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who had been a persecutor, to the Christian faith and minis terial office; and observes, that his favour was extended to him, though so unworthy, as an encouragement to all that should believe in every future age. (12-20.)
SECT. 2. Paul then proceeds to give Timothy particular instructions,
5 i. Concerning the manner in which divine worship was to be performed
in the Ephesian church. (ii.)
§ ii. Concerning the qualifications of the persons whom he was to ordain bishops and deacons of that church. (iii.) $ iii. After foretelling the great corruptions which were to prevail in the church in future times (iv. 1-5.), the apostle instructs Timothy, 1. How to support the sacred character. (6-16.)
2. How to admonish aged men and women (v. 1, 2.), and in what manner he should treat widows (3-16.), elders (17-19), and offenders.
(20, 21.) Annexed are some instructions to Timothy himself. (22-24.) 3. Concerning the duties of slaves. (vi. 1, 2.)
SECT. 3. condemns trifling controversies and pernicious disputes, censures the excessive love of money, and charges the rich to be rich in good works. (vi. 3—19.)
PART III. The Conclusion. (20, 21.)
V. Although the errors of the judaizing teachers at Ephesus, which gave rise to Saint Paul's Epistles to Timothy, have long disappeared, yet "the Epistles themselves are still of great use, as they serve to show the impiety of the principles from which these errors proceeded. For the same principles are apt in every age to produce errors and vices, which, though different in name from those which prevailed in Ephesus in the apostle's days, are precisely of the same kind, and equally pernicious. These Epistles are likewise of great use in the church, as they exhibit to Christian bishops and deacons, in every age, the most perfect idea of the duties of their function; teach the manner in which these duties should be performed; describe the qualifications necessary in those who aspire to such holy and honourable offices, and explain the ends for which these offices were originally instituted, and are still continued in the church.
The very same things, indeed, the apostle, about the same time, wrote to Titus in Crete; but more briefly, because he was an older and more experienced minister than Timothy. Nevertheless the repetition of these precepts and charges, is not without its use to the church still, as it maketh us more deeply sensible of their great importance: not to mention, that in the Epistle to Titus, there are things peculiar to itself, which enhance its value. In short, the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, taken together, containing a fall account of the qualifications and duties of the ministers of the Gospel, may be considered as a complete body of divinely-inspired ecclesiastical canons, to be observed by the Christian clergy of all communions, to the end of the world. "These Epistles, therefore, ought to be read frequently, and with the greatest attention, by those in every age and country, who hold sacred offices, or who have it in view to obtain them: not only that they may regulate their conduct according to the directions contained in them, but that, by meditating seriously on the solemn charges delivered to all the ministers of the Gospel, in the persons of Timothy and Titus, their minds may be strongly impressed with a sense of the importance of their function, and of the obligation which lieth on them to be faithful in discharging every duty belonging to it.
"It is of importance also to observe, that, in these Epistles, there are some explications of the Christian doctrines, and some displays of Saint Paul's views and expectations as an apostle of Christ, which merit our attention. For if he had been, like many of the Greek philosophers, a hypocrite who held a double doctrine, one for the vulgar, and another
In using this expression-Great is the mystery of godliness (iii. 16.), the apostle is generally supposed to allude to the heathen mysteries. As those mysteries have always a reference to some deity, this circumstance greatly favours-not to say, confirms-the common reading of this text, which has been so much controverted: for, if no mention had been made in this case of a God, such an omission would have maimed the apostle's description in a most essential point, and obscured the beauty of his fine allusion. (Brekell's Discourses, p. 424. note.) On the much litigated question respecting the reading of Osos in 1 Tim. iii. 16. the reader will find a perspicuous statement of the evidence in Mr. Holden's Scripture Testimonies to the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, pp. 181-188. There is an elaborate essay on this passage in the Christian Observer for 1809, vol. i. pp. 271-277. See also Dr. Berriman's Critical Dissertation on 1 Tim. iii. 16. 8vo. London, 1741. Velthusen's Observations on various Subjects, pp. 49-104. 8vo. London, 1773. Dr. Hales's Treatise on Faith in the Holy Trinity, vol. ii. pp. 67-104. and Mr. Nolan's Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate, pp. 274-276. But the fullest view of the evidence, both external and internal, will be found in the Rev. Dr. Henderson's Great Mystery of Godliness incontrovertible (London, 1830), who has DEMONSTRATED THE GENUINENESS OF THE READING sos, from the united and indisputable testimonies of manuscripts, ancient versions, quotations in the writings of the fathers, and the best printed editions of the Greek Testament, both early and recent, as well as from internal evidence. 2 X
| for the learned; and if his secret views and expectations had been different from those which he publicly professed to the world, he would have given, without all doubt, some in sinuation thereof in letters written to such intimate friends. Yet, throughout the whole of these Epistles, no discovery of that kind is made. The doctrine contained in them is the same with that taught in the Epistles designed for the inspection and direction of the church in general: and the views and hopes which he expresses are the same with those which he uniformly taught mankind to entertain. What stronger proofs can we desire of the apostle's sincerity and faithfulness than these ?"2
On the undesigned coincidences between this Epistle and the Acts of the Apostles, see Dr. Paley's Hora Paulina, Chap. XI.
ON THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY.
I. Date.-II. Of the place where Timothy was, when Paul wrote this Epistle to him.-III. Its scope.-IV. Synopsis of its contents.-V. Observations on this Epistle.
I. THAT Paul was a prisoner when he wrote the second Epistle to Timothy, is evident from i. 8. 12. 16. and ii. 9.; and that his imprisonment was in Rome appears from i. 17., and is universally admitted. But, whether he wrote it during his first imprisonment, recorded in Acts xxviii., or during a second imprisonment there (which was the uniform tradition of the primitive church), is a point that has been much disputed. The former opinion is advocated by Drs. Hammond, Lightfoot, Lardner, and Hug; and the latter, by Drs. Benson, Macknight, and Paley, Bishop Tomline, Michaelis, Rosenmiller, and others. That the last-mentioned opinion is most correct, we think will appear from the following considerations:
1. A collation of the Epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians,
Philippians, and Philemon (which are known to have been written during Saint Paul's first imprisonment), with the second Epistle to Timothy, will show that this Epistle was not written during the time when those Epistles were written. In the former Epistles, the author confidently looked forward to his liberation from confinement, and his speedy departure from Rome. He tells the Philippians (ii. 24.), “I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly." Philemon he bids to prepare for him a lodging; "for I trust," says he, "that through your prayers I shall be given unto you." (ver. 22.) In the Epistle before us he holds a language extremely different: "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day" (iv. 6-8.)
Again, when the former Epistles were written from Rome, Timothy was with Paul; and he is joined with him in writing to the Colossians, the Philippians, and to Philemon. The present Epistle implies that he was absent. Further, in the former Epistles, Demas was with Paul at Rome: "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you." In the Epistle now before us: "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is gone to Thessalonica.' Once more: in the former Epistle, Mark was with Paul, and joins in saluting the Colossians. In the present Epistle, Timothy is ordered to bring him with him, "for he is profitable to me for the ministry." (iv. 11.)
2. The circumstances of Paul's imprisonment, as referred to in this Epistle, are widely different from the imprisonment related in Acts xxviii. 30, 31. Then he was permitted to dwell alone in his own hired house, and receive all who came to him, and publicly to preach the Gospel, being guarded only by a single soldier. But it appears from 2 Tim. i. 16-18., that the apostle was in close confinement, so that Onesiphorus, on his coming to Rome, had considerable difficulty in finding him out. And that crimes were now laid to his charge very different from those formerly alleged against him, appears from ii. 9.; where he says that he suffers evil, even unto bonds, as a malefactor; plainly implying that he was not only abridged of all liberty, but also that he was bound, hands and feet, in a close dungeon. Dr. Macknight thinks this was probably under the pretence that he was one of those Christians whom Nero accused of having set Rome on fire. Hence the word malefactor (xxxcupyos), which in this passage 2 Dr. Macknight's Pref. to 1 Tim. sect. iv.
may mean that the apostle was treated as one of the worst of criminals.
3. The situation of Paul, when he wrote this Epistle, was extremely dangerous. This appears from 2 Tim. iv. 6, 7, 8. and from verse 16. where, at his first answer, all men forsook him. Further, (verse 17.) The Lord delivered him from the mouth of the lion, or the cruelty of Nero. And in verse 18. he hopes the Lord will deliver him from every evil work, by preserving him unto his heavenly kingdom. This was totally different from the gentle treatment recorded in Acts xxviii., and shows that this epistle was written at a later period than the two years' imprisonment mentioned by Luke.
had befallen him during his second imprisonment at Rome, and to request him to come to him before the ensuing winter. But, being uncertain whether he should live so long, he gave him in this letter a variety of advices, charges, and encouragements, for the faithful discharge of his ministerial functions, with the solemnity and affection of a dying parent; in order that, if he should be put to death before Timothy's arrival, the loss might in some measure be compensated to him by the instructions contained in this admirable Epistle. With this view, after expressing his affectionate concern for him, he exhorts him to stir up the gift which had been conferred upon him (2 Tim. i. 2-5.); not to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor of Paul's sufferings (6-16.); to hold fast the form of sound words, and to guard inviolable that good deposit of Gospel doctrine (i. 13, 14.), which he was to commit to faithful men who should be able to teach others (ii. 1, 2.); to animate him to endure, with fortitude, persecutions for the sake of the Gospel (ii. 3-13.); to suppress and avoid logomachies (14. 23.); to approve himself pre-him of the perils of the last days, in consequence of wicked a faithful minister of the word (15-22.); and to forewarn hypocritical seducers and enemies of the truth, who even then were beginning to rise in the church. These Saint Paul admonishes Timothy to flee, giving him various cautions against them. (iii.)
