con

verted by St. Paul himself, that he was "his own son in the faith;" it follows that he must have been converted by him upon his former journey into those parts; which was the very time when the apostle underwent the persecutions referred to in the epistle. Upon the whole, then, persecutions at the several cities named in the epistle are expressly recorded in the Acts: aud Timothy's knowledge of this part of St. Paul's history, which knowledge is appealed to in the epistle, is fairly deduced from the place of his abode, and the time of his conversion. It may farther be observed, that it is probable from this account, that St. Paul was in the midst of those persecutions when Timothy became known to him. No wonder then that the apostle, though in a letter written long afterwards, should remind his favourite conveit of those scenes of affliction and distress under which they first met.

Although this coincidence, as to the names of the cities, be more specific and direct than many which we have pointed out; yet I apprehend there is no just reason for thinking it to be artificial: for had the writer of the epistle sought a coincidence with the history upon this head, and searched the Acts of the Apostles for the purpose, I conceive he would have sent us at once to Philippi and Thessalonica, where Paul suffered persecution, and where, from what is stated, it may easily be gathered that Timothy accompanied him, rather than have appealed to persecutions as known to Timothy, in the account of which persecutions Timothy's presence is not mentioned; it not being till after one entire chapter, and in the history of a journey three years future to this, that Timothy's name occurs in the Acts of the Apostles for the first time.

CHAPTER XIII.

THE EPISTLE TO TrTUS.

No.1.

A Very characteristic circumstance in this epistle, is this quotation from Epimenides, chap. i. 12 : "One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretans are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies."

Kgrjrcs oei jeufftai, xciKa Brjpta, yaoTepes ttgyai.

I call this quotation characteristic, because no writer in the New Testament, except St. Paul, appealed to heathen testimony; and because Saint Paul repeatedly did so. In his celebrated speech at Athens, preserved in the seventeenth chapter of the Acts, he tells his audience, that" in God we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring."

,— Tb yap Kai yevos ctr/te^.

The reader will perceive much similarity of manner in these two passages. The reference in the speech is to a heathen poet; it is the same in the epistle. In the speech the apostle urges his hearers with the authority of a poet of their own; in the epistle he avails himself of the same advantage. Yet there is a variation, which shows that the hint of inserting a quotation in the epistle was not, as it may be suspected, borrowed from seeing the like practice attributed to St. Paul in the history; and it is this, that in the epistle the author cited is called a prophet, " one of themselves, even a prophet of their own." Whatever might be the reason for calling Epimenides a prophet: whether the names of poet and prophet were occasionally convertible; whether Epimenides in particular had obtained that title, as Grotius seems to have proved ; or whether the appellation was given to him, in this instance, as having delivered a description of the Cretan character, which the future state of morals among them verified: whatever was the reason (and any of these reasons will account for the variation, supposing St. Paul to have been the author), one point is plain, namely, if the epistle had been forged, and the author had inserted a quotation in it merely from having seen an example of the same kind in a speech ascribed to St. Paul, he would so far have imitated his original, as to have introduced his quotation in the same manner; that is, he would have given to Epimenides the title which he saw there given to Aratus. The other side of the alternative in that the history took the hint from the epistle. But that the author of the Acts of the Apostles had not the Epistle to Titus before him, at least that he did not use it as one of the documents or materials of his narrative, is rendered nearly certain by the observation, that the name of Titus does not Once occur in his book.

It is well known, and was remarked by St. Jerome, that the apophthegm in the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians, "Evil communications corrupt good manners," is an Iambic of Menander's:

todeiptiaiv yOri xpytrff 6fii\icu Kauai.

Here we have another unaffected instance of the same turn and habit of composition. Probably there are some hitherto unnoticed; and more, which the loss of the orginal authors renders impossible to be now ascertained.

No. IL

There exists a visible affinity between the Epistle to Titus and the First Epistle to Timothy. Both letters were addressed tb persons left by the writer to preside in their respective churches during his absence. Both letters are principally occupied in describing the qualifications to be sought for, in those whom they should appoint to offices in the church; and the ingredients of this description are in both letters nearly the same. Timothy and Titus are likewise cautioned against the same prevailing corruptions, and in particular, against the same misdirection of their cares and studies. This affinity obtains, not only in the subject of the letters, which, from the similarity of situation in the persons to whom they were addressed, might be expected to be somewhat alike, but extends, in a great variety of instances, to the phrases and expressions. The writer accosts his two friends with the same salutation, and passes on to the business of his letter by the same transition.

"Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia" &c. 1 Tim. chap.

i. 2, 3.

"To Titus, mine own son after the common faith : Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. For this cause left 1 thee in Crete." Tit. chap. i. 4, 5.

If Timothy was not to "give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions," (1 Tim. chap. i. 4.); Titus also was to "avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions," (chap, iii. 9.); and was tc " rebuke them sharply, not giving heed to Jewish fables." (chap, i. 14.) If Timothy was to beapattern (twitos), (1 Tim. chap. iv. 12.); so was Titus, (chap.

ii. 7.) If Timothy was to "let no man despise his youth," (I Tim. chap. iv. 12.); Titus also was to " let no man despise him," (chap. ii. 15.) This verbal consent is also observable in some very peculiar expressions. which have no relation to the particular character of Timothy or Titus.

The phrase, "it is a faithful saying" (-nurros i Ao-ym), made use of to preface some sentence upon which the writer lays a more than ordinary stress, occurs three times in the First Epistle to Timothy, once in the Second, and once in the epistle before us, and in no other part of St. Paul's writings; and it is remarkable that these three epistles were probably all written towards the conclusion of his life ; and that they are the only epistles which were written after his first imprisonment at Rome.

The same observation belongs to another singularity of expression, and that is in the epithet "sound (yyiaipwv), as applied to words or doctrine. It is thus used, twice in the First Epistle to Timothy, twice in the Second, and three times in the Epistle to Titus, beside two cognate expressions, vyuuvomns rn mart and Xoyov iyen; and it is found, in the same sense, in no other part of the New Testament.

The phrase, " God our Saviour," stands in nearly the same predicameut. It is repeated three times in the First Epistle to Timothy, as many in the Epistle to Titus, and in no other book of the New Testament occurs at all, except once in the Epistle of Jude.

Similar terms, intermixed indeed with others, are employed in the two epistles, in enumerating the qualifications required in those who should be advanced to stations of authority in the church.

"A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity."* 1 Tim. chap. iii. 2—4.

"If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not accused of riot, or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men,

* " Aci ovv 7ov enurKOTrov aveniknnov ttvai, fiias yvvaiKOs aj/bga,vTltpa\iov, ataippova, KOOfUOV, <plXo\tVQV, bl&OKrUCOV, fiT) naooivov, 1*0 rrXriicTnv , fin aio~xpoKtpfar aW' *irteiKv, auaxov, atpiXaoyvpov Tow ibiov Oikov Ka\ws irgoiora/xcyoy, rtKva exovra. imorayrifiera Traons trtfivoTwros."

sober, just, holy, temperate."* Titos, ch. i, 6—8.

The most natural account which can be given of these resemblances, is to suppose that the two epistles were written nearly at the same time, and whilst the same ideas and phrases dwelt in the writer's mind. Let us inquire, therefore, whether the notes of time, extant in the two epistles, in any manner favour this supposition.

We have seen that it was necessary to refer the First Epistle to Timothy to a date subsequent to St. Paul's first imprisonment at Rome, because there was no journey into Macedonia prior to that event, which accorded with the circumstance of leaving "Timothy behind at Ephesus." The journey of St. Paul from Crete, alluded to in the epistle before us, and in which Titus "was left in Crete to set in order the things that were wanting," must, in like manner, be carried to the period which intervened between his first and second imprisonment. For the history, which reaches, we know, to the time of St. Paul's first imprisonment, contains no account of his going to Crete, except upon his voyage as a prisoner to Rome; and that this could not be the occa , sion referred to in our epistle is evident from hence, that when St. Paul wrote this epistle, he appears to have been at liberty; whereas after that voyage, he continued for two years at least in confinement. Again, it is agreed that St. Paul wrote his First Epistle to Timothy from Macedonia: "As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went (or came) into Macedonia." And that he was in these parts, L e. in this peninsula, when he wrote the Epistle to Titus, is rendered probable by his directing Titus to come to him to Nicopolis: "When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent (make haste) to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter." The most noted city of that name was in Epirus, near to Actium. And I think the form of speaking, as well as the nature of the case, renders it probable that the writer was at Nicopolis, or in the neighbourhood thereof, when he dictated this direction to Titus.

* " Ei Tis tartr aveyKXriros, fuas yvvaiKos aynp, rtKva txwv '"ora, fiv ev Karnyoptq eunrnas, n awnoroKra. Aci yap rov entoKowov aveyK\tfTov twai, us Qeou oucovofiov, fjai avBa&n, fin ogyt\ov, fin -napotvov, fin irXnKrnv, fin aioxpoKtp&n" aAAo tpi\o^evov, <pi\ayaBov, truipgova, StKaiov, boiov, eyKparn."

Upon the whole, if we may be allowed to suppose that St. Paul, after his liberation at Rome, sailed into Asia, taking Crete in his way; that from Asia and from Ephesus, the capital of that country, he proceeded into Macedonia, and crossing the peninsula in his progress, came into the neighbourhood of Nicopolis; we have a route which falls in with every thing. It executes the intention expressed by the apostle of visiting Colosse and Philippi as soon as he should be set at liberty at Rome. It allows him to leave "Titus at Crete," and " Timothy at Ephesus, as he went into Macedonia;" and to write to both not long after from the peninsula of Greece, and probably the neighbourhood of Nicopolis: thus bringing together the dates of these two letters, and thereby accounting for that affinity between them, both in subject and language, which our remarks have pointed out . I confess that the journey which we have thus traced out for St. Paul, is in a great measure hypothetic: but it should be observed, that it is a species of consistency, which seldom belongs to falsehood, to admit of an hypothesis, which includes a great number of independent circumstances without contradiction.

CHAPTER XIV.

THE EPISTLE TO PHILEMON.

No. I.

The singular correspondency between this epistle and that to the Colossians has been remarked already. An assertion in the Epistle to the Colossians, viz. that " Onesimus was one of them," is verified, not by any mention of Colosse, any the most distant intimation concerning the place of Philemon's abode, but singly by stating Onesimus to be Philemon's servant, and by joining in the salutation Philemon with Archippus; for this Archippus, when we go back to the Epistle to the Colossians, appears to have been an inhabitant of that city, and, as it should seem, to have held an office of authority in that church. The case stands thus. Take the Epistle to the Colossians alone, and no circumstance is discoverable which makes out the assertion, that Onesimus was "one of them." Take the Epistle to Philemon alone, and nothing at all appears concerning the place to which Philemon or his servant Onesimus belonged. For any

thing that is said in the epistle, Philemon might have been a Thessalonian, a Philippian, or an Ephesian, as well as a Colossian. Put the two epistles together, and the matter is clear. The reader perceives a junction of circumstances, which ascertains the conclusion at once. Now, all that is necessary to be added in this place is, that this correspondency evinces the genuineness of one epistle, as well as of the other. It is like comparing the two parts of a cloven tally. Coincidence proves the authenticity of both.

No. n,

And this coincidence is perfect; not only in the main article of showing, by implication, Onesimus to be a Colossian, but in many dependent circumstances.

1. "I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have sent again," (ver. 10—12.) It appears from the Epistle to the Colossians, that, in truth, Onesimus was sent at that time to Colosse: "All my state shall Tychicus declare, whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother." Colos. chap. iv. 7—9.

2. "I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds," (ver. 10.) It appears from the preceding quotation, that Onesimus was with St, Paul when he wrote the Epistle to the Colossians; and that he wrote that epistle in imprisonment is evident from his declaration in the fourth chapter and third verse . "Praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds"

3. St. Paul bids Philemon prepare for him a lodging "For I trust," says he, "that through your prayers I shall be given unto you." This agrees with the expectation of speedy deliverance, which he expressed in another epistle written during the same imprisonment: " Him" (Timothy) "I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me: but 1 trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly" Phil, chap. ii. 23, 24.

