chance, an Asiatic Christian, a "faithful minister in the Lord"
(Eph. 6:21, 22), who, with Trophimus, accompanied Paul on a part
of his journey from Macedonia to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4). He is
alluded to also in Col. 4:7, Titus 3:12, and 2 Tim. 4:12 as
having been with Paul at Rome, whence he sent him to Ephesus,
probably for the purpose of building up and encouraging the
Unconverted men are so called (1 Cor. 3:3). They are represented
as of a "carnal mind, which is enmity against God" (Rom. 8:6,
7). Enjoyments that minister to the wants and desires of man's
animal nature are so called (Rom. 15:27; 1 Cor. 9:11). The
ceremonial of the Mosaic law is spoken of as "carnal," because
it related to things outward, the bodies of men and of animals,
and the purification of the flesh (Heb. 7:16; 9:10). The weapons
of Christian warfare are "not carnal", that is, they are not of
man's device, nor are wielded by human power (2 Cor. 10:4).
occurs only in 2 Kings 4:43, Authorized Version (R.V.,
"servant"). The Hebrew word there rendered "servitor" is
elsewhere rendered "minister," "servant" (Ex. 24:13; 33:11).
Probably Gehazi, the personal attendant on Elisha, is here
given of Jehovah. (1.) One of Asaph's sons, appointed by David
to minister in the temple (1 Chr. 25:2, 12).
(2.) A Levite sent by Jehoshaphat to teach the law (2 Chr.
(3.) Jer. 36:14.
(4.) 2 Kings 25:23, 25.
the chief officer or prime minister of state of Candace (q.v.),
queen of Ethiopia. He was converted to Christianity through the
instrumentality of Philip (Act 8:27). The northern portion of
Ethiopia formed the kingdom of Meroe, which for a long period
was ruled over by queens, and it was probably from this kingdom
that the eunuch came.
lovely, spoken of by Paul (Col. 1:7; 4:12) as "his dear
fellow-servant," and "a faithful minister of Christ." He was
thus evidently with him at Rome when he wrote to the Colossians.
He was a distinguished disciple, and probably the founder of the
Colossian church. He is also mentioned in the Epistle to
Philemon (1:23), where he is called by Paul his
father of (i.e., "given to") error, a young woman of Shunem,
distinguished for her beauty. She was chosen to minister to
David in his old age. She became his wife (1 Kings 1:3,4,15).
After David's death Adonijah persuaded Bathsheba, Solomon's
mother, to entreat the king to permit him to marry Abishag.
Solomon suspected in this request an aspiration to the throne,
and therefore caused him to be put to death (1 Kings 2:17-25).
(of Persian origin), magnificent, the name of the vizier (i.e.,
the prime minister) of the Persian king Ahasuerus (Esther 3:1,
etc.). He is called an "Agagite," which seems to denote that he
was descended from the royal family of the Amalekites, the
bitterest enemies of the Jews, as Agag was one of the titles of
the Amalekite kings. He or his parents were brought to Persia as
captives taken in war. He was hanged on the gallows which he had
erected for Mordecai the Jew (Esther 7:10). (See ESTHER
the name which Pharaoh gave to Joseph when he raised him to the
rank of prime minister or grand vizier of the kingdom (Gen.
41:45). This is a pure Egyptian word, and has been variously
explained. Some think it means "creator," or "preserver of
life." Brugsch interprets it as "governor of the district of the
place of life", i.e., of Goshen, the chief city of which was
Pithom, "the place of life." Others explain it as meaning "a
revealer of secrets," or "the man to whom secrets are revealed."
one who serves, as distinguished from the master. (1.) Heb.
meshereth, applied to an attendant on one of superior rank, as
to Joshua, the servant of Moses (Ex. 33:11), and to the servant
of Elisha (2 Kings 4:43). This name is also given to attendants
at court (2 Chr. 22:8), and to the priests and Levites (Jer.
33:21; Ezek. 44:11).
(2.) Heb. pelah (Ezra 7:24), a "minister" of religion. Here
used of that class of sanctuary servants called "Solomon's
servants" in Ezra 2:55-58 and Neh. 7:57-60.
(3.) Greek leitourgos, a subordinate public administrator, and
in this sense applied to magistrates (Rom. 13:6). It is applied
also to our Lord (Heb. 8:2), and to Paul in relation to Christ
(4.) Greek hyperetes (literally, "under-rower"), a personal
attendant on a superior, thus of the person who waited on the
officiating priest in the synagogue (Luke 4:20). It is applied
also to John Mark, the attendant on Paul and Barnabas (Acts
(5.) Greek diaconos, usually a subordinate officer or
assistant employed in relation to the ministry of the gospel, as
to Paul and Apollos (1 Cor. 3:5), Tychicus (Eph. 6:21), Epaphras
(Col. 1:7), Timothy (1 Thess. 3:2), and also to Christ (Rom.
mentioned in Isa. 6:2, 3, 6, 7. This word means fiery ones, in
allusion, as is supposed, to their burning love. They are
represented as "standing" above the King as he sat upon his
throne, ready at once to minister unto him. Their form appears
to have been human, with the addition of wings. (See ANGELS
T0000240.) This word, in the original, is used elsewhere only
of the "fiery serpents" (Num. 21:6, 8; Deut. 8:15; compare Isa.
14:29; 30:6) sent by God as his instruments to inflict on the
people the righteous penalty of sin.
Mercury, a Roman Christian (Rom. 16:14).
a Roman Christian saluted by Paul (Rom. 16:8).
a Roman Christian whom Paul salutes (Rom. 16:15).
reminding, or remembrancer, a Christian of Jerusalem with whom
Paul lodged (Acts 21:16). He was apparently a native of Cyprus,
like Barnabas (11:19, 20), and was well known to the Christians
of Caesarea (4:36). He was an "old disciple" (R.V., "early
disciple"), i.e., he had become a Christian in the beginning of
the formation of the Church in Jerusalem.
a Christian at Rome to whom Paul sent salutations (Rom. 16:14).
burning, a Roman Christian to whom Paul sent salutations (Rom.
a Christian at Rome to whom Paul sent his salutation (Rom.
second, a Christian of Thessalonica who accompanied Paul into
Asia (Acts 20:4).
a Christian at Rome whom Paul salutes and calls his "kinsman"
a Christian at Rome whom Paul salutes (Rom. 16:10), and styles
"approved in Christ."
(Rom. 16:7), a Christian at Rome to whom Paul sends salutations
along with Andronicus.
the name given by the Greeks or Romans, probably in reproach, to
the followers of Jesus. It was first used at Antioch. The names
by which the disciples were known among themselves were
"brethren," "the faithful," "elect," "saints," "believers." But
as distinguishing them from the multitude without, the name
"Christian" came into use, and was universally accepted. This
name occurs but three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26;
26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16).
fourth, a Corinthian Christian who sent by Paul his salutations
to friends at Rome (Rom. 16:23).
bashful, a Christian at Rome, who sent his greetings to Timothy
(2 Tim. 4:21). (See CLAUDIA T0000840.)
man-conquering, a Jewish Christian, the kinsman and
fellowprisoner of Paul (Rom. 16:7); "of note among the
increasing, a female Christian at Colosse (Philemon 1:2),
supposed by some to have been the wife of Philemon.
the third, a Roman Christian whom Paul employed as his
amanuensis in writing his epistle to the Romans (16:22).
a Christian woman at Rome to whom Paul sent his salutations
(Rom. 16:15), supposed to be the wife of Philologus.
used in Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:5; 10:1 to denote the typical relation
of the Jewish to the Christian dispensation.
increasing, probably one of the seventy disciples of Christ. He
was one of Paul's assistants (2 Tim. 4:10), probably a Christian
a female Christian at Rome whom Paul salutes (Rom. 16:12). She
is spoken of as "beloved," and as having "laboured much in the
fugitive, a Christian of Asia, who "turned away" from Paul
during his second imprisonment at Rome (2 Tim. 1:15). Nothing
more is known of him.
the elder brother of Seneca the philosopher, who was tutor and
for some time minister of the emperor Nero. He was "deputy",
i.e., proconsul, as in Revised Version, of Achaia, under the
emperor Claudius, when Paul visited Corinth (Acts 18:12). The
word used here by Luke in describing the rank of Gallio shows
his accuracy. Achaia was a senatorial province under Claudius,
and the governor of such a province was called a "proconsul." He
is spoken of by his contemporaries as "sweet Gallio," and is
described as a most popular and affectionate man. When the Jews
brought Paul before his tribunal on the charge of persuading
"men to worship God contrary to the law" (18:13), he refused to
listen to them, and "drave them from the judgment seat" (18:16).
verdure, a female Christian (1 Cor. 1:11), some of whose
household had informed Paul of the divided state of the
Corinthian church. Nothing is known of her.
the father who saves, probably the same as Sosipater, a kinsman
of Paul (Rom. 16:21), a Christian of the city of Berea who
accompanied Paul into Asia (Acts 20:4-6).
a female antelope, or gazelle, a pious Christian widow at Joppa
whom Peter restored to life (Acts 9:36-41). She was a
Hellenistic Jewess, called Tabitha by the Jews and Dorcas by the
of Cyrene, a Christian teacher at Antioch (Acts 13:1), and
Paul's kinsman (Rom. 16:21). His name is Latin, but his
birthplace seems to indicate that he was one of the Jews of
Cyrene, in North Africa.
one of the three main elements of Christian character (1 Cor.
13:13). It is joined to faith and love, and is opposed to seeing
or possessing (Rom. 8:24; 1 John 3:2). "Hope is an essential and
fundamental element of Christian life, so essential indeed,
that, like faith and love, it can itself designate the essence
of Christianity (1 Pet. 3:15; Heb. 10:23). In it the whole glory
of the Christian vocation is centred (Eph. 1:18; 4:4)."
Unbelievers are without this hope (Eph. 2:12; 1 Thess. 4:13).
Christ is the actual object of the believer's hope, because it
is in his second coming that the hope of glory will be fulfilled
(1 Tim. 1:1; Col. 1:27; Titus 2:13). It is spoken of as
"lively", i.e., a living, hope, a hope not frail and perishable,
but having a perennial life (1 Pet. 1:3). In Rom. 5:2 the "hope"
spoken of is probably objective, i.e., "the hope set before us,"
namely, eternal life (compare 12:12). In 1 John 3:3 the expression
"hope in him" ought rather to be, as in the Revised Version,
"hope on him," i.e., a hope based on God.
bringing profit, an Ephesian Christian who showed great kindness
to Paul at Rome. He served him in many things, and had oft
refreshed him. Paul expresses a warm interest in him and his
household (2 Tim. 1:16-18; 4:19).
Mercury, a Roman Christian to whom Paul sends greetings (Rom.
16: 14). Some suppose him to have been the author of the
celebrated religious romance called The Shepherd, but it is very
probable that that work is the production of a later generation.
only once, in Rev. 1:10, was in the early Christian ages used to
denote the first day of the week, which commemorated the Lord's
resurrection. There is every reason to conclude that John thus
used the name. (See SABBATH T0003170.)
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; compare 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."
(1 Cor. 13), the rendering in the Authorized Version of the word
which properly denotes love, and is frequently so rendered
(always so in the Revised Version). It is spoken of as the
greatest of the three Christian graces (1 Cor. 12:31-13:13).
an obligation of any kind (Num. 30:2, 4, 12). The word means
also oppression or affliction (Ps. 116:16; Phil. 1:7). Christian
love is the "bond of perfectness" (Col. 3:14), and the
influences of the Spirit are the "bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3).
God with us. In the Old Testament it occurs only in Isa. 7:14
and 8:8. Most Christian interpreters have regarded these words
as directly and exclusively a prophecy of our Saviour, an
interpretation borne out by the words of the evangelist Matthew
Rom. 16:1, 3, 12; Phil. 4:2, 3; 1 Tim. 3:11; 5:9, 10; Titus 2:3,
4). In these passages it is evident that females were then
engaged in various Christian ministrations. Pliny makes mention
of them also in his letter to Trajan (A.D. 110).
Not found in the Old Testament, but repeatedly in the New. The
Mosaic legislation (Lev. 25:35; Deut. 15:7) tended to promote a
spirit of charity, and to prevent the occurrence of destitution
among the people. Such passages as these, Ps. 41:1; 112:9; Prov.
14:31; Isa. 10:2; Amos 2:7; Jer. 5:28; Ezek. 22:29, would also
naturally foster the same benevolent spirit.
In the time of our Lord begging was common (Mark 10:46; Acts
3:2). The Pharisees were very ostentatious in their almsgivings
(Matt. 6:2). The spirit by which the Christian ought to be
actuated in this duty is set forth in 1 John 3:17. A regard to
the state of the poor and needy is enjoined as a Christian duty
(Luke 3:11; 6:30; Matt. 6:1; Acts 9:36; 10:2, 4), a duty which
was not neglected by the early Christians (Luke 14:13; Acts
20:35; Gal. 2:10; Rom. 15:25-27; 1 Cor. 16:1-4). They cared not
only for the poor among themselves, but contributed also to the
necessities of those at a distance (Acts 11:29; 24:17; 2 Cor.
9:12). Our Lord and his attendants showed an example also in
this (John 13:29).
