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and his weakness, in his subsequent denial of Christ: for, though Peter followed him afar off to the high-priest's palace, when all the other disciples forsook him and fled, yet he thrice disowned him, each time under circumstances of peculiar aggravation. It does not appear that Peter followed Christ any further; probably remorse and shame prevented him from attending the crucifixion, as we find Saint John did. On the day of Christ's resurrection, after appearing to Mary Magdalen and some other women, the next person to whom he showed himself was Peter. On another occasion (John xxi.) our Lord afforded him an opportunity of thrice professng his love for him, and charged him to feed the flock of Christ with fidelity and tenderness.
After our Saviour's ascension, Peter took an active part in the affairs of the infant church. It was he who proposed the election of a successor to the traitor Judas (Acts i. 1526.), and on the ensuing day of Pentecost he preached Christ so effectually, that three thousand souls were added to the church. (Acts ii. 14-41.) We next find him, in company with John, healing a lame man at the gate of the temple, which was followed by an address to the people, many of whom were convinced and embraced the Gospel. (Acts iii.) He was next imprisoned, brought before the sanhedrin, threatened and dismissed. (iv.) After the death of Ananias (v.), Peter and John preached successively at Samaria (viii.), and Sapphira, whose fraud Peter detected and reprehended and performed various miracles. (ix. x.) During his apostolical travels in Judæa, Samaria, and Galilee, he converted Cornelius the Roman centurion, the first Gentile convert who was admitted into the church without circumcision, or any injunction to comply with the Mosaic observances (x.); and, on his return to Jerusalem, he satisfied the Jewish Christians that God had granted repentance unto life to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews. (xi. 18.) Soon after this, being apprehended by Herod Agrippa, A. D. 44, who designed to put him to death, Peter was miraculously delivered by an angel. (xii.) In the apostolic council held at Jerusalem, A. D. 49, Peter took an active part, declaring his opinion most explicitly, that the yoke of the ceremonial law ought not to be imposed on the Gentiles (Acts xv. 7-11.) From this time Peter is not mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, nor have we any certain information respecting his subsequent labours. It appears, however, that he afterwards preached at Antioch (Gal. ii. 11.); and from his inscribing his first Epistle to the Hebrew Christians dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia Minor, and Bithynia (1 Pet. i. 1, 2.), he is supposed to have preached in those countries. At length he arrived at Rome, in the course of the year 63,2 subsequently to Paul's departure from that city, during the reign of the emperor Nero; and, after preaching the Gospel for some time, he was crucified there with his head downwards. Clement of Alexandria adds, from an ancient tradition current in his time, that Peter's wife suffered martyrdom a short time before him.3
II. The genuineness and canonical authority of the first Epistle of Peter have never been disputed. It appears to be twice referred to by Clement of Rome; it is twelve times distinctly quoted by Polycarp, and is once cited in the Epistle of the churches of Vienna and Lyons. It was received by Theophilus bishop of Antioch, and quoted by Papias, Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian; and Eusebius informs us that it was universally acknowledged to be the production of Saint Peter in the fourth century, since which time its authenticity has never been questioned.
III. Concerning the persons to whom this Epistle was sent, different opinions have prevailed; Beza, Grotius, Cave, Mill, Tillemont, Dr. Hales, Rosenmiller, Hug, and others, suppose that it was addressed to the Jewish Christians who
15-18. 26, 27.
Matt. xxvi. 69-75. Mark xiv. 66-72. Luke xxii. 51–62. John xviii. 2 We have seen (p. 325. supra) that Saint Paul quitted Rome in the early part of A. D. 63, at which time it is evident that Saint Peter had not arrived there; for if these two eminent servants of Christ had met in that city, Peter would have been mentioned by Saint Paul in some of the Epistles, Lardner's Works, 8vo. vol. vi. pp. 509–561.; 4to. vol. iii. pp. 388-414. Scaliger, Salmasius, Frederick Spanheim, and others, have denied that Saint Peter was ever at Rome; but the contrary opinion has been advocated by Cave, Bishop Pearson, Le Clerc, Basnage, and particularly by Dr. Lardner, who has clearly shown that Peter never was bishop of Ronie. The pretended primacy of Peter, on which the Romanists insist so much, has been unanswerably refuted by Dr. Barrow in his Treatise on the Pope's Supremacy, forming vol. i. of the folio edition of his works. Lardner's Works, 8vo. vol. ii. p. 44.; 4to. vol. i. p. 302. Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. pp. 98, 99.; 4to. vol. i. pp. 331, 332. Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. p. 152.; 4to. vol. i.
which he wrote thence, towards of his
Ibid. 8vo vol. vi. pp. 562, 563.; 4to. vol. iii. p. 415.
were scattered through the countries mentioned in the inscription; while Lord Barrington and Dr. Benson think that it was written to proselytes of the gate; and Michaelis is of opinion, that it was directed to the Jews, that is, to those native heathens in Pontus, &c. who were first proselytes to Judaism, and then were converted to Christianity. But Estius, Whitby, Pott, Lardner, Macknight, and Bishop Tomline, think that it was written to Christians in general, whether Jews or Gentiles, residing in the countries above noticed.
In this diversity of opinion, the only rule of determination must be the inscription, together with such other circumstances as may be collected from the apostolical history or the Epistle itself. The inscription runs thus: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. (1 Pet. i. 1.) That the persons here addressed were believing Jews, and not believing Gentiles, we apprehend will appear from the following considerations:
1. We learn from Acts ii. 5. 9. that there were at the feast of Pentecost, waiting at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven, dwellers in Judæa, Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia. Whence it is evident that there were Jews dispersed in those countries.
of the circumcision peculiarly committed to him. (Gal. ii. 8.) It 2. Peter, by agreement among the apostles, had the ministry is, therefore, more probable that he wrote to Jews than to Gen
3. The persons to whom the apostle writes are termed Strangers, scattered, Пpc; which word properly denotes strangers from another country. Such were the Jews, who, through persecution in Judæa, fled into foreign countries; whereas believing Gentiles were rather called Proselytes. (Acts ii. 10.)
4. They are said to be redeemed from their vain conversation received by tradition from their fathers (1 Pet. i. 18.): in which description the apostle plainly refers to the traditions of the Jewish rabbins and elders.
5. The persons to whom Peter writes are styled A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people (1 Pet. ii. 9.), which are the praises of the Jewish people (Exod. xix. 6.), and are in no respect applicable to the Gentiles.
On these grounds we conclude that this Epistle was addressed to those dispersed Hebrew Christians, afflicted in their dispersion, to whom the apostles James and Paul had respectively addressed their Epistles.
IV. It appears from 1 Pet. v. 12, 13. that this Epistle was written from Babylon, and sent to the Jews by "Silvanus, a faithful brother;" but whether Babylon is to be understood here, literally or mystically, as the city of the same name in Mesopotamia or Egypt, or rather Rome, or Jerusalem, has been long and warmly contested by the learned. Bishop Pearson, Mill, and Le Clerc, are of opinion, that the apostle speaks of Babylon in Egypt. Erasmus, Drusius, Beza, Dr Lightfoot, Basnage, Beausobre, Dr. Cave, Wetstein, Drs. Benson and A. Clarke, think that Peter intended Babylon in Assyria; Michaelis, that it was Babylon in Mesopotamia, or rather Seleucia on the Tigris. And Grotius, Drs. Whitby, Lardner, Macknight, and Hales, Bishop Tomline and all the learned of the Romish communion, are of opinion that by Babylon Peter meant, figuratively, Rome, which eity is called Babylon by the apostle John. (Rev. xvii. xviii.)
From a careful examination of the evidence adduced for the literal meaning of the word Babylon, and of the evidence for its figurative or mystical application to Rome, we think that the latter was intended, and for the following reasons :—
quity, which, Dr. Lardner remarks, is of no small weight. 1. This opinion is confirmed by the general testimony of antiEusebius relates, on the authority of Clement of Alexandria and Papias bishop of Jerusalem, that Mark's Gospel was written at the request of Peter's hearers in Rome; and that "Peter makes mention of Mark in his first Epistle, which was written at Rome itself. And that he (Peter) signifies this, calling that city figuratively Babylon, in these words, The church which is at Babylon, elected jointly with you, saluteth you. And so doth Mark my son." This passage of Eusebius is transcribed by Jerome," who adds positively, that "Peter mentions this Mark in his first Epistle, figuratively denoting Rome by the name of Babylon; the church which is at Babylon," &c. Ecumenius, Bede, and other fathers, also understand Rome by Babylon. It is generally thought that Peter and John gave to Rome the name of Babylon,
figuratively to signify that it would resemble Babylon in its idolatry, and in its opposition to and persecution of the church of God; and that, like Babylon, it will be utterly destroyed. But these things the inspired writers did not think fit to say plainly concerning Rome, for a reason which every reader may understand.
2. From the total silence of ecclesiastical history, it is not probable that Peter ever visited Babylon in Chaldæa; and Babylon in Egypt was too small and insignificant to be the subject of consideration.
3. Silvanus or Silas, the bearer, was the faithful brother, or associate of Paul in most of the churches which he had planted. And though he was not at Rome with the apostle when he wrote nis last Epistle to Timothy, he might naturally have come thither soon after; and have been sent by Paul and Peter jointly, to confirm the churches in Asia Minor, &c. which he had assisted in planting. But Silvanus, Paul, and Peter had no connection with Babylon, which lay beyond their district; and, therefore, they were not likely at any time to build upon another's foundation. The Gospel was preached in Persia or Parthia, by the apostle Thaddeus, or Jude, according to Cosmas; and Abulfaragi reckons, that the ancient Syriac version of the New Testament was made in his time, and probably by his authority, for the use of
the Oriental churches.1
4. The Jews, to whom this Epistle was written, were fond of mystical appellations, especially in their captivities: Edom was a frequent title for their Heathen oppressors; and, as Babylon was the principal scene of their first captivity, it was highly probable that Rome, the principal scene of their second, and which so strongly resembled the former in her "abominations, her idolatries, and persecutions of the saints," should be denominated by the same title. And this argument is corroborated by the similar usage of the Apocalypse, where the mystical application is unquestionable. (Rev. xiv. 8. xvi. 19. xviii. 2., &c.) It is highly probable, indeed, that John borrowed it from Peter; or rather that both derived it, by inspiration, from the prophecy of Isaiah. (xxi. 9.)
