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Descriptions for the Biblical Books-4

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 Four: I Timothy to Revelation

I Timothy, II Timothy, Titus

(Otherwise known as the Pastoral Epistles and why our source groups these books together we do not know. We are limited to what or source presents thus we will include all three books here)

The authenticity of these Epistles, as the genuine works of the Apostle Paul, whose name is prefixed to all three, rests upon the twofold authority of external witnesses and internal evidence…

The external witness is as follows. Eusebius reckons them (“the fourteen Epistles of Paul”) among the universally acknowledged books of Holy Scripture, and speaks of them as manifest and certain (‘Eccl. Hist.,’ III. 3. and 25.), with some reservation as to the Epistle to the Hebrews. The Muratorian Canon (about A.D. 170) includes thirteen Epistles of St. Paul, excluding the Epistle to the Hebrews; the Peschito Canon (of about the same date) reckons fourteen Epistles of St. Paul, including the Epistle to the Hebrews (“Canon,” in ‘Dictionary of Bible’); and they have never been doubted by any Church writers, but have held their place in all the canons of East and West…

Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 194) again and again quotes both Epistles to Timothy, and says that the heretics reject them because their errors are refuted by them (‘Strom.,’ 2., 3., and 1.). He quotes also the Epistle to Titus. Many other references and quotations may be found in Lardner (vol. 1.), as well as in various ‘Introductions,’ as Huther, Olshausen, Alfbrd (where they are very clearly arranged); “Speaker’s Commentary;” New Testament Commentary,’ edited by the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol; ‘Dictionary of Bible,’ art. “Timothy,” etc. But the above establish conclusively the acceptance of these Epistles as authentic by the unanimous consent of Church writers of the three first centuries of the Christian era — a unanimity which continued down to the present century...

The internal evidence is no less strong. We must remember that, if these Epistles are not St. Paul’s, they are artful forgeries, written for the express purpose of deceiving. Is it possible to suppose that writings so grave, so sober, so simple and yet so powerful; breathing such a noble spirit of love and goodness, of high courage and holy resolves; replete with such great wisdom and such exalted piety; having no apparent object but the wellbeing of the Christian societies to which they refer; and so well calculated to promote that well-being; were written with a pen steeped in lies and falsehood? It is impossible to suppose it. The transparent truth of these Epistles is their own credential that they are the work of him whose name they hear…

But all the details of the Epistles point to the same conclusion. While there is a marked and striking difference in the vocabulary of these Epistles, which a forger would have avoided (to which we shall revert by-and-by), there is an identity of tone and sentiment, and also of words and phrases, which bespeaks them to be the birth of the same brain as the other universally acknowledged Epistles of St. Paul…

But when we pass from these resemblances in mere diction to consider the intellectual power, the verve, and Divine glow of the pastoral Epistles, the evidence is overwhelming. Place by their side the epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, or the epistles of Ignatius and Polycarp, or the (so-called) ‘Epistle of Barnabas,’ and you feel the immeasurable difference between them. The combination of mental vigor and sober, practical good sense, and sagacious intuition with regard to men and things, and extensive knowledge, with fervent zeal, and enthusiasm of temperament, and ardent piety, and entire self-sacrifice, and heavenly mindedness, and the upward, onward movement of the whole inner man under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit, producing an inartistic eloquence of immense force and persuasiveness, is found in these pastoral Epistles, as in all the other Epistles of this great apostle; but it is found nowhere else…

Applying, further, the usual tests of authenticity, we may observe that all the historical and chronological marks which we can discover in these Epistles agree with the theory of their being written in the reign of the Emperor Nero…

Again, the restless state of the Jewish mind, and the unhealthy crop of heresies, containing the germ of later Gnosticism, springing up amongst the semi-Christian Jews, which is reflected in the pastoral Epistles, is in accordance with all that we know of Jewish sectarianism at this time, as depicted by Philo, Josephus, and other later writers…

The conclusion, then, with regard to the internal marks of style, diction, sentiment, doctrine, incidental allusions to men, and things, and places, and institutions, is that they are in full accordance with the external testimony which assigns these Epistles undoubtingly to the apostle whose name they bear; and that the pastoral Epistles are the authentic works of St. Paul…

To begin with their chronology relatively to each other. Drawing our conclusions solely from the Epistles themselves, the order which naturally presents itself is the following:

(1) the Epistle to Titus;

(2) the First Epistle to Timothy;

(3) the Second Epistle to Timothy

And this order is founded upon the following reasons. All the internal marks of the Epistles indicate, according to the almost unanimous opinion of commentators, that they were written at no long interval from one another. This is indicated, as regards Titus and 1 Timothy, by the dose resemblance of matter and words, analogous to the resemblances of the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians; and, as regards 2 Timothy and the two other Epistles, partly by the same kind of resemblances (though less frequent), by the evidences of the same enemies and the same difficulties having to be encountered by Timothy at the time of the writing of the Second Epistle that existed at the time of writing the first; and further, by the route indicated in 2 Timothy as taken by St. Paul shortly before that Epistle was written, agreeing exactly with that which may be inferred from the Epistle to Titus and the First Epistle to Timothy…

The internal evidence of that Epistle also points to Rome as the place where it was written. If <540117>1 Timothy 1:17 relates to a recent visit of Onesiphorus, that would, of course, be in itself decisive evidence. But, omitting that as doubtful, we may take <540401>1 Timothy 4:17 as at least probably indicating Rome as the place where he was at the time. The seat of judgment, the presence of the emperor, the concourse of the Gentiles, the names of the persons sending salutations, including Linus, the first Bishop of Rome, and the expressions of the near approach of his death in <540407>1 Timothy 4:7, 8, leave little doubt that he was now at Rome; and, if so, 2 Timothy must have been the last of the three pastoral Epistles…

Upon the whole, we conclude, with confidence, that the pastoral Epistles were written subsequently to St. Paul’s imprisonment at Rome related in Acts 28., and shortly before his martyrdom in the imperial city as related in ecclesiastical history…

As regards the absolute date of the pastoral Epistles, they may, with most probability, be assigned to the year A.D. 65, A.D. 66, or A.D. 67, according as St. Paul’s martyrdom is assigned to A.D. 66, A.D. 67, or A.D. 68. Eusebius (‘Chronic.’ A., 2083) says, under the thirteenth year of Nero, that Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom; while Jerome places it in the fourteenth year. It is impossible to arrive at certainty in the matter. Some considerations point strongly to A.D. 65 for the Epistles, and A.D. 66 for the martyrdom…

Philemon

This brief letter is the only specimen preserved to us of St. Paul’s private correspondence. It is, perhaps, surprising that no more of St. Paul’s private letters have come down to historic times; for it hardly admits of doubt that he must have written very many. His vigor and activity of mind were so great, his affections were so warm and tender, and his acquaintances (not to say friends) throughout Asia Minor, Greece, and Syria were so numerous, that he could hardly fail to have correspondents in many lands; and we may be permitted to wonder that only a single letter should have remained out of so many…

We learn from <510407>Colossians 4:7-9 that that Epistle was brought to Colossae by Tychicus and Onesimus; and our Epistle suggests in almost every line, though there is no distinct statement on the subject, that the same persons, or possibly Onesimus alone, were the bearers of it also. The date of this Epistle will therefore be determined by that to the Colossians (Introduction to which, see); and it will be sufficient to notice here that it must in all probability be assigned to the very end of St. Paul’s first imprisonment at Rome, viz. (the spring of) A.D. 62 to (the spring of) A.D. 64, i.e. the autumn of A.D. 63…

The evidence for or against this opinion is not very abundant, but, such as it is, it mostly looks in one direction. It is clear from Vers. 9 and 10 that the Epistle was written during a long imprisonment of the writer. Now, the outline of St. Paul’s career up to about A.D. 62 is clearly known from the account in the Acts of the Apostles, and there are in it only two long imprisonments — at Caesarea, and that (the first) at Rome. If it does not date from the one of these, then it must from the other…

These are entirely a matter of inference, and the essentially private nature of the entire incident renders it by no means surprising that no historical corroborations of them can be adduced. Onesimus had, it is not obscurely intimated, escaped from the rule of his master, and fled. Whither he went at the time must be doubtful; but at length he found his way, as it seems, to Rome. The number of slaves in Asia Minor, as in Attica, was very large.

