International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
kon-sist' (sunistemi): To stand together, exist, subsist (Colossians 1:17, "in him all things consist," i.e. the continuance of the universe is dependent upon His support and administration). In Luke 12:15, it translates the verb eimi, "to be," to express the thought that wealth is only an accident, not an essential to the highest ideal of life.
ROMANS, EPISTLE TO THE
" 1. Its Genuineness
2. Its Integrity
3. The Approximate Date
4. The Place of Writing
5. The Destination
6. The Language
7. The Occasion
8. Some Characteristics
9. Main Teachings of the Epistle
(1) Doctrine of Man
(2) Doctrine of God
(3) Doctrine of Son of God-Redemption; Justification
(4) Doctrine of the Spirit of God
(5) Doctrine of Duty
(6) Doctrine of Israel
This is the greatest, in every sense, of the apostolic letters of Paul; in scale, in scope, and in its wonderful combination of doctrinal, ethical and administrative wisdom and power. In some respects the later Epistles, Ephesians and Colossians, lead us to even higher and deeper arcana of revelation, and they, like Romans, combine with the exposition of truth a luminous doctrine of duty. But the range of Roman is larger in both directions, and presents us also with noble and far-reaching discussions of Christian polity, instructions in spiritual utterance and the like, to which those Epistles present no parallel, and which only the Corinthian Epistles rival.
1. Its Genuineness:
No suspicion on the head of the genuineness of the Epistle exists which needs serious consideration. Signs of the influence of the Epistle can be traced, at least very probably, in the New Testament itself; in 1 Peter, and, as some think, in James. But in our opinion Jas was the earlier writing, and Lightfoot has given strong grounds for the belief that the paragraph on faith and justification (James 2) has no reference to perversions of Pauline teaching, but deals with rabbinism. Clement of Rome repeatedly quotes Romans, and so do Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin. Marcion includes it in his list of Pauline Epistles, and it is safe to say in general Romans "has been recognized in the Christian church as long as any collection of Paul's Epistles has been extant" (A. Robertson, in HDB, under the word). But above all other evidences it testifies to itself. The fabrication of such a writing, with its close and complex thought, its power and marked originality of treatment, its noble morale, and its spiritual elevation and ardor, is nothing short of a moral impossibility. A mighty mind and equally great heart live in every page, and a soul exquisitely sensitive and always intent upon truth and holiness. Literary personation is an art which has come to anything like maturity only in modern times, certainly not before the Renaissance. In a fully developed form it is hardly earlier than the 19th century. And even now who can point to a consciously personated authorship going along with high moral principle and purpose?
2. Its Integrity:
The question remains, however, whether, accepting the Epistle in block as Pauline, we have it, as to details, just as it left the author's hands. Particularly, some phenomena of the text of the last two chapter invite the inquiry. We may-in our opinion we must-grant those chapters to be Pauline. They breathe Paul in every sentence. But do they read precisely like part of a letter to Rome? For example, we have a series of names (Romans 16:1-15), representing a large circle of personally known and loved friends of the writer, a much longer list than any other in the Epistles, and all presumably-on theory that the passage is integral to the Epistle-residents at Rome. May not such a paragraph have somehow crept in, after date, from another writing? Might not a message to Philippian, Thessalonian or Ephesian friends, dwellers in places where Paul had already established many intimacies, have fallen out of its place and found lodgment by mistake at the close of this letter to Rome? It seems enough to reply by one brief statement of fact. We possess some 300 manuscripts of Romans, and not one of these, so far as it is uninjured, fails to give the Epistle complete, all the chapters as we have them, and in the present order (with one exception, that of the final doxology). It is observable meanwhile that the difficulty of supposing Paul to have had a large group of friends living at Rome, before his own arrival there, is not serious. To and from Rome, through the whole empire, there was a perpetual circulation of population. Suppose Aquila and Priscilla (e.g.) to have recently returned (Acts 18:2) to Rome from Ephesus, and suppose similar migrations from Greece or from Asia Minor to have taken place within recent years; we can then readily account for the greetings of Romans 16.
Lightfoot has brought it out in an interesting way (see his Philippians, on 4:22) that many of the names (e.g. Amplias, Urbanus, Tryphena) in Romans 16 are found at Rome, in inscriptions of the early imperial age, in cemeteries where members of the widely scattered "household of Caesar" were interred. This at least suggests the abundant possibility that the converts and friends belonging to the "household" who, a very few years later, perhaps not more than three, were around him at Rome when he wrote to Philippi (Philippians 4:22), and sent their special greeting ("chiefly they") to the Philipplans, were formerly residents at Philippi, or elsewhere in Macedonia, and had moved thence to the capital not long before the apostle wrote to the Romans. A. Robertson (ut supra) comes to the conclusion, after a careful review of recent theories, "that the case for transferring this section.... from its actual connection to a lost Epistle to Ephesus is not made out."
Two points of detail in the criticism of the text of Romans may be noted. One is that the words "at Rome" (1:7, 15) are omitted in a very few manuscripts, in a way to remind us of the interesting phenomenon of the omission of "at Ephesus" (Ephesians 1:1 margin). But the evidence for this omission being original is entirely inadequate. The fact may perhaps be accounted for by a possible circulation of Romans among other mission churches as an Epistle of universal interest. This would be much more likely if the manuscripts and other authorities in which the last two chapters are missing were identical with those which omit "at Rome," but this is not the case.
The other and larger detail is that the great final doxology (Romans 16:25-27) is placed by many cursives at the end of Romans 14, and is omitted entirely by three manuscripts and by Marcion. The leading uncials and a large preponderance of ancient evidence place it where we have it. It is quite possible that Paul may have reissued Romans after a time, and may only then have added the doxology, which has a certain resemblance in manner to his later (captivity) style. But it is at least likely that dogmatic objections led Marcion to delete it, and that his action accounts for the other phenomena which seem to witness against its place at the finale.
It is worth noting that Hort, a singularly fearless, while sober student, defends without reserve the entirety of the Epistle as we have it, or practically so. See his essay printed in Lightfoot's Biblical Studies.
3. The Approximate Date:
We can fix the approximate date with fair certainty within reasonable limits. We gather from Romans 15:19 that Paul, when he wrote, was in the act of closing his work in the East and was looking definitely westward. But he was first about (15:25, 26) to revisit Jerusalem with his collection, mainly made in Macedonia and Achaia, for the "poor saints." Placing these allusions side by side with the references in 1 and 2 Corinthians to the collection and its conveyance, and again with the narrative of Acts, we may date Romans very nearly at the same time as 2 Corinthians, just before the visit to Jerusalem narrated in Acts 20, etc. The year may be fixed with great probability as 58 A.D. This estimate follows the lines of Lightfoot's chronology, which Robertson (ut supra) supports. More recent schemes would move the date back to 56 A.D.
