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Full text of "The literature and history of New Testament times"

*)G 21 1991 



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ZHIO 



*JG 21 1991 



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THE LITERATURE AND 

HISTORY OF 
NEW TESTAMENT TIMES 



The Historical Background of 
Christianity 

The Early History of 
Christianity 

By John Gresham Machen 






PHILADELPHIA, PA. 

THE PRESBYTERIAN BOARD OF PUBLICATION 

AND SABBATH SCHOOL WORK 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

Introduction 3 

Lesson 

1 . The New Testament 5 

2. The Roman Background of Christianity 10 

3. The Greek Background of Christianity 15 

4. The Jewish Background of Christianity: I. Palestinian Judaism. . 21 

5. The Jewish Background of Christianity: II. The Judaism of the 

Dispersion 26 

6. The Messiah 31 

7. The Book of The Acts 36 

8. The Cross and the Resurrection the Foundation of Apostolic 

Preaching 41 

9. The Beginnings of the Christian Church 46 

10. The First Persecution 51 

1 1 . The First Gentile Converts 56 

12. The Conversion of Paul 60 

13. The Church at Antioch 67 

14. The Gospel to the Gentiles 75 

15. The Council at Jerusalem 81 

16. The Gospel Carried Into Europe 86 

17. Encouragement for Recent Converts 92 

18. The Conflict with the Judaizers 97 

19. Problems of a Gentile Church 103 

20. The Apostle and His Ministry 109 

21. The Gospel of Salvation 115 

22. Paul's Journey to Rome 120 

23. The Supremacy of Christ 124 

24. The Church of Christ 129 

25. Christ and His Followers 133 

26. Training New Leaders 138 

27. A Presentation of Jesus to Jewish Christians 147 

28. A Graphic Sketch of the Life of Jesus 154 

29. A Greek Historian's Account of Jesus 158 

30. The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple 165 

31. The Jesus of the Gospels 174 

32. A Document of the Jerusalem Church 178 

33. Jesus the Fulfillment of the Old Testament 184 

34. Christian Fortitude 189 

35. The Christian's Attitude Toward Error and Immorality 194 

36. The Life of the Children of God 198 

37. The Messages of the Living Christ 203 

38. A Vision of the Final Triumph . ^ 209 

39. Review 213 

40. The Church and the World 219 

41. The Christian Message 225 

42. The Word and the Sacraments 231 

43. Prayer 238 

44. The Congregation 244 

45. The Relief of the Needy 249 

46. Organizing for Service 255 

47. A Mission for the World 261 

48. The Christian Ideal of Personal Morality 266 

49. Christianity and Human Relationships 271 

50. The Christian Use of the Intellect 277 

51. The Christian Hope and the Present Possession 282 

52. Retrospect: the First Christian Century 287 

Copyright, 1915, by John Gresham Machen 



INTRODUCTION 



The general purpose of this course of lessons has been set forth 
in the introduction to the Student's Text Book. There is a tendency 
in the modern Church to neglect the study of Bible history. Such 
neglect will inevitably result in a loss of power. The gospel is a 
record of something that has happened, and uncertainty about the 
gospel is fatal weakness. Furthermore the historical study of the 
apostolic age — that age when divine revelation established the 
great principles of the Church's life — is the best corrective for a 
thousand vagaries. Much can be learned from modern pedagogy; 
but after all what is absolutely fundamental, both for teacher and 
for student, is an orderly acquaintance with the Bible facts. 

The Teacher's Manual, therefore, is intended not merely to 
offer suggestions as to methods of teaching, but primarily to sup- 
plement the teacher's knowledge. A teacher who knows only 
what he actually imparts to the class is inevitably dull. The true 
teacher brings forth out of his treasure things new and old. 

The sections in the Teacher's Manual, since they are intended 
to be supplementary, should not be read until after careful attention 
has been paid to the corresponding sections in the Student's Text 
Book. Moreover, both sections together are of course in them- 
selves insufficient. They should be supplemented by other read- 
ing. Suggestions about reading have been put at the end of every 
lesson. Here, however, a few general remarks may be made. 

Davis' "Dictionary of the Bible" and Purves' "Christianity in 
the Apostolic Age," which have been recommended even to the 
student, will be to the teacher almost invaluable. The earnest 
teacher will also desire to refer to good commentaries on The Acts. 
The commentaries which have been mentioned in connection with 
the individual lessons are based upon the English Bible ; but every 
teacher who has any knowledge of Greek, however slight, should 
use, instead, the commentary of Knowling, in "The Expositor's 
Greek Testament." For the life of Paul, Lewin's "Life and 
Epistles of St. Paul" and the similar book of Conybeare and 
Howson are still very valuable for their vivid and extended 
descriptions of the scenes of the missionary journeys. A similar 



4 INTRODUCTION 

service is rendered, in more up-to-date form, by the various works 
of Ramsay. Stalker's "Life of St. Paul" is a good handbook. 
M'Clymont's "New Testament and Its Writers" contains in- 
structive, though very brief, introductions to all of the New Testa- 
ment books. Hastings' "Dictionary of the Bible" and "Dictionary 
of Christ and the Gospels" number among their contributors 
many writers of many opinions. They are rich in references to 
the vast literature of modern Biblical discussion. 

The writer of this course has derived information from many 
quarters. Definite acknowledgment of indebtedness, since no 
originality is claimed, may be regarded as unnecessary. It is a 
pleasure, however, to render special thanks to Rev. Professor William 
Park Armstrong, D. D., of Princeton Theological Seminary, whose 
wise counsel has been of incalculable assistance at many points. 

The actual presentation of the lessons will, of course, vary 
according to the needs of the classes and the preferences of the 
teachers. The Student's Text Book may often provide a con- 
venient order of presentation. That book is intended not merely 
to be read, but also to be studied. It is to be regarded as a sort 
of outline of the course. 

The "topics for study" are intended to serve a double purpose. 
In the first place, they will test the student's knowledge of the 
lesson material ; in the second place, they will afford encouragement 
to special investigation. Individual topics may often be assigned 
for thorough treatment to individual students, while the class as a 
whole may use all the topics as guides to a general knowledge. 

Personal interest in the individual students is of the utmost im- 
portance. Instruction has a tenfold value when it is backed by 
friendship. The relation of the students to the Church should 
be a matter of especial concern. If any member of the class has 
not confessed his faith in Christ, the study of this year offers 
abundant opportunity for a word in season. Our study reveals the 
Church as a divine institution. Shall we then stand aloof? 

In this course the teacher has the opportunity of introducing 
young people of maturing minds to the historical study of the New 
Testament. There could be no more inspiring task. Carried 
about with every wind of doctrine, the Church is sadly in need of 
an assured anchorage. That anchorage should be sought in 
history. Ignorance is weak; sound knowledge, sought with prayer, 
and blessed by the Spirit of God, will lead to a more stalwart and 
more intelligent faith. 



LESSON I 
THE NEW TESTAMENT 



This is an introductory lesson. It should be used, first of all, 
to answer intelligent general questions about the New Testament. 
Some of these questions will be discussed briefly under Sections 
1 to 3, below. 

The historical study of the New Testament, based upon a study 
of the circumstances under which the individual books were written, 
will probably be new to many of the students. The new point of 
view should be used to awaken interest. The climax of the lesson 
should, however, be a presentation of the unity of the New Testa- 
ment as the very Word of God to us. Historical study should be 
made — and can be made — subservient to reverent and thankful 
obedience. 

1. THE ORIGIN AND MEANING OF THE NAME 

The English word "testament" comes from a Latin word. The 
equivalent Greek word is hard to translate. As used in the Greek 
Bible it may mean either "covenant" or "testament." Usually it 
should probably be translated "covenant." 

The phrase "new covenant" occurs about five times in the New 
Testament. In none of these passages does the phrase refer to 
the "New Testament" in our sense. It designates a new relation- 
ship into which men have been received with God. The old 
covenant was made, through the mediatorship of Moses, with the 
Hebrew nation; the new covenant, hinted at in prophecy, Jer. 
31 : 31, and instituted by the Lord Jesus, I Cor. 11 : 25, was made 
with all those, of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 
who should through faith accept the salvation offered by Christ. 
Those who believe become, like Israel of old, God's chosen people, 
and enter into the warmth and joy of the divine communion. The 
names "old and new covenants," then, were applied first to these 
two special relationships into which God entered with men. After- 
wards the names were applied to the books in which the conditions 
of those relationships were set forth. Perhaps it would have been 



6 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

better if we had started to say "New Covenant" where we now say 
"New Testament." At any rate the idea alluded to in the 
name is the inspiring idea, realized in Christ, of an alliance 
with God. The New Testament is the divine treaty by the 
terms of which God has received us rebels and enemies into peace 
with himself. 

2. ONE BOOK, OR A COLLECTION OF BOOKS? 

In the first place, the New Testament may be treated in every 
respect as a single book. That course is adopted by many of the 
most devoted lovers of the Bible. By them the Bible is treated 
simply as a textbook of religion. Passages are quoted indiscrimi- 
nately from all parts of it, without much regard to the context. 
The wide differences of form and of spirit among the various books 
are ignored. The historical implications of the books are of course 
accepted as true, but practically they are left quite unassimilated. 

Now let us be quite plain about one thing. The men who use 
the Bible in this way are right in the main point. They treat the 
Bible as the guide of life for time and for eternity. And if by the 
use of the Bible we can come into communion with God, we can 
afford to miss a good many other things. Nevertheless, the Bible 
is as a matter of fact not a mere textbook of religion, and if we 
treat it as such we miss much of its richness. If the Bible were 
merely a systematic treatise, it would be far easier to interpret. The 
interpreter would be spared a great deal of trouble, but the burden 
would be heaped upon the preacher. As it is, the Bible is itself a 
preacher, because it is in such close contact with the actual expe- 
rience of men of flesh and blood. Its general teachings are given us 
in large measure only through the medium of history, through the 
medium of example. In order to arrive at the general truths, there- 
fore, intellectual labor is often necessary. God has made things 
harder for the intellect that he may strike home the more surely to 
the heart. If Paul had written a systematic theology, the New 
Testament way of salvation might in some ways have been plainer 
than it is. It would have been plain to the intellect, but it would 
have needed interpretation to the heart. Conviction can be 
wrought only by the immediate impact of personal life. The 
theology of Paul, of itself, might be a dead thing; the religious 
experience of Paul, interwoven with his theology, and bared be- 
fore us in the epistles, is irresistible. 

In the second place, the historical form of the Bible may be 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 7 

considered at the expense of its spiritual content. The Bible may 
be treated simply as a storybook. Such a method of treatment 
is exceedingly common to-day. "The Bible as literature" is its 
slogan. This treatment has simply missed the main point alto- 
gether. It is incomparably inferior to that treatment which takes 
the Bible as a mere textbook of religion. The Bible as an addition 
to the world's history or the world's literature has, indeed, con- 
siderable educational value. But it does not give eternal life. 

A third method is possible, and that third method is right. 
The historical and literary form of the Bible is recognized to the 
full. But it is regarded not as an end in itself, but as a means 
to an end. Historical study is necessary not only to establish 
to the modern man the saving facts of the gospel, but also to do 
justice to the dramatic narrative form in which God has revealed 
to us his eternal will. 

It is nearer the truth, then, to say that the New Testament is a 
single book than to say that it is a collection of books. Its parts 
differ widely among themselves, in authorship, in date, in circum- 
stances, in aim. Those differences must be studied carefully, if 
the full meaning is to be obtained. But widely as the New Testa- 
ment writings differ among themselves, they differ yet far more 
widely from all other books. They presented themselves originally 
to the Church with a divine authority, which is foreign to the 
ordinary writings of men. That authority has been confirmed 
through the Christian centuries. Those who have submitted their 
lives to the New Testament have never been confounded. The 
New Testament has been to them the voice of God. 

3. THE FOUR DIVISIONS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT 

(1) The Gospels. — Christianity is based upon historical facts. 
Attempts, it is true, are often made to separate it from history. 
But they are bound to result in failure. Give up history, and you 
can retain some things. But you can never retain a gospel. For 
"gospel" means "good news," and "good news" means tidings, 
information derived from the witness of others. In other words, it 
means history. The question whether religion can be indepen- 
dent of history is really just the old question whether we need a 
gospel. The gospel is news that something has happened — some- 
thing that puts a different face upon life. What that something is 
is told us in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It is the life and 
death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 



8 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

(2) The Book of The Acts.— The Book of The Acts is a history 
of the extension of Christianity from Jerusalem out into the Gentile 
world. It represents that extension as guided by the Spirit of 
God, and thus exhibits the divine warrant for the acceptance of 
us Gentiles, and for the development of the Christian Church. 
It provides the outline of apostolic history without which we could 
not understand the other New Testament books, especially the 
epistles of Paul. It illustrates to the full what has been said above 
about the value of the historical form in which the Bible teaching 
is presented. By reading this vivid narrative we obtain an impres- 
sion of the power of the Holy Spirit which no systematic treatise 
could give. 

(3) The Epistles. — The Epistles of the New Testament are 
not just literature put in an epistolary form, but real letters. It is 
true that the addresses of some of them are very broad, for 
example, those of James and of I Peter; and that some of them 
contain no specific address at all, for example, Hebrews and I John. 
But the great majority of them, at least, were written under very 
special circumstances and intended to be read first by very 
definite people. 

The chief letter-writer of the New Testament was the apostle 
Paul. To a certain extent he used the forms of letter-writing of 
his time, just as everyone to-day begins a letter with ''Dear Sir." 
Within the last twenty years a great number of Greek private 
letters, dating from about the time of Paul, have been discovered 
in Egypt, where they have been preserved by the dry climate. 
It is interesting to compare them with the letters of Paul. There 
are some striking similarities in language; for both these letter- 
writers and Paul used the natural language of daily life rather 
than the extremely artificial language of the literature of that 
period. To a certain extent, also, Paul used the same epistolary 
forms. The differences, however, are even more instructive than 
the resemblances. It is true, the Pauline epistles are not literary 
treatises, but real letters. But on the other hand they are not 
ordinary private letters intended to be read and thrown away, like 
the letters that have been discovered in Egypt. Most of them 
were intended to be read originally in churches. It is natural, then, 
that they should have been written in a loftier style than is to be 
found in mere business communications and the like. And if Paul 
uses the epistolary forms of his time he uses them in an entirely 
new way. Even the mere openings of the epistles are made the 



THE NEW TESTAMENT 9 

vehicle of Christian truth. "Grace to you and peace from God 
our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" — there is nothing like that 
in contemporary letter-writing. The openings of the Pauline 
epistles form an interesting study. They are varied with wonderful 
skill to suit the varied character and subject matter of the letters 
that follow. Paul is never merely formal. 

The letters of Paul differ widely among themselves. The Epistle 
to the Romans is almost a systematic exposition of the plan of 
salvation. Philemon is concerned with a little personal matter 
between Paul and one of his converts. But even where Paul is 
most theological he is personal, and even where he is most personal, 
he is faithful to his theology. Theology in him is never separate 
from experience, and experience never separate from theology. 
Even petty problems he settles always in the light of eternal prin- 
ciples. Hence his letters, though the specific circumstances that 
gave rise to them are past and gone, will never be antiquated. 

(4) The Apocalypse. — The Christian life is a life of hope. 
Inwardly we are free, but our freedom is not yet fully realized. 
We are in danger of losing our hope in the trials or in the mere 
humdrum of life. To keep it alive, the Apocalypse opens a glorious 
vision of the future. The vision is presented in symbolical 
language. It is not intended to help in any calculation of the 
times and seasons. But it shows us the Lamb upon the throne — 
and that is enough. 



In the Library. — Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": articles on 
"Bible, "Canon of the New Testament," "Covenant," "New Testa- 
ment," and "Testament." 



LESSON II 

THE ROMAN BACKGROUND OF CHRISTIANITY 



Christianity is not a human product. It is not to be explained 
by what preceded it on the earth. It is a new beginning in history, 
an immediate exercise of the divine power. 

But though Christianity was not produced by men, it operates 
upon men, and upon men subject to all the ordinary conditions of 
earthly life. Primitive Christianity, then, which we shall study 
this year, cannot be understood fully without an examination 
of the historical conditions under which it arose. 

In the class, the lesson should probably be approached through 
the New Testament examples of the general principles which are 
outlined in the lesson helps. Examples will be found in the passages 
assigned in the Student's Text Book, and others should be sought 
for elsewhere. 

1. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE EMPIRE 

By the middle of the first century before Christ the power of the 
Roman republic extended around the Mediterranean Sea. Victories 
abroad, however, were accompanied by serious troubles at home. 
The increase of wealth and the importation of slave labor had 
produced unfortunate social conditions. The realm had become 
too large to be administered adequately by the old republican 
government. Individuals sometimes obtained practical control 
of affairs, and the state was torn by civil wars. Finally, in 49 B. C, 
Julius Caesar entered Rome at the head of an army, and Roman 
liberty was at an end. After the assassination of Caesar in 44 B. C, 
there was a succession of civil wars, and then, by the victory of 
Actium in 31 B. C, Octavius, who later assumed the name of 
Augustus, became sole ruler. Augustus died in A. D. 14. 

Subsequent emperors during the first century were: Tiberius 
(A. D. 14-37), Caligula (A. D. 37-41), Claudius (A. D. 41-54), 
Nero (A. D. 54-68), Galba, Otho and Vitellius (A. D. 69), Vespasian 
(A. D. 69-79), Titus (A. D. 79-81), Domitian (A. D. 81-96), Nerva 
(A. D. 96-98), Trajan (A. D. 98-117). 

10 



THE ROMAN BACKGROUND OF CHRISTIANITY II 

2. ROMAN ADMINISTRATION UNDER THE EMPIRE 

The general advantages of the Roman imperial government have 
been considered in the Student's Text Book. It will here be ad- 
visable to consider one or two features a little more in detail. Much 
of what follows can be illustrated from the New Testament; for 
the acquaintance of New Testament writers, especially of Luke, 
with Roman administration is not only accurate but also minute. 
The students should be encouraged to seek New Testament illustra- 
tions for themselves. 

(1) The Provinces. — The provinces of the empire are to be 
distinguished from the territories of subject kings or princes. 
The latter were quite subservient to Rome, but were given more 
independence of administration. A good example of such a subject 
king, theoretically an ally, but in reality a vassal, was Herod the 
Great, who ruled over all Palestine till 4 B. C. 

The provinces themselves were divided into two great classes — 
imperial provinces and senatorial provinces. 

The imperial provinces were under the immediate control of the 
emperor. They were governed by "legates," who had no regular 
term of office, but served at the emperor's pleasure. The imperial 
provinces were those in which, on account of unsettled conditions, 
or for the defense of the empire, large bodies of troops had to be 
maintained. Thus, by keeping the appointment of the legates 
exclusively in his own hands, the emperor retained the direct 
control of the all-important power of the army. A good example 
of an imperial province is the great province of Syria, with capital 
at Antioch. Palestine was more or less under the supervision of 
the Syrian legate. 

Districts different from the great imperial provinces, but, like 
them, under the immediate control of the emperor, were governed 
by "procurators." Judea, from A. D. 6 to A. D. 41, and from 
A. D. 44 on, is an example. 

The senatorial provinces were governed by "proconsuls," chosen 
by lot from among the members of the Senate. The proconsuls 
served for only one year. Even over these provinces and their 
governors the emperor retained the fullest supervisory authority. 
The senatorial provinces composed the central and more settled 
portions of the empire, where large standing armies would not be 
needed. Examples are Achaia, with capital at Corinth, and Cyprus 
with capital at Paphos. Proconsuls of both of these provinces are 
mentioned in the New Testament by name. 



12 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

(2) Local Government. — The Romans did not attempt to in- 
troduce perfect uniformity throughout the empire. The original 
Greek unit of political life was the city, and Greek cities were 
scattered over the east before the Roman conquest. With regard 
to local affairs, many of the cities retained a certain amount of in- 
dependence. It is interesting to observe the local peculiarities of 
the cities described in The Acts. 

In addition to the Greek cities, many of which were more or less 
"free" in local affairs, many "Roman colonies" had been established 
here and there throughout the empire. The original colonists 
were often veterans of the Roman armies. Of course the populations 
soon came to be mixed, but Roman traditions were cultivated in 
the colonies more than elsewhere. A number of the cities of The 
Acts were colonies, and one, Philippi, is expressly declared to be 
such. Acts 16 : 12. In that city the Roman character of the 
magistrates appears clearly from the Lucan narrative. There were 
"praetors" and "lictors." 

(3) Roman Citizenship. — Before New Testament times Roman 
citizenship had been extended to all Italy. Italy, therefore, was 
not a province or group of provinces, but was regarded as a part of 
Rome. Outside of Italy Roman citizenship was a valuable special 
privilege. It raised a man above the mass of the provincial popula- 
tion. Some of the advantages of it appear clearly in the New 
Testament narrative. Because Paul was a Roman citizen he was 
legally exempt from the most degrading forms of punishment, and 
had a right to appeal to the court of the emperor. Roman citizen- 
ship was sometimes acquired by money, but Paul inherited it from 
his father. 

3. ROMAN RELIGION 

Under the empire, Rome was possessed of a state religion. The 
ancient gods of the republic were retained. There were great 
divinities like Jupiter and Mars, and there were numberless private 
divinities of individual households. The ancient religion had, 
indeed, undergone modifications. New divinities in plenty had 
been received. But the reception of the new did not involve aboli- 
tion of the old. On the contrary, the gods of other peoples could 
be accepted just because they were regarded as nothing but the 
Roman gods under different names. Thus, long before the Christian 
era, there had been a thoroughgoing identification of the gods of 
Greece with the gods of Rome. The Greek Zeus, for example, was 



THE ROMAN BACKGROUND OF CHRISTIANITY 1 3 

identified with the Roman Jupiter; the Greek Ares with the Roman 
Mars. The gods of countries other than Greece were also received, 
though, as far as the city of Rome was concerned, with some con- 
servatism. 

In the Roman world, religion was a national affair. Worship 
of the national gods was not only piety, but also patriotism. Pa- 
triotism and religion were inseparably connected. Support of the 
gods of Rome, even where personal faith in them had been under- 
mined, was considered to be the duty of every loyal citizen. 

The political aspect of Roman religion appears most clearly in 
the worship of the Roman emperors. This remarkable develop- 
ment appears from the beginning of the empire. Augustus, indeed, 
refused to receive divine honors, at least in the west. But in the 
east even he was worshiped, and as time went on the reluctance 
of the emperors disappeared. Some of the worst of the emperors 
were most insistent upon their own divinity. 

Perhaps the first impulse of the modern man is to regard the 
Caesar cult simply as a particularly despicable form of flattery. 
In reality it was more than that. It was not established by 
imperial edict. It was not dictated primarily by servile fear. 
The Greek inhabitants of the empire really regarded Augustus as 
their saviour. And so he was, as far as any man could be. He 
saved them from the miseries of civil war, and from the rapacity 
of the degenerate republic; he gave them peace and happiness. 
And they responded by regarding him as a god. 

To them it was natural. To them it was nothing new. Alex- 
ander the Great had been regarded as a god long before the 
Christian era. His successors in Syria and in Egypt had also 
received divine honors. To the genuine Romans, the thing did not 
come so easy. The Caesar cult, at least at first, was not developed 
in the west. But even the Romans could worship the emperor's 
"genius" or spirit, and from that to the actual worship of the 
emperor was but a step. Essential to the whole process of deifica- 
tion, both in Rome and in the east, was the close connnection in 
ancient thinking between deity and humanity, and between re- 
ligion and the state. If patriotism is religion, then the king is a 
god. 

The Caesar cult was the most palpable incorporation of the state 
religion. Worship of the emperor, therefore, might well be the 
test of loyalty to Rome. It could be practiced by skeptics and 
philosophers. It could be practiced by the devotees of all religions — 



14 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

save two. Jews and Christians alone could not bow at the emperor's 
shrine, for their God was a God who could brook no rival. He 
was not merely the greatest among many. He was the only Lord, 
Maker of heaven and earth. 

4. THE ROMAN EMPIRE AND SUBSEQUENT HISTORY 

Between Christianity and the Roman state, with its official 
religion, a life-and-death struggle was inevitable. But in the 
providence of God it was delayed. The empire was used not to 
crush Christianity but to open the world before it. 

But was the empire really identical with the world? It seemed 
so to the Romans and to the Greeks. To them the empire was the 
world. And they were right. Not, of course, in a literal sense. 
In the first century after Christ, vast civilizations — for example 
the civilization of China — were already in existence. There were 
great peoples of whom the Romans had never heard. But Roman 
arrogance has at last been vindicated. For Rome was in reality 
the key to subsequent history. Rome was the parent of Europe, 
and Europe is moving the world. Even China is at last being 
opened to the civilization of Rome. The Romans were right. 
He who could master Rome would be master, one day, of the world. 

It has been a long process. But God's plans are sure. Christian- 
ity appeared at the one time when the world was open before it. 
By the power of the divine Spirit it conquered the empire. The 
empire dominated its barbarian conquerors. The barbarians are 
the parents of modern civilization. Modern civilization is invading 
the earth's remotest bounds. China, at last, is within our ken. 
Realms long closed have at last been opened. Another great 
opportunity! An opportunity for greed and selfishness! An 
opportunity for a dismal skepticism! And an opportunity for the 
Church of God! 



In the Library. — Hastings, "Dictionary of the Bible": Adeney, 
article on "Caesar"; Gwatkin, articles on "Roman Empire," and 
"Rome." Hastings, "Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics": Iverach, 
article on "Csesarism." Westcott, "The Two Empires," in "The 
Epistles of St. John," pp. 250-282. Ramsay, "The Cities of St. Paul," 
pp. 48-81. 



LESSON III 

THE GREEK BACKGROUND OF CHRISTIANITY 



The purpose of the present lesson is to make the student feel 
that the gospel was from the beginning a real gospel in a real world. 
If we isolate the early preaching from its environment, we make it 
seem like an unreal thing. Study of New Testament times makes 
the New Testament itself become a more living, a more interesting 
book. 

In the Student's Text Book an outline of the Hellenistic age has 
been provided. It has been supplemented below by illustrative 
material. But in the class the lesson can probably be best 
approached from the side of the New Testament itself. In what 
languages is the Bible written? How did the New Testament come 
to be written in Greek? What other languages are mentioned in 
the New Testament? What light do these passages shed upon the 
linguistic conditions of the time? What is the attitude of the apos- 
tles toward Greek thought? Is that attitude altogether unfavorable, 
or did the early missionaries ever lay hold upon the higher aspira- 
tions of their Gentile hearers (Athens) ? Where did the missionaries 
come into contact with heathen superstition ? (Several fine examples 
in The Acts). What was the moral condition of the Greco-Roman 
world? How was the Hellenistic age like our own? Why did God 
send our Lord just in the first century? What was the social con- 
dition of the early Christians? Do you think that was an advantage 
or a disadvantage? What men of higher position are mentioned 
in the New Testament? Questions like these will serve to relate 
the general expositions in the lesson helps to the New Testament 
itself. The lesson helps are intended to provide merely the pre- 
suppositions necessary for intelligent study. God working for 
real men in a real world — that is the subject of the lesson. 

1. THE HELLENISTIC AGE 

The Greek world culture which prevailed after the conquest of 
Alexander was widely different from the Greek life of the classical 
period. The earlier period is called the "Hellenic" period, the later 
period is designated as "Hellenistic." When Greek thought made 

15 



l6 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

itself master of the world, it became mingled with numberless 
foreign elements. The mixture appears most clearly, perhaps, 
in the sphere of religion. Polytheism was capable of indefinite 
expansion. New gods could easily be identified with the old, or 
else be received along with them without a conflict. The religion 
of the Greco-Roman world is therefore different from that of 
ancient Greece. It is a curious mixture of the most diverse beliefs. 
Nevertheless, the whole deserves to be called Hellenistic, because 
even the most strikingly non-Grecian elements were usually sub- 
jected more or less to the subtle molding of the Greek spirit. 

The Hellenistic age used to be despised, but among modern 
scholars it is coming into its own. Its literary products are ad- 
mittedly inferior to the glories of the earlier age, but even in literature 
its achievements are not to be despised, and in other spheres it is 
supreme. Notably in mathematics and in natural science it was 
the golden age. Euclid, the geometrician, lived three centuries 
before Christ. 

The learning of the Hellenistic age was centered in Alexandria in 
Egypt, a city which had been founded by Alexander the Great. 
Athens had, perhaps, ceased to possess the primacy. That fact 
is typical of the time. Greek culture had ceased to belong to 
Greece in the narrower sense. It had become a possession of the 
world. The great library of Alexandria was a sign of the times. 
The Hellenistic age was an age of widespread learning. 

When Rome became master of the eastern world, conditions were 
not fundamentally changed. Rome merely hastened a process that 
was already at work. Already the nations had been brought 
together by the spread of Greek culture; Roman law merely added 
the additional bond of political unity. The Roman legions were 
missionaries of an all-pervading Hellenism. 

The Greco-Roman world was astonishingly modern. It was 
modern in its cosmopolitanism. In our own time the nations 
have again been brought together. The external agencies for 
their welding are far more perfect to-day than they were under the 
empire. Even the Roman roads would be but a poor substitute 
for the railroad and the telegraph and the steamship. But on the 
other hand we lack the bond of a common language. In some 
ways the civilized world was even more of a unit in the first century 
than it is to-day. 

The cosmopolitanism of the Roman Empire was a God-given 
opportunity for the Church. In a cosmopolitan age, if a man has 



THE GREEK BACKGROUND OF CHRISTIANITY 1 7 

something to say, he will not lack for an audience. His message 
will be understood in one place as well as in another. The lesson 
is obvious for the Church of to-day. Again God has opened the 
world before us. If we have a message, in God's name let us pro- 
claim it while yet there is time. 

i 2. THE GREEK BIBLE 

The Church originated in Palestine. The first missionaries were 
native Jews. Yet even they had been affected by the cosmopolitan- 
ism of the time. Even they could use Greek, in addition to their 
native language. And Paul, the greatest of the missionaries, 
though a Jew, was a citizen of a Greek city. The Church from the 
beginning was able to speak to the larger world. 

One difficulty might possibly have arisen. The Christian mission 
was not carried on merely by the oral word. From the beginning 
Christianity was a religion with a Book. And that Book was not 
Greek. On the contrary it was intensely un-Grecian. The Old 
Testament is intolerant of heathen ideas. It is deeply rooted in 
the life of the chosen people. How could a Hebrew book be used 
in the Greek world? 

The difficulty might have been serious. But in the providence of 
God it had been overcome. The Old Testament was a Hebrew 
book, but before the Christian era it had been translated into Greek. 
From the beginning Christianity was provided with a Greek Bible. 
It is always difficult to make a new translation of the Bible. Every 
missionary knows that. The introduction of a new translation 
takes time. It was fortunate, then, that a Greek-speaking Church 
had a Greek Bible ready to hand. 

Everything was prepared for the gospel. God's time had come. 
Roman rule had brought peace. Greek culture had produced 
unity of speech. There was a Greek world, there were Greek- 
speaking missionaries, and there was a Greek Bible. In the first 
century, the salvation that was of the Jews could become a salva- 
tion for the whole world. 

3. THE PAPYRI 

The world in which the gospel was proclaimed is deserving of 
careful study. How shall it be investigated? 

The most obvious way is to study the literature of the period. 
Until recent years that was almost the only way. But that method 
is partial at best. For literature is after all but an imperfect measure 
Sen. t. m. 1. 



1 8 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

of any age. The society that is found in books is an idealized 
society, or at any rate it is the society of the great. The plain 
man is unrecorded. His deeds are not deemed worthy of a place 
in history. 

Within the last thirty years, however, the plain people of the 
ancient world have come remarkably into view. They are revealed 
to us in the "non-literary papyri." 

"Papyri" are pieces of papyrus. Papyrus was the common 
writing material of antiquity up to about A. D. 300, when vellum, 
or parchment, came into general use. Unfortunately papyrus, 
which was made from the pith of the papyrus plant, is not a very 
durable substance, so that ancient papyri have been preserved until 
modern times only under exceptionally favorable conditions. These 
conditions are found in Egypt, where the dry climate has kept the 
papyrus from disintegration. 

In Egypt, within the last thirty years, have been discovered 
large numbers of papyrus sheets with Greek writing. Of these the 
"literary papyri" contain simply parts of books. They differ 
from other copies of the works in question only in that they are 
usually older than the vellum manuscripts. The "non-literary 
papyri," on the other hand, are unique. They are private docu- 
ments of all sorts — receipts, petitions, wills, contracts, census 
returns, and most interesting of all, private letters. It was usually 
not intended that these documents should be preserved. They 
were simply thrown away upon rubbish heaps or used as wrappings 
of mummies. They have been preserved only by chance. 

The non-literary papyri are important first of all in the study of 
language. They exhibit the language of everyday life, as dis- 
tinguished from the language of literature. The language of 
literature always differs more or less from the language used on 
the street, and the difference was particularly wide in the Greek of 
the Hellenistic period. The books of the time were modeled to 
a considerable extent upon the ancient classics, but the actual spoken 
language had been changing. Hence the literary language had 
become exceedingly artificial. 

Up to within the last few years, the literary language alone could 
be studied. The books of the period were preserved, but the 
language of daily life was gone. Now, however, the papyri supply 
what was lacking. In them there is no attempt at style. They 
are composed in the language which was employed in the ordinary 
affairs of life and preserve the actual spoken language of every day. 



THE GREEK BACKGROUND OF CHRISTIANITY 19 

At this point a remarkable fact must be noticed. The language 
of the New Testament is more like the language of the non-literary 
papyri than it is like the language of contemporary literature. 
The papyri indicate, therefore, that the New Testament is com- 
posed in the natural living language of the time rather than accord- 
ing to the canons of an artificial rhetoric. The artlessness of the 
New Testament has sometimes been regarded as a reproach. 
Instead, it is a cause for rejoicing. The simplicity of the gospel 
would only be concealed by niceties of style. The greatness of the 
New Testament is independent of literary art. It would be a 
mistake, however, to suppose that the New Testament, because it 
is composed in the language of the people, is characterized by 
anything like cheapness or vulgarity. On the contrary its simplic- 
ity is the noble simplicity of truth. In the New Testament the 
spoken language of the Greco-Roman world, in all its living 
freshness, becomes a worthy vehicle for the sublimest thoughts. 

The non-literary papyri, then, reproduce for us the spoken 
language of the time as distinguished from the artificial language 
of literature. But that does not exhaust their importance. They 
afford a knowledge not only of language, but also of life. Through 
them ordinary people are revealed in the ordinary relations of every 
day. In them, the ancient world has been made to live again. 

A few examples (see the book of Professor Milligan mentioned 
at the end of the lesson) will serve to indicate the character of 
the papyrus letters. 

The following boy's letter (of the second or the third century 
alter Christ) is written in very bad grammar, but is for that reason 
all the more lifelike. (The translation is taken from Grenfell and 
Hunt, "Oxyrhynchus Papyri," Part i., p. 186.) 

"Theon to his father Theon, greeting. It was a fine thing of 
you not to take me with you to the city! If you won't take me 
with you to Alexandria I won't write you a letter or speak to you 
or say good-by to you ; and if you go to Alexandria I won't take your 
hand nor ever greet you again. That is what will happen if you 
won't take me. Mother said to Archalaus, Tt quite upsets him 
to be left behind (?).' It was good of you to send me presents . . . 
on the 12th, the day you sailed. Send me a lyre, I implore you. 
If you don't, I won't eat, I won't drink; there now!" 

The following invitation to dinner, of the second century after 
Christ, throws light upon I Corinthians (the translation taken 
from Professor Milligan): 



20 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

"Antonius, son of Ptolemaeus, invites you to dine with him at the 
table of the lord Serapis in the house of Claudius Serapion on the 
16th at 9 o'clock." 

"The lord Serapis" is a god. Even an ordinary dinner party 
seems thus to be regarded as the table of Serapis. Under such 
conditions the Christian life must have been hard to lead. No 
wonder the Corinthian Christians had to ask Paul questions. Even 
the ordinary affairs of life were intimately connected with a false 
religion. What should the attitude of the Christians be? Where 
should they draw the line in associating with their heathen friends? 

4. A REAL GOSPEL IN A REAL WORLD 

The people that are introduced to us so intimately in the papyri 
are probably very fair representatives of the people among whom 
the gospel was first proclaimed. In that cosmopolitan age the 
society of Egyptian towns was probably not so very different from 
that of Corinth. The people of the papyri are not the great men of 
the time; they are just plain folk. But the early Christians were 
also usually not of exalted social position, though there were ex- 
ceptions. "Not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not 
many noble" were called. I Cor. 1 : 26. Many of the early Chris- 
tians were slaves, many were humble tradesmen. The same classes 
appear in the papyri. In the papyri we are introduced into the 
private lives of the men to whom the gospel was proclaimed. 
Seeing, but unseen, hidden as by a magic cap, we watch them in 
their most intimate affairs. And we come away with a new feeling 
of the reality of early Christian history. These men were not so 
very different from ourselves. They were real men and women, 
living in a real world. And they needed a real gospel. 



In the Library. — Hastings, " Dictionary of the Bible," extra vol- 
ume: Ramsay, article on " Religion of Greece," pp. 109-156, especially 
PP- I 35 _I 56. Milligan, "Selections from the Greek Papyri," (with 
translations). Deissmann, "The Philology of the Greek Bible," pp. 
1-63, 144-147. Ramsay, "The Cities of St. Paul," pp. 1-47. Brown- 
ing, " Cleon," (vol. iv, pp. 1 15-122 of the Riverside Edition.) 



LESSON IV 

THE JEWISH BACKGROUND OF CHRISTIANITY 

I. PALESTINIAN JUDAISM 



1. SOURCES 

The New Testament is one of the chief sources of information 
about the Palestinian Judaism of the first century. Other im- 
portant sources are the works of Josephus, a first-century Jewish 
historian, and the Mishna. The Mishna is a collection of Jewish 
interpretations of the Mosaic law. In its written form it is thought 
to have been produced at the end of the second century, but it 
contains a mass of earlier material which had been preserved by 
oral tradition. 

2. OUTLINE OF JEWISH HISTORY 

After the conclusion of the Old Testament period the Jewish 
nation had undergone important changes. If, therefore, the 
Judaism of the first century is to be understood, the student must 
have in mind at least a bare outline of the history between the 
Testaments. 

Old Testament history closes with the rebuilding of the walls 
of Jerusalem and the reorganization of the national life which took 
place under Ezra and Nehemiah in the fifth century before 
Christ. At that time Judah, or "Judea," was the only part of 
Palestine which was occupied by the Jews, and they occupied it 
only as vassals — though with independence in internal affairs — 
of the kings of Persia. 

The Persian dominion continued for over a century. Then, 
in the latter part of the fourth century before Christ, Judea was 
conquered by Alexander the Great. For some hundred years after 
the death of Alexander, the country was a bone of contention 
between the kings of Egypt and the kings of Syria — that is, between 
the Ptolemies and the Seleucids. At the beginning of the second 
century before Christ the king of Syria won a permanent victory. 

Under the Ptolemies and at first under the Seleucids, as well a s 
under the Persians, the Jews enjoyed a considerable measure of 
independence in the management of their own affairs. Their re. 

2\ 



22 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

ligion, in particular, was left quite unmolested. But the assimila- 
tion which was not being accomplished by force was being accom- 
plished by peaceful influences. The all-pervasive Greek culture 
of the period was making itself felt in Palestine as well as elsewhere. 
Judea seemed to be in danger of being Hellenized. 

Under the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria (175-164 B. C.), 
however, the policy of toleration was suddenly interrupted. Anti- 
ochus tried to stamp out the Jewish religion by force. The result 
was a heroic uprising led by Mattathias and his sons, who are called 
the Maccabees. The tyranny of Antiochus had caused a mighty 
popular reaction against the Hellenizing party among the Jews. 
Devotion to the religion of Israel with exclusion of foreign influences 
was ever afterwards the dominant tendency in Jewish history. 

The Maccabees were at first wonderfully successful against over- 
whelming odds; and when the opposing forces seemed at last to 
have become too powerful, internal conflicts at the Syrian court 
gave the Jewish patriots that independence which they could 
probably not otherwise have maintained. Rulers belonging to the 
Maccabean dynasty governed the Jewish nation for about a 
hundred years, during most of which period they were independent. 
Their territory at first embraced only Judea, but was gradually 
enlarged over the other parts of Palestine. Galilee, which — since 
the*destruction of the northern Israelitish kingdom centuries be- 
fore — had become predominantly Gentile, was Judaized under 
Aristobulus I in 104-103 B. C. Before the time of Christ it had 
become thoroughly Jewish. 

Unfortunately the worldly power of the Maccabees had brought 
worldliness of spirit. The first revolt had been undertaken from 
a lofty religious motive, in order to maintain the worship of Jehovah. 
As the years went on, the Maccabean rulers became increasingly 
engrossed in the extension of political power. Allying themselves 
with the aristocratic party among the Jews, they came to favor 
the extension of those Greek influences — though not in the sphere 
of religion — which at first they had opposed. Under Queen Alex- 
andra (76-67 B. C.) it is true, there was a reaction. The strictly 
Jewish, anti-Hellenistic party again became dominant. But under 
Alexandra's successors there was civil strife, and the all-conquering 
Romans found the country an easy prey. Pompey took possession 
of Jerusalem in 63 B. C. 

The years that followed saw the gradual rise of the family of 
Herod the Great, who, as vassal of the Romans, became king of all 



THE JEWISH BACKGROUND OF CHRISTIANITY 23 

Palestine in 37 B. C. and ruled until 4 B. C. Herod was an 
Idumsean, not a genuine Jew. Idumaea, however, the country 
to the south of Judah, had been Judaized some time before. Herod 
was at heart a Hellenist. He built Greek theaters and amphi- 
theaters not only in the numerous Greek cities in or near Palestine, 
but also in Jerusalem itself. Nevertheless he was wise enough to 
support the Jewish religion and generally to respect the customs of 
the people. His magnificent rebuilding of the temple was probably 
intended chiefly to win popular favor. 

At Herod's death, his territory was divided among his sons. 
Archelaus was given Judea, Antipas — the "Herod" of Jesus' 
public ministry — received Galilee and Perea, with the title of "Te- 
trarch," and Philip received certain territories to the east of Galilee. 
Archelaus was banished in A. D. 6, Antipas was banished in A. D. 
39, and Philip died in A. D. 33. After the banishment of Archelaus, 
Judea was administered by Roman procurators till A. D. 41, when 
all Palestine was given to Herod Agrippa I. Acts 12 : 1-4, 
18-23. After A. D. 44, procurators were again in control. 

The misgovernment of the procurators led to the great revolt 
in A. D. 66. After four years of war, Jerusalem was taken by the 
Roman army in A. D. 70. The temple was destroyed, and the 
offering of sacrifices ceased. The destruction of the temple marks 
an epoch in Jewish history. Henceforth the national center was 
gone. 

There was another uprising in A. D. 132-135, but that was the 
last. A Gentile city was erected on the ruins of Jerusalem, and 
for a considerable time at least the Jews were forbidden even to 
enter its precincts. 

3. ADMINISTRATION AND PARTIES 

After the return from the Exile, the priests occupied a position 
of leadership. The high priest, whose office was hereditary, was 
practically head of the Jewish state. With him was associated a 
council, composed of members of the priestly aristocracy. This 
state of affairs prevailed during the Persian and Greek periods. 
Under the Maccabees the power of the high priest reached its 
highest point. For after a time the Maccabean rulers themselves 
assumed the title of high priest, and still later the title of king. 
The high priest, then, under the Maccabees, was also king. Under 
Herod the Great, on the contrary, the high priesthood sank to its 
lowest ebb. Herod made and unmade high priests at pleasure. 



24 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

The council associated with the high priest was, under Alexandra, 
opened to the members of the strict anti-Hellenistic party. At the 
time of Christ it included both Pharisees and Sadducees. 

These parties became distinct at the time of the Maccabees. 
The Sadducees — the origin of the name is not altogether clear — 
were the aristocratic party, hospitable to Greek culture. The 
Pharisees were the strict Jewish party, devoted to the law, and 
opposed to foreign influences. The name "Pharisee" means 
"separated." The Pharisees were "separated" from the mass 
of the people by a stricter observance of the Mosaic law. At first 
the Pharisees supported the Maccabean leaders; for the Maccabean 
revolt was in the interests of the Jewish religion. But when the 
Maccabees became engrossed in worldly politics and susceptible 
to Greek influences the Pharisees opposed them. At the time of 
Christ the essential characteristics of the parties remained un- 
changed. 

4. LANGUAGE 

Some centuries before Christ, Hebrew had ceased to be the 
ordinary language of Palestine. As the language of the Old 
Testament it continued to be studied. Old Testament passages 
in Hebrew were read in the synagogue. Hebrew was used also to 
some extent as the language of learned discussion. But for all 
ordinary purposes its place had been taken by Aramaic, a language 
of the Semitic family closely related to Hebrew. At the time of 
Christ Aramaic was the spoken language of the Palestinian Jews. 
Even in the synagogues, the Old Testament passages, after having 
been read in Hebrew, were translated orally into the language which 
the people could understand. 

But, since the time of Alexander the Great, another language had 
made its way into Palestine along with Aramaic. This was 
the Greek. The kingdoms into which Alexander's empire was 
divided were Greek kingdoms. Two of them, Syria and Egypt, 
bore rule alternately over Palestine. With the Greek government 
came Greek culture and the Greek language. Then, under Anti- 
ochus Epiphanes, there was a mighty reaction. Thereafter religion, 
at least, was kept altogether free from Greek influences. 

In other spheres, however, under the Maccabean kings and 
still more under the Romans, Greek culture effected an entrance. 
At the time of Christ there were typical Greek cities not only to 
the east of the Jordan in Decapolis, where magnificent ruins even 
to-day attest the ancient Greco-Roman civilization, and not only 



THE JEWISH BACKGROUND OF CHRISTIANITY 25 

along the coast of the Mediterranean, but even within the confines 
of Palestine proper. With some truth Palestine in the first century 
may be called a bilingual country. Greek and Aramaic were both 
in use. 

Aramaic was the language of the mass of the people. Many, 
no doubt, could speak no other language. But if a man desired 
to make his way in the world in any public capacity or in trade he 
would be obliged to learn the cosmopolitan language of the time. 
No doubt very many could speak both languages. 

Jesus and his apostles belonged to those circles which were 
least affected by the encroachments of Greek civilization. The 
whole atmosphere of the Gospels is as un-Greek as could be imagined. 
As is proved by the presence of Aramaic words even in our Greek 
Gospels, Aramaic was undoubtedly the language in which the gospel 
was originally proclaimed. Aramaic was the language of Jesus' 
boyhood home, and Aramaic was the language of his intercourse 
with the disciples and of his public preaching. 

It is perfectly possible, however, that even Jesus may have used 
Greek upon rare occasions, for example in conversation with Pilate, 
the Roman procurator. His disciples, after the resurrection, found 
themselves at the head of a Greek-speaking community. The early 
Church in Jerusalem was composed not only of ''Hebrews," but 
also of "Grecians," or Hellenists. Acts 6:1. The Hellenists 
were Greek-speaking Jews of the dispersion who were sojourning 
more or less permanently in the holy city. The apostles seem to 
have entered upon their new functions without difficulty. Some 
knowledge of Greek, no doubt, all of them brought with them 
from their Galilean homes, and their knowledge would be increased 
through practice. It is not surprising then that several of the 
original apostles and two of the brothers of Jesus were the authors 
of Greek books of the New Testament. 



In the Library. — Riggs, "A History of the Jewish People," espe- 
cially pp. 105-116, 143-153, 215-231. Davis, "Dictionary of the 
Bible": articles on "Council," "Pharisees," "Sadducees," "Synagogue," 
" School," " Scribe," "Aramaic," and " Hebrew." The outline of Jew- 
ish history and institutions which is provided in the lesson helps for 
this lesson and the following is dependent especially upon the large 
German work of Schiirer. 



LESSON V 

THE JEWISH BACKGROUND OF CHRISTIANITY 

II. THE JUDAISM OF THE DISPERSION 



The presentation of the lesson in class may be begun somewhat 
in the manner suggested in the Student's Text Book. The student 
should be made to appreciate the practical problem of a missionary 
in a new city. Various solutions of the problem may be adopted. 
The missionary may simply engage in conversation with individuals 
in the street, or he may hire a room and advertise his preaching. 
In any case the securing of an audience is usually no easy matter. 
It is difficult to know how to begin. 

The case might naturally have been the same with Paul and his 
companions when, for example, after the journey up from Perga 
they arrived at Pisidian Antioch. Complete strangers were 
perhaps not much better received in those days than they are now. 
How could the missionaries get a hearing for their message? In 
some cases, they might simply take their stand in the market place 
and talk to the passers-by. Paul tried that method in Athens. 
It might do when nothing better offered. But fortunately there 
was usually a far better opportunity. The synagogue offered an 
audience. What is more, it offered just exactly the most promising 
audience that could possibly have been secured. 

The scene in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch is typical of 
what happened again and again. The student should be made 
to appreciate the remarkable liberality and informality of the 
synagogue customs. There seem to have been no set preachers. 
Any Jew who really had a message could be heard. He needed 
only to go in and sit down. Acts 13 : 14. Paul and Barnabas 
had no difficulty in making their fitness known. "Brethren," said 
the rulers of the synagogue, "if ye have any word of exhortation 
for the people, say on." Acts 13 : 15. They had a word of ex- 
hortation indeed. "Jesus is the Messiah for whom you are waiting. 
He has died for your sins. He has risen from the dead, and is 
now alive to save you." It was a powerful word, and it bore fruit. 

The native Jews, it is true, soon came out in opposition. The 

26 



THE JEWISH BACKGROUND OF CHRISTIANITY 2J 

reasons for their opposition are not far to seek. Jealousy was an 
important factor. Christianity was evidently too radical a thing 
to be simply a sect of Judaism. If allowed to continue, it would 
destroy the prerogatives of Israel. It could not be controlled. 
Its success was too great. On that next Sabbath in Pisidian 
Antioch, "almost the whole city was gathered together to hear 
the word of God." The Jewish mission had never had a success 
like that. "When the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled 
with jealousy." Christianity had taken away the heritage of 
Israel. 

In one way the Jewish opposition displayed genuine insight into 
the situation. Christianity was really destined to be a fatal rival 
to the older Judaism. What took place on a small scale at Antioch 
was repeated on the larger stage of history. When the Christian 
mission began, Judaism was a successful missionary religion. Soon 
afterwards it had withdrawn hopelessly into its age-long isolation. 
Various causes contributed to this result. The destruction of the 
national life in Palestine and the increasing influence of the strict 
rabbinical schools both had an important part. But at least one 
factor in the process was the competition of the Christian Church. 
Christianity offered the world everything that Judaism could offer, 
and more. It offered the knowledge of the one God, and the lofty 
morality, and the authoritative Book. In addition, it offered a 
way of redemption — and the men of that time were preeminently 
seekers after redemption — through the sacrifice of Christ. It 
offered all these things, moreover, without requiring any relinquish- 
ment of purely national characteristics. Christianity did not de- 
mand union with any one race. It had a gospel for the world. 

No wonder, then, that those who had been attracted by Judaism 
now became adherents of Christianity. The Jews were filled with 
envy. It was natural from their point of view, but it was a sad 
mistake. Had they themselves accepted the gospel, the gospel 
would have been to their glory. How glorious was the mission of 
Israel! A blessing to the whole world! Far better than any 
narrow particularism! But they were not willing to accept the 
message. Nevertheless, despite their opposition, the Church 
should not forget the debt which she owes to Israel. The dispersion 
was like the J udaism of Palestine. I n both cases the men themselves 
were opposed to the gospel. But in boch cases they had preserved 
the deposit of divine truth. Judaism, despite itself, opened the 
way for the Christian Church. 



$8 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

One service which the dispersion rendered to Christianity has 
been illustrated by the scene at Pisidian Antioch. That service 
was the providing of an audience. Another service "was the assur- 
ance of legal protection. This may be illustrated by another 
incident in The Acts — the appeal to Gallio. Acts 18 : 12-17. 
There the opposition of the Jews appears in all its bitterness. No 
doubt that opposition was a serious hindrance to the work of the 
Church. Just because Christianity was regarded as a Jewish sect, 
the Christians were subject to persecution by the Jewish authorities. 
But persecutions by the Jews, annoying though they were, were 
far less serious than opposition on the part of the Roman authorities. 
And the latter was, at first, conspicuously absent* Gallio's deci- 
sion is a fair example of the general attitude of the Roman 
magistrates. Christianity, as a Jewish sect, was allowed to go its 
way. Judaism, despite itself, afforded the Church legal protection. 

Beginning with these two striking scenes, the teacher may 
proceed to the more general presentation of the lesson. In what 
follows, the outline of the Student's Text Book will be supple- 
mented at one or two points. 

1. THE CAUSES AND EXTENT OF THE DISPERSION 

Deportations of Jews to foreign countries took place at various 
times. The most famous of those deportations was carried out 
by Nebuchadnezzar after his conquest of Judah, about 600 B. C. 
Many of Nebuchadnezzar's captives did not join in the return under 
the Persian monarchy, but remained permanently in the east and 
formed the nucleus of the large Jewish population of Mesopotamia. 
When Pompey conquered Palestine in the first century before 
Christ, he carried many Jews as slaves to Rome. Afterwards they 
were liberated, and formed a large Jewish colony at the capital of 
the empire. These are merely examples. Part of the dispersion 
was due to forcible exile. 

Other causes have been mentioned in the Student's Text Book. 
It is a question, however, whether all of these causes combined are 
sufficient to account for the extraordinary growth of the dispersion. 
Schurer believes that the vastness of the Jewish population presup- 
poses the merging of large bodies of proselytes into the Jewish 
people. He also believes, however, that these thoroughgoing con- 
versions were less numerous in New Testament times than they 
had been before. 

Harnack calculates that at the time of the death of Augustus 



THE JEWISH BACKGROUND OF CHRISTIANITY 29 

there were from four million to four and a half million Jews in 
the Roman Empire, including about seven hundred thousand in 
Palestine, and that, if that estimate be correct, then the Jews 
formed perhaps some seven per cent of the total population. Of 
course, Harnack is himself the first to admit that such calcula- 
tions are exceedingly uncertain. But so much at least is clear — 
the Jews in the first century were surprisingly numerous. 

2. THE SEPTUAGINT TRANSLATION AND THE LANGUAGE OF 
THE NEW TESTAMENT 

The name "Septuagint," derived from the Latin word for 
"seventy," has been applied to the Alexandrian translation of the 
Old Testament in reference to an ancient story about its origin. 
According to this story, the translation was made by seventy-two 
men summoned from Jerusalem by Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of 
Egypt, in order to add the Jewish law to the royal library at Alex- 
andria. The story is certainly not true in details, and is probably 
not even correct in representing the translation as destined primarily 
for the royal library. More probably the translation was intended 
for the Greek-speaking Jews of Egypt. 

The Septuagint is a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament 
into the Greek world language of the period, and into the popular, 
spoken form of that language, not into the literary form. The 
translation differs widely in character in the different books, for 
many different translators had a part in it. Some of the books are 
translated with such slavish literalness as to be almost unintelligible 
to a Greek. Everywhere, indeed, the influence of the Hebrew 
original makes itself felt to some degree. Hebrew idioms are often 
copied in the translation instead of being remolded according to the 
peculiarities of the Greek language. 

The Septuagint exerted an important influence upon the language 
of the New Testament. The Septuagint was the Greek Bible of 
the New Testament writers, and the influence of a Bible upon 
language is very strong. A good example is afforded by the influence 
of the King James Version upon the whole development of modern 
English. It is not surprising, therefore, that as the Septuagint 
was influenced by Hebrew, so the language of the New Testament 
also displays a Semitic coloring. That coloring was induced partly 
by the Septuagint, but it was also induced in other ways. Part of 
the New Testament, for example the words of Jesus, goes back 
ultimately to an Aramaic original. All the New Testament 



30 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

writers except one were Jews, and had spoken Aramaic as well as 
Greek. No wonder, then, that their Greek was influenced by the 
Semitic languages. This Semitic influence upon the language of 
the New Testament is not so great as was formerly supposed, but 
it cannot be ignored. The New Testament is written in the natural, 
non-literary form of the Greek world language. That is the main 
thing to be said. But upon this base is superposed an appreciable 
influence of Hebrew and Aramaic. 

The importance of the Septuagint for the early Christian mission 
was inestimable. Every pioneer missionary knows how difficult 
it is to create the vocabulary necessary to express new religious 
ideas. In the case of the earliest Christian mission, that labor had 
already been done. It had been done by the Jews of Alexandria. 
By the Septuagint, the great ideas of the Old Testament — and 
upon these ideas Christianity was based — had already been put 
into a Greek form. The Christian Church needed only to develop 
what had been begun. The Church made good use of her opportu- 
nity. The influence of the Septuagint upon the religious vocabulary 
of the New Testament writers was profound. The Septuagint had 
provided a vocabulary which was understood already by great 
masses of people — by the Jews of the dispersion and by the hosts 
of the "God-worshipers" who attended the synagogues. Naturally 
the Christian missionaries used the words which people could 
understand. 

3. CONCLUSION 

The Judaism of the dispersion was a wonderful preparation for 
the gospel. Israel ought to be regarded with gratitude and sym- 
pathy. But the ultimate object of gratitude is God. 

The Church was founded in a time of opportunity. The Roman 
Government had brought peace. The Greek language had welded 
the nations together. The dispersion of the Jews had prepared the 
way. These things did not come by chance. The nations were in- 
struments in the hand of God. But instruments for what? A 
mighty, age-long plan! Centuries of preparation! At last the 
Saviour came. But did he come for naught? Or is he Saviour 
of you and me? 



In the Library. — Edersheim (revised by White), "History of the 
Jewish Nation,"' pp. 45-79. "The Jewish Encyclopedia": Reinach, 
article on " Diaspora." Hastings, " Dictionary of the Bible ": Schiirer, 
article on " Diaspora," extra volume, pp. 91-109. 



LESSON VI 

THE MESSIAH 



The teaching of this lesson may be begun with Acts 2 : 17-21. 
Surely the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost was 
something new. Yet even that was explained by a reference to 
prophecy. And the reference is of remarkable aptness and beauty. 

The Pentecostal speech of Peter is full of the appeal to prophecy. 
Primarily, indeed, the claims of Jesus are supported by the direct 
testimony to his resurrection. Without the facts, of course appeal 
to prophecy would have been useless; for it was just the wonderful 
correspondence of the facts with the prophecies that could induce 
belief. Along with the direct testimony to the facts went the appeal 
to prophecy. The promised king of David's line at last has come. 
Acts 2 : 30; II Sam. 7 : 12, 13; Ps. 89 : 3, 4; 132 : 11. And 
David's son is David's Lord — David's Lord and ours. Acts 2 : 34, 
35; Ps. 110 : 1; compare Matt. 22 : 41-46. 

1. THE NEW TESTAMENT APPEAL TO PROPHECY 

This speech of Peter is typical of the preaching of the early 
Church. The appeal to prophecy was absolutely central in the 
presentation of the gospel. Proof of that fact does not need to be 
sought. It is written plain on the pages of the New Testament. 
Old Testament prophecy was found to apply not merely to one side 
of the work of Christ, but to all sides. Israel had looked not 
merely for a king, but also for a prophet and a priest. Peter, after 
his first arrest, for example, could appeal to the notable prophecy 
of Deuteronomy: "A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto 
you from among your brethren, like unto me." Acts 3 : 22; Deut. 
18 : 15, 19. The author of Hebrews could appeal to the priest 
after the order of Melchizedek, Heb. 5:6; Ps. 110 : 4, and to the 
symbolic sacrifices of the temple which found their fulfillment on 
Calvary. 

The appeal to prophecy extended even to those things which 
were most distinctive of the Christian message. "I delivered unto 
you first of all,'' says Paul, "that which also I received: that Christ 
died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was 

3i 



32 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according 
to the scriptures." I Cor. 15 : 3, 4. Here the death and the res- 
urrection of Christ are both declared to be according to the Scrip- 
tures. That means that they were the subject of prophecy. But 
the death and the resurrection of Christ were the fundamental 
elements of the gospel. The gospel, then, in the form of prophecy, 
is to be found in the Old Testament. 

What Old Testament passages has Paul here in mind? With re- 
gard to the death for our sins, the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah was 
probably in his mind. That passage was being read by the Ethio- 
pian when Philip met him, and Philip made the passage a basis for 
preaching about Jesus. Acts 8 : 27-35. With regard to the resur- 
rection, it is natural to think of Ps. 16 : 10. Paul himself quoted 
that passage in his speech at Pisidian Antioch. Acts 13 : 34-37. 

The appeal to prophecy did not begin with the apostles. It was 
initiated by Jesus himself. "To-day," said Jesus at Nazareth 
after the reading of Isa. 61 : 1, 2, "hath this scripture been fulfilled 
in your ears." A large claim! No wonder they found it 
difficult to accept. When John the Baptist asked, "Art thou he 
that cometh, or look we for another?" it was to "the works of the 
Christ" that Jesus appealed. Matt. 11 : 2-6; Isa. 35 : 5, 6; 61 : 1. 
These are merely examples. Throughout, Jesus represented him- 
self and his kingdom as the fulfillment of the ancient promise. 
"0 foolish men," he said to the disciples on the way to Emmaus, 
"and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 
Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into 
his glory? And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, 
he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning 
himself." Luke 24 : 25-27. 

2. THE MESSIANIC HOPE A PREPARATION FOR THE GOSPEL 

When the gospel was preached to pure Gentiles, a great deal 
of preliminary labor had to be done. Under what title should the 
claims of the Saviour be presented? "Christ" to the Gentiles was 
almost meaningless, till explained. "Son of God" was open to sad 
misconception. There were "sons of God" in Greek mythology, 
but they were not what the early Christians meant to show that 
Jesus was. These difficulties were overcome, and speedily. Gentile 
Christians were imbued with a lofty and adequate conception of 
the Lord. The labor was great, but it was gloriously accomplished. 

In this labor, however, the missionaries were assisted by the 



THE MESSIAH 33 

synagogues of the Jews. In the synagogues, " Christ" was no 
new term, and no new conception. In the synagogues, one prop- 
osition needed first to be proved, " This Jesus ... is the 
Christ." Acts 17 : 3. If that were proved, then the rest would 
follow. The Jews knew that the Messiah was Lord and Master. 
Identify Jesus with him, and all the lofty claims of Jesus would be 
substantiated. How the identity was established may be observed 
in the speech of Peter on the day of Pentecost, or in the speech of 
Paul at Pisidian Antioch. Acts 13 : 16-43. 

It will be remembered that the synagogues attracted not merely 
Jews but also Gentiles. The Gentile "God-fearers," as well as 
the Jews, were acquainted with the Messianic hope. Even the 
Gentile mission, therefore, was prepared for by the prophets of 

Israel. 

3. THE PERMANENT VALUE OF PROPHECY 

The appeal to prophecy, however, was not merely valuable to 
the early Church. It is of abiding worth. It represents Jesus as 
the culmination of a divine purpose. The hope of Israel was in 
itself a proof of revelation, because it was so unlike the religious 
conceptions of other nations. The covenant people, the righteous 
king, the living God, the world-wide mission — that is the glory of 
Israel. The promise is itself a proof. But still more the fulfill- 
ment. The fulfillment was an unfolding. Wonderful corres- 
pondence in detail — and far more wonderful the correspondence of 
the whole! The promise was manifold. Sometimes the Messiah 
is in the foreground. Sometimes he is out of sight. Sometimes 
there is a human king, sometimes Jehovah himself coming to judg- 
ment; sometimes a kingdom, sometimes a new covenant in the 
heart; sometimes a fruitful Canaan, sometimes a new heaven and 
a new earth. But manifold though the promise, Christ is the ful- 
fillment of it all. "How many soever be the promises of God," 
in Christ is the yea. II Cor. 1 : 20. There is the wonder. In 
Christ the apparent contradictions of the promise become glorious 
unity, in Christ the deeper mysteries of the promise are revealed. 
Christ the keystone of the arch! Christ the culmination of a 
divine plan! That is the witness of the prophets. It is a witness 
worth having. 

4. THE MESSIANIC HOPE OF LATER JUDAISM 

After the close of the Old Testament, the promise did not die. 
It was preserved in the Scriptures. It continued to be the life of 
Sen. t. in. 1. 



34 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

the Jewish nation. But it was not only preserved. It was also 
interpreted. Some of the interpretation was false, but much of 
it was true. The Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament 
promise is worthy of attention. What did the Jews of the first 
century mean by the Messiah, and what did they mean by the 
Messianic age? 

In the first place, they retained the hope of a king of David's 
line — a human king who should conquer the enemies of Israel. 
When it was held in a one-sided form this was a dangerous hope. 
It led logically to materialistic conceptions of the kingdom of God 
and to political unrest. It led to the effort of the Jews to take 
Jesus by force and make him a king. John 6 : 15. It led to the 
quarrel of the disciples about the chief places in the kingdom. 
Matt. 18 : 1-4; Mark 9 : 33-35; Luke 9 : 46, 47. This conception 
of the Messiah had to be corrected by Jesus. "My kingdom is not 
of this world." John 18 : 36. 

Yet even where the Messiah was conceived of as an earthly 
ruler, the spiritual hope was by no means always and altogether 
lost. The "Psalms of Solomon," for example, Pharisaic psalms of 
the first century before Christ, though they look for an earthly 
ruler, picture him as one who shall rule in righteousness. "And a 
righteous king and taught of God is he that reigneth over them; 
And there shall be no iniquity in his days in their midst, for all shall 
be holy and their king is the Lord Messiah" (Ps. Sol. xvii, 35, 36. 
See Ryle and James, "Psalms of the Pharisees," especially pp. 137- 
147). No iniquity in the days of the Messiah! That is true under- 
standing of the Old Testament, even joined with the political ideal. 

In the second place, however, the Messianic age is sometimes in 
later Judaism conceived of as purely supernatural. The Messiah 
is not an earthly ruler, merely helped by God, but himself a heavenly 
being, a preexistent "Son of Man," judge of all the earth. The 
Messianic age is ushered in not by human warfare, but by a mighty 
catastrophic act of God. Not a liberated Canaan is here the ideal, 
but a new heaven and a new earth. 

This transcendental, super naturalistic form of the Messianic 
hope appears in the "Book of Enoch" and other "apocalypses." 
Its details are fantastic, but it was by no means altogether wrong. 
In many respects it was a correct interpretation of the divine 
promise. The new heavens and the new earth are derived from 
Isa. 65 : 17. The doctrine of the two ages was accepted by Jesus 
and by Paul— for example Matt. 12 : 32; Gal. 1 : 4; Eph. 1 : 21. 



THE MESSIAH 35 

The heavenly "Son of Man" goes back to Dan. 7 : 13, 14. The 
Book of Enoch was not altogether wrong. Its use of the title 
"Son of Man" prepared for the title which Jesus used. 

Finally, the Messianic hope was held in a pure and lofty form by 
the "poor of the land" — simple folk like those who appear in the 
first two chapters of Luke. In the hymns of Mary and Zacharias 
and Simeon, purely political and materialistic conceptions are in 
the background, and the speculations of the apocalypses do not 
appear. The highest elements of prophecy are made prominent. 
"For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared 
before the face of all peoples; a light for revelation to the Gentiles, 
and the glory of thy people Israel." Luke 2 : 30-32. In those 
circles, the hope of Israel burned still and pure. 

Later Judaism thus preserved the manifoldness of prophecy. 
There was exaggeration and there was one-sidedness; but in Juda- 
ism as a whole the promise was preserved. One element at most 
was forgotten — the suffering servant and his sacrificial death. 
The death of the Messiah was no easy conception. The disciples 
had difficulty with it. When Peter heard of it, he took Jesus, and 
began to rebuke him. Matt. 16 : 22. The lesson was not easy, 
but it had to be learned. And it was worth learning. The cross is 
the heart of the gospel. 

Thus in Jesus nothing was left out, except what was false. 
The whole promise was preserved. The revealer of God, the ruler 
of the kingdom, the great high priest, the human deliverer, the 
divine Lord — these are the elements of the promise. They find 
their union in Christ. Leave one out, and the promise is mutilated. 
Such mutilation is popular to-day. The whole Christ seems too 
wonderful. But the Church can be satisfied with nothing less. 



In the Library. — Beecher, "The Prophets and the Promise," pp. 
173-420. 



LESSON VII 
THE BOOK OF THE ACTS 



The teaching of the lesson may be begun with some very simple 
questions. If rightly put, they will open up a fresh way of looking 
at a New Testament book. The way will thus be prepared for 
considering the deeper elements of the lesson. If interest can be 
aroused in the book itself, the contents of the book, in the lessons 
which follow, will be studied with much livelier attention. 

1. AUTHORSHIP 

Who wrote the book of The Acts? How do you know? The 
former question will probably be answered without difficulty, but 
the latter may reveal difference of opinion. Many of the students 
will know that The Acts was written by the same man as the Gospel 
of Luke. But that does not settle the question. How do you know 
that Luke was written by Luke? The name does not occur in the 
Gospel itself. The title, ''According to Luke," was probably 
added later. So, in order to determine the authorship both of 
Luke and of The Acts, recourse must be had to Christian tradition. 

Fortunately, however, tradition in this case is quite unimpeach- 
able. 

In the first place, although the author of The Acts is not named 
in the book, yet the book is not an anonymous work. Undoubtedly 
the name of the author was known from the beginning. For the 
book is dedicated to an individual, Theofhilus. Evidently 
Theophilus knew who the author was. Information about the 
author could thus be had from the start. If, therefore, Luke 
did not really write The Acts, some one has removed the name 
of the true author and substituted "Luke" in place of it. That 
is an exceedingly unlikely supposition. 

In the second place, it is evident quite independently of any 
tradition that the book was written by an eyewitness of part of 
Paul's missionary journeys. This fact appears from the so-called 
"we-sections" of the book. In certain portions of the narrative 
the author uses the first person instead of the third. Of this pe- 

36 



THE BOOK OF THE ACTS 37 

culiarity there is only one satisfactory explanation. The author 
uses the first person when he is describing the experiences in which 
he himself had a part. When, for example, the author says, not, 
"They made a straight course to Samothrace," but "We made a 
straight course," Acts 16 : 11, he means that he was present on 
that voyage. This natural supposition is confirmed by the char- 
acter of the "we-sections." These sections are full of such a wealth 
of artless detail that no one but an eyewitness could possibly have 
written them. 

The only possible way of avoiding the conclusion that a com- 
panion of Paul wrote the book of The Acts is to maintain that 
although such a man wrote the "we-sections" some one else wrote 
the rest of the book. But that is unlikely in the extreme. If a later 
author had been simply using as a source a diary of a companion 
of Paul, he would surely either have told us he was quoting, or else 
have changed the first person to the third. By leaving the third 
person in he would simply have been producing nonsense. Everyone 
knew who the author of the book was. The book is dedicated to 
a definite man. The author evidently could not have palmed him- 
self off as a companion of Paul even if he would. And if he desired 
to do it, he would not have chosen this remarkable way of doing 
it. Of course if he had been a mere thoughtless compiler he might 
have copied his source with such slavish exactness as to leave the 
"we" in without noticing that in the completed work it would 
produce nonsense. But he was most assuredly not a mere com- 
piler. If he used sources, he did not use them that way. The book 
shows a remarkable unity of style. Modern research has demon- 
strated that fact beyond peradventure. There is a remarkable 
similarity of style between the "we-sections" and the rest of the 
book. Only one hypothesis, then, does justice to the facts. The 
author of the "we-sections" was also the author of the whole book. 
When he comes to those parts of the narrative in which he himself 
had a part, he says very naturally "we," instead of "they." 

The book of The Acts, then, was written by a companion of 
Paul. That fact stands firm, even apart from any tradition. And 
that is the really important fact. If the book was written by an 
eyewitness, the particular name of the eyewitness is comparatively 
unimportant. But the tradition as to the name is without doubt 
correct. There is not the slightest reason for calling it in question. 
What the book of The Acts itself says about its author fits exactly 
what Paul says about Luke. 



38 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

2. DATE 

The authorship of The Acts is certain. The date, however, is 
not so clear. The book was written by Luke. But when was it 
written? The latter question cannot be answered with perfect pre- 
cision. At least, however, since the book was written by Luke, it 
must have been written during the lifetime of a companion of Paul. 
A. D. 100, for example, would be too late, and A. D. 90 would be un- 
likely. A good deal can be said for putting the date at about A.D. 
63. This early date would explain the abrupt ending of the book. 

One of the most curious things about The Acts is that the 
narrative is suddenly broken off just at the most interesting 
point. The trial of Paul is narrated at very great length, but we 
are not told how it came out. The final decision, the climax of 
the whole long narrative, is just at hand; but with regard to it 
we are left altogether in suspense. Was Paul released? Was he 
condemned and executed? The author does not say. His silence 
requires an explanation. 

The simplest explanation would be that Luke wrote his book 
at the very point of time where the narrative is broken off. Of 
course he could not tell us any more if nothing more had happened. 
He brought his narrative right up to date. Nothing more was 
possible. 

It is true, other explanations may be proposed. 

(a) It has been suggested, for example, that The Acts closes so 
abruptly because the author was saving something for another 
work. As The Acts is the continuation of the Gospel of Luke, 
so a third work, it is said, was planned as the continuation of The 
Acts. But even so, it seems rather strange that the author should 
not have given at least a hint of the outcome of that trial in order 
to take the edge off our curiosity. He has done something like 
that at the conclusion of his Gospel ; why not also at the conclusion 
of The Acts? 

(b) But perhaps the ending is not so abrupt as it looks. The 
author's purpose, it is said, was not to write a biography of Paul, 
but to show how the gospel spread from Jerusalem to Rome. When 
Rome was reached, then the narrative was broken off. Biographical 
details — even the most interesting details about the most interesting 
character — were ruthlessly excluded. The plan of the book had 
been accomplished. For this explanation there is much to be said. 
But the trouble with it is that especially in the latter part of the 
book the author as a matter of fact does show considerable interest in 



THE BOOK OF THE ACTS 39 

biographical details. The trial and shipwreck of Paul are narrated 
with a fullness which is quite out of proportion to the rest of the 
history. After such a full account of the trial, it remains rather 
strange that the author has said not a word about the outcome. 

Either of these last two explanations is perfectly possible. 
Possibly The Acts was written as late as A. D. 80. But theearly 
date at least explains the peculiar ending best of all. 

3. SOURCES 

Where did Luke get the materials for his work? Did he use 
written sources as well as oral information? The question has been 
discussed at very great length, but without much uniformity in 
the results. If he used written sources, at least he used them skill- 
fully, placing upon them the imprint of his own style. The book 
possesses genuine unity. 

The really important fact about the sources of the book of The 
Acts is a negative fact. Whatever the sources were, the Pauline 
epistles were not among them. Compare the passages where 
Paul and Luke narrate the same events — for example Gal., chs. 
1, 2, with the corresponding passages in The Acts — and it becomes 
evident that the two narratives are entirely independent. Luke 
did not use the Pauline epistles in writing his book. That is an 
exceedingly significant fact. It shows that The Acts is an in- 
dependent witness. What is more, it strengthens materially the 
argument for the early date of The Acts. The Pauline epistles 
at a very early time began to be collected and used generally in the 
Church. In A. D. 100, for example, they would certainly have 
been used by anyone who was writing an account of Paul's life. 
Since, therefore, the book of The Acts does not use them, that book 
must have been written earlier, and probably very much earlier. 
Even in A. D. 80, it would perhaps have been strange that the 
epistles should not have been used. 

4. PURPOSE 

The proper purpose of a historian is to tell the truth. And 
Luke was a genuine historian. His own account of his method, 
Luke 1 : 1-4, shows that he knew the meaning of historical research, 
and the character of his books bears this out. Luke did not permit 
any desire of putting Christianity in a good light, or of defending 
one kind of Christianity against another, to interfere with the pri- 
mary duty of truthfulness. 



40 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

That does not mean, however, that the book of The Acts is 
like some modern university dissertations — written simply and 
solely in order to say some new thing, whether interesting or no. 
No great historian goes to work that way, Of course Luke had an 
interest in his subject matter. Of course he was convinced that 
Christianity was a great thing, and was full of enthusiasm in 
narrating its history. In that he was perfectly right. Christianity 
really was a great thing. The best celebration of its greatness was 
a narration of the facts. Christian faith is based on fact. Luke 
wrote, not only in the Gospel but also in The Acts, in order that his 
readers might know the certainty concerning the things wherein 
they were instructed. Luke 1 : 4. 

5. LITERARY CHARACTERISTICS 

The author of The Acts was well acquainted with the Old Testa- 
ment. He was able to catch the spirit of the primitive Palestinian 
church. His books exhibit the influence of the Semitic languages. 
But he was also capable of a Greek style which would have passed 
muster in the schools of rhetoric. Luke 1 : 1-4, for example, is a 
typical Greek sentence. Evidently Luke could move with ease in 
the larger Greek world of his time. His references to political 
and social conditions are extraordinarily exact. His narrative is 
never lacking in local color. He knows the proper titles of the local 
officials, and the peculiar quality of the local superstitions. His 
account of the shipwreck is a mine of information about the sea- 
faring of antiquity. Evidently he was a keen observer, and a true 
traveler of a cosmopolitan age. His narrative is characterized by 
a certain delightful urbanity — an urbanity, however, which is 
deepened and ennobled by profound convictions. 



In the Library. — Warfield, "Acts, Timothy, Titus and Philemon," 
in "The Temple Bible," pp. i-xxvii. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": 
Purves, article on "Acts of the Apostles." Purves, "Christianity in 
the Apostolic Age," pp. 1-8. M'Clymont, "The New Testament and 
Its Writers," in "The Guild Text Books," pp. 41-46. Hastings, 
"Dictionary of the Bible": Headlam, article on "Acts of the Apostles." 



LESSON VIII 

THE CROSS AND THE RESURRECTION THE FOUNDATION 
OF APOSTOLIC PREACHING 



1. THE RESURRECTION A FACT OF HISTORY 

Which of the books of the New Testament contain the evidence 
for the resurrection of Jesus? That question will serve to begin 
the teaching of the lesson. In answer to it, the students will 
probably mention the four Gospels. To the Gospels, however, 
should be added especially the First Epistle to the Corinthians. 

The passage in First Corinthians is deserving of very careful 
attention. For, unlike the Gospels, that epistle can be dated to 
within a year or so. It was written only about twenty-five years 
after the crucifixion. Even though possibly some of the Gospels 
were written still earlier, the precision with which the epistle can 
be dated makes its witness particularly valuable. Furthermore, 
the author of the epistle is well known. No one doubts that 
First Corinthians was written by Paul, and Paul is the best-known 
man of apostolic times. Evidently his witness to the facts is of 
the utmost value. 

Paul himself was a direct witness of the resurrection. He saw 
the risen Lord. I Cor. 9:1; 15 : 8. In I Cor. 15 : 1-8, however, 
he does not content himself with his own witness, but reproduces 
the testimony of others in an extended list. That testimony had 
come to Paul by ordinary word of mouth. "I delivered unto you 
first of all," says Paul, "that which also I received." In what 
follows there is a list of the appearances of the risen Christ. "He 
appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to 
above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part 
remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to 
James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child 
untimely born, he appeared to me also." Evidently these appear- 
ances are not conceived of merely as "visions," but as events in the 
external world. The mention of the burial, v. 4, is a plain hint 
that what Peter and the rest saw was the body of Jesus raised 
from the tomb. 

41 



42 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

That view of the matter is amply confirmed in the Gospels and 
in the book of The Acts. In the Gospels, we are told that the tomb 
was found empty on the morning of the third day after the cruci- 
fixion. It was found empty by some women and by Peter and John. 
Since the tomb was empty, the body which appeared to the dis- 
ciples had some connection with the body which had been taken 
down from the cross. Furthermore, the Gospels and The Acts 
make the bodily character of the appearances abundantly plain. 
Jesus did not merely appear to the disciples at a distance. He 
walked with them on the road to Emmaus. He broke bread with 
them. He came into the very midst of them when they were 
assembled in a room. Thomas could even touch his hands and 
his side. These are merely examples. Clearly the testimony of 
the disciples is testimony not to mere spiritual experiences, but to 
the bodily presence of the Lord. It may be admitted that the body 
was a glorified body. After his resurrection Jesus was freed from 
the limitations of his earthly life. Nevertheless, he was not 
merely a "spirit." Luke 24 : 39. There was some real, though 
mysterious, connection between the glorified body and the body 
that had been laid in the tomb. The New Testament attests 
not merely the immortality of Jesus, but his resurrection. 

The resurrection, in these days, is hard to accept. For it is a 
miracle. Against any miracle there is a tremendous presumption. 
In this case, however, the presumption has been overcome. It has 
been overcome by the character of Jesus. It is in the highest 
degree unlikely that an ordinary man should rise from the dead; 
but it is not unlikely that Jesus should have risen. The resurrection 
is unique. But so is the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The two wonders 
support one another. Explain away the testimony to the resurrec- 
tion, and your task is not done. You must also explain away that 
sinless life. If Jesus rose from the dead he had a unique experience. 
But that is to be expected. For Jesus himself was unlike any other 
of the children of men. There are mysteries in his life that have 
never been explained. 

The resurrection of Jesus is a well-attested fact of history. The 
proof of it is cumulative. Any one of the proofs might be regarded 
as insufficient when taken alone, but when taken together they are 
overpowering. The sinless, unearthly character of Jesus separates 
him from the rest of men, so that probabilities which apply to 
others do not apply to him. His mysterious self-consciousness 
involves so lofty a claim, that if he was not divine he was a megalo- 



THE CROSS AND THE RESURRECTION 43 

maniac — he whose calmness and strength have left an impression 
which the centuries have done nothing to efface! The specific 
testimonies to the empty tomb and to the plain bodily appearances 
of the risen Lord are independent and varied. Finally, unless the 
resurrection be a fact, the very origin of the Christian Church 
becomes an insoluble mystery. The resurrection alone can explain 
the sudden transformation of a company of weak, discouraged men 
into the conquerors of the world. 

The resurrection of Jesus is a fact of history. It is not an 
aspiration of the heart. It comes ultimately through the testimony 
of the senses. The apostles came forward with a piece of plain 
information. They were witnesses to a fact in the external world. 
That fact has put a new face upon life. It is good news of salva- 
tion. 

2. THE RESURRECTION CONFIRMED BY EXPERIENCE 

The resurrection is a fact of history. Accept it as true, and 
you can have hope for time and for eternity. At this point, how- 
ever, some men experience a difficulty. How can the acceptance 
of a historical fact satisfy the longing of our souls? Must we stake 
our salvation upon the intricacies of historical research? Surely 
some more immediate certitude is required. 

The objection would be valid if history stood alone. But 
history does not stand alone. It has suffered from a false isolation. 
A Christian certitude that is founded solely upon history is in- 
sufficient. History is necessary, but not sufficient. We need 
history, but we need something else as well. 

A historical conviction of the resurrection of Jesus is not the end 
of faith, but only the beginning. If faith stops there, it will never 
stand the fires of criticism. We are told that Jesus lives. So 
much is a matter of testimony, a matter of history. If we believe 
the witness, then we can have hope. But the religious problem 
of our lives has not yet been solved. Jesus lives. But what good is 
it to us? If he lives, we need to find him. We need to find him, 
and we can find him. We accept the message of the resurrection 
enough to make trial of it. And making trial of it, we find that it 
is true. Jesus is found to be alive, for he makes answer to our 
prayer, and heals us. We never could have come to him unless 
we had accepted the historical evidence for the resurrection. But 
starting with that historical belief we went on to the blessed ex- 
perience of salvation. Christian experience cannot do without 



44 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

history. But it adds to history that directness, that immediate- 
ness, that simplicity of conviction, which delivers us from fear. 
We began with history. But we went on to experience. "Now 
we believe, not because of thy speaking: for we have heard for 
ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world." 

3. THE DEATH 

Jesus is alive. If we find him, he will heal us. But how shall 
we find him? In the New Testament we receive instruction. 

In the New Testament a strange fact stares us in the face. The 
New Testament seems far more concerned with the death of Jesus 
than with the details of his life. Learned men have tried in vain 
to explain that curious fact. In elaborate treatises they have 
sought the explanation. But it is really very simple. The New 
Testament emphasizes the death of Jesus because that is what 
Jesus did for us — or rather, coming after his perfect obedience to 
the law, it is the culmination of what he did for us. In the account 
of Jesus' life we are told what Jesus did for others. That account 
is absolutely necessary. Without it we should never have been in- 
terested in Jesus at all. But it is to us a means to an end, not an 
end in itself. We read in the Gospel what Jesus did for others. 
For one he placed his fingers in the ears and said, "Be opened"; 
to another he said, "Arise, take up thy bed, and walk"; to another, 
"Thy sins are forgiven." These things are what Jesus did for 
others. But what has he done for us? The answer of the 
New Testament is plain. For us he does not say, "Arise and 
walk." For us — he died. That mysterious thing which was 
wrought on Calvary — that was his work for us. The cross of 
Christ is a mystery. In the presence of it theology walks after 
all with but trembling, halting footsteps. Learning will never 
unlock its meaning. But to the penitent sinner, though mysterious, 
though full of baffling riddles, it is plain enough. On the cross 
Jesus dealt with our sin. Our dreadful guilt, the condemnation 
of God's law — it is wiped out by an act of grace. It seemed in- 
separable from us. It was a burden no earthly friend could bear. 
But Christ is Master of the innermost secrets of the moral world. 
He has accomplished the impossible, he has borne our sins. 

By the cross he has healed us. But through whom does he apply 
the healing touch? Through no one, save his Spirit. For he is 
here himself. If we are seekers for him, then this day our search 
is over. 



THE CROSS AND THE RESURRECTION 45 

The death of Christ, in the modern Church, is often subordinated. 
Exclusive emphasis is laid upon the holy example and teaching 
of the Galilean prophet. The modern theologians would be right if 
there were no such thing as sin. If there were no such thing as 
guilt, and if there were no such thing as a dreadful enslaving power 
of evil, then a noble ideal might be sufficient. But to talk about 
an ideal to a man under the thralldom of sin is a cruel mockery. 

Sin may indeed be glossed over. Let us make the best of our 
condition, we are told, let us do the best we can, let us simply 
trust in the all-conquering love of God. Dangerous advice! By 
it a certain superficial joy of life may be induced. But the joy 
rests upon an insecure foundation. It is dangerous to be happy 
on the brink of the abyss. Permanent joy can come only when 
sin has been faced honestly, and destroyed. It has been destroyed 
by the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

It is true that God is loving. He has manifested his love, how- 
ever, better than by complacency toward sin. He has manifested 
it by the gracious gift of a Saviour. 



In the Library. — Denney, "The Death of Christ." Orr, "The 
Resurrection of Jesus." Crawford, "The Doctrine of Holy Scripture 
Respecting the Atonement." 



LESSON IX 
THE BEGINNINGS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH 



The author of The Acts has given a wonderful picture of the early 
days of the Christian Church. The teacher should endeavor to 
present the picture before the mental vision of the class. History 
should not be studied merely as a dry record of events. The events 
should be seen as well as understood. They can be seen by what 
is called the historical imagination. The term ' 'imagination" 
often contains a suggestion of unreality. But that is a secondary 
use of the word. "Imagination" means "picturing." You can 
make a picture of what really happened as well as of what happened 
only in fiction. The historical imagination is a very important 
faculty in the student of the New Testament. In many persons 
it is almost wholly lacking. But fortunately it may be acquired. 

In the lessons that follow, great stress should be laid upon the 
simple memorizing of the course of events. Advanced study, or 
topical study, is useless unless it is based upon an orderly acquaint- 
ance with the contents of The Acts. History comes first — then 
the interpretation of the history. 

The dominant note in the early chapters of The Acts is the note 
of joy. After the three dark days of discouragement, after the 
quiet period of waiting, the life of the Church suddenly bursts 
forth with power. Everything is fresh and new. Difficulties and 
dangers have not yet emerged. Even persecution is lacking. The 
Church enjoys favor with the people. Thousands are converted 
in a day. 

1. THE GIFT OF TONGUES 

The gift of tongues, as it was exercised on the day of Pentecost, 
is not altogether an isolated phenomenon. It appears also else- 
where in The Acts, Acts 10 : 46; 19 : 6, though it may be doubted 
whether in all three cases it assumed exactly the same form. In 
the First Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul discusses the gift at con- 
siderable length. I Cor., ch. 14. It is interesting to compare that 
passage with the passage in the second chapter of The Acts. 

There are a number of resemblances between the two. Both 
Paul and Luke represent the gift of tongues as a supernatural thing, 

46 



THE BEGINNINGS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH 47 

a special endowment from the Spirit of God. Both Paul and Luke, 
furthermore, represent the gift as an ecstatic, temporary expression 
of spiritual exultation rather than as a faculty intended to be prac- 
tically useful in the work of the Church. On the other hand, there 
are such marked differences between the two accounts as to make 
it evident that the gift as it was manifested at Pentecost was very 
considerably different from that which was exercised in the church 
at Corinth. 

The speaking with tongues as Paul describes it was a kind of 
ejaculation, expressive of the religious life of the speaker, but in- 
comprehensible to others. In order, therefore, to make the gift 
edifying to the congregation at large there had to be some one else 
present who was in possession of another gift, the gift of interpre- 
tation. The speaking with tongues at Pentecost, however, was a 
miraculous use of various languages. Some have supposed that 
Luke is describing rather a new language, which possessed the 
supernatural quality of being understood by men of various na- 
tionalities. The most natural interpretation of the passage, how- 
ever, is that which has just been suggested. The disciples, filled 
with the Spirit, spoke some in one language and some in another, 
or perhaps the same individuals used different languages at succes- 
sive moments. The outsiders received various impressions of the 
strange phenomenon. Some, mocking, declared that the disciples 
were drunk. These, we may suppose, were men who came into 
contact with those disciples who were speaking some language 
known only to another group among the hearers. The general 
impression seems to have been wonder at the miraculous gift. The 
gift of tongues provided an opportunity for the first Christian 
preaching. In just this form it was perhaps never repeated. It 
was a unique gift provided for an absolutely unique occasion. 

2. THE SPEECHES 

Ancient historians often put imaginary speeches into the mouths 
of their characters. The speeches were intended to represent 
not what was actually said but what might have been said under 
the circumstances. This procedure of the historians was not 
intended to deceive the readers. It was merely a literary form, a 
method of vivid description. 

Luke, however, seems not to have allowed himself even the license 
which was regarded as allowable by the best historians of antiquity. 
The speeches in The Acts are apparently either verbatim reports 



48 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

of what was actually said, or else summaries based upon trust- 
worthy tradition. If they had been composed freely by the his- 
torian himself their characteristic differences and their perfect 
adaptation to different occasions would be difficult to explain. 

The speeches of Peter and of the earliest disciples, in particular, 
are very different from those of Paul. They contain a number of 
features which occur either not at all or only rarely in the rest of 
the New Testament. The designation of Jesus as "the Servant," 
for example, a designation taken from the latter part of Isaiah, 
is characteristic of these speeches. Another characteristic designa- 
tion of Jesus is "Prince" or "Prince of life." Acts 3 : 15; 5 : 31. 
In general, the representation of Jesus in the early chapters of 
The Acts is just what might have been expected under the circum- 
stances. At the beginning of the Church's life, everything is 
simple and easy of comprehension even by outsiders. The apostles 
represented Jesus first as a man approved of God by the miracles 
which he had wrought. To have delivered up such a man to death 
was itself a grievous sin. But that was not all. This Jesus who 
was crucified had been raised from the dead; and both in his death 
and in his resurrection he had fulfilled the Messianic predictions 
of the ancient prophets. He was then nothing less than the Christ. 
Now, too, his period of humiliation was over. He had been given 
the full powers of Lordship. From him had come the wonder- 
working Spirit. It will be observed that these speeches, though 
they begin with what is simplest and easiest of acceptance by an 
outsider, really contain, at least in germ, the full doctrine of the 
divine Christ. 

3. THE CONVERTS 

The body of disciples who were assembled before the day of 
Pentecost consisted of only about one hundred and twenty persons. 
Acts 1 : 15. After the notable sermon of Peter, which was spoken 
in explanation of the gift of tongues, three thousand were converted. 
A little later the Church possessed five thousand men. Acts 4 : 4. 

The outward sign of conversion was baptism. "Repent ye," 
said Peter, "and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus 
Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift 
of the Holy Spirit." Baptism was not altogether new. It had 
been practiced not only among converts to Judaism, but especially 
by John the Baptist. Christian baptism, however, is sharply dis- 
tinguished from the baptism of John. Mark 1 : 7, 8; Acts 18 : 25; 
19 : 1-6. Both were expressive of repentance. But Christian 



THE BEGINNINGS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH 49 

baptism was connected specifically with Jesus, and also with the 
bestowal of the Spirit. 

Baptism was "in the name of Jesus Christ," or "into the name 
of the Lord Jesus." It was the sacrament by which the convert 
signified his cleansing from sin and his entrance into that peculiarly 
close relation to Christ which is of the essence of Christian expe- 
rience. In itself, of course, the rite of baptism is useless. But 
when accompanied by faith it is a means of real blessing. Bap- 
tism, like the other Christian sacrament, the Lord's Supper, was 
instituted by Christ himself. Matt. 28 : 19. In The Acts the 
full trinitarian formula of baptism is not given. "In the name of 
Jesus Christ" is sufficient to designate the sacrament. 

4. JOY AND FEAR 

The mysterious power that was working among the disciples 
was beneficent. It accomplished miracles of healing. As in the 
case of Jesus himself so now among his disciples the Spirit of God 
was manifested in the expulsion of demons. Matt. 12 : 28; Acts 
5 : 16. The Spirit was manifested also in the healing of disease. 

One cure, in particular, is narrated with a wealth of vivid detail. 
The healing of the lame man led to the opposition of the Sanhedrin. 
It led also to favor among the people. All the people ran together 
in Solomon's porch greatly wondering. Acts 3 : 11. Peter and 
John took no credit for what they had done. They attributed 
the miracle solely to the power of Jesus. It was the same Jesus 
against whom the crowd had shouted, "Crucify him, crucify him," 
only a few weeks before. Surely a reason for remorse rather than 
joy! But God is gracious. Through Jesus, the crucified One, 
salvation was offered even to the murderers. Repentance was 
followed by rejoicing. The envy of the Sanhedrin was held in 
check. A notable miracle had been wrought. 

That miracle was not isolated. Many signs and wonders were 
wrought by the hands of the apostles. The people even "carried 
out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, 
that, as Peter came by, at the least his shadow might overshadow 
some one of them." Acts 5 : 12-15. Perhaps we are to understand 
that that method of seeking cure was actually successful. Cer- 
tainly it was an unusual method. But God adopts unusual methods 
at unusual times. He adapts his mercy to the needs of men. 

The general impression left by the early chapters of The Acts 
is an impression of light and gladness. There is opposition, but 
Sen. t. m. 1. 



50 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

it is powerless against triumphant joy. One incident, however, in- 
troduces a discordant note. It is the incident of Ananias and 
Sapphira. 

The early Church was animated by a spirit of self-sacrifice. 
Many of the disciples sold their possessions and devoted the price 
to the common good. One of those who did so was Joseph Barnabas, 
who was to be prominent in the subsequent history. 

A certain man, Ananias, however, and Sapphira his wife, after 
they had sold their possession kept back part of the price. In 
itself that was not necessarily wrong. Their sin was the sin of 
deception. They pretended to have given all, though they had 
really given only a part. A more destructive sin could scarcely 
have been imagined. They had lied unto the Holy Spirit. Such 
conduct would bring contempt upon the Church. Ananias and 
Sapphira discovered that God cannot be trifled with. And the 
judgment wrought upon them inspired fear in all who heard. 

It is well that this incident has been recorded. It prevents a 
one-sided impression of the Church's life. The power that animated 
the Church was beneficent. But it was also terrible and mysterious 
and holy. In the presence of it there was joy. But that joy was 
akin to fear. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the 
living God." The lesson is of permanent value. The Spirit of 
God must be received with joy. But not with a common joy. 
Not with the joy of familiarity. But rather with the wondering, 
trembling joy of adoration. 

In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," 
pp. 21-46. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": articles on "Weeks, 
Feast of" and "Temple." "The Cambridge Bible for Schools": 
Lumby, "The Acts of the Apostles," 1880, pp. 1-61. "The Bible 
Commentary," vol. ii: Cook, "The Acts of the Apostles," pp. 351-386. 
Ellicott, "A New Testament Commentary for English Readers," vol. 
ii: Plumptre, "The Acts of the Apostles," pp. 1-28. Rackham, "The 
Acts of the Apostles," pp. 1-69. These commentaries will be designated 
hereafter by the names of the authors only. 



LESSON X 
THE FIRST PERSECUTION 



The persecution which arose in connection with Stephen marks 
a turning point in the history of the Church. Up to that time, the 
disciples had been content, for the most part, with laboring in 
Jerusalem. Now they were forced out into a broader field. One 
result of the persecution was the geographical extension of the 
Church. 

Another result was perhaps even more important. The extension 
caused by persecution was not merely geographical; it was also, 
perhaps, intellectual and spiritual. The Church was really from 
the beginning in possession of a new religious principle, but at first 
that principle was not fully understood. Persecution probably 
helped to reveal the hidden riches. The Pharisees were keener 
than the disciples themselves. Hostility sharpened the vision. 
The disciples themselves were still content to share in the estab- 
lished forms of Jewish worship; but the Pharisees saw that they 
were really advocates of a new principle. Christianity, unless it 
were checked, would supersede Judaism. The Pharisees were 
right. Jealous fear detected what ancestral piety had concealed. 

The hostility of the Jews perhaps helped to open the eyes of the 
Church. No doubt, a development was already at work. Perse- 
cution was the result as well as the cause of the new freedom. 
Stephen was persecuted possibly just because his preaching went 
beyond that of Peter. With or without persecution, the Church 
would have transcended the bounds of the older Judaism. It 
contained a germ of new life which was certain to bear fruit. But 
persecution hastened the process. It scattered the Church abroad, 
and it revealed the revolutionary character of the Church's life. 

With the coming of Jesus a new era had begun. Judaism had 
before been separate from the Gentile world. That separation 
had been due not to racial prejudice, but to a divine ordinance. 
It had served a useful purpose. Jewish particularism should never 
be despised; it should be treated with piety and gratitude. It 
had preserved the precious deposit of truth in the midst of heathen- 
ism. But its function, though useful, was temporary. It was a 



$2 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

preparation for Christ. Before Christ it was a help; after Christ 
it became a hindrance. 

Persecution was not the beginning of the new freedom. Free- 
dom was based upon the words of Jesus. It had become plainer 
again, perhaps, in the teaching of Stephen. Furthermore, if free- 
dom was not begun by the persecution, it was also not completed 
by it. The emancipation of the Church from Judaism was a slow 
process. The unfolding of that process is narrated in The Acts. 
Even after the Church was scattered abroad through Judea and 
Samaria, much remained to be done. Cornelius, Antioch, Paul 
were still in the future. Nevertheless, the death of Stephen was 
an important event. It was by no means the whole of the process; 
but it marks an epoch. 

The gradual rise of persecution should be traced in class — first 
the fruitless arrest of Peter and John and their bold defiance; 
then the arrest of the apostles, the miraculous escape, the preaching 
in the temple, the re-arrest, the counsel of Gamaliel, the scourging; 
then the preaching of Stephen and the hostility of the Pharisees. 
The opposition of the Sadducees was comparatively without sig- 
nificance. The Sadducees were not Jews at heart. They might 
persecute the Church just because the Church was patriotically 
Jewish. But the Pharisees were really representative of the 
existing Judaism. Pharisaic persecution meant the hostility of the 
nation. And it implied the independence of the Church. If the 
disciples were nothing but Jews, why did the Jews persecute them? 

In what follows, a few details will be discussed. 

1. THEUDAS AND JUDAS 

Judas the Galilean, mentioned by Gamaliel, Acts 5 : 37, appears 
also in Josephus. His insurrection occurred at the time of the 
great enrollment under Quirinius, the Syrian legate. This enroll- 
ment was different from that which brought Joseph and Mary to 
Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Jesus. Luke 2 : 2-5. That 
former enrollment occurred before the death of Herod the Great 
in 4 B. C. Luke 1:5; Matt. 2 : 1. The enrollment to which 
Gamaliel referred was carried out after the deposition of Archelaus 
in A. D. 6. 

With regard to Judas all is clear. But Theudas is known only 
from Acts 5 : 36. The Theudas who is mentioned in Josephus 
is different, for his insurrection did not occur till about A. D. 44, 
after the time of Gamaliel's speech. Gamaliel was referring to 



THE FIRST PERSECUTION 53 

some insurrection of an earlier period. The name Theudas was 
common, and so were tumults and insurrections. 

2. THE SEVEN 

It has been questioned whether the seven men who were appointed 
to assist the apostles were "deacons." The title is not applied 
to them. The narrative does, indeed, imply that they were to 
"serve tables," Acts 6 : 2, and the Greek word here translated 
"serve" is the verb from which the Greek noun meaning "deacon" 
is derived; but the same word is also used for the "ministry [or 
service] of the word" in which the apostles were to continue. V. 4. 
The special technical use of the word "deacon" appears in the New 
Testament only in Phil. 1 : 1 ; I Tim. 3 : 8, 12. Compare Rom. 16 : 1. 

Nevertheless, though the word itself does not occur in our passage, 
it is perhaps not incorrect to say that the seven were "deacons." 
Their functions were practically those of the diaconate; their 
appointment, at any rate, shows that the apostles recognized the 
need of some such office in the Church. It is not quite clear what 
is meant by the expression, to "serve tables." The reference is 
either to tables for food, or else to the money tables of a banker. 
If the former interpretation be correct, then the deacons were to 
attend especially to the management of the common meals. Even 
then, however, the expression probably refers indirectly to the 
general administration of charity, a prominent part of the service 
being mentioned simply as typical of the whole. 

3. THE SYNAGOGUES 

The Greek word translated "Libertines" in Acts 6 : 9 comes from 
the Latin word for "freedmen." The freedmen here mentioned 
were probably descendants of Jews taken by Pompey as slaves to 
Rome. The Jewish opponents of Stephen therefore included Romans, 
men of eastern and middle north Africa, and men of eastern and 
western Asia Minor. These foreign Jews, when they settled in 
Jerusalem, had their own synagogues. It is doubtful how many 
synagogues are mentioned in our passage. Luke may mean that 
each of the five groups had a separate synagogue, or he may be 
grouping the men of Cilicia and Asia in one synagogue. The word- 
ing of the Greek perhaps rather favors the view that only two syna- 
gogues are mentioned — one consisting of Libertines and men of 
Cyrene and Alexandria, and the other consisting of Cilicians and 
Asians. 



54 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

4. THE SPEECH OF STEPHEN 

In defending himself, Stephen gave a summary of Hebrew 
history. At first sight, that summary might seem to have little 
bearing upon the specific charges that had been made. But the 
history which Stephen recited was a history of Israel. "You are 
destroying the divine privileges of Israel" — that was the charge. 
"No," said Stephen, "history shows that the true privileges of 
Israel are the promises of divine deliverance. To them law and 
temple are subordinate. From Abraham on there was a promise 
of deliverance from Egypt. After that deliverance another 
deliverance was promised. It is the one which was wrought by 
Jesus. Moses, God's instrument in the first deliverance, was 
rejected by his contemporaries. Jesus, the greater Deliverer, 
was rejected by you. We disciples of Jesus are the true Israelites, 
for we, unlike you, honor the promises of God." 

Other interpretations of the speech have been proposed. For 
example, some find the main thought of the speech to be this: 
"The wanderings of the patriarchs and the long period of time which 
elapsed before the building of the temple show that true and 
acceptable worship of God is not limited to any particular place." 
At any rate, the speech requires study — and repays it. 

What was said in the last lesson about the speeches of The Acts 
in general applies fully to the speech of Stephen. The very diffi- 
culties of the speech, as well as its other peculiarities, help to show 
that it represents a genuine tradition of what, in a unique situation, 
was actually said. 

5. MARTYRDOM 

The word "martyr" is simply the Greek word for "witness." 
That is the word which is translated "witness" in Acts 1 : 8. 
"Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: 
and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea 
and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." There, 
of course, there is no special reference to dying for the sake of 
Christ. It is primarily the ordinary verbal testimony which is 
meant. The special meaning "martyr" is not often attached to the 
Greek word in the New Testament. Probably even in Acts 22 : 20, 
where the word is applied to Stephen, it is to be translated "witness" 
rather than "martyr." 

Martyrdom, then, is only one kind of witnessing. But it is a 
very important kind. Men will not die for what they do not 
believe. When Stephen sank beneath the stones of his enemies 



THE FIRST PERSECUTION 55 

he was preaching a powerful sermon. The very fact of his death 
was a witness to Christ. The manner of it was still more significant. 
Stephen, crying in the hour of death, "Lord Jesus, receive my 
spirit," Stephen dying with words of forgiveness on his lips, "Lord, 
lay not this sin to their charge," was a witness indeed. 

The Church can never do without that kind of witnessing. 
True, it may not now often appear as actual martyrdom. But 
bravery is needed as much as ever — bravery in business, men who 
will not say, "Business is business," but will do what is right even 
in the face of failure; bravery in politics, men to whom righteousness 
is more than a pose; bravery in social life, men and women who will 
sacrifice convention every time to principle, who, for example, 
will maintain the Christian Sabbath in the face of ridicule. Modern 
life affords plenty of opportunities for cowardice, plenty of oppor- 
tunities for denying the faith through fear of men. It also affords 
opportunities for bravery. You can still show whether you are of 
the stuff that Stephen was made of — above all, you can show 
whether you are possessed by the same Spirit and are a servant of 
the same Lord. 

6. THE RESULT OF THE PERSECUTION 

The persecution resulted only in the spread of the gospel. 
Gamaliel was right. It was useless to fight against God. The 
disciples were in possession of an invincible power, and they knew 
it from the very beginning. When Peter and John returned from 
their first arrest, the disciples responded in a noble prayer. Acts 
4 : 24-30. Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the 
peoples of Israel, gathered together against Jesus, had accomplished 
only what God's hand and God's counsel foreordained to come to 
pass. So it would be also with the enemies of the Church. When 
the disciples had prayed, "the place was shaken wherein they were 
gathered together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, 
and they spake the word of God with boldness." The answer to 
that prayer was prophetic of the whole history of the Church. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," 
pp. 40-42, 47-55. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible" : articles on "Gama- 
liel," "Theudas," "Judas" (6), "Deacon"; Purves, article on "Stephen." 
Ramsay, "Pictures of the Apostolic Church," pp. 44-65. Rackham, 
pp. 69-1 1 1. Lumby, pp. 61-97. Plumptre, pp. 28-47. Cook, pp. 
386-406. 



LESSON XI 

THE FIRST GENTILE CONVERTS 



This lesson treats of a number of steps in the extension of the 
gospel. The beginning is the purely Jewish Church that is de- 
scribed in the first chapters of The Acts; the goal is the Gentile 
Christianity of Paul. Gentile Christianity was not produced all 
at once. The extension of the gospel to Gentiles was a gradual 
process. The present lesson is concerned only with the early 
stages. The teacher should present the lesson in such a way as 
to emphasize the main feature of the narrative. The main feature 
is the central place assigned to the Holy Spirit. Though the 
extension of the gospel to the Gentiles was a process, that process 
was due not to mere natural development, but to the gracious 
leading of God. 

As was observed in Lesson X, Stephen perhaps introduced into 
the Church a more independent attitude toward the existing 
Judaism. There is no reason, indeed, to suppose that he thought 
either of preaching to Gentiles or of forsaking the ceremonial law. 
But possibly he did venture to exhibit the temporary and pro- 
visional character of the temple worship as compared with the 
promises of God. Indirectly, therefore, though certainly not 
directly, Stephen opened the way for the Gentile mission. 

The persecution was another step in the process. It scattered 
the Jews abroad into regions where Gentiles were more numerous 
than in Jerusalem, and served perhaps also to reveal to the Church 
itself its incompatibility with Pharisaic Judaism. 

The evangelization of Samaria was another important step. 
Though the Samaritans were only half Gentiles, they were par- 
ticularly detested by the Jews. In preaching to them, the dis- 
ciples were overcoming Jewish scruples, and thus were moving 
in the direction of a real Gentile mission. The baptizing of the 
Ethiopian may have been another step in the process. 

The most important event, however, was the conversion of Cor- 
nelius and his household. Here the issue was clearly raised. Corne- 
lius did not, like the Ethiopian, depart at once after baptism to a 

56 



THE FIRST GENTILE CONVERTS 57 

distant home. His reception into the Church was a matter of 
public knowledge. 

Luke was well aware of the importance of the story about 
Cornelius. That appears from the minuteness with which the 
story is narrated. After it has been completed once, it is repeated, 
at very considerable length, as a part of Peter's defense at Jeru- 
salem. The effect is as though this incident were heavily under- 
scored. 

The importance of the Cornelius incident appears also in the 
fact that it gave rise to criticism. Apparently this was the first 
serious criticism which the gradually widening mission had en- 
countered within the Church. There is no suggestion of such 
criticism in the case of the preaching in Samaria. But now a 
much more radical step had been taken. Peter had eaten with 
uncircumcised men. Acts 11:3. A more serious violation of 
Jewish particularism could hardly have been imagined. 

In defense, Peter appealed simply to the manifest authorization 
which he had received from God. That authorization had appeared 
first of all in the visions which Peter and Cornelius had received, 
with other direct manifestations of the divine will, and also more 
particularly in the bestowal of the Spirit. If the Spirit was given 
to uncircumcised Gentiles, then circumcision was no longer necessary 
to membership in the Church. In the narrative about Cornelius, 
there is a remarkable heaping up of supernatural guidance. Vision 
is added to vision, revelation to revelation. The reason is plain. 
A decisive step was being taken. If taken by human initiative, 
it was open to criticism. The separateness of Israel from other 
nations was a divine ordinance. Since it had been instituted by 
God, it could be abrogated only by him. True, Jesus had said, 
"Make disciples of all the nations." Matt. 28 : 19. But the how 
and the when had been left undecided. Were the Gentiles to 
become Jews in order to become Christians, and was the Gentile 
mission to begin at once? Those were grave questions. . They 
could not be decided without divine guidance. That guidance 
was given in the case of Cornelius. 

Peter's defense was readily accepted. "And when they heard 
these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, 
Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life." 
The active opposition to the Gentile mission did not arise until 
later. But how could that opposition arise at all? Since God 
had spoken so clearly, who could deny to the Gentiles a free 



58 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

entrance into the Church? After the case of Cornelius, how could 
any possible question arise? 

As a matter of fact — though it may seem strange — the ac- 
ceptance of Cornelius did not at first determine the policy of the 
Church. That incident remained, indeed, stored up in memory. 
It was appealed to years afterwards by Peter himself, in order to 
support the Gentile Christianity of Paul. Acts 15 : 7-9, 14. 
But so far as the practice of the Jewish Church was concerned, 
the Cornelius incident seems to have remained for a time without 
effect. The bestowal of the Spirit upon Cornelius and his friends 
was regarded, apparently, as a special dispensation which fixed 
no precedent. Before engaging in further preaching to Gentiles, 
the Church was waiting, perhaps, for manifestations of the divine 
will as palpable as those which had been given to Peter and to 
Cornelius. 

This attitude is rather suprising. It must be remembered, 
however, that for the present the Church was fully engrossed in 
work for Jews. Undoubtedly, a Gentile work was to come, and 
the Cornelius incident, as well as what Jesus had said, was regarded 
as prophetic of it, Acts 11 : 18; but the time and the manner of its 
institution were still undetermined. Were the Gentile converts 
generally — whatever might be the special dispensation for Cor- 
nelius — to be required to submit to circumcision and become mem- 
bers of the chosen people? This and other questions had not yet 
even been faced. Engrossed for the present in the Jewish mission, 
the Church could leave these questions to the future guidance 
of God. 

In what follows, a number of special points will be briefly 
discussed. 

1. PHILIP 

After the baptism of the Ethiopian, "the Spirit of the Lord 
caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, for he went 
on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing 
through he preached the gospel to all the cities, till he came to 
Caesarea." The meaning of these words is not perfectly plain. 
Are we to understand that Philip was carried away to Azotus by a 
miracle, or is nothing more intended than a sudden departure 
under the impulsion of the Spirit? The latter interpretation is 
not at all impossible. What has been emphazised in the whole 
narrative is the strangeness, the unaccountableness of Philip's 



THE FIRST GENTILE CONVERTS 59 

movements. This appears particularly in the sudden separation 
from the eunuch. The eunuch expected further conference with 
Philip but suddenly Philip rushed off, as though snatched away 
by a higher power. All through this incident, there is something 
strangely sudden and unexpected about Philip's movements. 
Human deliberation evidently had no part in his actions. He was 
under the immediate impulsion of the Spirit. 

The narrative leaves Philip at Caesarea, and there he appears 
years afterwards, at the time of Paul's last journey to Jerusalem. 
Acts 21 : 8, 9. Luke was at that time one of the company, and 
may have received directly from Philip the materials for the narra- 
tive in the eighth chapter of The Acts. Philip appears in Christian 
tradition, but there is some confusion between Philip the evangelist 
and Philip the apostle. 

2. SIMON MAGUS 

Simon the sorcerer, or "Simon Magus," is an interesting figure. 
He has laid hold of the fancy of Christendom. From his name — 
with reference to Acts 8 : 18, 19 — the word "simony" has been 
coined to designate the sin of buying or selling any sort of spiritual 
advantage. Simon is very prominent in Christian tradition, 
where he is regarded as the fountainhead of all heresy. 

3. CORNELIUS 

Cornelius was a "centurion," or captain of a company in the 
Roman army consisting of about one hundred men. The "Italian 
band" to which he belonged was apparently a "cohort," composed 
of soldiers from Italy. Cornelius was stationed at Caesarea, the 
residence of the procurators of Judea. With the favorable 
description of his attitude to the Jews and to the Jewish religion, 
Acts 10 : 2, should be compared what Luke, in his Gospel, records 
about another centurion. Luke 7:4, 5. These are sympathetic 
pictures of the "God-fearing" adherents of Judaism, who formed so 
important a class at the time of the first Christian preaching. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," 
pp. 59-67, 91-98. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": articles on "Sa- 
maria," "Samaritan," "Philip" (7), "Simon" (9), "Caesarea," "Cor- 
nelius." Ramsay, "Pictures of the Apostolic Church," pp. 66-104. 
Rackham, pp. 111-124, 141-163. Lumby, pp. 97-108, 122-142. 
Plumptre, pp. 47-55, 63-73. Cook, pp. 407-413, 419-430. 



LESSON XII 
THE CONVERSION OF PAUL 



Christianity a supernatural thing and a gift of God's grace — > 
that is the real theme of the lesson. The theme is brought home 
by means of an example, the example of the apostle Paul. 

The religious experience of Paul is the most striking phenomenon 
in the history of the human spirit. It really requires no defense. 
Give it sympathetic attention, and it is irresistible. How was it 
produced? The answer of Paul himself, at least, is plain. Ac- 
cording to Paul, his whole religious life was due, not to any natural 
development, but to an act of the risen Christ. That is the argu- 
ment of the first chapter of Galatians. He was advancing in 
Judaism, he says, beyond his contemporaries. He was laying 
waste the Church. And then suddenly, when it was least to be 
expected, without the influence of men, simply by God's good 
pleasure, Christ was revealed to him, and all was changed. The 
suddenness, the miraculousness of the change is the very point 
of the passage. Upon that marvelous act of God Paul bases the 
whole of his life work. 

Shall Paul's explanation of his life be accepted? It can be 
accepted only by the recognition of Jesus Christ, who was crucified, 
as a living person. In an age of doubt, that recognition is not 
always easy. But if it be refused, then the whole of Pauline 
Christianity is based upon an illusion. That alternative may well 
seem to be monstrous. The eighth chapter of Romans has a self- 
evidencing power. It has transformed the world. It has entered 
into the very fiber of the human spirit. But it crumbles to pieces 
if the appearance on the road to Damascus was nothing but a 
delusive vision. Let us not deceive ourselves. The religious 
experience of Paul and the whole of our evangelical piety are based 
upon the historical fact of the resurrection. But if so, then the 
resurrection stands firm. For the full glory of Pauline Christianity 
becomes a witness to it. The writer of the epistle to the Romans 
must be believed. But it is that writer who says, "Last of all 
. . . he appeared to me also." 

The wonder of the conversion can be felt only through an exercise 

60 



THE CONVERSION OF PAUL 6l 

of the historical imagination. Imagine the surroundings of Paul's 
early life in Tarsus, live over again with him the years in Jerusalem, 
enter with him into his prospects of a conventional Jewish career 
and into his schemes for the destruction of the Church — and then 
only can you appreciate with him the catastrophic wonder of Christ's 
grace. There was no reason for the conversion of Paul. Every- 
thing pointed the other way. But Christ chose to make of the 
persecutor an apostle, and the life of Paul was the result. It was 
a divine, inexplicable act of grace — grace to Paul and grace to us 
who are Paul's debtors. God's mercies are often thus. They 
are not of human devising. They enter into human life when 
they are least expected, with a sudden blaze of heavenly glory. 

In the review of Paul's early life various questions emerge. They 
must at least be faced, if not answered, if the lesson is to be vividly 
presented. 

1. PAUL AT TARSUS 

In the first place, what was the extent of the Greek influence 
which was exerted upon Paul at Tarsus? The question cannot 
be answered with certainty, and widely differing views are held. 
It is altogether unlikely, however, that the boy attended anything 
like an ordinary Gentile school. The Jewish strictness of the 
family precludes that supposition, and it is not required by the 
character of Paul's preaching and writing. It is true that he 
occasionally quotes a Greek poet. I Cor. 15 : 33; Titus 1 : 12; 
Acts 17 : 28. It is true again that some passages in Paul's letters 
are rhetorical — for example, I Cor. 1 : 18-25; ch. 13 — and that 
rhetoric formed an important part of Greek training in the first 
century. But Paul's rhetoric is the rhetoric of nature rather than 
of art. Exalted by his theme he falls unconsciously into a splendid 
rhythm of utterance. Such rhetoric could not be learned in 
school. Finally, it is true that Paul's vocabulary is thought to 
exhibit some striking similarities to that of Stoic writers. But 
even if that similarity indicates acquaintance on the part of Paul 
with the Stoic teaching, such acquaintance need not have been 
attained through a study of books. 

However, the importance of Paul's Greek environment, if it 
must not be exaggerated, must on the other hand not be ignored. 
In the first place, Paul is a consummate master of the Greek 
language. He must have acquired it in childhood, and indeed in 
Tarsus could hardly have failed to do so. In the second place,. 



62 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

he was acquainted with the religious beliefs and practices of the 
Greco-Roman world. The speech at Athens, Acts 17 : 22-31, 
shows how he made use of such knowledge for his preaching. In 
all probability the first impressions were made upon him at Tarsus. 
Finally, from his home in Tarsus Paul derived that intimate knowl- 
edge of the political and social relationships of the men of his day 
which, coupled with a native delicacy of perception and fineness 
of feeling, resulted in the exquisite tact which he exhibited in his 
missionary and pastoral labors. The Tarsian Jew of the dispersion 
was a gentleman of the Roman Empire. 

That Aramaic, as well as Greek, was spoken by the family of 
Paul is made probable by Phil. 3 : 5 and II Cor. 11 : 22. The 
word "Hebrew" in these passages probably refers especially to the 
use of the Aramaic ("Hebrew") language, as in Acts 6:1, where 
the "Hebrews" in the Jerusalem church are contrasted with the 
"Grecian Jews." "A Hebrew of Hebrews," therefore, probably 
means "an Aramaic-speaking Jew and descended from Aramaic- 
speaking Jews." In Acts 21 : 40; 22 : 2 it is expressly recorded 
that Paul made a speech in Aramaic ("Hebrew"), and in Acts 
26 : 14 it is said that Christ spoke to him in the same language 
Conceivably, of course, he might have learned that language 
during his student days in Jerusalem. But the passages just 
referred to make it probable that it was rather the language of 
his earliest home. From childhood Paul knew both Aramaic 
and Greek. 

2. THE INNER LIFE OF PAUL THE RABBI 

The most interesting question about Paul's life at Jerusalem 
concerns the condition of his inner life before the conversion. 
Paul the Pharisee is an interesting study. What were this man's 
thoughts and feelings and desires before the grace of Christ made 
him the greatest of Christian missionaries? 

The best way to answer this question would be to ask Paul 
himself. One passage in the Pauline epistles has been regarded 
as an answer to the question. That passage is Rom. 7 : 14-25. 
There Paul describes the struggle of the man who knows the law of 
God and desires to accomplish it, but finds the flesh too strong 
for him. If Paul is there referring to his pre-Christian life, then 
the passage gives a vivid picture of his fruitless struggle as a 
Pharisee to fulfill the law. Many interpreters, however, refer the 
passage not to the pre-Christian life but to the Christian life. 



THE CONVERSION OF PAUL 63 

Even in the Christian life the struggle goes on against sin. And 
even if Paul is referring to the pre-Christian life, he is perhaps 
depicting it rather as it really was than as he then thought it was. 
The passage probably does not mean that before he became a 
Christian Paul was fully conscious of the fruitlessness of his en- 
deavor to attain righteousness by the law. Afterwards he saw 
that his endeavor was fruitless, but it is doubtful how clearly he 
saw it at the time. 

It would, indeed, be a mistake to suppose that Paul as a Pharisee 
was perfectly happy. No man is happy who is trying to earn 
salvation by his works. In his heart of hearts Paul must have 
known that his fulfillment of the law was woefully defective. 
But such discontentment would naturally lead him only farther 
on in the same old path. If his obedience was defective, let it be 
mended by increasing zeal! The more earnest Paul was about 
his law righteousness, the more discontented he became with his 
attainments, so much the more zealous did he become as a per- 
secutor. 

Some have supposed that Paul was gradually getting nearer 
to Christianity before Christ appeared to him — that the Damas- 
cus experience only completed a process that had already begun. 
There were various things, it is said, which might lead the earnest 
Pharisee to consider Christianity favorably. In the first place, 
there was the manifest impossibility of law righteousness. Paul 
had tried to keep the law and had failed. What if the Christians 
were right about salvation by faith? In the second place, there 
were the Old Testament prophecies about a suffering servant of 
Jehovah. Isa., ch. 53. If they referred to the Messiah, then 
the cross might be explained, as the Christians explained it, as 
a sacrifice for others. The stumblingblock of a crucified Messiah 
would thus be removed. In the third place, there was the noble 
life and death of the Christian martyrs. 

These arguments are not so weighty as they seem. Paul's 
dissatisfaction with his fulfillment of the law, as has already been 
observed, might lead to a more zealous effort to fulfill the law as 
well as to a relinquishment of the law. There seems to be no clear 
evidence that the pre-Christian Jews ever contemplated a death 
of the Messiah like the death of Jesus. On the contrary the 
current expectation of the Messiah was diametrically opposed to 
any such thing. And admiration of the Christian martyrs is 
perhaps too modern and too Christian to be attributed to the 



64 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

Pharisee. The fundamental trouble with this whole argument is 
that it proves merely that the Pharisee Paul ought to have been 
favorably impressed with Christianity. So he ought, but as a 
matter of fact he was not so impressed, and we have the strongest 
kind of evidence to prove that he was not. The book of The Acts 
says so, and Paul says so just as clearly in his letters. The very 
fact that when he was converted he was on a persecuting expedi- 
tion, more ambitious than any that had been attempted before, 
shows that he was certainly not thinking favorably of Chris- 
tianity. Was he considering the possibility that Christianity 
might be true? Was he trying to stifle his own inward uncertainty 
by the very madness of his zeal? Then, in persecuting the Church, 
he was going against his conscience. But in I Tim. 1 : 13 he 
distinctly says that his persecuting was done ignorantly in un- 
belief, and his attitude is the same in his other epistles. If in 
persecuting the Church he was acting contrary to better con- 
viction, then that fact would have constituted the chief element 
in his guilt; yet in the passages where he speaks with the deepest 
contrition of his persecution, that particularly heinous sin is never 
mentioned. Evidently, whatever was his guilt, at least he did 
not have to reproach himself with the black sin of persecuting 
Christ's followers in the face of even a half conviction. 

Accordingly, the words of Christ to Paul at the time of the 
conversion, "It is hard for thee to kick against the goad," Acts 
26 : 14, do not mean that Paul had been resisting an inward voice 
of conscience in not accepting Christ before, but rather that 
Christ's will for Paul was really resistless even though Paul had 
not known it at all. Christ's loving plan would be carried out 
in the end. Paul was destined to be the apostle to the Gentiles. 
For him to try to be anything else was as useless and as painful 
as it is for the ox to kick against the goad. Christ will have his 
way. 

Thus before his conversion Paul was moving away from Chris- 
tianity rather than toward it. Of course, in emphasizing the 
suddenness of the conversion, exaggerations must be avoided. 
It is absurd, for example, to suppose that Paul knew nothing at 
all about Jesus before the Damascus event. Of course he knew 
about him. Even if he had been indifferent, he could hardly have 
failed to hear the story of the Galilean prophet; and as a matter 
of fact he was not indifferent but intensely interested, though by 
way of opposition. These things were not done in a corner. Paul- 



THE CONVERSION OF PAUL 65 

was in Jerusalem before and after the crucifixion, if not at the very 
time itself. The main facts in the life of Jesus were known to 
friend and foe alike. Thus when in the first chapter of Galatians 
Paul declares that he received his gospel not through any human 
agency but directly from Christ, he cannot mean that the 
risen Christ imparted to him the facts in the earthly life 
of Jesus. It never occurred to Paul to regard the bare facts as a 
"gospel." He had the facts by ordinary word of mouth from the 
eyewitnesses. What he received from the risen Christ was a new 
interpretation of the facts. He had known the facts before. 
But they had filled him with hatred. He had known about 
Jesus. But the more he had known about him, the more he had 
hated him. And then Christ himself appeared to him! It might 
naturally have been an appearance in wrath, a thunderstroke of 
the just vengeance of the Messiah. Probably that was Paul's 
first thought when he heard the words, "I am Jesus whom thou 
persecutest." But such was not the Lord's will. The purpose 
of the Damascus wonder was not destruction but divine fellowship 
and world-wide service. 

3. PAUL'S EXPERIENCE AND OURS 

In one sense, the experience of Paul is the experience of every 
Christian. Not, of course, in form. It is a great mistake to 
demand of every man that he shall be able, like Paul, to give day 
and hour of his conversion. Many men, it is true, still have such 
a definite experience. It is not pathological. It may result in 
glorious Christian lives. But it is not universal, and it should not 
be induced by tactless methods. The children of Christian homes 
often seem to grow up into the love of Christ. When they decide 
to unite themselves definitely with the Church, the decision need 
not necessarily come with anguish of soul. It may be simply the 
culmination of a God-encircled childhood, a recognition of what 
God has already done rather than the acquisition of something 
new. But after all, these differences are merely in the manner 
of God's working. In essence, true Christian experience is always 
the same, and in essence it is always like the experience of Paul. 
It is no mere means of making better citizens, but an end in itself. 
It is no product of man's effort, but a divine gift. Whatever be 
the manner of its coming, it is a heavenly vision. Christ still 
lives in the midst of glory. And still he appears to sinful men — 
though not now to the bodily eye — drawing them out of sin and 

Sen. T. ILL 1. 



66 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

misery and bondage to a transitory world into communion with 
the holy and eternal God. 

The result of Paul's vision was service. How far his destination 
as apostle to the Gentiles was made known to him at once is perhaps 
uncertain. It depends partly upon the interpretation of Acts 
26 : 14-18. Are those words intended to be part of what was 
spoken at the very time of the conversion? There is no insuper- 
able objection to that view. At any rate, no matter how much or 
how little was revealed at once, the real purpose of Christ in calling 
him was clearly that he should be the leader of the Gentile mission. 
Gal. 1 : 16. He was saved in order that he might save others. 
It is so normally with every Christian. Every one of us is given 
not only salvation, but also labor. In that labor we can use every 
bit of preparation that is ours, even if it was acquired before we 
became Christians. Paul, the apostle, used his Greek training 
as well as his knowledge of the Old Testament. We can use 
whatever talents we possess. The Christian life is not a life of 
idleness. It is like the life of the world in being full of labor. 
But it differs from that life in that its labor is always worth while. 
Connection with heaven does not mean idle contemplation, but a 
vantage ground of power. You cannot move the world without 
a place to stand. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," 
pp. 68-85. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": article on "Damascus." 
Ramsay, "Pictures of the Apostolic Church," pp. 1 13-120; "St. Paul 
the Traveller and the Roman Citizen," pp. 29-39; "The Cities of St. 
Paul," pp. 85-244 (on Tarsus). Conybeare and Howson, "The Life 
and Epistles of St. Paul," chs. ii and iii. Lewin, "The Life and 
Epistles of St. Paul," chs. i and iv. Stalker, "The Life of St. Paul," 
pp. 1-42. Rackham, pp. 124-135, 421-424, 462-470. Lumby, pp. 108- 
116, 302-307, 344-349- Plumptre, pp. 55"6i, 150-152, 165-167. Cook, 
pp. 413-417, 498-500, 5i 6 -5i9- 



LESSON XIII 
THE CHURCH AT ANTIOCH 



Christianity originated in an obscure corner of the Roman 
Empire, in the midst of a very peculiar people. At first, it was 
entirely out of relation to the larger life of the time. The atmos- 
phere of the Gospels is as un-Greek as could be imagined; the very 
conception of Messiahship is distinctively Jewish. 

Yet this Jewish sect soon entered upon the conquest of the empire, 
and the Jewish Messiah became the Saviour of the world. Starting 
from Jerusalem, the new sect spread within a few decades almost to 
the remotest corners of the civilized world. This remarkable 
extension was not the work of any one man or group of men. 
It seemed rather to be due to some mysterious power of growth, 
operating in many directions and in many ways. In this manifold 
extension of the gospel, however, the central event of to-day's 
lesson stands out with special clearness. Christianity began as 
a Jewish movement, quite incongruous with the larger life of the 
empire. What would be the result of its first real contact with 
the culture of the time? This question was answered at Antioch. 

At Antioch, the principles of the Gentile mission had to be 
established once for all — those principles which have governed 
the entire subsequent history of the Church. The extension of 
the gospel to the Gentiles was not a mere overcoming of racial 
prejudice, for the separateness of Israel had been of divine appoint- 
ment; it involved rather the recognition that a new dispensation 
had begun. Primitive Christianity was not governed merely by 
considerations of practical expediency; it sought justification for 
every new step in^the guidance of the Spirit and in the fundamental 
principles of the gospel. The development of those fundamental 
principles was necessary in order to show that Christianity was 
really more than a Jewish sect. Then as always, religion without 
theology would have been a weak and flabby thing. Christianity 
is not merely an instrument for the improving of social conditions, 
but rather an answer to the fundamental questions of the soul. 
It can never do without thinking, and Christian thinking is theology. 

Fortunately the church at Antioch did not long remain without 

67 



68 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

a theologian. Its theologian was Paul. Paul was not the founder 
of the church at Antioch ; but the theology of Paul was what gave 
to that church its really fundamental importance in the history 
of the world. 

The lesson for to-day is of extraordinary richness and variety. 
Much can be learned, for example, from the characters of the story. 
Barnabas, with his generous recognition of the great man who 
was soon to overshadow him; those obscure men of Cyprus and 
Cyrene, not even mentioned by name, whose work at Antioch 
was one of the great turning points of history; Agabus, the prophet, 
and the charitable brethren of Antioch; Rhoda, the serving girl, 
and the prayerful assembly in the house of the mother of Mark — 
every one of these teaches some special lesson. One lesson, 
moreover, may be learned from them all — God is the real leader 
of the Church, and true disciples, though different in character 
and in attainments, are all sharers in a mighty work. 

In what follows, an attempt will be made to throw light upon 
a few of the historical questions which are suggested by the narra- 
tive in The Acts, and to picture as vividly as possible the scene of 
these stirring events. 

1. THE ACTS AND THE PAULINE EPISTLES 

The differences between the narrative in The Acts and the 
account which Paul gives of the same events have caused con- 
siderable difficulty. This very difficulty, however, is by no means 
an unmixed evil; for it shows at least that Luke was entirely in- 
dependent of the Epistles. If he had employed the Epistles in 
the composition of his book he would surely have avoided even 
the appearance of contradicting them. The divergences between 
The Acts and the Pauline Epistles, therefore, can only mean that 
Luke did not use the Epistles when he wrote; and since the Epistles 
came to be generally used at a very early time, The Acts cannot 
have been written at so late a date as is often supposed. But if 
the book was written at an early time, then there is every probability 
that the information which it contains is derived from trust- 
worthy sources. 

Thus the very divergences between The Acts and the Pauline 
Epistles, unless indeed they should amount to positive contradic- 
tions, strengthen the argument for the early date and high histori- 
cal value of the Lucan work. The independence of The Acts is 
supported also by the complete absence of striking verbal similarity 



THE CHURCH AT ANTIOCH 69 

between the narrative in The Acts and the corresponding passages 
in the Epistles. Even where the details of the two accounts are 
similar, the words are different. The few unimportant coinci- 
dences in language are altogether insufficient to overthrow this 
general impression of independence. 

The most natural supposition, therefore, is that in The Acts 
and in the Epistles we have two independent and trustworthy 
accounts of the same events. This supposition is really borne out 
by the details of the two narratives. There are differences, but 
the differences are only what is to be expected in two narratives 
which were written from entirely different points of view and in 
complete independence of one another. Contradictions have 
been detected only by pressing unduly the language of one source 
or the other. Thus, in reading The Acts alone, one might suppose 
that Paul spent the whole time between his conversion and his 
first visit to Jerusalem in Damascus, and that this period was less 
than three years; but these suppositions are only inferences. 
Apparently Luke was not aware of the journey to Arabia; but an 
incomplete narrative is not necessarily inaccurate. Again, in the 
account of that first visit to Jerusalem, the reader of The Acts 
might naturally suppose that more than one of the Twelve was 
present, that the main purpose of the journey was rather to engage 
in preaching than to make the acquaintance of Peter, and that the 
visit lasted longer than fifteen days; and on the other hand, the 
reader of Galatians might perhaps suppose that instead of preaching 
in Jerusalem Paul remained, while there, in strict retirement. 
Again, however, these suppositions would be inferences; and the 
falsity of them simply shows how cautious the historian should 
be in reading between the lines of a narrative. Finally, the dif- 
ferences between Paul and Luke are overbalanced by the striking 
and undesigned agreements. 

In Galatians, Paul does not mention the visit which he and 
Barnabas made in Jerusalem at the time of the famine. This 
conclusion has been avoided by those scholars who with Ramsay 
identify the "famine visit" with the visit mentioned in Gal. 2 : 1-10. 
The more usual view, however, is that Gal. 2 : 1-10 is to be regarded 
as parallel, not with Acts' 11 : 30; 12 : 25, but with Acts 15 : 1-30. 
The second visit mentioned by Paul is thus identified with 
the third visit mentioned by Luke. Paul did not mention the 
famine visit because, as was probably admitted even by his oppo- 
nents in Galatia, the apostles at the time of that visit were all out 



70 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

of the city, so that there was no chance of a meeting with them. 
The subject under discussion in Galatians was not Paul's life in 
general, but the relation between Paul and the original apostles. 

2. THE PREACHING TO "GREEKS" 

In Acts 11 : 20, the best manuscripts read "spake unto the 
Hellenists" instead of "spake unto the Greeks." The word 
"Hellenist" usually means "Grecian Jew." Here, however, if this 
word is to be read, it must refer not to Jews, but to Gentiles; 
for the contrast with the preaching to Jews that is mentioned 
just before, is the very point of the verse. Perhaps at this point 
the manuscripts which read "Greeks" (that is, "Gentiles") are 
correct. In either case, the meaning is fixed by the context. 
These Jews of Cyprus and Cyrene, when they arrived at Antioch 
certainly began to preach regularly to Gentiles. 

3. PETERS ESCAPE FROM PRISON 

In Acts 12 : 1-24, Luke brings the account of affairs in Jerusalem 
up to the time which has already been reached in the narrative 
about Antioch. The journey of Barnabas and Paul to Jerusalem, 
Acts 11 : 30; 12 : 25, supplied the connecting link. While the 
church at Antioch was progressing in the manner described in 
Acts 11 : 19-30, a persecution had been carried on in Jerusalem 
by Herod Agrippa I. The escape of Peter is narrated in an ex- 
traordinarily lifelike way. Evidently Luke was in possession of 
first-hand information. The vividness of the narrative is very 
significant. It shows that the unmistakable trustworthiness of 
The Acts extends even to those happenings which were most clearly 
miraculous. The supernatural cannot be eliminated from apostolic 
history. 

4. ANTIOCH 

Antioch on the Orontes was founded by Seleucus Nicator, the 
first monarch of the Seleucid dynast}', and under his successors it 
remained the capital of the Syrian kingdom. When that kingdom 
was conquered by the Romans, the political importance of Antioch 
did not suffer. Antioch became under the Romans not only the 
capital of the province Syria but also the residence of the emperors 
and high officials when they were in the east. It may be regarded 
as a sort of eastern capital of the empire. 

The political importance of Antioch was no greater than its 



THE CHURCH AT ANTIOCH 7 1 

commercial importance. Situated near the northeastern corner 
of the Mediterranean Sea, where the Mediterranean coast is nearer 
to the Euphrates than at any other point, where the Orontes valley 
provided easy communication with the east and the Syrian gates 
with the west, with a magnificent artificial harbor at Seleucia, 
about twenty miles distant, Antioch naturally became the great 
meeting point for the trade of east and west. It is not surprising 
that Antioch was the third city of the empire — after Rome and 
Alexandria. 

The city was built on a plain between the Orontes on the north 
and the precipitous slopes of Mount Silpius on the south. A 
great wall extended over the rugged heights of the mountain and 
around the city. A magnificent street led through the city from 
east to west. The buildings were of extraordinary magnificence. 
Perhaps as magnificent as the city itself was the famous Daphne, 
a neighboring shrine and pleasure resort, well-known for its gilded 
vice. 

The dominant language of Antioch, from the beginning, had 
been Greek. The Seleucids prided themselves on the Greek culture 
of their court, and Roman rule introduced no essential change. 
Of course, along with the Greek language and Greek culture went 
a large admixture of eastern blood and eastern custom. Like the 
other great cities of the empire, Antioch was a meeting place of 
various peoples, a typical cosmopolitan center of a world-wide 
empire. The Jewish population, of course, was numerous. 

Such was the seat of the apostolic missionary church. Almost 
lost at first in the seething life of the great city, that church was 
destined to outlive all the magnificence that surrounded it. A new 
seed had been implanted in the ancient world, and God would give 
the increase. 



In the Library.— Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," pp. 
85-90, 98-110. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": articles on "Agabus," 
"Antioch," "Arabia," "Aretas," "Barnabas," "Herod" (3). Ram- 
say, "St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen," pp. 40-69; 
"Pictures of the Apostolic Church," pp. 121-128. Lewin, "The Life 
and Epistles of St. Paul," chs. v, vi and vii. Conybeare and Howson, 
"The Life and Epistles of St. Paul," ch. iv. Stalker, "The Life of 
St. Paul," pp. 44-63. Lumby, pp. 1 16-122, 142-155, 307-309. Cook, 
pp. 416-418, 430-433, 500, 50i. Plumptre, pp. 60-62, 73-79, 152. 
Rackham, pp. 136-141, 163-184. 



Christianity Established Among 
the Gentiles 

The Principles and Practice 
of the Gospel 



LESSON XIV 
THE GOSPEL TO THE GENTILES 



It was a dramatic moment when Paul and Barnabas, with their 
helper, set sail from Seleucia, on the waters of the Mediterranean. 
Behind them lay Syria and Palestine and the history of the chosen 
people; in front of them was the west. The religion of Israel had 
emerged from its age-long seclusion ; it had entered at last upon the 
conquest of the world. 

The message that crossed the strait to Cyprus was destined to 
be carried over broader seas. A mighty enterprise was begun. 
It was an audacious thought! The missionaries might well have 
been overpowered by what lay before them — by the power of a 
world empire, by the prestige of a brilliant civilization. How 
insignificant were their own weapons! Would they ever even 
gain a hearing? But though the enterprise was begun in weakness 
it was begun in faith. At their departure from Antioch the mis- 
sionaries were "committed to the grace of God." 

The account of this first missionary journey is one of the most 
fascinating passages in The Acts. The interest never flags; incident 
follows incident in wonderful variety. In reading this narrative, 
we are transplanted into the midst of the ancient world, we come 
to breathe the very atmosphere of that cosmopolitan age. In the 
lesson of to-day the teacher has an unusual opportunity. If he 
uses it well, he may cause the Bible story to live again. Absolutely 
essential to that end is the judicious use of a map — preferably 
something larger than the small sketch map of the Text Book. 
A travel narrative without a map is a hopeless jumble. The map 
is an aid both to memory and to imagination. Tracing the route 
of the missionaries on the map, the teacher should endeavor to 
call up the scenes through which they passed. The student should 
be made to see the waters of the Mediterranean, with the hills of 
Cyprus beyond, the interminable stretches of the Roman roads, 
the lofty mountains of the Taurus, the perils of rivers and the 
perils of robbers, the teeming population of the countless cities — 
and through it all the simple missionaries of the cross, almost 
unnoticed amid the turmoil of the busy world, but rich in the 

Sen. T. III. 2. 75 



76 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

possession of a world-conquering gospel and resistless through the 
power of the living God. 

1. THE PROPHETS AND TEACHERS 

Both prophecy and teaching were gifts of the Spirit. I Cor. 
12 : 28-31. Prophecy was immediate revelation of the divine 
plan or of the divine will; teaching, apparently, was logical develop- 
ment of the truth already given. Which of the men who are 
mentioned in Acts 13 : 1 were prophets and which were teachers 
is not clear. If any division is intended it is probably between the 
first three and the last two. For this grouping there is perhaps 
some slight indication in the connectives that are used in the Greek, 
but the matter is not certain. Perhaps all five of the men were 
possessed of both gifts. 

Lucius was perhaps one of the founders of the church, for he 
came from Cyrene. Compare Acts 11 : 20. Manaen is an in- 
teresting figure. He is called " foster-brother" of Herod the 
tetrarch. The word translated "foster-brother" is apparently 
sometimes used in a derived sense, to designate simply an intimate 
associate of a prince. If that be the meaning here, then at least 
one member of the church at Antioch was a man of some social 
standing. In Antioch, as in Corinth, probably "not many wise 
after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble" were called, 
I Cor. 1 : 26; but in Antioch as in Corinth there were exceptions. 
The Herod who is here meant is Herod Antipas, the "Herod" of 
the Gospels. 

2. ELYMAS 

When the Jewish sorcerer is first mentioned he is called Bar- 
Jesus — that is, "son of Jesus," Jesus being a common Jewish name. 
Then, a little below, the same man is called "Elymas the sorcerer," 
and the explanation is added, "for so is his name by interpretation." 
Apparently the new name Elymas is introduced without explanation, 
and then the Greek word for "sorcerer" is introduced as a translation 
of that. The word Elymas is variously derived from an Arabic word 
meaning "wise," or an Aramaic word meaning "strong." In either 
case the Greek word, "magos," for which our English Bible has 
"sorcerer," is a fair equivalent. That Greek word is the word that 
appears also in Matt. 2:1, 7, 16, where the English Bible has 
"Wise-men"; and words derived from the same root are used to 
describe Simon of Samaria in Acts 8:9, 11. The word could 
designate men of different character. Some "magi" might be 

Sen. T. Ill, 2. 



THE GOSPEL TO THE GENTILES 77 

regarded as students of natural science; in others, superstition and 
charlatanism were dominant. 

3. SAUL AND PAUL 

At Acts 13 :9 Luke introduces the name "Paul" — "Saul, who is 
also called Paul." Previously the narrative always uses the 
Jewish name "Saul"; after this "Paul" appears with equal regu- 
larity, except in the accounts of the conversion, where in three 
verses a special, entirely un-Greek form of "Saul" is used. Acts 
22 : 7, 13; 26 : 14. Since in our passage in the original the name of 
the proconsul, Paulus, is exactly like the name of the apostle, some 
have supposed that Paul assumed a new name in honor of his 
distinguished convert. That is altogether unlikely. More probable 
is the suggestion that although Paul had both names from the 
beginning, Luke is led to introduce the name Paul at just this 
point because of the coincidence with the name of the proconsul. 
Even this supposition, however, is extremely doubtful. Probably 
the Roman name, which Paul uses invariably in his letters, is 
introduced at this point simply because here for the first time Paul 
comes prominently forward in a distinctly Roman environment. 

4. PAUL AND BARNABAS 

Connected with this variation in name is the reversal in the 
relation between Paul and Barnabas. Previously Barnabas has 
been given the priority; but immediately after the incident at 
Paphos the missionaries are designated as "Paul and his company," 
Acts 13 : 13, and thereafter when the two are mentioned together, 
Paul, except at Acts 14 : 12, 14; 15 : 12, 25, appears first. In the 
presence of the Roman proconsul, Paul's Roman citizenship 
perhaps caused him to take the lead; and then inherent supe- 
riority made his leadership permanent. 

5. THE RETURN OF JOHN MARK 

The reasons for John Mark's return from Perga to Jerusalem 
can only be surmised. Perhaps he was simply unwilling, for some 
reason sufficient to him but insufficient to Paul, to undertake the 
hardships of the journey into the interior. Certainly it was an 
adventurous journey. Paul was not always an easy man to follow. 

The severity of Paul's judgment of Mark was not necessarily 
so great as has sometimes been supposed. One purpose of the 
second journey was to revisit the churches of the first journey. Acts 



78 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

15 : 36. Whether for good or for bad reasons, Mark, as a matter 
of fact, had not been with the missionaries on a large part of that 
first journey, and was, therefore, unknown to many of the churches. 
For this reason, perhaps as much as on account of moral objec- 
tions, Paul considered Mark an unsuitable helper. In his later 
epistles Paul speaks of Mark in the most cordial way. Col. 4 : 10; 
Philem. 24; II Tim. 4:11. In the last passage, he even says that 
Mark was useful to him for ministering — exactly what he had not 
been at the beginning of the second missionary journey. 

6. HARDSHIPS AND PERSECUTIONS 

It is evident from II Cor. 11 : 23-27 that Luke has recorded only 
a small fraction of the hardships which Paul endured as a missionary 
of the cross. The tendency to lay exaggerated stress upon martyr- 
dom and suffering, which runs riot in the later legends of the saints, 
is in The Acts conspicuous by its absence. Of the trials which are 
vouched for by the unimpeachable testimony of Paul himself, 
only a few may be identified in the Lucan narrative. It is natural, 
however, to suppose that some of the "perils of rivers" and "perils 
of robbers" were encountered on the journey through the defiles 
of the Taurus mountains from Perga to Pisidian Antioch, and the 
one stoning which Paul mentions is clearly to be identified with the 
adventure at Lystra. In II Tim. 3:11 Paul mentions the perse- 
cutions at Antioch, Iconium and Lystra. 

7. GEOGRAPHY OF THE FIRST JOURNEY 

The first missionary journey led the missionaries into three 
Roman provinces: Cyprus, Pamphylia and Galatia. The name 
"Galatia" had originally designated a district in the north central 
part of Asia Minor, which had been colonized by certain Celtic 
tribes several centuries before Christ. By the Romans, however, 
other districts were added to this original Galatia, and in 25 B. C. 
the whole complex was organized into an imperial province under 
the name Galatia. In the first century after Christ, therefore, 
the name Galatia could be used in two distinct senses. In the 
first place, in the earlier, popular sense, it could designate Galatia 
proper. In the second place, in the later, official sense, it could 
designate the whole Roman province, which included not only 
Galatia proper, but also parts of a number of other districts, in- 
cluding Phrygia and Lycaonia. Of the cities visited on the first 
missionary journey, Pisidian Antioch — which was called "Pisidian" 



THE GOSPEL TO THE GENTILES 79 

because it was near Pisidia — and Iconium were in Phrygia, and 
Lystra and Derbe in Lycaonia; but all four were included in the 
province of Galatia. Many scholars suppose that the churches 
in these cities were the churches which Paul addresses in the Epistle 
to the Galatians. That view is called the "South Galatian theory." 
Others — adherents of the "North Galatian theory" — suppose that 
the epistle is addressed to churches in Galatia proper, in the northern 
part of the Roman province, which were founded on the second 
missionary journey. This question will be noticed again in con- 
nection with the epistle. 

8. TIME OF THE FIRST JOURNEY 

Luke gives very little indication of the amount of time which 
was consumed on this first journey. The hasty reader probably 
estimates the time too low, since only a few incidents are narrated. 
The rapidity of the narrative should not be misinterpreted as 
indicating cursoriness of the labor. The passage through Cyprus, 
Acts 13 : 6, was probably accompanied by evangelizing; the exten- 
sion of the gospel through the whole region of Antioch, v. 49, must 
have occupied more than a few days; the stay at Iconium is desig- 
nated as "long time," Acts 14 : 3; the change of attitude on the 
part of the Lystran populace, v. 19, was probably not absolutely 
sudden; not only Lystra and Derbe but also the surrounding 
country were evangelized, v. 6; and finally the missionaries could 
hardly have returned to the cities from which they had been 
driven out, v. 21, unless the heat of persecution had been allowed 
to cool. Perhaps a full year would not be too high an estimate of 
the time that was occupied by the journey, and still higher estimates 
are by no means excluded. 

9. THE SCENE AT LYSTRA 

The account of the incident at Lystra is one of those inimitable 
bits of narrative which imprint upon The Acts the indisputable 
stamp of historicity. Lystra, though a Roman colony, lay some- 
what off the beaten track of culture and of trade; hence the extreme 
superstition of the populace is what might be expected. It may 
seem rather strange that Paul and Barnabas should have been 
identified with great gods of Olympus rather than with lesser 
divinities or spirits, but who can place a limit upon the superstition 
of an uncultured people of the ancient world? The identification 
may have been rendered easier by the legend of Philemon and 



80 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

Baucis, which has been preserved for us by Ovid, the Latin poet. 
According to that legend, Zeus and Hermes appeared, once upon 
a time, in human form in Phrygia, the same general region in which 
Lystra was situated. Zeus and Hermes are the gods with whom 
Barnabas and Paul were identified; the English Bible simply sub- 
stitutes for these Greek names the names of the corresponding 
Roman deities. The temple of Zeus-before-the-city and the prep- 
arations for sacrifices are described in a most lifelike way, in full 
accord with what is known of ancient religion. We find ourselves 
here in a somewhat different atmosphere from that which prevails 
in most of the scenes described in The Acts. It is a pagan atmos- 
phere, and an atmosphere of ruder superstition than that which 
prevailed in the great cities. The "speech of Lycaonia," v. 11, is 
an especially characteristic touch. Apparently the all-pervading 
Greek was understood at Lystra even by the populace; but in the 
excitement of their superstition they fell very naturally into their 
native language. 

As in the case of Peter's release from prison, so in this incident, 
wonderful lifelikeness of description is coupled with a miracle. 
The scene at Lystra is unintelligible without the miraculous healing 
of the lame man, with which it begins. It is impossible, in The 
Acts as well as in the Gospels, to separate the miraculous from the 
rest of the narrative. The evident truthfulness of the story applies 
to the supernatural elements as well as to the rest. The early Chris- 
tian mission is evidently real; but it is just as evidently super- 
natural. It moved through the varied scenes of the real world, but 
it was not limited by the world. It was animated by a myste- 
rious, superhuman power. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," 
pp. 111-122. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": articles on "Cyprus," 
"Antioch" (2), "Iconium," "Lystra," "Derbe," "Galatia." Hastings, 
"Dictionary of the Bible": Muir, article on "Cyprus"; Massie, article 
on "Bar- Jesus"; Headlam, article on "Paulus, Sergius"; Ramsay, 
articles on "Antioch in Pisidia," "Iconium," "Lystra," "Derbe," 
"Galatia." Ramsay, "St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen," 
pp. 64-129; "The Cities of St. Paul," pp. 247-419; "Pictures of the 
Apostolic Church," pp. 129-153. Lewin, "The Life and Epistles of 
St. Paul," chapter viii. Conybeare and Howson, "The Life and 
Epistles of St. Paul," chapters v and vi. Stalker, "The Life of St. 
Paul," pp. 65-71. Lumby, pp. 155-183. Cook, pp. 437-451. Plumptre, 
pp. 79-93. Rackham, pp. 194-238. 



LESSON XV 
THE COUNCIL AT JERUSALEM 



The lesson for to-day deals with one of the most important events 
in apostolic history. At the Jerusalem, council the principles of 
the Gentile mission and of the entire life of the Church were brought 
to clear expression. If the original apostles had agreed with the 
Judaizers against Paul, the whole history of the Church would have 
been different. There would even have been room to doubt whether 
Paul was really a disciple of Jesus; for if he was, how could he come 
to differ so radically from those whom Jesus had taught? As a 
matter of fact, however, these dire consequences were avoided. 
When the issue was made between Paul and the Judaizers, the 
original apostles decided whole-heartedly for Paul. The unity 
of the Church was preserved. God was guiding the deliberations 
of the council. 

1. THE ACTS AND GALATIANS 

The treatment of to-day's lesson in the Student's Text Book is 
based upon the assumption that Gal. 2 : 1-10 is an account of the 
same visit of Paul to Jerusalem as the visit which is described in 
Acts 15 : 1-29. That assumption is not universally accepted. 
Some scholars identify the event of Gal. 2 : 1-10, not with the 
Apostolic Council of Acts 15 : 1-29, but with the "famine visit" 
of Acts 11 :30; 12 : 25. Indeed, some maintain that the Epistle 
to the Galatians not only contains no account of the Apostolic 
Council, but was actually written before the council was held — 
say at Antioch, soon after the first missionary journey. Of course 
this early dating of Galatians can be adopted only in connection 
with the "South Galatian theory"; for according to the "North 
Galatian theory" the churches addressed in the epistle were not 
founded until after the council, namely at the time of Acts 16 : 6. 

Undoubtedly the identification of Gal. 2 : 1-10 with Acts 11 : 30; 
12 : 25, avoids some difficulties. If Gal. 2 : 1-10 be identified 
with Acts 15 : 1-29, then Paul in Galatians has passed over the 
famine visit without mention. Furthermore there are considerable 
differences between Gal. 2 : 1-10 and Acts 15 : 1-29. For example, 

Sen. T. ITT. 2. 3j 



82 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

if Paul is referring to the Apostolic Council, why has he not men- 
tioned the apostolic decree of Acts 15 : 23-29? These difficulties, 
however, are not insuperable, and there are counter difficulties 
against the identification of Gal. 2 : 1-10 with the famine visit. 

One such difficulty is connected with chronology. Paul says 
that his first visit to Jerusalem took place three years after his 
conversion, Gal. 1 : 18, and — according to the most natural in- 
terpretation of Gal. 2 : 1 — that the visit of Gal. 2 : 1-10 took place 
fourteen years after the first visit. The conversion then occurred 
seventeen years before the time of Gal. 2 : 1-10. But if Gal. 2 : 1-10 
describes the famine visit, then the time of Gal. 2 : 1-10 could not 
have been after about A. D. 46. Counting back seventeen years 
from A. D. 46 we should get A. D. 29 as the date of the conversion, 
which is, of course, too early. 

This reasoning, it must be admitted, is not quite conclusive. 
The ancients had an inclusive method of reckoning time. Accord- 
ing to this method three years after 1914 would be 1916. Hence, 
fourteen plus three might be only what we should call about fifteen 
years, instead of seventeen. Furthermore, Paul may mean in 
Gal. 2 : 1 that his conference with the apostles took place fourteen 
years after the conversion rather than fourteen years after the 
first visit. 

The identification of Gal. 2 : 1-10 with the famine visit is not 
impossible. But on the whole the usual view, which identifies the 
event of Gal. 2 : 1-10 with the meeting at the time of the Apostolic 
Council of Acts 15 : 1-29, must be regarded as more probable. 
The Apostolic Council probably took place roughly at about A. D. 
49. The conversion of Paul then should probably be put at about 
A. D. 32-34. 

2. THE JUDAIZERS 

Conceivably the question about the freedom of the Gentiles 
from the law might have arisen at an earlier time; for Gentiles had 
already been received into the Church before the first missionary 
journey. As a matter of fact, indeed, some objection had been 
raised to the reception of Cornelius. But that objection had easily 
been silenced by an appeal to the immediate guidance of God. 
Perhaps the case of Cornelius could be regarded as exceptional; 
and a similar reflection might possibly have been applied to the 
Gentile Christians at Antioch. There seemed to be no danger, at 
any rate, that the predominantly Jewish character of the Church 
would be lost. Now, however, after a regular Gentile mission had 



THE COUNCIL AT JERUSALEM 83 

been carried on with signal success, the situation was materially 
altered. Evidently the influx of Gentile converts, if allowed to 
go on unhindered, would change the whole character of the Church. 
Christianity would appear altogether as a new dispensation: the 
prerogatives of Israel would be gone. The question of Gentile 
Christianity had existed before, but after the first missionary jour- 
ney it became acute. 

Perhaps, however, there was also another reason why the battle 
had not been fought out at an earlier time. It looks very much 
as though this bitter opposition to the Gentile mission had arisen 
only through the appearance of a new element in the Jerusalem 
church. Were these extreme legalists, who objected to the work 
of Paul and Barnabas — were these men present in the Church from 
the beginning? The question is more than doubtful. It is more 
probable that these legalists came into the Church during the 
period of prosperity which followed upon the persecution of Stephen 
and was only briefly interrupted by the persecution under Herod 
Agrippa I. 

These Jewish Christian opponents of the Gentile mission — these 
"Judaizers" — must be examined with some care. They are de- 
scribed not only by Luke in The Acts but by Paul himself in Gala- 
tians. According to The Acts, some of them at least had 
belonged to the sect of the Pharisees before they had become 
Christians. Acts 15 : 5. 

The activity of the Judaizers is described by Luke in complete 
independence of the account given by Paul. As usual, Luke 
contents himself with a record of external fact, while Paul uncovers 
the deeper motives of the Judaizers' actions. Yet the facts as 
reported by Luke fully justify the harsh words which Paul employs. 
According to Paul, these Judaizers were "false brethren privily 
brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we 
have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage." 
Gal. 2:4. By calling them "false brethren" Paul means simply 
that they had not really grasped the fundamental principle of the 
gospel — the principle of justification by faith. They were still 
trying to earn their salvation by their works instead of receiving 
it as a gift of God. At heart they were still Jews rather than 
Christians. They came in privily into places where they did not 
belong — perhaps Paul means especially into the church at Antioch — 
in order to spy out Christian liberty. Gal. 2 : 4. Compare Acts 
15 :1. 



84 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

The rise of this Judaizing party is easy to understand. In some 
respects the Judaizers were simply following the line of least re- 
sistance. By upholding the Mosaic law they would escape persecu- 
tion and even obtain honor. We have seen that it was the Jews 
who instigated the early persecutions of the Church. Such persecu- 
tions would be avoided by the Judaizers, for they could say to their 
non-Christian countrymen: "We are engaged simply in one form 
of the world-wide Jewish mission. We are requiring our converts 
to keep the Mosaic law and unite themselves definitely with the 
people of Israel. Every convert that we gain is a convert to 
Judaism. The cross of Christ that we proclaim is supplementary 
to the law, not subversive of it. We deserve therefore from 
the Jews not persecution but honor." Compare what Paul says 
about the Judaizers in Galatia. Gal. 6 : 12, 13. 

3. THE APOSTOLIC DECREE 

At first sight it seems rather strange that Paul in Galatians does 
not mention the apostolic decree. Some have supposed that his 
words even exclude any decree of that sort. In Gal. 2 : 6 Paul 
says that the pillars of the Jerusalem church "imparted nothing" 
to him. Yet according to The Acts they imparted to him this 
decree. The decree, moreover, seems to have a direct bearing upon 
the question that Paul was discussing in Galatians; for it involved 
the imposition of a part of the ceremonial law upon Gentile Chris- 
tians. How then, if the decree really was passed as Luke says it 
was, could it have been left unmentioned by Paul? 

There are various ways of overcoming the difficulty. In the 
first place it is not perfectly certain that any of the prohibitions 
contained in the decree are ceremonial in character. Three of 
them are probably ceremonial if the text of most manuscripts of 
The Acts is correct. Most manuscripts read, at Acts 15 : 29: 
"That ye abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, 
and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which if 
ye keep yourselves, it shall be well with you." Here "things 
offered to idols" apparently describes not idolatrous worship, but 
food which had been dedicated to idols; and "blood" describes meat 
used for food without previous removal of the blood. This meaning 
of "blood" is apparently fixed by the addition of "things strangled." 
Since "things strangled" evidently refers to food, probably the two 
preceding expressions refer to food also. According to the great 
mass of our witnesses to the text, therefore, the apostolic decree 



THE COUNCIL AT JERUSALEM 85 

contains a food law. A few witnesses, however, omit all reference 
to things strangled, not only at Acts 15 : 29 but also at v. 20 and 
at ch. 21 : 25. If this text be original, then it is possible to interpret 
the prohibitions as simply moral and not at all ceremonial in 
character. "Things offered to idols" may be interpreted simply 
of idolatry, and "blood" of murder. But if the prohibitions are 
prohibitions of immorality, then they cannot be said to have 
"imparted" anything to Paul; for of course he was as much opposed 
to immorality as anyone. 

However, the more familiar form of the text is probably correct. 
The witnesses that omit the word "strangled" are those that 
attest the so-called "Western Text" of The Acts. This Western 
Text differs rather strikingly from the more familiar text in many 
places. The question as to how far the Western Text of The Acts 
is correct is a hotly debated question. On the whole, however, 
the Western readings are usually at any rate to be discredited. 

In the second place, the difficulty about the decree may be over- 
come by regarding Gal. 2 : 1-10 as parallel not with Acts 15 : 1-29 
but with Acts 11 :30; 12 : 25. This solution has already been 
discussed. 

In the third place, the difficulty may be overcome by that in- 
terpretation of the decree which is proposed in the Student's 
Text Book. The decree was not an addition to Paul's gospel. It 
was not imposed upon the Gentile Christians as though a part of 
the law were necessary to salvation. On the contrary it was simply 
an attempt to solve the practical problems of certain mixed churches 
— not the Pauline churches in general, but churches which stood 
in an especially close relation to Jerusalem. This intrepretation 
of the decree is favored by the difficult verse, Acts 15 : 21. What 
James there means is probably that the Gentile Christians should 
avoid those things which would give the most serious offense to 
hearers of the law. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," 
pp. 125-166. Lightfoot, "Saint Paul's Epistle to the Galatians," pp. 
123-128 ("The later visit of St. Paul to Jerusalem"), 292-374 ("St. Paul 
and the Three"). Ramsay, "St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman 
Citizen," pp. 48-60, 152-175. Lewin, "The Life and Epistles of St. 
Paul," ch. ix. Conybeare and Howson, "The Life and Epistles of St. 
Paul," ch. vii. Stalker, "The Life of St. Paul," pp. 108-118. Lumby, 
pp. 185-200. Cook, pp. 451-458. Plumptre, pp. 93-101. Rackham, 
pp. 238-259, 263-270. 



LESSON XVI 
THE GOSPEL CARRIED INTO EUROPE 



From the rich store of to-day's lesson only a few points can be 
selected for special comment. 

1. TITUS AND TIMOTHY 

At Lystra, Paul had Timothy circumcised. Acts 16 : 3. This 
action has been considered strange in view of the attitude which 
Paul had previously assumed. At Jerusalem, only a short time 
before, he had absolutely refused to permit the circumcision of 
Titus. Evidently, too, he had regarded the matter as of fundamental 
importance. Had Titus been circumcised, the freedom of the Gen- 
tile Christians would have been seriously endangered. 

The presence of Titus at the Apostolic Council is mentioned only 
by Paul in Galatians. It is not mentioned in The Acts. Indeed, 
Titus does not appear in The Acts at all, though in the epistles 
he is rather prominent. This fact, however, really requires no 
further explanation than that the history of Luke is not intended 
to be exhaustive. The restraint exercised by the author of The 
Acts has already been observed, for example, in a comparison of the 
long list of hardships in II Cor. 11 : 23-27 with what Luke actually 
narrates. The helpers of Paul whom Luke mentions are usually 
those who traveled with him. Titus was sent by Paul on at 
least one important mission, II Cor. 7 : 13, 14, but was apparently 
not his companion on the missionary journeys. Luke does not 
concern himself very much with the internal affairs of the churches, 
and it is in this field that Titus is especially prominent in the 
epistles. With regard to the presence of Titus in Jerusalem, the 
different purposes of the narratives in Galatians and in The Acts 
must be borne in mind. The non-circumcision of Titus, so strongly 
emphasized by Paul, was merely preliminary to the public action 
of the church in which Luke was interested. Luke has thought 
it sufficient to include Titus under the "certain other" of the 
Antioch Christians who went up with Paul and Barnabas to Je- 
rusalem. 

The different policy which Paul adopted in the case of Timothy, 

86 



THE GOSPEL CARRIED INTO EUROPE 87 

as compared with his policy about Titus, is amply explained by 
the wide differences in the situation. 

In the first place, when Titus was at Jerusalem, the matter of 
Gentile freedom was in dispute, whereas when Timothy was 
circumcised the question had already been settled by a formal 
pronouncement of the Jerusalem church. After Paul had won the 
victory of principle, he could afford to make concessions where no 
principle was involved. Timothy was recognized as a full member 
of the Church even before his circumcision. Circumcision was 
merely intended to make him a more efficient helper in work among 
the Jews. 

In the second place — and this is even more important — Timothy 
was a half -Jew. It is perhaps doubtful whether Paul under any 
circumstances would have authorized the circumcision of a pure 
Gentile like Titus. But Timothy's mother was Jewish. It must 
always be borne in mind that Paul did not demand the relinquish- 
ment of the law on the part of Jews; and Timothy's parentage gave 
him at least the right of regarding himself as a Jew. If he had 
chosen to follow his Gentile father, the Jews could have regarded 
him as a renegade. His usefulness in the synagogues would have 
been lost. Obviously the circumcision of such a man involved 
nothing more than the maintenance of ancestral custom on the 
part of Jews. Where no principle was involved, Paul was the most 
concessive of men. See especially I Cor. 9 : 19-23. The final 
relinquishment of the law on the part of Jews was rightly left to 
the future guidance of God. 

2. THE ROUTE THROUGH ASIA MINOR 

The difficulty of tracing the route of the missionaries beyond 
Lystra is due largely to the difficulty of Acts 16 : 6. A literal 
translation of the decisive words in that verse would be either "the 
Phrygian and Galatian country" or "Phrygia and the Galatian 
country." According to the advocates of the "South Galatian 
theory," "the Galatian country" here refers not to Galatia proper 
but to the southern part of the Roman province Galatia. "The 
Phrygian and Galatian country" then perhaps means "The Phrygo- 
Galatic country," or "that part of Phrygia which is in the Roman 
province Galatia." The reference then is to Iconium, Pisidian 
Antioch and the surrounding country — after the missionaries had 
passed through the Lycaonian part of the province Galatia (Derbe 
and Lystra) they traversed the Phrygian part of the province. The 



88 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

chief objection to all such interpretations is found in the latter part 
of the verse: "having been forbidden of the Holy Spirit to speak 
the word in Asia." It looks as though the reason why they passed 
through "the Phrygian and Galatian country" was that they 
were forbidden to preach in Asia. But South Galatia was directly 
on the way to Asia. The impossibility of preaching in Asia could 
therefore hardly have been the reason for passing through south 
Galatia. 

Apparently, therefore, the disputed phrase refers rather to some 
region which is not on the way to Asia. This requirement is 
satisfied if Galatia proper is meant — the country in the northern 
part of the Roman province Galatia. When they got to Pisidian 
Antioch, it would have been natural for them to proceed into the 
western part of Asia Minor, into "Asia." That they were forbidden 
to do. Hence they turned north, and went through Phrygia into 
Galatia proper. When they got to the border country between 
Mysia and Galatia proper, they tried to continue their journey 
north into Bithynia, but were prevented by the Spirit. Then 
they turned west, and passing through Mysia without preaching 
arrived at last at the coast, at Troas. 

Nothing is said here about preaching in Galatia proper. But in 
Acts 18 : 23, in connection with the third missionary journey, it is 
said that when Paul passed through "the Galatian country and 
Phrygia" he established the disciples. There could not have been 
disciples in the "Galatian country," unless there had been preaching 
there on the previous journey. On the "North Galatian" theory, 
therefore, the founding of the Galatian churches to which the 
epistle is directed is to be placed at Acts 16 : 6, and the second 
visit to them, which seems to be presupposed by the epistle, is 
to be put at Acts 18 : 23. If it seems strange that Luke does not 
mention the founding of these churches, the hurried character of 
this section of the narrative must be borne in mind. Furthermore, 
the epistle seems to imply that the founding of the churches was 
rather incidental than an original purpose of the journey; for in 
Gal. 4 : 13 Paul says that it was because of an infirmity of the flesh 
that he preached the gospel in Galatia the former time. Apparently 
he had been hurrying through the country without stopping, but 
being detained by illness used his enforced leisure to preach to the 
inhabitants. It is not impossible to understand how Luke came to 
omit mention of such incidental preaching. On the second mis- 
sionary journey attention is concentrated on Macedonia and Greece. 



THE GOSPEL CARRIED INTO EUROPE 89 

3. THE MOVEMENTS OF SILAS AND TIMOTHY 

When Paul went to Athens, Silas and Timothy remained behind 
in Macedonia. Acts 17 : 14. They were directed to join Paul 
again as soon as possible. V. 15. In Acts 18 : 1, 5 they are said 
to have joined him at Corinth. The narrative in The Acts must 
here be supplemented by the First Epistle to the Thessalonians. 
What Luke says is perfectly true, but his narrative is not complete. 
According to the most natural interpretation of I Thess. 3 : 1-5, 
Timothy was with Paul in Athens, and from there was sent to 
Thessalonica. The entire course of events was perhaps as follows : 
Silas and Timothy both joined Paul quickly at Athens according 
to directions. They were then sent away again — Timothy to 
Thessalonica, and Silas to some other place in Macedonia. Then, 
after the execution of their commissions, they finally joined Paul 
again at Corinth. Acts 18 : 5; I Thess. 3 : 6. Soon afterwards, 
all three missionaries were associated in the address of First Thessa- 
lonians. 

4. PAUL AT ATHENS 

In Athens Paul preached as usual in the synagogue to Jews and 
"God-fearers"; but he also adopted another and more unusual 
method — he simply took his stand without introduction in the 
market place, and spoke to those who chanced by. This method 
was characteristically Greek ; it reminds us of the days of Socrates. 

In the market place, Paul encountered certain of the Epicurean 
and Stoic philosophers. Both of these schools of philosophy had 
originated almost three hundred years before Christ, and both 
were prominent in the New Testament period. In their tenets they 
were very different. The Stoics were pantheists. They conceived 
of the world as a sort of great living being of which God is the soul. 
The world does not exist apart from God and God does not exist 
apart from the world. Such pantheism is far removed from the 
Christian belief in the living God, Maker of heaven and earth; 
but as against polytheism, pantheism and theism have something 
in common. Paul in his speech was able to start from this common 
ground. In ethics, the Stoics were perhaps nearer to Christianity 
than in metaphysics. The highest good they conceived to be a 
life that is led in accordance with reason — that reason which is 
the determining principle of the world. The passions must be 
conquered, pleasure is worthless, the wise man is independent of 
external conditions. Such an ethic worked itself out in practice 
in many admirable virtues — in some conception of the universal 



90 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

brotherhood of mankind, in charity, in heroic self-denial. But 
it lacked the warmth and glow of Christian love, and it lacked the 
living God. 

The Epicureans were materialists. The world, for them, was 
a vast mechanism. They believed in the gods, but conceived of 
them as altogether without influence upon human affairs. Indeed, 
the deliverance of man from the fear of the gods was one of the 
purposes of the Epicurean philosophy. The Epicureans were 
interested chiefly in ethics. Pleasure, according to them, is the 
highest good. It need not be the pleasure of the senses; indeed 
Epicurus, at least, the founder of the school, insisted upon a calm 
life undisturbed by violent passions. Nevertheless it will readily 
be seen how little such a philosophy had in common with Chris- 
tianity. 

The conditions under which Paul made his speech cannot be 
determined with certainty. The difficulty arises from the ambiguity 
of "Areopagus." "Areopagus" means "Mars' hill." But the 
term was also applied to the court which held at least some of its 
meetings on the hill. Which meaning is intended here? Did 
Paul speak before the court, or did he speak on Mars' hill merely 
to those who were interested? On the whole, it is improbable at 
any rate that he was subjected to a formal trial. 

The speech of Paul at Athens is one of the three important 
speeches of Paul, exclusive of his speeches in defense of himself at 
Jerusalem and at Csesarea, which have been recorded in The Acts. 
These speeches are well chosen. One of them is a speech to Jews, 
Acts 13 : 16-41; one a speech to Gentiles, Acts 17 : 22-31; and the 
third a speech to Christians, Acts 20 : 18-35. Together they 
afford a very good idea of Paul's method as a missionary and as a 
pastor. As is to be expected, they differ strikingly from one 
another. Paul was large enough to comprehend the wonderful 
richness of Christian truth. His gospel was always the same, but 
he was able to adapt the presentation of it to the character of his 
hearers. 

At Athens, an altar inscribed To An Unknown God provided a 
starting point. The existence of such an altar is not at all sur- 
prising, although only altars to "unknown gods" (plural instead 
of singular) are attested elsewhere. Perhaps the inscription on 
this altar indicated simply that the builder of the altar did not 
know to which of the numberless gods he should offer thanks for 
a benefit that he had received, or to which he should address a 



THE GOSPEL CARRIED INTO EUROPE 9 1 

prayer to ward off calamity. Under a polytheistic religion, where 
every department of life had its own god, it was sometimes difficult 
to pick out the right god to pray to for any particular purpose. 
Such an altar was at any rate an expression of ignorance, and that 
ignorance served as a starting point for Paul. "You are afraid 
that you have neglected the proper god in this case," says Paul 
in effect. "Yes, indeed, you have. You have neglected a very 
important god indeed, you have neglected the one true God, who 
made the world and all things therein." 

In what follows, Paul appeals to the truth contained in Stoic 
pantheism. His words are of peculiar interest at the present day, 
when pantheism is rampant even within the Church. There is a 
great truth in pantheism. It emphasizes the immanence of God. 
But the truth of pantheism is contained also in theism. The theist, 
as well as the pantheist, believes that God is not far from every one 
of us, and that in him we live and move and have our being. The 
theist, as well as the pantheist, can say, "Closer is he than breathing, 
and nearer than hands and feet." The theist accepts all the truth 
of pantheism, but avoids the error. God is present in the world 
— not one sparrow "shall fall on the ground without your Father" 
— but he is not limited to the world. He is not just another 
name for the totality of things, but an awful, mysterious, holy, 
free and sovereign Person. He is present in the world, but also 
Master of the world. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," 
pp. 177-197. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": articles on "Troas," 
"Philippi," "Thessalonica," "Athens," "Areopagus," "Stoics," "Epicu- 
reans," "Corinth," "Gallio," "Silas." Ramsay, "St. Paul the Traveller 
and the Roman Citizen," pp. 175-261; "Pictures of the Apostolic 
Church," pp. 197-239. Lewin, "The Life and Epistles of St. Paul," 
chs. x, xi, and xii. Conybeare and Howson, "The Life and Epistles of 
St. Paul," chs. viii, ix, x, xi, and xii. Stalker, "The Life of St. Paul," 
pp. 71-81. Lumby, pp. 200-239. Cook, pp. 458-476. Plumptre, 
pp. 101-124. Rackham, pp. 260-263, 271-331. For information about 
the recently discovered Gallio inscription, see "The Princeton Theo- 
logical Review," vol. ix, 191 1, pp. 290-298: Armstrong, "Epigraphical 
Note." 



LESSON XVII 
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR RECENT CONVERTS 



The Pauline Epistles fall naturally into four groups: (1) the 
epistles of the second missionary journey (First and Second Thessa- 
lonians) ; (2) the epistles of the third missionary journey (Galatians, 
First and Second Corinthians and Romans) ; (3) the epistles of the 
first imprisonment (Colossians and Philemon, Ephesians and 
Philippians) ; (4) the epistles written after the period covered by 
The Acts (First Timothy, Titus and Second Timothy). 

Each of these groups has its own characteristics. The first group 
is characterized by simplicity of subject matter, and by a special 
interest in the second coming of Christ. The second group is 
concerned especially with the doctrines of sin and grace. The 
third group displays a special interest in the person of Christ and 
in the Church. The fourth group deals with organization, and with 
the maintenance of sound instruction. 

1. SIMPLICITY OF THE THESSALONIAN EPISTLES 

The reason for the peculiarities of First and Second Thessalonians 
has often been sought in the early date of these epistles. On the 
second missionary journey, it is said, Paul had not yet developed 
the great doctrines which appear at later periods of his life. This 
explanation may perhaps contain an element of truth. Undoubtedly 
there was some progress in Paul's thinking. Not everything was 
revealed to him at once. The chief cause, however, for the sim- 
plicity of the Thessalonian epistles is not the early date but the 
peculiar occasion of these epistles. Paul is here imparting his first 
written instruction to an infant church. Naturally he must feed 
these recent converts with milk. The simplicity of the letters 
is due not to immaturity in Paul but to immaturity in the Thessa- 
lonian church. After all, at the time when the Thessalonian 
epistles were written, the major part of Paul's Christian life 
— including the decisive conflict with the Judaizers at Antioch and 
Jerusalem — lay already in the past. 

At any rate the simplicity of the Thessalonian epistles must 
not be exaggerated. In these letters the great Pauline doctrines, 

92 



ENCOURAGEMENT FOR RECENT CONVERTS 93 

though not discussed at length, are everywhere presupposed. 
There is the same lofty conception of Christ as in the other 
epistles, the same emphasis upon his resurrection, the same 
doctrine of salvation through his death. I Thess. 1 : 10; 5:9, 10. 

2. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST 

Undoubtedly the second advent, with the events which are im- 
mediately to precede it, occupies a central position in the Thessa- 
lonian epistles. A few words of explanation, therefore, may here 
be in order. 

Evidently the expectation of Christ's coming was a fundamental 
part of Paul's belief, and had a fundamental place in his preaching. 
"Ye turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and true God, 
and to wait for his Son from heaven" — these words show clearly 
how the hope of Christ's appearing was instilled in the converts 
from the very beginning. I Thess. 1 : 9, 10. To serve the living 
God and to wait for his Son — that is the sum and substance of the 
Christian life. All through the epistles the thought of the Parousia 
— the "presence" or "coming" — of Christ appears as a master 
motive. I Thess. 2 : 19; 3 : 13; 4 : 13 to 5 : 11, 23, 24; II Thess. 

I : 5 to 2 : 12. 

This emphasis upon the second coming of Christ is explained if 
Paul expected Christ to come in the near future. The imminence 
of the Parousia for Paul appears to be indicated by I Thess. 4 : 15: 
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that 
are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise 
precede them that are fallen asleep." This verse is often thought 
to indicate that Paul confidently expected before his death to 
witness the coming of the Lord. Apparently he classes himself 
with those who "are left unto the coming of the Lord" as over 
against those who will suffer death. In the later epistles, it is 
further said, Paul held a very different view. From Second 
Corinthians on, he faced ever more definitely the thought of death. 

II Cor. 5 : 1, 8; Phil. 1 : 20-26. A comparison of I Cor. 15 : 51 
with II Cor. 5:1, 8 is thought to indicate that the deadly peril 
which Paul incurred between the writing of the two Corinthian 
epistles, II Cor. 1 : 8, 9, had weakened his expectation of living 
until Christ should come. After he had once despaired of life, 
he could hardly expect with such perfect confidence to escape the 
experience of death. The possibility of death was too strong to be 
left completely out of sight. 



94 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

Plausible as such a view is, it can be held only with certain 
reservations. 

In the first place, we must not exaggerate the nearness of the 
Parousia according to Paul, even in the earliest period; for in II 
Thess. 2 : 1-12 the Thessalonians are reminded of certain events 
that must occur before Christ would come. The expression of the 
former epistle, I Thess. 5 : 2, that the day of the Lord would come 
as a thief in the night, was to be taken as a warning to unbelievers 
to repent while there was yet time, not as a ground for neglecting 
ordinary provision for the future. In Second Thessalonians Paul 
finds it necessary to calm the overstrained expectations of the 
Thessalonian Christians. 

Furthermore, it is not only in the earlier epistles that expressions 
occur which seem to suggest that the Parousia is near. Rom. 13 : 
11; Phil. 4 : 5. And then it is evident from II Cor. 11 : 23-29 and 
from I Cor. 15 : 30-32 that Paul had undergone dangers before 
the one mentioned in II Cor. 1 : 8, 9, so that there is no reason 
to suppose that that one event caused any sudden change in his 
expectations. 

Lastly, in I Cor. 6 : 14 Paul says that "God both raised the Lord, 
and will raise up us through his power." If that refers to the 
literal resurrection, then here Paul classes himself among those who 
are to die; for if he lived to the Parousia, then there would be no 
need for him to be raised up. 

It is therefore very doubtful whether we can put any very definite 
change in the apostle's expectations as to his living or dying between 
First Corinthians and Second Corinthians. A gradual develop- 
ment in his feeling about the matter there no doubt was. During 
the early part of his life his mind dwelt less upon the prospect of 
death than it did after perils of all kinds had made that prospect 
more and more imminent. But at no time did the apostle regard 
the privilege of living until the Parousia as a certainty to be 
put at all in the same category with the Christian hope itself. 
Especially the passage in First Thessalonians can be rightly inter- 
preted only in the light of the historical occasion for it. Until 
certain members of the church had died, the Thessalonian Christians 
had never faced the possibility of dying before the second coming 
of Christ. Hence they were troubled. Would the brethren who 
had fallen asleep miss the benefits of Christ's kingdom? Paul 
writes to reassure them. He does not contradict their hope of 
living till the coming of Christ, for God had not revealed to him that 



ENCOURAGEMENT FOR RECENT CONVERTS 95 

that hope would not be realized. But he tells them that, supposing 
that hope to be justified, even then they will have no advantage 
over their dead brethren. He classes himself with those who were 
still alive and might therefore live till Christ should come, as over 
against those who were already dead and could not therefore live 
till Christ should come. 

Certain passages in the epistles of Paul, which are not confined 
to any one period of his life, seem to show that at any rate he did 
not exclude the very real possibility that Christ might come in 
the near future. At any rate, however, such an expectation of the 
early coming of Christ was just as far removed as possible from 
the expectations of fanatical chiliasts. It did not lead Paul to 
forget that the times and the seasons are entirely in the hand of 
God. It had no appreciable effect upon his ethics, except to make 
it more intense, more fully governed by the thought of the judgment 
seat of Christ. It did not prevent him from laying far-reaching 
plans, it did not prevent his developing a great philosophy of 
future history in Rom., chs. 9 to 11. How far he was from falling 
into the error he combated in Second Thessalonians! Despite his 
view of the temporary character of the things that are seen, how 
sane and healthy was his way of dealing with practical problems! 
He did his duty, and left the details of the future to God. Hence 
it is hard to discover what Paul thought as to how soon Christ 
would come — naturally so, for Paul did not try to discover it himself. 

3. THE PERSONS ASSOCIATED IN THE ADDRESS 

Almost always other persons are associated with Paul in the 
addresses of the epistles. With regard to the meaning of this custom, 
extreme views should be avoided. On the one hand, these persons — 
usually, at any rate — had no share in the actual composition of the 
epistles. The epistles bear the imprint of one striking personality. 
On the other hand, association in the address means something 
more than that the persons so named sent greetings; for mere 
greetings are placed at the end. The truth lies between the two 
extremes. Probably the persons associated with Paul in the address 
were made acquainted at least in general with the contents of the 
epistles, and desired to express their agreement with what was said. 
In the Thessalonian epistles Silas and Timothy, who had had a 
part in the founding of the Thessalonian church, appear very 
appropriately in the address. 

A question related to that of the persons associated in the 



96 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

addresses is the question of the so-called "epistolary plural." 
The epistolary plural was analogous to our "editorial we" it was 
a usage by which the writer of a letter could substitute "we" for 
"I" in referring to himself alone. In many passages in the letters 
of Paul it is exceedingly difficult to tell whether a plural is merely 
epistolary, or whether it has some special significance. For 
example, whom, if anyone, is Paul including with himself in the 
"we" of I Thess. 3:1? In particular, the question often is 
whether, when Paul says "we," he is thinking of the persons who 
were associated with him in the address of the epistle. On the 
whole it seems impossible to deny that Paul sometimes uses the 
epistolary plural, though his use of it is probably not so extensive 
as has often been supposed. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," 
pp. 197-203. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": Purves (supplemented), 
article on "Thessalonians, Epistles to the." Hastings, "Dictionary of 
the Bible": Lock, articles on "Thessalonians, First Epistle to the" and 
"Thessalonians, Second Epistle to the." M'Clymont, "The New 
Testament and Its Writers," pp. 47-57. Ramsay, "Pictures of the 
Apostolic Church," pp. 240-246. Stalker, "The Life of St. Paul," 
pp. 85-107. Ellicott, "A New Testament Commentary for English 
Readers," vol. iii, pp. 125-170: Mason, "The Epistles of Paul the 
Apostle to the Thessalonians." "The Cambridge Bible for Schools and 
Colleges": Findlay, "The Epistles to the Thessalonians." Zahn, "In- 
troduction to the New Testament," vol. i, pp. 152-164, 203-255. 
Milligan, "St. Paul's Epistles to the Thessalonians." The two last- 
named works are intended primarily for those who have some knowl- 
edge of Greek, but can also be used by others. 



LESSON XVIII 
THE CONFLICT WITH THE JUDAIZERS 



1. APOLLOS 

Before the arrival of Paul at Ephesus an important event had 
taken place in that city — the meeting of Aquila and Priscilla with 
Apollos. Apollos was a Jew of Alexandrian descent. He had already- 
received instruction about Jesus — perhaps in his native city. Of all 
the great cities of the Roman Empire Alexandria alone was approxi- 
mately as near to Jerusalem as was Syrian Antioch. The founding 
of the church at Alexandria is obscure, but undoubtedly it took 
place at a very early time. At a later period Alexandria was of the 
utmost importance as the center of Christian learning, as it had 
been already the center of the learning of the pagan world. Until 
instructed by Aquila and Priscilla, Apollos had known only the 
baptism of John the Baptist. Apparently one important thing that 
he had lacked was an acquaintance with the peculiar Christian 
manifestation of the Holy Spirit. He seems to have been trained 
in Greek rhetoric, whether the word translated "eloquent" in Acts 
18 : 24 means "eloquent" or "learned." Apollos did not remain 
long in Ephesus, but went to Corinth, where, as can be learned 
from First Corinthians as well as from The Acts, his work was of 
great importance. 

2. GALATIANS A POLEMIC 

After studying first the Thessalonian epistles and then Galatians 
in succession the student should be able to form some conception 
of the variety among the epistles of Paul. Certainly there could 
be no sharper contrast. First and Second Thessalonians are simple, 
affectionate letters written to a youthful church ; Galatians is one of 
the most passionate bits of polemic in the whole Bible. We ought 
to honor Paul for his anger. A lesser man might have taken a calmer 
view of the situation. After all, it might have been said, the 
observance of Jewish fasts and feasts was not a serious matter; 
even circumcision, though useless, could do no great harm. But 
Paul penetrated below the surface. He detected the great principles 
that were at stake. The Judaizers were disannulling the grace of God. 

Sen. T. III. 2. gy 



98 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

3. THE ADDRESS. GAL. 1 : 1-5 

The addresses of the Pauline epistles are never merely formal. 
Paul does not wait for the beginning of the letter proper in order 
to say what he has in mind. Even the epistolary forms are suffused 
with the deepest religious feeling. 

The opening of the present letter is anticipatory of what is to 
follow. Dividing the opening into three parts — the nominative 
(name and title of the writer), the dative (name of those to whom 
the letter is addressed), and the greeting — it will be observed that 
every one of these parts has its peculiarity as compared with the 
other Pauline epistles. 

The peculiarity of the nominative is the remarkable addition 
beginning with "not from men," which is a summary of the first 
great division of the epistle, Paul's defense against the personal attack 
of his opponents. Since the Epistle to the Galatians is polemic from 
beginning to end, it is not surprising that the very first word after 
the bare name and title of the author is "not." Paul cannot mention 
his title "apostle" — in the addresses of First and Second Thessa- 
lonians he had not thought it necessary to mention it at all — 
without thinking of the way in which in Galatia it was misrepre- 
sented. "My apostleship," he says, "came not only from Christ, 
but directly from Christ." 

The peculiarity of the dative is its brevity — not "beloved of God, 
called to be saints," or the like, but just the bare and formal "to 
the churches of Galatia." The situation was not one which called 
for pleasant words! 

The greeting is the least varied part in the addresses of the 
Pauline epistles. The long addition to the greeting in Galatians 
is absolutely unique. It is a summary of the second and central 
main division of the epistle, Paul's defense of his gospel. "Christ 
has died to free you. The Judaizers in bringing you into bondage 
are making of none effect the grace of Christ, manifested on the 
cross." That is the very core of the letter. In all of the Pauline 
epistles there is scarcely a passage more characteristic of the man 
than the first five verses of Galatians. An ordinary writer would 
have been merely formal in the address. Not so Paul! 

The exultant supernaturalism of the address should be noticed. 
This supernaturalism appears, in the first place, in the sphere of 
external history — "God the Father, who raised him from the dead." 
Pauline Christianity is based upon the miracle of the resurrection. 
Supernaturalism appears also, however, in the sphere of Christian 



THE CONFLICT WITH THE JUDAIZERS 99 

experience— "who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver 
us out of this present evil world." Christianity is no mere easy 
development of the old life, no mere improvement of the life, but 
a new life in a new world. In both spheres, supernaturalism is 
being denied in the modern Church. Pauline Christianity is very 
different from much that is called Christianity to-day. 

Finally, this passage will serve to exhibit Paul's lofty view of the 
person of Christ. "Neither through man," says Paul, "but through 
Jesus Christ." Jesus Christ is here distinguished sharply from 
men and placed clearly on the side of God. What is more, even 
the Judaizers evidently accepted fundamentally the same view. 
Paul said, "Not by man, but by Jesus Christ"; the Judaizers said, 
"Not by Jesus Christ, but by man." But if so, then the Judaizers, 
no less than Paul, distinguished Jesus sharply from ordinary 
humanity. About other things there was debate, but about the 
person of Christ Paul appears in harmony even with his opponents. 
Evidently the original apostles had given the Judaizers on this point 
no slightest excuse for differing from Paul. The heavenly Christ of 
Paul was also the Christ of those who had walked and talked with 
Jesus of Nazareth. They had seen Jesus subject to all the petty 
limitations of human life. Yet they thought him divine! Could 
they have been deceived? 

4. THE PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE. GAL. 1 : 6-10 

The thanksgiving for the Christian state of the readers, which 
appears in practically every other of the Pauline epistles, is here 
conspicuous by its absence. Here it would have been a mockery. 
The Galatians were on the point of giving up the gospel. There 
was just a chance of saving them. The letter was written in a 
desperate crisis. Pray God it might not be too late! No time here 
for words of thanks! 

In vs. 6-10, Paul simply states the purpose of the letter in a few 
uncompromising words: "You are falling away from the gospel 
and I am writing to stop you." 

5. PAUL'S DEFENSE OF HIS APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY. GAL. 
1 : 11 to 2 : 21 

After stating, Gal. 1 : 11, 12, the thesis that is to be proved in 
this section, Paul defends his independent apostolic authority by 
three main arguments. 

In the first place, vs. 13-24, he was already launched upon his 



100 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

work as apostle to the Gentiles before he had even come into any 
effective contact with the original apostles. Before his conversion, 
he had been an active persecutor. His conversion was wrought, 
not, like an ordinary conversion, through human agency, but by 
an immediate act of Christ. After his conversion it was three 
years before he saw any of the apostles. Then he saw only Peter 
(and James) and that not long enough to become, as his opponents 
said, a disciple of these leaders. 

In the second place, Gal. 2 : 1-10, when he finally did hold a 
conference with the original apostles, they themselves, the very 
authorities to whom the Judaizers appealed, recognized that his 
authority was quite independent of theirs, and, like theirs, of 
directly divine origin. 

In the third place, Gal. 2 : 11-21, so independent was his 
authority that on one occasion he could even rebuke the chief of 
the original apostles himself. What Paul said at that time to 
Peter happened to be exactly what he wanted to say, in the epistle, 
to the Galatians. This section, therefore, forms a transition to 
the second main division of the epistle. It has sometimes been 
thought surprising that Paul does not say how Peter took his 
rebuke. The conclusion has even been drawn that if Peter had 
acknowledged his error Paul would have been sure to say so. 
Such reasoning ignores the character of this section. In reporting 
the substance of what he said to Peter, Paul has laid bare the very 
depths of his own life. To return, after such a passage, to the 
incident at Antioch would have been pedantic and unnecessary. 
Long before the end of the second chapter Paul has forgotten all 
about Peter, all about Antioch, and all about the whole of his past 
history. He is thinking only of the grace of Christ, and how 
some men are trampling it under foot. foolish Galatians, to 
desert so great a salvation! 

6. PAUL'S DEFENSE OF HIS GOSPEL. GAL. 3:1 to 5 : 12 

Salvation cannot be earned by human effort, but must be re- 
ceived simply as a free gift. Christ has died to save us from the 
curse of the law: to submit again to the yoke of bondage is 
disloyalty to him — that is the great thesis that Paul sets out to 
prove. 

He proves it first by an argument from experience. Gal. 3 : 1-5. 
You received the Holy Spirit, in palpable manifestation, before you 
ever saw the Judaizers, before you ever thought of keeping the 



THE CONFLICT WITH THE JUDAIZERS IOI 

Mosaic law. You received the Spirit by faith alone. How then 
can you now think that the law is necessary? Surely there can be 
nothing higher than the Spirit. 

In the second place, there is an argument from Scripture. Not 
those who depend upon the works of the law, but those who believe, 
have the benefit of the covenant made with Abraham. Vs.6-22. 

In the third place, by the use of various figures, Paul contrasts 
the former bondage with the present freedom. Gal. 3 : 23 to 4 : 7. 
The life under the law was a period of restraint like that of child- 
hood, preliminary to faith in Christ. The law was intended to 
produce the consciousness of sin, in order that the resultant hope- 
lessness might lead men to accept the Saviour. Vs. 23-25. But 
now all Christians alike, both Jews and Gentiles, are sons of God 
in Christ, and therefore heirs of the promise made to Abraham. 
Vs. 26-29. Being sons of God, with all the glorious freedom of 
sonship, with the Spirit crying, "Abba, Father," in the heart, how 
can we think of returning to the miserable bondage of an external 
and legalistic religion? Gal. 4 : 1-11. 

In the fourth place, Paul turns away from argument to make a 
personal appeal. Vs. 12-20. What has become of your devotion 
to me? Surely I have not become your enemy just because I tell 
you the truth. The Judaizers are estranging you from me. Listen 
to me, my spiritual children, even though I can speak to you only 
through the cold medium of a letter! 

In the fifth place, Paul, in his perplexity, bethinks himself of one 
more argument. It is an argument that would appeal especially 
to those who were impressed by the Judaizers' method of using the 
Old Testament, but it also has permanent validity. The funda- 
mental principle, says Paul, for which I am arguing, the principle 
of grace, can be illustrated from the story of Ishmael and Isaac. 
Ishmael had every prospect of being the heir of Abraham. It 
seemed impossible for the aged Abraham to have another son. 
Nature was on Ishmael's side. But nature was overruled. So it 
is to-day. As far as nature is concerned, the Jews are the heirs 
of Abraham — they have all the outward marks of sonship. But 
God has willed otherwise. He has chosen to give the inheritance 
to the heirs according to promise. The principle of the divine 
choice, operative on a small scale in the acceptance of Isaac, is 
operative now on a large scale in the acceptance of the Gentile church. 

Finally, Paul concludes the central section of the epistle by 
emphasizing the gravity of the crisis. Gal. 5 : 1-12. Do not be 



102 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

deceived. Circumcision as the Judaizers advocate it is no innocent 
thing; it means the acceptance of a law religion. You must choose 
either the law or grace; you cannot have both. 

7. THE RESULTS OF PAUL'S GOSPEL. GAL. 5 : 13 to 6 : 10 

In this third main division of the epistle Paul exhibits the practical 
working of faith. Paul's gospel is more powerful than the teaching of 
the Judaizers. Try to keep the law in your own strength and you 
will fail, for the flesh is too strong. But the Spirit is stronger than 
the flesh, and the Spirit is received by faith. 

8. CONCLUSION. GAL. 6 : 11-18 

This concluding section, if not the whole epistle, was written 
with Paul's own hand. V. 11. In his other letters Paul dictated 
everything but a brief closing salutation. 

In the closing section, Paul lays the alternative once more before 
his readers. The Judaizers have worldly aims, they boast of 
worldly advantages; but the true Christian boasts of nothing but 
the cross. Christianity, as here portrayed, is not the gentle, easy- 
going doctrine that is being mistaken for it to-day. It is no light 
thing to say, "The world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto 
the world." But the result is a new creature! 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," 
pp. 203-213. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": article on "Ephesus"; 
Purves, articles on "Galatia" and "Galatians, Epistle to the" (supple- 
mented). Hastings, "Dictionary of the Bible": Ramsay, article on 
"Ephesus"; Dods, article on "Galatians, Epistle to the." Ramsay, 
"St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen," pp. 262-282; "Pictures 
of the Apostolic Church," pp. 247-269, 293-300. Lewin, "The Life 
and Epistles of St. Paul, chs. xii, xiii. Conybeare and Howson, "The 
Life and Epistles of St. Paul, chs. xii. xiii, xiv, xv and xvi. Stalker, 
"The Life of St. Paul," pp. 82-84, 108-118. Lumby, pp. 239-266. 
Cook, pp. 476-485. Plumptre, pp. 124-136. Rackham, pp. 33i-37<>- 
M'Clymont, "The New Testament and Its Writers," pp. 70-76. 
Ellicott, "A New Testament Commentary for English Readers," vol. 
ii, pp. 419-468: Sanday, "The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the 
Galatians." "The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges": 
Perowne, "The Epistle to the Galatians." Zahn, "Introduction to 
the New Testament," vol. i, pp. 164-202. Lightfoot, "Saint Paul's 
Epistle to the Galatians." The two last-named works are intended 
primarily for those who have some knowledge of Greek, but can also 
be used by others. 



LESSON XIX 
PROBLEMS OF A GENTILE CHURCH 



Christianity, according to Paul, is an escape from the world. 
Gal. 1 : 4. All human distinctions are comparatively unimportant. 
"There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond 
nor free, there can be no male and female." Gal. 3 : 28. Such a 
doctrine might seem logically to lead to fanaticism. If the Christian 
is already a citizen of heaven, may he not be indifferent to the con- 
ditions of life upon this earth? Such a conclusion was altogether 
avoided by Paul. In First Corinthians Paul is revealed as the most 
practical of men. All human distinctions are subordinate and 
secondary — and yet these distinctions are carefully observed. 
Paul was a man of heroic faith, but he was also possessed of 
admirable tact. 

It is not that the one side of Paul's nature limited the other; it 
is not that common sense acted as a check to transcendental 
religion. On the contrary, the two things seemed to be in perfect 
harmony. Just because Paul was inwardly so entirely free from 
the world, he was also so wise in dealing with worldly affairs. The 
secret of this harmony was consecration. Human relationships, 
when consecrated to God, are not destroyed, but ennobled. They 
cease, indeed, to be an end in themselves, but they become a means 
to Christian service. The Christian man has no right to be in- 
different to the world. If he is, he is no true son of the God who 
made the world, and sent the Lord to save it. The Christian, like 
the man of the world, is profoundly interested in the conditions of 
life on this earth. Only, unlike the man of the world, he is not 
helpless and perplexed in the presence of those conditions; but from 
his vantage ground of heavenly power, he shapes them to the divine 
will. He is interested in the world, but he is interested in it, not 
as its servant, but as its master. 

So in First Corinthians Paul lays hold of certain perplexing 
practical problems with the sure grasp of one who is called to rule 
and not to serve. Everything that he touches he lifts to a higher 
plane. In his hands even the simplest things of life receive a 
heavenly significance. 

103 



104 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

The problems that are discussed in First Corinthians stood in a 
special relation to the environment of the Corinthian church. Most 
of them were due to the threatened intrusions of Greek paganism. 
They are closely analogous, however, to the problems which we have 
to solve to-day. Paganism and worldliness are not dead. The 
Church still stands in the midst of a hostile environment. We can 
still use the teaching of Paul. That teaching will now be examined 
in a few of its important details. 

1. THE PARTIES 

Paul mentions four parties that had been formed in the Corinthian 
church — a Paul-party, an Apollos-party, a Cephas-party and a 
Christ-party. These parties do not seem to have been separated 
from one another by any serious doctrinal differences, and it is 
impossible to determine their characteristics in detail. In the 
section where the party spirit is discussed, Paul blames the 
Corinthians for intellectual pride. This fault has often been 
connected with the Apollos-party. Apollos was an Alexandrian, 
and probably had an Alexandrian Greek training. He might 
therefore have unconsciously evoked among some members of the 
Corinthian church an excessive admiration for his more pretentious 
style of preaching, which might have caused them to despise the 
simpler manner of Paul. Even this much, however, is little more 
than surmise. At any rate, Apollos should not be blamed for the 
faults of those who misused his name. He is praised unstintedly 
by Paul, who was even desirous that he should return at once to 
Corinth. I Cor. 16 : 12. Paul blames the Paul-party just as 
much as any of the other three. 

The Peter-party was composed of admirers of Peter, who had 
either come to Corinth from the scene of Peter's labors elsewhere, 
or simply had known of Peter by hearsay. It is unlikely that Peter 
himself had been in Corinth, for if he had Paul would probably have 
let the fact appear in First or Second Corinthians. The Christ- 
party is rather puzzling. A comparison with the false teachers 
who are combated in Second Corinthians has led some scholars to 
suppose that it was a Judaizing party, which emphasized a personal 
acquaintance with the earthly Jesus as a necessary qualification 
of apostleship. In that case, however, Paul would probably have 
singled out the Christ-party for special attack. More probably 
these were simply men who, in proud opposition to the adherents 
of Paul, of Apollos and of Cephas, emphasized their own independ- 



PROBLEMS OF A GENTILE CHURCH 105 

ence of any leader other than Christ. Of course, the watchword, 
"I am of Christ," if used in a better spirit, would have been alto- 
gether praiseworthy, and indeed Paul desires all the parties to 
unite in it. I Cor. 3 : 21-23. 

Perhaps it is a mistake to attribute to these parties anything like 
stability. On the whole, the passage gives the impression that it 
is not the individual parties that Paul is condemning, but the party 
spirit. That party spirit was manifested by watchwords like those 
which are enumerated in I Cor. 1 : 12, but that that enumeration 
was meant to be complete, does not appear. The whole effort to 
determine the characteristics of the individual parties — an effort 
which has absorbed the attention of many scholars — should perhaps 
be abandoned. 

Paul's treatment of the party spirit exhibits his greatness not 
only as an administrator, but also as a writer. The subject was 
certainly not inspiring; yet under Paul's touch it becomes luminous 
with heavenly glory. The contrast of human wisdom with the 
message of the cross, I Cor. 1 : 18-31, where a splendid rhythm of 
language matches the sublimity of the thought, the wonderful 
description of the freedom and power of the man who possesses the 
Spirit of God, the grand climax of the third chapter, "For all things 
are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or 
life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 
and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's" — these are among the 
passages that can never be forgotten. 

2. THINGS SACRIFICED TO IDOLS 

The question of meats offered to idols, which Paul discusses in 
I Cor. 8 : 1 to 11 : 1, was exceedingly intricate. To it Paul applies 
several great principles. In the first place, there is the principle of 
Christian freedom. The Christian has been delivered from enslav- 
ing superstitions. Idols have no power; they cannot impart any 
harmful character to the good things which God has provided for 
the sustenance of man. In the second place, however, there is the 
principle of loyalty. The fact that idols are nothing does not render 
idol-worship morally indifferent. On the contrary, idolatry is 
always sinful. If the eating of certain kinds of food under certain 
conditions involves participation in idolatry then it is disloyalty to 
the one true God. The joint operation of the two principles of 
freedom and of loyalty seems to lead in Paul's mind to the following 
practical conclusion: — The Christian may eat the meat that has 



106 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

been offered to idols if it is simply put on sale in the market place 
or set before him at an ordinary meal; but he must not take part 
with the heathen in specifically religious feasts. The whole question, 
however, is further viewed in the light of a third principle — the 
principle of Christian love. Even things that are in themselves 
innocent must be given up if a brother by them is led into conduct 
which for him is sin. Christ has died for that weaker brother; 
surely the Christian, then, may not destroy him. Thus love, even 
more than loyalty, limits freedom — but it is a blessed limitation. 
The principles here applied by Paul to the question of the Corinthian 
Christians will solve many a problem of the modern Church. 

3. SPIRITUAL GIFTS 

The principle of Christian love, with the related principle of 
toleration, is applied also to another set of problems, the problems 
with regard to the exercise of spiritual gifts. The passage in which 
Paul discusses these problems, aside from its spiritual and moral 
teaching, is of singular historical interest. It affords a unique 
picture of the devotional meetings of an apostolic church. The 
characteristic of these meetings was the enthusiasm which prevailed 
in them. Paul is not at all desirous of dampening that enthusiasm. 
On the contrary the gifts in question were in his judgment really 
bestowed by the Holy Spirit. Even the gift of tongues, which 
Paul limits in its operation, is in his judgment of genuine value. 
Indeed, he himself had exercised it even more than the other 
Christians. I Cor. 14 ; 18. This last fact should correct any 
unworthy impression which we might have formed with regard to 
the gift. If speaking with tongues was practiced by Paul, then it 
was no mere unhealthy emotionalism. We are to-day unable to 
understand it fully, but in the apostolic Church it was a real ex- 
pression of Christian experience. 

Paul desires, not to dampen the enthusiasm of the Corinthian 
church, but merely to eliminate certain harmful by-products of that 
which was in itself altogether excellent. The first principle which 
he applies is the principle of toleration. There is room in the 
Church for many different kinds of workers. "There are diversities 
of gifts, but the same Spirit." The principle is often neglected in 
the modern Church. Toleration, indeed, is on everyone's lips; 
but it is not the kind of toleration that Paul means. It is often 
nothing more than indifference to the great verities of the faith. 
Such toleration would have met with nothing but an anathema from 



PROBLEMS OF A GENTILE CHURCH 107 

Paul. The toleration that Paul is commending is a toleration, not 
with regard to matters of doctrine, but with regard to methods of 
work. Such toleration is often sadly lacking. Some advocates of 
missions think that almost every Christian who stays at home 
is a coward; some good, conservative elders, on the other hand, 
have little interest in what passes the bounds of their own 
congregation. Some Christians of reserved habits are shocked 
at the popular methods of the evangelists; some evangelists are 
loud in their ignorant denunciation of the Christian scholar. In 
other words, many very devout Christians of the present day 
act as though they had never read the twelfth chapter of First 
Corinthians. 

The principle of toleration, however, culminates in the principle 
of love. If there must be a choice between the exercise of different 
gifts, then the choice should be in favor of those gifts which are 
most profitable to other men. Finally, even the highest spiritual 
gifts are not independent of reason. I Cor. 14 : 32, 33. That is a 
far-reaching principle. Some modern Christians seem to think 
that an appeal to the inward voice of the Spirit excuses them from 
listening to reasonable counsel. Such is not the teaching of Paul. 

4. THE RESURRECTION 

The error which is combated in the fifteenth chapter of the epistle 
could hardly have been a denial, in general, of continued existence 
after death, but was rather a denial of the resurrection of the body 
as over against the Greek doctrine of the immortality of the soul. 
In reply, Paul appeals to the resurrection of Jesus. The appeal 
would seem to be futile unless Paul means that the resurrection of 
Jesus was a bodily resurrection. If the appearances of Jesus were 
no more than incorporeal manifestations of his spirit, then obviously 
the believer in a mere immortality of the soul remained unrefuted. 
In this chapter there is an advance over the simple teaching of 
First Thessalonians. Here the character of the resurrection body 
comes into view. The resurrection body will have a real connection 
with the old body — otherwise there would be no resurrection — but 
the weakness of the old body will be done away. There is con- 
tinuity, but also transformation. 

5. INCIDENTAL INFORMATION ABOUT JESUS 

Certain passages in First Corinthians, which are introduced only 
in an incidental way, as illustrations of the principles which are 



108 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

being applied, are of inestimable historical value. These passages 
include not only the great autobiographical passage in the ninth 
chapter, where Paul illustrates from his own life the limitation of 
the principle of freedom by the principle of love, but also two all- 
important passages which refer to the life of Christ. 

It is generally admitted that First Corinthians was written at 
about A. D. 55. The eleventh chapter of the epistle gives an account 
of the institution of the Lord's Supper, in which Jesus teaches the 
sacrificial significance of his death ; and the fifteenth chapter gives 
a list of the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection. The 
information contained in these passages was not invented by Paul; 
indeed he distinctly says that it was "received." In A. D. 55, then, 
not only Paul, but also the Church generally believed that Jesus' 
death, according to his own teaching, was sacrificial, and appealed 
in support of his resurrection to a wealth of competent testimony. 
But from whom had Paul "received" these things? Hardly from 
anyone except those who had been Christians before him — in other 
words, from the Palestinian church. We have here an irremovable 
confirmation of the Gospel view of Jesus. First Corinthians is a 
historical document of absolutely priceless value. 

The incidental character of these historical passages is especially 
noteworthy. It shows that Paul knew far more about Jesus than 
he found occasion in the epistles to tell. If he had told more, 
no doubt the Gospel picture of Jesus would have received confirma- 
tion throughout. 



In the Library — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," 
pp. 213-221. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": article on "Apollos"; 
Purves and Davis, article on "Corinthians, Epistles to the." Hastings, 
"Dictionary of the Bible": Robertson, article on "Corinthians, First 
Epistle to the." M'Clymont, "The New Testament and Its Writers," 
pp. 58-64. Ellicott, "A New Testament Commentary for English 
Readers," vol. ii, pp. 281-356: Shore, "The First Epistle of Paul the 
Apostle to the Corinthians." "The Cambridge Bible for Schools": 
Lias, "The First Epistle to the Corinthians." Zahn, "Introduction 
to the New Testament," vol. i, pp. 256-306. "The International 
Critical Commentary": Robertson and Plummer, "A Critical and 
Exegetical Commentary on the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Co- 
rinthians." The two last-named works presuppose a knowledge of 
Greek. 



LESSON XX 

THE APOSTLE AND HIS MINISTRY 



1. ADDRESS AND THANKSGIVING. II Cor. 1 : 1-11 

In First Corinthians the obscure Sosthenes is found to be associated 
with Paul in the address of the epistle; in Second Corinthians it is 
Timothy, one of the best-known of the helpers of Paul. Even if 
that mission of Timothy to Corinth which is mentioned in First 
Corinthians had resulted in failure, Timothy's usefulness in the 
church was not permanently affected. 

After the address, comes, as is usual in the Pauline Epistles, an 
expression of thanksgiving to God. This time, however, it is not 
thanksgiving for the Christian state of the readers, but thanks- 
giving for Paul's own escape from danger. The absence of thanks- 
giving for the readers does not mean here, as in the case of Galatians, 
that there was nothing to be thankful for in the church that is being 
addressed, for the whole first section of the letter is suffused with a 
spirit of thankfulness for the Corinthians' return to their true 
allegiance; it means rather simply that the thought of the deadly 
personal danger, and of the remarkable escape, were for the moment 
in the forefront of Paul's thought. Even that personal matter, 
however, was used by Paul to fortify his readers against similar 
trials, and especially to strengthen still further the bonds of sympathy 
which had at last been restored between him and them. 

What this danger was from which Paul had just escaped cannot 
be determined. It is as much a puzzle as the fighting with beasts 
at Ephesus, which Paul mentions in I Cor. 15 : 32. Neither one 
nor the other can very well be identified with the trouble caused by 
Demetrius the silversmith, Acts 19 : 23-41, for there Paul does not 
seem to have been in deadly danger. Some suppose that the fighting 
with beasts is literally meant ; that Paul was actually exposed to the 
wild beasts in the arena and escaped only in some remarkable way. 
It should be observed that Paul does not say, with regard to the 
danger mentioned in Second Corinthians, that it occurred in Ephesus, 
but only that it occurred in Asia. The expression, "weighed down," 
in II Cor. 1 : 8 perhaps points to some form of illness rather than to 
persecution. 

109 



110 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

2. THE APOSTLE AND THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION. 
II Cor. 1 : 12 to 7 : 16 

Immediately after the thanksgiving for his escape from death, 
Paul begins the defense of his ministry. After the suspense of the 
previous days, he feels the need of reviewing the methods and 
motives of his labor among the Corinthians, in order that the 
last vestige of suspicion may be removed. This he does in an unre- 
strained, cordial sort of way, which reveals the deepest secrets of 
his heart, and culminates here and there in grand expositions of the 
very essence of the gospel. 

First, in just a passing word, ch. 1: 13, 14, he defends his letters 
against that charge of obscurity or concealment which is hinted at 
elsewhere in the epistle. Compare ch. 4 : 1-4; 11 : 6. 

Next, he defends himself against the charge of fickleness in his 
journey plans. At some time, probably during or after the unsuc- 
cessful visit alluded to in ch. 2:1, Paul had formed the plan of 
returning to Corinth by the direct route. This plan he had not 
carried out, and his abandonment of it apparently confirmed the 
impression of weakness which had been left by the unsuccessful 
visit. "He is very bold in letters," said his opponents, "but when 
he is here he is weak, and now he is afraid to return." It was a 
petty criticism, and a lesser man might have answered it in a petty 
way. But Paul was able to lift the whole discussion to a loftier 
plane. His answer to the criticism was very simple — the reason 
why he had not returned to Corinth at once was that he did not 
want to return again in grief and in severity; for the sake of the 
Corinthians themselves he wanted to give them time to repent, 
before the final and fatal issue should be raised. Characteristically, 
however, Paul does not content himself with this simple answer; 
indeed he does not even begin with it. A specific explanation of the 
change in his plans would have refuted the criticism immediately 
under consideration, but Paul felt the need of doing far more than 
that. What he desired to do was to make not only this criticism, but 
all similar criticisms, impossible. This he does by the fine reference 
to the positive character of his gospel. "You say that I am un- 
certain in my plans, that I say yes and no in one breath. Well, 
the gospel that I preached, at any rate, was no such uncertain thing 
as that. My gospel was a great 'Yes' to all the promises of God." 
Such a method of refutation lifts the reader far above all petty 
criticisms to the great things of Paul's gospel. 

Yet this reference to great principles is no mere excuse to avoid 



THE APOSTLE AND HIS MINISTRY ill 

the simple question at issue. On the contrary, Paul is perfectly 
frank about the reason why he had not gone to Corinth as he had 
intended. It was out of love to the Corinthian church, and this 
had also prompted the writing of a severe letter. Here, ch. 2 : 5-11, 
Paul refers to the offender whose case had been made a test at the 
time of the recent painful visit. This offender was probably different 
from the incestuous person who is so sternly dealt with in I Cor. 
5 : 1-5. His offense is thought by many to have been some personal 
insult to Paul, II Cor. 2 : 5, but this is not quite certain. At any 
rate, whatever his original offence, Paul's demand for his punish- 
ment had become a test of the loyalty of the church. At first the 
demand had been refused, but now the majority of the congregation 
has agreed and the man himself is deeply repentant, so that Paul 
is only afraid lest severity may go too far. It is hardly worth while 
saying that the character of Paul was entirely free from vindictive- 
ness. When the discipline of the Church would permit it, Paul was 
the first to propose counsels of mercy. 

The reference to the epistles of commendation which had been 
used by Paul's opponents in Corinth, ch. 3:1, has been made the 
basis of far-reaching conclusions about the whole history of the 
apostolic age. From whom could the opponents have received 
their letters of introduction? Only, it is said, from Palestine, and 
probably from the original apostles. This conclusion is hasty, to 
say the least. It should be noticed that not only letters to the 
Corinthian church but also letters from the church are apparently 
in mind. V. 1. If, then, the Corinthian church had been asked to 
supply these false teachers with letters of commendation, perhaps 
the other churches that had supplied them with letters were no 
nearer to Jerusalem than Corinth was. 

The mention of these letters of commendation introduces one of 
the grandest passages in the New Testament. "I," says Paul, by 
way of transition, "do not need any letters of commendation. My 
work is sufficient commendation. What I have accomplished in 
the hearts of men is an epistle written by the Spirit of God." Then 
follows the magnificent exposition of the ministry of the new 
covenant. That ministry is first contrasted with the old dispensa- 
tion, perhaps with reference to an excessive valuation, by the 
opponents, of a continued Judaism in the Church. The old covenant 
was glorious, but how much more glorious is the new! The old 
was a ministry of condemnation, but the new is a ministry of 
justification. The old was a ministry of an external law, the new 



112 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

is a ministry of the life-giving power of the Spirit of God. There 
is no reason any longer for concealment. The Spirit brings free- 
dom and openness and light. 

This treasure is held indeed in earthen vessels. The recent 
danger that Paul has passed through, as well as the overpowering 
hardships of his life, make him painfully conscious of human weak- 
ness. But that weakness is blessed which in all the fuller glory 
reveals the all-conquering power of God. The Christian need 
never despair, for by the eye of faith he can detect those unseen 
things which are eternal. The present body may be dissolved, but 
the resurrection body will be ready. Indeed, even if the Christian 
by death is separated for a time altogether from the body, he need 
not fear. To be absent from the body is to be present with the 
Lord. 

The climax of the whole glorious passage is the brief exposition 
of the ministry of reconciliation which begins with ch. 5 : 11. Here 
we are introduced to the secret of the remarkable life which is 
revealed in Second Corinthians and in the other epistles of Paul. 
Reconciliation with God through the death of Christ in our behalf 
and in our stead, consequent freedom from sin and from the world, 
a new and glorious life under the favor of God — these are the things 
that Paul experienced in his own life, these are the things that he 
preached to others, regardless of all hardship and criticism, and 
these are the things, now and always, which contain the real springs 
of the Church's power. 

After an uncompromising warning against impurity and worldli- 
ness, delivered from the lofty vantage ground that has just been 
reached, the apostle gives expression once more to the joy that he 
has received from the good news which Titus brought him; and then 
proceeds to an entirely different matter. 

3. THE COLLECTION. II Cor., chs. 8, 9 

Two whole chapters of the epistle are devoted to the collection 
for the Jerusalem church. The history of this matter, so far as it 
can be traced, is briefly as follows: At the time of the Jerusalem 
council, the pillars of the Jerusalem church had requested Paul to 
remember the Jerusalem poor. At the time when First Corinthians 
was written, Paul had already started a collection for this purpose 
in the churches of Galatia, and in First Corinthians he asks the 
Corinthians to take part. I Cor. 16 : 1-4. In Second Corinthians 
he announces that the churches of Macedonia have contributed 



THE APOSTLE AND HIS MINISTRY 1 13 

bountifully, II Cor. 8 : 1-5, and urges the continuance of the col- 
lection in Corinth. Finally, in the Epistle to the Romans, which 
was written from Corinth only a short time after Second Corinthians, 
he mentions the collection in Macedonia and Achaia, announces 
his intention of journeying to Jerusalem with the gifts, and asks 
the Roman Christians to pray that the ministration may be ac- 
ceptable to the Jerusalem church. Rom. 15 : 25-27, 31, 32. 

With his customary foresight, Paul made careful provision for 
the administration of the gifts, in order to avoid all possible mis- 
understanding or suspicion. For example, the churches are to 
choose delegates to carry their bounty to Jerusalem. I Cor. 16 : 3. 
Possibly the delegates are to be identified with the persons who are 
named in Acts 20 : 4. Luke does not mention the collection, but 
it is alluded to in Acts 24 : 17. 

Paul's treatment of the collection in II Cor., chs. 8, 9, was not 
only adapted to accomplish its immediate purpose, but also has 
been of high value to the Christian Church. These chapters have 
assured to the right use of wealth a place of real dignity among the 
forms of Christian service. 

4. THE OPPONENTS. II Cor., chs. 10 to 13 

The striking change of tone at ch. 10 : 1 is amply explained by 
the change of subject. In the first part of the epistle, Paul has been 
thinking of the return of the majority of the congregation to their 
allegiance; now he turns to deal with the false teachers who have 
been causing all the trouble. It is still necessary to meet their 
attacks and remove every vestige of influence which they may 
still have retained over the church. Their attack upon Paul was 
of a peculiarly mean and unworthy character; the indignation which 
Paul displays in these chapters was fully justified. 

The opponents were certainly Jews, and prided themselves on 
the fact. Ch. 11 : 22. But it does not appear with certainty that 
they were Judaizers. If they were intending to come forward with 
any demand of circumcision or of observance of the Mosaic law, 
such demand was still kept in the background. Indeed, there is no 
indication that the doctrine that they preached was different in 
important respects from that of Paul. In particular, there is no 
indication that they advocated a different view about Jesus. One 
verse, ch. 11 : 4, has, indeed, been regarded as such an indication, 
but only by an exceedingly doubtful interpretation. Probably the 
other Jesus whom the opponents preached existed only in their own 

Sen. r. ill. 55. 



114 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

claim. They said merely, "Paul has kept something back," v. 6, 
margin; ch. 4 :3; "we alone can give you adequate information; 
we alone can proclaim the true Jesus, the true Spirit and the true 
gospel." In reality, however, they had nothing new to offer. 
Paul had made the whole gospel known. 

It is further not even quite clear that the opponents laid stress 
upon a personal acquaintance with the earthly Jesus, and so played 
the original apostles off against Paul. The expression "chiefest 
apostles," ch. 11 : 5, is clearly nothing more than an ironical 
designation of the false teachers themselves. It is true, the false 
teachers claimed to belong in a special sense to Christ, ch 10 : 7, 
and to be in a special sense "ministers of Christ." Ch. 11 : 23. 
But it is not at all clear — despite ch. 5 : 16 — that the connection 
which they claimed to have with Christ was that of personal 
acquaintance, either directly or through their authorities, with the 
earthly Jesus. Finally, these false teachers cannot with any 
certainty be connected with the Christ-party of First Corinthians. 

The chief value of the last four chapters of the epistle is the wealth 
of autobiographical material which they contain. Against the 
insidious personal attacks of the opponents, Paul was obliged to 
speak of certain personal matters about which he might otherwise 
have been silent. Had he been silent, the Church would have been 
the loser. To know the inner life of the apostle Paul is to know 
Christ; for Paul was in Christ and Christ was in Paul. What could 
compensate us for the loss of II Cor. 12 : 7-10? Through these 
words the bodily weakness of Paul has forever been made profitable 
for the strength of the Church. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," pp. 
221-225. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": Purves and Davis, article 
on "Corinthians, Epistles to the." Hastings, "Dictionary of the 
Bible": Robertson, article on "Corinthians, Second Epistle to the." 
M'Clymont, "The New Testament and Its Writers," pp. 65-69. Beet, 
"A Commentary on St. Paul's Epistles to the Corinthians," seventh 
edition, pp. 1-20, 317-542. Ellicott, "A New Testament Commentary 
for English Readers," vol. ii, pp. 357-417: Plumptre, "The Second 
Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians." "The Cambridge 
Bible for Schools": Lias, "The Second Epistle to the Corinthians." 
Zahn, "Introduction to the New Testament," vol. i, pp. 307-351. The 
last-named work presupposes a knowledge of Greek. 



LESSON XXI 
THE GOSPEL OF SALVATION 



The Epistle to the Romans, though it is not merely a systematic 
treatise, is more systematic than any other of the Pauline Epistles. 
Unlike the epistles that preceded it, it was written in a period of 
comparative quiet between two great stages in the apostle's work. 
Not unnaturally, therefore, it contains something like a summary 
of Paul's teaching. The summary, however, does not embrace the 
whole of the Pauline theology, but only one important department 
of it. The nature of God, for example, and the person of Christ, 
are not discussed in the Epistle to the Romans. Of course Paul 
held very definite views upon these subjects, and these views are 
presupposed on every page of the epistle — especially the loftiest 
possible conception of the person of Christ lies at the background of 
this entire account of Christ's work — but such presuppositions do 
not in this epistle receive an elaborate exposition. The real subject 
of the first eight chapters of Romans is not theology in general, 
but simply the way of salvation. How can man be saved — that is 
the question which Paul answers in this epistle. 

Obviously the question is of the utmost practical importance. 
The Epistle to the Romans is absolutely fundamental for the 
establishment of Christian faith. This estimate, which was 
formerly a matter of course, has in recent years unfortunately fallen 
into disrepute. The Epistle to the Romans, after all, it is said, is 
concerned with theology, whereas what we need is simple faith. 
We must return from Romans to the Gospels, from Paul to Christ. 
The words of Jesus, recorded in the Gospels, are thus emphasized 
to the prejudice of the teaching of the apostle. 

This tendency should be resisted with the utmost firmness. It 
is striking at the very vitals of the Church's life. After all, Jesus 
came, as has been well said, not to say something, but to do some- 
thing. His words are very precious, we could never do without 
them; but after all they are subsidiary to his deeds. His life and 
death and resurrection — these are the things that wrought salvation 
for men. And these great saving acts could not be fully explained 
till after they had been done. For an explanation of them, therefore, 

ii5 



Il6 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

we must turn not only to the Gospels but also to the epistles, not 
only to Jesus but also to Paul. Paul was in a special sense our 
apostle; like us, he had never known the earthly Jesus. Just for 
that reason, through the divine revelation that was granted him, 
he could guide all subsequent generations to the risen Christ. 
The Epistle to the Romans, more fully perhaps than any other book, 
points out the meaning of the death and resurrection of Christ. 
It does not, indeed, solve all mysteries; but it reveals enough to 
enable us to believe. 

1. THE EDICT OF CLAUDIUS 

The edict of Claudius which expelled the Jews from Rome was 
certainly not permanently effective; indeed there are some indica- 
tions that it was modified almost as soon as it was issued. But 
although it did not keep the Jews out of Rome, it may at least have 
hastened the separation between Judaism and Christianity. If 
the conflict between the two, as a conflict within Judaism, had 
given rise to the hostile edict, then, as has plausibly been suggested, 
the separation might be in the interests of both parties. If the 
church were kept separate from the synagogue, the Jews would be 
protected from dangerous disorders and from the opposition which 
would be encountered by a new and illegal religion, and the Chris- 
tians, on the other hand, would be protected from the Claudian 
edict against the Jews. 

2. ADDRESS, THANKSGIVING AND SUBJECT. Rom. 1 : 1-17 

The address of the Epistle to the Romans is remarkable for the 
long addition which is made to the name of the author. Paul was 
writing to a church which he had never seen. His excuse for writing 
was to be found only in the gospel with which he had been intrusted. 
At the very start, therefore, he places his gospel in the foreground. 
Here, however, it is rather the great presupposition of the gospel 
which is in mind — Jesus Christ in his double nature. One who has 
been commissioned to preach to the Gentiles the gospel of such a 
Christ may certainly address a letter to Rome. 

In connection with the customary thanksgiving, Paul mentions 
his long-cherished desire of visiting the Roman Christians. He 
desires to impart unto them some spiritual gift — no, he says, rather 
he desires to receive from them as well as to give. The correction 
is characteristic of Paul. Some men would have felt no need of 
making it. As a matter of fact, Paul was fully in a position to 



THE GOSPEL OF SALVATION 1 17 

impart spiritual gifts. But he was afraid his readers might feel 
hurt — as though the apostle thought they could make no return for 
the benefit which the visit would bring them. It is an exquisite bit 
of fine discernment and delicate courtesy. But like all true courtesy, 
it was based on fact. Paul was really not a man to decline help and 
comfort from even the humblest of the brethren. 

In vs. 16, 17, the theme of the epistle is announced — the gospel 
the power of God unto salvation, the gospel which reveals a right- 
eousness of God that is received by faith. The meaning of "a 
righteousness of God" has been much disputed. Some think that 
it refers to the righteousness which is an attribute of God. More 
probably, however, it is to be interpreted in the light of ch. 10 : 3; 
Phil. 3:9. It then refers to that right relation of man to God which 
God himself produces. There are two ways of receiving a sentence 
of acquittal from God the Judge. One is by keeping the law of God 
perfectly. The other is by receiving through faith the righteousness 
of Christ. The former is impossible because of sin. The latter has 
been made possible by the gift of Christ. As sinners, we are subject 
to the punishment of death. But that punishment has been paid 
for us by Christ. We therefore go free; we can start fresh, with the 
consciousness of God's favor. We are "justified" — that is, "pro- 
nounced righteous" — not because we are free from sin, but because 
by his grace God looks not upon us but upon Christ. We have been 
pronounced righteous, but not on account of our own works. We 
possess not our own righteousness but "a righteousness of God." 

This righteousness of God is received by faith. Faith is not a 
work, it is simply the willingness to receive. Christ has promised 
by his death to bring us to God. We may not understand it all, 
but is Christ to be believed? Study the Gospel picture of him, and 
you will be convinced that he is. 

Justification by faith, then, means being pronounced righteous 
by God, although we are sinners. It might seem to be a very 
dangerous doctrine. If we are pronounced righteous whether we 
are really righteous or not, then may we not go on with impunity 
in sin? Such reasoning ignores the results of justification. Faith 
brings more than forgiveness. It brings a new life. In the new 
life sin has no place. The Christian has broken forever with his old 
slavery. Though perfection has not yet been attained in practice, it 
has been attained in principle, and by the power of the Spirit all 
sin will finally be removed. The Christian cannot compromise with 
sin. Salvation is not only from the guilt of sin, but also from the 



Il8 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

power of it. The sixth chapter of Romans leaves no room for moral 

laxness 

3. ROMANS AND GALATIANS 

It is interesting to compare Romans with Galatians. The subject 
of the two epistles is the same. Both are concerned with salvation 
by faith alone, apart from the works of the law. In many passages 
the two are parallel. The fuller exposition in Romans is often the 
best commentary upon the briefer statements of Galatians. For 
example, the words: "What then is the law? It was added because 
of transgressions" — very obscure as they stand in Galatians — are 
explained by Rom. 5 : 20; ch. 7. In tone, however, the two epistles 
are widely different. Galatians is written in view of one definite 
attack upon the gospel; Romans is a general exposition summing 
up the results of the conflict. When Paul wrote Galatians he was 
in the thick of the battle; at the time of Romans he had fought his 
way through to the heights. 

The Epistle to the Romans, however, is no cold, purely logical 
treatise. Theology here is interwoven with experience. No ex- 
position can do justice to this wonderful letter. To read about it 
is sometimes dull; but to read it is life. 

4. THE PAULINE PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY. Rom., chs. 9 to 11 

Chapters 9 to 11 of this epistle are interesting in a great many 
ways. They are interesting, for example, in their tremendous con- 
ception of the mystery of the divine will. The ninth chapter of 
Romans is a good corrective for any carelessness in our attitude 
toward God. After all, God is a mystery. How little we know 
of his eternal plan! We must ever tremble before him. Yet it is 
such a God who has invited us, through Christ, to hold communion 
with himself. There is the true wonder of the gospel — that it 
brings us into fellowship, not with a God of our own devising, not 
with one who is a Father and nothing else, but with the awful, holy, 
mysterious Maker and Ruler of all things. The joy of the believer 
is the deepest of all joys. It is a joy that is akin to holy fear. 

These chapters are also interesting because they attest the attach- 
ment of Paul to the Jewish people. Where is there a nobler ex- 
pression of patriotism than Rom. 9:1-5? Exclusive attention to 
the polemic passages where Paul is defending the Gentile mission 
and denying the efficacy of the Mosaic law, have produced in the 
minds of some scholars a one-sided view of Paul's attitude toward 
Israel. Paul did not advocate the destruction of the identity of his 



THE GOSPEL OF SALVATION 119 

people. He believed that even the natural Israel had a part to play 
on the stage of history. These chapters of Romans, together with 
some other passages in the epistles, such as I Cor. 9 : 20, confirm what 
the Book of The Acts tells us about Paul's willingness, when no 
principle was involved, to conform to Jewish custom. 

5. INTEGRITY OF THE EPISTLE 

The genuineness of the Epistle to the Romans is undoubted, but 
its "integrity" has been questioned. The epistle was certainly 
written by Paul, but was it all, as we now have it, originally part 
of one letter? By many scholars the greater part of the sixteenth 
chapter is supposed to have originally formed part of an epistle of 
Paul written not to Rome but to Ephesus. The chief argument for 
this hypothesis is derived from the long list of names in ch. 16: 3-15. 
Could Paul have had so many personal acquaintances in a church 
which he had never visited? The argument is not conclusive. 
Just because Paul could not appeal in his letter to any personal 
acquaintance with the Roman church as a whole, it would be natural 
for him to mention at least all the individuals in the church with 
whom he stood in any sort of special relation. Furthermore, the 
frequency of travel in the Roman Empire must be borne in mind. 
Many persons whom Paul had met on his travels would naturally 
find their way to the capital. Finally, Aquila and Priscilla, though 
they had recently lived in Ephesus, I Cor. 16 : 19, may easily have 
resumed their former residence in Rome. Acts 18 : 2 ; Rom. 16 : 3-5. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," pp. 
226-231. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": Purves, (supplemented) 
article on "Romans, Epistle to the." Hastings, "Dictionary of the 
Bible": Robertson, article on "Romans, Epistle to the." M'Clymont, 
"The New Testament and Its Writers," pp. 77-82. Gifford, "The 
Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans." Ellicott, "A New Testament 
Commentary for English Readers," vol. ii, pp. 193-280: Sanday, 
"The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans." "The Cambridge 
Bible for Schools": Moule, "The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the 
Romans." "The International Critical Commentary": Sanday and 
Headlam, "A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to 
the Romans." Zahn, "Introduction to the New Testament," vol. i, 
PP- 35 2 -438. The two last-named works presuppose a knowledge of 
Greek. 



LESSON XXII 
PAUL'S JOURNEY TO ROME 



The material of this lesson is so extensive that only the barest 
summary can be attempted in the class. The great features of the 
narrative should be made to stand out clear — the bitter opposition 
of the Jews, the favorable attitude of the Roman authorities, the 
journey to Rome. Before the lesson is over the student should have 
a deeper impression of the character of Paul — his perfect ease and 
tactfulness in the various relations of life, his unswerving boldness 
where the gospel was concerned, his inexplicable power. Finally, 
the peculiar quality of the narrative should be appreciated. These 
chapters contain the two longer "we-sections" of The Acts. 

1. THE JOURNEY TO TROAS 

At first Paul had intended to sail direct from Corinth to Syria, but 
a plot of the Jews caused him to change his plan. Acts 20 : 3. It 
has been suggested that the ship upon which he was intending to sail 
may have carried non-Christian Jews, going to the approaching 
feast in Jerusalem, v. 16, who could have done him harm upon the 
voyage. By choosing the route through Macedonia he averted the 
immediate danger. 

The use of the first person plural begins again at Acts 20 : 5. It 
was broken off at ch. 16: 17. Luke had parted from Paul at Philippi 
on the second missionary journey; and it is at Philippi that he 
now appears again. The following journeys, in which Luke him- 
self took part, are narrated with the utmost vividness and minute- 
ness. The narrative amounts practically to a diary — in some 
sections every day is accounted for. 

The departure from Philippi took place "after the days of un- 
leavened bread," that is, after the passover week. Acts 20 : 6. 
From the account of the subsequent journey it is not quite 
possible to tell whether Paul actually succeeded in carrying out 
his plan of being in Jerusalem at Pentecost. Pentecost, it will be 
remembered, came fifty days after the beginning of the passover 
week. 

120 



PAUL'S JOURNEY TO ROME 121 

2. TROAS 

The description of the last evening at Troas, when Paul pro- 
longed his discourse in the lighted room, is one of the inimitably 
vivid scenes of The Acts. Probably we are to understand that 
Eutychus, who fell down from a window in the third story, was 
really killed and not merely stunned. Verse 10 might seem to 
indicate that he was only stunned, but the last words of v. 9 point 
rather to actual, and not merely apparent, death. The miracle is 
paralleled by the raising of Dorcas by Peter. Acts 9 : 36-42. 

3. THE ELDERS OF EPHESUS 

When Paul told the elders that they would see his face "no more," 
or perhaps rather "no longer," Acts 20 : 25, 38, he did not necessarily 
mean that he would certainly never return to Ephesus. For a period 
of years, at any rate, he was intending to transfer his labors to the 
west; his return to Ephesus, therefore, was at all events uncertain. 
His long activity at Ephesus, which had occupied the better part of 
the past three years, was for the present at an end. From the 
Pastoral Epistles it appears that as a matter of fact Paul did visit 
Ephesus again after his release from the first Roman imprisonment. 

4. ARRIVAL IN PALESTINE 

At Tyre and at Caesarea, Paul received warnings against visiting 
Jerusalem. These warnings came through the Spirit, Acts 21 : 4, 
11, but not in the sense that the Holy Spirit commanded Paul not 
to go. The meaning is that the Spirit warned him of the dangers 
that were to befall him. In meeting these dangers bravely he was 
acting in full accordance with the divine will. 

At Acts 21 : 18 the use of the first person plural ceases, because 
Luke had no immediate part in the events that followed. It is 
natural to suppose, however, that he remained in Palestine, for he 
joined Paul again in Caesarea, at the beginning of the journey to 
Rome. For the events of Paul's imprisonment in Jerusalem and in 
Caesarea he had first-hand information. 

The vow in which Paul took part at the request of James was at 
least similar to the Nazirite vow described in Num. 6 : 1-21. Not 
all the details of such vows are perfectly clear. Paul himself, on 
his own account, had assumed a similar vow on his second missionary 
journey, Acts 18 : 18 — unless indeed, as is grammatically possible, 
the words in that passage refer to Aquila rather than to Paul. 

It was not true, as the Christians of Judea had been led to think, 



122 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

that Paul taught the Jewish Christians of the disperson to forsake 
the law of Moses, though he was insistent that the Gentile Christians 
must not adopt that law. It was not even true that he himself had 
altogether given up keeping the law, though the exigencies of his 
,Gentile work required him to give it up very often, and though he 
regarded himself as inwardly free from the law. His willingness to 
take part in a Jewish vow in Jerusalem is therefore not surprising. 
His action on this occasion was fully justified by the principles of 
his conduct as described in I Cor. 9 : 20, 21. The keeping of the 
law was not for Paul a means of obtaining salvation. Salvation was 
a free gift of God, through the death of Christ. But for the present 
the general relinquishment of the law and abandonment of the dis- 
tinctive customs of Judaism on the part of Jewish Christians was not 
required. Paul was willing to leave that question to the future 
guidance of God. 

It is somewhat surprising that the Book of The Acts mentions the 
great collection for the Jerusalem church only incidentally, in the 
report of a speech of Paul. Acts 24 : 17. The interest of Luke in 
this part of the narrative is absorbed in the relations between Paul 
and the non-Christian Jews and the Roman authorities. The 
internal affairs of the Church are left for the most part out of 
account. The Acts and the Pauline Epistles, here as so often, must 
be allowed to supplement each other. Luke gives a vivid picture 
of the external events, and a clear view of the relations of Chris- 
tianity to the outside world ; while Paul affords us a deeper insight, 
in some respects at least, into the inward development of the 
Church's life. 

5. PAUL BEFORE AGRIPPA 

The famous reply of Agrippa to Paul, Acts 26 : 28, is exceedingly 
difficult to translate and to interpret. The translation in the 
Revised Version is by no means certainly correct. The words may 
mean, "A little more of this persuasion will make me a Christian!" 
or else, "You seem to think that the little persuasion you have used 
is sufficient to make me a Christian." In any case, the sentence 
displays a certain perplexity on the part of the king. He certainly 
does not mean that he is on the point of accepting Christianity — 
his words have a half-ironical tone — but on the other hand his in- 
terest is aroused. The same thing is probably to be said for Festus. 
He said, "Paul, thou art mad; thy much learning is turning thee 
mad," but he said it with a loud voice as though he were agitated. 
There was something uncanny about this prisoner! 



PAUL'S JOURNEY TO ROME 123 

6. THE ACCESSION OF FESTUS 

The dates of many events in the apostolic age have usually been 
fixed by counting from the accession of Festus. Unfortunately, 
however, that event itself cannot be dated with certainty. Some 
put it as late as A. D. 61, others as early as A. D. 55. If the date 
A. D. 60 be provisionally adopted, then Paul's arrest in Jerusalem 
occurred in A. D. 58, and his arrival in Rome in A. D. 61. The 
conclusion of the narrative in The Acts would then fall in the year 
A. D. 63. It will be remembered that the proconsulship of Gallio now 
affords an additional starting point for a chronology of the apostolic 

7. LATER HISTORY OF THE JERUSALEM CHURCH 

After the meeting between Paul and James, which is narrated in 
Acts 21 : 17-26, the Jerusalem church, at least so far as any direct 
narrative is concerned, disappears from the pages of the New 
Testament. It will be observed that in the account of Paul's last 
visit, only James, the brother of the Lord, and "the elders" are men- 
tioned as representatives of the church. Possibly some of the 
twelve apostles may be included under the term "elders," but it is 
also perfectly possible that the apostles were all out of the city. 

James, the brother of the Lord, continued to be the head of the 
Jerusalem church until he was martyred — in A. D. 62, or, as others 
suppose, in A. D. 66. Before the war which culminated in the cap- 
ture of Jerusalem in A. D. 70, the Christians of the city fled to Pella 
beyond the Jordan. From that time on, though the Christians 
returned after the war, Jewish Christianity was quite uninfluential. 
The supremacy of the Jerusalem church was gone. But that church 
had already rendered a priceless service. It had laid the foundations 
of Christendom. It had sent forth the first missionaries. And it 
had preserved the record of Jesus' life. The Synoptic Gospels, in 
substance at least, are a product of the Jerusalem church. 



In The Library — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," 
pp. 160-166, 231-239. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": articles on the 
many persons and places mentioned in the narrative, especially "Felix," 
"Festus," and "Herod" (4). Ramsay, "St. Paul the Traveller and the 
Roman Citizen," pp. 283-362; "Pictures of the Apostolic Church," pp. 
270-285, 310-364. Lewin, "The Life and Epistles of St. Paul," vol. ii, 
chs. ii, iii, iv, v, and vi. Conybeare and Howson, "The Life and 
Epistles of St. Paul," chs. xx, xxi, xxii, xxiii, xxiv and xxv. Stalker, 
"The Life of St. Paul," pp. 121-133. Lumby, pp. 266-380. Cook, pp. 
485-534. Plumptre, pp. 136-184. Rackham, pp. 370-5*3- 



LESSON XXIII 

THE SUPREMACY OF CHRIST 



1. THE EPISTLES OF THE THIRD GROUP 

With the lesson for to-day, we are introduced to the third group 
among the epistles of Paul. The epistles of the second group, which 
were written during the third missionary journey, are concerned 
with the problem of sin and salvation; the epistles of the third group 
are interesting especially for their teaching about the person of 
Christ and about the Church. A period of about three or four years 
separates the last epistle of the second group from the first epistle of 
the third. Most of this interval had been spent by Paul in captivity. 
Undoubtedly, during this period of enforced leisure, there had been 
development in Paul's thinking, but it is very difficult to determine 
exactly wherein that development consisted. The differences of the 
third group of epistles from the second are due to the difference in 
the readers at least as much as to a difference in Paul himself. It is 
hard to say just how much of Colossians and Ephesians Paul would 
have been incapable of writing during the third missionary journey. 

At any rate, the epistles of the captivity differ from those of the 
former group in being for the most part quieter in tone. During the 
third journey Paul had had to continue the great battles of his 
career against various forms of Judaizing error. Christianity at one 
time seemed to be in danger of being reduced to a mere form of 
Judaism; the free grace of God was being deserted for a law religion; 
faith was being deserted for works. In Galatia, the question of 
principle had been uppermost; in Corinth, the personal attack upon 
Paul. Everywhere, moreover, the gospel of salvation by faith was 
exposed to misconception. Pagan license was threatening to creep 
into the Church. Unless it could be kept out, the legalists would 
have some apparent show of reason on their side. Taking it all in 
all, it had been a hard battle. But it had been gloriously fought, and 
it had been won. Now Paul was able to turn his attention to new 
fields of labor and to new problems. 

2. THE CHRISTOLOGY OF COLOSSIANS 

The Epistle to the Colossians is peculiarly "Christological." 
More fully and more expressly than in any other of his letters Paul 

124 



THE SUPREMACY OF CHRIST 125 

here develops his view about the person of Christ. Even here, how- 
ever, this teaching is incidental; it was simply Paul's way of refuting 
certain errors that had crept into the Colossian church. Except 
for those errors Paul would perhaps never have written at length, as 
he does in Col. 1 : 14-23, about the relation of Christ to God and to 
the world. Yet in that case his own views would have been the 
same, and they would have been just as fundamental to his whole 
religious life. In the epistles, which are written to Christians, Paul 
takes many things for granted. Some of the things which are most 
fundamental appear only incidentally. Just because they were 
fundamental, just because they were accepted by everyone, they 
did not need to be discussed at length. 

So it is especially with the person of Christ. From the first 
epistle to the last, Paul presupposes essentially the same view of 
that great subject. Practically everything that he says in Colossians 
could have been inferred from scattered hints in the earlier epistles. 
From the beginning Paul regarded Jesus Christ as a man, who had a 
real human life and died a real death on the cross. From the be- 
ginning, on the other hand, he separated Christ sharply from men 
and placed him clearly on the side of God. From the beginning, in 
other words, he attributed to him a double nature — Jesus Christ 
was always in Paul's thinking both God and man. Finally, the 
preexistence of Christ, which is so strongly emphasized in Colossians, 
is clearly implied in such passages as Gal. 4:4; and his activity in 
creation appears, according to the best-attested text, in I Cor. 8 : 6. 

Nevertheless, the more systematic exposition in Colossians is of 
the utmost value. It serves to summarize and explain the scattered 
implications of the earlier epistles. Christ according to Paul is, in 
the first place, "the image of the invisible God." Col. 1 : 15. He 
is the supreme Revealer of God, a Revealer, however, not merely by 
words but by his own nature. If you want to know what God is, 
look upon Christ! In the second place, he is "the firstborn of all 
creation." Of itself that phrase might be misconstrued. It might 
be thought to mean that Christ was the first being that God created. 
Any such interpretation, however, is clearly excluded by the three 
following verses. There Paul has himself provided an explanation 
of his puzzling phrase. "The firstborn of all creation" means that 
Christ, himself uncreated, existed before all created things; he was 
prior to all things, and, as befits an only son, he possesses all things. 
Indeed he himself was active in the creation of all things, not only 
the world, and men, but also those angelic powers — "thrones or 



126 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

dominions or principalities or powers" — upon whom the errorists in 
Colossae were inclined to lay too much emphasis. He was the in- 
strument of God the Father in creation. And he was also the end 
of creation. The world exists not for its own sake, but for the sake 
of Christ. Especially is he the Head of the Church. His headship 
is declared by his being the first to rise from the dead into that 
glorious life into which he will finally bring all his disciples. In a 
word, the entire "fulness" of the divine nature dwells in Christ. 
That word "fulness" was much misused in the "Gnostic" specula- 
tions of the second century. It is barely possible that the word had 
already been employed in the incipient Gnosticism of the Colossian 
errorists. If so, Paul by his repeated use of the word in Colossians 
and Ephesians, is bringing his readers back to a healthier and simpler 
and grander conception. 

3. THE PERSON OF CHRIST AND THE WORK OF CHRIST 

In Col. 1 : 20-23, Paul bases upon the preceding exposition of the 
nature of Christ a noble description of Christ's work. The work 
which has been intrusted to Christ is nothing less than that of 
reconciling the creation unto God. Through sin, an enmity had 
been set up between God and the work of his hands. That enmity 
applies primarily of course to the sinful persons themselves. They 
are under God's wrath and curse. Sin is not a trifle. It cannot 
simply be treated as though it had never been. If God be righteous, 
then there is such a thing as a moral order. The wrath of God rests 
upon the sinner. But by the sacrifice of Christ, that enmity has 
been wiped out. Christ has paid the awful penalty of sin. Christ 
has brought the sinner again near to God. The enmity and the 
following reconciliation concern primarily the men who have sinned. 
But they also apply to the whole world. The ground has been 
cursed for man's sake. The end of the reconciliation will be a new 
heaven and a new earth. The groaning and travailing of the crea- 
tion will one day have an end. Compare Rom. 8 : 18-25. 

This brief description of the work of Christ in Col. 1 : 20-22; 
2 : 10-15, can be richly paralleled in the earlier epistles. What now 
needs to be emphasized is that the Pauline view of Christ's work 
depends absolutely upon the Pauline view of Christ's person. 
All through the epistles of Paul the life and death and resurrection 
are represented as events of a cosmic significance. But they can 
have such significance only if Christ is the kind of being that is 
described in the Epistle to the Colossians. The glorious account of 



THE SUPREMACY OF CHRIST 127 

salvation, which runs all through the epistles and forms the especial 
subject of the second group, is unintelligible if Christ were merely an 
inspired prophet or merely the greatest of created things. It be- 
comes intelligible only if Christ is "the image of the invisible God, 
the firstborn of all creation." The mysterious Christology of 
Colossians lies at the very heart of Christian faith. 

4. THE EPISTLE TO PHILEMON 

The Epistle to the Colossians, though addressed to a church that 
Paul had never visited, is full of warm-hearted affection. Paul could 
hardly have been cold and formal if he had tried. He was a man of 
great breadth of sympathy. Hence he was able to enter with the 
deepest interest into the problems of the Colossian Christians — to 
rejoice at their faith and love, to lament their faults, and to labor 
with whole-souled devotion for their spiritual profit. 

The simple, unconstrained affection of Paul's nature, however, had 
freer scope in the delightful little letter to Philemon. Philemon 
apparently was a convert of Paul himself. Philem. 19. He was not 
a man with whom Paul had to be on his guard. Paul is perfectly 
confident that Philemon will fully understand the motives of his 
action and of his letter. 

The letter is addressed to Philemon primarily, but also to Apphia 
and to Archippus and to the church in Philemon's house. We are 
here introduced into a Christian household of the apostolic age. 
Apphia was probably Philemon's wife and Archippus perhaps his 
son. Evidently Archippus held some sort of office in the Colossian 
church. "Say to Archippus," says Paul in a strangely emphatic way, 
at the very end of the Epistle to the Colossians, "Take heed to the 
ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it." 
We should like to know what the ministry was which Archippus had 
received. At any rate, we hope that he fulfilled it. It was a solemn 
warning which he received — a warning which might well have made 
him tremble. We also may well take the warning to heart. Our 
task of imparting Bible truth is no light responsibility. To us also 
the warning comes, "Take heed to the ministry which thou hast 
received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it." 

The letter is addressed not only to Philemon and his family, but 
also to the "church" which met in his house. This "church" was a 
part of the Colossian congregation. In the early days, when it was 
difficult to secure meeting places, well-to-do Christians frequently 
offered the hospitality of their own homes. A certain Nympha or 



128 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

Nymphas — the name varies in the manuscripts — performed this 
service in Laodicea, Col. 4 : 15, Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth, 
I Cor. 16 : 19, and also Gaius in the same city. Rom. 16 : 23. 

The Epistle to Philemon exhibits that perfection of courtesy and 
delicacy of feeling which has been observed again and again in Paul. 
A man of coarser feeling might have kept Onesimus with him until 
receiving the response of Philemon. In that case no doubt Philemon 
would have replied not only that Onesimus was forgiven, but that 
Paul might retain the benefit of his services. But Paul saw clearly 
that that would have made Philemon's goodness seem to be of 
necessity and not of free will. Philem. 14. There was only one 
really fine, honorable, high-toned way of dealing with the situation, 
and that was the way which Paul adopted. 

The letter is informal and affectionate. There is even apparently 
a little delicate play on the name Onesimus, which means "helpful." 
Once Onesimus belied his name, but now he has become helpful 
again. Philem. 11. In v. 20, also, where Paul says, "Let me have 
joy of thee," he uses a word which comes from the same root as that 
which appears in the name of the slave. Nevertheless, despite all 
informality, Paul has succeeded, here as always, in lifting the matter 
to a lofty plane. Paul was a man who ennobled everything that he 
touched. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," pp. 
241-246. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible," articles on "Colossi," 
"Hierapolis" and "Laodicea": Purves, articles on "Colossians, Epistle 
to the" and "Philemon" (supplemented). Hastings, "Dictionary of 
the Bible": Ramsay, articles on "Colossae," "Hierapolis," and 
"Laodicea"; Murray, article on "Colossians, Epistle to the"; Bernard, 
articles on "Philemon," and "Philemon, Epistle to." M'Clymont, 
"The New Testament and Its Writers, pp. 91-98. Ellicott, "A New 
Testament Commentary for English Readers," vol. iii: Barry, "The 
Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians, Philippians, and Colos- 
sians," pp. 1-8, 96-124; "The Epistle of Paul to Philemon," pp. 265-274. 
"The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges": Moule, "The Epistles 
to the Colossians and to Philemon." Zahn, "Introduction to the New 
Testament," vol. i, pp. 439-479. Lightfoot, "Saint Paul's Epistles to 
the Colossians and to Philemon." The two last-named works are in- 
tended primarily for those who have some knowledge of Greek, but can 
also be used by others. 



LESSON XXIV 
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST 



The special effort in the lessons of the second quarter has been to 
produce some lively impression of the wonderful variety among the 
letters of Paul. That variety is due largely to the variety in the 
occasions of the letters. Just because Paul entered with such 
sympathy into the varying circumstances of his many churches, 
the letters of Paul reflect the wonderful manifoldness of life. 

Nevertheless, it is also an advantage that at least one letter is 
largely independent of any special circumstances whatever. This 
is the case with the epistle which is to be studied to-day. The 
Epistle to the Ephesians is addressed to a definite group of churches, 
but that group is addressed not with regard to its own special 
problems, but simply as representative of Gentile Christianity in 
general. For once Paul allows his thoughts to flow unchecked by the 
particular needs of his readers. 

1. STYLE OF EPHESIANS 

The purpose of Ephesians, therefore, is quite different from the 
purpose of any other of the Pauline Epistles. To the difference in 
purpose corresponds a difference in style. The style of Ephesians 
is characterized especially by long sentences, heaped full of an almost 
bewildering wealth of thought. This characteristic had appeared to 
some extent even in the earliest epistles — compare II Thess. 1 : 
3-10 — but in Ephesians it becomes more pronounced. Ephesians 
1 : 3-14, for example, is only one sentence, but it is a world in itself. 
Apparently in this epistle Paul has allowed his mind and heart to 
roam unchecked over the whole realm of the divine economy. This 
freedom might conceivably be thought to involve a sacrifice of 
logical symmetry and of euphonic grace, but at any rate it possesses 
a certain beauty and value of its own. Ephesians may lack the 
splendid rhythm of the first chapter of First Corinthians or the 
eighth chapter of Romans, but on the other hand these tremendous 
periods, with their heaping-up of majestic phrases, serve admirably 
to express the bewilderment of the soul in the presence of divine 
wonders. Human language is inadequate to do full justice to the 
grace of God. In Ephesians, we see an inspired apostle striving to 

Sea. T. III. 2. I2 g 



130 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

give utterance in human language to things which in their full 
reality are unspeakable. 

2. COLOSSIANS AND EPHESIANS 

The Epistle to the Ephesians is strikingly similiar to the Epistle 
to the Colossians, not only in thought, but also in many details of 
language. Another case of striking similarity between two epistles 
of Paul was encountered in First and Second Thessalonians. There 
the two similiar letters were written both to the same church, though 
at no very great interval of time. The similiarity was due to the 
desire which Paul felt of reiterating, with some additions and ex- 
planations, the teaching of his former letter. In the case of 
Ephesians and Colossians the similarity is even more easily explained. 
These two epistles were written to different churches at the same 
time. What more natural than that the same thoughts and to 
some extent the same words should appear in both? Only, the 
teaching which in Colossians is directed against a definite form of 
error is in Ephesians reproduced in freer, more general form. The 
relation between the two epistles is somewhat like that which exists 
between Galatians and Romans. In Galatians, the doctrine of 
salvation by faith appears in conflict with the opposing error; in 
Romans, the same doctrine finds expression, but this time in quieter, 
more systematic development, after the conflict is over. The 
similarity between Galatians and Romans is, however, not so close 
as that between Colossians and Ephesians — partly because the con- 
trast of spirit is not so striking in the latter case, Colossians being 
far less bitterly polemic than Galatians; and more particularly be- 
cause a considerable interval separates Romans from Galatians, 
whereas Colossians and Ephesians were dispatched by the same 
messenger. 

3. THE ADDRESS OF EPHESIANS. EPH. 1: 1, 2 

In the Student's Text Book, it has been shown that the words 
"at Ephesus" in the first verse may perhaps be no part of what Paul 
wrote, but a later addition. It cannot be claimed, however, that 
the problem of the address has been completely solved. Without 
the words "at Ephesus," the address becomes very difficult. "To 
the saints that are and the faithful in Christ Jesus" hardly seems to 
make sense. The Greek words might be construed perfectly well 
to mean, "To the saints who are also faithful in Christ Jesus," but 
that is a rather unusual expression. The suggestion has been made 
that in the first copies of the epistle a blank space was left after "the 



THE CHURCH OF CHRIST 131 

saints that are," to be filled in with the names of the particular 
churches of the group which is addressed. Every church among the 
group would thus receive a copy with its own name inserted. The 
hypothesis is not altogether satisfactory. Probably we shall simply 
have to admit that there is an unsolved problem here. 

4. THANKSGIVING FOR THE PLAN OF SALVATION. EPH. 

1 : 3-14 

Before the customary thanksgiving for the Christian state of the 
readers, Paul inserts here, in accordance with the nature of this 
epistle, a general thanksgiving for the whole Church, which is applied 
especially to the readers only at the very end. The passage contains 
a wonderful summary of the whole of salvation, but it begins with 
the plan of God and it closes with the glory of God. God is the be- 
ginning and end of all things. His mysterious decree is the cause 
of our being chosen for salvation, and his own glory is the ultimate 
object in view. Men are often rebellious against such a God -centered 
view of things. Predestination is an unpopular doctrine. But it 
was at any rate the doctrine of Paul, and it lay at the roots of his 
experience. It is sometimes hard for us to write God so large in 
our thoughts. Because we think of him merely as a somewhat 
greater man, we are inclined to reject the doctrine which attributes 
all things to the workings of his will and to the furtherance of his 
glory. If, however, we could think of him, not only as a person, 
but also as an infinite, eternal and holy person, then we should 
murmur no longer, but should, with Paul, burst forth in praise of the 
inscrutable wonder of his grace. The glory of a merciful God has 
involved for its full unfolding the salvation of guilty sinners. God's 
glory finds its full expression only when he is revealed as the God 
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

5. THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER FOR THE READERS. EPH. 

1 : 15 to 2 : 10 

Beginning with thanksgiving for the present faith and love of the 
readers, Paul passes at once to a prayer that they may be given 
understanding to appreciate the wonderful salvation which has been 
celebrated in the preceding section, especially the mighty Saviour 
who has been bestowed upon the Church. Then the greatness of the 
present salvation, not only of Gentiles, but also of Jews, is celebrated 
by a contrast with the previous condition of sin and misery. The 
blessed change has been due, not to anything in man, but simply and 
solely to the grace of God, received by faith. 



132 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

6. RECEPTION OF THE GENTILES. EPH. 2 : 11-22 

Here the contrast between past and present is applied especially 
to the Gentiles. Formerly they were excluded from the people 
of God. But now by the death of Christ the "middle wall of 
partition" has been broken down. Gentiles and Jews have now a 
common access to the Father. 

7. THE MINISTRY OF PAUL. EPH., ch. 3 

This reception of the Gentiles is the work that has been intrusted 
especially to Paul. It is a glorious ministry, far too great for human 
strength. It can be fulfilled only through the grace of God. The 
full mystery of God's grace, concealed for many generations, has 
at last been revealed. The first half of the epistle is fittingly closed 
by a doxology. 

8. LIFE IN THE CHURCH. EPH., chs. 4 to 6 

This section may be called the practical part of the epistle. It 
exhibits the results in holy living which proceed from the glorious 
gospel which has just been proclaimed. Even in the "practical" 
part, however, the great doctrines of God's grace are so constantly 
finding renewed expression that it is difficult to separate one part 
from the other. Paul never separated moral precepts from the 
great truths which give them force. Let the readers live like citizens 
of the commonwealth of God, and members of the body of Christ! 

Naturally, in this part of the epistle the unity of the Church — 
which is perhaps the central theme of the whole — is especially em- 
phasized. The first half of the fourth chapter, for example, is a 
magnificent hymn to Christian unity. Even in the midst of the 
directions for the various relationships of life the great theme of 
Christ and the Church, under the figure of husband and wife, is 
brought again into view. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," pp. 
246-249. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": Purves and Davis, article 
on "Ephesians, Epistle to the." Hastings, "Dictionary of the Bible": 
Lock, article on "Ephesians, Epistle to." M'Clymont, "The New 
Testament and Its Writers," pp. 99-103. Ellicott, "A New Testament 
Commentary for English Readers," vol. iii: Barry, "The Epistles of 
Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians," pp. 
9-60. "The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges": Moule, "The 
Epistle to the Ephesians." Zahn, "Introduction to the New Testa- 
ment, vol. i, pp. 479-522. Robinson, "St. Paul's Epistle to the 
Ephesians." The two last-named works are intended primarily for those 
who have some knowledge of Greek, but can also be used by others. 



LESSON XXV 
CHRIST AND HIS FOLLOWERS 



The Epistle to the Philippians is the only one of the letters of 
Paul which is addressed to an approved church with whom he stood 
on terms of untroubled intimacy and affection. In Galatians and 
both the Corinthian epistles, serious errors in the churches addressed, 
as well as unscrupulous personal criticism, lend a tone of bitterness to 
the apostle's words; Romans, Colossians and perhaps "Ephesians" 
are addressed to churches which he had never seen. In some ways 
the little letter to Philemon is very similar to Philippians. Both 
Philippians and Philemon display the same perfect confidence in 
the readers, the same perfection of courtesy, the same tone of un- 
troubled cordiality. But Philemon is addressed primarily to an 
individual, and Philippians to a church; Philemon confines itself 
almost exclusively to one little personal matter, while Philippians 
discusses a variety of topics. Among the letters addressed to 
churches, perhaps the First Epistle to the Thessalonians is more 
similiar to Philippians, at least in tone, than is any of the others. 
Like Philippians it is animated by a deep satisfaction with the 
readers, and a certain pleasing simplicity of manner. But here 
again of course there are wide differences. First Thessalonians is 
addressed to an infant church, which has just passed through its 
first trial, and needs the most elementary instruction; in Philippians 
Paul is writing to old friends, to a church which for ten years has 
endured bravely the hardships incident to the Christian profession, 
and has shared in fullest sympathy the joys and sorrows of the 
apostle's life. 

During the ten years, moreover, which have elapsed between 
First Thessalonians and Philippians, there has been a change in 
the apostle himself, as well as in his readers. Those years of conflict 
and labor and meditation and suffering have borne fruit in the 
apostle's own thinking. His gospel was the same from the beginning, 
but the expression of it has become richer and maturer and nobler 
with the advancing years. Philippians is a wonderful letter. 
Simplicity and profundity are here combined. This simple letter 
of thanks, with its delicate courtesy and tactful admonition, has 

133 



134 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

engaged the profoundest study of the theologians, and touched the 
grandest chords of the Christian heart. 

1. THE ADDRESS. Phil. 1 : 1, 2 

The address of Philippians is remarkable because of the mention 
of bishops and deacons, which occurs in this way in no other of the 
Pauline Epistles. Possibly, as has been suggested, these officers are 
here mentioned because they had had a special part in sending the 
gifts of the church. It is important to observe that there was a 
plurality of bishops in the Philippian church. At a later time, 
when the "bishops" were exalted above the other presbyters, there 
was only one bishop in every church. In The Acts and in the 
Pauline Epistles, "bishop" and "presbyter" appear plainly as 
nothing more than two names for exactly the same office. 

It should be noticed that the title "apostle," which appears at 
the beginning of all the other Pauline Epistles addressed to churches, 
except First and Second Thessalonians, the two earliest, is lacking 
in the address of Philippians. Perhaps in writing to such a devoted 
church Paul considered it unnecessary to mention his apostleship 
as he had regularly done in his epistles since the denial of it in 
Galatia. On account of the peculiar nature of the Philippian church, 
the Epistle to the Philippians partakes somewhat of the informality 
and intimacy of such a letter as that to Philemon, where the title 
is also lacking in the address. 

Very naturally Timothy is associated with Paul in the address of 
the epistle, for he had been one of Paul's companions in founding 
the Philippian church. At what time Timothy had come to Rome 
we do not know. His name appears also in the address of Colossians 
and of Philemon. Luke, although he had journeyed with Paul to 
Rome, and was in Rome at the time when Colossians and Philemon 
were written, Col. 4 : 14; Philem. 24, was apparently absent at the 
time of Philippians; for since he, like Timothy, had assisted in 
founding the Philippian church, and perhaps had even remained in 
Philippi for years after the departure of the others, he would probably 
have been associated in the address, or at least would have sent 
greetings, if he had been at hand. 

2. THE THANKSGIVING. Phil. 1 : 3-11 

As might have been expected, the thanksgiving for the Christian 
state of the readers is in this epistle of unusual cordiality. In the 
mention of their "fellowship in furtherance of the gospel from the 



CHRIST AND HIS FOLLOWERS 135 

first day until now," there is perhaps a delicate allusion to the 
material assistance which they had sent him from time to time and 
especially a little while before the writing of the letter; but such 
material assistance was for Paul of course not the only, or even the 
principal, manifestation of their fellowship. Here as often, the 
thanksgiving runs over into a prayer — and this time it is a prayer 
of singular beauty and depth. 

3. PROGRESS OF AFFAIRS IN ROME. Phil. 1 : 12-30 

In this section, Paul hastens to relieve the minds of his readers 
about the course of events in Rome. Even his bonds, and the 
jealousy of certain preachers, have resulted only in the furtherance 
of the gospel. With regard to the outcome of his trial, there is 
every reason to be hopeful. For his part he would prefer to depart 
and to be with Christ, but there is still work for him to do. And 
whether he is present or absent, let the Philippians give him joy by 
living in a manner worthy of the gospel, and by being steadfast in 
the persecutions which are bound to come to them as well as to 
him. It is a high privilege not only to believe in Christ, but also to 
suffer for him. 

4. EXHORTATION TO UNITY. Phil. 2 : 1-18 

With the utmost earnestness, Paul here appeals to his readers to 
keep their Christian life free from selfishness and quarreling. The 
stupendous "Christological" passage of the epistle, vs. 5-11, which 
has given rise to endless discussion, is introduced merely in an 
incidental way, in order to strengthen the apostle's exhortation. 
So it is frequently in the letters of Paul. The apostle was always able 
to make the profoundest verities of the faith immediately effective 
in conduct. Theology in Paul was never divorced from practice. 
The converse of the proposition, however, is also true. If Paul's 
theology did not exist apart from practice, neither did his practice 
exist apart from theology. It is the latter proposition which needs 
to be emphasized to-day. Modern liberalism has sometimes en- 
deavored to reproduce Paul's religion apart from his theology; but 
the effort has resulted in failure. 

The example of Christ which Paul holds up before his readers is 
briefly as follows: Originally Christ not only existed in the form of 
God — that is, was in full possession of the divine attributes — but 
also lived in glory, in a way befitting deity. Instead, however, of 
keeping hold of this heavenly glory, he humbled himself by 



136 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

becoming man. He laid aside, not indeed his divine attributes, 
but the enjoyment of his divine glory. He who was Lord of all 
took the form of a servant like other men. And even more. His 
obedience extended even to death, and to the shameful death of 
the cross. But after humiliation came exaltation. God gave to 
him a name that is above every name. At the name of Jesus 
every knee shall bow, in earth and in heaven, to the glory of God 
the Father. 

5. THE MISSION OF TIMOTHY AND OF EPAPHRODITUS. 
Phil. 2 : 19-30 

The personal appeal with which the preceding section closed leads 
Paul to speak of the plans which he has for the comfort and help of 
the readers. Timothy will be sent as soon as the issue of Paul's trial 
is definitely in view; Epaphroditus will return to Philippi at once. 

6. WARNING AGAINST OPPONENTS. Phil., ch. 3 

The men who are rebuked in very vigorous language in the former 
part of this section evidently placed an excessive emphasis upon 
circumcision and connection with the people of Israel. Perhaps 
also they were advocates of a law righteousness. V. 9. The most 
obvious suggestion is that they were Judaizers like those in Galatia, 
or at least like the opponents of Paul in Corinth. Paul's account 
in vs. 4-6 of the Jewish advantages, fully equal to those of his 
opponents, which he counts as nothing in view of the superior ad- 
vantages of faith in Christ, is strikingly similar to II Cor. 11 : 21, 
22. If, however, Paul is here referring to Judaizers, it looks as 
though they were at least as cautious as the opponents in Corinth 
about presenting the claims of the law. At any rate, the danger 
of a legalistic propaganda either in Philippi or in Rome does not 
seem to be very seriously in view. Apparently the acute stage of 
the Judaistic controversy is over. It is possible that Paul is referring 
to Jews rather than Jewish Christians. We must remember that 
Judaism in the first century was still an active missionary religion. 
A Jewish propaganda, with stress upon circumcision and law right- 
eousness, might conceivably become, even in Philippi, where the 
Jews seem not to have been numerous, a serious danger, if not to 
the stability, at least to the rapid extension, of the Christian Church. 

Finally, it is uncertain whether "the enemies of the cross of 
Christ," Phil. 3 : 18, are the same as those who are combated in the 
former part of the section. 



CHRIST AND HIS FOLLOWERS 137 

Fortunately these various uncertainties do not affect the lofty 
teaching of this part of the epistle. Whoever the opponents were, 
what Paul says in opposition to them is the thing of real value. In 
the wonderfully terse, complete, vigorous description of the Christian 
salvation and of the Christian life which Paul gives in ch. 3 : 7-14, 
20, 21, the long years of the Judaistic controversy have borne 
glorious fruit. The final, eternal truth of God, in classic statement, 
has at last emerged triumphant from the conflict. 

. 7. EXHORTATION, ACKNOWLEDGMENT, GREETINGS AND 
BENEDICTION. Phil., ch. 4 

The principal contents of this section have been discussed in the 
Student's Text Book. First Paul applies the general exhortation 
to unity, Phil. 2 : 1-11, to the case of Euodia and Syntyche, and 
adds certain other brief exhortations. The "true yokefellow" of 
ch. 4:3 probably refers to Epaphroditus, the bearer of the epistle. 
Then, in a characteristically delicate and worthy manner, he 
acknowledges the gift of the Philippians. Next, in just a word, he 
transmits, along with his own, the greetings of his immediate 
companions, and of the Roman church in general, especially of those 
members who were connected, as slaves or officials, with the im- 
mediate service of the emperor. Finally, with a brief benediction, 
the epistle closes. 



In The Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," pp. 
249-251. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": Purves (edited) article on 
"Philippians." Hastings, "Dictionary of the Bible": Gibb, article on 
"Philippians, Epistle to the." M'Clymont, "The New Testament 
and Its Writers," pp. 83-90. Ellicott, "A New Testament Commentary 
for English Readers", vol. iii : Barry, "The Epistles of Paul the Apostle 
to the Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians," pp. 61-90. "The 
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges": Moule, "The Epistle to the 
Philippians." ^ahn, "Introduction to the New Testament," vol. i, 
pp. 522-564. Lightfoot, "Saint Paul's Epistle to the Philippians." 
The two last-named works are intended primarily for those who have 
some knowledge of Greek, but can also be used by others. 



LESSON XXVI 
TRAINING NEW LEADERS 



The emphasis which the Pastoral Epistles lay upon sound in- 
struction and upon orderly government is sometimes looked upon 
with distaste. Orthodoxy and organization are thought to be de- 
structive of religious fervor. In the New Testament, however, the 
two aspects of the Church's life appear side by side. In the New 
Testament, enthusiasm and sanity are united. And the New 
Testament is right. Religion is a concern of every individual soul — 
the final decision must be made by every man in the immediate 
presence of his God — but normally no man can do without associa- 
tion with his fellows. The Church is a great permanent community. 
It is not merely an aggregation, but an institution. To break away 
from its restraints may be attractive, it may produce a certain 
temporary impression of zeal and new life; but in the long run the 
old way is usually best. 

The Pastoral Epistles, however, are sometimes thought to indi- 
cate an unfortunate change in Paul himself as well as in the Church. 
Some students would prefer to know only the Paul of Galatians and 
Corinthians and Romans. This judgment is one-sided. The 
Pastorals do not contradict, but supplement, the earlier letters. 
The earlier period, no doubt, is the more inspiring; there is nothing 
in the Pastoral Epistles like the first few chapters of First Corin- 
thians, or the fifth chapter of Second Corinthians, or the eighth chap- 
ter of Romans. These passages are overpowering in the intensity 
of their eloquence; the later letters are soberer, graver, more 
matter-of-fact. These latter qualities, however, are much needed 
in the Church. The Church needs enthusiasm; but she also needs 
gravity and sanity. Her function is not merely evangelistic; it 
is also conservative and educational. In both functions Paul was a 
leader. The quiet gravity of the Pastoral Epistles supplements the 
glories of Galatians and Romans. Only when these last epistles are 
added to the others can the many-sided greatness of Paul be fully- 
appreciated. Exaggerations, moreover, should be avoided. The 
soberness of the Pastorals is not commonplace. Back of the details 
of organization, back of the concern for sound instruction, there can 

138 



TRAINING NEW LEADERS I39 

be detected throughout the glow of the Pauline gospel. The Pas- 
toral Epistles, like the other letters of Paul, are a perennial fountain 
of Christian life. 

The Second Epistle to Timothy was clearly the last of the extant 
epistles of Paul ; but the order of First Timothy and Titus cannot be 
certainly determined. The difficulty of reconstructing the history 
implied by the Pastoral Epistles reveals anew the supreme value 
of The Acts. After the conclusion of the Lucan narrative the 
historian is almost helpless. From about A. D. 63 on into the second 
century, the history of the Church is shrouded in profound darkness, 
with gleams of light only here and there. 

1. THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY 

At the time when First Timothy was written, Paul had recently 
made a journey to Macedonia. I Tim. 1 : 3. Perhaps he had gone 
thither from Ephesus, though the words do not make that perfectly 
clear. At any rate, he had directed Timothy to remain in Ephesus, 
where he hoped to join him before long. In case of delay, however, 
he writes the epistle. Chs. 3 : 14, 15; 4 : 13. 

On a previous occasion, perhaps by word of mouth when he had 
been in Ephesus, he had warned Timothy to put a stop to certain 
false teaching in the Church, and the warning is now reiterated in 
the epistle. The exact nature of this teaching is somewhat difficult 
to determine. Apparently it had been concerned with the Jewish 
law. Ch. 1:7-11. Compare Titus 1:10,14. Like the false 
teaching at Colossse, it seems not to have been directly subversive 
of the truth of the gospel. At least, however, it diverted attention 
from the great things of the faith to useless questionings. I Tim. 
6 : 4. The myths and endless genealogies, ch. 1 : 4, compare 4 : 7, 
were perhaps elaborations of the Old Testament history. Whether 
the ascetic tendency which is combated in ch. 4 : 3, 8, is connected 
with this same teaching, is not certain, but is on the whole perhaps 
probable. 

The first reference to the false teaching, ch. 1 : 3-10, leads Paul to 
speak of the norm by which it could be combated. Vs. 11-20. That 
norm was the gospel with which he had been intrusted. The 
bestowal of the gospel had changed him from a blasphemer and 
persecutor into an apostle. The gospel had been bestowed purely 
by the free grace of Christ, and its content was the salvation which 
Christ offers. A doxology to God, v. 17, is natural whenever that 
gospel is mentioned. That gospel will overcome all error, and if 



140 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

attended to diligently will prevent disasters like that which has 
befallen Hymen?eus and Alexander. 

In the second chapter, Paul insists upon gravity and order in the 
public worship of the Church. In the prayers which are to be 
offered, the civil authority is not to be forgotten, even though it be 
non-Christian. The sympathies of the Christian must be broad. 
God desires all men to come to a knowledge of the truth. 

The highest regular officers of the Church are in the third chapter 
called "bishops." It is abundantly evident, however — especially 
from Titus 1 : 5, 7 — that "bishop" is only another name for "presby- 
ter" or "elder." At a later time the term "bishop" was applied to 
an officer who had the supreme oversight over a church and to 
whom the elders were subject. These conditions did not prevail 
at the time of the Pastoral Epistles. At first sight, indeed, it 
might seem as though Timothy and Titus themselves were "bishops" 
in the later sense of the word. But this also is false. Timothy and 
Titus do not appear at all as officers of individual congregations. 
They had oversight over a plurality of churches, and evidently 
their authority was special and temporary. They did not fill an 
office which was intended to become permanent in the Church, but 
were simply special representatives of the apostle. As the apostles 
had no successors, so no man after the apostolic age had a right to 
assume the functions of Timothy and Titus. 

The fourth chapter calls attention to the revelation of the Holy 
Spirit, probably through the lips of Christian prophets, that in the 
future there would appear apostates from the faith. The errorists 
who are combated in vs. 7-10 are apparently to be regarded as fore- 
runners, still within the Church, of the more open apostasy which is 
one day to follow. 

The institution of the "widows," which is discussed in the fifth 
chapter, is to us somewhat obscure. Evidently those who were 
accounted "widows," being helpless, were entitled to support by the 
church. The necessity of sound teaching, with emphasis upon the 
really fundamental things of the faith, is again insisted upon; and 
certain false teachers are accused of practicing or inculcating piety 
as a means of worldly gain. Ch. 6 : 3-10. The last warning of the 
epistle characteristically concerns vain babblings and oppositions 
of a so-called knowledge. Probably these errors are connected in 
some way with those which are combated in the first section of the 
epistle. In the final words, "Grace be with you," the "you" in the 
Greek, according to the best attestation, is plural; and in the cor- 



TRAINING NEW LEADERS I4I 

tesponding passages at the end of Titus and of Second Timothy, it 
is certainly plural. This may furnish an indication — to be added 
to more general considerations — that the Pastoral Epistles were 
intended not merely for those to whom they are formally addressed, 
but also to the churches under their care. 

2. THE EPISTLE TO TITUS 

The address of the Epistle to Titus is noteworthy for the long 
addition to the title of the author, which is to be compared with the 
similar addition in Romans. 

At the time when the epistle was written, Paul had recently been 
with Titus in Crete. Paul had not labored on that island before the 
first Roman imprisonment. His journeys in the east between the 
two imprisonments therefore involved something more than the 
revisitation of former fields. The reason why Titus was left behind 
in Crete was somewhat similar to the reason why Timothy, accord- 
ing to First Timothy, was told to remain in Ephesus. Titus was to 
give attention to organization, and to the maintenance of sound 
instruction. 

Like Timothy, Titus is given the power of establishing presbyters, 
and of establishing them not merely in one church but in various 
churches. The function of the presbyter was that of "bishop" or 
"overseer." Titus 1 : 5-7. In vs. 9-16, the close connection of 
organization with sound doctrine becomes particularly apparent. 
One important function of the presbyters was to counteract the 
errors which were springing up. The account of the errorists in 
Crete is perhaps in some respects clearer than that which is given 
of the related phenomenon in Ephesus. The false teachers were 
animated by a love of gain. V. 11. Some of them were Jews or 
proselytes. V. 10. They had a fondness for Jewish fables. Ap- 
parently, also, they tried to atone for a lack of real inward purity 
by an outward asceticism. Vs. 15, 16. They were concerned with 
vain questionings and genealogies and legal disputes. These last 
are perhaps to be regarded as casuistic discussions like those which 
play such a large part in Jewish tradition. 

The Epistle to Titus is somewhat richer than First Timothy in 
personal details. After Titus has been relieved in Crete by Artemas 
or Tychicus, who may soon be sent, he is to join Paul in Nicopolis. 
Tychicus, it will be remembered, had served as Paul's messenger 
during the first imprisonment. He was the bearer of Colossians 
and Ephesians. The Nicopolis where Paul is intending to pass the 

Sen. t. m. 2. 



142 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

approaching winter, is probably the chief of the many cities of that 
name, the Nicopolis in Epirus. Zenas, a lawyer otherwise unknown, 
and the well-known Apollos, who appears so prominently in The 
Acts and in First Corinthians, are to be furnished in Crete with 
everything that they need for their further journey. 

3. THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY 

The First Epistle to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus are in 
many respects strikingly similar. A certain strong family resem- 
blance extends also to Second Timothy. Evidently all three of the 
Pastoral Epistles belong to the same general period of Paul's life, 
and were intended to subserve similar purposes. Second Timothy, 
however, as compared with the other two, exhibits some marked 
peculiarities. 

The personal element, in particular, is in this letter much more 
prominent. Second Timothy contains a wealth of interesting 
biographical details about Timothy, about Paul, and about a very 
considerable number of other persons. Some of these last are known 
only from this epistle; others have been brought to our attention 
again and again. 

In Second Timothy Paul appears as a prisoner, no doubt at Rome. 
This time there seems to be little hope of his release. Apparently 
his imprisonment is not of long standing. Only recently he has 
been at Corinth and at Miletus. II Tim. 4 : 20. He speaks in one 
place of his first defense. V. 16. Some suppose that this is a 
reminiscence of the trial which had taken place years before, during 
the first imprisonment. More probably it refers to some pre- 
liminary hearing which had only recently been held. Paul is 
oppressed with a sense of loneliness, even more than during the 
first imprisonment. There was no one to stand by him at his first 
hearing. For one reason or another, his intimate associates have 
been scattered — some of them, no doubt, for good and sufficient 
reasons, but Demas, at any rate, out of an unworthy love of the 
world. Luke, fortunately, is still with him; and Timothy, with 
Mark, is urged to come before the winter. Vs. 11, 21. Mark 
seems to have changed since he turned back from the work at Perga. 
At the beginning he was rebuked for desertion ; but now at the end 
he is one of the few faithful ones. 

It is not quite clear where Timothy was when the letter was 
addressed to him. The greeting to Priscilla and Aquila might 
seem to point to Ephesus. They had lived there before; perhaps 

Sen. T. III. 2. 



TRAINING NEW LEADERS 143 

they returned thither after a residence in Rome. Rom. 16 : 3. 
If Timothy was in Ephesus, then Tychicus, who was sent thither, 
II Tim. 4 : 12, was probably expected to linger by the way; other- 
wise his sending would be no news to the reader of the letter. 
Something is to be said, perhaps, for the view that Timothy was 
not at Ephesus, but perhaps at Lystra, his original home. 

The Second Epistle to Timothy contains warnings against false 
teaching similar to those which appear in First Timothy and Titus. 
But the characteristic feature of the letter is to be found in the 
references to the apostle's own life. Even the warnings and ad- 
monitions are brought into relation to these. Paul does not 
hesitate to point to himself as an example for his beloved followers. 
He does so, without a touch of vain glory, in the simple consciousness 
of a divine commission. Second Timothy is a letter of farewell, in 
which reminiscence and exhortation are characteristically blended. 
It is a farewell from the apostle, primarily for Timothy, though he 
is expecting to see Timothy again, but also for all of the Pauline 
churches. The letter has taken deep hold of every generation in 
the history of the Church. The fitting end of a life of true service, 
the calm facing of death, the certainty of heavenly communion 
with the Lord — these are the things above all others that have 
been learned from the last of the epistles of Paul. 



In The Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," 
pp. 252-261. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": Purves, articles on 
"Timothy" and "Titus." M'Clymont, "The New Testament and its 
Writers," pp. 104-115. Lewin, "The Life and Epistles of St. Paul," 
vol. ii, chs. vii, viii, ix, x and xi. Conybeare and Howson, "The Life 
and Epistles of St. Paul," ch. xxvii. Stalker, "The Life of St. Paul," 
pp. 133-136. Warfield, "Acts, Timothy, Titus and Philemon," in "The 
Temple Bible," pp. xxvii-xliii. Ellicott, "A New Testament Commentary 
for English Readers, vol. iii, pp. 171-264 : Spence, "The Pastoral Epistles 
of St. Paul." "The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges": Hum- 
phreys, "The Epistles to Timothy and Titus." Zahn, "Introduction 
to the New Testament," vol. ii, pp. 1-133. The last named work is 
intended primarily for those who have some knowledge of Greek, but 
can also be used by others. 



Sen. T. HI. 2. 



PART III : 

The Presentation and Defense of 
Christianity 



LESSON XXVII 

A PRESENTATION OF JESUS TO JEWISH CHRISTIANS 

The Gospel According to Matthew 



The Gospel of Matthew is probably, as has been said, the most 
important book that was ever written. Its importance is due to the 
information which it contains about Jesus Christ. More fully per- 
haps than any other one book, the Gospel of Matthew has preserved 
the knowledge of Jesus. 

Whatever be the future of the Church, the life of Jesus will now 
always remain the central fact of history. Even the secondary in- 
fluence of Jesus is incalculable; even if none were left to own him as 
Lord and Master, still he would remain incomparably the most in- 
fluential man that has ever lived. As a matter of fact, however, 
such a condition has never existed and never will exist. From the 
very beginning the life of Jesus made itself felt through those who 
accepted him, to the exclusion of all others, as the supreme Lord of 
their lives. If Jesus had been regarded merely as a quiet teacher of 
ethics, the Gospel of Matthew never would have been written, and 
probably the very name of Jesus would have perished. The won- 
derful influence of Jesus, which has transformed the world from 
darkness to light, which alone gives promise of a final reign of 
righteousness, has been exerted through the instrumentality, not of 
admirers, but of disciples. Jesus has been a Teacher only because he 
has been a Master. 

To make Jesus Master in the lives of men was the purpose of the 
Gospel of Matthew, and it is the purpose of our study of the book. 
The Gospel was not written with merely scientific interest; it was not 
written merely to preserve certain gems from the lips of an inspired 
teacher. The ultimate purpose of the book was to make men fall at 
Jesus' feet with the words, "My Lord and my God." Such a pur- 
pose is not inconsistent with the most scrupulous truthfulness. 
Adoration of Jesus can be induced best of all, not by fanciful elabora- 
tion, but by sober fact. In the case of Jesus, truth was more 
glorious by far than the boldest fiction. 

To make Jesus Lord and Saviour is the purpose of our work 

Sen. T. III. 3. I ,j 



148 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

as teachers. That purpose cannot be attained by exhortation or 
by threatening, but only by impartation of knowledge. To know 
Jesus is to trust him and adore him. Many readers of the Gospels 
never attain to the true knowledge. Their failure is due to various 
causes — to moral laxness, to preconceived opinions, to spiritual 
dullness. One obstacle, however, is of a simpler kind. One thing 
that stands in the way of a real understanding of the Gospels is the 
habit of piecemeal reading. We read the Gospels bit by bit instead 
of allowing the whole to make its impression. We do not see the 
wood for the trees. Jesus is concealed from us by his individual acts. 
The Gospels should be read as well as studied — read rapidly, like an 
ordinary book, preferably in some rational form of printing where 
verse numbers and all editorial matters are relegated to the margin 
and the lines stretch across the page. These things may seem to be 
trivialities, and certainly they are not essential. What is essential — 
not in place of detailed study, but in addition to it — is a rapid 
reading of the Gospels, by which, through the exclusion of all non- 
essentials, the mysterious, holy person of Jesus is brought 
simply and freshly before the wondering soul. Not to know 
about Jesus, but to know him, is the prime object of our 
study. To know about him is a valuable part of education; but 
to know him is life eternal. 

1. MEANING OF "GOSPEL" 

The Greek word for "gospel" means "good news." Nowhere in 
the New Testament, however, is that word applied to a book. 
There is no reference in the New Testament to a "Gospel" of 
Matthew or of Mark or of Luke or of John. In the New Testament 
the word "gospel" has a more general reference. It designates the 
"good news" which lies at the basis of Christian preaching, however 
that news may be known. Christianity is based upon "a piece of 
information." The subject of that information is the life and death 
and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without Christ we should have 
been hopeless, but Christ has saved us. Information about what 
he has done for us, however that information be conveyed, is the 
gospel. 

This broad use of the word "gospel" appears even in the titles 
"Gospel according to Matthew," "Gospel according to Mark," 
"Gospel according to Luke," and "Gospel according to John," 
which "are not due to the original authors of the books. "Gospel 
according to Matthew" did not originally mean the same thing as 

Sen. T. III. 3. 



A PRESENTATION OF JESUS 149 

"Gospel of Matthew." It did not mean the Gospel which Matthew 
produced, but the one Gospel of Jesus Christ as Matthew narrated 
it. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John produced simply four accounts 
of the same thing. That common subject of the four accounts is 
the gospel, the good news, of what Jesus Christ has done for his 
followers. 

At a very early time, however, books which had the gospel as their 
subject came themselves to be designated as "Gospels." The usage 
is convenient, and will be freely adopted in these textbooks. We 
may speak indiscriminately of the "Gospel according to Matthew" 
and of the "Gospel of Matthew." 

2. AUTHORSHIP OF THE FIRST GOSPEL 

(1) Not Indicated in the Gospel Itself. — The Gospel of Matthew 
should be sharply distinguished from those books which them- 
selves make definite claims as to their authorship. The Epistle 
to the Romans, for example, claims to have been written by the 
apostle Paul. If it was not written by Paul, it is a forgery. The 
book of The Acts, also, though it does not mention the name of the 
author, claims at least — through the use of the first person plural 
- — to have been written by some companion of the apostle Paul. 
Even the Gospel of John, as we shall see, really affords clear indi- 
cations about its own authorship. The Gospel of Matthew, on the 
other hand, lays no claim to any particular authorship. We might 
believe that it was written by some other person than Matthew and 
yet be perfectly loyal to the book itself. The self-witness of the 
book is confined merely to a claim of truthfulness. If we believe 
that the record which the book contains is true, then we might, in 
perfect loyalty to the Gospel, believe that it was written by some 
one like Luke or Mark, outside of the company of the apostles. 
Such a view, however, would display an unreasonable distrust of 
Christian tradition. 

(2) Papias on the First Gospel. — The earliest extant informa- 
tion about the authorship of the First Gospel is to be found in a 
fragment which Eusebius, the church historian of the fourth century, 
has preserved from a lost work of Papias. Papias was bishop of 
Hierapolis in Asia Minor in the former half of the second century. 

The fragment from Papias, which is found in Eusebius, Church 
History, iii, 39, 16, may be translated as follows: 

"Matthew accordingly wrote [or compiled] the oracles in the 
Hebrew dialect, and everyone translated them as he was able." 



150 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

It seems pretty evident that Papias is here referring to the First 
Gospel. Some, indeed, have supposed that he means by "the 
oracles" a writing composed almost exclusively of sayings of Jesus, 
which formed merely one of the sources of our First Gospel. This 
view is probably incorrect. Papias could designate the Gospel of 
Matthew as "the oracles" either because of the large place which 
sayings of Jesus have in this Gospel, as compared, for example, with 
the Gospel of Mark, or else because the whole Gospel, both speeches 
and narrative, was of divine, oracular authority. The view that 
"according to Matthew" in the ancient title and in Christian 
tradition means not that Matthew wrote the book, but that it is 
based in some way ultimately on his authority, is opposed by the 
analogy of Mark. As we shall see, the Gospel of Mark, in early 
tradition, was referred ultimately to the authority of Peter; if, 
therefore, "according to" was used in the sense indicated above, 
the Second Gospel would have been called the Gospel "according to 
Peter" instead of the Gospel "according to Mark." 

The testimony of Papias involves two principal assertions: in the 
first place, that Matthew wrote the First Gospel; and in the second 
place, that he wrote it in the "Hebrew" language. 

The former assertion, which is supported by a striking consensus 
of early writers, has already been considered. The latter is much 
more puzzling. 

3. WAS THE FIRST GOSPEL ORIGINALLY ARAMAIC? 

(1) Meaning of "Hebrew." — By "the Hebrew dialect," Papias 
no doubt means Aramaic rather than what we call Hebrew. The 
term "Hebrew" was applied to both of the two closely related 
languages. Compare Acts 21 : 40. It is exceedingly unlikely that 
a Gospel would have been written in Hebrew; for before the time of 
Christ that had ceased to be the living language of Palestine. What 
Papias asserts, then, is that Matthew wrote in Aramaic. 

(2) "Everyone Translated Them as He Was Able." — Papias 
asserts further that everyone translated the oracles as he was able. 
These words may be interpreted in various ways. Perhaps they 
mean that every man who used the original of Matthew had to 
translate it for himself; or perhaps that the Gospel was translated 
orally in the churches, as the Jews translated the Hebrew Old Testa- 
ment into Aramaic in the synagogues; or perhaps that a number of 
written translations of the Gospel were made. At any rate Papias 
seems to imply that the condition which he here describes had come 



A PRESENTATION OF JESUS 151 

to an end when he wrote. Some one Greek form of the Gospel had 
gained general acceptance ; the time when everyone translated as he 
was able was at an end. 

(3) Value of the Tradition. — The tradition of an Aramaic orig- 
inal of Matthew is not preserved merely by Papias, but appears 
in a considerable number of early writers. How far the other 
writers are independent of Papias is a disputed question. The 
tradition may be variously estimated. Some have supposed that 
it is entirely correct — that our Greek Gospel of Matthew is a trans- 
lation, by Matthew himself or by some one else, of an Aramaic work : 
others have supposed that the tradition is altogether false — for 
example, that an Aramaic translation of the Greek Gospel was mis- 
taken for an original from which the Greek Gospel had been trans- 
lated: others hold intermediate views — for example, that one of the 
sources of our Greek Gospel was written in Aramaic. An important 
objection to the view that there was an Aramaic original of Matthew 
is that the Greek Gospel looks more like an original Greek work than 
like a translation. The tradition of the Aramaic Matthew places 
before us one of the unsolved problems of New Testament criticism. 
One thing is certain — the language of the Gospel of Matthew, like 
that of the other Gospels, has a strong Aramaic coloring. This, 
however, does not require the hypothesis that our Matthew was 
translated from an Aramaic original. Undoubtedly, however our 
Greek Matthew was written, there was a time in the early days of 
the Church when the tradition of the life of Christ was carried on 
chiefly or wholly in the Aramaic language. The words of Jesus, at 
any rate, as they appear in our Gospels, have at some time or other 
undergone translation; for Jesus taught in Aramaic. The Aramaic 
coloring of the Gospels is one of the evidences of their trustworthi- 
ness. Though written in Greek, they are evidently rooted deep in 
the original Palestinian soil. 

4. DATE 

The date of the Gospel cannot be determined with accuracy. 
Some indication, however, is afforded by the assertion of Irenseus, 
of the latter part of the second century, that Matthew published his 
Gospel while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome. Even if this 
assertion should prove not to be absolutely correct, it would exhibit 
an early tradition for the years between about A. D. 60 and 70 as 
the date of the Gospel. This tradition is confirmed by the wide- 
spread view among early writers that Matthew was written before 
Mark; for Mark is now generally admitted to have been written 



152 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

before the destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70. There is really 
no serious objection to the traditional dating of Matthew. It was 
probably written in the sixties of the first century, and probably, as 
tradition says, in Palestine. 

There are traces of the use of the Gospel in writers of the early 
half of the second century. On the other hand, there is no clear indi- 
cation that it was used by any New Testament writer. The absence 
of citations from our Gospels in the epistles of Paul would tend to 
indicate that in the very earliest period the gospel tradition was 
carried on by word of mouth rather than by books. 

5. THE APOSTLE MATTHEW 

In the four lists of the apostles, Matt. 10 : 2-4; Mark 3 : 16-19; 
Luke 6 : 13-16; Acts 1 : 13, Matthew is designated by the bare 
name, except in his own Gospel, where he appears as "Matthew 
the publican." In Matt. 9 : 9, his call is narrated. In the 
parallel passages in Mark and Luke, Mark 2 : 14; Luke 5 : 27, 28, 
the name of the publican who was called is given only as "Levi." 
Without the Gospel of Matthew we should not have been able to 
identify Levi and Matthew. Evidently the apostle had two names, 
as was the case with so many others of the persons mentioned in the 
New Testament. After his call, Matthew made a great feast for 
Jesus. Luke 5 : 29; compare Mark 2 : 15. Matthew himself, 
alone among the Synoptists, does not even make it perfectly clear 
that it was he in whose house Jesus sat at meat. The peculiarities 
of the First Gospel in what is said about Matthew become significant 
when the authorship is known. Of course of themselves they would 
be quite insufficient to indicate who the author was. The assertion 
by early writers that Matthew wrote the Gospel, was based not upon 
indications in the Gospel itself, but upon independent tradition. 

6. "THE BOOK OF THE GENERATION OF JESUS CHRIST" 

The first verse of the Gospel is evidently based upon the formula, 
occurring for the first time at Gen. 5:1, which marks off the 
divisions of the book of Genesis. It is most naturally regarded as a 
heading for the genealogy that follows in Matt. 1 : 2-17. There is 
only one objection to that view. In Genesis "the book of the gener- 
ations of Adam," or "the generations of Shem" or the like, introduces 
an account, not of ancestors of the persons in question, but of their 
descendants. InMatt. 1 : 2-17, on the contrary, we have an account 
not of descendants of Jesus, but of ancestors. This objection has led 



A PRESENTATION OF JESUS 153 

some scholars to regard Matt. 1 : 1 as the title not of the genealogy 
but of the whole Gospel. The title would then represent Jesus as 
the beginning of a new race, or of a new period in the history of 
humanity. 

This interpretation is unnecessarily subtle. It should rather be 
admitted that there is a difference between the phrase in Genesis and 
that in Matthew. The difference is very natural. In the case of 
Abraham the descendants were in view; in the case of the Messiah, 
the ancestors. Adam and Noah and Abraham were bearers of a 
promise; Christ was the culmination. Genesis looks forward; 
Matthew looks back. The difference in the use of the phrase is 
natural and significant. 

The title, with the whole genealogy, is significant of what is to 
follow. At the very start, the ruling thought of Matthew's Gospel 
finds expression. Jesus is son of David, and son of Abraham; he is 
the culmination of the divine promise. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," pp. 
270-272, 290-293. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": Purves (supple- 
mented), articles on "Gospel" and "Matthew." M'Clymont, "The New 
Testament and Its Writers," pp. 1-20. Stevens and Burton, "A Harmony 
of the Gospels." Ellicott, "A New Testament Commentary for English 
Readers," vol. i: Plumptre, "The Gospel According to St. Matthew, 
St. Mark, and St. Luke," pp. xli-xliii, 1-186. Zahn, "Introduction to the 
New Testament," vol. ii, pp. 367-427, 506-601. The last-named work 
is intended primarily for those who have some knowledge of Greek, but 
can also be used by others. 



LESSON XXVIII 

A GRAPHIC SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF JESUS 

The Gospel According to Mark 



The Gospel of Mark contains scarcely any material which is not 
also contained in one or both of the other two Synoptic Gospels. 
The loss of Mark would not diminish appreciably the number of 
facts that we know about Jesus. Nevertheless, the Second Gospel 
is of the utmost importance; for although it narrates for the most 
part only the same facts as are also narrated elsewhere, it narrates 
them in a different way. Indeed the very brevity of the Gospel adds 
to its special value. A picture is sometimes the more impressive by 
being limited in extent. Read the Gospel of Mark, not piecemeal 
but as a whole, and you obtain an impression of Jesus which can be 
obtained from no other book. 

1. THE TRADITION 

(1) Papias on Mark. — As in the case of Matthew, so in that of 
Mark it is Papias of Hierapolis who provides the earliest information 
about the production of the Gospel. Again also the words of Papias 
are quoted by Eusebius (Church History, iii, 39, 15). The passage 
from Papias is as follows: 

"This also the presbyter said: 'Mark, on the one hand, being an 
interpreter of Peter, wrote accurately as many things as he remem- 
bered, yet not in order, the things which were either said or done by 
the Lord.' For neither did he hear the Lord nor did he follow him, 
but afterwards, as I said, he followed Peter, who carried on his 
teaching as need required but not as though he were making an 
ordered account of the oracles of the Lord; so that Mark committed 
no fault when he wrote some things as he had remembered them. 
For he had one care — that he should not leave out anything of the 
things that he had heard, or represent anything among them falsely." 

(2) Antiquity of the Papian Tradition. — It will be observed 
that Papias is here represented as quoting from "the presbyter." 
Probably, however, it is only the first sentence that is quoted ; the 
rest seems to be an explanation by Papias himself. By " presbyter," 

154 



A GRAPHIC SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF JESUS 155 

or "elder," Papias means not an officer in the Church, but a man of 
an older generation. The tradition is therefore very ancient. 
Papias himself lived in the former half of the second century; a man 
of a still older generation would probably have acquired his infor- 
mation about Mark well before A. D. 100. Such information is not 
to be lightly rejected. 

(3) Mark an Interpreter of Peter. — According to the presby- 
ter, Mark was an "interpreter" of Peter. If the word be taken 
strictly it means that Mark translated the words of Peter from one 
language into another — probably from Aramaic into Greek. On 
the whole, however, it is not probable, in view of linguistic conditions 
in Palestine and in the Church, that Peter would be unable to speak 
( .reek. Perhaps, then, the sentence means that Markwasmerely the 
mediator, in a general sense, of Peter's preaching. He presented the 
teaching of Peter to those who had not had the opportunity of 
hearing it themselves. Perhaps the meaning is that he had done 
so formerly by word of mouth. Perhaps, however, it is rather the 
Gospel itself that is referred to. By writing the Gospel Mark be- 
came an interpreter or mediator of the preaching of Peter. 

At any rate, whatever meaning be given to the word "interpreter," 
the general sense of the sentence — especially when taken in connec- 
tion with the following explanation by Papias is fairly clear. Mark 
derived the information for his Gospel not from personal acquaint- 
ance with the earthly Jesus, but from association with Peter. 

(4) Mark Not Written "In Order." — The presbyter said further 
that although Mark wrote accurately what he heard from 
Peter, he did not succeed in giving "in order" an account of the 
things that Jesus did and said. Evidently the historical incom- 
pleteness, the lack of uninterrupted sequence, of the Gospel of Mark 
is here in view. 

But by what standard is the Gospel judged? It can hardly be 
by the standard of Matthew, for Matthew pays even less attention to 
temporal sequence than Mark does. The order in Luke also is by no 
means in all respects more strictly chronological than that in Mark. 
Only one standard satisfies the requirements of the presbyter's 
words — the standard provided by the teaching of John. John was 
the great leader of the Church of Asia Minor. His teaching 
naturally formed the standard of authority in that region. Perhaps 
at the time when the presbyter expressed his judgment on Mark the 
Gospel of John had already been written, so that one Gospel could 
be compared with the other; perhaps, however, it was merely the 



156 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

oral teaching of John, afterwards embodied in the Gospel, which 
afforded the basis of comparison. The Gospel of John alone pro- 
vides something like a chronological framework of the public ministry 
of Jesus: John alone mentions the early Judean ministry; John alone 
narrates the successive visits of Jesus to the feasts in Jerusalem. If, 
as is possible, "the presbyter" of Papias was none other than John 
himself, then of course the whole matter becomes especially plain. 
John knew that there were important omissions in the Gospel of 
Mark; he probably observed, for example, that that Gospel if taken 
alone might readily create the impression that the ministry of Jesus 
lasted only one year instead of three or four. No doubt he 
corrected this impression in his oral teaching; certainly he corrects 
it in his Gospel. In commending the Gospel of Mark, John 
would naturally call attention to its chronological incompleteness. 

2. THE HEADING 

Like the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of Mark opens not with a 
sentence, but with a heading. As in the former case, however, the 
exact reference of the heading is uncertain. "The beginning of the 
gospel of Jesus Christ" may, in the first place, mean merely, "Here 
begins the gospel of Jesus Christ." "The gospel of Jesus Christ" 
would then be simply the story about Christ that is narrated in the 
book that follows. 

In the second place, the phrase may be taken as a description of 
the contents of the book. The whole of Jesus' life would then be 
described as the beginning of that proclamation of the gospel which 
was afterwards continued by the apostles and by the Church. 

In the third place, the phrase may be merely a heading for the 
section that immediately follows, for Mark 1 : 2-8, or for vs. 2-13. 
In this case the preaching of John the Baptist, with or without the 
baptism of Jesus, the descent of the Spirit, and the temptation, 
would be described as the beginning of, as preliminary to, the proc- 
lamation of the gospel, which is mentioned in vs. 14, 15. 

Perhaps the first interpretation is to be preferred as being the 
simplest, though it must be admitted that the phrase is a little 
puzzling. 

3. MARK THE MISSIONARY GOSPEL 

It is significant that the Gospel of Mark begins not with the 
birth and infancy of Jesus, but with the ministry of John the 
Baptist and the subsequent preaching of Jesus in Galilee. Mark 



A GRAPHIC SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF JESUS 157 

seems to be following with gr.eat exactness the scheme of early- 
apostolic preaching as it is laid down in Acts 10 : 37-43. Ap- 
parently Mark is preeminently the missionary Gospel ; it contains 
only those things which had a place in the first preaching to un- 
believers. That does not mean that the things which Mark omits 
are necessarily less important than the things which it contains. 
Mark gives a summary, not exactly of the most important things 
about Jesus, but rather of the things which unbelievers or recent 
converts could most easily understand. Hence the omission of 
the mystery of the birth, of the profound teaching of the early 
Judean ministry, of the intimate instructions to the disciples. 
These things are of fundamental importance. But they can best 
be understood only after one has first acquired a thorough grasp 
of the public ministry, and of the death and resurrection. 

The Second Gospel, judged by purely formal standards, cannot 
be called exactly a beautiful book. It lacks the rhythm of Old 
Testament poetry, and the grace of the Gospel of Luke. But 
its rough, vigorous naturalness conveys a message of compelling 
power. 



In the Library. — Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": Purves 
(edited) article on "Mark." M'Clymont, "The New Testament and 
Its Writers," pp. 21-26. Stevens and Burton, "A Harmony of the 
Gospels." Ellicott, "A New Testament Commentary for English 
Readers," vol. i: Plumptre, "The Gospel according to St. Matthew, 
St. Mark, and St. Luke," pp. 187-234. "The Cambridge Bible for 
Schools": Maclear, "The Gospel according to St. Mark." Zahn, 
"Introduction to the New Testament," vol. ii, pp. 427-506, 601-617. 
The last-named work is intended primarily for those who have some 
knowledge of Greek, but can also be used by others. 



LESSON XXIX 

A GREEK HISTORIAN'S ACCOUNT OF JESUS 
The Gospel According to Luke 



The purpose of the Gospel of Luke was, the author says in his 
prologue, that Theophilus might know the certainty concerning the 
things wherein he had been instructed. These words involve 
recognition of a fundamental need of the Church, which is to-day 
often ignored. After interest in Christianity has been aroused, 
after faith has been awakened, the Christian feels the need of a 
deeper intellectual grounding of the faith that is in him. This feeling 
is perfectly legitimate; it should not be stifled; the expression of it 
should not be treated necessarily as sinful doubt. 

The treatment of these natural questionings is one of the most 
important problems that faces the teachers of the present course. 
We are dealing with young men and women of maturing minds, 
many of whom can no longer be satisfied with the unthinking faith 
of childhood. If Christianity is to remain permanently a force in 
their lives it must be related to their entire intellectual equipment; 
it must be exhibited as a reasonable thing, which is consistent with 
a sane and healthy view of the world. In other words, we are deal- 
ing with the problem of religious doubt, which is almost an in- 
evitable stage in the development of intelligent Christians of the 
present day. 

Undoubtedly the problem is often very unwisely handled. By 
hearing every natural expression of their doubt unmercifully decried 
as rebellion against the Word of God, many intelligent young 
people are being driven into hopeless estrangement from the Church. 
It is useless to try to bully people into faith. Instead, we ought to 
learn the method of the Third Gospel. 

Very possibly Luke was facing the very same problem that is be- 
fore us teachers to-day — very possibly Theophilus, to whom the 
Gospel and The Acts were dedicated, was a young man who had 
grown up in the Church and could now no longer be satisfied with 
the vague and unsystematic instruction that had been given him 
in childhood. At any rate, whether he was a young man grown up 

158 



A GREEK HISTORIAN'S ACCOUNT OF JESUS 159 

in the Church, or a recent convert, or merely a Gentile interested in 
Christianity, he was a person of intellectual interests, and those 
interests are treated by the evangelist not with contempt but with 
the utmost sympathy. The Gospel was written in order that 
Theophilus might "know the certainty" of those things wherein he 
had been instructed. 

That might be regarded as the motto for the entire course of 
study which we have undertaken this year. It should be our aim 
to lay before young people of the Church the certainty of the things 
wherein they have been instructed — to enable them to substitute 
for the unreasoning faith of childhood the profound convictions of 
full-grown men and women. Moreover, exactly like the author of 
the Third Gospel, we are endeavoring to accomplish this aim, not 
by argument, but by an orderly presentation of "those matters which 
have been fulfilled among us." A simple historical presentation of 
the facts upon which Christianity is founded is the surest safeguard 
of Christian faith. 

1. THE PROLOGUE 

Alone among the Synoptists Luke gives his readers some direct 
information about the methods of his work. Luke 1 : 1-4; Acts 
1 : 1, 2. This information, which was barely touched upon in the 
Student's Text Book, must here be considered somewhat more in 
detail. 

(1) Luke Not an Eyewitness from the Beginning. — From the 
prologue to the Gospel, Luke 1 : 1-4, it appears, in the first place, 
that Luke was not an eyewitness of the events that he narrates — 
at least he was not an eyewitness "from the beginning." 

(2) His Predecessors. — In the second place, it appears that he had 
had predecessors in his task of writing an account of early Christian 
history. Apparently, however, none of these previous works were 
produced by an apostle or by an eyewitness of the earthly ministry 
of Jesus. The previous writers, like Luke himself, were dependent 
upon the testimony of the eyewitnesses. The Gospel of Matthew, 
therefore, since it was written by an apostle, was not one of the 
works to which reference is made. This conclusion is amply con- 
firmed by a comparison of Matthew with Luke. Evidently, at least, 
the two are entirely independent. If Luke refers to the First 
Gospel in the prologue, at any rate he made no use of it. 

(3) Was Mark One of the Predecessors? — The Gospel of Mark, on 
the contrary, answers to the description of the previous works. It 
was written not by an eyewitness, but by one who listened to eye- 



160 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

witnesses. Perhaps, therefore, it was one of the many works to 
which Luke refers. If so, it may well have been used by Luke in 
the preparation of his own Gospel. This supposition is by no means 
excluded by a comparison of the two books. As a matter of fact, 
the great majority of modern scholars suppose that the writer of 
the Third Gospel made use of the Gospel of Mark. All that can 
here be asserted is that this view, though not required by what Luke 
says in his prologue, is perfectly consistent with it. 

(4) Luke's Attitude Toward the Predecessors. — It should be ob- 
served that Luke attaches no blame whatever to the efforts of his fore- 
runners. When he says that they had "taken in hand" or "attempted" 
to write accounts of certain things, he does not imply in the slightest 
that their attempts had been unsuccessful. He means simply to 
justify his own procedure by a reference to what had already been 
done. "My effort at writing an account of the origin of Chris- 
tianity," he says in effect, "is no strange, unheard-of thing. I have 
had many predecessors." Such a reference to the work of pred- 
ecessors was in antiquity a common literary form. At the very 
beginning of his work, Luke displays the effects of his Greek literary 
training. 

Of course, however, although Luke attaches no blame to his 
predecessors, he would not have undertaken a new work if he had 
thought that the old satisfied all needs. Evidently he hoped to 
accomplish by his own book something that his predecessors had 
not accomplished or had accomplished only in part. 

(5) The Subject of the Gospel. — Finally, therefore, Luke informs his 
readers what his own peculiar methods and purposes were. The 
main subject of the Gospel is not described with any definiteness in 
Luke 1 : 1-4, but it appears in the retrospect at the beginning of the 
second work. There the subject of the Gospel is designated as "all 
that Jesus began both to do and to teach, until the day in which he 
was received up, after that he had given commandment through the 
Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen." Acts 
1 : 1, 2. The subject of the Gospel, in other words, was the earthly 
life of Jesus. 

(6) Completeness of the Narrative. — In treating this subject, Luke 
had striven, he says, Luke 1 : 3, first of all for completeness. In his 
investigations he had followed all things from the beginning. This 
feature appears plainly in the Gospel. Instead of beginning as 
Mark does, with the public ministry of Jesus, Luke first gives an 
account of the birth and infancy, and not content with that, he 



A GREEK HISTORIAN'S ACCOUNT OF JESUS l6l 

goes back even to events preceding the birth not only of Jesus, but 
also of his forerunner. 

(7) Accuracy. — In the second place, Luke says that he had striven 
after accuracy. Here again the Gospel justifies the claim of its 
author. The effort after precision may be seen perhaps especially 
in such a passage as Luke 3:1,2, where there is an elaborate dating 
of the beginning of John the Baptist's ministry. 

(8) Orderly Arrangement. — The effort at orderly arrangement, 
which forms a third part of the claim which the author makes, was, 
especially in the Gospel, limited by the material that was at hand. 
Evidently in Palestine in the early period, the memory of the earthly 
ministry of Jesus was preserved not in a connected narrative, but in 
isolated anecdotes. It was impossible, therefore, even for a his- 
torian like Luke to maintain a chronological arrangement through- 
out; where chronological arrangement was impossible he was 
obliged to be satisfied with an arrangement according to logical 
affinities. This logical method of arrangement, however, is not 
resorted to by Luke so much as by Matthew; and for considerable 
sections of his narrative he was able to gratify his historian's desire 
for recounting events in the order in which they happened. 

(9) Luke a Historian. — Detailed examination of the prologue should 
not be allowed to obscure the outstanding fact that the sum of what 
Luke here attests is a genuine historical aim and method in the com- 
position of his work. Of course, history in Luke's mind did not 
exist for its own sake. The Gospel of Luke is not a mere scientific 
dissertation., On the contrary, the history which is narrated was 
to the author a thing of supreme value. But it was valuable only 
because it was true. There is not the slightest evidence that Luke 
was a bad historian because he was a good Christian. On the 
contrary, he was a Christian just because he was a historian. In the 
case of Jesus, knowledge of the real facts is the surest way to 
adoration. 

(10) Is Luke 1 : 1-4 a Prologue to both the Gospel and The Acts? — 
The first four verses of the Gospel of Luke may be taken as a 
prologue either to the Gospel alone or else to the entire work, in- 
cluding both the Gospel and The Acts. The latter view, since the 
subject is described in v. 1 only in very broad terms, is not to be 
rashly rejected. No doubt, however, in the prologue Luke was 
thinking especially of the former part of the work — the part for 
which he was dependent altogether upon the testimony of others. 
The first verses of The Acts link the two parts close together. 

Sen. T. III. 3. 



1 62 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

Their connection has been obscured by the traditional arrange- 
ment of our New Testament books. But that arrangement is al- 
together advisable. The former part of the Lucan work certainly 
belongs among the Gospels; and of the Gospels the Gospel of John 
must certainly be placed last, as being supplementary to the others. 

2. TYPICAL PASSAGES 

The characteristics of the Gospel of Luke may perhaps be pre- 
sented more vividly than by the general description in the Student's 
Text Book, by an examination of a few typical passages. The two 
such passages which we shall choose somewhat at random, are the 
narrative of the birth and infancy in Luke 1 : 5 to 2 : 52, and the 
parable of the Prodigal Son. Ch. 15 : 11-32. Both of these are 
without any parallel in the other Gospels. Matthew provides an 
infancy narrative, but it is concerned for the most part with events 
different from those that appear in Luke. 

(1) The Narrative of the Birth and Infancy. — It has often been ob- 
served that the characteristic Greek sentence of the prologue, Luke 
1 : 1-4, is immediately followed by the most strongly Hebraistic 
passage in the New Testament. The Semitic style of Luke 1 : 5 
to 2 : 52 becomes explicable only if Luke was here making use of 
Palestinian sources, either oral or written. This conclusion is con- 
firmed by the whole spirit and substance of the narrative. In this 
narrative as clearly as anywhere else in the New Testament we 
find ourselves transplanted to Palestinian soil. 

The early date of the narrative is as evident as its Jewish Christian 
and Palestinian character. There is here no reference to concrete 
events in the later history of the Church. Messianic prophecy 
appears in its Old Testament form uncolored by the details of the 
fulfillment. Evidently this narrative is no product of the Church's 
fancy, but genuine history told in the very forms of speech which 
were natural to those who participated in it. 

The first two chapters of Luke are in spirit really a bit of the Old 
Testament continued to the very threshold of the New. These 
chapters contain the poetry of the New Testament, which has taken 
deep hold of the heart and fancy of the Church. 

In this section of his Gospel, Luke shows himself to be a genuine 
historian. A biographer is not satisfied with narrating the public 
life of his hero, but prefaces to his work some account of the family, 
and of the birth and childhood. So our understanding of the 
ministry of Jesus becomes far deeper when we know that he grew 



A GREEK HISTORIAN'S ACCOUNT OF JESUS 163 

up among the simple, devout folk who are described in the first two 
chapters of Luke. The picture of Mary in these chapters, painted 
with an exquisite delicacy of touch, throws a flood of light upon the 
earthly life of the Son of Man. 

Beauty of detail, however, must not be allowed to obscure the 
central fact. The culmination of the narrative, undoubtedly, is to 
be found in the stupendous mystery of Luke 1 : 34, 35. Far from 
being an excrescence in the narrative, as it has sometimes been rep- 
resented in an age of rampant naturalism, the supernatural concep- 
tion of Jesus is the very keystone of the arch. In this central fact, 
Matthew and Luke, totally independent as they are, are perfectly 
agreed. By this fact Jesus is represented, more clearly perhaps 
than by anything else, as not a product of the world but a Saviour 
come from without. 

(2) The Prodigal Son. — The parable of the Prodigal Son, simple 
though it is, has often been sadly misinterpreted. It has been 
thought to mean, for example, that God pardons sin on the basis 
simply of human repentance without the necessity of the divine 
sacrifice. All such interpretations are wide of the mark. The 
parable is not meant to teach how God pardons sin, but only the 
fact that he does pardon it with joy, and that we ought to share in 
his joy. 

Misinterpretation of the parable has come from the ignoring of 
its occasion. The key to the interpretation is given in Luke 15 : 1, 
2.* Jesus was receiving publicans and sinners. Instead of rejoicing 
at the salvation of these poor, degraded sons of Abraham, the 
Pharisees murmured. In rebuke, Jesus spoke three parables. 
One of them, the parable of the Lost Sheep, is reported also by 
Matthew, ch. 18 : 12-14; but the last two, the parables of the Lost 
Coin and of the Prodigal Son, appear only in Luke. 

The teaching of all three of these parables is exactly the same. 
The imagery varies, but the application is constant. That ap- 
plication may be expressed very simply: "God rejoices at the salva- 
tion of a sinner; if, therefore, you are really sons of God, you will 
rejoice too." In the parable of the Prodigal Son, however, the 
application is forced home more poignantly than in either of the 
other two. In that parable alone among the three, the Pharisees 
could see — in the elder brother — a direct representation of them- 
selves. 

The incident of the elder brother, sometimes regarded as a mere 
detail, really introduces the main point of the parable. Everything 



1 64 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

else leads up to that. The wonderful description of the joy of the 
father at the prodigal's home-coming is all intended as a contrast to 
the churlish jealousy of the brother. The elder brother was as far 
as possible from sharing in the father's joy. That showed that he 
was no true son. Though he lived under the father's roof, he had no 
real inward share in the father's life. So it was with the Pharisees. 
They lived in the Father's house; they were, as we should say, 
members of the Church. But when salvation, in the person of 
Jesus, had at last come to the poor, sinful outcasts of the people, 
the Pharisees drew aside. God rejoiced when the publicans crowded 
in to Jesus; but the Pharisees held back. That showed that after 
all they were not, as they thought, true sons of God. If they had 
been, they would have shared God's feeling. 

It should be noticed that the parable ends with an invitation. 
The elder brother is not harshly rebuked by the father, but tenderly 
urged to come in still. Will the invitation be accepted? The 
question is not answered; and there lies the crowning beauty of the 
parable. The Pharisees are still given a chance. Will they still 
share the joy of God at the return of his lost children? They must 
answer the question for themselves. 

And we, too, have the same question to answer. If we are really 
children of God, then we shall not despise the outcasts and the 
sinners, but shall rejoice with him at their salvation. The parable 
is characteristic of the Gospel of Luke. Of course, Luke did not 
compose it. Nothing in the Gospels bears more indisputably the 
marks of Jesus' teaching. But from the rich store of Palestinian 
tradition Luke sought out those things which displayed sympathy 
for the downtrodden and the sick and the sinful. It was an 
inestimable service to the Church. Shall we heed the message? 
God rejoices at the salvation of a sinner. Shall we be sharers in 
his holy joy? 



In The Library. — Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": Purves 
(edited), article on "Luke." M'Clymont, "The New Testament and 
Its Writers," pp. 27-32. Stevens and Burton, "A Harmony of the 
Gospels." Ellicott, "A New Testament Commentary for English 
Readers," vol. i: Plumptre, "The Gospel According to St. Matthew, 
St. Mark, and St. Luke," pp. 235-365. Zahn, "Introduction to the 
New Testament," vol. iii, pp. 1-173. The last-named work is intended 
primarily for those who have some knowledge of Greek, but can also 
be used by others. 



LESSON XXX 

THE TESTIMONY OF THE BELOVED DISCIPLE 
The Gospel According to John 



1. THE EVANGELIST A WITNESS 

The author of the Fourth Gospel was a great man. He was great, 
however, not as a philosopher or as a religious genius, but as an 
apostle ; not as the originator of great ideas, but as one who received 
the teaching of another. He was great, not as one who created a 
profound theology, but as one who could understand the Lord 
Jesus Christ. The "Johannine theology" is the theology not of 
John but of Jesus. So at least John himself represents it. He 
claims to be not a theologian, but a witness. The value of his book 
depends upon the truth of his witnessing. If the Johannine picture 
of Christ is the creation of the author's genius, it commands admira- 
tion; but only if it is a true picture of the historic Jesus can it offer 
eternal life. 

Is the Jesus of the Fourth Gospel fiction or fact, a splendid 
product of religious genius or a living Saviour? 

Few questions have caused profounder agitation in the modern 
Church. The question cannot be separated from the question of 
authorship. Clearly if the book was written by an intimate friend 
of Jesus, its witness must be true. Who wrote the Fourth Gospel? 
This question is of vital importance. 

2. THE TRADITION 

At the close of the second century — the earliest period from which 
any really abundant Christian literature outside of the New Testa- 
ment has been preserved — the tradition about the authorship of 
the Gospel was practically unanimous. Even the one small and 
uninfluential sect that disagreed practically supports the common 
view, for its denial was evidently based upon objections to the con- 
tents of the Gospel and not at all upon any independent information. 

(1) Irenaeus and Polycarp. — Of the three important writers of the 
close of the second century, all of whom attest the Johannine 
authorship of the Gospel, Irenaeus deserves special mention. 
Irenaeus spent his early life in Asia Minor, but afterwards became 

I6 5 



1 66 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

the leader of the Church in Gaul. Before he left Asia Minor he had 
some very interesting associations. One of them was with Polycarp, 
bishop of Smyrna, who was martyred in A. D. 155. Polycarp 
would be an important figure merely on account of the early period 
in which he lived; but what makes his testimony supremely valuable 
is his personal association with John. Irenaeus himself in his early 
youth, before he had left Asia Minor, had heard Polycarp discoursing 
about the things he had heard John say. Polycarp, then, was a 
personal disciple of John, and Irenaeus was a personal disciple of 
Polycarp. Only one link, therefore, separated Irenaeus from John. 
Moreover, since Irenaeus in his youth had lived in Asia Minor, the 
very place of John's residence, it is natural to believe that what he 
heard Polycarp say about John could be supplemented in other ways. 

Now beyond any reasonable doubt whatever, Irenaeus supposed 
that the John of whom he had heard Polycarp speak was none other 
than John the apostle, the son of Zebedee. If that supposition was 
correct, then the connection between Irenaeus and the apostle John 
was exceedingly close; and when Irenaeus exhibits an absolutely un- 
wavering belief that the Fourth Gospel was written by the apostle, 
it is very unlikely that he was mistaken. He had known one of the 
personal disciples of John; he himself had lived in Asia Minor where 
John had been the well-known leader of the Church, and where the 
Fourth Gospel, no matter who wrote it, was almost certainly pro- 
duced. When, therefore, he asserts, not as something new, but 
as a thing which he had known from the beginning, that the Fourth 
Gospel was written by the apostle John, surely he must be believed. 

This conclusion has been avoided by the hypothesis that the John 
about whom Polycarp spoke was not really, as Irenaeus supposed, 
John the son of Zebedee, but another John, a certain John the 
presbyter, who was not one of the twelve apostles at all. The un- 
naturalness of such an hypothesis appears on the surface. Could 
a native of Asia Minor who had repeatedly heard Polycarp speak- 
about the John in question, and who had many other opportunities 
for acquainting himself with the traditions of the church in Asia 
Minor — could such a man, together with all his contemporaries, 
have come to labor under so egregious a misapprehension? 

(2) Other Attestation. — The testimony of Irenaeus to the Fourth 
Gospel is of particular importance, on account of Irenaeus' connec- 
tion with Polycarp. But it is only one detail in a remarkable 
consensus. When the most widely separated portions of the 
Church before the close of the second century all agreed that the 



THE TESTIMONY OF THE BELOVED DISCIPLE 167 

Fourth Gospel was written by John the son of Zebedee, their com- 
mon belief could not have been of recent origin. Earlier writers, 
moreover, by their use of the Gospel attest at least its early date. 

3. THE TESTIMONY OF THE GOSPEL ITSELF 

The tradition which attributes the Fourth Gospel to John the son 
of Zebedee is confirmed by the testimony of the Gospel itself. Al- 
though the book does not mention the name of its author it clearly 
implies who he was. 

(1) Indirectness of the Testimony. — This testimony of the Gospel 
itself is all the more valuable because it is indirect. If the name 
John had been mentioned at the beginning, then it might con- 
ceivably be supposed that an unknown author had desired to gain 
a hearing for his work by putting it falsely under the name of a great 
apostle. As it is, the inference that the author claims to be John 
the son of Zebedee, though certain, does not force itself upon the 
careless reader. A forger would not thus, by the indirectness of 
his claim, have deprived himself of the benefits of his forgery. 

The testimony of the Gospel to its author must now be considered. 

(2) The Author an Eyewitness. — In the first place, almost at the 
very beginning, we observe that the author claims to be an eye- 
witness of the life of Jesus. "We beheld his glory," he says in John 
1 : 14. By beholding the glory of Christ he evidently does not mean 
merely that experience of Christ's power which is possessed by every 
Christian. On the contrary, the glory of Christ, as it is intended by 
the evangelist, is fully explained by such passages as ch. 2 : 11. 
The miracles of Jesus — palpable, visible events in the external 
world — are clearly included in what is meant. It will be observed 
that in ch. 1 : 14 it is very specifically the incarnate Christ that is 
spoken of. The evangelist is describing the condition of things 
after "the Word became flesh." Evidently, therefore, it was the 
earthly life of Jesus which the evangelist claims to have "beheld." 

This conclusion is confirmed by I John 1 : 1-4. Scarcely anyone 
doubts that the First Epistle of John was written by the man who 
wrote the Gospel. When, therefore, the author of the epistle speaks of 
"that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, 
that which we beheld, and our hands handled, concerning the Word 
of life," evidently these words have significance for the Gospel also. 
The author fairly heaps up expressions to show, beyond all possi- 
bility of misunderstanding, that he had come into actual physical 
contact with the earthly Jesus. 



1 68 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

(3) The Unnamed Disciple of John 1 : 35-42. — The author of the 
Fourth Gospel, then, clearly claims to be an eyewitness of the 
earthly life of Christ. Further indications identify him with a 
particular one among the eyewitnesses. In John 1 : 35-42, an un- 
named disciple of Jesus is mentioned. "One of the two," it is said 
in v. 40, "that heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, 
Simon Peter's brother." Who was the other? There is some reason 
for thinking that he was one of the two sons of Zebedee. But the 
matter will become clearer as we proceed. 

Another question is why this disciple is not mentioned by name. 
The Fourth Gospel is not chary of names. Why, then, is the disciple 
who appears so prominently along with Andrew and Simon not 
mentioned by name? Only one plausible explanation suggests 
itself — the explanation that the unnamed disciple was the author of 
the Gospel, who, through a feeling common in the literature of 
antiquity, as well as of our own time, did not like to mention his own 
name in the course of his narrative. We have already observed that 
the author claims to be an eyewitness of the life of Christ. John 
1 : 14. When, therefore, near the beginning of the narrative a 
disciple of Jesus is introduced, rather mysteriously, without a name, 
when, furthermore, events in which this disciple was immediately 
concerned are narrated with unusual vividness and wealth of 
detail, vs. 35-42, the conclusion becomes very natural that this 
unnamed disciple is none other than the author himself. 

(4) The Beloved Disciple. — This conclusion, it must be admitted, 
so far as this first passage is concerned, is nothing more than a likely 
guess. But by other passages it is rendered almost certain. 

In John 13 : 21-25, a disciple is mentioned as leaning on Jesus' 
breast and as being one whom Jesus loved. This disciple is not 
named. But who was he? Evidently he was one of the twelve 
apostles, for only the apostles were present at the Supper which is 
described in chs. 13 to 17. The disciple "whom Jesus loved," 
however, was not only among the Twelve ; he was evidently among 
the innermost circle of the Twelve. Such an innermost circle 
appears clearly in the Synoptic Gospels. It was composed of Peter 
and James and John. The beloved disciple was probably one of 
these three; and since he is clearly distinguished from Peter, ch. 
13 : 24, he was either James or John. 

The introduction of an unnamed disciple, which seemed significant 
even in John 1 : 35-42, becomes yet far more significant in the 
present passage. In the account of the Last Supper, a considerable 



THE TESTIMONY OF THE BELOVED DISCIPLE 169 

number of the disciples are named — Peter, Judas Iscariot, Thomas, 
Philip, Judas not Iscariot — yet the disciple who is introduced with 
especial emphasis, whose very position at table is described with a 
wealth of detail far greater than is displayed in the case of any of the 
others, is designated merely as "one of his disciples, whom Jesus 
loved." The strange omission of this disciple's name can be ex- 
plained only if he was the author of the book. Clearly the painter 
has here introduced a modest portrait of himself in the midst of his 
great picture. 

Passing by John 18 : 15, 16, where "the other disciple" is probably 
the author, and ch. 19 : 26, 27, where the repetition of the strange 
designation, "the disciple . . . whom he [Jesus] loved," confirms the 
impressions derived from ch. 13 : 21-25, we discover another important 
indication in ch. 19:35. "And he that hath seen hath borne witness, 
and his witness is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye 
also may believe." "He that hath seen" can scarcely refer to anyone 
other than the beloved disciple who was mentioned just before as 
standing by the cross. In the present verse, this beloved disciple 
is represented as the one who is now speaking. The identification of 
the beloved disciple with the author of the Gospel, which was implied 
before, here becomes explicit. 

In John 20 : 1-10, "the other disciple whom Jesus loved" is of 
course the same as the one who appears in ch. 13:21-25; 19:26, 27,35. 

(5) Testimony of the Appendix. — In John 21 : 7, 20-23, the be- 
loved disciple appears again, and in v. 24 he is identified, in so many 
words, with the writer of the Gospel. In this verse the first person 
plural is used ; other persons seem to be associated with the author in 
commending the Gospel to the attention of the Church. This 
phenomenon is explained if the twenty-first chapter be regarded as 
a sort of appendix, perhaps added at the request of a circle of 
friends. It will be observed that ch. 20 : 30, 31 forms a fit ending 
to the book; what follows therefore appears the more like an ap- 
pendix, though it was certainly written by the author's own hand 
and published before his death along with the rest of the book. 

(6) Why Are John and James Not Mentioned by Name? — The con- 
clusion of our investigation is that the author of the Fourth Gospel 
indicates clearly that he was either one or the other of the two sons 
of Zebedee. This conclusion is confirmed by the curious circum- 
stance that neither one of these men is mentioned in the Gospel by 
name. How did they come to be omitted? They were in the very 
innermost circle of Jesus' disciples; many apostles far less prominent 



170 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

than they are named frequently on the pages of the Gospel. There 
can be only one solution of the problem: one at least of these men 
is, as a matter of fact, introduced in the Gospel as the beloved dis- 
ciple, and the reason why he is introduced in such a curiously 
anonymous way and why his brother also is not named, is that the 
author felt a natural delicacy about introducing his own and his 
brother's name into a narrative of the Lord's life. 

One statement that has just been made requires qualification: it 
is not quite true that the sons of Zebedee are not designated by name 
in the Gospel. They are not indeed called by their individual 
names, but in ch. 21 : 2, they are designated by the name of their 
father. Possibly this slight difference of usage between chapter 21 
and the rest of the Gospel has something to do with the fact that 
chapter 21 seems to be an appendix. 

(7) The Author Was Not James, but John. — The author of the 
Fourth Gospel, then, identifies himself with one or the other of the 
sons of Zebedee. As to which one of the two is meant there cannot 
be the slightest doubt. James the son of Zebedee was martyred in 
A. D. 44. Acts 12 : 2. There is abundant evidence that the Fourth 
Gospel was not written so early as that; and John 21 : 20-23 ap- 
parently implies that the author lived to a considerable age. Evi- 
dently, therefore, it is John and not James with whom the author 
identifies himself. 

(8) Is the Gospel's Own Testimony True? — Thus the singularly 
strong tradition which attributes the Fourth Gospel to John the son 
of Zebedee is supported by the independent testimony of the book 
itself. Conceivably, of course, that testimony might be false. But 
it is very hard to believe that it is. It is very hard to believe that 
the author of this wonderful book, who despite all the profundity of 
his ideas exalts in a very special manner the importance of simple 
testimony based upon the senses, John 19 : 35; I John 1 : 1-4, has 
in a manner far subtler and more heinous than if he had simply put 
a false name at the beginning palmed himself off as an eyewitness of 
the Saviour's life. Many learned men have found it possible to 
accept such a view; but the simple reader of the Gospel will always 
be inclined to dissent. The author of this book has narrated many 
things hard to be believed. But there are still found those who 
accept his solemn testimony; there are still found those in whom the 
purpose of the book is achieved, who through this Gospel believe 
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing have life in 
his name. John 20 : 31. 



THE TESTIMONY OF THE BELOVED DISCIPLE 171 

4. TRADITIONAL TIME AND PLACE AND PLAN 

The tradition about the Fourth Gospel is not confined to the bare 
fact of Johannine authorship; it has preserved certain other very 
interesting information. 

(1) The Ephesian Residence. — For example, tradition represents 
the Fourth Gospel as written after the other three Gospels and at 
Ephesus. The evidence for the Ephesian residence of the apostle 
John is singularly abundant and weighty; and the contrary evidence 
which has been thought to attest an early death of John is exceed- 
ingly weak. At first, John, like the others of the original apostles, 
remained in Palestine. He appears in Jerusalem a little before 
A. D. 50 at the Apostolic Council. Gal. 2:9. At some subsequent 
time, perhaps at the outbreak of the Jewish war in A. D. 66, he 
journeyed to Asia Minor and there for many years was the revered 
head of the Church. He lived indeed until the reign of Trajan, 
which began in A. D. 98. 

(2) The Gospel of John Supplementary to the Synoptic Gospels. — 
According to tradition, the Gospel of John was not only written after 
the Synoptic Gospels, but was intended to be supplementary to 
them. This information is amply confirmed by the Gospel itself. 
Evidently John presupposes on the part of his readers a knowledge 
of the Synoptic account. This explains his peculiar choice of material 
— for example, his omission of most of the Galilean ministry, and of 
such events as the baptism and the institution of the Lord's Supper. 
It explains also, for example, a verse like John 3 : 24: "For John was 
not yet cast into prison." The Synoptic Gospels begin their account 
of the ministry of Jesus with what happened after the imprisonment 
of John the Baptist. Mark 1 : 14. Readers of Mark might even 
receive the impression that Jesus had not begun his teaching till 
after that time. John corrects any such impression in ch. 3 : 24. 

If, then, the Gospel of John is intended not to compete with the 
Synoptic Gospels, but to supplement them, in what direction does 
the supplementing move? What is it that John adds to what had 
already been told? Here, again, tradition affords us useful hints. 

Eusebius, in the early part of the fourth century, writes as follows 
(Church History, iii, 24, 7-13, translated by McGiffert, in "Nicene 
and Post-Nicene Fathers," second series, vol. i, p. 153): 

"And when Mark and Luke had already published their Gospels, 
they say that John, who had employed all his time in proclaiming 
the Gospel orally, finally proceeded to write for the following reason. 
The three Gospels already mentioned [Matthew, Mark and Luke] 



173 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

having come into the hands of all and into his own too, they say 
that he accepted them and bore witness to their truthfulness; but 
that there was lacking in them an account of the deeds done by 
Christ at the beginning of his ministry. And this indeed is true. 
For it is evident that the three evangelists recorded only the deeds 
done by the Saviour for one year after the imprisonment of John 
the Baptist, and indicated this in the beginning of their account. 
For Matthew, after the forty days' fast and the temptation which 
followed it, indicates the chronology of his work when he says: 
'Now when he heard that John was delivered up he withdrew from 
Judea into Galilee.' Mark likewise says: 'Now after that John was 
delivered up Jesus came into Galilee.' And Luke, before com- 
mencing his account of the deeds of Jesus, similarly marks the time, 
when he says that Herod, 'adding to all the evil deeds which he had 
done, shut up John in prison.' They say, therefore, that the apostle 
John, being asked to do it for this reason, gave in his Gospel an 
account of the period which had been omitted by the earlier 
evangelists, and of the deeds done by the Saviour during that period ; 
that is, of those which were done before the imprisonment of the 
Baptist. And this is indicated by him, they say, in the following 
words: 'This beginning of miracles did Jesus'; and again when he 
refers to the Baptist, in the midst of the deeds of Jesus, as still 
baptizing in .'Enon near Salim; where he states the matter clearly 
in the words: 'For John was not yet cast into prison.' John ac- 
cordingly, in his Gospel, records the deeds of Christ which were 
performed before the Baptist was cast into prison, but the other 
three evangelists mention the events which happened after that 
time. One who understands this can no longer think that the 
Gospels are at variance with one another, inasmuch as the Gospel 
according to John contains the first acts of Christ, while the others 
give an account of the latter part of his life. And the genealogy of 
our Saviour according to the flesh John quite naturally omitted, 
because it had been already given by Matthew and Luke, and began 
with the doctrine of his divinity, which had, as it were, been re- 
served for him, as their superior, by the divine Spirit." 

According to Eusebius, then, John intended to treat the time 
before the imprisonment of the Baptist as the Synoptists treated 
the time after that event. We have already noted the element of 
truth in this observation. Of course it is not the only observation 
that needs to be made. Much of what John narrates occurred after 
the imprisonment of the Baptist. 



THE TESTLVIONY OF THE BELOVED DISCIPLE 1 73 

According to Clement of Alexandria, of the close of the second 
century, who here reports what had been said by his predecessors in 
Alexandria, John, seeing that "bodily" matters had been treated by 
the Synoptists, supplemented their work by writing a "spiritual" 
Gospel. In this testimony also there is no doubt an element of 
truth. It is true that the Fourth Gospel reproduces certain pro- 
found elements in the teaching of Jesus which in the earlier Gospels 
appear only incidentally. 

The oral tradition which forms the chief basis of the Synoptic 
Gospels was rooted deep in the earliest missionary activity of the 
Church. Especially, perhaps, in the Gospel of Mark, but also in 
Matthew and Luke, we have for the most part those facts about 
Jesus and those elements of his teaching which could appeal at once 
to simple-minded believers or to outsiders. The Gospel of John, on 
the other hand, drawing, like the others, from the rich store of Jesus' 
teaching and Jesus' person, has revealed yet deeper mysteries. In 
this profound book, we have the recollections of a beloved disciple, 
at first understood only imperfectly by the apostle himself, but 
rendered ever clearer by advancing experience, and firmly fixed by 
being often repeated in the author's oral instruction of the Church. 



In The Library. — Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible," article on 
"John" (7): Purves, article on "John, Gospel according to St." M'Cly- 
mont, "The New Testament and Its Writers," pp. 33-40. Stevens and 
Burton, "A Harmony of the Gospels." Westcott, "The Gospel accord- 
ing to St. John: The Authorized Version with Introduction and Notes." 
"The Cambridge Bible for Schools": Plummer, "The Gospel According 
to St. John." Browning, "A Death in the Desert" (vol. iv, pp. 191- 
206 of the Riverside Edition). Zahn, "Introduction to the New Testa- 
ment," vol. iii, pp. 174-355. The last-named work is intended primarily 
for those who have some knowledge of Greek, but can also be used by 
others. 



LESSON XXXI 
THE JESUS OF THE GOSPELS 



It is possible to speak of "the Jesus of the Gospels" only if the 
Gospels are in essential agreement. If the features of the four 
portraits are so different that they never could have been united 
really in the same person, then there is no such thing as a Jesus of 
the Gospels, but only a Jesus of Matthew and a Jesus of Mark and 
a Jesus of Luke and a Jesus of John. 

1. AGREEMENT AMONG THE SYNOPTISTS 

Among the Synoptic Gospels, at any rate, no such difference 
exists. Though every one of these Gospels possesses its own 
characteristics, the peculiarities are almost negligible in comparison 
with the underlying unity. There is certainly such a thing as "the 
Synoptic Jesus." His words and deeds are narrated in each of the 
Gospels in a different selection and in a different style, but the 
characteristic features are everywhere the same. 

2. THE SYNOPTISTS AND JOHN 

With regard to the Fourth Gospel, the matter is not quite so plain. 
The contrast between the Synoptists and John has already been 
noticed. It forces itself upon even the most casual reader. Differ- 
ence, however, is not necessarily contradiction. It may be due to 
a difference in the point of view. Both the Synoptists and John 
give a true picture of Jesus; the same features appear very different 
when viewed from different angles. 

3. DIVINITY AND HUMANITY 

At any rate, if there is a contradiction between the first three 
Gospels and the Gospel of John, the contradiction is by no means 
easy to formulate. It cannot be said, for example, simply that the 
Synoptists present a human Jesus and John a divine Jesus. What- 
ever the differences among the four Gospels, all four agree at least 
in two essential features. All four present Jesus, in the first place 
as a man, and in the second place as something more than a man. 

174 



THE JESUS OF THE GOSPELS 175 

(1) Humanity in the Synoptists. — The former feature is perhaps 
especially clear in the Synoptists. According to the first three 
Gospels, Jesus led a genuine human life from birth to death. As a 
child he grew not only in stature, but also in wisdom. He was 
subject to human parents and to the requirements of the Jewish law. 
Even after the inauguration of his ministry the human conditions of 
his life were not superseded. He was even tempted like other men. 
He grew weary and slept. He suffered hunger and thirst. He 
could rejoice and he could suffer sorrow. He prayed, like other men, 
and worshiped God. He needed strengthening both for body and 
for mind. No mere semblance of a human life is here presented, 
but a genuine man of flesh and blood. 

(2) Humanity in John. — But if the Jesus of the Synoptists is a true 
man, how is it with the Jesus of John? Does the Fourth Gospel 
present merely a heavenly being who walked through the world un- 
touched and unruffled by the sin and misery and weakness that sur- 
rounded him? Only a very superficial reading can produce such an 
impression. The Fourth Gospel indeed lays a supreme emphasis 
upon the majesty of Jesus, upon his "glory" as it was manifested in 
works of power and attested by God himself. But side by side with 
these features of the narrative, as though to prevent a possible mis- 
understanding, the author presents the humanity of Jesus with 
drastic touches that can scarcely be paralleled in the Synoptists 
themselves. It is John who speaks of the weariness of Jesus at the 
well of Samaria, ch. 4:6; of the human affection which he felt for 
Lazarus and Martha and Mary, ch. 11 : 3, 5, 36, and for an individ- 
ual among the disciples, ch. 13 : 23; of his weeping, ch. 11 : 35; and 
indignant groaning, v. 38; and of his deadly thirst. Ch. 19 : 28. As 
clearly as the other evangelists John presents Jesus as a man. 

(3) Divinity in John. — In the second place, all four Gospels, if they 
present Jesus as a man, also present him as something far more than 
a man. With regard to the Gospel of John, of course the matter is 
unmistakable. The very first verse reads: "In the beginning was 
the Word, and the W r ord was with God, and the Word was God." 
Jesus according to John was plainly no product of the world, but 
God come in the flesh. John 1 : 14. The teaching of Jesus himself, 
as it is reported in the Fourth Gospel, is concerned with the relation 
of perfect unity that exists between the Father and the Son. 

(4) Divinity in the Synoptists. — In the Synoptists the supernatural 
character of Jesus is somewhat less on the surface. His teaching, as 
the Synoptists report it, is largely concerned not directly with his 



176 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

own person, but with the kingdom that he came to found. Even 
his Messiahship is often kept in the background; the demons are 
often commanded not to reveal it. 

A closer examination, however, reveals the essential unity be- 
tween the Synoptists and John. If the supernatural character of 
Jesus appears in the Synoptists less plainly on the surface, it is 
really no less pervasive at the center. It does not so often form the 
subject of direct exposition, but it is everywhere presupposed. The 
doing by Jesus of what only God can do, Mark 2:5,7; the sovereign 
way in which he legislates for the kingdom of God, Matt. 5 : 17-48 ; his 
unearthly holiness and complete lack of any consciousness of sin ; the 
boundlessness of his demand for obedience, Luke 9 : 57-62; his ex- 
pected freedom from limitations of time and place, Matt. 28 : 20; 
the absolutely central place which he claims for himself as ruler and 
judge; the substantiation of all his lofty claims by wonderful power 
over the forces of nature — these are only indications chosen almost 
at random of what is really plain upon every page of the Synoptic 
Gospels, that the Jesus who is there described is no mere human 
figure but a divine Saviour of the world. The invitation of Matt. 
11 : 28-30, which is typical of the Synoptic teaching, would have been 
absurd on the lips of anyone but the Son of God. 

Moreover, the divine nature of Jesus is not merely implied in the 
Synoptic Gospels; there are times when it even becomes explicit. 
The relation of perfect mutual knowledge that exists between Jesus 
and the Father, Matt. 11 : 27, reveals a perfect unity of nature. 
The Jesus of the Synoptists, as well as the Jesus of John, might say, 
"I and the Father are one." 

4. THE MANNER OF JESUS' TEACHING 

The Synoptic Gospels, therefore, imply everywhere exactly the 
same Jesus who is more expressly presented in the Gospel of John. 
If, then, there is a contradiction between the Synoptists and John, 
it can be concerned only with the manner of Jesus' teaching. The 
Synoptists as well as John present Jesus as a supernatural person, it 
is said, but unlike John they represent him as keeping his own person 
in the background. 

Even here, however, maturer consideration shows that the 
difference does not amount to anything like contradiction. May 
not the same person have spoken the discourses of the Fourth Gospel 
and also those of the Synoptists? It must be remembered that the 
ministry of Jesus was varied, and that the first three evangelists 



THE JESUS OF THE GOSPELS 1 77 

confine themselves almost exclusively to one phase of it. In the 
public Galilean ministry, which the Synoptists describe, it was 
necessary for Jesus to keep even his Messiahship for a time in the 
background. Publication of it, owing to the false political concep- 
tion which the Jews had of the Messiah's work, would have been 
fatal to Jesus' plan. Here, as so often, the Fourth Gospel explains 
the other three. After the feeding of the five thousand, John tells us, 
the crowd wanted to take Jesus by force and make him a king. 
John 6 : 15. Popularity was dangerous. Jesus could not proclaim 
himself publicly as the Messiah, until by explaining the spiritual 
nature of the kingdom he had prepared the people for the kind of 
Messiah which it was his mission to be. 

Of course, it is difficult for us to understand at every point just 
why Jesus acted as he did. All that we are now maintaining is that 
the considerations just adduced, and others like them, show that it 
is perfectly conceivable that Jesus, before his intimate disciples and 
in Jerusalem and at a special crisis, John, ch. 6, adopted a method of 
teaching which in the greater part of the Galilean ministry he con- 
sidered out of place. There is room in a true narrative of Jesus' life 
both for the Synoptists and for John. 

5. THE COMPREHENSIVENESS OF JESUS 

Jesus was many-sided. He was Lawgiver, he was Teacher, he 
was Healer, he was Ruler, he was Saviour. He was man and he was 
God. The Gospels have presented him in the richness of his mys- 
terious person. Modern historians are less comprehensive. They 
have been offended at the manifoldness of the Gospel picture. They 
have endeavored to reduce Jesus to the level of what they can com- 
prehend. But their effort has been a failure. After the supposed 
contradictions have been removed, greater contradictions remain; 
and the resulting figure is at any rate too small to account for the 
origin of Christianity. The partial Jesus of modern criticism, 
despite his comparative littleness, is a monstrosity; the comprehen- 
sive Jesus of the Gospels, though mysterious, is a self-evidencing and 
life-giving fact. 



In the Library. — Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": Purves, 
article on "Jesus Christ." Warfield, "The Lord of Glory," pp. 125-173. 
Robertson, "Epochs in the Life of Jesus." Stalker, "The Life of Jesus 
Christ." Denney, "Jesus and the Gospel." Andrews, "The Life of 
Our Lord." 

Sea. T. m. 3. 



LESSON XXXII 

A DOCUMENT OF THE JERUSALEM CHURCH 
The Epistle of James 



1. THE CHRISTIANITY OF JAMES 

The Epistle of James has been called the least Christian book in 
the New Testament. Superficially this judgment is true. The 
name of Jesus occurs only twice in the epistle, James 1 : 1 ; 2 : 1, and 
there is no specific reference to his life and death and resurrection. 
A close examination, however, reverses the first impression. 

(1) James and the Synoptic Discourses. — In the first place, the 
ethical teaching of James is permeated by the spirit of Jesus. Even the 
form of the epistle displays a marked affinity for the discourses of the 
Synoptic Gospels, and the affinity in content is even more apparent. 
Many striking parallels could be cited; but what is more convincing 
than such details is the indefinable spirit of the whole. The way in 
which James treats the covetousness, the pride, the heartlessness, 
the formalism, the pettiness and the meanness of his readers, is 
strikingly similar to the way in which his Master dealt with the 
Pharisees. James does not indeed actually cite the words of Jesus; 
but the absence of citations makes the underlying similarity all the 
more significant. The writer of this epistle did not live at a time 
when the knowledge of the words of Jesus was derived from books; 
rather he had himself listened to the Master — even though he was 
not at first a disciple — and was living in a community where the 
impression of Jesus' teaching and Jesus' person was still fresh in the 
memory of those who had known him on earth. 

(2) James and Christian Doctrine. — In the second place, moreover, 
the Christianity of James is religious as well as ethical. Of course 
it could not be like the teaching of Jesus if it were merely ethical ; for 
everything that Jesus taught even about the simplest matters of 
human conduct was determined by the thought of the heavenly 
Father and by the significance of his own person. But by the 
religious character of the Epistle of James even more than this is 
meant. Like all the writers of the New Testament James was well 
aware of the saving significance of Jesus' death and resurrection. 
For him as well as for the others, Jesus was Lord, ch. 1:1, and a 
Lord who was possessed of a heavenly glory. Ch. 2:1. James, as 

178 



A DOCUMENT OF THE JERUSALEM CHURCH 1 79 

well as the others, was waiting for the second coming of Christ. 
Ch. 5:8. He does not directly refer to the saving events that form 
the substance of Christian faith; but he takes them everywhere for 
granted. The word of truth through which the disciples have been 
formed by God, ch. 1 : 18, the implanted word, v. 21, that needs 
ever to be received anew, can hardly be anything else than the 
apostolic gospel as it was proclaimed in the earliest speeches of 
Peter which are recorded in The Acts, and as it found its rich un- 
folding in the teaching of Paul. Just because that gospel in our 
epistle is presupposed, it does not need to be expounded in detail. 
The men to whom James was writing were not lacking in orthodoxy. 
If they had been, he would have set them right, and we should have 
had another exposition of the gospel. As a matter of fact their fault was 
in practice, not in theory ; and it is in the sphere of practice that they 
are met by James. The epistle would be insufficient if it stood alone. 
It does not lay the foundation of Christian faith. But it shows how, 
upon that foundation, may be built not the wood, hay and stubble 
of a wordy orthodoxy, but the gold and silver and precious stones of 
an honest Christian life. 

This epistle, then, might be misleading if taken by itself ; but it be- 
comes salutary if it is understood in its historical connections. Far 
from disparaging Christian doctrine — as the modern Church is 
tempted to suppose — it builds upon doctrine. In that it agrees 
with the whole of the Bible. Christianity, as has been finely said, 
is a life only because it is a doctrine. Only the great saving events 
of the gospel have rendered possible a life like that which is described 
in the Epistle of James. And where the gospel is really accepted with 
heart as well as mind, that life of love will always follow. 

2. DATE AND AUTHENTICITY OF THE EPISTLE 

The view which will be held about the date of the Epistle of James 
will depend very largely upon the interpretation of the passage about 
faith and works. James 2 : 14-26. In that passage, some of the 
same terms appear as are prominent in connection with the great 
Judaistic controversy in which Paul was engaged from the time of 
the Apostolic Council to the time of the third missionary journey. 
Three views have been held with regard to the date of the Epistle 
of James. The epistle may be regarded as written (1) before the 
Judaistic controversy arose, (2) during that controversy or while it 
was still fresh in men's minds, or (3) long after the controversy had 
been settled. 



180 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

(1) The Intermediate Date. — The second of these three views may 
be eliminated first. This intermediate view has the advantage of 
placing the epistle within the lifetime of James. It can treat the 
epistle as authentic. It has furthermore the advantage of explaining 
the coincidences between James 2 : 14-26 and Rom., ch. 4. For if 
the epistle was written at the very close of the lifetime of James — 
say about A. D. 62, or, following Hegesippus, A. D. 66 — the author 
may have become acquainted with the Epistle to the Romans. 

But the difficulties of this view far overbalance the advantages. 
If James was writing with Galatians and Romans before him, then 
apparently in ch. 2 : 24 he intends to contradict those epistles. As 
a matter of fact, however, as is shown in the Student's Text Book, he 
does not really contradict them, but is in perfect harmony with 
them. He has therefore gone out of his way in order to introduce a 
formal contradiction of the great apostle to the Gentiles although 
there is no real contradiction of meaning at all! What could he 
possibly gain by such useless trouble-making? If James really 
wanted to combat Paul's doctrine of justification by faith, he would 
have done so very differently; and if he did not want to combat it, 
he would certainly not have uselessly created the appearance of 
doing so. 

Perhaps, however, James 2 : 14-26 is a refutation not of Paul but 
of a misunderstanding of Paul. This also is very improbable. If 
the passage was a refutation not of Paul but of a misunderstanding 
of Paul, why did James not say so? Why did he not distinguish 
Paul clearly from his misinterpreters? Instead he has indulged use- 
lessly in a formal contradiction of Paul, and has in refutation of a 
misunderstanding of Paul not even used the abundant materials 
which Paul himself could offer! And where was such a misunder- 
standing of Paul possible in Jewish Christian circles of A. D. 62? 

What makes every form of this intermediate dating impossible is 
the total absence from the epistle of any reference to the question of 
the conditions upon which Gentiles were to be received into the 
Church. In A. D. 62 this question had recently been the subject of 
bitter controversy. At that time no one could have touched upon 
the closely related topic of faith and works as James does and yet 
have ignored so completely the controversial question. 

Evidently, therefore, the epistle was written either before the 
Judaistic controversy arose or else long after it was over. 

(2) The Late Date. — The latter view makes the epistle a pseudony- 
mous work — it assumes that an unknown author has here tried to 



A DOCUMENT OF THE JERUSALEM CHURCH 181 

enhance the influence of his work by putting it under the name of the 
first head of the Jerusalem church. This is of itself sufficient to 
refute the late dating. For the procedure of the supposed falsifier 
is quite incomprehensible. He has chosen James as the alleged 
author only because of the lofty position which James held, and yet 
he has designated him in the first verse merely as a simple Christian! 
The procedure of real forgers is very different. 

There are also, however, other objections to the late dating. 
Would any writer in the second century, when the authority of Paul 
was well established, have ventured to introduce such an apparent 
contradiction of Paul as appears in James 2 : 24? In a writer of 
A. D. 150 we should have had formal agreement with Paul and 
material disagreement; in the Epistle of James we have formal dis- 
agreement and material harmony. Apparent contradiction of ex- 
pression combined with perfect unity of thought is a sure sign of 
independence. The Epistle of James has made no use of the 
epistles of Paul. 

Against this conclusion may be urged only the coincidence that 
James and Paul both use the example of Abraham, and cite the same 
verse, Gen. 15 : 6, with regard to him. But it must be remembered 
that to every Jew Abraham offered the most obvious example in all 
the Scriptures. It is possible, too, that the faith and works of 
Abraham had in pre-Christian Jewish circles already been the sub- 
ject of controversy. Furthermore, James does not confine himself 
to Abraham, but introduces Rahab also, who is not mentioned by 
Paul. The coincidence between Paul and James is quite insufficient 
to overbalance the clear evidence of independence. 

(3) The Early Date. — Only one hypothesis, then, suits the facts. 
The Epistle of James was clearly written before the Judaistic con- 
troversy became acute at the time of the Apostolic Council. In the 
second chapter of the epistle, James has used the same terms that 
became prominent in that controversy, but he has used them in 
refuting a practical, not a theoretical, error — an error that is related 
only indirectly to the great subject of Galatians and Romans. 

3. UNDERLYING UNITY OF THE EPISTLE 

At first sight the Epistle of James seems to possess very little 
unity. Topic follows topic often with little apparent connection. 
But the connection between the individual sections is closer than 
appears at first; and the epistle as a whole possesses at least a perfect 
unity of spirit. 



1 82 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

(1) Reality in Religion. — The ruling tone of the epistle, which may 
be detected beneath all the varying exhortations, is a certain manly 
honesty, a certain fierce hatred of all sham and cant and humbug 
and meanness. James is a stern advocate of a practical religion. 

(2) Supremacy of Religion. — It must be noticed, however, that 
the religion of this writer is none the less religious because it is 
practical. James is no advocate of a "gospel of street-cleaning." 
On the contrary he insists with characteristic vehemence upon 
personal piety. The same writer who has been regarded as em- 
phasizing works at the expense of faith, who might be hailed as a 
leader of those who would make religion terminate upon man rather 
than God, who might be thought to disparage everything but 
"social service" — this same writer is one of the most earnest advo- 
cates of prayer. James 1 : 5-8; 4 : 2, 3; 5 : 14-18. This apostle of 
works, this supposed disparager of faith, is almost bitter in his 
denunciation of unbelief! Ch. 1 : 6-8. God, not man, according 
to James, is the author of every perfect gift. V. 17. Prayer is the 
remedy both for bodily and for spiritual ills. Ch. 5 : 14-18. 
James lends no countenance to the modern disparagement of re- 
ligious devotion. The same uncompromising severity with which 
he lashes an inactive religion is also applied just as mercilessly to an 
irreligious activity. Ch. 4 : 13-15. James does not attack religion 
in the interests of reality; he attacks unreality in the interests of 
religion. 

4. CONTENTS OF THE EPISTLE 

The opening of the epistle, like that of the letters contained in 
Acts 15 : 23-29; 23 : 26-30, is constructed according to the regular 
Greek form. 

After the opening, James speaks first of trials or temptations. 
Rightly used they will lead to perfection. If, however, there is 
still imperfection, it can be removed by prayer to God. The im- 
perfection which is here especially in view is an imperfection in 
wisdom. Apparently the readers, like the Pharisees, had laid an 
excessive stress upon knowledge. The true wisdom, says James, can 
be obtained not by human pride, as the readers seem to think, but 
only by prayer. Prayer, however, must be in faith — there must be 
no wavering in it. Pride, indeed, is altogether blameworthy. If 
there is to be boasting, it should certainly be not in earthly wealth 
but in those spiritual blessings which often reverse earthly distinc- 
tions. Returning to the subject of temptations, James insists that 
in their evil they do not come from God, but from the depths of 



A DOCUMENT OF THE JERUSALEM CHURCH 183 

man's own desires. From God comes no evil thing, but every 
perfect gift; and in the gospel God has bestowed upon us his richest 
blessing. 

That gospel must be received with all diligence. It will exclude 
wrath and insincerity. True religion consists not merely in hearing 
but in doing; good examples of the exercise of it are the visitation of 
the fatherless and widows and the preservation of one's own personal 
purity of life. 

Faith in Christ, James continues in similar vein, excludes all 
undue respect of persons. Indeed God in his choice of those who 
should be saved has especially favored the poor. The rich as a 
class are rather the oppressors of the Christians. Surely then the 
Christians should not favor rich men for selfish reasons. The law 
of love will exclude all such unworthy conduct. 

That law of love requires an active life. Faith, if it be true faith, 
leads to works. Away with a miserable faith that is expressed only 
in words! 

Words, indeed, are dangerous. The tongue is a prolific source of 
harm. Evil speech reveals the deep-seated corruption of the heart. 
The readers must be careful, therefore, about seeking the work of a 
teacher. The true wisdom, which fits a man to teach, is not of 
man's acquiring, but comes from God. 

Quarreling — which was produced especially by the inordinate 
ambition among the readers to pose as teachers — must be counter- 
acted by submission to God. 

The constant thought of God excludes all pride in human planning. 
Especially the rich must reflect upon the transitoriness of earthly 
possessions and above all must be sure that their wealth is honestly 
gained. 

Finally, patient waiting for the Lord, the example of the Old 
Testament saints, and the earnest practice of prayer will make 
effective all the exhortations of the epistle. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," 
pp. 123-138. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": Warfield, articles on 
"James" and "James, Epistle of." M'Clymont, "The New Testa- 
ment and Its Writers," pp. 123-129. Knowling, "The Epistle of 
St. James." "The Cambridge Bible for Schools": Plumptre, "The 
General Epistle of St. James." Zahn, "Introduction to the New Testa- 
ment," vol. i, pp. 73-151. The last-named work is intended primarily 
for those who have some knowledge of Greek, but can also be used 
by others. 



LESSON XXXIII 

JESUS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT 

The Epistle to the Hebrews 



1. PAUL NOT THE AUTHOR 

(1) The Tradition. — At Alexandria in the latter part of the second 
century Paul was thought to be the author of the Epistle to the 
Hebrews; but in North Africa a little later Tertullian attributed the 
epistle to Barnabas, and in other portions of the Church the Pauline 
authorship was certainly not accepted. In the west, the Pauline 
authorship was long denied and the inclusion of the epistle in the 
New Testament resisted. At last the Alexandrian view won uni- 
versal acceptance. The Epistle to the Hebrews became an 
accepted part of the New Testament, and was attributed to Paul. 

Clement of Alexandria, who had apparently received the tradition 
of Pauline authorship from Pantsenus, his predecessor, himself 
declares that Hebrews was written by Paul in the "Hebrew" 
(Aramaic) language, and was translated by Luke into Greek. 
The notion of a translation by Luke was based upon no genuine 
historical tradition — Hebrews is certainly an original Greek work — 
but was simply an hypothesis constructed to explain the peculiarities 
of the epistle on the supposition that it was a work of Paul. 

(2) The Value of the Tradition. — The tradition of Pauline author- 
ship is clearly very weak. If Paul had been the author, it is hard to 
see why the memory of the fact should have been lost so generally in 
the Church. No one in the early period had any objection to the 
epistle; on the contrary it was very highly regarded. If, then, it 
had really been written by Paul, the Pauline authorship would have 
been accepted everywhere with avidity. The negative testimony of 
the Roman church is particularly significant. The epistle was 
quoted by Clement of Rome at about A. D. 95; yet at Rome as 
elsewhere in the West the epistle seems never in the early period to 
have been regarded as Pauline. In other words, just where ac- 
quaintance with the epistle can be traced farthest back, the denial 
of Pauline authorship seems to have been most insistent. If 
Clement of Rome had regarded Paul as the author, the history of 
Roman opinion about the epistle would have been very different. 

184 



JESUS— FULFILLMENT OF OLD TESTAMENT 185 

On the other hand, on the supposition that there was originally 
no tradition of Pauline authorship, the subsequent prevalence of 
such a tradition is easily explained. It was due simply to the 
evident apostolic authority of the epistle itself. From the start, He- 
brews was felt to be an authoritative work. Being authoritative, it 
would be collected along with other authoritative works. Since it 
was an epistle, and exhibited a certain Pauline quality of spirit and 
subject, it would naturally be associated with the other works of the 
greatest letter writer of the apostolic age. Being thus included in a 
collection of the Pauline Epistles, and being regarded as of apostolic 
authority, what was more natural than to attribute it to the apostle 
Paul? Such, very possibly, was the origin of the Alexandrian 
tradition. 

This tradition did not win immediate acceptance, because the 
rest of the Church was still aware that the epistle was not written by 
Paul. What led to the final conquest of the Pauline tradition was 
simply the character of the book itself. The question of Pauline 
authorship, in the case of this book, became connected with the 
question of apostolic authority. The Church had to choose between 
rejecting the book altogether, and accepting it as Pauline. When 
she finally adopted the latter alternative, undoubtedly she chose the 
lesser error. It was an error to regard the epistle as the work of 
Paul ; but it would have been a far greater error to exclude it from the 
New Testament. As a matter of fact, though the book was not 
written by Paul, it was written, if not by one of the other apostles, at 
least by an "apostolic man" like Mark or Luke. Scarcely any book 
of the New Testament bears clearer marks of true apostolicity. 

(3) Internal Evidence. — The argument against Pauline authorship 
which is derived from tradition is strongly supported by the contents 
of the epistle itself. In the first place, it is exceedingly doubtful 
whether Paul could have spoken of himself as having had the 
Christian salvation confirmed to him by those who had heard the 
Lord. Heb. 2 : 3. Knowledge of the earthly life of Jesus was 
indeed conveyed to Paul by ordinary word of mouth from the eye- 
witnesses; but the gospel itself, as he insists with vehemence in 
Galatians, was revealed to him directly by Christ. In the second 
place, the style of the epistle is very different from that of Paul, 
being, as we shall see, far more carefully wrought. In the third 
place, the thoughts developed in Hebrews, though undoubtedly they 
are in perfect harmony with the Pauline Epistles, are by no means 
characteristically Pauline. It is a little hard to understand, for 



!86 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

example, how Paul could have written at such length about the law 
without speaking of justification by faith or the reception of Gentiles 
into the Church. This last argument, however, must not be ex- 
aggerated. Undoubtedly Paul would have agreed heartily to 
everything that Hebrews contains. Paul and the author of this 
epistle have developed merely somewhat different sides of the same 
great truth. 

2. WHO WAS THE AUTHOR? 

If Paul did not write the Epistle to the Hebrews, who did write it? 
Prodigious labor has been expended upon this question, but with 
very little result. In ancient times, Barnabas, Luke and Clement 
of Rome, were each regarded as the author. Of these three views 
the first is most probable; the second is exceedingly unlikely; and the 
last is clearly impossible. Whoever wrote the epistle, Clement 
certainly did not. The letter which we possess from his pen is im- 
measurably inferior to the apostolic writings to which Hebrews 
certainly belongs. Clement was a humble reader of Hebrews, not 
the author of it. Luther was inclined to regard Apollos as the 
possible author of Hebrews; and of all the many suggestions that 
have been made, this is perhaps the best. Undoubtedly the cir- 
cumstances and training of Apollos were in a number of respects 
like those which might naturally be attributed to the author of the 
epistle. Apollos was closely associated with Paul, and perhaps at a 
later time with others of the apostles, just as might be expected of 
the author of an apostolic work such as Hebrews. On the other 
hand, like the author of the epistle, he was not an eyewitness of the 
life of Jesus. Compare Heb. 2 : 4. Like the author of the epistle 
he was no doubt acquainted with Timothy. Compare ch. 13 : 23. 
He was an "eloquent" or "learned" man, Acts 18 : 24, who might 
well have produced the splendid rhetoric of the epistle. He was a 
Jew and mighty in the Scriptures, as was also the author of Hebrews. 
He was a native of Alexandria, the university city of the period, and 
the seat of a large Jewish community, where just that combination 
of Greek rhetorical training with Scriptural knowledge which is 
exhibited in the epistle is most naturally to be sought. 

These indications, however, can merely show that Apoflos might 
conceivably have written the epistle ; they do not show that he did 
write it. The authorship of this powerful work will always remain 
uncertain. How little we know, after all, of the abounding life of 
the apostolic Church! 



JESUS— FULFILLMENT OF OLD TESTAMENT 187 

3. WHERE WERE THE READERS? 

In the Student's Text Book, it has been shown that the readers of 
the epistle were probably members of some rather narrowly cir- 
cumscribed community. Where this community was is by no 
means clear. The one indication of place which the epistle contains 
is ambiguous. In ch. 13 : 24 it is said, "They of Italy salute you." 
These words may mean that the author is in Italy and sends greet- 
ings from the Christians of that country, or they may mean that the 
author is outside of Italy and sends greetings from Italian Christians 
who happened to be with him. In the latter case, probably the 
readers were in Italy; for otherwise they would have no special 
interest in the Italian Christians. All that we can say is then that 
the epistle was probably written either from Italy or to Italy. If it 
was written from Italy, then since the readers were Jews, it is natural 
to seek them in Palestine. The Palestinian Christians were "He- 
brews" in the narrower, linguistic sense of the word, as well as in the 
broader, national sense. The ancient heading of the epistle thus 
comes to its full rights. On the other hand the Palestinian hypoth- 
esis faces some rather grave difficulties. If the readers are to be 
sought in Italy, then perhaps they formed a Jewish Christian com- 
munity in Rome or in some other Italian city. The question cannot 
be settled with any certainty. The destination of the epistle is an 
even greater riddle than the authorship. 

4. WHEN WAS THE EPISTLE WRITTEN? 

The Epistle to the Hebrews was certainly written before A. D. 95, 
for at about that time it was quoted by Clement of Rome. The 
mention of Timothy in ch. 13 : 23 perhaps does not carry us much 
farther, for Timothy, who was a grown man at about A. D. 50, 
Acts 16 : 1-3, may have lived till the end of the first century. The 
epistle, however, does not bear any of the marks of late origin. The 
question of date is closely connected with the question whether in 
the epistle the temple at Jerusalem is regarded as still standing. 
This question cannot be settled with certainty. But on the whole the 
continuance of the Levitical ceremonies seems to be assumed in the 
epistle, and at any rate there is no clear reference to their cessation. 
Probably therefore the Epistle to the Hebrews was written before the 
destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70. 

5. HEBREWS A LITERARY WORK 

The Epistle to the Hebrews is a product of conscious literary art. 



1 88 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

The rhetoric of Paul is unconscious; even such passages as the first 
few chapters of First Corinthians or the eighth chapter of Romans 
may have been composed with the utmost rapidity. The author of 
Hebrews probably went differently to work. Such sentences as 
Heb. 1 : 1-4, even in an inspired writer, can only be the result of 
diligent labor. By long practice the writer of Hebrews had acquired 
that feeling for rhythm and balance of phrase, that facility in the 
construction of smooth-flowing periods, which give to his epistle its 
distinctive quality among the New Testament books. Greek 
rhetoric of the Hellenistic age, freed from its hollow artificiality, is 
here laid under contribution for the Saviour's praise. 

The presence of such a book in the New Testament is highly 
salutary. Devout Christians in their enthusiasm for the simplicity 
of the gospel are sometimes in danger of becoming one-sided. They 
are sometimes inclined to confuse simplicity with ugliness, and then 
to prize ugliness for its own sake. It is perfectly true that the 
value of the gospel is quite independent of aesthetic niceties, and that 
the language of the New Testament is for the most part very simple. 
But it is not true that the simplicity of the New Testament has any- 
thing in common with the bad taste of some modern phraseology, 
or that eloquence is of itself evil. The Epistle to the Hebrews 
shows by a noble example that there is such a thing as Christian art. 
The majestic sentences of this ancient masterpiece, with their 
exquisite clearness and liturgic rhythm and uplifting power, have 
contributed inestimably to the Christian conception of the Saviour. 
The art of Hebrews is not art for art's sake, but art for the sake of 
Christ. Literary perfection is here combined with profound 
genuineness and apostolic fervor; art is here ennobled by consecra- 
tion. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," 
pp. 164, 165, 265-267, 286-289. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": 
Purves, article on "Hebrews, Epistle to the." M'Clymont, "The New 
Testament and Its Writers," pp. 1 16-122. Ellicott, "A New Testa- 
ment Commentary for English Readers," vol. iii, pp. 275-348: Moulton, 
"The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebiews." Westcott, "The 
Epistle to the Hebrews." Zahn, "Introduction to the New Testa- 
ment," vol. ii, pp. 293-366. The two last-named works are intended 
primarily for those who have some knowledge of Greek, but can also be 
used by others. 



LESSON XXXIV 

CHRISTIAN FORTITUDE 
The First Epistle of Peter 



1. SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD 

The First Epistle of Peter is the epistle of separaleness. The 
modern Church is in grave clanger of forgetting the distinctiveness 
of her gospel and the glorious isolation of her position. She is too 
often content to be merely one factor in civilization, a means of im- 
proving the world instead of the instrument in creating a new world. 

The first readers of the epistle were subject to a similar danger, 
though it arose from a somewhat different cause. To-day we are 
no longer subject to persecution; but the danger is fundamentally 
the same. The world's friendship may be even more disastrous 
than the world's hatred. The readers of First Peter were tempted 
to relinquish what was distinctive in their faith in order to avoid 
the hostility of their heathen neighbors; we are tempted to do the 
same thing because the superficial respectability of modern life 
has put a gloss of polite convention over the profound differences 
that divide the inner lives of men. We, as well as the first readers 
of the epistle, need to be told that this world is lost in sin, that the 
blood of Christ has ransomed an elect race from the city of de- 
struction, that the high privileges of the Christian calling demand 
spotless purity and unswerving courage. 

(1) The Character of the Persecution. — The character of the 
persecution to which the readers of the epistle were subjected cannot 
be determined with perfect clearness. It is not even certain that 
the Christian profession in itself was regarded officially as a crime. 
Apparently charges of positive misconduct were needed to give 
countenance to the persecutors. I Peter 2 : 12. The Christians 
needed to be warned that there is no heroism in suffering if the 
suffering is the just punishment of misdeeds. Chs. 2 : 20; 4 : 15. 
What particular charges were brought against the Christians it 
is of course difficult to determine. Perhaps they were sometimes 
charged with gross crimes such as murder or theft. But a more 
frequent accusation was probably "hatred of the human race," or 
the like. The Christians were thought to be busybodies. In 

189 



IQO SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

setting the world to rights they seemed to meddle in other people's 
affairs. In claiming to be citizens of a heavenly kingdom, they 
seemed indifferent or hostile to earthly relationships. As subjects 
of the emperor and of his representatives, the Christians were 
thought to be disloyal; as slaves, they seemed disobedient. 

(2) Duties of Earthly Life. — In view of these accusations, Peter 
urges his readers to avoid all improper employment of their 
Christian freedom. Christian freedom does not mean license; 
Christian independence does not mean indifference. There is no 
reason why a good Christian should be a bad citizen, even of a 
heathen state, ch. 2 : 13-17, or an unprofitable servant, even of a 
harsh master, vs. 18-25, or a quarrelsome wife, even of an un- 
converted husband. Ch. 3 : 1-6. On the contrary, Christians 
must approve themselves not only in the spiritual realm, but also 
in the ordinary relationships of this life. 

(3) Application to Modern Conditions. — Here again the lesson is 
important for the present day. Now as always fervent realization 
of the transcendent glory of Christianity tends sometimes to result 
in depreciation of ordinary duties. Men of exceptional piety some- 
times seem to feel that civilization is unworthy of their attention, 
even if it is not actually a work of Satan. Of all such vagaries the 
First Epistle of Peter is the best corrective. Truth is here ad- 
mirably guarded against the error that lurks at its root. The very 
epistle that emphasizes the separateness of the Church from the 
world, that teaches Christian people to look down upon earthly 
affairs from the vantage ground of heaven, is just the epistle that 
inculcates sober and diligent conduct in the various relationships 
of earthly life. In the effort at a higher morality, the simple, 
humble virtues that even the world appreciates should not be 
neglected ; piety should involve no loss of common sense. Now as 
always the Christian should be ready to give a reason for the faith 
that is in him; now as always he should be able to refute the slanders 
of the world; now as always he should commend his Christianity by 
his good citizenship. Only so will the example of Christ be fully 
followed. Jesus was in possession of a transcendent message; but 
he lived the life of a normal man. The Christian, too, is a man 
with a divine mission; but like his Master he must exercise his 
mission in the turmoil of life. He must not be a spoilsport at feasts; 
his is no desert role like John the Baptist's. Christianity has a 
mission from without; but its mission is fulfilled in loving contact 
with the world of men. 



CHRISTIAN FORTITUDE 191 

(4) The Christian's Defense. — The Christians who suffered per- 
secution should first of all, according to Peter, defend themselves 
to the very best of their ability. They should do their best to 
remove dishonor from the name of Christ. They should show the 
baselessness of the accusations which are brought against them. 
Then, if they still suffer, it will be clearly suffering for Christ's 
sake. Such suffering is glorious. It is a test from which faith 
emerges strong and sure, ch. 1 : 7; it is true conformity to the ex- 
ample of Christ. Chs. 2 : 21-24; 3 : 18; 4 : 1, 13. 

2. THE DATE OF THE PERSECUTIONS 

From the persecutions presupposed in First Peter no very certain 
conclusion can be drawn with regard to the date of the epistle. A 
late date has sometimes been inferred from such passages as I 
Peter 4 : 16. Christians were not punished as Christians, it is 
said, until the beginning of the second century, and especially no 
such persecution was carried out in the early period throughout 
the whole empire. Ch. 5 : 9. 

This argument breaks down at a number of points. In the first 
place, as has already been observed, it is by no means clear that 
First Peter presupposes a persecution of the Christians simply as 
Christians. Apparently special charges of immorality were still in 
the foreground, though these charges were often mere pretexts in 
order to secure the punishment of members of the hated sect. 

In the second place, it is not clear exactly when Christians first 
began to be punished as "Christians" by the Roman authorities. 
Undoubtedly the legal basis for such persecution was present as 
soon as Christianity began to be regarded as separate from Judaism. 
Judaism had a legal status; Christianity, strictly speaking, had 
none. 

3. DEPENDENCE AND ORIGINALITY 

First Peter is clearly dependent upon a number of the Pauline 
Epistles, and apparently also upon the Epistle of James. The 
dependence, however, is by no means slavish; the epistle possesses 
marked characteristics of its own. As compared with Paul, for 
example, First Peter is somewhat simpler both in thought and in 
expression. No mere imitator, but a genuine personality, speaks 
to us from the noble simplicity of these pages. 

4. COMPARISON WITH THE SPEECHES OF PETER 

It is interesting to compare this epistle with the early speeches of 
Peter that are recorded in The Acts. Part of the difference — 



192 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

similarities also have been pointed out — no doubt, was due to the 
difference in the persons addressed. In those early speeches, 
Peter was preaching to unconverted Jews, and had to content him- 
self with a few outstanding facts. In the epistle, he was addressing 
Christians, before whom he could lay bare the deep things of the 
faith. Nevertheless, the passing years had brought a change in 
Peter himself. Upon him as upon everyone else the mighty in- 
fluence of Paul made itself felt; and even the revelation which came 
directly to him was progressive. The essence of the gospel was 
present from the beginning; but the rich unfolding of it which appears 
in First Peter was the product of long years spent in an ever- 
widening service. 

5. THE STYLE OF THE EPISTLE 

The style of First Peter, though not at all rhetorical, like that of 
Hebrews, is smooth and graceful. It has often been considered 
strange that a fisherman of Galilee should have been so proficient 
in Greek. But probably we have an exaggerated notion of the 
poverty and roughness of the first disciples of Jesus. Undoubtedly 
they had not enjoyed a rabbinical education; in the technical 
Jewish sense they were "unlearned and ignorant men." Acts 4 : 13. 
Nevertheless, they clearly did not belong at all to the lowest of 
the population; Peter in particular seems to have been possessed 
of considerable property. Furthermore, it must be remembered 
that Greek culture in the first century was making itself felt very 
extensively in Galilee. No doubt Peter could use Greek even 
before he left Galilee, and in the course of his later life his linguistic 
attainments must have been very greatly improved. It is by no 
means impossible that he wrote First Peter entirely without as- 
sistance. 

6. SILVANUS 

In order, however, to account for the linguistic excellence of this 
epistle, and in particular for the striking difference between it and 
Second Peter, a rather attractive hypothesis has been proposed. 
In I Peter 5 : 12, Peter says: "By Silvanus, our faithful brother, as 
I account him, I have written unto you briefly." Undoubtedly 
these words may designate Silvanus merely as the messenger who 
carried the letter to its destination. Compare Acts 15 : 23. It is 
also possible, however, that Peter meant to say that Silvanus had 
written the letter under his direction. In that case the thought 
would be due altogether to Peter; but the form, to some extent 



CHRISTIAN FORTITUDE 193 

at least, would be the work of Silvanus. The hypothesis, of course, 
is only plausible, not necessary. There are other ways of accounting 
for the peculiarities of the epistle. 

In all probability, the Silvanus of First Peter is the same as the 
Silvanus of the Pauline Epistles and the Silas of The Acts. If so, 
his association with Peter is altogether natural ; he was originally 
a member of the Jerusalem church. If, in accordance with the 
hypothesis which has just been mentioned, Silvanus was really 
concerned in the composition of the epistle, the choice of such a 
man for the task was, as has been pointed out by the chief advocate 
of the hypothesis, exceedingly wise. Silvanus, who had been a 
companion of Paul and his associate in founding many of the 
churches of Asia Minor, would be just the man who could find the 
right tone in writing to the churches to which the epistle is ad- 
dressed. 

7. MARK 

The appearance of Mark in I Peter 5 : 13 confirms the strong 
tradition which makes Mark a disciple of Peter and associates him 
with Peter in the production of the Second Gospel. The only two 
individuals whom Peter mentions in his First Epistle were both 
natives of Jerusalem, and both, during part of their lives, companions 
of Paul. The unity of the apostolic Church was preserved not only 
by a unity of spirit, but also by the changing associations of Christian 
workers. 

8. FORTITUDE IN THE MODERN CHURCH 

The First Epistle of Peter has a varied message to the Church of 
to-day. Even in its exhortations to bravery and steadfastness it is 
very much needed. We are not subject to persecution by the state, 
but still there are a thousand circumstances of life in which we need 
to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, casting all our 
anxiety upon him, because he careth for us. Ch. 5 : 6, 7. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," 
pp. 267, 275-282. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": Warfield (supple- 
mented), article on "Peter." M'Clymont, "The New Testament and 
Its Writers," pp. 130-136. Ellicott, "A New Testament Commentary 
for English Readers," vol. iii, pp. 385-436: Mason, "The First Epistle 
of St. Peter." Zahn, "Introduction to the New Testament," vol. ii, 
pp. 134-194. The last-named work is intended primarily for those who 
have some knowledge of Greek, but can also be used by others. 
Sen. t. m. 3. 



LESSON XXXV 



THE CHRISTIAN'S ATTITUDE TOWARD ERROR AND 
IMMORALITY 

The Second Epistle of Peter and the Epistle of Jude 



1. AUTHENTICITY 

The Second Epistle of Peter and the Epistle of Jude are among 
the least known and most seriously questioned parts of the New- 
Testament. Even in ancient times their authenticity was disputed; 
in the third and fourth centuries there were some at least who 
desired to exclude them from the New Testament. These ancient 
doubts have been continued in the modern Church. By very many 
scholars of the present day, Second Peter and Jude are assigned to 
second-century writers who falsely assumed the names of an apostle 
and of a brother of the Lord. 

Against such views as these, a number of arguments might be 
employed. But the strongest argument of all is provided by the 
self-witness of the epistles themselves. Second Peter, in particular, 
not only lays claim to apostolic authorship in the address, but 
is written throughout in the name of an apostle. Either it was really 
written by an apostle or else it was a deliberate fraud. The latter 
alternative is excluded by the epistle itself. Second Peter does not 
look at all like a pseudonymous work, but is a weighty bit of 
writing, full of the sincerest moral earnestness. Both Second 
Peter and Jude ring true, with the genuine apostolic note. 

2. SECOND PETER AND FIRST PETER 

Resemblances have often been pointed out among all three 
divisions of the New Testament material attributed to Peter. 
Second Peter has been shown to resemble not only First Peter, but 
also the speeches of Peter as they are reported in The Acts. Such 
similarities of course point to a common authorship. It cannot be 
denied, however, that differences stand side by side with the 
similarities. In the comparison of the epistles with the speeches, 
such differences are of course not surprising. The total difference 

194 



ATTITUDE TOWARD ERROR AND IMMORALITY 195 

of subject and the wide interval of time provide an amply sufficient 
explanation. But how is it with the difference between Second 
Peter and First Peter? 

(1) Difference of Purpose and Subject. — In the first place, the 
difference may be partly explained by the difference of purpose and 
subject. First Peter is a presentation of the glories of the faith in 
order to encourage Christians under trial and make them feel their 
separateness from the world; Second Peter is a solemn warning 
against dangerous perverters of the life of the Church. 

(2) Difference of Time. — In the second place, a considerable in- 
terval of time may separate the two epistles. Here we find ourselves 
on uncertain ground. On the whole it is perhaps better to put the 
epistles near together at the close of Peter's life. 

(3) Work of Silvanus. — In the third place, recourse may be had 
to the hypothesis, mentioned in the last lesson, which attributes a 
considerable share in the composition of First Peter to Silvanus. 

(4) Conclusion.— Finally, there may be still further possibilities 
of explanation which cannot now be detected. The differences of 
style and of thought between the two epistles of Peter are far from 
sufficient to show diversity of authorship, and it must be remembered 
that similarities are to be balanced against the differences. 

3. VALUE OF SECOND PETER AND JUDE 

Although Second Peter and Jude are not so familiar as most of 
the New Testament, yet even these two brief epistles have entered 
deep into the mind and heart of the Church. 

(1) Expressive Phrases. — Even the inimitably expressive phrases 
and sentences that have been derived from the epistles have pro- 
duced no small enrichment of Christian life. The "exceeding great 
and precious promises," and the "partakers of the divine nature" 
of II Peter 1 : 4, the chain of virtues in vs. 5-7, the "make your 
calling and election sure" of v. 10, the "sure word of prophecy" of 
v. 19, the description of inspired prophecy in vs. 20, 21 — "no 
prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For 
the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy 
men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost"— the 
"vexed his righteous soul" of ch. 2 : 8, the "railing accusation" of 
v. 11; Jude 9, the "stir up your pure minds by way of remem- 
brance" of II Peter 3 : 1, the "not willing that any should perish, but 
that all should come to repentance" of v. 9, the "faith which was 
once delivered unto the saints" of Jude 3, the magnificent dox- 



196 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

ology of vs. 24, 25 — a review of these passages as they appear in 
the King James Version will bring some realization of the profound 
influence which even the most obscure books of the New Testa- 
ment have exerted both upon the English language and upon the 
character of Christian men. 

The influence of Second Peter and Jude, however, is not merely 
the influence of isolated phrases. The epistles as a whole have a 
distinctive message for the Church. That message is twofold. 
It embraces in the first place an emphasis upon authority, and in the 
second place an insistence upon holiness. 

(2) The Emphasis Upon Authority. — The adversaries who are 
combated in Second Peter and Jude were impatient of restraint. 
Apparently they distinguished themselves, as possessing the Spirit, 
from the ordinary Christians, as being merely "natural." Jude 
5, 19; II Peter 2 : 12. They appealed to their own deeper insight, 
instead of listening to what apostles and prophets had to say. In 
reply, Peter and Jude insisted upon the authority of the Old Testa- 
ment prophets, and upon the authority of the apostles, which was 
ultimately the authority of Christ. See especially II Peter 3 : 2. 

A similar insistence upon authority is greatly needed to-day. 
Again men are inclined to appeal to an inward light as justifying 
freedom from ancient restraints; the Christian consciousness is 
being exalted above the Bible. At such a time, renewed attention 
to Second Peter and Jude would be salutary. False notions are 
rife to-day with regard to apostolic authority. They can be cor- 
rected by our epistles. Peter as well as Paul exerts his authority 
not in an ofhcial or coldly ecclesiastical way, but with an inimitable 
brotherliness. The authority of the apostles is the authority of 
good news. Subjection to such authority is perfect freedom. 

The authority which Peter and Jude urge upon their readers is a 
double authority — in the first place the authority of the Old Testa- 
ment, and in the second place the authority of Christ exerted 
through the apostles. For us, however, the two become one. The 
apostles, like the Old Testament prophets, speak to us only through 
the Bible. We need to learn the lesson. A return to the Bible is 
the deepest need of the modern Church. It would mean a return 
to God. 

(3) Insistence Upon Holiness. — The second characteristic of 
Second Peter and Jude is the insistence upon holiness. Religion 
is by no means always connected with goodness. In the Greco- 
Roman world, the two were often entirely separate. Many pagan 



ATTITUDE TOWARD ERROR AND IMMORALITY 197 

cults contained no ethical element whatever. The danger was there- 
fore very great that Christianity might be treated in the same way. 
The early Christians needed to be admonished ever and again that 
their God was a God of righteousness, that no unclean thing could 
stand in his presence. 

Insistence upon holiness is in itself no peculiarity of Second Peter 
and Jude. It runs all through the New Testament. But in these 
epistles it is directed more definitely perhaps than anywhere else 
against the opposite error. The opponents of Peter and Jude did 
not merely drift into immorality; they defended it on theoretical 
grounds. They were making a deliberate effort to reduce Chris- 
tianity to the level of a non-ethical religion. Such theoretical de- 
fense of immorality appears, indeed, in a number of places in the 
apostolic Church. A certain party in Corinth, for example, made 
a wrong use of Christian freedom. But what is more or less in- 
cidental in First Corinthians forms the main subject of Second Peter 
and Jude. Christianity is here insisting upon its thoroughly ethical 
character. 

At first sight the message might seem obsolete to-day. We 
always associate religion with morality; we can hardly understand 
how the two ever could have been separated. It is to be feared, how- 
ever, that the danger is not altogether past. In our thoughts we 
preserve the ethical character of Christianity. But how is it with 
our lives? How is it with our religious observances? Are we not 
constantly in danger of making religion a mere cult, a mere emotional 
excitement, a mere means of gaining earthly or heavenly advan- 
tages, a mere effort to bribe God by our worship? The danger is 
always with us. We need always to remind ourselves that Christian 
faith must work itself out in holy living. 

Peter in his second epistle has provided us with one important 
means to that end. It is the thought of Christ's coming. There can 
be no laxness in moral effort if we remember the judgment seat of 
Christ. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," pp. 
267-270, 282-285. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": Warfield (supple- 
mented), article on "Jude." M'Clymont, "The New Testament and 
Its Writers," pp. 137-143. Ellicott, "A New Testament Commentary 
for English Readers," vol. Ill, pp. 437-463, 505-519: Plummer, "The 
Second Epistle of St. Peter" and "The Epistle of St. Jude." Zahn, 
"Introduction to the New Testament," vol, ii, pp. 194-293. The 
last-named work is intended primarily for those who have some knowl- 
edge of Greek, but can also be used by others. 



LESSON XXXVI 

THE LIFE OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD 

The Epistles of John 



1. AUTHORSHIP OF THE FIRST EPISTLE 

The First Epistle of John does not contain the name of its author. 
According to tradition, however, it was written by the apostle John, 
and tradition is here supported by the characteristics of the epistle 
itself. The author of the epistle was evidently the same as the 
author of the Fourth Gospel. The marked similarity in style can 
be explained in no other way. Even the careless reader observes 
that the style of the Fourth Gospel is very peculiar. Short sen- 
tences are joined to one another with the utmost simplicity; the 
vocabulary is limited, but contains expressions of extraordinary 
richness; the total effect is singularly powerful. These same 
characteristics, though they are so peculiar, appear also in the 
epistle. There is the same simplicity of sentence structure, the 
same use of such terms as "life" and "light" and "love," the same 
indescribable spirit and tone. Yet the epistle is no slavish imita- 
tion of the Gospel — differences stand side by side with the similar- 
ities. These two works are evidently related, not as model and 
copy, but as living productions of the same remarkable personality. 

2. TESTIMONY OF AN EYEWITNESS 

As in the Gospel, so also in the epistle the author presents himself 
clearly as an eyewitness of the life of Jesus, I John 1 : 1-3; 4 : 14; 
as in the Gospel he lays stress upon simple testimony. Even those 
things which have just been noticed as characteristic of his style are 
connected ultimately with the teaching of Jesus. In both Gospel 
and epistle, the beloved disciple has reproduced what he heard in 
Galilee and in Judea, though in both he has made the memory a 
living, spiritual fact. 

3. DESTINATION AND DATE 

The First Epistle of John is perhaps scarcely to be called an epistle 
at all. Practically all the characteristics of a letter are missing. 

198 



THE LIFE OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD 199 

There is no address; there is no greeting at the close; there are no 
personal details. The readers are indeed referred to in the second 
person; but preachers as well as letter-writers say, "you." First 
John is a sort of general address written probably to some extended 
group of churches. 

These churches are probably to be sought in Asia Minor. 
Throughout the epistle the readers are addressed in a fatherly tone. 
See, for example, ch. 2:1. Evidently the writer was well known 
as a sort of patriarch throughout an extended region. Such con- 
ditions prevailed in Asia Minor after the apostle John had begun to 
reside at Ephesus. Trustworthy tradition as well as the New 
Testament informs us of a period in the apostle's life when he had 
outlived all or most of the other apostles and was revered as the 
head of the Asian church. At some time within this period — 
probably nearer the end than the beginning — the First Epistle of 
John was written. 

4. THE FALSE TEACHERS 

The form of error against which the epistle is directed becomes 
clearest, perhaps in ch. 4 : 2, 3. The false teachers had denied that 
Jesus Christ was come in the flesh. This may be interpreted in 
several different ways. 

(1) Docetism.— In the first place, John may mean that the 
opponents simply denied the reality of the earthly life of Jesus. 
Such a form of error is by no means unknown in the history of the 
Church. It is called "Docetism." According to Docetism the 
Son of God did not really live a human life — with human sufferings 
and a human death — but only appeared to do so. 

(2) Cerinthus. — In the second place, the meaning of the passage 
may be that the opponents denied the unity of the person of Jesus 
Christ. Compare ch. 2 : 22. Some persons in the early Church 
supposed that there were two separate persons in the figure that is 
described in the Gospels. A heavenly being, the Christ, it was 
thought, united himself with the man Jesus at the time when the 
dove descended after the baptism. Matt. 3 : 16, 17. Such was 
the view of Cerinthus, who is declared by tradition to have been an 
opponent of the apostle John at Ephesus. It has been suggested, 
therefore, that it was actually Cerinthus, with his disciples, who is 
combated in the First Epistle of John. 

(3) Denial of the Incarnation. — Both Cerinthus and the Docetists 
denied the reality of the incarnation — both denied that the Son of 



200 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

God actually assumed a human nature and lived a complete human 
life. According to Cerinthus and others like him, the Christ stood 
only in somewhat loose relation to the man Jesus. He was united 
with him only late in life, he left him before the crucifixion. On 
this view, it was not the Christ who lay in the manger at Bethlehem, 
it was not the Christ who suffered on the cross. Cerinthus, like the 
Docetists, kept the Son of God out of any close relation to the world 
and to us. 

(4) John's Reply. — Against some such view as one of these, John 
was concerned to establish the reality of the incarnation — the truth 
that "the Word became flesh." In the Gospel, that truth underlies 
the whole of the narrative; in the First Epistle it is directly defended 
against the opposing error. It is defended first of all by an 
appeal to what the writer had seen and heard. "We knew Jesus 
in Palestine," says John in effect, "and we can testify that Jesus 
himself was none other than the Christ, the Son of God." I John, 
1 : 1-4. 

(5) John, the Opponents, and Cerinthus. — The false teachers who 
are combated in the epistle had apparently withdrawn from the 
Church and formed a separate sect. I John 2:19. Their separate- 
ness of mind and heart and life had found expression in open schism. 
Whether they are to be identified with disciples of Cerinthus is at 
least doubtful. False speculation about the person of Christ no 
doubt assumed many forms in the closing years of the first century. 

5. CONNECTION BETWEEN THE SECOND AND THE THIRD 

EPISTLE 

In III John 9, the apostle tells Gaius that he had written "some- 
what unto the church." This letter to the church may have been 
written at some previous time. It is also possible, however, that it 
was written together with the letter to Gaius. The Greek word for 
"I wrote" admits of that interpretation. If that interpretation be 
correct, then John perhaps means to say that although he has written 
a letter to the church he could not in that letter urge the hospitable 
reception of the missionaries. For the present, the influence of 
Diotrephes was too strong. The letter to the church had to be 
concerned with other matters. 

If this view of the letter mentioned in III John 9 be adopted, then 
the Second Epistle of John corresponds to the description. The 
Second Epistle is addressed to a church, and it is written with some 
reserve. If "certain" of the children of "the elect lady" were 



THE LIFE OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD 201 

walking in truth, II John 4, the inference is that others were con- 
ducting themselves very differently. Evidently there was danger 
of false teaching among the readers. Hospitality to men like 
Demetrius and his companions could hardly be expected of such a 
church. If hospitality should be practiced, it was only too likely 
to be hospitality to men of a very different stamp. Vs. 10, 11. 

Possibly, therefore, the Second Epistle of John is actually the 
letter that is referred to in III John 9, a letter to the church of which 
Gaius was a member. This hypothesis is supported by the striking 
formal similarity of the two letters. They are of almost exactly 
the same length; the openings and especially the conclusions, 
II John 12, 13; III John 13, 14, are couched in almost exactly the 
same terms. They look very much like twin epistles, written on 
two sheets of papyrus of the same size. 

Of course the hypothesis is by no means certain. Perhaps the 
letter referred to in III John 9 was a previous letter bespeaking 
hospitality, which had failed of its effect. When the apostle saw, 
from the answer or lack of answer to the previous letter, that the 
church was ill disposed, he had recourse to an individual member of 
it. Even in this case, however, it remains probable that our two 
epistles were written at about the same time. 

6. VALUE OF THE SHORTER EPISTLES 

These last two epistles of John do not deserve the neglect which 
they have sometimes suffered. Despite their brevity — they are 
the shortest books of the New Testament — they are instructive in 
a number ol ways. 

(1) Historical. — It is exceedingly interesting, for example, to 
compare them with the private letters of the same period which 
have recently been discovered in Egypt — see Lesson III, Teacher's 
Manual, in this course. In form, the opening of the Third Epistle 
is very much in the manner of the papyrus letters. Compare, for 
example, with III John 1-4 the following opening of a letter of the 
second century after Christ: "Apion to Epimachus his father and 
lord heartiest greetings. First of all I pray that you are in health 
and continually prosper and fare well with my sister and daughter 
and my brother. I thank the lord Serapis. ..." (The transla- 
tion is that of Professor Milligan. See p. 20 of Teacher's Man- 
ual, Part I, of this course.) The differences, however, are even 
more instructive than the resemblances. What was said in Lesson 
I about the epistles of Paul applies in full measure to the epistles 



202 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

of John. Even the epistolary forms are here modified so as to 
be the vehicle of a new message and a new spirit. 

Furthermore, the two epistles, especially Third John, cast a flood 
of light upon the internal development of the Church. In one 
respect indeed the historical significance of the Third Epistle has 
sometimes been exaggerated. It is not true that we have here the 
emergence of the monarchical episcopate — that is, the preeminence 
of one presbyter, called a "bishop," over his brother presbyters. 
Diotrephes does not appear clearly as a bishop. At about A. D. 
110 in the epistles of Ignatius the episcopate is very prominent; but 
Third John belongs to an earlier period. 

Nevertheless, this concrete picture of the internal affairs of a late 
first-century church is absolutely unique. The period is very 
obscure; these few brief lines illumine it more than pages of narra- 
tive. The traveling preachers of Third John are particularly in- 
teresting. Similar missionaries appear also in the "Didache," a 
sort of church manual which may probably be dated in the early 
part of the second century. In that later period, however, care 
had to be taken lest the hospitality of the churches should be 
abused. "But let every apostle," says the writer — the word 
"apostle" is used in a very broad sense to designate wandering 
preachers — "who comes to you be received as the Lord. He shall 
remain, however, no more than one day, or if necessary two. If 
he remains three days he is a false prophet." Such precautions, we 
may be sure, were not needed in the case of Demetrius and his com- 
panions. 

(2) Practical. — Despite its individual address and private charac- 
ter, the Third Epistle of John is not an ordinary private letter. 
Like all the books of the New Testament, it has a message for the 
entire Church. The devout reader rises from the perusal of it with 
a more steadfast devotion to the truth and a warmer glow of 
Christian love. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," pp. 
272-274, 294-308." Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": Purves (supple- 
mented), article on "John, Epistles of." M'Clymont, "The New Testa- 
ment and Its Writers," pp. 144-149. Ellicott, "A New Testament 
Commentary for English Readers," vol. iii, pp. 467-502: Sinclair, 
"The Epistles of St. John." Westcott, "The Epistles of St. John." 
Zahn, "Introduction to the New Testament," vol. iii, pp. 355-384. 
The two last-named works are intended primarily for those who have 
some knowledge of Greek, but can also be used by others. 



LESSON XXXVII 
THE MESSAGES OF THE LIVING CHRIST 

The Book of Revelation (First Lesson) 



1. THE APOCALYPSE AND THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 

In the Student's Text Book it was maintained that the Apocalypse 
was written by John the son of Zebedee. The strongest objection 
to this view is to be found in the striking difference of language and 
style which exists between the Apocalypse on the one side and the 
Gospel and Epistles of John on the other. The style of the 
Apocalypse is extraordinarily rough; in it the most elementary laws 
of Greek grammar are sometimes disregarded. Such peculiarities 
appear scarcely at all in the Gospel; the language of the. Gospel, 
though simple, is perfectly grammatical. 

This observation has led many scholars to decide that the Gospel 
and the Apocalypse never could have been written by the same 
person; the argument, indeed, was advanced as early as the third 
century by Dionysius of Alexandria. Those who thus deny the 
unity of authorship do not all reject either one book or the other 
as authoritative; some suppose that the John whose name appears 
in the Apocalypse, though not the same as John the son of 
Zebedee, was a genuine prophet. 

The evidence, however, for attributing all the Johannine books to 
the son of Zebedee is exceedingly strong. If the Apocalypse is to be 
attributed to some one else, tradition is very seriously at fault, and 
it is also very difficult to see how another John could have introduced 
himself to the churches of Asia Minor in the way that the author 
does at the beginning and end of the book without distinguishing 
himself from the greater man of the same name who was residing 
at Ephesus at the very same time. The Apocalypse must there- 
fore be assigned to the son of Zebedee unless there is absolutely 
unimpeachable evidence to the contrary. 

Such evidence is not really forthcoming. The difference of style 
between the Apocalypse and the Fourth Gospel is capable of 
explanation. 

(1) Possible Difference of Date. — In the first place, it might be 

203 



204 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

explained by a wide difference of date. If the Apocalypse was 
written at about A. D. 68, then an interval of some twenty-five, 
years or more separates it from the Gospel. Such an interval 
would allow plenty of time for the style of the author to change. 
When the Galilean fisherman first left his home in Palestine, his 
command of the Greek language might conceivably be slight; 
whereas after a long residence in Asia Minor, as leader of a group of 
Greek-speaking churches, the roughness of his style would be re- 
moved. Hence the un-Greek, strongly Hebraistic usages of the 
Apocalypse would in the Gospel naturally give place to a correct, 
though simple style. 

This hypothesis, however, is beset with serious difficulties. It 
is difficult to suppose that the Apocalypse was written before the 
closing decade of the first century. Some passages, it is true, have 
been strongly urged in favor of the early date. Particularly the 
reference to the seven kings in Rev. 17 : 10 has been thought by 
many excellent scholars to be decisive. The reference to the seven 
hills in the preceding verse seems to show that the "beast" repre- 
sents Rome; the seven kings therefore naturally represent Roman 
emperors. The fifth emperor, beginning with Augustus, was Nero. 
If at the time when the book was written five were fallen, one was 
and the other was not yet come, v. 10, the book must apparently 
have been written under Nero's successor. His successor, Galba, 
reigned only a few months: the book was therefore written in A. D. 
68 or 69. Or if the very brief reigns of Galba, Otho and Vitellius 
be not counted, then the book was written between A. D. 69 and 
79, during the reign of Vespasian. 

The passage remains, however, so obscure that it is very doubtful 
whether any one interpretation of it should be allowed to over- 
balance the evidence for the later date. Such evidence is abundant. 
Most weighty of all, perhaps, is the strong tradition which places 
the Apocalypse in the closing years of Domitian. It is hard to 
believe that that tradition is seriously at fault. The condition of 
the Church, moreover, as it is presupposed in the book, is more 
naturally to be sought at A. D. 95 than twenty-five years earlier. 
The persecution, for example, which the writer describes, seems far 
more like the persecution under Domitian than it is like the outbreak 
which was occasioned by the cruelty of Nero. 

(2) The Difference of Subject. — If the later date be accepted, 
then the Gospel and the Apocalypse were written in the same 
period of the apostle's life, and the difference of style cannot be 



THE MESSAGES OF THE LIVING CHRIST 205 

explained by a difference of date. Another explanation, however, 
is sufficient. The difference between the two books may be ex- 
plained by the total difference of subject. The Gospel is a nar- 
rative of Jesus' life, written with abundant opportunity for reflec- 
tion; the Apocalypse is a record of wonderful visions, where stylistic 
nicety would have marred the immediateness of the revelation. 
The very roughness of the Apocalypse is valuable as expressing the 
character of the book. In the Gospel, John brought to bear all his 
power of reflection and of expression; in the Apocalypse, he wrote 
in haste under the overpowering influence of a transcendent 
experience. 

The grammatical irregularities of the Apocalypse, moreover, often 
create the impression that they are intentional. They belonged, 
apparently, to an apocalyptic style which to a certain extent had 
already been formed; they were felt to be suited to the peculiar 
character of the work. 

Finally, it must not be forgotten that side by side with the 
differences of style there are some remarkable similarities. The 
underlying unity of thought and expression points to unity of 
authorship. 

2. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE APOCALYPSE 

(1) A Record of Visions. — In what has just been said, the dominant 
peculiarity of the Apocalypse has already been indicated. The 
Apocalypse is no careful literary composition, pieced together from 
previous works of a similar character. On the contrary, it is a 
record of genuine revelations. Before writing, the seer was "in 
the Spirit." 

(2) Influence of the Old Testament. — Nevertheless, although the 
Apocalypse is a record of visions, and was written consciously under 
the impulsion of the Spirit, it is by no means uninfluenced by previous 
works. To a degree that is perhaps not paralleled by any other 
New Testament book, the Apocalypse is suffused with the language 
and with the imagery of the Old Testament. Though there is not a 
single formal quotation, the Old Testament Scriptures have in- 
fluenced almost every sentence of the book. Particularly the books 
of Ezekiel and Daniel, which, like the Apocalypse, are composed 
largely of the records of visions, have supplied much of the imagery 
of the New Testament work. 

This wide-spread influence of the Old Testament upon the 
Apocalpyse is by no means surprising. The Apocalypse is based 



206 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

upon direct revelation, but direct revelation is not necessarily out 
of relation to everything else. On the contrary, it uses the language 
which its recipients can understand; and part of the language of the 
apostle John was the phraseology and imagery of the Old Testa- 
ment. 

It has already been hinted that works very similar in form to the 
Apocalypse are to be found in the Old Testament. This apocalyptic 
form was continued in a number of Jewish works written after the 
conclusion of the Old Testament canon. Superficially these works 
bear considerable resemblance to the New Testament Apocalypse; 
but closer examination reveals profound differences. The Jewish 
apocalypses appeared under assumed names — the most important 
of them under the name of Enoch — while John is so firmly con- 
vinced of having received genuine revelation that he requires no 
such spurious authority for his work. The similarity between 
our Apocalypse and its extra-canonical Jewish predecessors and con- 
temporaries is a similarity at most of form; in spirit and content the 
difference is incalculable. Unlike these other works, the Apocalypse 
is a genuine prophecy. 

3. THE MESSAGES TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES 

The so-called letters to the seven churches were never intended 
to be circulated separately. From the beginning the letters formed 
part of the Apocalypse, which was addressed to all seven of the 
churches. From the beginning, therefore, each of the letters was 
intended to be read not only by the church whose name it bears, 
but also by all the others. The seven churches, moreover, are 
representative of the Church at large. 

Nevertheless, despite the universal purpose of the letters, they 
are very concrete in the information that they provide about the 
churches in Asia Minor. Like the Second and Third Epistles of 
John they illumine an exceedingly obscure period in the history 
of Christianity. 

(1) The "Angels" of the Churches. — Some details in the letters, 
it is true, are to us obscure. What, for example, is meant by the 
"angels" of the churches to which the several letters are addressed? 
The Greek word translated "angel" may also mean simply "mes- 
senger." Conceivably, it might designate merely a congregational 
officer. Many have supposed that it designates a bishop. In the 
epistles of Ignatius, which were written not very many years after 
the Apocalypse, the term "bishop" is applied to an officer who had 



THE MESSAGES OF THE LIVING CHRIST 207 

supreme authority over a congregation including the presbyters. 
The appearance of these "angels" or "messengers" in the Apocalypse 
has been urged as proof that John as well as Ignatius recognized 
the institution of the episcopacy. 

Surely, however, the matter is more than doubtful. The Greek 
word used, whether it be translated "angel" or "messenger," is a 
very strange designation of a bishop. Moreover, in the rest of the 
Johannine literature there is no recognition of the episcopacy. In 
the Third Epistle of John, for example, even if Diotrephes had set 
himself up as a bishop — which is itself exceedingly doubtful — his 
claim is certainly not accepted by the apostle. 

On the whole, it seems better to regard the "angels" to which the 
seven letters of the Apocalypse are addressed merely as ideal 
representatives of the churches — representatives conceived of 
perhaps as guardian angels. Compare Matt. 18 : 10. 

(2) The Nicolaitans. — Another puzzling question concerns the 
"Nicolaitans" who appear in several of the letters. The name itself 
is obscure. By tradition it is connected with that Nicolaiis of 
Antioch who was one of the seven men appointed in the early days 
of the Jerusalem church to attend to the administration of charity. 
Acts 6 : 5. The tradition may possibly be correct. If it is correct, 
then Nicolaiis, in his later life, had not justified the confidence 
originally reposed in him. 

At the first mention of the Nicolaitans, in the letter to Ephesus, 
Rev. 2 : 6, nothing whatever is said about their tenets. Their 
error, however, was not merely theoretical, but practical, for it was 
their "works" that the Lord is represented as hating. In the letter 
to Pergamum, the Nicolaitans are probably meant in v. 14. Like 
Balaam, they enticed the people of God to idolatry and impurity. 
The form which their idolatry took was the eating of meats offered 
to idols. The question of meats offered to idols was no simple 
matter. In the First Epistle to the Corinthians Paul had per- 
mitted the eating of such meats under certain circumstances, but 
had sternly forbidden it wherever it involved real or supposed 
participation in idolatrous worship. The form in which it was 
favored by the Nicolaitans evidently fell under the latter category. 
In a time of persecution, the temptation to guilty compromise with 
heathenism must have been insidious; and also the low morality of 
the Asian cities threatened ever and again to drag Christian people 
back into the impure life of the world. 

In the letter to Thyatira, also, "the woman Jezebel" is apparently 



208 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

to be connected with the same sect, for the practical faults in 
Thyatira and in Pergamum were identical. Jezebel, the Phoenician 
wife of Ahab, was, like Balaam, a striking Old Testament example 
of one who led Israel into sin. It is significant that the woman 
Jezebel in Thyatira called herself a prophetess. Rev. 2 : 20. This 
circumstance seems to indicate that the Nicolaitans had excused 
their moral laxness by an appeal to special revelations. The im- 
pression is confirmed by v. 24. Apparently the Nicolaitans had 
boasted of their knowledge of the "deep things," and had despised 
the simple Christians who contented themselves with a holy life. 
At any rate, whatever particular justification the Nicolaitans 
advanced for their immoral life, they could not deceive the all- 
searching eye of Christ. Their "deep things" were deep things, 
not of God, but of Satan! 

Who is meant by "the woman Jezebel"? Some interpreters, who 
suppose that the "angel" of the church was the bishop, regard 
Jezebel as a designation of the bishop's wife. This whole inter- 
pretation is, however, beset with serious difficulty. Perhaps "the 
woman Jezebel" does not refer to an individual at all, but is simply 
a figurative designation of the Nicolaitan sect. The description of 
the coming retribution in vs. 21-23 seems to be highly figurative. 

It will be observed that the sin of the churches at Pergamum and 
Thyatira was not limited to those who actually accepted the 
Nicolaitan teaching. Even to endure the presence of the guilty 
sect was the object of the Lord's rebuke. Toward the works of the 
Nicolaitans only hatred was in place. Rev. 2 : 6. That is a 
solemn lesson for modern indifferentism. Tolerance is good; but 
there are times when it is a deadly sin. 



In the Library. — Purves, "Christianity in the Apostolic Age," 
pp. 274, 308-312. Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": Purves (supple- 
mented), article on "Revelation." M'Clymont, "The New Testament 
and Its Writers," pp. 150-155. Milligan, "Lectures on the Apocalypse" 
and "Discussions on the Apocalypse." Ellicott, "A New Testament 
Commentary for English Readers," vol. iii, pp. 523-641: Carpenter, 
"The Revelation of St. John." Ramsay, "The Letters to the Seven 
Churches of Asia." Plumptre, "A Popular Exposition of the Epistles 
to the Seven Churches of Asia." Swete, "The Apocalypse of St. 
John." Zahn, "Introduction to the New Testament," vol. iii, pp. 
384-449. The two last-named works are intended primarily for those 
who have some knowledge of Greek, but can also be used by others. 



LESSON XXXVIII 

A VISION OF THE FINAL TRIUMPH 

The Book of Revelation (Second Lesson) 



1. THE INTERPRETATIONS OF THE APOCALYPSE 

The interpretations of the Apocalypse may be divided into 
four classes. 

(1) Unfulfilled Prophecies. — According to one method of inter- 
pretation, the prophecies of the book are all unfulfilled. In the 
last days there will be a mighty revival of evil like that which is 
symbolized by the dragon and the beast and the false prophet, there 
will be plagues and woes like those which are described in connec- 
tion with the seals and the trumpets and the bowls, and there will 
be a triumph of God's people and an eternal blessedness of the new 
Jerusalem. This interpretation would place the Apocalypse out of 
analogy with the other prophecies of the Bible. Prophecy is seldom 
out of all connection with the immediate present. Even where the 
prophetic vision reaches to the very end of time, the fulfillment or 
the preparation for the fulfillment is usually represented as begin- 
ning at once. In the Apocalypse, as in other prophecy, there is 
evident reference to the circumstances of the original readers. 

(2) Contemporary Events. — A second method of interpretation 
goes to an opposite extreme. By this method the prophecies of the 
book are thought to be concerned merely with events of the writer's 
own age. "The beast" is the Roman Empire; "Babylon" is the 
city of Rome; the author expected the destruction of both to take 
place within a few years' time. In its thoroughgoing form this 
interpretation also is to be rejected. It degrades the Apocalypse 
to the level of a mistaken prediction, and reduces the self-evidencing 
glories of the book to trivialities. Evidently the outlook of the seer 
was far broader and far more spiritual than it is represented by the 
advocates of this interpretation. 

(3) The Whole History of the Church. — By a third method of 
interpretation, the first two methods are combined. The book is 
written distinctly in view of conditions of the first century, its 
predictions concern partly the immediate future; but there is also 

Sen. T. m. 3. 200 



210 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

an outlook upon remoter ages. By this interpretation the proph- 
ecies are held to provide an epitome of the whole of history from 
the first coming of Christ to his second coming. 

(4) Mixture of Discordant Traditions. — A fourth method of in- 
terpretation, which has become influential in very recent years, 
abandons all hope of discovering a unitary message in the book, and 
proceeds to divide it into its component parts. The analysis was 
carried on first by literary criticism. An older work of the time of 
Nero was supposed to have been revised at a later period; or non- 
Christian Jewish works were supposed to have been incorporated 
in the present work by a Christian compiler. This sort of literary 
criticism has in the last few years given place sometimes to a subtler 
method. Investigation is now directed to the materials of which 
the book is composed, whether those materials were embodied in 
previous literary works or only in previous traditions. The ulti- 
mate source of much of the material is found in Babylonia or other 
eastern countries; this material is thought to be not always in accord 
with the context into which in our Apocalypse it has been introduced. 

This method must emphatically be rejected. It contains, indeed, 
an element of truth. Undoubtedly the Apocalypse makes use of 
already-existing materials. But these materials are, for the most 
part at least, of genuinely Hebrew origin; and they have been 
thoroughly assimilated for the purposes of the present prophecy. 
The Apocalypse is not a compilation full of contradictions, but a 
unitary work, with one great message for the Church. 

(5) Wrong Use of the Third Method. — Of these four methods of 
interpretation the third has been adopted in the Student's Text 
Book. The prophecies of the Apocalypse concern the entire history 
of the Church. Undoubtedly this interpretation is subject to 
abuse. It has been employed in the interests of special con- 
troversy, as when the Protestants saw in the scarlet woman a 
representation of papal Rome. 

(6) Principles, Not Individual Facts. — All such abuses may be 
avoided, however, if the interpreter will remember that the book 
deals with great principles, rather than with individual facts. 
The beast is neither the Roman Catholic Church, nor the religion 
of Mohammed, nor the Turkish Empire. Undoubtedly it expressed 
itself in some phases of each of those institutions. But no one of 
them can be identified with it outright. The beast of the Apocalypse 
is nothing less than the blatant, godless power of worldly empire, 
however that power may be manifested. At the time of John it 



A VISION OF THE FINAL TRIUMPH 211 

was manifested especially in the empire of Rome. Even Rome, 
however, cannot be identified with the beast entirely without 
qualification. Even Rome had its beneficent side. John as well 
as Paul, even in the fire of persecution, might have expressed the 
thought of Rom. 13 : 1-7. Peter also wrote in the midst of per- 
secution; yet Peter could say, "Be subject to every ordinance of 
man for the Lord's sake: whether to the king, as supreme; or unto 
governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evil-doers and for praise 
to them that do well." I Peter 2 : 13, 14. 

The other side of Rome's power, it is true, was prominent at the 
close of the first century. More systematically than before, Rome 
had begun to persecute the Church of God. By the demand of 
emperor-worship she had tried to put her stamp upon the followers 
of Jesus. Through her priesthood she had endeavored to lead men 
astray. In these things she was a manifestation of the beast. As 
such she was execrated and resisted to the death by every loyal 
Christian. There could be no hope of compromise. Hope lay 
rather in the power of God. God would give the just reward; God 
would give the final victory. Such was the message of the 
Apocalypse. 

The message is of perennial value. The beast is not yet dead. 
His methods are different, but still he oppresses the Church. 
Wherever his power is felt — whether in ruthless oppression or 
impious warfare or degrading superstition — there the prophecy of 
John is a comfort and an inspiration to the people of God. 

Undoubtedly this method of interpretation, which detects in the 
book principles rather than individual facts, involves a reduction 
in the amount of direct information which the Apocalypse may be 
thought to give. A detailed account, whether of the progress of the 
Church, or of the final catastrophe, is by this interpretation no 
longer found in the book. 

2. THE THOUSAND YEARS 

At one point at least, this conclusion has been regarded by many 
devout Christians as involving a serious loss. That point is con- 
cerned with the thousand years of Rev. 20 : 1-8. According to the 
interpretation that has just been advocated, the thousand years are 
merely a symbol for the time of the present Christian dispensation, 
and the rule which the saints are represented as bearing with Christ 
probably refers to the condition of the blessed dead up to the final 
resurrection. To many devout readers of the Bible this interpreta- 



212 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

tion seems to be an impoverishment of the prophet's words. In 
reality, they maintain, the passage predicts a return of Jesus to 
earth before the final judgment, and a long period of his blessed sway. 
Undoubtedly this more literal interpretation of the millennium 
seems at first sight to be required by certain phrases of the passage. 
But the highly figurative character of apocalyptic language must 
always be borne in mind. Numbers, in the Apocalypse, are usually 
symbolic; so it may be with the thousand years. During the 
present dispensation Satan is in one sense bound, and in another 
sense he is free. In principle he has been conquered; but in the 
sphere of worldly power he continues to work his wrathful will. 

3. THE CHRISTIAN HOPE 

One thing at least is clear. No interpretation of the Apocalypse 
is correct if it fails to do justice to the hope of Christ's return. If 
the figurative interpretation weakens our expectation of that dread 
meeting with the Lord, then it is untrue to the mind of the Spirit. 
There are difficulties connected with the idea of a literal millennium; 
but such difficulties are inconsiderable in comparison with those 
that result from any rationalizing, any explaining away, of the 
universal Christian hope. The Apocalypse, according to any 
right interpretation, is a vision of final triumph. 

That triumph is a triumph of Christ. Back of all the lurid 
imagery of the book, back of the battles and the woes, and back of 
the glories of God's people, stands the figure of the Saviour. With 
him the book began, and with him, too, it ends. He is the same 
who lived the life of mercy and of glory on earth, the same who died 
for our sins on the cross. To the Lamb all power is given — all 
power in heaven and on earth. By him all enemies are conquered; 
by him the whole earth will be judged. To those who bear the 
mark of the beast he is an Avenger; to his Church he is an ever- 
living Saviour. 



In the Library. — The reading suggested under Lesson XXXVII 
is intended for both of the lessons on the Apocalypse. 



LESSON XXXIX 
REVIEW 



This review lesson is fully as important as any other lesson of the 
first three quarters. Without reviewing, the study of history is 
unproductive; only a review can make of the facts a permanent 
possession. The story of the apostolic age, as it is narrated in the 
work of Luke, is really very simple; it becomes confusing only when 
it is imperfectly mastered. A little time spent in turning over the 
pages of the Lucan narrative, or even of the Student's Text Book, 
will accomplish wonders. 

1. UNANSWERED QUESTIONS 

The New Testament account of the apostolic age is indeed only 
fragmentary. Many questions must be left unanswered. Of the 
original twelve apostles only Peter and the sons of Zebedee and Judas 
Iscariot receive in The Acts anything more than a bare mention; 
and even the most prominent of these disappears after the fifteenth 
chapter. What did Paul do in Arabia and in Tarsus? What was 
the origin of the great church at Alexandria? Who founded the 
church at Rome? These questions, and many like them, must 
forever remain unanswered. 

If, moreover, even the period covered by The Acts is obscure, far 
deeper is the darkness after the guiding hand of Luke has been 
withdrawn. For the death of the apostle Paul, there is only a 
meager tradition; the latter years of Peter are even more obscure. 
For the important period between the release of Paul after his first 
Roman imprisonment and the death of the apostle John at about 
the end of the first century, anything like a connected narrative is 
quite impossible. 

2. THE NERONIAN PERSECUTION 

A few facts, however, may still be established. The Roman 
historian Tacitus tells of a persecution of the Christians at Rome at 
the time of the burning of the city in A. D. 64. The emperor Nero, 
suspected of starting the fire, sought to remove suspicion from him- 
self by accusing the Christians. The latter had already become 

Sen. T. III. 3. 213 



214 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

unpopular because of their peculiar ways, and were thought to be 
guilty of abominable crimes; but the cruelty of Nero almost exceeded 
the wishes of the populace. The Christians were put to death under 
horrible tortures. Many were burned, and their burning bodies 
served as torches to illumine the emperor's gardens. 

The beheading of Paul has often been brought into connection 
with this persecution, but more probably it occurred a few years 
later. Paul had been released from his first imprisonment, and his 
second imprisonment, at the time of the Neronian outbreak, had 
not yet begun. 

The extent of the Neronian persecution cannot be determined 
with certainty. Probably, however, although there was no syste- 
matic persecution throughout the empire, the provinces would not 
be altogether unaffected by what was happening at Rome. The 
causes of popular and official disfavor were always present; it re- 
quired only a slight occasion to bring them actively into play. 

3. THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM 

Even more important than the Roman persecution of A. D. 64 
was the destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70. At the outbreak of 
the war which culminated in that catastrophe, the Jerusalem 
Christians took refuge in Pella, east of the Jordan; Jerusalem ceased 
to be the center of the Christian Church. After the war, the 
Jerusalem church never regained its old position of leadership; and 
specifically Jewish Christianity, suffering by the destruction of the 
national Jewish life, ceased to be influential in Christian history. 

4. THE PROGRESS OF THE GOSPEL 

From the years between the destruction of Jerusalem and the 
closing years of the century, scarcely any definite incidents can be 
enumerated. Undoubtedly the missionary activity of the Church 
was continuing; the gospel was making rapid progress in its conquest 
of the empire. In this missionary activity probably many of the 
twelve apostles were engaged; but details of their work are 
narrated for the most part only in late tradition. 

5. JOHN AT EPHESUS 

At some time — whether before or after A. D. 70 is uncertain — the 
apostle John went to Ephesus, and there became the leader of the 
Asian church. Detailed information about his position and the 
churches under his care is provided not only in trustworthy tradi- 

Sen. T. m. 3. 



REVIEW 215 

tion — especially that which comes through Irenaeus from Poly carp, 
the hearer of John— but also in the writings of John himself. The 
two shorter epistles of John, though each embraces only a small page, 
are extraordinarily rich in information about congregational matters, 
and even more instructive are the seven messages of the Apocalypse. 
By means of the latter the moral condition of the church in Asia 
Minor is characterized with a vividness that is scarcely to be 
paralleled for any other period of the apostolic age. 

6. THE PERSECUTION UNDER DOMITIAN 

During the latter part of the residence of John in Asia Minor 
there was an important event in the history of the Church. This 
was the outbreak of the persecution under Domitian — a persecution 
which apparently exceeded in extent, if not in severity, every per- 
secution that had preceded it. Under Domitian the Roman 
authorities became definitely hostile; apostasy from Christ was 
apparently demanded systematically of the Christians— apostasy 
from Christ and adhesion to the imperial cult. The latter, in the 
Apocalypse, is represented as an example of the mark of "the 
beast"; the Roman Empire, as would have been unnatural in the 
days of Paul, appears in that book as an incorporation of Satanic 
power. The long conflict between the Church and the empire had 
at last begun. Which side would be victorious? In the Apocalypse 
the answer is plain. The Lord himself was fighting for his Church! 

7. THE NEW TESTAMENT GOSPEL 

Our knowledge of the apostolic age, though fragmentary, is 
sufficient — sufficient not indeed for a complete history, but for the 
requirements of Christian faith. The information provided in the 
New Testament makes up in quality for what it lacks in quantity. 
Its extraordinary vividness and concreteness possesses a self- 
evidencing value. The life of the apostle Paul — revealed with 
unmistakable fidelity — is itself a sufficient bulwark against historical 
skepticism; it involves inevitably the supernatural Christ. The 
gospel is no aspiration in the hearts of dreamers; it is a real entrance 
of divine power into the troubled battle field of human history. 
God was working in the apostolic Church, God is speaking in the 
New Testament — there is the summation of our study. 



Sen. t. m. 3. 



