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1. The strong fact, that there exists a passage in the first epistle, to which that in the second is capable of being referred, i. e. which accounts for the error the writer is solicitous to remove. Had no other epistle than the second been extant, and had it under these circumstances come to be considered, whether the text before us related to a forged epistle or to some misconstruction of a true one, many conjectures and many probabilities might have been admitted in the inquiry, which can have little weight when an epistle is produced, containing the very sort of passage we were seeking, that is, a passage liable to the misinterpretation which the apostle protests against.
2. That the clause which introduces the passage in the second epistle bears a particular affinity to what is found in the passage cited from the first epistle. The clause is this: "We beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him." Now in the first epistle the description of the coming of Christ is accompanied with the mention of this very circumstance of his saints being collected round him. "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air." (1 Thess. iv. 16, 17.) This I suppose to be the "gathering together unto him" intended in the second epistle: and that the author, when he used these words, retained in his thoughts what he had written on the subject before.
3. The second epistle is written in the joint name of Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus, and it cautions the Thessalonians against being misled "by letter as from us" (ws d' uwv.) Do not these words, di' new, appropriate the reference to some writing which bore the name of these three teachers? Now this circumstance, which
is a very close one, belongs to the epistle at present in our hands; for the epistle which we call the First Epistle to the Thessalonians contains these names in its superscription.
4. The words in the original, as far as they are material to be stated, are these : εις το μη ταχέως σαλευθηναι ὑμας απο του νοός, μητε προεισθαι, μητέ δια πνεύματος, μητε δαι λόγου, μητε δι' επιστολης, ὡς δι ̓ ἡμων, ὡς ὅτι ενέστηκεν ἡ ἡμερα του Χριστου. Under the weight of the preceding observations may not the words μητε δια λόγου, μητε di&TIOπολης, ὡς δὲ ἡμων, be construed to signify quasi nos quid tale aut dixerimus aut scripserimus,* intimating that their words had been mistaken, and that they had in truth said or written no such thing?
THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY.
FROM the third verse of the first chapter, "as I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus when I went into Macedonia," it is evident that this epistle was written soon after St. Paul had gone to Macedonia from Ephesus. Dr. Benson fixes its date to the time of St. Paul's journey recorded in
* Should a contrary intepretation be preferred, I do not think that it implies the conclusion that a false epistle had then been published in the apostle's name. It will completely satisfy the allusion in the text to allow, that some one or other at Thessalonica had pretended to have been told by St. Paul and his companions, or to have seen a letter from them, in which they had said, that the day of Christ was at hand. In like manner as, Acts xv. 1. 24. it is recorded that some had pretended to have received instructions from the church at Jerusalem, which had been received "to whom they gave no such commandment." And thus Dr. Benson interpreted the passage unre AgoεIOθαι, μητε δια πνεύματος, μητε δια λόγου, μήτε δι' επιστολης, ὡς δι' ἡμων, “ nor be dismayed by any revelation, or discourse, or epistle, which any one shall pretend to have heard or received from us."
the beginning of the twentieth chapter of the Acts: "And after the uproar (excited by Demetrius at Ephesus) was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia." And in this opinion Dr. Benson is followed by Michaelis, as he was preceded by the greater part of the commentators who have considered the question. There is, however, one objection to the hypothesis, which these learned men appear to me to have overlooked: and it is no other than this, that the superscription of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians seems to prove, that at the time St. Paul is supposed by them to have written this epistle to Timothy, Timothy in truth was with St. Paul in Macedonia. Paul, as it is related in the Acts, left Ephesus "for to go into Macedonia." When he had got into Macedonia he wrote his Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Concerning this point there exists little variety of opinion. It is plainly indicated by the contents of the epistle. It is also strongly implied that the epistle was written soon after the apostle's arrival in Macedonia; for he begins his letter by a train of reflection, referring to his persecutions in Asia as to recent transactions, as to dangers from which he had lately been delivered. But in the salutation with which the epistle opens, Timothy was joined with St. Paul, and consequently could not at that time be "left behind at Ephesus." And as the only solution of the difficulty which cau he thought of, viz. that Timothy, though he was left behind at Ephesus upon St. Paul's departure from Asia, yet might follow him so soon after, as to come up with the apostle in Macedonia, before he wrote his epistle to the Corinthians; that supposition is inconsistent with the terms and tenor of the epistle throughout. For the writer speaks uniformly of his intention to return to Timothy at Ephesus, and not of his expecting Timothy to come to him in Macedonia; "These things write
I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly; but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself," (iii. 14, 15.) "Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." iv. 13.
Since, therefore, the leaving of Timothy behind at Ephesus, when Paul went into Macedonia, suits not with any journey into Macedonia recorded in the Acts, I concur with Bishop Pearson in placing the date of this epistle, and the journey referred to in it, at a period subsequent to St. Paul's first imprisonment at Rome, and consequently subsequent to the era up to which the Acts of the Apostles brings his history. The only difficulty which attends our opinion is, that St. Paul must, according to us, have come to Ephesus after his liberation at Rome, contraas it should seem, to what he foretold to the Ephesian elders, "that they should see his face no more." And it is to save the infallibility of this prediction, and for no other reason of weight, that an earlier date is assigned to this epistle. The prediction itself, however, when considered in connexion with the circumstances under which it was delivered, does not seem to demand so much anxiety. The words in question are found in the twenty-fifth verse of the twentieth chapter of the Acts: "And now, behold, I know that ye all among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more." In the twenty-second and twenty-third verses of the same chapter, i. e. two verses before, the apostle makes this declaration: "And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me." This "witnessing of the Holy Ghost" was undoubtedly prophetic and supernatural. But it went no farther than to foretell that bonds and afflictions awaited him. And I can very well conceive, that this
might be all which was communicated to the apostle by extraordinary revelation, and that the rest was the conclusion of his own mind, the desponding inference which he drew from strong and repeated intimations of approaching danger. And the expression "I know," which St. Paul here uses, does not, perhaps, when applied to future events affecting himself, convey an assertion so positive and absolute as we may at first sight apprehend. In the first chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians, and twenty-fifth verse, "I know," says he, "that I shall abide and continue with you all, for your furtherance and joy of faith.” Notwithstanding this strong declaration, in the second chapter and twenty-third verse of this same epistle, and speaking also of the very same event, he is content to use a language of some doubt and uncertainty: "Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon, as I shall see how it will go with me. But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly." And a few verses preceding these, he not only seems to doubt of his safety, but almost to despair; to contemplate the possibility at least of his condemnation and martyrdom: "Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all."
But can we show that St. Paul visited Ephesus after his liberation at Rome? or rather, can we collect any hints from his other letters which make it probable that he did? If we can, then we have a coincidence. If we cannot, we have only an unauthorized supposition, to which the exigency of the case compels us to resort. Now, for this purpose, let us examine the Epistle to the Philippians and the Epistle to Philemon. These two epistles purport to be written whilst St. Paul was yet a prisoner at Rome. To the Philippians he writes as follows: "I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly."