« הקודםהמשך »
his 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 throughout 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 acquainted. 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 Jesus," 1 Cor. i. 4. To the Philippians: “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,” Phil. i. 3. To the Thessalonians: “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 Timothy: “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day," 2 Tim. i. 3. In these quotatious 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 before us to have been written to the church of Ephesus, so I think it probable that it is actually the Epistle to the Laodiceans, 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," iv. 16. The "epistle from
* Mr. Locke endeavours to avoid this difficulty, by explaining “ their faith, of which St. Paul had heard,” to mean the steadfastness of their persuasion that they were called into the kingdom of God, without subjection to the Mosaic institution. But this interpretation seems to me extremely hard ; for, in the manner in which faith is here joined with love, in the expression, “ your faith and love," it could not be meant to denote any particular tenet ich distinguished one set of Christians from others; forasmuch as the expression describes the general virtues of the Christian profission. Vide Locke in loc.
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 commentators, 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's 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. 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 seaport in that direction. Might not Tychicus then, in passing through Ephesus, communicate to the Christians of that place the letter with whico he was charged ? And might not copies of that letter be multiplied and preserved at Ephesus? Might not some of the copies drop the words of designation εν τη Λαοδικεια,* which it was of no consequence to an Ephesian to retain ?
# And it is remarkable that there seem to have been some ancient copies without the words of designation, either the words in Ephesus, or the words in Laodicea. St. Basil, a writer of the fourth century, speaking of the present epistle, has this very singular passage: “ And writing 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 faithful in Christ Jesus; for so those before us have transmitted it, and we have found it in ancient copies." 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, I think, must be considered as Basil's fanciful way of explaining 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 άγιοις τοις ουσιν, without any name of place to follow it.
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 inscription?
As our epistle purports to have been written during St. Paul's imprisonment at Rome, which lies beyond the period to which the Acts of the Apostles brings up his history; and as we have seen and acknowledged that the epistle contains no reference to any transaction at Ephesus during the apostle's residence in that city, we cannot expect that it should supply many marks of agreement with the narrative. One coincidence how. ever occurs, and a coincidence of that minute and less obvious kind, which, as hath been repeatedly observed, is of all others the most to be relied upon.
Chap. vi. 19, 20. we read,“ Praying for me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds." “ In bonds,” ev alvoel, in a chain. In the twentyeighth chapter of the Acts we are informed, that Paul, after his arrival at Rome, was suffered to dwell by him. self with a soldier that kept him. Dr. Lardner has shewn that this mode of custody was in use amongst the Romans, and that whenever it was adopted, the prisoner was bound to the soldier by a single chain : in reference to which St. Paul, in the twentieth verse of this chapter, tells the Jews, whom he had assembled," For this cause therefore have I called for you to see you, and to speak with you, because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain,” την αλυσιν ταυτην περικει· Mar. It is in exact conformity therefore with the truth of St. Paul's situation at the time, that he declares of himself in the epistle, πρεσβευω εν αλυσει. And the exactness is the more remarkable, as alvors (a chain) is no where used in the singular number to express any other kind of custody. When the prisoner's hands or feet were bound together, the word was deguoi (bonds), as in the twenty-sixth chapter of the Acts, where Paul
replies to Agrippa,“ I would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether, such as I am, except these bonds," παρεκτος των δεσμων τουτων. . When the prisoner was confined between two soldiers, as in the case of Peter, Acts, chap. xii. 6. two chains were employed; and it is said upon his miraculous deliverance, that the “ chains" (advoeis, in the plural) “ fell from his hands.” Aco. Mos, the noun, and deopa. the verb, being general terms, were applicable to this in common with any other species of personal coercion ; but alvois, in the singular number, to none but this.
If it can be suspected that the writer of the present epistle, who in no other particular appears to have availed himself of the information concerning St. Paul delivered in the Acts, had, in this verse, borrowed the word which he read in that book, and had adapted his expression to what he found there recorded of St. Paul's treatment at Rome; in short, that the coincidence here noted was effected by craft and design ; I think it a strong reply to remark, that, in the parallel passage of the Epistle to the Colossians, the same allusion is not preserved : the words there are," praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds,” di o kai deguat. After what has been shewn in a preceding number, there can be little doubt but that these two epistles were written by the same person. If the writer, therefore, sought for, and fraudulently inserted, the correspondency into one epistle, why did he not do it in the other? A real prisoner might use either general words which comprehended this amongst many other modes of custody; or might use appropriate words which specified this, and distinguished it from any other mode. It would be accidental which form of expression he fell upon. But an impostor, who had the art, in one place, to employ the appropriate term for the purpose of fraud, would have used it in both places.
THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS.
WHEN a transaction is referred to in such a manner as that the reference is easily and immediately understood by those who are beforehand, or from other quarters, acquainted with the fact, but is obscure, or imperfect, or requires investigation, or a comparison of different parts, in order to be made clear to other readers, the transaction so referred to is probably real; because, had it been fictitious, the writer would have set forth his story more fully and plainly, not merely as conscious of the fiction, but as conscious taat his rezders could have no other knowledge of the subject of his allusion than from the information of which he put them in possession.
The account of Epaphroditus, in the Epistle to the Philippians of his journey to Rome, and of the business which brought him thither, is the article to which I mean to apply this observation. There are three passages in the epistle which relate to this subject. The first, chap. i. 7." Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are ovo/KOLVWVOL Mov TIS Xapitus, joint contributors to the gift which I have received."* Nothing more is said in this place. In the latter part of the second chapter, and at the distance of half the epistle from the last quotation, the subject appears again; “ Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and companion in labour, and fellow-soldier, but your messenger, and he
* Pearce, I believe, was the first commentator, who gave this sense to the expression : and I believe also, that his exposition is now generally assented to. He interprets in the same sense the phrase in the fifth verse, which our translation renders “ your fellowship in the gospel ;' but which in the original is not κοινωνια του ευαγγελιου, or κοινωνια εν τω ευαγγελιω; but κοινωνια εις το ευαγγελιον.