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of St. Paul's journey recorded in the beginning of the twentieth chapter of the Acts : “ And after the uproar (excited by Demetrius at Ephesus) was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.” And in this opinion Dr. Benson is followed by Michaelis, as he was preceded by the greater part of the commentators who have considered the question. There is, however, one objection to the hypothesis, which these learned men appear to me to have overlooked ; and it is no other than this, that the superscription of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians seems to prove, that at the time St. Paul is supposed by them to have written this epistle to Timothy, Timothy in truth was with St. Paul in Macedonia. Paul, as it is related in the Acts, left Ephesus “ for to go into Macedonia." When he had got into Macedonia he wrote his Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Concerning this point there exists little variety of opinion. It is plainly indicated by the contents of the epistle. It is also strongly implied that the epistle was written soon after the apostle's arrival in Macedonia ; for he begins his letter by a train of reflection, referring to his persecutions in Asia as to recent transactions, as to dangers from which he had lately been delivered. But in the salutation with which the epistle opens, Timothy was joined with St. Paul, and consequently could not at that time be “ left behind at Ephesus. And as to the only solution of the difficulty which can be thought of, viz. that Timothy, though he was left behind at Ephesus upon St. Paul's departure from Asia, yet might follow him so soon after as to come up with the apostle in Macedonia, before he
wrote his epistle to the Corinthians ; that supposition is inconsistent with the terms and tenor of the epistle throughout : for the writer speaks uniformly of his intention to return to Timothy at Ephesus, and not of his expecting Timothy to come to him in Macedonia : “ These things write I unto thee hoping to come unto thee shortly; but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself.” Ch. iii. 14, 15. “ Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." Ch. iv. 13.
Since, therefore, the leaving of Timothy behind at Ephesus, when Paul went into Macedonia, suits not with any journey into Macedonia recorded in the Acts, I concur with Bishop Pearson in placing the date of this epistle, and the journey referred to in it, at a period subsequent to St. Paul's first imprisonment at Rome, and consequently subsequent to the æra up to which the Acts of the Apostles brings his history. The only difficulty which attends our opinion is, that St. Paul must, according to us, have come to Ephesus after his liberation at Rome, contrary as it should seem to what he foretold to the Ephesian elders, " that they should see his face no more.” And it is to save the infallibility of this prediction, and for no other reason of weight, that an earlier date is assigned to this epistle. The prediction itself, however, when considered in connexion with the circumstances under which it was delivered, does not seem to demand so much anxiety. The words in question are found in the twenty-fifth verse of the twentieth chapter of the Acts: “And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone
preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. In the twenty-second and twenty-third verses of the same chapter, i. e. two verses before, the apostle makes this declaration : “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there : save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.” This “ witnessing of the Holy Ghost” was undoubtedly prophetic and supernatural. But it went no farther than to foretell that bonds and afflictions awaited him. And I can very well conceive, that this might be all which was communicated to the apostle by extraordinary revelation, and that the rest was the conclusion of his own mind, the desponding inference which he drew from strong and repeated intimations of approaching danger. And the expression “I know,” which St. Paul here uses, does not, perhaps, when applied to future events affecting himself, convey an assertion so positive and absolute as we may at first sight apprehend. In the first chapter of the epistle to the Philippians and the twenty-fifth verse, “ I know,” says he, “ that I shall abide and continue with you all, for your furtherance and joy of faith." Notwithstanding this strong declaration, in the second chapter and the twenty-third verse of this same epistle, and speaking also of the very same event, he is content to use a language of some doubt and uncertainty : “ Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with nie. But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.” And a few verses preceding these, he not only seems to doubt of his safety, but almost to de
spair ; to contemplate the possibility at least of his condemnation and martyrdom : “ Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.”
But can we show that St. Paul visited Ephesus after his liberation at Rome? or rather, can we collect any
hints from his other letters which make it probable that he did ? If we can, then we have a coincidence ; if we cannot, we have only an unauthorised supposition, to which the exigency of the case compels us to resort. Now, for this purpose, let us examine the Epistle to the Philippians and the Epistle to Philemon. These two epistles purport to be written whilst St. Paul was yet a prisoner at Rome. To the Philippians he writes as follows: “I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.” To Philemon, who was a Colossian, he gives this direction: “But withal, prepare me also a lodging, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.” An inspection of the map will show us that Colosse was a city of the Lesser Asia, lying eastward, and at no great distance from Ephesus. Philippi was on the other, i. e. the western side of the Ægean Sea. If the apostle executed his purpose ; if, in pursuance of the intention expressed in his letter to Philemon, he came to Colosse soon after he was set at liberty at Rome, it is very improbable that he would omit to visit Ephesus, which lay so near to it, and where he had spent three years of his ministry. As he was also under a promise to the church of Philippi to see them “shortly;" if he passed from Colosse to Philippi, or from Philippi to Colosse, he could hardly avoid taking Ephesus in his way.
No. II. Chap. v. 9. “Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years
old.” This accords with the account delivered in the sixth chapter of the Acts. “ And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.” It appears that from the first formation of the Christian church, provision was made out of the public funds of the society for the indigent widows who belonged to it. The history, we have seen, distinctly records the existence of such an institution at Jerusalem, a few years after our Lord's ascension, and is led to the mention of it very incidentally, viz. by a dispute, of which it was the occasion, and which produced important consequences to the Christian community. The epistle, without being suspected of borrowing from the history, refers, briefly indeed, but decisively, to a similar establishment, subsisting some years afterwards at Ephesus. This agreement indicates that both writings were founded upon real circumstances.
But, in this article, the material thing to be noticed is the mode of expression : “ Let not a widow be taken into the number.”—No previous account or explanation is given, to which these words, « into the number," can refer; but the direction comes concisely and unpreparedly. “ Let not a widow be taken into the number.” Now this is the way in