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Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians Eadie's Commentary
by John Eadie
Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians (Eadie)
THE EPISTLE OF ST. PAUL TO THE EPHESIANS
Based on the Greek Text
John Eadie, D.D., LL.D.
Rev. W. Young, M.A., Glasgow
PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION.
THE following pages are an attempt to give a concise but full Exposition of the Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians. My object has been to exhibit the mind and meaning of the apostle, not only by a scientific analysis of his language, but also by a careful delineation of the logical connection and sequence of his thoughts. Mere verbal criticism or detached annotation upon the various words by themselves and in succession is a defective course, inasmuch as it may leave the process of mental operation on the part of the inspired writer wholly untraced in its links and involutions. On the other hand, the sense is not to be lazily or abruptly grasped at, but to be patiently detected in its most delicate shades and aspects, by the precise investigation of every vocable. As the smaller lines of the countenance give to its larger features their special and distinctive expression, so the minuter particles and prepositions give an individuality of shape and complexion to the more prominent terms of a sentence or paragraph. In this spirit philology has been kept in subordination to exegesis, and grammatical inquiry has been made subservient to the development of idea and argument.
At the same time, and so far as I am aware, I have neglected no available help from any quarter or in any language. The Greek Fathers have been often referred to, the Syriac, Coptic, and Gothic versions are occasionally quoted, and the most recent German commentators have been examined without partiality or prejudice. Though agreeing in so many views with Olshausen, Meyer, Harless, Stier, and Tischendorf, yet there are many points in connection with the text, literature, exegesis, and theology of the epistle, on which I am forced to differ from one or all of them, and in such cases I have always endeavoured to “render a reason.” Perhaps some may think that too many authorities are now and then adduced, but the method has at least this advantage, that if names be of any value at all, they receive their full complement in such an enumeration; and should the opinion of any of them be adopted, it is seen at once that I do not claim the paternity, but avoid equally the charge of plagiarism, and disavow the awkward honour of originality for a borrowed or repeated interpretation. On many an important and doubtful clause the various opinions are arranged under distinct and separate heads, showing at once what had been done already for its elucidation, and what is attempted in the present volume. Not that I have merely compiled a synopsis, for it is humbly hoped that the reader will find everywhere the living fruits of personal and independent thought and research. Sometimes when the truth, which I suppose to have been delivered by the apostle, is one which has been either misunderstood or rejected, a few paragraphs have been added, more for illustration than defence. Perhaps, indeed, I may not be wholly free from the same weakness which I have found in others; yet I fondly trust that my own theological system has not led me to seek polemical assistance by any inordinate strain or pressure on peculiar idioms or expressions. It is error and impiety too, to seek to take more out of Scripture than the Holy Spirit has put into it. As the commentator neither creates nor invents the grammar of the language which he is expounding, I have invariably quoted the best authorities, when any special usage is concerned, so that no linguistic canon or principle is left to the support of mere assertion. The lamps which have guided me I have thus left burning, for the benefit of those who may come after me in the hope of finding additional ore in the same precious and unexhausted mine. Will it bespeak any indulgence simply to hint that the work has been composed amidst the continuous and absorbing duties of a numerous city charge, and will it be thought out of place to add, that the Christian ministry has a relation to all the churches, as well as to an individual congregation? In the hope, in fine, that it may contribute in some degree to the study and enjoyment of one of the great apostle's richest letters, the book is humbly commended to the Divine blessing.
CAMBRIDGE STREET, GLASGOW,
PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION.
IN preparing this second Edition, the entire matter of the first has been very thoroughly revised, in many parts curtailed, and in many sections altered and enlarged. Some opinions have been modified, a few revoked, and others defended. Grammatical investigations have been more accurately, because more formally stated, and that with uniform care and precision. While the main features of the work remain the same, the minor improvements and changes may be found on almost every page. No pains have been spared and no time has been grudged in remedying the unavoidable defects of a first edition, which was also a first attempt in exegetical authorship. I have refused no light from any quarter, and have always cheerfully yielded to superior argument. For I have no desire but, with all the helps in my power, and ever in dependence on Him who guides into all truth, to gain a clear insight into the apostle's mind, and to give an honest and full exposition of it. Whether, or to what extent, my desires have been realized, others must judge. My best thanks are due to Robert Black, M.A., student of Theology, for his care in reading the sheets, and his labour in compiling the index.
13 LANSDOWNE CRESCENT, GLASGOW,
THE LITERATURE OF THE EPISTLE.
I. Ephesus, and the Planting of a Christian Church in It.
EPHESUS, constituted the capital of proconsular Asia in B.C. 129, had been the scene of successful labour on the part of the apostle. On his first and hurried visit to it, during his second missionary tour, his earnest efforts among his countrymen made such an impression and created such a spirit of inquiry, that they besought him to prolong his sojourn. Acts 18:19-21. But the pressing obligation of a religious vow compelled his departure, and he “sailed from Ephesus” under the promise of a speedy return, but left behind him Priscilla and Aquila, with whom the Alexandrian Apollos was soon associated. On his second visit, during his third missionary circuit, he stayed for at least two years and three months, or three years, as he himself names the term in his parting address at Miletus. Acts 20:31. The apostle felt that Ephesus was a centre of vast influence-a key to the western provinces of Asia Minor. In writing from this city to the church at Corinth, when he speaks of his resolution to remain in it, he gives as his reason “for a great door and effectual is opened unto me.” 1 Corinthians 16:9. The gospel seems to have spread with rapidity, not only among the native citizens of Ephesus, but among the numerous strangers who landed on the quays of the Panormus and crowded its streets. It was the highway into Asia from Rome; its ships traded with the ports of Greece, Egypt, and the Levant; and the Ionian cities poured their inquisitive population into it at its great annual festival in honour of Diana. Ephesus had been visited by many illustrious men, and on very different errands. It had passed through many vicissitudes in earlier times, and had through its own capricious vacillations been pillaged by the armies of rival conquerors in succession; but it was now to experience a greater revolution, for no blood was spilt, and at the hands of a mightier hero, for truth was his only weapon. Cicero is profuse in his compliments to the Ephesians for the welcome which they gave him as he landed at their harbour on his progress to his government of Cilicia ( Ep. ad Att. 5.13); but the Christian herald met with no such ovation when he entered their city. So truculent and unscrupulous was the opposition which he at last encountered; that he tersely styles it “fighting with wild beasts at Ephesus,” and a tumultuous and violent outrage which endangered his life hastened his ultimate departure. Scipio, on the eve of the battle of Pharsalia, had threatened to take possession of the vast sums hoarded up in the temple of Diana, and Mark Antony had exacted a nine years' tax in a two years' payment; but Paul and his colleagues were declared on high authority “not to be robbers of churches:” for their object was to give and not to extort, yea, as he affirms, to circulate among the Gentiles “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” The Ephesians had prided themselves in Alexander, a philosopher and mathematician, and they fondly surnamed him the “Light;” but his teaching had left the city in such spiritual gloom, that the apostle was obliged to say to them “ye were sometimes darkness;” and himself was the first unshaded luminary that rose on the benighted province. The poet Hipponax was born at Ephesus, but his caustic style led men to call him ὁ πικρός , “the bitter,” and one of his envenomed sayings was, “There are two happy days in a man's life, the one when he gets his wife, and the other when he buries her.” How unlike the genial soul of him of Tarsus, whose spirit so often dissolved in tears, and who has in “the well-couched words” of this epistle honoured, hallowed, and blessed the nuptial bond! The famed painter Parrhasius, another boast of the Ionian capital, has indeed received the high praises of Pliny ( Hist. Nat. 35, 9) and Quintilian, for his works suggested “certain canons of proportion,” and he has been hailed as a lawgiver in his art; but his voluptuous and self-indulgent habits were only equalled by his proverbial arrogance and conceit, for he claimed to be the recipient of Divine communications. Institut. 12.10. On the other hand, the apostle possessed a genuine revelation from on high-no dim and dreary impressions, but lofty, glorious, and distinct intuitions; nay, his writings contain the germs of ethics and legislation for the world: but all the while he rated himself so low, that his self-denial was on a level with his humility, for he styles himself, in his letter to the townsmen of Parrhasius, “less than the least of all saints.”
During his abode at Ephesus, the apostle prosecuted his work with peculiar skill and tact. The heathen forms of worship were not vulgarly attacked and abused, but the truth in Jesus was earnestly and successfully demonstrated and carried to many hearts; so that when the triumph of the gospel was so soon felt in the diminished sale of silver shrines, the preachers of a spiritual creed were formally absolved from the political crime of being “blasphemers of the goddess.” The toil of the preacher was incessant. He taught “publicly and from house to house.” Acts 20:20. He went forth “bearing precious seed, weeping;” for “day and night” he warned them “with tears.” Acts 20:31. What ardour, earnestness, and intense aspiration; what a profound agitation of regrets and longings stirred him when “with many tears” he testified “both to the Jews and also to the Greeks repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ”! By his assiduous labours the apostle founded and built up a large and prosperous church. The fierce and prolonged opposition which he encountered from “many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9), and the trials which befell him through “the lying in wait of the Jews” (Acts 20:19), grieved, but did not alarm, his dauntless heart. The school of Tyrannus became the scene of daily instruction and argument, and amidst the bitter railing and maledictions of the Jews, the masses of the heathen population were reached, excited, and brought within the circle of evangelical influence. During this interval the new religion was also carried through the province, the outlying hamlets were visited, and the Ionian towns along the banks of the Cayster, over the defiles of Mount Tmolus, and up the valley of the Maeander, felt the power of the gospel; the rest of the “seven churches” were planted or watered, and “all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus.” Demetrius excited the alarm of his guild by the constrained admission “Moreover, ye see and hear that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia- σχεδὸν πάσης τῆς ᾿Ασίας -this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people.” Acts 19:26.
The eloquence of the apostle was powerfully aided at this crisis by his miracles- δυνάμεις οὐ τὰς τυχούσας . Surprising results sprang from the slightest contact with the wonder-worker; diseases fled at the approach of light articles of dress as the symbols or conductors of Divine power; and the evil spirits, formally acknowledging his supremacy, quailed before him, and were ejected from the possessed. These miracles, as has been well remarked, were of a kind calculated to suppress and bring into contempt the magical pretensions for which Ephesus was so famous. None of the Ephesian arts were employed. No charm was needed; no mystic scroll or engraven hieroglyph; there was no repetition of uncouth syllables, no elaborate initiation into any occult and intricate science by means of expensive books; but shawls and aprons- σουδάρια ἢ σιμικίνθια -were the easy and expeditious vehicles of healing agency. The superstitious “characters”- ᾿Εφέσια γράμματα , so famous as popular amulets in the Eastern world, and which the Megalobyzi (Hesychius, sub voce) and Melissae, the priests and priestesses of Artemis, had so carefully patronized-were shown by the contrast to be the most useless and stupid empiricism. Some wandering Jewish exorcists-a class which was common among the “dispersion”-attempted an imitation of one of the miracles, and used the name of Jesus as a charm. But the demoniac regarded such arrogant quackery as an insult, and took immediate vengeance on the impostors. This sudden and signal defeat of the seven sons of Sceva produced a deep and general sensation among the Jews and Greeks, and “the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.” Nay more, the followers of magic felt themselves so utterly exposed and outdone, that they “confessed and showed their deeds.” They were forced to bow to a higher power, and acknowledge that their “curious arts”- τὰ περίεργα -were mere pretence and delusion. Books containing the description of the secret power and application of such a talisman, must have been eagerly sought and highly prized. Those who possessed them now felt their entire worthlessness, and, convinced of the inutility and sin of studying them or even keeping them, gathered them and burnt them “before all men”-an open act of homage to the new and mighty power which Christianity had established among them. The smoke and flame of those rolls were a sacrificial desecration to Artemis-worse and more alarming than the previous burning of her temple by the madman Herostratus. The numerous and costly books were then reckoned up in price, and their aggregate value was found to be above two thousand pounds sterling- ἀργυρίου μυριάδας πέντε . The sacred historian, after recording so decided a triumph, adds with hearty emphasis “so mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” Acts 19:20.
But “no small stir”- τάραχος οὐκ ὀλίγος -was made by the progress of Christianity and its victorious hostility to magic and idolatry. The temple of Diana or the oriental Artemis had long been regarded as one of the wonders of the world. The city claimed the title of νεωκόρος , a title which, meaning originally “temple-sweeper,” was regarded at length as the highest honour, and often engraved on the current coinage. Guhl, p. 124; Conybeare and Howson, vol. ii. p. 76. The town-clerk artfully introduced the mention of this dignity into the commencement of his speech, for though all the Ionic Hellenes claimed an interest in the temple, and it was often named ὁ τῆς ᾿Ασίας ναός , yet Ephesus enjoyed the special function of being the guardian or sacristan of the edifice. The Ephesians were quite fanatical in their admiration and wardenship of the magnificent Ionic colonnades. The quarries of Mount Prion had supplied the marble; the art and wealth of Ephesian citizens and the jewellery of Ephesian ladies had been plentifully contributed for its adornment; its hundred and twenty-seven graceful columns, some of them richly carved and coloured, were each the gift of a king; its doors, ceiling, and staircase were formed respectively of cypress, cedar, and vine-wood; it had an altar by Praxiteles and a picture by Apelles; and in its coffers reposed no little of the opulence of Western Asia. Thus Xenophon deposited in it the tithe- τὴν δεκάτην -which had been set apart at Athens from the sale of slaves at Cerasus. Anab. 5.34. A many-breasted idol of wood, rude as an African fetich, was worshipped in its shrine, in some portion of which a meteoric stone may have been inserted, the token of its being “the image that fell from Jupiter”- τοῦ διοπετοῦς . Still further, a flourishing trade was carried on in the manufacture of silver shrines- ναοί -or models of a portion of the temple. These are often referred to by ancient writers, and as few strangers seem to have left Ephesus without such a memorial of their visit, this artistic “business brought no small gain to the craftsmen.” But the spread of Christianity was fast destroying such gross and material superstition and idolatry, for one of its first lessons was, as Demetrius rightly declared “they be no gods which are made with hands.” The shrewd craftsman summoned together his brethren of the same occupation- τεχνῖται , ἐργάται -laid the matter before them, represented the certain ruin of their manufacture, and the speedy extinction of the worship of Diana of Ephesus. The trade was seized with a panic, and raised the uproarious shout “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” “The whole city was filled with confusion.” A mob was gathered and seemed on the eve of effecting what Demetrius contemplated, the expulsion or assassination of the apostle and his coadjutors by lawless violence, so that no one could be singled out or punished for the outrage. It would seem, too, that this tumult took place at that season of the year-the month of May, sacred to Diana, the period of the Pan-Ionic games-when a vast concourse of strangers had crowded into Ephesus, so that t he masses were the more easily alarmed and collected. The émeute was so sudden, that “the most part knew not wherefore they had come together.” As usual on such occasions in the Greek cities, the rush was to the theatre, to receive information of the cause and character of the outbreak. ( Theatrum ubi consultare mos est. Tacitus, Hist. 2.80.) Two of Paul's companions were seized by the crowd, and the apostle, who had escaped, would himself have very willingly gone in- εἰς τὸν δῆμον -and faced the angry and clamorous rabble, if the disciples, seconded by some of the Asiarchs or presidents of the games, who befriended him, had not prevented him. A Jew named Alexander, probably the “coppersmith,” and, as a Jew, well known to be an opponent of idolatry, strove to address the meeting- ἀπολογεῖσθαι τῷ δήμῳ -probably to vindicate his own race, who had been long settled in Ephesus, from being the cause of the disturbance, and to cast all the blame upon the Christians. But his appearance was the signal for renewed clamour, and for two hours the theatre resounded with the fanatical yell “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” The town-clerk or recorder- γραμματεύς -a magistrate of high standing and multifarious and responsible functions in these cities, had the dexterity to pacify and dismiss the rioters, first, by an ingenious admixture of flattery, and then by sound legal advice, telling them that the law was open, that the great Ephesian assize was going on- ἀγοραῖοι ἄγονται -and that all charges might be formally determined before the sitting tribunal “and there are deputies- καὶ ἀνθύπατοί εἰσιν ; while other matters might be determined- ἐν τῷ ἐννόμῳ ἐκκλησίᾳ -in the lawful assembly.” Such a scene could not fail to excite more inquiry into the principles of the new religion, and bring more converts within its pale. The Divine traveller immediately afterwards left the city. After visiting Greece, he sailed for Jerusalem, and touching at Miletus, he sent for the presbyters of the Ephesian church, and delivered to them the solemn parting charge recorded in Acts 20:18-35.
1 Conybeare and Howson, vol. ii. pp. 80, 81.
II. Title and Destination of the Epistle.
It can surely be no matter of wonder that the apostle should afterwards correspond with a community which had such an origin and history as the church of Christ in Ephesus. We cannot sympathize with Conybeare in his remark, that it “is a mysterious dispensation of Providence” that Paul's epistle to the metropolitan church at Ephesus “should not have been preserved to us.” For we believe that it has been preserved, and that we have it rightly named in the present canon of the New Testament. And such is the general testimony of the early church.
Great stress cannot be laid on the evidence of Ignatius. In the twelfth chapter of his own epistle to the Ephesians, according to the longer reading, there is no distinct reference to the Pauline epistle, though there is a high probability of it; but there is an allusion to the apostle, and an intimation that ἐν πάσῃ ἐπιστολῇ “in the whole epistle,” he makes mention of them. But in the briefer form of the Ignatian composition-that found in a Syriac version-the entire chapter, with the one before and after it, is left out, and, according to the high authority of Bunsen and Cureton, they are all three decidedly spurious. Yet even in the Syriac version the diction is taken, to a great extent, from the canonical book. It abounds in such resemblances, that one cannot help thinking that Ignatius, writing to Ephesus, thought it an appropriate beauty to enrich his letter with numerous forms of thought, style, and imagery, from that epistle which an inspired correspondent had once sent to the church in the same city. According to one recension, we have allusions to Ephesians 1:1 in cap. ix., and to Ephesians 4:4 in cap. vi.
Irenaeus, in the second century, has numerous references to the epistle, and prefaces a quotation from Ephesians 5:30 by these words- καθὼς ὁ μακάριος Παῦλός φησιν , ἐν τῇ πρὸς ᾿Εφεσίους ἐπιστολῇ “as the blessed Paul says in his epistle to the Ephesians.” Again, quoting Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:13-15, he begins by affirming- quomodo apostolus Ephesiis dicit; and similarly does he characterize Ephesians 1:13 - in epistola quoe ad Ephesios est, dicens. Again, referring to Ephesians 5:13, he says, τοῦτο δὲ καὶ ὁ Παῦλος λέγει . Adversus Haeres., lib. v. pp. 104, 718, 734, 756.
Nor is the testimony of Clement of Alexandria, later in the same century, less decisive; for, in the fourth book of his Stromata, quoting Ephesians 5:21, he says- διὸ καὶ ἐν τῇ πρὸς ᾿Εφεσίους γράφει ; and in his Paedagogue he introduces a citation from Ephesians 4:13-14, by a similar formula- ᾿Εφεσίοις γραφών . Opera, pp. 499, 88, Colon. 1688. His numerous other allusions refer it plainly to the Apostle Paul.
In the next century we find Origen, in his book against Celsus, referring to the Epistle to the Ephesians, as first in order, and then to the Epistles to the Colossians, Thessalonians, Philippians, and Romans, and speaking of all these compositions as the words of Paul- τοὺς Παύλου λόγους . Contra Celsum, lib. iii. p. 122, ed. Spencer, Cantabrigiae, 1677. Again, in his tract On Prayer, he expressly refers to a statement- ἐν τῇ πρὸς ᾿Εφεσίους .
The witness of Tertullian is in perfect agreement. For example, in his book De Monogamia, cap. v., he says- Dicit apostolus, ad Ephesios scribens, quoting Ephesians 1:10. Again, in the thirty-sixth chapter of his De Praescriptionibus, his appeal is in the following terms- Age jam, qui voles curiositatem melius exercere in negotio salutis tuae, percurre ecclesias apostolicas, apud quas ipsae adhuc cathedrae apostolorum suis locis praesident, apud quas ipsae authenticae litterae eorum recitantur . . . si potes in Asiam tendere, habes Ephesum. Lastly, in lib. iv. cap. 5 of his work against Marcion, we find him saying- Videamus, quid legant Philippenses, Thessalonicenses, Ephesii. Opera, vol. i. p. 767, vol. ii. pp. 33, 165, ed. Oehler, 1854.
Cyprian, in the next age, is no less lucid; for, in the seventh chapter of the third book of his Testimonies, he uses this language- Paulus apostolus ad Ephesios; quoting Ephesians 4:30-31, and in his seventy-fifth epistle he records his opinion thus- sed et Paulus apostolus hoc idem adhuc apertius et clarius manifestans ad Ephesios scribit et dicit, Christus dilexit ecclesiam; 5.25. Opera, pp. 280 and 133, ed. Paris, 1836.
Such is the verdict of the ancient church. But though its testimony is so decisive, it is not unanimous. Still, this diversity of opinion only confirms the evidence of the vast majority. In consequence, however, of this exception, the question whether the common title to this epistle be the correct one, has been matter of prolonged controversy, and a variety of opinion still exists among expositors and critics. Apart from the evidence already adduced, the settlement of the question depends, to a great extent, on the idea formed of the genuineness of the words ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ in the first verse. The old versions are unanimous in their favour, and among existing MSS. only three throw any doubt upon them. “But what are these among so many?” In Codex 67, they have been deleted by some later correctionist. In Codex B they stand on the margin, as an apparent supplement of the discovered omission by the original copyist, according to Hug; but according to Tischendorf, on whose critical acumen and experience we place a higher confidence, they are an evident emendation from a second and subsequent hand. In the Codex Sinaiticus yet unpublished, they are absent, but supplied in like manner by a later hand.
Origen, as quoted in Cramer's Catena, says- ἐπὶ μόνων ᾿Εφεσίων εὕρομεν κείμενον , τὸ “ τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς οὖσι· ” καὶ ζητοῦμεν εἰ μὴ παρέλκει προσκείμενον τὸ “ τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς οὖσι ,” τί δύναται σημαίνειν . ὅρα οὖν εἰ μὴ ὥσπερ ἐν τῇ ᾿Εξόδῳ ὄνομα φησιν ἑαυτοῦ ὁ χρηματίζων Μωσεῖ τὸ ὤν , οὕτως οἱ μετέχοντες τοῦ ὄντος , γίνονται ὄντες , καλούμενοι οἱονεὶ ἐκ τοῦ μὴ εἶναι εἰς τὸ εἶναι· “ ἐξελέξατο γὰρ ὁ Θεὸς τὰ μὴ ὄντα ,” φησὶν ὁ αὐτὸς Παῦλος , “ ἵνα τὰ ὄντα καταργήσῃ .” “We found the phrase ‘to the saints that are,’ occurring only in the case of the Ephesians, and we inquire what its meaning may be. Observe then whether, as He who revealed His name to Moses in Exodus calls His name I AM, so they who are partakers of the I am, are those who be, being called out of non-existence into existence-for God, as Paul himself says, chose the things that are not that He might destroy the things that are.” This, however, must be compared with the references in Origen previously given by us.
The declaration of Basil of Cappadocia, not unlike that of Origen, has often been quoted and discussed. The object of Basil is to show that the Son of God cannot be said to be ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων , because He is ὄντως ὤν ; for while the Gentiles who know Him not are called οὐκ ὄντα , His own people are expressly named οἱ ὄντες . The following is his proof from Scripture, and he must have been sadly in lack of argument when he could resort to it: ᾿Αλλὰ καὶ τοῖς ᾿Εφεσίοις ἐπιστέλλων ὡς γνησίως ἡνωμένοις τῷ ὄντι δἰ ἐπιγνώσεως , ὄντας αὐτοὺς ἰδιαζόντως ὠνόμασεν , εἰπών· τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς οὖσι καὶ πιστοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ ᾿Ιησοῦ· οὕτω γὰρ καὶ οἱ πρὸ ἡμῶν παραδεδώκασι , καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐν τοῖς παλαιοῖς τῶν ἀντιγράφων εὑρήκαμεν . “But also writing to the Ephesians, as being truly united by knowledge to Him WHO IS; he called them in a special sense THOSE WHO ARE, saying, To the saints τοῖς οὖσι , WHO ARE, and the faithful in Christ Jesus. For thus those before us have transmitted it, and we have found it in the ancient copies.” No little refinement and subtlety have been employed in the analysis of these words. It does not much concern the critical fact which Basil states, whether, with L'Enfant, Wolf, and Lardner, we understand him as basing his argument on the article τοῖς ; or whether, with Wiggers, we regard him as discovering his mystical exegesis in the participle οὖσιν ; or whether, with Michaelis and Koppe, we hold that τοῖς οὖσι is the phrase on which the absurd emphasis is placed. The fact is plain, that in ancient MSS. handed down from previous centuries, he had found the first verse without the words ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ , and thus- τοῖς οὖσι καὶ πιστοῖς . Had the phrase ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ occurred in the clause, Basil's ingenuity could have found neither impulse nor pabulum; and there is no proof that it ever stood in the verse in any other position than that occupied by it in the majority of Codices. Saints, says the father, are there called οἱ ὄντες -they who are-that is, persons in actual possession of spiritual existence; and they receive this appellation after Him WHO IS- ὁ ὤν -the Being of pure and underived essence. The omission of the words ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ could only warrant such a phantasy, for otherwise the statement might have been founded as well on the initial verses of the Epistles to Rome or Philippi. The sum of Basil's statement is, that in the early copies which he had consulted, ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ was wanting; but the inference is, that the words existed in the copies then in common circulation, nay, that the father himself looked upon the epistle as inscribed to the church in Ephesus. At the same time, Basil does not state how many old copies he saw, nor in what countries they originated, nor what was their general character for accuracy. The corroborative assertion that he himself had seen them, would seem to indicate that they were neither numerous nor of easy access. He does not appeal to the received and ordinary reading of the verse, but prides himself on a various reading which he had discovered in ancient copies, and which does not seem to have been commonly known, and he finally interposes his own personal inspection and veracity as the only vouchers of his declaration.
The statement of Jerome is not dissimilar. In his Commentary on Ephesians 1:1, he says - Quidam curiosius quam necesse est, putant ex eo, quod Moysi dictum sit: Haec dices filiis Israel, qui est misit me, etiam eos, qui Ephesi sunt, sancti et fideles essentiae vocabulo nuncupatos, ut ab eo qui est, hi qui sunt appellentur. Alii vero simpliciter non ad eos qui sunt, sed qui Ephesi sancti et fideles sunt, scriptum arbitrantur. Opera, ed. Vallarsius, tom. vii. p. 543. “Some, with an excessive refinement, think from what was said to Moses-‘These words shalt thou say to the children of Israel, HE WHO IS, has sent me’-that the saints and faithful at Ephesus are addressed by a term descriptive of essence, as if from him WHO IS, they had been named THEY WHO ARE. Others, indeed, suppose that the epistle was written not simply to those WHO ARE, but to those WHO ARE AT EPHESUS, saints and faithful.” The language of Jerome does not warrant, so explicitly as that of Basil, the supposition that he found any copies wanting the words, in Ephesus. At the same time, it is a strange misapprehension of Böttger ( Beiträge, etc. iii. p. 37) and Olshausen to imagine, that Jerome did not himself adopt the common reading, when he expressly delivers his opinion in the very quotation. One would almost think, with Meyer, that Jerome speaks of persons who gave οὖσι a pregnant sense, though it stood in connection with ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ ; but the origination of such an exegesis in this verse only, and in none others of identical phraseology, surpasses our comprehension for its absurdity and caprice. Probably Jerome records the mere fact or existence of such an interpretation, though he might not have seen, and certainly does not mention, any MSS. on whose peculiar omission it might have been founded. He would , in all likelihood, have pointed out the origin of the quaint exegesis from the absence of the local designation, if he had known it; and the apparent curiositas of the explanation lay in the fact, that τοῖς οὖσιν had an evident and natural connection with ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ . Such a hypothesis appears to be warranted by the order in which he arranges the words in his Latin version- qui Ephesi sunt sancti et fideles -as if in order to give countenance to the alleged interpretation, the words ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ had, in construing the sentence, been dislodged from their proper position. The probability is, however, that Jerome refers to the passage from Origen already quoted; for in his preface he says- Illud quoque in prefatione commonco ut sciatis Origenem tria volumina in hanc epistolam conscripsisse, quem et nos ex parte sequuti sumus.
The general unanimity of the ancient church is also seen in the peculiar and offensive prominence which was given to Marcion's fabrication. This heresiarch, among his other interpolations, altered the title of the epistle, and addressed it to the Laodiceans- πρὸς Λαοδικέας . One of the most acute and vigorous of the ancient fathers thus describes and brands the forgery- Praetereo hic et de aliâ epistolâ quam nos ad Ephesios praescriptam habemus, haeretici vero ad Laodicenos. . . . Ecclesiae quidem veritate epistolam istam ad Ephesios habemus emissam, non ad Laodicenos: sed Marcion ei titulum aliquando interpolare gestiit, quasi et in isto diligentissimus explorator. Nihil autem de titulis interest, cum ad omnes apostolus scripserit, dum ad quosdam “I pass by in this place another epistle in our possession addressed to the Ephesians, but the heretics have inscribed it to the Laodiceans. . . . According to the true testimony of the church, we hold this epistle to have been sent to the Ephesians. But Marcion sometimes had a strong itching to change the title, as if in that matter he had been a very diligent inquirer. The question about titles is of no great moment, since the apostle wrote to all when he wrote to some.” Advers. Marcion, lib. v. cap. 11, 17; Opera, ed. Oehler, vol. ii. pp. 309, 323. We think it a strained inference on the part of Meyer, that Tertullian did not read ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ in his copies, since in such a case he would have appealed not to the testimony of the church, but to the words of the sacred text. But the testimony of the church and the testimony of the text were really identical, for it was only on the text as preserved by the church that her testimony could be intelligently based. By “title” in the preceding extract we understand, in accordance with Tertullian's usus loquendi, the superscription pref ixed to the epistle, not the address contained in Galatians 6:1. But if Marcion changed the extra-textual title, consistency must soon have obliged him also to alter the reading of the salutation, and change ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ into ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ . Tertullian, then, means to say, that Marcion in his critical tamperings had interfered with the constant and universal title of this epistle, and that he did this as the avowed result of minute inquiry and antiquarian research ( quasi diligentissimus explorator). We know not on what his judgment was founded. He may have found the epistle in circulation at Laodicea, or, as Pamelius conjectures in his notes on Tertullian, it was the interpretation he attached to Colossians 4:16 “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.” Marcion's view was not only in contradiction of the whole church, but his other literary misdemeanours throw a suspicion at once on the motives of his procedure, and on the sobriety and trustworthiness of his judgment.
The result of the whole inquiry is, that in some ancient copies the words ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ did not exist, and that some theologians built a doctrine upon the words of the clause as read with the omission; that the omission was not justified by the current MSS. in the third and fourth centuries; that the judgment of the ancient church, with such slight exceptions, regarded the epistle as inscribed to the Ephesians; and that one noted heretic imagined that the current title should be changed, and the inspired letter inscribed to the Laodiceans.
It seems strange indeed that this last opinion should have been adopted by any succeeding writers. Yet we find that several critics hold the view that the epistle was meant for the church at Laodicea, among whom are Grotius, Mill, du Pin, Wall, Archbishop Wake, the younger Vitringa, Venema, Crellius, Wetstein, Pierce, Benson, Whiston, Paley, Greswell, Huth, Holzhausen, Räbiger, and Constable. The only plausible argument for the theory is, that there are no personal references or salutations in the epistle-a circumstance supposed to be scarcely compatible with the idea of its being sent to Ephesus, a city in which Paul had lived and laboured, but quite in harmony with the notion of an epistle to the church in Laodicea, in which the apostle is supposed to have been a stranger. But such a hypothesis cannot set aside the all but unanimous voice of Christian antiquity. And how came it that out of all copies Laodicea has dropt, and that it is found in no early MS. or version, and that no ancient critic but Marcion ever dreamed of exchanging the local terms? Again, if Colossians 4:16 be appealed to in the phrase “the Epistle from Laodicea,” then if that is to be identified with the present Ephesian letter, it must have been written long prior to the epistle to Colosse-a conjecture at variance with many internal proofs and allusions; for the so-called epistle to Ephesus and that to Colo sse were composed about the same period, and despatched by the same trusty messenger, Tychicus. And how should the apostle command the Colossian church to salute in his name the brethren of Laodicea, if the Laodiceans had received such a communication by the very same messenger who carried the letter to Colosse, and who was charged to give them all minute particulars as to the apostle's welfare and thus comfort their hearts?
It is also to be borne in mind, that Marcion does not fully bear out this theory usually traced to him; for according to Epiphanius, while he had some parts, μέρη , of an epistle to the Laodiceans, he put into his canon as the seventh of Paul's epistles that to the Ephesians- ἑβδόμη πρὸς ᾿Εφεσίους . Haeres., xlii. cap. 9, p. 310, ed. Petavius; Paris, 1662. Whatever may be meant, in Colossians 4:16, by the epistle from Laodicea, it is plain that it cannot, as Stier supposes, be the epistle before us; and plainer still, that it cannot be the brief and tasteless forgery which now passes under the name of an Epistle to the Laodiceans.
Another hypothesis which has received a very large support is, that the epistle is an encyclical letter-a species of inspired circular not meant for any special church, but for a variety of connected communities. The idea was originated by Usher, in his Annales Veteris et Novi Testamenti, under the year 64 A.D.- Ubi notandum, in antiquis nonnullis codicibus (ut ex Basilii libro ii. adversùs Eunomium, et Hieronymi in hunc Apostoli locum commentario, apparet) generatim inscriptam fuisse hanc epistolam τοῖς ἁγίοις , τοῖς οὖσι , καὶ πιστοῖς ἐν Χριστῷ ᾿Ιησοῦ , vel (ut in litterarum encyclicarum descriptione fieri solebat) sanctis qui sunt . . . . et fidelibus in Christo Jesu, ac si Ephesum primò, ut praecipuam Asiae metropolim, missa ea fuisset; transmittenda inde ad reliquas (intersertis singularum nominibus) ejusdem provinciae ecclesias: ad quarum aliquas, quas Paulus ipse nunquam viderat, illa ipsius verba potissimùm spectaverint. His idea has been followed by a whole host of scholars and critics, by Garnier in his note to the place cited in Basil, by Ziegler, Hänlein, Justi, and Schmid, by such writers of “Introductions” as Michaelis, Eichhorn, Bertholdt, Credner, Schneckenburger, Hug, Feilmoser, Cellerier, Guerike, Horne, Böttger, Schott, and Neudecker, also by Neander, Hemsen, Schrader, Lünemann, Anger, Wiggers, Conybeare, and Burton, and by the commentators Bengel, Harless, Boehmer, Zachariae, Rückert, Matthies, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, Bloomfield, Meier, Macknight, Stier, and Bisping. These authors agree generally that Ephesus was not the exclusive recipient of the epistle, and the majority of them incline, in the face of all evidence, to hold the words ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ as a spurious interpolation. Others, such as Beza, Turner, Harless, Boehmer, Schott, Lünemann, Wiggers, Schrader, Ellicott, Schaff, and Hodge, reject this line of proof, and build their argument on another foundation-believing that Ephesus received the epistle, but that some daughter-churches in the immediate vicinity were associated with it. To such an opinion there is less objection, though, while it seems to solve some difficulties, it suggests others. The advocates of the encyclical character of the epistle are not agreed among themselves. Many suppose that the apostle left a blank space- τοῖς οὖσιν . . . καὶ πιστοῖς , and that the name of the intended place was filled in either by Paul himself in the several copies ere they were despatched, or by Tychicus as opportunity prompted, or that copies were transcribed in Ephesus with the proper address inserted in each. Each of these hypotheses is shaped to serve an end-to explain why so many Codices have ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ , and none ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ . There are some who believe that no blank room was originally left at all, but that the sentence is in itself complete. With such an extraordinary view, the meaning differs according as οὖσιν is joined to the preceding ἁγίοις or the following πιστοῖς . Meier and Credner join οὖσιν to πιστοῖς , and render den Heiligen, die auch getreu sind “the saints who are also faithful,” an interpretation which cannot be sustained. See under Ephesians 1:1, Philippians 3:4. Credner propounds a worse view, and regards πιστοῖς as signifying genuine Pauline Christians. Schneckenburger and Matthies connect οὖσιν with ἁγίοις , the latter giving a sense- welche da sind -which Bengel had already advanced - qui praesto sunt -that is, as he explains it, in the places which Tychicus was under commission to visit. Schneckenburger renders to the saints who are really so- den Heiligen die es in der That sind. Gresswell holds a similar view; but the numerous so-called similar Greek formulae which he adduces are not in point. Now the usual exordiums of the apostle are fatal to these hypotheses, for in them not only is the place of destination named, even though, as in the case of Galatia, it include a province or circuit of churches, but the participle is simply used along with the local name and without pregnant emphasis.
How the words ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ came to be dropt out of the text, as Basil affirms, we know not. Perhaps some early copyist, seeing the general nature of the epistle, left out the formula, to give it the aspect of universal applicability. Or, the churches “in Asia” claiming an interest in the apostle and his letters might have copies without the special local designation; or, as Wieseler suggests, the tendency of the second century to take away personal reference out of the New Testament, may have led to the omission, just as the words ἐν ῾Ρώμῃ are left out in several MSS. of the Epistle to the Romans, Romans 1:7.
External evidence is thus wholly against the notion that either Laodicea by itself, or Ephesus with a noted cluster of sister communities, was the designed and formal recipient of this epistle. Nor is the result of internal proof more in favour of such hypotheses. It is argued that the apostle sends no greetings to Ephesus-a very strange omission, as he had laboured there three years, and must have known personally the majority of the members of the church. But the argument is two-edged, for Paul's long years of labour at Ephesus must have made him acquainted with so many Christian people there, that their very number may have prevented him from sending any salutation. A roll far longer than the epistle itself might have been filled, and yet the list would have by no means been exhausted. Omissions might have given offence, and Tychicus, who was from the same province, seems to have been charged with all such private business. In churches where the apostles knew only a few prominent individuals, they are greeted, as in Philippi, Colosse, Rome, and Corinth. It is also objected that an air of distance pervades the epistle, and that it indicates nothing of that familiarity which the previous three years' residence must certainly have induced. This idea is no novelty. Theodoret, in the preface to his Exposition, refers to some who were led to suppose from such language that Paul wrote this letter before he had visited the Ephesians at all. Euthalius and the author of the Synopsis of sacred Scripture found in the works of Athanasius, express a similar opinion. To such statements, either in their simple or more exaggerated form, we certainly demur, as the proofs adduced in their behalf do by no means sustain them. The expression in Ephesians 1:15 has been u sually fixed on “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints.” But this statement is no proof that Paul was a stranger. It rather indicates the reverse, as may be seen by consulting our comment on the place. Dr. Davidson and others instance the similar use of ἀκούσας in the letter to Philemon, so that the inference based on the use of the term in Ephesians cannot be justified. The same remarks apply to other passages commonly adduced to prove the encyclical nature of the Ephesian epistle. In Ephesians 3:2 the apostle says- εἴγε ἠκούσατε , rendered by some “if ye have heard of the dispensation of grace committed to me for you.” But the phraseology does not express doubt. Constable maintains that εἴγε everywhere has the idea of doubt attached to it. Essays, p. 90. But the statement is unguarded, as the particle puts the matter in a hypothetical shape, and by its use and position takes for granted the truth of what is stated or assumed. Klotz-Devarius, ii. p. 308. Constable also refers to the commendation given to Tychicus, Ephesians 6:21, as if that implied that he was a stranger. But Tychicus might be of Asia, and yet not of Ephesus-while the eulogy pronounced upon him is a species of warrant, that whatever he said about the apostle and his private affairs to them might be absolutely credited; for he was intimate with the apostle “beloved”-and he was trusty. On the other hand, there are not a few distinct intimations of the writer's personal knowledge of those whom he addressed. He writes to them as persons whom he knew as sealed with the Spirit, as exhibiting the possession of faith and love-the Gentile portion of them as one with the believing Jews-as so well acquainted with him that they were prone to faint at his sufferings, as having enjoyed distinct and plenary instruction, and as taking such a deep interest in his perso nal affairs, that they would be comforted by the appearance of Tychicus. And these statements are also direct language, pointedly addressed to one community, and not vaguely to an assemblage of churches, unless they were regarded as one with it. In short, the letter is intended for advanced Christians; and such surely were those, so many of whom had for so long a period enjoyed instruction from the apostle's own lips. Some years had elapsed since he had been at Ephesus, and perhaps on that account personal reminiscences were not inserted into the communication. “Nothing,” as Dr. Davidson says, “is more unjust than to restrict the apostle of the Gentiles, in his writings, to one unvarying method.” The opinion of Wetstein, Lünemann, and de Wette, that this epistle is written to Gentile converts, while the church at Ephesus was composed principally of Jews, is not according to the facts of the history, nor according to the language of the epistle. It is true that the first members of that church were Jews, and that the twelve converted disciples of John seem to have formed its nucleus. But was not Paul forced to leave the synagogue? and what raised the ferment about the falling off in the sale of shrines? Still we cannot accede to some commentators and Dr. Davidson, that when Paul, in the first chapter, uses ἡμεῖς he means himself and the Jewish converts; but when he employs ὑμεῖς , the Gentile disciples are alone intended. There is no hint that such is the case; and is it solely for the Gentile Christians that the magnificent prayer in the first chapter is presented? There is nothing so distinctive about “we” as to confine it to Jews, or about “ye” as to restrict it to heathens, save where, as in Ephesians 2:11, the apostle marks the limitation himself.
Timothy indeed is mentioned in the salutation to the Colossians, but not in that to the Ephesians. But this fact affords no argument against us; for no matter in what form the solution is offered, whether Timothy be supposed to have been absent from Rome, or to have been in Ephesus, or to have been a stranger at the time to the Ephesian church-no matter which hypothesis is adopted, the absence of the name does not prove the encyclical character of the epistle. There may be many reasons unknown to us why Timothy's name was left out. If Timothy came to Ephesus soon after the arrival of the epistle, Tychicus might have private information to communicate about him, or have a letter from himself. So that as his personal teaching was so soon to be enjoyed, this epistle emanates solely from the great apostle.
We are therefore brought to the conclusion that the epistle was really meant for and originally entituled to the church at Ephesus. The strong external evidence is not weakened by internal proof or statement; the seal and the superscription are not contradicted by the contents. Such was the opinion of the ancient church as a body, as seen in its MSS., quotations, commentaries, and all its versions; of the mediaeval church; and in more modern times of the commentators Calvin, Bucer, Wolf, Estius, Crocius, Piscator, Cocceius, Witsius, Zanchius, Bodius, Rollock, Aretius, Van Til, Röell, Quandt, Fergusson, Dickson, Chandler, Whitby, Lardner, and more recently of Cramer, Morus, Meyer, Davidson, Stuart, Alexander, Rinck, Wurm, Wieseler, Alford, Newland, and Wordsworth.
III. Genuineness of the Epistle.
The proofs that the Apostle Paul wrote this letter are stronger still than those which vouch for the correctness of its present title. It may be doubted, with Meyer, whether at least the first of the two citations usually adduced from the twelfth chapter of Polycarp's letter to the Philippians be one from this epistle, since it may be regarded as taken from the Old Testament; and perhaps the formula introducing both is more usually employed in reference to the Old Testament than the New. Patres Apostolici, ed. Jacobson, vol. ii. p. 487. In the first chapter of the same letter there is a quotation from Ephesians 2:8-9 - ὅτι χάριτί ἐστε σεσωσμένοι , οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων . Id. vol. ii. p. 466. Besides the authorities already given, we might refer to Origen, who, in his Commentary on John, says- Πῶς ὁ Παῦλος φησί που , καὶ ἤμεθα τέκνα φύσει ὀργής . Again, in his Commentary on Matthew, he refers to Ephesians 5:32, under the same heading- ὡς Παῦλος φησίν . Commentaria, ed. Huet. vol. i. p. 497, ii. p. 315. From Polycarp downwards, through the succession of patristic correspondents, apologists, and commentators, the evidence is unanimous, and even Marcion did not secede from this catholic unity, nor apparently did the Valentinians. Irenaeus, Adv. Haeres. § Ephesians 1:8; Ephesians 1:5. The heretics, as well as the orthodox, agreed in acknowledging the Pauline authorship. The quotations already adduced in reference to the title, are, at the same time, a sample of the overwhelming evidence. But de Wette, Usteri, Baur, and Schwegler, have risen up against this confronting host of authorities, and cast suspicion on the Pauline origin. Ewald, too, in his die Sendschreiben des Apostels Paulus, etc., omits the Epistle to the Ephesians, and regards the salutations in the last chapter of Romans as a fragment of an epistle sent to Ephesus. Not that there is any external fact in their favour; n or that any ancient writer falters in his belief, or hints that any of his predecessors or contemporaries had the least hesitation. Nay, the evidence may be traced back to the first link: for the Apostle John lived long at Ephesus, and there Polycarp must have learned from him that Paul was the author; while Irenaeus, who is so decided in his testimony, enjoyed the tuition of Polycarp. And what shall we say of the additional witness of Ignatius and Origen, of Clement and Tertullian, Basil and Cyprian? But these German critics have a test of their own, and they apply it at once, not to the external history or chain of proof, but to the contents of the epistle. So thoroughly do they believe themselves imbued with the spirit and idiom of the inspired writer, that they can feel at once, and by an infallible sense, whether any composition ascribed to him be genuine or spurious. They may not be able to detail the reasons of their critical feeling, but they rely with calm self-possession on their aesthetical instincts.
De Wette adduces against the genuineness of this epistle, its dependency ( Abhängigkeit) on that to the Colossians-a thing, he says, without example, except in the case of the First Epistle to Timothy, which is also spurious. This epistle is only a mere “verbose expansion”- wortreiche Erweiterung -of that to the Colossians, and besides there are against it the employment of unusual words, phrases, parentheses, digressions, and pleonasms, and an indefinite un-Pauline colour and complexion, both in doctrine and diction. Einleit. in N. T. § 146. Take a sample of the resemblances from the first chapters of both epistles:-
EPHESIANS COLOSSIANS Ephesians 1:4 - εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ Colossians 1:22 - Παραστῆσαι ὑμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους καὶ ἀνεγκλήτους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ Ephesians 1:7 - ᾿Εν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ , τὴν ἄφεσιν τῶν παραπτωμάτων Colossians 1:14 - ᾿Εν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν , τὴν ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν Ephesians 1:10 - Εἰς οἰκονομίαν τοῦ πληρώματος τῶν καιρῶν , ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι τὰ πάντα ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ , τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ γῆς , ἐν αὐτῷ Colossians 1:20 - Καὶ δἰ αὐτοῦ ἀποκαταλλάξαι τὰ πάντα εἰς αὐτὸν , εἰρηνοποιήσας διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦσταυροῦ αὐτοῦ , δἰ αὐτοῦ , εἴτε τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς εἴτε τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς Ephesians 1:21 - ῾Ψπεράνω πάσης ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐξουσίας καὶ δυνάμεως καὶ κυριότητος καὶ παντὸς ὀνόματος ὀνομαζομένου οὐ μόνον ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι Colossians 1:16-18 - ῞Οτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς , τὰ ὁρατὰ καὶ τὰ ἀόρατα , εἴτε θρόνοι εἴτε κυριότητες εἴτε ἀρχαὶ εἴτε ἐξουσίαι . τὰ πάντα δἰ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται 17 Καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν πρὸ πάντων καὶ τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν 18 Καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ τοῦ σώματος , τῆς ἐκκλησίας· ὅς ἐστιν ἀρχή , πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν , γένηται ἐν πᾶσιν αὐτὸς ἵνα πρωτεύων
These resemblances are not so strong as to warrant the idea of imitation. The thought and connection are different in both epistles. Thus in Ephesians 1:4 perfection is presented as the end or ideal of the eternal choice; but in Colossians 1:22 it is held out as the result of Christ's death. The forgiveness of sins in Ephesians 1:7 is introduced differently from Colossians 1:14, though in both places it is in natural connection with Christ; in the first as a sequence of predestination, but in the second as an element of redemption, and as introductory to a description of the Redeemer's person. The references to the final effects of Christ's death, in the two epistles, are also different, both in introduction and aspect; it is recapitulation in Ephesians 1:10, and reconciliation in Colossians 1:20. In Ephesians 1:21 the apostle pictures Christ's official exaltation over all the heavenly hosts, but in Colossians 1:16; Colossians 1:18 he represents Christ as Creator, and therefore Head or Governor by essential and personal right. In both epistles Christ is κεφαλή , and the church is σῶμα ; but the accompanying illustration is different.
Other similar terms are selected by de Wette- πλήρωμα , Ephesians 1:23, Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9; μυστήριον , Ephesians 1:9, Colossians 1:26; καὶ ὑμᾶς ὄντας , Ephesians 2:1, Colossians 1:13. Then come such phrases as περιτομὴ χειροποίητος , Ephesians 2:11 - περιτομὴ ἀχειροποίητος , Colossians 2:11; ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι , Ephesians 2:12 and Colossians 1:21; ἐν δόγμασιν , Ephesians 2:15, and in Colossians 2:14; ἀποκαταλλάξαι , Ephesians 2:16 and Colossians 1:20. These resemblances, like the previous ones, are however in connections so different that they are proofs of originality, and not of imitation.
De Wette finds many other parallels, both in the thoughts of the general sections, and also in particular phrases; those in Ephesians being moulded from those in Colossians. Thus the paragraph, Ephesians 3:1-21, is said to be from Colossians 1:24-29, and the practical section, Ephesians 4:17 to Ephesians 6:20, is alleged to be from Colossians 3:5 to Colossians 4:4. Still these and many other similarities adduced by the objector are by no means close; some of them are not even striking parallels, and they have no tame or servile air about them. The passages in Ephesians are as bold, free, and natural, as they are in Colossians. There is nothing about them betraying imitation; nothing like a cautious or artistic selection of Pauline phrases, and setting them anew, as if to disguise the theft and trick out a spurious letter. Even Baur, who denies the Pauline authority of both epistles, admits that both may have had the same author. Paulus, p. 455- Dass der Epheserbrief in einem secundären Verhältniss zum Colosserbrief steht, geht aus allem klar hervor, ob er aber viel später geschreiben ist und einen andern zum Verfasser hat kann bezweifelt werden. Sollten nicht beide Briefe zusammen als Brüderpaar in die Welt ausgegangen seyn? Besides, as Meyer has remarked, so far from Ephesians being a verbose expansion of Colossians, as de Wette asserts, it shows in several places a brevity of allusion where there is fuller statement in Colossians. Compare Ephesians 1:15; Ephesians 1:17 -Colossians 1:3-6; Ephesians 4:32 -Colossians 3:12-14. The apostle's use of the quotation from the 68th Psalm, in Ephesians 4:8, is brought against him by de Wette, and, if so, what then shall we say of Romans 10:6; Romans 10:18? The quotation in Ephesians 5:14 is said by de Wette to be from an unbiblical writing, and therefore unapostolic in manner; but it is rather a free quotation from Isaiah 60:1, and is not without parallel even in the Gospels. Matthew 2:15; Matthew 2:23. Objections are also taken to the demonology, Ephesians 2:2, Ephesians 6:12, that it is exceptional; and to the characteristic epithets or clauses connected with the name of God, that they are singular, as in Ephesians 1:17, Ephesians 3:9; Ephesians 3:15, etc. Other peculiarities, as the prohibition of stealing and the comparison of Christ to a bridegroom, are brought forward for the same end. We may reply that not only are such representations apostolic, but that they are also Pauline, for in other Pauline writings, in some form or other, they find a place. The Epistle to the Ephesians has certainly no system of dogmas or circle of allusions peculiar to itself. It does in some points resemble that to the Colossians-but surely if two letters are written by the same person, about the same period, and upon kindred subjects, similarity of diction will inevitably occur. It would be the merest affectation to seek to avoid it, nor do the strictest notions of inspiration forbid it. The mind insensibly vibrates under the influence of former themes, and the earlier language unconsciously intrudes itself. And if the topics, though generally similar, are specifically different, we expect in the style generic resemblances, but specific variations. De Wette edited the correspondence of Luther, but he has not rejected any letter, which, written in the same month with a previous one upon some similar themes, is not unlike it in spirit and phrase. Such a phenomenon occurs in this epistle, for many of its verses contain diction somewhat similar to correspondent passages in Colossians. It is like that to the Colossians, and yet unlike it-not with the tawdry and dull similarity of imitation, disguised by the artful sprinkling of a few discrepancies; but it has that likeness which springs from unity of contemporaneous origin and theme, and that difference which results, at the same time, from living independent thought. And if it do contain un-Pauline thoughts and diction, how came it to be received? how was the forgery not detected? The reasoning against its genuineness seems to be on this wise.-It is so like Colossians that it cannot be an original document; but it is also so unlike other Pauline letters, that it cannot be ascribed to Paul. The statement neutralizes itself. If usual words prove it an imitation, what do the unusual words prove? Does not rather the natural combination of the so-called usual and unusual phrases mark it as a document akin to the other production, and having a purpose, at the same time, peculiar to itself? Every original composition on a distinct topic presents those very characteristics and affinities. But the whole is Pauline in spirit and form. As in the other acknowledged writings of Paul, so you have here the same easy connection of thought, by means of a series of participles-the same delight in compound terms, especially formed with ὑπέρ , and in words that border on pleonasm-the same tendency to go off at a word, and strike into a parenthesis-the same recurrence of γάρ and ὅτι introducing a reason, and of ἵνα pointing to a high and final cause-the same culmination of an argument, in the triumphant insertion of οὐ μόνον and μᾶλλον δέ -the same favourite formula of a conclusion or deduction in ἄρα οὖν -the same fondness for abstract terms, with the accumulation of exhaustive epithets-the same familiar appeal to the Old Testament, and striking illustrations drawn from it-the same occasional recurrence to personal authority and inspired warrant, in a mighty and irresistible ἐγώ or φημί -the same irregular and inconsequent syntax, as if thought jostled thought-the same rich and distinctive terminology that calls the gospel μυστήριον , and prefixes πλοῦτος to so many of its blessings; that includes δικαιοσύνη , πίστις , κλῆσις , καταλλαγή , and ζωή among its distinctive doctrines; that places υἱοθεσία , οἰκοδομή , ἀνακ αίνωσις , and προσαγωγή among its choicest privileges; that gives Jesus the undivided honour of σωτήρ , κεφαλή , κύριος , and κριτής ; and in its ethics opposes πνεῦμα to σάρξ , finds its standard in νόμος , its power in ἀγάπη , and its reward in ἐλπίς with its rich and eternal κληρονομία . The style and theology of Paul are the same here as elsewhere; and we are struck with the same lofty genius and fervid eloquence; the same elevated and self-denying temperament; the same throbbings of a noble and yearning heart; the same masses of thought, luminous and many-tinted, like the cloud which glows under the reflected splendours of the setting sun; the same vigorous mental grasp which, amidst numerous digressions, is ever easily connecting truths with first principles-all these, the results of a master mind into which nature and grace had poured in royal profusion their rarest and richest endowments.
If, therefore, there be generic sameness in the two epistles to Ephesus and Colosse, it is only in keeping; but if there be specific difference, it is only additional resemblance. If there should be thirty-eight ἅπαξ λεγόμενα in this epistle, there are forty in the first two chapters of Colossians, above a hundred in Romans, and no less than two hundred and thirty in the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians. (See our Introduction to Colossians.) The writer does use some peculiar terms, but why not? Might there not be many reasons in the modes of thought and speech peculiar to Ephesus, and perfectly familiar to the apostle, that led him to use in this epistle such words and phrases as ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις , Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 1:20, Ephesians 2:6, Ephesians 3:10, Ephesians 6:12; τὰ πνευματικά , Ephesians 6:12; διάβολος , Ephesians 4:27, Ephesians 6:11; κοσμοκράτωρ , Ephesians 6:12; σωτήριον , Ephesians 6:16; οἰκονομία , Ephesians 1:10, Ephesians 3:2; Ephesians 3:9; μυστήριον , Ephesians 5:32; πλήρωμα , Ephesians 1:23; εὐλογία , Ephesians 1:3; αἰών , Ephesians 2:2; περιποίησις , Ephesians 1:14; ἀφθαρσία , Ephesians 6:24; μανθάνειν , Ephesians 4:20; φωτίζειν , Ephesians 3:9; πληροῦσθαι ἐν , Ephesians 5:18; and εἰς , Ephesians 3:19; βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ Χριστοῦ , Ephesians 5:5; τὸ θέλημα τοῦ κυρίου , Ephesians 5:17. The forms of construction excepted against are without any difficulty, such as ἵνα with the optative, Ephesians 1:17, Ephesians 3:16; ἴστε γινώσκοντες , Ephesians 5:5; and ἵνα φοβῆται , Ephesians 5:33. Nor is there any stronger proof of spuriousness in the want of the article in the instances adduced by the objector. Any forger who had studied the apostle's style, could easily have avoided such little singularities. In fine, what de Wette calls pleonasms ( Breite und Pleonasmus), as in Ephesians 1:19, Ephesians 6:10, are clauses where each word has its distinctive meaning; various relations and aspects of one great idea being se t out in their connection or development. And if the epistle be a forgery, it is a base one, for the author of it distinctly and frequently personates the apostle “I Paul” “I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ,” etc. Indeed, the imitation is so good, that de Wette ascribes it to the first century, and to a pupil of the apostle's. We can scarcely suppose that an imposition so gross could be associated with a genius so lofty as that which has composed such a letter. Nor can we imagine that the Ephesian church would not detect the plagiarism. This “discerning of spirits” was one of their special gifts, for the keen and honest exercise of which the Saviour eulogizes them when he says: “Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles and are not, but hast found them liars.” Revelation 2:2.
There is, as we have said, that natural difference of style which arises from difference of subject and situation, in itself a proof of Pauline authorship. But we deny that there is any inferiority, such as de Wette complains of, or any of that verbosity, tedious and imperfect illustration, or superfluity of terms which are adduced by him as objections. The style betokens fulness of thought and a rich mind. There is order without system, reasoning without technical argument, progress without syllogistic landmarks, the connection free and pliant as in a familiar letter-all converging on one great end, and yet with a definite aim in the several parts. The immediate terms are clear and precise, and yet the thoughts are superposed-
“With many a winding bout
In linked sweetness long-drawn out.”
Each surge may be gauged, but the advancing tide is beyond measurement.
Therefore the attack of de Wette, faintly responded to by Usteri in his preface to his Paulin. Lehrbegriff, is wholly unwarranted. It is based upon critical caprice, and upon a restless subjectivity which gives its mere tastes the authority of argument. Though so often self-deceived and exposed, it still deludes itself with a consciousness of immense superiority, as if in possession of a second and subtle inspiration. We place in opposition to de Wette's opinion the following testimonies:-
Chrysostom, no mean judge of a Greek style, says in his preface to his Commentary, that as Ephesus was a place of intellectual eminence- ταῦτα δὲ ἡμῖν οὐχ ἁπλῶς εἴρηται , ἀλλ᾿ ὥστε δεῖξαι , ὅτι πολλῆς ἔδει τῷ Παύλῳ σπουδῆς πρὸς ἐκείνους γράφοντι . Λέγεται δὲ καὶ τὰ βαθύτερα τῶν νοημάτων αὐτοῖς ἐμπιστεῦσαι ἅτε ἤδη κατηχημένοις . ῎Εστι δὲ νοημάτων μεστὴ ἡ ἐπιστολὴ ὑψηλῶν καὶ δογμάτων . . . καὶ ὑψηλῶν σφόδρα γέμει τῶν νοημάτων καὶ ὑπερόγκων . ῝Α γὰρ μηδαμοῦ σχεδὸν ἐφθέγξατο ταῦτα ἐνταῦθα δηλοῖ . “Paul would necessarily take great pains and trouble in writing to the Christians there. He is said to have intrusted them with his profoundest conceptions, as they had been already so highly instructed, and the epistle is full of lofty conceptions and doctrines,” etc. Jerome says in his preface- Nunc ad Ephesios transeundum est, mediam apostoli epistolam, ut ordine ita et sensibus. Mediam autem dico, non quo primas sequens, extremis major sit, sed quomodo cor animalis in medio est, ut ex hoc intelligatis quantis difficultatibus, et quam profundis quaestionibus involuta sit. Erasmus testifies- Idem in hac epistola Pauli fervor, eadem profunditas, idem omnino spiritus ac pectus. Passing Luther and others, we refer to Witsius, who adds in his Meletemata Leidensia (p. 192), in higher phraseology- Ita vero universam religionis Christianae summam divina hac epistola exponit, ut exuberantem quandam non sermonis tantum Evangelici παῤῥησίαν , sed et Spiritus Sancti vim et sensum, et charitatis Christianae flammam quandam ex electo illo pectore emicantem, et lucis divinae fulgorem quendam admirabilem inde elucentem, et fontem aquae vivae inde scaturientem, aut ebullientem potius, animadvertere liceat: idque tantâ copia, ut superabundans illa cordis plenitudo, ipsa animi sensa intimosque conceptus, conceptus autem verba prolata, verba denique priora quaeque subsequentia, premant, urgeant, obruant. Grotius, too, no enthusiast, thus describes it- Rerum sublimitatem adaequans verbis sublimioribus quam ulla unquam habuit lingua humana. “In this,” says Coleridge, “the divinest composition of man, is every doctrine of Christianity, first, those doctrines peculiar to Christianity, and secondly, those precepts common to it with natural religion.” Table Talk, p. 82: London, 1851. Similar testimonies might be taken from Eichhorn's Einleitung, and from the prefaces of several of the commentators.
The attack upon the genuineness of this epistle (or rather both epistles, for Colossians is set aside as well as Ephesians) by the Tübingen school of criticism is of a different nature. Their idea is, that the epistle is a composition of the second century, and that it had its origin in the Valentinian Gnosticism. Baur, the Coryphaeus of the party, has openly maintained the extraordinary hypothesis. Schwegler, Zeller, and Schneckenburger have gone beyond their master in extravagance; while Bruno Bauer has surpassed them all in anti-Pauline bitterness and absurdity.
This hypothesis has its origin in the leading error of the Tübingen school, viz., that the original type of Christianity was nothing more than Ebionitism, and that its expansion by the apostle of the Gentiles was in direct antagonism to Peter, James, and the rest of the apostolical college. In proof, it is maintained that John, in speaking of only twelve apostles, in the Apocalypse, Revelation 21:14, excludes Paul from the sacred number, and that he praises these very Ephesians for having sifted and rejected his claims, when he says: “Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, but hast found them liars.” It is surely needless to dwell on the refutation of such an uncritical statement. An excellent reply to the whole delusion will be found in a recent work of Lechler, Das Apostolische und Nachapostolische Zeitalter, etc., 2nd ed. Stuttgart, 1857.
In fact, the entire theory is a huge anachronism. The Gnosticism of the second century was not wholly unchristian either in idea or nomenclature, but it took from Scripture whatever in thought or expression suited its specious theosophy, and borrowed such materials to a large extent from the epistles of the New Testament. Such a procedure may be plainly proved. The same process has been repeated in various forms, and in more recent times in Germany itself. The inference is not, as the critics hold, that the Epistles to Colosse and Ephesus are the product of Gnosticism in array against Ebionitism, but only that the Gnostic sophists gilded their speculations with biblical phraseology. As well, were it not for the long interval of centuries, might we infer that the pantheism of Strauss originated no little of the language of the Apostle John, rather than was copied from it; or that the Book of Mormon was the source of the original Scripture, and not, as it is, a clumsy and recent caricature. We may well ask-How could a document so distinctly Gnostic be accepted by the church, which was ever in conflict with Gnosticism?
Baur and his followers hold that this epistle is a Gnostic effusion, because of its exalted views of the person and reign of Christ, its allusions to various ranks in the heavenly hierarchy, its repeated employment of the term πλήρωμα and its allied verb, and its doctrine of the re-capitulation of all things in Christ, as if such teaching and even diction were not common in Paul's acknowledged epistles addressed to European churches. Thus the Christology is offensive to Baur, Ephesians 1:20, though the idea is found in 1 Corinthians 15:24. Why should not the apostle develop his ideas more fully on some points, in addressing churches in a region where errors on the same point might soon intrude? What connection have Gnostic aeons-shadowy and impalpable emanations from the Bythos or from one another-with those thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, over which Christ Jesus presides as Governor. Nay, the Gnostics distinguished Christ and Jesus as aeons; the former having, in fact, sent the latter as Saviour. The theosophic speculations of the Valentinians are applied by Baur to the term πλήρωμα , in a way that is wholly unwarranted by its occurrence in both epistles. In this epistle the term is applied to time, as marked out by God, and so fulfilled or filled up; to the church as filled by Christ, and to God as denoting His spiritually perfect nature; and to Christ in the phrase, “the stature of the fulness of Christ.” But in such phrases there is no allusion to any metaphysical notion of the Absolute, either to what contains it or what is contained in it. Most certainly in the nuptial illustrations, Ephesians 5:25, etc., there is no reference to male and female aeons, or to the Suzygies of the Valentinian system-such as that of the λόγος with ζωή from whom were generated ἄνθρωπος and ἐκκλησία , as if the relation of Christ to His church were a similar relation-absolute essence realizing and developing itself in a concrete Being, as the wife is the complement of the man- κατὰ συζυγίαν . One may indeed wonder how Baur could dream that in Ephesians 3:10 “that now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenly places might be made known by the church the manifold wisdom of God”-was contained the Gnostic idea of the aeon σοφία struggling to be united with βυθός , and her final return to the πλήρωμα through the συζυγία between Christ and His ἐκκλησία . Or who besides Baur could imagine that in the phrases- κατὰ τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ κόσμου τούτου… εἰς πάσας τὰς γενεὰς τοῦ αἰῶνος τῶν αἰώνων… πρόθεσις τῶν αἰώνων -there is a reference to the relation which the Gnostic aeons sustained to God, as the primal extratemporal unity of time individualizing Himself in them as periods, or to their relation to another in sexual union and development? Nay more, in the phrases “as is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets-ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets”-the quick eye of Baur discovers traces of Montanism-because in it prophets had a high and honoured place as the organs of divine communication. So that in his opinion the man who wrote those phrases must have lived at a period when so-called prophets enjoyed apostolic honour, and thus unconsciously betrays himself and the lateness of his time. As if in Acts, Romans, and 1st Corinthians there were no allusion to this class of men, or as if all those documents too had a post-apostolic origin! And then Baur would require to tell us how two systems so opposed as Montanism and Gnosticism could thus coalesce in the same epistle. The epithet ἅγιος applied to the apostles and prophets, betrays, according to de Wet te also, a late origin, and the writer manifests his lateness by his anxiety to identify himself and exalt himself-as an apostle, a prisoner for the Gentiles-a minister, less than the least of all saints-and ambassador in chains. What is this objection but dictating to the apostle how he shall write when an old man in a prison, what amount of personal reference shall go into his letters, or how large or small shall be the subjective elements in his communication to any particular community, and through it to all churches and for all time? The expression “less than the least of all saints”-is in no way inconsistent with such an exalted assertion as “by revelation he made known unto me the mystery;” for this refers to official function, and that only to personal emotion. A more decided contrast is found in 1 Corinthians 15:9 “the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle;” and 2 Corinthians 11:5 “I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.” Surely, then, the resemblance which the subsequent Gnosticism bears to these doctrines in its theosophy and angelology, is a proof that it borrowed the shadowy likeness, but no proof that out of it were manufactured the apostolic documents. In fine, the whole scheme has been overwhelmed with confusion; for it has been proved by citations from Hippolytus, that some books of the New Testament are quoted by him more than half a century before these Tübingen critics dated or allowed of their existence.
IV. Relationship of the Epistles to Ephesus and Colosse.
The letters of the apostle are the fervent outburst of pastoral zeal and attachment, written without reserve and in unaffected simplicity. Sentiments come warm from the heart without the shaping out, pruning, and punctilious arrangement of a formal discourse. There is such a fresh and familiar transcription of feeling, and so much of conversational frankness and vivacity, that the reader associates the image of the writer with every paragraph, and his ear seems to catch and recognize the very tones of oral address. These impressions must have been deepened by the thought that the letter came from “such an one as Paul the aged,” often a sufferer, and now a prisoner. If he could not speak, he wrote; if he could not see them in person, he despatched to them those silent messengers of love. Is it then any matter of amazement that one letter should resemble another, or that two written about the same time should have so much in common, and each at the same time so much that is peculiar? The close relationship between the epistles to Colosse and Ephesus must strike every reader, and the question has been raised, which of them is the earlier production. The answer is one very much of critical taste, and therefore different decisions have been given. A great host of names, which the reader will find in Davidson's Introduction, are in favour of the letter to Ephesus; but others, and these including Meyer, Harless, Wieseler, and Olshausen, declare for that to Colosse.
Neander says- Und daraus erhellt auch, dass er den Brief an die Colosser zuerst unter diesen beiden geschreiben hat; denn in demselben zeigen sich uns diese Gedanken in ihrer ursprünglichen Entstehung und Beziehung, wie sie durch den Gegensatz gegen jene in diesem Briefe von ihm bekämpfte Sekte hervorgerufen wurden. Geschichte der Pflanzung, etc., vol. i. p. 524, 4th ed. That is “In the epistle to the Colossians the apostle's thoughts exhibit themselves in their original form and connection, as they were called forth by his opposition to the sect (of Judaizing Gnostics) whose sentiments and practices he combats in that epistle.” Little stress can be laid on such an argument, for whenever the mind assumes an agonistic attitude, its thoughts have always more vigour and specialty, more pith and keenness, than when in calmness and peace it discusses any ordinary and impersonal topic. Harless and Wiggers have fixed upon Ephesians 6:21, compared with Colossians 4:8. In Colossians the apostle says of Tychicus, “Whom I have sent unto you that he might know your estate.” But in Ephesians he adds- καί , “that ye also may know my affairs, and what I am doing, Tychicus, a beloved brother, shall make known to you all things.” In using the word “also,” the apostle seems to refer to what he had said to the Colossians. Naturally he first says to the Colossians, “that ye may know,” but in a second letter to the Ephesians, “that ye also may know.” This hypothesis takes for granted that the Ephesians would know what was contained in the letter to Colosse, or at least that Tychicus would inform them of its existence, and of its reference to himself as the bearer of personal and private tidings of the apostle. The καί , however, may refer not to the Colossians, but to the apostle himself-as Alford puts it “I have been going at length into the mat ters concerning you, so if you also on your part wish to know my matters,” etc. The argument from καί , therefore, cannot be conclusively relied on. On the other hand, it is contended by Hug and others, that the absence of Timothy's name in the beginning of the Epistle to the Ephesians is a strong proof in favour of its priority. Various solutions have been given; one probability is, that Timothy was absent on some important embassy. These critics suppose that he had not by this time come to Rome, but did arrive ere Paul composed the Epistle to Colosse. This circumstance is too precarious for an argument to be founded upon it.
Efforts have been also made to demonstrate the priority of the Epistle to the Ephesians, from its containing no expression of any hopes of deliverance, and no reference to the success of the gospel, whereas these occur in the Epistle to the Philippians, written about the same time. But neither in Colossians are there any such intimations, and in the letter to Philemon, which Onesimus carried to him, as both he and Tychicus carried theirs to the Colossians, he says, generally “I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.” The question can scarce be solved on such data. It may be tried by another criterion. Supposing Paul to be in imprisonment, which of these two churches would he most probably write to, which of them stood most in need of an epistle, which of them was in circumstances most likely to attract the immediate attention of the prisoner-that of Ephesus or that of Colosse? Lardner has virtually laid down such a test. There might be many considerations inducing the apostle to write to the Ephesians soon after his arrival at Rome. Ephesus was a place of great importance and traffic, and in it Paul had stayed longer than in any other city, except Antioch. Here also he had wrought many and special miracles, and had enjoyed great success in his preaching. He had on a previous occasion determined to sail by Ephesus, and when he came to Miletus “he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church.” These things may have induced him to write first to Ephesus on his coming to Rome, and having liberty of correspondence. But we might thus reply to these statements. The Ephesian church had preserved its faith unsullied, for no reproof or warning is contained in the epistle. They stood in no immediate need of apostolic correspondence. No difficulty pressed them, for none is solved. No heresy had crept in among them, for none is refuted. But Colosse was threatened by a false system, which would corrupt t he simplicity of the gospel, which had in it the elements of discord and ruin, but which had a peculiar charm for the contemplative inhabitants of Phrygia, so prone to mysticism, and therefore would be the more seductive to the church of Colosse, and the more calculated to work havoc among its members. This being known to the apostle, such a jeopardy being set before him, would he not at once write to Colosse, expose the false system, warn against it, and exhort the adherents of Christianity to a stedfast profession? Would he not feel an immediate necessity for his interference, would not the case appear to his mind more urgent, and having more claim on his labour than the church of Ephesus, where truth was yet kept pure, and the fire on the altar ascended with a steady brilliancy? Thus, of such an argument as that of Lardner no advantage can be taken. Still, balancing probabilities in a matter where facts cannot be fully ascertained, we may incline to the opinion that the earlier epistle is that to the Colossians.
V. Place and Date of Its Composition.
The usual opinion has been that the epistle was written in Rome. Some of the later German critics, however, have concluded that Caesarea was the place of composition. Schulz in the Studien und Kritiken, 1829, p. 612, first broached this hypothesis, and he has been followed by Schneckenburger, Böttger, Reuss, Wiggers, and even by Schott, Thiersch, and Meyer.
We find that Paul when in Caesarea was subjected to very rigorous confinement. His own countrymen were bigoted and violent, and only his friends might come and minister unto him. Intercourse with other churches seems to have been entirely prohibited. On the other hand, in Rome the watch and ward, unstimulated by Jewish malice, were not so strict. The apostle might preach, and labour to some extent in his spiritual vocation. Again, Onesimus was with the apostle, a fugitive slave who would rather run and hide himself in the crowds of Rome, than flee to Caesarea where he might be more easily detected. Aristarchus and Luke were at Rome too, but there is no proof of their being with Paul at Caesarea. Besides, we have mention of the palace and “Caesar's household.” We cannot be brought to believe by all Böttger's reasoning, that such an expression might apply to Herod's royal dwelling in Caesarea. Surely Herod's house could never receive the lofty appellation of Caesar's. Antiquity, with the probability of fact, supports the notion that Rome was the place where the epistle was composed. Those who contend for Caesarea lay stress on the distance of Asia Minor from Rome, and on the omission of the name of Onesimus in the Epistle to the Ephesians, as if, setting out from Caesarea, the bearer of the letter would arrive at Colosse first, and Onesimus delivering himself up to his master, would not proceed with Tychicus onward to Ephesus. But there were peculiar reasons for commending Onesimus to the Colossian church. His flight and conversion would make him notorious and suspected. Besides, as Paul says, he was one of themselves, and if he touched at Ephesus first, he needed no formal introduction, being in the society of Tychicus. Emphasis is laid on the phrase πρὸς ὥραν , “for a season,” as if it signified “soon,” and referred to the period elapsing between the flight of the slave and his reaching Paul, a s if such brevity would be realized more likely at Caesarea than Rome. But, as has been answered, the phrase qualifies ἐχωρίσθη , and denotes that his separation from his master was only temporary. On the whole, the argument preponderates in favour of Rome as the place whence this epistle was despatched, and probably about the year 62. From the metropolis of the world, where luxury was added to ambition, and licentiousness bathed in blood, an obscure and imprisoned foreigner composes this sublime treatise, on a subject beyond the mental range of the wisest of Western sages, and dictates a brief system of ethics, which in purity, fulness, and symmetry eclipses the boasted “Morals” of Seneca, and the more laboured and rhetorical disquisitions of Cicero.
VI. Object and Contents of the Epistle.
The design of the apostle in writing to the Ephesian church was not polemical. In Colossians, theosophic error is pointedly and firmly refuted; but in Ephesians, principles are laid down which might prove a barrier to its introduction. The apostle indeed, in his farewell address at Miletus, had a sad presentiment of coming danger. Acts 20:29-30 “For I know this, that after my departure shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” But the epistle has no distinct allusion to such spiritual mischief and disturbance. In 2nd Timothy, too, the heresy of Hymenaeus and Philetus is referred to, while Phygellus and Hermogenes are said to have deserted the apostle at Rome. In the apocalyptic missive addressed to Ephesus as the first of the seven churches, no error is specified; but the grave and general charge is one of spiritual declension. The epistle before us may therefore be regarded as prophylactic more than corrective in its nature. What the immediate occasion was, we know not; possibly it was gratifying intelligence from Ephesus. It seems as if the heart of the apostle, fatigued and dispirited with the polemical argument and warning to the Colossians, enjoyed a cordial relief and satisfaction in pouring out its inmost thoughts on the higher relations and transcendental doctrines of the gospel. The epistle may be thus divided:-
I. The salutation, Ephesians 1:1-2. II. A general description of Divine blessing enjoyed by the church in its source, means, purpose, and final result, wound up with a prayer for further spiritual gifts, and a richer and more penetrating Christian experience, and concluding with an expanded view of the original condition and present honours and privileges of the Ephesian church, Ephesians 1:3-23, and Ephesians 2:1-11. III. A record of that marked change in spiritual position which the Gentile believers now possessed, ending with an account of the writer's selection to and qualification for the apostolate of heathendom, a fact so considered as to keep them from being dispirited, and to lead him to pray for enlarged spiritual benefactions on his absent sympathizers, Ephesians 2:12-22, and Ephesians 3:1-21. IV. A chapter on the unity of the church in its foundation and doctrine, a unity undisturbed by diversity of gifts, Ephesians 4:1-17. V. Special injunctions variously enjoined, and bearing upon ordinary life, Ephesians 4:17-32, Ephesians 5:1-33, Ephesians 6:1-10. VI. The image of a spiritual warfare, mission of Tychicus, and valedictory blessing, Ephesians 6:11-24. The paragraphs of this epistle could be sent to no church partially enlightened, and but recently emerged from heathendom. The church at Ephesus was, however, able to appreciate its exalted views. And therefore are those rich primary truths presented to it, tracing back all to the Father's eternal and benignant will as the one origin; to the Son's mediation and blood as the one channel, union with Him being the one sphere; and to the Spirit's abiding work and influence as the one inner power; while the grand end of the provision of salvation and the organization and blessing of the church is His own glory in all the elements of its fulness. The purpose of the apostle seems to be-to refresh the consciousness of the church by the retrospect which he gives of their past state and God's past sovereign mercy, and by the prospect which he sets out of spiritual develop ment crowned with perfection in Him in whom all things are re-gathered-as well as by the vivid and continual appeal to present grace and blessing which edges all the paragraphs.
Whatever emotions the church of Ephesus felt on receiving such a communication, the effects produced were not permanent. Though warned by its Lord, it did not return to its “first love,” but gradually languished and died. The candlestick was at length removed out of his place, and Mahometan gloom overspread the city. The spot has also become one of external desolation. The sea has retired from the harbour, and left behind it a pestilential morass. Fragments of columns, arches, and porticos are strewn about, and the wreck and rubbish of the great temple can scarcely be distinguished. The brood of the partridge nestles on the site of the theatre, the streets are ploughed by the Ottoman serf, and the heights of Coressus are only visited by wandering flocks of goats. The best of the ruins-columns of green jasper-were transplanted by Justinian to Constantinople, to adorn the dome of the great church of Sancta Sophia, and some are said to have been carried into Italy. A straggling village of the name of Ayasaluk, or Asalook, is the wretched representative of the great commercial metropolis of Ionia. While thousands in every portion of Christendom read this epistle with delight, there is no one now to read it in the place to which it was originally addressed. Truly the threatened blight has fallen on Ephesus.
VII. Works on the Epistle.
The principal writers on the literature of the epistle have already been mentioned in the course of the previous pages. Several ancient expositions of the epistle have been lost; for Jerome makes mention of one by Origen, of another by Apollinaris of Laodicea, and of a third by Didymus of Alexandria. Among the Fathers we have the twenty-four homilies of Chrysostom, and the commentaries of his followers Theodoret, OEcumenius, and Theophylact. We have often referred to these, and to others in Cramer's Catena, as presenting the earliest specimens of Greek commentary. The commentaries of Jerome, Pelagius, and Ambrosiaster belong to the Latin church. Exposition was not the work of mediaeval times, though we have found some good notes in Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, and Peter Lombard, and in the Postills of Nicolas de Lyra of the fourteenth century. The expositors of the Reformation period follow: Erasmus, Calvin, Beza, Musculus, Bucer, and Bullinger; somewhat later among the Catholics, Estius and a-Lapide; and among the Protestants, Zanchius, Calovius, Calixtus, Crocius, Cocceius, Piscator, Hunnius, Tarnovius, Aretius, Jaspis, Hyperius, Schmid, Röell, and Wolf-all of whom have written more or less fully on the Epistle to the Ephesians. Wetstein and Grotius follow, in another era, with several of the writers in the Critici Sacri. In England there appeared “ An Entire Commentary upon the whole Epistle to the Ephesians, wherein the text is learnedly and powerfully opened, etc.-preached by Paul Bayne, sometime preacher of God's Word at St. Andrew's, Cambridge;” London, 1643: and “ An Exposition of the First and part of the Second Chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, by Thomas G oodwin, D.D., sometime President of Magdalen College in Oxford,” was published in London in 1681. In Scotland we have the Latin folio of Principal Boyd (Bodius), published at London in 1652; the Latin duodecimo of Principal Rollock, reprinted at Geneva, 1593; the Expositio Analytica of Dickson (Professor of Theology in the University of Glasgow) on this and the other Epistles, published at Glasgow, 1645, and dedicated to the Marquis of Argyle, because his Grace had urged that the Professor should devote some portion of his course to biblical exegesis. Fergusson of Kilwinning also sent out a Brief Exposition of the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians, at Edinburgh, 1659. The Commentaries of the Socinian Crellius and Slichtingius are contained in the Fratres Poloni. We have also the eloquent French work of Du Bosc on a portion of the epistle, and a similar and smaller Méditation by Gauthey, published in 1852. Lardner mentions an exposition by a Dutch minister of Rotterdam, Peter Dinant, of which a flattering review appeared in the Bibliotheca Bremensis, 1721. He opposed both the theory of Grotius and Usher. We pass over the various editors of the New Testament, such as Slade, Burton, Trollope, Valpy, Grinfield, and Bloomfield; and the numerous annotators and collectors of illustrations, such as Elsner, Kypke, Krebs, Knatchbull, Loesner, Küttner, Raphelius, Palairet, Bos, Heinsius, Alberti, Keuchenius, Dougtaeus, and Cameron, pronounced by Bishop Hall, the most learned man that Scotland ever produced. We have not space to characterize Hammond, Chandler, Whitby, Callander, Locke, Doddridge, A. Clarke, Macknight, Peile, and Barnes, and the more popular works on this epistle by Lathrop, M'Ghee, Evans, Eastbourne, and Pridham. We hasten to specify the recent German commentaries. From that prolific nation of scholars and critics we have not only such works as those of Morus, Flatt, Koppe, Rosenmüller , von Gerlach, Kähler, and others, but we have the following formal and specific expositions on this epistle. Simply mentioning the comments of Spener (1730), of Baumgarten (Halle, 1767), of Schutz (Leipzig, 1778), of Müller (Heidelberg, 1793), and of Krause (Leipzig, 1789), we refer especially to the following: Cramer, neue Uebersetzung des Briefes an die Epheser nebst einer Auslegung desselben. Kiel, 1782. Holzhausen, der Brief des Apostels Paulus an die Epheser übersetzt und erklärt. Hannover, 1833. Rückert, der Brief Pauli an die Epheser erläutert und vertheidigt. Leipzig, 1834. Matthies, Erklärung des Briefes Pauli an die Epheser. Greifsvald, 1834. Meier, Commentar über den Brief Pauli an die Epheser. Berlin, 1834. Harless, Commentar über den Brief Pauli an die Epheser. Erlangen, 2nd ed. 1860. Olshausen, Biblischer Commentar, vol. iv. Königsberg, 1840. Meyer, Kritisch exegetischer Commentar über das N. T.; Achte Abtheilung Kritisch Exegetisches Handbuch über den Brief an die Epheser. Göttingen, 1859. De Wette, Exegetisches Handbuch zum N. T. vol. ii. Leipzig, 1843. Passavant, Versuch einer praktischen Auslegung des Briefes Pauli an die Epheser. Basel, 1836. Catenae in Sancti Pauli Epist. in Gal. Ephesios, etc., ed. Cramer. Oxon. 1842. Commentar über den Brief Pauli an die Epheser, von L. F. O. Baumgarten-Crusius, ed. Kimmel and Schauer. Jena, 1847. Stier, Auslegung des Briefes an die Epheser. Berlin, 1848. Bisping, Erklärung der Briefe an die Epheser, Philipper, etc. Münster, 1855. To these must be added the following recent English and American writers:& --;Turner, The Epistle to the Ephesians in Greek and English. New York, 1856. Alford, Greek Testament, vol. iii. London, 1856. Hodge, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians. New York, 1856. Ellicott, A Critical and Grammatical Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians , 2 d ed. London, 1859. Words-worth, Greek Testament, part iii. London, 1859. Newland, A New Catena on St. Paul's Epistles-a Practical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians. Oxford and London, 1860.
In the following pages, when Buttmann, Matthiae, Kühner, Madvig, Krüger, Bernhardy, Schmalfeld, Scheuerlein, Donaldson, Jelf, Winer, Rost, Alt, Stuart, Green, and Trollope are simply quoted, the reference is to their respective Greek grammars; and when Suidas, Hesychius, Passow (ed. Rost Palm, etc.), Robinson, Pape, Wilke, Wahl, Bretschneider, Liddell and Scott, are named, the reference is to their respective lexicons. If Hartung be found without any addition, we mean his Lehre von den Partikeln der Griechischen Sprache, 2 vols. Erlangen, 1832. The majority of the other names are those of the commentators or philologists enumerated in the previous chapter, or authors whose works are specified. The references to Tischendorf's New Testament are to the seventh edition.