« FöregåendeFortsätt »
he went upon his release we are not informed, but it is pro. bable into the East, and soon after this he was put to death at Rome, being then perhaps on a progress westward as far as Spain.
31. The apostle was fully apprized of the inveterate enmity which the unbelieving Jews at Jerusalem bore him, and even of his unpopularity with the believing Jews there, and at other places.
XVI. I have observed that the conclusions of most of Paul's epistles, though least valuable as to their direct use, . are highly valuable indirectly, and as an evidence for the truth of Christianity; so many particular persons and circumstances being mentioned as give them the most unsuspicious appearance of genuine epistles, and exclude all idea of forgery. Indeed, there are no epistles come down to us from ancient times that have such clear evidences of genuineness as these, and accordingly it does not appear that it was ever called in question.
If this case be considered, it will be found absolutely impossible to admit the genuineness of these epistles, that is, their having been actually written by the apostle Paul while he was engaged in preaching the gospel, in the midst of business, and so much contention, when all his motions were watched by his enemies and false friends, without admitting the truth of the facts which he mentions in them as at that time known to all, especially the miraculous gift of the Spirit, and such a reception of Christianity in that early period while the facts were recent and open to every man's examination. And the truth of these imply the truth of Christianity; that is, they necessarily lead us to conclude that they were facts admitted by those who were best qualified to examine their truth, and who had every motive for doing it with impartiality, that Christ preached the doctrines which are ascribed to him in the gospel history, that he wrought many miracles in proof of his divine mission, that he was publicly crucified, and that he actually rose from the dead; these facts, with those that are necessarily implied in them, are all that we ought to understand by Christianity.
1. Cenchrea was a sea-port to the city of Corinth. This Phæbe is supposed to have been the person who carried this epistle of Paul to Rome. In the Christian church there
were offices filled by women,* particularly widows. Their employment was of a secular nature, but owing probably to the scandal which in after times arose from it, it was discontinued.
2.+ We may perhaps infer from this circumstance that though this Phæbe is called a servant of the church, she was not in indigent circumstances. Indeed, such a person cannot well be supposed to have had any business of her own that could carry her to Rome, and a woman would not have been sent as a public messenger. She was probably a person of considerable fortune, who chose to devote her time and her wealth to the service of Christianity, as many in that
3. This Priscilla and her husband Aquila, are said [Acts xviii. 2] to have left Rome in consequence of an edict of Claudius, banishing all Jews from that city. Paul met them at Corinth. They were afterwards at Ephesus, and now in the reign of Nero, the edict of Claudius being no longer in force, were returned to Rome.
4. They are said to have been eminently useful to that eloquent person Apollos, whom they instructed in the gospel more fully than he had been before. I
6. According to some MSS. it is, upon you. 7. By kinsmen, the apostle perhaps may mean only Jews, all of whom he elsewhere calls kinsmen. Paul was frequently in prison, as appears in other parts of his epistle, though but little mention is made of this circumstance in the book of Acts. We see here that the term Christ is used to express Christianity, which is the case in other places : || so that to be in Christ is the same thing as to be a convert to Christianity.
10. Aristobulus was probably a person of rank, and not a
• Deaconnesses. See N. T. 1729; Doddridge; Impr. Vers. Of whom, probably, Pliny thus speaks in his Epistle to Trajan :-“ Necessarium credidi, ex duabus ancillis quæ ministre dicebantur, quid esset veri et per tormenta quærere. (I judged it necessary to examine, and that by torture, two maid-servants, which were called ministers.") Lardner, VII. pp. 292, 293.
† “ Succourer seems here to signify hostess, not in a common inn, for there was no such thing as our inns in that country, but one whose house was the place of lodging and entertainment of those who were received by the church as their guests, and these she took care of." Locke.“ A patroness of many." Le Clerc. See Grotius in Bowyer.
I See Acts xviii. 26. On ver. 5, “ Chrysostom says, that • Aquila and Priscilla had made their house a church, by making all therein bel rs, and by oper it to all strangers.' Lardner, V. p. 145.
convert himself, but one who had in his family those who were so.
11. Narcissus * might be in the same situation with Aristobulus, having in his family those who were Christians.
13. It does not follow that the mother of this Rufus was the proper mother of Paul; but the apostle might use this term to denote the affectionate, and, as it were, motherly care which she had taken of him.
15. From the great number of persons to whom the apostle sends salutations at Rome, we see how well informed he was of the state of Christians there, and of the characters of those who composed that infant church.
It is well observed by Protestants, that, among so many salutations of Paul to the Christians at Rome, no mention is made of Peter, who, according to the Catholics, was then settled at Rome, and the proper bishop of the place, and from this it is reasonably inferred that he was not there at that time. Indeed, it is far from being probable, that he ever properly resided in that city, though, according to tradition, both he and Paul were afterwards at Rome together, and suffered martyrdom there.
16. This mode of salutation is said to have been derived from the custom of the Jews, and was given by the men apart, and the women apart, for in the synagogues the men and women always sit in separate places. Such also was probably the custom of the primitive Christians, and it is observed in many places of Christian worship at this day. This kiss of charity, as it was called, we find by early writers, was given immediately before the administration of the Lord's Supper, after the prayer which preceded it.
18. In this the apostle had probably a view to the Jewish teachers, such as had created him so much disturbance in other churches, and some of whom had embraced the Gnostic opinions. That the moral character of these persons was very indifferent, appears from other epistles of Paul, as well as from those of Peter, John and Jude. Their object was, in a great measure, popular applause and gain, and they also allowed themselves great sensual indulgence. At least this seems to have been the character of many of them. It could not be that of them all, for some of them affected great austerity; and, indeed, without something of this kind, it is not easy to account for the popularity which they acquired, and especially with such persons as the apostle could expect to have any influence with. * A noted freed-man of the emperor Claudius, was of that name.
20. By Satan, in this place, most interpreters, I believe, suppose to be meant the Jews, who were the great adversaries of Christians at that time; and that, expressing himself in this manner, the apostle had a view to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the entire dispersion of the Jews ;* as this epistle was written within eight years of the breaking out of the Jewish war, which terminated in the entire destruction of Judea. But it is perhaps more probable that he here meant all evil in general, considering this world as a state of trial, and looking forward to a better state.
22. Tertius is the same with Silas, both names having the same signification, viz. the third, the one in Latin, and the other in Hebrew.f The apostle uses the Latin term in writ. ing to the Romans. It seems that Paul generally made use of an amanuensis, probably on account of his not being used to write the Greek character, and perhaps also on account of his not being sufficiently skilled in the language.
23. [Erastus, chamberlain of the city.] It appears, from this circumstance, that there were many persons of note among the Christians in those very early times, especially among the Gentiles.
25, 26. By mystery is here to be understood the gracious, but for a long time the hidden, design of Providence, in favour of the Gentile world, by the preaching of the gospel to them.
27. Here, as upon all other occasions, we see God distin. guished from Christ. God is the author of all good, and especially of the gospel, containing the revelation of a future life, and Christ is the servant or minister of God in the publication of this gospel, and thus is the means of bringing glory to God. Accordingly the apostle always ascribes the glory to God through Christ, as the medium through whom he imparts his blessings to us.
* See Harwood, N. T.
† “ This conjecture would be well-grounded, if Silas were an Hebrew name; but if Silas and Silvanus be the same name, it is groundless." Michaelis's Introd. Lect. (Sect. cxxvii.), p. 280.
1 “My gospel. St. Paul cannot be supposed to have used such an expression as this, unless he knew that what he preached had something in it that distinguished it from what was preached by others; which was plainly the mystery, as he every where calls it, of God's purpose of taking in the Gentiles to be his people under the Messiah; and that without subjecting them to circumcision, or the law of Moses: this is that which he calls the preaching of Jesus Christ, for without this he did not think that Christ was preached to the Gentiles as he ought to be.” Locke.
Since the world began. “ In the secular times under the law." Ibid. See Le Clerc; Doddridge.
s“ That in this place, by the name of the only wise God, no other is intended but the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may easily be perceived: for it is clear that Christ is not understood by that name, since he is most openly distinguished from the only wise God, and that as the middle cause of glory and honour from the ultimate scope and object of the same." Crellins (B. i. Sect. i. Ch. vii.), p. 37.
After the apostle Paul had written the epistle to the Romans, he went by way of Macedonia and Ephesus to Jerusalem, where he arrived at Pentecost, A.D. 58. There, a tumult being raised, he was apprehended and imprisoned, and, under one pretence or other, he was kept in confinement till the year 60, when, in consequence of his appealing to the emperor, which was a privilege of every Roman citizen, he was sent with other prisoners to Rome. In his voyage thither he was shipwrecked on the isle of Malta, but, after wintering there, he arrived at Rome in the spring of the year 61.
It is reinarkable that we have no account of Paul's writing any epistle from Jerusalem or Cæsarea, where he was confined two years; but from Rome, where he was a prisoner the same space of time, he wrote several, and the first of them was this to the Ephesians,* the object of which seems to have been to establish those Christians to whom he had preached several years, in the pure faith of the gospel, and to counteract the attempts of the Jewish teachers to bring them into bondage to the law of Moses. He might likewise have a view to other corruptions of the gospel, and particularly to Gnostic tenets, to which some of the Jewish teachers gave countenance, though there is no direct reference to them in this epistle.
With these views the apostle endeavours to impress the minds of the Christians at Ephesus with a sense of the value of the gospel, and of the goodness of God in calling the Gentiles, as well as the Jews, to the privileges of it. There is a peculiar dignity and sublimity in this epistle, as well as the
strongest marks of the most earnest affection to those to whom he writes, and the same has been observed of all the
“ Here, the exclusive term only, shuts out all competitors, co-ordinate or co-essential (as the Tritheists speak), even Jesus Christ himself; through whoin, as it follows, this praise is to be given to the only wise God, for ever and ever.” Haynes (Ch. x.), p. 45. This doxology, vers. 25-27, is annexed to Chap. xiv. in Griesbach's text, and in the Impr. Vers. See supra, p. 254, Note , ad fin.
“ I thiok it was drawn up by the apostle, as soon as conveniently could be, after his friends at Rome had taken a lodging for trim, and he was settled in it, A.D. 61." Lardner, VI. p. 329. See ibid. pp. 931—355; Michaelis's Introd. Lect. (Sect. cxxxviii.), pp. 302—304; Doddridge's Introd. V. p. 114. On the probability that this was an epistle to the Laodiceans, see N. T. 1729, (Notes on i. 1, and iii. 2, 4,) II.
pp. 707, 708; Michaelis's Introd. Lect. (Sect. cxxxvii.), p. 301.