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Descriptions for the Biblical Books-3

Introduction:

What we are presenting in the pages under this title are the details surrounding the authorship, dating, chronology and so on of the 66 books of the Bible. Please keep in mind that we do not agree 100% with the information given here. This information is for research and study purpose only and should not be taken as gospel truth. There are so many details we do not know, for example the exact authors of each book, because, as we believe, God wrote all the books using humans to pen his words in human form.

God did not use any supernatural power to make the books appear full of content magically like some wizard might. Instead he inspired his human writers and gave them the words he wanted his people and the world to know. Some people argue that the biblical authors were not secretaries taken dictation thus the biblical words were mixed with their personal thoughts. This is hardly the truth and is a weak attempt to ignore biblical instructions those people do not like.

We highly recommend that after reading these pages you research the details of each book to get a fuller, better picture of the nature surrounding each work. We may not know who the human authors were but we know that God wrote the Bible and that it is purely a divine book.

All information is taken from: Vol. 12 of the Christian Library Series of AGES Software Rio, WI USA Version 1.0 © 2001.

These pages are divided into 4 parts with 2 parts to each testament.

Part Three: Matthew to 2 Thessalonians

Matthew

But the question must have already suggested itself whether these various sources existed in documentary or only in oral form. If we were considering the case of modern Western nations there would be no doubt whatever as to the answer…

The frequent minuteness and unimportance, as one would say, of the differences are often almost inexplicable on the supposition that the evangelists had written documents before them which they altered. It might be the case in one or two places, but that they should make such minute alterations throughout seems most improbable…

Whether, indeed, this writing down had at all taken place before the synoptists wrote, so that they used the oral teaching in written forms, cannot be shown. There seems to be no case in the Greek, in which variations may so certainly be traced to “errors of sight” as to compel us to believe that they used a common document in Greek, and the only direct reason that exists for supposing that the sources which they used had been crystallized into writing lies in the preface to the Third Gospel. St. Luke knew of such. But whether either he or the other evangelists used them for their Gospels, we cannot say. In one case, indeed, that of the genealogies, it might be thought that such written documents must have been used. But even this is not necessary…

What assistance does the Gospel itself give us towards solving the problem of its authorship? That the author was a Jew will be granted by all. A Gentile Christian never would or could have described the relation of Jesus to the Jews and to their teaching in the way that the author has described it. The fact of his Jewish standpoint is further indicated by his Old Testament quotations…

Yet, if we except some very slight and doubtful indications of the place and the date of his writing (vide infra, §§ 18, 19), we cannot learn much about the author from the Gospel itself. It is only natural to examine it with the view of finding out whether it contains any marks of an eyewitness…

But when we turn to the external evidence, matters stand very differently. There never appears to have been any doubt in the early Church (cf. § 14) that the First Gospel was composed by St. Matthew, and it is hard to understand why so comparatively unknown and unimportant a member of the twelve should have been named if he were not, in fact, the author. It is with him as it is with St. Mark, and as it would have been with St. Luke if the Book of the Acts had not been written. For if St. Luke had not written the second volume of his work, no one of the synoptic narratives could have been compared with a writing attributed to the same author as itself, and the authorship of all three would have rested on a tradition which finds the chief reason for its acceptance in the difficulty of explaining how it could have arisen if it were not true…

As regards the Gospel itself there is but little doubt. It is, indeed, saturated with Semitic, and particularly Jewish, thought and idioms, and the genealogy and also, perhaps, the remainder of the first two chapters may be directly or almost directly a translation from the Aramaic…

Yet although our First Gospel shows so few traces of being a translation from an Aramaic original, it is very probable that some Aramaic Gospel existed…

Papias (circa A.D. 130): “So then Matthew composed the oracles in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as he was able…

Eusebius says elsewhere, “Of all the disciples of the Lord, only Matthew and John have left us written memorials, and they, tradition says, were led to write only under the pressure of necessity. For Matthew, who had at first preached to Hebrews, when he was about to go to others also, committed his Gospel to writing in his native tongue, and thus compensated those from whom he was withdrawing himself for the loss of his presence…

Epiphanius (circa A.D. 380), in describing the sect of the Nazarenes, says that they had the Gospel of St. Matthew complete written in Hebrew without, perhaps, the genealogy…

It has been abundantly shown, even by the passages already adduced for other purposes, that this Gospel was unanimously accepted in the early Church. Probably also it is the very earliest of all the New Testament writings that is quoted as Scripture…

Evidently, from its whole tone, Jewish Christians were chiefly thought of, but the fact that Gentile Christians seem to have been included (cf, § 12) points to the communities addressed being not limited to those in Palestine…

This (the place of writing) can be only conjectured, for the evidence is at most but negative…

This (time of writing) also can only be conjectured. If the date assigned to the ‘ Epistle of Barnabas’ (vide supra, § 16) be right, and if his quotation can be fully accepted as showing that this Gospel was already in existence, we have as an inferior limit the year 79 A.D. But in both particulars so much doubt exists that not much dependence can be placed upon this argument

Mark

If early testimony is to have its due weight, St. Mark wrote his Gospel in Greek, and at Rome, and apparently for Gentiles, certainly not exclusively, or in the first instance, for Jews. There are explanations given here and there in his Gospel which would be superfluous if it were written only for Jews…

Early writers speak of St. Mark as the “interpreter” of St. Peter; by which expression it seems to be meant that he put down in writing, what he had heard orally from St. Peter, the things relating to the life of our Lord. It seems also plain that he must have had access to St. Matthew’s Gospel. But he was not a mere copyist. He was an independent witness. He often supplies a sentence, detailing some little incident which he could only have received from an eye-witness, and which forms an additional link to the narrative, explaining something which had been left obscure, and filling up the picture…

St. Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of all the four Gospels; and yet there is a unity about it which, as has been well said, “quite excludes the notion that it is either a mere compendium of some richer, or an expansion of some briefer, Gospel…

It will be seen, then, from hence that Mark had close and intimate relations with both St. Peter and St. Paul; and that he was with the one apostle at Babylon, and with. the other at Rome. I am quite unable to accept the view that St. Peter, when mentioning Babylon, is referring mystically to Rome. This is not the place in which to look for figurative language. Nor is there anything remarkable in St. Peter, the apostle of the circumcision, having gone to Babylon, where we know there was a large colony of Jews, or in his having Been accompanied thither by Mark himself, also a Jew of the family of Aaron. The whole is consistent with the idea that Mark wrote his Gospel under the direction of St. Peter. Ancient writers, as Irenaeus, Tertullian, St. Jerome, and others, with one consent make him the interpreter of St. Peter. Eusebius, quoting from Papias, says, “Mark, being the interpreter of St. Peter, wrote down exactly whatever things he remembered, yet not in the order in which Christ either spoke or did them; for he was neither a hearer nor a follower of our Lord, but he was afterwards a follower of St. Peter.”…

St. Augustine calls Mark the “breviator” of St. Matthew, not because he made an abridgment of St. Matthew’s Gospel, but because he relates more Briefly, according to what he had received from St. Peter, those things which St. Matthew relates more at length…

OBSERVATIONS ON THE GENUINENESS AND AUTHENTICITY OF THE LAST TWELVE VERSES OF ST. MARK’S GOSPEL…

The two oldest, namely, the Sinaitio and the Vatican, omit the whole passage, but under different conditions. The Sinaitic omits the passage absolutely. The Vatican omits it, but with a space left blank between the eighth verse of Mark 16., and the beginning of St. Luke, just sufficient for its insertion; as though the writer of the manuscript, hesitating whether to omit or to insert the verses, thought it safest to leave a space for them…

The evidence of the Cursives is unanimous in favor of the disputed verses. It is true that some mark the passage as one of which the genuineness had been disputed. But against this there has to be set the fact that the verses are retained in all but two old manuscripts, and those two in all probability not independent…

The most ancient versions, both of the Eastern and of the Western Churches, without a single exception, recognize this passage…

There are some expressions in the ‘Shepherd of Hermas,’ written in all probability not later than the middle of the second century, which are evidently taken from St. Mark (16:16)…

The evidence of Ireneeus (A.D. 177) is yet more striking. In one of his books (‘Adv. Haer.,’ 3:10) he quotes the beginning and the end of St. Mark’s Gospel in the same passage, in the latter part of which he says, “But in the end of his Gospel Mark saith, ‘And the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken unto them,…

Now, to begin with. If it is assumed that St. Mark’s Gospel ended at the close of ver. 8, the abruptness of the conclusion is very stalking in the English, and still more so in the Greek (ejfobou~nto ga>r). It seems scarcely possible to suppose that it could have ended here…

Luke

In the last quarter of the second century — that is to say, in less than a hundred years after the death of St. John — the canon of the New Testament, as we have it now, was generallyf1 accepted in all the Churches of the East and West…

The three first Gospels, in their present form, were, we believe, put out somewhere between the years A.D. 55 and A.D. 70, the year of the fall of Jerusalem. Some would, however, place the date of St. Luke shortly after than before the great catastrophe to the city and temple…

We have said this Third Gospel was most carefully composed, with the view of satisfying the requirements of a thoughtful, cultured man, such as was probably that “most excellent Theophilus” to whom the Gospel was addressed…

Of the three synoptical Gospels, St. Luke, though not the longest, is the fullest, that is, it contains the most details of the Savior’s life on earth…

St. Luke’s Gospel has been charged by some critics with teaching certain doctrines alien to the teaching of primitive Christianity, in some respects differing from the teaching in St. Matthew or in St. John. These critics complain that St. Luke, different to the older apostles, teaches in the Third Gospel “a universalism” — a breaking-down of all legal privileges and class distinctions, a free admission of all sinners alike to the mercy of God upon their repentance, a universality in Christ’s promises, which jars upon some minds peculiarly constituted and specially trained, in the nineteenth century equally with the first…

The earliest traditions of the Church, and the writings which we possess of her teachers — of men who lived in the century following the death of St. John — the “remains,” too, of the great heretical teachers who taught for the most part in the first half of the second century, all bear witness that the author of the Third Gospel was identical with the writer of the Acts, and that this person was the St. Luke well known in the days of the beginnings of Christianity as the companion and friend of St. Paul. Most of these early references in some form or other connect St. Luke’s work with St. Paul…

“And Luke, who was a native of Antioch, and by profession a physician, for the most part a companion (ta< plei~sta suggegonw>v) of Paul, and who was not slightly acquainted with the rest of the apostles, has left us two books divinely inspired, proofs of the art of healing souls, which he won from them” (Eusebius, ‘Hist. Eccl.,’ 3. 4)…

the internal evidence contained in the Gospel and in the Acts, which plainly shows that the writer was a physician; — with these exceptions nothing further definite or trustworthy is known respecting Luke. Epiphanius and others mention that he was one of the seventy disciples; Theophylact believes that he was one of the two disciples who met with the risen Jesus on their walk to Emmaus. These suppositions may be true, but they are uncertain…

After St. Paul’s martyrdom (A.D. 67-68) our knowledge of St. Luke is only vague, and rests on uncertain tradition. [Epiphanius (‘Contr. Haeres.,’ lib. 2. vol. 2. 464, edit. Dindorf) tells us that, after the death of his master, he preached in Dalmatia, Italy, Macedonia, and Gallia. Gregory Nazianzen mentions that St. Luke was among the martyrs. Nicephorus relates the manner of his martyrdom — how that, whilst working for the cause in Greece, he was hanged upon an olive-tree.

John

Now we have before us here a unique work and a presumed author. The more the Fourth Gospel has been focussed in the light of criticism, the more convinced do we become that it is the work of one extraordinary mind. We cannot tear it to pieces and say, “This paragraph belongs to one decade, and that to another; this to Jerusalem, and that to Alexandria; this to Galilee, and that to Ephesus.” Whenever or by whomsoever this Gospel was produced, it was fashioned by one strangely gifted man. On this the bulk of critics are agreed…

The problem, however, is further complicated because the presumed author is almost certainly proven to be the author of another work of strangely different character. The style, motive, mental position, and attitude of the Apocalyptic seer of Patmos seem widely diverse from those of the disciple whom Jesus loved…

The author must have been a Jew. Great effort is made by many writers to prove that, whoever wrote it, he could not have been a Jew, but must have been some Christian Gentile of marked hostility to the Jews and their race, and that the author displays an ignorance or indifference to the sacred people incompatible, of course, with his being the Apostle John, the son of Zebedee. This impression is created by calling attention to a few peculiarities of the Gospel, which seem to point in that direction, but which are abundantly counterbalanced by other most important characteristics of the document…

The author must have been a PALESTINIAN rather than an Alexandrine Jew…. The synoptic Gospels move along three different, yet broadly consentient, lines, and events and sayings are arranged, so far as order is concerned, without clear purpose on the part of their narrators. The distinct unity of authorship is in their case open to much analysis and criticism; yet the Fourth Gospel is a work of consummate art, and constitutes an organized and marvellous unity. It is conceded that the whole of it has issued from one mind, and that a constructive force and powerful argument are evinced in the composition; that it reveals the workmanship of an accomplished thinker; that it is in no sense a growth, but a distinct, powerful, and beautiful creation. The style of the composition is far less Hebraic than that of the three Gospels, and the words attribute,. to our Lord are in a different style from those elsewhere by multifarious tradition assigned to him, and correspond with the style of the evangelist himself as evinced in his own First Epistle…

The teaching of the Gospel, whether on the lips of Jesus or the evangelist himself, touching the Godhead. We have already shown that there are fundamental distinctions in the style and vocabulary of John and of the Johannine Christ; but it is more than probable that John’s own style was framed by the influence which his communion with the Lord had exerted upon him. There can be no doubt that the thoughts of Jesus interpenetrated him. He was saturated with them, and they gave a character to all his own meditations on the outcome and meaning of the Lord’s life…

Acts

The true way to judge of the purpose of any book is to see what the book actually tells us, as it is to be presumed that the execution corresponds with the design. Now, “The Acts of the Apostles” gives us the history of the apostles, generally, to a very limited extent. After the first chapters, which relate with such power the founding of the Church at Jerusalem, it tells us very little of the work of further evangelization among the Jews; it tells us very little of the history of the mother Church of Jerusalem. After the first chapter, the only apostles named at all are Peter, James, John, and James the Less.f2 And of their work, after those first chapters, we learn only so much as bears upon the admission of Gentiles into the Church of Christ…

The identity of authorship of the Gospel of St. Luke and the Acts of the Apostles is manifest from the dedication of both to Theophilus (<420103>Luke 1:3; <440101>Acts 1:1), and from the reference by the writer of <440101>Acts 1:1 to the Gospel written by him. The details in <440101>Acts 1:1-9 agree closely with <422428>Luke 24:28-51; and there is a striking resemblance of style, phrases, the use of particular words, arrangement of matter, and turn of thought in the two books, which is generally recognized by critics of all schools, and which supports the unanimous testimony of the early Church, that they are both the work of one author. And this resemblance has been lately brought out with remarkable force in one particular, viz. the frequent use of medical terms, both in the Gospel and in the Acts — terms, which in very many instances are found nowhere else in the New Testament (Hobart’s ‘Medical Language of St. Luke:’Longmans)…

