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gospel must devolve on other hands. He adds some directions of a miscellaneous nature, and salutations to and from particular persons.
1, * 2. There cannot be any charge more solemn than this, and as the duties of Timothy here enumerated are no other than those of every minister of the gospel, not only ought all ministers to be zealous in the discharge of what they apprehend to be their duty, of which they are to give so solemn an account, but the people ought also to bear with their zeal, which is intended for their good, though, in consequence of not giving the same degree of attention to the subject of religion, they may not immediately perceive the importance of some articles on which their ministers may see reason to lay great stress.t
4. The doctrines to which the apostle here alludes were undoubtedly those of the Gnostics. He did not live long enough to see the rise of other and greater corruptions of Christianity, though they were in some respects of a similar nature. As the Gnostics believed in a future state of rewards and punishments, though on a principle different from that of the apostle, viz. the natural immortality of the soul, there can be no doubt but, had he lived to a later period, and seen the rise and progress of such doctrines as the trinity, original sin, predestination and atonement, bis indignation would have risen much higher than it did against any doctrine held by the Gnostics, because they were much farther removed from the genuine principles of Christianity. Compared with the doctrines which I have just mentioned, which infringe upon the great article of the unity of God, and which derogate from the equitable principles of his moral government, the notions of the Gnostics were only, what the apostle calls them, idle fables, diverting men's at. tention indeed from the serious principles of the gospel, but by no means so nearly affecting the proper character and influence of it.
6. Mr. Wakefield renders, I am now offering up myself
“• I solemnly testify, before God, and Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead, both his manifestation (in the flesh) and his ( future) kingdom.' Consult Chrysostom on this passage, Tom. IV. p. 370, Edit. Eton.” Harwood, N. T. Gr.
* “ Ver. 3. The order should have been, “Having itching ears, they shall heap to themselves teachers, after their own lusts.'" Theol. Repos. V. p. 202. Thus Le Clerc; see his Note.
See Lardner, VI. pp. 359—361. “ I am now ready to be offered, or, as the Greek word signifies, a libation is already poured on my devoted head.—This is a sacrificial term. The apostle alludes to the libation that was poured on the bead of the rictim before it was sacrificed." Harwood, II. p. 219. See ibid. N. 1. ver. 7. “ I have finished my race; I have maintained my fidelity." Ibid. N. T. Gr. See Wakefield.
for a sacrifice, or pouring out myself as a libation ; that is, in grateful acknowledgment to God for my victory.
8. * With what satisfaction does the apostle here reflect upon his conduct as a preacher of the gospel, and what encouragement must this have given to Timothy, and ought to give to us, to follow him in the same work of zeal and labour of love! And let it always be considered, that the duties here mentioned are not peculiar to apostles, or even to ministers, but are in a great measure common to all Chritians, whose duty it unquestionably is to instruct and adınonish each other. Every Christian, therefore, may consider himself as concerned in this exhortation and encouragement.
I cannot help observing, in this place, that the rewards which the apostle expected, were in his idea to be conferred only at the time of the general resurrection, called, by way of eminence, that day, the time of the appearing of Jesus Christ, when he shall come to raise the dead and judge the world. Had he had any expectation of receiving the reward, or any part of the reward, of his labours, iminediately after death, he could not bave been so ungrateful as to have entirely overlooked it.
10.Not knowing the circumstances of the Christians at Rome, we cannot judge of the degree of guilt incurred by these persons. Some have supposed that the first persecution by Nero, in which many were put to a cruel death, took place about this time, and that these persons only fled on that account. There must at least have been some alarm of this kind, to have induced such a number of Paul's friends to desert him, at the time of his appearing before the emperor; and as both Crescens and Titus, whose attachment to Christianity was never questioned, are mentioned in the same connexion, and the motives of their conduct are not particularly specified, it is not impossible but that this might be the case, and, therefore, that this censure of the apostle, who no doubt wished for his friends to stand by him, might be too harsh.
11. Luke appears to have been the faithful companion of
“ This affecting passage is beautifully allusive to the race, to the crown that awaited the victory, and to the Hellanodics or judges who bestowed it.” Harwood, JI. p. 22.
« That crown of righteousness with which the Lord, the impartial Umpire, will reward me in that day." Wakefield. See his Note.
† “ Demas. This, compared with Coloss. iv. 14, Philemon 24, shews that this epistle was not writ during St. Paul's first confinement.” N. T. 1729.
“ Galatia. • He went,' says Theodoret, “to the Gauls, for so they are called by such as understand geography.'" Ibid.
Paul in his greatest troubles. As to Mark, notwithstanding Paul's displeasure at him on account of his deserting him and Barnabas on their first progress to preach the gospel, it appears by this circumstance that he was at this time entirely reconciled to him, and also that Mark had forgiven Paul for the displeasure, just or unjust, which he had conceived against him. It were to be wished that all the misunderstandings of Christians might terminate in this manner.
