« FöregåendeFortsätt »
It appeared from the first Epistle to the Corinthians, that when Paul wrote it he was at Ephesus, where he said a great and effectual door was opened unto him, though he had many adversaries. At this time he had spent more than two years in that city, and Timothy, who was of Lystra, and who had attended Paul in his first progress to preach the gospel in Greece, had been with him there, but had been sent by him into Macedonia along with Erastus, as we read, Acts xix. 22. It appears also from 1 Cor. xvi. 10, that he was to proceed to Corinth, and it is probable that he had returned to Ephesus before Paul left that place, which was A. D. 56.7
Not long after this, Paul left Ephesus, which the tumult excited by the silversmiths and Demetrius [Acts xix. 24] had probably hastened, and either from Macedonia, Troas, or some other stage, in his way thither, he wrote this epistle to Timothy. From his writing so soon after leaving that place, and also from the tenor of the epistle itself, it is evident that he had much anxiety about the state of the church at Ephesus, on account of the opposition which he had met with there: and it appears to have been of the same nature with that which he had experienced at Corinth, viz. from persons pretending to learning and philosophy, who adulterated the gospel with a mixture of opinions which they had held before, despised the plain preaching of the apostle, and undervalued his authority. It will be seen, that there must have been persons who held the opinions which constituted the system of Gnosticism, the fundamental articles of which I have already explained, and shall have occasion to do it farther in my account of this epistle to Timothy.
1. Paul having enemies at Ephesus as well as at Corinth, thought proper to begin his epistle to Timothy, which was, in effect, an epistle to the Christians at that place, with asserting apostolical authority, as derived immediately from Christ himself.
[Which is our hope.] That is, whose doctrine is the foundation of our hope.
* Chap. xvi. 9, supra, p. 120.
+ See Michaelis's Introd. Lect. (Sect. cxxi.) pp. 265-267; Lardner, Vl. pp. 315-320; Doddridge's Introd. V. pp. 438-443.
2. Timothy had probably been converted to Christianity by Paul himself,* and on this account he might call him his own son.
4. It is evident that most of the opposers of Paul, both in Galatia, Corinth, and Ephesus, were Jews, who boasted of the law. But they seem withal to have been persons who had adopted the principles of the oriental philosophy, holding matter and the body in great contempt, and explaining away the doctrine of the resurrection. After the age of the apostles, there arose a sect of philosophizing Christians, who despised the law of Moses, and thought that the author of it was not that God who is the Father of Jesus Christ, but some inferior and malevolent being.
What the genealogies here mentioned were, is not easy to say.t If they were mere Jews who boasted of them, they were probably those by which they proved their descent from Abraham and the heads of their respective tribes; but such genealogies as these could hardly be interesting to any besides themselves. The Gnostics of that
age had genealogies of a very different nature, relating to the various orders of beings supposed to be derived from the Supreme, commonly called Æons, or angelic spirits, one of which they made Christ to be. These genealogies were sufficiently intricate, so that there was room for much learning and subtlety in the adjustment of them. I therefore think that the foundation of this system was laid in the time of the apostles, and that these were the genealogies to which Paul here alludes.
5. [The end of the commandment.] Mr. Wakefield renders, the purpose of thy charge, viz. that mentioned before, [ver. 3,] as given by Timothy.
7.* These philosophizing Christians, proud of their knowledge, laid more stress upon it than upon the purity of heart and life, which is the end of both the law and the gospel.
8. Lest it should be imagined Paul meant to undervalue the law, he expressly declares that that was not his intention,
* “ Not certain from the history. Compare Acts xvi. 1, 2." Doddridge.
" Les Platoniciens et les Juifs avoient accoûtume de disposer, en forme de généalogie, des noms d'idées abstraites, entre lesquelles ils croyoient qu'il y eût du rapport, et feignoient des mariages entre elles, d' où ils en faisoient naître d'antres." Le Clerc. " The Platonists and cabbalistical Jews amused themselves in combining a great number of abstract ideas, and formed them into a genealogical table, which a wild imagination might lengthen out to infinity.” N. T. 1729, 11. p.772. See Doddridge; Impr. Vers. | “Ni «e qu'ils disent par conjecture et comme en doutant, ni ce qu'ils assurent
Corail." Le Clerc.
and shews what was the proper end of the law with respect to the moral, which was the most important use of it, namely, to be a restraint upon vice and wickedness, several kinds of which he here enumerates. *
15. Paul having represented himself as a great sinner, though he had acted in one sense conscientiously in what he had done, but without having taken proper pains to inform his judgment, which is the natural guide of conscience, t takes the opportunity of asserting in general, that the design of the gospel which he had embraced was to save sinners, or to reform the world, and this makes it so great a blessing to the world, which stood in great need of reformation.
