International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
a-pos'-l ([apostolos], literally, "one sent forth," an envoy, missionary): For the meaning of this name as it meets us in the New Testament, reference is sometimes made to classical and Jewish parallels. In earlier classical Greek there was a distinction between an aggelos or messenger and an apostolos, who was not a mere messenger, but a delegate or representative of the person who sent him. In the later Judaism, again, apostoloi were envoys sent out by the patriarchate in Jerusalem to collect the sacred tribute from the Jews of the Dispersion. It seems unlikely, however, that either of these uses bears upon the Christian origin of a term which, in any case, came to have its own distinctive Christian meaning. To understand the word as we find it in the New Testament it is not necessary to go beyond the New Testament itself. To discover the source of its Christian use it is sufficient to refer to its immediate and natural signification. The term used by Jesus, it must be remembered, would be Aramaic, not Greek, and apostolos would be its literal equivalent.
1. The Twelve:
In the New Testament history we first hear of the term as applied by Jesus to the Twelve in connection with that evangelical mission among the villages on which He dispatched them at an early stage of His public ministry (Matthew 10:1 Mark 3:14; Mark 6:30 Luke 6:13; Luke 9:1). From a comparison of the Synoptics it would seem that the name as thus used was not a general designation for the Twelve, but had reference only to this particular mission, which was typical and prophetic, however, of the wider mission that was to come (compare Hort, Christian Ecclesia, 23-29). Luke, it is true, uses the word as a title for the Twelve apart from reference to the mission among the villages. But the explanation probably is, as Dr. Hort suggests, that since the Third Gospel and the Book of Acts formed two sections of what was really one work, the author in the Gospel employs the term in that wider sense which it came to have after the Ascension.
When we pass to Acts, "apostles" has become an ordinary name for the Eleven (Acts 1:2, 26), and after the election of Matthias in place of Judas, for the Twelve (2:37, 42, 43, etc.). But even so it does not denote a particular and restricted office, but rather that function of a world-wide missionary service to which the Twelve were especially called. In His last charge, just before He ascended, Jesus had commissioned them to go forth into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Matthew 28:19, 20 Mark 16:15). He had said that they were to be His witnesses not only in Jerusalem and Judea, but in Samaria (contrast Matthew 10:5), and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8). They were apostles, therefore, qua missionaries-not merely because they were the Twelve, but because they were now sent forth by their Lord on a universal mission for the propagation of the gospel.
The very fact that the name "apostle" means what it does would point to the impossibility of confining it within the limits of the Twelve. (The "twelve apostles" of Revelation 21:14 is evidently symbolic; compare in 7:3 the restriction of God's sealed servants to the twelve tribes.) Yet there might be a tendency at first to do so, and to restrict it as a badge of honor and privilege peculiar to that inner circle (compare Acts 1:25). If any such tendency existed, Paul effectually broke it down by vindicating for himself the right to the name. His claim appears in his assumption of the apostolic title in the opening words of most of his epistles. And when his right to it was challenged, he defended that right with passion, and especially on these grounds: that he had seen Jesus, and so was qualified to bear witness to His resurrection (1 Corinthians 9:1; compare Acts 22:6); that he had received a call to the work of an apostle (Romans 1:1 1 Corinthians 1:1, etc.; Galatians 2:7; compare Acts 13:2; Acts 22:21); but, above all, that he could point to the signs and seals of his apostleship furnished by his missionary labors and their fruits (1 Corinthians 9:2 2 Corinthians 12:12 Galatians 2:8). It was by this last ground of appeal that Paul convinced the original apostles of the justice of his claim. He had not been a disciple of Jesus in the days of His flesh; his claim to have seen the risen Lord and from Him to have received a personal commission was not one that could be proved to others; but there could be no possibility of doubt as to the seals of his apostleship. It was abundantly clear that "he that wrought for Peter unto the apostleship of the circumcision wrought for (Paul) also unto the Gentiles" (Galatians 2:8). And so perceiving the grace that was given unto him, Peter and John, together with James of Jerusalem, recognized Paul as apostle to the Gentiles and gave him the right hand of fellowship (Galatians 2:9).
3. The Wider Circle:
It is sometimes said by those who recognize that there were other apostles besides the Twelve and Paul that the latter (to whom some, on the ground of 1 Corinthians 15:7 Galatians 1:19, would add James the Lord's brother) were the apostles par excellence, while the other apostles mentioned in the New Testament were apostles in some inferior sense. It is hardly possible, however, to make out such a distinction on the ground of New Testament usage. There were great differences, no doubt, among the apostles of the primitive church, as there were among the Twelve themselves-differences due to natural talents, to personal acquirements and experience, to spiritual gifts. Paul was greater than Barnabas or Silvanus, just as Peter and John were greater than Thaddaeus or Simon the Cananean.
But Thaddaeus and Simon were disciples of Jesus in the very same sense as Peter and John; and the Twelve and Paul were not more truly apostles than others who are mentioned in the New Testament. If apostleship denotes missionary service, and if its reality, as Paul suggests, is to be measured by its seals, it would be difficult to maintain that Matthias was an apostle par excellence, while Barnabas was not. Paul sets Barnabas as an apostle side by side with himself (1 Corinthians 9:5 Galatians 2:9; compare Acts 13:2; Acts 14:4, 14); he speaks of Andronicus and Junias as "of note among the apostles" (Romans 16:7); he appears to include Apollos along with himself among the apostles who are made a spectacle unto the world and to angels and to men (1 Corinthians 4:6, 9); the natural inference from a comparison of 1 Thessalonians 1:1 with 2:6 is that he describes Silvanus and Timothy as "apostles of Christ"; to the Philippians he mentions Epaphroditus as "your apostle" (Philippians 2:25 the Revised Version, margin), and to the Corinthians commends certain unknown brethren as "the apostles of the churches" and "the glory of Christ" (2 Corinthians 8:23 the Revised Version, margin). And the very fact that he found it necessary to denounce certain persons as "false apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into apostles of Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:13) shows that there was no thought in the primitive church of restricting the apostleship to a body of 12 or 13 men. "Had the number been definitely restricted, the claims of these interlopers would have been self-condemned" (Lightfoot, Galatians, 97).