5. The second Epistle is generally agreed to have been writen shortly before Peter's death; but a journey from Babylon to Rome (where he unquestionably suffered) must have employed a long time, even by the shortest route that could be taken. And Peter must have passed through Pontus, &c. in his way to Rome, and therefore it would have been unnecessary for him to write. Writing from Rome, indeed, the case was different, as he never expected to see them more.
As Peter suffered martyrdom at Rome, A. D. 64 or 65, and we have no evidence that he arrived there before the year 63,
we are warranted in dating this Epistle in A. D. 64.
SECT. 3. contains an exhortation to patience, submission, and to holiness of life, enforced,
i. By considering the example of Christ. (iii. 14-18.) ii. By reminding them how God punished the disobedient in the days of Noah. (19-22.)
iii. By reminding them of the example of Christ, and that by their conversion they became dead to the flesh. (iv. 1—6.)
iv. By showing them the approaching destruction of the Jewish polity. (7-11.) v. By showing them that, under the Gospel, they should consider afflic tion as their portion, and as matter of joy. (12-19.)
SECT. 4. Directions to the ministers of the churches, and the people, how to behave towards each other. (v. 1-11.) The Conclusion. (v. 12—14.)
cellence, in the judgment of the best critics, does not fall VI. As the design of this Epistle is excellent, so its exshort of its design. Erasmus pronounces it to be worthy of the prince of the apostles, and adds that it is sparing in words, but full of sense. That great critic, Joseph Scaliger, calls it majestic; and Osterwald says that the first Epistle of Peter is one of the finest books in the New Testament, that the second is written with great strength and majesty, and that both of them evidently show their divine origin. Every part, indeed, of Peter's writings indicates a mind that felt the power of the doctrines he delivered, and a soul that glowed with the most ardent zeal for the spread of the Gospel. His style expresses the noble vehemence and fervour of his spirit, his perfect knowledge of the Gospel, and his strong assurance of the truth and certainty of its doctrines. Little solicitous about the choice or harmonious disposition of words, his thoughts and his heart were absorbed with the grand truths which he was divinely commissioned to proclaim, and the indispensable obligation of Christians to adorn their profession by a holy life. Hence, in his first Epistle, he writes with such energy and rapidity of style, that we can scarcely perceive the pauses of his discourse, or the distinction of his periods. And in his second Epistle he exposes with holy indignation and vehemence the abandoned principles and practices of those false teachers and false prophets, who in those early times sprang up in the Christian church, and disseminated their pernicious tenets with so much art and cunning. His prophetic description of the general conflagration, and of the end of all terrestrial things (2 Pet. iii. 8-12.), is very awful. We see the planetary heavens, and this our earth, enveloped in the devouring flames: we hear the groans of an expiring world, and the crash of nature tumbling into universal ruin. How solemn and affecting is this practical inference! 2 Pet. iii. 11.) "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness." The meanest soul and lowest imagination cannot think of that time, and the awful description of it which we meet with in this place, and in several other passages of Holy Writ, without the greatest emotion and the deepest impressions.3
V. It appears from the Epistle itself that it was written during a period of general calamity, when the Hebrew Christians were exposed to severe persecutions. The design of this Epistle, therefore, is partly to support them under their afflictions and trials, and also to instruct them how to behave under persecution. It likewise appears from the history of that time, that the Jews were uneasy under the Roman yoke, and that the destruction of their polity was approaching. On this account the Christians are exhorted to honour the emperor (Nero), and the presidents whom he sent into the provinces, and to avoid all grounds of being suspected of sedition or other crimes that would violate the peace and welfare of I. Its genuineness and canonical authority.—II. Date.— society. And, finally, as their character and conduct were liable to be aspersed and misrepresented by their enemies, they are exhorted to lead a holy life, that they might stop the I. SOME doubts were entertained by the primitive churches mouths of their enemies, put their calumniators to shame, respecting the authenticity of this Epistle, which has been and win others over to their religion, by their holy and Chris-received as the genuine production of Peter ever since the
The Epistle may be conveniently divided into four sections, exclusive of the introduction and conclusion. The Introduction. (i. 1, 2.)
SECT. 1. contains an exhortation of the Jewish Christians to persevere steadfastly in the faith with all patience and cheerfulness, and to maintain a holy conversation, notwithstanding all their sufferings and persecutions. This is enforced by the consideration of the peculiar blessings and privileges which were freely bestowed upon them. (i. 3—25. ii. 1—10.) SECT. 2. comprises an exhortation,
i. To a holy conversation in general. (ii. 11, 12.)
ii. To a particular discharge of their several duties, as Dutiful subjects to their sovereign. (13-15.)
Servants to their masters. (16-25.)
Husbands to their wives. (iii. 1—13.)
1 Lardner, 8vo. vol. v. p. 272.; 4to. vol. iii. p. 55. Michaelis, vol. ii. p. 30.
ON THE SECOND GENERAL EPISTLE OF PETER.
III. Scope and synopsis of its contents.
fourth century, except by the Syrian church, in which it is read as an excellent book, though not of canonical authority. We have, however, the most satisfactory evidence of its genuineness and authenticity. Clement of Rome has three allusions to the second chapter, and one to the third chapter of this Epistle; and it is twice referred to by Hermas, once by Justin Martyr, and also by Athenagoras. Although this Epistle does not appear to be cited by any writer of the third
2 Nouv. Test. pp. 276. 281. edit. Neufchatel, 1772. folio.
Test. pp. 79-89. Macknight's Preface to 1 Peter. Benson's History of
Lardner's Works, 8vo. vol. ii. p. 45.; 4to. vol. i. p. 302.
6 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. p. 126.; 4to. vol. i. p. 347.
Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. p. 186.; 4to. vol. i. p. 381.
chapter is different from the rest of Peter's writings, and
century, yet in the fourth and following centuries it was be drawn from this circumstance; for the subject of that acknowledged by Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, the council of Laodicea, Epiphanius, Jerome, Rufinus, Augustine, and all subsequent writers. Eusebius2 places it among the AT, or books whose canonical authority was doubted by some, though mentioned and approved by most of the ancients, but he plainly distinguishes it from such as were confessedly spurious. He also relates, from the tradition of his predecessors, that, though it was not acknowledged as part of the New Testament, yet, because to many it seemed useful, it was diligently read together with the other Scriptures. On this statement of Eusebius, Le Clerc forcibly remarks, that if it had not been Peter's it would not have seemed useful to any man of tolerable prudence, seeing the writer in many places pretends to be Peter himself; for it would be noxious on account of its being a forgery, as well as unpardonable in any man to forge another man's name, or pretend to be the person he is not. After a diligent comparison of the first Epistle with that which is ascribed to Peter as the second, Michaelis pronounces the agreement between them to be such, that, if the second was not written by Peter, as well as the first, the person who forged it not only possessed the power of imitation in a very unusual degree, but understood likewise the design of the first Epistle, with which the ancients do not appear to have been acquainted. Now, if this be true, the supposition that the second Epistle was not written by Peter himself involves a contradiction. Nor is it credible, that a pious impostor of the first or second century should have imitated Peter so successfully as to betray no marks of a forgery; for the spurious productions of those ages, which were sent into the world under the name of the apostles, are for the most part very unhappy imitations, and discover evident marks that they were not written by the persons to whom they were ascribed. Other productions of this kind betray their origin by the poverty of their materials, or by the circumstance, that, instead of containing original thoughts, they are nothing more than a rhapsody of sentiments collected from various parts of the Bible, and gether without plan or order. This charge cannot possibly be laid to the second Epistle of Peter, which is so far from containing materials derived from other parts of the Bible, that the third chapter exhibits the discussion of a totally new subject. Its resemblance to the Epistle of Jude will be hardly urged as an argument against it; for there can be no doubt, that the second Epistle of Peter was, in respect to the Epistle of Jude, the original and not the copy. Lastly, it is extremely difficult, even for a man of the greatest talents, to forge a writing in the name of another, without sometimes inserting what the pretended author either would not or could not have said; and to support the imposture in so complete a manner, as not to militate, in a single instance, either against his character, or against the age in which he lived. Now in the second Epistle of Peter, though it has been a subject of examination full seventeen hundred years, nothing has hitherto been discovered which is unsuitable either to the apostle or to the apostolic age. We have no reason, therefore to believe that the second Epistle of Peter is spurious, especially as it is difficult to comprehend what motive could have induced a Christian, whether orthodox or heretic, to attempt the fabrication of such an Epistle, and then falsely ascribe it to Peter. 5
1. The writer styles himself Symeon Peter (i. 1. Gr.); from which circumstance we conclude that this Epistle was written by the apostle Peter. Should it be objected that the apostle's name was Simon, not Simeon, Dr. Macknight replies, that though his name was commonly written Simon in Greek, yet its Hebrew form was Simeon; and so it is written in the Old Testament history of Jacob's sons, and so Peter is expressly termed in Acts xv. 14. (Gr.) It has further been objected, that in the first Epistle, which is unquestionably genuine, he has styled himself simply Peter, and not Simon Peter. But it is worthy of observation, that Saint Luke has called this apostle Simon Peter, and that Saint John has given him that name not less than seventeen times in his Gospel,-perhaps (Dr. Macknight thinks) to show that he was the author of the Epistle which begins with Symeon Peter, a servant and an apostle, &c. The same eminent critic is further of opinion, that though Peter's surname only is mentioned in the inscription of the first letter, because he was sufficiently known by it, yet he might, for the greater dignity, insert his name complete in the second Epistle, because he intended authoritatively to rebuke the false teachers who had already arisen, or might thereafter arise. Since, therefore, Symeon Peter is the same as Simon Peter, no objection can be raised against the authenticity of this Epistle on account of the name; neither does it afford any countenance to the opinion of Grotius, that this Epistle was written by Simeon bishop of Jerusalem, who succecled James the Lord's brother, an opinion that is not only destitute of all authority from antiquity, but is also inconsistent with the whole tenor of the Epistle itself.
2. There are several incidental allusions to particular circumstances in this Epistle which answer to no other person but Peter. Thus, the writer of it testifies that he must shortly put off his tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus had shown him. (2 Pet. i. 14.) Now Christ foretold or showed this to none of his apostles besides Peter. (John xxi. 19.) Again, the writer of this Epistle was with Christ upon the mount at his transfiguration, beheld his majesty, and heard the voice of the Father, But from heaven, when he was with Christ, on the holy mount. (2 Pet. i. 16-18.) Now there were only three of Christ's apostles permitted to witness this transfiguration (Matt. xvii. 1, 2.), viz. Peter, James, and John. The Epistle in question, therefore, must be written by one of them, and, consequently, must be of apostolical authority; but as it never was ascribed to James or John, nor is there any reason for attributing it to them, it follows that this Epistle is the production of Peter.-Once more the author of it calls this his second Epistle (iii. 1.) and intimates that he wrote both his letters to the same persons, viz. the believing
Various reasons, indeed, have been assigned, why this Epistle was not earlier acknowledged as the writing of Peter. Jerome informs us that the difference of style between this and the former Epistle was in his day the principal cause of its authenticity, being disputed; and the same objection has been adopted by Salmasius and other modern writers. this remarkable difference in style is confined to the second chapter of the second Epistle. No objection, however, can The second Epistle of Peter was first placed among the disputed writings of the New Testament by Origen. (Euseb. Eccl. Hist. lib. vi. c. 25.) It is natural to suppose, that if, from incidental causes, the second Epistle of Peter did not become known so early as the first, some churches, which had for a length of time been accustomed to read only one Epistle of Peter, might hesitate to receive another. Suspicion might also have arisen against the genuineness of this Epistle, from the fact that it was brought from Asia Minor, the abode of the Montanists, who were accused of a disposition to fabricate new writings. (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. lib. vi. c. 20.) More especially may this have been the case, as the passage, 2 Pet. ii. 20., could be urged in vindication of the rigour of the Montanistic discipline: or, the departure of the Christians in Asia Minor from the customary mode of celebrating the Easter solemnities, may have produced in the Eastern and Western Christians an indisposition to receive this book. Schmucker's Biblical Theology, vol. i. p. 122., where various writers are enumerated who have vindicated the genuineness of this Epistle. 2 Hist. Eccl. lib. iii. c. 25. Ibid. lib. iii. c. 3. Clerici, Hist. Eccl. p. 442. note. Michaelis, vol. iv. p. 350.
Such is the opinion of Bishop Sherlock, which has been generally adopted. Bishop Tomline, however, deems this conjecture very improbable, and accounts for the difference of style in the second chapter of this Epistle, by supposing that the apostle's pen was guided by a higher degree of inspiration than when writing in a didactic manner, and that he wrote with the animation and energy of the prophetic style; but he does not think that there is any thing, either in phrase or sentiment, which is inconsistent with the acknowledged writings of Saint Petr. Elements of Christian Theology, vol. i. p. 490.
Hebrews. Compare 1 Pet. i. 1. and 2 Pet. i. 1. with 2 Pet. iii. 1, 2. Consequently, as the authenticity of the first Epistle was never disputed, the second was unquestionably written by the same person, viz. Peter.
3. Whoever wrote this Epistle calls Paul his beloved brother (iii. 15, 16.), commends him, and approves the authority of his Epistles, which none but an apostle could venture to affirm.
4. A holy and apostolical spirit breathes throughout the whole of this Epistle; in which we find predictions of things to come, and admonitions against false teachers and apostasy, together with exhortations to a godly life, and condemnations of sin, delivered with an earnestness and feeling which show the author to have been incapable of imposing a forged writing upon the world and that his sole design in this Epistle was to promote the interests of truth and virtue in the world.
5. Lastly, the style is the same in both Epistles. The sentences in the second Epistle are seldom fluent and well rounded, but they have the same extension as those in the first. There are also repetitions of the same words, and allusions to the same events. Thus the word avaspoon, conversation or behaviour, which is so peculiar to the first Epistle, likewise occurs in the second, though less frequently than in the former. So the deluge, which is not a common subject in the apostolical Epistles, is mentioned in 1 Pet. iii. 20., and also in 2 Pet. ii. 5.; and in both places the circumstance is noted, that eight persons only were saved, though in neither place does the subject require that the number should be particularly specified. Michaelis observes that Peter was not the only apostle who knew how many persons were saved in the ark; but he only, who by habit had acquired a familiarity with the subject, would ascertain the precise number, where his argument did not depend upon it.
The result of all these evidences, both external and internal, 1s, that the second Epistle of Peter is unquestionably the production of that apostle, and claims to be received and studied with the same devout care and attention as the rest of the inspired writings of the New Testament.
II. That Peter was old and near his death, when he wrote this Epistle, is evident from ch. i. 14.; and that it was written soon after the first Epistle, appears from the apology he makes (i. 13. 15.) for writing this second Epistle to the Hebrew Christians. Dr. Lardner thinks it not unlikely that, soon after the apostle had sent away Silvanus with his first letter to the Christians in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia Minor, and Bithynia, some persons came from those countries to Rome (whither there was a frequent and general resort from all parts), who brought him information concerning the state of religion among them. These accounts induced him to write a second time, most probably at the beginning of A. D. 65, in order to establish in the faith the Christians among
whom he had laboured.
III. The scope of this Epistle is to confirm the doctrines and instructions delivered in the former; to establish the Hebrew Christians in the truth and profession of the Gospel; to caution them against false teachers, whose tenets and practices he largely describes; and to warn them to disregard those profane scoffers, who made or should make a mock of Christ's coming to judgment; which having asserted and described, he exhorts them to prepare for that event by a holy and unblameable conversation. The Epistle consists of three
PART I. The Introduction. (i. 1, 2.)
PART II. Having stated the Blessings to which God had called them, the Apostle,
SECT. 1. Exhorts the Christians, who had received these precious gifts, to endeavour to improve in the most substantial graces and virtues. (i. 3-11.) SECT. 2. To this he incites them,
i From the firmness of true teachers. (i. 12-21.)
ii. From the wickedness of false teachers, whose tenets and practices he exposes, and predicts the divine judginents against them. (ii.) SECT. 3. He guards them against scoffers and impostors, who, he foretells, would ridicule their expectation of Christ's coming :
1. By confuting their false assertions. (iii. 1-7.)
1. By showing the reason why that great day was delayed; and describing its circumstances and consequences, adding suitable exhortations and encouragements to diligence and holiness. (iii. 8-14.)
PART III. The Conclusion, in which the Apostle,
SECT. 1. Declares the agreement of his doctrine with that of Saint Paul. (iii. 15, 16.)
See the observations on Saint Peter's style, p. 362. supra. See 1 Pet. i. 15. 18. ii. 12. iii. 1, 2. 10. 2 Pet. ii. 7. iii. 11.
SECT. 2. And repeats the sum of the Epistle. (iii. 17, 18.) On account of the similarity of style and subject between the second chapter of this epistle and that of Jude, Dr. Benson and Michaelis place the latter immediately after the second Epistle of Peter.4
ON THE FIRST GENERAL EPISTLE OF JOHN.
Genuineness and canonical authority.-II. Date.-III. Of the persons to whom this Epistle was written.-IV. Its occasion and scope.-Account of the false teachers whose principles are refuted by the apostle.-V. Synopsis of its contents.-VI. The question concerning the authenticity of the disputed clause in 1 John v. 7, 8. considered.
I. ALTHOUGH no name is prefixed to this book, its authenticity as a genuine production of the apostle John is unquestionable. It was almost universally received as his compo sition in the Eastern and Western churches, and appears to be alluded to by Hermas.5 It is distinctly cited by Polycarp,6 and in the Epistle of the churches of Vienne and Lyons," and is declared to be genuine by Papias, Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria," Tertullian," Origen,12 Cyprian, Eusebius, Athanasius, and all subsequent ecclesiastical writers.13 A still more decisive testimony is the fact that it is found in the Syriac version of the New Testament, executed at the close of the first or very early in the second century, and which contains only those books of the New Testament, respecting whose authenticity no doubts were ever entertained. But, besides this external proof, we have the strongest internal evidence that this Epistle was written by the apostle John, in the very close analogy of its sentiments and expressions to those of his Gospel. There is also a remarkable peculiarity in the style of this apostle, and particularly in this Epistle. His sentences, considered separately, are exceedingly clear and intelligible; but, when we search for their connexion, we frequently meet with greater difficulties than we experience even in the Epistles of Paul. Artless simplicity and benevolence, blended with singular modesty and candour, together with a wonderful sublimity of sentiment, are the characteristics of this Epistle; in which John appears to have delivered his conceptions as they arose in his mind, and in the form of aphorisms, in order that they might produce the greater effect. In his Gospel John does not content himself with simply affirming or denying a thing, but denies its contrary to strengthen his affirmation; and in like manner, to strengthen his denial of a thing, he affirms its contrary.
See John i. 20. iii. 36. v. 24. vi. 22. The same manner of expressing things strongly occurs in this Epistle. See ii. 4. 27. and iv. 2, 3. In his Gospel also, Saint John frequently uses the pronoun or ros, auth, TOUT, this, in order to express things emphatically. See i. 19. iii. 19. vi. 29. 40. 50. and xvii. 3. In the Epistle the same emphatical mode of expression obtains. Compare i. 5. ii. 25. iii. 23. v. 3. 4. 6.
II. With regard to the date of this Epistle, there is a considerable diversity of opinion. Drs. Benson, Hales, and others, place it in the year 68; Bishop Tomline in 69; Lampe, after the first Jewish war, and before the apostle's exile in Patmos; Dr. Lardner, A. D. 80, or even later; Mill and Le Clerc, in A. D. 91 or 92; Beausobre, L'Enfant, and Du Pin, at the end of the first century; and Grotius, Hammond, Whitby, Michaelis, and Macknight, place it before the destruction of Jerusalem, but without specifying the precise year. The most probable of these various opinions is that which assigns an early date to this Epistle, viz, before the
Pritii Introd. ad Lect. Nov. Test. pp. 90-99. Moldenhawer, Introd. ad Libros Biblicos, pp. 352-355. Heidegger, Enchirid. Bibl. pp. 624-628. Benson on the Catholic Epistles, pp. 321-329. Lardner's Works, 8vo. vol. vi. pp. 562-583.; 4to. vol. iii. pp. 414-425. Macknight's Preface to 2 Peter. Michaelis, vol. iv. pp. 346-363. $ Lardner's Works, 8vo. vol. ii. p. 61.; 4to. vol. i. p. 311. Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. p. 99. ; 4to. vol. i. 332. Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. p. 152.; 4to. vol. i. p. 362.
8 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. pp. 108. 109. 113.; 4o. vol. i. pp. 337. 340.
9 Ibid. Svo. vol. ii. p. 168.; 4to. vol. i. p. 370.
10 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. p. 227.; 4to. vol. i. p. 403.
11 Ibid. Svo. vol. ii. p. 275.; 4to. vol. i. p. 429.
12 Ibid. 8vo. vol. ii. p. 481.; 4to. vol. i. p. 540.
13 Ibid. 8vo. vol. vi. p. 581, 585.; 4to. vol. iii. pp. 525, 526.
14 See several instances of this analogy, supra, Vol. I. pp. 51, 52. notes. 15 Lampe, Commentarius in Evangelium Johannis, tom. i. Prolegomena, p. 101. Macknight's Preface to 1 John, sect. 2. Langii, Hermeneutica Sacra, pars ii. De Interpretatione Epistolarum Johannis, pp. 167-175.
destruction of Jerusalem and the subversion of the Jewish | Parthians, because the apostle is reported to have preached polity. For, the Gospel to that people; but this opinion is entirely unsup1. In the first place, The expression in ii. 18., It is the last ported by the evidence of antiquity. Dr. Benson thinks that hour, is more applicable to the last hour or time of the duration the Epistle was addressed to the Jewish Christians in Judæa of the Jewish state than to any later period, especially as the and Galilee. But the most probable opinion is that of apostle adds-And as ye have heard that Antichrist is coming, Ecumenius, Lampe, Dupin, Lardner, Michaelis, Macknight, even so now there have been many Antichrists; whence we Bishop Tomline, and others, who think it was written for the know that it is the last hour: in which passage the apostle For, 1. It has always been called a catholic or general Epistle; use of Christians of every denomination and of every country. evidently alludes to our Lord's prediction concerning the springing up of false Christs, false teachers, and false prophets, before 2. It does not contain any words of limitation that can the destruction of Jerusalem. (Matt. xxiv. 5-25.) Some critics, John ii. 15. would be unnecessary to believers in Judæa, A. D. restrict it to a particular people;-3. The admonition in 1 however, contend that the "last time" may allude, not to the 68, after the war had commenced with the Romans; it is destruction of that city, but to the close of the apostolic age. rather suited to people in easy circumstances, and who were But Michaelis confirms the propriety of this argument for the in danger of being ensnared by the allurements of prosperity; early date of this Epistle, by observing that John's Gospel was 4. Lastly, the concluding exhortation to believers to keep opposed to heretics, who maintained the same opinions as are themselves from idols" is in no respect suitable to believers opposed in this Epistle; which tenets he has confuted by arguin Judæa, but is much more likely to be addressed to Chrisment in his Gospel, whereas in the Epistle he expresses only tians living in other parts of the world, where idolatry prehis disapprobation. Michaelis, therefore, concludes, that the vailed. Epistle was written before the Gospel; because if Saint John had already given a complete confutation when he wrote this Epistle, he would have thought it unnecessary to have again declared the falsehood of such opinions.
2. Secondly, the expression (ii. 13, 14.), Ye have known him from the beginning, applies better to the disciples, immediately before Jerusalem was destroyed, than to the few who might have been alive at the late date which some critics assign to this Epistle. In the verses just cited, the fathers or elders are twice distinguished from the "young men" and the "children," by this circumstance, that they had seen him during his ministry, or after his resurrection. Thirty-five years after our Lord's resurrection and ascension, when Jerusalem was destroyed, many such persons might have been alive; whereas in 98, or even in 92, there could not have been many persons alive of that description. To these two arguments for the early date of John's first Epistle, Dr. Hales has added the three following, which have not been noticed by any other biblical critic:
1. As the other apostles, James, Jude, Paul, and Peter, had written Catholic Epistles to the Hebrew Christians especially, it is likely, that one of the principal "pillars of the church," the greatest surety of the mother-church, the most highly gifted and illuminated of all the apostles of the circumcision, and the beloved disciple, would not be deficient likewise in this labour of love..
2. Nothing could tend so strongly to establish the faith of the early Jewish converts as the remarkable circumstances of our Lord's crucifixion, exhibiting the accomplishment of the ancient types and prophecies of the Old Testament respecting Christ's passion, or sufferings in the flesh. These John alone could record, as he was the only eye-witness of that last solemn scene among the apostles. To these, therefore, he alludes in the exordium as well as to the circumstances of our Lord's appearances after the resurrection; and to these he again recalls their attention in that remarkable reference to "the water" at his baptism, to" the water and blood" at his passion, and to the dismissal of "his spirit" when he commended it to his Father, and expired. (v. 5-9.) 3. The parallel testimony in the Gospel (John xix. 35-37.) bears witness also to the priority of the Epistle, in the expression, "He that saw hath testified" (spтupe), intimating that he had delivered this testimony to the world already; for if now, for the first time, it should rather be expressed by the present tense, rupa, "testifieth." And this is strongly confirmed by the apostle's same expression, after giving his evidence in the Epistle, "this is the testimony of God, which he hath testified (PT) concerning his Son" (ver. 9.), referring to the past transaction, as fulfilling prophecy.'
We conclude, therefore, that Saint John wrote his first Epistle in 68, or at the latest in 69; though it is impossible to ascertain from what place he sent it, whether from Patmos, as Grotius supposes, or from some city in Judæa, as Dr. Macknight supposes, or from Ephesus, as Irenæus and Eusebius relate from ancient tradition, which has been generally received.
III. It is still more difficult to decide concerning the persons to whom this Epistle was written. Augustine, Cassiodorus, and the venerable Bede, called it the Epistle of John to the 1 Lardner's Works, 8vo. vol. vi. pp. 587-589.; 4to. vol. iii. pp. 426-428. Lampe, toin. i. p. 106. Pritius, p. 106. Benson's Paraphrase on the Catholic Fpistles, pp. 505-510. Macknight's Preface to 1 John, sect. 4. Pritii, Introd. in Nov. Test. pp. 99-108. Hales's Sacred Chronology, vol. iii. p. 452. second edition.
IV. This book is usually entitled The General Epistle of St. John. "But in the composition of it, narrowly inspected, nothing is to be found in the epistolary form. It is not inscribed either to any individual, like Paul's to Timothy and Titus, or the second of the two which follow it, "To the well-beloved Gaius'-nor to any particular church, like Paul's to the churches of Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, and others-nor to the faithful of any particular region, like Peter's first Epistle To the strangers scattered throughou Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia'-nor to any principal branch of the Christian church, like Paul's to the Hebrews-nor to the Christian church in general, like the second of Peter, To them that had obtained like precious faith with him,' and like Jude's, To them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called." It bears no such inscription: it begins without salutation, and ends without benediction. It is true, the writer sometimes speaks, but without naming himself, in the in the second. But this colloquial style is very common in first person and addresses his reader without naming him, all writings of a plain familiar cast: instances of it occur in John's Gospel; and it is by no means a distinguishing character of epistolary composition. It should seem that this book hath for no other reason acquired the title of an epistle, but that in the first formation of the canon of the New Testament it was put into the same volume with the didactic writings of the apostles, which, with this single exception, are all in the epistolary form. It is, indeed, a didactic discourse upon the principles of Christianity, both in doctrine and practice: and whether we consider the sublimity of its opening with the fundamental topics of God's perfections, man's depravity, and Christ's propitiation-the perspicuity with which it propounds the deepest mysteries of our holy faith, and the evidence of the proof which it brings to confirm them; whether we consider the sanctity of its precepts, and the energy of argument with which they are persuaded and enforced-the dignified simplicity of language in which both doctrine and precept are delivered; whether we regard the importance of the matter, the propriety of the style, or the general spirit of ardent piety and warm benevolence, united with a fervid zeal, which breathes throughout the whole composition-we shall find it in every respect worthy of the holy author to whom the constant tra dition of the church ascribes it, the disciple whom Jesus loved." "2
The design of this treatise is,
wrote against erroneous and licentious tenets, principles, and
Secondly, To stir up all who profess to know God, to have
2 Bishop Horsley's Sermons, pp. 144, 145. 2d edit.
The late Dr. Randolph has admirably illustrated those parts of the present Epistle which assert the Deity of Christ, in his Prælectio xiii. vol ii. pp. 512-523. of his View of our Saviour's Ministry.
For an ample account of the tenets of the Cerinthians, see p. 316 of the present volume.