« EelmineJätka »
fame epistle, and speaking also of the very fame event, he is content to use a language of fome doubt and uncertainty : “ Him “ therefore I hope to send presently, so foon “ as I shall see how it will go with me; but
I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall “ come shortly.” And a few verses preceding these, he not only seems to doubt of his safety, but almost to despair ; to contemplate the possibility at least of his condemnation and martyrdom: “ Yea, and if “I be offered upon the sacrifice and service “ of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you 66 all.”
But can we show that St. Paul visited Ephesus after his liberation at Rome? or rather, can we collect any hints from his other letters which make it probable that he did ? If we can, then we have a coincidence. If we cannot, we have only an unauthorized supposition, to which the exigency of the case compels us to resort. Now, for this purpose, let us examine the epistle to the Philippians and the epistle to Philemon.
These two epistles purport to be written whilst St. Paul was yet a prisoner at Rome. To the Philippians he writes as follows: " I trust in the Lord that I also myself 6 shall come shortly." To Philemon, who was a Colossian, he gives this direction : “ But withal, prepare me also a lodging, “ for I trust that through your prayers I “ shall be given unto you.” An inspection of the
will show us that Coloffe was a city of the Lesler Asia, lying eastward, and at no great distance from Ephesus. Philippi was on the other, i. e. the western side of the Ægean sea. If the apostle executed his purpose ; if, in pursuance of the intention expressed in his letter to Philemon, he came to Coloffe soon after he was set at liberty at Rome, it is very improbable that he would omit to visit Ephesus, which lay so near to it, and where he had spent three years of his ministry. As he was also under a promise to the church of Philippi to see them
shortly;" if he passed from Colosse to Philippi, or from Philippi to Coloffe, he could hardly avoid taking Ephesus in his way.
Chap. v. ver. 9.
“Let not a widow be “ taken into the number under threescore years
old.” This accords with the account delivered in the sixth chapter of the Acts. “ And in " those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a mur
muring of the Grecians against the He“ brews, because their widows were negle&ted “ in the daily ministration.” It appears
that from the first formation of the Christian church, provision was made out of the public funds of the fociety for the indigent widows who belonged to it. The history, we have seen, distinctly records the existence of such an institution at Jerusalem, å few years after our Lord's ascension; and is led to the mention of it very incidentally, viz. by a dispute, of which it was the occafion, and which produced important consequences to the Christian community. The epistle, without being suspected of borrowing from the history, refers, briefly indeed,
but decisively, to a similar establishment, subsisting some years afterwards at Ephesus. This agreemeut indicates that both writings were founded upon real circumstances.
But, in this article, the material thing to be noticed is the mode of expression : 66 Let not a widow be taken into the num« ber.” No previous account or explanation is given, to which these words, “ into " the number," can refer; but the direction comes concisely and unpreparedly. “ Let 6 not a widow be taken into the number." Now this is the way in which a man writes, who is conscious that he is writing to persons already acquainted with the subject of his letter; and who, he knows, will readily apprehend and apply what he says by virtue of their being so acquainted; but it is
in which a man writes upon any other occasion; and least of all, in which a man would draw up a feigned letter, or introduce a suppositious fact*.
* It is not altogether unconnected with our general purpose to remark, in the passage before us, the selection and reserve which St. Paul recommends to the go
Chap. iii. ver. 2, 3. “ A bishop must be - blameless, the husband of one wife, vigi
vernors of the church of Ephesus, in the bestowing relief upon the poor, because it refutes a calumny which has been insinuated, that the liberality of the first Christians was an artifice to catch converts ; or one of the temptations, however, by which the idle and mendicant were drawn into this society: " Let not a widow “ be taken into the number under threescore years old,
having been the wife of one man, well reported of for “ her good works ; if she have brought up children, if " she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the “ faints' feet; if she have relieved the amicted, if she have “ diligently followed every good work!, but the younger “ widows refuse" (v. 9, 10, 11). And, in another place, “ If any man or woman that believeth have wi
dows, let them relieve them, and let not the church « be charged, that it may relieve them that are widows « indeed.” And to the same effect, or rather more to our present purpose, the apostle writes in his second epistle to the Thessalonians: “ Even when we were “ with you, this we commanded you, that if any would “not work, neither let him eat," i. e. at the public expence? “ for we hear that there are some which walk
among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busy« bodies ; now then that are such, we command and " exhort, by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness