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The first half of the epistle is thus for the most part a hymn of praise for the grace of God manifested according to His good pleasure which He had purposed in himself, accompanied with the apostle's prayer for his readers that they may realise the glory of their calling. Hence it was Calvin's favourite epistle, as Galatians was of Luther.
In the second part the apostle descends by a swift and beautiful transition to the duties of common life, “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called ” (iv. 1). He thus introduces a series of practical exhortations based on the ideal unity of the Church as the harmonious body of Christ, and embracing the various forms of social and domestic duty to which “the new man " is called in the ordinary relations of life. Finally there is a stirring call to put on the whole armour of God for the conflict with the powers of evil, expressed in the language of a metaphor which may have been suggested to Paul by his military surroundings at Rome, and forming a passage of great force and beauty, which of itself would make this epistle a precious heritage of the Church.
The catholic nature of this epistle shows that the apostle's education was well-nigh complete. The Saviour, whom he only knew at his conversion as the Risen One dwelling in another world, has become to him as an allpervading Presence which may be realised even now in the sphere of common life, as the type of all affection and the centre of all authority, in the State and in the family as well as in the Church. During his residence at Rome, the seat of empire and the centre of the world's secular life, Paul learned, as he had never yet done, th
1 Compare, for example, his view of marriage, the original and central relationship of human life, in this epistle (v. 22-33), and in 1 Cor. (xi.), written about five years before.
meaning of the Saviour's prayer, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 1
1 “When Paul reached Rome, he began to see after the manner of Rome. The kingdom of God to him took that form which the kingdom of Cæsar assumed to the Latin race—the form of a membership which was connected with all other memberships. . . . What the citizens of the empire beheld merely as a coin bearing the superscription of Cæsar was reflected to his gaze with the stamp and impress of the Son of man. Instead of contemplating, as in days of yore, the dissolution of its life, he began to contemplate the Christianising of its life” (Matheson, Spiritual Development of St. Paul).
THE PASTORAL EPISTLES
1 and 2 Timothy and Titus are known as the Pastoral Epistles, because they relate chiefly to the qualifications and duties of office-bearers entrusted with the pastoral care of the Church.
They are distinguished from all the other epistles of Paul by their want of historical agreement with any period in the life of the apostle as recorded in the Book of Acts, and also by their strongly-marked individuality alike in style and substance. Hence their genuineness has been more called in question than any of the other epistles of Paul - notwithstanding a large amount of external testimony in their favour.
The objections taken to them, however, on those grounds are almost entirely obviated if we suppose them to have been written subsequently to the events narrated in the Book of Acts. This is a supposition that in itself involves no improbability. It was Paul's own expectation (Phil. ii. 24; Philemon, ver. 22) that he would be released from the imprisonment in which the Book of Acts leaves him; and for this expectation he seems to have had sufficient grounds in the inadequacy of the evidence brought against him, as well as in the tolerant attitude of the Roman Government previous to the great fire in Rome (64 A.D.), which was falsely attributed to the Christians and brought terrible persecutions in its train. Moreover, there is an early and general tradition to the effect that he was released. Assuming that his liberation did take place, the difficulty of harmonising the epistles with his life disappears; while the late date of their composition -possibly some years after his release—would go far to account for the peculiarity of their contents. It is no wonder that questions of discipline and government as well as of orthodoxy should now receive from the apostle a larger measure of attention than they had done hitherto, considering the growing needs of the Church, arising from the gradual expansion of its organisations as a corporate body held together by a common creed. The Church had now been for many years a visible institution with officebearers of its own; and important doctrines had been vindicated and established. To conserve these doctrines and to provide for the regular superintendence of the Church after he and the other apostles had passed away, was Paul's great object in writing these epistles.?
The idea that the epistles may have been the products of a later age is
many respects untenable. Both as regards the office-bearers mentioned, namely, bishops and deacons, and the doctrinal needs and dangers of the
1 “If Paul's trial had resulted in conviction and punishment, it would have formed a precedent which must have been followed in other cases for a considerable time previous to 64 A.D.-all the more so because he was a Roman citizen. But this is inconsistent with the statements of Tacitus” (Prof. Ramsay, Expositor, July 1893).
2 The large infusion of new words (i.e. words not elsewhere used by the apostle) is in accordance with the gradual expansion of his vocabulary, which is evident on a comparison of Paul's successive writings ; and, in particular, many of these words are new simply because the things they signify had not previously come within the scope of the apostle's teaching. For it must be remembered that the Pastoral Epistles differ widely from the other writings of St. Paul alike as regards their recipients—friends and colleagues, not congregations—and the ecclesiastical questions with which they deal.
Church, they remind us far more of the state of things existing during Paul's first imprisonment at Rome, when he wrote Philippians and Colossians, than of anything in the second century. By the latter time the name of “bishop” had been appropriated to a chief dignitary ruling over the presbyters" or elders, instead of being applied as here to the presbyters themselves as the overseers of the congregation (Titus i. 5, 7, cf. Acts xx. 17-28).
Moreover, the "knowledge falsely so called " which is denounced in these epistles comes far short of the elaborate Gnosticism of the second century, which set itself in direct opposition to the orthodox faith, and repudiated all affinity with the Jewish law.1
1. Authorship. The strong external evidence in favour of the genuineness of this epistle has been already mentioned. We can hear echoes of its language as far back as the close of the first century. A hundred years later we find it universally accepted as Paul's, although it had been rejected in the course of the second century by one or two heretical writers, owing to the difficulty of reconciling its teaching with their favourite tenets.
In a general sense its peculiarities in language and
1 The errors which the apostle here combats are evidently of a vague and unformed character, awaiting further development, as he indicates by his references to the future ; and in particular they bear traces of that semi-Jewish character which we know to have belonged to Christian Gnosticism in its earlier stages. In this respect, as well as in the morbid asceticism professed by the false teachers, the corrupt form of Christianity that meets us here is very similar to that which is dealt with in the Epistle to the Colossians,—but exhibited in a somewhat ranker growth.
2 Marcion and Basilides.