The Greek colonies in Asia Minor were long the chief sources of the supply of slaves, and they were chiefly obtained, no doubt, from the interior of Asia, which lay behind these colonies; just as even up to the present day Egypt has been the chief slave-market, because the breadth of the continent of Africa lies behind it, and affords, or did afford, an inexhaustible supply of this human merchandise…

That this brief Epistle was written by the Apostle Paul seems the clearer the longer it is studied. Meyer does not at all exaggerate when he declares that it bears “directly and vividly the stamp of genuineness.” And it is so brief that it enters not at all upon debatable ground. It has no directions for Church organization, such as are found in the Epistles to Timothy; nor warnings against Gnosticism, which are objected to as anachronisms belonging to a later age. Slavery belongs to all ages of the ancient world, and it is an incident in the life of a Phrygian slave that occasioned the writing of this Epistle. Nor does it travel scarcely, if at all, out of the sphere of the household, and of the simpler moral principles and human emotions. It moves in the piano of practical life; the doctrinal or devotional it barely enters…

It is a courteous and even affectionate communication from the apostle to one who, though bound to respect his official position, and under great personal obligations to him, was yet not familiarly known to him. He had to do a very difficult thing — to come between a master and his slave, to take what by some men and in some circumstances might have been thought a great and unwarranted liberty. Did he demand the freedom of Onesimus by his apostolic authority, it might appear that he was magnifying his office overmuch. If he should put into too great prominence the spiritual obligations under which Philemon lay, the act would be ungenerous, and would go far to cancel them. Yet he could not send back the young man Onesimus to meet the punishment of a runaway…

Hebrews

THOUGH the Epistle to the Hebrews was not in all quarters received unreservedly into the canon from the first, and though its authorship is still uncertain, yet none can reasonably doubt its early origin in the later period of the apostolic age. The evidence is both internal and external. The frequent allusions in it to Judaism, with its ritual, as a still existing system, are such as to render highly improbable any date after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, A.D. 70. It is true that the mere use of verbs in the present with reference to the temple services would not be in itself conclusive; for this usage continued after the destruction of the temple, being found in Josephus…

Thus we may safely take the above date, A.D. 70, as a terminus ad quem, being only two years after the martyrdom of St. Paul, and many before the death of St. John. Strong also is the external evidence of an early date. Clement of Rome, about whom there can be no reasonable doubt that he was a disciple of the apostles and that he superintended the Church of Rome not long at least after St. Peter and St. Paul had suffered, and whose first Epistle to the Corinthians is undeniably genuine, uses language in that epistle which proves his acquaintance with the Epistle to the Hebrews…

While internal evidence, as above noticed, seems to preclude any date later than A.D. 70, so does it, on the other hand, any very much earlier. For the readers are addressed as members of a Church of old standing: they are reminded of “the former days,” when they had been at first “illuminated,” and of persecution endured in the past; sufficient time had elapsed for them to show serious signs of wavering from their early steadfastness; and their “leaders, who had spoken to them the Word of God,” had already passed away, being referred to in terms that suggest the idea of martyrdom (<581307>Hebrews 13:7)…

Be it observed, in the first place, that the Epistle is itself anonymous. The writer never mentions his own name or intimates who he is. Hence the questions of authorship and of canonicity may, in this case, be kept distinct. This could not be in the case of any of St. Paul’s undoubted Epistles, in all of which he gives his own name and designation, and often alludes in detail to his circumstances at the time of writing and his relations to the persons addressed. In such cases denial of the alleged authorship would involve denial of the writing being what it professes to be, and hence of its claim to be included in the canon as genuine and authoritative. But it is not so in the case before us. Nor does deference to the judgment or consentient traditions of the Church require us to conclude St. Paul to have been the author…

The earliest known allusion to the authorship of the Epistle is that of Clement of Alexandria, already referred to as having often quoted it in his extant works, spoken of it himself, and recorded something that Pantaenus before him had said of it…And as to the Epistle to the Hebrews, he says that it is Paul’s, but that it was written to the Hebrews in the Hebrew language, and that Luke translated it carefully and published it to the Greeks; that consequently there is found the same color, with regard to style, in this Epistle and in the Acts; but that it is not prefaced by ‘Paul the apostle’ with good reason; ‘for’ (says he) ‘as he was sending it to the Hebrews, who had conceived a prejudice against him and suspected him, he very wisely did not repel them at the beginning by appending his name…

Now, let us here observe that Origen does not, any more than his predecessors, dispute the essentially Pauline origin of the Epistle. Of this he is satisfied, both on the ground of the ancient tradition to which he properly attaches great importance, and also on the ground of the ideas of the Epistle being so entirely worthy of the great apostle…

After Origen, Dionysius of Alexandria (Hebrews A.D. 264-5), the bishops who succeeded him, and all the ecclesiastical writers of Egypt, Syria, and the East generally, cite the Epistle without hesitation as St. Paul’s…

In the West, however, there was not for some centuries any such general acceptance of the Epistle as Pauline. Though Clement’s use of it, above referred to, shows that it was certainly known at Rome at the end of the first century, yet it is plain that the later Western Fathers, till the fourth century, did not recognize it as having the authority of St. Paul…

The internal evidence of some other actual writer than St. Paul does not rest solely or principally on the number of words and expressions in the Epistle which are not found in St. Paul’s acknowledged writings…

That the Epistle was written, independently of St. Paul, by some associate who was familiar with his teaching, anti gave his own expression to it…

Its claim to be included in the canon as inspired and authoritative is, as has been already observed, independent of its authorship. It is enough that it should have been written by one of the gifted ones, during the period of the special activity of the inspiring Spirit; else were the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospels of St. Mark and St. Luke to be accounted uncanonical, none of these claiming apostolic authorship…

It was apparently only because its authorship was questioned that its claim to canonicity was in the first instance questioned too…

As to the internal evidence of the Epistle itself, it is not only not against, but strongly in favor of, its claim to canonicity…

James

The following is a list of all those of this name mentioned in the New

Testament: —

1. James the brother of John, the son of Zebedee and Salome: put to death by Herod, A.D. 44 (<441202>Acts 12:2).

2. James the brother of the Lord (<401355>Matthew 13:55; <410603>Mark 6:3; <480119>Galatians 1:19).

3. James the son of Mary (<402756>Matthew 27:56; <422410>Luke 24:10, equivalent to James the Little; <411540>Mark 15:40).

4. James the son of Alphaeus (<401003>Matthew 10:3; <410318>Mark 3:18; <420615>Luke 6:15; <440113>Acts 1:13).

5. James the father of Jude (<420616>Luke 6:16; <440113>Acts 1:13. The ellipse in

the expression, jIou>dan jIakw>bou, is rightly supplied in the Revised Version, “Judas the son of James,” not as A.V. “brother”).

6. James (<441217>Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; <461507>1 Corinthians 15:7; <480209>Galatians 2:9, 12).

7. James the brother of Jude (Jude 1).

8. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ (<590101>James 1:1)…

that if the two Jameses are distinct, then one of them, James the son of Alphaeus, one of the twelve, disappears altogether from the New Testament after <440113>Acts 1:13, his place being silently taken by another “James,” whose relationship is not specified in the Acts, and who at once fakes a prominent position in the Church. This is an important consideration, and has scarcely had sufficient weight attached to it…

He will, therefore, leave it undecided whether the author of our Epistle was the first cousin of the Lord, or his reputed half-brother, a son of Joseph by a former wife…

The terminus ad quem is definitely fixed by the death of St. James in A.D. 62…

How much earlier the Epistle was written will depend upon the view taken of its relation to the writings of St. Paul and St. Peter…

It is, perhaps, impossible to fix one with any degree of exactness, but the arguments for an early rather than a late date seem to the present writer overwhelming…

From the absence of all reference to Gentile Christianity, and the questions which arose between Jewish and Gentile Christians, it may fairly be argued that the Epistle was written even prior to the Council of Jerusalem, A.D. 50. On the whole, then, we conclude’ that we have before us the very earliest of the writings of the New Testament…

The place from which the Epistle was written was undoubtedly Jerusalem. Every notice of St. James, scriptural, historical, and legendary, connects him with this city, and no other place has ever been seriously suggested. Internal evidence points to the same locality…

Thus the Epistle would seem to have been unknown to the African Church of the first three centuries. Elsewhere the case is different…

From the days of Eusebius down to the sixteenth century scarcely a doubt was raised with regard to its authenticity. At the time of the Reformation its claims were again subjected to a close scrutiny, and, on grounds of internal evidence and supposed opposition to “Pauline” teaching, some writers were inclined to reject it. Luther’s hasty and unjust estimate is well known…

1. The Epistle is contained in the following uncial manuscripts: — The four great Bibles of the fourth and fifth centuries. Codex Vaticanus (B) and Codex Sinaiticus (a), of the fourth century; Codex Alexandrinus (A) and Codex Ephraemi (C), of the fifth century. (The last-mentioned manuscript is defective towards the close of the Epistle, and only contains <590101>James 1:1 — 4:2.) Besides these, it is found in three secondary uncials: Codex Mosquensis (K2), of the ninth century; Codex Angelicus (L, formerly G), of the ninth century (quite a different manuscript from the very valuable L, Codex Regius, of the Gospels); Codex Porphyrianus (P), a palimpsest of the ninth century, published by Tischendorf (in this <590212>James 2:12-21 are barely legible).

2. Besides these uncial manuscripts, it is contained in more than two hundred cursive manuscripts….

As has been already mentioned, it was not in the original old Latin Version, as made in Africa. It is found, however, in Codex Corbeiensis (ff), which apparently contains an Italian recension of the text, and, partially in (m) the readings extracted by Mai from a speculum wrongly ascribed to Augustine…

I Peter

THERE are modern writers who describe the teaching of this Epistle as “an insipid Paulinism.” To the believer it is one of the most precious parts of Holy Scripture. It is characterized by a depth of conviction, a vivid realization of the spiritual blessings, the living hope, the abiding joy, which spring from a true faith in Christ; by a firm grasp of the necessity of reality in the Christian life, of resolute self-denial and patient obedience; by a deep and true sympathy with suffering Christians; by a steadfast faith in the Lord’s atonement and the power and preciousness of his example; by an earnest presentation of the duties of humility, brotherly love, endurance, trustfulness, perseverance; by a calm and holy wisdom, worthy of the first of the apostles, worthy of him to whom the Lord had given the significant name of Peter, who “seemed to be a pillar” (<480209>Galatians 2:9) of the rising Church…

These and other similar coincidences with the Lord’s words as reported in the Gospels are so simple and unaffected, they seem to come so naturally to the writer’s thoughts, that we are led at once to infer that that writer must be one who, like St. John, could declare to others that which he had heard, which he had seen with his eyes. Some of them point in an especial manner to the Apostle St. Peter as the writer of the Epistle. The argument is strengthened by the resemblances which exist between the language and teaching of the Epistle and the speeches of St. Peter recorded in the Acts of the Apostles…

The external evidence for the authenticity of the Epistle is very strong… But in Clement of Rome there are more than fifteen references to it; some clear and certain, such as “his marvelous light;” others less marked. In Polycarp’s ‘Epistle to the Philippians’ (and Polycarp was bishop of one of the Churches addressed by St. Peter) there are so many undoubted quotations from this Epistle that the modern assailants of its authenticity have no resource but to attack (without any sufficient grounds) the genuineness of Polycarp’s epistle…

Though we cannot fix the exact date of the Epistle, there are indications which help us to determine the limits of time within which it must have been written. In the first place, the writer was evidently well acquainted with the Epistle to the Ephesians, which was written about the year 63, towards the end of St. Paul’s first Roman imprisonment. St. Peter cannot have written till some little time after that date, for the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians — the former of which was probably a circular letter addressed to several of the Churches of Asia Minor — give no hints of such sufferings as those mentioned by St. Peter. But he must have written before the outbreak of any systematic attempt to crush out Christianity, or any legalized persecution such as that under Trajan…

From <600513>1 Peter 5:13 we infer that it was written “at Babylon.” It has, however, been held by many writers, ancient and modern, that St. Peter is using the word “Babylon” metaphorically, as a cryptograph, and that he was really writing at Rome. This was the opinion, according to Eusebius (‘Hist. Eccl.,’ II. 15:2), of Papias and Clement of Alexandria. Jerome and OEcumenius took the same view, which was generally accepted up to the time of the Reformation. It is also urged that there is no historical evidence of the existence of a Christian Church at Babylon, and that the large Jewish population which was once settled there, and to which St. Peter, as the apostle of the circumcision, would probably address his ministrations, had been destroyed or had migrated about A.D. 40 (see Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 18. 9)…

In answer to the last two arguments, it may be urged that the absence of any notice of a Babylonian Church does not prove that the gospel had never been preached at Babylon: St. Peter’s preaching may have been unsuccessful there. The apostle did not confine his ministrations to the Jews; he may have preached to Babylonian Gentiles; though, indeed, it is quite possible that many Jews may have returned to Babylon by the time of his visit…

