The Chronology of St Paul's Life and Epistles
/-\N the subject of the chronology of St Paul's life originality ^-^ is out of the question. Unless new documents are discovered to throw fresh light upon the period, little or nothing can be added to our present stock of knowledge. Recent writers have treated the matter with a fulness which may be considered exhaustive, and it only remains for those who are later in the field to repeat and to sift the results at which their predecessors have already arrived.
It may be as well to premise at the outset that as regards the exact dates in St Paul's life absolute certainty is unattainable. An approximation to the truth is the most that we can expect, but this approximation is all that is necessary for my main object, which is to place his Epistles in connexion with his life. This impossibility of arriving at definite chronological results arises from the fact that there are very few points of contact between the Acts of the Apostles and contemporary history, and such points of contact as exist are of a vague kind chronologically. Indeed there are only two events in secular history which help us primarily in our search, though there are other allusions of a more uncertain character which can be appealed to as secondary and corroborative evidence. The two events to which I refer are, (1) the death of Herod Agrippa, (2) the procuratorship of Felix. We will proceed to investigate them in turn.
1. The death of Herod Agrippa, which is recorded in Acts xii. 23, is known to have fallen in 44 A.D. For Josephus says that at the time of his death he had already completed the third year of his reign over the whole of Judaea (Ant. xix. 8. 2). Now this dignity was conferred upon him by Claudius soon after the commencement of that Emperor's reign, which took place on January 24th, A.D. 41. He died after the Passover, for it was during that festival that St Peter was imprisoned by him, and soon after Herod left Jerusalem for the last time. Now Herod's persecution of the Church and his subsequent death are related by St Luke in connexion with St Paul's second visit to Jerusalem. The account is inserted between the notices of St Paul's journey thither and his return to Antioch. It must not be assumed however that they exactly synchronized with that visit. St Luke's language is indefinite/about that time,'and as his object in digressing is to describe the state of the Church at Jerusalem when St Paul arrived, the incidents which are then interpolated in the narrative may be supposed to have happened previously to that visit. In this case St Paul's second visit to Jerusalem may be placed at the end of 44, or in 45.
St Paul's object in visiting Jerusalem on this occasion was to carry relief to the Jews suffering from a dearth which extended 'over the whole land,' or, as others would translate, 'the whole world' (ift 0X171/ Tt/p olKovjievriv), and happened in the reign of Claudius1. Unfortunately contemporaneous history does not furnish us with the exact date of this dearth: but so far as we can draw any conclusion, it is quite in accordance with the result already obtained. We read of several famines occurring at different times in different parts of the Roman Empire during this reign, but of no general dearth. Among these, one (and one only) is recorded as having happened in Judaea, Whatever interpretation therefore is to be put upon the words i<f>' oXvv rrjv olitovfievrjv, this must be the occasion in question, as history supplies no other.
Now Josephus states2 that this famine in Juda?a fell in the procuratorships of Cuspius Fadus and Tiberius Alexander. Cuspius Fadus was appointed soon after the death of Herod Agrippa, i.e. probably in 44, and Tiberius Alexander ceased to be procurator about 48.1 Acts xi. 28. 2 Jos. Ant. xx. 5. 2.
During this period then (44-48) the famine must have raged. Cuspius Fadus was still procurator at the end of June 45, but the close of his office is uncertain. If we suppose him to have been succeeded by Alexander in 46, the famine may have broken out in 45, and spread over the following year at least.
This date is further confirmed by another incident recorded by Josephus1. Helena, Queen of Adiabene, having recently embraced the Jewish religion, paid a visit to Jerusalem and, finding the famine raging, purchased food for the sufferers. This incident is inserted among events of 45, and the historian immediately adds that about this time (Kara Tovtov Tov Kaipov) Fadus appeared in his province. It seems highly probable then that the famine broke out in 45, and as the Christians of Antioch had been prepared beforehand by the prophecy of Agabus, and were ready with the means of relief, it may be presumed that Paul and Barnabas would be sent to Jerusalem as soon as the pressure began to be felt, i.e. in the year 45.
2. The date of the recall of Felix and the succession of Festus to the procuratorship is not directly known, but may be ascertained with a tolerable degree of accuracy.
Pentecost had already passed when St Paul was imprisoned at Jerusalem", and he remained in captivity two years before Festus reached his province. Festus therefore did not arrive before Pentecost. Again, at the great fast of the same year, which fell in October, St Paul was as far as Crete on his way to Rome. Festus therefore must have entered upon his procuratorship between Pentecost and October, i.e. some time in the summer or autumn of the year. We have now to determine this year.
The following considerations show that it could not well have been earlier than A.D. 60:—1 Jos. Ant. xx. 2. 6, xx. 5. 2. • Acta xx. 16, xxi. 27.
(a) St Paul pleading before Felix (Acts xxiv. 10) says: 'I know that thou hast been of many years (iK iroWwv irwv) a
judge unto this nation.' Now Felix entered upon his procuratorship at the close of 52, and, if we allow between five and six years for the period designated Ttowo. erq, this will give 58 as the date of St Paul's imprisonment, and 60 as that of Felix' recall. We can scarcely allow less, and on the other hand, considering the rapid succession of the procurators at this time, a period of five or six years might fairly be considered a long term of office.
(b) Nero came to the Imperial throne in October 54. Now Josephus1 mentions several incidents which happened during the procuratorship of Felix subsequent to Nero's accession, and these together must have occupied a considerable time. These events include the death of Azizus, king of Emesa, the succession of Aristobulus to the kingdom of Chalcis, and the readjustment of the dominions of the younger Agrippa. They cover the period of the 'great quarrel' between the Jewish and Syrian inhabitants of Caesarea, which was closed by the armed intervention of the Roman procurator. Describing the jealousy which arose at this time between Felix and the high priest Jonathan, and which led to the assassination of Jonathan in the streets of Jerusalem by the governor's order, Josephus speaks of the reign of terror which, as the result of this dark deed, prevailed at festival times from the bands of assassins, who infested the capital, murdering their private enemies with impunity, even inside the sacred precincts. He devotes two long chapters to an account of the various robbers and impostors who flourished during this period of Felix's procuratorship, beginning with Eleazar, son of Dinaeus, who was treacherously slain by Felix, and culminating in the formidable insurrection of the Egyptian.
(c) This last-mentioned incident, the rebellion headed by the Egyptian, is alluded to by Claudius Lysias (Acts xxi. 38), on the occasion of St Paul's imprisonment, as having happened some time before (irpo Tovtosv Twv fifiep&v). We may fairly allow five or six years for the events which happened previously (as enumerated in the last paragraph), for the duration of this rebellion itself, and for the period which elapsed; and this again will bring the date of St Paul's imprisonment to A.D. 58.
1 Jos. Ant. xx. 8. 1—8, B. J. ii. 13.
If this consideration leads to the year 60 as the earliest probable date of the recall of Felix, there are other circumstances which show that it cannot well have been later.
(1) Felix was the brother of Pallas, the notorious favourite of the Emperor Claudius, and after he had been removed from the procuratorship to make room for Festus, was only saved from the clamours of the Jews by the intercession of his brother. As Pallas was poisoned A.D. 62 (Tac. Ann. xiv. 65), Felix must have been recalled before this. It might have been supposed that this incident occurred before the removal of Pallas from power, A.D. 55, related by Tacitus (Ann. xiii. 14), but the considerations already adduced preclude this supposition.
(2) Again St Paul, after his arrival in Rome, preaches two whole years unmolested (Acts xxviii. 30, 31). The great fire at Rome broke out in July 64, and the persecution of the Christians commenced immediately after. Thus the Apostle cannot have arrived in Rome later than 62, and Felix must have been recalled in the summer of 61 at the latest.
(3) But there are other considerations which lead to the previous year 60 as the probable date of St Paul's arrival at Rome, for in Acts xxviii. 16 his fellow-prisoners are given up to the prefect of the preetorium (tw arparoireBapxy). Now Burrus held the office of prefect alone, but after his death it was shared by two, as had been the case also before his appointment. As the plural is generally used in similar cases, the singular here would seem to imply that there was but one prefect at this time, i.e. that Burrus was still living. But Burrus died early in the year 62 (in February at the latest)1, and St Paul can scarcely have arrived in Rome before the end of March. The great fast, which fell on the 10th of Tishri (corresponding roughly to October), had already passed when the ship left Lasaea in Crete. The voyage thence to Malta occupied fourteen days, and there they stayed three months, leaving for Puteoli by an Alexandrian vessel, that had wintered at Malta (Acts xxviii. 11).
1 Tac. Ann. xiv. 52.
The season at which the seas became navigable is stated by Vegetius1 to be the sixth before the Ides of March. For long voyages Pliny" places it at the vernal equinox. Taking the earlier date we have to allow three days for the stay at Syracuse, one for the delay at Ehegium, two for the voyage thence to Puteoli, and seven for the stay at Puteoli (Acts xxviii. 12—14). Besides this we have to account for the voyages from Malta to Syracuse and from Syracuse to Rhegium, with the journey from Puteoli to Rome, St Luke not having stated the time occupied by these. If therefore Burrus was still living when St Paul reached the metropolis, he must have arrived in the preceding year 61, and Felix must have been recalled in the summer of 60.
(4) This date is further borne out by another consideration. Felix was succeeded by Festus, Festus by Albinus. Now Albinus was already procurator at the Feast of Tabernacles A.D. 62. For the Jewish war broke out in 66, and Albinus was at Jerusalem at the season of this festival four years before. How long he had held office at that time we are ignorant. At most however this would allow only a year and a quarter for the procuratorship of Festus, supposing him to have entered on his office in the summer of 61. But the number of incidents which Josephus records as having taken place during his procuratorship can scarcely be crowded into this short space of time; and we are thus led to the year 60 as the more probable date of his appointment.
We have thus ascertained two fixed dates in the chronology of St Paul's life—A.D. 45 for his second journey to Jerusalem and A.D. 60 for his voyage to Rome. The former of these being an isolated event in St Luke's narrative is of little value comparatively for our purpose; but from the latter the whole of the known chronology of St Paul's life is determined, by means of the notices in the Acts of the sequence of events and the time occupied by them, together with occasional allusions in the Epistles.
1 Vegetius de re militari iv. 39. 2 Pliny N. H. ii. 47.
These notices in St Luke's narrative are much more exact in the latter part of the history, commencing with the third missionary journey, than in the former: and it will be seen from the following table how the dates of the Apostle's life are ascertained by a backward reckoning from the date of the procuratorship of Festus.
34. St Paul's conversion.
Cf. GaL i. 15 sq. Three years after his conversion he went up to Jerusalem, for (1) the point of time is obviously his conversion, for the argument depends on that, and (2) iura rpia err/ must mean three whole years, or substantially so, for the preposition ftira, to say nothing of the argument, excludes the supposition of a Judaical reckoning, by which a term of a little more than a year might be so designated1.
He visits Arabia, and returns to Damascus (Gal. i. 17, Acts ix. 20-25, 2 Cor. xi. 32, 33).
37. First visit to Jerusalem (Acts ix. 26, Gal. i. 18).
Cf. Gal. ii. 1. Between the first and third visit to Jerusalem a period of 14 years elapsed, for (1) the visit recorded in this passage of the Galatians must be identified with the third of the Acts, (2) Sia RfKiirftmdimv iraiv must be reckoned from the first visit, not from the date of the Apostle's conversion, because St Paul's object is to show how long a period elapsed without his holding communication with the Apostles of the Circumcision, (3) jraXiv dW/9ijr refers back to the previous visit.
37-44. To Ctesarea and Tarsus, visit to Syria (Acts ix. 30, Gal. i. 21).
44. St Paul brought by Barnabas to Antioch. He stays there a year (Acts xi. 26).
45. Second visit to Jerusalem with alms (Acts xi. 29, 30).
46. 47. At Antioch.
48. First Missionary Journey (Acts xiiL 1-xiv. 26) with Barnabas. He visits Cyprus, Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, and returns to Antioch.
1 [In his commentary on the Gala- version in A.d. 36, and the first visit to tians, however, Dr Light foot adopts the Jerusalem in A.d. 38; see note on Gal. Jewish reckoning, and places the con- ii. 1, 2.]
51. Third visit to Jerusalem with Barnabas (Gal. ii. 1 sq., Acts xv. 1 sq.). The Council of Jerusalem.
Returns to Antioch. The interview with Peter (Gal. ii. 11 sq.).
Second Missionary Journey (Acts xv. 36-xviii. 22) with Silas.
First visit to Galatia.
52. Crosses into Europe. First visit to Philippi, Thessalonica, and Corinth.
53. At Corinth.
54. (Spring) Leaves Corinth for Ephesus.
(Summer) Fourth visit to Jerusalem at Pentecost (Acts xviii. 21, 22).
Returns to Antioch.
(Autumn) Third Missionary Journey (Acts xviii. 23-xxi. 15).
Second visit to Galatia (Acts xviii. 23, GaL iv. 13-16).
To Ephesus again.
55. At Ephesus.
Second visit to Corinth (2 Cor. xii. 14, xiii. 1, 2).
56. At Ephesus. Sends a letter (now lost) to the Corinthians (1 Cor. v. 9).
Reply from the Corinthians (1 Cor. vii. 1).
57. (Spring) At Ephesus. Mission of Timotheus to Corinth (1 Cor. xvi. 10-12, Acts xix. 22).
First Mission of Titus to Corinth (2 Cor. xii. 18).
St Paul leaves Ephesus, overtaking Timotheus (!),
Visits Troas and Macedonia.
Second visit to Philippi and Thessalonica.
(Autumn) Titus rejoins St Paul in Macedonia (2 Cor. vii. 6).
Second Mission of Titus to Corinth.
(Winter) Third visit to Corinth (Acts xx. 2).
58. (Spring) At Corinth.
Third visit to Philippi; meets the elders of Ephesus at Miletus.
(Summer) Fourth visit to Jerusalem: arrested and sent to Caesarea.
59. At Caasarea.
60. (Autumn) Voyage to Rome, and shipwreck at Malta.
61. (Spring) Arrival at Rome.
1 The Epistle to the Galatians may of A.d. 68. have been written in the early spring
62. (Spring) At Rome.
(Autumn) [Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon.]
63. (Spring) Release of St Paul.
St Luke's narrative mentions 'two whole years' (Acts xxviii. 30) as the period of St Paul's sojourn at Rome. The notice implies a change at the end of this period, hence we fix the release in the spring of 63.
63-66. First journey Eastward.
(?) He revisits Macedonia. Fourth visit to Philippi (raxetor iktio-ofun, Phil. ii. 24).
(?) Revisits Asia and Phrygia. Visit to Colossao (Philemon 22).
(?) Founds the Church of Crete.
Visits Spain, Gaul (?) (2 Tim. iv. 10), and Dalmatia (?) (2 Tim. iv. 10).
Second journey Eastward.
Revisits Asia and Phrygia (2 Tim. i. 15 sq.). Visits Epheaus (1 Tim.
i. 3); here probably he encounters Alexander the coppersmith (1 Tim.
i. 20, 2 Tim. iv. 14). Leaves Timothy in charge of the Ephesian
67. Revisits Macedonia (1 Tim. i. 3). Fifth visit to Philippi. (f) Revisits Achaia (Athens and Corinth).
Visits (perhaps revisits) Crete, and leaves Titus in charge of the
Church there (Titus i. 5). Returns to Asia.
Visits Miletus (2 Tim. iv. 20), sails to Troas (2 Tim. iv. 13), is at
Corinth (2 Tim. iv. 20) on his way to Nicopolis to winter (Tit. iii. 12).
(Autumn) Arrested (probably at Corinth)1, and carried to Rome.
Titus joins him there.
[2 Timothy.] Timothy shares his imprisonment (Heb. xiii. 23). 68(?). (Spring) Martyrdom of St Paul (Jerome de vir. illustr. 5 'in the fourteenth year of Nero'3).
June. Death of Nero.
The table of the events of St Paul's life given above has been drawn up with the special object of presenting a record of the Apostle's association with the Churches to which he wrote letters, and of the periods of his epistolary activity. It remains for us now to consider in their mutual relations the letters which have come down to us.
1 Nero was in Greece from A.d. 66 to 5 Eusebius (Chronicon) places it 'in August A.d. 67 (Suet. Nero 19 sq.; Jos. the thirteenth year of Nero' i.e. before B. J. ii. 20.1). Oct. 67.
