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Nero became a persecutor, according to an observation of Jerom in his commentary upon the epistle to Philemon, ver. 22. cited by us not long ago.
As Timothy joins with the apostle in the salutation at the beginning of this epistlé, he was still at Rome, and not yet sent away to Philippi. I therefore conclude, that this epistle was written about the same time with that to the Philippians, in the year 62, and some while before the end of it.
The Epistle to Philemon. Philemon was a citizen of Colosse, in Phrygia. Paulo writes this epistle to him in belralf of Onesimus, a slave, who had robbed his master, and run away. Him Paul had converted to the Christian faith at Rome, during his bonds, which are several times mentioned in this epistle.
Timothy is joined with Paul in the salutations at the beginning of the epistle. At ver. 23 and 24, the apostle sends salutations from Epaphras, then his “ fellow-prisoner:" from Mark, whom Timothy had brought with him to Rome, according to Paul's desire, 2 Tim. iv. 11: from Luke and Aristarchus, who had accompanied the apostle in his voyage from Judea to Rome, and had continued with him ever since: and from Demas, who had departed from the apostle for a while, but was now returned. Compare 2 Tim. iv. 10.
From ver. 19, it is argued by Jerom, as well as by some learned commentators of late times, that the whole of this epistle was sent in the apostle's own hand writing.
St. Paul had now good hopes of obtaining his liberty. For he says, at ver. 22; “ But withal prepare me also a lodging. For I trust, that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.” Nevertheless, as Timothy joins with the apostle in the salutations at the beginning of the epistle, I think it was not yet fully determined. For Paul says to the Philippians, ii. 23, that " he hoped to send him to them presently, so soon as he should see how it would go
with him.” As Timothy was still at Rome, and not sent away to Philippi, it may be argued, that the apostle did not yet certainly know the success of the attempts made use of by his friends to procure his liberty. I therefore conclude, that this epistle was written about the same time with
that to the Philippians, in the year 62, and some while before the end of it.
These three epistles to the Philippians, the Colossians, and Philemon, are also placed by Mill 4 in the year 62.
I will now add a few observations concerning the epistle to Philemon.
Philemon's station is not certainly known. Grotius thought he dwelt at Ephesus, and was one of the elders of that church. 'Beausobre, in his notes upon the first verse of this epistle, speaks of Philemon, as one of the pastors of the church of Colosse.
To me it appears evident, that Philemon was an inhabitant of Colosse. For his servant, Onesimus, is recommended by St. Paul to the church in that city, and said to be “one of them," ch. iv. 9. And the Christians at Colosse are required by the apostle to “ say to Archippus, take heed to the ministry, which thou hast received,” ver. 17. Which Archippus is saluted in the epistle to Philemon, ver. 2.
Theodoret expressly says, that : Philemon was a citizen of Colosse, and that the house in which he dwelt, was still remaining there. Theophylact calls him a Phrygian. Jerom likewise says, he was of Colosse. But he bestows so many words to make it out, that we may be led to think there were some in his time who disputed it. a See before,
alii scriptores tradunt. Et adjutori meo.'] id est uni Pres• Totum autem, pro quo rogat, illud est: Onesimus, ser- byterorum illorum, qui Ephesi plures erant.
Act. xx, 17. vus Philemonis, fugam furto cumulans, quædam rei domesticæ Grot, in Philem. ver. 1. compilarat. Hic pergens in Italiam, ne in proximo facilius ' Il paroît par là, que Philémon étoit un des Pasteurs de posset appreliendi, pecuniam domini per luxuriam prodegerat. l'église de Colosses. Beaus. &c. Hieron. in Philem. T. IV. p. 449. Vid. et Theodoreti και Πολιν δε ειχε τας Κολοσσας. Και η οικια δε αυ78 μεχρι argum. in ep. ad Philem. T. III. p. 516.
T8 TAPOYTOS MELLEyrxe. Theod. arg. ep. ad Philem. T. II. ¿ Quod dicit, tale est. Quod Onesimus furto rapuit, ego p. 516.
Theoph. ep. ad Philem. T. II. p. 861. me spondeo redditurum. Cujus sponsionis epistola hæc et Si autem Philemon, ad quem hæc epistola scribitur, Onemanus testis est propria ; quam non solito more dictavi, sed simi dominus est-et ad Colossenses refertur, quod ex iis mea manu ipse conscripsi. Hier. ib. p. 452.
sit, ratio nos ipsa et ordo deducit, quod et Philemon ColosVid. Prolegom, num. 68-70. et 80-82.
sensis sit, et eo tempore communem ad omnem ecclesiam e Philemoni dilecto.] Videtur habitasse Ephesi, ubi One. Onesimus epistolam tulerit, quo privatas et sui commendatrisimus postea episcopatu functus est, ut et Ignatü literæ, et ces ad doininum literas suinserat. Est et aliud indicium,
Philemon, therefore, was a Colossian. But whether he was an elder there, or only a private christian, in good circumstances, is not so certain. The inscription is, Philemon, our dearly beloved, and fellow-labourer.” Which last expression is ambiguous. It may imply, that Piuilemon was an elder in the church of Colosse. Or no more may be intended thereby, than in general, that Philemon was some way useful in helping forward the gospel. In the Apostolical Constitution · Philemon is said to have been ordained bishop of Colosse by the apostles. But their testimony is of very little weight. I do not perceive Jerom to say expressly, that " Philemon was bishop, or elder at Colosse. Perhaps he was not positive about it in his own mind. The author of the Commentary upon thirteen of St. Paul's epistles, by some reckoned to be Hilary, deacon of Rome, says, that Philemon had no ecclesiastical dignity, but was one of the laity. And Ecumenius, in his prologue to the second epistle of St. John, formerly - cited, appears also to have thought Philemon to be a man in private station.
Perhaps some have been the rather unwilling to allow, that Philemon was a bishop, or elder, because he had a wife, whose name was Apphia, and because he was a man of substance, who had one slave at least, if not more. Nevertheless we have just observed two learned men, of very good judgment, Grotius and Beausobre, who were not much swayed by those considerations. One of whom thought Philemon to have been an elder in the church of Ephesus: the other, one of the pastors of the church of Colosse. To them I can now add · Dr. Doddridge.
However, as the thing is of no great importance, so I must acknowledge, that it is not very easy to be decided. St. Paul's expression, “ fellow-labourer,” as before observed, is ambiguous. His manner of address, which is very earnest, farther induces me to hesitate. If Philemon had been an elder, he must have known his duty : and could not have needed so pressing an exhortation to receive a penitent, and him one of his family,
Onesimus, unquestionably, was received by the church of Colosse, as a good Christian, upon the apostle's recommendation. It is as reasonable to think, that Philemon was reconciled to him: and, probably, gave him his freedom. In the Apostolical Constitutions ' he is..said to have been bishop of Berea in Macedonia. When Ignatius wrote his epistle to the Ephesians, about the year 107, their bishop's name was Onesimus. And Grotius & thought him to be the same, for whom Paul interceded with Philemon. But that is not certain.
The Epistle to the Hebrews.
«I * agree,
I shall inquire, 1. To whom it was written. 2. In what language. 3. By whom. 4. The time and place of writing it.
I. In the first place let us consider to whom this epistle was written, A. D. 63.
Sir Isaac Newton thought, that' this epistle was written to Jewish believers, who left • Jerusalem about the time that the war broke out, and went into Asia. According to this account, the epistle could not be written till some while after the breaking out of the war in Judea, in the year 66. But it will be difficult to shew, that Paul, whom Sir Isaac allows to be the writer, lived so long. Not now to mention any thing else.
Dr. Wall was inclined to the same opinion, or somewhat not very different. says he, that the epistle was written to Hebrews, that is to the Hebrew Christians of some quod in hac eâdem epistolâ et Archippus nominatur, cui hic dignitate, sed vir laudabilis, unus ex plebe, &c. Proleg. in cum Philemone scribitur : ‘Dicite,' inquit 'Archippo: Vide
ministerium, quod accepisti a Domino, ut illud impleas.'- d See before, p. 213. Ex quo puto, aut Episcopum fuisse Colossensis ecclesiæ, cui e See bis preface to Philemon. p. 585, and his Paraphrase admonetur studiose et diligenter præesse, ut evangelii prædi- of the first verse, p. 589, of the Family Expositor, Vol. V. catorem. Aut si ita non est, illud mihi impræsentiarum suffi- f Lib. VII. cap. 46. cit, quod et Philemon, et Archippus, et Onesimus ipse, qui 8 See before, note o p. 323. literas perferebat, fuerint Colossenses, &c. Comm. in Phi- b Vid. Basnag. Ann. 60. num. xxvii. lem. T. IV. p. 445.
1. The epistle to the Hebrews, since it mentions Timothy, a Const. Ap. 1. 7. cap. 46.
as related to the Hebrews, must be written to them, after Scribunt igitur Paulus et Timotheus Philemoni carissimo their flight into Asia: where Timothy was bishop, and by et co-operatori ; qui ideo carissimus dictus est, quod in eodem consequence after the war was begun.' Newton's ObserChristi opere versetur. In ep. ad Philem. p.
vations upon the Apoc. of St. John, ch. i. p. 244. · Philemon nullâ erat ecclesiasticæ ordinationis præditus Critical Notes upon the N. T. p. 317, 318.
ep. ad Philem.
place. But for the place or country, I think, they were rather the Hebrew Christians of • Asia (Ephesus, Miletus, and thereabout) Macedonia, Greece, &c. where St. Paul had spent most of his time, than that they were those of Jerusalem, &c.'
The late Mr. Wetstein conjectured, that a the epistle was written by Paul to the Jewish believers at Rome, soon after he had been released from confinement in that city. Which conjecture, I believe, will be followed by very few. And as it has no ancient authority, and is destitute of all appearance of probability, I suppose it need not be confuted.
Lightfoot thought, • That this epistle was sent by Paul to the believing Jews of Judea, a • people, says he, that had been much engaged to him, for his care of their poor, getting collec• tions for them all along in his travels.' He adds : It is not to be doubted, indeed, that he • intendeth the discourse and matter of this epistle to the Jews throughout their dispersion.• Yet does he endorse it, and send it chiefly to the Hebrews, or the Jews of Judea, the principal * part of the circumcision, as the properest centre to which to direct it, and from whence it might be best diffused in time to the whole circumference of the dispersion.'
Whitby, in his preface to the epistle to the Hebrews, is of the same opinion, and argues much after the same manner with Lightfoot.
So likewise Mill, « Pearson, “ Lewis Capellus, and Beza in his preface to this epistle, and the editors of the French N. T. at Berlin in their general preface to St. Paul's epistles, and in their preface to this epistle in particular. Of this Mr. Hallet had no doubt, who in his Synopsis of the epistle says: This epistle was particularly designed for the Hebrew Christians, that • dwelt in one certain place, and was sent thither, as appears from the apostle's saying, ch. xiii. • 19, 23. “ I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. I * will see you.” And what particular place can this be supposed to be, but Judea ? There the
Christians were continually persecuted by the unbelieving Jews, as we read in the Acts of the apostles, and as St. Paul takes notice 1 Thess. ii. 14. Hebr. x. 32–36. ch. xii. 4, 5. By these persecutions the Hebrew Christians were tempted to apostatise from Christianity, and to think, • there was strength in the arguments urged by the persecutors in favour of Judaism, The * apostle therefore sets himself to guard against both these dangers. And what follows.
