Page images

him in his travels during the period in which most of them were written; and he remained with the Apostle till his death. And if Paul, as is probable, kept copies of his Epistles, they might naturally be included in those "parchments," he wrote "especially" about to Timothy, and desired him to bring with him, from Troas, iv. 13. These most valuable documents for his history, Luke would be unpardonable to have neglected; a history, which Paul probably commissioned him to write.

2. And that he actually did consult them, we may rather collect from the comparison of both. Even Paley himself concedes, that" the accordancy between both, in many points, is circumstantial and complete," and " the harmony indubitable," p. 297-299. And he also notices a remarkable conformity in the order of the Apostle's persecutions at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra, as noticed briefly by the Apostle himself, 2 Tim. iii. 11 ; and more fully by Luke, in the Acts, xiii. 14-50, xiv. 1-19, p. 350-353.

Hence, we may safely conclude, that Luke did actually consult the Epistles; and that he borrowed, varied, or omitted incidents contained therein, at discretion, as best suited his particular plan; and with a thorough knowledge of the whole subject both from his own experience and the information of Paul, as an original and independent Historian: like the succeeding Evangelists, borrowing, varying, or omitting from their predecessors.


These are attributed to the Apostles of the circumcision, James, the LORD's brother or cousin, and first bishop of Jerusalem, and Jude, his brother; and Peter, and John, the Apostles. Like the Epistle to the Hebrews, they seem to have been addressed to the Jewish converts in general, both of Palestine and of the dispersion, to keep them stedfast in the faith, that they might not swerve under their approaching trials, toward the end of the Jewish dispensation; to guard them against Antichrists, or false Christs, and false Apostles or false teachers, which were among the last signs or prognostics of the destruction of Jerusalem; against wars and fightings, which were a further sign of the times, and to exhort them to good works, and the practical duties of the GOSPEL. The style of James,

Peter, and Jude is concise and highly figurative, and has a general resemblance throughout.


The authenticity of this excellent practical Epistle is supported by the following arguments.

It was translated in the Syriac version made in the Apostolic age, and all along received by the Syrian Church; and acknowledged as canonical by Ephrem Syrus, Eusebius, Chrysostom, Jerom, Theodoret, and in several canons of the Greek and Latin councils. And it is highly rational, and worthy of the president of the Mother Church at Jerusalem. No soberminded critic therefore can reasonably doubt of its authenticity or canonical authority *.

It was probably written about a year before his death, when the troubles were beginning in Judea, from false teachers, iii. 1; seditions and insurrections, iv. 1; with the benevolent design of vindicating the true faith working by love, and recommending peace and harmony to a distracted world. We may date it, therefore, about A.D. 61, or the beginning of A.D. 62, with Whitby, Lardner, and Michaelis.


This Epistle was held as genuine by several of the ancient Fathers, Tertullian, Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, and Epiphanius; and as it coincides in doctrine with the other Catholic Epistles, (see this Vol. note, p. 193,) should be admitted as canonical; especially as there is a marked resemblance between it, vers. 6, and the Epistle of Peter, 1 Pet. iii. 19, 20, 2 Pet. ii. 4, 5, in these abstruse passages, descriptive of the fallen angels, and their punishment; relating most probably to the pious Sethites, who were corrupted by their commerce with the daughters of Cain, and their posterity, who perished in the deluge, (as explained before, Vol. II. p. 36, 39.) These passages of Peter, which are fuller, seem to be designed as a commentary on the conciser account of Jude. We seem warranted, there

Both Lardner and Michaelis, however, have expended a great deal of criticism to determine who this James was; and after puzzling themselves, have come to the sceptical conclusion of doubting who he was, and of course, not knowing whether the Epistle be canonical or not.

fore, to date this Epistle before Peter's; and about the same time as his brother's, A.D. 62.

The Jewish legend or tradition of Michael contending with the Devil about the body of Moses, ver. 9, has given much offence to Michaelis, so that he doubts whether Jude could be "an inspired writer, or an immediate disciple of CHRIST," p. 385. But might not the Apostle have used it merely as a popular illustration (without vouching the fact) of that sober and wholesome doctrine, for the lower classes especially, not to speak evil of dignities? from the example of " the Archangel," who did not venture to rail even at the devil, but meekly said, "THE LORD rebuke thee !" as Michaelis himself has suggested *, p. 392.


The first Epistle is addressed to the converted Jews of " the dispersion, sojourners in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, proconsular Asia, and Bithynia," or the principal provinces of Asia Minor, or Natolia, i. 1, which had also been the chief scenes of the early part of Paul's ministry; and were probably attached to the Mother Church of Antioch in Syria, which seems to have been early under the particular inspection of Peter also, Gal. ii. 11. For, as we learn from Eusebius," Peter having founded the Church in Antioch, went from thence to Rome preaching the Gospel;" Origen and Jerom agree, that " Simon Peter having had the episcopacy of the Church of Antioch, and preached to the converted Jews of the dispersion in Pontus, and the neighbouring provinces, proceeded to Rome, where he was crucified. And Chrysostom expressly says, "This is one prerogative of our city [Antioch] that at first, we received the chief of the Apostles as our teacher. However, we held him not to the end, but resigned him to the imperial city, Rome." See the original passages, Lardner, VI. p. 544.

* Michaelis has furnished the following curious remark thereon. "To the doctrine which St. Jude inculcates by this quotation, that we ought not to speak evil of digniti ́s, not even of the fallen Angels, but that we should leave judgment to GOD, I have no objection. And I really think that they transgress the bounds of propriety, who make it their business, either in the pulpit, or in their writings, to represent the Devil as an object of detestation: since, notwithstanding his fall, he is still a being of a superior Is this the doctrine of the NEW TESTAMENT? or, the usage of OUR LORD, of Peter, Paul, and John in the Apocalypse? We fancy not. "The old Serpent, &c. deceiving the whole world," as a "roaring lion, going about seeking whom he may devour," is surely an object of terror and detestation.


The arguments in favour of the authenticity of these Epistles are numerous and satisfactory. The first Epistle was universally received, according to Eusebius and Origen, and was referred to as his, by Clemens Romanus, Polycarp, the Martyrs at Lyons, Papias, Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, Irenæus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Tertullian, &c. See Lardner, vi. p. 151, 152; and it is worthy, indeed, of the Apostle, containing, as Ostervald observes, "very weighty instructions written with great strength and majesty; so that it is one of the finest books of the NEW TESTAMENT." The second, though not so well supported by external authority, is sufficiently established by the internal evidence, by its reference to the foregoing. It was evidently written soon after the former, from the continuation of the subject, and shortly before the Apostle's martyrdom, which he expressly predicts, 2 Pet. i. 14, (as explained before, p. 21 of this volume.)

The Apostle represents his first Epistle as written from "Babylon, and sent by Silvanus, the faithful brother, to Pontus," &c. 1 Pet. v. 12, 13.

Whether Babylon is to be understood here, literally, or mystically; as the city of that name in Mesopotamia, or in Egypt; or rather, Rome; or Jerusalem; has been long and warmly contested by the learned. The arguments on both sides are detailed at length by Lardner, who adopts the mystical application to Rome; and by Michaelis, the literal, to Babylon in Mesopotamia, or rather, as he supposes, Seleucia on the Tigris. See Lardner, vi. p. 572-580, Michaelis, iv. p. 328-341.

After a careful examination of both, the evidences in favour of the mystical interpretation seem greatly to preponderate, for the following reasons.

1. This was the primitive tradition adopted by most of the Greek and Latin Fathers, Papias, Eusebius, Jerom, Ecumenius, Cosmas, Bede, &c. and by Valesius, and most of the writers of the Romish Church.

2. Itis not probable that Peter ever visited Babylon in Chaldea, from the total silence of Ecclesiastical History. And Babylon in Egypt was too small and insignificant to be the subject of consideration.

3. Silvanus or Silas *, the bearer, was "the faithful brother,"

Silas, in Hebrew, hy, signifies, "three," or "third;" and seems to have been

[blocks in formation]

or associate of Paul in most of the Churches which he had planted. And though he was not at Rome with the Apostle when he wrote his last Epistle to Timothy, might naturally have come thither soon after; and have been sent by Paul and Peter jointly, to confirm the Churches in Asia Minor, &c. which he had assisted in planting. But Silvanus, Paul, and Peter had no connection with Babylon, which lay beyond their district; and, therefore, they were not likely at any time to build upon another's foundation. The Gospel was preached in `Persia or Parthia, by the Apostle Thaddeus, or Jude, according to Cosmas; and Abulfuragi reckons, that the ancient Syriac version of the New Testament was made in his time, and probably, by his authority, for the use of the Oriental Churches, Lardner, v. p. 172, Michaelis, Vol. II. p. 30.

4. The Jews, to whom the Epistle was written, were fond of mystical appellations, especially in their captivities; Edom was a frequent title for their Heathen oppressors; and as Babylon was the principal scene of their first captivity; it was highly probable, that Rome, the principal scene of their second, and which so strongly resembled the former in her "abominations, her idolatries and persecutions of the Saints," should be denominated by the same title. And this argument is corroborated by the similar usage of the Apocalypse, where the mystical application is unquestionable, Rev. xiv. 8, xvi. 19, xviii. 2, &c. It is highly probable, indeed, that John borrowed it from Peter; or rather, that both took it by inspiration, from the prophecy of Isaiah, xxi. 9.

5. The Syrian hypothesis cited by Michaelis, from Asseman's Bibliotheca Orientalis, T. III. P. II. p. 7; that Peter wrote his first Epistle not only in Jerusalem, but in the very room where the Apostles first received the gifts of the HOLY SPIRIT, (iv. p. 341, note,) though of no weight in itself, is a voucher for the preceding observation.

6. The second Epistle is generally agreed to have been written shortly before Peter's death; but a journey from Babylon to Rome, (where he unquestionably suffered) must have employed

latinized by this Amanuensis of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans; who joins in the salutation with the Apostle and his companion: "I Tertius, who wrote this Epistle, salute you in the Lord." Rom. xvi. 22. Silas, elsewhere called Silvanus, by his Christian name, 1 Thess. i. 1, was a Roman citizen, Acts xvi. 19-37; and as such, might naturally have used the Roman appellation, Tertius.

« PreviousContinue »