17. I We see that Paul referred all the blessings of the gospel to God, the author of all good, whose servant only, and messenger, Christ was.
18. (This charge.] That is, the preaching of the gospel.
[The prophecies.] This must refer to some particular prophecy, pointing out Timothy in particular as a proper
Among the rest, he censures (ver. 10) men-stealers, or enslavers of mankind, according to Wakefield, who adds, “whence appears the gross error of Archdeacon Paley, who asserts in his Philosophy, upon the subject of slavery, that no passage is to be found in the • Christian Scriptures, by which it is condemned, or probibited.'"
+ See Hallett, (on Paul the Persecutor,) II. pp. 130–142. † “ Regi sæculorum immortali.” Vulg. See Le Clerc.
In connexion with this “ remarkably fiue passage," (vers. 12—17,) Wakefield thuis describes the writer of this epistle:
“ In whatever light we view the character of this astonishing convert, this incomparable man; whether we contemplate the great endowments of his under. standing, or the nobler qualifications of his mind, we may congratulate ourselves, as Christians, upon an ornament to our religion, and as men, upon an honour to human nature. His penetration, bis sensibility, his cloquence, his independent dignity of spirit, his unexceptionable integrity; a fortitude, unshaken by the most complicated distresses, and a course of malicious and unrelenting persecution from his own nation ; a zeal for the truth and liberty of the gospel, proportionate to the dignity of these objects, the warmth of his own temper, and his generous feelings for the welfare of mankind; his sympathy, his anguish, at the approaching calamities of his obdurate countrymen, and bis tender concern for the spiritual interests of all bis converts; bis indefatigable assiduity in the propagation of the gospel, exemplified in the numerous churches raised by his hand, which in part still survive, like the marble-ruins of the desart, solitary pensive witnesses of their former glory, amidst the ravages of ignorance and corruption, to these later ages; the mauly spirit, the conscious intrepidity, with which die vindicates his character; his lively gratitude, his profond humiliation, to the supreme Being; his magnanimous contempt of life in the service of his Master; his benevolent accommodation of himself to the weak consciences and even to the prejudices of his brethren; his unexampled compassion for the children of affliction, labouring with his own hands, that he might administer to their necessities and alleviate their distress : these are the assemblage of rare endowinents, which ennobled our apostle; this is the constellation of virtues, which shone through his whole conduct with increasing lustre, and blazed forth with the highest splendour, when his martyrdom was at hand.” Enquiry, pr. 159--162.
person to be intrusted with the preaching of the gospel,* and it is evident from other circumstances that such a spirit of prophecy was in the church:
Mr. Wakefield renders, that very charge, viz. as given him by Paul, and not any prediction.
20. This Hymeneus, Paul says, 2 Tim. ii. 17, 18, had, together with Philetus, overturned the faith of some, saying, that the resurrection was past already. Of Alexander he says in the same place, [Chap. iv. 14, that he had done him much evil, probably by joining thesc persons in teaching the same doctrine, which was evidently the same with that of the Gnostics at Corinth, who likewise denied the resurrection. These persons being obstinate in opposing the gospel, it seems that the apostle had excommunicated them, which he expresses by saying they were delivered over to Satan. f Satan denoting the principle of evil in general, we can only infer from this phrase that some judgment or other, probably of a temporal and visible nature, did then attend these solemn excommunications, which, in the infant state of the church, served as a warning to others, as in the case of Ananius and Sapphira; and though the punishments here alluded to might not be so awful, yet the hand of God might be as conspicuous in them.
