The church at Ephesus (Rev. 2:6) is commended for hating the
"deeds" of the Nicolaitanes, and the church of Pergamos is
blamed for having them who hold their "doctrines" (15). They
were seemingly a class of professing Christians, who sought to
introduce into the church a false freedom or licentiousness,
thus abusing Paul's doctrine of grace (comp. 2 Pet. 2:15, 16,
19), and were probably identical with those who held the
doctrine of Baalam (q.v.), Rev. 2:14.
the refuse of winnowed corn. It was usually burned (Ex. 15:7;
Isa. 5:24; Matt. 3:12). This word sometimes, however, means
dried grass or hay (Isa. 5:24; 33:11). Chaff is used as a figure
of abortive wickedness (Ps. 1:4; Matt. 3:12). False doctrines
are also called chaff (Jer. 23:28), or more correctly rendered
"chopped straw." The destruction of the wicked, and their
powerlessness, are likened to the carrying away of chaff by the
wind (Isa. 17:13; Hos. 13:3; Zeph. 2:2).
the people is victor, a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin.
He is first noticed as visiting Jesus by night (John 3:1-21) for
the purpose of learning more of his doctrines, which our Lord
then unfolded to him, giving prominence to the necessity of
being "born again." He is next met with in the Sanhedrin
(7:50-52), where he protested against the course they were
taking in plotting against Christ. Once more he is mentioned as
taking part in the preparation for the anointing and burial of
the body of Christ (John 19:39). We hear nothing more of him.
There can be little doubt that he became a true disciple.
the chief city of Mysia, in Asia Minor. One of the "seven
churches" was planted here (Rev. 1:11; 2:17). It was noted for
its wickedness, insomuch that our Lord says "Satan's seat" was
there. The church of Pergamos was rebuked for swerving from the
truth and embracing the doctrines of Balaam and the
Nicolaitanes. Antipas, Christ's "faithful martyr," here sealed
his testimony with his blood.
This city stood on the banks of the river Caicus, about 20
miles from the sea. It is now called Bergama, and has a
population of some twenty thousand, of whom about two thousand
profess to be Christians. Parchment (q.v.) was first made here,
and was called by the Greeks pergamene, from the name of the
from a Greek word signifying (1) a choice, (2) the opinion
chosen, and (3) the sect holding the opinion. In the Acts of the
Apostles (5:17; 15:5; 24:5, 14; 26:5) it denotes a sect, without
reference to its character. Elsewhere, however, in the New
Testament it has a different meaning attached to it. Paul ranks
"heresies" with crimes and seditions (Gal. 5:20). This word also
denotes divisions or schisms in the church (1 Cor. 11:19). In
Titus 3:10 a "heretical person" is one who follows his own
self-willed "questions," and who is to be avoided. Heresies thus
came to signify self-chosen doctrines not emanating from God (2
the calling of the Gentiles into the Christian Church, so
designated (Eph. 1:9, 10; 3:8-11; Col. 1:25-27); a truth
undiscoverable except by revelation, long hid, now made
manifest. The resurrection of the dead (1 Cor. 15:51), and other
doctrines which need to be explained but which cannot be fully
understood by finite intelligence (Matt. 13:11; Rom. 11:25; 1
Cor. 13:2); the union between Christ and his people symbolized
by the marriage union (Eph. 5:31, 32; comp. 6:19); the seven
stars and the seven candlesticks (Rev. 1:20); and the woman
clothed in scarlet (17:7), are also in this sense mysteries. The
anti-Christian power working in his day is called by the apostle
(2 Thess. 2:7) the "mystery of iniquity."
a word of Anglo-Saxon origin, and meaning "God's spell", i.e.,
word of God, or rather, according to others, "good spell", i.e.,
good news. It is the rendering of the Greek _evangelion_, i.e.,
"good message." It denotes (1) "the welcome intelligence of
salvation to man as preached by our Lord and his followers. (2.)
It was afterwards transitively applied to each of the four
histories of our Lord's life, published by those who are
therefore called 'Evangelists', writers of the history of the
gospel (the evangelion). (3.) The term is often used to express
collectively the gospel doctrines; and 'preaching the gospel' is
often used to include not only the proclaiming of the good
tidings, but the teaching men how to avail themselves of the
offer of salvation, the declaring of all the truths, precepts,
promises, and threatenings of Christianity." It is termed "the
gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24), "the gospel of the
kingdom" (Matt. 4:23), "the gospel of Christ" (Rom. 1:16), "the
gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15), "the glorious gospel," "the
everlasting gospel," "the gospel of salvation" (Eph. 1:13).
Peter, First Epistle of
This epistle is addressed to "the strangers scattered abroad",
i.e., to the Jews of the Dispersion (the Diaspora).
Its object is to confirm its readers in the doctrines they had
been already taught. Peter has been called "the apostle of
hope," because this epistle abounds with words of comfort and
encouragement fitted to sustain a "lively hope." It contains
about thirty-five references to the Old Testament.
It was written from Babylon, on the Euphrates, which was at
this time one of the chief seats of Jewish learning, and a
fitting centre for labour among the Jews. It has been noticed
that in the beginning of his epistle Peter names the provinces
of Asia Minor in the order in which they would naturally occur
to one writing from Babylon. He counsels (1) to steadfastness
and perseverance under persecution (1-2:10); (2) to the
practical duties of a holy life (2:11-3:13); (3) he adduces the
example of Christ and other motives to patience and holiness
(3:14-4:19); and (4) concludes with counsels to pastors and
people (ch. 5).
Colossians, Epistle to the
was written by Paul at Rome during his first imprisonment there
(Acts 28:16, 30), probably in the spring of A.D. 57, or, as some
think, 62, and soon after he had written his Epistle to the
Ephesians. Like some of his other epistles (e.g., those to
Corinth), this seems to have been written in consequence of
information which had somehow been conveyed to him of the
internal state of the church there (Col. 1:4-8). Its object was
to counteract false teaching. A large part of it is directed
against certain speculatists who attempted to combine the
doctrines of Oriental mysticism and asceticism with
Christianity, thereby promising the disciples the enjoyment of a
higher spiritual life and a deeper insight into the world of
spirits. Paul argues against such teaching, showing that in
Christ Jesus they had all things. He sets forth the majesty of
his redemption. The mention of the "new moon" and "sabbath days"
(2:16) shows also that there were here Judaizing teachers who
sought to draw away the disciples from the simplicity of the
Like most of Paul's epistles, this consists of two parts, a
doctrinal and a practical.
(1.) The doctrinal part comprises the first two chapters. His
main theme is developed in chapter 2. He warns them against
being drawn away from Him in whom dwelt all the fulness of the
Godhead, and who was the head of all spiritual powers. Christ
was the head of the body of which they were members; and if they
were truly united to him, what needed they more?
(2.) The practical part of the epistle (3-4) enforces various
duties naturally flowing from the doctrines expounded. They are
exhorted to mind things that are above (3:1-4), to mortify every
evil principle of their nature, and to put on the new man
(3:5-14). Many special duties of the Christian life are also
insisted upon as the fitting evidence of the Christian
character. Tychicus was the bearer of the letter, as he was also
of that to the Ephesians and to Philemon, and he would tell them
of the state of the apostle (4:7-9). After friendly greetings
(10-14), he bids them interchange this letter with that he had
sent to the neighbouring church of Laodicea. He then closes this
brief but striking epistle with his usual autograph salutation.
There is a remarkable resemblance between this epistle and that
to the Ephesians (q.v.). The genuineness of this epistle has not
been called in question.
Romans, Epistle to the
This epistle was probably written at Corinth. Phoebe (Rom. 16:1)
of Cenchrea conveyed it to Rome, and Gaius of Corinth
entertained the apostle at the time of his writing it (16:23; 1
Cor. 1:14), and Erastus was chamberlain of the city, i.e., of
Corinth (2 Tim. 4:20).
The precise time at which it was written is not mentioned in
the epistle, but it was obviously written when the apostle was
about to "go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints", i.e.,
at the close of his second visit to Greece, during the winter
preceding his last visit to that city (Rom. 15:25; comp. Acts
19:21; 20:2, 3, 16; 1 Cor. 16:1-4), early in A.D. 58.
It is highly probable that Christianity was planted in Rome by
some of those who had been at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost
(Acts 2:10). At this time the Jews were very numerous in Rome,
and their synagogues were probably resorted to by Romans also,
who in this way became acquainted with the great facts regarding
Jesus as these were reported among the Jews. Thus a church
composed of both Jews and Gentiles was formed at Rome. Many of
the brethren went out to meet Paul on his approach to Rome.
There are evidences that Christians were then in Rome in
considerable numbers, and had probably more than one place of
meeting (Rom. 16:14, 15).
The object of the apostle in writing to this church was to
explain to them the great doctrines of the gospel. His epistle
was a "word in season." Himself deeply impressed with a sense of
the value of the doctrines of salvation, he opens up in a clear
and connected form the whole system of the gospel in its
relation both to Jew and Gentile. This epistle is peculiar in
this, that it is a systematic exposition of the gospel of
universal application. The subject is here treated
argumentatively, and is a plea for Gentiles addressed to Jews.
In the Epistle to the Galatians, the same subject is discussed,
but there the apostle pleads his own authority, because the
church in Galatia had been founded by him.
After the introduction (1:1-15), the apostle presents in it
divers aspects and relations the doctrine of justification by
faith (1:16-11:36) on the ground of the imputed righteousness of
Christ. He shows that salvation is all of grace, and only of
grace. This main section of his letter is followed by various
practical exhortations (12:1-15:13), which are followed by a
conclusion containing personal explanations and salutations,
which contain the names of twenty-four Christians at Rome, a
benediction, and a doxology (Rom. 15:14-ch. 16).
the apostolic letters. The New Testament contains twenty-one in
all. They are divided into two classes. (1.) Paul's Epistles,
fourteen in number, including Hebrews. These are not arranged in
the New Testament in the order of time as to their composition,
but rather according to the rank of the cities or places to
which they were sent. Who arranged them after this manner is
unknown. Paul's letters were, as a rule, dictated to an
amanuensis, a fact which accounts for some of their
peculiarities. He authenticated them, however, by adding a few
words in his own hand at the close. (See GALATIANS, EPISTLE TO
The epistles to Timothy and Titus are styled the Pastoral
(2.) The Catholic or General Epistles, so called because they
are not addressed to any particular church or city or
individual, but to Christians in general, or to Christians in
several countries. Of these, three are written by John, two by
Peter, and one each by James and Jude.
It is an interesting and instructive fact that a large portion
of the New Testament is taken up with epistles. The doctrines of
Christianity are thus not set forth in any formal treatise, but
mainly in a collection of letters. "Christianity was the first
great missionary religion. It was the first to break the bonds
of race and aim at embracing all mankind. But this necessarily
involved a change in the mode in which it was presented. The
prophet of the Old Testament, if he had anything to communicate,
either appeared in person or sent messengers to speak for him by
word of mouth. The narrow limits of Israel made direct
personal communication easy. But the case was different when the
Christian Church came to consist of a number of scattered parts,
stretching from Mesopotamia in the east to Rome or even Spain in
the far west. It was only natural that the apostle by whom the
greater number of these communities had been founded should seek
to communicate with them by letter."
Jude, Epistle of
The author was "Judas, the brother of James" the Less (Jude
1:1), called also Lebbaeus (Matt. 10:3) and Thaddaeus (Mark
3:18). The genuineness of this epistle was early questioned, and
doubts regarding it were revived at the time of the Reformation;
but the evidences in support of its claims are complete. It has
all the marks of having proceeded from the writer whose name it
There is nothing very definite to determine the time and place
at which it was written. It was apparently written in the later
period of the apostolic age, for when it was written there were
persons still alive who had heard the apostles preach (ver. 17).
It may thus have been written about A.D. 66 or 70, and
apparently in Israel.
The epistle is addressed to Christians in general (ver. 1),
and its design is to put them on their guard against the
misleading efforts of a certain class of errorists to which they
were exposed. The style of the epistle is that of an
"impassioned invective, in the impetuous whirlwind of which the
writer is hurried along, collecting example after example of
divine vengeance on the ungodly; heaping epithet upon epithet,
and piling image upon image, and, as it were, labouring for
words and images strong enough to depict the polluted character
of the licentious apostates against whom he is warning the
Church; returning again and again to the subject, as though all
language was insufficient to give an adequate idea of their
profligacy, and to express his burning hatred of their
perversion of the doctrines of the gospel."
The striking resemblance this epistle bears to 2 Peter
suggests the idea that the author of the one had seen the
epistle of the other.
The doxology with which the epistle concludes is regarded as
the finest in the New Testament.
separatists (Heb. persahin, from parash, "to separate"). They
were probably the successors of the Assideans (i.e., the
"pious"), a party that originated in the time of Antiochus
Epiphanes in revolt against his heathenizing policy. The first
mention of them is in a description by Josephus of the three
sects or schools into which the Jews were divided (B.C. 145).
The other two sects were the Essenes and the Sadducees. In the
time of our Lord they were the popular party (John 7:48). They
were extremely accurate and minute in all matters appertaining
to the law of Moses (Matt. 9:14; 23:15; Luke 11:39; 18:12).
Paul, when brought before the council of Jerusalem, professed
himself a Pharisee (Acts 23:6-8; 26:4, 5).
There was much that was sound in their creed, yet their system
of religion was a form and nothing more. Theirs was a very lax
morality (Matt. 5:20; 15:4, 8; 23:3, 14, 23, 25; John 8:7). On
the first notice of them in the New Testament (Matt. 3:7), they
are ranked by our Lord with the Sadducees as a "generation of
vipers." They were noted for their self-righteousness and their
pride (Matt. 9:11; Luke 7:39; 18:11, 12). They were frequently
rebuked by our Lord (Matt. 12:39; 16:1-4).
From the very beginning of his ministry the Pharisees showed
themselves bitter and persistent enemies of our Lord. They could
not bear his doctrines, and they sought by every means to
destroy his influence among the people.
is used in the LXX. for "stranger" (1 Chr. 22:2), i.e., a comer
to Israel; a sojourner in the land (Ex. 12:48; 20:10; 22:21),
and in the New Testament for a convert to Judaism. There were
such converts from early times (Isa. 56:3; Neh. 10:28; Esther
8:17). The law of Moses made specific regulations regarding the
admission into the Jewish church of such as were not born
Israelites (Ex. 20:10; 23:12; 12:19, 48; Deut. 5:14; 16:11, 14,
etc.). The Kenites, the Gibeonites, the Cherethites, and the
Pelethites were thus admitted to the privileges of Israelites.
Thus also we hear of individual proselytes who rose to positions
of prominence in Israel, as of Doeg the Edomite, Uriah the
Hittite, Araunah the Jebusite, Zelek the Ammonite, Ithmah and
Ebedmelech the Ethiopians.
In the time of Solomon there were one hundred and fifty-three
thousand six hundred strangers in the land of Israel (1 Chr.
22:2; 2 Chr. 2:17, 18). And the prophets speak of the time as
coming when the strangers shall share in all the privileges of
Israel (Ezek. 47:22; Isa. 2:2; 11:10; 56:3-6; Micah 4:1).
Accordingly, in New Testament times, we read of proselytes in
the synagogues, (Acts 10:2, 7; 13:42, 43, 50; 17:4; 18:7; Luke
7:5). The "religious proselytes" here spoken of were proselytes
of righteousness, as distinguished from proselytes of the gate.
The distinction between "proselytes of the gate" (Ex. 20:10)
and "proselytes of righteousness" originated only with the
rabbis. According to them, the "proselytes of the gate" (half
proselytes) were not required to be circumcised nor to comply
with the Mosaic ceremonial law. They were bound only to conform
to the so-called seven precepts of Noah, viz., to abstain from
idolatry, blasphemy, bloodshed, uncleaness, the eating of blood,
theft, and to yield obedience to the authorities. Besides these
laws, however, they were required to abstain from work on the
Sabbath, and to refrain from the use of leavened bread during
the time of the Passover.
The "proselytes of righteousness", religious or devout
proselytes (Acts 13:43), were bound to all the doctrines and
precepts of the Jewish economy, and were members of the
synagogue in full communion.
The name "proselyte" occurs in the New Testament only in Matt.
23:15; Acts 2:10; 6:5; 13:43. The name by which they are
commonly designated is that of "devout men," or men "fearing
God" or "worshipping God."
a person sent by another; a messenger; envoy. This word is once
used as a descriptive designation of Jesus Christ, the Sent of
the Father (Heb. 3:1; John 20:21). It is, however, generally
used as designating the body of disciples to whom he intrusted
the organization of his church and the dissemination of his
gospel, "the twelve," as they are called (Matt. 10:1-5; Mark
3:14; 6:7; Luke 6:13; 9:1). We have four lists of the apostles,
one by each of the synoptic evangelists (Matt. 10:2-4; Mark
3:16; Luke 6:14), and one in the Acts (1:13). No two of these
lists, however, perfectly coincide.
Our Lord gave them the "keys of the kingdom," and by the gift
of his Spirit fitted them to be the founders and governors of
his church (John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26, 27; 16:7-15). To them, as
representing his church, he gave the commission to "preach the
gospel to every creature" (Matt. 28:18-20). After his ascension
he communicated to them, according to his promise, supernatural
gifts to qualify them for the discharge of their duties (Acts
2:4; 1 Cor. 2:16; 2:7, 10, 13; 2 Cor. 5:20; 1 Cor. 11:2). Judas
Iscariot, one of "the twelve," fell by transgression, and
Matthias was substituted in his place (Acts 1:21). Saul of
Tarsus was afterwards added to their number (Acts 9:3-20; 20:4;
26:15-18; 1 Tim. 1:12; 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11).
Luke has given some account of Peter, John, and the two
Jameses (Acts 12:2, 17; 15:13; 21:18), but beyond this we know
nothing from authentic history of the rest of the original
twelve. After the martyrdom of James the Greater (Acts 12:2),
James the Less usually resided at Jerusalem, while Paul, "the
apostle of the uncircumcision," usually travelled as a
missionary among the Gentiles (Gal. 2:8). It was characteristic
of the apostles and necessary (1) that they should have seen the
Lord, and been able to testify of him and of his resurrection
from personal knowledge (John 15:27; Acts 1:21, 22; 1 Cor. 9:1;
Acts 22:14, 15). (2.) They must have been immediately called to
that office by Christ (Luke 6:13; Gal. 1:1). (3.) It was
essential that they should be infallibly inspired, and thus
secured against all error and mistake in their public teaching,
whether by word or by writing (John 14:26; 16:13; 1 Thess.
(4.) Another qualification was the power of working miracles
(Mark 16:20; Acts 2:43; 1 Cor. 12:8-11). The apostles therefore
could have had no successors. They are the only authoritative
teachers of the Christian doctrines. The office of an apostle
ceased with its first holders.
In 2 Cor. 8:23 and Phil. 2:25 the word "messenger" is the
rendering of the same Greek word, elsewhere rendered "apostle."
Galatians, Epistle to
The genuineness of this epistle is not called in question. Its
Pauline origin is universally acknowledged.
Occasion of. The churches of Galatia were founded by Paul
himself (Acts 16:6; Gal. 1:8; 4:13, 19). They seem to have been
composed mainly of converts from heathenism (4:8), but partly
also of Jewish converts, who probably, under the influence of
Judaizing teachers, sought to incorporate the rites of Judaism
with Christianity, and by their active zeal had succeeded in
inducing the majority of the churches to adopt their views (1:6;
3:1). This epistle was written for the purpose of counteracting
this Judaizing tendency, and of recalling the Galatians to the
simplicity of the gospel, and at the same time also of
vindicating Paul's claim to be a divinely-commissioned apostle.
Time and place of writing. The epistle was probably written
very soon after Paul's second visit to Galatia (Acts 18:23). The
references of the epistle appear to agree with this conclusion.
The visit to Jerusalem, mentioned in Gal. 2:1-10, was identical
with that of Acts 15, and it is spoken of as a thing of the
past, and consequently the epistle was written subsequently to
the council of Jerusalem. The similarity between this epistle
and that to the Romans has led to the conclusion that they were
both written at the same time, namely, in the winter of A.D.
57-8, during Paul's stay in Corinth (Acts 20:2, 3). This to the
Galatians is written on the urgency of the occasion, tidings
having reached him of the state of matters; and that to the
Romans in a more deliberate and systematic way, in exposition of
the same great doctrines of the gospel.
Contents of. The great question discussed is, Was the Jewish
law binding on Christians? The epistle is designed to prove
against the Jews that men are justified by faith without the
works of the law of Moses. After an introductory address (Gal.
1:1-10) the apostle discusses the subjects which had occasioned
the epistle. (1) He defends his apostolic authority (1:11-19;
2:1-14); (2) shows the evil influence of the Judaizers in
destroying the very essence of the gospel (3 and 4); (3) exhorts
the Galatian believers to stand fast in the faith as it is in
Jesus, and to abound in the fruits of the Spirit, and in a right
use of their Christian freedom (5-6:1-10); (4) and then
concludes with a summary of the topics discussed, and with the
The Epistle to the Galatians and that to the Romans taken
together "form a complete proof that justification is not to be
obtained meritoriously either by works of morality or by rites
and ceremonies, though of divine appointment; but that it is a
free gift, proceeding entirely from the mercy of God, to those
who receive it by faith in Jesus our Lord."
In the conclusion of the epistle (6:11) Paul says, "Ye see how
large a letter I have written with mine own hand." It is implied
that this was different from his ordinary usage, which was
simply to write the concluding salutation with his own hand,
indicating that the rest of the epistle was written by another
hand. Regarding this conclusion, Lightfoot, in his Commentary on
the epistle, says: "At this point the apostle takes the pen from
his amanuensis, and the concluding paragraph is written with his
own hand. From the time when letters began to be forged in his
name (2 Thess. 2:2; 3:17) it seems to have been his practice to
close with a few words in his own handwriting, as a precaution
against such forgeries...In the present case he writes a whole
paragraph, summing up the main lessons of the epistle in terse,
eager, disjointed sentences. He writes it, too, in large, bold
characters (Gr. pelikois grammasin), that his hand-writing may
reflect the energy and determination of his soul." (See
Ephesians, Epistle to
was written by Paul at Rome about the same time as that to the
Colossians, which in many points it resembles.
Contents of. The Epistle to the Colossians is mainly
polemical, designed to refute certain theosophic errors that had
crept into the church there. That to the Ephesians does not seem
to have originated in any special circumstances, but is simply a
letter springing from Paul's love to the church there, and
indicative of his earnest desire that they should be fully
instructed in the profound doctrines of the gospel. It contains
(1) the salutation (1:1, 2); (2) a general description of the
blessings the gospel reveals, as to their source, means by which
they are attained, purpose for which they are bestowed, and
their final result, with a fervent prayer for the further
spiritual enrichment of the Ephesians (1:3-2:10); (3) "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" (2:12-3:21); (4) a chapter on unity as
undisturbed by diversity of gifts (4:1-16); (5) special
injunctions bearing on ordinary life (4:17-6:10); (6) the
imagery of a spiritual warfare, mission of Tychicus, and
valedictory blessing (6:11-24).
Planting of the church at Ephesus. Paul's first and hurried
visit for the space of three months to Ephesus is recorded in
Acts 18:19-21. The work he began on this occasion was carried
forward by Apollos (24-26) and Aquila and Priscilla. On his
second visit, early in the following year, he remained at
Ephesus "three years," for he found it was the key to the
western provinces of Asia Minor. Here "a great door and
effectual" was opened to him (1 Cor. 16:9), and the church was
established and strengthened by his assiduous labours there
(Acts 20:20, 31). From Ephesus as a centre the gospel spread
abroad "almost throughout all Asia" (19:26). The word "mightily
grew and prevailed" despite all the opposition and persecution
On his last journey to Jerusalem the apostle landed at
Miletus, and summoning together the elders of the church from
Ephesus, delivered to them his remarkable farewell charge (Acts
20:18-35), expecting to see them no more.
The following parallels between this epistle and the Milesian
charge may be traced:
(1.) Acts 20:19 = Eph. 4:2. The phrase "lowliness of mind"
occurs nowhere else.
(2.) Acts 20:27 = Eph. 1:11. The word "counsel," as denoting
the divine plan, occurs only here and Heb. 6:17.
(3.) Acts 20:32 = Eph. 3:20. The divine ability.
(4.) Acts 20:32 = Eph. 2:20. The building upon the foundation.
(5.) Acts 20:32 = Eph. 1:14, 18. "The inheritance of the
Place and date of the writing of the letter. It was evidently
written from Rome during Paul's first imprisonment (3:1; 4:1;
6:20), and probably soon after his arrival there, about the year
62, four years after he had parted with the Ephesian elders at
Miletus. The subscription of this epistle is correct.
There seems to have been no special occasion for the writing
of this letter, as already noted. Paul's object was plainly not
polemical. No errors had sprung up in the church which he sought
to point out and refute. The object of the apostle is "to set
forth the ground, the cause, and the aim and end of the church
of the faithful in Christ. He speaks to the Ephesians as a type
or sample of the church universal." The church's foundations,
its course, and its end, are his theme. "Everywhere the
foundation of the church is the will of the Father; the course
of the church is by the satisfaction of the Son; the end of the
church is the life in the Holy Spirit." In the Epistle to the
Romans, Paul writes from the point of view of justification by
the imputed righteousness of Christ; here he writes from the
point of view specially of union to the Redeemer, and hence of
the oneness of the true church of Christ. "This is perhaps the
profoundest book in existence." It is a book "which sounds the
lowest depths of Christian doctrine, and scales the loftiest
heights of Christian experience;" and the fact that the apostle
evidently expected the Ephesians to understand it is an evidence
of the "proficiency which Paul's converts had attained under his
preaching at Ephesus."
Relation between this epistle and that to the Colossians
(q.v.). "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, so frequent an introduction of
coloquial idiom, and so much of conversational frankness and
vivacity, that the reader associates the image of the writer
with every paragraph, and the ear seems to catch and recognize
the very tones of living address." "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 so
much that is peculiar? The close relation as to style and
subject between the epistles to Colosse and Ephesus must strike
every reader. Their precise relation to each other has given
rise to much discussion. The great probability is that the
epistle to Colosse was first written; the parallel passages in
Ephesians, which amount to about forty-two in number, having the
appearance of being expansions from the epistle to Colosse.
Eph 1:7; Col 1:14
Eph 1:10; Col 1:20
Eph 3:2; Col 1:25
Eph 5:19; Col 3:16
Eph 6:22; Col 4:8
Eph 1:19-2:5; Col 2:12,13
Eph 4:2-4; Col 3:12-15
Eph 4:16; Col 2:19
Eph 4:32; Col 3:13
Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:9,10
Eph 5:6-8; Col 3:6-8
Eph 5:15,16; Col 4:5
Eph 6:19,20; Col 4:3,4
Eph 5:22-6:9; Col 3:18-4:1
"The style of this epistle is exceedingly animated, and
corresponds with the state of the apostle's mind at the time of
writing. Overjoyed with the account which their messenger had
brought him of their faith and holiness (Eph. 1:15), and
transported with the consideration of the unsearchable wisdom of
God displayed in the work of man's redemption, and of his
astonishing love towards the Gentiles in making them partakers
through faith of all the benefits of Christ's death, he soars
high in his sentiments on those grand subjects, and gives his
thoughts utterance in sublime and copious expression."
Resurrection of Christ
one of the cardinal facts and doctrines of the gospel. If Christ
be not risen, our faith is vain (1 Cor. 15:14). The whole of the
New Testament revelation rests on this as an historical fact. On
the day of Pentecost Peter argued the necessity of Christ's
resurrection from the prediction in Ps. 16 (Acts 2:24-28). In
his own discourses, also, our Lord clearly intimates his
resurrection (Matt. 20:19; Mark 9:9; 14:28; Luke 18:33; John
The evangelists give circumstantial accounts of the facts
connected with that event, and the apostles, also, in their
public teaching largely insist upon it. Ten different
appearances of our risen Lord are recorded in the New Testament.
They may be arranged as follows:
(1.) To Mary Magdalene at the sepulchre alone. This is
recorded at length only by John (20:11-18), and alluded to by
(2.) To certain women, "the other Mary," Salome, Joanna, and
others, as they returned from the sepulchre. Matthew (28:1-10)
alone gives an account of this. (Comp. Mark 16:1-8, and Luke
(3.) To Simon Peter alone on the day of the resurrection. (See
Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5.)
(4.) To the two disciples on the way to Emmaus on the day of
the resurrection, recorded fully only by Luke (24:13-35. Comp.
Mark 16:12, 13).
(5.) To the ten disciples (Thomas being absent) and others
"with them," at Jerusalem on the evening of the resurrection
day. One of the evangelists gives an account of this appearance,
(6.) To the disciples again (Thomas being present) at
Jerusalem (Mark 16:14-18; Luke 24:33-40; John 20:26-28. See also
1 Cor. 15:5).
(7.) To the disciples when fishing at the Sea of Galilee. Of
this appearance also John (21:1-23) alone gives an account.
(8.) To the eleven, and above 500 brethren at once, at an
appointed place in Galilee (1 Cor. 15:6; comp. Matt. 28:16-20).
(9.) To James, but under what circumstances we are not
informed (1 Cor. 15:7).
(10.) To the apostles immediately before the ascension. They
accompanied him from Jerusalem to Mount Olivet, and there they
saw him ascend "till a cloud received him out of their sight"
(Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-52; Acts 1:4-10).
It is worthy of note that it is distinctly related that on
most of these occasions our Lord afforded his disciples the
amplest opportunity of testing the fact of his resurrection. He
conversed with them face to face. They touched him (Matt. 28:9;
Luke 24:39; John 20:27), and he ate bread with them (Luke 24:42,
43; John 21:12, 13).
(11.) In addition to the above, mention might be made of
Christ's manifestation of himself to Paul at Damascus, who
speaks of it as an appearance of the risen Saviour (Acts 9:3-9,
17; 1 Cor. 15:8; 9:1).
It is implied in the words of Luke (Acts 1:3) that there may
have been other appearances of which we have no record.
The resurrection is spoken of as the act (1) of God the Father
(Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:24; 3:15; Rom. 8:11; Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12;
Heb. 13:20); (2) of Christ himself (John 2:19; 10:18); and (3)
of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).
The resurrection is a public testimony of Christ's release
from his undertaking as surety, and an evidence of the Father's
acceptance of his work of redemption. It is a victory over death
and the grave for all his followers.
The importance of Christ's resurrection will be seen when we
consider that if he rose the gospel is true, and if he rose not
it is false. His resurrection from the dead makes it manifest
that his sacrifice was accepted. Our justification was secured
by his obedience to the death, and therefore he was raised from
the dead (Rom. 4:25). His resurrection is a proof that he made a
full atonement for our sins, that his sacrifice was accepted as
a satisfaction to divine justice, and his blood a ransom for
sinners. It is also a pledge and an earnest of the resurrection
of all believers (Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:14; 15:47-49; Phil. 3:21;
1 John 3:2). As he lives, they shall live also.
It proved him to be the Son of God, inasmuch as it
authenticated all his claims (John 2:19; 10:17). "If Christ did
not rise, the whole scheme of redemption is a failure, and all
the predictions and anticipations of its glorious results for
time and for eternity, for men and for angels of every rank and
order, are proved to be chimeras. 'But now is Christ risen from
the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.'
Therefore the Bible is true from Genesis to Revelation. The
kingdom of darkness has been overthrown, Satan has fallen as
lightning from heaven, and the triumph of truth over error, of
good over evil, of happiness over misery is for ever secured."
With reference to the report which the Roman soldiers were
bribed (Matt. 28:12-14) to circulate concerning Christ's
resurrection, "his disciples came by night and stole him away
while we slept," Matthew Henry in his "Commentary," under John
20:1-10, fittingly remarks, "The grave-clothes in which Christ
had been buried were found in very good order, which serves for
an evidence that his body was not 'stolen away while men slept.'
Robbers of tombs have been known to take away 'the clothes' and
leave the body; but none ever took away 'the body' and left the
clothes, especially when they were 'fine linen' and new (Mark
15:46). Any one would rather choose to carry a dead body in its
clothes than naked. Or if they that were supposed to have stolen
it would have left the grave-clothes behind, yet it cannot be
supposed they would find leisure to 'fold up the linen.'"