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Epistle to have been encyclical or circular, and addressed to the Ephesians, Laodiceans, and some other churches in Asia Minor But it could hardly be circular in the sense in which Michaelis understands that term: for he supposes that the different copies transmitted by St. Paul had ev Epeow, at Ephesus, sv Accoixeia, at Laodicea, &c. as occasion required, and that the reason why all our manuscripts read ev Epstw is, that when the books of the New Testament were first collected, the copy used was obtained from Ephesus : but this, Bishop Middleton observes, seems to imply — what cannot be proved that the canon was established by authority, and that all copies of this Epistle, not agreeing with the approved edition, were suppressed.
Dr. Macknight is of opinion, that Saint Paul sent the Ephesians word by Tychicus, who carried their letter, to send a copy of it to the Laodiceans, with an order to them to communicate it to the Colossians. This hypothesis will account, as well as that of Michaelis, for the want of those marks of personal acquaintance which the apostle's former residence might lead us to expect, and on which so much stress has been laid: for every thing local would be purposely omitted in an Epistle which had a further destination.
The reader will adopt which of these hypotheses he may deem the best supported : we think the solution of Rosenmüller, above stated, the most natural and probable; and that, when the united testimonies of manuscripts, and all the fathers, with the exception of Basil, are taken into consideration, we are fully justified in regarding this Epistle as written to the Ephesians.?
III. The subscription to this Epistle states, that it was written from Rome, and sent to the Ephesians by Tychicus, who was also the bearer of the Epistle to the Colossians, the similarity of which in style and subject shows that it was written at the same time.
That this Epistle was written during Saint Paul's first imprisonment at Rome, is evident from its allusions to his confinement (iii. 1. iv. 1. vi. 20.); and as he does not express in it any hopes of a speedy release (which he does in his other Epistles sent from that city), we conclude with Dr. Lardner, Bishop Tomline, and others, that it was written during the early part of Saint Paul's imprisonment, and probably in the year 61, soon after he arrived at Rome.
IV. As Saint Paul was, in a peculiar manner, the apostle of the Gentiles, and was now a prisoner at Rome in consequence of his having provoked the Jews, by asserting that the observance of the Alosaic law was not necessary to obtain the favour of God, he was apprehensive lest advantage should be taken of his confinement to
Stosch, de Epistolis Apostolorum non deperditis, p. 101. et seq. Michaelis, vol. iv. pp. 123-146. Lardner's Works, Svo. vol. vi. pp. 416-456.; 4to. vol. ij. pp. 312_362. Macknight on Col. iv. 16. Bishop Middleton on the Greek Arti. cle, pp. 5014-518. who observes, that if ever there were an opistle from Saint Paul to the Laodiceans, it is lost : for that which is extant in Fabricius and Jones's work on the canon (te which we may add Pritius) is universally adınitted to be a forgery; yet the loss of a canonical writing is of all suppositions the most improbable.
unsettle the minds of his Ephesian converts, who were almost wholly Gentiles. Hearing, however, that they stood firm in the faith of Christ, he wrote this Epistle in order to establish them in that faith, and 10 give them more exalted views of the love of God, and of the excellency and dignity of Christ; and at the same time to fortify their minds against the scandal of the cross. With this view, he shows them that they were sared by grace; and that, however wretched they once were, now they had equal privileges with the Jews. He then proceeds to encourage them to persevere in their Christian calling, by declaring with what steadfastness he suffered for the truth, and with what earnestness he prayed for their establishment and continuance in it; and urges them to walk in a manner becoming their profession, in the faithful discharge both of the general and common duties of religion, and of the special duties of particular relations.
V. In this Epistle we may observe the following particulars, besides the inscription (i. 1, 2.), viz. Part I. The doctrine pathetically explained, which contains, Sect. 1. Praise to God for the whole Gospel blessing (i. 3–14.).
with thanksgiving and prayer for the saints. (i. 15—23. ii. 1
10.) SECT. 2. A more particular admonition concerning their once
wretched but now happy condition. (ii. 11-22.) Sect. 3. A prayer for their establishment. (11.) Part II. The exhortation. Sect. 1. General, to walk worthy of their calling, agreeable to,
(1.) The unity of the Spirit, and the diversity of his gifts. (iv. 1-10) (2.) The difference between their former and present state. (iv. 17–24.) SECT. 2. Particular. (1.) To avoid lying, anger, theft, and other sins (iv. 25-31. v.1-21.), with
a commendation of the opposite virtues. (2.) To a faithful discharge of the relative duties of wives and husbands (v.