13. What is here called a cloak might be, as the word will bear it, a kind of wrapper or portmanteau, and the books and parchments here mentioned might be some of its contents. We can hardly believe Paul to have been so very poor and destitute as to be so solicitous about a common cloak, which had been left by him probably several years before.* By parchments were probably meant writings on different and better materials than what were generally used for books, parchment being the most durable substance for
14, 15. Alexander was so common a name in that age, that we cannot be sure whether this was that Alexander, the Jew of Ephesus, who harangued the populace at the time of the tumult [Acts xix. 33). Also, what evil it was that he had done to Paul, does not appear. He expresses great displeasure at his conduct; but his wish, that God would reward him according to his works, may perhaps imply more displeasure than in a cool moment he would have approved. However, he wishes him no more evil than God would see to be his due.f As the apostle exhorts Timothy to be aware of him, it is on the whole most probable that this was Alexander of Ephesus, which appears to have been the usual station of Timothy. He may, therefore, be concluded to have been one of the Jewish Gnostics.
16. He probably alludes to his pleading before the person who was governor in Rome while Nero was in Greece. I When he had his first hearing before Nero himself, Timothy was with him.
• See Grotius in Doddridge.
“The Lord will requite him,' anodwoel, which the Alexand. and other MSS. exhibit, is the true reading." Harwood, N. T. “ Reddet illi Dominus secundùm opera ejus." Vulg.
I “ Dans son premier plaidoyé, où il semble qu'il fut renvoyé à une autre fois, sans être absous. C'étoit l'usage à Rome que les amis d'un accusé l'accompagnassent devant le tribunal du juge, et que l'un d'eux plaidât pour lui. S. Paul s'étoit trouvé seul et avoit plaidé lui-même sa cause. U faut que l' eglise de Rome fût alors bien destituée de gens courageux, et que la cruauté des officiers de Neron leur eût fait perdre toute espérance de pouvoir sauver S. Paul.” Le Clerc. See Doddridge.
17. By lion, nobody doubts but that Paul meant the emperor Nero, who had then begun to assume the character of a brutal tyrant.* But even in his presence the apostle seems to have spoken with so much courage, that several persons in the emperor's own household were favourably impressed with respect to Christianity.
22. Not Christ, in person ; but he wishes that the thought of Christ, and of his gospel, inight be ever present to his mind, and that thence he might derive consolation and courage in his faithful and laborious services.
No person can read these salutations from, and to particular persons, without being satisfied that this is a genuine epistle, written as other epistles of that age were. The circumstance of the cloak, and other minute particulars, give us, however, no idea of his writing from inspiration, because we cannot imagine any want of it to such a man as Paul, in writing such an epistle as this. But that such a letter as this should be written by him, in the circumstances in which he then was, is a very important consideration in favour of the truth of Christianity, because the writing of such a letter cannot be accounted for without supposing the truth of the leading facts in the gospel history. And this epistle being written so near the time of the apostle's death, after a long course of laborious and painful services, sufficiently proves that he had no worldly views in his preaching, but that his object was faithfully to serve God by promoting the spirit of the gospel in this life, in the firm belief, which we may well conclude he would not take up and suffer so much for without good evidence of that future life to which Christ would raise him at his second coming.
The Christian church at Philippi was the first that was planted on the continent of Europe. There it was [Acts xvi. 18,] that Paul, accompanied by Silas, cured a woman who was disordered in her mind, and who brought her master much gain by telling fortunes, in consequence of which they were cast
Yet Jerome says, “ Necdum Neronis imperium roborato, nec in tanta erumpente scelera quanta de eo narrant historiæ. (Nero's government not being then quite degenerated, nor disgraced by the horrible wickedness which historians speak of.)” Lardner, V. p. 45; VI. p. 351. See Harwood, supra, p. 249, Note VOL. XIV.
into prison, but being soon released, left the place. This was eleven years before the writing of this epistle.*
The Christians at Philippi were probably wealthy, and they were proportionably generous, as they contributed largely to the apostle's support in other places, with respect to which some churches had been too negligent, and they had not been unmindful of the apostle now that he was a prisoner at Rome, but had sent Epaphroditus, one of their body, with a contribution for his relief. This he gratefully acknowledges in this epistle, which is thought to have been written after Paul had been more than a year in Rome, A. D. 62. In his epistle from this place to Timothy, the apostle had urged bim to come to him ; but at the time of his writing this epistle he was with him, and joins in the salutations to the church.
One principal object of this epistle, as of many others of this apostle, is to exhort Christians to persevere in the purity of the gospel, and to resist the attempts of the Judaizing teachers to sow divisions among them; and especially to recommend their profession by a suitable life and conversation. The manner in which the apostle speaks of his own situation, and the satisfaction which he appears to have bad in all that he had done and suffered for the sake of the gospel, is highly edifying. He appears at this time to have had the hope of being set at liberty; but says, that, as to bimself, it was a matter of perfect indifference whether he lived or died, provided his dying might be subservient, as he was confident that either of them would be, to the propagation of the gospel.
Chap. I. 1. By bishops the apostle could only mean the elders or presbyters of the church, to all of whom, as to those of the church of Ephesus, he gives the title of bishops or
There could be no such thing in that age as a bishop of one church having a superintendence over the ministers of other churches.t Whether diocesan episcopacy be an useful institution or not, there is nothing to countenance it in the Scriptures; and the history of the church in later ages shews how liable it is to the grossest abuses, making the church of Christ to resemble the kingdoms of this world, by feeding the pride and ignorance of some churches and bishops, to the degradation and oppression of others.
See Lardner, VI. pp. 375–377; Doddridge's Introd. V. p. 226; Michaelis's Introd. Lect. (Sect. cxl. exli.), pp. 306-308.
† See Wluitby in Doddridge ; Lord King's Enquiry, in Vol. II. p. ss0, Note.