II. The apostle having asserted his apostolical authority, and given some account of his former life, and of the goodness of God in calling him to the apostleship, proceeds to give Timothy a variety of directions with respect to the church at Ephesus, to the state of which he is perpetually alluding: and it will be a great key to his meaning to consider that there were in that church, as in that of Corinth, persons who undervalued his authority, and held principles inconsistent with those of Christianity, being those of the Gnostics which I have so often mentioned, and who, being at the same time Jews, had prejudices peculiar to that nation.
• “ There were prophets, who, when under inspiration, had said some things to the advantage of Timothy : by which the apostle had been encouraged to bestow upon him eminent gifts, and to instate him in an important and useful office.” Lardner, XI. p. 153. See Chap. iv. 14.
† See 1 Cor. v. 5, and additional remark, Impr. Vers. “ Mr. Reynolds justly and finely observes, (Letter to a Deist, p. 256,) that when the apostles mention the names of apostates, and censure them with such freedom and severity, it affords a plain argument, that they knew themselves to be entirely out of their power. For if they had been conscious of any thing to be feared from their discovery, they would have endeavoured to manage them more artfully, that they might not provoke them to the uttermost." Doddridge.
2.* It is possible that the Jews of that age beld other nations in such great contempt and abhorrence, especially the Romans who ruled over them, that they would not publicly pray for them.
4. That is, who does not confine his goodness to the Jews, but intends the gospel to be a blessing to all nations without distinction ;t for that is the meaning of the apostle in this place, and not the salvation of each individual of mankind, though this may be implied in other passages of Scripture.
5. For God and Christ bearing the same relation to Jews and Gentiles, there can be no respect of persons with them.
Here the apostle, without making it his principal object, for he could have no idea of that being necessary, evidently considers the one God as a Being quite distinct from Jesus Christ ; and speaking here of Christ in his highest capacity,
* “ All placed in authority (for this end), that we may lead a peaceable life." Beza in Bowyer. “That they may go through a quiet and peaceful life with all veneration and respect.” Wakefield.
“ The scope is not to charge the magistrate with forcing the people (who have chose him) to godliness or God's worship, according to his conscience, but the spirit of God by Paul, in this place provokes Timothy and the church at Ephesus -to pray for the peaceable and quiet state of the places of their abode, and for the salvation of all men, that all men, and especially kings and magistrates, might be sayed and come to the knowledge of the truth.—All which tends directly against the magistrates' forcing all men to godliness, or the worsbipping of God, which, in truth, causeth the greatest breach of peace, and the greatest distractions in the world; and the setting up that for godliness, or worship, which is no more than Nebuchadnezzar's gollen image, a state-worship." Roger Williams's “ Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, for Cause of Conscience, discussed in a Conference between Truth and Peace," 1644, pp. 128, 129.
“ De Nerone cum mentionem facit Paulus, non regem, sed Leonem, id est belluam immanem vocat, cujus ex ore ereptuur se gaudet, 2 Tim. iv. 17. Pro regibus itaque, non pro belluis, orundum, ut ritam tranquillam et quietam transigamus, cum pietate tamen omni et honestate. Vides non tam regum hic quam tranquillitatis, pietatis, honestatis etiam rationem esse habendam." Joannis Miltoni Angli pro Populo Anglicano Defensio, 1651, (C. jii.) pp. 91, 92.
• When St. Paul has occasion to speak of Nero, he calls him not a king, but a lion, that is, a wild, savage beast, from whose jaws he is glad he was delivered, 2 Tim. iv. 17. So that it is for kings, not for beasts that we are to pray, that under them we may live a quiet and a peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty. Kings and their interest are not the things here intended to be advanced and secured ; 'tis the public peace, godliness and honesty, whose establishment we are commanded to endeavour after, and to pray for.” Trans. 1692, p. 74. Sce Sidney on Government, (Ch. iii. Sect. x. ad fin.) 1704, p. 272.
† “ Who wisheth all men to be in safety, owryan: for in such times truth may be preached with security, and will be received with attention.” Wakefield. I See Le Clerc.
See Crellius, B. i. Sect. j. Ch. vi. pp. 30–35. “ Can human language be more explicit? There is one God, not ihree Gods; and one Mediator, and he a man, Christ Jesus. Suppose now, that a Trinitarian were to read this passage, he would conceive of it thus: There is one God, composed of three distinct Persons or Beings, each himself God; and there is one Mediator, who is one of