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Bishop of Rome; who being much with Paul, clothed and adorned Paul's sense in his own language. Or if it be Paul's, he might decline putting his name to it in the inscription, for fear of offending the Jews. Moreover, he wrote as a Hebrew to the Hebrews, it being his own language; whence it came to pass, that being translated, it has more elegance in the Greek than his other Epistles. This they say is the reason of its differing from Paul's other writings. There is also an Epistle to the Laodiceans, but it is rejected by every body." Jerome commonly quotes the Epistle to the Hebrews, as the Apostle Paul's; and, as we have seen before, this was his prevailing opinion, which is not contradicted in the long passage just cited.
AUGUSTINE received fourteen Epistles of Paul, the last of which, in his catalogue, is, the Epistle to the Hebrews; he was aware, however, that some in his time thought it of doubtful authority" However," says he, "I am inclined to follow the opinion of the churches of the East, who receive it among the Canonical Scriptures."
The time when each of these Epistles was written, cannot be ascertained with any exactness. It is not even agreed among the learned, which was the First of Paul's Epistles. Generally, indeed, it has been thought that the two Epistles to the Thessalonians were composed earlier than the others; but of late, some learned men have given precedence to the Epistle to the Galatians. And this opinion is not altogether confined to the moderns, for Tertullian mentions this Epistle as among the first of Paul's writings. But the more common opinion is, that it was written during the long abode of this Apostle at Corinth. Among the advocates of this opinion, we find L'Enfant, Beausobre, Lardner, &c.; while Grotius, Capel, Witsius, and Wall, suppose that it was written at Ephesus. These last, together with Fabricius and Mill, place the date of the Epistle to the Galatians after that to the Romans.
Macknight maintains that it was written from Antioch, after the Council of Jerusalem; and offers, in support of his opinion, several plausible arguments, which, if they do not prove all that he wishes, seem to render it probable that the time of this Epistle being written was soon after the Council of Jerusalem.
Semler, however, is of opinion that this Epistle was written prior to the Council of Jerusalem.
From these various opinions, it is sufficiently evident that the precise date of the Epistle to the Galatians cannot be ascertained. If we take the opinions of those who give the earliest date, the time of writing will not be later than A.D. 47. But
if we receive as more probable the opinions of those who think that it was written after the Council of Jerusalem, we shall bring it down to the year 50; while, according to the opinion more commonly adopted, its date will be A.D. 52, or 53. And if we prefer the opinions of those who assign the latest date to this Epistle, we shall bring it down several years later, and instead of giving it the first place, will give it the ninth or tenth.
There seem to be better data for determining that the First Epistle to the Thessalonians was written from Corinth, about the year 51; and the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians was probably written a few months afterwards, from the same place.
Michaelis and Dr Hales unite in giving the next place, in the order of time, to the Epistle to Titus. Lardner, however, places it considerably later; and Paley assigns to it a date later than any other author. On this subject there is little else than conjecture to guide us.
The year in which this Epistle was written, according to Michaelis and Hales, was 53; according to Lardner, 56; according to Barrington, 57; and according to Whitby, Pearson, and Paley, 65.
The Epistle next in order is the First to the Corinthians, the date of which can be determined, with considerable precision, from the Epistle itself. "I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost." These words teach where this Epistle was written, and, by a comparison with other passages of Scripture, that it was penned near the close of Paul's long residence at Ephesus, from which place he departed about A.D. 57. This, then, is the proper date of this Epistle.
The First Epistle to Timothy will stand next, if we follow the opinion most commonly entertained by learned men; and its date will be A. D. 57, or A. D. 58. This opinion is supported by the authority of Athanasius, Theodoret, Baronius, Capellus, Blondel, Hammond, Grotius, Salmasius, Lightfoot, Benson, Barrington, Michaelis, Doddridge, and others. But Pearson, Rosenmüller, Macknight, Paley, Tomline, &c., place it as low as the year of our Lord 64, or 65.
The Second Epistle to the Corinthians was written probably about a year after the First, which will bring it to A.D. 58.
In the same year, it is thought, that Paul wrote his very important Epistle to the Romans. On this point, however, there is some diversity of opinion. But the Epistle itself contains internal evidence that it was written at Corinth, when * 1 Cor. xvi, 8.
the Apostle was preparing to take the contributions of the churches to Jerusalem.
The date of the Epistles to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, and to the Colossians, can be ascertained pretty nearly, from the circumstance, that Paul was prisoner at Rome when they were written. The Epistle to the Ephesians may, with much probability, be referred to A.D. 61; the Epistle to the Philippians to A.D. 62; and the Epistle to the Colossians to the same year.
The short Epistle to Philemon was written, as appears by several coincidences, about the same time as those just mentioned.
The Epistle to the Hebrews seems to have been written about the termination of Paul's first imprisonment at Rome. Its date, therefore, may, without much danger of mistake, be referred to A. D. 62, or 63.
J. D. Michaelis, who, as has been seen, has done much to unsettle the Canon of Scripture, by calling in question the genuineness of some of the books, as well as the inspiration of some of the writers, has, in an elaborate essay (vol. iv), endeavoured to lessen the authority of this Epistle. For an answer to the arguments of this learned, but sceptical Professor, I would refer the reader to Townsend's New Testament, arranged in Chronological and Historical order.
Paul's Second Epistle to Timothy seems to have been written during his second imprisonment at Rome, and shortly before his death, A.D. 66.
CANONICAL AUTHORITY OF THE SEVEN CATHOLIC EPISTLES.
THE First Epistle of Peter, and the First of John, are quoted by IGNATIUS, POLYCARP, and PAPIAS, but not expressly as the writings of these Apostles. For the particular passages cited, the reader is referred to Lardner.
JUSTIN MARTYR has a saying, which is nowhere found in Scripture, except in the Second of Peter. It is, "That a day of the Lord is a thousand years."
DIOGNETUS quotes several passages from the First of Peter, and the First of John.
IRENEUS quotes the First Epistle of Peter, expressly "And Peter says, in his Epistle, 'Whom having not seen, ye love.' And from the Second, he takes the same passage which has just been cited, as quoted by Justin Martyr. The First and Second of John are expressly quoted by this Father; for after citing his Gospel, he goes on to say, "Wherefore also, in his Epistle he says, 'Little children, it is the last time.”” And again, In the forementioned Epistle, the Lord commands us to shun those persons who bring false doctrine, saying, Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver, and an Antichrist. Look to yourselves that ye lose not those things which ye have wrought.' Now these words are undoubtedly taken from John's Second Epistle. Irenæus seems, indeed, to quote them from the First, but this was probably a slip of the memory.
Several passages out of the Epistle of James are also cited by this Father, but without any distinct reference to the source whence they are derived.
ATHENAGORAS, also, has some quotations, which appear to be from James, and Second Peter.
CLEMENT of Alexandria often quotes First Peter; and sometimes Second Peter. The first Epistle of John is often cited by him. Jude also is quoted several times expressly, as, "Of these and the like heretics, I think Jude spoke prophetically, when he said, 'I will that ye should know, that God having saved the people out of Egypt,""&c. He has a remark on Jude's modesty, that he did not style himself the brother of our Lord, although he was related to him, but begins his Epistle, "Jude the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James."
TERTULLIAN often quotes the First Epistle of John; but he has, in none of his remaining writings, cited any thing from James, Second Peter, or the Second of John. He has, however, one express quotation from Jude" Hence it is," says he, "that Enoch is quoted by the Apostle Jude."
ORIGEN, in his Commentary on St John's Gospel, expressly quotes the Epistle of James in the following passage "For though it be called faith, if it be without works, it is dead, as we read in the Epistle ascribed to James." This is the only passage, in the remaining Greek works of this Father, where this book is quoted; but in his Latin works, translated by Rufin, it is cited as the Epistle of James, the Apostle and brother of our Lord; and as "Divine Scripture." The First
of Peter is often quoted expressly. In his book against Celsus, he says, "As it is said by Peter, Ye, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house."" Again, "Peter, in his Catholic Epistle, says, 'Put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit.""
According to Eusebius, Origen considered the Second of Peter as doubtful, and in his Greek works there are no clear citations from it; but there are found a few in his Latin works.
In the passage preserved by Eusebius, he says that some were doubtful respecting the Second and Third of John, "but for my part," says he, "let them be granted to be his."
ORIGEN has cited several passages from Jude, which are found in no other part of Scripture; and in one place remarks, "Jude wrote an Epistle, of few lines indeed, but full of powerful words and heavenly grace, who at the beginning, says, 'Jude the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James."" In another place he shows, that some were doubtful of this Epistle, for he says, "But if any one receives also the Epistle of Jude, let him consider what will follow, from what is there said." This Epistle is cited in his Latin works also; and several times in a Latin Epistle ascribed to Origen.
CYPRIAN no where quotes the Epistle of James; but the First of Peter is often cited. Several times he speaks of it as the Epistle of Peter to the people of Pontus. He expressly ascribes it to " Peter the Apostle," "the Apostle of Christ,'
The Second of Peter he never quotes. The First of John is often quoted by Cyprian. "The Apostle John," says he, "mindful of this command, writes in this Epistle, 'Hereby we perceive that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."" The Second and Third of John he never mentions, nor the Epistle of Jude.
The opinion of EUSEBIUS of Cesarea, respecting the Epistle of James, was, that it was written by one of Christ's Disciples, by the name of James, but he makes three of that name. Although he admits that the writer of this Epistle was the brother of our Lord, who was made the first Bishop of Jerusalem; yet he will not allow that he was one of the Twelve. In his commentary on the Psalms, he says, "Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms,' as the Sacred Apostle says." In other parts of his works, he speaks very doubtfully of this Epistle; and in one passage, where he distributes the books into classes, he mentions this