4. Apostles in Didache:
When we come to the Didache, which probably lies beyond the boundary-line of New Testament history, we find the name "apostles" applied to a whole class of nameless missionaries-men who settled in no church, but moved about from place to place as messengers of the gospel (chapter 11). This makes it difficult to accept the view, urged by Lightfoot (op. cit., 98) and Gwatkin (HDB, I, 126) on the ground Of Luke 24:48 Acts 1:8, 22 1 Corinthians 9:1, that to have seen the Lord was always the primary qualification of an apostle-a view on the strength of which they reject the apostleship of Apollos and Timothy, as being late converts to Christianity who lived far from the scenes of our Lord's ministry. Gwatkin remarks that we have no reason to suppose that this condition was ever waived unless we throw forward the Didache into the 2nd century. But it seems very unlikely that even toward the end of the 1st century there would be a whole class of men, not only still alive, but still braving in the exercise of their missionary functions all the hardships of a wandering and homeless existence (compare Didache 11:4-6), who were yet able to bear the personal testimony of eye-witnesses to the ministry and resurrection of Jesus. In Luke 24:48 and Acts 18:22 it is the chosen company of the Twelve who are in view. In 1 Corinthians 9:1 Paul is meeting his Judaizing opponents on their own ground, and answering their insistence upon personal intercourse with Jesus by a claim to have seen the Lord. But apart from these passages there is no evidence that the apostles of the early church were necessarily men who had known Jesus in the flesh or had been witnesses of His resurrection-much less that this was the primary qualification on which their apostleship was made to rest.
5. The Apostleship:
We are led then to the conclusion that the true differentia of the New Testament apostleship lay in the missionary calling implied in the name, and that all whose lives were devoted to this vocation, and who could prove by the issues of their labors that God's Spirit was working through them for the conversion of Jew or Gentile, were regarded and described as apostles. The apostolate was not a limited circle of officials holding a well-defined position of authority in the church, but a large class of men who discharged one-and that the highest-of the functions of the prophetic ministry (1 Corinthians 12:28 Ephesians 4:11). It was on the foundation of the apostles and prophets that the Christian church was built, with Jesus Christ Himself as the chief corner-stone (Ephesians 2:20). The distinction between the two classes was that while the prophet was God's spokesman to the believing church (1 Corinthians 14:4, 22, 25, 30, 31), the apostle was His envoy to the unbelieving world (Galatians 2:7, 9).
The call of the apostle to his task might come in a variety of ways. The Twelve were called personally by Jesus to an apostolic task at the commencement of His earthly ministry (Matthew 10:1 parallel), and after His resurrection this call was repeated, made permanent, and given a universal scope (Matthew 28:19, 20 Acts 1:8). Matthias was called first by the voice of the general body of the brethren and thereafter by the decision of the lot (Acts 1:15, 23, 26). Paul's call came to him in a heavenly vision (Acts 26:17-19); and though this call was subsequently ratified by the church at Antioch, which sent him forth at the bidding of the Holy Ghost (Acts 13:1), he firmly maintained that he was an apostle not from men neither through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead (Galatians 1:1). Barnabas was sent forth (exapostello is the verb used) by the church at Jerusalem (Acts 11:22) and later, along with Paul, by the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1); and soon after this we find the two men described as apostles (Acts 14:4). It was the mission on which they were sent that explains the title. And when this particular mission was completed and they returned to Antioch to rehearse before the assembled church "all things that God had done with them, and that he had opened a door of faith unto the Gentiles" (Acts 14:27), they thereby justified their claim to be the apostles not only of the church, but of the Holy Spirit.
The authority of the apostolate was of a spiritual, ethical and personal kind. It was not official, and in the nature of the case could not be transmitted to others. Paul claimed for himself complete independence of the opinion of the whole body of the earlier apostles (Galatians 2:6, 11), and in seeking to influence his own converts endeavored by manifestation of the truth to commend himself to every man's conscience in the sight of God (2 Corinthians 4:2). There is no sign that the apostles collectively exercised a separate and autocratic authority. When the question of the observance of the Mosaic ritual by GentileChristians arose at Antioch and was referred to Jerusalem, it was "the apostles and elders" who met to discuss it (Acts 15:2, 6, 22), and the letter returned to Antioch was written in the name of "the apostles and the elders, brethren" (Acts 15:23).
In founding a church Paul naturally appointed the first local officials (Acts 14:23), but he does not seem to have interfered with the ordinary administration of affairs in the churches he had planted. In those cases in which he was appealed to or was compelled by some grave scandal to interpose, he rested an authoritative command on some express word of the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:10), and when he had no such word to rest on, was careful to distinguish his own judgment and counsel from a Divine commandment (1 Corinthians 12:25, 30). His appeals in the latter case are grounded upon fundamental principles of morality common to heathen and Christian alike (1 Corinthians 5:1), or are addressed to the spiritual judgment (1 Corinthians 10:15), or are reinforced by the weight of a personal influence gained by unselfish service and by the fact that he was the spiritual father of his converts as having begotten them in Christ Jesus through the gospel (1 Corinthians 4:15 f). It may be added here that the expressly missionary character of the apostleship seems to debar James, the Lord's brother, from any claim to the title. James was a prophet and teacher, but not an apostle. As the head of the church at Jerusalem, he exercised a ministry of a purely local nature. The passages on which it has been sought to establish his right to be included in the apostolate do not furnish any satisfactory evidence. In 1 Corinthians 15:7 James is contrasted with "all the apostles" rather than included in their number (compare 1 Corinthians 9:5). And in Galatians 1:19 the meaning may quite well be that with the exception of Peter, none of the apostles was seen by Paul in Jerusalem, but only James the Lord's brother (compare the Revised Version, margin).
Lightfoot, Galatians, 92-101; Hort, Christian Ecclesia, Lect II; Weizsacker, The Apostolic Age, II, 291-99; Lindsay, The Church and the Ministry, 73-90.
J. C. Lambert
JOHN, THE APOSTLE
Sources of the Life of John:
The sources for the life of the apostle John are of various kinds, and of different degrees of trustworthiness. There are the references in the Synoptic Gospels, which may be used simply and easily without any preliminary critical inquiry into their worth as sources; for these Gospels contain the common tradition of the early church, and for the present purpose may be accepted as trustworthy. Further, there are the statements in Acts and in Galatians, which we may use without discussion as a source for the life of John. There is next the universal tradition of the 2nd century, which we may use, if we can show that the John of Ephesus, who bulks so largely in the Christian literature of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, is identical with the son of Zebedee. Further, on the supposition that the son of Zebedee is the author of the Johannine writings of the New Testament, there is another source of unequaled value for the estimate of the life and character of the son of Zebedee in these writings. Finally, there is the considerable volume of tradition which gathered around the name of John of Ephesus, of which, picturesque and interesting though the traditions be, only sparing use can be made.
I. Witness of the New Testament.
Addressing ourselves first to the Synoptic Gospels, to Acts and to Galatians, we ask, What, from these sources, can we know of the apostle John? A glance only need be taken at the Johannine writings, more fully discussed elsewhere in relation to their author.
1. The Synoptic Gospels:
That John was one of the two sons of Zebedee, that he became one of the disciples of Jesus, that at His call he forsook all and followed Jesus, and was thereafter continuously with Jesus to the end, are facts familiar to every reader of the Synoptic Gospels. The call was given to John and to his brother James at the Sea of Galilee, while in a boat with their father Zebedee, "mending their nets" (Matthew 4:21, 22, and parallel passages). "Come ye after me," said Jesus, "and I will make you to become fishers of men" (Mark 1:17; on the earlier call in Judea, John 1:35, see below). That Zebedee was a man of considerable wealth may be inferred from the fact that he had "hired servants" with him (Mark 1:20), and that his wife was one of those women who ministered of their substance to Jesus and His disciples (Matthew 27:55, 56). Comparison of the latter passage with Mark 15:40, 41 identifies the wife of Zebedee, John's mother, with Salome, and it seems a fair inference from John 19:25, though all do not accept it, that Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Salome, the wife of Zebedee, were sisters. On this view, James and John were cousins of Jesus, and were also related to the family of John the Baptist. The name of John appears in all the lists of the apostles given in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 10:2 and parallels). While his name appears rarely in a position by itself, he is still one of the most prominent of the disciples. With Peter and James he is present at the raising of the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:37 Luke 8:51). These three were also present at the transfiguration (Matthew 17 Mark 9 Luke 9). They were nearest to the Lord at the agony of Gethsemane. In all these cases nothing characteristic of John is to be noted. He is simply present as one of the three, and therefore one of the most intimate of the disciples. But there is something characteristic in an incident recorded by Luke (9:54), in which James and John are represented as wishing to call down fire on a Sam village, which had refused them hospitality. From this can be inferred something of the earnestness, zeal, and enthusiasm of the brothers, and of their high sense of what was due to their Master. Peter, James, John, and Andrew are the four who asked Jesus about the prophecies He had uttered: "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when these things are all about to be accomplished?" (Mark 13:4). Then there is the request of their mother as to the place she desired for her sons in the coming kingdom (Mark 10:35). To Peter and John was entrusted the task of preparation for the keeping of the Passover (Luke 22:8). Once John stands alone, and asks what we may consider a characteristic question: "Teacher, we saw one casting out demons in thy name; and we forbade him, because he followed not us" (Mark 9:38 Luke 9:49). From these notices we see that John was in the front rank of the disciples, and we see also that he was so far conscious of the position he held, and of the intimate connection he had with the Master. We note further that John was a young man of fiery zeal, and of a tendency toward intolerance and exclusiveness. The zeal and the intolerance are in evidence in the desire to call down fire upon the Samaritan village, and the tendency toward exclusiveness is manifested in the request of his mother as to the place her sons were to occupy in the kingdom. They desire to have the highest positions. These tendencies were not encouraged by Jesus. They were rebuked by Him once and again, but the tendencies reveal the men. In harmony with these notices of character and temperament is the name given to the brothers by Jesus, "Boanerges," "Sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17), which, whatever else may be meant by it, means strength, unexpectedness, and zeal approaching to methods of violence.
2. Acts and Galatians:
John is found in company with Peter in the opening scenes in Acts. He is with Peter while the man at the gate was healed (3:1;). He is with Peter on the mission to Samaria (8:14;). He is with Peter and James, the Lord's brother, at the interview with Paul recorded in Galatians 2, and the three are described by Paul as the pillar apostles (2:9). This interview is of importance because it proves that John had survived his brother James, whose death is recorded in Acts 12; at all events that John and James were not killed by the Jews at the same time, as some now contend that they were. This contention is considered below.
3. The Johannine Writings: Gospel and Revelation:
Much is to be learned of the apostle John from the Fourth Gospel, assuming the Gospel to have been written by him. We learn from it that he was a disciple of John the Baptist (1:35), that he was one of the first six disciples called by Jesus in His early ministry in Judea (1:37-51), and that he was present at all the scenes which he describes in the Gospel. We find later that he had a home in Jerusalem, and was acquainted with many there. To that home he took Mary, the mother of Jesus, whom the dying Saviour entrusted to his care (19:26, 27). Much more also we learn of him and of his history, for the Gospel is a spiritual biography, a record of the growth of faith on the part of the writer, and of the way in which his eyes were opened to see the glory of the Lord, until faith seems to have become vision. He was in the inner circle of the disciples, indeed, nearest of all to Jesus, "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (13:23; 19:26; 20:02; 21:7, 20), and, because of that love, became the apostle of love (see, further, JOHN, GOSPEL OF; JOHN, THE EPISTLES OF; JOHANNINE THEOLOGY).
The Book of Revelation, likewise traditionally ascribed to John, bears important witness to the apostle's banishment in later life to the isle of Patmos in the Aegean (1:9). There he received the visions recorded in the book. The banishment probably took place in the reign of Domitian (see REVELATION), with whose practice it was entirely in consonance (on the severity of such exile, compare Sir W.M. Ramsay, Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia, chapter viii). The testimony is of high importance in its bearing on the disputed question of John's residence in Asia, a point now to be discussed.
II. Alleged Early Martyrdom of John: Criticism of Evidence.
1. Recent Denial of John's Residence in Ephesus:
The consentient testimony of the church of the 2nd century is that the later years of John were spent at Ephesus, where he wrote his Gospel, and gathered round him many disciples (see the evidence drawn out in detail in Godet, Commentary on Gospel of John, 43;; compare also Lightfoot, "The School of Ephesus," in Essays on the Work Entitled "Supernatural Religion"). Before, however, we can use the traditions connected with this residence at Ephesus, it is needful to inquire into the statement alleged to be made by Papias that John, the son of Zebedee, was killed by the Jews at an early date. It is plain, that, if this statement is correct, the apostle could not be the author of the Johannine writings in the New Testament, universally dated near the end of the 1st century.
2. Grounds of Denial:
The evidence for the statement that John was early killed by the Jews is thus summed up by Dr. Moffatt: "The evidence for the early martyrdom of John the son of Zebedee is, in fact, threefold: (a) a prophecy of Jesus preserved in Mark 10:39 = Matthew 20:23, (b) the witness of Papias, and (c) the calendars of the church" (Intro to Lit. of New Testament, 602). Our limits do not admit of an exhaustive examination of this so-called evidence, but, happily, an exhaustive examination is not needed.
(a) The first head proceeds on an assumption which is not warranted, namely, that a prophecy of Jesus would not be allowed to stand, if it were not evidently fulfilled. In the present instance, a literal fulfillment of the prophecy ("The cup that I drink ye shall drink," etc.) is out of the question, for there is no hint that either James or John was crucified. We must therefore fall back on the primary meaning of martyrdom, and recognize a fulfillment of the prophecy in the sufferings John endured and the testimony he bore for the Master's sake (thus Origen, etc.).
(b) Dr. Moffatt lays great stress on what he calls the testimony of Papias. But the alleged testimony of Papias is not found in any early authority, and then occurs in writers not of any great value from the point of view of critical investigation. It is found in a passage of Georgius Hamartolus (9th century), and is held to be corroborated by a fragment of an epitome (7th or 8th century) of the Chronicle of Philip Sidetes (5th century), a thoroughly untrustworthy writer. The passage from Georgius may be seen in convenient form in Lightfoot's Apostolic Fathers, 513-19. It tells that John survived to the time of Nerva, quotes a saying of Papias that he was killed by the Jews, states that this was in fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus above referred to, and goes on to say, "So the learned Origen affirms in his interpretation of Matthew's Gospel, that John was martyred, declaring that he had learnt the last from the successors of the apostles" (Lightfoot, op. cit., 531). Fortunately, the statement of Origen can be tested, and it by no means, as Moffatt admits (op. cit., 604), bears out the meaning attached to it. Origen is of opinion that the prophecy of Jesus was sufficiently fulfilled by the fact of John's banishment to Patmos and his sufferings there. This, according to him, is what tradition taught and what the prophecy meant. From the whole statement of Georgius, which expressly declares that John survived till the time of Nerva, nothing can be inferred in support of the so-called quotation from Papias. It is to be remembered that the writings of Papias were known to Irenaeus and to Eusebius, and it is inconceivable that, if such a statement was to be found in these, they would have ignored it, and have given currency to a statement contradictory to it. No stress, therefore, can be laid on the alleged quotation. We do not know its context, nor is there anything in the literature of the first 3 centuries corroborative of it. In the citation in the epitome of Philip, Papias is made to speak of "John the divine" (ho theologos). This title is not applied to John till the close of the 4th century.
(c) As regards the 3rd line of evidence instanced by Dr. Moffatt-church calendars, in which James and John are commemorated together as martyrs-it is even more worthless than the other two. On the nature and origin of these martyrologies, Dr. J. Drummond may be quoted: "They were constructed in process of time out of local calendars. At some period in the 2nd half of the 5th century, a martyrology was formed by welding together a number of provincial calendars, Roman, Italian, Spanish, and Gallic, into what was in effect a general martyrology of Western Europe. At Nicomedia, about the year 350, a similar eastern martyrology was formed out of the local calendars, and this was translated with curtailments into Syriac at Edessa about the year 400. It is a copy of this, made in 411, which is now in the British Museum" (Inquiry into Character and Authorship of the Fourth Gospel, 232). If this is a true account of the rise and origin of martyrologies we need not be surprised that Sir W. M. Ramsay speaks as follows: "That James and John, who were not slain at the same time, should be commemorated together, is the flimsiest conceivable evidence that John was killed early in Jerusalem. The bracketing together of the memory of apostles who had some historical connection in life, but none in death, must be regarded as the worst side, historically speaking, of the martyrologies" (The First Christian Century, 49, note).
III. The Ephesian Traditions.
1. John the Apostle, and John the Presbyter:
Thus the early traditions of the churches are available for the life of John the son of Zebedee. But there still remain many blank spaces in that life. After the reference to the pillar apostles in Galatians, silence falls on the life of John, and we know nothing of his life and activity until we read of his banishment to Patmos, and meet with those references to the old man at Ephesus, which occur in the Christian literature of the 2nd century. One point of interest relates to the (genuine) quotation from Papias, preserved by Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 39), regarding a "Presbyter John," a disciple of the Lord, who was one of his living authorities. Were there two Johns at Ephesus? Or was there only one? Or, if there was only one, was he John the Evangelist, or only John the Presbyter? Here there is every possible variety of opinion. Many hold that there were two, and many that there was only one. Many who hold that there was only one, hold that the one was John the son of Zebedee; others hold, with equal assurance, that he was a distinct person. Obviously, it is impossible to discuss the question adequately here. After due consideration, we lean to the conclusion that there was only one John at Ephesus, and he the son of Zebedee. For the proof of this, impossible within our limits, we refer to the learned argument of John Chapman, in his work John the Presbyter and the Fourth Gospel (1911).
2. Characteristic Traditions:
Into the traditions which cluster round John in Ephesus it is not necessary to enter in detail (compare Godet, op. cit., 57;). According to the tradition universally accepted in the church, John survived till the time of Trajan (98 A.D.). Striking and characteristic things are told of him in harmony with the touches we find in the Synoptic Gospels. The story of his rushing forth from the bath when Cerinthus, the heretic, entered it (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., iii.3, 4) recalls the characteristics of him whom Jesus called "son of thunder." The same tone of exclusiveness, modified by larger experience, is found in the 1st Epistle, which so frequently and so decisively discriminates between those who believe in Jesus and those who do not.
IV. The Character of John.
The general character of this great apostle is already sufficiently apparent. While we recall the illustrative facts found in the Synoptics, that James and John were the two who wished to call down fire from heaven on the inhospitable village, that John was one of those who desired one of the chief places in the kingdom, that he it was who forbade the man to cast out demons in the name of Jesus because he followed not with them, we do not forget that on each of these occasions he was corrected and rebuked by the Master, and he was not the kind of man who could not profit by the rebuke of Jesus. So that vehemence of disposition was held in check, and, while still in existence, was under control, and allowed to have vent only on occasions when it was permissible, and even necessary. So in his writings, and in the reflections in the Gospel, we note the vehemence displayed, but now directed only against those who refused to believe in, and to acknowledge, Jesus.
"A quiet and thoughtful temperament is by no means inconsistent with a certain vehemence, when, on occasions, the pent-up fire flashes forth; indeed, the very violence of feeling may help to foster an habitual quietude, lest word or deed should betray too deep an emotion. Then it is not without significance that, in the three narratives which are cited from the Gospels to prove the overbearing temper of John, we are expressly told that Jesus corrected him. Are we to suppose that these rebukes made no impression? Is it not more likely that they sank deep into his heart, and that the agony of beholding his Master's crucifixion made them ineffaceable? Then, if not before, began that long development which changed the youthful son of thunder into the aged apostle of love" (Drummond, op. cit, 410, 411).
But love itself has its side of vehemence, and the intensity of love toward a person or a cause may be measured by the intensity of aversion and of hatred toward their contradictories. There are many reflections in the Gospel and in the Epistles which display this energy of hatred toward the work of the devil, and toward those dispositions which are under the influence of the father of lies. We simply notice these, for they prove that the fervent youth who was devoted to his Master carried with him to the end the same disposition which was characteristic of him from the beginning.
In addition to books mentioned in article, see the list of works appended to article on JOHN, GOSPEL OF.
PAUL, THE APOSTLE
1. The Acts
2. The Thirteen Epistles
(1) Pauline Authorship
(2) Lightfoot's Grouping
(a) First Group (1 and 2 Thessalonians)
(b) Second Group (1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, (c) Third Group-(Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians)
(d) Fourth Group (1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy)
(3) Paul's Conception of His Epistles
(4) Development in Paul's Epistles
II. MODERN THEORIES ABOUT PAUL
1. Criticism Not Infallible
2. The Tubingen Theory
3. Protest against Baur's View
4. Successors to Baur
5. Appeal to Comparative Religion
6. The Eschatological Interpretation
III. CHRONOLOGY OF PAUL'S CAREER
2. Crucial Points
(1) The Death of Stephen
(2) The Flight from Damascus
(3) The Death of Herod Agrippa I
(4) The First Mission Tour
(5) The First Visit to Corinth
(6) Paul at Troas according to Acts 20:6 f
(7) Festus Succeeding Felix
1. The City of Tarsus
2. Roman Citizenship
4. The Mystery-Religions
6. Personal Characteristics
(1) Personal Appearance
(2) Natural Endowments
(3) Supernatural Gifts
(3) Effect on Paul
5. The First Great Mission Campaign
6. The Conflict at Jerusalem
7. The Second Mission Campaign
8. The Third Mission Campaign
9. Five Years a Prisoner
10. Further Travels
11. Last Imprisonment and Death
1. The Acts:
For discussion of the historical value of the Acts of the Apostles see the article on that subject. It is only necessary to say here that the view of Sir W.M. Ramsay in general is accepted as to the trustworthiness of Luke, whose authorship of the Acts is accepted and proved by Harnack (Die Apostelgeschichte, 1908; The Acts of the Apostles, translation by Wilkinson, 1909; Neue Untersuch. zur Ap., 1911; The Date of the Acts and of the Synoptic Gospels, translations by Wilkinson, 1911). The proof need not be given again. The same hand appears in the "we" sections and the rest of the book. Even Moffatt (Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 311) admits the Lukan authorship though dating it in 100 A.D. instead of 60-62 A.D., against Harnack. The Acts is written independently of the Epistles of Paul, whether early or late, and supplements in a wonderful way the incidental references in the epistles, though not without lacunae and difficulties.
2. The Thirteen Epistles:
(1) Pauline Authorship.
See the articles on each epistle for detailed criticism. It is here assumed that the Epistle to the Hebrews was not written by Paul, though Pauline in point of view. One cannot stop to prove every statement in an article like this, else a large book would be needed. Criticism is not an infallible science. One can turn easily from the Hatch-Van Manen article on "Paul" in Encyclopedia Biblica (1902) to the Maclean article on "Paul the Apostle" in the 1-vol HDB (1909). Van-Manen's part of the one denies all the thirteen, while Maclean says: "We shall, in what follows, without hesitation use the thirteen epistles as genuine." It is certain that Paul wrote more epistles, or "letters," as Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, 225) insists on calling all of Paul's epistles. Certainly Philera is a mere "letter," but it is difficult to say as much about Romans. Deissmann (St. Paul, 22) admits that portions of Romans are like "an epistolary letter." At any rate, when Moffatt (Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 64-82) carefully justifies the Pauline authorship of both 1 and 2 Thessalonians, it is clear that the case against them cannot be very strong, especially as Moffatt stands out against the genuineness of Ephesians (op. cit., 393) and the Pastoral Epistles (p. 414).
Bartlet, who was once at a loss to know what to do with the Pastorals on theory that Paul was not released from the Roman imprisonment (Apostolic Age, 1899, 200), is now quite willing to face the new facts set forth by Ramsay (Expos, VII, viii-ix, VIII, i), even if it means the admission of a second Roman imprisonment, a view that Bartlet had opposed. He now pleads for "the fresh approach from the side of experience, by men who are in touch with the realities of human nature in all its variety, as well as at home in the historical background of society in the early Roman empire, that has renovated the study of them and taken it out of the old ruts of criticism in which it has moved for the most part in modern times" (Expos, January, 1913, 29). Here Bartlet, again, now eloquently presents the view of common-sense criticism as seen by the practical missionary better than by a life "spent amid the academic associations of a professor's chair," though he pauses to note as an exception Professor P. Gardner's The Religious Experience of Paul (1912). We may quote Bartlet once more (Expos, January, 1913, 30): "In the recovery of a true point of view a vital element has been the newer conception of Paul himself and so of Paulinism. Paul the doctrinaire theologian, or at least the prophet of a one-sided gospel repeated with fanatical uniformity of emphasis under all conditions, has largely given place to Paul the missionary, full indeed of inspired insight on the basis of a unique experience, but also of practical instinct, the offspring of sympathy with living men of other types of training. When the Pastorals are viewed anew in the light of this idea, half their difficulties disappear." One need not adopt Deissmann's rather artificial insistence on "letters" rather than "epistles," and his undue depreciation of Paul's intellectual caliber and culture as being more like Amos than Origen (St. Paul, 1912, 6), in order to see the force of this contention for proper understanding of the social environment of Paul. Against Van Manen's "historical Paul" who wrote nothing, he places "the historic Paul" who possibly wrote all thirteen. "There is really no trouble except with the letters to Timothy and Titus, and even there the difficulties are perhaps not quite so great as many of our specialists assume" (St. Paul, 15). See PASTORAL EPISTLES. Deissmann denies sharply that Paul was an "obscurantist" who corrupted the gospel of Jesus, "the dregs of doctrinaire study of Paul, mostly in the tired brains-of gifted amateurs" (p. 4). But A. Schweitzer boldly proclaims that he alone has the key to Paul and Jesus. It is the "exclusively Jewish eschatological" (Paul and His Interpreters, 1912, ix), conception of Christ's gospel that furnishes Schweitzer's spring-board (The Quest of the Historical Jesus). Thus he will be able to explain "the Hellenization of the gospel" as mediated through Paul. To do that Schweitzer plows his weary way from Grotius to Holtzmann, and finds that they have all wandered into the wilderness. He is positive that his eschatological discovery will rescue Paul and some of his epistles from the ruin wrought by Steck and Van Manen to whose arguments modern criticism has nothing solid to offer, and the meager negative crumbs offered by Schweitzer ought to be thankfully received (ibid, 249).
(2) Lightfoot's Grouping.
(Compare Biblical Essays, 224.) There is doubt as to the position of Galatians. Some advocates of the South-Galatian theory make it the very earliest of Paul's Epistles, even before the Jerusalem Conference in Acts 15. So Eramet, Commentary on Galatians (1912), ix, who notes (Preface) that his commentary is the first to take this position. But the North Galatian view still has the weight of authority in spite of Ramsay's powerful advocacy in his various books (see Historical Commentary on Galatians), as is shown by Moffatt, Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 90;. Hence, Lightfoot's grouping is still the best to use.
(a) First Group (1 and 2 Thessalonians):
1 and 2 Thessalonians, from Corinth, 52-53 A.D. Harnack's view that 2 Thessalonians is addressed to a Jewish Christian church in Thessalonica while 1 Thessalonians is addressed to a Gentilechurch is accepted by Lake (Earlier Epistles of Paul, 1911, 83;) but Frame (ICC, 1912, 54) sees no need for this hypothesis. Milligan is clear that 1 Thessalonians precedes 2 Thessalonians (Commentary, 1908, xxxix) and is the earliest of Paul's Epistles (p. xxxvi). The accent on eschatology is in accord with the position of the early disciples in the opening chapters of Acts. They belong to Paul's stay in Corinth recorded in Acts 18.
(b) Second Group (1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans):
1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, 55-58 A.D. This is the great doctrinal group, the four chief epistles of Baur. They turn about the Judaizing controversy which furnishes the occasion for the expansion of the doctrine of justification by faith in opposition to the legalistic contention of the Judaizing Christians from Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-3 Galatians 2:1-10). The dates of these epistles are not perfectly clear. 1 Corinthians was written shortly before the close of Paul's 3 years' stay at Ephesus (Acts 20:31 1 Corinthians 16:8 Acts 20:1 f). 2 Corinthians was written a few months later while he was in Macedonia (2:13; 7:5, 13; 8:16-24). Romans was written from Corinth (16:23; Acts 20:2) and sent by Phoebe of Cenchrea (Romans 16:1). The integrity of Romans is challenged by some who deny in particular that chapter 16 belongs to the epistle Moffatt (Intro, 134-38) gives an able, but unconvincing, presentation of the arguments for the addition of the chapter by a later hand. Deissmann (St. Paul, 19) calls Romans 16 "a little letter" addressed to the Christians at Ephesus. Von. Soden (History of Early Christian Literature, 78) easily justifies the presence of Romans 16 in the Epistle to the Romans: "These greetings, moreover, were certainly intended by Paul to create bonds of fellowship between the Pauline Christians and the Roman community, and to show that he had not written to them quite exclusively in his own name." A common-sense explanation of Paul's personal ties in Rome is the fact that as the center of the world's life the city drew people thither from all parts of the earth. So, today many a man has friends in New York or London who has never been to either city. A much more serious controversy rages as to the integrity of 2 Corinthians. Semler took 2 Corinthians 10-13 to be a separate and later ep., because of its difference in tone from 2 Corinthians 1-9, but Hausrath put it earlier than chapters 1-9, and made it the letter referred to in 2:4. He has been followed by many scholars like Schmiedel, Cone, McGiffert, Bacon, Moffatt, Kennedy, Rendall, Peake, Plummer. Von Soden (History of Early Christian Literature, 50) accepts the partition-theory of 2 Corinthians heartily: "It may be shown with the highest degree of probability that this letter has come down to us in 2 Corinthians 10:1-13:10." But the unity of the epistle on theory that the change in tone is a climax to the disobedient element of the church is still maintained with force and justice by Klopper, Zahn, Bachmann, Denhey, Bernard, A. Robertson, Weiss, Menzies. The place of the writing of Galatians turns on its date. Lightfoot (in loc.) argues for Corinth, since it was probably written shortly before Romans. But Moffatt (Introduction, 102) holds tentatively to Ephesus, soon after Paul's arrival there from Galatia. So he gives the order: Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans. In so much doubt it is well to follow Lightfoot's logical argument. Galatians leads naturally to Romans, the one hot and passionate, the other calm and contemplative, but both on the same general theme.
(c) Third group (Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians):
Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians. Date 61-63, unless Paul reached Rome several years earlier. This matter depends on the date of the coming of Festus to succeed Felix (Acts 24:27). It was once thought to be 60 A.D. beyond any doubt, but the whole matter is now uncertain. See "Chronology," III, 2, (2), below. At any rate these four epistles were written during the first Roman imprisonment, assuming that he was set free.
But it must be noted that quite a respectable group of scholars hold that one or all of these epistles were written from Caesarea (Schultz, Thiersch, Meyer, Hausrath, Sabatier, Reuss, Weiss, Haupt, Spitta, McPherson, Hicks). But the arguments are more specious than convincing. See Hort, Romans and Ephesians, 101-10. There is a growing opinion that Philemon, Colossians and Ephesians were written from Ephesus during a possible imprisonment in Paul's stay of 3 years there. So Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, 229; Paul, 16); Lisco (Vincula Sanctorum, 1900); M. Albertz (Theol. Studien und Kritiken, 1910, 551;); B. W. Bacon (Journal of Biblical Lit., 1910, 181;). The strongest argument for this position is that Paul apparently did not know personally the readers of Ephesians (1:15); compare also Colossians 1:4. But this objection need not apply if the so-called Ephesian Epistle was a circular letter and if Paul did not visit Colosse and Laodicea during his 3 years at Ephesus. The theory is more attractive at first than on reflection. It throws this group before Romans-a difficult view to concede.
But even so, the order of these epistles is by no means certain. It is clear that Philemon, Colossians and Ephesians were sent together. Tychicus was the bearer of Colossians (4:7) and Ephesians (6:21). Onesimus carried the letter to Philemon (1:10, 13) and was also the companion of Tychicus to Colosse (Colossians 4:9). So these three epistles went together from Rome. It is commonly assumed that Philippians was the last of the group of four, and hence later than the other three, because Paul is balancing life and death (Philippians 1:21) and is expecting to be set free (Philippians 1:25), but he has the same expectation of freedom when he writes Philemon (1:22). The absence of Luke (Philippians 2:20) has to be explained on either hypothesis. Moffatt (Introduction, 159) is dogmatic, "as Philippians was certainly the last letter that he wrote," ruling out of court Ephesians, not to say the later Pastoral Epistles. But this conclusion gives Moffatt trouble with the Epistle to the Laodiceans (Colossians 4:16) which he can only call "the enigmatic reference" and cannot follow Rutherford (St. Paul's Epistles to Colosse and Laodicea, 1908) in identifying the Laodicean Epistle with Ephesians, as indeed Marcion seems to have done. But the notion that Ephesians was a circular letter designed for more than one church (hence, without personalities) still holds the bulk of modern opinion.
Von Soden (History of Early Christian Literature, 294) is as dogmatic as Wrede or Van Manen: "All which has hitherto been said concerning this epistle, its form, its content, its ideas, its presuppositions, absolutely excludes the possibility of a Pauline authorship." He admits "verbal echoes of Pauline epistles"
Lightfoot puts Philippians before the other three because of its doctrinal affinity with the second group in chapter 3 as a reminiscence, and because of its anticipation of the Christological controversy with incipient Gnosticism in chapter 2. This great discussion is central in Colossians and Ephesians. At any rate, we have thus a consistent and coherent interpretation of the group. Philemon, though purely personal, is wondrously vital as a sociological document. Paul is in this group at the height of his powers in his grasp of the Person of Christ.
(d) Fourth Group (1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy):
1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy. The Pastoral Epistles are still hotly disputed, but there is a growing willingness in Britain and Germany to make a place for them in Paul's life. Von Soden bluntly says: "It is impossible that these epistles as they stand can have been written by Paul" (History of Early Christian Literature, 310). He finds no room for the heresy here combated, or for the details in Paul's life, or for the linguistic peculiarities in Paul's style. But he sees a "literary nicety"-this group that binds them together and separates them from Paul. Thus tersely he puts the case against the Pauline authorship. So Moffatt argues for the "sub-Pauline environment" and "sub-Pauline atmosphere" of these epistles with the advanced ecclesiasticism (Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 410;). Wrede thrusts aside the personal details and argues that the epistles give merely the tendency of early Christianity (Ueber Aufgabe und Metbode der Sogen. New Testament Theologie, 1897, 357). The Hatch-Van Manen article in Encyclopedia Biblica admits only that "the Pastoral Epistles occupy themselves chiefly with the various affairs of the churches within `Pauline circles.' "
Moffatt has a vigorous attack on these letters in EB, but he "almost entirely ignores the external evidence, while he has nothing to say to the remarkable internal evidence which immediately demands our attention" (Knowling, Testimony of Paul to Christ, 3rd edition, 1911, 129). Moffatt (Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 414) holds that the Pastoral Epistles came from one pen, but the personality and motives are very vague to him. The personal details in 2 Timothy 1:14-18; 2 Timothy 4:9-22 are not on a paragraph with those in The Acts of Paul and Thekla in the 2nd century. Many critics who reject the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles admit the personal details in 2 Timothy, but it is just in such matters that forgeries are recognizable. To admit these fragments is logically to admit the whole (Maclean in 1-vol HDB), as Moffatt sees (Intro, 414), however much he seeks to tone down the use of Paul's name as "a Christian form of suasoriae," and "a further and inoffensive development of the principle which sought to claim apostolic sanction for the expanding institutions and doctrines of the early church" (ibid., 415). The objection against these epistles from differences in diction has been grievously overdone. As a matter of fact, each of the four groups has words peculiar to it, and naturally so. Style is a function of the subject as well as a mark of the man. Besides, style changes with one's growth. It would have been remarkable if all four
groups had shown no change in no change in vocabulary and style. The case of Shakespeare is quite pertinent, for the various groups of plays stand more or less apart. The Pastoral Epistles belong to Paul's old age and deal with personal and ecclesiastical matters in a more or less reminiscential way, with less of vehement energy than we get in the earlier epistles, but this situation is what one would reasonably expect. The "ecclesiastical organization" argument has been greatly overdone. As a matter of fact, "the organization in the Pastoral Epistles is not apparently advanced one step beyond that of the church in Philippi in 61 A.D." (Ramsay, The Expositor, VII, viii, 17). The "gnosis" met by these epistles (1 Timothy 6:20 Titus 1:14) is not the highly developed type seen in the Ignatian Epistles of the 2nd century. Indeed, Bartlet ("Historic Setting of the Pastoral Epistles," The Expositor, January, 1913, 29) pointedly says that, as a result of Hort's "Judaistic Christianity" and "Christian Ecclesia" and Ramsay's "Historical Commentary on the Epistles of Timothy" (Expos, VII, vii, ix, VIII, i), "one feels the subject has been lifted to a new level of reality and that much criticism between Baur and Julicher is out of date and irrelevant." It is now shown that the Pastoral Epistles are not directed against Gnosticism of advanced type, but even of a more Jewish type (Titus 1:14) than that in Colossians. Ramsay (Expos, VIII, i, 263) sweeps this stock criticism aside as "from the wrong point of view." It falls to the ground. Lightfoot ("Note on the Heresy Combated in the Pastoral Epistles," Biblical Essays, 413) had insisted on the Jewish character of the Gnosticism attacked here. As a matter of fact, the main objection to these epistles is that they do not fit into the story in Acts, which breaks off abruptly with Paul in Rome. But it is a false premise to assume that the Pastoral Epistles have to fit into the events in Acts. Harnack turns the objection that Paul in Acts 20:26 predicted that he would never see the Ephesian elders again into a strong argument for the date of Luke's Gospel before 2 Timothy 4:21 (The Date of Acts and Synoptic Gospels, 103). Indeed, he may not have revisited Ephesus after all, but may have seen Timothy at Miletus also (1 Timothy 1:3). Harnack frankly admits the acquittal and release of Paul and thus free play for the Pastoral Epistles Blass (Acta Apostolorum, 24) acknowledges the Pastoral Epistles as genuine. So also Findlay, article "Paul," in HDB; Maclean in 1-vol HDB; Denney in Standard BD. Sanday (Inspiration, 364) comments on the strength of the external evidence for the Pastoral Epistles. Even Holtzmann (Einl(3), 291) appears to admit echoes of the Pastoral Epistles in the Ignatian Epistles Lightfoot (Biblical Essays, "Date of the Pastoral Epistles," 399-437) justifies completely the acceptance of the Pauline authorship. Deissman (St. Paul, 15) has a needed word: "The delusion is still current in certain circles that the scientific distinction of a Bible scholar may be estimated in the form of a percentage according to the proportion of his verdicts of spuriousness..... The extant letters of Paul have been innocently obliged to endure again a fair share of the martyrdom suffered by the historic Paul." See further PASTORAL EPISTLES.
(3) Paul's Conception of His Epistles
Assuming, therefore, the Pauline authorship of the thirteen epistles, we may note that they, reveal in a remarkable way the growth in Paul's apprehension of Christ and Christianity, his adaptation to varied situations, his grasp of world-problems and the eternal values of life. Paul wrote other epistles, as we know. In 1 Corinthians 5:9 there is a clear reference to a letter not now known to us otherwise, earlier than 1 Corinthians. The use of "every epistle" in 2 Thessalonians 3:17 naturally implies that Paul had written more than two already. It is not certain to what letter Paul refers in 2 Corinthians 2:4 -most probably to one between 1 and 2 Corinthians, though, as already shown, some scholars find that letter in 2 Corinthians 10-13. Once more Paul (Colossians 4:16) mentions an epistle addressed to the church at Laodicea. This epistle is almost certainly that which we know as Ephesians. If not, here is another lost epistle. Indeed, at least two apocryphal Epistles to the Laodiceans were written to supply this deficiency. As early as 2 Thessalonians 2:2 forgers were at work to palm, off epistles in Paul's name, "or by epistle as from us," to attack and pervert Paul's real views, whom Paul denounces. It was entirely possible that this "nefarious work" would be continued (Gregory, Canon and Text of the New Testament, 1907, 191), though, as Gregory argues, Paul's exposure here would have a tendency to put a stop to it and to put Christians on their guard and to watch for Paul's signature to the epistles as a mark of genuineness (2 Thessalonians 3:17 1 Corinthians 16:21 Galatians 6:11 Colossians 4:18). This was all the more important since Paul evidently dictated his letters to amanuenses, as to Tertius in the case of Romans 16:22. In the case of Philemon 1:19, Paul probably wrote the whole letter. We may be sure therefore that, if we had the other genuine letters of Paul, they would occupy the same general standpoint as the thirteen now in our possession. The point to note here is that the four groups of Paul's Epistles fit into the historical background of the Acts as recorded by Luke, barring the fourth group which is later than the events in Acts. Each group meets a specific situation in a definite region or regions, with problems of vital interest. Paul attacks these various problems (theological, ecclesiastical, practical) with marvelous vigor, and applies the eternal principles of the gospel of Christ in such fashion as to furnish a norm for future workers for Christ. It is not necessary to say that he was conscious of that use. Deissmann (St. Paul, 12) is confident on this point: "That a portion of these confidential letters should be still extant after centuries, Paul cannot have intended, nor did it ever occur to him that they would be." Be that as it may, and granted that Paul's Epistles are "survivals, in the sense of the technical language employed by the historical method" (ibid., 12), still we must not forget that Paul attached a great deal of importance to his letters and urged obedience to the teachings which they contained: "I adjure you by the, Lord that this epistle be read unto all the brethren" (1 Thessalonians 5:27). This command we find in the very first one preserved to us. Once more note 2 Thessalonians 3:14: "And if any man obeyeth not our word by this ep., note that man, that ye have no company with him." Evidently therefore Paul does not conceive his epistles as mere incidents in personal correspondence, but authoritative instructions for the Christians to whom they are addressed. In 1 Corinthians 7:17, "And so ordain I in all the churches," he puts his epistolary commands on a paragraph with the words of Jesus quoted in the same chapter. Some indeed at Corinth (2 Corinthians 10:9 f) took his "letters" as an effort to "terrify" them, a thing that he was afraid to do in person. Paul (2 Corinthians 10:11) does not deny the authority of his letters, but claims equal courage when he comes in person (compare 2 Corinthians 13:2, 10). That Paul expected his letters to be used by more than the one church to which they were addressed is clear from Colossians 4:16: "And when this epistle hath been read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye also read the epistle from Laodicea." If the letter to Laodicea is our Ephesians and a sort of circular letter (compare Galatians), that is clear. But it must be noted that Colossians, undoubtedly a specific letter to Colosse, is likewise to be passed on to Laodicea. It is not always observed that in 1 Corinthians 1:2, though the epistle is addressed "unto the church of God which is at Corinth," Paul adds, "with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their Lord and ours." Philemon is, of course, a personal letter, though it deals with a sociological problem of universal interest. The Pastoral Epistles are addressed to two young ministers and have many personal details, as is natural, but the epistles deal far more with the social aspects of church life and the heresies and vices that were threatening the very existence of Christianity in the Roman empire. Paul is eager that Timothy shall follow his teaching (2 Timothy 3:10), and "the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2). It is this larger view of the future of Christianity that concerns Paul very keenly. The very conception of his ministry to the Gentiles (Romans 15:16 Ephesians 3:7) led Paul to feel that he had a right to speak to all, "both to Greeks and to Barbarians" (Romans 1:14), and hence, even to Rome (Romans 1:15 f). It is a mistake to limit Paul's Epistles to the local and temporary sphere given them by Deissmann.
(4) Development in Paul's Epistles
For Paul's gospel or theology see later. Here we must stress the fact that all four groups of Paul's Epistles are legitimate developments from his fundamental experience of grace as conditioned by his previous training and later work. He met each new problem with the same basal truth that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, revealed to Paul on the way to Damascus. The reality of this great experience must here be assumed (see discussion later). It may be admitted that the Acts does not stand upon the same plane as the Pauline Epistles as a witness concerning Paul's conversion (Fletcher, The Conversion of Paul, 1910, 5). But even so, the Epistles amply confirm Luke's report of the essential fact that Jesus appeared to Paul in the same sense that He did to the apostles and 500 Christians (1 Corinthians 15:4-9). The revelation of Christ to Paul and in Paul (en emoi, Galatians 1:16) and the specific call connected therewith to preach to the Gentiles gave Paul a place independent of and on a paragraph with the other apostles (Galatians 1:16; Galatians 2:1-10).
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