4. It appears from 2 Tim. iv. 13. 20. that when the apostle wrote, he had lately been at Troas, Miletus, and Corinth. This was a different route from that described in the Acts. Also in 2 Tim. iv. 13. he desires Timothy to bring with him a trunk and some books which he had left at Troas. But in his journey to Italy in Acts xxvii. he did not come near Troas. It is true he visited that place on his way to Jerusalem. (Acts xx. 5-7.) But as this visit to Troas happened in the year 57, and the sent Epistle was not written before the year 65, these articles were not then left there; for he would hardly have delayed sending for them for seven or eight years. He would rather have sent for them to Cæsarea, where he was in prison two years; or more early on his first coming to Rome.
5. When he wrote this Epistle, he had left Trophimus sick at Miletus. (iv. 20.) But this could not have happened on the journey to Jerusalem, because Trophimus was with Saint Paul at Jerusalem (Acts xxi. 29.), and in his voyage from Cæsarea Italy he did not touch at Miletus. It is obvious, contrary to Dr. Lardner's hypothesis, that the north wind would not suffer them to proceed further north from, Cnidus along the coast of Asia. (Acts xxvii. 7.)
6. Paul says (2 Tim. iv. 20.) that Erastus stayed behind at Corinth. The apostle must therefore have passed through Corinth on that journey to Rome, after which he wrote this Epistle. But from Cæsarea to Italy, in Acts xxviii. he did not pass through Corinth. Dr. Lardner's two objections to this argument are not satisfactory. For he says that Erastus stayed behind at Corinth when Saint Paul left that city to go to Jerusalem, though Timothy, who was then with Saint Paul, must have known that circumstance, but Saint Paul only wished to remind him of it,-or he mentions his stay, because he was sent by Paul from Ephesus into Macedonia (Acts xix. 22.); and when Paul, going there also, returned to Asia Minor, he did not return with him, not being mentioned in Acts xx. 4.
The result of the preceding observations is, that this Epistle was written by Paul at Rome, and during an imprisonment different from that recorded in Acts xxviii. Paul, we have, seen, was released from his confinement A. D. 63, and, after visiting several churches, returned to Rome early in 65; where, after being confined rather more than a year, it is generally agreed that he suffered martyrdom A.D. 66. Now, as the apostle requests Timothy to come to him before winter (2 Tim. iv. 21.), it is probable that this Epistle was written in the month of July or August A. D. 65.2
II. It is generally supposed that Timothy was at Ephesus when Paul wrote his second Epistle to him. This opinion is advocated by Drs. Lardner, Benson, and Macknight, but is opposed by Michaelis; who has shown that Timothy was most probably somewhere in Asia Minor when Paul sent this letter to him, because the apostle, towards the close of the first chapter, mentions several persons who dwelt in that region, and also because (2 Tim. iv. 13.) he requests Timothy to bring with him the cloak, books, and parchments, which he had left behind him at Troas; and because Troas does not lie in the route from Ephesus to Rome, to which city Timothy was desired to "make haste to come to him before winter." (iv. 21.) Michaelis concludes, therefore, that Paul, not knowing exactly where Timothy was, wrote to him this Epistle, which he intrusted to a safe person (whom Dr. Benson supposes to have been Tychicus) that was travelling into Asia Minor, with an order to deliver it to him wherever he might find him.3
III. The immediate design of Paul in writing this Epistle to Timothy, was to apprize him of the circumstances that
IV. The Epistle therefore consists of three parts; viz. PART 1. The Inscription. (i. 1-5.) PART II. An Exhortation to Timothy.
SECT. 1. To diligence, patience, and firmness in keeping the form of sound doctrine, in which is introduced an affecting prayer in behalf of Onesiphorus. (i. 2—18.)
SECT. 2. To fortitude under afflictions and persecutions, to deliver the uncorrupted doctrine of the Gospel to others, and to purity of life. (ii.)
SECT. 3. To beware of false teachers in the last times (whose practices are described), to be constant in his profession of the Gospel, and to be diligent in his ministerial labours (iii. iv. 1—8.)
PART III. The Conclusion, containing the Apostle's Request to Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, together with various Salutations for the Brethren in Asia Minor. (iv. 922.)
V. As this Epistle was written to Saint Paul's most intimate friend, under the miseries of a jail, and the near prospect of death, and was not designed for the use of others, it may serve to exhibit the temper and character of the apostle, and to convince us that he was no deceiver, but sincerely believed the doctrines which he preached. "This excellent writing, therefore, will be read by the disciples of Christ, to the end of the world, with the highest satisfaction. And the impression which it must have on their minds, will often be recollected by them with the greatest effect, for the confirmation of their faith in the Gospel, and their consolation under all the evils which their adherence to the Gospel may bring upon them."
