Imagini ale paginilor

Having set forth the great scheme of redemption, the apostle deals with its bearing on the fortunes of the chosen people. He shows that their failure to enter into the blessings of the New Covenant, which gave him “great sorrow and unceasing pain in (his) heart,” was due to their own spiritual blindness, as foretold in the writings of the prophets. Their recent experience was in keeping with the analogy of God's dealings with them in the past, but their rejection was only partial and temporary, destined to lead in the mysterious wisdom of divine providence to a still fuller manifestation of divine goodness. “For God hath shut up all unto disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.”

After this lesson on the philosophy of history, in which the apostle seeks to justify the ways of God to men, and is moved again and again to adoration of the divine wisdom, he exhorts his readers to the cultivation of various graces and virtues as the best refutation of the charge of lawlessness to which the Gospel of the free grace of God is liable. 3 In conclusion, he sends numerous greetings to individual Christians with whom he is personally acquainted, many of whom had rendered valuable service to the Church, and with whom he had probably been brought into contact at Ephesus and other great centres.

There are several breaks in the epistle where it might have fitly terminated. This circumstance, together with variations in the arrangement of the last two chapters in some of the MSS., 5 and the blanks left in a MS. of some importance 6 where the words“ in Rome” occur in the opening chapter (vv. 7 and 14), has given rise to the idea that the

1 Chaps. ix.—xi.

2 xi. 32.


3 Chaps. xii.—xiv.

xv. 33, xvi. 20, and 24 (A.V.). 5 The closing doxology (xvi. 25-27) is absent from several MSS., in others it follows xiv. 23, and in the Alexandrine MS. it occurs there as well as at the end of our epistle. Authorities are

also divided as to the place to be assigned to the Benediction, whether at ver. 24 or at the close of the epistle. In the R.V. it is retained only in the latter place. It is suggestive, too, that the last two chapters were omitted in Marcion's copy of the epistle.

6 Cod. Harleianus (G).

epistle was sent as an encyclical or circular-letter, with varying terminations, to a number of Churches. 1

We may add that the fact of this epistle, though addressed to Romans, being written in Greek, is not only in keeping with the apostle's literary habit, but is also in accordance with the general use of Greek at that time throughout the civilised world. The Christian congregations of the first century were like so many Greek colonies, as far as language was concerned ; and it was not till the latter part of the second century that a Latin version and a Latin literature arose, chiefly for the benefit of the Christians in North Africa.2

1 The list of salutations at the close, also, is scarcely what we should have expected in a letter addressed to the Christians at Rome (where Paul had not yet been, and where “all forsook him some years later), both on account of its great length, and in several of the names and designations it contains,

Salute Epænetus, the firstfruits of Asia.“Salute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners.' “Salute Prisca and Aquila," —who were at Ephesus a year before (1 Cor. xvi. 19), and receive greetings in the same place some years later (2 Tim. iv. 19). Hence it has been conjectured that the salutations were added to the epistle when a copy of it was sent to Ephesus, which is the view taken by Schultz, Ewald, Renan, Reuss, and Farrar. On the other hand, it has to be observed that the preponderance of Greek names in the list is no argument against the Roman destination of the epistle, as the membership of the Church

at Rome was for a long time mainly of a Greek character. This need not surprise us, for “the Greeks were the most energetic, as they were also the most intelligent and inquiring of the middle classes in Rome at this time. The successful tradesmen, the skilled artisans, the confidential servants and retainers of noble houses—alm all the activity and enterprise of the common people, whether for good or for evil-were Greek." No less than ten of the names in the list (three of them comparatively rare, viz., Tryphæna, Tryphosa, and Patrobas), have been discovered in the Columbaria ("pigeon-holes"), where the ashes of the dead were placed, on the outskirts of Rome. (See Lightfoot on Philippians, pp. 169-176.)

2Even later, the ill-spelt, ill-written, inscriptions of the catacombs, with their strange intermingling of Greek and Latin characters, show that the church (in Rome) was not yet fully nationalised."-Lightfoot.



AFTER the letter to the Romans there is an interval of three or four years before we can trace any further correspondence on the part of the apostle. Leaving Corinth in the spring of 58 A.D., he made his way to Jerusalem along the coast of Macedonia and Asia Minor. In the course of his journey we find him taking farewell of one Church after another, under a strong presentiment of approaching calamity. Soon after his arrival in Jerusalem, he was arrested on account of a tumult resulting from a last effort which he made to conciliate the Jewish Christians. Removed as a prisoner to Cæsarea, he was there detained in custody for two years under the governor Felix; but, soon after the appointment of Festus as the successor of Felix, the apostle appealed for trial to the imperial judgment-seat, and was sent to Rome accordingly, under a military escort. After a disastrous voyage, in which he suffered shipwreck on the island of Malta, where he had to pass the winter, he arrived at Rome in the early summer of 61 A.D.-his long-cherished wish at length realised, but in a very different manner from what he had at one time anticipated. Owing to protracted delay in the hearing of his case—a thing by no means uncommon under the Emperors l_he remained for two years in military custody,

1 “Thus, we find that Tiberius was in the habit of delaying the hearing of causes, and retaining the accused in prison unheard, merely out of procrastination. Moreover, it was quite in accordance with the regular course of Roman jurisprudence, that the Court should grant a long suspension of the cause, on the petition of the prosecutor, that he might be allowed time to procure

the attendance of witnesses from a distance. We read of an interval of twelve months permitted during Nero's reign, in the case of an accusation against Suilius, for misdemeanours committed during his government of Proconsular Asia. The accusers of St. Paul might fairly demand a longer suspension; for they accused him of offences committed not only in Palestine (which

his right hand chained to the left hand of the soldier who guarded him. He was permitted, however, to reside in his own hired lodging, and to hold free converse with friends and visitors.

It was during this period that the epistles to the Philippians, the Colossians, Philemon, and the Ephesians were composed. Each of these epistles bears tokens of having been written during the author's imprisonment.1 It is further evident that this imprisonment was occasioned by his preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles. Some think that the imprisonment in question was that which was far more remote than Proconsular that after three days he called together Asia from Rome) but also over the whole those that were the chief of the Jews: Empire."--Conybeare and Howson, and when they were come together, he The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, said unto them, I, brethren, though I chap. xxv.

had done nothing against the people, 1 Phil. i. 7, 13, 14, 17: "I have you in or the customs of our fathers, yet was my heart, inasmuch as, both in my bonds delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into and in the defence and confirmation of the hands of the Romans: who, when the gospel, ye all are partakers with they had examined me, desired to set me of grace. So that my bonds me at liberty, because there was no became manifest in Christ throughout cause of death in me. But when the the whole prætorian guard, and to all Jews spake against it, I was constrained the rest ; and that most of the to appeal unto Cæsar; not that I had brethren in the Lord, being confident aught to accuse my nation of. For this through my bonds, are more abundantly cause therefore did I intreat you to see bold to speak the word of God without and to speak with me: for because of fear. But the other proclaim the hope of Israel I am bound with this Christ of faction, not sincerely, thinking chain.' to raise up affliction for me in my 2 Col. i. 24-27 : “Now I rejoice in bonds." Col. iv. 3, 18: “Withal pray- my sufferings for your sake, and fill up ing for us also, that God may open unto on my part that which is lacking of the us a door for the word, to speak the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his mystery of Christ, for which I am also body's sake, which is the church ; in bonds; The salutation of me whereof I was made a minister, accordPaul with mine own hand. Remember ing to the dispensation of God which my bonds.

Grace be with you. was given me to you-ward, to fulfil the Philemon 9, 10, 13: “Yet for love's sake word of God, even the mystery which I rather beseech, being such a one as hath been hid from all ages and generaPaul the aged, and now a prisoner also tions : but now hath it been manifested of Christ Jesus: I beseech thee for my to his saints, to whom God was pleased child, whom I have begotten in my to make known what is the riches of the bonds, whom I would fain have glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, kept with me, that in thy behalf he which is Christ in you, the hope of might minister unto me in the bonds of glory." Eph. vi. 19, 20: “And on my the gospel.” Eph. iii. 1, iv. 1: “For this behalf, that utterance may be given unto cause i Paul, the prisoner of Christ me in opening my mouth, to make Jesus in behalf of you Gentiles. known with boldness the mystery of the I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, gospel, for which I am an ambassador beseech you to walk worthily of the in chains; that in it I may speak calling wherewith ye were called.” Cf. boldly, as I ought to speak." Cf. Acts Acts xxviii. 16-20: “And when we xxii. 21, 22: “ And he said unto me, entered into Rome, Paul was suffered Depart: for I will send thee forth far to abide by himself with the soldier that hence unto the Gentiles. And they guarded him. And it came to pass, (i.e. the crowd in Jerusalem) gave him

the apostle underwent at Cæsarea. But in several respects the circumstances referred to in the epistles harmonise better with his stay in Rome. (a) The impression made by his bonds which “became manifest in Christ throughout the whole prætorian guard, and to all the rest," 2 and the mention of “ Cæsar's household,” 3 point to the imperial city as the scene of his influence. (6) The apostle's purpose of visiting Macedonia after his release would not answer to his state of mind while he was looking forward to a visit to Rome.4 (c) The expression used in the Book of Acts to describe Paul's confinement, namely “this chain," is almost identical with the language of the epistle to the Ephesians on the same subject 5; while the same cannot be said of the apostle's allusion to his condition at Cæsarea when he replied to Agrippa, “I would to God, that whether with little or with much, not thou only, but also all that hear me this day, might become such as I am, except these bonds."6

audience unto this word; and they lifted up their voice, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live." Acts xxvi. 19-21: “Wherefore, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision : but declared both to them of Damascus first, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judæa, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance. For this cause the Jews seized me in the temple, and assayed to kill me.” See also note 1.

i This is the view taken by Meyer and Reuss-contrary to the ancient and prevailing opinion of the Church.

2 The result of so many soldiers in their turn coming into close contact with the apostle during his military custody. Phil. i. 12, 13: "Now I would have you know, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the gospel ; so that my bonds became manifest in Christ throughout the whole prætorian guard, and to all the rest. Col. i. 6: “the gospel which is come unto you; even as it is also in all the world bearing fruit and increasing, as it doth in you also.” “The camp and the court were always centres of Christianising influence.”—Mommsen.

3 Phil. iv. 22: "All the saints salute you, especially they that are of Cæsar's household. Cæsar's household (“domus" or "familia Cæsaris ") formed an immense establishment, including thousands of slaves and freedmen employed in all kinds of official and domestic duties (as we learn from recently discovered monuments in Rome), such as those of tutor, accountant, secretary, land-steward, librarian, money-changer, architect, surgeon, oculist, and other offices of a more menial character. A “chief of the tasters (procurator prægustatorum) is mentioned, implying that these were numerous enough to form a separate class. In such a household, Greeks and Orientals would prevail, even more than in the city at large. 4 Phil. ii. 19, 24:

“But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.... But I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall come shortly.'

5 Acts xxviii. 20: “ Because of the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain” (την άλυσιν ταύτην περίκειμαι).

Eph. vi. 20: “ for which I am an ambassador in chains" (or"in a chain," R.V. margin, év ålúoel).

6 Acts xxvi. 29: των δεσμών τούτων.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »