The Destination of the Epistle to the Ephesians

TS the common designation of this Epistle correct or not?

We are accustomed to style it an 'Epistle to the Ephesians.' But was it really addressed to the Christians of Ephesus, either solely or primarily? This is not merely a curious question of criticism, devoid of any ulterior interest. It has a very direct bearing on the genuineness of the letter, and it is intimately connected also with the scope and purpose of the writer.

Many facts converge from various quarters, which suggest an answer unfavourable to the commonly received title of this Epistle.

1. In the first place it is quite clear that in the early ages of the Church a very large number of copies were in circulation, in which the words 'in Ephesus' were omitted from the opening verse.

(i) Origen [f A.D. 253], whose commentary on this Epistle must have been written during the second quarter of the third century, speaks in such a way as to show not only that they were absent from the text which he himself used, but that he was unaware of their existence in any copies of the Epistle within his reach. His words are as follows:

"In the case of the Ephesians alone have I found the expression 'to the saints that are,' and I am led to ask, unless the clause 'that are' is superfluous, what can be meant by it? May it not be then, that as in Exodus He who speaks to Moses declares His name to be 'He that is' (or 'Hue Absolute Being'), so also they who partake of the Absolute Being, themselves become existent, when they are called as it were from not being into being: for, says the same Paul,' God chose out the things thai are )wt, that they might bring to nought the things that are,' etc.1"

The inference from this passage is inevitable. In the first place, the interpretation itself tells its own tale. No one, seeing the words iv 'E<f>ea<p immediately following, would have thought of separating them from the preceding Tok ovaiv, thus abandoning the obvious construction of the passage and having recourse to a highly strained and unnatural explanation. In the second place, Origen could not possibly have said that this statement is made of the Ephesians alone, if he had read the words as they stand in the common texts. In this case he would have found several parallels in the Epistles of St Paul. He would have found the Apostle, for instance, addressing 'all that are in Rome,' 'the Church of God that is in Corinth,''all the saints that are in the whole of Achaia,''all the saints in Christ Jesus that are in PhilippiV

1 Origen, 'Eirl nbvuv 'E<pealuv tOpofiev oomp. Clem. Alex. Strom, vi. 16, p.

Kelfievov To Tois dyioTs roTt ovov xai 807 Potter, 5Yi piv iepa ii SeKds, rapi\

fijrovnev, el fiij irapi\Kei irpooKelfievov To \iyetv To. Vvv. There is an allusion

Tots d'/iois roTt ovai, rl Sivarai <njfiaivetr. to these words of Origen in the scholia

Spa ovv el nit axrrtp i v r% 'EfoJV ovopxi of Matthsei, 'tipiyivris <is irl 'Etpcaluv

<prialr iavrip 6 -xp^fiarlfaiv Muo-« To Civ, Kelpxvov rapi\Kov oterai, where the writer

ovrus ol fiere\ovret roO Ovtos ylvovrai perhaps misunderstands and certainly

oVo, Ka\ovfievoi oiovel ex Too /iij eXvai obscures Origen's meaning. The refer

els To elvac i(c\itaro yip i Of is To pJ) ence is given in Besche Comm. Crit.

Srra, tprialv i aMs IIoOXos, fro Ta Sura p. 104 note.

Karapyfav K.t.\. Should the position * Bom. i. 7 irasnv Toi S ovatv ev 'Pufi.y,

of To be altered, itpooKelpxvov rots aytdis 1 Cor. i. 2 rjj iiat\tiala Too OeoO 77?

Ta roif ovo-i? At all events Origen's oto-n iv KoplvBip, 2 Cor. i. 1 Toij iyloit

But indeed the fact that the words 'in Ephesus' are wanting in some very early copies leaves no doubt upon this point .

meaning seems to be 'unless Tots ovat rao-iv rots oUatv iv S\-g Tj} 'Ax<tia, Phil.

attached to Tots ayiois is redundant or i. 1 rao-iv rois iylois iv Xpiary 'Irjoov

superfluous.' For this sense of jraoA- Tois oCo-tc iv 4>iXfinro<s. KCt, which is common in late writers,

The importance of this notice will be felt when it is remembered that Origen was the most learned and enquiring of the fathers in all matters relating to the text of the Scriptures. To him it was a subject of special study.

(ii) From the third century we pass to the fourth, from Origen to Basil [t A.d. 379]. The testimony of this father runs thus:

"Moreover, when writing to the Ephesians, as men truly united with the Absolute Being through perfect knowledge, he uses a peculiar expression and styles them 'being! saying 'to the saints that are and faithful in Christ Jesus' For so we learn from the statements of previous writers; and we ourselves have found (this reading) in those copies which are ancient1."

