Imatges de pàgina

Inner*; and that this persuasion had

pro duced, as it well might, much agitation in the church. The apostle therefore now writes, amongst other purposes, to quiet this alarm, and to rectify the misconstruction that had been put upon his words :-Now we beseech you, brethen, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” If the allusion which we contend for be admitted, namely, if it be admitted, that the passage in the second epistle relates to the passage in the first, it amounts to a considerable proof of the genuineness of both epistles. I have no conception, because I know no example, of such a device in a forgery, as first to frame an ambiguous passage in a letter, then to represent the persons to whom the letter is addressed as mistaking the meaning of the passage, and lastly, to write a second letter in order to correct this mistake.

I have said that this argument arises out of the text, if the allusion be admitted : for I am not ignorant that many expositors understand the passage in the second epistle, as referring to some forged letters, which had been produced in St. Paul's name, and in which the apostle had been made to say

* 'OTI EYSOTYXEV, nempe hoc anno, says Grotius, EVEGTY/HEY hic dicitur de re præsenti, ut Rom. viii. 38. 1 Cor. iii. 22: Gal. i. 4. Heb. ix. 9.

that the coming of Christ was then at hand. In defence, however, of the explanation which we propose, the reader is desired to observe,

1. The strong fact, that there exists a passage in the first epistle, to which that in the second is capable of being referred, i. e. which accounts for the error the writer is solicitous to remove. Had no other epistle than the second been extant, and had it under these circumstances come to be considered, whether the text before us related to a forged epistle or to some misconstruction of a true one, many conjectures and many probabilities might have been admitted in the inquiry which can have little weight when an epistle is produced, containing the very sort of passage we were seeking, that is, a passage liable to the misinterpretation which the apostle protests against.

2. That the clause which introduces the passage in the second epistle bears a particular affinity to what is found in the passage cited from the first epistle. The clause is this: “ We beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him.Now in the first epistle the description of the coming of Christ is accompanied with the mention of this very circumstance of his saints being collected round him. 66 The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air." 1 Thess. chap. iv. 16, 17. This I suppose to be the “ gathering together unto him” intended in the second epistle : and that the author, when he used these words, retained in his thoughts what he had written on the subject before.

3. The second epistle is written in the joint name of Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus, and it cautions the Thessalonians against being misled "

by letter as from us” (ws di huaw). Do not these words, di nuov, appro, priate the reference to some writing which bore the name of these three teachers? Now this circumstance, which is a very close ono, belongs to the epistle at present in our hands; for the epistle which we call the First Epistle to the Thessalonians contains these names in its superscription.

4. The words in the original, as far as they are material to be stated, are these: EIS TO un ταχεως σαλευθηναι υμας απο τε νοος, μητε θροεισθαι, μητε

πνεύματος, μήτε

δια λογα, μητε δε επιστολης, ως δι' ημων, ως οτι ενεστηκεν η ημερα T8 Xgory. Under the weight of the preceding observations may not the words


dice λογα, μητε δι επιστολης, ως δι' ημων, be construed to signify quasi nos quid tale aut dixerimus aut scripserimus*, intimating that their words had been mistaken, and that they had in truth said or written no such thing?

* Should a contrary interpretation be preferred, I do not think that it implies the conclusion that a false epistle had then been published in the apostle's name. It will completely satisfy the allusion in the text to allow, that some one or other at Thessalonica had pretended to have been told by St. Paul and his companions, or to have seen a letter from them, in which they had said, that the day of Christ was at hand. In like manner as Acts, xv. 1. 24. it is recorded that some had pretended to have received instructions from the church at Jerusalem, which had not been received “

whom they gave no such commandment." And thus Dr. Benson intrepreted the passage μητε θροεισθαι, μητε δια πνευματος, μητε δια λογα, MITE di' STIGTOMIS, wis do'nuwe, “nor be dismayed by any rere. lation, or discourse, ur «pistle, wbich any one shall pretend to have heard or received from us."






From the third verse of the first chapter,

as I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus when I went into Macedonia," it is evident that this epistle was written soon after St. Paul had gone to Macedonia from Ephe

Dr. Benson fixes its date to the time 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

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