« ForrigeFortsæt »
“ LUKE, the beloved physician." Col. iv. 14. .
Saint Luke, by profession a physician, was a native of Antioch in Syria, where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians, and whence St. Paul set out on his several journeys to convert the heathen, or Gentiles. Luke is supposed to have been himself descended from Gentile parents, and to have become a proselyte to the tenets of Judaism in early life, from which he was converted to Christianity, probably by St. Paul, whose companion we know him to have become, and to have continued down to the close of the scripture history of that apostle. He appears, indeed, to have stood as nearly as possible in the same relation to St. Paul that Mark did to St. Peter. Chrysostom, no incompetent critic, discovers in St. Mark's Gospel the concise style of St. Peter, and in Luke's the more diffuse diction of St. Paul; while in the synopsis ascribed to Athanasius it is expressly affirmed, that “the Gospel of Luke was dictated by the apostle Paul, and written and published by the blessed apostle and physician Luke.'
To St. Luke we are indebted for the preservation of the hymns of the blessed Virgin, of Zacharias, and of Simeon, as well as for a narrative of some miracles and parables of our Lord, not recorded by the other Evangelists. The Gospel of St. Luke is frequently referred to by the apostolic Fathers. * The emi
* The apostolic Fathers are five in number; viz. 1. BARNABAS, the fellow-labourer of Paul, who was mistaken for
Jupiter at Lystra in Lycaonia, and who is expressly called an apostle by St. Luke, in his account of that transaction. He wrote an Epistle which was held in great esteem by the ancient Christians, and which is still extant.
nently learned and pious Origen, who was born in Egypt A. D. 184, and died about the year 254, describes “ the Gospel according to St. Luke" as that “published for the sake of the (Greek) Gentile con. verts, and commended by St. Paul.” These testimonies, like those to the genuineness and authenticity of the other three Gospels, and the rest of the canon of the New Testament, are confirmed by an unbroken series of writers, of all sects and denominations, from the apostolic age to the present.
“ That disciple whom Jesus loved.” John, xxi. 7.
Saint John, the evangelist and apostle, was the son of Zebedee, a fisherman of Bethsaida, a town on the sea of Galilee. His mother's name was Salome, and James the elder was his brother. His father, though a fisherman, seems to have been in good circumstances, for we read that he was the owner of a vessel, and had hired servants. John and his brother Jamės, though not taught, like St. Paul, in the schools of the Pharisees, were doubtless well acquainted with the scriptures of the Old Testament, having not only read them, but heard them publicly explained in the synagogues. In common with the other Jews they entertained the expectation of the Messiah, and that his kingdom was to be a temporal one.
2. Clement, Bishop of Rome, also a fellow-workman of Paul, was the
author of an Epistle, which has come down to us in an imperfect
state. 3. Hermas, mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans : he
wrote a book in Greek, called the Shepherd, of which we have a
Latin version still. 4. IGNATIUS, Bishop of Antioch, who suffered martyrdom, A. D. 107. ;
that is, 74 years after the crucifixion of our Lord, and about seven years after the death of St. John. He left several Epistles which
are still extant. Lastly, POLYCARP, an immediate disciple of St. John, by whom he
was appointed bishop (or “ angel ") of the church in Smyrna. He suffered martyrdom about the year 165. Of the various writings which he is recorded to have left, only one Epistle now remains.
It is supposed that Saint John was one of the two disciples of John the Baptist, (the other, we know, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother,) who followed and abode with Jesus when John Baptist bore witness to Him that He was the Lamb of God.
Saint John has not himself recorded his call to the apostleship; but it took place, as we learn from each of the other three evangelists, when he and his brother were fishing upon the sea of Galilee. St. Mark, in enumerating the names of the twelve apostles, when he comes to James and John, adds that our Lord “surnamed them Boanerges, which is the sons of thunder.” This is considered as prophetically representing the boldness, resolution, and courage, with which they were, through zeal and love, openly to declare the truths of the Gospel, and suffer persecu. tion for its sake. John seems to have been the youngest of the apostles; probably about our Saviour's own age of thirty, at the commencement of his ministry, though some have supposed him to have been several years younger. He was of a temper and disposition singularly mild, attaching, and affectionate ; at least, gentleness, confiding tenderness, and kindli. ness, united with the constancy and fortitude which generally belong to characters of that simple and profound nature, are the qualities pre-eminently impressed upon his conduct and his writings. He was peculiarly the object of our Lord's regard and confi. dence, so that we see him characterised as the dis
ciple whom Jesus loved. Hence, from the familiar intercourse between them, we find St. John present at several scenes to which most of the other disciples were not admitted. He was eye-witness, in company with only Peter and James, to the raising of the daughter of Jairus from the dead. The same three apostles were alone permitted to behold the glorious majesty of Christ when he was transfigured on the mount, and the voice from heaven proclaimed him the beloved Son of God; and they also were the sole spectators of those bitter agonies which he sustained in great humility in the garden of Gethsemane, when his soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death, and he prayed that, if it were possible, the cup might pass from him, but nevertheless resigned himself wholly to the Father's will. John was the only apostle who followed Christ to the place of his crucifixion, where he received his dying charge respecting Mary. He was also present at the several appearances of our Saviour after his resurrection, and has solemnly recorded his testimony to the truth of that stupendous miracle ; and these circumstances, together with the habitual presence of the mother of Christ, who became an inmate of his home, qualified him better than any other evangelist to give a circumstantial and authentic history of the life of Christ, which he has done accordingly.
After the effusion of the Holy Spirit, who was to guide the apostles “ into all truth, and teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance whatsoever Christ had said unto them,” John is be. lieved to have remained at Jerusalem, and to have exercised his apostleship among those of the circumcision with the eminent success which we shall
find recorded by Saint Luke in the Acts of the Apostles.
From uninspired ecclesiastical history, we learn that, on the death of Mary the mother of Christ, about fifteen years after the crucifixion, St. John proceeded to Asia Minor, where he founded and presided over seven churches, in as many cities, but resided chiefly at Ephesus. Thence he was banished to Patmos, a lonely and barren islet of the Ægean, where they still point out a grotto in a rock beside the church of the Apocalypse, as the asylum of St. John during his exile. Here he wrote the book placed last in our Bibles, and called the Revelation. The death of the persecuting emperor Domitian, and the indulgence of his successor Nerva towards the Christians, whom he caused to be restored to their homes, occasioned the return of St. John, after about a year's exile, to Ephesus, where he continued for the remainder of his life. It was during this latter period that he wrote his Gospel and Epistles, and here also he died, about the hundredth year of his age, in the year of Christ 100, and the third year of the emperor Trajan's reign.
The general design of St. John, in common with the rest of the evangelists, is, as he himself assures us, to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ of God, and that, believing, we may have life through his name ; but besides this there were, as we are informed by Irenæus and other ancient ecclesiastical writers, two especial motives which induced St. John to compose his Gospel : one, that he might refute the errors and extirpate the heresies sown in the minds of men by Cerinthus, and, some time before, by those called Nicolaitans, whose deeds are