This appears to me to be the most probable opinion.
It may be taken for granted, that this was the opinion of Clement of Alexandria, and : Jerom, and “Euthalius, who supposed this epistle to have been first written in Hebrew, and afterwards translated into Greek. It may be allowed to have been also the opinion of many others, who quote this epistle, 'as written to Hebrews, when they say nothing to the contrary. Nor do I recollect any ancients, who say it was written to Jews living out of Judea.
Chrysostom says, that' the epistle was sent to the believing Jews of Palestine. And supposeth, that the apostle afterwards made them a visit. Theodoret * in his preface to the epistle allows it to be sent to the same Jews. And Theophylact 'in his argument of the epistle expressly says, as Chrysostom, that it was sent to the Jews of Palestine. So that this
So that this m was the general opinion of the ancients.
2. There are in the epistle many things especially suitable to the believers in Judea. Which must lead us to think it was written to them. ' I shall select divers such passages.
1.) Hebr. i. 2.-" Has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” * Si conjecturæ locus est, existimaverim potius ad Judæos Ap. Euseb. H. E. 1. 6. qui Romæ degebant, et Christo nomen dederant, scriptam 8 Scripserat, ut Hebræus Hebræis, Hebraïce, id est, suo fuisse: quo admisso, facile intelligitur, quî factum, tum ut eloquio disertissime. De V. I.
cap. v. Paulus, qui Romà quidem, sed non Italia, excedere jussus Argum. ep. ad Hebr. ap. zac. p. 670. erat, brevi se rediturum speraret, tum ut Itali Romanos salu- i Πε δε εσιν επιςελλει; Εμοι δοκει εν Ιεροσολύμοις και tarent. Wetsten. N. T. tom. II. p. 386, 387.
Παλαιστινη.-- Δυο μεν εν ετη εποιησεν εν Ρωμη δεδεμενος: • Harmony of the N. T. Vol. I. p. 340.
ειτα αφεινη, ειτα εις τας Σπανιας ηλθεν ειτα εις Ιεδαιαν εζη, · Per Hebræos autem istos potissimum fideles Hierosolymi- οτε και Ιεδαιας ειδε. . Και τοτε παλιν ηλθεν εις Ρωμην, ότε tanos intelligit, apud quos ante duos annos versatus fuerat. και υπο Nερωνος ανηρεθη. Ρr. in ep. ad Ηebr. Τ. ΧΙΙ. Hinc illud, iva aroxataota w usy. cap. xiii. 19. Mill. Proleg. k Vid. Theodoret argum. ep. ad Hebr. num. 83.
1Τοις εν Παλαιστινη δε και Ιεροσολυμους επισελλει. Τheophyl. d Annal. Paulin. p. 20, 21.
arg. ep. ad Hebr. p. 872. • Ex quibus conjicere licet, hanc epistolam a Paulo sub Voyez la préf. de Beausobre sur l'epître aux Hébr, num. finem priorum vinculorum Roma scriptum fuisse ad Hieroso- xxxyiii. . lymitanos Judæos, qui in Christum crediderant. L. Capel, Hist. Ap. p. 80.
2.) Ch. iv. 2. “ For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as to them.”
3.) Ch. ii. 1–4. “ Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that we have heard how then shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him: God also bearing them witness with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost.''
Does not that exhortation, and the reason, with which it is supported, peculiarly suit the believers of Judea, where Christ himself first taught, and then his disciples after him, confirming their testimony with very numerous and conspicuous miracles ?
4.) The people, to whom this epistle is sent, were well acquainted with our Saviour's sufferings, as they of Judea must have been. This appears in ch. i. 3. ii. 9, 18. v. 7, 8. ix, 14, 28. x. 11. xii. 2, 3. xiii. 12.
-5.) Ch. v. 12. “For when ye ought to be teachers of others,” and what follows, is most properly understood of Christians in Jerusalem, and Judea, to whom the gospel was first preached.
6.) What is said, ch. vi. 4–6. and x. 26—29. is most properly applicable to apostates in Judea.
7.) Ch. x. 32–31. “ But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions"_to the end of ver. 34. This leads us to the church of Jerusalem, which had suffered much, long before the writing this epistle, even very soon after they had received the knowledge of the truth. Comp. Acts viii. 1. ix. 1, 2. ix. 19. and 1 Thess. ii. 14. Grotius · supposeth as much.
8.) Those exhortations ch. xiii. 13, 14, must have been very suitable to the case of the Jews of Jerusalem, at the supposed time of writing this epistle, a few years before the war in that country broke out.
9.) The regard shewn in this epistle to the rulers of the church or churches, to which it is sent, is very remarkable. They are mentioned twice or thrice: first in ch. xiii. 7. “Remember your rulers, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith imitate, considering the end of their conversation.” These were dead, as Grotius observes. And Theodoret's note is to this purpose: · He intends the saints that were dead, Stephen the proto-martyr, James the • brother of John, and James called the Just. And there were many others, who were taken • off by the Jewish rage. Consider these,' says he, and observing their example, imitate their • faith.' Then again, at ver. 17. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves. For they watch for your souls.”- -And once more, ver. 24. “ Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints." Upon which Theodoret says: “ This “ way of speaking intimates, • that their rulers did not need such instruction. For which reason he did not write to them, • but to their disciples. That is a fine observation. And Whitby upon that verse, says: · Hence, it * seems evident, that this epistle was not sent to the bishops or rulers of the church, but to the whole • church or the laity. And it may deserve to be considered, whether this repeated notice of the. .. rulers among them does not afford ground to believe, that some of the apostles were still in Judea ? Whether there be sufficient reason to believe that, or not, I think these notices very proper and suitable to the state of the Jewish believers in Judea. For I am persuaded, that not only James, and all the other apostles, had exactly the same doctrine with Paul: but that all the elders likewise and all the understanding men among the Jewish believers, embraced the same doctrine. They were, as I apprehend, the multitude only, adm80s, plebs, or the men of lower rank among them, who were attached to the peculiarities of the Mosaic law, and the customs of their ancestors. This may be argued from what James and the elders at Jerusalem say to Paul. Acts xxi. 20—22. “ Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are that believe. And they are all zealous of the law. What is it therefore? The multitude must needs come together."--It is hence evident, that the zeal for the law, which prevailed in the minds of
• Post Stephani mortem vehementer vexati fuere illi in Judæâ Christiani, ut videre est Act. xi. 19. 1 Thess. ii. 14. Grot. ad Heb. x. 34.
Loquitur autem de iis, qui jam obierant, ut ostendunt sequentia. Qui vobis locuti sunt verbum Dei:' nempe in
diversis oppidis; forte etiam diversis temporibus, cum mortuis alii successerint. Id. ad Hebr. xiii. 7.
ad Hebr. cap. xii. tom. III. p. 459. D. « Αινιττεται ο λογος, ως οι προςατευοντες αυτων τοιαυτης διδασκαλιας 8κ εχρησαν" ου δη χαριν εκ εκεινους εωεςειλεί, αλλα τοις μαθηταις. Ιbid. p. 462. D.
many, was not approved by James, or the elders. That being the case, these recommendations of a regard for their rulers, whether apostles, or elders, were very proper in an epistle sent to the believers in Judea.
For these reasons I think that this epistle was sent to the Jewish believers at Jerusalem, and in Judea.
But there are objections, which must be considered.
1. Obj. Ch. vi. 10. “God is not unrighteous, to forget your work and labour of love, in that ye have ministred to the saints, and do minister.”. Upon which Dr. Wall a remarks :: • Here again we are put upon thinking, to what church, or what Christians this is said. For as
to those of Jerusalem, we read much in Paul's former letters, of their poverty, and of their: • being ministred to by the Gentile Christians of Galatia, Macedonia, Corinth: and in the Acts, . by the Antiochians: but no where of their ministring to other saints. If it is of them that St.. • Paul speaks this, it must be meant of their ministring to their own poor. For that they were: • famous at first, when the rich men sold their lands, and brought the money to the apostles, and « they had all things in common, and none lacked. But in the time since that, they were very • poor, and were relieved by other churches.' The late Mr. Wetstein, whose words I place below, argued much after the same manner with Dr. Wall. This objection, perhaps; might be strengthened from Heb. xiii. 2. “ Be not forgetful to entertain strangers." And from ver. 16.. “ To do good, and to communicate, forget not."
Answ. But the poverty of the Jews in Judea, and the contributions of the Gentile churches for their relief, are no reasons, why such admonitions as these should not be sent to them. They are properly directed to all Christians, that they may be induced to exert themselves to the utmost. The Gentile churches, among whom St. Paul made collections for the saints in Judea, were not rich. As he says, 1 Cor. i. 26. “ For ye know your calling, brethrennot many. mighty, not many noble, are called.”. -And of the churches in Macedonia, he says, 2 Cor. viii. 2. How that in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy, and their deep poverty, had abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” In like manner there might be instances of liberality to the distressed, among the believers in Judea. There was a fine example recorded, Acts ix. 36–39. Nor was there ever any city or country in the world, to whom that exhortation, “ be not forgetful to entertain strangers,” or, “ be not unmindful of hospitality," tus (!dočevias jy enidævbæverde, could be more properly given, than Jerusalem and Judea. For the people there must have been much accustomed to it at their festivals, when there was a great resort thither from all countries. And the writer of an epistle to the Christian inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea would naturally think of such an admonition; being desirous, that they should not fall short of others in that respect. And we may here not unfitly recollect the history of St. Paul's going to Jerusalem, and how he and his fellow-travellers were entertained at Cæsarea, in the house of Philip the evangelist, and at Jerusalem, in the house. of Mnason, an old disciple. As related Acts xxi. 8—16.
2. Obj. Upon ch. xiii. 18, 19, the same o Dr. Wall says, • One would think, that Paul should : • have prayed and purposed to go any whither, rather than to Jerusalem, where he had been so • used: and where he fell into that five years imprisonment, from which he was but just now • delivered.' To the like purpose also " Mr. Wetstein.
But there is not any improbability, that Paul might now desire to see his countrymen in Judea; if he might go thither with safety, as I think he might. Almost three years had now passed since he left Judea; and his trial, or apology, had been over two years. And he was ; now set at liberty by the emperor himself. No man, not very presumptuous, would admit a thought of disturbing him. However, I suppose, that the apostle would behave discreetly: so as to give no needless provocation to any, and that he would stay but a short time in Judea, and then go to Ephesus. There have been men of good sense, who have supposed, that Paul went to Jerusalem about this time, particularly Chrysostom. ' among the ancients, and divers moderns,, one of whom is : Pearson. a Critical Notes upon the N. T. p. 306.
As before, p. 316. Secundo, non possunt intelligi, qui Hierosolymis dege- d Ubi supra, p. 386.. bant. Hi enim pauperiores erant, et opus habebant, ut eorum e See before, p. 325. inopia ab aliis ecclesiis sublevaretur. - lis. vero, ad quos Lud. Capell. Hist. Apost. p. 39. Lenfant et Beausobre, hæc epistola scripta est, commendatur beneficentia, xiii. 16. Préf. générale sur les épîtres de St. Paul. num. lv. vi. 10. Erant ergo tales, non qui stipem accipere, sed qui 8 Paulus e Cretà cum Timotheo in Judæam navigat. Heb. dare debebant, solebantque. Wetst. ubi supr. p. 368. fin. xiii. 23. Annal. Paulin. p. 21. A. Chr. 64.