International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
CORINTHIANS, SECOND EPISTLE TO THE
I. TEXT, AUTHENTICITY AND DATE
1. Internal Evidence
2. External Evidence
II. RESUME OF EVENTS
III. THE NEW SITUATION
1. The Offender
2. The False Teachers
3. The Painful Visit
4. The Severe Letter
IV. HISTORICAL RECONSTRUCTION
V. INTEGRITY OF THE EPISTLE
1. 2 Corintians 6:14-7:1
2. 2 Corintians 10:1-13:10
VI. CONTENTS OF THE EPISTLE
1. 2 Corintians 1-7
2. 2 Corintians 8-9
3. 2 Corintians 10-13
VII. VALUE OF THE EPISTLE LITERATURE
I. Text, Authenticity and Date.
1. Internal Evidence:
Compare what has already been said in the preceding article. In the two important 5th-century uncials, Codex Alexandrinus (A) and Codex Ephraemi (C), portions of the text are lacking. As to the genuineness internal evidence very vividly attests it. The distinctive elements of Pauline theology and eschatology, expressed in familiar Pauline terms, are manifest throughout. Yet the epistle is not doctrinal or didactic, but an intensely personal document. Its absorbing interest is in events which were profoundly agitating Paul and the Corinthians at the time, straining their relations to the point of rupture, and demanding strong action on Paul's part. Our imperfect knowledge of the circumstances necessarily hinders a complete comprehension, but the references to these events and to others in the personal history of the apostle are so natural, and so manifestly made in good faith, that no doubt rises in the reader's mind but that he is in the sphere of reality, and that the voice he hears is the voice of the man whose heart and nerves were being torn by the experiences through which he was passing. However scholars may differ as to the continuity and integrity of the text, there is no serious divergence among them in the opinion that all parts of the epistle are genuine writings of the apostle.
2. External Evidence:
Externally, the testimony of the sub-apostolic age, though not so frequent or precise as in the case of 1 Corinthians, is still sufficiently clear to establish the existence and use of the epistle in the 2nd century Clement of Rome is silent when he might rather have been expected to use the epistle (compare Kennedy, Second and Third Corinthians, 142); but it is quoted by Polycarp (Ad Phil., ii.4 and vi.1), and in the Epistle to Diognetus 5 12, while it is amply attested to by Irenaeus, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria.
It was written from Macedonia (probably from Philippi) either in the autumn of the same year as that in which 1 Corinthians was written, 54 or 55 A.D., or in the autumn of the succeeding year.
II. Resume of Events.
Great difficulty exists as to the circumstances in which the epistle was written, and as to the whole situation between 1 and 2 Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians Paul had intimated his intention of visiting the Corinthians and wintering with them, coming to them through Macedonia (1 Corinthians 16:5-7; compare also Acts 19:21). In 2 Corinthians 1:15, 16 he refers to a somewhat different plan, Corinth-Macedonia-Corinth-Judaea; and describes this return from Macedonia to Corinth as a second or double benefit. But if this plan, on which he and his friends had counted, had not been entirely carried out, it had been for good reason (2 Corinthians 1:17), and not due to mere fickleness or light-hearted change to suit his own convenience. It was because he would "spare" them (2 Corinthians 1:23), and not come to them "again with sorrow" (2 Corinthians 2:1). That is, he had been with them, but there had been such a profound disturbance in their relations that he dared not risk a return meantime; instead, he had written a letter to probe and test them, "out of much affliction and anguish of heart. with many tears" (2 Corinthians 2:4) Thank God, this severe letter had accomplished its mission. It had produced sorrow among them (2 Corinthians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 7:8, 9)but it had brought their hearts back to him with the old allegiance, with great clearing of themselves, and fear and longing and zeal (2 Corinthians 7:11). There was a period, however, of waiting for knowledge of this issue, which was to him a period of intense anxiety; he had even nervously regretted that he had written as he did (2 Corinthians 7:5-8). Titus, who had gone as his representative to Corinth, was to return with a report of how this severe letter had been received, and when Titus failed to meet him at Troas 2 Corinthians 2:13, he had "no relief for his spirit," but pushed on eagerly to Macedonia to encounter him the sooner. Then came the answer, and the lifting of the intolerable burden from his mind. "He that comforteth the lowly, even God, comforted" him (2 Corinthians 7:6). The Corinthians had been swayed by a godly sorrow and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8), and the sky had cleared again with almost unhoped-for brightness. One who had offended (2 Corinthians 2:5 and 2 Corinthians 7:12)-but whose offense is not distinctly specified-had been disciplined by the church; indeed, in the revulsion of feeling against him, and in sympathy for the apostle, he had been punished so heavily that there was a danger of passing to an extreme, and plunging him into despair (2 Corinthians 2:7). Paul accordingly pleads for leniency and forgiveness, lest further resentment should lead only to a further and sadder wrong (2:6-11). But in addition to this offender there were others, probably following in his train, who had carried on a relentless attack against the apostle both in his person and in his doctrine. He earnestly defends himself against their contemptuous charges of fleshliness and cowardice (chapter 10), and crafty venality (2 Corinthians 12:16, 17). Another Jesus is preached, a different spirit, a different gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4). They "commend themselves" (2 Corinthians 10:12), but are false apostles, deceitful workers, ministers of Satan, fashioning themselves into ministers of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:13, 14). Their attacks are vehemently repelled in an eloquent apologia (chapters 11 and 12), and he declares that when he comes the third time they will not be spared (2 Corinthians 13:2). Titus, accompanied by other well-known brethren, is again to be the representative of the apostle 2 Corinthians 8:6, 17. At no great interval Paul himself followed, thus making his third visit (2 Corinthians 12:14; 2 Corinthians 13:1), and so far fulfilled his original purpose that he spent the winter peacefully in Corinth (compare Acts 20:2, 3 Romans 15:25-27 and 1 Corinthians 16:23).
III. The New Situation.
It is manifest that we are in the presence of a new and unexpected situation, whose development is not clearly defined, and concerning which we have elsewhere no source of information. To elucidate it, the chief points requiring attention are:
(1) The references to the offender in 2 Corinthians 2 and 7, and to the false teachers, particularly in the later chapters of the ep.;
(2) the painful visit implicitly referred to in 2:1; and
(3) the letter described as written in tears and for a time regretted (2:4; 7:8).
1. The Offender:
The offender in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 had been guilty of incest, and Paul was grieved that the church of Corinth did not regard with horror a crime which even the pagan world would not have tolerated. His judgment on the case was uncompromising and the severest possible-that, in solemn assembly, in the name and with the power of the Lord Jesus, the church should deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. On the other hand, the offender in 2 Corinthians 2:5 is one who obviously has transgressed less heinously, and in a way more personal to the apostle. The church, roused by the apostle to show whether they indeed cared for him and stood by him (2 Corinthians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 13:7), had, by a majority, brought censure to bear on this man, and Paul now urged that matters should go no farther, lest an excess of discipline should really end in a triumph of Satan. It is not possible to regard such references as applying to the crime dealt with in 1 Corinthians. Purposely veiled as the statements are, it would yet appear that a personal attack had been made on the apostle; and the "many" in Corinth (2 Corinthians 2:6), having at length espoused his cause, Paul then deals with the matter in the generous spirit he might have been expected to display. Even if the offender were the same person, which is most improbable, for he can scarcely have been retained in the membership, the language is not language that could have been applied to the earlier case. There has been a new offense in new circumstances. The apostle had been grievously wronged in the presence of the church, and the Corinthians had not spontaneously resented the wrong. That is what wounded the apostle most deeply, and it is to secure their change in this respect that is his gravest concern.
2. The False Teachers:
Esp. in the later chapters of 2 Corinthians there are, as we have seen, descriptions of an opposition by false teachers that is far beyond anything met with in 1 Corinthians. There indeed we have a spirit of faction, associated with unworthy partiality toward individual preachers, but nothing to lead us to suspect the presence of deep and radical differences undermining the gospel. The general consensus of opinion is that this opposition was of a Judaizing type, organized and fostered by implacable anti-Pauline emissaries from Palestine, who now followed the track of the apostle in Achaia as they did in Galatia. As they arrogated to themselves a peculiar relation to Christ Himself ("Christ's men" and "ministers of Christ," 2 Corinthians 10:7; 2 Corinthians 11:13), it is possible that the Christus-party of 1 Corinthians (and possibly the Cephas-party) may have persisted and formed the nucleus round which these newcomers built up their formidable opposition. One man seems to have been conspicuous as their ring-leader (2 Corinthians 10:7, 11), and to have made himself specially obnoxious to the apostle. In all probability we may take it that he was the offender of 2 Corinthians 2 and 7. Under his influence the opposition audaciously endeavored to destroy the gospel of grace by personal attacks upon its most distinguished exponent. Paul was denounced as an upstart and self-seeker, destitute of any apostolic authority, and derided for the contemptible appearance he made in person, in contrast with the swelling words and presumptuous claims of his epistles It is clear, therefore, that a profound religious crisis had arisen among the Corinthians, and that there was a danger of their attachment to Paul and his doctrine being destroyed.
3. The Painful Visit:
2 Corinthians 12:14 and 2 Corinthians 13:1, 2 speak of a third visit in immediate prospect, and the latter passage also refers to a second visit that had been already accomplished; while 2:1 distinctly implies that a visit had taken place of a character so painful that the apostle would never venture to endure a similar one. As this cannot possibly refer to the first visit when the church was founded, and cannot easily be regarded as indicating anything previous to 1 Corinthians which never alludes to such an experience, we must conclude that the reference points to the interval between 1 and 2 Corinthians. It was then beyond doubt that the visit "with sorrow," which humbled him (2 Corinthians 12:21) and left such deep wounds, had actually taken place. "Any exegesis," says Weizsacker justly, "that would avoid the conclusion that Paul had already been twice in Corinth is capricious and artificial" (Apostolic Age, I, 343). Sabatier (Apostle Paul, 172 note) records his revised opinion: "The reference here (2 Corinthians 2:1) is to a second and quite recent visit, of which he retained a very sorrowful recollection, including it among the most bitter trials of his apostolical career."
4. The Severe Letter:
Paul not only speaks of a visit which had ended grievously, but also of a letter which he had written to deal with the painful circumstances, and as a kind of ultimatum to bring the whole matter to an issue (2 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:8). This letter was written because he could not trust himself meantime to another visit. He was so distressed and agitated that he wrote it "with many tears"; after it was written he repented of it; and until he knew its effect he endured torture so keen that he hastened to Macedonia to meet his messenger, Titus, halfway. It is impossible by any stretch of interpretation to refer this language to 1 Corinthians, which on the whole is dominated by a spirit of didactic calm, and by a consciousness of friendly rapport with its recipients. Even though there be in it occasional indications of strong feeling, there is certainly nothing that we can conceive the apostle might have wished to recall. The alternative has generally been to regard this as another case of a lost epistle Just as the writer of Acts appears to have been willing that the deplorable visit itself should drop into oblivion, so doubtless neither Paul nor the Corinthians would be very anxious to preserve an epistle which echoed with the gusts and storms of such a visit. On the other hand a strong tendency has set in to regard this intermediate epistle as at least in part preserved in 2 Corinthians 10-13, whose tone, it is universally admitted, differs from that of the preceding chapters in a remarkable way, not easily accounted for. The majority of recent writers seem inclined to favor this view, which will naturally fall to be considered under the head of "Integrity."
IV. Historical Reconstruction.
In view of such an interpretation, we may with considerable probability trace the course of events in the interval between 1 and 2 Corinthians as follows: After the dispatch of 1 Corinthians, news reached the apostle of a disquieting character; probably both Titus and Timothy, on returning from Corinth, reported the growing menace of the opposition fostered by the Judaizing party. Paul felt impelled to pay an immediate visit, and found only too sadly that matters had not been overstated. The opposition was strong and full of effrontery, and the whole trend of things was against him. In face of the congregation he was baffled and flouted. He returned to Ephesus, and poured out his indignation in a severe epistle, which he sent on by the hands of Titus. Before Titus could return, events took a disastrous form in Ephesus, and Paul was forced to leave that city in peril of his life. He went to Troas, but, unable to wait patiently there for tidings of the issue in Corinth, he crossed to Macedonia, and met Titus, possibly in Philippi. The report was happily reassuring; the majority of the congregation returned to their old attachment, and the heavy cloud of doubt and anxiety was dispelled from the apostle's mind. He then wrote again-the present epistle-and forwarded it by Titus and other brethren, he himself following a little later, and finally wintering in Corinth as he had originally planned. If it be felt that the interval between spring and autumn of the same year is too brief for these events, the two epistles must be separated by a period of nearly 18 months, 1 Corinthians being referred to the spring of 54 or 55, and 2 Corinthians to the autumn of 55 or 56 A.D. (Reference on the reconstruction should especially be made to Weizsacker's Apostolic Age, English translation, I; to Sabatier's Note to the English edition (1893) of his Apostle Paul; and to Robertson's article in Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes).)
V. Integrity of the Epistle.
Although the genuineness of the various parts of the epistle is scarcely disputed, the homogeneity is much debated. Semler and some later writers, including Clemen (Einheitlichkeit), have thought that 2 Corinthians 9 should be eliminated as logically inconsistent with chapter 8, and as evidently forming part of a letter to the converts of Achaia. But the connection with chapter 8 is too close to permit of severance, and the logical objection, founded on the phraseology of 9:1, is generally regarded as hypercritical. There are two sections, however, whose right to remain integral parts of 2 Corinthians has been more forcibly challenged.
1. 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1:
The passage 2 Corinthians 6:14 to 2 Corinthians 7:1 deals with the inconsistency and peril of intimate relations with the heathen, and is felt to be incongruous with the context. No doubt it comes strangely after an appeal to the Corinthians to show the apostle the same frankness and kindness that he is showing them; whereas 7:2 follows naturally and links itself closely to such an appeal. When we remember that the particular theme of the lost letter referred to in 1 Corinthians 5:9 was the relation of the converts to the immoral, it is by no means unlikely that we have here preserved a stray fragment of that epistle
2. 2 Corinthians 10:1-13:10:
It is universally acknowledged that there is a remarkable change in the tone of the section 2 Corinthians 10:1-13:10, as Compared with that of the previous chapters In the earlier chapters there is relief at the change which Titus has reported as having taken place in Corinth, and the spirit is one of gladness and content; but from chapter 10 onward the hostility to the apostle is unexpectedly represented as still raging, and as demanding the most strenuous treatment. The opening phrase, "Now I Paul" (2 Corinthians 10:1), is regarded as indicating a distinctive break from the previous section with which Timothy is associated (2 Corinthians 1:1), while the concluding verse, 2 Corinthians 13:11 to end, seem fittingly to close that section, but to be abruptly out of harmony with the polemic that ends at 2 Corinthians 13:10. Accordingly it is suggested that 13:11 should immediately follow 9:15, and that 2 Corinthians 10:1-13:10 be regarded as a lengthy insertion from some other epistle. Those who, while acknowledging the change of tone, yet maintain the integrity of the epistle, do so on the ground that the apostle was a man of many moods, and that it is characteristic of him to make unexpected and even violent transitions; that new reports of a merely scotched antagonism may come in to ruffle and disturb his comparative contentment; and that in any case he might well deem it advisable finally to deliver his whole soul on a matter over which he had brooded and suffered deeply, so that there might be no mistake about the ground being cleared when he arrived in person. The question is still a subject of keen discussion, and is not one on which it is easy to pronounce dogmatically. On the whole, however, it must be acknowledged that the preponderance of recent opinion is in favor of theory of interpolation. Hausrath (Der Vier-Capitel-Brief des Paulus an die Korinther, 1870) gave an immense impetus to the view that this later section really represents the painful letter referred to in 2 Corinthians 2 and 7. As that earlier letter, however, must have contained references to the personal offender, the present section, which omits all such references, can be regarded as at most only a part of it. This theory is ably and minutely expounded by Schmiedel (Hand-Kommentar); and Pfleiderer, Lipsius, Clemen, Krenkel, von Soden, McGiffert, Cone, Plummer, Rendall, Moffatt, Adeney, Peake, and Massie are prominent among its adherents. J. H. Kennedy (Second and Third Cor) presents perhaps the ablest and fullest argument for it that has yet appeared in English. On the other hand Sanday (Encyclopaedia Biblica) declares against it, and Robertson (Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes)) regards it as decidedly not proven; while critics of such weight as Holtzmann, Beyschlag, Klopper, Weizsacker, Sabatier, Godet, Bernard, Denney, Weiss, and Zahn are all to be reckoned as advocates of the integrity of the epistle.
VI. Contents of the Epistle.
The order of matter in 2 Corintians is quite clearly defined. There are three main divisions:
(1) chapters 1-7;
(2) chapters 8-9; and
(3) chapters 10-13.
1. 2 Corinthians 1-7:
The first seven chapters in 2 Corinthians as a whole are taken up with a retrospect of the events that have recently transpired, joyful references to the fact that the clouds of grief in connection with them have been dispelled, and that the evangelical ministry as a Divine trust and power is clearly manifested. After a cordial salutation, in which Timothy is associated, Paul starts at once to express his profound gratitude to God for the great comfort that had come to him by the good news from Corinth, rejoicing in it as a spiritual enrichment that will make his ministry still more fruitful to the church (2 Corinthians 1:3-11). He professes his sincerity in all his relations with the Corinthians, and particularly vindicates it in connection with a change in the plan which had originally promised a return ("a second benefit") to Corinth; his sole reason for refraining, and for writing a painful letter instead, being his desire to spare them and to prove them (2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 2:4, 9). Far from harboring any resentment against the man who had caused so much trouble, he sincerely pleads that his punishment by the majority should go no farther, but that forgiveness should now reign, lest the Adversary should gain an advantage over them (2 Corinthians 2:5-11). It was indeed an agonizing experience until the moment he met Titus, but the relief was all the sweeter and more triumphant when God at length gave it, as he might have been sure He would give it to a faithful and soul-winning servant of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:12-17). He does not indeed wish to enter upon any further apologies or self-commendation. Some believe greatly in letters of commendation, but his living testimonial is in his converts. This he has, not of himself, but entirely through God, who alone has made him an efficient minister of the new and abiding covenant of the Spirit, whose glory naturally excels that of the old dispensation which fadeth because it really cannot bring life. Regarding this glorious ministry he must be bold and frank. It needs no veil as if to conceal its evanescence. Christ presents it unveiled to all who turn to Him, and they themselves, reflecting His glory, are spiritually transformed (2 Corinthians 3:1-18). As for those who by God's mercy have received such a gospel ministry, it is impossible for them to be faint-hearted in its exercise, although the eyes of some may be blinded to it, because the god of this world enslaves them (2 Corinthians 4:4). It is indeed wonderful that ministers of this grace should be creatures so frail, so subject to pressure and affliction, but it is not inexplicable. So much the more obvious is it that all the power and glory of salvation are from God alone (2 Corinthians 4:7, 15). Yea, even if one be called to die in this ministry, that is but another light and momentary affliction. It is but passing from a frail earthly tent to abide forever in a heavenly home (2 Corinthians 5:1). Who would not long for it, that this mortal may be swallowed up in immortality? Courage, therefore, is ours to the end, for that end only means the cessation of our separation from Christ, whom it is a joy to serve absent or present. And present we shall all ultimately be before Him on the judgment throne (2 Corinthians 5:10). That itself unspeakably deepens the earnestness with which preachers of the gospel seek to persuade men. It is the love of Christ constraining them (2 Corinthians 5:14) in the ministry of reconciliation, that they should entreat men as ambassadors on Christ's behalf (2 Corinthians 5:20). So sacred and responsible a trust has subdued the apostle's own life, and is indeed the key to its manifold endurance, and to the earnestness with which he has striven to cultivate every grace, and to submit himself to every discipline (2 Corinthians 6:1-10). Would God the Corinthians might open their hearts to him as he does to them! (Let them have no fellowship with iniquity, but perfect holiness in the fear of God, 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1.) He has never wronged them; they are enshrined in his heart, living or dying; he glories in them, and is filled with comfort in all his affliction (2 Corinthians 6:11-13; 2 Corinthians 7:2-4). For what blessed comfort that was that Titus brought him in Macedonia to dispel his fears, and to show that the things he regretted and grieved to have written had done no harm after all, but had rather wrought in them the joyful change for which he longed! Now both they and he knew how dear he was to them. Titus, too, was overjoyed by the magnanimity of their reception of him. The apostle's cup is full, and "in everything he is of good courage concerning them" (2 Corinthians 7:16).
2. 2 Corinthians 8-9:
In the second section, 2 Corinthians 8-9, the apostle, now abundantly confident of their good-will, exhorts the Corinthians on the subject of the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem. He tells them of the extraordinary liberality of the Macedonian churches, and invites them to emulate it, and by the display of this additional grace to make full proof of their love (2 Corinthians 8:1-8). Nay, they have a higher incentive than the liberality of Macedonia, even the self-sacrifice of Christ Himself (2 Corinthians 8:9). Wherefore let them go on with the good work they were so ready to initiate a year ago, giving out of a willing mind, as God hath enabled them (2 Corinthians 8:10-15). Further to encourage them he sends on Titus and other well-known and accredited brethren, whose interest in them is as great as his own, and he is hopeful that by their aid the matter will be completed, and all will rejoice when he comes, bringing with him probably some of those of Macedonia, to whom he has already been boasting of their zeal (2 Corinthians 8:16-9:5). Above all, let them remember that important issues are bound up with this grace of Christian liberality. It is impossible to reap bountifully, if we sow sparingly. Grudging and compulsory benevolence is a contradiction, but God loveth and rewardeth a cheerful giver. This grace blesseth him that gives and him that takes. Many great ends are served by it. The wants of the needy are supplied, men's hearts are drawn affectionately to one another, thanksgivings abound, and God himself is glorified (2 Corinthians 9:6-15).
3. 2 Corinthians 10-13:
The third section, 2 Corinthians 10-13, as has been pointed out, is a spirited and even passionate polemic, in the course of which the Judaizing party in Corinth is vigorously assailed. The enemies of the apostle have charged him with being very bold and courageous when he is absent, but humble enough when he is present. He hopes the Corinthians will not compel him to show his courage (2 Corinthians 10:2). It is true, being human, he walks in the flesh, but not in the selfish and cowardly way his opponents suggest. The weapons of his warfare are not carnal, yet are they mighty before God to cast down such strongholds as theirs, such vain imaginations and disobedience. Some boast of being "Christ's," but that is no monopoly; he also is Christ's. They think his letters are mere "sound and fury, signifying nothing"; by and by they will discover their mistake. If he should glory in his authority, he is justified, for Corinth was verily part of his God-appointed province, and he at least did not there enter on other men's labors. But it would be well if men who gloried confined themselves to glorying "in the Lord." For after all it is His commendation alone that is of any permanent value (2 Corinthians 10:3-18). Will the adepts - Corinthians bear with him in a little of this foolish boasting? Truly he ventures on it out of concern for them (2 Corinthians 11:2).
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(ho deuteros thanatos): An expression, peculiar to the Book of Rev.(Revelation 2:11; Revelation 20:6, 14; 21:8) in Scripture, denoting the final penalty of the unrighteous; parallel with another expression likewise peculiar, "the lake of fire," in Revelation 20:14; Revelation 21:8. See ESCHATOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
ESDRAS, THE SECOND (FOURTH) BOOK OF; APOCALYPTIC ESDRAS
Or The Apocalyptic Esdras:
1. Name 2. Contents 3. Language 4. Versions 5. Origin of the Book 6. Date
This book was not received by the Council of Trent as canonical, nor has it ever been acknowledged as such by the Anglican church.
The book is not found in the Septuagint and no complete copy of the Greek text is known, though at one time it did exist. The oldest extant name is "The Prophet Ezra" (Esdras ho prophetes; see Clement of Alexandria, Strom., iii.16): It has been often called the Latin Esdras because it exists more completely in that language; compare the name Greek Esdras for 1 Esdras.
3 Esdras is the designation in old editions of the Vulgate, 1 Esdras being Ezra and Nehemiah, 2 Esdras denoting what in English is called 1 Esdras. But in editions of the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) later than the Council of Trent, and also in Walton's Polyglot, Ezra is called 1 Esdras, Nehemiah, 2 Esdras, 1 Esdras = 3 Esdras, the present book (the Latin Esdras) being known as 4 Esdras. In authorized copies of the Vulgate, i.e. in those commonly used, this book is lacking. On account of its contents, Westcott, following the example of Anastasius Sinaita (bishop of Antioch from 559 A.D.), called the book the "Apocalypse of Esdras." But as Tischendorf in 1866 edited a later and inferior work with this title the present writer suggests the name "The Apocalyptic Esdras." Of all the Jewish apocalypses this is the sublimest and most pleading.
See APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE, sec. II, 1, 5.
