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President Emeritus of the Rochester Theological Seminary 



Copyright 1914 by 
A. J. ROWLAND, Secretary 

Published March, 1914 


THIS book, with the exception of the eighth chapter, 
is a stenographic report of lectures delivered to a 
large Sunday-school class, which at times numbered 
as many as three hundred. This fact will explain the 
familiar and even colloquial style of address. While 
the problems of history and exegesis were discussed, 
the lectures were intended to be popular, in the sense 
of being intelligible to all. It is hoped that this has 
not prevented them from being fairly representative 
of the results of modern scholarship. They are now 
printed in the belief that they may be useful to a larger 
number of Christian people than that which first lis- 
tened to them. 

A. H. S. 
ROCHESTER, January 9, 1914. 



" New Testament" means New Covenant, i. Rela- 
tion between old covenant and new, i, 2. Old 
covenant of salvation by law, 2. New covenant 
of salvation by grace, 2. Under the old, ordinances, 
prophecies, judgments, 2. Scattering of the Jews, 
Greek language, 3. Incarnation, and death of Christ, 
3. In him the new covenant ratified, 4. The New 
Testament the final revelation, 4. It is the title-deed 
to our inheritance, 5; the new covenant embodied, 

5. New Testament a collection of many books, 5. 
Not in existence for twenty years after Jesus' death, 

6. Epistles preceded Gospels, 6. Slow and difficult 
transmission, 7. Most of the books in circulation by 
A. D. 70, 7. Canon not complete for three hundred 
years, 8. Proofs of care in making it up, 8. Apoc- 
ryphal literature set aside, 9. The collection of many 
books came to be a single book, 9. The New Testa- 
ment is a unity, 9. Condensation and sublimity of its 
writing, 10. Its unity shows divine inspiration, 10. 
No imperfections inconsistent with truth, n. Yet 
the organic whole is articulate, 12. Three great 
divisions, 12. History, doctrine, prophecy, 13. Like 
the Old Testament, 14. Contrast with the Koran, 14. 
Beginning and end, in both Old Testament and 
New, 15. 


The life of Christ the substance of gospel, 16. It 
is the life of an infinite Being on earth, 16. Christ 
is the eternal Word of God, made flesh, 16; the one 
and only Revealer of God, 17. No other name 



whereby we may be saved, 18. The Infinite can be 
known only as it comes under limitation, 18. God 
comes down and lives a finite life, that we may 
understand him, 19. More worthy than the Greek 
idea of divine seclusion, 19. Self-limitation is the 
highest nobility and dignity, 20. The Word made 
flesh is subject to the laws of human development, 21. 
Misconceptions removed, 21. At twelve years, Jesus 
came to know himself as Sent of God and Son of 
God, 22. Divinity limited by humanity, 23. Illus- 
tration from Humboldt, 23. Christ took form of 
servant, 24. Progress in teaching of Jesus, but 
always truth, 24. Christ subject of teaching, more 
than teacher, 25. Embodied reconciliation between 
God and man, 25. Three years of Christ's ministry 
described, 26. First year an appeal to Jewish au- 
thorities, 26. John describes his rejection by the 
rulers, 27. Second year an appeal to the Jewish peo- 
ple in Galilee, 28. They also reject him, 28. Third 
year an appeal to his disciples, 29. Prepares them 
to preach gospel after his death, 30. 


An oral account preceded our present Gospels, 32. 
Apostles primarily teachers, only secondarily writers, 
32. Converts needed direct instruction, 33. Memory 
was strong, 33. Holy Spirit brought truth to re- 
membrance, 33. Repeated as was the Old Testament, 
34. Salient and vital things were gradually selected, 
34. Types of apostolic doctrine grew up, 35. One 
supplemented another, 35. Yet the essentials were 
stereotyped, 35. Substantial agreement, together with 
individuality and independence, 36. No writing at 
first, 36. But need of writing soon felt, 36. A. D. 50, 
a possible Hebrew Gospel by Matthew, 37. A. D. 55, 
Mark's Gospel in Greek, 37. A. D. 58, Matthew's 
Gospel in Hebrew, 37. A. D. 59, Luke's Gospel, 38. 
All three synoptic Gospels before destruction of 
Jerusalem, 38. John wrote independently long after, 
39; adding chronological data, 39. Gospels show 
diversity in unity, 39. Matthew shows us Christ as 


suffering Messiah and King of Israel, 40; he ad- 
dresses Jews, 40; Mark shows Christ as Wonder- 
worker, 41 ; addresses Romans, 41. Luke shows 
Christ as Friend of humanity, 41 ; addresses Greeks, 
41. John shows us Christ in his divine nature, 42; 
writes for all men, 42. Unity in diversity, 43. Pic- 
tures from different points of view, 43. Illustrated 
by Canaletto and Turner, 44 ; by Plato and Xenophon, 
45. Two plus two equal sixteen, 46. Gospels not 
mere tradition, 46; but record written while wit- 
nesses were living, 46; the settled convictions and 
testimonies of those who knew our Lord, 47. 


The Gospel of sacrifice, 48. Matthew's original 
name was Levi, 48. The publican was a tax-gatherer, 
48; a qualified writer, 49; a humble man, 49; a man 
of means, 49. First wrote in Hebrew, 50; and after- 
ward our Greek translation, 51 ; enlarging as he 
wrote, 51; but quoting Greek Old Testament instead 
of Hebrew, 52. Palestine bilingual, 53; people spoke 
Aramaic, but read Greek, 53; the literary language 
Greek, 54. Date of the Greek Gospel about A. D. 58, 
54; testimony of Irengeus to, 54; before destruction 
of Jerusalem, 55; only wrong view of inspiration 
puts the date after, 55. But Daniel had foretold that 
destruction, 56. The date of the Gospel not long 
before, 56. Object of the Gospel to prepare Jewish 
Christians for trial, 57; by showing them that Christ 
was an almighty Saviour, 57; King of Israel and 
promised Messiah, 58. Historical proof begins with 
genealogy, 58. Christ is son of David and son of 
Abraham, 58; also a suffering Messiah, 58. Two 
classes of predictions fulfilled in him, 59. Matthew 
is the Gospel of rejection, 59. Christ is forsaken by 
Sanhedrin, by Jewish people, by God himself upon 
the cross, 60. The old covenant merged in the new, 
61. Structure of the Gospel, 61 ; first, our Lord's 
official life in Galilee, 62; secondly, preparation for 
the crucifixion, 62. Sermon, miracles, parables, 62; 
sermon, miracles, prophecies, 63. Not chronological, 


but logical, order, 63; not an annalist, like Mark, 64. 
Unique things in Matthew, 64. Christ the Son of 
God and King of Israel, 65; his sacrifice the central 
subject of Matthew, 66. 


John, whose surname was Mark, 67; convert of 
Peter and mentioned in Mark 14 : 51, 52? 68. Cousin 
of Barnabas? 68. Went with Paul and Barnabas to 
Antioch and Perga, 69; left Paul, 69; recovered 
Paul's confidence, 69. The familiar companion of 
Peter and Paul, 70. Interpreter of Peter, 70. Evi- 
dences of Peter's sanction, 71. Mark inspired, as 
standing in place of an apostle, 72. Gospel written 
possibly in Babylon, A. D. 55 or 56, 73. Written for 
Roman readers, 73 ; the Gospel of miracles, 73 ; Christ 
the Wonder-worker, 73. Method of an annalist, 74; 
chronological order, 74; little grouping, 74. Many 
miracles, but few parables, 75. Gospel of activity, 76. 
Christ the Lion of the tribe of Judah, 76. The word 
" straightway," 76. Christ majestic and awe-in- 
spiring, 77. The briefest of the Gospels, 78; most 
picturesque, 78; minute detail, 78. Unique things in 
Mark's Gospel, 79. Adaptation to Roman readers, 
80. Mark explains things familiar in Palestine, 81. 
Witness to miracles, 82; in spite of Sadducean un- 
belief, 82; contrast to medieval accounts, 82; a 
credible narrative, 83. 


The Gospel of Christ's humanity, 84. Luke is 
Lucanus, not a Jew, born at Antioch, 84. Gospel 
dedicated to Theophilus, 84, a man of note and 
wealth, 85. Luke an educated physician, 85; com- 
panion of Paul from Troas, 85; goes with Paul 
to Philippi, but there remains for seven years, 86. 
The "we passages" in the Acts, 87. Date of the 
Gospel, 87. Material collected at Caesarea, 88; 
written about A. D. 59, 89. A Pauline Gospel, in 
what sense, 89. Testimony of Irenseus and Tertul- 


Han, 89. " The beloved physician," 90. Inferences 
from Marcion, 91. Luke has wider horizon than 
Matthew or Mark, 92. Adapted to the Greeks, 92. 
Application to universal humanity, 92; the human 
side of Christ, 92. Unique things in Luke, 93. 
Christ's discourses show his humaneness, 94; the 
sympathizing, loving Saviour, 95. Christ's prayers, 
95. Luke a painter? 96. Writes classical Greek, 
96; yet quotes Hebraistic documents, 96. Faithful 
to his materials, 97; a painter with the pen, 97; 
shows us Christ as Light to lighten the Gentiles, 97. 


John and James sons of Zebedee, 98. John pos- 
sibly lived and studied in Jerusalem before his dis- 
cipleship, 98; known to the high priest, and took 
our Lord's mother to his home, 98. Special intimacy 
with our Lord, 99. In company with Peter, 99; 
finally goes to Ephesus, 99; dies only at close of the 
century, 100. Exile under Nero, and writing of 
Apocalypse, 100. Man of intuitive perception and 
ardent affection, 100; fiery indignation, not feminine 
weakness, 101. Depth of love measured by hatred 
of wrong, 102. Insight and love combined qualify 
him to perceive the divine side of Christ, 103; and 
the union of the believer with his Saviour, 103. 
John the author of the Gospel, 103; a Jew, 103; 
whom Jesus loved, 104. Testimony of church 
Fathers, 104. Style different from Apocalypse, 104; 
illustration from George William Curtis, 105. Christ's 
discourses melt into John's comments, 106; under 
guidance of Christ's promised Spirit, 106. Writes 
long after the Synoptists, 107; treats miracles as 
symbols and texts of great truths, 108. Five miracles 
wholly new, 108. John writes a supplement to Luke 
and the two former Gospels, 109; to show Christ's 
divinity, no. Plan of the Gospel, no. Growth of 
faith and of unbelief, following divine revelation, no. 
Types of faith and of unbelief, in. Culmination of 
faith in Thomas, in. Chapter 21 is an epilogue, 
112. Relation of Gospel to the Synoptics, and to the 


Apocalypse, 112; to John's Epistles, 113. Unique 
things in John's Gospel, 113. Deals with internal, 
not external, things, 114. Style corresponds to mat- 
ter, 115. The greatest human composition, 116; 
not forged, but inspired, 116. 


An orthodox essay in higher criticism, 117. John 
composed his Gospel with Luke's before him, 117. 
Higher aspects of Jesus' life are settled history, 118. 
John's family had permanent residence in Jerusalem, 
119. His acquaintance with high priest and nota- 
bles, 119. Like Saul of Tarsus, educated at Rabbinic 
schools? 120; amid Sadducean surroundings, 120; 
with possible knowledge of Philo's terminology, 121 ; 
seeks John the Baptist to satisfy his soul, 122; 
finds and follows Jesus, 122. In Christ's inner circle, 
123. Luke intimately associated with Paul, 123. 
Paulinism of Luke's Gospel, 124. Luke may have in- 
corporated portions of Mark and Matthew, 125. 
Paul must have wished Ephesians to possess Luke's 
Gospel, 125; to make up for his own departure, 126. 
John goes to Ephesus to take up Paul's work, 127; 
must have found the church in possession of Luke's 
Gospel, 128; supplemented that Gospel at first orally, 
128. Oriental methods of instruction, 129. John 
added what Luke lacked, 129; vindicated the Syn- 
optics, 130; taught of Jesus as the Word of God, 
131 ; the Logos-doctrine, 132 ; Paul had taught it 
before, for substance, 133. Luke's omissions sup- 
plied, 133-141. Summary of conclusions, 142. 


The author is Luke, 143. Reference to the Gospel, 
143. Similarities of style, 143; in speeches of Peter, 
Paul, and James, 144. Date of composition, A. D. 61, 
145; before close of Paul's imprisonment at Rome, 
146. The Acts a possible result of that imprison- 
ment, 147. Paul of service to Christ, as a prisoner, 
148. Original title " The Acts," 148 ; Acts of Christ, 


more than Acts of the Apostles, 149; only such Acts 
of Apostles as determined history of church, 150. 
Two foci, or critical points, prominent, 150; plant- 
ing of church among Jews, and among Gentiles, 151 ; 
Christ's work in us follows Christ's work for us, 
151. The Acts a bridge from the Gospels to the 
Epistles, 152. Jesus began to do and to teach in 
the Gospels, 153; he continues his work in the Acts, 
154; by the Holy Spirit, 154. Acts teaches also uni- 
versal character of Christianity, 155; transition from 
Jews to Gentiles, 156; from Jerusalem to Rome, 
157. Work for Christ since his ascension, 158; the 
fulfilment of his promise to Nathanael, 159. 



Paul born A. D. 7 or 8, 160; a Roman citizen, 
160; high social position, 161 ; yet a Jew, 161 ; edu- 
cated at Jerusalem, 161 ; at feet of Gamaliel, 162. 
Paul ambitious, blameless in conduct, of acute mind, 
but warm affection, 162. Greater intellect than Peter 
or John, 163. His dissatisfaction with self, 163; 
persecution of Christians, 164; stoning of Stephen, 
164; conversion at Damascus, 164. Attempted expla- 
nations by Baur, 165; by Renan, 166. Paul qualified 
to be an apostle by seeing the risen Christ, 166. Effect 
of this vision upon Paul, 167; convinces him of sin, 
167; shows Christ as the only sacrifice, 168; a sacrifice 
for all men, 168. Called to be an apostle, 168; wider 
and wider missionary journeys, 168; he now has a 
doctrine to preach, 169; which he puts into his 
letters, 170; especially to Rome, the center of the 
world, 170. Paul not founder of Roman church, 
171 ; nor Peter, 171 ; or Paul would have mentioned 
him, 171. Roman church mainly Gentile, 172. Dif- 
ferences among its members, 172; Paul aims to 
reconcile them, 172. Epistle written from Corinth, 
A. D. 56, 172; its main object to set forth Paul's 
gospel, 173; not the facts of Christ's life, but the 
explanation of their meaning, 173. Paul's summary 
of Christian doctrine, 174. His preparation as a 
lecturer, 174; he treats faith as opposed to works, 


175; not simply justification by faith, but salva- 
tion by faith, 175. Explains rejection of Jews, 176; 
and closes with exhortations to duty, 177. Heathen- 
ism differs from Christianity, 178. Paul principal 
author of New Testament, 179. Coleridge's estimate 
of this Epistle, 179; contrasted with that of Julian, 
179, 1 80. 


Situation of Corinth, 181 ; chosen for defense, 
181. History of the city, 182; its marvelous growth, 
182; its temples and schools, 183; its immorality, 183. 
In A. D. 52 Paul came as a solitary tent-maker, 
184; found Aquila and Priscilla, 184; preached 
Christ, 185. Antagonism of Jews, 185; yet many 
conversions, 186. Paul departs after year and half, 
186; Apollos comes, 186; instructed by Aquila and 
Priscilla, 186; more showy than Paul, 187. Parties 
grew up, 188. Five years after, church asks Paul's 
advice, 189; as to practical matters, 189. Epistle not 
mainly doctrinal, as that to the Romans, 189; deals 
with questions of practice, 190; ten important ques- 
tions, 191 ; party spirit, 191 ; immorality, 192 ; law- 
suits, 192; meats offered to idols, 193; marriage, 194; 
women unveiled, 194; modesty and subordination of 
permanent obligation, 195; spiritual gifts, 196; the 
resurrection, 196. In Macedonia Paul learns that 
the church in Corinth had followed his advice, 197; 
his anxiety changed to joy, 197; he writes his Second 
Epistle, 197; his thanksgiving, 198; collection for 
the poor saints in Jerusalem, 198. These Epistles 
show Paul's firmness, yet his courtesy, 198. 


With Moffatt, we hold to the North Galatian 
theory, 200. Galatians and Gauls are the same, 200; 
their history, 201 ; French characteristics, 202 ; im- 
pulsive and inconstant, 202; given to externals of 
religion, 203. Church founded, in 51 or 52, while 
Paul was detained in Galatia by illness, 204. His 


"thorn in the flesh," 204; an affection of the eyes, 
204; in 54, writes this Epistle from Ephesus, to 
warn the church against Judaizing teachers, 205, 
206. Galatians rough draft of Romans, 207; its 
oneness of purpose, 207; unlike Corinthians, 208; 
its uniform severity, 208; yet fatherly affection, 208; 
its effect unknown, 209. The course of thought, 
209; not by law, or by works, but by faith in Christ, 
are we saved, 209. Three parts: a personal narra- 
tive, 210; a doctrinal portion, 211; illustration, 212; 
a hortatory portion, 213. Strife in early church per- 
mitted that we might be free? 213. Luther's affec- 
tion for this Epistle, 213. Ritualism revives the 
evil against which Paul wrote, 214; the Romans and 
the French specially need these Epistles, 215. 


Location of Ephesus, 216; a great city, 216; its 
temple of Diana, 216; its schools of rhetoric and 
philosophy, 217. Paul's first visit in 53, his second 
in A. D. 54, 217; his whole stay for three years, 217; 
great success of his preaching, 217. Success roused 
opposition, 218; fight with beasts metaphorical, 218; 
Paul driven from the city, 218; his love for the 
church, 218. The Epistle written from Rome, in 63, 
219. Paul writes and works "in a chain," 219; 
imprisonment gives time for meditation, 220; pro- 
found exposition of Christian truth, 220; the won- 
derful privileges of believers, 221. The Epistle 
liturgical and psalmodic, a solemn hymn, 221 ; lan- 
guage struggles under its weight of meaning, 222. 
Address lacks the words " in Ephesus," 222 ; a cir- 
cular letter, though sent first to the Ephesians, 223; 
Tychicus may have given personal messages, 224. 
Subject is " Christ Head over all things to the 
church," 225; the greatness of Christ, 225. Three 
chapters doctrinal, and three practical, 225; first, 
the church chosen, redeemed, and endowed, 226; 
secondly, the offices, gifts, and duties of believers, 
227; finally, the conflict between good and evil, 
228; and the Christian's armor to meet it, 228. Love 


wins, because it expresses Christ within, 229; whose 
life we share, 230, 231. 


Philippi a gateway from East to West, 232; a 
Roman colony, 233; where Latin was spoken, 233; 
and Christianity first came in contact with Roman 
civilization, 233. The " man of Macedonia " sum- 
mons Paul, 234. No Jewish synagogue, 234; but a 
place of prayer frequented by women, 234. Lydia 
converted, 235; the soothsaying girl, 235; Paul and 
Silas mobbed, scourged, and imprisoned, 236; earth- 
quake and conversion of jailer, 236. Paul released, 
but banished, 237. Luke left in Philippi, 237. The 
church firm in its faith and love, 238; contributed to 
Paul's support, 239. Epistle almost wholly com- 
mendatory, 239; yet warns against possible faults, 
239. Written later than Ephesians, Colossians, and 
Philemon, 240 ; its date about A. D. 63, 241 ; ex- 
presses Paul's gratitude, 242. Only two offices in 
the church, 242. Prayer that love may abound in 
knowledge, 243. Humility urged by Christ's hum- 
bling himself, 243. Paul loves the Philippians in the 
heart of Christ, 244; Christ's heart has become his 
heart, 245; union with Christ is the secret of Chris- 
tian sympathy, 245; for Paul "to live is Christ, 
and to die is gain/' 246. 


Colosse the smallest church Paul addressed, 247. 
Jewish influence mixed with Oriental theoso'phy, 
247. Epaphras its evangelist, 248; Paul's fellow 
prisoner, told him of the strange teaching, 248. 
Onesimus and Tychicus messengers, 249; A. D. 62 
or 63, 249. Like Laodicea, Colosse was lukewarm, 
250; from pride of esoteric wisdom, 250; God held 
separate from the world, 251 ; evil physical only, 
251 ; intermediate creations between man and God, 
252; these angelic powers could be worshiped, 253; 
evil removed by mortifying the body, 253. The 
remedy is Christ, the only Mediator, 254; the Head 


of the universe, 254. Christ's wisdom belongs to 
all, 255; nothing is exclusive or esoteric, 255. Christ 
supersedes angels as mediators, 256. Asceticism is 
needless, because Christ is the only Purifier, 257; 
therefore beware of false philosophy, 259; the rudi- 
ments of the world, first letters of alphabet, 259; 
only Christianity has full knowledge of the truth, 
260; and is the guarantee against immorality of 
life, 261. Colossians shows Christ as Head of the 
universe, 261 ; as Ephesians showed him to be Head 
of the church, 261. 


^ Importance of Thessalonica, 262; the capital of 
Macedonia, 262; a center from which the gospel 
might spread, 263. Paul worked here at his trade, 
263; but received contributions from Philippi, 264. 
Four weeks of preaching in synagogue, 265; Jews 
stirred up against him, 265; charged him with 
treason to Caesar, 266 ; drove Paul out, 266. Persecu- 
tion fell on members of church, 266; calls forth 
his first letter of sympathy, 266; and second 
letter of gratitude, 267. Greeks needed advice 
to repress impulsiveness, indolence, sensuality, 267. 
Special mistakes as to second coming of Christ, 
268; Paul does not teach it as immediate, 269; but 
is so misunderstood by some, 270; the Second Epistle 
written to correct this misunderstanding, 270. Both 
Epistles dated A. D. 51, 270; the two perfectly agree, 
270; the second adds information as to inter- 
vening events, 271. We distinguish between private 
surmises and public teaching, 272; Paul came later 
to regard Christ's coming as more distant, 273; but 
he had never taught it to be near, 274. Prophecy 
is unfolded progressively in New Testament as in 
Old, 274; so with doctrine and polity, 275. Progress 
in teaching determined by practical needs, 276. The 
"man of sin" is the principle of false religion, 277; 
not simply Roman Catholicism, 277; began its de- 
velopment thus early, 277; Thessalonians shows that 
Christ will come to put it down, 278. 



Called the Pastoral Epistles, because written to 
pastors of the churches, 279; date 64 or 65, the last 
of Paul's writing, 279. Timothy had Jewish mother, 
but Greek father, 280; his natural gifts, 280. Titus 
of sterner stuff, 281 ; representative of the Gentiles, 
281 ; apostle of Dalmatia, 282. Two opposite types 
of character, 282. Date of the Epistles 64 and 65, 
283; after Paul's first imprisonment, 283; and he 
had gone to Spain, 284; and to Crete, 284. From 
Philippi writes to Timothy, 284; from Nicopolis to 
Titus, 285. At Nicopolis Paul is arrested, taken 
to Rome, 285; writes Second Epistle to Timothy, 
285; in real need, asks for books and parchments, 
286. Paul's martyrdom soon follows, 286. These 
Epistles counteract two dangers: (i) False doctrine 
of Judaizing and Gnostic teachers, 287; Paul meets 
this by recurring to first principles, 287; (2) difficulty 
as to church organization, 288; Paul meets this by 
teaching of church offices and government, 288. 
Style of Pastoral Epistles differs from Paul's earlier 
style, 288; as private letters differ from public, 289. 
Paul's experiences at approach of death, 290 ; his care 
for the church after his departure, 291. Gravitates 
to Rome, and from there writes his last letter, 292. 


Philemon one of the Colossian Christians, 293; 
converted by Epaphras, 293 ; church met at his house, 
293 ; Paul's " partner," 293 ; Apphia, the wife, Archip- 
pus, the son, of Philemon, 294. Onesimus, slave, 
thief, and runaway, 295; made his way to Rome, 
295; was there converted by Paul, 296; became use- 
ful to Paul, 296. But Paul sent Onesimus back to 
his master, 297; with this letter, 297. A private 
letter, like 2 and 3 John, 297; with gracious intro- 
duction, 298; appeals to Philemon, not with- authority, 
but for the sake of Christ, 299; to forgive Onesimus 
and receive him back, 299. In Colossians, Paul com- 
mends Onesimus to the whole church, 300. Paul will 


pay his debt, 300. Compare letter of the elder Pliny, 
301 ; Paul's letter has no air of command, 302 ; 
Christian intercourse on the basis of love, 302; its 
spirit undermines, and finally does away with, slavery, 
303; model of Christian effort against organized 
wrongs of society, 303 ; Hebrew and Roman slavery 
contrasted, 304; both now abolished, 305. 


Many enigmas, 306; purest Greek, 306; stormy his- 
tory, 306; not an Epistle of Paul, 307; doctrinal 
reasons, 307; rhetorical reasons, 308; style not 
broken, but flowing, 309; Paul is dialectic, 309; this 
Epistle is rhetorical, 310; best ascribed to Apollos, 
310; a Jew, an Alexandrian, and mighty in the 
Scriptures, 311. Epistle addressed to Hebrews in 
Jerusalem and vicinity, 312; in persecution and 
tempted to apostatize, 313; excluded from temple, 
314; A. D. 67, before destruction of Jerusalem, 314. 
Christ the final sacrifice made Old Testament sacri- 
fices no longer needed, 315. Christ greater than 
angels, 316; greater than Moses, 316; greater than 
Aaron, 316; typified by Melchisedec, 316; since 
Christ abides, Old Testament priests may go, 317. 
Practical follows doctrinal part, 317. The divine 
Priest is also human, 318; he is our brother, 318; the 
one and final revelation of God to man, 319; apostasy 
from him is apostasy from God and from salvation, 
319. Warnings ensure perseverance, 320. 


James, our Lord's brother, 321 ; president of the 
church at Jerusalem, 322; converted after Christ's 
resurrection, 322; distinguished from the apostles, 
323; Christ's appearance to his brother converted 
him, 324. James calls himself a servant, 324. Mary 
had other children than Jesus, 325 ; Christianity gives 
honor to marriage, 325. An apostle would not be 
president of a local body, 326. Jesus gave his mother 
to John, 326; faith being better than blood, 326. 
James austere and righteous, 327 ; surnamed " The 


Just," 327; his decisions accepted, 328; he never left 
the Old Testament church, 328; could best influence 
Jewish Christians, 329; martyred just before de- 
struction of Jerusalem, 330. His Epistle the earliest 
document of the New Testament, 330; A. D. 47, 331 ; 
would correct wrong practices and tendencies among 
Jewish Christians, 331 ; not doctrinal, 332 ; " be not 
hearers only, but doers," 333. Luther's objection 
short-sighted, 333. James teaches nature of true faith, 
334; not inconsistent with Paul, 335; faith alone justi- 
fies, but faith is never alone, 335; it brings good 
works in its train, 336. 


Peter's original name Simon, 337; fisherman of 
Bethsaida, 337; brought to Christ by his brother 
Andrew, 337. Innermost circle of apostles, 338. 
Ardent affection and openness of heart, 338; but rash 
and overconfident, 338. First preacher to the Jews, 
and also to the Gentiles, 339. Church built on the 
rock Peter, 340; not as a person alone, but as a 
confessor of Christ, 340; person and confession both 
needed, 340; personality plus truth, 341. Peter tem- 
porarily unfaithful, 341. Transition from Peter to 
Paul, 341. Epistles written from Babylon, 342; not 
a name for Rome, 342; no evidence that Peter was 
at Rome, 342; Paul would have mentioned him if he 
had been founder, 342. Epistles written to churches 
founded by Paul, 343; after Paul's death, 344; in 
A. D. 66, 345. The churches already have doctrine, 
345; Peter counteracts wrong practical tendencies, 
345. He sanctions Paul's writings, 346; recognizes 
them as of equal authority with the Old Testament, 
346; is influenced by Paul, 347; Paul and Peter con- 
nected, 347. Second Epistle counteracts false teach- 
ers within the church, 348; as the First had helped 
against persecution from without, 348. Genuine- 
ness of 2 Peter doubted, 348 ; only A. D. 250 have 
we clear witness to it, 349; the work of an old man, 
350; in time of persecution, 350; long hidden, 351; 
curious analogies of Luther's, Milton's, Aristotle's 


writings, 351. Internal evidence of its genuineness, 
352. Peter the apostle of hope, 352; but hope based 
on historical facts, 353; so he can strengthen his 
brethren, 353. 


First Epistle has no address, 354; anonymous, 354; 
John never mentions his own name, 354; Gospel 
written before the Epistle, 355; A. D. 96 or 97, 
355- Gospel represents Christ as incarnate in human- 
ity, 356; Epistle represents humanity as united to 
God in Christ, 356; is the application of the Gospel 
sermon, 357. Jerusalem has been destroyed, and 
heathen are not mentioned, 357. Church difficulties 
are all internal, 358. John protests against the degrada- 
tion of Christ, 358; against the doctrine of Cerin- 
thus, 358; maintains indissoluble union in Christ of 
deity and humanity, 360; John not effeminate, but a 
Boanerges, a hater of evil, 361. Beginnings of Gos- 
pel and Epistle are alike, 361. Two great divisions 
of Epistle, 362; first, God is light, walk in the light, 
362; secondly, God is love, walk in love, 363. Since 
God is light, fellowship with him involves putting 
away of sin, 364; since God is love, fellowship with 
him involves love for the brethren, 364. Purity of 
life and love to the brethren enjoined, 365; need 
of increasing sanctification, 365 ; as Jesus says : " So 
shall ye become my disciples," 366. John aims that 
the joy of Christians may be fulfilled, 366; and that 
they may know that they have eternal life, 366. 
John's legacy, 367; last New Testament document, 
367; 2 and 3 Epistles, 368. 


Jude the brother of James, 369; no independent 
standing as an apostle, 369; one of Jesus' half- 
brothers, 370; converted after the resurrection, 
370. Tradition that he preached to Jews in 
Palestine and Egypt, 371 ; written before Peter's 
death, 371 ; A. D. 64-66, 372. Resemblance between 
Jude and 2 Peter, 372. Jude the original, 372; 


Peter adopts thought and some of the expressions, 
373; Jude the briefer and more condensed, 373; the 
inspiring Spirit made the two consult and cooperate, 
374; as Micah and Isaiah, 374. Design of Epistle, 
first, to oppose antinomian Gnosticism, 374; urges 
contending for faith once for all delivered to 
saints, 375; this faith an easily recognized doctrine 
of Christ, 375. No esoteric doctrine the possession 
of the few, 375. Design, secondly, to denounce 
punishment upon those who resist the truth, 375. 
Three sins reproved: unbelief, pride, sensuality, 376; 
three punishments, 376. The remedy, the word of 
God, love, and bringing back the wanderers, 376. 
Watchcare and discipline, 377; exhortation and 
doxology, 377. Quotation from book of Enoch, 377; 
sanction of Apocryphal writing? 378. Was book of 
Enoch in existence? 378. Jude may have gotten 
his quotation from tradition, 379; he takes nothing 
that is false, 380. Tone of invective like Jesus' de- 
nunciation of Pharisees, 380. Yet sublime utterance 
of praise called forth by the judgments of God, 
381. God judges and punishes iniquity, 381. 


Here we pass from beginning to end, 382. John 
the author of the book, 382; written in Patmos, be- 
fore destruction of Jerusalem, 383; its date about 
A. D. 68, 383. John had removed to Ephesus after 
Mary's death, 383. The persecution under Nero, 
384. Early date accounts for differences in style of 
Apocalypse and Gospel, 384; peculiarities of Greek 
construction, 384 ; the writer still young, a " Son of 
Thunder," 385. John became the apostle of love, 386. 
In Revelation, Jews are still a hostile power, 386; 
the two witnesses, 387; the number 666, 387; the 
five kings and the sixth, 387; evil tendencies had de- 
veloped rapidly, 388; Paul had warned the Ephesians 
already, 388. The Jewish nation had reached a 
climax of corruption, 388; the Roman Empire equally 
corrupt, 389; Nero was on the throne, 389. Chris- 
tians needed strengthening, 390. Interpretations of 


the book diverse, 390 ; the Praeterists, 390 ; the Futur- 
ists, 390; the Continuists, 391. The key is in our 
Lord's Apocalyptic discourse, 392; the book of 
Revelation a commentary upon it, 392. All three in- 
terpretations have element of truth, 393. The book 
is an exhibition of principles, 393 ; the book in detail, 
394; the book of God's decrees, 394; only the Lamb 
can understand or execute them, 394. Seals, trum- 
pets, bowls, all represent same events, 395. First 
resurrection spiritual, 395; Christ's visible coming 
postmillennial, 396; not separated from resurrection 
and general judgment, 396. Salvation not solely in- 
dividual, 397; a glorious company, 397; redeemed 
by the Lamb, 398; who makes visible the Godhead 
to man, 398. 


WE are to study the books of the New Testament. It 
is the New Testament of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus 
Christ. It is well, at the very beginning, to know what 
that phrase, the " New Testament," means. The 
words are taken from the institution of the Supper. 
It is there that we first find them. Our old version 
reads : " This is my blood of the New Testament, which 
was shed for many for the remission of sins." If you 
look into the Revised Version, you will see that the 
translation is changed; and now we have: "This is 
my blood of the new covenant, which was shed for 
many for the remission of sins." The word " testa- 
ment " means "covenant." It often is so translated; 
and we now have to study together the New Covenant 
between God and sinful man. 

Of course this suggests at once the relation between 
the new covenant and the old covenant. A covenant 
is an agreement, an agreement between God and man. 
Provisionally there was an agreement that men should 
be saved if they could only present to God perfect 
works of obedience. This was a trial or test; intended 
to show the real condition of man. God never expected 
any human being under the old covenant to present 
such works of perfect obedience; he only intended to 
demonstrate the fact that human nature was helpless, 
and that it could not be saved in this way. There- 
fore, for many, many generations there was going on 

A I 


a process of testing, with a view to showing that man 
could never save himself. 

The Scriptures of the old covenant represent that 
history of probation ; and we see how, in many ways, it 
constituted a preparation for the only covenant be- 
tween God and man, by which we can hope for salva- 
tion : namely, the covenant of grace, the covenant of 
mercy in Jesus Christ, through whom we are saved, 
not by works of righteousness, but by simple faith. 
In this covenant of grace salvation is not by character, 
but by the blood of Jesus. 

This long preparation, under the old covenant, was 
conducted by the law; there were ordinances of God; 
the God of gods uttered his commands. But there 
was also prophecy, in which was set forth the coming 
of a Deliverer, through whom men were to be saved. 
Men even then were not saved by their works, but 
they were saved by faith in God, so far as he was re- 
vealed to them practically in the same way in which 
we are saved by believing in God and his method of 
salvation although they did not know it was a sal- 
vation through Jesus Christ. 

Under the old covenant there were also judgments. 
You know in how many ways those were experienced : 
Through the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah ; by 
the destruction of Achan and his family; and then, 
finally, by the exiling of the chosen people from their 
native land and the scattering of them among the 
heathen. That intimates to us one way in which God 
made this preparatory work lead to Christ 

The Jews, on account of their sins, were scattered 
abroad; and wherever they went they erected syna- 


gogues and places of worship; and these were after- 
ward centers for the preaching of the gospel. The 
Jews learned the Greek language, which was the lan- 
guage of the world; just as the French language, not 
many years ago, was the diplomatic language of 
Europe. They came under the influence of the Roman 
law. Alexander had unified the Greek East. Caesar 
had unified the Latin West, and had brought the world 
under one government; so that converts from among 
the Jews were now able to publish the new doctrine of 
Christ. All roads led to Rome, the capital; and there 
was peace prevailing throughout the world. The Jews 
had developed a spirit of proselytism, which was laid 
hold of by Christians, so that, when the Jews became 
Christians, they began to proselytize just as they had 
proselytized when they were Jews. All these things 
were preparations for the coming of Christ, prepara- 
tions for the new covenant. When the fulness of time 
had come, Jesus himself appeared. There had been 
four hundred years of silence in which God had not 
spoken. But now once more the voice of inspiration 
began to be heard ; and the messenger of the new cove- 
nant, Jesus Christ, appeared: he who seals the true 
covenant between God and man, he who reconciles God 
to man and man to God. 

The Jews sacrificed the Son of God, the only true 
propitiation for the sins of man, the only real repara- 
tion for the evil-doing of mankind ; not only a propitia- 
tion, but an atonement, an embodied union between 
God and man. In Jesus Christ we have humanity and / 
Deity united : in fact, the beginning of the Church is 
Christ himself. Humanity is united to God in him, 


and we become united to God only as we become one 
with Christ. We are sons of God only as we are 
partakers in the sacrifice of Jesus. In Christ the cove- 
nant was ratified, the real covenant between God and 
man; the covenant which declared and established 
absolute unity between Deity and the sinful world. 
This was the final covenant, of which all prior cove- 
nants were symbols and preparations. 

Have you ever noticed that, in the Old Testament, 
everything points forward? There are no indications 
of completeness anywhere. On the other hand, the in- 
dications are that the system was not a complete one, 
that it looked for something to come, to add perfec- 
tion to it; but, in the New Testament, on the other 
hand, you find the most strenuous prohibitions against 
the adding or taking away of a single jot or tittle 
from this revelation. The New Testament is the final 
revelation. It is the true covenant, the covenant for 
which all the Old Testament prepared the way, the 
complete and perfect union between God and man in 
the person of Jesus Christ. 

You know how the word " deed " has come to be 
applied to a document. That word deed meant origi- 
nally an act, and a deed of property is the act of 
giving; but the act of giving is not a document. The 
deed is really made before the document is signed, and 
the document only expresses the act and puts it in 

Just so, what we call the New Testament or the 
New Covenant is simply the outward formal* record 
of a deed, a covenant, between God and man, which 
was instituted before a single word was put in writing. 


We look, therefore, upon this New Testament as the 
title-deed to our inheritance. Here we have a precious 
document, in which is embodied a covenant between 
God and man, in which is inscribed and set forth an 
assurance to us of an eternal inheritance. " Search 
the Scriptures, therefore, for in them ye have eternal 
life." What an argument it is for the study of the 
New Testament, that we should search these title- 
deeds, to see how much God has given to us in Jesus 
Christ, his Son! The New Testament is the record 
of the new covenant, the agreement, the reconciliation 
between God and man, the union of Deity with 

But we mistake greatly if we suppose that this book, 
at the beginning, was complete ; that, at the time of the 
first apostles, it was ready-made. The second thing 
that I wish to bring to your attention to-day, after this 
first thought that we have here the new covenant em- 
bodied, put into form, is that this New Testament was 
a collection of many books; that, at the first, it was 
not one complete thing. The word itself is very sig- 
nificant, the word " Bible." The word bible was 
originally plural the singular biblion, the plural was 
biblia. The word biblia was originally used of this 
production which we now call the Old Testament and 
the New Testament. In other words, the thought of 
the plurality of the production was the prominent 
thought; and it was only afterward, as I shall show 
you, that that plural word came to be a singular word, 
came to be " The Bible," came to be biblion, a singular 
noun, whereas at first it was biblia. The transition 
from the plural to the singular is very significant of 


the change in the estimation which Christian people 
put upon what we now call the books of the New 
Testament. We have here a divine unity; but it is to 
the thought of it as a collection that I want, at this 
time, to call your attention. 

The apostles and apostolic men felt, at first, that they 
were only required to communicate orally the substance 
of the teachings of Christ. I suppose that for twenty 
whole years after the Saviour's death there was not 
in existence a single one of these books which we call 
the New Testament. All the preaching of the time 
was oral; but it is very evident that, after one and 
another of the early witnesses began to die, and Chris- 
tians realized that merely oral production is in danger 
of becoming corrupt, they began to think of the neces- 
sity of putting into permanent form this gospel of 
which they had been testifying. The result was that 
one after another of these New Testament books came 
into existence. The order in which the books occur 
in our present New Testament was not the order in 
which they were written. The truth is that not one of 
the Gospels was written until most of the Epistles had 
come into being. The Epistles to the Thessalonians 
were probably the first written, and then other Epistles 
followed. The majority of the Epistles were in exist- 
ence before any of the Gospels were written; but it 
*/was the exigencies of the times that determined what 
the apostles should write. There were errors spring- 
ing up, there were particular errors of unbelief and 
there were particular forms of wrong conduct to which 
Christians were exposed; and therefore it was, that 
the apostles wrote simple letters to the churches, warn- 


ing them of these errors and instructing them on these 
points of which they were ignorant. So, little by little, 
there grew up a doctrine, a written teaching. 

These letters were first written to separate churches, 
and the difficulties of transmission were many. There 
was no such thing as a printing-press. All these books 
had to be transcribed in manuscript, and that was a 
long, tedious matter. The letter that was written to 
one church had to be transcribed, and then communi- 
cated to another; there were no mails in those days, 
and no such thing as the penny post. There were also 
difficulties in the transmission of the doctrine, owing 
to persecution. There was nothing like the settled 
government that we have to-day. The result is that 
some of these books took a long time to get into cir- 

The Epistles of Peter, written, I suppose, in Babylon 
far away at the East written in a time of persecu- 
tion, and perhaps hid away on account of persecution, 
did not come into general circulation until the middle 
of the fourth century. This is an isolated and very rare 
instance. In almost all other cases the books of the 
New Testament got into general circulation before the 
year 170, and perhaps even before the middle of the 
second century. 

There are two catalogues of the New Testament 
books, both dating from about the year 170, which 
materially supplement each other, and together give 
us all of the New Testament except Second Peter and 
the First and Second Epistles of John as we might 
say, insignificant parts of the New Testament. 

It is only in the year 363, at the Council of Laodicea, 


that you have all of the books of the New Testament 
embraced in a catalogue, and not all of the New Testa- 
ment even then, for the Apocalypse was not among 
them. It was only in the year 397, at the Third Coun- 
cil of Carthage, that a list of the New Testament books 
was put together which embraced exactly those books 
which we now have in our New Testament ; so, you see, 
that it was three hundred years after the death of the 
last apostle, John, before our present New Testament 
was actually constructed as we have it to-day. It took 
three hundred years, in other words, to make this 

It is very important, for a good many reasons, that 
we should recognize the fact of this gradual growth. 
There was divine providence in it, as we shall see. 
It was not left wholly to the ingenuity and skill of 
man, though men did exercise their ingenuity and skill 
in deciding as to the claims of the several books that 
came to their notice. 

The early Church has sometimes been represented as 
credulously accepting whatever came to it with pre- 
tense of apostolic origin. How far from true this is 
we can see by remembering Paul's injunction to the 
Thessalonians, to use caution in putting their faith in 
communications professing to come from him. Melito, 
bishop of Sardis, made a journey into Palestine for 
the express purpose of ascertaining the grounds upon 
which the books of the Old Testament were received; 
and as a result of his investigation he excluded the 

Tertullian tells us of the deposition from office of a 
presbyter in Asia Minor for the crime of forging a 


letter, which purported to be a letter of the apostle 
Paul; so you will see that there was skill used in the 
selection of the right writings, and that we have, in 
the books which now bear the name of the New Testa- 
ment, the result of careful scrutiny and criticism on 
the part of the best Christian people. In fact, I think 
you will have brought before your mind the great work 
which was performed by Christian people in that early 
century, in that they rejected a great deal more than 
they received. The whole of the Apocryphal literature 
as great in bulk as the New Testament was set 
aside as unworthy of a place in the sacred canon. The 
true word of God is manifest from this fact, that all the 
books of the New Testament, as we have them now, 
sound one peculiar note. There is a peculiar air about 
them; they have characteristics which are totally for- 
eign to this Apocryphal literature of which I have 
spoken. There was an inner Christian sense, under the 
guidance of the Holy Spirit, that led to the rejection 
of the evil, and brought into the New Testament only 
that which was of divine origin. 

So I pass to that which is the third thought of my 
remarks this morning, that, although this is a collec- 
tion of books and originally was entitled " The Books 
of the New Covenant," it came, at the last, before the 
fourth century was concluded, to be " The Book." 
There came to be recognized in it an organic unity. 
In other words, the biblia became the biblion. l The 
Books " became " The Book of God." " The Books 
of the New Covenant " became the New Testament. 

How remarkable this is I think you will see when 
you remember that the apostles never gathered 


together (as some have supposed) and held a consulta- 
tion as to what they would write, one of them declar- 
ing that he would write this portion, and another that 
he would write that. There never was any consultation 
or calculation at all in regard to it ; and the New Tes- 
tament sprang up almost as a matter of accident, look- 
ing at it from a human point of view. 

The apostles were widely separated : some in Rome, 
some in Babylon, some in Galilee, and some in Africa ; 
and yet each one wrote with a condensation, a sim- 
plicity, a sublimity, and a spirituality that belong to 
no other writings of man. The condensation of the 
apostolic writing is something wonderful. Students 
of literature know how easy it is to fall into a florid, 
diffuse style, and how exceedingly hard it is to write 
in a condensed way, so that every single sentence shall 
be a nugget of gold. Look into the books of the 
heathen, and you find there a single grain of wheat in 
a bushel of chaff. The distinction of the New Testa- 
ment is that it is all wheat, there is not one single grain 
of chaff. It is all good, and it is all divine. 

This condensation, as a mere literary effect, is utterly 
inexplicable, unless you take into consideration the 
guidance of God. The absence of all self-assertion, the 
absence of all self-consciousness, is something wonder- 
ful, but also the sublimity of it all. There are more 
sublime writings in this New Testament than there 
are, I think, in all literature besides, unless you except 
the Old Testament Scriptures. Things .that are un- 
seen and eternal, instead of things that are seen, occupy 
the thought and glorify the style. 

Though the New Testament is a collection by eight 


or nine different writers, you have a unity of subject, 
spirit, and aim that is absolutely inexplicable unless 
you suppose it to be the book of God ; unless you be- 
lieve that these writers were spiritually directed in 
what they wrote; so that their writings, taken alto- 
gether, form a complete and organic whole. They 
builded better than they knew. I do not suppose that 
one of these writers, not even Paul himself, had any 
idea that his Epistles were going to be read and quoted 
as they have been read and quoted this morning. I 
do not imagine that Paul had any idea that his wri- 
tings were to have texts taken from them, and that 
they would be the foundation of sermons in every 
country on earth. No one of the New Testament 
writers had any idea that he was writing part of a 
collection. It makes no difference whether he did or 
did not. God knew ; God had a plan and purpose in it ; 
and each workman had to lay his stone, each had to 
build up his part of the structure. While there was 
growth, while there was a gradual collection, the New 
Testament, at last, became one organic whole, through 
the power of the Holy Spirit, which worked in and 
through these writings ancl tHeir writers. 

I do not mean to say that there are no imperfections 
in this book; but I also do not mean to say that there 
is falsity or error here. It is divine communication, 
put in human forms and molds. There is some bad 
grammar now and then in the Apocalypse; there are 
some rhetorical infelicities that could not stand the 
test ; but there is nothing inconsistent with truth, though 
the writing is full of the idiosyncrasies of the writer. 
The books of the New Testament are all the more 


adapted to reach our hearts, they are all the more 
adapted to the common uses of life, just because they 
come from living hearts and minds. which have been 
touched by the Holy Ghost. So the word of God is 
the Word made flesh, just as Christ is the Word made 
flesh in another way. This makes the New Testament 
a finality. It is a complete thing. It is never to be 
superseded, for example, by Mohammedanism, by 
Swedenborgianism, or by Mormonism, each of which 
comes to us with a new revelation, purporting to be 
from God, but which discloses its own falsity by vio- 
lating the fundamental principle that nothing is to be 
added to this New Testament, because it is an organic 
whole, a complete revelation. 

There is just one thought further, and that is this: 
Every organic whole is articulate, and is to be looked 
upon in that aspect, as well as in the aspect of its 
organic wholeness. This human body of ours is an 
organ, but there are articulate parts. There is the 
circulatory system, and there is the respiratory sys- 
tem; we have our different limbs for various offices; 
and there is the brain and the heart. While these are 
all parts of one whole, yet the fact that there is an 
organic whole does not prevent the existence of sepa- 
rate members, with separate offices. The New Testa- 
ment is peculiarly articulate. I might say that it has 
its articulate parts, and no two of those members have 
precisely the same office. There are three great divi- 
sions in the New Testament; and if I impress nothing 
else upon your minds to-day, I should like to impress 
upon you the fact that there is a threefold division in 
the New Testament, which we cannot safely discard. 


In the first place, there is history; in the second tg-A-Cl 
place, doctrine; and in the third place, prophecy. 
Where do we have the history? Why, we see at once 
that we have the history, as a basis of all, in the life 
of Christ and the apostles. In other words, the Gos- 
pels and the Acts give us the basis of the whole, the 
foundation of the structure. Then what comes next? 
.Why, there doctrine. Where have we that 
doctrine? We have it in a long series of Epistles. I 
believe there are twenty-one of them in all Epistles 
in which the spiritual meaning of Christ's life is given 
us; and these doctrinal teachings of the apostles con- 
tain for us something remarkable in this, that they 
almost, without exception, explain the germinal say- 
ings and teachings of Jesus Christ himself. In other 
words, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, they 
expound the meaning of what Jesus Christ himself com- 
municated. But we are not left the doctrinal teachings 
simply; we have also, as it were, the gates of heaven 
opened and a view of the future bestowed upon us. 
History, Doctrine, Prophecy. Jesus Christ in the flesh 
on the earth, teaching in the Gospels ; then, Jesus Christ 
in his church teaching through the Epistles ; and, finally, 
Jesus Christ in heaven, the future glory and reward of 
the righteous. These are the three parts of the New 

The New Testament is not only an organic whole, 
but it is an articulate whole. It has its separate mem- 
bers as well as its organic unity. This great structure 
has its foundation in the Gospels and in the Acts; its 
superstructure in the doctrinal teaching of the Epistles ; 
and its crowning dome, from which it looks up to 


heaven and out to the great hereafter, in the prophecies 
of the Apocalypse. 

You notice there is some similarity between the New 
and the Old Testament. The Old Testament began 
with history; then gave material for teaching and for 
worship in the Psalms and the Proverbs; and finally 
concluded with prophecy. So the New Testament 
gives history first, then doctrine, and finally prophecy. . 

I trust we have now a glimpse of the organism of the 
New Testament. The historical portion is an organism 
of itself, the treatment of which I must leave for 
another time. The doctrinal portion of the New Tes- 
tament has its organic relations also, and so it is with 
the Apocalypse. I give you to-day only the three 
great divisions, the main divisions of the New Testa- 
ment: History, Doctrine, and Prophecy. 

Even with these few words that I have been able to 
speak to you this morning, contrast this organic whole 
of the New Testament with what you find in the Mo- 
hammedan Koran. What is the Koran? The Koran 
is a shapeless mass of accidental accretions, to which 
no human being can find beginning, middle, or end. 
It stamps itself at the very beginning, and to the very 
end it proves itself, as being purely the work of man. 
The New Testament, on the other hand, in contrast 
with heathen writings, gives us a complete whole, as 
beautiful a structure, taken altogether, as the Parthe- 
non on the Acropolis at Athens, or the Saint Peter's at 
Rome ; and all this has grown up, not by the wisdom of 
man, but by the wisdom and the power of God. Here 
you have a progressive revelation, gradually advancing 
with the development of Christ's doctrine, until at 


last the whole structure is complete, and we have " all 
things that pertain to life and godliness." 

Not only is this true of the New Testament, but it is 
true also of the relation of the New to the Old. The 
Bible begins with the words, " In the beginning, God 
created the heavens and the earth " ; and it ends with the 
words, " Even so come, Lord Jesus." The very begin- 
ning and the very end. And this magnificent revelation 
is a great bridge spanning the interval between. How 
wonderfully the Bible ends ! How wonderful the New 
Testament is, in giving us first the basis of historical 
fact, before any inferences are to be drawn, before any 
doctrines are to be taught, before any application, be- 
fore any prophecies. You have the solid basis of his- 
torical fact in the life and death and resurrection of 
Jesus Christ. 

You see how important it is, then, that we should 
begin with understanding something of the life of 
Christ, because that life of Christ is the substance of 
the Gospels. Without understanding it, we cannot 
understand the gospel itself; and, therefore, next 
Sunday, if Providence permits, I will treat in a general 
way of the life of Christ, and try to give you some 
general views of that life, the relation of its separate 
years to each other, and then the relation of that life 
of Christ to the Gospels of which we talk. 


I INTEND, next Sunday, to speak of " The Gospels and 
their Origin," and this morning to speak of something 
preliminary to that, viz., " The True Conception of 
the Life of our Lord." That life of Christ constitutes 
the basis and substance of the Gospel record; and it 
has seemed to me that, before studying the Gospels, we 
may do well to get into our minds some general con- 
siderations in regard to the life of Christ himself. 

The first thing that needs to be impressed upon us 
is that this life of Jesus Christ is the life of an infinite 
/Being upon the earth. We cannot enter upon the study 
of the Gospels in the proper spirit, and we cannot un- 
derstand them at all, unless we appreciate the fact that 
this person who is set before us here is the Lord God 
Almighty, although he is veiled in human flesh. In 
other words, we have here, as John intimates to us, 
the temporal life of the Eternal Word, the Word made 
flesh, full of grace and truth. 

We know what words are among men. We know 
that they are symbols of communication, that they are 
mediums of expression. I pass along the street ; I hear 
a word of blasphemy or obscenity, and that single 
word opens to me the depths of an evil heart. I hear 
a word of kindness, I hear a word of compassion, and 
such a word as that is a revelation to me of a gentle 
and beautiful soul. By a single word I am let into the 
.inmost life of another. In just such a way God's 


word is the medium of expression, the vehicle of com- 
munication, between God and his creatures. 

The word of God of which we spoke last Sunday 
was the outward Scripture. The Word of God of 
which we speak to-day is something back of the out- 
ward Scripture, of which the outward Scripture is an 
expression, viz., the everlasting Word that was with 
God before the world was, and which was God ; that 
Word of God, God's medium of expression, God's ve- 
hicle of communication, is Jesus Christ. He existed 
before he came in the flesh. He exists now, although 
he is not here in the flesh with us, but is in heaven. 
From the beginning to the end he is the only Revealer 
of God. It is Jesus Christ through whom God created 
the world. It is he who upholds all things by the word 
of his power. It is he who conducted the history of 
the people of Israel in the Old Testament. It was this 
Eternal Word who thundered and lightened from the 
top of Mount Sinai, just as truly as it was he who ut- 
tered the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus Christ is the 
only Revealer of God ; and we know nothing of God 
whatever, except it be through the Revealer, Jesus 
Christ. God in himself, apart from Christ, is utterly 
unknown. No man has seen God at any time ; that is, 
apart from God's own purpose and method of revela- 
tion in Jesus Christ, no human being could ever have 
knowledge of him or come into communication with 
him. Jesus Christ is the one and only Revealer of 
God; in fact, we may say, Jesus Christ is the one and 
only Word that God ever spoke or that God ever will 
speak, either to us, his human creatures, or to any 
of the intelligences that he has made or ever will make ; 


and that, simply because Jesus Christ in his eternal 
nature is the principle of revelation in God. There is 
no revelation aside from or apart from him. You 
might just as well think of knowing the great dynamo, 
from which proceeds the electricity that lights our 
streets, without the current of electricity proceeding 
from it, as to think of knowing God without Jesus 
Christ. Jesus Christ is the Revealer of God; Jesus 
Christ is the only way by which God ever makes him- 
self known. Therefore, he that has seen him, " hath 
seen the Father " ; therefore, " he that doeth my will 
shall know of the doctrine." There is, therefore, now 
no other name given under heaven to man, whereby we 
may be saved, except the name of Jesus Christ. 

Now, it is very evident, is it not, that you cannot 
know anything that is infinite and absolute, unless 
that infinite and absolute thing somehow comes under 
limitation? How are you going to know that which 
you cannot distinguish from anything else, and how 
can you possibly distinguish one thing from another, 
unless there are some limitations about that thing? If 
there is nothing else apart from it, you cannot know it; 
and, therefore, God himself, the Infinite and the Abso- 
lute One, must necessarily come into conditions or lim- 
itations, in order that we may know him. You cannot 
know that which is absolutely unlimited. You cannot 
know that which does not come into such conditions 
and relations that it is in contact with yourself, your 
faculty of knowing. Jesus Christ, the Infinite and Ab- 
solute Being, who otherwise would be unknown, came 
into such limitations and relations with his finite crea- 
tures that he can be understood, can be known by us; 


and so we have the great God coming down into finite 
humanity and living a finite life, in order that we may 
understand him and know him. 

It is just as if the ruler of a great people, in order 
that each one of the least and lowest of his subjects 
might understand him and know what he is, should 
come and live the life of the poorest and lowliest among 
them all, in order that he might teach them how to 
live and might teach them something of his compas- 
sionate love. Just as if the greatest of teachers should 
leave his desk of instruction and go down into the 
A, B, C class of his school, and put himself side by side 
with the least and humblest of his pupils, in order that 
he might teach this pupil how to learn; so the great 
God has evinced his compassion, his tenderness, his 
consideration for the weak, finite creatures whom he 
has made, by taking part with them in their ignorance 
and their weakness and their limitations, in order that 
he might show them what he is and show them what 
they ought to be. 

Now, there are some who do not understand this 
limitation of God, this self-limitation of an Infinite 
One. They think that it is unworthy of the great 
God so to contract himself within the limits of the 
human life. They would have God live apart in seclu- 
sion, as the Greeks represent their gods on hills, care- 
less of mankind. They think that would be worthy, 
more worthy of the Godhead. 

Well, I have seen a great burly ruffian walking in 
the street with a little child ; and I have seen that great 
ruffian stride along and drag his little girl after him, 
cursing her because she could not go as fast as he, and 


pass over the obstacles in their path with the same ease 
as he; but I never thought that indicated any great 
nobility or dignity on his part. And I have seen a 
father, a great strong man, able to walk fast enough 
himself, slackening his pace and adapting himself to 
the pace of his little child, talking to her by the way, 
taking her weakness into consideration, and letting 
himself down to her infirmities, and lifting her over 
the hard places by the way ; and I have said to myself : 
there is a great deal more nobility and dignity in that 
than there was in the conduct of the burly ruffian that 
I saw awhile ago, and who thought himself too great 
to care for a child. 

Now, that is what God does. The Infinite Being 
shows his dignity and his glory by coming down, by 
considering our weakness, by putting himself at our 
side, by entering into our home life, by slackening his 
pace, by te.aching us as if we were little children, ma- 
king himself a little child, as it were, in order that he 
may show us what he is and may make us like himself. 
That is what God did, when the Eternal Word, the 
only Revealer of God, the equal of God, came down 
into this earthly life and became a babe, and passed 
through all the measures and stages of human develop- 
ment, in order that he might give us an object-lesson 
and show us what God was, in a way that we could com- 
prehend. Ah, THERE is nobility, THERE is dignity, THERE 
is something divine ! It is in the God-man, therefore, 
Christ Jesus, that we have the most vivid, the most 
wonderful representation of the true nature of God, 
the compassion, the condescension, the love of God, 
as well as his purity and truth and power; for it 


takes power so to limit one's self and bring one's self 
down to the limits of human nature. 

Christ, then, is not only the Word, but he is the 
Word made flesh. He is the Word, in infinite love, 
limiting himself in such a way that we can understand 
him; and the life of Jesus Christ is the life of this Infinite 
Being in these finite limitations. When an Infinite Be- 
ing comes down to these limitations of a finite life, he 
will not, in all respects, appear as an infinite Being, but 
will take upon him the forms and modes of human liv- 
ing. In other words, he will be subject to the laws of 
human development, just as we, his finite creatures, are. 

I remember very well the time when this doctrine 
was first propounded to me, and the shock it gave to 
my early conceptions, my misconceptions, as I think 
them now. I had been taught (or, if I had not been 
taught, I had somehow grown up to think) that our 
Lord Jesus Christ, through all the stages of his earthly 
life, was Immanuel, God with us; that all things were 
open to his knowledge; and that he was always exert- 
ing his infinite power. I remember, when my teacher 
talked to me about the suffering of Christ upon Cal- 
vary, in my heart I said : " Why, Christ could not 
suffer ; that must have been a mere appearance ; Christ 
was God, and God could not suffer " ; and so all the 
representations which the teacher made of the suffering 
of Christ passed over my head, and made no impres- 
sion upon me. I was one of the Docetse, without 
knowing it. I regarded the suffering of Christ as 
merely a matter of appearance; I thought he could 
not suffer. Then, when I heard a sermon during my 
college course, in which it was intimated that the 


appearance of Christ in the temple at twelve years old 
might have been the time when first our Saviour came 
to the knowledge of what he was as the Sent of God, 
the Son of God, it seemed to me as if all the founda- 
tions of my Christian belief were being shaken. I 
said : " Did not Christ know who he was, and what 
his work was, from the very beginning?" Now, I 
have come to think that at that time I misconstrued 
the meaning of the Scripture record, and did not give 
full weight to some declarations of Scripture which 
are of very great importance. Do not the Scriptures 
say that Jesus, as a child, grew in wisdom as well as 
in stature, and in favor with God and man? Then, if 
he grew in wisdom, there must have been a growth 
from a less degree of knowledge to a greater; there 
must have been a more incomplete consciousness of 
his duty and of the work that he was to do, at the 
beginning of his life, than there was in the latter por- 
tion of his life. And, when, in the Gospels, we read 
that declaration of Christ himself, " Of that day and 
that hour knoweth no man, neither the angels of God, 
neither the Son," we have there a distinct declaration 
of the Saviour's ignorance with regard to the time 
of the end. There were limitations to the knowledge 
of Christ while he was here upon the earth. He took 
upon him the form of a servant; he divested himself 
of the exercise of his attributes when he became man ; 
and he went through a process of human development, 
gradual growth in the consciousness of what he was, 
which was analogous to the development through 
which every son of Adam must pass. It was a mark 
of his condescension and divine love that he was 


willing to put himself under these limitations, and to 
advance toward perfectness and knowledge through 
the ordinary paths of human learning and obedience. 
He learned obedience by the things he suffered. 

You all know that if the reservoir south of the city 
were ever so full, you would get in your basin at 
home only that amount of water which was propor- 
tionate to the size of the pipe through which the water 
flowed. The reservoir might be ever so large, but it 
could never pour into your house in a larger stream 
than the size of the pipe permitted. 

Just so there was an ocean-like fulness of resource 
in Jesus Christ. He was the Infinite and Eternal Word ; 
but the channel of communication to man was only 
as large as the human nature which he possessed. 
Therefore, in those communications, he adapted him- 
self to the limitations of humanity. He did not al- 
ways know, and he did not always act, as God. Some- 
times he was permitted by the Holy Spirit thus to 
do; and out of this ocean-like fulness of resource, he 
showed that he knew what was in man. Sometimes the 
veil was lifted ; but ordinarily the veil of humanity was 
before his eyes, and he walked by faith just as we 
walk by faith. 

If you could imagine the mind of a Humboldt, with 
all his vast amount of knowledge, being permitted to 
come back here to this earthly sphere and to be taber- 
nacled once more in an earthly form ; if you could be- 
lieve that the transmigration of souls were possible, 
and the soul of Humboldt should once more take an 
earthly body ; you may be very sure that, if it took the 
body of an infant, it could not manifest itself except in 


an infantile way, and it could only gradually show the 
powers that were inherent in it. And so, if the Deity 
itself becomes united to human flesh, if the Deity 
itself joins itself to humanity, you may be very sure 
/that the ways by which the Deity will manifest itself 
through the humanity will be adapted to the humanity 
which is taken into union with itself. You will not have 
everything revealed, as in a flash; there will be a 
gradual progress in knowledge; and there will be a 
gradual unfolding of the knowledge which he has 
gained. Let us remember that our Lord became a 
servant for us; that our Lord, while he was here on 
the earth, was living what we may call an infinite life J 
under the forms of space and time; living the life of 
God in the flesh of man; and, therefore, we may find 
in the life of Christ something which justifies our look- 
ing for a larger revelation of his purpose as he goes 
on. We can find that, although he never passed from 
the teaching of falsehood to the teaching of truth he . 
is always the Eternal Truth, and just as far as he 
does teach he teaches the truth of God yet, at the same 
time, the truth as he unfolds it now may be less com- 
plete than the truth as he unfolds it hereafter. You 
know he himself tells us that there are many things he 
could not say to us now, but he will show them to us 
hereafter; and so we find that there is progress in the 
teaching of Christ, and that there is progress in the 
development of Christ himself, through the Gospels; 
although, at the last, he is the risen and glorified Son 
of God. 

At the very beginning of his ministry, in his dis- 
course with Nicodemus, he shows that he has before 


him the whole outline of his ministerial work, he shows 
that the main features of his doctrine are clear to his 
mind. The greatest truths of Christianity are un- 
folded there, in that discourse to the Jewish ruler ; and 
yet it was only when the apostles had come, and the 
Holy Spirit had been bestowed, that the germinal truth 
was expanded, filled out, and elucidated. 

So, our Lord was not so much a teacher as he was 
the subject of teaching. We do not deny that he was a 
teacher. He was the prophet of his own work ; and one 
of his great offices was that of prophetic teacher of 
mankind ; but, after all, his teaching was not completed 
when he was here in the flesh. He has been teaching 
through his Gospels and teaching through his Spirit 
ever since; and so we have, in Christ, the subject of 
the Gospels. We have in him the truth. In fact, we 
may say, we have in Jesus Christ the gospel itself. He 
is the glad news. He is the embodied reconciliation 
between God and man; the God-man shows forth the 
perfect union between humanity and the Deity which 
he has come to accomplish; and so he is not only a 
union between man and God, but he is the sacrifice, for 
sins also. 

I spoke of self-limitation, and I spoke of letting one's 
self down, in order to be understood, into the finite, 
in order that the finite might comprehend the Infinite. 
Ah, what a self-limitation there was, when this Being, 
who was God as well as man, died upon the cross, that 
he, who was everlasting life, should, in connection 
with the finite humanity, suffer death! He who was 
rich became poor, in order that we, through his 
poverty, might be made rich. He emptied himself, 


became of no reputation, in order that we might under- 
stand God. He made a sacrifice for sin by sacrificing 
himself. He was the Lamb of God, slain from before 
the foundation of the world; and now this divine- 
human Being, this Being in whom infinite truth and 
love and mercy are brought down to our human com- 
prehension and engaged in the work of our salvation ; 
this Being lived a human life, and the story of that 
human life is given us in the Gospels that we are to 
study. That life unfolded itself according to a divine 
plan. Our Lord had that plan in his mind at the very 
beginning of his ministry. 

There were three different years of our Lord's min- 
istry, each of which had its own particular purpose. 
To a very brief description of the three years of our 
Lord's ministry and the purpose of each one of those 
years, I wish to give a few moments this morning. 

The first year of Jesus' ministry was devoted to an 
appeal to the authorities of Israel, an appeal to the 
Jewish rulers, an appeal to the constituted judges of 
the nation, and unless we understand this we cannot 
understand the first year of Jesus' work, nor the relation 
of that first year to the years that followed. Jesus was 
the King. He came first to those that were in authority, 
and he presented his claim to kingship. He was Jeho- 
vah. He came as Jehovah to his temple, the Messenger 
of the Covenant, in whom the Jews ought to have de- 
lighted, though they did not. He presented his claims 
as king to the constituted authorities of Israel: this 
was the purpose and object of his first year of ministry. 
During that first year, you remember, he spoke to 
Nicodemus, one of the rulers of the Jews, During 


that year he began his ministry by miracles in the 
temple and by the cleansing of the temple ; and during 
that year also, he made the acquaintance of those sisters 
of Bethany, and their brother Lazarus, whom he raised 
from the dead. The incidents of it are described not 
by Matthew, Mark, or Luke, but only by the apostle 

I have spoken of this Judean ministry as occupying 
a year, in round numbers, as one might say. It will 
help our memory to divide the Saviour's ministry into 
three years, although those years were not exact in 
their beginning and their end. The first year of Jesus' 
ministry was really eight months instead of twelve 
months ; and the latter portion of it, after he had been 
rejected by the rulers, was spent in going about with 
a few of his disciples, those first chosen, among the 
cities of Galilee, and informing them all, as it w.ere, in 
regard to the purpose of his mission. 

During those eight months many were baptized; so 
many were baptized that the attention of the Jewish 
rulers began to be turned from John the Baptist, be- 
cause Jesus baptized more than John. Their enmity 
was beginning to turn from John to himself ; and Jesus 
saw that to continue his work in Judea would be to 
leave unperformed his whole mission, would be to 
anticipate his death; for, just as they put John the 
Baptist to death, just so would they have put Jesus to 
death, two years before his time. Therefore Jesus 
was obliged to withdraw; and this ministry to the 
authorities of the people came to an end. It served 
his purpose; it tested them; it was a probation; they 
had had their offer; and now they are rejecting him 


of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write. 
The authorities of the people had turned their backs 
on the Son of God; the rulers rejected him; and he 
was compelled to leave Jerusalem. 

He begins the second year of his ministry in Gali- 
lee, in the freer and broader light of northern Pales- 
tine, away from the traditional influences and the super- 
stition of the central city, Jerusalem. The second 
year of our Lord's ministry was devoted to an appeal 
to the people at large, an appeal to the popular element 
among the Jews. In Galilee he begins to preach to 
the people rather than to the rulers; the rulers are far 
away. He addresses himself to the common heart of 
man ; and that Galilean ministry begins with the choos- 
ing of the apostles upon the summit of one mount the 
mount where the Sermon on the Mount was preached ; 
and it ends with another mount the Mount of Trans- 
figuration. Between those two, the mount where the 
sermon was preached and the Mount of Transfigura- 
tion, lies the whole of the Galilean ministry. It was in 
Galilee rather than in Judea that his greatest miracles 
were wrought. It was in Galilee that the most of his 
parables, most of his public teaching was given. It 
was in Galilee that the greatest multitudes followed 
him. You remember it was there he fed the five 
thousand, and at another time the four thousand. This 
ministry in Galilee went on until it became perfectly 
evident that the great crowds that followed him were 
more bent upon the victuals he brought than upon 
the meat that endureth to everlasting life. The Jews, 
as a people, rejected Christ just as decisively as their 
rulers had done. In other words, the second year of 


Christ's ministry was an unsuccessful appeal to the 
hearts of the people, just as the first year had been an 
unsuccessful appeal to the hearts of the rulers. There- 
fore the second year of Christ's ministry ended also. 
Having appealed to the rulers the first year unsuccess- 
fully, and having appealed to the people the second 
year unsuccessfully, what remained? Only this, that 
he should now appeal to the hearts of a few loved dis- 
ciples ; that he should prepare them by instruction for 
the work which it was not appointed that he himself 
should do ; that he should, in other words, train up the 
future pillars of his church, and give them his promises ; 
draw them into intimate intercourse with himself ; give 
them some conception of what he was; make them 
ready for the day of Pentecost, when they would be 
endowed with power from on high; and prepare them 
to go forth to all the world and preach his gospel. 

If I am not mistaken, if you will take the Gospels 
and read them with these subdivisions in mind that I 
have given you, you will get a great deal of light upon 
the meaning of Christ's teaching and of Christ's won- 
derful works. The first year is a year of appeal to the 
hierarchy, to the rulers; the second year is a year of 
appeal to the people; and the third year is a year of 
appeal to his disciples. 

