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1 . The elders which are among you ] Some of the better MSS. present the reading The elders therefore among you . If we adopt this reading we have the latent sequence of thought in the idea suggested by the word “well-doing” in chap. 4:19, or by the “judgment” of chap. 4:17. The work of the elders was to be directed to strengthen men in the one, to prepare them for the other. It is obvious that the Apostle addresses those who are “elders” in the special sense of the word, as in Acts 11:30 , Acts 15:22 , Acts 20:17 . The last passage shews, as compared with Acts 20:28 , that the term was interchangeable with “Bishops.” See also Titus 1:5 , Titus 1:7 , and the notes on verse 2.
who am also an elder ] If the word was used in its official sense in the first clause it cannot well be taken in any other sense here. The Apostle, with a profound humility, strikingly in contrast with the supremacy claimed by his successors, puts himself, as a fellow elder , on a level with the elders to whom he writes, with duties to be fulfilled in the same spirit, subject to the same conditions.
a witness of the sufferings of Christ ] The words bring out the one point on which he lays stress as distinguishing himself from others. He was in a special sense a “witness” of the actual sufferings of the man Christ Jesus (Acts 1:8-22 , Acts 13:31 ), while they were partakers of those sufferings as reproduced in the experience of His people. As in chap. 1:11, 4:13, the thought of those sufferings leads, in immediate sequence, to that of the glory which is their ultimate issue. The Greek word for “partaker” (literally, a joint partaker, a fellow-sharer with you ) implies that he is, as before, dwelling on what he has in common with those to whom he writes (comp. Philippians 1:7 ). Some interpreters of note have seen, even in the description which he gives of himself as a “witness,” not that which was distinctive, but the work which he had in common with others, of bearing his testimony that Christ had suffered, and that His servants also must therefore expect suffering.
2 . feed the flock of God ] The word for “feed,” here as elsewhere, implies the whole work of the shepherd guiding, directing, protecting, as well as supplying food (comp. Luke 17:7 ; John 21:16 ; Acts 20:28 ; 1 Corinthians 9:7 ). The shepherd’s work had been from a very early period a parable of that of rulers and of teachers. Kings were to Homer the “shepherds of the people” ( ποίμενες λαῶν ). David was taken from the sheepfold to feed Israel as the flock of Jehovah (Psalms 78:70 , Psalms 78:71 ). The sin of the kings and rulers of Judah had been that they did not feed the flock, but scattered and destroyed it (Jeremiah 23:1-4 ; Ezekiel 34:2-31 ). In St Peter’s use of the word we note a reproduction of the words that had fallen on his ears with a three-fold, yet varied, iteration, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:16 ). The comprehensiveness of the word must not be lost sight of. It includes more than preaching or teaching, and takes in the varied duties of what we rightly call the pastoral office. In the words “the flock of God” men are tacitly reminded who is the Chief Shepherd whom they serve, and to whom they will have to render an account (comp. Acts 20:28 ). It may be noted as a characteristic difference that in the Old Testament the shepherds of the people are always the civil rulers of the nation (e.g. Psalms 78:71 ; Ezekiel 34:2 ), while in the New that thought falls into the background, and the shepherd of the flock is its spiritual guide and teacher.
taking the oversight thereof ] The first three words are the English equivalent of the Greek participle of the verb formed from Episcopos , the “bishop,” or “overseer” of the Church. In its being thus used to describe the office of the elders of the Church we have a close parallel to St Paul’s addressing the “elders” of the Church as being also “overseers” (Acts 20:28 ). The two terms were in fact interchangeable, and what is now the higher office of the Bishop in relation to the Presbyters was discharged by the Apostle or his personal representative.
