Imágenes de páginas

letter of commendation given to Phoebe (eirioToXi) a-varariKri) : so Semlcr, Renan, Hausrath (iii. 260), Farrar {St. Paul, chap, xxxvii.), Holtzmann {End. pp. 242-46), Weiss, Weizsiicker, McGiffert, and Adeney (BI, pp. 379, 380).1 Paul would naturally introduce a person to a circle with which he already possessed some influence. The value of the commendation would mainly consist in the writer's title to respect and obedience from those to whom he spoke, with whom he was on intimate terms.

How this note became incorporated in Romans, it is only possible to conjecture. It may have been because copies of both, as well as the originals, were written at the same time and from the same place, that the later editors of the Pauline literature added them together. Perhaps PhoebS, its bearer, ultimately arrived with it (the original or a copy) in Rome. In any case the only way of preserving a note so unimportant in itself was to put it in the wake of a larger letter, particularly as the note lacked any formal address. Romans was apparently edited—to judge from its textual condition—before ever it reached the Canon; and in the two closing chapters especially it is possible to detect different textual strata, even although the process by which they were deposited is now largely obscure. The note may have been put in its present place at the end of Romans, since in the Muratorian Canon that epistle octupied the last place among the Pauline epistles to the churches, as afterwards in Tertullian's and Cyprian's lists (Zahn, OK, ii. p. 344). Probably, too, in a later age the note was appended to Romans because it contained the names of several Christians (like Ampliatus) who had become prominent figures in the Roman church subsequently to the original period of the letter. Their traditional connection with Rome and the obscurity of this note's original destination—(which was natural in an epistle of commendation)—combined to further its incorporation with the large Roman epistle.

in the footsteps of the apostle. Asiatics constantly betook themselves to the capital, and it is therefore far from remarkable that (6) the names mentioned here have almost all been found in the Roman Corpus Inscriptionum. Most of them are quite common throughout the Koman world, and half are found in the Greek Corpus Inscriptionum for Asia Minor. So far as any weight can be attached to the importance of names like Prisca, Amplias, Nereus, and Apelles, in the subsequent history of early Christianity in Rome, it is really irrelevant to the present question. These persons may have, and probably did, come to Rome at some later stage; but it is far from a valid inference that because they afterwards lived in the capital, they must have been there when Paul wrote "Romans." Finally, it may be asked how these hypothetical Christians resident at Rome had disappeared when their beloved friend Paul, some years later, wrote his prison-epistles from the capital? He mentions none of them. Had their nomadic habits again seized and scattered them? It is scarcely necessary to do more than mention Zahn's idea that Paul did not actually know all these Christians ; some he was acquainted with, and from them he got information about the rest! Nor is it logical to argue that because Paul was a wanderer, his fellow-workers were likely to be wanderers also.

i Also, 0. Holtzmann (NT Zeitgesch, p. 132); von Soden (BBi, i. p. 812); Dr. Cone, Paul the Man, the Missionary, and the Teacher, p. 12 ff.; Hsupt (SK, 1900, pp. 147, 148, in his review of Zahn); and at an earlier date, Laurent (pp. 32-38). The Ephesian destination of Rom 16 is farther accepted by Deissmann and Bacon (INT, pp. 101-103).

[55-56 A.D.]


This letter, written by Paul as an introduction for Phoebe, is not to be compared of course with tho great epistles to the Galatian and Corinthian churches. It gives neither instructions nor exhortations, as they do. Nor does it to the same extent, therefore, reveal conditions and events in the inner life of the church; even the short address appended to it does not supply us with any information in this direction. But in the very names, and in their grouping, as well as in the short notes of a personal and historical nature, it still furnishes us with very valuable knowledge. ... To the introductory recommendation of Phoebe' is appended, in the form of greetings, the list of those persons to whom she was to be introduced, and the note is thus of the nature of an attestation, which she could lay before the individuals, because it was expressly addressed to them. For the rest, a short exhortation is added, which was probably appended to the letter. It contains, indeed, several features, both in thought and language, that are unusual with Paul. Yet this is hardly more marked here than in the short additions that elsewhere close the Pauline letters, written in the apostlo's own hand, and all distinguished by concise thoughts and figures, abrupt sentences, and peculiar words. — Wcizsackcr.

[Ro le1""

1-2 Introduction for Phoebe. 3-16 Greetings to Asiatic Christians. 17-20] Warning and farewell.


1 I Commend to you our sister Phoebe who ministers to the Com

2 iminity at Kenehreae: receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of saints, and give her whatever help she may require at your hands; truly she has proved herself a helper to many, as well as to myself.

3 Salute Prisca and Aquila my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus,

4 they laid down their own necks for my life;

to whom not only I but also all the Communities of the Gentiles
give thanks:

5 also the community at their house.
Salute Epaenetus my beloved,

he is the firstfruits of Asia for Christ.

6 Salute Mary,

she laboured actively for you.

7 Salute Andronikus and Junias my kinsmen and fellow-prisoners;

they are men of note among the apostles,
also they were in Christ before me.

8 Salute Ampliatns, my beloved in the Lord.

9 Salute Urbanus, our fellow-worker in Christ, and Stachys my


10 Salute Apelles, that genuine character in Christ.
Salute those who belong to the household of Aristobulus.

11 Salute Herodion my kinsman.

Salute those of Narcissus' household who are in the Lord.

12 Salute Tryphaena and Tryphosa who labour in the Lord. Salute Persis the beloved,

she laboured actively in the Lord.

13 Salute Eufus, that choice character in Christ,

also her who is his mother and mine.

14 Salute Asynkritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas,

also the brothers who are with them.

15 Salute Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas,

also the saints who are with them.

16 Salute one another with a saints' kiss.

All the Communities of Christ salute you.

17 Now I appeal to you, brothers, look to those who are creating the dissensions and the hindrances among you, contrary to the doctrine which you

18 have learned; turn away from them. Such people serve not our Lord Jesus Christ but their own belly, and by fair and flattering speech they

19 beguile the hearts of the unsuspecting. Your obedience han reached the ears of all. I rejoice then over you; but I would have

20 you expert in what is good, and guileless in what is evil. Soon shall the God of peace trample Satan beneath your feet.

The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.


The Colossian church was Pauline only (1*- 8 2l) in an indirect sense, but Paul's authority to address these Christians seems to have been unquestioned, and the epistle contains evidence (42_ls) of a warm, mutual interest. The danger which he sought to combat lay in the pretensions (24) made by several members, under Jewish influences, to a higher Christian life. These involved ritual and ascetic practices, which in turn derived their motives and justification from certain speculative and theosophic principles, e.g. the mediation and mission of angels, and a cosmical dualism. To reach the practical question Paul strikes at the theory, exposing the uselessness and danger of such habits by a proof that Christ is absolutely sufficient as a redeeming power. The Christology1 is an advance in some respects upon the previous epistles (cp. Ro 113G and Col llc). But the advance is conditioned by the special circumstances of the Colossian church, and is not cut off from the genuinely Pauline basis. Paul adopts and adapts certain ideas and phrases2 to reiterate the absolute adequacy and efficacy of Christ in his organic relation to the church and the world alike. Faith in him requires no outside philosophy or esoteric cult to perfect itself. Through union with Christ and Christ alone the Christian life rises to the height and fulness of its moral destiny, and no so-called "Higher Life" is to be dreamt of. Any external or additional aid (219) is gratuitous and harmful. This thesis is urged upon lines which Paul in part had already traversed (in 1 Co and Ro), in part found opening up now freshly to his mind. The style and inner evidence of the writing, combined with a fair view of the errors attacked and the doctrine adduced, serve—in the absence of many historical traits—to indicate that the letter is a genuine product of the apostle.3 It is intended to stamp as authentic and exhibit as final the gospel which the Colossians had learned from his pupil, Epaphras.

1 Dr. Fairbaini {Christ in Mod. Thai. pp. 318-320) puts this with characteristic terseness: "Christ occupies not simply a historical, but a cosmical place. ... At the touch of evil the cosmology becomes a soteriology; for when sin enters the world, the Creator, who is good, has no choice but to become the Saviour. . . . The categories of time and history have thus ceased to be here applicable ; sin is no longer an affair of man or earth, but of the universe. The conflict against it is extra-temporal; its field is the whole realm of mental being, the protagonists God and the devil." Cp. Knowling, Witness of Epistles, pp. 256-290.

2 He may have become acquainted with the current terminology of the Greek mysteries in Rome, even if he had not some previous knowledge of them. Cp. the essay in Lightfoot's edition, pp. 71-111, on "The Colossian heresy." The exact features of the theosophy at Colosse are difficult to make out, and have been variously interpreted. It is clear that they were not "Gnostic," in the later and technical sense of the term; possibly they were syncretistic, a local blend of polytheism, mysticism, and theosophy.