22–33.), of children and parents (vi. 1–4.), and of masters and servants,
(vi, 5—9.) Sect. 3. Final. - To war the spiritual warfare. (vi. 10—20.) PART III. The conclusion. (vi. 21-24.)
VI. The style of this Epistle is exceedingly animated, and corresponds with the state of ihe apostle's mind at the time of writing. Overjoyed with the account which their messenger had brought him of their faith and holiness (i. 15.), and transported with the consideration of the unsearchable wisdom of God, displayed in the work of man's redemption, and of his astonishing love towards the Gentiles in making them partakers, through faith, of all the benefits of Christ's death, he soars high in his sentiments on these grand subjects, and gives his thoughts utterance in sublime and copious expressions. Many of them contain happy allusions to the temple and statue of Diana at Ephesus. “No real Christian,” says Dr. Macknight, “ can read the doctrinal part of the Epistle to the Ephesiars, without being impressed and roused by it, as by the sound of a trumpet."1
} Preface to Ephesians, sect. 6.
On the undesigned coincidences between this Epistle and the Acts of the Apostles, see Dr. Paley's Horæ Paulinæ, pp. 208—234.
ON THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS.
I. Account of the church at Philippi. — II. Date. — III. Occa
sion. - IV. Scope and synopsis of its contents. I. CHRISTIANITY was first planted at Philippi, in Macedonia, by Saint Paul, A. D. 50, the particulars of which are related in Acts xvi. 9–40. ; and it appears from Acts xx. 6. that he visited them again a. D. 57, though no particulars are recorded concerning tbat visit. Of all the churches planted by Saint Paul, that at Philippi seems to have cherished the most tender concern for him : and though it appears to have been but a small community, yet its members were peculiarly generous towards him. For when the Gospel was first preached in Macedonia, no other church contributed any thing to his support, except the Philippians; who, while he was preaching at Thessalonica, the metropolis of that country, sent him money twice, that the success of the Gospel might not be hindered by its preachers becoming burthensome to the Thessalonians. (Phil. iv. 15, 16.) The same attention they showed to the apostle, and for the same reason, while he preached the Gospel at Corinth. (2 Cor. xi. 9.) And when they heard that Saint Paul was under confinement at Rome, they manifested a similar affectionate concern for him: and sent Epaphroditus to him with a present, lest he should want necessaries during his imprisonment. (ü. 25. iv. 10. 14-18.)
II. It appears from Saint Paul's own words, that this Epistle was written while he was a prisoner at Rome (i. 7. 13. iv. 22.); and from the expectation which he discovers, of being soon released and restored to them, as well as from the intimations contained in this letter (i. 12. ii. 26.), that he had then been a considerable time at Rome, it is probable that he wrote the Epistle to the Philippians towards the close of his first imprisonment, at the end of A. D. 62, or perhaps at the commencement of 63. The genuineness of this letter was never questioned.
III. The more immediate occasion of the Epistle to the Philippians
I M. Oeder, in a programma published in 1731, contended that this Epistle was written at a much earlier period at Corinth, and shortly after the planting of the church at Philippi : this hypothesis was examined and refuted by Wolfius in his Care Philologicir, vol. iii. p. 168. et seq. and 271. et seq. In 1799 the celebrated Professor Paulus published a programma, de Tempore Scriptæ prioris ad Timotheum atque ad Philippenses, Epistolæ Pauline ; in which he endearours to show that it was written at Cæsarea ;, but his hypothesis has been refuted by Heinrichs in his notes on this Epistle.
was the return of Epaphroditus, one of their pastors, by whom Saint Paul sent it, as a grateful acknowledgment of their kindness in sending him supplies of money. From the manner in which Saint Paul expressed himself on this occasion, it appears that he was in great want of necessaries before their contributious arrived; for, as he had not converted the Romans, he did not consider himself as entitled to receive supplies from them. Being a prisoner, he could not work as formerly : and it was his rule never to receive any thing from the churches where factions had been raised against him. It also appears that the Philippians were the only church from whom he received any assistance, and that he conferred this honour upon them, because they loved hiin exceedingly, had preserved his doctrine in purity, and had always conducted themselves as sincere Christians.
IV. The scope of this Epistle therefore is to confirm the Philippians in the faith, to encourage them to walk in a manner becoming the Gospel of Christ, to caution them against the intrusion of judaising teachers, and to testify his gratitude for their Christian bounty.
Accordingly, after a short introduction (i. 1. 2.), he proceeds, Sect. 1. To express his gratitude to God for their continuing stead
fast in the faith, and prays that it may continue (i. 3-11.); and, lest they should be discouraged by the tidings of his imprisonment, he informs them that bis sufferings and confinement, so far from impeding the progress of the Gospel, had rather fallen out to its furtherance;" and assures them of his readiness to live or die, as should be most for their welfare and the glory
of God. (12—26.) Sect. 2. He then exhorts them, in a strain of the most sublime
and pathetic eloquence, to maintain a conduct worthy of the Gospel, and to the practice of mutual love and candour, enforced by the bighest of all examples, that of Jesus Christ; and to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, that he may rejoice in the day of Christ on their account (i. 21-30. ii. 117.); and promises to send Timothy and Epaphroditus, of whom
he makes a very affectionate mention. (19–30.) Sect. 3. He solemnly cautions them against judaising teachers,
who preached Christ through envy and strife. (iii. iv. I.) Sect. 4. After some admonitions to particular persons (iv. 2, 3.),
and some general exhortations to Christian cheerfulness, moderation and prayer (4—7.), he proceeds to recommend virtue in the most extensive sense, mentioning all the different bases on which it had been placed by the Grecian philosophers. (8,9.) Towards the close of his Epistle, he makes his acknowledgments to the Philippians for their seasonable and liberal supply, as it was a convincing proof of their affection for him, and of their concern for the support of the Gospel, which he preferred far before any secular interest of his own, expressly disclaiming all selfish mercenary views, and assuring them with a noble simplicity, that he was able upon all occasions to accommodate huis temper to his circumstances; and had learned, under the | Verses 15-18. are a parenthesis, though net so marked in any editions or translations which we have seen.
teachings of divine grace, in whatever station Providence might see fit to place him, therewith to be content. (10—18.) After which the apostle, having encouraged them to expect a rich supply of all their wants from their God and Father, to whom he devoutly ascribes the honour of all (19.), concludes with salutan tions from himself and his friends at Rome to the whole church, and a solemn benediction. (21-23.) It is remarkable that the Epistle to the church at Philippi is the only one, of all Saint Paul's letters to the churches, in which not one censure is expressed or implied against any of its members; but, on the contrary, sentiments of unqualified commendation and confidence pervade every part of this Epistle. Its style is singularly animated, affectionate, and pleasing.
On the undesigned coincidences between this Epistle and the Acts of the Apostles, see Dr. Paley's Hora Paulinæ, pp. 235–277.
ON THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS. I. Account of the church at Colossa.-II. Date. -- III. Occasion
of this Epistle. -- IV. Scope and analysis. 1. By whom or at what time Christianity was planted at Colossæ,' we have no certain information. Dr. Lardner, Bishop Tomline, and others, are of opinion that the church at Colossæ was founded by St. Paul; and they ground this opinion principally on the following considerations ; viz.
That Saint Paul was twice in Phrygia, in which country were the cities of Colossa, Laodicea, and Hierapolis, - that he does in effect say that he had dispensed the Gospel to the Colossians (i. 21 25.), -and that it appears from the terms of affection and authority discoverable in this Epistle, that he did not address them as strangers, but as acquaintances, friends, and converts.
It is true that Saint Paul was twice in Phrygia, but he does not seem to have visited the three cities above mentioned ; for his route lay consider
l ably to the northward of them, from Cilicia and Derbe to Lystra, and thence through Phrygia and Galatia to Mysia and Troas. (Acts xvi. 6.) And in his second tour he also passed through Galatia and Phrygia to Ephesus and Troas (Acts xvii. 23.), and so through the upper parts, or northern districts, of Asia Minor. (xix. 1.) That Saint Paul did not plant the church at Colossæ, is evident from his own declaration in ii. 1. where he says, that neither the Colossians nor the Laodiceans had then“ seen his face in the flesh.”
But though Saint Paul had never been in Colossæ when he wrote 1 In Col. i. 2. instead of ev Koloocais, at Colossa, the Alexandrian, Vatican, Codex Ephrem, and several other antient manuscripts, read ev Kolaccais, at Colass&, or among the Colassians. With them agree the Syriac, Coptic, and Sclavonic versions, as well as Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and many other learned fathers.