4. As the letter to Philemon, and that to the Colossians, were written at the same time, and sent by the same messenger, the one to a particular inhabitant, the other to the church of Colosse, it may be expected that the same or nearly the same persons would be about St. Paul, and join with him, as was the practice, in the salutations of the epistle. Accordingly we find the names of Aristarchus, Marcus, Epaphras, Luke, and Demas, in both epistles. Timothy, who is joined with St. Paul in the superscription of the Epistle to the Colossians, is joined with him in this. Tychicus did not salute Philemon, because he accompanied the epistle to Colosse, and would undoubtedly there see him. Yet the reader of the Epistle to Philemon will remark one considerable diversity in the catalogue of saluting friends, and which shows that the catalogue was not copied from that to the Colossians. In the Epistle to the Colossians, Aristarchus is called by St. Paul his fellow-prisoner, Colos. chap. iv. 10.; in the Epistle to Philemon, Aristarchus is mentioned without any addi tion, and the title of fellow-prisoner is given to Epaphras.*

And let it also be observed, that notwithstanding the close and circumstantial agreement between the two epistles, this is not the case of an opening left in a genuine writing, which an impostor is induced to fill up; nor of a reference to some writing not extant, which sets a sophist at work to supply the loss, in like manner as, because St. Paul was supposed (Colos. chap. iv. 16.) to allude to an epistle written by him to the Laodiceans, some person has from thence taken the hint of uttering a forgery under that title. The present, I say, is not that case; for Philemon's name is not mentioned in the Epistle to the Colossians; Onesimus's servile condition is no where hinted at, any more than his crime, his flight, or the place or time of his conversion. The story therefore of the epistle, if it be a fiction, is a fiction to which the author could not have been guided, by any thing he had read in St, Paul's genuine writings.

No. III.

Ver. 4, 5. "I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, hearing ol thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints."

"Hearing of thy love and faith." This

is the form of speech which St. Paul was

* Dr. Benson observes, and perhaps truly, that the appellation of fellow-prisoner, as applied by St. Paul to Epaphras, did not imply that they were imprisoned together at the time; any more than your calling a person your fellow-traveller imports that you are then upon your travels. If he had, upon any former occasion, travelled with you, you might afterwards speak of him under that title. It 14 just so with the term fellow-prisoner.

wont to use towards those churches which he had not seen, or then visited: see Rom. chap. i. 8.; Ephes. chap. i. 15.; Col. chap. i. 3, 4. Toward those churches and persons, with whom he was previously acquainted, he employed a different phrase; as " I thank my God always on your behalf," (1 Cor. chap. i. 4.; 2 Thess. chap. i. 3.); or, "upon every remembrance of you," (Phil . chap. i. 3.; 1 Thess. chap. i. 2, 3.; 2 Tim. chap. i. 3.); and never speaks of hearing of them. Yet I think it must be concluded, from the nineteenth verse of this epistle, that Philemon had been converted by St. Paul himself: "Albeit, I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides." Here then is a peculiarity. Let us inquire whether the epistle supplies any circumstance which will account for it. We have seen that it may be made out, not from the epistle itself, but from a comparison of the epistle with that to the Colossians, that Philemon was an inhabitant of Colosse: and it farther appears, from the Epistle to the Colossians, that St. Paul had never been in that city; "I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you and for them at Laodicea, and for as many ashave not seen my face in the flesh." Col. ch. ii. 1. Although, therefore, St. Paul had formerly met with Philemon at some other place, and had been the immediate instrument of his conversion, yet Philemon's faith and conduct afterwards, inasmuch as he lived in a city which St. Paul had never visited, could only be known to him by fame and reputation.

No. IV.

The tenderness and delicacy of this epistle have long been admired: "Though I might be much bcld in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ; I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds." There is something certainly very melting and persuasive in this, and every part of the epistle. Yet, in my opinion, the character of St. Paul prevails in it throughout. The warm, affectionate, authoritative teacher is interceding with an absent friend for a beloved convert. He urges his suit with an earnestness, befitting perhaps not so much the occasion, as the ardour and sensibility of his own mind. Here also, as everywhere, he shows himself conscious of-thi

« VorigeDoorgaan »