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during St. Paul's imprisonment at Rome, which lies beyond the period to which the Acts of the Apostles brings up his history; and as we have seen and acknowledged that the epistle contains no reference to any transaction at Ephesus during the apostle's residence in that city, we cannot expect that it should supply many marks of agreement with the narrative. One coincidence however occurs, and a coincidence of that minute and less obvious kind, which, as hath been repeatedly observed, is of all others the most to be relied upon.
Chap. vi. 19, 20, we read, “praying for me, that I
may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds." “ In bonds,” ex daugei, in a chain. In the twenty-eighth chapter of the Acts we are informed, that Paul, after his arrival at Rome, was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him. Dr. Lardner has shown that this mode of custody was in use amongst the Romans, and that whenever it was adopted, the prisoner was bound to the soldier by a single chain : in reference to which St. Paul, in the twentieth verse of this chapter, tells the Jews, whom he had assembled, “ For this cause therefore, have I called for you to see you, and to speak with you, because that for the hope of Israel I. am bound with this chain,” την αλυσιν ταυτην περικειμαι. It is in exact conformity therefore with the truth of St. Paul's situation at the time, that he declares of himself in the epistle, πρεσβευω εν αλυσει. And the exactness is the more remarkable, as árvois (a chain) is nowhere used in the singular number to express any other kind of custody. When the prisoner's
hands or feet were bound together, the word was dequor (bonds), as in the twenty-sixth chapter of the Acts, where Paul replies to Agrippa, “ I would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds,” TAPEXTOS TWY deduwe TOUTWY. When the prisoner was confined between two soldiers, as in the case of Peter, Acts, chap. xii. 6, two chains were employed; and it is said upon his miraculous deliverance, that the “chains” (&aurels, in the plural) “ fell from his hands.” Aequos the noun, and deou as the verb, being general terms, were applicable to this in common with any other species of personal coercion ; but đauois, in the singular number, to none but this.
If it can be suspected that the writer of the present epistle, who in no other particular appears to have availed himself of the information concerning St. Paul, delivered in the Acts, had, in this verse, borrowed the word which he read in that book, and had adapted his expression to what he found there recorded of St. Paul's treatment at Rome; in short, that the coincidence here noted was effected by craft and design ; I think it a strong reply to remark, that, in the parallel passage of the Epistle to the Colossians, the same allusion is not preserved; the words there are,“ 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," si xau dequor. After what has been shown in a preceding number, there can be little doubt but that these two epistles were written by the same person. If the writer, therefore, sought for, and fraudulently
inserted, the correspondency into one epistle, why did he not do it in the other? A real prisoner might use either general words which comprehended this amongst many other modes of custody; or might use appropriate words which specified this, and distinguished it from any other mode. It would be accidental which form of expression he fell upon. But an impostor, who had the art, in one place, to employ the appropriate term for the purpose of fraud, would have used it in both places.
THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS.
WHEN a transaction is referred to in such a manner, as that the reference is easily and immediately understood by those who are beforehand, or from other quarters, acquainted with the fact, but is obscure, or imperfect, or requires investigation, or a comparison of different parts, in order to be made clear to other readers, the transaction so referred to is probably real; because, had it been fictitious, the writer would have set forth his story more fully and plainly, not merely as conscious of the fiction, but as conscious that his readers could have no other knowledge of the subject of his allusion than from the information of which he put them in possession.
The account of Epaphroditus, in the Epistle to the Philippians, of his journey to Rome, and of the business which brought him thither, is the article to which I mean to apply this observation. There are three passages in the epistle which relate to this subject. The first, chap. i. 7, “Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you
in my heart, inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the Gospel, ye all are συγκοινωνοι μου της χαριτος, joint contributors to the gift which I have received *.” Nothing more is said in this place. In the latter part of the second chapter, and at the distance of half the epistle from the last quotation, the subject appears again ; “ Yet I posed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and companion in labour, and fellow-soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants : for he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick : for indeed he was sick nigh unto death ; but God had mercy on him, and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon
I sent him therefore the more carefully, that when ye see him again ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold
supsuch in reputation : because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life to supply your lack of service toward me." Chap. ii. 25—30. The matter is here dropped, and no farther mention made of it till it is taken up near the conclusion of the epistle as follows: “But I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again, wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want; for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be ab ased, and I know how to abound; every where and in all things, I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Notwithstanding, ye have well done that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now, ye Philippians, know also, that in the beginning of the Gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me, as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your acocunt.
* Pearce, I believe, was the first commentator, who gave this sense to the expression; and I believe also, that his exposition is now generally assented to. He interprets in the same sense the phrase in the fifth verse, which our translation renders ".
“your fellowship in the Gospel ;" but which in the original is not x06νωνια του ευαγγελιου, οι κοινωνια εν τω ευαγγελιω; but κοινωνια εις το ευαγγελιον. .
But I have all, and abound : I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you.” Chap. iv. 10–18. To the Philippian reader, who knew that contributions were wont to be made in that church for the apostle's subsistence and relief, that the supply which they were accustomed to send to him had been delayed by the want of opportunity, that Epaphroditus had undertaken the charge of conveying their liberality to the hands of the apostle,