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The Epistle to the Ephesians, viewed in the light wherein I have placed it, appears excellently calculated for repressing that vain admiration of the mysteries, which the Ephesian and other Gentile converts still entertained: And for enervating the spe cious arguments used by the Judaizers, for seducing them to observe the law of Moses. This epistle, therefore, must have been of great use for confirming the whole body of the Gentile converts inhabiting the province of Asia, in the belief and profession of the gospel.

Before this section is concluded, it may be proper to observe, that the ivth, vth, and vith chapters of the epistle to the Ephesians, are called, by Theodoret, The moral admonition; as containing a more complete system of precepts, respecting the temper of mind which the disciples of Christ ought to possess, and respecting the duties which they owe to themselves and to each other, than is to be found in any other of St. Paul's epistles.

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Of the Persons for whom the Epistle to the Ephesians was designed.

That the epistle to the Ephesians was designed for the use, not of the Ephesians alone, but of all the brethren in the proconsular Asia, not excepting those to whom the apostle was personally unknown, may be gathered from the inscription of the epistle, and from the benedictions with which it is concluded. The inscription runs thus; To the saints who are in Ephesus, and to the believers in Christ Jesus; by which last expression, I understand persons different from the saints in Ephesus; namely, all the believers in the province of Asia. In like manner, in the conclusion of the epistle, we have, first a particular benediction, chap. iv. 23. Peace be to the brethren, namely in Ephesus; then a general one; ver. 24. Grace be with all them who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, that is, with all the faithful in the proconsular Asia. For that there was a considerable intercourse between the churches of the proconsular Asia, and that at Ephesus, appears from the first epistle to the Corinthians, which was written from Ephesus; where, instead of mentioning the church at Ephesus by itself, as saluting the Corinthians, the salutation is from the churches of Asia in general, comprehending Ephesus among the rest, 1 Cor. xvi. 19. The churches of Asia salute you. Paul indeed, commonly directed his letters to the churches

in the great cities, because they were more numerous than the other churches. Yet that he designed them for all the brethren in the neighbourhood, appears from the inscriptions of his epistles to the Corinthians, as was observed, Prelim. Ess. ii. page 63. To these arguments add, that the fulness and perfection of the moral admonition delivered in the epistle to the Ephesians, as well as the catholic manner in which the other matters contained in it are handled, shew clearly, that it was designed for others, besides the brethren at Ephesus.

This remark, concerning the persons for whom the epistle to the Ephesians was designed, may be of considerable use in helping us to judge of some passages. For example, when we recollect that this epistle was directed to the faithful in Christ Jesus, throughout the province of Asia, many of whom, it is to be supposed, had never seen Paul's face, we shall be sensible of the propriety of his saying to them, even according to the common translation, chap. iii. 2. If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God given to me. For although the brethren at Ephesus, with whom the apostle abode three years, and many of the inhabitants of the province of Asia, who had heard him preach in Ephesus, Acts xix. 10. must have known that he was appointed by Christ the apostle of the Gentiles, some of the churches of Asia, or at least some of the members of these churches, who had never seen him, may have been ignorant of the miraculous manner in which he was converted, and commissioned to be an apostle. And therefore, his mentioning these things, together with the revelations that were made to him of the mystery of God's will, in his epistle to the Ephesians, which was designed for their use likewise, may have been very necessary to many, to make them understand what his knowledge and authority as an apostle of Christ were. Accordingly, as if this part of the epistle had been written for a class of readers different from those to whom the foregoing part was addressed, he introduces it with his name, Ephes. iii. 1. On account of this, I Paul, am the prisoner of Jesus Christ, for you Gentiles, &c. See, however, the new translation of the passage.-In like manner, by considering the epistle to the Ephesians, as designed for all the brethren in the province of Asia, we see the reason why the apostle has handled his subjects in a general manner, without making any of those allusions to particular persons and affairs, which might have been expected in a letter to a church gathered by himself, and in which he had so long resided, and with the members of

which he was so intimately acquainted. Such allusions would not easily have been understood by strangers, and therefore they were with great propriety avoided.


Of the Time and Place of writing the Epistle to the Ephesians.

During the apostle Paul's imprisonment in Cæsarea, though it lasted more than two years, he wrote no letters, either to the churches which he had planted, or to particular persons; at least we know of none which he wrote. But during his confinement at Rome, having more liberty, he wrote several epistles which still remain. For when the news of his confinement in that city reached the provinces, some of the churches which he had gathered, sent certain of their most respected members all the way to Rome, as formerly mentioned, to visit and comfort him, Philip. iv. 18. Col. i. 7, 8. These messengers having given him a particular account of the state of the churches from whence they came, their information gave rise to the letters which the apostle wrote at that time; and which may be distinguished from his other letters, by the mention made in them of his imprisonment and bonds. Wherefore, the apostle's bonds being frequently introduced in his epistle to the Ephesians, chap. iii. 1. 13. iv. 1. vi. 12. there can be little doubt of its being written during his confinement at Rome. But whether in the first, or in the second year of that confinement, learned men are not agreed. Many supposing it to have been written at the same time with the epistle to the Colossians, have dated it in the end of the second year of the apostle's confinement, at which time we know the epistle to the Colossians was written. And that these two epistles were written about same time, they prove by observing, that there is a great similarity of sentiment and expression in them; and that they were sent by the same messenger, namely, Tychicus, Ephes. vi. 21. Col. iv. 7. But in Lardner's opinion, these circumstances are not decisive; because Tychicus may have been sent twice from Rome into Asia, by the apostle with letters during his two years confinement; and because several reasons may have rendered it proper for him to write the same things to these churches, especially as a considerable space of time intervened between the writing of the letters in which they are contained. Rejecting, therefore, the late date of the epistle to the Ephesians, Lardner supposes it to

have been written in the beginning of the first year of the apostle's imprisonment at Rome. And, in support of his opinion, he offers the two following arguments, Canon, chap. xii.

1. That Timothy who joined the apostle in his letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, did not join him in his epistle to the Ephesians. True. But might not Timothy after joining the apostle in the letters mentioned, leave Rome on some necessary business, before the epistle to the Ephesians was begun? That this was actually the case, we have reason to believe. For the apostle, in his letter to the Philippians, promised to send Timothy to them soon, chap. ii. 19. And in his epistle to the Hebrews, which was written after his release, he informed them that Timothy was sent away, Heb. xiii. 23. Wherefore, having left Rome before the letter to the Ephesians was begun, his name could not be inserted in the inscription, notwithstanding it was finished in such time, as to be sent to Ephesus by the messenger who carried the letters to the Colossians and to Philemon.

2. Lardner's second argument for the early date of the epistle to the Ephesians, is, that in his letters to the Philippians and to Philemon, the apostle expresses his hope of being soon released; whereas in his letter to the Ephesians, he does not give the most distant insinuation of any such expectation. But the apostle, in his epistle to the Colossians, makes as little mention of his release, as in his epistle to the Ephesians. And yet all allow that that epistle was written and sent along with the epistle to Philemon, in which the apostle expresseth the strongest hope of that event. He did not think it necessary, it seems, to mention his enlargement in his letter to the Colossians, because he had ordered Tychicus to inform them of it. Col. iv. 17. All things concerning me, Tychicus will make known to you. For the same reason he may have omitted mentioning his release to the Ephesians, as may be inferred from Ephes. vi. 21. Now that ye also may know the things relating to me, and what I am doing, Tychicus will make known to you all things. The phraseology here deserves notice; That ye also may know; which I think implies, that at this time the apostle had ordered Tychicus to make known all thing concerning him to some others; namely, to the Colossians; consequently that the two epistles were written about the same time. And as Tychicus and Onesimus, to whom the apostle delivered his epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, were to take Ephesus in their way, he gave them his letter to the Ephesians likewise; and ordered them when they deliver

ed it, to enjoin the Ephesians to send a copy of it to the Laodiceans, with directions to them to send a transcript taken from their copy, to the Colossians. Tychicus, therefore, and Onesimus, taking Ephesus in their way, delivered the apostle's letter to the church in that city, as they were directed; then proceeded with the letters to the Colossians and to Philemon; which when they delivered, their commission was at an end.

If the epistle to the Ephesians was written, as I suppose, soon after the epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, the mention which is made of the apostle's release, in his letter to Philemon, will lead us to fix the writing of the three epistles, to the end of the second year of the apostle's confinement at Rome, answering to A. D. 60, or 61.


Of the Style of the Epistle to the Ephesians.

The critics have observed, that the style of the epistle to the Ephesians is exceedingly elevated; and that it corresponds to the state of the apostle's mind at the time of writing. Overjoyed with the account which their messenger brought him of their faith and holiness, chap. i. 15. and transported with the consideration of the unsearchable wisdom of God, displayed in the work of man's redemption, and of his astonishing love towards the Gentiles, in making them partakers, through faith, of all the benefits of Christ's death, equally with the Jews, he soars high in his sentiments on these grand subjects, and gives his thoughts utterance in sublime and copious expressions. At the same time, he introduces various deep, and hitherto unknown doctrines, to which he gives the appellation of mysteries, in allusion to the occult doctrines, which the Greeks dignified with the name of the mysteries of this or that god; and on the knowledge of which the initiated in these mysteries highly valued themselves. In short, this epistle is written as it were in a rapture. Hence Jerome, on chap. iii. says, "Nullam epistolam Pauli ❝ tanta habere mysteria, tam reconditis sensibus involuta, quos "et apostolus nosse se gloriatur."

Grotius, likewise, entertained an high opinion of this epistle. For he says, it expresseth the sublime matters contained in it, in words more sublime than are to be found in any human language: "Rerum sublimitatem, adæquans verbis sublimioribus,

quam ulla unquam habuit lingua humana." This character

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