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Julian Pe- them in the Christian Faith, by describing, in the most Rome. riod, 4774. Vulgar Era,
to be the same which the apostle mentions Coloss. iv. 16.
"When this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read
also in the Church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise
read the epistle from Laodicea." Dr. Paley's arguments in the
affirmative are entitled to much regard.
Although it does not appear, he observes, to have ever been
disputed that the epistle before us was written by St. Paul, yet it
is well known that a doubt has long been entertained concerning
the persons to whom it was addressed. The question is founded
partly in some ambiguity in the external evidence. Marcion,
a heretic of the second century, as quoted by Tertullian, a fa-
ther in the beginning of the third, calls it, The Epistle to the
Laodiceans. From what we know of Marcion, his judgment is
little to be relied upon; nor is it perfectly clear that Marcion was
rightly understood by Tertullian. If, however, Marcion be
brought to prove that some copies in his time gave v Aaodikɛía
in the superscription, his testimony, if it be truly interpreted,
is not diminished by his heresy; for, as Grotius observes, "
in eâ re mentiretur nihil erat cause." The name iv 'Epiow in
Ephesus, in the first verse, upon which word singly depends
the proof that the epistle was written to the Ephesians, is not
read in all the manuscripts now extant. I admit, however, that
the external evidence preponderates with a manifest excess on
the side of the received reading. The objection, therefore, prin-
cipally arises from the contents of the epistle itself, which, in
many respects militate with the supposition that it was written
to the Church of Ephesus. According to the history, St. Paul
had passed two whole years at Ephesus, Acts xix. 10. and in
this point, viz. of St. Paul having preached for a considerable
length of time at Ephesus, the history is confirmed by the two
Epistles to the Corinthians, and by the two Epistles to Ti-
mothy. "I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost," 1 Cor. xvi.
"We would not have you ignorant of our trouble which
came to us in Asia," 2 Cor. i. 8. "As I besought thee to abide
still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia," 1 Tim. i. 3
"And in how many things he ministered to me at Ephesus, thou
knowest well," 2 Tim. i. 18. I adduce these testimonies, be-
cause, had it been a competition of credit between the history
and the epistle, I should have thought myself bound to have
preferred the epistle. Now every epistle which St. Paul wrote to
Churches which he himself had founded, or which he had visited,
abounds with references and appeals to what had passed during
the time that he was present amongst them; whereas there is
not a text in the Epistle to the Ephesians from which we can
collect that he had ever been at Ephesus at all. The two
Epistles to the Corinthians, the Epistle to the Galatians, the
Epistle to the Philippians, and the two Epistles to the Thessa-
lonians, are of this class; and they are full of allusions to the
apostle's history, his reception, and his conduct whilst amongst
them; the total want of which, in the epistle before us, is very
difficult to account for, if it was in truth written to the Church
of Ephesus, in which city he had resided for so long a time.
This is the first and strongest objection. But farther, the
Epistle to the Colossians was addressed to a Church in which
St. Paul had never been. This we infer from the first verse of
the second chapter: "For I would that ye knew what great
conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as
many as have not seen my face in the flesh." There could be
Julian Period, 4774. Vulgar Era, 61.
EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS-CHAP. XIV.
animating Language, the Mercy of God displayed in the Rome.
no propriety in thus joining the Colossians and Laodiceans
with those who had not seen his face in the flesh," if they did
not also belong to the same description. Now his address to
the Colossians, whom he had not visited, is precisely the same
as his address to the Christians, to whom he wrote in the epistle
which we are considering: "We give thanks to God and the
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since
we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which
ye have to all the saints," Col. i. 3. Thus he speaks to the Co-
lossians, in the epistle before us, as follows: "Wherefore I
also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love
'unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you in my
prayers," chap. i. 15. The words "having heard of your faith
and love," are the very words, we see, which he uses towards
strangers; and it is not probable that he should employ the
same in accosting a Church in which he had long exercised bis
ministry, and whose faith and love he must have personally
known. The Epistle to the Romans was written before St. Paul
had been at Rome; and his address to them runs in the same
strain with that just now quoted: "I thank my God, through
Jesus Christ, for you all, that your faith is spoken of through-
out the whole world," Rom. i. 8. Let us now see what was the
form in which our apostle was accustomed to introduce his
epistles, when he wrote to those with whom he was already ac-
quainted. To the Corinthians it was this: "I thank my God
always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you
by Christ Jeuss;" 1 Cor. i. 4. To the Philippians: "I thank my
God upon every remembrance of you," Phil. i. 3. To the Thes-
salonians: "We give thanks to God always for you all, making
mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing
your work of faith and labour of love," 1 Thess. i. 3. To Ti-
mothy: "I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with
a pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of
thee in my prayers night and day," 2 Tim. i. 3. In these quota-
tions it is usually his remembrance, and never his hearing of
them, which he makes the subject of his thankfulness to God.
