|Noah Webster's Dictionary|
1. (a.) Preceding all others of a series or kind; the ordinal of one; earliest; as, the first day of a month; the first year of a reign.
2. (a.) Foremost; in front of, or in advance of, all others.
3. (a.) Most eminent or exalted; most excellent; chief; highest; as, Demosthenes was the first orator of Greece.
4. (adv.) Before any other person or thing in time, space, rank, etc.; -- much used in composition with adjectives and participles.
5. (n.) The upper part of a duet, trio, etc., either vocal or instrumental; -- so called because it generally expresses the air, and has a preeminence in the combined effect.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
CORINTHIANS, FIRST EPISTLE TO THE
I. AUTHENTICITY OF THE TWO EPISTLES
1. External Evidence
2. Internal Evidence
3. Consent of Criticism
4. Ultra-Radical Attack (Dutch School)
II. TEXT OF 1 AND 2 CORINTHIANS
Integrity of 1 Corinthians
III. PAUL'S PREVIOUS RELATIONS WITH CORINTH
1. Corinth in 55 A.D.
2. Founding of the Church
IV. DATE OF THE EPISTLE
V. OCCASION OF THE EPISTLE
1. A Previous Letter
2. Letter from Corinth
1. General Character
2. Order and Division
(1) 1 Corinthians 1-6
(2) 1 Corinthians 7-10
(3) 1 Corinthians 11-16
VII. DISTINGUISHING FEATURES
1. Party Spirit
2. Christian Conscience
3. Power of the Cross
I. Authenticity of the Two Epistles.
1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians and Romans, all belong to the period of Paul's third missionary journey. They are the most remarkable of his writings, and are usually distinguished as the four great or principal epistles; a distinction which not only is a tribute to their high originality and intrinsic worth, but also indicates the extremely favorable opinion which critics of almost all schools have held regarding their authenticity. Throughout the centuries the tradition has remained practically unbroken, that they contain the very pectus Paulinum, the mind and heart of the great apostle of the Gentiles, and preserve to the church an impregnable defense of historical Christianity. What has to be said of their genuineness applies almost equally to both.
1. External Evidence:
The two epistles have a conspicuous place in the most ancient lists of Pauline writings. In the Muratorian Fragment (circa 170) they stand at the head of the nine epistles addressed to churches, and are declared to have been written to forbid heretical schism (primum omnium Corinthiis schisma haeresis intredicens); and in Marcion's Apostolicon (circa 140) they stand second to Gal. They are also clearly attested in the most important writings of the subapostolic age, e.g. by Clement of Rome (circa 95), generally regarded as the friend of the apostle mentioned in Philippians 4:3; Ignatius (Ad Ephes., chapter xviii, second decade of 2nd century); Polycarp (chapters ii, vi, xi, first half of 2nd century), a disciple of John; and Justin Martyr (born at close of let century); while the Gnostic Ophites (2nd century) were clearly familiar with both epistles (compare Westcott, Canon, passim, and Index II; also Charteris, Canonicity, 222-224, where most of the original passages are brought together). The witness of Clement is of the highest importance. Ere the close of the let century he himself wrote a letter to the Corinthians, in which (chapter xlvii, Lightfoot's edition, 144) he made a direct appeal to the authority of 1 Cor: "Take up the letter of Paul the blessed apostle; what did he write to you first in the beginning of the gospel? Verily he gave you spiritual direction regarding himself, Cephas, and Apollos, for even then you were dividing yourselves into parties." It would be impossible to desire more explicit external testimony.
2. Internal Evidence:
Within themselves both epistles are replete with marks of genuineness. They are palpitating human documents, with the ring of reality from first to last. They admirably harmonize with the independent narrative of Acts; in the words of Schleiermacher (Einltg., 148), "The whole fits together and completes itself perfectly, and yet each of the documents follows its own course, and the data contained in the one cannot be borrowed from those of the other." Complex and difficult as the subjects and circumstances sometimes are, and varying as the moods of the writer are in dealing with them, there is a naturalness that compels assent to his good faith. The very difficulty created for a modern reader by the incomplete and allusive character of some of the references is itself a mark of genuineness rather than the opposite; just what would most likely be the ease in a free and intimate correspondence between those who understood one another in the presence of immediate facts which needed no careful particularization; but what would almost as certainly have been avoided in a fictitious composition. Indeed a modicum of literary sense suffices to forbid classification among the pseudepigrapha. To take but a few instances from many, it is impossible to read such passages as those conveying the remonstrance in 1 Corinthians 9, the alternations of anxiety and relief in connection with the meeting of Titus in 2 Corinthians 2 and 7, or the ever-memorable passage which begins at 2 Corinthians 11:24 of the same epistle: "Of the Jews five times received I," ere, without feeling that the hypothesis of fiction becomes an absurdity. No man ever wrote out of the heart if this writer did not. The truth is that theory of pseudonymity leaves far more difficulties behind it than any it is supposed to solve. The unknown and unnamable literary prodigy of the 2nd century, who in the most daring and artistic manner gloried in the fanciful creation of those minute and life-like details which have imprinted themselves indelibly on the memory and imagination of mankind, cannot be regarded as other than a chimera. No one knows where or when he lived, or in what shape or form. But if the writings are the undoubted rescripts of fact, to whose life and personality do they fit themselves more exquisitely than to those of the man whose name stands at their head, and whose compositions they claim to be? They suit beyond compare the apostle of the missionary journeys, the tender, eager, indomitable "prisoner of the Lord," and no other. No other that has even been suggested is more than the mere shadow of a name, and no two writers have as yet seriously agreed even as to the shadow. The pertinent series of questions with which Godet (Intro to New Testament; Studies on the Epistles, 305) concludes his remarks on the genuineness may well be repeated: "What use was it to explain at length in the 2nd century a change in a plan of the journey, which, supposing it was real, had interest only for those whom the promised visit of the apostle personally concerned? When the author speaks of five hundred persons who had seen the risen Christ, of whom the most part were still alive at the time when he was writing, is he telling his readers a mere story that would resemble a bad joke? What was the use of discussing at length and giving detailed rules on the exercise of the glossolalia at a time when that gift no longer existed, so to say, in the church? Why make the apostle say: `We who shall be alive (at the moment of the Parousia)' at a time when everyone knew that he was long dead? In fine, what church would have received without opposition into its archives, as an epistle of the apostle, half a century after his death, a letter unknown till then, and filled with reproaches most severe and humiliating to it?"
3. Consent of Criticism:
One is not surprised, therefore, that even the radical criticism of the 19th century cordially accepted the Corinthian epistles and their companions in the great group. The men who founded that criticism were under no conceivable constraint in such a conclusion, save the constraint of obvious and incontrovertible fact. The Tubingen school, which doubted or denied the authenticity of all the rest of the epistles, frankly acknowledged the genuineness of these. This also became the general verdict of the "critical" school which followed that of Tubingen, and which, in many branches, has included the names of the leading German scholars to this day. F. C. Baur's language (Paul, I, 246) was: "There has never been the slightest suspicion of unauthenticity cast on these four epistles, and they bear so incontestably the character of Pauline originality, that there is no conceivable ground for the assertion of critical doubts in their case." Renan (St. Paul, Introduction, V) was equally emphatic: "They are incontestable, and uncontested."
4. Ultra-Radical Attack (Dutch School):
Reference, however, must be made to the ultra-radical attack which has gathered some adherents, especially among Dutch scholars, during the last 25 years. As early as 1792 Evanson, a retired English clergyman, rejected Rome on the ground that, according to Acts, no church existed in Rome in Paul's day. Bruno Bauer (1850-51-52) made a more sweeping attack, relegating the whole of the four principal epistles to the close of the 2nd century. His views received little attention, until, in 1886 onward, they were taken up and extended by a series of writers in Holland, Pierson and Naber, and Loman, followed rapidly by Steck of Bern, Volter of Amsterdam, and above all by Van Manen of Leyden. According to these writers, with slight modifications of view among themselves, it is very doubtful if Paul or Christ ever really existed; if they did, legend has long since made itself master of their personalities, and in every case what borders on the supernatural is to be taken as the criterion of the legendary. The epistles were written in the 1st quarter of the 2nd century, and as Paul, so far as he was known, was believed to be a reformer of anti-Judaic sympathies, he was chosen as the patron of the movement, and the writings were published in his name. The aim of the whole series was to further the interests of a supposed circle of clever and elevated men, who, partly imbued with Hebrew ideals, and partly with the speculations of Greek and Alexandrian philosophy, desired the spread of a universalistic Christianity and true Gnosis. For this end they perceived it necessary that Jewish legalism should be neutralized, and that the narrow national element should be expelled from the Messianic idea. Hence, the epistles The principles on which the main contentions of the critics are based may be reduced to two:
(1) that there are relations in the epistles so difficult to understand that, since we cannot properly understand them, the epistles are not trustworthy; and
(2) that the religious and ecclesiastical development is so great that not merely 20 or 30 years, but 70 or 80 more, are required, if we are to be able rationally to conceive it: to accept the situation at an earlier date is simply to accept what cannot possibly have been.
It is manifest that on such principles it is possible to establish what one will, and that any historical literature might be proved untrustworthy, and reshaped according to the subjective idiosyncrasies of the critic. The underlying theory of intellectual development is too rigid, and is quite oblivious of the shocks it receives from actual facts, by the advent in history from time to time of powerful, compelling, and creative personalities, who rather mould their age than are moulded by it. None have poured greater ridicule on this "pseudo-Kritik" than the representatives of the advanced school in Germany whom it rather expected to carry with it, and against whom it complains bitterly that they do not take it seriously. On the whole the vagaries of the Dutch school have rather confirmed than shaken belief in these epistles; and one may freely accept Ramsay's view (HDB, I, 484) as expressing the modern mind regarding them, namely, that they are "the unimpeached and unassailable nucleus of admitted Pauline writings." (Reference to the following will give a sufficiently adequate idea of the Dutch criticism and the replies that have been made to it: Van Manen, EB, article "Paul," and Expository Times, IX, 205, 257, 314; Knowling, Witness of the Epistles; Clemen, Einheitlichkeit der p. B.; Sanday and Headlam, Romans, ICC; Godet, Julicher and Zahn, in their Introductions; Schmiedel and Lipsius in the Hand-Commentar.)
II. Text of 1 and 2 Corinthians:
Integrity of 1 Corinthians:
The text of both epistles comes to us in the most ancient VSS, the Syriac (Peshito), the Old Latin, and the Egyptian all of which were in very early use, undoubtedly by the 3rd century. It is complete in the great Greek uncials: Codex Sinaiticus (original scribe) and a later scribe, 4th century, Codex Vaticanus (B, 4th century), Codex Alexandrinus (A, 5th century, minus two verses, 2 Corinthians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:7), and very nearly complete in Codex Ephraemi (C, 5th century), and in the Greek-Latin Claromontanus (D, 6th century); as well as in numerous cursives. In both cases the original has been well preserved, and no exegetical difficulties of high importance are presented. (Reference should be made to the Introduction in Sanday and Headlam's Romans, ICC (1896), where section 7 gives valuable information concerning the text, not only of Roman, but of the Pauline epistles generally; also to the recent edition (Oxford, 1910), New Testament Graecae, by Souter, where the various readings of the text used in the Revised Version (British and American) (1881) are conveniently exhibited.) On the whole the text of 1 Corinthians flows on consistently, only at times, in a characteristic fashion, winding back upon itself, and few serious criticisms are made on its unity, although the case is different in this respect with its companion epistle Some writers, on insufficient grounds, believe that 1 Corinthians contains relics of a previous epistle (compare 1 Corinthians 5:9), e.g. in 1 Corinthians 7:17-24; 1 Corinthians 9:1-10:22; 15:1-55.
III. Paul's Previous Relations with Corinth.
1. Corinth in 55 A.D.:
When, in the course of his 2nd missionary journey, Paul left Athens (Acts 18:1), he sailed westward to Cenchrea, and entered Corinth "in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling" (1 Corinthians 2:3). He was doubtless alone, although Silas and Timothy afterward joined him (Acts 18:5 2 Corinthians 1:19). The ancient city of Corinth had been utterly laid in ruins when Rome subjugated Greece in the middle of the 2nd century B.C. But in the year 46 B.C. Caesar had caused it to be rebuilt and colonized in the Roman manner, and during the century that had elapsed it had prospered and grown enormously. Its population at this time has been estimated at between 600,000 and 700,000, by far the larger portion of whom were slaves. Its magnificent harbors, Cenchrea and Lechaeum, opening to the commerce of East and West, were crowded with ships, and its streets with travelers and merchants from almost every country under heaven. Even in that old pagan world the reputation of the city was bad; it has been compared (Baring-Gould, Study of Paul, 241) to an amalgam of new-market, Chicago and Paris, and probably it contained the worst features of each. At night it was made hideous by the brawls and lewd songs of drunken revelry. In the daytime its markets and squares swarmed with Jewish peddlers, foreign traders, sailors, soldiers, athletes in training, boxers, wrestlers, charioteers, racing-men, betting-men, courtesans, slaves, idlers and parasites of every description. The corrupting worship of Aphrodite, with its hordes of hierodouloi, was dominant, and all over the Greek-Roman world, "to behave as a Corinthian" was a proverbial synonym for leading a low, shameless and immoral life. Very naturally such a polluted and idolatrous environment accounts for much that has to be recorded of the semi-pagan and imperfect life of many of the early converts.
2. Founding of the Church:
Paul was himself the founder of the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 3:6, 10). Entering the city with anxiety, and yet with almost audacious hopefulness, he determined to know nothing among its people save Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). Undoubtedly he was conscious that the mission of the Cross here approached its crisis. If it could abide here, it could abide anywhere. At first he confined himself to working quietly at his trade, and cultivating the friendship of Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:2 f); then he opened his campaign in the synagogue where he persuaded both Jews and Greeks, and ultimately, when opposition became violent, carried it on in the house of Titus Justus, a proselyte. He made deep impressions, and gradually gathered round him a number who were received into the faith (Acts 18:7, 8 1 Corinthians 1:14-16). The converts were drawn largely but not entirely from the lower or servile classes (1 Corinthians 1:26; 1 Corinthians 7:21); they included Crispus and Sosthenes, rulers of the synagogue, Gaius, and Stephanas with his household, "the firstfruits of Achaia" (1 Corinthians 16:15). He regarded himself joyfully as the father of this community (1 Corinthians 4:14, 15), every member of which seemed to him like his own child.
IV. Date of the Epistle.
After a sojourn of eighteen months (Acts 18:11) in this fruitful field, Paul departed, most probably in the year 52 (compare Turner, article "Chron. New Testament," HDB, I, 422), and, having visited Jerusalem and returned to Asia Minor (third journey), established himself for a period of between two and three years (trietia, Acts 20:31) in Ephesus (Acts 18:18 onward). It was during his stay there that his epistle was written, either in the spring (pre-Pentecost, 1 Corinthians 16:8) of the year in which he left, 55; or, if that does not give sufficient interval for a visit and a letter to Corinth, which there is considerable ground for believing intervened between 1 Corinthians and the departure from Ephesus, then in the spring of the preceding year, 54. This would give ample time for the conjectured events, and there is no insuperable reason against it. Pauline chronology is a subject by itself, but the suggested dates for the departure from Ephesus, and for the writing of 1 Corinthians, really fluctuate between the years 53 and 57. Harnack (Gesch. der altchrist. Litt., II; Die Chron., I) and McGiffert (Apos Age) adopt the earlier date; Ramsay (St. Paul the Traveler), 56; Lightfoot (Bib. Essays) and Zahn (Einl.), 57; Turner (ut supra), 55. Many regard 57 as too late, but Robertson (HDB, I, 485-86) still adheres to it.
V. Occasion of the Epistle.
1. A Previous Letter:
After Paul's departure from Corinth, events moved rapidly, and far from satisfactorily. He was quite cognizant of them. The distance from Ephesus was not great-about eight days' journey by sea-and in the constant coming and going between the cities news of what was transpiring must frequently have come to his ears. Members of the household of Chloe are distinctly mentioned (1 Corinthians 1:11) as having brought tidings of the contentions that prevailed, and there were no doubt other informants. Paul was so concerned by what he heard that he sent Timothy on a conciliatory mission with many commendations (1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10 f), although the present epistle probably reached Corinth first. He had also felt impelled, in a letter (1 Corinthians 5:9) which is now lost, to send earnest warning against companying with the immoral. Moreover, Apollos, after excellent work in Corinth, had come to Ephesus, and was received as a brother by the apostle (1 Corinthians 3:5, 6; 1 Corinthians 16:12). Equally welcome was a deputation consisting of Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus (1 Corinthians 16:17), from whom the fullest information could be gained, and who were the probable bearers of a letter from the church of Corinth itself (1 Corinthians 7:1), appealing for advice and direction on a number of points.
2. Letter from Corinth:
This letter has not been preserved, but it was evidently the immediate occasion of our epistle, and its tenor is clearly indicated by the nature of the apostle's reply. (The letter, professing to be this letter to Paul, and its companion, professing to be Paul's own lost letter just referred to, which deal with Gnostic heresies, and were for long accepted by the Syrian and Armenian churches, are manifestly apocryphal. (Compare Stanley's Corinthians, Appendix; Harnack's Gesch. der altchrist. Litt., I, 37-39, and II, 506-8; Zahn, Einleitung., I, 183-249; Sanday, Encyclopedia Biblica, I, 906-7.) If there be any relic in existence of Paul's previous letter, it is possibly to be found in the passage 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; at all events that passage may be regarded as reminiscent of its style and message.) So that 1 Corinthians is no bow drawn at a venture. It treats of a fully understood, and, on the whole, of a most unhappy situation. The church had broken into factions, and was distracted by party cries. Some of its members were living openly immoral lives, and discipline was practically in abeyance. Others had quarrels over which they dragged one another into the heathen courts. Great differences of opinion had also arisen with regard to marriage and the social relations generally; with regard to banquets and the eating of food offered to idols; with regard to the behavior of women in the assemblies, to the Lord's Supper and the love-feasts, to the use and value of spiritual gifts, and with regard to the hope of the resurrection. The apostle was filled with grief and indignation, which the too complacent tone of the Corinthians only intensified. They discussed questions in a lofty, intellectual way, without seeming to perceive their real drift, or the life and spirit which lay imperiled at their heart. Resisting the impulse to visit them "with a rod" (2 Corinthians 4:21), the apostle wrote the present epistle, and dispatched it, if not by the hands of Stephanas and his comrades, most probably by the hands of Titus.
1. General Character:
In its general character the epistle is a strenuous writing, masterly in its restraint in dealing with opposition, firm in its grasp of ethical and spiritual principles, and wise and faithful in their application. It is calm, full of reasoning, clear and balanced in judgment; very varied in its lights and shadows, in its kindness, its gravity, its irony. It moves with firm tread among the commonest themes, but also rises easily into the loftiest spheres of thought and vision, breaking again and again into passages of glowing and rhythmical eloquence. It rebukes error, exposes and condemns sin, solves doubts, upholds and encourages faith, and all in a spirit of the utmost tenderness and love, full of grace and truth. It is broad in its outlook, penetrating in its insight, unending in its interest and application.
2. Order and Division:
It is also very orderly in its arrangement, so that it is not difficult to follow the writer as he advances from point to point. Weizsacker (Apos Age, I, 324-25) suggestively distinguishes the matter into
(1) subjects introduced by the letter from Corinth, and
(2) those on which Paul had obtained information otherwise.
He includes three main topics in the first class: marriage, meat offered to idols and spiritual gifts (there is a fourth-the logia or collection, 1 Corinthians 16:1); six in the second class: the factions, the case of incest, the lawsuits, the free customs of the women, the abuse connected with the Supper and the denial of the resurrection. It is useful, however, to adhere to the sequence of the epistle In broadly outlining the subject-matter we may make a threefold division:
(1) chapters 1-6;
(2) chapters 7-10; and
(3) chapter 11 through end.
(1) 1 Corinthians 1-6:
After salutation, in which he associates Sosthenes with himself, and thanksgiving for the grace given to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:1-9), Paul immediately begins (1 Corinthians 1:10-13) to refer to the internal divisions among them, and to the unworthy and misguided party cries that had arisen. (Many theories have been formed as to the exact significance of the so-called "Christus-party," a party whose danger becomes more obvious in 2 Cor. Compare Meyer-Heinrici, Comm., 8th edition; Godet, Intro, 250; Stanley, Cor, 29-30; Farrar, Paul, chapter xxxi; Pfleiderer, Paulinism, II, 28-31; Weiss, Intro, I, 259-65; Weizsacker, Apos Age, I, 325-33, and 354. Weizsacker holds that the name indicates exclusive relation to an authority, while Baur and Pfleiderer argue that it was a party watchword (virtually Petrine) taken to bring out the apostolic inferiority of Paul. On the other hand a few scholars maintain that the name does not, strictly speaking, indicate a party at all but rather designates those who were disgusted at the display of all party spirit, and with whom Paul was in hearty sympathy. SeeMcGiffert, Apos Age, 295-97.) After denouncing this petty partisanship, Paul offers an elaborate defense of his own ministry, declaring the power and wisdom of God in the gospel of the Cross (1:14-2:16), returning in chapter 3 to the spirit of faction, showing its absurdity and narrowness in face of the fullness of the Christian heritage in "all things" that belong to them as belonging to Christ; and once more defending his ministry in chapter 4, making a touching appeal to his readers as his "beloved children," whom he had begotten through the gospel. In chapter 5 he deals with the case of a notorious offender, guilty of incest, whom they unworthily harbor in their midst, and in the name of Christ demands that they should expel him from the church, pointing out at the same time that it is against the countenancing of immorality within the church membership that he specially warns, and had previously warned in his former epistle Ch 6 deals with the shamefulness of Christian brethren haling one another to the heathen courts, and not rather seeking the settlement of their differences within themselves; reverting once more in the closing verses to the subject of unchastity, which irrepressibly haunts him as he thinks of them.
(2) 1 Corinthians 7-10:
In 1 Corinthians 7 he begins to reply to two of the matters on which the church had expressly consulted him in its ep., and which he usually induces by the phrase peri de, "now concerning." The first of these bears (chapter 7) upon celibacy and marriage, including the case of "mixed" marriage. These questions he treats quite frankly, yet with delicacy and circumspection, always careful to distinguish between what he has received as the direct word of the Lord, and what he only delivers as his own opinion, the utterance of his own sanctified common-sense, yet to which the good spirit within him gives weight. The second matter on which advice was solicited, questions regarding eidolothuta, meats offered to idols, he discusses in chapter 8, recurring to it again in chapter 10 to end. The scruples and casuistries involved he handles with excellent wisdom, and lays down a rule for the Christian conscience of a far-reaching kind, happily expressed: "All things are lawful; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful; but not all things edify. Let no man seek his own, but each his neighbor's good" (10:23, 14). By lifting their differences into the purer atmosphere of love and duty, he causes them to dissolve away. Chapter 9 contains another notable defense of his apostleship, in which he asserts the principle that the Christian ministry has a claim for its support on those to whom it ministers, although in his own case he deliberately waived his right, that no challenge on such a matter should be possible among them. The earlier portion of chapter 10 contains a reference to Jewish idolatry and sacramental abuse, in order that the evils that resulted might point a moral, and act as a solemn warning to Christians in relation to their own rites.
(3) 1 Corinthians 11-16:
The third section deals with certain errors and defects that had crept into the inner life and observances of the church, also with further matters on which the Corinthians sought guidance, namely, spiritual gifts and the collection for the saints. 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 has regard to the deportment of women and their veiling in church, a matter which seems to have occasioned some difficulty, and which Paul deals with in a manner quite his own; passing thereafter to treat of graver and more disorderly affairs, gross abuses in the form of gluttony and drunkenness at the Lord's Supper, which leads him, after severe censure, to make his classic reference to that sacred ordinance (verse 20 to end). Chapter 12 sets forth the diversity, yet true unity, of spiritual gifts, and the confusion and jealousy to which a false conception of them inevitably leads, obscuring that "most excellent way," the love which transcends them all, which never faileth, the greatest of the Christian graces, whose praise he chants in language of surpassing beauty (chapter 13). He strives also, in the following chapter, to correct the disorder arising from the abuse of the gift of tongues, many desiring to speak at once, and many speaking only a vain babble which no one could understand, thinking themselves thereby highly gifted. It is not edifying: "I had rather," he declares, "speak five words with my understanding, that I might instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue" (1 Corinthians 14:19). Thereafter follows the immortal chapter on the resurrection, which he had learned that some denied (1 Corinthians 15:12). He anchors the faith to the resurrection of Christ as historic fact, abundantly attested (verses 3-8), shows how all-essential it is to the Christian hope (verses 13-19), and then proceeds by reasoning and analogy to brush aside certain naturalistic objections to the great doctrine, "then they that are Christ's, at his coming" (verse 23), when this mortal shall have put on immortality, and death be swallowed up in victory (verse 54). The closing chapter gives directions as to the collection for the saints in Jerusalem, on which his heart was deeply set, and in which he hoped the Corinthians would bear a worthy share. He promises to visit them, and even to tarry the winter with them. He then makes a series of tender personal references, and so brings the great epistle to a close.
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ESDRAS, THE FIRST BOOK OF
1. Name 2. Contents 3. Relation to Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah 4. Versions 5. Date and Authorship
In some of the Greek uncials (Codex Vaticanus, etc.) of the Septuagint the book is called Esdras, Codex Alexandrinus (or Proton); so in the editions of Fritzsche, Tischendorf, Nestle and Swete. It is absent from Codex Sinaiticus and in Codex Alexandrinus its name is Ho Hiereus = The Priest, i.e. Ezra, who is emphatically the priest. It is also called 1 Esdras in the old Latin and Syriac VSS, as well as in the English, Welsh and other modern translations. In the English and other Protestant Bibles which generally print the Apocrypha apart, this book stands first in the Apocrypha under the influence partly of its name, and in part on account of its contents, as it seemed a suitable link between the canonical and the apocryphal writings. The English 2 Esdras is the apocalyptic Esdras and stands immediately after the English and Greek 1 Esdras. The Vulgate, following Jerome's version, gave the names 1, 2 and 3 Esdras to our Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 Esdras, respectively, and in editions of the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) down to that of Pope Sixtus (died 1590) these three books appear in that order. The name 3 Esdras is, therefore, that current in the Roman church, and it has the sanction of the 6th article of the Anglican Creed and of Miles Coverdale who in his translation follows the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) in naming the canonical Ezra, Nehemiah and the apocryphal 1 Esdras, 1, 2 and 3 Esdras, respectively. Other reformers adhered to these titles. In Fritzsche's commentary on the Apocrypha 3 Esdras is preferred and he treats this book first. In Kautzsch's German edition of the Apocrypha and in most recent German works the Latin designation 3 is revived. The English commentators Bissell (Lange) and Wace (Speaker's Commentary) follow the custom of the Bible and speak of 1 Esdras, placing the book first in the collection, and this is the prevailing custom among English Protestant theologians. The name 2 Esdras has also been given to this book, the canonical Ezra and Nehemiah being then counted as one-1 Esdras. See Origen quoted by HE, V, 25; Zunz, Der Gottesdienst, Vortrage Berlin, 1832, 15.
With the exception of 1 Esdras 3:1-5:6-the incident of the royal banquet and the contest for a prize of the three young men-the present books agree in everything essential, down to the minutest details, with the canonical Ezra and part of 2 Chronicles and Nehemiah. Before discussing the relation between 1 Esdras and the Biblical books named (see next section), it will be advantageous to give an outline of the book now specially under consideration, with reference to the parallel passages in the corresponding parts of the Canon. It will be seen that practically the whole of Ezra is concerned, and for explanations of the parts common to this book and to Ne reference may be made to the Century Bible Commentary on Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.
1. 1 Esdras 1 = 2 Chronicles 35:1-36:21 and maybe analyzed thus: 1 Esdras 1:1-20 = 2 Chronicles 35:1-19: Josiah's great Passover. 1 Esdras 1:21 has no exact parallel. 1 Esdras 1:23-31 = 2 Chronicles 35:20-27: The death of Josiah. This took place on the battlefield at Megiddo according to 2 Kings 23:29, but 1 Esdras 1:31 and 2 Chronicles 35:24 say he died at Jerusalem. 1 Esdras 1:32-58 = 2 Chronicles 36:1-21, closing years of the monarchy followed by the exile in Babylon.
2. 1 Esdras 2:1-15 = Ezra 1:1-11: The return from Babylon through the edict of Cyrus.
3. 1 Esdras 2:16-26 = Ezra 4:7-24. Certain Persian officials in Samaria induced King Artaxerxes I (died 424 B.C.) to stop the work of rebuilding the temple, which is not resumed until the second year of the reign of Darius Hystaspis (519 B.C.).
4. 1 Esdras 3:1-5:6 has no parallel in any part of the Old Testament. King Darius (Hystaspis?) makes a great feast, after which he returns to his bedchamber but finds sleeping very difficult. Three young men belonging to his bodyguard resolve each to make a sentence to be written down and placed under the king's pillow, so that upon rising from his bed he might hear the three sayings read to him. The question which each one seeks to answer is, What in this world is strongest? The first says it is "wine," the second, that it is "the king." The reply of the third is "woman, though strongest of all is truth" (from this arose the Latin saying Magna dst veritas et prevalebit). The third is declared the best, and as a reward the king offers him whatever he might wish. This young man happened to be Zerubbabel (Zorobabel), and the request that he makes is that King Darius might perform the vow which he made on coming to the throne to rebuild Jerusalem and its temple and to restore the sacred vessels removed to Babylon. This request is at once granted, and there follows an account of the home-coming of Jews exiled in Babylon and the protection accorded them by the Persian government similar to what we read of in 1 Esdras 1 as taking place in the reign of Cyrus. But many things in this narrative are striking and indeed odd. Zerubbabel is called a young man. Among those mentioned in 1 Esdras 5:5 Zerubbabel is not named, though his son Joakim is. In the very next verse (5:6) this Joakim is identified with the young man (Zerubbabel) who won the king's prize for writing the wisest sentence, though the sense is not quite clear; perhaps Zerubbabel is meant in 1 Esdras 5:6. Fritzsche argues that Joakim can alone be meant. This whole episode stands in no organic connection with the rest of 1 Esdras, and if it is omitted the narrative is continuous. Besides this the account given of the return from Babylon contradicts what is said in 1 Esdras 1 and the corresponding part of Ezra. We must regard 1 Esdras 3:1-5:6 as a Jewish haggadah which at an early time was written in the margin as supplying illustrative matter and then got incorporated into the text. Nevertheless, from a literary point of view this part of the book is the gem of the whole.
5. 1 Esdras 5:7-73 = Ezra 2-4:1-5: The names of those who returned with number of animals (horses, etc.) (1 Esdras 5:7-43); altar of burnt offering erected (1 Esdras 5:48); sacrifices offered on it (1 Esdras 5:50). Foundation of the temple laid (1 Esdras 5:56). The Jews refuse the offer of the Samaritan party to help in the rebuilding of the temple, with the result that this party had the work stopped (1 Esdras 5:66-73). Ezra 4:6-24 finds its parallel in 1 Esdras 2:16-30 (see above). 1 Esdras 2:30 and 5:73 are evidently duplicates.
6. 1 Esdras 6:1-7:15 = Ezra 5:1-6:22: Building of the temple resumed through the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah (1 Esdras 6:1). Persian officials unsuccessfully oppose the work (1 Esdras 6:3-34) which is soon completed, the temple being then dedicated (1 Esdras 7:1-11). Observance of the Passover (1 Esdras 7:12-15). Between 1 Esdras 7 and 8 there is an interval of some 60 years, for chapter 8 begins with the arrival of Ezra (458 B.C.).
7. 1 Esdras 8:1-67 = Ezra 7:1-8:36: Journey of Ezra and his party from Babylon to Jerusalem bearing letters of authority from King Artaxerxes I (died 424 B.C.) (1 Esdras 8:1-27); list of those who return (1 Esdras 8:28-40); gathering together of the party by the river Ahava; incidents of the journey; the arrival (1 Esdras 8:41).
8. 1 Esdras 8:68-90 = Ezra 9: Ezra's grief on hearing of the marriage of some Jews with foreign wives (1 Esdras 8:68-73). His confession and prayer (1 Esdras 8:74-90).
9. 1 Esdras 8:91-9:36 = Ezra 10: The means used to end the mixed marriages; lists of the men (priests and others) who had married strange wives.
10. 1 Esdras 9:37-55 = Nehemiah 7:73 b through 8:12: The reforms of Ezra. In the Canonical Scriptures Nehemiah 7:73 b through 10 gives the history of Ezra, not that of Nehemiah-the two never labored or lived together at Jerusalem. (The name Nehemiah in Nehemiah 8:9 and 10:1 is an evident interpolation.) In 1 Esdras Nehemiah is not once mentioned in this section. In 1 Esdras 9:49 (parallel Nehemiah 8:9) "Attharates" is the word used, and as a proper name (see 1 Esdras 5:40, "Nehemiah and Attharates"). The majority of modern scholars assign this section to Ezra, adding it to Ezra 10, or incorporating it into the Ezra narrative. So Ewald, Wellhausen, Schrader, Klostermann, Baudissin, Budde and Ryssel. The present writer defends this view in the Century Bible in Ezra-Nehemiah-Esther, 242. In this case 1 Esdras borrows from Chronicles and Ezra alone and not from Nehemiah. It should be remembered however that Ezra-Nehemiah formed originally but one book. Some will say that Chronicles preceded Ezra-Nehemiah as a single book, but for this there is no evidence (see Century Bible, 4). The last verse of 1 Esdras in all manuscripts ends in the middle of a sentence: "And they assembled." showing that the closing part of the book has been lost. The present writer suggests that the missing part is Nehemiah 8:13-10, which begins, "And on the second day were gathered together (assembled) the heads of fathers' houses," etc., the same verb being used in the Septuagint Greek of both passages with a very slight difference (episunechthesan, and sunechthesan, in Ezra and Esdras respectively).
3. The Relation to Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah:
Since Nehemiah 7:73 b through 8:12 belongs to the Book of Ezra (see above) describing the work of Ezra, not that of Nehemiah, the contents of 1 Esdras are parallel with those of Ezra alone with the exception of chapter 1 which agrees with 2 Chronicles 35:1-36:21. Various explanations have been offered, the following being the principal: (1) that 1 Esdras is a compilation based on the Septuagint of Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah: so Keil, Bissell and formerly Schurer (GJV, II, ii, 179; Herzog2, I, 496); the arguments for this opinion are well marshaled by Bissell in his Commentary on the Apocrypha (Lange); (2) that 1 Esdras is an independent Greek translation from a now lost Hebrew (or Aramaic) origin in many respects superior to our Massoretic Text: so Whiston, Pohlmann, Herzfeld, Fritzsche, Ginsburg, Cheyne, Thackeray, Nestle, Howarth, Torrey and Bertholet. Most of these writers hold that the original 1 Esdras included the whole of Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah; (3) the bulk of those who support view 2 argue that the original 1 Esdras formed the real Septuagint version of Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, what exists in our present Septuagint being another Greek translation, probably by Theodotion (fl, about 150 A.D.), just as we now know that what up to 1772 (the date of the publication in Rome of the Codex Chisianus) was considered as the Septuagint of Daniel is really Theodotion's version. Howarth (see articles in the Academy, 1893; PSBA, XXIX, etc.), and Torrey (Ezra Studies) stoutly champion this view. The evidence offered is of two kinds, external and internal:
(1) External Evidence.
(a) Josephus uses this version as his source for the period, though for other Old Testament books he follows the Septuagint. (b) In the foreword to the Syriac version of 1 Esdras in Walton's Polyglot it is said that this version follows the Septuagint, which surely counts for nothing since copies of the Septuagint known to us contain both 1 Esdras and the Greek translation reckoned up to recently as the true Septuagint. (c) Howarth maintains, but without proof, that in Origen's Hexapla, 1 Esdras takes the place of our Septuagint version, and that the same is true of the Virus Itala.
(2) Internal Evidence.
(a) It is said by Dr. Gwyn, Thackeray and Howarth that the Greek of the true Septuagint of Daniel and that of 1 Esdras are very similar in character, which however only goes to prove that one man translated both.
(b) Howarth holds that the Greek of Daniel and Ezra in the orthodox Septuagint version is very literal, as was all Theodotion's translation work. But such statements have to be received with very great caution, as in judging of style so much depends on the personal equation. The present writer has compared carefully parts ascribed with confidence to Theodotion and the Septuagint without reaching the above conclusions. At the most the matter has not been set at rest by any facts or reasoning as yet supplied. It must be admitted that 1 Esdras and Josephus preserve the true sequence of the events chronicled in Nehemiah 7:73 b through 10, the Massoretic Text and the Greek version based on it having gone wrong at this point, probably through the mixing of Hebrew skins or leaves. Those who see in 1 Esdra the true Septuagint agree almost to a man that 1 Esdras 3:1-5:6 is a late interpretation, never having had a Hob original. This may account in a large degree for the vigor and elegance of the Greek Howarth, however, parts company with his friends Torrey, Bertholet, etc., by arguing strenuously for this part. (See more fully in Century Bible, Ezra, etc., 27.)