In modern times the "poor-laws" have introduced an element
which modifies considerably the form in which we may discharge
this Christian duty.
is expressly forbidden (Titus 3:2; James 4:11), and severe
punishments are denounced against it (1 Cor. 5:11; 6:10). It is
spoken of also with abhorrence (Ps. 15:3; Prov. 18:6, 7), and is
foreign to the whole Christian character and the example of
imperfection or bodily deformity excluding men from the
priesthood, and rendering animals unfit to be offered in
sacrifice (Lev. 21:17-23; 22:19-25). The Christian church, as
justified in Christ, is "without blemish" (Eph. 5:27). Christ
offered himself a sacrifice "without blemish," acceptable to God
(1 Pet. 1:19).
a female Christian mentioned in 2 Tim. 4:21. It is a conjecture
having some probability that she was a British maiden, the
daughter of king Cogidunus, who was an ally of Rome, and assumed
the name of the emperor, his patron, Tiberius Claudius, and that
she was the wife of Pudens.
consoler, a Christian teacher at Antioch. Nothing else is known
of him beyond what is stated in Acts 13:1, where he is spoken of
as having been brought up with (Gr. syntrophos; rendered in R.V.
"foster brother" of) Herod, i.e., Herod Antipas, the tetrach,
who, with his brother Archelaus, was educated at Rome.
(an old name for the lime-tree, the tilia), Isa. 6:13, the
terebinth, or turpentine-tree, the Pistacia terebinthus of
botanists. The Hebrew word here used (elah) is rendered oak
(q.v.) in Gen. 35:4; Judg. 6:11, 19; Isa. 1:29, etc. In Isa.
61:3 it is rendered in the plural "trees;" Hos. 4:13, "elm"
(R.V., "terebinth"). Hos. 4:13, "elm" (R.V., "terebinth"). In 1
Sam. 17:2, 19 it is taken as a proper name, "Elah" (R.V. marg.,
"The terebinth of Mamre, or its lineal successor, remained
from the days of Abraham till the fourth century of the
Christian era, and on its site Constantine erected a Christian
church, the ruins of which still remain."
This tree "is seldom seen in clumps or groves, never in
forests, but stands isolated and weird-like in some bare ravine
or on a hill-side where nothing else towers above the low
commendable, a Christian at Rome to whom Paul sent his
salutation (Rom. 16:5). He is spoken of as "the first fruits of
Achaia" (R.V., "of Asia", i.e., of proconsular Asia, which is
probably the correct reading). As being the first convert in
that region, he was peculiarly dear to the apostle. He calls him
his "well beloved."
sacred city, a city of Phrygia, where was a Christian church
under the care of Epaphras (Col. 4:12, 13). This church was
founded at the same time as that of Colosse. It now bears the
name of Pambuk-Kalek, i.e., "Cotton Castle", from the white
appearance of the cliffs at the base of which the ruins are
an earnest temper; may be enlightened (Num. 25:11-13; 2 Cor.
7:11; 9:2), or ignorant and misdirected (Rom. 10:2; Phil. 3:6).
As a Christian grace, it must be grounded on right principles
and directed to right ends (Gal. 4:18). It is sometimes ascribed
to God (2 Kings 19:31; Isa. 9:7; 37:32; Ezek. 5:13).
Shechinah, a Chaldee word meaning resting-place, not found in Scripture,
but used by the later Jews to designate the visible symbol of
God's presence in the tabernacle, and afterwards in Solomon's
temple. When the Lord led Israel out of Egypt, he went before
them "in a pillar of a cloud." This was the symbol of his
presence with his people. For references made to it during the
wilderness wanderings, see Ex. 14:20; 40:34-38; Lev. 9:23, 24;
Num. 14:10; 16:19, 42.
It is probable that after the entrance into Canaan this
glory-cloud settled in the tabernacle upon the ark of the
covenant in the most holy place. We have, however, no special
reference to it till the consecration of the temple by Solomon,
when it filled the whole house with its glory, so that the
priests could not stand to minister (1 Kings 8:10-13; 2 Chr.
5:13, 14; 7:1-3). Probably it remained in the first temple in
the holy of holies as the symbol of Jehovah's presence so long
as that temple stood. It afterwards disappeared. (See CLOUD
favour, grace, one of the wives of Elkanah the Levite, and the
mother of Samuel (1 Sam. 1; 2). Her home was at
Ramathaim-zophim, whence she was wont every year to go to
Shiloh, where the tabernacle had been pitched by Joshua, to
attend the offering of sacrifices there according to the law
(Ex. 23:15; 34:18; Deut. 16:16), probably at the feast of the
Passover (compare Ex. 13:10). On occasion of one of these "yearly"
visits, being grieved by reason of Peninnah's conduct toward
her, she went forth alone, and kneeling before the Lord at the
sanctuary she prayed inaudibly. Eli the high priest, who sat at
the entrance to the holy place, observed her, and
misunderstanding her character he harshly condemned her conduct
(1 Sam. 1:14-16). After hearing her explanation he retracted his
injurious charge and said to her, "Go in peace: and the God of
Israel grant thee thy petition." Perhaps the story of the wife
of Manoah was not unknown to her. Thereafter Elkanah and his
family retired to their quiet home, and there, before another
Passover, Hannah gave birth to a son, whom, in grateful memory
of the Lord's goodness, she called Samuel, i.e., "heard of God."
After the child was weaned (probably in his third year) she
brought him to Shiloh into the house of the Lord, and said to
Eli the aged priest, "Oh my lord, I am the woman that stood by
thee here, praying unto the Lord. For this child I prayed; and
the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him:
therefore I also have granted him to the Lord; as long as he
liveth he is granted to the Lord" (1 Sam. 1:27, 28, R.V.). Her
gladness of heart then found vent in that remarkable prophetic
song (2:1-10; compare Luke 1:46-55) which contains the first
designation of the Messiah under that name (1 Sam. 2:10,
"Annointed" = "Messiah"). And so Samuel and his parents parted.
He was left at Shiloh to minister "before the Lord." And each
year, when they came up to Shiloh, Hannah brought to her absent
child "a little coat" (Heb. meil, a term used to denote the
"robe" of the ephod worn by the high priest, Ex. 28:31), a
priestly robe, a long upper tunic (1 Chr. 15:27), in which to
minister in the tabernacle (1 Sam. 2:19; 15:27; Job 2:12). "And
the child Samuel grew before the Lord." After Samuel, Hannah had
three sons and two daughters.
was not Christian baptism, nor was that which was practised by
the disciples previous to our Lord's crucifixion. Till then the
New Testament economy did not exist. John's baptism bound its
subjects to repentance, and not to the faith of Christ. It was
not administered in the name of the Trinity, and those whom John
baptized were rebaptized by Paul (Acts 18:24; 19:7).
used of children generally (Matt. 11:25; 21:16; Luke 10:21; Rom.
2:20). It is used also of those who are weak in Christian faith
and knowledge (1 Cor. 3:1; Heb. 5:13; 1 Pet. 2:2). In Isa. 3:4
the word "babes" refers to a succession of weak and wicked
princes who reigned over Judah from the death of Josiah downward
to the destruction of Jerusalem.
compassion for the miserable. Its object is misery. By the
atoning sacrifice of Christ a way is open for the exercise of
mercy towards the sons of men, in harmony with the demands of
truth and righteousness (Gen. 19:19; Ex. 20:6; 34:6, 7; Ps.
85:10; 86:15, 16). In Christ mercy and truth meet together.
Mercy is also a Christian grace (Matt. 5:7; 18:33-35).
Philemon, Epistle to
was written from Rome at the same time as the epistles to the
Colossians and Ephesians, and was sent also by Onesimus. It was
addressed to Philemon and the members of his family.
It was written for the purpose of interceding for Onesimus
(q.v.), who had deserted his master Philemon and been
"unprofitable" to him. Paul had found Onesimus at Rome, and had
there been instrumental in his conversion, and now he sends him
back to his master with this letter.
This epistle has the character of a strictly private letter,
and is the only one of such epistles preserved to us. "It
exhibits the apostle in a new light. He throws off as far as
possible his apostolic dignity and his fatherly authority over
his converts. He speaks simply as Christian to Christian. He
speaks, therefore, with that peculiar grace of humility and
courtesy which has, under the reign of Christianity, developed
the spirit of chivalry and what is called 'the character of a
gentleman,' certainly very little known in the old Greek and
Roman civilization" (Dr. Barry). (See SLAVE T0003458.)
Heb. ner, Job 18:6; 29:3; Ps. 18:28; Prov. 24:20, in all which
places the Revised Version and margin of Authorized Version have
"lamp," by which the word is elsewhere frequently rendered. The
Hebrew word denotes properly any kind of candle or lamp or
torch. It is used as a figure of conscience (Prov. 20:27), of a
Christian example (Matt. 5:14, 15), and of prosperity (Job
21:17; Prov. 13:9).
red, the son of Simon the Cyrenian (Mark 15:21), whom the Roman
soldiers compelled to carry the cross on which our Lord was
crucified. Probably it is the same person who is again mentioned
in Rom. 16:13 as a disciple at Rome, whose mother also was a
Christian held in esteem by the apostle. Mark mentions him along
with his brother Alexander as persons well known to his readers
lover of God, a Christian, probably a Roman, to whom Luke
dedicated both his Gospel (Luke 1:3) and the Acts of the
Apostles (1:1). Nothing beyond this is known of him. From the
fact that Luke applies to him the title "most excellent", the
same title Paul uses in addressing Felix (Acts 23:26; 24:3) and
Festus (26:25), it has been concluded that Theophilus was a
person of rank, perhaps a Roman officer.
Grace, means of
an expression not used in Scripture, but employed (1) to denote
those institutions ordained by God to be the ordinary channels
of grace to the souls of men. These are the Word, Sacraments,
(2.) But in popular language the expression is used in a wider
sense to denote those exercises in which we engage for the
purpose of obtaining spiritual blessing; as hearing the gospel,
reading the Word, meditation, self-examination, Christian
a province in Asia Minor, to the south of the Euxine and
Propontis. Christian congregations were here formed at an early
time (1 Pet. 1:1). Paul was prevented by the Spirit from
entering this province (Acts 16:7). It is noted in church
history as the province ruled over by Pliny as Roman proconsul,
who was perplexed as to the course he should take with the
numerous Christians brought before his tribunal on account of
their profession of Christianity and their conduct, and wrote to
Trajan, the emperor, for instructions (A.D. 107).
a centurion whose history is narrated in Acts 10. He was a
"devout man," and like the centurion of Capernaum, believed in
the God of Israel. His residence at Caesrea probably brought him
into contact with Jews who communicated to him their
expectations regarding the Messiah; and thus he was prepared to
welcome the message Peter brought him. He became the first fruit
of the Gentile world to Christ. He and his family were baptized
and admitted into the Christian church (Acts 10:1, 44-48). (See
the holy writings, a term which came early into use in the
Christian church to denote the third division of the Old
Testament scriptures, called by the Jews Kethubim, i.e.,
"Writings." It consisted of five books, viz., Job, Proverbs, and
Psalms, and the two books of Chronicles. The ancient Jews
classified their sacred books as the Law, the Prophets, and the
Kethubim, or Writings. (See BIBLE T0000580.)
In the New Testament (Luke 24:44) we find three corresponding
divisions, viz., the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.
John, Third Epistle of
is addressed to Caius, or Gaius, but whether to the Christian of
that name in Macedonia (Acts 19: 29) or in Corinth (Rom. 16:23)
or in Derbe (Acts 20:4) is uncertain. It was written for the
purpose of commending to Gaius some Christians who were
strangers in the place where he lived, and who had gone thither
for the purpose of preaching the gospel (ver. 7).
The Second and Third Epistles were probably written soon after
the First, and from Ephesus.
an inhabitant of Colosse, and apparently a person of some note
among the citizens (Col. 4:9; Philemon 1:2). He was brought to a
knowledge of the gospel through the instrumentality of Paul
(19), and held a prominent place in the Christian community for
his piety and beneficence (4-7). He is called in the epistle a
"fellow-labourer," and therefore probably held some office in
the church at Colosse; at all events, the title denotes that he
took part in the work of spreading a knowledge of the gospel.
The Israelites had to take possession of the Promised Land by
conquest. They had to engage in a long and bloody war before the
Canaanite tribes were finally subdued. Except in the case of
Jericho and Ai, the war did not become aggressive till after the
death of Joshua. Till then the attack was always first made by
the Canaanites. Now the measure of the iniquity of the
Canaanites was full, and Israel was employed by God to sweep
them away from off the face of the earth. In entering on this
new stage of the war, the tribe of Judah, according to divine
direction, took the lead.
In the days of Saul and David the people of Israel engaged in
many wars with the nations around, and after the division of the
kingdom into two they often warred with each other. They had to
defend themselves also against the inroads of the Egyptians, the
Assyrians, and the Babylonians. The whole history of Israel from
first to last presents but few periods of peace.
The Christian life is represented as a warfare, and the
Christian graces are also represented under the figure of pieces
of armour (Eph. 6:11-17; 1 Thess. 5:8; 2 Tim. 2:3, 4). The final
blessedness of believers is attained as the fruit of victory
John, Gospel of
The genuineness of this Gospel, i.e., the fact that the apostle
John was its author, is beyond all reasonable doubt. In recent
times, from about 1820, many attempts have been made to impugn
its genuineness, but without success.
The design of John in writing this Gospel is stated by himself
(John 20:31). It was at one time supposed that he wrote for the
purpose of supplying the omissions of the synoptical, i.e., of
the first three, Gospels, but there is no evidence for this.
"There is here no history of Jesus and his teaching after the
manner of the other evangelists. But there is in historical form
a representation of the Christian faith in relation to the
person of Christ as its central point; and in this
representation there is a picture on the one hand of the
antagonism of the world to the truth revealed in him, and on the
other of the spiritual blessedness of the few who yield
themselves to him as the Light of life" (Reuss).
After the prologue (1:1-5), the historical part of the book
begins with verse 6, and consists of two parts. The first part
(1:6-ch. 12) contains the history of our Lord's public ministry
from the time of his introduction to it by John the Baptist to
its close. The second part (ch. 13-21) presents our Lord in the
retirement of private life and in his intercourse with his
immediate followers (13-17), and gives an account of his
sufferings and of his appearances to the disciples after his
The peculiarities of this Gospel are the place it gives (1) to
the mystical relation of the Son to the Father, and (2) of the
Redeemer to believers; (3) the announcement of the Holy Ghost as
the Comforter; (4) the prominence given to love as an element in
the Christian character. It was obviously addressed primarily to
It was probably written at Ephesus, which, after the
destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), became the centre of
Christian life and activity in the East, about A.D. 90.
the evangelist, was a Gentile. The date and circumstances of his
conversion are unknown. According to his own statement (Luke
1:2), he was not an "eye-witness and minister of the word from
the beginning." It is probable that he was a physician in Troas,
and was there converted by Paul, to whom he attached himself. He
accompanied him to Philippi, but did not there share his
imprisonment, nor did he accompany him further after his release
in his missionary journey at this time (Acts 17:1). On Paul's
third visit to Philippi (20:5, 6) we again meet with Luke, who
probably had spent all the intervening time in that city, a
period of seven or eight years. From this time Luke was Paul's
constant companion during his journey to Jerusalem (20:6-21:18).
He again disappears from view during Paul's imprisonment at
Jerusalem and Caesarea, and only reappears when Paul sets out
for Rome (27:1), whither he accompanies him (28:2, 12-16), and
where he remains with him till the close of his first
imprisonment (Philemon 1:24; Col. 4:14). The last notice of the
"beloved physician" is in 2 Tim. 4:11.
There are many passages in Paul's epistles, as well as in the
writings of Luke, which show the extent and accuracy of his
mild, a Christian of Philippi, Paul's "fellow-labourer," whose
name he mentions as "in the book of life" (Phil. 4:3). It was an
opinion of ancient writers that he was the Clement of Rome whose
name is well known in church history, and that he was the author
of an Epistle to the Corinthians, the only known manuscript of
which is appended to the Alexandrian Codex, now in the British
Museum. It is of some historical interest, and has given rise to
much discussion among critics. It makes distinct reference to
Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians.
The dissolution of the marriage tie was regulated by the Mosaic
law (Deut. 24:1-4). The Jews, after the Captivity, were reguired
to dismiss the foreign women they had married contrary to the
law (Ezra 10:11-19). Christ limited the permission of divorce to
the single case of adultery. It seems that it was not uncommon
for the Jews at that time to dissolve the union on very slight
pretences (Matt. 5:31, 32; 19:1-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18).
These precepts given by Christ regulate the law of divorce in
the Christian Church.
(1.) Of form or person (Prov. 1:9; 3:22; Ps. 45:2). (2.) Favour,
kindness, friendship (Gen. 6:8; 18:3; 19:19; 2 Tim. 1:9). (3.)
God's forgiving mercy (Rom. 11:6; Eph. 2:5). (4.) The gospel as
distinguished from the law (John 1:17; Rom. 6:14; 1 Pet. 5:12).
(5.) Gifts freely bestowed by God; as miracles, prophecy,
tongues (Rom. 15:15; 1 Cor. 15:10; Eph. 3:8). (6.) Christian
virtues (2 Cor. 8:7; 2 Pet. 3:18). (7.) The glory hereafter to
be revealed (1 Pet. 1:13).
the name given to the only form of prayer Christ taught his
disciples (Matt. 6:9-13). The closing doxology of the prayer is
omitted by Luke (11:2-4), also in the R.V. of Matt. 6:13. This
prayer contains no allusion to the atonement of Christ, nor to
the offices of the Holy Spirit. "All Christian prayer is based
on the Lord's Prayer, but its spirit is also guided by that of
His prayer in Gethsemane and of the prayer recorded John 17. The
Lord's Prayer is the comprehensive type of the simplest and most
the turning of a sinner to God (Acts 15:3). In a general sense
the heathen are said to be "converted" when they abandon
heathenism and embrace the Christian faith; and in a more
special sense men are converted when, by the influence of divine
grace in their souls, their whole life is changed, old things
pass away, and all things become new (Acts 26:18). Thus we speak
of the conversion of the Philippian jailer (16:19-34), of Paul
(9:1-22), of the Ethiopian treasurer (8:26-40), of Cornelius
(10), of Lydia (16:13-15), and others. (See REGENERATION
(Gr. oikonomia, "management," "economy"). (1.) The method or
scheme according to which God carries out his purposes towards
men is called a dispensation. There are usually reckoned three
dispensations, the Patriarchal, the Mosaic or Jewish, and the
Christian. (See COVENANT T0000916, Administration of.) These
were so many stages in God's unfolding of his purpose of grace
toward men. The word is not found with this meaning in
(2.) A commission to preach the gospel (1 Cor. 9:17; Eph.
1:10; 3:2; Col. 1:25).
Dispensations of Providence are providential events which
affect men either in the way of mercy or of judgement.
(1.) Another name for Joseph, surnamed Barsabas. He and Matthias
are mentioned only in Acts 1:23. "They must have been among the
earliest disciples of Jesus, and must have been faithful to the
end; they must have been well known and esteemed among the
brethren. What became of them afterwards, and what work they
did, are entirely unknown" (Lindsay's Acts of the Apostles).
(2.) A Jewish proselyte at Corinth, in whose house, next door
to the synagogue, Paul held meetings and preached after he left
the synagogue (Acts 18:7).
(3.) A Jewish Christian, called Jesus, Paul's only
fellow-labourer at Rome, where he wrote his Epistle to the
Colossians (Col. 4:11).
(1.) In Syria, on the river Orontes, about 16 miles from the
Mediterranean, and some 300 miles north of Jerusalem. It was the
metropolis of Syria, and afterwards became the capital of the
Roman province in Asia. It ranked third, after Rome and
Alexandria, in point of importance, of the cities of the Roman
empire. It was called the "first city of the East." Christianity
was early introduced into it (Acts 11:19, 21, 24), and the name
"Christian" was first applied here to its professors (Acts
11:26). It is intimately connected with the early history of the
gospel (Acts 6:5; 11:19, 27, 28, 30; 12:25; 15:22-35; Gal. 2:11,
12). It was the great central point whence missionaries to the
Gentiles were sent forth. It was the birthplace of the famous
Christian father Chrysostom, who died A.D. 407. It bears the
modern name of Antakia, and is now a miserable, decaying Turkish
town. Like Philippi, it was raised to the rank of a Roman
colony. Such colonies were ruled by "praetors" (R.V. marg., Acts
(2.) In the extreme north of Pisidia; was visited by Paul and
Barnabas on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:14). Here they
found a synagogue and many proselytes. They met with great
success in preaching the gospel, but the Jews stirred up a
violent opposition against them, and they were obliged to leave
the place. On his return, Paul again visited Antioch for the
purpose of confirming the disciples (Acts 14:21). It has been
identified with the modern Yalobatch, lying to the east of
(1.) A silversmith at Ephesus, whose chief occupation was to
make "silver shrines for Diana" (q.v.), Acts 19:24,i.e., models
either of the temple of Diana or of the statue of the goddess.
This trade brought to him and his fellow-craftsmen "no small
gain," for these shrines found a ready sale among the countless
thousands who came to this temple from all parts of Asia Minor.
This traffic was greatly endangered by the progress of the
gospel, and hence Demetrius excited the tradesmen employed in
the manufacture of these shrines, and caused so great a tumult
that "the whole city was filled with confusion."
(2.) A Christian who is spoken of as having "a good report of
all men, and of the truth itself" (3 John 1:12).
a prominent Christian grace (Rom. 12:3; 15:17, 18; 1 Cor. 3:5-7;
2 Cor. 3:5; Phil. 4:11-13). It is a state of mind well pleasing
to God (1 Pet. 3:4); it preserves the soul in tranquillity (Ps.
69:32, 33), and makes us patient under trials (Job 1:22).
Christ has set us an example of humility (Phil. 2:6-8). We
should be led thereto by a remembrance of our sins (Lam. 3:39),
and by the thought that it is the way to honour (Prov. 16:18),
and that the greatest promises are made to the humble (Ps.
147:6; Isa. 57:15; 66:2; 1 Pet. 5:5). It is a "great paradox in
Christianity that it makes humility the avenue to glory."
a common Jewish name, the same as Hananiah. (1.) One of the
members of the church at Jerusalem, who conspired with his wife
Sapphira to deceive the brethren, and who fell down and
immediately expired after he had uttered the falsehood (Acts
5:5). By common agreement the members of the early Christian
community devoted their property to the work of furthering the
gospel and of assisting the poor and needy. The proceeds of the
possessions they sold were placed at the disposal of the
apostles (Acts 4:36, 37). Ananias might have kept his property
had he so chosen; but he professed agreement with the brethren
in the common purpose, and had of his own accord devoted it all,
as he said, to these sacred ends. Yet he retained a part of it
for his own ends, and thus lied in declaring that he had given
it all. "The offence of Ananias and Sapphira showed contempt of
God, vanity and ambition in the offenders, and utter disregard
of the corruption which they were bringing into the society.
Such sin, committed in despite of the light which they
possessed, called for a special mark of divine indignation."
(2.) A Christian at Damascus (Acts 9:10). He became Paul's
instructor; but when or by what means he himself became a
Christian we have no information. He was "a devout man according
to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt" at
(3.) The high priest before whom Paul was brought in the
procuratorship of Felix (Acts 23:2, 5, 24). He was so enraged at
Paul's noble declaration, "I have lived in all good conscience
before God until this day," that he commanded one of his
attendants to smite him on the mouth. Smarting under this
unprovoked insult, Paul quickly replied, "God shall smite thee,
thou whited wall." Being reminded that Ananias was the high
priest, to whose office all respect was to be paid, he answered,
"I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest" (Acts 23:5).
This expression has occasioned some difficulty, as it is
scarcely probable that Paul should have been ignorant of so
public a fact. The expression may mean (a) that Paul had at the
moment overlooked the honour due to the high priest; or (b), as
others think, that Paul spoke ironically, as if he had said,
"The high priest breaking the law! God's high priest a tyrant
and a lawbreaker! I see a man in white robes, and have heard his
voice, but surely it cannot, it ought not to be, the voice of
the high priest." (See Dr. Lindsay on Acts, "in loco".) (c)
Others think that from defect of sight Paul could not observe
that the speaker was the high priest. In all this, however, it
may be explained, Paul, with all his excellency, comes short of
the example of his divine Master, who, when he was reviled,
reviled not again.
the evangelist; "John whose surname was Mark" (Acts 12:12, 25).
Mark (Marcus, Col. 4:10, etc.) was his Roman name, which
gradually came to supersede his Jewish name John. He is called
John in Acts 13:5, 13, and Mark in 15:39, 2 Tim. 4:11, etc.
He was the son of Mary, a woman apparently of some means and
influence, and was probably born in Jerusalem, where his mother
resided (Acts 12:12). Of his father we know nothing. He was
cousin of Barnabas (Col. 4:10). It was in his mother's house
that Peter found "many gathered together praying" when he was
released from prison; and it is probable that it was here that
he was converted by Peter, who calls him his "son" (1 Pet.
5:13). It is probable that the "young man" spoken of in Mark
14:51, 52 was Mark himself. He is first mentioned in Acts 12:25.
He went with Paul and Barnabas on their first journey (about
A.D. 47) as their "minister," but from some cause turned back
when they reached Perga in Pamphylia (Acts 12:25; 13:13). Three
years afterwards a "sharp contention" arose between Paul and
Barnabas (15:36-40), because Paul would not take Mark with him.
He, however, was evidently at length reconciled to the apostle,
for he was with him in his first imprisonment at Rome (Col.
4:10; Philemon 1:24). At a later period he was with Peter in
Babylon (1 Pet. 5:13), then, and for some centuries afterwards,
one of the chief seats of Jewish learning; and he was with
Timothy in Ephesus when Paul wrote him during his second
imprisonment (2 Tim. 4:11). He then disappears from view.
Nativity of Christ
The birth of our Lord took place at the time and place predicted
by the prophets (Gen. 49:10; Isa. 7:14; Jer. 31:15; Micah 5:2;
Hag. 2:6-9; Dan. 9:24, 25). Joseph and Mary were providentially
led to go up to Bethlehem at this period, and there Christ was
born (Matt. 2:1, 6; Luke 2:1, 7). The exact year or month or day
of his birth cannot, however, now be exactly ascertained. We
know, however, that it took place in the "fulness of the time"
(Gal. 4:4), i.e., at the fittest time in the world's history.
Chronologists are now generally agreed that the year 4 before
the Christian era was the year of Christ's nativity, and
consequently that he was about four years old in the year 1 A.D.
one of the seven deacons, who became a preacher of the gospel.
He was the first Christian martyr. His personal character and
history are recorded in Acts 6. "He fell asleep" with a prayer
for his persecutors on his lips (7:60). Devout men carried him
to his grave (8:2).
It was at the feet of the young Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, that
those who stoned him laid their clothes (compare Deut. 17:5-7)
before they began their cruel work. The scene which Saul then
witnessed and the words he heard appear to have made a deep and
lasting impression on his mind (Acts 22:19, 20).
The speech of Stephen before the Jewish ruler is the first
apology for the universalism of the gospel as a message to the
Gentiles as well as the Jews. It is the longest speech contained
in the Acts, a place of prominence being given to it as a
The central fact of Christian preaching was the intelligence
that the Saviour had come into the world (Matt. 4:23; Rom.
10:15); and the first Christian preachers who called their
account of the person and mission of Christ by the term
"evangelion" (= good message) were called "evangelistai" (=
evangelists) (Eph. 4:11; Acts 21:8).
There are four historical accounts of the person and work of
Christ: "the first by Matthew, announcing the Redeemer as the
promised King of the kingdom of God; the second by Mark,
declaring him 'a prophet, mighty in deed and word'; the third by
Luke, of whom it might be said that he represents Christ in the
special character of the Saviour of sinners (Luke 7:36; 15:18);
the fourth by John, who represents Christ as the Son of God, in
whom deity and humanity become one. The ancient Church gave to
Matthew the symbol of the lion, to Mark that of a man, to Luke
that of the ox, and to John that of the eagle: these were the
four faces of the cherubim" (Ezek. 1:10).
Date. The Gospels were all composed during the latter part of
the first century, and there is distinct historical evidence to
show that they were used and accepted as authentic before the
end of the second century.
Mutual relation. "If the extent of all the coincidences be
represented by 100, their proportionate distribution will be:
Matthew, Mark, and Luke, 53; Matthew and Luke, 21; Matthew and
Mark, 20; Mark and Luke, 6. Looking only at the general result,
it may be said that of the contents of the synoptic Gospels
[i.e., the first three Gospels] about two-fifths are common to
the three, and that the parts peculiar to one or other of them
are little more than one-third of the whole."
Origin. Did the evangelists copy from one another? The opinion
is well founded that the Gospels were published by the apostles
orally before they were committed to writing, and that each had
an independent origin. (See MATTHEW, GOSPEL OF T0002443.)
the queen of Ahasuerus, and heroine of the book that bears her
name. She was a Jewess named Hadas'sah (the myrtle), but when
she entered the royal harem she received the name by which she
henceforth became known (Esther 2:7). It is a Syro-Arabian
modification of the Persian word satarah, which means a star.
She was the daughter of Abihail, a Benjamite. Her family did not
avail themselves of the permission granted by Cyrus to the
exiles to return to Jerusalem; and she resided with her cousin
Mordecai, who held some office in the household of the Persian
king at "Shushan in the palace." Ahasuerus having divorced
Vashti, chose Esther to be his wife. Soon after this he gave
Haman the Agagite, his prime minister, power and authority to
kill and extirpate all the Jews throughout the Persian empire.
By the interposition of Esther this terrible catastrophe was
averted. Haman was hanged on the gallows he had intended for
Mordecai (Esther 7); and the Jews established an annual feast,
the feast of Purim (q.v.), in memory of their wonderful
deliverance. This took place about fifty-two years after the
Return, the year of the great battles of Plataea and Mycale
Esther appears in the Bible as a "woman of deep piety, faith,
courage, patriotism, and caution, combined with resolution; a
dutiful daughter to her adopted father, docile and obedient to
his counsels, and anxious to share the king's favour with him
for the good of the Jewish people. There must have been a
singular grace and charm in her aspect and manners, since 'she
obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her'
(Esther 2:15). That she was raised up as an instrument in the
hand of God to avert the destruction of the Jewish people, and
to afford them protection and forward their wealth and peace in
their captivity, is also manifest from the Scripture account."
in Rom. 13:2, means "condemnation," which comes on those who
withstand God's ordinance of magistracy. This sentence of
condemnation comes not from the magistrate, but from God, whose
authority is thus resisted.
In 1 Cor. 11:29 (R.V., "judgment") this word means
condemnation, in the sense of exposure to severe temporal
judgements from God, as the following verse explains.
In Rom. 14:23 the word "damned" means "condemned" by one's own
conscience, as well as by the Word of God. The apostle shows
here that many things which are lawful are not expedient; and
that in using our Christian liberty the question should not
simply be, Is this course I follow lawful? but also, Can I
follow it without doing injury to the spiritual interests of a
brother in Christ? He that "doubteth", i.e., is not clear in his
conscience as to "meats", will violate his conscience "if he
eat," and in eating is condemned; and thus one ought not so to
use his liberty as to lead one who is "weak" to bring upon
himself this condemnation.
(2 Kings 18:26; Ezra 4:7; Dan. 2:4), more correctly rendered
"Aramaic," including both the Syriac and the Chaldee languages.
In the New Testament there are several Syriac words, such as
"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" (Mark 15:34; Matt. 27:46 gives
the Heb. form, "Eli, Eli"), "Raca" (Matt. 5:22), "Ephphatha"
(Mark 7:34), "Maran-atha" (1 Cor. 16:22).
A Syriac version of the Old Testament, containing all the
canonical books, along with some apocryphal books (called the
Peshitto, i.e., simple translation, and not a paraphrase), was
made early in the second century, and is therefore the first
Christian translation of the Old Testament. It was made directly
from the original, and not from the LXX. Version. The New
Testament was also translated from Greek into Syriac about the
same time. It is noticeable that this version does not contain
the Second and Third Epistles of John, 2 Peter, Jude, and the
Apocalypse. These were, however, translated subsequently and
placed in the version. (See VERSION T0003768.)
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.
hidden, spurious, the name given to certain ancient books which
found a place in the LXX. and Latin Vulgate versions of the Old
Testament, and were appended to all the great translations made
from them in the sixteenth century, but which have no claim to
be regarded as in any sense parts of the inspired Word.
(1.) They are not once quoted by the New Testament writers,
who frequently quote from the LXX. Our Lord and his apostles
confirmed by their authority the ordinary Jewish canon, which
was the same in all respects as we now have it.
(2.) These books were written not in Hebrew but in Greek, and
during the "period of silence," from the time of Malachi, after
which oracles and direct revelations from God ceased till the
(3.) The contents of the books themselves show that they were
no part of Scripture. The Old Testament Apocrypha consists of
fourteen books, the chief of which are the Books of the
Maccabees (q.v.), the Books of Esdras, the Book of Wisdom, the
Book of Baruch, the Book of Esther, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit,
The New Testament Apocrypha consists of a very extensive
literature, which bears distinct evidences of its non-apostolic
origin, and is utterly unworthy of regard.
i.e., "fiftieth", found only in the New Testament (Acts 2:1;
20:16; 1 Cor. 16:8). The festival so named is first spoken of in
Ex. 23:16 as "the feast of harvest," and again in Ex. 34:22 as
"the day of the firstfruits" (Num. 28:26). From the sixteenth of
the month of Nisan (the second day of the Passover), seven
complete weeks, i.e., forty-nine days, were to be reckoned, and
this feast was held on the fiftieth day. The manner in which it
was to be kept is described in Lev. 23:15-19; Num. 28:27-29.
Besides the sacrifices prescribed for the occasion, every one
was to bring to the Lord his "tribute of a free-will offering"
(Deut. 16:9-11). The purpose of this feast was to commemorate
the completion of the grain harvest. Its distinguishing feature
was the offering of "two leavened loaves" made from the new corn
of the completed harvest, which, with two lambs, were waved
before the Lord as a thank offering.
The day of Pentecost is noted in the Christian Church as the
day on which the Spirit descended upon the apostles, and on
which, under Peter's preaching, so many thousands were converted
in Jerusalem (Acts 2).
Peter, Second Epistle of
The question of the authenticity of this epistle has been much
discussed, but the weight of evidence is wholly in favour of its
claim to be the production of the apostle whose name it bears.
It appears to have been written shortly before the apostle's
death (1:14). This epistle contains eleven references to the Old
Testament. It also contains (3:15, 16) a remarkable reference to
Paul's epistles. Some think this reference is to 1 Thess.
4:13-5:11. A few years ago, among other documents, a parchment
fragment, called the "Gospel of Peter," was discovered in a
Christian tomb at Akhmim in Upper Egypt. Origen (obiit A.D.
254), Eusebius (obiit 340), and Jerome (obiit 420) refer to such
a work, and hence it has been concluded that it was probably
written about the middle of the second century. It professes to
give a history of our Lord's resurrection and ascension. While
differing in not a few particulars from the canonical Gospels,
the writer shows plainly that he was acquinted both with the
synoptics and with the Gospel of John. Though apocryphal, it is
of considerable value as showing that the main facts of the
history of our Lord were then widely known.
Anglicized form of the Greek word diaconos, meaning a "runner,"
"messenger," "servant." For a long period a feeling of mutual
jealousy had existed between the "Hebrews," or Jews proper, who
spoke the sacred language of palestine, and the "Hellenists," or
Jews of the Grecian speech, who had adopted the Grecian
language, and read the Septuagint version of the Bible instead
of the Hebrew. This jealousy early appeared in the Christian
community. It was alleged by the Hellenists that their widows
were overlooked in the daily distribution of alms. This spirit
must be checked. The apostles accordingly advised the disciples
to look out for seven men of good report, full of the Holy
Ghost, and men of practical wisdom, who should take entire
charge of this distribution, leaving them free to devote
themselves entirely to the spiritual functions of their office
(Acts 6:1-6). This was accordingly done. Seven men were chosen,
who appear from their names to have been Hellenists. The name
"deacon" is nowhere applied to them in the New Testament; they
are simply called "the seven" (21:8). Their office was at first
secular, but it afterwards became also spiritual; for among
other qualifications they must also be "apt to teach" (1 Tim. 3:
8-12). Both Philip and Stephen, who were of "the seven,"
preached; they did "the work of evangelists."
The first great persecution for religious opinion of which we
have any record was that which broke out against the worshippers
of God among the Jews in the days of Ahab, when that king, at
the instigation of his wife Jezebel, "a woman in whom, with the
reckless and licentious habits of an Oriental queen, were united
the fiercest and sternest qualities inherent in the old Semitic
race", sought in the most relentless manner to extirpate the
worship of Jehovah and substitute in its place the worship of
Ashtoreth and Baal. Ahab's example in this respect was followed
by Manasseh, who "shed innocent blood very much, till he had
filled Jerusalem from one end to another" (2 Kings 21:16; compare
24:4). In all ages, in one form or another, the people of God
have had to suffer persecution. In its earliest history the
Christian church passed through many bloody persecutions. Of
subsequent centuries in our own and in other lands the same sad
record may be made.
Christians are forbidden to seek the propagation of the gospel
by force (Matt. 7:1; Luke 9:54-56; Rom. 14:4; James 4:11, 12).
The words of Ps. 7:13, "He ordaineth his arrows against the
persecutors," ought rather to be, as in the Revised Version, "He
maketh his arrows fiery [shafts]."
The Heb. kohen, Gr. hierus, Lat. sacerdos, always denote one who
At first every man was his own priest, and presented his own
sacrifices before God. Afterwards that office devolved on the
head of the family, as in the cases of Noah (Gen. 8:20), Abraham
(12:7; 13:4), Isaac (26:25), Jacob (31:54), and Job (Job 1:5).
The name first occurs as applied to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18).
Under the Levitical arrangements the office of the priesthood
was limited to the tribe of Levi, and to only one family of that
tribe, the family of Aaron. Certain laws respecting the
qualifications of priests are given in Lev. 21:16-23. There are
ordinances also regarding the priests' dress (Ex. 28:40-43) and
the manner of their consecration to the office (29:1-37).
Their duties were manifold (Ex. 27:20, 21; 29:38-44; Lev.
6:12; 10:11; 24:8; Num. 10:1-10; Deut. 17:8-13; 33:10; Mal.
2:7). They represented the people before God, and offered the
various sacrifices prescribed in the law.
In the time of David the priests were divided into twenty-four
courses or classes (1 Chr. 24:7-18). This number was retained
after the Captivity (Ezra 2:36-39; Neh. 7:39-42).
"The priests were not distributed over the country, but lived
together in certain cities [forty-eight in number, of which six
were cities of refuge, q.v.], which had been assigned to their
use. From thence they went up by turns to minister in the temple
at Jerusalem. Thus the religious instruction of the people in
the country generally was left to the heads of families, until
the establishment of synagogues, an event which did not take
place till the return from the Captivity, and which was the main
source of the freedom from idolatry that became as marked a
feature of the Jewish people thenceforward as its practice had
been hitherto their great national sin."
The whole priestly system of the Jews was typical. It was a
shadow of which the body is Christ. The priests all prefigured
the great Priest who offered "one sacrifice for sins" "once for
all" (Heb. 10:10, 12). There is now no human priesthood. (See
Epistle to the Hebrews throughout.) The term "priest" is indeed
applied to believers (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6), but in these cases
it implies no sacerdotal functions. All true believers are now
"kings and priests unto God." As priests they have free access
into the holiest of all, and offer up the sacrifices of praise
and thanksgiving, and the sacrifices of grateful service from
day to day.
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; compare 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).