As great difficulties stand in the way, supposing the epistle be-
fore us to have been written to the Church at Ephesus; so I
think it probable that it is actually the Epistle to the Laodi-
ceans, referred to in the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the
Colossians. The text which contains that reference is this:
"When this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also
in the Church of the Laodiceans, and that ye likewise read
the epistle from Laodicea," Col. iv. 16. The epistle from
Laodicea was an epistle sent by St. Paul to that Church, and by
them transmitted to Colosse. The two Churches were mutually
to communicate the epistles they had received. This is the way
in which the direction is explained by the greater part of com-
mentators, and is the most probable sense that can be given to it.
It is also probable that the epistle alluded to was an epistle
which had been received by the Church of Laodicea lately. It
appears, then, with a considerable degree of evidence, that there
existed an epistle of St. Paul nearly of the same date with the
Epistle to the Colossians, and an epistle directed to a Church
(for such the Church of Laodicea was,) in which St. Paul had
never been. What has been observed concerning the epistle
before us, shews that it answers perfectly to that character.
Nor does the mistake seem very difficult to account for.
Julian Period, 4774. Vulgar Æra,
calling of the Gentiles through Faith in Christ, without Rome.
Whoever inspects the map of Asia Minor will see, that a person
proceeding from Rome to Laodicea, would probably land at
Ephesus, as the nearest frequented sea-port in that direction.
Might not Tychicus then, in passing through Ephesus, commu-
nicate to the Christians of that place the letter with which he
was charged? And might not copies of that letter be multi-
plied and preserved at Ephesus? Might not some of the copies
drop the words of designation ἐν τῇ Λαοδικεία, which it was of
no consequence to an Ephesian to retain? Might not copies
of the letter come out into the Christian Church at large from
Ephesus; and might not this give occasion to a belief that the
letter was written to that Church? and, lastly, might not this
belief produce the error which we suppose to have crept into the
And it is remarkable, that there seem to have been some an-
cient copies without the words of designation, either the words
in Ephesus, or the words in Laodicea. St. Basil, a writer of
the fourth century, has this very singular passage: "And writ-
ing to the Ephesians, as truly united to him who is through
knowledge, he (Paul) calleth them in a peculiar sense 'such
who are;' saying, to the saints who are, and (or even) the faith-
ful in Christ Jesus; for so those before us have transmitted it,
and we have found it in ancient copics." Dr. Mill interprets
(and, notwithstanding some objections that have been made to
him, in my opinion, rightly interprets) these words of Basil,
as declaring that this father had seen certain copies of the
epistle in which the words "in Ephesus" were wanting. And
the passage must be considered as Basil's fanciful way of ex-
plaining what was really a corrupt and defective reading; for I
do not believe it possible that the author of the epistle could
have originally written ἅγιοις τοῖς ἔσιν, without any name of
place to follow it.
Such are the arguments of Dr. Paley on this side of the question. All the ancient fathers and Christian writers, with Bishop Tomline, Horne, and many others of our best critics, have espoused the contrary opinion, which is well represented by Dr. Lardner, who observes, "That this epistle was sent to the Church at Ephesus, we are assured by the testimony of all catholic Christians of all past ages. This we can now say with confidence, having examined the principal Christian writers of the first age, to the beginning of the twelfth century, in all which space of time there appears not one who had any doubt about it. Of these testimonics, that of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, in the end of the first century, is very remarkable. In a letter which he wrote to the Ephesians from Smyrna, in his way to Rome, he says, chap. xii. "Ye are the companions in the mysteries of the Gospel of Paul the sanctified, the martyr, deservedly most happy; at whose feet may I be found, when I shall have attained unto God, who, πᾶση ἐπίπολη (for ὅλη ἐπιsóλn, as nãoα oikodoμn, Ephes. ii. 21. is first for oλŋ,) throughout all bis epistle, makes mention of you in Christ." The Greek phrase signifies honourable mention, (Matt. xxiv. 13. Mark xiv. 9. Acts x. 4.) Ignatius means, that St. Paul commends the Ephesians throughout the whole of the epistle, without blaming them, as he did in his letters which were addressed to some others, by calling them companions or partakers of the mysteries of the Gospel of Paul, he alluded to those passages in the present Epistle of the Ephesians, where the Gospel is reprc
EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS-CHAP. XIV.
Julian Period, 4774. Vulgar Æra, 61.
being subjected to the Law of Moses, and to enforce upon Rome.
sented as a mystery made known to the apostle, and by him to
them. Ignatius having thus described the Epistle to the Ephe-
sians, there can be no doubt as to the genuineness of its in-
scription; for it is, by some, supposed that the epistle of Igna-
tius was only written forty-five years after that of the Epistle to
Michaelis has shown, at considerable length, that the omis-
sion of the word sow, "who are," was the subject of Basil's im-
plied censure, as being hostile to the inference he wished to
deduce, and not the omission of the words iv Epέow. And as this
father, in another passage of his writings, expressly cites the
Epistle to the Ephesians (a) without any hesitation, it is evident
that in his time (the latter part of the fourth century) this
epistle was not considered as being addressed to the Laodiceans.
The passages quoted by Dr. Paley admit of easy and satisfactory interpretations, which directly refute his hypothesis. It will be recollected that four or five years had elapsed since St. Paul had quitted Ephesus; he might therefore with great propriety express (in i. 15.) his complacency on hearing that they continued stedfast in the faith, notwithstanding the various temptations to which they were exposed. Again, the expression (in iii. 2.) (εἴγε ἠκούσατε τὴν οἰκονομίαν) which many translate and understand to mean, "if ye have heard of the dispensation," more correctly means," since ye have heard the dispensation" of the grace of God, which had been made known to them by St. Paul himself. Consequently this verse affords no countenance to the hypothesis above mentioned. The same remark applies to chap. iv. 21. where a similar construction occurs, which ought in like manner to be rendered, "since indeed ye have heard him," &c. With respect to the direction given by St. Paul in Col. iv. 16. that the Colossians should cause the epistle which he wrote to them to be read also in the Church of the Laodiceans, and that they should likewise read the epistle from Laodicea," it is highly probable (as Rosenmüller has remarked) that by "the epistle from Laodicea," St. Paul meant a letter addressed to him by the Church of Laodicea, in answer to which he wrote the letter addressed to the Colossians, (as being the larger Church) desiring that they would send it to the Laodiceans, and get a copy of the Epistle which the latter had sent to St. Paul, in order that the Colossians might better understand his reply.
Michaelis and Haenlein, after Archbishop Usher and Bengel, get rid of all the difficulties attending this question, by suppossing the epistle to have been encyclical or circular, being 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 v 'Epéow, at Ephesus, v Aaodireia, at Laodicea, &c. as occasion required, and that the reason why all our manuscripts read ἐν ̓Εφέσω, 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 provedthat 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 St. 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
Julian Period, 4774. Vulgar Era, 61.
them that Holiness and Consistency of Conduct, which
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 far-
ther destination (b).
Dr. Lardner enumerates a variety of passages which apply better to the Ephesians than to any other people; particularly those which shew that the apostle was well acquainted with those whom he was addressing; see chap. i. 13. also at the end of the chapter, where, after speaking of Christ as filling all his members with his gifts and graces, he adds, chap. ii. 1." Even you who were dead in trespasses and sins."-Chap. iv. 20. "But ye have not so learned Christ."-Ver. 21. "Seeing ye have heard him, and have been taught concerning him, as the truth is in Jesus." Now, could the apostle say these things, unless he had been well acquainted with the persons to whom he wrote or rather, unless they had been instructed and endowed with the spiritual gifts by himself? Farther, if the apostle had not been well acquainted with the persons to whom he was writing, and if they had not been his own converts, would they have taken such an interest in him, as to make it proper for him to send Tychicus to make known all things to them concerning himself? chap. vi. 21, 22. "The salutation sent to the brethren in Laodicea," Coloss. iv. 15. is a strong presumption that the epistle in the canon inscribed to the Ephesians, was not to the Laodiceans. For the Epistle to the Colossians being written at the same time with the supposed Epistle to the Laodiceans, and sent by the same messenger, Tychicus, Eph. vi. 21. Coloss. iv. 7, 8. is it probable, that in the Epistle to the Colossians, the apostle would think it needful to salute the brethren in Laodicea, to whom he had written a particular letter, in which he had given them his apostolical benediction? We will finish the argument in the words of Dr. Chandler, who observes, "It is not material to whom the Epistle was inscribed, whether to the Ephesians or Laodiceans, since the authority of the Epistle doth not depend on the persons to whom it was written, but on the person who indited it; which was St. Paul, as the letter itself testifies, and all genuine antiquity confirms."
That this Epistle was designed for the use not only of the Athenians, but of all the brethren in the Proconsular Asia, not excepting those to whom the apostle was personally unknown, may be inferred from the inscription of the Epistle, and from its concluding benedictions. The saints in Ephesus, and the believers in Christ Jesus, appear to describe different personsthe latter may relate to all the believers in the province of Asia. A distinction is also made in the benediction (chap. iv. 23.) Peace be to the brethren (at Ephesus), and then grace be with all them who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, that is, with all the faithful brethren in the Proconsular Asia. That a considerable intercourse existed between the churches of the Proconsular Asia and that of Ephesus, is evident from the first Epistle to the Corinthians, which was written from Ephesus, where instead of mentioning the Church of Ephesus by itself, as saluting the Corinthians, the salutation is from the Churches of Asia, in general comprehending Ephesus among the rest (1 Cor. xvi. 19.) St. Paul usually addressed his letters to the