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matter of fact. Michaelis has produced another, more simple and natural, viz. that Paul, on his return from Crete, visited Corinth a second time before he went to winter at Nicopolis. This second visit is unnoticed in the Acts, because the voyage itself is unnoticed. The third visit promised in 2 Cor. xii. 14. and xiii. 1, 2. was actually paid on the apostle's second return to Rome, when he took Corinth in his way. (2 Tim. iv. 20.) "Thus critically does the book of the Acts harmonize, even in its omissions, with the Epistles and these with each other, in the minute invidental circumstance of the third visit."2
On the undesigned coincidences between this Epistle and the Acts of the Apostles, see Dr. Paley's Hora Pauline, Chap. IV.3
ON THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS.
I. Notice of the Christian church in Galatia.-II. Date.-III. Genuineness and authenticity of this Epistle.-IV. Its occasion and scope.-V. Synopsis of its contents.-VI. Observations on this Epistle.
I. CHRISTIANITY was very early planted in Galatia by Paul himself, and it appears from the Acts of the Apostles that he visited the churches in this country more than once. Two distinct visits are clearly marked, viz. the first about the year 50 (Acts xvi. 6.), and the second about the year 51 or 55. (xviii. 23.)
II. There is great diversity of opinion among learned men concerning the date of the Epistle to the Galatians. Weingart supposes it to have been written so early as the year 48; Michaelis, in 49; Cappel, in 51; Bishop Pearson, in 57; Mill, Fabricius, Moldenhawer, and others, in 58; Van Til and Dr. Doddridge, in 53; Hottinger, in 54; Lord Barrington, Drs. Benson and Lardner, in 53; Beausobre, Rosenmuller, and Dr. A. Clarke, in 52 or 53; Bishop Tomline, in 52. Theodoret, who is followed by Dr. Lightfoot and some others, imagine that it was one of those Epistles which Saint Paul wrote from Rome during his first confinement; but this opinion is contradicted by the apostle's silence concerning his bonds, which he has often mentioned in the letters that are known to have been written at that time.
It is evident that the Epistle to the Galatians was written early, because he complains in it of their speedy apostasy from his doctrine, (Gal. i. 6.), and warns them in the strongest and most forcible terms against the judaizing teachers, who disturbed the peace of the churches in Syria and Asia Minor. (i. 7-9. iii. 1.) The warmth of the apostle's expressions led Tertullian to conclude that Saint Paul was himself a neophyte or novice in the Christian faith at the time of writing this Epistle. And as no intimation is given through the whole of it that he had been with them more than once, we are authorized to conclude, that he wrote this letter from Corinth about the end of 52, or early in the year 53. The subscription, indeed, states it to have been written from Rome: but this is evidently spurious, for Saint Paul's first journey to Rome did not take place until at least ten years after the conversion of the Galatians.
III. The genuineness of this Epistle was never doubted. It is cited by the apostolic fathers, Clement of Rome, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp ;9 and is declared to be authentic by Irenæus,10 Clement of Alexandria," Tertullian,12 Caius,13 Origen, and by all subsequent writers. It is worthy of
1 Michaelis, vol. iv. p. 37.
Dr. Hales's Chronology, vol. il. book ii. p. 1123.
Calinet, Preface sur la seconde Epitre aux Corinthiens. Lardner's Works, 8vo. vol. vi. pp. 324, 325.; 4to. vol. iii. p. 296. Rosenmüller, Scholia in N. T. tom. iv. pp. 251, 252.; Bloch, Chronotaxis Scriptorum Pauli, pp. 192-203.: Hug's Introduction, vol. ii. pp. 335-392. Michaelis, vol. iv. pp. 13-75. Whitby's and Macknight's Prefaces to 2 Corinthians. Compare Gal. i. 8. 11. iii. i. et seq.
remark, that this Epistle was acknowledged to be genuine by the heretic Marcion, who reckoned it the earliest written of all Saint Paul's Letters, and accordingly placed it first in his Apostolicon, or Collection of Apostolical Writings.15 IV. The Churches in Galatia, as in most other countries, were composed partly of converted Jews and partly of Gentile converts, but the latter seem to have been most numerous. It appears from the contents of this Epistle, that, not long after the Galatians had embraced Christianity, a certain judaizing teacher or false apostle had either crept in or risen up among them, who, to advance his own doctrine, questioned Saint Paul's apostolical authority, insinuating that Peter and the apostles of the circumcision were superior to him, and consequently much more to be regarded. It was further insinuated that they never preached against the cir cumcision of Gentile converts: but that it was a doctrine peculiar to Paul, who was only an apostle of men, and had not such extraordinary powers and illumination as had been conferred on the other apostles. The false teacher seems even to have intimated, that Saint Paul did himself secretly, and at some times, preach the necessity of circumcision to the insisted on the contrary. In short, the false apostle was deGentile converts; though generally, and at other times, he sirous that all Gentile Christians should submit themselves to circumcision, and consequently oblige themselves to observe the whole law of Moses, as if the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone were insufficient to justify and save them. And so successful was this teacher in propagating this error, that some of the Galatians actually submitted to be circumcised. (Gal. v. 2-12.) From the expression of Saint Paul in Gal. v. 9-10., it is probable that this disturbance in the Galatian churches was made by one judaizing teacher only, and not and, from what is said in vi. 12, 13., it appears that he was by several zealots, as some commentators have supposed; a man of immoral character, who acted not from any religious views or motives, but from vain-glory and fear; that he might conciliate the favour of the Jews by increasing the number of proselytes, and so escape the persecutions raised by the unbelieving Jews against Saint Paul, and those who adhered to his doctrines.
Such were the circumstances that occasioned Saint Paul to write this Epistle with his own hand (Gal. vi. 11.), contrary to his usual practice of dictating his letters. Accord ingly, its SCOPE is, to assert his apostolical character and authority, and the doctrine which he taught, and to confirm the Galatian churches in the faith of Christ, especially with respect to the important point of justification by faith alone; to expose the errors which had been disseminated among them, by demonstrating to them the true nature and use of the moral and ceremonial law; and to revive those principles of Christianity which he had taught when he first preached the Gospel to them.
three parts, viz. V. The Epistle to the Galatians, therefore, consists of
PART I. The Introduction. (i. 1-5.) PART II. The Discussion of the Subjects which had occasioned this Epistle: in which
SECT. 1. is a vindication of Saint Paul's apostolical doctrine and authority, and shows that he was neither a missionary from the church at Jerusalem, nor a disciple of the apostles, but an immediate apostle of Christ himself, by divine reve lation; consequently that he was in no respect inferior to Saint Peter himself. (i. 6-24. ii.)
SECT. 2. The apostle disputes against the advocates for circumcision and the observance of the law of Moses, and shows,
§i. That justification is by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Mosaic law. (iii. 1-18.)
§ ii. That the design of God in giving the law was, not to justify but to convince of sin, as well as to restrain from the commission of it; and that being intended only for a temporary institution, instead of vacating the promise, it was designed to be subservient to it, by showing the necessity of a better righteousness than that of the law, and so to lead convinced souls to Christ; that, being jus.ified by faith in him, they might obtain the benefit of the promise. (tii. 19-24.) Such being the end and design of the law, the apostle infers from it, that now, under the Gospel, we are freed from the law (25-29.); and illustrates his inference 'by God's treatment of the Jewish church, which he put under the law, as a father puts a minor under a guardian. (iv. 1-7.)
SECT. 3. shows the great weakness and folly of the Galatians in going about to subject themselves to the law, and that
Epiphanius, Hæres. 42.
by submitting to circumcision they became subject to the whole law, and would forfeit the benefits of the covenant of grace. (iv. 8—21. v. 1–9.)
SECT. 4. contains various instructions and exhortations for
Christian behaviour, and particularly concerning a right use of their Christain freedom. (v. 10-16. vi. 1-10.) PART III. The Conclusion, which is a Summary of the Topics discussed in this Epistle, terminates with an Apostolical Benediction. (vi. 11-18.)
VI. Although the subject discussed in the Epistle to the Galatians is the same that is treated in the Epistle to the Romans, viz. the doctrine of justification by faith alone, yet the two Epistles differ materially in this respect. The Epistle to the Galatians (which was first written) was designed to prove against the Jews, that men are justified by faith without the works of the law of Moses, which required perfect obedience to all its precepts, moral and ceremonial, under the penalty of the curse, from which the atonements and purifications prescribed by Moses had no power to deliver the sinner. On the contrary, in his Epistle to the Romans, Saint Paul treats of justification on a more enlarged plan; his design being to prove against both Jews and Gentiles, that neither the one nor the other can be justified meritoriously by performing works of law, that is, the works enjoined by the law of God, which is written on men's hearts; but that all must be justified gratuitously by faith through the obedience of Christ. The two Epistles, therefore, taken together, form a complete proof, that justification is not to be obtained meritoriously, either by works of morality, or by rites and ceremonies, though of divine appointment; but that it is a free gift, proceeding entirely from the mercy of God, to those who are qualified by
faith to receive it.2
This Epistle is written with great energy and force of language, and at the same time affords a fine instance of Saint Paul's skill in managing an argument. The chief objection, which the advocate or advocates for the Mosaic law had urged against him, was, that he preached circumcision. the beginning of the Epistle he overturns this slander by a statement of facts, without taking any express notice of it; but at the end he fully refutes it, that he might leave a strong and lasting impression upon their minds.
ON THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS.
Account of the church at Ephesus.-II. Genuineness and
I. CHRISTIANITY was first planted in this city by Saint Paul, about A. D. 54, when he reasoned with the Jews in their synagogues for the space of three months; he did not, however, continue long there at that time, but hastened to keep the feast at Jerusalem, promising to return again to his hearers. (Acts xviii. 19-21.) Accordingly he came to Ephesus early the following year (Acts xix. 1. et seq.), and preached the word with such success, and performed such extraordinary miracles among them, that a numerous church was formed there, chiefly composed of Gentile converts; whose piety and zeal were so remarkable, that many of them, in abhorrence of the curious arts which they had used, burnt their magical books, to a great value. (xix. 19.) And such was the apostle's concern for their spiritual welfare, that he did not leave them until A. D. 56, when he had been about three years among them. (xx. 31.) After this he spent some time in Macedonia and Achaia; and on his return to Jerusalem (A. D. 57) he sent for the elders of the Ephesian church to meet him at Miletus. There he took an affectionate leave of them, as one that should see them no more; appealing to them with what fidelity he had discharged his ministry among them, and exhorting them to take heed unto themselves, and unto the flock" committed to their care, lest they should be corrupted by seducing teachers who would rise among them, and artfully endeavour to pervert them. (xx. 17-38.)
Though the erroneous doctrines of the judaizing teacher and his followers, as well as the calumnies which they spread for the purpose of discrediting him as an apostle, doubtless occasioned great uneasiness of mind to him and to the faith-first verse of this Epistle, which is an evident proof that the ful in that age, and did considerable injury among the Galatians, at least for some time: yet, ultimately, these evils have proved of no small service to the church in general. For, by obliging the apostle to produce the evidences of his apostleship, and to relate the history of his life, especially after his conversion, we have obtained the fullest assurance that he really was an apostle, called to be an apostle by Jesus Christ himself, and acknowledged to be such by those who were apostles before him; consequently, we are assured that our faith in the doctrines of the Gospel as taught by him (and it is he who has taught the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel most fully) is not built on the credit of men, but on the authority of the Spirit of God, by whom Saint Paul was inspired in the whole of the doctrine which he has delivered to the world.
As this letter was directed to the churches of Galatia, Dr. Macknight is of opinion, that it was to be read publicly in them all. He thinks, that it was in the first instance sent by Titus to the brethren in Ancyra, the chief city of Galatia, with an order to them to communicate it to the other churches, in the same manner as the first Epistle to the Thessalonians was appointed to be read to all the brethren in that city, and in the province of Macedonia.3
On the undesigned coincidences between this Epistle and the Acts of the Apostles, see Dr. Paley's Hora Pauline, Chap. V. In critically studying this Epistle, much assistance will be obtained from Dr. Bloomfield's Recensio Synoptica, vol. vii. pp. 311-509.
Compare, among other passages, Gal. iii. 2, 3. 5. iv. 21. v. 1-4. Dr. Macknight's Preface to the Epistle to the Galatians, sect. 3. * Ibid.
Calmet, Preface sur l'Epitre aux Galates. Rosenmüller, Scholia in N. T. tom. iv. pp. 394-396.; Bloch, Chronotaxis Scriptorum Pauli, pp. 131159.; Lardner's Works, 8vo. vol. vi. pp. 305-314.; 4to. vol. iii. pp. 287291.; Whitby's Preface; Hug's Introduction, vol. ii. pp. 361-367.; Michaelis. vol. iv. pp. 22
II. The apostle Paul is universally admitted to be the author
Lardner, 8vo. vol. ii. p. 70.; 4to. vol. i. p. 316.
10 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. pp. 263, 264.; 4to. vol. i. p. 423.
12 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. pp. 263, 264.; 4to. vol. i. p. 423.
13 See the original passage in Lardner, 8vo. vol. iv. p. 401.; 4to. vol. ii. p. 466.; or in Michaelis, vol. iv. pp. 142-146.
expressly cites the Epistle to the Ephesians' without any hesitation, it is evident that in his time (the latter part of the fourth century) this Epistle was not considered as being addressed to the Laodiceans.
Thirdly, it is contended that there are no allusions in this Epistle to St. Paul's having resided among the persons to whom it is addressed; and that the expressions in Eph. i. 15. iii. 2. and iv. 21. appear to be more suitable to persons whom he had never seen (which was the case of the Christians at Laodicea), than to the Ephesians, among whom he had resided about three years. (Acts xx. 31.) But these passages admit of easy and satisfactory interpretations, which directly refute this hypothesis. It will be recollected that four or five years had elapsed since Saint Paul had quitted Ephesus: he might, therefore, with great propriety, express (in i. 15.) his complacency on hearing that they continued steadfast in the faith, notwithstanding the various temptations to which they were exposed. Again, the expression in iii. 2. (as curare THY OV) which many translate and understand to mean, if ye have heard of the dispensation,-more correctly means, since ye have heard the dispensation of the grace of God, which had been made known to them by Saint Paul himself. Consequently this verse affords no countenance to the hypothesis above mentioned. The same remark applies to iv. 21., where a similar construction occurs, which ought in like manner to be rendered, since indeed ye have heard him, &c. But most stress has been laid upon the direction given by Saint Paul in Col. iv. 16.-that the Colossians should "cause the Epistle which he wrote to them to be read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that they should likewise read the Epistle from Laodicea ;"-which (it is contended) affords a plain proof that the Epistle, in our copies inscribed to the Ephesians, must be that which is intended in Col. iv. 16., and consequently was originally written to the Laodiceans. But this conclusion does not necessarily follow: for it is most probable, that by "the Epistle from Laodicea," Saint Paul meant the Epistle to the Ephesians, a copy of which was sent by the apostle's directions to the Laodiceans, whose city lay between Ephesus and Colosse; and, as it was within the circuit of the Ephesian church (which was the metropolitan of all Asia, as Ephesus was the chief city of proconsular Asia), the Epistle to the Ephesians, as already remarked,2 may refer to the whole province.
Michaelis, Haenlein, Hug, and Cellérier, after Archbishop Usher and Bengel, get rid of all the difficulties attending this question, by supposing the Epistle to have been encyclical or circular, and addressed to the Ephesians, Laodiceans, and some other churches in Asia Minor. But it could hardly be circular in the sense in which Michaelis understands that term: for he supposes that the different copies transmitted by Saint Paul had e Eper, at Ephesus, & Nadinux, at Laodicea, &c. as occasion required, and that the reason why all our manuscripts read Eper is, that when the books of the New Testament were first collected, the copy used was obtained from Ephesus; but this, Bishop Middleton observes, seems to imply what cannot be proved-that the canon was established by authority, and that all copies of this Epistle, not agreeing with the approved edition, were suppressed.
Dr. Macknight is of opinion, that Saint Paul sent the Ephesians word by Tychicus, who carried their letter, to send a copy of it to the Laodiceans, with an order to them to communicate it to the Colossians. This hypothesis will account, as well as that of Michaelis, for the want of those marks of personal acquaintance which the apostle's former residence might lead us to expect, and on which so much stress has been laid: for every thing local would be purposely omitted in an Epistle which had a further destination. The reader will adopt which of these hypotheses he may deem the best supported: we think the solution last stated, the most natural and probable; and that, when the united testimonies of manuscripts, and all the fathers, with the exception of Basil, are taken into consideration, we are fully justified in regarding this Epistle as written to the Ephesians.3 1 Lardner, 8vo. vol. iv. p. 404.; 4to. vol. ii. p. 467. See Vol. I. p. 58.
Stosch, de Epistolis Apostolorum non deperditis, p. 101. et seq. Calmet, sur aux Rosenmüller Koppe in respective Prolegomena to this epistle. Michaelis, vol. iv. pp. 128-146. Lardner's Works, 8vo. vol. vi. pp. 416-456.; 4to. vol. iii. pp. 342-362. Macknight on Col. iv. 16. Cellerier, Introd. au Nouv. Test. p. 423. Hug's Introd. vol. ii. pp. 425-433. Bishop Middleton on the Greek Article, pp. 508-518. (first edit.), who observes, that if ever there were an epistle from Saint Paul to the Laodiceans, it is lost; for that which is extant in Fabricius and in Mr. Jones's work on the canon (and of which we have given a translation in Appendix I to Vol. I. Sect. II.) is universally admitted to be a forgery; yet the loss of a canonical writing is of all suppositions the most improbable.
III. The subscription to this Epistle states, that it was written from Rome, and sent to the Ephesians by Tychicus, who was also the bearer of the Epistle to the Colossians, the similarity of which in style and subject shows that it was written at the same time. That this Epistle was written during Saint Paul's first imprisonment at Rome, is evident from its allusions to his confinement (iii. 1. iv. 1. vi. 20.); and as he does not express in it any hopes of a speedy release (which he does in his other Epistles sent from that city), we conclude with Dr. Lardner, Bishop Tomline, and others, that it was written during the early part of Saint Paul's imprisonment, and probably in the year 61, soon after he arrived at Rome.