There seem therefore, to be no sufficient grounds for importing a figurative meaning into St Peter’s words. If he was writing from Rome, it seems strange that he should make no mention of St. Paul, who, if not then present at Rome, was so closely connected with the Roman Church, and so well known to the Christians of Asia Minor…

It is true that we have no historical evidence of a journey to Babylon; but then we have no certain records of the apostle’s history after the date of his leaving Antioch (<480211>Galatians 2:11). We may, amid the confusion of romance and legend, see sufficient reason for accepting the ancient tradition of his preaching and martyrdom at Rome; but it cannot be said that even this belief rests on sure historical grounds. There was a Babylon in Egypt, a fortress mentioned by Strabo, bk. 17. But if St. Peter had been writing from a place so little known, he would surely have described it as the Egyptian Babylon…

II Peter

IN considering the genuineness of this Epistle we are confronted at once with the well-known words of Eusebius. He says, in his ‘Ecclesiastical History,’ which seems to have been finished in A.D. 325, “One Epistle of Peter, which is called the first, is accepted; and this the presbyters of old have used in their writings as undoubted. But that which is circulated as his Second Epistle we have received to be not canonical. Nevertheless, as it appeared to many to be useful, it has been diligently read with the other Scriptures” (Eusebius, ‘Hist. Eccl.,’ 3:3)…

There are no direct quotations from this Epistle in the Christian writings of the first two centuries; there are, however, some scattered allusions which seem to imply acquaintance with it…

After the time of Eusebius the Epistle seems to have been generally received. Doubts were occasionally expressed, as by Gregory of Nazianzen and Theodore of Mopsuestia, who is said to have rejected both Epistles…

We must remember also that the Epistles, especially the second, are short compositions; they furnish us with scarcely sufficient data to enable us to form an authoritative decision on a question so complicated and so delicate as that of style…

Another important element in the evidence for the authenticity of this Epistle is its own intrinsic power and beauty. We have several Christian writings of the second century; they are precious for many reasons; we should be very sorry to be without any one of them. But the value of them all put together is as nothing compared with that of this Epistle…

The books of Holy Scripture and human compositions lie in different planes; they do not bear comparison. There is an indescribable something in the Word of God which appeals to the human nature which God created, to the conscience which bears witness of him — something which tells us that the message comes from God. The Second Epistle of St. Peter possesses that authority, that holy beauty, those notes of inspiration which differentiate the sacred writings from the works of men…

The apostle was looking forward to the putting off of his earthly tabernacle. His martyrdom may have taken place about the year 68; probably this Epistle was written not long before. There is no evidence of any sort which can help us to determine the place of writing; the apostle may have been at Babylon, or at Rome, or at some intermediate point in the journey between the two cities…

I, II, III John

(Again our source has decided to group together a number of epistles. This time it is the letters of John. We will present his information here as given which covers 3 books of the Bible)

Who wrote them? None of them bears any name, or any definite and indisputable indication of the writer. Nevertheless, the authorship is not really doubtful. The four writings, the Fourth Gospel and these three Epistles, are too closely linked together to be separated, and assigned, some to one author and some to another. And if they are all by one writer, that writer, beyond all reasonable doubt, is St. John the apostle. No other person has been suggested who fits into the very complex position with even tolerable exactness. If the Gospel were wanting, we might be in doubt as to who wrote the Epistles. If the First Epistle were wanting, we might be in doubt as to who wrote the two short Epistles. If the Second Epistle were wanting, we should certainly be in serious doubt as to who wrote the third. But as it is, there is no room for reasonable doubt; that is, a doubt that will stand the impartial investigation of all the evidence. Nearly every one admits that the Fourth Gospel and the First Epistle cannot be severed; both external and internal evidence conclusively show that they are by the same hand. The same may be said of the Second and Third Epistles…

The First Epistle was known to St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John, and is quoted as his by St. Irenaeus, the pupil of St. Polycarp. Papias, the contemporary of Polycarp, made use of it. It is repeatedly quoted as St. John’s by Clement of Alexandria, and still more frequently by Tertullian, who seems to have been specially fond of the Epistle. So that the century immediately following St. John’s death is well filled with witnesses. Origen and his pupil, Dionysius of Alexandria, St. Cyprian, and in short all the Fathers, Greek and Latin, accept the Epistle as St. John’s. The Muratorian Fragment quotes the opening words of it, and it is contained in the Old Syriac Version…

The evidence for the Second Epistle, though less ample, is sufficient. That for the Third Epistle, if it stood alone, would seem insufficient for any certain conclusion. But both on external and internal grounds it is impossible to disconnect these twin Epistles and give them a different parentage. And therefore the Third Epistle is covered by the evidence for the second, as that again by the evidence for the first…

Thus it is precisely the earliest witnesses who are favourable to the apostolic authorship; and at no time do the doubts as to their apostolicity appear to have been general. And if the evidence as a whole appears to be meager, we must remember these facts. (1) These Epistles were probably written the very last of all the books in the New Testament. Many of the other books had acquired a considerable circulation before these were in existence…

They are private letters, addressed, not to Churches, but to individuals, and therefore were likely to remain in obscurity for a considerable time. We may compare the public and official letters of a bishop now with his private letters. The one kind are published and generally circulated at once; the others, if published at all, not until long after his death.

The comparative insignificance of these letters would lead to their remaining generally unknown for some time. They are very short, and not of very general interest.

 An immense amount of early Christian literature has perished, and with it, no doubt, much evidence respecting these Epistles (see Salmon, ‘Introduction to New Testament,’ pages 282-287, 3rd edit.)….

Here the insignificant character of the Epistles is a strong point in their favour. Who would care to forge such slight productions? And would a forger have been content with calling himself ‘the elder’? Would he not have said ‘the apostle’ or ‘John the apostle’? And if they are the bona fide writings of some other person, whether another John or not, why has the author taken such minute pains, especially in the Second Epistle, to write like St. John? The style of his Gospel and First Epistle is imitated with the greatest care and skill throughout. The student has only to take a good reference Bible, and place the passages side by side in parallel columns, to see whether far the most satisfactory hypothesis is not that of the common tradition, that Gospel and Epistles all come from one and the same author, and that author the Apostle St. John…

Nothing is known on either point with regard to any one of the Epistles. But as Ephesus was the apostle’s chief abode during the later years of his life, we may assume that they were written there. Certainly they were written late in St. John’s life. The tone of them is that of an old man writing to a younger generation. Moreover, the First Epistle was almost certainly written about the same time as the Gospel, and probably after it.

The internal relation of the two writings is strongly in favour of this view. And the Gospel was probably written in the apostle’s later years. The Second Epistle implies the existence of the first, and therefore was written after it. The third, from its similarity to the second, appears to have been written about the same time. We shall probably not be far wrong if we suppose that the Gospel and all three Epistles were written between A.D. 80 and A.D. 95….

The style of St. John, most strongly marked in his Gospel and First Epistle, conspicuous in the Second Epistle, and not wanting, though less conspicuous, in the third, is, in one respect, very similar to the subject matter of the First Epistle; it is very difficult to analyze. Like a subtle strain of music or an exquisite effect in colouring, it can be felt and appreciated, but not easily described.

Two characteristics of this magic style may be mentioned together: profundity of thought and simplicity of language. This marvelous combination to a large extent accounts for the power which St. John’s writings exercise over those who listen to them…

Lastly, we may notice the calm tone of conscious authority which pervades all these Epistles, and which, as it is seldom put prominently forward, and is felt rather than heard, would be very difficult to assume if it were not possessed. This is one of the many arguments which converge to point out an apostle, and that apostle St. John, as the writer of these letters. A teacher who can write like this has already done much to vindicate his claim to be heard and obeyed…

Jude

THIS short Epistle holds a singular place among the New Testament books. Its authorship, its date, the circle of its readers, the evils against which it is directed, and indeed almost all points connected with its literary history, are the subjects of keen dispute…

In addition to the traitor Judas Iscariot, another Jude appears in the lists of the apostles. In the Gospel histories he is entirely in the background, there being, indeed, but a single occasion on which he is reported to have taken an active part even in speech…But in the apostolic lists he is introduced along with James the son of Alpheus, Simon Zelotes, and Judas Iscariot. He is generally identified with Lebbeus and Thaddeus (<401003>Matthew 10:3; <410318>Mark 3:18), although some have attempted rather to make Levi one with Lebbeus. He is also called “Jude of James” (<420616>Luke 6:16) — a phrase which the Authorized Version renders, “Jude the brother of James,” but which has on the whole a better title to be taken as “Jude the son of James…

This being the case, the decision must be in favour of the Lord’s brother. It has been strongly urged by some that, if the writer had held this relationship to Christ, he would have found in it his most direct and obvious claim upon the attention of his readers, and would not have failed to make use of the title. But this is sufficiently met by the explanation which was given in very ancient times. The death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus had produced such a change on the position and the ideas of those who had been most intimately connected with him on earth, that religious feeling would restrain them from preferring any claim on the ground of human relationship or asserting the ties of nature. On the other hand, the designation, “brother of James,” and other peculiarities of the Epistle, are easily understood if the writer is not the apostle, and if the James referred to is the well-known head of the mother Church of Jerusalem. 4…

In these circumstances it is no wonder that very different dates have been accepted. Renan, who discovers anti-Pauline feeling in the Epistle, would carry it as far back as A.D. 54. Lardner puts it between 64 and 66. Others would place it somewhere between 70 and 80, and some take it to have been written after all the apostles, save John, had died. The most probable conclusion seems to be that it was composed before A.D. 70, but how long before that year it is impossible to say. This idea of the date is supported by the general view which it offers of the state of the Church, the nature of the evils dealt with, and the allusion to the teaching of the apostles, but more especially by the absence of all reference to the destruction of Jerusalem….

No doubt appears to have been entertained by the early Church as to the genuineness of the Epistle. Opinions might waver for a time as to the position assignable to it in the Church, and as to the particular Jude who wrote it. But there was no dispute about its being the work of a Jude, the genuine work of the man from whom it professed to proceed….

Revelation

Both internal and external evidence lead us to accept the theory of the authorship of this book which ascribes it to the Evangelist Saint John…

There are two principal theories regarding the date of the Apocalypse — the one ascribing it to about the year 69, or even earlier; and the other to about the year 96, or later. The reversed figures are easy to remember. The advocates of the earlier date refer St. John’s banishment to the Neronian persecution, and believe the Apocalypse to have preceded the Fourth Gospel by a period of nearly or quite thirty years. Those who support the later date hold that the author was banished under Domitian, and that the Gospel was written before the Apocalypse, or, at latest, very soon after it. We believe that the earlier date is the right one, for the following reasons.

It has always been the general opinion that the Book of Revelation was written in the same place where the Revelation was seen, that is, in the island of Patmos, situated in the south-east of the AEgaean Sea. Patmos is about the same distance east-south-east of Miletus, as Miletus is to the south of Ephesus. It is situated in about 37° 20’ north latitude, and 26° 35’ east longitude; in that subdivision of the great AEgaean which classical geographers designate the Icarian Sea; and in that group of its innumerable islands which the ancients well named the “Sporades,” i.e. the “scattered” ones…

Of the original Greek text of the Apocalypse there are about a hundred and twenty manuscripts known to scholars; and probably there are also in existence others whose existence is not at present known to any one beyond the owners and a small circle of friends, if even to the very owners themselves. It is also possible that some of the manuscripts which are now reckoned among the hundred and twenty containing the Apocalypse, may hereafter be found not really to contain that book at all. The list of Greek Apocalyptic manuscripts has had to be seriously modified during recent years from each of these causes…

Taking it for granted that St. John wrote with his own hand a Revelation, when we say that the last book of our New Testament canon is authentic, we aver that it is the same Revelation which St. John wrote. If we adhered to the etymological and strictly literal signification of the epithet, no form of a book could be properly styled “authentic” except the original autograph and such copies as may have been transcribed by the author himself. But for all practical purposes we are justified in calling a book “authentic” when we merely mean that it is substantially and virtually the same as the author originally wrote it; and in this looser sense the epithet is applied to all faithful transcripts and printed copies, and even to translations…

Textual criticism proves that our Authorized Version of the Revelation is unauthentic in many details of words and phrases, most (but not all) of which are of comparatively little importance; but the authenticity of the book, considered as a whole, is not open to doubt. No one has ever hinted that our ‘ Revelation of St. John the Divine’ is a totally different work from the original book similarly entitled; no chapter is supposed to be a later interpolation; no copyist or redactor is accused of having, to any large or serious extent, willfully corrupted the text by mutilating or altering it in any way whatever…

The authenticity of the statements contained in the Revelation is peculiarly difficult to establish, owing to the character of its contents…

So far, therefore, as the authenticity of the book called, ‘The Revelation of St. John the Divine,’ and of the statements therein contained, forms a separate subject for consideration, we hold that it is satisfactorily established…