Here it will be observed that Basil repeats the interpretation of Origen, of whom he was a diligent student and to whom doubtless he was indebted in this instance. When therefore he appeals to 'the statements of previous writers,' he cannot be considered to add anything to the testimony of the Alexandrian father. But the information, which he adds respecting the copies extant in his own day, is highly important. He does not say that the words were wanting in some old copies, or in many old copies; but his statement is absolute. He is not even content with saying ' in the old copies' (iv tot? 7roXatot? dvriypaxfrois); but he expresses himself still more strongly ' in those copies which are old' (iv rol? TraXaiois Twv dvriypd<f>tov). Thus it appears that, while in the first half of the third century Origen (if we may draw the inference from his silence) was not acquainted with any manuscript which contained the words, Basil, writing more than a century later, found them in some copies, but these were all recent.

1 Basil contr. Eun. ii. 19 (ed. Garn. ilaatv, elriiv' Tou ayiois rois ouai Kox

I. p. 254) aWa xal Tois 'E<peaiois iri- irurrois iv Xpump 'Ir/aov. oOru yip mi oi

ariWiav Uis yvrplus iivuiUvois T$ Ovti Si' irpA rifuZv irapa&e&JiKaai, xal vp-th iv Toi S

iriyvilxreus, Svrai airroi's l&tafbvrtos uvi- ira\aioh Tuv iLmypAtpuv tip^Kafiev.

(iii) The statements of these two fathers are in strict accordance with the phenomena exhibited by extant documents. Two Greek MSS. and two only, which contain this Epistle, have any claim to be dated as far back as the fourth century (they may not improbably be assigned to the earlier decades, at least to the first half of this century); and in both these the words 'in Ephesus' are wanting. In the Codex Sinaiticus (Jt) they were absent originally, but are supplied by the third hand. In the Codex Vaticanus (B) they have no place in the text, but are supplied in the margin by a later corrector. The testimony of these—the two most ancient uncials—is further supported by another authority of weight. The second corrector of the cursive 67 has marked the words ev 'E<£>e<70J as spurious. The corrections by this hand have the highest value, having been evidently made from some very early text. It may be safely said that a reading in St Paul's Epistles which is supported by such a combination as X B 67** can never be neglected, and almost always represents the original text.

(iv) To these facts it must be added that Marcion in his Canon called this letter an Epistle to the Laodiceans1. The obvious inference is, that at all events he did not read 'in Ephesus' in his text. Whether he found other words substituted for these, I shall enquire hereafter*. The Canon of Marcion, it will be remembered, must have been drawn up before the middle of the second century*.

1 This fact about Marcion is derived be attached to the evidence of one who

from the passages in Tertullian given lived in a neighbouring province of

below (see p. 381 sq.). Asia Minor in the first half of the

3 See below, p. 392. second century. Tertullian's assertion,

3 As the question is purely critical that he falsified the title (see below,

and has no bearing on the doctrinal p. 382), is unworthy of credit, though

views of Marcion, his testimony is free no doubt uttered in good faith, from suspicion; and due weight must

With these facts before us, it seems plain, that in the Greek MSS. which were in circulation during the second and third centuries, the omission of the words ev 'E^io-qt was not the exception, but the rule. The silence of Origen is confirmed by the direct statement of Basil; and their joint testimony, sufficiently strong in itself, is further strengthen ed by the phenomena of the extant MSS. and by the belief of Marcion. On the other hand, we have no direct evidence that a single Greek manuscript during this period contained the words in question. The recent manuscripts, to which Basil refers in the latter half of the fourth century, are the earliest of which this can be distinctly affirmed. On the other hand, the fact, to which I shall advert presently, that the letter was commonly and persistently styled the 'Epistle to the Ephesians' from the latter half of the second century at least, suggests that the words occurred in some manuscripts from a very early date, perhaps from the Apostle's own age. But this is a critical inference, of which there is no positive proof.

From the Greek manuscripts I turn to the Latin. The original form of the Old Latin Version in the Pauline Epistles can only be ascertained very imperfectly from the existing copies. The three chief extant manuscripts of this Version of St Paul's Epistles are bilingual. The Latin stands in close proximity to the Greek, being written either in a parallel column as in DE, or over the words as in G. Under such circumstances the Latin text would almost inevitably be made to conform to the Greek in a case like the present, where the omission would appear obvious. Moreover of these three manuscripts only one was written as early as the sixth century, and the remaining two are as late as the ninth. For the original form of the text therefore we must have recourse to the notices and commentaries of the Latin Fathers.

(i) Of these the testimony of Tertullian, as the oldest, is the most important. He refers twice to the title which this Epistle bore in the Marcionite Canon. In the first passage he writes:

"I say nothing here about another Epistle which we (Catholics) have with the heading 'to the Ephesians,' but the heretics ' to the Laodieeans.'"

In the second passage he is more explicit:

'According to the true belief of the Church,' he writes, 'we hold this Epistle to have been despatched to the Ephesians, not to the Laodiceans; but Marcion had to falsify its title, wishing to make himself out a very diligent investigator. The question of titles however is of no consequence; seeing that the Apostle wrote to all, when he wrote to some1.'

It seems probable from the expressions here used, that the words 'in Ephesus' were wanting in the copies used by the Latin father. He speaks of Marcion's falsifying' the title; he appeals to the received heading of the letter. He neither directly states, nor indirectly hints, that anything in the letter itself contradicts this hypothesis. His argument in fact seems to be this: "It must be confessed that the letter itself does not say to whom it was written; but the Catholic Church has always regarded it as addressed 'To the Ephesians.' It was therefore a wanton and arbitrary proceeding of Marcion to give it another title ' To the Laodiceans,' for the sake of gaining credit, as an enquiring critic."

Thus strictly interpreted, the language of Tertullian refers only to the title. This interpretation however is rendered uncertain by the fact that Tertullian elsewhere uses the expressions titulus and praescribere, not of the actual title or heading, but of the opening words of an Epistle3.

1 Tertullian adv. Marc. v. 11,' Prae- 2 'Interpolare' is used loosely by

tereo hie et dc alia epistula, quam nos Tertullian in the sense 'to corrupt or

ad Ephesios praescriptam habemus, falsify'whether by omission, insertion,

haeretici vero (i.e. the Marcionites) ad or alteration, e.g. adv. Marc. v. 21,

Laodicenos;' ib.v. 17, 'Ecolesiae quidem 'Affectavit, opinor, etiam numerum

veritate epistulam istam ad Ephesios epistularum interpolare.' Marcion only

habemus emissam, non ad Laodicenos, accepted ten epistles of St Paul as

sed Marcion ei titulum aliquando inter- genuine. See also adv. Marc. iv. 1,

polare gestiit, quasi et in isto diligen- 'evangelium...quod interpolando suum

tissimus ezplorator. Nihil autem de fecit.' Cf. Anger Ueber den Laodicener

titulis interest, cum ad omnes aposto- brief (Leipzig 1843), p. 41.

lus scripserit, dum ad quosdam.' This * e.g. adv. Marc. v. 5, 'Praestructio

treatise was written A.d. 207. superioris epistulae ita duxit, ut de titulo ejus non retractaverim, oertns et alibi retractari eum posse, commnnem scilicet et eundem in epistulis omnibus, quod non utique salutem praescribit eis quibusscribit, sedgratiam et pacem.' Generally however' titulus' is the heading, the title, e.g. adv. Marc. iv. 2, 3, de Pudie. 20; see Anger hoodie, p. 97.

Still, as he appeals not to the ancient copies, but to the authority of the Church, the inference is that he could not refute Marcion out of the manuscripts of the Epistle which were in his hands1.

1 Tertullian's testimony to the identity of the Laodicean Epistle of Marcion with the Ephesian Epistle of the Catholic Church is positive and explicit; and, if it had stood alone, would have excited no suspicion. Two other witnesses however appear, whose testimony is scarcely reconcileable with his statement. (1) About a generation before Tertullian's time, an anonymous writer of the Muratorian Canon of Scripture, after enumerating the Epistles of St Paul adds, 'Fertur etiam ad Laudicenses alia ad Alexandrinos Pauli nomine finctae ad haeresem Marcionis et alia plura quae in catholicam ecclesiam recipi non potest' (Fragm. Mwrator. Credner Gesch. des N.T. Kanom, p. 148). If 'finctae' refers to the Laodicean and Alexandrian Epistles mentioned just before, we must suppose the writer to be in error. He knew of an Epistle to the Laodiceans in the Marcionite Canon, but not being aware of its identity with this Epistle to the Ephesians assumed that it was an apocryphal writing. But in this case no account can be given of 'alia ad Alexandrinos,' for no such Epistle is elsewhere mentioned as belonging to the Marcionite Canon. Not without reason therefore, considering that the fragment is a blundering translation from a Greek original, much mutilated in the course of transcription, Credner (p. 160) sepa

rates ' finctae' from the preceding words. The words will then mean: 'Besides the Canonical Epistles, there is an Epistle to the Laodiceans in circulation, another to the Alexandrians, both bearing the name of Paul; others again adapted to the heresy of Marcion, etc.' The phrase 'finctae ad haeresem Marcionis' well describes the process of mutilation and alteration, by which Marcion shaped St Paul's Epistles to his own views. In this case the Epistle to the Laodiceans was probably some apocryphal writing which has not survived. The allusion in Col. iv. 16 must have tempted more than one heretical writer to forge an Epistle in St Paul's name, as a means of gaining Apostolic sanction for his own opinions. (2) At the close of the fourth century, Epiphanius (Haeres. xlii.) speaks of the Marcionite Canon in a way which is very perplexing. He says that Marcion recognised ten Epistles of St Paul (the Pastoral Epistles being of course excluded), and mentions the Epistle to the Ephesians in his enumeration of these, p. 310, ed. Petav. He then adds that he recognises also 'portions of the so-calledEpistle to the Laodiceans' (?x« Si Kol trjs irpAs Aao£i/ie'as \eyolUrqt fuprj, p. 310; of. p. 321, p. 374). Later on, he gives several extracts from the Epistle to the Ephesians (p. 371) identical with our text, except that in one instance Marcion omitted a few words (rp6t Ttji" yvrauta avrov Ephes. v. 31), and one passage as from the Epistle to the Laodiceans (p. 374), which also is found in our Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephes. iv. 5). Epiphanius is aware of this, for, speaking of this last passage, he says that Marcion did not adduce this testimony from the Epistle to the Ephesians, but from that to the Laodiceans, which is not contained in the Apostle's writings (oi yap ?Jo{e rip i\tttvor&rip MapKtuvt ari ri)t rpit E^ffflovs tafrnqv -rty fLaprvplav dXXd -rips rpii AaoJi/t^as, rijt firi oOffri s b> rtp aroari\ip, p. 375). The explanation of Epiphanins' language seems to be this. Some of the later Marcionites abandoned the title of the Epistle adopted by their founder, and designated it according to Catholic usage the Epistle to the Ephesians. In the copy of the Marcionite drooro\titiv used by Epiphanius it was so designated (Anger Laodic. p. 41 sq.). At the same time he found in some writings of Marcion, or of his followers, quotations from St Paul's 'Epistle to the Laodiceans'; and in ignorance assumed that the Epistle thus quoted was another, not contained in the Catholic Canon.

(ii) And this inference is supported by the interpretations of the earlier Latin commentators, whose language seems to show that the word Ephesi was wanting, or that its position fluctuated in some Latin copies and thus betrayed its later introduction. Thus Victorinus Afer [c. A.d. 360] writes: 'But when he says these words " To the saints who are the faithful of Ephesus," what does he add? "In Christ Jesus."" The importance of this fact is not seriously diminished by the circumstance that immediately below he quotes the words as they stand in the existing manuscripts3: because we meet with numberless examples in which the commentator explains one reading and the scribe gives another. The natural tendency of the transcriber was to conform to the commonly received text. In all such cases therefore a deviation has far higher value, as evidence, than a coincidence.

(iii) I believe also that traces of a variation from the common reading may be discerned in the next Latin commentator in point of time, the Ambrosian Hilary. Here too the text conforms to the common type; but the commentary ignores the word Ephesi altogether. It runs as follows: 'He writes not only to the faithful, but also to the saints, to prove that men are then truly faithful, if they are saints in Christ Jesus3.'

1 Victorinus quoted in Mai Script. Vet. Nov. Coll. in. p. 87 (1828), 'Bed haec cum dicit Sanctis qui sunt fidelibn s Ephesi, quid adjungitur? In Christo Jesu.' [On this commentator see Qalatians p. 281.]

3 Victor, op. c. p. 88,' Sanctis qui sunt Ephesi et fidelibus in Christo Jesu.'

3 Ambrosiaster Com. in Eph. i. 1 (Migne P.L. xnj, p. 373), 'Non solum fidelibus scribit, sed et Sanctis: ut tunc vere fideles sint, si fuerint sancti in Christo Jesu.'

It would almost seem as though this commentator (or some earlier writer whose note he adopts) had in his mind the reading Toi ? dyiois rot? ovaiv ital Ttmttoi<;, and that, like several modern interpreters, he translated them 'the saints who are also faithful.' If so, he can hardly have read Sanctis qui sunt Ephesi et fidelibus in his Latin copy; since this would have saved him from the misinterpretation. His language however is not so clear as to leave this inference free from doubt.

(iv) The only later Latin father whose language tends in the same direction is Sedulius Scotus, who in the eighth or ninth century compiled a commentary on St Paul's Epistles. He writes:

'To the saints. Not to all the Ephesians, but to those who believe in Christ. And faithful. All the saints are faithful, but not all the faithful are saints etc. Who are in Christ Jesus. There are many faithful who are not faithful in Christ, etc1.'

No stress can be laid on the omission of Ephesi here, because the inserted fragments of the text are more often discontinuous than not in this writer; and indeed he omits the corresponding names of places in other Epistles. But the position of qui sunt is striking. It would seem as though some transcriber, finding the reading Sanctis qui sunt et fidelibus in Christo Jesu in his copy and stumbling at the order, had transposed the words so as to read Sanctis et fidelibus qui sunt in Christo Jesu. This altered reading may have been before Sedulius, or some earlier writer whom he copies.

(v) On the other hand the note of St Jerome on the passage suggests that some centuries before Sedulius Ephesi was commonly read in the Latin copies. He writes:

1 Sedul. Scot Com. in Eph. i. 1 fideles sunt, non omnes fideles sancti

(MigneP.L.cm.p. 195), 'Sanctis. Non etc. Qui sunt in Christo Jesu. Plnres

omnibus Ephesiis, sed bis qui credunt fideles sunt, sed non in Christo, etc.' in Christo. Etfidelibus. Omnes sanoti

'Some persons, with more ingenuity than is needed, think that, according as it is said to Moses These things shalt thou say to the children of Israel, He that is hath sent me, so also those who are at Ephesus saints andfaiUifid are addressed under the title of (absolute) existence; that is to say, just as (they are called) holy after the Holy One, righteous after the Righteous One, and wise after the Wise One, so also they are designated Those that are after Him that is. Others however take it simply, and think that it is written not to those that are, but to those that at Ephesus are saints and faithful1.'

This father has expressed himself in a hasty and obscure manner. When he speaks of 'some persons,' he doubtless alludes to Origen, to whose work he was largely indebted in his own commentary on this Epistle. But it does not appear clearly what view he took of Origen's explanation. In the former part of this note he speaks only of a difference of interpretation, not of reading; and hence we might infer not only that he had the words 'in Ephesus' in his own text, but that he was unaware of their omission in any copies, and therefore did not see the difficulty with which Origen had to contend. On the other hand the word scriptum in the closing sentence seems to point to a difference of reading also. But he may have used the word loosely and without any such intention. On the whole it seems probable that he overlooked the omission. Yet even then his language suggests that his Latin copy may have had the words qui sunt Ephesi in some other than the ordinary position.

(vi) The extant copies of all the other Versions, early as well as late, contain the words in the text. The unanimity however does not carry any great weight in the present instance.

1 Hieron. Com. in Eph. i. 1 (vit. p. patos: ut quomodo a Sancto saneti, a

545, ed. Vallarsi), 'Quidam curiosius Justo justi, a Sapiente sapientes, ita ab

quam necesse est putant ex eo quod Eo qui est hi qui sunt appellentur...

Moysi dictum sit Haec dices JUiis Alii vero simpliciter, non ad eos qui

Israel, Qui est, misit me (Exod. iii. sint (al. sunt), sed qui Ephesi saneti

14), etiam eos qui Ephesi sunt saneti et fideles sint scriptum arbitrantur.' et fideles essentiae vocabulo nuncu

Our existing manuscripts of these Versions are all far too late to assure us of their original reading in a case where the insertion would be irresistible to scribes. The contest between the testimony of the earlier and that of the later Greek MSS., as already stated, shows how little dependence can be placed on any but the most ancient authorities under such circumstances. The earliest extant manuscript of any of these Versions containing this opening verse of the Ephesian letter, is at least two centuries later than K B, to say nothing of the manuscripts consulted by Origen and Basil.

2. But if the diplomatic evidence throws considerable doubt on the common designation of this Epistle, our suspicions are deepened when we examine the general character and tone of the Epistle itself.

St Paul had spent a great part of three years at Ephesus. He had 'gone about among them preaching the kingdom of God1.' He had testified 'both to Jews and to Greeks8.' 'He had ceased not to warn every one day and night with tears V On his last journey to Jerusalem he summoned the elders of the city to meet him at Miletus. He poured forth his whole heart to them in affectionate remembrances and earnest warnings. Parting from him at length,'they fell on his neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more'.'

The interview at Miletus is a striking picture of St Paul's intimate relations with the brethren of Ephesus. There was no Church on which he spent more time and labour, none in which he felt a warmer personal interest, none with which fonder or more sacred memories were bound up. Might it not be expected then that a letter written to the Church of Ephesus would be full of personal reminiscences, that there would be a marked individuality of character in it, that the Apostle would pour out his heart to his converts, as a friend speaking to friends?

1 Acts xx. 25. * Acts xx. 31.

* Acta xx. 21. * Acts xx. 37, 38.

The Epistle to the Ephesians does not answer these conditions. Much stress indeed has been laid on the absence of salutations to individual members of a Church so familiar to him. To this argument there is a ready answer. In writing to brotherhoods with whom he was most intimate, to the Corinthians and Philippians, for instance, he sends no special salutations: in writing to the Roman Church, which he had never visited, he greets by name a large number of individual members. The reason for this is obvious. In a community of strangers it is easy to single out and enumerate friends. Where all alike are known to us, it becomes irksome, if not invidious, to select any for special salutations.

The absence of such salutations therefore is natural enough in an Epistle to Ephesus. But the general character of the Epistle admits of no explanation on this hypothesis. Of all St Paul's letters it is the most general, the least personal. In this respect it more nearly resembles the Epistle to the Romans than any other*. Both alike partake of the character rather of a formal treatise than of a familiar letter. Yet even the Epistle to the Romans betrays deeper personal feeling, and exhibits more distinct traces of individual relations and local colouring. In writing to the Ephesians of their faith and progress in the Gospel, he might be expected at all events to allude to his own labours among them, their attachment to him, the memories and experiences which they shared in common *. Far different is his language. 'Having heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, I cease not to give thanks for you *.'

1 Theodore of Mopsuestia, with his before St Paul visited Ephesus, and so

usual penetration, discerns the likeness does Severianus (see Cramer's Catena);

of these two Epistles ' Scribit Ephesiis bnt not Theodoret, as De Wette asserts,

hanc epistolam beatus Paulus, eo modo Recent writers adduce it as an argu

quo et Bomanis dudum scripserat quos merit against the genuineness of the

necdum ante viderat' {Argum. ad Epistle. Mr Burgon does not attempt

Ephts. i. p. 112 ed. Swete). an explanation of the facts.

* Theod. Mops. I. c. is driven to 3 Eph. i. I9. assert that the letter was written

'For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles, if indeed ye were instructed in the dispensation of the grace of God which was given me to you-ward V 'But ye did not so learn Christ, if so be ye heard of him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus '.' All this is general and comprehensive, not necessarily excluding personal intercourse with those he addresses, but still scarcely natural if addressed to his own converts solely. It is strangely at variance with the language in which he generally writes to his own children in the faith, the Corinthians and Philippians, for instance. It even presents a very striking contrast to the contemporaneous letter to the Colossians, for whom he shows an intense personal interest, and to whose special dangers and temptations he is fully alive, though they had not seen his face in the flesh3.

3. Yet, though this Epistle so little fulfils our expectations of what St Paul would have written to his converts, it is beyond a question that the Early Church universally regarded it as an Epistle to the Ephesians. It is distinctly referred to as such by the writer of the Muratorian Canon, by Irenaeus, by Tertullian, by Clement of Alexandria, even by Origen himself, in whose text, as we have seen, there was no direct mention of Ephesus*. Thus the tradition is carried back to the earlier decades of the last half of the second century, and at the close of that century, at least, the title seems to have been received without question by the Catholic Church, so much so that, as we have seen, Tertullian accused Marcion of forgery because he denied it. Earlier than this we cannot trace the opinion, unless the existing text of the Old Latin and the Syriac Versions, which have the words 'in Ephesus', may be put in evidence 5.

1 Eph. iii. 2. de praescr. 36, de monogam. 9; Clem.

3 Eph. iv. 20, 21. Alex. Strom, iv. 65, p. 592, Paed. i. 18,

3 Col. ii. 1. p. 108 ed. Potter; Origen contr. Celt.

* The references are as follows: iii. 20 (xviii. p. 273 ed. Lomm.).

Murat. Canon, p. 148 ed. Credner; Iren. 5 Ignatius, writing in the first de

Haer. i. 3. 1, 1, pp. 11, 16, i. 8. 4, p. 40, cade of the second century to the

v. 2. 36, p. 294 ed. Stieren; Turt. members of the Ephesian Church,

adv. Marc. v. 17 (see above, p. 382), alludes to St Paul as 'making mention of them in every epistle' (Eph. § 12 sonal disciple of the Apostles as a

jj ir roo-p irtaroKy funjfioreitt ifLOr). further witness to this tradition; but

Attempts have been made to translate grammar forbids the interpretation.

iv rdo-jj irtaroj as though it were [See the note on the passage in Aposto

ev i-tury ry irurtoj 'throughout his lie Fathers Pt. n. Vol. n. p. 65 ed. 2.] epistle,' and thus to claim this per

4. Only one exception to this general belief during the earliest ages is on record. But this exception is most important. I have mentioned before that Marcion considered it to be addressed to the Laodiceans. Now (1) Marcion lived nearer to the times of the Apostles than any of the Catholic writers above mentioned. (2) He was moreover a native of Pontus, a neighbouring province of Asia Minor, and therefore not unfavourably situated for forming an opinion. And, (3), as the question has no theological bearing whatever, his opinion is free from all suspicion of bias, and must be received with the respect due to so ancient a writer. Did Marcion then maintain this opinion, as a tradition received from others, or as a result arrived at by his own independent criticism? We have not sufficient information to form any judgment on this point. If the former idea be correct, this tradition is of the highest value: if the latter, as Tertullian assumes, he may be supposed to have built an inference on the mention of a Laodicean letter iu Col. iv. 16. Anyhow it is still clear that the destination of the Epistle was open to question, for it is most unlikely that Marcion would have changed the received title merely because he found an allusion elsewhere to a Laodicean letter, if this title were hitherto undisputed, and if the Epistle itself stated that it was addressed to the Church of Ephesus. The former view is more probable in the infancy of criticism. Criticism would only step in where history was silent or confused.

5. But whether Marcion's opinion was founded independently of the mention of a Laodicean Epistle in the letter to the Colossians or not, this mention has undoubtedly a very important bearing on the question. The Ephesian and Colossian letters were written and despatched about the same time. Tychicus seems to have been the bearer of both letters1. At all events he is expected to visit the persons to whom they were addressed about the time when they were delivered. Simultaneously with these also a private letter was sent to Philemon, an individual member of the Church of Laodicea or of Colossae. Thus three letters were despatched at the same time. But in the Epistle to the Colossians they are directed to exchange letters with the Laodiceans. Are we then to add to the three letters already mentioned a fourth letter no longer extant? Or is the Laodicean Epistle to be identified with one of these? If the latter alternative be adopted, it can only be our Epistle to the Ephesians, for the letter to Philemon is addressed to an individual Christian on a matter of strictly private interest, and does not therefore answer to the designation.

Let us now combine the evidence gathered from these various sources, and what is the result? We must frame some hypothesis which recognises our Epistle both as an Epistle to the Laodiceans and an Epistle to the Ephesians, and yet neither the one nor the other. It must moreover be sufficiently elastic to adapt itself to the general tone in which the letter is couched.

The required hypothesis is not far to seek. It was an encyclical letter addressed to the Churches lying within a certain area, which we may perhaps venture to define roughly as coextensive with Proconsular Asia On this supposition all the varying forms of the opening salutation are fully explained. The facts before us are these:—

(1) The words ev 'E<£eo-y were omitted in the old MSS.

(see above, p. 377 sq.).

(2) The general character of the Epistle is quite in

capable of explanation, if it were written solely or specially to the Ephesians (see above, p. 387 sq.;.

1 Eph. vi. 21; Col. iv. 7.

(3) At the same time the Epistle was regarded from

very ancient times as an 'Epistle to the Ephesians/ and so it was entitled (see above, p. 389).

(4) Marcion, however, the earliest writer whose opinion

is known (except doubtfully and inferentially), believed that it was written to the Laodiceans (see above, p. 390).

(5) It is certain that St Paul despatched an Epistle to

Laodicea, at or about the same time that the Epistle (so called) to the Ephesians reached its destination (see above, p. 390 sq.).

We have to seek a theory which will account for and combine all these facts, and that of Archbishop Ussher alone satisfies these requirements.

(i) In the original letter a vacant space would be left after the words 'To the saints that are.' In the copies made for distribution the blank would be filled in with the names of the individual Churches for which they were intended, 'in Ephesus,' 'in Smyrna,' 'in Laodicea,' 'in Thyatira' and so forth. In the Church at large some copies would be circulated with the vacant space. When these were again transcribed, the blank would be disregarded, and the text closing in upon it would run 'To the saints that are and faithful brethren.' This explains the reading of the texts of Origen and Basil, and of our two best extant MSS. Not a few again would be circulated from the metropolitan Church of Ephesus. Hence the received text and the recognised title. Lastly a MS. would here and there be found transcribed from the copy sent to some other Church. A transcription from the Laodicean copy fell into Marcion's hands and led to his designation, (ii) And in this way a satisfactory account may be given of the notice in the Colossian Epistle. The letter would be sent only to the mother Church in each district, with the injunction to circulate it among the lesser communities scattered throughout that district. Laodicea would be selected, as she is selected in the Apocalypse, as of superior importance to either Hierapolis or Colossae, which lay in her immediate neighbourhoodl.

Moreover the hypothesis adopted fits in with the exact terms of that notice. Two points are to be observed: (1) The Epistle in question is called not the 'Epistle to the Laodiceans', but the 'Epistle from Laodicea.' The former designation would not be very well suited to our Epistle: the latter exactly describes it, for the Colossians got it from Laodicea. (2) If St Paul had written directly and solely to the Laodiceans, he would naturally have given his salutations to the Church of Laodicea and to individual members of it in the letter addressed to them. On the contrary we find him sending his salutations through the Colossians, not only to the Church of Laodicea generally, but to Nymphas, who was certainly, and Archippus, who was perhaps, a member of that Church (Col. iv. 15, 17). (iii) Again, the entire absence of special allusions, with the sole exception of the mention of Tychicus, has created much perplexity and suspicion. On the supposition adopted, both the rule and the exception are satisfactorily explained. On the one hand the encyclical character of the letter required that all personal matters should be excluded. But at the same time, with some of the Churches thus addressed St Paul was on terms of affectionate intimacy. To such he must needs address some words of special import. These were entrusted to the bearer of the letter: 'But that ye also may know my affairs, how I do, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: whom I have sent unto you for this very purpose, that ye may know our affairs, and that he may comfort your hearts3'. The very expression 'ye also' points to the encyclical character of the letter. Private instructions, salutations to individuals, strictly personal matters of all kinds would be reserved for him to deliver.

1 See Colouiaru, pp. 7, 8. • Eph. vi. 21, 22.

I have suggested Proconsular Asia as the probable limit of the district through which the Epistle was intended to bo

circulated. The seven Churches of the Apocalypse at once occur to us, and St Paul's letter was probably destined for a circle of readers not much wider nor much narrower than St John's Revelation. The Apocalypse was written probably not many years later, and by that time these Churches had passed through many vicissitudes, had been proved by many trials, had grown old and in some instances lukewarm in the faith. It is most probable therefore that they were in existence when St Paul wrote. During his residence of three years in Ephesus, the knowledge of the Gospel through his influence, direct or indirect, had spread throughout the neighbourhood. It had certainly reached Laodicea, with her attendant satellites Hierapolis and Colossae, lying at the extreme verge of this Pleiad of the Christian heavens, and the more central points of the constellation would not have been passed over. There was little, if any, exaggeration in the language of Demetrius when he said 'not only at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people V During great part of the second century the Asiatic Churches are without question the most energetic and lively members of Christ, whether we regard their missionary zeal or their literary activity.

What motive then may be supposed to have prompted St Paul to write this letter? A beloved disciple, Epaphras, had brought tidings of the errors which threatened the safety of the Christian brotherhood in his own native place, Colossae, in itself a comparatively small and unimportant Church. At Colossae the symptoms were so clear, that there was no mistaking the form which the disease might assume. For these strongly marked errors the Apostle prescribed. The true medicine was found in the doctrine of the Person of Christ. In writing to the Colossians therefore he applied this as a special remedy, with a view to a special complaint1. But in the course of writing, it would occur to him to set forth these grand truths in a broader form and in their more general relations.

1 Acts xix. 26; cf. v. 10. 'See Colossians, p. 41 sq.

This he could do, if, while writing, he were free from any of the disturbing forces which special local interests must exert upon him.

The Churches of Asia would offer themselves as fit recipients for such an exposition. He was known personally to some of these; his influence had been felt by all. A trusty messenger was at hand in Tychicus, a member of the Church of Ephesus, the most important in the district, and himself a tried companion and fellow-labourer of the Apostle. To these therefore St Paul wrote a circular letter, for while speaking to all collectively, he was not obliged to speak to any individually. He thus felt himself free and unfettered. At the same time, the area chosen was not too large to prevent his adapting his teaching to the wants of his hearers. A certain tone of feeling pervaded all the Churches of Asia, a certain class of errors would find a welcome among them. If false opinion did not take exactly the same form at Ephesus or Thyatira or Smyrna, for instance, as at Colossae, it would take a similar form. Thus St Paul still dwells in this Epistle on the same class of truths as in the Epistle to the Colossians. Only whereas in the Colossians he combats error directly1, he here combats it indirectly: whereas there he is special, distinct, personal, here he speaks broadly and generally *.

Thus the Epistle to the Ephesians stands to the Epistle to the Colossians in very much the same relation as the Romans to the Galatians. The one is the general and systematic exposition of the same truths which appear in a special bearing< in the other.

1 On the character of the heresy of the subject of Christ the Logos in

which assailed the Colossian Church, Col. i. 15, ii. 9 with Eph. i . 22, or of

see Coloisiaru, p. 72 sq. the law of ordinances in Col. ii. 14

3 Besides this, St Paul has given to with Eph. ii. 14, 15, or again the

his teaching a new centre. In this practical lessons of the relations of

Epistle it revolves about the doctrine husbands and wives in Col. iii. 18, 19

of the Church. The same truths which with Eph. v. 25 sq., 32. The propriety

in the Epistle to the Colossians are of this new centre of teaching is obvious

advanced to combat a peculiar phase when we remember that it is addressed,

of false doctrine have here a place as not in a special letter to an individual

leading up to the doctrine of the Church, but in an encyclical to several

Church, e.g. compare the treatment Churches.

For though the Roman is not strictly a circular letter1, yet, being addressed to a very large and varied community, it was enabled to maintain this general character.

Thus the resemblances between the language of the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians are explained. Analogous resemblances between expressions used to the Galatians and Romans are not quite so close, but there the interval between the two letters is longer*.

1 See above, p. 315.

2 This hypothesis best explains the relation between this letter and 1 Peter, which, like it, is addressed to the Churches of Asia Minor and obviously makes use of the Epistle to the Ephesians. Compare the following pairs of passages: