The Books of the New Testament
by Leighton Pullan
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To the end that they may be filled in their degree with God's attributes, the writer bows his knees (iii. 14) unto the Father. He prays for their strengthening because he has a special charge over the Gentiles. This charge involves the stewardship of a secret (iii. 3), viz. the inclusion of the Gentiles in the promise of God. He, the least of all saints, has been allowed to proclaim this secret, a work which shows to the heavenly powers the wisdom of God corresponding with His eternal purpose (iii. 10, 11). This bounty of God will ever be praised in the Church, which is the monument of that bounty (iii. 21).

Chapters iv.-vi. are largely practical. They set out rules of conduct. But even here doctrine is brought in to enforce practical advice. The readers are to "walk worthily" of their calling. To do this, they must realize unity. The principles of unity are magnificently summed up (iv. 4-6). Then the apostle mentions some means which God has appointed for the maintenance of unity. Christians have various gifts from the ascended Christ (iv. 7-8), and some are specially gifted for ecclesiastical offices (iv. 9-13). These gifts make for the completeness of the Church, of which Christ is the Head and the Life. To "walk worthily" also means that everything connected with heathen habits must be sedulously renounced. The old self must be changed for the new. A basis for social life must be found in truthfulness, uprightness, and kindliness (iv. 25-32). Purity must specially be preserved, impurity being contrasted with love. Light and darkness are then contrasted, and the sober gaiety of the Christian with heathen folly and excess (v. 1-21).

St. Paul passes on to speak of the Christian household—the {187} duties of husband, wife, children, slaves. He seems to pronounce a great benediction over family life as he compares the union of marriage to the association of Christ with His Church. Just as in calling Christ the Head of which the Church is the body, he suggests the entire dependence of the Church upon Christ, so now in describing the Church as the spouse of Christ, he suggests that this dependence must imply a voluntary and conscious submission. The final exhortation vividly describes the Christian's conflict with evil: to fight victoriously he will need to be well armoured with the whole panoply of God (vi. 10-20). There is a short personal conclusion in which St. Paul describes himself as Christ's "ambassador in chains."


Salutation (i. 1, 2).

Exposition of God's purpose in adopting the Gentiles as His sons, chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, sealed by the Spirit. A prayer for the readers (i.).

Their new state as saved by grace through faith; reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles in Christ (ii.). Paul was made a minister to dispense the grace of God to the Gentiles. He prays for their spiritual progress (iii.).

The unity of Christians in the Church combined with diversity of gifts and offices, a warning against heathen vices, and advice as to duty towards one's neighbour (iv.). Christian love, heathen uncleanness, light and darkness, walking circumspectly, sobriety and song (v. 1-21).

The union of husbands and wives like that of Christ and His Church (v. 22, 23). Duties of children and parents, servants and masters (vi. 1-9).

Wrestling against evil powers with the whole armour of God (vi. 10-18).

Personal conclusion and benediction (vi. 19-24).

[1] See Baur's Paul, vol. ii. p. 177 (English translation).

[2] Eph. i. 23. The Church is said to be "the fulness of Him that filleth all in all." The word "fulness" is derived from philosophy, and means that the Church is, or rather is the realization of, the sum of the sacred attributes of Christ, who fills the whole universe with all kinds of gifts. Some commentators translate "fulness" as if it meant the receptacle of Christ's attributes, and others as if it meant the completion of Christ. But the word is used in a philosophical and not in a literal sense. See Lightfoot, Colossians, p. 259.




[Sidenote: The Author.]

The genuineness of this Epistle is now admitted by critics of very different schools of thought, including some extreme rationalists. About A.D. 110 St. Polycarp, in his letter to the Philippians, speaks of the letters which they had received from "the blessed and glorious Paul." Although he seems to refer to a number of letters, we may be sure that this letter was among that number. Otherwise it would not have been so universally regarded as genuine during the 2nd century. It is in Marcion's canon, in the Muratorian Fragment, the Peshitta Syriac and Old Latin versions. It is also quoted in the letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne, in the Epistle of Diognetus, and by Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria. It was rejected by Baur and others on various grounds. It was urged (1) that the doctrine of Christ's self-surrender or "self-emptying" in Phil. ii. 7 is derived from the Valentinian Gnostics of the 2nd century, who taught that the Spirit "Sophia" fell from the "fulness" of divine spirits in heaven to the "emptiness" of the lower world. This objection is too fantastic to deserve serious refutation. It is, in fact, little more than a play upon words. It was urged (2) that in Phil. ii. 7 the manhood of Christ is said to have come into existence at the incarnation, whereas in 1 Cor. xv. 47-49 it is said to have existed in heaven before the incarnation. This idea rests on a false interpretation; in 1 Cor. xv. Christ is called "of heaven" {189} because His manhood became heavenly at His ascension. It was urged (3) that in Phil. iii. 6 the writer says that he had been, "as touching the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless," whereas St. Paul in Rom. vii. speaks of his revolt against the Law. But it seems that in Phil. iii. St. Paul is laying stress rather on his external privileges and external conformity, while in Rom. vii. he speaks of what is inward and secret. It was urged (4) that the mention of "bishops" (or rather episkopoi) and "deacons" in Phil. i. 1 shows that the Epistle was not written in the apostolic age. But there is nothing to make it impossible that such offices did exist at that period, and there is much evidence in favour of them. Christians who are attached to the historical form of Church government will now note with interest that, since the genuineness of this Epistle has been practically demonstrated, some writers have suggested that these words do not refer to special ecclesiastical offices![1]

[Sidenote: To whom written.]

Philippi was named after Philip, King of Macedon, in the 4th century B.C. It was in Eastern Macedonia, on a steep hill at the edge of a plain; its seaport, Neapolis, was about eight miles distant. It was on the Egnatian road, the great high-road which connected the Aegean and the Adriatic seas, and therefore connected Asia with Europe. It was made into a Roman colony, with the title Colonia Augusta Julia Philippensium, after the victory of Antony and Octavian over Brutus and Cassius. Its new name was, therefore, a memorial of the murdered but avenged Julius Caesar. St. Paul brought Christianity to Philippi early in A.D. 50, during his second missionary journey. St. Paul's first visit here is described in Acts xvi. 12-40, and it has a special interest as the story of the apostle's first preaching in a European town. The Jews had no synagogue, only a spot by the river-side in the suburbs, where a few met together on the sabbath. His first convert was Lydia of Thyatira, who was a seller of purple-dyed {190} goods; her house became the centre of the Philippian Church. The imprisonment of St. Paul and St. Silas in consequence of St. Paul's exorcising a heathen slave-girl who professed to be inspired, is one of the most dramatic incidents in Acts. When St. Paul was released he left the town, but returned there, in all probability, in A.D. 55, on his third journey while travelling to Corinth. In A.D. 56 he was there once more, and the last Easter before his imprisonment was spent with these beloved converts (Acts xx. 6).

The Christians of Philippi were pre-eminent in the affections of St. Paul. He calls them, like the Thessalonians, his "joy and crown" (iv. 1), and they alone of his children had the privilege of ministering to his personal necessities.

[Sidenote: Where and when written.]

It may be regarded as almost certain that St. Paul wrote this Epistle in Rome. He was a prisoner, as we see in Phil. i. 7, 13, 14, 17. He sends greeting from those of Caesar's household (iv. 22). The first and last chapters imply that he is in the midst of an active Church, and that he is the centre to which messengers come and from which they go. This accords with the apostle's treatment at Rome. One phrase, however, has been thought to suggest Caesarea rather than Rome. It is "the whole praetorium" (i. 13). This might mean the praetorium or palace of Herod Agrippa II. at Caesarea, but it is possible that it has quite a different meaning. It may either be the imperial guard or the supreme imperial court before which St. Paul had to be judged. The latter interpretation is that suggested by the great historian Mommsen, and seems to be the most satisfactory explanation.

The meaning of the phrase has an important bearing upon the date of the Epistle. If it was not written at Caesarea, it must have been written at Rome between A.D. 59 and A.D. 61. But the critics who are agreed that it was composed at Rome, are divided as to the place which it occupies among the Epistles which St. Paul wrote during his imprisonment. Some {191} place it first, because the vigorous style, and many of the phrases, suggest that it was written not very long after Romans. Others, with greater probability, place it last among the Epistles of the captivity. For even if it was written first among those Epistles, it was written more than three years after Romans. And the Epistle contains several indications of being written late in the captivity. If "praetorium" means the imperial guard, some time would have to elapse before such a large body of men could know much about St. Paul; and if it means the imperial court, the verse implies that he had already appeared before his judges. Phil. ii. 24 shows that he was expecting a speedy decision on his case. Epaphroditus, probably not the Colossian Epaphras who was with St. Paul at Rome (Col. iv. 12), had come as a delegate from the Philippians, bringing their alms to the apostle (ii. 25; iv. 18). After his arrival in Rome he was ill and homesick, and now he is returning to Philippi bearing this letter of thanks. This all seems to imply that Philippians was written a considerable time after the apostle's imprisonment began, and we can therefore reasonably place it after Colossians and Ephesians, and date it early in A.D. 61.

[Sidenote: Character and Contents.]

With the exception of 2 Corinthians, this is the most personal and intimate of St. Paul's writings. In both he lays bare his heart. But the tone of the two Epistles is absolutely different. In 2 Corinthians he writes as a man who has been bitterly injured; he asserts his claims to fickle believers whose ears have been charmed by his unscrupulous opponents. In Philippians we chiefly observe a note of frank and loving confidence; buffeted by the world, the apostle finds refreshment in the affection of his friends at Philippi.

After a salutation to all the "saints" at Philippi, including especially the episkopoi and deacons, the apostle speaks of the joy which he feels in praying for them, and begs of God that their love may abound, and that they may approve the things {192} that are excellent, being filled with the fruits of righteousness (i. 1-11).

Then St. Paul tells how his captivity has been a means of spreading the gospel in the praetorium and elsewhere. Even the malicious activity of his opponents has been a means of proclaiming Christ, and with true grandeur of soul the apostle rejoices in the fact. So far as he is concerned, death would be a more attractive prospect than life, for death would mean admission into the presence of Christ, but for the sake of the Philippians he is glad to live. With wonderful cheerfulness he says that he is glad if his blood is to be offered like a libation poured over the living sacrifice of the souls and bodies which the Philippians offer to God (ii. 17). Before he speaks of this libation of his blood he makes a tender appeal to his converts to imitate the lowliness of Jesus Christ. He puts into the language of theology the story of the incarnation which his friend St. Luke draws with an artist's pen in the first two chapters of his Gospel. He speaks to them of "the mind" of Christ Jesus, whose life on earth was self-sacrifice in detail. Christ had before the incarnation the "form" or essential attributes of God, but He did not set any store on His equality with God, as though it were a prize,[2] but stripped Himself in self-surrender, and took the "form" or nature of a bond-servant. He looked like men as they actually are, and if men recognized His outward "fashion," they would only have taken Him for a man. And then He made Himself obedient to God up to His very death, and that the death of the cross. This was followed by His exaltation, and worship is now paid to Him in His glorified humanity (ii. 1-11).

In ii. 19 St. Paul returns to personal matters concerning Timothy and Epaphroditus; then he seems on the point of concluding the Epistle (iii. 1). But he suddenly breaks into {193} an abrupt and passionate warning against the Judaizers. The passage almost looks as if it were a page from the Epistle to the Galatians. The Judaizers are called "dogs," and as their circumcision was no longer the sign of a covenant with God, the apostle calls it a mere outward mutilation of the flesh (iii. 2). It is unlikely that Jewish influences were potent at Philippi. The explanation of this passage appears to be that the apostle, before completing his letter, learnt of some new and successful plot of the Judaizers at Rome or elsewhere. Nervously dreading lest they should invade his beloved Philippian Church, he speaks with great severity of these conspirators. The conclusion of the chapter is apparently directed against the licence of certain Gentile converts. These seem to have been "enemies of the cross of Christ" in the looseness of their lives rather than in the corruptness of their creed. It is difficult in this case, as in that of the Judaizers, to know whether these errors already existed at Philippi or not. The passage concludes with an exhortation to steadfastness (iii. 2-iv. 1).

Two women, Euodia and Syntyche, are exhorted to be "of the same mind." A true yokefellow of the apostle, possibly Epaphroditus, and a certain Clement, possibly the Clement who was afterwards Bishop of Rome, are exhorted to try to bring about their reconciliation. All are exhorted to rejoice in the Lord, and are told that the peace of God, which passeth understanding, shall stand sentinel over their hearts and thoughts. Before returning again to personal matters and thanking the Philippians for their gifts, St. Paul urges them to follow whatsoever is true and lovely. His language here seems to consecrate all that was permanently valuable in the sayings of the Greek philosophers. It recalls to us the words of the ancient Church historian, Socrates: "The beautiful, wherever it may be, is the property of truth."



Salutation, thanksgiving, prayer (i. 1-11).

The position of affairs at Rome. His imprisonment has stimulated the preaching of the gospel; his own feelings are divided between the desire for death and a willingness to live for their sakes; an exhortation to boldness (i. 12-30).

An exhortation to imitate the humility of Christ, who took the form of man and was willing to die, and was after this abasement exalted above every created being (ii. 1-11).

An exhortation to obedience, quietness, purity, mission and commendation of Timothy and Epaphroditus; farewell (ii. 12-iii. 1).

Strong warning against Judaism, enforced by his own example; against claim to perfection, also enforced by his own example; against Antinomian licence as unworthy of "citizens of heaven", exhortation to steadfastness (iii. 2-iv. 1).

Advice to Euodia, Syntyche, and others; exhortation to think of all things true and lovely (iv. 2-9).

The apostle expresses his joy at the spirit shown by the offerings sent to him from Philippi. Doxology. Salutation (iv. 10-23).

[1] So E. Haupt, Die Gefangenschaftsbriefe, p. 3.

[2] The Greek is ordinarily translated as "a prize to be grasped," but it seems quite possible to translate the passage, "He considered not equality with God to involve a process of grasping."




[Sidenote: The Author.]

1 and 2 Timothy and Titus form the fourth and last group of St. Paul's Epistles, and are known as the Pastoral Epistles,[1] because they deal so largely with the duties and qualifications of the men entrusted with the pastoral care of the Church. St. Paul here teaches the teachers.

Their genuineness is more frequently denied than that of any other of St. Paul's Epistles, and this attack upon their genuineness has been mostly based upon the character of their teaching about the office-bearers of the Church. Attempts have sometimes been made to separate some fragments supposed to be genuine from the remaining portions. All such attempts have failed. These Epistles must either be rejected entirely or accepted entirely. Otherwise we become involved in a hopeless tangle of conjectures.

The external evidence is excellent. They are found in the Syriac and Old Latin versions, and in the Muratorian Fragment. They are all quoted by Irenaeus, and also by Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian. Their authenticity was therefore regarded as a certain fact in the latter part of the 2nd century, and early in the 4th century Eusebius was unaware that any doubts concerning them existed in the Church. Moreover, St. Polycarp, A.D. 110, quotes both 1 and 2 Timothy. The {196} combined evidence of these writers forms a very substantial argument. Against it we sometimes find urged the fact that the heretic Marcion rejected them. Such an objection borders on frivolity. Marcion held a definite doctrinal heresy, and rejected everything which he could not make to coincide with his own belief. The value which is set on the Old Testament (e.g. 2 Tim. iii. 16), the assertion of a real incarnation (e.g. 1 Tim. ii. 5), and the sustained opposition to a false spiritualism, which these Epistles exhibit, must have been intensely distasteful to Marcion. We have therefore no reason for believing that he would hesitate to reject them, while knowing them to be genuine, any more than he hesitated to reject all the Gospels except Luke.

The internal evidence is called in question for the following reasons.

1. Historical difficulties.—We cannot place the journey referred to in 1 Tim. i. 3 during the three years' stay at Ephesus mentioned in Acts. The visit to Miletus in 2 Tim. iv. 20 cannot have taken place on the journey to Jerusalem in Acts xx., because Trophimus was with the apostle when he reached that city (Acts xxi. 29). Again, in 2 Tim. iv. 20 Erastus "abode at Corinth." But he had not been to Corinth for a long time before the journey to Rome recorded in Acts. In Tit. i. 5 we see Titus left by St. Paul at Crete; he is to join the apostle in Nicopolis (iii. 12). But Acts allows no room for this, and the reference to Apollos (iii. 13) implies a later period than St. Paul's stay at Corinth (Acts xviii.).

Answer.—All three Epistles may quite well be later than the history related in Acts. There is no reason for denying that St. Paul was set free after his trial at Rome, and arrested again at a later date. Assuming that this liberation did take place, all historical difficulties vanish. There are several points in favour of this liberation. First, the attitude of the Roman government towards Christianity was fairly tolerant until Nero began his persecution in A.D. 64, and the state of the law would {197} have allowed St. Paul's acquittal. Secondly, it was believed in the early Church that St. Paul was set free. The Muratorian Fragment says that he went to Spain, and St. Clement of Rome, writing from Rome about A.D. 95, says that he went "to the boundary of the west," which seems to point to Spain. Thirdly, the chronology implied in the ancient list of the bishops of Rome will not allow us to put St. Paul's martyrdom earlier than A.D. 64. Fourthly, the apostle himself expected to be set free (Phil. ii. 24; Philem. 22). There is therefore no historical reason for denying that St. Paul was set free from the imprisonment in which Acts leaves him.

