Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

St. Paul is supposed by them to have written this Epistle to Timothy, Timothy in truth was with St. Paul in Macedonia. Paul, as it is related in the Acts, left Ephesus. " for to go into Macedonia.” When he had got into Macedonia he 'wrote his Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Concerning this point there exists little variety of opinion. It is plainly indicated by the contents of the epi-stle. It is also strongly implied that the epistle was written soon after the apostle's arrival in Macedonia ; for he begins his letter .by a train of reflection, referring to his persecutions in Asia as to recent transactions, as to dangers from which he had lately been delivered. But in the salutation with which the epistle opens, Timothy was joined with St. Paul, and consequently could not at that time be “ left behind at Ephesus.” And as to the only solution of the difficulty which can be thought of, viz. that Timothy, though he was left behind at Ephesus upon St. Paul's departure from Asia, yet might follow him so soon after, as to come up with the apostle in Macedonia, before he wrote his Epistle to the Corinthians ; that supposition is incon„sistent with the terms and tenor of the cpistle throughout. For the writer speaks uniformly of his intention to return to Timothy at Ephesus, and not of his expecting Timothy to come to him in Macedonia : “ These things write I unto thee hoping to come unto thee shortly ; but if I tarry long that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself.” Ch. ii. 14, 15. 66 Till I come give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." Ch. iv. 13.

Since, therefore, the leaving of Timothy behind at Ephesus, when Paul went into Macedonia, suits not with any journey into Macedonia recorded in the Acts, I concur with Bishop Pearson in placing the date of this epistle, and the journey referred to in it, at a period subsequent to St. Paul's first imprisonment at Rome, and consequently subsequent to the æra up to which the Acts of the Apostles brings his history. The only difficulty which attends our opinion is, that St. Paul must, according to us, have come to Ephesus after his liberation at Rome, contrary as it should seem to what he foretold to the Ephesian elders, “ that they should see his face no more." And it is to save the infallibility of this prediction, and for no other reason of weight, that an earlier daté is assigned to this epistle. The prediction itself however, when considered in connexion with the circumstances under which it was delivered, does not seem to demand so much anxiety. The words in question are found in the twenty-fifth verse of the twentieth chapter of the Aets : “ And now bei hold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone.preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.”

In the twenty-second and twenty-third verses of the same chapter, i. e. two verses before, the apostle makes this declaration : “ And now behold, I

go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there ; save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in

every city, saying, that bonds and afflictions abide me." This 66

This “ witnessing of the Holy Ghost" was undoubtedly prophetic and supernatural. But it went no farther than to foretell that bonds and afflictions awaited him. And I can very well conceive, that this might be all which was communicated to the apostle by extraordinary revelation, and that the rest was the conclusion of his own mind, the desponding inference which he drew from strong and repeated intimations of approaching danger. And the expression “ I know," which St. Paul here

uses, does not perhaps, when applied to future events affecting himself, convey an assertion so positive and absolute as we may at first sight apprehend. In the first chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians and the twenty-fifth verse, “ I know," says he, “ that I shall abide and continue with

you

all for your joy and furtherance of faith.” Notwithstanding this strong declaration, in the second chapter and twenty-third verse of this same epistle, and speaking also of the very same event, he is content to use a language

of some doubt and uncertainty : “ Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see show it will go with me; but I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.” And a few verses preceding these, he not only seems to doubt of his safety, but almost to despair;. to contemplate the possibility at least of his condemnation and martyrdom: “ Yea, and if I be offered

upon
the sacrifice and service of

your faith, I joy and rejoice with you

all."

No. I. * But can we show that St. Paul visited Ephesus after his liberation at Rome? rather, can we collect any hints from his

or

other letters which make it probable that he did ? If we can, then we have a coincidence. If we cannot, we have only an unauthorised supposition, to which the exigency of the case compels us to resort. Now, for this purpose, let us examine the Epistle to the Philippians and the Epistle to Philemon. These two epistles purport to be written whilst St. Paul was yet a prisoner at Rome. To the Philippians he writes as follows : “ I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly." To Philemon, who was a Colossian, he gives this direction: “ But withal, prepare me also a lodging, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.” An inspection of the

map will show us that Colosse was a city of the Lesser Asia, lying eastward, and at no great distance from Ephesus. Philippi was on the other, i. e. the western side of the Ægean

If the apostle executed his purpose ; if, in pursuance

of the intention expressed in his letter to Philemon, he came to Colosse soon after he was set at liberty at Rome, it is very improbable that he would omit to visit Ephesus, which lay so near to it, and where · he had spent three years of his ministry. As he was also under a promise to the church of

sea.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »