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(i. 13, veis; contrast v. 12, jās toùs apon..; ii. 1, 11-13, 19, iii, 1, v. 8). This latter point is at first sight hard to reconcile with the Jewish origin (Acts xviii. 19) of the Church at Ephesus, and with the existence of a considerable Jewish element in the Churches of Asia generally (Acts xix. 10; Lightfoot, Coloss. p. 19 seq.), and has suggested various hypotheses, to be referred to presently. But the difficulty has a striking parallel in the phenomena of the Epistle to the Romans, whom St. Paul treats as Gentiles (Rom. i. 13, ix.-xi.; esp. xi. 13 seq.), while yet there is good reason to suppose a large Jewish element to have existed among them (see Rom. xiv.-xv. 13, and for other evidence, Mangold Der Römer-brief u. s. gesch. Voraussetzungen, 1884, and his notes to Bleek, Einl., 4 $ 153). Another parallel case is that of the Epistles to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. i. 9; contrast Acts xvii. 3, 4).
IV. The Epistle not intended for the Ephesians only. This follows from the fact that St. Paul knows nothing of his readers personally. Their faith he knows by report (i. 15; cf. iv. 21); his own teaching is not directly known to them except in writing (iii. 3); his stewardship as Apostle of the Gentiles only by hearsay (iii. 2). Nor is this to be explained by the growth of the Ephesian Church since the Apostle's last stay there : his numerous couverts (1 Cor. xvi. 9; Acts xix. 26, ikavòv oxlov, &c.) could scarcely have been entirely swamped in at most six years. But if we extend the circle of readers to “ the Churches of Asia" (1 Cor. xvi. 19), generally or in part, the difficulty at once becomes less. St. Paul during his spletla at Ephesus had found too much to do in the city itself (1 Cor. xvi. 9) to permit him to leave it (Acts xx. 18, Tòv Távta xpóvov); if the Gospel had spread in “ Asia," it was due to his work in Ephesus itself (Acts xix. 10); he had not visited the Lycus valley (Col. ii. 1). St. Paul is writing, then, to a class of persons the great mass of whom, whether old or (as has been somewhat hastily inferred from the language of the Epistle) recent converts, were strangers to him in the flesh (Mr. Macpherson's reasons, pp. 56, 239, for a contrary view, are unconvincing). This may possibly also be the explanation of the absence of any greetings from St. Paul's companions, or to his friends among the readers ; although even in letters to Churches with which his personal relations were warm and intimate (Thessalonians, Galatians, 2 Corinthians), he did not always convey greetings of the kind. Hence also possibly the absence of all mention of Timothy and Aristarchus, who were with him when he wrote (Col. i. 1; Philemon 1), and had been with him at Ephesus (1 Cor. iv. 17; Acts xix. 29). The suggestion (Meyer, &c.) that Tychicus (probably an Ephesian; Acts xx. 4, cf. xxi. 19) was orally charged with the personal greetings to the Ephesian Church is not confirmed by vi. 21, 22 (which implies no more than does Col. iv. 7 seq.), but is probable enough in itself. But there is no necessity to look about for motives for St. Paul's reticence as to his personal history (contrast Acts xx. 18, 33) and friendships when at Ephesus. The simple reason is, that the mass of his readers are personally unknown to him. The same reason accounts for the absence of local colour
in the Epistle; there is no reference to the special circumstances of the Ephesian Church, no polemic against any false teachers (in spite of Acts xx. 29; contrast the tone of Gal., 1 Cor., and especially of Col. The attempt of some older commentators to find traces of an Ephesian heresy in iv. 4, v. 6, need not be discussed; see Meyer, Introd., $ 4). The objection that, if St. Paul had intended the letter to be circulated beyond Ephesus, its primary destination, he would have expressed his intention in words (as in 2 Cor. i. 1; Gal. i. 2), has some force. But it must be remembered that the two instances cited show that St. Paul was in the habit of writing letters intended to circulate beyond their original recipients; that the facts mentioned above are at least a strong negative indication of a more general circle of readers; and, finally, that none of the numerous hypotheses as to the destination of the Epistle are free from objections, very few from fatal objections.