2. References to heresies.—It has been said that these Epistles contain references to heresies later than the apostolic age, such as the Gnosticism of the 2nd century. More especially, it is said that 1 Tim. vi. 20, which speaks of "oppositions of gnosis falsely so called," refers to a work by Marcion called the "Oppositions" (Antitheses), in which he tried to demonstrate that the Old Testament was antagonistic to the New.

Answer.—The heresies here rebuked are not so definitely described that we can determine their precise character. This fact is in favour of the idea that the heresies belong to the 1st century rather than to the 2nd. Stress has been laid upon statements which seem to imply Gnostic heresy, and heresy of a "Docetic" character, i.e. teaching a denial of the reality of our Lord's human nature. But there is certainly nothing which suggests that the error here rebuked was as developed as the heresy rebuked by St. Ignatius, or even that denounced by St. John. It is most unlikely that the word "oppositions" can refer to a book bearing that title. The passage 1 Tim. vi. 20 does not suggest this. And if Marcion is really quoted in 1 Tim., how could Polycarp have quoted 1 Tim., as he does, before Marcion's book was written? Something of a Gnostic tendency is betokened by the scorn of material life and the human body shown in 1 Tim. iv. 3, 8 and 2 Tim. ii. 18. But the error is mainly Jewish. The false {198} teachers professed to be "teachers of the Law" (1 Tim. i. 7), which was exactly the title claimed by the Jewish rabbis (see Luke v. 17). The general character of their teaching was "vain talking" (1 Tim. i. 6; cf. Tit. i. 10; iii. 9). It consists of "profane babblings" (1 Tim. vi. 20; 2 Tim. ii. 16). It is further characterized as "foolish questionings, and genealogies, and strifes, and fightings about the law . . . unprofitable and vain" (Tit. iii. 9). It is summed up in the phrases "old wives' fables" (1 Tim. iv. 7), "Jewish fables" (Tit. i. 14). All this shows that the error was not a definite Gnostic heresy with a fundamentally false view of God. It was something intrinsically ridiculous. Therefore the "endless genealogies" (1 Tim. i. 4) can hardly be Gnostic genealogies of the semi-divine beings who took part in the creation. They are Jewish tales about the heroes of the Old Testament. The error is, in fact, primitive, and does not belong to the 2nd century.

3. Church organization.—It is said that these Epistles lay down the rules for an organization of the Church which is later than the apostolic age, and resembles the Episcopal system, such as we find it in the 2nd century. Titus and Timothy act as delegates of the apostle, and as the highest officials of the ministry, and they appoint presbyters and deacons. We thus find a threefold ministry which derives its sacred authority through the apostolate. The apostle lays his hands upon his delegate (2 Tim. i. 6), and this delegate lays his hands upon others (1 Tim. v. 22).

Answer.—It is perfectly true that there is a threefold ministry mentioned in these Epistles. But there is no sufficient reason for denying that such a ministry is of apostolic origin. It seems quite certain that at Jerusalem the presbyters and deacons were under the authority of St. James, and after his death under that of Symeon. The same form of government can also be traced back in other places to apostolic times. Moreover, the organization which is mentioned in Acts is fundamentally the same as that in these Epistles. In Acts we {199} find the apostles first appointing deacons and then presbyters. All the additional evidence which has lately been discovered to support the genuineness of Acts therefore favours the genuineness of these Epistles. Finally, we must notice that the titles of the ministry in these Epistles do not correspond with the titles used in the 2nd century. The government is substantially "Episcopal," but the title "episkopos" was in the 2nd century only applied to the chief dignitary who ruled over the "presbyters." But here the title "episkopos" is applied to the presbyters themselves as the overseers of the congregation. We find the same thing in the letter of St. Clement, A.D. 95. St. Clement, although Bishop of Rome, still gives the title of "episkopos" to the presbyters. This inconvenient practice was given up soon after that date, for we find that St. Ignatius, about A.D. 110, applies the title "episkopos" only to the highest ministers of the Church. We conclude, therefore, that while the organization of the Church described in the Pastoral Epistles supports the belief that the threefold ministry, which we now call Episcopal organization, is of apostolic origin, it does not prove that these Epistles are forgeries. And it is natural that St. Paul, knowing that his death must before long come to pass, should devote a large measure of attention to questions of Church government and discipline. The history of the Church in the 2nd and 3rd centuries proves to us that the organization of the Church was almost as important as the inspiration of the Church.

4. Language.—This is an important difficulty. There are in these Epistles many words and phrases which do not occur in the other Epistles of St. Paul. We find different Greek words used for "Lord" and for the second "advent," and a fondness for the words "wholesome," "godliness," and "faithful saying." The new element is most prominent in 1 Tim. and Titus.

Answer.—Private letters to individuals and friends in reference to one particular subject are not likely to resemble public letters which were written in reference to other subjects. It {200} would therefore be unreasonable to expect that the style of the Pastoral Epistles should be cast in the same mould as that of the other Epistles of St. Paul. Nevertheless, the objection would have considerable weight, if St. Paul's aptitude for varying his vocabulary could not be shown. But it can be shown; for his other Epistles are marked by an astonishing variation in the Greek. Beneath this diversity there exists a unity. The Pastoral Epistles have many Pauline phrases,[2] many graphic touches, many forcible and original statements, and glow with that personal devotion to Christ combined with a practical capacity for guiding Christians which St. Paul possessed in so singular a degree. If the Pastoral Epistles are spurious, or if they are composite productions written by a forger who inserted some notes of St. Paul in his own effusions, it becomes almost impossible to account for the fact that 2 Tim. differs delicately both in language and subject from 1 Tim. and Titus. In view of this fact we can admire the sagacity of a recent opponent of their authenticity who deprecates "the possibility of extricating the Pauline from the traditional and editorial material"! [3]


[Sidenote: The Author.]

Reasons have already been given for rejecting the arguments which have been alleged against the Pauline authorship of this Epistle. We may add that it is unlikely that a forger would have inserted the word "mercy" (i. 2) in the usual Pauline greeting "grace and peace." The reference to Timothy's "youth" (iv. 12; cf. 2 Tim. ii. 22) has seemed strange to many. But although {201} St. Paul had been acquainted with Timothy for about twelve years, Timothy must have been greatly the junior of St. Paul. Even if Timothy was as old as thirty-five, the word "youth" would be quite natural from the pen of an old man writing to a pupil, whom he had known as a very young man, and whom he was now putting in authority over men old enough to be his own father. We can attribute this Epistle to St. Paul without hesitation.

[Sidenote: To whom written.]

Timothy was one of the apostle's own converts, his "child in faith." We learn from Acts xvi. 1 that he was the son of a Greek-speaking Gentile father and a Jewish mother. He had received a strictly religious Jewish training from his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois (2 Tim. i. 1-5; iii. 14, 15). He was converted by St. Paul on his first missionary journey, at Lystra or Derbe. On St. Paul's second visit to that district, Timothy was so well reported of that he was thought worthy of being associated with the apostle in his work. Before employing him as a colleague, St. Paul had him circumcised, that he might be able to work among Jews as well as Gentiles (Acts xvi. 3). Some Christian prophets pointed him out as destined for his sacred office (1 Tim. i. 18). He was ordained by the laying on of the hands of St. Paul himself and the presbyters of the Church (1 Tim. iv. 14; 2 Tim. i. 6). He was frequently associated with the apostle in travelling and in the writing of Epistles. His name occurs as sending a salutation in Rom. xvi. 21, and as the fellow-sender of six of the apostle's letters. He was with the apostle during his first imprisonment at Rome (see Phil., Col., and Philemon). From this Epistle we learn that after the apostle's release he was left in charge of the important Church at Ephesus. While he was in this position, the two Epistles which bear his name were written to him.

[Sidenote: Where and when written.]

It is impossible to ascertain the precise direction of St. Paul's journeys after his release, and it is wisest to refrain from mere conjecture. Before writing this letter he had been recently {202} at Ephesus and had been called away to Macedonia (i. 3). He intended to return before long, but had been unexpectedly delayed (iii. 14, 15). This delay rendered it necessary for him to send directions to Timothy. The precise date cannot be exactly fixed. If St. Paul's martyrdom was as early as A.D. 64, and his release as early as A.D. 61, we may reasonably put this letter in A.D. 63.

[Sidenote: Character and Contents.]

The letter is personal, but it is also official. It is intended to guide Timothy in his work of apostolic delegate. In speaking to the presbyters of Ephesus at Miletus (Acts xx. 29, 30), St. Paul had already expressed fears about the future of the Church, and these fears now seem to have been partly realized. Ephesus was a meeting-place of east and west, a place where religious speculations and religious divisions were likely to increase, and where wise supervision of the Christian Church was essential. The contents of the Epistle therefore mainly consist of warnings against Judaism and false knowledge, and directions as to the duties of various classes of Christians, and especially the clergy.


The danger of Jewish and Gnostic heresy (i.).

The order of common prayer (ii.).

The qualifications of episkopoi (translated "bishops" in the English versions) and deacons (iii.).

Condemnation of Gnostic asceticism and the duty of Timothy towards heresy (iv.).

Counsels as to the treatment of presbyters (translated "elders" in the English versions) and widows (v.).

Warnings against disobedience towards masters, vain disputations, covetousness, and a wrong use of wealth—concluding with a direct appeal to Timothy (vi.).



[Sidenote: The Author.]

This is exactly the kind of letter which we should expect to be written by a writer of strong individuality addressing a disciple entrusted with the duty of ruling a Church threatened by the same troubles as the Church which was under the supervision of Timothy. It is attributed to St. Paul by Irenaeus, and is amply supported by other early writers.

[Sidenote: To whom written.]

"To Titus, my true child after a common faith" (i. 4). Titus was converted by St. Paul (i. 4), and was an uncircumcised Gentile (Gal. ii. 3). He must have been converted at an early period in the apostle's career, for he was with Paul and Barnabas on their visit from Antioch to Jerusalem in A.D. 49. He was therefore present during the great crisis when the freedom of the Gentiles from the ceremonial part of the Jewish law was vindicated. It is suggested by Gal. ii. that Titus was personally known to the Galatians, and possibly he was himself a Galatian. Titus was prominent at another important crisis. When the Church at Corinth was involved in strife, Titus was sent thither. His efforts were attended with success, and he was able to report good news on returning to St. Paul in Macedonia (2 Cor. vii. 6, 7, 13-15). He carried the Second Epistle to the Corinthians to Corinth. We hear no more of him until the period when this Epistle was written. After St. Paul's release from his first imprisonment, Titus was with him in Crete, and was left by the apostle to direct the affairs of the Church in that island (Tit. i. 5). It is plain that the tact and wisdom which he had shown at Corinth had not failed him in the interval, and that St. Paul still regarded him as a worthy delegate and a true evangelist of the gospel of peace.

[Sidenote: Where and when written.]

The similarity to 1 Timothy makes it almost certain that Titus was written about the same time, and before 2 Timothy. {204} The apostle is expecting to winter at Nicopolis, probably the Nicopolis in Epirus. The letter was therefore possibly written from Greece. It seems from iii. 13 that Zenas, a former teacher of the Jewish law, and Apollos, had occasion to travel by Crete, and St. Paul takes the opportunity to send a letter with them to Titus.

[Sidenote: Character and Contents.]

The greeting at the beginning of the Epistle and the character of its general contents show that this letter is official as well as private. Possibly the gospel was first brought to Crete by those Jews or proselytes from Crete who saw the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts ii. 11.) Fully thirty years had passed since then, but the Church had not hitherto been sufficiently organized to be independent of the apostle. Now, however, the apostolic delegate will be able to ordain the presbyters required in every city. The manner in which the "episkopoi" are mentioned immediately afterwards (i. 5, 7) strongly favours the idea that the name "episkopos" is here used as a title of the presbyters, as in Acts xx. They form the order under the apostle's delegate. Useless speculations of a Jewish character had invaded the Church (i. 10-14; iii. 9). The teachers of these "fables" were influenced by love of "filthy lucre." St. Paul quotes the saying that the Cretans are "liars, evil beasts, idle gluttons," and attributes it to "one of themselves, a prophet of their own." The saying is by the poet Epimenides, c. B.C. 600. He was a native of Cnossus in Crete, who was regarded as a seer, and his reputation for second-sight is testified by Plato giving him the epithet "divine." St. Paul seems convinced that the Cretan character was as prone to sensuality as in the days of Epimenides, and it is immediately after alluding to their dangers that he utters the memorable words, "unto the pure all things are pure." The apostle's exhortation to "maintain good works" (iii. 8) is one of the verses which have been absurdly alleged to be out of harmony with {205} St. Paul's insistence upon the importance of justification by faith. There is a definite allusion to baptismal regeneration in iii. 5.


Titus to ordain elders; the requisite character of "episkopoi", Judaizing talkers to be checked (i.).

Duties of aged men and women; young women and men; servants; the grace of God and the hope inspired by it (ii.).

Duty towards rulers and all men; the kindness of God; foolish discussions to be avoided; how to deal with a heretic; personal notes (iii.).


[Sidenote: The Author.]

It is generally considered that the authenticity of this Epistle stands or falls with that of the First Epistle. But it bears its own peculiar marks of genuineness. One thoroughly Pauline feature is thanksgiving at the beginning, a feature which is found in eight of his other Epistles, but not in the two other Pastoral Epistles. A forger might have had the critical insight which would lead him to compose this thanksgiving. But it is highly improbable that a forger would have put twenty-three proper names into the Epistle without tamely copying names which occur elsewhere, or without betraying any wish to glorify some saint who became popular after the death of the apostle. Neither of these two suspicious tokens can be detected here. For instance, Demas, concerning whom nothing that is discreditable is narrated elsewhere, is here rebuked with a pathetic regret (iv. 10; cf. Col. iv. 14); while Linus, afterwards a famous bishop and martyr of Rome, is mentioned without any honourable distinction at all. Even if the Linus of this Epistle is not the bishop of that name {206} the argument still holds good. For a forger, if he inserted the name of any Linus, would have been almost certain to mention the Linus and no other.

[Sidenote: To whom written.]

"To Timothy, my beloved child" (i. 2).

[Sidenote: Where and when written.]

It was written from Rome, where St. Paul is again a prisoner, the reason of his imprisonment being the witness that he has borne to Christ (i. 8, 12, 17). His imprisonment had already lasted some time, for it was known at Ephesus. The apostle had apparently requested two of his friends, Phygellus and Hermogenes, to come to him at Rome, but they had declined. The Ephesian Onesiphorus had acted otherwise, and when in Rome had sought him out. St. Paul anticipates death. His case has already had a first hearing, when no witness appeared in his defence (iv. 16). He is now ready to be offered up. But he does not anticipate an immediate martyrdom, as he urges Timothy to come to Rome before winter. The date is therefore probably some weeks or months before St. Paul's martyrdom. The year is either A.D. 64 or very soon afterwards.

[Sidenote Character and Contents.]

This Epistle is the apostle's farewell pastoral charge. He looks forward to his fate with courage and confidence. He has fought a good fight, and is sure of the crown of righteousness which the Lord will give him. But he sees that a dark future is in store for the Church. Some professing Christians have already deserted him, others have perverted the faith. Among the latter are Hymenseus and Philetus, who assert that the resurrection is past already. It is probable that they were influenced by some Gnostic dislike of the human body, and taught that the only resurrection possible for a Christian was the spiritual resurrection of becoming acquainted with their own Gnostic doctrine. Such a heresy is described by Irenaeus. St. Paul warns Timothy that there are "grievous times" to come (iii. 1). Scripture will be a means of security against the mischief-makers. {207} The various exhortations given to Timothy are of great force and beauty; he is to endure hardship like a good soldier, and is charged before God to preach and rebuke with long-suffering. The solemnity of these words is equalled by the pungent sarcasm with which the writer alludes to the schismatics who "lead captive silly women" or will "heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears."

We may notice that ii. 11-13 seems to contain part of a Christian hymn, that iii. 8 contains a reference to a Jewish story not found in the Old Testament, and that i. 18 is perhaps a prayer for the dead. The Second Book of Maccabees xii. 44 shows that in the century before the Christian era the Jews were wont to pray for the departed.


Exhortation to energy, the failure of friends, the fidelity of Onesiphorus (i.).

Exhortation to endurance as Christ's soldier, profane discussions to be shunned; the error of Hymenseus and Philetus; varieties of character like varieties of vessels; the way to become a vessel of honour (ii.).

Coming corruption, the creeping mischief-makers; Timothy is reminded of St. Paul's manner of life and of the value of Scripture (iii.).

Exhortation to fidelity in ministerial work; the apostle's course drawing to an end, Timothy urged to come; personal notes (iv.).

[1] This title seems to have been first applied to them in 1810 by Wegscheider.

[2] Cf. "according to my gospel" (2 Tim. ii. 8; Rom. ii. 16); "the gospel of the glory" (1 Tim. i. 11; 2 Cor. iv. 4). The Greek phrase for "give occasion to" (1 Tim. v. 14) is found in 2 Cor. v. 12, and nowhere in the New Testament except in St. Paul.

[3] B. W. Bacon, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 140.




[Sidenote: The Author.]

The question of the authorship of this Epistle is one of the most fascinating problems raised by the criticism of the New Testament. It does not in the least involve any charge of forgery, such as is involved in a consideration of St. John's Gospel or of St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians. Nor does it involve the fact of an author absorbing the work of a previous writer, such as we find in the case of St. Luke. The work is one complete and original composition of great finish and perfection, and yet this perfect work contains hardly a hint as to its author. The title which is placed above it in our Bibles deserves serious consideration, as it represents an opinion which was held in many parts of Christendom in the 4th century, and in some parts of Christendom even in the 2nd century. But it by no means represents the universal judgment of the Church, and is contradicted by good evidence, both external and internal. A remarkable divergence of opinion on the subject existed between the Churches of the east and those of the west.