IV. As Saint Paul was, in a peculiar manner, the apostle of the Gentiles, and was now a prisoner at Rome in consequence of his having provoked the Jews, by asserting that the observance of the Mosaic law was not necessary to obtain the favour of God, he was apprehensive lest advantage should be taken of his confinement to unsettle the minds of his Ephesian converts, who were almost wholly Gentiles. Hearing, however, that they stood firm in the faith of Christ, he wrote this Epistle in order to establish them in that faith, and to give them more exalted views of the love of God, and of the excellency and dignity of Christ; and at the same time to fortify their minds against the scandal of the cross. With this view, he shows them that they were saved by grace; and that, however wretched they once were, now they had equal privileges with the Jews. He then proceeds to encourage them to persevere in their Christian calling, by declaring with what steadfastness he suffered for the truth, and with what earnestness he prayed for their establishment and continuance in it; and urges them to walk in a manner becoming their profession, in the faithful discharge both of the general and common duties of religion, and of the special duties of particular relations.
V. In this Epistle we may observe the following par ticulars, besides the inscription (i. 1, 2.); viz. PART I. The Doctrine pathetically explained, which contains,
SECT. 1. Praise to God for the whole Gospel-blessing (i. 3— 14.), with thanksgiving and prayer for the saints. (i. 15— 23. ii. 1—10.)
SECT. 2. A more particular admonition concerning their once wretched but now happy condition. (ii. 11—22.) SECT. 3. A prayer for their establishment. (iii.) PART II. The Exhortation.
SECT. 1. General, to walk worthy of their calling, agreeable to (1.) The unity of the Spirit, and the diversity of his gifts. (iv. 1–16.) (2) The difference between their former and present state. (iv. 17-24.)
SECT. 2. Particular.
(1.) To avoid lying, anger, theft, and other sins (iv. 25-31. v. 1–21.), with á commendation of the opposite virtues.
(2.) To a faithful discharge of the relative duties of wives and husbands (v. 22-23.), of children and parents (vi. 1—4.), and of masters and ser. vants. (vi. 5-9.)
SECT. 3. Final.-To war the spiritual warfare. (vi. 10—20.) PART III. The Conclusion. (vi. 21—24.)
VI. The style of this Epistle is exceedingly animated, and corresponds with the state of the apostle's mind at the time of writing. Overjoyed with the account which their messenger had brought him of their faith and holiness (i. 15.), and transported with the consideration of the unsearchable wisdom of God, displayed in the work of man's redemption, and of his astonishing love towards the Gentiles in making them partakers, through faith, of all the benefits of Christ's death, he soars high in his sentiments on these grand subjects, and gives his thoughts utterance in sublime and copious expressions. Many of them contain happy allusions to the temple and statue of Diana at Ephesus. "No real Christian," says Dr. Macknight, "can read the doctrinal part of the Epistle to the Ephesians, without being impressed and roused by it, as by the sound of a trumpet."
On the undesigned coincidences between this Epistle and the Acts of the Apostles, see Dr. Paley's Horæ Paulinæ, Chap. VI.
and in that of the Colossians, see page 34. infra. For a table of the corresponding passages in this Epistle,
Preface to Ephesians, sect. 6.
ON THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS.
I. Account of the church at Philippi.-II. Date.-III. Occasion. IV. Scope and synopsis of its contents.
I. CHRISTIANITY was first planted at Philippi, in Macedonia, by Saint Paul, A. D. 50, the particulars of which are related in Acts xvi. 9-40.; and it appears from Acts xx. 6. that he visited them again A. D. 57, though no particulars are recorded concerning that visit. Of all the churches planted by Saint Paul, that at Philippi seems to have cherished the most tender concern for him; and though it appears to have been but a small community, yet its members were particularly generous towards him. For when the Gospel was first preached in Macedonia, no other church contributed any thing to his support, except the Philippians; who, while he was preaching at Thessalonica, the metropolis of that country, sent him money twice, that the success of the Gospel might not be hindered by its preachers becoming burdensome to the Thessalonians. (Phil. iv. 15, 16.) The same attention they showed to the apostle, and for the same reason, while he preached the Gospel at Corinth. (2 Cor. xi. 9.) And when they heard that Saint Paul was under confinement at Rome, they manifested a similar affectionate concern for him; and sent Epaphroditus to him with a present, lest he should want necessaries during his imprisonment. (ii. 25. iv. 10. 14-18.)
II. It appears from Saint Paul's own words, that this Epistle was written while he was a prisoner at Rome (i. 7. 13. iv. 22.); and from the expectation which he discovers, of being soon released and restored to them, as well as from the intimations contained in this letter (i. 12. ii. 26.), that he had then been a considerable time at Rome, it is probable that he wrote the Epistle to the Philippians towards the close of his first imprisonment, at the end of A. D. 62, or perhaps at the commencement of 63. The genuineness of this letter was never questioned.
Christ; and to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, that he may rejoice in the day of Christ on their account (i. 21-30. ii. 1—17.); and promises to send Timothy and Epaphroditus, of whom he makes a very affectionate mention. (19-30.)
SECT. 3. He solemnly cautions them against judaizing teachers, who preached Christ through envy und strife. (iii. iv. 1.)
SECT. 4. After some admonitions to particular persons (iv. 2, 3.), and some general exhortations to Christian cheerfulness, moderation, and prayer (4-7.), he proceeds to recommend virtue in the most extensive sense, mentioning all the different bases on which it had been placed by the Grecian philosophers. (8, 9.) Towards the close of his Epistle, he makes his acknowledgments to the Philippians for their seasonable and liberal supply, as it was a convincing proof of their affection for him, and of their concern for the support of the Gospel, which he preferred far before any secular interest of his own, expressly disclaiming all selfish mercenary views, and assuring them, with a noble simplicity, that he was able upon all occasions to accommodate his temper to his circumstances; and had learned, under the teachings of divine grace, in whatever station Providence might see fit to place him, therewith to be content. (10-18.) After which the apostle, having encouraged them to expect a rich supply of all their wants from their God and Father, to whom he devoutly ascribes the honour of all (19.), concludes with salutations from himself and his friends at Rome to the whole church, and a solemn benediction. (21-23.)
It is remarkable that the Epistle to the church at Philippi is the only one, of all Saint Paul's letters to the churches, in which not one censure is expressed or implied against any of its members; but, on the contrary, sentiments of unqualified commendation and confidence pervade every part of this Epistle. Its style is singularly animated, affectionate, and pleasing.
On the undesigned coincidences between this Epistle and the Acts of the Apostles, see Dr. Paley's Hora Paulinæ, Chap. VII.3
III. The more immediate occasion of the Epistle to the Philippians was the return of Epaphroditus, one of their pastors, by whom Paul sent it, as a grateful acknowledgment of their kindness in sending him supplies of money. From the manner in which Paul expressed himself on this occasion, it appears that he was in great want of necessaries before their contributions arrived; for as he had not converted the Romans, he did not consider himself as entitled to receive supplies from them. Being a prisoner, he could not work as formerly; and it was his rule never to receive any thing I. from the churches where factions had been raised against him. It also appears that the Philippians were the only church from whom he received any assistance, and that he conferred this honour upon them, because they loved him exceedingly, had preserved the Christian doctrine in purity, and had always conducted themselves as sincere Christians.
IV. The scope of this Epistle, therefore, is to confirm the Philippians in the faith, to encourage them to walk in a manner becoming the Gospel of Christ, to caution them against the intrusion of judaizing teachers, and to testify his gratitude for their Christian bounty.
Accordingly, after a short introduction (i. 1, 2.), he proceeds,
ON THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS.
Account of the church at Colosse.-II. Date.-III. Occa sion of this Epistle.-IV. Scope and analysis.
I. By whom or at what time Christianity was planted at Colossæ, we have no certain information. Dr. Lardner, Bishop Tomline, Boehmer, and others, are of opinion that the church at Colossæ was founded by Paul; and they ground this opinion principally on the following considerations; viz. the cities of Colossæ, Laodicea, and Hierapolis, that he That Paul was twice in Phrygia, in which country were does in effect say that he has dispensed the Gospel to the Colossians (i. 21-25.),-and that it appears from the terms did not address them as strangers, but as acquaintances, of affection and authority discoverable in this Epistle, that he friends, and converts. It is true that Paul was twice in Phrygia, but he does not seem to have visited the three cities above mentioned; for his route lay considerably to the northward of them, from Cilicia and Derbe to Lystra, and thence through Phrygia and Galatia to Mysia and Troas. (Acts xvi. 6.) And in his second tour he also passed through Galatia and Phrygia to Ephesus and Troas (Acts xviii. 23.), and so through the upper parts, or northern districts, of Asia Minor. (xix. 1.) That Paul did not plant the church at Colossæ, is
SECT. 1. To express his gratitude to God for their continuing steadfast in the faith, and prays that it may continue (i. 311.); and, lest they should be discouraged by the tidings of his imprisonment, he informs them that his sufferings and confinement, so far from impeding the progress of the Gospel, had "rather fallen out to its furtherance;" and assures them of his readiness to live or die, as should be most for their welfare and the glory of God. (12-20.)2 SECT. 2. He then exhorts them, in a strain of the most subRosenmüller, Scholia in Nov. Test. tom. iv. pp. 472-475.; Calmet, Prelime and pathetic eloquence, to maintain a conduct worthy face sur l'Epitre aux Philippiens; Michaelis's Introduction, vol. iv. pp. 152 of the Gospel, and to the practice of mutual love and can---160. Hug's Introduction, vol. ii. pp. 485-487; Lardner's Works, 8vo. dour, enforced by the highest of all examples,-that of Jesus vol. vi. pp. 132--161.; Macknight's Preface to this epistle. But the fullest view of the epistle to the Philippians will be found in Hoog's Specimen Acadeinicum inaugurale de Coetus Christianorum Philippensis Conditione primæva, ex epistola iis ab apostolo Paulo scripta, præcipuè dijudicanda. Lugd. Bat. 1825. 8vo.
1 M. Oeder, in a programma published in 1731, contended that this Epistle was written at a much earlier period at Corinth, and shortly after the planting of the church at Philippi: this hypothesis was examined and refuted by Wolfius in his Cure Philologica, vol. iii. pp. 168. et seg. and 271. et seq. In 1799 the celebrated Professor Paulus published a programma,, at Colasse, or anong the Colassians. With them agree the Syriac, de Tempore scriptæ prioris ad Timotheum atque ad Philippenses Epistolæ Pauline; in which he endeavours to show that it was written at Cæsarea; but his hypothesis has been refuted by Heinrichs in his notes on this Epistle. | 2 Verses 15-18. are a parenthesis, though not so marked in any editions or translations which we have seen.
In Col. i. 2. instead of ev Koλorris, at Colosse, the Alexandrian, Vati. can, Codex Ephrem, and several other ancient manuscripts, read av K. Coptic, and Sclavonic versions, as well as Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and many other learned fathers; but as the coins of this city are stamped ΚΟΛΟΣΣΗΝΟΙ, and ΔΗΜΟΣ ΚΟΛΟΣΣΗΝΏΝ (Eckel, Doctrina Nummorum Veterum, part i. vol. iii. p. 98.), Colossæ appears to be the more correct
church, and had reconciled men to the Father. (15-20.) The inference from this description is evident, that Jesus was superior to angels; that they were created beings, and ought not to be worshipped. In verse 21. Paul returns from this digression to the sentiments with which he had introduced it in the thirteenth and fourteenth verses; and again expresses his joy, that the Colossians remained faithful to the Gospel, which was to be preached to the Gentiles, without the restraints of the ceremonial law. From this view of the excellency of Christ's person, and the riches of his grace, the apostle takes occasion to express the cheerfulness with which he suffered in the cause of the Gospel, and his earnest solicitude to fulfil his ministry among them in the most successful manner; assuring them of his concern for them and for the other Christians in the neighbourhood, that they might be established in their adherence to the Christian faith. (i. 21-29. ii. 1—7.)
evident from his own declaration in ii. 1. where he says that | principalities or powers.-that he alone was the head of the neither the Colossians nor the Laodiceans had then "seen his f ce in the flesh." But though Paul had never been in Colossæ when he wrote this Epistle, yet Christianity had evidently been taught, and a church planted there. Rosenm ller is of opinion, that the Gospel was introduced into that city by Epaphras. It is not improbable that Epaphras, who is mentioned in i. 7. iv. 12, 13., was one of the earliest eachers; but it does not necessarily follow that he was the person who first planted Christianity there. Indeed, it is not likely that the Colossians would send away the founder of their church while it was yet in an infant state. As it appears from Acts xix. 10. that, during Paul's residence at Ephesus, many persons, both Jews and Greeks, came from various parts of Asia to hear the Gospel, Michaelis supposes that several Colossians, particularly Philemon, were of this number. He also thinks that Timothy might have taught them the Christian faith; as Paul subjoins his name to his own (i. 1.), and throughout the first chapter speaks in their joint names, except where the subject relates to his own imprisonment, and where Timothy of course could not be included.
II. But though it is impossible now to ascertain the founder of the church at Colossæ, the Epistle itself furnishes us with a guide to its date. In Col. iv. 3. the apostle alludes to his imprisonment, from which circumstance, as well as from its close affinity to the Epistle addressed to the Ephesians, it is evident that it was written nearly at the same time. Accordingly most commentators and critics refer it to the year 62. Its genuineness was never disputed.
III. At the time of writing this Epistle, Paul was "an ambassador in bonds," for maintaining the freedom of the Gentile converts from all subjection to the law of Moses.
Its immediate OCCASION was, some difficulties that had arisen among the Colossians, in consequence of which they sent Epaphras to Rome, to acquaint the apostle with the state of their affairs; to which we may add the letter (Col. iv. 16.) sent to him by the Laodiceans, who seem to have written to him concerning the errors of the false teachers, and to have asked his advice. Paul, therefore, replies in the present Epistle, which he sent to the Colossians as being the larger church, and also because the false teachers had probably caused greater disturbances among the Colossians; but desired that they would send the same Epistle to the Laodiceans, and ask them for a copy of their letter to Paul, in order that they might the better understand his answer.
Who the false teachers were, is a point not satisfactorily determined. Michaelis is of opinion that this Epistle was directed against the tenets and practices of the Essenes, of which sect an account has been given in the early part of this volume. But it is more probable that they were partly superstitious judaizing teachers, who diligently inculcated not only the Mosaic law, but also the absurd notions of the rabbins, and partial converts from Gentilism who blended Platonic notions with the doctrines of the Gospel. It is well known that the Platonists entertained singular ideas concerning demons, whom they represented as carrying men's prayers to God, from whom they brought back the blessings supplicated; and the doctrines of the Jews concerning angels were nearly the same as that of the Platonics concerning demons. It appears from Col. ii. 16-23. that the false teachers inculcated the worship of angels, abstinence from animal food, the observance of the Jewish festivals, new moons and Sabbaths, the mortification of the body by long-continued fastings, and, in short, the observance of the Mosaic ritual law, as absolutely necessary to salvation.
II. Having given these general exhortations, he proceeds directly to caution them against the vain and deceitful philosophy of the new teachers, and their superstitious adherence to the law; shows the superiority of Christ to angels, and warns Christians against worshipping them. He censures the observations of Jewish sabbaths and festivals, and cautions the Colossians against those corrupt additions which some were attempting to introduce, especially by rigours and superstitions of their own devising. (ii. 8-23.) To these doctrinal instructions succeed precepts concerning the practical duties of life, especially the relative duties of husbands and wives, parents and children, servants and masters. (iii. iv. 1-6.) The Epistle concludes with matters chiefly of a private nature, except the directions for reading it in the church of Laodicea, as well as in that of Colossæ. (iv. 7-18.) For an illustration of iv. 16. see Vol. I. p. 58.
Whoever, says Michaelis, would understand the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, must read them together, The one is in most places a commentary on the other; the meaning of single passages in one Epistle, which, if considered alone, might be variously interpreted, being determined by the parallel passages in the other Epistle. Yet, though there is a great similarity, the Epistle to the Colossians contains many things which are not to be found in that to the Ephesians; especially in regard to the worship of angels, and many single points, which appear to be Essene, and might prevail at Colossæ.
The following Table exhibits the corresponding passages of the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians. EPHESIANS. COLOSSIANS.
CHAP. i. 1, 2. CHAP. I. 1, 2.
i. 6, 7.
1. 3, 4.
i. 20. ii. 14.
i. 22. iii. 10, 11. i. 16-18.
v. 21-23. vi. 1-9. iii. 18-25. iv. 1.
On the undesigned coincidences between this Epistle and the Acts of the Apostles, see Dr. Paley's Hore Paulinæ, Chap. VIII.
IV. The SCOPE of the Epistle to the Colossians is, to show that all hope of man's redemption is founded on Christ our I. Redeemer, in whom alone all complete fulness, perfections, and sufficiency, are centered: to caution the Colossians against the insinuations of judaizing teachers, and also against philosophical speculations and deceits, and human traditions, as inconsistent with Christ and his fulness for our salvation; and to excite the Colossians, by the most persuasive arguments, to a temper and conduct worthy of their sacred character. The Epistle, therefore, consists of two principal parts besides the introduction and conclusion.
I. After a short inscription or introduction (i. 1, 2.) Paul begins with expressing great joy for the favourable character which he had heard of them, and assures them that he daily prayed for their further improvement. (3-14.) He then makes a short digression in order to describe the dignity of Jesus Christ, who, he declares, created all things, whether thrones or dominions,
I. CHRISTIANITY was first planted at Thessalonica by Saint Paul, A. D. 50, who formed a church, composed both of Jews and Gentiles, but the latter were most numerous. (Acts xvii. 2-4.) The unbelieving Jews, however, having stirred up a persecution against him and his company, they were forced to flee to Berea, and thence to Athens (xvii. 5 -15.), from which city he proceeded to Corinth. Being thus prevented from visiting the Thessalonians again as he
Epitre à les Colossiens; Michaeli's Introd. vol. iv. pp. 116-124.; Hug's 1 Boehmer, Isagoge in Epistolam ad Colossenses; Calmet, Preface sui Introd. vol. ii. pp 433-435.; Macknight's Preface; Rosenmuller, Scholia, tom. iv. pp. 134-136. In instituting a collation of these two epistles the student will find a very valuable help in M. Van Bemmelen's Dissertatio Exegetico-Critica, de epistolas Pauli ad Ephesios et Colossenses inter se collatis. 8vo. Lugd. Bat. 1903.