Here, again, the inquiry presents no difficulty. The obvious prima facie inference from the abrupt termination of the narrative with the notice of St. Paul’s two years’ abode at Rome is undoubtedly the true one. St. Luke composed his history at Rome, with the help of St. Paul, and completed it early in the year A.D. 63. He may, no doubt, have prepared notes and memoranda and abstracts of speeches which he heard delivered, for several years before, while he was St. Paul’s companion. But the composition of the book is clue to the comparative leisure of himself and his great master during the two years’ imprisonment at Rome. It could not, of course, have been completed earlier, because the narrative comes clown without a break, in one continuous flow, to the time of the imprisonment. It could not possibly have been written later, because the termination of the book marks as plainly as is possible that the writer was writing at the very standpoint to which he had brought down his narrative…

It should be added that the fact of the Gospel of St. Luke having been written before the Acts (<440101>Acts 1:1) presents no difficulty in the way of the above date for the composition of the Acts, as St. Paul’s two years of enforced leisure at Caesarea while St. Luke was with him afforded as convenient and appropriate a time for the composition of the Gospel with St. Paul’s help, as the two years at Rome did for the composition of the Acts…

The inquiry into the sources from which St. Luke derived his knowledge of the facts which he relates is one the fitness of which St. Luke himself assures us of when he is at pains to satisfy us of the sufficiency of his own sources of information in respect to the narrative contained in his Gospelf5 (<420101>Luke 1:1-4; comp. too <440121>Acts 1:21; 10:39-42). It is, then, most satisfactory to know that in St. Luke we have not only an author in whom the historical instinct was most strong and clear, and in whom a calm judicial spirit and a lucid perception of truth were conspicuous qualities, but one who had also had unrivalled opportunities of knowing the certainty of those things which form the subject of his history…

As regards the earlier chapters and the episode from <440932>Acts 9:32 to <441220>Acts 12:20, in which St. Peter occupies so prominent a place, and in which his speeches and actions are so fully described, we cannot say certainly from what source St. Luke derived his knowledge. Many things suggest the thought that he may have learnt them from St. Peter himself; or possibly that there may have been extant some one or more narratives by an eye-witness, whose materials St. Luke incorporated in his own work. These, however, are matters of uncertain conjecture, though the internal evidence of full anti accurate information is unmistakable…

It is interesting to remember, further, that St. Luke must have seen many of the secular personages whom he introduces in his narrative; possibly Herod Agrippa, and presumably his son King Agrippa, Felix, Porcius Festus, Ananias the high priest, Publius, and others. At Rome it is likely that he would see Nero and some of the principal persons of his court. There is no evidence, either in the Gospel or in the Acts, that St. Luke ever saw our Lord. The assertion of Epiphanius and of Adamantius (pseudo- Origen), that he was one of the seventy, carries no weight with it. It is inconsistent with St. Luke’s own statement (<420102>Luke 1:2), and with other traditions, which make him a native of Antioch and one of St. Paul’s converts…

Between the times of Justin and Eusebius there is an abundance of direct quotations from the Acts. The first is in the Epistle of the Churches of Lyons and Vienna, given by Eusebius, ‘Hist. Eccl.,’ bk. 5. Acts 2, where the martyrdom and prayer of Stephen are expressly referred to; and there are many also in Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Julius Africanus, Origen, and others, which may be found in Westcott’s ‘Hist. of the Canon,’and in Lardner’s ‘Credibility of the Gospel History.’..

It is curious to acid that though, as we have seen from the testimony of Eusebius, the Acts of the Apostles was reckoned among the uncontested books of Holy Scripture, it was a book scarcely known at Constantinople in the days of Chrysostom…

Romans

THE authenticity of this Epistle is indisputable, and acknowledged; except that Baur has questioned that of the two concluding chapters. The relation of these two chapters to the body of the Epistle, and the evidence of their having been written as well as the rest by St. Paul, will be considered in loco. The internal evidence of the Epistle as a whole is in itself convincing. In tone of thought, method of argument, and style, it has all the peculiar characteristics of St. Paul. It may be safely said that no one could possibly have written it but himself. The external evidence is no less complete, including the testimony of such early Fathers as Clement of Rome, Polycarp (‘Ad Philip.’), Justin Martyr, Ignatius, and Irenaeus…

Equally certain is our knowledge of the time and place of writing, derived from intimations in the Epistle itself, in conjunction with what is found in other Epistles and in the Acts of the Apostles. It was written from Corinth, in the spring of A.D. 58 (according to the received chronology of the Acts), when St. Paul was about to leave that place to take the alms he had collected to Jerusalem for the relief of the poor Christians there, as related in <442003>Acts 20:3…

Thus the occasion and reason of St. Paul’s sending a letter to the Roman Christians at the time he did are sufficiently obvious. He had long been intending to visit them as soon as he had finished the business he had in hand; he had probably been for some time preparing his long and important letter, which could not have been written hastily, to be sent at the first favourable opportunity; and Phoebe’s voyage to Rome afforded him one…

First, as to the origin of the Roman Church. It had not been founded by St. Paul himself, since it is plain from the Epistle that, when he wrote, he had never been to Rome, and only knew of the Roman Church by report. Nor does the narrative of the Acts allow any time when he could possibly have visited Rome. The tradition, which in time came to be accepted, that St. Peter had already founded it, cannot be true. Eusebius (‘Eccl. Hist.,’ 2:14), expressing this tradition, says that he had gone to Rome in the reign of Claudius to encounter Simon Magus, and thus brought the light of the gospel from the East to those in the West; and in his ‘Chronicon’ he gives the second year of Claudius (i.e. A.D. 42) as the date, adding that he remained at Rome twenty years. The probable origin of this tradition is well and concisely shown in the Introduction to Romans in the ‘Speaker’s Commentary’ (pp. 4, 5). Enough to say here that it has no trustworthy evidence in its favour, and that it is inconsistent with the two facts — firstly, that certainly up to the time of the apostolic conference at Jerusalem (A.D. 52) Peter was still there (cf. <441204>Acts 12:4; 15:7; <480201>Galatians 2:1, seq.); and secondly, that in the Epistle to the Romans St. Paul makes no mention whatever of St. Peter, as he surely would have done if so prominent an apostle had founded, or even so far visited, the Roman Church…

I Corinthians

ALONE, and much disheartened by the unfruitfulness of his sojourn, St. Paul left Athens after his memorable address in the Areopagus, and sailed to Corinth. In about five hours his vessel dropped anchor in the bright waters of the Saronic bay, under the pine woods and low green hills of Cenchreae. A walk of about eight miles along the valley of Hexamili brought him to the city, nestling under the huge mass of its citadel — the famous Acrocorinthus, which flung its dark shadow over each of the city’s double seas. In that city he spent more than a year and a half of his life…

The worst moral sins of the city were dishonesty, drunkenness, and above all, sensuality, which was directly due to the worship of Aphrodite Pandemos, and to the thousand female hieroduli, who were consecrated to her service. Against these sins again and again the apostle lifted up his voice…

It was during the latter part of his residence in the Ionian metropolis — probably a little before Pentecost, A.D. 57 — that he wrote his First Letter to the Corinthians. His intention had been to leave Ephesus shortly and to sail to Corinth. After a brief stay with the Church, he purposed to visit Macedonia, and then to return to Corinth, in order that, after a second visit, the Church might help him forward on his way to Jerusalem (<470115>2 Corinthians 1:15-17). The news which he received from Corinth frustrated this plan He had informed them of it (apparently) in a lost letter, in which he had also given them a rule “not to company with fornicators,” of which they had mistaken the due significance. But in ch. 16. he had silently indicated his change of plan, and this had led his opponents to charge him with insincerity and frivolity (<470117>2 Corinthians 1:17)….

The authenticity of the Epistle is beyond all doubt. It is attested from the very earliest times, and among others by St. Clemens Romanus (A.D. 96), within forty years of the date when the letter was written. Alike the external and the internal evidence is so indisputable, that not a single writer of the smallest importance, however “advanced” his school of criticism, has ever ventured to question its cogency…

II Corinthians

VERY little is needed by way of introduction to the Second Epistle; for it is, in fact, a sequel to the First.

 The apostle’s departure from Ephesus had been precipitated by the tumult, in which, as appears from various scattered references, he had incurred extreme danger of his life. He went straight to Trees, still eager to preach the gospel of Christ. He had told Titus to meet him there; and it was the first place where he could hope to receive any tidings as to the reception by the Corinthians of his first letter — a point respecting which he was painfully anxious. But either St. Paul arrived at Trees earlier than the time appointed, or the journey of Titus had been delayed. St. Paul was preaching with success — “a door was opened for him in the Lord;” but the anxiety to which he found himself a prey rendered it impossible for him to continue his mission. Seeking some relief for the intolerable oppression of his spirit, he hurried to Macedonia, and there, perhaps in Philippi, he first met Titus…

It entirely differs from the First Epistle. That is a letter in which he dealt with practical and speculative difficulties, answering the inquiries and correcting the abuses of a most unsatisfactory Church. The Second Epistle is the impassioned self defence of a wounded spirit to erring and ungrateful children. It is the apostle’s Apologia pro vita end…

Galatians

Amongst these idolatrous nations there was scattered far and wide a large diffusion of Jews, forming, in respect to the spread of the gospel, a most important element of the population. In addition to circumstances tending, here as elsewhere, to their diffusion, it appears that there were some which in Asia Minor were especially operative. Antiochus the Great, King of Syria, before he was compelled towards the close of his long reign to give way in the year B.C. 191 before the advancing power of Rome, held sway over a wide belt of country reaching from the shores of the Ægean right across the continent as far as beyond Babylon. And we learn from Josephus (‘Ant.,’ 12:3, 4) that this king, with a view to the consolidation of his power, ordered his general Zeuxis to remove two thousand Jewish families from Mesopotamia and Babylon into Lydia and Phrygia, and to locate them “in the castles and places most convenient;” at the same time securing to them the free exercise of their religion, making them grants of land for building homes and for husbandry, and conferring various immunities indicative of his confidence in their loyalty to his government…

In Galatia there does not appear to have been any one city which St. Paul made his head-quarters for evangelistic work in any such way as in Asia he made Ephesus his head-quarters, and in Achaia Corinth. We have no mention of Pessinus, or of Ancyra, or of Tavium. The Epistle is addressed to “the Churches of Galatia,” as if there were a number of such Churches, no one of which, perhaps, contained so large a body of members as to give it a distinguishing pre-eminence among the rest…

The manner in which the Epistle opens makes it clear that the apostle addressed himself to the writing of it under the impulse of strong emotion, excited by tidings from Galatia which he had newly received. He had learnt to his grief and astonishment that they were giving heed to certain who would fain “turn the doctrine of the gospel of Christ into its clean contrary,” and yielding themselves to their direction...

If the above reasonings, from data which are confessedly in some degree problematical, appear, however, to be on the whole approvable, then we arrive at the result that the entire business of the Galatian trouble had been brought to a satisfactory conclusion before the apostle dispatched his first letter to the Corinthians. This, as was above stated, he did probably about the Easter-tide of either the year 57 or the year 58. We may, therefore, assume it to be probable that the Epistle to the Galatians was written some time in the winter months preceding that Easter, possibly as late as in the preceding January.

As the Epistle was written after St. Paul had visited Galatia a second time (<480413>Galatians 4:13), we are constrained to assign it to this third great journey of his; for it would be doing great violence to the probabilities of the case not to identify the two visits which the language of the Epistle presupposes with the two which are mentioned in the Acts…

The apostle’s object in the Epistle is to recall the Galatians to the gospel which they had at the first received from himself — the unchangeable gospel of justification by the free grace of God, simply through faith in Christ, and not by deeds of the Law. To this end he finds it necessary to make it clear that he had received from Christ, and from no man, alike his function as apostle and the message which, as such, he had to deliver, — two points inseparably intertwined…

Ephesians

TILL the days of De Wette, who was followed by Baur and Schwegler, Dr. Samuel Davidson, and some others, it was never doubted that the Epistle to the Ephesians was written by St. Paul. This had been all along the uniform tradition of the Church. The external evidence in his favor is about as strong as the ease admits of. The list of early writers who are believed to attest this includes Ignatius, Polycarp, Marcion, Valentinus, Irenaeus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Tertullian, and the author of the Muratorian Canon, and thereafter the Epistle is constantly included among thePauline writings. It is not alleged that there is the faintest external evidence in favor of any other writer.

It is solely on internal grounds that the anti-Paulinists base their opinion…

1. Generally, it is alleged that the Epistle is a somewhat wordy repetition of that to the Colossians, and that so fresh and vigorous a mind as that of the apostle would not have been likely to repeat itself in such a way.

2. There are expressions that seem to show that the writer had never been at Ephesus; e.g. <490115>Ephesians 1:15, he has heard of the faith, etc., of the Ephesians; <490302>Ephesians 3:2, 3, the Ephesians may have heard of the commission given him; <490421>Ephesians 4:21, “If so be ye have heard him.” Such expressions seem to show uncertainty as to their position and knowledge.

3. There are no salutations to the members of the Church at Ephesus, as we should certainly have looked for, considering how long St. Paul was there (<442031>Acts 20:31).

4. The Church at Ephesus consisted of both Jews and Gentiles (<441908>Acts 19:8-10, 17); but the Epistle is addressed wholly to Gentiles, and rests mainly on the fact that privileges of equal value had been brought to them by the instrumentality of the apostle.

5. Many things in style, sentiment, and aim are not Pauline.

The hypothesis as to the authorship which those who hold these views have adopted is that some worthy man, residing at Rome, wishing to do good to the Ephesians, or perhaps to a cluster of Churches of which that at Ephesus was one, wrote this Epistle, and, in order to obtain acceptance for it, issued it in the name of Paul; nor was this an absolute fabrication, for, as it consists to a large extent of the views of Paul as expressed in the Epistle to the Colossians, it really is in substance Pauline…

In this hypothesis, the error is committed, so common with critics of the new light, of removing one set of difficulties by creating much greater. The difficulties of the new view are both moral and intellectual. Morally, there is the very serious difficulty of giving, as author of the Epistle, the name of one who was not its author…

The real writer assumes Paul’s name; he not only trifles with the apostle, but with the Divine authority which all true apostles enjoyed. Intellectually, the hypothesis has this difficulty — it maintains that Paul could not have been the author, yet that, from the very beginning, the Church accepted him as the author. The writer makes it plain that he was never at Ephesus, but the blind Ephesians received the letter as from Paul, who had been three years there. The style, the sentiment, the aim, are not Pauline, yet they were accepted as such. The writer was so careless that he did not take the trouble to avoid expressions that could not have been written by Paul; and the recipients were so stupid that, in spite of these things, they accepted it as his…

Philippians

The Epistle to the Philippians was written about thirty years after the Ascension, about ten years after the first preaching of the gospel by St. Paul at Philippi. Christianity was still young, in all the freshness of its first youth. It had come suddenly into the world. The world seemed growing old: the old religions had lost whatever power they once possessed; the old philosophies were worn out; the energies of political life had been weakened or suppressed by the all-pervading despotism of Rome…

St. Paul wrote four Epistles during his first Roman imprisonment — to the Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians, and to Philemon. The three last were evidently written about the same time. The Epistle to the Philippians has been commonly regarded as the latest of the four. But some writers (notably Bishop Lightfoot, to whom all students of St. Paul’s Epistles owe more than they can well express) place it early in the first Roman imprisonment, while they assign the other three to as late a date as possible.

The Epistle implies the existence of a large Christian community at Rome, much activity in preaching, party spirit too, and divisions. The gospel had penetrated even to Nero’s establishment on the Palatine; there were Christians, apparently not a few, in Caesar’s household. The bonds of the apostle were known, not only throughout the praetorium, but “to all the rest.” This great progress seems to require a considerable time…

Again, the various communications between Rome and Philippi are thought to imply a late date for our Epistle. The Philippians had heard of St. Paul’s arrival at Rome. They had sent Epaphroditus with contributions for the relief of his wants. Epaphroditus had a dangerous illness, the result of overexertion. News of his illness had reached Philippi. And lastly, Epaphroditus had heard that the report of his danger had greatly distressed the Philippians.

But the time required for these communications is not very long. The distance from Rome to Philippi is about seven hundred miles. Each journey would occupy about a month (see Bishop Lightfoot’s note, ‘Philippians,’ p. 38). And no one supposes that St. Paul could have written the Epistle till he had resided several months in Rome…

On the other hand, we must remember that the Epistles to the Romans and Philippians cannot be separated by an interval of less than three years; while the last Epistle, on the hypothesis of its priority, cannot have been written more than two years before those to the Ephesians and Colossians. The close resemblance, therefore, between the Epistles to the Romans and Philippians can scarcely be due exclusively to nearness of date. It may result in large measure from the fact that both Epistles are the spontaneous utterances of the apostle’s heart. They were not elicited, like the Epistles to the Corinthians or the Galatians, by the special circumstances, errors, or backslidings of the Churches addressed…

The Epistle is essentially Pauline; it reflects the character, the heart, the teaching, of St. Paul. Its language and style are St. Paul’s; especially it bears a close resemblance, both in teaching and in words, to the Epistle to the Romans, one of the four Epistles which Baur regards as undoubtedly Pauline. It is simply inconceivable that a forger could have so successfully imitated the apostle’s manner, could have poured forth that warm flood of affection, or could have so exactly adapted his production to the circumstances both of St. Paul and of the Philippians…

There is large external testimony to our Epistle. We meet with words and expressions from it reproduced in the earliest Christian writings; in Clement of Rome, in Ignatius, in Polycarp, in the epistle to Diognetus. Polycarp, when himself writing to the Philippians, speaks of the Epistle which they had received from St. Paul. Men who had known St. Paul, who had contributed to his necessities, may well have been living at Philippi when Polycarp’s letter was received, A.D. 107. There is a distinct quotation from the Epistle in the letter from the Churches of Lyons and Vienne (A.D. 177), preserved in the ‘Ecclesiastical History’ of Eusebius (v. 2), where the words of <501706>Philippians 2:6 are cited. In the same century it is quoted by Irenaeus, by Clement of Alexandria, and by Tertullian…

Colossians

When he wrote this letter, the apostle was a prisoner (<510403>Colossians 4:3, 18: comp. <490301>Ephesians 3:1, 13; 4:1; 6:19, 20; <500112>Philippians 1:12-20; <570109>Philemon 1:9, 10, 13), suffering for the cause of Gentile Christianity (<510124>Colossians 1:24-27: comp. <490301>Ephesians 3:1-6, 13). We cannot doubt, therefore, that it was written during the long imprisonment (A.D. 58 or 59 to 62, 63) — first in Caesarea, then in Rome — which ensued on the attack made on his life in Jerusalem, due to the animosity of the “Jews from Asia” (<442127>Acts 21:27), whose hatred was roused by the success of his ministry among the Gentiles.

The Epistle to the Philippians, we know, was written from Rome (<500113>Philippians 1:13; 4:22); and it has been generally assumed, according to the subscription of the Received Text, that the other three letters of this period date likewise from the same city. Meyer, Reuss, and others have, however, contended for Caesarea as their birthplace, but on insufficient grounds. Rome was the most likely place in the world for the runaway Onesimus to seek to hide in. There, too, St. Paul was allowed, as a prisoner, considerable freedom; and communication with distant Churches was probably easier and less jealously guarded than at Caesarea…

It is quite evident that the Epistle to Philemon and that to the Ephesians were written contemporaneously with this. The relation between Ephesians and Colossians is closer than that which exists between any other of St. Paul’s writings. They are twins, the offspring of one birth in the writer’s mind. Their connection we shall discuss more fully afterwards. The Epistle to the Philippians stands distinctly apart from these Epistles, both in its contents and style, though, at the same time, it has unmistakable affinities with them. It matters little whether we suppose it to have preceded or followed them in its composition…

It is the less necessary to defend the authenticity of this Epistle, assailed first by Mayerhoff (1838) and then more dangerously by Baur, since Holtzmann and Pfieiderer, the ablest representatives of the school of Baur who have dealt with the subject, acknowledge that “there is so much that is genuinely Pauline in it, that it is almost impossible to regard the whole of the Epistle as a later production.” Its partial authenticity being allowed, the course of the Exposition will show that the Epistle is thoroughly consecutive, and is entirely a unity from beginning to end…

“The external testimony to oar Epistle is so ancient and unbroken and general, that from this side no well-founded doubt can be raised” (Meyer). It appears in the Muratorian Canon, the earliest detailed list of the New Testament writings, drawn up about the end of the second century. The Church Fathers of the second and third centuries, Irenaeus, Tertullian, the Alexandrian Clement, and Origen, quote it repeatedly and amply, in the form in which we possess it, without hesitation or variation, as a work of the Apostle Paul and an authoritative Church document…

I Thessalonians

THERE is no doubt that the author of this First Epistle to the Thessalonians is the Apostle Paul. This is one of those scriptural writings the genuineness of which has been almost universally acknowledged. It has been called in question only by theologians of the most extreme school of criticism,f1 and has even been admitted by some belonging to that school.f2

The external evidence in its favor is strong. It is indirectly alluded to by the apostolic Fathers; it is directly referred to by such early Fathers as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian; it is contained in theMuratorian Canon, and in the early Syriac and Latin versions belonging to the second century; and its genuineness has never been challenged until recent times…

The character of Paul is distinctly impressed upon this Epistle; his intense love for his converts, his anxiety about their spiritual welfare, his joy when he receives a favorable account of their faith and charity, his zeal for the cause of the Lord for

which he is ready to sacrifice everything, his noble independence of spirit, — all these characteristics of the apostle are seen in this Epistle. So also the style and mode of expression are Paul’s. We have the same employment of emphatic terms, the same rich use of synonyms, the same accumulation of ideas, the same digressions suggested by a word, the same preference for participial constructions as are elsewhere found in Paul’s other Epistles…

But liveliness, personality, similar traits of disposition, are more difficult to invent than statements of doctrine. A later age might have supplied these, but it could hardly have caught the very likeness and portrait of the apostle.... Such intricate similarities of language, such lively traits of character, it is not within the power of any forger to invent, and, least of all, a forger of the second century.”f3 Nor is there anything in the contents of the Epistle at variance with the opinion that it was written by Paul…

Now, as the Epistle is written in the joint names of Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus, it is evident that it was not composed until all three met together at Corinth. Some time also must have elapsed between the planting of Christianity in Thessalonica and the writing of this Epistle. Paul had twice attempted to visit them; Timothy had been sent by the apostle and had returned from his mission; and the faith of the Thessalonians had been spread abroad throughout Macedonia and Achaia (<520107>1 Thessalonians 1:7, 8). The interval, however, could not have been long…

We may, therefore, safely fix the time of the composition of the Epistle toward the close of the year 52 or the beginning of the year 53, and during the early part of Paul’s residence at Corinth, about six months after the planting of Christianity in Thessalonica…

Accordingly the place of writing was Corinth. In our New Testament, at the end of the Epistle, there is appended the note: “The First Epistle to the Thessalonians was written from Athens.” Though such a note is found in the most ancient manuscripts, it is evidently a mistake. The Epistle could not have been written from Athens, for Silas and Timothy were not both there with the apostle; and it was not written until the return of Timothy from Thessalonica, which occurred at Corinth; nor is there any ground for the supposition that Paul and his companions, during his residence at Corinth, made a short excursion to Athens…

II Thessalonians

THE external evidence in favour of the authenticity of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians is even stronger than that in favour of the First Epistle. In consequence of the prediction of the “man of sin,” contained in the second chapter, which prediction made a great impression on the early Church, it is more frequently referred to and quoted by the Christian Fathers. The testimonies of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clemens of Alexandria, and Tertullian may all be appealed to…

Nor is the internal evidence by any means deficient. The character of Paul is impressed upon this Epistle; his lively sympathy with his converts, his gratitude to God for the increase of their faith and love, his joy in their spiritual welfare, his tenderness when censuring them, his assertion of his apostolic authority, his reference to his former instructions, his request for an interest in their prayers, — all these characteristics of the apostle are found in this Epistle. The style is undoubtedly Pauline. We have the same form of salutation at the beginning and of benediction at the close, the same parallelisms, the same digressions and expansions, the same expressions and peculiarities of diction, which are elsewhere found in Paul’s other Epistles…

This Epistle was evidently written shortly after the First. Silas and Timothy, as in the First Epistle, are conjoined with Paul in the salutation, and were consequently still in his company when he wrote this Epistle. But when Paul left Corinth, we are not informed that these two fellow workers accompanied him (<441708>Acts 17:8); nor, from what appears, were they ever afterwards both together with him. Timothy, we are informed, rejoined Paul at Ephesus (<441922>Acts 19:22); but there is no further mention of Silas in the Acts of the Apostles…

We cannot be wrong in fixing the time of the composition of this Epistle to the later part of Paul’s residence in Corinth, or to the close of A.D. 53. Calvin is undoubtedly mistaken when he supposes that this Epistle was written during the last journey of Paul to Jerusalem, supposing that the “unreasonable and wicked men” were the Judaizing Christians who dogged his steps…