"Imagine," says Dr. Benson, "a pious father, under sentence of death for his piety and benevolence to mankind, writing to a dutiful and affectionate son, that he might see and embrace him again before he left the world; particularly that he might leave with him his dying commands, and charge him to live and suffer as he had done :-and you will have the frame of the apostle's mind, during the writing of the whole Epistle."
On the undesigned coincidences between this Epistle and the Acts of the Apostles, see Dr. Paley's Hore Paulinæ, Chap. XII.
ON THE EPISTLE TO TITus.
Account of Titus.-II. Christianity, when planted in Crete. -III. Date.-IV. Scope and analysis of this Epistle.-V. Observations on it.
I. TITUS was a Greek (Dr. Benson thinks he was a native of Antioch in Syria), and one of Paul's early converts, who attended him and Barnabas to the first council at Jerusalem, A. D. 49, and afterwards on his ensuing circuit. (Tit. i. 4.
*Preface to 2 Tim. p. 517. The topics above noticed are ably treated at length by Dr. Macknight in his preface to 2 Tim. sect. 3,
Gal. ii. 1-3. Acts xv. 2.) Some years after this we find that Paul sent him to Corinth (2 Cor. xii. 18.), to investigate and report to him the state of the church in that city, and particularly to report what effect had been produced by his first Epistle to the Corinthians. The intelligence brought to the apostle by Titus afforded him the highest satisfaction, as it far exceeded all his expectations. (vii. 6-13. And as Titus had expressed a particular regard for the Corinthians, the apostle thought proper to send him back again, with some others, to hasten the collection for the poor brethren in Judæa. (viii. 6.) After this we meet with no further notice of Titus; except that he is mentioned in this Epistle as having been with Paul in Crete (Tit. i. 5.), and in 2 Tim. iv. 10. (shortly before that apostle's martyrdom) as being in Dalmatia. How highly he was esteemed by the great apostle of the Gentiles, is evident from the affectionate manner in which he has spoken of him to the Corinthians. Whether Titus ever quitted Crete we know not: neither have we any certain information concerning the time, place, or manner of his death; but, according to ancient ecclesiastical tradition, he lived to the age of ninety-four years, and died and was buried in that island.
The genuineness and authenticity of the Epistle to Titus were never questioned."
IV. Titus having been left in Crete to settle the churches in the several cities of that island according to the apostolical plan, Paul wrote this Epistle to him, that he might discharge his ministry among the Cretans with the greater success, and to give him particular instructions concerning his behaviour towards the judaizing teachers, who endeavoured to pervert the faith and disturb the peace of the Christian church. The Epistle, therefore, consists of three parts. PART I. The Inscription. (i. 1-4.) PART II. Instructions to Titus,
SECT. 1. Concerning the ordination of elders, that is, of bishops and deacons, whose qualifications are enumerated. (5-9.) Further, to show Titus how cautious he ought to be in selecting men for the sacred office, Paul reminds him of the acts of the judaizing teachers. (10-16.)
SECT. 2. That he should accommodate his exhortations to the respective ages, sexes, and circumstances of those whom he was commissioned to instruct; and, to give the greater weight to his instructions, he admonishes him to be an example of what he taught. (ii.)
SECT. 3. That he should inculcate obedience to the civil magistrate, in opposition to the Jews and judaizing teachers, who, being averse from all civil governors, except such as were of their own nation, were apt to imbue Gentile Christians with a like seditious spirit, as if it were an indignity for the people of God to obey an idolatrous magistrate; and also that he should enforce gentleness to all men. (iii. 1-7.) SECT. 4. That he should enforce good works, avoid foolish questions, and shun heretics. (iii. 8-11.)
II. We have no certain information when or by whom Christianity was first planted in Crete. As some Cretans were present at the first effusion of the Holy Spirit at Jerusalem (Acts ii. 11.), Bishop Tomline things it not improbable, that, on their return home, they might be the means of introducing the Gospel among their countrymen.2 But Michaelis, Dr. Hales, and many other critics are of opinion that Christianity was first planted there by Paul, during the year and a half that he spent at Corinth, between the latter part of A. D. 51, and the former part of A. D. 53. It appears from 2 Cor. xii. 14. and xiii. 1. that the apostle did make an excursion during this interval, and returned to Corinth. In PART III. An Invitation to Titus, to come to the Apostle at Nithis excursion it is supposed that he made a voyage to Crete, copolis, together with various Directions. (iii. 12-15.) in order to preach the Gospel there, and took Titus with him as an assistant, whom he left behind to regulate the concerns V. From a comparison of the Epistle of Titus with the of that church. (Tit. i. 5.) Josephus informs us that there two Epistles to Timothy, Dr. Macknight remarks, we learn were many Jews in this island at the time Paul wrote this that the judaizing teachers were every where indefatigable in Epistle to Titus; and the apostle seems to have considered propagating their erroneous doctrine concerning the necessity them a more dangerous people than the Cretans themselves, of obedience to the law of Moses, as the only means of obwho were formerly notorious for piracy, luxury, debauchery, taining salvation; that in the most distant countries they and especially for lying. So infamous were they for their uniformly taught the same doctrine, for the purpose of renderhabitual practice of falsehood, that age, to act like a Cre-ing the practice of sin consistent with the hope of salvation; tan, was a proverbial term for telling a lie. With these vices and that in order to draw disciples after them, they enthey were charged by Epimenides, one of their own poets; couraged them in sin by the vicious practices which they and Paul has quoted him as expressing their true character. themselves followed, in the persuasion that they would be (Tit. i. 12.) pardoned by the efficacy of the Levitical sacrifices. That eminent critic thinks it probable, from the apostle's commanding Titus in Crete, and Timothy in Ephesus, to oppose those errors, that the judaizing teachers were more numerous and successful in Ephesus and Crete than in other places. As, however, Titus was a Gentile convert, whose interest it was to maintain the freedom of the Gentiles from the law of Moses, and also a teacher of long standing in the faith, Paul was not so full in his directions and exhortations to him, as to Timothy neither did he recommend to him meekness, lenity, and patience in teaching, as he did to Timothy, but rather sharpness. (Tit. i. 13. fi. 15.), Dr. Macknight accounts for this difference in the apostle's letters to those two evangelists, by supposing that Titus was a person of a soft and mild temper; whereas Timothy, being a young man, might have been of a more ardent spirit that stood in need
III. No date is so controverted as that of the Epistle to Titus. Michaelis, who thinks it was written soon after his supposed visit to Crete, is of opinion, that, in the chronological arrangement of Paul's epistles, it should be placed between the second Epistle to the Thessalonians (A. D. 52) and the first Epistle to the Corinthians (A. D. 57). Hug places it between the two Epistles to the Corinthians; Dr. Hales dates this Epistle in A. D. 52; Dr. Lardner in 56; Lord Barrington in 57; Dr. Benson and Bishop Tomline in 64; and Bishop Pearson, Drs. Whitby and Paley, and the Bible chronology in A. D. 65. The subscription states this Epistle to have been written from Nicopolis of Macedonia, probably because Saint Paul desired to meet him at a city called Nicopolis, but which could not be the place intended by the author of the subscription; for the Nicopolis referred to by him was situated on the river Nessus in Thrace, and was not built till after this period by the emperor Trajan. As Luke is totally silent concerning Saint Paul's preaching at Crete, though he has noticed that he touched at the Fair Havens and Lasea in his first voyage to Rome, it is most probable that this Epistle was written after his liberation from his first imprisonment, A. D. 64. And this opinion is strengthened by the verbal harmony subsisting between the first Epistle to Timothy and the letter to Titus; which cannot be naturally accounted for, but by supposing that they were both written about the same time, and while the same ideas and phrases were present to the writer's mind. Among other instances that might be adduced, compare 1 Tim. i. 1–3. with Tit. i. 4, 5.; 1 Tim. i. 5. with Tit. i. 14.; 1 Tim. iv. 12. with Tit. ii. 7. 15., and 1 Tim. iii. 2-4. with Tit. i. 6-8.4
1 See particularly 2 Cor. ii. 13. vii. 6. 7. 13-15. viii. 16-23. and xi. 18. 2 Elements of Christian Theology, vol. i. p. 446.
a Ant. Jud. lib. xvii. c. 12. § 1. De Bell. Jud. lib. ii. c. 7. § 1., &c.
Calmet, Preface sur l'Epitre de S. Paul à Tite; Dr. Benson's Preface
to his Paraphrase and Commentary on this Epistle; Lardner's Works, 8vo. vol. vi. pp. 320-321.; 4to. vol. iii. pp. 294-296.; Michaelis's Introd. vol. iv. pp. 2941.; Hug's Introd. vol. ii. pp. 354-360. Dr. Macknight's Preface to Titus.
of some restraint.6
ON THE EPISTLE TO PHILEMON.
Account of Philemon.-II. Date.-III. Genuineness and authenticity.-IV. Occasion and scope of this EpistleV. Observations on it.
I. PHILEMON was an inhabitant of Colossæ, as appears from Paul's mentioning Onesimus in his Epistle to the Colossians (iv. 9.) as one of them, and also from his saluting Archippus in this Epistle (ver. 2.), who appears from Cof.
It is cited or alluded to by all the fathers who have quoted the two
iv. 17. to have been a pastor of that church. Philemon | from their own masters without their master's consent. (See seems to have been a person of great worth as a man, and of some note as a citizen in his own country: for his family was so numerous that it made a church by itself, or at least a considerable part of the church at Colossæ. (ver. 2.) He was likewise so opulent, that he was able by the communication of his faith, that is, by his beneficence, to refresh the bowels of the saints. (6,7.) According to Grotius, Philemon was an elder of Ephesus; Beausobre and Dr. Doddridge suppose him to have been one of the ministers of the Colossian church and from Paul's requesting him (22.) to provide a lodging for him at Colossæ, Michaelis thinks that he was a deacon of that church. These opinions appear to have been founded on the inscription of this Epistle, where Paul calls him a fellow-labourer. But this appellation, Drs. Whitby, Lardner, and Macknight have remarked, is of ambiguous signification; being given not only to those who were employed in preaching the Gospel, but also to such pious individuals, of either sex, as assisted the apostles in any manner.1 Philemon was, most probably, a converted Gentile, and from the nineteenth verse of this Epistle, some have supposed that he was converted under the ministry of Paul; but, from the apostle's saying in the fifth verse that he had heard of Philemon's faith in Christ (which was his usual phrase when writing to Christians whom he had never seen),2 Dr. Benson is of opinion that, during Paul's long stay at Ephesus, some of the Colossians had gone thither, and heard him preach the Christian doctrine (Acts xix. 10. xx. 31.); or that the apostle had sent some of his assistants who had planted the Gospel at Colossæ. If Saint Paul had not come into those parts of Asia Minor, it is highly probable that Philemon would never have become a Christian; the apostle might therefore well say, that Philemon owed unto him himself, or his own soul.
ver. 13, 14.) 4. We should love and do good unto all men. We should not contemn persons of low estate, nor disdain to help the meanest slave when it is in our power. The aposLas here set us an example of benevolence, condescension, und Christian charity, which it well becomes us to follow. Htook pains with and converted a slave, and in a most affection: te and earnest manner interceded with his master for luis pardon. 5. We should not utterly despair of those who are wicked, but should use our best endeavours to reclaim them. Though Onesimus had robbed his master and run away from him, the apostle attempted his conversion among others, and succeeded therein. 6. Restitution is due where an injury has been done, unless the injured party freely forgive: accordingly, the apostle Paul gives a promise, under his own hand, for Onesimus's making restitution as a matter of justice, if Philemon insisted upon it. 7. We should be grateful to our benefactors. This Saint Paul touches upon very gently (ver. 19.), where he intimates to Philemon that he owed unto him himself also: and therefore, in point of gratitude, he was obliged to grant his request. 8. We should forgive the penitent, and be heartily reconciled to them. 9. The apostle's example teaches us to do all we can to make up quarrels and differences, and reconcile those who are at variance. 10. A wise man chooses sometimes to address in a soft and obliging manner, even in cases where there is authority to command. 11. The bishops and pastors of the Christian church, and all teachers of religion, have here the most glorious example set before them, to induce them to have a most tender regard to the souls of men of all ranks and conditions; and to endeavour to convert a slave, as well as the rich and great and honourable of the earth. He who disdained not to teach a slave, a fugitive and a thief, but preached the doctrine of salvation to him, and took pains with him, till he had restored him to his master, an honest worthy man ;-how disinterested must he have been! To whom would he not condescend? or whose salvation and re-happiness would he not endeavour to promote? Would to God there was the same spirit in all the teachers of Christianity, at all times and in all places! 12. Here is a most glorious proof of the good effects of Christianity, where it is rightly understood and sincerely embraced. It transforms a worthless slave and thief into a pious, virtuous, amiable, and useful man; makes him not only happier and better in himself, but a better servant, and better in all relations and circumstances whatever.
II. It appears from verses 1. 10. 13. and 23. of this Epistle, that Paul was under confinement when he wrote it; and as he expresses (22.) his expectation of being shortly leased, it is probable that it was written during his first imprisonment at Rome towards the end of A. D. 62, or early in 63 and was sent, together with the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, by Tychicus and Onesimus.
III. So early as the time of Jerome, some fastidious critics showed an inclination to expunge this Epistle from the sacred canon as being a private letter, and consequently of very little importance to the Christian church. Unquestionably the apostles might (and, for aught we know to the contrary, did) write private letters as well as other persons. But we have no reason to consider the Epistle to Philemon in this light; it was wholly written with the apostle's own hand, which was much more than what he called the token in all his Epistles. (2 Thess. iii. 17.) Although from its brevity, and the private nature of its subject, it was but rarely mentioned by the primitive ecclesiastical writers, yet we know that it was alluded to, though not e'ted by name, by Tertullian, and was reckoned ainong Saint Paul's Epistles by Caius. It was likewise most expressly quoted by Origen, and was pronounced to be authentic by all the ancient writers cited by Eusebius, and also by all subsequent ecclesiastical writers; and it has always been inserted in every catalogue of the books of the New Testament. Stronger external testimony to the authenticity of any part of the Bible exists not, than that which we have for the Epistle to Philemon, the argument of which is not mean, nor is any part of it unworthy of the great apostle of the Gentiles.
"Shall an epistle so full of useful and excellent instructions be rejected for its brevity? or because the occasion required that it should be written concerning one particular person? er addressed to a private man? Men would do well to examine it carefully before they reject it, or speak of it so slightly."
