Saturday, June 27, 2020

Does John 3:16 Support Justification By Faith Alone?

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

           "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)

            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 these creatures. 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 the sentence of death. We can infer from this historical event the spiritually bankrupt nature of man. Jesus Christ Himself is the typological fulfillment of 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)

           Everybody has been spiritually poisoned by sin. This Old Testament incident of people getting spared from physical death is a typological illustration of Jesus Christ's power to save us from spiritual death. Those who turn to Christ by trusting in His redemptive work are saved from eternal condemnation. Sinners are cured of their spiritual illness by the Great Physician, Jesus Christ. The Jews were not saved by good works, but by simply placing their faith in God. The atonement of Christ is applied to all who come to Him by grace through faith in Christ.

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 along 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 gift and reward. Justification before God is not something we can earn on the basis of good works that we perform, even in part. It is an unmerited grace of God.

          "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 enough to bring about our justification in the sight of God, then it would not make any sense for Jesus Christ to have said that the humble tax collector went home justified. The only thing that he had was faith. Moreover, the text informs us that the rich man trusted in his good works to get right with God. He pointed to his deeds as the basis of his righteousness. The rich man went to his house condemned. Thus, Christ plainly taught that no one should rely on his own good works in order to be justified before God. The Pharisee is an illustration of the ultimate failure of a system of works righteousness. Such efforts get to one's own heads and thereby insult God in His glory.

          "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.”

          John 5:24 speaks of having eternal life in the present tense or being immediately in one's own possession at the moment of conversion. John 5:28-29 contrasts the lives of people who placed their trust in Jesus Christ and those who rejected Him. Those who fit into the later category will undoubtedly stand eternally condemned at the Last Judgement. They never repented of their sins in this life.

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Notes On The Authorship Of 1 And 2 Timothy

Timothy, Epistles of Paul to. The First Epistle was probably written in the interval between St. Paul's first and second imprisonments at Rome. The absence of any local reference but that in i. 3 suggests Macedonia or some neighboring district. In some MSS. and versions, Laodicea is named in the inscription as the place from which it was sent. The Second Epistle appears to have been written soon afterwards, and in all probability Rome. The following are the characteristic features of these epistles: — ( 1 ) The ever-deepening sense in St. Paul's heart of the divine mercy, of which he was the object, as shown in the insertion of the word "mercy " in the salutations of both epistles, and in the " obtained mercy" of 1 Tim. i. 13. (2) The greater abruptness of the Second Epistle. From first to last there is no plan, no treatment of subjects carefully thought out. All speaks of strong overflowing emotion, memories of the past, anxieties about the future. (3) The absence, as compared with St. Paul's other epistles, of Old Testament references. This may connect itself with the fact just noticed, that these epistles are not argumentative, possibly also with the request for the "books and parchments " 'which had been left behind (2 Tim. iv. 13). (4) The conspicuous position of the "faithful sayings" as taking the place occupied in other epistles by the O. T. Scriptures. The way in which these are cited as authoritative, the variety of subjects which they cover, suggest the thought that, in them, we have specimens of the prophecies of the Apostolic Church which had most impressed themselves on the mind of the apostle, and of the disciples generally. 1 Cor. xiv. shows how deep a reverence he was likely to feel for such spiritual utterances. In 1 Tim. iv. 1, we have a distinct reference to them. (5) The tendency of the apostle's mind to dwell more on the universality of the redemptive work of Christ (1 Tim. ii. 3-6, iv. 10), and his strong desire that all the teaching of his disciples should be "sound." (6) The importance attached by him to the practical details of administration. The gathered experience of a long life had taught him that the life and well-being of the Church required these for its safeguards. (7) The recurrence of doxologies (1 Tim. i. 17, vi. 15, 16; 2 Tim. iv. 18) as from one living perpetually in the presence of God, to whom the language of adoration was as his natural speech.

William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 953

Notes On The Authorship Of 1 And 2 Thessalonians

Thessalonians, First Epistle to the, was written by the Apostle Paul at Corinth, a few months after he had founded the Church at Thessalonica, at the close of the year 52 or the beginning of 53. The occasion of this Epistle was as follows: St. Paul had twice attempted to revisit Thessalonica, and both times had been disappointed. Thus prevented from seeing them in person, he had sent Timothy to in quire and report to him as to their condition (iii. 1-5). Timothy returned with most favor able tidings, reporting not only their progress in Christian faith and practice, bat also their strong attachment to their old teacher (iii. 6- 10). The First Epistle to the Thessalonians is the outpouring of the apostle's gratitude on receiving this welcome news. At the same time, the report of Timothy was not unmixed with alloy. There were certain features in the condition of the Thessalonian Church which called for St. Paul's interference, and to which he addresses himself in his letter. (1.) The very in tensity of their Christian faith, dwelling too exclusively on the day of the Lord's coming, had been attended with evil consequences. On the other hand, a theoretical difficulty had been felt. Certain members of the Church had died, and there was great anxiety lest they should be excluded from any share in the glories of the Lord's advent (iv. 13-18). (2.) The Thessalonians needed consolation and encouragement under persecution (ii. 14, iii. 2-4). (3.) An unhealthy state of feeling with regard to spiritual gifts was manifesting itself (v. 19, 20). (4.) There was the danger of relapsing into their old heathen profligacy (iv. 4-8). Yet not withstanding all these drawbacks, the condition of the Thessalonian Church was highly satisfactory, and the most cordial relations existed between St. Paul and his converts there. This honorable distinction it shares with the other great Church of Macedonia, that of Philippi. The Epistle is rather practical than doctrinal. It was suggested rather by personal feeling than by any urgent need, which might have formed a centre of unity, and impressed a distinct character on the whole. Under these circumstances, we need not expect to trace unity of purpose, or a continuous argument, and any analysis must be more or less artificial. The body of the Epistle, however, may conveniently be divided into two parts, the former of which, ex tending over the first three chapters, is chiefly taken up with a retrospect of the apostle's relation to his Thessalonian converts, and an explanation of his present circumstances and feelings; while the latter, comprising the 4th and 5th chapters, contains some seasonable exhortations. At the close of each of these divisions is a prayer, commencing with the same words, "May God Himself," &c., and expressed in somewhat similar language. The Epistle closes with personal injunctions and a benediction (v. 25-28).

Thessalonians, Second Epistle to the, appears to have been written from Corinth, not very long after the First, for Silvanus and Timotheus were still with St. Paul (i. 1). In the former letter, we saw chiefly the outpouring of strong personal affection, occasioned by the renewal of the apostle's intercourse with the Thessalonians, and the doctrinal and hortatory portions are there subordinate. In the Second Epistle, on the other hand, his leading motive seems to have been the desire of correcting errors in the Church of Thessalonica. We notice two points especially which call for his rebuke. First, it seems that the anxious expectation of the Lord's advent, instead of subsiding, had gained ground since the writing of the First Epistle. Secondly, the apostle had also a personal ground of complaint. His authority was not denied by any; out it was tampered with, and an unauthorized use was made of his name. This Epistle, in the range of subject as well as in style and general character, closely resembles the First; and the remarks made on that Epistle apply for the most part equally well to this. The structure also is somewhat similar, the main body of the Epistle being divided into two parts in the same way, and each part closing with a prayer (ii. 16, 17, iii. 16). The Epistle ends with a special direction and benediction (iii. 17, 18).

William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 945-946

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Notes On The Authorship Of Colossians

Colossians, the Epistle to the, was written by the Apostle St. Paul during his first captivity at Rome (Acts xxviii. 16), and apparently in that portion of it (Col. iv. 3, 4) when the Apostle's imprisonment had not assumed the more severe character which seems to be reflected in the Epistle to the Philippians (ch. i. 20, 21, 30, ii. 27), and which not improbably succeeded the death of Burrus in a.d. 62, and the decline of the influence of Seneca. This important and profound epistle was addressed to the Christians of the once large and influential, but now smaller and declining, city of Colossae, and was delivered to them by Tychicus, whom the Apostle had sent both to them (ch. iv. 7, 8) and to the church of Ephesus (ch. vi. 21), to inquire into their state and to administer exhortation and comfort. The epistle seems to have been called forth by the information St. Paul had received from Epaphras (ch. iv. 12; Philem. 23) and from Onesimus, both of whom appear to have been natives of Colossae, and the former of whom was, if not the special founder, yet certainly one of the very earliest preachers of the gospel in that city. The main object of the epistle is not merely, as in the case of the Epistle to the Philippians, to exhort and to confirm, nor as in that to the Ephesians, to set forth the great features of the church of the chosen in Christ, but is especially designed to warn the Colossians against a spirit of semi-Judaistic and semi-Oriental philosophy which was corrupting the simplicity of their belief, and was noticeably tending to obscure the eternal glory and dignity of Christ. With regard to its genuineness and authenticity, it is satisfactory to be able to say with distinctness that there are no grounds for doubt. The external testimonies are explicit, and the internal arguments, founded on the style, balance of sentences, positions of adverbs, uses of the relative pronoun, participial anacolutha, unusually strong and well defined. A few special points demand from us a brief notice. — 1. The opinion that this epistle and those to the Ephesians and to Philemon were written during the Apostle's imprisonment at Caesarea (Acts xxi. 27-xxvi. 32), i.e. between Pentecost a.d. 58 and the autumn of a.d. 60, has been recently advocated by several writers of ability, and stated with such cogency and clearness by Meyer, as to deserve some consideration. But to go no further than the present epistle, the notices of the Apostle's imprisonment in ch. iv. 3, 4, 11, certainly seem historically inconsistent with the nature of the imprisonment at Caesarea. The permission of Felix (Acts xxiv. 23) can scarcely be strained into any degree of liberty to teach or preach the Gospel — 2. The nature of the erroneous teaching condemned in this epistle has been very differently estimated. Three opinions only seem to de serve any serious consideration; (a) that these erroneous teachers were adherents of Neo-Platonism, or of some forms of Occidental philosophy (6) that they leaned to Essene doctrine and practices; (c) that they advocated that ad mixture of Christianity, Judaism, and Oriental philosophy which afterwards became consolidated into Gnosticism. Of these (a) has but little in its favor, except the somewhat vague term "philosophy" (ch. ii. 8), which, however, it seems arbitrary to restrict to Grecian philosophy; (6) is much more plausible as far as the usages alluded to, but seems inconsistent both with the exclusive nature and circumscribed localities of Essene teaching; (c) on the contrary is in accordance with the Gentile nature of the church of Colossae; (ch. i. 21), with its very locality — speculative and superstitions Phrygia — and with that tendency to associate Judaical observances (ch. ii. 10) with more purely theosophistic speculations (ch. ii. 18), which became afterwards so conspicuous in developed Gnosticism. — 3. The striking similarity between many portions of this epistle and of that to the Ephesians has given rise to much speculation, both as to the reason of this studied similarity, and as to the priority of order in respect to composition. The similarity may reasonably be accounted for, (1) by the proximity in time at which the two epistles were written ; (2) by the high probability that in two cities of Asia, within a moderate distance from one another, there would be many doctrinal prejudices, and many social relations, that would call forth and need precisely the same language of warning and exhortation. The priority in composition must remain a matter for a reason able difference of opinion. To us the shorter and perhaps more vividly expressed Epistle to the Colossians seems to have been first written, and to have suggested the more comprehensive, more systematic, but less individualizing, epistle to the church of Ephesus.

William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 168

Notes On The Authorship Of Ephesians

Ephesians, the Epistle to the, was written by the Apostle St. Paul during his first captivity at Rome (Acts xxviii. 16), apparently immediately after he had written the Epistle to the Colossians [Colossians, Ep. To], and dating that period (perhaps the early part of a.d. 62) when his imprisonment had not assumed the severer character which seems to have marked its close. This sublime epistle was addressed to the Christian church at the ancient and famous city of Ephesus, that church which the Apostle had himself founded (Acts xix. 1 sq., comp. xviii. 19), with which he abode so long (Acts xx. 31), and from the elders of which he parted with such a warm-hearted and affecting farewell (Acts xx. 18-35). The contents or this epistle easily admit of being divided into two portions, the first mainly doctrinal (ch. i.-iii.), the second hortatory and practical. With regard to the authenticity and genuineness of this epistle, it is not too much to say that there are no just grounds for doubt. The testimonies of antiquity are unusually strong. Even if we do not press the supposed allusions in Ignatius and Polycarp, we can confidently adduce Irenaeus, Clem. Alex., Origen, Tertullian, and after them the constant and persistent tradition of the ancient Church. Even Marcion did not deny that the epistle was written by St. Paul, nor did heretics refuse occasionally to cite it as confessedly due to him as its author. In recent times, however, its genuineness has been somewhat vehemently called in question. De Wette labors to prove that it is a mere spiritless expansion of the Epistle to the Colossians, though compiled in the Apostolic age: Schwegler, Baur, and others, advance a step further, and reject both epistles as of no higher antiquity than the age of Montanism and early Gnosticism. For a detailed reply to the arguments of De Wette and Baur, the student may be referred to Meyer, Einleit. z. Eph. p. 19 sq. (ed. 2); Davidson, Introd. to N. T., ii. p. 352 sq.; and Alford, Prolegomena, p. 8. Two special points require a brief notice : — ( 1 . ) The readers for whom this epistle was designed. In the opening paragraph the words iv 'E^eoy are omitted by a, B, 67, Basil, and possibly Tertullian. This, combined with the somewhat noticeable omission of all greetings to the members of a Church with which the Apostle stood in such affectionate relation, and some other internal objections, have suggested a doubt whether these words really formed a part of the original text. At first sight these doubts seem plausible ; but when we oppose to them (a) the over whelming weight of diplomatic evidence for the insertion of the words, (6) the testimony of all the versions, (c) the universal designation of this epistle by the ancient Church (Marcion standing alone in his assertion that it was writ ten to the Laodiceans) as an epistle to the Ephesians, (d) the extreme difficulty in giving any satisfactory meaning to the isolated participle, and the absence of any parallel usage in the Apostle's writings, — we can scarcely feel any doubt as to the propriety of removing the brack ets in which these words arc enclosed in the 2d edition of Tischendorf, and of considering them an integral part of the original text. — (2.) The question of priority in respect of composition between this epistle and that to the Colossians is very difficult to adjust. On the whole, both internal and external considerations seem some what in favor of the priority of the Epistle to the Colossians.

William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 248