PART IV I 



The Apostolic Church and the 
Church of To-Day 



LESSON XL 
THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD 



The apostolic Church, as was observed in the Student's Text 
Book, found itself from the beginning in the midst of an environ- 
ment more or less actively hostile. If we had been in Jerusalem at 
about the year 30, we should have observed a small group of dis- 
ciples of Jesus, outwardly conforming to Jewish customs, but 
inwardly quite different from their countrymen. In Corinth and 
in other pagan cities of the Greco-Roman world, the contrast be- 
tween the Church and its environment was even more striking; 
these cities were sunk in superstition and vice; the Church was 
leading, in the eyes of the world, a very peculiar life. 

The presence of a common enemy led in the apostolic age to a 
closer union among the Christians themselves, and so it will always 
be. When Christian people realize the power of the enemy against 
whom they are all fighting, then they will have no time to fight 
among themselves. The Christian life is a warfare against sin — 
sin in a thousand deadly forms. In such a warfare, if we are to be 
good soldiers, we must all stand shoulder to shoulder. 

The apostolic Church was waging an audacious warfare against 
the intrenched forces of heathenism and sin. Fortunately it had a 
Leader; and by that Leader alone it won the victory. The Leader 
was Christ. The primary relation of the soldier is the relation to 
the commander; the relation of the individual soldiers to one an- 
other is dependent upon that. So we shall study to-day the lord- 
ship of Christ; by that study, the work of the whole quarter will be 
introduced. 

1. TERMS DESCRIPTIVE OF DISCIPLESHIP 

The lordship of Christ may profitably be studied by an examina- 
tion of some of the various names which in the New Testament are 
applied to the Church and its individual members. The individual 
titles should be studied first. After all, the Church exists for the 
individual believer rather than the individual believer for the 
Church. The primary relation is the relation between Christ and 
the individual soul. Brotherhood comes only through the union 
of individuals with a common Lord. 

219 



220 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

(l) "Christians." — Probably the first title that occurs to us to- 
day to designate the individual members of the Church is the title 
"Christian"; yet as a matter of fact that title appears only three 
times in the New Testament, and then only as it was taken from 
the lips of unbelievers. In accordance with the explicit testimony 
of Acts 11 : 26, the name was given for the first time at Antioch; 
it had no place, therefore, in the early Jerusalem church. A 
moment's thought will reveal the reason. The name "Christians" 
would have meant to a Jew adherents of the "Christ," or the 
"Messiah." Obviously no Jew would have applied such a name 
specifically to the disciples of Jesus; for all the Jews, in one sense 
or another, were adherents of the Messiah. The Jews were 
adherents of him by way of anticipation; the disciples thought 
he had already appeared; but all earnest Jews alike would have 
rejoiced to be called by his name. 

Evidently the name was applied in Antioch by the pagan popu- 
lation. The Church had become so clearly separate from Judaism 
that a separate name for it was required. The name "Christian" 
suggested itself very naturally. "Jesus Christ" was forever on the 
lips of these strange enthusiasts! "The Christ" was indeed also 
spoken of by the Jews, but only careful observers would necessarily 
be aware of the fact. The Messianic hope was an internal concern 
of the synagogues, with which outsiders would usually have little 
to do. The new sect, on the other hand, brought the title 
"Christ" out from its seclusion; "Christ" to these enthusiasts 
was something more than a title, it was becoming almost a proper 
name; like "Jesus," it was a designation of the Founder of the sect, 
and accordingly the adjective derived from it could be used to 
designate the sect itself. 

In Acts 26 : 28, the name appears as used by Agrippa; in I Peter 
4 : 16, also, it is evidently taken from the lips of the opponents of 
the faith. The Christians, however, Peter implies, need not be 
ashamed of the name which has been fastened upon them. Rather 
let them strive to be worthy of it! It is the highest honor to be 
called by the name of Christ; and if they are true "Christians," 
their confession will redound to the glory of God. 

In modern times, the name is often misapplied; the use of it is 
broadened and weakened. Nations are declared to be Christian 
although only a very small percentage of their citizens really deserve 
the name; teaching is called Christian though it is only similar in 
some respects to the teaching of Christ. Such a use of terms 



THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD 221 

should be avoided wherever possible; the original poignancy of the 
designation should be restored. Properly speaking, "Christian" 
means not "like Christ" but "subject to Christ." A Christian 
is not one who admires Christ or is impressed with Christ's teach- 
ing or tries to imitate Christ, but one to whom Christ is Saviour 
and Lord. 

Are we willing to be known as "Christians" in that sense? At 
the time of First Peter, it would have been a serious question; an 
affirmative answer would have meant persecution and perhaps 
death. But it is also a serious question to-day. Confession of 
Christ involves solemn responsibilities; dishonor to the "Chris- 
tian" means dishonor to Christ; the unworthy servant is a dishonor 
to his Master. But let us not fear; Christ is Helper as well as Lord. 

(2) "Disciples." — The earliest designation of the [followers of 
Jesus was "disciples" or "learners"; during the earthly ministry 
perhaps scarcely any other designation was commonly used. 
Jesus appeared at first as a teacher; the form of his work was some- 
what like that of other teachers of the Jews. Nevertheless, although 
he was a teacher from the beginning, he was also from the be- 
ginning something more. He had not only authority, but also 
power; he was not only Teacher, but also Saviour. His followers 
were not merely instructed, but were received into fellowship; and 
that fellowship made of them new men. "Disciples" in the Gospels 
is more than "learners" or "students"; it is a fine, warm, rich word; 
the Teacher was also Friend and Lord. 

The same term was continued in the early Palestinian Church, 
and the resurrection had brought an incalculable enrichment of its 
meaning. The "disciples" were not merely those who remembered 
the words of Jesus, but those who had been redeemed by his blood 
and were living now in the power of his Holy Spirit. If we use the 
term, let it be in the same lofty sense. Let us be learners, indeed; 
let us hear the words of Jesus, as they are recorded in the Gospels; 
but let us hear them not from a dead teacher, but ever anew from 
the living Lord. 

(3) "Saints." — A third designation is "saints." This term is 
used as a title of the Christians in Acts 9 : 13, 32, 41; 26 : 10, and 
frequently in the epistles of Paul and in the Apocalypse. Its use 
in the New Testament is very different from some uses of it that 
appeared at a later time. The Roman Catholics, for example, 
employ the term as a title of honor for a number of persons carefully 
limited by the Church; Protestants often designate by it persons 



222 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS; 

of exceptional purity or goodness. In the New Testament, on the 
contrary, the title "saints" is clearly applied to all Christians. 

In the original Greek the word is exactly the same as a word 
meaning "holy"; it is simply the adjective "holy" used as a noun. 
"Saints," therefore, really means "holy persons." Unfortunately, 
however, the word "holy," as well as the word "saint"' has under- 
gone modifications of usage. "Holy," in the Bible, is not sim- 
ply another word for "good" or "righteous," but expresses a some- 
what different idea. It has the idea of "sacred" or "separate" — ■ 
separate from the world. God is holy not merely because he is 
good, but because he is separate. Undoubtedly his goodness is 
one attribute — perhaps the chief attribute — that constitutes the 
separateness ; but other attributes also have their place. His 
omnipotence and his infinitude, as well as his goodness, make 
him "holy." 

The word "holy" or "saint" as applied to Christians has funda- 
mentally the same meaning. Believers are "holy" because they 
are in communion with the holy God and therefore separate from 
the world. Undoubtedly the most obvious element in their sepa- 
rateness is their goodness; the moral implications of the term 
"holy" are sometimes so prominent that the specific meaning of 
the word seems obscured. But that specific meaning is probably 
never altogether lost. Christians are called "saints" because they 
are citizens, not of the present evil world, but of a heavenly 
kingdom. 

The familiar word, thus interpreted, has a startling lesson for the 
modern Church. Can modern Christians be called "saints," in 
the New Testament sense? Are we really separate from the world? 
Are we really "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy 
nation, a peculiar people" (A. V.)? Do we really feel ourselves to 
be strangers and pilgrims in the earth? Or are we rather salt that 
has lost its savor? Have we become merged in the life of the world? 

(4) "Brethren." — A fourth designation is concerned, not with the 
relation of the believer to Christ or to the world, but with the 
relation of believers among themselves. That designation is 
"brethren." It is a very simple word; it requires little explanation; 
the rich meaning of it will be unfolded in the whole of this quarter's 
study. 

(5) "Church." — After studying the New Testament terms that 
denote the disciples of Jesus individually, it will now be well to turn 
for a moment to the chief designation of the body of disciples con- 



THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD 223 

sidered as a unit. That designation is "church," or in the Greek 
form, "ecclesia." 

The word "ecclesia" is in itself a very simple term indeed. It is 
derived from the verb "call" and the preposition "out." An 
"ecclesia" is a body of persons called out from their houses to a 
common meeting place, in short it is simply an "assembly," and an 
assembly of any kind. This simple use of the word is found in 
Acts 19 : 32, 39, 41; the Greek word which is there translated 
"assembly" is exactly the same word as that which is elsewhere 
translated "church." 

Even before New Testament times, however, the word had begun 
to be used in a special, religious sense. Here, as so often, the 
Septuagint translation of the Old Testament prepared the way for 
New Testament usage. In the Septuagint the word "ecclesia" 
was used to denote the solemn assembly of the people of Israel. 
That assembly was of course religious as well as political; for 
Israel was a theocratic nation. Hence it was no abrupt transition 
from previous usage when the New Testament writers selected the 
word "ecclesia" to denote the Christian congregation. 

In the New Testament, the word is used in various ways. In the 
first place, it designates the body of Christians who lived in any 
particular place. So, for example, the epistles of Paul are addressed 
to individual "churches." In the second place, however, the word 
designates the whole body of Christians throughout the world. 
This usage is prominent in the Epistle to the Ephesians, but it also 
appears even in the Gospels, in the memorable words of Jesus at 
Caesarea Philippi. Matt. 16 : 18. It is a wonderfully grand con- 
ception which is thus disclosed by the familiar word. "The Church" 
is a chosen people, ruled by the Lord himself, a mighty army, 
engaged, not in earthly warfare, but in a spiritual campaign of 
salvation and love. 

(6) "The Kingdom of God." — One further conception requires 
at least a word. What is meant by "the kingdom of God"? This 
conception is evidently related to the conception of "the Church," 
but the two are not identical. The kingdom of God is simply that 
place or that condition where God rules. As the kingdom of Caesar 
was the territory over which Caesar held sway, so the kingdom of 
God is the realm where God's will is done. In one sense, of course, 
the kingdom of God embraces the whole universe, for nothing is 
beyond the reach of God's power. But in the New Testament the 
term is used in a far deeper sense; it is used to denote the realm 



224 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

where God's will is done, not of necessity, but by willing submission. 
Wherever human hearts and wills are in true accord with the will 
of God, there the "kingdom" has come. 

In one sense the kingdom of God belongs to the future age. It is 
never realized fully upon earth; there is here always some lurking 
trace of sinful resistance. Nevertheless, in the New Testament the 
kingdom is by no means always represented as future. Though 
it has not yet been fully realized, it is already present in principle; 
it is present especially in the Church. The Church gives clear, 
though imperfect, expression to the idea of the kingdom ; the Church 
is a people whose ruler is God. 

Entrance into the Church is not to be obtained by human effort; 
it is the free gift of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. No other 
gift is so glorious. If we are members of that chosen people, we 
need fear nothing in heaven or on earth. 

2. PRACTICAL CONCLUSIONS 

Two lessons should be conveyed by our study of to-day: in the 
first place the lesson of separateness, and in the second place the 
lesson of unity. Neither can be truly learned without the other. 
There can be no true Christian unity if individual members of the 
Christian body make common cause with the unbelieving world. 
A knowledge of the common enemy will draw us all into closer 
fellowship. That fellowship need not necessarily be expressed in a 
common organization ; but it will be expressed at least in a common 
service. Separateness from the world will not mean leaving the 
world to its fate; the Christian salvation will be offered freely to all. 
But the gravity of the choice should never, by any false urbanity, 
be disguised. It is no light difference whether a man is within the 
people of God or without; there is a definite line of demarcation, 
and the passing of it means the transition from death into life. 



In The Library. — Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": articles on 
"Church," "Disciple," "Christian." Hastings, "Dictionary of the 
Bible": Gayford, article on "Church." Hort, "The Christian Eccle- 
sia." Charteris, "The Church of Christ." Westcott, "The Two 
Empires: The Church and the World," in "The Epistles of St. John," 
pp. 250-282. "The Epistle to Diognetus," introduction and transla- 
tion in Lightfoot, "The Apostolic Fathers," pp. 487-489, 501-51 1. 
Erdman, "Coming to the Communion." 



LESSON XLI 
THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE 



1. A PHILOSOPHY, OR A TESTIMONY? 

In the Student's Text Book the Christian message has been* 
represented as primarily a piece of good news, a story of something 
that happened. That representation does not pass unchallenged 
to-day. Many suppose that the message of the apostles was con- 
cerned simply with reflection upon eternal truths. For centuries, 
it is said in effect, men had been reflecting upon the problems of God 
and the world and sin; what the apostles did in Jerusalem and else- 
where was simply to provide better instruction on these great 
themes; Jesus had taught men that God is a Father, the apostles 
simply continued his teaching. 

Such a view, of course, can be held only by rejecting or distorting 
the testimony of the New Testament. If the book of The Acts is 
correct, if Paul is correct, then the preaching that founded the 
apostolic Church was not better instruction about old facts, but 
information about a new fact. Before Jesus came, the world was 
lost under sin; but Jesus lived and died and rose again, and gave 
salvation to all who would receive. According to the New Testa- 
ment, Jesus did not come to tell men that they were God's children; 
he came to make them God's children. John 1 : 12; Gal. 4 : 3-5. 
Without him they were under God's wrath and curse; but by faith 
in him, by acceptance of his sacrifice of himself for them, by re- 
ceiving from his Spirit the power to believe, they could call God 
Father. On the day of Pentecost Jesus was presented as more than 
a Teacher ; he was presented as a Saviour. 

2. THE EFFECTS OF THE MESSAGE 

(1) In the Apostolic Age. — The effects of that presentation have 
been considered briefly in the Student's Text Book, and what was 
said there might easily be supplemented. The conversion of the 
three thousand was only a beginning. The new spirit of the 
Christian community, the brotherly love and holy joy of the dis- 
ciples, indeed everything that will be treated in the lessons of the 

Sen. T. III. L 2 2$ 



226 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

quarter, were the result of a simple piece of news. By the wise men 
of the world — then as now — the message was despised, but "the 
foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is 
stronger than men." I Cor. 1 : 25. 

This lesson offers a singular opportunity to the teacher. The 
Christian message in the apostolic Church was a message of power. 
The story of its progress is full of dramatic vigor; it appeals even 
to the non-Christian historian. The story of the apostolic age is 
full of surprises — the sudden transformation of bitter Jewish 
enemies into humble disciples; the triumphant spread of the faith 
when everything seemed opposed; the establishment of Christian 
churches in the very centers of pagan vice; the astonishingly rapid 
preparation for the conquest of the empire; and all this accomplished 
not by worldly wisdom, but by simple men who only had a bit of 
news — a bit of news, and God! 

(2) In the History of the Church. — The triumphs of the gospel, 
however, were not confined to the age of the apostles. The 
apostolic age was prophetic of the Christian centuries. There 
were many days of darkness; but the Church always emerged 
again triumphant. So it will be to-day. God has not deserted 
his people; he will attest his truth with the power of his Spirit; 
there is no room for discouragement. One thing, however, should be 
remembered ; the victories of the Church are victories, not of brilliant 
preachers, not of human wisdom or human goodness, but of 
the cross of Christ. Under that banner all true conquests move. 

3. THE PRESENTATION OF THE MESSAGE 

The Christian message was presented in the apostolic Church 
in many different ways. The gospel was everywhere essentially 
the same, but the presentation of it was adapted to the needs of 
particular hearers, and the understanding of it became ever more 
complete under the illumination of the Holy Spirit. It is interesting 
to collect the various types of missionary speeches that are found in 
the New Testament. 

(1) The Missionary Preaching of the Jerusalem Church. — The 
early chapters of The Acts preserve a number of speeches that were 
addressed to Jews. As might have been expected, these speeches 
are intended primarily to prove the Messiahship of Jesus. If that 
could be proved, then — among the Jews — the rest would follow. 
The Messiahship was proved first by an appeal to the Scriptures, and 
second by the fact of the resurrection. Even the death of Jesus on 



THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE 227 

the cross, which was to the Jews a stumblingblock, was predicted 
by the prophets, and so served to prove that Jesus was the promised 
One. The resurrection was also predicted; and the resurrection 
was established first by the simple testimony of eyewitnesses and 
second by the wonderful works of the living Christ. 

These early speeches contain only a little of the full truth of the 
gospel. In them, for example, the significance of the death of 
Christ as an atonement for sin is not fully explained. Such 
omissions were due no doubt to two causes. 

(a) Limitations Due to the Hearers. — In the first place, the 
peculiar needs of the hearers had to be considered. The hearers 
were Jews; to them the death of the Messiah was an unheard-of 
paradox; to them the cross was a stumblingblock. Before the inner 
meaning of the crucifixion could be explained, obviously the ob- 
jections derived from it needed to be overcome. The first task of 
the missionaries was to show that Jesus, although he had been 
crucified, was the Messiah. That was done by an appeal to proph- 
ecy and to the plain fact of the resurrection. After conviction 
had thus been produced, it would be time enough to show that 
what was at first regarded as a stumblingblock was really the 
supreme act of divine grace. 

(b) Limitations Due to an Early Stage of Revelation. — The 
omissions in the early speeches were due, however, not merely to 
the peculiar needs of the hearers, but also to limitations in the 
knowledge of the apostles. Christian truth was not all revealed at 
once; undoubtedly the full explanation of the cross, the full exposi- 
tion of the atonement, was revealed only when the disciples could 
bear it. Such is the divine method, even in revelation. The 
disciples were brought gradually, by the gracious leading of the 
Holy Spirit, into ever richer knowledge of the truth. 

(c) The Significance of the Cross. — Nevertheless, the meagerness 
of the early teaching must not be exaggerated. In the very first 
missionary speech of Peter, Jesus was represented as "delivered up 
by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." Acts 2 : 23. 
What happened "by the determinate counsel ... of God" was 
no meaningless chance ; the crucifixion was not a victory of evil over 
God, it must have had some beneficent purpose. Furthermore, 
Jesus himself had explained what that purpose was. He had 
spoken of giving his life a ransom for many, Mark 10 : 45 ; still 
more plainly, on the last solemn passover evening, he had repre- 
sented his death as sacrificial. These words were certainly not 



228 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

forgotten in the Jerusalem church; they were called to mind in the 
repeated celebration of the Lord's Supper, and must have formed the 
subject of meditation. The Jerusalem Christians knew that Jesus' 
death was a death on their behalf. 

(d) The Lordship of Jesus. — The lordship of Jesus, moreover, 
was fully recognized from the very beginning. The risen Christ 
had ascended into glory, and had poured forth his mighty Spirit. 
The believer was no mere learner of the words of a dead teacher; he 
was called into communion with a Lord and Saviour. Such com- 
munion meant nothing less than an entirely new life, in which sin 
could have no rightful place. It was a life of conflict, but also a 
life of hope. The Saviour would come again in like manner as he 
had gone. The spiritual victory, already won, would be perfected 
by a final victory in every realm. 

(2) The Missionary Preaching of Paul. — The gospel of the early 
preachers was a glorious message. It was a piece of glad tidings, 
such as the world had never known. Yet even greater things were 
in store; even more wondrous mysteries were to be revealed. They 
were revealed especially through the instrumentality of the apostle 
Paul. The gospel had been preached from the beginning, but much 
of its deeper meaning was reserved for Paul. 

(a) Truth and Error. — In the teaching of Paul, truth became 
plainer by being contrasted with error. The original apostles had 
really been trusting in the atonement of Christ for salvation; but 
now that trust became plainer and more explicit by being con- 
trasted with works of the law. The original apostles had really 
grasped the inner significance of Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old 
Testament; but now that significance became still plainer by the 
contrast with Pharisaic legality. Now at length the death and 
resurrection were represented sharply and clearly as great representa- 
tive acts in which the believer shares through faith. The original 
apostles were not overwhelmed and confused by the new revelation ; 
they recognized the grace of God. Their perfect agreement with 
Paul exhibited the unity of the apostolic gospel. 

Scarcely anything would be more interesting than a full collection 
of the missionary speeches of Paul. Such a collection, however, 
has not been preserved. The writings that we possess from the 
hand of Paul are not missionary addresses, but letters written to 
those who were already Christians. We should not, however, 
complain of the providence of God. God has not thought good 
to give us everything, but what he has given us is enough. 



THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE 229 

(b) Information Provided by The Acts. — The book of The Acts, 
in the first place, affords valuable information. The author was 
interested, indeed, chiefly in beginnings. The examples of Paul's 
missionary preaching which Luke has preserved, are perhaps 
preliminary to evangelism, rather than evangelism itself. The 
speech at Pisidian Antioch shows how Paul proved the Messiahship 
of Jesus. In winning the Jews, that proof was the first step. The 
Pauline gospel indeed appears, but it appears only at the very end 
of the speech. The speech at Athens is still more clearly of pre- 
liminary character. Monotheism needed to be established before 
l he gospel of Christ could be understood. Despite their necessary 
limitations however, these speeches are instructive. They show, 
in the first place, that Paul adapted his preaching to the needs of his 
hearers. He did not preach the same sermon mechanically to all. 
He sought really to win men over, he began with what his hearers 
could understand. They show, in the second place, that all pre- 
liminary matters were kept strictly subordinate. These matters 
were not made an end in themselves, ,as is often the case in the 
modern Church, but were merely a means to an end. No matter 
where he began, Paul always proceeded quickly to the center of 
the gospel. Both at Pisidian Antioch and at Athens, he hastened 
on to the resurrection. 

(c) Information Provided by the Epistles. — The Pauline Epistles, 
in the second place, though they are addressed to Christians, really 
afford sufficient information, at least in outline, about the mis- 
sionary preaching of Paul. Incidental references are sufficient to 
show at least that the cross and the resurrection were the center and 
core of it. The Thessalonians, for example, under the preaching of 
Paul, "turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and true God, 
and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, 
even Jesus, who delivereth us from the wrath to come." This little 
passage is worth pages of exposition. Preaching to Gentiles is here 
reviewed in epitome, though of course not with studied symmetry 
and completeness. The knowledge of the one true God formed of 
course, for Gentiles, the starting point for all the rest, but from that 
starting point the preacher at once proceeded to tell of the 
work of Christ. Just as illuminating are passages like I Cor. 
2 :2; Gal. 3:1. In Corinth Paul knew nothing save "Jesus 
Christ, and him crucified"; in Galatia the story of the cross 
was made so plain that it was as though Jesus Christ crucified 
were held up before the eyes of the Galatians on a great picture 



230 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

or placard. The famous passage in First Corinthians, ch. 15 : 1-8, 
is, however, perhaps clearest of all. At the very beginning Paul 
had spoken of the death of Christ and the resurrection. The 
death, moreover, was not presented as a mere inspiring story of 
a holy martyrdom, but as a death "for our sins"; and the resur- 
rection was supported not primarily by an inward experience, 
but by simple testimony. 

Apostolic preaching was everywhere essentially the same. The 
apostles never began, like many modern preachers, with exhortation; 
though they proceeded to exhortation, they always began with 
facts. What was always fundamental was the simple story of the 
life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ 
crucified and risen was the subject of the good news that conquered 
the world. When will the modern Church take up the message with 
new power? We do not know. The times are in God's hand. 
But when the blessed day comes, it will be a day of victory. 



In the Library. — Bunyan, "The Pilgrim's Progress." Warfield, 
"The Saviour of the World," and "The Power of God Unto Salvation" 
(the latter in "The Presbyterian Pulpit"). Hodge, "The Way of Life." 



LESSON XLII 
THE WORD AND THE SACRAMENTS 



This lesson and the two following are intended primarily to en- 
courage in the student the diligent use of "the means of grace." 
The wise teacher will keep the practical purpose steadily in view. 
That practical purpose may now be examined a little more in detail. 
Why should the example of the apostolic Church be followed in the 
matter of Bible-reading, of the sacraments, of prayer, of Christian 
meetings? What was God's purpose in providing these simple 
exercises of the Christian life — what benefit do we receive from 
them? Perhaps the briefest and simplest answer is that we receive 
from them what is often known as "reality" in religion. 

1. REALITY IN RELIGION 

Many Christians are puzzled by the lack of the sense of "reality" 
in their Christian life. They have believed in Christ, but often he 
seems far from them. It is not so much that positive doubts have 
arisen, though certainly the lack of fervency gives doubt its oppor- 
tunity. Rather is it an inexplicable dulling of the spiritual eye. 
The gospel still seems wonderful to the intellect, but to the heart 
it has somehow lost its power. 

(1) The Need of Diligence. — This condition is due very often to a 
neglect of "the means of grace," which we shall study in this lesson 
and the two lessons following. It is a great mistake to suppose 
that the spiritual life is altogether beyond our control. Undoubtedly 
it is instituted only by an immediate exercise of the divine power, 
independent of the human will; undoubtedly the maintenance of it 
would be impossible without the assistance of the Holy Spirit. 
Nevertheless, in that work of maintenance, we have a very definite 
part. Many Christians suppose that any performance of religious 
exercises merely for duty's sake, without immediate spiritual profit, 
is a mere form. This supposition is erroneous. Not perform- 
ance of religious exercises without spiritual profit, but per- 
formance of them without the desire of spiritual profit, is formalism. 
The appointed means of grace must continue to be used even when 

231 



232 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

no immediate benefit can be discerned. In the reading of the Bible, 
in prayer, in public worship, the Christian should first of all do his 
duty. The result may safely be left to God. 

(2) The Danger of Neglect. — Without such attention to duty, 
the Christian life becomes merely a matter of inclination. In 
times of great spiritual distress we call upon God for comfort and 
help; but in the long, level weeks of comparative prosperity we 
think we can do without him. Such thoughts are the height of 
folly. God is not our servant, he is not one who can safely be left 
out of our thoughts except when we think we especially need him. 
If we neglect God in time of prosperity, we may call in vain when 
adversity comes. 

(3) The Reward of Duty. — The religious life is not merely a matter 
of inclination; it must be diligently fostered. Such attention to 
duty, however, will never be merely drudgery. It may begin with 
drudgery, and it may become drudgery again at times, but if per- 
sisted in, it will be an ever-widening avenue of joy and power. 

2. THE STUDY OF THE BIBLE 

The reading of the Bible is such a simple thing, and so obviously 
necessary to the Christian life, that it requires comparatively little 
discussion. Despite its indispensableness, however, it is being 
sadly neglected to-day. Our fathers learned the Bible with a 
thoroughness which to-day is almost unknown. The change is full 
of danger. A Bible-reading Church is possessed of power; without 
the Bible the Church loses its identity altogether and sinks back 
into the life of the world. The process, unfortunately, has gone to 
considerable lengths. How may it now be checked? 

(1) The Study Should Be Made Interesting. — Something, no 
doubt, may be done by making the study of the Bible more interest- 
ing. Certainly the Bible does not yield in interest to any other 
branch of knowledge. The Bible does not merely present spiritual 
truth; it presents it in a wonderfully rich and varied way. If the 
study of the Bible is stupid, the fault lies not in the subject matter, 
but in the student or in the teacher. 

(2) The Motive of Duty. — Nevertheless, a mere appeal to the 
interest of the students is entirely insufficient. After all, there is 
no royal road to learning — not to Biblical learning any more than to 
the learning of the world. Solid education can never be attained 
without hard work; education that is easy is pretty sure to be 
worthless. Especially at the beginning the chief appeal in education 



THE WORD AND THE SACRAMENTS 233 

must be to a sense of duty. So it is in the case of the Bible. The 
Bible is the word of God ; obviously it may not be neglected. Let 
us study it, then, primarily because the study of it is an obvious 
duty. As a matter of fact the duty will soon become a pleasure, 
but let not that be the motive. Let us read the Bible regularly and 
persistently, in entire independence of changing impulse. That is 
the kind of study that is blessed of God. Superficial study, deter- 
mined by mere inclination, may at first sight seem just as good. 
But when adversity or temptation comes, then the difference 
appears. It is the difference between a house built upon the sand 
and a house built upon the rock. The two houses look alike, but 
when the rains descend and the floods come, one falls and the other 
stands. The Christian whose knowledge of the Bible is obtained by 
old-fashioned, patient study, never interrupted by changing incli- 
nation, has dug deep and founded his house upon the rock. 

(3) The Example of the Apostolic Church. — The example of the 
apostolic Church in the matter of the means of grace is especially 
significant. In the apostolic age, it might have seemed as though 
these simple exercises might be dispensed with. What need of 
regularly appointed forms when the Holy Spirit was so immedi- 
ately manifested? Yet as a matter of fact all of the essential 
forms of Christian , custom were present from the beginning. 
Regularity and diligence were cherished even in the first exuberance 
of the Jerusalem church. Enthusiasm of spiritual life did not lead 
to the despising of ordinary helps; the early disciples "continued 
stedfastly," "day by day," "with one accord in the temple, and 
breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and 
singleness of heart." Acts 2 : 46. 

The use which the apostolic Church made of the Bible might seem 
to some modern men particularly surprising. A book religion, men 
say, is a stagnant religion; living faith is independent of dead docu- 
ments; it is only when the early enthusiasm is lost that belief be- 
comes crystallized in submission to venerable authority. This 
sort of religious philosophy shatters on the plain facts of the 
apostolic age. Admittedly that was an age of freshness and in- 
dependence. There never has been such an outburst of religious 
enthusiasm as that which planted the faith in Jerusalem and carried 
it like wildfire throughout the civilized world. Yet another fact 
is equally plain — this wonderful enthusiasm was coupled with the 
utmost reverence for a book. Nothing.could exceed the unquestion- 
ing submission which the early Christians paid to the Old Testa- 



234 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

ment Scriptures. The exuberance of apostolic Christianity was 
intertwined with a book religion! 

The explanation, of course, is simple. Submission to a human 
book means stagnation; but genuine submission to the Word of God 
means always what it meant in the apostolic age — heroism and 
victory and life. 

3. BAPTISM 

(1) Baptism and Circumcision. — The sacrament of baptism had 
its truest predecessor in circumcision, the Old Testament sign of 
union with the covenant people. Baptism as well as circumcision 
is a sign of the covenant, though the varied symbolism marks the 
advance of the new covenant over the old. 

(2) Christian Baptism and the Baptism of John. — In form, 
moreover, and to a considerable extent also in meaning, Christian 
baptism in the early Church was prepared for by the baptism of 
John the Baptist, which had even been continued by the disciples 
of Jesus during Jesus' earthly ministry. John 4:1, 2. Both the 
baptism of John and Christian baptism symbolized cleansing from 
sin. Compare Acts 2 : 38 with Matt. 3 : 6, 11. 

Christian baptism, however, differed from every rite that had 
preceded it by its definite reference to Christ, and by its definite 
connection with a new manifestation of the Holy Spirit. 

(3) Baptism "Into Christ." — In the apostolic writings, baptism 
is sometimes spoken of as a baptism "into Christ." Gal. 3 :27; 
Rom. 6 : 3. The meaning of this phrase has often been obscured 
both in translation and in interpretation. The phrase "into 
Christ" in this connection means something more than "with 
reference to Christ" ; it means rather "into a position within Christ." 
The Christian, according to a common Pauline expression, is "in 
Christ"; he is in such close union with Christ that the life of Christ 
might almost be described as the atmosphere which he breathes. 
To be baptized "into Christ" means to come by baptism into this 
state of blessed union with the Saviour. 

(4) Baptism and Faith. — At this point, however, a serious 
question arises. How can baptism be described as the means by 
which the Christian comes into union with Christ, when at other 
times salvation is declared to be by faith? One solution of the 
difficulty would be simply to say that baptism and faith are both 
necessary — a man must believe if he is to be saved, but he must also 
be baptized. Clearly, however, this view does not represent the 
meaning of the New Testament. The passages where faith alone 



THE WORD AND THE SACRAMENTS 235 

is represented as the condition of salvation are too strong; especially 
the vigorous contrast which Paul sets up between faith and works 
prevents any inclusion of such a work as baptism along with faith 
as an additional condition of acceptance with God. The true 
solution is that baptism is related to faith, or rather to the regenera- 
tive work of the Holy Spirit,as the sign is related to the thing 
signified. Baptism represents the work of the Spirit; it is a means 
which the Spirit uses. If it stood alone, it would be a meaningless 
form, but when it is representative of spiritual facts it becomes a 
channel of divine grace. 

4. THE LORD'S SUPPER 

The celebration of the Lord's Supper in the Jerusalem church 
was probably connected in some way with "the breaking of bread," 
which is mentioned in Acts 2 : 42. Every common meal was an 
expression of Christian communion, but the solemn words of Christ 
at the Last Supper could not have been forgotten. Here, as so often, 
the book of The Acts affords little information about the internal 
affairs of the Church. 

Fortunately, Paul, in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, is far 
more explicit, and inferences can be drawn from him with regard 
even to Jerusalem. Paul represents the Lord's Supper, not as an 
innovation, but as something that had been given to the Corinthians 
as a matter of course, at the very beginning of their Christian lives; 
evidently the sacrament was celebrated universally in the churches; 
Paul had "received" the account of the institution of the Supper 
from the Lord through the first Christians. 

In Corinth, as was also probably the case in the early days in 
Jerusalem, the Supper was celebrated in connection with the com- 
mon meals of the Christian community. Certain ahuses had 
arisen; the rich brought food and drink with them and feasted 
luxuriously in the presence of their poorer brethren; the spiritual 
significance of the Supper was profaned. Against such abuses 
Paul enunciates the great principle that the Supper does not work a 
magical benefit; if partaken of irreverently it brings condemnation 
rather than blessing. 

In I Cor. 10 : 14-22, the Lord's Supper appears as a warning 
against participation in heathen feasts. The pagan fellow citizens 
of the Corinthian Christians, by their religious feasts, held com- 
munion with idols; the Christians cannot remain with them and at 
the same time commune with Christ. A man must take his choice — 



236 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

either Christ or idols; he must choose either the Lord's Supper or 
heathen feasts. Here the Lord's Supper appears especially as a sign 
of communion with Christ, as in ch. 11 : 26 it appears especially as 
a commemoration of his death. These two aspects of the Supper, 
and their intimate connection with each other, should now be 
explained a little more in detail. 

(1) A Representation of the Death of Christ. — The Lord's Supper, 
as is observed in the Student's Text Book, is representative of the 
death of Christ on our behalf. In many passages of the New 
Testament, the significance of that death is explained in words; in 
the Lord's Supper it is represented in visible form. The Lord's 
Supper is related to the story of the gospel, as the picture or the acted 
representation is related to ordinary discourse. In the broken 
bread and poured-out wine we not only apprehend with the 
mind, but actually see the broken body and shed blood of the Lord. 
Of course that does not mean, as the Roman Catholic Church 
teaches, that the bread and wine are actually by a miracle, at every 
celebration of the Supper, changed into the body and blood of 
Christ, but only that they represent them. The very simplicity 
of the sacrament should have guarded against misinterpretation. 
An actual image of the dying Saviour might lead to idolatry, or 
to an overemphasis upon the details of the scene on Calvary; 
the simple representation that Christ ordained is enough to be 
vivid, without being enough to become misleading. 

(2) A Representation of Our Union with Christ. — The Supper 
represents the death of Christ not as a mere drama, remote from 
us, but as a death on our behalf. In the Supper we do not merely 
witness the breaking of the bread and the pouring out of the wine; 
we partake of the bread and wine ourselves. Plainly the symbolism 
means that we who are disciples of Christ do not merely admire the 
holy self-sacrifice of Christ, but rather receive the benefits of it. 
We feed upon the body and blood of Christ in the high spiritual 
sense that by faith we obtain from Christ's death pardon for our 
sins and a fresh start in the full favor of God. These benefits we 
obtain not by our own efforts, but by a free gift. It was Christ 
himself who broke the bread and poured out the wine on the last 
evening before the crucifixion; it is also Christ who, through his 
minister, at every celebration of the sacrament, is represented as 
offering to us his body and blood. 

The Lord's Suoper, therefore, is not merely a commemoration of 
an event in the past; it is also the symbol of a present fact. It 



THE WORD AND THE SACRAMENTS 237 

symbolizes the blessed communion of believers with one another 
and with Christ. 

5. THE SACRAMENTS MORE THAN A PROCLAMATION OF THE 
GOSPEL 

So far we have considered the sacraments merely as one means of 
proclaiming the gospel. The Bible proclaims the gospel in words; 
the sacraments proclaim it in pictures. Even if that were all, the 
sacraments would be of great value. By these symbolic actions 
the gospel message attains a new vividness and definiteness. 

As a matter of fact, however, baptism and the Lord's Supper are 
more than peculiar ways of making a vivid presentation of the gospel. 
They were instituted especially by Christ, and the Holy Spirit has 
connected with them a special blessing. The Spirit can use what 
means he will, and he has chosen to use these. In the Lord's 
Supper, for example, the Lord is really present in the midst of his 
people. He is not present, indeed, in "a corporal and carnal 
manner"; but his spiritual presence is a blessed fact. 

The sacraments, therefore, should not be neglected. In them- 
selves, when unaccompanied by faith, they are valueless; and they 
are not necessary for salvation. Ordinarily, however, they are a 
chosen means of blessing. When God wills, other means can take 
their place, but under all ordinary circumstances they are used. 
Certainly they should not be neglected without adequate cause. 
They have been provided by God, and God is wiser than men. 

The Lord's Supper should be received with solemnity; but some- 
times young Christians have perhaps an exaggerated dread of it. 
The error of the Corinthian Christians should indeed be carefully 
avoided; wanton carelessness in the solemn act will of course bring 
the condemnation of God. But the Supper does not demand per- 
fection, even in faith; on the contrary it is intended to help to 
remove imperfection. The Lord's Supper is not a dangerous bit 
of magic, where any little mistake might break the charm. Let 
us partake of it with a simple prayer, and leave the results to the 
goodness of God. 



In the Library. — Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": article on 
"Lord's Supper"; Purves, article on "Baptism." W. W. Moore, "The 
Indispensable Book." Candlish, "The Christian Sacraments" (In 
"Handbooks for Bible Classes," edited by Dods and Whyte). Lilley, 
"The Lord's Supper." 



LESSON XLIII 

PRAYER 



1. THE ANSWERER OF PRAYER 

The prayers of the apostolic age reveal with startling clearness 
the apostolic conception of God; and one chief reason why our 
prayers fall short of the apostolic standard is that our idea of God 
is different. 

(1) God Is a Person. — In the first place, true prayer always con- 
ceives of God as a Person ; whereas much of modern religious think- 
ing conceives of him as only another name for the world. Human 
life, it is said, is a part of the life of God; every man, to some degree, 
is divine. Such a philosophy makes prayer logically impossible. 
It is impossible for us to speak to an impersonal world-force of 
which we ourselves are merely an expression; the personal distinc- 
tion between man and God is absolutely essential to prayer. 

The transcendence of God as over against the world is grandly 
expressed in the prayer of the Jerusalem church, which was studied 
in the Student's Text Book; the Jerusalem Christians addressed 
God as the Lord who made "the heaven and the earth and the sea, 
and all that in them is." Acts 4 : 24. God, in other words, is not 
another name for the world, but Creator of the world. He is indeed 
present in the world; not a single thing that happens is independent 
of him; the world would not continue for a moment without God's 
sustaining hand. But that means, not that God is identical with 
the world, but that he is Master of it. God pervades all things; 
he is present everywhere; but he is also free. 

That conception pervades all the prayers of the apostolic Church; 
in all of them man comes to God as one person to another. God 
is free; God can do what he will; through Christ he is our Father. 
He is not bound by his own works; he is independent of nature; he 
will overrule all things for the good of his children. Such is the God 
that can answer prayer. 

(2) God Is an Infinite and Holy Person. — If, however, the prayers 
of the apostolic age conceive of God as a Person, they also 
conceive of him as very different from men. Here, also, they 

238 



PRAYER 239 

provide a salutary example for the modern Church. Many devout 
Christians of to-day, in avoiding the error which has just been 
described, in thinking of God plainly as a person, are inclined to 
fall into the opposite mistake. In their clear realization of God as a 
person they think of him as a person exactly like ourselves. They 
regard the difference between God and man as a difference of degree 
rather than a difference of kind; they think of God as merely a 
greater man in the sky. The result of such thinking is disastrous 
for prayer. Prayer, to be sure, is here not absolutely destroyed; 
communion with God remains possible; but such communion is 
degraded. Communion loses that sense of mystery and awe which 
properly belongs to it. Man becomes too familiar with God; God 
takes merely the leading place in a circle of friends; religion descends 
to the plane of other relationships. Prayer to such a God is apt 
to become irreverent. If our prayers are to lift us fully into the 
presence of God they must never lie on the same plane with the 
communion that we enjoy with our fellow men, but must be filled 
with a profound sense of God's majesty and power. 

The danger of permitting prayer, on account of its very privilege, 
to become a commonplace thing is one that threatens us all. It 
may be overcome, however, in the first place, by the contemplation 
of nature. "The heavens declare the glory of God ; and the firmament 
showeth his handiwork" — and it is a terrible, mysterious God that 
they reveal. The stupendous vastness of the universe and the 
baffling mystery of the surrounding infinity oppress the thoughtful 
mind with a profound sense of insignificance. And God is the 
Maker and Ruler of it all, the One in whom all the mystery finds 
its explanation! Such is the employment of nature in the prayer of 
the Jerusalem church. Acts 4 : 24. 

All the prayers of the apostolic Church illustrate the principle 
which is now being emphasized. There is never anything trite or 
vulgar about the prayers that are contained in the New Testament; 
they are all characterized by a wonderful dignity and reverence. 

If the infinity and omnipotence of God should prevent any ir- 
reverence in our prayers, the thought of his holiness is perhaps even 
more overwhelming. We are full of impurity. Who can stand 
before the white light of God's awful judgment throne? 

(3) God Is a Gracious Person. — Nevertheless, despite the majesty 
and holiness of God, he invites us into his presence. It is a 
stupendous wonder. No reasoning could have shown it to be 
probable; only ignorance can regard it as a matter of course. If 



240 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

God were only a somewhat greater man, there would have been 
comparatively little mystery in prayer; but communion with the 
infinite and eternal and holy One, the unfathomed cause of all 
things, is the wonder of wonders. It is a wonder of God's 
grace. It is too wonderful to be true; yet it has become true in 
Christ. True prayer brings us not before some God of our own 
devising, before whom we could stand in our own merit without 
fear, but into the dread presence of Jehovah. Let us not hesitate 
to go ; God has called us ; he loves us as a Father, far more than we 
can ever love him. Prayer is full of joy; the joy is so great that it 
is akin to fear. 

2. THE INFLUENCE OF JESUS' TEACHING UPON THE 
PRAYERS OF THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH 

In studying the prayers of the apostolic age, it must always be 
remembered that they stood upon the foundation of Jesus' example 
and precept. 

(1) The Example of Jesus. — With all his power and holiness Jesus 
was not above asking for strength to perform his gracious work; 
after that long, wearying day in Capernaum he "departed into a 
desert place, and there prayed." Mark 1 : 35. In the hour of 
agony in Gethsemane, he prayed a truly human, though holy, 
prayer: "Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; remove 
this cup from me: howbeit not what I will, but what thou wilt." 
Ch. 14 : 36. Prayer, moreover, was not something which Jesus 
reserved for himself ; clearly it was a privilege which he extended to 
all his disciples. In the prayer that he taught his disciples, he 
summed up all that our prayer should be. Matt. 6 : 9-15. 

(2) God as Father. — One thing in particular was derived by the 
apostolic Church from Jesus — the conception of God as Father. 
This conception appears in the epistles of Paul as a matter of course; 
evidently it was firmly established among the readers; it no longer 
required defense or explanation. Yet it had not lost, through long 
repetition, one whit of its freshness; in Paul it is never a mere phrase, 
but always a profound spiritual fact. 

Obviously this idea of the fatherhood of God was of particular 
importance for prayer. It taught the disciples "to draw near to 
God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father, 
able and ready to help" them. A characteristic way of addressing 
God even in the Gentile churches of Paul was "Abba, Father." 
Gal. 4:6; Rom. 8 : 15. The Aramaic word "Abba" is sufficient 



PRAYER 241 

to show that this hallowed usage was based ultimately upon the 
teaching and example of Jesus; the word was the very one that 
Jesus had used both in his own prayers, for example in Gethsemane, 
Mark 14 : 36, and in the "Lord's Prayer" which he taught to his 
disciples. 

(3) The Right of Sonship. — What needs to be observed especially, 
however, is that the right of addressing God as "our Father" was 
not in the apostolic Church extended to all men. Certainly no 
justification for such an extension could have been found in the 
teaching of Jesus; it was not the unbelieving multitude, but his 
own disciples, to whom Jesus taught the Lord's Prayer. Matt. 
5:1; 6:9; Luke 11:1,2. Paul is even more explicit ; the cry "Abba, 
Father" was to him a proof that a great change had taken place, 
that those who had been formerly under bondage to the world 
had now become sons of God. This change Paul represents 
especially under the figure of adoption, Gal. 4:5; men have to be 
adopted by God before they can call God Father ; and adoption is 
accomplished only by the work of Christ. Vs. 4,5. 

(4) The Intercession of the Spirit. — The cry, "Abba, Father" can 
never be uttered by sinful man alone, but only by the power of 
Christ's Spirit. The prayers even of the redeemed are faulty. 
But the Holy Spirit takes up their cry. "And in like manner the 
Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we 
ought; but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with 
groanings which cannot be uttered; and he that searcheth the 
hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh 
intercession for the saints according to the will of God." Rom. 
8 : 26, 27. 

There lies the true ground of confidence in prayer. Prayer does 
not derive its efficacy from any merit of its own, but only from the 
goodness of God. Let us not worry too much as to whether our 
prayers are good or bad; let them only be simple and sincere; God 
knows our weakness; his Spirit will make intercession for us far 
better than we can intercede for ourselves. 

3. PUBLIC PRAYERS OF THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH 

The few individual prayers that have been preserved from the 
apostolic age are for the most part prayers of a more or less public 
character. The spontaneous outpourings of the hearts of individual 
saints before God would usually not be put into writing; the full 
secrets of the prayer closet are known to God alone. 
Sen. t. m. 4. 



242 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

(1) Spontaneity and Sincerity. — Nevertheless, the public character 
of the prayers of the New Testament does not mean that they are 
cold and formal. On the contrary, at a time when set liturgies had 
not yet been formed, public prayer possessed all the spontaneity 
of more private devotions; the thought of the listening congregation 
or of a circle of readers did not bring any hampering restraint. 
There is a sterling sincerity about all the prayers or fragments of 
prayers in the New Testament. 

(2) Dignity. — The spontaneity and sincerity of the prayers, how- 
ever, did not involve any sacrifice of dignity. The prayer of the 
Jerusalem congregation, Acts 4 : 24-30, is a marvel of exalted speech ; 
its employment of Scripture phrase is an admirable example for 
public prayers of all ages. That prayer received a glorious answer; 
indeed the true prayer of the congregation never remains unheard. 
Christ's promise is always fulfilled ; where two or three are gathered 
together in his name there is he in the midst of them. 

In the epistles, there is to be found here and there what may be 
called, if not the beginning of liturgy, at any rate material of which a 
magnificent liturgy can be formed. The benediction of Heb. 13 : 
20, 21, for example, is characterized by a splendid rhythm as well 
as by true evangelical fervor. Such a prayer lifts the hearts of the 
congregation up into the presence of God. There is use for beauty, 
even in prayer; and the truest beauty is to be found in the prayers 
of the Bible. 

4. PRIVATE PRAYERS OF THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH 

The apostolic guidance in prayer extends even to those private 
prayers which no one hears except God. In this field, the epistles 
of Paul are of special value. More fully than any other one man of 
the apostolic age, Paul has revealed the very secrets of Christian 
experience ; and that experience is rooted in prayer. A glance at the 
beginnings and endings of the epistles will be sufficient to show how 
fundamental prayer was in Paul's life; news of the churches was 
never received without issuing at once in thanksgiving or in in- 
tercession, and Paul desires, not merely the good wishes, but the 
prayers, of his beloved converts. Paul practiced what he preached 
when he urged the Thessalonian Christians to "pray without 
ceasing." I Thess. 5 : 17. Compare chs. 1:3; 2 : 13; Rom. 1:9; 
II Tim. 1 : 3. Evidently, moreover, he regarded prayer as some- 
thing far more than an incidental expression of the Christian life; 
he believed in its real efficacy with the Ruler of the world. 



PRAYER 243 

5. "MY POWER IS MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS" 

One passage, particularly, will repay special study. In II Cor. 
12 : 8, 9, we have information about the most intimate, the most 
personal of the prayers of Paul. The apostle had been afflicted with 
a persistent illness; it had apparently hampered him in his work, 
and caused him acute distress. In his trouble he called upon the 
Lord; and by that prayer Paul's affliction has been made to redound 
to the lasting instruction and encouragement of the Church. 

(1) Prayer Concerning Physical Ills. — In the first place, the prayer 
concerns not spiritual matters, or the needs of the Church at large, 
but a simple affair of the physical life. As life is constituted here 
on earth, we are intimately connected with the physical world; the 
body is necessary to the soul. But God is Master of earth as well 
as of heaven; even the simplest needs of life may be laid before him 
in prayer. To teach us that, we have here the example of Paul, 
as well as the precept of the Saviour himself. 

(2) The Answer. — In the second place, the prayer was answered, 
and answered in a very instructive way. The illness was not 
removed; but it was made an instrument of blessing. The purpose 
of it was revealed: "My power," said Christ, "is made perfect in 
weakness." Physical suffering is worth while if it leads to heroism 
and faith. Such is often the Lord's will. He himself trod the path 
of suffering before us, and in his case as in ours, the path led to glory. 

(3) The Prayer Addressed to Christ. — In the third place, this 
prayer was addressed, not to God the Father, but to Christ. Com- 
pare Acts 7 : 59, 60. Without doubt "the Lord" in II Cor. 12 : 8, 
as practically always in the Pauline Epistles, refers to Christ. 
Usually, in the New Testament, prayer is addressed, through 
Christ, to God the Father ; but there is no reason why it should not 
be addressed to the Son. The Son as well as the Father is a living 
Person; and the Son as well as the Father is God. It is well that 
we have apostolic examples for prayer addressed directly to the 
Saviour. Christ, to Paul, was no mere instrument in salvation, 
that had served its purpose and was then removed; he was alive 
and sovereign, and the relation to him was a relation of love. In a 
time of acute physical distress, Paul turned to the Saviour. Three 
times he called, and then the answer came. The answer will always 
come in the Lord's way, not in ours; but the Lord's way is always best. 



In the Library. — Hastings, "Dictionary of the Bible": Bernard, 
article on "Prayer" (III). "Thomas, "The Prayers of St. Paul." 



LESSON XLIV 
THE CONGREGATION 



1. CONGREGATIONAL MEETINGS IN PALESTINE 

In studying the congregational meetings of the apostolic churches 
it must be remembered that the Christian community in Jerusalem 
continued for many years its participation in the worship of temple 
and synagogue. Specially Christian meetings, therefore, were at 
first not the sole expression of the collective worship of the Jerusalem 
Christians. Nevertheless, such meetings were undoubtedly held, 
even from the beginning. From the days when the one hundred 
and twenty brethren were gathered together before Pentecost, the 
Church was not without some outward expression of its distinctive 
life. 

(1) As Indicated in The Acts. — The circumstances of such early 
meetings of the congregation are, however, obscure. The very 
considerable numbers of the converts, Acts 2 : 41, 47; 4 : 4; 5 : 14, 
would perhaps sometimes make it difficult to gather the whole 
congregation together in one place ; if, however, that were done, it 
would perhaps be usually in some part of the temple area. There 
seem to have been general meetings — for example, Acts 15 : 1-29 — 
but it is perhaps not necessary to suppose that they included 
every individual member of the Jerusalem church. 

Certainly, however, no members of that first Christian community 
neglected the assembling of themselves together. Evidently the 
sense of brotherhood was strongly developed, and evidently it ex- 
pressed itself not only in the regular relief of the needy, Acts 6:1, 
but also in meetings for instruction and worship and prayer. 
Ch. 2 :42; 4 : 23-31. These meetings were only outward indica- 
tions of a wonderful unity of mind and heart. Ch. 4 : 32. The 
cause of that unity was the common possession of the Spirit of God. 

As might have been expected in a book which is interested chiefly 
in the outward extension of the kingdom, the book of The Acts gives 
us little detailed information about the conduct of these earliest 
Christian meetings. Probably, however, the example of the Jewish 
synagogue made itself strongly felt. There was no violent break 

244 



THE CONGREGATION 245 

with Judaism; a new spirit was infused into ancient forms. The 
resemblance between the synagogue service and even the fully 
developed Christian meetings of to-day was noted in connection 
with Lesson IV. 

(2) As Indicated in the Epistle of James. — The Epistle of James 
perhaps helps somewhat to supply the need of detailed information. 
That epistle, as was observed in Lesson XXXII, was written by the 
head of the Jerusalem Church, and probably to Jewish Christians 
before A. D. 49. Apparently, therefore, we have in James 2 : 1-6 
some welcome information about Christian assemblies, if not in 
Jerusalem, at least in other Jewish Christian churches. In v. 2, 
the word "synagogue" is applied to the meeting which is described, 
but that word in Greek means simply "gathering together" — almost 
the same word is used in Heb. 10 : 25. The use of the word by 
James shows simply that at that early time "synagogue" had not 
become purely a technical designation of a non-Christian Jewish 
assembly. 

So interpreted, the passage in James indicates — what might in- 
deed have been expected — that the early Christian meetings were 
not always perfect. A Pharisaical habit of respect of persons and 
desire for the chief seats had crept even into the Church. If 
similar faults appear in modern times, we should not despair, but 
should fight against them in the spirit of James. 

2. CONGREGATIONAL MEETINGS IN THE PAULINE CHURCHES 

With regard to the Pauline churches information about the 
conduct of religious services is far more abundant than it is with 
regard to the churches of Palestine; for we have here the inestimable 
assistance of the Pauline Epistles. The First Epistle to the Co- 
rinthians, especially, is a mine of information; but much can also be 
learned elsewhere. 

(1) The Place of Meeting. — From The Acts it appears that Paul 
regularly began his work in any city by preaching in the Jewish 
synagogue, but that the opposition of the Jews soon made it 
necessary to find another meeting place. Often, a private house, 
belonging to one of the converts, served the purpose. Rom. 16 : 23; 
I Cor. 16 : 19; Col. 4 : 15; Philem. 2. Sometimes there seem to 
have been a number of such house-churches in the same city; yet 
common meetings of all the Christians of the city seem also to be 
presupposed. In Ephesus Paul used for his evangelistic work a 
building or a room belonging to a certain Tyrannus, who was 



246 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

probably a rhetorician. The erection of buildings especially for 
Christian use belongs of course to a considerably later time. 

(2) The Time of Meeting. — The frequency of the meetings does 
not appear, and may well have varied according to circumstances. 
There is some indication, however, that the first day of the week, 
the present Sunday, was especially singled out for religious services. 
I Cor. 16: 2; Acts 20 : 7. The same day is apparently called "the 
Lord's day" in Rev. 1 : 10. 

(3) Temporary Gifts of the Spirit. — In the actual conduct of the 
meetings, some features appear which are not to be observed 
in the modern Church. A number of the gifts discussed in I Cor., 
chs. 12 to 14 — for example, miracles, speaking with tongues, the 
interpretation of tongues, and prophecy in the strict sense — have 
become extinct. The cessation of them need cause no wonder; the 
apostolic age was a time of beginnings, when the Church was being 
established by the immediate exercise of the power of God ;- it is no 
wonder that at such a time the Spirit manifested himself as he did 
not in later generations. There is a fundamental difference be- 
tween the apostolic age and all subsequent periods in the history 
of the Church. 

Nevertheless, all the essential features of our modern church 
services were present from the earliest time about which we have 
detailed information. The example of the apostles is here very 
explicit. 

(4) Scripture-Reading. — In the first place, the Pauline churches 
certainly practiced the reading of the Bible. That would be proved 
sufficiently by the evident familiarity of the Christians with the 
Old Testament Scriptures; for in those days such familiarity would 
undoubtedly be received in large measure by having the Bible read 
aloud. The example of the synagogue would also have its influence. 
It must be remembered that some even of the Gentile converts were 
familiar with the synagogue service before they became Christians. 
But there is also the explicit testimony of I Thess. 5 : 27, Col. 4 : 16. 
There the reading of Pauline Epistles is specifically enjoined. The 
Apocalypse also was clearly intended to be read aloud. Rev. 1:3; 
22 : 18. 

(5) Preaching. — In the second place, there was preaching. No 
doubt this part of the service often took a somewhat different form 
from that which it assumes to-day. Prophecy, for example, was a 
kind of preaching which has been discontinued. The exercise of 
the gift of "teaching" perhaps corresponded more closely to the 



THE CONGREGATION 247 

sermons of the present day; certainly an exposition of the Scripture 
passages read would have been according to the analogy of the 
Jewish synagogue. At any rate, in some form or other, there was 
certainly instruction in the Scriptures and in the gospel, and 
exhortation based upon that instruction. 

(6) Prayer. — In the third place, there was prayer; directions for 
public prayer are given at some length in I Tim., ch. 2; and there 
are indications that prayer was practiced also in the meetings of 
the Corinthian church. See for example, I Cor. 11 : 4, 5. 

(7) Singing. — In the fourth place, there was probably singing, 
though the direct information about this part of the service is slight. 
See, for example, I Cor. 14 : 26. Certainly no elaborate argument is 
necessary in order to exhibit the Scripture warrant for singing in the 
worship of God. Psalms were sung in Old Testament times to an 
instrumental accompaniment, and there is no evidence that the 
customs of the Church were changed in this respect under the new 
dispensation. Indeed, if singing is an expression of joy, it would 
seem to be especially in place after the fulfillment of the promises 
has come. 

3. PAUL'S DIRECTIONS FOR CONGREGATIONAL MEETINGS 

Two features balance each other in Paul's directions for the public 
worship of the Corinthian church. 

(1) The Principle of Freedom. — In the first place he is in full 
sympathy with the freedom and informality that prevailed. There 
seem to have been no set speakers in Corinth ; every man spoke as 
the spirit gave him utterance; the service must have been charac- 
terized by great variety. This variety, Paul says, is not disturb- 
ing, because it finds its higher unity in the Holy Spirit. "There are 
diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit." I Cor. 12:4. 

(2) The Principle of Dignity. — In the second place, however, 
Paul has a strong sense of dignity. The enthusiastic expression of 
religious feeling must not degenerate into anything like a senseless 
orgy; spiritual gifts, however exalted, are not independent of reason. 
"The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets; for God 
is not a God of confusion, but of peace." I Cor. 14 : 32, 33. 
"Let all things be done decently and in order." V. 40. 

Dignity was to be preserved, moreover, not merely in the ordering 
of the service itself, but also in the dress and behavior of those who 
took part. So much at least is clear in the difficult passage, ch. 
11 : 2-16. Apparently the full equality which was granted to 



248 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

women in the Christian life led the women of the Corinthian con- 
gregation to give a kind of expression to their freedom which at 
least at that time was not seemly. Paul detected the danger and 
guarded against it. The lesson always needs to be learned. How- 
ever dignity may be preserved in detail, in any particular country 
and at any particular time, the principle itself should always be 
borne in mind exactly as Paul enunciated it. 

At a later period in the apostolic age, the sense of dignity seems 
to have found expression in a quieter sort of religious service than 
that which prevailed at the time of First Corinthians. The First 
Epistle to Timothy lays great stress upon sobriety and gravity in 
various departments of the life of the Church. 

(3) The Principle of Love. — These two principles — the principle 
of freedom and the principle of dignity — are kept each in its own 
proper place only when they are submitted to the governance of a 
higher principle. That higher principle is love. The ultimate aim 
of congregational meetings, according to Paul, is not the benefit of 
the individual, but the edification of the whole body, and of the 
stranger who may come in. The man who has the principle of 
Christian love in his heart, as it is grandly described in I Cor., 
ch. 13, will never push himself forward in the congregation in such 
a way as to display his own spiritual gifts at the expense of others. 
On the other hand, he will not be inclined to check the operations 
of the Spirit; it is the Spirit alone who can convert the stranger, it 
is the Spirit alone who can build up Christian people in the life of 
faith and hope and love. 

The principle of love is often neglected in the modern Church. 
People say they will not go to church because they get nothing out 
of it. No doubt they are mistaken; no doubt if they did go, the 
benefit would appear clearly in the long run in their own lives. 
But at any rate they have ignored the highest motive altogether. 
We should go to church not only to obtain benefit for ourselves, but 
also, and especially, to benefit our brethren by joining with them in 
worship, in prayer and in instruction. 



In the Library. — Hastings, "Dictionary of the Bible"; Gayford, 
article on "Church"; Adeney, article on "Worship (in N.T.)." Char- 
teris, "The Church of Christ," pp. 44-90. 



LESSON XLV 
THE RELIEF OF THE NEEDY 



In the Student's Text Book, special emphasis was laid upon the 
relief of the needy as it was practiced in the Jerusalem church. 
Here it may be well to supplement what was there said by a some- 
what more detailed treatment of the great collection that was 
undertaken by Paul. The exposition will serve to illustrate the 
apostolic principles of Christian giving. 

1. THE PAULINE COLLECTION ACCORDING TO FIRST 
CORINTHIANS 

(1) The Beginning in Galatia and in Corinth. — Writing from 
Ephesus during his long stay in that city, Acts 19 : 1 to 20 : 1, 
Paul tells the Corinthians that he had already given directions about 
the collection to the churches of Galatia, I Cor. 16:1; he had 
probably done so either during the second visit to Galatia, Acts 
18 : 23, or by letter after his arrival at Ephesus. Now, at any rate, 
he asks the Corinthians — very simply and briefly, and evidently 
presupposing previous information on the part of his readers — to 
prosecute the collection during his absence in order that when he 
should arrive at Corinth everything might be ready. 

(2) Laying in Store on the First Day of the Week. — The manner in 
which the collection was to be managed is exceedingly interesting. 
"Upon the first day of the week," Paul says, "let each one of you 
lay by him in store, as he may prosper." I Cor. 16 : 2. Apparently 
no permanent church treasury was used for the reception of the 
gifts, every man was to save his own money at home, very much as 
private collection barrels are used to-day. The laying up of the 
money, however, was to take place on the first day of the week; 
we have here probably an early trace of the Christian Sabbath. 
Perhaps we may conclude that the act of giving was regarded as a 
part of religious worship. Such a conclusion is at any rate in 
thorough harmony with all that Paul says about the collection. 
Some people seem to feel that the taking of an offering rather mars 
the dignity of a church service. In reality it has that effect only if 

249 



250 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

it is executed in the wrong spirit. Christian giving is treated by 
Paul as a legitimate part of the worship of God. 

(3) The Delegates of the Corinthian Church. — When Paul should 
arrive at Corinth, he was to receive the collection and either send 
or take it to Jerusalem by the help of delegates whom the Co- 
rinthians themselves should choose. The purpose of choosing these 
delegates appears more plainly in Second Corinthians. 

2. THE PAULINE COLLECTION ACCORDING TO SECOND 
CORINTHIANS 

(1) The Situation. — After the writing of the First Epistle to the 
Corinthians, there had followed a period of serious estrangement 
between Paul and the Corinthian church. Naturally enough the 
collection suffered during this period, as did other Christian ac- 
tivities. At the time of Second Corinthians, perhaps about a year 
after the first letter had been written, Paul was obliged to remind his 
readers that although they had begun the work the year before, 
much remained still to be done. II Cor. 8 : 10; 9 : 2. Neverthe- 
less, Titus, during his recent visit to Corinth, when the repentance 
of the church had become manifest, had apparently been able to 
take the matter again in hand. Such seems to be the most probable 
interpretation of ch. 8 : 6; 12 : 18. If Titus did take up the matter 
on the very visit when the rebellion against Paul had been only with 
difficulty quelled, that is a striking indication of the importance 
which Paul and his associates attributed to the collection. It was 
not a matter that could wait until some convenient season; it had 
to be taken in hand vigorously, even perhaps at the risk of mis- 
understanding and suspicion, the very moment when Paul's relation 
to the church became again tolerably good. 

(2) Courtesy of Paul. — Like all of Paul's management of money 
matters, his treatment of the collection is characterized by ad- 
mirable delicacy and tact. Instead of berating the Corinthians 
roundly for their delinquency, as so many modern organizers would 
have done, he seeks to win them over by worthier methods. He 
points, indeed, to the example of the Macedonian Christians, in 
order to fire the zeal of the Corinthians; the poverty of the Mace- 
donian churches had not stood in the way of their liberality; they 
had given up to their power and indeed beyond their power; they 
had given, not of compulsion, but willingly, dedicating themselves 
as well as their goods to the Lord. II Cor. 8 : 1-5. But the Co- 
rinthians are allowed to draw their own conclusion; Paul does not 



THE RELIEF OF THE NEEDY 251 

force it upon them. He does not press the matter home brutally; 
he does not put the Corinthians to shame by expressly pointing out 
how much more generously the poorer Macedonian Christians had 
contributed than they. Indeed he gives his readers full credit; he 
courteously calls their attention to the fact that it was they who had 
made the beginning, v. 10, and that he had been able to boast of 
them to the Macedonians, so that their zeal had stirred up their 
Macedonian brethren. Ch. 9:1,2. He appeals especially to the 
pride that they ought to feel in the boasting which Paul had vent- 
ured upon in their behalf; Paul had boasted to the Macedonians 
that Achaia had been prepared for a year; how sad an end it would 
be to such boasting if Macedonians should go to Corinth with Paul 
and should find that the collection was not ready after all! Paul 
urges the Corinthians not to leave any part of the work until after 
his arrival; if they do, they will put both him and themselves to 
shame. Vs. 1-5. 

With equal delicacy Paul hints that the achievements of the 
Corinthians in other directions ought to be supplemented by this 
grace of giving. The Corinthians, according to the first epistle, 
had been very proud of their power of "utterance" and their 
"knowledge"; to these Paul can now add — after the loyalty of the 
church has finally been established — earnestness and love, II Cor. 

8 : 6-8; but all these excellences will be incomplete unless there is 
also liberality. The Christian life must express itself in the simpler 
graces, if the more conspicuous activities are to be of genuine value. 

(3) No Unfair Burdens to Be Borne. — The delicacy of Paul's 
treatment of the matter is observed also in II Cor. 8 : 10-15; he is 
careful to explain that the Corinthians are not asked to lay unfair 
burdens upon themselves. There should be an equality among 
Christians; it is now time for the Corinthians to give rather than to 
receive, but if circumstances should change they might count on the 
aid of their brethren. Furthermore, no one should be discouraged 
if he can give only a little; "if the readiness is there, it is acceptable 
according as a man hath, not according as he hath not." 

(4) Cheerful Giving. — Paul urges his readers, indeed, to be 
bountiful. "He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; 
and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." II Cor. 

9 : 6. But this bountifulness was to be secured, not by pressing out 
the last cent, but by promoting real cheerfulness in giving. "Let 
each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart: not 
grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." The 



252 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

Pauline method is wisest in the end. Men can seldom be bullied into 
liberality ; they will give liberally only when giving becomes, not a 
mere duty, but a joy. Cheerfulness in giving, moreover, possesses 
a value of its own, quite aside from the amount of the gift; it is a 
true expression of Christian communion. 

(5) The Unity of the Church. — Probably Paul desired to accom- 
plish by the collection something even more important than the 
relief of the Jerusalem poor. Many Palestinian Christians — not 
only extreme Judaizers, but also apparently considerable numbers 
among the rank and file — had been suspicious of the Gentile mission. 
Acts 21 : 20, 21. Such suspicions would be allayed by deeds more 
effectively than by words; a generous offering for the poor of the 
Jerusalem church would show that Jews and Gentiles were really 
united in the bonds of Christian love. II Cor. 9 : 12-14. 

(6) The Glory of God. — Ultimately, however, the purpose of the 
collection, as of all other Christian activities, is to be found, accord- 
ing to Paul, in God. "For the ministration of this service not only 
filleth up the measure of the wants of the saints, but aboundeth also 
through many thanksgivings unto God." The unity of the Church, 
inspiring though it is, is desired, not for its own sake, but for the 
sake of the glory of God. By the simple means of the collection, 
Paul hopes to present a united Church — united in thanksgiving and 
in love — as some poor, human return to him who has granted us 
all the "unspeakable gift" of salvation through his Son. 

(7) Sound Business Methods. — The arrangements which Paul 
made for the administration of the gifts are as instructive in their 
way as are the lofty principles that he applied. In order to avoid 
base suspicions, II Cor. 8 : 20; 12 : 16-18, he determined that 
delegates approved by the Corinthians themselves should carry the 
gifts to Jerusalem, I Cor. 16 : 3, 4, and secured for the prosecution 
of the work in Corinth men who had the full indorsement of the 
churches. II Cor. 8 : 16-24. The lesson is worth learning. It 
will not do to be careless about the money matters of the Church; 
it will not do to say that the Church is above suspicion. Like 
Paul, "we take thought for things honorable, not only in the sight 
of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." In other words, we 
must be not only honorable in managing the money affairs of the 
Church, but also demonstrably honorable. To that end sound 
business methods should always be used. The accounts of the 
Church should be audited, not with less care, but if anything with 
more care, than those of ordinary business enterprises. 



THE RELIEF OF THE NEEDY 253 

3. THE PAULINE COLLECTION ACCORDING TO ROMANS 

In the Epistle to the Romans, written from Corinth a little after 
the time of Second Corinthians, Paul speaks of the collection again. 
Rom. 15 : 22-29, 31. He is on the point of going with the gifts to 
Jerusalem, and asks the Roman Christians to pray that the min- 
istration of the Gentiles may be "acceptable to the saints." There 
is no reason to suppose that such prayers were unanswered; Paul 
was cordially received by the Jerusalem Christians, Acts 21:17-26; 
the trouble which caused his arrest came from non-Christian Jews. 

4. TO WHOM WAS RELIEF EXTENDED? 

(1) Breadth of Christian Sympathy. — The relief of the needy in 
the apostolic Church, as it has been studied in the present lesson, 
concerned, not outsiders, but Christian brethren. This fact 
certainly does not mean that the early Christians were narrow in 
their sympathies; they had received from Jesus the command to 
love their enemies, and the command was reiterated by the apostles. 
Rom. 12 : 20. They were commanded, furthermore, to "work 
that which is good toward all men." Gal. 6 : 10. 

(2) Special Attention to Christian Brethren. — There were reasons, 
however, why such good works should be directed "especially to- 
ward them that are of the household of the faith." 

(a) The Special Rights of Brethren. — In the first place, there was 
a general reason, which applies to all ages. Though the Church has 
a duty to all men, it has a special duty to its own members; for 
Christian people to allow their brethren to starve is as unnatural as 
for a father to neglect a son, or a husband a wife. Community in 
the faith does create a special bond, which should make itself felt 
in all departments of life. 

It should be observed that in the matter of the collection Paul 
takes altogether for granted the right of the poor saints to the support 
of the Church. He does not think it worth while to go into details 
about the suffering of the Jerusalem poor; he does not attempt to 
play upon the sympathies of his readers; he does not patronizingly 
represent the recipients of the bounty as paupers. Indeed, the 
Jerusalem Christians, he tells the Romans, though they are re- 
ceiving material aid, are not really debtors, but rather creditors. 
"If the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, 
they owe it to them also to minister unto them in carnal things." 
Rom. 15 : 27. This attitude toward poorer Christians is worthy of 
all emulation. Aid to the brethren is not "chanty," in the degraded 



254 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

sense which that fine word has unfortunately assumed, but a solemn 
and yet joyful duty. It should never be undertaken in a patronizing 
spirit, but in a spirit of love that multiplies the value of the gift. 

(b) Avoidance of Idleness in the Church. — On the other hand, 
however, the apostolic Church did not encourage begging or 
pauperism. What the special reason was for the poverty of the 
Jerusalem church we do not know. Perhaps many of the Jerusalem 
Christians had been obliged to leave their homes in Galilee and in 
the Dispersion. At any rate, we may assume that the poverty of the 
church was not due to idleness. In the Thessalonian epistles Paul 
takes occasion to warn his converts against an idle life; they are to 
do their own business and work with their hands; "if any will not 
work, neither let him eat." I Thess. 4 : 10-12; II Thess. 3 : 6-15. 
Certainly Paul was the best example of such diligence; despite his 
wonderful gifts and lofty duties he had made himself independent 
by manual labor. In the First Epistle to Timothy, moreover, 
particular precautions are taken against allowing the bounty of the 
Church to be abused. I Tim. 5 : 3-16. The treatment of the poor 
in the apostolic Church exhibits everywhere an admirable com- 
bination of common sense with lofty idealism. 

(c) Conditions in the Apostolic Church and Conditions To-day. — 
If the gifts of the apostolic Church were devoted chiefly to Christian 
brethren rather than to outsiders, that is no justification for such 
limitation to-day. In the apostolic age there were special reasons 
why the Church could not often deal extensively with the material 
needs of the world at large. The Church was exceedingly poor; 
many of the converts probably suffered serious losses by the very 
fact of their being Christians; under such conditions the first duty 
was obviously at home. Conditions to-day are widely different. 
The Church has become wealthy ; she is well able to extend her minis- 
trations far and wide. Only by unlimited breadth of service will she 
really be true to the example of Jesus and of his first disciples; only 
by universal helpfulness will she be true to her great commission. 



In The Library. — Uhlhorn, "Christian Charity in the Ancient 
Church." Brace, "Gesta Christi," pp. 93-105. Charteris, "The 
Church of Christ," pp. 91-129. 



LESSON XLVI 
ORGANIZING FOR SERVICE 



Whatever the organization of a body of Christians may be, the 
body itself is a true branch of the Church if it consists of those who 
believe in Christ. Nevertheless, if the Church is to be more than 
an aggregation of individuals, if it is not only to be something, but 
also to do something, it requires some sort of organization. This 
fundamental need was clearly recognized in the apostolic age; and 
it was met by certain provisions which we believe ought still to be 
followed. These provisions, however, do not amount to anything 
like an elaborate constitution; they do not hinder adaptation to 
changing conditions. 

1. ELDERS ACCORDING TO THE PASTORAL EPISTLES 

In the Pastoral Epistles, which afford more detailed information 
about organization than is to be found anywhere else in the New 
Testament, the government of the local church is seen to be in- 
trusted to a body of "elders," with whom "deacons" are asso- 
ciated. No one of the elders, so far as can be detected, pos- 
sessed authority at all different in kind from the authority of 
the others; all had the function of ruling; all were "overseers" or 
"bishops" of the church. 

The functions of the elders are not described in detail; but evi- 
dently they had a general oversight over the affairs of the con- 
gregation. That is the meaning of the word "bishop" as it is 
applied to them. Some of them at least also labored "in the word 
and in teaching," but all seem to have been alike in their function 
of bearing rule. 

2. ELDERS ACCORDING TO THE PRESBYTERIAN FORM 
OF GOVERNMENT 

The similarity of such an arrangement to our own Presbyterian 
form of government is plain. Our churches also are governed not 
by an individual, but by a body of "elders" who are equal to one 
another in authority. Changing conditions have of course intro- 

255 



256 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

duced elaboration of the simple apostolic model. Thus the teach- 
ing function, for example, which in apostolic times was perhaps 
exercised more or less informally by those of the elders who 
possessed the gifts for it, is now naturally assigned for the most 
part to men who have received a special training. These "teaching 
elders" in our church are the ministers. Conditions have become 
so complex that men of special training, who devote their whole 
time to the work of the Church, are imperatively required. The 
pastors and teachers, Eph. 4:11, even in the apostolic Church, 
seem to have formed a fairly definite group. This class of gifts is 
exercised to-day especially by the ministers, though similar func- 
tions should also be exercised by other members of the Church. 

3. HOW WERE ELDERS TO BE CHOSEN? 

With regard to the government of the apostolic Church a number 
of interesting questions can never be definitely answered. For 
example, how were the elders to be chosen? 

(1) Sometimes Appointed by the Apostles. — Such passages as 
Acts 14 : 23; Titus 1 : 5, do not settle the question. According to 
the former passage, elders were appointed in the churches of south- 
ern Galatia by Paul and Barnabas. But it must be remembered 
that the authority of the apostles was peculiar and temporary. 
Because the apostles had power to appoint elders it does not follow 
that any individuals at a later time would possess a similar power. 
The situation, at the time of the first Christian mission, was 
peculiar; small bodies of Christians had just been rescued from 
heathenism; at first they would need a kind of guidance which could 
afterwards safely be withdrawn. According to Titus 1:5, Titus 
was to appoint elders in the churches of Crete. But clearly Titus, 
like Timothy, was merely a special and temporary representative 
of the apostle Paul ; for Titus to appoint elders, under the definite 
direction of Paul, was no more significant than for Paul to appoint 
them himself. 

(2) The Right of Congregational Election. — On the whole, it may 
be confidently maintained that the Presbyterian method of choosing 
elders — namely the method of election by the whole congregation — 
is more in accordance with the spirit of apostolic precedent than 
any other method that has been proposed. Throughout the 
apostolic Church, the congregation was evidently given a very large 
place in all departments of the Christian life. The Jerusalem 
congregation, for example, had a decisive voice in choosing the very 



ORGANIZING FOR SERVICE 257 

first Church officers who are known to have been added to the 
apostles. Acts 6 : 2-6. In Thessalonica and in Corinth the whole 
congregation was active in the matter of church discipline. II 
Thess. 3 : 14, 15; I Cor. 5 : 3-5; II Cor. 2 : 6. The whole congrega- 
tion was also invited to choose delegates for carrying the gifts of the 
Corinthian church to Jerusalem. I Cor. 16 : 3. These are merely 
examples. It must be remembered, moreover, that the authority 
of the congregation in the apostolic age was limited by the authority 
of the apostles, which was special and temporary; when the apostles 
should be removed, the congregational functions would be in- 
creased. Yet even the apostles were exceedingly careful not to 
destroy the liberties of the rank and file. Nowhere in the apostolic 
Church were the ordinary church members treated as though they 
were without rights and without responsibilities. Indeed, even 
w r hen the apostles appointed elders, they may have previously 
ascertained the preferences of the people. 

4. THE APOSTOLIC PRECEDENT AND DEPARTURES FROM IT 

The presbyterial form of church government — that is, govern- 
ment by a body of elders — which is found in the apostolic age, differs 
strikingly from certain later developments. In several particulars, 
at least, principles have become prevalent which are at variance 
with the apostolic model. 

(l) The Monarchical Episcopate. — The first particular concerns 
the relation of the church officers to one another. In the apostolic 
Church, as we have observed, there was a parity among the elders; 
the local congregation was governed, not by an individual, but by a 
body. As early, however, as the first part of the second century, a 
change had taken place, at least in many of the churches. The 
supreme authority had come to be held by an individual, called 
"bishop"; all other officers were clearly subordinate to him; the 
government of the local congregation was no longer presbyterial, 
but monarchical; the so-called "monarchical episcopate" had been 
formed. 

This state of affairs appears clearly in the epistles of Ignatius, 
which were written a short time before A. D. 117. But all attempts 
to find traces of the monarchical episcopate in the apostolic age 
have resulted in failure. The Greek word episcopos, which is trans- 
lated in the English Bible — rather misleadingly, perhaps — by 
"bishop," is applied, not to a special officer standing above the 
elders, but simply to the elders themselves. "Elder" designates 

Sen. T. III. 4. 



e58 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

the office; episcopos designates one function of the office. The 
latter word could hardly have been used in this general way if it 
had already acquired its technical significance. 

The efforts which have been made to discover references to the 
office of bishop in the apostolic age are unconvincing. It is ex- 
ceedingly doubtful whether the "angels" of the seven churches to 
which messages are sent in the Apocalypse are to be regarded as 
church officers; and even if they were church officers it is by no 
means clear that they exercised the functions of bishops. Un- 
doubtedly Timothy and Titus appear in the Pastoral Epistles with 
functions similar in many respects to those of bishops, but it is also 
clear that they exercised those functions, not as officers of the 
Church who might have successors, but merely as temporary 
representatives of the apostle Paul. 

(2) The Priesthood of the Clergy. — An even more important 
divergence from apostolic conditions concerns the functions of the 
church officers. According to a theory which has become widely 
prevalent, certain officers of the Church are to be regarded as 
"priests" — that is, they are mediators between God and man. 
Curiously enough the English word "priest," is nothing but another 
form of the word "presbyter," which means "elder"; "presbyter" is 
only "priest" "writ large." In actual usage, however, "priest" means 
vastly more than "presbyter"; it designates a man who represents 
men to God and mediates God's actions to men. So understood, 
the term is never applied in the New Testament to church officers as 
such. According to the New Testament, the only priest (in the 
strict sense) under the new dispensation is Christ; Christ is the only 
mediator between God and man, I Tim. 2:5; the high-priesthood 
of Christ is elaborated in the Epistle to the Hebrews. In another 
sense, indeed, all believers are priests, I Peter 2 : 5, 9; Rev. 1:6; 
5 : 10; 20 : 6; all have the right of direct access to God; all are 
devoted to a holy service. The idea of a special priesthood in the 
Christian Church is strikingly at variance with the apostolic 
teaching. 

(3) Apostolic Succession. — Another point of variance concerns 
the manner in which the officers of the Church should receive their 
authority. By a theory prevalent in the Church of England and 
in the Protestant Episcopal Church in America as well as in the 
Greek and Roman Catholic Churches, the authority of the clergy 
has been received through an unbroken line of transmission from 
the apostles; the immediate successors of the apostles received the 



ORGANIZING FOR SERVICE 259 

right of handing down the commission to others, and so on 
through the centuries; without an ordination derived in this way 
no one can be a ruler in the true Church; and without submission 
to such regularly ordained rulers no body of persons can con- 
stitute a branch of the true Church. This theory places a tremen- 
dous power in the hands of a definite body of persons whose moral 
qualifications for wielding that power are often more than doubt- 
ful. Surely so stupendous a claim can be made good only by 
the clear pronouncement of a recognized authority. 

Such a pronouncement is not to be found in the New Testament. 
There is not the slightest evidence to show that the apostles pro- 
vided for a transmission of their authority through a succession of 
persons. On the contrary, their authority seems to have been 
special and temporary, like the miraculous powers with which they 
were endowed. The regular church officers who were appointed 
in the apostolic age evidently possessed no apostolic authority; 
however chosen, they were essentially representatives of the con- 
gregation. A true branch of the Church could exist, at least in 
theory, without any officers at all, wherever true believers were to- 
gether; the Church did not depend upon the officers, but the officers 
upon the Church. 

5. RELATIONS OF THE CONGREGATIONS TO ONE ANOTHER 

So far, the organization of the apostolic Church has been con- 
sidered only in so far as it concerned the individual congregation; a 
word must now be said about the relation of the congregations to one 
another. 

That relation, in the apostolic age, was undoubtedly very close. 
The Pauline Epistles, in particular, give an impression of active in- 
tercourse among the churches. The Thessalonian Christians "be- 
came an ensample to all that believe in Macedonia and in Achaia"; 
the story of their conversion became known "in every place." 
I Thess. 1 : 7-10. In the matter of the collection, Macedonia 
stirred up Achaia, and Achaia Macedonia. II Cor. 8 : 1-6; 9 : 1-4. 
The faith of the Roman Christians was "proclaimed throughout the 
whole world." Rom. 1 : 8. Judea heard of the missionary labors 
of Paul, Gal. 1 : 21-24; fellowship between Jews and Gentiles was 
maintained by the collection for the Jerusalem saints. Evidently 
the apostolic Church was animated by a strong sense of unity. 

This feeling of unity was maintained especially by the instru- 
mentality of the apostles, who, with their helpers, traveled from one 



260 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

congregation to another, and exerted a unifying authority over all. 
Certainly there was nothing like a universal Church council; 
Christian fellowship was maintained in a thoroughly informal way. 
In order that such fellowship should be permanent, however, there 
would obviously be an increasing need for some sort of official union 
among the congregations. When the apostles passed away, their 
place would have to be taken by representative assemblies; in- 
creasing complexity of life brought increasing need of organization. 
The representative assemblies of our own Church, therefore, meet 
an obvious need; and both in their free, representative character 
and in their unifying purpose it may fairly be claimed that they are 
true to the spirit of the apostolic age. 

6. PRINCIPLES 

The apostolic precedent with regard to organization should 
always be followed in spirit as well as in form. Three principles, 
especially, are to be observed in the Church organization of the 
apostolic age. In the first place, there was considerable freedom 
in details. No Christian who had gifts of any kind was ordinarily 
prevented from exercising them. In the second place, there was 
respect for the constituted authority, whatever it might be. Such 
respect, moreover, was not blind devotion to a ruling class, but 
the respect which is ennobled by love. Finally, in Church organi- 
zation, as in all the affairs of life, what was regarded as really 
essential was the presence of the Holy Spirit. When Timothy 
laid his hands upon a new elder, the act signified the bestowal of, 
or the prayer for, divine favor. This last lesson, especially, needs 
to be learned to-day. Without the grace of God, the best of 
Church organizations is mere machinery without power. 



In The Library. — Davis, "Dictionary of the Bible": articles on 
"Elder," "Deacon," "Deaconess," "Laying on of Hands." Hastings, 
"Dictionary of the Bible": Gayford, article on "Church"; Gwatkin, 
article on "Church Government in the Apostolic Age." Lightfoot, 
"The Christian Ministry," in "Saint Paul's Epistle to the Philippians," 
pp. 181-269, and in "Dissertations on the Apostolic Age," pp. 135-238. 
Charteris, "The Church of Christ," pp. 1-43, 130-170, 205-239. 
Falconer, " From Apostle to Priest." MacPherson, " Presbyterianism" 
(in "Handbooks for Bible Classes"). 



LESSON XLVII 
A MISSION FOR THE WORLD 



1. JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY 

In teaching the lesson in class, it might be well simply to review 
the principal steps in the geographical extension of the apostolic 
Church. This geographical advance, however, was made possible 
only by an advance in principles which should not be ignored. The 
really great step in the early Christian mission was not the progress 
from Jerusalem to Antioch, or from Antioch to Asia Minor and to 
Greece, but the progress from a national to a universal religion. 
Judaism, despite its missionary activity, always identified the 
Church more or less closely with the nation; it was a distinctly- 
national religion. Full union with it meant the abandonment of 
one's own racial and national relationships. 

(1) Limitations of Judaism. — The national character of Judaism 
was an insurmountable hindrance to the Jewish mission. Despite 
the hindrance, it is true, Judaism achieved important conquests; 
it won many adherents throughout the Greco-Roman world. 
These missionary achievements undoubtedly form an eloquent 
testimony to the power of Israel's faith; despite those features of 
Jewish custom which were repulsive to the Gentile mind, the belief 
in the one true God and the lofty ethical ideal of the Old Testament 
Scriptures possessed an irresistible attraction for many earnest 
souls. Nevertheless, so long as Jewish monotheism and Jewish 
ethics were centered altogether in the life of a very peculiar people, 
they could never really succeed in winning the nations of the world. 

(2) Apparent Identity of Judaism and Christianity. — At first it 
looked as though Christianity were to share in the limitation; it 
looked as though the disciples of Jesus formed merely a Jewish sect. 
Undoubtedly they would bring the Jewish people to a loftier faith 
and to a purer life; they would themselves become better and nobler 
Jews; but Jews they would apparently always remain. 

(3) The Great Transition. — Before many years had passed, how- 
ever, the limitation was gloriously transcended. Christianity was 
no longer bound to Judaism. It became a religion for the world, 

261 



262 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

within whose capacious borders there was room for every nation 
and every race. How was the transition accomplished? 

It was not accomplished by any contemptuous repudiation of the 
age-long exclusiveness of Israel. Such repudiation would have 
involved the discrediting of the Old Testament, and to the Old 
Testament the Church was intensely loyal. Jewish particularism 
had been ordered of God ; the Scriptures were full of warnings against 
any mingling of the chosen people with its neighbors. Jehovah had 
made of Israel a people alone; he had planted it in an inaccessible 
hill country, remote from the great currents of the world's thought 
and life; he had preserved its separateness even amid the changing 
fortunes of captivity and war. Salvation was to be found only in 
Israel; Israel was the chosen people. 

The Church never abandoned this view of Israelitish history. 
Yet for herself she transcended the particularism that it involved. 
She did so in a very simple way — merely by recognizing that a new 
era had begun. In the old era, particularism had a rightful place; 
it was no mere prejudice, but a divine ordinance. But now, in the 
age of the Messiah, particularism had given place to universalism; 
the religion of Israel had become a religion of the world. What 
had formerly been right had now become wrong; God himself had 
ushered in a new and more glorious dispensation. Particularism, 
in the divine economy, had served a temporary, though beneficent, 
purpose; God had separated Israel from the world in order that the 
precious deposit of Israel's faith, pure of all heathen alloy, might 
finally be given freely to all. 

The recognition of this wonderful new dispensation of God was 
accomplished in two ways. 

2. THE DIVINE GUIDANCE 

In the first place, it was accomplished by the direct command of 
the Holy Spirit. The first preaching to Gentiles was undertaken 
not because the missionaries understood why it should be done, but 
simply because God commanded. 

(1) Philip. — For example, when Philip preached to the Ethiopian 
— who was not in the strictest sense a member of the Jewish people — 
he was acting not in accordance with any reflection of his own — a 
desert road was a very unlikely place for missionary service — but 
under the plain and palpable guidance of the Spirit. What is em- 
phasized in the whole narrative is the strange, unaccountable 
character of Philip's movements; evidently his actions at such a 



A MISSION FOR THE WORLD 263 

time were not open to criticism ; what Philip did God did ; if Philip 
preached to an outsider, such preaching was God's will. Acts 8 : 
26-40. 

(2) Cornelius. — In the case of the conversion of Cornelius and 
his friends, Acts 10 : 1 to 11 : 18, the divine warrant was just as 
plain. Both Cornelius and Peter acted altogether in accordance 
with God's guidance. On the housetop, Peter's scruples were 
unmistakably overcome. "What God hath cleansed," he was told, 
"make not thou common." Peter did not fully comprehend the 
strange command that he should eat what the law forbade, and it 
was not explained to him; but at least the command was a command 
of God, and must certainly be obeyed. The meaning of the vision 
became clear when Cornelius' house was entered; a Gentile had 
evidently been granted the offer of the gospel. God was no re- 
specter of persons. Finally the Holy Spirit fell on all the Gentiles 
who heard the message; they spake with tongues as the disciples 
had done at the first. That was the crowning manifestation of 
God's will. There was no reason to wait for circumcision or union 
with the people of Israel. "Can any man forbid the water," 
said Peter, "that these should not be baptized, who have received 
the Holy Spirit as well as we?" Acts 10 : 47. All opposition was 
broken down; only one conclusion was possible; the Jerusalem 
Christians "glorified God, saying, Then to the Gentiles also hath 
God granted repentance unto life." Acts 11 : 18. 

(3) The Grace of God in the Gentile Mission. — Scarcely less 
palpable was the divine guidance in the subsequent developments 
of the Gentile mission. After the momentous step of certain un- 
named Jews of Cyprus and Cyrene, who founded the church at 
Antioch, Barnabas had no difficulty in recognizing the grace of God. 
Acts 11 : 23. Not suspicion, but only gladness, was in place. 
When Paul and Barnabas returned from the first Gentile mission, 
they could report to the Antioch church that God had plainly 
"opened a door of faith unto the Gentiles." Ch. 14 : 27. If 
God had opened, who could close? At the apostolic council, in 
the very face of bitter opposition, the same great argument was 
used. The missionaries simply "rehearsed all things that God 
had done with them," ch. 15 : 4, especially "what signs and wonders 
God had wrought among the Gentiles through them." V. 12. 
There was only one thing to be done; the Gentile mission must be 
accepted with gladness as a gift of God; he that wrought for Peter 
unto the apostleship of the circumcision wrought for Paul also unto 



264 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

the Gentiles, Gal. 2:8; James and Peter and John could recognize, 
both in the Gentile mission and in the inner life of the chief mis- 
sionary, the plainest possible manifestation of the grace of God. 
V. 9. 

3. REASONS FOR GENTILE FREEDOM 

The Church transcended the bounds of Judaism, then, primarily 
because of a direct command of God. Such commands must be 
obeyed whether they are understood or not. As a matter of fact, 
however, God did not leave the matter in such an unsatisfactory 
state; he revealed not only his will, but also the reason for it; he 
showed not only that the Gentiles must be received into the Church, 
but also why they must be received. The essence of the gospel 
had demanded Gentile freedom from the beginning; the justifica- 
tion of that freedom at the bar of reason, therefore, brought a 
clearer understanding of the gospel itself. 

Two contrasts, at least, enabled the Church to explain the reason 
why the Gentiles could be saved without becoming Jews. The 
first was the contrast between faith and works, between grace 
and the law; the second was the contrast between the type and the 
thing typified. The former was revealed especially to Paul; the 
latter to the author of Hebrews. 

(1) The Law and Grace. — Salvation through Christ, according to 
Paul, is an absolutely free gift. It cannot be earned ; it must simply 
be received. In other words, it comes not by works, but by faith. 
The law of God, on the other hand, of which the Mosaic law was 
the clearest embodiment, offers a different means of obtaining 
God's favor. It simply presents a series of commandments, and 
offers salvation on condition that they be obeyed. But the trouble 
is, the commandments, since the fall, cannot be obeyed; everyone 
has incurred deadly guilt through his disobedience; the power of the 
flesh is too strong. At that point, however, God intervened. He 
offered Christ as a sacrifice for sin that all believers might have a 
fresh start; and he bestowed the Spirit of the living Christ that all 
might have strength to lead a new life. But Christ will do every- 
thing or nothing. A man must take his choice. There are only 
two ways of obtaining salvation — the perfect keeping of the law, or 
the simple, unconditional acceptance of what Christ has done. 
The first is excluded because of sin; the second has become a glorious 
reality in the Church. 

If, however, salvation is through the free gift of Christ, then the 
law religion has been superseded. All those features of the law 



A MISSION FOR THE WORLD 265 

which were intended to make the law palpable, as a set of external 
rules, are abrogated. The Christian, indeed, performs the will of 
God — in the deepest sense Christianity only confirms the law — but 
he performs it, not by slavish obedience to a complex of external 
commandments, but by willing submission to the Spirit of God. 

Of course, the religion of the Old Testament was not, according 
to Paul, purely a law religion ; on the contrary Paul quotes the Old 
Testament in support of faith. But there was a law element in the 
Old Testament; and the law served merely a temporary, though 
beneficent, purpose. It was intended to deepen the sense of sin 
and hopelessness, in order that finally salvation might be sought 
not in man's way but in God's. The new order at length has come; 
in Christ we are free men, and should never return to the former 
bondage. The middle wall of partition has been done away; the 
ordinances of the law no longer separate Jew and Gentile; all alike 
have access through one Saviour unto God, all alike receive power 
through the Holy Spirit to live a life of holiness and love. 

(2) The Type and the Fulfillment. — The contrast which was 
worked out in the Epistle to the Hebrews was especially a contrast 
between the sign and the thing signified. The ceremonial law, 
which had separated Jew from Gentile, was intended to point 
forward to Christ; and now that the fulfillment has come, what 
further need is there of the old types and symbols? Christ is the 
great High Priest; by him all alike can enter into the holy place. 

(3) The Meaning of the Gospel. — The transition from Jewish 
Christianity, with all the difficulties of that transition, led finally 
to a deeper understanding of the gospel. It showed once for all 
that the salvation of the Christians is a free gift. "Just as I am, 
without one plea but that thy blood was shed for me" — these 
words are a good summary of the result of the Judaistic controversy. 
The transition showed, furthermore, what had really been felt from 
the beginning, that Christ was the one and all-sufficient Lord. 
When he was present, no other priest, and no other sacrifice was 
required. That is the truly missionary gospel — the gospel that 
will finally conquer the world. 



In the Library. — Orr, "Neglected Factors in the Study of the 
Early Progress of Christianity" and "The Early Church." George 
Smith, "Short History of Christian Missions" (in "Handbooks for 
Bible Classes"). 



LESSON XLVIII 
THE CHRISTIAN IDEAL OF PERSONAL MORALITY 



In treating the lesson for to-day, the teacher will be embarrassed 
by the wealth of his material. It is important, therefore, that the 
chief purpose of the lesson should not be lost amid a mass of details. 
That chief purpose is the presentation of Christianity as something 
that has a very definite and immediate bearing upon daily life. 
Christianity is first of all a piece of good news, a record of something 
that has happened; but the effect of it, if it be sincerely received, 
is always manifest in holy living. 

1. THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS 

In the Student's Text Book, little attempt was made at detailed 
analysis of the apostolic ideal. The defect should be supplied by 
careful attention to the 'Topics for Study," and also, if possible, by 
the treatment of the lesson in class. First of all, however, it 
should be observed how naturally the apostolic presentation of the 
ideal grows out of the teaching of Jesus. The advance which 
revelation made after the close of Jesus' earthly ministry concerned 
the fuller explanation of the means by which the moral ideal is to 
be attained rather than additional exposition of the ideal itself. 
That does not mean that the apostles did no more, in the field of 
ethics, than quote the words of Jesus; indeed there seem to be sur- 
prisingly few direct quotations of the words of Jesus in the apostolic 
writings ; the ethical teaching of the apostolic Church was no mere 
mechanical repetition of words, but a profound application of 
principles. Nevertheless the teaching of Jesus was absolutely 
fundamental; without an examination of it, the moral life of the 
apostolic Church cannot be fully understood. 

(1) The Inexorableness of the Law. — Jesus had insisted, for ex- 
ample, upon the inexorableness of the law of God. To the keeping 
of God's commandments everything else must be sacrificed. "If 
thy right eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it 
from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members 
should perish, and not thy whole body be cast into hell." Matt. 
5:29. In this respect the apostles were true disciples of their 

266 



CHRISTIAN IDEAL OF PERSONAL MORALITY 267 

Master. The Christian, they insisted, must be absolutely ruthless; 
he must be willing to sacrifice everything he has for moral purity. 

This ruthlessness, however, this thoroughgoing devotion to 
moral purity, did not mean in the teaching of Jesus, any more 
than in that of the apostles, that under ordinary conditions the 
Christian ought to withdraw from the simple pleasures that the 
world offers. Jesus himself took his place freely at feasts; so far 
was he from leading a stern, ascetic life that his enemies could 
even accuse him of being a winebibber and a friend of publicans 
and sinners. The fidelity with which the apostles followed this 
part of their Master's example has been pointed out in the 
Student's Text Book. The enjoyable things of the earth are not 
evil in themselves; they are to be received with thanksgiving as 
gifts of the heavenly Father, and then dedicated to his service. 

(2) The Morality of the Heart. — Furthermore, Jesus, as well as 
his apostles, emphasized the inwardness of the moral law. Here 
again the apostolic Church was faithful to Jesus' teaching. The 
seat of sin was placed by the apostles in the very center of a man's 
life; the flesh and the Spirit wage their warfare in the battle field 
of the heart. See, for example, Gal. 5: 16-24. 

2. CONTRASTS 

The sharp difference between the Christian life and the life of the 
world was set forth in the apostolic teaching by means of various 
contrasts. 

(1) Death and Life. — In the first place, there was the contrast 
between death and life. The man of the world, according to the 
apostles, is not merely ill; he is morally and spiritually dead. Col. 
2 : 13; Eph. 2 : 1, 5. There is no hope for him in his old existence; 
that existence is merely a death in life. But God is One who can 
raise the dead ; and as he raised Jesus from the tomb on the third 
day, so he raises those who belong to Jesus from the deadness of 
their sins; he implants in them a new life in which they can bring 
forth fruits unto God. A moral miracle, according to the New 
Testament, stands at the beginning of Christian experience. That 
miracle was called by Jesus himself, as well as by the apostles, a new 
birth or "regeneration." It is no work of man; only God can 
raise the dead. See John 1 : 13; 3 : 1-21; I John 2 : 29; I Peter 
1 :3, 23. 

(2) Darkness and Light. — The contrast between darkness and 
light, also, was common to the teaching of Jesus and that of his 



C68 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

apostles. It appears particularly in the Gospel of John, but there 
are also clear traces of it in the Synoptists, Matt. 5 : 14-16; the 
righteous are "the sons of the light." Luke 16:8. In the writings 
of the apostles the contrast appears in many forms. "Ye are all 
sons of light," said Paul, "and sons of the day: we are not of the 
night, nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep, as do the rest, but 
let us watch and be sober." I Thess. 5:5, 6. "Ye were once 
darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light." 
Eph. 5 : 8. God has called us "out of darkness into his marvellous 
light." I Peter 2 : 9. The contrast serves admirably to represent 
the honesty and openness and cleanness of the true Christian life. 

(3) Flesh and Spirit. — An even more important contrast is the 
contrast of flesh and Spirit, which is expounded especially by Paul. 
"Flesh" in this connection means something more than the bodily 
side of human nature; it means human nature as a whole, so far 
as it is not subjected to God. "Spirit" also means something more 
than might be supposed on a superficial examination. It does not 
mean the spiritual, as distinguished from the material, side of 
human nature; but the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. The war- 
fare, therefore, between the flesh and the Spirit, which is mentioned 
so often in the Pauline Epistles, is a warfare between sin and God. 

The flesh, according to Paul, is a mighty power, which is too 
strong for the human will. It is impossible for the natural man to 
keep the law of God. "I know," says Paul, "that in me, that is, 
in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, 
but to do that which is good is not. . . I find then the law, that, 
to me who would do good, evil is present. For I delight in the law 
of God after the inward man: but I see a different law in my mem- 
bers, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into 
captivity under the law of sin which is in my members." Rom. 
7 : 18, 21-23. In this recognition of the power of sin in human life, 
Paul has laid his finger upon one of the deepest facts in human 
experience. 

The way of escape, however, has been provided; sin has been 
conquered in two aspects. 

It has been conquered, in the first place, in its guilt. Without 
that conquest, everything else would be useless. The dreadful 
subjection to the power of sin, which becomes so abundantly plain 
in evil habit, was itself a punishment for sin; before the effect can 
be destroyed, the guilt which caused it must be removed. It has 
been removed by the sacrifice of Christ. Christ has died for us, 



CHRISTIAN IDEAL OF PERSONAL MORALITY 269 

the Just for the unjust; through his death we have a fresh start, 
in the favor of God, with the guilty past wiped out. 

Sin has been conquered, in the second place, in its power. To- 
gether with the very implanting of faith in our hearts, the Holy 
Spirit has given us a new life, a new power, by which we can per- 
form the works of God. A mighty warfare, indeed, is yet before 
us; but it is fought with the Spirit's help, and by the Spirit it 
will finally be won. 

(4) The Old Man and the New. — As the contrast between the 
flesh and the Spirit was concerned with the causes of the Christian's 
escape from sin, so the contrast now to be considered is concerned 
with the effects of that escape. The Christian, according to Paul, 
has become a new man in Christ; the old man has been destroyed. 
The Gentiles, he says, are darkened in their understanding, and 
alienated from God. Eph. 4: 17-19. "But ye did not- so learn 
Christ; if so be that ye heard him, and were taught in him, even as 
truth is in Jesus: that ye put away, as concerning your former 
manner of life, the old man, that waxeth corrupt after the lusts of 
deceit; and that ye be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put 
on the new man, that after God hath been created in righteousness 
and holiness of truth." Vs. 20-24. Compare Col. 3 : 5-11. This 
putting on of the new man is included in what Paul elsewhere calls 
putting on Christ. Gal. 3 : 27; Rom. 13 : 14. The true Christian 
has clothed himself with Christ; the lineaments of the old sinful 
nature have been transformed into the blessed features of the 
Master; look upon the Christian, and what you see is Christ! This 
change has been wrought by Christ himself; "it is no longer I that 
live," says Paul, "but Christ liveth in me"; Christ finds expression 
in the life of the Christian. It is noteworthy, however, that the 
"putting on" of Christ, which in Gal. 3 : 27 is represented as an ac- 
complished fact, is in Rom. 13 : 14 inculcated as a duty. It has 
been accomplished already in principle — in his sacrificial death, 
Christ has already taken our place in the sight of God — but the 
practical realization of it in conduct is the lifelong task which 
every earnest disciple, aided by the Holy Spirit, must prosecute 
with might and main. 

3. THE NEW MAN 

Details in the character of the "new man," as they are revealed 
in the apostolic writings, can here be treated only very briefly. 
(1) Honesty. — Certainly the Christian, according to the apostles, 



270 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

must be honest. Honesty is the foundation of the virtues; without 
it everything else is based upon the sand. Nothing could exceed 
the fine scorn which the New Testament heaps upon anything like 
hypocrisy or deceit. The Epistle of James, in particular, is a 
plea for profound reality in all departments of life. Away with all 
deceit! The Christian life is to be lived in the full blaze of God's 
sunlight. 

Many hours could be occupied in the class with the applications 
of honesty under modern conditions. Student life, for example, is 
full of temptations to dishonesty. To say nothing of out-and-out 
cheating, there are a hundred ways in which the fine edge of honor 
can be blunted. In business life, also, temptations are many; and 
indeed no one can really escape the test. The apostolic example 
deserves to be borne in mind; Christian honesty ought to be more 
than the honesty of the world. 

(2) Purity. — In the second place, the apostolic Church presents 
an ideal of purity, purity in thought as well as in word and deed. 
The ideal must have seemed strange to the degraded populations 
of Corinth and Ephesus; but it is also sadly needed to-day. Let 
us not deceive ourselves. He who would hold fellowship with 
Christ must put away impurity; Christ is the holy One. Purity, 
however, is to be attained not by unaided human effort, but by 
the help of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit, if he be admitted to 
the heart, will purge it of unclean thoughts. 

(3) Patience and Bravery. — In the third place, patience and 
humility are prominent in the Christian ideal. These virtues are 
coupled, however, with the most vigorous bravery. There is 
nothing weak or sickly or sentimental about the Christian character. 
"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." 
I Cor. 16 : 13. 

(4) Love. — The summation of the Christian ideal is love. Love, 
however, is more than a benevolent desire. It includes purity and 
heroism as well as helpfulness. In order to love in the Christian 
sense, one must attain "unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of 
the stature of the fulness of Christ." Eph. 4 : 13. 



In the Library. — Hastings, "Dictionary of the Bible": Strong, 
article on "Ethics" (II). Kilpatrick, "Christian Character." Bruce, 
"The Formation of Christian Character." Luthardt, "Apologetic 
Lectures on the Moral Truths of Christianity." 



LESSON XLIX 
CHRISTIANITY AND HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS 



1. THE PROBLEM 

Two apparently contradictory features appear in the life of the 
apostolic Church. In the first place, there was an intense other- 
Vvorldliness; the Christians were regarded as citizens of a heavenly 
kingdom. In the second place, there was careful attention to the 
various relationships of the present life; no man was excused from 
homely duty. The two sides of the picture appear in the sharpest 
colors in the life of the apostle Paul. No one emphasized more 
strongly than he the independence of the Christian life with refer- 
ence to the world ; all Christians, whether their worldly station be 
high or low, are alike in the sight of God ; the Church operates 
with entirely new standards of value. Yet on the other hand, in 
his actual dealing with the affairs of this world Paul observed the 
most delicate tact; and in all history it is difficult to find a man 
with profounder natural affections. Where is there, for example, a 
more passionate expression of patriotic feeling than that which is 
to be found in Rom. 9:3? "I could wish that I myself were 
anathema from Christ for my brethren's sake, my kinsmen accord- 
ing to the flesh." 

On the one hand, then, the apostolic Church regarded all earthly 
distinctions as temporary and secondary, and yet on the other hand 
those same distinctions were very carefully observed. The apparent 
contradiction brings before us the great question of the attitude of 
Christianity toward human relationships. This question may be 
answered in one of three ways. 

2. THE WORLDLY SOLUTION 

In the first place, there is the worldly answer. The Christian 
finds himself in a world where his time and his thoughts seem to be 
fully occupied by what lies near at hand. The existence of God 
may not be denied, but practically, in the stress of more obvious 
duties, God is left out of account. 

(1) "Practical Christianity," — In its crude form, of course, where 

271 



272 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

it involves mere engrossment in selfish pleasure, this answer to our 
question hardly needs refutation. Obviously the Christian cannot 
devote himself to worldly enjoyment; a cardinal virtue of the Chris- 
tian is self-denial. Worldliness in the Church, however, may be taken 
in a wider sense; it has often assumed very alluring forms. At the 
present day, for example, it often represents itself as the only true, 
the only "practical" kind of Christianity. It is often said that 
true religion is identical with social service, that the service of one's 
fellow men is always worship of God. This assertion involves a 
depreciation of "dogma" in the interests of "practical" Christianity; 
it makes no difference, it is said, what a man believes, provided only 
he engages in the improvement of living conditions and the pro- 
motion of fairer laws. 

(2) This World Is Not All. — This tendency in the Church really 
makes religion a thing of this world only. Undoubtedly, much 
good is being accomplished by social workers who have given up 
belief in historic Christianity; but it is good that does not go to the 
root of the matter. Suppose we have improved conditions on this 
earth, suppose more men have healthy employment and an abun- 
dance of worldly goods. Even so the thought of death cannot be 
banished. Is the totality of man's happiness limited to a brief 
span of life; are we after all but creatures of a day? Or is there an 
eternal life beyond the grave, with infinite possibilities of good or 
evil? Jesus and his apostles and the whole of the apostolic Church 
adopted the latter alternative. 

(3) The Secularization of Religion. — We lay our finger here upon 
one of the points where the modern Church is in danger of departing 
most fundamentally from the apostolic model. Religion is in 
serious danger of being secularized; that is, of being regarded as 
concerned merely with this life. The only corrective is the recovery 
of the old conception of God. God is not merely another name for 
the highest aspirations of men, he is not merely the summation of 
the social forces which are working for human betterment. On the 
contrary, he is a living Person, working in the world, but also 
eternally independent of it. You can work for the worldly benefit 
of your fellow men without coming into any saving contact with 
God ; it does make a vast difference what you believe ; it makes all 
the difference between death and life. 

(4) The Teaching of Jesus and of the Apostles. — Only one-sided 
reading of the New Testament can find support for the opposite 
view. Jesus said, "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my 



CHRISTIANITY AND HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS 273 

brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me," Matt. 25 : 40; but 
the same Jesus also said, "If any man cometh unto me, and hateth 
not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, 
and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." 
Luke 14 : 26. The giving of a cup of cold water, which receives the 
blessing of Jesus, is done for "one of these little ones ... in the name 
of a disciple." Matt. 10 : 42. Evidently the good works of the 
Christian are not independent of the attitude of the doer toward 
Jesus and toward God; Jesus regards the personal relation between 
himself and his disciples as one which takes precedence of even the 
holiest of earthly ties. Far more convincing, however, than any 
citation of definite passages is the whole spirit of the New Testa- 
ment teaching; evidently both Jesus and his early disciples had their 
lives determined by the thought of the living, personal God, holy 
and mysterious and independent of the world. Social service 
exists for the sake of God, not God for the sake of social service. 
The reversal of this relationship is one of the most distressing 
tendencies of the present day ; a study of the apostolic Church may 
bring a return to sanity and humility. 

3. THE ASCETIC SOLUTION 

The second answer to our question is the answer of ascetics of 
many different kinds. According to this answer, the relationship 
of the Christian to God on the one hand, and his relationship to his 
fellow men on the other, are in competition. Consequently, in 
order to strengthen the former, the latter must be broken off. In 
its extreme form, this way of thinking leads to the hermit ideal, to 
the belief that the less a man has to do with his fellow men the more 
he has to do with God. Such conceptions are not always so un- 
influential as we are inclined to think, even in our Protestant 
churches. Monasticism is not indeed consistently carried out, but 
it is often present in spirit and in principle. Some excellent 
Christians seem to feel that whole-hearted, natural interest in 
earthly friends is disloyalty to Christ, that all men must be treated 
alike, that admission of one man into the depths of the heart more 
fully than another is contrary to the universality of the gospel. 
By such men, individuals are not treated as persons, with a value of 
their own, but merely as opportunities for Christian service. 

(1) This Solution Defeats Its Own End. — It is evident, in the 
first place, that such an attitude defeats its own aim. Evidently 
the power of a Christian worker depends partly at least upon his 
Sen. t. in. 4. 



274 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

interest in individuals. It will not do, for example, for the teachers 
in this course to let their students say, "The teacher loves Christ 
supremely, but he has no interest in me." Evidently the power of 
influencing our fellow men is largely increased by an intimate 
personal relationship; if we are to serve Christ by bringing men to 
his feet, then we ought not to dissolve but rather to strengthen the 
bonds of simple affection which unite us to our human friends. 

(2) This Solution Is Opposed to Apostolic Example. — The 
example of the apostolic Church points in the same direction; we 
have already noticed the intensity of natural affection which was 
displayed even by a man so thoroughly and heroically devoted to 
Christian service as was the apostle Paul. This example might well 
be supplemented, and supplemented most emphatically of all by 
the example which lies at the basis of all of the apostolic Church — 
the example of Jesus himself. If any man might have been aloof 
from his fellow men, it was Jesus, yet as a matter of fact, he plainly 
had his earthly friends. 

4. THE TRUE SOLUTION 

The true solution of the problem is found in consecration. 
Human relationships are not to be made the sole aim of life; 
neither are they to be destroyed; but they are to be consecrated 
to the service of God. Love for God under normal conditions 
comes into no competition with love for man, because God takes a 
place in the life which can never be filled by any human friend; 
by lopping off human friendships we are not devoting ourselves 
more fully to God, but merely becoming less efficient servants 
of him. 

5. CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIAL SERVICE 

Consecration of human relationships to God does not involve 
any depreciation of what is known to-day as "social service." 
On the contrary it gives to social service its necessary basis and 
motive power. Only when God is remembered is there an eternal 
outlook in the betterment of human lives; the improvement of 
social conditions, which gives the souls of men a fair chance instead 
of keeping them stunted and balked by poverty and disease, is 
seen by him who believes in a future life and a final judgment 
and heaven and hell to have value not only for time, but also for 
eternity, not only for man, but also for the infinite God . 

(1) Society or the Individual? — It is sometimes regarded as a 
reproach that old-fashioned, evangelical Christianity makes its 



CHRISTIANITY AND HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS 275 

first appeal to the individual. The success of certain evan- 
gelists has occasioned considerable surprise in some quarters. 
Everyone knows, it is said, that the "social gospel" is the really 
effective modern agency; yet some evangelists with only the very 
crudest possible social program are accomplishing important and 
beneficent results! The lesson may well be learned, and it should 
never be forgotten. Despite the importance of social reforms, the 
first purpose of true Christian evangelism is to bring the individual 
man clearly and consciously into the presence of his God. Without 
that, all else is of but temporary value; the human race is composed 
of individual souls; the best of social edifices will crumble if all the 
materials are faulty. 

(2) Every Man Should First Correct His Own Faults. — The true 
attitude of the Christian toward social institutions can be learned 
clearly from the example of the apostolic Church. The first lesson 
that the early Christians learned when they faced the ordinary duties 
of life was to make the best of the institutions that were already 
existing. There was nothing directly revolutionary about the 
apostolic teaching. Sharp rebuke, indeed, was directed against the 
covetousness of the rich. But the significant fact is that such denun- 
ciations of wealthy men were addressed to the wealthy men them- 
selves and not to the poor. In the apostolic Church, every man 
was made to know his own faults, not the faults of other people. 
The rich were rebuked for their covetousness and selfishness; but 
the poor were commanded, with just as much vehemence, to labor 
for their own support. "If any will not work," said Paul, "neither 
let him eat." II Thess. 3 : 10. In short, apostolic Christianity 
sought to remove the evils of an unequal distribution of wealth, not 
by a violent uprising of the poor against the rich, but by changing 
the hearts of the rich men themselves. Modern reform movements 
are often very different; but it cannot be said that the apostolic 
method is altogether antiquated. 

(3) The Ennobling of Existing Institutions. — Certainly the 
apostolic method has been extraordinarily successful; it has ac- 
complished far more than could have been accomplished by a 
violent reform movement. A good example is afforded by the 
institution of slavery. Here, if anywhere, we might seem to have 
an institution which was contrary to the gospel. Yet Paul sent 
back a runaway slave to his master, and evidently without the 
slightest hesitation or compunction. That action was a consistent 
carrying out of the principle that a Christian man, instead of seeking 



276 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

an immediate change in his social position, was first of all to learn 
to make the best of whatever position was his already. "Let each 
man abide in that calling wherein he was called. Wast thou called 
being a bondservant? care not for it: nay, even if thou canst be- 
come free, use it rather. For he that was called in the Lord being 
a bondservant, is the Lord's freedman: likewise he that was called 
being free, is Christ's bondservant. Ye were bought with a price; 
become not bondservants of men. Brethren, let each man, wherein 
he was called, therein abide with God." I Cor. 7 : 20-24. The 
freedom of the Christian, in other words, is entirely independent of 
freedom in this world; a slave can be just as free in the higher, 
spiritual sense as his earthly master. In this way the position of 
the slave was ennobled; evidently the relation of Onesimus to 
Philemon was expected to afford both slave and master genuine 
opportunity for the development of Christian character and for 
the performance of Christian service. 

(4) The Substitution of Good Institutions for Bad. — In the long 
run, however, such conceptions were bound to exert a pervasive 
influence even upon earthly institutions. If Philemon really 
adopted the Christian attitude toward one who was now "more 
than a servant, a brother beloved" in Christ, then in the course of 
time he would naturally desire to make even the outward relation- 
ship conform more perfectly to the inward spiritual fact. The final 
result would naturally be emancipation; and such was the actual 
process in the history of the Church. Slavery, moreover, is only 
an example; a host of other imperfect social institutions have 
similarly been modified or removed. What a world of progress, 
for example, is contained in Gal. 3 : 28: "There can be neither Jew 
nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male 
and female; for ye are all one man in Christ Jesus." Not battles and 
revolutions, the taking of cities and the pulling down of empires, 
are the really great events of history, but rather the enunciation of 
great principles such as this. "Ye are all one man in Christ 
Jesus" — these words with others like them have moved armies like 
puppets, and will finally transform the face of the world. 



In the Library. — R. E. Thompson, "De Civitate Dei. The Divine 
Order of Human Society." Clow, "Christ in the Social Order." Cun- 
ningham, "Christianity and Social Questions." Schmidt, "The Social 
Results of Early Christianity." 



LESSON L 
THE CHRISTIAN USE OF THE INTELLECT 



1. THE PROBLEM OF CHRISTIANITY AND CULTURE 

The last two lessons have emphasized the duty of consecration. 
The enjoyment of simple, physical blessings, the opportunities 
afforded by earthly relationships, are all to be devoted to the 
service of God. Exactly the same principle must be applied in the 
lesson for to-day. If physical health and strength and the com- 
panionship of human friends may be made useful in the Christian 
life, surely the same thing is true of intellectual gifts. The most 
powerful thing that a man possesses is the power of his mind. 
Brute force is comparatively useless; the really great achievements 
of modern times have been accomplished by the intellect. If the 
principle of consecration is true at all — if it be true that God desires, 
not the destruction of human powers, but the proper use of them— 
then surely the principle must be applied in the intellectual sphere. 

The field should not be limited too narrowly; with the purely 
logical and acquisitive faculties of the mind should be included the 
imagination and the sense of beauty. In a word, we have to do to- 
day with the relation between "culture" and Christianity. For the 
modern Church there is no greater problem. A mighty civilization 
has been built up in recent years, which to a considerable extent is 
out of relation to the gospel. Great intellectual forces which are 
rampant in the world are grievously perplexing the Church. The 
situation calls for earnest intellectual effort on the part of Christians. 
Modern culture must either be refuted as evil, or else be made 
helpful to the gospel. So great a power cannot safely be ignored. 

(1) The Obscurantist Solution. — Some men in the Church are 
inclined to choose a simple way out of the difficulty ; they are inclined 
to reject the whole of modern culture as either evil or worthless; 
this wisdom of the world, they maintain, must be deserted for the 
divine "foolishness" of the gospel. Undoubtedly such a view con- 
tains an element of truth, but in its entirety it is impracticable. 
The achievements of modern culture are being made useful for the 
spread of the gospel by the very advocates of the view now in 

277 



278 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

question; these achievements, therefore, cannot be altogether the 
work of Satan. It is inconsistent to use the printing press, the 
railroad, the telegraph in the propagation of our gospel and at the 
same time denounce as evil those activities of the human mind by 
which these inventions were produced. Indeed, much of modern 
culture, far from being hostile to Christianity, has really been 
produced by Christianity. Such Christian elements should not 
be destroyed; the wheat should not be rooted up with the tares. 

(2) The Worldly Solution. — If, however, the Christian man is in 
danger of adopting a negative attitude toward modern culture, of 
withdrawing from the world into a sort of unhealthy, modernized, 
intellectual monastery, the opposite danger is even more serious. 
The most serious danger is the danger of being so much engrossed in 
the wonderful achievements of modern science that the gospel is 
altogether forgotten. 

(3) The True Solution. — The true solution is consecration. 
Modern culture is a stumblingblock when it is regarded as 
an end in itself, but when it is used as a means to the service of God 
it becomes a blessing. Undoubtedly much of modern thinking is 
hostile to the gospel. Such hostile elements should be refuted and 
destroyed; the rest should be made subservient; but nothing should 
be neglected. Modern culture is a mighty force; it is either 
helpful to the gospel or else it is a deadly enemy of the gospel. 
For making it helpful neither wholesale denunciation nor whole- 
sale acceptance is in place; careful discrimination is required, 
and such discrimination requires intellectual effort. There lies a 
supreme duty of the modern Church. Patient study should not be 
abandoned to the men of the world; men who have really received 
the blessed experience of the love of God in Christ must seek to 
bring that experience to bear upon the culture of the modern world, 
in order that Christ may rule, not only in all nations, but also in 
every department of human life. The Church must seek to con- 
quer not only every man, but also the whole of man. Such in- 
tellectual effort is really necessary even to the external advancement 
of the kingdom. Men cannot be convinced of the truth of Chris- 
tianity so long as the whole of their thinking is dominated by ideas 
which make acceptance of the gospel logically impossible; false 
ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. And 
false ideas cannot be destroyed without intellectual effort. 

Such effort is indeed of itself insufficient. No man was ever 
argued into Christianity; the renewing of the Holy Spirit is the 



THE CHRISTIAN USE OF THE INTELLECT 2^) 

really decisive thing. But the Spirit works when and how he will, 
and he chooses to employ the intellectual activities of Christian 
people in order to prepare for his gracious coming. 

2. THE APOSTOLIC EXAMPLE 

Abundant support for what has just been said may be discovered 
in the history of the apostolic Church. Paul's speech at Athens, for 
example, shows how the Christian preacher exhibited the connec- 
tion between the gospel and the religious aspirations of the time. 
This line of thought, it is true, was merely preliminary; the main 
thing with which the apostles were concerned was the presentation 
and explanation of the gospel itself. Such presentation and ex- 
planation, however, certainly required intellectual effort; and the 
effort was not avoided. The epistles of Paul are full of profound 
thinking; only superficiality can ignore the apostolic use of the 
intellect. 

(1) Christianity Based Upon Facts. — The fundamental reason 
why this intellectual activity was so prominent in the apostolic age 
is that the apostles thought of Christianity as based upon facts. 
Modern Christians sometimes cherish a different notion. A false 
antithesis is now sometimes set up between belief and practice; 
Christianity, it is said, is not a doctrine, but a life. In reality, 
Christianity is not only a doctrine, but neither is it only a life; it is 
both. It is, as has been well said, a life because it is a doctrine. 
What is characteristic of Christianity is not so much that it holds 
up a lofty ethical ideal as that it provides the power by which the 
ideal is to be realized. That power proceeds from the great facts 
upon which Christian belief is founded, especially the blessed facts 
of Christ's atoning death and triumphant resurrection. Where 
belief in these facts has been lost, the Christian life may seem to 
proceed for a time as before, but it proceeds only as a locomotive 
runs after the steam has been shut off; the momentum is soon lost. 
If, however, Christianity is based upon facts, it cannot do without 
the use of the mind ; whatever may be said of mere emotions, facts 
cannot be received without employment of the reason. Christian 
faith is indeed more than intellectual; it involves rejoicing in the 
heart and acceptance by the will, but the intellectual element in it 
can never be removed. We cannot trust in Christ, in the Christian 
sense, unless we are convinced that he lived a holy life when he was 
on earth, that he claimed justly to be divine, that he died on the 
cross, and that he rose again from the dead. 



280 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

(2) Christianity Involves Theology. — Furthermore, Christian 
faith involves not only a bare acceptance of these facts, it involves 
also some explanation of them. That explanation can never be 
complete; the gospel contains mysteries in the presence of which 
only wondering reverence is in place; but some explanation there 
must be It is quite useless, for example, to know merely that a 
holy man, Jesus, died on the cross; it is even useless to know that 
the Son of God came to earth and died in that way. The death 
of Christ has meaning for us only because it was a death for our 
sins; the story of the cross becomes a gospel only when the blessed 
meaning of it is explained. The explanation of that meaning forms 
the subject of a large part of the New Testament. The apostolic 
Church had none of our modern aversion to theology. 

It is time for us to return to the apostolic example. Mere 
bustling philanthropy will never conquer the world. The real 
springs of the Church's power lie in an inward, spiritual realm; they 
can be reached only by genuine meditation. The eighth chapter of 
Romans has been neglected long enough; neglect of it is bringing 
deadly weakness. Instead of adapting her message to the changing 
fashions of the time, the Church should seek to understand the 
message itself. The effort will not be easy; in a "practical" age, 
honest thinking is hard. But the results will be plain. Power lies 
in the deep things of God. 

(3) The Duty of Every Man. — The great intellectual duty of the 
modern Church is not confined to a few men of scholarly tastes. 
On the contrary, the simplest Christian may have his part; what 
is needed first of all is common sense. By an unhealthy senti- 
mentalism, old-fashioned study has been discredited. If God is 
speaking in the Bible, surely the logical thing for us to do is to hear. 
Yet modern Christians are strangely neglectful of this simple duty. 
Bible study is regarded as of less importance than social service; 
improvement of earthly conditions is preferred to acquaintance 
with God's Word. The evil may easily be corrected, and it may be 
corrected first of all by the old-fashioned reading of the Bible. 
That requires intellectual effort — there is no use in turning the 
pages if the mind is elsewhere — but the effort can be made by the 
plain man as well as by the scholar. Simple acquaintance with the 
Bible facts by the rank and file of the Church will accomplish as 
much as anything else toward meeting the arguments of opponents. 
By learning what Christianity is, we shall be able, almost uncon- 
sciously, to refute what can be said against it. 



THE CHRISTIAN USE OF THE INTELLECT 281 

3. THE PRACTICE OF THE TRUTH 

This intellectual effort, however, should never be separated from 
practice. The best way to fix truth in the mind is to practice it in 
life. If our study teaches us that God is holy, let us hate sin as 
God hates it. If we learn that God is loving, let us love our fellow 
men as God loves them. If the Bible tells us of the salvation offered 
by Christ, let us accept it with a holy joy, and live in the power of it 
day by day. That is the true "practical Christianity", a Christian- 
ity that is based solidly upon facts. Conduct goes hand in hand 
with doctrine; love is the sister of truth. 

4. GOD THE SOURCE OF TRUTH 

The ultimate Source of all truth, as of all love, is God. The 
knowledge for which we are pleading can never result in pride, for 
it is a knowledge that God gives, and a knowledge consecrated at 
every point to God's service. Presumptuous reliance upon human 
wisdom comes from knowledge that ignores part of the facts; true 
science leads to humility. If we accept all other facts, but ignore the 
supreme fact of God's love in Jesus Christ, then of course our 
knowledge will be one-sided. It may succeed in producing creature 
comforts; it may improve the external conditions of life upon this 
earth; it may afford purely intellectual pleasure; but it will never 
reveal the really important things. This one-sided knowledge 
is what Paul was speaking of in I Cor. 1:21 when he said that "the 
world through its wisdom knew not God." The true wisdom takes 
account of the "foolishness" of God's message, and finds that that 
foolishness is wiser than men. The true wisdom of the gospel is 
revealed only through the Holy Spirit; only the Spirit of God can 
reveal the things of God. Without the Spirit, the human mind 
becomes hopeless in dismal error; it is the Spirit of truth who sheds 
the true light over our path. 

"O grant us light, that we may know 

The wisdom Thou alone canst give; 
That truth may guide where'er we go, 

And virtue bless where'er we live." 



In the Library. — Patton, "A Summary of Christian Doctrine." 
Greene, "Christian Doctrine." A. A. Hodge, "Outlines of Theology" 
and "Popular Lectures on Theological Themes." 



LESSON LI 
THE CHRISTIAN HOPE AND THE PRESENT POSSESSION 



A type of religious effort has become prevalent to-day which is 
directed chiefly to the present life; the improvement of worldly 
conditions is often regarded as the chief end of man. All such 
tendencies are strikingly at variance with apostolic Christianity. 
The apostolic Church was intensely other-worldly. The chief 
gift that the apostles offered was not a better and more comfortable 
life in this world, but an entrance into heaven. 

1. THE END OF THE WORLD 

Only the great outlines of the events connected with the end of 
the world are revealed in the New Testament. Minute details 
cannot be discovered except by an excessively literal method of 
interpretation, which is not really in accord with the meaning of the 
apostolic writers. Some have supposed, for example, that there 
are to be two resurrections, first a resurrection of the Christian 
dead and long afterwards a resurrection of other men; expecta- 
tion of a thousand-year reign of Christ upon earth has been 
widely prevalent. Such beliefs are not to be lightly rejected, since 
they are based upon an interpretation of certain New Testament 
passages which is not altogether devoid of plausibility; but on the 
whole they are at least doubtful in view of other passages, and 
especially in view of the true nature of prophecy. God has re- 
vealed, not details to satisfy our curiosity, but certain basal facts 
which should determine our lives. 

Those basal facts, connected with the end of the world, are a 
second coming of Christ, a resurrection of the dead, a final judg- 
ment, an eternity of punishment for the wicked and of blessing 
for those who have trusted in Christ. It is not maintained that 
these facts stand absolutely alone; certainly they are fully ex- 
plained, at least in their spiritual significance; but the devout 
Bible-reader should be cautious about his interpretation of details. 

2. FEAR AND JOY 

The practical effect of the apostolic teaching about the end of the 
world should be a combination of earnestness with joy. A man 

282 



CHRISTIAN HOPE AND PRESENT POSSESSION 283 

who lives under the expectation of meeting Christ as Judge will 
desert the worldly standard of values for a higher standard. He 
will rate happiness and worldly splendor lower, in order to place the 
supreme emphasis upon goodness. The difference between evil 
and good, between sin and holiness, is not a trifle, not a thing of 
merely relative importance, as many men regard it; it enters deep 
into the constitution of the universe, it is the question of really 
eternal moment. Again and again, in the New Testament, the 
thought of Christ's coming and of the judgment which he will 
hold is made the supreme motive to a pure and holy life. The 
apostolic example may well be borne in mind. When we are 
tempted to commit a mean or dishonest or unclean act, when 
unholy thoughts crowd in upon us like a noisome flood, we cannot 
do better than think of the day when we shall stand in the presence 
of the pure and holy Judge. 

On the other hand, the thought of Christ's coming is to the 
believer the source of inexpressible joy. Christ has saved us from 
a terrible abyss. Our joy in salvation is in proportion to our dread 
of the destruction from which we have been saved. To the truly 
penitent man, the thought of the righteous God is full of terror. 
God is holy; we would sometimes endeavor vainly to shrink from 
his presence. Yet such a God has stretched out his hand to save 
— there is the wonder of the gospel — and if we trust in the Saviour 
the last great day need cause no fear. We are lost in sin, but God 
looks not upon us but upon him who died to save us. "Salvation" 
to the apostolic Church meant "rescue," rescue from the just and 
awful judgment of God. 

3. THE INTERMEDIATE STATE 

The time of that judgment has not been revealed, but so far as 
any offer of repentance is concerned the time comes to every man at 
death. One question of detail cannot altogether be ignored. What 
did the apostles teach about the condition of the believer between 
death and the final resurrection? Upon this subject, the New 
Testament says very little, but it becomes clear at least that the 
believer, even when absent from the body, is to be present with the 
Lord, II Cor. 5 : 8, and that to die is to be with Christ. Phil. 1 : 23. 
On the whole, no better statement of the apostolic teaching about 
the "intermediate state" can be formulated than that which is con- 
tained in the Shorter Catechism: "The souls of believers are at 
their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into 



284 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

glory ; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their 
graves, till the resurrection." The hope of an immediate entrance 
into bliss at the time of death should not be allowed, however, to 
obscure the importance of the resurrection. The resurrection of 
the body will be necessary to "the full enjoying of God to all 
eternity." 

4. THE FINAL BLESSEDNESS 

That enjoying of God is no mere selfish pleasure; it means 
first of all a triumph of holiness. Every last vestige of evil will be 
removed. No taint of sin will separate the redeemed creature from 
his God. Service will be free and joyous. The consummation, 
moreover, will concern not merely individuals, but the race; no mere 
expectation of the personal immortality of individuals begins to do 
justice to the apostolic teaching. The ultimate end, indeed, is not 
our own enjoyment, but the glory of God. Some carnal, materialistic 
conceptions of the future age would really remove God from his 
own heaven, but such is not the teaching of the New Testament. 
God will be all and in all ; only in his glory is to be found the true 
glory of a redeemed race. The power of loving God is the highest 
joy that heaven contains. 

5. THE DISPENSATION OF THE SPIRIT 

The present age, according to the New Testament, is a time of 
waiting and striving; it is related to the future glory as a battle is 
related to the subsequent victory. Satisfaction with the present 
life, even as it is led by the best of Christians, would to the apostles 
have been abhorrent; the Christian is still far from perfect. A 
prime condition of progress is a divine discontent. Jesus pronounced 
a blessing upon them that "hunger and thirst after righteousness." 
Eternal things to us are unseen; they can be discovered only by 
the eye of faith; we long for a time when hope will be supplanted 
by sight. Nevertheless, there is no room for despondency; the 
blessed time is surely coming. 

Its coming is rendered certain by the presence, here and now, 
of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit may be relied upon to prepare us, 
both in soul and in body, for the glory of heaven. 

(1) The Spirit in the Old Testament and in the Life of Jesus. — 
The Spirit of God was mentioned even in the Old Testament. At 
the beginning he "moved upon the face of the waters," Gen. 1:2; 
he was the source of the mighty deeds of heroes and of the prophets' 
inspired words. In the life and teaching of Jesus, however, the 



CHRISTIAN HOPE AND PRESENT POSSESSION 285 

Spirit was far more fully revealed than he had ever been revealed 
before. He was the source of Jesus' human nature, Matt. 1 : 18, 20; 
Luke 1 : 35; he descended upon the newly proclaimed Messiah, Matt. 
3 : 16, and was operative in all the earthly ministry of the Lord. 

(2) The Spirit in the Church. — For the disciples, however, the 
full glory of the Spirit's presence was manifested only after Jesus 
himself had been taken up into heaven; the present age, from 
Pentecost to the second coming of the Lord, is peculiarly the 
dispensation of the Holy Spirit. Discontent with the Church's 
imperfections and dismay at her many adversaries should never 
cause us to lose confidence in the work that is being done by the 
Spirit of God. It was expedient that Jesus should go away; 
through the other "Comforter" whom he has sent, he manifests 
himself even more gloriously than he did to the disciples in Galilee. 

(3) The Nature of the Spirit. — The apostles never discuss the 
nature of the Holy Spirit in any thoroughly systematic way. But 
two great facts are really presupposed in the whole New Testament. 
In the first place, the Holy Spirit is God, and in the second place 
he is a person distinct from the Father and from the Son. The 
divinity of the Spirit appears, for example, in I Cor. 2:11. The 
point of that verse is that the Spirit is as closely related to God as 
the human spirit is to a man. "For who among men knoweth the 
things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even 
so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God." The 
distinct personality of the Spirit appears with special clearness in 
Rom. 8 : 26, 27. There the Spirit is represented as making inter- 
cession with him "that searcheth the hearts"; the one who inter- 
cedes is personally distinct from him before whom he makes inter- 
cession. Even more convincing, perhaps, is the great promise of 
Christ in John 14 : 16, 17, 26; 15 : 26; 16 : 7-15, where the other 
"Comforter" is spoken of in clearly personal terms and is dis- 
tinguished both from the Father and from the Son. Personal dis- 
tinctness, however, is not inconsistent with a perfect unity of 
nature. What the Spirit does the Son and the Father do; when the 
other Comforter comes to the Church, Christ himself comes. The 
doctrine of the "Trinity" is a profound mystery, but its mysterious- 
ness is no obstacle to the acceptance of its truth. Mystery in the 
depths of God's nature is surely to be expected. This mystery, 
taught by the pen of inspired writers, has brought salvation and 
peace into the lives of men. Distinctly Trinitarian passages, such 
as Matt. 28 : 19; II Cor. 13 : 14, are merely the summation of the 



286 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

New Testament teaching about God, and that teaching has worked 
itself out in unspeakable blessing in the life of the Church. 

(4) The Work of the Spirit. — A complete summary of the belief 
of the apostolic Church about the work of the Holy Spirit would 
be impossible in one brief lesson. The Christian life is begun 
by the Spirit, and continued by his beneficent power. Conversion, 
according to Jesus and his apostles, is only the manward aspect of 
a profound change in the depths of the soul. That change is 
"regeneration," a new birth. Christian experience is no mere im- 
provement of existing conditions, but the entrance of something 
entirely new. Man is not merely sick in trespasses and sins, but 
"dead"; only a new birth will bring life. That new birth is a 
mysterious, creative act of the Spirit of God. John 3 : 3-8. 

But the Spirit does not leave those whom he has regenerated to 
walk alone; he dwells in them and enables them to overcome sin. 
The motive of his work is love. He is no blind force, but a loving 
Person; the Christian can enjoy a real communion with him as with 
the Father and the Son. In the presence of the Spirit we have 
communion with God ; the Persons of the Godhead are united in a 
manner far beyond all human analogies. There is no imperfect 
medium separating us from the divine presence; by the gracious 
work of the Holy Spirit we come into vital contact with the living 
God. 

The Spirit is the ground and cause of Christian freedom. "Where 
the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." II Cor. 3 : 17. "For 
as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For 
ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye re- 
ceived the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." 
Rom. 8 : 14, 15. This liberty that the Spirit brings is, however, 
not a liberty to sin; it is liberation from sin. The body of the 
Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit; in that temple only purity 
is in place. The inward power of the Holy Spirit in the heart is 
more powerful than the law; if a man yields to that power he 
will overcome the flesh; the law of God is fulfilled by those "who 
walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." 



In the Library. — Vos, "The Teaching of Jesus Concerning the 
Kingdom of God and the Church." Crane, "The Teaching of Jesus 
Concerning the Holy Spirit." Swete, "The Holy Spirit in the New 
Testament." Thomas, "The Holy Spirit of God." 



LESSON LII 
RETROSPECT: THE FIRST CHRISTIAN CENTURY 



The apostolic example can be applied intelligently to the problems 
of our time only if there be some understanding of the intervening 
centuries. We are connected with the apostolic Church by an 
unbroken succession. A study of Church history would help us to 
apply the New Testament teaching to our own age. 

The Christian writings which have been preserved from the 
early part of the second century show a marked decline from the 
spiritual level of the apostles. Evidently the special inspiration 
which had made the New Testament a guide for all ages had been 
withdrawn. Yet the Spirit of God continued to lead the Church. 
Even in the darkest periods of Church history God did not forget 
his people. 

Only scanty Christian writings have been preserved from the 
first three-quarters of the second century; the extant works of the 
so-called "Apostolic Fathers" and of the "Apologists" are of limited 
extent. About the close of the century, however, the record be- 
comes more complete. Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus of Asia 
Minor and Gaul, and Tertullian of North Africa, give a varied 
picture of the Christian life of the time. The Church had gained 
rapidly in influence since the conclusion of the apostolic age; per- 
secutions had not succeeded in checking her advance. Finally, 
under Constantine, in the first part of the fourth century, 
Christianity became the favored religion of the Roman Empire. 

About the same time, in A. D. 325, the first ecumenical council, 
at Nicaea, undertook the work of formulating the belief of the 
Church. The creeds which were adopted at the great ancient 
councils are accepted to-day in all parts of Christendom. During 
the same general period, the poweY of the bishop of Rome was 
gradually increased until it culminated in the papacy. 

After the conquest of the western part of the Roman Empire in 
the fifth century, Christianity was accepted by the barbarian con- 
querors, and during the dark ages that followed the Church 
preserved the light of learning and piety until a better day should 
dawn. During the middle ages, though there was for the most 

287 



288 SENIOR GRADED LESSONS 

part little originality in Christian thinking, great scholars and 
theologians formed striking exceptions to the general condition. 
The political power of the papacy became enormous, but was 
hindered by the personal weakness and immorality of many of 
the popes. The degraded moral and spiritual condition of the 
Church was counteracted here and there by the establishment of 
monastic orders, whose purpose at the beginning was good, by the 
writings of certain mystics, and by the work of the three "pre- 
reformers," Wyclif in England, Huss in Bohemia and Savonarola 
in Italy. 

A genuine advance, however, did not come until the Reformation 
of the fifteenth century, when Luther in Germany and Zwingli in 
Switzerland, almost at the same time and at first independently, 
became the leaders in a mighty protest. A little later Calvin 
carried out the principles of the Reformation in a comprehensive 
theological system, and by the power of his intellect and the 
fervency of his piety exerted an enormous influence throughout the 
world. The Reformation was distinctly a religious movement, 
though it had been prepared for by that revival of learning which 
is called the Renaissance. The work of Luther was a rediscovery 
of Paul. Not the performance of a set of external acts prescribed 
by the Church, but, as Paul taught, the grace of God received by 
faith alone, is, according to Luther, the means of salvation. 

The Reformation brought about a counter-reformation in the 
Roman Catholic Church, and the western European world was 
finally divided between the two great branches of Christendom. 
After a period of controversy and wars between Protestants and 
Catholics, the Church was called upon to fight a great battle 
against unbelief. That battle, begun in its modern form about the 
middle of the eighteenth century, continues unabated until the 
present day. We are living in a time of intellectual changes. To 
maintain the truth of the gospel at such a time and to present it 
faithfully and intelligently to the modern world is the supreme task of 
the Church. The task to some extent has been accomplished ; and 
the missionary movement of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries 
attests the vitality of the ancient faith. God has not deserted 
his Church. There are enemies without and within, compromise 
will surely bring disaster; but the gospel of Christ has not lost its 
power. This is not the first time of discouragement in the history 
of the Church. The darkest hour has always been followed by 
the dawn. Who can tell what God has now in store? 
Sen. t. ra. 4. 



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