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voyage as a prisoner to Rome; and that this could not be the occasion referred to in our epistle is evident from hence, that when St. Paul wrote this epistle, he appears to have been at liberty; whereas after that voyage, he continued for two years at least in confinement. Again, it is agreed that St. Paul wrote his First Epistle to Timothy from Macedonia: "As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went (or came) into Macedonia." And that he was in these parts, i. e. in this peninsula, when he wrote the Epistle to Titus, is rendered probable by his directing Titus to come to him to Nicopolis: "When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent (make haste) to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter." The most noted city of that name was in Epirus, near to Actium. And I think the form of speaking, as well as the nature of the case, renders it probable that the writer was at Nicopolis, or in the neighbourhood thereof, when he dictated this direction to Titus.
Upon the whole, if we may be allowed to suppose that St. Paul, after his liberation at Rome, sailed into Asia, taking Crete in his way; that from Asia and from Ephesus, the capital of that country, he proceeded into Macedonia, and crossing the peninsula in his progress, came into the neighbourhood of Nicopolis; we have a route which falls in with every thing. It executes the intention expressed by the apostle of visiting Colosse and Philippi as soon as he should be set at liberty at Rome. It allows him to leave "Titus at Crete," and "Timothy at Ephesus, as he went into Macedonia;" and to write to both not long after from the peninsula of Greece, and probably the neighbourhood of Nicopolis: thus bringing together the dates of these two letters, and thereby accounting for that affinity between them, both in subject and language, which our remarks have pointed out. I confess that the journey which we have thus traced out for St. Paul, is in a great measure hypothetic: but it should be observed, that it is a species of consistency, which seldom belongs to falsehood, to admit of an hypothesis, which includes a great number of independent circumstances without contradiction.
THE EPISTLE TO PHILEMON.
THE singular correspondency between this epistle and that to the Colossians has been remarked already. An assertion in the Epistle to the Colossians, viz. that "Onesimus was one of them," is verified, not by any mention of Colosse, any the most distant intimation concerning the place of Philemon's abode, but singly by stating Onesimus to be Philemon's servant, and by joining in the salutation Philemon with Archippus; for this Archippus, when we go back to the Epistle to the Colossians, appears to have been an inhabitant of that city, and, as it should seem, to have held an office of authority in that church. The case stands thus: take the Epistle to the Colossians alone, and no circumstance is discoverable which makes out the assertion, that Onesimus was "one of them." Take the Epistle to Philemon alone, and nothing at all appears concerning the place to which Philemon or his servant Onesimus belonged. For any thing that is said in the epistle, Philemon might have been a Thessalonian, a Philippian, or an Ephesian, as well as a Colossian. Put the two epistles together, and the matter is clear. The reader perceives a junction of circumstances, which ascertains the conclusion at once. Now, all that is necessary to be added in this place is, that this correspondency evinces the genuineness of one epistle as well as of the other. It is like comparing the two parts of a cloven tally. Coincidence proves the authenticity of both.
And this coincidence is perfect; not only in the main article of shewing, by implication, Onesimus to be a Colossian, but in many dependant circumstances.
1. "I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have sent again." (ver. 10-12.) It appears from the
Epistle to the Colossians, that in truth Onesimus was sent at that time to Colosse: "All my state shall Tychicus declare, whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother." Colos. iv. 7-9.
2. "I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds. (ver. 10.) It appears from the preceding quotation, that Onesimus was with St. Paul when he wrote the Epistle to the Colossians; and that he wrote that epistle in imprisonment is evident from his declaration in the fourth chapter and third verse: "Praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds."
3. St. Paul bids Philemon prepare for him a lodging: "For I trust," says he, "that through your prayers I shall be given unto you." This agrees with the expectation of speedy deliverance, which he expressed in another epistle written during the same imprisonment : "Him (Timothy) 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." Phil. ii. 23, 24.
4. As the letter to Philemon, and that to the Colos. sians, were written at the same time, and sent by the same messenger, the one to a particular inhabitant, the other to the church of Colosse, it may be expected that the same or nearly the same persons would be about St. Paul, and join with him, as was the practice, in the salutations of the epistle. Accordingly we find the names of Aristarchus, Marcus, Epaphras, Luke, and Demas, in both epistles. Timothy, who is joined with St. Paul in the superscription of the Epistle to the Colossians, is joined with him in this. Tychicus did not salute Philemon, because he accompanied the epistle to Colosse, and would undoubtedly there see him. Yet the reader of the Epistle to Philemon will remark one considerable diversity in the catalogue of saluting friends, and which shews that the catalogue was not copied from that to the Colossians. In the Epistle to the Colossians, Aristarchus is called by St. Paul his fellow-prisoner, (Colos. iv. 10.); in the Epistle to Philemon, Aristarchus is men.
tioned without any addition, and the title of fellow-prisoner is given to Epaphras.
And let it also be observed, that notwithstanding the close and circumstantial agreement between the two epistles, this is not the case of an opening left in a genuine writing, which an impostor is induced to fill up; nor of a reference to some writing not extant, which sets a sophist at work to supply the loss, in like manner as, because St. Paul was supposed (Colos. iv. 16.) to allude to an epistle written by him to the Laodiceans, some person has from thence taken the hint of uttering a forgery under that title. The present, I say, is not that case; for Philemon's name is not mentioned in the Epistle to the Colossians: Onesimus's servile condition is no where hinted at, any more than his crime, his flight, or the place or time of his conversion. The story therefore of the gpistle, if it be a fiction, is a fiction to which the author could not have been guided by any thing he had read in St. Paul's genuine writings.
Ver. 4, 5. "I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints."
"Hearing of thy love and faith." This is the form of speech which St. Paul was wont to use towards those churches which he had not seen, or then visited: see Rom. i. 8.; Ephes. i. 15.; Col. i. 3, 4. Toward those churches and persons, with whom he was previ ously acquainted, he employed a different phrase; as "I thank my God always on your behalf" (1 Cor. i. 4.; 2 Thess. i. 3.); or, "upon every remembrance of you" (Phil. i. 3.; 1 Thess. i. 2, 3.; 2 Tim. i. 3.); and never speaks of hearing of them. Yet I think it
Dr. Benson observes, and perhaps truly, that the appellation of fellow-prisoner, as applied by St. Paul to Epaphras, did not imply that they were imprisoned together at the time; any more than your calling a person your fellow-traveller imports that you are then upon your travels. If he had, upon any former occasion, travelled with you, you might afterward speak of him under that title. It is just so with the term fellow-prisoner.
must be concluded, from the nineteenth verse of this epistle, that Philemon had been converted by St. Paul himself: "Albeit, I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides." Here then is a peculiarity. Let us inquire whether the epistle supplies any circumstance which will account for it. We have seen that it may be made out, not from the epistle itself, but from a comparison of the epistle with that to the Colossians, that Philemon was an inhabitant of Colosse: and it farther appears, from the Epistle to the Colossians, that St. Paul had never been in that city; "I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh." Col. ii. 1. Although, therefore, St. Paul had formerly met with Philemon at some other place, and had been the immediate instrument of his conversion, yet Philemon's faith and conduct afterward, inasmuch as he lived in a city which St. Paul had never visited, could only be known to him by fame and reputation.
The tenderness and delicacy of this epistle have long been admired: "Though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such a one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ; I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds." There is something certainly very melting and persuasive in this, and every part of the epistle. Yet, in my opinion, the character of St. Paul prevails in it throughout. The warm, affectionate, authoritative teacher is interceding with an absent friend for a beloved convert. He urges his suit with an earnestness befitting perhaps not so much the occasion, as the ardour and sensibility of his own mind. Here also, as every where, he shews himself conscious of the weight and dignity of his mission: nor does he suffer Philemon for a moment to forget it: "I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient." He is careful also to recall, though obliquely, to Philemon's memory, the sacred obligation under