1 Esdras exists in the following ancient versions in addition to the Greek text which may or may not be a translation (see 3 above):
(1) Latin: (a) Jerome. (b) Vulgate.
(2) Syriac: (a) The Peshitta. The Peshitta, given in Walton's Polyglot and with a critically revised text by Lagarde (Libri Veteris Testamenti Apocrypha Syriace, 1861). (b) The Hexaplar Syriac version. For details of manuscripts, etc., see "Literature" below.
5. Date and Authorship:
Nothing is known or can be conjectured as to the author or translator of 1 Esdras, nor can anything be positively affirmed as to the date. If the work be the genuine Septuagint text this would give it an earlier origin than the view which makes it depend on the Septuagint. But this is to say but little. As Josephus (died 95 A.D.) used this book it must have been written some years before he wrote his history (say 67 A.D.). We must assume that it existed some time before the beginning of our era. Ewald, on account of some resemblances to the earliest of the Sibylline Books, dates 1 Esdras about 190 B.C. But admitting dependence in this matter-which is doubtful-it is impossible to say which is dependent and which is independent in such cases.
The most important books have been named at the end of the general article on APOCRYPHA (which see). Recent contributions by Howarth and Torrey have been mentioned in the course of the foregoing article.
T. Witton Davies
furst ('echadh, ri'shon; proton, to proton, protos):
Of these words, which are those most frequently used for "first," ri'shon is from rosh, "the head, and is used for the highest, chief, etc.; also of time, the beginning, e.g. Genesis 8:13, in the first month"; in Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12, it is used of Yahweh as Eternal and solely Supreme-the First and the Last (compare Isaiah 41:4). Special usages are in connection with "firstborn," "first-fruit," etc.; proton is used of that which is first in order; but also of that which is first or chief in importance, etc. (Matthew 6:33 James 3:17). In 1 Timothy 1:15, Paul says Jesus came "to save sinners; of whom I am chief," literally, "first"; the same word is used by Jesus of the "first" of the commandments (Mark 12:29); where we read in 1 Corinthians 15:3, "I delivered unto you first of all," it is en protois ("in the foremost place"); "The first and the last" is applied to Christ as Eternal and Supreme (Revelation 1:17; Revelation 2:8; Revelation 22:13); protos is "the first day" (Matthew 26:17 Mark 16:9); in Matthew 28:1 Mark 16:2 Luke 24:1 John 20:1, 19 Acts 20:7, it is mia ("one").
W. L. Walker
PETER, THE FIRST EPISTLE OF
I. CANONICITY OF 1 PETER
1. External Evidence
2. Internal Evidence
II. THE ADDRESS
III. PLACE AND TIME OF COMPOSITION
1. Babylon: Which?
2. Babylon Not Rome
2. Example of Christ
3. Relation to State
V. CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF THE EPISTLE
1. Freedom in Structure
4. Testimony of Prophets
(2) Spirit of Christ
(3) Prophetic Study
5. The Christian Brotherhood
6. Spirits in Prison
Simon Peter was a native of Galilee. He was brought to the Saviour early in His ministry by his brother Andrew (John 1:40, 41). His call to the office of apostle is recorded in Matthew 10:1-4 Mark 3:13-16.
He occupied a distinguished place among the Lord's disciples. In the four lists of the apostles found in the New Testament his name stands first (Matthew 10:2-4 Mark 3:16-19 Luke 6:14-16 Acts 1:13). He is the chief figure in the first twelve chapters of the Acts. It is Peter that preaches the first Christian sermon (Acts 2), he that opens the door of the gospel to the Gentileworld in the house of the Roman soldier, Cornelius, and has the exquisite delight of witnessing scenes closely akin to those of Pentecost at Jerusalem (Acts 10:44-47). It was given him to pronounce the solemn sentence on the guilty pair, Ananias and Sapphira, and to rebuke in the power of the Spirit the profane Simon Magus (Acts 5:1-11; Acts 8:18-23). In these and the like instances Peter exhibited the authority with which Christ had invested him (Matthew 16:19)-an authority bestowed upon all the disciples (John 20:22, 23)-the power to bind and to loose.
Two Epistles are ascribed to Peter. Of the Second doubt and uncertainty have existed from the early ages to the present. The genuineness and authenticity of the First are above suspicion.
I. Canonicity of 1 Peter.
1. External Evidence:
The proof of its integrity and trustworthiness is ample and altogether satisfactory. It falls into parts: external and internal. The historical attestation to its authority as an apostolic document is abundant. Polycarp, disciple of the apostle John, martyed in 156 A.D. at 86 or more years of age, refers to the Epistle in unmistakable terms. Irenaeus, a man who may well be said to represent both the East and the West, who was a disciple of Polycarp, quotes it copiously, we are assured. Clement of Alexandria, born circa 150 A.D., died circa 216 A.D., cites it many times in his Stromata, one passage (1 Peter 4:8) being quoted five times by actual count. "The testimony of the early-church is summed up by Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, xxiii, 3). He places it among those writings about which no question was ever raised, no doubt ever entertained by any portion of the catholic church" (Professor Lumby in Bible Comm.).
2. Internal Evidence:
The internal evidence in favor of the Epistle is as conclusive as the external. The writer is well acquainted with our Lord's teaching, and he makes use of it to illustrate and enforce his own. The references he makes to that teaching are many, and they include the four Gospels. He is familiar likewise with the Epistles, particularly James, Romans, and Ephesians. But what is especially noteworthy is the fact that 1 Peter in thought and language stands in close relation with the apostle's discourses as recorded in Acts. By comparing 1 Peter 1:17 with Acts 10:34 1 Peter 1:21 with Acts 2:32-36 and 10:40, 41; 1 Peter 2:7, 8 with Acts 4:10, 11 1 Peter 2:17 with Acts 10:28, and 1 Peter 3:18 with Acts 3:14, one will perceive how close the parallel between the two is. The inference from these facts appears legitimate, namely, 1 Peter in diction and thought belongs to the same period of time and moves in the same circle of truth as do the other writings of the New Testament. The writer was an apostle, and he was Simon Peter.
II. The Address.
Peter writes to the "elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion." James employs the term "Dispersion" to designate believing Hebrews of the Twelve Tribes who lived outside the land (James 1:1). The Jews included in it the whole body of Israelites scattered among the Gentilenations (John 7:35). But we must not conclude from this that the Epistle is directed to Christian Jews alone. Gentile believers are by no means excluded, as 1 Peter 1:14, 18, 20; 1 Peter 2:10; 1 Peter 3:6; 1 Peter 4:3, 4 abundantly attest. Indeed, the Gentile element in the churches of Asia Minor largely predominated at the time. The term "sojourners" represents a people away from home, strangers in a strange land; the word is translated "pilgrims" in 2:11 and Hebrews 11:13 NAME? Galatians 2:7, 8), he did not neglect the more numerous Gentileconverts, and to these he speaks as earnestly as to the others; and these also were "sojourners."
Three of the four provinces Peter mentions, namely, Pontus, Cappadocia, and Asia, had representatives at the memorable Pentecost in Jerua (Acts 2:9 1 Peter 1:1). Many of these "sojourners of the Dispersion" may have believed the message of the apostle and accepted salvation through Jesus Christ, and returned home to tell the good news to their neighbors and friends. This would form a strong bond of union between them and Peter, and would open the way for him to address them in the familiar and tender manner of the Epistle.
Silvanus appears to have been the bearer of the letter to the Christians of Asia Minor: "By Silvanus, our faithful brother, as I account him, I have written unto you briefly" (1 Peter 5:12). It is an assumption to assert from these words that Silvanus was employed in the composition of the letter. The statement denotes rather the bearer than the writer or secretary. Silvanus was Paul's companion in the ministry to the Asiatic churches, and since we do not read of him as going with Paul to Jerusalem or to Rome, it is probable he returned from Corinth (Acts 18:5) to Asia Minor and labored there. He and Peter met, where no one knows, though not a few think in Rome; as likely a guess perhaps is in Palestine. At any rate, Silvanus gave Peter an account of the conditions in the provinces, the afflictions and persecutions of believers, and the deep need they had for sympathy and counsel. He would, accordingly, be of the greatest assistance to the apostle. This seems to account for the peculiarity of language which Peter uses: "By Silvanus, our faithful brother, I have written unto you," as if he had some share in furnishing the contents of the Epistle.
III. Place and Time of Composition.
1. Babylon: Which?:
According to 1 Peter 5:13 the Epistle was written in Babylon. But what place is meant? Two cities having this name were known in apostolic times. One was in Egypt, probably on or near the present site of Cairo, and we are told that it was a "city of no small importance." Epiphanius calls it "great Babylon" (Zahn). The absence, however, of all tradition that would tend to identify this place with the Babylon of the Epistle seems to shut it out of the problem. Babylon on the Euphrates is regarded by many as the place here designated. Jews in considerable numbers still dwelt in Babylon, notwithstanding the massacre of thousands in the reign of Claudius and the flight of multitudes into other countries. There is much to be said in favor of this city as the place meant, and yet the absence of tradition in its support is a very serious difficulty. A third view regards it as symbolical of Rome. Roman Catholics thus interpret it, and not a few Protestants so understand it. Tradition which runs back into the first half of the 2nd century appears to favor it, though much uncertainty and obscurity still surround the earliest ages of our era, in spite of the unwearied researches of modern scholars. Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, who lived in the first half of the 2nd century, appears to have had no doubt that Peter was martyred in Rome, and that the Babylon of the Epistle designates the Imperial City. There are very serious objections to this interpretation. One is, that it is totally out of keeping with Peter's manner of writing. Preeminently he is direct and matter-of-fact in his style. The metaphorical language he employs is mostly drawn from the Old Testament, or, if from himself, it is so common of use as to be well understood by all readers. It is altogether improbable that this man, plain of speech almost to bluntness, should interject in the midst of his personal explanations and final salutations such a mystical epithet with no hint of what he means by it, or why he employs such a mode of speech.
2. Babylon Not Rome:
Besides, there is no evidence that Rome was called Babylon by the Christians until the Book of Revelation was published, i.e. circa 90-96 A.D. But if 1 Peter is dependent on the Apocalypse for this name of Babylon as Rome, Peter could not have been its author, for he died years before that date. The Epistle was written about 64 A.D., at the time when persecutions under the infamous Nero were raging, at which time also the apostle himself bore his witness and went to his heavenly home, even as his Master had forewarned him (John 21:18, 19). While not unmindful of the great difficulties that beset the view, nevertheless we are reclined to the opinion that the Babylon of 1 Peter 5:13 is the ancient city on the Euphrates.
The apostle had more than one object in view when he addressed the "elect" in Asia Minor. The Lord Jesus had charged him, "Feed my lambs" "Tend my sheep"-"Feed my sheep" (John 21:15-17). His two Epistles certify how faithfully he obeyed the charge. With loving and tender hand he feeds the lambs and tends the whole flock, warns against foes, guards from danger, and leads them into green pastures and beside still waters. He reminds them of the glorious inheritance they are to possess (1 Peter 1:3-9); he exhorts them to walk in the footsteps of the uncomplaining Christ (1 Peter 2:20-25); to be compassionate, loving, tender-hearted, humble-minded, and circumspect in their passage through this unfriendly world (1 Peter 3:8-12). He sums up the main duties of Christian life in the short but pregnant sentences, "Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king" (1 Peter 2:17). But his supreme object is to comfort and encourage them amid the persecutions and the sufferings to which they were unjustly subjected, and to fortify them against the heavier trials that were impending.
From the beginning the Christian church was the object of suspicion and of hatred, and many of its adherents had suffered even unto death at the hands of both hostile Jews and fanatical Gentiles. But these afflictions were generally local and sporadic. There were churches of large membership and wide influence which were unmolested (1 Corinthians 4:8-10), and which seem to have been able to get fair treatment in heathen courts (1 Corinthians 6:1-6). But the condition brought to view in 1 Peter is altogether different. Trials and afflictions of the severest sort assail them, and an enmity and hostility, bent on their destruction, pursue them with tireless energy. The whole Christian body shared in the persecutions (5:9). The trial was a surprise (4:12), both in its intensity, for Peter calls it "fiery," and for its unexpectedness. The apostle represents it as a savage beast of prey, a roaring lion, prowling about them to seize and devour (5:8, 9).
A variety of charges were brought against the Christians, but they were calumnies and slanders, without any foundation in fact. They were spoken against as evil-doers (1 Peter 2:12 kakopoion; malefici, Tacitus calls them). Their adversaries railed against them (1 Peter 3:9); reviled them (1 Peter 3:16); spake evil of them (1 Peter 4:4); reproached them for the name of Christ (1 Peter 4:14). These are ugly epithets. They show how bitter was the hatred and how intense the hostility felt by the heathen toward the Christians who dwelt among them. If there had been any justification for such antagonism in the character and the conduct of Christ's people, if they were evil-doers, "haters of the human race," to be classed with thieves and murderers and meddlers in other men's matters (1 Peter 4:14-16), as they were accused of being and doing, we could understand the fierce opposition which assailed them and the savage purpose to suppress them altogether, but the only ground for the enmity felt against them was the refusal of the Christians to join their heathen neighbors in their idolatries, their feasts, winebibbings, revelings, carousings, lasciviousness and lusts in which once they freely shared (1 Peter 4:2-4). The Asian saints had renounced all such wicked practices, had separated themselves from their old companions in riotous living and revolting debaucheries; they were witnesses against their immoralities, and hence, became the objects of intense dislike and persecuting animosity. Peter bears testimony to the high character, the purity of life and the self-sacrificing devotion of these believers. In all Asia Minor no better company of men and women could be found than these disciples of Jesus Christ; none more submissive to constituted authority, none more ready to help their fellow-men in their distress and trouble. The head and front of their offending was their separation from the ungodly world about them, and their solemn witness against the awful sins done daily before their eyes.
2. Example of Christ:
How mightily does the apostle minister to his suffering friends! He bids them remember the uncomplaining Christ when He was unjustly afflicted by cruel men (1 Peter 2:19-25). He tells them how they may effectively put to silence their accusers, and refute the calumnies and the slanders that are so cruelly circulated against them, namely, by living such pure and godly lives, by being so meek, docile, patient, stedfast, true and faithful to God, that none can credit the false accusations (1 Peter 2:1-5; 1 Peter 2:13-17; 3:8, 9, 13-17; 5:6-11).
3. Relation to State:
There is little or no evidence in the Epistle that the persecutions were inflicted by imperial authority or that the state was dealing with the Christians as enemies who were dangerous to the peace of society. In the provinces to which the letter was sent there seems to have been complete absence of formal trial and punishment through the courts. Peter does not speak of Iegal proceedings against the Christians by the magistrates. On the contrary, he urges them to be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether to the king as supreme; or unto governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evil-doers and for praise to them that do well (1 Peter 2:13). They are to honor all men, to honor the king (1 Peter 2:17). This submission would scarcely be pressed if the state had already proscribed Christianity and decreed its total suppression. This the imperial government did later on, but there is no evidence furnished by the apostle that in 64 A.D.-the date of the Epistle-the government formally denounced Christians and determined to annihilate them.
Peter exhorts his fellow-believers to silence their persecutors by their upright conduct (1 Peter 2:15); they are thus to put them to shame who falsely accuse them (1 Peter 3:16); and they are not to combat evil with evil nor answer reviling with reviling, but contrariwise with blessing (1 Peter 3:9). The antagonism here indicated obviously springs from the heathen populace; there is no hint of arraignment before magistrates or subjection to legal proceedings. It is unbelievers who revile and slander and denounce the people of God in the provinces.
Everything in the Epistle points to the time of Nero, 64 A.D., and not to the time of Domitian or Trajan, or even Titus. In Rome vast multitudes of Christians were put to death in the most brutal fashion, so Tacitus relates, but the historian asserts that there was a sinister report to the effect that Nero himself instigated the burning of the city (July 19, 64), and "he (Nero) falsely diverted the charge on to a set of people to whom the vulgar gave the name of Christians (or Chrestians), and who were detested for the abominations which they perpetrated." SeeNERO. Certain facts are clear from Tacitus' statements, namely, that at the time the Christians were well known as a distinct sect; and that they were subjected to the dreadful sufferings inflicted upon them because they were Christians; and the persecutions at the time were instigated by the fear and the brutality of the tyrant. Peter likewise recognizes the fact that believers were disliked and calumniated by their heathen neighbors for the same reason-they were Christians: "If ye are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are ye" (1 Peter 4:14); "But if a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name" (1 Peter 4:16). But the imperial government at the time does not appear to have taken formal action for the overthrow of Christianity as a system inimical to the empire. Of course, where direct charges of a criminal nature were made against Christians, judicial inquiry into them would be instituted. But in the Epistle what believers had to endure and suffer were the detraction, the vituperation, the opprobrium and the vile and malignant slanders with which the heathen assailed them.
V. Characteristic Features of the Epistle.
It has certain very distinct marks, some of which may be noticed.
1. Freedom in Structure:
It does not observe a close logical sequence in its structure, as those of Paul so prominently display. There is truth in Dean Alford's statement, although perhaps he pushes it rather far: "The link between one idea and another is found, not in any progress of unfolding thought or argument, but in the last word of the foregoing sentence which is taken up and followed out in the new one" (see 1 Peter 1:5, 6, 7, 9, 10, etc.). This peculiarity, however, does not interfere with the unity of the epistle, it rather adds to it, and it gives to it a vividness which it otherwise might not possess.
It is the epistle of hope. How much it makes of this prime grace! Peter seems never to grow weary of describing it and exalting its radiant beauty and desirableness. He calls it a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). It is born by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and it calmly awaits the glorious inheritance that soon will be enjoyed. It is a hope that will be perfected at the advent of Christ (1 Peter 1:13), and it is set on God, hence, cannot fail (1 Peter 1:21). With sickly, dying hope we are quite familiar. The device which a certain state (South Carolina) has inscribed on its Great Seal is, dum spiro spero ("while I live I hope"). Such a hope may serve for a commonwealth whose existence is limited to this world, but a man needs something more enduring, something imperishable. "It is a fearful thing when a man and his hopes die together" (Leighton). A Christian can confidently write, "when I am dying I hope," for his is a living hope that fills and thrills the future with a blessed reality.
The Christian's glorious inheritance (1 Peter 1:3-5) is depicted in one of the most comprehensive and suggestive descriptions of the believer's heritage found in the Bible. It is declared to be "incorruptible." The word points to its substance. It is imperishable. In it there is no element of decay. It holds in its heart no germ of death. Like its author, the living God, it is unchangeable and eternal. It is "undefiled." It is not stained by sin nor polluted by crime, either in its acquisition or its possession. Human heritages generally are marred by human wrongs. There is hardly an acre of soil that is not tainted by fraud or violence. The coin that passes from hand to hand is in many instances soiled by guilt. But this of Peter is absolutely pure and holy. It "fadeth not away." It never withers. Ages do not impair its beauty or dim its luster. Its bloom will remain fresh, its fragrance undiminished, forever. Thus our inheritance "is glorious in these respects: it is in its substance, incorruptible: in its purity, undefiled: in beauty, unfading" (Alford).
Now why does the apostle in the very opening of his Epistle give so lofty a place to the saints' inheritance? He does so in order to comfort and encourage his fellow-believers with the consolations of the Lord Himself, that they may bear stedfastly their manifold sufferings and triumph over their weighty afflictions. Hence, he writes: "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, ye have been put to grief in manifold trials, that the proof of your faith.... may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6-9). He lifts their thoughts and their gaze up far above the troubles and distresses around them to Him whose they are, whom they serve, who will by and by crown them with immortal bliss.
4. Testimony of Prophets:
The prophets and their study are described in 1 Peter 1:10, 11: "Concerning which salvation the prophets sought and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you," etc. With Peter and his fellow-apostles the testimony of the prophets was authoritative and final. Where they had a clear word from the Old Testament Scriptures, they felt that every question was settled and controversy was at an end.
The burden of the prophetic communications was salvation. The prophets spoke on many subjects; they had to exhort, rebuke and entreat their wayward contemporaries; to denounce sin, to announce judgment on the guilty and to recall them to repentance and reformation. But ever and anon their vision was filled with the future and its blessedness, their voices would swell with rapture as they saw and foretold the great salvation to be brought to the world and the grace that would then so copiously go out unto men; for the Messiah was to appear and to suffer, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.
(2) Spirit of Christ.
The prophet's messages were the messages of the Spirit of Christ. It was He who testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow. The prophets always disclaim any part in the origination of their messages. They affirm in the most positive and solemn manner that their predictions are not their own, but God's. Hence, they are called the Lord's "spokesmen," the Lord's "mouth" (Exodus 4:15, 16; Exodus 7:1, 2 2 Peter 1:21).
(3) Prophetic Study.
They "sought and searched diligently." These terms are strong and emphatic. They pored over the predictions which the Spirit had revealed through themselves; they scrutinized them with eager and prolonged inquiry. Two points engaged their attention: "What time or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did point unto." The first "what" relates to the time of the Messiah's advent; the second "what" to the events and circumstances which would attend His appearing-a fruitful theme, one that engages the inquiry of nobler students-"which things angels desire to look into."
5. The Christian Brotherhood:
The Christian brotherhood is described in 1 Peter 2:9, 10: "But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." The brotherhood is the new Israel. The apostle describes it in terms which were applied to the old Israel, but which include more than the ancient Israel ever realized. The exalted conception is by one who was a strict Jew, the apostle of the circumcision, and who held somewhat closely to the Mosaic institutions to the end of his life. All the more significant on this account is his testimony. The descriptive titles which he here gathers together and places on the brow of the Christian brotherhood are of the most illustrious sort. A distinguished man, a noble, a general, a statesman, will sometimes appear in public with his breast covered with resplendent decorations which mark his rank or his achievements. But such distinctions sink into insignificance alongside of this dazzling cluster. This is the heavenly nobility, the royal family of the Lord of glory, decorated with badges brighter far than ever glittered on the breast of king or emperor. But even in this instance Peter reminds Christians of the glorious destiny awaiting them that they may be strengthened and stimulated to stedfastness and loyalty in the midst of the trials and afflictions to which they are subjected (1 Peter 2:11, 12)
6. Spirits in Prison:
A study of 1 Peter 3:18-20 -"preached unto the spirits in prison"-should here follow in the present cursory review of the characteristic features of the Epistle, but anything like an adequate examination of this difficult passage would require more space than could be given it. Suf 1 Peter 3:19 is in all probability correct, according to which a preaching of Christ at the time of the Flood is referred to, i.e. a preaching through Noah, so that Noah is here represented as a preacher of righteousness, as in 2 Peter 2:5."
SeePRISON, SPIRITS IN.
A very general analysis of the Epistle is the following:
(1) Christian privileges, 1 Peter 1-2:10.
(2) Christian duties, 1 Peter 2:11-4:11.
(3) Persecutions and trials, 1 Peter 4:12-5:11.
(4) Personal matters and salutations, 1 Peter 5:12-14.
The chief doctrines of Christianity are found in 1 Peter. The vicarious suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ (2:24; 3:18); the new birth (1:3, 13); redemption by the blood of Christ (1:18, 19), faith, hope, patient endurance under unjust suffering, and holiness of life, are all pressed upon Christians with great earnestness and force.
Bible Dicts., DB, HDB, Davis, DB, EB, Sch-Herz, volume VIII; Intros: Westcott, Salmon, Zahn; Vincent, Word Studies; Commentaries: Bible Commentary, Cambridge Bible for Schools; Lillie, Jameson, Fausett and Brown, Alford, Bigg, Mayor (on 2 Peter), Johnstone (homiletical), New York, 1888; Hort, 1 Peter 1:1-2:17, New York, 1898.
William G. Moorehead
SABBATH, SECOND AFTER THE FIRST
(sabbaton deuteroproton (Luke 6:1), literally, "the second-first sabbath," of the Revised Version margin): We will mention only a few of the explanations elicited by this expression.
(1) It was the first Sabbath in the second year of a 7-year cycle comprising the period from one Sabbatic year to the other;
(2) the first Sabbath after the second day of Passover, i.e. the first of the seven Sabbaths the Hebrews were to "count unto" themselves from "the morrow after the sabbath" (the day after Easter) until Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15);
(3) the first Sabbath in the Jewish ecclesiastical year (about the middle of March), the first Sabbath in the civil year (about the middle of September) being counted as the "first-first" Sabbath;
(4) the term deuteroprotos, is a monstrous combination of the words deuteros, "second," and protos, "first," attributable to unskillful attempts at textual emendation on the part of copyists. This supposition would, of course, render unnecessary all other efforts to unravel the knotty problem, and, as a matter of fact, deuteroprotos is omitted by many manuscripts (including Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus). To those not feeling inclined to accept this solution we would suggest the first of the above-named explanations as the most natural and probable one.
THESSALONIANS, THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE
I. IMPORTANCE OF THE EPISTLE
II. CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE FOUNDING OF THE CHURCH
1. Luke's Narrative in Acts
2. Confirmation of Luke's Narrative in the Epistle
III. CONDITIONS IN THE THESSALONIAN CHURCH AS INDICATED IN THE LETTER
IV. ANALYSIS WIENER, ORIGIN OF THE PENTATEUCH THE EPISTLE
1. Paul's Past and Present Relations with the Thessalonians and His Love for Them
2. Exhortations against Vice, and Comfort and Warning in View of the Coming of Christ
V. DOCTRINAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE EPISTLE
VI. THE EPISTLE'S REVELATIONS OF PAUL'S CHARACTERISTICS
I. The Importance of the Epistle.
The letter is especially important as a witness to the content of the earliest Gospel, on account of its date and its well-nigh unchallenged authenticity. According to Harnack it was written in the year 48 A.D.; according to Zahn, in the year 53. It is likely that these two dates represent the extreme limits. We are thus justified in saying with confidence that we have before us a document that could not have been written more than 24 years, and may very easily have been written but 19 years, after the ascension of our Lord. This is a fact of great interest in view of the contention that the Jesus of the four Gospels is a product of the legend-making propensity of devout souls in the latter part of the 1st century. When we remember that Paul was converted more than 14 years before the writing of the Epistles, and that he tells us that his conversion was of such an overwhelming nature as to impel him in a straight course from which he never varied, and when we note that at the end of 14 years Peter and John, having fully heard the gospel which he preached, had no corrections to offer (Galatians 1:11-2:10, especially 2:6-10), we see that the view of Christ and His message given in this Epistle traces itself back into the very presence of the most intimate friends of Jesus. It is not meant by this that the words of Paul or the forms of his teaching are reproductions of things Jesus said in the days of His flesh, but rather that the conception which is embodied in the Epistle of the person of Christ and of His relation to the Father, and of His relation also to the church and to human destiny, is rooted in Christ's own self-revelation.
II. Circumstances of the Founding of the Church.
1. Luke's Narrative in Acts:
For the founding of the church we have two sources of information, the Book of Acts and the Epistle itself. Luke's narrative is found in Acts 17. Here we are told that Paul, after leaving Philippi, began his next siege against entrenched paganism in the great market center of Thessalonica. He went first into the synagogues of the Jews, and for three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures. Some of them, Luke tells us, "were persuaded, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few." This very naturally excited the jealousy of the Jews who found themselves losing the social prestige that came from having a large number of Greeks, including some of the nobility, resorting to them for instruction. Accordingly, they raised a mob of the worst men in town and brought the leading members of the church before the magistrate. These brethren, Jason and certain others, who seem to have been men of some property, were compelled to give bond to preserve the peace, and the intense feeling against Paul made it necessary for him, for the sake of these brethren as well as for his personal safety, to flee from the city.