IV. We learn from this Epistle that Onesimus was the slave of Philemon, whom he had probably robbed, and ran away from him as far as Rome. Whether he repented of what he had done, and voluntarily went to Paul, or in what other manner they came to meet there, we have no information. But the apostle, during his confinement in his own hired house, opened a way to the heart of the rude slave, converted him to the Christian faith, and baptized him. It also appears that Paul kept Onesimus with him for some time, to wait upon himself, until Onesimus, by his conduct, confirmed the truth and sincerity of his conversion. During his abode with the apostle, he served him with the greatest assiduity and affection: but, being sensible of his fault in running "Whoever," says Dr. Benson, "will carefully study it, away from his master, he wished to repair that injury by will discern a great number of the doctrines and precepts of returning to him. At the same time being afraid lest, on his Christianity expressed or insinuated: for instance, 1. In a return, his master should inflict upon him the punishment religious view, or upon a spiritual account, all Christians are which by the law or custom of Phrygia was due to a fugitive upon a level. Onesimus, the slave, upon becoming a Chris-slave," he entreated Paul to write to Philemon in his behalf, tian, is the apostle's dear son and Philemon's brother. and requested him to forgive and receive him again into his 2. Christianity makes no alteration in men's civil affairs. family. The apostle therefore wrote this Epistle to PhiBy Christian baptism a slave did not become a freedman; lemon, " in which, with the greatest softness of expression, his temporal state or condition was still the same; and, warmth of affection, and delicacy of address, he not only though Onesimus was the apostle's son and Philemon's bro- interceded for Onesimus's pardon, but urged Philemon to ther upon a religious account, yet he was obliged to be Phi- esteem him and put confidence in him as a sincere Christian. lemon's slave for ever, unless his master voluntarily gave him his freedom. 3. Servants should not be taken or detained
Dr. Benson's History of the First Planting of Christianity, vol. ii. p. 311. 2d edit. Macknight and Lardner are of opinion that Saint Paul's expression in the eighteenth verse does not insinuate that Onesimus had robbed his mnaster of any thing but his service.
9 Grotius informs us that masters had a power to torture their slaves who behaved ill, and even to put them to death, without applying to the nagistrate; and that this was agreeable not only to the Roman but also to the Grecian law.
And because restitution, by repairing the injury that has been done, restores the person who did the injury to the character which he had lost, the apostle, to enable Onesimus to appear in Philemon's family with some degree of reputation, bound himself in this Epistle by his handwriting, not only to repay all that Onesimus owed to Philemon, but to make full reparation also to Philemon for whatever injury he had done to him by running away." To account for the solicitude expressed by Paul in this Epistle in order to obtain Onesimus's pardon, and procure a thorough reconciliation, it is not necessary to suppose, with some critics, that Philemon was keen and obstinate in his resentments, or of that rough and mtractable disposition for which the Phrygians were proverbial. The contrary is insinuated by the apostle, who has in other places commended his benevolence and charity. It is most probable, as Dr. Macknight has conjectured, that Philemon had a number of slaves, on whom the pardoning of Onesimus too easily might have had a bad effect; and therefore he might judge some punishment necessary as an example to the rest. At least Paul could not have considered the pardoning of Onesimus as an affair that merited so much earnest entreaty, with a person of Philemon's piety, benevolence, and gratitude, unless he had suspected him to
have entertained some such intention.
V. Whether Philemon pardoned or punished Onesimus, is a circumstance concerning which we have no information. From the earnestness with which the apostle solicited his pardon, and from the generosity and goodness of Philemon's disposition, the eminent critic above cited conjectures that he actually pardoned Onesimus, and even gave him his freedom, in compliance with the apostle's insinuation, as it is interpreted by some, that he would do more than he had asked. For it was no uncommon thing, in ancient times, to bestow freedom on those slaves whose faithful services had procured for them the esteem and good will of their masters. The primitive Christians preserving this Epistle, and placing it in the sacred canon (Dr. Benson remarks), are strong arguments to induce us to believe that Philemon granted the apostle's request, and received Onesimus into his house and favour again. As Onesimus was particularly recommended by Saint Paul to the notice of the Colossians (iv. 9.), it cannot be doubted that they cheerfully received him into their church. In the Apostolical Constitutions, Onesimus is said to have been bishop of Berea; but they are a compilation of the fourth century, and consequently, of no authority. When Ignatius wrote his Epistle to the Ephesians (A. D. 107), their bishop's name was Onesimus: and Grotius thought that he was the person for whom Saint Paul interceded. But this, as Dr. Lardner3 remarks, is not certain. Dr. Mills has mentioned a copy, at the conclusion of which it is said that Onesimus suffered martyrdom at Rome by having his legs broken.
urged every thing that can be said upon the occasion. Pliny
ON THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS.