"The reader's attention is invited to this date. Broadly speaking, it was about 30 years at the most after the Crucifixion. Let anyone in middle life reflect on the freshness in memory of events, whether public or private, which 30 years ago made any marked impression on his mind. Let him consider how concrete and vivid still are the prominent personages of 30 years ago, many of whom of course are still with us. And let him transfer this thought to the 1st century, and to the time of our Epistle. Let him remember that we have at least this one great Christian writing composed, for certain, within such easy reach of the very lifetime of Jesus Christ when His contemporary friends were still, in numbers, alive and active. Then let him open the Epistle afresh, and read, as if for the first time, its estimate of Jesus Christ-a Figure then of no legendary past, with its halo, but of the all but present day. Let him note that this transcendent estimate comes to us conveyed in the vehicle not of poetry and rhetoric, but of a treatise pregnant with masterly argument and admirable practical wisdom, tolerant and comprehensive. And we think that the reader will feel that the result of his meditations on date and circumstances is reassuring as to the solidity of the historic basis of the Christian faith" (from the present writer's introduction to the Epistle in the Temple Bible; see also his Light from the First Days: Short Studies in 1 Thessalonians).
4. The Place of Writing:
With confidence we may name Corinth as the place of writing. Paul was at the time in some "city" (Romans 16:23). He was staying with one Gaius, or Caius (same place), and we find in 1 Corinthians 1:14 a Gaius, closely connected with Paul, and a Corinthian. He commends to the Romans the deaconess Phoebe, attached to "the church at Cenchrea" (16:1), presumably a place near that from which he was writing; and Cenchrea was the southern part of Corinth.
5. The Destination:
The first advent of Christianity to Rome is unrecorded, and we know very little of its early progress. Visiting Romans (epidemountes), both Jews and proselytes, appear at Pentecost (Acts 2:10), and no doubt some of these returned home believers. In Acts 18:2 we have Aquila and Priscilla, Jews, evidently Christians, "lately come from Italy," and probably from Rome. But we know practically nothing else of the story previous to this Epistle, which is addressed to a mission church obviously important and already spiritually advanced. On the other hand (a curious paradox in view of the historical development of Roman Christianity), there is no allusion in the Epistle to church organization. The Christian ministry (apart from Paul's own apostleship) is not even mentioned. It may fairly be said to be incredible that if the legend of Peter's long episcopate were historical, no allusion whatever to his work, influence and authority should be made. It is at least extremely difficult to prove that he was even present in Rome till shortly before his martyrdom, and the very ancient belief that Peter and Paul founded the Roman church is more likely to have had its origin in their martyrdoms there than in Peter's having in any sense shared in the early evangelization of the city.
As to Rome itself, we may picture it at the date of the Epistle as containing, with its suburbs, a closely massed population of perhaps 800,000 people; a motley host of many races, with a strong oriental element, among which the Jews were present as a marked influence, despised and sometimes dreaded, but always attracting curiosity.
6. The Language:
The Epistle was written in Greek, the "common dialect," the Greek of universal intercourse of that age. One naturally asks, why not in Latin, when the message was addressed to the supreme Latin city? The large majority of Christian converts beyond doubt came from the lower middle and lowest classes, not least from the slave class. These strata of society were supplied greatly from immigrants, much as in parts of East London now aliens make the main population. Not Latin but Greek, then lingua franca of the Mediterranean, would be the daily speech of these people. It is remarkable that all the early Roman bishops bear Greek names. And some 40 years after the date of this Epistle we find Clement of Rome writing in Greek to the Corinthians, and later again, early in the 2nd century, Ignatius writing in Greek to the Romans.
7. The Occasion:
We cannot specify the occasion of writing for certain. No hint appears of any acute crisis in the mission (as when 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, or Colossians were written). Nor would personal reminiscences influence the writer, for he had not yet seen Rome. We can only suggest some possibilities as follows:
(1) A good opportunity for safe communication was offered by the deaconess Phoebe's proposed visit to the metropolis. She doubtless asked Paul for a commendatory letter, and this may have suggested an extended message to the church.
(2) Paul's thoughts had long gone toward Rome. See Acts 19:21: "I must see Rome," words which seem perhaps to imply some divine intimation (compare 23:11). And his own life-course would fall in with such a supernatural call. He had always aimed at large centers; and now his great work in the central places of the Levant was closing; he had worked at Ephesus, Thessalonica, Corinth; he was at last to think of the supreme center of all. Rome must always have had a dominant interest for the "Apostle of the Nations," and any suggestion that his Lord's will tended that way would intensify it to the highest degree.
(3) The form of the Epistle may throw further light on the occasion. The document falls, on the whole, into three parts. First we have Romans 1-8 inclusive, a prolonged exposition of the contrasted and related phenomena of sin and salvation, with special initial references to the cases of Jew and non-Jew respectively. Then come Romans 9-11, which deal with the Jewish rejection of the Jewish Messiah, developing into a prophetic revelation of the future of Israel in the grace of God. Lastly we have Romans 12-16. Some account of the writer's plans, and his salutations to friends, requests for prayer, etc., form the close of this section. But it is mainly a statement of Christian duty in common life, personal, civil, religious. Under the latter head we have a noble treatment of problems raised by varying opinions, particularly on religious observances, among the converts, Jew and Gentile.
Such phenomena cast a possible light on the occasion of writing. The Roman mission was on one side, by its locality and surroundings, eminently gentile. On the other, there was, as we have seen, a strong Judaic element in Roman life, particularly in its lower strata, and no doubt around the Jewish community proper there had grown up a large community of "worshippers" (sebomenoi) or, as we commonly call them, "proselytes" ("adherents," in the language of modern missionary enterprise), people who, without receiving circumcision, attended Jewish worship and shared largely in Jewish beliefs and ideals. Among these proselytes, we may believe, the earliest evangelists at Rome found a favorable field, and the mission church as Paul knew of it contained accordingly not only two definite classes, converts from paganism, converts from native Judaism, but very many in whose minds both traditions were working at once. To such converts the problems raised by Judaism, both without and within the church, would come home with a constant intimacy and force, and their case may well have been present in a special degree in the apostle's mind alike in the early passages (Romans 1-3) of the Epistle and in such later parts as Romans 2-11; 14; 15. On the one hand they would greatly need guidance on the significance of the past of Israel and on the destiny of the chosen race in the future. Moreover, discussions in such circles over the way of salvation would suggest to the great missionary his exposition of man's reconciliation with a holy God and of His secrets for purity and obedience in an unholy world. And meanwhile the ever-recurring problems raised by ceremonial rules in common daily life-problems of days and seasons, and of forbidden food-would, for such disciples, need wise and equitable treatment.