2. Confirmation of Luke's Narrative in the Epistle:
The historicity of Luke's story of the founding of the church is strongly supported by the text of the Epistle. Paul, for instance, notes that the work in Thessalonica began after they had been shamefully entreated at Philippi (1 Thessalonians 2:2). He bears witness also in the same verse to the conflict in the midst of which the Thessalonian church was founded (see also 1 Thessalonians 2:14). Paul's exhortation to salute all the brethren with a holy kiss, his solemn adjuration that this letter be read unto all the brethren (1 Thessalonians 5:26, 27), and his exhortation to despise not prophesying (1 Thessalonians 5:20) are harmonious with Luke's account of the very diverse social elements out of which the church was formed: diversities that would very easily give rise to a disposition on the part of the more aristocratic to neglect the cordial greetings to the poorer members, and to despise their uncouth testimonies to the grace of God that had come to them (Acts 17:4).
Paul tells us that he was forced to labor for his daily bread at Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:9). Luke does not make mention of this, but he tells us of his work at tent-making in the next town where he made a considerable stop (Acts 18:1-3), and thus each statement makes the other probable.
Perhaps, however, the most marked corroboration of the Acts which we have in the letter is the general harmony of its revelation of the character of Paul with that of the Acts. The reminiscences of Paul's work among them (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12) correspond, for instance, in a marked way, in essence though not in style and vocabulary, with Luke's report of Paul's account of the method and spirit of his work at Ephesus (Acts 20:17-35). This, however, is only one of many correspondences which could be pointed out and which will at once be evident to anyone who will read the letter, and then go over Acts 13-28.
It may seem irrelevant thus to emphasize the historicity of Acts in an article on Thessalonians, but the witness of the Epistle to the historicity of the Gospels and of Acts is for the present moment one of its most important functions.
III. Conditions in the Thessalonian Church as Indicated in the Letter.
A New Testament epistle bears a close resemblance to a doctor's prescription. It relates itself to the immediate situation of the person to whom it is directed. If we study it we can infer with a great deal of accuracy the tendencies, good or bad, in the church. What revelation of the conditions at Thessalonica is made in the First Epistle? Plainly, affairs on the whole are in a very good state, especially when one takes into account the fact that most of the members had been out of heathenism but a few months. They were so notably devoted to God that they were known all over Macedonia as examples to the church (1 Thessalonians 1:7). In particular the Christian grace of cordial good will toward all believers flourished among them: a grace which they doubtless had good opportunity to exercise in this great market town to which Christians from all parts would resort on business errands and where there would be constant demands on their hospitality (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10).
There were, however, shadows in the picture. Some persons were whispering dark suspicions against Paul. Perhaps, as Zahn suggests, they were the unbelieving husbands of the rich ladies who had become members of the church. It was in answer to these criticisms that he felt called upon to say that he was not a fanatic nor a moral leper, nor a deceiver (1 Thessalonians 2:3). When he is so careful to remind them that he was not found at any time wearing a cloak of covetousness, but rather went to the extreme of laboring night and day that he might not be chargeable to any of them (1 Thessalonians 2:9), we may be sure that the Christians were hearing constant jibes about their money-making teacher who had already worked his scheme with the Philippians so successfully that they had twice sent him a contribution (Philippians 4:16). Paul's peculiar sensitiveness on this point at Corinth (1 Corinthians 9:14, 15) was possibly in part the result of his immediately preceding experiences at Thessalonica.
One wonders whether Greece was not peculiarly infested at this time with wandering philosophers and religious teachers who beat their way as best they could, living on the credulity of the unwary.
Paul's anxiety to assure them of his intense desire to see them and his telling of his repeated attempts to come to them (1 Thessalonians 2:17-20) show rather plainly also that his absence had given rise to the suspicion that he was afraid to come back, or indeed quite indifferent about revisiting them. "We would fain have come unto you," he says, "I Paul once and again; and Satan hindered us."
Some also were saying that Paul was a flatterer (1 Thessalonians 2:5), who was seeking by this means to carry out unworthy ends. This sneer indeed, after the reading of the letter, would come quite naturally to the superficial mind. Paul's amazing power to idealize his converts and see them in the light of their good intentions and of the general goal and trend of their minds is quite beyond the appreciation of a shallow and sardonic soul.
More than this, we can see plain evidence that the church was in danger of the chronic heathen vice of unchastity (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8). The humble members also, in particular, were in danger of being intoxicated by the new intellectual and spiritual life into which they had been inducted by the gospel, and were spending their time in religious meetings to the neglect of their daily labor (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12). Moreover, some who had lost friends since their baptism were mourning lest at the second coming of Christ these who had fallen asleep would not share in the common glory (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). This is a quaint proof of the immaturity of their view of Christ, as though a physical accident could separate from His love and care. There was likewise, as suggested above, the ever-present danger of social cliques among the members (1 Thessalonians 5:13, 15, 20, 26, 27). It is to this condition of things that Paul pours forth this amazingly vital and human Epistle.
IV. Analysis of the Epistle.
The letter may be divided in several ways. Perhaps as simple a way as any is that which separates it into two main divisions.
First, Paul's past and present relations with the Thessalonians, and his love for them (1 Thessalonians 1:1-3:13):
1. Paul's Past and Present Relations with the Thessalonians and His Love for Them:
(1) Greeting and Thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 1:1-10).
(2) Paul reminds them of the character of his life and ministry among them (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12).
(3) The sufferings of the Thessalonians the same as those endured by their Jewish brethren (1 Thessalonians 2:13-16).
(4) Paul's efforts to see them (1 Thessalonians 2:17-20).
(5) Paul's surrender of his beloved helper in order to learn the state of the Thessalonian church, and his joy over the good news which Timothy brought (1 Thessalonians 3:1-13).
Second, exhortations against vice, and comfort and warning in view of the coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:1-5, 28):
2. Exhortations against Vice, and Comfort and Warning in View of the Coming of Christ:
(1) Against gross vice (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8).
(2) Against idleness (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12).
(3) Concerning those who have fallen asleep (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
(4) Concerning the true way to watch for the Coming (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).
(5) Sundry exhortations (1 Thessalonians 5:12-28).
V. Doctrinal Implications of the Epistle.
The Epistle to the Thessalonians is not a doctrinal letter. Paul's great teaching concerning salvation by faith alone, apart from the works of the Law, is not sharply defined or baldly stated, and the doctrine of the cross of Christ as central in Christianity is here implied rather than enforced. Almost the only doctrinal statement is that which assures them that those of their number who had fallen asleep would not in any wise be shut out from the rewards and glories at Christ's second coming (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). But while the main doctrinal positions of Paul are not elaborated or even stated in the letter, it may safely be said that the Epistle could scarcely have been written by one who denied those teachings. And the fact that we know that shortly before or shortly after Paul wrote the Epistle to the Galatians, and the fact that he so definitely describes his attitude at this very time toward the preaching of the cross of Christ, in his reminiscences in 1 Corinthians (see especially 1 Corinthians 2:1-5), show how foolish it is to assume that an author has not yet come to a position because he does not constantly obtrude it in all that he writes.
The Epistle, however, bears abundant evidence to the fact that this contemporary of Jesus had seen in the life and character and resurrection of Jesus that which caused him to exalt Him to divine honors, to mention Him in the same breath with God the Father, and to expect His second coming in glory as the event which would determine the destiny of all men and be the final goal of history. As such the letter, whose authenticity is now practically unquestioned, is a powerful proof that Jesus was a personality as extraordinary as the Jesus of the first three Gospels. And even the Christ of the Fourth Gospel is scarcely more exalted than He who now with God the Father constitutes the spiritual atmosphere in which Christians exist (1 Thessalonians 1:1), and who at the last day will descend from heaven with a shout and with the voice of an archangel and the trump of God, and cause the dead in Christ to rise from their tombs to dwell forever with Himself (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).
VI. The Epistle's Revelations of Paul's Characteristics.
We notice in the letter the extreme tactfulness of Paul. He has some plain and humiliating warnings to give, but he precedes them in each case with affectionate recognition of the good qualities of the brethren. Before he warns against gross vice he explains that he is simply urging them to continue in the good way they are in. Before he urges them to go to work he cordially recognizes the love that has made them linger so long and so frequently at the common meeting-places. And when in connection with his exhortations about the second coming he alludes to the vice of drunkenness, he first idealizes them as sons of the light and of the day to whom, of course, the drunken orgies of those who are "of the night" would be unthinkable. Thus by a kind of spiritual suggestion he starts them in the right way.
Bishop Alexander, the Speaker's Commentary (published in America under the title, The Bible Comm., and bound with most excellent commentaries on all of the Pauline Epistles), New York, Scribners; Milligan, The Epistles to the Thessalonians (the Greek text with Introduction and notes), London, Macmillan; Moffatt, The Expositor's Greek Test. (bound with commentaries by various authors on the Pastoral Epistles, Philemon, Hebrews and James), New York, Dodd, Mead and Co.; Frame, ICC, New York, Scribners; Stevens, An American Commentary on the New Testament, Philadelphia, American Baptist Publication Society; Adeney, The New Century Bible, "1 and 2 Thessalonians" and "Galatians," New York, Henry Frowde; Findlay, "The Epistles to the Thessalonians," Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, New York, Putnams; James Denney, "The Epistles to the Thessalonians," Expositor's Bible, New York, Doran; the two latter are especially recommended as inexpensive, popular and yet scholarly commentaries. The Cambridge Bible is a verse-by-verse commentary, and Professor Denney on "Thess" in Expositor's Bible is one of the most vital and vigorous pieces of homiletical exposition known to the present writer.
Rollin Hough Walker
First (4693 Occurrences)
First appears 4693 times in 12 translations.
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