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Words from GOD – Words to GOD

St.Paul, part II- Developement of career in GOD´s Kingdom- by Archbishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz



“That the truth of the Gospel might continue with you” (Gal. 2:5).
1. The Doctrinal Issue Raised by the Judaizers.—The indignation of the party of the circumcision in the church at Jerusalem over Peter’s conduct at Cæsarea in going into a Gentile’s house (Acts 11:3) had subsided when they saw that Peter had done this by divine direction (11:18). They acquiesced in the conversion of the Gentiles and held their peace for the present. Events at Antioch had already led them to send Barnabas up there, but Barnabas, instead of reporting to the Pharisees, went on saving the Greeks. The fires of prejudice were not quenched, but were only smouldering. Barnabas and Saul had prudently brought a contribution from the church at Antioch to the poor saints in Jerusalem. But this formal campaign on the part of Paul and Barnabas among the Greeks was more than the Judaizers had bargained for. They saw visions of Gentile Christians who might outnumber the Jewish Christians, take charge of Christianity, and divert it from Judaism. News had come to Jerusalem of the great success of Paul and Barnabas. The matter had already been overlooked too long. Some of the Judaizers decided to save the Kingdom by going up to Antioch and laying down the law to Paul and Barnabas. They had not obtained the consent of the Jerusalem church, the mother church, for this Gentile propaganda.
The term Judaizer is applied technically to those Jewish Christians who felt that the Gentiles could not be saved without becoming also Jews. The Gentiles must be Judaized as well as Christianized. Christianity was not adequate of itself. Judaism must be added. Now, originally, before the vision on the housetop at Joppa and the work at Cæsarea, this had apparently been Peter’s view also. It was clearly never the view of Jesus who had other sheep not of the Jewish fold (John 10:16). In enjoining his followers to make disciples of all the nations he had not said that they were to be circumcised or Judaized (Matt. 28:19 f.). But the disciples were Jews first, then Christians. When Christianity diverged from Judaism, as it did in the conversion of the Gentiles, they had, some of them, difficulty in shaking off the Jewish point of view. Some of them continued more Pharisee than Christian. There was already a party of the circumcision (Acts 11:2), a Pharisaic party inside the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:5). Here is the origin of the first cleavage among the early Christians. It springs out of the mission problem as have so many divisions in the centuries since due to the prejudices of race, creed or custom. It is the spirit of Pharisaism redivivus in Christianity. Pharisaism had killed Jesus, but not Christianity. That attack was from outside the fold. Now the Pharisaic ceremonialism lifts its hand from inside the walls to smite the spiritual conception of religion. It is the eternal conflict between the spirit and the letter, a battle that rages to-day in every Christian land.
Paul knows this spirit of intolerance better than the Judaizers themselves. He had once been its foremost exponent. It is a curious turn of the wheel of fortune that the man who rejoiced in the death of Stephen for preaching spiritual worship independently of the temple should be the man who will wage the great battle for Gentile freedom. Stephen fought the fight for the spiritual conception of religion against the Pharisees (as did Jesus). Paul has to fight for the spiritual gospel against the Judaizers. The regulators from Jerusalem came up to Antioch and put the matter bluntly: “Except ye be circumcised after the custom of Moses, ye cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1). There was the Christian law laid down for the Gentiles by disciples from Jerusalem! If they were right all the work of Paul and Barnabas at Antioch and on the recent mission tour was for naught. They should go back and Judaize the saints. Would Paul agree to that programme? He had not so learned Christ. Could he be mistaken? If these men were right, Christianity was small gain. He would not go back to the husks of Pharisaism after renouncing it at so great cost. These things were gain to him once, but not now. He did not believe that Peter and James held such views. He was sure that this was not the real spirit of the Old Testament teaching concerning the Messianic reign. There was only one thing to do. It would cause discussion. This was plain. But he would resist any attempt to bring the Gentiles under the bondage of Mosaic ceremonial law, not to say Pharisaism. He knew the emptiness of tithing the mint and anise of rabbinism. He loved his Greek converts too much to see this calamity befall them. And he loved Christ too much to see him so misinterpreted. The church at Antioch stood with Paul and Barnabas. Would there be a split on the issue? Will the church at Jerusalem side with the Judaizers? That would be a great misfortune.
2. The Appeal to Jerusalem.—It was a solemn moment. The issue of Paul’s life was upon him. Had he and Barnabas faltered, a Judaized Christianity might have conquered the world instead of a Pauline or spiritual conception of the kingdom (Rom. 14:17). It is a great mark of the true statesman to see the real issues involved in a controversy. Paul and Barnabas showed themselves equal to this great occasion by seeing at once that the very essence of Christianity was at stake. Spiritual Christianity was meeting the icy hand of formalism and traditionalism. It was Christianity by itself or Christianity plus ceremonialism. Paul was a man of peace, but not peace at any price, not peace at the cost of principle. The pathos of Christian history is that not long after Paul’s great victory was won this very perversion of Christianity did triumph. But his victory was not in vain. The inspiring record of what he here won is a constant challenge to men to win and maintain spiritual freedom. He will have to fight the battle again in the letter to the Galatians, and that Epistle was Luther’s bugle-note in the Reformation.
We do not know at whose suggestion the appeal to Jerusalem was made. “Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them” were appointed to take the matter up with “the Apostles and elders” in Jerusalem (Acts 15:2). It was the action of the church (verse 3), but most likely Paul really proposed the matter. He tells us himself (Gal. 2:2) that he “went up by revelation.” He had probably gone to the Lord about this great question, and this was the answer, to consult the Jerusalem brethren. It is not necessary to make an elaborate discussion of the reasons for taking Gal. 2 and Acts 15 to refer to the same visit to Jerusalem. That is still the position of most scholars. There are difficulties in this view, but not insuperable ones, and fewer than in any other. Thus we take it that Luke gives the story of the conference in its general aspects, while Paul gives the story of the private conference which really gave shape to the public meeting. It is to be recalled that Paul wrote first and that in his Epistle he is discussing the independence of his authority. It was in the private meeting that this issue came up. Luke in all probability never saw the Epistle to the Galatians, and wrote obviously and naturally about the general subject. There is surely no real contradiction in Paul’s remark about a special revelation to him and Luke’s mention of the action of the church.
But why go to the Jerusalem church at all? Was not the church at Antioch independent of the church in Jerusalem? They had not asked the consent or advice of the Jerusalem church in the matter of Barnabas and Saul’s going on the mission tour. Why do it now? Was there not danger of having a yoke put upon their necks? A number or common-sense reasons occur to one. There must be no cleavage between these two great churches on this subject. There must be no schism, not two denominations, one Jewish, one Gentile. Besides, these Judaizers belonged to the church at Jerusalem. They had tried to get the church at Antioch to take sides against Paul and Barnabas. It would be only fair to see if the Jerusalem church would not take a stand with Paul and Barnabas against their own Judaizing members. Moreover, the other Apostles, the Twelve, were members of the church at Jerusalem. This fact would necessarily give great weight to the opinion of the mother church in the present emergency. A concordat, in which the great Jewish church and the great Gentile church agreed, would settle the matter with all sensible men. Paul would take pains to make it plain to the Apostles and all concerned that he did not come to Jerusalem to receive orders from anybody. He came to confer with them as equals about this great question of Gentile liberty in the churches.
To Jerusalem then both sides go. Paul and Barnabas tell the story of the conversion of the Gentiles as they pass through Phœnicia and Samaria and cause great joy to the brethren (Acts 15:3). Already there are churches here. Naturally no objection to the Gentile cause would be raised in these parts.
3. The First Public Meeting in Jerusalem.—A general meeting was called (Acts 15:4) to hear the story of Paul and Barnabas. They knew how to tell it and it had a wonderful effect on the audience. Already it was plain that the church at Jerusalem sanctioned the work of God by the hands of Paul and Barnabas. But the Pharisaic party were not going to surrender without a fight. They “rose up” saying: “It is needful to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses” (15:5). There it was! The church had the ipse dixit of the Pharisaic Christians. It would be presumption to oppose the position of these intensely orthodox brethren. They sat down. Somebody must have moved to adjourn, a very convenient parliamentary device at times, unless James adjourned for dinner or pronounced the benediction. In verse 6 we are told that they “were gathered together to consider of this matter,” a reference to a second meeting. But the issue was sharply joined in public at Jerusalem. What will Paul do now? He tells us himself.
4. Paul’s Stand for Gentile Liberty.—He probably called a meeting of the Apostles present and the elders, the leading spirits in the church. He did not wish an unseemly public wrangle with these Judaizers. He was no more concerned about them. He had said his say to them at Antioch. Peter, John and James, in particular, were the men that he wished to see. If he and they saw eye to eye, it mattered little about the rest. He had no reason to suspect the position of these great exponents of Christianity, but there was nothing like talking things over in private. In a public debate there were all sorts of chances for misunderstanding. It was plain that the Judaizers had made some impression by their bold, positive stand for traditional Judaism. Paul never showed greater wisdom than when he gathered these “pillars” of the church and “laid before them the gospel” which he preached among the Gentiles (Gal. 2:2). These men knew what Jesus preached, if anybody did. He had no fear of the outcome. He did not acknowledge their superiority to him at all, nor had he received his message from them (2:6). He was sure that they would understand his message, that they were not Judaizers. He was right. “They perceived the grace that was given” unto Paul (2:9), and they shook hands all round as equals who agreed on this great issue of Gentile freedom. Paul had carried his point. Paul’s own apostleship is thus freely acknowledged by the other Apostles, though it will be later attacked by the Judaizers. The rights of Gentile Christianity are freely admitted.
It seems clear that there were some timid brethren in the private meeting, perhaps some of the elders, who were willing to make a compromise in order to hold on to the Judaizers. Paul sharply resented the idea of surrender to these Judaizers, “false brethren” he even calls them, for the sake of peace, “who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus” (verse 4). They took special umbrage at the fact that Paul had brought along with him Titus, a Greek Christian, who had not been circumcised. He had with him a live specimen to illustrate the point in dispute. It was proposed that the principle could be discussed to better advantage if Titus were first circumcised. But Paul stood his ground firmly and refused (verse 5, thus reads this somewhat involved sentence). “The truth of the gospel” was at stake in the case of Titus. The apparent inconsistency of Paul in circumcising Timothy will be treated later.
Paul and the leaders did agree on a general sort of division of work. Paul and Barnabas would devote themselves specially to the Gentile work, while James, Cephas and John would labor especially among the Jews. But the matter was not an absolute division, as the future showed. It was hinted (2:10) that Paul and Barnabas should continue to remember the poor at Jerusalem as they had been doing. Had they forgotten it this time? Paul will one day remember this point with a great collection. They are now ready for another public meeting. Probably the programme of the proceedings was agreed on in the main, for everything will now go smoothly. There is wisdom for brethren in responsible positions in the kingdom.
5. The Victory Over the Judaizers.—It was a victory, not a compromise, as can be shown. One must not overlook the “much questioning” (Acts 15:7) which came first in the second public gathering. It would appear that full opportunity was given for the Judaizers to say all that they wished. After all desire for public controversy had been satisfied, Peter “rose up” and spoke. The Judaizers would probably look with suspicion on him since his experience at Cæsarea, but, still, they had not given him up. He was the great speaker among the Twelve, and the Judaizers had probably tried to use his name against Paul as they did later in Corinth. His opinion is bound to carry weight. He reminds the audience how this is not a new matter at all. He had himself been before the church once on this very point. They had all agreed that the conversion of Cornelius was the work of the Lord, as shown by the bestowal of the Holy Spirit. They had not demanded that Cornelius should be circumcised. Besides, they had not as Jews been able to bear this yoke of the law. Why impose it on the Gentiles? As Jews they had to believe just as the Gentiles (15:7–11). Every word told in favor of Paul’s contention. Peter and Paul agree here as they do later in their Epistles on the doctrines of grace and Gentile liberty.
Peter’s speech made a profound impression. Nobody seemed willing to answer it. Finally, Barnabas and Paul (probably in this order, verse 12) told their Story again, to refresh the minds and hearts of the brethren.
After a further pause James, the leading elder and apparently the President of the Conference, arose and addressed the body (15:14–21). Every one would wish to hear his opinion, for he was regarded as thoroughly Jewish. The Judaizers had hoped to win him, as they later will use his name to frighten Peter (Gal. 2:12). He seems deliberate and begs for attention. He refers to Symeon’s (note the Jewish form of the name as in 2 Pet. 1:1) speech with approval. At once then he takes sides with Paul and Barnabas. He does a characteristic thing for a Jew. He shows how this whole matter of the incoming of the Gentiles was foretold in the Prophets (Am. 9:11 f.). That is enough for him after all that they have heard of God’s blessing and what they knew already of the work of God at Cæsarea. He is ready with his “judgment.” It is in favor of letting the Gentiles alone (verse 19). He offers a suggestion that this body send an epistle to the Gentiles expressing their opinion that they be careful to avoid a great sin to which they were specially subject and respect the Jewish feelings on two other matters. There was no need to worry about Moses. That was a Jewish, not a Gentile problem, and the Jews had synagogues everywhere. As yet the Jewish Christians had not ceased to worship in the synagogue (cf. also Jas. 2:2).
It was a powerful plea that covered the whole ground and brought matters to a focus. The wonderful part about it was that the verdict was unanimous in favor of the resolution, if one may so call it, of James (verse 22). One can hardly suppose that the Judaizers voted for it. They probably remained in sullen silence, completely overcome, and in utter defeat. The proposal of James about a letter was agreed to, and two leading brethren, Judas and Silas, were appointed with Paul and Barnabas to convey the decision of the conference to Antioch and Syria and Cilicia. The epistle is not in the form of a command. James had used the word “judgment.” The word “seemed good” is the term used in the epistle itself (verse 28). They claim the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the conclusions reached. The epistle disclaims responsibility for the troublesome and arrogant attitude of the Judaizers (verse 24) and is very full of appreciation of the work of Paul and Barnabas (verse 25 f.). No demands are made of the Gentile Christians outside of the well-known Christian principles, except these “necessary” things (verse 28). Fornication was a dire peril in the Gentile world, and they needed warning on that point (cf. the Epistles later also). The question of meats offered to idols is not on the same plane, but can become in certain phases of it a very serious matter (cf. 1 Cor.10:14–22). It will give Paul trouble in the future. He did not regard this decision as a “law,” for in 1 Cor. 8–10 and Rom. 14 f. he discusses the matter in its fundamental aspects. Some phases of the subject were open to question. But he has won the great thing. It would not be wise to stickle over a small point. Besides, idolatry was another ever-present temptation to the Gentiles (1 Cor. 10:14). The matter of “things strangled” was a concession to Jewish feeling that the Gentiles would not complain of. In fine, the Gentiles were not to become Jews. That was the great thing. They were to be careful about fornication and idolatry, their great temptations, as they ought to do. They could well afford to respect Jewish feeling in a matter like things strangled. There is the spirit of concession here and love, but not of compromise of principle. As to the actual working out of the matter of meats offered to idols that lies in the future. All this is very subordinate and relatively unimportant in the light of the victory for Gentile freedom, for spiritual Christianity, so gloriously won.
One will be pardoned a word as to the prominence of James in this work. The epistle sent is much like his speech and may have been written by him. It has often been noted how both speech and epistle resemble the Epistle of James written by the same noble man, and probably just before this conference. He makes no attacks on real Judaism, but he takes his stand with Paul and Peter for liberty and progress.
6. The Reception of the Victory at Antioch.—They were naturally jubilant in this Greek centre that the Jerusalem church had taken their view of the situation (Acts 15:30–35). It was, indeed, a “consolation” not to have a schism, for the Greeks would not become Jews. Judas and Silas were prophets and gave vent to many words. It was a good time all round. They at last returned to Jerusalem, while Paul and Barnabas and many others went on preaching the Word.
7. Peter’s Temporary Defection at Antioch.—It is Paul who tells this painful incident (Gal. 2:11–21). He does it only to show his independence of the other Apostles, not to cast reflection on Peter. But it was the sequel of the battle for Gentile freedom, indeed the same struggle renewed in another form. In the course of time Peter came up to Antioch to see how this great work went. The wonder is that he had not come sooner. But he was now publicly aligned with Paul and Barnabas and he could come with no possible misunderstanding. Peter’s impulsive nature went the whole way this time. He “ate with the Gentiles.” He had done this with apologies to Cornelius (Acts 10:28; 11:3), but now he made no excuses about it. He acted just like Paul and Barnabas. The Jerusalem conference had not passed on the question of social usages between Jewish and Gentile Christians. So the Judaizers have fresh cause for a quarrel if they wish it.
Perhaps news of what Peter is doing comes to Jerusalem. The Judaizers are quick to see the chance to reopen the controversy which had not been settled to please them. As before, so now they come up with assertion of infallibility and authority. They claim to be “from James.” The claim need not be true because they made it. We know that James had agreed with Paul at Jerusalem. It is possible, of course, that some of the brethren may have asked James before they left if they thought Jews ought to have cordial social relations with Gentiles, and may have received a negative reply. We know that later (Acts 21:20 ff.) he is anxious for Paul to disabuse the minds of the brethren of the charge that Paul opposed the maintenance of the Mosaic customs on the part of Jewish Christians. But I do not believe that James sent a message of condemnation of Peter’s conduct in eating with the Gentiles.
But, when confronted by the Judaizers with the threat to tell James about it, Peter changed his conduct, though not his convictions. It was a piece of cowardice, like his dreadful denial of Jesus to the servants of the high priest. “He drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision.” He was not brave enough to face possible social ostracism in Jerusalem or another trouble in the church there (Acts 11:3). Paul felt very strongly on the subject. He charged Peter with hypocrisy and not standing to his real convictions. Peter “stood condemned” when Paul “resisted him to the face.” Poor Peter. He can now answer neither Greek nor Judaizer.
The worst of it was that all the other Jews followed Peter’s example. If it was wrong for Peter, it was wrong for them. Paul and Barnabas stood alone. They had lived with the Gentiles apparently on the tour as well as in Antioch. But soon Barnabas also deserted Paul. It was the first break that had come between Paul and Barnabas. This was a cut, indeed, to the quick. It was hard to stand up against Peter and call him “Judaizer” “before them all” (2:14). He expounded to Peter the fundamental gospel principle of justification by faith (15–21) to help him see his inconsistency. It was Paul contra mundum. Suppose he had faltered? The victory of Gentile freedom would have been seriously endangered if not lost. Eternal vigilance is indeed the price of liberty. But Paul’s boldness won back both Peter and Barnabas. They afterward are on friendly terms with Paul. This passage in Galations really presents the essential ideas of the Pauline theology which Paul explained to Peter, “for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for naught” (verse 21). If Moses must be added to Christ, Moses is greater than Christ. Indeed Christ in that case made a useless sacrifice of himself. The Judaizers, in truth, “belonged more to Moses than to Jesus.” Peter had to face “the overwhelming dilemma” that either faith in Christ was sufficient or it was not sufficient.2 In fact, he had already faced that question (Acts 15:10 f.). Paul now sharply brought him back to the light.
8. The Controversy Reopened.—The Judaizers are greatly encouraged at the momentary sympathy on this point which they had obtained from Peter and Barnabas. They see a new line of battle. It is to isolate Paul, to drive a wedge in between him and the Jerusalem Apostles. They will claim at Corinth to have letters from the Apostles (2 Cor. 3:1). They will undertake some missionary work on their own account, “a counter-mission.” They lost at the Jerusalem conference, but they have made headway at Antioch. They will appeal to Paul’s own converts on the field and seek to shake his authority with them. They will use the concessions at Jerusalem to Paul’s hurt. Henceforth a double campaign will be waged over the world. Paul and his coadjutors will carry the gospel from province to province in the Roman Empire. The Judaizers will follow in his train and dog his steps, maligning his name and preaching the gospel of ceremonialism, while Paul proclaims the gospel of grace. Paul will win the lost to Christ. The Judaizers will seek to save the saved, to rescue them from Paulinism and save them to Pharisaic orthodoxy. They will have only too great success in Galatia and Corinth. Paul will go on with foes in front and in the rear.


“Come over into Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9).
1. The Break with Barnabas.—The missionary fever soon returned to Paul. He must go out again. So he proposes to Barnabas that they visit the churches which they had established. Manifestly Paul and Barnabas are on good terms again. Barnabas has come back to Paul’s view in the matter of social relations with the Gentiles. Paul was too great a soul to cherish against one a temporary lapse like that. He had confidence in Barnabas, as in Peter, in spite of their faltering before the Judaizers. It is possible, however, that Barnabas was a little sensitive on the score of Paul’s rebuke. It had, perhaps, brought up sharply the whole story of Paul’s forging ahead of him in the work. But the recent unpleasantness made it necessary for Paul to take the initiative. They do not now wait for another revelation of the Holy Spirit to spur them on. Barnabas agreed and all seemed well.
But Barnabas made an unfortunate suggestion, that they try Mark again. One can see very easily how Barnabas would wish to give his kinsman another chance. He would reason that he was young, that the experience had taught him a lesson, and that he felt sure that Mark would be faithful this time. Paul undoubtedly wished Mark well, but he did not wish to experiment with him a second time. The risk was too great in a work of this nature. Let Mark first show himself a man by sticking to his work. Judgment of men is a very difficult matter, but very essential to success. People inevitably have the right to differ about personal likes and dislikes. One need not decide who was right here, Paul or Barnabas. There was something to say on both sides. The contention between them was “sharp,” as is common in personal matters. It is a sad story at best. If it were the only case in Christian history! “They parted asunder one from the other” (Acts 15:39). Henceforth Paul and Barnabas never work together.
They will work separately. They agree to disagree. They drop the matter and do not nag each other. Paul will later allude to Barnabas (1 Cor. 9:6) in a most pleasant way, showing that he bore no resentment and that Barnabas was still at work. Luke drops Barnabas from his story, for he will follow Paul. One could wish for more knowledge of this generous spirit who did so much for Paul and for Christ. It is always pathetic to see estrangement come between two who have been so much to each other.
Barnabas takes Mark and goes to Cyprus, his old home. Mark will learn his lesson. He doubtless was humiliated by Paul’s refusal to take him along. But it did him good. Later he will be of service to Peter (1 Pet. 5:13) and to Paul (Philem. 24; Col. 4:10; 2 Tim. 4:11). A young minister can overcome his failings. Mark the inefficient becomes Mark the useful to Paul for ministry. But the world looks drear for Barnabas and Mark as they leave Antioch. The sympathy of the church is with Paul (Acts 15:40).
2. Paul’s New Campaign with Silas.—Silas (Latin Silvanus) had shown himself in full sympathy with Paul at Jerusalem and Antioch. He was a prophet and apparently of more age and force than Mark. Indeed, he takes the place of Barnabas, not Mark. Paul turns to the other part of the former tour, Since Barnabas had gone to Cyprus. They pass through some of the churches of Syria as they go by land on toward Galatia by a more direct way than in the former trip. Both here and in Cilicia Paul had already labored so that he will have a cordial welcome (Gal. 1:21 f.). He strengthened the churches.
Ramsay suggests that Luke fails to make any comment on the realm of Antiochus between Cilicia and Derbe (in Galatia) since it was “non-Roman territory and out of Paul’s plans.” Already, according to Ramsay, Paul has the purpose of converting the Roman Empire to Christ.
3. Lystra: Finding of Timothy.—No incident is mentioned at Derbe when Paul comes upon the track of his previous journey, but at Lystra Paul finds another companion for his work. Timothy was a child of Paul’s in the Gospel (1 Tim. 1:2). His mother, a Jewess, had also believed, but his father, a Greek, is not said to be a Christian. Already Timothy has a good reputation both in Lystra and Iconium (Acts 16:2). It is a great thing to discover a preacher. Paul made no mistake in choosing Timothy to go with him. He will never flicker as Mark had done. This young man will be one of the chief joys of Paul’s ministry. Timothy agrees to go, but Paul first has him circumcised so that he will not be obnoxious to the Jews. The case is not similar to that of Titus, who was a pure Greek. Timothy, being half Jew and half Greek, was in an anomalous position. So he became a Jew also. No matter of principle was involved in his case and prudential reasons ruled.
4. Paul Lives up to the Jerusalem Agreement.—They proceed on the journey and deliver “the decrees to keep which had been ordained of the Apostles and elders that were at Jerusalem” (Acts 16:4). They had been duplicated so that a copy could be left in each church. The decree or decision would come in well if any effort should be made to enforce Judaism on them. Paul delivered this document after he had had Timothy circumcised, evidently seeing no contradiction between the two. The epistle was not meant as a law to bind the Gentiles. It was rather a charter of freedom from Judaism. The Gentile Christians were already, of course, opposing idolatry and fornication. They show no reluctance to agree to Jewish feeling about meats offered to idols and things strangled. The trouble at Corinth about meats offered to idols comes after the Judaizers have been there and brings up aspects of the subject not contemplated in the Jerusalem epistle. But Paul is not allowing the fact that the Judaizers had reopened the controversy at Antioch on the ground of social relations with the Gentiles to keep him from loyal adherence to the agreement made in Jerusalem. Ramsay thinks that the Judaizers will later use these decrees and Paul’s circumcision of Timothy as an argument for their contention. Hence he thinks Paul soon ceased to say anything more about the decrees. The Galatians were led to desert Paul, he argues.
5. Hedged in by the Spirit of Jesus.—“And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden of the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia” (Acts 16:6). Few historical statements in Acts have caused more comment over the geographical details. The natural way of taking this passage is that Paul has in verse 5 finished the region of Lycaonia (South Galatia), and had planned to go into Asia (Roman province) to the west, probably aiming to go on to Ephesus. But the Holy Spirit forbade that. Hence he turned north-west through the Phrygio-Galatic region. This is the normal way to understand the correct Greek text. He went on into another part of the province of Galatia after leaving South Galatia. It is still a question whether “the region of Phrygia and Galatia” means the Phrygian part of the Galatic province rather than the Phrygian part of the Asian province, in addition to Galatia. The margin of the American Revision has “Phrygia and the region of Galatia,” which would imply two separate parts rather than two names for one region. According to this view Paul went north through the Phrygian region after leaving Lycaonia and went on into Galatia proper (old Galatia). According to the other view he may not have touched old or North Galatia at all, or he may have gone through only the western side of Galatia proper. This latter modification (North-western Galatia) is the view of Findlay in his article on Paul in Hastings’ “D. B.” It is just one of those questions that may never be settled satisfactorily, though a turn of the spade some day may put the matter at rest. Ramsay has ably advocated the position that Paul never entered Galatia proper (North Galatia) at all, but only Lycaonia, Pisidia, and Phrygia. Then he wrote only to the churches of South Galatia. This view has many attractions, but still has grave critical difficulties in its way. To be sure, Paul may have gone on this trip to Galatia (the western end) and still have written only to South Galatia. But it remains true that the incidental manner in which Luke, in Acts 16:6 f., mentions the journey suits best the accidental way in which Paul comes to preach to the readers of the Epistle (Gal. 4:13). But the question is too large for minute discussion in this volume, though I still think that Paul probably had the real Galatians in mind in his Epistle, to whom he went for the first time in the second missionary tour. We know from the Galatian Epistles that he had success with them and was kindly treated by the volatile Celts (Gal. 4:14 f.).
Luke seems to hurry over this portion of the trip in the desire to reach Troas. Ramsay may be right also in suggesting that the desertion of the Galatians led Paul to say little about them to Luke. Findlay finds the explanation of Luke’s silence about the North Galatian work in the fact that it was off the main line and a sort of “parenthesis” in Paul’s labors. It is clear that the northern part of the province of Galatia (or north-western) was reached, because Paul tried to go on into Bithynia. Here he was debarred again by the Spirit of Jesus. Two rebuffs on the same trip would have discouraged some men. Paul was not allowed to go west into Asia, nor north into Bithynia. But he had no notion of turning back home in disgust. He pushed on to the north-west through the edge of Asia by Mysia to Troas. He was pressed by the Spirit, not backward, but forward.
6. The Macedonian Call and Luke.—Troas was full of memories of Europe which it faced. This region was that of Priam and Agamemnon, of Xerxes, of Julius Cæsar, of Alexander. Once the European conqueror of Asia stopped here, but Conybeare and Howson do not put it too strongly when they say that we are more concerned with the memories of Paul than of Alexander. In a sense Alexander’s conquest of Asia made possible Paul’s conquest of Europe for Christ. The triumph of the Greek culture had unified the world. Roman sway had conserved the Greek culture. Both Roman power and Greek culture are the servants and agents of Paul as he stands upon the shores of the Ægean Sea and faces the problem of Europe. It is one of those eras in history which give one pause. One can but wonder what might have been the result if Paul had not pushed on to Troas, but had turned back to Cappadocia and Pontus, to Armenia and Babylonia, to India and China. Others might in time have carried the gospel westward, as some did to Rome. But if the stamp of Paul were removed from Macedonia, Achaia, and Rome, Christian history would not have run the same course.
Paul had visions at great crises in his ministry. It has been suggested that in this vision the man of Macedonia was in reality Luke who lived in Philippi. A merely natural explanation will hardly meet the demands of the language in Acts 16:9, though Luke may have had his home in Philippi and may nave spoken to Paul on the subject of the needs of Macedonia. The vision was clearly a call of God to Paul. What should he do? It was a venture to go to a new continent among a strange people. He had no examples to guide him. But it was in line with his mission to the Gentiles.
Paul took the brethren into his confidence. He told Silas, Timothy, and Luke. We have not had Luke’s presence in the story before and it is revealed here by the use of “we” and “us” (Acts 16:10). Where Luke joined the party we are not told. It is possible, though pure conjecture, that this “beloved physician” (Col. 4:14) may have saved Paul’s life during his sickness in Galatia (Gal. 4:13). But the appearance of this Gentile Christian (one of Paul’s new converts?) on the scene is an event of the first importance in the life of Paul. He will not, indeed, be with Paul constantly, though he is in the story in Acts steadily, from Acts 20:5 to the end, as well as from 16:10 to Philippi (the “we” sections). He is with Paul in Rome in both of his imprisonments (Col. 4:14; 2 Tim. 3:11). He is Paul’s best interpreter (after his own Epistles) as well as one of the historians of Jesus. He brings a literary quality to the study of original Christianity, in the case of both Jesus and the disciples, that is extremely valuable. He is, in truth, the first church historian as Paul is the first Christian theologian. But he never obtrudes himself. We merely know that now he is giving us what he has learned first hand by his own experience.
The problem raised was not merely one of revelation, though it was that. It was one of reason also. It was an issue that had to be faced with the best judgment to be had. It called for sober criticism. It did not occur to Paul to go back to Jerusalem to get an opinion on the vision from the brethren there. He acted on the judgment of those with him. The result of the investigation was the conclusion (συμβιβάζοντες) that God had called the whole party (“us”) to preach the gospel in Macedonia. Duty followed interpretation.
They start and make a straight course to Samothrace. The next day they are at Neapolis (Newtown), the seaport of Philippi. It is a quick trip. The thing is done. This Rubicon has been crossed. A great forward step in the history of Christianity has been taken. It is a noble company, these four, who step upon virgin soil and grapple with the tremendous problem of establishing the gospel among the mighty Greeks in their own home. Macedonia and Greece are practically one from this point of view. The history of Europe will largely turn upon the success of this campaign. The Greeks were the teachers of Rome. Ramsay observes that in saving the Roman Empire for Christ Paul was really preserving it from decay by putting a new vital force within it, a force that made for peace and for progress.
7. Philippi: Lydia and the Jailer.—Paul is now in the Roman province of Macedonia, the land of Philip, of Alexander the Great, of Aristotle. The city of Philippi was a colony of Rome (Acts 16:12). It had been started as a military post and was still largely so, though commercial interests were large. Luke does not claim that Philippi was the first city (Acts 16:17) in the province, for Thessalonica would challenge that claim. Even in the district Ramsay thinks that probably Amphipolis still had the lead of Philippi in public opinion, though Philippi was “first by its own consent” and was rapidly forging ahead. Ramsay thinks also that Luke, being a citizen of Philippi “had the true Greek pride in his own city” and took Philippi’s side in the rivalry between them. Did Paul know of the famous battle here in B.C. 42, when Brutus and Cassius went down before Antony, Octavius and Lepidus (the second triumvirate)? He is on historic ground.
Where should Paul begin the European campaign? He seems to have waited some days (Acts 16:12) to find out where he could take hold. The Jews seemed to be few, since it was largely a military city. No synagogue is mentioned. But Paul knew well what the habits of the Jews were. Their ablutions required water. Did Luke give Paul any clew? At any rate they went out of town, down by the river-side (Gaggitas?), “where we supposed there was a place of prayer.” It was not a very encouraging field for a beginning. Besides, they found only a handful of women. Compare Jesus at Jacob’s Well in John 4:6. Paul made the best of the situation. Curiously enough, Lydia was herself from Thyatira of the province of Asia, in which province Paul had recently been forbidden a labor. God opened the hearts of this Jewish merchant woman, as well as the hearts of her employees. The work of Christ in this great European campaign begins with a handful of humble women. Thank God that the women can be enlisted for Christ even if gold still grips the souls of men. Her home was opened to the brethren, and the place of prayer by the river became Paul’s pulpit for Philippi.
It was not long before trouble came. It is impossible for a minister, who is always loyal to Christ, to keep out of trouble. Ramsay considers the girl who was converted under Paul’s preaching merely a ventriloquist, but one who herself believed that she had “a spirit of divination.” The trouble with this otherwise possible explanation of the “python” is that Luke represents Paul as addressing the spirit and ordering it to come out of the girl (Acts 16:18). We have thus a case parallel to the demoniacs who bore testimony to Jesus. But, whatever the explanation, her masters ceased to make money out of the poor girl’s misfortune. They seemed to have organized a regular company that traded with her gift of divination. Paul and Silas had touched the pockets of these men, and they rose in wrath against the new preachers who had interfered with their vested rights. The lottery, the saloon, the gambling hells of modern life have all made like complaint against courageous ministers of Christ.
The attack seems to have been rough, for they “dragged” Paul and Silas before the rulers (ἄρχοντες) or magistrates (στρατηγοί prætors). Luke uses both terms, the general and the Latin, perhaps using the mixed language of conversation. It is an old and ever new story that here follows. These infamous men blandly pose as Roman patriots and seek to arouse Gentile prejudice against Paul and Silas as Jews, not knowing any special difference between Christians and Jews. They say nothing, of course, about their private grudge, but their patriotism is for revenue only. The “trouble” to the “city” was what had come to the masters of the girl. But the demagogues had all too much success with the rabble, and the magistrates, like Pilate before them, yielded to popular clamor and ordered the prisoners, after a flogging, to stocks and the inner prison.
That night in the Gentile prison was a new experience for Paul. He was to have many more like it in the future. The joy of Paul and Silas is noteworthy. Paul will one day write out of a prison in Rome to the church at Philippi an Epistle full of cheer. Ramsay explains that an earthquake would easily open an Eastern prison, while the prisoners would be overawed by the effect of that portent. Paul is quick to seize the opportunity of the jailer’s conviction, to win him from suicide to salvation.
The magistrates possibly felt that Paul had caused the earthquake. At any rate, they wish to be rid of these strange prisoners. It is not clear why Paul did not claim Roman citizenship before the flogging. No explanation is given by Luke. In the heat and excitement of the moment it is possible that Paul may not have thought of it till later. Indeed the mob and the magistrates gave Paul no time for explanation. He will appeal to it in Acts 22. But, at any rate, Paul shows plenty of independence when the magistrates wish him to help them out of their dilemma. Silas is called a Roman citizen also by Paul (Acts 16:37). Ramsay thinks that Luke has mistranslated Paul’s Latin to the magistrates when he claimed his Roman citizenship, since the condemnation of a Roman citizen would not alleviate the flogging, but make it worse. On the other band, the argument in Paul’s mind may have gone thus. It is unlawful to flog any one uncondemned; besides, it was done publicly; then again we are Romans and it was unlawful to do it at all; to cap it all they have put us into prison. The argument about “Romans” thus is not the first one, but toward the end. It is the magistrates who are now afraid. They show proper courtesy now. Paul and Silas leave Luke and Timothy behind in Philippi with a church fully established.
8. Thessalonica: The Excitable Populace.—Thessalonica is the capital of the province of Macedonia and the most important city that Paul has come to since Antioch. It is the Roman administrative city and a great commercial emporium (the present Saloniki). The Jews are strong here. In their synagogue Paul preached on three successive Sabbaths (compare the two at Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:44). One is constrained to think from Paul’s remarks in 1 Thess. 1 and 2 that he preached in the city much longer than this. Perhaps Luke’s account is confined to the work in the synagogue alone.
Paul’s preaching followed the familiar line of argument for Jews in an appeal to the Scriptures to prove that the Messiah was to suffer, to die, to rise again; that Jesus did all this; therefore Jesus was the Messiah. Thus we have (Acts 17:2 f.) only the premises and the conclusions, not the details, for which one may turn to the sermon at Antioch in Pisidia. Some impression was made on the Jews and a great one on the “devout Greeks,” especially the women. One is reminded again of Antioch in Pisidia where the women were turned against Paul. In Thessalonica, however, the jealous Jews adopt bolder methods. The rabbis collect some “vile fellows of the rabble” (“toughs” from the outcast sections of the city) and engage them to “set the city in an uproar.” They do it to perfection, and drag Jason and others, in lieu of Paul and Silas, to the “politarchs,” Luke’s strange term for the rulers of the city now amply confirmed by inscriptions. Jason and his party of disciples are gravely charged by the rabbis and the hired rabble with having turned the city upside down, the very thing which the rabble had been employed by the rabbis to do! One might imagine himself back in Jerusalem at the trial of Christ, for the charge is filed against the disciples that they preach Jesus as King “contrary to the decrees of Cæsar” (Acts 17:7). The Jews were not notorious for loyalty to Cæsar, and these hired “hoodlums” were not loyal to anybody. In Philippi money was behind the cry of patriotism. In Thessalonica the motive is jealousy. These Jewish leaders “troubled the multitude and the rulers of the city” by their specious charges. But the orthodoxy that resorts to such demagoguery is rather lurid and spectacular, to say no more.
None the less, Jason and the rest were put on their good behavior. They apparently felt that Paul had better leave town. So they “sent away Paul and Silas” probably against Paul’s own desire. The riot had been really very dangerous. Paul will later allude to these “Jews” (he lays the blame on them, not the politarchs) who “drove out us,” “forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles” (1 Thess. 2:15 f.). But a great work has been done in Thessalonica.
It is possible that the stress put by Paul here on the second coming of Christ may have played into the hands of the Jews in stirring up the mob against Paul. They may have charged that Paul proclaimed that Jesus would soon come and supplant the Roman Cæsar. He did, indeed, preach to them about “the man of sin” “setting himself forth as God” (2 Thess. 2:3 f.). “When I was yet with you I told you these things” (verse 5). It was not difficult for the Jews, who did not like the current emperor-worship any more than Paul, to turn his strong words on this subject against him and all the disciples. The excitability of the mob at Thessalonica, under the lead of the Jews, throws a side-light also on the volatile misconceptions of the disciples there about Paul’s real statements as to the second coming of Christ. He had exhorted them to look for that coming and to be ready for him. He would come suddenly as a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:2). But some of them had claimed that Paul taught that Jesus’ coming was “just at hand” (a point which he later expressly denies, 2 Thess. 2:2), and hence it was useless to work. These pious enthusiasts Paul exhorted while with them to be quiet, to attend to their own business and to work with their own hands (1 Thess. 4:11): He has no sympathy with the type of piety that makes one unfit for work (2 Thess. 3:10). Evidently Paul is not a socialist in the strict use of that term. This is not the last time that Paul will be misunderstood while present and absent.
But the work at Thessalonica was a great achievement. This strategic city with a live church in it served as a sounding-board to echo forth the gospel to all the region round both in Macedonia and Achaia (1 Thess. 1:7 f.). Paul tells us much of the consolation and joy that he found in the church at Thessalonica (1 Thess. 1–3) so that one must expand a good deal the brief narrative of Luke in Acts 17:1–10. The pastoral side of Paul’s work is prominent in the Epistles to Thessalonica.
He carefully explains to them the substance and spirit of his message, as well as the love which he still bore them, and his exemplary conduct while with them.
9. Berœa: Search of the Scriptures.—If Paul and Silas had to flee from Thessalonica by night (cf. Damascus), they had reward in Berœa. They begin with the synagogue of the Jews who differ from the Jews in Thessalonica in a readiness to investigate the Scriptures to see if the new doctrines were true. That shows an openness of mind towards new truth that entitles them to the term “noble” (Acts 17:11). Timothy had now rejoined Paul and Silas (17:14). The story of Thessalonica is, in a measure, repeated here, for the Jews of Thessalonica follow Paul to Berœa as those from Antioch in Pisidia went to Iconium. It does not seem to have been necessary to get “hoodlums” to raise a mob for Paul’s benefit in Berœa, though that is possible, “stirring up and troubling the multitudes” (17:13). The “brethren” (17:14) sent him on to the sea. Silas and Timothy remain in Berœa, while Paul goes on to Athens with instructions for them to rejoin him there speedily, apparently with news from Thessalonica and Berœa. In Athens Paul waited for them (17:16). From 1 Thess. 3:1 it looks as if Timothy, at any rate, came on and was sent back again by Paul to Thessalonica. If so, when Luke in Acts 18:5 speaks of Silas and Timothy coming down from Macedonia to Corinth, he is alluding to the second coming, not to the first at Athens (cf. Paul’s allusions to the visits to Jerusalem in Gal. 1 and 2).
10. Athens: Idolatry and Philosophy.—One need not suppose that Paul was insensible to the glory and greatness of Athens. But his mission to Europe was that of ambassador for Christ. He was, indeed, in the chief seat of ancient culture of all the world. The University of Athens had rivals now in Alexandria, Rhodes, Tarsus and elsewhere, but none of them had the glory of Athens. The great historians, orators, poets, generals, statesmen, philosophers of Athens were known all over the world. Paul was distinctly open to Hellenic influence, Jew though he was. The architecture, the sculpture, the beauty of Athens had been unrivalled in the crowning age of sculpture and architecture. The golden age of Athens was far in the past, but the glory still lingered over the Acropolis (as it does yet over its ruins). Paul had time enough to enjoy them, if he willed.
But the sculpture faded before the multitude of idols. The glorious Parthenon was itself the home of the worship of Minerva. The learning, the philosophy of the city was under the spell of idolatry. The city, this glorious city, was given over to idols (Acts 17:16). That fact stared him in the face. He had seen idolatrous cities before, even of the baser sort as Antioch in Syria and Paphos in Cyprus. His very spirit was provoked to see this city, the home of so much that was high and noble, given over to false gods. There were gods at every turn; some thirty thousand in all were worshipped in Athens.
He must speak. In the synagogue he spoke to the Jews on the Sabbath. On other days he had a word with chance comers in the agora (17:17) where teachers of every philosophy and religion dispensed their wisdom to any who would listen. Paul was just one more in the vast army of these lecturers who had come to the world’s intellectual centre. Ramsay conceives that Paul’s debate with the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in reality took place in the University of Athens. That view gives more dignity to the matter. These two schools of practical philosophy were dominant in the world of that time. Socrates turned the trend of thought from mere cosmological speculation to man himself. Plato had taken the cue from his master and lifted philosophy to a high plane of abstract thought with many noble ideals. Aristotle was encyclopædic and combined the outward and the inward, and systematized methods of thought and expression. Zeno and Epicurus represented a recoil from so much speculation to a practical view of life. The one (the Stoic) aimed at conquest over evil by self-control that hardened into pride, despair and pantheism. The other (the Epicurean) was atheistic, light-hearted, flippant, selfish, and degenerated into mere love of pleasure. But they held the field, not only at Athens, but in all the great centres of life (Jerusalem excepted). They were ready to defend their views to any new-comer. Some of them cannot conceal their fine scorn for Paul “this babbler” (seed-gatherer like a sparrow picking up crumbs in the agora, or σπερμολόγος). Others are more polite, but equally obtuse, for they think that Paul preaches two gods (one Jesus, the other the resurrection). The Athenians made gods out of the abstract virtues. Evidently Paul was not meeting with much success with the philosophers. One recalls Christ’s difficulty with the Jewish rabbi Nicodemus.
They take him to Mars Hill! Why? Clearly not to be tried, though one is reminded of Socrates, who was charged with teaching strange doctrines. Was it merely idle curiosity to pass away the time? They were, true to their nature, always ready for something newer than the last fad if for nothing serious (17:21), a touch true to life in Athens as drawn by Plato himself. This motive was undoubtedly present. But was there any more serious purpose? Ramsay makes out a pretty good case for the idea that Paul was really brought before the Council, not for trial, but to see if he was entitled to a lecturer’s certificate so as to have proper standing as a lecturer on religion and philosophy along with the Stoics and Epicureans. The matter is not entirely clear. It is possible, though slightly artificial. But, in any case, the tone of the audience is contemptuous, while formally polite (17:19 f.). It is, however, an inspiring moment when he stands on Mars Hill, facing the noble temple of Minerva on the Acropolis, with members of the Council present along with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, to speak about Jesus of Nazareth in the midst of Greek culture. We have seen Paul in various trying situations before. He has not yet met one that called for more resource and readiness. He will need not only his Jewish training and Christian experience, but all his knowledge of Greek life and thought. He has never addressed an audience whose world outlook (Weltanschaung) was so utterly different from his. Can he so put Christianity as to be loyal to Christ and at the same time win the attention of this assembly? There is a curious Attic flavor to the address of Paul here which every Greek student appreciates. Paul Seems to respond to his atmosphere in his very language, and Luke has the same feeling about it.
The address is a masterpiece of real eloquence on the greatest of themes. He skilfully introduces the subject of God after passing a compliment on their religiosity (verse 22 f.). He waves aside the worship of idols by an argument from nature and represents God as near those who are groping in the dark toward him (cf. in Rom. 1 and 2, the other side, the heathen going away from God). He presents God, the living God, as the centre of life and the Father of all men, as spirit and to be worshipped in spirit. This God commands repentance from sin and will judge all by the man whom he has sent and has raised from the dead. The sermon ends abruptly. Paul probably had more to say about Jesus, but he could not go on. Some laughed in his face, others politely excused themselves, a few believed; Paul abruptly went out from among them (17:33), probably disappointed at such treatment.
But he had been faithful to Christ and the truth. He had condemned idolatry and exalted God. He had preached sin, repentance, judgment, Jesus and the resurrection, as much as they would hear. He had not preached philosophy instead of the gospel. He had only alluded to their philosophy indirectly to turn their thoughts to God. He had preached a great sermon, but little was accomplished by it. Probably he was mortified as many a preacher has been since, at the result of his efforts. What shall he do? If Athens will not listen to him, will any city in Greece do so? Will they follow the example of Athens? It matters not. He will stick to the preaching of the Cross. He will preach Christ crucified whether the philosophers will have it or not (1 Cor. 2:2). Let the Cross be foolishness to the Greek as it is a stumbling-block to the Jew in every city. Paul knows that it is both the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:23 f.). He will preach the word of the Cross. The day will come when the disputer of this world as well as the scribe will both be made foolish before God (1 Cor.1:20). The Greek philosopher and Jewish rabbi do not use the same weapons in debate. Perhaps Paul was at a loss to know how to measure swords with this new variety of word-mongers. He was a greater philosopher than all of them in reality, but they could not grasp the range of his spiritual vision. Paul was not driven out of Athens. He was laughed out. They would not even persecute him.
11. Corinth: Sudden Wealth and False Culture.—Will Corinth prove a more promising field? It could hardly be worse. Athens was old and self-confident, volatile and scornful. Corinth had been utterly destroyed by Mummius and lay in ruins for a hundred years, till Julius Cæsar restored it. Now it is a great and flourishing commercial metropolis, rich and wicked. Like other “boom” towns, Corinth has a veneer of culture and an imitation of philosophy. The false in taste was in the ascendant. There are difficulties in abundance in Corinth, but they are not exactly those of Athens where the whole life was dominated by the critical and philosophical atmosphere of the University. Christianity and culture are not in opposition. They are in reality at one. But an arrogant philosophy can be very scornful of spiritual matters. But in a city like Corinth the false culture did not have a firm hold on all. There were many who would be open to something better, who even hungered for the realities of life.
The Jews are strong in Corinth, and Paul found, as usual, the synagogue at his service. The presence there of Aquila, of Pontus, and Priscilla his wife, was due to the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by the Emperor Claudius (Acts 18:2). They are of much interest in themselves, for they will come across Paul’s path a number of times and always in a helpful way. Whether they were already Christians or became so as the result of Paul’s labors we do not know. What is stated by Luke (18:3) is that they, like Paul, had the trade of tent-making. That was a common bond, besides that of Christ. So they dwelt together, while Paul reasoned in the synagogue on the Sabbath. Here is a noble picture of Paul, who had been begged to leave Philippi, driven out of Thessalonica and Berœa, laughed out of Athens, yet pushing on alone to Corinth, supporting himself, making new friends, winning a place for Christ among Jews and Greeks in that great city.
He had moments of depression, but he held on. He was longing and looking for the coming of Silas and Timothy from Thessalonica. The arrival of Timothy and Silas gave Paul great joy (1 Thess. 3:6), for now he knew that the church at Thessalonica was standing fast in the Lord. Now he really lived (verse 8). The immediate effect of these new helpers was that Paul devoted himself with fresh energy to the word (Acts 18:5). They may have brought a supply of provisions from the church at Philippi, as had happened several times while Paul was in Thessalonica (Phil. 4:16). At any rate, Paul would need to make fewer tents and could preach more sermons.
The new power in Paul’s preaching caused resistance among the Jews. The story of Antioch in Pisidia, Thessalonica, Berœa is, in a measure, repeated, but with a difference. The modification is that Paul now stands his ground. As at Antioch in Pisidia, Paul turns dramatically from the Jews to the Gentiles. Ramsay admits that Paul’s manner was not very conciliatory when he was angry, and calls the shaking out of the raiment a “very exasperating gesture.” In the trial of Jesus the Jews took the blood of Jesus on their heads. Here Paul says: “Your blood be upon your own heads” (Acts 18:6). He was clean. It was probably exasperating to the Jews for Paul to hold his preaching services in a house “hard by” the synagogue. The sense of rivalry would thus be keen. Corinth, like Philippi, was a colony, and Titus Justus has a Roman name, though he had probably been an attendant on the synagogue worship (Acts 18:7). The conversion and baptism of Crispus (ruler of the synagogue) and his household would add to the bitterness. It would be like the pastor of a church of one denomination joining another next door.
The vision of the Lord to Paul and the message not to be afraid show that resentment was sharp (18:9 f.). Perhaps but for this message Paul might have left Corinth as he had done in other cities and not without reason. He had been told by Jesus to leave Jerusalem. But now he holds on till the outbreak comes and many days after, probably two years in all (18:11, 18).
The coming of Gallio, brother of Seneca, to Achaia as proconsul (so after 54 A.D.) had an important bearing on Paul’s career in that there is developed under him “the imperial policy in its relation to Paul and to Christian preaching.” In Galatia and Asia Minor, where Paul had been the victim of persecution, his case had only come before the city magistrates or a mob had driven him off as in Lystra. The various city magistrates had all felt the force of personal intrigue or popular clamor. Here, however, the proconsul himself is appealed to, who either had a more liberal and just temper or took more pains to separate the Jewish ceremonial quibbles from Roman provincial law.2 As a result the Jewish conspirators fail utterly in this case against Paul, while Sosthenes, the new ruler of the synagogue, himself gets the beating that he had meant for Paul, gets it from the mob which the Jews had so successfully used against Paul, while Gallio, like Nelson, has a “blind eye” to the work of the mob. The result of Gallio’s refusal to punish Paul was to give him and his preaching a standing before Roman law that it had not had heretofore, a very important matter. It was a virtual edict of religious freedom for Christian preachers as a sect of the Jews at any rate, for Gallio did not go into the differences between Paul and the Jews.
12. Paul’s First Epistles: I and II Thessalonians.—It was probably before the latter part of Paul’s stay in Corinth that he wrote the Epistles to the Thessalonians. It was soon after Timothy and Silas came. These are the first of Paul’s thirteen Epistles preserved in the New Testament. As already mentioned, these Epistles fall into four groups:
I and II Thessalonians.
I and II Corinthians, Galatians, Romans.
Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians.
I Timothy, Titus, II Timothy.
The order here given is not known for certain. Some critics put Galatians as the very first on the list, but on insufficient grounds, in my opinion. Others would place it between the Thessalonian Epistles and I Corinthians. The position of Philippians is not clear, whether before or after Colossians and Ephesians. But these two matters of doubt do not greatly affect the working scheme here presented.
Paul had written other letters before these, as might be expected in an age of letter-writing. In 2 Thess. 2:2 Paul warns his readers against forgeries, and in 3:17 tells them how to tell a genuine letter of his. Evidently he had already written more than one when men were trying forgeries of them. There is a difference between a merely personal letter and a formal and stately epistle that one writes for public perusal or for permanent preservation. Paul’s Letters vary from Philemon, which is almost wholly personal, to Ephesians, which is almost wholly general. Those addressed to churches necessarily have a more formal character, but a personal tone is found, or, at least, personal items. The numerous papyri letters of the early Christian era illustrate well Paul’s correspondence with the churches and individuals. He seems to allude in 1 Cor. 5:9 to an epistle which is now lost. A good illustration of the doctrinal epistle (cf. Romans) is found in Acts 15, the epistle from the Jerusalem conference to the Church at Antioch and the Gentile Christians generally. It was distributed as Paul’s Epistles came to be (Col. 4:15 f.).
The Thessalonian Epistles were probably written during the period A.D. 52–3, and represent an important stage in Paul’s spiritual and doctrinal development. One can trace with reasonable correctness the fundamental principles of his Christian theology prior to this time from the account in Acts. But it is significant in the study of any great man when one comes upon documents by the man himself, especially if they be letters where a man gives his real sentiments with freedom. The ecclesiastical nature of these letters does not keep Paul’s own personality out of them. His very heart is poured out in gratitude or concern, for the disciples who were his crown and joy.
The doctrinal theses of Paul’s later and more extensive Epistles are here, the love of God in Christ, his death on the Cross for sin, justification by faith, obedience, judgment, the second coming of Christ. But the remarkable element hare is that the Thessalonian Epistles are largely taken up with the second coming, a subject not mentioned by Luke as belonging to his preaching so far, and which is not treated at much length by Paul elsewhere save in 1 Cor. 7. One is hardly prepared for its prominence just here in Paul’s teachings. But it is to be remembered that it was present in the teaching of Jesus and in the early apostolic preaching. Local circumstances or Paul’s own mood may have brought the subject to the front at Thessalonica. It was misunderstood and demanded further explanation. The explanation in the first Epistle was still misunderstood and called for a second Epistle. Thus the subject gained a rather larger proportion of attention in these Epistles than seemed to have been true of Paul’s preaching as a whole. But one cannot deny that Paul, like Jesus, urged the disciples to be in an expectant attitude and ready for the Lord to come at any time. The collision at Thessalonica with the city authorities may have led Paul to feel strongly that the Roman Emperor was the man of sin who set himself up to be worshipped instead of God. There is no doubt at all that Paul was right in his perception that this emperor-worship was the great foe of Christianity, the real Anti-Christ. Paul saw it thus early as John will discuss in Revelation this titanic straggle between Christianity and imperial Rome. The history of Christianity in the first three centuries amply vindicated the foresight of both Paul and John.
The thing here to observe about these Epistles, as about all of Paul’s Letters, is that they spring out of actual historic circumstances and were written to meet immediate and pressing needs. They possess the element of life and hence are powerful to-day. They are not artificial or merely literary performances. Paul wishes to instruct the Thessalonian Christians, to cheer them, to rebuke them, to lead them to juster conceptions of the Christian life, to holier living. Paul’s Letters are echoes of his preaching to which he alludes in these Epistles. They teem with suggestions that are rich to-day for every soul that loves Christ. I cannot here give a minute analysis or exposition of Paul’s Epistles. That would be to write a commentary, One may be referred to my “Student’s Chronological New Testament” for my analysis of Paul’s Epistles in their historical setting.
But at Corinth we see Paul fully conscious of a great message to men. He speaks with the note of authority and power. This gospel (2 Thess. 2:14) which he said he had preached in Thessalonica was, indeed, the gospel of God (1 Thess. 2:2, 8, 9). He feels that he is preaching the word of God both at Thessalonica (1 Thess. 2:13) and at Corinth (1 Cor. 2:4). He feels emboldened to “command” the church at Thessalonica (2 Thess. 3:4, 6, 12) as he had done while with them (verse 10). He even threatens those who obey not his Epistles (2 Thess. 3:14). He enjoins that they hold fast to his instructions both by word and epistle (2 Thess. 2:15). He is now an experienced preacher of Christ and the proven Apostle to the Gentiles who knows that the hand of God is with him. Along with the clear doctrinal grasp of Christ’s person, mission and message there breathes in these Epistles the same deeply spiritual note so really Pauline. Experience precedes theory with Paul. He leaves Corinth the masterful exponent of the Risen Christ with a vision of a world empire for him. He now knows that Christ can conquer Cæsar’s realm. Findlay3 justly conceives that Paul has been making “an interested study of the Roman Empire and its relation to the Kingdom of Christ.” As he approached Rome he felt its grandeur and was repelled by its idolatrous Cæsar-worship.
13. The Return to Antioch.—I pass by the detail about the cutting of the hair at Cenchreæ (Acts 18:18) in fulfilment of a vow. The Greek is ambiguous. Whether it was Paul or Aquila cannot be determined. Paul was still a Jew and had himself no objection to observing the Jewish ceremonial law on the part of Jews as is made clear later (Acts 21:26). Paul had, on the voyage to Ephesus, the pleasure of the companionship of Priscilla and Aquila. The noble wife of Aquila is offer mentioned before him. They were both congenial spirits to Paul.
They actually sailed, of course, from Cenchreæ, the harbor of Corinth. Did Timothy and Silas remain in Corinth or come on to Ephesus? Did Timothy go back to Lystra and Silas to Jerusalem? It may seem remarkable that, after being forbidden on the outward journey to come to Ephesus in the province of Asia, Paul should now boldly proceed there. It is plain that the prohibition was temporary and for a special purpose. That purpose has now been realized, the proclamation of the Gospel in Macedonia and Achaia. Aquila and Priscilla win remain in Ephesus till Paul returns there and is ready to leave (1 Cor. 16:19), over three years in all. Paul has a brief ministry with the Jews in Ephesus, but hurries away to Jerusalem, hoping to return “if God will” (Acts 18:19 ff.). The Textus Receptus for verse 21 explains that Paul was anxious to reach Jerusalem for the feast which may have been the passover. If so, in the spring of A.D. 54 (or 53) we may think of Paul’s taking ship to come to Cæsarea on his way to visit the Church at Jerusalem (Acts 18:22).
It is not absolutely certain that Paul went up to Jerusalem, but that is the natural meaning of “went up” and “went down.” It had been some four years since Paul had his battle for Gentile freedom at the Jerusalem Conference. They had been years of great progress for him and the cause of Christ among the Gentiles. He has a more wonderful story to tell than ever. Did he see Peter, James and the other “pillars” at Jerusalem? One cannot tell. The apparent brevity of his stay indicates that the Apostles were chiefly away. Did Paul meet the Judaizers again? Probably their leaders were in Galatia or on the way to Corinth to regulate Paul’s Gentile converts. They will soon begin to give Paul serious trouble all along the line of his great tour. But he “saluted the church” and, after an uneventful visit, went on his way home to Antioch. That was his real objective point. Here he was sure of a great welcome. He could now rest awhile and take his bearings. What had Barnabas accomplished meanwhile? One wishes that he knew.


“Besides those things that are without, there is that which presseth upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28).
1. The Statesmanship of Paul.—It will come out at every turn in this chapter as we see him carry on his heart the burden of the churches. He has now taken the whole world into his vision, and, wherever the body of Christ suffers, Paul suffers (2 Cor. 11:29). His horizon has broadened till it compasses the whole Roman Empire. At Ephesus he will fight the opposition of Jews and the rage of the silversmiths who are losing the trade in their shrines; he will throw his soul into the solution of the troubles at Corinth; he will superintend the collections for the poor saints in Jerusalem, a collection that has included Galatia, Asia, Achaia and Macedonia in its scope before he leaves Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:1 f.; 2 Cor. 9:2; Acts 19:22); he is planning for a trip to Macedonia, Achaia, Jerusalem, Rome (Acts 19:22). At Troas Corinth will still be a burden as will be the case in Macedonia. In Corinth he yearns after Galatia, where the Judaizers have been playing havoc; after Jerusalem, where the opposition has crystallized against him; after Rome, where he has not yet been and where the Judaizers have gone on ahead of him; after Spain that great Western empire ripe for the gospel of Christ (Rom. 15:28). His sweep of sympathy is that of the Christian statesman who loves the whole world.
It is just during this period that the difficulties thicken in his way. He has now three sets of enemies to fight in detail or together, as Jesus had to meet the combination of Pharisee, Sadducee, Herodian, and finally also the Roman Pilate drawn in (cf. Nero with Paul). Paul has to meet the Jew, the Greek and the Judaizer, and finally the Roman. But during this period (A.D. 54–57) the Romans are not hostile to him, thanks to Gallio’s decision in his favor. Nero has succeeded Claudius, but Nero’s golden quinquennium was the very time when Paul is struggling with the problems of the mission churches, bringing order out of chaos with some of them, indoctrinating all of them. He has to fight Jew and Greek on the ground at Ephesus, while the Judaizer has followed his trail (and that of Apollos at Corinth) and sowed discord with marvellous success. The false brethren let their dogs loose on Paul’s heels while he drives back the wolves in front. The perils from his countrymen, from the Gentiles, from the false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26) were the perils that affected him more than shipwreck, hunger and cold. The hostility of the Jew gave him anguish of heart (Rom. 9:2). The Judaizers he spurned as “false apostles,” like Satan, coming as angels of light (2 Cor. 11:13 f.). The Gentiles rage at him like wild beasts (1 Cor. 15:32). But he loves both Jew and Gentile and tries to be all things to all men to save some (1 Cor. 9:20–22).
The grandeur of Paul’s nature comes out in this gigantic struggle which he wages with the forces of evil thus massed against him. He has friends, indeed, though some of them are treacherous. He has joy in the churches, though some of them are fickle. The other Apostles have followed the agreement made in Jerusalem and are endeavoring to win the Jewish world to Christ, though with comparatively poor success according to Rom. 9–11. Tradition reports them in various parts of Egypt, Arabia, Mesopotamia, India, and Peter writes to the various provinces of Asia Minor (1 Peter 1:1 f.). But Paul is not entirely alone, though no other figure of like stature stands by his side as he directs the great campaign in the Roman Empire. He has faithful lieutenants who are loyal to him, men like Timothy, Titus, Erastus, Aquila (with Priscilla), Sosthenes, Apollos, Tyrannus, Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Tychicus, Trophimus, Luke, the household of Chloe, Phœbe and the noble array of coworkers whose names occur in Rom. 16. There were others also (see 1 Cor. 16), but these are enough to show the strong personal ties that Paul had made all over the world. These helpers were his stay and support as he strengthened the work at Ephesus, managed the great collection, wrote his Epistles, sent committees or embassies, sought to strengthen the cause and extend the sphere of the Gospel everywhere. “He was, indeed, born for conflict,” and “without these great troubles we should never have known Paul at his greatest, nor guessed how tender his heart was, how heroic his faith, how vigorous his mind, how infinite the resources of his strong and supple genius.” Paul appears in his true glory now, but he himself sees only the face of Jesus. “For the love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Cor. 5:14). He glories in his weaknesses that the power of Christ may rest upon him. “When I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). The passionate love for Christ and for lost souls has him fast. He is willing to be thought beside himself (2 Cor. 5:13) if so be he succeeds in his ambition to please Jesus.
Findlay has a remarkably vigorous paragraph about “the period of his struggle with the Judaistic reaction in the Church, and of the four great evangelical Epistles which were its outcome. The evangelist becomes the controversialist; the church founder must defend the churches of his foundation. The apologetic and doctrinal interests now predominate in St. Paul’s work; he is employed in consolidating the conquests already won.” The Judaiders have made an impression outside of Jerusalem. They have led many of the Gentiles to believe that Paul was unsound, that the Judaizers alone were the exponents of true Christianity, that they have the sanction of the real Apostles. In a word, they are Judaizing the Gentile Christians. The Jerusalem agreement has been set aside. Paul confronts the whole array of them with a lion’s courage and vanquishes them in the greatest struggle of his career. His great Epistles “are the crushing and terrible blows with which the mighty combatant openly answered the court intrigues of his enemies. The contest is in reality a drama, which grows larger and more complicated as it advances from Galatia to Rome.”
2. Paul Leaves Antioch Again and for the Last Time.—Like a whaler he yearns to set forth once more. He is too far from the centre of his great mission conquests. He must be in the thick of the fight. Antioch is now a seasoned church and does not need him so much. His objective point is Ephesus, to which place he had promised to return. He proceeds “through the region of Galatia and Phrygia” (Acts 18:23). Ramsay here understands Luke to describe two regions, the Galatic and the Phrygian. Thus Paul went through the province of Galatia and that portion of Phrygia west of Galatia (really in Asia). This interpretation leaves undetermined what portion of the province he traversed, though Luke’s phrase in Acts 18:23 naturally implies that he revisited the churches of Lycaonia, and Phrygia, at any rate, “in order.” This would include Galatia proper if he had gone there on his previous visit. This is the third time that Paul has come to the province of Galatia and the second time to Galatia proper, if we follow the North or North-western Galatian theory. It was during this visit that Paul probably arranged the collection in Galatia for the poor saints at Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16:1). The Judaizers followed him and got in their mischievous work in Galatia after Paul had left it.
3. Three Years in Ephesus.—It was most likely in the early summer of 54 (or 53) that Paul reached Ephesus. He was probably here less than three full years (cf. Acts 19:8, 10, 21 f.; 20:31). It was in the spring of A.D. 57 (or 56) that he left Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:8). In this great metropolis of the province of Asia and of the whole of Asia Minor, Paul plants himself. The city was a strategic one from every point of view. The gospel is already well established in Central Asia Minor. He passed “through the upper country” on his way to Ephesus (Acts 19:1), an expression in harmony with the North Galatian construction. The silversmiths will charge that “not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people” (Acts 19:26), a testimony to the power of his ministry in Ephesus. Luke himself remarks that as a result of Paul’s labors here “all they that dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10). Paul will later write to Colossæ and Laodicea (Col. 4:16), cities in the Lycus valley, a portion of the province which he had not visited (Col. 1:9). Later, Timothy will be located here to superintend the mission work in this vast region (1 Tim. 1:3). John the Apostle seems to have spent the closing years of his ministry in Ephesus and neighborhood. The Book of the Revelation of John is addressed to a circle of seven churches in this province of Asia (Rev. 1:11), a list which by no means includes all in the province. It is clear, therefore, that Paul made no mistake in choosing it for his present headquarters.
We not only have Luke’s historical account in the Acts of the Ephesian ministry, but a report of Paul’s own summary of his labors there given in an address to the Ephesian elders at Miletus on his way to Jerusalem (Acts 20:17–35). The so-called Epistle to the Ephesians was probably a general letter for other churches (Col. 4:16) also and is devoid of personal details. But the address at Miletus throws a clear light back upon Paul’s work in the city of the goddess Diana. He sketches with tenderness and pathos the elders’ knowledge of his life in Ephesus, his loneliness of mind, his tears, the plots of the Jews against him. He is glad to recall his courage in public and private teaching. He had faithfully told them the whole counsel of God. He had done his duty by them. He had preserved his manhood by self-support for his own necessities and for the help of those with him. He had not been a covetous preacher. He had been an example to them of helping the weak. He had remembered and practised the word of the Lord Jesus about the joy of giving. This is a farewell sermon a year after he had left the Church, an address to other preachers. It is wonderfully pertinent to-day. It will help us get Paul’s own point of view about his work in Ephesus.
Paul just misses Apollos when he reaches Ephesus. This brilliant young Alexandrian disciple of John the Baptist had become an accurate and powerful expounder of Christianity before he reached Ephesus (Acts 18:25), but he was ready to learn more accurately at the hands of Priscilla and Aquila. He was teachable as well as mighty in the Scriptures, and eloquent. It was doubtless a pleasure to Aquila and Priscilla to write to the Corinthians a note of introduction (Acts 18:27; cf. 2 Cor. 3:1). As an Alexandrian Jew he powerfully confuted the Jews in Corinth, perhaps with more success than Paul had (Acts 18:28). He was a noteworthy successor to Paul and “helped them much.” Paul will meet Apollos when he returns to Ephesus. Aquila and Priscilla meanwhile give Paul a joyful welcome.
The case of the twelve misinformed disciples of John the Baptist whom Paul met on his arrival illustrates well the complicated development that went on after the death of John and Jesus. The most of John’s disciples who survived were probably merged into the Christian body, but some held aloof, as we know was true, for a good while after this period. Some of these may have regarded Christianity as a rival, while others were merely in ignorance of the relation of the Baptist’s work to that of Jesus. The present group were evidently friendly towards Christianity, but ignorant of the basal elements of John’s own preaching. They had not heard of the Holy Spirit, of Jesus, of repentance. John taught all these subjects. They had not really received the baptism of John except in name, a very different example from that of Apollos. Paul baptized them, therefore, in the name of Jesus (Acts 19:5), showing that the full name of the Trinity was not always used. The essential name for Christian baptism was that of Jesus. But note Paul’s question in verse 3. Then followed the laying on of hands, speaking with tongues, and prophecy, common experiences of the early Christians.
When Paul had stopped at Ephesus, on his way to Jerusalem, he had been received kindly by the Jews and even invited by them to stay longer. So he renews his work with them, showing that Aquila and Priscilla had kept on good terms with the Jews of Ephesus. He now spends three months teaching the Kingdom of God in the synagogue. But the inevitable breach came when Paul began to get solid results from his work. When they spoke evil of “the Way,” he took the disciples away from the synagogue, but without any special dramatic act as at Corinth or at Antioch in Pisidia. They went to the school of Tyrannus. One of the school-teachers (a Greek) had become a disciple. Paul was not over-particular as to the place where he should preach. He would take the Jewish synagogue, a place of prayer by the river-side, a jail, Mars Hill, the home of a disciple (Titus Justus), a school-house, anywhere. But now a cleavage has come and Paul addresses himself more directly to the populace. After school-hours were over (about the fifth hour) we are to think of Paul’s addressing the people in the school-room of Professor Tyrannus (“King”). This went on for two years till the riot broke it up.
It is a remarkable incident Luke records in Acts 19:11–20. He calls the miracles “special,” quite aware of the unusual character of such cures from the use of handkerchiefs or aprons. One is reminded of the cases in connection with Peter’s shadow and the hem of Christ’s garments. It is evident that the historical evidence for such instances is hardly on a par with that for the more usual miracles. And yet one must not fall into the error of thinking that no difficulties exist about the narratives of the more common miracles. If the event is really supernatural, the humble channel of an apron need not of itself debar belief. Ramsay cites the sudden change from “seven” sons to “both” as discrediting the story. But Moulton1 has produced papyri examples of the use of ἀμφότεροι (both) in the sense of πάντες (all). One is not yet able to throw any light on Sceva as a “chief priest.” The failure of these strolling Jewish exorcists greatly increased the influence of Paul for Christ. The burning of the magical books set a good example for all time. The price was high, but not too high, if it meant deliverance from the spell of bad books. Many a city and home needs a book-burning. Besides in this instance it was a voluntary book-burning, not oppression.
Paul is drawing his work in Asia to a close and his thoughts are reaching out to the other cities in the empire. His original plan had been to go direct from Ephesus to Corinth, thence to Macedonia, returning again by Corinth on his way to Judea (2 Cor. 1:16). But this plan was abandoned when he wrote the first Epistle to Corinth, for he there (1 Cor. 16:5 f.) expresses an unwillingness to come “by the way.” He wishes, if possible, to spend the next winter with them (it is now spring, 1 Cor. 16:8). He hopes that they will speed him on his journey after that “whithersoever I go.” This programme agrees exactly with the one outlined in Acts 19:21 as actually carried out. Why Paul had sent Timothy to Corinth (1 Cor. 4:17) and then the Epistle instead of going himself, thus giving color to the charge of fickleness (1 Cor. 4:18 f.; 2 Cor. 1:17 ff.), is a matter that belongs to the discussion of the troubles at Corinth which will be taken up directly. It is clear from Acts 19:22 that Timothy had come back from Corinth before Paul left Ephesus since he had sent him and Erastus on to Macedonia ahead of him, unless, indeed, he went to Corinth that way and returned (2 Cor. 1:1), which is not likely. He is later in Macedonia with Paul. Paul’s plans at Ephesus include Macedonia, Achaia, Jerusalem, Rome (Acts 19:21), and soon Spain comes into that programme (Rom. 15:24–28).
He was, indeed, hurried away from Ephesus rather sooner than he had expected. It is possible, though not certain, that I Corinthians was written from Ephesus about the passover time (1 Cor. 5:7). He did not remain till Pentecost (1 Cor. 16:8) in spite of “a great door and effectual” which was opened unto him. The “many adversaries” at last proved too much for him. It had already come to be like fighting wild beasts to go on at Ephesus (1 Cor. 15:32). He was in daily peril of his life. He had held his ground at Ephesus longer even than at Corinth. But finally a condition arose that drove him away, a consolation perhaps to many a pastor who has had to leave the scene of former triumphs for Christ. The story does not differ greatly in principle from the greed of the masters of the poor girl in Philippi and the jealousy of the rabbis in Thessalonica. Demetrius carried on a “god-factory” in Ephesus. He claimed to manufacture the best type of silver shrines of Diana on the market. The preaching of Paul had not only had a bad effect on evil books. It had run down the demand for the wares of the house of Demetrius. His craft and Paul were in direct opposition. Paul had touched the rights of invested capital. Luke has drawn the picture with a master’s hand. Demetrius gathered together all the craftsmen of the company and laid before them the danger to their pockets and their piety, and in this order (Acts 19:27). Their shout took up the appeal to the dignity of Diana as a matter of course. The rest took care of itself. As in Thessalonica, so here they fail to get hold of Paul himself, but do seize two Macedonian friends of Paul, Aristarchus and Gaius. The scene in the vast theatre is that of the typical mob. Paul was bent on facing these “wild beasts,” but he was restrained by the disciples and the Asiarchs. It is interesting to note the friendly attitude of these Asiarchs toward Paul. Ramsay calls these “High Priests of Asia” heads of the worship of Rome and the emperors in the province. He argues therefrom that imperial policy was not yet hostile to Christianity and that the educated Greeks in Ephesus did not share the superstitious hatred of the vulgar toward Paul. A mob is not very discriminating. They had started out against Paul as a Christian, but he was also a Jew. Now Jews hated idols as did Paul, and somehow their rage got started toward the Jews. These put forward Alexander, one of their number, to explain the difference between the Christians and the Jews. But the fact that Alexander showed his Jewish face was enough for the mob. They had been all confusion till now they became unanimous in their shout for Diana against the Jews. After two hours the town clerk quieted the crowd and demanded that Demetrius take his complaint against Paul to the courts of the proconsul. There is also the regular assembly. He rightly called the mob a riot. His speech shows the true insight into the whole business and that it was mock-patriotism or mock-piety that started it, piety for revenue, in truth. It is plain from Acts 20:1 that Paul did not tarry long in Ephesus now. It was useless.
4. The Trouble at Corinth: 1 Corinthians.—It has seemed best to present the work at Ephesus as a whole. We must now, however, bring up that side of his life at Ephesus which concerned Corinth and then discuss briefly the first Epistle to the Corinthians. So far as one can tell, the troubles broke out at Corinth after Apollos came. An Apollos party, a Paul party, a Cephas party and a Christ party soon resulted (1 Cor. 1:12 ff.). It is not at all probable that this divisive spirit grew merely out of likes and dislikes of various disciples in Corinth for Apollos or Paul. That element was present beyond a doubt (1 Cor. 3:4 f.). The two men differed greatly in style and training. Paul had more weight and intellectual grasp, Apollos more oratorical display in his speech. The two types of preachers always exist and have their following. But Apollos would not be a party to such rivalry, and so he left. He came back to Ephesus. Paul besought him much to return to Corinth, but he stoutly refused (1 Cor. 16:12). One can but respect the feelings and conduct of Apollos in the matter.
But this was not all. There is no evidence that Peter had ever been in Corinth, though that is barely possible. The partisan use of Peter’s name by the Judaizers, who did come to Corinth, does not prove that Peter had come. His conduct at Antioch had given them all the handle that they needed to pit Peter against Paul. They were quick to take advantage of the split over Apollos and Paul to drive another wedge into this Pauline Church. The name of Cephas (1 Cor. 3:22) was used as the chief Apostle. Indeed, it was alleged by the Judaizers that all the real Apostles opposed Paul’s Gentile programme. The Pharisaic party among the Jewish Christians in Corinth would respond to this so that Paul will have to insist to the church at Corinth, where of all places in the world it ought to have been unnecessary to do so, that he was “in nothing behind the very chiefest Apostles” (2 Cor. 12:11). The Judaizers gained a strong following here. It is probably this Judaizing party that will stand out against Paul the longest (cf. 2 Cor. 10–13) after the Apollos and the Christ party have surrendered. When Paul writes II Corinthians there are probably only two parties, the Pauline and the Judaizing. The first Epistle won over to Paul the Apollos and the Christ party.
The Christ party is rather nebulous after all. Paul drops the term in 1 Cor. 3:22. Perhaps it was a party of reaction against the other three. Away with Apollos, Paul, Peter, they urged. Let us use only the name of Christ. It was more a contention for the name than a protest against Paul’s teachings and easily melted back into the Pauline position.
But before Paul wrote the Epistle that we term I Corinthians he had probably written another letter about the dreadful peril of immorality in that worst of Greek cities (1 Cor. 5:9, 11). Some of the disciples had been swept back into the vortex. The household of Chloe (1 Cor. 1:11) had come to Ephesus and told Paul of the dissensions in the Corinthian Church. He had himself thought of going (1 Cor. 4:18–21), but instead had sent Timothy (4:17), whom he warmly commends to them (16:10). He will surely come soon, but does not wish to come with the rod (4:21). It is held by some scholars that Paul did himself make a hurried visit to Corinth and came back to Ephesus. This is, indeed, a possible interpretation of “the third time” in 2 Cor. 12:14; 13:1. But the language may as well refer to his plans to come three times, though as yet he has only gone once. In either view he has not yet gone the third time. Observe also “a second benefit” in 2 Cor. 1:15. He put off his pro posed visit out of consideration for them (2 Cor. 1:23). He wished to spare them. It is argued, on the other hand, that “come again with sorrow” (2 Cor. 2:1; cf. 12:21) means that he had already had one sorrowful visit, but that is not a necessary interpretation. It may mean a second which would be a sorrowful visit.
In the meantime the Church had sent a formal deputation to Paul at Ephesus (Stephanas, Fortunatus, Achaicus, 1 Cor. 16:17). They had refreshed Paul’s spirit. A letter from the church had also come which made specific request that Paul help them with other problems also, such as marriage (1 Cor. 7:1), meats offered to idols (8:1), spiritual gifts (12:1), and probably the doctrine of the resurrection (15:1). This demand offered him the occasion to group together a discussion of the main problems in the church at Corinth.
The Epistle called I Corinthians is that discussion. It was written probably in the spring of 57 (or 56), though Ramsay thinks that it dates in the autumn of 55. This great document is all ablaze with passion and power. It is vital with the real difficulties that confronted the church in Corinth. Apparently it is a pamphlet to meet an emergency rather than a formal theological treatise. But it is just here that its tremendous value for modern life lies. Paul had to meet the live issues of a mission church in a great and wicked city. These issues vary greatly in value. They range from petty prejudices about preachers to the great doctrine of the resurrection, from serious moral lapses to the eating of meats offered to idols, from the problem of marriage to the collection for the poor, from going to law before the heathen to misuse of the spiritual gifts. There is no one central doctrine advanced in the Epistle. The various topics are treated in successive groups: the divisions in 1–4, the moral questions in 5 and 6, marriage in 7, meats offered to idols in 8–10, abuses in church worship 11–14, the doctrine of the resurrection in 15, the collection and sundry personal items in 16. There is a kind of unity and progress in the whole. Each part is treated with force and enthusiasm. But the remarkable thing about it all is that in the treatment of casuistical questions Paul does not use mere dialectical skill. He seeks the Christian principle that will guide one aright. In doing this he marked the way for Christians in all similar matters. Some, indeed most, of these problems in casuistry have long since passed away, but others have arisen like them. Hence I Corinthians is the most modern of all Paul’s writings. Some of the same problems survive with us in a somewhat altered form. But in any case Paul’s Christian insight helps every honest-hearted man to-day who longs to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
But let no one think that a controversial document written in the heat of passion has no literary quality. The noblest passage in literature on love is 1 Cor. 13. The classic on the doctrine of the resurrection is 1 Cor. 15. These are enough to distinguish any work and testify to the genius of Paul. But his whole tone, besides specific remarks, shows that he is conscious of divine guidance in the message which he sends. He ploughs his way through the maze of theological quibbles and the bog of immorality to the clear light of truth in Christ.
The emphasis laid on the collection for the poor at Jerusalem is noteworthy, for Paul is pushing this offering from Gentiles to Jews on a large scale at the very time that the Judaizers are seeking to make Paul out an enemy of Moses and an apostate Jew. All the varied gifts of the great missionary statesman come into play. The very existence of spiritual Christianity is at stake. The battle between Paul and the ceremonialists is now world-wide. Paul is almost omnipresent. He deals them a heavy blow in I Corinthians, one that tells mightily as we shall soon see.
We have seen (1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10) that it was a little uncertain how Timothy would be received in Corinth. We do not know whether he came back to Corinth or met Paul in Macedonia. He is with him when he writes II Corinthians (1:1). Findlay follows Beyschlag and Pfleiderer in thinking that Timothy was mistreated in Corinth by some one who took it as an insult that Paul had sent another instead of coming himself. According to this view Paul has this matter in mind in 2 Cor. 2:5–11, not merely the case of the incestuous man in 1 Cor. 5, a matter easily disposed of. Paul may, indeed, have written another letter to Corinth demanding an apology from this insolent brother and his following, the writing of which caused Paul anguish of heart, though it was necessary to do it (2 Cor. 2:1–4; 7:5–16). The majority stood with Paul on this point, though a minority were still obstinate. A part of this theory is that Titus was the bearer of this lost letter sent also from Ephesus. One cannot be dogmatic here, for the data are somewhat conflicting. It is, however, a possible interpretation of a difficult stage in Paul’s career.
Another point coupled with this theory is that in 2 Cor. 1:9; 6:9 Paul alludes to a well-nigh fatal illness which overtook him in Asia. The revolt in Galatia and Corinth added to his illness made this the darkest hour of Paul’s life so far. We are indebted to this experience for Paul’s interpretation of death in 2 Cor. 4 and 5.
But, whether or not Titus was sent to Corinth with another Epistle now lost to us, he was sent there. Paul was not wholly satisfied with the effect of I Corinthians, or new problems arose (if Timothy so reported). Then he sends Titus. It does not appear that Titus was with Paul during the second missionary tour. Ramsay, with his usual brilliant acumen, suggests that possibly the Judaizers had interpreted Paul’s dropping Titus after the Jerusalem conference for Timothy, who was circumcised, as a back-down on Paul’s part. So Paul replied by taking Titus with him on this third tour. After Timothy returned from Corinth, he sent Titus there to confront the Judaizers themselves.
It is, indeed, curious that Luke nowhere in Acts alludes to Titus. Ramsay thinks that this was due to the fact that Titus was kin to Luke, who does not mention his own name. This hint has been carried further by Prof. Alexander Souter,3 who proposes the idea that Titus was Luke’s own brother. He agrees with Ramsay that Luke was one of the two other envoys besides Titus sent by Paul from Macedonia to Corinth (2 Cor. 8:16–24). He takes “the brother” in 2 Cor. 8:18) to be Titus’ brother (Luke). This is possible. However, we know that both Timothy and Erastus had been sent to Macedonia (Acts 19:22). If these were still in Macedonia with Luke, the two would come naturally out of these three.
So then, besides the riot in Ephesus that forced Paul out of Ephesus, we may have to think of possible illness as combining therewith. Indeed, his illness may have been the reason that the craftsmen of Demetrius did not get him. If so, his weak condition would greatly enhance his peril from the mob.
5. The Suspense in Troas.—It had been his hope to meet Titus at Troas (2 Cor. 2:12) on his return from Corinth via Macedonia. But the rather sudden departure from Corinth had brought Paul to Troas ahead of time. None the less, he is restless in spirit because he does not find Titus. His bodily weakness would make the disappointment harder to bear. He had expected to preach the Gospel at Troas, where little had apparently been accomplished when he was here before. The door of opportunity was now wide open (2 Cor. 2:12), but he was not able to enter it. It is often true of ministers that an overwrought physical condition closes the door that has opened for them. With a sad heart Paul moves on from Troas toward Macedonia, hoping to see Titus. Corinth fills his heart now. Is the work at Corinth to be ruined? If that may happen, his work everywhere may go to pieces. The world looks dark for the great Apostle who journeys alone from Troas. He is “pressed on every side,” “perplexed,” “pursued,” “smitten down,” “always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:8–11). Is it worth while after all?
6. The Rebound in Macedonia: II Corinthians.—It is a remarkable transition that Paul makes in 2 Cor. 2:14. He breaks forth into a pæan of praise to God for the glory and dignity of the Christian ministry without any apparent cause. The despondency at Troas is suddenly replaced by the spirit of triumph in Macedonia. It is not till 7:5 that he resumes the thread of the narrative in 2:13. He comes back to the historical situation in Macedonia in 7:5–16 where the explanation of the passionate outburst in 2:14–7:4 is found. “For even when we were come into Macedonia our flesh had no relief, but we were afflicted on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.” God “comforted us by the coming of Titus.”
That was joy of itself to see Titus again, but his story gave yet more joy. He “told us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me.” Titus then had accomplished what Timothy failed to do. If Timothy had been mistreated by the incestuous person or by one who had resented Paul’s assertions of apostolic authority (1 Cor. 5:4 f.), he had not written primarily for their sakes, but for the good of the whole church (2 Cor. 7:12). He had written sharply and with bitter tears (2 Cor. 2:4) and anguish of heart. We are here assuming a lost letter between I Corinthians and II Corinthians, to which he is referring. He had put the church to the test in the matter (2 Cor. 2:9). He had, in fact, regretted the writing of the letter after Titus had gone with it (7:8). He disliked so to give pain. But now he regrets it no more. He is even glad that they were made sorry (7:8), since it had resulted in repentance. Mere sorrow is not repentance. Their sorrow was a godly sort that had led to repentance. Hence, he is glad that he wrote, since he sees the revolution wrought in the church (7:11). He is comforted since Titus was comforted by them (7:13). He had dared to glory of them to Titus, and now he knows that it is the truth.
One can but regret the loss of this third Epistle. It went to the heart of the controversy between Paul and his enemies in Corinth. Hausrath has suggested that we possess that letter in 2 Cor. 10–13 which has somehow come to be joined on to the fourth Epistle, our 2 Cor. 1–9. This view has found some support in spite of Klöpper’s refutations in 1874, as from Dr. J. H. Kennedy, The Second and Third Epistles to the Corinthians (1900). But Dr. Dawson Walker3 presents very strong arguments against the partition of II Corinthians. We treat the Epistle as a unit.
If so, what is the explanation of the great difference in tone between chapters 1–7 and 10–13? An adequate reason is not difficult to find. Indeed, it is clear from 2 Cor. 2:5 that only “in part” had sorrow come to the Corinthians. True (verse 6), it was the majority (“the many”) who took Paul’s side and inflicted the needed punishment whether on the incestuous person or an insolent offender against Paul’s authority in the person of Timothy. Paul wished “obedience in all things” (verse 9). It was the gracious acquiescence of the majority of the church that led Paul to write in the exultant strain of 2:14–7:16. In 1:3–2:13 Paul had explained the sorrowful train of circumstances that led up to his depression of mind when Titus came. He attributes his recovery of heart to the loyal friends in Corinth. But Titus had told Paul the whole story. The Judaizing emissaries still had a following (2 Cor. 3:1; 11:22 f.; 12:11). There are now only two parties in the church at Corinth, the Pauline and the Judaizing or Anti-Pauline. The repeated efforts of Paul to compel submission and to overcome the Judaizing faction had brought matters to a high state of tension. Thus it will appear that the tone of Paul in 2 Cor. 10–13 towards the recalcitrant minority really suits the situation better after the return of Titus than before.
Paul really had, it seems, three motives in writing this very remarkable Epistle, which reveals his inner consciousness better than any of his writings. In the Thessalonian Epistles the conflict of Christianity with the Man of Sin (the Kingdom of God vs. the Kingdom of Rome) showed that eschatological problems held a prominent place in Paul’s thoughts. But recently Paul has looked death in the face and he has passed through “a crisis in his soul” which is reflected in 2 Cor. 4 and 5. It is an intensely personal Epistle and wonderfully exemplifies the trials and consolations of a minister of Christ. The three motives for writing again and at once were to express his gratitude to the majority with an explanation of his conduct toward them (1–7), the pushing on of the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem (8 and 9) and the rebuke of the stubborn minority (10–13). Each of these sections of the Epistle stands to itself in a sense, yet all three concur and harmonize with the actual situation.
We do not know who carried the Epistle. Ramsay considers very improbable the usual notion that the envoys mentioned in 2 Cor. 8:16–24 conveyed it. But Findlay follows the old view that Paul exhorts the church at Corinth to show proper respect to these three “messengers of the churches” “in the face of the churches” as the bearers of the Epistle as well as agents for the collection. The charge may have a reference to their previous mistreatment of Timothy. If this view is correct, Timothy was not one of the three, since he sends his salutation with Paul to the church (1:1). The committee would then probably be Titus, Luke, Erastus. We are grateful for this discussion of the great collection. It shows how Paul enlisted the churches in the enterprise, what difficulties he met, what success he attained. The comity of the churches is also manifest. Paul is anxious to stir Achaia on this subject. They had been kept so busy by the Judaizers in regulating Paul’s theology that they had overlooked the matter of the collection.
If the closing chapters (10–13) seem harsh and bitter, one must recall Acts 15, Gal. 2, and 1 Cor. 1–4, besides the many hints in 2 Cor. 1–7. Paul has reached the point where endurance ceases to be a virtue. The Judaizers turn every overture for peace into weakness. They ridicule his forbearance and his threats. They malign him, they pervert all that he says and does. They do not wish to be satisfied. They only wish new occasions for injuring Paul. Personal controversy is always to be regretted. It is sorrowful to reflect how easily theological controversy lapses into personalities. But Paul will not surrender to this insolent minority. He will expose them. He does it with the skill of a master. One is reminded of Matt. 23, where Jesus’ invective against the Pharisees in the temple is recorded. Paul uses here irony, ridicule, sarcasm, denunciation, threat. He is holding the rod in his hand as he writes. He will wield it when he comes if necessary. One must remember that Paul here is using the authority of the Apostle which the Lord gave him (12:12; 13:10). Ordinary ministers may well hesitate before they assume exactly this tone even under some provocation. But the time does come even now when there is nothing left for the true preacher to do but to lift up his voice and spare not (2 Cor. 13:2).
7. The Triumph in Corinth.—Paul distinctly implied that he would not come at once to Corinth (2 Cor. 12:20; 13:1, 5, 10). It would be only wise to give this powerful Epistle time to have its effect before he went himself. Luke says (Acts 20:2) that Paul gave “much exhortation” in “those parts.” We may suppose, therefore, that Paul and Timothy went on through Macedonia and “round about unto Illyricum” (Rom. 15:19), since after reaching Corinth Paul will write to Rome about that ministry when he “fully preached the Gospel of Christ.” He here, as always, made it his ambition to preach Christ where he had not yet been proclaimed so as not to build on another’s foundation (Rom. 15:20). We have no record of this ministry as indeed we have none of Paul’s labors in Arabia, Judea, Cilicia, Crete, Spain, if he did go there.
One could wish for some account of the reception of II Corinthians on the part of the Judaizing faction. But Luke expressly tells us that Paul came to Greece and spent three months there (Acts 20:2 f.). At last, therefore, he came and he staid. This simple story gives eloquent testimony to the efficacy of the Epistle. Doubtless the Judaizing emissaries disappeared before Paul came. The opposition dwindled away. When Paul actually arrived, all is at peace once more. He is loved and honored as he ought to have been all the time.
8. The Appeal to the Deserting Galatians.—Paul had saved the day at Corinth after a terrific struggle. But the cause has nearly been lost in Galatia. I do not raise again the question whether the Epistle to the Galatians was addressed to the Roman province as a whole, or to the Lycaonian and Phrygian disciples alone (South Galatia), or to the real Celts (North Galatia). That is an interesting historical inquiry, but, apart from a few incidental references, the interpretation of the Epistle is not materially changed whichever theory one adopts.
The Epistle throws practically no light on the time and place of its composition. In this respect it is quite unlike the Thessalonian and Corinthian letters. As to place, in fact, there is absolutely nothing to help one form an intelligent opinion. We know a little about the relation of the date to Paul’s first visit to the readers of the Epistle. He had preached the gospel to them rather by accident “because of an infirmity of the flesh” (Gal. 4:13) “the former time” (or “first”). Does that mean that he had preached to them on two separate visits before he wrote? That is possible, but not necessary. If he is not writing to the Celts of North Galatia, two visits would include the first and second tours. If he is addressing the Celts, the date would come after Paul had passed through “the upper country to Ephesus” (Acts 19:1) on the third tour. In that case the letter would be written either from Ephesus or from Corinth. On the other hand, if Paul does not mean that he had been twice among the Galatians and is writing only to South Galatia, the date could come soon after the first tour and not far from the time of the Jerusalem Conference. The place could be Antioch.
Where there are so many alternatives one welcomes everything that will help. In Gal. 1:6 Paul marvels “that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel.” But here again we do not know Paul’s standard of comparison for “so quickly” nor the visit which forms the starting-point. All that we really know is that in a few years from his last visit the Galatians are deserting Paul and his gospel of grace for the weak and beggarly elements of the world (4:9). In lieu of any decisive external evidence, I follow Lightfoot’s plan in placing this Epistle just before Romans. In these two Epistles we have the same general theme. In Romans Paul gives a more orderly, impersonal and dispassionate discussion of justification by faith. In Galatians the subject is at white heat. He is all aglow with fire and indignation. It would seem, therefore, that Galatians was written before, but not long before, Romans. We know that Romans was written while he was at Corinth, just before he started on his last journey to Jerusalem with a view of going to Rome and Spain (Rom. 15:22–31). The doctrinal atmosphere of the two Epistles is the same. Indeed, it is not difficult to hear the echo of II Corinthians in Galatians. The heavy blows that did such good execution in Corinth are now turned upon Galatia. Paul had heat on the subject of the Judaizing controversy about the time of the Jerusalem Conference, but it is hard to think that the situation in Galatia had developed so far as we find it in the Epistle. With some hesitation, therefore, I put Galatians toward the beginning of Paul’s “three months” in Greece. Romans came at the close. In the fall of 57 (or 56) A.D., therefore, when Paul reached Corinth, we may suppose that messengers had come over from Galatia to tell the story of the desertion of the Galatians.
The situation was really very bad. They had been bewitched by some wizard among the Judaizers (Gal. 3:1). One could wish to know who this man was. The Galatians at first had treated Paul like an angel (4:14), had even been ready to pluck out their eyes and give them to him (when he had eye trouble?). But now they look upon him as an enemy because he tells them the truth. They have wandered after a false gospel which is no gospel (1:7) at all. They have fallen away from grace and gone back under the bondage of the law (5:3 f.). They had been running well till this hinderer came. Now the Galatians have largely gone over to Judaism in the observance of Jewish days and feasts. Paul is afraid that his labor is all in vain (4:11). These Judaizers do not themselves keep the law which they have laid upon the necks of the Gentiles (6:13). Paul pronounces an anathema on these perverters of the gospel (1:8 f.). He cares nothing for the favor of men in a matter of this kind, this Apostle who was all things to all men if so be he could save some. It is, indeed, a fierce indictment which the Apostle has drawn and vividly portrays the success of the Judaizers since Paul was there. It shows well also what would have been the fate of Corinth if Paul had not put his whole soul into the struggle there. The desertion of the Galatians, however, astonished Paul beyond measure (4:9). They were Gentiles and had tasted freedom in Christ.
Paul changes his tone from invective to passionate pleading (4:19 f.). He is keenly alive to the bondage of Pharisaism since he once wore that yoke. He calls the Galatians “my little children” and wishes that he could see them once more, for then he would change his tone. He is in travail again over them. Meanwhile, he pleads with them to stand fast in the freedom which Christ gave them and not to be entangled in the yoke of bondage (5:1). He does not mean license, but liberty (5:13). He even takes the pen in his own hand and gives a closing summary in large letters (6:11). Did he have eye trouble still? He closes with a demand that no one trouble him more. He has the right to that respect by reason of “the marks of Jesus,” “branded” on his body (6:17) in perils oft for Christ. It is a powerful plea, and must have had an immediate effect. One may suppose that, as the Judaizers were driven out of Corinth, so they were expelled out of Galatia by this tremendous polemic.
As an apologetic for spiritual Christianity the Epistle to the Galatians has never been surpassed. The sparks fly hot from the anvil. The book met a great crisis and solved it. Luther used it with telling effect also in the Reformation, in his call to justification by faith, not by works. The manifest genuineness of the Epistle has made it a bulwark of the faith to-day. The heart of the gospel is in the Epistle. It is a permanent exposition of the spiritual life as against mere ceremonialism on the one hand and license in morals on the other. The note of reality is the dominant one here, the note of a live faith, a faith that shows work as proof of the faith. The Apostle has to vindicate his right to speak to the Galatians with authority (1 and 2). He then expounds his gospel to them (3 and 4) and pleads with them to be true to this gospel of freedom and life (5 and 6).
9. Paul’s Gospel: The Epistle to the Romans.—It is probable that the Epistle to the Romans was not written till shortly before Paul’s departure from Corinth. He is expecting to come to them soon (Rom. 1:10; 15:22–25). He must first go by Jerusalem (15:26–28), but it is manifest that he expects to start for Jerusalem promptly (15:25). We find him in Philippi during the passover feast (Acts 20:6) of this year on the way to Jerusalem. We may assume, therefore, that the Epistle to the Romans was written from Corinth toward the close of winter in A.D. 57 (or 56). The bearer of the letter was “Phœbe our sister, who is a servant of the church that is at Cenchreæ” (Rom. 16:1). Her going to Rome gave Paul the occasion for writing to the church there.
This is the first of Paul’s epistles to a church that was not established by him. He recognizes that this point will be observed and justifies it on the broad ground of his apostleship to the Gentiles (15:15 f.). He acknowledges his debt to all the Gentiles, both Greeks and Barbarians (1:14). He feels hopeful that they may be mutually helpful and confesses to a desire to some fruit among them as well as among the rest of the Gentiles (1:12 f.). In writing to them he does not wish to infringe upon the work of others (15:20). He had always avoided that. We do not know, indeed, who established the church at Rome. The numerous friends of Paul and former fellow-workers in various parts of the empire now in Rome (Rom. 16) explain to some extent the growth of the church there. Some of the these names are Greek, some Latin, some Jewish. Doubtless, the membership as a whole consisted of all three elements with a predominance of the Gentile element, since it is on that ground that Paul justifies his writing to the church. But Paul writes to the church as a whole without considering now one section, now the other! Whether the church arose under Jewish or Gentile auspices we cannot tell. The influx of the large body of Christian workers mentioned in Rom. 16 (for I take this chapter as a genuine part of the Epistle) was enough of itself to explain the rise and growth of the church in the imperial city. The tide of travel and life was toward Rome and drew many Christians along.
It is evident that Paul had already much influence in Rome. The names of his followers and friends given in Rom. 16 prove that the church already, before he wrote, had a positive Pauline influence. The names of Prisca and Aquila, already so closely linked with that of Paul in Corinth and Ephesus, greet us first on the list. Paul bears testimony to their devotion to him at the risk of their lives (Rom. 16:4), perhaps at Ephesus, and also to the gratitude of “all the churches of the Gentiles.” It is possible, according to Hort, that Prisca was connected with one of the important families (Priscus was a great Roman name) and was not a Jewess. Luke only calls Aquila a Jew of Pontus. At any rate, they are both here and have opened their house for a meeting of a portion or all of the church at Rome (16:5). Epænetus is from Asia (16:5). Paul knows of the great labors of Mary at Rome (16:6). Andronicus and Junias Paul calls his kinsmen and fellow-prisoners. They have a reputation among the Apostles and have been Christians longer than Paul (16:7). All the names called are dear to Paul for one reason or another. Nor does he name all whom he knows in Rome (16:14 f.). From the personal side Paul has ample justification for writing to the church at Rome.
The Epistle gives us a glimpse of Paul’s life in Corinth during the three months there. Gaius is his host, and of the whole church in truth (16:23). Paul had baptized him (1 Cor. 1:14) and he was evidently a man of importance. He may or may not have been the recipient of the third Epistle of John. Erastus, who has been with Paul in Ephesus and Macedonia (Acts 19:22) is the treasurer of the city of Corinth. Not many mighty were called there, but some were. Some of Paul’s kinsmen are with him here and Timothy (16:21). We know the name of the scribe to whom Paul dictated the Epistle, Tertius, who puts in a sentence of his own (16:22). We are grateful for all these personal items.
But Paul had a larger and stronger reason for writing to the church at Rome than these. It is no less than the first step of his plan of campaign in the west. He is now at the zenith of his work. He has established powerful churches in Cilicia and Syria, Galatia and Asia, Macedonia and Achaia. He looks to the great west and longs to win it to Christ. Rome is on the way to Spain and must be the base of operations for the work in Spain. He wishes, therefore, to prepare their minds for this great campaign (15:24, 28). It is no sudden impulse with him. He has long had the desire to come to Rome itself (15:23) and had oftentimes purposed to come. (1:13). He had been planning for this journey for some time (Acts 19:21). From Rome he could reach not only Spain, but also Gaul, Germany, North-western Africa, and even Britain. The church at Rome is the key to the work in the western half of the empire! Hence Paul wishes to get in definite touch with them before he comes to carry out his plans. We now see in outline Paul’s statesmanlike grasp of the situation in the empire which he purposes to take for Christ.
The purpose of the Epistle was not, therefore, primarily polemical as was true of Galatians. Most likely some Judaizers had gone on to Rome in pursuit of their plan to graft Judaism on to Gentile Christianity. They have definitely failed in the east, outside of Jerusalem, and Paul is going there. They are in Rome when Paul is there (Phil. 1:15 f.). It is entirely possible that a few of them had gone on to Rome. But, if so, they have made little headway as yet. Paul does indeed discuss the Judaizing controversy which has so largely consumed his energies of late, but he does so in a much calmer spirit and more indirectly. The treatment of meats offered to idols and the observance of Jewish days in Rom. 14 and 15 indicate that the Jewish problem was a real one in the church as it naturally would be in a church where both Jews and Gentiles mingled. The position taken is that held by Paul in 1 Cor. 8–10, though the discussion is briefer and with less heat. The Jerusalem agreement is not alluded to in either instance, and had long ago been abrogated by the Judaizers, though Paul, for a while at least, kept this part of the settlement. There was, to be sure, no reason to refer to it, now that the Judaizers had renewed the strife and were violating the decision. The rather, Paul presents fundamental considerations growing out of the Christian principles of love and forbearance.
But one word more is to be said. Probably most of the Roman disciples knew of the world-wide conflict between Paul and the Judaizers. They had heard the perversion of Paul’s gospel. It was only proper that Paul should give them, since he could not come to them at once, a more formal exposition of what his gospel really was. He is fully conscious of possessing a definite message which he calls his gospel (Rom. 2:16; 16:25). It was not that of the Judaizers. He is not ashamed to preach his gospel in Rome also (1:15). If it was good enough for Corinth, it was good enough for Rome. He wishes them to be established according to his gospel (16:25) which he is sure is the mind of Christ (1:1, cf. Gal. 1:6–10). This Epistle is not a treatise nor a mere book of systematic theology. It is not a sermon. It is at bottom, while in the form of an Epistle, a careful exposition of the fundamental principles of Paul’s message to the Gentiles which he considers to be the gospel of God (Rom. 15:16). He does not mean to imply that they are heretics or ignorant (15:14 f.). He will confine himself to what God has wrought through him (15:18). His gospel is the gospel of experience. It is well to remember, therefore, that in this most abstract of Paul’s Epistles he himself grounds his doctrines in God’s dealing with him. He will, therefore, attempt to expound the gospel to them in Rome. He is not ashamed of that gospel anywhere (1:16).
Findlay well suggests that “fronting the imperial city, Paul rises to a higher stature and assumes a loftier accent. The added stateliness of diction and amplitude of treatment betray an imagination, and a statesmanlike sense, touched by the majesty of Rome.” The Epistle is planned upon a grander scale with more artistic and literary skill than the preceding ones. He states this theme in 1:17 to be the revelation of God’s righteousness by faith. Around this central idea he developes what is an apologetic for his whole career, a polemic against the Judaizers, a fundamental and philosophical discussion of the plan of redemption in its bearing on Gentile and Jew. In the rest of chapter 1, Paul proceeds to show how the Gentiles are lost without the gospel. But the Jew is not a whit better off because he does not live up to his increase of light (chapter 2 and 3:1–20). In 3:21–31 Paul expounds his theory of the plan of salvation. He then shows how at bottom it is in harmony with the covenant of grace as shown in the case of Abraham (ch. 4). He points out the great advantages of justification by faith in practice and in theoretical comparison between Christ and Adam (chapter 5). Paul answers the objection of a carping Jew who might urge that salvation by grace was really an invitation to license. Instead of that it is an appeal to life in Christ since one has died to sin (ch. 6 and 7:1–6). But the consecrated life is not an easy one (7:7–25) and is possible only by the help of the Holy Spirit who makes the triumphant outcome beyond doubt (ch. 8). Here we reach the conclusion of Paul’s theology as applied to justification and sanctification. He feels called upon, however, to relate the elective purpose of God to the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles since so largely the Jews are turning away from Christ (9–11). The whole argument is magnificent and is unsurpassed for profundity, analysis, and power. He makes a great appeal for consecration to Christ and mutual helpfulness (12–15). He has, in reality, given us his philosophy of history and his hope of the ultimate triumph of the gospel over Jew as well as Gentile. When Paul began his work it was doubtful what the Gentiles would do. Now the Jew is the problem. We can only be grateful for this grand exposition of the mature theology of Paul at the climax of his career written with deliberation and care.
10. The Gathering Storm at Jerusalem.—The horizon has brightened all round save at Jerusalem. This city has continued to be the home of the Judaizers. We are not at liberty to say that any of the Apostles sympathized with them. It way be assumed that the Apostles remained firm in their compact with Paul (Gal. 2:9). James, the chief Jerusalem elder, has continued to be Paul’s friend, as will appear on Paul’s arrival there. But the Jerusalem church was very large and the Judaizers very active. It would be easy in the long absence of Paul to misrepresent his real position. The noise of the conflict between Paul and the Judaizers would reach Jerusalem. The Judaizing missionaries would return to report, and so the Jerusalem church would have the full benefit of the Judaizing side of the controversy.
Paul was not unaware of the situation in Jerusalem. While at Ephesus he was planning to go to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21), though when he wrote I Corinthians he was thinking of sending the collection by messengers of the churches with letters to Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16:3 f.) and to go himself only if it seemed meet. But before he leaves Corinth it is clear that he must go himself because of the disobedient in Judea (Rom. 15:31). He had used the utmost prudence in the collection to be above suspicion in the eyes of men (2 Cor. 8:21; 12:17). The collection has been going on quite a while and is now complete. Galatia, Asia, Macedonia, and Achaia (1 Cor. 16:1; Rom. 15:26) have contributed toward it. Agents of the churches from each province accompanied Paul to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4 f.). Some mss. add “as far as Asia,” but this is probably a gloss. Luke goes from Philippi with him to Jerusalem (Acts 20:6). Trophimus of Asia is expressly mentioned in Jerusalem (Acts 21:29). Paul had taken a contribution there before with Barnabas from the Gentile church at Antioch to Jerusalem (Acts 11:30), and it had a good effect. Besides, he had promised the Apostles at the Jerusalem Conference to do this thing (Gal. 2:10). It is now supremely important that something be done to conciliate the Jerusalem Christians who have had their minds poisoned against Paul and his work. Paul feels that it is only just for the Gentiles thus to acknowledge this debt to Jerusalem (Rom. 15:27). He is not certain of the outcome and asks for the prayers of the Roman disciples as he faces his adversaries again in their home. He did that once and was victorious. But that was some seven or eight years ago. Many changes have come meanwhile.
The Judaizers seem to have vanished from Corinth when Paul came, but not so the Jews. They are as hostile as ever, though more cautious. They do not repeat their inglorious experiment before Gallio, but resort to a secret plot to kill him as he was about to sail for Syria, possibly on a pilgrim ship carrying Achaian and Asian Jews to the passover. Fortunately Paul discovered the scheme in time and changed his route by Philippi. God overrules all things. One of the blessings of this change of plan was that Paul picked up Luke again in Philippi (Acts 20:6), who goes with him to Rome and is with him when he writes his last letter. Luke might, indeed, have gone on to Jerusalem with Paul anyhow, meeting him at Ephesus, but the sudden change in Paul’s plans indicates the contrary. Luke passes over Paul’s week in Philippi with a verse only. One could wish to hear again of Lydia. We may be sure of Paul’s welcome here, for this church was loyal and actively helpful. Perhaps Luke and Lydia explain much of their zeal for Paul and his work. The rest of the party had gone on to Troas ahead of Paul, and Luke also came after the passover in a voyage that took five days (Acts 20:6).
The stay at Troas gave Paul opportunity to do some work that he had not been able to do when he was last here. They are meeting on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), after the fashion that was soon to become universal among the Christians in the breaking of bread. Luke the physician was interested in the death and recovery of Eutychus (Acts 20:9–12), who slept and fell out of the window while Paul preached. It was a long sermon, and Paul resumed it after bringing life back to the young man.
We may not tarry long with Paul and his party on their way to Jerusalem. Paul walked alone from Troas to Assos where he again took ship with his companions. In the beautiful spring-time they sail slowly through the Grecian Archipelago, stopping at Mitylene, passing by Chios, touching at Samos, and on to Miletus. Paul did not wish to stop at Ephesus, since he was anxious to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost (Acts 20:16). Besides, he had probably not yet forgotten the manner of his departure just a year before. But he had time at Miletus to send for the elders of the church at Ephesus, who came. Luke probably heard the address of Paul to this body of preachers (Acts 20:17–35). Possibly he took notes at the time. At any rate, he has preserved it with wonderful sympathy and tenderness. Here we see Paul talking as a preacher to preachers (cf. Jesus in John 14–17). He speaks about his own pastoral problems at Ephesus and how he met them. He urges them to fidelity to themselves and to the flock, to feed the church of God, to guard the flock against “grievous wolves” who will come among them. As for himself, he is going bound in the spirit from a stern sense of duty to Jerusalem, not knowing what his fate there will be except that the Holy Spirit has repeatedly told him that bonds and afflictions await him (Acts 20:22 f.). But he does not care for that, if only he may really accomplish his course and his ministry. His life is not dear to himself apart from that. He may never see them again (20:25), as he now feels. It was a pathetic scene as he knelt on the sea-shore, prayed, and wept with these devoted ministers. They went with him down to the ship and saw it sail out of sight. Did they ever see Paul again?
Luke hurries his narrative on by Cos, Rhodes, to Patara, where a new ship was found, one going to Phœnicia (21:2). They come in sight of Cyprus, going to the south of it. Did not Paul think of Barnabas, of Mark, of Sergius Paulus? At Tyre they landed and the same warning came from the Holy Spirit about his fate at Jerusalem. Paul evidently took it all as information, not as prohibition (Acts 21:4). But another pathetic parting occurred on the shore. There was a stop at Ptolemais, and now they come to Cæsarea, the port for Jerusalem. Here Paul meets Philip the evangelist (21:8), the former deacon (Acts 6) and friend of Stephen. Like Stephen, he had become a powerful preacher (Acts 8). His four virgin daughters have the gift of prophecy. One can but wonder if the subject of Stephen came up between Paul and Philip. Paul, as has often been said, was the real successor of Stephen. But Agabus, a prophet from Judea, Comes and gives Paul a most dramatic warning as to the fate that awaited him in Jerusalem (21:11). This was more than enough both for Paul’s party and his friends in Cæsarea. Their pleading did come near breaking Paul’s heart, but did not change his adherence to his sense of duty. Bonds and death for the name of Jesus had no terrors for Paul (21:12–14). The brethren acquiesced in the will of the Lord when they failed to have their own way (verse 14).
This almost tragic narrative of Luke will enable us to understand the gravity of the situation at Jerusalem as Paul saw it. He was not willing to go on to Rome and the west and leave a cankering sore at Jerusalem right in the heart of Christendom. Under God he had won the east for Christ and saved it from the Judaizers. He would win the west. But, if he left the great church at Jerusalem practically at outs with him, the trouble might break out again in Syria, Galatia, Asia, Macedonia, Achaia. And if he should be able to hold his following again there would be a schism in the Christian body. There was already a Judaic type of Christianity of a harmless sort represented by James and Peter. In principle this conception of Christianity did not differ from the Gentile type represented by Paul. But the Judaizers were driving the thing to the extreme. They were not content for the Judaic type and the Pauline type to exist side by side. They aimed to destroy the Pauline type and compel Peter and James to come over to their view. If they failed in this, the next step would be an open split. They could organize a denomination composed only of loyal Pharisaic Christians. No uncircumcised Gentiles would be admitted. Paul saw this peril as he came toward Jerusalem. Once the cloud was no bigger than a man’s hand. Now it covers the face of the heavens. But he will not run in the face of danger. He is willing to die if he can save the cause of freedom for the Gentile Christians and overthrow the power of the Judaizers who have intrenched themselves in Jerusalem.
He will then go on, come what may. Paul’s party falls in with Mnason, of Cyprus, one of the early disciples. Possibly he knew Paul at Antioch or during the first tour in Cyprus, He has a home in Jerusalem, it seems, whither he is now going probably for the feast of Pentecost. Some of the disciples from Cæsarea went on also. So it is a goodly company, but one with the shadow of a grave portent overhanging them. Perhaps they have something of the courage of Thomas who proposed that the disciples go to Jerusalem with Jesus to die with him (John 11:16). There are, indeed, many points of similarity between Paul’s last trip to Jerusalem and the situation of Jesus as he faced his death. Paul comes to Jerusalem conscious of approaching disaster. Jesus foresaw clearly the death that was coming. Paul was largely in the dark save that he knew that he was beset by his enemies here. The time that Paul was at the conference here the church was on his side in the controversy. How is it now? How will the believers receive him? He knows only too well what the Jews will do if they get a chance.


“If, then I am a wrong-doer, and have committed anything worthy of death, I refuse not to die; but if none of these things is true whereof these accuse me, no man can give me up unto them. I appeal unto Cæsar” (Acts 25:11).
1. The Charge of the Judaizers.—Paul had come to Jerusalem to face this charge. His fame had filled all the Jewish world. Jerusalem had long been all agog with it. The Jews thus hated him with more intensity than ever and indorsed the hostile attacks made upon him by their brethren in various parts of the world. In the later accusations against Paul he will be described as a general disturber of the peace all over the world.
Paul’s reception by the leading disciples in Jerusalem was all that he could wish. The brethren “received him gladly,” and on the next day Paul and his company paid a formal visit to James and all the elders who had met at the house of James (Acts 21:17 f.). They listened to Paul’s story with the same enthusiasm that they had shown when he first recited his account of the work during the first missionary tour. He took his time, for he had much to tell, and “rehearsed one by one the things which God had wrought through his ministry.” They “glorified God” now as before. So far all was well. Paul was assured of the loyalty of James and the elders. They had not believed the perversions of the Judaizers.
But the elders felt obliged to tell Paul that Jerusalem was full of rumors about him, diligently circulated by the Judaizers (Acts 21:21), to the effect that Paul was opposed to the observance of the Mosaic ceremonial law by the Jewish Christians; in fact, that he taught the Jews of the Dispersion to forsake Moses and the customs of the fathers. It is easy to see what a serious situation this new charge created. At the time of the Jerusalem Conference Paul contended for freedom for the Gentile Christians from the Mosaic regulations and won his point. No issue was raised about the Jewish Christians. it was simply assumed that they would keep up the customs of the fathers.
It is easy to see why this new charge was trumped up against Paul. They had failed to carry their contention for the bondage of the Gentile Christians to the Mosaic ritual. Their resentment against Paul led them to manufacture this charge in order to ruin him. It was this charge that caused Stephen’s death (Acts 6:11). The charge against Stephen was false and was supported by hired witnesses, as was that against Jesus about the destruction of the temple. In reality the Pharisees had opposed Jesus mainly because they considered him hostile to their traditions. So Paul is in the goodly succession of Jesus and Stephen. In all probability it occurred to Paul that now at last he himself was to face the very charge that cost Stephen his life. That story Paul knew only too well. In Paul’s case, however, the perversion of his position came from the Judaizers, fellow-Christians, alas!
The saddest part about the matter was that the charge of the Judaizers was credited by the many thousands among the Jews in Jerusalem who had believed (Acts 21:20), or at any rate they were disposed to credit it. It was the old story of readiness to believe evil of a good man. They probably argued that, as Paul had gone so far about the Gentiles, it was only a step further to make the Jews also throw off the yoke of Moses.
It is hardly necessary to state Paul’s real position about the Jewish Christians and the Mosaic ceremonial law. He has nowhere said that it. was wrong for Jewish Christians to observe it. His battle had been for the Gentiles and had been successful. The case with the Jews was very different As Jews they felt the insufficiency of the law and became Christians in order to be saved as Peter had so well said at the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15:10 f.). Christianity was the complement of Judaism, not Judaism the complement of Christianity. Both Jew and Gentile were under sin (Rom. 3:20) and needed to be redeemed by the grace of Christ. That done, there was no need to impose Greek philosophy on the Jew nor Jewish law on the Greek. It might, indeed, be needless for the Jewish Christian to keep up the ceremonial law. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth anything. But it was not wrong nor had Paul so taught.
2. The Plan for Answering the Charge.—The brethren in Jerusalem had evidently decided on what to do before Paul came. They put the matter to him gently (Acts 21:20). In truth, Paul is persona non grata to the saints as a whole in Jerusalem. It will not be possible to conceal his presence in town (21:22). The thing for Paul to do is to be seen in the temple offering sacrifices for himself and four men who have a vow. Thus “all shall know that there is no truth in the things whereof they have been informed concerning thee” (21:24). Clearly the falsehood of the Judaizers will be completely answered and all will see “that thou thyself also walkest orderly, keeping the law.” It is plain that James and the elders are greatly troubled over the situation. It is time for action, not mere talk.
In itself the thing that they ask Paul to do is not at all inconsistent with this general position. Indeed, he had been anxious to come to the Jewish Pentecost which was probably now going on. He had urged the Galatians as Gentiles not to observe the Jewish feast (Gal. 4:10), but for the Jews such matters were subjects for individual freedom (Rom. 14:4–8). At Cenchreæ Paul may have completed a vow similar to the one now upon these four men (Acts 18:18). He had had Timothy circumcised. Hence with apparent alacrity Paul acquiesced in the proposal and on the next day purified himself with the men and entered the temple. An offering was made for every one of them, and the service was to continue for seven days (21:26 f.). Paul, of course, did not consider the sacrifice as of real efficacy in itself, but merely as part of the shadow that found its realization in the real sacrifice of Jesus our Passover (1 Cor. 5:7).
The brethren make it plain to Paul that his conduct is not to be interpreted as a reversal of the agreement made before concerning the freedom of the Gentiles. They only wish that the Gentiles continue to respect Jewish prejudices concerning things sacrificed to idols, blood, things strangled, and fornication (21:25). This pointed reference to the Jerusalem letter to the Gentile Christians is interesting since it is alluded to only once after the return to Antioch (Acts 16:4). Evidently the brethren at Jerusalem continue to regard it as still an agreement that is binding in spite of the conduct of the Judaizers. Paul himself, as we know from I Corinthians and Romans, had gone into the subject of meats offered to idols more exhaustively, though his advice is in accord with the decision of the conference.
So far as one could judge beforehand, the advice of the brethren to Paul seemed wise. He had all to gain and nothing to lose by such a course. Suppose that Paul had refused to do what was asked of him. It would have been instantly construed as proof of the charge against him. To be seen obeying the law as a pious Jew in the temple would do more with the common people than any amount of explanation or argument.
3. The Jews from Asia Upset the Plan.—ln all probability the conduct of Paul did dispel the prejudices against him in the minds of the disciples at Jerusalem who had been misled by the Judaizers. The leaders among the Judaizers do not themselves appear in the present situation. So far as is known the Christian Jews of Jerusalem, who noticed what he did, were satisfied. The thing seemed a master-stroke of wisdom.
But Paul had enemies of many kinds. He had labored in various parts of the world and had left behind him many rankling animosities. The feast of Pentecost had brought many Jews to Jerusalem from the Dispersion. “The Jews from Asia” here at the feast knew Paul of old in Ephesus. They were hardened against the Way long ago (Acts 19:9) and joined in the clamor against Paul’s friends in the theatre at Ephesus (19:33). They well knew the power of uproar with a mob as they saw it on that occasion. It so happened that Paul had brought Trophimus, one of his Greek converts from Ephesus, with him to Jerusalem as one of the bearers of the collection. One day they saw Paul and Trophimus walking together in the city (21:29). Another day they saw Paul in the temple (21:27). That was enough for them. They “supposed” that Paul had brought Trophimus into the temple also as he walked with him on the street. They felt that he was none too good to do so anyhow. The definite charge that Paul brought Greeks (Trophimus has now been multiplied) into the temple and so defiled this holy place is merely the local coloring to their previous hatred (21:28). The first charge was more general: “This is the man that teacheth all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place.” They claimed to know how he had done at Ephesus. It was once more the charge against Stephen (Acts 6:13). Paul had heard the cries of the mob after Stephen’s blood as he held his garments. Now he hears the yelping wolves as they gnash their teeth at him.
It matters not that Paul at this very moment was engaged in an act of worship in accordance with the Mosaic ritual. It was a small consideration that Paul did not have any Greeks with him then. The Jews from Asia did not say where the Greeks were nor when the act of defilement occurred. They had raised the cry of “fire,” so to speak. Then they vanish out of sight. It will be probably five years before Paul will be set free from the consequences of this malicious falsehood. He had faced many perils before this. Mobs had raged round him at Lystra, Thessalonica, Berœa, Corinth, and at Ephesus he had to fight with veritable wild beasts in human form. But this is a Jewish mob, a religious mob, a fanatical rabble like those that clamored for the blood of Christ and of Stephen. It is not difficult to start a senseless mob (all mobs are senseless) after an innocent man. Only touch a sensitive spot and the mischief is done. In Ephesus the Temple of Diana was the cry. In Jerusalem the Temple of Jehovah. The whole city was soon in a stir. Paul was literally dragged out of the temple and the doors shut to keep him and his imaginary Greeks out. The next thing was to kill him. Probably the masses of them knew little of Paul of late years save that they heard of him as a renegade Jew. But enough knew of his great work for Christ to give edge to the movement against him.
The Roman power saves Paul from death. The sight of the Roman military tribune with soldiers stopped the murderous act. The mob left off beating Paul (21:32). But the captain thought that he must be a dreadful man to be the victim of such a mob’s hate. He would take no chances and so bound Paul with two chains. He got little information from the crowd as to who he was and what he had done. Probably some did not even know who Paul was. Few knew what the charge of the Jews from Asia was. All who had ever heard anything bad about Paul spoke it out. The captain was only puzzled by the uproar. The soldiers actually had to lift Paul upon the stairs of the tower of Antonia from the violence of the crowd. Paul heard them yell “Away with him” (21:36). Jesus had heard that same cry a generation ago.
The captain was at his wits’ end, like Pilate before him. Inside the castles, in astonishment that he knew Greek (21:37 f.), he asks Paul if he is not the dreadful Egyptian Assassin. Paul is proud to claim his Jewish ancestry and his citizenship in Tarsus. He was, indeed, a civilized man! That was reassuring to the captain. But what was the trouble all about? The Jews were curious people surely.
4. Paul’s Defence to the Mob.—A moment like this calls for all of one’s resources. It was worth something if he could get this hostile rabble to listen at all. They had already prejudged his case. They did not wish to pause for a speech. They longed for his blood. Not even the presence of the Roman soldiery had kept them quiet.
The captain gave Paul leave to speak with probably much doubt as to the outcome. It was one of the queerest cases that had ever come under his care. It was a magnificent spectacle to see Paul stand on the stairs and lift up his hand unto this people whom he so much loved (Rom. 9:1–5) and who so hated him. He spoke to the captain in Greek (Acts 21:37), but to the Jews in Hebrew (Aramaic, 21:40). That very fact gave him a better hearing. They would probably, nearly all of them, have understood the Greek, but there was a greater silence when he spoke in the tongue of the people (20:2). He had won that much. He had their attention. He even called this rough crowd “brethren and fathers.” Members of the Sanhedrin had come into the crowd (22:5). He put himself en rapport with his hearers as far as it was possible. One is reminded of a like behavior on Paul’s part on Mars Hill.
Paul pleaded for a respectful hearing on the ground of his Hebrew birth and training (22:3–5). It is a familiar story to all of them who cared to know, especially to the members of the Sanhedrin with whom he had once had such intimate relations. He had been educated here in the school of Gamaliel and had once looked upon Christ as they still do. He knew what it was to lust for blood with the persecutor’s hunger. Their passion towards him he had once shared towards others.
He explains that his conversion was due to the direct intervention of God and hence should command their attention (22:6–16). It was the last thing that he had ever expected to happen to him. The change in him was of God’s doing, and no one should charge him with being a turncoat or renegade Jew. The details that Paul gives all prove that his conversion was due to the direct interposition of Jesus himself. Could any one blame him for surrendering to Jesus, then? Would they have done differently?
This is not the first time that he has told his story in Jerusalem (22:17–21). When his preaching, a long time ago, met with opposition in Jerusalem, Jesus told him in a trance to get out of Jerusalem quickly because the Jews would not hear his testimony. Ho had that trance as he prayed in this very temple where he was just now worshipping. He had reminded the Lord Jesus that all people in Jerusalem would know that his change was sincere since he had been so public in his opposition to Stephen and the rest. But even so the Lord Jesus bade him depart for there was no work for him in Jerusalem. As it was then, so it clearly is now. He did not choose to go to the Gentiles of his own accord. He would have been glad to have preached at Jerusalem if that were possible. It was the Lord’s will that he go to the Gentiles.
Paul probably had much more to say, as at Athens. He had laid the foundations for a skilful apologetic for his ministry to the Gentiles, and he could now put in its true light exactly what he had preached to the Gentiles, why he had come to Jerusalem, what he was doing in the temple at the very moment when the Jews from Asia started the hue and cry about him. But the mob would have none of it. Paul had used one word too many, the word “Gentiles” (22:21 f.). The charge against him had been that he had brought Greeks into the temple. They instantly react to that and all of Paul’s fine diplomacy has come to naught. A mob is fickle at best or worst. The psychology of a crowd, the mob mind, is a curious reality. The excitement once started again was more virulent than ever. Garments, dust, yells, all filled the air.
The poor captain was now sorry that he had let Paul speak. The speech had been in Aramaic and he had probably not understood a word of it. As a result, he is more mystified than ever. But he is now out of patience also. If no one can tell him what all this business means, he will examine Paul by scourging, that he may know “for what cause they so shouted against him” (22:24). He is tired of being in the dark. Luke gives much detail. When Paul was tied with thongs, he dropped a remark that positively frightened the centurion. It was unlawful to scourge a Roman at all. It was unlawful to scourge anybody uncondemned. It was a narrow escape, and the chief captain eagerly asked if Paul was really a Roman (22:27 f.). Paul was proud to say: “I am a Roman born.” It was the one magic word in all the world. The examination was postponed Indefinitely. He had been too rash with Paul and had bound him severely for scourging. One need not wonder that Paul here appealed to his rights as a Roman citizen. It was plain that he could not get justice from the Jewish mob nor even from the Roman officials without doing so. But instantly a new turn comes to the affairs of Paul. The Roman captain sees that Paul cannot be mistreated bodily, nor must any official irregularities be allowed. The forms of legal usage must be observed else he will have to answer for his failure.
5. Paul before the Sanhedrin.—The chief captain had failed utterly to unravel this Jewish snarl. He did not have the wit nor the courage of Gallio to cut the Gordian knot of thin peccadillos and punctilios. Besides, though Paul was a Roman citizen, his offence seemed to concern the Jews somehow. So he called a meeting of the Sanhedrin to clear up the matter for him. Surely Paul was guilty of something or other. These grave judges could determine what his crime was.
It is a familiar experience for Paul to meet with this body of distinguished Jewish officials. If he had not been a member himself, which was entirely possible, he, at any rate, had been the official agent of the body and had often had conferences with them. Many of them were known to him by face. But it was a new experience for him to be on trial before the Sanhedrin. Here again he was following in the footsteps of Stephen.
But Paul has a very brief word to add to what he had said on the steps of the tower the day before: “Brethren, I have lived before God in all good conscience until this day” (Acts 23:1). It was a simple enough thing to say; it contradicted all the charges made by the mob against Paul and evidently indorsed by the Sanhedrin. They had long wished to have him in their power, and now by a turn in the wheel of fortune that time had come. It was an insult to the body for Paul to assert that all he had done against Judaism, as they conceived it, was done in good conscience. If anything, it only made the matter worse.
This point of view explains the conduct of the high priest who so hotly resented Paul’s brief defence. It also throws light on Paul’s indignant response to the high priest’s command. It is not merely to be noted that Paul did not turn the other cheek. Jesus did not do that, but firmly protested against such treatment. What is more noticeable is that Paul pronounced a bitter curse on the high priest, calling him a “whited wall,” a vivid way of terming him a hypocrite (23:3). A good many explanations have been offered for Paul’s remark that he did not know that it was the high priest (23:5): such as his weak eyes, the change of dress in the high priest, etc. It seems to me that the most natural view is that Paul was so angry that he was not at the moment considering the fact that it was the high priest to whom he was speaking. His denunciation of the high priest was a sudden explosion, not a deliberate reviling.
But clearly Paul’s outburst had not helped his chances for acquittal by the Sanhedrin or recommendation to the captain for release. It was plain that the body as a whole was already hostile to him.
Paul’s perception (23:6) that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees was, of course, nothing new to him. It was merely that he then saw how he could turn that fact to his advantage. These two sects were still bitterly hostile on many points. Paul knew all about their controversies. One may here recall how Gamaliel had declined to help the Sadducees persecute the Apostles on the issue of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. On that issue alone, apart from the claims of Jesus to be the Messiah, the Pharisees had no fight with Christianity. Paul probably knew all about the conduct of Gamaliel on that occasion. On this point, as opposed to the Sadducees, he was still a Pharisee (23:6). It was also true that at bottom the charge against him involved tie question of the resurrection of the dead in the case of Jesus. That was the point that turned the scales with him when he became a Christian as he had explained to the mob on yesterday. He brushed aside the superficial charges made by the Asian Jews yesterday and which nobody remembered clearly enough to tell the chief captain. Those charges had not come before the Sanhedrin. As a matter of fact Paul felt himself to be on trial for his whole Christian career, not for any special act in that career. Hence he was entirely justified in his statement of the case. He had not said all that was true of himself, He did not, of course, mean that he was merely a Pharisee. They knew full well that he was also a Christian. What he means for the Sanhedrin to understand is that, although a Christian, as he had explained on yesterday, he was still a Pharisee on the essential doctrine of the resurrection, and that this doctrine was really at stake in the case against him.
A great deal depends on the way a thing is put. Paul had purposely and shrewdly stated the matter so as to array the two parties against each other. Surely no one can fairly say that Paul had no right to save his own life by a skilful manœuvre like this. What he did was in no sense immoral. He divided to conquer as any able general will do. It was war in which Paul was now engaged. He was in the hands of men who were bent on his ruin. He told no untruth nor acted one. Yet he so completely outgeneraled his enemies that the grave and dignified judges lost control of themselves in a theological scramble and lost all sight of Paul (23:9 f.). This incident throws a curious sidelight on the intensity of the feeling between the two great Jewish parties since they could not control themselves when in court. Probably such discussions were common, as Paul knew. The jury was now hopelessly hung. In the heat of debate the Pharisees had actually become the champions of Paul and openly proclaimed his innocence, while the Sadducees as stoutly maintained his guilt (23:9 f.). The division among the judges was strictly according to party lines as is often the case to-day when a number of judges act on a partisan issue.
Indeed, so fierce had become the furor between the two parties that the chief captain actually had to rescue Paul by force to keep him from being torn to pieces in their attacks on each other. He was safe in the castle from the Sanhedrin as yesterday when he had been rescued from the mob. Still the mystery remained to the chief captain. What was the matter with Paul? What had he done? The Sanhedrin had behaved as badly as the mob.
Ramsay discusses at some length why Luke has gone into the series of trials at Jerusalem and Cæsarea in such detail. It is due, he thinks, to Luke’s idea that this experience in Paul’s life marked an epoch in the history of early Christianity. He thinks that some light may be thrown on the matter by reason of the fact that this contact with Roman provincial and finally imperial law set an example or precedent for Christians afterward. He is sure that Luke contemplated a third book to take up Paul’s career after his acquittal. That may be true, but one cannot prove it from Luke’s use of “first” (πρῶτον, Acts 1:1), a usage common in the Koine vernacular, as in modern English, where only two subjects are under consideration. One may add that, after all, the space given by Luke to this period of five years when he was with Paul is not greatly out of proportion to the space devoted in Acts to the five years before. This close grapple with the Jewish people, the Sanhedrin, Roman provincial governors and finally the Emperor himself did vitally concern not only Paul’s own career, but the development and progress of Christianity unhindered by Jew and Roman. Heretofore the Roman, save at Philippi under a misapprehension, had not been really hostile. But now at last Paul has to get a better adjustment with Roman law than the temporary permission resulting from Gallio’s indulgence. The matter, of course, was pressed against Paul on the ground of his personal shortcomings, not that of Christianity per se. But, as a matter of fact, it was the great success of Paul that had concentrated Jewish hate on him.
Paul had never needed the help of Jesus more than now. James and the elders were not very prominent just now. We know very well where their sympathies were. But their advice had all turned out wrong somehow. It was vain to give mere advice, and they had naught else but prayer. Paul’s life had been saved twice, once from the mob, once from the Sanhedrin. No hope lay In further appeal in either direction. The Roman captain seemed kindly, in a way, but he was afraid to be too friendly to Paul for fear the Jews would complain to Felix, the Governor at Cæsarea. The road began to seem long to Paul. That night Jesus stood by him as he had appeared to him once before in Jerusalem when the Jews were hostile to him. Then Jesus bade him leave Jerusalem for work among the Gentiles. Then he fled to escape trouble. Now he cannot escape. He is caught in the toils. His enemies howl about him on every side, But Jesus has a cheering word even now (23:11). It is that after all he shall go to Rome. He will not then die at once. His life will be spared, but Jesus had no word about freedom. He will testify in Rome as in Jerusalem. At Jerusalem his testimony had borne little fruit save a harvest of trouble. What has Rome in store for him?
6. Paul’s Rescue from the Conspirators.—Paul needed the comfort of this reassurance on that very day, for at dawn the Jews banded together under a curse neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul (Acts 23:12). The riot had failed, the Sanhedrin had failed, the Roman captain was uncertain. A plot was the only sure thing. One recalls the plot against Paul by the Jews of Corinth on his departure.
It was a formidable conspiracy of forty Jewish zealots. It was essential to the plan to tell the Sanhedrin and let them be partners in the crime. The Sanhedrin had a technical ground on which to request another hearing of Paul’s case, since the matter had not come to a clear issue before and the captain had himself taken Paul from them. The Sanhedrin could easily use this pretext, “as though ye would judge of his case more exactly” (23:15). They were brutally told the whole plot: “And we, before he comes near, are ready to slay him.” Luke plainly implies that the Sanhedrin agreed to this murderous plot, and they were the ecclesiastical lights of Judaism.
But Jesus had not deserted Paul. “Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait.” You can count on a boy to learn what is on foot. So many people knew the scheme that some were overheard talking of it. This boy was worthy of his uncle and went and told Paul. The rest was easily managed. Soon the boy goes with a centurion to the chief captain. Note the centurion’s point of view about “Paul the prisoner” (23:18), just one of the many prisoners on hand! He little knew that he was dealing with the greatest man alive at that time, one of the greatest of all time. The chief captain was a man of skill. He took the boy aside and held his hand as he told his story. He told it simply and begged the chief captain not to let Paul fall into the trap set for him.
Put it to the credit of Claudius Lysias that he had courage enough to thwart this plot. He naturally enjoined silence on the boy, and sped Paul out of Jerusalem at nine o’clock that night (the third hour) under the protection of four hundred and seventy soldiers. Paul was a Roman citizen and Lysias was determined that he should not be murdered. This desire explains the size of the guard and the three kinds of soldiers sent (legionary soldiers, horsemen, and spearmen). In order to guarantee speed, “beasts” were provided for Paul. Lysias was doubtless glad of a way out of a troublesome situation. He was perfectly willing to pass Paul on to Felix, with his compliments, just as Pilate had tried to get Herod Antipas to decide the case of Jesus. His letter was therefore very courteous. He now, for the first time, betrays some knowledge of the charges against Paul. They were merely “questions of their law” (23:29) He even expressed the opinion, as Pilate did about Jesus, that he had “nothing laid to his charge worthy of death.” But all the same he made no recommendation in the case, though he implied that he ought to be set free. He explains that he had already brought him before the Jewish Council to learn what the charges were about. He did not get any definite information, but only that they disagreed among themselves about Paul. So he has sent Paul the prisoner down to Cæsarea with the charge to his accusers to come before Felix also. This he did because of a plot. Thus far the letter is in accord with Luke’s story of the facts. But he puts too favorable a color on his arrest of Paul. He had, indeed, rescued Paul from the mob, but not until he learned that he was a Roman! He thus covers up his peril of scourging a Roman citizen, and turns his conduct into a defence of the rights of the Roman citizen. He is now rid of Paul and has cleared his skirts of any possible harm from the case.
The soldiers only accompanied Paul as far as Antipatris, but the seventy horsemen, after a night’s rest there, went on with him to Cæsarea. Lysias had told Paul’s accusers, it seems (23:30), that he would be sent to Cæsarea, but evidently had not revealed his plan for doing so. Hence he succeeded in delivering Paul to Felix with the letter. The usual Roman procedure is manifest in the question of Felix about Paul’s province (Cilicia). It was only proper for him to wait till the accusers came, and he was kept in Herod’s palace (prætorium) in Cæsarea. Felix promised Paul a full investigation.
7. Paul before Felix.—As explained in a previous chapter, one could wish that he knew exactly the date of Felix’s recall. It was after he had kept Paul two years (Acts 24:27). The matter cannot be discussed here. It may be assumed to be either 60 or 59 A.D. Hence Paul appears before Felix first in the spring of 58 or 57. Felix was a representative of the worst type of Roman provincial governor. He is a fit successor of Pilate, a man guilty of every vice. Tacitus bluntly said of him that “in the practice of every kind of lust and cruelly he exercised the power of a king with the temper of a slave.” How much Paul knew of Felix we do not know. But the Jewish rules knew his vulnerable points as they did about Pilate and will not hesitate to make charges to the Emperor about Felix as they threatened to Pilate to do. Felix is open to all that is worst in Roman provincial administration—to graft, bribery, indifference, selfish advantage. It is not a hopeful outlook for Paul. Relentless Jewish hatred will press the case against him before a governor who has no scruples about abstract justice nor particular interest in a troublesome Jewish rabbi who happens to have also Roman citizenship.
The case of the Sanhedrin is ably presented. The high priest Ananias took five days to get the charges against Paul properly prepared. He comes with “certain elders, and with an orator, one Tertullus” (24:1). They seem to have laid their side before Felix before the trial. Tertullus has a Roman name and is clearly a Roman lawyer who knows how to plead before a governor like Felix from the point of view of Roman provincial law. His speech could have been in Latin, but was probably in Greek since it was assented to by the Jews (24:9). He was an adept in flattery and adroitness. He actually praises Felix as a reformer! He fawns before the corrupt Governor to carry his point. His smooth sentences roll along till he comes to Paul, whom he damns by a phrase—“this pestilent fellow.” Paul the prisoner is now Paul the pest, a common nuisance! He repeats as a fact the supposition of the Jews from Asia in the temple that he had “assayed to profane the temple” (24:6). But the keen Roman lawyer has added two other points to get a case that will stand in Roman law. He charges Paul with being “a mover of insurrections among all the Jews throughout the world,” a rather vague charge, and yet one for which they could get a specious form of proof from what had occurred in Antioch, Iconium, Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus. He would know how to twist the facts like an unscrupulous pleader. The other charge is that of heresy, and consists in his being “a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” Hero it is assumed that this new sect is different from Judaism, is, in fact, a religio nova et illicita, and has no standing in Roman law. Hence to be a ringleader in this unlawful sect was itself a crime. The decision of Gallio in Achaia, of course, had no weight in Palestine. Eventually the matter must be passed on by the Emperor himself. Was it a crime to be a Christian if Christianity was different from Judaism? Technically, Tertullus had scored a legal point against Paul and had thrown suspicion on him by the other two charges. One charge was true, for he was a Nazarene (note the term). Another charge was true only in a perverted sense, for the disturbances were raised against Paul; he did not cause them himself. The other and the original one was flatly untrue; he had not profaned the temple nor tried to do so. This, then, is the line of attack of Paul’s Jewish enemies.
He had escaped the mob, the Sanhedrin, the conspiracy. What will be his fate before Roman law? The provincial courts were proverbially slow and the governors willing to use prisoners for private gain. Paul has no advocate to plead his cause. He has no witnesses to substantiate his statements. He is in much the same position as Jesus before Pilate. What can he say that will make a legal defence against the legal quibbles of Tertullus? Paul is courteous, but no fawning sycophant. He says all that he can consistently with truth in praise of Felix, which is very little (24:10). One thing is plain, Felix can learn the facts, if he wishes to do so (24:11), about the charge of defiling the temple. Witnesses could be gotten to prove Paul’s conduct since he arrived in Palestine twelve days ago. The charge of insurrection is equally groundless and cannot be proved. But he will not deny being a Nazarene, a term which he does not use (recall Nathanael’s slur against Nazareth). He follows the Way which the Jews call a sect, a departure from Judaism, but which he considers the real fruition of the true Judaism of the law and the Prophets. The Prophets, like Paul, hoped for a resurrection of both just and unjust. He has walked in this Way with good conscience toward God and men and done his duty. In reality, therefore, Paul has found a legal shelter for Christianity in the Roman indulgence of Judaism. So far from profaning the temple recently, he was at the very moment of the mob’s attack engaged in the act of purifying himself in the temple “with no crowd, nor yet with tumult” (24:18). Indeed, he had come to the city to bring alms to his own people. The trouble in Jerusalem all arose from some Jews from Asia, who are not here as they ought to be. Let these members of the Sanhedrin tell what charge they found against me when I stood before them except it be the doctrine of the resurrection which all Pharisees hold.
It was a masterly defence and completely disposed of the charge of profaning the temple, and put the Jews on the defensive about the charge of insurrection. The only point left was the legal standing of Christianity, the doctrine which Paul confessed, but which he claimed to be the true Judaism which Roman law allowed. Felix reserved the right to pass judgment on this point till he could learn more about the tenets of “the Way” and see what Lysias had to say about Paul’s statement of the recent facts. Meanwhile, Paul was to have indulgence and to see his friends. Luke, we know, was with him in Cæsarea at the close of his story (27:1) and was probably there most of the two years. So far Felix had acted circumspectly with Paul.
It seems that Felix did not wait long to hear more exactly from Paul “concerning the faith in Christ Jesus” (24:24). It was on this point that Felix claimed to have most trouble, since Paul had confessed his guilt, if crime it was in Roman law. One would suppose that Paul would be disposed to give a presentation of Christianity that would give it, if possible, a legal standing. But Paul shows complete indifference to that phase of the subject beyond what he had already said. If Roman jurisprudence branded that a crime, let it be done. Indeed, Paul seems on this occasion to forget that he is a prisoner. He preaches a sermon that exposed the sinfulness of Felix and the infamous Drusilla instead or giving an abstract discussion about the relation between Christianity and Roman provincial law. The power of the sermon was shown in the terror of Felix (24:25). But a vicious demagogue like Felix was not to be won by one sermon. He had a conflict of emotions. He loved money and hoped to get a bribe from Paul for his freedom and the legal standing of Christianity. His love of gold led him to frequent communion with Paul (24:26). One may wonder how he expected to get money out of Paul. Probably Luke and others of Paul’s friends had come. He had spoken of taking alms up to Jerusalem. Paul’s standing as a Roman citizen of Tarsus showed that he was not a pauper. Ramsay thinks that Paul was now able to draw on his father’s fortune for the expenses of his trial. He does not mean that Paul bribed Felix. Far from it. The very fact that he left Paul bound for two years proves that he received no money from him. But the long-drawn-out trial would require a deal of money in many ways that were legitimate, especially in the matter of the appeal to Cæsar which came later.
When Felix failed to get money from Paul, he lost interest also in the legal status of Christianity. He was unable to restrain uprisings in Palestine, indeed in Cæsarea itself. On his recall for failure to manage the affairs of his province, he left Paul in prison as a sop to Jewish hatred, hoping to lessen their charges against him in Rome. It is some comfort to reflect that Pilate and Felix gained nothing by their paltering servility to the Jews against innocent men. Felix knew perfectly well that Paul was innocent of any crime against Roman law as Lysias had written him. He knew already enough about Christianity to know that it was no crime for a Jew to be a Christian, if we take the language literally (Acts 24:22).
8. Paul before Festus.—One may well imagine that Paul shed no tears over the departure of Felix. Two years he had let an innocent man remain a prisoner. Festus might be better. He does, indeed, bear a somewhat better reputation. Some of the books are disposed to credit him with candor and a disposition to befriend Paul. But I am not able to see in his treatment of Paul anything more than the perfunctory routine of the ordinary politician who seeks to curry favor with the people at the expense of an innocent man, a governor who aims to keep up the show of fairness, but who lacks the courage to do the right thing when it is not the popular thing.
The hatred of the Jewish leaders against Paul has not disappeared during these two years (Acts 25:2). It is, in fact, the main thing in their interview with the new Governor when he appears ceremoniously in Jerusalem. They make a specious request that Paul be brought to Jerusalem. But it is to the credit of Festus that he was not caught in this net of Jewish chicanery. They planned to kill him on his way to Jerusalem, a revival in another form of the former plot that vividly pictures the relentless wrath in Jerusalem against Paul. They seemed to think that if they could only kill Paul, Christianity would disappear. It was Christianity that they so despised. But Festus had not yet taken his bearings, and Paul’s case was new to him. He was soon going to Cæsarea anyhow. They would therefore come down and make their charges in regular form.
No Roman lawyer is mentioned in the presentation of the “many and grievous charges” (25:7) against Paul. The Jews from Jerusalem stood around in solemn line and made their accusations. The number seems to have grown with the years. Perhaps they did not present them in clear-cut legal form, but they could not prove them any better than before.
Paul’s defence this time is very short, but very clear. He denies sinning against the Jewish law, the Jewish temple or the Roman Cæsar (25:8). He deserved to be set free at once. Nothing is here said about the crime of being a Nazarene. Perhaps Felix had told them that there was nothing in that.
Curiously enough, Festus now proposes that Paul agree to go up to Jerusalem to be tried there before him (25:9). The suggestion is self-explanatory and convicts Festus of hollow insincerity. Luke pointedly accuses him of wishing to curry favor with the Jews. He will later himself confess that Paul, in his opinion, had done nothing worthy of death or even of bonds (25:25). He should have set Paul free. Festus’ later excuse, (25:18 f.) that he wished to take him up to Jerusalem to clear up these Jewish questions, is quite beside the mark, for the trial in Jerusalem was to be before Festus (25:9), not before the Sanhedrin. He had found Paul a troublesome prisoner and recalled the suggestion of the Jews in Jerusalem which he had rejected. It was a mere trick on the part of Festus. In Jerusalem he would probably have found some pretext to throw the case over to the Sanhedrin as Pilate tried to do with Jesus. Festus is derelict in his duty here as was Felix, as was Pilate.
Paul quickly and clearly saw through the whole scheme of Festus (25:10). He was standing at Cæsar’s judgment seat as a Roman citizen. He was not willing to go back into the jaws of death in Jerusalem. Paul pointedly tells Festus that he himself knows his innocence of any crime against the Jews, though unwilling to decide according to his knowledge. He has tried the Jews and refuses to go back to them. “No man can give me up to them. I appeal to Cæsar.” These are brave words and bold words. Were they also wise words? It is easy to retort that they led to three more years of imprisonment. But, if he had gone to Jerusalem, death was his fate. If he remained in Cæsarea, he had the example of Felix to go by, and Festus was starting the same dilatory tactics. Wisdom was in the line of Paul’s decision. Sooner or later Christianity must be passed on by the imperial government. Paul was a Roman citizen and had the right of appeal. Ramsay argues that only a serious case would be entertained when an appeal was demanded. But, after all, Festus was probably more than glad to be well rid of a case that promised trouble for him with the Jewish leaders with whom he had to get on somehow and which had given Felix such annoyance. He had conferences with the assessors (council), but quickly announced his decision that Paul was to go to Cæsar (25:12). So he was to go to Rome after all.
9. Paul before Agrippa.—Paul is no more a matter of serious concern to Festus except on one point. He must present in legal form the charge against Paul and some adequate explanation of his continued imprisonment. It is while Festus is in this frame of mind that Agrippa and Bernice came to Cæsarea by way of salutation to Festus (Acts 25:13). One may imagine the languid air of the palace when the conversation flagged and Festus, for lack of other topics and because his guests were Jews, “laid Paul’s case before the King.” He relates the story (finely preserved by Luke) with the air of nonchalance and a tone of superiority to Paul and Jesus natural to this Roman Governor of easy manners and morals. He stands for his adherence to Roman usage in the matter of the request at Jerusalem (25:16), and expresses his surprise at the pettiness of the Jewish charges against Paul, merely “certain questions against him of their own religion, and of one Jesus, who was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive” (25:19). Put yourself in the place of Festus and use his eyes as you look upon the career of Jesus and Paul’s relation to him, and you will duplicate the attitude of some modern savants who with supercilious scorn write down Jesus and Paul. Festus actually counted it a merit in himself that he offered to take Paul up to Jerusalem to clear up these Jewish details! He almost implies that he might have set him free if he had not appealed to Cæsar!
The interest of Agrippa was aroused. It was evidently an interesting case. He should hear him to-morrow. Hear him for what? Mainly for the entertainment of Agrippa and the court, and partly to see if Agrippa can elicit from Paul any charge which Festus may send to the Emperor (25:26). Festus actually jokes about his absurd predicament in having to send a man to Rome with no legal charge against him! It did not occur to him that thereby he condemned himself for not setting Paul free.
Festus makes a sort of court function of the affair (25:23). They all knew Paul’s ability at any rate. Paul takes the matter seriously, though well knowing that nothing could come of it for himself save the opportunity to put his cause in its true light before Agrippa and these people of prominence. One may suppose that Luke was present. This is the second formal defence of Paul’s career that we have in Acts. The one on the stairs of the tower of Antonia was obviously delivered under very different circumstances. He is still defending himself against a charge of which he is not guilty. The circumstances and the character of the address of Paul render his defence before Agrippa one of the really great orations of history.
He has a graceful introduction (26:2 f.). Whatever were the limitations of Felix and Festus in their failure to understand Paul’s case, here at last was a man who was “expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews.” Hence he asks for a patient hearing. The Sanhedrin at Jerusalem were disqualified by their hatred. Agrippa is competent, and it is the first time that Paul has had this good fortune.
Paul recounts the story of his early life to show that he is not prejudiced against Judaism (26:4 f.). This is a matter of common knowledge among the Jews. Indeed, he had been the strictest sort of a Pharisee.
As a matter of fact, the real charge against him now, that of being a Christian, grows out of his belief that Jesus rose from the dead, a fact in perfect harmony with one of the leading tenets of Pharisaism (26:6–11). Pharisees were the last people in the world to scout the resurrection from the dead. He once felt just as the Jews do now toward him. But he became a, Christian in response to a direct manifestation of Jesus himself. A new light came to him which he could not ignore (26:12–18). It was a wonderful experience that on the road to Damascus. It was the Lord’s doing.
Who then can blame him if he was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision? (26:19–23). He had preached repentance and good works worthy of repentance to both Jews and Gentiles. Indeed, he was engaged in a good work in the temple when the Jews seized him, but they seized him because he had preached to the Gentiles. It was race prejudice in truth. God is still with him, and after all his message is in perfect harmony with what Moses and the Prophets foretold, that the Messiah must suffer, must rise again and be proclaimed to both Jew and Gentile.
Agrippa had listened intently, but it was Festus who was carried away with excitement as Paul rose in power toward the close. Festus, indeed, looked upon Paul as a learned fanatic. It was all beyond his depth, and he thought that Paul was losing his mind with his philosophical subtleties. He showed his excitement by his loud voice.
But Paul calms Festus and turns with a pointed appeal to Agrippa about his knowledge of the Prophets. If he admitted his knowledge of the Prophets, he either had to agree with Paul’s interpretation of them or oppose it. He did not care to do either and so accused Paul of trying to entrap him (26:28). His answer ἐν ὀλίγῳ cannot mean “almost” but it is not certain whether he meant with little persuasion, in a little time or to some extent. Either interpretation is possible and suits the context. At any rate, Agrippa was too much of a Jew to be caught on a syllogism. But Paul makes a noble prayer for him with a delicate exception of “these bonds.”
But Agrippa showed his freedom from prejudice by plainly saying to Festus that Paul was innocent of any wrong from the Jewish point of view and could have been set free if he had not appealed to Cæsar (26:32). Festus knew that before. Did he learn what charge to make against Paul? It would seem not.
10. Going to Rome at Last.—Jesus had said so at Jerusalem over two years ago. Paul had planned it a number of years before. In a true sense the journey to Rome had become the goal of his ministry. But it was not just to go to Rome. He wished to make Rome the spring-board, in a way, for going on to the farther west. He has not given up that hope in spite of the reverses of the last two years. His forebodings about what was in store for him at Jerusalem had more than come true. The cloud of Jewish hate had burst upon his head with terrific force. And yet he was not sorry that he had come on to Jerusalem. He had brought the collection for the poor saints. He had put himself right with the great body of disciples in Jerusalem who had been led astray by the Judaizers. He had a host of real friends now in Jerusalem. There was no longer any real peril of a schism in Christianity over the Gentile problem. Hence the real objects of his visit to Jerusalem had been accomplished. The leaders among the Judaizers will no more be able to stir the masses of the Jerusalem disciples against Paul. Hence they will have no real base of operations. Their future movements will be insignificant in consequence. At last the Judaizing controversy may be considered over.
It would be interesting to know how Paul occupied himself during the two years at Cæsarea. If Luke wrote his Gospel during this period, as is possible, one may think that Paul was in touch with him. The Gospel of Luke is often called Pauline in tone. Luke gives abundant evidence in his Gospel to justify his claim to real historical research for the facts and skill in the use of his materials (Luke 1:1–4). He was near the sources of information and manifestly made abundant use of his opportunity whether he actually wrote the Gospel at this time or later. But Paul was too active in mind to be entirely inert all this time. It is almost tragic, however, to think of five years of the prime of Paul’s life being hindered thus. What could he not have done in the west during these years?
Ramsay, who is so fruitful in original hints as well as fresh facts about Paul, suggests that Luke (of Philippi) and Aristarchus (of Thessalonica) could only accompany Paul as his slaves. They had to pass on the voyage as Paul’s slaves, and this circumstance would give Paul added importance and dignity. Clearly “Julius treated Paul kindly” (Acts 27:3) in the matter of seeing his friends at Sidon, though it might not follow that he would allow two friends to go with him all the way to Rome. Luke, perhaps, might have claimed the right to go as Paul’s physician if Julius had that much of the spirit of indulgence. But, at any rate, it is certain that Paul enjoyed more distinction and consideration as a prisoner of importance than the “certain other prisoners” who may have been merely already condemned to death and just more “human victims to amuse the populace by their death in the arena” at Rome. The Augustan band or “troop of the Emperor” may have been one of the auxiliary cohort under a legionary centurion detached for service in the provinces.2
One had to take advantage of what ships he could get to go to Rome. Julius took Paul under his care along with his band of soldiers and the other prisoners, but he could not start from Cæsarea directly for Rome. This particular ship was bound for Adramyttium (27:2), probably a coasting vessel now on its way home. Such a ship would naturally go by the province of Asia (27:2). The reason for following so close in shore by Sidon, under the lee of Cyprus (Paul’s ship, 21:1, to Jerusalem had gone west of Cyprus), off Cilicia and Pamphylia, grows out of the prevailing westerly winds at this season (summer) in the Mediterranean. At Myra, in Lycia (27:5), a change in ships was made by Julius. The first stage in the voyage, therefore, is in the Adramyttium coasting vessel from Cæsarea to Myra (27:1–5).
The next stage is from Myra to Fair Havens in “a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy” (27:6–8). This was an Alexandrian grain ship (27:38). With a steady western wind a sailing ship of the ancients could not safely go directly from Alexandria to Crete. But it would be easy to sail straight for Myra, which “was one of the great harbors of the Egyptian service.” This was probably the usual course for this time of year. The voyage was very slow in the face of a contrary westerly or north-westerly wind. It would be necessary to tack in and out along the coast, and even so it was “with difficulty” that they came “over against Cnidus the wind not further suffering us,” Smith2 shows that the wind was what would in popular language be termed north-west. Up to Cnidus the ship could work along under the lee of the shore (“weather shore”). But here a halt had to be made for beyond was the open sea. It would be useless to go on up the coast of Asia. Only two courses were open, one to wait at Cnidus for better winds, the other to make to the south-west and get under the lee of Crete where the ship would be protected from the north-west wind and would have made some progress toward Rome. The lateness of the season argued for going to Fair Havens on the south of Crete. This course was possible with a north-west wind, and Salmone (the eastern promontory) was reached without much apparent trouble. But now the course had to be more directly westward so as not to get away from the protection of Crete, and at once fresh difficulty was found. But they coasted along till Fair Havens was reached.
Luke (27:9) explains that much time was spent here until after “the Fast was now already gone by.” This “Fast” was on the tenth of Tisri, and was usually about the last of September or the first of October. Ramsay thinks that it is in 59 that the voyage was made instead of 60, and so finds the Fast that year October 5th. He argues that the party sailed from Cæsarea about August 17th. At any rate, it is perfectly plain that the time of the year has come, before the north-west wind ceases, when it is dangerous to put out into the open sea.2 One must remember that the ancients had no chart, no compass and were unable to sail with safety during the autumnal and winter storms.
A council was called by the centurion to decide what to do. He seemed to be in supreme control. The captain and the sailing-master were in the conference along with Paul. It was a tribute to Paul that, though a prisoner, he was treated as a man of experience and resource in an emergency like this. According to Ramsay, the centurion outranked the captain of the ship and so had the final decision of the course to be pursued. The point at issue was not whether to go on to Rome or not. That was obviously out of the question. It was merely whether to winter at Fair Havens or to put to sea in the endeavor to reach Phœnix, a better haven of Crete, and not very far away. This harbor probably corresponds to the modern Lutro, the only secure harbor on the south of Crete. The interpretation of Smith that Luke follows Herodotus in speaking of the harbor from the landward view of the harbor, which really faces north-east and south-east and thus was protected from the north-west and south-west wind. It is not strange that Paul’s advice was not taken by the centurion since the captain and the sailing-master were willing to try the voyage to Phœnix (27:11). It was the old contrast between a mere preacher and a business man, a man of common sense. Paul made his plea upon rational grounds (“I perceive,” 27:10) and foretold disaster and loss of life as the outcome. The risk was too great. It seems, moreover, from the expression “the more part” that Paul was not alone in his advice against taking such chances (27:12).
But when the wind changed to a gentle zephyr from the south they had Paul at a hopeless disadvantage and the start was made. But he laughs best who laughs last. The wind that had changed once could change again. This new sudden “tempestuous wind” (typhonic) was called Euraquilo (27:14). Smith shows that this wind blew close from E.N.E. The change came after they had passed Cape Mataler and were out in the open sea. The language of Luke is very vivid. The wind “beat down from” Crete on the ship. The Cretan mountains rose seven thousand feet high. The ship was headed toward Phœnix and was fairly caught “and could not face the wind” and survive. There was only one thing to do, and that was to give way to the wind and be driven by it. But that meant ultimately to strike the Syrtis or quicksands of North Africa. It was no longer a question as to who was right or wrong. The lives of all were in peril. The one chance for escape came as the ship, scudding before the wind, came under the lee of the little island of Cauda or Clauda. What was done must be done quickly. Three things were accomplished. The little boat was hoisted on board to secure it. The ship itself was undergirded with ropes that it might the better stand the terrific strain of wind and wave. They lowered the gear. Full sail would mean ruin in such a storm. Only enough was left up “to keep the ship’s head to the wind.”2 The ship itself was on the starboard tack with her head to the north so as to avoid the Syrtis. With the sail down, and under the lee of Cauda, the ship was brought as close to the wind as it would stand. The ship could sail within seven points of the wind and would have six points for leeway, a total angle of thirteen points.4 However, if the wind was E.N.E. the course of the vessel would be W. by N. When this was done there was nothing to do but to wait. They would escape the Syrtis. What was before them? They were drifting.
They labored exceedingly with the storm (27:18). After one day they began to throw the freight overboard. On the next day the tackling or furniture of the ship was cast out. Then for many days there was the dreadful monotony of no sun and no stars. The tempest raged upon the ship till “all hope that we should be saved was now taken away.” They had lost their appetites and their hope. Then it was that Paul spoke (27:21). He had not said “I told you so” before. He would not have done it now merely for that thankless task. But he had a message of cheer, and they needed it sorely. They will lose the ship, but will save their lives. He knows that, for “an angel of the God whose I am” has told him. It was not because they deserved it. God meant for Paul to stand before Cæsar (27:24) as the ambassador of Christ and had given him the lives of all. Paul believes God and urges all to be of good cheer even in the face of certain shipwreck. It might be worse. It was one gleam of light in the black darkness. The centurion and the captain are silent.
They drifted on till the fourteenth night came (27:27). They had come to the Sea of Adria. It was once supposed that Luke meant what is now termed the Adriatic Sea between Italy and the mainland. Like many geographical terms in popular usage, it was extended (cf. Asia) to include the sea between Malta, Italy, Greece, Crete. Luke’s usage, like Strabo’s, was that of “conversation, not of literature.” This point is pertinent, for it is plain from the course of the vessel, W. by N., that it could not have gone into the Sea of Adria in the technical literary sense. It is obvious both from the direction, distance and time that the island on which the vessel was stranded, Melita, is the modern Malta.2 The distance between Cauda and Malta is less than 480 miles. Thirteen days at 36 miles a day would be 468 miles. It was a little over thirteen days, and the direction is that of Malta.
The sea became choppy (“driven to and fro”) as they neared land, and the sailors at midnight suspected the truth. The soundings confirmed it. The peril now was that they would be hurled upon the rocks in the night. The four anchors from the stern are easily understood as the wind was still E.N.E. To have put out the anchors only in front might have snapped them or broken the ship as it swung round before wind and wave. If not, it would be hard to handle the ship so as to beach her. The end would come with day if the anchors held. Paul comes to the front again at this crisis, for the sailors with cold selfishness were seeking to save themselves under cover of the darkness by means of the boat that had been preserved. With sailors and boat both gone the rest would be in poor plight. The sailors professed that they were going to swing out anchors from the foreship also (27:30). Paul had plainly promised that the lives of all would be spared. But he now as pointedly told the centurion and the soldiers that they would lose their lives if they let the sailors go. The soldiers were quick to see the point, and settled the matter by cutting the rope and setting the boat adrift before the sailors got into it.
Paul is now master of ceremonies. “He speaks as the prophet, not the anxious passenger.” Ramsay rightly sees no objection to Paul’s rise to this point of view in the crisis. The fasting had not been voluntary, indeed. No one had taste for food at such a time. But it had gone on too long. Desperate work was ahead of them and they needed food. Paul begged them to eat with the assurance that not one should lose a hair of his head (27:34). This was not mere optimism; it was faith in God. He said grace for this unusual breakfast in the early dawn. It was a goodly company of 276 souls in all. They lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea so that they could run the ship as far up on the pebbly beach as possible. St. Paul’s Bay, in Malta, with its little island, creek, and two seas meeting, fulfils all the conditions of Luke’s narrative.
When the ship was run aground it was not long before the stern began to break in pieces before the waves. Now the soldiers fail, as the sailors did before, to rise to any nobility of conduct. They actually propose to kill all the prisoners for fear some of them may escape (27:42). Once again Paul’s promise of no loss of life came near to failure. But the centurion Julius had evidently recognized his obligations to Paul, who was no ordinary prisoner and a Roman citizen besides. He desired to save Paul and hence refused to let the soldiers have their way. It is a vivid picture of the rescue of all, some on planks, some on plunder from the ship, some by swimming. They were safe on shore as Paul had said.
Luke appears wonderfully well as an historian in chap. 27. He is here on a par with Thucydides in grasp and power. Indeed, this chapter furnishes more information about ancient seafaring than any other source. Smith’s “Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul” is the great monograph on this chapter.
Luke is particularly proud of his hero for his conduct during this voyage. Even “the barbarians” of Melita (28:1 f.) could be uncommonly kind. The term with Luke means only non-Greek, not uncivilized. Luke here writes from the Greek point of view. It is a pathetic picture, the cold, the rain, the bedraggled condition of the whole company. Paul was not a mere spectator, and his zeal was responsible for his not perceiving the viper which came out by reason of the heat and fastened on his hand. There are said to be now no vipers on the island, but that proves nothing about this time. The snake may or may not have been poisonous; but the people thought it so. Popular interpretation of such incidents is well illustrated here. One moment Paul is a murderer, the next a god. At Lystra it was first a god, and then one fit only for death. Paul’s stay of three months in the island was not without good results. Publius was the ruler of the island whose title was “first” according to inscriptional support. As at Cyprus, Thessalonica and elsewhere, Luke is found to be minutely accurate. Paul appears here as the healer of diseases (along with Luke?), after the manner enjoined in James 5:14 f. He had the example of Jesus also.
In the early spring or late winter (February) “a ship of Alexandria which had wintered in the island” (28:11) with the sign of The Twin Brothers set sail for Italy. They had probably been caught here just as Paul’s second ship had been at Fair Havens, but had followed wise counsel and waited for spring. One can imagine Paul’s eagerness to get on to Rome, and Luke greatly abbreviates the narrative here. They do spend three days at Syracuse, famous seat of Greek culture. At Rhegium they wait a day for a south wind which blows them safely to Puteoli. Here Paul and his party land. Nothing is said about Julius and his soldiers and other prisoners. It is simply assumed that they go along too. It is noteworthy that Paul found brethren at Puteoli. It was, indeed, a great harbor and shows that Christianity was spreading from Rome over Italy (cf. Heb. 13:24).
11. The Reception at Rome.—Ramsay explains the double mention of coming to Rome (28:14, 16) by the two senses of the word Rome as city-state in Greek. Paul first came to the district of Rome, then to the walls of Rome. He had spent seven days at Puteoli, and that gave time for the brethren there to send word on to Rome that the great Apostle was approaching the city. They had received his Epistle nearly three years before this. It is possible that they had been notified of his trials in Judea. At any rate, they send a delegation out to greet Paul at the Market of Appius and The Three Taverns. He was travelling the famous Appian Way, portions of which are still in use and testify to the greatness of the Roman roads. Paul was not insensible to the great historic scenes all around him as he neared the mighty city. But at this moment his chief joy was in seeing the brethren, perhaps some of those whom he already knew and loved (cf. Rom. 16). He had had enough to discourage the stoutest heart. But now “he thanked God and took courage.” Jesus had kept his word. He had brought him to Rome. True, he had not expected to come in this manner. The brethren must excuse the soldier and the chain (28:16).
It used to be said that Paul was delivered over to one of the Prætorian Prefects, who at that time was the noble Burrus. But Ramsay argues plausibly, following Mommsen, that the Stratopedarch in some mss. of Acts 27:16 (absent from the oldest) means Princeps Peregrinorum, the commanding officer of the “soliders from abroad” who were used to conduct prisoners to Rome and had a camp on the Cœlian Hill called Castra Peregrinorum. It was to this Stratopedarch, not to the Prætorian Prefect, that Julius delivered his famous prisoner. It may be replied that Paul in Phil. 1:13 and 4:22 shows somewhat close relations with the Prætorian Camp. But still he did not live in either camp, but in his own hired house (Acts 28:30). If he was under the control of the Stratopedarch, he might still occasionally preach to the Prætorian Guard.
Paul’s first joy was with the brethren whom he knew in Rome. They probably brought others to see him so that he soon had new friends in Rome. It was an unspeakable joy for him to have this spiritual fellowship. He is established in his own house, but he does not know how long he will have to wail for his trial. He must have known by this time how slow Roman legal procedure could be. Certain forms had to be observed. The charge against him had to arrive, if by this time Festus knew what to do about the matter. The witnesses had to be gathered together. Other reasons will occur later. These were present at the first and made it plain that an immediate trial was out of the question.
12. The Effort to Win the Jews.—Paul waited only three days to get together the chief men of the Jews (28:17). It was important to have their sympathy if possible. Besides, Paul was anxious to win these Jewish leaders to the service of Christ. Poppœa, the infamous wife of Nero, was a Jewess. If his case came before Nero himself, she might be reached by the hostile Jews. So Paul gives them a brief account of the history of his case. He was innocent of any wrong to the Jewish people or customs; yet the Jews had delivered him up to the Romans who had desired to set him at liberty but for the Jews who were so bitter against him. Hence he had appealed to Cæsar. But he is not here to make any accusations against his people. In fact, he is bound with this chain because of the hope of Israel. It was a skilful plea, but the Jews were wary. They had received no letters about his case nor had any of the Jews from Palestine now in Rome said aught against Paul. But they would like to hear his views, for, they must confess, “his sect” was everywhere spoken against by the Jews. He had that much against him. He was a Christian. It was not a very hopeful beginning, though they were willing to listen.
So, on a stated day, Paul endeavors to win the great crowd of Roman Jews that came. He gave them his interpretation of the kingdom of God and sought to prove that Moses and the Prophets foretold Jesus as the Messiah. It was an all-day meeting. He had some success also, but a number disbelieved. Paul’s “one word” to this part who resisted is in accord with Rom. 9–11. He reminds them of the curse of Isaiah on them (6:9 f.), a curse often on the lips of Jesus. But the Gentiles in Rome will hear, if the Jews do not (Acts 28:28).
13. The Delay of Paul’s Trial.—Luke passes over two whole years of Paul’s life in Rome with no record save what is contained in two verses (28:30 f.). He lived in his own hired dwelling, had free intercourse with his friends in spite of his chain and the soldier, had perfect freedom in preaching the kingdom to all who came and in teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, and he did this with boldness. This, therefore, is Luke’s picture of Paul’s life in Rome for two years. We are grateful for this much information, but cannot help wondering why we do not have more, especially as Luke was with Paul nearly all of this time.
If Luke wrote the Acts a good while afterward, it may be explained that his object in the Acts was merely to take Paul to Rome. That was the climax of his career. With that goal Luke was satisfied and may have meant to write another volume carrying on Paul’s career to the end. That is a possible interpretation, though it leaves unexplained why Luke should have mentioned the item about the “two years” if he only meant to take him to Rome. In reality he takes him almost up to the time of his release.
If, on the other hand, we suppose that Luke finished the Acts at the point where he stops the book, we have the “two years” explained and also the reason why he went no further in this volume. The question of a third volume is not raised. Luke used the leisure of the years in Rome to write the book with Paul to draw on for much information for his career. We should still have left the perplexity why Luke gave so little space to the two years in Rome. But, after all, they may have been rather uneventful years. There were friends or Paul coming and going. He wrote great Epistles to distant churches. But the life itself in Rome before the trial may not have been marked by unusual incident. On the whole, I incline to this interpretation of the situation.
The trial itself must wait on the whim of Nero or of one of the two Prætorian Prefects. We do not know before whom Paul actually appeared. We know how dilatory Tiberius was in such cases, and Nero was proverbially averse to real business. He was the victim of caprice and impulse. Ramsay suggests that his opponents may have wished also to put the trial off as long as possible, knowing that they could not make a real case against Paul (cf. the dilemma of Festus). He thinks also that the Imperial Office may have been making investigation. He adds: “The whole question of free teaching of an Oriental religion by a Roman citizen must have been opened up by the case; and it is quite possible that Paul’s previous proceedings were inquired into.”
As we look back upon the Rome of the early 60’s the three men who stand out most prominently from our point of view are Paul, Nero and Seneca. But at that time it would have seemed ridiculous to the world at large to put Paul in the same class with Nero and Seneca. Paul in reality rose so far above them both in all the real elements of character and manhood that one now feels like apologizing for mentioning them in connection with Paul. It is a striking instance of the superiority of the spiritual forces of life over the material. Pomp, station, power were with Nero and his brilliant but servile and inconsistent minister of state, Seneca. Paul was only a Jewish Christian preacher, a prisoner with ugly charges against him from the Jews themselves, at best a fanatic out of touch with the real life of the time. Pilate, Caiaphas, and Jesus met one day in Jerusalem. We do not know that Nero, Seneca and Paul ever met in Rome. They meet in our ideas of the Rome of the time. Paul had appealed to Nero, the incarnation of unbridled lust and whimsical power. Seneca was the brilliant Stoic philosopher who turned out aphorisms and sententious sayings for the benefit of other people who had himself little real moral fibre and force. It has been thought by some that Seneca and Paul met and had influence, the one on the other. But Lightfoot is followed by Ramsay2 in the view that what bond of contact may exist was not personal nor direct, but indirect. Paul knew the Stoic tenets of the day. He had lived in Tarsus, the home of Athenodorus, a leading Stoic philosopher who had afterward come to Rome. Seneca shows evident use of Athenodorus. There is no real evidence for thinking that Seneca was a disciple of Paul nor that Cæsar himself was a believer because the gospel took root in some members of his numerous household (Phil. 4:22). But Paul, Nero and Seneca represent the great forces of the time. Nero was the acme of Roman absolutism. Seneca was the refinement of Roman Stoicism putting a good interpretation upon the evil life of the time under cover of half-hearted protest. Paul was the uncompromising exponent of the supremacy of the spirit over the flesh, the gospel that was to brush aside Stoicism and to subdue the civil power to Christ. But that will only come after ages of conflict. Victory will ultimately be on Paul’s side in spite of his lowly estate and partly because of what he here undergoes. And Paul never gave way in Rome to the obsession of circumstance. He was always the ambassador of Christ even if in chains (Eph. 6:20).
14. The Love of the Philippians for Paul: The Epistle to the Philippians.—Paul did not lose interest in the problems of the East by reason of his imprisonment in Rome. It could have been easy for some men to become out of humor with everybody and everything when checked and hedged in as Paul now was. So far from that Paul is the comforter and inspirer, not only of the many friends in Rome, but also of the churches back in the East where he had so long labored. He retains his world outlook and world sympathy and his environment does not change his buoyant optimism nor slacken his energy of thought and action.
Communication between Rome and distant parts of the empire was easy and constant, thanks to the fine system of Roman roads and postal service. Paul was not long without expressions of sympathy from the East, as friends of his would be going from Rome or coming to Rome. The going of some of these friends gave him the opportunity to send messages to several of the churches that are of priceless value to the modern world. New problems had arisen in some parts of the East since Paul was there that furnish the occasion for a discussion of the person of Christ and the dignity of the Christian life upon a loftier plane than Paul had reached before. It is not that his theology has changed, but that it is enriched in his grapple with the new issues. He here sounds depths and reaches heights beyond what he did even in the Epistle to the Romans.
The order of this third group of Paul’s Epistles is a matter of dispute. There is no doubt at all that three of them were sent at the same time (Philemon, Colossian, Ephesians). Onesimus was the bearer of the letter to Philemon (10) and along with Tychicus of that to the Colossians (4:7–9). Tychicus was also the bearer of the letter called that to the Ephesians (6:21). The only matter of dispute is whether the Epistle to the Philippians was written before or after this group of three. Unfortunately there is no absolutely conclusive evidence on this point and the scholars disagree. Timothy is with Paul when all are written (Phil. 1:1; Philem. 1). Aristarchus (Col. 4:10) and Luke (Col. 4:14) are with Paul when the group of three are sent, besides a number of others (Col. 4:10–14). It seems as if neither Aristarchus nor Luke is present when Paul writes to the Philippians (2:19–21). But there are several ways of explaining this fact. In both Philippians (1:25; 2:24) and Philemon (22) Paul expects to be set free, a little more confidently, indeed, in Philemon, except that he uses “shortly” in Phil. 2:24. He wishes prayers for his release (Col. 4:18). In the absence of decisive evidence either way I fall back upon Lightfoot’s use of the doctrinal situation. In Colossians and Ephesians there is no echo of the Judaizing controversy, but in Phil. 3 we do have something of the same point of view found in the great doctrinal Epistles. Then again in chapter 2 of Phil. the person of Christ comes to the fore as it does more prominently still in Colossians and Ephesians. As a matter of fact it is not necessary for any great length of time to exist between Philemon and the rest. They may all come in the last year of Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, Philippians at the beginning of that year.
Paul has been long enough in Rome for some positive work for Christ to have been done. The gospel has made progress in Rome by reason of his imprisonment even in the Prætorian Guard (Phil. 1:12–14). His courage, though he is in bonds, has been contagious. True, he has found enemies even in Rome, who seem to correspond with the old Judaizers in the East (1:15 ff.). These rejoice in Paul’s troubles and enjoy annoying him by preaching in Rome, right where Paul is, a perverted gospel. But Paul finds joy in the fact that even so men can learn something of Christ though mixed with error. There are enemies of the cross of Christ in Rome as there were in Philippi, as Paul used to tell them, and it causes him to weep to say so now (3:18). The gospel has gone not simply to the Prætorian Guard, but even to Cæsar’s household (4:22). We are grateful for these glimpses of Paul’s life and work in Rome.
In the Epistle Paul describes beautifully and delicately the love of the Philippians for himself and his appreciation of their affection. The saints at Philippi had been the first to contribute to Paul’s support and for a while the only church to do so (4:15). He would not allow the mission church where he labored to pay him for fear of being considered a man seeking their money, though he was entitled to it (1 Cor. 9:7–18). The Philippians had helped Paul repeatedly Phil. (4:16) from the first until now (1:5). They had the fellowship in the mission cause that comes from giving to its advancement. He would not allow the Corinthian church to do anything for him even after he left, though by this time other churches had followed the example of the Philippian church (2 Cor. 11:7 f.; 12:13 f.). He appreciates more than he can tell their spirit and this present gift (Phil. 4:18), and he is rich indeed. Not that he cares so much for the gift, but the love behind it (4:17). He has learned by bitter experience the secret of contentment, how to be filled and to be hungry (4:11–13). But God will bless them for their gift (4:19).
Paul is grieved over the misfortunes that befell Epaphroditus after his arrival in Rome. He was sick nigh unto death (2:30). Did he come in the summer and catch the Roman fever? After Epaphroditus recovered, he learned that the Philippians had heard of his illness and this knowledge added to his grief. Hence he is going back to Philippi with Paul’s letter and love (2:25 f.). Good thus came out of evil for the Philippians and for us.
The Epistle itself is full of love and joy. The very noblest side of Paul’s nature is uppermost in this message of hope from his state of imprisonment. He had with Silas even sung praises in the jail at Philippi. The key-note of the letter to the Philippians is joy. The letter is not keyed to the discussion of a great doctrine. It is rather discursive after the manner of I Thessalonians and I Timothy. But in chapter 2:1–11 we have the classic passage about the humiliation of Christ, while in 3:1–16 we have not only the contrast between Paul’s ideals as a Pharisee and as a Christian (cf. Rom. 7), but also the matchless passion of his striving for the goal of Christ-likeness. This singleness of aim (3:13 f.) and identity of spirit with Christ (1:21) is enough to distinguish any epistle. Put beside this also the motto for high thinking and high doing (4:8 f.).
One would like to know the name of the “true yokefellow” addressed in 4:3, since the Epistle as a whole is directed to the saints, bishops, and deacons (the entire church) at Philippi (1:1). But Paul had many fellow-workers in Philippi besides Clement, and the two sisters who did not have the same mind (4:2 f.).
It is not necessary to think that Paul had suffered undue depression about the delay in his trial because of the balance that he strikes between life and death (1:21–24). For several years surely he has looked death in the face. In his last letter to Corinth (2 Cor. 5:1–10) he expressed the same preference for death that we see here. It is not the melancholia of a hypochondriac, but the spiritual aspiration of one who is longing for the end of the road where he can get out of the harness and rest with Christ (1:23). But meanwhile he will work gladly, knowing that the Lord is near him (4:5).
15. A Specimen of Paul’s Work in Rome: The Epistle to Philemon.—The Epistle to the Philippians makes it clear, besides Luke’s closing comment in Acts, that Paul was not idle in Rome. He is still the central moving force in Gentile Christianity. His heart goes out to all the world, and he fights his battles with his pen and his prayers. These Epistles breathe, indeed, the atmosphere of his surroundings, but they have caught also the breath of Heaven. Paul moves on the holy heights of spiritual vision. But now we have a sample of Paul’s work in Rome itself.
All sorts of people came to Rome. Runaway slaves came among others. Slaves were not necessarily degraded persons. They were often captives taken in war and might be superior in culture to their masters. In Rome itself the Greek slaves were often the school-teachers in the family. It is clear that Onesimus had run away from his master Philemon at Colossæ (Philem. 12) and it is implied that he had taken something as he left (18 f.). Paul had labored successfully with those in high station, but he was not above winning a slave to Christ and calling him a brother in Christ (16), his child in the gospel (10).
It was, indeed, a very delicate situation with so many slaves in the Roman Empire. It is now Paul the aged and the prisoner of Christ (9) who sends back the converted runaway slave to his Christian master (12). The law will be observed, but he is not to come back just as he was. He is to be loved and treated as Paul would be (17), and Paul hints that Philemon will set him free (21). He gave a new conception of love for a slave that has set all slaves free in Christendom and will ultimately shake off all shackles everywhere.
This is a purely personal letter, but it is rich in the spirit of Christ. Besides Philemon it is addressed to Archippus and Apphia. Was the church that met in the house of Philemon at Colossæ (2) the same as the one that meets in the house of Nymphas (Col. 4:15)? Were they separate organizations or different meeting-places for the same body? Besides Aristarchus, Luke and Timothy, Paul has with him Demas, Epaphras and Mark (Philem. 1, 23 f.), who has now regained the favor of Paul. Like Onesimus, who was once unprofitable to Philemon (11), Mark has become useful to Paul.
16. The New Peril of Gnosticism: The Epistle to the Colossians.—lt was the coming of Epaphras from Colossæ to Rome (Col. 1:7; 4:12) with news of the new heresy in the Lycus Valley that stirred Paul to action in the matter. Paul had not preached at Colossæ, but Epaphras had established this work. He had labored also much at Hierapolis and Laodicea (4:13), also in the same valley in the province of Asia. We have here indications of the spread of the Gospel in a province already mentioned by Luke (Acts 19:10). Paul had apparently seen signs of the new heresy when at Miletus (Acts 20:29 f.). Paul is so much aroused about the situation in the valley of the Lycus that he sends Tychicus and Onesimus now to comfort their hearts (Col. 4:8 f.), and hopes to send Mark later (4:10). Indeed, he had already communicated with them about Mark, whether personally through Barnabas, Mark’s cousin, or by letter, we do not know. But this is not all. Paul sends also along with this Epistle one to the Laodiceans. He urges that each church make an exchange of Epistles (4:16), a hint as to the custom with Paul’s other Epistles. It is generally supposed that this Laodicean Epistle is the one known to us as the Epistle to the Ephesians.
It Is evident, therefore, that Paul has the situation well in mind before he writes the Epistle to the Colossians. Although Mark was the cousin of Barnabas, he is grouped by Paul with Aristarchus and Justus as belonging to the party of the circumcision (4:10 f.). Mark had been working with Simon Peter also, or, at any rate, soon will be with him (1 Pet. 5:13). Paul cherishes no bitterness towards Jewish Christians as such. These men were not Judaizers, but were following the ministry alluded to in Gal. 2:9. It is in this Epistle (Col. 4:14) that Paul gives Luke the praise of “the beloved physician.” That was probably not merely Paul’s own love, but the common feeling among the Roman Christians toward this noble servant of Christ. There are few more beautiful relations in life than that between the preacher and the Christian physician. In concluding Paul calls attention to the signature with his own hand (4:18).
What was the new heresy in the Lycus Valley? It is difficult to explain Paul’s language in this Epistle without thinking of an incipient Gnosticism that had been blended with Jewish Essenism. There is no doubt about the existence of Gnosticism of an advanced type in this part of Asia in the second century. The case of Simon Magus in Acts 8 is a forecast also of what was coming. Hort, indeed, fails to see any evidence of either Essenic or Gnostic influence in Colossians. He sees merely Jewish speculation with some Greek influence as at Corinth. This is a justifiable reaction against the extreme opinion that the Gnosticism of the second century is found at Colossæ in A.D. 62–3. Still, I can but think that Lightfoot, in his masterly essay on the Colossian Heresy,2 has laid down the lines of truth on this subject. There was in Colossæ a cult that was a mixture of Greek philosophy and Essenic teaching. The Essenic doctrine had already incorporated some Persian and Greek ideas. It was a time of philosophic syncretism. The Essenes, of course, had their home in the wilderness of Judea, but their influence went beyond that region. Some travelling Jewish teachers had probably picked up these mystic ideas about God, matter, angels, morals, before they came to Colossæ. Here they fell under the spell of Christian teaching. What they did was to incorporate the chief Christian doctrines into their philosophy and seek to propagate the result as the true philosophical gospel. The peril of that situation Paul was quick to see. Hence this eager and powerful Epistle to open the eyes of the Colossian Christians to the subtle danger confronting them.
The main outlines of this incipient Gnostic philosophy can be drawn from Paul’s condemnation of it in the Epistle and from the well-known later developments. Similar forms of teaching are condemned in the Pastoral Epistles of Paul and in the Epistles of John and possibly also in the Apocalypse. The new teachers had a theory of the universe which considered matter essentially evil while God is good. Their philosophical problem was how the good God could have created evil matter without responsibility and contamination. Hence they imagined a series of intermediate agencies called æons that came in between God and the creation of matter. Each one in the series was further away from God till the last one was far enough from God to cause no contamination to the deity and yet near enough to God to have power to create matter. This curious theory of the origin of matter and evil satisfied some minds. One may remark in passing that no one has yet presented an adequate explanation of the origin of evil. But certainly this theory of the essentially evil character of matter is wrong. Hence the Gnostic Christians at once had trouble with the person of Christ. Where did he come in? Was he above these æons or merely one of them? They seem to have put him at the bottom of the list. So Paul is contradicting this theory when he insists on the primacy of Christ in his relation to God whose very image he is (Col. 1:15–17). “He is before all things,” æons included, if there are any.
In the practical working out of the theory about the nature of Christ the Gnostics fell into two wings. One view was that Jesus only seemed to be a man. In reality he had no human body (cf. modern theosophical theories popular in some quarters). These were called Docetic Gnostics, as Ignatius makes clear. Hence Paul speaks of the “blood of his cross” (1:20), “body of his flesh” (1:22), and remarks that “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (2:9). The other type of Gnostics, called later Cerinthian Gnostics from Cerinthus, held that Jesus was a mere man, but that the divine Christ (æon) came upon him at his baptism in the form of a dove and left him on the cross when Jesus felt himself deserted. Paul seems to have this view in mind when he insists on “Christ Jesus the Lord” (2:6) as the one whom they received and in whom they are to walk.
Paul sums up “all the fulness of the Godhead” in Jesus Christ (1:19, 2:9). It was not distributed in a series of æons. “Fulness” was one of the favorite Gnostic terms. Jesus was head over the physical universe (1:15–17) and the spiritual body or church general (1:18), “that in all things he might have the preëminence.” Hence he is to be “the Head” (2:19) for all believers. So angels are not to be worshipped (2:18). No false philosophy can take the place of “the mystery of God, even Christ, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden” (2:2 f.). In answer, therefore, to the Gnostic debasement of Jesus, Paul expounds the dignity and glory of the person of Jesus. He does not here use the term God, but he describes him in language which leaves no other alternative possible as to his real meaning. Just as the Judaizing controversy developed clearly and fully Paul’s position about faith and works, so the Gnostic controversy was the occasion for the richer exposition of the person of Christ. It is easy to see how the deity of Christ is no new idea with Paul. The roots of it go back to the vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus, and he shows it at many points previous to this Epistle. But here the cross of Christ stands out, not against Pharisaic legalism as in the four great doctrinal Epistles, but against the bondage of false philosophy (2:13–16.)
In practical life also the Gnostics divided. Some took the ascetic turn. Since matter was evil, they would separate themselves from life around them by external renunciation and self-imposed regulations for the abuse of the body (2:20–23). But this plan was a failure. Mere asceticism is of no avail against the indulgence of the flesh. The other party went to the extreme of license and argued that evil could not be kept from the body, which was itself evil. The soul, however, could be kept pure in spite of the sinful indulgences of the body. The soul alone was worth while. Let the body have license in its indulgences. Against this low view of life Paul sets the ideal of life in Christ and urges a fight to the death on the sins of the body, putting off the old man with his doings and putting on the new man with the new heart and the new life (3:1–17). It is a noble appeal that Paul makes, and he applies it to the various classes of the time. He sees the social side of Christian endeavor and carefully explains how each section of society may meet its specific difficulty in the spirit of Christ.
17. A General Appeal to the Churches of Asia: The Epistle to the Ephesians.—Paul seemed to feel so strongly the importance of vigorous treatment of the new heresy that he sent another letter along at the same time which he wished passed around among the churches (Col. 4:16). A natural inquiry is raised as to the fate of this Epistle to the Laodiceans. Curiously enough the words “at Ephesus” (Eph. 1:1) are wanting in the oldest Greek mss. Marcion actually calls the Epistle known to us as that to the Ephesians the Epistle to the Laodiceans. There are no personal greetings as one would expect (cf. Col. 4:10–17) in a letter to Ephesus, where Paul labored three years. The whole tone of the Epistle is that of a circular letter. The term church throughout has the general, not the local, sense and is synonymous here with “body” (1:22 f.), “one new man” both Jew and Gentile (2:15), “one body” of both (2:16), “commonwealth of Israel” (2:12, 19), “household of God” (2:19), “a holy temple in the Lord” (2:21), the bride of Christ (5:23). He seems to have in mind the Christians of Asia as a whole, both Jew and Greek (cf. 1 Peter 1:1; 2:4). One may suppose either that several copies were made with a blank left for the name of this church or that, as the one copy was passed around from church to church, other copies were made. One came to Ephesus, the capital city of the province of Asia, and that copy naturally is the one preserved to us.
This general appeal of Paul against the Gnostic heresy well illustrates his interest in the Kingdom of God. He is still the ecclesiastical statesman, though a prisoner at Rome. He is as yet debarred from going to Spain, but he is eager to conserve the cause in the East. These two Epistles (Colossians and Ephesians) challenge comparison at once. They were sent at the same time, but obviously Colossians was composed before Ephesians as the one that directly called forth the discussion of the Colossian heresy. As has often been pointed out, there is much the same relation in manner of treatment between Colossians and Ephesians that we see between Galatians and Romans The specific treatment precedes the general discussion. Hence in Ephesians there is less warmth than in Colossians. The subject is handled with less passion, but with more intellectual grasp. The heights and depths of the spiritual interpretation of life are touched in Eph. 1–3, the most profound passage in all Christian literature.
In Colossians Paul was anxious to exalt Christ to his true position of dignity and power. In Ephesians he rather assumes that place for Christ and unfolds the corresponding dignity of the body of Christ, the church, his bride. Here the doctrine of election is treated (1:3–14), not as needing defence by reason of the failure of the Jews to respond to the gospel message (Rom. 9–11), but rather as an exhibition of the love of God to both Jew and Greek. Two great prayers glorify this Epistle (1:15–23; 3:14–21) that sound the depths of profound emotion and scale the heavenly places in noble aspiration. Chapter 2 is Paul’s best exposition of the breaking down by Christ of the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile. He is here not defending the right of the Gentile to equal terms with the Jew in Christianity (Galatians and Romans). He is the rather reminding the Gentiles of their glorious privilege, made possible by Christ, and urging them to be worthy of membership in the body of which Christ is Head. He is jealous that Gentiles shall prove worthy of their new position.
The fuller discussion of the Christian life in its private and social aspects in Ephesians grows naturally out of this broad and exalted conception of the Christian’s connection with Christ. The exalted Head calls for an exalted body. This intimate relation between the redeemed and Christ reaches the height of nobility in the discussion in 5:22–33. One cannot forbear remarking how pertinent is the detailed discussion of the Roman armor in 6:10–20. Paul surely had ample opportunity to become familiar with every piece of that armor as he watched the soldier to whom he was chained.
If Paul’s prison life in Rome had done nothing for the world save give it the Epistles to the Colossians and Ephesians it would have been more than worth while. The heat and burden of a busy life are now behind him. The sun has turned toward the west with him. He is an old man, but not a broken man. If there is less fire than in the four great Epistles, as they are called, there is equal light here, if not more. Clearly, Paul is now more serene, more restful in spirit, more tender, more spiritual in his insight. It is a normal development to which he has come. He will never go back to the stormy time of I Corinthians, II Corinthians, and Galatians. “The greatness of the Church and the divine glory of Christ fill Paul’s prison meditations.” He has not merely rounded out his doctrine. He has finished the pyramid. Jesus Christ is all and in all with Paul (Col. 3:11). Christ is for all men and all men are for Christ. There is a greater Kingdom in the world than that of Rome. Even in Rome, indeed partly because in Rome, Paul sees the splendor and glory of that Kingdom, the true imperium, that shall gather into its sweep men of the whole earth. In fact, that in one sense had already come true (Col. 1:6). Paul is loved everywhere and his authority is acknowledged everywhere. No church now resists his word or will. He is now, in reality, the Apostle of the whole world. He has no apology to make for his chains, but he is humble and asks the prayers of all Christians that he may be a better preacher of the mystery of the Gospel (6:19 f.). He is anxious for other doors for the word (Col. 4:3). “As Nero’s prisoner at Rome and Christ’s bondsman for the Gentiles, St. Paul rose to the full unassailable height of his doctrine and his vocation.” He speaks with the power of Isaiah and the sweetness of David. Love for the whole world lights up his eyes. His face shines like that of Moses coming down the Mount. He has been often looking at the face of Christ.


“I exhort, therefore, first of all, that supplication, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men; for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all godliness and gravity” (1 Tim. 2:1 f).
1. The Outcome of the Trial.—One is at liberty to suppose that Agrippa and Festus may have made on the whole a favorable report to Rome concerning Paul. Julius may have recommended consideration also. But, while Paul waited the humor of the fickle Nero, the years drew on. We miss the master hand of Luke in the description of this trial before Nero (or the Prætorian Prefect) as we have it in the trials at Jerusalem and Cæsarea. To me this very absence argues for dating the conclusion of Acts before the trial came off. The presumption in Acts points to Paul’s acquittal since neither Felix nor Festus had been able to find a charge against him that would stand in Roman law. Besides, Paul himself confidently expects to be set free (Phil. 1:25; Philem. 22). It is more than doubtful if any capital charge was presented against him. But we cannot assume that he was simply set free without investigation or trial. As before in Cæsarea, Paul probably made his own plea. Did his enemies repeat the same charges made to Felix and Festus? If so, they failed as before in spite of the influence of Poppæa who would be open to the appeal of the Jews against Paul. There were already believers and friends of Paul both in the Prætorian Guard and in Cæsar’s household. Hence he was not without some friends on the inside of court circles. Perhaps Paul’s enemies and their Roman lawyer bungled their case or may have displeased Nero by some accident. Seneca, indeed, may have taken a momentary interest in the matter on the side of justice. Paul would have little difficulty in showing that he had kept within the Roman law concerning Judaism as a religio licita. He could cite the position of Gallio at Corinth. As the brother of Seneca, that decision would be pertinent and timely. His religion was the true Judaism. At any rate, he was set free.
There is a considerable amount of evidence among early Christian writers indicating that Paul was set free. We do not have space for that phase of the discussion here. Scholars are not agreed upon it, but the balance of probability distinctly favors his release. There is no evidence of real worth against the positive witness for Paul’s release. The Pastoral Epistles come into the scale. If they are genuine, as I think, they settle what doubt may remain. They cannot be fitted into Paul’s career up to the close of Acts. We have no right to assume that his life and work closed with the end of Acts. The very tone and temper of these Epistles call for a somewhat later time. They fit in exactly with a probable picture of Paul’s closing days. For the present, therefore, they may be used as conclusive argument for Paul’s release from the first Roman imprisonment and as material for the construction of the closing period of his ministry. Sometime during A.D. 63, therefore, we may imagine Paul as free from chain and soldier. Some five years it had taken him to allay the storm raised that day in the temple at Jerusalem.
2. The Visit to the East.—Before Paul went to Rome he was eager to go on to Spain. But now, after five years, new problems have arisen in the East. He is anxious to visit Philippi and Colossæ. It is all speculation, to be sure, and one must not be dogmatic, but it is at least possible to think that Paul carried out this last purpose. He was needed in the East, and it would cheer him to revisit the scenes of his former labors. Refreshment of heart would come to him after the long years of suffering and separation. But we have absolutely no details of this visit. How long he remained in the East we have no means of knowing.
3. The Visit to Spain.—Clement of Rome (cf. Phil. 4:3), writing to Corinth from Rome (ch. 5), expressly says that Paul “had gone to the limit of the West” before his martyrdom. That could only mean Spain from the Roman point of view. In the Canon of Muratori it is stated that Paul went to Spain. In the spring or early summer of A.D. 64 we may imagine Paul at last in Spain. He had reached the goal of his ambition after much tribulation. He had some fruit in the West also. One may pass by as without foundation the late tradition that Paul went on to Britain. He was probably in Spain when the awful catastrophe befell Rome, July 19, A.D. 64.
4. The Burning of Rome.—It is difficult to think that Paul would have escaped if he had been in Rome after this dreadful event. Indeed, some scholars think that both Paul and Peter fell victims in A.D. 64 to the fury of Nero against the Christians. But I am not able to see the facts in that light. The whole world knows the story of this “mad freak of the malicious monster who then wore the imperial purple.” He chose to lay the blame of his deed upon the Christians, perhaps brought to his attention by the trial of Paul, in order to shield himself from popular wrath. The heart grows sick at the thought of the horrible details of Nero’s persecution of Christians in Rome. Oil was poured over their clothing and they were tied to posts or trees and lighted at night like street lamps, while Nero rode furiously around in his chariot. But the point about this charnel house of crime that bears directly on Paul is that henceforth he would be a marked man, as indeed all prominent Christians were. Paul’s release had virtually given Christianity a legal standing in Roman law as a form of Judaism. But now Nero had made a sharp distinction between Christians and Jews. Christianity was now religio illicita. To be a Christian was crime enough to deserve death (1 Peter 4:16). The fashion of persecuting Christians had the sanction of the imperial example and command. It was now no mere popular outburst in a distant province against a man who interfered with established custom or business interests. Subservient flatterers and hirelings of Nero would seek to curry his favor, while this spell was on him, by informing against important Christians or delivering them up to his wrath. Henceforth there was no safe spot for Paul on earth nor for Peter either. John did, for the present, seem to escape this storm of persecution. But with Paul it is merely a question of time when his Roman enemies will get hold of him. He had escaped the vengeance of Greek and Jewish mobs, of Judaizers, of the Sanhedrin. Where can he turn now to make a stand against the rage of Nero, the madcap Emperor of Rome?
5. The Return East for the Last Time.—One is certain that Paul would not go by Rome when he left Spain. He may, indeed, have remained in Spain till 66 when the first fury of the Roman wild beast had subsided. He came by Crete with Titus and left him there (Tit. 1:5). He had probably had his interest in the island aroused at the time of the voyage to Rome when he could not tarry. He came also to Miletus and probably did not go to Ephesus if one may judge by the directions given to Timothy (1 Tim. 1:3). Paul seems to have left Timothy at Miletus, where he left Trophimus sick (2 Tim. 4:20). Timothy, therefore, is in charge at Ephesus, but Paul later sends Tychicus there also who had returned to Rome (2 Tim. 4:12). Paul touched also at Troas on his way (2 Tim. 4:13). He had possibly expected to come back here and so left his cloak and books with Carpus. He was on his way to Macedonia (1 Tim. 1:3). The Jewish War had begun in A.D. 66. Paul would be hated by the Romans not merely as a Christian, but as a Jew.
6. Paul’s Concern for Timothy and the Work in Ephesus: I Timothy.—Paul is apparently in Macedonia, and it is probably the late summer or early autumn of A.D. 67. The three Pastoral Epistles seem to come fairly close together. I shall not enter into a formal defence of these letters as Pauline. They do differ in style from the other groups of his Epistles. Indeed, all four groups have differences of style. Within bounds this is only natural. Style is not merely the mark of the man, though that is true. It is equally the function of the subject and ought to vary with the theme. Moreover, each man’s style changes with the shifting periods of his life. Milton and Shakespeare, not to say Tennyson, are good illustrations of this variation in style. The severe critics of the Pastoral Epistles admit Pauline elements in them. The Pauline strain is manifest and strong. The real point to be faced is whether the facts given in these letters can be put into an intelligible scheme of Paul’s life and whether the style is appropriate to him at the close of his career in the discussion of the themes embraced in the letters. The use of the new facts here brought out is perfectly admissible, as already shown. The style is, indeed, more chastened, less vigorous, more discursive, even less orderly than that of Paul in his earlier Epistles. But if one thinks of an old soldier of the cross, whose fire has somewhat died down, who is counselling young ministers concerning the problems that confront him, he will not be ready to say that the reflective, contemplative, personal character of these letters is not natural.
Paul tells why he wrote to Timothy. It is to impress further the exhortation given concerning his remaining awhile at Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3). Timothy seemed to have been at this time a travelling evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5), but special reasons demanded his staying a season at Ephesus. We can form some adequate conception of Timothy’s career so far. He was with Paul most of the time during the second and third missionary journeys, went with him to Jerusalem with the great collection, and rejoined him in Rome. He was one of the most faithful of all of Paul’s helpers and gave him much satisfaction. He seems not to have had robust health. The church at Ephesus had a body of elders, as we know, but Timothy was sent here as Paul’s special representative as Tychicus was later (2 Tim. 4:12). The conditions which Paul foresaw when at Miletus years before (Acts 20:29 ff.), and which he sought to rectify in the Epistles to the Colossians and the Ephesians, still demanded attention. “Certain men” at Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3) were preaching a “different doctrine,” one devoted to “fables and endless genealogies,” the same mixture of Jewish Gnosticism. The result was simply dispute, empty talk, violent affirmation. Paul was anxious that Timothy should seek to rescue the church from the influence of this barren philosophizing. It was a formidable task for a young preacher like Timothy who had once been unsuccessful in the troubles at Corinth. “Let no man despise thy youth” (1 Tim. 4:12), Paul exhorts him. He will need wisdom and firmness.
Paul writes in a tone of sympathy with the young preacher and his problems. He himself had little of that in the beginning of his ministry save the fellowship of Barnabas. Paul is reminded vividly of Christ’s goodness to him in putting him into that ministry which Timothy now adorns. Paul now looks back over a long and checkered life of service for Christ. He has been at the chariot wheel of Christ in his triumphal procession both as captive and as incense-bearer. He has had prisons oft and once for five years, but he simply and frankly thanks Christ Jesus his Lord for calling him to this high and holy work, unworthy though he was (1 Tim. 1:12–17). That spirit in the old preacher is one of the ways of securing more young men for the ministry. One may thank God for the old preacher, full of years and of wisdom, who is able to enrich the lives of younger men. Paul is ripe with experience and grace and mellow with tender love as he warns and exhorts Timothy. He is, indeed, conservative now, as old men normally are, but he is not excessively so. His interest in the young preachers about him is one of the ways of keeping young himself.
Paul shows a keen desire that Timothy shall fulfil the promise of his youth (1:18), for others, alas, had made shipwreck, as Hymeneus and Alexander. He must be an example in upright living (4:12), a constant student (4:13), for here many fall short, diligent in the use of his gift, consecrated so as not to fritter away his energies, watchful about his health and his piety, that his progress may be manifest to all (4:14 f.). One can endure much in a young preacher if he is steadily growing in knowledge and power. He will have many temptations to follow after money and pleasure (6:11). Paul concludes with a passionate plea for Timothy to guard the deposit which he has received, to be faithful to his trust (6:20).
But there is more than this intensely interesting personal strain in the Epistle. Though directed to Timothy the letter was evidently intended for public use also. It deals with church problems very largely, such as the qualifications of the bishop and the deacon, the treatment of a class of aged widows, the conduct of the rich, of servants. Social problems are prominent in the church life of the time. It is a rather more advanced type of church life that confronts us here than we meet in the Corinthian Epistles, but not more developed than one need expect by A.D. 67 in Ephesus.
The Apostle is anxious about the future of Christianity. He sees signs of heresy, of strife, of apostasy. But prayer and faithful preaching will meet the situation. It is interesting to note Paul’s generous attitude toward the state (2:1 ff.) as in Rom. 13:1–7. He cherishes no harsh feelings. He sees the relation between good government and the welfare of the Kingdom of God. He asks prayers for kings. Not yet has the state everywhere been willing to allow Christians to “lead a tranquil and quiet life.” Paul had felt the heavy hand of an oppressive state upon him. The shadows were gathering fast around him now.
7. The Cause in Crete: The Epistle to Titus.—Titus came into fellowship with Paul earlier than Timothy. He appeared at Jerusalem with him at the conference about A.D. 50 (Gal. 2:1, 3). He was Paul’s mainstay in the Corinthian troubles (2 Cor. 7:13 f.). He had been with Paul on his last visit to Crete (Tit. 1:5). He will be with him again at Rome before leaving for Dalmatia (2 Tim. 4:10). Like Timothy (1 Tim. 1:2) he was Paul’s own true child in the faith (Tit. 1:4). Paul was clearly proud of these two young ministers who had so well justified his hopes about them.
Paul is apparently still in Macedonia and expects to spend the winter in Nicopolis (Tit. 3:12). It is probably near winter (A.D. 67). Zenas, the lawyer, and Apollos are possibly the bearers of the letter (3:13). Here is another glimpse of Apollos, whose friendship with Paul is unshaken. The lawyer, like Luke the physician, is a Gentile, it seems. Paul is hoping to send either Artemas or Tychicus to Titus later (3:12). Thus we see how Paul keeps in touch with the work all over the world. He has friends in Crete who love him (3:15). Not the least element of power in Paul is his vital touch with men. He makes friends and keeps them.
Paul shows real knowledge of the local conditions and difficulties of the work in Crete. They seem to have been specially susceptible to the “vain talkers and deceivers,” especially to them of the circumcision (1:10). Here we seem to have an echo of the old Judaizing controversy. The Pharisaic party died hard, evidently, and finally drifted into a definite sect called Ebionites. But Paul is positive that their “mouths must be stopped” for they “overthrow whole houses,” teaching “for filthy lucre’s sake.” Surely they were the lowest type of religious demagogues. But they had success in Crete. Paul is not surprised at this since one of their own prophets (poets) had said:
“Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, idle gluttons.”
It was severe, but Paul indorsed it. Prof. J. Rendal Harris has shown that the reputation of the Cretans as liars began with the fact that they claimed that Zeus was dead and was buried on their island. The recent discoveries of Evans3 at Knossos have shed a flood of light on the ancient civilization that flourished here far back in the Mycenæan age and even before that time. The type of heresy here was Jewish (1:10, 14), but may have had Gnostic elements (1:16) mingled with Pharisaism. Paul urges sharpness (1:13) if need be.
There are fewer personal exhortations in the Epistle and one wonders it Titus were not rather older than Timothy as well as more vigorous. He is in particular to avoid wrangling and disputes with factious men who fight about the law (3:9 f.). The directions about church officers and social problems do not differ greatly from those given to Timothy. He has in mind “rulers” (3:1) also, and is as anxious for uprightness of life as for orthodoxy of belief (3:8). In general the position of Titus in Crete seems to be the same as that of Timothy in Asia, a sort of general evangelist. Neither of these Epistles discusses a great doctrine at length, though Paul’s favorite teachings recur.


“For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day” (2 Tim. 4:6 ff.).
1. The Arrest.—The winter came on, the winter of 67 and 68. Paul had left Erastus at Corinth on the way to Nicopolis (2 Tim. 4:20). We have not Luke’s graphic pen to describe the occasion and the circumstances of this second arrest. Probably while at Nicopolis during the winter or early spring, Paul suddenly finds himself under arrest as the result of the work of some informer anxious to ingratiate himself into the good graces of Nero and his favorites whose pastime was now the persecution of the Christians. They had grown weary of mere gladiatorial shows. The tortures of Christians, men and maidens, added novelty to the blasé life of Rome. His very nearness to Italy invited the attack of professional informers. Nicopolis, monument of the victory of Octavius at Actium, was a good place for such men to gather.
2. The New Charges.—We are justified in saying this much. The trouble in Jerusalem had arisen from the Jews as a protest against Paul’s work in its bearing on Judaism. His Jewish enemies had tried to give an imperial turn to these charges, but had failed both in Cæsarea and Rome (before both provincial and imperial courts). But Christians could not now find shelter under the privileges granted to Judaism by Roman law. The Christian leader was now assumed to be, ipso facto, guilty of dark and dubious practices. The Jews themselves were not in good standing at Rome now that the war in Judea was raging. It may be inferred logically, therefore, that the newly invented charges against Paul had to do with the Roman state and in particular with the burning of Rome. That accusation was still doing duty whenever it was needed against a Christian. It was a matter of public knowledge that Paul had been in Rome not long before the burning of Rome. It would be easy to charge that his departure was only temporary, that he had returned, that he was resentful because of his long imprisonment, that he was in truth a ringleader of the whole affair, that he had since been hiding in distant parts of the empire. It would be easy also to add to this accusation charges of disloyalty against the Emperor because of his language about Jesus as King as at Thessalonica (Acts 17:7). The pathos of the situation lies partly in the fact that he was at this very time urging prayer for kings and all in authority (1 Tim. 2:1), and urging obedience and orderly behavior on the part of all Christians (Tit. 3:1). It was just as it had been in his worship in the temple at Jerusalem when arrested before. Paul must now confront not a mob, either Greek or Jewish. He had learned how to escape them by the help of God. He was not to confront the Jewish Sanhedrin whose refinements in theology he well knew. He was not to appear before cowardly provincial governors who did not dare do what they knew was right. He was not, indeed, to face Roman law at all in its free exercise. He would not probably appear before Nero in person, but before the City Prefect, who would merely register the known desire of Nero about Christians. Certain forms of law would be observed, but the wheels of the law would grind out condemnation.
3. The Close Confinement.—The freedom enjoyed during the first imprisonment is all gone. He is probably thrown into the Mamertine Prison or, at any rate, is under close military custody (2 Tim. 1:16). One is reminded of the condition of John the Baptist in the prison at Machærus and Paul’s own fate in the inner prison at Philippi (Acts 16:24). So he is back in Rome again, the new Rome of Nero’s mad revels under the tutelage of Tigellinus. Seneca wrote philosophy while Nero gave full rein to his passions. There is no relief to the dark picture save what comes from the inward light of the spirit. It was, indeed, “the irony of human life,” for Paul to be in the hands of a man who was “nothing but a compound of mud and blood.”
4. The Desertion of Paul’s Friends.—Not many Christians remained in Rome at a time like this. Many had suffered the martyr’s death for Jesus. Others had left the city and probably did wisely in doing so. Crescens had gone to Galatia, perhaps, with a message from Paul, and likewise Titus to Dalmatia (2 Tim. 4:10), showing that his work in Crete was of a temporary nature. So Paul had sent Tychicus to Ephesus (2 Tim. 4:12). Prisca and Aquila are absent in the East with Timothy (2 Tim. 4:19) as well as the house of Onesiphorus. Paul is grateful to Onesiphorus, “for he oft refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chain; but, when he was in Rome, he sought me diligently and found me” (2 Tim. 1:16 f.). These simple words tell volumes about the difficulty of finding Paul now and the danger of being known as his friend. In his former imprisonment his visitors were many and they came and went “unhindered.” It was an honor among Christians to be in the list of Paul’s friends. But now one had to consider whether he was willing to lose his life for the sake of seeing the Apostle to the Gentiles. He could not be rescued. He might be comforted, but at a very high price. Onesiphorus did not count the cost. He had his reward in comforting the lonely Apostle. Most Christians who had to be in Rome made it convenient, so it seems, to be ignorant of Paul’s where abouts and to make no inquiries. Some remained and were loyal to Paul (though not constantly with him), like Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, Claudia and “all the brethren” in Rome who were still spared by Nero (2 Tim. 4:21). But Demas forsook Paul, “having loved this present world, and went to Thessalonica” (2 Tim. 4:10). He suddenly found a pressing demand for his services there and Paul felt the desertion keenly.
5. The First Stage of the Trial.—This has already passed when he writes his last Epistle, our only source of information for this closing period of Paul’s life. The less serious charge apparently came first. What it was we do not know. It may have been that Christianity was a religio nova et illicita. This matter was involved in his former appearance at the bar of Nero. It had fallen through then and may have failed now. We know the name of one of the accusers at this first stage of Paul’s last trial. “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil” (4:14). He may have been the same Alexander who at Ephesus (Acts 19:33) sought to clear the Jews of any connection with Paul and his denunciation of Diana and her temple. The name is a common one. But if he is the same man, he was doubtless glad of his chance to settle his account with Paul since the multitude would not hear him that day. His resentment was of long standing and his representations told heavily against Paul. Paul warns Timothy to beware of him if he ever comes his way, “for he greatly withstood our words” (2 Tim. 4:15). He seems to have been the chief spokesman among the accusers.
It seems that a considerable audience was present at this stage of the trial (4:17). Paul was the most famous Christian in the world. Common as the condemnation of Christians had come to be, fresh interest would be aroused by this case. When Paul came to Rome the first time, he was met by a delegation of brethren whose coming gave him courage. Now he looked around in vain for any one to take his part (4:16). “All forsook me.” Had Luke failed to be present on that day? Paul cannot help thinking of all the peril that he has risked for other Christians. It does seem a little hard now to be left alone in the mouth of the lion. “May it not be laid to their account.”
But he had help. It was his last opportunity to speak the message of eternal life to all the Gentiles present. “The Lord stood by me and strengthened me” (4:17). Was it a vision? Jesus had come to his side at Jerusalem after his conversion, when the Jews refused to hear him, at Corinth when they rejected his message, at Jerusalem again when they clamored for his blood. Paul had turned away from all his former friends to follow Jesus. Now all his Christian friends leave him. But Jesus does not leave Paul. With Jesus at his side he cares not for Nero, worse than a Numidian lion, whose hungry mouth was ready for him (4:17). Paul may mean that as a Roman citizen he could not be thrown to the wild beasts. He was acquitted, therefore, on this first charge. But it was only a matter of time till the end came.
6. The Loneliness of Paul.—It was in the spring when Paul was writing, the spring of 68. He has passed through part of the winter or early spring in the dreary Roman prison. He has missed his warm cloak which he left at Troas with Carpus (4:13) on his way to Macedonia to winter at Nicopolis. He does not know how long the trial will be drawn out. It may last till the next winter, and so he urges Timothy to be sure to come to Rome before winter (4:21). It makes him shudder to think of another winter without that cloak.
But that is not the worst of it. He is lonely. “Only Luke is with me” (4:11). Thank God for the faithful physician who will risk all for his patient and friend. There is no complaint of Luke, but both of them hunger for the fellowship of others. Paul makes a direct appeal to Timothy to come to him. We do not know where Timothy was when he received this Second Epistle. The mention of Ephesus (1:18; 4:12) can be argued either way. He may have left Ephesus by now as Titus had left Crete. The presence of the house of Onesiphorus and of Prisca and Aquila with Timothy may argue still for Ephesus as his abode. But, wherever he was, we may be sure that he made all “diligence to come shortly” to Paul (4:9). There was no doubt of the devotion of Timothy to the grand old hero of the cross in the Roman prison. Timothy would risk his life for Paul. It seems from Heb. 13:23 that Timothy did come and was put into prison. When the Epistle to the Hebrews was written (probably A.D. 69, just before the destruction of Jerusalem and after Paul’s death) Timothy has been set free. Whether he came before Paul’s death or not is very uncertain, since the end came long before the oncoming winter.
It is a pleasant circumstance to note that Paul singles out Mark (2 Tim. 4:11) as a young minister who can be counted on to be true in this time of trial. He has already been useful to Paul for ministering and has gotten bravely over the Perga experience. It is a good thing to reflect that a young man who makes a mistake may recover his ground. It is high tribute to Mark that Paul now couples his name with that of Timothy as one who will stick to the work, who will even dare the wrath of Nero to do so. The aged preacher appeals to two young preachers to come and stand by his side. That was a call to stir their blood.
Another element entered into Paul’s loneliness. He had left most of his books and parchments at Troas. He was busy travelling and so left them with Carpus. He is in prison without friends (save Luke) and without books. That is a pathetic condition, indeed, and throws a keen light into Paul’s nature, his love of books. He not merely exhorted Timothy to read. He had been a student himself as well as the writer of what have proved to be the greatest letters of history. Busy as Paul’s life had been, as missionary and leader, he had not forgotten his books. Life is dreary without his books. Pity the old man who does not love books. Other friends may desert you. Good books stay with you. These “parchments” were probably portions of the Old Testament much used by Paul and precious to him. He may have made notes upon them.
7. A Last Message to Timothy.—Paul has not lost his hold upon the workers nor his interest in the work. He has sent messengers to various parts of the world. By one of these, probably, this message to Timothy is conveyed. Greatly as Paul is concerned about his own problems, he is alert and eager to help Timothy. He hungers for sympathy, but he bravely puts heart into Timothy’s plans. He reminds his “beloved child” of his pious ancestry and urges him to be worthy of such a heritage of faith (1:5). From a babe he has known the Holy Scriptures. The love of these devoted teachers should inspire Timothy (3:14 f.) to loyalty to the Word of God. Paul begs Timothy to kindle into a blaze the gift of God which he has (1:6). God gave a spirit of courage and power (1:7). It is a noble appeal that Paul here makes for bravery on the part of the young preacher. Hardship is the lot to which Paul calls him in ch. 2. Remember Jesus, remember Paul and forget hardship.
Paul is ambitious that Timothy may be an expert teacher of the Word of God (2:15). That is the best way to meet heresy. Give people the truth. Dislodge error by the “expulsive power” of truth. Timothy will have trouble after Paul is gone, but let him be true to Paul’s teaching and example (3:10 f.). “Out of them all the Lord delivered me.” But how can Paul talk so now? God has kept him to a good old age and established the work of his hands. He must go some time. Nothing that can now happen can undo what God has done. Paul is not a pessimist as he warns Timothy against heresy and heretics. “The firm foundation of God standeth” (2:19). Let Timothy preach the word and fulfil his ministry (4:2, 5). That is his part. It is a bugle note from the old warrior.
8. Paul’s Estimate of His Own Career.—He is the battle-scarred veteran of many conflicts and may be allowed to say a word about himself. It is a brief word and is sometimes called his Swan-song just before his death. Paul’s fight is over. That is plain to him and he is not unwilling for Timothy to know it. True, he may linger on some months or a year or so. But he never expects to have his freedom again. He remembers the five years of his former imprisonment and knows the changed conditions of his present state. He has run his course. He had longed to do this though ready to die if need be years before (Acts 20:24). God has been good to him. His work is done. He has no regrets. He made no mistake that day when he turned to Jesus on the road to Damascus. He stands by his guns as he falls at his post, and urges those that remain to carry on the fight. Let us to-day hear his call. There is no sign of surrender, no note of defeat. He is calm as he beholds the end. He indulges in no self-praise. He has simply carried his load to the end of the journey. That is all. He has been preacher, Apostle, teacher, and he is not ashamed (1:11 f.). He does not boast. He is humble at the feet of the Master. He exults in knowing that he has kept the faith. Of this he is proud. He has stood against Judaizer and Gnostic to preserve the truth of the gospel. This fact is a solace to the old preacher whose last sermon has been preached. He has never been disloyal to Christ.
9. He Longs for Jesus.—Paul does not doubt Jesus, for he has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim. 1:10). If there is one thing in the world about which Paul can speak with authority it is fellowship with Jesus. “I know him whom I have believed” (1:12). In the last analysis this is the fundamental apologetic, knowledge of Jesus. Nothing can rob Paul of this. He knows Christ by a blessed experience of thirty years or more. He has the full persuasion that Jesus is able to guard that which he has committed unto him against that day (1:12).
Paul’s face is now turned toward “that day.” Indeed, he is “already being offered” and the time of his departure has come (4:6). He had long been ready for that consummation (Phil. 1:23). At last he is released from the harness like the faithful horse at the end of the day’s journey. It will be sweet to rest from the toil and strife, but he is glad that he has had his share of the work.
It is futile for his enemies to attack him. “The Lord will deliver me from every evil work” (4:18). He does not mean that he will be set free from the charges against him. Not that, but something better. Jesus “will save me unto his heavenly Kingdom.” There his enemies will not come and cannot harm him. Paul still has interest in earthly affairs, but his heart is in the hills on high. He looks away to the mountains. His feet are growing restless and the sun is setting in the west. Jesus is beckoning to him and he will go.
He has a “crown of righteousness” laid up for him which the Lord Jesus, “the righteous judge,” will give him at that day (4:8). It matters little to Paul what the decision of Nero or his minions may be. He will appeal this time to the Supreme Judge, to the Highest Court, whose decision cannot be reversed. This “righteous judge” will give him his crown. That will be glory for Paul. He can pass by with indifference the whim of Nero. Let him do his worst. Paul is not now caring for Cæsar’s judgment-seat. Once Paul had said that his aim had been to bring every thought into subjection to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Christ is living in Paul (Gal. 2:20). With Christ he is content. He is seeking the things above where Christ is (Col. 3:1). He moves serenely in the high, clear atmosphere like the triumphant eagle. He is going soon to be at home with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). He will “depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better.”
10. The Condemnation.—The end came sooner than Paul had expected. Nero’s own star suddenly set in gloom. It has never risen again. By the middle of June A.D. 68 Nero was dead in disgrace. The common tradition is that Paul was put to death before Nero’s departure. Hence in May or early June we must suppose that Paul met the long-foreseen doom. If Timothy came before that time he also was made a prisoner though he escaped with his life (Heb.13:23). If so, Paul had the comfort of Timothy’s fellowship awhile at least. It is doubtful if Mark was able to come. But Paul may have had another look at his books.
If Paul was accused of complicity in the burning of Rome, summary judgment was rendered. As a Roman citizen, he was spared a slow, torturing death. He was not to be burned or to go to the lions. But he was to be beheaded. At last one day he heard the sentence of death pronounced upon himself. He had faced that peril many times before (2 Cor. 1:9). It is now a reality. He is to follow in the footsteps of his Master. He had once revolted against the notion of a crucified Messiah. But the Cross had come to be Paul’s glory (Gal. 6:14). He will bear his own cross. He already bears the brand-marks of Jesus (Gal. 6:17).
11. Paul’s Death.—The details are all wanting. Tradition supplies only a few, which may be true or not. The story is that Paul was beheaded on the Ostian Road. It was customary for criminals of prominence to be executed several miles out of the city so as to avoid the crowds.
We may picture the event in a possible manner. One day in late spring or early June the executioners came to Paul’s dungeon and led him out of the city. One is reminded of Jesus as he bore his cross along his Via Dolorosa. Paul, as a condemned criminal, would be the victim of the rabble’s sport. He would have no defender. We do not know if Luke was with Paul to the very last. We may at least hope so. If he could, he would surely walk along as near Paul as would be allowed. But no band of Christians followed with him now. He was going out of Rome on his way to the true Eternal City. He knew Rome well, but his eyes were fixed on other things. Outside the city the busy, merry life of the time went on. The crowds flowed into town. Some were going out. Paul was only a criminal going to be beheaded. Few, if any, of the crowds about would know or care anything about him. At a good place on the road some miles out the executioners stopped. The block was laid down. Paul laid his head upon it. The sword (or axe) was raised. The head of the greatest preacher of the ages rolled upon the ground. Tradition says that a Roman “matron named Lucina buried the body of St. Paul on her own land, beside the Ostian Road.” Be that as it may, no Christian can come to Rome, especially by the Ostian Road, without tender thoughts of Paul, the matchless servant of Jesus.
It is hard to leave Paul without a thought of Peter, whose martyrdom was probably at Rome and may have been not far from the same time. Legend has been busy with that event. The story goes that Peter was running away from Rome to escape death and was met on the Appian Way by Jesus. He fell at the feet of Jesus and asked, “Domine, quo vadis?” The Master answered, “Venio iterum crucifigi.” Stricken with shame, Peter went back to Rome and to death. There is no proof for that story. It may be just an echo of Peter’s real denial of Jesus and of Paul’s martyrdom. But the time was full of change. Paul is dead. Peter is dead. Soon Jerusalem will be in ruins. The Temple of Jehovah will be no more. But the Kingdom of Jesus has girt the Mediterranean Sea and has taken root all over the Roman Empire. Paul lived to see his dream of a world empire for Christ largely realized. He, not Peter, is the spiritual leader of apostolic Christianity. Peter fell into line with Paul’s masterful aggressiveness and rejoiced in the hand of God that was laid upon the great interpreter of Jesus.
12. A Backward Look.—One hesitates to add a word more about Paul. He has gone to be with his Lord. But nearly nineteen centuries have rolled by since Paul planted the gospel in the Empire of Nero. His name to-day is the great name in Christian history after that of Jesus. It is not enough to say that he stood at the source of Christianity and put his impress upon it in the formative period. That is quite true, but a great deal more is true. Real Christianity has never gotten away from Paul. I do not believe that it ever will. He was the great thinker in this important era. He blazed the way in doctrine and in life. He caught the spirit of Jesus and breathed that spirit into Gentile Christianity. The uneasiness of Paul, expressed in his Epistles to Timothy, about the future of Christianity had ample justification. The time did come when that very Romanism which he had so admired in some of its phases seized upon Christianity, mixed it with the Judaism which he fought and radically perverted the gospel of Christ. The Gnostic heresies which had arisen grew in power, and Mithraism came to give battle to Christianity in the Roman Empire.
But however far men have at times wandered away from Christ, the Epistles of Paul stand as beacon lights to call them back to Christ. We can find Christ more easily because Paul saw him so clearly. He will help the modern world to find Jesus. He did not wish men to think of him. His highest hope is realized when men turn to Jesus with heart and hope because of what Paul was and is.
The theme of Paul is not exhausted in this present volume. Books about Paul will continue to come from the press. His stature grows greater with the years. He is foremost as theologian, as practical missionary, as constructive statesman, as man of boundless resource and energy. No one in Christian history approaches him in these respects.
No word about Paul is complete that does not lay stress upon his mysticism. John gives us the supreme picture of the mystical side of Jesus. Paul reveals his own mystical relation to Christ. John writes in a calmer tone, while Paul loses himself in the abandon of passionate devotion to Christ and identification with him. Masterful in intellect, mighty in endeavor, high in spirit, rich in heart was Paul, whose winged words to-day challenge the world’s attention and call men “to know the love of Christ that passeth knowledge” and to “be filled unto all the fulness of God.”

Commentaries on Paul’s Epistles are not here given. The general works on the apostolic period are likewise omitted. Articles in the cyclopædias are passed by also. Only the most important books and articles on Paul are mentioned. Various aspects of the subject are kept in mind.

Addis, “Christianity and the Roman Empire” (1902).
Albrecht, “Paulus der Apostel Jesu Christi” (1903).
Alexander, “The Christianity of St. Paul.”
Anonymous, “The Fifth Gospel. The Pauline Interpretation of Christ” (1906).
Aquelhon, “L’homme psychique d’après Saint Paul” (1898).
Arnold, “St. Paul and Protestantism” (1897).
Askwith, “Destination and Date of Galatians.”
Bacon, “The Story of Paul” (1904).
Baethge, “Die paulinischen Reden.”
Baldensperger, “Die messianisch-apokalyptischen Hoffnungen des Judenthums” (1903).
Ball, “St. Paul and the Roman Law” (1901).
Baring-Gould, “A Study of St. Paul” (1897).
Baur, “The Apostle Paul” (1875).
Beyschlag, “Die paulinische Theodicee.”
Bird, “Paul of Tarsus.”
Blair, “The Apostolic Gospel” (1896).
Bousset, “Der Apostel Paulus.”
Breitenstein, “Jesus et Paul” (1908).
Bruce, “St. Paul’s Conception of Christianity” (1898).
Brückner, “Die Entstehung der paulinischen Christologie” (1903).
Brückner, “Der Apostel als Zeuge wider das Christusbild der Evangelien” (Prot. Monatsch., 1906, S. 352–364).
Brückner, “Zum Thema Jesus und Paulus” (Neut. Wiss., 1906, S. 112 ff.).
Burton, “Chronology of St. Paul’s Epistles.”
Burton, “Records and Letters of the Apostolic Age” (1900).
Buss, “Roman Law and History in the New Testament” (1901).
Campbell, “Paul the Mystic” (1907).
Chadwick, “The Social Teaching of St. Paul” (1906).
Chadwick, “The Pastoral Teaching of St. Paul” (1907).
Chase, “Credibility of Acts” (1902).
Chrysostom, “Homiliæ in laudem S. Pauli,” Opera, Vol. II, ed. Montf.
Clarke, “The Ideas of the Apostle Paul” (1884).
Clemen, “Die Chronologie der paulinischen Briefe” (1893).
Clemen, “Einheitlichkeit der paulinischen Briefe” (1894).
Clemen, “Paulus” (1904).
Cone, “Paul the Man, the Missionary” (1898).
Conybeare and Howson, “Life and Epistles of Paul” (1894). Scribner’s edition.
Corbitt, “St. Paul” (1903).
Curtius, “Paulus in Athen.”
Dähne, “Entwicklung des paulinischen Lehrbegriffs” (1851).
Dalmer, “Die Erwählung Israels nach Paulus.”
Davidson, “The Stoic Creed” (1907).
Deissmann, “Bible Studies” (1901).
Deissmann, “New Light on the New Testament” (1907).
Deissmann, “Licht vom Osten” (1908).
Deissmann, “Die neutestamentliche Formel in Christo” (1892).
Dees, “Ein Beitrag zur Frage nach dem Hellenismus bei Paulus 2 Cor. 5:1–10” (1904).
Dickie, “The Culture of the Spiritual Life. Studies in the Teaching of Paul” (1905).
Dick, “Der schriftstellerische Plural bei Paulus” (1900).
Dickson, “St. Paul’s Use of the Terms Flesh and Spirit” (1883).
Dill, “Roman Society from Nero to M. Aurelius” (1904).
Dobschütz, “Probleme des apostolischen Zeitalters” (1904).
Doellinger, “The Gentile and the Jew in the Courts of the Temple of Christ” (1862).
Drescher, “Das Leben Jesu bei Paulus” (1900).
Drummond, “Relation of the Apostolic Age to the Teaching of Christ.” (1900).
Du Bose, “The Gospel According to St. Paul” (1907).
Dykes, “The Gospel According to St. Paul.”
Eadie, “Paul the Preacher.”
Erbes, “Die Todestage der Apostel Paulus und Petrus” (1899).
Ernesti, “Ethik des Apostels Paulus.”
Everett, “The Gospel of Paul” (1893).
Everling, “Die paulinsche Angelologie und Dämonologie” (1888).
Fairbairn, “Philosophy of the Christian Religion” (1904).
Farrar, “Darkness and Dawn” (1893).
Farrar, “Early Days of Christianity” (1882).
Farrar, “Life and Work of St. Paul” (1879).
Feine, “Das gesetzesfreie Evangelium des Paulus” (1899).
Feine, “Jesus Christus und Paulus” (1902).
Feine, “Paulus als Theologe” (1906). Tr. 1908.
Ferrero, “Greatness and Decline of Rome” (1908).
Findlay, “Epistles of the Apostle Paul.”
Forbes, “Footsteps of St. Paul in Rome” (1899).
Fouard, “St. Paul and His Mission.”
Fouard, “Last Years of St. Paul.”
Fraedlaender, “Der Antichrist in den vorchristlichen jüdischen Quellen” (1901).
Fraedlaender, “Synagoge und Kirche in ihren Anfängen” (1908).
Garvie, Articles in Expositor (March, 1908–) on Teaching of Paul.
Gibson, “Sources of St. Paul’s Teaching” (Expositor, 1882, pp. 33–45).
Gilbert, “First Interpreters of Jesus” (1901).
Gilbert, “Student’s Lift of Paul” (1899).
Gloag, “Introduction to the Pauline Epistles.”
Gloatz, “Zur Vergleichung der Lehre des Paul mit der Jesu” (Theol. Stud. und Krit., 1895, S. 777–800).
Gloel, “Der heilige Geist in d. Heilsverk. des Paulus.”
Godet, “Studies in the Epistles.”
Goguel, “L’Apôtre Paul et Jésus Christ” (1904).
Goodwin, “A Harmony of the Life of the Apostle Paul” (1895).
Grafe, “Die paulinischen Lehre von Gesetz” (1893).
Greene, “The Manysided Paul.”
Gunkel, “Zum religionsgeschichtlichen Verst. des N. T.” (1903).
Hanson, “St. Paul and the Primitive Church.”
Harnack, “Luke the Physician” (1907).
Harnack, “Die Apostelgeschichte” (1908).
Hausrath, “Der Apostel Paulus.”
Heim, “Paulus” (1905).
Heinrici, “Jesus und Paulus” (Neues sächsisches Kirchenblatt, 1895, No. 47–51).
Heitmüller, “Im Namen Jesu.”
Heitmüller, “Taufe und Abendmahl bei Paulus” (1903).
Hicks, “St. Paul and Hellenism.”
Hilgenfeld, “Jesus und Paulus” (Zeitschrift für wiss. Theol., 1894, S. 481–541).
Hollmann, “Urchristenthum in Korinth” (1903).
Holsten, “Zum Evangelium des Paulus und des Petrus” (1868).
Holsten, “Das Evangelium des Paulus” (1898).
H. Holtzmann, “Jesus und Paulus” (Protest. Monatsch., 1900, S. 463–468).
Hönnicke, “Chronologic des Lebens Pauli” (1904).
Hort, “Judaistic Christianity” (1892).
Howson, “Character of St. Paul.”
Howson, “Companions of St. Paul.”
Howson, “Metaphors of St. Paul.”
Hurant, “Paul, a-t-il connu le Christ historique?”
Irons, “Christianity as Taught by St. Paul.”
Iverach, “St. Paul; His Life and Times.”
James, “Genuineness and Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles” (1906).
Jevons, “Hellenism and Christianity” (Harvard Theol. Review, April, 1908).
Johnson, “Was Paul the Founder of Christianity?” (Princeton Theol, Rev., 1907).
Jülicher, “Paulus and Jesus” (1907).
Jülicher, “Neue Linien in der Kritik der evangelischen Ueberlieferung” (1906).
Juncker, “Das Christusbild des Paulus” (1906).
Juncker, “Die Ethik des Apostels Paulus” (1904).
Kabisch, “Die Eschatologie des Paulus.”
Kaftan, “Jesus und Paulus” (1906).
Kellermann, “Kritische Beiträge zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Christentums” (1906).
Kennedy, “St. Paul’s Conceptions of Last Things” (1904).
Knowling, “Witness of the Epistles” (1892).
Knowling, “Testimony of St. Paul to Christ” (1905).
Köhler, “Zum Verständnis des Apostels Paulus” (1906).
Kölbing, “Die geistige Einwirkung der Person auf Paulus” (1906).
Krenkel, “Beiträge zur Aufhellung der Geschichte und der Briefe des Apostels Paulus.”
Krenkel, “Paulus der Apostel der Heiden.”
Kühl, “Zur paulinischen Theodicee.”
Lewin, “Life and Epistles of St. Paul” (1875).
Lichtenbahn, “Die Offenbarung in Gnosticismus” (1907).
Lightfoot, “Biblical Essays” (1893).
Lipsius, “Die paulinische Rechtfertigungslehre.”
Lock, “St. Paul the Master Builder” (1905).
Lüdemann, “Die Anthropologie des Apostels Paulus.”
Luthardt, “Der Apostel Paulus, ein Lebensbild.”
Lyttleton, “Observations on Saul’s Conversion” (1774).
Maggs, “The Spiritual Experience of St. Paul.”
Mahaffy, “The Silver Age of the Greek World” (1906).
Mansel, “The Gnostic Heresies” (1875).
Marshall, “Did Paul Use a Semitic Gospel?” (Expositor, July, 1890).
Matheson, “The Spiritual Development of Paul” (1891).
Matheson, “The Historical Christ of Paul” (Expositor, Series II, Vols. I and II, 1881).
Means, “St. Paul and the Ante-Nicene Church” (1903).
Menegoz, “La peché et a rédemption d’après St. Paul” (1903).
Menken, “Blicke in das Leben des Apostels Paulus.”
A. Meyer, “Wer hat das Christentum begründet, Jesus oder Paulus?” (1907).
Meyer, “Paul.”
M. Meyer, “Der Apostel Paulus als armer Sünder” (1903).
Moffatt, “The Historical New Testament” (1901).
Moffatt, “Recent Literature on Jesus and Paul” (Review of Theology and Philosophy, July, 1908).
Moffatt, “Jesus and Paul” (The Biblical World, Sept., 1908).
Monod, “Five Sermons on the Apostle Paul.”
Monteil, “Essai sur la Christologie de Saint Paul” (1906).
Moske, “Die Bekehrung des heiligen Paulus” (1907).
Müller, “Das persönliche Christenthum der paulinischen Gemeinden.”
Nägeli, “Der Wortschatz des Apostels Paulus” (1905).
Noesgen, “Die apostolische Verkündigung und die Geschichte Jesu” (Neue Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theol., 1895, S. 46–94).
Noesgen, “Paulus der Apostel der Heiden” (1908).
Nonnemann, “Jesus der Christus. Jesus und Paulus” (1907).
Oehler, “Paulus und Jesus, der Erlöste und der Erlöser” (1908).
Oertel, “Paulus in der Apostelgeschichte.”
Opitz, “Das System des Paulus.”
Paley, “Horæ Paulinæ” (1851).
Paret, “Paulus et Jesus” (Jahrbücher f. d. Theol., 1858).
Paret, “Das Zeugnis des Apostels Paulus über die ihm gewordene Christuserscheinung” (Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theol., 1859, S. 239 ff.).
Paterson, “The Pauline Theology” (1903).
Pfleiderer, “Paulinismus” (1873).
Pfleiderer, “Influence of the Apostle Paul on the Development of Christianity” (1885).
Pratt, “Life of Paul in Scripture Language.”
Ramsay, “The Church in the Roman Empire” (1893).
Ramsay, “Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia” (1895).
Ramsay, “St. Paul the Traveller,” (1896).
Ramsay, “Pauline and Other Studies” (1906).
Ramsay, “Cities of Paul” (1908).
Ramsay, “Luke the Physician and Other Studies” (1908).
Renan, “St. Paul” (1869).
Resch, “Paulinismus and die Logia Jesu” (1904).
Resch, “Die Verwandtschaft zwischen den paulinischen Schriften and den syn. Evangelien” (Zeitschr. f. k. Wiss., 1888, S. 279–295).
Resch, “Paulinische-lucanische Evangelienparallelen” (1893).
Resker, “St. Paul’s Illustrations” (1908).
Ritschl, “Justification and Reconciliation.”
Robertson, “Student’s Chronological N. T.” (1904).
Röhricht, “Das menschliche Personenleben and der christliche Glaube nach Paulus” (1902).
Roos, “Die Briefe des Apostels Paulus and die Reden des Herrn Jesu” (1887).
Round, “Date of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians” (1907).
Ruegg, “Der Apostel Paulus und sein Zeugnis von Jesus Christus (1906).
Sabatier, “The Apostle Paul” (1891).
Schaeder, “Das Evangelium Jesu und das Evangelium von Jesus” (1906).
Schenkel, “Christus-bild der Apostel.”
Schettler, “Die paulinische Formel ‘Durch Christus’ ” (1907).
H. Schmidt, “Der paulinische Christus” (1867).
Schmidt, “Die paulinische Christologie” (1870).
Schmoller, “Die geschichtliche Person Jesu nach den paulinischen Schriften” (Theol. Stud. n. Krit., 1894, S. 656–705).
Schrader, “Der Apostel Paulus.”
Scott, “The Gospel According to St. Paul” (Expositor, 1900, II, pp. 202–210).
Seeböck, “S. Paulus der Heidenmissionar.”
Selden, “In the Time of Paul” (1900).
Selwyn, “St. Luke the Prophet” (1901).
Shakespeare, “St. Paul in Athens” (1878).
Shaw, “The Pauline Epistles” (1903).
Simon, “Die Psychologie des Apostels Paulus” (1897).
J. Smith, “Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul.”
Sokolowski, “Geist und Leben bei Paulus” (1903).
Somerville, “St. Paul’s Conception of Christ” (1897).
Speer, “The Man Paul” (1900).
Spitta, “Die zweimalige römische Gefangenschaft des Paulus” (Urchristenthum, Bd. I.).
Stalker, “Life of St. Paul” (1889).
Steinmetz, “Die 2te römische Gefangenschaft des Apostels Paulus” (1897).
Steubing, “Die paulinischen Begriff ‘Christusleiden’ ” (1905).
Stevens, “The Pauline Theology” (1894).
Straatmann, “Paulus de Ap. van Jesus Christus.”
Sturm, “Der Apostel Paulus und die evangelische Ueberlieferung” (Programme No.117 in 1897 and Programme No. 118 in 1900).
Taylor, “Paul the Missionary” (1882).
Thackeray, “Relation of St. Paul to Contemporary Jewish Thought” (1900).
Tholuck, “Life and Writings of St. Paul” (tr.).
Tigert, “Christianity of Christ and of the Apostles” (1905).
Titius, “Die Abhängigkeit des Paulus von der Verkündigung Jesu” (S. 8–18 in “Der Paulinismus unter dem Gesichtspunkt der Seligkeit,” 1900).
Uhlhorn, “Conflict of Christianity with Judaism.”
Underhill, “Divine Legation of St. Paul” (1889).
Usteri, “Entwicklung des paulinischen Lehrbegriffs” (1851).
Van Manen, “Paulus.”
Voelter, “Paulus und seine Briefe” (1905).
Volkmar, “Paulus von Damascus bis zum Galaterbr.”
Vollmer, “Die alttestamentliche Citate bei Paulus.”
Von Soden, “Das Interesse des apostolischen Zeitalters an der evangelischen Geschichte” (Theol. Abhandl., 1892, S. 111–169).
Walker, “The Gift of Tongues” (1906).
Walther, “Pauli Evangelium Jesu Evangelium (1908).
Weinel, “Paulus” (1904, tr. 1906).
J. Weiss, “Beiträge zur paulinischen Rhetorik.”
J. Weiss, “Die christliche Freiheit nach der Verkündigung des Apostels Paulus” (1902).
Wendt, “Die Lehre des Paulus verglichen mit der Lehre Jeau” (Zeitschr. f. Theol. und Kirche, 1894, S. 1–78).
Wernle, “Paulus als Heidenmissionär.”
Wernle, “Der Christus and die Sünde bei Paulus” (1897).
Whateley, “Difficulties in the Epistles of Paul.”
Whyte, “The Apostle Paul” (1903).
Wilkinson, “Epic of Saul” (1891).
Wilkinson, “Epic of Paul” (1897).
Wrede, “Paulus” (1905).
Wright, “Cities of Paul” (1907).
Wustmann, “Jesus und Paulus” (1907).
Wynne, “Fragmentary Records of Jesus of Nazareth” (1887).
Zahn, “Das Gesetz Gottes nach der Lehre des Apostels Paulus.”

Acropolis 159
Adeney 196
Agahus 217
Agnostic 2
Agrippa (See Herod).
Alexander 307
Ananias 47, 52 ff.
Ananias, High Priest 241
Andronicus 207
Apocalypses 28
Apollos 5, 175, 180, 187, 300
Apphia 279
Aquelhon 75
Aquila 163, 175, 180, 207, 306
Archippus 279
Aristarchus 175, 185, 255, 274, 279
Arminius 3
Arnold, Matthew 70
Athenodorus 272
Augustine 3, 45

Bacon 46, 196
Baring-Gould 58, 90
Barnabas 95–140
Baur 44, 91
Beyschlag 191
Bousset 87
Bruce 49
Brückner 87
Bruders 60
Burrows 301

Calvin 3
Campbell 92
Canon of Muratori 293
Cerinthus 282
Cerinthian (Gnosticism) 283
Chadwick 168
Chloe 175
Claudia 307
Claudius 163
Claudius Lysias 228 ff., 239 f.
Clement 3
Clement (of Rome) 292
Colossian Heresy 281
Conybeare and Howson, 116, 146, 241, 256, 261, 291
Crescens 306
Crispus 165

Deissmann 92, 167, 319
Demas 279, 307
Demetrius 184
Denney 319
Docetic (Gnosticism) 283
D’Ooge 159
Drescher 75

Ebionites 300
Ellicott 291
Elymas 107
Epænetus 207
Epaphras 279
Epaphroditus 276
Epicurean 2
Epicurus 158 f.
Epimenides 301
Erastus 175, 198, 208, 303
Essenism 281
Eubulus 307
Evans 301

Feine 88
Felix 240 f.
Festus 10, 246 ff.
Findley 49, 125, 153, 170, 176, 191, 192, 198, 211, 288, 289, 295
Fraedlaender 71, 73

Gaius 175, 185, 208
Galatia (South and North), 143 ff., 201 ff.
Gallio 165
Gamaliel 14 ff., 26, 27
Gardner 51
Gnostic 2
Gnosticism 281 ff., 297
Goguel 88

Harnack 72, 87
Harris, J. Rendel 301
Hastings 11, etc.
Hausrath 196
Hellenism 22, 32, 71 ff.
Hellenist 7
Herod Agrippa I 10, 105
Herod Agrippa II 249 ff.
Hicks 72
Hilgenfeld 69, 71
Hillel 16
Holsten 65
Holtzmann 74
Hort 207, 209, 274, 281

James 81, 105, 128 ff., 135
Jerusalem Conference 141 ff.
Jesus 39 ff.
John 128 ff., 179
Judaizers 2 f., 5, 121 ff., 220 ff.
Judas 53 f., 132 f.
Jülicher 76, 87
Junias 207

Kaftan 87
Kennedy, H. A 26, 67, 72
Kennedy. J. H 196
Klöpper 196
Knowling 88
Köhler 67, 71, 73, 74
Kölbing 88
König 196

Lightfoot 272, 281
Linus 307
Lock 1
Loman 65
Lowell 50
Lucina 316
Luke 4, 10, 112, 145 ff., 198, 215 ff., 255, 264, 274, 279, 316
Lydia 148

Manzel 72
Marcion 285
Mark 109 ff., 140 f., 279, 310
Mary 207
Matheson 90
McGiffert 196
Means 69, 70, 75, 76
Meyer, A 88
Milligan 167
Miracles 42 f.
Mnason 219
Moffatt 88
Mommsen 267
Monteil 88
Moulton 183, 236

Neander 60
Nero 6, 271 ff., 293 f., 315 ff.
Nymphas 279

Onesimus 279
Onesiphorus 306
Origen 3

Paul: Appreciation of, 1; Ancestry, 6; Family, 7; Date of Birth, 9; Boyhood, 12; At the Feet of Gamaliel, 15; Elements in Education, 21; First Taste of Blood, 25; Leadership in the Persecution, 29; Connection with the Sanhedrin, 33; Fight to a Finish, 35; Challenge by Jesus, 39; Quandary of Saul, 45; Personal Issue with Jesus, 46; Surrender of Saul, 48; Temporary Darkness, 51; Appeal to Ananias, 52; Call to a World Mission, 55; Immediate Response, 60; Apologetic Value of His Conversion, 62; His Jewish Inheritance, 67; His Greek Inheritance, 71; Original Christian Inheritance, 74; Years in Arabia, 76; In Damascus Again, 78; In Jerusalem with Cephas, 79; Back in Tarsus, 83; Interpreter of Jesus, 85; Emergency at Antioch, 93; Gentile Church at Antioch, 95; Insight of Barnabas, 97; The Man and the Hour, 98; Year at Antioch, 99; Mission to Jerusalem, 100; Call to a World Campaign, 103; Acquiescence of the Antioch Church, 104; Leadership of Barnabas, 105; Cyprus, Leadership of Paul, 106; Perga, Mark’s Desertion, 109; Antioch in Pisidia, Specimen of Paul’s Preaching, 110; Iconium, Division Among the Gentiles; Lystra, the Fickle Populace, 117; Derbe, End of Tour, 119; Strengthening the Churches, 119; Issue Raised by Judaizers, 121; Appeal to Jerusalem, 124; First Public Meeting in Jerusalem, 127; Paul’s Stand for Gentile Liberty, 128; Victory over the Judaizers, 130; Reception of the Victory at Antioch, 134; Peter’s Temporary Defection and Rebuke by Paul at Antioch, 134; Controversy with Judaizers Reopened, 137; Break with Barnabas, 139; New Campaign with Silas, 142; Lystra, Finding of Timothy; Lives up to Jerusalem Agreement, 142; Hedged in by the Spirit of Jesus, 143; Macedonian Call and Luke, 145; Philippi, Lydia and the Jailer, 148; Thessalonica, Excitable Populace, 153; Athens, Idolatry and Philosophy, 157; Corinth, Sudden Wealth and False Culture, 162; First Epistles, I and II Thessalonians, 166; Return to Antioch, 171; Statesmanship of Paul, 173; Leaves Antioch Last Time, 177; Three Years in Ephesus, 178; Trouble at Corinth, I Corinthians, 186; Suspense in Troas, 194; Rebound in Macedonia, II Corinthians, 194; Triumph in Corinth, 200; Appeal to Deserting Galatians, 200; His Gospel, Epistle to Romans, 205; Gathering Storm at Jerusalem, 213; Charge of the Judaizers, 220; Plan for Answering the Charge, 223; Jews from Asia Upset the Plan, 225; Defence to the Mob, 228; Before the Sanhedrin, 231; Rescue from the Conspirators, 237; Before Felix, 240; Before Festus, 246; Before Agrippa, 249; Going to Rome at Last, 254; Reception at Rome, 266; Effort to Win the Jews, 268; Delay of Paul’s Trial, 269; Love of the Philippians for Paul, Epistle to the Philippians, 272; Specimen of Paul s Work in Rome. Epistle to Philemon, 278; New Peril of Gnosticism, Epistle to the Colossians, 279; General Appeal to the Churches of Asia, Epistle to Ephesians, 285; Outcome of the Trial, 290; Visit to the East, 292; Visit to Spain, 292; Burning of Rome, 293; Return East for Last Time, 294; Concern for Timothy, 1 Timothy, 295; Cause in Crete, Epistle to Titus, 299; Arrest, 303; New Charges, 304; Close Confinement, 305; Desertion of Friends, 306; First Stage of the Trial, 307; Loneliness, 309; Last Message to Timothy, 311; Estimate of His Own Career. 312; Longs for Jesus, 313; Condemnation, 315; Death, 316; Backward Look, 317.
Pelagius 3
Peter 3, 81, 93, 94, 128 ff., 134, 187
Pfleiderer 66, 68, 71
Pharisaism 26, 32, 67 ff., 121 ff.
Pharisee 1, 7, 17 ff.
Philemon 278 ff.
Philip 217
Philo 13
Phœbe 175
Plummer 196
Poppæa 291
Priscilla 163, 175, 180, 207, 306
Pudens 307

Ramsay 1, 2, 5, 8, 10, 12, 72, 73, 74, 87, 111, 112, 116, 119, 141, 143, 145, 158, 159, 164, 165, 177, 189, 192, 193, 198, 202, 214, 216, 235, 246, 255, 256, 257, 258, 259, 260, 262, 263, 266. 267, 272
Renan 65
Resch 88
Robertson 170, 183
Robinson 286
Ruegg 88

Sabatier 70, 71, 76, 137, 170, 176, 177, 188, 190, 197, 206, 209
Sadducee 234
Sanday 66, 67, 75, 88, 89
Sanhedrin 33 ff., 231 ff.
Saul (See Paul).
Schæder 88
Schmiedel 44, 196
Secundus 175
Seneca 73, 271 ff.
Sergius Paulus 108
Shakespeare, Charles 159
Shammai 13
Silas 132 f., 141 ff.
Smith 256, 257, 258, 259, 260, 262
Sopater 175
Sosthenes 165, 175
Souter 193
Spitta 291
Stade 75
Stalker, 39, 62, 109, 162, 287, 290, 293, 306
Steck 65
Stephen 18, 23f., 26, 27, 29, 30
Stoic 2
Stoicism 271, 272
Strauss 65
Sturm 76

Tacitus 241
Tertius 208
Tertullus 241
Thackeray 60
Timothy 9, 118, 141 f., 175, 179, 183, 198, 295 ff., 309 ff.
Titus 75
Titus, 129, 175, 193 ff., 198, 299 ff., 306
Trophimus 75, 225, 295
Turner 10
Tychicus 175, 280, 306
Tyrannus 175

Van Manen 3

Walker, Dawson 196
Warfield 88
Weizsäcker 65
Wellhausen 87
Westcott 286
Wisdom of Solomon 72
Wrede 87

Zenas 300
Zeno 158 f.


3:17 28
23 199
28:19 f 122
28:20 40

6:3 11

1:1–4 112, 255
3:1 f 10
24:34 41

1:46 12
4:6 149
10:16 122
11:16 219
14–17 216
18:8 29
18:31 34

1:1 236
2 91
2–5 75
4 100
4:36 f 100
5 100
5:34 17
5:35–39 17
5:41 30
6 217
6:1–6 30
6:9 24
6:11 17, 221
6:13 226
6:14 27
7:9 10
7:48 27
7:52 27
7:57 17
8 217, 281
8:1 28
8:3 31
9 76
9:1 32, 35, 36
9:4 39, 42, 45, 46
9:4–6 42
9:5 47
9:6 47
9:7 42
9:8 51
9:12 54
9:15 f 53, 56
9:16 57
9:17 54, 55
9:20 61
9:21 60
9:22 61
9:23–25 78
9:26 80
9:27 81
9:31 62
10:28 134
11:2 95, 122
11:2 f 94
11:3 121, 134, 136
11:12 94
11:18 94
11:19 94
11:20 94
11:22 96
11:24 96
11:29 101, 214
11:30 101
12:1 101
12:17 102
12:25 102
13 91
13:1 103
13:2 f 60
13:3 104
13:4 105
13:5 107
13:15 112
13:17–22 113
13:23 113
13:24 f 113
13:26 113
13:27–29 113
13:30 f 112
13:30–37 113
13:32 113
13:33 112
13:34 113
13:38 114
13:39 114
13:44 153
13:45 115
13:46 115
13:48 f 116
13:51 116
14:1 117
14:2–4 117
14:6 117
14:15–17 114, 118
14:18 118
14:21 119
14:22 119
14:26 119
14:27 120
15 78, 199
15:1 123
15:2 125
15:3 125, 127
15:4 127
15:5 122, 127
15:7 130
15:7–11 131
15:10 f 137, 222
15:12 131
15:14–21 131
15:19 131
15:22 58, 132
15:24 132
15:25 132
15:28 132, 133
15:30–35 134
15:38 109
15:39 140
15:40 141
16:2 142
16:4 142, 224
16:5 143
16:6 110, 111, 143
16:7 60
16:9 146
16:10 147
16:12 149
16:17 149
16:18 150
16:24 305
16:37 152
17:1–10 156
17:2 f 153
17:7 154, 304
17:11 156
17:13 156
17:14 156
17:16 157, 158
17:17 158
17:18 f 2
17:19 f 160
17:21 159
17:22–31 114, 161
17:28 22
17:33 161
18:2 163
18:3 163
18:5 157, 164
18:6 164
18:7 164
18:9 f 165
18:11 165
18:18 165, 171, 224
18:19 f 172
18:21 172
18:22 172
18:23 110, 177
18:27 180
18:28 5, 180
19:1 178, 201
19:5 181
19:8 178
19:9 225
19:10 178, 179, 279
19:11–20 182
19:13–15 66
19:14 107
19:21 f 178, 183, 184, 209, 213
19:22 173, 184, 193, 208
19:26 178
19:27 185
19:33 225, 307
20:1 186
20:2 200, 228
20:4 f 214
20:6 147
20:6 205
20:7 215
20:9–12 215
20:16 216
20:17–35 179, 216
20:19 19
20:22 f 216
20:25 216
20:29 f 279, 297
20:31 178
21:1 256
21:2 217
21:4 217
21:8 217
21:11 217
21:12–14 217
21:17 220
21:20 222, 223
21:20 ff 135
21:21 221
21:22 223
21:24 223, 312
21:25 224
21:26 171, 224
21:27 225
21:28 226
21:29 214, 225
21:32 227
21:36 227
21:37 228
21:39 12
21:40 f 228
22 77
22:2 21
22:3 7, 16, 17
22:3–5 63, 229
22:3–21 115
22:5 18, 229
22:6–16 229
22:7–10 42
22:8 47
22:9 42
22:10 47, 48
22:11 51
22:12 54
22:13 55
22:16 55
22:17–21 229
22:21 59, 83, 230
22:24 231
22:27 231
22:28 8
23:1 232
23:3 233
23:5 233
23:6 7, 68, 233, 234
23:9 f 235
23:11 237
23:12 238
23:15 238
23:16 9
23:18 238
23:29 239
23:30 240
24:1 241
24:6 242
24:9 242
24:10 243
24:10–21 115
24:11 243
24:16 15
24:18 244
24:22 246
24:24 245
24:25 245
24:26 245
24:27 240
25 77
25:2 247
25:7 247
25:8 248
25:9 248
25:10 249
25:11 220
25:12 249
25:16 250
25:18 f 248
25:19 250
25:23 251
25:25 248
25:26 251
26:2 f 251
26:2–23 115
26:4 15
26:4 f 252
26:5 15
26:6–11 252
26:9 25
26:10 11, 25, 31, 32, 33, 34
26:11 31
26:12 36
26:12–18 252
26:13 42
26:14–18 42, 46, 49, 56
26:16 57
26:16–18 47
26:18 57
26:19 48
26:19–23 252
26:20 60, 63, 83
26:28 253
26:32 253
27 264
27:1 245
27:1–5 256
27:2 256
27:3 255
27:5 256
27:6–8 256
27:9 257
27:10 259
27:11 259
27:12 259
27:14 259
27:16 267
27:18 261
27:21 261
27:24 261
27:27 261
27:30 263
27:34 263
27:38 256
27:42 264
28:1 f 264
28:11 265
28:14 266
28:16 266
28:17 268
28:17–28 115
28:28 269
28:30 267
28:30 f 269

1:1 210
1:10 205
1:12 f 206
1:13 209
1:14 206
1:15 210
1:16 211
1:17 211
2 211
2:16 210
3:21–31 211
3:1–20 211
3:20 222
4 212
5 212
6 212
7 277
7:1–6 212
7:7 17
7:7–25 212
7:9 26
8 212
8:15 74
9–11 212, 269, 287
9:1–5 228
9:2 f 6, 174
9:4 f 7
9:31 68
11:24 14
12–15 212
13:1–7 299
14 and 15 133, 209
14:17 124
14:4–8 223
15 and 16 211
15:14 f 211
15:15 f 206
15:18 211
15:19 200
15:20 200, 206
15:22–25 205
15:22–31 202
15:23 209
15:24–28 184
15:25 205
16:26 213
15:26–28 205
15:27 214
15:28 174
15:31 213
16 206
16:1 206
16:4 207
16:5 207
16:6 207
16:14 208
16:21 208
16:22 208
16:23 208
16:25 210

1–4 199
1:11 188
1:12 ff 186
1:14 208
1:20 162
1:23 f 162
2:2 161
2:4 170
3:4 f 186
3:11 89
3:22 187, 188
4:11 60
4:17 183, 191
4:18 183
4:18–21 188
4:21 188
5:4 f 195
5:7 184, 224
5:9 167
5:11 188
6:9 192
7:1 189
7:8 33
8–10 133, 210
9:1 42, 59
9:2 59
9:6 140
9:7–18 275
9:16 59
9:20–22 175
9:24 f 13
10:4 13
10:14–22 133
11:23–25 89
12:1 189
15:33 22
15:1 189
15:3–8 89
15:5–7 41
15:8 41, 52
15:9 25
15:32 175, 184
16:1 213
16:1 f 173
16:3 f 213
16:5 f 183
16:8 178, 183, 184
16:10 188, 191
16:12 187
16:17 189
16:19 171

1–7 198, 199
1–9 196
1:1 184, 198
1:3–2:13 191, 197
1:9 192, 315
1:15 188
1:16 183
1:17 ff 183
1:23 189
2:1 189
2:1–4 192, 195
2:5–11 192, 196
2:5–16 192
2:6 196
2:7 192
3:9 195, 197
2:12 194
2:13 195
2:14 194
2:14–7:4 195
2:14–7:16 197
3:1 137, 180, 197
3:6 17
4 and 5 198
4:3 f 4
4:6 48, 50
4:7 4
4:8–11 194
5:1–10 277
5:8 315
5:12 59
5:13 176
5:14 176
5:16 3
5:17 56
5:18 59
5:20 59
7:5 195
7:8 195
7:11 196
7:12 195
7:13 196, 199
8 and 9 198
8:16–24 193, 198
8:18 193
8:21 213
9:2 173
10–13 196, 198, 199
10:5 314
10:10 4, 5
11:5 60
11:7 f 276
11:13 f 175
11:22 6, 197
11:23–33 57
11:25 6
11:26 174
11:29 173
11:32 36, 79
12:2 11, 85
12:2–5 65
12:4 4
12:7 5
12:9 185
12:10 176
12:11 2, 187, 197
12:12 60, 199
12:13 f 276
12:14 188
12:17 213
12:20 200
12:21 189
13:1 188, 200
13:2 199
13:10 199, 200

1 and 2 58, 66, 205
1:1 59
1:2 110
1:6 202
1:6–10 210
1:7 203
1:8 204
1:11 59
1:12 60
1:13 29, 35
1:14 1, 19
1:15 15
1:16 59, 60, 76, 77
1:17 f 77, 80
1:18 11, 81
1:19 101
1:21 78, 141
1:21–24 84
1:23 78
2 78, 199
2:1 102, 299
2:1 f 102
2:2 105, 125, 128
2:3 199
2:4 129
2:5 121
2:6 f 55
2:6–10 58, 128
2:9 57, 91, 129, 280
2:9–13 213
2:10 214
2:11 91
2:11–21 58, 134
2:12 131
2:14 136
2:15–21 136
2:20 92, 314
3 and 4 205
3:1 203
3:13 37
3:16 13
3:17 77
4:9 20, 202, 204
4:10 223
4:11 203
4:13 145, 147, 201
4:14 f 145
4:15 5, 203
4:19 204
4:20 5
4:21 20
4:24 13, 77
5 and 6 205
5:1 204
5:3 f 203
5:13 204
6:11 204
6:13 203
6:14 315
6:17 204, 315

1–3 287
1:1 285
1:3–14 287
1:15–23 287
1:22 f 285
2 287
2:4–6 58
2:12 286
2:15 286
2:16 286
2:19 286
2:21 286
3:8 58, 92, 93
3:14–21 287
4:21 91
5:22–33 288
6:10–20 288
6:19 f 289
6:20 272
6:21 274

1:1 274, 277
1:5 276
1:10 19
1:12–14 275
1:13 267
1:15 6
1:15 f 209, 275
1:21 92, 277
1:21–24 277
1:23 277, 313
1:25 274, 290
2 274
2:1–11 277
2:19–21 274
2:24 276
2:25 274
2:30 276
3 274
3:1–16 277
3:4–9 56
3:5 6
3:8 19
3:10 67
3:12 51
3:13 277
3:18 275
4:2 277
4:3 277, 292
4:5 277
4:8 f 277
4:11–13 276
4:15 275
4:16 164, 276
4:17 276
4:18 276
4:19 276
4:22 267, 272, 275

1:6 289
1:7 279
1:9 179
1:15–17 283
1:18 284
1:19 283
1:20 283
1:22 283
2:2 f 284
2:6 283
2:9 283
2:13–16 284
2:18 284
2:19 284
2:20–23 284
3:1 314
3:1–17 288
3:11 285
4:3 289
4:7–9 274
4:8 f 280
4:10 141, 274, 280
4:10–14 274
4:10–17 285
4:12 279
4:13 279
4:14 147, 274, 280
4:15 167, 279
4:16 179, 280, 285
4:18 274, 281

1:7 f 156
2:3 f 155
2:5 155
2:15 f 154
3:1 157
3:6 164
3:8 164
4:11 155
5:2 155

2:2 155, 167, 170
2:3–10 23
2:8 170
2:9 170
2:13 170
2:14 170
2:15 170
3:4 170
3:6 170
3:10 155, 170
3:12 170
3:14 170
3:17 167
1:2 142, 200
1:3 179, 295, 296
1:4 6, 297
1:12–17 298
1:13 25, 29
1:16 26
1:18 298
2:1 305
2:1 f 290, 299
2:7 60
4:7 f 14
4:12 14, 297, 298
4:13 298
4:14 f 298
6:11 298
6:20 298

1:3 9
1:5 9, 311
1:6 311
1:7 311
1:10 313
1:11 60, 313
1:12 61, 313
1:16 305, 306
2 311
2:15 311
2:19 312
3:10 f 312
3:11 147
4:2 312
4:5 296, 312
4:6 f 303, 313
4:8 314
4:9 309
4:10 300, 306, 307
4:11 141, 309, 310
4:12 295, 297, 306, 309
4:13 2, 295, 309
4:14 307
4:15 308
4:16 308
4:17 308, 309
4:18 314
4:20 295, 303
4:21 307, 309

1:4 300
1:5 296, 300
1:10 300, 301
1:12 22
1:13 301
1:14 301
1:16 301
3:1 301, 305
3:8 301
3:9 f 301
3:12 300
3:13 300
3:15 300

1 274, 279
2 279
9 278
10 274, 279
11 279
12 278
16 278
17 279
18 f 278
21 279
22 274, 290
23 f 279
24 141

13:23 310, 315
13:24 266

2:2 132
4:16 294
5:14 f 265

1:1 286
1:1 f 175
2:4 286
5:13 141, 280

1:1 131
3:15 91

1:11 179
Robertson, A. T. (1909). Epochs in the life of Paul: a study of development in Paul’s career (S. 121–327). London: Hodder and Stoughton.


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