(4) Was it not with this position before him, known to him through the many means of communication between Rome and Corinth, that Paul cast his letter into this form? And did not the realization of the central greatness of Rome suggest its ample scale? The result was a writing which shows everywhere his sense of the presence of the Judaic problem. Here he meets it by a statement, massive and tender, of "heaven's easy, artless, unencumbered plan" of redemption, grace, and glory, a plan which on its other side is the very mystery of the love of God, which statement is now and forever a primary treasure of the Christian faith. And then again he lays down for the too eager champions of the new "liberty" a law of loving tolerance toward slower and narrower views which is equally our permanent spiritual possession, bearing a significance far-reaching and benign.
(5) It has been held by some great students, notably Lightfoot and Hort, that the main purpose of Romans was to reconcile the opposing "schools" in the church, and that its exposition of the salvation of the individual is secondary only. The present writer cannot take this view. Read the Epistle from its spiritual center, so to speak, and is not the perspective very different? The apostle is always conscious of the collective aspect of the Christian life, an aspect vital to its full health. But is he not giving his deepest thought, animated by his own experience of conviction and conversion, to the sinful man's relation to eternal law, to redeeming grace, and to a coming glory? It is the question of personal salvation which with Paul seems to us to live and move always in the depth of his argument, even when Christian polity and policy is the immediate theme.
8. Some Characteristics:
Excepting only Ephesians (the problem of the authorship of which is insoluble, and we put that great document here aside), Romans is, of all Paul has written, least a letter and most a treatise. He is seen, as we read, to approach religious problems of the highest order in a free but reasoned succession; problems of the darkness and of the light, of sin and grace, fall and restoration, doom and remission, faith and obedience, suffering and glory, transcendent hope and humblest duty, now in their relation to the soul, now so as to develop the holy collectivity of the common life. The Roman converts are always first in view, but such is the writer, such his handling, that the results are for the universal church and for every believer of all time. Yet all the while (and it is in this a splendid example of that epistolary method of revelation which is one of the glories of the New Testament) it is never for a moment the mere treatise, however great. The writer is always vividly personal, and conscious of persons. The Epistle is indeed a masterpiece of doctrine, but also always "the unforced, unartificial utterance of a friend to friends."
9. Main Teachings of the Epistle:
Approaching the Epistle as a treatise rather than a letter (with the considerable reserves just stated), we indicate briefly some of its main doctrinal deliverances. Obviously, in limine, it is not set before us as a complete system either of theology or of morals; to obtain a full view of a Pauline dogma and ethics we must certainly place Ephesians and Colossians, not to speak of passages from Thessalonians, beside Romans. But it makes by far the nearest approach to doctrinal completeness among the Epistles.
(1) Doctrine of Man.
In great measure this resolves itself into the doctrine of man as a sinner, as being guilty in face of an absolutely holy and absolutely imperative law, whether announced by abnormal revelation, as to the Jew, or through nature and conscience only, as to the Gentile. At the back of this presentation lies the full recognition that man is cognizant, as a spiritual being, of the eternal difference of right and wrong, and of the witness of creation to personal "eternal power and Godhead" as its cause, and that he is responsible in an awe-inspiring way for his unfaithfulness to such cognitions. He is a being great enough to be in personal moral relation with God, and able to realize his ideal only in true relation with Him; therefore a being whose sin and guilt have an unfathomable evil in them. So is he bound by his own failure that he cannot restore himself; God alone, in sovereign mercy, provides for his pardon by the propitiation of Christ, and for his restoration by union with Christ in the life given by the Holy Spirit. Such is man, once restored, once become "a saint" (a being hallowed), a "son of God" by adoption and grace, that his final glorification will be the signal (in some sense the cause?) of a transfiguration of the whole finite universe. Meanwhile, man is a being actually in the midst of a life of duty and trial, a member of civil society, with obligations to its order. He lives not in a God-forsaken world, belonging only to another and evil power. His new life, the "mind of the Spirit" in him, is to show itself in a conduct and character good for the state and for society at large, as well as for the "brotherhood."
(2) Doctrine of God.
True to the revelation of the Old Testament, Paul presents God as absolute in will and power, so that He is not only the sole author of nature but the eternal and ultimately sole cause of goodness in man. To Him in the last resort all is due, not only the provision of atonement but the power and will to embrace it. The great passages which set before us a "fore-defining" (proorisis, "predestination") and election of the saints are all evidently inspired by this motive, the jealous resolve to trace to the one true Cause all motions and actions of good. The apostle seems e.g. almost to risk affirming a sovereign causation of the opposite, of unbelief and its sequel. But patient study will find that it is not so. God is not said to "fit for ruin" the "vessels of wrath." Their woeful end is overruled to His glory, but nowhere is it taken to be caused by Him. All along the writer's intense purpose is to constrain the actual believer to see the whole causation of his salvation in the will and power of Him whose inmost character is revealed in the supreme fact that, "for us all," "he spared not his Son."
(3) Doctrine of Son of God-Redemption; Justification.
The Epistle affords materials for a magnificently large Christology. The relation of the Son to creation is indeed not expounded in terms (as in Col), but it is implied in the language of Romans 8, where the interrelation of our redemption and the transfiguration of Nature is dealt with. We have the Lord's manhood fully recognized, while His Godhead (as we read in 9:5; so too Robertson, ut supra) is stated in terms, and it is most certainly implied in the language and tone of e.g. the close of Romans 8. Who but a bearer of the Supreme Nature could satisfy the conception indicated in such words as those of 8:32, 35-39, coming as they do from a Hebrew monotheist of intense convictions? Meantime this transcendent Person has so put Himself in relation with us, as the willing worker of the Father's purpose of love, that He is the sacrifice of peace for us (Romans 3), our "propitiatory" One (hilasterion, is now known to be an adjective), such that (whatever the mystery, which leaves the fact no less certain) the man who believes on Him, i.e. (as Romans 4 fully demonstrates) relies on Him, gives himself over to His mercy, is not only forgiven but "justified," "justified by faith." And "justification" is more than forgiveness; it is not merely the remission of a penalty but a welcome to the offender, pronounced to be lawfully at peace with the eternal holiness and love.
See JUSTIFICATION; PROPITIATION.
In closest connection with this message of justification is the teaching regarding union with the Christ who has procured the justification. This is rather assumed than expounded in Romans (we have the exposition more explicitly in Ephesians, Colossians, and Galatians), but the assumption is present wherever the pregnant phrase "in Christ" is used. Union is, for Paul, the central doctrine of all, giving life and relation to the whole range. As Lightfoot has well said (Sermons in Paul's, number 16), he is the apostle not primarily of justification, or of liberty, great as these truths are with him, but of union with Christ. It is through union that justification is ours; the merits of the Head are for the member. It is through union that spiritual liberty and power are ours; the Spirit of life is from the Head to the member. Held by grace in this profound and multiplex connection, where life, love and law are interlaced, the Christian is entitled to an assurance full of joy that nothing shall separate him, soul and (ultimately) body, from his once sacrificed and now risen and triumphant Lord.
(4) Doctrine of the Spirit of God.
No writing of the New Testament but John's Gospel is so full upon this great theme as Romans 8 may be said to be the locus classicus in the Epistles for the work of the Holy Ghost in the believer. By implication it reveals personality as well as power (see especially 8:26). Note particularly the place of this great passage, in which revelation and profoundest conditions run continually into each other. It follows Romans 7, in which the apostle depicts, in terms of his own profound and typical experience, the struggles of conscience and will over the awful problem of the "bondage" of indwelling sin. If we interpret the passage aright, the case supposed is that of a regenerate man, who, however, attempts the struggle against inward evil armed, as to consciousness, with his own faculties merely, and finds the struggle insupportable. Then comes in the divine solution, the promised Spirit of life and liberty, welcomed and put into use by the man who has found his own resources yam. "In Christ Jesus," in union with Him, he "by the Spirit does to death the practices of the body," and rises through conscious liberty into an exulting hope of "the liberty of the glory of the sons of God"-not so, however as to know nothing of "groaning within himself," while yet in the body; but it is a groan which leaves intact the sense of sonship and divine love, and the expectation of a final completeness of redemption.
(5) Doctrine of Duty.
While the Epistle is eminently a message of salvation, it is also, in vital connection with this, a treasury of principle and precept for the life of duty. It does indeed lay down the sovereign freedom of our acceptance for Christ's sake alone, and so absolutely that (Romans 6:1, 2, 15) the writer anticipates the inference (by foes, or by mistaken friends), "Let us continue in sin." But the answer comes instantly, and mainly through the doctrine of union. Our pardon is not an isolated fact. Secured only by Christ's sacrifice, received only by the faith which receives Him as our all, it is ipso facto never received alone but with all His other gifts, for it becomes ours as we receive, not merely one truth about Him, but Him. Therefore, we receive His Life as our true life; and it is morally unthinkable that we can receive this and express it in sin. This assumed, the Epistle (Romans 12 and onward) lays down with much detail and in admirable application large ranges of the law of duty, civil, social, personal, embracing duties to the state, loyalty to its laws, payment of its taxes, recognition of the sacredness of political order, even ministered by pagans; and also duties to society and the church, including a large and loving tolerance even in religious matters, and a response to every call of the law of unselfish love. However we can or cannot adjust mentally the two sides, that of a supremely free salvation and that of an inexorable responsibility, there the two sides are, in the Pauline message. And reason and faith combine to assure us that both sides are eternally true, "antinomies" whose harmony will be explained hereafter in a higher life, but which are to be lived out here concurrently by the true disciple, assured of their ultimate oneness of source in the eternal love.
(6) Doctrine of Israel.
Very briefly we touch on this department of the message of Romans, mainly to point out that the problem of Israel's unbelief nowhere else in Paul appears as so heavy a load on his heart, and that on the other hand we nowhere else have anything like the light he claims to throw (Romans 11) on Israel's future. Here, if anywhere, he appears as the predictive prophet, charged with the statement of a "mystery," and with the announcement of its issues. The promises to Israel have never failed, nor are they canceled. At the worst, they have always been inherited by a chosen remnant, Israel within Israel. And a time is coming when, in a profound connection with Messianic blessing on the Gentiles, "all Israel shall be saved," with a salvation which shall in turn be new life to the world outside Israel. Throughout the passage Paul speaks, not as one who "will not give up a hope," but as having had revealed to him a vast and definite prospect, in the divine purpose.
It is not possible in our present space to work out other lines of the message of Romans. Perhaps enough has been done to stimulate the reader's own inquiries.
Of the Fathers, Chrysostom and Augustine are pre-eminent as interpreters of Romans: Chrysostom in his expository Homilies, models of eloquent and illuminating discourse, full of "sanctified common sense," while not perfectly appreciative of the inmost doctrinal characteristics; Augustine, not in any continuous comm., but in his anti-Pelagian writings, which show the sympathetic intensity of his study of the doctrine of the Epistle, not so much on justification as on grace and the will. Of the Reformers, Calvin is eminently the great commentator, almost modern in his constant aim to ascertain the sacred writer's meaning by open-eyed inference direct from the words. On Romans he is at his best; and it is remarkable that on certain leading passages where grace is theme he is much less rigidly "Calvinistic" than some of his followers. In modern times, the not learned but masterly exposition of Robert Haldane (circa 1830) claims mention, and the eloquent and highly suggestive expository lectures (about the same date) of Thomas Chalmers. H. A. W. Meyer (5th edition, 1872, English translation 1873-1874) among the Germans is excellent for carefulness and insight; Godet (1879, English translation 1881) equally so among French-writing divines; of late English interpreters I. A. Beet (1877, many revisions), Sanday and Headlam (1895, in the" International" series) and E. H. Gifford (admirable for scholarship and exposition; his work was printed first in the Speaker's (Bible) Comm., 1881, now separately) claim particular mention. J. Denney writes on Romans in The Expositor's Greek Test. (1900).
Luther's lectures on Romans, delivered in 1516-1517 and long supposed lost, have been recovered and were published by J. Ficker in 1908.
Read Complete Article...
THESSALONIANS, THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE
I. IMPORTANCE OF THE EPISTLE
II. CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE FOUNDING OF THE CHURCH
1. Luke's Narrative in Acts
2. Confirmation of Luke's Narrative in the Epistle
III. CONDITIONS IN THE THESSALONIAN CHURCH AS INDICATED IN THE LETTER
IV. ANALYSIS WIENER, ORIGIN OF THE PENTATEUCH THE EPISTLE
1. Paul's Past and Present Relations with the Thessalonians and His Love for Them
2. Exhortations against Vice, and Comfort and Warning in View of the Coming of Christ
V. DOCTRINAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE EPISTLE
VI. THE EPISTLE'S REVELATIONS OF PAUL'S CHARACTERISTICS
I. The Importance of the Epistle.
The letter is especially important as a witness to the content of the earliest Gospel, on account of its date and its well-nigh unchallenged authenticity. According to Harnack it was written in the year 48 A.D.; according to Zahn, in the year 53. It is likely that these two dates represent the extreme limits. We are thus justified in saying with confidence that we have before us a document that could not have been written more than 24 years, and may very easily have been written but 19 years, after the ascension of our Lord. This is a fact of great interest in view of the contention that the Jesus of the four Gospels is a product of the legend-making propensity of devout souls in the latter part of the 1st century. When we remember that Paul was converted more than 14 years before the writing of the Epistles, and that he tells us that his conversion was of such an overwhelming nature as to impel him in a straight course from which he never varied, and when we note that at the end of 14 years Peter and John, having fully heard the gospel which he preached, had no corrections to offer (Galatians 1:11-2:10, especially 2:6-10), we see that the view of Christ and His message given in this Epistle traces itself back into the very presence of the most intimate friends of Jesus. It is not meant by this that the words of Paul or the forms of his teaching are reproductions of things Jesus said in the days of His flesh, but rather that the conception which is embodied in the Epistle of the person of Christ and of His relation to the Father, and of His relation also to the church and to human destiny, is rooted in Christ's own self-revelation.
II. Circumstances of the Founding of the Church.
1. Luke's Narrative in Acts:
For the founding of the church we have two sources of information, the Book of Acts and the Epistle itself. Luke's narrative is found in Acts 17. Here we are told that Paul, after leaving Philippi, began his next siege against entrenched paganism in the great market center of Thessalonica. He went first into the synagogues of the Jews, and for three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures. Some of them, Luke tells us, "were persuaded, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few." This very naturally excited the jealousy of the Jews who found themselves losing the social prestige that came from having a large number of Greeks, including some of the nobility, resorting to them for instruction. Accordingly, they raised a mob of the worst men in town and brought the leading members of the church before the magistrate. These brethren, Jason and certain others, who seem to have been men of some property, were compelled to give bond to preserve the peace, and the intense feeling against Paul made it necessary for him, for the sake of these brethren as well as for his personal safety, to flee from the city.
2. Confirmation of Luke's Narrative in the Epistle:
The historicity of Luke's story of the founding of the church is strongly supported by the text of the Epistle. Paul, for instance, notes that the work in Thessalonica began after they had been shamefully entreated at Philippi (1 Thessalonians 2:2). He bears witness also in the same verse to the conflict in the midst of which the Thessalonian church was founded (see also 1 Thessalonians 2:14). Paul's exhortation to salute all the brethren with a holy kiss, his solemn adjuration that this letter be read unto all the brethren (1 Thessalonians 5:26, 27), and his exhortation to despise not prophesying (1 Thessalonians 5:20) are harmonious with Luke's account of the very diverse social elements out of which the church was formed: diversities that would very easily give rise to a disposition on the part of the more aristocratic to neglect the cordial greetings to the poorer members, and to despise their uncouth testimonies to the grace of God that had come to them (Acts 17:4).
Paul tells us that he was forced to labor for his daily bread at Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:9). Luke does not make mention of this, but he tells us of his work at tent-making in the next town where he made a considerable stop (Acts 18:1-3), and thus each statement makes the other probable.
Perhaps, however, the most marked corroboration of the Acts which we have in the letter is the general harmony of its revelation of the character of Paul with that of the Acts. The reminiscences of Paul's work among them (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12) correspond, for instance, in a marked way, in essence though not in style and vocabulary, with Luke's report of Paul's account of the method and spirit of his work at Ephesus (Acts 20:17-35). This, however, is only one of many correspondences which could be pointed out and which will at once be evident to anyone who will read the letter, and then go over Acts 13-28.
It may seem irrelevant thus to emphasize the historicity of Acts in an article on Thessalonians, but the witness of the Epistle to the historicity of the Gospels and of Acts is for the present moment one of its most important functions.
III. Conditions in the Thessalonian Church as Indicated in the Letter.
A New Testament epistle bears a close resemblance to a doctor's prescription. It relates itself to the immediate situation of the person to whom it is directed. If we study it we can infer with a great deal of accuracy the tendencies, good or bad, in the church. What revelation of the conditions at Thessalonica is made in the First Epistle? Plainly, affairs on the whole are in a very good state, especially when one takes into account the fact that most of the members had been out of heathenism but a few months. They were so notably devoted to God that they were known all over Macedonia as examples to the church (1 Thessalonians 1:7). In particular the Christian grace of cordial good will toward all believers flourished among them: a grace which they doubtless had good opportunity to exercise in this great market town to which Christians from all parts would resort on business errands and where there would be constant demands on their hospitality (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10).
There were, however, shadows in the picture. Some persons were whispering dark suspicions against Paul. Perhaps, as Zahn suggests, they were the unbelieving husbands of the rich ladies who had become members of the church. It was in answer to these criticisms that he felt called upon to say that he was not a fanatic nor a moral leper, nor a deceiver (1 Thessalonians 2:3). When he is so careful to remind them that he was not found at any time wearing a cloak of covetousness, but rather went to the extreme of laboring night and day that he might not be chargeable to any of them (1 Thessalonians 2:9), we may be sure that the Christians were hearing constant jibes about their money-making teacher who had already worked his scheme with the Philippians so successfully that they had twice sent him a contribution (Philippians 4:16). Paul's peculiar sensitiveness on this point at Corinth (1 Corinthians 9:14, 15) was possibly in part the result of his immediately preceding experiences at Thessalonica.
One wonders whether Greece was not peculiarly infested at this time with wandering philosophers and religious teachers who beat their way as best they could, living on the credulity of the unwary.
Paul's anxiety to assure them of his intense desire to see them and his telling of his repeated attempts to come to them (1 Thessalonians 2:17-20) show rather plainly also that his absence had given rise to the suspicion that he was afraid to come back, or indeed quite indifferent about revisiting them. "We would fain have come unto you," he says, "I Paul once and again; and Satan hindered us."
Some also were saying that Paul was a flatterer (1 Thessalonians 2:5), who was seeking by this means to carry out unworthy ends. This sneer indeed, after the reading of the letter, would come quite naturally to the superficial mind. Paul's amazing power to idealize his converts and see them in the light of their good intentions and of the general goal and trend of their minds is quite beyond the appreciation of a shallow and sardonic soul.
More than this, we can see plain evidence that the church was in danger of the chronic heathen vice of unchastity (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8). The humble members also, in particular, were in danger of being intoxicated by the new intellectual and spiritual life into which they had been inducted by the gospel, and were spending their time in religious meetings to the neglect of their daily labor (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12). Moreover, some who had lost friends since their baptism were mourning lest at the second coming of Christ these who had fallen asleep would not share in the common glory (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). This is a quaint proof of the immaturity of their view of Christ, as though a physical accident could separate from His love and care. There was likewise, as suggested above, the ever-present danger of social cliques among the members (1 Thessalonians 5:13, 15, 20, 26, 27). It is to this condition of things that Paul pours forth this amazingly vital and human Epistle.
IV. Analysis of the Epistle.
The letter may be divided in several ways. Perhaps as simple a way as any is that which separates it into two main divisions.
First, Paul's past and present relations with the Thessalonians, and his love for them (1 Thessalonians 1:1-3:13):
1. Paul's Past and Present Relations with the Thessalonians and His Love for Them:
(1) Greeting and Thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 1:1-10).
(2) Paul reminds them of the character of his life and ministry among them (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12).
(3) The sufferings of the Thessalonians the same as those endured by their Jewish brethren (1 Thessalonians 2:13-16).
(4) Paul's efforts to see them (1 Thessalonians 2:17-20).
(5) Paul's surrender of his beloved helper in order to learn the state of the Thessalonian church, and his joy over the good news which Timothy brought (1 Thessalonians 3:1-13).
Second, exhortations against vice, and comfort and warning in view of the coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:1-5, 28):
2. Exhortations against Vice, and Comfort and Warning in View of the Coming of Christ:
(1) Against gross vice (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8).
(2) Against idleness (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12).
(3) Concerning those who have fallen asleep (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
(4) Concerning the true way to watch for the Coming (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).
(5) Sundry exhortations (1 Thessalonians 5:12-28).
V. Doctrinal Implications of the Epistle.
The Epistle to the Thessalonians is not a doctrinal letter. Paul's great teaching concerning salvation by faith alone, apart from the works of the Law, is not sharply defined or baldly stated, and the doctrine of the cross of Christ as central in Christianity is here implied rather than enforced. Almost the only doctrinal statement is that which assures them that those of their number who had fallen asleep would not in any wise be shut out from the rewards and glories at Christ's second coming (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). But while the main doctrinal positions of Paul are not elaborated or even stated in the letter, it may safely be said that the Epistle could scarcely have been written by one who denied those teachings. And the fact that we know that shortly before or shortly after Paul wrote the Epistle to the Galatians, and the fact that he so definitely describes his attitude at this very time toward the preaching of the cross of Christ, in his reminiscences in 1 Corinthians (see especially 1 Corinthians 2:1-5), show how foolish it is to assume that an author has not yet come to a position because he does not constantly obtrude it in all that he writes.
The Epistle, however, bears abundant evidence to the fact that this contemporary of Jesus had seen in the life and character and resurrection of Jesus that which caused him to exalt Him to divine honors, to mention Him in the same breath with God the Father, and to expect His second coming in glory as the event which would determine the destiny of all men and be the final goal of history. As such the letter, whose authenticity is now practically unquestioned, is a powerful proof that Jesus was a personality as extraordinary as the Jesus of the first three Gospels. And even the Christ of the Fourth Gospel is scarcely more exalted than He who now with God the Father constitutes the spiritual atmosphere in which Christians exist (1 Thessalonians 1:1), and who at the last day will descend from heaven with a shout and with the voice of an archangel and the trump of God, and cause the dead in Christ to rise from their tombs to dwell forever with Himself (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).
VI. The Epistle's Revelations of Paul's Characteristics.
We notice in the letter the extreme tactfulness of Paul. He has some plain and humiliating warnings to give, but he precedes them in each case with affectionate recognition of the good qualities of the brethren. Before he warns against gross vice he explains that he is simply urging them to continue in the good way they are in. Before he urges them to go to work he cordially recognizes the love that has made them linger so long and so frequently at the common meeting-places. And when in connection with his exhortations about the second coming he alludes to the vice of drunkenness, he first idealizes them as sons of the light and of the day to whom, of course, the drunken orgies of those who are "of the night" would be unthinkable. Thus by a kind of spiritual suggestion he starts them in the right way.
Bishop Alexander, the Speaker's Commentary (published in America under the title, The Bible Comm., and bound with most excellent commentaries on all of the Pauline Epistles), New York, Scribners; Milligan, The Epistles to the Thessalonians (the Greek text with Introduction and notes), London, Macmillan; Moffatt, The Expositor's Greek Test. (bound with commentaries by various authors on the Pastoral Epistles, Philemon, Hebrews and James), New York, Dodd, Mead and Co.; Frame, ICC, New York, Scribners; Stevens, An American Commentary on the New Testament, Philadelphia, American Baptist Publication Society; Adeney, The New Century Bible, "1 and 2 Thessalonians" and "Galatians," New York, Henry Frowde; Findlay, "The Epistles to the Thessalonians," Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, New York, Putnams; James Denney, "The Epistles to the Thessalonians," Expositor's Bible, New York, Doran; the two latter are especially recommended as inexpensive, popular and yet scholarly commentaries. The Cambridge Bible is a verse-by-verse commentary, and Professor Denney on "Thess" in Expositor's Bible is one of the most vital and vigorous pieces of homiletical exposition known to the present writer.
Rollin Hough Walker
THESSALONIANS, THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE
I. IMPORTANCE OF STUDYING 1 THESSALONIANS AND 2 THESSALONIANS TOGETHER
1. Arguments against the Pauline Authorship
2. Arguments for the Pauline Authorship
III. THE MAN OF SIN
1. Primary Reference
2. Permanent Value of the Teaching concerning the Man of Sin
V. PAUL'S EXHORTATION TO QUIET INDUSTRY
I. Importance of Studying 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians Together.
Those who hold to the Pauline authorship of the Epistle unite in ascribing it to a time but little subsequent to the writing of the First Letter. It is simply a second prescription for the same case, made after discovering that some certain stubborn symptoms had not yielded to the first treatment. 2 Thessalonians should be studied in connection with 1 Thessalonians because it is only from an understanding of the First Epistle and the situation that it revealed that one can fully grasp the significance of the Second. And more than that, the solution of the problem as to whether Paul wrote the Second Letter is likewise largely dependent on our knowledge of the First. It would, for instance, be much harder to believe that Paul had written 2 Thessalonians if we did not know that before writing it he had used the tender and tactful methods of treatment which we find in the First Letter. It is as though one should enter a sick rook where the physician is resorting to some rather strong measures with a patient. One is better prepared to judge the wisdom of the treatment if he knows the history of the case, and discovers that gentler methods have already been tried by the physician without success.
1. Arguments against the Pauline Authorship:
The different treatment of the subject of the second coming of Christ, the different emotional tone, and the different relationships between Paul and the church presupposed in the First and Second Epistles have been among the causes which have led to repeated questionings of the Pauline authorship of 2 Thessalonians. Scholars argue, in the first place, that the doctrine concerning the coming of Christ which we find in the Second Letter is not only differently phrased but is contradictory to that in the First. We get the impression from the First Letter that the Day of the Lord is at hand. It will come as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2), and one of the main parts of Christian duty is to expect (1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10). In the Second Letter, however, he writer urges strongly against any influence that will deceive them into believing that the Day of the Lord is at hand, because it will not be "except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshiped" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).
Again very plainly also, say the critics, a different relation exists between the writer and the church at Thessalonica. In the First Letter he coaxes; in the Second Letter he commands (1 Thessalonians 4:1, 2, 9-12; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 12-14). Moreover, the whole emotional tone of the Second Letter is different from that of the First. The First Epistle is a veritable geyser of joyous, grateful affection and tenderness. The Second Letter, while it also contains expressions of the warmest affection and appreciation, is quite plainly not written under the same pressure of tender emotion. Here, say the critics, is a lower plane of inspiration. Here are Paul's words and phrases and plain imitations of Paul's manner, but here most emphatically is not the flood tide of Paul's inspiration. Moreover, the lurid vision of the battle between the man of sin and the returning Messiah in the Second Letter is different in form and coloring from anything which we find elsewhere in Paul. These, and other considerations have led many to assume that the letter was written by a hand other than that of the Apostle to the Gentiles.
2. Arguments for the Pauline Authorship:
The Hypothesis, however, that Paul was not the author of the Epistle, while it obviates certain difficulties, raises many more. Into a statement of these difficulties we will not go here, but refer the reader to a brief and scholarly putting of them in Peake's Critical Introduction to the New Testament, 12-16 (New York, Scribners, 1910).
There is accordingly today a manifest tendency among all scholars, including those in the more radical camps, to return to the traditional position concerning the authorship. The following are some of the positive arguments for the authenticity:
As for the opposing views of the coming of Christ in the two Epistles, it is to be noted that precisely the same superficial contradiction occurs in our Lord's own teaching on this same subject (Matthew 24:6, 23, 24, 25, 26 Luke 12:35, 40). Jesus exhorts His disciples to watch, for in such an hour as they think not the Son of man cometh, and yet at the same time and in the same connection warns them that when they see certain signs they should not be troubled, for the end is not yet. Paul, brooding over the subject after writing the First Letter, might easily have come strongly to see the obverse side of the shield. The apostle built his theology upon the tradition which had come from Jesus as interpreted by its practical effects upon his converts, and his mind was quick to counteract any danger due to overemphasis or wrong inferences. He was not nearly as eager for a consistently stated doctrine as he was for a doctrine that made for spiritual life and efficiency. During the fierce persecutions at the beginning of the movement in Thessalonica, the comfort of the thought of the swift coming of Christ was in need of emphasis but as soon as the doctrine was used as an excuse for unhealthful religious excitement the minds of the disciples must be focused on more prosaic and less exciting aspects of reality.
That Paul assumes a commanding and peremptory attitude in the Second Letter which we do not find so plainly asserted in the First is readily admitted. Why should not the First Letter have had its intended effect upon the Thessalonian church as a whole? And if Paul received word that his gracious and tactful message had carried with it the conviction of the dominant elements of the church, but that certain groups had continued to be fanatical and disorderly, we can easily see how, with the main current of the church behind him, he would have dared to use more drastic methods with the offending members.
It is also readily admitted that the Second Letter is not so delightful and heart-warming as the First. It was plainly not written in a mood of such high emotional elevation. But the question may be raised as to whether the coaxing, caressing tone of the First Epistle would have been appropriate in handling the lazy and fanatical elements of the church after it had persisted in disregarding his tender and kindly admonitions. Jesus' stern words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23 are not so inspiring as John 14, but they were the words and the only words that were needed at the time. "Let not your heart be troubled" would not be inspired if delivered to hypocrites. Furthermore, we are not called upon to assume that Paul at all times lived in the same mood of emotional exaltation. Indeed his Epistles abound with assertions that this was not the case (2 Corinthians 1:8 1 Thessalonians 3:9), and it is unreasonable to expect him always to write in the same key. It must be added, however, that the suggestion that the Second Epistle is stern may easily be overdone. If 1 Thessalonians were not before us, it would be the tenderness of Paul's treatment of the church which would most impress us.
Harnack has recently added the weight of his authority to the argument for the Pauline authorship of the letter. He thinks that there were two distinct societies in Thessalonica, the one perhaps meeting in the Jewish quarter and composed chiefly of Jewish Christians, and the other composed of Greeks meeting in some other part of the city. In addition to the probability that this would be true, which arises from the very diverse social classes out of which the church was formed (Acts 17:4), and the size of the city, he points to the adjuration in the First Letter (1 Thessalonians 5:27) that this Epistle be read unto all the brethren, as a proof that there was a coterie in the church that met separately and that might easily have been neglected by the rest, just as the Greeks in Jerusalem were neglected in the daily ministration (Acts 6:1). He thinks that the Second Letter was probably directed to the Jewish element of the Church.
It is to be noted also that Professor Moffatt (Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 76;), who calls in question the authenticity of nearly all of the books of the New Testament that any reputable scholars now attack, finds no sufficient reason to question the Pauline authorship of 2 Thessalonians.
III. The Man of Sin.
1. Primary Reference:
The question as to whom or what Paul refers to in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, when he speaks of the man of sin, whose revelation is to precede the final manifestation of Christ, has divided scholars during all the Christian centuries. (For a good discussion of the history of the interpretation of this difficult section, see Findlay, "I and II Thessalonians," Cambridge Bible, 170-80.) The reason why each age has had its fresh interpretation identifying the man of sin with the blasphemous powers of evil then most active is the fact that the prophecy has never yet found its complete accomplishment. The man of sin has never been fully revealed, and Christ has never finally destroyed him.
But Paul says that the mystery of iniquity already works (2 Thessalonians 2:7), and he tells the church that the restraining influence which for the time being held it in check is something that "ye know" (2 Thessalonians 2:6). Plainly, then, the evil power and that which held it in check were things quite familiar both to Paul and to his readers. We must therefore give the prophecy a lst-century reference. The alternative probably lies between making the mystery of iniquity the disposition of the Roman emperor to give himself out as an incarnation of deity and force all men to worship him, a tendency which was then being held in check by Claudius, but which soon broke out under Caligula (see Peake's Introduction above cited); or, on the other hand, making the mystery of iniquity to be some peculiar manifestation of diabolism which was to break out from the persecuting Jewish world, and which was then held in check by the restraining power of the Roman government.
In favor of making a blasphemous Roman emperor the man of sin, may be urged the fact that it was this demand of the emperor for worship which brought matters to a crisis in the Roman world and turned the terrific enginery of the Roman empire against Christianity. And it may be argued that it is hardly likely that the temporary protection which Paul received from the Roman government prevented him from seeing that its spirit was such that it must ultimately be ranged against Christianity. One may note also, in arguing for the Roman reference of the man of sin, the figurative and enigmatic way in which Paul refers to the opposing power, a restraint that would be rendered necessary for reasons of prudence (compare Mark 13:14, and also the cryptograms used by the author of the Book of Revelation in referring to Rome). Paul has none of this reserve in referring to the persecuting Jewish world who "please not God, and are contrary to all men" (1 Thessalonians 2:15). And in view of the fact that the Jews were in disfavor in the Roman empire, as is proved by then recently issued decree of Claudius commanding all Jews to depart from Rome (Acts 18:2), and by the fact that to proclaim a man a Jew helped at that time to lash a mob into fury against him (Acts 16:20; Acts 19:34), it would seem hardly likely that Paul would expect the subtle and attractive deception that was to delude the World to come from Jerusalem; and particularly would this seem unlikely in view of the fact that Paul seems to be familiar with our Lord's prophecy of the swift destruction of Jerusalem, as is shown by his assertion in 1 Thessalonians 2:16, that wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
On the other hand, however, to make the man of sin a person or an influence coming from Judaism is supported by the fact that he is to sit in the temple of God, setting himself forth to be God (1 Thessalonians 2:4), and by the fact that the natural punishment for the rejection of their Messiah was that the Jews should be led to accept a false Messiah. Having opposed Him who came in the Father's name, they were doomed to accept one who came in his own name. Again, and far more important than this, is the fact that during nearly the whole of Paul's life it was the Roman empire that protected him, and the unbelieving Jews that formed the malicious, cunning and powerful opposition to his work and to the well-being and peace of his churches, and he could very well have felt that the final incarnation of evil was to come from the source which had crucified the Christ and which had thus far been chiefly instrumental in opposing the gospel. Moreover, this expectation that a mysterious power of evil should arise out of the Jewish world seems to be in harmony with the rest of the New Testament (Matthew 24:5, 23, 24 Revelation 11:3, 1, 8). It is the second alternative, therefore, that is, with misgivings, chosen by the present writer.
It may be objected that this cannot be the true Interpretation, as it was not fulfilled, but, on the contrary, it was Rome that became the gospel's most formidable foe. But this type of objection, if accepted as valid, practically puts a stop to all attempts at a historical interpretation of prophecy. It would force us to deny that the prophecies of the Old Testament, which are usually taken as referring to Christ, referred to Him at all, because plainly they were not literally fulfilled in the time and manner that the prophets expected them to be fulfilled. It would almost force us to deny that John the Baptist referred to Christ when he heralded the coming of the one who would burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire, because as the Gospels tell us Jesus did not fulfill this prophecy in the way John expected (Luke 7:19).
SeeMAN OF SIN.
2. Permanent Value of the Teaching concerning the Man of Sin:
Although Paul's prediction concerning the man of sin was not literally fulfilled, nevertheless his teaching has a permanent significance. It is always true in every battle for good that the Son of man does not come until the falling away comes and the man of sin is revealed. First, there is the fresh tide of enthusiasm and the promise of swift victory for the kingdom of heaven, but soon there is the reaction and the renascence of opposition in new and overwhelming power. The battle is to the death. And then above the smoke of the battle men see the sign of the coming of the Son of man with power and great glory; the conviction floods them that after all what Christ stands for is at the center of the universe and must prevail, and men begin to recognize Christ's principles as though they were natural law. This action and reaction followed by final victory takes place in practically all religious and reforming movements which involve the social reconstruction of society according to the principles of the Kingdom. It is exceedingly important that men should be delivered from shallow optimism. And this Epistle makes its contribution to that good end.
IV. Paul's Exhortation to Quiet Industry.
The exhortation that the brethren should work with quietness and earn their own bread (2 Thessalonians 3:12) is full of interest to those who are studying the psychological development of the early Christians under the influence of the great mental stimulus that came to them from the gospel. Some were so excited by the new dignity that had come to them as members of the Christian society, and by the new hopes that had been inspired in their minds, that they considered themselves above the base necessity of manual labor. This is not an infrequent phenomenon among new converts to Christianity in heathen lands. Paul would have none of it. Fortunately he could point to his own example. He not only labored among them to earn his own livelihood, but he worked until muscles ached and body rebelled (2 These 3:8).
Paul saw that the gospel was to be propagated chiefly by its splendid effects on the lives of all classes of society, and he realized that almost the first duty of the church was to be respected, and so he not only exhorts the individual members to independence, but he lays down the principle that no economic parasite is to be tolerated in the church. "If any man will not work, neither let him eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). This forms an important complement to the teaching of Jesus (Matthew 5:42): "Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away." LITERATURE.
Seeunder 1 Thessalonians.
Rollin Hough Walker
TITUS, EPISTLE TO
See PASTORAL EPISTLES.
TITUS or TITIUS JUSTUS
(Titos or Titios Ioustos (Acts 18:7)): Titus or Titius-for the manuscripts vary in regard to the spelling-was the prenomen of a certain Corinthian, a Jewish proselyte (sebomenos ton Theon). See PROSELYTE). His name seems also to indicate that he was a Roman by birth. He is altogether a different person from Titus, Paul's assistant and companion in some of his journeys, to whom also the Epistle to Titus is addressed.
Titus or Titius Justus was not the "host of Paul at Corinth" (HDB, article "Justus," p. 511), for Luke has already narrated that, when Paul came to Corinth, "he abode with" Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:3). What is said of Titius Justus is that when the Jews in Corinth opposed themselves to Paul and blasphemed when he testified that Jesus was the Christ, then Paul ceased to preach the gospel in the Jewish synagogue as he had formerly done, and "he departed thence, and went into the house of a certain man named Titus Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue" (Acts 18:7).
"Titius Justus was evidently a Roman or a Latin, one of the coloni of the colony Corinth. Like the centurion Cornelius, he had been attracted to the synagogue. His citizenship would afford Paul an opening to the more educated class of the Corinthian population" (Ramsay, Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen, 256).
Paul's residence in Corinth continued for a year and a half, followed without a break by another period indicated in the words, he "tarried after this yet many days" (Acts 18:11, 18), and during the whole of this time he evidently used the house of Titius Justus, for the purposes both of preaching the gospel and of gathering the church together for Christian worship and instruction, "teaching the word of God among them" (Acts 18:11).
Titius Justus, therefore, must have been a wealthy man, since he possessed a house in which there was an apartment sufficiently large to be used for both of these purposes; and he himself must have been a most enthusiastic member of the church, when in a period of protracted difficulty and persecution, he welcomed Paul to his house, that he might use it as the meeting-place of the church in Corinth.
See JUSTUS, (2).
BARNABAS, EPISTLE OF
See APOCRYPHAL EPISTLES.
JEREMIAH, EPISTLE OF
See JEREMY, THE EPISTLE OF.