In the latter part of Jesus' life, you will find that the 
instruction becomes more esoteric, it becomes more 
intimate. Jesus lets his disciples into the secret of his 
life. Jesus, after they have confessed that he is the 
Son of God, after they have seen his glory on the 
Mount of Transfiguration, tells them that he must be 
rejected by the scribes and Pharisees and must be 


crucified. He goes down from that mount of glory, 
where the voice had spoken to him from on high, and 
takes his way to Jerusalem to suffer ; and he goes with 
such a majestic mien that the disciples following him 
are amazed and afraid. So the glory was only the 
prelude to the suffering, and Jesus showed that he 
came into this world to die. He came, not so much 
to teach as he did to die; and this death of Christ, 
which we celebrate in the ordinances of the Church, 
this death was the one great act of self-limitation and 
self-sacrifice which the Son of God came to accomplish 
in this world. In other words, the death was the cul- 
mination of the life; and it was for the sake of that 
death that he lived here at all. So we find that, in the 
Gospels, fully one-third of each narrative is taken up 
with the incidents and events connected with the cru- 
cifixion or immediately leading to it, and only per- 
haps two-thirds, or one-half, of all is devoted to the 
preliminary life of Christ and his preliminary teaching. 
So, we have an infinite life lived within the limitations 
of humanity; and we have that infinite life teaching 
man, appealing to man, rejected by man, and then 
prepared to die; and only as we have that view of the 
life of Christ, the infinite within the bounds of the 
finite, the infinite finally giving up life itself for the 
finite, have we any proper conception of the life of 
Jesus Christ. We are to study Christ in order that 
we may be like him ; and I do not know of any way in 
which we can learn of Christ, except by reading these 
accounts of Christ which are given us in the Gospels. 

Having thus given you some general idea of what 
that life was, we shall come next Sunday to the 


consideration of the Gospels themselves ; what they are, 
what their relations are one to another, what the dis- 
tinguishing characteristics are of each; and how it 
was that, in the providence of God, they grew, they 
originated, they came to be what we have them to-day. 


I AM to speak to-day of the origin of the Gospels, 
and some of their characteristics. There can be no 
doubt that an oral account, an account of the life and 
teachings and works of Jesus Christ that passed from 
mouth to mouth, was the basis of our present Gospels. 
Indeed, it is quite certain that from twenty to forty 
years passed before the Gospels according to Matthew, 
Mark, and Luke were written down. During those 
twenty to forty years the story of each of these Gospels 
had been current in quite another way. It had been 
communicated viva voce, by the living voice. This 
ought not to surprise us. The truth is, that the apos- 
tles were primarily teachers and only secondarily 

There were multitudes of converts from the Jews 
and from the Gentiles. This multitude of converts 
had to be instructed, and instruction in those days was 
almost wholly by word of mouth. There was not only 
preaching, but teaching ; and this preaching and teach- 
ing was all personal communication of one individ- 
ual to another. You remember that the Sanhedrin 
commanded Peter and John no more to preach or 
teach in this name. They put no prohibition upon 
them in regard to writing. Paul taught publicly and 
from house to house. We read nothing at all about 
his writing at that time. 

The multitude of those who came into the Christian 


church needed just this personal and direct instruction ; 
and the memory was strong in those days, stronger 
probably than in these days when we trust so much 
more to books. The Jews, you know, could repeat 
endless genealogies. Those very things which might 
seem most difficult to remember they had deeply im- 
pressed upon their minds ; and then, they not only had 
the most vivid recollection of the words of Jesus, their 
Lord, and of those wonderful three years they had 
passed in intimate intercourse with him, but it was 
their delight to speak forth the things they had seen 
and heard; and, if there ever was a lapse of memory, 
they had the wonderful promise of the assistance of 
the Holy Spirit, who was to bring to their remembrance 
all these things with regard to Christ, so that they 
might speak of the things of Christ and show them to 

It is not wonderful that the apostles were primarily 
teachers; and in their teaching there must have been 
continual repetition. If we should judge the teaching 
of those times by our modern standard, we should 
make the greatest possible mistake. A modern teacher 
would think it was a very monotonous thing for him 
to say over and over again, in almost precisely the 
same words, the lesson he had to teach; but this was 
not only a common thing among the Jews, but we can 
almost say that it was the only possible thing. They 
had, you recollect, the Old Testament Scriptures. But 
there were very few who knew how to read, and the 
most of the knowledge the people had with regard 
to these Scriptures was what they had gained from 
the public reading of them. So, over and over again, 


the stories of the Old Testament were repeated; and 
when the New Testament history came to be pro- 
claimed, it naturally was proclaimed in the same way. 
There was no prejudice against the continual repetition 
of the old, old story with regard to Jesus and his love. 

But there was naturally a selection going on all the 
while. It was said by John in his Gospel that the 
world would not contain the things that would be 
written if everything were written out. It is very 
plain that, in the memory of the apostles, there was 
a great deal that it was not thought best by them or 
by the Holy Spirit should be put down permanently; 
and it was not desirable that there should be a record 
of the life of Christ so large and cumbersome that it 
would break down with its own weight. It was desir- 
able that just those scenes and just those teachings of 
the Saviour should be selected that were most central 
and vital, in order that the Gospel record, when at 
last it was made up, should be just as simple, just as 
compact, just as brief as it could possibly be, consist- 
ently with giving the essential facts with regard to 
the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. 

So there was a continual process of selection going 
on. Those things that were most representative in 
Christ's teachings came to be more and more insisted 
upon, and the things that were merely incidental began 
to have less and less attention paid to them; and then, 
as there were different classes of hearers, the truth 
that was adapted to that particular class was chosen 
in speaking to them. In that way there grew up cer- 
tain types of apostolic doctrine. One apostle, having 
a different mental constitution and being prepared 


more easily to recognize certain portions of the truth 
than another apostle was, would make his selection 
of the incidents of the life and teachings of Christ and 
would have his way of presenting the truth; and 
another apostle would have his way of presenting the 
truth. And, while there was an agreement with re- 
gard to a great many things, there was no agreement 
as to what they should write. You find, in fact, with 
regard to the words of Christ, the reverence of the 
disciples for the Master's words seems, many times, 
to preserve exactly the same form of words in the 
narrative of each of the Evangelists, while, at the same 
time, the circumstances, the setting, the frame-work 
varies in many of its particulars the one giving one 
sort of incident connected with the teachings, and 
another giving another sort of incident connected with 
the teachings, so that one supplements the other. 

There was thus growing up all the while, during 
those twenty to forty years, in the case of the Gospels 
of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, what you may call a 
stereotyped narrative, a gradual paring down, remov- 
ing of what was adventitious, putting aside the things 
that were merely incidental, selecting the things that 
were important; so that all three of the Evangelists 
agreed in all the main lines of teaching. In fact, there 
is absolute verbal agreement with regard to a great 
many things; yet, at the same time, each one has his 
own point of view, has his own hearers, persons for 
whom he is writing, persons whom he has in mind as 
the object of his discourse. So we have growing up 
a sort of gospel or account of the Saviour's life all 
oral at first, which is marked by the two characteristics 


of substantial agreement, and yet a wonderful individ- 
uality and independence. 

The problem of the origin of the Gospels is one of 
the most interesting, one of the most subtle, one of 
the most difficult in all human history; and yet, after 
all, I think that these conclusions which I have tried 
to draw are manifestly demonstrable. They explain 
the facts of the case. 

This oral basis, this extemporary narrative, this 
living account that was handed from mouth to mouth 
was not at first put into writing at all; in fact, there 
was no disposition to write. The apostles had no time 
to write; they were not used to writing. The literary 
instinct was by no means so general then as it is now. 
As the rabbis reiterated over and over again the same 
things with regard to the law, the learned did not need 
books, and the common people did not want them; so, 
in the case of these New Testament accounts, every 
one was contented for a very long time to have them 
simply pass from mouth to mouth. 

Yet we find that, little by little, there came to be 
felt the need of putting these accounts into writing. 
At first, the apostles apparently expected that Christ 
was soon to come and put an end to all things. This 
might have made it seem unnecessary to spend time in 
writing documents. But we find that Peter, at last, be- 
gins to speak of his decease ; and, as he sees the time of 
the end approaching, and feels the needs of the churches 
over which he had care, he says, " I will take care that 
you may have these things in remembrance." In other 
words, it seems as if there were an intimation that 
it was his purpose to put into permanent form the 


substance of his teaching, so that it could subsist and 
remain after he was taken away. And Paul, who, in 
his letter to the Thessalonians, had at first the surmise 
that the coming of the Lord was near at hand, after- 
ward recognized the fact that Christ's coming was to 
take place after his day ; and he speaks of " having 
fought the good fight, having finished his course." He 
is now " ready to be offered," and he tells very plainly 
of his expectation of approaching death. He was to 
die before the coming of the Lord. 

It was as the apostles were passing away from the 
scene of action, and were no longer able to give their 
oral testimony, that they made sure of a written testi- 
mony that could be left forever to the church of Christ. 
So we find the gradual growing up of the Gospels, and 
what was oral becomes written. 

It has been thought by some, in fact it is a very early 
tradition, that Matthew wrote a Gospel in Hebrew. If 
Matthew did write a Gospel in Hebrew, which was 
afterward translated into Greek, and the Hebrew origi- 
nal was lost, it is probable that this Hebrew original, 
containing the sayings of Jesus, which were the nucleus 
and basis of our Matthew, was the earliest of all, and 
may be dated A. D. 50. Mark, you know, is said to 
have been the interpreter of Peter ; and Mark's Gospel 
must have been composed somewhere near the year 55 
of our era, and twenty-five years at least after the 
death of our Lord. Matthew's Greek Gospel, as we 
have it now, comes a little later, perhaps in the year 58. 

Luke, you remember, at the beginning of his Gospel 
speaks of certain attempts that have been made by 
others to put down incidents in the life of Christ and 


to compose a partial history; and he expresses his 
purpose of putting down in order the things of which 
he has become credibly informed. He may have in 
mind the work of Mark and of Matthew, and I put 
the Gospel according to Luke in trie year 59. 

So we have the synoptic writers ; and by the synoptic 
writers I mean Matthew, Mark, and Luke ; called syn- 
optic because, in the early history of the church, a 
synopsis was made of the three, the three being so 
parallel with one another that you could easily form a 
single narrative by combining them all together. 

The synoptic writers probably composed their Gos- 
pels between the years 55 and 60, so that all of the 
three were written before the destruction of Jerusa- 
lem; and while the oral Gospels become written, you 
find that there is no evidence whatever that any one 
of these Gospels was composed in view of the others; 
not one of the Gospels was consciously an attempt to 
supplement another; not one of them was written for 
the purpose of correcting what was written in another ; 
not one of them was written with the express purpose 
of adapting the other narrative to a new class of hear- 
ers ; but it would seem that each narrative was written 
by itself, each witness was independent, each gathered 
his material in his own way, each put it down in his 
own form. Yet, notwithstanding this independence, 
there is a wonderful harmony : harmony as to substance 
and harmony in a great many respects in verbal ex- 
pression, between each Gospel and the others. I speak 
now in regard to the first three Gospels. 

Then, in regard to the Gospel according to John, 
which differs so remarkably from all three (Matthew, 


Mark, and Luke), it is perfectly evident that John 
wrote independently. He did not intend simply to 
supplement what the others had written, because he in- 
cluded the account of the feeding of the five thousand ; 
this as a text to which he might attach Jesus' discourse 
with regard to himself as the Bread of Life. He did 
not write in ignorance of what was written before, 
because he does not include the account of the trans- 
figuration, which he certainly would have included if 
he had not known what Matthew, Mark, and Luke had 

So we have the gradual growth of our Gospels from 
the oral to the written form, at jirstjn a sort of_oral 
account, passing from mouth to mouth, repeated with 
very slight variations, as the sacred oracles of the Lord, 
and existing in that form from twenty to forty years ; 
and after that time put into written form before the 
apostles died. Then, after the expiration of thirty 
years more, John the Evangelist, in Asia Minor, writes 
down his account of the life of Christ and adds many 
things, together with chronological data, that were not 
given by the three Evangelists who had written before. 
So much now with regard to the problem of the origin 
of the Gospels. 

I want to speak now, as the second and concluding 
portion of these remarks, of the characteristics of the 
Gospels. I have spoken of their diversity. This diver- 
sity is diversity in unity ; but let us first get an idea of 
what this diversity is. 

Matthew first of all is the publican, the collector of 
taxes or customs. He is a practised writer, just be- 
cause of his profession, perhaps the most practised 


writer of them all, and, therefore, perhaps the first and 
the most ready to enter upon this work of committing 
the gospel to writing. ^Matthew puts down his ac- 
count of the life of Christ from his own point of view 
and for a particular sort of hearers. And who are 
these hearers, the persons whom he has in view as he 
writes? Why, it is the Jews. He would convert the 
Jews to Christ; and so he speaks of Christ as the Son 
of David and the Son of Abraham, the heir to the Old 
Testament promises. He speaks of Christ as the King 
of Israel, who has been foretold by the prophets of 
old. He also speaks of Christ as the suffering Messiah, 
in whom all the sacrificial types of the Old Testament 
found their fulfilment. Matthew has for his symbol, 
in early Christian history, the sacrificial bullock. You 
know the four figures of the cherubim were taken as 
symbols of the Evangelists; and of those cherubic 
figures, the sacrificial bullock was assigned to Mat- 
thew, as indicating the fact that Matthew more than 
all the other Evangelists sets forth Jesus Christ as the 
King of Israel, who was, at the same time, the Mes- 
siah offered for human sins. That is the main char- 
acteristic of Matthew. He speaks of Christ as the 
sacrificed Son of God. Now the sacrificed King of 
Israel was the Old Testament Messiah; so, you re- 
member, the Gospel according to Matthew begins with 
the genealogies, and those genealogies are intended 
to connect the New Testament with the Old. 

Mark has in his mind an entirely different class of 
hearers, and who are they ? Why, Mark writes to the 
Romans. Mark is the interpreter of Peter; Mark has 
in him something of the vivid, vigorous, picturesque 


spirit that belonged to Peter. Mark is writing for the 
rulers of the world, for men who have great homage 
for law. And so you find that Mark represents Christ 
in that aspect which was most likely to impress the 
minds of the Romans, as the wonder-worker, the 
worker of miracles, stirring the depths of men's hearts 
by his demonstrations of divine power; and so the 
symbol that has been assigned to Mark, in early Chris- 
tian archaeology, is the powerful lion. Mark goes 
straight to his mark. Mark never wastes time in detail. 
Mark is picturesque and incisive ; and there is a strength 
and a grasp in his Gospel. Although the shortest of 
them all, it is in some respects the most vigorous and 
powerful of them all. 

Luke, in the third place, writes, not for the Jews 
nor for the Romans, but for the Greeks. Luke is the 
physician. Luke is the man of scientific spirit. It is 
remarkable that every description of disease given us 
by Luke in his Gospel is just such as would naturally 
proceed from the brain and pen of a physician. Luke 
is probably the most learned of all the Evangelists. He 
writes with an elaborateness and beauty of Greek style. 
Luke's preface is more like classical Greek than any 
other Greek we find in the New Testament. Now, 
Luke, writing for the Greeks, with his breadth of 
mind and his sense of human need, speaks of Christ as 
the friend of humanity, the humane Saviour. You 
find that those wonderful parables of the Prodigal Son 
and the Lost Piece of Money, and many others of a 
similar sort, are found in Luke, and not in the other 
Evangelists. Luke is said to have been the interpreter 
or representative of Paul, just as Mark was the repre- 


sentative or interpreter of Peter; and the image or 
symbol of Luke, in Christian archaeology, has been the 
human form. You know that among the cherubic 
figures the figures that constitute the cherubim- 
there was the bullock which answered to Matthew, the 
lion which answered to Mark, the eagle which answered 
to John, and then the man which answered to Luke ; so 
that we have in these cherubic figures the symbols of all 
four of the Evangelists. 

And now, finally, you have John. John writes not for 
Jews, not for Romans, not for Greeks; he covers the 
whole world and writes for all men; for, with his loving 
and ardent spirit, his fiery nature, and yet his habit of 
introspection, he apprehends, as none other of the 
Evangelists do, the greatness and glory of Christ's 
divine nature. So he takes us back to the very be- 
ginning, before all time, and speaks of the Word which 
was with God, and was God. John gives us the most 
beautiful exhibition of the lofty, the divine element in 
Jesus Christ, our Lord; so that the symbol that has 
been assigned to John is the soaring eagle that flies to 
the heights of heaven, while its eye pierces with its 
vision to the very depths of the sea. 

These are the general characteristics of the Evan- 
gelists. Each one had his own nature, each one had 
his own point of view, each one had his own audience, 
so to speak; and they give us a picture of the life of 
Christ that we never could get from any single one 
alone. Here, then, there is diversity ; but let me bring 
you back again to the idea of the unity in diversity. 
That is just as wonderful as the diversity itself. Jesus 
was many-sided. You know it has been said of Shake- 


speare that he was myriad-minded. If Shakespeare 
could be called myriad-minded, what epithet could be 
applied to Christ ? Why, there are no ends or sides to 
Christ's nature. Human intellect cannot perceive the 
whole of him at once. You cannot possibly see the 
two poles, even of a globe, at one time. You must 
turn one pole toward you first, and then remove that 
from sight, in order that you may see the other. So it 
was utterly impossible for any single human being to 
see the whole of Christ. The only way in which the 
world could be got to look upon Christ, in his true light, 
was by getting a number to look at him from different 
sides, and then to combine their stories. 

It is said that in Paris there is a sculptor who makes 
statues and busts of celebrated men, and his method of 
making them is this : He has a circular apartment, 
around the circumference of which a dozen photo- 
graphic cameras are stationed, all pointing toward the 
center. He has the subject, of whom he is to make 
the statue or bust, sit or stand in the center of the 
apartment; the lights are all properly arranged, and at 
a certain moment the curtain is removed from each 
one of the cameras. A dozen different pictures from a 
dozen different points of view are taken at the same 
instant, and the sculptor makes up his statue or his bust 
from all these pictures combined; so that the result is 
true to the original, as a single view never could 
make it. 

Now, these four Evangelists have stationed their 
photographic cameras on four different sides of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, and they have taken their pictures 
from different points of view; and, in order properly 


to understand what Christ was, we must, from all 
these four narratives, construct a solid and symmet- 
rical structure of his life. If this be true, a great deal 
of light is thrown upon the problem, which to some has 
seemed almost insoluble, how it is that the first three 
Evangelists can give us such a different view from that 
which is given us in the Gospel according to John. 
Why, it is the most natural thing in the world. Cicero 
says, " The eye sees only that which it brings with it 
the power of seeing." Every man sees another out of 
his own eye, and gets a view of that other that no other 
person ever does get; and so the life of Christ appeared 
from different points of view to different persons. 

Those of you who have been abroad, those of you 
who have visited the picture-galleries of Europe, know 
very well that there is no subject of which the rep- 
resentations are so astonishingly various as those of 
Venice. The pictures of Venice, how wonderfully 
they differ! There are the pictures of Canaletto, in 
which the drawing is perfect. It is as exact as a pho- 
tograph. You almost seem to be put back into one of 
the gondolas on the Venetian canals. Every line is 
perfectly distinct. But side by side with this picture, 
by Canaletto, there is a picture of Venice by Turner. 
What an astonishing difference there is! Here you 
have not so much clearness of outline as you have won- 
derful light and shade. There is a roseate glow over 
the whole picture that is marvelous. It seems as if Ven- 
ice were transfigured, almost as if it were the New Je- 
rusalem; and yet Turner painted Venice just as truly 
as Canaletto did. So, John painted Christ just as truly 
as Matthew, or Mark, or Luke ever painted him. John 


had the seeing- eye, John had the glowing heart, John 
had the deep love that enabled him to see in his Lord 
the heavenly and the divine. 

We have in ancient literature also a remarkable il- 
lustration. Some have wondered whether there ever 
could have been such a man as Socrates, simply because 
we have two accounts of him the one by Plato and 
the other by Xenophon which widely differ. Shall 
we say that there never was such a man as Socrates, 
simply because these two speak of him so differently? 
Shall we say that there was no such a personage as 
Jesus Christ, simply because John speaks of him so 
differently from the first three Evangelists? There is 
no contradiction at all between them. It is simply that 
each one sees that which he brings with him the power 
of seeing; in these separate portraits we have, with all 
these diversities, a wonderful harmony of personality. 
This composite picture is the representation of a ma- 
jestic person, such as never lived anywhere else upon 
the earth. There is no representation of any human 
being that can compare with this representation of 
Jesus. The separate portraits only differ in the aspect 
from which they regard him. How wonderful it is 
that this harmony exists, a harmony that shows there 
is no collusion between them, and which makes the tes- 
timony of one witness confirm that of the others. In 
the courts of law the testimony of one may be some- 
thing ; but if you get the testimony of another, side by 
side with his, it is plain that one and one do not simply 
make two, but that one plus one makes four. So these 
two Evangelists, Matthew and Mark, plus the two 
Evangelists Luke and John, do not make simply four. 


Two plus two do not equal four here; they make six- 
teen. So we have a gospel that grew up in a wonder- 
ful way into solidity and symmetry, and is given to us 
now only after the most complete witness to its truth 
by combined apostolic authority. 

In conclusion, let me say that these Gospels are 
not, as some have supposed, a jotting down of mere 
tradition. What do you mean by tradition? Why, 
we mean by tradition that which is handed down 
after the death of the witnesses. A thing does not 
become tradition until the witnesses are dead. Now, 
were these things written long after the witnesses 
were dead, so that we can say that we have simply 
tradition put down here? That is the doctrine of 
Robert Elsmere. What a mistake it is ! These things 
were written down while the witnesses were yet 
living. The men who wrote them, in more than one 
case, had seen the Lord Jesus; and they put down 
what they knew before they passed away from the 
scene of action. That is not tradition. That is simply 
a settled statement upon which they have agreed, after 
pondering it over in their minds, after throwing out 
the things that were simply incidental and of no ac- 
count, after concluding what was the truth, and what 
was the exact way in which they ought to express it. 

There is another thing that is very remarkable, and 
that is this, that the apostles, by teaching, learned how 
to tell their story. During these twenty to forty years 
in which the gospel existed simply in an oral form, and 
was repeated day by day to new hearers, the apostles 
learned how to tell their story in exact accordance with 
the facts; and speakers and hearers mutually helped 



and corrected one another. At last the whole narra- 
tive, as it was exhibited in the Gospels, came to be the 
settled and permanent testimony of the apostles; not 
something taken up by chance, not something taken by 
a stenographer as it happened to be uttered, but the set- 
tled story upon which they had concluded as to sub- 
stance and as to expression, after from twenty to forty 
years of a continuous utterance, for which they were 
willing to lay down their lives. So we have things 
that are absolutely certain to us, because they were not 
the utterances of simply temporary interpreters, but 
were the settled convictions and beliefs of the apostolic 
witnesses. This, then, is the origin of the Gospels, 
and these are their main characteristics. 


THE stream that flowed from the Garden of Eden, we 
are told, was parted into four heads; and so the water 
of life comes to us through four Gospel channels. It 
is the first of these, the Gospel according to Matthew, 
the Gospel of sacrifice, to which I call your attention 

The writer of this Gospel is Matthew. Matthew was 
not his original name. His name was Levi, instead. 
In Mark and Luke no other name is given to him but 
this. It seems to have been a case of change of name 
at a particular epoch in his life; just as Saul, when he 
was converted to Christ, changed his name to Paul; 
and just as Simon, when he made his great confession, 
became Peter; and so a change of heart, a change of 
purpose, a change of life was indicated that made him 
a new man. It would seem as if Levi's following 
Christ was the time when his name too was changed, 
and Levi became Matthew. Levi would signify " serv- 
ant of the Lord " ; Matthew would signify " the Lord's 
free man." 

Levi was a publican ; and by publican, in those days, 
was meant not innkeeper, but rather receiver of public 
taxes, a tax-gatherer. He was a tax-gatherer under 
Herod Antipas. Something of contempt attached itself 
to this calling of a tax^galheJ^r, at least under the cir- 
cumstances under which Matthew attempted it. As 
tax-gatherer he had probably acquired a large knowl- 


edge of human nature. He had acquired accurate 
business habits, and, more than that, I suppose we may 
say that he had acquired practice in writing; so it is 
possible that Matthew was the earliest of those who 
composed a Gospel; and it is quite possible that the 
logical and philosophical grouping of his Gospel may 
evince the grasp and skill which he had acquired. 

Matthew was a humble man. He calls himself Mat- 
thew the Publican; as if always to remember the low 
degree from which he had sprung; as if to call atten- 
tion to the fact that it was a strange and wonderful 
thing that the Lord had ever set his love upon him. He 
not only calls himself so, but he avoids all mention of 
any particular qualification in him for his work. Mat- 
thew was probably a man of means. Luke tells us that, 
after he was called to be a disciple, he made a great 
feast to Jesus ; but Matthew himself makes no mention 
of it. 

Matthew is distinguished by what we call self-efface- 
ment. He ignores himself continually. He makes as 
little mention of himself as John does, even less than 
John does; for, although John does not mention his 
own name, John does speak of a certain disciple whom 
Jesus loved that can be no other than John. After the 
first calling of Matthew, and the relating of that 
incident by which he became a disciple of Jesus, there 
is absolutely no mention of Matthew, except his mere 
name in the list of the apostles; and thus we get the 
impression that he is a man of great humility, that he 
merges himself in Christ, and thinks there is nothing 
worthy to be mentioned of himself. 

We know little about Matthew during our Saviour's 



life, and we know almost next to nothing of his work 
after the Saviour's death. Tradition says he went to 
Ethiopia, preached the gospel there, and suffered mar- 
tyrdom, being slain while engaged in prayer. Even 
this tradition is denied by some, especially by Clement 
of Alexandria; so we may say that we know almost 
nothing about Matthew, except that he was a publican, 
a humble man, the author of this Gospel. 

Yet this humble disciple of Christ, this apostle who 
never cared to have his own name mentioned, has 
become the first of the Evangelists; just as that Mary, 
from whom Christ cast out seven demons, was the 
first to announce the gospel of the resurrection to the 
apostles. It is a blessed thought to me that the names 
of these apostles, who so merged themselves in Christ 
and his kingdom as to be lost sight of entirely, the 
names of these twelve apostles, every one, are to be 
written on the foundation-stones of the New Jerusa- 
lem; so that, although they got no honor upon the 
earth, they will get the honor that comes from God 

Now in regard to the language in which this Gospel 
is written. There is a dispute in regard to this matter, 
as to whether the original writing of it was in Hebrew 
or in Greek. Here we come to a problem of very great 
interest. I cannot go into it at length. I can only in- 
dicate to you the nature of it. It is the unanimous 
testimony of the early church that Matthew wrote 
originally in Hebrew, " wrote a Gospel in the Hebrew 
language which every one interpreted," i. e., I suppose, 
every one translated into Greek, " as he was able to " ; 
and it is of additional interest that, at the time 


Matthew wrote, there was already existing a Greek 
translation, for the word " interpreted " is a Greek 
word, and intimates that people heretofore interpreted 
the Gospel as they were able; but, now that the Greek 
translation existed, there was no need any longer of 
this individual interpretation. 

Those who hold this view are themselves divided 
into two different parties. One of them holds that the 
original Gospel, written by Matthew in Hebrew, was 
very brief, much briefer than our present Gospel ; and 
that, subsequently, with the aid of the oral tradition 
which then existed, Matthew himself wrote a Greek 
translation, enlarging it as he wrote, so that our 
present Greek Gospel is a translation of the briefer 
original Gospel written by Matthew himself. Those 
who hold this view think that the earlier Hebrew 
Gospel was corrupted, and that it became the Apocry- 
phal book which is entitled the Gospel of the Hebrews. 

There is a difficulty connected with this hypothesis 
that the Gospel was originally written in Hebrew, 
which makes it doubtful whether we ought to accept 
it, even although we have in its favor the almost unani- 
mous tradition of the early church. The difficulty is 
just this: Whenever Matthew, in his Greek Gospel, 
quotes from the Old Testament, in giving us the words 
of Christ, he quotes not from the Hebrew, but from the 
Greek; and it would seem very strange, if he were wri- 
ting a Hebrew Gospel, that he should not quote from 
the original Hebrew instead. Again, when Matthew 
gives us the words of Christ, he gives us almost always 
the same words which we find in the other synoptic 
Gospels, gives us the words of Christ very much as 


they are given us by Mark and by Luke. This would 
seem very strange, if the Gospel which we have now 
was translated from an original Hebrew Gospel. 

We cannot understand this argument fully, unless 
we remember that, in those days, the art of translation 
had not reached the perfection which it reaches now. 
In our day, when a man who has any scholarship at all 
attempts a translation from Greek into English, he 
does not translate word for word; he does not simply 
transfer the words of the Greek into the words of the 
English, but he puts the thought of the original into 
English thought, and into English idioms. But in 
those days the art of translation was by no means per- 
fected, and whatever translation there was, was really 
transference instead of translation; and if our present 
Greek version were the translation of an original He- 
brew, we should expect to find the Hebrew idioms con- 
tinually recurrent; we should find a great difference in 
the words of Christ as they appear in our Gospel ac- 
cording to Matthew, and the words of Christ as they 
appear in the Gospels according to Mark and Luke. 
There is, however, no such difference, so that the inter- 
nal evidence, in spite of this external evidence from the 
early church Fathers, seems to point to an original 
Greek Gospel rather than an original Hebrew Gospel. 
The explanation of Westcott is that Matthew himself 
translated the Hebrew Gospel into Greek ; that, when he 
came to those portions that were common to him and 
to Mark and Luke, he took the Greek oral tradition 
that was current, side by side with the Hebrew tradi- 
tion, and substituted that for what he had originally 
written in the Hebrew. 


This is a possible solution of the difficulty, and I am 
still inclined to believe there was an original Hebrew 
Gospel, perhaps briefer than our present Gospel accord- 
ing to Matthew, which was subsequently translated by 
Matthew himself, and, in the translation, was enlarged. 
The Fathers seem with one accord to have accepted 
this view, and this unanimous assent of the early church 
cannot rest upon the testimony of that single man 
Papias, for Papias, we know, was not overcritical. 
They must have had other and better evidence. 

The truth is that, in Palestine, at the time of Christ, 
there were two languages spoken. Palestine was a 
bilingual country. The Aramaic, or corrupted Hebrew, 
was the language of the common people, because that 
was the language of the original Scriptures. On the 
other hand, Greek was the literary language, and every 
one learned something of Greek. Every man of affairs, 
every business man had to know something of Greek. 
There- is a similar state of things in Wales in our own 
day. The language of the people in Wales, of course, 
is Welsh; and as a Welshman, a Welsh carpenter, 
once said : " I learned English in school, and I am per- 
fectly familiar with English, but I never talk a word of 
English except when I am speaking with English peo- 
ple. In my family and in my business in the village, 
and, in fact, almost universally, I speak nothing but 
Welsh. I read English, but I speak Welsh." 

I suppose that in Palestine, at the time of Christ, the 
people spoke Aramaic and they read Greek ; and, when 
it came to putting the gospel into permanent and 
written form, it was naturally the Greek, the literary 
language, into which the Gospels were put, rather than 


into the Hebrew or Aramaic, which was the language 
commonly spoken. I suppose it is perfectly certain that 
our Lord used the Greek language in his replies to 
Pilate, the Roman governor ; but I suppose it is equally 
true that, in prayer, in his utterances from the cross, 
he used the Aramaic, the language of the common 

It is a very curious thing in regard to Germans that 
come to our country, that they may use nothing but 
English in their business, speak English every day, but, 
as Christians, they never pray except in German, their 
mother tongue; and, when they come to die, their last 
words are spoken in German, and not in English. 

So it was in Palestine. The Jewish language, the 
language of the heart, the sacred language, was Ara- 
maic or Hebrew; but the literary language, the lan- 
guage of the books, was Greek. So you find that 
James, one of the earliest Epistles written, was written 
in Greek, although James was a Hebrew. And so you 
find that the Epistle to the Hebrews, written to Jewish 
Christians most of all, is written in Greek, and betrays 
no signs of an original Hebrew. I think it is not only 
perfectly natural, but it is probably a conclusion war- 
ranted by the circumstances, that our Greek Gospel is 
now what it was when it left the hands of Matthew, the 

Another question arises with regard to the date at 
which this Gospel was written. I have concluded that 
the most probable date is between the years 55 and 60, 
or, if we must be more definite, about A. D. 58, twelve 
years before the destruction of Jerusalem. 

We have the testimony of Irenaeus, one of the 


church Fathers, that the Gospel according to Matthew 
was written while the apostles Peter and Paul were 
preaching at Rome, i. e., just before their martyrdom; 
and there is a great deal in the Gospel itself which in- 
dicates that it must have been written before the time 
of the destruction of Jerusalem. There is no hint, for 
example, that Jerusalem had been destroyed, as there 
almost certainly would have been if the holy city had 
been overthrown; and while our Saviour's words in 
regard to the flight of Christians, on account of the 
approaching calamity, are still retained in the Gospel, 
there is no sort of indication that their flight had al- 
ready taken place. When our Saviour's discourse is 
given, in which the prophecy of the destruction of 
Jerusalem and the end of the world merge into one 
another, there is no dividing line drawn, as there very 
naturally would be if a part of that prophecy had 
already been fulfilled. And when it is said, "This 
generation shall not pass until all these things be ful- 
filled," it would certainly seem that, if that prophecy 
had been fulfilled already, there would have been some 
mark or indication that the Lord's words had been 

Yet there are those who, simply because these 
prophecies are so clear and unmistakable, are inclined 
to doubt whether this Gospel was written before the 
events had taken place. Of course these difficulties all 
arise from a wrong view of inspiration. They fancy 
that there was no such thing as prediction, that man 
cannot be inspired by God to prophesy the future. If 
that be true, then the Gospel must have been written 
after the destruction of Jerusalem rather than before; 


but to us who believe that God knows from the begin- 
ning, and that God prophesied and predicted what was 
to happen, such an argument has no weight; in fact, 
these words of objection are fraught with other difficul- 
ties just as serious, for Christ himself declared these 
things. Christ himself declared that the temple was to 
be destroyed, and that, in three days, it would be raised 

There was a foretelling of the destruction of Jerusa- 
lem long before the apostolic testimony. The predic- 
tions of the apostles were only an echo of the prophecy 
of Daniel that had been spoken four or five hundred 
years before, viz., " The people of the Prince shall come 
and destroy the city and the sanctuary " ; so we cannot 
get rid of the element of prediction that is there. 
Putting the Gospel after the destruction of Jerusalem 
cannot help the matter at all. 

In fact, we find that it must have been before that 
event. There is a limit as to the point of time later 
than which the Gospel cannot have been written. It 
must have come before the destruction of Jerusalem; 
and yet there is a limit on the other side. It cannot be 
so very much before the destruction of Jerusalem. You 
remember that, in Matthew's Gospel, there is the story 
about the bribing of the soldiers who had watched at 
the tomb of Jesus. They were bribed to say that the 
disciples had come and stolen away the body of Jesus ; 
and Matthew adds : " And this saying is commonly 
reported among the Jews until this day." He could 
not have put in these words unless a considerable in- 
terval of time had elapsed since the resurrection of 
Christ. The time during which the Gospel could have 


been composed must therefore be narrowed down to 
a space somewhere between the years 50 and 60, or 
even between 55 and 60, when there was yet time to 
warn Christ's disciples of the impending destruction 
of the sacred city. Let us tentatively call the date 
A. D. 58. 

Now, something with regard to the object of the 
Gospel. Why was it that Matthew wrote ? What has 
been said with regard to the language, and with re- 
gard to the date, may help us in determining the ques- 
tion why Matthew wrote his Gospel. What was the 
main object he had in view? You can see that, if the 
Gospel was written at the time I suppose, there was 
already the shadow of approaching destruction and 
desolation gathering about the " holy city." Those 
who had been accustomed to go into the temple to 
worship were now about to be cast out from the tem- 
ple ; many among those Jewish Christians were tempted 
to question whether they would not be subject to a 
vast and irreparable loss. In view of this approaching 
calamity it was desirable that the Christian heart 
should be strengthened. In view of the scattering of 
the Jewish people it was desirable that the Gospel 
should be put into permanent and written form, as it 
never had been before ; and, therefore, Matthew began 
to write. 

There were two things which he might do to 
strengthen Christian hearts, and to prepare them for 
the times of suffering and trouble before them; and 
the first of them was to show them that this Saviour, 
in whom they had believed, was an Almighty Saviour, 


that he was the King of Israel, that he was the promised 
Messiah; and it is to this point that Matthew first 
directs his attention. 

He gives us historical proof that Jesus of Nazareth is 
the King of Israel ; he therefore begins with the gene- 
alogies, and proves from public records that Jesus is 
the lineal descendant of David and Abraham, the son 
of David and the son of Abraham, and that he is heir 
to all the promises that were made to the fathers. He 
is of the line of the kings; for the genealogy given us 
in Matthew, I think, is the royal genealogy ; it is the line 
of Jewish kings ; and Matthew aims to show that Jesus 
is heir to the throne of David and to the hereditary 
blessing of Abraham. This proof that Jesus, the car- 
penter, was the appointed and foretold King of Israel, 
would tend to strengthen the heart of every Jewish 
Christian, and make him stand by Christ, no matter 
what trial and trouble might come. 

But there was another thing that Matthew had in 
mind, and this brings into view the essential purpose 
of his Gospel. You know that, in the Qld Testament, 
there were prophecies of two sorts with regard to 
Christ. There had been the prophecy that Jesus should 
be the King of Israel, and there should arise one who 
should be the heir of David's throne, who should have 
power and glory and sovereignty. One class of pre- 
dictions was of this sort. Then, there had been 
another sort of prophecy, which the Jews had never 
been able to combine with the first, viz., that there was 
to be a suffering Messiah. The natural hopes and feel- 
ings of the people had clustered about the first class of 
prophecies ; but the second class of prophecies they had 


almost entirely ignored. So we find, in the Jewish 
people, a wide-spread expectation of a deliverer, a king 
who is to come in power and great glory; but as for 
believing that that king was also to be the Messiah 
who was to suffer and die, that thought they never per- 
mitted to enter into their minds. 

Now, it is Matthew's purpose to show that the two 
sorts of predictions related to one single person; that 
this promised King of Israel was the same individual 
as he who was to suffer for the sins of men. In other 
words, the promised son of David and son of Abraham 
was also the suffering Messiah; the High Priest of 
God's people was to reconcile Israel by sacrificing him- 
self. The Gospel according to Matthew shows that 
this King of Israel has suffered and died for man ; has 
accomplished his work of atonement; and, in spite of 
his low origin, and in spite of his humiliation and 
death, the Christian must look to him as the appointed 
Saviour of the world. 

If you look into the Gospel according to Matthew, 
and read it through with this in mind, you will get 
an entirely new view of its meaning. It is the Gospel 
of rejection, and the Gospel according to Luke is the 
Gospel of acceptance. People wonder, in Luke, at the 
gracious words that proceed out of the Saviour's mouth. 
That side, that aspect of the Saviour, comes into view ; 
but in Matthew there is one long undertone of mourn- 
ing, one long undertone of sorrow. All through the 
Gospel of Matthew Jesus is represented as rejected of 

Mary is rejected and cast out at the beginning. 
Herod pursues the young child. Joseph has to flee into 


Egypt, from the wrath of the king. When he comes 
back he cannot go to the native place of Jesus, but has 
to withdraw to Nazareth. Jesus is driven from place 
to place, until at last he goes to his crucifixion. You 
find that there is a representation of the crucifixion, of 
the sorrowful sacrifice, as there is not in any of the 
other Evangelists. 

* The Sanhedrin, the appointed authorities of the Jews, 
V rejected Christ. He is cast out by his own people in 
Galilee ; and, at last, when Pilate crucified him, he says, 
" This is Jesus, the King of the Jews." In other words, 
the king is a rejected king. The promised King is also 
the suffering Messiah ; and the deepest note of sorrow 
and sacrifice is struck when God himself forsakes his 
Son upon the cross, and Jesus Christ, in his agony, 
cries, " My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken 

The Gospel according to Matthew, then, is the Gos- 
pel of rejection; it is the Gospel of sorrow; it is the 
Gospel of sacrifice; it is the proof that the expected 
King and Messiah of Israel is the appointed ransom for 
sinners; it is intended to show to those who might be 
staggering over this fact that this is the very fulfil- 
ment of prophecy, the very proof that Jesus' work is 
a fulfilment of God's eternal plan of redemption. The 
Gospel according to Matthew, then, is the Gospel of 
sacrifice ; but you must remember that sacrifice involved 
death, and that death is followed by resurrection. We 
find the founding of the new covenant, and the spread 
I of the gospel through all the world, predicted in the 
1 closing verses of the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew's 
sacrifice is " Sacrifice, out of which joy and triumph 


have come " : and it is only in Matthew that you have 
the command, " Go into all the world and preach the 
gospel to every creature." The central thought of the 
Gospel is indicated in those words in which Christ 
instituted the Lord's Supper : " This is my blood of the 
new covenant, which is shed for many for the re- 
mission of sins " ; in other words, a new covenant is 
now established, in place of the old covenant, by the 
blood of Jesus; so that Matthew furnishes the proper 
transition from the Old Testament to the New, and 
shows how the old covenant is merged in the new 
covenant, the new covenant of grace and mercy to 
mankind, through the blood of Christ. 

One or two words with regard to the structure of 
this Gospel. We can understand this very much better, 
now that we have the leading thought. The childhood 
of Jesus is related ; and then the Gospel is divided into 
two great parts : First, our Saviour's ministerial work 
in Galilee; and, secondly, his preparation for the cru- 
cifixion. Two great parts, I repeat the one having 
to do with his official life in Galilee, and the second 
with regard to his preparation for the crucifixion. 

The first of these parts answers to what I have called 
the second year of the Saviour's ministry; and the 
second part answers to what I have called the third 
year of the Saviour's ministry the ministry of Jesus 
in Judea not being described at all by Matthew. We 
have, then, the official life of the Saviour in Galilee 
described first of all, and, as a preface, Jesus' baptism. 
Secondly, we have the preparation for the crucifixion 
described, and the preface to that is the account of the 


There are many evidences of structure in Matthew's 
Gospel; it has a plan; read it with a view to this and 
I think you will be greatly struck by its order and 

The first part of the Gospel, the account of Christ's 
official life in Galilee, is prefaced by the narrative of 
his baptism; but it is also prefaced by the announce- 
ment, " from this time, Jesus began to preach that the 
Lkingdom of heaven is at hand." 

The second great division, the preparation for his 
crucifixion, is prefaced in a similar way by words that 
remind us of the first : " From this time, Jesus began 
to show unto his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem 
to suffer many things from the chief priests " ; and this 
preface predicts his sacrifice, and, after his death, his 
rising on the third day. So we have a preface to the 
first part, and a preface to the second part. 

After the preface to the first part, we have a ser- 
mon, the Sermon on the Mount, the giving out of the 
law of the new covenant; and just so, when we come 
to the second part, after this announcement that I have 
spoken of, we have another sermon to the disciples, 
on humility. As the first sermon was the laying out of 
the law of his kingdom for all men, so the second part 
of the Gospel has its sermon and discourse to the 
disciples themselves, on humility. 

Then, in the first part, as the sermon is followed by 
a series of miracles, and a growth of power, showing 
that Jesus has the authority to speak ; so, in the second 
part, we have, after the sermon on humility, another 
series of miracles. In the first part we have that series 
of miracles followed by parables, a dozen or more of 


them; and, in the second part, we have its miracles 
followed by prophecies. 

It is impossible to go into this more minutely, be- 
cause I should burden your minds. I can only hint at 
these evidences of structure in the Gospel. A great 
trouble with us, in our reading of the Gospels, is that 
we read them without looking beneath the surface. 
We do not analyze and divide the Gospel into its dif- 
ferent parts, as we should. We would enjoy our read- 
ing very much more if we made an analysis of the 
whole ; and here, in the Gospel according to Matthew, 
we would find marvelous evidences of structure. 

Matthew differs from Mark most palpably in this, 
that while Mark relates things in chronological order, 
Matthew finds the thought of much more importance 
than the mere chronological order, and groups things 
in a philosophical way. Matthew, for example, gives 
us a number of the parables together, although, from 
other Evangelists, we have reason to believe that they 
were not all spoken at the same time. Matthew gives us 
a number of Jesus' miracles together; although, from 
other Evangelists, we have reason to believe that not 
all of these miracles were performed at the same time. 

Matthew describes the life of Christ in an orderly 
and systematic way, following, not chronological, but 
logical order. In that respect he is more like our 
modern historian than was the ancient annalist. The 
latter confines himself to the chronological order, 
making his history a succession of dates, giving what 
happened, for instance, on the twenty-second day of 
March, then what happened on the twenty-third, and 
so on. The modern historian does nothing of that sort. 



Green, in his " Short History of the English People," 
takes up a movement and carries that movement on 
for a hundred years; then going back for a hundred 
years to begin with another movement and to describe 
that. The modern historian groups things. Matthew 
groups, while Mark follows simply the order of time. 

There are some peculiarities of Matthew's Gospel. 
There are many things which we get from Matthew, 
and from no other of the Evangelists. For example, 
Matthew alone tells us about the coming of the wise 
men from the East; Matthew alone tells us of the 
slaughter of the innocents; Matthew alone tells us of 
the incidents of the flight to Egypt and return to Naza- 
reth ; Matthew alone tells us of the coming of the Phari- 
sees and Sadducees to the baptizing by John ; Matthew 
alone tells us of Christ's betrayal by Judas for thirty 
pieces of silver; Matthew alone tells us of Judas' 
remorse and death ; Matthew alone tells us of the dream 
of Pilate's wife; Matthew alone tells us of the watch 
at the sepulcher ; .Matthew alone tells us of the bribing 
of the soldiers at the sepulcher ; Matthew alone tells us 
of the opening of the graves and the resurrection of the 
saints; Matthew alone gives us the Sermon on the 
Mount in its fulness; Matthew alone gives us the dis- 
course on humility ; Matthew alone gives us an account 
of the last judgment. It is only Matthew that tells us 
rof that promise of Christ : " Come unto me all ye that 
y labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." 
It is only Matthew that tells that every idle word shall 
be brought into judgment. It is only Matthew that 
speaks of the blessing of Christ upon Peter for his great 
confession, " Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living 


God." It is only Matthew that gives us the parable 
of the Tares, the parable of the Hid Treasure, the 
Goodly Pearl, the Draw Net, the Unmerciful Servant, 
the Laborers in the Vineyard, the Two Sons, the Mar- 
riage of the King's Son, the Ten Virgins, the Ten 
Talents, and the Sheep and the Goats. 

How much there is that we should lose, if we lost 
the Gospel according to Matthew ! Each of the other 
Gospels has its peculiarities, as we shall see; but 
Matthew is a precious Gospel in what it alone gives. 
So Matthew has attained his object by proving to us 
that this carpenter of Nazareth, this man of low 
origin, this man who was despised and rejected of 
men, is, notwithstanding, the Son of God, the King of 

That is the first of Matthew's great teachings; and 
the second of his great teachings is this : that this Son 
of God and King of Israel was the sacrifice for human 
sins, and that by that sacrifice he became the great 
High Priest by whom Israel is brought back to God. 
The prophecies of the Old Testament are fulfilled in 
the death of Christ for the sins of the world: Mat- 
thew is the Gospel of sacrifice. Last of all, we find 
this atonement set forth as the turning-point in human 
history. This sacrifice of Christ unites the old cove- 
nant with the new, constitutes the central thought of 
all time, and is the one great event of the ages. 

When a man leaves his native land and launches out 
upon the sea, he passes one point after another, until, 
at last, he comes to the final headland ; the great light- 
house there sheds its light over the sea, but disappears 
at last in the distance ; he gets no light any more until 


he reaches another land. So I have thought that, when 
we leave this world and launch out on the sea of 
eternity, there are many lights; but the last light, the 
only light that will remain when every other has 
vanished, will be the light of that crucified Son of 
God, who suffered for the sins of men. That is the 
one event of history. And the death of Jesus Christ 
for the sins of men, the sacrifice of the Son of God for 
you and for me, is the central subject of the Gospel 
according to Matthew. 


THE Gospel we study this morning is the Gospel of 
Mark. John, whose surname was Mark, is mentioned 
in the Acts of the Apostles; and he is said to be the 
son of Mary, who had a house in Jerusalem which 
was a sort of rallying-point for the disciples in the 
early days of the church. It is just possible that this 
very house may have contained the " upper chamber " 
in which Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper. How- 
ever that may be, it is certain that John Mark was a 
Jew. His first name would indicate this. Possibly 
he was a native of Jerusalem; and yet, being a native 
of Jerusalem, he would seem to have had some Latin 
connections; the name Mark, or Marcus, might possi- 
bly indicate that; and some other allusions in his 
Gospel seem to indicate the same thing. It would 
seem as if the name Mark came to be used more fre- 
quently by him than the other Jewish name, just in 
proportion as his activity transcended the bounds of 
Palestine, and he devoted himself to preaching to the 

It is possible that this passing from the name John 
to the name Mark, which we perceive in the Acts and 
in the Epistles, was significant of an inward change 
in the man himself, or in the purpose of his life; just 
as Levi, when he entered the service of Christ, became 
Matthew; just as Saul, when he entered the service of 
Christ, became Paul. 


Peter, in his first Epistle, speaks of Marcus, his son. 
Now, this may intimate that, during Peter's visits to 
the house of Mary, Marcus' mother, the young and 
active lad became inspired by Peter's words, and was 
converted to Christ. It would seem as if Mark were 
a convert of Peter; and you remember that, near the 
close of Mark's Gospel, there is a peculiar incident 
narrated in regard to a certain young man who, when 
Jesus was apprehended and the apostles forsook him 
and fled, still followed after Christ, was laid hold of by 
the armed men who were taking Jesus away to the 
judgment-hall, and in his fright and haste fled away 
naked, leaving his garments in their hands. No name is 
attached to this incident; but it is perhaps something 
more than a mere conjecture that this young man may 
have been Mark himself, and that this incident, in 
which he seems to be throwing in his lot with the dis- 
ciples of Christ, was an early indication of his con- 
version to the Saviour and his purpose to devote 
himself to his Lord. 

It seems that Barnabas was a cousin of Mark. If 
you will read the chapter in the Acts of the Apostles 
which tells of Peter's rescue from prison and of his 
coming back to that house, knocking, and being at 
first taken for Peter's spirit or Peter's angel, you will 
find that the chapter is preceded by the account of the 
visit of Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, as messengers 
of the church at Antioch, and is followed by the de- 
parture of Paul and Barnabas, taking with them John 
Mark. Now, it is just possible that, at that very meet- 
ing of the church, where they were praying for Peter 
and for his release, Paul and Barnabas were them- 


selves present; and it is just possible that, as the 
result of that great incident, Mark may have been 
especially impressed with the obligation of devoting 
himself permanently and exclusively to the work of 
the ministry. At any rate, we find that he went with 
Paul and Barnabas to Antioch ; that, when they started 
out on their first missionary journey, he went with 
them to Perga ; and that it was only when Paul under- 
took a larger circuit and concluded to go into Pam- 
phylia, in Asia Minor, that Mark seems to have been 
seized with some change of purpose. It would almost 
seem as if the impetuous and restless spirit of Peter 
had found its like in Mark, and that we have in this 
case some proof or indication of vacillation on Mark's 
part. He departed from Paul, and went back to An- 
tioch ; and the result was that Paul gained, for a time 
at least, an unfavorable impression with regard to 
Mark's stability, and censured him. However, we 
find it was the cause of quite a severe contention be- 
tween Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas took Mark with 
him, and held to him ; but afterward we find that Paul 
seems to have received Mark again into his fellowship. 
We find Mark serving with Paul at Rome as his cher- 
ished helper ; we find Mark with Peter at the very east 
of the Roman Empire, in Babylon; and afterward we 
find him with Timothy at Ephesus, where, in one of 
his last letters, Paul urged Mark to come to him again 
at Rome ; so that Mark seems to have recovered what- 
ever ground he had lost both with Peter and Paul. 
The only thing which can be added to these incidents 
in the life of Mark is the tradition that he founded the 
church at Alexandria, that he became bishop of that 


church, and that he suffered martyrdom there. It is 
evident that Mark was a great traveler. He went 
from one end of the Roman Empire to another. He 
was the familiar companion both of Peter and Paul, 
with something of the restless and active mind that 
belonged to the first, preaching both to the Jews and to 
the Gentiles. 

Papias, one of the very earliest of the apostolic 
Fathers, tells us that Mark was the interpreter of 
Peter. Now precisely what these words " interpreter 
of Peter " mean has been a question among church 
historians. It may mean that Mark was the transla- 
tor of Peter's oral address; that he was interpreter 
in that narrow sense; that, while Peter uttered his 
words either in Aramaic or Greek, Mark interpreted 
them into the Latin. Or it may mean (and the most 
are inclined to take the words in this sense) that Mark 
was the writer in Greek of what Peter spoke in Ara- 
maic, that Mark put down on paper the things which 
Peter orally preached. The idea, I suppose, is not that 
Peter dictated, and that Mark took down from his dic- 
tation his oral gospel; nor do I think it probable that 
Peter himself wrote a sort of diary and that Mark 
expanded it. It would rather seem as if Peter had 
suggested to Mark the putting down in Greek, as a 
matter of permanent record, things which were the 
subject of his preaching, and which Mark probably had 
heard him detail over and over again, in their some- 
what stereotyped form, until at last they had impressed 
themselves deeply upon his memory. 

As Eusebius, under the authority of Clement of 
Alexandria, tells us, Peter had the Gospel which Mark 


wrote out in Greek submitted to him for his approval 
and sanction; and, therefore, the Gospel as we have it 
now is practically the Gospel of Peter. There are 
some indications in the Gospel itself that it is, indi- 
rectly at least, the work of Peter, or that it has the 
sanction of Peter, and practically represents the gospel 
as Peter preached it. For example, we have all inci- 
dents in which Peter was expressly praised omitted; 
and we have other incidents, in which Peter was 
blamed, retained. The praise which Christ gave to 
Peter, " Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I 
build my church," is significantly omitted; but the 
words, " Get thee behind me, Satan," which were 
spoken to Peter by Christ in the way of reproof, are 
retained; and we have two cock-crowings in Mark, 
adding to the guilt of Peter in his denial, while in 
Matthew we have only one. All these are evidences 
that Peter had something to do with its authorship. 

Many things are narrated to us by Mark in the third 
person singular, which seem to be reports of what 
Peter had told to Mark in the first person. As, for 
example, we have such a sentence as this, " Peter and 
those with him followed after " ; the singular number 
used in the verb. The best explanation is that Peter 
narrated this incident to Mark in the first person singu- 
lar, and that Mark simply put down what he had heard 
from Peter in the third person ; but it is impossible to 
enlarge upon this. It is only one of many indications 
that Mark had heard from Peter a narration of his 
personal experience; that he had become minutely ac- 
quainted with Peter's oral gospel; and that he had 
put down what he had heard from Peter in a more 


general form, a form which was capable of more 
general use. 

How can we claim that the Gospel of Mark is in- 
spired, when Mark was not an apostle of the Lord? 
I suppose that a true answer to that question is just 
this, that the promise which our Saviour gave to those 
who should speak and teach in his name was a 
promise, not simply to the individuals before him, but 
to those who should stand in their place. It was a 
promise to apostles and apostolic men. It was a 
promise to those who should be the first pillars and 
teachers of his church; so that it was practically a 
promise to Paul, as well as those eleven apostles that 
were before him at the time; and it was a promise to 
Mark, if Mark should be the representative of Peter, 
the scribe of Peter, the interpreter of Peter. It was a 
promise to Luke, if Luke should stand in the place of 
Paul; it was a promise to James, the brother of our 
Lord. It was a promise to any such as should be 
chosen in God's providence to be the original pro- 
claimers of the gospel, the putters of that gospel into 
permanent and written form. 

Where this Gospel was written, I do not certainly 
know; and I do not think that any one can certainly 
tell. It may have been written in Babylon, with Peter ; 
and it may have been written in Rome, if Peter ever 
was in Rome; but even about this residence of Peter 
in Rome, and still more in regard to the fact that 
Peter was bishop of Rome, I do not think we can say 
we have any certainty at all. At any rate, it is true 
that the Gospel was written some time before the de- 
struction of Jerusalem probably before the year 60; 


and if we were to put the date definitely at all, con- 
jecturally, it is more likely to be the year 56, or the year 
55, perhaps, than any other. There are certain in- 
dications in the Epistles which give some reason for 
assigning the date within these limits. Some of the 
Epistles were written as late as the year 62; in the 
Epistle to the Colossians, in which Mark is mentioned, 
we have no mention whatever of the Gospels; in the 
First Epistle of Peter there is an indication that Peter 
intended to see that the disciples were put permanently 
in possession of the substance of the gospel : " He 
would see to it that they had the means of keeping in 
remembrance these things which they had heard " ; and 
this would indicate that the Gospels were yet to be 
written. Luke, however, refers to accounts of Christ's 
life earlier than his own, and we cannot put his Gospel 
later than the year 59. Matthew must have preceded 
Luke by at least a single year, and so must be dated 
as early as 58. Since Mark is the simplest and earliest 
of the Gospels, we seem compelled to assign the year 
56 or 55 for its composition. 

Now, the description of Christ which is given in the 
Gospel corresponds quite well with what I have said 
with regard to the character of Mark, and with regard 
to the character of Peter, of whom Mark was the inter- 
preter. The Gospel seems to have been written for 
Roman hearers, or for Roman readers. It is the Gos- 
pel of miracles, we might say ; or, to put it in another 
form, the Gospel according to Mark represents Christ 
as the mighty Wonder-worker. It is a Gospel intended 
for the Roman world, for the Romans who were 
masters of the world, for the Romans among whom 


energy and will were almost deified. The Gospel ac- 
cording to Mark is a Gospel of deeds rather than of 
words. It is a Gospel in which the Saviour is set 
before us as restlessly active, as full of energy, as full 
of power. We find, for example, that the portions of 
our Saviour's life which have not to do with his public, 
activity are wholly omitted. Matthew tells us very 
much in regard to the infancy of Christ, or at least 
gives us many incidents connected with his birth and 
childhood; but, in Mark, the whole story begins with 
the baptism by John the Baptist. We have described 
to us only the activity of our Lord; and the long dis- 
courses which are given to us in Matthew are either 
omitted in Mark, or they are so curtailed that but the 
germ of them remains. We have no subjective sen- 
tences or reflections. We have only the merest allu- 
sions to that long Sermon on the Mount which is 
recorded in the early part of Matthew's Gospel, import- 
ant as that sermon was. The whole method of Mark 
is the method of an annalist rather than the method of 
a philosophical historian. 

Mark is a man of affairs; Mark is a man who fol- 
lows chronological order; Mark gives us but very lit- 
tle grouping. In Mark, there seems to be the attempt 
to follow, from day to day and almost from hour to 
hour, the incidents of the Saviour's life; and so we 
find that the element of discourse plays an exceedingly 
small part in Mark, compared with Matthew and Luke. 
A single illustration, perhaps, may set this before you 
better than anything else that I can say. A statistical 
account of the miracles and the parables, and the pro- 
portionate space they occupy in Matthew, Mark, and 


Luke is exceedingly instructive. Now Matthew gives 
us twenty miracles of Christ, and Luke gives us twenty 
miracles of Christ; and, although Mark's Gospel is 
not more than one-half as long as the Gospel according 
to Matthew, Mark gives us nineteen. Yet, when you 
come to the parables, Matthew gives us fifteen, Luke 
gives us twenty-three, and Mark only four. This is a 
simple illustration of Mark's Gospel. He is occupied 
with events; he is not occupied so much with dis- 
courses. It is not so much the teaching of Christ, as 
it is the life of Christ, that interests him. Moreover, 
you will find that, in Mark, you have no reference 
whatever to the fulfilment of prophecy. I speak some- 
what hyperbolically here. There are certain sayings 
of Christ in which Christ's words have to be quoted, 
one might say; and, therefore, there is here and there 
an allusion to prophecy ; but that everlasting, " That 
thus it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the 
prophets," that you have continually recurring in Mat- 
thew, you have nothing of in Mark at all. You have 
no genealogies of Christ in Mark, no connecting of 
Christ with the old dispensation. You have nothing 
with regard to the fulfilment in Christ of the predic- 
tions of the Old Testament. Mark narrates the life of 
Christ only as it is a matter of present interest, with- 
out reference to the past; and so, while Matthew's 
great object is to connect great epochs of history with 
one another, connect the new with the old, and build 
upon the foundation of the Old Testament prophets, 
Mark has no such concern. Mark's idea is to set be- 
fore us the Wonder-worker, the individual personality 
of the Son of God, and to show how continuously 


active he was. Matthew, moreover, is the Gospel of 
rejection : in Matthew you have a continual undertone 
of sorrow ; Christ is represented there as the sacrifice ; 
he is the fulfilment of the Old Testament predictions 
of a High Priest of Israel; and so the symbol of the 
Gospel according to Matthew is the sacrificial bullock ; 
but for Mark, you have as a proper symbol the lion ; 
Christ is the lion of the tribe of Judah; he is the Sa- 
viour full of energy, full of power, working wonders 
among men. Mark's Gospel is the Gospel of activity ; 
it is the Gospel of victory ; it is the Gospel of triumph, 
as compared with the Gospel of Matthew. It is another 
aspect of the Saviour's life; it is another aspect of the 
Saviour's work. The Gospel according to Mark is 
crowded with action. 

It is worth while to read over each one of these 
Gospels in the light of this general characterization. 
After getting the general idea of each one, if we read 
it through with an eye to that particular idea, a great 
many things assume a new significance. For example, 
you have in Mark a spirit of restless activity ; he recog- 
nizes in Christ just that which satisfies the demand of 
his particular nature. There is no word in the whole 
Gospel according to Mark that is more characteristic 
and significant than the word e&^c, the word " imme- 
diately," or " straightway." You find that word two 
or three times in Matthew ; two or three times in Luke ; 
but in Mark it is perpetually recurring. In Mark it 
occurs forty-one times. In Mark, whatever is done 
is done " straightway," " immediately," and there is 
rapid passage from one event to another. As soon as 
Christ works a miracle, straightway something else 


happens. Mark seems to be bent upon passing rapidly 
from one thing to another, and recognizing the con- 
tinual activity of the Saviour's life. It is Mark that 
tells us that the room where they were was so full they 
could not stand. It is Mark that tells us that our 
Saviour was so busy with the disciples that they had 
no time to eat. It is Mark that tells us that Jesus was 
so restlessly active that the people thought he was 
beside himself. All these things are given to us by 
Mark alone. 

Mark describes the awe-stricken impression of the 
disciples that Jesus was more than mortal man when 
he started to go from the Mount of Transfiguration to 
Jerusalem to suffer. He went forward with so ma- 
jestic a mien of determination and sacrifice that the 
disciples were amazed and afraid. No Evangelist but 
Mark gives us this aspect of the Saviour's countenance. 
Mark represents Jesus as the Saviour of achievement. 
Jesus, in entering into a town, finds that they are all 
ready to receive him. The whole town rises up to meet 
him. They run on foot out of their cities to come to 
him; and, when they bring to him their sick, all that 
even touched him were made perfectly whole. This 
incident, which Mark, and Mark alone, gives to us, 
presents a peculiar impression of the energy, the will, 
the activity of the Saviour's life. 

Thus Mark sets before us our Saviour in the pecu- 
liar light of a miracle- worker, a wonder-worker, one 
who makes majestic and unique impressions, not only 
upon his disciples but upon all men. The literary 
characteristics of Mark's Gospel are just such as befit 
its subject on one hand the peculiar aspect in which 


it regards the person of the Lord Jesus and just such 
as befit the nature of Mark, as we are inclined to in- 
terpret it, and just such as befit Peter himself, of 
whom Mark is the representative and interpreter. 

Mark's Gospel is the briefest of all the Gospels. It 
is not only brief in its general compass, but it is ex- 
ceedingly terse in its style. No other of the Gospels 
bears comparison with it. Everything is " touch and 
go," in Mark's Gospel. There is no amplification in 
Mark; everything is sharp and incisive. And, while 
everything is brief, there is also the other element of 
picturesqueness, of a graphic quality. The pictorial 
element is better represented in Mark than in any other 
of the Gospels. Mark is a man of affairs; Mark evi- 
dently was a man of keen eye ; Mark had his wits about 
him, and was observing and jotted down in memory, 
if not upon paper, everything he saw; and the result 
is that, although Mark's Gospel is the briefest of the 
Gospels, there is more of detail in Mark's Gospel 
than in either one of the others; i. e., there is more 
of picturesque detail, more evidence that it is a picture 
from real life. There is more in the Gospel according 
to Mark than in the other Gospels that no forger could 
have counterfeited. It is a healthy, breezy narrative, 
that takes you right into the midst of affairs. If the 
Gospel according to John is written for the contem- 
plative life of earlier days than ours, the Gospel ac- 
cording to Mark is written for this wide-awake, mov- 
ing, pressing, rushing twentieth century. 

The Gospel according to Mark is not only brief, 
terse, vivid, pictorial, graphic in its whole style, but 
there is also a minuteness of detail, a picking out of 


little things that give interest and vividness to the 
narrative, such as are very difficult to describe in 
general and can be illustrated only by certain particu- 

Let me try to instance a very few of the things which 
Mark tells, and which we get from no other Evangel- 
ist. At the baptism, when Christ comes up from the 
water, after prayer, there is one incident which only 
Mark gives us. Our Lord, with a deep sense of his 
responsibility as he is entering upon the ministry, to 
which now pictorially he has devoted himself by sub- 
mersion under the waters of death, thus, at the be- 
ginning of his ministry, symbolically indicating that 
baptism of death with which his ministry is to close, 
and feeling his need of the strength and help of God, 
opens his great heart to heaven and prays to the 
Father ; and then what is the result ? Why, Mark tells 
us that the heavens were rent, and that the Holy Spirit 
came down like a dove upon him. " Were rent ! " No 
other Evangelist gives us that temporary rending of 
the heavens ; as if God, in answer to Jesus' prayer, has 
parted the very heavens to come down. It is only 
Mark who tells us that, immediately after the baptism, 
the Saviour was driven by the Spirit into the wilder- 
ness: driven by the Spirit, overmastered by the tre- 
mendous energy of the divine power within, was 
driven into the wilderness, in order that there he might 
contemplate the plan of his work; and then, in that 
wilderness, it is only Mark that tells us that he was 
among the wild beasts in the lone solitudes of nature, 
with no other than irrational creatures about him to 
give him help and sympathy. Yet all these graphic 


touches are in the first chapter, and they indicate what 
we find in every single chapter of the Gospel to the 

Our Saviour, when he comes up into Galilee, is 
asleep in the hinder part of the vessel, and is lying upon 
the rower's cushion, fatigued and exhausted. Only 
Mark tells of this. When Jesus performs the miracle 
of casting out the evil spirit from the boy that was 
possessed, Mark alone tells us that the boy wallowed 
upon the ground, foaming. Jesus feeds the five 
thousand; gathers the multitude about him; but only 
Mark tells us that they all sat down on the green grass. 
The imaginative, the pictorial element comes in there. 
Mark saw the green. No other Evangelist apparently 
did. These are mere illustrations of what occurs many, 
many times over; and even what I have given will be 
sufficient to show that we are under a special debt to 
the author of the Gospel according to Mark, for this 
peculiar, this beautiful, this pictorial way of setting 
forth before us the life of the Lord Jesus. 

It is not only true that the literary characteristics 
of the Gospel according to Mark embrace brevity, the 
graphic quality, exceeding minuteness of detail, but 
there is also in this Gospel a singular adaptation to the 
purpose of the author, and to the readers for whom it 
was designed. It was probably designed for Roman 
readers. You have, for example, the coins that were 
used in that day designated, not by their Greek or their 
Aramaic names, but by their Latin names. The words 
that would be perfectly intelligible to the Latin readers 
are the words that Mark uses. You have centurio and 
speculator, both of them simple Latin words; though 


there were Greek equivalents for the words " centu- 
rion " and " executioner," Mark uses the words which 
would be most intelligible to the circle of readers for 
whom he wrote. 

Many things that are common in Palestine, so com- 
mon as to need no explanation, Mark sets himself to 
explain. He does not say " the Jordan," but the " river 
Jordan," as if there might be some of his readers that 
did not know that Jordan was a river. He tells us that 
the Mount of Olives was over against Jerusalem, while 
only one that knew nothing about Palestine at all, and 
was very unfamiliar with the topography of the Scrip- 
tures, would have needed that explanation that the 
" Mount of Olives was over against the temple of 
Jerusalem." Mark has in mind a peculiar set of read- 
ers, and he is continually explaining to them the things 
of which those who were familiar with Palestine would 
need no explanation. For example, wherever Aramaic 
words are used, you find that Mark invariably trans- 
lates them. You do not find that Matthew translates 
them at all. He has another set of readers and hear- 
ers, and does not need to translate. 

So we have indications that there was not only de- 
sign in this Gospel, but that the design was very care- 
fully and regularly followed out; and the literary 
characteristics of the Gospel are just such as set forth 
Christ as the great Wonder-worker upon the earth. 

It has been said, you know, that the people of the 
first century were very imaginative, very credulous; 
that they expected miracles at every turn, and that, 
therefore, any narrative with regard to the great 
Prophet and Teacher would have lacked its essential 


interest unless miracles had been interwoven with it. 
But that is all a mistake; for the ruling class among 
the Jews, the wealthy class, and the most educated 
class, were the Sadducees; and they surely did not be- 
lieve in miracle, nor spirit, nor the resurrection. John 
the Baptist was the great teacher, and had the greatest 
following that the Jews had ever known. John the 
Baptist wrought no miracles. Why did he not work 
miracles, if miracles were natural and necessarily at- 
tributed to every great Jewish teacher? There was 
enough of the critical spirit to distinguish between 
superstition and reality, and to scrutinize the evidence 
upon which these narratives of our Saviour's life 
rested. We have reason to believe that such scrutiny 
was exercised, and that these narratives were accepted 
because they conform to the testimony of witnesses 
who were yet living at the time the Gospels were 

All we need to do is to compare this vivid, this 
bright, this healthy, this exceedingly vigorous, and yet 
this exceedingly calm and clear narrative of the Sa- 
viour's life, with the medieval stories of miracles, or 
the stories of miracles in the Apocryphal New Testa- 
ment; and we find that we are in an entirely different 
atmosphere. In Mark the miracles are natural and 
necessary to the presence of him who is the greatest 
miracle, who is in himself the incarnate Son of God. 
If Jesus Christ, God made flesh, did. not signalize his 
coming by a miracle, that would itself, we might say, 
be the greatest of miracles. If Jesus, the Son of God, 
became incarnate, then miracles were the natural and 
necessary accompaniment of his incarnation; and so 


we claim that this Gospel of Mark needs only to be 
read and studied to assure him who reads and studies 
it that this narrative is a perfectly credible narrative 
of historical facts. 

The argument for miracles in general, of course, 
does not belong to my present purpose. I have only 
aimed thus far to show you that the Gospel according 
to Mark is unique and peculiar in its character; that 
it sets forth Jesus Christ in his aspect of the Wonder- 
worker; that it sets forth Jesus Christ so naturally, 
so simply, with so many indications of the testimony 
of an eye-witness, so many things that could not pos- 
sibly have been forged, or merely imagined, that we 
have in this Gospel one of the very best testimonies 
that Jesus Christ lived and that he wrought the 
wonders that were attributed to him. 


THE Gospel according to Matthew is the Gospel of 
rejection and sacrifice. The Gospel according to Mark 
is an exhibition of the wonder-working power of the 
Son of God. The Gospel according to Luke, which 
we take up to-day, is the Gospel of humanity, the 
Gospel that brings before us most vividly the human 
life of our Redeemer, that brings him most intimately 
into contact with our human wants and sorrows. The 
Gospel according to John, which concludes the four, is 
the Gospel of the divinity, as the Gospel according to 
Luke is the Gospel of the humanity, of Christ. So we 
have a complete cycle, a perfect whole, in these four 
Gospels with which the New Testament begins. 

Luke is probably a contraction for the longer name 
Lucanus, just as Apollos is a contraction for the 
longer Latin name Apollonius. Luke was probably 
not a Jew; for in the Epistle to the Colossians, where 
Paul mentions those who are of the circumcision, 
Luke's name is not mentioned; but his name is men- 
tioned among others who follow, and who are appar- 
ently all Gentiles, or of Gentile origin. Tradition says 
that he was born at Antioch, that gathering-place of 
the nations, far to the north of Palestine. 

The Gospel is dedicated to Theophilus, just as the 
Acts, written also by Luke, is dedicated to Theophilus ; 
and to him in the dedication is applied the very pe- 
culiar epithet, " Most excellent Theophilus." That 


word is applied also by Claudius Lysias, and by Ter- 
tullian, to Felix, and by Paul to Festus, both of them 
governors of Judea, and apparently it is used very 
much as we should use the words, " Your Excellency." 
Theophilus appears, therefore, to have been a man 
not only of official position, but of note and wealth; 
and the Gospel of Luke, and the Acts alike, are dedi- 
cated to him perhaps in token of respect, perhaps as 
the patronus libri, or patron of the book, who aids in 
its publication, who gives to it a certain measure of 
dignity and currency through his sanction and recom- 

Tradition says that this Theophilus was himself a 
resident of Antioch, and that Luke was his f reedman ; 
and as in those days slaves often were more educated 
than their masters and pursued employments of great 
respectability, so it is quite possible that Luke was an 
educated physician while yet he was a slave, and that 
after a time, possibly on account of the Christian re- 
lations between Theophilus, his master, and himself, 
he became the freedman of Theophilus. This Gospel 
may have been dedicated to the master who had set 
him free, as a token of gratitude for the boon he had 
received at his hands ; and yet, after all this is said, we 
must also say that it rests upon precarious tradition, 
and not the very greatest weight is to be attached to it. 

Historically the first thing we know with regard 
to Luke is that he is the companion of Paul in Paul's 
journey beginning at Troas. Lightfoot, a very saga- 
cious commentator and a very learned man, suggests 
that this first appearance of Luke in company with Paul 
almost exactly synchronizes with the attack of Paul's 


constitutional malady, which Lightfoot believes to have 
been epilepsy; and he suggests that Luke may have 
accompanied Paul, partly in his professional capacity, 
in order to be caring for the health of the apostle. 

You remember that scene in which the man of Mac- 
edonia appears in a dream to Paul and cries, " Come 
over and help us " ; and you remember the response 
which is evoked. The apostle Paul goes over to 
Europe, and the transition is made from missionary 
work in Asia to missionary work in Europe. Luke 
goes with Paul to Philippi; and there at Philippi he 
seems to remain. Notice now how exceedingly meager 
the actual material is for building up even this story. 
It all rests upon the use of the word " we " in place 
of the word " they," when Paul comes. In all Paul's 
journeys up to Troas, Luke, in the Acts, uses the word 
" they >: " they " did so and so ; but from Troas we 
find that he uses the word " we " ; and that word " we " 
he uses until Paul comes to Philippi and departs from 
Philippi. Then for seven years of Paul's history Luke 
does not appear to have been with Paul ; but when Paul 
comes back to Philippi again, where Luke may have 
been left as pastor of the church for the instruction 
of converts, we find that the word " we " is used again. 
Luke seems to have accompanied Paul to Asia, i. e., to 
Asia Minor, and then back again to Palestine ; and at 
last Luke goes with Paul to Rome, and continues with 
Paul to the end of the history. 

Curious, is it not, that, although Luke is the writer 
of the Acts and was the companion of Paul, he men- 
tions his own name not even once? The only clue we 
have to his being Paul's companion and a sharer in 


his labors is this use of the word " we " ; and these 
" we passages," as they are called, have become famous 
on this account. Luke seems to have desired no fame 
apart from that of his master and teacher, the apostle. 
He seems to have desired to connect himself with Paul, 
and be remembered only in his connection with Paul. 
Like that man who ordered that upon his tombstone 
there should be inscribed these words, " Here lies the 
friend of Milton," so Luke seems to have desired that 
his name should be forever connected with the name 
of the great apostle of the Gentiles. He wanted no 
other honor than that he should be known as the helper 
of Paul, the preacher of Christ to the Gentile world. 

It is also very curious that the moment Paul dis- 
appears, that moment the history of Luke becomes 
mere surmise, confusion, and fable. Tradition tells 
us about his being minister in Greece, and suffering 
martyrdom there by being nailed to an olive-tree in 
place of a cross; but this is all on no certain founda- 
tion. He was the companion of Paul in the most im- 
portant of his missionary labors, beginning with the 
second missionary journey from Troas, and then going 
with him in the third missionary journey, from Philippi 
to Palestine and Rome. 

The date of the Gospel according to Luke may be 
inferred with some degree of probability from the data 
that I have already given you. It is pretty clear that 
the evangelist Luke was not in Palestine (at least we 
have no data at all to show us that he was in Palestine 
at all) until he accompanied Paul there from Philippi. 
You remember what happened after Paul went up to 
Jerusalem for the last time, how he was apprehended, 


and how for two years (between the years 58 and 60) 
he was prisoner in Caesarea. This is the only certain 
time to which we can assign the accumulation of the 
material that was necessary for the construction of 
Luke's Gospel. That time of Paul's imprisonment, 
those two years in Caesarea, was the only time when 
Luke could have come into personal contact with 
Mary, the mother of our Lord, and have derived from 
her, as he must have derived, his information with 
regard to the infancy and growth of Christ, his pres- 
entation in the temple, and a number of other things 
which are narrated to us by Luke alone. It must have 
been the time, if any, when Luke procured from some 
one of the brethren of our Lord his account of the 
journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, just preceding 
Christ's crucifixion. You know there is a passage of 
almost nine chapters which is entirely peculiar to Luke, 
and which must have been derived from some constant 
companion of our Lord. 

This time of Luke's residence in Palestine, during 
the imprisonment of Paul, is the only time we can 
assign for the collection of this material. During that 
imprisonment at Caesarea Paul was not rigidly con- 
fined. His friends had access to him; and it was dur- 
ing that time, if any, that Luke may have had Paul's 
superintendence in his work of putting the materials 
of the Saviour's life into permanent and written form. 
As Paul had the prospect before him of leaving Pales- 
tine forever and of going to his death at Rome, it 
would have been just the time that he would have 
desired to put into permanent form the story of the 
gospel that he had been accustomed to preach. Just 


at this time we may imagine that he would suggest 
to Luke the composition of such a Gospel, and would 
have furnished him with such material as was neces- 
sary upon his part. 

Since the Gospel according to Luke was written 
before the Acts of the Apostles (it was " the former 
treatise," you remember, as Luke himself tells us), and 
since the Acts of the Apostles must have been written 
before the close of Paul's first imprisonment in Rome, 
i. e., before the year 66, the only time which we can 
properly assign to the composition of the Gospel is the 
year 59. All of the synoptic Gospels, I think, may be 
put somewhere between the year 55 and the year 60; 
and the Gospel according to Luke was probably the 
latest of the three. 

This Gospel is a Pauline Gospel, but not a Pauline 
Gospel in the sense that Paul was himself the author 
of it. When Paul, in his Epistles, speaks of " my 
gospel," I suppose he speaks of the oral gospel which 
he preached, and not of any Gospel which he, himself, 
wrote out; nor do I suppose that Paul was the author 
of this Gospel in the sense of dictating it to Luke. 
There is too much difference in style between Paul and 
Luke to warrant any such hypothesis. 

Irenseus, one of the early Christian Fathers, says 
that Luke, the follower of Paul, set down in a book the 
gospel which Paul preached. Tertullian, another Chris- 
tian Father, a little later tells us that Paul was the 
illuminator of Luke, i. e., Paul furnished his material 
in a large part to Luke ; and he also says that Luke's 
digest was commonly attributed to Paul, i. e., it was 
attributed to Paul as the suggester and furnisher of 


the material. There are many things in the purpose 
and air of Paul's Epistles, Paul's speeches in the Acts, 
and the Gospel according to Luke, which makes such 
a Pauline relation exceedingly probable. It is prob- 
able, I think, that Paul suggested to Luke, his com- 
panion and physician, the writing of the Gospel. It is 
probable that he superintended it, that to a large extent 
he furnished material for it, and that it finally went 
forth with his sanction ; and we have reason to believe 
that the Saviour's promise of inspiration, which be- 
longed to the apostle Paul, belonged also to the evan- 
gelist Luke, because he was the representative of Paul. 
Paul himself speaks of Luke as the beloved physi- 
cian, i. e., one to whom he was bound by very tender 
ties; bound by gratitude, perhaps, for help rendered 
to him in his physical infirmities; bound, perhaps, by 
sympathy of nature and spirit, and by the many serv- 
ices that had been rendered to him in his journeys and 
in his imprisonment. There is one of whom Paul says 
that his praise is in all the churches, and that one is 
thought by many to be Luke. In writing to Timothy, 
during his imprisonment in Rome, Paul says, " Only 
Luke is with me " ; as if Luke was the last one that 
remained with the apostle in his time of trial. All these 
things give us reason to believe that Luke had many 
qualifications of mind and heart that drew him close 
to the apostle, and made him the proper representa- 
tive of Paul in the putting of his Gospel into perma- 
nent and written form. In fact, they were so closely 
related to one another in the view of the early church 
that Marcion, the Gnostic and enemy of Judaism, one 
who believed that the Old Testament God was a 


restricted divinity belonging to Palestine alone, and 
who held to the antagonism between the Old and the 
New Testament God Marcion accepted no Gospel but 
the Gospel according to Luke ; and even out of that he 
cut those parts that had any Hebraistic relation such 
as the first and second chapters and quite a portion 
between the third and fourth chapters. Marcion threw 
away all the Hebraistic portion of Luke's Gospel, and 
accepted the rest as the only Gospel that was worthy 
of credence, or the only one, at any rate, adapted to his 
views ; and then he threw away all the rest of the New 
Testament except ten of the Epistles of Paul; accept- 
ing the Pauline Gospel and the chief Pauline Epistles 
simply because they represent the gospel as it was 
preached to the Gentiles and possibly what we may call 
the Gentile element in the church. By this, Marcion 
indicates very clearly how close the relationship was 
between Luke and the apostle Paul ; and yet I suppose 
we are not to imagine, for a moment, that the rela- 
tionship was one of simple dictation. There was just 
as much independence in the construction of Luke's 
Gospel as we have seen to have existed in the case of 
the construction of the Gospel according to Matthew 
and the Gospel according to Mark. 

All that I have said up to this point has been in- 
tended simply to prepare the way for a presentation 
of the general character of the Gospel according to 
Luke. You can see at once that in its author (not a 
Jew, but a proselyte from the Gentiles, a Gentile Chris- 
tian), in the furnisher of its material (Paul the apostle 
to the Gentiles), the Gospel according to Luke occu- 
pies a wider horizon, it has a larger aim than either 


of the Gospels that have preceded. If you can call 
the Gospel according to Matthew a Gospel written for 
Jewish Christians, then you may call the Gospel ac- 
cording to Luke written for Gentile Christians. If you 
can call the Gospel according to Mark the Gospel 
written for the Romans, then you can call the Gospel 
according to Luke the Gospel written for the Greeks; 
and as Greek was at that time the literary language of 
the whole Roman Empire, and as men wrote Greek in 
Rome as well as in Athens, this Gospel according to 
Luke, in some respects, was better adapted to univer- 
sal and rapid circulation than either of the others. 

This breadth, this application to universal humanity 
is the characteristic of Luke. There is no Jewish 
exclusiveness in Luke; nothing, for example, like the 
confining of the lineage of Jesus to the seed of David 
and the seed of Abraham. The genealogy in Luke 
takes us back to Adam, the father of the race ; " the 
Son of man " is set before us here. It is Christ in his 
largest human relations. We have his connection with 
humanity continually brought before us in the ac- 
count of his birth and his growth in wisdom and in 
stature, as well as in favor of God and man. You find 
that this humanity of Jesus, the fact that he was a man 
like all of us, is the dominant thought of the Gospel. 
Luke brings into view the universal human relations of 
our Lord. If the Gospel according to John presents 
to us the divine side of the Saviour's person, the Gospel 
according to Luke presents to us the human side of our 
Saviour's person; and so we find that, in Luke, we 
have the gospel history linked in, more than any other 
Gospel links it in, with the events of profane history. 


It is Luke, and none of the other Evangelists, that 
gives us chronological data which enable us to fix 
the time at which various events occurred, gives us 
the names of the different rulers of the surrounding 
states, and so enables us to fit this history into what 
we know of profane history outside; and then there 
are many things with regard to the humanity of Christ 
which are brought very beautifully into view in this 
Gospel, which we find nowhere else ; such, for example, 
as that remarkable incident, the only incident that is 
related to us during the whole of the thirty years of 
Christ's life. At the age of twelve years he goes up 
to the temple, and there is found by his parents listen- 
ing to the doctors of the law, asking them questions 
and giving them answers. That incident, which seems 
to mark the point of time where Jesus first became 
conscious of the fact that he was the Sent of God, the 
Son of God, is related to us by Luke only. 

We have only from Luke the information that, 
after the temptation, Satan departed from him for a 
season; in other words, that there was an interval 
before Satan came back again with power to tempt him 
in the garden. 

It is only Luke who tells us of the miraculous 
draught of fishes which accompanied the calling of the 
disciples. It is only Luke that tells us about the first 
missionary journey of the Seventy. Luke's miracles 
are miracles in which our Saviour appears as the 
Great Physician, as the Healer of lost and diseased 
humanity. The miracle wrought for the ten lepers is 
told us only by Luke ; it is Luke only who speaks of the 
conversations of Christ with Moses and Elias at the 


transfiguration. It is only Luke who tells us of Christ's 
weeping over Jerusalem. It is only Luke who tells us 
of the healing of Malchus' ear by the Saviour in the 
garden. It is only Luke who records for us our Sa- 
viour's prayer as his enemies nailed him to the cross, 
" Father, forgive them, for they know not what they 
do." It is only Luke that tells us of the promise to 
the repentant thief, " This day shalt thou be with me 
in paradise." Luke alone tells us that, after the cru- 
cifixion had taken place and the Saviour had breathed 
his last, the multitudes present returned to Jerusalem, 
beating their breasts. These things draw us near to 
Christ; they identify Christ with our common hu- 
manity ; they appeal to our sympathy. There is pathos 
in them, because we see in them evidence that Christ 
is really one of us, a man like ourselves. 

The discourses of Christ are intended, all of them, 
to produce this same impression upon us. It is only 
Luke who tells us about that first discourse in Naza- 
reth, his early home, where Christ offers his gospel 
first of all to his own townspeople, and especially makes 
his preaching there the fulfilment of Isaiah's promise 
that the gospel should be preached to all those in suf- 
fering and sorrow. It is only Luke who tells us of 
the parable of the Importunate Widow, and the cer- 
tainty that the Judge on high will answer our prayers, 
as the unjust judge answered that widow's prayers. 
Only Luke gives us the parable of the Unrighteous 
Steward, the parable of the Ten Pounds, of the Fig 
Tree upon which so much care is bestowed and to 
which so much grace is shown before it is finally cut 
down and burned up. Luke alone tells us of the 


parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus ; and finally and 
above all, it is only Luke that gives us that trinity of 
parables : the Lost Sheep, the Lost Piece of Money, and 
the Prodigal Son ; that parable that perhaps more than 
any other of all the Gospels opens to us the fatherly, 
human love of the heart of God. The parable of the 
Prodigal Son is given to us only in the Gospel of 

How much we owe to Luke's Gospel, the Gospel of 
the humanity of our Lord, the Gospel that brings us 
close to the sympathizing Saviour, one who is touched 
with the feeling of our infirmities ! 

Luke is the Evangelist who tells about our Saviour's 
praying. Run through the Gospel of Luke and you 
will see that it puts our Saviour in the attitude of a 
human suppliant as no other Gospel does. At Jesus' 
baptism God parts the heavens and descends like a 
dove on the Saviour, as the answer to his prayer. 
Christ prays all night long before he calls his twelve 
apostles. Christ prays on the Mount of Transfigura- 
tion; and it is after his prayer that the glory of God 
overshadows him and he appears as the bearer, so to 
speak, of the Shekinah; and then it is in the garden, 
where Christ is praying, in Gethsemane, as Luke, and 
Luke only, states, that the sweat flows from his body 
in great drops of blood, in the agony of his supplica- 
tion. All these things bring us close to Christ as a 
human Redeemer and sympathizing Saviour; and so 
Luke gives us not only the Gospel of humanity, so far 
as Christ and the representation of his person are 
concerned, but he also gives us the Gospel that, in 
some respects, is best adapted to meet all men upon 


their own level and commend itself to all who are 

There was an old tradition that Luke was a painter. 
I have seen many pictures in European galleries in 
which Luke is represented as painting pictures of our 
Lord, of Mary the Virgin, or of the various apostles, 
or where the picture itself is attributed to Luke. There 
are such pictures still among the relics of the Roman 
Catholic churches abroad. This tradition has an ex- 
ceedingly slight foundation. We have no reliable 
authority for supposing that Luke was an actual 
painter upon canvas. Probably some other painter of 
later time, whose name was similar, was confounded 
with Luke the Evangelist; and so this tradition grew 
up. Although Luke was not a painter upon canvas, 
he was a painter with his pen, and no other Evangelist 
has given us so clear and so beautiful a picture of the 
human Christ as Luke. No other Evangelist has told 
us so much about the Virgin Mary as Luke has told us. 

It is a very remarkable fact that, although Luke is 
the most classical of the New Testament writers when 
he is using his own style, when he is telling the things 
he has observed one might say that the preface to his 
Gospel is most nearly like classical Greek of any por- 
tion of equal extent we have in the New Testament- 
yet when he comes to the second and third chapters 
of his own Gospel, and is using Hebrew documents 
which have come into his possession, he follows them 
word for word, and they are so Hebraistic in their 
style that you might almost think they had been written 
by the Evangelist Matthew. The spirit of faithful- 
ness to his material leads him to give over any attempt 


to manipulate what comes to his hands. He gives it 
to us just as it came to him; so the Gospel according 
to Luke shows throughout the spirit of faithfulness to 
the truth, combined with a great deal of what you 
might call human interest, breadth of view, and love 
for humanity at large. To Luke Christ is the Light 
to enlighten the Gentiles, and all men are the objects 
of his saving and redeeming work. When Luke comes 
to paint the various apostles, he paints them with a 
human interest that is very well worthy of a master 
in the art. 

Luke was not, then, a painter upon canvas, but he 
was a painter with his pen; and of all the pictures in 
the four Gospels that are given us of the life and work 
of Christ, there is not one that we should value more 
highly, that we should study more closely, from which 
we can get more benefit in our daily, spiritual life than 
we can from this Gospel according to Luke. 

We have next Sunday the contrast to all this. I 
trust that a review of these four Gospels will bring to 
our minds what perhaps has never been brought be- 
fore us so clearly before, the great variety that exists 
in these various pictures of the life and work of 
Christ; and the last of them, the Gospel according to 
John, the Gospel of the divinity, as this one to-day is 
the Gospel of the humanity, is in many respects the 
most sublime and most wonderful of them all. 


THERE were two brothers in the apostolic age, one of 
whom was the first martyr for the faith, and the other 
of whom lived on to the very end of the first century 
and died the very last of the apostles. Those two 
brothers were James and John. John and James were 
the sons of Zebedee. Zebedee was a fisherman of Beth- 
saida, in Galilee, a man well-to-do, apparently; for we 
are told that he had hired servants. Salome, his wife, 
perhaps after the death of her husband, was one of 
those women who followed Jesus in his preaching 
tours through Palestine and ministered to him of her 

John was known to the high priest, and it was he 
who afterward took care of our Lord's mother, accord- 
ing to his commands, until her death, as tradition re- 
lates; all of which is more easy to understand if we 
suppose that he was a man of some means, and more 
intelligible still if the tradition be true that Salome, 
his mother, was a sister of Mary the Virgin. In fact, 
John may have lived and studied in Jerusalem at the 
school of the rabbins long before his discipleship began. 
But we read of him first in connection with Andrew 
at the Jordan, where the Baptist is -preaching. The 
great preacher of reformation points to Jesus, the Lamb 
of God, his Lord and theirs, and they all leave the 
Baptist and follow the Saviour. 

It appears that John and James were admitted into 


an intimacy with Christ enjoyed by no other of the 
apostles except Peter. These three we find in the inner 
chamber where the ruler's daughter lies dead, present 
at that wonderful exhibition of power in her resurrec- 
tion to life ; we find them on the Mount of Transfigura- 
tion, beholding the glory of Christ ; we find them with 
our Saviour in Gethsemane, in the depths of his suffer- 
ing; and Peter and John were among the very first 
witnesses of our Saviour's resurrection. At the time 
that our Lord was apprehended in Gethsemane, John, 
with the other disciples, forsook him and fled; but 
he seems to have overcome his fears and to have made 
his way courageously to the judgment-hall. He was 
present during the trial of Christ; he was present 
during the crucifixion; there he received the Lord's 
command to take charge of his mother. He became 
from that time the adopted son of the Virgin, and he 
cared for her until her death. 

Until the close of the narrative in the Gospels, and 
in the Acts as well, we find John always in company 
with Peter. He was at Jerusalem, as Paul tells us, at 
the close of his narrative, and was one of those who 
gave right hands of fellowship to the Gentiles; and, 
remaining in Jerusalem for twenty or twenty-five years 
after the death of Christ, he was engaged in minister- 
ing to the Jews or the Jewish Christians. When the 
apostle Paul ceased his labors and Peter had suffered 
martyrdom, the great church at Ephesus and the other 
churches in Asia Minor needed apostolic supervision; 
and then, in the prospect of the destruction of Jerusa- 
lem, John left Palestine, went to Ephesus, and there 
remained until his death, which took place probably at 


the very end of the century. It was 98 or 99, perhaps 
100, before the apostle John died. 

There was one interval, an interval of persecution, 
an interval of exile under Nero, about the year 67 or 
68, when John the apostle was banished to Patmos, a 
wretched rock in the ^Egean Sea, and there the Apoca- 
lypse was written and sent to the seven churches of 
Asia Minor ; but with that single exception, John was a 
resident of Ephesus until he died. 

The personal characteristics of the apostle John are 
exceedingly striking; and it is impossible to under- 
stand the Gospel unless we know something about the 
man. John had two remarkable characteristics. In 

^^ i 

the first place, he was a man ofjntuitive perception. 
He was not a man of logic. It has frequently been 
said that John never argues, he always affirms. John 
has all the natural predisposition of a, jseer. One 
might say he was a born prophet, as far as man can 
be born a prophet. By his natural temperament and 
organization he was fitted for the work of prophesying. 
The eagle, among the cherubic figures, has always been 
assigned to John as his proper symbol, the eagle that 
can gaze undazed upon the brightness of the sun, that 
can soar aloft higher than any other winged creature, 
and from that height can see the fish in the very depths 
of the sea. That was the description of John given 
by the church Fathers, and there is something very 
characteristic, striking, and correct in it all. John was 
a man of intuitive discernment, but he was a man of 
deep and ardent affections. That was the second char- 
acteristic. A man of fiery mind, a man of fiery zeal, 
great warmth, and fervor of temperament, he joined 


to some of the very highest intellectual qualifications, 
the faculties of insight and of spiritual perception, the 
deepest and most ardent love. He was one who from 
his nature and fervid temperament was in danger of 
being biased. This warmth and ardor, if it is undisci- 
plined and untrained, may make a man a mere parti- 
san ; and this warm temperament, these strong impulses, 
had to be checked and disciplined. You remember that 
when John and James were commissioned by Christ to 
precede him, as he was going to Jerusalem, and the 
Samaritans refused him a night's lodging, John and 
James thought it was quite a proper time for our Sa- 
viour to do as Elijah had done before him, and they 
asked, " Lord, shall we call down fire from heaven upon 
them ? " It indicated the fiery indignation of these 
two men. 

Some years ago I asked my child how she knew the 
apostle John in the pictures. " Oh," she said, ' I 
always know John because he has long hair and looks 
like a woman." I suppose that idea of the apostle 
John is very prevalent in the church. John is thought 
to be the disciple of love, and often love is thought to 
be weakness. How very different from that is the 
truth ! Why, John and James were Boanerges, " sons 
of thunder." They were full of hot indignation against 
wrong. No weakness there. But that hot indignation 
was subdued, that warmth of temperament was disci- 
plined by the rebukes of Christ and by the sorrows 
through which they passed, until at last John became 
the disciple of love. John in his last days was con- 
tinually repeating, as the tradition relates, " Little chil- 
dren, love one another." Love is the solvent of all 


difficulties. Love, and all other things shall be added 
to it. 

It is said of Charles II that he was a man utterly 
incapable of gratitude for benefits received, and utterly 
incapable of indignation for wrongs done him. The 
only emotion of which he seemed to be capable was the 
emotion of contempt. An absolute incapacity for in- 
dignation against moral evil was his chief character- 
istic. There is no feature of human character that so 
indicates absolute worthlessness in the sight of God as 
the incapacity to hate that which is wrong. And why ? 
Because hatred of wrong is the necessary correlative 
of love for the right. Do not tell me that a man loves 
virtue and purity, in whom a deed of shameful impurity 
and injustice awakens no moral revulsion. Now the 
depth and strength of John's love showed itself in his 
power to hate that which was evil ; and, therefore, you 
will find that in John's Gospel and in John's Epistles, 
combined with this deep, this earnest affection, there 
is at the same time a power of moral indignation. f Ye 
that love the Lord hate evil." " Be ye angry," that is 
the command of God, " and sin not!" Let not per- 
sonal, private, passionate feeling mingle with your 
anger; but calm and judicial indignation against moral 
evil is absolutely inseparable from a true Christian 

Here, then, were the two great characteristics of 
John the apostle. He was first, a man of marvelous 
intuitive insight; and then secondly, that vast intel- 
lectual endowment was balanced and interfused in 
every part with a depth and fervor of Christian love; 
and it was intellectual power, enlightened and made 


energetic by love, that made John capable of recogni- 
zing the wonderful truths that he, better than any other 
of the apostles, has proclaimed to us. It was this in- 
tellectual insight, lit up by deep Christian feeling, that 
enabled him to comprehend, as none other of the 
apostles did comprehend, the greatness and glory of 
the person of Jesus, the incarnate Word of God; and 
then it was this intellectual power, lit up by deep feel- 
ing, which enabled him, better than any other of the 
apostles, to understand that union between Christ and 
the Father, and that union between Christ and the 
believer, of which we should know so much less if we 
did not have the Gospel according to John. 

John the apostle was the author of the Gospel. I do 
not need to go through a process of proof, although 
this is a question very much disputed in later times. 
There is argument which to my mind is absolutely con- 
vincing, and which to any candid mind ought to carry 
most perfect conviction. The author of that Gospel 
was certainly a Jew; the author of that Gospel was a 
Jew familiar with Palestine; the author of that Gos- 
pel was one of the apostles, because he tells of dis- 
cussions in the narrowest of the apostolic circles, and 
of secret retreats of the apostles, as only an apostle 
could do. He was not only an apostle, but he was one 
of the sons of Zebedee. It is very curious that where 
the names of the apostles are mentioned in order, the 
order is not the same as that given in the first three 
Gospels. There John and James are mentioned first. 
When John in his Gospel comes to mention their 
names, the sons of Zebedee come always last. The 
modesty of the apostle is in itself a signature to the 


Gospel. Though he never mentions his own name, and 
only speaks of himself now and then as the disciple 
whom Jesus loved, it is very evident that he, and he 
only, is the author of the fourth Gospel. We have in 
the Gospel itself direct declarations that this is the 
apostle who has seen and witnessed these things. 

Then we have the testimony of the church Fathers, 
which I need not narrate to you, although there is a 
great abundance. Papias, one of the earliest of them, 
says that John, who leaned upon the Saviour's breast, 
when in Ephesus wrote the Gospel which bears his 
name ; and the Gnostics of the second century not only 
knew of the Gospel, but recognized the fact of its 
genuineness; although at the same time they did not 
accept many of its declarations. All this external 
evidence, however, would not be so convincing if we 
were not able to remove two objections which have 
been made to the genuineness of the Gospel. It is 
said, for example, that it is impossible the author of 
the Gospel should be the same person who wrote the 
Apocalypse, for the Apocalypse is written in a very 
different style. The Apocalypse shows a very imper- 
fect knowledge of the Greek language, unfamiliarity 
with the laws of Greek composition, and the spirit of 
the Apocalypse is very decidedly different from the 
spirit of the Gospel. My answer to this is that up to 
about the year 60, or 65 perhaps, John lived in Pales- 
tine, and John was a Hebrew of the Hebrews. It has 
been said that he put the Hebrew soul into the Greek 
language. He probably was accustomed from his 
youth to the use of the Aramaic. Greek was not his 
mother tongue, nor did he in Palestine constantly use 


Greek. He goes to Ephesus. There, or immediately 
after, at Patmos, the Apocalypse is written written 
at the time when he is more familiar with Hebrew 
than he is with Greek. Hebrew constructions appear 
in the Apocalypse. There are infelicities, not to say 
inaccuracies, of grammar. One of the Greek preposi- 
tions that is naturally followed by the genitive is 
actually followed by the nominative in the Greek which 
John writes. Yet, at the same time, you find that this 
energetic, fiery spirit which the Gospels would lead us 
to attribute to John, is precisely the spirit of the Apoca- 
lypse, written just before the destruction of Jerusalem, 
and in view of the coming doom of the holy city. Its 
predictions and prophecies of coming wrath are pre- 
cisely the production which we should expect from 
John's mind at that particular time. Thirty years pass 
away. Jerusalem has fallen. There is no longer any 
prophecy of this sort to utter. During that time John 
is softened ; age has come upon him ; he has become a 
gentle and loving old man ; and, as the tradition which 
attributes to him this constant inculcation of the duty 
of love is probably a true one, it is very natural to sup- 
pose that thirty years after, when he writes the Gospel, 
his style should differ from his early style in these two 
particulars. In the first place, Greek has now become 
to him his mother tongue, as it were ; Greek is now as 
familiar as Hebrew was before. A man's style changes 
very much in the course of years. 

If I were to say that because the editorials of George 
William Curtis, in " Harper's Weekly," were so solid, 
so calm, so statesmanlike, he could not possibly have 
written that fervid, eloquent, and poetic style that I 


found in the " Potiphar Papers " so many years ago, I 
should simply show that I did not know the possibili- 
ties of change in one's literary style during the long 
course of a human life. Just so, if I should say, be- 
cause John in the Gospel writes a smooth, flowing, 
correct Greek style, he could not have written the 
Apocalypse, I should show an equal ignorance of the 
laws of human nature. 

The Gospel, therefore, was written far away from 
Palestine, at a time that was remote from the events 
which were recorded. It was written out of John's 
memory, but yet it was written uhder the guidance 
and inspiration of that Spirit which was promised to 
bring all things to remembrance, and which enabled 
John not only to recall what Jesus had uttered, even 
when Jesus' discourses were long, but also gave John 
an insight into the meaning of Jesus' words. And this 
suggests the second objection which is urged against 
John's authorship. It is said that these long discourses 
attributed to Jesus are not only beyond the power of 
human memory to reproduce, but are manifestly the 
work of some later author who mixes his own words 
with those of our Lord, so that there is no telling where 
the words of Jesus end and the words of the Evangelist 
begin. We must concede that there is a problem here. 
But the key is in our hands if we remember Jesus' 
promise of the Holy Spirit There was a natural 
preparation of the apostle for his work.. He had been 
trained in the synagogue and possibly in the rabbinic 
schools. He had been accustomed to memorize and to 
repeat the Scriptures. Doctor Bruce maintained that 
the apostles could all of them reproduce the whole Old 


Testament from memory. John's insight and affection 
made the retention and recall of Jesus' words the joy 
and comfort of his life. His preaching made this re- 
production more and more clear and effective. Little 
by little the non-essential was purged away, till only 
the substantial remained. And the living Spirit of 
Jesus was with his apostle, according to Jesus' promise, 
correcting, explaining, and even, when necessary, add- 
ing to the material in John's mind, so that his Gospel 
is a truthful representation of Jesus' own mind and 
heart. If he adds to what our Lord originally spoke, 
he does this under the inspiration and authority of 
Christ himself, and in his Gospel we have our Lord 
himself speaking to us. 

Remember that John writes long after the Synoptists. 
You find, therefore, that there is absolutely no refer- 
ence to the destruction of Jerusalem, for all this had 
taken place already. You find that the apostle writes 
of things in Palestine, as if he were in the midst of 
people who knew but little of Palestine. You find 
that, when he speaks of the feasts, he does not speak 
of the feasts as a Hebrew would, but calls them the 
" feasts of the Jews " ; and you find that, when he 
uses the word "rabbi," he must needs interpret: "it 
being interpreted, is teacher." When he uses the word 
:t Messiah," he says, " it being interpreted, is Christ " ; 
and when he comes to speak of the Samaritans, he must 
say, " the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans." 
All this would be unnecessary unless he were far away 
from Palestine, and were writing to people to whom 
these things were unfamiliar. Then it is also the fact 
that the writer seems to be acquainted with the synoptic 


Gospels; otherwise I think it is inexplicable how he, 
of all men, should omit any account of the transfigura- 
tion, as he does; and it is also curious that John, when 
he makes allusion to certain of the events which are 
mentioned by the Synoptists, should do so with the 
addition of new material, should put the evidence in 
a new light, should put them to a new use; which 
evidently shows that he has his own purpose and 
object in thus referring to them. The miracle of the 
five thousand, for example, which appears in the Synop- 
tists, is given us in detail by John; but you find that 
the object with John is just the object that he has in 
his relation of other miracles, namely, to speak of 
them as signs or symbols of great truths. The multi- 
plying of the bread was not detailed simply in order 
that we might get before us the power of Jesus, but in 
order that Christ might be presented to us as the Bread 
of Life, the Bread that cometh down from heaven. 
The opening of the eyes of the blind is related simply 
because John wished to set before us the power of 
Christ to open our spiritual eyes. 

In John's Gospel all the miracles are followed by 
discourses, and the miracles are only the text of the 
discourses. The miracles are not related for them- 
selves only, but for the sake of the truths that they 
teach. If it were not for John we would not have the 
opening of the eyes of the blind made to illustrate the 
opening of the eyes of the spiritually blind, and the rais- 
ing of the dead made to illustrate the raising of those 
who are dead in trespasses and sins. 

John relates six miracles, and five of them are 
wholly new ; only one, the feeding of the five thousand, 

being given to us by the Synoptists. We have an 
omission of all the parables that are given us in Mat- 
thew, Mark, and Luke ; an omission of the Sermon on 
the Mount, and an omission of the last prophecies in 
regard to the destruction of Jerusalem ; in fact, .two- 
thirds of John's Gospel is wholly new. So we see that 
the Gospel of John adds a large mass of new material 
to what had been given us before by Matthew, Mark, 
and Luke. It is written, therefore, as a sort of, sup- 
plement to these Gospels, and with full knowledge 
that they already existed. Yet, why was this Gospel 
written? I have not yet touched upon what is really 
the main object of my remarks to-day; for unless we 
get clearly before us the central idea of the Gospel 
according to John, we shall not get the instruction from 
it that we should. John represents Christ, then, as the 
Incarnate Word of God, God manifest in the flesh, 
the Life and the Light of men. It is the aim of John 
to set before us the spiritual and divine side of Christ, 
as the Synoptists had set before us the human side of 

Eusebius, one of the church Fathers, says that the 
three Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke have 
given us the body of the truth ; and the elders of Ephe- 
sus urged John to write a spiritual Gospel: i. e., a 
Gospel which should put into that body the spirit 
which John knew so much more than the rest. Says 
Cicero : " The eye sees only that which it brings with 
it, the power of seeing." John, with his intuitive in- 
sight and fervent love, saw the divine side of Christ, 
as Plato saw the loftier aspects of Socrates' character, 
while Xenophon did not. John represents Christ to 


us, then, as the Word of God, who was in the begin- 
ning with God and who was God, who is the Revealer 
of God to man, the Creator of all things, not simply a 
human messenger, but the very Truth of God, and the 
King of Truth. 

It is the aim of John, by this revelation, to raise up 
all Christian life to a new level, to lead all Christians 
to live their lives in union with Christ, the Son of 
God. The expression which we have in Paul's Epis- 
tle, " The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by 
the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave 
himself for me," is only an expression of the doctrine 
that you find more fully brought out in the Gospel 
according to John. 

The plan of this Gospel corresponds perfectly to 
its object. We have, first of all, a prologue in which, 
so to speak, the subject is set forth and enlarged upon. 
' The Word of God who was in the beginning with 
God and was God," that Word of God becomes human 
flesh and enters into our human life, and lives the 
life of our God before us. There are two parallel re- 
sults or effects within the limits of humanity. One 
of these effects is upon the unregenerate and unbe- 
lieving; and you have a continual growth of unbelief 
in this Son of God, who has come from above to en- 
lighten men, and you have various types of unbelief. 
You have the enmity of the high priests and the Phari- 
sees, you have the weakness and cowa'rdice of Pilate, 
the governor, and you have the despicable treachery of 
Judas. This unbelief is continually growing, and the 
signs of this growth are continuous, as you read the 
narrative from the beginning to the end, until at last 


it culminates in hatefulness and enmity, and the result 
is the crucifixion of the Son of God. In other words, 
unbelief in its enmity to Christ rises up and puts the 
Son of God out of the world. 

But, on the other hand, side by side with this, 
there is a growth in faith in a parallel line to the de- 
struction of faith, as the result of this manifestation 
of the Son of God. You have .faith beginning in weak- 
ness, and then growing from strong to stronger until, 
at last, it is capable of overcoming the world. You 
have types of faith. You have those types, first, in 
Nathanael, a man without guile. A type of faith in 
Nicodemus, inward faith which, after all, was not 
strong enough to make him willing to confess the name 
of Christ. A type of faith in Andrew, an open- 
hearted and unthinking faith. A type of faith in 
Philip, always willing and wanting to bring men to 
Jesus. Then you have the type of faith which you 
find in the woman of Samaria; and then, finally, you 
have the culminating type of faith in Thomas, when 
that naturally most unbelieving of all the apostles be- 
comes so affected by this transcendent manifestation of 
the Son of God that all his doubts are removed, and 
at last he is brought to bow down at the Saviour's 
feet and to cry, " My Lord and my God." When this 
last triumph of faith is reached, and the hardest of 
the apostles to reach is brought into absolute submis- 
sion to Jesus as his very God, then the Gospel ends. 
Then the thesis has been proved, and that final con- 
fession of Christ is followed by the natural conclusion 
of the Gospel. These things are told in order that 
we might know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of 


God, and believing we might have life in his name. 
So the Gospel properly ends with the twentieth 

The twenty-first chapter is nothing but an epilogue, 
subsequently added by John himself, added for a par- 
ticular purpose, because there grew up in the church at 
that time the idea that the promise of Christ to John 
meant that he should never die; and John, himself, in 
his very last days appears to have added that chapter 
with an account of the circumstances under which that 
saying was made to him by Christ, and an interpreta- 
tion of the meaning of it; so that the Gospel accord- 
ing to John properly ends with the twentieth chapter, 
with a confession on the part of Thomas that Jesus 
is his Lord. 

So there are evidences of structure in the Gospel 
which are very striking, and which will make the 
reading more interesting to us if we will notice them 
as we read. 

Notice now the relation of this Gospel to the synoptic 
Gospels. The Gospel according to John is the Gospel 
of the spirit, while the synoptic Gospels give us the 
gospel of the facts. In it we have revealed to us the 
heart of Jesus, as it is not revealed in the synoptic 
Gospels. This Gospel gives us the spiritual side of 
our Lord, while the synoptic Gospels give us the 
earthly side. 

There is a relation of this Gospel to the Apocalypse. 
It is the spiritual interpretation of the book of Reve- 
lation. John's declarations in the Gospel with regard 
to Christ's person and work were the result of long 
preaching and long contemplation on the part of the 


beloved apostle, who lived longer than the other 
apostles, at the end of the century, and who quite 
outgrew the fire and fury of his earlier writing in 
the Apocalypse. 

Then there is a relation of this Gospel to the Epistles 
of John. The Epistles of John are running comments 
upon the same great facts, a subsequent addition prob- 
ably to the Gospel itself, the Gospel beginning with the 
Son of God in heaven, and showing us that this Word 
had become embodied in humanity, and, on the other 
hand, the Epistles going through the reverse process, 
and showing that this Jesus whom they had handled 
and whom they had seen with their eyes here upon the 
earth was absolutely the Son of God, who came down 
from heaven. 

So there is evidence, not only of an internal unity 
in the Gospel itself, but of an organic relation of the 
Gospel with John's other writings, in the providence of 
God and under the direction of his Spirit, which shows 
it to be a part of the whole system of truth given us in 
the New Testament. 

There are many things which John gives us in this 
Gospel, but which are not given to us elsewhere. For 
example, we have an account of the Judean ministry, 
which hardly comes to us at all in the synoptic Gospels. 
The scene of John is mainly laid in Judea, whereas the 
scene of the synoptic Gospels is mainly laid in Galilee. 
We have here very much more to do with the scribes 
and Pharisees, high priests, and rulers of the people 
than we have in the synoptic Gospels. Then, more- 
over, we have here two great miracles, the two great- 
est, the first and the last : the miracle performed at the 



wedding-feast of Cana, and the last and most wonder- 
ful of Christ's miracles, the raising of Lazarus from 
the dead. These are given us only by John. 

We have not given to us here at all the Sermon on 
the Mount, and yet we have in place of that Sermon 
on the Mount the next longest discourse of Christ, that 
last profound discourse to his disciples upon the very 
eve of his suffering. This has been called the " holy of 
holies " of the book of God. How much we should lose 
if we had not these chapters in which Jesus tells us: 
" Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, 
believe also in me." If there be any portion of Scrip- 
ture that brings us near to Christ himself and lets us 
into the very secrets of the divine nature, it is these 
last chapters of John's Gospel. We have not these 
discourses anywhere else. We owe them entirely to 

Now notice that John deals very little with the out- 
ward. John does not tell us anything about baptism, 
or the command to be baptized; but John does tell us 
the meaning of baptism in the discourse with Nicode- 
mus : " Except a man be born of water and of the 
Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God " the neces- 
sity of an inward birth that is symbolized outwardly 
by baptism. John does not tell us anything about the 
Lord's Supper and its institution; but he does tell us 
of that profound discourse which sets forth the central 
truth which the Lord's Supper symbolizes. 

John does not tell us anything with regard to the 
external organization of the Christian church, but 
he tells us most about that union of the believer with 
Christ which is the basis of the Christian church. 


Unless a man knows something of that union of the 
believer with his Saviour, he cannot be a Christian nor 
has he any right to a place in the Christian church. 
It is, then, the vital truth itself, the central thing itself, 
that John with his clear insight sets forth to us in the 
most glowing way. Mark, you remember, begins his 
story with the public ministry of Christ; Matthew and 
Luke begin with the birth of the Saviour; but John 
alone begins with the Eternal Word with the Father 
before the world was. 

The style of John corresponds perfectly to the mat- 
ter that he has to set forth. It is distinguished by 
wonderful fulness, but, at the same time, by wonderful 
depth. It is profound, yet simple. It is astonishing 
how few words John uses, and how constantly repeated 
those words are life and death, light and darkness, 
God and Satan. All these words come over and over 
and over again. 

These words are rich words. They are full of mean- 
ing. They are like the gold coins which only the great 
lord keeps about him, and with which he makes his 
payments. It is the Gospel of holy love and peace. 
There is a contemplative, quiet, calm spirit running 
through it all, a spirit that is not of this world. 

I have often thought that the skeptic, if he would 
but read this Gospel according to John, and ponder it 
as he should, would find in it a sufficient evidence of 
the truth of Christianity. Christ is set forth here in 
such a way that a man cannot mistake the dignity and 
glory of the representation, if he be a man who has 
any sense of his personal needs, if he knows himself 
at all to be a sinner. 



It has been said that " poetry is the art of putting 
infinity into things." To show the relation of our 
life to the infinite is the aim of poetry. Judged by 
that standard, this Gospel according to John is the 
greatest poem that was ever written, the greatest com- 
position of any sort, indeed, that was ever written upon 
this earth. If there were one single book of the Bible 
which I could retain, providing all the rest were taken 
from me, it is this Gospel according to John, for this 
sets before me my Lord and my Saviour as no other 
Gospel does. 

Yet such a man as John Stuart Mill read this Gos- 
pel and called it unintelligible and insipid. May God 
forgive him! An unregenerate heart and self-compla- 
cent soul may read the Gospel of John, and it will 
seem like a mystic tale, with little sense or meaning; 
but for the man who knows himself to be a sinner, 
above all, the man who has had any sense whatever of 
his dependence upon Christ, for such a man this Gos- 
pel is the very word of Christ himself, and it makes 
Christ manifest in his beauty and glory. 

The work of a forger? Such a production as this, 
written by one who pretended to be a disciple of Christ 
in the second century, for merely political purposes? 
It is as absurd as. to tell me that Beelzebub has been 
casting out devils for these eighteen hundred years. 
This Gospel according to John has cast out too many 
evil spirits to permit us to attribute it to a forger. It 
can have its authorship only in a heart that was filled 
with Christ himself, only in a heart that was drawn 
near to the living God by the mighty inspiration of his 



I PRESENT in this lecture an orthodox essay in the 
higher criticism. It is an attempt to show from internal 
evidence the relation between the Gospel of Luke and 
the Gospel of John. It is not wholly original. In the 
year 1900, Doctor Giimbel, gymnasial professor and 
consistorialrath at Speyer on the Rhine, gave to the 
world an exegetical study which he entitled " John's 
Gospel a Complement of Luke's Gospel." The word 
" complement," however, does not fully represent the 
German word Erganzung. The author means that the 
third and the fourth Gospels constitute one whole ; that 
John composed his Gospel with Luke's Gospel before 
him; that his own work is intended as a supplement and 
not as an independent account of Jesus' life and teach- 
ing; that he therefore limits himself to filling up the 
gaps in Luke's narrative, omitting everything which 
Luke had narrated, except in those cases where his 
own eye-witness and ear-witness enable him to add 
useful interpretation or detail. 

It must be acknowledged that the reasoning of this 
little German book, if it be sound, will do much to settle 
the disputed questions as to the date and the author- 
ship of the fourth Gospel, and to place on an impreg- 
nable basis the historicity and trustworthiness of the 
other Gospel narratives. When the halves of a broken 
jar are dug out of the ground at Mycenae or Gnossos, 



and are found to fit each other so that every indentation 
of the one corresponds to a protuberance of the other, 
there is double reason to deduce from its shape and 
epigraphy the facts of its history. Our author con- 
tends that John's Gospel and Luke's Gospel fit into 
each other like two dove-tailed parts of a bureau 
drawer, or like the interlaced fingers of our two hands. 
The later is constructed to complete the earlier, but 
to add only those matters of personal observation and 
experience which are needed to make the twofold his- 
tory a perfect whole. This demonstration, if it be 
well grounded, will relieve John's Gospel from the 
charge that it is merely a philosophical speculation of 
the second century, and will give to the higher aspects 
of Jesus' life the value of settled history. I regard 
the work of Professor Gumbel as an important contri- 
bution to theological science, and I am glad in this 
essay to call attention to it. But I must not take his 
conclusions for granted at the start. Let me proceed 
to the proof. 

The apostle John was born in Galilee. James was 
his elder brother. His father, Zebedee, was a master- 
fisherman who had hired servants and was a man of 
means. John's mother was probably Salome. At 
any rate, she still lived after he had become a disciple. 
She was ambitious, and not content that her sons 
should always follow their trade as fishermen. She 
had still the worldly conception of Jesus' mission, and 
she incited James and John to ask that one of them 
may sit at Christ's right hand and the other on his left 
in his future kingdom. The annual visits to Jerusa- 
lem at the time of the feasts gave opportunity to the 


sons to become acquainted with the localities of the 
sacred city. It is not therefore wonderful that this 
child of well-to-do parents shows minute knowledge 
of Bethesda, the Pool of Siloam, Solomon's Porch, the 
brook Kidron, Gabbatha, Bethany, fifteen furlongs 
from Jerusalem. But the fact that our Saviour on the 
cross commits his mother to John's care, -so that he 
takes her to his own home, indicates that the family 
had a permanent residence in Jerusalem, and that they 
were householders of some consequence. 

The author of the fourth Gospel has an acquaint- 
ance with official and notable persons in Jerusalem, 
more intimate than is shown by the other Evangelists. 
It is John who recognized the representatives of the 
Sanhedrin when they came to ask the credentials of 
the Baptist; it is John who tells us of Christ's conver- 
sation with Nicodemus and of the gift of spices which 
Nicodemus made for Christ's burial ; it is John who is 
the friend of Annas and of Caiaphas, and who has the 
entree to the high priest's house. This last fact of 
John's relation to the high priest throws light upon his 
whole history. That relation could not have been 
formed after John had become Jesus' disciple. It in- 
dicates that before John went to the banks of Jordan 
to hear the Baptist he had lived in Jerusalem and had 
become intimate with its rulers. These connections 
could not have been made by a known follower of 
Jesus, and after Jesus' criticism had made scribes and 
Pharisees his enemies. 

It requires some historical imagination to recon- 
struct our view of those early days. Is it too much to 
suppose that John's ambitious mother, knowing his 


fervid religious spirit, and eager to withdraw him 
from manual toil, had sent him when a mere youth to 
the great rabbinical school at Jerusalem, and had main- 
tained him there ? That was the road to education and 
to station. What happened to Saul of Tarsus might 
easily happen to John. It is quite possible that the 
family of Zebedee was of priestly rank, and that rela- 
tives of theirs held priestly office. Polycrates, the 
Christian Father, bishop of Ephesus in 196, relates 
that John was born a priest, wearing the high-priestly 
miter, and the German writer Delff asserts 1 that this 
word miter, or Tcsralov, indicates that John was of the 
family of the high priest and had actually performed 
high-priestly functions. James is also said to have 
worn the nerahov, or miter. I pay little regard to this 
tradition. But it shows in the early church a belief 
that John's connection with the high priest was some- 
thing more than a mere matter of friendship. The 
young man had some claim upon the elder because of 
family relationship. 

Consider now how much it would mean to an ardent 
and spiritual soul to be sent for education into such 
surroundings. Who were the high priests of that 
day? Not Pharisees, but Sadducees. They were a 
sacerdotal aristocracy, comparatively few in number, 
but comprising most of the able and original thinkers 
of the Jewish nation. It was their sharpness and vigor 
that had given them wealth and political influence. 
They had seized the reins of government, had formed 
alliances with the Romans, had made the high priest- 
hood hereditary in their families. Over against the 

1 Geschichte d. Rabbi Jesus v. Nazareth, 71. 


narrow traditionalism and ceremonialism of the Phari- 
sees they were the speculators, the inquirers, the phi- 
losophers, the skeptics of the day. They did not be- 
lieve in the resurrection, nor in angel or spirit. They 
were rationalists rather than believers, politicians 
rather than rationalists. Free thought could be toler- 
ated among them, so long as it did not imperil their 
standing and their power. Hence it was not until 
Jesus' work was half done that they joined with the 
Pharisees to put him to death. 

It is said that Philo of Alexandria, whose birth 
antedated that of Jesus by twenty years, went on one 
occasion to Jerusalem to offer prayer and sacrifice. It 
is quite possible that on that visit he may have ex- 
changed with the doctors of the law some ideas with 
regard to the mediating principle between God and the 
world. Jerusalem had thirty-two synagogues, and 
each part of the world had its peculiar place of meet- 
ing in this center of Judaism. There was a synagogue 
of the Alexandrians in Jerusalem, and Apollos, Paul's 
convert, was an Alexandrian by race. The Alexan- 
drian doctrine of the Logos must have been known 
and discussed in the Jewish schools, and here the warm- 
hearted and receptive John may have gotten his first 
acquaintance with that great word whose meaning only 
dimly revealed itself to him, but which he found so 
useful after he had seen that the Word had become 
flesh and had dwelt among us. 

If Jesus at the age of twelve was found among the 
doctors of the temple, both hearing them and asking 
them questions, we may believe that the disciples whom 
Jesus loved had a similar experience. And he must 


have found others of like mind. Nicodemus did not 
need to be an old man to be a ruler of the Jews, for it 
was only thirty years that were required for qualifica- 
tion. John must have formed his acquaintance before 
he became Jesus' disciple, and so may have afterward 
introduced him to our Lord, and even have been pres- 
ent when Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. The 
Sadducean indifferentism and abstract speculation 
could not satisfy either of these spiritually inclined 
young men. Nor could the Pharisees, with their in- 
sistence upon outward ceremonial, answer the deep 
demand of their hearts for one who should make 
atonement for sin and give life to the stricken soul. 

When John the Baptist uttered his call to repent- 
ance and proclaimed the near approach of the promised 
Messiah, all Palestine was stirred, and all truly earnest 
Jews were moved, as by a common impulse, to flock 
to John's baptism. That one word, " Behold the Lamb 
of God, who taketh," and so taketh away, " the sin of 
the world," was to John the beginning of a new life. 
Though his modesty leads him to keep back all men- 
tion of his own name, " that other disciple " who was 
with Andrew, was, if not the first, then certainly the 
second of those whom Jesus called to follow him. 
From Jesus John learns his own sinfulness and need 
of redemption, but also Jesus' perfect ability to supply 
that need. So he stays with Jesus and rejoices in him 
as the promised Messiah and Saviour of the world. 

Matthew and Mark add little to our knowledge of 
John's personality, but what they give us confirms the 
view we have taken. John is recognized as belonging 
to the inner circle of the disciples. At the raising of 


Jairus' daughter, at the transfiguration, and in Geth- 
semane, Jesus takes with him John, as well as Peter 
and James. But we have only two utterances of John 
in the synoptic narratives : the one when John forbids 
the man who was casting out demons in Jesus' name 
without following the Lord, and the other when with 
James he would call down fire from heaven upon the 
Samaritans who refuse our Lord a night's lodging. 
Jesus calls the two brothers, James and John, " sons 
of thunder," apparently because of their tropical im- 
pulsiveness and disposition to take Jesus' part against 
every enemy of their Lord. With Peter, after Jesus' 
resurrection and after Pentecost, John goes up to the 
Beautiful Gate of the temple and assists in the cure 
of the lame man; with Peter, he is imprisoned and 
protests against the repressive edict of the Sanhedrin; 
with Peter, he is sent to Samaria to invoke upon the 
new converts the descent of the Holy Spirit. But in 
all these cases Peter appears to be the speaker, and 
John aids only by his counsel and example. And now 
John disappears wholly from the sacred record, and 
we hear of him only from tradition. Let us follow 
Scripture for a little and turn our attention to Luke, 
if perchance we may learn something of the origin of 
his Gospel. 

Eusebius, the church Father, tells us that Luke was 
born in Antioch. The text of Beza, in Acts n : 26, 
reads " when we were assembled/' and makes it pos- 
sible that Luke's acquaintance with Paul began in 
the meetings of the church at Antioch. But it is well- 
nigh certain from the " we " sections of the Acts that 
Luke and Paul were intimately associated from the 


time of Paul's entering Macedonia to the time of his 
second imprisonment at Rome. This association covers 
a period of fourteen years, A. D. 50-64, though for 
seven years of these fourteen Luke was probably left 
by Paul at Philippi as pastor. On his third missionary 
journey Paul takes Luke as his constant companion 
and assistant. From Paul Luke must have learned all 
that Paul knew of Jesus' history, together with Paul's 
interpretation of Jesus' work. Scholars of all schools 
have acknowledged the Paulinism of Luke's Gospel. 
It is nominally addressed to a Greek of distinction, but 
it is evidently intended for the whole Greek-speaking 
world. All Jewish limitations seem in it to be broken 
down. It is the Gospel of universal humanity. Sa- 
maritans and Gentiles are made object-lessons of faith 
and prayer, of benevolence and blessing. Renan called 
Luke's Gospel " the most beautiful book ever written," 
and Harnack says that his story was " the indispensable 
condition of the incorporation of Paul's Epistles in the 
New Testament canon." 

When was Luke's Gospel written? Its date must 
be determined by comparison with that of the Acts. 
But the Acts gives us no account of the trial or of 
the release of the apostle Paul. Inasmuch as Harnack 
has recently acknowledged that the Acts must have 
been written before the close of Paul's first Roman im- 
prisonment, and that the Gospel must be dated yet 
earlier, we may reasonably conclude that Paul's im- 
prisonment at Csesarea was the time and the occasion 
of its writing. After two full years of ministry at 
Ephesus Paul had gone to Jerusalem, knowing that 
bonds and death were not far away in the future. He 


is arrested and imprisoned in Caesarea. Luke is with 
him there. But while Paul is in bonds, Luke is free. 
For two whole years Luke can go to and fro from 
Caesarea to Jerusalem, and from Jerusalem to Caesarea, 
serving as Paul's messenger, gathering from Mary, 
Jesus' mother, and from relatives of Jesus, from the 
elder apostles, and from other eye-witnesses the 
materials for his Gospel, and with Paul's sanction, if 
not his actual supervision, collating all the earlier 
narratives, and writing his own account of Christ's 
life and ministry. 

It is quite probable that Luke may have had in his 
hands our present Gospels of Mark and even of Mat- 
thew, and that he may have incorporated in his own 
narrative such portions of those Gospels as suited his 
purpose. The earliest germs of our New Testament 
were probably the Logia, or sayings of Jesus, and 
these, in the Hebrew or Aramaic in which they were 
originally spoken, may have been written down within 
five or ten years after Jesus' death. Matthew himself 
may have been the first to commit them to writing. 
Mark, however, was the first to add the story of Jesus' 
life and miracles, and so to transform the Logia into 
a complete Gospel. Then Matthew may have en- 
larged his original work and translated it into Greek. 
When Luke begins his Gospel by saying that " many 
have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning 
those matters which have been fulfilled among us," he 
may be acknowledging his indebtedness to the two pre- 
ceding Gospels, as well as to the new sources of infor- 
mation which he has himself discovered. 

It is also possible that the Ephesian church possessed 


the Gospels of Mark and of Matthew. But there was 
special reason why Paul should have wished that 
church to possess the Gospel according to Luke : Mat- 
thew was written for Jewish Christians, and Mark for 
Roman Christians, while Luke incorporated what was 
best in these and yet was written for the whole Gentile 
and Greek-speaking world. Is it not probable that one 
of Paul's first concerns, as he went to Rome or after 
he had reached the eternal city, was to furnish his dear 
Ephesian converts with Luke's priceless record of 
Jesus' works and teachings ? We know that he sought 
by letters to supply the lack of his own personal minis- 
trations to the churches of Asia. This central church 
of Asia was a pivot upon which the Christian future 
of the whole Eastern world revolved, and he had, 
therefore, spent with it a longer time than he had de- 
voted to any other church of the Gentiles. Luke's Gos- 
pel would largely make up for Paul's own absence and 
for the loss of his oral testimony. The Ephesians, 
moreover, knew and loved the Evangelist, for Luke 
was with Paul when he parted from the Ephesian 
elders, and in Paul's letter to the Colossians, who were 
so near to Ephesus, he speaks of Luke as " the beloved 
physician." Could Paul withhold from the Ephesians 
this help to their faith ? What his own preaching could 
not do this written Gospel of Luke might do, by fixing 
indelibly in their minds the lineaments of the Son of 
God. I think it probable that the Ephesian church was 
possessed of the Gospel according to Luke, and that 
Paul himself took care that they should possess it as a 
substitute for his oral teaching, and as a permanent ex- 
pression of his view of Jesus' life and work. 


There can be no doubt that Paul during his two 
years' stay in Ephesus had taught the Ephesians the 
main facts of Jesus' life. He had done this orally. 
Now that he has given them Luke's written Gospel, 
his work is done. The year 64, or the year A. D. 65, 
marks the date of Paul's martyrdom. The Ephesian 
church must now have other leadership. The death of 
Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the approaching fall of 
the Jewish state, leaves the apostle John free to take 
up Paul's work and to carry it on to larger issues. And 
so this deeply pondering, but quiet and undemonstra- 
tive, man finds himself at last and is called to utter- 
ance. Many years of care for our Lord's mother have 
made him possessed of abundant material which has 
found no outlet in the way of publication. He was 
sent to Ephesus to give his own life-picture of Jesus to 
the world. He could furnish what Paul could not, 
namely, his own personal reminiscences of Christ, to- 
gether with the inferences and reflections which had 
come to him from long meditation upon that marvelous 
divine manifestation and from deeply drinking in the 
spirit of Jesus. 

So John leaves Jerusalem and takes Paul's place at 
Ephesus, in Asia Minor. There he cares for the 
churches of Asia for thirty years, or to the end 
of his life. He suffers exile for a time in the Isle of 
Patmos, but the result is the Apocalypse. Polycrates, a 
bishop of Ephesus, a century after John's death, testi- 
fies that the remains of the apostle rest in Ephesus. 
During this long ministry of thirty years, Irenseus tells 
us that John would not use water in which Cerinthus 
the heretic had bathed ; Clement of Alexandria relates 


his seeking out the young robber who had fallen away 
from Christ ; Jerome informs us that, in his old age, the 
apostle had but one sermon, " Little children, love one 
another! " All this was supplemental to Paul's teach- 
ing and method, but it was in no respect contradictory 
to it. Paul had taught the preexistence and deity of 
Christ before John came to Ephesus, and the doctrine 
of union with Christ was central to the theology of 
both. John, like Paul, was a cultivated Jew, and in his 
own way able to withstand the Judaizers and to win 
the heathen. Paul had the wider training, but John 
had the greater personal knowledge of Christ. And it 
was this that the Ephesian church most needed. 

John, at Ephesus, had the great advantage of finding 
the church already in possession of a written Gospel. 
Luke's Gospel was virtually Paul's testimony, and John 
had only to supplement Luke's Gospel by adding his 
own recollections of Jesus, and his own interpretations 
of Jesus' works and words. Where Luke has spoken 
John omits, except in those cases where additional de- 
tail is needed to complete the narrative. But there are 
large tracts of Jesus' life and ministry for which Luke 
did not possess the material. The early Judean minis- 
try Luke does not narrate, apparently for the reason 
that his informants were the men of Galilee. John, 
who had lived in Jerusalem and who knew the authori- 
ties there, could tell of Nicodemus and the Sanhedrin, 
and of Jesus' first year of appeal to the ecclesiastical 
chiefs of the Jewish nation. 

One reason why the Synoptists do not tell us more 
of Jesus' early life and ministry is probably that the 
disciples did not at the first appreciate the importance 


of his acts and utterances. Only gradually did they 
learn to mark every step and treasure up every word. 
It takes some education, moreover, to retain long dis- 
courses in the memory, and correctly to reproduce 
them. John was gifted in both these respects beyond 
the other apostles. From the very beginning his intense 
spiritual nature found the words of Jesus to be spirit 
and life, and we have seen it probable that his early edu- 
cation qualified him to remember and to repeat all 
that he saw and heard. The methods of the rabbinical 
schools were very unlike those to which we are accus- 
tomed, though they still prevail in the East, as in the 
Mohammedan University, the Azhar Mosque, of Cairo. 
The rabbins did not dictate. The scholars repeated 
what they heard. Instances are frequent in which long 
lectures are retained and reproduced by the hearer, 
with scarcely the loss of a single word. It is not at all 
impossible that the discourse to Nicodemus is a sub- 
stantially verbatim report, and that John's account of 
Jesus' words to his disciples on the night of his be- 
trayal is a nearly precise reproduction of that wonder 
ful address by one who lost no part of it. Bruce, in his 
' Training of the Twelve," declares that the twelve 
apostles probably knew the whole Old Testament by 
heart. Pundita Ramabai, at Oxford, recited from the 
Rigveda, passim, and showed that she knew more of 
it by heart than the whole contents of the Old Testa- 

I make these remarks to show that John's nature 
and training qualified him to add precisely those ele- 
ments which Luke's Gospel lacked the elements of 
personal acquaintance with Jesus and of spiritual 


reception and retention. But there was another ad- 
vantage which John possessed at Ephesus. He had 
come out from the falling Jewish state; he could re- 
gard the Jews as enemies of his Lord; and he was 
safe from their hatred and violence. That is probably 
the reason why he could tell the story of Lazarus' 
resurrection when the synoptic writers make no men- 
tion of it. The Jewish authorities had sought to put 
Lazarus to death, and they might make it dangerous 
for any who would tell the story of his awakening. 
When John took up his residence in Ephesus, Laza- 
rus was probably no longer living. So John was at 
liberty to utter freely all that he knew, and what he 
knew formed a supplement to Luke's Gospel not only 
interesting, but also absolutely necessary in the way of 
explanation and completion. As I have said in another 
connection, the Christ of John's Gospel is required 
to vindicate the truthfulness of the Synoptics. Only 
Christ's deity can explain his perfect humanity. And 
John's Gospel is the Gospel of Christ's deity. 

I have no doubt that the original gospel was en- 
tirely oral. That does not bring suspicion on the 
narrative, for the reason that memory has latent 
powers which in our day of printing are undeveloped. 
Memory retains what it must, and the events of Jesus' 
life, as well as his utterances, came to seem of such 
importance that it was matter of life and death to 
preserve the record of them. For thirty years after 
Jesus' death they were handed down by tradition. 
There was an oral gospel, more or less complete, pre- 
served in parts which suited the needs of each Chris- 
tian community, but in parts which when put together 


made a coherent whole. The human aspect of Christ's 
life had gained its hold upon the churches. Even 
thus early, however, Ebionites, like Cerinthus, so ex- 
aggerated the human as really to deny the divine. It 
was John's mission to rescue the church from a de- 
grading heresy by giving his testimony that Christ was 
the Eternal Word, who was with God in the begin- 
ning, and who was himself God. This he did for 
many years by oral utterance, using Luke's Gospel 
for his text, making it the basis of his preaching, but 
supplementing it with reminiscences and reflections of 
his own which he ultimately reduced to writing. 

Time will not permit a full account of the many 
points in which Luke and John are interlaced and 
complementary to one another. I must select a few 
characteristic examples and must let them suffice. 
And the first is, of course, found in the prologue of 
John's Gospel. Luke had traced everything from the 
beginning (dvco&ev), but John finds an earlier begin- 
ning. Luke carried the genealogy of Jesus back 
through David and Abraham to Adam, the son of 
God; but John goes back to eternity past, and sees in 
Christ none other than Deity revealed. He does not 
tell the story of Jesus' birth because Luke had already 
narrated it, and the Ephesians were familiar with it. 
But he can supplement it with his own insight into its 
meaning, and can express the truth in language which 
he had learned from the Alexandrian philosophy in 
the rabbinical school at Jerusalem. There he had 
heard of the Logos, the formative law of nature, the 
ideal of perfection, the firstborn Son of God. But 
the rabbins had never gotten beyond the existence of 


this Logos in the thought of God. John had learned 
from his acquaintance with Jesus that this Logos was 
an actual and not merely an ideal person. Jesus' own 
words, " Before Abraham was born, I am," and " The 
glory which I had with thee before the world was/' 
had shown him that Jesus' personality transcended all 
space and time, reached back into eternity past, and 
was bound up with the personality of God himself. 
Jesus is the Word made flesh, deity revealed, divinity 
brought down to our human comprehension and 
engaged in the work of our salvation. 

This is John's interpretation of Jesus' life, under 
the influence of the promised Spirit of God. John does 
not say that Jesus used the word " Logos " of himself, 
or that he derived the knowledge of it from Jesus. 
The form comes from John's early training, though the 
substance has been taught him from on high. He 
therefore gives us the term Logos only in his prologue. 
It constitutes his thesis. The Gospel is its proof. 
When, in spite of the growing enmity and rejection of 
the Jews, the last doubter among the apostles is won, 
and Thomas bows at Jesus' feet, crying, " My Lord and 
my God ! " John's thesis is proved, and the Gospel 
comes to its intended end, the last chapter being sub- 
sequently added to correct a prevalent belief that 
Jesus had promised to its author an immortality on 
earth. John's Logos-doctrine confirms Luke's account 
of the immaculate conception, and gives the reason 
for it; indeed, it is still possible that the original text 
in John i : 13 referred, as an extant reading would 
have it, not to believers, but to Christ, " who was born, 
not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the 


will of man, but of God." The terminology of John 
came from Philo, but the doctrine itself came from 
God. John was not even its sole discoverer and pub- 
lisher, for Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, before 
John came to Ephesus, declared Christ to be " the 
image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation ; 
for in him were all things created, in the heavens and 
upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, 
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or 
powers; all things have been created through him 
and unto him; and he is before all things, and in him 
all things consist." 

It has been said by Bruce that we have no trace in 
Luke's Gospel of a doctrine of the atonement. I do 
not think this statement correct, for Luke tells us of 
the baptism of suffering and death which Christ was 
to undergo, and quotes Jesus' words at the last supper 
in which he says of the bread, " This is my body which 
is given for you," and of the wine : " This cup is the 
new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured 
out for you." But if there were in Luke any lack of, 
clearness in proclaiming the doctrine of atonement, 
surely John's account of the Baptist's testimony would 
fill the gap. He has before him Luke's story of the 
Baptist's stern and minatory preaching and the Bap- 
tist's announcement of the Judge who was standing at 
the door. John tells us what sort of deliverance the 
Messiah is to bring, for he gives the Baptist's designa- 
tion of Christ as " the Lamb of God that taketh away 
the sin of the world." This, indeed, was the message 
which drew the heart of John to Christ. Like Luther, 
the young man was seeking a gracious God. That 


search led him to the Baptist. And the singular, I'de, 
" behold ! " seems to be directed to John himself, and 
points him to One who is the sacrifice for sin, who 
pays the debt of the guilty, who reconciles sinful men 
to the holy God. Luke had used the words " grace " 
and " glory ' : in his account of the annunciation to 
Mary and to the shepherds; John uses these same 
words to describe the impression which Jesus made 
upon his followers : " For the Word became flesh and 
dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of 
the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and 

In Luke there is a chasm between Jesus' baptism and 
his ministry in Galilee. John shows how the new 
grew out of the old. He fills the vacancy by telling 
us that Jesus returned to the Baptist after his baptism 
and then received his testimony, only gradually begin- 
ning to preach and winning the best of the Baptist's 
disciples. Without John's account, Luke's narratives 
of Christ's beginnings in Galilee would lack all proper 
connection with the narrative of his baptism. John 
tells us of the marriage at Cana possibly the mar- 
riage of Jesus' own sister and of the presence there 
of Mary, the mother of Jesus ; but he tells us nothing 
of Jesus' temptation because Luke had narrated it. 
John tells us of the first cleansing of the temple and of 
Christ's nocturnal interview with Nicodemus, and the 
natural inference is that while the other disciples re- 
mained in Capernaum after their return from the 
Jordan, John, who had a home in Jerusalem, was with 
Christ, and was the witness and recorder of his Judean 
ministry. Luke had told of Jesus' visit to Nazareth, 


and John omits it; Luke had not told of the Saviour's 
talk with the Samaritan woman on the way to Gali- 
lee, and therefore John relates it. When Jesus goes 
up alone to Jerusalem, John is there to report the cure 
of the paralytic, and to hear, possibly from Nicodemus, 
of the rising enmity of the Pharisees. From Luke 
alone we should never know why the Pharisees sent 
their emissaries to Galilee to gather evidence against 
Jesus. In fact, it is John who relates four journeys 
of Jesus to Jerusalem, while Luke gives us only two. 
John's Gospel is therefore the basis of our chronology 
of Jesus' life, and is indispensable as the completion 
and explanation of Luke's story. 

John's return from his private visit to Jerusalem 
marks the close of the Judean and the beginning of 
the Galilean ministry. The first year of Christ's work 
was, roughly speaking, a year of appeal to the Jewish 
authorities; the second year was a year of appeal to 
the Jewish people. Now comes the second calling of 
his apostles. It had doubtless been expected and 
longed for. There is a temporary popularity. So long 
as the multitude could cherish hopes of revolution, and 
could expect a miraculous supply of their physical 
wants, Jesus was sure of a following. But his spirit- 
ual demands are too great for weak human nature. 
The Pharisees poison the minds of the crowd against 
him, and the people forsake him. There is a rising 
tide of opposition which presages condemnation and 
death. Between the fifth and the sixth chapters of 
John's Gospel there is a cleft which only Luke's Gos- 
pel enables us to fill. But John knows this link of 
connection to be in the hands of his readers, and he 


only shows us how it was that the people came to take 
sides with the Pharisees. He tells us that the chief 
priests, who were Sadducees, were now added to the 
number of Christ's enemies. Since the Sanhedrin has 
passed a decree against him, and has sent officers to 
take him, Jesus predicts his own death and goes to 
meet it. Luke tells us of the end of the battle, and of 
Jesus' leaving Capernaum, but only John tells us why. 

The journey to Jerusalem is a gradual progress. 
The way lies beyond Jordan. There is a great con- 
geries of parables, discourses, and miracles which only 
Luke records. The parables of the Good Samaritan, 
the Friend at Midnight, the Rich Fool, the Guests' 
Excuses, the Lost Sheep, the Lost Money, the Lost 
Son, the Unrighteous Steward, Dives and Lazarus, 
the Unjust Judge, the Pharisee and the Publican, the 
Ten Pounds, the Cumbering Fig Tree; the miracles 
performed on the woman with a spirit of infirmity, the 
man afflicted with dropsy, the ten lepers; the dis- 
courses at the sending out of the Seventy and on their 
return, with regard to prayer, trust in God, and coming 
judgment, the Galileans slain by Pilate, whether few 
are saved, the lament over Jerusalem, on counting the 
cost, on forgiveness and faith, on the kingdom that 
cometh not with observation, on Zacchseus as also a 
son of Abraham all these wonderful revelations of 
truth and power are peculiar to Luke, and they are 
not related by John. John tells us why Jesus was 
compelled to leave Galilee and to spend so long an 
interval in Perea; Luke gives us the result in that 
marvelous cluster of parables and miracles which form 
so unique a feature of his Gospel 


The year of appeal to the Jewish people had proved 
as futile as the previous year of appeal to the Jewish 
authorities. This breathing-spell in Perea constitutes 
the last year of Jesus' life, and it is an appeal to his 
own chosen circle of disciples. He would fit them to 
preach the gospel after his death. He betakes himself 
with his apostles to the wilds beyond the Jordan for 
privacy, and to escape the machinations of the Jews. 
There he shapes the pillars of his future church. But 
even this work comes soon to an end. How strange 
it is that Luke throws no light upon the sudden break- 
ing up of our Lord's seclusion and his venturing an 
approach to Jerusalem! It is John who supplements 
Luke's Galilean informants as to the closing week of 
Jesus' life. The death of Lazarus draws Jesus to 
Bethany, and it is Lazarus' resurrection that precipi- 
tates Jesus' apprehension and condemnation. We have 
seen a reason why Luke should be silent, so long as 
Lazarus was alive and was in danger from the Jews, 
and we owe to John alone the account of that wonder- 
ful and fateful miracle. But we could not fully under- 
stand even John, if Luke had not previously told of 
Jesus' intimacy with Mary and Martha and Lazarus. 
Jesus' friendship for that family of Bethany was such 
that he gave his own life for his friends. Luke, how- 
ever, mentions only the place ; John gives us the time. 
Luke tells us of the crowd that accompanied Jesus to 
the holy city ; John tells us whence they came, namely, 
from Jerusalem itself. Mary's anointing and Judas' 
reproof are peculiar to the fourth Gospel, but they are 
so interwoven with Luke's narrative as to indicate 
John's intention to complete it. 


John gives us no account of the Lord's Supper, 
though he was sent with Peter to prepare for it. How 
can that be explained except by supposing that he had 
Luke's Gospel before him? The long report of Jesus' 
discourse and prayer makes up for the lack. But there 
are graphic touches besides. Jesus rose to wash the 
disciples' feet; he must have been sitting. He an- 
nounces his betrayal : this rouses Judas to execute his 
plan. John gives no words of Christ's passion in Geth- 
semane, for Luke had given them already. But he 
does tell the effect of Jesus' majesty upon the servants, 
and he adds Jesus' request, " Let these go their way," 
to show how easy it would have been for Jesus to 
escape, and how careful he was to shield his disciples. 
He adds the name " Malchus " to Luke's telling of 
Peter's sword. John does not mention Jesus' taking 
three to watch with him. He conceals his own per- 
sonality. Mark, Peter's interpreter, alone gives this. 

John describes the preliminary examination before 
Annas, while Caiaphas summons the Sanhedrin; but 
he leaves Luke to tell of the trial before Caiaphas. 
Perhaps John was not there, but had gone to recover 
Peter after his denial. John has not denied his Lord, 
though the maidservant's words, " Thou too," to Peter 
indicates that John was now known to be a disciple. 
Luke states the result of the trial before Pilate, but 
he does not explain the steps which led to it. What 
occurred in Pilate's palace must have been told by 
Jesus himself, for neither Jews nor disciples entered 
there. Only John reveals the deepest ground of com- 
plaint on the part of Christ's enemies when he shows 
them accusing Jesus of claiming to be the Son of God. 


John's narrative of the crucifixion, the entombment, 
and the resurrection is fragmentary in itself, but with 
Luke's it is complete. John explains the term " Gol- 
gotha." He mentions the quadruple of soldiers. He 
shows how the Lord who forgave his enemies could 
care for his friends when his mother and the penitent 
thief alike received the blessing. The words, " I thirst," 
and " It is finished," are peculiar to John. The piercing 
of Jesus' side shows that there was no need of break- 
ing his legs, and John sees in this a fulfilment of the 
prediction that " a bone of him shall not be broken." 
Luke had told of Joseph's providing Jesus' tomb ; John 
adds that Nicodemus brought a hundred pounds of 
spices. Luke tells us of the women coming to the 
sepulcher ; only John tells of Jesus' appearance to Mary. 
Luke describes the manifestation of the Lord to the 
disciples at Emmaus; only John tells of Jesus' second 
appearance to his apostles when the doors were shut, 
when he showed his wounded side, and when he won 
the doubting Thomas to faith in his Lordship and 

The ascension was a marvelous event and most 
important to the Gospel narrative. Why does not John 
mention it? Simply because Luke had told of it al- 
ready. There is no antithesis or evasion here. The 
omission confirms the previous record. Luke is 
vouched for. Indeed, his Gospel may be indirectly 
alluded to when John says : " Many other signs there- 
fore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which 
are not written in this book, but these are written that 
ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of 
God, and that believing ye may have life in his name." 


" This book " may possibly imply the existence of an 
earlier book already in the possession of the Ephesian 
Christians. What John did not write Luke had already 
written, and the testimony of both is that Jesus is the 
Messiah, the Son of God, and that life and salvation 
are to be found only in personal union with him. 

Students of the New Testament history have very 
commonly been puzzled by the omission in the fourth 
Gospel of all mention of Jesus' birth and childhood, 
his temptation in the wilderness, his rejection at Naza- 
reth, his miracles in Capernaum, his choosing of the 
Twelve, the Sermon on the Mount, the parables by 
the sea, the Gadarene demoniac, the raising of Jairus' 
daughter, the mission of the Twelve and of the 
Seventy, the confession of Peter, the transfiguration, 
the discourses against the Pharisees, the Rich Young 
Ruler, the predictions of the destruction of Jerusalem 
and the end of the world, the institution of the last 
supper, the walk to Emmaus, the ascension. This 
omission is now satisfactorily accounted for. John's 
readers had all these before them in another book, 
which it is his purpose only to supplement and complete. 
He narrates the same matters of which Luke had 
written, only when he can add new incidents or con- 
firmations from his own observation and experience, 
as, for example, when he tells the story of the feeding 
of the five thousand as a text for Jesus' declaration of 
himself as the Bread of Life, or when he adds the 
account of Thomas' conversion to Luke's report of 
Christ's second appearance to the disciples after his 
resurrection. Throughout John's Gospel there is an 
avoidance of incidents related by Luke, and a studious 


silence with regard to what had been already written, 
a silence so discriminating and complete as to preclude 
all possibility of its being accidental. 

But the argument is not perfectly conclusive if we 
leave it here. The things which John does say are 
more important than those which he omits. The testi- 
mony of John the Baptist, the miracle at Cana, the 
conversations with Nicodemus and the woman of Sa- 
maria, the healings of the nobleman's son, of the infirm 
man at the pool of Bethesda, of the man born blind, 
Jesus' proclamation of himself as the Bread of Life, 
as the Light of the World, as the Good Shepherd, his 
answer to the Greeks who sought him, his raising of 
Lazarus, his farewell discourses and his intercessory 
prayer all these are not only sublime disclosures in 
themselves, but they so fit into gaps in Luke's Gospel 
as to convince us that there was design in the relation 
of them. Every convexity of the one, whether great 
or small, so answers to a concavity in the other as to 
render it well-nigh certain that the purpose of the au- 
thor was to turn wtiat might have seemed to some a 
merely human gospel into the record of a divine life 
lived upon the earth. But John's Gospel does not come 
to us as an antithesis or contrast to the Gospel of Luke. 
It only brings out Luke's real meaning, or the meaning 
of the Holy Spirit who inspired Luke's writing, and 
was promised to lead Christ's followers into all the 
truth as it was in Jesus. 

My treatment of this large subject has been a very 
meager and hasty one, but I trust it has led to certain 
reasonable conclusions. Let me summarize them as 
follows : 


1. John follows Luke, and is not to be considered 
as an independent narrative. 

2. Luke is already well known and only needs sup- 

3. John's supplementary matter, with a single ex- 
ception, consists only of personal reminiscences. 

4. That exception is the philosophical prologue 
which adopts a great word from the rabbins, but fills 
it with a new and personal meaning. 

5. John's Gospel is intended to complete the Gospel 
of Luke, and with this to constitute one historical 

6. Its record of events and of discourses is so minute 
and exact that it can be the work only of the apostle 

7. The origin of its Logos-doctrines must be re- 
ferred, not to Ephesus and to the influence of Alexan- 
drian philosophy there, but to Jerusalem and to the 
schools of the rabbins, where both John and Paul had 

8. The Logos-doctrine itself is absolutely needed to 
supplement the picture of Jesus as given us by the 
Synoptics, and it was substantially the teaching of 
Paul before John wrote his Gospel. 

9. The divine aspect of our Lord's personality is as 
essential as the human aspect, and Christ is none other 
than God manifest in the flesh. 

10. John's Gospel relieves Luke's from the charge 
of being a merely humanitarian picture of Christ's re- 
ligion, and makes Christianity to be nothing less than 
a vital and personal union of the human spirit with 
the omnipresent and omnipotent Christ. 


WE pass to-day from the study of the Gospels to the 
study of the Acts of the Apostles, from the study of 
Christ's work FOR us to the study of Christ's work IN 
us and in his church. 

The author of the Acts of the Apostles is Luke. We 
have plenty of external evidence to Luke's author- 
ship in the testimonies of the church Fathers, Irenaeus, 
Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Eusebius, tes- 
timonies which I need not narrate to you ; but we have 
internal evidence also, with which all of you are more 
or less familiar, and which, when it is set forth in order, 
is exceedingly convincing. 

Luke begins the Acts of the Apostles with a refer- 
ence to the former treatise, and that former treatise, 
as it is addressed to Theophilus, just as the Acts is, 
makes it quite certain that Luke himself, and no other, 
is the author of the Acts as well as of the Gospel. 

Then we have similarities of style in the Gospel and 
in the Acts which cannot possibly be accidental. It 
will perhaps interest those of you who are familiar 
with the Greek to know that we have the use of verbs 
compounded with prepositions, in Luke and in Acts, 
to an extent not at all paralleled by any other of the 
books of the New Testament. We have the use of the 
preposition auv, for example, to a remarkable extent, 
as we have not in the Gospel of Matthew, of Mark, 
or of John. While we have that preposition used in 



Matthew only three times, we have that preposition 
used in the Gospel according to Luke twenty-four 
times, and in the Acts of the Apostles fifty-one times, 
showing that there is marked similarity of style in this 
particular. We have the Greek verb nopeueff&ai, to go, 
hardly used at all, used very sparingly indeed in other 
portions of the New Testament; but in Luke's Gospel 
we find it forty-nine times, and in the Acts of the Apos- 
tles thirty-eight times, showing that the peculiarities of 
the one are peculiarities of the other. 

There are other connections of the Gospel and the 
Acts in the fact that the earlier portion of the Gospel, 
in which Luke seems to have material made ready to 
his hand, is Hebraistic in its style. He shows his 
faithfulness to his authorities by accepting the very 
words of the original, in many cases, while the latter 
portions of the Gospel are written in a more pure 
Greek. Now that is precisely the case with the Acts. 
The earlier portions of the Acts, which have to do with 
transactions within the bounds of the church in Pales- 
tine, are somewhat Hebraistic in their style; and the 
latter portion of the Acts, which narrates events of 
which Luke was in part an eye-witness, is written in 
Greek of a better style, a more classical Greek. Now 
this correspondence between the Gospel and the Acts 
tends to show that the same person was the author of 

Then we find that there are striking coincidences be- 
tween the speeches of Peter and Paul and James in 
the Acts and in the Epistles. We have from those 
same persons in each case not only the same general 
train of thought, but also expressions which indicate a 


peculiar authorship. You remember that great work 
of Paley, " Horcz Paulina," the object of which was 
to show that the Acts and the Epistles show wonder- 
ful correspondence ; that the Acts confirms the Epistles 
and that the Epistles confirm the Acts ; that there are 
remarkable agreements between them which would not 
have been possible if the Acts had not been a historical 
document, and if, on the other hand, the Epistles had 
not been written by the very men to whom they are 
attributed. Here are proofs that Luke was the author 
of the Acts, and proof also that Luke's work is veri- 
table history. 

The date at which the Acts of the Apostles was 
written I think can be determined within a narrow 
limit, since Luke was the author. It is a continuation 
of the Gospel of Luke, or rather it is a work by the 
same author with the intent of making it a supplement 
to the Gospel; and, being a supplement to the Gospel, 
we are warranted in saying, as we said in discussing 
the Gospel itself, that in this book Luke represents 
Paul. Luke does not write at his own motion, or upon 
his own responsibility. The apostle Paul furnishes a 
large part of the material; the apostle Paul sanctions 
the work; the apostle Paul probably supervises the 
work; and, therefore, we are warranted in believing 
that, as the Gospel according to Luke was probably 
written toward the close of Paul's imprisonment at 
Caesarea, the Acts of the Apostles was probably written 
before the close of Paul's first imprisonment at Rome. 
As we may date the Gospel some time not after the 
year 59, so it is proper to date the Acts of the Apostles 
not much before the year 61, or toward the end of it. 


You remember that the Acts, although it narrates 
Paul's journey to Rome, narrates Paul's preaching at 
Rome, speaks of Paul's imprisonment at Rome for two 
whole years, speaks of Paul's addresses to the Jews at 
Rome, yet does not give an account of the close of 
Paul's imprisonment at Rome. It is very certain that 
the Acts of the Apostles was written before the close 
of Paul's imprisonment. It is almost impossible that 
the Acts of the Apostles should have been written after 
the close of Paul's imprisonment; for, if Luke had 
known of the issue of that imprisonment, that re- 
markable event which formed so natural a close of the 
apostle Paul's life would undoubtedly have been itself 
narrated and described. The fact that he leaves Paul 
at the end of that two years' imprisonment, without 
indicating when that imprisonment terminated and 
what the result of it was, is to my mind evidence that 
the Acts of the Apostles must have been written before 
the close of that imprisonment, and that the only reason 
Luke does not tell us what the result was in that case 
is simply that he did not know, simply because the 
result had not yet taken place. So I think we may 
put the date of the Acts of the Apostles before the 
close of the year 61, as we put the date of the Gospel 
according to Luke before the year 59. 

Now this fact will throw considerable light upon the 
circumstances in which the Acts was written. You 
must remember that Paul had had already twenty 
years of experience in preaching and speaking. That 
imprisonment at Caesarea was apparently ordered by 
divine providence, like the imprisonment of John 
Bunyan in Bedford jail, in order that he might, in 


solitary meditation and leisure, collect the results of 
what he had orally uttered, and prepare them to be 
put into permanent and written form. 

As the imprisonment at Caesarea, during which Luke 
had access to Paul, as also did the other friends of 
Paul, was a time when Luke might have had constant 
conversation with the apostle, and yet at the same 
time been perfectly free to consult the earlier apostles 
and secure the material that was used in his Gospel; 
so we may believe that the imprisonment of Paul at 
Rome was also used for the purpose of putting to- 
gether the narration of the wonderful way in which 
God had led him in his apostolic labors, and in which 
material that had been previously collected in Palestine 
might be supplemented by other material furnished by 
Paul in Rome; so that the Acts of the Apostles in its 
complete form might be the result. 

In Csesarea, you remember, Philip the deacon re- 
sided. It was in Caesarea that Cornelius had lived ; and 
all the evidence in connection with the preaching of 
Philip and in connection with the evangelization of 
Caesarea was right there at hand. The persons who 
were most interested were ready to communicate what 
they knew; and there was a multitude of other oppor- 
tunities by which Luke might get at his material, 
might be directed in the putting of it together by the 
great apostle. 

It seems to me that this fact, that the temporary 
ceasing of the apostle's public labors was thus made 
the means of a far greater permanent benefit to the 
church of God than even his public and oral preach- 
ing of the gospel could have been, is full of suggestion 


to us. Paul calls himself a prisoner of Jesus Christ; 
and yet he is perhaps of more service to Jesus Christ 
while he is a prisoner, in comforting the saints and in 
preparing a message of instruction to the church of 
God through all coming time, than he could have been 
in his oral discourses and his public labors; and so 
there is many a saint of God laid aside for a time by 
divine providence, prevented from mingling with the 
world, who, in that very imprisonment, so to speak, 
may be gaining new strength by reflection and prayer, 
and may be actually doing more for the world than 
he could have done had God permitted him to go 
about in his accustomed way. Imprisonment and se- 
clusion are not the worst things for the saints of God. 
It certainly was not so in the case of the apostle Paul. 
I believe that these two imprisonments have resulted 
partly in giving to us not only a number of Paul's 
Epistles, but also the Gospel according to Luke and the 
Acts of the Apostles. 

This designation, " The Acts of the Apostles," is 
very interesting in itself. In the Sinaitic manuscript 
the only designation given is "The Acts." I think it 
probable that this was the original title. Certain it is 
that Luke's Gospel has no author's name, and it is 
equally certain that no author's name is given to the 
Acts. The Acts is anonymous, not only so far as its 
authorship is concerned, but also in the fact that in it 
the name of Luke does not even once occur. As a 
matter of fact, it is not the Acts of the Apostles in 
any such sense as we are ordinarily inclined to believe. 
That phrase, the Acts of the Apostles, would give us 
the impression of a continuous and complete history 


of the apostolic labors and sufferings. Now it is very 
far from being the case that the Acts of the Apostles 
is such a document as this. Why, we have no history 
of the church in Jerusalem and of the work of the 
apostles there after the imprisonment and the deliver- 
ance of Peter! All that we know with regard to the 
great church in Jerusalem is what we know previous 
to that time; and then we know absolutely nothing of 
the introduction of the gospel at Rome, which might 
be conceived by us as the most important epoch in 
church history. The Acts of the Apostles tells us 
nothing about that. Moreover, we have not here a 
record of the labors and sufferings of a great majority 
of the apostles. The Eleven are mentioned, indeed, 
and the filling up of their number by the election of 
Matthias is spoken of at the first; but yet we hardly 
have the eleven mentioned before they drop out of 
sight ; and, besides the intimation that they exist, once 
or twice afterward, we have hardly any account of 
them. And even with regard to the labors and suffer- 
ings of Paul, how much there is that is not related to 
us ! Paul has told us with regard to his sufferings, his 
scourgings, his shipwrecks, his perils in journeyings 
and perils at sea, his troubles through false brethren 
and through imprisonment. Not a tenth part of all 
this is told us in the Acts of the Apostles. We should 
hardly know that Paul passed through that multitude 
of perils and troubles if it had not been for words of 
his in the course of his Epistles. 

The Acts does not give an account of the doings of 
the apostle John. One might think that the apostle 
John was just as important a person as Peter, just as 


important a person as Paul; but aside from the fact 
that John appears once as the companion of Peter at 
the healing of the lame man in the temple, and he does 
not say anything at that time, we have him mentioned 
only three times, and nothing is told us with regard 
to John's individual work in Palestine. 

How curious it is, then, that, in what by its title 
purports to be the Acts of the Apostles, we have not 
the acts of very many of them. Those things upon 
which curiosity would like to dwell are entirely omitted. 
What, then, is the principle of selection which has led 
the Holy Spirit, out of the multiplicity of apostolic 
movements, to choose so few, and to set only these be- 
fore us in the Acts of the Apostles ? I think we must 
say, first of all, that it chiefly indicates that not all 
things are equally important in the history of the 
church of God. If so, we might expect that the Acts 
of the Apostles would be a series of annals, telling us 
from year to year just what happened to the church. 

No, there are great critical movements upon which 
history turns. There are great central personages 
who are called by God to be leaders. There are great 
epochs, when there are changes from the old to the 
new. And we have brought to light this fact in the 
Acts of the Apostles, that there were great central 
personages, that there were great critical movements, 
that there were great changes ; and upon those changes 
the whole future history of the church has depended. 
It is upon these that all the rays of divine light are 
made to converge. We have in the Acts of the Apos- 
tles two foci, as one might say, two great points of 
light; those points of light are made prominent, and 


everything else is allowed to recede into apparent 

Everything turns here upon the planting of the 
church among the Jews and upon the planting of the 
church among the Gentiles; and there were two great 
personages who were instrumental in these plantings 
of the church: Peter was instrumental as the apostle 
to the Jews, and Paul was instrumental as the apostle 
to the Gentiles. Around the movements and the works 
of these two apostles, their respective thoughts and 
their proper relation to each other, the whole story 

In the Acts of the Apostles we find these two great 
influences set forth: the setting up of the gospel of 
the kingdom of Christ among the Jews, and the setting 
up of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ among the 
Gentiles. So the Acts of the Apostles forms a bridge 
from the Gospels to the Epistles. 

Here is something very important in our understand- 
ing of the structure of the New Testament. The 
Gospels had been occupied in setting forth Christ's 
work for us, Christ's external work for man, his per- 
son, his incarnation, his teaching, his suffering, his 
death, his resurrection. All this is naturally followed 
by the account of Christ's work in us, Christ's work in 
his church, the extension of his gospel to the world; 
and this we have in the Acts of the Apostles. After 
the first work of the apostles in the setting up of the 
church has been narrated, we just as naturally have 
the instructions which the apostles give for the guid- 
ance and direction of the church, and these we find in 
the Epistles of the New Testament. 


Let me bring this a little more vividly to your 
minds by asking- you a question. Suppose, for a 
moment, you should just let the Acts of the Apostles 
drop out of the New Testament entirely. Imagine, 
for a moment, that your New Testament had no such 
book as the Acts; imagine you had read through the 
Gospels from Matthew to John, and you had gotten 
before your mind all Jesus had done in his suffering, 
death, and resurrection, and now you close the last 
page of the Gospel according to John and you turn to 
the next. Behold, you read, " Paul, an apostle of Jesus 
Christ." " Well," you say, " Paul ! Paul an apostle of 
Jesus Christ? Why, I have read nothing about Paul. 
Who is Paul ? and where does Paul come from ? " 

Do you not see that you would have no bridge from 
the Gospels to the Epistles; that you would have no 
voucher for the authority of Paul ; that all these epis- 
tles, which form so large a part of the New Testament, 
would have no authority, simply because you would 
not know anything of the adding of Paul to the number 
of the apostles? You would not know of Christ's 
direction of Paul in his apostolic labors; you would 
know nothing about the churches to which he preached ; 
and you would know nothing about him who preached 
to them. So important, therefore, is the position of 
the Acts of the Apostles in its intermediate place be- 
tween the Gospels and the Epistles, as assuring us of the 
authority upon which the Epistles rest. We should 
not read the Epistles with any assurance that they were 
the word of God; we should not read them with any 
understanding either of their office, of the persons to 
whom they were written, or of the reasons they wrote 


them, if it were not fof what is told us in the Acts of 
the Apostles. The Acts of the Apostles, narrating to 
us the founding of the church at two great critical 
points and the leadership of two great men, has given 
us the connection between the Gospels and the Epistles, 
and has furnished us a clue to all the remaining part 
of the New Testament. 

Now, after having said so much with regard to the 
two points, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, viz., 
Luke, and the title of the work, viz., " The Acts," and 
after having explained just how much weight and how 
little weight is to be attached to that phrase, I would 
set before you the two great objects of the Acts. Those 
two great objects are given to us in the Acts them- 
selves; they are given to us in the very first verse 
of the Acts; so that, although we have no title, we do 
have as clear an indication of the drift of it all, as if 
Luke, who wrote the Acts, had set down a title for 

You remember that the Acts begins by speaking of 
the things which Jesus began both to do and to teach, 
and then it proceeds to narrate what follows. We have 
in that word "began," I think, a clue to Luke's pur- 
pose, to one of his main objects. In other words, it 
is intimated to us that the work of Christ, when he 
was here in the flesh, was only the beginning of his 
work. It is intimated to us that Christ's work for us 
was only preparatory to another work in us; that 
Christ's work FOR the church was only preparatory to 
his work IN the church. Jesus himself intimates this 
when he promises the coming of the Holy Spirit. He 
says, " I will send the Comforter " ; and then, in imme- 


diate connection with this, only a sentence or two after, 
" I will come to you." In other words, Christ comes 
in the Holy Spirit; and the work of the Holy Spirit is, 
in a proper sense, a continuation of the work of Christ. 

We have in the Gospels, then, the beginning of 
Christ's work upon the earth ; and we have in the Acts 
the continuance of that work through the apostles and 
through the church. It will interest you to look 
through the Acts and to mark the passages a great 
number of them in which the Holy Spirit is men- 
tioned, and in which the work and the power of the 
Holy Spirit are set forth. You know that the first 
great event in the Acts of the Apostles is the pouring- 
out of the Holy Spirit. We have the ascension of 
Christ narrated, apparently in connection with the 
promise that the Holy Spirit should be bestowed. 
Christ's going was. not, as John says, to leave the 
disciples orphans, but only to prepare his coming again 
in a new form. The Holy Spirit is the all-present 
Christ The Holy Spirit is Christ , present more uni- 
versally than he could possibly be if he were here in 
this world in visible form; so that in the Holy Spirit 
we have Christ present with his people, scattered 
though they may be over all the earth, present at the 
same moment to every Christian soul. 

The descent of the Holy Spirit, then, is the first great 
event in the Acts of the Apostles ; and now, after that 
descent of the Holy Spirit, we have the C9ntinual mani- 
festation of the Spirit's presence and power; we have 
miracles performed in the name of Jesus; we have 
the sending out of the apostles and deacons, chosen 
through the Holy Spirit ; we have the condemnation of 


Ananias and Sapphira, who lied to the Holy Spirit; 
and then we have the final missionary work of Paul 
and Barnabas, with all the evidences which the Holy 
Spirit gave of his presence and power. In the Acts 
of the Apostles we have the presence and power of 
the Holy Spirit continually set forth; the words Holy 
Spirit are continually recurring, as they do not recur 
in the Gospels. The first great object of the Acts of 
the Apostles is therefore to set forth Christ's work in 
the world through his church; the building up of his 
church through the agency of the apostles; and yet 
not this agency as something separate from him, but 
rather as the agency which he himself uses, to show 
his personal power in setting up his kingdom in the 
world; in other words, the first great object of the 
Acts is to show forth the setting up of Christ's kingdom 
in the world by the living, personal agency of Christ 
himself through his Holy Spirit. 

Now, there is another object which the Acts has in 
view, and that is the setting forth of the universal 
character of the religion of Jesus. At this distance 
of time we have almost no conception of that revolu- 
tion in human thought which took place when Judaism 
was outgrown and Christianity was extended to the 
Gentile world. We have no conception of the narrow- 
ness and prejudice of even those apostles to whom 
Christ first preached his gospel. The idea that one 
could ever be saved, except by becoming a Jew, was 
something entirely foreign to their thoughts. Their 
only idea of salvation was that of coming within the 
pale of Judaism, submitting to the Jewish ritual and 
organization, and thus becoming heir to the promises 


given to Abraham and the fathers. The idea that the 
gospel was for all the world, and that any human soul 
could come directly to God through Jesus Christ, with- 
out being circumcised and becoming a Jew, was some- 
thing so strange and wonderful that it required a per- 
fect earthquake to shake the idea into the apostles' 

The Acts of the Apostles is in great part given us 
to show the process of transition by which the gospel 
passed from the Jew to the Gentile, by which the Gen- 
tile came to hold equal rights in the kingdom of God, 
and to be regarded as equally an object of divine favor 
and blessing. The tendency among the Jews was just 
as it is among Christians to-day, to think that they 
were the special favorites of heaven, and that God had 
chosen them and brought them into his kingdom for 
their own sakes. It was the object of Christ Jesus, 
so soon as he had ascended his throne, to dispel this 
selfishness, to convince his church that the gospel was 
for the world. So you find that there is a passing from 
Peter to Paul. 

Paul, you know, on his last journey goes back to 
Jerusalem and preaches the gospel there. He does 
everything he can to conciliate the Jewish Christians ; 
in fact, he comes under very favorable circumstances on 
account of the multitude of his converts among the 
Gentiles; but you know what difficulties he met with. 
The result of that embassy was that he was actually 
driven out from Jerusalem, and was compelled finally 
and forever to make his way to the Gentiles and to 
confine his labors to them. 

There is a transition from Jerusalem to Rome. 


After the twelfth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles 
you read almost nothing in regard to Jerusalem. The 
scene of the apostle's labor is changed. It is now more 
important that the gospel should be preached through 
the world ; and you have a gradual progress from Jeru- 
salem and Judea, to Samaria, to Antioch, and finally 
to Rome. Home missions, we may say, led to foreign 

We have the passage from Peter to Paul, we have 
the passage from Jerusalem to Rome, we have the 
passage from Jews to Gentiles, we have the passage 
from local to universal ; and as this passage is made we 
have speeches and utterances on the part of Peter and 
on the part of Paul which give us typical illustrations 
of their way of presenting the great truth to those 
whom they address. 

If you take, for example, Paul's utterances to the 
heathen, there is one comparatively long speech at 
Athens. Then you have a comparatively long speech 
to the Jews of Pisidia, and then you have another com- 
paratively long speech to the Jews at Rome. 

So you have a marvelous system of selection that 
takes out the important things and sets them before 
us, with the one idea of showing how the gospel that 
once was thought by the Jews to belong to themselves 
alone is to be preached as the means of salvation to 
every human being, both Jew and Gentile. 

In this process we have a beautiful incentive to broad 
and universal work in the kingdom of Christ. Just so 
surely as - we are shut up in ourselves, and fancy that 
we are brought into the kingdom of Christ simply for 
our own sake, just so surely the blessings of the 


kingdom will be taken from us and will be bestowed 
upon others. The Acts of the Apostles breathes the 
most liberal spirit, and urges us to no selfish concep- 
tion of the kingdom of God, but to efforts to extend 
his gospel to earth's remotest bound. 

Let me go back to the thought with which I began. 
The Acts of the Apostles narrates to us the beginning 
of the work of Christ in the church and in the world, 
the work of Christ since his ascension. It lays down 
the principle of that work. It teaches us of the resur- 
rection, which was the main subject of preaching. It 
tells us something of the power in which that historical 
fact was to be proclaimed, the power of the Holy 
Spirit. It teaches something of the greatness and 
power which is possible to Christ's servants, and it 
teaches that we are to leave all personal considerations 
and devote ourselves to the great work of subduing 
the world. But in all this it gives us only the begin- 
ning. It tells us only what Christ BEGAN to do and to 
teach while here in the flesh, with the view of spread- 
ing his gospel from Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria 
to Antioch and Ephesus and Athens and Corinth and 
Rome, and to the ends of the earth. 

Now the Acts of the Apostles is, so to speak, first 
of all, his new work in the foundation of the church 
through the preaching of the gospel ; and we have in it 
a clue to the method of Christ's labor, and his prom- 
ise that success shall attend that labor. as it goes on 
through all the ages, until his purpose is accomplished 
and the whole world shall be brought back to God. 

At the end of the first chapter of John's Gospel 
there is a text which I think we might well apply here. 


Jesus says, " Nathanael, because I said I saw thee under 
the fig tree, believest thpu? Greater things than these 
shalt thou see." Then he goes on to speak of the 
heavens opening and the angels of God ascending and 
descending upon the Son of man, intimating that he 
was to be the medium of communication between earth 
and heaven, the channel through which all God's bless- 
ings were to flow to the world. " Greater things than 
these shall ye see," says Christ. As he utters those 
words to Nathanael he utters those words to us. We 
have seen great things since the time when the Acts 
of the Apostles was written. The gospel has been 
preached in almost every heathen land of the habitable 
world, and thousands have been converted ; still Christ 
can say to us, " Greater things than these shall ye see " ; 
and there never will be a time, even after all his won- 
derful revelations of the divine nature, after all the 
wonderful triumphs of his kingdom, when he will not 
be able to turn to the sacramental host that follows him 
and say, " Greater things than these shall ye see." The 
Acts of the Apostles, like the gospel itself, is only the 
beginning of the more wonderful future that is before 
us. Let us thank God and take courage, for " mercy 
shall be built up forever." 


THERE is no writing of the New Testament that more 
needs to be studied in connection with the history of 
the writer than the Epistle to the Romans. The 
apostle Paul was born about the year 7 or 8 of our era, 
in Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia, in Asia Minor. Cilicia 
was populated with Greeks, and Tarsus was no mean 
city. It was a place of great literary and philosophical 
activity. It almost ranked with Athens and Alexandria. 

The schools of Tarsus were famed throughout the 
world, and Paul received in his early days the best 
education in Greek literature and in Greek philosophy. 
He refers three several times to Greek poets, and there 
are other indications that he was familiar with Greek 
poetical literature. In his controversy with the Stoics 
and Epicureans, he shows a very correct and distinct 
knowledge of their doctrine. 

Paul, although he was born at Tarsus, was a Roman 
citizen, and a Roman citizen at the time when to be a 
Roman was almost greater than to be a king. He was a 
Roman citizen not because all the inhabitants of Tarsus 
had had Roman citizenship conferred upon them. As a 
matter of fact, Roman citizenship was conferred upon 
all the inhabitants of Tarsus at a later time; but at 
this time Paul was free-born, because his father was 
already a Roman citizen. The father may have ren- 
dered some special service to the state and so may have 
had Roman citizenship conferred upon him. 
1 60 


There is no question but that this conferring of 
Roman citizenship must have given to the family of 
the apostle Paul a high social position; and it is quite 
evident in all the bearing of the apostle, both in the 
Acts and in his Epistles, that there was with him that 
abiding sense of dignity which belongs to one who, 
from his earliest years, has been accustomed to regard 
himself as among the best of his fellow citizens. There 
was a rank and honor which belonged to those who had 
this dignity of Roman citizenship, and at that distance 
from Jerusalem there was an enjoyment of some privi- 
leges and a broadening of the mind which would not 
have been possible if Paul had been born at Jerusalem, 
even though he had been there a Latin and a Roman. 

But it is not enough to speak of Paul as a Roman 
citizen. More than by his Roman citizenship was he 
characterized by the fact that he was a Jew. He was 
a Hebrew of the Hebrews. He was a Pharisee, and 
the son of a Pharisee. He was of the tribe of Ben- 
jamin, of the straitest sect of the Jewish religion ; and, 
therefore, in his twelfth year, he appears to have been 
sent to Jerusalem for his education. 

Having what could be gotten at Tarsus, and per- 
haps returning to Tarsus afterward for certain por- 
tions of his study, it would appear that from the age 
of twelve years a very large portion of his time was 
spent at Jerusalem. At Jerusalem the very highest 
advantages that the Jewish religion could afford were 
his, for he sat at the feet of Gamaliel, the greatest 
Jewish teacher of his time, and not only a great Jewish 
teacher, but a great man as well, as appears from the 
fragments of his teaching that are left to us. 


He sat at the feet of Gamaliel; and at the feet of 
Gamaliel he seems to have made wonderful progress 
in the development of his ardent and enthusiastic re- 
ligious spirit; for he states that he made progress in 
Judaism beyond all those of his own age, and was 
looked upon as the most promising of the rising young 
men among the Jews. 

There is no doubt whatever that Paul was a man 
of ambition. His ambition was of a very lofty sort. 
There is not the slightest evidence that there was ever 
a spot or stain upon his^moral character. His ambition 
was to attain the highest legal and moral standing; 
there was a constant effort at the doing of works of 
righteousness; he sought to gain the applause of his 
own conscience, and whatever earthly influence and 
power might accrue as the result of a noble and un- 
blemished moral development. 

There was in the character of the apostle Paul a 
remarkable union of energy and quickness of mind. 
He had not only acuteness of intellect, but with it 
firmness of will. He was not only a thoroughly blame- 
less man in moral character, but a person possessed 
of an ardent and impetuous nature. He was a man 
of the warmest and deepest affection; and this union 
of intellectual power and emotional power is perceptible 
in every writing and in every speech which is left to us. 

The apostle Paul was a great man by nature and a 
great man by training. He was a great man because 
in his mental composition there was not simply the in- 
tellectual element, but there was also the emotional ele- 
ment. He was greater than Peter, because he had a 
greater intellect than Peter ever had. He was a 


greater man than John, because he had greater strength 
and energy of will than ever John possessed. And so 
by his character and natural composition of mind and 
heart, as well as by his birth and education, he was 
fitted for the special work which God had ordained for 
him, to be a bridge between the Jews and the Gentiles, 
fitted for the work of extending the Jewish religion, 
of freeing it from its husks, and making it the universal 
religion of the world. The apostle Paul was wonder- 
fully fitted by natural temperament and by education 
for the peculiar work that God gave him to do; and 
yet, even though he united Roman citizenship with 
Greek culture and Jewish legalism, he never could have 
done the work that he did; he would at most have 
been famous as a liberal rabbi among the Jews; his 
fame would have been a narrow and local fame, if it 
had not been for that wonderful change that came over 
him on his way to Damascus, that wonderful change 
which turned the ardent and enthusiastic Jew into the 
greatest preacher of the gospel that this world has 
ever seen. 

It would seem that at his thirtieth year Paul entered 
public life. It was at that time, apparently, that, in 
response to an inward impulse to do more than he 
had ever done hitherto, he undertook the persecution 
of the Christians. This impulse to do more than he had 
ever done, this longing to work out a righteousness 
of his own which should commend him to God, was 
parallel to that impulse that possessed the mind of 
Luther during so many years; and it would seem 
almost as if this impulse, this sense of dissatisfaction 
with himself, this desire to do something more than 


he had ever done before, led him to seek an enterprise 
that had in it hazard and also something of faith; a 
perverted faith. In other words, he would prove that 
he was a Jew beyond all other Jews by his determined 
opposition to everything in the way of heresy, the new 
religion; and so he sought from the high priest the 
letters to Damascus, in which he was authorized to 
apprehend Christians and to bring them by force to 
the holy city for trial and punishment. But before that 
mission was executed an event took place which un- 
questionably had permanent influence upon the apostle's 
mind, and that was the martyrdom of Stephen. 

Although Paul does not appear to have been an 
active participant in that martyrdom, as he only held 
the clothes of those who were stoning Stephen to 
death, yet there was something on the appealing face 
of that martyr as he looked up to heaven, something in 
that cry of Stephen, " Lord, receive my spirit," some- 
thing in the calm with which the man who was just 
on the verge of death rejoiced in the presence of Christ 
and in the assurance that his spirit was going to be 
with him in glory; there was something in that scene 
which stirred the apostle's mind after Stephen's death, 
although he was not an apostle then, and which appar- 
ently all the way on that journey to Damascus was 
agitating his soul with the feeling that all was not 
right within, and was preparing the way for the mani- 
festation of Christ's power to him in -that supernatural 
light from heaven. 

As he was nearing Damascus he was stricken down 
by a light that was brighter than the light of the sun ; 
he heard a voice saying to him, " Saul, Saul, why 


persecutest thou me? " and he cried, " Who art thou, 
Lord ? " The answer was, " I am Jesus whom thou 
persecutest; it is hard for thee to kick against the 
pricks," hard for thee to resist this inner stirring of the 
Holy Spirit, hard for thee to go on in this everlasting 
struggle of will against conscience. So a wonderful 
change took place. He bowed himself to this Christ, 
whose followers he had been persecuting; and the 
evidence of his submission was these words : " Lord, 
what wilt thou have me to do ? I hear thy voice, from 
this instant I give myself to thee " ; and the answer 
was that he was to go into the city, and it should be 
told him what he should do. There have been mani- 
fold attempts to explain this transaction upon natural- 
istic grounds. The two chief explanations that have 
been given are the explanations of Baur and Renan. 

Baur would explain the outward from the inward, 
and he says that it was simply an intense and sudden 
conviction of the truth of Christian religion and of 
Christ's spiritual presence, that Paul translated into 
an outward scene and an outward event. The whole 
transaction was within. Unfortunately, we cannot 
translate the inward into the outward here, because 
this experience was not peculiar to the apostle alone. 
His companions with him heard the sound, heard the 
voice, though they could not understand the words. 
And Baur himself, at a later period in his life, was 
obliged to confess that the conversion of the apostle 
Paul and the effects that followed from it constitute 
an inexplicable psychological enigma, which is simply 
an acknowledgment that he has no answer or explana- 
tion to give. 


Renan, on the other hand, would explain the inward 
from the outward, and he tells us that there was a 
sudden storm, that there was a flash of lightning, or 
that there was a sudden access of ophthalmic fever, 
which Paul took as a scene from heaven. Unfortu- 
nately for this explanation, it is utterly impossible for 
any mere outward event or scene, any mere outward 
transaction of that sort to explain the inward effects 
that followed. No ordinary sickness, no ophthalmic 
fever, no flash of lightning, no storm, would ever of 
itself be sufficient to change the persecutor of the 
Christian church into the greatest advocate of Christian 
religion that the world has seen; and the apostle Paul 
gives us very distinctly to understand that he knew 
the difference between inward and outward experi- 
ences. He was not the man to translate inward ex- 
periences into outward ones, nor outward into inward 
ones; because, on another occasion, when there was a 
very peculiar experience and he was caught up into 
the third heaven, he tells us, " Whether I was in the 
body or out of the body I know not." That transac- 
tion was one which he could not explain, but his ex- 
perience on the way to Damascus was very different. 
Then he saw the living, risen Christ in bodily form, for 
he tells us afterward that, last of all Christ's appear- 
ances to his disciples after his resurrection, the Lord 
was seen of him also, and that constituted his authority 
in his apostleship. 

It was necessary, in order to be an apostle, that one 
should have seen the risen Christ, and so should be a 
credible witness of his resurrection. All the apostles 
had seen Jesus Christ in bodily form after he had risen 


from the dead. Nothing but the seeing of the living, 
risen Christ would ever have enabled such a mono- 
theist as Paul to talk about Christ as being the fulness 
of the Godhead, bodily. Paul knew the difference 
between a vision and an outward, bodily manifestation 
of Christ; and he has maintained the distinction be- 
tween those two with perfect accuracy and uniformity 
throughout all his writings. 

This outward manifestation had a wonderful effect 
upon Paul. The inward experience, the revelation of 
his sin was only the accompaniment of Christ's out- 
ward revelation of himself to Paul. In the first place, 
this visible manifestation of the heavenly purity, that 
was ineffably glorious beyond the brightness of the 
sun, was the death-blow to all Paul's hope of legal 
righteousness. The instant he saw this Christ in his 
divinely holy manifestation he was like Isaiah of old, 
who, in the presence of the holiness of Christ, as we 
are told in John 12 : 41, put himself in the position of 
the leper and cried, " Unclean, unclean ! " and in the 
position of Peter, who, when the power of Jesus was 
manifested to him, cried : " Depart from me, O Lord, 
for I am a sinful man! " 

From that moment all idea of ever commending 
himself to the holy God by any works of righteous- 
ness that he had done or could do was dispelled for- 
ever; and in the place of hope that he could do any- 
thing or claim anything good in his imperfection and 
in his sin, there arose in his mind a new conception of 
the sacrifice for sin. Those old Jewish types in which 
he had been educated assumed an entirely new signifi- 
cance; this Jesus, whom he had been persecuting as a 


false teacher, was the Messiah, was the Christ, was the 
divinely appointed sacrifice for sin, was God himself 
coming in human form and offering sacrifices for sin, 
to exhibit his justice and make possible the salvation 
of the lost. 

Paul sees the sin, Paul sees the sacrifice for sin, and 
then Paul sees who this is that has offered this sac- 
rifice: it is none other than the Son. of God, the 
Saviour of the world, God manifest in the flesh. In 
connection with this there arises in his mind the idea 
of the universality of the salvation. If God has offered 
this sacrifice, if this Christ is the God offered upon the 
altar of sacrifice for human sin, then the validity of 
this sacrifice must be universal, not simply to the Jews, 
but to all the nations of mankind. 

So from this point must be dated not only Paul's con- 
version, but also Paul's calling to his apostleship and 
to his work in the world, and to his understanding of 
the nature and meaning of that work. He comes, lit- 
tle by little, to see that God has called him to be an 
apostle to the heathen world, and he devotes himself 
to missionary labors. A man not strong in his phy- 
sique, and with a malady upon him which requires the 
constant attendance of the physician Luke, he, not- 
withstanding, with a perfectly indefatigable zeal, with 
an absoluteness of devotion such as the world never saw 
before or since, devotes himself to the evangelization 
of the world. 

He goes out in successive missionary journeys in 
wider and wider circles. First, a narrow circle through 
Asia Minor, then a wider circle through Asia Minor, 
and finally another one through Asia Minor into 


Greece. From Corinth he looks out wistfully toward 
Rome, the center and metropolis of the world ; and he 
longs there, among the masters of the world, to preach 
this gospel of Jesus Christ. 

There is something magnificent in this life of the 
apostle! I do not wonder that Doctor Peabody, of 
Harvard College, when he attended, not long ago, the 
centennial celebration of the birth of Adoniram Judson, 
in Maiden, Massachusetts, said in the pulpit that 
Doctor Judson, in his judgment, was the greatest man 
that had appeared on this earth since the days of the 
apostle Paul. 

I wonder that it did not occur to Doctor Peabody, 
with his unwillingness to grant the absolute deity of 
Jesus Christ, I wonder that it did not occur to him 
that Unitarianism has never produced such a man as 
Judson, or such a man as Paul, and that the spirit of 
Unitarianism is a different spirit from the spirit of 
either Judson or Paul. 

There was a doctrine to preach, now that Paul had 
found Christ. There was a doctrine to preach, now 
that Paul had come to recognize Jesus as the living 
God, and it was a doctrine for which he could sacri- 
fice life itself when, at last, he went to his martyrdom 
at Rome. 

I cannot tell the other steps of his life-story, and 
it is not necessary for my purpose; but how perfectly 
plain it is that when Paul comes to write his Epistles, 
all his natural character and all his Christian experience 
are wrought into them. These Epistles are Epistles 
of fellowship, you might say. The apostle does not 
stand upon a lofty elevation and talk down to those 


whom he is addressing, but puts himself, so to speak, 
upon their level. They are letters of friendship. 

I wish the word " letters " could be substituted for 
the word " Epistles," as applied to Paul's communica- 
tions to the churches; for they are letters of Christian 
fellowship ; and underneath and through them all there 
is the life of the apostle, so to speak, and the assur- 
ance that the Holy Spirit is with him in his speaking. 
There is constantly present and constantly manifest 
the throbbing of a warm and sincere heart, as well as 
the working of an energetic and organizing intellect. 

It is necessary to say a word with regard to the 
church at Rome, to which this Epistle to the Romans 
was addressed. Rome, of course, was the greatest 
city and the greatest center of power in the world; 
and Paul, as he looked off toward the West and knew 
that from that city the greatest influences must ema- 
nate in future time, for the welfare of the nations to 
which he was called to minister, had longed for years 
that he might preach the gospel there also. But church 
after church was laid upon him, constituting a new 
burden of anxiety and care; and the personal rela- 
tions between himself and those converted under his 
ministry were kept up year after year, so that he could 
speak of the burden of all the churches as one of the 
heavy things laid upon him by God. And yet his heart 
goes out beyond the churches to which he has per- 
sonally ministered; and since he cannot instruct the 
Romans in their great center of influence and power 
by personal work and words, he feels it a duty to give 
them the gospel by written instruction, and so the 
Epistle to the Romans is written. 


Paul, of course, was not the founder of the Roman 
church. Some have said that it was founded by those 
Jews and proselytes of Rome who were present at 
the day of Pentecost, and who went back, bringing the 
glad news to their fellow countrymen ; but with regard 
to that there may be considerable doubt. It seems 
very likely to me that the church at Rome was founded 
by Gentile converts that had made their way there from 
Asia Minor, just as, at an earlier time, they had made 
their way to Antioch and afterward to Alexandria. 

The tradition that Peter was the founder of the 
church at Rome is decisively negatived by this very 
Epistle of Paul. This Epistle of Paul cuts absolutely 
at the root of the historical basis of the papacy, be- 
cause it is perfectly evident in this Epistle that Paul 
knows nothing of any previous work of Peter there. 
In all the salutations there is no allusion to Peter ; and 
if the Epistle to the Romans had been written to a 
church of which such a person as the apostle Peter 
had been the founder, we may be sure there would have 
been an allusion to Peter's work and teaching. Letters 
of apostolic instruction to churches founded by other 
apostles were not according to Paul's rule. He never 
built upon another man's foundation. It was always 
new work that he did. 

There is no reason to believe that Peter had ever 
seen Rome when this Epistle to the Romans was 
written, and therefore no reason to believe that the 
apostle Peter was ever a founder of the Roman church. 
Peter, if he ever did visit Rome, visited it after this 
time. It is just possible that after this time he may 
have visited it, and that he may have founded a church 


there; and the fact that the succession of Roman 
bishops presents a double list at the very beginning 
may possibly be explained in this way : that there were 
two churches in Rome, and that the bishops of the one 
were bishops or pastors of the church to which Paul 
wrote, and the others were pastors of the church in 
whose foundation Peter was concerned. But even with 
regard to this there is no certainty at all. It is by no 
means certain that the apostle Peter ever visited Rome 
at all. 

We do know, however, with regard to this church 
at Rome to which the apostle Paul wrote, that it was 
a church prevailingly of Gentile Christians, persons 
that were brought in from among the Gentiles and 
not from among the Jews. And yet they had with 
them, doubtless, many who were converts from among 
the Jews also. While the letter shows that the ma- 
jority of believers among them were Gentile Christians, 
yet at the same time we cannot deny that there were 
also among them converts from among the Jews, and 
it was from the fact that there were those two classes 
in the church that one of the particular necessities of 
writing the Epistle arose. There were diversities of 
opinion between these two classes, and one of the 
objects of Paul's writing was to reconcile these two, 
bring about a compromise, induce a spirit of material 
consideration and helpfulness between them; and the 
fifteenth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans is written 
expressly with this aim. 

The letter itself was probably written from Corinth, 
in the year 56, as Paul was on his third missionary 
journey, and was just preparing to go to Jerusalem; 


and, therefore, before his imprisonment at Csesarea and 
during those three months of comparative leisure and 
rest when Paul was at Corinth, when he had succeeded 
in reducing the difficulties and troubles of the Corin- 
thian church and had, apparently, a period of rest and 
relaxation preparatory to the great trials that were 
just before him in his imprisonment at Jerusalem, his 
imprisonment at Csesarea, and his trial at Rome. 

So we come to what we have been aiming at all the 
time: the object of the Epistle to the Romans. What 
was the object of this Epistle? I have indicated that 
there were subsidiary objects, such as the reconcilia- 
tion of these diverse opinions between Jew and Gentile 
Christians. Undoubtedly there were such subsidiary 
objects as this; and still, I think, when you look at the 
Epistle as a whole, you cannot doubt that Paul seized 
upon Rome and the writing of the Epistle to the 
Romans as a means of setting forth in more philosoph- 
ical, more organic, and more complete form than ever 
had been attained heretofore, the gospel which he 

The facts of Christianity were at this time pub- 
lished for the most part only in an oral gospel, al- 
though our Mark, and the sayings of Jesus which Mat- 
thew incorporated, were already written. Paul was 
not so much concerned about putting these facts into 
written form, although a little later it would seem that 
he had some influence in the composition of Luke's 
Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. But Paul was 
not a witness of the events of Jesus' life, and, more- 
over, Paul was called as an apostle after Jesus' death, 
with an obvious end in view. It was not without a 


purpose that Paul had not been with Jesus Christ all 
through his life. He could see the life of our Lord as 
a whole, in a way that the first apostles could not. 

It was necessary that the Gospels should be written 
by eye-witnesses and by those who had seen the eye- 
witnesses; but it was also necessary that a beginning 
should be made in reducing Christianity to a system. 
In this organizing of Christian facts into doctrine, the 
writer needed to be conversant with the results rather 
than with the events themselves. It was necessary, 
in other words, that Paul should have his peculiar 
mind and his peculiar religious and philosophical train- 
ing in order to write the Epistle to the Romans, and 
the Epistle itself is therefore a semi-philosophical ex- 
position of the Pauline Gospel. 

We have here the summary of Christian doctrine as 
it appeared to the apostle Paul. Paul was perfectly 
capable of doing this, and he had special preparation 
for it. This will be more evident, I think, when you 
remember that in Ephesus, for two years, every single 
day Paul lectured in the school of the rhetorician 
Tyrannus. Can you imagine a man of the skill of 
Paul lecturing for two whole years, every single day, 
without having any plan for his discourses ? You may 
be very sure that, in the mind of the apostle as he 
discussed these things, there was an order and a sys- 
tem. When he came to write the Epistle to the 
Romans all this was ready to his hand.- As he wrote, 
it was inevitable that his material should be molded 
by his individual characteristics and training, and by 
the special purpose he had in preaching and lecturing 
about the gospel of Christ. And so we have in this 


Epistle to the Romans an exposition of the truth of 
Christianity as it was preached by the apostle Paul. 

But this does not absolve us from the necessity of 
showing what was the particular end and aim of this 
Epistle. Christianity was a broad thing. It took all 
the apostles to see Christianity and see Christ aright. 
Christianity and Christ were many-sided, and not one 
apostle, but all the apostles together were needed to 
see them in their various aspects. The apostle Paul 
represents Christ from his point of view, and that 
point of view is the doctrine of faith as opposed to the 
doctrine of works. The subject of the Epistle to the 
Romans is salvation by faith in distinction from salva- 
tion by works. 

Right here there is an important remark which I 
wish to make, and which may correct some misappre- 
hension you have had in the past. It is often said 
that the subject of this Epistle is justification by faith. 
That is only a part of the truth. To say that the sub- 
ject of the Epistle to the Romans is justification by 
faith is to narrow our conception of the apostle Paul 
and his ideas of Christianity. 

When you look at the Epistle to the Romans as a 
whole, you find that although the doctrine of justifica- 
tion by faith is one of the largest parts of it, it is 
only a part. The subject of the Epistle to the Romans 
js salvation by faith; and salvation by faith consists 
of two things: first, justification by faith; and, sec- 
ondly, sanctification by faith. First, bringing in of 
the ship safe; and then, secondly, the making of it 
sound. It is one thing to bring the ship in after a 
tempest and moor it safely to the dock that is justifi- 


cation; but it is quite another thing to see that that 
ship is thoroughly repaired that is sanctification. 

Now the totality of salvation is the subject of the 
Epistle. Justification first, the securing of a new ac- 
cess to God, pardon, the remission of sin, outward 
favor, external justification; and then the renewal of 
the heart, the increase of right affections, the subduing 
of the whole man to obedience to Christ, and filling 
him with peace and joy, internal sanctification. 

The whole man is included, and all God does for 
man is in view when the apostle writes. So you find 
that after Paul has introduced his letter with an apos- 
tolic introduction, and has defined his subject as the 
righteousness which God provides by faith, he goes on, 
first, to speak from the first chapter and seventeenth 
verse to the fifth chapter and eleventh verse, inclusive, 
of justification by faith ; and then from the fifth chapter 
and twelfth verse to the end of the eighth chapter, of 
sanctification by faith. If this is all by faith, how can 
we explain God's calling of the Jews in times past, 
God's election, and their rejection? Two explanatory 
chapters, the ninth and tenth, are added to make that 
matter clear, and to show that the Jews have been cast 
off because of their own wilful unbelief, and that the. 
Gentiles have been brought in in the fulness of God's 
mercy. And then, after this salvation by faith as com- 
ing from God has been set forth in its two parts of 
justification and sanctification, we have the ethical 
portion of the Epistle, with which the twelfth chapter 
begins ; that wonderful portion^ which tells us how this 
gospel will manifest itself in practical life, and Chris- 
tian perfection will reveal itself to the world. 


" I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies 
of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, 
holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable 
service." What a source of gratitude that this doc- 
trine is not a mere abstraction, not a matter of mere 
theory, but that it leads to a holy life ! What that life 
will be is explained from the beginning of the twelfth 
chapter, and the rest of the Epistle is ethical as the 
first eleven chapters have been doctrinal. 

Under the first head of justification by faith it was 
necessary for the apostle to show that such a thing 
was needed, because ho one could ever be justified in 1 
any other way; and so, from the eighteenth verse of I 
the first chapter to the twentieth verse of the third * 
chapter, he shows the need of a divinely provided 
righteousness by proving that man could not work out 
any such righteousness by himself. The wrath of God 
rested both upon Gentiles and upon Jews. 

See how Paul is simply reproducing his own experi- 
ence, and is applying to all men just that truth of 
which he had been deeply conscious in his own soul; 
and having proved this, he says that God has provided 
a righteousness, a righteousness in Christ who is made 
an atonement for sin. Then you have the way in 
which the giving of this gospel to man absolutely ex- 
cludes boasting and self-praise ; and the proof that, even 
under the Old Testament, the law of salvation was 
precisely the same. Abraham was saved by faith just 
as we are. He cast himself upon the mercy of God 
when he had no righteousness of his own. There is 
something wonderful in this presentation of the gospel 
of Christ. 


The great difference between men is not that one 
man is a sinner and the other is not. We are all 
sinners and we are shut up in sin. The question is 
quite a different one from that. Are you willing to 
recognize the fact that you are a sinner, that you are 
condemned and helpless and lost, dependent upon the 
free grace of God in Jesus Christ for your salvation? 
Are you willing to trust this provision of God's mercy 
which he has made in Jesus Christ? If you will not, 
if you set up your own righteousness and pride and 
trust to that, then you are surely lost, and just as 
surely lost as that you live to-day. There is the differ- 
ence. He that will acknowledge himself to be a lost 
sinner and depend upon the atonement of the Lord 
Jesus Christ, his crucified God, for salvation, is saved. 
If he is in a heathen land, and casts himself upon God's 
mercy, he can be saved even though he may not know 
of the name of the Christ who saves him. 

There is a great deal of difference between heathen 
morality and Christian morality. Heathenism is man's 
vain effort to lift himself up to God. Judaism had in it 
something of the heathen element, and just so far as it 
had, Paul rejected it and cast it out. But while heathen- 
ism is man's vain effort to lift himself to God, Chris- 
tianity is God's coming down to man and lifting him 
up to himself. Heathenism is the work of man's self- 
righteousness and pride; Christianity is the humble 
reception of salvation as the free gift of infinite grace 
to a lost sinner through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Now the object of the apostle Paul, his great object 
in writing the Epistle to the Romans, was to set forth 
this truth of universal significance, this truth which is 


an article of standing or falling faith, of standing or 
falling salvation ; and I have tried to set before you, in 
a very imperfect way, the order of its treatment. It 
simply carries out the one great aim to which the apos- 
tle Paul devoted his life, though he had been prepared 
for it by his own inner experience, namely, the aim of 
proclaiming to the whole world the gospel of salva- 
tion by faith, a salvation which included both justifica- 
tion and sanctification. 

It is very remarkable that the apostle Paul, who, be- 
fore his conversion, was the greatest enemy of Chris- 
tianity, has become the founder of the great majority 
of Christian churches, for the churches that were 
founded by the Twelve have died out. Paul is the 
principal author of the New Testament; for, including 
Luke and Acts, which were probably written under his 
supervision and with his sanction, the major part of 
the New Testament may be attributed to Paul. Chris- 
tian doctrine owes more to him than to all the other 
twelve apostles put together; and this Epistle to the 
Romans is the summary of Christian doctrine as given 
us by the apostle Paul. 

Coleridge said of this Epistle to the Romans that 
it was the profoundest work in existence. Godet 
calls it the very cathedral of the Christian faith. It is 
the magna charta of our religion ; and it is a wonder- 
ful proof that God can take even his enemies and can 
make them praise him. How can you explain this 
except by the supernatural power and grace of God ? 

There was a man named Julian who was educated 
as a Christian and professed Christianity; and then, 
under the influence of the Platonic philosophy, he gave 


up his faith and spent all his days and all his influence 
(for he was emperor of the East) in waging war with 
the Christianity he had once professed. But at the 
last he felt that Christianity was too much for him, 
and with his dying breath he exclaimed, in agony and 
despair, " O Nazarene, thou hast conquered ! " And 
here was the apostle Paul who, being the persecutor of 
Christianity, turned to Christ and became the greatest 
power in the world. 

No other man has exercised in this world such in- 
fluence as the apostle Paul, and that influence is bene- 
ficial beyond all expression to-day. Ah, let us not be 
broken like Julian, but let us bow like Paul ! 


THE city of Corinth, where the church was situated 
to which Paul wrote the letter, or the letters, which we 
are to consider this morning, was a place that had been 
wealthy and famous ever since the time of Homer. 
It was situated upon the isthmus, or just at the isthmus, 
that connected the Peloponnesus with the northern part 
of Greece. This isthmus constituted a sort of bridge 
from the south to the north, and from the north to the 
south ; and all who went from the north to the south, or 
from the south to the north, by land, must necessarily 
go across it. This of itself made Corinth a place of 
great commercial importance ; but then, besides that, it 
was situated between two seas. There was the port of 
Cenchrea on the east and the port of Lechseum on the 
west, both of which were the seaports of Corinth ; and 
all the traffic from Asia to the West at one time passed 
through Corinth. It was much easier for the navigator 
and avoided doubling those difficult and dangerous 
capes at the south of the Peloponnesus; and so his 
goods were transferred from one ship to another, and 
the traffic made its way by sea. 

I do not know that even this situation at the isthmus 
would have determined the rank and importance of 
Corinth if it had not been that it was marvelously 
furnished by way of defense. The earliest settlements 
have been determined by possibilities of defense. I 
suppose that the earliest Scotch settlements were at 



Edinburgh simply because Edinburgh has a natural 
fortress, a great bluff, which could be easily defended. 
Just so the Acropolis at Athens determined the very 
early settlement at Athens, and just so at Corinth there 
was a great hill or bluff, higher than Gibraltar and 
quite as steep, one thousand, nine hundred feet high, 
which rose close to the sea, at the foot of which the city 
was built. This great bluff, or Acropolis, constituted 
a sort of a natural fortress and defense for the city. 

Here were celebrated the Isthmian games, at which 
the enterprising of northern and southern Greece con- 
tended for the prize. Corinth was a city of great mag- 
nificence and splendor until the year 146 before Christ, 
when the Romans swept over Greece and the Consul 
Mummius took the city, totally destroyed it, and car- 
ried back from it to Rome the richest spoil that had 
ever been brought from the East. For one hundred 
years Corinth remained in perfect desolation, until at 
last, in the year 44 before Christ, Julius Caesar rebuilt 
the city. He peopled it with a colony of Italian freed- 
men ; and it is very curious that we meet, in the refer- 
ences to Corinth in the New Testament, a remarkable 
number of Latin names, which look exceedingly curious 
as you see them masquerading in Greek dress. The 
names, for example, of Caius, Quartus, Fortunatus, 
Crispus, and Justus are all of them Latin and yet they 
take the Greek form. 

The colony of Julius Caesar very -rapidly grew. Mer- 
chants flocked to it. The Jews came there to trade, 
and the city had a marvelous growth, a growth that 
was like the growth of our Western American towns. 
From nothing, in one hundred years it had grown to 


be a city of six hundred thousand inhabitants, of 
whom two hundred thousand were freedmen and four 
hundred thousand were slaves. 

It not only grew in numbers, in wealth, and magnifi- 
cence (for here were situated those temples built of 
stone to which Paul alludes in his First Epistle to the 
Corinthians), but it was also celebrated for its school 
of rhetoric and philosophy. There were workshops 
and studios, and all the evidences of exceedingly busy 
and active life ; but with all the literary and philosoph- 
ical advantages of the place, with all its schools for 
rhetoric and oratory, there was also an esoteric luxury 
and licentiousness. Corinth was one of the very worst 
cities of the ancient world. 

From the top of that Acrocorinthus of Corinth, one 
thousand, nine hundred feet high, there shone far off 
upon the ^gean Sea and upon all the surrounding 
country of Greece, the magnificent temple of Venus, 
where a thousand priestesses were consecrated every 
year to immorality ; and the names " Corinthian ban- 
quet," " Corinthian drinker," and " Corinthian girl " 
were synonyms for all that was defiled and base. It 
was in Corinth, you remember, a little later than the 
time of which we are speaking to-day; it was in Corinth 
and with the sights of Corinth before him that the 
apostle Paul wrote the first chapter of his Epistle to 
the Romans, with its terrible list of the infamous do- 
ings of the heathen. It was here that the gospel was to 
make its inroads ; it was here to be determined whether 
the gospel of Christ was as able to subdue and to bring 
under its dominion the license of the heathen as it was 
to subdue and put away the Judaistic yoke. That first 


entrance of Christianity into Corinth was forever 
memorable. More is told us with regard to the begin- 
nings of the church in Corinth than in regard to the 
beginnings of the church in almost any other place. 
Here was a city in many respects like our modern cities, 
a city of exceedingly intense commercial life, a money- 
getting and a pleasure-loving place, a place that was at 
once exceedingly vicious and exceedingly refined. 
What a question it was, whether the gospel of our Lord 
Jesus Christ could win triumphs in such a city as this ! 

It was in the year 52 of our era, twenty-four years 
after the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, and at 
about the forty-fifth year of the apostle's life, toward 
the close of his second missionary journey, or during 
his second missionary journey, that the apostle Paul 
first found his way into the city of Corinth. This 
great immoral city was entered by Paul as a solitary 
tent-maker. We do not know that he had a single 
friend or a single acquaintance in the place. All we 
know is that he found a certain Jew by the name of 
Aquila, who, with Priscilla his wife, had been ban- 
ished from Rome by the Emperor Claudius. A de- 
cree had been passed expelling the Jews from Rome; 
Aquila and Priscilla, his wife, found their way to 
Corinth, and here they began work at their trade. 
Their trade was the same as Paul's. 

Every Jew, however high-born he might be, how- 
ever well-to-do he might be, was taught his trade. It 
was said among the Jews that he that did not teach his 
child a trade did teach him to steal; and so Paul all 
through his missionary life was dependent, at least at 
times, upon the work of his own hands. He went into 


the workshop with Aquila; he sat side by side with 
him, we may believe; he worked with him upon the 
same bench, and won him to the faith of the gospel. 
This was the slight beginning of the great church of 

After a little, Paul was emboldened to go into the 
synagogue and preach Christ there. His spirit was 
stirred within him; he was under a sort of transport; 
the Holy Spirit moved him mightily to speak for Christ 
to those of his own nation. He had just come from 
Athens. His mission at Athens had been a sort of 
..failure. He had preached to the philosophers, and the 
philosophers had turned a deaf ear to the gospel mes- 
sage. He was over-burdened; he was full of care; 
he felt his powerlessness and helplessness to contend 
with the great powers of this world and the evil of 
man ; he tells the Corinthians that when he came among 
them he resolved that he would know nothing but 
Jesus Christ and him crucified. In other words, he 
would not trust to human philosophy, he would not 
trust to human oratory, he would not trust to elo- 
quence, he would not trust to speculation ; but he would 
declare with the utmost simplicity the truths of the 
life of Christ, and would trust to the power of God 
alone to give effect to his words. 

He entered the synagogue, he proclaimed Christ; 
and a few serious hearts were deeply impressed and 
were gained for the Christian faith. Crispus, the ruler 
of the synagogue, was one of them. But Paul's preach- 
ing ere long provoked violent antagonism from the 
Jews. It was impossible for him to continue his work 
there ; and declaring that he would turn to the Gentiles, 



he left the synagogue and began his preaching in a 
house close by, belonging to a Gentile proselyte named 
Justus; and there, from that time, the meetings of 
the church were held. Large numbers from the middle 
and lower classes of the population, both Jews and 
Gentiles, but mainly from the Gentiles, were brought 
into the Corinthian church. 

Paul labored there for a whole year and a half; and 
when at last the Jews, provoked by his success, sought 
to arouse a tumult against him and brought him before 
Gallio, the proconsul, who was, you remember, an 
exceedingly moderate and equitable man, the brother 
of Seneca, a philosopher of Rome, Gallio declared he 
would have nothing to do with these matters, and 
drove them from the judgment-seat; but Paul, antici- 
pating further difficulty and hindrance in his work, 
and thinking it best, temporarily at least, to depart, 
made his way to Asia Minor and on toward Jerusalem. 

After this departure of Paul, we know little with 
regard to what happened in the Corinthian church ex- 
cept by way of inference. It seems that a man by the 
name of Apollos, a Jew of Alexandria, a man who was 
eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures, but who had 
never been fully instructed with regard to the Chris- 
tian scheme, who knew Christianity only from what 
he had heard from the disciples of John the Baptist, 
came to Ephesus and began to preach the gospel there. 
Aquila and Priscilla had, in the meantime, made their 
way across the ^Egean Sea to Ephesus and were resi- 
ding there. When they heard Apollos expounding the 
truth as he understood it, they, having had better in- 
struction from the lips of Paul, saw that Apollos needed 


i8 7 

further light; and they began to expound the gospel 
to him as they had heard it from the apostle Paul. 
Apollos, learned and eloquent as he was, seems to have 
been a docile hearer. Priscilla was apparently the one 
who did the most of the talking and preaching to 
Apollos; for you find that Priscilla's name is a num- 
ber of times mentioned first, as if she were the one 
who, by her sympathy and by her interest in Apollos, 
had done the most to bring him to a better understand- 
ing of the Christian faith. 

After Apollos had been thus instructed, these new 
friends and instructors of his thought there was an 
excellent opportunity for him to do work for Christ in 
the Corinthian church; so they sent him with letters 
over to Corinth, and Apollos supplemented there the 
work of Paul. 

It is easy to see that Apollos was a man of different 
mold from Paul. Paul had preached with the utmost 
simplicity ; Paul had preached fundamental truth ; Paul 
had not used the arts of oratory or the methods of 
philosophy ; those whom he had gained he had gained 
simply by a deep inward conviction of the truth. The 
preaching of Apollos was more showy than that of 
Paul. It won a new class of persons, a class of per- 
sons, we may believe, who were not so thoughtful, who 
were not so thoroughly instructed when they came into 
the Christian church. They were more commonly 
from the class that had been accustomed to attend the 
heathen schools of oratory. It was a more superficial 
impression that was made upon them. The eloquence 
of Apollos and the philosophical art with which he ex- 
pounded the Scriptures made its impression upon them. 


The result was that a different class of persons, to 
some extent, was brought into the Corinthian church; 
and naturally those who were later brought in, under 
the influence of Apollos, and who had known very little 
with regard to the preaching of Paul, were inclined 
to pay great respect to the new preacher, under whose 
influence they had received the gospel. And as they 
found some differences of temperament and of feeling, 
and some differences of method between the older 
.members of the church and themselves, it was very 
(natural that there should spring up a party feeling in 
jthe church and that some should say : " I am of Paul ; 
I am one of the constituent members of the church; I 
am one of those who were brought in under the origi- 
nal preaching of the great apostle " ; and then the others 
would say : " I belong to the party of Apollos ; I was 
brought in under the influence of this great and elo- 
quent preacher of the gospel." 

We have no reason to believe that this party division 
was encouraged by Apollos himself. We have every 
reason, on the other hand, to believe that it was not; 
but Apollos speedily took his departure, and the result 
was that there were two parties left in the church, 
which, to a certain extent, began to antagonize one 
another. We read also of a party of Cephas. Some 
think there was a visit of the apostle Peter to the 
church ; but I do not know that we can be certain with 
regard to it. Then we read of a party of Christ. 
Some think there were emissaries from Jerusalem, who 
claimed to have special relations to Christ, and to 
have more authority even than the original Twelve. At 
any rate, it is perfectly plain that after a few years the 


church at Corinth was divided into parties, and that 
party strife and party feeling had already done much 
to hinder the work of the gospel. 

It was at this time, about five years after the original 
foundation of the church, in the spring of the year 57, 
that Paul, after having been to Jerusalem, started out 
on his third missionary journey and came to Ephesus. 
At Ephesus he remained for two or three years. He 
lectured daily in the school of the rhetorician Tyrannus. 
Toward the close of that time the church in Corinth, 
in perplexity with regard to some matters which they 
did not know how to decide for themselves, sent a 
letter to the apostle Paul, asking for his advice, but 
not mentioning all the real difficulties that existed in 
the church. That letter, however, was supplemented 
by the information that was given by a woman named 
Chloe, a member of the church at Cenchrea, who came 
across to Ephesus, and who informed the apostle Paul 
with regard to other troubles in the church which 
needed the exercise of his apostolic authority; and 
Paul, feeling that there was great danger of all the 
fruits of his year and a half's labor being swept away, 
sat down and wrote to the church at Corinth the First 
Epistle to the Corinthians that great Epistle which is 
next to the Epistle to the Romans in its practical value 
for us among the Epistles of the New TestaTnent. 

The object of this Epistle was quite different 
from that which Paul had in mind when he wrote his 
Epistle to the Romans. In writing to the Romans, 
whom he had never seen and who had never heard his 
preaching, his object was to set forth in a semiphilo- 
sophical treatise the way of salvation, the doctrine of 


Christ not so much the facts of Christ's life, because 
they existed in the oral gospel, which I suppose was 
familiar to the Christians at Rome; but the way of 
salvation, the system of Christian doctrine just so far 
as it had to do with the justification and sanctification 
of man; but when Paul wrote his letters to the Cor- 
i inthians he did not need to set forth the way of salva- 
tion as he set it forth to the Romans, because he had 
preached at Corinth for a whole year and a half, and 
they were familiar with his general doctrine. 

They did need something- very different They 
needed to have particular difficulties removed. They 
needed to have some of their important questions set- 
tled; and so the Epistles to the Corinthians dealt more 
with casuistry, dealt more with questions of conscience, 
dealt more with practical matters. In other words, 
they seem to proceed from a pastoral mind and heart, 
rather than from the mind and heart of a teacher of 
doctrine; and that is the great difference between the 
Epistles to the Corinthians and the Epistle to the 
Romans. The Epistle to the Romans gives us mainly 
the doctrine of Paul. The Epistles to the Corinthians 
deal with questions of practice. Paul treats these 
questions in no superficial way, but in the most fun- 
damental way. He makes each particular difficulty, 
each particular trouble, the occasion of elucidating a 
fundamental principle, so that there is no compromi- 
sing, no settling of the case upon mere grounds of ex- 
pediency. In every instance Paul goes to the very 
root of the matter, and decides the case in such a way 
that it is a decision not only for the church of Corinth 
at that time, but a decision for all churches in all times 


thereafter. I do not mean that the exact application 
of the principle which Paul makes to the Corinthian 
church is necessarily the exact application which we are 
to make of the principle to-day; but I do mean that 
Paul, in deciding the questions that arose in the Cor- 
inthian church, gives such an exposition of the princi- 
ple that applies to that case that we, taking that same 
principle, may make our own application to the pecu- 
liar circumstances of our own day. 

Now, the First Epistle to the Corinthians treats a 
great variety of things. There are ten important and 
difficult questions with which Paul has to deal. They 
are questions so vague, and they are questions that 
require so much of wisdom to decide, that, as you re- 
view them one after another, and as you see with what 
skill, with what discretion and far-sighted wisdom the 
apostle determines them, it seems of itself to be proof 
that he was ordained and inspired by God. 

Take this matter, for example, of party spirit. 
Parties among the Corinthians had a sort of half- 
idolatrous regard for special ministers or leaders of 
the church. Paul decides all this matter by bringing 
to mind the nature of the gospel, and by showing that 
the gospel brings us into absolute allegiance to Jesus 
Christ, brings us into direct relations to the Lord. We 
have personal dealings with a personal Saviour. Chris- 
tian ministers? What are they but servants of Christ 
whose object is not to bring us into allegiance to them- 
selves, but to bring us directly to the Saviour that we 
may bow at his feet and consecrate ourselves entirely 
to him! Therefore he is the greatest minister of the 
gospel who is the most of a servant, who puts himself 


most completely out of sight. " Paul may plant, and 
Apollos may water, but it is only God who gives the 
increase." So Paul gives us a proper idea of the rela- 
tion between the minister and the church. The church 
is not to think that because it has had the advantage 
of the services of a certain minister of Christ, there- 
fore it is to give a sort of idolatrous reverence to him. 
On the other hand, it is to reverence the Lord and to 
recognize the minister as the servant of the church 
for Jesus' sake. Therefore the reverence that the 
Corinthians were tempted to give to the servant ne 
urges them to transfer to the Lord. 

Here is a principle of vast importance, of perma- 
nent application. How important the application of 
it is to-day ! How many people there are now who, in 
going into the church, go into the church as followers 
of the minister rather than as followers of Christ, and 
who, therefore, when the minister changes his place, 
are utterly lost to the church and the cause. This same 
principle which the apostle Paul has laid down to the 
early church in this Epistle to the Corinthians would 
meet very many of our church difficulties to-day. 

Now, the second great difficulty that the apostle 
Paul had to meet in the church of the Corinthians 
was the difficulty of immorality. There were three 
different immoral things with which he had to con- 
tend. There was a particular case, you know, of 
(^shameful irregularity in the case of - an incestuous 
person ; and the church is exhorted to meet together, to 
excommunicate the man, and to clear its skirts of his 
iniquity./^jThen there is the matter of lawsuits before 
heathen judges. Christians had come to take their 


disputes before the heathen tribunals, instead of show- 
ing consideration and love for one another and submit- 
ting these disputes to the brethren in the church. Q5Then 
there were matters of impurity which were the natural 
sequence of the former impure heathen life which so 
many of the Christian converts had previously led. 

Paul treats all this with the utmost discretion, with 
the utmost delicacy; and injeach case he gives us. a 
fundamentaljDrinciple which is sufficient to settle the 
wTJolefmatter and to restore harmony and union in the 

There is a question with regard to selfniejiial, a 
question with regard to meats, the use of meats of- 
fered to idols. You know, in those heathen cities, 
where there were great heathen temples, almost all the 
animals that were slain for food had, before they were 
slain, been presented at an idol temple as an offering 
to the idol. Some portion of the animal was laid upon 
the altar, or presented to the priest, and then the rest 
was taken to the market and sold. Many a Christian 
convert, especially those who were converted from 
among the Jews, had a scruple of conscience about 
eating the meat that had been consecrated to a heathen 
god, and the consciences of the weak were injured by 
the practice of some who ate such meat. 

The apostle Paul declares that although the meat 
in itself did not harm, and the mere fact that it had been 
offered at a heathen altar did not in any way harm it, 
at the same time if his eating this meat made his 
brother to offend he would not eat any more while the 
world stood. He would not set an evil example before 
another that would make him stumble and fall. Love 



r for Christ should induce him to deny himself in some 
of these things which it was perfectly right for him 
abstractly to partake of. It was almost impossible in a 
city like Corinth to get any meat at all that had not 
been offered to an idol. It was a serious practical 
question as to where one was to get this staple article 
of food, so long as he could not partake of the meat 
ffered to an idol. Paul tells us that the meat is the 
same, whether offered to an idol or not ; any man can 
partake of it so long as he does not violate the con- 
science of another; but let Christian love be the main 
determining element in the case. 

There was a matter with regard to marriage. Some 
of the Jewish converts were inclined to taboo marriage 
entirely, and to hold, in a sort of ascetic way, that it 
was a wrong thing for man to marry at all. Paul set- 
tles this matter also by declaring that marriage is a 
divine institution; that although there might be rea- 
sons which made it inexpedient to marry, there was no 
ordinance against it ; and that, moreover, in many cases 
marriage was the desirable and natural and proper 
course on the part of Christian converts. 
fyj The apostle comes to certain other cases which we 
may call cases of disordej^jn_the.-dte^hr There was a 
practice which women had, or were beginning to have, 
of coming into the assemblies of the church unveiled. 
In Corinth it was customary for women as they went 
in public to be veiled. It was the custom of the East, 
and it is the custom of the East to-day. 

When I went to Beyrout, in Syria, I attended the 
chapel of the American Mission there, and Doctor 
Thompson, the author of " The Land and the Book," 


preached a sermon. I went into the audience-room and 
sat down in one arm of an ell. The room was a 
double one, and it had two arms. The pulpit was in 
the angle between the two, and right before the pulpit, 
diagonally, was a curtain. I took my seat among Jews, 
Arabs, and Europeans, and the singing and the prayer 
proceeded. When they began to sing I found what I 
had not before suspected, that the part of the audience 
where I was, was only a small part of the number 
actually there, for beyond that curtain and in the other 
arm of the ell many women were assembled. They 
sang just as we men sang in the part of the room 
where I was, but the men could not see the women, and 
the women could not see the men. 

That was a Christian congregation, only a few years 
ago, in a city in which women and men were entirely 
separated in worship, out of respect to that old fashion 
of the East. To this day in the streets of Beyrout 
and Damascus women cannot go unveiled except at 
the risk of exposing themselves to public reproach and 
of being stoned. Now, what is true to-day in the cities 
of the East was true in Corinth at the time of the 
apostle Paul. But Christian women, possessed of the 
new freedom which belonged to them in Christ, began 
to think they might transgress some of these laws of 
discretion. They came into the assembly of the church 
unveiled, and participated in the meeting as men would 
do. Now, the apostle Paul settles that matter by re- 
ferring to the modesty and subordination of the female 
sex. He declares that it is not right for a woman to 
transgress these bounds ; and so he applies the principle 
to those times and circumstances. 


The principle of modesty and subordination is just 
as obligatory to-day as it was in the time of Paul ; but 
the application of the principle may be very different 
in our day from what it was in the days of the apostle. 
Modesty and subordination to-day may not require all 
that it required in those days. It is not a breach of 
modesty or propriety for a woman to go unveiled to- 
day in the street or in a place of public worship. It 
would be no breach of modesty or propriety to-day 
for a woman to cut her hair; but in the days of the 
apostle Paul he forbade it, because it was at that time a 
breach of the principle of modesty and subordination. 

So with regard to spiritual gifts. The apostle re- 
ukes those who are inclined to make more of the 
showy gifts than of those gifts which minister to 
public instruction. He rebukes the disorder which at- 
tended the celebration of the Lord's Supper. When 
we think that the Corinthian church, in celebrating that 
sacred ordinance, was guilty of such disorder, such 
rudeness, such want of consideration, we can hardly 
believe that it was a Christian church at all. Let us 
remember that they were half-heathen yet. They had 
come into the Christian church with many of their 
heathen habits and heathen notions, and it was a 
long time before the religion of Christ could absolutely 
sweep away these relics of a heathen past. 

Last of all, the apostle treats of the doctrine of the 
Tesurrection. Many of those who had'been accustomed 
to speculate could not understand how there could be a 
resurrection from the dead. Paul first declares the 
fact. He declares that if Christ has not risen, then our 
hope is vain ; and if Christ is risen from the dead, then 


we who belong to Christ shall also rise. Christ's resur- 
rection is the pledge of the resurrection of his people; 
and Paul tells us that that resurrection fa n rffRtirrfT- 
tion to spiritual life. We are to have a spiritual body, 
by which I suppose he means not a body which is 
spirit, which is a contradiction of terms, but a body 
t.hatjg_ perfect,, a body swift in movement as the light, 
and, notwithstanding, composed of material elements. 
The mystery of resurrection is not, by any means, 
solved, nor is it shown how the thing may be; but he 
tells us that God can and will work this wonder for his 

Now, the apostle leaves his letter to produce its 
proper result. He goes on with his work. But his 
heart is deeply burdened; he longs to know the result 
of this instruction. Will this Corinthian church obey 
his teaching? Will it give up this party spirit? Will it 
harmonize its differences and accept his doctrine ? All 
this rests like a burden upon his heart; and when the 
uproar occurs at Ephesus and drives him out, he goes 
to Troas, trying to get a little nearer to Corinth. In 
order to learn the news he sends Titus to Corinth to 
enforce his instructions. Learning nothing at Troas, 
he goes on to Macedonia. There Titus comes to him, 
bringing news that the Corinthians had received his 
letter as the very word of God; that they had excom-l 
municated the incestuous person; that they had sub- 
mitted themselves to his commands ; and that the mahij 
sources of difficulty and trouble had been removed. 

His deep anxiety was suddenly changed to over- 
flowing joy. He sits down and writes the Ser.nnH 
Epistle to the Corinthians at Philippi, about six months 


after the first had been written. In that Second Epistle 
to the Corinthians the very heart of the apostle Paul 
pours itself out in gratitude and love, and in thanks-, 
giving to God for what he had wrought in the church 
of Corinth. After the first part of the Second Epistle, 
devoted to this 'expression of gratitude, has been writ- 
ten, he passes on to^arge them now, as a token of their 
thankfulness to God, to partake in a contribution which 
he is making up for the church at Jerusalem. He 
wishes to carry back to Jerusalem a last token of his 
regard for the mother church, from which all these 
churches through the world have sprung, and he wants 
to engage the members of the church at Corinth in the 
work of making up this collection. 

Then h devotes the last portion of the Second 
Epistle tonjrffing' his claims^iip0H-4ho3c who -still re- 
si s_^his_authorily, for there were some bitter Jews who 
still resisted him, and he warns them that when he 
comes to them, as he shortly will, he will show that he 
is strong in his personal presence as well as strong 
in his letters. 

These two Epistles to the Corinthians are wonder- 
ful Epistles. They show the apostle's wisdom, but 
then they also show the apostle's heart. There is a 
gentleness and tenderness in them that is marvelous. 
I do not wonder that Lord Littleton called the apostle 
Paul the finest gentleman that ever lived. 

Think of the church at Corinth. How the apostle 
trusted them, and what courtesy he showed them ! He 
wants them sanctified in Christ Jesus. That was what 
they ought to be, that was their normal condition. 
Paul knew there were many good souls among them 


that longed for nothing but the coming of God ; and he 
groups them all together and speaks of them as Chris- 
tians and sanctified in Christ Jesus. 

It is a beautiful illustration of the way in which 
Christians ought to take people at their best, have a 
high consideration for them, make allowance for their 
failures, take it for granted that they intend to do well, 
and then urge them to be faithful to the gospel of 
Jesus Christ. 


WE study to-day the Epistle to the Galatians. Galatia 
constituted a large part of central Asia Minor. It had 
large cities Pessinus, Ancyra, Tavium, and Iconium. 
At Pessinus there was the temple of the goddess Cy- 
bele, the most widely revered of all pagan divinities; 
and at Ancyra there was the temple of Augustus and 
Rome. But the Galatians, to whom the apostle wrote 
his Epistle, were not scattered through all that Roman 
Province of Galatia; they belonged to the region of 
the Gauls, in the northwestern part of Galatia. With 
\ Moffatt, in the "Encyclopedia Brittannica," n : 394, 
1 1 hold to the North Galatian, rather than to the South 
Galatian, theory as to locality. 1 

It is very interesting to observe that Galati and 
Gauls are the same thing. Galati, Galli, Gauls are all 
one. It may surprise you at first to have these people 
in northwestern Asia Minor identified with the Gauls 
of France and the west bank of the Rhine ; but so it is, 
and modern ethnological and genealogical research has 
brought this fact to light. This fact helps us very much 
to understand the Epistle which we are studying to-day. 

In general we may say that the migration of nations 
has been from the east to the west. Wave after wave 

1 Moffatt's words are : "The identification of Gal. 2 : i-io with Acts n : 28 f., and 
not with Acts 15, appears quite untenable, while a fair exegesis of Acts 16 : 1-6 implies 
a distinction between such towns as Lystra, Derbe, and Iconium on the one hand, 
and the Galatian x">P a with Phrygia upon the other." Moffatt's view is also held 
by Schmiedel, in his article on Galatians, in the "Encyclopaedia Biblica"; and by 
Gilbert, in his "Student's Life of Paul." 



went westward from Central Asia, until at last each 
wave broke upon the coast of the ocean. Wave after 
wave went westward, but there were some refluent 
waves. There was occasionally a backward movement. 
Although the tide generally flowed from the east to 
the west, there was occasionally an ebb-tide; and such 
an ebb-tide in this advance of population gave rise to 
the settlement of this portion of Asia Minor by the 
Gauls. Repulsed perhaps by the chilly climate and al- 
most impenetrable forests, some of these Gauls turned 
back from the west bank of the Rhine and marched in 
a southeasterly direction, probably in order that they 
might find a warmer climate and more fertile soil. 

They were warlike and freedom-loving; they made 
their attempt to conquer Greece ; arid from Greece they 
were repulsed. Having been repulsed from Greece, 
they seem still to have pursued their march in a 
southeasterly direction until, invited by Nicomedes, 
King of Bithynia, in Asia Minor, they crossed the 
Hellespont, conquered the central portion of Asia 
Minor, and there took up their permanent abode. 

These Gauls, half-barbarians as they were, were 
the scourge and terror of Asia Minor for almost half 
a century; but Greeks settled among them in so great 
numbers that the region began to be called Gallo- 
Grsecia. And Jews settled among them, because this 
country was in direct line of the caravan route from the 
East to the West. The Jew had ever in mind the pur- 
pose of trade. The Greeks and the Jews gradually 
mixed with the original Gallic and barbarian popu- 
lation, until at last they became more quiet and civil- 
ized and more settled in their habits. 


This invasion of which I have spoken, and the con- 
quest of central Asia Minor by the Gauls, took place 
in the year 280 before Christ. A century after that 
time, having become much more civilized and proba- 
bly considerably less warlike, they were subdued by 
the power of the Romans in 187. They submitted to 
the Romans, and in the year 26 before Christ this 
region became the Roman Province of Galatia. 

This fact of the Gallic origin of the Galatians 
throws a good deal of light upon the characteristics 
of the people. The Gauls were modern French. The 
French are the representatives of the ancient Gauls. 
It is astonishing how national types persist not only 
from one generation to another, but from one century 
and from one millennium to another. From the very 
beginning the Gallic nation has been noted as impul- 
sive and inconstant. Caesar spoke, even in his day, 
when he came in conflict with them in Gaul, of their 
mobility and levity of mind. In other words, they were 
distinguished then, as they have been distinguished ever 
since, for instability and fickleness. They had what has 
sometimes been called the fatal gift of fascination. 
They were mobile of temperament, they were attract- 
ive in manner, they had gifts of eloquence, they were 
easily impressed; but, alas, they very quickly lost the 
impression that had been made upon them, and they 
were also prone to peculiar kinds and forms of re- 
ligion. Caesar, in addition to what I have said with 
regard to their natural characteristics, declares that 
they were a race excessively devoted to outward ob- 
servances. In other words, a spirit not too persevering 
and rather superficial, easily excited and moved, was 


more prone to accept the outward forms of religion 
than it was to take strong hold of its inner substance ; 
and so we find that from early times down to the pres- 
ent that race has been noted for its love of showy and 
ceremonial observances, for its willingness to follow the 
lead of hierarchy, for its submission to the external 
claims of priests, and for its domination by a self- 
glorifying spirit. 

These being the characteristics of the Galatians, 
those ancient Frenchmen, we can see how peculiarly 
adapted the soil was for the seed that came to be 
planted in it. 

A few words with regard to the early history of the 
church in Galatia will be necessary, in order to under- 
stand the Epistle which Paul wrote. It is very sur- 
prising that in the Acts we have almost no mention of 
the apostle's first visit to Galatia, and we have abso- 
lutely no mention of his second visit to Galatia. Luke 
tells us simply that they went through the region of 
Galatia; but he does not tell us that Paul preached 
there, nor does he tell us that any churches were 
founded there. Is this silence on the part of Luke 
(which substantially is the silence of Paul, of whom 
Luke is the interpreter) due to the fact that the church 
so soon and so quickly swerved from the truth, and 
made both Paul and Luke willing to say just as little 
about it as possible ? So it may be. At any rate, it is 
mainly from the Epistle to the Galatians itself that we 
know the circumstances under which the church was 
originally founded. 

It seems that during Paul's second missionary jour- 
ney, in the year 51 or 52, the apostle, not from any 


desire of his own, but quite contrary to his will, was 
detained in this region of Galatia by a serious illness. 
It is exceedingly probable that he found shelter and 
nursing in some Jewish family; and since a man like 
the apostle Paul felt that he was a debtor both to the 
Jew and the barbarian, there can be no question what- 
ever that he began to preach. And although it was 
not his intention to remain there long, his preaching 
seems to have been accompanied by the power of God, 
and both Jews and Gentiles began to be converted to 
Christ; in fact, they received his gospel with great 
joy; and the apostle, in the Epistle to the Galatians, 
looks back to that time, to his first warm reception 
among them, with the deepest emotion. He makes 
mention of their earnest love for him, and their will- 
ingness, if it were necessary, to pluck out their own 
eyes and give to him. 

Some have thought that the " thorn in the flesh," 
with which the apostle was afflicted, was a continuous 
and painful disease of the eyes, so that it could be 
said that his bodily appearance was weak; and some 
have connected this disease of the eyes with that vision 
of the Saviour on the way to Damascus, when the glory 
of the Lord smote him on the face and there was left, 
even upon his physical system, such a sign or mark of 
this miraculous turning of the apostle to God as was 
a permanent reminder of what he had been in the past, 
and of the great change that had come over him. 

He says in the Epistle to the Galatians, " You 
would have plucked out your own eyes and given them 
to me." Some think we have an allusion to the very 
trouble or malady with which Paul was afflicted when, 


at the close of the Epistle, he says : " Ye see with how 
large letters I have written unto you with my own 
hand." The subscription of the letter is written by the 
apostle himself, whereas all the earlier portion of the 
Epistle is written by an amanuensis. Paul only certi- 
fies that the Epistle comes from himself and no other. 
In spite of his eyes he writes the last words of the 
Epistle; but, because of this trouble with his eyes, he 
writes with a large hand, just as one does that is 
partially blind. 

Whatever may have been this " thorn in the flesh," 
and whatever the value of this explanation which I 
have given, it certainly is true that the apostle was 
laid aside there for some time; that he preached the 
gospel there; that he was received with the utmost 
gladness ; that he made many converts. Those converts 
were probably first of all from among the Jews. The 
nucleus was a Jewish nucleus; and afterward there 
were many converts from among the Gentiles. 

Paul visited this same church two years after, in 
the year 53 or 54; but we infer from certain passages 
in the Epistle to the Galatians that he was received 
with comparative coldness on his second visit; that he 
recognized certain evil tendencies in the church, against 
which he was compelled earnestly to warn the Gala- 
tian Christians. But it was not until he reached Eph- 
esus, and began his three years' stay in that city (which 
lasted from the year 54 to the year 57), and not until 
some time in the year 54, a number of months after he 
had taken his departure from Galatia at his second 
visit, it was not until then that news came to him that, 
in spite of his urgent warnings and his recent visit, a 


large number of these Galatian Christians had given 
way to Judaizing teachers who had come among them, 
trying to persuade them that they must be Jews first 
in order to become real Christians. The whole church, 
indeed, was in danger of going over to the enemy and 
of permanently forsaking the Christ. These Judaizing 
teachers claimed that they were the special representa- 
tives of the Twelve ; they claimed that Paul was not a 
real apostle, because he was not one of the original 
Twelve, and had not had personal intercourse with 
Christ in the flesh; and their opposition to him was 
violent opposition. They claimed that, in order that 
one might be an equal member in the church of the 
Messiah, and be a full partaker of the benefits of the 
Messianic salvation, he must be incorporated with the 
people to whom the Messiah came. In other words, 
they claimed that he must be circumcised, must submit 
himself wholly to the Jewish law and become a Jew, in 
order that he might be truly a Christian. And all this 
was an entire contradiction and direct disobedience to 
the decree of the Apostolic Council at Jerusalem. 

Such news as this from Galatia must have stirred 
the apostle's heart. He felt that all his work there 
was being undone ; he felt that those who were engaged 
in such preaching, and those who were yielding to their 
influence were casting behind them all faith in Christ, 
and in danger of losing their souls. So Paul writes to 
the Galatians this Epistle, which is intended to check 
these errors and bring back his converts to the truth. 

The Epistle, then, was written about the year 54, 
perhaps in the early part of the year 54 ; written, there- 
fore, two or three years before the Epistle to the 


Corinthians was written, and even before the Epistle 
to the Romans was written. And yet the object of 
the Epistle was to touch almost the same general point 
of controversy that is treated in the Epistle to the 
Romans. Some one has called the Epistle to the Gala- 
tians a rough draft of the Epistle to the Romans. 
Another one has said that the Epistle to the Galatians 
is a study of a single figure which was afterward, in 
the Epistle to the Romans, wrought out into a group. 
Each of these statements gives a comparatively cor- 
rect idea of the relation of the Epistle to the Galatians 
to the Epistle to the Romans. 

But there is a better illustration to be drawn from 
the course of a stream which has its origin in the 
mountains. You can imagine a mountain torrent 
going down from rock to rock and dashing its way 
along through ravine and gully, with tremendous force 
and energy, and then at last gliding with comparative 
calmness and quietness through the open plain. The 
same strength of doctrine, the same strength of tone 
which, in the Epistle to the Galatians, is like the tre- 
mendous, rushing mountain torrent we see making its 
way smoothly through the Epistle to the Romans as 
through the open plain. The stream is the same, the 
doctrine is the same; but the manner of utterance in 
the one case is very different from the manner of utter- 
ance in the other. The characteristics of the Epistle 
to the Galatians are quite different from the character- 
istics of the other Epistles of Paul. 

In the first place, there is a oneness of purpose in 
the Epistle to the Galatians that you find in scarcely 
any of the other Epistles. There is one subject from 


the beginning to the end. Indeed, it differs exceedingly 
from the Epistle to the Corinthians. In that Epistle 
there were at least ten different practical matters, prac- 
tical errors, which do not seem to have been con- 
nected by any common basis of falsehood; and the 
apostle had to treat them one by one; but here among 
the Galatians there was just one error which he had to 
rneet, and he devoted himself to that from the begin- 
ning to the close. 

Again, this Epistle to the Galatians is characterized 
by a uniform severity, such as you find in no other 
Epistle of Paul. It is very different, for example, 
from the Epistle to the Philippians. In that Epistle, 
with the exception of a few slight cautions, you find 
almost nothing but commendation. He would have 
the love of the Philippians abound more and more in 
knowledge and in all judgment; and he would repress 
certain tendencies to disunion and jealousy among 
them ; but yet, on the whole, the Epistle to the Philip- 
pians is a commendatory Epistle ; there is almost noth- 
ing in the church which he would reprove. But this 
Epistle to the Galatians contains no commendation. 
There are no salutations and there is almost no praise ; 
there is almost continuous reproof from beginning to 
end. And yet, notwithstanding this comparatively 
uniform severity in this Epistle, the severity is mixed 
with tenderness. There are no personalities ; there are 
no personal allusions in the way of repro.of. No names 
of false teachers are mentioned; and, every now and 
then, the apostle's reproof seems to break into a tone 
of fatherly affection and remorse that is exceedingly 
pathetic. He says : " My little children, of whom I 


travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you." 
He seems almost to speak from a breaking heart, and 
the tears seem to fall as he writes, so that, in speaking 
of the severity of the Epistle, it is evident that it is the 
severity of a loving heart. It is all meant to bring 
them back to Christ. 

What the effect of the Epistle was we do not know. 
Whether the Galatians repented of their errors and 
gave up their wrong views we do not know. The last 
we know of them is what is told in the Epistle itself. 
As a matter of fact, we find, in church history, that 
that portion of Asia Minor was in after times a sort 
of nursery and hotbed of heresy. The Montanists, 
Ophites, Manichaeans, Sabellians, and Arians had their 
strong advocates and defenders there. And yet the 
Christians could not have been entirely rooted out, 
because we also have evidence that here, in these several 
churches of Galatia, many Christians endured persecu- 
tion bravely, and many of these very churches made a 
brave fight in the last struggle between Christianity and 
paganism. So we may believe that, although some fell 
away to their destruction, Christian faith did not 
wholly die out, and the apostle's letter was not abso- 
lutely in vain. 

With regard, now, to the course of thought in the 
Epistle. There is a course of thought, and it is very 
marked, although the unity of the treatment is singu- 
lar, distinguishing this Epistle, perhaps, from all 
the other Epistles of Paul. There .is one aim and object 
in it all : namely, to show that it is not by law, not by 
works of righteousness that man can do, that he is to 
be saved, but simply by faith in Jesus Christ. 


The apostle treats his subject in three different parts, 
and those parts are so nearly coincident with double 
chapters that they are very easy to remember. There 
is, first, the personal part a personal narrative; there 
is, secondly, a doctrinal part he enforces his doctrine ; 
and then, thirdly, tnere is a hortatory or admonitory 
part The personal part occupies, roughly speaking, 
T;he first two chapters; the doctrinal part occupies the 
next two chapters, and the hortatory part occupies the 
last two chapters ; and since there are only six chapters 
in all, you can see that the Epistle is divided into three 
parts of two chapters each. But in this rough way we 
can remember it more easily. There is just this qualifi- 
cation: The first part does not end at the end of the 
second chapter, but it does end at the fourteenth verse 
of the second chapter. That is all the qualification that 
would have to be made. You must begin the second 
part then, the doctrinal part, with the second chapter 
and fifteenth verse ; but, with that single exception, this 
rough division will be a perfectly true one. 

In the first part of the Epistle the apostle gives a 
personal narrative, and what is the object of it? Why, 
the object is to vindicate his apostolic authority. He 
claims that he himself has been called of God; that 
being called of God, he has the authority of God in his 
work (that, of course, was necessary in dealing with 
the Galatians) ; and that those were false teachers who 
were leading them astray. He shows that he received 
his gospel directly from God, through Jesus Christ, 
and that he did not receive it from the Twelve, the 
original apostles. He did not receive it from man at 
all. It came to him by the revelation of Jesus Christ, 


and he shows that the Twelve recognized this fact. He 
went up to Jerusalem and the Twelve did not assume 
any authority over him, as if they were his superiors 
and had sources of information which he had not. 
He shows how, of the Twelve, James and Peter, the 
pillars of the church at Jerusalem, gave him the right 
hand of fellowship; recognized his perfect equality as 
an apostle of Jesus Christ ; and bade him Godspeed in 
going to the Gentiles, as they were to work among the 
Jews. And then Paul shows how he suffers nothing in 
comparison; that the apostle Peter at one time, when 
he was at Antioch, plainly went astray, not by preach- 
ing wrongly, but by refusing to follow his own teach- 
ings ; that he, Paul, rebuked Peter to his face, and that 
Peter had to put up with the rebuke and had to change 
his course. In this way Paul proves plainly that he 
was not inferior to Peter, but was on a level with the 
very chief of the apostles. 

Having proved his divine calling and apostolic 
authority, he can go on to the second portion of his 
Epistle, the doctrinal portion. His object is to show 
that man cannot be saved by law, or obedience to law, 
or works of law, but must be saved by simple faith in 
Jesus, by laying hold of Jesus Christ the only Saviour 
of the sinner. He declares that the law is not intended 
to be the way of salvation for sinners. It might be a 
way of salvation for man if he had not fallen and he 
were perfectly able to obey it; but just so soon as man 
has sinned he cannot come up to the standard of the 
law, and he cannot be saved by his own works. And 
as he cannot be saved by law he must be saved simply 
by faith. After he has fallen into a state of sin, the 


law is given him simply to reveal to him his sin and 
lead him to Jesus Christ. 

An illustration which occurred to me many years ago 
will make this very plain. The law is our school- 
master to lead us to Christ. Christ is the end of the 
law for righteousness to every one who believeth. 

Some years ago I went on a sleeping-car to Detroit. 
I awoke in the morning, after a night's sleep, and I 
found the car had stopped, and we seemed to have 
reached the end of our journey. I arose ; I went out of 
the car ; and to my immense astonishment I found that 
the car was right on the edge of an abyss. We were on 
a dock; our car was on the rails, and the rails went 
right to the edge of the water. There they stopped. A 
little movement might have precipitated us into the 
river ; and I wondered that we should be in such a posi- 
tion, until I saw a great ferryboat coming up to the 
dock. On the boat there were rails, and the rails on the 
boat matched the rails on the dock. Our car was 
pushed over on the boat, and the boat and car together 
went across the Detroit River. In a little while we 
were in Detroit. That boat was the end of the track 
for getting us over the river; and just so Christ is the 
end of the law for righteousness to every one that be- 
lieveth. Just as that track on the dock depended on 
the boat as the only way by which it was to be com- 
pleted, just so the law, with its track laid down for us 
to run on, points to Christ, its completion, as the only 
thing that can furnish the end toward which it looks. 
The law can never save us, any more than the rails on 
the dock could have gotten me over the river to Detroit. 
The law can never save me, but Christ can. The 


law points me to Christ, and the object of the law to 
the sinner is simply to show him that he cannot save 
himself, and that he must look to Christ alone for 

The last portion of the Epistle, the hortatory por- 
tion, sums all this up, and tells men that if they turn 
their backs upon Christ then they turn their backs 
upon salvation; that if they give themselves up to the 
law as the way of salvation they will be under obliga- 
tions to do everything that the law commands; that 
they cannot be saved at all by law without perfect 
obedience to God; and that no one can present such 
perfect obedience. Then there are mentioned harmony, 
love, forbearance, and patience, as duties of the Chris- 
tian, and with the mention of these the Epistle is 

Is it not a singular fact that there was such strife 
in the early churches with regard to doctrine? I have 
sometimes thought these strifes were permitted in the 
early church in order that we might have less strife 
among us ; in order that some questions might be set- 
tled once and for all ; in order that we might be freed 
from trouble and perplexity with regard to them. 

Baur, the skeptic, thought Christianity itself origi- 
nated in this strife. Ah, no ; there was strife simply be^- 
cause there was something to strive over ; there was a 
historical gospel for which Paul was fighting; and the 
strife originated simply because there was error coming 
in, which threatened to reduce to a new slavery those 
who had found liberty in Christ Jesus. 

And so Luther found in this Epistle to the Galatians, 
upon which he wrote his celebrated commentary, his 


chief engine in the great Reformation in Germany. He 
was so attached to this Epistle, it seemed to him so to 
express his own heart, he felt so deeply the value and 
need of it, that he called the Epistle to the Galatians 
" his wife." It was something as dear to him as life, 
something to which he was bound for all time; and 
he made the Epistle to the Galatians the source of a 
very large portion of his texts and his sermons. 

In every generation of the Christian church there 
have been those who have been prone to precisely the 
errors that Paul is inveighing against in this Epistle. 
Ritualism everywhere is a revival of the evil which 
Paul denounces in the Galatians. Ritualism in its es- 
sence is the putting of some work, or ordinance, or 
performance of man, side by side with the simple work 
and power of Jesus Christ, as a means of salvation. 
Ritualism is some external ceremony, or ordinance, or 
work that man can do, as an addition to the one perfect 
sacrifice and atonement of Jesus Christ. 

It is a very curious fact, is it not, that these two 
Epistles, the Galatians and the Romans these anti- 
Judaizing Epistles were written to precisely those 
people whom history has shown to have had the great- 
est tendency to these errors? Now, the Romans was 
written to whom? Why, to the Romans. And who 
is it, in history, that has been the greatest exponent 
of this Judaistic tendency, this putting works side by 
side with Christ as a means of salvation? Why, it is 
the Roman church. Paul seems, by prophetic insight, 
to have recognized where this tendency was to be the 
strongest, and so to have written his Epistle against 
this tendency to the Romans. 


And, again, the Epistle that strives to win men over 
from inconstancy and fickleness to simple trust in Jesus 
Christ is written to whom? Why, it is written to 
Frenchmen. It is written to the Galatians, for the 
Galatians were the early French, the Galati, the Gauls. 

The nations which have shown the strongest ten- 
dency to these errors are just those which Paul has 
singled out to be the object of these Epistles. 

Remember the Old Testament law is outlawed. Men 
cannot be saved by works. Why seek the living among 
the dead? Why go back to the sepulcher in order to 
find our Christ? The Christian has a new life in Christ 
Jesus ; and it is a new life given to us upon the simple 
condition of trusting in our risen Lord. Faith in him, 
and nothing but faith in him, is the way of life and 
salvation; and, therefore, what we need most of all is 
to take to our hearts this one great lesson, that unless 
we trust in Christ we can have no peace inwardly and 
no certainty of salvation. If works must mingle with 
Christ's methods as the way of salvation, no one can 
possibly have a sufficient and solid ground of confi- 
dence, because no one can point to works that are 
absolutely perfect. 

Let us, then, once more confirm our faith in Jesus 
Christ, and in the sole efficiency and sufficiency of his 
way of mercy and salvation, by our study of Paul's 
Epistle to the Galatians. 


THE city of Ephesus, where the church was situated to 
which this letter was written, was thirty miles south of 
Smyrna, in Asia Minor. It was surrounded on three 
sides by mountains, and upon the west there stretched 
away the blue waves of the ^gean Sea. Ephesus was 
situated upon a plain five miles long by three miles 
broad. It was in the way of commerce from the East 
to the West, from Asia to Rome. It had become, long 
before the time when our Epistle was written, a very 
great and rich and powerful city. 

The remains of a theater which was open to the sky 
have been exhumed in these modern times, and the 
stone seats of that theater would hold an audience of 
thirty thousand men. But the most remarkable dis- 
tinction of the city was that which made Ephesus to 
be Ephesus, as much as the university makes Oxford 
to be Oxford, the magnificent and vast temple that 
was erected there to the goddess Artemis, or Diana. 
The goddess, half Greek and half Oriental, was repre- 
sented in the court of the temple by a strange, mis- 
shapen idol of many breasts, indicating the nutritive 
and productive powers of nature. That temple was 
one of the seven wonders of the world. It was four 
hundred and fifty feet long by two hundred and twenty 
feet broad. There was a colonnade of Parian marble, 
each column of which was sixty feet in height, and 
each of these was the gift of a prince. There were 


treasures of sculpture and painting there, such as 
existed almost nowhere else in the known world. 
Ephesus was the gathering-place of strangers from 
every clime. There were all kinds of schools there. 
It was a place of rhetoric and philosophy; and it was 
in this place that the apostle Paul in one of his early 
journeys stayed for one single Sabbath day. 

On his second missionary journey, as he made his 
way back to Jerusalem, he made only a brief stay with 
Aquila and Priscilla. When they begged him to stay 
longer, he said that he could not at that time, but if 
God willed he would come back. There he left Aquila 
and Priscilla, who doubtless did good work among the 
Gentiles, and went back to Jerusalem. After three 
months more he returned; and as his first visit was in 
the year 53, his second visit was in the year 54 of our 
Lord. Then he made perhaps the longest stay that he 
ever had made up to that time in any single city of the 
Gentiles. He was for three months preaching in the 
synagogue; and when it was not possible for him to 
preach longer there without great opposition and diffi- 
culty, he betook himself to the school of Tyrannus, a 
Greek rhetorician, and there conducted his lectures, or 
preaching services, for two whole years. His whole 
stay in Ephesus, as he tells us afterward, lasted for 
three years. 

His preaching was followed by very great success. 
Multitudes became disciples of Christ. He had greater 
success in Ephesus than he had had in any other 
heathen city ; and the work went on until the powers of 
heathenism around him began to be shaken. Those 
who had been devoted to magical arts brought their 


books of magic and burned them publicly, so that the 
value of the books thus burned amounted to fifteen 
thousand pieces of silver, or between seven and eight 
thousand dollars, a testimony to the reality of the con- 
version of those who sacrificed so much for the cause 
of Christ. 

But this very success aroused opposition. He tells 
us afterward, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, of his 
fight with beasts at Ephesus. There is but little doubt 
that this fight with beasts was metaphorical. There 
was no general persecution at that time, and it is not 
possible that Paul could have been thrown to the lions 
in any amphitheater. The fight with beasts was evi- 
dently his conflict with the bitter and subtle enemies 
who were constantly upon his track. The Jews lay in 
wait for him. He was opposed by the silversmiths of 
the city, whose business was making and selling silver 
shrines, or miniature temples, in the likeness of the 
temple of Diana. Their trade was almost taken away, 
and they rose up in a mob and riot and drove Paul from 
the town. A little while afterward, going to Miletus, 
the seaport of Ephesus, he calls the elders of the Ephe- 
sian church, and there we have one of the most affect- 
ing events of Paul's career. How tender was the love 
between him and them, that pathetic scene bears wit- 
ness. Paul gives them his last instructions. He kneels 
with them on the seashore and prays for them. He 
commends them to Jesus Christ, their Saviour. He 
tells them how, for a space of three years, he ceased 
not, day or night, to warn men, preaching to them 
publicly and teaching from house to house. The evi- 
dences of affection between Paul and his converts are 



very marked. He leaves them at last, goes on his 
final journey to Jerusalem, and sees Ephesus no more. 
Paul apparently puts the church in charge of Timothy ; 
when Timothy is taken away, it seems to have come 
under the direction of the apostle John, who writes to 
them one of the letters addressed to the seven churches 
in Asia. That is the last we read of the church in Eph- 
esus in sacred history. 

The Epistle to the Ephesians was undoubtedly writ- 
ten from Rome, and was written in the year 63, just 
ten years after Paul's first visit to Ephesus. Circum- 
stances had greatly changed with the apostle. The 
time of his public unhindered work was now at an 
end. He was in a Roman prison. His imprisonment 
was not very stringent, it is true. He had his own hired 
house; and yet he was chained, chained by his right 
wrist to a soldier, and this soldier by his left wrist was 
fastened to him. So every single word that Paul wrote 
of these Epistles the Epistle to the Ephesians, the 
Epistle to the Philippians, the Epistle to the Colossians, 
and the Epistle to Philemon every word that was 
written of all that group of Epistles during Paul's first 
Roman imprisonment, must have been written with 
the heavy load of a chain weighing upon his hand. 
Very naturally and affectingly he speaks of himself as 
" the prisoner of Jesus Christ." He does not attribute 
his imprisonment to human powers or enemies; he 
considers it as ordained by the Saviour; he bears it 
for him ; he writes and works " in a chain," as the 
words in the Greek literally signify. 

Though he was chained to that soldier in his own 
house at Rome, he had opportunity of receiving all 


who would come to him. He preached the gospel with 
all the more success because of the difficulties that sur- 
rounded him; and the gospel made great headway in 
the imperial city. 

He had long periods of meditation; in his confine- 
ment he meditated over the great truths of the gospel 
as never before; and the Spirit of God unfolded to 
him the inner significance of those truths as never 
before. As he looks back to Ephesus, where God had 
given him his most wonderful success in the preaching 
of the gospel, and to that church that had received him 
with open arms, and where God had shown the greatest 
depths of his power, his heart goes out toward them, 
and his desire is to give them this new blessing which 
he himself has received. This larger knowledge of 
the truth he is bound to communicate to the disciples of 
Christ; and, as he cannot publicly preach to them the 
word, as he is divided from them by continents and 
seas, he will do what he can do, he will give to them 
the truth by letter. So we owe to Paul's imprisonment, 
and the larger unfolding of the truth of God which was 
made to him in his imprisonment, the most wonderful 
of the letters which were written by Paul. 

This Epistle to the Ephesians is chief among all the 
letters of Paul for the profoundness of its exhibition of 
Christ's truths : truths set forth here that are set forth 
nowhere else with the same power. Coleridge thinks it 
is " the divinest composition of man " ;" and there can 
be no question that the depths of God's mercy and love 
were never set forth in any human composition as they 
are set forth here. 

The object of Paul is to show to these converts who 


have been brought in from heathenism, how wonderful 
are the privileges that have been conferred upon them in 
the gospel, and how solemn are the duties that devolve 
upon them as the servants of Christ. As Paul treats 
of the privileges of believers in Jesus Christ he is car- 
ried beyond himself. The first chapter of the Epistle 
to the Ephesians, and in fact the larger portion of the 
Epistle, reads like a solemn hymn. 

It is liturgical, and at times it is psalmodic in its 
manner. There is a glow to the thought, and there is 
an exaltation to the expression, that make it surpass 
all the Epistles of Paul for sustained fervor and maj- 
esty. It begins by saying, after the salutations: 
" Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, who chose us in Christ before the foundation of 
the world that we should be holy and without blame 
before him in love " ; and then goes on, little by little, 
until the apostle's great prayer is uttered. He prays 
God that they may have the spirit of wisdom and reve- 
lation in the knowledge of Christ, that they may know 
what is the hope of their calling and what the riches of 
the glory of their inheritance in the saints and what the 
exceeding greatness of his power in those that believe, 
according to the working of that mighty power which 
he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead 
and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly 
places, far above all principalities and power and 
might and dominion, and every name that is named 
both in this world and that which is to come, and hath 
put all things under his feet and given him to be the 
head over all things to the church, which is his body, 
the fulness of him that filleth all in all. 


Now, there is a rhythm and a power in these words 
such as you find almost nowhere else. Ellicott, the 
commentator, declares that the genitives in this Epis- 
tle in the Greek tax the resources of Greek syntax to 
the very uttermost. When interpreting it we require 
all the helps that syntax can possibly give; simply 
because the apostle, in the greatness of his thought, 
struggles with earthly language. Language staggers, 
so to speak, under the weight of meaning he would 
lay upon it. In this Epistle to the Ephesians we have 
one of the greatest productions of inspiration, an 
Epistle which we can read for the first time and be 
deeply impressed by it; and yet it is only the tenth or 
twentieth or hundredth reading that lets us into the 
secret of its power. It is an Epistle that commends 
itself not so much to the immature as to the mature 
Christian ; an Epistle which requires an inner spiritual 
life and the broadest Christian experience for its under- 
standing. Renan, the French skeptic, can condemn it 
for its useless repetitions and verbosity; but he only 
shows thereby that he utterly lacks the inner spirit 
that can enable him to understand it. No Christian 
can read it without believing that it was inspired of 

There is an aspect about that Epistle at the begin- 
ning which differentiates it from every other Epistle. 
In some of the very earliest versions, the words " in 
Ephesus " are lacking, so that it reads : " Paul, an 
apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God to the saints 
that are," and there it stops ; the words " in Ephesus " 
are left out. It has been a great puzzle, to commenta- 
tors to know precisely what this means; how it is that 



in some of the earliest copies the words " in Ephesus " 
have been lacking; and some have thought that this 
Epistle was a sort of circular letter, that it was writ- 
ten for many churches and not for one, and that there 
was a blank place left there so that it could be rilled in 
for the church at Laodicea, for the church in Ephesus, 
for the church in Smyrna, and so on. There are cer- 
tain things in the Epistle which lend at first a little 
plausibility to that view. 

For example, the doctrine of the Epistle is general. 
It is doctrine that applies everywhere, and to all con- 
ditions of Christians, and to Christians of every name. 
There is not the particularizing that there is in many 
other Epistles. There is nothing like the salutations 
to individuals; there is nothing like the definite direc- 
tion of the Epistle to ethical ends, such as we find in 
Paul's other Epistles. 

It has therefore been urged by some that the Epistle 
was not written to the church of Ephesus particularly, 
but that it was written to all the churches as a sort 
of general Epistle, like the general Epistles of Peter 
or the general Epistles of John. I think, however, that 
this is a mistake. The testimony of the early church is 
perfectly unanimous that this was an Epistle to the 
Ephesians. Although, at first sight, it does seem 
strange that Paul, to this church where he was best 
acquainted and where he must have had the most 
friends, should not have mentioned the names of those 
friends or have given his greeting to them ; yet we find 
a parallel to this in the letters to the Corinthians. He 
was with the Corinthians perhaps the next longest time. 
He was with the Corinthians certainly two years, and 


there were multitudes of friends there. Yet, in his 
letters to the Corinthians, we do not find these per- 
sonal allusions and salutations. May not the reason 
have been just this, that he had too many friends there ; 
that, if he had begun to express his salutations to one 
and another, there would have been no end to it? He 
could have drawn no line. There would have been no 
place to stop. As a matter of fact, we find that those 
Epistles have the most of personal allusions and salu- 
tations which were written to churches where Paul 
never had made a personal visit. As, for example, to 
the church at Rome. We have a great number of per- 
sonal salutations there, and in the letter to Colosse we 
have a great number of personal salutations there ; but 
at the time that Paul wrote these two Epistles he had 
not visited either place. We must remember, besides 
this, that the letter to the Ephesians was sent by Ty- 
chicus, a dearly beloved brother, and these personal 
salutations may have been sent by him. So, as there 
was a living messenger taking the Epistle to those to 
whom it was written, it might have been much easier, 
and it might have been, on many accounts, much better, 
that these personal messages should have been sent 
orally by him. 

Taking all things together, it is better to give credit 
to the testimony and tradition of the early church, 
which is unanimous that the letter was originally ad- 
dressed to the Ephesians, and simply to- say that Paul 
intended the letter for the benefit of the church in Ephe- 
sus primarily; but that he also intended it to be com- 
municated to other churches, and therefore gave it 
such a general form that it was capable of being so 


communicated. He did not limit it to one particular 
church even by salutations that accompanied it, so that 
it was just as good in all its parts for one church as it 
was for another. Yet it was directed, first of all, to 
the church at Ephesus that he dearly loved, and he 
trusted to their love and care to see that from them it 
should be communicated to others. 

Now, the subject of this Epistle to the Ephesians is 
perhaps the greatest subject that can engage the mind 
of man. It is this, " Christ, the head over all things to 
his church." The letter to the Ephesians and the letter 
to the Colossians have been called twin Epistles; and 
it will be very useful to carry in mind the relation be- 
tween the two. They treat different aspects of the 
same great truth, viz., the relation of the world to 
Christ. The Epistle to the Ephesians treats of Christ 
as the head over all things to the church. The Epistle 
to the Colossians treats of Christ, the head over all 
things to the universe. And so the twin Epistles are 
supplementary to each other. We need the two to 
present this truth in its fulness and roundness. 

The Epistle to the Ephesians then sets forth the 
greatness of Christ; and the apostle does this by divi- / 
ding his statement, as he commonly does, into a doctri- ^ 
nal part and into a practical part, and here the division 
is in the middle of the Epistle. There are six chapters ; 
the first three of these have to do with the doctrinal 
part, and the last three have to do with the practical 
part. In the first three he would set forth the infi- 
nite privileges that belong to the believer in Christ, to 
him who has Christ for his living head, to him who is a 
part of this vast temple of God which Christ is erecting 


in the ages. And then the last three chapters, the 
practical part, urge Christians to walk worthily of this 
high calling which they have received; in other 
words, set forth the duties which belong to those who 
have been so privileged. Privilege then comes first ; 
duty comes last; and they receive a perfectly equal 
treatment. Three chapters are given to the one, and 
three chapters are given to the other. 

The first part of the Epistle, the doctrinal part, sets 
forth Christ, the head over all things to the church, in 
three special ways. The church is first said to be 
chosen in Christ, and the first chapter is taken up with 
God's everlasting choice of those who are united 
to Jesus Christ. It is not a choice that has taken place 
for the first time during our earthly life. As the ardent 
lover said once, in a novel, to the lady whom he was 
seeking to win : " Why, dear, I have loved you ever 
since I set my eyes upon you as a child ! " God says 
to us something better than that. He says, " I have 
loved you with an everlasting love." We are said to 
be chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. 
In the depths of eternity past God fastened his eyes 
upon us, and chose us in Christ, that we should be 
holy and without blame before him. It is an eternal 
choice of God that has brought us into union with 
Christ and has made us Christians. The first chapter, 
then, is taken up with the fact that the church is chosen 
in Christ from the eternity past. 

The second chapter shows that the church is re- 
deemed in Christ, and there the apostle refers them to 
their past state as " alienated from the commonwealth 
of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, 


having no hope and without God in the world." Then 
he tells them how, in Christ, they have been redeemed; 
how the death of Christ has become, as it were, their 
death; how they have been raised from the death of 
trespasses and sins, and have been built into a living 
temple, in which God dwells by the Spirit, an allusion 
perhaps to that magnificent temple of Diana of which 
I spoke. The apostle leads their imagination to a far 
greater and nobler spiritual temple, in which each 
Christian is a living stone laid by God and inhabited by 
the Spirit. 

As we have in the first chapter the church chosen in 
Christ, and in the second chapter the church redeemed 
in Christ, so we have in the third chapter the church 
provided for by Christ, endowed with the gift of the 
apostleship, gifted with religious instruction, and so 
disciplined and prepared for the final heavenly state. 
All are urged to test this wonderful power and grace 
of God, " the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, 
that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God." So 
we have Christ head over all things to the church, head 
over all things even in eternity past, head over the 
church in his redeeming work, head over the church by 
providing it with its leadership and its various gifts. 

Upon this doctrinal basis the apostle builds the 
subsequent hortatory portion of the Epistle ; and so we 
have in the last three chapters an account of the 
various gifts of grace that are bestowed upon Chris- 
tians; we have the various orders and offices of the 
ministry; and then we have general Christian duties, 
and especially the duty of having in everything the 
right spirit. In other words, the internal graces of 


the Christian character are unfolded ; and we are shown 
how, now that we are Christians and in Christ, it is 
not the fruits of our old evil nature that we are to bring 
forth, but the fruits of the Spirit love, joy, peace, 
longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, 
and temperance; and we are urged, if we have fallen 
away at all, to awake, to arise, and Christ shall give us 
light. So we are exhorted to live in conformity with 
the calling which we have received from Christ, our 

Having detailed these general Christian virtues, 
which we are exhorted to bring forth, Paul goes on to 
special duties the duty, for example, which the wife 
owes to the husband. There the duty is enforced by 
the mention of Christ's union with the church; and 
the relation between the believer and Christ is illus- 
trated by the marriage relation between the wife and 
husband. Children are exhorted to be obedient to their 
parents, and servants (or slaves, as the word might be 
translated) are exhorted to be obedient to their earthly 
master, seeing in the will of their earthly master the 
will of their greater master, Jesus Christ, who will give 
the reward at the last, even though earthly masters 
fail to reward. And then, last of all, after the exhibi- 
tion of these Christian duties, there comes a representa- 
tion of the conflict between good and evil in the world, 
in which we are to participate and to stand for God. 
It is told us that our warfare is not with flesh and blood, 
but with principalities and powers, the spiritual rulers 
of this world of darkness. In other words, a host of 
evil influences are arrayed against us; and we are to 
put on the whole armor of God that we may not be put 


to shame, but that we may stand until the very last; 
and, while the conflict is set before us, at the same time 
we are assured that, in this Christ who is our head, 
there is given to us a complete and perfect victory. So 
we have the headship of Jesus Christ over all things to 
the church carried out, first doctrinally, in such a way 
that we see the everlasting character of it; and then 
practically, in the effect which these wonderful privi- 
leges of the Christian ought to have upon his righteous- 
ness and holiness of life. The church is something 
larger and more spiritual than a local body of believers 
or an outward organization. This is the most churchly 
Epistle in the New Testament; and yet, in this most 
churchly Epistle, we have least with regard to ritual, 
with regard to discipline, with regard to details. The 
ideal character of the church, the universal kingdom of 
God, so fills the apostle's mind as to swamp, as it were, 
all thought of the local and the individual. It is the 
essential relation of the believer to his Lord, that which 
constitutes a Christian and which makes possible a 
church, that he has mainly in mind. The matter of or- 
dinances and of discipline he will attend to at other 
times. Now he busies himself only with this vast con- 
ception of the church as a whole, the spiritual body of 
Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

But it is very interesting to observe too, that while 
the apostle speaks of all sorts of duties that belong to 
the Christian, there is not one that he does not enforce 
by the highest motive. There is no appeal to any 
sordid or interested motive. There is no urging of 
performances of Christian duty simply for the happi- 
ness that will come to us, or for the sake of the good 


even of those around us; but our thoughts are con- 
tinually lifted up to Christ. For Christ's sake we are 
to do all. We are not to lie one to another, and why ? 
Because, in Christ, we are members one of another. 
It is as absurd for us to be telling lies one to another, 
as it would be for us to attempt to deceive ourselves. 
And then we must not steal from one another. That 
is forbidden, and why ? Simply in order that we may 
do good to the body of Christ, that we may have that 
which we may give to another. We are to work and 
to win, in order that we may be helpers to others who 
are members of the same body with us. 

And so when we come to the more spiritual graces, 
Paul urges us to show faith and all the other Chris- 
tian graces, simply because they are the natural ex- 
pression of the Spirit of Christ within. The words 
" in Christ " appear in this Epistle more frequently 
perhaps than they do in any other Epistle of Paul, and 
you cannot read the Epistle intelligently without un- 
derstanding their meaning. They constitute the key 
to Paul's Epistles in general, but they especially con- 
stitute the key to this Epistle to the Ephesians. ' In 
Christ " means in living union with Chnst, the per- 
sonal, risen, living Saviour, and Paul sees in Christ 
God revealed. He takes literally those words of Christ 
himself, " He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father." 

If you want to know what God is, look at Christ. 
There you have the very manifestation of God in 
human form; and, therefore, we have in Christ the 
ideal of our human life. We are to be like Christ. 
Whatever there is in Christ is to be reproduced in us. 
Whatever Christ did, he did not for himself alone, but 



did it for us also. Therefore, we are said to have died 
together with Christ; we are said to have been buried 
together with Christ; and we are said to be raised to- 
gether with Christ and to be seated with Christ in 
heavenly places ; to have suffered together with Christ ; 
and to be glorified together with Christ. In other 
words, the apostle sees in Christ the germ of the 
redeemed humanity that God is to bring back to him- 
self. We are in Christ, and we are so united to Christ 
that Christ's life is in us. Whatever Christ is, what- 
ever Christ has, is made over to our account, so that 
all things are ours. Whether life or death, things 
present or things to come, all things are ours, because 
we are Christ's and Christ is God's. The great thought 
of the Epistle is Christ, the head over all things to the 
church, God manifesting himself in humanity, and lift- 
ing us up by union with Christ into his own great life, 
so that all blessings are ours in him. 

How vast the conception of the Epistle! How full 
of comfort and strength to the Christian ! Let us study 
it faithfully, and let us recognize the fact that all God's 
exceedingly great and precious promises are ours. 


ON the northernmost shore of the Greek Archipelago, 
as it is now called, or of the ^Egean Sea, as it used to 
be called, was the city of Philirjpi. If you look upon 
the map you will see that northward from this northern 
shore of the Greek Archipelago there stretches a great 
rocky barrier, which separates now, as it did then, the 
Turkish peninsula from the Greek peninsula, and which 
separates the region of the East from the region of 
the West. 

Here, at Philippi, that great rocky barrier, as it 
approaches the sea, was depressed, and there was a 
narrow plain; upon that plain, at a distance of about 
ten miles from the sea, Philippi was situated. Certain 
gold mines in the neighborhood and certain mineral 
springs had early led to the settlement of the place; 
but it was chiefly the fact that this depression in the 
hills, between the mountains and the sea, constituted 
a sort of gateway from the East to the West that led 
Philip of Macedon to fortify the place about three cen- 
turies and a half before Christ, to build a city there, 
and to distinguish that city by giving it his name. The 
city of Philippi, therefore, was so called because it was 
founded by Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander 
the Great. 

The great importance of the place as a sort of 
strategic key led, in the year 42 before Christ, to the 
world-renowned battle of Philippi, one of the world's 



decisive battles. Augustus and Antony on the one side, 
and Brutus and Cassius on the other, fought there for 
the empire of the world; and you know how Shake- 
speare has commemorated that struggle in his play 
of Julius Caesar. 

The conqueror in that battle, Augustus, led by the 
same reasons which I have intimated already, made 
Philippi a Roman colony; and by a Roman colony I 
mean a city that is settled by Romans who have been 
brought from Italy, who have brought with them their 
municipal organization, who are governed by a senate 
of their own, and who have all the rights and privileges 
of Roman citizens. This Philippi is a Roman city, on 
the very confines of the Roman world ; that is, on the 
very confines of that world where the Latin language 
is spoken and taught. 

In the little narrative with regard to Philippi which 
is preserved to us in the Acts of the Apostles, all these 
various classes of population are more or less repre- 
sented. There, first, is the original barbarian element ; 
secondly, there is the Greek element; thirdly, the 
Roman element; and finally, the Jew. We have here 
at Philippi a sort of strategic point for the gospel, as 
well as for the empire of the world ; for here we have 
a confluence of Eastern and Western life, a strangely 
mixed population, and a remarkable regard paid to 
the rights and dignities of Roman citizenship. Here it 
was that Christianity first came in contact with Roman 
civilization. Here was fought for Christianity a bat- 
tle more important than that battle of Philippi, in 
which Augustus and Brutus fought for the mastery of 
the world. You remember that the apostle Paul, on his 


second missionary journey, desired very much to com- 
plete what he must have thought of as the evangeliza- 
tion of Asia Minor. There were other regions of 
Asia Minor which he yet desired to visit. He wanted 
to enter Bithynia; but you remember that the sacred 
writer says, " the Spirit suffered him not." He was 
driven, as it were, by his own inner impulse, and by 
the direction of divine Providence, to the northwestern 
portion of Asia Minor, until he came to Troas, the 
point from which he would naturally, if at all, pass 
over into Europe. I can imagine that the prospect of 
passing over into Europe and into an entirely differ- 
ent civilization from that to which he had been accus- 
tomed caused him a great deal of trepidation. It 
was only the voice of the man of Macedonia, " Come 
over to Macedonia, and help us," that finally deter- 
mined him to take his way to Europe. 

Here, in Philippi, was the first conflict between 
Christianity and European paganism; and upon the 
decision of that conflict great things depended for 
Christianity in the future. 

In every city he had visited heretofore, Paul had 
always gone first to the synagogue of the Jews; but 
here, in Philippi, there was no synagogue of the Jews. 
There were Jewish people there ; but they were very 
few. It was a Roman population instead of a Jewish 
population. Since there was no synagogue, the Jews 
who were there, not having any regular place of meet- 
ing in the city, conducted divine worship outside, in a 
secluded place, in the open air, by the side of that 
rushing river upon which the city was built. Those 
who visited this place of prayer were not Jewish men; 



they were Jewish women, and apparently these women 
were themselves few in number. 

But Paul went out there upon the Sabbath day ; and 
as he spoke to them with regard to the gospel of 
Christ and the fulfilment of the promises of the Mes- 
siah in the Old Testament, the Lord opened the heart 
of one of them, Lydia by name, a seller of purple, of 
the city of Thyatira, in Asia Minor, so that she at- 
tended to the things that were spoken. She might have 
listened and gone away, and thought no more of it, if 
the Lord had not imparted to her a new bent of mind, 
a new disposition to receive the truth. Receiving the 
truth, she became Paul's first disciple; and the fruits 
of her discipleship were new Christian hospitality. She 
received Paul and his fellow workers for I suppose, 
at this time, Timothy, Silas, and Luke also were with 
him received all four of them into her house, and 
her house became a rendezvous and a starting-point for 
missionary effort in the city. Paul remained there 
many days, it is said. Probably this means a number 
of weeks, or even months. He preached the gospel 
until at last attention began to be attracted to him. 
People began to know who he was; and now we find 
that a Greek divining girl, a girl who was possessed by 
an evil spirit, and pretended to prophesy, a sort of 
Greek fortune-teller under the influence of the satanic 
power, followed Paul and Silas as they went through 
the street, half mocking, perhaps, and yet perhaps half 
inclined seriously to recognize the power that was in 
them. The Greek girl cried, as she ran : " These men 
are the servants of the most high God, who came to 
teach us the way of salvation." That continued day 


after day until, at last, Paul turned and commanded 
the evil spirit to come out of her, and the evil spirit 
did come out. The result was that the masters of this 
slave girl, finding that the hope of their gains was gone, 
and that they could no longer use her for their pur- 
pose, fell upon Paul and Silas, roused a mob against 
them, and brought them before the magistrates. The 
magistrates ordered them to be scourged, put them in 
prison, confined them in the innermost dungeon, and 
made their feet fast in the stocks. So the magistrates 
seemed to side with this riotous element in the Roman 

It has been questioned by some why Paul, who was a 
Roman citizen and who had a right to be absolved from 
all such punishments as scourging, did not urge his 
rights as a Roman before the scourging took place; 
and some have thought that the reason was just this, 
that this was his first visit to' a purely Roman city. 
Paul, it is said, was in a place where Latin was the 
prevailing language; it was impossible for him, under 
the circumstances, to make himself known, and to get 
the hearing of the magistrates; it was only after the 
thing was really done that he was enabled to make an 
effective protest. However that may be, we know that 
it was an occasion of the mighty exercise of divine 
power ; in the middle of the night there was an earth- 
quake; the doors of the prison swung open, and Paul 
and Silas were permitted to go free. The jailer came 
with fear and trembling, fell down before Paul and 
Silas, and asked what he should do to be saved. The 
appearance of these men, whose backs had been lacer- 
ated by the Roman scourge, still rejoicing and singing 



praises to God at night, was something so strange as 
to attract his wonder. Conviction of sin had already 
been awakened in his heart ; he longed to know the God 
whom these men preached ; and he earnestly asked how 
he might find the way of salvation. The answer was 
that he was simply to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, 
and he should be saved; and, believing right then and 
there, he received baptism, and was added to the num- 
ber of the Christian church. 

This miracle seems to have worked in behalf of the 
truth, and to have made a deep impression through 
the town. By declaring himself a Roman citizen 
Paul secured release, and so intimidated the rulers of 
the city that they were anxious to get rid of him in 
order that there might be no report of their proceedings 
carried to Rome. More than this, Paul and Silas seem 
to have been so helped in their work that a large num- 
ber was added to the church. When Paul leaves 
Philippi we find him speaking of " the brethren," 
though the church began with only a few women 
yes, with only one. The church of Jesus Christ had 
been founded in that place, and that church was one 
of the most beautiful illustrations of Christian love 
and joy and confidence and successful labor that we 
read of in all the annals of the New Testament. 

We find that Luke, who, up to this time, for quite 
a little space has used the word " we " of himself, the 
apostle, and his companions, now ceases to use the 
word " we " in describing Paul's journeyings, and 
seems to intimate that he himself, the writer, was left 
in Philippi. It is only when Paul goes back again to 
this same Philippi a long time afterward that Luke 


begins again to use the word " we," and goes with Paul 
afterward in his journeyings. The inference has been 
that Luke was left in Philippi by Paul, to take charge 
of the church until Paul returned on his third mission- 
ary journey, after which he followed Paul to Rome. If 
this be the case, it shows how greatly blessed, efficient, 
and discreet pastoral care may be. In this church the 
new converts from among the heathen passed for a 
number of years under the instruction and supervision 
of Luke. This furnishes us with some explanation of 
their faithfulness, the uniformity of their Christian 
character, and the depth of their love and joy. Ter- 
tullian says that this church was one of the few that 
were eminent for preserving autograph apostolic let- 
ters, by which I suppose that this letter to the Philip- 
pians was kept among them as a sacred treasure. 

The church at Philippi seems to have been char- 
acterized by some very remarkable qualities. Paul, in 
writing his letter to them, has almost nothing to blame. 
It is the one letter of all the apostolic letters in which 
you will find almost no censure at all. There is a great 
deal of commendation. The apostle can commend, 
first of all, their faithfulness and their devotion in the 
midst of persecution. The persecution which vented 
itself upon the apostle seems to have been continued in 
the case of the disciples whom the apostle won ; and yet, 
in spite of that persecution, the church at Philippi re- 
mained firm ; firm in its faith, firm in its love. Though 
they were poor, yet they seem to have contributed very 
largely, in proportion to their means, to all manner of 
Christian enterprises; and they were especially char- 
acterized by affection and devotion to the apostle 


himself. You know that the apostle did not wish to lay 
upon the new church that he founded the burden of 
his support. He preferred to earn his own living by 
his trade of tent-making; and yet, occasionally, it was 
very desirable that he should have the time to himself 
for Christian labor. It was the contributions of this 
church at Philippi which enabled him to take his time 
for Christian work. When he came to be imprisoned 
at Rome, there was a great deal in the way of comfort 
that might be purchased for him by the pecuniary as- 
sistance that came to him from others. It was this 
church at Philippi that again and again, as he declares, 
ministered to his necessities. There is no proof of 
confidence that a high-minded man can show like this 
of being willing to take pecuniary assistance from 
another. Paul would never have taken this assistance 
from the Philippian church if there had not been a bond 
of warm affection and confidence existing between him 
and them. These were the graces of the Philippian 

There were certain things against which the apostle 
needed to warn them ; and yet he did not censure them 
for special faults. He rather cautioned them against 
things to which they might possibly be exposed. There 
was, for example, the jealousy which might possibly 
arise between different church-members engaged in 
the same sort of work. " I beseech Euodias and be- 
seech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind." They 
were two women who perhaps had a little jealousy of 
one another in their Christian work. The apostle 
cautions them to keep in mind the common cause for 
which they labor, and always to work together. That 


is perhaps as near an approach to censure as we find 
in the Epistle, and it is very gentle. 

There is a little danger that Judaizing teachers may 
persuade them that they can trust something else than 
the one work and righteousness of Jesus Christ; and 
so the apostle gives them, in the form of his own ex- 
perience, the instruction that we are not saved by any 
works of righteousness that we have done. Salvation 
is of the Lord. Paul seeks the righteousness of Christ, 
and to be clothed only with that. That is his only 
hope. He sees some in the Philippian church who are 
not faithful in their Christian life. There are pro- 
fessors of Christianity who do not show forth the 
power of religion. " There are some, I tell you even 
weeping, that are enemies to the cross of Christ, whose 
end is destruction, who mind earthly things." There 
were a few such at Philippi. 

It is wonderful that there were not more things in 
this Philippian church against which he could inveigh ; 
but we find nothing in the shape of denunciation. All 
the apostle says, by way of qualification of his com- 
mendation, is rather a cautioning and warning against 
possible future evil, than a declaration that these evils 
were marked in the Philippian church. 

And now as to the circumstances under which the 
Epistle to the Philippians was written. You remember 
that the apostle had now become a prisoner at Rome. 
I suppose that this Epistle to the Philippians was writ- 
ten later than the Epistle to the Ephesians. Ephesians, 
Colossians, and Philemon seem to be bound together 
in a group. The Philippians seems to have been writ- 
ten somewhat later than those three, but during this 


same Roman imprisonment. It must have been in the 
last year at least of that Roman imprisonment, because, 
in the Philippians, Paul speaks of the church in Rome 
as having acquired some size. The number of converts 
was large. That could hardly have been said at the 
beginning of his imprisonment. Then, again, his as- 
sociates have left him. In the Philippians he is com- 
paratively alone. In the early part of that imprison- 
ment his associates were with him. There has been 
time for a number of journeys between Rome and 

Epaphroditus, during the imprisonment of the apos- 
tle at Rome, was sent to Paul with a contribution for 
his necessities. Epaphroditus had time to go to Rome 
and communicate to the apostle the gifts of the Philip- 
pian church. Epaphroditus was taken sick while he 
was ministering to Paul; the news of Epaphroditus' 
sickness had time to reach the Philippians ; and Epaph- 
roditus had time to hear again from Philippi of the 
care and anxiety of the church on his behalf. 

Such journeys as these, together with the sickness 
of Epaphroditus and his recovery, the writing of the 
letter and the sending of it to the Philippians, must 
altogether have occupied a number of months at the 
least. One might better perhaps suppose that it was 
a year, or a year and a half. Since the imprisonment 
of the apostle in Rome lasted just two years, it must 
have been the middle of the second year at least before 
this Epistle to the Philippians was written. Then the 
date of the Epistle was the middle of the year 63^ six 
months before the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles 
came to its end. 


The object of the Epistle was, as I have intimated, 
not to reprove any particular things that the Philip- 
pians were guilty of, not to censure them as the apos- 
tle censures the Galatians, for example, or the Corin- 
thians in one portion of the Epistle ; not to set before 
them any great scheme of Christian doctrine, nor to 
vindicate his apostolic authority, as in the Epistle to 
the Romans. The object of the Epistle was apparently 
to pour forth the gratitude of the apostle's heart for 
the great kindness and love which they had shown to 
him in sympathizing with him in his troubles and in 
his imprisonment, to encourage them in enduring simi- 
lar trials and sufferings, and to increase their knowl- 
edge and love and joy. 

I do not know of any other Epistles in which the 
personal remarks are so beautifully expressed as they 
are here. It is the natural and spontaneous outflow 
of the apostle's heart. He would stimulate their Chris- 
tian virtues. He would broaden and beautify their 
Christian character, and he would show them how all 
spiritual blessings are theirs in the gospel of Christ. 
There is no other Epistle of Paul which, in our higher 
moments, when we are near to Christ, seems to us so 
sweet and beautiful as this Epistle to the Philippians. 

The order of the Epistle is determined in a large 
part by this desire to express the gratitude of the 
apostle to God. In the very first verse you have recog- 
nized an organization of the Christian church that is 
noteworthy. He writes to those who recognize Christ, 
to the saints in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons ; 
i. e., with the overseers and the deacons. Only two 
orders are recognized, only two sorts of officers in the 


Christian church. First the pastors, or overseers, of 
the flock, and then the deacons of the church; and I 
suppose we have here the outline of church organiza- 
tion in the apostolic time. We do not anywhere find 
that there are more than these two ranks, or officers, in 
the Christian church. 

One of the first prayers is " that their love may 
abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all 
judgment." He recognizes the depth of their Christian 
devotion, but he would have a discreet devotion; he 
would have an affection that has laws and bounds; he 
would have it conform to the truth. So he prays that 
they may add to their love Christian knowledge; and 
then, as the means of increasing this knowledge, he 
speaks of his own personal relations, and, in the latter 
part of the first chapter, is occupied with an account 
of his own experience, and of the fact that all his 
trials and persecutions have been the means of further- 
ing the gospel of Christ. So he recognizes everything 
that has happened to him as God's choice, ordained not 
only for his own good, but for the good of the Chris- 
tian church. 

Only in the second chapter does he give us the one 
doctrinal portion of the Epistle. There is one doctrine 
set forth in this Epistle to the Philippians with a ful- 
ness and power such as we find nowhere else in the 
New Testament. It is the doctrine of the person of 
Christ, and the relation of the divine to the human 
nature of our Saviour. You remember how it begins. 
The apostle would urge them to humility, and he sets 
before them the example of Christ who, being in the 
form of God, thought not his equality with God a thing 


to be forcibly retained, but emptied himself, taking 
upon him the form of a servant, and being made in 
the likeness of man. Not only did he humble himself 
to become man, but he further humbled himself by 
suffering death, even the death of the cross. " Where- 
fore God hath highly exalted him and given him a 
name above every name; that at the name of Jesus 
every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things 
in earth and things under the earth, and that every 
tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the 
glory of God the Father." 

There is no more sublime passage in the New Testa- 
ment than this. It sets forth the infinite glory of 
Christ, his absolute equality with God in the begin- 
ning, and then his emptying himself of this glory, in 
order that he might unite himself to our human nature, 
to sanctify and redeem it. This is the great doctrine 
of the Epistle to the Philippians. What a motive to 
humility we have ! He who was rich became poor that 
we might be made rich. What an argument for self- 
denial and the giving up of our own personal interests 
in order that we may serve Christ and his church ! 

In the third and fourth chapters you have exhorta- 
tions to unity; you have warnings against Judaizing 
tendencies ; and you have the Epistle ending with warm 
salutations and expressions of the apostle's love. As 
you read this Epistle, one thing is very striking in it; 
and that is the love which passes all love that is com- 
mon among men. There is just one explanation of it. 
The apostle longs after the Philippians in the heart of 
Jesus Christ. In our old version this was translated 
in such a way that the meaning of it was obscure, even 


repulsive, :( in the bowels of Jesus Christ." That 
word, you know, was in the old times simply the com- 
mon word for heart. When you hear of an accident 
to a friend, it affects you in that very portion of your 
body in which he has suffered. You have an awful 
feeling of goneness; and the word "bowels," because 
it is connected with our own emotions of sympathy 
with the trouble and pain of others, came to be used 
for heart. The word meant only " heart," and it 
ought always to have been translated by " heart." 
The apostle longs for the Philippians " in the heart of 
Jesus Christ." As much as to say, " It is not my own 
affection that I am expressing. I am incapable of this 
myself; I could not rise to this height, in which my 
sympathy goes out to Christians in the remotest part 
of the world, and bears them on my soul continuously. 
This is all due to the fact that I have entered into union 
with Jesus Christ, and that his heart has become my 

My dear friends, there are certain things we can do 
in Christ, and by virtue of our relation to him, that we 
can never do without him. There is a sympathy which 
we can feel for the wants and needs of others, long- 
ings for their good, unselfish devotion to their interest, 
which is absolutely impossible to unregenerate human 
nature. It becomes possible only when we enter into 
union with Christ. Then Christ fills our hearts with 
some of the unselfish sympathy that pervades his heart, 
and we ourselves begin to feel. Whatever comes to 
us, we long to devote ourselves to Christ. Here is 
the secret of Christian generosity and unselfishness. 
When we become one with Christ we get out of our 


narrowness, out of our pettiness; we begin to love as 
Christ loves, and to long for the good of his church 
as Christ longs for it. So this whole Epistle to the 
Philippians is a continuous exhortation to Christian 
peace, Christian faith, Christian confidence, Christian 
joy, and Christian love. 

If Christ is only an ideal conception or only a 
historical person in the past, this faith, love, and joy 
are indeed impossible. But if Christ is a living and 
present Saviour, to whom we may become so united 
that his Spirit takes up his residence in us, and his 
heart becomes our heart, why, then, the highest 
forms of Christian life are simple and easy. All 
things are possible to him who opens his heart to re- 
ceive the great Son of God, and who by faith joins 
himself to Christ; for thus our hearts become connected 
with the great heart of the universe and are im- 
measurably enlarged. 

Here is the secret of the Epistle to the Philippians, 
and of the joy, peace, and comfort that fill the apos- 
tle's heart. When he does not know whether the 
coming week shall bring to him life or death, he is 
content. He knows that, since Christ is in him and he 
is in Christ, " for him to live is Christ, and to die is 


THIS Epistle to the Colossians was written probably 
to the smallest of the churches which Paul addressed. 
Colosse was not a great city, compared with Corinth 
or Rome or Ephesus; and yet, from this small city, 
there went out influences that were very important 
for the kingdom of God. 

History relates that Antiochus the Great, that tyrant 
and oppressor of the Jews, brought two thousand 
Jewish families from Mesopotamia and Babylon and 
settled them in Phrygia, the southwestern part of 
Asia Minor. This Jewish influence was, therefore, 
mixed with an Oriental influence; and the strange 
combination which we find in the Colossian church of 
formalism and Oriental theosophy was perhaps de- 
termined by the fact that Judaism in this portion of 
the world had a historical connection with the East. 

In Phrygia there were three cities of some impor- 
tance. Both Laodicea and Hierapolis were apparently 
of more importance than Colosse. It was to Laodicea 
that John wrote one of his seven Epistles to the 
churches in Asia, which you find in the book of Reve- 

Little Colosse was situated on the banks of the 
river Lycus, and in the midst of magnificent mountain 
scenery, so that its situation seems to have prompted 
a loftiness of thought. 

It does not appear that Paul ever made to Colosse 



a personal visit. During his stay in Ephesus, at the 
time when he had the most wonderful success in all 
his apostolic ministry, we read that the word of God 
went out into the regions of Asia. Although he did 
not himself visit Colosse, it would almost seem that 
some residents of Colosse visited Paul; and during 
those two years when he was teaching in the school of 
Tyrannus, in Ephesus, day by day, it is not at all 
improbable that some of the visitors from Colosse 
heard Paul, became his converts, and took back the 
gospel to the region from which they came. 

What we know of the formation of the church is 
exceedingly little ; but there are indications that Epaph- 
ras (not, by the way, Epaphroditus, who was a mem- 
ber of the church of Philippi, but an entirely different 
person), a Colossian, had received the gospel and had 
become the evangelist of Colosse. This Epaphras, 
when Paul became a prisoner at Rome, made Paul a 
visit in his imprisonment and devoted himself to the 
apostle's care with such assiduity that he shared the 
apostle's sufferings and dangers. It would almost 
seem that he had involved himself in the apostle's im- 
prisonment, so that the apostle calls him a " fellow 
prisoner." Whether he had become amenable to the 
law, we do not know, but the epithet Paul bestowed 
upon him is a peculiar one, his " fellow prisoner in 

When Epaphras made his visit to Paul it is evident 
that he related to Paul the circumstances of the Colos- 
sian church ; told him of the new teaching that had be- 
come current among them; told him of Jewish teach- 
ers who combined with their Jewish tendencies some 


Oriental notions of a newer and larger wisdom than 
was provided for in the gospel itself, something of 
the nature of philosophy, something that was hidden 
from the mass of men, and was the possession only of 
the few. By ascetic practices, and by fastings and 
observances of an outward sort, this wisdom might be 
obtained. Paul, as a result of these representations 
on the part of Epaphras, writes this letter to the Colos- 
sian church. 

We read in the Epistle to Philemon that, just about 
this same time, Paul had been the means of converting 
to Christ a runaway slave by the name of Onesimus, 
who had escaped from his master Philemon and had 
made his way to the city of Rome, where he thought 
perhaps there was the best chance of his being hid. 
After Paul had converted him to Jesus Christ, Ones- 
imus was anxious to return to his master and make 
reparation for the wrong he had done him. Paul sends 
him back, and with him he sends that beautiful Epis- 
tle to Philemon, in which he commends Onesimus to 
his Christian forgiveness. Onesimus and Tychicus 
were the messengers who took this letter to the Colos- 
sians as well, and with this apparently the letter to the 
Ephesians, which is alluded to in the latter part of this 
letter to the Colossians, where the apostle speaks of 
another letter which the Colossians were to possess 
themselves of, while, at the same time, they were to 
give to the Laodiceans the letter which they themselves 
had received. So we may conclude that this letter to 
the Colossians was written either at the close of the 
year 62, or at the beginning of the year 63, four or 
five years after the Colossian church had been founded. 


It is necessary, in order to understand the apostle, 
to get some more full idea of the errors that had begun 
to be prevalent in this Colossian church. They were 
very peculiar. They were such as we do not find al- 
luded to in the previous letters of Paul. We do find 
some allusions to them in the pastoral Epistles to Tim- 
othy and Titus. The great danger of the Colossian 
church was the danger of lukewarmness. That is the 
specific fault which John rebukes in the neighboring 
church of Laodicea. Though Laodicea was not a great 
city, it was wealthy. An earthquake took place, and 
Tacitus, the historian, tells us that Laodicea was able 
to rebuild itself with its own resources, without calling 
in the aid of Rome ; and this seems to be mentioned as 
proof that it was a place of considerable importance. 

In the writings of John to Laodicea, he speaks of 
the church as fancying that it was rich and increas- 
ing in goods and had need of nothing. This appar- 
ently was also the case with the church in Colosse. 
Riches had corrupted the Christian heart; the deceit- 
fulness of wealth had led to selfishness and lukewarm- 
ness in their Christian faith ; and with this influence of 
worldly goods there was intellectual pride and self- 
satisfied reliance upon what mere human reason and 
speculation could do. There grew up a species of 
wisdom which was not the wisdom of Christ, not " the 
wisdom among those that are perfect," which the apos- 
tle speaks of in his letter to the Corinthians, but a 
wisdom of this world. That wisdom was exHnsiv?; it- 
prided itself upon being the possession of the fpufc* it 
was an esoteric doctrine held by those who fancied 
that they had greater intellectual powers than the 


majority of the Christian church. Herejwas the first 
great danger of the Colossian church; namely, intel- 
lectual pride and dependence upon human speculation, 
rather than upon Christ or his gospel. This tendency 
to intellectual speculation ran in a peculiar course, and 
that course seems to have been determined for it by 
the Oriental influence to which the Jews in that neigh- 
borhood had become subjected. 

In order to explain what the doctrine was which the 
Colossians held, or to which they tended, I shall have 
to remind you of the fact that, in the East, there were 
large numbers of personsjvjio thought it was absolutely 
necessary to separate God from the world in order to 
explain the existence of evil. They thought it could 
not be that God had himself created the world, because 
they saw so much in the world that was wrong. They 
fancied that the existence of evil was an incident of 
matter. Man was a sinner because he had a physical 
system. This was a strange perversion of the truth ; it 
ignored the fact that the soul masters the body, and 
that the body is only the servant of the soul. There can 
be no sin properly in the body itself, for all sin has its 
source in the spirit. We cannot explain moral evil by 
attributing it simply to the body, or to matter, or to 
the physical world. The only possible explanation of 
moral wrong is in the free decision of the moral crea- 
ture against God; in other words, in the spirit and not 
in the body. 

But this strange sect of thinkers fancied that they 
could explain evil by calling it a mere incident of the 
physical system, something which had its origin in our 
connection with matter. So they thought to remove 



God just as far as possible from the world, from the 
physical universe; and they did it in this way. They 
said that all things proceeded in the last analysis from 
God, but that things in the universe were successive 
emanations from the substance of God; God was the 
central sun, and that as his light proceeded farther and 
farther from him, it became more and more mixed 
with darkness; so that, when infinitely removed from 
God, the darkness predominated over the light, and on 
the outskirts of the universe evil was in the ascendency. 
Or, to put the doctrine in a somewhat plainer form and 
using the word creation, these thinkers fancied that 
God only created at the beginning something that was 
really of importance, and then that creation created 
something else this creation that was at the second 
remove from the intercourse being less perfect than 
the first one was that this second created a third, and 
that third created a fourth, and that fourth something 
still beyond ; and when you got far enough away from 
God, the central light and truth and holiness, why, of 
course, you had something that was very imperfect 
indeed, and matter was one of these last emanations or 
creations. So there was an explanation of evil in the 

You can see at once that between man, who is evil, 
and God, who is holy, there were a great many inter- 
mediate creations. There were hierarchies, principali- 
ties, and powers between us and God. " It could not be 
said that God was the immediate creator either of our 
souls or of our bodies; our creation was due to some 
angelic power. And because these angelic powers were 
between us and God, they were the proper and natural 


objects of worship; so that the worship of angels was 
one of the features of this Oriental system. You can 
also see that, if God was so very lofty and so very 
high, and we were so very evil and so very low, it 
was almost impossible that these corrupted creatures 
could go at once to God. We must go through media- 
tors these angels, these principalities, these powers 
were the media between us and God, and they were 
to be worshiped as the means by which we might 
ascend by our thoughts and by our prayers to the 
Most High. 

Another idea besides this of mediatorship between 
man and God was the result of this system. The body, 
they said, is the source of evil. If we only could get 
rid of the body we could be holy. Why, then, the 
more you can get rid of the body the more holy you 
will be. If we cannot slough off the body entirely, let 
us put just as much despite upon the body as we can. 
So all manner of ascetic practices, all manner of morti- 
fications of the flesh were introduced, as if, through 
them, men could become holy and could commend 
themselves to God. 

You see, then, that there were three great practices 
or errors. First, this intellectual exclusiveness, this 
spirit of caste in the Christian church; secondly, this 
idea of mediatorship between man and God, created 
beings between us and God interposing bars between 
us and our Maker; and then, thirdly, prnrtirnl npnrti- 
^hm^ nrlf mnrtifirntinn, putting of despite upon the 
body, in order that we might thereby become pure. 

These great errors it was very important for the 
subsequent history of the Christian church that Paul 


should correct. If the Roman church had only paid 
attention to this Epistle to the Colossians, how much 
monasticism and self-mortification, how much depend- 
ence upon the Virgin and the saints as mediators with 
God, would have been rendered forever impossible ! 

The remedy which Paul suggests for all this is sim- 
ply Christ. Christ is the remedy for all error, because 
Christ is the absolute and perfect truth. The preach- 
ing of Christ and the setting forth of the glory and 
majesty of the Son of God sweep away these various 
forms of error, and there is nothing else in heaven 
or in earth that can sweep them away. 

How is it that Paul presents Jesus Christ to these 
Colossians, in order to destroy, in root and branch, 
this dangerous heresy that had become rife among 
them? Simply in this way: He declares that Jesus 
Christ is the head of the universe ; that he is the Lord 
of all things ; that he is the Creator through whom all 
things were made; that he is the Sustainer, so that all 
things, either in the physical or spiritual universe, hold 
together only in him; that he is the one Revealer of 
God; that he is the only wisdom and only truth; and 
that the Colossians, if they have Christ, have all. See 
how this doctrine applies to each one of the errors 
to which I allude. The Colossians were claiming that 
there was a larger wisdom, which might be the pos- 
session of a few; that it was something that belonged 
only to the initiated; that it was something above and 
beyond what was presented to them in the gospel. 
Speculation and ascetic practices, they claimed, could 
put them in possession of this larger and nobler under- 
standing of the truth. How does Paul refute this 


error? By declaring to them that Jesus Christ is the 
wisdom and truth of God; that, if they have Jesus 
Christ, they have all wisdom and all truth; and that 
every single person who has Christ has this wisdom 
and this truth. No exclusiveness at all, absolute univer- 
salism of the gospel. 

The twenty-eighth verse of the first chapter of the 
Colossians we often read without understanding the 
remarkable significance of every word of it. Paul 
speaks of " admonishing every man and teaching every 
man in all wisdom, in order that we may present every 
man perfect in Christ Jesus." Three times, in that 
single verse, that phrase " every man " occurs. Ad- 
monish every man, teach every man in all wisdom, 
present every man perfect here is no confining of 
wisdom to a few. Every member of the Christian 
church has a right to the most esoteric teaching that 
can possibly be given. All the treasures of wisdom and 
knowledge are open to all believers. Paul teaches the 
perfect democracy of the church of God. You that 
belong to an intellectual caste are establishing a sort 
of secret society inside of the church. The notion 
has in it an infinite amount of evil. Admonish every 
man and teach every man in Christ the true wisdom of 
God, in order to present every man perfect. No one 
is to be contented with imperfection. All there is of 
perfection is open to every member of the church of 

The second great error, as you remember, was that 
of mediatorship between man and God; angels, princi- 
palities, and powers to be reverenced, to be worshiped, 
and to be made successive steps by which we might 


reach up to God; in other words, separation _of_jnan 
from God.. How does Paul meet that? Why, by tell- 
ing the Colossians that Jesus Christ is the one and only 
Mediator between man and God. Are we created 
by some angel or principality or power, which itself 
was created by something higher than it, and it 
created by something higher, and so on through suc- 
cessive sources back to God? Paul replies that there 
is just one Mediator between man and God, and one 
Creator, and that Mediator and Creator is Christ. The 
gulf between man and God is bridged by the one Jesus, 
our Lord. If we have Christ, we pass over all these 
mediators. They are thrust out of the way ; they have 
never existed. Christ is the one Mediator; when we 
have Christ we have direct communion between God 
and man; and because Christ is God the Creator, God 
the Sustainer, and God the Revealer, when we come to 
Christ we come into direct relation to God. ' He that 
hath seen me hath seen the Father," says Christ; and 
for salvation his prescription is, " Come unto me." 

What a blessing it is, my brethren and friends, that 
instead of being shoved off at a great distance from 
God and taught that we are to look up to angelic 
agencies by which we are to reach him, we are told, in 
this Epistle, that every rhrir.tian has direct relations 
to_lhe divine Christ, and that in Christ he ran rorne 
into direct communion with God, so that there is 
nothing any longer to separate him from the holy of 
holies and from immediate communion with the Father 
of his spirit! 

The last of the errors which I mentioned was prac- 
tical asceticism and mortification of the body ; " touch 


not, taste not, handle not " ; the idea that, by all sorts 
of restrictions, we are going to commend ourselves 
to God. That was the doctrine of the Essenes, in 
Palestine. There is a historical connection between 
the doctrine of the Essenes and the Colossians of the 
first century and the Gnostic heresy that sprang from 
it in the second century. Investigation has shown the 
connection between these three forms of heretical 

The Essenes, in Palestine, had all these various ideas 
of which I have spoken. They abjured, for example, 
the use of flesh, of wine, and of oil; and they rejected 
marriage. They were inclined to sun-worship, that 
is, a worship of the heavenly luminary; and they re- 
fused to offer bloody sacrifices. They rejected the 
resurrection of the body, because the body was mate- 
rial. The body was a source of evil ; and if they only 
got rid of the body at death they never wanted it back 
again. They therefore denied that the body was to 
rise, or that, in the next world, we were to have a 
body. These ascetic notions of the Essenes were 
propagated westward; we find these same notions 
among the Colossians, to whom Paul writes ; and after- 
ward we find these same ideas, more largely developed, 
in the Gnostics of the second century. 

How did Paul meet this doctrine of mortification of 
the body as the means of perfection? Why, simply 
by preaching Christ again. Christ is the great Puri=- 
fier ; Christ in the heart is the only Sanctifier. Do you 
suppose that you can make yourself better by simply 
putting yourself through bodily mortification and as- 
cetic practices? What you want is perfection within, 



purification of the heart. That is accomplished only 
by Christ within the soul. 

Paul mentions these outward restrictions with a 
sort of contemptuous tone, " touch not, taste not, han- 
dle not," as much as to say that they are of no value 
whatever, that mere asceticism and will-worship can 
never purify the flesh. He then turns^to the Colos- 
sians and says : " If ye then be risen with Christ, seek 
those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at 
the right hand of God," " for ye died and your life is 
hid with Christ in God." He urges them to put away 
all manner of evil, because they have Christ in them, 
and Christ is the very life of their souls. 

If there is a sensible doctrine in the world, that is a 
sensible doctrine, as opposed to the absurd notion that 
man can somehow make himself better by external 
mortifications and ablutions and restrictions. So we 
have Christ, the explanation of all the problems, and 
the remedy for all the errors of the Colossian church. 
The remedy for all this intellectual exclusiveness is in 
Christ, the wisdom of God. The remedy for all this 
notion of mediators, or agencies, between man and God 
is the idea of Christ, the one Mediator. The remedy 
for all this foolish notion of physical mortifications 
and self-denials is the living Christ within, the only 
Purifier and Sanctifier of the human spirit. 

What a magnificent doctrine this is that Paul 
preaches to us in the Epistle to the Colossians! In 
treating it I have followed the order of the apostle. 
First of all, Paul sets forth the dignity and glory of 
Christ ; then he states that, since we have such a Christ, 
we ought to beware of being led astray by philosophy 


and vain deceit, after the rudiments of the world and 
not after Christ ; and in the concluding chapter, since 
we have this Christ and all these glorious privileges, 
he urges us to walk worthily of the gospel which we 
have received. 

In the Epistle to the Colossians we have a yet more 
general truth intimated to us, namely, the relation be- 
tween philosophy and religion. There are many men 
who excuse their unbelief and disobedience with the 
idea that they have a better philosophy than that which 
Christianity can furnish. I would like to have you 
notice the word which Paul uses when he speaks of 
such philosophy as that. He bids us beware of being 
led astray by " vain deceit, after the rudiments of 
this world." Rudiments? What are rudiments? 
Why, rudiments are nothing but the A, B, C. Just as 
much as to say : Why, you people, who think you 
have so much philosophy, have only learned the first 
letters of the alphabet. You really do not know what 
philosophy is. The trouble with you is that you keep 
yourselves in the primary class, when you ought to 
have a knowledge, not only of the whole alphabet, but 
of everything that the whole alphabet can spell. Do 
not content yourself with the rudiments of the world ! 
Do not content yourself with things that can be per- 
ceived only with the intellectual eye, while you neglect 
the things perceived only with the heart. You cannot 
trust your native reason, your mere intellect, unen- 
lightened by the Spirit of God and unconditioned by 
a right state of the affections. No man, with the 
corrupt and perverse nature which he has received 
from his ancestry, can trust in himself, unaided. He is 


dependent upon the Spirit of God and upon divine illu- 

A young man, sick with the typhoid fever, was in 
that peculiar state where some of his perceptions were 
normal and some abnormal. He was partly rational, 
and partly irrational. In his state of weakness, life 
itself depended upon his taking nourishment. His 
mother came to him and said, " My son, drink this 
milk." He looked at it a moment and said, " It is 
black ! ' ! The mother replied : " Oh, no, my son, it is 
not black, this is milk. Drink it, the doctor says you 
must take it." He looked at it again and said, " No, it 
is black!" He would not take the milk. He died. Now 
a perverse heart, a depraved nature, can just as little 
trust some of its perceptions and notions with regard to 
God and divine things as that young man could trust 
the sight of his eyes. Suppose he had said to his 
mother : " Why, mother, have I not eyes ? has not God 
given me eyes to see with ? is there anything more cer- 
tain than the sight of my eyes ? The sight of my eyes 
declares that it is black." That young man was very 
foolish. He should have taken into consideration that 
he was in a state of fever and that, in his deplorable 
physical condition, his eyes might deceive him. In re- 
ligion I would a great deal rather trust the word of God 
than trust perceptions of my perverse spiritual na- 
ture ; and, if I have notions or beliefs which contradict 
the word of God, it becomes me to submit my beliefs to 
the declarations of Christ. That is better wisdom than 
the fevered philosophy of a man who is in this de- 
praved moral state. So with regard to the relation 
between philosophy and Christianity. Philosophy has 


only a rudimentary knowledge of the truth. Chris- 
tianity has the whole truth, because it is the whole 
wisdom of God as it is revealed in Jesus Christ. 

Paul does not, in the Epistle to the Colossians, speak 
of any overt acts of immorality on the part of the 
teachers of false doctrine. But we ought to remember 
that, in the second century, when these germs had de- 
veloped and borne fruit, the Gnostics were honey- 
combed with immorality, and their immorality was of 
the most degrading description. If teachers of unbe- 
lief do not, at present, show the dreadful fruits of 
false teaching in their own private lives, those fruits 
will certainly be shown in time, at least in their disci- 
ples. It is only the tree of correct Christian doctrine 
that bears, in the long run, the fruit of true morality. 

Let us be very careful, therefore, to hold the truth 
of Christ as it is revealed in his word. There is no 
safety but in accepting Christ as not only the way 
and the life, but also the truth. This Epistle to the 
Colossians presents to us Christ as the head of all 
things to the universe, just as the Epistle to the Ephe- 
sians presented to us Christ as the head over all things 
to the church. 


IN the very earliest times there was a place called 
Therma, at the northwestern corner of the ^Egean 
Sea. It was so called because there were warm springs 
there; and that place Therma gave its name to the 
Thermaic Gulf, the northwestern projection, so to 
speak, of the Greek Archipelago. That place was 
beautifully situated and had great advantages for com- 
merce. The result was that, in the year 315 before 
Christ, Cassander rebuilt it and gave it a new name 
from the name of his wife, who was the sister of 
Alexander the Great ; and the name he gave to the place 
was Thessalonica. 

This Thessalonica became afterward one of the 
great cities of the Via Egnatia, the great Roman mili- 
tary road between the East and the West, and a place 
of great political importance. 

In the time of the apostle it was the capital of Mace- 
donia; it was governed by a Roman prefect, although 
under him the old laws were respected, and according 
to those old laws there were seven politarchs, so called, 
or magistrates, elected by the people. It is a very 
curious fact that this word " politarchs " is used in 
the Acts of the Apostles in describing .the founding of 
the church at Thessalonica. The word precisely an- 
swers to what has recently been found to be the actual 
government of the city. The word, moreover, is found 
in inscriptions upon the site of the old city of 


Thessalonica ; and a ruined arch not only has this word 
" politarch " on it, but has also some names which bear 
a very strong resemblance to those we find in the Acts 
and in the Epistles. So we have evidence that the ac- 
counts of the founding of the church in the Acts and 
in the Epistles, which were written by Paul, are all 
genuine. They exactly fit in with what we know from 
other sources to be the surroundings and government 
of the place. 

Thessalonica was a center from which Christianity 
might be very easily diffused, for it was upon the 
great highway from the East to the West. All the 
travel from East to West passed through it. And, as 
it was a seaport of great importance, it shared with 
Corinth and with Ephesus the commerce of the ^Egean 
Sea. We are quite prepared to hear Paul say to us 
that from Thessalonica the gospel had sounded out 
through Macedonia and all Achaia. 

The modern town is called Salonica, a corruption 
or shortening of the ancient word. Even now it is 
the second city in European Turkey. It has a popu- 
lation of ninety thousand, a curious population in its 
constitution, for one-third of them are Spanish Jews 
who came thither when they were expelled from Spain ; 
one-third are Greeks; and another third are Turks. 

Very curiously too, one of the commonest trades in 
Salonica to-day is the weaving of goat's-hair, so that 
travelers say that the sound which most frequently 
strikes one's ear as he passes through the streets, is 
the click of the shuttle. And we read, in the found- 
ing of the church, that Paul worked here with his own 
hand; worked undoubtedly at his trade of weaving 


goat's-hair, or making tents of goat's-hair ; worked be- 
fore the break of day in order to save his time for 
preaching, and yet support himself in his labors for 
the gospel. 

You remember that, after Paul had preached the 
gospel in Philippi and had passed through stripes and 
imprisonment, he was compelled to leave the town, 
and to leave it suddenly. With his back still raw and 
bleeding from the scourge, he made his way through 
Apollonia and Amphipolis until he came to Thessa- 
lonica. As there is no mention of his staying any 
length of time in these intermediate places, it seems 
to be altogether probable that, without delay, he pro- 
ceeded to Thessalonica, and began to preach the gospel 
there a remarkable instance of courage and devotion 
in the prosecution of his work. Persecution in one 
place only drives him to another ; and, no sooner has he 
reached that other, than he immediately begins to 
proclaim the same truth that had brought him into 
difficulty before. The teacher is as indomitable as the 
truth is unchangeable. 

During his stay in Thessalonica he was dependent 
upon his own labor for his support. People there do 
not appear to have been wealthy. He would not lay 
upon those who were won for the gospel the burden 
of supporting him. During that short stay perhaps 
not more than a month he twice received contribu- 
tions from the Philippian brethren whom he had so 
recently left. So by his own personal labor, before the^ 
break of day or possibly by night work, after he had 
been preaching the gospel in public and from house to 
house all the day, Paul gained the means of his own 


support in carrying on his work in the gospel. For 
three Sabbath days he preached the gospel in the 

In Philippi there was no synagogue ; but in Thessa- 
lonica, apparently, there was a large number of Jews, 
and probably a synagogue where they met together. 
Some Jews, it is said, believed, and of the chief women 
not a few; and a multitude of proselytes were con- 
verted heathen adherents of the synagogue, or Gen- 
tiles who had accepted more or less perfectly the Jew- 
ish faith, but had not actually become Jews. The result 
seems to have been the formation of a church that 
was mainly composed of Gentile converts. We do not 
find in Paul's letters to the church any evidences of 
necessity on his part to deal with questions of law and 
circumcision, such as we find him dealing with when he 
writes to other churches that were Jewish in their con- 

He preached the gospel here for about four weeks, 
and gathered to himself so large a number of these 
proselytes that he aroused the wrath of the unbelieving 
Jews. They stirred up a riot against him. They as- 
sembled a great number of unbelievers in the market- 
place; and, with this following, made an assault upon 
the house of Jason, Paul's host. In the Epistle to the 
Romans, Jason is called a kinsman of Paul. Some 
have supposed that this means a kinsman spiritually; 
yet it seems most natural to take the word in its literal 
acceptation. When the Jews made their assault upon 
the house of Jason, Paul and Silas and Timothy were 
not there. They were perhaps preaching elsewhere, 
although still somewhere in the town. The Jews could 


only take Jason, Paul's host, and bring him before the 
magistrates, the politarchs of the city. 

They made the charge that Paul and Silas and Tim- 
othy were attempting to establish another sovereignty, 
by preaching in the name of one Jesus, a king. The 
intimation was that they were subverting the consti- 
tuted authority and were guilty of high treason. The 
magistrates were desirous of maintaining their good 
relations with Rome. If they allowed such preaching 
as this to go on they would be compromised; and, as 
they were unable at the time to take bail of Paul and 
Silas, they seem to have taken bail of Jason, that no 
harm should be suffered and that this work should not 
continue. The result was that Paul and Silas and 
Timothy, that very night, took their departure from 
Thessalonica, and presently made their way south- 
ward to Athens, and finally to Corinth, to which Paul 
came toward the close of the year A. D. 50. 

The persecution which had failed to harm the apos- 
tles themselves broke upon the devoted heads of the 
new church-members at Thessalonica. It would seem 
that they were maltreated after the departure of Silas 
and Paul, and that their circumstances of persecution 
and trial called especially for the sympathy of the 
apostle. This doubtless was one of the reasons why 
the first letter to the Thessalonians was written. Paul 
naturally was concerned about the spiritual and the 
temporal welfare of these new converts. Twice he 
proposed to make them a visit, but in one way or 
another he was prevented. At last he sent Timothy to 
inquire with regard to their state, and when Timothy 
came back to him with a favorable report, declaring 



that they were still steadfast in their faith, and were 
still witnessing for Christ in spite of persecutions, and 
in spite of many sorrows which had recently come to 
them in the deaths of some they greatly loved, Paul's 
heart overflowed with gratitude, and as, at another 
time, he wrote to the Corinthians his second Epistle 
full of love and thanksgiving to God, so he was moved 
to write this first letter to the Thessalonians, which 
expresses his ardent affection, and encourages them to 
endure persecution. Paul aims also to instruct them 
further in the Christian life, and to build them up in 
faith and holiness. As we read this first Epistle, es- 
pecially the first three chapters of it, we perceive that 
here is a church that is living in the first freshness of 
its love to Christ. It is a beautiful picture of over- 
flowing faith and zeal and affection. The apostle 
recognized it as a church in which the power of God 
had been made manifest. As they had gladly received 
the word, so they had been faithful to the word which 
they had received. 

Yet, at the same time, there were certain things that 
needed to be corrected, and which required admoni- 
tion. The members of the church were mostly Greeks, 
and they showed the defects of the Greek character. 
They were impulsive and excitable, and there was a 
tendency to indolence among them. Some were prone 
to avarice, and there was danger in sensual directions. 
All these things Paul recognizes; and while he com- 
mends them for their love and patience and faithful- 
ness to Christ, he warns them against these wrong ten- 
dencies, and strives to set them right. And yet, after 
all, the great danger of the Thessalonians has not yet 


been mentioned. Their main defects, and the main 
difficulties toward which Paul addresses himself in the 
latter part of the First Epistle, center about the doc- 
trine of the coming of Christ. If we can only under- 
stand what Paul's preaching had been, and how they 
had received that preaching, I think we shall have the 
proper point of view from which to estimate these two 
Epistles to the Thessalonians. 

At this time in the apostle's life he had not advanced, 
so far as we can see, to the teaching of those larger 
and profounder doctrines of the Christian faith which 
he sets forth so magnificently in the Romans and in 
the Ephesians and in the Colossians. It was a sort 
of elementary teaching that he gave to the Thessa- 
lonians, perhaps because of the fact that they were new 
converts from among the heathen, and that one thing, 
above all, needed to be impressed upon them, namely, 
the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The preaching of Paul 
to the Thessalonians, if we may judge from his Epis- 
tles, was such preaching as we find represented in 
his speeches in the Acts of the Apostles. 

Addressing heathen, as he did, he reproves their 
sins, declares their need of pardon, and stimulates 
them to repentance by declaring the coming of the Lord 
Jesus Christ as a Judge. When he has thus spoken of 
Christ as the Lord, and of Christ's coming to judge 
the world, the Thessalonians are led to accept the gos- 
pel, to believe in this Christ as a Saviour, and actually 
to enter the Christian church. 

Four weeks with these heathen converts was not a 
long time to expound the mysteries of the gospel of 
Christ. It would seem that the teaching given them 


was somewhat elementary. The doctrine of the com- 
ing of Christ was not fully understood by some of the 

After Paul had departed, they were led to think that 
the coming of Christ was not to be long delayed ; that 
it was certainly to take place in the lifetime of those 
who were then members of the church. Since some 
whom they especially loved had died already, they 
drew the inference that these departed friends, by 
dying before Christ's coming, had lost their share in 
the Messianic glory; in other words, that those who 
had been so early and prematurely taken away were 
debarred from participation in the Saviour's triumph ; 
and they grieved that their departed friends had lost 
so much. 

In the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul cor- 
rects this error first of all, and tells them that, when 
Christ comes, those who sleep in Jesus will be the first 
that are raised from the dead ; that they will be caught 
up in the air; and that then those who are living will 
be caught up with them, to meet the Lord in the 
clouds. Paul corrects their wrong impression with 
regard to the meaning of his words. He declares that 
the resurrection of the dead is one event; that all are 
to be raised together; that all are to be raised at the 
coming of Christ; and that the rising of those who 
have departed in the faith of Jesus will precede in time 
the rising of those who are still living at his coming. 
Since some were disposed to regard this coming as 
immediate, Paul urges them to be faithful in their ap- 
pointed calling; quietly to earn their own livelihood 
from day to day; to be prepared for whatever may 


come ; to be prepared whenever Christ comes, by being 
prepared always. And there the First Epistle to the 
Thessalonians leaves the matter. 

There was a class of New Testament prophets who, 
under the influence of the Holy Spirit, interpreted the 
Scriptures. Some of these prophets had declared the 
real truth with regard to this matter of Christ's com- 
ing and had pointed out their mistake to those who 
were thus agitated and excited. Those who were thus 
agitated had been inclined to neglect the admonitions 
that had been given to them. Paul, therefore, advises 
the Thessalonians not to despise the prophets, but to 
heed the instruction which they gave under the influ- 
ence of the Spirit. With these particular injunctions, 
and with a few others directed to more minute matters 
of Christian practical life, the First Epistle closes. 

Both the Epistles to the Thessalonians must be dated 
in the year A. D. 51. During the interval that elapsed 
between the First and Second Epistles an interval 
not very long in point of time, probably not more than 
six months at the most it would seem as if these 
tendencies in the Thessalonian church increased, until 
at last the agitation become very general, and the mis- 
interpretation of Paul's views became much more 
serious than at the first. 

People who are not accustomed to think very deeply 
can take any sort of document, can run away with a 
single phrase and exaggerate its meaning, while at 
the same time they neglect the qualifying words that 
have been used, and so fail to get the whole scope of 
the document. In this way the First Epistle of Paul 
to the Thessalonians was misinterpreted. While Paul 



speaks of what will happen at the coming of Christ, 
and declares that all should be ready for his coming, 
the inference was unwarrantably drawn that Christ's 
coming was in the immediate future, and that, there- 
fore, the main thing to do was to watch for the com- 
ing of the Lord and pay little attention to ordinary 
temporal affairs. Paul was credited with teaching that 
in the lifetime of those then living Christ would come 
in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 
It was necessary that Paul should correct this misappre- 
hension of his teaching. His second letter was written 
to set everything right by declaring that they had mis- 
understood what he had said to them. 

When you compare these two letters of the apostle, 
four things are perfectly plain with regard to them. 
The first is, that the two letters agree perfectly with 
one another. The doctrine of the one is perfectly con- 
sistent with the doctrine of the other. They are two 
hemispheres which complement one another. The 
second is, that there is not, in either of these Epistles, 
any statement that our Lord would come during the 
lifetime of those who were then members of the church. 
In the Second Epistle, Paul makes it perfectly plain 
that this is not to be so, by the fact that he prophesies 
great intervening events, and declares that these must 
take place before the Lord can come. " The man of 
sin " must be revealed. There is a power which now 
withholds his full manifestation, and that withholding 
power must be taken away first. In other words, it is 
intimated that the end is farther -away than these 
Thessalonians are inclined to believe. These great in- 
tervening events, then, are set forth as the third piece 


of instruction which the apostle gives to them. And 
then, fourthly, it is perfectly plain, upon reading these 
Epistles together, that the apostle never did teach ex- 
pressly, and never did teach at all, that Christ was to 
come in the lifetime of Paul himself. 

It is quite possible that the apostle Paul had his own 
private surmises with regard to the meaning of his 
prophetic utterances. But it is very important that we 
should distinguish between inspiration and inferences 
from inspiration. It is very important that we should 
distinguish between what the Spirit definitely commu- 
nicates with regard to the future, and the private im- 
pressions which even an apostle may have with regard 
to the meaning of those things that are communicated. 
Peter, in his Epistle, declares that those who were 
inspired in the Old Testament times " sought what 
time or what manner of time the Spirit within them did 
signify, when they spoke beforehand of the sufferings 
of Christ and the glory that should follow." In other 
words,* even inspired men in Old Testament times, 
when they had communicated great things with regard 
to the future, looked upon this revelation with wonder, 
and did not comprehend its meaning. A man may 
have given to him great. revelations with regard to the 
future, which, yet, he may not be able to understand. 
Just as under the Old Testament, the prophets had 
made known to them things with regard to the coming 
of Christ, and yet what time it was, or what manner 
of time it was, in which these things were to take 
place, they did not understand; just so Paul seems 
to have had made known to him the fact of the second 
coming of Christ, the resurrection, and the judgment, 


and yet Paul was not told when these things were to 
take place. He was left to himself with regard to 
that matter, and knew but little more as to the time 
of Christ's coming than did these church-members 
whom he addressed. Indeed, in the early part of Paul's 
life and ministry, and even while he was preaching to 
the Thessalonians and writing to them, Paul may have 
had a private surmise and hope that this revelation 
might refer to a time very near at hand in the future, 
and might have hoped that Christ's coming might be 
in his own day. But if he had such a private surmise 
as that, he never once taught it. There is not one word, 
in the Acts or in any one of his Epistles, which shows 
that Paul ever vouched for the immediate coming of 
Christ. On the other hand, it is plain that, as the 
apostle's life went on, his private impressions with re- 
gard to the meaning of Christ's revelation of the future 
changed their character; when he writes to Timothy, 
the last of the Epistles which we know to have pro- 
ceeded from him Second Timothy he says : " Now 
I am ready to be offered, and the time of my departure 
is at hand ; I have fought a good fight, I have finished 
my course, I have kept the faith." In other words, he 
expects death, after the ordinary manner, and per- 
haps by martyrdom. He does not expect that the Lord 
will come before he dies. He has got past any such 
impression as that. Either he has had new communi- 
cations from God with regard to the time, so that now 
he understands that it is not in the immediate future, 
or he has used his ordinary faculties of human dis- 
cernment to such effect that he sees the time to be 
farther away than he supposed in his early experience, 


But, I would have you remember, he has never taught 
anything about it ; and whatever false impressions have 
been formed by the Thessalonians in regard to this 
matter have been their own impressions, and not the 
necessary or proper result of any apostolic assertion. 

In the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, there- 
fore, Paul corrects the misapprehension that the 
Thessalonians had received with regard to his first 
communication; shows them that there must be great 
intervening events first; and urges them to put away 
habits of indolence and neglect of business, and to 
give up looking to the richer members of the church 
for their support, on the plea that the Lord is coming 
so soon that there is no use of labor or anxiety with 
regard to the future. He teaches that every man must 
work in order that he may eat, and may have some- 
thing besides with which to help those who are less 
comfortably off than he. It is true that the doctrine of 
the New Testament, and the prophecy of the New Tes- 
tament, and the church polity of the New Testament 
had a progressive development; but it is important 
that we understand what this progressive development 
was. This progressive development was simply an 
unfolding. Prophecy in the New Testament, as in 
the Old Testament, is gradually unfolded. We have 
prophecy in germ at the gates of Eden, when it is 
predicted that the seed of the woman shall bruise the 
serpent's head. As age after age goes by, that initial 
prophecy is qualified and expanded. Just so, in the 
New Testament revelation, we have the beginnings of 
prophecy in the discourse of our Lord Jesus with re- 
gard to the destruction of Jerusalem, and we have the 


unfolding of this revelation until at last we get the 
sum and ending of it in the Apocalypse, so that the 
revelation goes on until the very last apostolic writer 
has passed from earth. 

So it is with regard to doctrine. We cannot get all 
the doctrine of the New Testament from this Epistle 
to the Thessalonians the first Epistle that Paul wrote, 
as early as the year 53. We must take all the other 
Epistles that Paul wrote, down to the year 65 or 68, in 
order to get the whole doctrine of the apostle Paul, and 
even his Epistles must be supplemented by those of 
Peter, James, and John, if we would learn the complete 
doctrinal development of the New Testament. 

Just so it is with regard to church polity. We have 
the beginnings in the early Epistles. If you follow the 
Epistles in the order of time, you find one thing after 
another taught as you go on, until you get to the last 
Epistle, when you have a pretty fully developed out- 
line of the organization and offices and ordinances of 
the Christian church. This is God's method. The 
whole body of instruction with regard to prophecy, 
with regard to doctrine, and with regard to church 
polity was not given as a sort of lightning flash at 
the first; there was development in it; and yet that 
development reached its climax and culmination; all 
that was necessary to Christian faith and practice was 
given and was completed by the close of the apostolic 
age; and all development since then is simply develop- 
ment in the comprehension and understanding of the 
prophecy, doctrine, and polity then given. 

It is important to observe a second thing, namely, 
that this development in prophecy and doctrine and 


church polity, from stage to stage, was occasioned by 
actual outward and inward needs.' In other words, 
Christ did not make communications to the apostles 
without reference to the facts in the particular case, 
and the needs of the church which they were instruct- 
ing; but the revelation in each case was, step by step, 
drawn forth by the outward necessities of the churches 
to which the apostle wrote, and then by the inward ex- 
periences of the apostles themselves. Side by side with 
this development in prophecy and doctrine and church 
polity, we have the external needs of the churches. 
In the church at Jerusalem, for example, there was too 
much for the apostles to do. They could not serve 
tables, at the same time that they preached the gospel 
and prayed, as they ought. That particular necessity 
led to the appointment of deacons; the outward need 
led to that development of church organization. 

I find another example in the Epistle to the Colos- 
sians. Here was a great heresy brewing that finally 
culminated in the Gnostics of the second century; that 
false teaching in the Colossian church was made by 
the Holy Spirit the occasion of giving a magnificent 
exposition of the greatness of Christ and of showing 
that he is Head over all things to this universe, the 
Creator and Upholder of all. The outward need of 
the Colossians was the occasion of unfolding this great 
doctrine of the Christian faith. 

So we have two parallel lines. On the one hand, 
we have an advancing line of prophecy and doctrine 
and church polity; and then, on the other hand, we 
have a line of inward and outward experience, both 
on the part of the church and on the part of the apostle. 


There was in those times, just as there is in these 
later times, a principle of false religion which had to 
have its development. It seems to have been God's 
plan that, side by side with the church, there should be 
the opportunity to misrepresent truth and to show the 
error and tendency of evil. In the New Testament, 
side by side with the doctrine of faith and of grace, 
there is a continuous development of the principle of 
self-righteousness and dependence upon works. " The 
man of sin " must be revealed. I suppose " the man 
of sin " is essentially the same in all ages and times. 
The man of sin is not simply and only Roman Catholi- 
cism. It is not simply and only the doctrine of justifica- 
tion by works. It is all that tendency of the human 
heart to self-righteousness and pride, in matters of 
belief and in matters of practice, which stands over 
against the doctrine of the grace of God, as its bitter 
and perpetual antagonist. 

That principle of false religion began its develop- 
ment then; but it was hindered for a time, hindered 
by the outward and constant power of Roman govern- 
ment and organization. It reached its culmination, it 
had its greatest power of evil only when Roman law 
and organization was followed by hierarchy. The Epis- 
tle to the Thessalonians gives us the first of the prophe- 
cies of this mighty power of the world that is to rise 
as Antichrist and to oppose the kingdom of Jesus 
Christ, our Lord. Over against this prophecy of the 
coming opposition to the kingdom of God there stands 
another prophecy that must give us comfort, just as 
it gave the Thessalonians comfort then; and that is 
the prophecy of the coming of our Lord in judgment, 


to put down evil and to set up righteousness in the 
earth. Our Lord is to come. Paul, in the early part of 
his life, did not know when that coming would be, and 
thought perhaps that it might take place in his own 
day. But he never made this a matter of teaching to 
the churches, and before his death the false impression 
was dispelled. He came to see that the time of Christ's 
coming was farther on. Age after age has come since 
then, and age after age has been watching and wait- 
ing for the coming of the Lord. We are to watch, as 
those to whom the Master may come at any time ; and 
we are to be always ready. Somewhere in the future, 
we know not when, and we know not where, Christ is 
to come in clouds of heaven, in power and great glory, 
to judge the world ; and, for us Christians to-day, just 
as it was in the times when these Epistles to the Thessa- 
lonians were written, the coming of Christ is the great 
comfort and hope of the church. Our Lord has gone 
into a far country to receive a kingdom and to return ; 
we have been entrusted with our several talents; we 
are to employ and increase them until he comes. When 
he comes, he will bring us before him to render up our 
account. Let us be faithful to him, looking for and 
hastening, says the apostle, the coming of the day of 
God. By our faithfulness, by our zeal, by our Chris- 
tian labor and endeavors, we may make it possible 
for the Lord to come the sooner and to complete his 
work in the earth. In the last chapter of the book of 
Revelation we have the words, " Behold, I come 
quickly"; and the answer of the church to-day, just 
as it was the answer of the church then, is " Even so, 
Lord Jesus, come quickly." 

THE two Epistles to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus 
are called the Pastoral Epistles, because they were 
written by Paul to Timothy and to Titus, not as 
friends simply, nor as individual Christians simply, 
but as pastors of the church of God. They were writ- 
ten for the purpose of instructing these ministers in 
the proper methods of pastoral work. 

The three Epistles have a common character. The 
subjects of all are very much the same. They were 
written in the years 64 and 65, after Paul's release 
from his first Roman imprisonment, and not long be- 
fore his martyrdom. As the Epistles to the Thessa- 
lonians were the first that Paul wrote, so these Pastoral 
Epistles were the last of his writing. They are writ- 
ten under the shadow of approaching death. They 
are written by " Paul, the aged " ; by one not more 
than sixty years of age, yet old before his time because 
of the shipwrecks and the scourgings he has suffered 
for Christ. As he nears his end, he writes with 
pathetic earnestness, and in a style somewhat differ- 
ent from that of his earlier writings ; and these things 
give to the Pastoral Epistles a peculiar interest. Let 
me say a word or two, first of all, with regard to the 
persons to whom they were addressed: Timothy, on 
the one hand; Titus, on the other. 

Timothy was a native of Lystra, in Asia Minor, a 
city where there was no Jewish synagogue. A place 



that had no Jewish synagogue was a place where there 
were very few Jews; for, so soon as there were ten 
heads of families who were Jews, it was the custom 
to establish a synagogue. We conclude that in Lystra 
the number of those who professed faith in the true 
God must have been very small. 

At Lystra, Paul, in his first missionary journey, 
preached to the people, and some were converted to 
Christ It is not until the second missionary journey, 
some six years later, that we read of Timothy. Timo- 
thy was the son of a Jewish mother and of a Greek 
father. His Greek father must have been living, one 
would think, at the time when Timothy came under the 
influence of Paul ; for, at that time, he was still uncir- 
cumcised. Timothy had been instructed in the Scrip- 
tures by his mother and by his grandmother ; and that 
early knowledge of the Scriptures seems to have drawn 
Paul to him, and to have qualified Timothy for his work 
of preaching the gospel. It was certainly much to the 
credit of Timothy's mother and grandmother that, in 
a town where there were no privileges of public wor- 
ship, he should have been so faithfully instructed in the 
Scriptures of the Old Testament. There was some- 
thing in his mixed descent which qualified Timothy for 
the work to which the apostle Paul called him. Being 
partly Jew and partly Gentile, he had a peculiar fitness 
for the work of preaching the gospel in a community 
composed partly of Jews and partly of Gentiles. 

After six years Paul came back to Lystra, and found 
Timothy well known and highly esteemed in the 
church; found, moreover, that Timothy had natural 
gifts, in addition to his training in the Scriptures, 



which qualified him to be Paul's companion. Timothy 
seems to have been a young man of extreme and al- 
most effeminate sensitiveness of organization. This 
made him sympathetic, and gave him access to many 
classes of persons. His sensitive and conscientious 
nature tended toward a sort of asceticism, against 
which Paul warns him. And yet there were many quali- 
ties that drew him to Paul ; and he enjoyed, during the 
seventeen years in which he was Paul's companion, the 
constant instruction and affection of the apostle. 

Titus was a person of very different mental make- 
up from Timothy. He was a man of sterner stuff. 
Strange to say, Titus is not mentioned in the Acts of 
the Apostles. It is only in Paul's Epistles that we learn 
anything about him. But the various allusions to 
Titus, and the various missions upon which he was 
sent, seem to indicate that he was a person of stalwart 
mind and character. Titus was probably a native of 
Antioch. It is from Antioch that he goes to Jerusalem, 
with Paul and Barnabas. Perhaps he goes as a repre- 
sentative of the Gentile Christians; and in that Apos- 
tolic Council, to which he was a delegate, he secures 
the liberty of the Gentiles. They are not to be put 
under the restrictions of circumcision. Throughout 
his whole life, Titus is a living protest against the doc- 
trine that men, in order to become Christians, must 
first become Jews. 

The second time when we meet with Titus is in con- 
nection with the letter which the apostle Paul writes 
to the church at Corinth, commanding them to excom- 
municate the incestuous person. Titus' second mis- 
sion seems to have had for its object to insure the 


obedience of the Corinthian church to the directions 
of Paul a mission which could hardly have been en- 
trusted to any but a man of great discretion and 

Again, we find that Titus is left behind in the 
Island of Crete, to complete the apostle's work and to 
organize the churches, after Paul and he had preached 
the gospel there. When we remember what the Cre- 
tans were, it is very easy to see that this was a task of 
no small difficulty, and one which needed something 
more than a person of kind disposition and gentle 

Last of all, Titus goes to Dalmatia. Tradition says 
that Titus was the apostle of Dalmatia. Dalmatia 
was by no means a civilized region at that time; this 
seems like a mission to outside barbarians; it required 
not only zeal, but organizing ability. 

These are all the intimations we have with regard 
to Titus, and the work that Titus did, although we 
have occasional allusions to him in Paul's Epistles, the 
meaning of which I think we shall see a little farther 
on, when we consider the large amount of instruction 
which this Epistle contains. 

Here, then, were two persons of very different train- 
ing and influence. On the one hand, a person of kindly 
sympathy, of almost feminine mind and character ; and, 
on the other hand, a man of strong will and vigorous 
intellect. Yet both have their gifts of .leadership, and 
we can see that they are wisely chosen as the two per- 
sons to whom Paul addresses his Pastoral Epistles. 
It is as if he selected two of the most opposite types 
of character, in order that in them he might find the 


representatives of the whole ministry of Christ that was 
to arise and preach and work to the end of time. 

The dates of these Epistles to Timothy and Titus 
are difficult to determine with exactness. I can justify 
the dates which I have assigned during the years 64 
and 65 only by telling something of Paul's story. 

For many years it was thought that we must fix the 
date of these Epistles some time before the close of 
Paul's imprisonment as it is narrated in the Acts; but 
there are very great difficulties connected with this 
method of explaining their authorship. There seems 
to be no place in Paul's history, up to the time of the 
close of that imprisonment, where we can put the Epis- 
tles to Timothy and Titus. 

The First Epistle to Timothy, for example, seems to 
be written while Timothy remains in Ephesus during a 
journey of Paul into Macedonia. But there is no one 
of the journeys of Paul narrated in the Acts which the 
authorship of these Epistles will fit; for, in one of 
these journeys, Paul took Timothy with him, and there 
are insuperable difficulties connected with the other 
journeys. Our conclusion must be that these Epistles 
to Timothy and Titus were not written during the 
period that preceded the end of Paul's first imprison- 
ment at Rome, but must have been written after the 
close of that imprisonment. 

We have no information with regard to the close 
of that imprisonment, unless we get it from these 
Epistles themselves. It would appear that Paul was 
successful in his first appeal to Csesar; that, at the 
close of the stay in Rome, which is narrated in the Acts 
of the Apostles, he was released; and that, after his 


release, he executed a purpose which he had intimated 
a long time before, in his Epistle to the Romans, to go 
into Spain and preach the gospel there. In the year 
6 1 this first imprisonment of Paul's probably ended; 
and we may most reasonably conclude that the two fol- 
lowing years, the year 62 and the year 63, were spent at 
what Clement, the church Father, calls the ends of the 
earth, or in Spain ; that Paul preached the gospel there 
in comparative seclusion, since we have no Epistle dated 
from that time of the apostle's life. After his im- 
prisonment it was possibly the most salutary thing for 
him to remain in comparative quiet, far away from 
Rome and from the notice of the Roman authorities. 
After those two years in Spain we may believe that 
the apostle went with Titus to Crete, and there, for a 
year perhaps, engaged in missionary work, founding 
and instructing churches ; that from Crete he took his 
departure with Timothy, leaving Titus upon the 
ground to finish the work foe had done; and that he 
then accomplished what had been his purpose for a 
long time (as we find by his early Epistles), visited 
the church at Colosse, left Trophimus sick at Mile- 
tus, stayed for some time in Ephesus with Timothy, 
left him behind to be his representative, and went 
northward through Troas to Philippi, having promised 
the Philippian church to visit them. From Philippi, 
three years perhaps after his first imprisonment at 
Rome terminated, Paul wrote the First Epistle to 
Timothy, while Timothy was pastor of the church at 
Ephesus. Leaving Philippi, he goes southward to 
Corinth, and at Corinth he leaves Erastus. Then he 
goes into Macedonia to Nicopolis; and from Nicopolis 


he writes the Epistle to Titus, who is still in Crete, 
giving directions in regard to the conduct of his pas- 
toral work there, and the organization of the Cretan 

AtJS[ico_rjolis, according to tradition, Paul was again 
arrested upon the charge that he was the leader of 
the Christians throughout the world. The attitude of 
the Roman authorities toward the Christian faith had 
become more rigorous. Paul was taken to Rome, and 
at Rome he suffered, not the very tolerable confinement 
which characterized his first captivity, but a much more 
painful imprisonment 

In his first appearance before Caesar he appears to 
have been successful, although no one stayed by him. 
It required courage as well as Christian principle to 
stand by the apostle, when standing by him might in- 
volve a sharing in his martyrdom. In his second letter 
to Timothy he says that only Luke was left with him. 
The friends that were about him in his first captivity 
were absent now. 

The Second Epistle to Timothy, written during 
this second Roman imprisonment, has an entirely dif- 
ferent air from the First Epistle, which was written to 
Timothy from Philippi, and from the Epistle to the 
Philippians, in which he anticipates release. He seems 
now to anticipate a speedy departure from the world; 
and in that Roman prison, in a very pathetic and it 
seems to me a very affecting way, he writes to Timo- 
thy, as he had previously written to Titus at Nicopolis, 
to bring to him certain things he was in need of. The 
cold of the prison demanded a greater amount of cloth- 
ing than he had, "Bring the cloak I left at Troas." 


He also had need of the books, and especially the 
parchments, Old Testament Scriptures, or possibly 
blank parchments upon which he might write some- 
thing still to the churches he was soon to leave behind, 
and for whose welfare he was solicitous. 

Here are evidences that the apostle was brought 
to a state of real need, and that little text about bring- 
ing the cloak, which has seemed to some so trivial as 
almost to constitute an objection to the inspiration of 
the writing, seems to me to have in it a great deal of 
suggestion. It is worthy to be a text of a whole ser- 
mon. It indicates that the apostle Paul was brought 
into great straits ; and in the urgent request that Timo- 
thy will come to him quickly, we seem to see the im- 
pression that the end was drawing near. He wished 
to give Timothy his last instructions and to send his 
dying wishes to the churches. 

And so the Second Epistle to Timothy, the last 
Epistle we have from the hand of the apostle, was 
written from a Roman dungeon ; and only a little after, 
a file of Roman soldiers marched out with Paul upon 
the Ostian way, dug there a grave, severed his head 
from his body, and buried him on the spot. 

The object of these Epistles, as I remarked at the 
beginning, is common to them all. Since the mission 
of the churches is the same, and the needs of the 
churches the same, Paul writes in very much the same 
strain to them all. 

Two things the churches were especially in danger 
of, and Paul did all he could do to counteract these 
dangers. First, there was the danger arising from 
false doctrine. Paul had been absent from these 


churches for several years; he had not been able to 
give them continuous instruction; he had been com- 
pelled to commit his work to others. During that 
time, Judaizing teachers had crept in; they were pro- 
pounding their endless genealogies; and the germs 
which afterward developed into Gnosticism were all 
felt in each one of these churches of Christ. 

In the book of Revelation the Epistle to the angel 
of the church at Ephesus describes the same errors 
and dangers against which Paul warns Timothy. The 
apostle John, only a little later, finds full grown the 
errors and dangers which previously caused sorrow to 
the apostle Paul. Timothy was pastor at Ephesus, and 
Paul addressed him. There were Hymenaeus and Phile- 
tus who concerning the truth had erred, saying that 
the resurrection was past already. They spiritualized 
the resurrection, declaring that at death the soul en- 
ters at once into its loftier state ; that that loftier state 
is ethereal; and that the body does not rise at all. 
These errors the apostle had first of all to meet, not, 
as in the Epistles written during his first captivity at 
Rome to the Colossians and Ephesians and Philippians, 
by an elaborate expounding of any single Christian 
doctrine, but as an old and tired man would meet 
them, by referring once more to the first principles of 
the gospel of Christ. 

It is as much as to say that all we need to counteract 
this heresy is to return to Jesus, the Saviour, and to 
learn once more the A, B, C of the Christian faith. It 
is the old man who, in a more broken way than in his 
first Epistles, with nothing like the sustained eloquence 
which we find in the Epistles to the Ephesians and the 


Colossians, gives his final instructions to those who 
have under their care the church of Christ. 

There was a second difficulty among these churches 
to which the apostle was writing, through their repre- 
sentatives, and that was a difficulty with regard to 
church organization. Now church organization was a 
matter of development. There was not so much 
church organization at the beginning as there was in 
later days. That was ordained by God. One thing 
after another was provided as the need of it arose. 
Before we get to the end of the apostle's teaching we 
find a complete outline of church organization ; and in 
these Epistles we find more in regard to church offices 
and church government than we find anywhere else. 
Here are depicted the qualifications for the Christian 
ministry. We have here the qualifications for the 
deaconship. We have directions with regard to disci- 
pline of those who are heretics and of those who are 
sensual. These instructions which Paul sent to his 
representatives in the ministry have been of great im- 
portance in the determination of church polity, during 
all these later times. 

The style of these Epistles is different in some re- 
spects from the style of Paul's earlier writings. It has 
been a puzzle, to those who have examined the Epis- 
tles from a literary point of view, to know how the 
same person could have written, for example, both 
the Epistles to the Thessalonians and the Epistles to 
Timothy and Titus. But you are familiar with the 
fact that a man's style changes as he advances in 
years. When George William Curtis wrote his Poti- 
phar papers, many years ago, there was a lingering 


sweetness long drawn out, of which Curtis after- 
ward became incapable. If one should read the Poti- 
phar papers now, and should mark the infinite deli- 
cacy and the excess of sentiment which characterizes 
them, he would think it almost impossible that the 
same man could have written the calm and statesman- 
like articles of " Harper's Weekly." And yet it is 
the same man. And so Paul, from the early part of his 
life to the latter part of his life, must have undergone 
a very great change in this matter of style. He had 
had experience of the world, he had mingled with all 
sorts of men, he had passed through all sorts of suffer- 
ing; and now, toward the close of his life, there is a 
terseness and incisiveness in his writing, and an ad- 
vanced and enlarged Christian experience, such as we 
do not find in the earlier Epistles. His style changed 
with his subject and his circumstances, as the style of 
every practical writer does. 

Paul had an exceedingly mobile, an exceedingly im- 
pressible, and an exceedingly fertile mind. Paul was 
one who could take in as well as give out. To the 
end of his life he was always learning ; and as he writes 
these private letters, for these you must notice, unlike 
the earlier Epistles of which we have spoken, are let- 
ters to individuals, he very naturally writes in a dif- 
ferent style from that which characterized the letters 
written to the churches. A private letter is very dif- 
ferent from an official communication; and a letter 
of direction to individuals is very different from a doc- 
trinal treatise, such as we find in the Epistles to the 
Romans and to the Ephesians. These considerations 
are sufficient to account for whatever difference of 


style we find between Paul's early Epistles and his 
later ones. 

How much we should lack if these Epistles to Timo- 
thy and Titus were taken from us! They are the 
natural, and one might almost say the necessary, sup- 
plement to our other knowledge of Paul's life. If all 
that we knew with regard to the apostle's teaching 
ended with the Epistles to the Ephesians, the Philip- 
pians, and the Colossians, there would be a very large 
part of Paul's life and heart which would be still un- 
known to us. There are personal experiences here of 
which we should have no record if these Epistles were 
taken from us. How did Paul feel as the shadows of 
approaching death began to creep upon him? How did 
Paul look forward to the end of all things earthly ? It 
is a delightful thing to me to have related here, in 
Paul's own words, an experience something like that 
of Christian in the " Pilgrim's Progress," when he is 
just about to step down into the cold river which sepa- 
rates him from the City of God on the other side. " I 
am now ready to be offered, and the time of my de- 
parture is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have 
finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth 
there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which 
the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that 
day." Here the apostle, after all his sufferings and 
trials, and in the very face of approaching death, is 
uttering these calm, confident words, This is a bless- 
ing to the whole church of Christ; it is a blessing to 
every one of us, because it gives us warrant for taking 
these same words upon our lips when we come to die. 

There is instruction with regard to the conduct of 


affairs in the church of Christ, which we should lack 
if these Epistles were taken from us. Paul had great 
anxiety with regard to the future. He wanted to put 
into other hands the work of preaching the gospel and 
of sustaining the church; and that he does in these 
Epistles. He charges Timothy to commit this same 
gospel which he preached to faithful men who should 
be able to teach others also. Paul was a whole theo- 
logical seminary by himself. He desired to raise up 
and instruct those who should afterward teach the 
word of God. There is no indication that Paul felt de- 
pressed with regard to the past or future. When 
Luther came to this point in his life, where death be- 
gan to draw nigh, great man as he was and great work 
as he had done, he felt as if his life had been spent in 
vain, and as if everything he had accomplished was 
about to be swept away. Great discouragement came 
upon him. In such a state of mind as that, his life 
ended. In the case of Paul we have a better illustra- 
tion of faith in Christ than is given by Luther. Paul 
in his Roman prison, with the certainty that he was 
soon to be taken away, and with no one in all the world 
to take his place, still feels hopeful with regard to the 
church of God. His only anxiety is to commend to 
others the work he is so soon to lay down. 

There is something very interesting in Paul's gravi- 
tating again toward Rome after his first imprisonment 
there. It seems as if there was a tremendous magnet 
in that capital of the world that drew him there. If 
the tradition be true that Peter also suffered martyr- 
dom there, then both the apostles Peter and Paul 
felt as if the great thing to do was to conquer the 


Eternal City for Christ. Although Paul has been im- 
prisoned there, and has been in danger of martyrdom 
there, he still cannot rest until he gets back to Rome ; he 
will dash himself during his last hours against that 
stone wall of Imperial Rome, with the assurance that 
Christ is able to strike that wall until it falls ; and so in 
Rome he writes his last letter, the Second Epistle to 

Paul tells us in this Epistle that what we have our- 
selves received we must commit to faithful men, that 
they may be able to teach others also. In other words, 
every one of us has a responsibility for the extension 
and continuance of the preaching of Christ's truth after 
we are dead. It is our business to see that the gospel 
is preached and published to the generations that are 
yet to come. 


PHILEMON was perhaps a native, and certainly a resi- 
dent, of the city of Colosse, one of the Colossian Chris- 
tians, therefore, to whom the Epistle to the Colossians 
was written. Colosse was a city in the southwest of 
Asia Minor, upon the banks of the river Lycus. 

Philemon apparently was a convert of the apostle 
Paul, though Paul had never made a visit to Colosse. 
It would almost seem as if, led by trade, he had visited 
Ephesus, perhaps with Epaphras, and there come under 
the influence of the apostle's preaching during Paul's 
two or three years' stay in that great city. Being con- 
verted to Christ, he seconded the efforts of Epaphras 
to preach the gospel to his fellow townsmen ; and being 
a man of wealth and hospitable instincts, he seems to 
have opened his house for the meetings of the church. 
So the apostle, in the Epistle, sends his salutations to 
the church that is in that house. 

Some have thought, from a word that is used in the 
Epistle, namely, the word " partner," that the rela- 
tions between Paul and Philemon were partly relations 
of business; and there is a curious use of commercial 
or business terms in the Epistle. A noted English in- 
terpreter, by the name of Plumptre, has actually writ- 
ten an essay upon the apostle Paul as a man of busi- 
ness, and has put together a number of allusions in the 
Acts of the Apostles and in Paul's various Epistles, 
which seem to show that the apostle was not at all 



ignorant of business life. He thinks that, during those 
two or three years in Ephesus, when the apostle Paul 
was dependent, as he ordinarily was, upon the labor 
of his hands, he possibly made a sort of business con- 
nection with Philemon; that they had business trans- 
actions together ; and that when Paul writes to him as 
his partner, he is using that term in a business sense. 
All this is somewhat precarious, and we may better con- 
clude that the relation between Paul and Philemon was 
that of partnership in the Christian faith rather than 
of partnership in commercial enterprises. At any rate, 
it seems that Philemon was a fellow helper or fellow 
laborer of the apostle's, for Paul applies this term to 
him in the Epistle. Philemon was evidently engaged in 
the spreading of the gospel, and did everything he 
could to advance the cause of Christ. 

In the salutations of the Epistle to Philemon, two 
other persons are mentioned. One of them is Apphia ; 
and Apphia was without question, I think, the wife of 
Philemon. The third who is mentioned is Archippus; 
and since both these names are mentioned before the 
church is mentioned that worshiped in their house, it 
seems altogether possible that Archippus was their son. 
So we have three members of this Christian family 
brought to our attention : Philemon, Apphia his wife, 
and Archippus their son. 

Archippus seems to have held some sort of official 
position in one of the churches of the neighborhood, 
probably the church of Laodicea, which was in walking 
distance of Colosse; and in the Epistle to the Colos- 
sians we have exhortations to Archippus that he take 
heed with regard to the office which he held, to fulfil 


it. It is possible that Archippus was the elder, or 
presbyter, or pastor, of the neighboring church of Laod- 
icea, although he may not have resided there. Since 
he was the son of Philemon and Apphia, and saluta- 
tions of the apostle were extended to him in this letter 
to Philemon, it would seem that he still lived with his 
parents at Colosse. 

There was another member of this family whom I 
have not yet mentioned. With these three, Philemon, 
his wife Apphia, and their son Archippus, that house- 
hold included also a man of the lowest social stratum 
the slave Onesimus. Onesimus was not only a slave; 
he was also a thief and a runaway. Apparently finding 
that the burdens and responsibilities of his position as 
slave were irksome to him, he fled from Colosse and 
from this relation of servitude ; and in order to provide 
the means of his journeying he robbed his master, and 
so made his way to Rome. It may seem strange that a 
slave like Onesimus should have gone so far from his 
master and from his town; but we must remember 
that a city like Rome, where all nations congregated, 
furnished the very best hiding-place for a criminal. 
Rome was the easiest place to get at; for, as the old 
proverb reads, " All roads lead to Rome " ; and at 
Rome he might most easily find employment. In 
Rome, moreover, there was the most to see and the 
largest experience of the world to be gained, so that 
there were many reasons why this runaway slave 
should have made his way as quickly as possible to the 
Imperial City. 

But he made his way to the Imperial City only to 
be apprehended by the Lord Jesus, and to be made 


the Lord's freedman. How it was that, in the city of 
Rome, he was brought into contact with the apostle 
Paul we do not know. The story is not told us. Per- 
haps hunger drove him to Paul for help. Perhaps con- 
science drove him to Paul for consolation. Perhaps 
Epaphras of Colosse, who was visiting Rome as a 
helper of the apostle Paul, met him in the street and 
persuaded Onesimus to accompany him to the house 
where the apostle was in surveillance, chained to a 
Roman soldier. Some way or other, Onesimus, the 
runaway slave, was brought into the presence of the 
apostle Paul ; and Paul did not disdain to preach to him 
the gospel, just as he preached it to the low and the 
high, people of all ranks and all conditions; and the 
result of it seems to have been very quickly that Ones- 
imus became a convert to the gospel of Christ, that his 
heart was changed and his whole temper and spirit 
and purpose were altered. Now he desired nothing so 
much as to make recompense for the past and to begin 
an entirely new Christian life. Paul seems to have been 
testing the reality of his conversion for a little while, 
for he declares in this very Epistle that Onesimus has 
been very helpful to him. 

There were many services that Onesimus could ren- 
der, and Paul commends him for those services; de- 
clares that he is loath to part with him ; he would much 
prefer to keep him. But there were many reasons why 
Onesimus should not remain in Rome.. Roman slavery 
was an awe-inspiring institution, and many a slave was 
crucified for smaller offenses than that which Onesimus 
had committed. Paul evidently thought that, for Ones- 
imus' sake, and for the gospel's sake, it was desirable 


that the gulf between him and his master should be 
filled up ; and so, as Tychicus was going back to Ephe- 
sus and Colosse, and was to bear a letter to the church 
in Colosse, Paul sent Onesimus back with him. Into 
Onesimus' hands he placed what one might call a letter 
of introduction and commendation to his former 
master, urging that master to receive him kindly and 
in a Christian way, for Paul the apostle's sake. So, 
in the year 61, perhaps five years after the first founda- 
tion of the church at Colosse, Paul, in his first Roman 
imprisonment, writes the Epistle to Philemon. Onesi- 
mus takes it to Philemon, and presents it to his former 
master. What the result of that presentation is we do 
not know, but I think it cannot be doubtful that the 
letter was successful in accomplishing its end; that 
Philemon received Onesimus as a Christian brother; 
that Onesimus became his faithful servant again; and 
that so the breach was healed. 

The course of thought in this Epistle is very touch- 
ing and instructive. Although it is one of the shortest 
Epistles of the New Testament, it is most worthy of 
our consideration. Let us see how Paul treats this 
peculiar case that has come under his notice and has 
so engaged his interest. 

The Epistle is not written for the purpose of touch- 
ing any great point of doctrine. It is not intended to 
rebuke any serious crime or sin of Philemon's, to whom 
it is addressed. It is a private letter. And yet, because 
it is a private letter, unlike any other of the Epistles 
in the New Testament, unless it be the Second and 
Third Epistles of John, it has lessons of great impor- 
tance for us. As the Epistle to the Ephesians has been 


called the hymn of Christianity, this Epistle to Phile- 
mon may be called the idyl of Christianity. 

The introduction to the Epistle contains a salutation 
from Paul and Timothy to Philemon of Colosse. 
How Timothy should be mentioned in the salutation 
I think may be made comprehensible if we remember 
that during the two or three years when Paul was 
preaching in Ephesus, Timothy was his helper, and 
Philemon may have made the acquaintance and have 
gained the friendship of Timothy in that place. When 
Paul writes from his Roman prison to Philemon, it is 
a very natural thing to include in his address the name 
of Timothy, his helper. After the first salutation, there 
come a few words of commendation. The apostle 
shows his gentlemanliness of spirit by the gracious and 
kindly way in which he begins his Epistles. He always 
takes men upon their most favorable side. He always 
mentions in a kindly and appreciative way what there 
is that is good in them. At the very beginning he 
praises Philemon's benevolence and faith, which had 
been a great comfort to the church of God, and had 
furnished instructive lessons to the world as to the 
reality and power of Christianity. 

That was a good way to begin an Epistle in which 
he had a very serious and important request to make; 
and after having thus prefaced his Epistle by mention- 
ing, what he could mention with great heartiness, the 
great benevolence and faith of Philemon, he next 
waives all claims upon Philemon based upon the fact 
of his apostleship. He leaves that all out of account; 
takes the place of the humble servant of Christ before 
him; and writes to him not as an apostle now, but as 


Paul, the aged, a prisoner of Jesus Christ. In other 
words, he presents himself before Philemon as one 
marked by the shipwrecks and scourgings he had en- 
dured, and aged before his time; as one now suffering 
imprisonment ; and as one who has before him possible 
martyrdom for the sake of Christ. But the great apos- 
tle does not presume upon his own authority, nor even 
upon the fact that Philemon owes to him his conver- 
sion; he does not threaten or command; he simply ap- 
peals to Philemon as a servant of Christ who had suf- 
fered much for the Master, and who might, on that 
account, have a tender place in Philemon's heart. Only 
after this gracious introduction does Paul come to the 
fact of Onesimus' fault. 

He tells Philemon that he is well aware of the crime 
which Onesimus has committed. He speaks of him, 
however, as having become a convert of Christ, as 
having repented of his fault, as being now a changed 
man, and, as a proof of this change, he speaks of 
Onesimus' helpfulness to the apostle in his Roman im- 
prisonment. He urges this as a proof that, in the 
future, he may be profitable both to Paul and Phile- 
mon again. The changed spirit of the man furnishes 
the basis of an appeal to Philemon, and there follows 
the one thing for which the Epistle was written, 
namely, an earnest entreaty on the part of Paul that 
Philemon will forgive Onesimus what he has done, 
forgive him the act of robbery that he has committed, 
forgive him that he has broken away from his master 
and run away to Rome, and that he will receive him 
back, not simply as the slave he was before, but as a 
brother in Christ. 


It is a very beautiful thing that, in the Epistle to the 
Colossians, which was written at just this time, and 
which was sent by the hand of Tychicus along with 
Onesimus, Paul commends to the whole Colossian 
church this runaway but converted slave, declaring, 
" He is a faithful and beloved brother who is one of 
you." In other words, he sends him back to the Colos- 
sian church with his warm affection and strong recom- 
mendation; and then, at the same time, he sends this 
Epistle to Philemon, urging him not only to take Ones- 
imus back into his service, but also to take him now 
into his heart, as a brother beloved in Christ. Then 
follow expressions of confidence on the part of Paul 
that Philemon will do this thing that he is asked to 
do, and a declaration that, if Onesimus is indebted to 
Philemon, Paul himself will undertake to pay that 
debt. He will take upon himself the burden of repay- 
ing the pecuniary loss that Philemon has sustained, if 
Philemon requires it. Yet he reminds Philemon that, 
being his convert to Christ, he owes to Paul all that 
he has, owes to him something of infinite value, owes 
to him his hope in Christ and his hope of heaven. It 
is as much as to say : " If you think it well, I will pay 
to you all you have lost by this act of robbery on the 
part of Onesimus; but still you will remember how 
much you owe to me." All is left to Philemon's good 
will. Philemon shall do just as he pleases, but, at any 
rate, Paul wants him to receive Onesimus back; and, 
as to any pecuniary loss, Paul will sustain that, if there 
is any pecuniary loss to be borne. Paul asks Phile- 
mon to prepare a lodging for him, in prospect of his 
coming visit, which evidently shows that, in this first 


imprisonment, Paul expected that his appeal to Caesar 
would be successful, and that he would be released. 
That visit he undoubtedly did pay; some time there- 
after he was arrested and taken back to Rome to his 
second imprisonment; that second imprisonment ended 
with his trial, condemnation, and execution. 

The Epistle to Philemon consists of only eighteen 
or twenty verses, but it is certainly one of the most 
beautiful private letters that have come down to us 
from all antiquity. There is a letter written by the 
elder Pliny to a friend of his, which is just about as 
long as this Epistle, and is written on behalf of a 
slave who has also run away from his master, and 
whom Pliny seeks to restore; and these two Epistles 
the heathen and the Christian have been put side by 
side with one another. In the heathen epistle the ar- 
guments for the restoration of the slave are all based 
upon the consideration of friendship, and there is no 
appeal to Christian love. There is no request that the 
master will take the slave back to his heart, and will 
consider him as a Christian brother ; there is no appeal 
to religious considerations, but simply an appeal to the 
good temper and kindness and personal friendship of 
the person addressed; so that, as compared with this 
Epistle to Philemon, the whole spirit of it is a very 
different one. Although it is a noble example of 
heathen kindness and benevolence, it shows no trace of 
the principle which actuates this Epistle of Paul to 
Philemon. It is a very curious fact that in the fourth 
century there were Fathers of the church who were 
inclined to deny this Epistle a place in the canon, 
simply because they thought it was so trivial and 

unedifying. How they mistook the meaning and impor- 
tance of it ! To them, the battle of the creeds, as Bishop 
Lightfoot said, was of more importance than the fate 
of a single slave. Those were the days of slavery, and 
these Christian Fathers could hardly conceive how the 
apostle could have taken so much interest in the fate 
of a man so far beneath him in social standing. We 
do not need to go back to antiquity to find illustra- 
tions of the indifference of prominent Christians to 
the wants and woes of the illiterate and the poor. In 
the last century, Whitefield, the great evangelist, did 
not hesitate to be the owner of slaves, even at the time 
when he was preaching the gospel of Christ with the 
greatest power and success. It took a great while to 
convince Christendom that to have a fellow man your 
chattel and property is inconsistent with the equal 
brotherhood of the gospel of Christ. History has 
justified the position and rank of this Epistle in the 
New Testament, and I think there are two respects in 
which it is exceedingly instructive to us. 

In the first place, it gives us a beautiful example of 
the proper spirit and method of Christian intercourse. 
This private letter of one Christian to another, prefer- 
ring a request which seems to him of importance, has 
a spirit and method in it that is of very great value. 
The apostle had the right to command, but he does 
not command at all. How humble, how unpretentious, 
how quiet, how kindly, how pleading is the tone! 
Everything is put on the ground of Christian love, and 
of Christian love alone. 

If we Christians would bring over our brethren to 
any project of ours, if we would persuade them to do 


what we wish, the proper tone on our part is not the 
tone of command, nor the tone of threatening, nor the 
tone of remonstrance, but rather the tone of entreaty 
and persuasion. Christ's method is the quiet and hum- 
ble method of Christian love. An appeal to the heart, 
which puts everything upon the basis of love to Christ, 
will accomplish wonders ; when the other way, the hard 
way, the remonstrating way, the threatening way, will 
accomplish nothing. Paul gives us in this letter, first 
of all, a model of the methods of influencing Chris- 
tian friends and of doing Christian work in the church 
of Christ. 

As a second and last piece of instruction, this Epis- 
tle shows us how Christianity undermines and finally 
does away with the great organized wrongs of human 
society. It has been said that the word " emancipa- 
tion " was trembling upon the apostle's lips ; and yet 
he does not utter it. Christianity does not aim to ac- 
complish sudden social revolutions. Christianity does 
not begin from the outside and work inward ; it begins 
within and works outward. It does not begin with the 
mass of men and then come to the individual ; it begins 
with the individual and so spreads to the mass. It 
does not take the great institutions of the world, those 
creations of organized iniquity, and by one fell swoop 
destroy them in an instant; it infuses into them a new 
spirit and temper, and that new spirit and temper per- 
meates them like leaven in the meal. You look, and 
this great organization of iniquity is a thing of the 
past. So it was with the despotism of the Caesars. The 
apostle Paul did not fulminate against the Roman Em- 
pire, with its wickedness and tyranny. The powers 


that be are ordained by God ; so long as human govern- 
ment exists he urges us to obey the government; but 
he puts the spirit of love into human hearts, so that, 
little by little, it does away with this system of despot- 
ism. So he did not utter any denunciation of slavery. 
Denunciation would have accomplished little. Paul 
preached Christ; and when people saw that Christ 
loved the meanest slave so much that he gave his very 
life to save him, the master could no longer tread that 
slave under his feet. Among the Hebrews, slavery 
was not so great an evil, because they themselves had 
been slaves in times past, and that gave them a feeling 
of compassion for those who were in bonds to them. 
Slavery among the Jews could last only six years with 
any individual. The seventh year was the day of re- 
demption, and the slave was set free. The number of 
slaves among the Jews was very small; and, where 
that is the case, the master does not fear the slave, and 
is not called upon to use measures of cruelty. 

How different from the Athenians and Romans ! In 
Athens and Rome, in the days of power and splendor, 
the number of slaves and freemen was four to one ; and 
in order to keep that vast mass of slaves under the 
yoke, there were cruelties and restrictions such as were 
never known among the Hebrews. The slave could 
be given away; he could be sold; he could be be- 
queathed by will ; he could be put to death ; and no one 
could call his master to account. It was not so among 
the Hebrews. Slavery had the whole Roman Empire 
at its back. It would have been useless for Paul to 
urge its destruction, or to speak against it ; he preached 
Christ and him crucified; he brought men to Christ 


and filled men's hearts with the love of Christ; and, 
with that love of Christ within, they became patient 
and tender toward their slaves, and counted them their 
brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus ; so there was a new 
spirit infused into society, which gradually led to the 
liberation of the slave. We see the fruits in these 
Christian times, in the liberating of two hundred mil- 
lions of serfs by the Czar in Russia, and in the emanci- 
pation of three million slaves in the Southern States of 
America. The day will come when there will not be 
one single slave upon this footstool. We see the dawn- 
ing of that day already. Slavery still exists in Africa, 
but all the civilized nations of the world are banded to- 
gether to put it down. When slavery has vanished 
from the face of the earth, its disappearance will be the 
result of the preaching of Christ's gospel, and of that 
era of human liberty and equality this Epistle to Phile- 
mon is the prelude and prophecy. 



THE Epistle to the Hebrews presents more enigma 
than does any other Epistle of the New Testament. 
The origin of it and the destination of it are uncer- 
tain. We are not sure whether it is a treatise or an 
Epistle. It takes the Old Testament itself to prove the 
insufficiency of the Old Testament, and to show that 
the Old Testament economy is to vanish away. The 
form of doctrine which we find in it is intermediate 
between that of Paul and John, and this suggests ques- 
tions as to authorship which are difficult to answer. 
Although it is written in the purest and most elegant 
Greek of any writing of the New Testament, it was 
written, not to Greek or Gentile Christians, but to He- 
brews; and it appears before us, like that Melchisedec 
who makes so great a figure in the Epistle itself, " with- 
out father or mother, without beginning of days or 
end of years," yet shows forth the Lord Jesus Christ, 
and the glory of the new covenant in some aspects 
which are not elsewhere revealed. It is not neces- 
sary to the inspiration of a New Testament document 
that we should be able to tell the precise source or 
author of it; it is only necessary that it should come 
from God and should be adapted to the religious in- 
struction of mankind. The history of its reception in 
the Christian church is itself very peculiar. It was a 
stormy history through which it passed. During the 
first century after it was written we do not know that 


there was the least doubt as to its genuineness; but 
the two centuries that followed, in the Roman church 
and in the North African churches, were centuries in 
which its authenticity was very widely doubted; and 
it was only the investigation of Jerome in the fourth 
century, and the subsequent examination that was 
given it by Augustine, that led these distinguished 
church Fathers to the conclusion that it was of verita- 
ble canonical authority, and that finally led the West- 
ern church to unite with the Eastern church in accept- 
ing it; so that all doubt was removed and its canonical 
authority was settled for all time. 

The doubts that arose, with regard to the genuine- 
ness and authority of the Epistle, circled around the 
question of its authorship; and this is the question 
which we must first discuss. Who was the author of 
the Epistle to the Hebrews ? The superscription, " The 
Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews," is not a part of the 
Epistle at all. That title is of later authorship; we 
must set that aside just as if it were not, and must ask 
ourselves what the evidence is that it was the work of 
Paul or the work of some other. Origen, the great 
church Father, gives us a sentence like this, " Who 
wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews, God only knows " ; 
and I suppose that we ourselves might take upon our 
lips that very same sentence to-day. One thing is now 
generally concluded by the great mass of commenta- 
tors and interpreters, and that is that the apostle Paul 
did not write the Epistle to the Hebrews. It is not, in 
any proper sense, an Epistle of Paul. 

There are two sorts of reasons upon which we base 
this conclusion. First, there are doctrinal reasons ; and 


secondly, there are rhetorical reasons. The doctrinal 
reasons are these that, in his discussion of the great 
question of human salvation, the author of the Epistle 
follows a method that is entirely different from that of 
the apostle Paul. If you will examine the Epistles of 
Paul, and his speeches in the Acts of the Apostles, you 
will find that Paul always begins with the state and 
condition of mankind, and from that state and condi- 
tion of mankind rises to the divine remedy and the 
divine salvation. On the contrary, the method of the 
author of the Epistle to the Hebrews is to begin with 
the divine Saviour and his great work for human re- 
demption, and to come thence to the consideration of 
man's needs and his method of appropriating the work 
of God. The author of this Epistle, moreover, regards 
the death of Christ as connected more immediately and 
prominently with the work of intercession than with 
the work of atonement. He sets Christ before us in 
his priestly intercession in heaven, rather than in his 
priestly atonement upon the earth. To the mind of 
the author, the cross of Christ is mainly an offering in 
the heavenly sanctuary. It is rather the basis of inter- 
cession there than the basis of atonement here. 

When you come to the rhetorical characteristics of 
the Epistle, you find that, both in minute details and in 
its general character, the Epistle is very unlike the 
Epistles of the apostle Paul. These matters of style 
are very difficult to expound in popular discourse. One 
who is acquainted with the original Greek and who has 
read Paul's Epistles, and who has then read this Epistle 
with a view to its relation to those, will recognize the 
fact that, in style, this is entirely different from them. 


There is nothing by which the style of a person can 
be judged so accurately and correctly as by his use of 
adverbs and conjunctions, those little connecting parts 
of speech upon which very little conscious attention is 
bestowed, yet which indicate the method of the author's 
thought, rise spontaneously to his lips, and flow spon- 
taneously from his pen. The conjunctions and adverbs 
that are used in all the Epistles of Paul are very dif- 
ferent from those which are used in the Epistle to the 
Hebrews; in fact, one conjunction that is used fifty 
times in this Epistle to the Hebrews you do not find 
even once in the Epistles of Paul. 

There is a characteristic that is more evident and 
more easy to describe. I refer to the general rhetorical 
style. This is totally different from that of Paul's 
Epistles. The style of the Epistle to the Hebrews is 
flowing and fervid and rhetorical; while the style of 
the apostle Paul is predominantly dialectic. Paul is 
full of what we might call anacolutha sentences that 
begin and do not end; but you have no such sentence 
in this Epistle to the Hebrews. The style of the apostle 
Paul is that of a man whose emotions frequently break 
through all common forms of speech, and show them- 
selves superior to the outward methods of expression. 
It is like a mountain torrent. There are very few 
places where it flows on in a smooth and unbroken 
course; it is evermore dashing from point to point, 
breaking away from the even and steady method of 
address, and reveling in that which is sudden and un- 
expected. There is picturesqueness in it, and emotion 
frequently breaks through the natural forms of ordi- 
nary speech. The Epistle to the Hebrews is character- 


ized by no such bursts, by no such breaks. It flows on 
steadily, like the course of a great river through an 
open plain. 

Our own Doctor Kendrick has said very truly that 
the apostle Paul is rhetorical when he cannot help it; 
but the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews is always 
rhetorical, because he can never be anything else. This 
is the real difference between the rhetoric of the Epis- 
tle to the Hebrews and the Epistles of the apostle Paul. 
There is now almost universal consent among scholars 
that Paul was not the author of this Epistle. It is 
equally difficult to believe that the substance of the 
Epistle was furnished by Paul, but that the form of it 
was furnished by some helper of his as, for example, 
Luke or Timothy. It could not possibly be Timothy, 
because there is an allusion to Timothy as a third per- 
son in the Epistle itself. Luke has often been men- 
tioned as one to whom Paul might have given the sub- 
stance of the document, to be put into form by Luke 
himself. But there is such a unity in the Epistle, the 
thought and the expression are so welded together, and 
both of them are so independent and so unlike what we 
know of the apostle Paul, that it is impossible to be- 
lieve the author of it a mere subordinate. The Epistle 
gives every evidence of an original writer, who drew 
his material mainly from his own soul, under the influ- 
ence of the Spirit of God. 

The most plausible hypothesis that has ever been 
advanced is that it was the work of Apollos. Luther 
first gave this suggestion to the world, and one of the 
strongest advocates of this authorship of the Epistle is 
our own Doctor Kendrick. In the commentary of Lange 


on the Epistle to the Hebrews, which Doctor Kendrick 
edited, you may find this view very admirably drawn 
out. If you remember what is said of the work and 
characteristics of Apollos in the Acts of the Apos- 
tles, you will see at once that there is great verisimili- 
tude in this hypothesis. The author of this Epistle 
must certainly have been a Jew. Well, Apollos was a 
Jew. The author of this Epistle was a very learned 
man, and the Acts of the Apostles tells us that Apollos 
was a learned man. The author of this Epistle shows 
great familiarity with the works of Philo Judseus, the 
Alexandrian, and he uses many phrases that are the 
same as those used by Philo. Now the Acts tells us that 
Apollos was a Jew of Alexandria. The author of this 
Epistle had a wonderful knowledge of Old Testament 
Scriptures; and the Acts of the Apostles tells us that 
Apollos was mighty in the Scriptures. 

The author of this Epistle shows a wonderful power 
and skill in proving from the Old Testament the Mes- 
siahship of Christ, and the glory of the New Covenant ; 
and the Acts of the Apostles tells us that this Apollos 
powerfully convinced the Jews, proving to them that 
Jesus is the Christ. Indeed, in the description of 
Apollos which the Acts gives us, we have packed to- 
gether in a few verses the most remarkable character- 
istics of this Epistle, and all these characteristics are 
declared to be the characteristics of Apollos. So, if 
we are to settle down upon any single person mentioned 
in the New Testament as the author, we may settle 
down upon Apollos. Timothy is mentioned in the 
Epistle as one with whom the author had acquaintance 
and apparently had intercourse; and we know that 


Timothy, having been instructed by Paul, was Paul's 
messenger to Corinth. Since Apollos was in Corinth 
at the time, there is abundant reason to believe that 
Apollos and Timothy were intimately acquainted with 
each other. But leaving this matter of authorship, al- 
though I think the general consent of scholars is more 
and more fastening upon Apollos as the most probable 
author of the Epistle, let us pass on to ask to what 
persons this Epistle was addressed. 

You may say it was addressed to the Hebrews. But 
who were the Hebrews, and where were the Hebrews ? 
There were Hebrews, or Jews, scattered all through 
the Roman Empire. Was this Epistle to the Hebrews 
written to Jews who were thus scattered among the 
Gentiles ? No, very decidedly not ; for it is very plain, 
as you read the Epistle, that those to whom the Epistle 
is addressed constituted a Christian community by 
themselves. It is not to the multitude of churches, but 
to a number of Christians within a certain locality, that 
the Epistle is sent. This Jewish community, appar- 
ently, has no connection with Gentiles. There is no 
mention of Gentiles in the Epistle; no indication that 
the Jewish Christians to whom the Epistle was written 
were in any particular danger from Gentiles; no inti- 
mation that they were tempted by Gentiles, or had 
work to do with Gentiles. No, the persons to whom 
the Epistle is addressed are living quite apart from 
Gentile influence, and there is no such variety among 
them as there was in those churches to which Paul 
addressed most of his Epistles. Now there is no 
place in the Roman Empire at this time which so 
fits the circumstances and conditions which I have 


mentioned, as the city of Jerusalem and the region of 
Palestine around about it. That these Hebrews were 
in Jerusalem and in its vicinity is altogether the most 
plausible hypothesis. 

We find, by reading the Epistle, that these Hebrews 
were in special danger of being drawn away from their 
faith, because of their exclusion from the services of 
the temple. They were in the midst of persecution, 
and were tempted to apostatize from the faith of Christ. 
This Epistle was written to warn them of these tempta- 
tions, and to urge them to be steadfast in their alle- 
giance to Jesus. 

These conditions are fulfilled in Jerusalem and in 
Palestine at a particular point of time in the New Tes- 
tament history, and that leads us to the question when 
it was that the Epistle was written. Certain considera- 
tions lead us to believe that it cannot have been earlier 
than the year 60. 

In the first place, it is pretty clear that it was to 
a second generation of Christians that the Epistle was 
written. It is intimated in the Epistle that those who 
are addressed had not received the gospel at first hand 
from Christ. They were not persons who had been 
contemporary with Jesus; but they had received the 
word from those who had seen Jesus and had heard 
him. Therefore, the point of time when the Epistle is 
written must be twenty-five or thirty years after the 
death of the Saviour. Another generation had sprung 
up. Moreover, it is intimated that certain leaders of 
the church had suffered martyrdom for their faith; 
many of its members had suffered persecution by the 
spoiling of their goods; and they are still under 


reproach and exposed to danger. Now, if you remem- 
ber, immediately after the death of Christ and the as- 
cension of the Saviour, the disciples returned from 
Bethany to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were 
found continually in the temple. There was no objec- 
tion or difficulty in the way of Christians, at that time, 
worshiping in the temple and having all the privileges 
that formerly belonged to them as Jews. In other 
words, at the first, Christians were thought to be only 
a sect or school of the Jews. They were not thrust 
out completely from the synagogue or from the temple. 
When we come on to the year 58, at Paul's last visit to 
Jerusalem, we find the beginning of a different state 
of things. We find prejudice aroused against Chris- 
tians. We find hostility and opposition. A riot is in- 
stigated against Paul by the mere suspicion, the unjust 
suspicion, that he has brought a Gentile Christian into 
the court of the Jews belonging to the temple. That 
bitterness of spirit which had developed itself against 
Christians would lead us to expect, a little later in the 
history, precisely what we find in this Epistle to the 
Hebrews, namely, that there would be a disposition 
among the Jews to thrust Christians out altogether. 
It must be, therefore, after the year 58, it must be 
after the year 60, that this Epistle was written. It 
seems to me altogether probable that the date of this 
Epistle is as late as the year 6^ just after the martyr- 
dom of Paul at Rome, and just after Timothy had 
made that visit to Rome which Paul requested, and 
had shared his imprisonment, for we find in this Epis- 
tle that Timothy has just been set at liberty. If this 
supposition be true, it must be about the year 67 that 


the Epistle was written; that is, just before the destruc- 
tion of Jerusalem, which took place in the year 70. 
It could not have been later than that, because the 
temple is spoken of as still standing. The dates be- 
tween which we must confine the writing of the Epistle 
are somewhere between the year 66 and the year 70; 
and if we must fix upon a definite year, the year 67 is as 
good as any we can fix upon. 

The object of the Epistle I have already touched 
upon. It was to warn the Hebrew Christians against 
the danger of apostatizing from Christ. What was 
this danger? Why, the danger arising from the 
fact that, having been born and bred in Jerusalem or 
its neighborhood, they had been accustomed to regard 
the outward worship of the temple as essential to their 
Christian faith. They had been accustomed to think 
that the sacrifices that were offered day by day, being 
of divine appointment, were to be perpetual, and that 
those who were thrust out from the worship of the 
sanctuary and from participation in these sacrificial 
offerings were thrust out from God, and might lose 
their hope of the Messianic salvation. 

The Epistle endeavors to counteract all this, by 
showing these Hebrew Christians that the laws of the 
old dispensation were only a type of the new dispensa- 
tion that was to come; that, as they had Christ in 
their hearts as their heavenly sacrifice and interces- 
sor, they could now do away with the old sacrifices of 
the temple and with the old temple worship; and that 
they would be none the worse for the change. Christ 
is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. Christ is 
the divine Saviour. If they have Christ they have all. 


There are three main divisions of the doctrinal 
treatment, in which the author of the Epistle shows 
that the Old Testament system is only the type and 
the prophecy of the New. You remember how he 
opens his Epistle. The subject is stated in that first 
verse. " God," he says, " who at many times and in 
varied ways spoke unto the fathers by the prophets, 
hath, in these last days, spoken unto us by his Son." 
Then he goes on to describe him as being the effluence 
of the Father's glory, as being the express image of 
his person, as having purged our sins by his sacrifice, 
and as now sitting at the right, hand, on the throne, of 
God; so, at the very beginning, he suggests that the 
new is better than the old, and that the old way is only 
the foreshadowing of the new. Now that the new 
has come, the substance has come, and the shadow may 
flee away. Then he proceeds to show that this Christ, 
this divine Redeemer, who has purged our sins and 
,-vnow sits in the heavenly sanctuary for us, is, first, 
(J/uperior to the angels, the mediators of the old cove- 
nant; secondly, iijuperior to Moses and Joshua, the 
leaders of the old economy; and, thirdly, isjguperior 
to Aaron, the great high priest of the Old Testament 
dispensation. Having shown that Christ is superior to 
all these mediators of the old covenant, he shows that 
the only personage in the Old Testament who can fitly 
set forth the glory and dignity of Christ is that strange 
and mysterious person, Melchisedec, .who was both 
king and priest, and who sprang all of a sudden in 
the history, without any account of his ancestry or of 
what became of him, as a sort of type of the Lord 
Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world. 


Then the author goes on to speak of the great su- 
periority of this new redemption and economy, this 
high priesthood of Jesus in heaven and his heavenly 
service, to anything that could possibly exist upon the 
earth, where the priesthood could continue only a little 
while by reason of death. Here we have One who is 
made priest, not after the law of a carnal command- 
ment, but after the power of an endless life, and there- 
fore, not for a day, nor for a few days, but forever 
and forever, living to make intercession for us. If 
he who is the one great Priest, of whom the Old Testa- 
ment priests were only types, has come at last, why, 
the Old Testament priests may go, we need them no 
longer. Christ abides; he is the same, yesterday, to- 
day, and forever. Then the latter portion of the Epis- 
tle is a practical part, which draws the inference that, 
if these things be true, then the one duty of every Chris- 
tian is to hold fast to Christ, and to let the Old Testa- 
ment dispensation, with its types and its symbols, pass 
away into forgetfulness. 

The beginning of this practical part is that long 
catalogue of the heroes of faith, those worthies of the 
Old Testament that had been true to God, in spite 
of all manner of temptation, persecution, and danger, 
and who furnish for us models for the faith of the 
New Testament. Since Jesus, our forerunner, has 
entered into the heavenly sanctuary, we are to follow 
him, running the race that is set before us, " looking 
unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, 
who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the 
cross, despising the shame, and is now set down at 
the right hand of the throne of God." So the practical 


part of the Epistle succeeds and supplements the doc- 
trinal part, and impresses its applications upon us. 

Three things may be said with regard to this Epis- 
tle, all of which are points of general interest, aside 
from the general course of thought which I have men- 
tioned. TheJIrsl is this, that the Epistle to the He- 
brews sets before us Jesus Christ as an absolute, unique, 
and divine High Priest, ordained to transact with God 
for us, as the one High Priest, of whom the Old Testa- 
ment high priests were only the types and symbols. 
That is the first great thought of the Epistle to the 
Hebrews. We have such a High Priest who has en- 
tered into the heavenly sanctuary. Let us, therefore, 
go boldly to the throne of grace, that we may find 
mercy and grace to help us in our times of need. 
This High Priest is one with God, the brightness of 
the Father's glory and the express image of his per- 
son ; but he is one with us also. No other passage of 
the New Testament presents to us the human side of 
our sympathizing High Priest as this does. He took 
upon himself our nature; was tempted in all points 
like as we are, yet without sin; and, for that reason, 
he is able to sympathize with us, and succor us when 
we are tempted. There is no more beautiful or pathetic 
passage than this in the whole Bible. 

The second great lesson which the Epistle to the 
Hebrews teaches is that of the brotherly relation which 
the Lord Jesus Christ sustains to us. . He is not only 
God, but also man; our elder brother is upon the 
throne; our elder brother is interceding for us in the 
heavenly sanctuary. Since this High Priest is both 
God and man, since there unites in him all that can 


make high-priesthood perfect, this high-priestly serv- 
ice is the final one. No greater revelation than this is 
ever to be expected from God; it is the last revela- 
tion of God to man ; it is the most perfect disclosure of 
the love and justice of the King on high. Therefore, 
Christianity is not one of many revelations; it is not 
to be put side by side with Buddhism or Confucianism, 
as if there were only some good in it, just as there is 
some good in them; but Christianity is the one and 
only revelation, of which all these others are only 
faint foreshadowings. Here, in Christianity, we see 
brought to a focus all those scattered rays that shone 
dimly amid the darkness of the heathen world. All 
that is good in heathenism is found in Christianity, 
and infinitely more. Christianity is the one and final 
revelation of God to man. 

So there follows the third and last great lesson. 
" See that ye refuse not him that speaketh " ; for, if he 
that rejecteth the Old Testament dispensation did not 
escape, of what punishment shall he be thought worthy 
who has trodden under his feet the blood of the Son 
of God, and has put his Saviour to an open shame ? 

Nowhere in the whole New Testament do we find 
such solemn warnings against apostasy as we find here 
in the Epistle to the Hebrews. The apostle has set 
before us the exceeding glory of this new dispensation. 
He has shown us that it is an absolute, complete, and 
final thing, the last word that God has spoken or that 
God can speak to man. Let us be sure that we do not 
turn our backs upon him. Let us be sure that, having 
come to a knowledge of the truth, we do not turn away 
from it, and forget what we have learned, to the 


destruction of our souls. Let us accept the warning, let 
us go on in the Christian course. Leaving the princi- 
ples of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfec- 
tion. In his warning against apostasy, the apostle 
does not mean us to understand that any that have 
once experienced the real grace of God shall ever be 
left to fall away to their own destruction. He says to 
these very persons : " Brethren, I am persuaded better 
things of you, even although we thus speak." Yet it 
is very needful for the perseverance of the saints that 
these warnings be given. Only by appreciating the 
greatness of our danger, and the necessity of our per- 
severing in holiness, shall we be kept from falling away. 
Let us endure, therefore, to the end, in order that we 
may be saved. 


THREE persons named James are mentioned in the 
New Testament, and it has been a question which of 
these persons was the author of our Epistle. Some 
have thought that the author was James, the brother of 
John and the son of Zebedee; but this seems quite im- 
possible, because he suffered martyrdom in the year 44, 
before the dispersion of the Jewish Christians which is 
mentioned in its opening words. It was after this 
James, the brother of John, was slain, and largely be- 
cause of his death, that members of the church fled 
from Jerusalem and made their way beyond the bounds 
of Palestine. When the apostle James died they had 
not yet gotten even so far as Antioch, and it was con- 
sequently impossible then to write to the twelve tribes 
of Christians who were scattered abroad, as the author 
of this Epistle does. The apostle James, moreover, 
could hardly have been the author, for the reason that 
before his death the internal organization of the Chris- 
tian church was not so perfectly developed as it appears 
to have been in this Epistle. 

The indications are far more favorable to the view 
that the author of the Epistle is James, our Lord's 
brother, the oldest of those brothers of our Lord with 
whom we meet so frequently in the Gospels and in the 
Acts of the Apostles. There were four of these, James, 
and Joses, Simon and Judas, and there were sisters 
belonging to the family also. 

v 321 


Paul, in his Epistle to the Galatians, speaks of James, 
the Lord's brother, as being the president of the church 
at Jerusalem. He was one of " the pillars." He had 
authority; his words were treated with respect such 
as belongs to no one else outside of the narrow apos- 
tolic circle; and it is probably to him that we must 
ascribe this Epistle. 

There still remains a question that is quite inter- 
esting; namely, whether this James, the brother of our 
Lord, was identical with James the son of Alphaeus or 
James the Less, who was one of the apostles. In the 
apostolic circle there were two persons by the name of 
James. There was James the son of Zebedee, and there 
was James the son of Alphaeus; and it is a question 
whether the James who is the brother of our Lord was 
not also this apostle. 

There are some reasons to believe that this was not 
so, and that the James of whom we read here was a 
third person, entirely distinct from either one of the 
two persons by the name of James who belonged to 
the apostles. One reason is this : that after Jesus had 
completed his choice of the apostles, the brethren of 
our Lord were yet unbelievers; they could not have 
belonged to the apostles, because the apostles were all 
known and numbered before the time of their conver- 
sion. Moreover, when we find that the brethren of our 
Lord are mentioned at all, we find them mentioned in 
such a way as to distinguish them from the apostles. 
For example, in that long-continued meeting for prayer 
in the upper room at Jerusalem, which ended at the day 
of Pentecost, we read that there were gathered the 
Twelve, who are mentioned by name, with the women 


and with Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his breth- 
ren; where you see that his brethren are put last, are 
distinguished from the apostles, are evidently different 
persons. The James, therefore, who is the brother of 
our Lord, could not also have been one of the apostles. 
Why is it that the Lord's brethren, in this enumeration 
of the persons who are present and who are praying for 
the descent of the Spirit, are mentioned last? Why, 
simply because they were the last to come into the num- 
ber of Christ's disciples. After the Twelve had been 
chosen they still remained unbelieving. 

These brethren of our Lord, who had been accus- 
tomed to look up to Jesus in his life at Nazareth as 
simply the elder brother of the household, and to see 
him perform the common work of the carpenter, had 
of all men found it most difficult to realize the fact 
that he was the Messiah sent from God, the very Son 
of God, who had come to deliver the world. 

It must have required a struggle of faith, it must 
have required a conflict with preconceptions, such as 
no others passed through. Let us not blame them too 
much. A prophet is not without honor save in his own 
country and in his own house, said Jesus, with prob- 
able reference to these very brethren of his. 

The very nearness which we sustain to Christ in an 
external relation may make it the more difficult for 
us to apprehend his thoroughly spiritual nature; and 
so it was with them. Therefore, it was not until 
Christ's work was completed, and the greatest of mira- 
cles, the resurrection of our Lord from the dead, had 
taken place, that these brethren of our Lord had their 
doubts removed, and came into the number of his 


disciples. It was only when Christ, the risen Saviour, 
in the fulness of a brother's love, appeared to this James 
singly, that James' doubts were all removed, that his 
skepticism was swept away, that his heart was broken 
with love for him whom up to that time he had refused 
to recognize as his Lord. 

There is something very touching, it seems to me, 
in the way in which James begins his Epistle. He says, 
" James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus 
Christ" How much that meant for him who had been 
seated side by side with our Saviour, at the same 
board for many years, and who had refused to recog- 
nize him ! And why is it that James, in the beginning 
of his Epistle, does not mention the fact that he is the 
brother of our Lord? Why, very much for the same 
reason that Paul does not think that he can take any 
glory to himself, since he persecuted the church of 
God. So James hardly thinks that he is worthy to be 
called the brother of our Lord; at least, he will not 
join that title to his name when he writes to others. 
Moreover, he will not seem to claim a greater near- 
ness to Christ than belongs to Christ's chosen apostles. 
There is great humility, I think, in the way in which 
James begins his Epistle. So, we have James, the 
brother of our Lord, not one of the Twelve, but one 
called after the Twelve, one converted after the resur- 
rection of Jesus Christ from the dead, as the author of 
this Epistle, and proclaiming himself to be, not an 
apostle of Christ, but simply a servant of God and of 
Jesus Christ our Lord. There yet remains another 
question with regard to the personality of James; 
namely this : whether the phrase " brother of our 


Lord " means that James was a son of the same 
mother, or whether he was a cousin, or a son of the 
same father. The Roman Catholic Church has a great 
prejudice against the idea that Mary should ever have 
had other children than Jesus. The perpetual virginity 
of Mary is one of its most cherished dogmas. This 
dogma had its origin in the superior sanctity which 
that Church attaches to celibacy. It is thought de- 
rogatory to the mother of our Lord that she ever should 
have been the mother of other children. But the 
seventh verse of the second chapter of Luke's Gospel 
has the words, " Brought forth her firstborn son," and 
a candid reader would naturally infer from the fact of 
Jesus' being the " firstborn," that Mary had other chil- 
dren after. 

Plato is, in a similar way, called by one of his Greek 
biographers, Diogenes Laertius, the firstborn child; 
yet, as a matter of fact, we know that Plato had two 
brothers and a sister. So it is altogether probable that 
Luke uses this word in its literal sense, and implies 
that there were other children born to Mary and Joseph 
after the birth of our Saviour. While the words in 
Luke cannot be said to make it certain, they at least 
show that, in the mind of the writer, there was no 
prejudice against the idea that Mary should have had 
other children. He never thought it necessary to the 
sanctity of Mary that Jesus should have been her only 
child. " 

Christianity gives honor to marriage; and this idea 
that Mary, the virgin, should have had no other chil- 
dren than Christ, is based not only upon a misinter- 
pretation of Scripture, but upon a radical error with 


regard to marriage itself, as if marriage were some- 
thing dishonorable, and the married state was not so 
lofty or so pure as the unmarried state. Protestantism 
has evermore protested against such a doctrine as this. 
It is altogether probable that Mary had other children, 
and that these other children were the four whose 
names are given to us. It is significant that James is 
always mentioned as the first among them. 

Being thus related to Jesus by ties of blood, James 
would seem to have had claim to the position of presi- 
dent or pastor of the church in Jerusalem. It was not 
fit that an apostle should have that permanent relation 
to a local church. That, I think, in itself is an a priori 
argument against the idea that the James of whom we 
are speaking was an apostle, either James the son of 
Zebedee or James the son of Alphseus, for an apostle 
was one who had wider relations, one who had author- 
ity over the universal church. It was not fit that an 
apostle should narrow down his regards to a particular 
local body. It was, rather, proper that one who was 
outside that circle of the apostles should be the presi- 
dent of the church at Jerusalem. 

If this be true that James was the brother the half- 
brother, shall I say? of our Lord, is it not wonder- 
ful that Jesus, when he hung upon the cross and was 
making provision for the comfort of his mother after 
his death, should not have commended her to the care 
of James, rather than to the care of John, who did not 
belong to his own immediate family ? How plain it is 
that relationship in the faith is a closer relationship 
than mere relationship of blood! When Jesus hung 
upon the cross, neither James, Joses, Simon, nor Judas 


belonged to the number of the disciples. They were 
still unbelievers! How unfit it would have been that 
Jesus should have commended his mother to the care 
of one whose heart was yet unrenewed, one who was 
not a disciple! It would have been a poor house to 
send her to; and, besides, it is very questionable 
whether there was any such home. Jesus was the 
elder brother. Jesus was the head of that household. 
Jesus' death broke up the household, and he had not 
had where to lay his head. They had no home. John 
had such a home. John appears to have been a man 
of means. John appears to have had a house in Jeru- 
salem. Jesus commended his mother to John because 
John was a believer; because John stood to Jesus him- 
self in a closer relationship than any one of these unbe- 
lieving brethren did; because John had a home and 
was ready to receive her. Surely here are reasons 
enough why Jesus should prefer John to James. 

James, however, was speedily renewed in the whole 
spirit and temper of his mind; and when, at last, Jesus 
had ascended, we see him, with his brethren, meeting 
together with the apostles and with Mary, the mother 
of our Lord, and with certain women, in that upper 
chamber, to pray for the descent of the Holy Spirit. 

It was very natural that this James who was closely 
related to Christ, after he was converted to the faith 
of Jesus, should have been pitched upon as the very 
first for the presidency of the local church. In spite 
of his previous unbelief, he held a high place in the 
minds of the disciples for the rectitude of his life, the 
austere and thoroughgoing righteousness of his con- 
duct. He was surnamed " The Just," because of his 


severe and unbending integrity. Tradition says of 
him that he never partook either of wine or of flesh, 
and that his knees were hard and horny, like the knees 
of a camel, because he had spent so much time pros- 
trate upon them in prayer. 

So we find James becoming the head of the church 
of the circumcision; find him a Jew, preaching the 
gospel to the Jews; find him a pillar of the church; 
and, at the time of the council at Jerusalem, when the 
church at Antioch sent to ask the advice of the Jerusa- 
lem church with regard to that difficult matter of the 
treatment of Gentile converts, we find him presiding 
over the meeting of the council and, when all has been 
said upon one side and upon the other side, standing 
forth to give his verdict. And, just so soon as he has 
uttered his verdict that the Gentiles shall be regarded 
as fellow heirs, the whole church at once assents to 
his decision, and accepts this decision as its own. To 
the very end of his life, which apparently took place 
in the year 62, James maintained this unbroken con- 
sistency. It was the consistency of a perfect character, 
of a spotless integrity, of a holy life. There was great 
fitness in putting James in just the position that he held, 
and an equal fitness in his addressing just the persons 
who are addressed in this Epistle. 

We must remember that James was a Jewish Chris- 
tian. James apparently never left the Old Testament 
church. James apparently never forsook the worship 
and service of the temple. James regarded Chris- 
tianity as a developed Judaism; and the position he 
takes in this Epistle reminds us very strongly of our 
Saviour's Sermon on the Mount, on the one hand, and 


of the preaching of John the Baptist on the other. 
Righteousness of life seems to be the keynote of all 
his writing. It was a very fit thing that this kinsman 
of our Lord and this Puritan Jew, as one might call 
him, should have exercised this great influence and 
should have had this prominent and important position 
in the days of the Jewish church. How natural it was 
that he should be looked up to and respected by the 
Jews around him, as no other person could have been 
looked up to and respected. There were many pious 
Jews who might be influenced in favor of the gospel, 
but who could not be influenced by Gentile Christians, 
or by Paul. They would have been most seriously prej- 
udiced against Paul; but they could be influenced in 
favor of the gospel by one who was out and out a Jew, 
who gloried in the ancestral traditions, who was care- 
ful to maintain the forms of Jewish righteousness, who 
paid respect to all the external services and observ- 
ances of the temple. These things were dear to him. 
This James could constitute a transition from the old 
to the new, as almost no other man could do. There 
was a divine providence in it toward that multitude of 
pious Jews who could not break away from the ances- 
tral worship, that the gospel of Christ should be rep- 
resented so long and so faithfully by one of their own 
number, who showed them that Judaism was perfectly 
consistent with a higher faith, and that they might be 
Christians while yet at the same time they were Jews, 
so far as the outward services and observances of the 
temple were concerned. For many years, even for a 
quarter of a century, Christians did not give up the 
services of the temple. In the temple and from house 


to house they met, and they rejoiced in God. I say 
it was a marvelous providence to the pious Jews, who 
had not yet been convinced of the truth of Christianity, 
that Christ had a representative who preached con- 
tinually by his faithful and consistent life, and by his 
love for the old Jewish traditions, while yet at the 
same time he was a convert to the new religion. 

It was only when this long and faithful ministry to 
the Jewish Christians came to its end; it was only 
when the Jews, in the obstinacy of their unbelief, took 
hold of this same James, cast him down from a pinnacle 
of the temple, stoned him with stones, and beat him 
to death with a fuller's club, it was only then that the 
iniquity of the Jews seems to have reached its height; 
and that was only a little before the storm of wrath 
burst upon Jerusalem. God gave the Jews a chance to 
receive the gospel for a long time after the death and 
resurrection of Christ, and he gave them one of their 
own number to preach it to them. It was only when 
this long ministry of James, the brother of our Lord, 
had proved utterly unavailing and had ended in the 
martyr's death, that the destruction of Jerusalem came, 
and swept away that devoted city. But there was 
great fitness in such a representative of the Old Tes- 
tament piety being permitted to hold on and work, 
while, at the same time, he was the representative of 
the new gospel. James constituted a bridge, and a 
transition, from the Old Testament to the New Testa- 
ment ministry. 

This Epistle of James has in it an interest pecu- 
liarly its own. It is the first Epistle of the New Tes- 
tament. It is the earliest written document of the 


whole canon. It was probably written as early as the 
year 47, twenty years before the Epistle to the He- 
brews and long before any of the Epistles of Paul. 
There is an air of antiquity, savoring of the Old Tes- 
tament, about it, such as there is about no other of the 
New Testament documents. 

What was the occasion of the writing of the Epistle ? 
It is evident that, at the time it was written, Chris- 
tianity had spread abroad, and that Jewish Christians 
had become so scattered as to be called " the Disper- 
sion." Yet they have not gotten so far as Antioch, 
nor have they begun to penetrate the heathen world. 
They seem rather to be confined still to the bounds of 
Palestine. James had perhaps been the means of con- 
verting many of them, and as these converts would 
come back, from time to time, to Jerusalem to attend 
the feasts, and his personal connection with them would 
not cease, he would follow them into their distant 
homes, he would be solicitous in regard to their spirit- 
ual condition; and from his position of authority and 
influence he would naturally write to them his instruc- 
tions and requests. 

Tradition relates that James never ieft his place 
of labor in Jerusalem. Whatever influence he exerted 
upon the distant Christians he exerted by his writing. 
About the year 47, we may believe, he wrote this Epis- 
tle in order to correct wrong practices and tendencies 
among the Jewish Christians. It was not written to 
Jews as Jews. The twelve tribes that are scattered 
abroad are not the twelve tribes of the old Israel ; they 
are the spiritual men and women who, from James' 
point of view, constitute the real Israel. He can speak 


of them as the real twelve tribes ; and, therefore, he ad- 
dresses them with regard to the evils that have begun 
to prevail among them. It is a time of trial and diffi- 
culty among them. Many of them are poor. Only 
here and there is there one who is rich. The poor are 
full of discontent, and the rich are overbearing, tyran- 
nical, and proud. They presume upon their riches, 
they oppress their poor brethren. So easy it is to see 
that the early church was not immaculate. James 
looked abroad and recognized the fact that even the 
gospel of Christ had not made the Christians all they 
ought to be, and he tried to remedy these difficulties by 
writing to them an Epistle. All this takes place appar- 
ently before the Apostolic Council, for you notice there 
is not the slightest reference to the subsequent con- 
troversies with regard to justification by faith. Al- 
though James uses the word justification, there is no 
probability that he alluded to Paul ; in fact, the Epistle 
>of James was written before even Paul's first Epistle 
to the Thessalonians had seen the light. 

The Epistle is not a doctrinal Epistle at all. It 
is a practical Epistle, written to correct practical evils. 
How does the apostle correct them? Why, he repre- 
sents Christianity as the royal law, as the perfected 
law. The gospel, and God's new requisitions in Christ, 
are merely an expansion, an enlargement, an interpre- 
tation of the law of the Old Testament. It is the per- 
fected law of liberty, and it is a law in which, if a 
man looks as into a mirror, he sees his own reflection ; 
he sees the reflection of his own sin and his own needs ; 
and he sees the way of salvation that has been provided 
by God through his Son. And so the whole substance 


of this Epistle might be put into those few words, " Be 
not hearers of the law, but be doers also." In other 
words, the apostle was grieved at the fact there were 
so many that regarded their whole work as done when 
they had but merely an external faith in Christ, and 
he claims that mere faith in Christ that is intellectual 
and theoretical is of no value ; that that is not the real 
faith of the gospel; that the real faith of the gospel 
is a faith that will make men faithful. The faith that 
saves is a faith that works by love and purifies the 
heart; and every other faith is a dead faith. Man is 
saved by a living faith, he is saved by a faith that will 
do something for him; he is saved by a faith that will 
bring him into connection with a living Christ, and so 
will lead to the purification of his life and heart. James 
is indignant with those who declare that they have the 
faith of Christ, and who yet are immoral or inconsistent 
in their practical lives. This is the whole substance of 
the Epistle. There is not much organized material, 
there is not much structure, as there is in the Epistle to 
the Hebrews. You cannot analyze it so easily as some 
other Epistles. It is a series of admonitions and pre- 
cepts, directed to the practical life of the Christian 

Luther had great difficulty with this Epistle of 
James. It was a stumbling-block to the great reformer 
to the very end of his days. He said some very hard 
things about it. He said, " The Epistle of James is a 
veritable epistle of straw." He counted it to be no 
apostolic writing. He said that it was destitute of the 
substance of the gospel. And why ? Why, because he 
thought it inconsistent with Paul's doctrine of salva- 


tion by faith. Ah, Luther was a great hero, and a 
great reformer, but he was a great deal narrower 
than Jesus Christ and his gospel. Luther did not un- 
derstand James, and he would have done far better if 
he had suspended his judgment and waited for more 
light The truth is, that profession of faith in Christ 
which makes a mere external idea of Christ the sub- 
stance of the gospel is no better than heathenism. That 
profession of faith in Christ which regards Christianity 
itself as being nothing but an intellectual or historical 
belief, is no better than heathenism. Says James, a 
man is not justified by faith only; he is justified also 
by works. That seemed to Luther a very contradiction 
of the apostle Paul. The apostle Paul says we are 
justified by faith. James meant just the same thing as 
the apostle Paul, only James meant that a man is justi- 
fied only by the faith that brings forth good works, 
and that any other faith is not faith at all. James' 
criticism, therefore, is not a criticism of the doctrine 
of justification, but of the nature of faith. James is 
criticizing the manner of faith that so many had who 
had professed faith, while they were destitute of the 
spirit of love and of self-sacrifice. Why, I tell you 
that such faith is dead; and, if a man tells me that he 
has faith and does not have any works at all, I say 
that he has not the true faith of the gospel that is, 
not the faith that saves. The faith that saves is the 
faith that will do something for a man' in making him 
over again, and making him obedient to the commands 
of Christ. 

Paul and James seem at first sight to teach oppo- 
site doctrines, when Paul says that man is justified by 


faith, and James says that man is justified by works. 
But there is no contrariety at all between them. Each 
of them is fighting a different man; they are striking 
out against different errors; they are not striking at 
each other. Dr. William M. Taylor has given us a 
useful illustration. A couple of men are surprised in 
a dark wood by a band of robbers; one says to the 
other: "Let us stand back to back; you strike out 
against the men on your side, and I will strike out 
against the men on my side." They are not striking 
against each other, but one is striking one foe and the 
other is striking another foe. So Paul is striking at 
the men that deny justification. James is striking at 
the men that deny faith. It is a different enemy that 
each one has in mind, and the two doctrines together 
are hemispheres that make up the whole globe of truth. 
It is a good deal, as the old illustration had it, like a 
man in a boat If he rows with one oar alone he will 
go round and round, and make no progress at all; if 
he puts that oar down, takes up the other oar, and 
rows with that, then he will go round and round, only 
in a different direction. The only true way is to take 
both oars, and both oars at once. The gospel is the 
gospel of faith on the one hand, and of works on the 
other. We must use both oars if we ever are going to 
get into the kingdom. 

The true gospel of Christ, therefore, is a gospel 
of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, of salvation by 
faith alone; for it is only by trusting what the Lord 
has done that you can ever be saved; but that faith 
will necessarily bring you into such relation to Christ 
that you will be like Christ and will obey Christ. 


Your faith will show itself in a holy life; and if there 
is no holy life, there is no true faith. Therefore Luther 
was narrow. He did not know the whole gospel, al- 
though he knew a part of it ; and the lesson that is left 
to us is most important. We should lack one of the 
most important teachings of the New Testament if 
the Epistle of James were not ours. We should lack 
the great doctrine that those who have laid hold of 
Christ and have put faith in him must be sure also to 
maintain good works. We are saved by faith alone; 
but faith is never alone; it always brings good works 
in its train ; it works by love, and purifies the heart. 


THE apostle Peter was the son of Jonas or John, two 
different versions of the same name. Peter was not, 
however, his original name. He was Simeon at first, 
or Simon, which is the same thing ; and the name Peter 
was given him by Christ in anticipation. The Saviour 
says to him, " Thou shalt be called Peter " ; but with 
an intimation that he has not yet the spirit which would 
make that designation a true one; and it is only two 
years afterward, at least, that Jesus says to him, " Thou 
art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church." 

Peter was a fisherman of Bethsaida: that is, Beth- 
saida was his native place, but at the time he was 
chosen by Christ he appears to have belonged to the 
city of Capernaum. There, during the greater part 
of the Gospel narrative, he had his home ; and, like the 
sons of Zebedee, he pursued the trade of fishing for his 

Peter seems to have been brought to Christ first by 
Andrew, his brother. Christ's first call was on the 
banks of the Jordan, where Peter and Andrew, James 
and John seem to have gone, amid the multitude who 
were thronging to John the Baptist, to be baptized. 
After a slight sojourn with Christ, and having become 
acquainted with him, Peter, with his brother and with 
James and John, appears to have gone back to his trade 
once more and to have pursued it until Jesus met them 
by the side of the Lake of Galilee, called them to be his 

w 337 


permanent companions, and invested them with the 
responsibilities of apostleship. 

From that time you find Peter continually with 
Jesus. He becomes one of our Lord's most intimate 
companions. He is one of those chosen disciples who 
constituted the innermost circle of the apostolic num- 
ber. He is with the Saviour when Jesus raises Jairus' 
daughter from the dead. He is with Jesus upon the 
Mount of Transfiguration, and beholds his glory; he 
is with Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, when the 
Saviour utters that memorable prayer and sweats those 
drops of blood. Jesus calls Peter to himself, because 
there is something in Peter which fits him for leader- 
ship. I imagine that each one of the disciples had his 
peculiar gift and qualifications for service. Judas, for 
example, was a practical administrator. Judas would 
have made an excellent manipulator and manager. He 
was treasurer, because there were certain business gifts 
which were his, more than they belonged to any other 
of the disciples. He had his opportunity. He had his 
chance to use what gifts he had for the service of the 

And Peter Had especially an openness and receptivity 
of heart, an ardent affection and power of recognizing 
Christ in his personal and divine mission, and then a 
zealous and enthusiastic activity, which fitted him, in 
some respects, to be the chief of the apostles. And yet, 
this ardent affection, this insight into the real person 
and work of Christ, this enthusiastic activity, were 
accompanied by a rashness and overconfidence which 
led Peter to his triple fall and triple denial of his 
Master, and were followed by the bitterest repentance. 


Jesus looked upon Peter after that denial, and that 
look broke Peter's heart. He went out and wept bit- 
terly. He repented. But he needed some special as- 
surance of Jesus' forgiving love. After Jesus arose 
from the dead there was something very affecting in 
his words to the women, " Go and tell Peter." It 
was a special message to Peter that his heart might be 
comforted by the assurance of Christ's forgiving love. 
Is there not something very beautiful in this, that this 
denying Peter is made the mouthpiece of the Holy 
Spirit upon the day of Pentecost? Have we ever 
thought that our sins would prevent us evermore from 
being of service in the cause of Christ ? Let us remem- 
ber that it was that denying Peter who was made by 
Christ the means of bringing three thousand to the 
knowledge of the truth and of being the first communi- 
cator of the gospel to his Jewish countrymen. And it 
is not only true that Peter becomes the first preacher 
to the Jews, but he becomes the first preacher to the 
Gentiles also; for I suppose that is the meaning of 
the promise to Peter that the keys of the kingdom 
of heaven shall be given to him. Christ gave him the 
keys in this sense, that he was the first to unlock the 
door of the kingdom to the Jews, and he was the first 
also to unlock the door of the kingdom to the Gentiles. 
There were two great doors to be opened ; Peter opened 
the first great door when at Pentecost he proclaimed 
salvation through the crucified One to the Jews who 
had put the Saviour to death; he opened the second 
great door when, going to Cornelius at Csesarea, he 
proclaimed the gospel of Christ to the heathen, and 
opened the door of salvation to the Gentiles. In a 


certain sense this denying Peter was given the first 
place in the kingdom of God; it was upon Peter that 
Christ built his church. " Thou art Peter ; upon this 
rock I will build my church." The word " Peter " 
meant " rock." 

But it is not upon Peter, as a person alone, that the 
church is founded, as the Roman Catholic Church im- 
agines; but it is upon Peter as a confessor of Christ. 
It is upon Peter, as he has Christ in him. Peter can 
become a rock upon which the church is built, only as 
he becomes one with Christ, the great corner-stone. 
Peter can be the means of bringing others into the 
kingdom of God, only as he is a true confessor of Jesus 
Christ and a proclaimer of his gospel. 

The Roman Catholic Church errs very greatly when 
she fancies that there is a sort of apostolic succession, 
and that, in an external way, through persons, there 
can be communicated the grace of God. No, it is not 
in any external way, or by any external means, that 
salvation comes down to man. It is through Peter 
as a confessor. It is through Peter as he has Christ in 
him; and, therefore, every one who is a confessor of 
Christ and is joined to Christ has the privilege of 
bringing in others also, and upon every true confessor 
of Christ the church is built. Protestants have some- 
times erred in thinking it is simply the confession upon 
which the church is built; as if some external creed 
alone could be the means of bringing men to the king- 
dom of God. That is no more true than the Roman 
Catholic doctrine. You must have the person and his 
confession. You must have Peter plus the truth. The 
truth alone, as an abstract thing, will not bring men to 


God ; but the person plus the truth brings men to God. 
The " rock," therefore, is both confession and heart. 
It is personality plus the truth. 

So Peter becomes the means of bringing in both 
Jews and Gentiles. At the Apostolic Council, when 
Paul comes to narrate what God has done for the Gen- 
tiles, Peter is one of the first to acquiesce in the decision 
which James has uttered and to sanction this opening 
of the door to the Gentiles without their becoming 
Jews. Afterward Peter was privately and individually 
unfaithful to this position which he took; for, at An- 
tioch, he refused to associate with certain Gentile 
Christians, in order that he might gratify those who 
were prejudiced in favor of Jewish doctrine; but he 
was rebuked by Paul; and we do not find that this 
error of his continued at all ; in fact, we do not find 
that he ever preached it. It was simply an instance 
of unfaithfulness in his private conduct to the truth 
which he had publicly proclaimed. 

After having opened the door of the kingdom both 
to Jews and Gentiles, by the keys of .faith and confes- 
sion which Christ had committed to him, Peter appears 
to have less prominence in the apostolic history. Why ? 
Because there was to be a transition from the Jews to 
the Gentiles. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles par 
excellence; and, although we find Peter most prominent 
at the beginning of the Acts, in the latter part of the 
Acts we find that Paul occupies most of the room and 
attracts to himself most of the attention. 

Tradition relates that Peter went to the East, that 
he preached to the Jews in Babylon. In fact, this 
First Epistle declares itself to have been written from 


Babylon, and Babylon, I suppose, was not a mythical 
name for Rome, as some have supposed. It never as- 
sumed that mythical signification until after John had 
written his Apocalypse. At the time when this Epistle 
was written we have no reason to believe that the word 
" Babylon " was used for Rome. In an Epistle like 
this, in plain prose, we should hardly expect that the 
word Babylon would be used in that figurative, the-* 
torical, poetical sense. 

There was a very large colony of Jews at Babylon ; 
and Peter seems to have gravitated toward the East of 
the Roman Empire, as Paul gravitated toward the 
West. As the larger part of the Jews were in the East 
rather than in the West, the apostle to the Jews seems 
to have had the chosen sphere of his activity there, 
while Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, had his chosen 
sphere of activity westward, toward Rome, ever tend- 
ing toward Rome, until at Rome he died. Some one 
will ask : Is it, therefore, entirely a mythical thing that 
Peter was crucified at Rome, that he was the founder 
of the Roman church, that he suffered martyrdom there 
by being crucified with his head downward? Well, 
with regard to that, the historians of the church are at 
variance to this very day. It certainly appears that 
Peter had not been at Rome at the time that Paul wrote 
his Epistle to the Romans. It would be almost inex- 
plicable that there should be no mention of Peter if 
Peter had founded the Roman church. It would be 
impossible for Paul to have written the Epistle to the 
Romans without mentioning Peter, if Peter was there 
or had been there. We have no evidence in all the 
Epistles which Paul wrote during his imprisonment at 


Rome that Peter was there in Rome or that he had ever 
preached there at all. I think, therefore, that the Epis- 
tle to the Romans is, in itself, a strong argument 
against the claims of the papacy, against the claim that 
the bishops of Rome derived their apostolic descent 
directly from Peter. It never can be proved that Peter 
was in Rome at all. If Peter ever was in Rome, it 
seems to me altogether probable that he was in Rome 
after Paul had suffered martyrdom, and that he went 
to Rome to take Paul's place and preach the gospel 
after Paul was taken away. But I think we shall have 
to leave the question in abeyance. With the light we 
now have it cannot be decided. All we know in regard 
to the First Epistle of Peter is that it was written from 
Babylon, the far east of the Roman Empire. 

To whom was the First Epistle of Peter written? 
It appears to have been written to the churches that 
were founded by Paul. If you notice the address of 
the First Epistle you will see that it purports to come 
from Peter, " an apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ, to 
the elect sojourners of the Dispersion." By the Disper- 
sion Peter meant the true Israel of God, those Chris- 
tians who were scattered abroad. After the Assyrian 
and Babylonian captivities, the Jews were scattered 
among all the nations of the earth; they had syna- 
gogues in every large city of the Roman Empire ; and 
there were multitudes of them throughout Asia Minor. 
As Jews were scattered about through the Roman Em- 
pire, and Christians constituted the true Israel, this 
word " Dispersion " came to be applied to the scattered 
Christians ; and Peter writes his Epistle to the " elect 
sojourners of the Dispersion," that is, the Christians 


that were dispersed throughout the whole of Asia 
Minor; then he proceeds to mention them in the order 
that would naturally occur to one writing from the 
East. He begins, for example, with Pontus, which was 
farthest to the east; then he mentions Galatia; then 
Cappadocia; and finally he mentions the two provinces 
that were farthest westward, namely, Asia, in the nar- 
row sense, and Bithynia. So, in the very order of the 
provinces we have a new evidence that it was from 
Babylon, and not from Rome, that the Epistle was writ- 
ten. But all these churches of Asia Minor were 
churches that had directly or indirectly owed their 
foundation to the apostle Paul; and it was a sort of 
rule with the apostles not to invade the sphere of one 
another's labors. There was no place or church that 
had Epistles written to it, near the same time, by two 
of the apostles. Paul would not invade the sphere of 
another man's labors ; he built on his own foundations ; 
and just so, Peter would not invade Paul's sphere of 
labor, if the apostle Paul were still living. " 

These Epistles of Peter, therefore, could not have 
been written until after the death of the apostle Paul, 
or at least after Paul had withdrawn from active work. 
Possibly this First Epistle may have been written dur- 
ing Paul's first imprisonment, when he could not attend 
to the churches ; but it is more likely that both the First 
and the Second Epistles were written after Paul's 
death. Peter then assumed the charge of the churches 
for which Paul had cared ; and so, in a similar manner, 
the Epistles to the seven churches, which we find in the 
book of Revelation, were not written until after Paul 
had suffered martyrdom. The Epistles of Peter, then, 


were written from the East, after the death of the apos- 
tle Paul ; and as the apostle Paul suffered martyrdom in 
the year 64, or some part of the year 65, we certainly 
cannot put the date of the First Epistle of Peter earlier 
than the year 66. This is as near to the date of the 
two Epistles as any year that we can assign; and we 
find that Peter is striving to assist and encourage these 
churches of Asia Minor, after the great leader, the 
apostle to the Gentiles, has been taken away. 

There are indications that much apostolic labor had 
preceded Peter's writing, and this labor Peter himself 
had not performed. He takes it for granted that these 
churches have already a complete system of Christian 
doctrine. He does not seek to indoctrinate them, but 
assumes that they already know the truth, and that they 
need only to have the truth brought vividly to their 
remembrance. The churches to which he writes are 
not only in possession of this complete system of doc- 
trine, but they are now involved in persecution; not 
apparently persecution by the civil power, but persecu- 
tion of a social sort from their Jewish countrymen, and 
from overweening and arrogant heathen. They need 
strengthening against this persecution from those who 
ought to help them in their Christian life. They also 
need instruction with regard to their conduct toward 
the heathen about them, lest evil example tempt them to 
impurity of life. And finally, there are tendencies to 
critical and censorious judgment among them, and 
their pastors and leaders are somewhat in danger of 
being infected by ambifion and of lording it over God's 
people. These are the influences which Peter, in his 
First Epistle, tries to counteract. 


There is something striking in the Epistles of Peter 
as to the style and method of address. Peter's Epistles 
show very strong traces of the influence of the apostle 
Paul. In that respect too, we have an evidence that the 
apostle Peter wrote after the apostle Paul. Peter was 
one of those open-hearted souls that receive from every 
hand. He had insensibly taken in many of the ideas 
of the apostle Paul, and not only the ideas of Paul, but 
some of Paul's methods of expression. Peter had seen 
writings of the apostle Paul before he himself wrote; 
in fact, in the Second Epistle, he says of Paul's Epistles 
that in them " there are many things hard to be under- 
stood, which those who are unstable wrest to their own 
destruction, as they do the other Scriptures." 

Is it not a sign of the nobility of this apostle that, 
with all his prestige and influence, he should declare 
his approval and give his sanction to the writings of 
the apostle Paul; that he should recognize them as 
Scripture like the Old Testament (for, when he speaks 
of " other Scriptures," it is the Old Testament, un- 
questionably, of which he speaks) ; that he should as- 
sign to them an equal authority with the writings of the 
prophets, and say that the things in them which are 
difficult to be understood are worthy of all respect, as 
if they were the very utterances of Christ himself? 
How devoid of jealousy, how generous, how magnani- 
mous, how full of the spirit of love and self-sacrifice! 
How well he has subdued all private feeling to the in- 
terest of Christ ! There is something very noble in all 
this. But it is not surprising. Paul, a long time be- 
fore, had put the Christian truth into correct form, and 
in this respect was the greatest of the apostles, Only 


James had preceded Paul, and the Epistle of James 
had no such currency as had the writings of the apostle 
Paul, being destined for a narrow circle of Jews, while 
Paul's were sent abroad to all the Gentile churches and 
were spread quickly through the world. It is not sur- 
prising that Peter should have been greatly influenced 
by Paul's doctrine and by Paul's method of expression. 

If you will take the First Epistle of Peter and read 
the opening of it, " Blessed be the God and Father of 
our Lord Jesus Christ," you will see that there is 
something to remind you very vividly of Paul's Epistle 
to the Ephesians. Peter unquestionably had in his 
hands the writings of Paul; he had studied them care- 
fully and had been influenced by them. In Peter's 
First Epistle we find Silvanus, or Silas, mentioned, and 
Mark also, two of Paul's principal helpers. Here is a 
link of connection between Peter and Paul. We can 
trace the history of Silas and the history of Mark down 
to the close of Paul's life. After Paul's martyrdom it 
would seem that these friends and companions of his 
made their way to the East to the apostle Peter; that 
they brought with them the letters which Paul had 
written to the various churches ; that Peter made them 
a subject of study; and that Peter then wrote to the 
churches that were now orphans by the apostle's death, 
expressed his sanction of all that Paul had written, and 
then added his own instructions for their present con- 
dition and needs. 

When we come to the Second Epistle of Peter we 
find that it is written to practically the same persons 
or communities, because, in the third chapter and first 
verse, Peter says, "This second epistle I write unto 


you, brethren." But this Second Epistle has a slightly 
different object from the first. The dangers and diffi- 
culties counteracted in the second are internal, whereas 
those in the first are external. As, in the first, it was 
the heathen with whom the people of God had to deal 
and who persecuted them, so, in the Second Epistle, it 
seems to be the false teachers within the church. Li- 
centious professors of religion, and profane scoffers, 
seem to be within the body. Trouble had already 
arisen, and the object of the Second Epistle is to coun- 
teract these internal difficulties; whereas the object of 
the First Epistle is to strengthen and comfort and en- 
courage the churches in their endurance of persecutions 
from without. 

This Second Epistle of Peter is the Epistle of all 
the New Testament with regard to whose genuineness 
there has been most dispute. Many people who are 
convinced of the authenticity and genuineness of all 
the other books of the New Testament, declare that 
with regard to this Second Epistle of Peter they are 
in great doubt; and it is well for us to understand the 
exact state of the case. The fact seems to be that it 
is not until the year 230, almost two centuries after the 
Saviour's death, that we have an express mention of 
this Second Epistle of Peter. This first mention of 
the Epistle is by Origen, the church Father, and he 
mentions it in a very peculiar way. He says : " We 
have one Epistle of Peter which is universally ac- 
cepted; and, if you will, a second, for this is ques- 
tioned." While he mentions the Second Epistle of 
Peter as being in existence, he says that it is ques- 
tionable whether it is a genuine work of the apostle. 



It is not until the year 250 that we have the first clear 
witness to the Second Epistle of Peter, with an accept- 
ance of the Epistle; this is by Firmilian, a bishop of 
Cappadocia. The church historians mention it among 
the Antilegomena, the books that -are spoken against. 
Jerome, in the fourth century, investigated the claims 
of the Epistle and admitted it to the Latin Vulgate, 
while, at the same time, he recorded the objections 
against it. 

It was not until the year 372 that the Council of 
Laodicea formally admitted it to the canon. But that 
was a council held in the East; and it was not until 
the year 397, almost four hundred years after Christ, 
that the Council of Carthage, in the West, admitted it 
formally to the canon. The history of this Epistle is 
manifestly quite different from that of any other New 
Testament document. 

How can we account for all this strange lateness in 
getting into circulation and acceptance in the Christian 
church ? Is all this consistent with the genuineness and 
the inspiration of the Epistle ? I think it is ; and I ven- 
ture an explanation, though my explanation can be 
only a plausible hypothesis. These Epistles were cer- 
tainly written very late in the apostle's life. Peter 
must have been a somewhat old man in the year 66, 
when we say the Epistle was probably written. How 
old was Peter at the time of the Saviour's death ? We 
should think, should we not, that the apostle Peter was 
older than our Lord? Then, in the year 66, he was 
thirty-three years older than when Jesus died. He 
must have been sixty-six, if he was born at the same 
time with Christ; but if older than Christ, then he 


must have been, say, seventy-six or possibly eighty. 
We think of him as much older than the apostle John ; 
and in the Second Epistle we see the marks of age; he 
is getting toward his end; he says the time of his de- 
parture is at hand ; he wishes to leave his remembrance 
to the church, and to give them something that will 
instruct them and comfort them and encourage them 
after he is gone. These are the words of an old man. 
These two Epistles seem to be written in the old age 
of the apostle, and just before his death. 

And how did he die? Why, tradition says that he 
suffered martyrdom. This is an indication of perse- 
cution, and the persecution would have been persecu- 
tion not simply of himself, but persecution of other 
Christians also. An Epistle written just before his 
martyrdom, and just before a general persecution of 
the church, would certainly find some difficulties in the 
way of its rapid dissemination. Persecution might 
require it to be hidden for a time. Years may have 
passed before it safely could be brought out from its 
obscurity. I think we can easily see that there may 
have been reasons why this Epistle should have come 
later into general circulation than any of the other 
Epistles of the New Testament. Written far away 
at the East, with no daily mails, no express-trains, no 
post-office, no press, it had to be transcribed word by 
word, a single copy at a time. It took long to circulate 
the documents of the New Testament through the 
Christian church. To make an Epistle written in Baby- 
lon fully known in western Rome may have required a 
whole generation, and intervening persecution may have 
prevented the multiplication of copies for a century. 


There are some curious analogies in modern times 
which may throw light upon this matter. Some have 
questioned whether it was possible that Epistles, hidden 
so long, could have come out to the light at last and 
then be accepted by the whole Christian church. But 
De Wette found, not seventy-five years ago, a number 
of important letters by Luther, the great reformer, 
that the world had never seen before. Three hun- 
dred years had passed since Luther's death. De Wette 
brought out these letters and printed them. They were 
accepted at once as veritable letters of the reformer, 
although they had been hidden for three hundred years. 

John Milton wrote a treatise on Christian doctrine 
an important work but it was two hundred years after 
John Milton's death before the world knew of its exist- 
ence; then only was it printed and circulated. Sir 
William Hamilton tells us that there are now actually 
in existence important treatises by great philosophers 
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that are lying 
hidden away, and unknown, not only to the world but 
even to the chosen biographers of these philosophers. 
Or if one desires an illustration from ancient times, we 
have it in the case of the later works of Aristotle. 
These works were lost for a hundred and fifty years 
after his death, but they were recognized as genuine 
so soon as they were recovered from the cellar of the 
family of Neleus in Asia. So I think it not without 
parallel or analogy that this Epistle of the apostle Peter 
should have remained hidden for many years, should 
have been then brought out, and finally, through many 
difficulties, should have won its way to the confidence 
of the Christian church. 


Our evidence of the genuineness and value of the 
Epistle is in part external. But there is an internal 
evidence just as valuable as the external. By internal 
evidence I mean the spiritual value of the Epistle itself, 
the appeal that it makes to our Christian sympathies 
and affections, and the power it has to stir and arouse 
and warn. There is a spirit in the sacred writings 
which is very different from that of secular literature. 
Take the first chapter of the Second Epistle of Peter 
and read it through; if you are a Christian, you will 
feel that the Holy Spirit appeals to you through that 
first chapter as clearly and indubitably as it appeals to 
you through any other chapter of the New Testament. 
There is a power here, an elevation, an illumination, 
that are manifestly the work of the Spirit of God ; and 
I confess that, for my part, I should greatly feel the 
loss of the Second Epistle of Peter, if it should be taken 
from us. I do not think the question whether the 
Second Epistle of Peter is genuine or not is one upon 
which the whole New Testament stands or falls. Still 
I think there was a divine will guiding the formation 
of the canon, and that the church was inspired as to 
which portions of the ancient writings to accept. I be- 
lieve most firmly in the inspiration and genuineness of 
this Second Epistle of Peter, but I believe it not so 
much upon the external evidence as I believe it upon 
the internal evidence, the power it has to touch my heart 
and speak to me as by the very voice of the Holy Spirit. 

It has been said that the apostle Paul is the apostle 
of faith, that the apostle John is the apostle of love, and 
that the apostle Peter is the apostle of hope. Let us 
read these Epistles in the light of that general remark. 


Hopefulness is the most characteristic thing about 
them. You cannot read these two Epistles without 
feeling something of their broad and noble hopefulness. 

Peter was a man of sanguine temperament; a man 
who found it easy to believe; and a man who, as he 
believed most heartily in the facts of Christianity, had 
a most unwavering faith in the triumph of Christianity. 
Read the first chapter of the First Epistle of Peter in 
the light of this remark. You will notice that Peter 
based his hopes on historical facts. He takes us back 
to the suffering and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus 
Christ ; then he takes us forward to the future, and the 
certainty that the Lord Jesus Christ will come again. 
One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a 
thousand years as one day. So he bids us to be pure, 
even in the midst of darkness and persecution, for the 
day of the Lord draweth nigh. 

You remember that Jesus told Peter to strengthen 
his brethren. Obedience to that command led to the 
writing of these First and Second Epistles. Peter 
would strengthen his brethren, to undergo the trials 
and persecutions with which they are beset here in 
this present life, with the assurance that there is laid up 
for them a crown of glory, incorruptible, an'd unde- 
filed, and that fadeth not away. There is a spirit of 
cheer, there is a spirit of brightness, a spirit of hope 
in the Epistles of Peter, which differences them from 
all the other Epistles of the New Testament. Peter's 
own soul is full of hope and brightness and cheer, and 
he expresses that innermost nature of his in both the 
First and the Second Epistles. 



THE First Epistle of John can hardly be distinguished 
from a doctrinal and practical treatise. There is no 
address to it. There are no salutations at the end of 
it. No author's name is connected with it. One might 
almost think it was intended as a general exposition 
of Christian truth; and yet you find, here and there 
through the work, expressions like this, " I write unto 
you, little children," which seem to indicate that, in 
the author's mind, it was an Epistle. Although we do 
not know the names of the churches to which it was 
first sent, it is quite possible that it was sent to them 
by some messenger who assured them of its author- 
ship; so that the name John did not need to be ap- 
pended to it or mentioned at its beginning. This, in 
fact, is characteristic of all John's writing. It is always 

The two other Epistles of John do not mention the 
author's name. He calls himself " the elder " in them. 
That word " elder " may not mean " officer of the 
church," but may be used simply in the sense of " an 
elderly person," as Paul called himself " Paul, the 
aged." And in the Gospel, you remember that there is 
no mention at all of John's name. The " disciple 
whom Jesus loved " is the nearest he comes to it; so 
that, although this is an Epistle of John, it is not neces- 
sary at all that we should connect our faith in its 
genuineness with any ability on our part to show the 


apostle's name connected with it, either in the Epistle 
itself, or traditionally, when it was first delivered. 

The characteristics of the Epistle are the characteris- 
tics of John's other writings. There are so many 
common features of the Gospel, of these three Epistles, 
and of the Apocalypse, the style of thought in them 
all is so peculiar, so unlike that of any other of the 
New Testament writings, that the simplest and easiest 
hypothesis is that all are the work of the apostle John. 
Any other hypothesis at once meets with so many 
difficulties, so many contradictions, that we have to 
give it up. The universal voice of the tradition of 
the church ascribes this First Epistle to John; and I 
think we need pay very little attention to the skeptical 
objections of some modern critics, for they evidently 
originate in a carping spirit that no evidence whatever 
would satisfy. The Gospel according to John is the 
first of the two main writings, and this Epistle is the 
second ; in other words, the Gospel was written before 
the Epistle. I do not mean to say that the Gospel is 
the earliest of John's writings, because the Apocalypse, 
I believe, is the earliest The Apocalypse, or book of 
Revelation, was written thirty years before the Gospel ; 
while the Epistle was written in the very latest period 
of the apostle's life. I doubt whether we can put the 
date of it earlfer than the year 96 or 97, at the very 
close of the first century, long after Paul and Peter 
had suffered martyrdom, and long after the other 
books of the New Testament had been written. Quite 
an interval appears between the writings we have 
studied heretofore, all of which were written before 
the destruction of Jerusalem, and the Gospel of John 


with the Epistle which immediately follows it. The 
relation of the Epistle to the Gospel is an interesting 
one. In both of them the great subject is Christ, the 
everlasting Word of the Father, the revelation of God 
to man. And yet the aspect in which Christ is re- 
garded is different in the Gospel from that in which 
he is regarded in the Epistle. The Epistle seems to be 
an application of the truth that is laid down in the 
Gospel. In the Gospel, John isahislotian.; in the 
^Vi5 f ]f, J n hn i g n theolorinn. Or, if you choose to 
put it another way, in the Gospel John gives us the 
historical basis. He represents Christ as coming from 
God, becoming incarnate in humanity, and living his 
life -before us. Thus he lays the foundation of the 
Gospel in historical fact. Humanity is incorporated 
and absolutelly united with the Deity, but it is in the 
person of Christ; the union of Christ's followers with 
God is an incident and consequence, but not the main 
thing that is treated. 

This union of Christ's followers with God is the 
subject of the Epistle. In the Epistle we have the 
result of the union of deity with humanity, in the life 
of the church. As the Gospel shows us God incarnated 
in Christ, the starting-point, so, in the Epistle, we have 
humanity brought into fellowship with God by union 
with Christ. As the Gospel sets before us God in 
Christ, so the Epistle sets before us the church in 
Christ. In the Gospel we have the great doctrinal fact 
set before us ; in the Epistle we have the ethical conse- 
quence of that fact. In the Gospel we have God in 
Christ; in the Epistle we have Christ in the church. 
So it is very natural that the Epistle should follow the 


Gospel, follow it at no great interval, follow it as a 
commentary follows a text, follow it as the application 
ordinarily follows the doctrinal part of a sermon. 

Written in the year 96 or 97, therefore, immediately 
after the Gospel, we find in it no reference to the con- 
troversies which had agitated the church in the days of 
Paul. They all seem to have been settled that great 
Judaizing controversy, for example; that question be- 
tween law and gospel; that dividing line between 
merely outward Israel and the true church of God 
nothing of this appears in either the Gospel or the 
Epistle of John. Paul has long since passed away. 
Thirty years have passed since his martyrdom, and 
John has been called to supervise the churches over 
which Paul was once the bishop or supervisor. Asia 
Minor has been for many years the scene of the apos- 
tle's labors, and a great many of the early difficulties of 
the situation have ceased to exist. Jerusalem has been 
destroyed, so long destroyed that there is not the least 
mention of Jerusalem in this Epistle of John. 

Not only has Jerusalem been destroyed, but the per- 
secutions that circled about that time have all passed 
by. There is not the least hint in the First Epistle of 
John that there was any such thing as persecution. 
The difficulties which John has to meet, the errors 
which he has to controvert, are not those which arise 
from external opposition of enemies to the faith. The 
heathen are not mentioned at all in this First Epistle 
of John. 

The church seems not only to have been launched, 
but to have proceeded for a long time on a prosperous 
voyage. No external rocks or quicksands occasion the 


warnings of the apostle; the difficulties are all inter- 
nal; such difficulties as would arise in a church that 
had been prosperous, and which, by virtue of its pros- 
perity, was in danger of forgetting its early love. And 
so the apostle is enabled to confine himself to those 
great internal truths and needs which are the same for 
all time. 

It is remarkable how completely John lifts himself 
up above everything merely temporal, above everything 
that has reference to the present, and how he strikes 
at tendencies that are the same from age to age ; if you 
find in his Epistles any reference to errors peculiar to 
his time, they are errors of a totally different sort from 
those with which Paul had to deal. 

There is one great doctrinal tendency, one great 
tendency of error, which John, in this Epistle, com- 
bats. It has to do with the person of Christ. At the 
close of the first century there began to manifest itself 
in the Christian church a disposition to degrade Christ, 
on the one hand, to the mere level of man, and to hold 
him to be a mere exalted human being; and, on the 
other hand, a disposition to regard him as so completely 
and entirely God that he could not suffer here in the 
flesh. This latter tendency is represented in the per- 
son of Cerinthus. The Christian Fathers tell us that 
Cerinthus lived in the days of the apostle John, and 
was in Ephesus at the close of the first century. 

What was the doctrine of this Cerinthus? It was 
this, that Deity and humanity were not from the first 
indissolubly united in Christ; the union was a tem- 
porary one, and a separable one. In other words, Cerin- 
thus did not believe in a miraculous conception; did 


not believe in a genuine incarnation of God in hu- 
manity; did not believe that he who was born of the 
Virgin was the Son of God as well as the Son of man, 
divine as well as human. No, Cerinthus held that 
Jesus was born just as other men are born; that he 
was a holy man; that he was the choice of God; that, 
at his baptism, there descended upon him from on high, 
in the form of a dove, a divinity that took possession 
of him, and that constituted a union with him that 
lasted through his earthly life until the time of his 
crucifixion; and that then he was forsaken by the 
Father; the death that occurred was not the death of 
Deity plus humanity, but was the death simply of a 
human being; all the miraculous works that Christ had 
previously done were done by virtue of the Deity that 
dwelt in him and by no power of his own; Deity did 
not unite itself to him in such a way that his humanity 
could not be separated from it ; and so, Christ went up 
on high, the human was left here below, and only the 
Deity went back to the throne. How plain it is that 
such an incarnation does not answer either to the 
Scripture representation, or to the needs of our human 
hearts! It is very like the incarnation that we find in 
Buddhism, where Buddha comes down in a cycle of 
ages, joins himself temporarily to a human being, in- 
habits this humanity for a little time, and then, after 
he has done this temporary work, shuffles off the 
humanity like a worn-out garment, and returns alone 
to his heaven. 

How different from the conception of the incarna- 
tion in Scripture! In Scripture God unites himself 
from the very birth of Christ, and forevermore. We 


call our Lord the God-man. From the very beginning 
he is the Son of God. The union in him of humanity 
and deity is indissoluble. When Christ ascends up on 
high he takes our humanity with him; so that in 
heaven to-day he has the same hands and feet that 
were nailed to the bitter cross for us. That is the in- 
carnation, that is the union of humanity and deity for 
which our human hearts long. We want a union of 
humanity with God that is permanent; and only that 
complete union of humanity with God satisfies our 
needs or furnishes the basis of our fellowship with 
God. Cerinthus denies this; Cerinthus declares that 
the union of deity with humanity began only at Christ's 
baptism and continued only until the time of his death ; 
Christ now is not our elder brother in the sense that 
he is man as well as God; he cannot sympathize with 
us now, because he has not the same nature that he had 
when he was here upon earth. This doctrine is so 
repugnant to Christian feeling, it is so antagonistic to 
Scripture that John regards it as the very central 
heresy of all ; and he makes belief in the real union of 
Deity and humanity in Christ, belief in the permanent 
union of the Son of God with human nature, a test of 
all Christian fellowship. There is a tradition with 
regard to the apostle John that when, on a certain day, 
he found himself in the public bath with Cerinthus, or 
heard, as he was in the bath, that this heretic Cerinthus 
was there too, he seized his single garment and rushed 
out from the bath in terror, declaring to those about 
him that he dare not stay under that roof lest the roof 
should fall upon them as a sign of God's judgment 
upon such a heretic. There was a revelation of the 


burning love and burning hate that characterized the 
apostle John. 

We sometimes think of him as effeminate. We must 
remember that he was a Boanerges, a " Son of Thun-^ 
der." That same deep heart of love was inseparable 
from a heart of hatred for everything that was untrue 
and impure. The love of goodness that is not ac- 
companied by a hatred of evil is love of a very sus- 
picious sort. 

The apostle John has given us, in this First Epis- 
tle, a commentary, application, and continuation of the 
Gospel. He has told us, in this First Epistle, what 
effect this fellowship with God produces in the heart 
and life of the believer. 

You remember the striking similarity between the 
beginning of the Gospel and the beginning of the Epis- 
tle. In the Gospel we have : " In the beginning was 
the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word 
was God " ; and then, in the fourteenth verse, we have : 
" And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us 
(and we behold his glory, glory as of the only begotten 
from the Father) full of grace and truth." In the 
Epistle we find the apostle stirred by the completed 
incarnation, and speaking of what lie himself, as an 
eye-witness, has beheld : ' c That which our eyes have 
seen, which our hands have handled, of the Word of 
life, that declare we unto you " ; and the object of his 
declaration is that those who believe in Christ may 
have their joy fulfilled. 

As, in the Gospel, he begins with eternity past, 
shows how the Word of God became incarnate, and 
then describes the life of God among men, so, in the 


Epistle, he begins with the complete incarnation, tells 
us how he himself, among others, had been an eye- 
witness of the facts of the Saviour's life, and then 
proceeds to show what effect this great doctrine ought 
to have upon the life of the believer and of the church. 

After this beginning of the First Epistle there are 
two great divisions of the treatment, the first of them 
extending to the twelfth verse of the second chapter, 
and the second extending from that point to the end. 

It is difficult to follow the course of thought of the 
Epistle, and to construct an analysis of it. The apostle, 
while having the general plan which he is to follow, 
yet allows himself from time to time to diverge from 
the path that he has marked out, in order to make par- 
ticular applications of the truth and to add suggestions 
that occur to his mind. Exactly where the lines of 
division are to be drawn it is sometimes difficult to say. 
The first verse seems to suggest another verse, and the 
second verse to suggest the third; yet, after all, there 
can be no doubt that there is a general progress of 
thought, and that two great ideas are presented in it. 
If we can fasten in our minds these two ideas of the 
Epistle, it will be of service to us. 

The first is : God is light, walk in the light ; and the 
second is: God is love, walk in love. The first part 
of the Epistle has to do with God as light; that is, as 
moral light, as having in him no darkness at all of 
sin or impurity, and therefore as excluding sin on the 
part of the Christian, so that he who lives in fellow- 
ship with God is bound to walk in the light, as God 
is light. And if the Christian has come into fellow- 
ship with God, that light will reveal the Christian's 


remaining unholiness, and will show that the Chris- 
tian is nece'ssarily one who recognizes sin and con- 
fesses sin. " If we confess our sins, he is faithful and 
just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all un- 
righteousness. If any man says he has no sin, he is a 
liar, the truth is not in him " ; God's moral light re- 
veals the remaining impurity of those who are joined 
to him; reveals it to themselves; leads them, by his 
Spirit, to confess that remaining impurity; leads them 
to seek forgiveness for it and deliverance from it. That 
is the first great division of the Epistle. Fellowship 
with God, brought about by union with Jesus Christ, 
is the one great subject of the Epistle. And the appli- 
cation is obvious. As God is light, let us walk in the 
light, confess our sin, put away our sin, seek the de- 
liverance from sin which the Spirit of God provides in 

The second part of the Epistle very naturally fol- 
lows. God is not only moral light, holiness, purity, 
but he is also love; and fellowship with God in Jesus 
Christ will, therefore, necessarily lead us first to love 
God, and then, as the result of that love, to love our 
brethren also; so that the evidence that we have this 
love to God will be seen in our love for the brethren, 
and wherever love for the brethren prevails, it will 
have its source in God himself, who is love. So we 
are brought to a recognition of the fact that there 
should be two sorts of self-sacrifice and service on the 
part of Christians, one toward one another, and the 
other toward their Lord. Beginning with the fact of 
God's great love to us, John saw the necessity on our 
part of corresponding love toward one another. 


" Herein is love," or, in the original, " herein is the 
Love," as if this love of God in Christ were the one 
great example of love; as if this were the love which 
included all other love; the love into fellowship with 
which we were to enter. In other words, the love of 
God toward the lost world in Christ is love of which 
we are not only the objects, but also the partakers. 
Did he not lay down his life for us? If he laid down 
his life for us, then we also ought to lay down our 
lives for the brethren. That is a very simple sort of 
argument. It is not dialectic. It is not conceived or 
expressed in the logical way of the apostle Paul. John 
speaks in a childlike way; he speaks from insight; he 
puts his thought in the simplest possible form; yet his 
utterance is wonderfully profound and wonderfully 
true. This is the very truth we need to make us active 
and useful Christians. 

Here, then, we have the great subject of the Epis- 
tle, fellowship with God in union with Christ. God is 
light: therefore enter into this fellowship of moral 
light, confess and put away sin. God is love: enter 
into this fellowship of love; not only receive this love 
from God, but manifest this love to your brethren; 
for, when a man says he loves God and loves not his 
brother, he is a liar, like that man who says that he has 
no sin which he needs to confess and put away. 

We have seen that John's first aim in this Epistle 
is to oppose a great doctrinal error with regard to the 
person of Christ, that doctrinal error which would 
separate between the humanity and Deity of Christ, 
and conceive of them as dislocated and only tempo- 
rarily united during the Saviour's life; that great error 


that denies that Jesus Christ is from the beginning and 
forever the divine-human Redeemer, Son of God and 
Son of man. John's second great aim is to combat 
the great practical error that a man, when he is once 
redeemed, does not need any further redemption. 
These prosperous Christians were in danger of for- 
getting that there was still remaining something to be 
done, and that they must look to God to sanctify them 
as well as justify them. It is not enough to be for- 
given. Those who say, " God has forgiven me ; it is 
all right with me; I have nothing now to do," must 
take care to live a life of good works, a life of holiness, 
a life of love, or they will prove that they are strangers 
to the grace of God. The practical instruction of the 
Epistle, then, aims to convince Christians that they 
must continually seek sanctification, that they must be 
faithful to Christ in purity of life and in love toward 
the brethren. A little remark of Luther's is exceed- 
ingly apt, and is worth remembering. He says, " He 
that is a Christian is no Christian " ; that is, he who 
thinks that his Christian life is a complete thing, that 
he needs nothing more, that there is nothing to strive 
for, nothing further to do, nothing further to attain, 
why, he is not a Christian at all. How much there is 
in that! He who is a Christian, trusts Christian ex- 
periences in the past, without trying continually to be 
a better Christian and to live more near to God, why, 
that man shows that the root of the matter is not in 
him. He is not a Christian, for a Christian is one who 
recognizes his remaining depravity, hates it, longs to 
be rid of it, and strives continually to be more and 
more like Christ his Lord. 


There is a saying of Jesus himself, of which I think 
this is only an exposition in another form of words. 
Jesus bids his disciples love one another and sacrifice 
themselves for one another ; and he says, " So shall ye 
become my disciples." Become? Why, they were his 
disciples. Yes, they were his disciples, but they could 
become more and more his disciples. " So shall ye 
become my disciples." It is not enough that we are 
Christians now; there is a sense in which we are to 
become more and more thoroughly Christians in our 
daily life. This is exactly what the apostle John seeks. 
He writes this Epistle in order that those whom he 
recognizes as already saved by the grace of God may 
be more and more saved. They may be saved more 
and more from the evil that is within and without, and 
they may become more and more like Christ in heart 
and life. 

There are two specific objects which the apostle 
mentions in addition to this one. He says he writes 
these things to them that their joy may be fulfilled 
that is one thing he aims at; and that they may know 
that they have eternal life that is the other aim. 
There is a knowledge of the fact that they belong to 
Christ and that they are his, on the one hand; and 
there is a joy resulting, on the other. These two have 
an intimate connection with each other. John writes 
in order that our faith may be turned into assurance ; 
in order that our trust in Christ may- become a real 
conviction. He would have us know that Christ is 
ours, and that we are his ; and so would put us in pos- 
session of our proper Christian joy. The Lord is not 
content that we should be simply Christians ; he wants 


us to know that we are Christians and to have the joy 
of knowing it; so that the joy of the Lord may be our 

It is not possible for a Christian who is living in 
Doubting Castle, and who is constantly troubled with 
fears lest he shall be a castaway, to do so much for 
God or to exert so large or so blessed an influence 
upon those around him as he could exert if he had the 
assurance that he was a child of God and an inheritor 
of the kingdom of heaven. The joy of the Lord is a 
contagious joy; when it shines out from the features it 
gives witness to the world of a higher life in Christ; it 
leads others to seek and to find the Christ who imparts 
it. John writes with these two ends in view : First, 
that we may know we are Christians; and secondly, 
that we may have the joy that belongs to Christians. 
This Epistle, written in his age, and just before his 
death, is his legacy to the Christian church. 

There is something very striking in the point to 
which we have arrived in our study of the New Testa- 
ment. This is the last of the New Testament docu- 
ments, the last word of inspiration, and how calm, 
how authoritative, how apostolic it is ! 

A single word with regard to the Second and Third 
Epistles. The second is apparently written to a lady, 
an elect lady, who has a Christian household which is 
threatened by the invasion of false teachers, and she 
is warned against them. It is a beautiful illustration 
of family religion in the apostolic age. The Third 
Epistle is written to Gaius; and in that Epistle Gaius 
is warned not to yield to the false instructions of a 
certain Diotrephes, who seems to be a pastor or elder 


of the church who has refused to obey the commands of 
the apostle and to entertain certain evangelists whom 
he had sent to minister in that neighborhood. This 
Third Epistle furnishes evidence of church organiza- 
tion in the apostolic age. In the First Epistle we have 
no mention of church organization, and no mention of 
religion in the family. The Second and Third Epistles 
supplement the First, and show us that both existed, 
although in the First Epistle we have no allusion to 
them. So the three together constitute a complete 
whole, and round out the whole work of apostolic in- 
struction which John the apostle was sent to perform. 
Like the Lord who sent him, he could say that he had 
finished the work which God gave him to do. 


JUDE or Judas, as our new version makes his name, 
declares himself to be the brother of James; and by 
that very fact he seems to intimate that he has no in- 
dependent standing as an apostle. If Jude had been 
an apostle, it would seem as if he would have so an- 
nounced himself in the address of his Epistle, and have 
gained whatever of authority such an announcement 
might give. On the other hand, he seems to distin- 
guish himself from the apostles when he urges those 
to whom he writes to remember the words that were 
spoken to them by the apostles of our Lord, while 
Peter says: "Remember the words that were spoken 
unto you by us, the apostles of the Lord." Jude does 
not class himself among the apostles. He calls himself 
simply Jude, the brother of James. 

This James cannot be James the greater. John, so 
far as we know, is his only brother. This James must 
have been the James who wrote the Epistle; and this 
James was not an apostle at all, but was a brother of 
our Lord, a later son of the Virgin, half-brother, so to 
speak, of Jesus, one of those who up to the time of 
the Saviour's resurrection had remained unbelieving. 
For that reason he could not be chosen as an apostle, 
for an apostle needed to be one who had been an eye- 
witness of the wonderful works of Jesus from the be- 
ginning; and the brethren of Jesus, who did not con- 
stantly accompany him during his earthly life, but 
Y 369 


rather sundered themselves from him, were not wit- 
nesses of all the events of that life, and therefore 
were not so fit persons to be entrusted with the apos- 

Jude, like James, then, was one of those half- 
brothers of Jesus who, though unbelieving during most 
of our Saviour's life here upon the earth, were con- 
verted after the resurrection. Jesus appeared to James 
in the fulness of a brother's love, convinced him of his 
error, and brought him to repentance and faith. We 
do not know that there was any special appearance of 
the risen Lord to Jude. He may have been one of 
those five hundred brethren to whom our Lord revealed 
himself all " at once." At any rate, he became a con- 
vert after Jesus' resurrection; and we find him with 
the other brethren of our Lord, and with the women, 
and with the apostles, in that upper chamber, where 
they prayed for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon 
the day of Pentecost. 

We know very little with regard to the life of Jude. 
It is told us that two of nis grandsons were appre- 
hended by Domitian; and being brought before him, 
were accused of being related to Jesus, the Christ; 
but when Domitian, the emperor, saw that they were 
plain men, and, on questioning them, found that the 
kingdom which they intended to set up was not a tem- 
poral but purely a spiritual kingdom, it is said that he 
dismissed them, and stayed the persecution that had 

What became of Jude himself we hardly know. 
Tradition relates that he preached to the Jews in 
Palestine and in Egypt; and if we are asked to say to 


what particular portion of the Christian church this 
letter of Jude was addressed, we may say that it was 
probably addressed to Jewish Christians in Palestine 
and in Egypt, for in those countries we find the first 
recognition of the Epistle. It would almost seem as if 
Peter and Jude had consented together with regard 
to the portions of the Christian church which they 
would address Peter writing to the Jewish Christians 
of the Dispersion in Asia Minor, while Jude wrote to 
the Jewish Christians in Palestine and Egypt. The 
date of the Epistle must have been in the very latest 
period of the Apostolic age that is, just before the de- 
struction of Jerusalem for Jude speaks as if the apos- 
tolic preaching were a thing of the past ; " Remember 
the words that were spoken to you by the apostles," he 
says, as if some of the apostles had already fallen 
asleep, and their ministry had come to its close. 

And yet, while the Epistle of Jude must have been 
written very late, it cannot have been written after the 
destruction of Jerusalem, because there are certain evi- 
dences that Peter had read this Epistle and had re- 
ceived some special influence from it. It therefore 
must have been written some time before Peter's death ; 
and, moreover, there is no reference whatever in it 
to the destruction of Jerusalem, as there most certainly 
would have been if Jerusalem had been destroyed. 

The Epistle reminds its readers of the various warn- 
ings and judgments of God; if Jerusalem had recently 
fallen, Jude would certainly have mentioned it as the 
most striking evidence that God's justice, although long 
delayed, will certainly be executed. We must, there- 
fore, put the date of the Epistle somewhere about the 


years 64 to 66. Peter suffered martyrdom probably in 
68. We must put the date of the Epistle a few years 
before that. And it is before the destruction of Jeru- 
salem, which took place in the year 70. Yet it is at 
the very close of the Apostolic age, after many of the 
apostles had ceased to labor, so that this date 64 to 66 
is as probable a date as any that can be assigned. 

There is a striking resemblance between the Epistle 
of Jude and the second chapter of the Second Epistle 
of Peter. Students of the New Testament have marked 
this resemblance, and have been puzzled by it. The 
writers of these two Epistles must have been in com- 
munication with each other; one of these two had read 
the work of the other, had been strongly influenced by 
it, and had actually taken from it some of its thoughts 
and expressions. 

The question as to priority is interesting. Who was 
the original, and who was the transcriber ? It appears 
that Jude was the original ; for there is a certain terse- 
ness, vigor, and coherence about the Epistle of Jude 
which marks it as an original. No one can read the 
Epistle of Jude without feeling that it is a unit, that it 
is the work of one man. 

On the other hand, when you read the Second Epistle 
of Peter, you find that the second chapter of Peter is 
not in Peter's ordinary style ; that there are expressions 
which are diverse from Peter's manner ; and, when you 
compare those divergent expressions with the Epistle 
of Jude, you find that, in the Epistle of Jude, some of 
them are there, almost word for word. I do not mean 
to say that the whole Epistle of Jude has been tran- 
scribed by Peter; but the general course of Jude's 


thought is adopted by Peter, and many of the forms 
of expression are adopted also. 

There is another reason why we should be led to 
think that Peter was the transcriber and not Jude, viz. : 
That the Epistle of Peter is the longer, and the Epistle 
of Jude is the briefer. It is the big fish that eat up 
the little fish, and not vice versa. It was easier for 
Peter to take Jude and to incorporate what Jude had 
written than it was for Jude to take a piece out of 
Peter, and make his whole Epistle out of that. 

You find, moreover, that the striking expressions of 
Jude are often curtailed. Peter takes them in con- 
densed form. Peter puts them in his own way. When 
he came to things in Jude which were difficult to un- 
derstand, expressions that were very uncommon, he 
simply omitted them, and contented himself with taking 
the substance of Jude's thought. I explain this curious 
phenomenon, just as I explain the taking from the 
Old Testament by the New Testament writers of mani- 
fold quotations, without any allusion whatever to the 
place from which they were taken. You do not blame 
Paul as he writes the Epistle to the Romans, and, in the 
second chapter, quotes verse after verse from the Old 
Testament Scriptures, without any allusion to the 
parts of the Old Testament Scripture from which they 
are taken. The inspiring Spirit who directed the mind 
of Paul had a perfect right to lead Paul's mind to the 
acceptance and reiteration of truth that, under the in- 
fluence of that same Spirit, had been spoken before. 

Here were Jude and Peter writing to Jewish Chris- 
tians, and yet writing to Jewish Christians in different 
regions Peter writing to Jewish Christians in Asia 


Minor, Jude writing to Jewish Christians in Palestine 
and Egypt. It is possible that there was not only com- 
munication, but also consultation, between them. Jude 
may even have had Peter for an amanuensis, and Peter 
may have taken from Jude's dictation what suited his 
purpose, may have incorporated it in his own Epistle, 
and then may have sent it out to Jewish Christians in 
another part of the earth. In the Old Testament we 
have a similar appropriation in Micah of a prophecy 
previously uttered by Isaiah. I see no reason why 
such a theory as this should not be perfectly consist- 
ent with our idea of inspiration. The real author of 
the Scripture is not Jude, nor Peter, but the Spirit of 
God; and the Spirit of God has a right to repeat his 
utterances by whomsoever he will. 

The design of the Epistle of Jude is to oppose what 
we may call antinomian Gnosticism. By Gnosticism I 
mean the pretense that religion consists mainly in 
speculative belief, and the corresponding tendency to 
make mere outward profession the essential thing. 
Gnosticism claims, moreover, that those who have pro- 
fessed Christianity and are outwardly connected with 
the church are in no danger of sin and may do what 
they will. There was the real spirit of licentiousness 
and the tendency to all manner of sensuality, while at 
the same time there was an utter disregard of the ap- 
pointed authorities of the Christian church. The de- 
sign of the Epistle is to oppose these tendencies, which 
we find treated in other Epistles of the New Testament, 
and which seem to have been particularly rife in the 
churches to which Peter and Jude wrote. 

Jude treats his subject in a very orderly way. After 


the introduction, in which he speaks of Christians as 
the peculiar possession of the Lord Jesus Christ, sanc- 
tified by God, the Father, and kept for our Lord up 
to the time of his coming, he urges them to contend 
earnestly for the faith that was once for all delivered 
to the saints. Notice the peculiar form of statement. 
This faith is something that can be separated from all 
the vagaries and speculations of men. It is a well- 
known and an easily recognized doctrine of Christ. It 
is given once for all; it is not to be altered, or added 
to, or superseded; it is given to all the saints as their 
common property and possession. It is not an esoteric 
doctrine, as the false teachers claimed. These false 
teachers prided themselves upon knowledge that is the 
possession of the few. They fancied that they alone had 
the key to the truth, and they excluded from the inner 
circle of intimacy with God the great mass of the 
Christian membership. They were self-sufficient and 

The Epistle sets over against all this narrow pre- 
tense of a peculiar doctrine the one faith delivered 
once for all to all the saints, as the common property 
and possession of all who love our Lord and Saviour, 
Jesus Christ. The church is to contend constantly for 
this faith against the false teachers who set up some- 
thing beyond the common truth that belongs to the 
Christian church. 

In the second part of his Epistle Jude speaks of 
the punishment that comes to those who resist the truth 
and are unfaithful to the word of God. Three sorts of 
sin are spoken of as punishable and three illustrations 
are given of their punishment. There is, first, the sin 


of unbelief. God brought Israel out of Egypt, and yet, 
when Israel disbelieved, God destroyed them in the 
wilderness. The second is the sin of pride. The angels 
that kept not their first estate God punished by banish- 
ing them from heaven and by keeping them in everlast- 
ing chains under darkness unto the judgment of the 
great day. The last of all is the sin of sensuality, and 
of this Sodom and Gomorrah are the example. 

Here are three distinct and terrible instances of pun- 
ishment brought upon persistent iniquity. And now 
there are three other forms of sin that are mentioned 
one after another. First, the way of Cain : that is, the 
way of self-righteousness, unwillingness to accept of 
God's appointed sacrifice; then, the way of Balaam: 
that is, the way of avarice, the seeking of earthly good 
and making our relations to God subordinate to what 
we can get from them in the way of advantage to our- 
selves ; and then, last of all, there is the way of Korah, 
the way of pride and rebellion, which are immediately 
followed by the downfall of destruction. And now, 
after having thus set before his readers the punishment 
of those who are rebellious and the character of those 
thus treated, he comes to what we may call the remedy ; 
and in the seventeenth verse he begins to tell us of 
what we are to do with regard to this matter. The 
first thing we are to do is to remember the word of 
God that has been left us in order to keep us from this 
transgression and rebellion. Then, secondly, we are to 
continue in love and faith and prayer, Christian graces 
and virtues which are antidotes to all evil. Thirdly, 
we are to bring back those who have gone astray, treat- 
ing them in different ways according to their peculiar 


necessities. Some of them are so involved in iniquity 
that, in order to save them, we must run some risk our- 
selves. We must pluck them like brands from the 
burning, even at the risk of our own burning; others 
are to be treated more gently and so brought back to 

All this is an inculcation of faithful watch-care and 
discipline on the part of the Christian church. The 
Epistle is not speaking of those who are outwardly 
ungodly, but rather of those who have already pro- 
fessed the religion of Christ, and are in danger of 
being led astray by false teachers, to the harm of the 
Christian church and the ruin of their own souls. Last 
of all, there comes the magnificent exhortation and 
doxology with which the Epistle closes. It is one of 
the noblest specimens of eloquence and solemn gran- 
deur in the whole book of God. 

There are one or two things in this Epistle of Jude, 
in addition to those which I have mentioned, which 
challenge attention at the very outset, and which have 
constituted an obstacle to the reception of the book as 
authentic and inspired. There is an apparent quota- 
tion from an Apocryphal writing, the book of Enoch. 
In the early Jewish times a circle of tradition gathered 
itself around the name of Enoch, the patriarch who 
walked with God, and was not, because God took him. 
Enoch came to be regarded not only as a representative 
of Old Testament piety, but as a representative also of 
Old Testament science. It was said that Enoch was an 
astronomer, and that he taught the movements of the 
heavenly bodies to the men of his time. It was said 
that he preached not only to man, but also to angels. 


There comes down to us from remote antiquity a 
book which purports to be the book of Enoch. Those 
who have investigated it most fully, and who know 
most about it, describe it as a delirious dream. I have 
tried to read it. I doubt whether any one of you could 
read it through. It is a rhapsody without beginning, 
middle, or end; it is a series of reflections or medita- 
tions upon Old Testament truths by a mind which has 
in it all the instincts of speculation, but which is bound 
down by very few ties to solid fact. In it there are a 
few traces of truth, a few sagacious conjectures with 
regard to the meaning of Old Testament Scripture; 
but the most of it is vague, transcendental, and worth- 
less dreaming with regard to Old Testament characters 
and God's method of dealing with the world. 

Did Jude actually quote from that Apocryphal book? 
If Jude did quote from it, does he sanction that Apocry- 
phal writing? Could he have quoted from a book that 
was not the word of God and thereby have given to it 
his sanction ? Was not this a mistake, inconsistent with 
the real inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit, 
in Jude's writing? These questions presented them- 
selves very early to the Christian Fathers, and led 
some of them to throw out the book of Jude from its 
place in the canon. 

Two or three things may be said in regard to this. 
In the first place, we do not certainly know that this 
book of Enoch was in existence when Jude, the writer 
of the Epistle, wrote. In fact, one of the most learned 
of the modern German investigators, one who I think 
has as much weight of argument upon his side as 
any one who has written with regard to this matter, 


declares that this book of Enoch was not written until 
about 132 after Christ, long after Jude's time. Jude. 
therefore, does not quote from the book of Enoch at 
all. Jude is quoting a tradition which had come down 
through many successive mouths from very early 
times; this tradition was a true tradition; and, in quo- 
ting it, the Holy Spirit vouches for its truth. That may 
be the proper explanation. Jude may be quoting, 
under the direction of the Holy Spirit, a tradition 
which had come down from early times, and to which 
he gives the sanction of inspiration. 

The words quoted begin with this sentence : " The 
Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints to execute 
judgment upon the ungodly." The whole quotation 
gives us nothing new. It is only what in substance is 
vouched for in other parts of the New Testament and 
of the Old Testament as well; so that we cannot say, 
even if Jude quoted from the book of Enoch, that he 
has taken from that book of Enoch anything which was 
false or even anything which had not been revealed be- 
fore. He may have quoted it just as Paul quoted from 
Epimenides, Aratus, and Menander, the Greek poets. 
Paul mentioned Jannes and Jambres. Where did Paul 
get them? Not from the Old Testament, but from 
some floating tradition. But by so quoting the floating 
Jewish tradition, he gives the sanction of inspiration 
to the truth of that tradition to just that extent. So, if 
Jude quoted from a book of Enoch that existed before 
his time, he only took from that book of Enoch the 
germ of truth that it contained and gave the sanction 
of inspiration to that. So, from whatever point of 
view we regard it, I do not think we are warranted in 


maintaining that Jude gives his sanction to an Apocry- 
phal book. He may give his sanction to some statement 
in that Apocryphal book if that book existed at his 
time ; but the most probable conclusion is that the book 
did not exist at his time, but was written after his time, 
and that he quotes simply a floating oral tradition and 
gives to that oral tradition the sanction of inspiration. 

In this reserve which Jude shows in his quotation 
we see the guidance of inspiration. There are a thou- 
sand statements in the book of Enoch which, if Jude 
had quoted them and given his sanction to them, would 
have given us almost conclusive proof that his Epistle 
was not canonical, and that the Holy Spirit had not 
indited it ; but Jude takes nothing that is false, nothing 
that is not vouched for substantially by other portions 
of the Scripture. He is prevented from taking material 
that is not suited to his purpose. He is prevented 
from taking anything that would cast suspicion upon 
his general narrative. 

A final objection to this Epistle is its tone of con- 
tinuous invective. The second chapter of Peter's 
Second Epistle is the nearest parallel in the New Testa- 
ment, and we have seen reason to believe that here 
Peter copied from Jude. Jesus' own denunciation of 
the Pharisees before his death may have served as a 
model both for Jude and for Peter. We must remem- 
ber that God denounces sin, and that he commands his 
ministers, under some circumstances, to denounce it. 
Jude's fearful arraignment of wilful and persistent 
iniquity is no objection to its inspiration, but rather a 
proof. It is a solemn, scorching, withering representa- 
tion of sin, and of God's just judgment against it. If 


we consider the various sins that Jude reprobates, we 
shall see that this Epistle is not without its value to- 
day. There is the same unbelief, the same pride, the 
same sensuality, the same avarice, the same insubordi- 
nation, the same disregard of authority to-day as in 
the times when Jude wrote; and these scathing de- 
nunciations and threatenings are needed to-day as 
warnings to watch and to repent. 

How beautiful it is that, in connection with these 
denunciations, there comes in the most sublime dox- 
ology that is to be found in the whole New Testa- 
ment! Can there be anything more solemn, more 
glorious than those words with which Jude closes? 
:< Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, 
and to present you faultless before the presence of his 
glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our 
Saviour, be glory, majesty, dominion, and power 
through Jesus Christ forever and ever. Amen." It is 
like Jesus' " Woe unto thee, Chorazin ! Woe unto 
thee, Bethsaida ! " followed immediately by his " Come 
unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I 
will give you rest." 

Jude's sublime utterance of praise is called forth by 
the judgments of God. There is a refuge from sin 
and death in God our Saviour. But God also judges 
and punishes iniquity, and his holiness is a matter of 
praise to the saints as well as his love. He will not 
look with favor upon iniquity. Just and true are thy 
ways, O thou King of saints! That seems to be the 
spirit of the Epistle of Jude. 


THE last book of the New Testament has been wisely 
assigned its place at the close of our Bible. It is a 
large and comprehensive view of the conditions of the 
church and the course of history. It brings to our 
minds by anticipation the completion of God's work in 
humanity at large, the expansion of that germ which 
was once for all planted in the earth when, in the 
person of Jesus Christ, salvation was embodied and 
a new humanity created over which sin and death had 
no more dominion forever. In the study of this book 
our thoughts can rise from the beginning of the proc- 
ess to the end of the process, can pass from the begin- 
ning of the conflict to the end of the conflict, in the 
glory of the children of God and the gathering together 
of all the sons of God into one holy and blissful com- 
munity in the presence of Christ, their Lord. These 
are only preliminary remarks, but they intimate to 
some extent the purpose and value of this book which 
we are considering. 

The book of Revelation, or the Apocalypse, as it is 
so often called, is the revelation made to John the apos- 
tle ; for all attempts to show that any other person than 
John was the author are futile in the extreme. Many 
of those who deny John's authorship of the Fourth 
Gospel, and even of the Epistles, are perfectly ready 
to concede that the Apocalypse is the work of John, and 
to hold that it has all the marks of a Johannine author- 


ship. It must, however, have been written at a differ- 
ent time from the Gospel and the Epistles, because 
there are very marked differences between it and those 
other works of the apostle. The Apocalypse was by far 
the earliest writing of the apostle John, and although 
it now constitutes the last book of the New Testament, 
it was by no means the last book that was written. A 
very considerable interval came between the writing 
of the Apocalypse and the writing of the Gospel and 
of the Epistles. The Apocalypse was probably written 
before the destruction of Jerusalem, perhaps in the 
year 68 ; it was written by the apostle John, in Patmos, 
where he had been exiled during the reign of Nero and 
in the very last portion of Nero's reign ; it was written 
under a persecution which had its greatest violence at 
Rome, but the farthest circles of whose waves had 
reached out as far as Asia Minor to Ephesus, where 
John was then in charge of the churches which Paul 
had left to his supervision at his martyrdom. 

John had remained in Jerusalem until the death of 
the apostles Peter and Paul had rendered it necessary 
that some one of apostolic authority should take charge 
of the great and influential churches that were located 
in the western part of Asia. You remember that our 
Lord, at his death, left his mother in the charge of 
John. Tradition relates that he not only took her to 
his own home, but that he remained in Jerusalem, car- 
ing for her as the representative of our Lord, until 
Mary's death ; and this death did not occur until some 
thirty years after the death of our Lord. Then, in 
prospect of the destruction of Jerusalem, and know- 
ing that the city of the Old Testament was soon to be 


obliterated from the face of the earth, John made his 
way to Asia Minor, took up his residence in Ephesus, 
and began to take charge of the churches in that region. 

Soon after this there sprang up the persecution 
under Nero. John was banished to Patmos, and there, 
on_a .certain-Sabbath day, the Spirit of the Lord opened 
to him the future, and prepared him to communicate 
great truths with regard to God's dispensation to the 
churches of Asia, of which he was the superintendent. 

The early origin of the Apocalypse accounts for 
some of the main difficulties with regard to the genu- 
ineness of either the Apocalypse or the Gospel. We find 
that the Apocalypse is written in a style that, in some 
respects, is different from the style of the Gospel and 
of the Epistles. The main differences might be char- 
acterized in this way : The Gospel and the Epistles are 
in simple and flowing Greek. They are not broken, or 
rugged in style. There is a spirit of sympathy and of 
love in them, which you do not find so evidently pres- 
ent in the Apocalypse. In addition to this, you find 
some striking peculiarities of Greek construction in the 
Apocalypse, which are totally absent in the Gospel 
and in the Epistles. There are lapses of grammar. 
The Greek preposition which should govern the geni- 
tive is used occasionally with the nominative instead. 
Any student of Greek will recognize the strangeness of 
this peculiarity, and there are certain other things of 
a similar sort which I need not mention-. I am inclined 
to explain this by saying that, during his early life, the 
apostle John had his dwelling-place in Jerusalem, and 
was accustomed mainly to the use of the Aramaic lan- 
guage. In other words, Greek was not in constant use 


and. therefore, when he goes to the churches of Asia 
Minor and begins to use Greek continually, it is with a 
less perfect familiarity than that which he attains 
afterward; and these lapses of grammar, and these 
peculiarities of style, are due to the fact that he had 
not worked into the Greek language as he afterward 
did. Thirty years afterward, when he had become 
an old man and Greek had become to him, as it were, 
his mother tongue, he uses it with perfect fluency, and 
not only with fluency, but with very remarkable beauty 
and smoothness and eloquence. 

This is probably one of the reasons why the style 
of the Apocalypse differs from the style of the Gospel. 
But there is another reason : When John wrote the 
Apocalypse he was by no means so old as he was when 
he wrote the Gospel and the Epistles. It is true he 
was not young. You cannot call a man of fifty a 
young man. Yet a man of fifty still retains the fresh- 
ness and fervor of his youthful style ; and as you read 
the Apocalypse, I am very sure you will recognize some 
of that fire and vivacity, some of that intensity and 
energy which is indicated in the epithet " Boanerges," 
or " Son of Thunder," which our Lord conferred upon 
him. I suppose there are more thunderings and light- 
nings in the Apocalypse than in any other book of the 
Bible ; and it seems very fitting that Boanerges, the Son 
of Thunder, John the apostle, should have been the 
author of it 

As time went on and the outward difficulties of the 

church were less, as the season of conflict gave place 

to a season of calm, as youth was succeeded by age, it 

seems only natural that John the apostle should have 



become softened. In the Gospel and the Epistles you 
seem to hear again and again repeated the words which 
tradition ascribes to John in his old age, " Little chil- 
dren, love one another." Lov^e_hecame more and more 
the dominant key of his life ; the Gospel and the Epis- 
tles represent this softened nature, this effect of the 
Spirit of God upon him, this maturity of Christian 
character. I do not say that the fiery element, the in- 
tense hatred of wrong is absent from the Gospel and 
from the Epistles. You find it there still, and yet it is 
toned down, as you do not find it toned down in the 

That the Apocalypse was written before the destruc- 
tion of Jerusalem I think is very plain from some 
things in the Apocalypse itself, namely, the fact that 
the Jews are spoken of there as an existing hostile 
power, as they are not in the Gospel and in the Epistles. 
You remember that, toward the close of Paul's life, but 
during Paul's active ministry, Judaizing teachers were 
his most active, persistent, and malignant enemies; 
and the tendency to turn the church of Christ into an 
old-fashioned Jewish synagogue was the evil tendency 
of the day. The Jews were the persistent and malig- 
nant opposers of Christianity. In the Apocalypse you 
find the recognition of that present enmity and hatred, 
as you do not find it in the Gospel and in the Epistles. 
In the Gospel and in the Epistles John refers to the 
Jews as enemies of Christ, it is true, but it is perfectly 
evident that their power for evil has long since passed 

In the Apocalypse, when the apostle is describing 
those two witnesses that were slain and that lay dead 


for a time, he represents them as lying in the streets 
of the city in which our Lord was crucified. If Jeru- 
salem at that time had been destroyed and blotted out 
from the face of the earth, it is hardly possible that 
John would have spoken of it as if it were still exist- 
ing, as if the streets were there, and as if this scene 
which rises before him could yet be conceived of as 
taking place just as he describes it. That mystical 
number, the number 666, which is given by the author 
of the book of Revelation as a sort of key to the 
present application of his prophecy, can be interpreted 
most easily and simply, I think, as an allusion to the 
reigning emperor ; namely, the Emperor Nero. If you 
will take each letter of the words NERON KAISAR, ac- 
cording to its numerical value in Hebrew, you will 
find that these letters make up the precise number 666 
that is recorded; and when John says that five kings 
have already passed away and have had their day, it 
is most natural that these five kings should refer to 
the five who had reigned at Rome: namely, Caesar, 
Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius. Then he 
names the sixth as the one that now is, and that sixth 
one is Nero. Then, to confirm these conclusions, he 
speaks of another that follows who is to continue but 
for a little space ; and Galba, who followed Nero, had 
his place upon the throne, as we know historically, for 
only seven months ; so that the prophecy seems to have 
more light thrown upon it than if we regard it as 
written in the time of Domitian, as some have thought, 
some thirty years afterward. 

It has been argued, in reply, that we do not give 
time for the development, in the churches of Asia, of 


the peculiar tendencies which the apostle John is rep- 
robating in the Apocalypse. Well, I say, evil some- 
times grows very rapidly ; the apostle Paul warned the 
Ephesian elders, even in his day, against these evil 
tendencies ; declaring that, " of themselves even, some 
would rise and would lead away disciples after them " ; 
and it is not improbable that, in a very few years 
after, these tendencies may have become so developed 
as to call for John's warnings and reprobations. You 
remember, in the case of the Galatians, how soon they 
turned from the faith. Evil, I repeat, sometimes grows 
very rapidly; and, as we find these very tendencies 
recognized by the apostle Paul, it is nothing at all im- 
probable that, after Paul had been taken away and 
Peter had suffered martyrdom, these tendencies should 
have very speedily required reprehension and rebuke 
such as we find given to them in the book of Revelation. 
The times in which the book of Revelation was writ- 
ten need to be taken into account, in order that we may 
get a proper apprehension of the object of it. Remem- 
ber that the Jewish nation had reached its climax of 
hostility to God and his truth, its climax of inward 
moral corruption and rottenness. At the time when 
this Apocalypse was written the Jewish nation was 
simply ripe for destruction. It had turned against 
Christ, and it had turned against God. The high- 
priesthood was openly sold in the market for money; 
high priest after high priest obtained his office_hy 
bribery; and, having obtained his office, signalized his 
holding of it by the most shameful wickedness of every 
kind. The persecution of Christians was a common 
thing. Christians came at last to be excluded from the 


courts of the temple, and the Jews became enemies of 
all that was good. All idea that they were holy peo- 
ple, made for the service of God, seemed to pass from 
their mind; they became an apostate church, that re- 
mained only to call down upon it the judgments of God. 

On the other hand, the Roman Empire was just now 
in a condition equally corrupt, and equally fit for divine 
retribution. The Romans for centuries had, by war 
and conquest, enslaved the world and carried tens of 
thousands of captives to Italy, there to be " hewers of 
wood and drawers of water " ; so that the whole fabric 
of the Roman commonwealth rested upon a vast basis 
of human slavery, the atrociousness and monstrosity 
of which passes belief. The emperors became so in- 
flated with pride of power that they set themselves up 
in the place of God himself; they were objects of 
worship to their subjects; altars were set up, upon 
which sacrifices were offered to them as gods, in every 
great city of the Roman Empire. 

And Nero was upon the throne at this time. Nero 
was a sort of concentrated essence of everything that 
is depraved and base in human history. He murdered 
his mother ; he murdered his brothers ; he murdered his 
wives. His history was stained by every lust and 
every crime in the catalogue; and now he began the 
persecution of Christians. He set fire to Rome, and, 
finding that public reprobation followed the act, he 
laid the blame of it upon the Christians, wound multi- 
tudes of them with linen bandages, loaded them with 
wax, and set them up in his garden at night as torches 
to burn, in order that his great public gatherings might 
be graced by the spectacle. That was Nero one of 


the most cold-blooded and horrible examples of crime 
that has ever defaced the history of the world and 
in Nero we have the beginning of a long line of per- 
secutions of the Christian church. 

John writes at the beginning of this tremendous 
conflict between heathen power on the one hand and 
Christian faith on the other, and just upon the verge 
of that tremendous visitation of God by which Jeru- 
salem was swept away from the face of the earth. In 
view of these calamities that were to sweep away the 
Jewish temple and the old order of worship, and in 
view of the various persecutions and troubles that 
might come upon them as individuals and as churches, 
Christians needed to be strengthened with the thought 
that God was in the heavens, that the Lord reigned, 
that he saw the end from the beginning, that the same 
hands that were nailed to the cross held now the reins 
of power, and that all things would work together 
for good to them that love God. To confirm the 
faith of the people of God in view of a visitation of 
Providence, such probably as has never been seen in 
the history of the world, and to make them sure that 
God would give victory to his saints at last, this was 
the great end for which the Apocalypse was written. 

With regard to the interpretation of the Apocalypse, 
there is great diversity of opinion. There have been 
hundreds of interpreters, and not many of them agree. 
There are, first of all, the Prseterists, or those who 
believe that everything in the Apocalypse had taken 
place, or was to take place in a very few years after 
the death of the apostles; there are, secondly, the 
Futurists, or those who hold that none has yet taken 


place, but that all are to take place far-off in the future ; 
and then, thirdly, there are the Continuists, or those 
who hold that the Apocalypse is a continuous historical 
narrative, an unfolding of the history of the church of 
God from the beginning to the end. 

Let me give you what I think to be the key to it 
all. The key to it all is found in the eschatological, 
apocalyptic discourse of our Lord Jesus Christ himself 
just before his death, the discourse in which he refers 
to the destruction of Jerusalem, but in which his ac- 
count of the destruction of Jerusalem passes into an 
account of the end of the world. Prophecy is destitute 
of perspective. It does not take account of now and 
then, but presents before us a series of events of which 
the one passes into the other, with no clear dividing 
line between this and that. You have seen the views of 
a stereopticon, and you know how, as you are looking 
upon one view, another seems to be appearing ; the first 
merges into the second; the first has gone, and the 
second is here ; but you can never tell the precise point 
where the one ceases and the other begins. Just so, 
as our Lord is seated upon the Mount of Olives oppo- 
site Jerusalem, there passes before him, like a moving 
panorama, the terrible scenes that were to be witnessed 
only a few years after his death, in the destruction of 
Jerusalem. He sees mothers that are massacring and 
devouring their own children. He sees hundreds of 
thousands put to the sword. All these terrible scenes 
are passing before him, and he depicts them ; but, be- 
hold, as he depicts this divine judgment so soon to 
be witnessed, the panorama becomes transparent, the 
present merges into the future, and, before you know 


it, he is describing the judgment of the great day; the 
Lord is bringing all the nations of the earth before 
him and separating them, as sheep from the goats. No 
one can tell where the description of the destruction of 
Jerusalem ends, and where the description of the end 
of the world begins. 

This eschatological, apocalyptic discourse of Jesus 
Christ furnishes the key by which we are to interpret 
the book of Revelation. As all the Epistles of Paul 
may be called only an inspired commentary upon 
Christ's last discourse to his disciples in the Gospel ac- 
cording- to John, just so the whole book of Revelation 
may be called nothing but an inspired commentary upon 
Christ's apocalyptic discourse before he suffered. No- 
tice two or three things with regard to Christ's dis- 
course. The first is this, that it is vain to say that our 
Lord Jesus was describing there simply things that 
were taking place in his generation. It is perfectly 
plain that, although he begins with describing things 
that are taking place in his generation, he does not end 
there. He does not end with anything short of the 
end of the world; and so I think that our Lord's dis- 
course furnishes a reason why we should completely 
give up the Praeterist interpretation of the book of 
Revelation, which regards it as only a description of 
things that took place in the day of the apostles. It 
doubtless refers to some such things, but that is not 
the end of it. There is much more than that. 

Again, if we take our Lord's discourse for a guide, 
we must equally throw out the view that the book of 
Revelation all belongs to the future. Our Lord's dis- 
course certainly spoke of things that were then present 


or were going to be within a few years after his death. 
We cannot accept the interpretation of the book which 
makes it all refer to things that have none of them yet 
happened; but then, on the other hand, it is equally 
true that the continuous or historical method has very 
much against it, when we look at what Christ has said 
in his discourse about the destruction of Jerusalem and 
the end of the world. 

Our Lord does not attempt to fill up all the inter- 
vals between the destruction of Jerusalem and the end 
of the world. I infer that those who think we have, in 
the book of Revelation, a complete map of all the 
events that were to take place from the destruction of 
Jerusalem to the end of the world must be mistaken. 
Prophecy passes over vast intervals, and sometimes 
gives no account of the incidents that are in them. It 
may be, therefore, that large intervals are passed over 
in the book of Revelation, and that no account is taken 
of them. 

I think I hear you say : " If you throw out all the 
interpretations, pray, what interpretations have you 
left?." Well, I say I have them all left; I mean that 
I have all the good in them left; and the interpreta- 
tion which I would propose is substantially this: We 
have in the book of Revelation, as we have in the dis- 
course of Christ, an exhibition of principles rather than 
of events, of principles illustrated here and there by 
events, but without intention to give us a continuous 
map of the whole. My general idea of the interpreta- 
tion of the book of Revelation, then, regards it as an 
exhibition of principles. 

As our Lord speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem 


and the visitation of punishment upon his opposers, he 
elucidates principles of God's retributory judgment, 
which apply to the end of the world as well; the de- 
struction of Jerusalem and the end of the world are 
both mentioned, simply as illustrating those principles. 
So we have great principles laid down in the book of 
Revelation, together with isolated illustrations of them. 

Let us now take up the book of Revelation a little 
more in detail. We have, first of all, the prologue, in 
which the greatness and glory of Christ are set before 
us. The foundation of our hope is the fact that our 
Lord reigns, that he is a risen Saviour, that he has the 
keys of hell and of death, that he supervises his 
churches, that he walks in the midst of the golden can- 
dlesticks. This truth serves as the foundation of all 
that comes after, whether of doctrine or of duty. 

There follows a description of the church which 
Christ is to supervise, with all its infirmities, with all 
its weaknesses, with all its dangers, yet with the life 
of God in it. It is, notwithstanding, a sevenfold lamp 
that is set up to burn here in the world. 

After this we have a sort of summary, in which 
heaven is opened; there is a book before the throne; 
and that book or roll is sealed; no one can open the 
seal, until at last the Lion of the tribe of Judah prevails 
to open the seal, and all heaven rejoices. 

I call this the summary of everything that is to 
come. The meaning of it is just this : The book is the 
book of God's decrees. That book no one can open ; 
that is, no one can understand, except the Saviour him- 
self, the Lamb of God, who executes these decrees 
in human history. He can understand and explain, 


because he has himself formed the decree and he him- 
self will execute it. So, one after another, he opens the 
seals; that is, he unrolls the book, breaking one seal 
after another as he unrolls it; and as he unrolls it he 
reads or explains it by the revelation that he gives to 
the apostle. 

You remember how the revelations that follow suc- 
ceed one another. First, the seven seals, then the 
seven trumpets, and finally the seven vials, or bowls. 
Do these represent successive periods of human history, 
or are they simply different representations of the same 
events ? 

I am inclined to this latter view, and for the reason 
which I intimated only a few moments ago. We have 
no sufficient reason for believing that, in the book of 
Revelation we have a continuous account of all the 
main events between the time of the apostles and the 
end of the world. 

I am rather inclined to believe that we have here 
representations of the great future which are parallel 
to one another. In other words, the seven trumpets 
are parallel, are the same things represented in a differ- 
ent way, with the seven seals ; and the seven vials are 
the same things, represented in a still different way, 
as the seven trumpets and seven seals. 

The twentieth chapter, which intervenes, is a won- 
der in the book. In this chapter the first resurrection 
is distinguished from the second resurrection, as spirit- 
ual resurrection is distinguished from literal resurrec- 
tion. In other words, in the first resurrection we have 
described a mighty movement of the Spirit of God in 
his people all over the world, a movement so mighty 


that it would seem as if the prophets of old had risen 
again to testify for their Lord, while, at the same time 
the opposing spirit of enmity and unbelief has itself 
a day of rest. In other words, the millennium that is 
spoken of is a millennium that precedes, not follows, 
the second coming of Christ. My view is the post- 
millennial view, rather than the premillennial view. 
Christ comes at the end of the millennium. He comes 
literally at the end of 4 the millennium instead of at its 
beginning, because the second coming of Christ is coin- 
cident with, and cannot be separated from, the resur- 
rection and the general judgment. He is to come the 
second time to judge the earth. He is to come the 
second time unto salvation. No interval of a thousand 
years is intimated between the coming of Christ on the 
one hand and the resurrection of the wicked and the 
general judgment on the other. The first resurrection 
is spiritual, and now is. The saints who have been 
raised from the death of trespasses and sin shall have 
their last conflict with the powers of darkness, but 
the conflict shall end in victory. The second and literal 
resurrection will follow, when Christ comes in the 
clouds of heaven to judge the earth. The book of 
Revelation ends with those wonderful chapters which 
depict the final rest and glory of the people of God. 

Let us be thankful for such a book as this. Our 
hearts need it. Human beings in the midst of persecu- 
tion and trial and trouble, which are at times unspeak- 
able, need some assurance that there is to be an end of 
these things. Otherwise human nature would be for- 
ever longing, but never blest. Our nature would never 
reach the end for which it aspires. God has not left us 


to live in this world forever dissatisfied; he therefore 
reveals to us, in the midst of the conflicts of the world, 
that these conflicts are to have an end, and that the 
Lord is to come, for the rewarding of his saints and 
for the punishment of the ungodly. 

In the twenty-first and twenty-second chapters of 
the book of Revelation we have heaven coming down 
to earth. We have the complete manifestation of God. 
We have the final perfection of man, not only individu- 
ally but collectively. God does not save men simply 
for themselves. He does not take me and make me a 
member of his kingdom, as the last end he has in view. 
No, the last end that he has in view is to gather to- 
gether a great company of redeemed and holy souls, 
in which, in manifold ways, he shall show forth his 
glory. He will show the power of his grace in multi- 
tudes of individuals, bound together in an intimacy of 
communion, in a closeness of intercourse, in a rapture 
of worship and fellowship, of which all we see in this 
world is only the foretaste and symbol. We need such 
a revelation as this to lift us up in our times of dark- 
ness and trial. Thank God, the need is wonderfully 
supplied ; it is supplied by the revelation of Jesus 
Christ; for it is Christ alone around whom all these 
glories circle and center. 

John's Apocalypse and John's Gospel agree together 
in their representations of the " Word of God." The 
phrase " Word of God," as applied to Christ, is pecu- 
liar to the Apocalypse and to the Gospel and the First 
Epistle of John. You find it nowhere else in the New 
Testament, but you do find it here. Christ is God re- 
vealed. Christ is God brought down to our human 


comprehension, and engaged in the work of our salva- 
tion. In John's vision of the holy city, New Jeru- 
salem, " the lamp thereof is the Lamb." Not " the 
light," as it was in our old version, but " the lamp." 
What is the difference between a light and a lamp? 
Why, light is something universally diffused, some- 
thing indefinite. You see by it, but you cannot see it. 
A lamp is a light-bearer. A lamp is the narrowing 
down, the focusing of light, so that in the lamp the 
light becomes definite and visible. Have you ever 
thought you were going to see God, the Father, in the 
New Jerusalem, as separate from Christ, the Son? I 
do not think you will. " He that hath seen me hath 
seen the Father," says Christ. In Christ we have nar- 
rowed down and concentrated and made definite and 
visible the Godhead itself. This representation of 
John's Apocalypse is just the same as the representa- 
tion of John's Gospel. " No man hath seen God at any 
time," and no man ever will ; but " the only begotten 
Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath de- 
clared him " ; and he will declare him to his saints for- 
ever; so that the Lamb shall be the Lamp of the 
heavenly city ; and in Christ we shall see the perfected 
glory of God. May all who read these lectures " enter 
in by the gates into the city " from which there is no 
more going out forever; and in the presence of God 
and of the Lamb, may we see directly and perfectly 
what we have seen here only in an indirect and imper- 
fect way. Then we shall see as we are seen, and know 
as we are known ; and, seeing Christ our Saviour as he 
is, we shall at last be like him. 









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