Alexandria appears to have been the first centre of the belief that this Epistle was written by St. Paul. We find that about A.D. 170, Pantaenus, the head of the catechetical school at Alexandria, attributed it to St. Paul. His successor Clement agrees with this, but states that it was written in Hebrew and translated by St. Luke into Greek—a statement which implies that scholars were conscious that the style of Hebrews is not {209} the style ordinarily used by St. Paul. In A.D. 240, Origen, the successor of Clement, defends the Pauline authorship—a defence which shows that the authorship was disputed. In A.D. 245 Origen had learnt to doubt the validity of his former defence, and states that the writer was a disciple of Paul, but "who wrote the Epistle God only knows." In A.D. 269 the famous heretic Paul of Samosata quoted Hebrews as the work of St. Paul in a letter read at the Synod of Antioch which deposed him from his bishopric. Early in the next century Eusebius quotes the Epistle as by St. Paul, but he shows the same perplexity as Clement of Alexandria, for he thinks that it was translated from the Hebrew, possibly by Clement of Rome. After the time of Eusebius the Greek Fathers all ascribe it to St. Paul. We can therefore sum up the evidence of the Greek Churches by saying that though it mostly favours one theory, it is not so cogent as to remove all our suspicions.

Moreover, the complete absence of references to this Epistle in the extant writings of Irenaeus[1] almost compels us to ask if the Greek Churches of Southern Gaul and Asia Minor regarded this Epistle as Pauline. Irenaeus might naturally omit to quote a short and comparatively unimportant Epistle, but his omission of a long Epistle, well adapted to his arguments, inclines us to place him in a rank opposite to his contemporary, Clement of Alexandria. A Greek writer of the 6th century actually says that Irenaeus, in a passage now lost, denied that St. Paul wrote the Epistle.[2]

The Latin Churches of the west seem to have been for three centuries under the conviction that this Epistle was not by St. Paul. It is quoted by Clement of Rome, A.D. 95, a fact which {210} alone is sufficient to prove its early date and its sacred character. But Clement makes no statement as to its authorship. Caius of Rome, A.D. 200, excludes it from the list of St. Paul's Epistles, and the same hesitation with regard to it existed in the great Latin-speaking Church of Carthage. St. Cyprian, A.D. 250, does not include Hebrews among St. Paul's Epistles. No Latin Father attributes it to St. Paul before Hilary of Poictiers in A.D. 368, and Hilary was in close contact with the East. At the end of the 4th century St. Jerome shows distinct hesitation in attributing it to St. Paul, and it was not commonly attributed to him in the west until the time of St. Augustine, who died in 432.

Internal evidence agrees with the external evidence in making it very difficult for us to believe that St. Paul wrote Hebrews.

(1) The Greek is more elegant than that of St. Paul's Epistles. The styles are widely different. That of St. Paul is abrupt and vehement like a mountain-torrent, that of Hebrews is calm and smooth like a river running through a meadow.

(2) The quotations are very unlike St. Paul's. They are all from the Greek version of the Old Testament, with the exception of that in x. 30, which occurs in the same form in Rom. xii. 19. It had probably taken this shape in popular use. The quotations are introduced by phrases such as "God saith," or "the Holy Spirit saith." But St. Paul often shows a knowledge of the Hebrew when he makes quotations, and he uses such phrases as "it is written," or "the Scripture saith," or "Moses saith."

(3) There is no salutation such as is usual in St. Paul's Epistles.

(4) In Hebrews the incarnate Son is called "Jesus," or "Christ," or "the Lord." In St. Paul's Epistles we find fuller titles employed, such as "our Lord Jesus Christ."

(5) The theological differences are important. The teaching of the author harmonizes with that of St. Paul, but throughout the Epistle we feel that the truths of Christianity are being expounded to us by one whose personal history is different {211} from that of St. Paul. The author starts from the fact of the perfection of Christ's sacrifice, and in his doctrine about the Law he looks at it from that fact. St. Paul, on the other hand, starts from the doctrine of justification by faith, and looks at the Law from the point of that doctrine. Again, the author takes a general view of faith as heroic belief in unseen facts; while St. Paul, though he sometimes does the same, prefers to use the word "faith" in the sense of devoted, personal, adhesion to Christ.

(6) In ii. 3, 4 the author seems to imply that he had not personally seen the Lord.

Many conjectures have been made as to the real author. Few of these conjectures deserve serious consideration. Luther suggested Apollos, and the suggestion has been accepted by many writers. In favour of it are: (1) he was a friend of St. Paul; (2) he was "mighty in the Scriptures," and Hebrews deals with the Old Testament in a masterly way; (3) he was an Alexandrian Jew, and Hebrews was plainly written by a Jew, and apparently by one acquainted with Philo and other Alexandrian authors.[3] Against this theory is the complete absence of traditional support, and the fact that Apollos was taught by Aquila and Priscilla, whereas the author of Hebrews implies that he was taught by a personal disciple of Christ. On the whole, St. Barnabas seems to have the best claim. Tertullian not only speaks of it as the work of Barnabas, but also shows by his words that the Church of North Africa regarded it as his work.[4] He is not, therefore, making a conjecture, but assuming a tradition. His evidence is the more valuable, because the Church of North Africa was important and was in close contact with Rome, where the Epistle was venerated at least as early as A.D. 95. In favour {212} of the tradition we can note: (1) St. Barnabas was an influential companion of St. Paul; (2) he was a Levite, and would be interested in Levitical worship; (3) he was a native of Cyprus, which was in close communication with Alexandria; (4) he had been in the regions to which the Epistle was probably addressed.

Against the theory that St. Barnabas was the author, it is said that the author makes surprising errors with regard to the Temple ritual, which St. Barnabas was not likely to do. The so-called "errors" are: (a) the high priest sacrificing daily (vii. 27; x. 11)—but the high priest was free to do this; (b) the pot of manna and Aaron's rod placed in the ark (ix. 4), though not so described in 1 Kings viii. 9—but in the tabernacle they were at least close to the ark (Exod. xvi. 34; Numb. xvii. 10); (c) the altar of incense is said to belong to the holiest place (ix. 4)—but it did belong to it in the sense of sanctifying the approach to it, though it was placed outside it: see 1 Kings vi. 22. No one can reasonably say that these statements are of such a nature as to prove that the Epistle was not written by a Levite.

[Sidenote: To whom written.]

The title says "To the Hebrews." The character of the Epistle suggests this. It was plainly written for Jewish Christians, and apparently for some particular community of them (v. 11, 12; vi. 9, 10; x. 32-34; xiii. 1, 7, 19, 23). Which community, it is difficult to say. The Jewish Christians of Rome have been suggested, and in support of this the reference to Italian Christians (xiii. 24) has been quoted. It is a strange fact that this theory about the destination of the Epistle is favoured by some critics who assign it to a late date. For if it was really written to Rome, the date must be early. It is almost inconceivable that the author should have said, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood," to the Christians of Rome after the persecution of A.D. 64-65. Some town in Syria or Palestine is more likely than Rome, and Antioch seems a probable destination for the Epistle. The community must have been {213} familiar with Greek, and at the same time must have been under strong temptations to relapse into Judaism. They had for the sake of Christ left the warm social life of Judaism. They felt isolated and depressed. The splendour of the temple worship and the zeal of Jewish patriotism were luring them back to their old religion. They felt that they had perhaps deserted a magnificent reality for a shadowy hope. Such circumstances fit with the theory that the community dwelt in Palestine or Syria, and the same theory is supported by the fact that these Christians had been converted long ago (v. 12), and had heard the apostles (ii. 3).

[Sidenote: Where and when written.]

Probably from Italy, as shown by xiii. 24. The date may be put about A.D. 66. A generation of Christians had passed away (xiii. 2). The doom of Jerusalem was approaching (x. 25; viii. 13; xiii. 13). The frequent reference to the Levitical worship, as exerting an attractive force, must imply that the temple was still standing. The Epistle must therefore be earlier than 70.

It is true that the references to the Levitical worship are sometimes more appropriate to the ancient tabernacle than to the temple, and this fact is urged by those who maintain that the temple was already destroyed when the Epistle was written. But this is no answer to the fact that the Jewish worship is throughout assumed to be in existence. The author is not opposing the propaganda of Jewish rabbis or the attractions of synagogues which were connected with the temple by tradition only. He is opposing a great living system with its priesthood and its ritual. And in order to criticize Judaism he deals with the tabernacle, concerning which the Old Testament gave definite directions. This was a more effective method than discussing the temple which superseded the tabernacle.

[Sidenote: Character and contents.]

Hebrews is marked by a complete unity of argument. Though the thread of the argument is sometimes dropped for the sake of practical exhortation, it is soon resumed and logically carried on.


Christ as the Son of God is a manifestation of God superior to all other manifestations. He is far above the prophets, and above the angels, who neither created the material world nor have the "world to come" subject unto them. He towers above Moses, who was only a servant and a stone in the house of God, for He is the Son, and built the house. He is above Joshua; for He has won a rest for the people of God, of which the rest of Canaan was a mere type. Neither under Joshua nor under David did the people of God reach the ideal sabbath rest which God has promised (i.-iv. 13).

Christ as High Priest is above the Aaronic priesthood, for He is "after the order of Melchizedek" (Ps. ex. 4) (iv. 14-v. 10). Then the writer, before giving the full interpretation of Christ's high priesthood, makes a digression to urge the need of greater spiritual insight on the part of his readers (v. 11-vi. 12). They can be sure of God's blessing if they have faith and patience (vi. 13-20). The unique position of Melchizedek is then expounded. In Gen. xiv. nothing is said of Melchizedek's descent or of his death. Thus he stands forth in contrast to the Levitical priests whose descent is described, and who die and are succeeded by others. He was also superior to those priests, because Levi, in the person of his father Abraham, paid tithes to Melchizedek. Since Melchizedek's priesthood is superior to that of the Levitical priests, much more is that of Christ, of whom Melchizedek, great as he was, is only a type. Then the author shows that the rise of a new priesthood must imply the birth of a new religious system. Christ "hath His priesthood unchangeable," but needs not to repeat His sacrifice (vii.).

Then the author shows that the new liturgy and the new sanctuary of the Christian Church are superior to the liturgy and the sanctuary of Judaism. Though Christ's blood was shed only once, He retains the character of Priest (viii. 3); He hath "somewhat to offer," viz. Himself in His sacred manhood in heaven. He thus acts as a Mediator of the new covenant {215} promised in the Old Testament (viii. 6-13). The tabernacle was only a temporary parable; Christ acts as High Priest in the holy of holies, the actual presence of God typified by the tabernacle; He has consecrated the new covenant between man and God by His own blood (ix.). The repetition of the Levitical sacrifices proves their impotence. But that of Christ is adequate. It is an offering of inherent value, being the offering of the will of Christ, instead of the offering of unconscious beasts. And we need no other atonement, for His unique offering has a perpetual value (x. 1-18).

The writer then proceeds to insist upon the appropriation and application of the truths which he has expounded. It is our privilege to have full confidence, and our duty to assemble for worship: apostasy is most serious (x. 19-39). The writer next describes the nature of faith, which is a faculty which makes the future as if it were present, and the unseen as if it were visible. It is illustrated by a magnificent roll-call of heroes from Abel to the Incarnation. These heroes, who saw both worlds, and realized how petty the material world is compared with the spiritual, had real insight (xi.). Emulate their example, enduring persecution, knowing that our Mount Zion is superior to Sinai, and our coming to church a reunion with angels and saints (xii.).

The Epistle closes with a practical exhortation concerning brotherly love, hospitality, prisoners, marriage, and contentment. The ministers who had formerly had rule over the readers are to be remembered. We are not to be unsettled by strange teachings. "We have an altar" of which the Jewish priests may not partake. Our sin offering, Jesus, is given to us as food. We must go to Him outside the camp of Judaism. After an injunction to obey the clergy and a request for prayers, the Epistle concludes. Just before the end it is stated that "our brother Timothy hath been set at liberty" (xiii.).

The whole Epistle is peculiarly dignified, eloquent, and {216} persuasive, and its elegant Greek and delicate Alexandrian philosophy make it a literary treasure.

We may conclude with some further remarks on the writer's doctrine of Christ's Person and of the Jewish Law.

Knowing that these Christians were in danger of drifting away from Christ, the writer calls their special attention to His Person, in order that they may carefully consider who He is before deciding to part from Him. The doctrine corresponds most exactly with that which we find in Colossians and in John. It is declared in the most positive manner that Christ is essentially divine. He reflects His Father's glory, is the expression of His essence, and the Sustainer of the universe (i. 3). He is the God whose throne is eternal, and the Lord who made the earth (i. 8, 10). Yet He became "a little lower than the angels" (ii. 9), and, though entirely sinless, He was so truly human as to become the pattern of obedience (x. 7), humility (v. 5), reverent piety (v. 7), and fidelity (iii. 2). By the discipline of suffering He was made perfect for His redeeming work (v. 8, 9). It is made evident that this process of perfection did not consist in the diminution of sin, but in the development of goodness. Nowhere do we find a more profound view of suffering and virtue, or a more pathetic delineation of the character of Jesus.

It has already been hinted that the author regards the Jewish Law differently from St. Paul. The latter had lived under the goad of a Pharisaic interpretation of the Law of Moses, which laid down so many regulations as to what ought to be done, and gave so little assistance towards doing it, that escape from such a system was like an escape from penal servitude. When he speaks of the Law, he regards it primarily as a system of stern moral requirements. But the author of Hebrews regards the Law as primarily a system of worship. He implies that it was in some sense a "good tidings" (iv. 2). He teaches that the Law was a "shadow" of those real "good things" which constitute the world of truth in heaven, while the Gospel is the {217} "image" or adequate representation of those holy realities. The Law is therefore a rough unsubstantial outline of truth, while the Gospel is exact and solid. Both writers regard the Law as divine in origin, and both regard it as insufficient and rudimentary (vii. 16; cf. Gal. iv. 3, 9). But St. Paul thinks of the Law as weak "through the flesh," unable to overcome the resistance which it encounters from man's lower instincts, while the author of Hebrews thinks of it as unable to cleanse and make perfect the human conscience.


The subject of the Epistle: CHRISTIANITY AS THE FINAL RELIGION. The contrast of the Old Revelation and the New in method, time, and messengers; the divine personality and incarnation of the Son (i. 1-4).

A. The superiority of the Son, the Mediator of the New Revelation, to the angels, and to the human founders of the Jewish polity: i. 5-iv. 13.

a. Scripture shows the Son to be above the angels (i. 5-14).

b. The danger of rejecting the Son's revelation (ii. 1-4).

c. The Son of Man through suffering fulfils the high destiny of mankind (ii. 5-18).

d. The dignity of Jesus is far above that of Moses, He is the Maker and Son, Moses represents the house in which he is a servant (iii. 1-6).

e. Faith is necessary if we would enter the promised land of rest (iii. 7-19).

f. Encouragement as well as warning can be based on the failure of the Israelites. Under Joshua they did not reach their rest. The promise of it remains for us (iv. 1-13).


B. The high-priesthood of Christ, superior to that of Aaron's line, universal and royal: iv. 14-vii. 28.

a. Transition to the doctrine of Christ's high priesthood (iv. 14-16).

b. The characteristics of a high priest, human sympathy and divine appointment, fulfilled in Christ (v. 1-10).

c. A digression to urge the readers to advance; the writer's hope for the Hebrews, God's blessing is assured (v. 11-vi. 20).

d. The characteristics of Christ, as perfect and universal High Priest, shadowed forth by Melchizedek (vii.).

C. The liturgy and sanctuary of Christ superior to those of Judaism: viii. i-x. 18.

a. Christ offers sacrifice in heaven (viii. 1-6).

b. Thus He maintains the New Covenant between God and man promised in the Old Testament (viii. 7-13).

c. The sanctuary and priests of the Old Covenant (ix. 1-10).

d. Fuller explanation of the atoning work of Christ under the New Covenant (ix. 11-28).

e. The inadequacy of the old sacrifices, the abiding efficacy of Christ's one sacrifice (x. 1-18).

D. The appropriation and application of the above truths: x. 19-xiii. 25.

a. The privilege of entering the holy place with confidence, the duty of public worship (x. 19-39).

b. The past triumphs of heroes of the faith (xi.).

c. Exhortation to energy, endurance, fidelity to our Mount Zion and its divine utterances (xii.).

d. Detailed instructions (xiii.).

[1] Eusebius, H. E. v. 26, says that Irenaeus "mentions the Epistle to the Hebrews and the so-called Wisdom of Solomon, comparing certain expressions from them." Eusebius does not say that Irenaeus attributed it to St. Paul. We can compare words in Heb. i. 1 with Wisd. vii. 22; Heb. i. 3 with Wisd. xvi. 21; Heb. xii. 17 with Wisd. xii. 10; Heb. xiii. 7 with Wisd. ii. 17.

[2] Stephen Gobar, in a passage preserved by Photius, Cod. 232.

[3] The word "effulgence" (Heb. i. 3) is a favourite word with Philo. The interpretation of "King of Salem" as "King of peace" (Heb. vii. 2) occurs in Philo, and Heb. xiii. 5 has a quotation from Josh. i. 5 exactly resembling in form a quotation in Philo, De conf. ling., 33.

[4] De Pudic, 20.




The New Testament contains seven letters known as "Catholic," viz. that of James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, and that of Jude. These letters were added to the Canon of the New Testament later than the rest of its contents. In ancient manuscripts, versions, and catalogues their position in the New Testament varies, and for a long time they were often placed between Acts and St. Paul's Epistles. 1 Peter and 1 John were the first to be universally received. About A.D. 300 all seven were known and received in the Greek Churches, but nearly as late as A.D. 350 the Syrian Church was unacquainted with any of them except James. After this the Syrian Church adopted 1 Peter and 1 John, and finally the whole seven. This fact with regard to the Syrian Church is of peculiar importance. It shows us that we must take care not to argue that an Epistle is probably a forgery because an important Christian community was unacquainted with it at a comparatively late date. For the evidence for the genuineness of 1 Peter and 1 John is even stronger than the evidence for the genuineness of James. Yet at a time when the best Greek critics were entirely satisfied as to the genuineness of 1 Peter and 1 John, the Syrians did not recognize them. The only reasonable explanation of this is the simplest explanation, namely, that some Epistles were translated at a later date than others. Among Syrian writers we find two distinct tendencies. Writers who were entirely at home with Greek literature, and in communion with the orthodox Greek Church, like St. Ephraim or St. John of Damascus, used the same Catholic {220} Epistles as the Christians of Alexandria or Jerusalem. On the other hand, Christians who were cut off by schism from the main body of Christendom continued for centuries to use exactly the same Canon of Scripture as that which had been employed by their ancestors before the schism. Thus Ebed Jesu, Metropolitan of Nisibis, and the last prelate of the Nestorian sect who wrote important works in Syriac, died in A.D. 1318. But we find that he only uses the three Catholic Epistles contained in the Peshitta Syriac version of the New Testament, probably completed soon after A.D. 400.

If we pass from the extreme east to the extreme west of ancient Christendom, we find ourselves confronted with similar but not identical facts. We find that a superior degree of authority was allowed to belong to 1 Peter and 1 John. There can be no doubt that in all the great centres of Christian life outside Syria these two Epistles were in the Canon by the year 200. The Muratorian Fragment, written in Italy about A.D. 180, mentions two Epistles of St. John and that of St. Jude. It contains no mention of 1 Peter, but there are grounds for believing that there was a reference to it in the lost portion which was devoted to Mark. It contains no mention of James, though that Epistle seems to be quoted in the Shepherd of Hermas, written at Rome about A.D. 140. It was long before James was universally regarded as part of the Canon. It is quoted as Scripture by Origen of Alexandria early in the 3rd century, but a hundred years later Eusebius says that it was disputed by a minority. It is accepted by Eusebius himself. The very private character of 2 and 3 John accounts for the slowness with which they won acceptance as part of the word of God, yet 2 John is backed by the high authority of Irenaeus, and both Epistles are obviously the work of the same author. The Second Epistle which bears the name of St. Peter is connected with peculiar difficulties, and possesses less evidence in its favour than any of the other Catholic Epistles.

We cannot do better than quote the admirable words in {221} which Dr. Sanday has sketched the adventures of such books. "An Epistle lodged in the archives of a great and cultured Church like the Church of Rome would be one thing, and an Epistle straying about among the smaller communities of Bithynia or Pontus would be another; while an Epistle written to an individual like the Gaius of 3 St. John would have worse chances still. There were busy, careless, neglectful, and unmethodical people in those days as well as now; and we can easily imagine one of these precious rolls found with glad surprise, covered with dust in some forgotten hiding-place, and brought out to the view of a generation which had learnt to be more careful of its treasures. But even then, once off the main roads, circulation was not rapid; an obscure provincial Church might take some time in making its voice heard, and the authorities at headquarters might receive the reported discovery with suspicion. They might, or they might not, as it happened." [1]

But by degrees the customs of the different Churches were levelled. Before the end of the 4th century all the Catholic Epistles were accepted as canonical in Europe, and in a large part of the Christian world which lay beyond Europe. This leads us to inquire why these Epistles bear the name of Catholic. The answer seems to be that the name Catholic or General was given to the more important of the seven, because they were addressed to the Church Universal, or to groups of Churches, and not to individuals or to single Churches. The words Catholic Epistles therefore signify Circular or Encyclical Letters. Origen gives the name of Catholic to 1 Peter, 1 John, and Jude. By the 4th century the name was applied to all the seven. There can be little doubt that 2 and 3 John are not Catholic in the sense of being Circular or Encyclical. But they were numbered with the others for the sake of convenience, being naturally associated with the first and more important letter by St. John.


The following table gives an idea of the gradual incorporation of the Catholic Epistles into the Canon. An * denotes a direct quotation or the expression of almost no doubt; a ? notes that the writer is aware of decided doubts, a () marks an uncertain reference.

1 2 J P P 1 2 3 a e e J J J J m t t o o o u e e e h h h d s r r n n n e

I. COUNCILS— Laodicea, A.D. 363 . . . . . . . * * * * * * * Rome, A.D. 382 . . . . . . . . . * * * * * * * Carthage, A.D. 397 . . . . . . . * * * * * * *

II. EASTERN LISTS— (a) Syria. Ephraim, A.D. 370 . . . . . * * * * * * * Chrysostom, A.D. 400 . . . . * * * Peshitta version, ? A.D. 410 * * * Junilius, A.D. 550 . . . . . ? * ? * ? ? ? John of Damascus, A.D. 750 * * * * * * * Ebed Jesu, A.D. 1300 . . . . * * * (b) Palestine. Eusebius, A.D. 330 . . . . . ? * ? * ? ? ? Cyril, A.D. 348 . . . . . . * * * * * * * (c) Alexandria. Clement, A.D. 190 . . . . . * * * * Origen, A.D. 220 . . . . . . * * ? * ? ? * Athanasius, A.D. 367 . . . . * * * * * * * (d) Asia Minor. Polycarp, A.D. 110 . . . . . * * Amphilochius, A.D. 380 . . . * * ? * ? ? ? Gregory Nazianzen, A.D. 380 * * * * * * *

III. WESTERN LISTS— (a) Italy. Muratorian, A.D. 180 . . . . * * * Hippolytus, A.D. 220 . . . . * ( ) * (b) Gaul. Irenaeus, A.D. 180 . . . . . * * * (c) Roman Africa. Tertullian, A.D. 200 . . . . * * *

[1] Inspiration, p. 368.




[Sidenote: The Author]

In the 4th century this Epistle was reckoned among the authentic documents of the apostolic period. It does not seem to have been universally known in the Church at an earlier period. It is not in the Muratorian Fragment. But it is plainly quoted by Irenaeus, though he does not mention the author's name. The same is true with regard to the Shepherd of Hermas, which was written at Rome about A.D. 140. Justin Martyr quotes the words "the devils shudder" (James ii. 19, Trypho, 49). Polycarp seems to quote James i. 27, and 1 Peter seems to show traces of its influence. The first writer who both quotes it and mentions the author is Origen.

It opens with the name of "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ." There can be no reasonable doubt that this is James "the Lord's brother." James the son of Zebedee was killed as early as A.D. 44, before which date it is unlikely that the Epistle was written. We have no reason to attribute the Epistle to the Apostle James "the Little." He does not seem to have been of sufficient prominence to write an authoritative letter "to the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion." But such an action would have been exceedingly natural on the part of a saint who was bishop of "the mother of Churches," Jerusalem itself. It will be convenient to postpone the consideration of such evidence as we possess for the foregoing conclusion until we have discussed the exact relation of St. James to our Lord.


Three important theories must be mentioned as offering a solution of the difficult problem as to this relationship—

(a) That James, Joses, Simon, and Jude, mentioned in the Gospels as the "brethren" of our Lord, were His first cousins on His mother's side.

(b) That they were the children of Joseph and Mary.

(c) That they were the children of Joseph by a former wife.

The theory of St. Jerome (a) may be perhaps discarded without any further comment than that St. Jerome apparently invented it, that he claimed no traditional sanction for it, he did not hold it consistently himself in his later writings, and it is very difficult to reconcile it with Scripture. The theory of Helvidius (b), which called forth St. Jerome's attempted refutation, answers some verbal requirements of the Gospel narrative, and has found some skilful modern advocates. But with the possible exception of Tertullian, no Christian seems to have held it before Helvidius, and the theory that Mary had other children besides Jesus gave a profound shock to Christian sentiment. No argument can be brought against (c), the theory defended, though not originated, by St. Epiphanius, that the brethren of our Lord were children of St. Joseph by a former wife. It is in keeping with the strong tradition which maintained the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin; it helps to explain the attitude of unbelief recorded in the Gospels of Christ's brethren, and at the same time requires no distortion of the literalness of the passages in which they are mentioned. There is hardly sufficient evidence to show that first cousins were ever called "brethren." But it would have been quite natural for those who called St. Joseph "the father of Jesus" to call St. Joseph's sons "the brothers of Jesus." And again, the supposition that the Blessed Virgin had no other son, seems strongly supported by the fact that at the crucifixion our Lord commended her to His beloved disciple, and not to one of St. Joseph's family.