3 For the reality and limits of the advance in Paulinism which marks oil' the letters after "Romans," cp. Weiss, NTTh, ii. pp. 75-124, and Zahn, Mini. i. p. •'547 f., particularly the latter, who harmonises the conceptions of the earlier and later Panlinfsm without straining exegesis unduly.

Up to a comparatively recent period, the epistle was upon the whole assigned to the second century (110-130 A.d.) by most critics, from Mayerhoff downwards, partly owing to the supposed development of the Christology, but mainly on account of its references to what were considered fairly mature forms of Gnosticism. Baur especially {Paul, ii. 1-44), followed by the majority of his school,1 found the atmosphere of the writing not earlier than this period, and Weizsiicker (A A, ii. pp. 240-245) still holds a similar view; he regards "Colossians" as a product, along with the fourth gospel, of the Ephesian school which developed Paulinism to counteract the contemporary tendencies of encratitic thought. So Bruckner, Chron. pp. 41-56, 257-276. Yet this rigorous verdict has to be modified. It must be admitted that there are no definite traces of any great Gnostic system in this writing, nor can there be any reason for denying that Paulinism in Paul's hands could have embraced certain semi-metaphysical ideas which are called Alexandrian, or that the conceptions in Colossians were necessarily foreign to his mind simply because they had not as yet come to such full expression. The possibility of such a speculative advance in the writer's mind becomes of course considerably greater when Philippians—with its bold development of Christology—is accepted as genuinely Pauline.

The undoubted basis of Pauline ideas, however, suggested to Holtzmann his ingenious and complicated interpolation theory (Kritik der Ephes. u. KolosserbrUfe (1872); Einl. pp. 251-267), by which, after Ewald and in part Hitzig, he endeavoured to distinguish an original and genuine epistle to the Colossians directed against their legal and ascetic errors. This was first used by the autor ad Ephesios against a Jewish-Christian theosophy; afterwards he turned back and interpolated his earlier source into our extant "Colossians." Such filigree-criticism has not proved convincing,2 and has only been accepted with considerable modifications. It is to be noted that most critics incline to the simpler conclusion of accepting at least "Colossians" as a genuine and substantially Pauline document, a position which is fast becoming axiomatic.'1

This recognition of the authenticity and unity of Colossians had been already advocated by Schenkel (Christusbild d. Apostel, pp. 83-86), Weiss (INT, i. pp. 323-338, AJT, i. 371-377), Eeuss (pp. 110-119), J. Koster (De Echtheid van de brieven aan de Kolossers en de Ephesiers, 1877), Renan (S. Paul, pp. ix-xii), Lightfoot, Beyschlag, Godet, Salmon, and Hort4 (Jud. Christianity, p. 116 f.), besides the brilliant studies

1 Cp. especially Pfleiderer, Paulinism, ii. pp. 95-119; Urc. p. 670 f., who admits, however, the possibility of a Pauline nucleus in the letter; also, from a slightly different standpoint, Schmiedel, EWK, ii. 38, article "Kolosser u. Epheser" (1886). p. 138 f., who takes the heresy to be a form of Ebionitism with Gnostic tendencies ; and Cone, Gospel and its Interpretations, pp. 249-260.

2 Cp. von Soden's examination: JpTh (1885), pp. 320-368. The parallels are reprinted by Haupt (-Meyer), Einl. pp. 27, 28, 69-71.

• Possibly the stylistic difficulties might be eased, were it n feasible conjecture here, as in the case of 2 Thess., that Timothy's share in the epistle was something more than merely nominal. Cp. Eeuan, LAntichrist, chap. iv.

4 Hort and McGiffert, however, reject the ordinary hypothesis of Essene influence, A connection with some popular Greek ethical philosophy the former regards as undeniably possible ; but he considers the Colossian heresy to be essentially a Judaic development and extension to which a specious ouasi-Hellenic varnish of "philosophy" was given in order to disarm Western prejudice. More simply and satisfactorily. McGilfert, like Schenkel, von Soden, and Erbes (Ofenbar. Joh. p. 135f.), prefers to Iwlieve that the errorists wero under the influence of Alexandrian rather than Palestinian Judaism. The term fsiirtf i'a was applied by Philo and Josephus to Jewish

« AnteriorContinuar »