not by constraint, but willingly ] The words that follow indicate the three great conditions of true pastoral work. (1) It must not be entered on reluctantly and as under pressure. In one sense indeed the truest and best work may be done by one who feels, as St Paul felt, that a “necessity is laid” upon him (1 Corinthians 9:16 ), but there the necessity was that of a motive essentially spiritual. What St Peter deprecates is the drawing back from the labour and responsibility of the care of souls. The Nolo episcopari , which has been so often the formula of the pride or the sloth that apes humility, would have been in his eyes the sign of cowardice and weakness. Here, as in other things, the true temper is that of cheerful and willing service. The history of the Church presents, it is true, not a few instances, among which Chrysostom and Ambrose are preeminent, of the pastoral and episcopal office being forced upon a reluctant acceptance, but in such cases the reluctance left no trace in the after life. The work once entered on was done “willingly,” not as a forced and constrained service. It may be noted that the memorable treatise of Chrysostom, On the Priesthood , is in its form an apologia for his unwillingness to enter on the priestly office on the ground of its infinite dangers and responsibilities. Some of the better MSS. add the words “according to God,” to “willingly,” the phrase having the same meaning (“according to the will of God,”) as in chap. 4:6, 2 Corinthians 7:9 , 2 Corinthians 7:10 .
not for filthy lucre ] The adverb is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. The corresponding adjective meets us in 1 Timothy 3:3 , 1 Timothy 3:8 , Titus 1:7 . The words are interesting as shewing that even in the troubled times in which St Peter wrote there was enough wealth in the Church to make the position of a Bishop-presbyter a lucrative one. There was the double stipend for those who were both pastors and preachers (1 Timothy 5:17 ). There was, for baser natures, the temptation of using spiritual influence for secular ends, “devouring widows’ houses,” as the Pharisees did in Judæa (Matthew 23:14 ), “leading captive silly women,” as did the false teachers at Ephesus (2 Timothy 3:6 ) and Crete (Titus 1:11 ). It may be noted that the term which both the Apostles use of the man who enters on the work of the ministry of souls from such a motive, is one which Greek writers commonly use of one who seeks gain in base and sordid ways. In their eyes the calling of a presbyter might be made, so followed, as disreputable an occupation as that of the usurer, or the pander, or the slave-dealer. In contrast with this temper, eagerly catching at emoluments, the Apostle points to the cheerful readiness that seeks eagerly for work.
3 . neither as being lords over God’s heritage ] Better, not lording it over the heritages . There is no word in the Greek answering to “God’s,” and it is not wanted to complete the sense. The word for “lording” implies an authority exercised both wrongfully and oppressively. Ambition, the love of power for the sake of power, is, from the Apostle’s standpoint, as great a hindrance to true pastoral work as avarice. The whole history of the Church, in particular the history of the papacy, as e.g. in the history of Gregory VII., shews how fatally it has worked on souls that had conquered, or had never known, the baser temptation. Warnings against such ambition we find again and again in our Lord’s teaching (Matthew 20:25-28 ; Luke 22:24-26 ; Mark 9:34 , Mark 9:35 ). A memorable picture of the working of such a temper in St Paul’s rivals at Corinth meets us in 2 Corinthians 12:20 .
The word for “heritages” (the Greek noun ( κλῆρος ) is in the plural) means primarily a “lot;” then, as in Deuteronomy 10:9 , Deuteronomy 12:12 , the “portion assigned by lot.” So Jehovah is said to be the “portion” or “heritage” of the Levites (Deuteronomy 10:9 ). Here the idea would seem to be that each separate Ecclesia was thought of as the “portion” of the presbyter who watched over it. The later history of the word presents a curious series of transitions. (1) From the congregations it was transferred to the presbyters, as being, it was supposed, in a special sense, the “portion” or “heritage” of God. They accordingly were described as the clerus , the clerici , of the Church, and hence we get the common words, “clergy,” and “clerical.” (2) From the educational superiority of the clerical order in the Middle Ages, the word came to be applied to any person of a higher than average culture. So Chaucer speaks of Homer as a “great clerke,” and the legal phrase “benefit of clergy” retains a trace of the same meaning. (3) From this elevation it has come to be applied, as by a facilis descensus , to the lower forms of culture, and the “parish clerk” and the copying “clerk” at his desk, present the fallen greatness of the word that was once so noble.
but being ensamples to the flock ] Comp. the word and the thought in 2 Thessalonians 3:9 and Philippians 3:17 . It is obvious that the teaching of the verse does not condemn the exercise of all spiritual authority as such, but only its excesses and abuses; but in doing this, it points out also that the influence of example is more powerful than any authority, and to seek after that influence is the best safeguard against the abuse of power.
