Skip to main content

Full text of "An introduction to the study of the books of the New Testament : with an introductory note by Benjamin B. Warfield"

See other formats

OF Pft^^. 

flUr. «9 1961 

Q Q O 

An lntroductior>^^ ^^.^^ 

* NOV 24 19i 

To the Study of the X^Jf ' — r—^?-- — . 

Books of the ^^i£§lGM ^f ^.'^ 


By John H. Kerr, D.D. 

Professor of Greek Exegesis and New Testament Literature in the 
San Francisco Theological Seminary 

With an Introductory Note by 
Professor Benjamin B. Warfield, D.D. 

Of Princeton Theological Seminary 

Third Edition, Revised 

Fleming H. Revell Company 

Chicago New York Toronto 

Publithers of Evangelical Literature 

Entered according to Act of Congress, m the year 1892, by 


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C. 

All Rights Reserved. 



Professor of Theology in Princeton Theological Seminary, 

this book is gratefully inscribed, 

inasmuch as 

its inception and completion are largely due 

to his kind encouragement 


wise counsel. 


This book is the outgrowth of a series of ser- 
mons preached on the Gospels nine years ago in 
my first pastoral charge. These sermons were re- 
written and published in the Presbyterian Journal 
of Philadelphia. Favorable notice having been ac- 
corded these articles, I was led to continue them by 
writing introductory articles to the other books of 
the New Testament for the same paper. The kind 
encouragement and advice of Professor Warfield, 
under whose able instruction in Allegheny Seminary 
I was permitted to study for four years, led me to 
think of rewriting the whole series with the view of 
publishing them in book form when completed. As 
my ministry progressed, I was also impressed with 
the need of having a popular treatise on New Testa- 
ment Introduction for uses of instruction among the 
people of my charge. These things led me on in 
my work until it is now completed. To the wise 
council and timely criticisms of Dr. Warfield I am 
deeply indebted, for through the years that have 
elapsed since the inception of this work, he has re- 
peatedly encouraged me. 

The original articles as they appeared in the 
Presbyterian Journal have been entirely rewritten, 
and I have attempted to make them more even in 



every way. By using such fragments of time as 
could be spared from the many and r "gular duties cf 
my ministry, the work has through many difficulties 
and after many delays been finished. I have striven 
to be independent in my investigations, and to call 
no man my maste> I have availed myself of all 
sources of information that I could command, and 
have traversed the whole ground covered in this book 
a number of times. I have freely quoted from va- 
rious authorities, and some names appear frequently 
upon the pages of this book because I have always 
found them to be safe guides. I have not striven to 
set forth any new and startling theories, such as are 
fashionable and popular in these days. Nor can I 
hope to have settled some of the intricate questions 
that are touched upon by the science of Introduction. 
The effort has been made to present, not the processes 
of study, but the results of patient, painstaking in- 

Professor Weiss in the Preface to his masterly 
Manual of Introduction to the New Testament, says : 
"In my view, the main thing in an Introduction to 
the New Testament is neither criticism nor apolo- 
getics, but the actual initiation into a living histor- 
ical knowledge of Scripture." This states exactly 
my own view. New Testament Introduction must 
underlie all intelligent study of the Book. The 
order in which the sciences in regard to the New 
Testament should be studied is, first, Introduction ; 
second. Textual Criticism ; third. Exegesis ; and, 
fourth, Apologetics. We must first ascertain what- 
ever is ascertainable in regard to the historical set- 
tin|^ of the component parts of the New Testament. 



In pursuing this plan, I have followed in general the 
course pursued by Dr. Gloag in his valuable Intro- 
ductions to the Pauline and Catholic Epistles. The 
order followed in the study of each book is, Canon- 
icity, Authorship, Destination, Occasion and Object, 
Contents, Date and Place of Composition, and Pecul- 
iarities. To these subjects others have been added 
as occasion might require in the study of some of 
the books, but as a rule this order has been followed. 
None of these subjects have been treated with the 
exhaustiveness found in more elaborate treatises, 
and many interesting subjects have been entirely 
omitted, but this has arisen from the desire to avoid 
cumbersomeness and to keep the whole treatise 
within the proper limits for its destined object. 

The books to which I would confess peculiar in- 
debtedness are Conybeare and Howson's monumental 
work on the Life and Letters of St. Paul, and Dr. 
Gloag's Introductions to the Pauline and Catholic 
Epistles and the Johannine Writings, as well as Dr. 
Warfield's Lectures to his students on the Catholic 
Epistles. All the leading Introductions have been 
repeatedly consulted, as well as any other available 
works that would shed any light on any of the sub- 
jects that are herein investigated. My most con- 
stant companion in all my study has been the Greek 

It is with mixed feelings that I now put forth my 
Introduction. It is conservative in its tone, adher- 
ing closely to the old views in so far as they seemed 
to me to be correct. I am personally firmly con- 
vinced of the historicity and canonical authority of 
the twenty-seven books that constitute the New Tes- 


tament. And my hope is that what I have written 
may be of use to earnest Bible students in confirm- 
ing their faith in these things in regard to the New- 
Testament books. But while this work considers 
only the human side of the New Testament, let it 
be always remembered that it is the inspired Word 
of God. It must be handled reverentially and prayer- 
fully, if we are to obtain from it that wisdom that 
will through it m.ake us wise unto salvation. 

John H. Kerr. 

Rock Island^ III. May g, ?Q2 


The call for a second edition of this book seems to 
be an evidence that it has found a ,piace in the needs 
of students of the New Testament, and also that its 
mission in that direction is not -. :t completed. If this 
inference is correct there is r -ison, t.^en, why it should 
appear in this second edition in a substantially un- 
changed form. 

Typographical errors have been carefully noted 
and corrected and two changes have been made in the 
matter of dates. It has seemed to me on further 
examination that the date of the Council of Jerusalem 
must be placed as early as 50 A.D., in order to make 
room for all that transpired between the departure of 
Paul from Antioch on his second missionary journey 
(Acts 15:40), and his arrival at Corinth in the latter 
part of 52 A.D. (Acts 18:1). I have also been con- 
strained to date Second Timothy before the winter of 
2 Tim. 4:21; Titus 3: 12, which I now believe to have 
been the winter of 67 A.D., if not even earlier. 

Since the appearance of the first edition of this 
book, six years ago, there have been many valuable 
contributions made to this general subject by some of 
the greatest scholars of the present age. Such Intro- 
ductions on the whole or parts of the New Testament 
as those of Holtzmann, Jiilicher, Zahn, Godet and 
Gloag, together with the writings on kindred subjects 
by such as Harnack, Weiss, Ramsay, McGiffert and 


others, show that the New Testament still furnishes 
material for literary and historical criticism. It surely 
is not claiming too much, when it is affirmed that the 
trend of thought has been on the whole decidedly in 
the direction of conservative views. There have been 
at times slight eddies in the currents of thought, when 
it has seemed for a little while as though they had 
reversed their direction. But these have been only 
temporary checks to the forward progress, and have 
really only added greater force to those currents, when, 
refusing to be turned aside any longer, they have flowed 
onward. Some questions have become absolutely set- 
tled, while others are nearing their solution. The work 
of Ramsay and Blass has made more sure the histor- 
icity and Lucan authorship of the Acts. Despite in- 
dividual objectors the Pauline authorship of the Pas- 
toral Epistles has never commanded wider assent than 
since Weiss and Zahn and Godet have written in their 
defense. Tiie most difficult problem of all, that of 
the origin of the Synoptic Gospels, is doubtless not as 
far from its correct solution as it was; while a greater 
number than ever before acknowledge the Fourth Gos- 
pel as a genuine Johannean product. 

It is a matter of no little gratification to me that 
many of the positions herein advocated are among the 
most certainly accepted to-day. I trust that this work 
will continue to fill a place in the better understanding 
and defense of the scriptures of the New Testament. 
With deep gratitude for the favorable reception of the 
first edition, I put forth this second and revised edition 
in the humble hope that it may still be of use to many 
in studying the human origins and circumstances of 
the various books of the New Testament. 

John H. Kerr. 
San Raphael, California, August ^, i8g8. 


By The Rev. Dr. B. B. Warfield. 

I FEEL very deeply the honor which Mr. Kerr has 
done me in inscribing to me this book,— the first 
.Vuits, but we all hope by no means the last fruits, of 
his studies in the New Testament. Certainly it is a 
pleasure to be allowed to commend to the wide pub- 
lic of Bible-students for which it is designed, this 
sober and serious attempt to popularize the study of 
the human origin and characteristics of that body of 
literature which God has made the depository of His 

The New Testament is far more than a body of 
literature. It is the Word of God. It is not simply 
the literary product of the Church of the first age. 
It is the gift of God to the Church of all ages. Neither 
in the composition of its individual books, nor in the 
collection of those books into a 'Xanon," can it be 
justly looked upon as the creation of the literary 
genius or of the selective instincts of the Church. 
The books were given one by one by the authorita- 
tive founders of the Church,— the Apostles whom 
Christ had chosen and whom the Spirit had endowed,— 
to the Church which they founded, as its authoritative 
Rule of Faith and Practice, its corpus juris; and the 
Pock formed itself out of these authoritative books 


and differentiated itself by this simple fact from all 
other books or collections of books. The principle of 
the Canon has ever been Apostolic gift, never fitness 
to edify or adaptation to the Christian consciousness: 
authoritativeness is its note. And when a Christian 
approaches it, he approaches it not merely as a book 
which he finds spiritually helpful, far less, merely as 
one which he finds literarily interesting, but as the 
Oracles of God. 

Nevertheless, God did not give us these books, as 
He gave Moses the Ten Words, written without 
human^intermediation, by His own finger, on the tables 
of stone. He gave them not only by, but through 
men. They are the Oracles of God, and every word 
of them is a word of God. But they are also the 
writings of men, and every word of them is a word of 
man. By a perfect confluence of the divine and 
human, the one word is at once all divine and all 
human. So then, for their proper and complete un- 
derstanding, we must approach each book not only as 
the Word of God, but also as the words of Peter, or 
of Paul, or of John. We must seek to understand its 
human author in his most intimate characteristics, in 
his trials, experiences and training, in the especial 
circumstances of joy or sorrow, of straits or deliver- 
ance, in which he stood when writing this book, in his 
relations to his readers, and to the immediate needs 
and special situation of his readers which gave occa- 
sion for his writing, — in all, in a word, which went to 
make him an author, and just the author which he 
was, — in order that we may understand the Word of 
God which these words of His servants are. And we 
must approach the Book as a whole, with our eyes 


Open to the relations borne by part to part, — their 
chronological order, their mutual interdependencies 
and interrelations, their several places in the advanc- 
ing delivery of doctrine, in the development of Chris- 
tian life, in the elaboration of Church organization 
and worship, — in order that we may understand the 
method of God in creating His Church through the la- 
bors of these, His servants. This vast field is em- 
braced in that literary study of the New Testament 
to which, it is to be hoped, Mr. Kerr's book will intro- 
duce many to whom it may have hitherto seemed too 
remote or too recondite. 

Let us look for a moment at the chronological list 
of New Testament books which Mr. Kerr gives us in 
the table on page xx : — 

Note how interesting even such " a dry list " may 
become through what it suggests as to the relations 
of the books to one another, when they are viewed 
organically as a body of literature. Consider the 
obvious domination of Paul throughout nearly the 
whole list, until Paul passes out of view at the close 
of the seventh Christian decade, and John fills the 
spacious time of the end of the century with his Spirit- 
attuned voice. And, then, consider the grouping of 
the books. We observe the first light of the early 
dawn of Christian literature in the Epistle of James ; 
and we cannot fail to remark the aroma of " begin- 
ningness " which rises from every verse of that beauti- 
ful relic of really primitive Christianity, in which the 
Church is a synagogue, and the sins that break its pu- 
rity and peace are still the sins of Jewish temperament 
and Jewish inheritance. Then we have a long series 
of Paul's Epistles, — from Thessalonians to Romans, — 


and observe already the ascendency of this Apostle 
in early Christian literature, leading us to think of 
its first epoch as the first Pauline period. Then come 
the first Gospels ; and here, at the end of the sixth dec- 
ade of the century, we may draw a deep line, and say 
that the Beginnings are over. What we may call the 
central literary period now emerges into view. How 
Pauline it is ! First, there is a central body of Paul's 
letters ; and then a sequence of histories and epistles 
deeply imbued (with the exception of Jude) with the 
Pauline spirit, and exhibiting with striking clearness 
the supremeness of Paul's influence throughout the 
whole formative age of the Church. The central period 
closes, and is followed by a remarkable series of writ- 
ings which have this common feature, — that they all 
may be looked upon as the leave-taking of the 
Apostles from the Church which they have estab- 
lished. We may consider them the legacy to the 
Church, in order, of Paul, of Peter, and of John, — the 
whole closing with that long, steady glow in the west- 
ern heavens, illuminating the whole pathway of the 
Church through time, which is fitly called the 

On the opposite page, I have sought to represent 
this grouping in diagram. It is sufficiently striking 
to add likelihood to the chronological scheme on 
which it is founded. And if we will look a little 
deeper, we may perceive lines of development run- 
ning through the sequence of writings, which go far 
toward demonstrating the general correctness of the 
order which has been assigned them. All the books 
which I have classed under the caption of The 
Beginnings of Christian Literature, share with the 













1 Thessalonians 

2 Thessalonians 




First Pauline 

I Corinthians 



Romans • ... 



First Gospels. 






Central Paul- 
ine Period. 

The Central Period of Apostolic 




c 64 

c 66 


1 Peter . 






Paul's Legacy. 








2 Timothy 












John's Legacy. 



2 John . 


Revelation . . 



Epistle of James the primitive flavor. The Epistles 
to the Thessalonians obviously belong to the infancy 
of the Church, when men were learning the first 
principles of the faith, — God and the Judgment. The 
questions connected with the mode and ground of sal- 
vation, with which the great Epistles to the Galatians, 
Corinthians, and Romans are busied, were char- 
acteristic of the transition from Judaism to Chris- 
tianity. And the supplying of both the Jewish and 
Gentile sections of the Church with their appropriate 
Gospel, was a necessary element In the foundation of 
these Churches. The Church having once been 
founded, new needs arose and new questions pressed 
for solution. The faith had been delivered ; now it 
needed establishing. The discussions as to the Person 
of Christ and His relation to His Body, the Church, 
which occupy the foreground in the central group of 
Paul's letters, could not have sprung up in the first in- 
fancy of the Church. It belongs to manhood to 
wrestle with the philosophy of its faith. Nor are 
histories of the foundation of a society, such as we 
have in the book of Acts, written, until the society is 
conscious that the foundations are already laid. 
Hebrews, First Peter, and Jude are as distinctively not 
evangelizing, but confirming literature. All the 
writings of this central period, thus, correspond with 
the place assigned to them chronologically : they are 
characteristic of the early maturity of the Church. 
Equally loudly do the contents of the remaining 
books proclaim themselves to belong to the period 
of the departure of the Apostles. It is not arbitrarily 
that Paul busies himself in the Pastoral Epistles, with 


the organization of the Churches : it is because the 
Churches had grown so numerous and so large that 
questions of organization had become pressing, — it is 
because the time was drawing near when they should 
be left to self-government, without his inspired guid- 
ance. And as Paul wrote Second Timothy when he 
was already being poured out and the time of his de- 
parture was come, so Peter wrote Second Peter in full 
realization that the putting off of his tabernacle was 
coming swiftly, and in order to promise to his readers 
the memoirs of an eye-witness to Christ's majesty : 
it is Peter's swan-song. John's whole body of writ- 
ings bears witness to a Church long-established, and 
may be justly looked upon as the farewell of the 
Apostolate to the Churches they had founded. Hence 
the Gospel of the Spirit, the final Gospel, and its 
strengthening accompanying letter. Hence the typi- 
cal messages to the Churches, opening that immortal 
vision which uncovers to glad eyes the course of the 
great conflict through time, by which Christ is putting 
His enemies under His feet, and the glories of the final 
victory. Only with these is the deposit of faith made 
complete, the basis of hope impregnable, and the 
revelation of God's love perfect. 

This meager hint may serve as some sort of a 
sample of how, as we study the literary history of 
the New Testament, we may gain broader and deeper 
conceptions of God's method in giving His Word to 
man, and so also a fuller apprehension of the supreme 
value of these precious books and their fitness to 
meet every human need. May Mr. Kerr's excellent 
volume prove to many, an introduction not only to the 


study of the human conditions and methods by which 
these books came to man, but also to a fuller under- 
standing of the loving care of our God and Saviour 
for His flock. 

JPrinceUm, May, 1892. 




General Introduction i 


The Gospels — General Introduction 4 

I. Their Number and Order 4 

II. Their Characteristics 6 

III. Their Origin 8 


The Gospels — Special Introduction i6 

I. The Gospel according to Matthew i6 

II. The Gospel according to Mark 28 

III. The Gospel according to Luke 42 

IV. The Gospel according to John 55 


The Acts of the Apostles 74 


The Pauline Epistles — General Introduction 87 

I. The Life and Character of Paul 87 

II. The Writings of Paul 95 




The Pauline Epistles — Special Introduction 98 

1. The Early Epistles 98 

I. First Thessalonians 98 

II. Second Thessalonians 107 

III. Galatians 113 

IV. First Corinthians 124 

V. Second Corinthians 133 

IV. Romans 145 

2. The Epistles of the Captivity 156 

VII. Colossians 157 

VIII. Philemon 167 

IX. Ephesians 175 

X. Philippians 187 

3. The Pastoral Epistles 198 

XI. First Timothy 205 

XII. Titus 215 

XIII. Second Timothy 222 


The Epistle to the Hebrews 230 


The Catholic Epistles — General Introduction 247 

I. James 249 

II. First Peter 263 

III. Second Peter 277 

IV. First John 286 

V and VI. Second and Third John 296 

VII. Jude 303 


The Revelation 311 

Index of Authors and Subjects 327 








1 Thessalonians . 

2 Thessalonians . . 

1 Corinthians . 

2 Corinthians. . 










I Peter 


1 Timothy 


2 Timothy 

2 Peter 



I John 

2 John 









c 58 





c 64 

c 66 











Corinth . . , 




Jerusalem . . 
Csesarea, . . . 


Jerusalem (?) 




En route to Rome 



James, the brother of our Lord. 
Paul, the Apostle. 


Matthew, the Apostle. 
Luke, the beloved Physician. 
Paul, the Apostle. 

Luke, the beloved Physician. 

Paul, the Apostle. 

Peter " " 

Jude, the brother of our Lord. 

Paul, the Apostle. 

Peter " 


John, the Apostle. 

e. H d 

0\ Ui In 

0\ 0\ 0\ C\ 


0\ 0\ Ov 0\ 

^ o\ w 


S" M «> 

01 U) N) 

ON -;>. w 

De Wette. 

I i, 


to to 

<jx <ji <jx 


o\ o\ o\ 0\ ^ 

ist Ed. 

00 V4 vj 

2d Ed. 

<J\ <Jl <JX 

ON On 

ON 0\ Ol 


OJ OJ w w 

00 00 ^ 













On 0\ W 


On On On On oi 



00 ON On ui N 



^ tn tn 

On On On On oi 

M 00 VI ^ 


0\ 0\ 0\ o\ 


tn en tn 




General Introduction. 

The Book that we are to study in this work is the 
New Testament. We speak of it as though it was 
only one book, while in reality it is made up of 
twenty-seven individual books. Of these books, 
five are historical, twenty-one are epistolary, and 
one is apocalyptic. They proceed from at least 
eight different writers, namely ; Matthew, Mark, 
Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter, and Jude. Four of 
these men were Apostles, Matthew, John, Paul, and 
Peter ; two were intimate associates and companions 
of Apostles, Mark and Luke ; and the other two 
were brethren of our Lord, James and Jude. These 
eight writers have their peculiar styles and modes of 
thought, differing from one another in these respects 
in many ways. And each book was written by its 
author with some specific purpose in view. But 
although the twenty-seven books constituting the 
New Testament were diverse in origin and purpose, 
and although small sections of the Church, or indi- 
vidual writers, have had their doubts as to the canon- 
ical authority of some of them, yet the Church as a 


whole has never recognized as authoritative Script- 
ure any other books than those now found in the 
New Testament, except, of course, the books consti- 
tuting the Old Testament. From a very early date 
in the second century the New Testament Canon * 
has been a fixed quantity, even though the formal 
recognition of the twenty-seven books as a distinct 
and definite collection cannot be found until the time 
of the Council of Laodicea, 363 A. D. 

It is not to be supposed, however, that the Canon 
was not a definite and fixed quantity long before the 
Council of Laodicea. '' The formal declaration of 
the Canon was not by any means an immediate and 
necessary consequence of its practical settlement."* 
The books of the New Testament naturally, I might 
even say supernaturally, gravitated together. The 
Church, while allowing an ecclesiastical use of some 
of the so-called Apocryphal books, such as the 
Shepherd of Hermas, the Epistle of Barnabas, and 
others, never allowed a canonical authority to any 
others than those now in the New Testament. The 
Canon grew by virtue of the inherent divine au- 
thority of those books that came to constitute it, 
and it became fixed rather by the superintending 
power of its divine Inspirer than by any formal edict 
of the Church in any of its ecclesiastical bodies. As 
Professor Salmon writes, ''It is a remarkable fact that 
we have no early interference of Church authority in 
the making of a Canon ; no Council discussed this 
subject ; no formal decisions were made. The Canon 

iBy this term " Canon " is meant that collection of books that con' 
stituted the New Testament. 

''Westcott's On the Canon of the New Testament, p. 5. 


seems to have shaped itself; and if, when we come 
further on, you are disposed to complain of this be- 
cause of the vagueness of the testimony of antiquity 
to one or two disputed books, let us remember that 
this non-interference of authority is a valuable topic 
of evidence to the genuineness of our Gospels ; for 
it thus appears that it was owing to no adventi- 
tious authority, but by their own weight, that they 
crushed all rivals out of existence."^ 

A comparison of the books of the New Testament 
with the body of literature that sprang up soon after 
their composition will demonstrate the immeasurable 
superiority of the former over the latter. The Apoc- 
ryphal Gospels are puerile and nonsensical in char- 
acter and contents by the side of the four Gospels 
in the New Testament. You pass into a new atmos- 
phere, and one that is earthly in every respect, when 
you turn from the former to the latter. The twenty- 
seven books, as soon as the slow and precarious 
methods of communication between those parts of 
the Church in which they had their origin permitted, 
became the recognized deposit of the divine revela- 
tion, and as such are indissolubly bound up in the 
one Book, which we call the New Testament. 
3 Salmon's Introd. to the New Testament, p. 144. 


The Gospels — General Introduction. 

It is an inaccuracy, but one that scarcely can be 
avoided, to speak of these in the plural. It is in 
reality only one Gospel, although four-fold. Justin 
Martyr is the first writer who makes use of the term 
**the Gospels" technically, as applied to the four 
books that constitute the Gospel record. The gen- 
eral signification of the term up to his time had been 
that of the message of salvation. The word really 
means " good tidings," having reference to the char- 
acter of the message it contained. The four books 
of the Gospel we have, do not pretend to be com- 
plete histories of the words and acts of the Saviour. 
They are rather biographical memoirs, which taken 
together constitute the one Gospel. To be literally 
correct in designating the various parts of this one 
Gospel, we should always say, not " Matthew's Gos- 
pel," or '' Mark's Gospel," and so on, but " the Gospel 
according to Matthew," *' the Gospel according to 
Mark," and so on. This unity must always be borne 
in mind, even though the common usage of terms 
should compel us to be at times slightly inaccurate. 


The number of the books composing the Gospel 
has always been four, and only four. The closest 
examination of the early Christian writings, so far as 



they have been preserved, will show that canonical 
authority has never been accorded to any other Gos- 
pels than these four. There are a number of so- 
called Gospels besides these, but not one of them 
ever received any recognition at the hands of the 
Church. As early as 150 A. D., Tatian the Syrian 
made a harmonic arrangement of these four Gospels 
from a Syriac translation of them then in existence. ^ 
Irenaeus enters into an elaborate argument to prove 
that there were only four real Gospels. He speaks 
of the fourfoldness of the Gospel, conforming itself 
to the analogy of the four quarters of the globe, the 
four chief winds, and the four faces of the cherubim. 
*' He asserts that the four Gospels are the four pillars 
on which the Church rests as it covers the whole 
earth, and in this number four he recognizes a 
special token of the Creator's wisdom. . . . The 
acceptance of all the four was then of so long 
standing and so thoroughly complete, that the Bishop 
of Lyons could allude to the fourfoldness of the 
Gospel as a thing universally recognized, and in 
consequence of this very recognition speak of it as 
a thing which harmonizes with great and unchang- 
ing cosmical arrangements." ^ 

** Upon a review of all the witnesses, from the 
Apostolic Fathers down to the Canon of the Laodi- 
cean Council in 363, and that of the third Council of 
Carthage in 397, in both of which the four Gospels 
are numbered in the Canon of Scripture, there can 
hardly be room for any candid person to doubt 
that from the first the four Gospels were recog- 

^ Tatian' s Diatessaron. 

^Tischendorf's Origin of the Four Gospels, p. 38. 


nized as genuine and as inspired ; that a sharp line 
of distinction was drawn between them and the so- 
called apocryphal Gospels, of which the number was 
very great ; that, from the citations of passages, the 
Gospels bearing these four names were the same as 
those which we possess in our Bibles under the same 
names ; that unbelievers, like Celsus, did not deny the 
genuineness of the Gospels, even when rejecting 
their contents ; and, lastly, that heretics thought 
that it was necessary to plead some kind of sanction 
out of the Gospels for their doctrines ; nor could they 
venture on the easier path of an entire rejection, be- 
cause the Gospels were everywhere known to be gen- 
uine. As a matter of literary history, nothing can 
be better established than the genuineness of the 
Gospels." ^ 

The order of the arrangement of these four books 
has always been the same as it now is in our Bibles. 
The Muratori Canon speaks of Luke as the third 
Gospel, and John as the fourth. As this Canon is 
fragmentary, and in the part now lost must have 
spoken of the first and second Gospels, we naturally 
infer that they were none other than Matthew and 
Mark respectively. 


That these four books have their marked and 
peculiar characteristics, is evident on a most cursory 
reading. As early a writer as Irenaeus affirms that 
Matthew symbolizes the man ; Mark, theeagle; Luke, 
the ox ; and John, the lion. ""' These'ideas were 
taken up by later writers and more fully developed. 

5 Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, p. ^43. 


And while this is merely a quaint conceit of Irenaeus 
and other writers, the basis of it is to be found in the 
differentiating features of these books, which at an 
early age were clearly recognized and which seemed 
to call for some explanation at the hands of those 
who accepted them. These features will be dwelt 
upon respectively as we study the books in their or- 
der, and there is no occasion to anticipate what will 
naturally be considered farther on. In their mem- 
oirs of Christ, the four Evangelists were guided in 
the selection of the material wrought into their 
records by the purposes they had in view in writing, 
as well as by the ultimate purposes of the inspiring 
Holy Spirit. Each one writes from his own stand- 
point, and we have in reality four different pictures 
of our Lord, delineated by four different artists as 
His wonderful personality appeared to their respect- 
ive minds. The first three have been called the 
Synoptic Gospels,* because they more closely re- 
semble one another in their general features, as well 
as in the ground they cover. The Fourth Gospel 
stands out in bold relief by itself, differentiated from 
the other three by many distinctive features. 

Early tradition informs us that Matthew wrote 
his~Gospel "for the Jews ; Mark for the Romans; 
Luke for the Greeks ; and John for Christians in 
general. There is no question of the general truth 
of this early belief, for the Evangelists had before 
their minds as they wrote the needs of these respect- 
ive classes of persons. It must be remembered, 
however, that as none of the Epistles were addressed 

*Dr. Dods defines this term as meaning, '* giving a general view o£ 
tke same series of events in the life of Christ,'* 


to unbelievers, so none of the Gospels were written 
for those who were not Christians. The distinctive 
characteristics of these books arose from their re- 
spective occasions and objects. 


No more difficult problem confronts the student 
of the Gospels than that of their origin. One is 
struck with the fact that between them there are 
the most remarkable resemblances, and at the same 
time equally striking differences. This has given 
rise to the so-called Synoptic and Johannean prob- 
lems. We naturally deal with the Synoptic Gos- 
pels by themselves, for the narrative of the Fourth 
Gospel coincides with the other three in only a few 
passages. John in the main in his Gospel covers 
different ground from that of the other three. The 
most reasonable explanation of the differences that 
e3ast"^"^etweeh his and the other three Gospels is, 
that John writing last of all, and much later than 
the others, had seen their Gospels, and purposely 
omitted the bulk of the matter that they had already 

Taking the Synoptic Gospels, we find a large 
amount of actual agreement in arrangement and de- 
tail. " If we suppose the histories that they contain 
to be divided into sections, in 42 of these all three 
narratives coincide, 12 more are given by Matthew 
and Mark only, 5 by Mark and Luke only, and 14 by 
Matthew and Luke. To these must be added 5 
peculiar to Matthew, 2 to Mark, and 9 to Luke ; and 
the enumeration is complete. But this applies to 


general coincidence as to the facts narrated ; the 
amount of verbal coincidence, that is, the passages 
either verbally the same, or coinciding in the use of 
many of the same words, is much smaller." Pro- 
fessor Norton writes : " By far the larger portion of 
this verbal agreement is found in the recital of the 
words of others, and particularly of the words of 
Jesus. Thus, in Matthew's Gospel, the passages 
verbally coincident with one or both of the other 
two Gospels amount to less than a sixth part of its 
contents ; and of this about seven eighths occur in 
the recital of the words of others, and only about 
one eighth in what, by way of distinction, I may call 
mere narrative, in which the Evangelist, speaking in 
his own person, was unrestrained in the choice of his 
expressions. In Mark, the proportion of coincident 
passages to the whole contents of the Gospel is about 
one sixth, of which not one fifth occurs in the narra- 
tive. Luke has still less agreement of expression 
with the other Evangelists. The passages in which 
it is found amount only to about a tenth part of his 
Gospel, and but an inconsiderable portion of it ap- 
pears in the narrative portion — less than a twentieth 
part. These proportions should be further compared 
with those which the narrative part of each Gospel 
bears to that in which the words of others are pro- 
fessedly repeated. Matthew's narrative occupies 
about one fourth of his Gospel ; Mark's about one 
half, and Luke's about one third. It may easily be 
computed, therefore, that the proportion of verbal 
coincidence found in the narrative part of each Gos- 
pel, compared with what exists in the other part is 


about in the following ratios : In Matthew as one to 
somewhat more than two, in Mark as one to four, 
and in Luke as one to ten."^ 

It is evident from these words of Professor Norton 
that, while there is a vast amount of remarkable 
agreement, there is also a great deal of difference 
between them. Westcott says: *'If the total con- 
tents of the several Gospels be represented by lOO, 
the following table is obtained : — 

Peculiarities. Concordances. 

"Mark 7 93 

Matthew 42 58 

Luke 59 41 

(John 92 8)" 

From this table it will be seen that Mark has the 
least amount of matter peculiar to himself In fact 
there are only about 24 verses in Mark that are not 
paralleled in either, or both, Matthew and Luke. 
Matthew has more concordances than peculiarities, 
and Luke has more peculiarities than concordances 
The great question now is, How are we to ac- 
count for these peculiarities, as well as concord- 
ances } We must find a theory that will work both 
ways, that is, that while accounting for the coinci- 
dences, will also explain the peculiarities. This is, 
the difficulty. Many different theories have been 
propounded, but they all fail to satisfy entirely the 
conditions that are met. Three general theories 
suggest themselves. First, the Synoptists depend 
on one another. These three are capable of six 
different combinations, namely ; Matthew, Mark, 
Luke; Matthew, Luke, Mark; Mark, Luke, Mat- 

^Nortoa's Genuineness of the Gospels, Vol. I., p. 240, 


thew ; Mark, Matthew, Luke ; Luke, Mark, Mat- 
thew ; Luke, Matthew, Mark. Each one of these 
combinations has had its advocates. It is to be 
noted that in this list the title of a Gospel is sometimes 
set down where, to be strictly accurate, some form of 
the Gospel which is supposed to have preceded the 
canonical book is meant. Now there is absolutely 
no direct evidence that the Synoptists saw one 
another's works. Luke certainly cannot have had 
in mind either of the other two, when he refers to 
the earlier attempts to write the Gospel history. 
This theory " degrades one or two Synoptists to the 
position of slavish and yet arbitrary compilers, not 
to say plagiarists ; it assumes a strange mixture of 
dependence and affected originality ; it weakens the 
independent value of their history ; and it does not 
account for the omissions of most important matter, 
and for many differences in common matter." ^^<^-^ 
ond, the Synoptists are independent of one another, 
and depend on older common sources. This inde- 
pendence of these writers is borne out by the fact 
that they frequently differ where agreement would 
most certainly be expected. Then at the same time 
there are the most striking coincidences. These 
latter may be accounted for on the basis of a com- 
mon source, while their independence may explain 
their divergences. Third, the Synoptists are de- 
pendent both on one another and on older sources. 
But, if we reject the first theory, we must also reject 
this one, for the same arguments will hold against 
the first part of this theory that do against it. 

It is noticeable that the resemblances occur 
mostly, and as we would naturally expect, in the 


recitative portions, and the differences in the narra- 
tive. Some writers revert again and again to the 
statement of Papias, who affirms that Matthew wrote 
the ** oracles" in Hebrew. Calling the "oracles" the 
original Matthew, they claim that it contained the 
discourses of Christ alone and was the basis of all 
the Gospels. But other writers have proven that 
** oracles" as used by Papias, does not necessarily 
mean only discourses, but that the term can be ap- 
plied to narrative as well as to recitative portions. 
Others seek for an original Aramaic written Gospel, 
which the Evangelists have translated, and as inde- 
pendent translators have not always used the same 
words to express the original.^ In this way they 
would account for the verbal differences. And, in- 
deed, it does give a satisfactory explanation of varia- 
tions that are confined to words. But, as Professor 
Salmon ^ well says, " The hypothesis of an Aramaic 
original does not suffice to explain all the phenomena. 
For there are very many passages where the Evan- 
gelists agree in the use of Greek words, which it is 
not likely could have been hit on independently by 
different translators. If such cases are to be ex- 
plained by the use of a common original, that origi- 
nal must have been in the Greek language."^ 

In regard to Matthew, it must be remembered that 
he was a personal witness of many of the facts, as 
well as a hearer of many of the words of Christ, 

6 See Articles of Prof. Marshall in the Expositor of 189 1. 

7 Salmon's Introd. to the N. T., p. 173. 

* It is impossible in the limits of this work to even state the many 
different theories that have been advanced. The reader is referred to 
the most elaborate treatises on this subject for a review of the ideas that 
have beea advanced. 


which he records. Mark, the companion of Peter, 
gives also practically an autoptic Gospel. Luke 
tells us plainly that his sources were written records, 
fragmentary in their character, and the oral testi- 
mony of eye witnesses. Then further, in our histor- 
ical studies, we must not lose sight of the supernatural 
element in the composition of these Gospels, that is, 
the superintendence and inspiration of the Holy 
Spirit. The apostolic preaching, as Dr. Schaff says, 
''was chiefly historical, a recital of the wonderful 
public life of Jesus of Nazareth, and centered in the 
crowning facts of the crucifixion and resurrection. 
The story was repeated in public and in private from 
day to day and sabbath to sabbath. The Apostles 
and primitive Evangelists adhered closely and rever- 
ently to what they saw and heard from their divine 
Master and their disciples faithfully reproduced their 

At the first, the need of authoritative written 
records did not exist. The facts of Christ's life and 
His words were fresh and vivid in their memories. 
Living words were sufficient for the present needs of 
the believers, but the Church grew and soon included 
those who had no personal knowledge of those facts 
and words. " The wide growth of the Church fur- 
nished them with an adequate motive for adding a 
written record to the testimony of their living words ; 
and the very form of the Gospels was only deter- 
mined by the experience of teaching. The work of 
an Evangelist was thus not the simple result of 
divine inspiration or of human thought, but rather 
the complex issue of both when applied to such a 

• History of the Christian Church, Vol. I., p. 603. 


selection of Christ's words and works as the varied 
phases of apostolic preaching had shown to be best 
suited to the wants of men. The primary Gospel 
was proved, so to speak, in life, before it was fixed in 
writing. Out of the countless multitude of Christ's 
acts, those were gathered, which were seen to have 
the fullest representative significance for the exhibi- 
tion of His divine life. The oral collection thus 
formed became in every sense coincident with the 
* Gospel'; and our Gospels are the permanent com- 
pendium of its contents." ^^ 

In view of these facts, we may feel confident that 
the oral preaching of the early days was the real 
basis of the Gospels. The customs and training of 
those days, when of books there were none, and 
manuscripts were unhandy, led to habits of memo- 
rizing. The living words of Christ were ineffaceably 
burned into the minds of His followers. The same 
facts were repeated over and over again, until finally 
they were fairly stereotyped in their minds. In re- 
cording the words of Christ, the Evangelists natur- 
ally harmonize very closely with one another. But 
since the words of Christ were frequently associated 
with attendant circumstances, it is not surprising 
that differences should appear in the narrative por- 
tions of the writings, as this one thought of one 
circumstance and that one another. Thus they were 
both independent and dependent. Their individual 
minds, as well as the specific purposes for which 
they wrote, led them to differences of expression, as 
well as to the selection of different material. Mark, 
though written last of the three, represents most 

10 Westcott's Introd. to the Study of the Gospels, p. 1^8, 


clearly the briefest form of the early preaching ; 
while Matthew and Luke give the same in more 
extended form, and as their purposes demanded. 
To use the words of Dr. Schaff, " We conclude, then, 
that the Synoptists prepared their Gospels independ- 
ently, during the same period, in different places, 
chiefly from the living teaching of the first disciples, 
w^hich was the common property of the Church. 
Their agreement and disagreement are not the 
result of design, but of the unity, richness, and va- 
riety of the original story as received, understood, 
digested, and applied by different minds to different 
conditions and classes of hearers and readers."" 

" Schaff' s History, Vol. I., 606. For those who desire to investigate 
this subject farther, I would recommend the perusal of what is said on 
it by the following : Salmon's Introd.; Schaff's History of the Christian 
Church, Vol. I., p. 590; Westcott's Introd. to the Gospels; Article, 
''Gospels" in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. 


The Gospels — Special Introduction. 

We will now take up the study of the individual 
books composing the Gospel, in the order in which 
they stand. 


/. Cattonicity. 

The external evidence to the early existence of 
this book, and to its acceptance as a part of the 
sacred Canon, is very strong. It undoubtedly be- 
gins with the earliest Christian writings. The so- 
called Apostolic Fathers, namely ; Clement of Rome 
(96), Barnabas (106), Ignatius (115), and Eolycarp 
(116), give positive evidence not only of their ac- 
quaintance with it, but also of their acceptance of it, 
although none of them formally mention it by name. 
The Epistle to Diognetus (117) uses its language, 
and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (120) 
manifestly borrows from it. In the Teaching of the. 
Twelve Apostles (115) there are "in all four literal 
or nearly literal quotations from Matthew, and about 
eighteen references to Matthew." The Second Epis- 
tle of Clement (130) quotes a passage of it as Script- 
ure. Papias (120-130) speaks of Matthew by name, 
making the statement that ''Matthew wrote the ora- 
cles in Hebrew." This Papias was a companion of 


Polycarp and a hearer of the Apostle John. His 
statement warrants the inference that in his day 
there was an authoritative Greek Gospel according 
to Matthew. Justin Martyr (145) indubitably used 
all four Gospels, for he speaks of the '' memoirs of 
the Apostles which are called Gospels." It is also 
to be noted in regard to Justin that the great mass 
of the citations he makes are from Matthew. Tatian 
(150), the pupil of Justin Martyr, made a harmonic 
arrangement of the Gospels in Syriac. 

There are also unmistakable references to and 
coincidences with this Gospel in the writings of cer- 
tain early heretics and heretical sects, among whom 
were the Simonians (100-120), and Basilides (125) 
and Valentinus (140). In the Clementine Homilies 
(c 150) there are at least eighteen references to pecul- 
iar and characteristic passages of Matthew. Clau- 
dius Apollinaris (175) speaks of Matthew by name. 
Dionysius of Corinth (148-176), Hegesippus (157-176), 
and Athenagoras (177) in their writings made allu- 
sions to this book, Dionysius mentioning Matthew's 
name. It is universally admitted that Irenseus 
(175), Tertullian (190), and Clement of Alexandria 
(195), as well as all succeeding Christian writers, 
cite the First Gospel as Matthew's and as of divine 

In all there are twenty-one witnesses before the 

end of the second century to the existence and use 

of Matthew. And this testimony' comes from all 

parts of the Church without an exception. Of such 

a character is this volume of testimony that it is 

sufficient to establish the canonical authority of the 




II. Authorship. 

In this book there is nothing to indicate its au- 
thor. "The author does not personally come for- 
ward, nor does he give us any hints as to who he 
is, or what his circumstances are." Tradition, how- 
ever, unanimously assigns this book to Matthew the 
Apostle. This man is also called Levi, the son of 
Alphaeus (Mark 2 : 14). All three of the Synoptists 
relate the call of Matthew by the Saviour in the 
same way, except that while Matthew calls himself 
Matthew, Mark and Luke call him Levi (Matt. 9:9; 
Mark 2 : 14 ; Luke 5 : 27-29). The attempt has been 
made to prove that Matthew and Levi were different 
persons, but the agreement in language and contents 
between the passages that refer to these names is 
such as to prove that they were but different names 
of the same individual. It is noticeable that while 
Mark and Luke in their lists of the Apostles give 
the name of Matthew before that of Thomas (Mark 
3 : 18 ; Luke 6 : 15), Matthew himself gives his own 
name after it. It is also a mark of the humility of 
Matthew that in his list he appends to his name the 
words " the publican." Matthew was sitting at the 
receipt of custom, engaged in his business as a tax 
collector, when the Saviour called upon him to follow 
Him. Some time after this call, Matthew made a 
feast for Jesus, at which a number of pubHcans and 
sinners were present. No other mention is made of 
Matthew except in Acts i : 13, from which we learn 
that he still retained his place among the Apostles, 
and was with them in the upper chamber, waiting 


and praying for the promised coming of the Holy 
Spirit. As to his father Alphseus nothing is known. 
He doubtless was a different person from Alphaeus, 
the father of James the less. As there is no mention 
of Matthew's kinship to our Lord either in the New 
Testament or in tradition, we infer that there were 
two men of the name of Alphseus. 

Papias is the first person who expressly names 
Matthew as the author of one of the Gospels. To 
no other person is this book ascribed. His position 
as a publican, or tax collector, was one that brought 
him in contact with many of the people. This office 
was especially hated by the Jews, and those who 
held it were generally regarded as outcasts by their 
countrymen, although Matthew and Zacchaeus seem 
to have been men of good qualities, and were not- 
able exceptions to the character of the men who 
usually held this office. Matthew must certainly 
have been possessed of special qualifications for the 
apostolic office to which the Saviour called him. 
Jesus defended Himself for His associations with this 
class of people, by saying to the fault-finding Phari- 
sees, " They that are whole need not a physician, 
but they that are sick. ... I am not come to call 
the righteous, but 'sinners to repentance." The selec- 
tion of one of this class " implies that already the 
Lord was turning away from the legally righteous, 
the Pharisees, because His words found so little en- 
trance into their hearts, and was turning to those 
who, though despised as publicans and sinners, were 
nevertheless ready to receive the truth. Unable to 
draw the priests into His service, He calls fishermen ; 


and what He cannot accomplish because of the un- 
belief of Pharisees, He will do through the faith of 

Tradition busies itself with Matthew's name, send- 
ing him to various places, such as Parthia, Persia, 
and Ethiopia. Upon none of these traditions, how- 
ever, can we positively rely, and we have no certain 
knowledge of his movements after Pentecost. He 
probably lived for a good many years after that event, 
for the words in his Gospel imply that considerable 
time had elapsed since the resurrection of our Lord 
(28:15). "If the first feeling on reading these 
meagre particulars be disappointment, the second 
will be admiration for those who, doing their duty 
under God in the great work of founding the Church 
on earth, have passed away to their Master in heaven 
without so much as an effort to redeem their names 
from silence and oblivion." 

///. — Language in which Originally Written. 

This is a difficult question, one on which prominent 
scholars are very much divided. Papias tells us that 
" Matthew wrote the oracles in the Hebrew dialect." 
Irenaeus writes, " Matthew among the Jews did also 
publish a Gospel in writing in their own language." 
Eusebius informs us that Pantsenus was reported to 
have found in India copies of '' the Gospel of Mat- 
thew which was written in Hebrew." Origen's tes- 
timony is that "the first (Gospel) was written by 
Matthew, once a publican, afterwards an Apostle of 
Jesus Christ, who delivered it to the Jewish believers, 
composed in the Hebrew language." Jerome's testi- 

1 Andrew's Life of Our Lord, p. 238. 



mony seems at first sight to be final and to settle 
this matter, for he says, " Matthew . . . first of all 
wrote a Gospel of Christ in Judea in the Hebrew 
language and letters, for the sake of those of the 
circumcision who believed : who afterwards trans- 
lated it into Greek is uncertain. Moreover the very 
Hebrew Gospel is in the library at Caesarea, which 
was collected with great care by Pamphilus the 
martyr. With the leave of the Nazarenes who live 
at Beroea in Syria, and use that volume, I took a 

Apparently these positive statements ought to 
settle this matter. But we have no Matthew now 
except in Greek. What has become of the Hebrew 
original of which all these writers speak so freely } 
And what is the relation of this original Hebrew 
Matthew to our Greek Matthew } This latter ques- 
tion is answered by some, who say that Matthew 
himself before his death made a free Greek transla- 
tion of his own original Hebrew Gospel ; while 
others affirm that some unknown person made the 
translation into Greek, which soon supplanted the 
original Hebrew. Jerome tells us that "who after- 
wards translated it into Greek is uncertain." 

There are, however, some strong arguments to be 
advanced in favor of a Greek original rather than a 
Hebrew, (i.) The . Hebr£w__original_^^ 
many speak was never seen„by._any oae of the. w;it- 
nesses. . Even Jerome, who professes to have made a 
translation of it, in all probability made a mistake, 
having confounded an apocryphal Gospel called 
" The Nazarene Gospel," or " The Gospel according 
to the Hebrews," with the so-called Hebrew original 


of Matthew. ** As time went on he certainly be- 
came more cautious about asserting, and usually 
quotes it as * The Gospel written in the Hebrew lan- 
guage which the Nazarenes read,' and he sometimes 
adds, 'which is called by most the original of St. 
Matthew.'" Weiss says, *' His commentary on Mat- 
thew certainly shows that he was not acquainted with 
a Hebrew original of Matthew, for he never makes 
use of it for purposes of explanation." It is certainly 
curious that none of these writers give absolute 
testimony to the existence of the Hebrew original 
of which they write. With them it is all hear-say 
testimony. They all use the Greek Matthew as 
though it was the original. (2.) Our Greek Matthew 
is manifestly not a translation from the Hebrew. ** It 
is now generally admitted that our present Gospel of 
St. Matthew is not and cannot be a translation." 
Certain Hebrew (Aramaic) names are given and 
translated, as " Emmanuel, which being interpreted 
is, God with us " (i : 23) ; *' Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani, 
that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou for- 
saken me } " (27 : 46) ; " A place called Golgotha, that 
is to say, a place of a skull " (27 : 33). If our Greek 
Matthew is a translation from the Hebrew, why were 
the above Hebrew words retained in this translation } 
(3.) There is a strange confusion of Matthew with 
the so-called '* Gospel according to the Hebrews," an 
early apocryphal Gospel. That apocryphal Gospel 
was similar in certain respects and in certain parts to 
bur Matthew. This eventually led to a confusion of 
names that was not at first noticed. This is espe- 
cially noticeable in the writings of Jerome. This 


confusion probably arose in the first place with 
Papias. (4.) The early writers all usejthe^Greek 
Matthew as authoritative. And in no place can we 
fTrfd any traces of tEe existence of any Hebrew text. 
For these reasons, and others more technical that 
might be advanced, we conclude that, despite the 
apparently strong testimony the other way, Matthew 
wrote his Gospel originally^ in Greek, and not in He- 
brew or Aramaic. This seems to be the verdict of 
an increasing number of scholars. 

IV. The Purpose of the Gospel. 

As each of the Evangelists evidently had some 
definite purpose in the composition of his memoir of 
the life of our Lord, we naturally ask, What purpose 
did Matthew have in mind in the composition of his 
Gospel } The answer to this question is at hand. 
From the earliest days it has been held without any 
dissent, that Matthew wrote especially for Jewish 
Christians. That he does not write chronologically 
is very evident when we compare his Gospel with 
either Mark or Luke. Matthew groups sayings and 
events. He does not write a history, but an his- 
torical argument^ in which he strives to confirm the 
Jewish Christians in their belief that Jesus Christ^was 
the Messiah of Old Testament type and prophecy. 
Beginning by giving the legal ancestry of Jesus 
through His reputed father Joseph, he proves that 
He was the Son of David, the Son also of Abraham. 
Thus he gives at the very outset the documentary 
proof that Jesus was the legal heir of David and of 
the seed of Abraham. " In short the great object 


of the Apostle was to prove to Jewish readers, that 
the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament re- 
ceived their accomplishment in Jesus of Nazareth ; 
to demonstrate that Jesus had shown Himself by His 
doctrine and His deeds to be the seed of David, the 
Messiah long expected by the Jewish nation."^ 

In the line of this purpose, the Evangelist care- 
fully notes some of the prophecies that had been 
fulfilled in the case of Jesus. Thus Jesus was born 
of a virgin (i : 23), as Isaiah had foretold. His birth 
took place at Bethlehem (2 : 5-6) in accordance with 
Micah's words. Persecutions arose so that His par- 
ents were driven into Egypt, and thus Hosea's 
prophecy that "out of Egypt have I called my 
son," was fulfilled (2 : 15). Christ dwelt in Nazareth 
"that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the 
prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene " (2:23). 
He had a forerunner as Isaiah had predicted (3 : 3) 
Jesus left Nazareth and dwelt in Capernaum in ac- 
cordance with the words of Isaiah (4 : 13-16). Isaiah 
had also said, " Himself took our infirmities and bare 
our sicknesses," and consequently Christ was found 
healing the sick and doing deeds of mercy wher- 
ever He went (8 : 17). And still another of the 
same prophet's words is claimed to have been ful- 
filled in Christ (12:15-21). His parabolic teaching 
was in harmony with prophecy (13 : 14, 35). As 
Zechariah had prophesied, Christ came into Jeru- 
salem sitting upon an ass and a colt the foal of an 
ass (21 : 5). Jesus was betrayed, as it was written of 
Him (26 : 24). His capture in the garden of Geth- 
semane was accomplished "that the scripture of the 

» Davidson's Introd. to the N. T., ist Ed., p. 3. 


prophets might be fulfilled" (26:56). And the pot- 
ter's field was purchased with the blood money, as 
Jeremiah the prophet had said (27 : 9). 

That those for whose instruction and benefit Mat- 
thew primarily wrote were J ews^ is thus borne out by 
the manner in which the Old Testament is used. 
The general Jewish cast of the matter is also in the 
same direction. There is a thorough acquaintance 
with Jewish customs manifested, that the writer as- 
sumes to be in common between himself and those 
for whom he wrote. And since the author and his 
readers occupied common ground, he does not pre- 
tend to explain ceremonial terms and customs, as 
the other Evangelists feel compelled to do. 

From all this it is evident that the author wrote 
his Gospel with special reference to the needs of his 
fellow Jewish Christians, and to confirm them in 
the 1 r^falth' tHat' Tesus C h r i s t was t he Messiah of Old 

Testament type and prophecy and promise. 
V, The Contents of this Gospel. 

I. The Genealogical Table, i : 1-17. 
II. The Birth and Infancy of Jesus, i : 18-2 : 23. 

III. Circumstances preparatory to His Public 

Ministry. 3 : 1-4 : 11. 

IV. The Galilean Ministry. 4 : 12-18 : 35. 

V. The Journey to Jerusalem. 19 : 1-20 : 34. 
VI. The Residence in and about Jerusalem. 

21 : 1-25 146. 
VII. The last Passover, including the Betrayal, 
the Denial, the Trial, and the Crucifixion. 
26 : 1-27 : 66. 
VIII. The Resurrection. 28 : 1-20. 


VI. The Date and Place of Composition. 

It is impossible to determine exactly the date of 
the composition of this Gospel, and we can only- 
hope to approximate it. The testimony of the early 
Church is that Matthew wrote his Gospel before the 
other Evangelists composed theirs. This testimony 
is so persistent and unanimous that it ought to have 
some weight in deciding this question. That it was 
written before the destruction of Jerusalem and the 
temple, is evident. On the other hand, it is also cer- 
tain that considerable time must have elapsed be- 
tween certain events and the description of them by 
Matthew (27:7-8; 28:15). Luke very probably 
wrote his Gospel during the Caesarean imprisonment 
of Paul, that is, from 58-60 A. D. Irenaeus informs 
us that this Gospel was written while Peter and 
Paul were founding the church at Rome. But it is 
highly improbable that Peter was in Rome before 
the year 6% A. D., and consequently we cannot ac- 
cept the statement of Irenc-eus in this matter. Now 
if this Gospel was written before Luke, it must have 
been written some time before 58 A. D. Some have 
placed the time of its composition as early as 34 A. D., 
but that is unquestionably too early. We are doubt- 
less correct in dating it between 50 A. D._and 58 A. D. 

The place of composition was evidently Judea, for 
such is the uniform testimony of antiquity, and 
everything in the book itself harmonizes with this. 
Whether it was written at Jerusalem cannot cer- 
tainly be known, although it is generally supposed 
that it was composed in the holy city. By some it 
has been thought very probable that it was written 


by Matthew as he was about to leave the city of 
Jerusalem for some point outside of Judea. 

VIL The Peculiarities of this Gospel, 

The peculiarities of Matthew are very marked. 
One noticeable feature is the frequency with which 
the Old Testament is quoted by him, there being no 
less than sixty-five passages that refer to it, of which 
forty-three are verbal citations. Christ is called ''the 
Son of David" eight times. The phrase "kingdom 
of heaven " is used in thirty-three different places, 
while the other Evangelists uniformly say ** kingdom 
of God." God is called the '* heavenly Father" six 
times, and the '* Father in heaven" sixteen times. 
There are some seventy words used by Matthew 
that are peculiar to himself, being found nowhere 
else in the New Testament. The indefinite particle 
of transition (tote) is used by him ninety times, 
while Mark uses it only six times, and Luke fourteen 

''The symbolism is Jewish. Not to speak of 
other examples, the symbolism in number pervades 
the Gospel. Seven, ten, twelve, with their multiples 
repeatedly appear. The genealogies are arranged in 
three fourteens. There are fourteen parables divided 
by place and purpose into two sevens. There are 
twenty miracles separated in like manner into two 
tens. The number seven generally divides itself into 
four and three, the human and the divine. In the 
Sermon on the Mount, the Christian character is 
sketched in seven beatitudes (5 : 1-9). Of these the 
first four are exclusively human — they are states 
which Christ cannot share ; the last three express 


emotions and conduct which belong to God as well 
as to man. In the thirteenth chapter seven parables 
present the kingdom of heaven in various relations. 
The first four are from the human side, accidental, 
temporary, varying — the kingdom in its historical 
development, as man beholds it ; the last three are 
inherent, essential — the kingdom as seen by Christ. 
The Lord's prayer has seven petitions ; the first 
three relating to God, co-ordinate, coequal ; the 
last four relating to man, joined by particles of se- 

This has been called the '* kingly Gospel," for it 
is the Gospel that presents the Messianic King. Its 
teaching, for it is eminently didactic, revolves around 
the kingship of Christ. Mark in his Gospel deals 
more with the facts and incidents of Christ's life, 
but Matthew emphasizes His teaching. Matthew 
portrays Christ " as the King who has come to the 
eternal throne of His father David." And it is fit- 
ting that this Gospel should come first, as the true 
link that connects the Old Testament with the New. 
"The long and chequered history related in the Old 
Testament finds its consummation and significance 
in the life of Jesus." Very fittingly, then, does this 
kingly Gospel stand first in the New Testament as 
its bond of union with the Old Testament. 

/. Canonicity. 
Owing to the fact that this Gospel contains com- 
paratively little distinctive matter, we do not find 
many quotations from it in the early Christian writ- 

3 Lectures on the N. T. (Amer. Tract Soc). Dr. Weston on 


ings. But while this is true in general, we do not 
lack for sufficient witnesses to establish its right to 
a place in the New Testament Canon. Clement of 
Rome (96) directly quotes Mark 7 : 6.* In Eusebius' 
history we have a quotation from the writings of 
Papias (120-130), in which he informs us that Mark 
as ''the interpreter of Peter wrote exactly whatever 
he remembered." There is no doubt that Papias in 
these words refers to our canonical Mark, for no 
other book of Mark's was known to antiquity. In 
regard to Justin Martyr (145) ''all doubt of his ac- 
quaintance with it is excluded by the account of the 
naming of Zebedee's sons (Mark 3 : 16 fiQ, which is 
expressly traced back to the Memoirs of Peter, i. e. 
to the Gospel of Mark."^ Extant fragments from 
the writings of Ptolemaeus (165) conclusively prove 
that he used Mark. The Muratori Canon (i/o) in 
its present fragmentary condition begins abruptly, 
. . . '' those things at which he was present he placed 
thus. The third book of the Gospel, that according 
to Luke. . . . The fourth Gospel is that of John." 
It certainly is not unreasonable to infer that the lost 
part, referring to the first and second books of the 
Gospel, named Matthew and Mark as such. We can 
justly claim this Canon as a witness to the existence 
of Mark as well as of Matthew. 

The great writers of the latter part of the second 
century, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alex- 
andria, discuss the relation of Mark to Peter, and 
they do this in a way that shows that this Gospel 
was received in all quarters of the Church. Up to 
the latter part of the second century we have at least 

* Clement of Rome. 15.2. 

5 Weiss' Manual of Introd. to the N. T., p. 59. 


ten Important witnesses to the existence and use of 
Mark as authoritative. These witnesses are from all 
parts of the Church, and are sufficient to establish 
the canonical authority of the book. 

//. Authorship. 

The book itself makes no claim as to its author- 
ship, but the early Church without a dissenting 
voTceaffii-rried'thaf "Mark was its author. The origi- 
riar Jewish name of the author was John, to which 
was added afterwards the Roman name Marcus, or 
Mark. In the Acts (12:12, 25; 15:37) we read, 
"John, whose surname was Mark." He is called 
John (Acts 13: 13), and Mark (Acts 15 :39; 2 Tim. 
4:11), and Marcus (Col. 4:10; Philem. 24; i Pet. 
5 : 13). It is evident that the Jewish name John was 
ere long discarded, for in the Epistles he always 
appears as Mark. 

Mark was a Jew. His mother, whose name was 
Mary, owned a house in Jerusalem, indicating a meas- 
ure of wealth in the family (Acts 12:12). Barnabas, 
the companion of Paul on the first missionary jour- 
ney, was the cousin of Mark^ (Col. 4:10, R. v.). 
The Apostle Peter calls Mark his son (i Pet. 5 : 13), 
but he unquestionably does so in the same sense that 
Paul calls Timothy his son. When Peter was cast 
into prison by Herod Agrippa (44 A. D.), the believ- 
ers were gathered at the house of Mark's mother 
praying for the Apostle's deliverance. And when 
he was released by the angel, Peter naturally turned 
to that rendezvous of the Christians. Evidently 
there was a degree of familiarity existing between 

^ Incorrectly rendered "sister's son " in the A, V. 


the two families. It was through the influence of 
Peter that Mark was brought to Christ, thus becom- 
ing Peter's spiritual son. 

It is this Gospel that records the fact that at the 
time of the arrest of Christ, " there followed him a 
certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about 
his naked body ; and the young men laid hold on 
him : and he left the linen cloth, and fled from them 
naked" (14:51-52). It has been inferred that this 
nameless young man was none other than the author 
of this Gospel. '' The most probable view is that 
St. Mark suppressed his own name, whilst telling a 
story which he had the best means of knowing. 
Awakened out of sleep, or just preparing for it in 
some house in the valley of Kedron, he comes out 
to see the seizure of the betrayed Teacher, known to 
him and in some degree beloved already. He is so 
deeply interested in His fate that he follows Him 
even in his linen robe. His demeanor is such that 
some of the crowd are about to arrest him ; then, 
fear overcoming shame, he leaves his garment in 
their hands and flees. We can only say that if the 
name of Mark is supplied, the narrative receives its 
most probable explanation."'' 

It was through his cousin Barnabas that Mark 
was brought in contact with Paul. And when Paul 
and Barnabas were returning to Antioch, having 
delivered the offering of the Antiochene Christians 
to the church at Jerusalem, Mark accompanied them 
(Acts 12 : 25). Not long afterwards Paul and Barna- 
bas went forth on their first missionary journey, in 
accordance with divine direction, Mark accompany- 
7 Article *' Mark " in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 


ing them as their "minister." In this association 
with these two great missionaries Mark's office 
probably had reference to temporal rather than 
spiritual duties. It may have been his business to 
provide for the needs of the others, arranging all 
matters connected with their traveling and such 
like. But when the band came to Perga in Pam- 
phylia, Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. 
This departure of Mark must have caused some 
little trouble and annoyance to the missionaries. 
And when the same two workers were about to go 
forth on their second missionary journey, ** Barna- 
bas determined to take with them John, whose sur- 
name was Mark. But Paul thought not good to 
take him with them, who had departed from them 
from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the 
work." And so sharp did this contention become 
that the missionaries parted company, each one 
taking the man of his own choice. 

What was the cause of this defection of Mark } 
Two different answers have been suggested for this 
question. It has been noted that Mark's family lived 
in comfortable circumstances in Jerusalem. When 
Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas, he had to 
leave the comforts of that home behind him ; but in 
his new zeal he may not have thought much of the 
sacrifice he was making. And with no less enthu- 
siasm he must have gone forth with the missionaries 
on their first journey, probably also feeling highly 
honored that he was the person chosen to accompany 
them as their minister. But the ** romance of mis- 
sions " soon wore off. He found the life of the mis- 
sionary attended with discomfort and danger, and so 


by the time he had reached Perga he had had enough 
of it. Homesickness overcame him, and he went 
home to Jerusalem. The other explanation that has 
been offered is as follows : Mark was not prepared to 
go the lengths in preaching among the Gentiles that 
Paul and Barnabas advocated. Tinctured with 
Judaic-Christian feelings, he could not accept and 
endorse the idea of a universal offer of salvation 
conditioned on faith alone. Which of these ideas 
is correct cannot be absolutely decided. It is 
probable that the truth lies in a combination of 
the two. 

After this incident, we do not meet the name of 
Mark in the Acts again, but both Paul and Peter 
refer to him afterwards in some of their letters. 
From the reference to him by Paul, it appears that 
he had in some way won back the regard and confi- 
dence of that great Apostle, and had become profit- 
able to him for the ministry (2 Tim. 4: 11). Mark 
was with Paul during a part of the first Roman im- 
prisonment (Col. 4 : 10 ; Philemon 24). When the 
Apostle wrote his Epistle to the Colossians in 62 A. D., 
Mark was planning for a journey to Asia Minor, for 
Paul writes, ** If he come unto you receive him." 
And when Paul wrote his Second Epistle to Timothy 
in 67 A. D., Mark was in Asia Minor not far from 
Timothy, for Paul enjoins Timothy, " Take Mark, and 
bring him with thee : for he is profitable to me for 
the ministry," 

Turning now to Peter, we find that Mark was with 

him in 64 A. D., when he wrote his First Epistle from 

Babylon. It is evident that Mark, having gone to 

Asia Minor as he contemplated in 62 A. D., continued 



his journey and joined Peter at Babylon. When Paul 
wrote his Second Epistle to Timothy, Mark had re- 
turned to Asia Minor and was somewhere in the 
neighborhood of Ephesus, hence Paul's injunction to 
Timothy to bring him with him to Rome. There is 
no possibility of telling how much of the time be- 
tween 63 and 67 A. D. was spent by Mark in the 
company of Peter. 

Tradition busies itself with the name of Mark, but 
of all it reports we cannot tell what to accept and 
what to reject. Among other things it is said that 
Mark was sent by Peter to Egypt. Jerome tells us 
that he founded the church at Alexandria, Egypt, 
and afterwards became its bishop. His death was a 
violent one, and his tomb became an object of ven- 
eration. It is said also that in the year 815 A. D., 
some Venetian sailors stole his relics, and took them 
to Venice, where they were buried under the site of 
the stately cathedral that bears the name of Mark, 
and thus he became the patron saint of the Venetian 

///. The Purpose of this Gospel. 

The purpose of this Evangelist was evidently to 
portray the life of Christ on its human side. In 
accordance with this purpose he deals rather with 
the facts of the life of the Saviour than with His 
teachings. This memoir of Jesus tells us **how God 
anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and 
with power : who went about doing good, and heal- 
ing all that were oppressed of the devil ; for God was 
with Him " (Acts 10 : 38). '' The man Christ Jesus-is 
the sole and unchanging theme of the whole book." 


And if 2 Peter 1:15 was the promise of a Gospel 
record, and if this Gospel was the fulfillment of that 
promise, we naturally look for a setting forth of the 
facts of the Gospel history in it. And this is exactly 
what we do find in it. 

As to the persons for whom it was primarily in- 
tended, we are safe in affirming that they were 
Gentiles and not Jews. Jewish rites and ceremonies 
are always explained whenever the author refers to 
them. And this is also true of the locations that are 
described, for they are specified in such a way that it is 
evident that the writer has in mind persons who were 
outside of Judea, and who were not personally ac- 
quainted with that country. Tradition affirms that 
Mark wrjote_his_ Gospel for the Romans. There is 
little reason for doubting that Mark wrote this 
Gospel in Rome . It was natural that he should be 
influenced largely by the needs of the type of Chris- 
tians by whom he was surrounded. In its brief, 
rapid, and concise statement of the facts of the life 
of Christ, it was peculiarly adapted to the Roman 
character. The Roman influence on this Gospel is 
manifest in the presence in it of Latin words. We 
may conclude, then, that the tradition that it was 
intended in the first place for Roman Christians is 
correct, although the Evangelist may have also in- 
tended it for a wider sphere than that, writing a 
Gospel of facts for men of action wherever found. 
There is no question that from the time of the burn- 
ing of the city of Rome in 64 A. D., the Christians of 
that city had been scattered far and wide by the 
fierce persecutions of Nero. This would naturally 
widen the field for this Gospel. 


IV. Contents of this Gospel. 

I. The work of John the Baptist, preparatory to 

Christ's Public Ministry, i : 1-13. 
II. The Galilean Ministry with Capernaum as the 
center of its operations, i : 14-9 : 50. 

III. The last journey to Jerusalem. 10 : 1-52. 

IV. The closing scenes of Christ's life. 11 :i- 

V. Later addition by another hand than Mark's. 
16 :9-20. 

V. Date and Place of Composition. 

Rome was unquestionably the place of the com- 
position of this Gospel. The date is not quite so 
easily settled. It is certain that it was not written 
before the Epistle to the Colossians, for otherwise 
Paul would not have referred to Mark simply as the 
cousin of Barnabas (Col. 4 : 10). On the other hand, 
it must have been written before the destruction of 
Jerusalem (Mark 13 : 13 ff.). This places the time of 
its composition sometime between 62 and 70 A. D. 

Mark is called *' the disciple and interpreter of 
Peter." We are informed by Clement of Alexandria 
that the Christians of Rome having heard the preach- 
ing of Peter, besought Mark to write out the things 
that were prominent in Peter's preaching. Irenseus 
tells us that '* Matthew wrote a Gospel while Peter 
and Paul were preaching the gospel at Rome and 
founding a church there. And after their decease 
(exodus), Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, 
delivered to us in writing the things that had been 
preached by Peter." From this statement, as well as 


from a careful comparison of this Gospel with the 
recorded speeches and the writings of Peter, it is 
evident that this Gospel does contain the facts in the 
life of the Saviour that were made especially promi- 
nent by Peter. 

In 2 Peter i : 15 we read, "Moreover I will en- 
deavor that ye may be able after my decease (exo- 
dus) to have these things always in remembrance." 
Here is a promise by Peter, writes Dr. Warfield, 
'* that he will see to it that his readers shall be in a 
position after his death to have his teachings always 
in remembrance, and in this he has especial reference 
to the facts of Christ's life, witnessed to by him, as is 
proved by the purpose which he expresses for so 
arranging, namely, that they may know that they 
have not followed cunningly devised fables, but facts 
autoptically witnessed. Surely this seems to promise 
a Gospel." It is interesting to note that Peter speaks 
of his decease (Gk. exodus), after which this was to 
be done ; while Irenseus uses the same word in this 
peculiar sense of death, and tells us that after Peter's 
and Paul's decease (exodus), Mark delivered, etc. 
This can be no inadvertent coincidence. Irenaeus 
had Peter's word and promise before him as he 
wrote, hence he uses this word in this peculiar sense.* 

8 In the account of the Transfiguration as given in Luke 9 : 28 ff., 
we are informed that when Moses and Elijah talked with Jesus, they 
"spake of His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem." 
Here the word "exodus" is used, and it was doubtless from this place 
Peter got this word, for immediately afterwards he speaks of the Trans- 
figuration (2 Peter i : 16 f ). Peter wrote with that scene before him, 
using the word he heard then for death. So Irenseus in all probability 
had in mind this passage of Peter when he spoke of the circumstances 
under which Mark wrote his Gospel. 


If this idea is correct, then, the date of this Gos- 
pel must be placed after that of Second Peter. It is 
evident that Peter, when he wrote his Second Epistle 
in 68 A. D., was looking forward to death in a short 
time. Mark wrote his Gospel accordingly soon 
afterwards, and consequently we date it during the 
Summer of 68 A. D. 

VI. The Connection between Mark and Peter. 

It has already been noted that Mark was called 
"the disciple and interpreter of Peter." *' The char- 
acter of the Gospel itself coincides with the testi- 
mony of antiquity, in inferring a connection between 
the writer and Peter. Thus we find especial refer- 
ence to the latter, by the insertion of his name 
where no reason for it can be discovered in the 
event related, and where no light is thrown by it 
on the event itself His presence is marked in the 
Gospel, where the recording of it is apparently of 
no importance, and might have been omitted with 
equal propriety. Doubtless this peculiarity was 
owing to a desire, on the part of Mark, to bring out 
the Apostle into preeminence as his authority, while 
it evinces an intimate knowledge of the circum- 
stances respecting Peter, unnoticed by the other 
Evangelists. Examples of this are furnished by 
chap. I : 36, where Simon is mentioned as being with 
Jesus, a circumstance omitted by Luke. In the ac- 
count of the raising of Jairus' daughter, Peter, John, 
and James are mentioned as the only witnesses of 
the occurrence, whereas in Matthew's Gospel there 
is no allusion to them (5 : 37)."^ Other examples of 

* Davidson's Introd. ist Ed., Vol. I., p. 145. 


this same feature may be found in ii 120-26 ; 13 : 3 ; 


On the other hand it should be noted that Mark 
omits several references to Peter given by the other 
Evangelists. The promise made to the Apostles in 
answer to the question of Peter is unnoticed (Matt. 
19 : 28). And although he was one of the disciples 
sent to prepare for the observance of the Passover, 
his name is not given by Mark. The intensity of 
Peter's repentance is expressed by the word *' bit- 
terly" in Matthew and Luke, but this word is 
omitted by Mark. ** It has been sought to account 
for these omissions on the ground of humility ; but 
some may think that this cannot be the clew in all 
places. But what we generalize from these passages 
is, that the name of Peter is peculiarly dealt with, 
added here, and there withdrawn, which would be 
explained if the writer had special information about 
Peter. On the whole the internal evidence inclines 
us to accept the account that this inspired Gospel 
has some connection with Peter, and records more 
exactly the preaching which he, guided by the Spirit 
of God, uttered for the instruction of the world." 

VII. The Integrity of this Gospel. 

A very interesting question comes up in regard to 
the last twelve verses of the last chapter. Did Mark 
write these verses.? The bulk of scholarships* has 
decided this question in the negative. They "are 
generally regarded as an appendix by an unknown 
hand. The best textual critics reject them. They 

I*' Tregelles, Meyer, Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, Warfield and 


are not found in the Sinaitic and Vatican Manu- 
scripts. The internal evidence is strongly against 
their reception. The repetition of ' early ' (ver. 9, cf. vr. 
2) is needless ; the word for ' week ' is never elsewhere 
used by Mark. The addition ' out of whom He cast 
seven devils,' to Mary Magdalene's name is quite un- 
accountable, as she has been already named in this 
chapter as well as previously in the Gospel; 'the 
Lord ' occurs twice in these verses, never elsewhere 
in Mark ; other words and constructions occurring in 
this passage are unknown to Mark. The promises 
made to believers and the general character of the 
paragraph are suspicious." 

It is true that to end this Gospel at 16:8 is very 
abrupt, but this disputed section does not remedy 
this abruptness very much. The Revisers of the 
New Testament show plainly that they regarded the 
passage with suspicion, for they have separated it 
somewhat from the preceding text. Why the work 
of Mark was left thus unfinished, we cannot tell. 
"We can only say that the termination has been 
somehow tampered with, and that the difficulties 
connected with it have not yet been satisfactorily 
solved." It is not altogether improbable that Mark 
was compelled to flee from Rome, leaving his Gospel 
in this unfinished condition. 

VIII. The Peculiarities of this Gospel. 

This is peculiarly the Gospel of fact and action. 
It does not deal with the words of Christ, so much 
as with His actions. It does not contain any long 
discourses of the Saviour. The style is abrupt, and 
it seems at times as though the writer could not hasten 


along fast enough. The Greek particle translated 
" forthwith," or " immediately," or " straightway," 
is used over forty times. The other Evangelists 
make their transitions more easily, but Mark with 
an " immediately " dashes on to relate some other 
event in the wonderful life of the man Christ Jesus. 
Mark unfolds the truth more in acts than in words. 
He *' frames a series of pictures." 

Another characteristic is the way in which Mark at 
times dwells upon little particulars, — as with a stroke 
of the pen he gives us a word picture of some action or 
look of the Saviour, — and thus gives us a new insight 
into the gracious manner of Christ. " At one time 
we find a minute touch which places the whole scene 
before us ; at another an accessory circumstance, 
such as often fixes itself on the mind without appear- 
ing at the first sight to possess any special interest. 
Now there is a phrase which reveals the feeling of 
those who were the witnesses of some mighty work ; 
now a word which preserves some trait of the 
Saviour's tenderness or some expressive turn of His 
language."" Dr. J. P. Lange writes,^^ "From the 
pages of Mark we gather how, at the time, Jesus 
touched every chord of feeling in the souls of the 
people — amazement, fear, confidence, hope, joy, de- 
light ; and He adapted His power to the varying 
states of emotion, whether by reproof, healing, or 
sanctification. The rapidity with which the Saviour 
achieved such immense results ; the impetuous en- 
thusiasm which characterized that day's work in 
which He pervaded the world with the power and 

"Westcott's Introd. to the Study of the Gospels, p. 365. 
^ Lange's Commentary on Mark. Introd. 


efficacy of His name ; and the victorious strength 
with which he triumphed over the bondage of the 
world and the sorrows of the grave, and rose to the 
throne of glory, are here represented as the grand 
characteristics of the Divine Redeemer, who accom- 
plishes His work of redemption by a series of rapid 

Mark unrolls the short public ministry of our 
Lord in a series of bold life-pictures given in rapid 
succession. He begins with the ministry of John the 
Baptist. He takes no time to explain and reveal the 
inside. He dwells on the outward aspect of that won- 
derful Personality as it struck the multitude. 

/. Canonicity. 

We do not find any certain quotations from this 
book in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, al- 
though some think that there are echoes of its lan- 
guage in Clement of Rome (96), Barnabas (106), and 
Hermas (140-150). Of these, however, there is room 
for doubt. When we come to Marcion (130) we find 
ourselves on solid ground. Marcion was a heretic, 
who was intense in his opposition to anything Jewish. 
' He summarily rejected the Old Testament, and formed 
a Canon of his own. Into this Canon he admitted ten 
of the Pauline Epistles, since he regarded Paul as the 
only true Apostle, as well as a Gospel that he entitled 
the " Gospel of Christ." It is now generally admitted 
that this Gospel was none other than a mutilated 
Luke. He altered Luke in such a way as to suit his 
own peculiar heretical notions. According to Ter- 


tullian, Cerdon, the teacher of Marcion, was acquainted 
with this book. Of Justin Martyr's (145) use of Luke 
there can be no question. Celsus, the great opponent 
of Christianity, made use of Luke in his attacks upon 
the Christian faith. Tatian's harmony (150-170) in 
Syriac included it, and it likewise was in the Syriac 
(160) and Old Latin (170) Versions. The Muratori 
Canon (170) names it as the ''third book of the Gos- 
pel." The heretics Valentinus (140) and Heracleon 
(150) used it also. And all the writers of the last 
quarter of the second century repeatedly quote it by 
name, such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of 
Alexandria. This evidence is absolutely incontro- 
vertible. There are in all sixteen witnesses distrib- 
uted all over the Church, who before the end of the 
second century, testify either directly or indirectly 
to the existence and use of Luke in the Church as 
authoritative Scripture. 

//. Authorship. 

There is but one person whose name is mentioned 
in the early Church as the author of this Gospel, and 
that is '' Luke the beloved physician." The author 
nowhere mentions his own name, although he refers 
to himself in the prefatory words of this Gospel 
(i : 3). The Muratori Canon informs us in regard to 
this book, saying, "The third book of the Gospel, 
that according to Luke, the well-known physician. 
Luke wrote in his own name in order after the ascen- 
sion of Christ, and when Paul had associated him 
with himself as one studious of right. Nor did he 
himself see the Lord in the flesh ; and he, according 
as he was able to accomplish it, began his narrative 


with the nativity of John." The fact that Marcion 
made this Gospel the foundation of his own Gospel 
presupposes that he regarded it as the work of a dis- 
ciple of Paul, because of the other fact that he re- 
garded Paul as the only true Apostle. 

Luke was a Gentile, for in Col. 4:11, 14, he is con- 
trasted with the Jewish Christians. Tradition affirms 
that he was a native of Syrian AntipchrTTe "was a 
physician (Col. 4 : 14), and this fact is borne out by 
the scientific way in which he refers to diseases. 
" We recognize the physician by the minute accuracy 
with which he describes certain diseases, and find, 
from other remarks, that the physician was at the 
same time an excellent psychologist. 4 : 38 ; 22 143, 
44, 51, may be cited as proofs of the former ; while in 
9 : 54-61 ; 18 : 34 ; 23 : 12 ; 24 : 41, we find significant 
hints of his insight into the mysteries of human na- 
ture. "^^ Godet writes: *' The circumstance that his 
profession was that of a physician is not unimpor- 
tant ; for it implies that he must have possessed a cer- 
tain amount of scientific knowledge, and belonged to 
the class of educated men. There existed at Rome in 
the time of the Emperors a medical supervision ; a 
superior college was charged with the duty of exam- 
ining in every city those who desired to practice the 
healing art. Newly admitted men were placed under 
the direction of older physicians ; their methods of 
treatment were strictly scrutinized and their mistakes 
severely punished, sometimes by taking away their 
diploma. For these reasons^ Luke must have pos- 
sessed an amount of scientific and literary culture 

12 Van Oosterzee in the Lange Commentary on Luke. See also Ho- 
bart's Medical Language of St. Luke. 


above that of most of the other Evangelists and 


Luke's name appears but three times in all in the 
New Testament (Col. 4 : 14 ; Philemon 24 ; 2 Tim. 4 : 
11). Assuming what is now generally admitted, that 
Luke wrote the Acts, we can from that book add 
materially to our stock of knowledge concerning the 
man. At Acts 16 : 10 the author of that book became 
a companion of Paul on the second missionary jour- 
ney. It is evident from the way in which he thus 
joined the missionaries at Troas, that he had been a 
Christian for some time. As already noted, tradition 
makes Luke a native of Syrian Antioch, and it may 
be that it was there he became acquainted with Paul, 
possiblywas a convert of his. The sickness that had 
detained Paul in Galatia (Gal. 4 : 13) had occurred 
shortly before reaching Troas, and it may have been 
because of the Apostle's need of medical attendance 
that Luke became associated with him as a member 
of the missionary band. From Troas they went to 
Philippi, where Luke remained until Paul returned 
there on his third missionary journey. A very early 
tradition identifies Luke with *' the brother whose 
praise is in the Gospel throughout the churches " (2 
Cor. 8 : 18). If this tradition is correct, although we 
cannot absolutely affirm it to be so, Luke accompanied 
Titus when he carried the Second Epistle to Corinth. 
From Philippi Luke accompanied Paul to Jerusalem, 
and he describes that journey for us in Acts 20 : 5 to 
21 : 18. Then came the two tedious years of the 
Caesarean imprisonment, during which time Luke 
probably wrote his Gospel by the side of Paul, and 

^*Godet's Commentary on Luke, Vol. I., p. 17, 


somewhat under his direction. The Evangelist was 
a companion of Paul on the eventful journey to 
Rome, and from that time until the end of the great 
Apostle's career, except during temporary absences 
when called away in the service of the Master, he 
doubtless remained with Paul, faithfully and heroically 
sharing his sufferings and trials. 

Luke disclaims having been an eye-witness of the 
life of Christ (i : 2). The tradition that he was one 
of the seventy sent out by the Saviour is unquestion- 
ably negatived by his own plain statement. It has 
been inferred by some that Luke had been a slave. 
It seems that frequently slaves were educated in the 
medical profession, so as to be able to minister to the 
needs of their masters. In accordance with this 
custom, it has been thought that Luke might have 
been the slave of Theophilus, for whose benefit this 
Gospel was primarily written. This, however, is all 
conjecture, and may or may not be true. The higher 
character of Luke's style compared with that of the 
other writers of the New Testament, as well as his 
exact knowledge of contemporary history evinced in 
his historical references, show that he was a man of 
no mean intellectual attainments. By many ties was 
he bound to Paul, who calls him " the beloved physi- 
cian," and his fellow-laborer. There is something 
pathetic in the way in which Paul informs Timothy 
"only Luke is with me." Thus not only had Luke 
the intellectual qualifications for being an Evangelist, 
but he also had those peculiar qualities of heart that 
fitted him for his position by the side of Paul. His 
constancy and devotion are remarkable, and show 
hov/ completely he had laid all the powers he pos- 
sessed on the altar of the Lord's service. 


///. The Sotirces of this Gospel. 

Luke has well been called the father of Christian 
church history. We have already noted the fact that 
he was not himself an eye-witness of the facts of 
the Gospel history. He informs us that the sources 
of his information were two-fold, namely, numerous 
fragmentary written records that were in existence, 
and the testimony of eye-witnesses. ''Many have 
taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of 
those things which are most surely believed among 
us" (i : i). These words affirm that already before 
he wrote, the attempt had been made by many per- 
sons to write out an orderly statement of the inci- 
dents of the Gospel history. Luke does not belittle 
these written records at all, but simply states the 
fact that there were such writings. These he had 
carefully collected as far as he was able. Then in 
addition to these, he had used the advantages he had 
of consulting those who " from the beginning were 
eye-witnesses, and ministers of the word." Among 
these latter we must believe was Paul, who was able 
to give the Evangelist a great deal of information. 
From these sources Luke compiled his Gospel. Nor 
can we suppose that the promised inspiration of the 
Spirit was lacking in his case. Thus with true his- 
torical instinct he tested the sources of his informa- 
tion, and, guided by the Holy Spirit, he wrote in an 
orderly manner that Theophilus might know the cer- 
tainty of those things, wherein he had been in- 

Believing that Luke wrote this book at Csesarea, 
I think that to the careful observer, there are traces 
of his having used his opportunities of thoroughly 


acquainting himself with the things he relates, as 
well as the places he describes. It is not at all 
probable that he had Matthew's Gospel before him 
as he wrote, or that he had it at all in mind when 
he refers to the accounts of events in the life of 
Christ that had been written. There are too many 
points of dissimilarity between Matthew and this 
Gospel to allow us to think that he was acquainted 
with the First Gospel. And had Paul exercised the 
influence over Luke that the early writers affirm, it 
seems certain that he would have made some state- 
ment of that fact in his preface. " The language of 
the preface is against the notion of any exclusive 
influence of St. Paul. The Evangelist, a man on 
whom the Spirit of God was, made the history of 
the Saviour's life the subject of research, and with 
the materials so obtained wrote, under the guidance 
of the Spirit that was on him, the history now before 
us."^^ At the same time the general influence of 
Pauline thought is evident throughout, in his con- 
ception of the scope of the Gospel of Christ. Thus 
with true historical instinct, and under the divine 
guidance of the Spirit, Luke wrote his Gospel. 

IV. The Object of this Gospel. 

The object Luke had in writing this book is 
clearly set forth by him in his prefatory words. He 
writes, " It seemed good to me also, having had 
perfect understanding of all things from the very 
first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent 
Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty 
of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed." 
15 Abbot on " Luke " in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 


He aims to set forth the historical foundations of 
the faith in which Theophilus believed. For this 
reason he selected his material with the needs of 
this man in view. He designed to make prominent 
the universal scope of the Gospel, presenting those 
aspects of His work that were best calculated to 
strengthen the faith of Theophilus, as well as of that 
class of persons whom he represents, namely, the 

V. For Whom Written. 

This was primarily for Theophilus, of whom we 
know absolutely nothing except that he was a Chris- 
tian, and also probably a man of rank, as indicated 
by the address, '' most excellent Theophilus." '' Mani- 
festly the Third Gospel was immediately addressed 
to the same Theophilus (Luke i : 3) to whom the Acts 
of the Apostles was addressed (Acts i : i). The name 
is Greek, meaning lover of God. Who he was can 
only be conjectured. Some have supposed from the 
meaning of the name, that it was used, not to repre- 
sent any particular person, but Christians in general ; 
others have concluded that he was an honored Greek 
with whom the Evangelist had been at some time 
intimately associated ; while most have agreed that 
he was only the representative of a large class to 
whom the Gospel had been preached, and with whom 
Luke, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, desired 
to leave it as a permanent treasure. "^^ 

That Theophilus was an existing person must be 
acknowledged. And the way in which Luke describes 
the places referred to in his Gospel, as well as in the 

**> Gregory's Why Four Gospels, p. 207. 


Acts, makes it evident that Theophilus was neither 
an inhabitant of Palestine, nor of Asia Minor, nor of 
Greece. But when he refers to places in Italy (Acts 
27:8, 12, 26) these minute descriptions are omitted. 
From this it has been inferred, and doubtless cor- 
rectly, that Theophilus " was a native of Italy, and 
perhaps an inhabitant of Rome." But it is also to be 
noted that the Church Fathers, such as Irenseus, Ori- 
gen, Gregory Nazianzen, and others, affirm that Luke 
wrote for the Greeks. This idea is not necessarily in 
conflict with the address of the preface, if we regard 
Theophilus as a representative man. The missionary 
work of Paul was almost exclusively among Greek 
speaking people, and it was natural that Luke, be- 
cause of his relation to the great Apostle, and under 
the influence of Pauline thought, should compose his 
Gospel with the needs of the Greeks in mind, although 
addressing it for personal reasons to an individual 
person. His Gospel '' was substantially that which 
he and Paul had proclaimed to the Greek world ; it 
was produced and published among Greek peoples ; 
and while addressed formally to Theophilus, it was 
really written for the Greeks as representing the 
Gentile world, and suited to commend Jesus to them 
as their Saviour."" A close examination of the lead- 
ing features of this book fully bears out this idea. 

VI. The Contents of this Gospel, 

I. Prefatory Introduction, i : 1-4. 
II. An account of the time preceding Christ's 
public ministry, giving matter not found in the other 
Gospels. I : 5-2 : 52. 

17 Gregory's "Why Four Gospels, p. 210. 


III. The Galilean Ministry, in which is to be 
found much matter in common with Matthew and 
Mark. 3:1-9: 50- 

IV. The Last Journeys to Jerusalem, giving mat- 
ter principally peculiar to Luke alone. 9 : 51-18 : 14. 

V. History of events relating to the sufferings, 
death, resurrection, and ascension of the Saviour. 

VII. The Date a7id Place of Composition. 

In the Acts Luke refers to this book as "the 
former treatise," and consequently it was written 
first. The Acts was written at the close of the two 
years' imprisonment of Paul in Rome, and before the 
Apostle's release, that is, in 63 A. D. The probable 
date of the composition of the Gospel was between 
58 and 60 A. D., that is, during the Caesarean impris- 
onment. While it is impossible to affirm absolutely, 
yet Caesarea was probably the place of its composi- 
tion. We cannot separate the Gospel and the Acts 
very much in time, and accordingly we give the 
above date as the limits of the time in which the 
Gospel was written. 

VIII. The Relation of Luke to Paul. 

This has already been touched upon. We do not 
know Avhen or where these two men first came in 
contact with each other. There can be no doubt 
but that they had been friends for some time when 
Luke joined the missionary band at Troas (Acts 
16:10). And as the time passed by they became 
more closely bound together by those ties that bind 
such men to one another. Relinquishing all the 


prospects of advancement and wealth that the prac- 
tice of his profession might have secured for him, 
he, like Paul, was content to spend his life in the 
service of the Master. His Gospel, which has been 
entitled the *' Gospel of free salvation to all men," 
presents the predominant features of the Pauline 
theology, which emphasizes the gratuitousness and 
universalness of salvation. Some have thought that 
Paul when he speaks of '* my Gospel " (Rom. 2:16; 
16 : 25 ; 2 Tim. 2 : 8), refers to this Gospel, but it is 
far more probable that Paul meant the phase of the 
Gospel of Christ which he made prominent in his 
preaching, and which he dwells upon particularly in 
the Epistle to the Ephesians. But at the same time 
that expression very fittingly describes this Gospel. 
While rejecting the idea that Luke was practically 
only the amanuensis of Paul in writing this Gospel, 
and holding that Luke was truly an independent 
writer, I still believe with Davidson that *' the mind 
of the Evangelist was impregnated with the views 
and phraseology of Paul." The account of the insti- 
tution of the Lord's Supper as given by Luke and 
Paul (Luke 22 : 19, 20 ; i Cor. 11 : 24, 25) are almost 
verbally identical. "They are equally fond of words 
which characterize the freedom and universal desti- 
nation of the Gospel salvation. They have many 
terms in common which occur nowhere else in the 
New Testament. And they often meet in thought 
and expression in a way which shows both the close 
intimacy and the mutual dependence of the two 
writers." ** 

isSchafE's History of the Christian Church, Vol. I, p. 667. 


IX. The Peculiarities of this Gospel. 

Matthew begins his Gospel with the birth of 
Christ ; Mark with the ministry of John the Baptist ; 
while Luke goes back to the circumstances preced- 
ing the birth of John. He presents Christ as the 
Saviour of mankind. In the genealogical table 
(3 • 23-38) he traces the natural parentage of Jesus 
through Mary to Adam, and to God. In this way 
he ** presents Christ as the Son of man, the partaker 
of a common humanity with man, and, therefore, the 
kinsman Redeemer of the human family, without re- 
spect to national distinctions or the ancient separa- 
tion of Jews and Gentiles — the author of a common 
salvation for lost sinners everywhere — the Saviour 
of the world." He portrays for us the human growth 
of the Saviour, ''pointing out to us successively 'the 
fruit of the womb' (i 142), the 'babe' (2:16), the 
'child' (2:27), the 'boy' (2:40), the ' man ' (3 : 22)." 

Luke records a great many things about the life 
of Christ that are not found in the other Synoptists. 
His Gospel contains more history than either Matthew 
or Mark, having 38 sections, or 541 verses peculiar 
to himself, while Matthew has but 17 sections pecul- 
iar to himself, and Mark only 2. As Luke has 93 
sections in all, it is evident that more than one third 
of them are not paralleled in Matthew or Mark. 
This fact alone overturns the idea of his being de- 
pendent on either of them for any of his matter. 
And it is also to be noted that there is evidence of 
the dependence of Mark 16:9-20 on the correspond- 
ing part of Luke. Luke is also the best writer of 


Greek in the New Testament. His vocabulary is 
larger than that of any of the other writers.^^ In his 
Gospel he has 55 words, and in the Acts 135 words 
that occur nowhere else in the New Testament. The 
first two chapters are strongly tinged with Hebraisms, 
doubtless due to the sources from which they were 
obtained. Luke records thirteen parables and seven 
miracles not found in the other Gospels. He also 
furnishes the words for the grandest hymns of 
the Church, namely: the *' Ave Maria" (1:28), the 
"Magnificat" (1:46), the " Benedictus " (1:68), the 
"Gloria in Excelsis" (2 : 14), the "Nunc Dimittis" 
(2 : 29). 

Another marked feature of this book is its numer- 
ous references to contemporaneous history. To it 
more than to any other are we indebted for the data 
upon which it is possible to fix the dates of some of 
the important events of the Gospel history. He refers 
to the members of the Herodian family, the emperors 
Augustus and Tiberius, the census under the Syrian 
governor Quirinius. The most careful and critical 
investigation has been made of all these references 
of the Evangelist, with the result of demonstrating 
the true historical character of his writings. 

Canon Farrar writes of this Gospel that it " is the 
Gospel not only of children and of the Gentiles, and 
of the humble and the despised, of the blind, the 
lame, the halt, the maimed, but even of the publican 
and the harlot, the prodigal and the outcast ; not 
only of Mary, but of the Magdalene ; not only of 

^9 For further examination of the comparisons and contrasts, see 
Schaff's History, W^estcott's Introduction to the Study of the Gos- 
pels, etc. 


Zacchaeus, but of the dying thief." It is the Gospel 
that presents Jesus as the Sayiour of J;fie^orld. 


/. Canonicity. 

In regard to the use of this Gospel by the Apos- 
tolic Fathers, the words of Professor Warfield may 
be quoted : ** To take them up one by one we may 
say: First, that Polycarp (ii6) has no direct quota- 
tions from St. John's Gospel, which indeed, consider- 
ing the briefness and general character of his letter, 
is not surprising. But he has a clear reference to 
John's First Epistle ; and this implies the Gospel. 
Whoever wrote one wrote both ; nay, wrote both at 
the same time, and sent them forth together. To 
witness to one implies, therefore, a witness to both. 
Barnabas (io6) again has no direct quotations from 
St. John ; and his evidence rests on his use of John's 
vocabulary and his reiteration of John's theology. 
Clement (96) does not seem to quote John, although 
there are some very noticeable coincidences of lan- 
guage with First John. For direct quotations of 
John's Gospel we are thrown back thus on Ignatius 
(115) ; and he supplies them to us."^^ The Epistle to 
Diognetus (117) clearly refers to John 3:16. The 
Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (115) evinces an 
unmistakable correspondence of ideas and words with 
John. "The eucharistic prayers of the Teaching 
breathe a Johannean atmosphere. " ^^ The Testaments 
of the Twelve Patriarchs (120) repeatedly echoes 
John. Papias (120-130) clearly used First John, and, 

"^^ Syllabus on the Canon, printed for his students, p. 34. 
2iSchaff's Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, p. 90. 


according to Irenseus, he also quotes the Gospel. 
Among the heretics, Basilides (125) used it ; Marcion 
(130), according to TertuUian, rejected Matthew and 
John, a fact which implies their apostolic authority ; 
Valentinus (140) also used it ; Heracleon (150) wrote 
a commentary on it, which Origen quotes ; the Oph- 
ites ascribed scriptural authority to it ; and the Naas- 
senes and Peratici used it. The use of it by Justin 
Martyr (145) has been settled beyond all possibility 
of doubt. ^^ Tatian (150-170) verbally quotes i :5 and 
4 : 24, the former of which he introduces with the 
words, '' That which was spoken," proving that he 
regarded it as Scripture : while his Harmony included 
it, beginning with the opening words of this Gospel. 
Jerome informs us that Theophilus of Antioch (168- 
182) composed a work, comparing the four Gospels 
together, a fact that implies the recognition of John 
by the Church at large. Among other witnesses to 
be summoned in favor of this Gospel are Hermas 
(140-150), Melito of Sardis (170), Apollinaris (175), 
Athenagoras (177), the Letter of the Churches of 
Lyons and Vienne (177), the Muratori Canon (170), 
the Syriac (160), and Old Latin (170) Versions. By 
Irenaeus, TertuUian, and Clement of Alexandria, the 
great writers of the last quarter of the second century, 
it is freely used and quoted by name. 

There are in all at least nineteen witnesses to the 
use and recognition of John before the end of the 
second century. And against all these there is only 
one voice to be cited, and that of an insignificant 
little heretical sect, known as the Alogi, who rejected 
it because of the conflict of i : i with their peculiar 

22 Abbot's Authorship of the Fourth Gospel. 


ideas. Bleek writes : ** My conviction at least is that 
an unprejudiced consideration of the external testi- 
monies leads to the certain conclusion that our 
Fourth Gospel was recognized as a trustworthy 
authority and a genuine work in the various churches 
of Christendom before the middle of the second cent- 
ury." And the same writer, referring to the second 
century controversies, adds : " The position which 
the contending parties in all these controversies al- 
lowed to our Gospel can be historically explained 
only on the supposition that it was known and recog- 
nized as genuine in the Church at large some decades 
of years before the middle of the second century, if 
not from the very beginning of it : and this fact in 
turn can only be explained upon the supposition that 
it is a genuine and apostolic work."^^ Olshausen af- 
firms that *' the Gospel of John possesses stronger 
testimony with respect to its genuineness than per- 
haps any other writing in the New Testament, or, we 
may say, of the whole of antiquity."^* 

But no book has been as persistently assailed by 
rationalistic criticism as this one. No doubts about 
it were expressed until 1820 A. D., when the first 
assaults were made upon it. The Johannean ques- 
tion is a life and death question between conserva- 
tive and destructive criticism. *' The vindication of 
the Fourth Gospel as a genuine product of John, 
the beloved disciple, is the death blow of the myth- 
ical and legendary reconstruction and destruction 
of the life of Christ and the apostolic history." 
Rationalistic criticism has boldly proclaimed but a 

23Bleek's Introd. to the N. T., Vol. I., p. 250. 
2* Olshausen on the Gospels, Vol. III., p. 171. 


few years ago that we must date this book at not 
earlier than i6o A. D. But this verdict of rational- 
ism has been triumphantly answered by a believing 
criticism, which has repeatedly vindicated the earlier 
date it claims. Dr. Sanday has but lately written 
that it is a " serious matter for the consideration of 
the opponents of this Gospel," that " we are getting 
perilously near St. John's time, and the gap is unex- 
pectedly filling up." The same writer concludes, 
" If the inquiries which are now in progress should 
have the result which it seems very possible they 
may have, three consequences will follow : (i) The 
view which places the composition of the Gospel in 
the second century will be clearly untenable ; (2) 
it will be established that the Gospel had its origin 
in some leading Christian circle at the time and 
place which tradition assigns to it ; (3) it will be 
increasingly probable that its author was St. John." ^^ 
And we may conclude this section by the affirmation 
that despite the determined assaults of its enemies, 
there never has been a time when we could feel 
more confident than now, that this Gospel was truly 
the product of the pen of John, and that its canon- 
ical authority has been acknowledged by the Church 
in all ages.^^ 

//. The Authorship of this Gospel. 

The voice of the early Church, as soon as it begins 
to express an opinion on this subject, is unanimous 

'^Sanday in the Expositor, Dec, 1891, p. 419. 

86 On this whole subject see especially Abbot's Authorship of the 
Fourth Gospel ; Bishop Lightf oot in the Expositor, 4th Series, Vol. I. ; 
Gloag's Johannine Writings , Sanday in the Expositor, 4th Series, Vol, 
XV.; Godet's, Westcott's, Meyer's Commentaries on John, 


in asserting that it proceeded from the pen of John, 
the beloved disciple. But turning to the internal 
evidence of the book on this subject, we will find 
that there is little reason for doubting the correct- 
ness of this opinion of the Church. 

(i.) The author of this book was a Jew. This is 
proven by the fact that the author is thoroughly con- 
versant not only with the Old Testament, but also 
with Jewish usages and opinions. While the book 
was written in Greek, it is thoroughly Hebraistic in 
its general style. " The Hebraism comes out less in 
the vocabulary than in the construction of the sen- 
tences, the fondness for parallel clauses, the frequent 
repetition of the same thought, with slight modifica- 
tions of sense and form, the simple modes of conjunc- 
tion, the absence of complicated periods." ^^ 

(2.) The author was a Palestinian Jew. He 
evinces the most intimate acquaintance with the 
historical and geographical relations of the country. 
The book abounds in vividness and directness of 
descriptions, as well as in individual details in regard 
to the places referred to. Renan says of 4:1-38, 
that " only a Jew of Palestine who had often passed 
the entrance of the valley of Sichem could have 
written that." His descriptions show that he had 
personally been over the ground, evincing a minute 
acquaintance with the localities mentioned. " He 
knows thoroughly the localities of Jerusalem and of 
the Temple, as, for example, the pool of Bethesda by 
the sheep gate, with its five porches ; the pool of 
Siloam ; Solomon's porch, and the treasury in the 
Temple ; the brook Kedron ; the place of a skull, 

*7 Sanday's Authorship of the Fourth Gospel, p. 2& 


called Golgotha ; and Joseph's sepulchre in the 
garden." ^« 

(3.) The author was also an eye-witness of the 
events he describes (i : 29, 35-40 ; 2:1; 5:7; 8 : 20 ; 
9:1-7; 10:20; 18:1, et passim).^^ Indeed, he ex- 
pressly claims this (i : 14 ; ist John i : 1-4). The 
minute details in which he frequently indulges are 
the graphic descriptions of one who witnessed per- 
sonally the facts he relates. 

(4.) He was an Apostle. This is borne out by 
the fact that only one who belonged to the inner 
circle of the disciples could have been a witness of 
the things he graphically relates. '' He initiates us 
into the peculiar relations which Jesus maintained 
with each one of them, and especially loves to recall 
the striking words in which their characters or 
secret thoughts disclose themselves." ^"^ (1:38-50; 
4:31-38; 6:5-9, 70; 9:2; II : 16; 12:21, 22; 13 : 
6-9,23-25, 27-30; 14:5, 8, 22; 16:17, 18, 29, 30; 
18: 16; 20:3-8, 28.) 

Now to whom do these descriptions apply but to 
John ? The author must have been one of the favored 
three, but certainly he could not have been either 
Peter or James. He could only have been John, 
" the disciple whom Jesus loved." And that it was 
he, is also borne out by the way in which he refers 
to the Baptist. He never says John the Baptist, as 
the Synoptists do, for he does not feel the need of 
distinguishing himself from the forerunner of the 
Saviour. Thus while he holds back his own name, 

^* Gloag's Johannine Writings, p. 118. 
29Godet on John, Vol. I., p. 103 f£. 
30Godet, ib., p. 254. 


his personality is manifest throughout. There is a 
tacit claim that he is John the Apostle. Baur coolly 
informs us that the design of the author was evi- 
dently to lead the reader to believe that he was the 
Apostle John, for that was who he was. Bleek says, 
•* Our investigation has confirmed us in the steadfast 
conviction, which is unavoidably urged upon us ever 
and anon from different considerations, that this 
Fourth Gospel is really the work of St. John, the 
trusted and beloved disciple of the Lord." Dr. 
Schaff also writes, *' A review of the array of testi- 
monies, external and internal, drives us to the irresisti- 
ble conclusion that the Fourth Gospel is the work of 
John the Apostle. This view is clear, self-consistent 
and in full harmony with the character of the book 
and the whole history of the apostolic age ; while the 
hypothesis of a literary fiction and pious fraud is con- 
tradictory, absurd, and self-condemned. No writer 
in the second century could have produced such a 
marvelous book, which towers high above all the 
books of Justin Martyr and Irenaeus and Tertullian 
and Clement and Origen, or any father or schoolman 
or reformer. No writer in the first century could 
have written it but an Apostle, and no Apostle but 
John, and John himself could not have written it 
without divine inspiration."^^ 

John's parents were Zebedee (Mark i : 19) and 
Salome (Mark 15:40 cf. Matt. 27:56). Their cir- 
cumstances in life were comfortable. Zebedee had 
hired servants (Mark i : 20), and also partners in his 
business as a fisherman (Luke 5:10); his wife Salome 
was one of the women who ministered to the Saviour 

siSchafE's History of the Christian Church, Vol. I., p. 714. 


of their substance (Luke 8 : 3), and went to the sep- 
ulchre prepared to embalm His body (Mark 16 : i) ; 
and John himself owned a home (John 19 : 27). John 
doubtless had a good common education, judging 
from his writings, although he had received no 
special rabbinical instruction (Acts 4: 13). He was 
first a disciple of the Baptist, by whom he was di- 
rected to the Saviour (i : 29-40). With Andrew he 
followed Christ thus pointed out, and after their in- 
terview with Him, they were firmly convinced of His 
Messiahship. John thus became one of the first two 
disciples of Jesus. His own personal qualifications 
not only secured for him a place in the apostolate, 
but also in the inner circle of the Apostles with 
Peter and James. These three disciples were pecul- 
iarly favored, and were brought into the most inti- 
mate relations with the Master. John remained 
closely with Jesus after his call to the apostolate, 
and was admitted to closer relations to Him than 
any of the others. He was the disciple whom Jesus 
loved and at the last Supper he was accorded the 
place of honor next to Jesus, that of leaning on His 
bosom. And passing by His own brothers, the Sav- 
iour, as He hung upon the cross, showed His 
supreme confidence in the beloved disciple, by 
committing to his care His mother. 

After the Ascension, John and Peter were the most 
prominent characters among the disciples. John 
was one of the three pillars of the church at Jerusa- 
lem, who gave the right hand of fellowship to Paul 
as the Apostle to the Gentiles (Gal. 2 : 9). He was 
'* the faithful colleague and wise counselor" of Peter 
in the days when he was founding the Church. We 


have no means of telling just when John left Jerusa- 
lem, but that he did remove to Ephesus, and there 
became the commanding personality in the church 
of that region for the last quarter of the first century- 
is abundantly proven by tradition. Bishop Light- 
foot writes, "At length the hidden fires of his nature 
burst into a flame. When St. Peter and St. Paul 
have ended their labors, the more active career of 
St. John is just beginning. If it has been their task 
to organize and extend the church, to remove her 
barriers, and to advance her liberties, it is his special 
province to build up and complete her theology. 
The most probable chronology makes his withdrawal 
from Palestine to Asia Minor coincide very nearly 
with the martyrdom of these two Apostles, who 
have guided the church through her first storms 
and led her to her earliest victories. This epoch 
divides his life into two distinct periods. Hitherto 
he has lived as a Jew among Jews ; henceforth he 
will be as a Gentile among Gentiles. The writings 
of St. John in the canon probably mark the close of 
each period. The Apocalypse winds up his career 
in the church of the circumcision ; the Gospel and 
the Epistles are the crowning result of a long resi- 
dence in the heart of Gentile Christendom."^^ 

That the Ephesian residence was broken into by 
John's exile to Patmos is clear. This probably oc- 
curred during the reign of Domitian. Tradition has 
many things to relate about the residence at Ephe- 
sus, among which the most probable are his conflict 
with the heretic Cerinthus and his reclaiming of the 
robber chief Investigations at Ephesus have dis- 

^^Lightfoot on Galatians, p. 198. 


covered the probable site of the church in which 
John must often have preached, as well as the house 
in which he resided. It is probable that John died 
a natural death at an advanced age in the last 
decade of the first century. Tradition says that he 
was cast into a caldron of boiling oil, but that he 
was unhurt by it. It is said that he became so 
feeble that he had to be carried to his beloved 
church, and could only say in words of heavenly 
benediction on the assembled Christians, '* Little 
children, love one another." Dean Stanley writes, 
"We see him — it surely is no unwarranted fancy — 
we see him declining with the declining century, 
every sense and faculty waxing feebler, but that 
one divinest faculty of all burning more and more 
brightly ; we see it through every look and gesture, 
the one animating principle of the atmosphere in 
which he lives and moves ; earth and heaven, the 
past, the present, and the future alike echoing to 
him that dying strain of his latest words, * We love 
Him because he first loved us.'" 

The personal character of John is most beautiful. 
It is not a character that was in any sense weak. 
The name Boanerges given him by the Saviour 
(Mark 3 : 17) implies the intensity of his nature. 
His abhorrence of sin was intense, and he could rise 
to impassioned utterance of the highest type when 
denouncing it. He was peculiarly bound to the 
Saviour. The key word of his First Epistle, which 
was the companion piece to his Gospel, is love. Nor 
was John's love merely a " soft feeling, but a living 
principle, an absolute devotion to truth, as he had 
seen it and known it in the person of his Lord." It 


was a love that was the strong and abiding passion 
of his deep, intuitive nature. 

///. For Whom Written. 

From very early days it has been held that John 
wrote his Gospel for the benefit of Christians in gen- 
eral^ There is an early tradition that it was at the 
earnest request of the Christians of Ephesus, that 
John, as the one best qualified for writing a Gospel, 
because of the intimate relations he had sustained to 
Jesus, wrote this book for the instruction and estab- 
lishment in the faith of Christians everywhere. This 
is abundantly sustained by the tenor of the whole 
book. There can be no question but that this apos- 
tolic Evangelist had in mind the needs of the Chris- 
tian world at the close of the first century, as he 
wrote this Gospel. 

IV. The Occasion and Design of this Gospel. 

The Apostle tells us plainly why he wrote this 
Gospel. "And many other signs truly did Jesus in 
the presence of his disciples, which are not written 
in this book: but these are written, that ye might 
believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God ; and 
tliat believing ye might have life through His name ' 
(20:30, 31). It is evident from these words that 
John chiefly designed in his Gospel to bring forth 
into the clearest light the divinity of Christ. The 
whole of the book is in keeping with this central 

Clement of Alexandria informs us that "John, 
perceiving that the external facts had been made 
plain in the Gospel (/. e.^ in the Synoptic Gospels), 


being urged by his friends, and inspired by the 
Spirit, composed a spiritual Gospel." ^^ The idea^f 
the early Church Fathers is that this Gospel was 
intended to be supplemental to the other three. 
This traditionary idea gives, as the occasion of the 
writing of this book by John, the repeated requests 
of his fellow Christians, that he, as the one who 
enjoyed such close relations to Christ, should commit 
to writing a Gospel that would supplement and fill 
out the Synoptic Gospels. This supplemental design 
will account for the fact that he does not traverse 
the same grounds as the other Evangelists do, but 
gives a great deal of matter peculiar to himself. But 
this could not have been the primary design of the 
Apostle, although it is not excluded by the intention 
and design he expresses. Another design has been 
suggested, and that is, that this Gospel is polemical, 
intended to confute the heretical opinions that were 
rife in the Church in his day. Both Irenaeus and 
Jerome name Cerinthus, the great heresiarch of Asia 
Minor, as the one against whom this book was di- 
rected. There is no question but that in his First 
Epistle, which was the practical application of this 
Gospel, and its companion piece, John aimed to con- 
trovert the positions of the early Gnostics. But the 
same cannot be said of this Gospel. It is true that 
such terms as *' life," ** light," and others, that were 
pet phrases with the Gnostics, are here used, but it 
can hardly be affirmed that they were used thus with 
polemical purpose. The Gnostics denied the divinity 
of Christ, and their denial doubtless in part occasioned 
this masterly Gospel, that revolves around that great 
83 Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, 6 ; 14. 


central doctrine ; but still the historical purpose is 
the most prominent. Strong and positive expressions 
of truth always conflict with error. But this Gospel 
was meant more to establish the truth than to assail 
error. Still others insist that the design of John was 
dogmatic, that he uses his Gospel as the vehicle for 
communicating his system of theology. 

Now none of these three theories are necessarily 
in conflict with one another ; on the contrary, they 
may all together be true as minor purposes of the 
Apostle. Still the primary object was really two- 
fold. "Whilst the other Gospels contain a record of 
the life of Christ for the information of the Church, 
the Fourth Gospel is essentially an historical writing 
composed with an evangelical purpose."^* Thus John 
aims, first, to establish Christians in the faith in the 
divinity of Christ ; and, second, by the way of that 
faith, to enable them to secure life through His name. 
He designed, then, " to lead men to believe that Jesus 
was the Christ, the Son of God, and to enable them 
to derive spiritual and eternal life through their faith 
in Him."^^ 

V, The Sources of this Gospel. 

While John undoubtedly had seen the Synoptic 
Gospels, we may emphatically affirm that he was 
dependent on no written sources. He explicitly 
claims to have been an eye-witness of the events he 
records, and his whole Gospel has the vividness of 
one who was relating what he personally had seen 
and heard. He writes, **We beheld His glory, the 
glory as of the only begotten of the Father" (i : 14). 

s^Gloag's Johannine Writings, p. 155, 55ib., p. 157, 


And in his First Epistle, he also writes, "That which 
we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, 
which we have looked upon, and our hands have 
handled, of the word of life ; (for the life was mani- 
fested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and 
show unto you that eternal life, which was with the 
Father, and was manifested unto us ;) that which we 
have seen and heard declare we unto you." (i John 
I : 1-3.) From these words, it is plain that he drew 
his material entirely from his own personal knowl- 
edge. He informs us that he had omitted many 
things he might have written (20:30). He only 
recorded as much as was needed for the specific 
purpose he had in view. 

VI. The Contents of this Gospel. 

The following outline, given by Dr. Gloag, is 
admirable : — 

The Prologue : the incarnation of the Word, i : 

I. The revelation and ministry of the Son of God 
to the world. 

a. Testimonies borne to Christ : by the Baptist, 

I : 19-34 ; by the disciples, i : 35-51 ; by His 
miracles, 2 : 1-12. 

b. The ministry of Christ : in Judea, 2 : 13-3 : 36 ; 

in Samaria, 4 : 1-42 ; in Galilee, 4 : 43-54- 

c. Christ's self-revelation as the Son of God : in 

Jerusalem, 5 : 1-47 ; in Galilee, 6 : 1-7 : 10. 
d» Christ's ministry in Jerusalem : at the feast of 
Tabernacles, 7:11-8:59; at the feast of 
Dedication, 9 : i-io : 42. 


e, Christ's glorification as the Son of God in the 

resurrection of Lazarus, ii : 1-57. 
/. Close of Christ's public ministry, 12 : 1-50. 

II. The revelation and ministry of the Son of God 
to His disciples. 

a. The last discourses of Christ to His disciples, 


b. The sacerdotal prayer, 17 : 1-26. 

III. The revelation of the Son of God in His suf- 
ferings and resurrection. 

a. The last sufferings of Christ, 18 : 1-19:42. 

b. The resurrection, 20: 1-3 1. 
The Epilogue. 

a. The appearance of the risen Lord at the Sea of 

Tiberias, 21 : 1-14. 

b. The Lord and His two disciples, Peter and John, 

21 : 15-25 

VII. The Date arid Place of Composition, . 

All early writers declare that John wrote last of 
all. And in keeping with this are the internal marks 
of the book itself The heretical ideas combated in 
the First Epistle were the ideas that were prevalent 
at the close of the first century. The dates that 
various writers suggest range from 70 A. D. to 90 
A. D., the majority dating it about 80 A. D. But 
considering the manifestly close relation that exists 
between this Gospel and the First Epistle, together 
with the reasons for as late a date as possible for the 
latter, I am inclined to date this Gospel at about go, 
A. D. John lived until 98 A. D. Nor can there be 
any reasonable doubt as to the place of composition 
having been Eghesus, There is no real support for 


the idea that it was written on Patmos at the same 
time as the Apocalypse. 

VIII . The Peculiarities of this Gospel, 

None of the other Gospels have as strongly marked 
peculiarities as this one has. In its language it is 
composed in the simplest Greek. Idiomatic expres- 
sions are avoided. There are no involved sentences 
in it, and there is a very limited use of particles in 
the construction of its sentences. It is "pure Greek 
in vocabulary and grammar, but thoroughly Hebrew 
in temper and spirit, even more so than any other 
book, and can be almost literally translated into 
Hebrew without losing its force and beauty." 

John alone gives us any information about the 
early Judean ministry of our Saviour. Were we left 
to the Synoptists alone for information, we would 
never certainly know that our Lord's ministry was 
longer than one year, but John mentions four Pass- 
overs (2 : 13 ; 5 : I ; 6 : 4 ; 13:1). From this we know 
that His ministry extended over three years. Of the 
62 sections in John's Gospel, 32 contain matter not 
recorded elsewhere. This Apostle preserves for us 
the most charming of our Lord's discourses. ** John 
gives us an abundance of new matter of great inter- 
est and importance. Right at the threshold we are 
startled as by a peal of thunder from the depths of 
eternity : * In the beginning was the Word.' And as 
we proceed, we hear about the creation of the world, 
the shining of the true light in darkness, the pre- 
paratory revelations, the incarnation of the Word, 
the testimony of the Baptist to the Lamb of God. 
We listen with increasing wonder to those mysteri- 


ous discourses about the new birth of the Spirit, the 
water of life, the bread of life from heaven, about 
the relation of the eternal and only begotten Son to 
the Father, to the world, and to believers, the mis- 
sion of the Holy Spirit, the promise of many man- 
sions in heaven, the farewell to J:he disciples, and at 
last that sacerdotal prayer which brings us nearest 
to the throne and the beating heart of God." ^^ 

This Gospel is the divinest of them all, and has 
well been called ''the heart of Jesus," Schleier- 
macher has said that it is the Gospel which authenti- 
cates itself to the inner perception as the truest 
portrait of Christ. It presents the Saviour as He 
appeared to the man whose nature enabled him to 
come into the most sympathetic touch with Him. 
No one was better qualified than the disciple whom 
Jesus loved, and who leaned on His bosom, to place 
this divine capstone to the four-fold Gospel. His 
deeply intuitive and keenly perceptive nature gave 
him an insight into the character of the Lord that 
none of the rest had. He knew Jesus better than 
all others did. And because of these facts, there 
was no other person that could compose a Gospel 
that was better adapted for the needs of the times 
in which it was written. There was a danger that 
in the misty speculations of the latter part of the 
first century, the real personality and actual exis- 
tence of Christ should be lost sight of It was John's 
task to in a measure restore that fading personality 
and make Him real to the faith of the world. " It is 
most instructive and impressive to consfder how 
John, the one most intimate with the Master in His 

seSchaff's History of the Christian Church, Vol. I., p. 677. 


earthly life, was left to turn the mind of the new 
generation back to the life that was manifested, and 
to testify to its reality. The thought of men about 
Christ had been growing in elevation, as was fitting 
and right ; but it had been growing away from the 
human life. Even that, perhaps, was for a time best ; 
but now John writes to bring the higher thought to 
which men's faith had attained, back to the earthly 
life that they were forgetting, and show them that 
their highest thought could not overpass the word 
there uttered, and that the thought was never to be 
separated from the life."^^ 

** With the simplicity in style and diction, and 
even in the thoughts and sentiments of the Johan- 
nine writings, there is combined a real profundity 
which no human intellect can fathom. The Fourth 
Gospel is especially remarkable for its depth ; it has 
been well called by the Fathers * the spiritual Gos- 
pel/ as compared with the Synoptical Gospels. It 
opens the deepest recesses of the spiritual life ; it 
discloses the very heart of the incarnate God ; it re- 
veals the Divine human nature which Christ pos- 
sessed ; it lifts the veil and lets us see into the holy 
of holies. The two preponderating ideas are life 
and light, and these are embodied in Christ : He is 
at once the Life and the Light of men, the source of 
all spiritual life, and the essence of all spiritual truth, 
the sun of the moral universe. The writings of 
John may be compared to a well of water, so clear 
and sparkling that at first one thinks he sees to the 
bottom ; but that well is so deep, that the more one 
gazes into it, the deeper does it appear, and no one 

37 Professor Porter in the S. S. Times, Jan., 1892. 


has yet been able to fathom it."^^ Dr. Storrs writes : 
"It was an original, self-moulded Gospel, inspired 
by the Spirit, but dependent on no other. What 
he wrote came from his own mind, it came with a 
gush. It is the most profoundly individual book, 
we may say, in all the Scriptures. It is like the 
'seamless garment of the Lord,' one has said, so 
thoroughly interwoven, so glistening with celestial 
gold. I should rather say, it is like the sudden gush 
of the gold, long fused and simmering in the furnace, 
until all dross has vanished from it, and all impurity 
has been cleansed away, which, at last, when the 
door is opened, rushes forth, glowing, incandescent, 
streaming with light, and precious beyond estimate 
and compare. So came the Gospel from the heart 
which had held it so intimately and so long, and 
which spoke it at last, to be henceforth the inestim- 
able possession of the world forever. "^^ 

^^Gloag's Johannine Writings, p. 73. 
39 Lectures on the N. T., Amer. Tr. Soc. 


The Acts of the Apostles. 

The title of this book, as thus given, is not 
strictly accurate, for it is actually occupied with parts 
of the history of only two of the Apostles, Peter 
and Paul. When this book was first sent by its 
author to Theophilus, to whom it is addressed, it 
doubtless had no title. Its opening words show that 
the author regarded it as a continuation of the his- 
tory he had given in the Third Gospel. It is distin- 
guished from that book, which is here called the 
"former treatise." How early in history the title we 
now have prefixed to the book, came into existence 
we cannot tell, but it was probably at a very early 
date. Codex Vaticanus calls it "Acts of Apostles," 
and Codex Sinaiticus makes the title still shorter, 
and briefly names it " Acts." 

/. Canonicity. 

A historical book such as this is, was not likely to 
be quoted as often as the Epistles, but still we can 
find many external testimonies to its early existence 
and use. Polycarp (ii6) quotes it. In the Epistle 
to Diognetus (117) there are coincidences of lan- 
guage more or less marked. Hermas (140-150) has 
some probable allusions to it. Hegesippus (157-176) 
" does not formally quote it, but he has forms of ex- 
pressions corresponding to passages in the Acts 


which cannot be attributed to chance." It is named 
in the Muratori Canon (170). Indisputable resem- 
blances to it are to be found in the Letter from the 
Churches of Lyons and Vienne (177). The Syriac 
(160) and Old Latin (170) Versions contain it. And 
Irenaeus (175), Tertullian (190), and Clement of Alex- 
andria (195) quote it by name. These testimonies 
are sufficient to show its acceptance from the early 
days of the Church. 

It was rejected, however, by some, but by these 
for a reason, inasmuch as they were all heretics. 
Professor Charteris writes, " The Manicheans ob- 
jected to it because of its account of the coming of 
the Holy Ghost. The Marcionites could not accept 
it because of its testimony to the God of Creation 
being the Father of Christ Jesus. The Ebionites re- 
jected it because of its recording the admission of 
Gentiles into the Church without circumcision ; the 
Severians would not have Paul's Epistles or the Acts 
of the Apostles because these books were in conflict 
with their ascetic principles."^ 

The authenticity of the book is strongly borne 
out by an examination of the speeches recorded in 
it. Paley in his Horco PaiilincB has constructed an 
unanswerable argument in favor of the accuracy of 
the historical references of the book by comparing 
them with those of the Pauline Epistles. He proves 
conclusively that the Acts harmonizes with the 
Epistles, and he demonstrates the accuracy of the 
former in its historical allusions to events in the 
life of Paul. Rationalistic critics have done their 
utmost to convict the book of inaccuracies and ab- 

1 Charteris' Canonicity, p. 206, note. 

76 fHE ACTS 

solute discrepancies, but they have failed in their 
efforts. I believe that one certain case of inaccu- 
racy in the statements of the book has yet to be 
proven. There are undesigned coincidences be- 
tween the Acts and the Pauline Epistles that cer- 
tainly demonstrate the authenticity of the former. 
Davidson writes, " We hesitate not to assert that 
the idea of the book being fabricated by a later 
unknown writer, with whatever motive he set about 
the task, involves the improbabky not to say the 
impossible at QY^ry step. . . . The wakefulness and 
talents of the person who palmed the history on 
his generation as the authentic production of Paul's 
companion, must have been extraordinary. Not so 
constructed are the forgeries of that period. They 
have therefore been detected long ago by the test 
of fair criticism. But the book of Acts has stood 
the test unshaken. . . . We are confident that the 
credibility of the Acts will be universally acknowl- 
edged long after the negative criticism has vanished 
away like every temporary extravagance of unbridled 
reason, or rather of unbridled scepticism."^ 

//. The AiitJiorship of the Book. 

Without a dissenting voice the testimony of the 
early Church is in favor of the Evangelist Luke, as 
the author of this book. The book *' announces it- 
self as the second work of the same author who 
wrote the Gospel dedicated to Theophilus. The 
Acts of the Apostles is therefore justly considered 
as a portion of the historical Avork of Luke, follow- 
ing up that Gospel, and continuing the history of 

2 Davidson's Introd., ist Ed., Vol. II., p. 51. 


early Christianity from the ascension of Christ to the 
captivity of Paul at Rome ; and no other but Luke 
is named by the ancient orthodox Church as the 
author of the book, which is included by Eusebius 
among the Undisputed Books. ... So early an 
ecclesiastical recognition of the canonicity of the book 
would be inexplicable, if the teachers of the church 
had not from the very first recognized it as a second 
work of Luke, to which, as well as to the Gospel, apos- 
tolic authority belonged."* Bleek writing in regard 
tc the authorship of the two books, says, '^ Both works 
not only breathe throughout the same spirit, but ex- 
hibit the same phraseology. Now, that the writer 
was Luke, the friend of Paul, rests as to both the 
Acts and the Gospel of Luke on ecclesiastical tradi- 
tion, which we have no just grounds to doubt. It is 
true Luke is not mentioned as the author till towards 
the close of the second century, first by Irenaeus, 
and then by Clemens Alexandrinus, Tertullian, and 
others, but then these writers state the fact so unhes- 
itatingly, not even stopping to discuss it, that it is 
quite clear that they must have known it to be uni- 
versally acknowledged by the Church in their day, 
and derived from a still older ecclesiastical tradition. 
No doubt, from the very first, ever since the works 
had come before the general public, this had been 
the common opinion in the Church."* 

Li support of this traditional belief, it being 
assumed that Luke was the author of the Third 
Gospel, the following reasons may be urged, namely: 
(i.) It was the unhesitating and unanimous beliei 

2 Meyer on Acts, Introd. 

*Bleek's N. T. Introd., Vol. I., ^. 368. 


of the early Church. (2.) The similarity of the 
inscription, character, and style of this book to the 
Third Gospel. (3.) The similarity of language be- 
tween the two books, over fifty words being common 
to them that are not used elsewhere in the New 
Testament. (4.) The manifest connection between 
the two books, this being the continuation of the 
history given in the Third Gospel. 

At Acts 16 : 10 the author became a member of 
the missionary band, for the narrative continues 
from that point in the first person plural. Luke 
consequently joined Paul's company, when the Apos- 
tle reached Troas on his second missionary journey. 
A short time previous to this, Paul had been de- 
tained by sickness in Galatia (Gal. 4: 13), and it is 
not improbable that Luke became one of the mis- 
sionary band in order that he as a physician might 
attend to the needs of the Apostle, recovering from 
his recent sickness. From Troas they went to- 
gether to Philippi, and there Luke remained until 
Paul came again to that city on his third missionary 
journey about six years later. This is proven by 
the fact that from 16 : 19 to 20: 5 the narrative con- 
tinues in the third person, but at 20 : 5 the first per- 
son again appears, indicating that the writer had 
again joined company with the Apostle. From this 
point on, these "we-passages " predominate in the 

An effort has been made to prove that the author 
of these " we-passages " was Timothy or Silas. But 
in 20: 4, 5 it is evident that Timothy is distinguished 
from the writer, while there is no evidence that 
Silas was ever associated again with the Apostle 


after the residence of eighteen months in Corinth 
from 52 to 53 A. D. If Timothy was the author of 
these passages, it is hard to understand why they 
do not begin at 16 : 4, where Timothy became one 
of the companions of Paul in his missionary work ; 
and there is also need for explaining why the nar- 
rative does not continue in the first person at 18 : 5, 
when Timothy joined Paul at Corinth. On the 
other hand, there is no real reason why Luke was 
not the author of these passages himself Silas and 
Timothy being ruled out, Luke alone remains as the 
probable, or even possible author. Desperate efforts 
have been made by rationalistic critics to place this 
book much later in history than the time of Luke. 
Its historicity has been openly assailed by some, 
and all sorts of sinister motives have been attributed 
to its assumed compiler of the second century. 
Some, admitting that Luke may have been the 
author of the *' we-passages," still contend that a 
later editor brought the book into its present 
shape. Professor Dods writes, " Those who still 
maintain that the book was written in the second 
century are placed in the awkward predicament of 
being obliged to hold that the skillful literary hand 
which is discernible throughout, incorporated and 
re-wrote these sections so clumsily as not even to 
alter the 'we' of his sources into ^they.' This is 
too much for literary critics like Renan, who frankly 
declares that such an explanation is inadmissible, 
and that although a ruder compiler would have left 
the 'we* unaltered, it is not possible to ascribe such 
clumsiness to the writer of ^f/i". 'We are therefore 
irresistibly led to the conclusion that he who wrote 


the latter part of the work wrote also the former, 
and that the writer of the whole is he who says, 
"we" in the sections alluded to.'"^ Meyer says, 
" The we-narrative, with its vivid and direct im- 
press of personal participation, always remains a 
strong testimony in favor of a companion of the 
Apostle as the author of the whole book, of which 
that narrative is a part ; to separate the subject of 
that narrative from the author of the whole, is a 
procedure of sceptical caprice."^ 

This book and the Third Gospel stand or fall to- 
gether. All that has been advanced in favor of the 
Lucan authorship of that Gospel holds good to prove 
the same of this book. And so far nothing has been 
developed that can in any way rob Luke of the 
honor of having written this book of the Acts, as a 
continuation of the historical work he had done in 
the Third Gospel. 

///. The Sources of the Book, 

In the introductory words to his Gospel, Luke 
lays down the method of his procedure in compil- 
ing the history contained in that book. He had 
carefully gathered together all available material, 
whether in the form of short fragmentary written 
notes, or the oral testimony of eye-witnesses of the 
events of the Gospel history. This material he had 
carefully sifted and tested, before he had proceeded 
to write his memoir of Christ, upon which Theophi- 
lus might rely, as he says, *' that thou mightest know 
the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been 
instructed." The same plan was doubtless pursued 

Bpods' N. T. Introd., p. 65. ^ Meyer on Acts, p. 7. 


in the composition of this book, with this difference 
however, that he was an eye-witness himself of a good 
deal tha,t is recorded in it. That he was dependent 
on documents for some parts of this work is undeni- 
able when close examination is made. Very prob- 
ably some of the speeches recorded, especially of 
Peter, had been committed to writing. 

There are 1007 verses in this book. Of these the 
" we-passages" include 318 ; while 366 others recount 
the acts and words of Paul, or scenes which he un- 
doubtedly witnessed, as, e. g.y the trial, defense, and 
death of Stephen. To these we may add the 36 
verses (8 : 5-40). which recount the evangelistic tour 
of Philip, the account of which Luke probably ob- 
tained while he was lodging at the house of Philip 
in Caesarea (21 :8-io), as well as the four introduc- 
tory verses. Adding these up, we can readily see 
that Luke from his own experience, and from what 
he could learn from Paul and Philip, could write 724 
verses, or over seven-tenths of the whole book, with- 
out having recourse to any documents. There re- 
main but 283 verses to be accounted for, and these 
verses relate the acts and words of Peter, all of which 
may have been preserved in some written form to 
which the historian had access. From thiSj it is 
evident that the sources of the information con- 
tained in the book were written records, oral testi- 
mony, and personal knowledge. ^ 

Efforts have been made to prove that the book 
as it stands is not the work of one hand, but at least 
of two. It is admitted that there are some differ- 

' The passages for which he was dependent on some otner source 
than Paul and Philip are I : 5-6 : 8 ; 9 : 32-1 1 : 18 ; 12 : 1-23. 


ences in style between the first part of the book and 
the latter, but the fact that he was more dependent 
on documentary sources for the first part than 
for the latter will in large part account for this. 
But the vocabulary of words in the two parts is 
about the same. The Lucan style predominates the 
whole ; so much so, that most scholars pronounce 
against the idea that Luke did not write both parts. 

IV. The Occasion and Object of the Book. 

The occasion of the book is very manifest. Luke 
had composed his Gospel for the instruction of 
Theophilus, and for the confirmation of his faith, 
" that thou mightest know the certainty of those 
things wherein thou hast been instructed " (Luke 
I : 4). The same writer continues that Gospel his- 
tory by adding this second treatise, containing a 
history of the further progress of Christianity. It 
is closely linked to the " former treatise," and was 
occasioned by the desire to give Theophilus further 

As to the object of the book much has been 
written. The Tuebingen School of critics in its 
leading representatives has tenaciously clung to the 
theory of a hostility between Peter and Paul. They 
claim that in the early Church there were two fac- 
tions irreconcilably hostile to each other, the one 
led by Peter, representing the Jewish element in the 
Church, and the other headed by Paul who repre- 
sented the Gentile element. Now these critics 
boldly claim that the purpose of this book was iren- 
ical, that it attempts to minify these supposed differ- 


ences between the two great Apostles and their re- 
spective adherents. It is held that the writer of this 
book was a Paulinist of a mild type, whose desire it 
was to show that there was not after all so much 
difference between Peter and Paul. Schnecken- 
burger holds that the book was primarily written for 
Jewish Christians in order to remove from their 
minds their prejudices against Paul and his followers. 
Zeller says, " The work is a conciliatory essay offered 
by a member of the Pauline party to the Judaizers, 
with a view of obtaining the recognition of Gentile 
Christianity by concessions to Judaism, and thus ex- 
erting an influence on both parties." It is but just 
to add that an increasing number of critics, even 
those of a bold type, reject this theory. Schenkel, a 
critic who can never be accused of having a conserv- 
ative bias, says, '' Having never been able to con- 
vince myself of the sheer opposition between Paulin- 
ism and Petrinism, it has also never been possible 
for me to get a credible conception of a reconcilia- 
tion effected by means of a literature sailing between 
the contending parties under false colors. In re- 
spect to the Acts of the Apostles in particular, I 
have been led in part to different results from those 
represented by the modern critical school. I have 
been forced to the conviction that it is a far more 
trustworthy source of information than is commonly 
allowed on the part of modern criticism."* In refer- 
ence to the idea put forth by some, that this book is 
really a defense of the Apostle Paul against the at- 
tacks of the Jewish party, Weiss writes, ** That the 

8 Quoted by Dods' N. T. Introd., p. 70. 


Apostle's defense against Jewish-Christian attacks 
was in any sense the object of the work, cannot be 

Of course these theories, and there are many dif- 
ferent combinations of them, necessitate the denial 
of the Lucan authorship of the book, because of its 
assumed late origin. These theories also impugn 
the historical character of the book, and do not hesi- 
tate to charge the writer with having manufactured 
history to suit his purpose. In opposition to this 
whole theory that the purpose of the book jvas to 
fecoiicile deep-seated differences b§V^ 
ties, and therefore distorted the history to that end, 
the following arguments may be noted : (i.) It is 
utterly irreconcilable with the unanimousjt^timony 
and belief of the early Church. (2.) It is a desper- 
ate makeshift of destructive criticism to bolster up 
a certain theory^forjhe reconstruction of the history 
"oiTthe basis of a system of philosophy. (3.) It as- 
sumes a cunning on the part of , the. ^author of the 
book that is thoFoughly inconsistent with its char- 
acter. (4.) Its advocates *' are obliged, in support- 
ing it, to have recourse to utterly unnatural or 
decidedjy false combinations, passing over in com-^ 
plete silence much in the book that is quite oppose^ql 
to their assumptions." (5.) It is certainly revolting 
to__the Christian conscience, because it saps the 
b^ok of its hi^h_ jnoral character^ and reduces it to 
the^level of cunning and deceit. 

Dr. Schaff writes, The book "represents the origin 
and progress of Christianity from the capital of Juda- 
ism to the capital of heathenism. It is the history 

^Weiss' Introd., Vol. II., p. 324. 


of the planting of the Church among the Jews by 
Peter, and among the Gentiles by Paul. Its theme 
is expressed in the promise of the risen Christ to 
His disciples (i : 8) : 'Ye shall receive power, when 
the Holy Ghost is come upon you (chap. 2) : and ye 
shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem (qhaps. 
3-7) ; and in all Judea and Samaria (chaps. 8-12) ; 
and unto the uttermost part of the earth ' (chaps. 
13-28). The Gospel of Luke, which is the Pauline 
Gospel, laid the foundation by showing how salva- 
tion, coming from the Jews and opposed by the 
Jews, was intended for all men, Samaritans and 
Gentiles. The Acts exhibits the progress of the 
Church from and among the Jews to the Gentiles 
by the ministry of Peter, then of Stephen, then of 
Philip in Samaria, then of Peter again in the con- 
version of Cornelius, and at last by the labors of 
Paul and his companions."^" 

V. Contents, 

I. Introduction, i : 1-3. 
II. The founding of the Christian Church by the 
out-pouring of the Spirit on Pentecost, in- 
cluding the preparation of the disciples for 
the same, i 14-2 : 47. 

III. The development and history of the Church in 

Jerusalem. 3 : 1-7 : 60. 

IV. The spread of the Church throughout Judea 

and Samaria. 8:1-12:25. 
V. The spread of the Church among the Gentiles 
by the great missionary enterprises under 
Paul. 13 : 1-28 : 31. 

lOSchafE's History of the Christian Church, Vol. I., p. 726. 


VI. Date and Place of Composition, 

The Third Gospel has already been dated between 
58 and 60 A. D., and during the time of the Caesarean 
imprisonment. This book followed it at no very- 
great interval of time. It must have been written 
before the destruction of Jerusalem, or even the lib- 
eration of Paul from his Roman imprisonment, since 
neither of these events is mentioned in it. Paul 
was brought to Rome as a prisoner in the spring of 
61 A. D., and according to this book, he then dwelt 
in his own hired house for two years. At the time 
of the composition of this book, then, the Apostle 
had been a prisoner for two years. That seems to 
fix the date of it without any room for question. It 
was written during the spring of 63 A. D., or at least 
was finished about that time. 

The book ends abruptly, possibly because its 
author was suddenly called away from the city to 
more active service in some other part of the Church, 
or, it may be that the change in the affairs of the 
Apostle upon the death of Burrhus, and the acces- 
sion of Tigellinus to the prefectship of the Praetor- 
ian Cohorts, compelled his withdrawal from Rome. 
But however that may have been, there can be but 
little question but that the spring of 63 A. D. marks 
the time of the composition of the Acts. The place 
of composition was Rome. 


The Pauline Epistles —General 

/. The Life and Character of Paul the Apostle. 

It does not lie within the scope of this work to 
give a detailed history of the life of this remarkable 
man. Paul, or Saul as he was known until he ar- 
rived at Cyprus on his first missionary journey, 
was born at Tarsus, the capital of the province of 
Cilicia. His parents were Jews, and his father pos- 
sessed the rights of Roman citizenship. The early 
days of Saul were spent in his native city, and in 
all probability he received a part of his education 
there. Tarsus was one of the great educational 
centers, and in the halls of its famous university 
many of the greatest men of that period could be 
heard. How long Saul lived in Tarsus we do not 
know, but at an early age he was sent to Jerusalem 
to complete his education. As he makes no refer- 
ence to his parents as living, it is not improbable 
that he was left an orphan in childhood. He had a 
sister living in Jerusalem (Acts 23 : 16), and one of 
the reasons of his removal to that city from Tarsus 
may have been to make his home with this sister. 
The principal reason, however, was that he might 
receive instruction from some of the rabbis of the 


holy city. Gamaliel was the rabbi to whom the 
care of instructing Saul was committed. It was 
from this noted doctor of the law that he received 
his rabbinical training. He tells us that he was 
brought up in Jerusalem, that he was "taught ac- 
cording to the perfect manner of the law of the 
fathers, and was zealous toward God." 

The first appearance of Saul in the apostolic his- 
tory is in connection with the death of the proto- 
martyr Stephen. Canon Farrar writes : '' It is the 
first appearance in history of a name destined from 
that day forward to be memorable in the annals of 
the world. And how sad an allusion ! He stands, 
not indeed actively engaged in the work of death, 
but keeping the clothes, consenting to the violence, 
of those who, in this brutal manner, dimmed in blood 
the light upon a face which had been radiant as that 
of an angel with faith and love." This murder of 
Stephen was the signal for a general outburst of per- 
secutions against the Christians in and around Jeru- 
salem. The fiery young disciple of Judaism leaped 
into prominence, and naturally became a leader in 
the onslaughts made on the followers of Christ. So 
fierce were these assaults that Jerusalem was speedily 
emptied of their victims. In his zeal for what he 
thought was God's service, Saul, at his own request, 
was commissioned by Theophilus, the cruel high 
priest, to go as far as Damascus, for the purpose of 
hunting down the heretics. It was as he was near- 
ing Damascus that he was stricken down by Him 
whose cause he was assailing. In a moment the 
young Cilician zealot was converted, and all the en- 


ergies of his life were turned into the service of Jesus 
of Nazareth. 

The persecutor became the persecuted. After a 
few days Saul withdrew from Damascus, and went 
into Arabia, where he spent three years in seclusion. 
That time was unquestionably spent in preparation 
under the instruction of the Spirit for his new work. 
Returning at length to Damascus, he preached Christ, 
but he was not permitted to remain there. The 
Jews, whose champion he had been, conspired against 
his life, and he fled to Jerusalem. His stay in the 
holy city was only of fifteen days' duration (Gal. i : 
i8). There also persecution arose against him, and 
he retired to his old home in Cilicia (Acts 9 : 29, 30). 
It was work for his Redeemer doubtless that occu- 
pied his attention there, until he was summoned by 
Barnabas to assist in the work at Syrian Antioch. 
At that place, the time of waiting and preparation 
being over, he began his life of aggressive service for 
Christ. At the end of about a year's time, Saul was 
called by the Holy Spirit to go forth as the great 
pioneer missionary of the Christian Church. 

In company with Barnabas and Mark, he set out, 
on his First Missionary Journey. Leaving Antioch 
they went by way of Seleucia to the island of Cyprus. 
After traversing the length of that island, they 
crossed over to the mainland of Asia Minor, land- 
ing at Perga in Pamphylia. On this journey they 
preached the Gospel and established churches in 
in Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. 
Retracing their steps, they returned to Syrian An- 
tioch, thus ending that first missionary journey. 


From Antioch, Saul, now known as Paul, and having 
become the leader in this missionary work, went to 
Jerusalem to attend the Council held in that city in 
50 A. D., — a conference called together to settle the 
controversy that had arisen in regard to the Jewish 
rites and their relation to the Gentiles. At the 
conclusion of this Council the Apostle returned to 

In a short time Paul taking Silas with him began 
his Second Missionary Journey. He traveled North- 
west by land, revisiting the disciples at Derbe, 
Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch. At Lys- 
tra, Timothy joined the missionary band. Passing 
through Phrygia and Galatia, in which latter country 
they were detained longer than they had expected 
by the sickness of the Apostle, the missionaries guided 
by the Holy Spirit came at length to Alexandria 
Troas on the ^gean Sea, where Luke the historian 
became one of their company. From this point by 
divine direction, they crossed over the sea to Phil- 
ippi. At this important city they established a 
church. Passing on through Amphipolis and Apol- 
lonia, they established churches in Thessalonica and 
Berea. From the latter point Paul went by sea to 
Athens, and from thence to Corinth, where he re- 
sided for eighteen months (Acts 18: 11). At the 
end of that time Paul sailed from Corinth to Ephe- 
sus. Promising to return to that famous city, he 
hastened to Jerusalem to attend the approaching 
Feast of Pentecost. After that Feast the Apostle 
came back once more to Antioch. 

After a short stay there the tireless Apostle 
started out on his Third Missionary Journey. Oa 


this journey Paul revisited Phrygia and Galatia, and 
from thence he went to Ephesus, where he labored 
for three years. From Ephesus he passed by way 
of Troas into Macedonia, spending the Summer and 
Fall of that year in planting the Gospel as far west 
as Illyricum (Rom. 15 : 19-23). The following Win- 
ter was spent in Corinth (Acts 20:2). As soon as 
Winter was past, Paul began his journey to Jerusa- 
lem, carrying with him the offering that had been 
made in Macedonia and Achaia for the poor saints 
at Jerusalem. The route he took was overland by 
way of Philippi. From thence crossing over to 
Troas, he made his journey by water, touching at 
numerous points on the way to Caesarea. Going up 
to Jerusalem from Caesarea, he was in a few days 
arrested, having been rescued by the chief captain 
Lysias from the hands of the mob of infuriated 
Jews, who were bent on his death. 

Because of the danger threatening him in Jerusa- 
lem, the Apostle was shortly afterwards transferred 
to Caesarea, where he passed two years in confine- 
ment as a prisoner under Felix. Soon after the 
accession of Festus to the governorship, in accord- 
ance with his appeal to Caesar, Paul was sent to 
Rome to have his case judged by Nero. It was 
late in the Fall when the journey to Rome was be- 
gun. The storm that arose on that voyage com- 
pletely wrecked the ship, but all the lives on board 
were saved, the whole party being cast on the 
island of Malta. Early the next Spring Paul was 
brought to Rome, and delivered over to the custody 
of the Praetorian Prefect. At the end of two years, 
his case having been favorably decided, he was lib- 


erated. As the history of the Acts terminates just 
before this release, we do not have it as our guide 
for the movements of the Apostle after that event, 
and we are dependent on the references of the Pas- 
toral Epistles. From these we gather that he re- 
turned to Ephesus. After a time, if the tradition 
be true, he journeyed as far west as Spain. From 
Spain he came back to Ephesus. Ere long he had 
to take a trip to Macedonia, but came back from 
there to Ephesus again. Then there came the trip 
to Crete with Titus, and the Apostle returned once 
more to Ephesus. From Ephesus by way of Miletus 
and Corinth, Paul went to Nicopolis in Epirus. 
Danger confronting him at that place, the Apostle 
left there hurriedly and journeyed to Troas, where 
he left his cloak and books and parchment. Ven- 
turing to Ephesus, he was arrested and carried to 
Rome, where he suffered martyrdom the following 

The accession of Festus to the governorship of 
Judea in 60 A. D,, furnishes a most important help 
in determining the dates of the events of Paul's life. 
Two years before Festus succeeded Felix, Paul was 
arrested in Jerusalem just after Pentecost. The 
three months of the previous Winter were spent at 
Corinth, Paul having left Ephesus immediately after 
Pentecost of 57 A. D. The three years' residence at 
Ephesus carries us back to 54 A. D., as the time 
of his arrival there on his third missionary jour- 
ney. The time occupied by his return from Cor- 
inth to Jerusalem and Antioch, completing his 
second journey, would be several months. Pre- 
vious to that, he spent a year and a half at Cor- 


inth, which would place the time of his first arrival 
at Corinth in the Fall of 52 A. D. He attended the 
Council of Jerusalem in 50 A. D., and he dates his 
conversion fourteen years before that event, that is, 
37 A. D. Going back now to the beginning of Festus' 
governorship, we find that Paul was sent to Rome 
shortly after it began, that is, late in 60 A. D. He 
reached Rome in the Spring of the following year, 
and was released two years later, that is, 63 A. D. 
Nero died in June of 6Z A. D., and Paul's martyrdom 
probably occurred shortly before that event. 

The following will give in their order in time the 
chief events in the Apostle's life. 

Conversion 37 

Return from Arabia 40 

Fifteen days' visit in Jerusalem 40 

Flight to Cilicia 40 

Went to Antioch 43 

First Missionary Journey begun 45 

Council at Jerusalem 50 

Second Missionary Journey begun 50 

Eighteen months' residence in Corinth 52-54 

At Pentecost at Jerusalem May 31, 54 

Third Missionary Journey begun Summer, 54 

Three years at Ephesus Late in 54 to Pentecost, 57 

Three months' residence in Corinth Winter, 57-58 

Arrested in Jerusalem Pentecost, 58 

Prisoner at Caesarea 58-60 

Prisoner at Rome 61-63 

Period of freedom 63-67 

Martyrdom May, 68 

A few words must be written about the character 
of this great Apostle to the Gentiles. He was a 
great man in every sense of the word. Canon 


Farrar writes : " There are souls in which the 
burning heat of some transfusing purpose calcines 
every other thought, every other desire, every other 
admiration ; and St. Paul's was one. His life was 
absorbingly, if not solely and exclusively, the spirit- 
ual life — the life which is utterly dead to every other 
interest of the groaning and travailing creation, the 
life hid with Christ in God."^ Paul was always true 
to his conscience, and his words to Felix, " And herein 
do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience 
void of offense toward God, and toward man " (Acts 
24 : 16), accurately describe the man, so far as we can 
gather from what we know of him from the Acts and 
from his own writings. When he became a Christian, 
he gave every power and every faculty to the service 
of his Saviour. Dr. Stalker^ gives as the elements of 
his character, his spirit of enterprise, his influence over 
men, his spirit of unselfishness, his sense of having a 
mission to fulfill, and his personal devotion to Christ. 
He was a man of sincerity, of strong determination 
of will, of uncompromising adherence to duty. 

Humility, tenderness, and affection marked Paul's 
whole life. He could be severe to the last extreme, 
if occasion called for it, but it was never to assert 
self that he showed the depths of feeling of which 
he was capable. Let anything appear to touch the 
honor of the cause he represented, or to assail his 
teaching, and the lightning would flash from his eye 
and the thunder roll from his tongue. " It has 
often been observed that there is a remarkable re- 
semblance between Paul and Luther. And certainly 

1 Life and Work of St. Paul, ch. 2. 

2 Life of St. Paul, ch. 7. 


in many points there is a resemblance : the same 
heroic zeal, the same decision, the same sincerity, 
the same indefatigable energy, the same sympathy 
with humanity, the same liberality of mind, actuated 
both. But Paul was a much higher type of man 
than the great Reformer : his unworldliness was 
more complete, his charity was more universal, his 
joyfulness was more spiritual, his temper was more 
heavenly." ^* 

//. The Writings of the Apostle Paul. 

We possess thirteen Epistles that explicitly claim 
to be Paul's, and as such they have been received by 
the Church in all ages. To these we must add the 
Epistle to the Hebrews, although it nowhere claims 
to be Pauline. The thirteen naturally are divided 
into three classes. 

1. The Early Epistles, consisting of First and 
Second Thessalonians, Galatians, First and Second 
Corinthians, and Romans. 

2. The Epistles of the Captivity, consisting of 
Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, and Philippians. 

3. The Pastoral Epistles, namely. First and Sec- 
ond Timothy and Titus. 

The following table gives the times and places of 
composition of the various Epistles : — 

First Thessalonians Corinth 52 

Second Thessalonians Corinth 53 

Galatians Ephesus 57 

First Corinthians Ephesus 57 

^Gloag's Introd., p. 18. 

*For the history of Paul's life consult the great work of Conybeare 
and Howson. Gloag's Introd. and Stalker's Life of Paul are worthy 
of the closest study in their descriptions of the character of Paul. 


Second Corinthians Macedonia 57 

Romans Corinth 58 

"^ Colossians Rome 62 

Philemon Rome 62 

Ephesians Rome . , 62 

Philippians Rome 63 

First Timothy Macedonia 67 

Titus Ephesus 67 

Second Timothy Rome 67 

Whether we possess all the Epistles that Paul 
wrote is a much disputed question. It is possible 
that a short Epistle written to the Corinthians is 
now lost. If this is true, it is because it was merely 
a specific direction in regard to a particular offense 
in the Corinthian Church, and was only necessary 
for that one occasion (i Cor. 5:9). Some have at- 
tempted to prove that an Epistle to the Laodiceans 
(Col. 4 : 16) has been lost, but it is probable that this 
was none other than the one now known as the 
Epistle to the Ephesians. 

The authenticity of these Epistles will be consid- 
ered in connection with the study of each one in its 
order. It may be noted here, however, that Eusebius 
classifies them all under the head of the undisputed 
Epistles. Marcion (130) gives ten Pauline Epistles 
in his list, omitting the three Pastoral Epistles, which 
he did not accept, possibly because they did not at 
all harmonize with his heretical opinions. The Mura- 
tori Canon (170) names the thirteen, omitting He- 
brews. Caius of Rome (210) mentions the thirteen. 
The Syriac (160) and Old Latin (170) Versions in- 
clude them all. Individual Epistles have been as- 
sailed by rationalistic critics in this century, but the 
Church as a whole has always and everywhere aq- 


cepted the thirteen Epistles and also Hebrews as 
Pauline, with a notable exception in regard to this 
latter Epistle that will be considered when it is 

These Epistles can be studied most intelligently 
by considering them in their chronological order. 
This is the plan that will be pursued as we turn now 
to the study of their special introduction. 


The Pauline Epistles — Special Intuoduction. 


/. Canonicity. 

It was not until the present century that the 
first assault was made upon this Epistle, for up to 
that time no one had ever even thought of question- 
ing- its right to a place in the New Testament Canon. 
It is true that we do not find it extensively quoted 
in the early Christian writings, but still we can find 
sufficient external testimony in its favor to establish 
its canonicity. The allusions to it in the Apostolic 
Fathers are not absolutely certain, but there are, to 
say the least, some marked coincidences between 
passages in it and in Ignatius (115), and in Polycarp 
(116). Marcion (130) included it in his catalogue, 
and it is named in the Muratori Canon (170). It is 
found also in the Syriac (160) and Old Latin (i/o) 
Versions. In the writings of Irenaeus (175), Tertul- 
lian (190), and Clement of Alexandria (195), we have 
positive and unqualified testimony to the Pauline 
authorship of this Epistle. These witnesses come 
from all parts of the Church. 


Turning to the Epistle itself, the internal evi- 
dence is found to be even more positive. It claims 
to be by Paul ( I :i; 2:18). All of its historical allu- 
sions fit into and agree with the events of the life of 
Paul so far as recorded in the Acts (2 : 2, cf Acts 
16 : 22 ; 3:4, cf. Acts 17:5; 2 : 17, cf. Acts 18 : 5). 
The character of the Apostle, as well as his style in 
composition, are indelibly stamped upon it. ** The 
character of Paul is impressed on this Epistle : his 
anxiety about his converts (3 : i, 2) ; his earnest 
desire for their spiritual good (3:8-11); his almost 
womanly tenderness (2:7); his joy when he hears 
from Timothy of the steadfastness of their faith 
(3 • 6> 7) ; and his sympathy with them in their dis- 
tresses (4: 13, 18)."^ 

By some late writers it has been objected that 
this Epistle is too devoid of doctrinal statements to 
have proceeded from the pen of the Apostle. But 
when the circumstances that led to the composition 
of the letter are considered, the absence of doctrinal 
statements is easily accounted for. There were no 
heresies to combat, and consequently there was no 
special call for statements of doctrine. And more- 
over the whole Epistle in other respects is in 
keeping with Pauline authorship. And when the 
historical allusions, as well as the general charac- 
teristics, of the Epistle are found to be in harmony, 
not only with its own asserted Pauline authorship, 
but also with the external evidence to that fact, we 
may well accept it as a genuine Pauline Epistle, 
having an indisputable right to a place in the New 
Testament Canon. 

iQoag's Introduction to the Pauline Epistles, p. 8l. 


II. The Church at Thessalonica. 

Thessalonica was an important city in Paul's day, 
being situated on the great Egnatian highway and 
at the head of the Thermaic Bay. Having a splen- 
did natural harbor, and being so favorably situated, 
it became the second city in size and importance in 
Macedonia. It was named after the sister of Alex- 
ander the Great. Its business advantages made it 
a thriving city, with a large and mixed population, of 
which the Jews constituted a large part. It remains 
to this day under the name of Saloniki, and is still a 
city of considerable importance. 

When Paul arrived there on his second missionary 
journey, he devoted his attention for three successive 
weeks to his countrymen, of whom a large number 
resided in this city. The success that attended his 
preaching aroused the hostility of these Jews. 
Driven by their opposition from the synagogue, the 
Apostle labored for some time with signal success 
among the Gentiles. This enraged the Jews beyond 
measure, and their hatred soon found expression in 
a furious riot that they with certain idle vagabonds 
of the city created. In their rage they sought the 
missionaries, but, failing to find them, they seized 
upon one Jason and certain other converts. Taking 
these persons before the magistrates, they accused 
them of treason against the Emperor. They char- 
acterized the missionaries as " these that have turned 
the world upside down." The Kingship of Jesus 
was apparently the basis and the burden of Paul's 
preaching at Thessalonica, and from this the rabble 
easily formulated the charge of treason against the 


law and the Emperor. The outcome of these pro- 
ceedings was that Jason and his companions were 
bound over to keep the peace (Acts 17 : 1-9). 

It was evident to the converts of Paul that he 
could not remain safely in the city in the face of such 
opposition. Nor could any work be accomplished as 
long as such excitement continued, so the brethren 
sent Paul and Silas away. Proceeding on his journey, 
Paul came to Berea, where Timothy soon joined him 
and Silas. The work in Berea was even more prom- 
ising than it had been at Thessalonica, but it was 
soon stopped by the active enemies of Paul, who fol- 
lowed him from that city as soon as they had heard 
of his presence and success in Berea. Leaving Silas 
and Timothy to continue the work, the Apostle went 
on in company with certain Bereans to Athens, 
where Timothy at Paul's earnest request presently 
followed him. Hearing from Timothy of continued 
persecutions of the Christians at Thessalonica, he 
sent that faithful young disciple back to comfort and 
strengthen them (i Thess. 3 : 1-3). Passing on from 
Athens, Paul soon reached Corinth, where he ere 
long was rejoined by Silas and Timothy, who brought 
him a full account of the condition of affairs at 

The principal element in the Thessalonian church 
was Gentile. They are described as having " turned 
to God from idols to serve the living and true God " 
(i Thess. I :9). There are no quotations from, and 
scarcely any allusions to, the Old Testament in the 
two letters written to them. The history of the Acts 
records that " some of them \i. e. Jews] believed and 
consorted with Paul and Silas ; and of the devout 


Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women 
not a few" (Acts 17:4). Thus with a slight Jewish 
sprinkling, the Gentile element largely predominated 
in the Thessalonian church. How long the Apostle 
remained in the city after his expulsion from the 
synagogue at the end of three weeks, we do not 
know, but he must have been there several weeks 
longer in order to have accomplished what he did. 
In that time his work grew with great rapidity and 
marked success, so that ere he was compelled to 
leave the city the number of believers was large. 

///. The Occasion and Object of the Epistle, 

The immediate occasion of the writing of this 
Epistle was the coming of Timothy and Silas to 
Paul at Corinth, bringing him a full account of affairs 
at Thessalonica. Since the moment when he had sent 
Timothy to them from Athens, Paul had been anx- 
ious to hear how the Thessalonian Christians were 
progressing. Twice he had attempted to revisit 
them, but had been hindered (2 : 18), and conse- 
quently he had had to wait for his companions to 
come to him. The report that was brought to him 
was in the main satisfactory. "Believers, in spite of 
persecutions, continued steadfast in their faith and 
in their attachment to Paul, their spiritual father 
(3 '^j 7)j so that they became examples to all that 
believe in Thessalonica and Achaia (i :/) : their faith 
was everywhere spread abroad, and their love to one 
another abounded." Mixed with this good report, 
however, was information that was not so satisfac- 
tory. They were far from perfect. Heathen vices 
still clung to some of their number. False views of 


the Second Advent of Christ had disturbed others, 
who had ceased from their usual occupations, and 
had become actual nuisances to the church, in their 
idle expectancy of the immediate coming of the 
Saviour. Some also had died, and their friends 
were greatly distressed, because they thought that 
the dead could not participate in the blessings of 
that glorious event. 

Without losing any time the Apostle wrote this 
Epistle, and his object, writes Dr. Gloag, was " to 
confirm the Thessalonians in the Christian faith, to 
exhort them to relinquish those vices in which they 
still indulged, to comfort them in the sufferings to 
which thej/;^.w£re_ex£osed, to consoie thera. under 
the loss of their friends, and to exhort them to make 
further progress in every department of Christian 

IV. The Outline of the Epistle. 

This Epistle is naturally divided into two parts, 
the historical and the practical. 

I. The Historical Portion, i : 1-3 : 13. 

1. Salutation, i : i. 

2. Gratefully records their conversion and 

progress, i : 2-10. 

3. Asserts the purity and blamelessness of his 

life among them. 2 : 1-12. 

4. Renews his thanksgiving for their conver- 

sion, referring to the persecutions they had 
suffered. 2 : 13-16. 

5. Recounts his anxiety for them, his sending 

Timothy, his joy at the word brought to 
him. 2 : 17-3 : 10. 

^ Gloag's Introd. to the Pauline Epistles, p. 90. 


6. Prays for them. 3 : 11-13. 
11. The Practical Portion. 4:1-5: 28. 

1. Warning against impurity. 4:1-8. 

2. Exhortation to Christian love, and to ear- 

nestness of life. 4 : 9-12. 

3. Refers to the matter of the Second Advent. 

{a) The part the dead are to play in it. 4 : 

{b) The time uncertain. 5 : 1-3. 
{c) The need for watchfulness. 5 : 4-1 1. 

4. Exhortation to orderly living and to obedi- 

ence. 5 : 12-15. 

5. Sundry injunctions. 5 : 16-22. 

6. Again prays for them. 5 : 23, 24. 

7. Closing injunctions and benediction. 5 • 


V, When and Where Written. 

The date of this Epistle can quite readily be fixed. 
>The postscript in our English Bible informs us that it 
' was written at Athens, but this is manifestly an error. 
It is to be remembered that the postscripts at the 
ends of the Epistles are of no more authority than 
the headings of the chapters, since they do not form 
part of the original text. Silas and Timothy are as- 
sociated with the Apostle in the salutation, and it 
was written immediately after Timothy had brought 
his report to Paul. It was while he was at Corinth 
that these two workers joined the Apostle (Acts 18 : 
5). The letter must then have been written at Cor- 
inth during Paul's eighteen months* residence there, 


which period ended with the Spring of the year 54, 
for we never find Silas (Silvanus) associated with 
Paul after this period. Enough time must have 
elapsed between the departure of Paul from Thessa- 
lonica and the writing of this Epistle, for the spread 
of their faith, for the Apostle to have made two at- 
tempts to revisit them, and for some of their num- 
ber to have died. A few months will suffice for these 
events. The Second Epistle was also written during 
this same period, and we must allow sufficient time 
to elapse between the composition of these two 
Epistles for the development shown in the Second 
Epistle. This necessitates dating this First Epistle 
early in that period, that is, late in 52 A. D., or 
possibly early in 53 A. D. 

VI. Peculiarities of the Epistle, 

No little interest is attached to this Epistle be- 
cause of the fact that it is the first that proceeded 
from the pen of the great Apostle. Clear-cut state- 
ments of doctrines were not usually given until 
heresy had arisen, and there was need for defining 
the truth. It is doubtless true that the germs of 
heresy were already in existence when this Epistle 
was written, but they had not assumed such a shape 
that they needed to be controverted. For this rea- 
son these Epistles to the Thessalonians deal with 
practice rather than with doctrine. There was no 
special occasion for the statement of any of those doc- 
trines that were peculiarly Pauline a few years later. 
But it cannot be said that this Epistle is colorless, 
for the divinity of Christ is most clearly recognized. 


As the Epistle, however, was intended to correct 
errors of conduct rather than to combat errors of 
belief, it would be unreasonable to look for any- 
formal dogmatic statements in it. The end to 
which it was directed was the securing of purity 
of life and of industry, rather than instruction in 

The frequent use of the name *'Lord" as applied 
to Jesus is especially noticeable. No less than 
twenty-five times is the Saviour called by this title. 
" It is impossible for any subsequent declaration of 
the divinity of Christ to rise beyond that afforded 
by St. Paul's frequent application of the attribute of 
'Lord' to Jesus in the First Epistle to the Thessa- 
lonians. The Apostle has already exhausted human 
language and human thought. The plummet of 
dogma can drop no deeper ; the wing of adoration 
can soar no higher."^ And since this is true in an 
especial sense of this Epistle, it is not surprising 
that Paul in it explicitly and directly worships Jesus 
by prayer, saying, " Now may our God and Father 
Himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way unto 
you : and the Lord make you to increase and abound 
in love "(3: II, R. v.). 

Finally, it is worthy of note that the Thessalon- 
ians were organized into a church (i : i) ; they had 
a regular ministry (5 : 12-13) ; and at a regular meet- 
ing of their church this Epistle was to be read 
(5 : 27). The Thessalonians were consequently fully 
equipped for worship and service. The importance 
of this Epistle from an ecclesiastical standpoint is 
very great, for it presents to us at this early date a 

3 Lord Bishop of Derry in the Bible Commentary, Introd. to Thess. 


church with regularly appointed officers, who had 
a recognized authority over their brethren. 


/. Canonicity, 

The external testimony in support of this Epistle 
is more positive than that in favor of the First 
Epistle. There can be but little question about 
Polycarp's (ii6) use of it. Justin Martyr (145) gives 
very clear evidence of his having it in his possession. 
Marcion (130) accorded it a place in his catalogue, 
and it is also found in the Muratori Canon (i/o). It 
is also contained in the Syriac (160), and Old Latin 
(170) Versions. Passing on to the last quarter of the 
second century, we find it definitely quoted as Paul- 
ine by Irenaeus (175), Tertullian (190), and Clement 
of Alexandria (195). There is thus an unbroken 
line of witnesses in favor of it, while there is not a 
single voice or name from any part of the early 
Church to be cited in opposition to it. 

The internal testimony is likewise positively in 
support of Pauline authorship. The style, as well 
as the contents, of the letter proclaims this fact so 
plainly that those who for subjective reasons deny 
its genuineness, are sorely put to in their efforts to 
explain away the unmistakable marks of the Apostle's 
hand. The character of Paul is indelibly stamped 
upon it in " his lively sympathy with his converts, 
his tenderness when censuring them, his commenda- 
tion of them, his characteristic mention of himself 
and his desire for an interest in their prayers." The 
individuality of Paul is apparent throughout the 
whole Epistle. We have ** in short, as many inter- 


nal proofs of Pauline origin as could be expected to 
be found in so short an Epistle." And to these facts 
must be added the specific claim to Pauline author- 
ship in the opening salutation, as well as at the close 
of the letter, where we read, ''The salutation of Paul 
with mine own hand, which is the token in every 
epistle: so I write" (3: 17). 

It was not until the year 1804 A. D. that any one 
undertook to assail this Epistle. It may be asked, 
then, how it happens that any have denied its Paul- 
ine authorship in the face of the existing evidence. 
The offense is found in the famous passage relating 
to the "man of sin" (2:3-12). The prophetical 
character of this section is undeniable, if attributed 
to Paul. The philosophical theories of the assail- 
ants of this Epistle do not admit of any such thing 
as predictive prophecy. " Get rid of the supernat- 
ural at all hazards," is the watchword of these critics. 
Positive historical testimony must be explained away, 
if it comes into conflict with their philosophy. And 
in order to do this these critics have certainly in- 
dulged a great deal of what Professor Salmon has 
well called "childish criticism." The attempt has 
been made to prove that the Epistle is a forgery by 
a later hand. But we may heartily agree with Bleek, 
who, referring to this passage, says, " Indeed the 
whole tone of the passage is so individual, intuitive, 
and characteristic that it is difficult to conceive of it 
as a forgery of some late author."^ And in the same 
line Weiss may be quoted, who affirms that " the 
eschatological view of our Epistle is not only not an 
argument against its genuineness, but on the con- 

^Bleek's Introd. to the N. T., Vol. I., p. 417. 


trary is the only ground on which it can be ex- 

We may then feel well satisfied that this Epistle 
is a genuine Pauline Epistle, and that in conse- 
quence of this it has a right to a place among the 
canonical books of the New Testament. 

//. The Occasion and Object of the Epistle. 

It is impossible to tell who carried the First Epis- 
tle to its destination. Doubtless in a few short 
months another report came to the Apostle concern- 
ing the status of affairs at Thessalonica since the 
reception of the First Epistle. This report had 
many encouraging features. Progress had been 
made in faith and in love by the Thessalonian 
Christians, and there was much to cause thanks- 
giving on the part of the Apostle. Those who for- 
merly were greatly distressed by the death of their 
friends, had been comforted by the words of the 
first letter. But in spite of all this the idea of an 
immediate coming of the Lord had taken a firmer 
hold on the minds of some of them. Persecutions 
were still raging around the young Christian church, 
and in some cases there was a decided increase of 
fanaticism. The results of the expectancy of a 
speedy advent had been very demoralizing, for some 
had entirely ceased from their accustomed occupa- 
tions. As busybodies they were interfering with 
those who desired to work. 

Such disorders as had arisen could not be tolerated 
at all, and in his faithfulness the Apostle sternly re- 
bukes it. Feeling called on to exercise his apostolic 

* Weiss' Manual of Introd. to the N. T., Vol. I., p. 234. 


authority, he commands the disorderly ones **that 
with quietness they work and eat their own bread " 
(3 : 12). In connection with this matter the Apostle 
beseeches them not *' to be troubled, neither by 
spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that 
the day of Christ is at hand" (2 : 2). Evidently the 
Thessalonians had either misinterpreted what Paul 
had written in the First Epistle, or else a forged let- 
ter under Paul's name had been received by them. If 
the latter, as seems much more probable, it doubtless 
taught the immediate coming of Christ, and thus 
augmented the disturbance in that line. The em- 
phatic way in which Paul subscribes this letter (3 : 17) 
confirms the idea that it was a spurious letter by 
whose words they had been troubled. 

The occasion of this Epistle was the reception of 
additional news from Thessalonica. The main de- 
sign was to rectify the serious error into which they 
had fallen regarding the Second Advent, and also in 
this connection to warn them against that idle and 
disorderly condition into which some of their num- 
ber had fallen. In addition to this he uses the op- 
portunity to praise and commend the obedient for 
the progress they had made, and he exhorts them to 
continue in that way. The letter thus instructs, con- 
soles, encourages, and admonishes its readers. 

///. The Outline of the Epistle. 

I. Salutation. I : i, 2. 

II. Introduction, i : 3-12. 

I. He thanks God for their progress in faith and 
in charity. 1:3. 


2. Commends their patience in suffering. 1 14. 

3. Reminds them of the righteous judgments 

of God yet to come, i : 5-10. 
^4. Prays for them, i : 11, 12. 
(^Ilf) Dogmatic Portion, in which he speaks of the 
"Man of Sin," correcting the erroneous ideas that 
had arisen among them in regard to the Second Ad- 
vent. 2:1-12. 

IV. Hortatory Portion. 2 : 13-3 : 15. 

1. Renews his thanksgiving on their behalf. 

2: 13, 14. 

2. Exhorts them to stand fast. 2:15. 

3. Prays for them. 2 : 16, 17. 

4. Asks for their prayers in his own behalf. 


5. Affirms his confidence in them. 3 :4, 5. 

6. Reproves the disorderly, citing his own 

example among them, and charges the 
faithful to separate themselves from all 
such. 3 : 6-15. 

V. Conclusion. 3 : 16-18. 

1. Prays again for them. 3 : 16. 

2. Closing salutation and benediction. 3 : 17, 18. 

IV. Date ajid Place of Composition. 

The First Epistle was written at Corinth at the 
close of 52 A. D., or possibly early in 53 A. D. This 
Second Epistle was written at the same place a few 
months later. The name of Silas (Silvanus) is never 
again associated with Paul after this residence in Cor- 
inth, and for this reason this letter must have been 
written during this same period. All the time that 
we need to allow between the two Epistles is what 


would be sufficient for the reception of the First at 
Thessalonica, for it to become well known to the 
Christians there, and for their messenger to return 
to the Apostle with a full account of its reception 
and effect. This would require several months. 
It is to be noted that the circumstances of the 
Thessalonians do not seem to have changed much 
since the time of the former communication. The 
request of the Apostle for their prayers for his de- 
liverance from wicked and unreasonable men (3 : 2), 
may refer to the outbreak in Corinth after the ac- 
cession of Gallio to the deputy-ship of Achaia (Acts 
18 : 12-17). The most probable date seems to be the 
latter part of the Summer of 53 A. D. 

F. Peculiarities of this Epistle, 

The most marked peculiarity of this Epistle is its 
apocalyptic section on the '' Man of Sin" (2 : 1-12). 
It seems scarcely necessary to affirm that there is no 
real antagonism between the two Epistles in regard 
to the matter of the Second Advent of the Saviour. 
"The one Epistle," writes Professor Salmon, "pre- 
sents our Lord's second coming as possibly soon, the 
other as not immediate — as needing that certain 
prophetic preliminary signs should first be fulfilled."^ 
This section is clearly prophetic in its character. And 
this " prophecy is not independent of previous ones, 
— its roots are in Daniel, and from the beginning to 
the end it is full of allusions to our Lord's great 
apocalyptic discourse."^ 

5 Salmon's Introd. to the N. T., p. 460. 

®See Professor Warfield's articles on the Prophecies of St. Paul in 
the Expositor. 3rd Series, Vol. IV., p. 30. 


/. Canonicity. 

The list of external testimonies to this Epistle 
certainly includes Polycarp (ii6), if not also Clement 
of Rome (96), and Ignatius (115). The writer of the 
epistle to Diognetus (i 17) shows his dependence on 
it. Marcion (130) included it in his catalogue, omit- 
ting, however, two passages in it that contradicted 
his peculiar teachings. Justin Martyr (145) quotes it, 
and so does Tatian the Syrian (150-170). It is found 
in the Muratori Canon (170), as well as in the Syriac 
(160) and Old Latin (170) Versions. Certain early 
heretics, including the Ophites and others, used it. 
Irenaeus (175), Tertullian (190), and Clement of Alex- 
andria (195) repeatedly quote it by name and ascribe 
it to Paul. 

The internal evidence is likewise strong. The 
letter claims to be by Paul, reciting some of the 
events of his life not given elsewhere. The histor- 
ical references are capable of being perfectly harmon- 
ized with the Acts. It is also unquestionably Pauline 
in its matter, as well as in its manner. " The vehe- 
mence of temper, the desire to be present among 
them, the mixture of severity and tenderness in the 
censures, and the uncompromising maintenance of 
the great principle of Christian liberty, which per- 
vade the Epistle, all remind of Paul, and are all be- 
yond the art of a forger of the second century."'^ 
Indeed " its every sentence so completely reflects 
the life and character of the Apostle to the Gentiles 

' Gloag's Introd. to the Pauline Epistles, p. 137. 



that its genuineness has not been seriously ques- 
tioned," except by a very few, and they are of the 
ultra rationalistic school of Dutch critics who question 
everything. It may then be said that '* he who de- 
nies its genuineness pronounces on himself the sen- 
tence of incapacity to distinguish false from true."* 
So strong is this evidence from both sources, in- 
ternal and external, that even many critics who re- 
ject other Epistles, acknowledge this one to be a 
genuine Pauline Epistle. Such a concession is an 
acknowledgement of the force of the evidence. 
There is not the slightest reason for a doubt as to 
the authenticity and genuineness of this Epistle. 

//. The Galatian Churches. 

The Galatians were descendants of the Gauls who 
invaded Greece and Asia Minor about three centuries 
before the Christian Era. For a time these fierce 
Northerners swept everything before them, but at 
length they were defeated in 238 B. c, by Antiochus 
Soter, King of Syria, and Attains, King of Pergamos. 
After that disastrous defeat they were confined to a 
part of Phrygia, and they gave the name of Galatia 
to it. The Galatia of Paul and Luke was not the 
Roman province of that name, but was the earlier 
kingdom of Galatia which was only a part of it. 
A close examination of all the references to Ga- 
latia makes it evident that the New Testament writ- 
ers had in mind a narrower district than that of the 
Roman province. Passing through various fortunes, 

8 Quoted by Dean Howson in Bible Commentary. 


Galatia finally became absorbed in that province. 
**The country of Galatia afforded great facilities for 
commercial enterprise. With fertile plains rich in 
agricultural produce, with extensive pastures for 
flocks, with a temperate climate and copious rivers, 
it abounded in all those resources out of which a 
commerce is created."^ The principal cities were 
Ancyra, Tavium, and Pessinus. The special privi- 
leges granted to the Jews of Galatia attracted many 
of that nationality to the province, and their in- 
fluence became powerful among the Galatians. In 
addition to these Gaulish descendants and the Jews, 
there were the remnants of the aboriginal tribes. 
But despite this mixture of inhabitants, the Gala- 
tians largely retained their Celtic language and 

The Galatians had some marked characteristics. 
** Fickleness was a striking feature in the character 
of the Galatian converts. No country embraced the 
Gospel so readily and cordially. They received Paul 
with such gratitude and respect, as if he were an 
angel of God, yea, as if he were Jesus Christ Him- 
self; and they were willing, if it would have bene- 
fited the Apostle, to have plucked out their own 
eyes, and to have given them to him (Gal. 4 : 14, 15). 
But no church fell so quickly from the faith. Soon 
converted, they soon relapsed into Judaism. Impul- 
sive and easily acted upon by the Apostle, they were 
easily acted upon by false teachers." ^^ The Galatians 
were also superstitious and cruel. " The worship of 

^Lightfoot on Gal., p. 18. 
i^Gloag's Introd. to the Pauline epistles, p. 140, 


Cybele, with its wild ceremonial and hideous mutila- 
tions, would naturally be attractive to the Gaulish 

It was upon his second missionary journey that 
Paul in company with Silas and Timothy came into 
Galatia. A sudden attack of his peculiar malady, 
his thorn in the flesh, evidently compelled the Apos- 
tle to remain there longer than he had at first in- 
tended. Utilizing his enforced stay, he preached the 
Gospel to the Galatians, who heard with readiness 
his words and embraced the salvation offered through 
Christ. Instead of being repulsed by the nature of 
his disease, they had fairly rallied around Paul. His 
own words are, "Ye know how through infirmity of 
the flesh I preached the Gospel unto you at the first. 
And my temptation which was in my flesh ye de- 
spised not, nor rejected ; but received me as an angel 
of God, even as Christ Jesus. . . . For I bear you 
record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have 
plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to 
me" (4: 13-15). We have no means of telling how 
long the missionary band remained in Galatia, but it 
is evident that phenomenal success attended their 
labors. Some three years later (54 A. D.) Paul revis- 
ited the churches of Galatia, of which there were 
several, probably one in each of the three principal 
cities already named, if not also in other places in 
the province. On that second visit, which was dur- 
ing the Apostle's third missionary journey, he was 
principally engaged in " strengthening all the disci- 
ples." Passing from thence, Paul went on to Ephe- 
sus, reaching that city late in 54 A. D., and remaining 
there until Pentecost, 57 A. D. 


///. The Occasion ajid Object of the Epistle. 

Professor Warfield calls this " the fiery and tumul- 
tuous letter," and such it truly is, for it is eminently 
controversial. It was near the close of his residence 
at Ephesus, and about three years after his last visit 
in Galatia, that Paul was astounded to hear that the 
churches of Galatia were actually in danger of turn- 
ing their backs upon him and the Gospel he had 
preached to them with apparently so great success. 
"The tone of surprise of his letter sufficiently proves 
that he was wholly unprepared for the bad news 
when it did reach him, and this apparently indicates 
that he had not heard from the Galatian churches for 
some time."" Judaizing teachers had made their 
appearance among the Galatians. They were at- 
tempting to undermine the authority of the Apostle, 
and were teaching a very different gospel from the 
one he had taught. Now, much as the former 
touched him, he resented far more the perversion 
of the truth. 

The reception of this information was the occasion 
of this letter, and his object in writing it was to de- 
fend his own apostolic authority and to confute the 
erroneous teachings of the Judaizing teachers, as well 
as to exhort the Galatian Christians to constancy in 
the faith he had preached to them. Dean Howson 
writes : " In writing this Epistle he had two purposes 

11 So argues Professor Warfield in a paper read before the Exegetical 
Society in Dec, 1884, in which he proves that so far from the Apostle's 
having had any intimation of defection at the time of his second visit to 
Galatia, he supposed that all was satisfactory until the stunning news of 
apostasy came to him. 


in view, each essentially bound up with the other. 
He found it necessary on the one hand to assert and 
demonstrate his apostolic independence and author- 
ity, and on the other hand to re-state and to prove 
by argument the doctrine of free justification through 
faith. These things are done with great vehemence 
and force. The news from Galatia had startled him 
and filled him with anxiety. He saw what great 
principles were at stake, and how the whole future of 
Christianity was likely to be compromised. Hence 
there is in this Epistle an impress of severity and 
indignation, which we find in no other. "^^ 

IV. Outline of the Contents of the Epistle, 

The following is the outline of contents as given 
by Professor Warfield : — 

I. Apostolic address and greeting, i : 1-5. 

n. Statement of the object of this Epistle, with 
expressions of wonder at their speedy falling away 
from the true Gospel. 1:6-10. 

ni. Treatment of the first disputed fact, that Paul 
did not receive his Gospel from man's teaching, i : 
1 1-2 : 14. 

1. Formal affirmation of this fact, i : ii, 12. 

2. Proof of this fact. 1:13-2:14. 

(i.) His former intense Judaism. I : 13, 14. 
(2.) Rescued by divine power, he did not look 

to man for counsel and guidance, i : 

(3.) It was true that he visited Jerusalem, but 

it was three years after his conversion 

and for only fifteen days. I : 18, 19. 
12 See Bible Commentary, Introd. to Gal, 

galatians. 119 

(4.) Solemn asseveration of the truth of his 

statement, i : 20. 
(5.) So far from remaining with the apostles, 

he went far away, i : 21-24. 
(6.) Had been preaching independently for 

fourteen years. 2 : i-io. 
(7.) Above all that, he had withstood Peter 
at Antioch for his temporary vacilla- 
tion. 2 : 11-14. 
IV Treatment of second disputed fact, that sal- 
vation is by faith alone and not by works. 2:15- 
5 : 12. 

1. Transition to new subject. 2 : 15-21. 

2. Proof of doctrine that justification is by 

faith. 3 : 1-5 : 12. 
(i.) Experience of the Galatians. 3:1-5. 
(2.) Mode of Abraham's justification. 3:6-9. 
(3.) Scriptural account of the effect of the 

law. 3 : 10-14. 
(4.) Proof from the nature of the promises. 

(5.) Answer to the objection that this makes 

the law of none effect. 3 : 19-29. 
(6.) Answer to the objection that the Church 

was for ages under the law. 4 : 1-7. 
(7.) Appeals to them not to Judaize. 4 : 8-20. 
(8.) Final argument derived from the typical 

teaching of the law itself. 4 : 21-30. 
(9.) Earnest appeal to them to abide in this 

freedom in Christ. 4 : 31-5 : 12. 
V. Practical exhortations growing out of the fore- 
going. 5:13-6:10. 


1. Not to let their freedom degenerate into 

license. 5 : 13-15. 

2. How to keep the law. 5 : 16-18. 

3. Real test of walking by the Spirit. 5 : 19-26. 

4. Examples of fulfilling the law. 6 : i-io. 

VI. Conclusion in Paul's own handwriting. 6 : 

1. Calls attention to the large letters. 6:11. 

2. Exposes the motives of the Judaizers. 6 : 

12, 13. 

3. Gives the proper object of glorying and the 

reason for this. 6 : 14, 15. 

4. Invokes a blessing. 6 : 16. 

5. His own authority no longer to be disputed. 

6: 17. 

6. Benediction. 6:18. 

V, Date and Place of Composition. 

It is extremely difficult, if not utterly impos- 
sible, to fix absolutely the date of this Epistle, be- 
cause of its singular lack of time marks. This has 
given rise to great diversity of opinion on this mat- 
ter among scholars. It is to be noted, however, that 
this difference of opinion is only as to the exact 
point in time between 55 A. D. and 58 A. D., when it 
was written. It is generally agreed that the meet- 
ing of Gal. 2 : 2 was the Council of Jerusalem of 50 
A. D. (Acts 15). The manifest allusions to his sec- 
ond visit (1:9; 4:13; 5:21) seem to necessitate 
dating it after the visit on the third missionary jour- 
ney in 54 A. D. Quite a number of writers taking 
the words "so quickly" (1:6) have supposed that 
they refer to his second visit, and accordingly date 


the Epistle soon thereafter and early in the three 
years' residence at Ephesus, i. e. late in 54 A. D., or 
early in 55 A. D. Then the manifest relation of this 
Epistle to that to the Romans, the latter being a 
more formal enunciation of the doctrinal part of the 
former, necessitates dating it before February, 58 
A. D., when Romans was composed. Professor Jowett 
writes : *' The similarity and dissimilarity between 
the two Epistles (Galatians and Romans) are of that 
kind which tends to show that the Epistle to the 
Galatians could not have been written either after 
or contemporaneously with the Epistle to the Ro- 
mans, and that it was not therefore a compendium of 
it ; nor is it probable that it was written very long 
before it."^^ We thus obtain as our two outside 
limits of time 54 and 58 A. D. But where in this 
period does this Epistle come ? 

Within this same period come the two letters to 
the Corinthian Church. Bishop Lightfoot presents an 
elaborate argument for putting Galatians after First 
Corinthians, and argues that it was written after the 
Apostle left Ephesus, that is, after Pentecost, 57 A. D." 
On the other hand. Professor Warfield ^^ presents the 
strongest arguments for dating Galatians before First 
Corinthians. Taking the passages usually relied upon 
to prove that Paul was cognizant of the growing de- 
fection among the Galatians on his second visit to 
them in 54 A. D., he argues that they do not furnish 
the supposed basis for such a state of affairs. " There 
is," he writes, " a complete lack of anything that will 

i3Jowett's Epistles of St. Paul, Vol. I., p. 202. 

" Lightfoot on Galatians, p. 42. 

^^ Journal of Exegetical Society, 1885. 


justify us in asserting it to be even probable that the 
Judaizing heresy had already broken out, or even 
that unhealthy symptoms threatening the purity of 
the Church had already appeared, or that there was 
an inclination to yield to them apparent." Turning 
to First Corinthians, Dr. Warfield dwells upon " a 
few obscure allusions in the letter (i6 : i ; 9:2; 7 : 
17 ; 4 : 17) which taken together seem to raise a proba- 
bility in favor of the priority of Galatians to that 
Epistle sufficient to determine our opinion." These 
passages must be studied in detail in order that their 
cumulative force may be felt, for it is acknowledged 
that they do not singly prove the point in hand. 
Summing up the whole argument, the same authority 
continues : " In accordance with its resemblances 
with Romans and Second Corinthians, we must place 
its origin somewhat near the dates of those Epistles. 
In accordance with the * so quickly' of i : 6, the ref- 
erence of which is no doubt to the time of the con- 
version of the Galatians, but, conjoined with that, 
also to the time of his last seeing them, we must 
place it not too long after the Apostle's second visit. 
In accordance with its hints as to its place in the 
history of the Apostle's suffering, external or inter- 
nal, we must place it almost contemporaneous with 
First Corinthians. And in accordance with some 
seeming allusions to it in First Corinthians(i6: i ; 
9:2; 7:17; 4:17), we must place it before First 
Corinthians. We purpose, therefore, to assume pro- 
visionally that the Epistle was written at Ephesus, 
about, or somewhat earlier than the Passover of the 
year 57 A. D., and only a few weeks at most before 
First Corinthians. This conclusion is not firm ; it 


can be readily overturned by any real evidence to 
the contrary. But in the lack of decisive evidence 
either way, it appears to be the most probable con- 
clusion attainable." 

VI. Peculiarities. 

It is especially noticeable that there are no com- 
mendatory words in this Epistle. The Apostle 
rushes in medias res, and this leaves no time for 
the words of commendation with which he usually 
prefaces his letters. But while there is great sever- 
ity in this Epistle, there is still an undertone of ten- 
derness as he strives to win the Galatians back to 
the simplicity and truth of the Gospel. This is 
the most controversial of all the Pauline Epistles. 

This is the Epistle that was the inspiration of 
Martin Luther in the Reformation of which he was 
the great leader. Its great doctrine of justification 
by faith, so clearly set forth and so explicitly taught, 
led that mighty man out of the mazes of Romanism 
into the clear light of the Gospel. 

Another peculiarity of the Epistle is brought out 
in the words of 6: ii, "Ye see how large a letter I 
have written unto you with mine own hand." The 
translation of the Authorized Version here is mani- 
festly faulty, and that of the marginal reading of the 
Revised Version is a better rendering of the origi- 
nal, *' See with how large letters I write unto you 
with mine own hand." The word translated " how 
large" denotes the size of the characters, and not 
the length of the whole Epistle. The Apostle usu- 
ally availed himself of the services of an amanuensis 
(Rom. i6 : 22 ; i Cor. i6 : 21 ; Col. 4: 18 ; 2 Thess. 


3 : 17), and added with his own hand only the con- 
cluding words of his Epistles. So at this point (6 : 
11) he took the stylus from the hand of the amanu- 
ensis, and in bold characters wrote with his own 
hand the words of 6:11-18. The word translated 
" I write " is what is known as an epistolary aorist, 
and is conveniently translated by a present tense, 
marking the point at which the Apostle takes the 
pen in his own hand. Thus he himself adds the 
last words of the Epistle, writing them in large 
letters in order to make them more emphatic. The 
large characters also incidentally manifest the stress 
of feeling under which Paul was laboring at the time 
of the composition of this Epistle. 

, /. Canonicity. 

The canonicity of this Epistle is so well attested 
that there is absolutely no room for questioning it. 
Clement of Rome (96) quotes it by name in his letter 
to the Corinthians^ ascribing it to Paul. Ignatius 
(115), Polycarp (116), Justin Martyr (145), Irenaeus 
(175), Tertullian (190), and Clement of Alexandria 
(195), — all these quote it, the latter three by name, 
ascribing it to the Apostle: Thus we have an un- 
broken line of witnesses to it from the last decade 
of the first century. And the internal evidence is 
just as strong and positive. The Apostle reveals 
himself at every step in the Epistle. Thus it claims 
to be by Paul, and its language and thoughts are so 
unmistakably Pauline that few critics have ever had 
the hardihood to deny its Pauline authorship. In- 


deed there are so many allusions to the Apostle's 
movements, and so many expressions of his personal 
feelings abound throughout the whole Epistle, that 
its authenticity and genuineness are conclusively 
and absolutely established. 

//. The Corinthian Church. 

Corinth was one of the important cities of Paul's 
day. The city, however, that Paul knew was not 
the proud city that had stood at the head of the 
Achaean league. That old city was destroyed by 
the Romans in 146 B. C. Upon the ruins one hun- 
dred years later a new city arose under the fostering 
care of Julius Caesar, who made it a Roman colony. 
It was situated on the isthmus connecting the Pelo- 
ponnesus with Greece proper. It soon became, 
under its new auspices, a great commercial center 
on account of its commanding position on the great 
thoroughfare of commerce. Through its seaports, 
Lechaeum and Cenchrea, the one on the north and 
the other on the south of the isthmus, which were 
connected by a ship-canal, the commerce of East 
and West continually passed. It became a great 
commercial center into which all nationalities flowed. 
Wealth and magnificence adorned it on every side. 
But its beauty was marred by the fact that its re- 
ligions pandered to the basest passions of men. 
Celebrated for its splendor, it also became infamous 
on account of its frightful immorality. Its very 
name was the synonym for the worst forms of 

To this city the Apostle came late in the year 52 
A. D. Here he soon found congenial companions in 


the persons of Aquila and Priscilla, who as Jews 
had been expelled from Rome in accordance with 
the edict issued by the Emperor Claudius against the 
Jews residing in that city. These persons were tent- 
makers by trade, and were also very probably Chris- 
tians. This community of occupation and faith, 
especially the latter, would operate to bind them 
very closely together. The Apostle worked at his 
trade in order to obtain his living, but at the same 
time he lost no opportunity of preaching Christ. 
Paul seems to have labored at first at Corinth under 
great depression of spirits. At length Silas and 
Timothy arrived from Macedonia. Their coming 
stimulated the great missionary to increased ear- 
nestness and activity. " And when Silas and Timo- 
thy were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in 
the spirit and testified to the Jews that Jesus was 
Christ " (Acts i8 : 5). This increased zeal aroused 
the slumbering opposition of the Corinthian Jews in 
whose Synagogue the Apostle had been preaching. 
They drove him from their place of worship, but this 
did not happen until a number of converts had been 
made, among whom was Crispus, the chief ruler of 
the Synagogue. Driven out of their Synagogue by 
the Jews, the Apostle turned his attention to the 
Gentiles. It was at this critical moment that the 
Lord appeared to Paul in a vision, and encouraged 
him by saying, ** Be not afraid, but speak and hold 
not thy peace ; for I am with thee, and no man shall 
set on thee to hurt thee ; for I have much people in 
this city." Paul's continued success intensified the 
hostility of the Jews, and when Gallio, the brother of 
the philosopher Seneca, became the deputy of Achaia, 


they thought that they could obtain from him a 
judgment that would silence the zealous Apostle. 
Their well-known failure (Acts i8 : 12-17) shows how 
they over-reached themselves, and only contributed 
further success to the work of the missionaries, for 
the outcome of the whole affair was that Paul thence- 
forth had easier access to the Gentiles, who at the 
time rather espoused his cause on account of their 
own hatred of the Jews. 

At the end of eighteen months, in the Spring of 
54 A. D., the Apostle departed for Ephesus, leaving 
behind him in Corinth a flourishing Christian com- 
munity. For some reason he took with him Aquila 
and Priscilla, whom he had led to a clearer percep- 
tion of Christian truth. After a short stay in Ephe- 
sus, Aquila and Priscilla remaining there, Paul went 
to Jerusalem, his purpose being to attend the Feast 
of Pentecost, which occurred that year on May 31. 
From Jerusalem he went to Syrian Antioch where 
he spent a few weeks. Leaving Antioch, he started 
out on his third missionary journey, reaching Ephe- 
sus late in 54 A. D., where he remained until Pente- 
cost 57 A. D., and from whence he wrote this First 
Epistle to the Corinthians. 

The Church at Corinth was composed mainly of 
Gentiles. " The greater part of this Epistle has 
reference to questions that would naturally arise 
among Gentile converts ; and Paul could say of the 
Church collectively, ' Ye know that ye were Gentiles, 
carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were 
led'" (i Cor. 12:2). With few exceptions these 
Christians were poor and unlearned (i : 26). Nor 
were there many of the higher ranks in life, except 


Crispus, the former ruler of the Synagogue, Erastus 
the City Chamberlain, and one Gaius. Sometime 
after Paul departed from Corinth, another promi- 
nent worker became associated with the Corinthian 
Church. Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew, who had 
previously become a disciple of John the Baptist, 
came to Ephesus. Aquila and Priscilla having 
come in contact with this man, gave him some 
needed instruction in Christian truth. Hearing from 
them of the Christian work in Corinth, he desired 
to assist in it. "And when he was disposed to pass 
into Achaia, the brethren (of Ephesus) wrote, ex- 
horting the disciples (of Corinth) to receive him ; 
who, when he was come, helped them much which 
believed through grace ; for he mightily convinced 
the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the Script- 
ures that Jesus was Christ " (Acts 18:24-28). This 
man's coming to Corinth was in many ways a great 
help, for he watered with his eloquence the seed that 
Paul had planted. 

///. Occasion and Object of the Epistle. 

Toward the close of his residence in Ephesus the 
Apostle received word of a very distressing state of 
affairs in Corinth. He doubtless was not wholly un- 
prepared for the news, but members of the household 
of Chloe brought him a full account of affairs. Apol- 
los seems to have returned to Ephesus at this junc- 
ture, and then a committee from the Corinthian 
Church, consisting of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and 
Achaicus, waited upon the Apostle, bringing a 
letter in which were submitted to him for solution 
some perplexing questions. Judaizing teachers had 


made their appearance in Corinth, and had set them- 
selves at work to undermine Paul's authority ; while 
the Church itself had become disturbed beyond 
measure. " The Church was split up into factions. 
Sins of uncleanness, so prevalent and regarded with 
indifference at Corinth, had polluted the Christian 
Church ; the Christians had not completely cast off 
the old man ; and especially an offense of this nature 
of a peculiarly aggravated description had occurred, 
and the offender had not been expelled from the 
Christian community. A litigious spirit had arisen. 
Disputes had been carried to such an extent, that 
Christian arbitration was rejected, and brother went 
to law with brother, and that before unbelievers. 
The religious assemblies of the Church frequently 
exhibited scenes of confusion ; several prophesied at 
once ; others spake with tongues, when there was no 
interpreter ; women appeared in those assemblies in 
unbecoming attire ; and even the Agapae and the 
Lord's Supper were so profaned, that excess in eat- 
ing and drinking was not unfrequent at their celebra- 
tion. Several Christians, also, making a parade of 
their liberty, seem to have attended the sacrificial 
banquets held in the heathen temples. And there 
were some who went the length of denying or calling 
in question the doctrine of a resurrection, — perhaps 
even the idea of a future life." ^^ 

It is plain that a number of difficult questions 
were submitted to the Apostle for his judgment. 
And there was need for a clear and positive letter 
from the Apostle. The object in view in writing 
this letter was twofold, namely : first, to correct 

i^Gloag's Iijtrod. to the Pauline Epistles, p. 179. 



the disorders that had arisen, and second, to answer 
the questions submitted to him. At the same time 
Paul embraces the opportunity for urging the col- 
lection for the poor saints at Jerusalem. 

As Timothy had been sent by Paul on some 
errand to Macedonia and Achaia (Acts 19 : 22) some 
time before this, it was manifest that he could not 
have been the bearer of this letter. And the refer- 
ences to Timothy in this letter make it plain that 
Paul did not expect that he would reach Corinth 
until after they had received it (4:17; 16:10). 
Judging from a reference in the Second Epistle (12 : 
17, 18), Titus was the bearer of this Epistle. It is 
probable also that the three Corinthians, Stephanas, 
Fortunatus, and Achaicus, returned with him. The 
Apostle desired to have Apollos go with them, but 
for some reason, possibly he may have thought that 
his presence might aggravate the factious spirit 
there, he decided not to go at that time (16:12). 
Sosthenes, who is associated with Paul in the salu- 
tation of the Epistle, is unknown to us from any 
other source. The Corinthians doubtless had some 
acquaintance with him. He may have acted as 
Paul's amanuensis on this occasion. 

IV. Outlme of the Epistle. 

The diversified contents of the Epistle make it 
difficult to give an outline, but the following will 
indicate the general contents of the Epistle : — 

I. Greeting and thanksgiving, i : 1-9. 
( 2j The party-spirit in the church, with a detailed 
justification of Paul's method of teaching, i : 10- 


3. Disorders in the Church. 5 : 1-6 : 20. 
^(i.)'^The incestuous offender. 5 : 1-13. 
/ (2.)^ Their lawsuits. 6 : i-ii. 

(3.) On impurity in general. 6:12-20. 

4. Answers to inquiries in regard to, 7 : I-15 158. 
(i.) Marriage. 7:1-40. 

f (2.) pleats offered to idols, with digression as 
to the way he had acted. 8 : 1-9 : 27. 
(3.) Warnings against the abuse of their liberty. 

10: 1-33. 
(4.) Regulations for public worship. ii:i- 

(^(«.)'iAs to head coverings. 11 : 1-16. 
r(^.)\As to the Agapae and the Lord's Supper. 

{c,) As to spiritual gifts, with digression in 
the magnificent eulogy on love (13 : i- 
X 13). 12:1-14:40. 

(^(5.))The Resurrection. 15 : 1-58. 

5. Directions as to the collections for the poor. 
16 : 1-4. 

6. Personal messages and exhortations. 16:5-18. 

7. Salutations. 16 : 19, 20. 

8. Autographic conclusion. 16:21-24. 

V. Date and Place of Composition. 

This is quite easily determined. When he wrote, 
he was expecting to remain at Ephesus until Pente- 
cost. He was making his preparations to leave 
Ephesus to go to Macedonia and from thence to 
Corinth. He had been in Ephesus since late in 54 
A. D., and he left that city immediately after Pente- 
cost 57 A, D. In accordance with these facts the 


date of composition was a short time previous to 
Pentecost of 57 A. D., and the place where it was 
written was Ephesus. 

VI. Concluding Remarks, 

This is an intensely practical Epistle, and it 
should be carefully studied for the light it throws 
upon the many questions that arise in regard to 
Christian conduct. It is the book in which to find 
instruction for all time on questions concerning 
Christian freedom and conduct. *' The brevity and 
yet completeness with which intricate practical 
problems are discussed, the unerring firmness with 
which through all plausible sophistry and fallacious 
scruples the radical principle is laid hold of, and the 
sharp finality with which it is expressed, reveal not 
merely the bright-eyed sagacity and thorough Chris- 
tian feeling of Paul, but also his measureless intel- 
lectual vigor, while such a passage as the thirteenth 
chapter betrays that strong and sane imagination 
which can hold in view a wide field of human life, 
and the fifteenth rises from a basis of keen cut and 
solidly laid reasoning to the most dignified and stir- 
ring eloquence. It was a happy circumstance for 
the future of Christianity that in these early days, 
when there were almost as many wild suggestions 
and foolish opinions as there were converts, there 
should have been this one clear practical judgment, 
the embodiment of Christian wisdom. "^^ 

In this Epistle the Apostle appears before us as a 
strange mixture of tenderness and severity. " At 
one time he rebukes with impassioned severity ; at 

i7Dods' Introd. to the N. T., p. 103. 



another he entreats with the tenderness of a loving 
mother mourning over her erring children." And 
nowhere does his princely intellect shine out more 
clearly than in some of the thrilling, soul-stirring 
passages of this Epistle. How many Christian 
graves have been made to appear as the gate- 
way to heaven by the reading thereat of the 
fifteenth chapter ! And where in all the range of 
human literature is to be found a passage equal to 
the description of love in the thirteenth chapter ? 
And how often the sacramental hosts of God's elect 
have been thrilled by hearing read the words of in- 
stitution, recorded in ii 123-29, as they approached 
the Lord's Table ! 

/. Canonicity. 

The external testimony to this Epistle is not 
quite as strong as that to the First. It is, however, 
by no means weak, or even unsatisfactory. Polycarp 
(116) plainly quotes it. The writer of the Epistle to 
Diognetus (117), Theophilus of Antioch (168-182), 
Athenagoras (177), betray its influence on them. 
Marcion (130) included it in his list; so also is it 
found in the Muratori Canon (170). The Syriac 
(160) and Old Latin (170) Versions contain it. Then 
Irenaeus (175), Tertullian (190), and Clement of Alex- 
andria (195), quote it by name as a genuine Pauline 
Epistle. The internal evidence is along the same 
line. The Epistle claims to be by Paul, and all of 
its historical allusions bear out this claim. " No one 
can read the two Epistles to the Corinthians with at- 


tention, without being satisfied that the writer of the 
First was also the writer of the Second. The char- 
acter of the author is the same : there is the same 
combination of severity and tenderness ; at one time 
the stern reprover of sin, and at another the tender 
parent mourning over the delinquencies of his chil- 
dren ; at one time threatening the Corinthians that 
if he should come again he would not spare (2 Cor. 
13 :2), and at another time writing unto them with 
many tears (2 Cor. 2 : 4). The style is undoubtedly 
that of Paul." ^* And this is rendered all the more cer- 
tain by the manifest harmony between the state- 
ments made in the Acts and those in these two 
Epistles. ^^ Indeed so closely arc the two Epistles 
related, that the arguments in support of the First 
Epistle help to establish the Second as well. We 
may consider the position of this Epistle in the 
New Testament as impregnable. 

//. To Whom Written. 

The First Epistle is addressed " unto the church 
of God which is at Corinth . . . with all that in 
every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our 
Lord." A good deal of controversy has been waged 
over the meaning of this last clause ; but, consider- 
ing the special character of the Epistle, addressed 
as it was to the immediate condition of the Corinth- 
ians, it seems best to understand it "in a sense of 
topographical restriction to the province of Achaia." 
There was a church at Cenchrea (Rom. 16 : i), one 
of the ports of Corinth, and there doubtless were 

^^Gloag's Introd. to the Pauline Epistles, p. 204. 
i^See Paley's Horse Paulinse. 


other churches in the same neighborhood. This 
Second Epistle is addressed '* unto the church of 
God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which 
are in all Achaia." It is manifest that both of these 
Epistles were primarily intended for the church at 
Corinth ; but if, as seems evident, there were other 
churches in close relation geographically and other- 
wise to the Corinthian church, there was need of 
including them in the salutations. Churches in such 
relation to the Corinthian church would be likely to 
have about the same needs as their mother-church 
had. This Epistle, accordingly, was addressed to 
the same circle of readers mentioned in the First 

///. The Occasion and Object of this Epistle. 

The Apostle remained in Ephesus for a time after 
having sent his First Epistle to the Corinthians. 
Leaving Ephesus at length immediately after Pente- 
cost 57 A. D., Paul journeyed to Troas. At this 
point he had expected to meet Titus on his way 
back from Corinth with a full account of the recep- 
tion of the First Epistle by the Corinthian Chris- 
tians. Great was his disappointment when Titus 
failed to appear. At lengtji, although a door was 
opened to him at Troas to preach the Gospel, he 
pressed on across the ^gean Sea to Macedonia, 
hoping thereby to meet Titus all the sooner. His 
feverish anxiety to hear from Corinth would not 
permit him to remain at Troas, for, he says, '' I had 
no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my 
brother : but taking my leave of them [of Troas], I 
went from thence into Macedonia" (2 Cor. 2:13). 


And even in Macedonia the same anxiety was upon 
him until Titus came. ''For, when we were come 
into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we 
were troubled on every side ; without were fight- 
ings, within were fears. Nevertheless God that 
comforteth those that are cast down, comforted 
us by the coming of Titus" (2 Cor. 7:5, 6). Just 
at what point Titus and Paul met, we have no means 
of telling. Immediately the Apostle wrote this Sec- 
ond Epistle which he sent by the hand of Titus who 
was accompanied by two others. "And we have 
sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the 
gospel throughout the churches" (8:18). It has 
been conjectured, and indeed we have an early 
tradition to this effect, that this person was none 
other than Luke the historian, who rejoined the 
Apostle when he reached Philippi on this his third 
journey. Luke remained at Philippi when Paul left 
that city on his second journey and very probably 
he spent the intervening time at that place. ''And 
we have sent with him our brother whom we have 
oftentimes proved diligent in many things " (8 : 22). 
Who this third person was we have no means of 
telling. It may possibly have been either Apollos 
or Sosthenes. 

It is to be noted that Timothy is associated with 
Paul in the salutations of this Epistle. From this 
fact it is evident that he had returned from his jour- 
ney into Macedonia and Achaia (Acts 19 : 22 ; i Cor. 
4 : 17). When the Apostle wrote his First Epistle to 
the Corinthians, he expected that it would reach its 
destination before Timothy arrived there (i Cor. 16: 
10 ; 4 : 17). Here we have Timothy with Paul again. 


Some writers have advanced the idea that Timothy 
did not carry out the plan of the Apostle that he 
should go to Achaia as well as to Macedonia, but 
that he had rejoined Paul's company in Macedonia 
and had not gone to Achaia at all. The reason 
given for this idea is that Paul nowhere in this Epis- 
tle attributes his knowledge of Corinthian affairs to 
information derived from Timothy, but from Titus. 
But we have no evidence of Timothy's having failed 
to carry out Paul's plan for his movements as indi- 
cated in the First Epistle. Indeed if Timothy had 
failed to reach Corinth as promised in the First Epis- 
tle, it would have been necessary to explain this fail- 
ure in this Epistle. It would only have given further 
occasion to Paul's enemies to accuse him of vacilla- 
tion and failure to keep his promises, if Timothy, who 
is always so closely associated with him, had failed 
to go to Corinth. We must infer then that Timothy 
did go to Corinth. It is probable that he remained 
there but a short time, and departed again before the 
full effects of Paul's First Epistle were manifest. And 
the fact that he is associated with the Apostle in the 
greetings of this Epistle is sufficient reason for his 
naming Titus as the channel of his information. 
Timothy undoubtedly brought some news, but it 
was upon Titus, the bearer of the First Epistle, that 
Paul depended for full information. 

This information brought by Titus was not alto- 
gether satisfactory. The majority of the church had 
submitted to the Apostle and were loyal to him once 
more ; the chief offender against the purity of the 
church had been excommunicated and had repented ; 
and there was deep grief over the disorders that had 


arisen. But while the majority had submitted, there 
was still a vigorous faction that refused to recognize 
the Apostle's authority. These persons had trumped 
up new charges against Paul. "Their animosity to 
the Apostle was greater than when he wrote the 
First Epistle. They brought forward new charges. 
They accused Paul of lightness and irresolution, — 
changing his mind, purposing at one time to come 
and at another time resolving not to come, as if he 
were afraid (2 Cor. i : 16-18). They charged him 
with pride and arrogance, — seeking to exalt himself 
above them, and to exercise a dominion over their 
faith (2 Cor. i : 24). They insinuated that he was 
artful and cunning in his conduct (2 Cor. 12 : 16). 
They openly denied his apostleship, and refused to 
acknowledge his authority (2 Cor. 12:11, 12). And 
they contrasted the severity and boldness of his let- 
ters with the weakness and contemptible nature of 
his personal appearance"^*' (2 Cor. 10:10). 

"The calumnies of his opponents had wounded 
him deeply, especially as they touched points where 
his best intentions had been twisted by them into 
the very opposite. He wrote under great excitement, 
the throbs of which are felt throughout the Epistle. "^^ 
The purpose of the Apostle in writing this Second 
Epistle was to confirm and commend the obedient 
portion of the church, and also to meet and over- 
throw the charges and new insinuations of his ene- 
mies. He also used the opportunity for further 
directions and exhortations in regard to the collec- 
tion for the poor saints in Jerusalem. Meyer writes, 
*'The aim of the Epistle is stated by Paul himself at 

20 Gloag's Introd. to the Pauline Epistles, p. 2il. 
»i Weiss' Introd., Vol. L, p. 285. 


13 : 10, viz : to put the church before his arrival into 
that frame of mind which it was necessary that he 
should find, in order that he might thereupon set to 
work among them, not with stern, corrective au- 
thority, but for their edification. But in order to 
attain this aim, he had to make it his chief task to 
elucidate, confirm, and vindicate his apostolic author- 
ity, which, in consequence of his former letter, had 
been assailed still more vehemently, openly and in- 
fluentially by his opponents. For if that were re- 
gained, if the church were again confirmed on that 
point, and the opposition defeated, every hindrance 
to his successful personal labor among them would 
be removed. With the establishment of his apos- 
tolic character and reputation, he is therefore chiefly 
occupied in the whole Epistle ; everything else is 
only subordinate, including a detailed appeal respect- 
ing the collection." ^^ 

IV. The Otitline of the Epistle, 

This is even more difficult to give of this Epistle 
than it was of the former. Here the development of 
thought is not systematic and logical. The ex- 
tremely personal character of the Epistle largely 
accounts for this. There are, however, three quite 
well marked main parts to it. 
I. Hortatory, i : 1-7 : 13. 

I. Greeting and thanksgiving, i : i-ii. 
/ 2.\Reasons for the changes in his plans, i: 
3. Expressions of gratitude at their obedience 
and recommendation of restoration of the 
repentant offender. 2 : i-ii. 

** Meyer's Commentary on 2 Cor., p. 128. 


4. His great anxiety for them, until he heard 

from Titus about them. 2 : 12-17. 

5. Contrasts the glorious nature of the Gospel 

with the law. 3 : 1-18. 

6. Describes the difficulties encountered by 

himself 4 : 1-15. 

7. The future rewards, however, strengthened 

him. 4 : 16-5 : 13. 

8. The love of Christ the mainspring of his 

life. 5 : 14-21. 

9. Beseeches them to be pure and holy in their 

lives. 6 : 1-7 : i. 
10. Speaks again of his anxiety about them and 
the comfort Titus' message brought him. 


II. Directions about the collection and the mat- 
ters of Christian giving generally. 8 : 1-9 : 15. 

1. Informs them of the example of the Mace- 

donians. 8 : 1-5. 

2. The mission of Titus in regard to this col- 

lection. 8 : 6-24. 

3. Exhorts them to be ready with their offer- 

ing. 9:1-15- 

III. Severe and threatening vindication of himself 
to the impenitent portion of the Church. 10 : i- 
13 : 14. 

1. Answers the slanders of his opponents, and 

details with reluctance what he had suf- 
fered for Christ, and tells of the special 
revelations given to him. 10 : 1-12 : 10. 

2. Continues his personal defense. 12 : 11-21. 

3. Announces his coming to them. 13 : i. 

4. Tells them that he will not spare them if he 

found need for severity. 13:2-10. 


5. Farewell exhortation and salutation. 13 ; 


6. Apostolic benediction. 13 : 14. 

V. Date and Place of Composition. 

The First Epistle was written at Ephesus, some- 
time between Passover and Pentecost of 57 A. D. 
This Second Epistle followed it after an interval of 
a few weeks, or at most a few months. It was 
written from some point in Macedonia, very prob- 
ably not at Philippi, as we have no reason for be- 
lieving that Titus met Paul there. There would 
doubtless have been some reference to Philippi in 
the Epistle, if it had been written from that place. 
It was the original plan of the Apostle to go from 
Ephesus direct to Corinth and from thence to 
Macedonia. But when he heard from Corinth in 
regard to the sad state of affairs there, it seemed 
best to defer his visit until he had re-established his 
authority among them by his letter (2 Cor. 1:15, 
16, 23). When he wrote his First Epistle, he said, 
"■ Now I will come unto you when I shall pass 
through Macedonia, for I do pass through Mace- 
donia. And it may be that I will abide, yea, and 
winter with you, that ye may bring me on my 
journey whithersoever I go. For I will not see you 
now by the way ; but I trust to tarry awhile with 
you, if the Lord permit" (i Cor. 16: 5-7). This is 
the announcement of the change in his plans, and in 
2 Cor. 1:15, 16, 23, he explains this change of plans. 
Paul departed then from Ephesus after Pentecost 
57 A. D. (i Cor. 16 : 8), and passed by way of Troas 
into Macedonia. It was somewhere in that prov- 
ince that he met Titus, and he immediately wrote 


this Epistle, that is, during the latter part of the 
Summer of 57 A. D. In his Epistle to the Romans, 
written in February, 58 A. D., he speaks of having 
preached the Gospel of Christ round about unto 
Illyricum (Rom. 15 : 19). It was during this same 
Summer and the subsequent Fall that he did this, 
arriving finally at Corinth about December, 57 A. D., 
where he spent the following three months (Acts 

VL Conclusion. 

There are two other questions involved in the 
study of the Epistles to the Corinthians, that demand 
some consideration. 

I. Did Paul visit Corinth a second time before 
writing his Epistles to the Christians of that city 1 
So far as the book of the Acts is concerned there is 
nothing even to suggest this question, for it seems 
on the contrary to preclude the possibility of a visit 
there during the three years' residence in Ephesus. 
But when we examine certain references in the 
Second Epistle (2:1; 12 : 14 ; 13 : i),we are led to 
ask whether Paul did not make a visit to Corinth 
that is not recorded in the Acts. In 13:2 wc read, 
** I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were 
present, the second time ; . . . that if I come again, 
I will not spare." If this translation is correct, the 
approaching visit would be the second, but if we 
adopt the rendering of the Revised Version, which 
reads, '* I have said beforehand, and I do say before- 
hand, as when I was present the second time," etc., 
the approaching visit would be the third. Some 
maintain that when Paul says, " This is the third 
time I am coming to you," he means that it was the 


third time he was ready to do so, but that he did 
not actually go a second time until after these let- 
ters were written. But in 2 Cor. 2 : i he writes, " I 
determined this with myself that I would not come 
again to you in heaviness." When did he go to 
them in heaviness } This could not have been at 
the time of his first visit, for this heaviness was 
occasioned by the conduct of the Corinthians. It 
is true that he seems to have been depressed in 
spirit when he went to Corinth from Athens on his 
second missionary journey (Acts 18 : 5), but this 
depression, if there was any, was not caused by 
the Corinthians. Now it seems from all these pas- 
sages that the approaching visit would be the third. 
But when was the second made } It must have 
been before the composition of the First Epistle. 
The means of communication between Ephesus and 
Corinth were easy and numerous. Paul very prob- 
ably heard such unsatisfactory news from Corinth 
that some time during his Ephesian residence he 
took a hurried and brief trip there. At that time 
in great grief he had tried mild measures for the 
correction of the abuses that were spreading. That 
visit had been a painful one to him, and it had been 
a time of humiliation. But those mild measures had 
not been successful, and when he learned this he 
wrote his letters, in the latter of which, he informed 
them plainly that when he came again he would not 
spare, that he would be as severe as the occasion 
demanded. ^^ 

23 In support of this unrecorded visit are the following writers : 
Conybeare, Ellicott, Wieseler, Meyer, Alford, Olshausen, Reuss, ancj 


2. Another question of interest here is whether 
Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthians that we do not 
now possess. In i Cor. 5:9 the Apostle says, " I 
wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with 
fornicators." But where does he write this } It 
cannot mean in this First Epistle, for no such 
command can be found in it. The most natural 
understanding is that Paul did write a letter to 
Corinth in regard to the special evil in their church. 
This letter is not preserved to us. It may have been 
a brief note in which the Apostle enjoined separation 
from profligate people, and in it he may have an- 
nounced his purpose to visit them first before he 
should go into Macedonia. 

This letter reveals to us more of the character of 
the Apostle than any other. It may seem at times 
almost egotistical, but Paul was not led to write as 
he did by any unworthy motives. The circum- 
stances compelled his writing such a letter. He had 
to defend himself against malicious attacks, and in 
doing so he gives us that wonderful catalogue of his 
sufferings and trials for Christ in 11:23-33. That 
record shows us how little we do actually know of 
the Apostle's stormy and heroic life. In this letter 
we can almost hear his heart beat. "None of his 
other letters give us so clear a view of his noble, ten- 
der heart, the sufferings and joys of his inward life, 
his alternations of feelings, his anxieties and strug- 
gles for the welfare of his churches. These were his 
daily and hourly care, as his children whom he had 
brought forth in travail ; and the mortification their 
conduct had caused him, far from cooling his affec- 
tion for them, only Inflamed his love and his holy 

ROMANS, 145 

zeal for their eternal salvation."^* "The First Epis- 
tle to the Corinthians shows us how he applied the 
principles of Christianity to daily life in dealing with 
the flagrant aberrations of a most unsatisfactory 
Church : his Second Epistle to the Corinthians opens 
a window into the very emotions of his heart, and is 
the agitated self-defense of a wounded and loving 
spirit to ungrateful and erring, yet not wholly lost, 
or wholly incorruptible souls." ^^ 

/. Canonicity, 

This is one of the best attested books in the New 
Testament. According to De Wette its authenticity 
is raised above all doubt. The external testimony 
begins with Clement of Rome (96), and includes 
Ignatius (115), Polycarp (116), T he Tes taments of the 
Twelve Patriarchs (120), Aristides (138-161), Justin 
Martyr (145), Marcion (130), Muratori Canon (170), 
Theophilus of Antioch (168), Irenaeus (175), Ter- 
tullian (190), Clement of Alexandria (195). There 
are nineteen witnesses to it before the beginning 
of the third century, including not only orthodox 
writers, but also heretics, who use the Epistle as 
authoritative Scripture, and all the late writers 
ascribe it to Paul. "The internal evidence of its 
genuineness has carried conviction to the minds of 
the most cautious and the most skeptical critics. 
Every chapter, in fact, bears the impress of the 
same mind from which the Epistles to the churches 

2*SchafE's History of the Apostolic Church, Vol. I., p. 344. 
25 Farrar's Life and Work of St. Paul, chap. 33. 

10 ..■ 


of Corinth and Galatia undoubtedly proceeded ; and 
even Baur and the critics of his school who make 
every effort to prove the last two chapters spurious, 
are obliged to admit that the rest of the Epistle is 
the genuine work of St. Paul." ^^ Bleek says, " The 
genuineness of the Epistle to the Romans cannot 
be disputed on any reasonable grounds ; it is con- 
clusively established both by its internal character 
and by external witnesses. It never was suspected 
in the early Church ; on the contrary, we have the 
earliest traces of its being recognized and used as 
a work of the Apostle Paul's in Clemens Romanus 
and Polycarp, and even in the Ep;stle to the 
Hebrews, and perhaps in the First Epistle of St. 
Peter. "'^ 

Objections have been raised as to the integrity of 
the letter, and some reject the last two chapters, 
claiming that the benediction of i6 : 25-27 really 
belongs at the end of the fourteenth chapter. As 
to the fifteenth chapter, however, it can be said with 
confidence that " the result of modern criticism has 
been to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it is 
both the genuine work of Paul, and an original por- 
tion of the Roman Epistle." Against 16:3-24 it has 
been argued that as Paul had never been at Rome, 
he could not possibly have known so many of the 
Roman Christians. One writer has propounded the 
theory that this section really was written by Paul, 
but at a later date, after the first Roman imprison- 
ment, which was his earliest opportunity of forming 
so many acquaintances among them. This writer 

26 Gifford in Bible Commentary. 
87|31eek's Introd. to N. T., p. 447. 

ROMANS. 147 

holds that this section was afterwards add^d to this 
Epistle. There are twenty-four persons named in 
this section, and Prof. Gifford argues ^^ that Paul could 
not have known all these at the time of the composi- 
tion of this Epistle. When Paul left Ephesus just 
after Pentecost in 57 A. D., Aquila and Priscilla were 
there. But in this section the Church that is in their 
house is saluted. Can we suppose, it is asked, that 
they went away from Ephesus so soon after Paul's 
departure, and had gone to Rome } But in regard to 
them it is to be remembered that Rome was their 
home, and that having been expelled from that city 
by the edict of the Emperor Claudius, they would 
doubtless return again as soon as they could. Fur- 
thermore it is to be noted that Paul evidently names 
all the persons he knew who were in Rome. He had 
labored in commercial centers and among the work- 
ing classes, and he could not help meeting as many 
as he names. People were constantly traveling be- 
tween Rome and the provinces, and Paul would meet 
any Christians who happened to come to the cities 
where he was preaching. Andronicus and Junia he 
calls, " my fellow-prisoners " (16 : 7). In 2 Cor. 1 1 : 23 
he speaks of "prisons more frequent." Who can say 
that they had not been imprisoned with Paul on one 
of these occasions.? And as to the warnings against 
false teachers (16 : 17-20), they need occasion no spe- 
cial remark in view of the experiences the Apostle 
had already had in Galatia and Corinth. 

Doubtless one cause of the discussions over these 
last two chapters is found in the fact that the bene- 
diction is placed by some authorities at the end of 

«8 Trof. Gifford in the Bible Commentary. 


the fourteenth chapter. But all the great MSS and 
the Latin Fathers place it where it is now found, 
and with them the great textual critics agree. ^^ 
None of the MSS omit the benedictions entirely, 
they only differ as to the proper place for them. 
But despite these objections the integrity of the 
Epistle as it now stands is certain. The real facts 
in the case establish this beyond the possibility of 
a doubt. 

And in view of what has been said the Pauline 
authorship is established. It claims to be by Paul, 
and there is not a single argument that can be suc- 
cessfully urged against the faith of the Church. It 
is Pauline in language and matter, and its historical 
references harmonize with all known facts of the 
life of the great Apostle to the Gentiles. 

//. The Roman Church. 

The origin of this church cannot now be dis- 
covered. The Roman Catholic Church claims that 
Peter founded it in the second year of the Emperor 
Claudius (42 A. D.), and that he presided over it as 
its bishop for twenty-five years. This claim, how- 
ever, is negatived by several facts. In this Epistle 
no reference is made to Peter. Surely if Peter had 
been at the head of this church for fifteen years 
when Paul wrote this Epistle, he would have at least 
mentioned his name. And if he had been there, 
what occasion would there have been for Paul to 
write to that church, for it was not his custom to 
build on another man's foundation .? But there is 
not the slightest intimation in the New Testament 

^^ Tischendorf , Tregelles, Westcott and Hort. 

ROMANS. 149 

that Peter ever visited Rome. On the contrary, 
there are many things to indicate that he spent his 
life in Judea and the far East. In 44 A. D., he was 
imprisoned in Jerusalem by Herod Agrippa. In 50 
A. D., he was in the same city when the council was 
called to consider the questions sent in from An- 
tioch. In 64 A. D., he wrote his First Epistle from 
Babylon. Then in not one of the Epistles that Paul 
wrote from Rome during his first imprisonment 
there does he in any way refer to Peter as being in 
Rome. All these facts are in absolute conflict with 
the tradition that Peter founded this church. 

But the Gospel must have reached Rome at an 
early date. On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy 
Spirit descended on the waiting disciples, there were 
present among others in Jerusalem " strangers of 
Rome." It is not unreasonable to suppose that some 
of them were converted under the searching preach- 
ing of Peter on that day, and that they on their 
return carried the Gospel to Rome. We know that 
there was a very large Jewish population in Rome, 
and the contact between Jerusalem and Rome was 
so constant that it would be impossible for the knowl- 
edge of the Christian faith not to reach Rome. 
" Whether this can be accounted for by the presence 
of Roman pilgrims at the first Christian Pentecost 
(Acts 2 : 10), or by the dispersion that followed the 
first persecution of the Christians (8 : i ; 11 : 19), is 
quite a matter of indifference ; the ways that led 
Roman Jews to Jerusalem or to other places where 
there were Jewish Christian churches, and believing 
Jews to Rome, are too many to permit of their being 
taken into special consideration. The idea that a 


church of believers could not originate without act- 
ual apostolic agency is quite unhistorical." ^** 

Some of those saluted by the Apostle in this letter 
were Christians before he was (i6 : 7). There are refer- 
ences to three different places of meeting for worship 
(16:5, 14, 15), although we cannot affirm absolutely 
that there was a fully organized Church in the eter- 
nal city. The faith and obedience of these Roman 
Christians were well known (1:8; 16 : 19). All these 
things go to show that the Gospel had been doing its 
divine work in Rome for many years. It does not 
militate against this that the Jews who waited on 
Paul after his arrival in Rome in the Spring of 61 
A. D. , professed or affected to be ignorant of the Chris- 
tian faith. So far as the Jews were concerned, the 
Christians were indeed everywhere spoken against. 
Furthermore the Jews of Rome were as a rule active 
business people, and in their business haunts in so 
large a city as Rome, might have had but little con- 
tact with Christianity. And for this reason they 
might actually have had but little beyond hearsay 
knowledge of Christian truth and people. Men en- 
grossed in the pursuit of the things of this life do not 
generally have much personal acquaintance with 
religious matters. 

As to the composition of the Roman church we 
cannot positively affirm anything. There are pas- 
sages which seem to point to a Jewish character in 
the church there. On the other hand there are 
passages that all but assert its Gentile character 
(1:5,6; I : 13 ; II : 13 ; 15:15, 16). It seems most 
probable that the predominating element in its 
30 Weiss' III trod., Vol. I., p. 295, 

ROMANS. 151 

composition was Gentile. Prof. Jowett affirms that 
*'the Roman church appeared to be at once Jewish 
and Gentile — Jewish in feeling, Gentile in origin." 

///. Occasio7i and Design of the Epistle. 

Before leaving Ephesus, and while contemplating 
a trip through Macedonia and Achaia and from 
thence to Jerusalem, Paul said, ''After I have been 
there, I must also see Rome." In this Epistle he 
writes, '' I would not have you ignorant, brethren, 
that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you (i : 13), 
having a great desire these many years to come 
unto you" (15:23). No more important point for 
the spread of the Gospel could be occupied than it 
was, and the Apostle recognized that fact. It was 
natural then that he should desire to go to that 
city, and that he should attempt meanwhile to 
mould the beliefs of the Christians there. But the 
way had not yet been opened up for him to go there 
in person. And when he heard that Phoebe, a dea- 
coness of the church of Cenchrea the Southern 
seaport of Corinth, was about to go to Rome, he 
determined to do the next best thing and send a 
letter to them by her hand. It was a most favorable 
opportunity for him to communicate with them. 
The occasion of the letter consequently was the 
proposed visit of Phoebe to Rome, together with his 
own long-seated desire to visit that city himself. 

It is by no means as easy to determine exactly 
the object Paul had in view in writing this Epistle. 
Upon this point there is a great diversity of opinion 
among scholars. No heresy is combated in the 
Epistle, and as yet there were no disorders in the 


Roman church to reform. The intention of the 
Apostle to visit Rome as soon as possible after his 
prospective journey to Jerusalem may have led him 
to consider it advisable to prepare the Christians of 
that city for his visit by means of a letter. But 
this could not have been the main purpose he had. 
Dr. Gloag writes : '* The object of the letter was 
general, not special. Paul had no special errors to 
correct, no disorders to reform. The Roman church 
was not connected with him, as other churches, by 
direct personal visitation. The design of the Ejhs- 
tle was to impart to the Roman Christians a correct 
view of Christianity. This with several minute 
variations, is the opinion adopted by De Wette, 
Olshausen, Tholuck, and Alford." '' The Epistle to 
the Romans," observes De Wette, " is the only 
Epistle of the Apostle wherein he designedly rep- 
resents his doctrine in its full connection, whilst 
in his other Epistles he takes cognizance of peculiar 
wants, doubts, and errors, and presupposes the 
knowledge of his doctrine." The theme or subject- 
matter of the Epistle is supposed to be expressed at 
its commencement ; and the whole Epistle is a proof 
or development of that theme, namely, that * the 
Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation 
to every one that believeth ; to the Jew first, and 
also to the Gentile'" (Rom. i : i6). Professor Beet 
affirms that Paul's purpose in this letter is "to as- 
sert, and logically develop, the new doctrines ; to 
show that they harmonize with God's declarations 
and conduct as recorded in the Old Testament ; 
and to apply them to matters of secular and Church 

ROMANS. 153 

IV, The Outline of the Epistle, 

The following is a brief outline given by Prof. 
Warfield : — 

I. Introduction (i :i-i7) in which the theme of 
the Epistle is brought forth as Salvation by a God- 
provided righteousness attainable by all who believe. 

II. Doctrinal development and defense of this 
theme, i : 18-11 : 36. 

1. The absolute necessity of such a method of 

justification ; true of 
{a) the Gentiles (i : 18-32), and 
{J}) the Jews (2 : 1-3 : 20). 

2. The positive exposition and proof of this 

method of justification. 3:21-5:21. 
ia) Exposition of its nature. 3 : 21-31. 
(^) Proof of the doctrine. 4:1-5:21. 

3. Blessed moral effects of this method of justi- 

fication. 6 : 1-8 : 39. 

{a) In its relation to sin. 6 : 1-23. 

(J)) In its relation to law. 7 : 1-13. 
ic) In its relation to sinful habit. 7 : 14-25. 

{d) In its relation to the Christian's security. 

8 : 1-39. 

4. External effects of the application of this 

method of justification. 9 : i-ii : 36. 
[a) Expression of grief at the Jews' rejection, 

9 • 1-5, 

(V) which rejection is not inconsistent with 
God's character and promises, 9 : 6- 
24, for 

{c) the whole case was foretold by prophecy, 
9:25-29. Hence he gives 


{d) a clear statement of the effects of this re- 
jection, 9 : 30-10: 21, and 
{e) defends this rejection. 11 :i-36. 

III. Exhortations based on the foregoing doc- 
trine. 12 : 1-15 : 13. 

IV. Conclusion. 15 : 14-16 : 27. 

V. Date and Place of Composition. 

From what has been written, it is evident that 
the letter was written at Corinth. During his 
former visit to Corinth the Apostle abode with 
Aquila and Priscilla, working for his own support 
(Acts 18 : 3). During this second visit he was the 
guest of Gaius (Rom. 16 : 23), one of his Corinthian 
converts (i Cor. i : 14). When he wrote this Epistle, 
he had in his keeping the offering for the poor 
saints at Jerusalem which had been made by 
the Macedonian and Corinthian churches (Rom. 15 : 
26, 27). It is evident then that this Epistle was 
written after First Corinthians ; for in that Epistle 
he gave directions in regard to this same collection, 
which so far as the Corinthians were concerned, was 
not then completed (i Cor. 16: i, 2). He had now 
reached Corinth, had received this offering, and was 
on the eve of his departure to Jerusalem with it. 
This letter was written then during the three Win- 
ter months of 57-58 A. D. It had been the Apostle's 
plan to take shipping at Corinth for the East, but the 
discovery of a plot against his life led him to take 
the overland route to Philippi (Acts 20:3), where 
he spent the Passover (Acts 20 : 6), which occurred 
that year on March 27, A. D. And as this Epistle 
was apparently written just before his departure 

ROMANS. 155 

from Corinth, it is doubtless correct to date it dur- 
ing February of 58 A. D. Phoebe, the deaconess of 
the church of Cenchrea, was the bearer of this 
Epistle, as she was on the point of going to Rome 
to attend to some private business (Rom. 16 : i, 2), 
and her journey thither, as we have seen, was in part 
the occasion of the Apostle's writing. Tertius, of 
whom we know nothing, was Paul's amanuensis on 
this occasion (Rom. 16 : 22). 

VL Peculiarities of the Epistle. 

The more formal dogmatic character of this 
Epistle distinguishes it from all the other Pauline 
Epistles. Bishop Wordsworth says that '' the great 
character of the Epistle is its universality." Dr. 
Gifford writes that here Paul sets forth '' a full and 
systematic statement of those fundamental principles 
of the Gospel, which render it the one true religion 
for all the nations of the earth, and meet especially 
those deepest wants of human nature, which Judaism 
could not satisfy, — righteousness in the sight of God 
and deliverance from the power of sin and death." 

This Epistle is the masterpiece of the great Apos- 
tle, in which he elaborates the doctrines of Salvation, 
and sets forth in clearest light the means of man's 
justification in the sight of God. It is soteriological 
rather than christological. But it is no mere dry and 
formal statement of doctrine. In its eighth chapter 
we meet one of the grandest portions in all the 
range of literature. Of the whole letter Martin 
Luther wrote, " This Epistle is the true masterpiece 
of the New Testament, and the very purest Gospel, 
which is well worthy and deserving that a Christian 


man should not only learn it by heart, word for word, 
but also that he should daily deal with it as with the 
daily bread of men's souls. For it never can be too 
much or too well read or studied ; and the more it is 
handled, the more precious it becomes, and the bet- 
ter it tastes." 

2» ^be jepfstles of tbe Captivity, 

We now come to that group of the Pauline Epis- 
tles known as the Epistles of the Captivity. Of 
these there are four, Colossians, Philemon, Ephe- 
sians, and Philippians. They were written during 
the two years of Paul's first Roman imprisonment 
mentioned in Acts 28 : 30. A period of over four 
years intervenes between the composition of the 
Epistle to the Romans and these. It is impossible 
to tell definitely their order in time of composition, 
except that Philippians, as we will notice hereafter, 
was probably written last. The Epistles to the 
Colossians and to the Ephesians were dispatched 
at the same time by the hand of Tychicus, and he 
was accompanied on the same trip by Onesimus who 
had in his keeping the Epistle to Philemon. Paul 
was dwelling in his own hired house in the region 
of the Praetorium, bound night and day to a Roman 
soldier. Freedom of access to the Apostle seems, 
however, to have been granted to all who desired 
to see him. That house was therefore a perfect 
hive of Christian activity, from which and to which 
the workers were continually going and coming, on 
their errands to and from those churches which 
were Paul's daily care (2 Cor. 11 128). Perplexed 


elders came there to consult the great Apostle con- 
cerning the affairs of their various churches. Thus 
though a prisoner and closely confined, the Apostle 
was in constant touch with scores of churches by 
means of the consecrated workers who came to seek 
his advice, or went forth in accordance with his 
directions. And from his house proceeded streams 
of influence that touched countless numbers of lives. 
Though he was in bonds, the word of God was not 
bound. We will now proceed to the study of these 
four letters, written from that " hired house " in 


/. Caiionicity. 

When the early Christian writings are examined, 
we do not find in them any sure quotations of this 
Epistle until we come to Aristides (138-161) and 
Justin Martyr (145). There are, however, manifest 
echoes of it in Clement of Rome (96), Barnabas 
(106), and Ignatius (115). Marcion (130) places it 
in his list, and it is to be found in the Muratori 
Canon (170), as well as in the Old Latin (160) and 
Syriac (i/o) Versions. It is quoted by name by 
Irenaeus (i/S), Tertullian (190), and Clement of 
Alexandria (195). From this it is evident that the 
external evidence in support of it is incontrovertible. 
And the hiternal evidence is by no means defective. 
It claims to be by Paul (1:1; 4 : 18). And this 
claim is borne out by the whole Epistle, its historical 
allusions and literary character. ''The character 
of Paul is discernible in the writer ; his anxiety for 
the spiritual welfare of the Colossians ( i : 9; 2 : 5 ) ; 


his gratitude to God for the good report which he 
had received of their faith and love (1:4); his ear- 
nest desire for their spiritual improvement and 
increased holiness (i : 9, 10) ; his liberality and free- 
dom from carnal ordinances (2 : 16) ; and his solici- 
tude for an interest in their prayers (4 : 3). The 
style, also, with some variations, accounted for by 
the nature of the subject, is decidedly Pauline." ^^ 

Of course there have been found those who assail 
this Epistle, affirming that it is un-Pauline in lan- 
guage, style, and matter ; and that it combats a 
species of heresy that did not arise until after Paul's 
day. But Bishop Ellicott says that *' no doubts 
have been urged that deserve any serious consid- 
eration." ^^ It was not until 1838 that this Epistle 
was called in question by any one. But Meyer af- 
firms that ** the fabrication of such an Epistle would 
be more marvelous than its originality."^^ And 
Renan, who assuredly cannot be accused of par- 
tiality to the Scriptures, writes, " This Epistle is to 
be received unhesitatingly as the work of St. Paul." 
Considering all the evidence obtainable, we cannot 
but feel that its authenticity and genuineness are 
conclusively proved. 

//. The Church at Colossce. 

Colossse, more popularly known in Paul's day as 
Colassse, had been a city of considerable size and 
importance, according to the testimony of Herodotus 
and Xenophon. Its neighboring cities, Hierapolis 

81 Gloag's Introd. to the Pauline Epistles, p. 265. 

82 Com. on Col., Introd. 

83 Com. on Col., p. 247. 


and Laodicea, however, had outstripped it in the 
race for supremacy, and in apostolic times it had 
lost much of its former glory and prestige. It was 
situated in the province of Phrygia in the Lycus 
valley, on the river bearing that name which pours 
into the Mceander. To-day its exact cite is largely 
a matter of conjecture. Lightfoot tells us that " not 
a single event in Christian history is connected with 
its name ; and its very existence is only rescued 
from oblivion, when at long intervals some bishop 
of Colossae attaches his signature to the decree of 
an ecclesiastical synod." ^* Earthquakes, to which 
the whole region is subject, together with the cal- 
careous deposits of the river, have helped to obliter- 
ate the ruins of that once important city. The 
church at Colossae was doubtless the least in im- 
portance of all the churches to which the Apostle 
addressed an Epistle. 

The church at this place was not established by 
Paul, as is manifest from his words, ** For I would 
that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, 
and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have 
not seen my face in the flesh." On his second and 
third missionary journeys the Apostle passed some- 
what to the North of Colossae and Laodicea, and up 
to the time of the writing of this Epistle he had not 
visited that region. While Paul labored in Ephesus 
(54-57 A. D.), he had been so successful that his 
great Ephesian enemy, Demetrius the silversmith, 
had said to his fellow-workmen of Ephesus, "that 
not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all 
Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away 
3* Lightfoot on CoL, p 70. 


much people, saying that they be * no gods, 
which are made with hands," etc. (Acts 19:26). 
This Epistle speaks of Epaphras in such a way as 
to imply that he had founded the Colossian church 
(i : 7). In all probability this man had come under 
the influence of Paul's preaching at Ephesus, for the 
Acts tells us (19 : 10) " that all they which were in 
Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus." Epaphras 
was a Colossian (4 : 12), and it was to him that the 
Colossians owed their knowledge of the truth as it 
is in Christ (i : 7). But this man Epaphras did not 
limit his labors for Christ to his own city Colossae, 
for he apparently was also the founder of the 
churches of Hierapolis and Laodicea (4:13). His 
was the consuming zeal of those early disciples, 
who in their intense devotion for Christ, did not 
stop to count the cost of His service. In the Epistle 
to Philemon, Epaphras is called by Paul " my fellow- 
prisoner in Christ" (Philemon 23). Probably his 
relations with Paul had caused suspicions against 
him, and this may have led to his detention for a 
time at least as a prisoner with Paul at Rome. 

Philemon, to whom Paul addressed one of his 
letters, was also a Colossian. He was a man of con- 
siderable means, and he with his wife provided in 
their commodious house a meeting place for the 
Colossian church. Their son Archippus, to whom 
in this Epistle an exhortation to renewed faithful- 
ness is addressed (4 : 17), was probably the resident 
minister of the Colossian church, although some 
believe that his ministry was exercised at Laodicea, 
because of the fact that the charge to him follows 

C0L0SS2ANS. 161 

the injunction in regard to their having this Epistle 
read to the church of that city (4 : 16, 17). 

The Colossian church was mainly Gentile in its 
composition (i : 21, 27 ; 2:11), although the danger- 
ous heresy threatening them was of Jewish origin. 
There were unquestionably some Jewish members 
in it, but in the main they were Gentiles. The 
heresy that was securing a hold among them was 
"(i) a combination of angel-worship and asceticism ; 
(2) a self-styled philosophy or gnosis which depre- 
ciated Christ ; (3) a rigid observance of Jewish 
festivals and sabbaths. The most probable view, 
therefore, seems to be that some Alexandrian Jews 
had appeared at Colossas, professing a belief in 
Christianity, and imbued with the Greek "philoso- 
phy" of the school of Philo, but combining with it 
the Rabbinical theosophy and angelology which 
afterwards was embodied in the Kabbala, and an 
extravagant asceticism, which afterwards distin- 
guished several sects of the Gnostics. "^° 

///. The Occasion and Object of the Epistle. 

The occasion of this Epistle is unquestionably to 
be found in the visit of Epaphras to Paul. This 
zealous Christian seems to have made the journey 
to Rome for the special purpose of securing the 
advice of the great Apostle. It was from him that 
Paul learned all about the condition of the Colossian 
church, from him he heard of their faith in Christ 
Jesus and love to all the saints (Col. 1:4). This 
faithful worker informed the Apostle of all the com- 

35Conybeare & Howson's Life of Paul, Vol. II., p. 383. 


mendable features of the Colossian church. But 
while there was not a little in the report to please 
Paul, there were other things sufficiently grave to 
cause him great concern. An insidious and dan- 
gerous heresy was beginning to threaten the very 
existence of the church there. The leaders of this 
heresy were evidently Jewish Christians, the influ- 
ence of whose teachings was on the increase. It is 
noticeable that these heretics were not like the 
Judaizing teachers with whom Paul had had to deal 
in other places. Here they made no assault on the 
Apostle's authority, but contented themselves with 
heretical teachings as described above. 

The object of the Epistle, according to Bishop 
Ellicott, was "an earnest desire on the part of the 
Apostle to warn the Colossians against a system of 
false teaching, partly oriental and theosophistic in 
its character (2 : 18), and partly Judaical and cere- 
monial (2 : 16), which was tending on the one hand 
to obscure the majesty and glory of Christ (1:15; 
2 :8), and, on the other hand, to introduce ritualistic 
observances, especially on the side of bodily austeri- 
ties (2 : 16-23), opposed alike to the simplicity and 
freedom of the Gospel, and to all true and vital 
union with the risen Lord (2:19; 3 : i)." The main 
design of the Epistle consequently was to refute 
these heretical ideas, and to warn the Colossian 
Christians against them. The supreme glory of 
Christ is the principal theme of this Christological 

The bearer of the Epistle was Tychicus, whom 
he describes as " a beloved brother, and a faithful 
minister and fellow-servant in the Lord ; whom I 


have sent unto you for the same purpose [that of 
declaring Paul's condition], that he might know 
your estate and comfort your hearts " (4 : 7, 8). Ac- 
companying him was Onesimus. Between them 
they were to tell the Colossians " all things which 
are done here." 

IV. Outline of the Epistle. 

I. Introduction, i : 1-13. 

1. Salutation, i : i, 2. 

2. Thanksgiving, i : 3-8. 

3. Prayer, i : 9-12. Transition to main theme. 

i: 13. 
Ii. Doctrinal portion on the Person and Work of 
Christ. I : 13-2 : 3. 

1. Redemption through the Son of God. i : 

13, 14. 

2. The dignity of His Person, i : 15-19. 
(^.) The head of all creation, i : 15-17. 

(<^.) The head of the church, i : 18, hence 
(<:.) His pre-eminence, i ; 19. 

3. His Work, i : 20-2 : 3. 

{a}) General description of it as a work of 
reconciliation, i : 20. 

(^.) Its relation to the Colossians. i : 21-23. 

(^.) The Apostle's part in this work, i 124- 

27, including his anxiety for all men, 

I : 28, 29j but especially for those to 

whom he is writing. 2 : 1-3. 

III. Polemical Portion, consisting of warnings. 


I. Not to permit any one to deceive them, but 
to cleave to Christ, walking in Him. 2 : 4-7, 


2. " Let not worldly wisdom lead you away 

from Him, who is the Head of all, who 
has quickened you, and forgiven you, and 
triumphed over all the powers of evil." 

2 :8-i5. 

3. "Let no man judge you in ceremonial ob- 

servances, holding not the Head. Sub- 
mit not to outward austerities that are 
inwardly vain and carnal." 2 : 16-23. 

IV. Hortatory Portion, consisting of exhortations 
and injunctions. 3 : 1-4 : 6. 

1. To show their union with the risen Christ. 

3 • 1-4. 

2. To put off the old nature. 3 : 5-1 1. 

3. To practice Christian graces. 3 : 12-17. 

4. Special injunctions. 3:18-4:6, concerning 
{a.^ Wives and husbands. 3 : 18, 19. 

{b,^ Children and parents. 3 : 20, 21. 
(c.) Slaves and masters. 3 : 22-4 : i. 
{d.^ Prayer and thanksgiving. 4 : 2-4. 
(e.) Conduct and speech. 4:5,6. 

V. Personal messages. 4 : 7-18. 

1. Commendation of Tychicus and Onesimus. 

4 : 7-9. 

2. Salutations. 4:10-15. 

3. Messages relating to the Laodicean church 

and to Archippus. 4 : 16, 17. 

4. Farewell salutation in Paul's own handwrit- 

ing. 4 : 18. 

F. Date and Place of Composition. 

There is almost unanimous agreement among 
scholars that Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon 
were written at the same time, that Tychicus carried 


the first two to their respective destinations on the 
same trip, and that he was accompanied by the con- 
verted slave Onesimus, who bore the letter to Phile- 
mon. But there is some difference of opinion among 
critics as to whether they were written during the 
Csesarean (58-60 A. D.), or during the Roman im- 
prisonment (61-63 ^- I)-)- Meyer and others have 
strenuously contended that they were written at 
Caesarea. If they are correct, then these Epistles 
were written between Pentecost 58 A. D. and the 
early Autumn of 60 A. D. But the large majority 
of critics assign them to the Roman imprisonment 
between the Spring of 61 A. D. and the Summer of 
63 A. D. Without entering fully into the discussion 
of this question, which is really not one of vital im- 
portance, it may be well to note some arguments 
to be advanced in support of their composition at 

(i.) Colossians and Ephesians were written at 
the same time as the Epistle to Philemon, and the 
bearers of these letters went together to Colossse 
(Col. 4 : 7-9 ; Eph. 6 ; 21, 22, Philemon 10-21). Now 
it is far more likely that Onesimus, when he ran 
away from his master Philemon, would go to Rome 
than to Csesarea. Rome was the great hiding place 
for fugitive slaves. How unlikely that he would go 
to a small city such as Cassarea ! How much more 
probable that he would hasten to the eternal city, 
with all of its attractions for men of his stamp ! 

(2.) They were not written at Caesarea, because 
Paul does not seem to have labored there as he could 
and did at Rome (Acts 28 : 31 ; Col. 4 : 3, 4), and also 
"because he could not have expected at Csesarea to 
be coming to Phrygia (Acts 23 : 11 ; 19:21 ; Rom. 


1 : 13 ; Acts 20: 25), whereas while writing to Phile- 
mon he expected soon to visit Phrygia (Philemon 
22)." ^^ At Rome, while he was a prisoner, Paul dwelt 
in his own hired house, receiving "all that came in 
unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teach- 
ing those things which concern the Lord Jesus 
Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him." 
But at Caesarea he was in prison, and his every 
movement was watched by the Jews, who would not 
permit such free preaching. 

(3.) The companions of Paul that are mentioned 
in these Epistles fit Rome better than Csesarea. We 
have no evidence that Aristarchus was in prison at 
Csesarea with Paul (Col. 4 : 10), but both he and 
Luke went to Rome with the Apostle (Acts 27 : 2). 

In view of these facts with the majority of 
scholars we assign all of these Epistles to the 
Roman captivity. Their relative order is unimpor- 
tant. They were all written at the same time, ex- 
cept that to the Philippians, which came a little later, 
as we shall see when that Epistle is considered in 
its order. To fix the date of one of the three is to 
fix the date of all. The abrupt ending of the book 
of Acts seems to imply that at the end of the two 
years mentioned, there was a change in Paul's af- 
fairs. This change is believed to have resulted in 
his release. It v/as in the Spring of 61 A. D. that 
Paul arrived at Rome from the island of Malta, 
where he had been shipwrecked the preceding 
Winter. He was probably released in the Summer 
of 63 A. D. In accordance with this I would date 
these three Epistles (Colossians, Philemon, and Ephe- 

36Conybeare and Howson's St. Paul, Vol. IL, p. 384, foot-note. 


sians) in the latter part of 62 A. D., or. possibly early 
in 63 A. D. 

VL Peculiarities of the Epistles. 

The peculiar similarity between this Epistle and 
that to the Ephesians will be considered in connec- 
tion with the latter. One thing to be especially 
noticed in this Epistle is its special christological 
character. It deals specifically with the person and 
work of Christ. It has a large number of once-used 
(hapax legomena) words. The peculiar object of the 
letter occasions this, many of them being called into 
use in combating the Colossian heresy. The pas- 
sage in which the pre-eminence of Christ (i : 15-19) 
is set forth is worthy of the closest study. 

/. Canonicity. 

When the brevity and character of this incompa- 
rable Epistle is considered, it need not be surprising 
that we find very few citations from, or references to, 
it in the early Christian writings. As a short per- 
sonal letter with no distinctive doctrinal passages, 
it furnished very little matter for quotations. But 
even though this is true, yet external testimony to 
it is not lacking. There is possibly a reference to it 
in Ignatius (115), but this is uncertain. It was con- 
tained in Marcion's Catalogue (130), as well as in the 
Muratori Canon (170). It is found also in the Syriac 
(160) and Old Latin (170) Versions. Tertullian (190) 
specifically speaks of it as having escaped the falsify- 
ing hand of Marcion, who received it, but rejected 


the Pastoral Epistles. This testimony, according to 
DeWette, establishes its genuineness beyond doubt. 
As to the internal evidence, the following words 
of Professor Hackett are worthy of note, namely, 
*' Nor does the Epistle itself offer anything to con- 
flict with this decision (of the external evidence). 
It is impossible to conceive of a composition more 
strongly marked within the same limits by those 
unstudied assonances of thought, sentiment, and 
expression, v/hich indicate an author's hand, than 
this short Epistle as compared with Paul's other 
productions. Paley has a paragraph in his Horse 
Paulinae which illustrates this feature in a very just 
and forcible manner. It will be found also that all 
the historical allusions which the Apostle makes to 
events in his own life, or to other persons with 
whom he was connected, harmonize perfectly with 
the statements or incidental intimations contained 
in the Acts of the Apostles, or the other Epistles of 

X Very vigorous attacks have been made upon this 
inimitable Epistle by an arrogant hypercriticism, 
but all of these attacks have always been met suc- 
cessfully. Reuss writes, " The fact that criticism 
has presumed to call in question the genuineness of 
these harmless lines only shows that itself is not the 
genuine thing." ^* Indeed rationalistic criticism has 
nowhere shown more conclusively its own unscien- 
tific and unreasonable character than in its treat- 
ment of this Epistle. And even Baur, one of its 
assailants, is compelled to acknowledge " that mod- 

^' Article in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. 

^^ Reuss' History of the New Testament, Vol. I., p. n8. 


ern criticism, in assailing this particular book, runs 
a greater risk of exposing itself to the imputation 
of an excessive distrust, a morbid sensibility to 
doubt and denial, than in questioning the claims of 
any other Epistle ascribed to Paul." 

//. The Person Addressed, 

The person addressed is Philemon, a Colossian 
Christian. Salutations are likewise addressed to Ap- 
phia and Archippus, who in all probability were re- 
spectively the wife and son of Philemon, as well as to 
the church that gathered in their house for worship. 
Onesimus, the bearer of the letter and to whom it 
refers, was also a Colossian (Col. 4 : 9), and the 
former slave of Philemon. An effort has been made 
to prove that Laodicea, and not Colossse, was the 
home of these people. This inference has been 
drawn from Col. 4:16, 17, which, it is daimed, 
shows that Archippus, and hence also his parents 
Philemon and Apphia, were residents of Laodicea. 
But the injunction, " Say to Archippus," is addressed 
to the Colossians and not the Laodiceans. Further- 
more Onesimus is explicitly called a Colossian (Col. 
4 : 9). The evidence is rather positively in favor of 
their all being Colossians. 

Philemon was evidently a man of considerable 
means, who had placed at least a part of his com- 
modious house at the disposal of the Colossian Chris- 
tians (Philem. 2). His son Archippus is enjoined "to 
take heed to the ministry which thou hast received 
in the Lord that thou fulfill it" (Col. 4 : 17). This 
injunction implies that he stood in official relation 


to the Colossian church. Philemon was a convert 
of the Apostle (Philem. 19) and manifestly was no un- 
worthy son of his spiritual father. '* It is evident 
that on becoming a disciple he gave no common 
proof of the sincerity and power of his faith. His 
character as shadowed forth in the Epistle to him, 
is one of the noblest which the sacred record makes 
known to us. He was full of faith and good works, 
was docile, confiding, grateful, was forgiving, sympa- 
thizing, charitable, and a man who on a question of 
simple justice needed only a hint of his duty, to go 
even beyond it (Philem. 21). Any one who studies the 
Epistle will perceive that it ascribes to him these 
varied qualities, it bestows on him a measure of 
commendation which forms a striking contrast to 
the ordinary reserve of the sacred writers. It was 
through such believers that the primitive Christian- 
ity evinced its divine origin and spread so rapidly 
among the nations." 

///. The Occasion and Design of the Epistle. 

Onesimus, the bearer of this letter, was the runa- 
way slave of Philemon. It is probable that he had 
either robbed his master, or caused him some finan- 
cial loss (vrs. 18) which the Apostle offers to make 
good. Fugitive slaves found a peculiar attraction in 
Rome, as it afforded them a place where they could 
not be easily detected and apprehended. "But at 
Rome," writes Bishop Lightfoot, " the Apostle spread 
his net for him, and he was caught in its meshes. 
How he came in contact with the imprisoned mis- 
sionary we can only conjecture. Was it an acci-s 


dental encounter with his fellow-townsman Epaphras 
in the streets of Rome, which led to the interview ? 
Was it the pressure of want which induced him 
to seek alms from one whose large-hearted charity- 
must have been a household word in his master's 
family ? Or did the memory of solemn words, which 
he chanced to overhear at those weekly gatherings 
in the upper chamber at Colossae, haunt him in his 
loneliness, till, yielding to the fascination, he was 
constrained to unburden himself to the one man 
who could soothe his terrors and satisfy his yearn- 
ings ? Whatever motive may have drawn him to 
the Apostle's side, — whether the pangs of hunger 
or the gnawings of conscience, — when he was once 
in the range of attraction, he could not escape. He 
listened, was impressed, was convinced, was bap- 
tized. The slave of Philemon became the freeman 
of Christ." '' 

But though now a freeman of Christ, Onesimus 
was still legally the slave of Philemon. Paul indeed 
felt that Philemon owed him enough to justify his 
retaining Onesimus with him, but he did not so re- 
tain him. In regard to him he writes to Philemon, 
"Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy 
stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds 
of the Gospel" (vr. 13). But Paul was unwilling to 
keep him without his owner's free consent, so he 
adds, ''But without thy mind would I do nothing; 
that thy benefit should not be, as it were, of neces- 
sity, but willingly." The occasiofiy then, of the Epistle 
was the sending of Onesimus back to his master. 

The object of the letter was to secure the slave's 
freedom. He consequently urges Philemon to re- 

W Lightfoot on Col. and Philem., p. 312. 


ceive him, ** not as a servant [Greek, bond-servant], 
but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to 
me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh 
and in the Lord. If thou count me, therefore, a 
partner, receive him as myself" (vrs. i6, 17). And 
furthermore the Apostle enjoins Philemon, ** If he 
hath wronged thee or oweth thee ought, put that 
on mine account ; I, Paul, have written it with mine 
own hand, I will repay it" (vrs. 18, 19). And to 
this, Paul adds a very touching, delicate reference 
to the debt that Philemon himself owes the Apostle, 
saying, "Albeit, I do not say to thee how thou 
owest unto me, even thine own self besides." It 
does not seem, judging from the character of Phile- 
mon delineated in this Epistle, that this touching 
and earnest appeal could have failed of its purpose. 
Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon, not to con- 
demn him again to the bondage of human slavery, 
but with such a letter in his hand as would certainly 
secure his freedom. It is noticeable that the Apos- 
tle does not ask out and out for the manumission of 
Onesimus, but he writes in such a way that Phile- 
mon could not help granting this, even if he was 
otherwise minded. " Yea, brother, let me have joy 
of thee in the Lord : refresh my bowels in the Lord. 
Having confidence in thy obedience, I write unto 
thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I 
say." Certainly he could do nothing less than the 
Apostle plainly by inference asked him to do. 

Tradition busies itself with the after history of 
these two men, making them bishops over different 
churches, but we can place no confidence in these 
traditions. The Lord has not seen fit to allow us 
to follow their history any further. 


IV. Contents of the Epistle, 

1. Salutation. 1-3. 

2. Thanksgiving for Philemon's character, as 
manifested in his attitude toward Christ and all 
believers. 4-7. 

3. Main portion of the Epistle, in which Phile- 
mon is entreated to forget and forgive the past, 
and to receive Onesimus not as a slave, but as a 
friend and Christian brother. 8-21. 

4. Closing salutations and benediction. 23-25. 

V. Date and Place of Composition. 

This matter having been fully discussed under 
Colossians, it need not be repeated. It was written 
at Rome at the close of 62 A. D., or early in 63 A. D. 
Onesimus carried it to its destination. It was writ- 
ten by the Apostle without the usual assistance of 
an amanuensis. 

VI. Peculiarities. 

The whole Epistle was written by the Apostle, 
he dispensing with the services of an amanuensis in 
this case. The personal character and object of the 
Epistle excluded any doctrinal statements. It is a 
private letter, pertaining to matters that affected 
two persons in particular. Much has been written 
about the literary character and tone of this letter. 
The feelings that prompted its composition, and 
that are so manifest in every line of it, are peculiarly 
attractive. ''Dignity, generosity, prudence, friend- 
ship, affection, politeness, skillful address, and purity 
are apparent. Hence it has been called with great 
propriety, the polite Epistle. True delicacy, fine 


address, consummate courtesy, nice strokes of rhet- 
oric, make it a unique specimen of the epistolary 
style. It shows the perfect Christian gentleman."*" 

This Epistle shows also the way in which Chris- 
tianity grapples with the evils of human society. 
To have directly antagonized the institution of hu- 
man slavery, inwrought as it was in the warp and 
woof of the Roman Empire, would have precipitated 
a conflict between Rome and Christianity, and Rome 
would have turned all her power against the Chris- 
tian religion. But, as Bishop Wordsworth writes, 
"The Gospel of Christ by christianizing the master, 
enfranchised the slave. It did not legislate about 
names and forms, but it went to the root of the evil. 
It spoke to the heart of man. When the heart of 
the master was stirred with divine grace, and was 
warmed with the love of Christ, the rest would soon 
follow. The lips would speak kind things, the hand 
would do liberal things. Every Onesimus would be 
treated by every Philemon as a beloved brother in 
Christ Jesus. That short letter from 'the hired 
house' of the aged Apostle, 'Christ's bondman' at 
Rome, may be called a divine act of emancipation : 
one far more powerful than any edict of manumission 
by sovereigns and Senates, — one from whose sacred 
principles all human statutes for the abolition of 
slavery derive their virtue." 

In these days when so much hope is placed on 
legislative enactment against the social and moral 
evils of human society, it would be well to remember 
the lessons of this charming little Epistle. Ere the 
streams are purified, the sources must be cleansed 

*<> Quoted from Davidson in Gloag's Introd., p. 304. 


So the heart must be changed ere we can hope for 
any real freedom for our fellow-men from the various 
shackles which sin has welded around them. 


/. Canonicity. 

Few of the books of the New Testament have a 
stronger external attestation than this one has. 
Clement of Rome (96), and Barnabas (106) present 
such coincidences to the language of this Epistle, 
as to show their use of it. Of Ignatius (115) it may- 
be said that certain words in the shorter Greek 
recension of his letter to the Ephesians are a clear 
assertion of the Pauline authorship of this Epistle. 
And there is little reason for denying that Polycarp 
(116) had it. We are informed by Hippolytus that 
Valentinus (130) quoted it. According to Tertullian 
it was contained in Marcion's Catalogue (130). We 
can see it named in the Muratori Canon (i/o). The 
Syriac (160) and Old Latin (170) Versions contained 
it. Irenaeus (175), Tertullian (190), and Clement of 
Alexandria (195), quote it by name and as of Pauline 
origin. And then in connection with these wit- 
nesses, attention should be paid to the marked liter- 
ary dependence of First Peter upon this Epistle. 
Could any stronger external testimony be asked for 
than this } 

The internal evidence is none the less positive 
in its support of the Pauline authorship of the Epis- 
tle. The most striking peculiarities of the Apostle's 
matter and manner abound in it. Here we have 
numerous examples of the usual strong Pauline esc- 


pressions ; as well as long and involved periods, 
which are formed by an accumulation of clauses 
joined together by series of participles. " He speaks 
of the exceeding greatness (1:19) of the divine 
power ; of the exceeding riches (2 : 7) of the divine 
grace ; of himself as less than the least of all the 
saints (3:8); of knowing the love of Christ which 
passeth knowledge (3 : 19), and of Christ ascending 
far above all heavens (4:10). So also, as Paley 
remarks, there is a frequent use of the word riches 
in a metaphorical sense, a favorite expression of the 
Apostle, which is often employed in his other Epis- 
tles, but nowhere so frequently as in this Epistle."" 
(1:7, 18 ; 2:7; 3:8, 16). But of all the peculiarities 
in either style or matter, there are none that are not 
paralleled in the other Pauline Epistles. 

Against all this testimony it has been urged by 
some that this Epistle is only a weak and verbose 
expansion of the Epistle to the Colossians. The 
objectors claim that it is at best a weak imitation of 
genuine Pauline writings. Referring to these objec- 
tions Bishop Ellicott says that they are ''purely of a 
subjective character, being mainly founded on im- 
aginary weaknesses in style, or equally imaginary 
references to early Gnosticism, and have been so 
fairly and fully confuted that they can no longer be 
considered to deserve any serious consideration."*^ 
The peculiar absence of personal salutations to in- 
dividuals, usually found in the Apostle's letter, has 
been seized upon as another mark of its un-Pauline 
origin. But the purpose and the destination of the 

^ Gloag's Introd. to the Pauline Epistles, p. 309. 
**Com. on Eph. Introd., p. 12. 


letter will fully account for this feature. It was sent 
not only to the Ephesian church, but also to other 
churches, as it is really an encyclical letter. This 
fact precludes personal salutations. The similarity 
of this letter to Colossians was occasioned by the 
fact that they were written at the same time and 
forwarded by the same letter carrier to their respect- 
ive destinations, and also because they were sent to 
the same general locality, having very much the 
same needs. 

Summing up the case, we may say that all the 
direct evidence in the case supports its Pauline 
authorship. In the mind of the Church there has 
never been a doubt about this. Doubts have only 
existed in the minds of those who are swayed by sub- 
jective considerations, and who have allowed the 
objective proof to sink out of sight. 

//. The Ephesian Church. 

Ephesus was the capital of the Roman procon- 
sular province of Asia. It was situated on the river 
Cayster, not very far from the coast of the ^gean 
Sea. It was a large and populous city, commanding 
a large share of the commercial interests of Asia 
Minor. Its situation was most favorable for busi- 
nesses of all kinds, for at its docks might be found 
the vessels of every maritime nation, while from it 
great highways led out in many directions for inland 
commerce. One of the so-called seven wonders of 
the world was to be seen in Ephesus in the great 
temple dedicated to Diana. Thousands of people 
were annually attracted to the city by the religious 



ceremonies in that great structure, whose one hun- 
dred and twenty-seven magnificent pillars were said 
to have been the gifts of a like number of kings. 
The celebrity of this city was doubtless to be attrib- 
uted to the worship of its patron goddess Diana. 

It was upon his second missionary journey, as he 
was on his way back to Jerusalem, that Paul came 
to Ephesus, in the early Spring of 54 A. D. Paul 
in company with Aquila and Priscilla set sail from 
Corinth and came to Ephesus. His preaching in 
the synagogue seems to have met with immediate 
success, and he was requested to remain there. His 
plan, however, was to hasten on to Jerusalem to 
observe the approaching feast (Acts 18:21), which 
was probably Pentecost, and occurred that year 
on May 31. In accordance with this plan, leaving 
Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus, and promising to 
return there as soon as he could, if such was God's 
will, Paul went on to Jerusalem, where he tarried 
only a short time, and then proceeded to Antioch. 
It was probably during the latter part of the 
Summer of 54 A. D. that the untiring missionary set 
out on his third missionary journey. After passing 
through Phrygia and Galatia, " strengthening all 
the disciples," he came late in the same year to 
Ephesus, where he remained until after Pentecost 
of 57 A. D. 

Meanwhile, since the Apostle's short visit to 
Ephesus, a man who was to play an important part 
in the work of the Church had come to and gone 
from that city. This man was an Alexandrian Jew, 
named Apollos, who had in some way become a dis- 
ciple of John the Baptist. He was an earnest and 


devout person, whose desire evidently v/as to lead 
others to the faith in which he believed. He knew, 
however, only the baptism of John, and consequently 
he could not speak of the person and work of Him 
whose coming John the Baptist had foretold. Well 
was it for the interests of the work that Aquila and 
Priscilla were in Ephesus, for they lost no time in 
giving ApoUos the instruction he needed. In this 
way he became instructed in Christian doctrine. 
Nor was his zeal any the less abated by this new 
acquisition of knowledge ; for when he heard of the 
work in Corinth, he desired to go there and labor for 
the Master. On the arrival of Paul in Ephesus, he 
found twelve other men, who, like Apollos, were dis- 
ciples of John the Baptist. John's baptism was unto 
repentance, but when they heard of Christ through 
Paul, "they were baptised in the name of the Lord 
Jesus," at the same time receiving the baptism of 
the Spirit which was accompanied with the same 
phenomena that marked the great Pentecostal out- 

This second visit of Paul at Ephesus was charac- 
terized by his usual intense activity. He supported 
himself by laboring at his trade (Acts 20 : 34). At 
the same time, with his characteristic zeal, he 
preached in the synagogue for three months, '' dis- 
puting and persuading the things concerning the 
kingdom of God." The success that crowned his 
labors led his Jewish opponents to calumniate his 
doctrine, and he was compelled to leave the syna- 
gogue. The school-room of one Tyrannus, who 
became a convert, afforded him a place for continu- 
ing his preaching. Nor were his efforts for Christ 


confined to preaching on the Sabbath, for as he 
told the Ephesian elders, he taught them not only 
publicly, but also from house to house, warning 
them with tears day and night (Acts 20 : 20). " The 
subject of his teaching was ever the same, both for 
Jews and Greeks, * repentance towards God, and 
faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.' Labors so 
incessant, so disinterested, and continued through 
so long a time, could not fail to produce a great 
result at Ephesus. A large church was formed. 
Nor were the results confined to that city alone. 
Throughout the province of 'Asia' the name of 
Christ became generally known, both to Jews and 
Gentiles ; and, doubtless, many daughter-churches 
were founded, whether in the course of journeys 
undertaken by the Apostle himself, or by means of 
those with whom he became acquainted,- — as for 
instance, by Epaphras, Archippus, and Philemon, 
in connection with Colossae, and its neighboring 
cities, Hierapolis and Laodicea."*^ During this 
period he also seems to have taken a hurried trip 
to Corinth." 

The patron goddess of Ephesus was Diana, whose 
magnificent temple attracted people from all direc- 
tions. There were a great many workmen in the 
city, whose business was that of making for sale to 
visitors, images of the statue of the goddess, which 
was said to have fallen down from heaven. The ra- 
pid spread of Christianity and its inroads into the 
superstitious practices of the people, imperiled their 
craft. The special powers exercised by Paul seem 

*SConybeare & Hovvson's Life of Paul, Vol. II., p. 20. 
** See under 2 Corinthians, 


to have been aimed at some of the prevailing super- 
stitions ; while the results of the rash experiment 
of the sons of Sceva (Acts 19: 13-16) exalted the 
Apostle's work. All of these events culminated in 
the great riot of the idol-makers against the Chris- 
tians, which probably took place in the sacred 
month of May, when great crowds of people flocked 
to the temple of Diana. The riot accomplished 
nothing, and as soon as it subsided, Paul called the 
Christians to him, and with many injunctions to 
them he departed from the city just after Pentecost, 
57 A. D. (i Cor. 16:8.) 

In regard to the composition of the Ephesian 
church, it is evident that while there were some 
Jews in it, yet the large majority of its members 
were Gentiles. The various descriptive phrases of 
the Epistle prove conclusively that the church there 
might on the whole be called a Gentile church (2 : 
II ; 3:1 ; etc.). 

///. The Desti7iation of this Epistle. 

It is a fact to be noted in regard to this Epistle 
that the Vatican and Sinaitic MSS of the New Tes- 
tament omit the words ** at Ephesus" in 1:1, the 
space to be occupied by those words being left va- 
cant. This has led many to the conclusion that this 
Epistle was not simply written for the Ephesians 
alone. Paul wrote to the Colossians, "And when this 
Epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also 
in the church of the Laodiceans ; and that ye like- 
wise read the Epistle from Laodicea" (Col. 4 : 16). 
Some scholars claim that this Epistle to the Laodice- 


ans is now lost ; while others claim that it was none 
other than the one with which we are now dealing. 
The theory is that Tychicus bore several copies of this 
same Epistle, in one of which was written at I : i " at 
Ephesus," in another "at Laodicea," and very likely 
in other copies other names were inserted. How 
natural that the Apostle should enjoin the Colossians 
to secure the copy sent to the church nearest to 
them, that is, to Laodicea. In support of this theory 
is the encyclical character of this Epistle, which is 
general in its nature, and includes no personal sal- 
utations to individuals. The Epistle consequently 
was not intended for the Ephesians alone, but in 
general for that group of churches of which Ephesus 
was the undoubted head. This theory, first pro- 
posed by Archbishop Usher and adopted by many 
of the leading scholars of later days, meets the facts 
in the case and fully harmonizes them. It is per- 
fectly correct to regard the Epistle as addressed to 
the Ephesians, but not more so to them than to a num- 
ber of other and contiguous churches, of which num- 
ber Laodicea was one. That it is generally called the 
Epistle to the Ephesians is quite appropriate, for the 
Ephesian church was the most prominent of those 
for which it was intended ; and as time advanced, 
it became generally known as the Epistle to the 

IV. The Occasiojt and Object of the Epistle. 

The occasion of the writing of this letter was 
doubtless the prospective trip of Tychicus to the 
Colossian church, bearing the letter addressed to 
them. Paul had heard, possibly through Epaphras, 


of the faith and love of the Christians of the churches 
in and around Ephesus (Eph. 1:15). These two 
things combined led him to embrace the favorable 
opportunity of sending copies of this letter to their 
various destinations. The purpose of the Apostle 
in writing was not so much to combat error, as it 
was to establish the truth. He desired to strengthen 
the faith and encourage the hopes of the Christians 
of the region contiguous to Ephesus. 

V. Contents of the Epistle, 

I. Salutation. i : i, 2. 
11. Doctrinal Portion. 1:3-3:21. 

1. Thanksgiving for the blessings of the re- 

demption in Christ. I : 3-14. 

2. Prayer that they might increase in the 

knowledge and experience of those bless- 
ings. i:i5-i9« 

3. Dignity of him who wrought out Salvation, 

I : 20-23 » 

4. Contrasts their previous state with that after 

their conversion by the grace of God. 2 : 

5. Contrast continued, setting forth the differ- 

ence between their former condition as 
aliens, and their present condition as 
members of the household and family of 
Godo 2 : ii-22o 

6. The nature and design of Paul's commission. 

7. Prays for those to whom he writes. 3 : 

14-2 1, 
IIL Practical Portion. 4 : i-6 : 20, 


1. Exhortation to unity. 4: 1-16. 

2. Exhortation to holiness. 4 : 17-24. 

3. Special injunctions. 4:25-31. 

(i). Against lying, 25, (2), anger, 26, 27, (3), 
robbery, 28, (4), impure words. 29-3 1. 

4. Exhortation to Christian love and forgive- 

ness. 4 : 32-5 : 2. 

5. Specific exhortations. 5 : 3-20. 

(i). Against impurity, 3-10, (2), to show 
forth Christian character, 1 1-20. 

6. Definitions of duties of, 5 : 21-6 : 9. 

(i). Husbands and wives, 21-33, (2), chil- 
dren and parents, 6 : 1-4, (3), servants 
. and masters, 6 : 5-9. 

( 7.)The Christian's armor described. 6: 10-17. 
8. The need of prayer and its uses. 6 : 18-20. 
IV. Conclusion. 6:21-24. 

1. The duty of Tychicus, the letter bearer. 

6 : 21, 22. 

2. Benediction. 6:23,24. 

VI. The Date and Place of Composition. 

This Epistle was written at Rome, and sent to its 
destination by the hand of Tychicus at the same 
time that he carried the Epistle to the Colossians, 
that is, late in 62 A. D., or possibly early in 63 A. D. 
Tychicus was also to tell to those to whom it was 
written, the facts in regard to the Apostle, as well 
as by his own words to comfort and encourage them. 

VII. The Peculiarities of the Epistle. 

The first thing noticeable in the study of this 
Epistle is its encyclical character, a feature that 


renders it devoid of the customary personal saluta- 
tions of the Apostle. 

Another peculiarity is its great similarity in 
thought and language to the Epistle to the Colos- 
sians. We have already noted the fact that this 
characteristic has been used by some critics in a 
way hostile to the Epistle. But this letter is by 
no means a mere expansion of Colossians. ''These 
two Epistles are similar, and yet distinct ; similar 
in their language and practical exhortations ; dis- 
similar in their design and mode of doctrinal treat- 
ment. The Epistle to the Colossians is polemical, 
and aims at the refutation of heresy ; the Epistle to 
the Ephesians is dogmatic, and serves to the estab- 
lishment of truth. The one is special, and deals with 
the errors of Jewish Gnostics ; the other is general, 
and is designed for the edification of believers. The 
one is a Christian apology ; the other is a doctrinal 
treatise on election and grace. "*^ Godet writes, "The 
central idea of the Epistle to the Colossians is this : 
Christ the Head, from whom the body derives its 
nourishment ; while the central idea of what we call 
the Epistle to the Ephesians is the Church, the body 
which Christ fills with His divine fullness, and raised 
to sit with Him in the heavenly places. Of these 
two thoughts, which supplement each other, the 
second was suggested by the first. The first note 
struck woke the vibrations of the next ; then fol- 
lowed a paean of Divine harmonies. What could be 
more natural than that two strains thus suggested, 
should have many tones in common, though each set 
in a different key?"*^ 

*5 Gloag'sliitrod. to the Pauline Epistles, p. 334. 
** Expositor, 3rd Series, Vol. V., p. 2180. 


To illustrate the similarity between these two 
Epistles the following passages, cited from De 
Wette by Gloag, may be compared, namely: — 

Doctrinal Portions. Practical Portions. 

Eph 1:7 Coll :i4 Eph. 4:1 Col. i : 10 

" 1:10 "1:20 " 4:2-4 "3:12-14 

" 1:15-17 "1:3.4 " 4:15.16 "2:19 

" 1 : 18 "1:27 " i,\i'2-2\ "3:8,9 

" 1:21 "1:16 " 4:31 o "3:8 

" 1 : 22, 23 " 1 : 18, 19 " 4 : 32 , " 3 : 12 

" 2:5 "2:13 "= 5:6 "3:6 

" 2:11..... "2:11 " 5:15,16 "4:5 

" 2:16 "1:20 " 5:19,20... "3:16,17 

" 3:2,3 .- "1:25, 26 " 5:22 "3:18 

" 3-7 »...• "1:23 " 6:1.. "3:20 

" 6:5-8...... "3:22-25 

" 6:9. ......o "4:1 

" 6:18-20 "4:3,4 

" 6:21,22 "4:7,8 

. This Epistle, because of its grammatical struct- 
ure, is one of the most difficult of all the Pauline 
Epistles in the explanation of some of its parts. 
''Each single word is perfectly intelligible ; but the 
sentences are so long, and the members of which 
each sentence consists are at the same time so short, 
that they are frequently capable of many different 
constructions, of which we cannot easily determine 
which is the right one."*^ 

The specially noteworthy passages are the con- 
trasts between the unregenerate and the regenerate 
(2 : 1-22), the prayer of the Apostle (3 : 13-21), and 
the description of the Christian's armor (6:11-17). 

I The words of Dr. Schaff may well conclude the 
study of this Epistle, " Ephesians is, in some re- 
spects, the most profound and difficult (though not 
**Micliaelis' Introd., Marsh's translation. Vol. VL,p. 151, 


the most important) of Paul's Epistles. It certainly 
is the most spiritual and devout, composed in an 
exalted and transcendent state of mind, where the- 
ology runs into worship, and meditation into ora- 
tion. It is the Epistle of the Heavenlies, an ode 
to Christ and His spotless bride, the Song of Songs 
in the New Testament. The aged Apostle soared 
high above all earthly things to the invisible and 
eternal realities in heaven. From his gloomy con- 
finement he transcended for a season to the mount 
of transfiguration. The prisoner of Christ, chained 
to a heathen soldier, was transformed into a con- 
queror, clad in the panoply of God, and singing a 
paean of victory."** i 


/. Canonicity. 

The external testimony in favor of this Epistle is 
remarkably full and strong. Clement of Rome (96) 
shows his dependence on it, and the same is true of 
Ignatius (115). Polycarp (116) wrote a letter to the 
Philippians in which he refers definitely to the fact 
of Paul's having written to them, and in several 
places he uses the very language of this Epistle. 
In the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (120) 
several expressions are borrowed from this Epistle. 
The Epistle to Diognetus (117), Justin Martyr (145), 
Mehto (170), Theophilus (175), adopt its language 
and supply references to it. The Epistle of the 
churches of Lyons and Vienne (177) quotes Phil. 
2 : 6. Marcion's catalogue (130), the Muratori Canon 

" Schaff' s History of the Christian Church, Vol. L, p. 779. 


(170), and the Syriac (160) and Old Latin (170) Ver- 
sions, include it. And when we come to Irenaeus 
(175), TertuUian (190), and Clement of Alexandria 
(195), we find it formally quoted by name and as- 
cribed to the Apostle. 

The internal evidence is likewise strong. The 
Epistle abounds in words and expressions and con- 
structions that are peculiar to Paul alone. The 
character of the Apostle is also plainly stamped 
upon it. " No Epistle of the Apostle," says Schen- 
kel, " according to our observations, bears the 
impress of authenticity in such unmistakable char- 
acters as the Epistle to the Philippians." Dean 
Gwynn writes, *' But greater far than these tokens 
of genuineness, is that which underlies : the solid 
and irrefragable evidence contained in the ideas, 
the feelings, the aspirations, of which our Epistle 
is the vehicle, and which no one who has in any 
degree entered into the mind of St. Paul, can doubt 
to be his. For a forger successfully to assume his 
language, and to imagine his circumstances, would 
be a difficult effort of historic and literary skill. 
But that such a one could so personate that unique 
individuality — think his thoughts, speak out of his 
heart — is inconceivable."*^ With his usual skill 
Dr. Gloag sums up the evidences of the character 
of Paul as impressed on this Epistle. "The intense 
devotion to Christ (i : 20), the ardent affection for 
his converts (i : 7, 8 ; 4:1), the earnestness in prayer 
for their spiritual welfare (i 14), the womanly tender- 
ness (4 : 10), the delicate courtesy displayed in the 
reception of the gifts of the Philippians (4 : 14-19), 
*^ Bible Com., Introd. to Philippians. 


the noble elevation above all earthy cares (4 : 12), 
the personal humility combined with the assertion 
of apostolic authority (3:4-11), and the liberality 
of mind (i : 18), are all distinguishing features in the 
character of the great Apostle."^® 

In view of this evidence we may with Dean 
Alford characterize the few and weak assaults upon 
this Epistle as "an instance of the insanity of hyper- 
criticism." To the mind swayed more by objective 
testimony than by subjective considerations, there 
cannot come any doubt that this is a genuine Epistle 
of Paul. And if this is established, its canonicity is 
likewise demonstrated. 

//. The Philippian Church. 

The city of Philippi was founded by Philip of 
Macedon, who gave to it his own name. To this 
city was given by Caesar Augustus the privileges 
of a Roman colony. It was one of the most impor- 
tant cities of Macedonia. Its situation was about 
nine miles inland from the iEgean Sea at its 
extreme north-western corner. Neapolis was its 
sea-port. The great Egnatian highway built by 
Rome across Macedonia and up into Thrace passed 
through Philippi. The surrounding plains were 
rich and fertile. With these natural advantages it 
was a large and thriving city, and was situated at 
"the confluence of streams of European and Asiatic 
life." It was a Roman colony on Greek soil, with 
Grecian language, usages, and religion. " Combin- 
ing thus the two main constituents of European life, 

s^'Introd., to the Pauline Epistles p. 337. 


giving entrance to every element that Europe drew 
to itself from the wider life without, it was in all 
points a typical city of Europe ; it offered itself as 
a fit station for the planting of the standard — first 
raised in the East, but destined to have in the West 
its greatest and abiding triumphs — of Him whose 
kingdom was to rise in the ruins of the kingdoms 
of this world, itself to stand forever." ^^ 

To this city Paul came on his second mission- 
ary journey. It was at Alexandria Troas that the 
Apostle heard the Macedonian call (Acts i6 : 9). 
In obedience to it he immediately crossed the 
^gean Sea with his companions, Silas, Timothy, 
and Luke, and landing at Neapolis, they passed on 
together to Philippi. There were not a great many 
Jews in this city, for there does not seem to have 
been a synagogue. The following Sabbath the mis- 
sionary band found a few devout women gathered 
for prayer at a Proseucha^^ outside of the city on the 
banks of the Gangites. The first convert made was 
Lydia, an Asiatic of Thyatira, a dealer in dyed 
goods, who had previously become a proselyte to 
the Jewish faith. Her opened heart responded 
to the words of Paul, and immediately she em- 
braced the faith in Christ. Being apparently a 
woman of at least comfortable circumstances, she 
persuaded the missionaries to become her guests. 
The next convert mentioned was the crazy young 
Macedonian girl whom Paul healed. Her owners, 
who had made her crazy muttering a source of 
income, enraged at the change wrought in her, 

51 Bible Commentary, Introd. to Philippians. 

52 A place of prayer. 


seized Paul and Silas and brought them before the 
magistrates, accusing them of being troublers of 
the peace. Without even the formality of inves- 
tigating these charges, the magistrates commanded 
that they should be scourged and put in prison. 
And the jailor, a brutal man, added to the injus- 
tice of the whole affair by making their feet fast 
in the stocks in the inner prison. That night a 
sudden earthquake shook the prison to its founda- 
tion and hurled the doors wide open. This earth- 
quake and the attendant circumstances brought 
conviction to the heart of the jailor, and ere the 
light of another day had shone on the city, he 
also had become a follower of the Saviour. The 
Roman citizenship of the Apostle had been grossly 
violated by the treatment he had experienced, and 
when the magistrates learned their error, they 
gladly tried to make amends for their conduct. It 
was contrary to the law to scourge a Roman citi- 
zen who had not been condemned by due process. 
Had Paul seen fit to lodge information against the 
Philippian magistrates, he could have had them 
severely punished. Immediately after his release, 
the Apostle, leaving Luke at Philippi, continued 
his journey. Some five years later he spent a few 
days in this city again on his third missionary 
journey. That was some time after Pentecost in 
57 A. D. The following Passover (Mar. 27, 58 A. D.) 
was also spent at Philippi (Acts 20:6). 

From this sketch it is evident that Paul was not 
permitted to spend very much time with his beloved 
Philippians. There were, however, many oral com- 
munications between them. Paul had scarcely left 


them after his first visit, ere they had sent an offer- 
ing for his aid. "Even in Thessalonica ye sent once 
and again unto my necessity" (Phil. 4: 16). It was 
most probably to them that the Apostle referred in 
2 Cor. 8:3,4, "For to their power I bear record, 
yea, and beyond their power they were willing of 
themselves ; praying us with much entreaty that we 
would receive their gift." Nor was it out of their 
abundance that they gave to the Apostle for his own 
needs, as well as for the poor saints at Jerusalem, but 
out of "their deep poverty." For some time pre- 
vious to the writing of this Epistle, the Philippians 
had lacked opportunity of ministering to the Apos- 
tle*^s necessities. At length, however, they had heard 
of his needs in Rome, and immediately they took 
steps to relieve him. They sent their offering by 
the hand of Epaphroditus, one of their number, who 
was also to do all in his power for the beloved 
Apostle. It was a timely and precious testimonial 
of their love for Paul. It relieved his pressing needs 
and distress, and he writes, "I have all and abound. 
I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things 
which were sent from you." 

As he wrote, Paul hoped to see them very soon, 
and doubtless, when he was released, he went as 
quickly as possible to those people who had given 
him such substantial evidence of their love and sym- 
pathy. About fifty years after this Ignatius passed 
through this city on his way to Rome to die a mar- 
tyr's death, and he was warmly welcomed by the 
Philippian Christians. It was in 1 16 A. D. that Poly- 
carp wrote his well known letter to these same 
people. " But not long did the promising church 
remain. Of its destruction and decay, no record 


is left ; and among its ruins, travelers have hith- 
erto failed to find any Christian remains. Of the 
church which stood foremost among all the apos- 
tolic communities in faith and love, it may literally 
be said, that not one stone stands upon another. 
Its whole career is a signal monument of the inscru- 
table counsels of God. Born into the world with 
highest promise, the church of Philippi has lived 
without a history, and perished without a me- 
morial." ^^ 

The Philippian church was unquestionably Gen- 
tile in its composition. Three of its members are 
mentioned, namely, Lydia, the crazy girl who was 
healed, and the jailor. They were respectively 
Asiatic, Macedonian, and Roman. It was a cosmo- 
politan church indeed, embracing several different 
nationalities. Woman was prominent in this church. 
Two of these women, Euodia and Syntyche are 
mentioned. It was to women that the Gospel was 
first preached in Philippi, and it seems from the 
references to them that the two named, whose aid 
Paul gratefully acknowledges, had differences or 
jealousies that might work mischief in the church 
unless ended. With this exception the Apostle 
knows of nothing for which to condemn them. On 
the contrary their loving regard for, and attention 
to, Paul elicits from him the warmest and most affec- 
tionate expressions. 

///. The Occasion and Object of the Epistle. 

Epaphroditus, the messengerof the Philippians, 
now convalescing from the serious illness he had 
had as the result of his zealous service of Paul, was 

^3 Lightfoot on Philippians, p. 65. 


about Jto_retura toJiis Jiom,e_ajt_Phnippi. This op- 
portunity of addressing a letter of thanks to the 
Philippians for their liberal offering to his necessities 
was the occasion of the Apostle's writing. Of Epaph- 
roditus, their messenger, he writes, ** For the work 
of Christ, he was nigh unto death, not regarding 
his life, to supply your lack of service toward me." 
The special object of the Epistle was to express his 
genuine thankfulness to the Philippians for their 
gift. It is peculiarly a letter of gratitude, and in 
connection with this he uses the opportunity to 
attempt to reconcile some differences that had 
arisen among some of them, as well as to warn 
them against error. 

There seems to have been a change in the Apos- 
tle's position since he wrote his last letter. It may 
be that the death of Burrhus, the humane Praetorian 
Prefect, had occurred, and that the accession of the 
infamous Tigellinus had caused this change. Paul 
writes that '* all seek their own, and not the things 
of Jesus Christ's." The apparent lack of attention 
from the Roman Christians made the gift of the 
Philippians all the more acceptable, and in this 
loving letter the great Apostle shows his deep ap- 
preciation of their kindness. In this letter the 
Apostle informs the Philippians that he proposes 
to send Timothy to them just as soon as he knows 
how his case before Nero_tuxn£^._out__{2_^3}_^ His 
purpose in senHing Timothy is " that I also may 
be of good comfort, when I know your state," and 
also to inform them of the outcome of his trial. 
He can think of no other person so well fitted to 
discharge this commission, indeed, he has no 


other person with him to whom he can entrust the 

IV. Contents of the Epistle, 

There is no apparent plan in the structure of this 
Epistle. The circumstances under which he wrote, 
as well as the feelings prompting the letter, would 
not permit of any formal and logical arrangement. 

1. Salutation, i : i, 2. 

2. Thanksgiving, and prayer for the Philippian 

Christians, i : 3-1 1. 

3. Account of the progress of the Gospel in Rome, 

as well as his position, feelings, and hopes. 
I : 12-26. 

4. Exhortations, i : 27-2 : 16. 

(i.) To be consistent, of one mind and of heroic 

faith. I : 27-2 ; 4. 
(2.) To consider Christ, the great example of 

humility. 2 : 5-1 1. 
(3.) To follow His example practically. 2: 


5. Personal matters. 2:17-30. 
(i.) Personal appeal. 2:17,18. 

(2.) The proposed visit of Timothy to them. 

2 : 19-23. 
(3.) Expression of hope of seeing them soon. 

2 :24. 
(4.) Mission and illness of Epaphroditus. 2 : 


6. Final exhortations begun, 3 : i, but suddenly 

broken off by a digression to warn them, 
(i.) Against Judaistic error, illustrated by his 
own example. 3 : 2-16, 


(2.) Against Antinomian error, pointing again 
to his own example, and, warning 
against turning from the right path, 
he appeals to them to live according 
to their heavenly citizenship. 3 : 17-21. 

7. Resumption of exhortations. 4 : 1-9. 

(i.) Urges them to stand fast in the Lord. 

(2.) Appeals to Euodia and Syntyche to be of 
one mind. 4 : 2, 3. 

(3.) Exhorts them to be joyful, free from har- 
assing care, and to follow that which 
is pure and true, etc. 4 :4-9. 

8. Acknowledges gratefully their gift and invokes 

a blessing on them. 4 : 10-20. 

9. Closing salutations and benediction. 4:21-23. 

F. The Date and Place of Composition, 

The order in which these Epistles of the captivity 
have been treated shows that this one is regarded 
as the last one of them. It has already been noted ^* 
that some claim that the other three Epistles of this 
group were written at Caesarea, but with only a very 
few exceptions scholars unite in holding that this Epis- 
tle was written at Rome. Of this there is no reason 
for any question, A close examination of the Epis- 
tle makes it manifest that some change had come 
over the affairs of the Apostle since he wrote the 
other three letters. Here he more plainly expresses 
the hope that he would soon be released, although 
all is as yet darkly uncertain in regard to his future 

5* See under Colossians. 


(2 : 23). The accession of Tigellinus in 62 A. D. to 
the Praetorian Prefectship doubtless made the Apos- 
tle's confinement more severe. By him he would 
not be treated with as much consideration as had 
been accorded him by the humane Burrhus. Luke 
and Aristarchus, who were with him when he wrote 
Colossians, were now absent, — possibly on some 
errand, or, perhaps, driven away by the change in 
Paul's affairs. The confinement was closer, and, 
although hopeful, Paul was doubtful about the issue 
of the near future. Was it not the darkest hour just 
before the dawn of his release .-* 

Another fact that necessitates placing this letter 
late in the two years of his confinement at Rome is 
developed when the mission of Epaphroditus is con- 
sidered. Sufficient time must have elapsed after 
Paul's arrival in Rome for him to reach a point 
of need ; for the Philippians to have heard of that 
need and to have made preparation for his relief; 
for Epaphroditus, their messenger, to go to Rome 
in the behalf of Paul ; for another messenger to re- 
turn to Philippi with the news of his serious illness ; 
for another messenger to go to Rome with their 
message of condolence and sympathy for Epaphro- 
ditus. It would ordinarily take at least a month 
for the journey between the two cities. For this 
reason this letter must be dated toward the end of 
the captivity. 

In view of these things, while we cannot affirm 
it absolutely, yet we date this Epistle in the Spring 
of 63 A. D., several months later than the composi- 
tion of the other three letters of this group. It 


was carried to its destination by the convalescent 
Epaphroditus, as he returned to his home in Philippi. 

VI. Peculiarities. 

} This Epistle is peculiar in that it is pre-eminently 
a letter of commendation, and has in it no notes of 
condemnation. In this respect it is in marked" con- 
trast with the Epistle to the Galatians. Here we 
can read more clearly than any other place the inner 
character of the great Apostle to the Gentiles. "He 
gives full vent to the expressions of his affection for 
his Philippian converts ; he mentions his earnest 
prayer for their spiritual advancement, his tender 
solicitations, his joy at the steadfastness of their 
faith and the purity of their conduct. The whole 
Epistle is a mixture of love and joy, — love for his 
converts, and joy at their spiritual welfare. "^^ 

Another feature is the absence of doctrinal dis- 
cussions. It contains, it is true, the classical passage 
on the humiliation and the exaltation of Christ, 
which is likewise the nearest approach Paul makes 
in any of his Epistles to a dogmatic affirmation of 
the divinity of our Lord (2:5-11). But this pas- 
sage was written to emphasize and illustrate an ex- 
hortation, rather than for polemical reasons. The 
whole Epistle is concerned rather with practice than 
with dogma. It is pre-eminently the Epistle of joy 
and love. 

3» ITbe ipastoral :iBpf0tle0» 

We have now come in our studies to the third 
and last group of the Pauline Epistles, commonly 
known as the Pastoral Epistles. This title has been 
^^Gloag's Introd., to the Pauline Epistles, p. 353. 


applied to them ''because they are official letters 
addressed to Paul's fellow-laborers, and contain in- 
structions concerning the government of the Church 
and its office bearers." Merely a cursory examina- 
tion of them will suffice to show that they are differ- 
ent in many respects from the other Pauline Epistles, 
and form a distinct group by themselves. 

Before formally entering in upon the study of 
these Epistles in their chronological order, it is 
necessary to pause to consider the movements of 
the Apostle after he wrote the Epistle to the Phil- 
ippians in the Spring of 63 A. D. The question 
now arises : Was Paul released from his Roman 
imprisonment in accordance with the hope ex- 
pressed in Philippians ? Was his trial before Nero 
ended by his condemnation and death, as some 
assert ; or by his acquittal and liberation, as others 
confidently affirm ? Upon this question a vast 
mass of matter has been written, and it will be 
impossible to follow up all the various theories that 
have been propounded for the purpose of explaining 
the facts. But if we would be guided by the unani- 
mous and unhesitating belief of the early Church, 
we must hold to his release and a subsequent time 
of activity, followed by a second imprisonment that 
resulted in his condemnation and death. "It was 
universally believed that St. Paul's appeal to Caesar 
terminated successfully ; that he was acquitted of 
the charge laid against him ; and that he spent 
some years in freedom before he was again impris- 
oned and condemned. TJie evidence on this subject^ 
though not copioiiSy is yet conclusive so far as it 
goeSy and is all one way!'^^ This evidence is pre- 
6<^Conybeare and Howson's St. Paul, Vol. II., p. 437. 


sented by the Epistles themselves, by Clement of 
Rome, the Muratori Canon, Eusebius the historian, 
Chrysostom, and Jerome. They all are positive in 
their affirmations, or at least, in their intimations, 
that Paul was released. 

It is generally acknowledged that we cannot find 
any place in the history of the Apostle, as we know 
it from the Acts, into which these Epistles will fit. 
The historical allusions they contain do not, and 
cannot be made to, harmonize with the Acts. It is 
a matter of fact that those who deny that Paul was 
released from the Roman imprisonment of Acts 28, 
as a rule reject these Epistles, inasmuch as they can 
find no place for them in the life of the Apostle up 
to that time. On the other hand, the large majority 
of those who do defend and accept these Epistles 
as Pauline, affirm that Paul was released. It has 
been said that "the supposition of a second Roman 
imprisonment is the only way in which the genu- 
ineness of the Pastoral Epistles can be proved. 
This concession alone can solve the serious dif- 
ficulties." Many are the schemes that have been 
proposed by which the attempt has been made 
to find a place before and during the time of the 
first imprisonment for the composition of these 
Epistles.^^ And those who doubt the liberation of 
Paul are compelled to resort to all sorts of expedi- 
ents to enable them to explain the allusions of 

57 The scope of this work will not permit an elaborate examination 
of this question. The reader is referred to Conybeare and Howson's 
Life and Letters of St, Paul, p. 354 ff.; The Bible Commentary, 
Introd. to the Pastoral Epistles; Gloag's Introd., p. 354; Huther's 
Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles ; Weiss' Introd., Vol. I., p. 374. 


these Epistles. They all, however, in the judgment 
of the majority of scholars fail to prove their 
point. ^^ 

If, then, we are to accept the external evidence, 
we must acknowledge the release of Paul from his 
first Roman imprisonment. And when we turn to 
these Pastoral Epistles, every candid mind must 
confess that they refer to facts that necessitate the 
same conclusion. These facts will be particularly 
noted when the dates of these letters are respect- 
ively considered. 

It is extremely difficult to determine exactly the 
movements of the Apostle after his release. For 
these we are dependent entirely on the incidental 
references of the letters in question. The following 
is suggested, however, as a possible outline of Paul's 
movements after his release. During the early Sum- 
mer of 63 A. D., the long delayed final trial before 
Nero came up, and resulted in the acquittal of the 
Apostle. Leaving Rome as soon as possible there- 
after, Paul followed the plan indicated in Philemon 
22 and Philippians 2 : 24. This would take him di- 
rectly into Macedonia, where he in all probability 
visited rapidly all the churches along and near the 
line of the Egnatian highway. At Philippi he re- 
mained for a time, but his presence being needed 
in Asia Minor because of the growth of heresy, he 
pressed on to Ephesus. Affairs there required con- 
siderable attention, and doubtless while in that 

^^In regard to Weiss, it is to be noted, that while he will not 
absolutely assert the genuineness of these Epistles, yet he actually 
proves that point, and in so doing also establishes the fact of the 
Apostle's release. 


locality he visited the churches of Colossae and 

At length having straightened out matters in 
and about Ephesus, he took his long contemplated 
visit to the far West in 64 A. D. (Rom. 15 : 24). We 
have no means of telling how long he remained in 
Spain. The persistency and unanimity of the tradi- 
tion that he did make this journey, can only be ac- 
counted for on the basis that he actually did make 
it. Returning from the West, he came once more 
to Ephesus in 66 A. D. Here he found that the 
Gnostic heretics had been intensely active during 
his absence, and were doing their utmost to propa- 
gate their peculiar theories. ** Heretical teachers 
had arisen in the very bosom of the church, and 
were leading away the believers after themselves. 
Hymenseus and Philetus were sowing in congenial 
soil the seed which was destined in another century 
to bear so ripe a crop of error. The East and West 
were infusing their several elements of poison into 
the pure cup of Gospel truth. In Asia Minor, as at 
Alexandria, Hellenic philosophism did not refuse 
to blend with Oriental theosophy ; the Jewish super- 
stitions of the Kabbala, and the wild speculations 
of the Persian Magi, were combined with the Greek 
craving for an enlightened and esoteric religion." ^^ 

At Ephesus once more^ the Apostle found himself 
in the midst of a mighty conflict with error. Like 
a mighty flood heresy was sweeping over that whole 
region. No corner of the earth has been more fruit- 
ful of heretical ideas than Asia Minor was. We may 
be sure that the great champion of a pure and un- 

^^Conybeare and Howson's St. Paul, Vol. II., p. 447. 


trammeled Gospel waged a valiant fight with the 
heresiarchs. Presently he was called to Macedonia 
by some sudden necessity (i Tim. i : 3). When he 
arrived there he found that his return to Ephesus 
was likely to be somewhat delayed, and having left 
Timothy in charge of the Ephesian church, he felt 
the need of communicating with him, and accord- 
ingly he wrote from Macedonia his First Epistle to 
his beloved son Timothy. As soon as his business 
in Macedonia was finished, he hastened back to 
Ephesus in accordance with his plan (i Tim. 4: 13). 
Presently he had another journey to make, and that 
was to Crete. On that island, disturbances had 
arisen that demanded his presence. For some rea- 
son he was not able to finish all that needed to be 
done, so he left Titus in charge and returned to 
Ephesus. Planning to spend the following Winter 
(that of 6^ A. D.) at Nicopolis in Epirus, he wrote 
his Epistle to Titus on the eve of his departure. 
From Ephesus Paul went to Miletus, where he was 
compelled to leave Trophimus on account of sick- 
ness (2 Tim. 4 : 20). From thence he passed on to 
Corinth where Erastus remained, as it was his home. 
From Corinth the Apostle went on to Epirus, where 
it had been his intention to spend the Winter. But 
did he remain there that Winter .? Certainly not, 
if the Winter of 2 Tim. 4:21 was the same as that 
of Titus 3 : 12. My belief is that Paul did not re- 
main as he intended at Nicopolis throughout the 
Winter of 6j-6% A. D. He probably remained for 
a short time, for in 2 Tim. 4:10 he informs us that 
Titus had gone unto Dalmatia. From this I infer 
that Titus found the Apostle at Nicopolis, and was 


sent from there on up to Dalmatia soon after his 
arrival. Some believe that Paul was arrested at 
Nicopolis and from thence taken to Rome for his 
second imprisonment. But when did he leave his 
cloak at Troas with the book and the parchments 
(2 Tim. 4: 13) .? Some think his course from Ephe- 
sus was to Miletus, thence to Troas, thence to Cor- 
inth, and thence to Nicopolis. But why should he 
go from Miletus to Corinth by such a round-about 
way as Troas } I think it far more probable that, 
perceiving that his remaining at Nicopolis was 
fraught with danger, he remained there but a short 
time, and hurrying across Macedonia, he came to 
Troas. Something led him to venture down to 
Ephesus for a short visit — so short a visit did he 
expect to make that he left his cloak, books, and 
parchments at Troas — intending to return there. 
But his time had come, and at the instigation of 
Alexander the coppersmith he was arrested and so 
hurriedly taken to Rome that he could not get the 
articles he had left at Troas.^*' 

Of course this scheme is largely conjectural, but 
after long and careful study I am led to suggest 
this as a possible outline of the movements of the 
Apostle between his two Roman imprisonments. 

A great deal has been written concerning the 
marked peculiarities in style and matter of these 
compared with his other letters. These differences 
have been made the basis of attacks upon the 

^*> Whether this Alexander was one of the leaders in the Ephesian 
riot (Acts 19 : 33), or the person Paul excommunicated (i Tim, I : 20), 
we have no means of telling ; but I conjecture that he was the same as 
the latter, and that he took this means of retaliating. 


genuineness of these Epistles. But the differences 
can readily be accounted for on the basis of their 
objects and the circumstances that led to their 
composition. "The other Epistles afford us all 
needful instruction respecting the great dogmatic 
truths of Christianity, and the chief points of Chris- 
tian morals. But respecting the practical organiza- 
tion and government of the Church, they furnish 
only incidental hints. The deficiency is supplied 
by these three Epistles." And just as the Gospel 
according to John is a fitting capstone to the Gos- 
pel history presented in the Synoptics, so these 
Pastoral Epistles in their place furnish a necessary 
climax to the Pauline Epistles as a whole. 

Taking up these Epistles in their chronological 
order, they will now be studied. 


/. Canonicity. 

Clement of Rome (96), and Barnabas (106) can be 
cited as doubtless having had this Epistle in their 
hands, although they do not formally quote it. 
Polycarp (116) manifestly quotes it. The Epistle 
to Diognetus (117), and the Testaments of the 
Twelve Patriarchs (120), show their dependence on 
it. The Apology of Aristides (138-161) contains a 
possible quotation of i : 8.®^ An expression of Hege- 
sippus (173) likewise evinces his acquaintance with 
its language. Irenaeus (175), Tertullian (190), and 
Clement of Alexandria (195) formally quote it by 
name. Marcion (130) omitted it from his catalogue, 
w The Apology of Aristides, by J. Rendel Harris. 


and Tatian (150) rejected it, but the reason for this 
is unquestionably because it controverts the very- 
heresy of which they were defenders in their day. 
It is contained in the Muratori Canon (i/o), as well 
as in the Syriac (160) and Old Latin (170) Versions. 
Professor Salmon, speaking of the Pastoral Epistles, 
says, that '* if the battle had to be fought solely on 
the ground of external evidence, they would obtain 
a complete victory." 

It is upon the internal evidence that this Epistle, 
as well as the other two, has been most violently 
assailed. The assaults have been made upon (i) 
the basis of the style, which is diverse from the 
other Pauline Epistles ; (2) the nature of the heresies 
controverted, which, it is claimed, flourished much 
later than Paul's day ; (3) the impossibility of finding 
a place for them in the life of Paul as detailed in the 
Acts. In answering these objections, we may re- 
verse their order, and grant the force of the third. 
No place can be found in the Acts for these Epistles, 
for the simple reason that they were written later 
than the events recorded in the Acts. As to the 
second objection, it may be noted that the assailants 
who urge this are by no means agreed among them- 
selves as to the peculiar form of the heretical ideas 
combated. That heresy had already arisen, and that 
Gnosticism, which early in the second century at- 
tained a rank growth, was already germinating, 
cannot be denied. But it can be, and is denied, that 
the Apostle's words indicate that that later devel- 
opment was already present. Wace affirms that 
"there are no sufficient grounds for assuming that 
such errors as St. Paul denounces did not exist at 


Ephesus at the time supposed. The utmost that 
can be shown is that errors akin to these, but, as is 
on all hands acknowledged, by no means identical, 
existed a generation later. But this, so far as it 
goes, is rather a reason for thinking it is probable that 
the germs of the same errors were previously in 
existence, gradually changing their form and becom- 
ing more developed. At any rate when we know 
so little of the early growth of Gnosticism, it is 
arbitrary in the extreme to pronounce that the 
form of error described in the Pastoral Epistles 
could not at the time supposed have existed at 
Ephesus."®^ Weiss also says that ''criticism itself 
has plainly conceded that the delineation of doc- 
trinal errors contained in our Epistle does not har- 
monize with what we know of Gnosticism from 
history." ^^ As to the first objection, that founded 
on the style of the Epistles, it should be remem- 
bered that at least four years separate them from 
Philippians. There is no question about the differ- 
ence in diction and matter from the earlier Epistles, 
but this has been exaggerated by some writers. 
But the actual differences are readily explained "by 
the peculiar contents of the Epistles and by the 
entirely new phenomena which they oppose." It 
is most arbitrary to affirm that a man with the 
wealth and fertility of the Pauline intellect must 
always use the same forms of expression. Meyer 
exclaims, *' How little are such mechanical standards 
of comparison at all compatible with a mind so free 
in movement and rich in language as was that of 

62 Bible Commentary, Introd. to Pastoral Epistles, 
<53introd., Vol. L, p. 393. 


Paul." There is a close affinity among these Pas- 
toral Epistles to one another, and the circumstances 
that gave them birth readily account for their differ- 
entiating features. 

The genuineness of these Epistles is also sup- 
ported by the character of their author as shown in 
them. There is the usual characteristic of humility 
and self-depreciation, the same anxious solicitude 
for those to whom he writes, the same deep concern 
for the welfare of believers. ^* The personal refer- 
ence to individuals, as well as the minute acquaint- 
ance with their movements and condition, are such 
as to defy the act of a forger." Bishop EUicott has 
written, '' In reference to the genuineness and au- 
thenticity of this Epistle, with which that of the 
other Pastoral Epistles is intimately connected, we 
may briefly remark, (a) that there was never any 
doubt entertained in the ancient Church that these 
Epistles were written by St. Paul, and (b) that of the 
objections urged by modern skepticism, the only one 
of any real importance — the peculiarities of phrases 
and expressions — may be so completely removed by 
a just consideration of the date of the Epistle, the 
peculiar nature of the subjects discussed, and the 
plain, substantial accordance in all main points with 
the Apostle's general style (admitted even by 
De Wette), that no doubt of the authorship ought 
now to be entertained by any calm and reasonable 

Thus looking at the external and internal evi- 
dence, as well as at the objections urged, we cannot 
but conclude that the position of these Epistles 
remains unaltered. Beyond all doubt they came 

6* Commentary on Pastoral Epistles, 


from Paul's own hand. They stand or fall together, 
and surely we have every reason to believe that 
they form a true part of the impregnable rock of 
Holy Scripture. 

//. The Person Addressed. 

This is Timothy^ajnjidve^f Ljs^a,^^ 
Eunice was a Jewess and^ whose father was a Greek. 
He was "doubtless converted by Paul on his first 
missionary journey (Acts i6 : i). When Paul and 
Silas came to Lystra on the second missionary 
journey, they took Timothy with them. From 
that time forward he was Paul's constant compan- 
ion, and became bound to him by many endearing 
ties. The Apostle frequently sent him on com- 
missions to the Churches, but as a rule he remained 
by the side of his spiritual father. The fact that 
from youth Timothy had been instructed in the 
Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:15), shows that his Jewish 
mother had not neglected her duty to him. And 
not only did he have a godly mother, but his grand- 
mother Lois was also a woman of faith. This early 
training played no small part in preparing Timothy 
for his life work. He is associated with Paul in the 
salutations of the Epistles to the Thessalonians, 
Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon. He was not 
with the Apostle v/hen he went to Jerusalem and 
was arrested there, but at Rome he evidently 
spent most of his time with Paul. After Paul's 
release from his first Roman imprisonment, he and 
Timothy traveled together to Ephesus. It was to 
him as temporarily, at least, at the head of the 
Ephesian Church that Paul wrote the two Epistles. 


The Second Epistle, written when he was a pris- 
oner the second time at Rome, enjoins him to come 
speedily to him. Leaving the Church at Ephesus 
in temporary hands, Timothy probably hastened to 
Rome in obedience to Paul's request, and was able, 
we may hope, to minister to Paul in his last 

As no reference is made to Timothy's father in 
the Acts, except to state that he was a Greek, it has 
been inferred that he had died in Timothy's child- 
hood. This left the early training of the young man 
in the hands of his godly mother and grandmother. 
" It would be natural that a character thus fashioned 
should retain throughout something of a feminine 
piety. A constitution far from robust (i Tim. 5 : 23), 
a morbid shrinking from opposition and responsi- 
bility (i Tim. 4: 12-16; 5 : 20, 21 ; 6: 11-14; 2 Tim. 
2 : 1-7), a sensitiveness even to tears (2 Tim. i : 4), a 
tendency to ascetic vigor which he had not strength 
to bear (i Tim. 5 : 23), united, as it often is, with a 
temperament exposed to some risk from "youthful 
lusts" (2 Tim. 2 : 22), and the softer emotions (i Tim. 
5 : 2), these we may well think of as characterizing 
the youth as they afterwards characterized the 
man."^^ The Apostle conceived the deepest love for 
Timothy, while Timothy in turn as a son with a 
father served with Paul in the Gospel (Phil. 2 : 22). 
If he had not had peculiar qualifications for the 
position, Paul would not have placed him at the 
head of the Ephesian Church, elevating him above 
many who were older than he. He is referred to 
repeatedly as a young man, but he stood in the 

^^Plumptre on Timothy in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. 


character of the Apostle's vicar — a position that 
involved great responsibilities. It is not surprising 
therefore that Paul should regard him in the light 
that he did. Tradition assigns Timothy to the bish- 
opric of the Ephesian Church after Paul's death, 
and asserts that he died a martyr's death late in 
the first century. 

///. The Occasio7i and Object of the Epistle. 

This Epistle was occasioned by the fact that Paul 
had been suddenly called to Macedonia, where he 
found he would be delayed longer than he had ex- 
pected. Timothy had been left in charge of the 
Ephesian Church, and Paul felt the necessity of com- 
municating with him because of his delayed return 
to Ephesus. The object of the Epistle was twofold ; 
first, to exhort Timothy to counteract the develop- \ 
ing heresies of the time, and, secondly, to instruct 
him in all the particulars of his duties as overseer in 
charge for the time being of the Ephesian Church. 

IV. The OtLtline of the Epistle!'^ 

I. Salutation, i : i, 2. 

II. Reminds Timothy of the exhortation he had 
given him to silence the false teachers, i : 3-20. 

1. Personal charge to Timothy, i : 3-5. 

2. Explains the evil nature of the heresy, i : 

6-1 1. 
r3!jPersonal justification for assuming authority 
^ in this matter, i : 12-17. 
4. His choice of Timothy for his work, i : 

^^This outline is from Professor Warfield. See Presbyterian Re- 
view^ October, 1887. 


III. Directions to Timothy to order the Church 
life in Ephesus. 2 : 1-4 : 1 1. 

I. With reference to the public worship of the 
Church. 2 : 1-15. 
{a^ Duty of universal supplication explained. 

2 : 1-7. 

(^.) Proper manner in public prayer. 2 : 8-10. 

(^.) General command that women should 

keep silence in these services given, 

^K and justified. 2:11-15. 

\ f 2.\With reference to the choice of proper men 

/ for official position in the Church. 3 : 

(^.) Requirements for ordination of bishops. 

3 : 1-7- 

(^.) The same of deacons. 3 : 8-13. 
3. Importance of these directions as to church 
services and officers. 3 : 14-4: 11. 
(^.) Nature of the Church as God's house and 

church. 3 : 14, 15. 
(^.) Function of the Church as the pillar and 

ground of the truth. 3 : 15, 16. 
(^.) Danger impending over the truth from 
false teachers. 4:1-11. 

IV. Personal exhortations to Timothy. 4:12- 

1. Duty to himself and his position. 4: 12-16. 

2. His proper attitude toward various classes. 

5 : 1-6:2. 
(«.) Old and young of both sexes. 5:1,2. 
(^.) Widows. 5 : 3-16. 
{c.) Presbyters. 5 : 17-25. 
(^.) Slaves. 6:1,2, 


V. Concluding warnings to Timothy against the 
dangerous elements in the Church. 6 : 3-19, in 
which he 

1. describes the character of the false teachers, 


2. expounds the true relation of godliness and 

wealth, 6 : 6-10, 

3. exhorts Timothy, 6 : 11-16, 

4. and through him the rich members of the 

Church, 6 : 17-19. 

5. Again exhorts Timothy to keep the faith 

and avoid error. 6 : 20-21. 

6. Benediction. 6:21. 

V. Date and Place of Composition. 

On examining this Epistle it is evident that Paul 
had been in Ephesus a short time before it was 
written (i : 3), that he had been suddenly called to go 
to Macedonia, and that he had left Timothy in 
charge of the Church during his absence. It is also 
manifest that Paul expected to return again to Ephe- 
sus before long, although his return might be delayed 
for a time. When Paul left Ephesus on his third 
missionary journey (Acts 20:1,2), Timothy had 
been sent to Macedonia (Acts 19 : 22), and to Corinth 
(i Cor. 4:17). And when Paul wrote Second Cor- 
inthians from Macedonia, Timothy was with him 
(2 Cor. I : i). From this it can be seen that the 
events referred to in this Epistle do not correspond 
with the facts in connection with the other depart- 
ures of Paul from Ephesus. Nor catn we find a place 
for this absence of Paul from Ephesus during the three 
years' residence (Acts 20: 31) in that city. There is 


no place then for the facts referred to in this Epistle 
earlier than after the release of Paul from his first 
Roman imprisonment. This places as the limits of 
the time of its composition, the summer of 63 A. D. , 
and that of 68 A. D., when the Apostle was martyred 
at Rome. 66 A. D. has been suggested as possibly 
the date when Paul returned from Spain to Asia 
Minor. The journey to Macedonia was made prob- 
ably in the summer of 6^ A. D., and during it this 
Epistle was written. The postscript that it " was 
written from Laodicea, which is the chiefest city of 
Phrygia Pacatiana," is therefore manifestly incorrect, 
for the Epistle was written from some point in 

VL Peculiarities of the Epistle. 

The First Epistle to Timothy is not merely a per- 
sonal letter, as Philemon, or even Second Timothy, 
but is an official communication by the Apostle to 
his vicar at Ephesus. Personal matters of course are 
touched upon, but they are merely incidental to the 
main purpose of the Epistle. This Epistle, as well as 
the others of the group, deals not so much with doc- 
trine, although it emphasizes the need of sound 
doctrine, as it does with matters that pertain to the 
organization and government of the Church. In the 
earlier Epistles the doctrinal foundation is laid for 
the Church ; in these Epistles attention is paid rather 
to the superstructure. *' The great theme in these 
Epistles is the application of the Gospel to outward 
conduct. " The special peculiarity of this group is 
their attention to the matter of the Church govern- 

, TITUS. 215 


/. Canonicity. 

The external testimony to this Epistle includes 
Clement of Rome (96), the Epistle to Diognetus 
(117), Justin Martyr (145), the heretic Tatian (150), 
who received this Epistle but rejected the two to 
Timothy, and Theophilus of Antioch (168). The 
Muratori Canon (170), the Syriac (160) and Old Latin 
(170) Versions contain it. Irenaeus (175), Tertullian 
(190), and Clement of Alexandria (195), — all of these 
quote it by name, ascribing it to Paul. The internal 
evidence in regard to these Pastoral Epistles has 
already been examined under First Timothy. It is 
worthy of note that a number of critics who reject 
First Timothy, acknowledge Titus and Second Timo- 
thy to be Pauline. And there are none who accept 
either, or both of the Epistles to Timothy, who do 
not also accept Titus as well. Combining all this 
evidence with the claim of the Epistle itself, we may 
rest satisfied that it is a genuine Epistle of Paul. 

//. The Per s 071 Addressed. 

Tituvto whom this Epistle is addressed, is no- 
where mentioned by name in the Acts, and all that 
we can learn of him must be gathered from the inci- 
dental allusions to him in Paul's Epistles. He \y33.^ 
Gentye^ieixi^.J.,i^reek^.J^^ When 

Paul and Barnabas were appointed by the Antiochian 
Church to go up to Jerusalem to consult with the 
Apostles and elders there concerning the controversy 
that had arisen regarding circumcision (Acts 15:2), 
Titus accompanied them (Gal. 2 : i). In regard to hiiu 


Paul took a decided stand, and would not permit his 
circumcision because he was a Gentile, — the point at 
issue being the relation of the Gentiles to the law. 
The expression " mine own son after the common 
faith," shows that he was a convert of Paul's. He 
became a Christian before the Council of Jerusalem 
in 50 A. D. The next time he appears in the history 
is in connection with the Corinthian church. Paul 
calls him his "partner and fellow-helper," indicating 
that they had become closely associated in their 
work. Titus was the bearer of the First Epistle to 
the Corinthians in the Spring of the year 57 A. D. 
Shortly after his departure on that errand, Paul also 
left Ephesus and went to Troas, where he had hoped 
to meet Titus on his return from Corinth with a re- 
port of the reception of that Epistle (2 Cor. 2:13). 
Not meeting him there, the Apostle in his great anx- 
iety to hear the news, pressed on into Macedonia, 
where at some point Titus met him and gave him a 
full account of the effect of the First Epistle on the 
Corinthians (2 Cor. 7 : 6). Immediately Paul wrote 
his Second Epistle to the same- people, and sent 
Titus back with it at his own request, authorizing 
him at the same time to complete the collection for 
the benefit of the poor saints at Jerusalem, which on 
his previous visit Titus had begun, and which seems 
to have been somewhat under his care (2 Cor. 8 : 6, 
16, 17). 

From that time on (Summer of 57 A. D.), Titus 
does not appear in the history at all until some years 
after the release of Paul from his first imprisonment 
in Rome. It was possibly the Summer of 6j A. D. 
when Paul took Titus with him to the island of 

TITUS. 217 

Crete, where his presence was needed to reform the 
abuses that had arisen among the Christians on that 
island. The Apostle was accompanied by Titus, but 
it is apparent that he was for some reason unable to 
remain long enough in Crete to complete the work that 
it was necessary to accomplish, and consequently 
he left Titus behind him to complete that which he 
had been compelled to leave in an unfinished con- 
dition. That Titus' stay in Crete was to be only 
temporary is clearly proven by the directions Paul 
sends to him to join him as soon as possible at 
Nicopolis in Epirus, where Paul was then expecting 
to spend the following Winter. In this Epistle he is 
enjoined to hasten to Paul just as soon as Artemas or 
Tychicus should come to Crete to take his place. In 
2 Tim. 4 : lo Paul wrote, ''Titus is departed to Dal- 
matia," and from this we infer that he had joined Paul 
at Nicopolis, and from thence he had been sent on 
some mission up into Dalmatia. This is the last 
reference we have to this consecrated worker for 

In comparison with Timothy, we may infer from 
the duties laid upon Titus, that he was the more 
energetic and stronger character of the two. 2 Cor. 
12 : i8 contains an implied assertion of the strict 
integrity of Titus. The delicate and difficult mission 
that was his in connection with the delivery of the 
First Epistle to the Corinthians gives evidence of 
Paul's high estimate of his ability to rebuke the 
abuses that had arisen there. In it he was quite 
successful (2 Cor. 7 : 7, 15). He was a man of great 
zeal and sympathy, grieving over what was evil and 
rejoicing over what was good (2 Cor. 7:7, 13, 15). 


In regard to the duties imposed on him in reforming 
the abuses in Crete and in appointing elders and 
completing the organization of the churches there, 
" we see not only the confidence reposed in him by 
the Apostle, but the need there was of determination 
and strength of purpose, and therefore the proba- 
bility that this was his character." Tradition makes 
Titus the first Bishop of Crete, but this does not 
harmonize with the manifestly temporary character 
of his work on that island. His duty was to com- 
plete the work begun by Paul and then hasten to the 

The island of Crete is one of the largest of the 
islands of the Mediterranean. Upon it a great 
many Jews resided. " The character which the 
Apostle gives of the Cretans is far from being com- 
plimentary. He quotes the words of one of their 
own poets, and asserts that this testimony was true : 
' The Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, slow 
bellies.' This testimony is abundantly corroborated 
by similar assertions from ancient writers." That 
Christianity had penetrated this island some time 
previous to Paul's visit is evident. Cretans were in 
Jerusalem at the time of the great Pentecostal out- 
pouring of the Holy Spirit, and on their return home 
they must have carried the truth with them. The 
organization of their churches was incomplete, and 
they probably had never had any apostolic super- 
vision until Paul came to them. The heresies as- 
sailed in this Epistle were of Jewish and not of 
Gnostic origin. Paul touched at this island on his 
way to Rome as a prisoner in 60 A. D., but his stay 

TITUS. 219 

was so short that he very probably had no personal 
contact with the Christians there. Huther describes 
the heretics referred to in the Epistle in the follow- 
ing words: ''The heretics (1:9) belong especially 
to Judaism (i : 10). While boasting of their special 
knowledge of God, they lead a godless life (i : 16), 
condemned by their own consciences (3 : 11). What 
they bring forward are Jewish myths (i : 14), gene- 
alogies, points of controversy about the law (3 : 9), 
and mere commandments of man (i : 14). They are 
idle babblers (i : 10), who with their shameful doc- 
trine (i : 11) seduce hearts (i : 10), cause divisions 
in the church (3 : 10), and draw whole families into 
destruction (i : 11); and all this — for the sake of 
shameful gain" (i : 11)." 

///. TJie Occasion and Object of the Epistle. 

Paul desired to give Titus some further instruc- 
tion in regard to his superintendency of the Cretan 
churches, as well as to summon him to Nicopolis. 
The Apostle's design in writing, therefore, was 
princip ally t o giye^ instruction in regard to the se- 
lection and appointments of office-bearers. Another 
design was '* to instruct and charge Titus to re- 
fute and oppose false teachers. It is more than 
probable that Titus had met with much opposition ; 
several despised him, and others openly attacked 
him. PauJ^ t h ere for e ^ b y.,this F.pistk, ia¥£sts.Jum 
w]th_Jns_apostolic authority, and co mmands h im to 
exhort and convince gainsayers, to stop, tLe mouths 
of vain talkers and deceivers, to rebuke them 
"'Huther in Meyer's Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles. 


sharply, and to reject heretics, if not brought to 
repentance after two admonitions."^^ 

IV. Outline of the Epistle. 

1. Salutation, i : 1-4. 

2. His purpose in leaving Titus at Crete, i : 5) 6- 
0) Qualifications of bishops, i '.7-9. 

4. Necessity for these qualifications, i : 10. 

5. Description of the false teachers, i : 11-16. 

6. Special rules for various classes. 2 : 1-15. 
(i.) The old and young. 2 : 1-6. 

(2.) Exhortation to Titus that he should be a 
pattern of all good works. 2 : 7, 8. 

(3.) Slaves. 2 : 9, 10. 

(4.) Basis for these rules found in the purpose 
of the work of Christ. 2 : 11-15. 

7. Sundry commands to Christians. 3 : 1-8. 
(i.) To be subject to their rulers. 3 : i. 

(2.) To be gentle and kind to all men, because 
this is in keeping with God's purpose in 
them. 3 : 2-8. 

8. Injunctions to Titus. 3 : 9-1 1. 

(i.) To avoid useless disputes. 3:9. 
(2.) To excommunicate determined errorists. 
3: 10, II. 

9. Concluding instructions and benediction. 3 : 

V. Date and Place of Composition. 

The data furnished by this Epistle itself which 
help to determine this question are : the Apostle had 
shortly before its composition been on the island of 
Crete, where upon his departure he had left Titus ; 

^^Gloag's Introd. to the Pauline Epistles, p. 416. 

TITUS. 221 

and it was his expectation to spend the following 
Winter at Nicopolis, in Epirus. Attempts have been 
made to find a place for this trip and for the compo- 
sition of this Epistle during the three years spent at 
Ephesus, 54-57 A. D. But it is to be noted that 
the great dissimilarity between this Epistle and the 
acknowledged Epistles of that period is positively 
against this idea. The earlier Epistles have nothing 
to say directly about the qualifications of church offi- 
cers, or concerning matters that pertain to the or- 
ganization and government of the Church. This 
feature alone would forbid the early date assigned 
by some to this Epistle. But it may also be asked, 
When during the Ephesian residence had Paul any 
idea of spending the following Winter at Nicopolis? 
He expected to spend the Winter of 57-58 A. D. at 
Corinth (i Cor. 16 : 6 ; Acts 20 : 1-3), but no refer- 
ence is made in either the Acts or the Epistles of 
that earlier period to any expectation of spending a 
Winter at Nicopolis. There is no place in the Acts 
for the composition of this Epistle, for it comes 
several years later. 

First Timothy has already been dated during the 
early Summer of 6^ A. D. Leaving Titus at Crete, 
the Apostle returned to Ephesus in the latter part 
of the same season. This Epistle was written before 
the following Winter set in, and either at Ephesus or 
else on the way to Nicopolis. The postscript in the 
English Bible affirms that it was written from Nicop- 
olis of Macedonia. But this is certainly incorrect, 
for the Apostle does not seem to have reached his 
objective point when he wrote this Epistle. He 
may have been en route^ but it is very probable that 


he would have mentioned the fact of his arrival at his 
journey's end, if he had actually reached that point. 
The date of this Epistle accordingly is the Fall of 
67 A. D., and the place of its composition was prob- 
ably the city of Ephesus, or possibly at some point 
between there and the Nicopolis to which the Apos- 
tle was going. Of all the places named Nicopolis, 
and there were at least seven of them, the Nicopolis 
in Epirus is the one which the large majority of 
scholars have settled upon as the one named by 

As Paul speaks in 2 Tim. 4:12 of having sent 
Tychicus (or of sending him) to Ephesus, we may 
doubtless infer that Artemas was the person whom 
he eventually chose to occupy Titus' place in 
Crete (Titus 3 : 12). It has been inferred that Zenas 
and Apollos mentioned in 3 : 13 were the bearers of 
this Epistle to its destination, but it seems rather 
that they were with Titus when this letter was 
written. Artemas may have been the bearer of 
the Epistle, although we are not able to affirm 
this absolutely. 


/. Canonicity. 

Barnabas (106), Ignatius (115), and Polycarp (116) 
most certainly adopt certain phrases from this Epistle. 
Heracleon (150) refers to a passage in it. It is con- 
tained in the Muratori Canon (170), as well as in the 
Syriac (160) and Old Latin (170) Versions. Irenaeus 
(175), Tertullian (190), and Clement of Alexandria 
(195) quote it by name. This external evidence is 


SO strong that many who reject First Timothy accept 
this Epistle. There are comparatively few critics in 
modern times who reject it. In regard to the in- 
ternal evidence, Professor Salmon writes, ** In the 
case of the Second Epistle to Timothy, the marks 
of Pauline origin are so strong that I do not think 
that any Epistle can with more confidence be as- 
serted to be the Apostle's work." ^^ Reuss affirms 
that "of all the Pauline Epistles which criticism has 
attacked, none (save that to Philemon) bears the 
stamp of genuineness so plainly as this, provided 
one keeps in mind the circumstances under which 
it must have been written." ''^ And the same critic 
also writes that '' the whole Epistle is so completely 
the natural expression of the actual situation of the 
author, and contains, unsought and for the most part 
in the form of mere allusions, such a mass of minute 
and unessential particulars, that even did the name 
of the writer not chance to be mentioned at the be- 
ginning it would be easy to discover it."^** 

The style of the Epistle, as well as its historical 
references and allusions, proclaim its genuineness. 
None but Paul himself could possibly have written 
it, for Paul is the only one who could have been 
so intimately acquainted with the persons named in 
the letter as to have described their conditions and 
movements. ''Genuineness is stamped upon the 
letter throughout, so clearly and unmistakably that 
we cannot for a moment entertain the idea of its 
being a forgery." 

69 Salmon's Introd. to the N. T., p. 503. 

70 Reuss' History of the N. T., Vol. I., p. 12 1. 


II. The Occasion and Object of the Epistle, 

When the Apostle wrote this Epistle, he was in 
prison in Rome for the second time. His confine- 
ment during his first imprisonment had not been as 
severe, for although he was then chained all the time 
to a Roman soldier, he had been permitted to dwell 
in his own hired house, where those who desired to see 
him could have access to him at any time. But now 
he is kept under close surveillance in some prison, so 
that when Onesiphorus came to Rome, he had to 
search diligently for the Apostle before he found 
him (2 Tim. i : 16-18). Formerly he had been sur- 
rounded by friends and workers, who had unre- 
stricted approach to him ; but now he is practically 
alone, with the exception of the faithful, beloved 
physician Luke, who would not desert him even 
though his condition was so much changed from what 
it had been. Titus and Crescens are absent on duty 
(4 : 10). The allusion to Tychicus is a little obscure, 
and may mean that he is absent also, or, as some main- 
tain, he is sending this Epistle by his hand.'^^ Demas 
had deserted the Apostle, and Paul reminds Timothy 
that, as he knew, " all that are in Asia turned away 
from me" (2 Tim. i : 15, R. V.), doubtless meaning 
that at the time of his arrest either at Troas or at 
Ephesus, they had deserted him. The Apostle, there- 
fore, feels his position keenly, the defections having 
made the confinement all the harder to bear. 

Paul also informs Timothy, "At my first defense no 
man took my part, but all forsook me " (2 Tim. 4 : 16). 

■^^The epistolary aorist is probably used here, and it means, " An4 
Tychicus I am sending (or, \ send herewith) to Ephesus." 


The reference here is in all probability to his first 
preliminary trial, when he was delivered from the lion's 
mouth. "He was acquitted, then, on the first charge 
of the indictment, which perhaps accused him of con- 
spiring with the incendiaries of Rome. He was de- 
livered from the immediate peril, and saved from the 
ignominious and painful death which might have 
been his doom had he been convicted on such a 
charge." Paul had been remanded to prison to 
await his final trial. In that approaching trial he evi- 
dently does not expect acquittal, for he writes, '' I am 
now ready to be offered, and the time of my depart- 
ure is at hand " (2 Tim. 4 : 6). 

How natural that he should desire to see Timo- 
thy once more ere death should come to his release ! 
So he writes to Timothy to hasten to him, urging 
him to come before another Winter should set in.'^^ 
He also enjoins him to bring Mark, for by his 
faithfulness Mark had restored himself fully to 
Paul's favor and confidence, both of which he had 
forfeited by his deserting the Apostle on the first 
missionary journey (Acts 15 138). Timothy is also 
to bring the cloak, books, and parchments the 
Apostle had left at Troas. '* As, however, his fate 
was uncertain, and as he might not survive until the 
arrival of Timothy, he writes this Epistle with a 
view to stir up and encourage that Evangelist in his 
ministry ; he exhorts him not to be ashamed of the 
Gospel of Christ, to stand up boldly for the faith, 

72 The winter of 2 Tim. 4:21! now believe was the same as that of Titus 
3:12. This necessitates dating 2 Timothy in 67 A. D,, and not in 68 A. D., 
as held in my first edition. 



and to endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus 
Christ, and he warns him against these false teach- 
ers, who were perverting the minds of the disciples, 
eating as a canker into the very heart of religion. 
This Epistle, then, is a pastoral charge of the great 
Apostle of the Gentiles, primarily designed for 
Timothy, but applicable to all ministers and to all 
congregations in the Christian Church. "^^ 

///. Contents of the Epistle. 

This is a private letter, and not like the first, an 
official communication. As such it partakes of the 
freedom of a private and personal letter. It does 
not admit of formal divisions. 

1. Greeting. 1:1,2. 

2. Thanksgiving. 1:3-5. 

3. Exhortation to steadfastness in the Gospel. 

I 16-14. 

4. The kindness of Onesiphorus. i : 15-18. 

5. Continued exhortations and rules for conduct. 

2 : 1-26. 

6. Warnings against false teachers. 3 : 1-13. 

7. Again urges Timothy to be steadfast, and to 

live according to the inspired Scriptures, with 
description of the uses of the Scriptures. 

3 : 14-17- 

8. A solemn charge, with prophecy of the future 

developments of heresy. 4:1-5. 

9. Personal details. 4:6-22. 

(^.) Consciousness of approaching death. 

4 :6-8. 
(^.) Commands Timothy to hasten to him, 


^^Gloag's Introcl, to the Pauline Epistles, p. 42O, 


{c.) Paul's loneliness consequent on the de- 
sertions of some, and the absence of 
others on duty. 4 : 10-15. 

(^.) Results of his first trial. 4: 16-18. 

(e.) Salutations and benediction. 4:19-22. 

IV. Date and Place of Composition. 

Concerning the place of composition, none can 
deny that it was Romp. It is manifestly the last 
Epistle written by the aged Apostle. It could not 
have been written during the first imprisonment, for 
when he wrote to the Philippians, he expected to be 
released and to see them soon again ; but now as he 
writes, the only release he expects is that of death. 
What has already been written concerning the date 
of the other two Pastoral Epistles confirms our be- 
lief that this Epistle was written near the end of 
Paul's life and during his second imprisonment. All 
the references in this Epistle to his imprisonment 
show that he is in a very different position than he 
was during his former imprisonment. 

When he wrote the Epistle to Titus he was proba- 
bly at Ephesus. Leaving there in the Fall of 6^ A. D. , 
he journeyed to Nicopolis. His expected sojourn 
there for that Winter was cut short by apparent 
dangers. Leaving Nicopolis, he fled across Mace- 
donia to Troas, at which point, or possibly after he 
had arrived at Ephesus from Troas, he was appre- 
hended and taken with all haste to Rome."^* Since the 
burning of Rome in 64 A. D., all Christians were lia- 
ble to arrest at any moment. Informers (delatores) 

'* Conybeare and Howson believe that at this point he was arrested 
and taken to Rome, that he had left the articles at Troas, mentioned in 
4 : 13, when he returned from Macedonia to Ephesus after writing 


were encouraged to bring charges of any kind 
against Christians, and credence was readily given 
to any information against them. It may be that 
Alexander the coppersmith (4 : 14) was the one at 
whose accusation he was arrested. This man may 
have been the Alexander whose excommunication 
he had secured (i Tim. i : 20), and who took this way 
of revenge. At Rome the Apostle was incarcerated 
in a chill and gloomy prison. And when he wrote 
his Epistle, he had had his first preliminary trial. 
Taking all these things into consideration, the 
most probable date for this Epistle is in the Fall 
of 67 A.D. Probably before the next Spring his final 
trial came up. The noble Apostle to the Gentiles 
was condemned, and he was accorded the death of a 
Roman citizen, that of beheading. With calm and 
exultant faith he looks forward to his release from 
the burdens and cares of this life. " 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." On some day in May, 
68 A. D., according to tradition, the Apostle was led 
outside of the eternal city on the Ostian road, and 
beheaded. Thus he departed and was with Christ. 

V. Peculiarities of the Epistle, 

The peculiar characteristic of this Epistle is that 
It was the last one of the great Apostle. It is his 

I Tim. With this I cannot agree, for I do not think he was likely to 
have left these articles that he valued so much there for almost a year 
without having sent for them. It seems to me that he had left them 
there only a few weeks before he wrote this Epistle, 


dying advice, written in the face of impending mar- 
tyrdom. Nowhere does his noble manhood stand 
forth in clearer light than here. What pathos, what 
faith, what courage, what hope, shine forth in every 
line of his imperishable letter ! " He looked forward 
calmly to the grave, and, with the executioner's ax 
in the foreground, he pens this letter to his favorite 
disciple ; he solemnly charges him before God and 
the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and 
the dead at His appearing and His kingdom, to be 
faithful to the charge committed to him (2 Tim. 
4: I, 2). We see here the very heart of Paul, — his 
affection for Timothy, his unquenchable zeal for the 
promotion of Christ's kingdom, the calmness with 
which he looks forward to the grave, the confidence 
with which he looks upward to heaven. Now old 
in years, and worn out with many trials, deserted 
in a great measure by his friends, he waits with 
calmness and with a certain degree of satisfaction 
his approaching martyrdom, His longing desire to 
see Timothy, the urgency with which he entreats 
him to come to him with all diligence, the sadness 
with which he mentions the desertion of his friends, 
the feeling of loneliness, the craving after human 
sympathy in this the hour of his trial, are all natural 
touches of the state of Paul's feelings, and vividly 
represent him before us as one who, although stand- 
ing on the verge of heaven, was not yet raised above 
the common feelings of humanity." ^^ 

■^5 Gloag's Introd. to the Pauline Epistles, p. 435. 


The Epistle to the Hebrews. 

Having finished our study of the acknowledged 
Epistles of Paul, it is natural to take up next the 
study of the Epistle to the Hebrews. In no place 
does this Epistle make any claim to Pauline author- 
ship, its title really being *' To the Hebrews " without 
any specification as to its author. It differs from 
the thirteen other Epistles in that they all some- 
where explicitly claim to be Pauline. This one does 
not, either in its title or in its body. The majority 
of critics do not accept it as a Pauline Epistle. And 
it is to be noted that even if it could be conclusively 
proved that its author was not Paul, this fact would 
not militate against its canonicity. 

/. Canoiiicity. 

The first witness to be summoned is Clement of 
Rome (96), whose letter to the Corinthians is satu- 
rated with the language and thoughts of this Epistle. 
He directly quotes it several times, although not by 
name ; while he makes repeated allusions to it. In 
one place he quotes it with the formula, ''for so it is 
written," and by doing so shows that he regarded it 
as authoritative Scripture. Had he any doubts about 
its canonical authority, he could not possibly have 
used it as he does. Eusebius, commenting on Clem- 


ent's use of this Epistle, says that Clement "after 
giving- many sentiments taken from the Epistle to 
the Hebrews, and also literally quoting the words, 
most clearly shows that this work is not a late pro- 
duction. Hence it is probable that this also was 
numbered with the other writings of the Apos- 
tle."^ It is true that he does not ascribe it to 
Paul, but neither does he do so in regard to ac- 
knowledged Pauline Epistles, except First Corin- 
thians. Bishop Westcott writes, " It is not too much 
to say that it [this Epistle] was wholly transfused 
into Clement's mind." Justin Martyr (145) unques- 
tionably uses it, quoting *' it as a scriptural authority 
of equal rank with the book of Genesis." It is prob- 
ably quoted by Aristides (138-161) in his apology. 
Marcion (130) omitted it from his list, and it is not 
contained in the Muratori Canon (i/o). But both 
the Syriac (160) and Old Latin (i/o) versions include 
it. Clement of Alexandria repeatedly quotes it, as- 
cribing it to Paul. According to Eusebius, Clement 
of Alexandria asserts that Pantaenus (185) affirmed its 
Pauline authorship. By the whole Eastern Church 
this Epistle was accepted as having canonical au- 

As to the Western Church, it is evident that, with 
the notable exception of Clement of Rome, it was 
during the latter part of the second, and throughout 
the third century, against the canonical authority 
of this Epistle. Among those who denied this are 
Tertullian, Cyprian, and Irenseus. At the beginning 
of the fourth century, there was a decided reaction 
in its favor, led by such men as Hilary of Poitiers 
and Ambrose of Milan. " At the end of the fourth 

1 Eusebius H. E. 3 : 38. 


century, Jerome, the most learned and critical of the 
Latin Fathers, reviewed the conflicting opinions as to 
the authority of this Epistle. He considered that 
the prevailing, though not universal, view of the 
Latin Churches was of less weight than the views, 
not only of ancient writers, but also of all Greek and 
all the Eastern Churches, where the Epistle was 
received as canonical and read daily ; and he pro- 
nounced a decided opinion in favor of its authority. 
The great contemporary light of North Africa, St. 
Augustine, held a similar opinion. And after the 
declaration of these two eminent men, the Latin 
Churches united with the East in receiving the 
Epistle. The third Council of Carthage (A. D. 397) 
gave final confirmation to their decision."^ 

Summing up the external evidence, it may be 
affirmed that the canonical authority of the Epistle 
was recognized all over the Church, with the excep- 
tion of the Latin Churches from the end of the sec- 
ond to the end of the fourth centuries. No Greek or 
Syrian writer expresses any personal doubt in this 
matter. The Latin Church seems to have held to 
the idea that apostolic authorship, or at least apos- 
tolic indorsement, was essential to canonical author- 
ity. And as that portion of the Church denied its 
Pauline authorship, it was led likewise to deny its 
canonicity. The doubts all arose in connection with 
the uncertainty of authorship. But, as has been 
noted, that portion of the Church swung into line by 
the end of the fourth century, and positively affirmed 
its canonical authority in harmony with the belief 
of all the other sections of the Church. As to the 

2 Prof. Thayer, in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, p. 1024. 


internal evidence, Alford says that '' nowhere are the 
main doctrines of the faith more purely or more ma- 
jestically set forth ; nowhere is Holy Scripture urged 
with greater authority and cogency." 

In all probability the canonical authority of this 
Epistle would never have been questioned had it 
not been for the uncertainty of authorship. But 
even this uncertainty ought never to have occa- 
sioned doubts as to its canonicity. We may then 
feel satisfied that, whatever decision may eventually 
be arrived at in regard to its author, its canonical 
authority is now unassailable. The Epistle by its 
own inherent worth won its way into the acceptance 
of the Church universal, because no cogent reasons 
could be found for rejecting it from the sacred 
canon. Professor Thayer writes that "the canonical 
authority of the Epistle is secure so far as it can be 
established by the tradition of the Christian Church. 
The doubts which affected it were admitted in re- 
mote places, or in the failure of knowledge, or under 
the pressure of times of intellectual excitement; and 
they have disappeared before full information and 
calm judgment." 

//. Its Authorship, 

This IS one of the most difficult questions that 
meets the student in the New Testament Introduc- 
tion. A vast mass of literature has been written on 
this subject, and the probabilities are that we must 
all agree with the verdict of Origen, who, while 
apparently accepting it as practically a Pauline 
Epistle, says, *' Who wrote the Epistle, God only 
knows certainly. " So far as the external testimony 


is concerned, Paul is the only person who receives 
enough support to be considered. The testimony 
of Tertullian in favor of Barnabas is the only excep- 
tion to this. Luke and Clement of Rome, it is true, 
have been mentioned, but only as editors or trans- 
lators rather than as independent authors. The re- 
ceived tradition and popular belief of the East was 
that Paul wrote it. The first direct witness in favor 
of Pauline authorship is Pantaenus (185). It is Clem- 
ent of Alexandria who informs us of this fact, and 
he in turn, without expressing a single doubt as to 
its Pauline authorship, states that Paul wrote this 
Epistle in Hebrew and that Luke translated it into 
Greek. In this way he accounts for its dissimilarity 
from Paul's other Epistles. Origen, who quotes this 
Epistle more than two hundred times, has no per- 
sonal doubts as to its authorship, but he refers 
to the doubts of others. He suggests that " the 
thoughts are the Apostle's, but the diction and the 
phraseology belong to some one who wrote down 
what the Apostle said." He affirms that the ancient 
men " delivered it as coming from Paul," but at the 
same time he confesses, ^'who wrote the Epistle, 
God only knows certainly." Dionysius of Alexandria 
(247) maintains its Pauline origin. The historian 
Eusebius (315) speaks of the fourteen Epistles of 
Paul, and he classed it among the " acknowledged " 
books. Eusebius adopts the explanation of Clement 
of Alexandria, as to the cause of its differences from 
the other Pauline Epistles. After this time the 
Eastern Church without a dissenting voice held to 
its Pauline authorship. 


On the other hand Tertullian affirms that Barna- 
bas was its author. Caius of Rome (210) and Hip- 
polytus (220) deny explicitly its Pauline authorship. 
Irenaeus, though quoting it in a work now lost, does 
not, so far as we know, have anything to say about 
its author. Cyprian (248) seems to exclude it, but 
makes no certain allusions to it. Davidson sums up 
the patristic evidence in the following words : "In 
the Western or Latin Church the Epistle was not 
regarded as apostolic or Pauline down to the fourth 
century. ^ During this century, however, it obtained 
a canonical position, and was attributed to Paul ; so 
that in the latter part of it and afterwards, the Epis- 
tle was firmly established in ecclesiastical opinion 
among the authentic writings of the Apostle. The 
causes which contributed to this change of sentiment 
in the Western Church, if it can be properly called 
a change, cannot be exactly traced. Perhaps the 
study of Origen's writings had its influence. We 
know that Hilary and Ambrose in particular were 
conversant with and largely influenced by these. 
The ecclesiastical intercourse, too, between the East 
and West, that began to be held at this time, must 
have brought the sentiments of the East into the 
West. Above all, the weight of two names, Jerome 
and Augustine, contributed largely to the formation 
of such an opinion. When these distinguished Fath- 
ers quoted and used it as the Apostle's authentic pro- 
duction, inferior writers might well do the same."* 

'These words ought to have been modified by the unquestioned 
acceptance of it by Clement of Rome, who uses it as authoritative 
scripture. * First Edition, Vol. III., p. 195. 


The East was undoubtedly more critical than the 
West. And it is manifest that where the East gave 
expression to its opinion, it was in favor of the Pau- 
line authorship. To the weight of this opinion the 
West finally and completely yielded. So much for 
the external testimony in this matter. 

What now about the internal testimony } And it 
is just here that the opponents of Pauline authorship 
put forth their strongest arguments. But the argu- 
ment from style is always precarious, unless backed 
up by other considerations. Here we find equally 
learned and acute critics arrayed against one another ; 
some asserting, others denying, Pauline authorship. 
It is not denied that the theology of the Epistle is 
Pauline, but it is claimed by some that the general 
style of composition forbids Pauline authorship. 
On the other hand it has been confidently affirmed 
"that the things which have been urged against the 
hypothesis of the Pauline authorship of the Epistle, 
are, on the contrary, in perfect harmony with it ; 
some of them, indeed, supplying confirmatory proofs 
of it." 

It has been objected against its Pauline au- 
thorship, (i.) that there is the lack of the usual 
inscription of Paul's name. In the other thirteen 
Epistles the Apostle's name is prefixed, but here it 
is not. But, it may be answered, that the object and 
destination of the Epistle will account for this omis- 
sion. The very mention of his name by the Apostle, 
since he was the Apostle to the Gentiles, might have 
interfered with its purpose. Clement of Alexandria 
accounts for this omission " by supposing that the 
Apostle prudently refrained from obtruding on the 


Hebrews a name which, he knew, was unwelcome to 
them." (2.) It is objected that Paul would not be 
likely to write an Epistle to the Jews, since his mis- 
sion was to the Gentiles. But Paul's solicitude for his 
brethren according to the flesh is well known. If he 
could write, '' I could wish that myself were accursed 
from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according 
to the flesh " (Rom. 9 : 3), surely he could also write 
an Epistle to some of them. (3.) It is held that Heb. 
2 : 3 can only be interpreted as meaning that the 
writer had not heard the Lord Jesus speak the words 
of truth in the flesh. But the Apostle, while dis- 
tinctly claiming that he had received his credentials 
to preach, as well as his knowledge of the truth, from 
Christ, and not from man, never claims that he had 
seen Him in the flesh. These words do not neces- 
sarily conflict with his statements elsewhere in 
regard to the visions and revelations he had had. 
But that upon which the opponents of Pauline 
authorship lay the greatest stress is the dissimilarity 
in style from the other Epistles of Paul. There is 
no question of the great difference there is in this 
respect. Delitzsch writes that "the language is 
more oratorical than dialectic, not so excited and 
lively as in the Epistle to the Galatians, not pressing 
forward with such quick, triumphant step as in the 
Epistle to the Romans, not so unrestrained and 
superabundant as in that to the Ephesians, but 
characterized throughout by conscious repose, dig- 
nified solemnity, and majestic quietude." ^ In the 
words of Dean Alford, ** The main difference for us, 
which will also set forth the characteristic peculiar- 

^ Delitzsch on Hebrews, Eng. Tr., Vol. I, p. 3. 


ity of this Epistle, is, that whereas Paul is ever, 
as it were, struggling with the scantiness of human 
speech to pour forth his crowding thoughts, thereby- 
falling into rhetorical and grammatical irregularities, 
the style of our Epistle flows regularly on, with no 
such suspended constructions'." ° But in this con- 
nection it must be remembered that there are great 
differences in style between other and acknowledged 
Epistles of the Apostle. The occasion and the sub- 
ject must be allowed to dominate and fix the style 
of an Epistle. The Apostle may have taken, and 
undoubtedly did take, much more care than usual 
in the composition of this Epistle. Dr. Kay ^ gives 
a list of seventeen words that are peculiar to this 
Epistle and the speeches and other letters of Paul, 
that are found nowhere else in the New Testament. 
There are also thirty-four other words that are 
found only here and in Paul's other Epistles. The 
same writer shows that there are ''words in the 
Epistle which are seldom used in the New Testa- 
ment by any except Paul, but which he uses fre- 
quently, or with some peculiarity of manner." A 
man with such versatility of mind as Paul had did 
not have to write in exactly the same style every 
time he wrote a letter. He may have taken spe- 
cial pains in the composition of this Epistle. "The 
inaccuracy of Paul's Greek does not arise from de- 
fective knowledge of the language, but from a cer- 
tain carelessness of style arising from the fervor 
of his spirit." In the more epistolary parts of this 
Epistle the style of Paul is quite pronounced. And 

^Alford's Gk. Test., Vol., IV Prolegomena, p. 79. 
'^ Bible Commentary, Introd. to Hebrews, 


the very subject of the Epistle will in large part 
account for its marked peculiarities. That the in- 
fluence of Paul's modes of thought and expression 
is manifest, none can or do deny. There are many 
phenomena in it that are in perfect harmony with 
Pauline authorship, and these ought to be given 
their due weight. 

The position of this Epistle in the great MSS., is 
worthy of special note in this connection. In the 
English Bible it is placed after the thirteen Epistles 
of Paul. But in the Sinaitic, Alexandrian, and 
Vatican MSS., it is placed immediately after Second 
Thessalonians and before the Pastoral Epistles. In 
the Vatican MS., there is evidence that it stood 
after Galatians in an earlier MS. The weight, then, 
of the MSS., is decidedly in favor of Pauline author- 
ship, inasmuch as they place it among, and not after, 
the acknowledged Epistles, as our English Version 

Doctrinal differences between this Epistle and the 
others have been asserted. But this arises from the 
entire omission of references to themes prominent 
in other Epistles. This is rather negative criticism, 
and surely new views of the truth, or omissions of 
certain customary doctrinal statements, are not 
inconsistent with Pauline authorship. 

The writer of this Epistle must have been a Jew, 
and this fact alone would rule out Clement of Rome 
or Luke as possible authors of it. Barnabas was not 
suggested as its author until Tertullian's day, and 
Luther suggested that ApoUos was the author, but 
before Luther's day no one apparently thought of 
him in this connection. If we had any known writ- 


ings from either Barnabas or Apollos, we might be 
in a position to speak definitely, but we have no 
such writings, and consequently it is only conjecture 
that can associate either of these names with its 
authorship. And if within one hundred and fifty 
years after the time of its composition, its author- 
ship was largely a matter of conjecture, there is little 
reason for hope that the question can ever be defi- 
nitely settled. With Dr. Gloag^ we may say : "In 
summing up the internal evidence, it is difficult to 
arrive at any definite conclusion. The doctrines 
and phraseology of the Epistle point to a Pauline 
origin ; whilst the want of inscription, and the mode 
of citation from the Old Testament,^are un-Pauline. 
The great objection is the difference of style ; but 
we must put against this difference the peculiar 
Pauline digressions with which the Epistle abounds. 
If the external evidence in favor of Paul had been 
stronger, we might have disregarded the internal ; 
but still we think, taking all things into considera- 
tion, that the preponderance of evidence is in favor 
of a Pauline authorship ; at least no person has yet 
been suggested as better entitled to be considered 
the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews."^ 

* Gloag's Introd. to the Pauline Epistles, p. 464. 

^For a fuller investigation of this whole question, the reader is 
referred to the Introductions of Gloag, Davidson ist Ed., Dr. Kay in 
the Bible Commentary, the article "Hebrews" in Smith's Dictionary 
of the Bible, the Commentaries of Lunemann (The Meyer Commen- 
tary), and Delitzsch, and all the other more elaborate Introductions. 
The strongest argument against the Pauline authorship of the Epistle 
is presented by Gardner in Vol. XIV. of the Nicene and Post- 
Nicene Fathers, prefacing the Homilies of Chrysostora on Hebrews. 


///. To Whom Written. 

It is addressed briefly " to the Hebrews." The 
voluminous discussion of this subject has resulted in 
a well-nigh unanimous verdict among scholars that 
it was written to Palestinian Jews, especially those 
of Jerusalem. ''The whole tenor of the Epistle im- 
plies that the persons to whom it was written, lived 
under the shadow of the Temple services." Some 
have striven to prove that it was written to Alex- 
andrian Jews, but the evidence is decidedly against 
this theory. How natural it was that Paul should 
write to those Jews among whom his early days had 
been spent by him as a zealot for the law ! 

IV. The Occasion and Object of the Epistle. 

"The Epistle to the Hebrews," writes Lunemann, 
"was occasioned by the danger to which the Chris- 
tians in Palestine, particularly in Jerusalem, were 
exposed, of renouncing again their faith in Christ, 
and wholly falling back into Judaism (cf. specially 
6:4-6; io:26ff). This danger had become a very 
pressing one, inasmuch as many had already as a 
matter of fact ceased to frequent the Christian as- 
semblies (10:25)."^^ The object of the Epistle was 
to strengthen and comfort his readers in their perse- 
cutions, and, at the same time, to warn them against 
the danger of apostasy to Judaism. " The Epistle 
aims, by the unfolding on every side of the sub- 
limity of the Christian revelation as the perfect and 
archetypal, above that of the Old Testament as the 
merely preparatory and typical, as well as by setting 

i** Lunemann in the Meyer Commentary on Hebrews. 


forth the terrible consequences of an apostasy, to 
warn against such falling away, and to animate to 
a faithful perseverance in the Christian course." 

V. The Outline of the Epistle. 

Because of the importance of this Epistle, a fuller 
outline than usual seems in place. The following ad- 
heres closely to the analysis given by Dr. Weidner." 

1. In former revelations, God spoke through the 
prophets, but now he speaks in His Son. i : 1-3. 

2. Who is superior to the angels, i :4-i4. 

3. To whose message we ought to give the more 
earnest heed. 2 : 1-4. 

4. By His incarnation the Son of God was brought 
lower than the angels and to the level of man for a 
time, that in the state of humiliation He might be a 
perfect Redeemer. 2 : 5-18. 

5. As our High Priest, Jesus is superior to Moses. 

3 : 1-6. 

6. Let us not through unfaithfulness fail of the 
promises, but let us give due diligence to attain to 
them. 3:7-4:13. 

7. Having such a merciful High Priest, let us 
through Him draw near to God. 4 : 14-16. 

8. Christ is the true High Priest, after the order 
of Melchisedec. 5:1-10. 

9. Low spiritual attainments of his readers. 5 • 

10. Warning to them of the necessity of progress 
and of the peril of falling back. 6 : 1-8. 

11. Encourages them by telling them oi God's 
faithfulness. 6 : 9-20. 

11 Studies in the Book, Third Series, 


12. The priesthood of Melchisedec, — its glory, 
7 : 1-3, its superiority to the Levitical priesthood. 

13. Jesus is the true High Priest after the order of 
Melchisedec, /: 11-25, — not of the race of Aaron, 
7:11-14; nor by carnal descent of any kind, but 
through the absolute dignity of His own person, 
7:15-19; appointed with a divine oath, 7:20-22; 
with an unchangeable priesthood, ever living to 
make intercession for us, 7:23-25. 

14. Christ being then the true High Priest, He is 
superior to the Aaronic priesthood not only in the 
nature of His Priesthood, but also in the nature of 
His ministrations. 7 : 26-28. 

15. This superiority is manifest from the divine 
and heavenly sphere in which His offices are dis- 
charged, 8 : 1-6, as well as from the superiority of the 
New Covenant under which He acts, 8 :7-i3, as well 
as by its eternal validity, 9 : 1-12. 

16. For the blood of Christ purifies us inwardly, 
9:13, 14; His redeeming death is the consecration 
of the New Covenant, 9:15-23, and His entrance 
into the eternal sanctuary is the seal of the absolute 
remission of sin, 9 : 24-28. 

17. His own sacrifice of Himself is the complete 
and only adequate fulfillment of the will of God, 10: 
i-io ; He is henceforth exalted to the right hand 
of God, 10:11-14; and His death is the inaugura- 
tion of that New Covenant. 10: 15-18. 

18. Exhortation to steadfastness in faith and good 
works. 10 : 19-39. 

19. Illustrations of the nature and power of faith. 
II ; 1-40. 


20. Renewed exhortations to continued persever- 
ance and patience, with warnings against apostasy. 
12 : 1-17. 

21. Punishment under the New Covenant greater 
than under the Old. 12 : 18-29. 

22. Exhortation to brotherly love, purity, and con- 
tentment. 13 : 1-6. 

23. Imitate your Christian teachers — bear the re- 
proach of Christ. 13 : 7-17. 

24. Closing prayers and salutations. 13 : 18-25. 

VI. The Time and Place of Composition. 

This Epistle was certainly written before the de- 
struction of the Temple in 70 A. D., for it presup- 
poses not only the existence of that structure, but 
also the continuation of the Temple services at the 
time of its composition. *' The persons addressed 
had been long converted to Christianity (5 : 12) ; 
they had suffered much in its service (10 : 32-37 ; 12 : 
4, 5) ; many of their teachers were dead (3:7); and 
they were evidently exposed to various trials which 
exercised their patience and Christian principle." 
These facts necessitate as late a date as possible 
before the destruction of the Temple. If Paul was 
the author, it must have been written after his lib- 
eration from his first Roman imprisonment in 63 
A. D. It was probably written soon after that date, 
and when he wrote he was probably still in Italy. 
We date it late in 63 A. D. or early in 64 A. D., with- 
out being able to assert absolutely in this matter. 


VII. Peculiarities of the Epistle. 

These are numerous and marked. The name of 
the author is not given in it. The bulk of the Epistle 
is not in the usual epistolary style, — some have held 
that it is a short treatise rather than an epistle. It 
is peculiarly scholarly in its composition, being writ- 
ten in better Greek than the other Pauline Epistles. 
Much has been written about the resemblance be- 
tween Philo's writings and this Epistle. But it is to 
be noted that while Philo allegorizes the facts of the 
Old Testament, so as to convert them almost into 
myths, this Epistle deals with them as real historical 
facts, though facts that typified the person and work 
of Christ. " Hebrews shows that Judaism was the 
shadow, Christianity the substance ; Judaism the 
picture, Christianity the original ; Judaism the husk, 
Christianity the kernel within ; Judaism the body, » 
Christianity the spirit ; Judaism the type, Chris- 
tianity the anti-type : and as the substance is always 
better than the shadow, the reality than the picture, 
the kernel wrapped up in the husk than the husk 
itself, the spirit than the body, the anti-type than 
the type, so is Christianity better than Judaism. 
The word ' better ' is the key word of Hebrews." ^^ 

If comparisons of this kind are allowable, it may 
be said that this is the Epistle par excellence for 
to-day. Nowhere better than here, can we see de- 
tailed the truths of Christianity that need to have a 
profound hold upon Christians. In this stately and 
majestic Epistle we can read in language too plain 
to be misunderstood, the true character of our great 

12 Dr. Moorhead in a lecture before Moody's Bible Institute. 


High Priest, who can be touched with the feeling of 
our infirmities. Whatever doubts may arise as to 
authorship, they can never hold against the inspira- 
tion of this wonderful Epistle, which, in sublime 
language and with sustained conception of the 
Person and work of the Redeemer, brings alike the 
divinity and the humanity of the Saviour to bear 
on the believer. 


The Catholic Epistles — General Intro- 

The next group of books that we are to study is 
commonly called the Catholic or General Epistles. 
The most satisfactory explanation of the title *' Cath- 
olic " is that which understands it as meaning those 
letters which were generally addressed to a wider 
constituency than the Pauline Epistles. "The term 
Catholic was first employed to denote those Epistles 
not addressed to any particular individual or church, 
but to the Church in general, or at least to a wide 
circle of readers. In the process of time it became 
a technical term, used to designate that group of 
Epistles, as distinguished from the other three 
groups in the New Testament, namely, the Gospels 
and the Acts ; the Pauline Epistles, including the 
Hebrews ; and the Apocalypse." It is true that the 
so-called Epistle to the Ephesians is really an en- 
cyclical Epistle, and therefore Catholic in the sense 
here used, but it is naturally grouped with the Pau- 
line Epistles. Some reasons might be advanced 
for including Hebrews in this group, but it also is 
naturally associated with the Pauline group, even 
though it may finally be proven that Paul did not 
write it. 



Seven Epistles are embraced in this group, 
namely, one by James, two by Peter, three by 
John, and one by Jude. The Second and Third 
Epistles of John are addressed to individuals, and 
consequently are not Catholic in the sense already 
defined ; but at a very early date they became at- 
tached to the First Epistle, and therefore are placed 
with it in this group. It is a matter of history that 
all of these Epistles were not uniformly accorded a 
place in the Canon in the early days of Christianity. 
The Muratori Canon does not mention James, or 
First and Second Peter. It is well to remember, 
however, the fragmentary character of this Canon. 
Eusebius places First Peter and First John among 
the acknowledged (homologoumena) and the other 
five of this group among the disputed (antilegom- 
ena) writings. He writes, '* Among the disputed 
books, although they are well known and approved 
by many, are reputed those called the Epistles of 
James and Jude, also the Second Epistle of Peter, 
and those called the Second and Third of John." ^ 
The Byzantine, Alexandrian, and Western Churches 
held to and used all seven of these Epistles. The 
Peshito Syriac Version includes only James, First 
Peter, and First John. " But," says Professor War- 
field, '* it is very doubtful whether this was the orig- 
inal canon of that church or not rather the result of 
Antiochene critical revision. Ephraim Syrus of the 
generation earlier than Chrysostom certainly had 
all seven Epistles in an older Syriac translation : 
which seems to show that the Syriac Version before 
Chrysostom contained all seven of these Epistles. 

1 Eusebius H. E. 3 : 25. 


That the seven existed before and were together 
considered an element in the make up of the New- 
Testament, seems to follow from the fact that 
Clemens Alexandrinus commented on them, and 
Origen possessed them all." 

** Subsequently to the time of Eusebius the whole 
seven Epistles were admitted into the Canon, and are 
mentioned in the various ecclesiastical catalogues, 
which were promulgated by the Councils of the 
Church, or given in the works of the celebrated 
Fathers. Thus they are contained in the catalogue 
of Athanasius (330), the Council of Laodicea (363), 
the Apostolical Constitutions (370), Jerome (390), 
Augustine (395), the Third Council of Carthage 
(397)> ai^d the authoritative catalogue of Pope In- 
nocent I. (405)."' 


/. Caiionicity. 

There was some doubt in the early Church in 
regard to the canonical authority of this Epistle. 
Eusebius classifies it among the Disputed (Antile- 
gomena) writings, although he does not seem to 
have participated in these doubts himself. Origen 
(230) is the first writer who explicitly quotes it. In 
the extant writings of Clement of Alexandria (195) 
it is not quoted, yet we know from Cassiodorus and 
Eusebius that this Clement wrote a commentary on 
it. Clement of Rome (96) has numerous apparent 
references or allusions to this Epistle, which it is 
claimed by some are positive traces of it. There is 

^Gloag's Introd. to the Catholic Epistles, p. 15. 


no question of the use of it by the Testaments of 
the Twelve Patriarchs (120). It is also quite widely- 
acknowledged that Hermas (140-150) used this Epis- 
tle. " His use of James and Revelation is beyond 
all doubt : whole sections are sometimes framed on 
their words." Of its position in the Peshito Syriac 
Version, it has been said, " This testimony is of the 
greatest importance, as the country from which the 
Peshito proceeded closely bordered on that from 
which this Epistle originated, and as that testimony 
was also repeated and believed in by the Syriac 
Church of the following age." The voices of Iren- 
seus (175) and of Tertullian (190) may doubtless be 
claimed in behalf of this Epistle, although they do 
not name it. And going back even to apostolic 
times, a close examination of the First Epistle of 
Peter has led many to claim that it is a witness in 
favor of this Epistle, because of its manifest depend- 
ance on it. 

Turning now to the interiial evidence, we may 
feel that it is positively in favor of the canonicity of 
the book. Bleek affirms that '' the authenticity of 
this Epistle is vouched for by its entire character 
and contents." If it was, as some claim, a forgery 
of the second century, the writer would have been 
more careful to define his authority and state his 
office. As it is, the simple designation, "James, a 
servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ," is 
strong evidence in its favor. No forger would have 
been content with that description alone. Among 
the objections that have been brought up against it, 
is its asserted conflict with Paul's doctrine of justifi- 
cation by faith (2 : 14-26). But there is no real con- 

JAMES. 251 

flict here. The writers, James and Paul, are looking- 
at the same matter from two different standpoints. 
A calm investigation of the passage in question is 
sufficient to show that this objection is unfounded. 
Reuss has called attention to the fact that this Epis- 
tle ** contains in itself alone more verbal reminis- 
cences of the discourses of Jesus than all the other 
apostolic writings taken together."^ This fact alone 
proclaims its author to have been an eye-witness of 
the works, as well as a hearer of the words, of the 
Lord. And so far as the personality of the writer 
appears, it is in perfect keeping with the character 
of the man set before us in the history of the Acts as 
the prominent James. 

This Epistle was called a '' strawy Epistle " by 
Martin Luther, and by him rejected. The basis of 
his rejection of It was its apparent conflict with Paul. 
But despite all the objections that have been raised 
against this Epistle, it is by the Church as a whole 
immoveably imbedded in the sacred Canon. Its late 
recognition all over the Church can easily be ex- 
plained by the facts of the Epistle. There was an 
uncertainty in regard to its author ; it was written for 
Jewish Christians, and It was supposed by some to 
be aimed at Paul In a controversial way. All of 
these things operated to retard its progress into the 
general recognition. But at length it did win its 
way, and it obtained Its due, and by the verdict of 
all parts of the Church was accorded a place in the 
Canon. And so far not a single writer has advanced 
a strong enough argument to even shake Its position 
in that Canon. 

2 Reuss' History of the N. T., p. 140. 


II. The Authorship of the Epistle. 

Which James mentioned in the New Testament 
was the author of this Epistle ? This question has 
occasioned no little controversy among scholars, and 
there is by no means any general agreement on this 
matter as yet. The author designates himself as 
"James a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus 
Christ." It is to be noted that the author does not 
in any place claim to be an Apostle. There are but 
three candidates for the honor of having written this 
Epistle. They are James the son of Zebedee and 
James the son of Alphseus, both of whom were 
Apostles, and the James who became so prominent 
in the church at Jerusalem, and is called the Lord's 
brother. Some scholars claim that James the son of 
Alphaeus is the same person as James the Lord's 
brother.* Very few persons have ever thought of 
ascribing this Epistle to James the son of Zebedee, 
who died in 44 A. D. The next question that con- 
fronts us is in regard to the asserted identity of 
the other two Jameses mentioned. 

Against the identification of these two men, it may 
be noted, (i.) that the brethren of Jesus are always 
represented in the New Testament as a different set 
of men from the Apostles (John 2 : 12 ; Matt. 12 : 46 ; 

* This intricate question cannot be examined in all its details in this 
work. The reader is referred for the fuller discussion of this question, 
as well as that of the relation that existed between the Saviour and 
those men who are called " the brethren of our Lord," to such works as 
Andrews', Farrar's, and Lange's Lives of Christ, and Bleek's, Weiss', 
Davidson's {ist Ed.), Gloag's, Michaelis', and Salmon's Introductions, 
Huther on James, Lightfoot on Galatians, Smith's Dictionary of the 
Bible, etc. 

JAMES. 253 

Mark 3 : 21, 31 ; Luke 8 : 19 ; John 7:3; Acts i : 14 ; 
I Cor. 9 : 5). And then we have the statement of 
John that Jesus' brethren did not believe in Him (John 
7 : 5.) (2.) There is no intimation that James the son 
of Alphaeus was the brother of Christ, or that he was 
in any way related to Him. Four women, and not 
only three, are mentioned in John 19:25, unless we 
can believe that two sisters bore the same name, 
Mary, which is highly improbable. (3.) This theory 
necessitates several assumptions ; namely, that the 
word '* brethren " really means cousins ; that Alphseus 
and Clopas are the same name ; that three women 
only are mentioned in John 19 : 25 ; and that Mary, 
the mother of Jesus, had a sister of the same name, 
who was the mother of James the less, or James the 
son of Alphaeus and Joses ; that Acts i : 13 should 
read as in the Authorized Version, ** Judas the 
brother of James," and not as given in the Revised 
Version, '* Judas the son of James." If any of these 
assumptions are overturned, it is fatal to the whole 
theory. Now it is by no means proven that Al- 
phaeus and Clopas are in reality the same name. 
Unquestionably four women and not three only are 
mentioned in John 19 : 25. And there is no real rea- 
son for assuming that the word brethren is not used 
in its natural sense. 

Assuming, then, that these two names belong to 
different men, it is evident that James the son of 
Alphaeus could not have been the author of this 
Epistle. This leaves James, the Lord's brother, the 
James who occupied such a prominent relation to 
the church at Jerusalem, as the only possible author. 
It now remains for us to define the relation of this 


James to our Lord. According to the Helvidian 
theory,^ which is here adopted, James was a younger 
brother of Jesus, and the son of Joseph and Mary. 
This theory maintains that the brethren of our Lord 
were the natural children of Joseph and Mary, and 
younger than Jesus ; and that there were four sons, 
namely, James, Joses (or Joseph), Jude and Simon, to- 
gether with some unnamed daughters (Matt. 13:55, 56). 
These children, wherever referred to, are usually asso- 
ciated with Mary. So far as the Gospel record is 
concerned, Alphaeus is only directly mentioned as 
the father of a James and a Joses. Hegesippus in- 
forms us that Clopas had a son, named Simon. It 
has been objected, assuming that Alphaeus and 
Clopas are the same name, that it would be unlikely 
that there should be so many of the same names 
who were cousins. Hegesippus tells us that the 
Simon he names was the first cousin of James the 
Lord's brother, that Joseph and Clopas were broth- 
ers. But even if it is true that there were three 
brothers named James, Jude, and Simon, the sons of 

5 Five important theories have been held on this subject ; namely, 
(i.) The Helvidian, which supposes that the brethren of Jesus were 
His actual brothers, younger children of Joseph and Mary. (2.) The 
Epiphanian, which supposes that they were half-brothers, the children 
of Joseph and an earlier wife than Mary. (3.) The Hieronymian, 
which supposes that they were cousins, the children of Alphaeus and 
Mary the supposed sister of the Virgin (John 19 : 25). (4.) The Lange- 
ian, which supposes that they were cousins, through Joseph and not 
Mary, being the children of Clopas, whom Hegesippus states was the 
brother of Joseph. (5.) The Theophylactian, which supposes that 
Clopas, brother of Joseph, having died childless, Joseph by a levirate 
marriage raised up children to his brother, which children were thus as 
(legal) sons of Clopas our Lord's cousins, but as (natural) sons of 
Joseph, His brothers. 

JAMES. 255 

Clopas (and granting, for the sake of argument, that 
Clopas and Alphaeus are the same name), there is 
nothing strange or unlikely in the reduplication of 
the same names in the families of brothers. " Others 
regard it as a decisive proof that Mary had no other 
son, that Jesus upon the cross should have com- 
mended her to the care of John (John 19:26,27). 
But, why, if James and Jude were Apostles and His 
cousins, sons of her sister and long inmates of her 
family, and it were a question of kinship, did He not 
commend her to their care } If His brethren were 
at this time, as we may suppose, unbelieving, and 
thus in a most vital point without sympathy with 
her, we can well understand why He should give 
John, the disciple whom He loved, to be her son, 
not so much to supply her mere bodily needs, as to 
comfort and strengthen her in the peculiar trials 
through which she would be immediately called to 
pass." ^ Some hold that James is identified with the 
son of Alphaeus in Gal. i : 19, being there called an 
Apostle. But this hinges entirely on the use of the 
words there translated " except," an inference de- 
nied by others. But that passage does not necessa- 
rily call James an Apostle, even though it may at first 
sight seem to do so.^ 

It is to be further noted that the brethren of our 
Lord are always mentioned in connection with Mary. 
The natural interpretation is that they were her own 
sons, and not her nephews. They lived with her, 

'''Andrews' Life of our Lord, p. 115. 

*The Greek words ei me except the verbal idea of the sentence, 
which may be more fully translated, " But other of the Apostles I did 
not see, yet I saw James, the Lord's brother." 


and always stand in the relation of actual sons to 
her. The real reason for the attempt to prove that 
they were not her own sons is found in the desire to 
preserve the perpetual virginity of Mary, a cardinal 
doctrine in the Romish Church. But, however laud- 
able a purpose that may be from a certain stand- 
point, it ought not to be allowed to overturn the 
positive arguments that may be advanced in favor of 
her having borne children by natural generation. 

Having established the relationship of James to 
our Lord as being that of actual brotherhood, it 
remains to give a sketch of his life. He unquestion- 
ably was the oldest of the brethren of Christ. To 
him the Lord appeared after His resurrection (i Cor. 
15 •/)» vouchsafing to him a special revelation of His 
risen self That that appearance dissolved all of 
James' former doubt is undeniable. From that time 
forth he became a loyal believer in Christ's Mes- 
siahship. This fact accounts for James' appearance 
among the believers in Acts i : 14. When Paul came 
to the Council of Jerusalem in 50 A. D., James had 
become one of the pillars of the Church (Gal. 2 19). 
He, at least as early as 44 A. D., had become promi- 
nent (Acts 12 : 17). His position at the Council of 
Jerusalem (Acts 15 : 12 ff ) was that of special promi- 
nence, he apparently being the presiding officer at 
that conference. And when Paul came to Jerusalem 
at the end of his third missionary journey, it was to 
James that he formally reported (Acts 21 : 18). Al- 
though the tendency of the man was towards an 
ascetic life, he was a married man (i Cor. 9 : 5). 
"His attachment to the law is apparent in the Coun- 
cil of Acts 15, where he speaks for the Jewish con- 

JAMES. 257 

science; and in Acts 21, where he counsels Paul — 
a counsel willingly obeyed — to follow out a pecul- 
iarly Jewish rite ; and even in Gal. 2 : 12, where his 
name can be used by intense Judaizers." Josephus 
tells us that his death occurred just after the death 
of Festus in 62 A. D. It is Eusebius that tells us 
that the Jews, enraged over Paul's appeal to Caesar 
and his being sent in accordance with it to Rome, 
seized upon James during the interregnum between 
the death of Festus and the arrival of his successor, 
and beat him to death with a club. 

Many traditions revolve around the name of James, 
the majority of which are unquestionably apocry- 
phal. It is said that he spent so much time in prayer 
on his knees in the temple that they became as cal- 
lous as a camel's knees. There is no question of the 
high esteem in which he was held by the masses of 
the Jews in the city of Jerusalem, who openly con- 
demned the violence that was done him by some of 
their countrymen at the time of his death. His life 
was that of the strictest integrity and uprightness, 
so that he was well called " The Just." While it is 
probable that his relationship to Jesus may have 
aided in elevating him to the high position he held in 
the Church, yet his own personal qualifications had 
much to do with that elevation. His rigid keeping 
of the requirements of the law secured for him the 
admiration even of unbelieving Jews. '* He did not 
dissever Christianity from Judaism, but regarded 
Christianity as the development and perfection of 

" Had not the influence of James been modified 
and completed by that of a Peter and especially a 



Paul, Christianity perhaps would never have cast ofY 
entirely the envelope of Judaism and risen to indepen- 
dence. Yet the influence of James was necessary. 
He, if any, could gain the ancient chosen nation in a 
body. God placed such a representative of the pur- 
est form of Old Testament piety in the midst of the 
Jews, to make their transition to the faith of the 
Messiah as easy as possible, even at the eleventh 
hour. But when they refused this last messenger of 
peace, the divine forbearance was exhausted, and the 
fearful, long-threatened judgment broke upon them. 
And with this the mission of James was fulfilled. 
He was not to outlive the destruction of Jerusalem 
and the temple."^ 

///. To Whom Addressed. 

The Epistle is addressed ''to thetwelve tribes 
which are scattered abroad," i. e.^ to the^ Dispersion 
(Gk. Diaspora). Some have understood this address 
as meaning Christians in general, taking the term 
in a figurative sense. Others think it is meant to 
include all Jews, whether believers or not. A third 
class would limit it to the Jewish Christians outside 
of Palestine, and this is doubtless the correct view. 
The writer addresses his readers as "brethren;" 
they were persons who had "the faith of our Lord 
Jesus Christ." Dr. Gloag writes, "The readers, who- 
ever they were, were at least Christians. James rests 
his authority upon his being a servant of God and of 
the Lord Jesus Christ (i : i) ; he speaks of his readers 
as having been begotten again by the word of God, 

« Quoted from Dr. Schaff by Gloag, Introd. to Catholic Epistles, 

JAMES. 259 

and as possessing the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Lord of glory (2:1); he mentions those who 
blasphemed that worthy name by which they were 
called (2:7); and he exhorts them to wait in pa- 
tience the advent of Christ (5 : 7). Besides it does 
not appear to have been the custom of the Apostles 
to write Epistles to those who were not Christians ; 
and if they did so, it could only be with the inten- 
tion of converting them to Christianity ; but in this 
Epistle no attempt at conversion is made."" 

It had long been the policy of the various powers 
that had successively ruled over Palestine, to send 
out colonies of Jews in different directions. This 
had caused a great dispersion of them over the then 
known world. On the day of the Pentecostal out- 
pouring of the Holy Spirit, Jews were present in 
Jerusalem from fourteen different nations. How ap- 
propriate it was that the man who stood at the head 
of the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem should address 
an Epistle to these scattered Jews who had become 
believers ! A ll the facts of the Epistle sup port- -this 
idea that it was to believing Tews outside of Pale s- 
tine that it was addressed . 

IV. The Occasion and Object of the Epistle. 

The occasion of the Epistle is to be found in the 
condition of those addressed. They were suffering 
persecutions ; there was more or less of strife and 
covetousness among them ; and they were greatly 
disturbed by the experiences through which they 
were passing. These things led James to write the 

^^Gloag's Introd. to Catholic Epistles, p. 45. 


The object of the Epistle may be gathered from 
its contents. It certainly was not polemical in doc- 
trinal matters ; nor was it political, for it rebukes a 
revolutionary spirit and protests against wars ; nor 
was it ascetic, for it contains " no denunciations of 
the rich on account of their riches, nor commenda- 
tions of the poor on account of their poverty." Its 
design was evidently ethical, for wherein it partakes 
of a polemical character, it is directed, not against 
dogmatic errors, but against ethical perversions. 
"Although there may be a comparative want of 
Christian dogma, there is no want of Christian ethics, 
for there is no writing of the New Testament which 
is more deeply pervaded with the moral teachings of 
Christ." It aims especially at inculcating an active 
and practical Christianity in accordance with the 
royal law of love. " The Epistle is adapted to the 
conditions of its readers. It seeks to comfort them 
amid the trials to which they were exposed, but 
especially to correct the errors of practice into 
which they had fallen, and to admonish them of the 
faults to which they were addicted. James presup- 
poses the great truths and facts of Christianity as 
known, and builds upon them practical Christianity. 
He dwells upon the government of the tongue ; the 
sin of worldliness, the observance of the moral law ; 
he shows the utter worthlessness of a faith which is 
destitute of works and of a love which expends 
itself in benevolent wishes ; and he inculcates the 
principles of that pure and undefiled religion which 
consists in doing good to others, and in keeping our- 
selves pure in this world." " 

" Gloag's Introd. to the Catholic Epistles, p. 55. 

JAMES. 261 

" Tliejiin-ppse/' writes Canon Farrar, '* for which 
it was wr itten was to encourage the Jewish Chris- 
tians to the endurance of trial by stirring them up to 
a brighter energy of a holy living. And in doing 
this he neither urges a slavish obedience nor a terri- 
fied anxiety. If he does not dwell, as assuredly he 
does not, on the specific Christian motives, he does 
not at any rate put in their place a ceremonial right- 
eousness. His ideals are the ideals of truth and wis- 
dom, not of accurate legality. The Law which he 
has in view is not the threatful Law of Moses, which 
gendereth to bondage, but the royal Law, the per- 
fect Law of liberty, the Law as it is set forth in the 
Sermon on the Mount. He is the representative, not 
of Judaism, but of Christian Judaism — that is, of 
Judaism in its transformation and transfiguration." 

V, The Contents of the Epistle. 

**The writer does not seem to have set himself 
down to compose an essay or a letter of which he 
had previously arranged the heads ; but, like one of 
the old prophets, to have poured out what was upper- 
most in his thoughts, or closest to his heart, without 
waiting to connect his matter, or to throw bridges 
across from subject to subject." 

1. Greeting, i : i. 

2. On the endurance of trials. I : 2-18. 

3. On hearing and doing, i : 19-27. 

4. On respect of persons. 2 : 1-13. 

5. On the relation of faith and works. 2 : 14-26. 

6. On the control of the tongue. 3 : 1-18. 

7. On the evils of strife and evil speaking. 4 : 



8. On the service of God and mammon. 4:13-17. 

9. On coveteousness and impatience. 5 : i-ii. 

10. On needless oaths and the power of prayer. 

5 : 12-18. 

11. Abrupt conclusion about the glory of convert- 

ing sinners. 5 • I9> 20. 

VL Date and Place of Composition. 

The author of this Epistle was martyred in the 
year 62 A. D. It is certain that the letter must have 
been written before the great Epistles of Paul that 
touch on the doctrines of faith and justification, for 
the writer would have been more careful not to come 
into even seeming conflict with the teachings of the 
Apostle Paul whose work he indorsed in the strong- 
est way (Gal. 2 : 9, 10). It must also have been writ- 
ten before the Council of Jerusalem in 50 A. D., for 
there is not the slightest reference to the decisions 
of that conference, — decisions very important in 
their relation to all Jewish Christians as announcing 
the verdict of the leaders of the Church in regard to 
the relation of Gentile Christians to the law. If this 
Epistle had been written after that event, it would 
doubtless have made some reference to that Council 
in which its writer played such an important part. 
Persecutions raged with great severity against the 
Christians about 44 A. D., when James the son of 
Zebedee, the Apostle, was martyred (Acts 12 : i, 2). 
Now this Epistle was written while its readers were 
still suffering from persecutions. In accordance with 
these facts, we are doubtless right in dating it about 
45 A. D. It is consequently the earliest book of the 
New Testament in time of composition. It was writ- 
ten at Jerusalem. 


VII. The Peculiarities of the Epistle. 

One of the most marked features of this Epistle 
js its manifest dependence on the Sermon on the 
Mount. It is saturated with the teachings of our 
Lord, as set forth in that sermon. It is true that 
James does not allude to the external facts of the life 
of the Saviour, yet he speaks expressly of Him, and 
his language "offers the most striking coincidences 
with the language of our Lord's discourses." 

Another peculiarity is dwelt upon by Dean How- 
son, who writes, *' There is more imagery drawn 
from mere natural phenomena in the one short 
Epistle of St. James — 'the waves of the sea driven 
with the wind and tossed ' (i : 6), ' the flower of the 
grass* (i : lo), 'the sun risen with a burning heat' 
(i : 1 1), * the fierce winds ' (3 : 4), ' the kindling of the 
fire' (3:5)* 'the beasts, birds, and serpents, and 
things in the sea ' (3 : 7), ' the fig, olive, and vine, the 
salt water and fresh' (3:12), 'the vapor that ap- 
peareth for a little time and then vanisheth away ' 
(4:14), 'the moth-eaten garment' (5:2), 'the rust' 
(5 13), 'the early and latter rain' (5 : 7), 'the earth 
bringing forth her fruit ' (5 : 18) — than in all St. Paul's 
Epistles put together." '^ 


/. Canonicity. 

The first writer who quotes this Epistle by name 

is Irenaeus (175). Following him Tertullian (190) 

and Clement of Alexandria (195) do the same, and 

from that time on the Epistle is referred to by name 

by an increasing number of writers. Turning back 

12 The Character of St. Paul, p. 8, note. 


to the earlier witnesses, we find an undeniable refer- 
ence to it in Second Peter 3 : i. Clement of Rome 
(96) repeatedly quotes its language, and the same is 
true to a certain extent of Polycarp (116) and of the 
Epistle to Diognetus (117). The Testaments of the 
Twelve Patriarchs (120) also doubtless uses it. Pa- 
pias (120-130) and Hermas (130-150) make use of it. 
To these witnesses must also be added the names of 
Melito of Sardis (170), Theophilus of Antioch (168- 
182), and the Letter of the Churches of Lyons and 
Vienne (177). Certain heretical sects also of the 
first half of the second century, the Marcosians, the 
Simonians, and the Basilidians, used it. This exter- 
nal testimony is so strong that Renan says, ''This 
First Epistle of Peter is one of the writings of the 
New Testament which are most anciently and unani- 
mously cited as authentic." 

The mternal evidence of the book points in the 
same way. It was written before the destruction of 
the temple (4 : 17), and it is evident that it was ad- 
dressed to those who were themselves converts to 
the Christian faith, and not the children of converts. 
The writer had seen Christ (5 : i). And a close com- 
parison of the speeches attributed to Peter in the 
Acts with this Epistle shows that the writer of this 
Epistle was the man who spoke those speeches. 
The author of this Epistle had as close acquaint- 
ances Mark and Silvanus, who are evidently the 
same persons as those thus named in the Acts^ 
Furthermore the Epistle makes an explicit claim 
to Petrine authorship. 

All of these facts demonstrate the right of this 
Epistle to a place in the sacred Canon. This was 


the unanimous and unhesitating belief of the early 
Church. The assaults that have been made upon 
this Epistle have been utterly powerless in the face 
of all this positive testimony to shake its position in 
^ the faith of the Church of all ages. As a rule, thef 
attacks that have been made have been based on thqf 
assumption of a real and unreconcilable hostility bef 
tween Peter and Paul. This assumption is absolutely 
without any foundation, for this Epistle proves on 
the contrary that there was a real and substantial 
unity between the two great Apostles. 

//. The Authorship of the Epistle. 

The claim of the Epistle that it was written by 
Peter, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, is supported by the 
evidence that has already been cited, for proof of its 
canonicity is proof as well of its genuineness. By the 
last quarter of the second century it was quoted all 
over the Church as the Epistle of Peter. Weiss says, 
"We perceive that the author was actually one of 
the primitive Apostles from the vividness with which 
the image of Christ's innocent and suffering life is 
before his mind (2 : 21 ff. ; cf I : 19 ; 3 : 18) ; from the 
way in which experience of the revolution wrought 
by the resurrection of Christ and His exaltation in 
those who witnessed them, evidently lies at the foun- 
dation of the utterances in i : 3, 21 (cf also 3 : 19 ; 
4: 13 ; 5:1); from the manner in which he reflects 
on the loss of those who have not seen Jesus and yet 
have loved Him (i :8); from the way in which he 
lives in reminiscences of the words of Christ, while 
his whole doctrine is only a testimony, requiring no 
medium of reflection, to the acts of salvation and 


their effects as witnessed by himself." ^^ There can 
be no question of the fact that the person who wrote 
this Epistle was the same person who spoke the 
speeches attributed to Peter in the Acts. The lan- 
guage, as well as the thoughts of the two proceed 
from the same person. "The author of this Epistle 
had a young friend named Mark ; so had Peter (Acts 
12 : 12). He had a companion named Silvanus (Si- 
las) ; so had Peter (cf. Acts 15 where Silas is a mes- 
senger of the council of which he was a member) ; 
he had a large acquaintance with the writings of 
Paul, with whose teachings he fully agrees, and this 
was true of Peter, not only according to Acts, but 
also according to the distinct statement of Paul him- 
self in a letter admitted to be genuine (Gal. I : 18 ; 
2:2,8, 9). No reasonable doubt can exist as to the 
Apostle Peter's having been the actual author of this 

Peter's real name was Simon (John 21 : 15). He 
was a native Galilean of Bethsaida. His occupation 
was that of a fisherman. He was a married man, 
and lived in Capernaum. In business he and his 
brother Andrew were partners with John and James, 
the sons of Zebedee (Luke 5 : 7). Andrew and John 
were led to Jesus by the testimony of John the Bap- 
tist, whose disciples they had been. Through the 
instrumentality of Andrew, Peter was on the follow- 
ing day led to Christ, who gave to him the name 
Cephas, an Aramaic name of which Peter (Petros) is 
the Greek translation (John 1:42). Peter by reason 
of his personal characteristics became most promi- 
nent among the disciples of Christ. To him, to- 
gether with John and James, the Lord granted 

13 Weiss' Manual of Introd. Vol. II, p. 147. 


special privileges, such as witnessing the raising of 
Jairus' daughter and the transfiguration of Jesus, and 
they also were taken farther into the garden of Geth- 
semane on the night of the betrayal than the others. 
Peter was impulsive and out-spoken, following too 
often without reflection the sudden promptings of his 
nature. To him, however, belongs the honor of hav- 
ing been the first person to confess Jesus as the Mes- 
siah. Thus his ardent nature had its peculiar 
excellences, as well as its serious defects. He failed 
terribly when the test of the night of the Saviour's 
betrayal and trial was applied to him, and denied his 
Master. And also at Antioch he showed a vacilla- 
tion of conduct that was little in keeping with either 
his knowledge, or his experience, or his position 
(Gal. 2 : 11-15). 

During the public ministry of our Lord, after He 
had chosen him as one of His Apostles, Peter was 
rarely absent from His side. His personal traits of 
character made him the natural leader among the 
disciples, and he generally acted as the spokesman 
for them. The darkest page in the life of this man is 
that one on which the story of his denial of Christ is 
written. But if he sinned deeply, he repented sin- 
cerely. After His resurrection, the Saviour honored 
him with a special appearance (Luke 24 : 34 ; i Cor. 
15 : 5). Later the Lord made emphatic his full resto- 
ration to his apostolic office (John 21 : 15-17). In the 
early apostolic history, Peter stands forth as the 
most prominent figure. He was apparently the ac- 
knowledged leader of the Christians, though he pos- 
sessed no more authority than any of the other 
Apostles. He was the one who acted as a leader 


in securing a successor to Judas the betrayer (Acts 
I : 15 fif.). On the day of Pentecost it was his voice 
that heralded the gospel message with such power 
that three thousand souls were led to Christ. Active 
in the service of his risen Lord in Jerusalem, he also 
proclaimed the Gospel in Samaria. He was the man 
chosen of God to open the doors of the Church for 
the entrance of the Gentiles, — his own words being, 
"God made choice among us that the Gentiles by 
my mouth should hear the word of the Gospel and 
believe" (Acts 15:7). When Herod Agrippa saw 
how the death of James the son of Zebedee pleased 
the Jews, he took steps also to put an end to Peter's 
career, but the Apostle was miraculously saved from 
the impending danger (Acts 12). In the council of 
Jerusalem (50 A. D.) Peter played an important part, 
advocating the free entrance of the Gentiles without 
their being required to conform to the Jewish rites 
and ceremonies. After that time, and as Paul became 
more prominent in the church at large, and James 
the brother of our Lord became the recognized head 
of the mother church at Jerusalem, Peter became 
less prominent, and his name is not mentioned again 
in the Acts. 

There are only a few references to Peter in the 
Epistles of Paul. Paul visited him in Jerusalem for 
fifteen days (Gal. i : 18) three years after his conver- 
sion, that is about 40 A. D. At Antioch he and Paul 
came into collision with one another because of the 
vacillating conduct of the former (Gal. 2 : 11). One 
of the factions in the Corinthian church assumed the 
name of the Cephas party, deriving their name from 


Peter, from which some have inferred that Peter had 
visited Corinth at some time. From i Cor. 9 : 5 we 
gather that Peter was accompanied on his jour- 
neys by his wife. When the Apostle wrote his First 
Epistle he was at Ba.byion in the Euphrates valley. 
It is impossible to tell how long he had been there, 
but it seems most likely that he had been there for 
some time, and that the activities of his life after the 
Council of Jerusalem were spent in the East. His 
Second Epistle was probably written at some point 
between__^^abxlon_ajid_E^ The Saviour had 
prophesied that Peter would suffer a martyr's death 
(John 21:18), and tradition assigns Rome as the 
place of his martyrdom. 

Tradition busies itself more with the name of Peter 
than that of any of the other Apostles, but there is 
little dependence to be placed on the bulk of its 
stories. Professor Warfield says, " In the midst of 
all this confusion, we can learn but two facts as to 
Peter from tradition : first, that he suffered martyr- 
dom by crucifixion, and secondly, that the place of 
his death was probably Rome. That he suffered 
martyrdom and by crucifixion is indeed implied in 
John 21 : 19, and is, so far as the fact of martyrdom 
is concerned, adverted to by Clement of Rome. 
Then Dionysius of Corinth declares that he suffered 
about the same time with Paul. So also Tertullian, 
Cyprian, Lactantius, etc. Origen tells us that at his 
own desire he was crucified with his head down- 
wards, which, however, may or may not be true. It 
certainly is impossible to doubt the main fact, how- 
ever, that Peter died by crucifixion." 


Writing of Peter's character, Professor Gloag says : 
** He excelled all the Apostles in zeal, boldness, and 
impetuosity. Naturally sanguine and impulsive, he 
was ever ready to come forward and take the lead. 
Ardent in his attachment to the Lord, it was no vain 
boast, but the expression of deep affection, when he 
declared his willingness to die for Him. But like 
most impulsive men, he was deficient in steadiness, 
and on two occasions he showed a want of moral 
courage. Of all the Apostles Peter appears the 
most human, the most liable to be affected with the 
frailties and infirmities of humanity ; and this human 
element of his character, ennobled as it was by high 
aspiration and aims, renders him attractive and lov- 
able. He had not the calm contemplativeness of 
John, nor the spiritual insight and moral grandeur of 
Paul, and was better fitted for the task of founding 
than that of building up the Church." ^* 

///. The Persons Addressed. 

The Epistle is addressed ** to the strangers through- 
out Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia." 
The Revised Version translates the original more 
correctly and renders it, ** to the elect, who are so- 
journers of the Dispersion." The question that nat- 
urally arises is in regard to the meaning of the term 
"Dispersion" in this place. James in his Epistle 
unquestionably uses it with reference to the Jews. 
Does Peter have the same limitation in mind .^ This 
was the understanding for a long time, and it seems 
at first sight to mean the Jewish Christians in the 
countries named, but a closer study of the Epistles 

i*Gloa§^'s Introd. to Catholic Epistles, p. 124. 


has led most scholars to regard the term as used 
metaphorically here for a ll believers, whether Tews o r 
Gentiles. Despite the fact that Peter was the recog- 
nized Apostle to the circumcision, and that the Old 
Testament is frequently quoted in this Epistle, it 
must be acknowledged that 4 : 3 points to Gentile 
readers. Then we know that the churches of the 
regions named, while containing some Jews, were 
yet predominatingly Gentile in their composition. 
The Epistle is consequently addressed to all believ- 
ers in the special regions named in the salutation. 
Canon Cook writes: "In short, the general tone and 
special injunctions equally justify the conclusion at 
which the majority of modern commentators have 
arrived, that so far from having Israelites exclusively 
before his mind, the large-minded baptizer of Corne- 
lius gave his deepest and most earnest thought to a 
body in which there is neither Jew nor Gentile, in 
which Christ is all in all." '^ 

IV. The Occasion and Object of the Epistle. 

Peter had evidently received some very recent 
information in regard to the condition of the Chris- 
tians to whom he writes. Now it was doubtless to 
Mark that the Apostle owed his information, for that 
evangelist was with him when he wrote this Epistle. 
In Col. 4 : 10 Paul enjoined the Colossians to receive 
Mark, if he came to them. From this we infer that 
Mark had then in prospect a trip to Asia Minor. 
From thence he went on to Babylon to Peter, giving 
him a full account of the Churches he had visited 
while in Asia Minor. This account led Peter to con- 
1^ Bible Commentary, Introd, to i Peter. 


ceive the plan of communicating with those Chris- 
tians, in order that he might give them his advice. 
It is probable that Mark's report led Silvanus (Silas) 
to desire to go to the regions described, and conse- 
quently he became not only the amanuensis of the 
Apostle, but also the bearer of the letter to its des- 

The object of the Epistle is stated in the words, 
" By Silvanus a faithful brother unto you, as I sup- 
pose, I have written briefly, exhorting and testifying 
that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand." 
According to these words, his object was twofold, 
namely, to exhort and to testify. The hortatory 
character of the Epistle is its predominating feature. 
The primary object of the Apostle, then, was to ex- 
hort them to stand fast in the face of the trials and 
temptations to which they were exposed. Along the 
line of the secondary object of the Epistle, that of 
testifying, ** this Epistle is Peter's publication of his 
agreement with the Apostle Paul, and his reply to 
the misrepresentations of the Judaizers, who were 
using his name to undermine the faith of the Chris- 
tians of that region." 

V, The Contents of the Epistle, 

Inasmuch as it partakes of the usual freedom of 
an epistolary communication in its construction, this 
Epistle is not capable of formal divisions. The fol- 
lowing, however, will indicate the general outline of 
its contents: — 

I. Salutation, i : i, 2. 

II. Thanksgiving for the blessings of the plan of 
salvation, i : 3-12. 


III. The Main Portion, consisting of various ex- 
hortations. I : 13-5 19. 

1. To earnest Christian living, founded on the 

hope of glory. I : 13-2 : 10. 
(^.) To a holy walk in the fear of God. 

I : 13-21. 
(^.) To brotherly love, i : 22-25. 
( ^. ) To growth in their lives as the people 

of God. 2 : i-io. 

2. Special directions as to the duties of various 

classes of people. 2:11-4:6. 
(«.) Christians to unbelievers. 2:11, 12. 
(<5.) Christians to civil rulers. 2 : 13-17. 
(^.) Servants to their masters. 2: 18-25. 
(^. ) Wives to their husbands. 3 : 1-6. 
(^.) Husbands to their wives. 3 : 7. 
(/.) Christians to one another. 3 : 8-12. 
(^.) Christians in persecution. 3 : 13-4:6. 

3. Special exhortations. 4:7-5:9. 

(^.) To the practice of Christian graces. 

(^.) To joyful bearing of suffering as Chris^ 

tians. 4 : 12-19. 
(^.) To elders to do their duty. 5 : 1-4. 
(^.) To the young. 5 : 5. 
(^. ) To humility and watchfulness of life. 

5 :6^. 

IV. Concluding Portion. 5 : 10-14. 

1. Benediction. 5 : 10, 11. 

2. The object and bearer of the Epistle. 

5: 12. 

3. The closing salutations. 5 : 13, 14. 



VI. The Date and Place of Composition, 

This Epistle must have been written before the 
destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (4 : 17). 
And its evident dependence on Paul's Epistle to 
the Ephesians forbids our dating it before the time 
of the composition of that Pauline Epistle. The 
date of Peter's death was probably 68 A. D. These 
facts necessitate dating it at some time between 63 
and 6% A. D. Mark and Silas were with the Apostle 
when he wrote, and the letter was sent to its des- 
tination by the hand of Silas. It has been noted 
that Mark was preparing for a visit to Asia Minor, 
that is, early in 63 A. D. (Col. 4: 10). The next ref- 
erence to Mark by Paul is in his Second Epistle to 
Timothy, where he urges Timothy to bring Mark 
with him from Asia Minor, that is, early in 6S A. D. 
Now Mark might have been with Peter during this 
interim. The probable truth is that Mark left Paul 
in Rome early in 63 A. D., and visited Asia Minor in 
accordance with the intimation of Col. 4 : 10. There 
he found the condition of the churches to be quite 
critical, and on joining Peter at Babylon, he in- 
formed him of their condition, at the same time giv- 
ing him copies of some of Paul's Epistles, Ephesians 
and Romans, if not others. Immediately Peter 
wrote this Epistle, sending it by Silas. This latter 
name does not help us at all in determining the 
date, as there is no reference to him after 53 A. D., 
when he was in Corinth with Paul. According to 
these facts, we date this Epistle during the year 64 
A. D. The place of composition has been mentioned. 
This must certainly have been Babylon in the Eu- 


phrates valley. "The church that Is at Babylon, 
elected together with you, saluteth you." The 
words ** church that is" are supplied in the Author- 
ized Version, not being in the original. Now what- 
ever words are to be supplied, whether these or 
others, it is plain that the simplest understanding is 
that it was written from Babylon. But some assert 
that by Babylon the Apostle really means Rome, 
since that name was applied to the eternal city in 
the Revelation. But there is no evidence that at 
the time of the writing of this Epistle that term was 
in common use as applied to Rome. We cannot un- 
derstand why Peter should use a symbolical term in 
the midst of salutations and directions. The tradi- 
tion that Peter was the bishop of the Roman church 
for twenty-five years is rejected by the majority of 
scholars. That he died a martyr at Rome in 68 
A. D., cannot be doubted, but without question he 
could not have been long in that city, as Paul would 
certainly have referred to him in some of his letters 
written from Rome. It has also been objected to 
Babylon as the place of the composition of this Epis- 
tle, that at this time there were few Jews residing 
there, because of persecutions of Caligula in that 
region before 41 A. D., and a plague that raged there 
in 46 A. D. As a matter of fact, however, Babylon 
was the center of the Eastern Dispersion. And it 
is also interesting to note that the places mentioned 
in this Epistle are given in the order in which one 
would come to them in traveling from Babylon to 
Rome. In connection with many writers, we may con- 
fidently assume that Babylon in the Euphrates valley 
was the place of the composition of this Epistle. 


VII. Peculiarities of this Epistle, 

Writers generally have remarked on the manifest 
parallelisms between this Epistle and other Epistles, 
especially Romans and Ephesians. Some have used 
this as the basis of attack upon the Petrine Epistles, 
alleging that they show so much dependence that 
they are really not worthy of an Apostle. In regard 
to this the words of Davidson may be well noted. 
He says : ** The Apostles were imbued with one 
Spirit. The source of their enlightenment was the 
same. Their minds were informed by the same Al- 
mighty power. Hence, amid constitutional diversi- 
ties, they exhibited substantial unity of doctrine, 
aim, and purpose. Their ideas regarding the funda- 
mental verities of Christ's religion were the same, 
because they were animated by the Holy Ghost, who, 
according to the promise of the Son, was to lead 
them into all truth. Certain great ideas were de- 
posited within them by the Holy Ghost, in whose 
evolution they evinced essential unity amid individ- 
ual varieties." ^^ 

And in regard to the relation of the writings of 
Peter to those of Paul, the same writer says : " Paul 
had developed the whole scheme of Christianity with 
a fullness which none of the other Apostles had ex- 
hibited. He had dug a wide channel of phraseology 
for the great ideas of Christianity, which had become 
their prevailing vehicle. He had moulded and 
shaped the distinguishing doctrines by his preaching 
and writing. Was it not natural, then, that Peter, 
composing one short Epistle, should involuntarily fall 

« Davidson's Introd., ist. Ed., Vol. Ill, p. 382. 


into some coincidences of idea and expression ? And 
it was all the more natural that his Epistle should 
present a kind of parallelism to Paul's, since he was 
addressing churches reared by the latter and his 
fellow-laborers, to which he himself stood in no inti- 
mate relation. Propagators of error had endeavored 
to draw them away from attachment to the Pauline 
doctrine, representing it to be contrary to Peter's. 
In giving his sanction therefore to the creed and 
principles of his fellow-apostle, he would more read- 
ily write in language similar at times, as he meant to 
utter similar ideas." " 

/. Canonicity, 

It must be acknowledged at the outset that we do 
not have nearly as strong external testimony to this 
Second Epistle as to the First. With perhaps the 
exception of Philemon and Third John, there is the 
least attestation to it of all the books of the New 
Testament. In consequence of this, it has been very 
much assailed by many writers. Because of this 
fact, the evidence must be examined with great care. 

Instead of taking up first the earliest witnesses, 
we will begin later in the history and trace this sub- 
ject backwards. Origen (230), as all admit, had this 
Epistle, for he not only quotes it by name, but also 
ascribes it to Peter, carefully distinguishing it from 
his First Epistle. His use of this Epistle shows that 
he regarded it as of scriptural authority. It is true 
that he records the fact that doubts had existed as 
"lb., p. 383. 


to its genuineness, but he does not at all seem to 
participate in these doubts himself. Origen's pos- 
session of this book presupposes that Clement of 
Alexandria, his teacher, had it also. Nor are we left 
merely to infer this, for we have it from Eusebius, 
and he is supported by Cassiodorus and Photius, 
that this Clement wrote a commentary on it. Such 
a fact as this is sufficient to place its date at least as 
early as the middle of the second century. The 
extensive knowledge of Clement, who professes to 
have traveled over the Christian world and to have 
known the opinions of Christians of every part of 
the Church, adds great weight in favor of the ca- 
nonical authority of this Epistle. 

Taking another step backward in the history, we 
find traces in Irenseus of i : 15 and 2 : 4-7. The as- 
sertion that there are evident traces of these pas- 
sages in Irenseus is based upon the fact that he 
makes the same peculiar use of the expressions in 
them. Theophilus of Antioch (168-182) very prob- 
ably quotes two passages from this Epistle ; while 
Melito of Sardis (170) likewise shows his depend- 
ence on it in one of his Syriac works. 

Going back still further, we next meet with very 
probable references in Hermas (140-150) to it. And 
in regard to Justin Martyr (145), it may be said with 
certainty that he had it, for he speaks of certain false 
teachers, of whom the Lord had forewarned His fol- 
lowers ; and in no place but Second Peter 2 : i can 
this forewarning be found. This makes it evident 
that Justin regarded this Epistle as authority on the 
Lord's teachings. Judging from the usage of rare 
words, we may also be confident that the Testaments 


of the Twelve Patriarchs (120) is dependent on this 
book. Barnabas (106) makes verbal use of this Epis- 
tle as an authoritative source. And we may find 
traces in Clement of Rome (96) which raise a pre- 
sumption in favor of his recognition of this letter. 

Gathering all of these together, it seems as though 
we could certainly affirm that before the time of 
Clement of Alexandria, it was in the possession of 
Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and Barnabas. It is also to 
be remembered that this Epistle finally acquired 
authority throughout the whole Church. Not one 
particle of evidence can be produced that shows 
that it was ever refused a place in the Canon of the 
Byzantine, Alexandrian, or Western Church. In the 
Syrian Church alone does it seem to have been 
denied a place in the Canon ; but even in that case 
it is possible to show that it was rejected on internal 
grounds, and then only in the fourth century. Pro- 
fessor Warfield writes : " It cannot be denied, there- 
fore, that it was a part of the Church Canon of the 
early third century ; and the evidence goes further 
and proves that it was naturally in the Canon at this 
time — that the men of the early third century did 
not put it in, but found it in the Canon. It was, 
therefore, in the Canon of the later years of the 
second century. . . . But it was commented on by 
Clement of Alexandria, and has a place in both the 
Egyptian versions, and in the early form of the 
Peshito (Syriac), all of which date from the second 
century. . . . Known all over the Church at this 
period and securely fixed in the Canon, we find it 
quoted here and there, back to the very earliest 
Christian writers ; nay, Justin Martyr, before 147 


A. D., quotes it in such a way as to prove that he 
esteemed it authoritative. . . . Surely the presump- 
tion of its canonicity amounts to a moral certainty,"^' 
The examination of the internal evidence to the 
authenticity of this Epistle is inseparable from the 
consideration of its authorship. The Epistle claims 
to be by " Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of 
Jesus Christ." If this claim is true, it follows, as a 
matter of course, that it is an authoritative book of 
Scripture. And as we examine the book, we find 
that there are reminiscences of scenes that we know 
Peter witnessed. Thus Peter was one of the eye- 
witnesses of the transfiguration of Christ, and the 
writer of this Epistle refers to that event in such a 
graphic way that it can leave no doubt in our minds 
but that he personally witnessed that marvelous 
scene. Undoubtedly, also, the prediction of Christ 
about Peter's death, recorded in John 21 : 18, is the 
reference of i : 14. Furthermore, there is even 
greater similarity between Second Peter and the 
speeches of Peter in Acts, than between First Peter 
and the same. Besides this there are resemblances 
between this Epistle and the First that are so marked 
as to prove similarity of authorship. The relation 
of the writer of these Epistles to Paul is the same in 
both cases. Thus in First Peter Paul is quoted, and 
in Second Peter his letters are endorsed by name. 
Then the two Epistles are dependent ; First Peter 
on Romans and Ephesians, and Second Peter on 

18 For a masterly defense of the Canonicity and Genuineness of this 
Epistle, see Professor Warfield's articles in the Southern Presbyterian 
Review of January, 1882, and April, 1883. 


Jude. There are also many words that are common 
to the two Epistles. 

In the assaults that have been made on this 
Second Epistle, a prominent one is based on the as- 
serted linguistic differences between it and the First 
Epistle. But we may dismiss this objection with a 
concession from Reuss, who says: "We lay no stress 
on the linguistic differences between the two Epistles 
which modern criticism has emphasized too much. 
The two Epistles are too short, have to do with 
wholly different circumstances, and there are no 
direct contradictions to be found. Only when spuri- 
ousness has been proved on other grounds may this 
point be taken into account." The Epistle has also 
been assailed because of its evident dependence on 
Jude, an Epistle which, it is claimed by the objectors, 
is not genuine. But we dissent from this verdict 
against Jude, claiming, as the evidence will show, 
that it is a genuine Epistle, and if so, there is no 
ground for attack on Second Peter if it is dependent 
on Jude. 

The relation of this Epistle to the Gospel accord- 
ing to Mark is very interesting. " All antiquity tells 
us that Mark wrote down what Peter orally taught 
of the Lord's life and teaching. In First Peter 5 : 13, 
we find Mark on intimate terms with Peter. Now in 
Second Peter 1:15, the author promises his readers 
that he will see to it that they shall be in a position 
after his death to have his teaching always in re- 
membrance, and in this he has especial reference to 
the facts of Christ's life, witnessed to by him, as is 
proved by the purpose which he expresses for so ar- 


ranging, namely, that they may know that they have 
not followed cunningly devised fables, but facts au- 
toptically witnessed. Surely this seems to promise a 
gospel. And we have this series : First Peter testifies 
to Mark's intimacy with Peter ; Second Peter prom- 
ises a Petrine Gospel ; antiquity tells us that Mark 
was but Peter's mouthpiece. Who could have in- 
vented that middle term, and so delicately inserted 
it into Second Peter } Second Peter thus appears a 
link in a natural chain which is complete with it, and 
incomplete without it. All three of these sources from 
which the links are drawn are therefore genuine." ^^ 

Taking all these things into consideration we may 
feel confident that this is a genuine Epistle of Peter, 
having a right to a place in the sacred Canon. The 
fact that the book itself won its way into the Canon, 
and finally became a fixed part of it, is worthy of 
special note. It is true that individuals still are 
doubtful about its canonical authority ; but taking 
the evidence as it stands, it does not seem to many 
scholars, and to the Church at large, that there is 
any real reason for their rejection of it. 

//. To Whom Written. 

This Epistle is addressed " to them that have ob- 
tained like precious faith with us." This address is 
very general indeed. It is, however, narrowed some- 
what by the words of 3 : i, which assume that it is 
addressed to the same readers as the First Epistle 
was. The writer says, " This second epistle, be- 
loved, I now write unto you." From this narrower 
designation, it is evident that the Epistle was meant 

^^ Warfield in Southern Pres. Rev.^ January, 1882, p. 68. 


primarily for the same circle of believers addressed 
in the First Epistle, that is, £ ar the Christians of Asi a 
Minor . The "we" of i : i6 does not necessarily- 
mean that Peter had personally made known the 
truth to those to whom he writes. *' The body to 
which Peter belonged, that of the Apostles and 
evangelists, is meant here by ' we,' some of whom, 
and therefore the body itself, had preached in Asia 
Minor." The Revised Version very correctly reads 
in 3 : 2, **the commandment of the Lord and Saviour 
through your apostles," instead of the rendering of 
the Authorized Version, which reads, ** of us the 

///. The Occasion and Object of this Epistle, 

The occasion of the writing of this Epistle waS 
undoubtedly the information that Peter had received 
of some new outbreak of heresy among the Chris- 
tians to whom he had written his First Epistle. The 
heretics had become more active in the dissemina- 
tion of their poisonous teachings. "We gather that 
they were denying even Christ that bought them, 
that is. His divinity (2 : i), as well as the promise of 
His second coming (2 : i ff.). In their practice they 
slandered God's mode of righteousness (2 : 2), and 
they denied the majesty of Christ (2 : 10). They 
threw disgrace on their profession of Christian lib- 
erty (2 : 19), and lived a degraded life (2 : 13). They 
also seduced the unstable with their own mode of 
life (2 : 14-18), and naturally enough were ripe for 
destruction (2 : 12, 19, 20)." 

The Apostle's design is given in 3 : 1-3, and 3 : 
17, 18. It was twofold ; namely, first, to warn them 


against the false teachers, and, second, to exhort 
his readers to be progressive in holiness, to "grow 
in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and 
Saviour Jesus Christ." The practical outcome of 
the doctrinal teachings of the heretics was mani- 
fest in vicious and sinful living. It was to coun- 
teract this effect that the Apostle writes as he does. 
The whole Epistle is practically a plea for holiness 
of life. 

IV, Outline of the Epistle. 

1. Apostolic address and greeting. 1:1,2. 

2. Earnest exhortation to growth in grace and 
Christian knowledge, i : 3-1 1. 

3. Reminder of the ground on which their knowl- 
edge rests. I : 12-21. 

4. Warning against, and denunciation of, the false 
teachers. 2 : 1-22. 

5. Reminder of the character and surety of the 
teachings that had been given them as to the second 
advent and the end of the world. 3 : 1-13. 

6. Concluding exhortation to make their calling 
and election sure, including a recommendation of 
Paul's Epistles, closing with a doxology. 3 : 14-18. 

V. Date and Place of Composition. 

This Epistle must have been written before the 
Apostle's death in 6% A. D. Its dependence on Jude 
necessitates its being dated after the time of com- 
position of that Epistle, that is, after 64 A. D. It is 
certain, however, that it was not written long before 
the death of the Apostle, for it is apparent that he 
was anticipating that event before long (i : 14). On 


the other hand it could not have been written very- 
soon after the First Epistle, judging- from a com- 
parison between the two. Accordingly we must 
place it as late as possible in the life of Peter, and 
date it early in^^62^A. D. 

There is no possibility of certainly ascertaining 
the place of its composition. The First Epistle was 
written at Babylon, and this one was probably 
written at some point between^Babylo p r^r^d T?r>m^ 
There are those who hold that it was written in 
Rome, but it is probable that Peter came there as 
a prisoner, and there is no evidence of his being a 
prisoner when he wrote this Epistle. 

VI . Peculiarities of this Epistle, 

There are some real distinctive features about 
this Epistle as compared with the First. In the First 
the keynote was 'Hope': in this it is 'Knowledge.' 
Comparing them. Dr. Gloag writes : " The Epistles 
were written with different purposes, the First being 
chiefly hortatory, and the Second polemical. The 
First was written with a design to comfort believers 
under the persecutions to which they were exposed ; 
and the Second to warn them against the errors of 
false teachers. Hence in the First Epistle, the au- 
thor dwelt upon the example of the sufferings of 
Christ to encourage believers in trial ; whereas there 
was not the same necessity in the Second Epistle. 
And hence, also, hope was the keynote of the First 
Epistle, because its purpose was to sustain believers 
in suffering ; and knowledge was the keynote of the 
Second Epistle, because its purpose was to establish 
them in the faith. But in both Epistles the sanguine 


and hopeful spirit of the Apostle is apparent ; in the 
Second, as well as in the First, the author leads for- 
ward the thoughts of his readers to the entrance that 
shall be ministered to them abundantly into the ever- 
lasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ 
(2 Pet. I : 11) ; in the Second, as well as in the First, 
Peter is the Apostle of Hope." '''' 


/. Canonicity. 

The external testimony in favor of this Epistle is 
strong as could be desired. There are apparent evi- 
dences of its influence in Clement of Rome (96) and 
Ignatius (115). Its use by Polycarp (116) is unques- 
tionable, and we have the testimony of Eusebius that 
Papias (120) also used it. The writers of the Teach- 
ing of the Twelve Apostles (115) and the Testa- 
ments of the Twelve Patriarchs (120) show their 
acquaintance with it. It is found in all the early 
Versions, as well as in all catalogues and manu- 
scripts. The Muratori Canon (170) speaks of it in 
connection with the Gospel according to John. 
And it is to be noted that the use of it by Polycarp 
and Papias, both of whom were disciples of John, 
affords the most positive testimony to its canonical 
authority. And to these two names must be added 
that of Irenseus, the pupil of Polycarp, who uses it 
repeatedly, ascribing it to the Apostle John. The 
concurrent testimony of these three men is sufficient 
to establish its canonicity, for they form a direct 
chain of connection with the Apostle to whom by all 
^'Gloag's Introd. to the Catholic Epistles, p. 217. 


antiquity this Epistle is ascribed. Lucke says : " In- 
controvertibly, our Epistle must be numbered among 
the canonical books which are most strongly upheld 
by ecclesiastical tradition." And to this the words of 
DeWette may be added, who says : "The doubts 
which have been raised in recent times against the 
genuineness of this Epistle rest on weak grounds." 

Turning to the internal evidence, we find that its 
voice is none the less clear and strong in the same 
line. Its author must have been an eye-witness of 
the life of Christ, for otherwise he could not have 
written as he did (i : 1-4 ; 4 : 14). He had touched 
the Lord (1:1); had been a constant hearer of Jesus* 
teaching (1:3); and had seen His manifested glory 
(i : 1-4; 4: 14, 16). Indeed its whole tone is apos- 
tolic, for none outside of the apostolate could have 
used the authoritative language that is contained in 
this Epistle. Bleek affirms that " the Epistle does 
not in the remotest degree give the impression of 
being the work of one falsely endeavoring to make 
believe that he was an eye-witness." 

The manifestly close relation existing between 
this Epistle and the Gospel according to John makes 
them inseparable. We may then claim that all that 
has already been advanced in regard to the canon- 
ical authority of the latter goes to support the 
former. The two books stand or fall together. 
Combining all this evidence as it comes to us from 
all quarters of the early Church, as well as from 
the book itself, we may feel that its canonical au- 
thority is absolutely established. 

288" THE CAinuLic Eri^JL-Jiii. 

II. The Authorship of this Epistle. 

The name of the author does not appear in any 
part of the Epistle, but in the Church there has 
never been any question but that it was written by 
the Apostle John. The use of this Epistle by Poly- 
carp and Papias, who were disciples of John, as well 
as by Irenaeus, who was a disciple of Polycarp, has 
already been noted. These names inseparably con- 
nect this Epistle with John. Nor do we find any- 
thing of moment that is against this verdict until 
we reach the days of modern destructive criticism. 
Bleek writes : ''From the first, whenever we find this 
Epistle used and expressly cited, we find also the 
belief that it claimed to be, and really was, a work 
of St. John the Evangelist ; and we may conclude 
that this was the universal belief Seeing that the 
writer never names himself, we cannot explain this 
unanimity and universality save on the ground that 
it was true, and that it originated with the very first 
readers who received the epistle from the writer, and 
who must have known him, and not from the mere 
conjecture or invention of later readers. A com- 
parison of this epistle with St. John's Gospel can 
leave no doubt on the mind that both are by the 
same writer ; the similarity between them is so strik- 
ing and so thorough, in character, in thought and 
language, in distinctive representations and turns of 
expression, as to be utterly incomprehensible save 
on the supposition of identity of authorship." ^^ Dr. 
Warfield sums up the argument for identity of au- 
thorship as follows : " (a.) The language and the 
style of the two are the same ; (b.) the circle of 
«i Pleek's Introd. to the N, T., Vol II, p. i86, 


theological ideas is the same ; (c.) the personality- 
lying back of the writing is the same in both books ; 
(d.) there are numerous passages which are truly 
parallels between the two writings, the phenomena 
of which lead to the belief of identity of author- 

And furthermore, it may be noted, that the sub- 
stance of this Epistle is in absolute keeping with the 
character of John, as we are acquainted with it from 
other sources. No one outside of the inner circle of 
the disciples of Christ could have written this mar- 
velous Epistle ; and of the disciples, not one of them 
but John, the beloved disciple, could have framed 
these sentences. There can be no reasonable doubt 
but that the man who wrote the Fourth Gospel, also 
wrote this Epistle, and wrote it at the same time he 
wrote his Gospel. 

///. To Whom Written. 

This question necessarily involves that of its 
relation to the Fourth Gospel. If we can ascertain 
the destination of that Gospel, we have the answer 
to this question, for the two books were manifestly- 
composed at the same time. But while there are 
most unmistakable points of resemblance between 
these two books, there are also differences occasioned 
by the purposes in view in their respective writings. 
"There are characteristic differences to be noted 
between the Gospel and Epistle. Perhaps it may 
even be said that the predominant burden of the 
two is slightly different ; that of the Gospel being 
'Jesus is the Christ,' that of the Epistle, 'Christ 
is Jesus ; ' the one as a historis^n taking up the man 


Jesus and proving His divine glory by His life and 
words ; the other as a practical application to the 
needs of the time, showing that the divine Saviour 
really became flesh. The Gospel is written from the 
point of view of the historian ; the Epistle from that 
of the preacher against Jiig^ejtro^^ The 

Epistle is written in the words of the Gospel — 
the Lord's teaching has become the teaching of 
the beloved disciple ; but the Lord's words have be- 
come in the transfer aphoristic, sharply defined, and 
adapted to present needs. In the Gospel, John 
lives in the past ; in the Epistle, he brings the past 
to bear on the present and lives in the present. 
The differences thus amount only to the natural 
differences between the historian and the preacher : 
the recorder of facts of teaching and the applier of 
the teaching to present needs." ^^ 

The resemblances also are striking and numerous, 
so much so that they necessitate a close relation in 
time and purpose. The Gospel must have been writ- 
ten first, for it forms the background for the Epistle. 
The first four verses of the Epistle presuppose the 
recording of the facts there referred to. But where is 
that record to be found, if not in the Fourth Gospel } 
I 14; 2 :I2-I4 point definitely to just such a record 
as we have in the Gospel. Indeed, as has been well 
said, " These passages, taken in connection with the 
unepistolary character of the letter — which can only 
be explained by the supposition that it was written 
and sent under such circumstances as would render 
the naming of the author on the one hand unneces- 
sary, and personal salutations to individuals on the 

3'Warfield's Lectures to his students, 

FIRS 7' JOHN. 291 

other hand impossible < — seem to raise a valid pre- 
sumption that the letter was a companion document 
to the Gospel, sent with it to apply, more practically 
than was possible in its own pages, the truths there 
brought out, to the lives of its readers." 

From this it is manifest that this Epistle was writ- 
ten for the benefit of the same persons as the Gospel, 
that the Apostle had them in mind as he wrote. 
The Fourth Gospel was written for Qiristiaji§_jn 
S'eneral, although the needs of the Christians in and 
around Asia Minor were kept especially in mind by 
the author. 

IV. The Occasion a7td Object of the Epistle. 

If what has been advanced as to the relation of 
this Epistle to the Fourth Gospel is correct, its occa- 
sion is to be found in the desire of the author 
to apply the history he gives in his Gospel to those 
for whom it was written. There can be no question- 
ing of the polemical import of this Epistle, although 
that was not the only, nor even the main, purpose of 
the writer. The occasion of this Epistle, then, is to 
be found in the desire of the Apostle to personally 
apply the facts of that Gospel history. 
*^ Ih'e Apostle plainly tells us the purpose he had in 
writing. " These things write we unto you, that 
your joy may be full," and '' these things have I writ- 
ten unto you that believe on the name of the Son of 
God ; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, 
and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of 
God." Alongside of these words, we may place the 
expressed purpose in the composition of the Gospel 


by the same writer. ** These things are written, that 
ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of 
God ; and that believing ye might have life through 
his name" (20 : 21). Surely these words indissolubly 
bind the two together. 

During the lull that followed the Neronian perse- 
cutions there had been a great development of her- 
etical ideas among the churches of Asia Minor. 
Gnostic and Ebionitic heresies had become very 
prevalent, in which the true humanity, as well as the 
true divinity, of Jesus had been denied. Cerinthus, 
with whom tradition brings John in contact, was the 
most prominent leader among the heretics. The ob- 
ject of the Epistle, consequently, **was practical, to 
warn against and stop the progress of heresy ; to 
bring the facts of the Gospel against it. It is in this 
spirit he meets the false tendencies rife about him : 
with the desire to save souls rather than to intellect- 
ually confute error. And therefore, he meets error 
by assertions pointing back to the facts of the Gos- 
pel rather than by argument." 

The primary object of the Epistle was the edifica- 
tion of believers, confirming them in their faith in 
Christ as the Son of God, the propitiation for the 
sins of the world. The polemical element has been 
noted. Of this Dr. Gloag writes : " But the polem- 
ical element forms only a small portion of this EjDistle. 
John did not write merely to confute gainsayers or 
to attack the heresies which were then prevalent. 
He aimed at practical godliness. He wished to es- 
tablish believers in the truth and in the practice of 
the truth. All his exhortations are with a view to 
this. He has an intense hatred of sin and an intense 


love of holiness. What he has chiefly in view is the 
promotion of fellowship with the Father and the Son, 
and, by means of this, fellowship among believers. 
He especially exhorts believers to entire severance 
from the world. The world is the kingdom of Satan ; 
it is the enemy of God ; it lieth in wickedness. 
Herein consists the great contrast between the king- 
dom of light and the kingdom of darkness. All that 
is in the world, — its lusts, its allurements, its re- 
wards, — are not of the Father. And certainly, at the 
period when John wrote his Epistle, the world was 
in a state of extreme degradation, and no warnings 
against it could be sufficiently emphatic, and no de- 
nunciations of it sufficiently strong." ^^ 

F. Outline of the Epistle. 

This is quite difficult to give, and many different 
outlines have been suggested by different writers. 

I. Introduction, i : 1-4. 

1. Purpose of the Gospel, i : 1-3. 

2. Purpose of this Epistle, i : 4. 

II. Main body of the Epistle, in which is made 
the practical application of the Gospel to its read- 
ers. 1:5-5: 12. 

1. Statement of the sinful condition of man. 

I :5-io. 

2. The provided remedy in Christ. 2 : i-ii. 

3. Effects of union with Christ. 2 : 12-17. 

4. The divine power of Christ. 2 : 18-29. 

5. The love of God for us. 3:1,2. 

6. Our relation to that love. 3 : 3-7. 

7. Statement of false ideas as to sin and right- 

eousness. 3 : 8-12. 
2'Gloag's Introd. to Johannine Writings, p. 229. 


8. Exhortations to brotherly love. 3 : 13-5 :4. 
(^.) This a fruit and proof of love. 3 : 13-24. 
(^.) Test of true and false teachers, and a ■ 

warning. 4 : 1-6. 
(^.) Argument for brotherly love founded on 
^ God's love for His children. 4 : 7-5 : 4. 

III. Conclusion. 5 : 13-21. 

1. Fuller statement of the object of the letter. 


2. Solemn and positive affirmations. 5 '- 18-20. 

3. Final exhortation against idolatry. 5:21. 

VI. Date and Place of Composition. 

This book must have been written in a time of 
external peace, and long after any special opposition 
from without. It was also written to advanced 
Christians, that is, to those who had long been 
Christians. Nor was it written until the heresies 
that Paul had dealt with had assumed more devel- 
oped forms, while the controversies of Paul's day in 
regard to the doctrine of justification by faith had 
died out. These facts necessitate as late a date as 
possible, but one before the outburst of persecu- 
tion under Domitian. It must have been written 
before 94 A. D., and doubtless we are not far out 
of the way in dating it about 90 A. p. 

As to the place of composition, it may be said, 
that we have no absolute data, but nothing is in 
conflict with the idea of its having been composed 
at Ephesus, where, as we have already seen, John 
unquestionably resided for many years, exercising 
a pastoral watch care over the churches of. that re- 
gion, many of which had been organized by the 
Apostle Paul. 

*9. The witnesses to these truths, .^ : 5-1 a 


VII. Peculiarities of the Epistle. 

There is in this Epistle the usual simplicity of the 
Apostle's style, and comparatively few words are 
used in it. ** The language is Greek, but the form of 
expression is Hebrew. There is a picturesqueness 
of style, a Hebrew rhythm, like that of the Old Testa- 
ment prophets, which shows that the writer, although 
writing in comparatively pure Greek, was a Hebrew 
poet and a profound student of the Old Testament. 
But, along with this simplicity of language, there is 
a profundity of thought. Few of the writings of the 
New Testament require more patient study to dis- 
cover the full import of the thoughts which the 
words convey, or to fathom the doctrines which 
are there asserted in apparently simple aphoristic 
terms." ^* 

The key-word of the Epistle is Love. But while 
the undercurrent of the Epistle is directed by love, 
this feature does not prevent the Apostle from using 
the sternest language in his denunciations of all that 
is not in keeping with love. While John is here the 
stern preacher of righteousness, he is also the tender 
and loving disciple, who hopes by his words to win 
the followers of Christ, whom he addresses, to the 
full acceptance of His divinity. Well may the Chris- 
tian dwell in thought on the utterances of the Apos- 
tle in this inimitable Epistle, until, by closer union 
with the Saviour it reveals, he imbibes more and 
more of the love so prominent in it. What a thrill 
of rapture passes through us as we read the ecstatic 
burst of 3 : I, 2 ! Who is there that can saturate his 
mind with the words of the third and fourth chap- 
2*Gloag's Johannine Writings, p. 232. 


ters, without growing more and more into the like- 
ness of the Saviour whose love they depict ? Who 
is there, who, realizing the sinful tendencies of his 
nature, is not emboldened to turn away from his sin 
to God, when he has the assurance that we have an 
Advocate with the Father, even Christ Jesus the 
righteous ? What consolation to know that the 
vilest sinner may be cleansed in the blood of Jesus 
Christ, God's own Son ? Applying the facts of the 
Gospel history as contained in the Fourth Gospel to 
our hearts and lives, will they not lead us to '* walk 
even as he walked " ? 


These two Epistles are so closely associated to- 
gether that it seems best and most convenient to 
treat them together. 

/. Canonicity. 

On account of the character and brevity of these 
Epistles, it would be unreasonable to expect many 
quotations from them in the early Christian litera- 
ture. The first distinct reference to them is found in 
the Muratori Canon (170), where mention is made of 
"two Epistles bearing the name of John." In speak- 
ing of the Gospel according to John, the writer of 
this Muratori Canon seems to associate with it the 
First Epistle. The theory has already been ad- 
vanced that the First Epistle was a companion piece 
to the Fourth Gospel,^^ having been issued with it 
as a practical application of the facts written in that 
Gospel to those to whom it was addressed. Does not 
25 See on First John, 


the Muratori Canon support this idea by the way 
in which it appears to link them together ? For this 
reason, it is held, that the two Epistles mentioned 
together must be the Second and Third Epistles as 
we have them. Irenaeus (i/S) and Clement of Alex- 
andria (195) explicitly quote the Second Epistle 
by name, but Origen (230) is the first person in 
whose extant writings the Third Epistle is quoted 
by name. We know that Clement of Alexandria 
wrote a commentary on all the Catholic Epistles, 
and consequently he must have included this one. 
The second century Versions — the Old Latin, the 
Egyptian and the Syriac (in the original form that 
is earlier than the Peshito) — include this Epistle. 
Eusebius, it is true, classes these Epistles among the 
disputed books, but it is evident that he unhesita- 
tingly accepts them himself as being of Apostolic 
origin and authority. ** The whole fourth century 
Church accepts them, as is witnessed to by the vari- 
ous lists of that century and its great writers as well 
as all fourth century MSS., and Versions." 

Turning to the Epistles themselves, we find that 
the internal evidence is not without weight on this 
matter. No conceivable object can be suggested for 
their forgery, for they contain nothing distinctive 
in doctrine or otherwise. Bleek writes : ** Both Epis- 
tles present such an affinity with First John in ideas, 
exposition, and language, both generally and in par- 
ticulars, as to lead us to attribute them to the same 
writer ; for this affinity cannot be explained as an 
imitation. The little that is peculiar to these Epis- 
tles as distinct from the First Epistle and the Gospel, 
is not of a character to warrant the supposition that 


they have come from a different hand, and Is far out- 
weighed by the points of resemblance." Of the 
Second Epistle no less than seven or eight of its 
thirteen verses are to be found in the First Epistle. 
And in regard to the Third, it can be said that the 
writer not only describes himself in the same way as 
in the Second, and writes generally in the same 
language and style, but also that the same phrases 
appear in both Epistles. 

The fact of the matter is that these two Epistles 
must stand or fall together. Against them no cogent 
arguments can be advanced. The most that can be 
said is that the references to them do not appear un- 
til late ; but this is easily accounted for on the basis 
of their brevity and character, as well as by the fact 
that there were individual doubts in the Church as 
to their authorship. In the third century the Church 
in all quarters, with the possible exception of the 
Syrian Church, and that only after a critical revision 
of their Canon, accepted these Epistles as of apostolic 
origin and authority. Only absolute proof to the 
contrary, which is certainly lacking, can avail to set 
aside this well-nigh universal acceptance of these 

//. The Authorship of these Epistles, 

In neither of these Epistles does the author name 
himself He simply calls himself ''the elder." But 
all antiquity affirms that they were written by a man 
named John. The Muratori Canon ascribes them to 
the Apostle of that name ; and so also do Irenaeus 
and Clement of Alexandria. Origen is the first who 
mentions doubt as to their authorship. Eusebius 


affirms the existence of a '' presbyter John," a con- 
temporary of the Apostle John, basing this idea on 
an inference he draws from some words of Papias. 
But scholars are by no means agreed that Eusebius' 
inference is correct. And the existence of this pres- 
byter John, as a person distinct from the Apostle 
John, is very doubtful. No reference is made to such 
a person before the time of Eusebius, unless his in- 
terpretation of the words of Papias is correct. 

On the other hand, the words already quoted 
from Bleek show that there is a very close relation 
between these letters and the First Epistle, which 
all acknowledge was written by John, the author of 
the Fourth Gospel. First John is anonymous like 
these Epistles. And the whole tone of these is as 
Johannean as the First Epistle. It is to be noted 
that the author in both of these Epistles calls him- 
self " the elder," and by that title he may mean "the 
aged," referring to the fact that the writer belonged 
to the last generation, and not to the fact that he 
claimed to be par excellence ** the elder." It is evi- 
dent, then, that the internal evidence, as well as 
the external testimony, wherever we have any such 
testimony, is strongly in favor of the Johannean au- 
thorship of these two Epistles. 

///. To Whojn Addressed. 

The Second Epistle is addressed " unto the elect 
lady and her children." There have been two general 
explanations of this address. Some have understood 
the term "elect lady" as meaning either a particular 
church, or else the Church universal. If the lat- 
ter idea is correct, then, this is truly a catholic Epis- 


tie. On the other hand, there are a great many 
scholars who think that the words of the address are 
to be taken literally, and that the letter is conse- 
quently addressed to a certain Christian lady and 
her children. Against the former idea, it may be 
urged that it introduces a metaphorical usage into 
a plain prose letter. In addition to this, it may be 
affirmed that it is impossible to find warrant for the 
use of the word ''kuria" (translated *Mady") as 
meaning " church." Very probably the word " kuria" 
should be understood as a proper name. In that 
case the letter is addressed " unto the elect Kyria." 
This is in harmony with the character and contents 
of the Epistle itself. 

Of this matron Kyria, we know nothing except 
what may be gathered from the letter itself. She 
was a Christian, and probably did not reside very far 
from Ephesus, She had a family of grown children, 
some of whom, at least, were Christians. Her exem- 
plary character had endeared her to the Apostle. It 
is evident that John was contemplating a visit to her 
home, when he would speak more at length to her on 
the matters referred to in this Epistle. 

The Third Epistle is addressed to " the well be- 
loved Gaius." We find three men of this name men- 
tioned in the New Testament, namely, a Macedonian 
(Acts 19 : 29), a Corinthian (i Cor. i : 14 ; Rom. 16 : 
23), and another who lived in Derbe (Acts 20:4). 
We have no means of ascertaining whether the one 
addressed in this Epistle is one of these three or not. 
All that can be said is that this Gaius was a person 
who, because of his genuine Christian character, re- 
ceived the highest commendation from the Apostle. 


Two other men are also named in the Epistle, Deme- 
trius and Diotrephes. Of these two men, we gather 
from the Epistle that Demetrius was a true and ear- 
nest Christian ; while Diotrephes, who seems to have 
been an officer in their church, was a bold, unscru- 
pulous, and ambitious man, whose conduct brings 
upon him the severe censure of the Apostle. It is 
probable that the persons who bore the First Epistle 
to the church, of which they were all members, had 
been rejected by Diotrephes. He may have been a 
prominent representative of the heresy that John 
condemns in his First Epistle. In that case it was 
natural for him to reject the Epistle sent by the 
Apostle, as well as the messengers who carried it. 

IV. The Occasion and Objects of the Epistles. 

The Second Epistle was occasioned by the infor- 
mation received in regard to some of the children of 
Kyria. "John has learned that amid the declensions 
of Christian life and the frequent fallings away from 
the truth which had occurred since the rise of Gnostic 
teaching in Asia, some of the children of this be- 
loved matron are involved and likely to be led away 
into destruction." This is the occasion of the Epistle. 
[And its object wasJo3arnKyria an d her famil y of 
the daliger to which they were exposed, as well as 
to entreat them to be steadfast and watchful.] It at the 
same time enjoins them to have nothing to do with 
the disseminators of heresy, not even to receive them 
into their home, or to bid them '* Godspeed." 

The Third Epistle was brought out by the fact 
that Diotrephes had been using his authority in the 
cliurch to resist the truth and protect heresy. Gaius, 


on the other hand, had received John's messengers, 
whom Diotrephes had rejected, and had kindly 
treated them. The Apostle, therefore, writes to 
commend Gaius for the stand he had taken in this 
matter, and to approve him and his work and 
strengthen him in his position. The Apostle at 
the same time commends Demetrius and condemns 

V. Contents of the Epistles, 

The following is an outline of the contents of the 
Second Epistle : — 

1. Address and Greeting. 1-3. 

2. Expressions of joy in regard to the children 
who were standing firm. 4. 

3. Exhortation to love and obedience. 5, 6. 

4. Warning against dangerous anti - Christian 
teachers. 7-9. 

5. Warning against extending hospitality to such 
persons. 10, 11. 

6. Promise to visit them. 12. 

7. Greetings from Kyria's sister's children. 13. 
The following is an outline of the contents of the 

Third Epistle : — 

1. The Address, i. 

2. Personal good wishes. 2-4. 

3. Gaius commended for his Christian hospital- 
ity. 5-8. 

4. Diotrephes condemned. 9, 10. 

5. Demetrius commended. 11,12. 

6. Will not write any more at present. 13. 

7. Promise to visit Gaius, and closing saluta- 
tion. 14. 

JUDE, 303 

VI. Date and Place of Composition. 

Both of these Epistles were unquestionably writ- 
ten at KpV|f^sn.q., As there are no time marks in these 
Epistles, it is impossible to affirm just when they 
were written. It is, however, well-nigh certain that 
they were composed after the First Epistle. We 
cannot be far out of the way when we date them 
about 91 A. p . 

/. Canonicity. 

" Although the Epistle of Jude is one of the so- 
called Disputed Epistles, and its canonicity was 
questioned in the earliest ages of the Church, there 
never was any doubt of its genuineness among those 
by whom it was known. It was too unimportant to 
be a forgery, few portions of the Holy Scripture 
could, with reverence be it spoken, have been more 
easily spared ; and the question was never whether 
it was the work of an impostor, but whether its 
author was of sufficient weight to warrant its admis- 
sion into the Canon." 

But turning to the external evidence, we find that 
this letter is remarkably well authenticated, when 
we consider its brevity and the nature of its contents. 
The allusions to it in Barnabas (106), Polycarp (116), 
and Hermas (140-150) are rather uncertain ; but it is 
plainly mentioned in the Muratori Canon (170). 
Clement of Alexandria (195) quotes it by name, 
and Tertullian (190), Origen (230), and Cyprian 
(248) do the same. Eusebius, while classing it 
among the Disputed Books, tells us that it was 


well known by many, and that it was publicly 
used in most of the churches. It is in the Old 
Latin Version, but not in the Peshito Syriac, al- 
though we know from other sources that Ephrem 
Syrus used it. By the early fourth century it was 
almost universally recognized. 

In regard to the internal evidence in this matter, 
it must be acknowledged that it is not so strong. 
De Wette writes : ** No important objection to the 
genuineness of this Epistle can be made good ; 
neither the use of the apochryphal Book of Enoch, 
nor the resemblance of verses 24 and 25 to Romans 
16:25, nor a style of writing which betrays a cer- 
tain familiarity with the Greek tongue. The Epis- 
tle is the less open to suspicion, as the author does 
not distinctly claim to be an Apostle, nor can a 
pretext for forgery be discovered." 

The real basis of attack upon this Epistle has 
been the uncertainty about its authorship, and its 
asserted use of the apochryphal Book of Enoch and 
the Assumption of Moses, as well as its relation to 
Second Peter. There are, indeed, those who deny 
that Jude quotes this Book of Enoch, but even grant- 
ing that he does, how does that fact affect its authen- 
ticity } Paul undoubtedly secured the names of Jan- 
nes and Jambres, the magicians who withstood Moses, 
from some Jewish tradition. Why cannot Judc use 
the curious legend about the contest between Michael 
and Satan over the body of Moses obtained from 
some rabbinical sources as well } The Old Testa- 
ment writers frequently used extra-canonical sources 
of information. Why cannot the New Testament 
writers do the same ? 

7UDE. 305 

The fact that this book won its way into the 
Canon of the New Testament at an early day de- 
spite the attacks that had been made upon it, is 
greatly in its favor. The use of it in Second Peter 
cannot be denied, it being used in that Epistle in 
something like the same way that First Peter uses 
Ephesians and Romans. We may conclude, then, 
that the fact that it has stood all the attacks that 
have been made upon it in ancient and modern times, 
affords presumptive evidence in favor of its canon- 
ical authority. 

//. The Author of this Epistle. 

It claims to be by " Tuj[eiJthe__servant of Jesus 
Christ, and brother of James." Now, although there 
are no less than six Judes mentioned in the New 
Testament, of whom do we here think but of the 
man who was a brother of the James, who was so 
prominent in the Jerusalem church, the author of the 
Catholic Epistle bearing the name of James. It is 
certain that the author of this Epistle was not an 
Apostle, although the phrase *' servant of Jesus 
Christ "does not forbid that, for the author seems 
expressly to exclude himself from the number of the 
Apostles, when he says, ** Remember the words which 
were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus 
Christ." Among the Apostles there was a Jude or 
Judas (not Iscariot), but he unquestionably was the 
son and not the brother of one James. We cannot 
but adopt the plainest interpretation of the writer's 
description of himself, and conclude with many lead- 
ing authorities, that this Jude was none other than 
the brother of that James who was so prominent in 



the Church that the mere mention of his name was 
sufficient. He was Jude the brother of the James 
who was the brother of our Lord. 

Of this Jude we know nothing directly. Like 
James, he did not believe in our Lord until after His 
resurrection. The traditions concerning him are 
conflicting- and uncertain. Western tradition affirms 
that he labored among the Persians. Syrian tradi- 
tion says that he went to Assyria and died a martyr 
in Phoenicia. It is evident that he was content to 
do the work of his Saviour-brother in an unostenta- 
tious way, and he probably sealed his faith by a 
martyr's death. 

///. To Whom Addressed. 

It is addressed to '* them that are sanctified by 
God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and 
called." These words prove it to be truly a Catho- 
lic Epistle. It is addressed to Ch ristians ggner^j, 
although a clo¥e"'^xammati6'rr*or the contents will 
show that the author had in mind especially those 
who were acquainted with Jewish history. It is prob- 
able that Jude had in mind particularly the Jewish 
Christians of Palestine. ''Although the Epistle is in 
form catholic, addressed to the Christian Church in 
general without any restriction as to locality, yet 
from the nature of its contents it is evident that it 
must have been directed to Christians belonging to 
some particular church, or residing in some particular 
district. "^^ 

^^Gloag's Catholic Epistles, p. 364. 

7UDE, 307 

IV. The Occasion a^td Object of the Epistle. 

The occasion of the writing of this Epistle was 
the growth of heretical opinions and the spread of 
immoral conduct, together with the desire of the 
writer to do something to check the progress of that 
which was threatening the purity of the Church. 
The design is clearly stated by the author. " Be- 
loved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of 
the common salvation, it was needful for me to write 
unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly 
contend for the faith which was once delivered unto 
the saints. For there are certain men crept in una- 
wares, who were before of old ordained to this con- 
demnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our 
God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord 
God, and our Lord Jesus Christ" (3, 4). From these 
words it is apparent that Jude's design was not only 
to instruct and confirm, but also to urge them to 
stand up for their historic faith against all who tried 
to corrupt it. 

The description of these ungodly persons is 
painted in the darkest colors. Although professing 
to be Christians, they were excessively immoral. 
They were in the Church it is true, but they had 
"crept in unawares." And as they denied Christ it 
is manifest that they were heretics, but worse still, 
and as a result of their heresies, they were utterly 
and grossly immoral. Theoretically they were he- 
retical ; practically they were guilty of the most un- 
blushing immorality. Their false doctrines and loose 
conduct went hand in hand. It was for this reason 
that Jude wrote to confirm and strengthen and in- 


struct the faithful, as well as to denounce these un- 
godly persons. 

" The main body of the Epistle is well character- 
ized by Alford as an impassioned invective, in the 
impetuous whirlwind of which the writer is hurried 
along, collecting example after example of Divine 
vengeance on the ungodly ; heaping epithet upon 
epithet, and piling image upon image, and as it were 
laboring for words and images strong enough to de- 
pict the polluted character of the licentious apostates 
against whom he is warning the Church ; returning 
again and again to the subject, as though all lan- 
guage was insufficient to give an adequate idea of 
their profligacy, and to express his burning hatred 
of their perversion of the doctrines of the Gospel." 

V. The Contents of the Epistle. 

1. Salutation, i, 2. 

2. Reason for writing. 3, 4. 

3. Historical argument, proving that the ungodly 
will certainly be punished. 5-7. 

4. Application of this with the contrast of godly 
conduct. 8-10. 

5. Denunciation and description of these evil- 
workers. 11-13. 

6. Proof from prophetic utterances that the un- 
godly will be punished, and the application thereof. 

7. Earnest exhortation to the faithful in regard to 
themselves and their attitude toward the ungodly. 

8. Benediction and doxology. 24, 25. 

JUDE, 309 

VL Date and Place of Composition. 

This- Epistle must have been written before the dc 
struction of Jerusalem. " If that event had occurred, 
we do not see how Jude, as a strict Jewish Chris- 
tian, could possibly have omitted that awful calamity 
which made such a powerful impression on all Jews 
in his examples of the destructions which befell the 
ungodly ; to Jude it must have appeared the most 
striking of all the instances of divine wrath, and the 
most appropriate for his purpose." The Epistle 
must also have been written before Second Peter, if 
we are correct in claiming that the latter is depend- 
ent on the former. The Epistle could not have 
been written at an early date, for sufficient time 
must be allowed for the development of heresy of 
belief and error of conduct. Taking all these things 
into consideration, it is probably correct to date it 
about 64-^66^. D. 

As to the place of composition, there is not 
much to be said. It is most probable that it was 
composed in Palestine. It may have been written in 
Jerusalem before the commencement of the Jewish 
war that ended in the destruction of the city and 

VII. CoJtclusion. 

It is interesting to note the inseparable connec- 
tion between correct beliefs and right living, as set 
forth in this Epistle. It is a mistaken idea that the 
Church of the early days was perfectly pure, for then 
as now, the greatest obstacles to the progress of the 


Church were within and not without. And in these 
days there is no little need for just such an appeal as 
this is to all Christians to protect historical Chris- 
tianity against all the attacks of her enemies, whether 
they be in the Church or out of it. We have need 
to " earnestly contend for the faith which was once 
delivered unto the saints." 


The Revelation. 

The title of this book might better have been 
"The Apocalypjs" by an adoption, rather than 
"The Revelation " by a translation, of the original 
Greek title. The word thus rendered in general sig- 
nifies " a disclosure by God of truths that are them- 
selves secret and unknown." The reference of the 
title is to future events. The word "Apocalypse" 
designates a peculiar type of prophecy, which ex- 
presses itself not so much in predictive as in symbol- 
ical utterances by which the course of future events 
was made known. " Apocalyptic writings are dis- 
tinguished from those which are simply prophetical 
by their predictions referring to the last days, and 
by their preponderant use of symbols and visions." 

/. Canonicity. 

There are traces of the use of this book in Barna- 
bas (io6), Ignatius (115), the Teaching of the Twelve 
Apostles (115), and the Testaments of the Twelve 
Patriarchs (120). Papias (120), according to the tes- 
timony of Andreas and Arethas, Bishops of Cappa- 
docian Csesarea in the fifth and sixth centuries, 
definitely refers to this book, regarding it as an in- 
spired writing. Hermas (140-150) has remarkable 
coincidences with it, and Justin Martyr (145) men- 
tions it by name as proceeding from the Apostle 


John. Eusebius refers to a treatise by Melito of 
Sardis (170) upon this book, and also informs us that 
Apollonius (170) used it. It is enumerated in the 
Muratori Canon (i/o), and was cited by Theophilus 
of Antioch (170). There are also some undeniable 
quotations from it in the Epistle of the Churches of 
Lyons and Vienne (177). Irenaeus (175), Tertullian 
(190), and Clement of Alexandria (195) quote it by 
name, ascribing it to John. In the third century, 
Hippolytus (220) and Origen (230) use it as authori- 
tative Scripture. The first writer who directly assails 
it is Dionysius (250). " Nor did doubt, when it had 
thus once entered the Church, spread rapidly. The 
third century closes without giving us the name of 
another doubter, and although Eusebius himself 
wavers, and tells us that opinion in his day was much 
divided, and soon afterwards the Syrian Church re- 
jected jt, — not without affecting the judgment of 
individual writers in Jerusalem, Asia Minor, and 
Constantinople, — yet Eusebius believed it to be in- 
spired and canonical, the doubts were purely of an 
internal kind, the Church at large was never affected 
by them, and the storm even in the East, was soon 
weathered." ^ 

Marcion, as might be expected from his heretical 
ideas, rejected this book, together with the other Jo- 
hannean writings. The Alogi also, on account of doc- 
trinal considerations, refused to recognize it as a part 
of Scripture. It was likewise omitted from the Peshito 
Syriac Version. The difficulties connected with the 
interpretation of the book unquestionably had no 
little to do with the doubts that arose in the minds 
of individuals in regard to its canonical authority. 
* Warfield in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia, 


But most of all that was urged against it were the 
apparent divergences between it and the other writ- 
ings of John in doctrinal conception, spirit, style, 
and language. In Reformation times it was rejected 
by Luther, Erasmus, and Zwingle. And also in the 
present century, many have raised objections to it 
on one account and another. 

It is to be noted, however, that the objections that 
have been urged against it have all been founded on 
internal considerations, and not on any lack of exter- 
nal testimony to its early use and recognition. The 
early acceptance of the book unqualifiedly attests 
its recognized canonical authority. And it was not 
until the third century that the slightest doubt arose 
in regard to it, and even then these doubts were con- 
fined within very narrow limits. 

The internal evidence supports this external testi- 
mony. In four places the author calls himself John 
(i : I, 4, 9 ; 23 : 8). He claims to have been an eye- 
witness of the Saviour's earthly career, and he also 
uses the language of apostolic authority. It is evi- 
dent, then, from the book itself that its author 
was aprominent and important personage, one who 
sustained a close and authoritative relation to the 
churches of Western Asia Minor. *' He is acquainted 
with their history, their necessities, their spiritual 
condition, their trials." 

//. TJie AutJiorship of the Book, 

This is so closely related to the subject of its 
canonicity that the treatment of these two subjects 
is well-nigh inseparable. The opinion of the early 
Church was positively in support of the Johannean 
(Apostle) authorship of the book. It has already 


been noted that it claims to be byaj^ohn. Justin 
Martyr directly affifins that this John was the Apos- 
tle John. In regard to this man's testimony, Weiss 
writes: "Justin's direct statement that it was writ- 
ten by John, one of the Apostles of Christ, is the 
more significant since his home was in Palestine, and 
he had learned in his wanderings to know the Alex- 
andrian and Roman Churches as also that of Asia 
Minor in which the book had its origin, equally well, 
and therefore represented the tradition of the whole 
Church of the second century."^ 

To whom would we most naturally ascribe the 
book but to the Apostle John, — that John whose 
pre-eminence was so great as to make him the one of 
whom people would instantly think on the mere 
mention of the name John ? But it is objected that 
this idea is negatived by the dissimilarities between 
it and the other Johannean writings, — dissimilarities 
in doctrine, spirit, style, and language. In answer to 
this objection, Gloag writes: "Although we admit 
these dissimilarities and differences, yet we do not 
think that they are of so strong or decided a charac- 
ter as to necessitate us affirming a diversity of au- 
thorship. The difference in doctrine is slight, and is 
fairly accounted for by the apocalyptic nature of the 
Revelation. The difference in spirit is more mani- 
fest, but is also accounted for by considering the 
subject-matter of the writings. The differences in 
language and style are still greater, but are lessened 
by considering the different circumstances under 
which these works were written, and the necessary 
influence of his Old Testament models on the author 
of the Apocalypse, and are to a considerable extent 
^Weiss' Introd., Vol. II, p. 51, ....*.-'-'---•- •' 


counter-balanced by undoubted and peculiar similari- 
ties." ^ Some have thought to preserve the identity 
of authorship of these books by claiming that the 
Apocalypse was written before the destruction of 
the Temple, and therefore about thirty years before 
the time of the composition of the Fourth Gospel. 
By thus separating them in time, they hope to ac- 
count in a satisfactory way for their diversities. 
And indeed if there were not other and stronger 
reasons for dating this later than the Fourth Gospel, 
there would be no little reason in this line for the 
early date assigned. 

Others again ascribe the book to the Presbyter 
John mentioned by Papias, holding that he was a 
different person from John the Apostle. But there 
are good reasons for doubting whether Papias did 
really mention two different men of the name John. 
Prof. Charteris writes : ** Apart from questions of 
canonicity there is as great division of opinion as to 
authorship. The scraps of Papias have been as fruit- 
ful of works upon the two Johns as in works upon 
the original of Matthew'6 Gospel, or upon the 'order' 
of Mark. Dionysius, though in a very diffident man- 
ner, took refuge in the supposition that Presbyter 
John was the author. But against this Irenaeus is 
decided. Moreover, if Irenaeus and Arethas be 
right, Papias, as a 'hearer of John,' is an ultimate 
authority, and Papias' testimony seems to be dis- 
tinct ; so that the authorship by the son of Zebedee 
is established."* Irenaeus, who frequently cites this 
book, ascribing it to the Apostle John, was the disci- 
ple of Polycarp, who in his turn was the pupil of the 

3 Gloag's Johannine Writings, p. 311 
* Charteris' Canonicity, p . 358. 


Apostle. It is impossible to deny the force and 
clearness of Irenaeus* testimony in this matter, and 
it ought to decide the whole question. 

By a very few writers the book has been ascribed 
to Cerinthus, the great heretical opponent of John. 
This Cerinthus was the exponent of a view of the 
millennium that was utterly sensuous in its concep- 
tion. The reference of this book (chapter 20) to the 
millennium was made the basis of this idea. But this 
theory met with but little acceptance, and it cannot 
be entertained for a moment in the face of the claims 
of the book itself as to its authorship, as well as of 
the direct testimony of the early Church to its Jo- 
hannean authorship. 

It is to be noted that many German writers of 
this century, who reject the Johannean authorship 
of the Fourth Gospel, acknowledge that in this book 
we have a genuine product of the pen of the Apostle 
John. If then we are to believe the testimony of 
the early Church, we must accept its verdict that 
John the Apostle wrote the Apocalypse. Internal 
considerations alone have ever been the cause of 
wavering in this opinion. Dr. Ezra Abbot writes 
that the author is "the acknowledged channel of the 
most direct and important communication that was 
ever made to the seven churches of Asia Minor, of 
which John the Apostle was at that time spiritual 
governor and teacher. The writer was a fellow- 
servant of angels and a brother of prophets — titles 
which are far more suitable to one of the chief Apos- 
tles, and far more likely to have been assigned to 
him, than to any other man of less distinction. All 
these marks are found united together in the Apostle 


John, and in him alone of all historical persons. We 
must go out of the region of fact into the region of 
conjecture to find such another person. A candid 
reader of the Revelation, if previously acquainted 
with St. John's other writings and life, must inevi- 
tably conclude that the writer intended to be identi- 
fied with St. John." " 

Summing up the evidence," we must conclude that 
John the Apostle was the only possible author of this 
book, and consequently it is of apostolic origin and 
canonical authority.'^ 

///. To Whom Addressed, 

This is very clear from i:ii, where we read, 
"What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto 
the seven chu r rh a g which a r e i n Asi a ; unto Ephesus, 
and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto 
Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, 
and unto Laodicea." These cities were all situated 
in what was known as Proconsular Asia. It is prob- 
able that these Seven Churches were selected as 
representatives, for we know of the existence of 
churches at Colossae, Hierapolis, Miletus, and Troas, 
and there were probably many others in the same 

^ Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. 

* The following early writers declare it to be by John the Apostle; 
namely, Justin Martyr, the author of the Muratori Canon, Melito of 
Sardis, Theophilus of Antioch, Irenseus, Tertullian, Clement of Alex- 
andria, Origen, Hippolytus, Victorinus, Methodius, Ephrem Syrus, 
Epiphanius, Basil, Hilary, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Didymus, 
Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome. 

' The most elaborate defense of the Johannean authorship of this 
book is to be found in Dr. Lee's Introd, to his Commentary on the 
Revelation in the Bible Commentary. See also Dr. Warfield's Article 
on the Unity of the Book in the Presbyterian Review of April, 1S84. 


general locality. The number seven recurs repeat- 
edly in this book, and this number of churches may 
have been selected to preserve the symmetry of the 

Of these Churches, the first named is Ephesus, 
which was the capital of Proconsular Asia. This 
was a magnificent city, famed for the grandeur of its 
buildings, and also because it contained one of the 
seven wonders of the world, the temple of Diana. 
To-day it is "a miserable village called Ayasalook." 
Smyrna remains to this day an important and flour- 
ishing city. Pergamos, now known as Bergamah, 
and a city of some size, was in John's day a place of 
renown on account of its school and extensive library, 
as well as its magnificent temple dedicated to yEscu- 
lapius. Thyatira still continues to exist with a con- 
siderable population under the name of Akhissar. 
Sardis, once famed as the proud city that was the 
royal residence of Croesus, has nothing left of its 
former grandeur, and is a little village known as 
Sart. Philadelphia also remains to this day, having 
lost its former name, and is now called Allasher. 
Laodicea, the last named, was destroyed by an earth- 
quake in Nero's day, and arose afterwards with new 
and greater splendor from its ruins, but only to sink 
again into utter ruin. To-day nothing remains of 
it to mark its former site but dreary desolation and 

" From the Epistles addressed to these Seven 
Churches we learn something of their condition 
when the Apocalypse was written. There is a sym- 
metry in these Epistles ; the Churches are first 
blamed for what evil is in them, then commended 
for their good points, and a promise is given to those 


who continue faithful. There is a considerable dif- 
ference among them : the Churches of Smyrna and 
Philadelphia are entirely commended — no faults are 
attributed to them ; whereas the Church of Laodicea 
is wholly blamed — no words of praise are bestowed 
upon it. The other four Churches of Ephesus, Sar- 
dis, Pergamum, and Thyatira, are partly commended 
and partly blamed. These Churches had evidently 
existed for some time ; they had gone through a 
stage of experience. Several of them had degener- 
ated ; they had left their first love and their early 
zeal had cooled. The Churches were persecuted ; 
some of them were tried and had tribulation ; and in 
the Church of Pergamum, where Satan's seat is, in 
allusion perhaps to the worship of ^sculapius, 
whose emblem was the serpent, mention is made of 
Antipas, who had suffered martyrdom (Rev. 2:13). 
Heresies had arisen in these Churches ; certain forms 
of Gnosticism had made their appearance. In most 
of the Epistles, reference is made to internal corrup- 
tions ; in the Epistles to Ephesus and Pergamum, 
special mention is made of the Nicolaitanes ; in the 
Epistle to Pergamum, of those who held the doctrine 
of Balaam ; and in the Epistle to Thyatira, of the 
woman Jezebel, who called herself a prophetess and 
who seduced the servants of Christ."^ 

IV. The Occasion and Object of the Book. 

The occasion of this book was the explicit direc- 
tion^^f tlie risen Lord to John to write it. The 
condition of these Churches demanded a direct 
communication, and there was need for unveiling the 
future for the instruction of the Church at large. 

8 Gloag's Johannine Writings, p. 315. 

320 THE revelation; 

The book is described and its purpose unfolded in its 
opening words: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, 
which God gave unto him to show unto his servants 
the things which must shortly come to pass." From 
these words, it is evident that the direct messages to 
the Churches named were of minor importance, and 
that the main purpose was to make known the final 
victory of the Church. This ultimate triumph of the 
kingdom of Christ over His enemies is the prominent 
feature of the book. " The great moral design is to 
comfort and support Christians under the trials and 
persecutions to which they were exposed, by assur- 
ing them that these trials were of short duration, 
and that their enemies would at length be conquered 
and destroyed." 

F. The Contents of the Book, 

Of all the outlines of the contents of the book 
that have been suggested by different writers, that 
of Professor Warfield is the best. 
Prologue. I : i-8. 
I.' The Seven Churches, i : 9-3 : 22. 
2. The Seven Seals. 4 : 1-8 : i. 
3.1 The Seven Trumpets. 8 : 2-1 1 : 19. 
4.1 The Seven Mystic Figures. 12 : 1-14 : 20. 
5.1 The Seven Vials. 15:1-16:21. 
j 6.|Th6 Sevenfold Judgment. 17 : 1-19 : 10. 
I 7. [The Sevenfold Triumph. 19 : 11-22:5. 
Epilogue. 22:6-21. 
** The sevenfold subdivision of each section is easy 
to trace in all cases except in 4, 6, and 7, where it is 
more difficult to find and is more doubtful."' 

' WarfieWs Article in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia, 


VI. The Date and Place of Composition, 

There are in general but two opinions on the 
question of the date of this book. By some it is as- 
signed to a date before the destruction of Jerusalem 
in the reign of Galba or Vespasian ; by others it is 
dated about 96 A. D., in the reign of Domitian. The 
majority of critics to-day assign it to the former 
date, and hold that it was composed just after the 
death of Nero in 6'^ A. D. By these critics it is held 
that the internal evidence of the book is that it was 
composed before the destruction of the Temple at 
Jerusalem (11:1,2,8; 20 : 9). Then again it is con- 
tended that there is a designation of the time of its 
composition in the account of the seven heads of the 
beast, which are held to represent seven Roman em- 
perors. ** The seven heads are seven mountains, on 
which the woman sitteth. And there are seven 
kings : five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not 
yet come ; and when he cometh, he must continue a 
short space. And the beast that was, and is not, 
even he is the eighth, and is one of the seven" (17 : 
9-1 1). The five that are fallen are said to be Augus- 
tus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. The 
one in power was Galba; "and the seventh, who is 
yet to come, is Otho, his successor, as Galba's reign 
was expected to be of short duration on account of 
his extreme age." It was generally supposed that 
Nero was not actually dead, but that he was in 
hiding somewhere in the East, and would sometime 
reappear and regain his throne. This coincides with 
the description of the eighth king, " the beast who 
was and is not, and is of the seven." According to 


this theory this book was written during the reign 
of the sixth emperor, that is, Galba. But it is a 
mere assumption that this interpretation of this pas- 
sage is the correct one. It certainly presumes that 
John coincided with the belief that Nero was not 
really dead and would appear again. But this belief 
was a mere legend, that has no actual historical war- 
rant. The term *' kings "may not refer to persons 
but to kingdoms, as it does in the book of Daniel 
(Dan. 7 : 17, 23), a book that undoubtedly had its in- 
fluence on John. 

Reference has already been made to the fact that 
some writers have selected this early date in order 
to give sufficient time between its composition and 
that of the Fourth Gospel for the author to change 
his style of writing. It is claimed that John wrote 
this book before he had acquired a very correct 
knowledge of the Greek language, and that his resi- 
dence had been in Palestine and not among a 
Greek-speaking people. In the Apocalypse, which 
is intensely Hebraistic, the writer seems to violate 
some plain rules of Greek construction ; while the 
Fourth Gospel is written in the purest, most simple 
and accurate Greek. Consequently, it has been held, 
that the Apocalypse marks the close of the activity 
among his own people ; while the Fourth Gospel 
was written after many years' residence among the 
Greek-speaking people of Asia Minor. But this 
theory is without any historical support, and is only 
devised to account for the acknowledged differences 
that exist between these two books. But these lin- 
guistic differences can be accounted for on other 
grounds, such as the different features of the two 


books, as well as the different states of the mind of 
the author at the time of their composition. If for 
other reasons we must assign the date of the book 
to the reign of Domitian, instead of that of Galba, 
this argument for the early date of the book falls to 
the ground. 

But there is an absolute lack of historical con- 
firmation for this early date. Irenaeus affirms that 
the visions recorded in the book were seen at the 
end of the reign of Domitian. Now the well-known 
relation of Irenaeus to John through Polycarp, his 
own teacher and John's pupil, makes this testimony 
strong enough to settle the whole matter in favor of 
this late date. The writer was in exile on '' Patmos 
for thr w(>rd '^f God, Rnd for th<" test^'"^^"y nf J^-<^iig 
Christ." Eusebius, Victorinus, and Jerome plainly 
affirm that it was Domitian who banished John to the 
Isle of Patmos, and that the Apostle returned from 
thence to Ephesus on the death of this tyrant. And 
not one of the early writers connects Nero with John's 
exile. It is confirmatory of the idea that Domitian 
was the emperor who did this, to know that it was 
his custom to banish people for various offenses 
against his will. 

In regard to the internal evidence on this subject, 
it may be noted that the references to the Churches 
addressed presuppose conditions in them incompat- 
ible with an early date. Ephesus had backslidden, 
having left her first love ; Sardis had a profession of 
life, but was to all practical purposes dead ; and 
Laodicea was in a lukewarm condition. Then the 
heresies mentioned had not attained to such develop- 
ment in early days as is evident from what is said of 

324 THE revelation; 

them in this book. The externally prosperous con- 
dition of Laodicea is commented on, but in 62 A. D., 
it was completely destroyed by an earthquake, and 
it was not until many years later that it attained to 
the condition described in Rev. 3 : 17. The persecu- 
tions to which the Christians addressed were exposed, 
harmonize more with the wide-spread and systematic 
onslaughts on the Church by Domitian, than the 
persecutions inflicted here and there, especially at 
Rome, by Nero. Furthermore it is manifest that 
the author had an intimate acquaintance with these 
Asia Minor Churches. Now it is absolutely certain 
that John did not come to Ephesus during the life- 
time of Paul. Indeed the late date alone will satis- 
factorily account for the evidence furnished by the 
book that the author had for a long time been ac- 
quainted with the condition and needs of these Seven 

I am therefore led to believe that the internal 
evidence supports the external testimony that [this 
book was written at the close of the reign of Domi- 
tian, that is, about 96 A. D. The visions were re- 
vealed to the Aposfle on the Isle of Patmos, and it 
is most probable that they were immediately com- 
mitted to writing by John before he returned to 
Ephesus, and while he was still on the Isle of Patmos. 

VIL The Interpretation of this Book. 

There is no book of the New Testament that has 
given commentators greater trouble, or upon whose 
interpretation there is greater diversity of opinion, 
than this one. There are in general four different 
systems of interpretation : (i.) The JlistQrical theory, 


which holds thatth£_bookJs a j)ro^ 
of tTie"~ChrIsFian Church from its beginning to its 
final con'summatiorr"^'*T275' The Praeterlst theory, 
which maintains that the predictive utterances of 
the book have already been fulfilled ; that its princi- 
pal reference is to the^bjumph__o f the Christia iLxelig- 
ion over Judaism "a rfd Paganism... (3.) The Futurist 
theory, which holds that with the exception oi the 
first three chapters, the book refers in the main to 
events which are as yet future. (4.) The Spiritual 
theory, according to which **the Apocalypse is not a 
professed detailed history of the future, but only a 
conspectus of the great epochs and of the governing 
principles in the'3evelopment of the kingdom of God^ 
in its relation to the kingdoms of this world." 

VIIL The Peculiarities of the Book, 

The symbolism of the book is its most prominent 
and striking peculiarity. The number four occurs 
frequently, as, for example, there are four living 
creatures before the throne ; four angels at the four 
corners of the earth, holding the four winds ; four 
angels sent forth to vex the world ; a voice from 
the four corners of the altar ; the nations in the four 
corners of the earth. But the number seven is even 
more prominent ; there being seven Churches, seven 
candlesticks, seven stars, seven seals, seven trumpets, 
seven vials, seven thunders, seven spirits, the Lamb 
with seven horns and seven eyes, the seven-headed 
beast, seven mountains, and seven kings. 

This book is the only prophetical book in the 
New Testament. And in its general features it 
bears much the same relation to the New Testa- 


ment that Daniel does to the Old Testament. It 
partakes of some of the characteristics of Daniel 
and Ezekiel. It was written after the models thus 
furnished it in the Old Testament. Its tone is 
thoroughly Hebraistic. 

The following words of Dr. Gloag may well con- 
clude our studies on this book. He writes : "An au- 
thor who writes a history employs a different style 
in writing a poem or a philosophical dissertation. 
The Apocalypse is a prophecy, the prevision of the 
future ; the Gospel is a history, the recollection of 
the past. The Apocalypse is, as regards its form, a 
series of visions communicated to the Apostle. The 
Gospel is chiefly a record of the discourses of the 
Lord with His familiar disciples. In the one the im- 
agination is elevated ; in the other the memory is 
exercised. The spirit in which these works were 
written is very different. In writing the Apocalypse, 
the author was in a state of ecstasy ; he was, like 
Paul, caught up to the third heavens ; a prophetic 
fire burned within him ; visions and revelations from 
God were imparted to him ; his enthusiasm was 
kindled. In writing the Gospel and the Epistle, on 
the other hand, the author was calm and collected ; 
the inspiration imparted to him, although of a most 
elevating nature, was not ecstatic ; he wrote in full 
self-consciousness. As Guericke well expresses it, 
the Gospel of John was conceived and written in the 
understanding ; the Apocalypse, on the other hand, 
in the spirit."" 

1^ Gloag's Johannine Writings, p. 304. 


Abbot, Ezra, 15, 48, 55, 58, 316. 

Acts, the, canonicity, 74 ; authorship, 76 ; sources, 80 ; occasion and 

object, 82 ; contents, 85 ; date and place of composition, 86. 
Alexander, Lord Bishop of Derry, 106. 
Alexander the coppersmith, 228. 
Alford, Dean, 143, 152, 189, 233, 237, 308. 

Alogi, the, reject Fourth Gospel, 56 ; reject the Revelation, 312. 
Andrews, Samuel J., 20, 252, 255. 
Apollos, at Corinth, 128 ; at Ephesus, 178. 
Aquila and Priscilla, 125-128. 
Archippus, resident minister at Colossas, 160 ; his parents, 169. 

Babylon, First Peter written there, 33, 274. 

Barnabas, cousin to Mark, 30 ; separates from Paul, 32 ; not author of 

Epistle to the Hebrews, 233. 
Baur, 61, 168. 
Beet, Prof. J. A., 152. 
Berea, loi. 

Bleek, F., 57, 61, 77, 108, 146, 250, 287, 288, 297. 
Brethren of our Lord, 252-258. 
Burrhus, 86, 194, 197. 

Canon, not fixed by ecclesiastical authority, 2 ; meaning of, 2. 

Catholic Epistles, name and number, 247, 248. 

Cenchrea, 134. 

Cerinthus, the heretic, 66, 316. 

Charteris, Prof. A. H., 75, 315. 

Clement of Alexandria, 65, 234, 236, 278. 

Colossians, the Epistle to, canonicity, 157 ; the Colossian church, 158; 
occasion and object, 161 ; outline, 163 ; date and place of compo- 
sition, 164 ; peculiarities, 167 ; compared with Ephesians, 185. 

Conybeare and Howson's St. Paul, 143, 161, 166, 180, 199, 200, 202, 

Cook, Canon, 271, 

[327 J 


Corinth, the city of, 125 ; Christianity planted there, 126 ; Paul's sup- 
posed second visit there, 142 ; composition of church there, 127 ; 
factious elements in church, 137. 

Corinthians, the First Epistle to, canonicity, 124; the Corinthian 
church, 125; occasion and object, 128; outline, 130; date and 
place of composition, 131 ; concluding remarks, 132 ; Second 
Epistle to, canonicity, 133 ; to whom written, 134 ; occasion and 
object, 135 ; outline, 139 ; date and place of composition, 141 ; 
number of Paul's visits to Corinth, 142 ; the lost Epistle, 144. 

Crete, the island of, 218. 

Davidson, Dr. Samuel, 24, 38, $2, 76, 174, 235, 276. 

Delitzsch, Franz, 237. 

Demetrius, 301. 

DeWette, 145, 152, 168, '186, 208, 287, 304. 

Diotrephes, 301. 

Dods, Prof. Marcus, 7, 80, 132. 

Ellicott, Bishop, 143, 158, 162, 176, 208. 

Epaphras, founded churches at Colossse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis, 160 ; 
visits Paul for consultation, 161. 

Epaphroditus, messenger to Paul from the PhiUppians, 192, 193. 

Ephesians, the Epistle to, canonicity, 175 ; the Ephesian church, 177 ; 
destination of the Epistle, 181 ; occasion and object, 182 ; con- 
tents, 183 ; date and place of composition, 184 ; peculiarities, 184; 
compared with Colossians, 185. 

Ephesus, the city of, Paul's first visit, 178; Apollos there, 178; it 
religious life, 180. 

Eusebius, 66, 230, 248. 

Farrar, Canon, 54, 88, 94, 145, 261. 

Gains, of Corinth, entertains Paul, 154 ; Third John written to, 299. 

Galatia, situation, 114; Paul's sickness there, 1 16. 

Galatians, the Epistle to, canonicity, 113; the Galatian church, 114; 
occasion and object, 117 ; outline, 118 ; date and place of compo- 
sition, 120 ; peculiarities, 123. 

Gardner, Frederic, 240. 

GifEord, Dr. E. H., 145, 147, 155. 

Gloag, Paton J., Pauline Epistles, 95, 99, 103, 113, 115, 129, 134, 
J38, 152, 158, 176, 185, 188, 198, 220,229,240; Catholic Epis- 


ties, 249, 258, 260, 270, 285, 306 ; Johannine Writings, 58, 60, 67, 
73, 292, 295, 314, 319, 326. 

Godet, Prof., 45, 58, 60, 185. 

Gospels, meaning and use of term, 4 ; number and order, 4 ; Tatian's 
Harmony, 5 ; Irenseus' argument as to their number, 5 ; witness of 
Muratori Canon, 6 ; characteristics, 6 ; Synoptic Gospels, meaning, 
7 ; for whom written, 7 ; their origin, 8 ; Synoptic problem, 8 ; 
Norton on their agreements and differences, 9 ; various theories as 
to origin, 10; original Aramaic written Gospel, 12; Westcott on 
need for committing Gospel history to writing, 13 ; oral preaching 
the real basis of the Gospels, 14 ; Mark, the briefest form of that 
preaching, 14. 

Gregory, Prof., 49, 50. 

Guericke, 326. 

Gwynn, Dean, 188, 190. 

Hackett, Prof. H. B., 168. 

Harris, Prof. J. Rendel, 205. 

Hebrews, Epistle to, canonicity, 230 ; authorship, 233 ; to whom writ- 
ten, 241 ; occasion and object, 241 ; outline, 242 ; date and place 
of composition, 244 ; peculiarities, 245. 

Hobart, W. K., 44. 

Howson, Dean, 114, 117, 263. 

Huther, J. E., 200, 219. 

Irenjeus, original language of Matthew, 20 ; number of Gospels, 5 ; 
date of Matthew, 26 ; concerning Mark, 36. 

James, Epistle of, canonicity, 249 ; author, 252 ; to whom addressed, 
258 ; occasion and object, 259 ; contents, 261 ; date and place of 
composition, 262 ; peculiarities, 263. 

Jerome, original language of Matthew, 20, 21. 

John, the Apostle, author of Fourth Gospel, 58 ; history, 61 ; residence 
at Ephesus, 63 ; personal characteristics, 64 ; author of First John, 
288 ; author of Second and Third John, 298 ; author of the Reve- 
lation, 313 ; banished to Patmos by Domitian, 323. 

John, First Epistle of, canonicity, 286 ; author, 288 ; to whom written, 
289 ; companion piece to the Fourth Gospel, 290 ; occasion and 
object, 291 ; outline, 293 ; date and place of composition, 294 ; 
peculiarities, 295 ; Second and Third Epistle of, canonicity, 296 ; 
author, 298 ; to whom written, 299 ; occasion and objects, 301 ; 
contents, 302 ; date and place of composition, 303. 


J6hn, the Gospel according to, caiionicity, 55 ; authorship, 58 ; for 
whom written, 65 ; occasion and design, 65 ; sources of, 67 ; con- 
tents, 68 ; date and place of composition, 69 ; peculiarities, 70. 

John the Presbyter, same as John the Apostle, 299, 315. 

Journal of the Exegetical Society, 117, 121. 

Jowett, Prof,, 121, 151. 

Jude, the brother of our Lord, 305 ; Epistle of, canonicity, 303 ; author, 
305 ; to whom addressed, 306 ; occasion and object, 307 ; contents, 
308 ; date and place of composition, 309. 

Kay, Dr. William, 238. 

Kyria, Second Epistle of John addressed to, 299. 

Lange, J. P. E., 41. 

Lightfoot, Bishop, 58, 63, 115, 121, 159, 170, 193. 

Lost Epistle of Paul, 144. 

Lucke, 287. 

Luke, the Evangelist, author of Third Gospel, 43 ; a Gentile and a 
physician, 44 ; joined Paul at Troas, 45, 78 ; not an eye-witness of 
Gospel history, 46 ; literary style, 46 ; a careful historian, 47 ; 
relation to Paul, 51 ; author of Acts, 76 ; faithful to the end, 224. 

Luke, the Gospel according to, canonicity, 42 ; Marcion's Gospel a 
mutilated Luke, 42 ; authorship, 43 ; sources of, 47 ; object, 48 ; 
for whom written, 49 ; contents, 50 ; date and place of composi- 
tion, 51 ; relation to Paul, 51 ; peculiarities, 53. 

Lunemann, Prof., 240, 241. 

Luther, Martin, 123, 155, 239, 251. 

" Man of sin," 108, 112, 

Marcion, on Luke, 42. 

Mark, the Evangelist, 30 ; author of Second Gospel, 30 ; connec- 
tion with Peter, 30, 36, 38 ; the young man who followed Jesus 
when arrested, 31 ; cousin to Barnabas, 31 ; with Paul on first 
missionary journey, 31 ; his defection, 32 ; restored to Paul's con- 
fidence, 33 ; associated with Peter, 33 ; traditions concerning, 34. 

Mark, the Gospel according to, canonicity, 28 ; authorship, 30 ; pur- 
pose, 34 ; written for the Roman type of mind, 35 ; contents, 36 ; 
date and place of composition, 36 ; Peter's Gospel, 36 ; the fulfill- 
ment of Peter's promise in 2 Peter i : 15, 37 ; integrity, 39 ; pecu- 
liarities, 40. 

Marshall, Prof, J. T., 12. 

Matthew, the Apostle, 18-20. 


Matthew, the Gospel according to, canonicity, i6 ; authorship, i8 ; 
original language, 20; arguments for Greek original, 21 ; confused 
with the apocryphal "Gospel according to the Hebrews," 22 ; 
purpose of, 23 ; an historical argument, 23 ; fulfilled prophecies 
noted, 24 ; contents, 25 ; date and place of composition, 26 ; pecul- 
iarities, 27 ; the kingly jospel, 28. 

Meyer, H. A. W., 39, 58, 77, 80, 138, 143, 158, 165, 207. 

Michaelis, Prof. J. D., 186. 

Moorhead, Prof., 245. 

Norton, Andrews, 10. 
Nicopolis, in Epirus, 221. 

Olshausen, 57, 143, 152. 
Onesimus, 170. 

Origen, original language of Matthew, 20; destination of Luke, 50; 
on authorship of Hebrews, 233. 

Paley, 75, 134, 168, 176. 

Papias, on the "Oracles," 12 ; original language of Matthew, 20; on 
Mark, 29. 

Paul, the Apostle, 87 ; conversion, 88 ; missionary journeys, 89, 90 ; 
arrest in Jerusalem, 91 ; imprisoned at Csesarea, 91 ; taken to 
Rome, 92 ; released from Roman imprisonment, 199 ; chronology 
of Hfe, 93 ; character, 94 ; writings, 95 ; no real hostility to Peter, 
82 ; journey to Spain, 202 ; last days, 201-204. 

Pauline Epistles, the Early Epistles, 98 ; the Epistles of the Captivity, 
156 ; the Pastoral Epistles, 198. 

Peter, the Apostle, history, 265-269 ; traditions about, 269 ; character, 
270 ; not bishop of Roman Church, 148, 275 ; connection with 
Mark, 38 ; author of First Peter, 265 ; author of Second Peter, 277. 

Peter, First Epistle of, canonicity, 263 ; author, 265 ; persons ad- 
dressed, 270 ; occasion and object, 271 ; contents, 272 ; date and 
place of composition, 274 ; peculiarities, 276 ; Second Epistle of, 
canonicity, 277 ; to whom written, 282 ; occasion and object, 283 ; 
outline, 284 ; date and place of composition, 284 ; peculiarities, 

Philemon, a Colossian, 169 ; Onesimus, his slave, 170. 

Philemon, Epistle to, canonicity, 167 ; person addressed, 169 ; occasion 
and design, 170; contents, 173; date and place of composition, 
173 ; peculiarities, 173. 


Philippi, situation of, 189 ; Paul visits it, 190 ; composition of church 

there, 193 ; sends present to Paul, 192. 
Philippians, Epistle to, canonicity, 187 ; the Philippian church, 189 ; 

occasion and object, 193 ; contents, 195 ; date and place of com. 

position, 196 ; peculiarities, 198. 
Phoebe, deaconess of church of Cenchrea, 151 ; business in Rome and 

carries Paul's Epistle there, 155. 
Plumptre, Prof. E. H., 210. 
Porter, Prof. F. C, 72. 

Renan, 59, 79, 158, 264. 

Reuss, 143, 168, 223, 251, 281. 

Revelation, the, canonicity, 311 ; authorship, 313 ; to whom addressed, 
317 ; occasion and object, 319; contents, 320; date and place of 
composition, 321 ; interpretation, 324; peculiarities, 325. 

Romans, Epistle to, canonicity, 145 ; the Roman church, 148 ; occasion 
and design, 151; outline, 153; date and place of composition, 
154 ; peculiarities, 155. 

Rome, origin of church there, 148 ; Peter not bishop of, 148 ; composi- 
tion of church, 150. 

Salmon, Prof. George, 3, 12, 108, 112, 206, 223. 

Sanday, Prof. W., 58, 59. 

Schaff, Dr. Philip, 13, 15, 52, 54, 61, 71, 84, 145, 186, 258. 

Schenkel, 83, 188. 

Schleiermacher, 71. 

Schneckenburger, 83. 

Silas (Silvauus), Paul's companion, 90 ; remains at Berea, loi ; rejoins 

Paul, 104 ; amanuensis and bearer of First Peter, 272. 
Sinaitic manuscript, 40, 181, 239. 
Stalker, 94. 
Stanley, Dean, 64. 
Storrs, Dr. H. M., 73. 

Tatian, 5, 17. 

Thayer, Prof., 232, 233. 

Theophilus, Third Gospel addressed to, 49 : an historical personage, 
49 ; a representative man, 50 ; the Acts addressed to, 82. 

Thessalonians, First Epistle to, canonicity, 98 ; church at Thessalonica, 
100 ; occasion and object, 102 ; outline, 103 ; when and where 
written, 104 ; peculiarities, 105 ; Second Epistle to, canonicity, 


107; occasion and object, 109; outline, no; date and place of 
composition, in ; peculiarities, 112. 

Tholuck, 152. 

Tigellinus, 86, 194, 197. 

Timothy, not writer of ** we passages" in Acts, 78 ; Paul's companion, 
90; visit to Corinth, 136; history, 209-211 ; relation to Ephesian 
church, 211. 

Timothy, First Epistle to, canonicity, 205 ; the person addressed, 209 ; 
occasion and object, 211 ; outline, 211 ; date and place of compo- 
sition, 213 ; peculiarities, 214 ; Second Epistle to, canonicity, 222 ; 
occasion and object, 224 ; outline, 226 ; date and place of compo- 
sition, 227 ; peculiarities, 228. 

Tischendorf, 5, 39, 148. 

Titus, carried First Corinthians to its destination, 130 ; returns to Paul 
from Corinth, 135 ; carries Second Corinthians, 136; history, 215- 
219 ; character, 217. 

Titus, Epistle to, canonicity, 215 ; person addressed, 215 ; occasion and 
object, 219 ; outline, 220; date and place of composition, 220. 

Tregelles, 39, 1 48. 

Tychicus, bearer of Epistle to Colossians, 162 ; also to the Ephesians, 
182 ; Paul refers to him, 224, 

Usher, Archbishop, 182. 

Van Oosterzee, 44. 

Vatican manuscript, 40, 181, 239, 

Wace, Prof., 200, 206. 

Warfield, Dr. B. B., 37, 39, 55, II2, Il8, I2I, 153, 2II, 248, 269, 279, 

280, 282, 288, 312, 320. 
Weidner, Dr. R. F., 242. 

Weiss, Bernhard, 22, 29, 83, 108, 138, 150, 200, 201, 207, 266, 314. 
Westcott, Bishop, 2, 14, 41, 54, 58, 231. 
Westcott and Hort, 39, 148. 
Weston, Dr. H. G., 28. 

Zeller, 83. 





Frp ^ ? --^ 

"^ -MN*^ 






^^,,^,„.*.-— -