Friday, July 10, 2020

The Roman Catholic Church On Limbo

        The Roman Catholic Church teaches that a person must be baptized in order to attain salvation. One question of debate amongst Catholic bishops and theologians during the Middle Ages was the fate of unbaptized babies. Limbo was a development put forward to answer this question, and is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as follows:

        "Limbo, in Roman Catholic theology, the border place between heaven and hell where dwell those souls who, though not condemned to punishment, are deprived of the joy of eternal existence with God in heaven. The word is of Teutonic origin, meaning “border” or “anything joined on.”

        While Rome never pronounced the idea an infallible dogma, it was approved and taught by the vast majority in positions of leadership. The Baltimore Catechism says the following:

        "Limbo: The place where unbaptized infants go.” (The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism (No. 2), 1991 edition, p. 248., Imprimatur issued by Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York)

        Limbo is no longer taught by the Roman Catholic Church due to the influence of religious ecumenicalism. This concept was faded out as popes such as Pope Benedict XVI cast doubt on its veracity. The Encyclopedia Britannica provides details concerning the history of limbo:

        "The Roman Catholic Church in the 13th and 15th centuries made several authoritative declarations on the subject of limbo, stating that the souls of those who die in original sin only (i.e., unbaptized infants) descend into hell but are given lighter punishments than those souls guilty of actual sin. The damnation of infants and also the comparative lightness of their punishment thus became articles of faith, but the details of the place such souls occupy in hell or the nature of their actual punishment remained undetermined. From the Council of Trent (1545–63) onward, there were considerable differences of opinion as to the extent of the infant souls’ deprivation, with some theologians maintaining that the infants in limbo are affected with some degree of sadness because of a felt privation and other theologians holding that the infants enjoy every kind of natural felicity, as regards their souls now and their bodies after the resurrection."

        It is worth considering for a moment the dreadful implications of this concept. All are separated from God because of original sin. By logical deduction, the aborted and stillborns would be excluded from the kingdom of heaven because they had no opportunity to receive baptism. Unbaptized babies could not even receive burial in Roman Catholic cemeteries and were given no religious rites. Former Catholic priest Peter de Rosa details a number of the technicalities which came about as a result of belief in limbo:

        "Small children were once warned of what to do if they came across a dying baby and no priest was present. They had to pour water over the little one's head while saying the baptismal words. If words and pouring were not simultaneous, the poor wee thing would go not to heaven, only to Limbo. Doctors and nurses attending women in childbirth were told to baptise a baby in the womb if it was likely to die before birth, using a syringe. A devout Catholic couple told me of their terror at the thought of their baby being run down by a car on the way to church for baptism. They'd never see him again in this life or the next. Limbo was always a problem in the developing world when most babies died unbaptised. Rome simply said they could not be saved. The situation worsened when geneticists found that perhaps three quarters of embryos are aborted without the woman knowing it. This meant, according to the Vatican, that most humans have to be snatched out of the drain by their guardian angels and transported to Limbo."

        Jesus Christ would no doubt express derision at the burdens placed on the backs of people who follow the Roman Catholic hierarchy (Matthew 23:4-5). He implicitly affirmed that the kingdom of God does belong to children (Matthew 18:3; 19:14-15). Consider also the mourning of King David when the Lord took away his newborn child as discipline for acts of adultery and murder (2 Samuel 12:22-23) The text of 2 Samuel affirms that both the baby and David went to the same place at the moment of physical death. He did go to heaven (Hebrews 11:32-33).

        Since Rome no longer teaches the concept of limbo, that means priests and bishops have upheld a misguided notion for 1,500 years. How then can we trust them? Moreover, it is interesting to note that the Magisterium has never ruled decisively on this topic. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has the following to say regarding babies and the afterlife:

        "…allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism…” (CCC # 1261)

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Examining Indulgences In Light Of Scripture

        "The Church invites all its children to think over and weigh up in their minds as well as they can how the use of indulgences benefits their lives and all Christian society.... Supported by these truths, holy Mother Church again recommends the practice of indulgences to the faithful. It has been very dear to Christian people for many centuries as well as in our own day. Experience proves this." (Indulgentarium Doctrina, 9, 11)

        "An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints. An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin. Indulgences may be applied to the living or the dead." (CCC # 1471)

        Reconciliation with God takes place through the atonement of Jesus Christ alone. The remission of any and all punishments for sin cannot occur as a result of any good works done on our part. Our confidence in God having provided a way to restore our relationship with Him comes not from indulgences but solely through His redemptive work. It makes no sense to say that the merits of Mary and the saints are applied to Christians when Scripture describes them as already having been fully reconciled to God through the work of Christ:

        "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-2)

        "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation." (Romans 5:8-11)

        We cannot receive remission of temporal punishments of sin before God "under certain prescribed conditions" because Christ Himself has turned away the wrath of God on the cross:

        "whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins." (Romans 3:25)

       The idea of a relationship where punishments have yet to be dealt out does not match how Scripture represents our relationship with Christ:

        "Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." (Hebrews 2:17)

        There can be no expiation for sins done on our part because Jesus Christ Himself saves us to the uttermost:

        "...he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25)

        The idea of indulgences is rendered superfluous as the author of Hebrews describes the work of Christ as making perfect forever those who have been sanctified:

        "For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified." (Hebrews 10:14)

        One commentator says the following regarding the forcefulness of the above quoted text:

        "...The word [perfected] itself (Gr teleioo) involves completion, the bringing of something to its end. Second, the use of the Greek perfect tense suggests that the perfection has been accomplished and its effects are continuing. Third, the modifier, for ever, expresses the security of the believer." (King James Version Bible Commentary, p. 1698)

A Dilemma For Mormons: Is There Salvation After Death Or Not?

        The Book of Mormon says that there are no chances for salvation after death:

        "Therefore, if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and epain, and fanguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever. And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment." (Mosiah 2:38-39)

        The Doctrine and Covenants, on the other hand, affirms the idea of postmortem salvation:

        "And after this another angel shall sound, which is the second trump; and then cometh the redemption of those who are Christ’s at his coming; who have received their part in that prison which is prepared for them, that they might receive the gospel, and be judged according to men in the flesh." (section 88:99)

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

A Dilemma For Mormons: Is The Nature Of God Changeable Or Unchangeable?

        The Book of Mormon contains passages describing God as having an unchangeable nature:

        "For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity." (Moroni 8:18)

        "Now, the decrees of God are unalterable; therefore, the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved." (Alma 41:8)

        "For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?" (Mormon 9:9)

        Official Mormon doctrine, in contrast, affirms that God is increasing in knowledge. Consider this excerpt from Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, volume 6:

        "The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is coequal with God himself. I know that my testimony is true; hence, when I talk to these mourners, what have they lost? Their relatives and friends are only separated from their bodies for a short season: their spirits which existed with God have left the tabernacle of clay only for a little moment, as it were; and they now exist in a place where they converse together the same as we do on the earth....There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal with our Father in heaven."

        What we have here, in plain English, is an example of theological inconsistency in Mormon revelation. Moreover, if God is able to increase in knowledge, then it follows that He can make mistakes and thus His commandments are liable to error. The Mormon conception of god is not a god in any meaningful sense of the term.

Monday, July 6, 2020

A Dilemma For Mormons: Is The Trinity One God In Three Persons Or Three Separate Gods?

        The Book of Mormon contains passages describing the Trinity as one God:

         "Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil." (Alma 11:44)

         "And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen." (2 Nephi 31:21)

         Mormon theology, in contrast, teaches that the three members of the Trinity are three separate gods:

         "Latter-day Saints believe in God the Father; his Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost (A of F 1). These three Gods form the Godhead, which holds the keys of power over the universe. Each member of the Godhead is an independent personage, separate and distinct from the other two, the three being in perfect unity and harmony with each other (AF, chap. 2)." (https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Godhead)

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Forensic Nature Of Justification Before God

"In the LXX, dikaioun is a forensic term. Yet it does not have a predominate negative connotation ("to condemn") as in the Greek, but is constantly used in the postive sense of "to pronounce righteous," "to justify," "to vindicate." The forensic element is even stronger in the LXX than in the Masoretic text."

Gottlob Schrenk, The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, cited by James R. White, The Roman Catholic Controversy, p. 255

Thursday, July 2, 2020

A Refutation Of The Roman Catholic Dogma Of Papal Infallibility

  • Defining Papal Infallibility:
          -The Church of Rome teaches that the Pope cannot pronounce doctrinal error when making official declarations from his chair in matters pertinent to faith and morals ("ex-cathedra"). In other words, Roman Catholicism maintains that the head Roman bishop cannot error when speaking in his fullest capacity, and not as a mere private theologian. Also, it is believed that the entire body of legitimate Roman Catholic bishops, who constitute the teaching office commonly known as the "Magisterium," cannot error when they unanimously agree on a doctrine formally defined by the their leader. In short, this is what knowledgeable Roman Catholics mean when they speak of their church hierarchy as being infallible.
  • Roman Catholic Scholars Frank K. Flinn And J. Gordon Melton Say That Many In The Church Of Rome Stood In Opposition To The Notion Of Papal Infallibility In 1870:
          -"In protest, 55 council members left Rome the day before the final vote. Amid widespread disagreement and protest over the council, those now known as old Catholics separated from communion with Rome." (Encyclopedia of Catholicism, p. 621)
  • Papal Infallibility Is A False Doctrine Of Roman Catholicism Because History Has Shown Us That Popes Can Officially Teach Heresy:
          -If the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility is historical, then how could the Sixth Ecumenical Council officially anathematize Pope Honorius I (A.D. 625-638) for enforcing the heresy of Monotheletism (Christ had no human will) on the entire Christian church (his heretical proclamation began with, "We confess one will of our Lord Jesus Christ...”)?
          -"In late 357 Liberius went to Sirmium (modern Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia). Supposedly dejected, he agreed to sign certain unorthodox formulas that served to emasculate the Nicene Creed (the Creed had implicitly disavowed Arianism). Liberius also agreed to sever relations with Athanasius and submitted to the authority of the emperor." (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Liberius)
          -"Also known as Zozimus, he succeeded Innocent I, and was followed by Boniface I. Although his reign was brief, it was turbulent and left a powerful impact on the papacy. Zosimus is best known for his role in the Pelagian controversy. He at first pronounced the Pelagian teacher Caelestius to be orthodox and later declared him and Pelagius both to be heretical." (https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Pope_Zosimus)
  • Roman Catholic Tradition Cannot Simply Be Deemed Infallible Because It Continually Evolves:
          -Though Catholics do not want to hear this, it is a proven fact of history that the Church of Rome has placed into effect changeable, and even contradictory, church traditions. Examples would include, but are not limited to, Pope Gelasius denying the validity of the Mary's bodily assumption and upholding the notion that no one can be saved outside the Roman Catholic Church. In modern times, however, Rome has affirmed the exact opposite of the previously listed church traditions. In fact, Rome has referred to Protestants as "Separated Brethren." Recently decreed dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church would include the immaculate conception of Mary (1854) and the assumption of Mary (1950).
  • There Inevitably Exists Circular Reasoning In The Operational Processes Of The Roman Catholic Hierarchy:
          -How can a Roman Catholic know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Church of Rome is infallible, and that it is the only true church which was originally established by Jesus Christ Himself? How can one come to the conclusion that Rome's interpretation of Scripture is always correct? From the Catholic perspective, people must submit themselves to the authority claims of their church by resorting to the Catholic hierarchy's interpretations of Scripture and seeking its approval. In other words, the Church of Rome argues its validity by appealing to its own claims to having been sanctioned by God to govern Christianity. Thus, the pope and Magisterium wields the gift of infallibility through the power of the Holy Spirit "because they said so."

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Paracas Skulls Are Neither Aliens Nor Nephilim

We’ve received a lot of questions about the Paracas skulls in Peru, which look like human skulls, only deformed. However, they are claimed to have DNA unlike any living creature on earth, let alone humans.

We know that there were humans in Peru at the time of the Paracas skulls. Maybe these people were unusually tall, and their skulls were unusually large, but there is also proof that some genetic diseases cause unusual skull size. Even among people living today, there are huge variations in human stature (from 4 1/2 feet tall pygmies in Africa to 7+ feet tall basketball players). And skulls can be intentionally deformed, and it is well known that some Mexican and South American cultures did this by placing heavy weights on a child’s soft skull. In other cultures children's skulls were tightly wrapped in bandages to create this appearance. Such practices were often done as a status symbol of sorts. So if we find what look like the distorted skulls of possibly diseased and/or purposefully deformed humans, the logical conclusion is not that “we must have found aliens!”

And this is aside from the unlikelihood of life on other planets and the improbability of making the leap from life to human-like consciousness. Even if life evolved on other planets, travelling to earth would be problematic because it would be impossible to travel the distances involved within normal lifespans.

When we examine the content of the claims, and who is making them, we find lots of reasons to be skeptical of the hype about the skulls. The announcement was not made in a scientific journal, but via the media—the same media that promotes mermaids, Bigfoot, and other sensational claims. Brien Foerster, one of the men who made the announcement, the assistant director of a private museum with no relevant credentials, runs ‘paranormal’ tours in Peru. The geneticist who did the testing wants to be anonymous, at least for now, so his expertise cannot be used to bolster the claim until he is willing to make it public.

Christians should be cautious about buying into such sensational claims. And there is reason to be skeptical of the claim that the DNA is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. First of all, why would aliens have DNA? If life evolved elsewhere, what are the chances its information code would look anything like DNA, or produce something as human-like as the skulls?

These DNA claims are similar to the ‘Atacama child’, which we covered in our review of the Sirius documentary. In reality, DNA analysis of the Atacama child revealed that it was human, not alien. Some Christians are also keen to invoke the skulls as pre-Flood nephilim relics.

Christians should be cautious about buying into such sensational claims, especially when the conclusions are anti-biblical in nature.

https://creation.com/paracas-skulls

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Jesus Christ On The Deuterocanonical Books

        "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.’ (Luke 11:51)

        "so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar." (Matthew 23:35)

        In rebuking the religious leaders of His day for moral hypocrisy, Jesus Christ alluded to the Hebrew canon in its entirety. The first instance of innocent blood shed took place when Cain killed Abel (Genesis 4:1-16). Zechariah, also a righteous man, was killed by the Jews in 2 Chronicles, which is placed last in order of books comprising the Hebrew canon. His blood cried out to God as it was shed in a temple (2 Chronicles 24:22). The Encyclopedia Britannica expounds on the nature of the Tanakh:

        "The Torah contains five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Neviʾim comprise eight books divided into the Former Prophets, containing the four historical works Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, and the Latter Prophets, the oracular discourses of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve (Minor—i.e., smaller) Prophets—Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The Twelve were all formerly written on a single scroll and thus reckoned as one book. The Ketuvim consist of religious poetry and wisdom literature—Psalms, Proverbs, and Job, a collection known as the Five Megillot (Five Scrolls; i.e., Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther, which have been grouped together according to the annual cycle of their public reading in the synagogue)—and the books of Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah, and Chronicles. The number of books in the Hebrew canon is thus 24...English Bibles list 39 books for the Old Testament because of the practice of bisecting Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles and of counting Ezra, Nehemiah, and the 12 Minor Prophets as separate books."

        In addition, it should be noted that Christ, in referring to the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, omits the martyrs spoken of in the Roman Catholic Apocrypha. This seems to show us that He did not ascribe to them books the same status as that which is found in the Old Testament canon. Following is an excerpt addressing Matthew's use of "ben Berechiah:"

        "In rabbinical haggadah different characters from Scripture who are linked by a similarity of name or of other characteristics are often said to be the same person." "Adopted as one of their methods that of calling different personages by one and the same name if they found them akin in any feature of their characters or activities or if they found a similarity between any of their actions." This practice can be found in the Haggadic Midrashim, Babylonian Talmud, and back to the Jerusalem Talmud, Halakic Midrashim, and to the Mishnah. You can even see the practice in non rabbinical works like pseudo-Philo. Or in the second book of Esdras. Older still, you can see the practice in the tile prefix to Psalm 34. Ashish king of the Philistines (1 Sam. 21:10-22:1) is referenced as Abimelech the Philistine king (Gen. 20-21, 26). This might also explain why Jesus says "Abiathar" instead of "Ahimelech" in Mark 2:26. The Targum on Lamentations 2:20 also talks about killing Zechariah ben Iddo in the sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. "ben Iddo" is coming from Zechariah 1:1. But the details follow the traditions for Zechariah ben Jehoiada that I referenced earlier. So this Targum shows the conflation of Zechariah ben Berechiah with Zechariah ben Jehoiada in terms of name usage, just like Jesus did. So even after all of this, if you don't want this to be a reference to the scope of the canon, you have two more problems. The last prophet murdered before Jesus was John the Baptist. If you ignore and bypass John the Baptist, the last chronologically from the canon would be Uriah ben Shemaiah (Jeremiah 26:20-23)." (http://goyforjesus.blogspot.com/2015/02/zechariah-son-of-barachiah-some-textual.html)

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Debunking Catholic Apologist Steve Ray On John 3:16 And Justification By Faith Alone

  • Discussion:
           -This article serves as interaction with a few claims made by Steve Ray on John 3:16 as it relates to Sola Fide. Following are some excerpts from the author alongside with a critique:

           "The present tense, “that whosoever believeth in him,” or in other words, “that whosoever is believing in Him” sheds a different light on the entire verse. One would expect, according to Protestant tradition, the word “believe” to be aorist, showing that it is a “one-point-in-time” event. I used to say, “I believed in Christ on such and such a date, so I know I am saved.” It could be asked why Jesus switched to the present tense in a verse full of aorists. The answer is that Jesus makes it utterly clear what he is really trying to say; that this belief is an acting, continual belief, and not just a past act of faith."

           The Apostle John's usage of the continuous tense does not refute the doctrine of justification by faith alone or even John 3:16 as a supporting text for that doctrine. The language employed simply indicates a person who ceases to have faith will not enter the kingdom of heaven. The doctrine of justification by faith alone is not a denial of faith being ongoing. Biblical faith involves trust in God.

           "...consider whether the word translated “believe” means a mere mental assent. The word in biblical times carried with it the concept of obedience and reliance. Kittel [Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the NewTestament Eerdmans, 1968] states, “pisteuo means ‘to trust’ (also ‘to obey’).” Vines [W. E. Vines, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984)] says, “[R]eliance upon, not mere credence.” This is confirmed further by John the Baptist’s statement in John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not (apeitheo) the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” The word “apeitheo” is understood by all good translators and commentators to mean obedience. The opposite (antonym) of believe is disobey."

           Consider the purpose and creation of the bronze serpent in the Old Testament:

           "And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived." (Numbers 21:6-9, emphasis added)

           Jesus Christ Himself is the New Testament parallel to the bronze serpent:

           "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:14-18, emphasis added)

           According to Numbers 21:6-9, the unfaithful Israelites were dying from getting bitten by poisonous snakes. As a result, the Jewish people needed an antidote to ensure their survival after envenomation by the serpents. They were God's curse to punish His chosen people for sin and rebellion. In response to the people's plea for clemency, God instructed the Israelites to simply look at the bronze serpent, which was created by Moses. Those who placed their trust in the Lord by looking at it miraculously got rescued from physical death. We can certainly infer from this historical event the spiritually bankrupt nature of man. 

           Everybody has been spiritually poisoned by sin. This Old Testament opportunity to get healed from death is a typological example of Jesus Christ's power to save us from spiritual death. Those who turn to Jesus Christ by trusting in His redemptive work are saved from eternal condemnation. Sinners recover from their spiritual illness by getting cured by the Great Physician, Jesus Christ. The Jews were not saved by good works, but by simple faith in His salvific declarations. The atonement of Christ is applied to all who come to Him by faith through the gospel.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Agape And Phileo

[John] 21:15 - This passage (vers. 15-17) illustrates the force of two Greek words for 'to love,' phileo and agapao. The former signifies the love of friendship, and is more intimate and intense. It is here translated 'I am attached to,' and in ch. 16.27 'have affection for.' Agapao, more often used in the New Testament, is more general, and signifies love as the settled disposition of a person rather than as an emotion. It is used for God's love to man (except in Titus 3.4, where a compound word is used which embodies the word phileo) and for the love of men to God. Both words are used for the love of the Father for the Son, phileo once only, John 5.20, and agapao in John 3.35, &c.: and for the love of Christ for his own, phileo in John 11.3 and agapao in John 11.5 and elsewhere. Phileo is used in John 16.27, of the love of the Father for the disciples, and of the love of the disciples for Christ.

J.N. Darby's Translation footnote on John 21:15

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Perfected Forever By One Offering

[Hebrews] 10:14 - Having perfectly completed the work, he could sit down, and abide so, having done all; it is in contrast with the priests. They stood daily; he is set down 'for a continuance.' Connecting 'in perpetuity' with sacrifice spoils the whole force of the passage.

[Hebrews] 10:14 - Not 'being,' nor 'having been,' 'sanctified', but the objects of this operation, those about whom God was doing this. As to date, 'we have been sanctified,' ver. 10.

J.N. Darby's Translation footnotes on Hebrews 10:14

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Apostle Paul's Desire That Israel Be Saved

[Romans] 10:1 - Some authorities have 'for Israel,' but 'for them' is the more correct reading, and, occupied as the apostle is with his subject, is far more beautiful. 'For salvation' is perhaps a little obscure; but what he says is, what would satisfy his heart was that; and his prayers tended that way, not to their judgment, evil as they were, and rejecters of Christ. But the judgment was not yet revealed.

J.N. Darby's Translation footnote on Romans 10:1

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Apostle Paul's Willingness To Suffer On Behalf Of Israel

[Romans] 9:3 - I apprehend, in the apostle's mind the phrase 'for my brethren' is connected with both 'pain in my heart' and 'a curse from Christ;' he parenthetically states how far his heart had gone for Israel, and then continues the phrase. This want of strict continuation of grammatical structure is very common with the apostle from the ardour of his style, and only adds force to what he says. He had loved them as much as Moses (Ex. 32:32). His pain was continuous: but the wish, 'to be a curse,' was like that of Moses, a moment's earnest appeal, as beside himself.

J.N. Darby's Translation footnote on Romans 9:3

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Reading Hebrews As A Homily

“. . . Hebrews is a sermon rooted in actual life. It is addressed to a local gathering of men and women who discovered that they could be penetrated by adverse circumstances over which they exercised no control. It throbs with an awareness of the privilege and the cost of discipleship. It is a sensitive pastoral response to the sagging faith of older and tired individuals who were in danger of relinquishing their Christian commitment. It seeks to strengthen them in the face of a new crisis so that they may stand firm in their faith. It warns them of the judgment of God they would incur if they were to waver in their commitment. Exhortations to covenant fidelity and perseverance are grounded in a fresh understanding of the significance of Jesus and his sacrifice.”

Lane, p. xlvi. See also Ellingworth, pp. 78-80, cited by Dr. Thomas Constable

Mormon Prophets Exposed As A Sham

        "As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed to be led by living prophets—inspired men called to speak for the Lord, as did Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Nephi, Mormon, and other prophets of the scriptures. We sustain the President of the Church as prophet, seer, and revelator—the only person on the earth who receives revelation to guide the entire Church. We also sustain the counselors in the First Presidency and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators....Our greatest safety lies in strictly following the word of the Lord given through His prophets, particularly the current President of the Church. The Lord warns that those who ignore the words of the living prophets will fall (see Doctrine and Covenants 1:14–16). He promises great blessings to those who follow the President of the Church." (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/prophets?lang=eng)

        The New Testament, in contrast, tells us that Jesus Christ Himself is the final and complete revelation of God:

        "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they." (Hebrews 1:1-4)

        It follows, then, that no man on earth can claim to have received a direct revelation from God. The claims of Joseph Smith and his successors have been rendered hollow.

        The prophets of the Old Testament were given partial revelation, whereas Christ is the ultimate revelation of God. Following is an excerpt from A.W. Pink's exposition on Hebrews:

        "Not once or twice, but many times, did God speak. The Greek for "at sundry times" literally means "by many parts," which necessarily implies, some at one time, some at another. From Abraham to Malachi was a period of fifteen hundred years, and during that time God spake frequently: to some a few words, to others many. The apostle was here paving the way for making manifest the superiority of Christianity. The Divine revelation vouchsafed under the Mosaic economy was but fragmentary. The Jew desired to set Moses against Christ ( John 9:28). The apostle acknowledges that God had spoken to Israel. But how? Had He communicated to them the fullness of His mind? Nay. The Old Testament revelation was but the refracted rays, not the light unbroken and complete. As illustrations of this we may refer to the gradual making known of the Divine character through His different titles, or to the prophesies concerning the coming Messiah. It was "here a little and there a little."

        God's plan of redemption has been made fully known through Christ. The writers of the New Testament expound greatly on the nature of His atonement.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Is The Aaronic Priesthood Of Mormonism Under A Curse From God?

        "The two men testified that they knelt before the angel who then “laid his hands upon us” and said, “Upon you my fellow servants in the name of Messiah I confer the priesthood of Aaron.” Though they now had authority to baptize each other by water, the angel declared that this priesthood did not authorize them to give the gift of the Holy Ghost. The angel assured them the “power of laying on of hands, for the gift of the Holy Ghost” would come “in due time.” He identified himself as John, “the same that is called John the Baptist in the new Testament,” and said he acted “under the direction of Peter, James, and John, who held the keys of the priesthood of Melchisedeck.” Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery stated that this experience occurred on May 15, 1829. When the vision closed, they went to the nearby Susquehanna River and baptized each other." (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/restoration-of-the-aaronic-priesthood?lang=eng)

        The Old Testament records the role of priest belonging exclusively to members of the Tribe of Levi (Numbers 18:1-7; Leviticus 6:19-23; Nehemiah 7:61-65). The majority of Mormons, along with Joseph Smith, have asserted that they are descendants of the Tribe of Ephraim. It would follow that most Mormon priests in the "Aaronic" role are under the wrath of God because they have assumed a position that does not belong to them but to the Levites (Numbers 16:1-14; 1 Kings 13:33-34). The House of Ephraim has no rightful claim to the priesthood.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Love One Another, As Christ Has Loved Us

"When I came to Troas ... a door was opened unto me of the Lord. The connection of this verse is with verse 2 Co 2:4: "that ye might know the love which I have." Further evidence of this love is Paul's behavior while engaged in a very fruitful ministry in Troas: I had no rest in my spirit. Paul's concern for the evangelization of the lost was overridden by his concern for the Corinthian assembly, and that was saying something (cf. I Cor 9:16)! It is not love for the lost nor love for the world which distinguishes the believer. It is love for one another (Jn 13:35). But taking leave of them I went ... into Macedonia. This was in hopes of meeting Titus on the way. On Titus' report to Paul about the condition of things in Corinth, see 2 Co 7:5-6."

The King James Version Bible Commentary, 2 Corinthians 2:12-13, p. 1508

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Letter Written On Our Hearts

"Ye are our epistle. Paul's converts at Corinth were living testimonials to the genuineness of his ministry. Our hearts. Paul employs the plural in agreement with the use o the editorial "we" throughout this passage. Known and read to all men. to any who would "take up and read" Paul's ministry was authenticated (cf. 1 Cor. 15:9-10). This epistle is distinguished in two ways. First, it is not written with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It was supernaturally composed. Second, it was written not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tablets of the heart. The contrast is with the law of Moses. The force of the comparison is that Moses' law is external. the law of Spirit is internal."

The King James Version Bible Commentary, 2 Corinthians 3:2-3, p. 1509

Monday, June 15, 2020

Commentary On 2 Timothy 4:13

"The cloak. This was a long heavy cape with a hole in the middle to slip over one's head. It hung down to the knees. It was now needed in this cold damp dungeon. The books or scrolls were made from papyrus and the parchments were much better quality made from sheep or goat skins. These parchments may well have been copies of the Old Testament Scriptures. To the very end Paul kept his mind sharp and his heart full by reading. What an example to this young preacher and us today."

The King James Version Bible Commentary, 2 Timothy 4:13, p. 1658

Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Roman Catholic Church On Premillennialism

        "As far as the millennium goes, we tend to agree with Augustine and, derivatively, with the amillennialists. The Catholic position has thus historically been “amillennial” (as has been the majority Christian position in general), though Catholics do not typically use this term. The Church has rejected the premillennial position, sometimes called “millenarianism” (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church 676). In the 1940s the Holy Office judged that premillennialism “cannot safely be taught,” though the Church has not dogmatically defined this issue." (https://www.catholic.com/tract/the-rapture)

        It should be noted that most of the earliest Christian writers did subscribe to a premillennial eschatology. The church historian Philip Schaff, who was not a premillennialist himself, said the following regarding the prevalence of this belief in the church at the beginning of the post-apostolic age:

        "The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm, or millenarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment. It was indeed not the doctrine of the church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius." (History of the Christian Church, 2:614.)

        The amillennial position arose through the influence of Alexandria's allegorical method of interpretation and Augustine. Consider also this excerpt from a resource at Bible Study Tools:

        "Jerome was opposed to a literal, earthly kingdom: “The saints will in no wise have an earthly kingdom, but only a celestial one; thus must cease the fable of one thousand years.”20 Even so, Jerome admitted the premillennial view was held by many: “The evidence in favor of the general perpetuation of the doctrine is strengthened by the concessions of those who were among the first and most bitter opposers. Thus e.g. Jerome (Com. on Jes., 19:10), says: ‘that he durst not condemn the (Millennial) doctrine, because many ecclesiastical persons and martyrs affirm the same.’

        The premillenial position seems to make the best sense of Old Testament passages mentioning the Kingdom of God on earth prior to the creation of a new heavens and earth (Isaiah 2:2-4; 9:6-7; 11:1-9). The professor Roger E. Olson provides interesting comments:

        "While in seminary I encountered the argument that premillennialism undermines social ethics–concern for this world. People alleged that it is inherently otherworldy. That never made sense to me. If I envision a Kingdom of God on earth, ruled over by Jesus Christ himself, in which poverty, sickness, injustice, violence, etc., will be abolished, how can I be comfortable with those things now? A vision of the earthly millennium (incomplete as it may be) propels me to protest against those things now that stand in stark contrast to that."

        Eschatology is the study of last things. No matter what eschatological theory that one embraces, there are a number of doctrines which are essential. Jesus Christ will return to this earth for a second time to judge the living and the dead. There will be a final resurrection in which believers will enter into paradise and unbelievers into eternal condemnation. Sin will be forever erased. The kingdom of God will be brought to its fulfillment.

        So how does all this fit into the quoted excerpt from Catholic Answers? According to the logic of the "Holy Office," the teaching of some of the earliest church fathers "cannot be safely taught." Yet, apologists for the Church of Rome chide critics for not following the allegedly earliest traditions of the church. Here we have an instance of they themselves rejecting the teaching of primitive Christian writers. This sounds like an internal logical contradiction in the approach to verify Roman Catholic claims by history which is taken by Catholic apologists.

        The truth of the matter is that defenders of the Roman Catholic Church pick and choose which material best accommodates their theology. It goes without saying that doctrinal error is present in the writings of the early church fathers, which is why we do not put them on a pedestal as do Catholics. Moreover, it is telling how the Roman Catholic Church ratified dogmas such as the Immaculate Conception (1854 A.D.) and Assumption of Mary (1950 A.D.) that are based on apocryphal sources.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Worship In The Spirit Of God

[Philippians] 3:3 - T.R. reads 'God in spirit.' The reading was in question as early as Ambrose and Augustine. Augustine reads both. Ambrose, till the Benedictine edition, was given as reading Theo(i), 'serving God the Spirit:' but they give Theou, 'serving the Spirit of God.' The diplomatic evidence is in favour of Theou, 'who worship by the Spirit of God:' but I do not feel assured of its correctness. {aleph} has Theou; but after all {aleph} is only an Alexandrian witness of the completest kind. But it is anything but a correct manuscript. In Revelation it is very incorrect indeed. D and P (in Tisch. M.S.I.) read Theo-(i), and so Am Syrr.

J.N. Darby's Translation footnote on Philippians 3:3

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Holy And Pure

[Hebrews] 7:26 - There are two Greek words used for 'holy' in the New Testament -- hagios and hosios (hosios is used in this passage). The word most commonly used is hagios (corresponding to the Hebrew word kadosh). This, when applied to God, designates him as holy, knowing good and evil perfectly, and absolutely willing good and no evil. When applied to men, it designates them as separated, set apart to God from evil and from common use. The corresponding verb is commonly translated 'to sanctify;' and the word when used as a substantive is the ordinary word for 'saints.' The word hosios, on the other hand, conveys the thought of pious, that which is not profane. It speaks of God in mercy and grace, and of Christ, in whom all gracious qualities are concentrated, as well as perfect piety. It corresponds to the Hebrew chesed, of which the plural (chasadim) is the word translated 'mercies' or 'sure mercies' in the Old Testament. When applied to men, it is in general the sum of qualities which suit and form the divine character in man, as opposed to the human will. It refers to the exercise of gracious suitable affections in the relationships in which we are to God, and (e.g.) to parents. Hence, as suitable affections to God practically constitute holiness, the word is used in this sense for holy. The two Hebrew words are used side by side in Ps. 89.18,19, 'The Holy One (kadosh) of Israel is our king. ... Then thou spakest in vision to thy Holy One (Chasid).' The beginning of the Psalm speaks of the mercies or gracious ways (chasadim) of the Lord. (See, for hosios, Acts 2.27; 13.34, 35; 1 Tim. 2.8; Tit. 1.8; Rev. 15.4; 16.5.)

J.N. Darby's Translation footnote on Hebrews 7:26

Monday, June 8, 2020

Answering Trent Horn On Justification By Faith Alone

  • Discussion:
          -This article serves as a rebuttal to the claims of Trent Horn at Catholic Answers in regards to the question of whether Jesus Christ taught justification by faith alone. Following are a few excerpts from the author alongside with a critique:

          "Protestants usually claim that Jesus means our words are indicative of the content of our hearts, and so it is our hearts (and the faith they contain) that will be judged rather than our words or actions. But in Revelation 2:23, Jesus says, “I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.” Jesus does not render a judgment based solely on what our hearts deserve but also on what our works deserve."

          Good works are an integral part of the Christian life. However, they are not the cause but the result of having been justified before God. The heavenly rewards which He bestows upon us are dependent on our good works. The author seems to conflate the terms salvation and reward.

          "But this parable doesn’t teach the sufficiency of faith for justification; it teaches the necessity of repentance...When Jesus explains this parable, he does not say the tax collector was justified rather than the Pharisee because the former did not rely on works for his justification. Instead, the Pharisee was not justified because he was guilty of the sin of pride, whereas the tax collector was humble and recognized his need to repent. Jesus even explains why the tax collector rather than the Pharisee was justified: “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14)—indicating it is the tax collector’s humble, repentant attitude that is the distinguishing factor."

          Why cannot the parable of the Rich Man and Tax Collector address both faith as being the instrument of justification and the necessity of repentance from sin? If faith is not sufficient for justification, then it would not make sense to say that the humble tax collector went home justified before God. Moreover, it is fairly obvious that the rich man trusted in his good works to get right with God (Luke 18:9; 11-12).

          "In fact, in the next chapter an actual tax collector, Zacchaeus, repents of his wrongdoings and seeks forgiveness from Jesus. It is only after Zacchaeus declares he will pay back everyone he defrauded that Jesus tells him, “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9)."

          The desire of Zacchaeus to make restitution to the people that he previously stole from serves as evidence of him having truly repented of his sins. Good works are a consequence or product of a saving faith.

          "Finally, MacArthur cites John 5:24, because Jesus said, “He who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” But just four verses later Jesus says that, at the final judgment, “All who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.”

          The Expositor's Greek Testament has this commentary on John 5:24:

          "John 5:24. ὁ τὸν λόγον μου ἀκούων; it was through His word Jesus conveyed life to the impotent man, because that brought Him into spiritual connection with the man. And it is through His claims, His teaching, His offers, He brings Himself into connection with all. It is a general truth not confined to the impotent man. But to hear is not enough: καὶ πιστεύων τῷ πέμψαντί με, belief on Him that sent Jesus must accompany hearing. Not simply belief on Jesus but on God. The word of Jesus must be recognised as a Divine message, a word with power to fulfill it. In this case, by the very hearing and believing, ἔχει ζωὴν αἰώνιον. As the impotent man had, in his believing, physical life, so whoever believes in Christ’s word as God’s message receives the life of God into his spirit. Faith has also a negative result; εἰς κρίσιν οὐκ ἔρχεται [cf. οὐκ ἐθελόντων ὑμῶν ἐλθεῖν εἰς κρίσιν, quoted from Demosthenes by Wetstein. Herodotus also uses the expression]. Literally this means “he does not come to trial”; but has it not the fuller meaning “come under condemnation”? Meyer says “yes”: Godet says “no”. Meyer is right. This clause is the direct negative of the former: to come to judgment is to come under condemnation, cf. John 3:19, αὕτη δὲ ἐστιν ἡ κρίσις, etc. ἀλλὰ μεταβέβηκεν ἐκ τοῦ θανάτου εἰς τὴν ζωήν. The perfect shows (1) that the previous ἔχει is an actual present, and does not merely mean “has in prospect” or “has a right to”; and (2) that the result of the transition continues. Had the impotent man not believed and obeyed, he would have remained in his living death, in now a self-chosen and self-fixed condemnation: but accepting the life that was in Christ’s command, he passed there and then from death to life."

          John 5:28-29 contrasts the lives of people who placed their trust in Jesus Christ and those who rejected Him as Lord and Savior. Those who fit into the later category will of course stand eternally condemned at the Last Judgement.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Criticizing The Roman Catholic Ecumenical Agenda

        The Roman Catholic Church has compromised the gospel in its teaching that Muslims and all others who claim to "serve the Creator" can be saved in their current state of unbelief. The Catechism of the Catholic Church unabashedly declares:

        "The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day." (CCC # 841)

        "The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even his inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God." (Nostra Aetate 3)

        Moreover, the influential nun and missionary Mother Teresa clearly reflected a similar mentality toward people of other world religions:

        “When I asked her whether she converted, she answered, ‘Yes, I convert. I convert you to be a better Hindu, or a better Muslim, or a better Protestant, or a better Catholic, or a better Parsee, or a better Sikh, or a better Buddhist. And after you have found God, it is for you to do what God wants you to do.’ She wanted people to come closer to God (however they understood Him)…” (Mother Teresa Center, "What Was Mother Teresa's Views On Conversion?")

        Jesus Christ, in contrast, emphatically taught that He is the only way to heaven (John 14:6). He is the way, truth, and the life. Nobody has access to the Father except through Him. Christ also used a door as an analogy in describing Himself as the way to salvation (John 10:9). There is only one way to enter a door. Matters do not become any simpler than this. The Roman Catholic Church is absolutely wrong in its teaching.

        We are told from Scripture that the pure gospel will be offensive to the world (Luke 12:51). Both Islam and Judaism reject the deity of Christ. They reject Him as the resurrected Messiah. People cannot truly worship the Father when they reject the Son (1 John 2:22-23). Thus, no religion outside of Christianity has the power to lead one to God. Those who choose to reject the gospel are not saved at all (John 3:18).

        If other religions in this world are valid before God, then Christianity must be false and Jesus Christ Himself a liar. The gospel becomes a redundancy. If, however, only those who have placed their trust in Christ as Lord and Savior are saved from their sins and eternal condemnation, then it is the biggest act of hatred possible to leave outsiders deceived in their errors. That is contrary to the Spirit of Love. So much for the infallibility of the Second Vatican Council in ratifying this dogma under the rule of Pope Paul VI.

        This ecumenical mentality even more so shines through the current Pope Francis, who maintains that God has redeemed us all, including atheists. This movement for unity is undoubtedly a great offense against God and the gospel. Contrast the mentality of the Roman Catholic Church described in this article with what it has historically taught:

         "It firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart “into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” [Matt. 25:41], unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church." (Council of Florence, Pope Eugene IV, “Cantate Domino")

Friday, June 5, 2020

Notes On The Authorship Of Romans

Romans, Epistle to the. 1. The date of this Epistle is fixed with more absolute certainty and within narrower limits, than that of any other of St. Paul's Epistles. The following considerations determine the time of writing. First. Certain names in the salutations point to Corinth, at the place from which the letter was sent. (1.) Phoebe, a deaconess [a servant or helper of sorts] of Cenchreae, one of the port towns of Corinth, is commended to the Romans (xvi. 1, 2) (2.) Gaius, in whose house St. Paul was lodged at the time (xvi. 23), is probably the person mentioned as one of the chief members of the Corinthian Church in 1 Cor. i. 14, though the name was very common. (3.) Erastus, here designated "the treasurer of the city" (xvi. 23, E. V. "chamberlain") is elsewhere mentioned in connection with Corinth (2 Tim. iv. 20; see also Acts xix. 22). Secondly. Having thus determined the place of writing to be Corinth, we have no hesitation in fixing upon the visit recorded in Acts xx. 3, during the winter and spring following the Apostle's long residence it Ephesus, as the occasion on which the Epistle was written. For St. Paul, when he wrote the letter, was on the point of carrying the contributions of Macedonia and Achaia to Jerusalem (xv. 25-27), and a comparison with Acts xx. 22, xxiv. 17, and also 1 Cor. xvi. 4; 2 Cor. viii. 1, 2, ix. 1 if., shows that he was so engaged at this period of his life. The Epistle then was written from Corinth during St. Paul's third missionary journey, on the occasion of the second of the two visits recorded in the Acts. On this occasion he remained three months in Greece (Acts xx. 3). It was in the winter or early spring of the year that the Epistle to the Romans was written. According to the most probable system of chronology, this would be the year a.d. 58. 2. The Epistle to the Romans is thus placed in chronological connection with the Epistle to the Galatians and Corinthians, which appear to have been written within the twelve months preceding. They present a remarkable resemblance to each other in style and matter — a much greater resemblance than can be traced to any other of St. Paul's Epistles. 3. The occasion which prompted this Epistle, and the circumstances attending its writing, were as follows. St. Paul had long purposed visiting Rome, and still retained this purpose, wishing also to extend his journey to Spain (i. 9-13, xv. 22-29). For the time, however, he was prevented from carrying out his design, as he was bound for Jerusalem with the alms of the Gentile Christians, and meanwhile he addressed this letter to the Romans, to supply the lack of his personal teaching. Phoebe, a deaconess of the neighborhood; Church of Cenchreae, was on the point of starting for Rome (xvi. 1, 2), and probably conveyed the letter. The body of the Epistle was written at the Apostle's dictation by Tertius (xvi. 22); but perhaps we may infer from the abruptness of the final doxology, that it was added by the Apostle himself. 4. The Origin of the Roman Church is involved in obscurity. If it had been founded by St. Peter, according to a later tradition, the absence of any allusion to him both in this Epistle and in the letters written by St. Paul from Rome would admit of no explanation. It is equally clear that no other Apostle was the Founder. The statement in the Clementines that the first tidings of the Gospel reached Rome during the lifetime of our Lord, is evidently a fiction for the purposes of the romance. On the other hand, it is clear that the foundations this Church dates very far back. It may be that some of those Romans, "both Jews and proselytes," present on the day of Pentecost (Acts ii. 10), carried back the earliest tidings of the new doctrine, or the Gospel may have first reached the imperial city through those who were scattered abroad to escape the persecution which followed on the death of Stephen (Acts viii. 4, xi. 19). At first we may suppose that the Gospel was preached there in a confused and imperfect form, scarcely more than a phase of Judaism, as in the case of Apollos at Corinth (Acts xviii. 25), or the disciples at Ephesus (Acts xix. 1-3). As time advanced and better instructed teachers arrived, the clouds would gradually clear away, till at length the presence of the great Apostle himself at Rome, dispersed the mists of Judaism which still hung about the Roman Church. 5. A question next arises as to the composition of the Roman Church, at the time when St. Paul wrote. Did the Apostle address a Jewish or a Gentile community, or, if the two elements were combined, was one or other predominant so as to give a character to the whole Church? It is more probable that St. Paul addressed a muted Church of Jews and Gentiles, the latter perhaps being the more numerous. There are certainly passages which imply the presence of a large number of Jewish converts to Christianity. If we analyse the list of names in the 16th chapter, and assume that this list approximately represents the proportion of Jew and Gentile in the Roman Church (an assumption at least not improbable), we arrive at the same result. Altogether it appears that a very large fraction of the Christian believers mentioned in these salutations were Jews, even supposing that the others, bearing Greek and Latin names, of whom we know nothing, were heathens. Nor does the existence of a large Jewish element in the Roman Church present any difficulty. The captives earned to Rome by Pompeius formed the nucleus of the Jewish population in the metropolis. Since that time they had largely increased. On the other hand, situated in the metropolis of the great empire of heathendom, the Roman Church must necessarily have been in great measure a Gentile Church; and the language of the Epistle bears out this supposition. These Gentile converts, however, were not for the most part native Romans. Strange as the paradox appears, nothing is more certain than that the Church of Rome was at this time a Greek and not a Latin Church. All the literature of the early Roman Church was written in the Greek tongue. The names of the bishops of Rome during the first two centuries are with but few exceptions Greek. And we find that a very large proportion of the names in the salutations of this Epistle are Greek names. When we inquire into the probable rank and station of the Roman believers, an analysis of the names in the list of salutations again gives an approximate answer. These names belong for the most part to the middle and lower grades of society. Many of them are found in the columbaria of the freedmen and slaves of the early Roman emperors. Among the less wealthy merchants and tradesmen, among the petty officers of the army, among the slaves and freedmen of the imperial palace — whether Jews or Greeks — the Gospel would first find a firm footing. To this last class allusion is made in Phil. iv, 22, "they that are of Caesar's household." 6. The heterogeneous composition of this Church explains the general character of the Epistle to the Romans. In an assemblage so various, we should expect to find not the exclusive predominance of a single form of error, but the coincidence of different and opposing forms. It was therefore the business of the Christian Teacher to reconcile the opposing difficulties and to hold out a meeting point in the Gospel. This is exactly what St. Paul does in the Epistle to the Romans. Again, it does not appear that the letter was specially written to answer any doubts or settle any controversies then rife in the Roman Church. There were therefore no disturbing influences, such as arise out of personal relations, or peculiar circumstances, to derange a general and systematic exposition of the nature and working of the Gospel. Thus the Epistle to the Romans is more of a treatise than of a letter. In this respect it differs widely from the Epistles to the Corinthians and Galatians, which are full of personal and direct allusions. In one instance alone (xiii. 1) we seem to trace a special reference to the Church of the metropolis. 7. This explanation is in fact to be sought in its relation to the contemporaneous Epistles. The letter to the Romans closes the group of Epistles written during the second missionary journey. This group contains besides, as already mentioned, the letters to the Corinthians and Galatians, written probably within the few months preceding. In the Epistles to these two Churches we study the attitude of the Gospel towards the Gentile and Jewish world respectively. These letters are direct and special. The Epistle to the Romans is the summary of what St. Paul had written before, the result of his dealing with the two antagonistic forms of error, the gathering together of the fragmentary teaching in the Corinthian and Galatian letters. 8. Viewing this Epistle then rather in the light of a treatise than of a letter, we are enabled to explain certain phenomena in the text. In the received text a doxology stands at the close of the Epistle (xvi. 25-27). The preponderance of evidence is in favor of this position, but there is respectable authority for placing it at the end of ch. xiv. In some texts, again it is found in both places, while others omit it entirely. The phenomena of the MSS. seem best explained by supposing that the letter was circulated at an early date (whether during the Apostle's lifetime or not it is idle to inquire) in two forms, both with and without the two last chapters. 9. In describing the purport of this Epistle we may start from St. Paul's own words, which, standing at the beginning of the doctrinal portion, may be taken as giving a summary of the contents (i. 16, 17). Accordingly the Epistle has been described as comprising "the religious philosophy of the world's history." The atonement of Christ is the centre of religious history. The Epistle, from its general character, lends itself more readily to an analysis than is often the case with St. Paul's Epistles. The following is a table of its contents : — Salutation (i. 1-7). The Apostle at the outset strikes the keynote of the Epistle in the expressions "called as an apostle," " called as saints." Divine grace is everything, human merit nothing. — I. Personal explanations. Purposed visit to Rome (i. 8-15).— II. Doctrinal (i. 16-xi. 36). The general proposition. The Gospel is the salvation of Jew and Gentile alike. This salvation comes by faith (i. 16, 17). (a) All alike were under condemnation before the Gospel. The heathen (i. 18-32). The Jew (ii. 1-29). Objections to this statement answered (iii. 1-8). And the position itself established from Scripture (iii. 9-20). (6) A righteousness (justification) is revealed under the Gospel, which being of faith, not of law, is also universal (iii. 21-26). And boasting is thereby excluded (iii. 27-31). Of this justification by faith Abraham is an example (iv. 1-25). Thus then we are justified in Christ, in whom alone we glory (v. 1-11). And this acceptance in Christ is as universal as was the condemnation in Adam (v. 12-19). (c) The moral consequences of our deliverance. The law was given to multiply sin (v. 20, 21). When we died to the law we died to sin (vi. 1-14). The abolition of the law, however, is not a signal for moral license (vi. 15-23). On the contrary, as the law has passed away, so must sin, for sin and the law are correlative ; at the same time this is no disparagement of the law, but rather a proof of human weakness (vii. 1-25). So henceforth in Christ we are free from sin, we have the Spirit, and look forward in hope, triumphing over our present afflictions (viii. 1-39). (t) The rejection of the Jews is a matter of deep sorrow (ix. 1-5). Yet we must remember — (i.) That the promise was not to the whole people, but only to a select seed (ix. 6-13). And the absolute purpose of God in so ordaining is not to be canvassed by man (ix. 14-19). (ii.) That the Jews did not seek justification aright, and so missed it. This justification was promised by faith, and is offered to all alike, the preaching to the Gentiles being implied therein. The character and results of the Gospel dispensation are foreshadowed in Scripture (x. 1-21). (iii.) That the rejection of the Jews is not final. This rejection has been the means of gathering in the Gentiles, and through the Gentiles they themselves will ultimately be brought to Christ (xi. 1-36). — III. Practical exhortations (iii. 1-xv. 13). (a) To holiness of life and to charity in general, the duty (iii.) That the rejection of the Jews is not final. This rejection has been the means of gathering in the Gentiles, and through the Gentiles they themselves will ultimately be brought to Christ (xi. 1-36). — III. Practical exhortations (iii. 1-xv. 13). (a) To holiness of life and to charity in general, the duty of obedience to rulers being inculcated by the way (xii. 1-xiii. 14). (6) And more particularly against giving offence to weaker brethren (xiv. 1-xv. 13). — IV. Personal matters, (a) The Apostle's motive in writing the letter, and his intention of visiting the Romans (xv. 14-33). (4) Greetings (xvi. 1- 23). The letter ends with a benediction and doxology (xvi. 24-27). While this Epistle contains the fullest and most systematic exposition of the Apostle's teaching, it is at the same time a very striking expression of his character. Nowhere do his earnest and affectionate nature, and his tact and delicacy in handling unwelcome topics appear more strongly than when he is dealing with the rejection of his fellow-countrymen the Jews. 10. Internal evidence is so strongly in favor of the genuineness of the Epistle to the Romans that it has never been seriously questioned. But while the Epistle bears in itself the strongest proofs of its Pauline author ship, the external testimony in its favor is not inconsiderable. It is not the practice of the Apostolic fathers to cite the N. T. writers by name, but marked passages from the Romans are found em bedded in the Epistles of Clement and Polycarp. It seems also to have been directly cited by the elder quoted in Irenaeus, and is alluded to by the writer of the Epistle to Diognetus, and by Justin Martyr. It has a place moreover in the Muratorian Canon and in the Syriac and Old Latin Versions. Nor have we the testimony of orthodox writers alone. The Epistle was commonly quoted as an authority by the heretics of the subapostolic age, by the Ophites, by Basilides, by Valentinus, by the Valentinians, Heracleon and Ptolemaeus, and perhaps also by Tatian, besides being included in Marcion's Canon. In the latter part of the second century the evidence in its favor is still fuller.

William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 796-798

Notes On The Authorship Of Galatians

Galatians, The Epistle to the, was written by the Apostle St. Paul not long after his journey through Galatia and Phrygia (Acts xviii. 23), and probably in the early portion of his two years and a half stay at Ephesus, which terminated with the Pentecost of a.d. 57 or 58. The Epistle appears to have been called forth by the machinations of Judaizing teachers, who, shortly before the date of its composition, had endeavored to seduce the churches of this province into a recognition of circumcision (v. 2, 11, 12, vi. 12, sq.), and had openly sought to depreciate the apostolic claims of St. Paul (comp. i. 1, 11). The scope and contents of the Epistle are thus — (1) apologetic (i., ii.) and polemical (iii., iv.) ; and (2) hortatory and practical (v., vi.): the positions and demonstrations of the former portion being used with great power and persuasiveness in the exhortations of the latter. With regard to the genuineness and authenticity of this Epistle, no writer of any credit or respectability has expressed any doubts. The testimony of the early church is most decided and unanimous. Besides express references to the Epistle we have one or two direct citations found as early as the time of the Apostolic Fathers, and several apparent allusions. Two historical questions require a brief notice: — 1. The number of visits made by St. Paul to the churches of Galatia previous to his writing the Epistle. These seem certainly to have been two. The Apostle founded the churches of Galatia in the visit recorded Acts xvi. 6, during his second missionary journey, about a.d. 51, and revisited them at the period and on the occasion mentioned Acts xviii. 23, when he went through the country of Galatia and Phrygia. On this occasion it would seem probable that he found the leaven of Judaism beginning to work in the churches of Galatia. 2. Closely allied with the preceding question is that of the date, and the place from which the Epistle was written. Conybeare and Howson, and more recently Lightfoot, urge the probability of its having been written at about the same time as the Epistle to the Romans. They would therefore assign Corinth as the place where the Epistle was written, and the three mouths that the Apostle stayed there (Acts xx. 2, 3), apparently the winter of a.d. 57 or 58, as the exact period. But it seems almost impossible to assign a later period than the commencement of the prolonged stay in Ephesus (a.d. 54).

William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 277

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Notes On The Authorship Of 1 And 2 Corinthians

Corinthians. First Epistle to the, was written by the Apostle St. Paul toward the close of his nearly three-year stay at Ephesus (Acts xix. 10, xx. 31), which, we learn from 1 Cor. xvi. 8, probably terminated with the Pentecost of a.d. 57 or 58. The bearers were probably (according to the common subscription) Stephanas, Fortunatus, Achaicus, who had been recently sent to the Apostle, and who, in the conclusion of this epistle (ch. xvi. 17), are especially commended to the honorable regard of the church of Corinth. This varied and highly characteristic letter was not addressed to any party, but to the whole body of the large (Acts xviii. 8, 10) Judaeo-Gentile (Acts xviii. 4) church of Corinth, and appears to have been called forth, 1st, by the information the Apostle had received from members of the household of Chloe (ch i. 11 ), of the divisions that were existing among them, which were of so grave a nature as to have already induced the Apostle to desire Timothy to visit Corinth (ch. iv. 17) after his journey to Macedonia (Acts xix. 22) ; 2dly, by the information he had received of a grievous case of incest (ch. v. 1), and of the defective state of the Corinthian converts, not only in regard of general habits (ch. vi. 1, sq.) and church discipline (eh. xi. 20, sq.), but, as it would also seem, of doctrine (ch. xv.); 3dly, by the inquiries that had been specially addressed to St. Paul by the church of Corinth on several matters relating to Christian practice. With regard to the genuineness and authenticity of this epistle no doubt has ever been entertained. The external evidences are extremely distinct, and the character of the composition such, that if any critic should hereafter be bold enough to question the correctness of the ascription, he must be prepare to extend it to all the epistles that bear the name of the great Apostle. Two special points deserve separate consideration : — 1 . The state of parties at Corinth at the time of the Apostle's writing. The few facts sup plied to us by the Acts of the Apostles, and the notices in the epistle, appear to be as follows : — The Corinthian church was planted by the Apostle himself (1 Cor. iii 6), in his second missionary journey (Acts xviii. 1, sq.). He abode in the city a year and a half (ch. xviii. 1) . A short time alter the Apostle had left the city the eloquent Jew of Alexandria, Apollos, went to Corinth (Acts xix. 1 ). This circumstance of the visit of Apollos appears to have formed the commencement of a gradual division into two parties, the followers of St. Paul, and the followers of Apollos (comp. ch. iv. 6). These divisions, however, were to be multiplied; for, as it would seem, shortly after the departure of Apollos, Judaizing teachers, supplied probably with letters of commendation (2 Cor. iii. 1) from the church of Jerusalem, appear to have come to Corinth and to have preached the Gospel in a spirit of direct antagonism to St. Paul personally. To this third party we may perhaps add a fourth, that, under the name of "the followers of Christ" (ch. i., 12), sought at first to separate themselves from the factious adherence to particular teachers, but eventually were driven to antagonism into positions equally sectarian and inimical to the unity of the church. At this momentous period, before parties had become consolidated, and had distinctly withdrawn from communion with one another, the Apostle writes ; and in the outset of the epistle (ch. i.-iv. 21) we have his noble and impassioned protest against this fourfold rending of the robe of Christ. — 2. The number of epistles written by St. Paul to the Corinthian church will probably remain a subject of controversy to the end of time. The well known words (ch. v. 9) do certainly seem to point to some former epistolary communication to the church of Corinth. The whole context seems in favor of this view, though the Greek commentators are of the contrary opinion, and no notice has been taken of the lost epistle by any writers of antiquity. The apocryphal letter of the church of Corinth to St. Paul, and St. Paul's answer, existing in Armenian, are worthless productions, that deserve no consideration.

Corinthians, Second Epistle to the, was written a few months subsequently to the first, in the same year, — and thus, if the dates assigned to the former epistle be correct, about the autumn of a d. 57 or 58, a short time previous to the Apostle's three months' stay in Achaia (Acts xx. 3). The place whence it was written was clearly not Ephesus (see ch. i. 8), but Macedonia (ch. vii. 5, viii. 1, ix. 2), whither the Apostle went by way of Troas (ch. ii. 12), after waiting a short time in the latter place for the return of Titus (ch. ii. 13). The Vatican MS., the bulk of later MSS., and the old Syr. version, assign Philippi as the exact place whence it was written; but for this assertion we have no certain grounds to rely on: that the bearers, however, were Titus and his associates (Luke?) is apparently substantiated by ch. viii. 23, ix. 3, 5. The epistle was occasioned by the information which the Apostle had received from Titus, and also, as it would certainly seem probable, from Timothy, of the reception of the first epistle. If it be desirable to hazard a conjecture on the mission of Titus, it would seem most natural to suppose that the return of Timothy and the intelligence he conveyed might have been such as to make the Apostle feel the necessity of at once dispatching to the contentious church one of his immediate followers, with instructions to support and strengthen the effect of the epistle, and to bring back the most recent tidings of the spirit that was prevailing at Corinth. These tidings, as it would seem from our present epistle, were mainly favorable; the better part of the church were returning to their spiritual allegiance to their founder (chap. i. 13, 14, vii. 9, 15, 16); but there was still a faction, possibly of the Judaizing members (comp. ch. xi. 22), that were sharpened into even a more keen animosity against the Apostle personally (ch. x. I, 10), and more strenuously denied his claim to Apostleship. The contents of this epistle are thus very varied, but may perhaps be roughly divided into three parts: — 1st, the Apostles account of the character of his spiritual labors, accompanied with notices of his affectionate feelings towards his converts (ch. i.-vii.); 2dly, directions about the collections (ch. viii., ix.); 3dly, defense of his own Apostolical character (ch. x.-xiii. 10). The genuineness and authenticity are supported by the most decided external testimony, and by internal evidence of such a kind that what has been said on this point in respect of the first epistle is here even still more applicable. The principal historical difficulty connected with the epistle relates to the number of visits made by the Apostle to the church of Corinth. The words of this epistle (ch. xii. 14, xiii. 1, 2) seem distinctly to imply that St. Paul had visited Corinth twice before the time at which he now writes. St. Luke, however, only mentions one visit prior to that time (Acts xviii. 1, sq.); for the visit recorded in Acts xx. 2, 3, is confessedly subsequent. We must assume that the Apostle made a visit to Corinth which St. Luke did not record, probably during the period of his three year residence at Ephesus.

William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 173-174

Notes On The Authorship Of Philippians

Philippians, Epistle to the. 1. The canonical authority, Pauline authorship, and integrity of this Epistle, were unanimously acknowledged up to the end of the 18th century. Marcion (a.d. 140) in the earliest known Canon held common ground with the Church touching the authority of this Epistle : it appears in the Muratorian Fragment; among the ''acknowledged" books in Eusebius; in the lists of the Council of Laodicea, a.d. 365, and the Synod of Hippo, 393; and in all subsequent lists, as well as in the Peshito and later versions. Even contemporary evidence may be claimed for it. Philippian Christians who had contributed to the collections for St. Paul's support at Rome, who had been eye and ear witnesses of the re turn of Epaphroditus and the first reading of St. Paul's Epistle, may have been still alive at Philippi when Polycarp wrote (a.d. 107) his letter to them, in which (ch. 2, 3) he refers to St Paul's Epistle as a well-known distinction belonging to the Philippian Church. It is quoted as St. Paul's by Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian. A quotation from it (Phil. ii. 6) is found in the Epistle of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne, a.d. 177. The testimonies of later writers are innumerable. But F. C. Baur, followed by Schwcgler, has argued, from the phraseology of the Epistle and other internal marks, that it is the work, not of St. Paul, but of some Gnostic forger in the 2d century. 2. When written. — The constant tradition that this Epistle was written at Rome by St. Paul in his captivity was impugned first by Gsder (1731), who, disregarding the fact that the apostle was in prison (i. 7, 13, 14) when he wrote, imagined that he was at Corinth; and then by Paulus (1799), Schulz (1829), Bottger (1837), and Rilliet (1841), in whose opinion the Epistle was written during the apostle's confinement at Caesarea (Acts xxiv. 23); but the references to the "palace" (praetorium, i. 13), and to "Caesar's house hold," iv. 22, seem to point to Rome rather than to Caesarea.

3. When written. — Assuming, then, that the Epistle was written at Rome during the imprisonment mentioned in the last chapter of the Acts, it may be shown from a single fact that it could not have been written long before the end of the two years. The distress of the Philippians on account of Epaphroditus's sickness was known at Rome when the Epistle was written; St. Luke was absent from Rome; and lastly, it is obvious from Phil. i. 20 that St. Paul, when he wrote, felt his position to be very critical, and we know that it became more precarious as the two years drew to a close. In a.d. 62, the infamous Tigellinus succeeded Burrus the upright praetorian prefect in the charge of St. Paul's person; and the marriage of Poppaea brought his imperial judge under an influence which, if exerted, was hostile to St. Paul. Assuming that St. Paul's acquittal and release took place in 63, we may date the Epistle to the Philippians early in that year. 4. The writer's acquaintance with the Philippians. — St. Paul's connection with Philippi was of a peculiar character, which gave rise to the writing of this Epistle. St. Paul entered its walls, a d. 52 (Acts xvi. 12), accompanied by Silas, who had been with him since he started from Anti- och, and by Timothy and Luke, whom he had afterwards attached to himself; the former at Derbe, the latter quite recently at Troas. There, at a greater distance from Jerusalem than any apostle had yet penetrated, the long restrained energy of St. Paul was again employed in laying the foundation of a Christian church. Philippi was endeared to St. Paul, not only by the hospitality of Lydia, the deep sympathy of the converts, and the remarkable miracle which set a seal on his preaching, but also by the successful exercise of his missionary activity after a long suspense, and by the happy consequences of his undaunted endurance of ignominies, which remained in his memory (Phil. i. 30) after the long interval of eleven years. Leaving Timothy and Luke to watch over the infant Church, Paul and Silas went to Thessalonica (I Thess. ii. 2), whither they were followed by the alms of the Philippians (Phil. iv. 16), and thence southwards. The next six years of his life are a blank in our records. At the end of that period, he is found again (Acts xx. 6) at Philippi. After the lapse of five years, spent chiefly at Corinth and Ephesus, St. Paul, escaping from the incensed worshipers of the Ephesian Diana, passed through Macedonia, a.d. 57, on his way to Greece, accompanied by the Ephesians Tychicus and Trophimus, and probably visited Philippi for the second time, and was there joined by Timothy. He wrote at Philippi his Second Epistle to the Corinthians. On returning from Greece (Acts xx. 4), he again found a refuge among his faithful Philippians, where he spent some days at Easter, a.d. 58, with St. Luke, who accompanied him when he sailed from Neapolis. Once more, in his Roman captivity (a.d. 62) their care of him revived again. They sent Epaphroditus, bearing their alms for the apostle's support, and ready also to tender his personal service (Phil. ii. 25).

5. Scope and contents of the Epistle. — St. Paul's aim in writing is plainly this: while acknowledging the alms of the Philippians and the personal services of their messenger, to give them some information respecting his own condition, and some advice respecting theirs. After the inscription (i. 1, 2), in which Timothy as the second father of the Church is joined with Paul, he sets forth his own condition (i. 3-26), his prayers, care, and wishes for his Philippians, with the troubles and uncertainty of his imprisonment, and his hope of eventually seeing them again. Then (i. 27— ii. 18) he exhorts them to those particular virtues which he would rejoice to see them practicing at the present time. He hopes soon to hear a good report of them (ii. 19-30), either by sending Timothy, or by going himself to them, as be now send Epaphroditus, whose diligent service is highly commended. Reverting (iii. 1-21) to the tone of joy which runs through the preceding descriptions and exhortations — as in i. 4, 18, 25, ii. 2, 16, 17, 18, 28 — he bids them take heed that their joy be in the Lord, and warns them, as he had often previously warned them (probably in his last two visits), against admitting itinerant Judaizing teachers, the tendency of whose doctrine was towards a vain confidence in mere earthly things : in contrast to this, he exhorts them to follow him in placing their trust humbly but entirely in Christ, and in pressing for ward in their Christian course, with the resurrection-day constantly before their minds. Again (iv. 1-9), adverting to their position in the midst of unbelievers, he beseeches them, even with personal appeals, to be firm, united, joyful in the Lord ; to be full of prayer and peace, and to lead such a life as must approve itself to the moral sense of all men. Lastly (iv. 10-23), he thanks them for the contribution sent by Epaphroditus for his support, and concludes with salutations and a benediction. 6 Effect of the Epistle. — We have no account of the reception of this Epistle by the Philippians. Except doubtful traditions that Erastus was their first bishop, and with Lydia and Parmenas was martyred in their city, nothing is recorded of them for the next "forty-four years. Now, though we cannot trace the immediate effect of St. Paul's Epistle on the Philippians, yet no one can doubt that it contributed to form the character of their Church as it was in the time of Polycarp. It is evident from Polycarp's Epistle, that the Church. by the grace of God and the guidance of the apostle, had passed through those trials of which St. Paul warned it, and had not gone back from the high degree of Christian attainments which it reached under St. Paul's oral and written teaching (Polyc. i., iii., ix., xi.).

7. The Church at Rome.— The state of the Church at Rome should be considered before entering on the study of the Epistle to the Philippians. Something is to be learned of its condition about a.d. 58 from the Epistle to the Romans, about a.d. 61 from Acts xxviii. St. Paul's presence in Rome, the freedom of speech allowed to him, and the personal freedom of his fellow laborers, were the means of infusing fresh missionary activity into the Church (Phill i. 12-14). It was in the work of Christ that Epaphroditus was worn out (ii. 30). 8. Characteristic features of the Epistle. — Strangely full of joy and thanksgiving amidst adversity like the apostle's midnight hymn from the depth of his Philippian dungeon, this Epistle went forth from his prison at Rome. In most other epistles, he writes with a sustained effort to instruct, or with sorrow, or with indignation; he is striving to supply imperfect, or to correct erroneous teaching; to put down scandalous impurity, or to heal schism in the church which he addresses. But in this Epistle, though he knew the Philippians intimately, and was not blind to the faults, and tendencies to fault, of some of them, yet he mentions no evil so characteristic of the whole Church as to call for general censure on his part, or amendment on theirs. Of all his Epistles to churches, none has so little of an official character as this.

William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 737-739