4 . And when the chief Shepherd shall appear ] The word for “chief Shepherd” is not found elsewhere, and would seem therefore to have been coined by St Peter, to express the thought which had been impressed on his mind by his Lord’s words, “I am the good Shepherd” (John 10:14 ). In his own work, as in that of all pastors of the Church, he saw the reproduction of that of which Christ had set the great example. For “shall appear” it would be better to read is manifested .
a crown of glory that fadeth not away ] More accurately, as the Greek has the article, “ the crown of glory.” The four last words answer to the one Greek word, “amaranthine,” or “unfading,” the adjective being a cognate form of that in chap. 1:4. The crown here is the wreath or chaplet of flowers worn by conquerors and heroes, as in 1 Corinthians 9:25 , James 1:12 , and differs from the “crowns” or diadems of Revelation 12:3 , Revelation 19:12 , which were distinctively the badge of sovereignty. It is possible, as the adjective “amaranth” was applied to the kind of flowers which we know as “everlastings,” that there may be an allusive reference to the practice of using those flowers for wreaths that were placed in funerals upon the brows of the dead. The word and the thought reappear in one of Milton’s noblest passages:
“Immortal Amaranth, a flower which once
In Paradise, hard by the tree of life,
Began to bloom, but soon, for man’s offence
To heaven removed, where first it grew, there grows
And flowers aloft, shading the fount of life;
And where the river of bliss through midst of Heaven
Rolls o’er Elysian flowers her amber stream
With these, that never fade, the spirits elect
Bind their resplendent locks, inwreathed with beams.”
Paradise Lost , III. 353 361.
5 . Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder ] The question meets us, whether the words refer to age only, or to office as connected with age. In either case we have, of course, a perfectly adequate meaning. In favour of the latter view we have the facts (1) that in Luke 22:26 , “he that is younger” in the first clause corresponds to “he that serveth” or “ministereth” in the second; (2) that in Acts 5:6 the term is obviously used of those who were discharging duties like those of the later deacons, sub-deacons or acolytes; (3) that it is hardly likely that the same writer would have used the word “elder” in two different senses in such close juxtaposition. On the whole, therefore, there seems sufficient reason for adopting this view. St Paul’s use of the term, however, in the precepts of 1 Timothy 5:1 , Titus 2:6 is, perhaps, in favour of the other.
Yea, all of you be subject one to another ] The words which answer to “be subject” are wanting in some of the best MSS. and have the character of an insertion made to complete the sense. If we omit the participle, the words “all of you, one to another” may be taken either with the clause that precedes or with that which follows.
be clothed with humility ] The Greek verb ( ἐγκομβώσασθε ) for “clothe yourselves” has a somewhat interesting history. The noun from which it is derived ( κόμβος ) signifies a “knot.” Hence the verb means “to tie on with a knot,” and from the verb another noun is formed ( ἐγκομβῶμα ), denoting a garment so tied on. This, according to its quality, might be the outer “over-all” cloak of slaves, or the costly mantle of princes. The word may have well been chosen for the sake of some of the associations which this its history suggests. Men were to clothe themselves with lowliness of mind, to fasten it tight round them like a garment, so that it might never fall away (comp. the same thought as applied to hatred in Psalms 109:17 , Psalms 109:18 ), and this was to be worn, as it were, over all other virtues, half-concealing, half-sheltering them. It might present, from one point of view, the aspect of servitude. It was, in reality, a raiment more glorious than that of kings (Acts 12:21 ), or those who live in kings’ houses (Matthew 11:8 ). In the case of slaves, probably in all cases, the garment so named was white. (Poll. Onomast . 4:119.) This also probably was not without a suggestive significance. In Colossians 3:12 we have, though not the word, a thought very closely parallel.
for God resisteth the proud ] We have here another passage quoted from the Old Testament (Proverbs 3:34 , from the LXX. version with “God” substituted for “the Lord”) without the formula of quotation. It is interesting (1) as taking its place in the list of passages from the Book of Proverbs, which St Peter quotes both in the First and Second Epistles; and (2) as being quoted also by St James (4:6). The parallelism which we have already traced between the two writers (see notes on chap. 1:6, 7, 24) makes it probable that St Peter may have derived his quotation from his brother Apostle of the circumcision. In James 4:6 the promise is cited with more special reference to the grace which gives men strength for the combat against evil, here in its wider and more general aspect.
6 . Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God ] The parallelism with St James (4:10) will again be noticed, but the thought is one which occurs in many forms elsewhere (Job 22:29 ; Proverbs 29:23 ; Matthew 23:12 ; Luke 1:52 , Luke 14:11 , Luke 18:14 ). The plural “the mighty hand of God,” reproduces the LXX. version of Deuteronomy 3:24 .
in due time ] The promise is purposely left in this vague indeterminate form. St Peter does not say that the exaltation of victory will come in this life. He does not say either, that it will not come till the Resurrection. He is certain, with the full assurance of faith, that this is God’s law of retribution, and he is content to leave “the times and the seasons” in the Father’s hands, certain that the season chosen will be the right one.
7 . casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you ] The English version effaces a distinction in the Greek, the first word for “care” implying “distracting anxiety,” as in Matthew 13:22 ; Mark 4:19 ; Luke 8:14 , Luke 21:34 , the latter conveying the idea simply of the care that foresees and provides, as in Mark 4:38 ; John 10:13 , John 12:6 . The thought expressed is accordingly that our anxiety is to be swallowed up in our trust in the loving Providence of the Father. Here again we have a quotation somewhat altered from the LXX. version (Psalms 55:22 ), “Cast thy care upon the Lord and he shall nourish thee,” and in the warning against anxiety we may find an echo of the precepts against “taking thought” (where the Greek verb is formed from the same noun) in Matthew 6:25-34 .
8 . Be sober, be vigilant ] The two words are found in a like juxtaposition in 1 Thessalonians 5:6 . The tense used here implies an immediate act, as though he said, “Rouse yourselves to sobriety and watchfulness,” rather than a continuous state. The first word has the strict meaning of abstinence from that which inebriates. See note on chap. 4:7.
because your adversary the devil ] The word for “adversary” is the same as that used in Matthew 5:25 , and carries with it the sense of a plaintiff or accuser in a trial before a judge. The Greek word for “devil’ ( διάβολος ), uniformly used in the LXX. for the Hebrew “Satan,” expresses the same thought, with the implied addition that the charge is false and calumnious. The comparison with the lion has its starting-point, perhaps, in Isaiah 38:13 , where, however, it is used of God as visiting men with pain and sickness; or Psalms 22:21 , where its use is more closely parallel with the present passage. The use of the same verb for “roaring” in the LXX. of Psalms 22:13 confirms the inference that that Psalm the first words of which, it will be remembered, had been uttered by our Lord upon the cross was present to St Peter’s mind. The word for “devour,” literally, gulp down or swallow , implies the thought of total destruction. It is probable, wide and general as the words are in themselves, that the special form of attack of which the Apostle thought was that of the persecution then raging, and of which, though human agents were prominent in it, Satan was regarded as the real instigator. Comp. 2 Timothy 4:17 . When Christ is named as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5 ) we may probably see the suggested thought that in the conflict which His followers have to wage they have with them One who is stronger than their adversary.
9 . whom resist stedfast in the faith ] The word for “resist” is the same as that used in the parallel passage of James 4:7 . “Faith” is probably used in its subjective rather than its objective sense, for unshaken trust in God rather than unwavering orthodoxy. Comp. the “shield of faith” in Ephesians 6:16 .
knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren ] Better, that the same sufferings (as keeping up the continuity of thought with chaps. 1:11, 4:13, 5:1) are being wrought out for your brotherhood (the same collective term as in chap. 2:17) that are in the world . The Apostle appeals to the thought of sympathy with other sufferers as a ground of steadfastness. Those to whom he wrote were not isolated in their afflictions. Far and near there were comrades fighting the same battle. It was at once their duty and their privilege to follow all examples of steadfastness of which they heard elsewhere, and to set that example, so that others, cheered by it, might be strengthened to endure even to the end.
10 . But the God of all grace ] Rather, as there is no implied contrast, “ And the God of all grace.” The epithet, like “the God of all comfort,” in 2 Corinthians 1:3 , implies that God is the Author and Giver of all grace that the child of God needs. In connexion with this attribute of God, there follows the fact that He had called those to whom the Apostle writes to nothing less than a share in His “eternal glory.” It may be noted, as bearing on the question as to the authorship of the Second Epistle, that the same description occurs there also (2 Peter 1:3 ). But this calling is “in Christ,” i.e not merely by Him as the instrument through whom the call came, but as being “in Him,” i.e. by virtue of our union with Him.
after that ye have suffered a while ] Literally, suffered a little ; but the context, contrasting the transient suffering with the eternal glory, as well as the use of the same adverb in chap. 1:6, justifies us in taking the word of time rather than degree.
make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you ] The English verb follows the Received Text in taking the Greek verb as optative. Most of the better MSS., however, give the future tense, “ will make you perfect …,” expressing not the prayer of the Apostle, but his firm and steadfast confidence. Each verb has a distinct meaning. That for “make you perfect” implies, as in Matthew 4:21 ; Luke 6:40 ; 1 Corinthians 1:10 , restoring to completeness; that for “stablish,” as 2 Thessalonians 2:17 , 2 Thessalonians 3:3 , the fixity of Christians; that for “strengthen” (not found elsewhere in the New Testament) giving power to resist attack. In “settle” (literally, to lay a foundation ), as in Matthew 7:25 , Luke 6:48 , which may well have been in the Apostle’s thoughts, we have the idea of building up the spiritual life upon Christ as the one foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11 ).
11 . To him be glory and dominion ] The doxology is repeated in identical terms from chap. 4:11. Here, as there, it comes as the natural sequel to the thought of what God is and what He has done for His people; and forms the conclusion to the consecutive teaching of the Epistle. It remained only to add a few words of the nature of more personal messages.
12 . By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose ] The Greek order of the words leaves it open whether “to you” is to be construed with “faithful” as in the English version, or with “I have written,” the former being, on the whole, preferable. If with the Received Text we admit the article before “faithful,” we might translate the brother who is faithful to you , but in some of the better MSS. the article is wanting. In any case the way in which Silvanus is mentioned implies that he was already known to the readers of the Epistle. There is no ground for questioning his identity with the “Silas” of Acts 15:22 , Acts 15:32 , Acts 15:40 , the “Silvanus” of 1 Thessalonians 1:1 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:1 ; 2 Corinthians 1:19 , the second name having probably been taken, after the manner common among Jews (comp. the change from Saul to Paulus, Joshua to Jason, John surnamed Marcus, and other like instances), when he went as a missionary into Gentile countries. It is obvious that the circumstances of his life gave him special qualifications for maintaining or restoring unity of teaching and feeling between the Jewish and Gentile sections of the Church. Trained in the Church of Jerusalem and known as possessing prophetic gifts (Acts 15:32 ), he had been chosen, with Barsabas, to be the bearer of the encyclical letter from the Council of Apostles and Elders, and to enforce its purport orally. Throwing himself so heartily into the work of preaching to the Gentiles that he was chosen by St Paul as his companion on his second missionary journey, travelling with him and Timotheus through Galatia, Troas, Philippi, Thessalonica, and Corinth, he was conspicuously fitted to carry on the work which St Paul had begun. The scattered notices above referred to do not carry us further than his work at Corinth, and we are left to conjecture how he had filled up the interval that had elapsed since that date. What we now read suggests (1) that he had been working among the Churches of the provinces of Asia Minor named in chap. 1:1, and had gained their confidence; (2) that after St Paul’s final departure from those regions he had turned to St Peter as still within reach, and had brought under his notice the sufferings of the Christians there; and (3) that he was sent back with the Epistie that was to guide and comfort them. It is a probable conjecture that St Peter may have received from him copies of the Epistles of St Paul to which he refers in 2 Peter 3:15 , 2 Peter 3:16 . The Greek verb for “I have written,” as being in the epistolary aorist, is rightly taken as referring to this Epistle, and not, as some commentators have thought, to a lost earlier one. The words “by Silvanus” may imply that he was either the amanuensis, or the bearer of the letter, or possibly, that he united the two characters.
as I suppose ] The Greek verb (the same as in 1 Corinthians 4:1 ; 2 Corinthians 11:5 ) does not carry with it the slight touch of uncertainty which attaches to the common use of the English word.
briefly ] We may perhaps think of the Apostle as comparing the brevity of what he had written with the longer Epistles of St Paul, such as Romans and 1 and 2 Corinthians.
testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand ] The words have a special significance as connected with the mission of Silvanus. The great Apostle of the Circumcision, writing to the Churches that had been mainly planted and taught by the Apostle of the Gentiles, bears his full testimony that the “grace” by which they “stand” is no counterfeit, but in very deed a reality. Now, as when he and John and James the brother of the Lord gave to Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship (Galatians 2:9 ), he recognises “the grace of God” that had been given to them and through them. The attestation thus given of unbroken harmony stands, it need hardly be said, in singular contrast with the position of antagonism to St Paul and his teaching ascribed to St Peter in the Clementine Homilies and Recognitions , which represent the later workings of the Judaizing party. See notes on 2 Peter 3:15 .
13 . The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you ] The Greek MSS. (with the notable exception, however, of the Sinaitic), as the italics shew, have no noun corresponding to “church,” and it is, at least, a question whether it ought to be inserted, and the same holds good of the pronoun “you.” On the one hand there is the consent of many of the early Fathers in favour of the insertion (see next note) and, perhaps, the improbability that a salutation would be sent to the Asiatic Churches from any individual convert in the Church of Babylon. On the other there is the fact (1) that there is no parallel use of the adjective without the noun in this sense in any other passage of the New Testament; (2) that in 2 John 1:0 , which presents the nearest parallel, it is almost certain that the “elect lady,” or the “elect Kyria,” or the “lady Eclecta” is a person and not a Church; and (3) that if a salutation was sent from “Marcus my son” to the Churches of Asia, there is nothing surprising in a like salutation being sent from another individual disciple. If we adopt, as on the whole, in spite of the weight due to the Sinaitic MS., seems preferable, the latter view, the question who the person was remains open to conjecture. It may have been St Peter’s wife who was, as we learn from 1 Corinthians 9:5 , the companion of his labours, and in this case there would be a special appropriateness in her sending her greeting in an Epistle which had dwelt so fully on the duties of the female members of the Church (chap. 3:1 6). It may have been some conspicuous member of the Church of Babylon otherwise unknown to us. The former view seems to have most in its favour.
The further question, what place is meant by Babylon, remains for discussion, and here also we have to note a wide diversity of opinion. On the one hand, Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, and Clement of Alexandria, as reported by Eusebius ( Hist . ii. 15), take the words figuratively, as interpreted by the symbolism of the Apocalypse (Revelation 14:8 , Revelation 14:18 :2, Revelation 14:10 ), for Rome, and this view has naturally been taken by most Romish commentators, who find in this passage a proof, otherwise wanting, as far as the New Testament is concerned, of St Peter’s connexion with that Church. Against this it has been urged chiefly, as might be expected, by Protestant interpreters, that there would be something unnatural in the use of a symbolic term belonging to an apocalyptic vision in the simple words of a salutation, and that it was not likely to be intelligible to those who read the Epistle unless they had previously become acquainted with the book in which the symbolism occurs. The order in which the names of the Asiatic provinces are given in chap. 1:1, from East to West, is, though not decisive, yet as far as it goes in favour of the Epistle having been written from the Euphrates rather than the Tiber. There was from the days of the Captivity a large Jewish population residing in the new Babylon which had risen on or near the ruins of the old (Joseph. Ant . xv. 2, § 2), and although there had been a massacre of many of these (Josephus, Ant . xviii. 9, gives the number as 50,000) in the reign of Claudius, and others had taken refuge first in Ctesiphon and afterwards in Neerda and Nisibis, there may well have been a remnant sufficiently numerous to call for St Peter’s attention as the Apostle of the Circumcision. Another Babylon, it should be added, is named by Strabo (B. xvii.) as a military fortress in Egypt, which has been identified by some writers with the modern Cairo, but there are no adequate grounds for assuming that this is the city which St Peter refers to. There is, indeed, no evidence, such as there is in regard to the Euphrates Babylon, that there was either a Jewish population or a Christian Church there.
and so doth Marcus my son ] It is natural, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, to assume that the Marcus so named is identical with the “John whose surname was Mark,” the son of the Mary to whose house St Peter went on his release from imprisonment (Acts 12:12 ), the cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10 ), the companion of St Paul on his first missionary journey (Acts 13:5 ). On this assumption the term “son” might be used of him either as implying the spiritual parentage of conversion, or as the expression of an affection like that which St Paul cherished for Timotheus (1 Timothy 1:2 ) and Titus (Titus 1:4 ). His presence with St Peter at Babylon when this letter was written, as compared with Colossians 4:10 and 2 Timothy 4:11 , indicates that having gone to Rome during St Paul’s first imprisonment, he had then returned to Asia, and had made his way, probably with messages and copies of the later Pauline Epistles, to the Apostle of the Circumcision. When St Paul wrote shortly before his execution, he believed the disciple to be again in Asia. In the traditions of Ecclesiastical history he appears as the “interpreter” of St Peter, writing his Gospel to perpetuate the Apostle’s oral teaching, and as the founder of the Church of Alexandria (Euseb. Hist . iii. 39, Jerome De Vir. Illust . c. 8). The view taken by some commentators that the Mark here mentioned was a “son” of the Apostle by natural parentage cannot, of course, be disproved, but it has absolutely nothing in its favour.
14 . Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity ] Rather, a kiss of love . The tense of the Greek verb implies that it was to be done, not as a normal practice of the Church, but as a single act, probably when the Epistle had been read publicly, in token of the unity of feeling among all members of the Church. The practice would seem, from Romans 16:16 ; 1 Corinthians 16:20 ; 2 Corinthians 13:12 , to have been common on such occasions in most of the Churches of the Apostolic age. The separation of the sexes when the Church met for worship, which was probably inherited from the Jewish synagogue, was a safeguard against the scandal which the practice might otherwise have occasioned. In the second or third century the “kiss of peace” became a stereotyped rubric in the Liturgies of the Church, the bishops and priests kissing each other on the cheek, and the laity following their example. Later on, in the thirteenth century, when the sexes were no longer separated, the practice was discontinued, but traces of it still survived in the use of the Osculatorium , or kissing token, known as the Pax (sometimes a relic, sometimes an ivory or metal tablet with sacred symbols cut on it), which was passed through the congregation, and kissed by each in turn. (Bingham, Eccl. Ant . xv. 3. Wetzer und Welte, Kirchen-Lexikon , Art. Friedenskuss .)
Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus ] There is something, perhaps, significant in the fact that while the final benediction of the Apostle of the Gentiles is “Grace be with you all” (Romans 16:24 ; 1 Corinthians 16:23 ; 2 Corinthians 13:14 ; and in all his Epistles), that of the Apostle of the Circumcision is the old Hebrew “peace,” as in Matthew 10:13 , in all the fulness of its meaning.
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the Third Week after Epiphany