I. To whom written.-II. In what language.-III. Its genuineness and authenticity.-Proofs that it was written by Paul.-IV. Its date.-V. Occasion and scope of this Epistle.-VI. Synopsis of its contents.
I. AFTER the thirteen Epistles avowedly written by Paul, with his name prefixed to them, succeeds what we call the Epistle to the Hebrews; the nature and authenticity of which has been more controverted, perhaps, than any other book of the New Testament. As the initiatory formula, usual in the other apostolical letters, is wanting in this Epistle (notwithstanding the superscription terms it the Epistle to the Hebrews), it has been questioned whether it was really an Epistle sent to a particular community, or only a discourse or dissertation intended for general readers. Michaelis determines that it is an Epistle, and remarks that not only the second person plural ye incessantly occurs in it, which alone indeed would be no proof, but also that the author alludes to special circumstances in this writing, in chapters v. 11, 12. vi. 9. x. 32-34., and above all in chapter xiii. 23, 24., which contains the promise of a visit, and various salutations; all which circumstances taken together show that it really is an apostolical Epistle.
Who the Hebrews were, to whom this letter was addressed, learned men are by no means agreed. Sir Isaac Newton was of opinion that by "the Hebrews" in this Epistle we are to understand those Jewish believers who had left Jerusalem a short time before its destruction, and were now dispersed throughout Asia Minor; but of this we have no authentic record. Others again have imagined that it was addressed to the Hebrew Christians in Spain, Galatia, Macedonia, or at Corinth or Rome, or to those who resided in Palestine. Clement of Alexandria, Jerome, Euthalius, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, and other fathers, were of opinion that the Epistle to the Hebrews was sent to the converted Jews living in Judæa; who in the apostle's days were called Hebrews, to distinguish them from the Jews in the Gentile countries, who were called Hellenists or Grecians. (Acts vi. 1. ix. 29. xi. 20.) The opinion of these learned fathers is adopted by Beza, Louis Cappel, Carpzov, Drs. Lightfoot, Whitby, Mill, Lardner, and Macknight, Bishops Pearson and Tomline, Hallet, Rosenmüller, Hug, Scott, and others. Michaelis considers it as written for the use of the Jewish Christians at Jerusalem and in Palestine; and Professor Stuarts, (who is followed by M. La Harpe) that it was directed to Hebrews in Palestine, and probably to the church of Cæsarea. The very ancient opinion last stated is corroborated by the contents of the Epistle itself, in which we meet with many things peculiarly suitable to the believers in Judæa.
1. It is evident from the whole tenor of this Epistle, that the
The whole of this Epistle is indeed a most beautiful composition. Such deference and respect for Philemon, such affection and concern for Onesimus, such distant but just insinuation, such a genteel and fine address pervade the whole, that this alone might be sufficient to convince us that Paul was not unacquainted with the world, and was not that weak and visionary enthusiast, which the enemies of revelation have sometimes represented him to be. It is, indeed, impossible to peruse this admirable Epistle without being touched with the delicacy of sentiment, and the masterly address that appear in every part of it. We see here, in a most striking light, how perfectly consistent true politeness is, not only with all the warmth and sincerity of the friend, but even with the dignity of the Christian and the apostle. Every word has its force and propriety. With what dignity persons to whom it was addressed, were in imminent danger of and authority does Paul entreat, though a prisoner! With falling back from Christianity to Judaism, induced partly by a what condescension and humility does he command, though severe persecution, and partly by the false arguments of the raban apostle! And if this letter were to be considered in no bins. This could hardly have happened to several communities other point of view than as a mere human composition, it must at the same time in any other country than Palestine, and therebe allowed to be a master-piece in its kind. As an illus- fore we cannot suppose it of several communities of Asia Minor, tration of this remark, it may not be improper to compare it to which, in the opinion of some commentators, the Epistle was with an Epistle of the younger Pliny,5 that seems to have been written on a similar occasion; which, though composed by one who has always been reckoned to excel in the epistolatory style, and though it undoubtedly has many beauties, yet it must be acknowledged by every impartial reader to be vastly inferior to this animated composition of the apostle. Pliny seems desirous of saying something; the apostle has
Doddridge, Introd. to Philemon.
Observations on the Apocalypse of Saint John, p. 244.
8 Stuart's Comm. on the Epistle to the Hebrews, vol. i. pp. 67-73. (An dover, N. Am. 1827.) In pp. 8-67. he has discussed the various hypo theses of Dr. Storr, who supposes it to have been written to the Hebrew church at Thessalonica; of Bolten, who imagined that it was directed to Hebrews who were sojourners in Asia Minor; of Michael Weber, who
church at Galatia; of Noesselt, who considered it as addressed to the
advanced and endeavoured to support the opinion that it was addressed to the church at Corinth; and of the ancients (whose opinion he adopts), that this epistle was written to the Hebrew church in Palestine.
La Harpe, Essai Critique sur l'Authenticité de l'Epitre aux Hebreux p. 136. (Toulouse, 1832.