The Epistles of St Paul may be divided into four chronological groups, each group being separated from the next by an interval of about five years, each group again corresponding to a marked epoch in the Apostle's life, and representing a distinct phase in his teaching. To make my meaning clear, I give the scheme in a tabulated form:—
These dates are in some cases approximate only. Thus there is a possibility that 1 Thessalonians was written in A.d. 51, and 2 Thessalonians in Jld. 52; a possibility also that the Epistles of the First Roman Captivity should be antedated a year throughout; but upon the whole the above is the result which falls in best with the chronology of St Paul's life as given above; and the phenomenon which this result presents throws much light upon the way in which we should approach the study of Holy Scripture as the vehicle of Divine revelation.
In every inspired writing there are two elements, the human and the Divine, or, as it is sometimes expressed, the letter and the spirit; and the different views held of the doctrine of inspiration depend upon the prominence given to one or the other of these elements, and the judgment formed of their mutual relations. Hence it will be seen that no conceivable shade of opinion is excluded, and every attempt at classifying these views must be more or less fallacious. But it will be sufficiently exact for our present purpose roughly to assume a threefold division in the attitude taken by writers on this question—in the first of these the Divine element being too exclusively considered, in the second this undue prominence being assigned to the human agency, and in the third, and only adequate view of inspiration, each of these elements being recognised in its proper sphere and the two harmoniously combined. The first of these views is irrational, the second is rationalistic, the third alone is in accordance alike with the highest reason and the fullest faith.
The irrational view—that which loses sight of the human agency—is prior in time (I am speaking now of modern criticism) to the rationalistic. It refuses to recognise any peculiarities in the individual writer who is under the guidance of the Spirit; it is insensible to any varieties in style, any difference in the method of treatment in different books of Holy Scripture. It reduces the whole Bible to one uniform colour. It is needless to say that such a view must fall at once before the assaults of criticism. If this were all, it might be borne patiently, but unhappily it has dragged down the tottering faith of not a few in its fall. It may also be said that it is derogatory to the majesty of God, that it has no support from analogy in His workings elsewhere, and no authority from Holy Scripture itself.
This theory of inspiration provokes a reaction. The rationalistic view is the natural consequence of its exaggerated form. In this the human element is put so prominently forward that the Divine is obscured. The Divine agency is perhaps not actually denied, but it is so virtually. By indefinitely extending the action of inspiration, it is in fact rendered meaningless. It is allowed that Moses and David, that St Paul and St John, were inspired, but then the same privilege is claimed for Homer and iEschylus, for Pythagoras and Plato. Now I should be the last L. E. 15
to deny that whatever is good, whatever is beautiful, whatever is true in the heathen writers is derived from the primal source of all beauty, truth and goodness. I have been taught—and I fully believe it—that every good gift and every perfect gift cometh from above. But practically there is such a vast difference between the illumination of the apostle and prophet, and the illumination of the philosopher and poet, that to call both by the same term 'inspiration,' instead of tending to clear our conceptions, does in fact leave a very erroneous impression on our minds. Inspiration is thus emptied of its significance.
The true view is a mean between these extremes, or rather it is a combination of the two. It recognises the element of truth which each contains, adopting and uniting the elements. And it recognises them too in all their fulness. It does not assign less power to the Divine agency, nor does it ignore any of the characteristics of the human instrument. The truth is one, but it has many sides. One man is more fitted than another by natural endowments to appreciate it from some particular point of view. No man is capable of seeing it from every side, else he becomes more than a man. The Holy Spirit has chosen His instruments, as Christ chose His Apostles, for their natural gifts, whether intellectual or spiritual, and has inspired them for our instruction and guidance. But He has not destroyed their individuality. Each with his special message to deliver, they become fit instruments under Divine guidance to develop a particular aspect of the truth, and we may suppose, without presumption, that they had each their part assigned them, according to their natural capabilities and acquirements, in penning the volume of Holy Scripture, as we know that they had in rearing the fabric of the Church.
To sum up and to apply what has been said. Inspiration is not a mechanical power or a magical agency. It does not use men merely as its instruments. It is a moral and spiritual power. It does not transmute its agents: it moulds them. Hence, as a natural result arising from the varied circumstances and training of the inspired writers, it is not uniform. And, for a right appreciation of the lessons of Holy Scripture, three stages in this absence of uniformity must be recognised. First, there is a growth from age to age. From the Law we advance to the prophets; from the prophets to the Gospels. Thus inspiration is developed. Secondly, there is a diversity of inspiration in different persons in the same age. One sacred writer, St Paul, views the Gospel as the abrogation of the Law; another, St James, as its fulfilment. They are not contradictory, but complementary the one to the other, for the Gospel is at once the abrogation and the fulfilment of the Law. One Evangelist, St John, dwells chiefly on the Eternal Sonship of the Saviour; another, St Luke, on His human tenderness and His sympathy with our infirmities. They are both true, for He is very God and very Man. Thus they have different functions to perform; their office is to set forth the Gospel message from different points of view, which are determined by their respective positions and characters. Thirdly, there is a diversity in the same writer in different stages in his career. When we apply this principle to St Paul, we discover on examination that he exhibits a historical development in his teaching. By the word 'development' is meant, not that St Paul added to his doctrines, but that he altered the lights in which he placed them, making one point more prominent at one time than at another. The whole doctrine is there from the first implicitly involved in the fundamental conception of the person of Christ, but the particular aspects are brought into special prominence, as they are called out at different times by the exigencies of external circumstances.
These external circumstances are twofold; first, the varying requirements of the Church at large, secondly, the altered conditions of the Apostle's own life. These are the two forces through which inspiration acts upon the development of St Paul's teaching; and the progress in his case I have endeavoured to express in the watchwords which I have attached above to the four groups of Epistles—' The Tribunal,''The Cross,' 'The Throne,''The Congregation.'
For the sake of convenience we will set aside the chronological order, and consider, at the outset, the first and the fourth group of his Epistles. The doctrine of the Epistles to the Thessalonians throughout is the Second Advent, 'Christ the Judge.' This is the one prominent idea which runs through this pair of letters from end to end. Similarly, the purpose of the Pastoral Epistles is ecclesiastical organization. In the light of the external circumstances of the Church at the two periods involved, the reasons for this striking difference between the two groups are hardly less obvious than the fact of its existence.
It is only natural that the doctrine of the Second Advent should occur early in the Pauline Epistles. And this for several reasons. The Resurrection was the central point in the teaching of the Twelve after the Day of Pentecost, and the Resurrection naturally suggested its necessary correlative, the Second Coming of Christ. Again, the doctrine of the Second Advent involved the doctrine of rewards for faithful service in the infancy of the Church. When persecution was rife, the disciples would need the necessary incentive to steadfastness under trial which such a promise brought with it. Thirdly, the expectation of the Second Advent implied the call to repentance, and therefore found its natural place in the forefront of St Paul's early teaching, just as the Baptist's cry 'Repent' preceded our Lord's ministry. Thus, in his discourse on the Areopagus, St Paul, after drawing attention to God's presence in nature, goes on to point the moral of the special doctrine of revelation as repentance resulting upon Christ's coming to judgment1. Lastly, Messianic hopes had to be satisfied. Hitherto, externally everything had ended in disappointment. The King had suffered a malefactor's death; and the Ascension, which followed upon the triumph of the Resurrection, was, to Jewish Christians, if not a negation, at least a deferring, of the promised kingdom of God. Thus the Second Advent became the answer to Messianic expectations.1 Acts xvii. 30, 31.
And if the Second Advent furnished the natural theme for St Paul's earliest Epistles, not less obvious is it why his latest utterances should have been devoted to the question of the organization of the Church. A study of the history of the Church at this period shows a growing restlessness both in thought and action, synchronizing with the withdrawal of the teachers most competent to check these disorders. Schisms and heresies were starting into life within the fold, and meanwhile the apostolate was dying out. Therefore a double necessity was laid upon 'Paul the aged' to meet this danger by strengthening and developing the Church's system of government. If we look at the Pastoral Epistles, we find no new doctrine inculcated. The two notes which are struck again and again are (1) ' Hold fast the tradition' (rrjv irapadrjKrjv <j>vXa!;ov 1 Tim. vi. 20, 2 Tim. i. 14), and (2) 'Preserve order in the Church.' In short, this group of Epistles constitutes St Paul's last will and testament, in which he gives his final instructions for the maintenance and continuity of the faith.
Thus the two letters to the Thessalonians and the Pastoral Epistles may be entitled the preface and the postscript respectively to the Pauline literature, its prologue and its epilogue. We have now cleared the ground, and may pass on to consider the second and third of the groups of Epistles, which contain the main substance of the Apostle's doctrine. And here a somewhat fuller explanation will be necessary. The ancient Greek Fathers divided what we call by the general name of 'Theology' into two distinct provinces, oiKovojiia and deoXoyla. The first of these two terms points, as its derivation implies, to a Divine dispensation. The Church is, in effect, the household (6 Oikos) of God, and f] oUovojila is the plan by which God rules His household. It is the means whereby God ransoms from sin. It includes the dispensation of the gifts and graces of the Spirit which form part of the Divine 'household-stuff.' On the other hand, as understood by the Fathers, 17 deoXoyia directed itself to the contemplation of Christ's Eternal Being—His relation to the Father and the Holy Spirit before the worlds were made. It was in this technical sense of the word that Gregory of Nazianzus and St John alike procured the title of 6 deoXoyos. Thus the spheres in which the two sciences move are different. The one centres round the Incarnation and embraces all that flows therefrom; the other, taking for its theme the Divine attributes of Christ, pierces behind the Incarnation to the Eternal, Pre-existent Word. This twofold division in the province of Theology has its counterpart in the two groups of St Paul's Epistles with which we are now concerned. The distinctive feature of the Epistles of the Third Missionary Journey is the stress laid upon oUovofiia; on the other hand, the Epistles of the First Roman Captivity deal mainly with dedkoyia. I have therefore given as its leading characteristic to the one group, 'the Cross,' to the other, 'the Throne.'
Justification, Atonement, Sacrifice—the vast majority of passages which bear upon these doctrines are to be found in the Epistles of the second group. And if we turn to the circumstances of the Church at the period at which they were written, the reason becomes obvious. This was the time of St Paul's great conflict with Judaism on the one hand and Hellenism on the other. The Cross of Christ contains the complete answer to the error of both, to the formalism of the one and the antinomianism of the other. 'Christ died for us'—here is the reply to the legalism of the Jew, setting forth that the true ground of Christian hope is faith, not works; 'we must die with Christ'—here is the reply to the license of the Greek, exhibiting as it does the true motive of life. In short, there is a work done for us, and a work done in us. The two must not be separated. Christ's righteousness, so St Paul tells us, cannot become our righteousness, unless we become one with Christ, unless we live in Christ. It is this repose in Christ which makes sin impossible. This is St Paul's doctrine. He never sacrifices the one proposition to the other. When he dwells on the truth 'Christ died for us,' he is ever mindful of its correlative 'We must die with Christ,' i.e. die to self and to sin. He never separates the religious belief from the moral change. Nay, he cannot conceive of the two as separated. For faith in Christ is a moral as well as an intellectual state, and with St Paul its moral aspect is in fact the more prominent of the two. So that not 'justification by faith' so much as 'dying and living with Christ''oneness with Christ' may be regarded as the central point of his Gospel. This is the meaning of his constantly repeated phrase 'in the Lord,' ' in Christ' (eV Kvpt'p, iv X/3ioto5)\ and this fact it is which, when once realised, makes it impossible even to suspect an opposition between St Paul and St James in their fundamental views, though the verbal statement of them is at first sight different8. The two propositions of the antithesis contain the answer to the two fundamental errors of the Jew and the Gentile. The Jewish error, which was dogmatic, rested upon a false ground of hope. The Hellenic error, which was practical, sprang from a false theory of life. The Jewish convert said,' We are saved by the works of the law.' St Paul's answer is,'No: Christ died for us. A work has been done for us by God; and we are saved by faith in Christ' (meaning thereby, faith in Christ, with all that the idea conveys with it). The Gentile convert said,' We are no longer under the works of the law. We are free to do as we like; let us sin that grace may abound.' 'No,' replies the Apostle, 'we must die with Christ; Christ's work must be done in us.' Thus the danger of the one was bondage; the danger of the other license. These respective errors he meets separately in writing to the Galatians and to the Corinthians.1. Finally in the Epistle to the Romans the composite character of the Church which he addressed compelled him to combine the two aspects, and to treat them in a full exposition.
1 "Ev Kvplip Bom. xiv. 14, xvi. 2, 8, Hence Luther's saying 'Sin, and sin
11,12,13,22; 1 Cor. iv. 17, vii. 22, 39, boldly,' though Luther himself was
i*. 1, 2, xi. 11, xv. 58, xvi. 19; 2 Cor. anything but antinomian. Mr M.
ii. 12 etc.; iv Xpurry Bom. iii. 24, vi. Arnold justly protests against this
11, 23, viii. 1, 2, 39, ix. 1, xii. 5, xv. 17, perversion, this one-sided view, of St
xvi. 3, 7, 10; 1 Cor. i. 2, 4, 30, iii. 1, Paul's doctrine, and all its dangerous
iv. 10, 15, 17, xv. 18, 19, 31; 2 Cor. ii. consequences, dangerous to practice
17, v. 17, xii. 2, 19 etc. and dangerous to belief, for it has
2 Some modern teachers however, done more than almost anything else
alleging his name, have forgotten the to repel the moral sense. On the
one proposition or the other. Taking other hand, Mr M. Arnold himself, it
justification by faith and by faith alone seems to me, has thrown the other
as theirwatchword.they have produced, proposition 'Christ died for us' alittle
as an extreme result, antinomianism. too much into the background.
The watchword of the one Epistle is 'Liberty, not license'; of the other 'Not license, but liberty,' though in neither is the antithetical proposition suppressed
And side by side with the special questions which were agitating the Church at large at this crisis of her history, must be set the particular circumstances of the Apostle's life. This was its most tumultuous period, a time of constant travel, of bitter personal opposition, of ceaseless activities of every kind. All this combined to fit him at this time to be the exponent of this particular side of Gospel truth.
We turn to the third group of Epistles, and at once we notice a change of subject-matter. The metaphysical, mystical, contemplative aspects of the Gospel are brought out into special prominence. In place of the lessons of soteriology and redemption which we meet with in the Epistles of the Third Missionary Journey, Christ is exhibited as the Eternal Word, as God manifest in the flesh3, and, as the corollary upon this teaching, is set forth the union of the individual and the Church with God through Christ8. Christ's reign in heaven, His preexistence, His omnipotence, form the Apostle's theme rather than His life on earth, His humiliation, the example of His perfect character. The Church militant is for the time lost in the Church triumphant. As before, the secret of this change of thought is to be found in the altered conditions of the Apostle's life and the Church's needs. A lengthened term of imprisonment, first at Caesarea, then at Rome, had succeeded upon a period of bustling, strained activity.
1 Contrast generally Gal. ii. 15 sq corrective), ix. 19, 21, x. 14, 16, 23, 32,
(w. 19, 20 supply the corrective), iii. 2, xi. 3, xii. 12,27, 2 Cor. i. 5, iv. 10—12,
10 sq, v. 8—6, 11 13 sq, 16 sq v. 17—20 (v. 21 corrective), corrective), vi. 14, with 1 Cor. v. 6, 7 3 Cf. Eph. i. 10, 20-23, iii. 15, iv. 15,
(». 7 ital yip Ta riffxa corrective), vi. vi. 9; Phil. ii. 6 sq; Col. i. 15 sq,
9 sq (v. 11 corrective), 15 sq (v. 20 ii. 9 sq, iii. 1, 4, etc. corrective), vii. 19, 23, viii. 8, 9 («. 11 3 Cf. Phil. iii. 20; Eph. ii. 19, etc.
In God's good providence St Paul was enjoying a season of uninterrupted rest, which gave the opportunity for a contemplation of the highest mysteries of the faith. The most tranquil period of his life supervened upon the most tumultuous. The Epistle to the Ephesians is the expression of the one period, the Second Epistle to the Corinthians is the reflection of the other. But the consideration that the Apostle's frame of mind at this time would naturally lead him to the study of metaphysical speculation must not blind us to the propriety of this study in relation to the altered conditions of the Church. The foe from which she had most to fear now was no longer Judaism or Hellenism, but Orientalism, that mystic, theosophic speculation with regard to angelic, intermediate beings between God and man which was afterwards known as Gnosticism and reached its climax in the fantastic systems of Basilides and Valentinus, That this was the case is evident when we consider the character of the heresy in the Colossian Church, against which St Paul argues in his Epistle to that Church. In order therefore to confront these false doctrines, it was necessary for the Apostle to show that there was only one link between God and man, Christ manifest in the flesh, and that there was no room for the successive emanations, in the creation of which his opponents delighted to indulge their elaborate fancy.