V. Rejection of impossible Hypotheses. (1) The exclusively Ephesian destination of the Epistle (maintained by Alford, Proleg. ; Meyer; Wieseler, Chronol., p. 443; Schenkel, Bib. Ler.) has been, we venture to think, shown to belong to this class. But (2) the entire exclusion of the Ephesians from the circle of readers is equally out of the question. If the Epistle was meant for the Christians of the whole or part of proconsular Asia, those of Ephesus, the metropolis of Asia, the city where Tychicus would first land, endeared to St. Paul by the most sacred of all ties (Acts xx. 18 seq.), must have been prominent in the Apostle's mind as he wrote. These reasons, taken with those given above (II.), are decisive; and, if so, the view (3) that Laodicea was the original and primary destination (Marcion, Hammond, Mill, Wetstein, Paley, Kamphausen, and substantially Bleek) at once collapses. On other grounds, however, this view (which assumes the probably correct identification of our Epistle with that mentioned Col. iv. 16 ; see below) is untenable. The total absence of any evidence in its favour from MSS. or tradition, the original circulation of the “Epistle from Laodicea"in at least the two Churches of Laodicea and Colossae, and the consequent incredibility of the silent displacement of its original address in favour of one suggested by no internal hint whatever, are unanswerable objections, even apart from the fact that the Apostle greets the Church of Laodicea through that of Colossae (Col. iv. 15). This latter fact once more puts out of court the supposition (4) that the Epistle was simply addressed jointly to the Churches of Ephesus and Laodicea (Grotius, Hofmann). That the Epistle was (5) purely " catholic " could not be maintained in the face of internal evidence (supra, III.). There remains a more plausible suggestion (6) that the Epistle was addressed to a section, either of the Ephesian Church (e.g., the newly converted, so in substance Lünemann, De Epist. ad Eph. authentia, 1842, and others), or of the Churches of Asia, and in particular to the Gentile members of those Churches. This view is supported by what has been pointed out above as to the Gentile composition of the circle of readers, and their lack of personal acquaintance with St. Paul. Moreover, it accords perfectly with the purpose and character
of the Epistle. It has once more the support of a parallel instance in St. James's Epistle, addressed to the Jewish section of the Churches beyond Palestine, to say nothing of the closer parallel of the First Epistle of St. Peter, if the éklektoi Traper lonpou (i. 1) could be shown to be the Jewish Christians of the districts there named (Weiss, and Kühl in Meyer xii). Other arguments in favour of this view (taken by Ewald, Sieben Sendschreiben) are urged by Dr. Milligan (ubi supra, p. 460 seq.), who supports it with great ability. But it is indefensible, if only on account of mois ollow (i. 1), which words surely (as shown above) formed part of the local designation usual in the greetings of St. Paul's Epistles, and accordingly stamp this Epistle as addressed to a Church or Churches, not merely to individuals or sections of Churches. (Dr. Milligan's arguments on the question of Tois oủow—see above, I. (ii.)—are not convincing. His principal direct argument has been anticipated under III.).
VI. The Epistle, then, was (1) in all probability addressed to Ephesus, but intended by St. Paul to circulate among the Churches of “ Asia,” and was (2) probably identical with the letter mentioned in Col. iv. 16, Tivék Aaodicias.
(1) This form of the “circular hypothesis" is at once the only one which satisfies the various conditions involved in the evidence, and the only one free, not indeed from difficulties, but from any fatal objection. The difficulties have been mostly already dealt with, and shown to be superable. St. Paul's knowledge (through Epaphras and otherwise) of the state of the Asiatic Churches was definite enough to satisfy the passages referred to under III., and there is no difficulty, as there shown, in his treating their members as Gentiles. The most formidable difficulty, as to the method of circulation, especially in connexion with the movements of Tychicus, is to some extent bound up with the question of the letter from Laodicea. Very numerous combinations have been suggested, all of which, in the absence of definite knowledge of the facts, must be more or less precarious. This need not shake our adherence to the hypothesis, as such, which has left its definite trace upon tradition in the uncertainty of the reading in i. 1.
(2) The identification of the Epistle with that from Laodicea is based upon Col. iv. 16, taken together with the close relation between our Epistle and that to the Colossians, both being entrusted to the same messenger, and each being in contents complementary to the other, in such a way as to suggest a satisfactory reason for the interchange prescribed by St. Paul.
The "circular” destination of the Epistle has been maintained, with numerous mollifications and subsidiary hypotheses, by a host of scholars from Beza, Usher, and Bengel onwards, including Hug, Neander, Rückert, Credner, Harless, Anger, Olshausen, Klostermann, Sabatier, Reuss, Ellicott, Holtzmann (“for choice,” Einl.,' p. 286), Weiss (Herzog, RE., suppl. i. 481, &c.), Wold. Schmidt (in Herzog, RE.,” xi. 373, and in 6th ed. of Meyer). Schenkel (Christusbild der Apost., 1879, p. 88) was a convert to it, while Bishop Lightfoot, who had promised a full discussion of the two kindred questions in his long-looked for introduction to Ephesians, meanwhile expressed his belief that educated opinion is tending, however slowly, in this direction (see also his remark Ign., ii. p. 63, that the Ephesians were “the chief, though probably not the sole recipients" of the Epistle.)
There is nothing in the language of Col. iv. 16 to exclude the possibility of Tychicus having passed through Laodicea on his way to Colossae, and having brought the Epistle“ from Laodicea" in person to the latter place. It would naturally be referred to as την έκ Λαοδ. rather than την εξ Εφέσου, Laodicea being only some ten or eleven miles from Colossae. If the words ék Aaod. be pressed to imply a direction to fetch the letter from Laodicea after the arrival of Tychicus and the public reading of the Colossian Epistle, and if it be further objected that Tychicus might have read the letter to the Laodiceans on his way through the latter place, it must be recollected as a leading factor in the problem that the state of things at Colossae was such as to make it undesirable for Tychicus to spend more time than could be helped on his route thither; his systematic visitation of Laodicea and the other Churches of the district (Eph. vi. 21 seq.) would be made afterwards, oủk év tapóòn (1 Cor. xvi. 7; for the facts see Lightfoot, Coloss., p. 32). This consideration, and the general character of our Epistle, explain the fact that Nymphas and the Laodicean Church are greeted in Col. iv. 15, which is inexplicable on the assumption that St. Paul had been at the same time sending a special letter to Laodicea. The above considerations gain greatly in weight from the evidence (given by Lightfoot, p. 31) of inscriptions commemorating the close relations which existed between Ephesus and the Lycus district, especially Laodicea and Hierapolis (Anooikéwv édecíor opórou, &c.; cf. Col. ii. 1, iv. 13, 16). The identification of our Epistle with that “from Laodicea" is of course denied by those who maintain its exclusively Ephesian destination (supra, V. 1), and by those who reject its authenticity while maintaining the genuineness and integrity of the Epistle to the Colossians (Davidson; Renan, St. Paul, xii.; Ewald, S.S., p. 157; and Von Soden substantially). Others, however, rejecting Ephesians entirely and Colossians wholly or in part, see in Col. iv. 16 a reference to our Epistle (Baur, Paulus, ii. 47; Volkmar, Apoc., 67 ; Hitzig; Hausrath, 1p. Paulus; Holtzmann, Krit., passim, and Einl., p. 294). The great mass of those critics who accept both Epistles as genuine, and regard Ephesians as in any sense a circular letter, take the same view (Anger, Ucber den Laod.-brief, 1813; Reuss, Hist. N. T., $ 119, 120 (in Eng. Transl.); and especially Lightfoot, Coloss., pp. 274-299, where this question is discussed in all its bearings, and with full references to the literature of the subject). The objections (re-stated by Weiss, Einl., p. 262), turning on the difficulties as to the method of circulation and the movements of Tychicus, have been answered incidentally above, and are not usually regarded as very serious.
We conclude, then, that if the Epistle can be brought naturally within the known framework of St. Paul's life and work; if its language, contents, and relations to other New Testament writings, especially to Colossians, do not compel us to decisively abjudicate it from the Apostle; if, finally, no convincingly probable alternative hypothesis as to its origin disputes the field with the account which the Epistle gives of itself—the question of the address, or circle of readers, is not in itself an insuperable puzzle. Whether the other questions referred to can be answered in a sense more favourable to the Pauline authorship of the letter than is at present very commonly supposed, I do not here discuss. But if they can, there is nothing in the problem discussed in this paper to modify in an adverse sense the result of the wider investigation.
EXPOSITORY THOUGHT. .
THE SIG V PROMISED TO AHAZ.
A REPLY TO THE REV. F. TILNEY BASSETT, M.A.
By Rev. F. H. WOODS, B.D. To begin with, I must heartily deprecate the language of the concluding paragraph of Mr. Bassett's criticism. It is scarcely courteous, to say the very least, to speak of those who disagree with us as proposing evasions " to escape the Messianic reference" of a passage, and as showing lamentable want of reverence for a certain phrase, “and for the honour of Him who gave it.” I cannot see how such remarks can promote the cause either of truth or religion. I must also deprecate the assumption of views on my part neither expressed nor, I venture to assert, reasonably implied by anything I wrote in my paper. To maintain that Isaiah did not mean to say that a certain Person in the future was to be born of a virgin, is not the same thing as to hold that Christ was not so born as a fact. A large number of commentators do not believe that in 2 Thess. ii. St. Paul foretold the assumptions of the Papacy, but Mr. Bassett would not, I am sure, from this fact conclude that they necessarily deny the arrogance of the Papal claims.
Now to take the main points at issue separately. I. As to the meaning of 7050. It is used, as Mr. Bassett tells us, six times in the Old Testament. (1) In Gen. xxiv. 43 the word denotes a virgin, of course, but it does not connote it. If in English we had a word signifying “young woman,” whether tacta or intacta, such a word might have been used in this passage. In Isaiah vii. 14, on the contrary, if the virginity was, as the early Christians and Mr. Bassett believe, the point of the prophecy, such a word could not. 1. The same may be said of Exod. ii. 8, except that in this case there is uothing in the context to show absolutely whether Miriam was married or not, and the LXX. very properly translate by veūvis. (3) In Ps. lxviii. 25 all that can be said is that the damsels who played upon timbrels in the religious processions were, perhaps, probably unmarried, but there is nothing to prove that it was so (see 1 Chron. xxv. 5, 6; Ezra ii. 65 ; Neh. vii. 67; and cf. 1 Sam, xviii. 6). (4) In Cant. i. 3 there is again a balance of probability in favour of virgins being denoted by the word. (5) This may be the case also