This theory of St. Epiphanius is much older than the 4th century. It is sometimes urged against it that Origen derived it from the Apocryphal Gospels of the 2nd century, and that its popularity in the Church was owing to Origen's influence. But though the Apocryphal Gospels often contained fictions, we cannot argue that everything in them is fictitious. The tradition agrees with the words of Scripture, and gains support from some fragments of Hegesippus, a cultured Palestinian Christian, born about A.D. 100. He states directly that Symeon, the second bishop of Jerusalem, was the cousin of our Lord, because son of Clopas who was the brother of Joseph. He also calls James "the brother of the Lord," and in another passage speaks of Jude as "called brother" of the Lord. He therefore plainly distinguishes the cousins from the so-called "brethren." We then get the following genealogy:—

Jacob + + + Joseph == Mary Clopas (or Alphaeus) + + + + James JESUS + Joses James Joses Symeon + Jude (the Little) + Simon + Sisters

We conclude, therefore, that St. James was the son of St. Joseph.

The writer of the Epistle frequently colours his sentences with words from the Old Testament, and assumes a knowledge of it among his readers. He makes no allusion to the Gentiles. He writes in a tone of authority and without any self-advertisement. He briefly uses for illustration certain natural phenomena which would be familiar to the people of Palestine, such as allusions to "the early and latter rain" (v. 7), the effect on vegetation of the burning wind (i. 11), the existence of salt or bitter springs (iii. 11), the cultivation {226} of figs and olives (iii. 12), and the neighbourhood of the sea (i. 6; iii. 4). From such a cursory view of the character of this Epistle, it would seem reasonable to admit that it was written by a Palestinian Jewish Christian for the edification of Christians of the same race and locality.

We get the same impression when we study what is said by the writer about the readers. He speaks as though they had been under a law of bondage, but are now under a law of liberty (i. 25; ii. 12). They are in touch with men who are unbelievers, who blaspheme Christ and persecute Christians (ii. 6, 7). The believers are mostly poor (ii. 5); the few rich who are Christians are in danger of falling away through covetousness and pride (iv. 3-6, 13-16). The rich appear as oppressors, who luxuriously "nourish their hearts in a day of slaughter," and had even "killed the righteous" (v. 5, 6). The Church is ruled by "elders" (v. 14) like the Jewish synagogues, and the Christian "synagogue" is occasionally frequented by rich strangers (ii. 2). All this is well suited to the conditions of Christian life in Palestine. And it is difficult to find any locality equally appropriate. Even as late as the first part of the 2nd century rich Gentiles were reluctant to persecute Christians, and to describe them as blaspheming the name of Christ at any time within or near the apostolic age would be almost impossible. They regarded Christianity with good-natured contempt, not with blasphemous hostility. We have only to read Acts to see that among the Gentiles it was the poor and ignorant rather than the rich who began the persecution of the Christians. On the other hand, if we turn to the Jews, we find that the rich were the leaders of persecution. It was the wealthy Sadducee party in union with the influential Pharisees which harried the Church. The Gospels and Acts give repeated evidence on this point, and the evidence of the Jewish historian Josephus supplies the keystone of that evidence.

Against the Palestinian origin of the Epistle it is urged that {227} the Greek is too correct and rhetorical. The style is vivacious and forcible. It contains many rather unusual Greek words, including six which are neither in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament nor in the rest of the New Testament, a long list of words which are found in the Septuagint and not in the New Testament, and seven rare classical or late Greek words. The whole question of the style of the Epistle requires the most delicate handling. But the style is distinctly unfavourable to the theory that the Epistle was written at a late date in a centre of Gentile Christianity. The Greek is neither the flowing Greek of a Greek, nor the rough provincial Greek which St. Paul spoke and wrote. It is slow and careful, with short sentences linked by repetitions. One epithet is piled effectively on another (e.g. iii. 15, 17), and abstract statements are avoided. Galilee was studded with Greek towns, and in Jerusalem Greek was well known. The Epistle might well have been written by a Jew of Palestine who had made a good use of his opportunities. And the introduction of some rare words in the midst of a simple moral exhortation is by no means a proof of complete mastery over Greek. It points, not to a mastery over the language, but to a painstaking familiarity with it.

These facts seem compatible with the few details which we know about St. James. Their full significance can only be appreciated when we know the difficulties which have beset the commentators who assign to the Epistle a date outside his lifetime.

Before considering the question of the date more minutely, we may collect together some points of interest connected with St. James.

St. James, like the other "brethren" of our Lord, watched the development of our Lord's career, but was unconvinced of the truth of His mission. After the Resurrection, our Lord, St. Paul tells us, "was seen of James." Perhaps this was the turning-point of his life, he, like St. Thomas, "saw and {228} believed." The Gospel according to the Hebrews, one of the oldest of the Apocryphal Gospels, says that our Lord, after His Resurrection, "went to James and appeared to him—for James had sworn that he would not eat bread from that hour in which he drank the cup of the Lord, until he saw Him rising from the dead;—and again after a little while. 'Bring hither, saith the Lord, a table and bread.'" . . . "He brought bread, and blessed and brake it, and gave it to James the Just, and said unto him, 'My brother, eat thy bread, for the Son of man hath risen from the dead.'" There are other versions of the story which make the vow to be taken after the death of Christ. In spite of some absurdities in this Apocryphal Gospel, it is possible that the legend is true, and that the sublime death of the Redeemer began to effect the repentance of His brother. However this may be, before Pentecost, A.D. 29, we find him joined to the Christian community at Jerusalem, where he afterwards attained a foremost position. In Gal. i. we find that St. Paul visited St. James and St. Peter at Jerusalem. In Acts xii. 17 St. Peter, on escaping from prison in A.D. 44, desires that news of his escape should be taken to St. James. In Gal. ii. St. Paul speaks of "James and Cephas and John" as pillars of the Church at Jerusalem. From Acts xv. we find that at this time, A.D. 49, St. James acted as president of the Council which determined how far the Gentile Christians need conform to the customs of the Jews. It is remarkable that the speech of St. James in Acts xv. and the circular despatched from the Council show several coincidences of style with the Epistle. If these coincidences are due to forgery, the forger has certainly used consummate self-restraint and skill.

Again, when St. Paul paid his last visit to Jerusalem, in A.D. 56, and the Jews accused him of advocating the abandonment of the Law of Moses and "the customs," it is St. James and his presbyters who advise him to go up to the Temple and purify himself with four Nazirites, and so reassure the "myriads" of Christian Jews who were zealous for the Law. {229} Once more we cannot help observing how well this anxiety of St. James agrees with the very cautious tone of the Epistle with regard to distinctively Christian doctrine.

The end of St. James is recorded by Hegesippus and by Josephus. Hegesippus represents him living as a strict Nazirite, always frequenting the Temple, with knees as hard as a camel's because of his perpetual prayers.[1] He tells us that St. James was thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple, stoned, and clubbed to death at the order of the scribes and Pharisees for asserting that Jesus was on the right hand of God. From Josephus we learn that his martyrdom took place when a vacancy in the procuratorship caused by the death of Festus (in A.D. 62) gave the Sadducees the opportunity which they desired. He was dragged before the Sanhedrim, condemned and stoned. Josephus also gives us to understand that the more moderate Jews were not in sympathy with such a thoroughly unconstitutional proceeding, and that Agrippa deprived Ananus, the high priest, of his office for invading the rights of the civil power.

[Sidenote: To whom written.]

"The twelve tribes of the Dispersion." We might suppose that the writer had in his mind all the Jews who were dispersed throughout the world, but came to Jerusalem to offer sacrifice when they were able, and who were all bound by the religious obligation to pay the yearly tribute to the temple. There had been several dispersions in the history of the chosen people, to Assyria under Shalmaneser, to Babylon and Egypt in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, and to Rome under Pompeius. But ch. ii. 1 shows that the Epistle was written to men who acknowledged Jesus as Lord. It is therefore natural to think that it was written only to men who were both Christians and of Jewish origin. But there is another interpretation of the phrase "the twelve tribes." Some think that it is merely a symbolical name for the Christian Church composed both of Jews and Gentiles, and {230} forming the new and spiritual Israel. Strong arguments have been brought forward in favour of each of these views, but the former seems to be the sounder. The argument that the Jews at this period could not have been called "twelve" tribes when only two had returned from the captivity, is disproved by the fact that the phrase is unquestionably used in this meaning in Acts xxvi. 7. We must frankly admit that St. Paul speaks of the Gentile Christians as forming part of the new Israel of God, but he never alludes to them as part of twelve tribes. In Rev. vii. the twelve tribes still mean Christian Jews in contrast with the "great multitude" of redeemed Gentiles. Justin Martyr speaks of "your twelve tribes" in addressing Trypho[2] the Jew, and several instances are to be found in early Christian literature where the words are used in this literal sense.

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