The original work consists of 2 Esdras 3-14, chapters 1 and 15 being late additions. The entire book of 16 chapters exists in the Latin version only, the other versions containing chapters 3-14 only. The real 2nd (apocalyptic) Esdras, consisting of chapters 3-14, is made up of 7 visions given to Ezra in exile 30 years after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The drift of these visions is, How can a just and loving God allow His own people to suffer so much? The problem thus raised is fully and beautifully dealt with. For lack of space the present writer must refer for a fuller analysis to the article APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE, sec. I, 5, and the literature there cited. For 2 Esdras 1 and 15 see under ESDRAS 5 AND 6.
Though no complete text even of 2 Esdras 3-14 has survived, a careful examination of the Latin shows that it has been made from a Greek original.
(1) Some fragments of the Greek can be traced, as 5:35 in Clement of Alexandria and 8:23 in the Apostolical Constitutions.
(2) The order of the twelve prophets in 1:39 follows that in the Septuagint.
(3) The Latin version bears throughout clear traces of Greek idiom.
Thus the gen. is used with the comparative (5:3; 11:29); we have the genitive (not ablative) absolute in 10:9, the double negative and the use of de (Greek apo) and ex (Greek ek) with the genitive in various parts. But there are cogent reasons for concluding that the Greek version implied in the Latin itself implies a Hebrew original, and the proof is similar to that of a Greek version as the basis of the Latin In the Greek there are idioms which are Hebrew, not Greek, not even in their frequency Hellenistic Greek. The participle used to strengthen the finite verb is the regular Hebrew idiom of the absolute with the finite verb: see 4:2 (excedens excessit); 5:30 (odiens odisti). For other examples see Gunkel (in Kautzsch, Die Apokryphen u. Pseud. des Altes Testament, 332); R. H. Charles (Enc Brit, X, 106). Ewald was the first to defend a Hebrew original, but in 1866 he was followed by his distinguished pupil Wellhausen and also by R. H. Charles (Apoc Bar, lxxii).
The Latin version is far the most important and on it the English Versions of the Bible depends. But all published editions of the Latin text (those of Fabricius, Hilgenfeld, Fritzsche, etc.) go back to one and the same MS, the so-called Codex Sangermanensis (date 822), which omits a large part of the text between 2 Esdras 7:36 and 7:37 Any reader of the English text can see the lack of continuity between these verses. In 1875 Bensly published the missing fragment with an Introduction and critical notes. In 1895 Bensly and James published a critical edition of The Fourth Book of Ezra in Latin, restoring the missing fragment and correcting with the aid of the best-known manuscripts.
(2) Other Versions.
There are Syriac (Peshitta), Ethiopic, Arabic, Armenian and yet other VSS, but all depend on the lost Greek except one of the two extant Arabic translations. The number and variety of versions show that 2 Esdras was widely circulated. By the Greek and Latin Fathers it was quoted as a genuine prophetical work. Its importance in the estimation of the medieval Roman church is vouched for by the fact that it has reached us in a number of wellknown manuscripts of the Scriptures, and that it was added to the authorized Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) as an appendix.
5. Origin of the Book:
Two main views may briefly be noted:
(1) That of Kabisch (Das vierte Buch Esra, 1889) who holds that the editor of the book freely used a goodly number of sources, subtracting, adding and altering to suit his purpose. He gives a list of probable sources. R. H. Charles (Enc Brit, X, 107) is inclined to adopt this analysis.
(2) Gunkel (loc. cit.) maintains and tries to prove that the book is the production of a single writer. Yet he admits that the book contains a large number of inconsistencies which he explains by assuming that the editor made free use of oral and written traditions. The two views do not therefore stand very far apart, for both take for granted that several sources have been used. It is simply a question of more or less.
Wellhausen is probably right in saying that the author of 2 (4) Esdras had before him the Apocrypha of Baruch, written under the impression awakened by the destruction of Jerusalem in 71 A.D.
The opinion of the best modern scholars is that the book was written somewhere in the East in the last decade of the 1st century of our era. This conclusion rests mainly on the most likely interpretation of the vision of the Eagle and the Lion in 2 Esdras 11:1-12:51; but also on the fact that Clement of Alexandria (died 217 A.D.) quotes the Greek of 5:35.
Besides the literature referred to above see Schurer, A Hist of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, II, iii, 93 (Ger. edition 4, III, 315); the articles in HDB (Thackeray) and Encyclopedia Biblica (James); the New Sch-Herz under the word "Pseudepigrapha, Old Testament" (G. Beer), and in the present work under APOCRYPHA and APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE.
T. Witton Davies
PETER, THE SECOND EPISTLE OF
I. EXTERNAL EVIDENCE IN FAVOR OF ITS APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY
1. Ancient Opinion
2. Modern Opinion
3. Dr. Chase's View
II. INTERNAL EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF ITS APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY
1. Style and Diction
2. Reason of Dissimilarities
3. Claim to Petrine Authorship
4. Christian Earnestness
5. Relation to Apostles
6. Autobiographical Allusions
7. Quoted by Jude
III. DOCTRINAL TEACHINGS OF THE EPISTLE
1. Saving Knowledge
(3) Inerrancy of Sources
2. The Three Worlds
(1) The Old World
(2) The Present World
(3) The New World
The Second Epistle of Peter comes to us with less historical support of its genuineness than any other book of the New Testament. In consequence, its right to a place in the Canon is seriously doubted by some and denied by others. There are those who confidently assign it to the Apostolic age and to the apostle whose name it bears in the New Testament, while there are those who as confidently assign it to post-apostolic times, and repudiate its Petrine authorship. It is not the aim of this article to trace the history of the two opinions indicated above, nor to cite largely the arguments employed in the defense of the Epistle, or those in opposition to it; nor to attempt to settle a question which for more than a thousand years the wisest and best men of the Christian church have been unable to settle. Such a procedure would in this case be the height of presumption. What is here attempted is to point out as briefly as may be some of the reasons for doubting its canonicity, on the one hand, and those in its support, on the other.
I. External Evidence in Favor of Its Apostolic Authority.
1. Ancient Opinion:
It must be admitted at the very outset that the evidence is meager. The first writer who mentions it by name is Origen (circa 240 A.D.). In his homily on Josh, he speaks of the two Epistles of Peter. In another place he quotes 2 Peter 1:4: "partakers of the divine nature," and gives it the name of Scripture. But Origen is careful to say that its authority was questioned: "Peter has left one acknowledged Epistle, and perhaps a second, for this is contested." Eusebins, bishop of Caesarea, regarded it with even more suspicion than did Origen, and accordingly he placed it among the disputed books (Antilegomena). Jerome knew the scruples which many entertained touching the Epistle, but notwithstanding, he included it in his Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) Version. The main reason for Jerome's uncertainty about it he states to be "difference of style from 1 Peter." He accounts for the difference by supposing that the apostle "made use of two different interpreters." As great teachers and scholars as Origen, Eusebius, and Jerome, e.g. Athanasius, Augustine, Epiphanius, Rufinus and Cyril, received it as genuine. At the Reformation Erasmus rejected 2 Peter; Luther seems to have had no doubt of its genuineness; while Calvin felt some hesitancy because of the "discrepancies between it and the First." In the 4th century, two church councils (Laodicea, circa 372, and Carthage, 397) formally recognized it and placed it in the Canon as equal in authority with the other books of the New Testament.
2. Modern Opinion:
The opinion of modern scholars as to references in post-apostolic literature to 2 Peter is not only divided, but in many instances antagonistic. Salmon, Warfield, Zahn and others strongly hold that such references are to be found in the writings of the 2nd century, perhaps in one or two documents of the 1st. They insist with abundant proof in support of their contention that Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, the Shepherd of Hermas, and the Didache, and Clement of Rome, were all acquainted with the Epistle and made allusions to it in their writings. Weighing as honestly and as thoroughly as one can the citations made from that literature, one is strongly disposed to accept the evidence as legitimate and conclusive.
3. Dr. Chase's View:
On the other side, Professor Chase (HDB) has subjected all such references and allusions in the primitive writings to a very keen and searching criticism, and it must be frankly confessed that he has reduced the strength of the evidence and argument very greatly. But Professor Chase himself, from the remains of the ancient literature, and from the internal evidence of the Epistle itself, arrives at the conclusion that 2 Peter is not at all an apostolic document, that it certainly was not written by Peter, nor in the 1st century of our era, but about the middle of the 2nd century, say 150 A.D. If this view is accepted, we must pronounce the Epistle a forgery, pseudonymous and pseudepigraphic, with no more right to be in the New Testament than has the Apocalypse of Peter or the romance of the Shepherd of Hermas.
II. Internal Evidence in Support of Its Apostolic Authority.
1. Style and Diction:
At first sight, this seems to be not altogether reassuring, but looking deeper into the letter itself we arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. Difference of style between the two Epistles attributed to Peter is given as one prominent reason for questioning the validity of the Second. It is mainly if not entirely on this ground that Jerome, Calvin and others hesitated to receive it. It is noteworthy that in the earlier times objections were not urged because of its relation to Jude-its borrowing from Jude, as is often charged in our days. Its alleged dissimilarity to 1 Peter in diction, structure, and measurably in its contents, explains why it was discredited. Admitting that there is substantial ground for this criticism, nevertheless there are not a few instances in which words rarely found in the other Biblical books are common to the two Epistles. Some examples are given in proof: "precious" (1 Peter 1:7, 19 2 Peter 1:1) (a compound), occurring often in Rev, not often in other books; "virtue" (1 Peter 2:9, the King James Version margin; 2 Peter 1:3), found elsewhere only in Philippians 4:8; "supply" (1 Peter 4:11 2 Peter 1:5), rare in other books; "love of brethren" (1 Peter 1:22 2 Peter 1:7 margin), only in three places besides; "behold" (1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 3:2 (verbal form); 2 Peter 1:16) (eyewitnesses), not found elsewhere in the New Testament; "without blemish," "without spot" (1 Peter 1:19 2 Peter 3:14) (order of words reversed); also positive side (2 Peter 2:13), "spots and blemishes"; the words do not occur elsewhere; "ungodly" (1 Peter 4:18 2 Peter 2:5; 2 Peter 3:7) occurs in but three other places, except Jude, which has it three times.
2. Reason of Dissimilarities:
Besides, there are many striking similarities in thought and diction in the two Epistles. Two instances are given. In the First the saved are described as the "elect" (1 Peter 1:1), and as "called" (1 Peter 2:21). In the Second, the two great truths are brought together (2 Peter 1:10). Likewise, in both stress is laid upon prophecy (1 Peter 1:10-12 2 Peter 1:19-21). Now, all this tends to prove that the writer of the Second Epistle was well acquainted with the peculiarity of diction employed in the First, and that he made use purposely of its uncommon terms, or, if the Second was written by another than the apostle, he succeeded surprisingly well in imitating his style. The latter alternative does not merit discussion. The differences arise mainly out of the subjects treated in the two, and the design which the writer seems to have kept constantly in view. In the First, he sought to comfort, strengthen and sustain his persecuted brethren; this is his supreme aim. In the Second he is anxious to warn and to shield those whom he addresses as to impending dangers more disastrous and more to be feared than the sufferings inflicted by a hostile world. In the First, judgment had begun at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17, 18), and believers were to arm, not to resist their persecutors, but for martyrdom (1 Peter 4:1). But in the Second, a very different condition of things is brought to view. Ungodly men holding degrading principles and practicing shocking immoralities were threatening to invade the Christian brotherhood. Evil of a most vicious sort was detected by the watchful eye of the writer, and he knew full well that if suffered to continue and grow, as assuredly it would, utter ruin for the cause he loved would ensue. Therefore he forewarns and denounces the tendency with the spirit and energy of a prophet of God.
3. Claim to Petrine Authorship:
2 Peter opens with the positive statement of Peter's authorship: "Simon ["Symeon," Nestle, Weymouth] Peter, a servant.... of Jesus Christ." The insertion of "Symeon," the old Hebrew name, in the forefront of the document is significant. If a forger had been writing in Peter's name he would have begun his letter almost certainly by copying the First Epistle and simply written, "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ." Note also that "servant" is introduced into the Second Epistle, but absent from the First. He designates himself as a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. "Although several pseudonymous writings appear in early Christian literature, there is no Christian document of value written by a forger who uses the name of an apostle" (Dods, SBD). If this important statement is accepted at its full worth, it goes far to settle the question of authorship. Both "servant" and "apostle" appear in the opening sentence, and the writer claims both for himself.
4. Christian Earnestness:
Furthermore, the writer is distinctively a Christian; he addresses those who "have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and the Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:1). His is the same precious faith which all the saints enjoy; his also the exceeding great and precious promises of God, and he expects with all other believers to be made a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3, 4). Is it at all probable that one with such a faith and such expectations would deliberately forge the name of Simon Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ? The writer is unsparing in his denunciations of false teachers, corrupters of others, and perverters of the truth. He instances the fall of the angels, the destruction of Sodom, the rebuke of Balaam, as examples of the doom of those who know the truth and yet live in shameful sin and crime. Would a Christian and servant of Jesus Christ be at all likely to commit in the most flagrant manner the things he so vehemently condemns? If the writer was not the apostle Peter, he was a false teacher, a corrupter of others, and a hypocrite, which seems incredible to us.
5. Relation of Apostles:
Moreover, he associates himself with the other apostles (2 Peter 3:2), is in full sympathy with Paul and is acquainted with Paul's Epistles (2 Peter 3:15, 16), and he holds and teaches the same fundamental truth. An apostolic spirit breathes through this document such as is generally absent from spurious writings and such as a forger does not exhibit. He is anxiously concerned for the purity of the faith and for the holiness and fidelity of believers. He exhorts them to give "diligence that ye may be found in peace, without spot and blameless in his sight," and that they "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:14, 18). All this and much more of like devout teaching is apostolic in tone and betokens genuineness and reality.
6. Autobiographical Allusions:
Still further, the writer appeals to certain facts in the life of Peter that are almost autobiographical. For example, he speaks of "putting off of my tabernacle.... even as our Lord Jesus Christ signified unto me" (2 Peter 1:13, 14). The reference undoubtedly is to John 13:36; John 21:18, 19. He claims to have been a witness of the Transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16-18). He indirectly claims the inspiration without which true prophecy is impossible (2 Peter 1:19-21). He asserts that this is his "second epistle" (2 Peter 3:1). This testimony on the part of the writer is personal, emphatic and direct. It reads much like Peter's plain way of speaking of himself at the Council of Jerusalem, "Ye know that a good while ago God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel, and believe" (Acts 15:7).
7. Quoted by Jude:
Once more, Jude appears to quote from 2 Peter (see JUDE). The question of the priority of the two Epistles is by no means settled. Many recent writers give the precedence to Jude, others to Peter. One of the highest authority, by Zahn (New Testament, II, 238;), argues with great force in support of the view that Peter's is the older and that Jude cites from it. The arguments in favor of this latter belief are here only summarized:
(1) Jude cites from writings other than Scripture, as the apocryphal Book of Enoch and perhaps also from the Assumption of Moses. Peter scarcely quotes from any source. The former would be more likely to cite 2 Peter 2-3:3 than the latter from Jude 1:4-16. The resemblance between these two sections of the Epistles is so close that one must have drawn both thoughts and language from the other, or both availed themselves of the same documentary source. Of this latter supposition antiquity furnishes no hint. The differences are as marked as the resemblances, and hence, the one who cites from the other is no servile copyist. The real difference between the two is that between prediction and fulfillment.
(2) Peter predicts the advent of the "false teachers" (2 Peter 2:1). His principal verbs are in the future tense (2 Peter 2:1, 2, 3, 12, 13). He employs the present tense indeed in describing the character and the conduct of the libertines (2 Peter 2:17, 18), but their presence and their disastrous teaching he puts in the future (2 Peter 2:13, 14). The deadly germs were there when he wrote, the rank growth would speedily follow. Jude, on the contrary, throughout his short letter, speaks of the same corrupters as already come; his objects are present, they are in the midst of the people of God and actively doing their deadly work.
(3) Jude twice refers to certain sources of information touching these enemies, with which his readers were acquainted and which were designed to warn them of the danger and keep them from betrayal. The two sources were
(a) a writing that spoke of "ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ," 1:4;
(b) the prediction of Peter that "in the last days mockers shall come with mockery, walking after their own lusts" (2 Peter 3:3). Jude urges his readers to remember the words which the apostles of Christ had before spoken, and then he cites this prediction of Peter in almost the exact terms: "In the last time there shall be mockers, walking after their ungodly lusts." He applies the prediction to the libertines then and there practicing their unholy deeds: "These are they, who make separations, sensual, having not the Spirit." The conclusion is inevitable. Jude quotes from Peter.
(4) Chronology gives the priority to Peter. The apostle died between 63-67 A.D., probably in 64 A.D. The vast majority of recent interpreters date the Epistle of Jude at 75-80 A.D. There is no doubt but that it was written after the destruction of Jerusalem, 70 A.D. Accordingly, it is later than Peter's death by from 5 to 10 years. Jude quoted from 2 Peter. This being so, it follows that his Epistle endorses that of Peter as being apostolic and likewise canonical, for he recognizes Peter as an apostle and gifted with the prophetic spirit.
SeeJUDE; PETER (SIMON).
III. Doctrinal Teachings of the Epistle.
Only some of the more important features of the Epistle are here noticed. If all were treated as they deserve to be, this article would expand into the proportions of a commentary.
1. Saving Knowledge:
The key-word of 1 Peter is Hope; of 2 Peter Knowledge. The apostle gives to this gift of grace a prominent place (1:2, 3, 5, 6, 8; 2:20, 21; 3:18). The term he uses is largely in the intensified form, namely, "full knowledge"; that is, knowledge that rests on fact, knowledge that comes to the believer as something supernatural, as being communicated by the Spirit of God, and therefore is true and complete. The grace and peace Peter asks for the saints should issue in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, who has granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness through the knowledge of Him (1:2, 3).
The basis of saving knowledge rests on the "exceeding great and precious promises" which He has made us, and which become ours by faith in Him. It leads us into acquaintance with the righteousness of God, into the realization of our calling as saints, and of the glorious destiny that awaits them who know and trust God (2 Peter 1:2-4 the King James Version).
The growth in true knowledge (2 Peter 1:5-11): "In your faith supply virtue," etc. He does not ask that faith be supplied, that these believers already had. But starting with faith as the foundation of all, let the other excellencies and virtues be richly and abundantly furnished. The original word for "supply" is derived from the Greek "chorus," in behalf of the members of which the manager supplied all the equipments needed. And Peter appropriating that fact urges Christians to give all diligence to furnish themselves with the gifts and grace he mentions, which are far more needful to the Christian than were the equipments for the ancient chorus.
What a magnificent cluster Peter here gives! Each springs out of the other; each is strengthened by the other. "In your faith supply virtue," or fortitude, manliness; and let virtue supply "knowledge." Knowledge by itself tends to puff up. But tempered by the others, by self-control, by patience, by godliness, by love, it becomes one of the most essential and powerful forces in the Christian character. Paul begins his list of the "fruits of the Spirit" with love (Galatians 5:22); Peter ends his with love. It is like a chain, each link holds fast to its fellow and is a part of the whole. It matters little at which end of the chain we begin to count, for the links form a unity, and to touch one is to touch all. God freely gives what we need and all we need; we are to "add all diligence" to supply the need richly.
(3) Inerrancy of Sources:
Inerrancy of the sources of saving knowledge (2 Peter 1:16-21). The apostle rests his teaching on two trustworthy facts:
(a) the fact and meaning of the Saviour's Transfiguration;
(b) the fact of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Taken together these two facts invest his teaching with infallible certainty. "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty." Pagan mythology, so widely prevailing at the time in Asia Minor, indeed over the whole heathen world, was composed of "myths" (Peter's word) skillfully framed and poetically embellished. Jewish cabalism, and the wild vagaries springing up in the Christian brotherhood itself had no place in the gospel message nor in apostolic teaching. What Peter and his fellow-disciples taught was the very truth of God, for at the Transfiguration they saw the outshining glory of the Son of God, they heard the Divine Voice, they beheld the two visitants from the unseen world, Moses and Elijah. Of the majestic scene they were eyewitnesses. Peter adds, "And we have the word of prophecy made more sure." The Transfiguration has confirmed what the prophets say touching the future and God's purpose to fill the earth with His glory; every word He has spoken is to be made good.
Moreover, the apostle appeals to the inspiration of the prophets in confirmation of his teaching: "No prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit." He recognizes this as primary truth, that prophecy is not of one's own origination, nor is it to be tied up to the times of the prophet. The prophecy was brought to him, as it is brought to us. Peter and his fellow-believers did not follow "cunningly devised fables"; they were borne along in their prophetic utterances by the Spirit.
2. The Three Worlds:
Of course in 2 Peter 3:5-13, where the three worlds are spoken of, three globes are not meant, but three vast epochs, three enormous periods in earth's history. The apostle divides its history into three clearly defined sections, and mentions some of the characteristic features of each.
(1) The Old World.
"The world that then was" (2 Peter 3:6): this is his first world. It is the antediluvian world that is meant, the world which the Flood overwhelmed. Scoffers in Peter's time asked, no doubt with a sneer, "Where is the promise of his coming? for, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (2 Peter 3:4). This is a surprisingly modern inquiry. Mockers then as now appealed to the continuity of natural processes, and to the inviolability of Nature's laws. Nature keeps her track with unwavering precision. There is no sign of any change; no catastrophe is likely, is possible. The promise of His coming fails. Peter reminds the skeptics that a mighty cataclysm did once overwhelm the world. The Flood drowned every living thing, save those sheltered within the ark. As this is a historical fact, the query of the mockers is foolish.
(2) The Present World.
Peter's second world is "the heavens that now are, and the earth" (2 Peter 3:7). It is the present order of things in sky and earth that is meant. He asserts that this world is "stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." The margin reads, "stored with fire," i.e., it contains within itself the agency by which it may be consumed. The world that now is, is held in strict custody, reserved, not for a second deluge, but for fire. The advent of Christ and the judgment are associated in Scripture with fire: "Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him" (Psalm 50:3 the King James Version; compare Isaiah 66:15, 16 Daniel 7:10, 11). Nor is the New Testament silent on this point: "the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire" (2 Thessalonians 1:7).
Ample materials are stored up in the earth for its consumption by fire. The oils and the gases so inflammable and destructive in their energy can, when it may please God to release these forces, speedily reduce the present order of things to ashes. Peter's language does not signify earth's annihilation, nor its dissolution as an organic body, nor the end of time. He speaks of cosmical convulsions and physical revolutions of both sky and earth, such as shall transform the planet into something glorious and beautiful.
(3) The New World.
The third world is this: "But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13). This is Paradise restored. We have sure ground for the expectancy; the last two chapters of Re contain the prophetic fulfillment: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more." The accomplishment of these sublime predictions will involve a fundamental change in the constitution of the globe. Life would be impossible if the sea was no more. But He who made the world can surely recreate it, clearing it of every vestige of sin and misery and imperfection, fitting it for the dwelling of perfect beings and of His supreme glory. Immanuel will dwell with the holy inhabitants of the new earth and in the new Jerusalem which is to descend into the glorified planet. John is bidden, "Write, for the predictions are faithful and true; they shall not fail to come to pass."
"Earth, thou grain of sand on the shore of the Universe of God,
On thee has the Lord a great work to complete."
Seeat end of PETER, THE FIRST EPISTLE OF; PETER (SIMON).
William G. Moorehead
SABBATH, SECOND AFTER THE FIRST
(sabbaton deuteroproton (Luke 6:1), literally, "the second-first sabbath," of the Revised Version margin): We will mention only a few of the explanations elicited by this expression.
(1) It was the first Sabbath in the second year of a 7-year cycle comprising the period from one Sabbatic year to the other;
(2) the first Sabbath after the second day of Passover, i.e. the first of the seven Sabbaths the Hebrews were to "count unto" themselves from "the morrow after the sabbath" (the day after Easter) until Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15);
(3) the first Sabbath in the Jewish ecclesiastical year (about the middle of March), the first Sabbath in the civil year (about the middle of September) being counted as the "first-first" Sabbath;
(4) the term deuteroprotos, is a monstrous combination of the words deuteros, "second," and protos, "first," attributable to unskillful attempts at textual emendation on the part of copyists. This supposition would, of course, render unnecessary all other efforts to unravel the knotty problem, and, as a matter of fact, deuteroprotos is omitted by many manuscripts (including Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus). To those not feeling inclined to accept this solution we would suggest the first of the above-named explanations as the most natural and probable one.
See PAROUSIA; ESCHATOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, V.
See DEATH; ESCHATOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, sec. X, (6).
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
ESDRAS, SECOND BOOK OF
See APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE, sec. II, i, 5.
See ESCHATOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.