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1-3 Greeting 4-7 Gratitude for Philemon's character and service. 8-21 Request and appeal on behalf of the slave Onesimus. 22-25 Personal.



1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timotheus the brother,

to Philemon our beloved and our fellow-worker, and to Apphia the

sister, and to Archippus our fellow-soldier, and to the Community

at thy house : grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus

Christ. rivers. 4 I always give thanks to my God when I make mention of thee in my

5 prayers—as I hear of thy love and of the faith that thou hast to the Lord 6 Jesus and for all the saints-praying that to participate in thy faith may

result for them in a full knowledge of all the goodness we possess, Christ7 ward. I had great joy and comfort over thy love, because the hearts of the 8 saints have been refreshed through thee, brother.

Therefore, while 9 in Christ I would have great confidence in ordering thee to do what is thy

duty, yet I prefer to appeal to thee for love's sake. Being of this mind then, 10 I Paul, an old man, aye and a prisoner of Christ Jesus now-I appeal to thee

for my child whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, for Onesimus; 11 at one time he was of no service to thee, but he is serviceable now to thee 12, 13 and to myself. I send him back to thee (he is my very heart): I would

have liked to keep him beside me, to minister on thy behalf to me as I lie 14 imprisoned for the gospel ; but I was unwilling to do anything without

thy consent, in order that thy kindness might not be given by way of 15 compulsion but from thine own free will. For perhaps it was on this

account that he was parted from thee for a time, that thou shouldest have 16 him back for ever-no longer as a slave but as something more than a

slave, as a brother, beloved by me most of all, but how much more by 17 thee, in the flesh also as well as in the Lord. If thou considerest me then 18 to be a comrade of thine, take him home as if it were myself. And if he has

wronged thee at all or owes thee anything, put that down to my account. 19 I write it, I Paul, with my own hand : “I will repay it”-not to remind 20 thee, that thou owest me thy very self besides. "Yes, brother ! let me

have some return from thee in the Lord ! Refresh my heart in Christ. 21 I write thee in the confidence that thou wilt obey, knowing that thou 22 wilt do even more than what I say. At the same time, get ready a lodging

for me also ; for I am hoping that through your prayers I shall be restored to you.

'Epaphras my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus salutes thee; so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow-workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.


UPON the dubious hypothesis that this encyclical letter is genuine, its period is easily fixed. The undoubted connection of its thought with that of the Colossian epistle argues a contemporary origin during the latter period of Paul's imprisonment (3141) at Rome (Phil 422). While the question of the relative priority is not of much moment, it is better, with a majority of critics (especially after Hönig's proof: ZwTh, 1872, p. 63 f.), to place the Colossian epistle at a slightly earlier date, finding in the Ephesian letter traces of development upon several lines of thought (e.g. the Spirit and the church). Practically—upon arguments, forcible if few—the epistle is reckoned contemporaneous with and if anything subsequent to Colossians : so Weiss (INT, i. pp. 339–358; AJT, i. pp. 377-384), Sabatier (op. cit. p. 225 f., a very convincing discussion), Reuss (pp. 110–119), Godet (INT, pp. 475-490), Salmon (INT, p. 388 f.), and Prof. G. G. Findlay (Expositor's Bible, “Ephesians,” pp. 3–13). Similarly Schäfer, E. H. Hall, L. Schultze, Hort (“Romans and Ephesians," 1895), T. K. Abbott (ICC, pp. ix-xxii), Adeney (BI, pp. 395–398), McGiffert (pp. 378– 385), Macpherson (Comm. Ephesians, 1892), and Bartlet (AA, 189 f.).

Up till recently the best criticism had placed the epistle in the second century, as a polemic against Montanism (Schwegler) or Gnosticism, to be dated either c. 140 A.D. as a remodelled and expanded version of Colossians (Hilgenfeld and Hausrath), or towards the beginning of the second century as the original work of a Pauline scholar (Holtzmann and Mangold). The latter theory suggests a comparison between the so-called “Ephesian” epistle and the seventh book of the Nikomachean Ethics ; neither is original, but both are so permeated by the Master's spirit and ideas as to be practically authentic for the purposes of interpretation. This date, towards the close of the first or in the opening of the second century, is held by many excellent scholars who find the leading evidence for a non-Pauline period in the apparently maturer phase (Pfleiderer, Paulinism, ii. pp. 162–193; Weizsäcker, AA, ii. pp. 240–245) of the theology, which approximates in many striking respects to that of the fourth gospel, and with it may be said to form the summit of NT theology. This line of argument from the epistle's place in the development of thought and life (cp. passages like 35 411 220) is really crucial (Holtzmann, Kritik. p. 200 f.). The epistle itself gives few hints of its historical setting or even of local colouring, and alongside of what seem absolute novelties in thought and language lie specifically Pauline elements. Consequently, while the extreme period (120-150 A.D.) has been practically abandoned, save_by a few critics like Hausrath, S. Davidson (INT, ii. pp. 261-300), Rovers (Nieuw-test. Letterkunde, 1888, pp. 65 f. : Čol., Philem., Ephes. in beginning of Hadrian's reign), Brückner (Chron. pp. 257–276), and Pfleiderer (Urc. p. 684 f.), a date ranging from 80 to 100 is adopted by many (e.g. Holtzmann, Hatch, Schmiedel, and Mangold). This is confirmed by the resemblances between Ephes. and

the Apocalypse and Clem. Rom. (cp. on these, Hort, RE, p. 112; von Soden, HC, 111. i. p. 80). The characteristics of the epistle on this view can be approached along one or other of two hypotheses :

(a) The secretary-theory, Renan's suggestion, that the letter was written by one of Paul's scholars during his lifetime, and under his supervision, is at least possible. Extend this beyond his lifetime to the case of a follower reproducing Paul's ideas in view of later interests within the church, and one secures a very reasonable ground for dating the epistle towards the end of the century, and at the same time preserving and doing justice to the distinctively Pauline elements upon which stress has been recently and rightly laid (cp. von Soden, JpTh, 1887, pp. 103-135, 432-498; HC, III. i. p. 79-104). In this case the letter would be composed of reminiscences and traits gathered by a disciple of Paul's, and fused into a more advanced exposition. Thus Klöpper (Der Brief an die Epheser) attributes the writing to a disciple of the Pauline school who wrote two or three decades after his master's death. Certainly it presents some very striking affinities with the literature of 75-105 A.D., e.g. the development of hymnody (514. 19 320, cp. Lk 1-2), the emphasis on the “catholicity” of the church for Jew and pagan, the stress laid on detailed moral obligations, also the remarkable coincidences of thought with the fourth gospel, and of style with Lk-Acts. Such a position explains, as aptly as the earlier date, the use of Romans and the dependence upon Colossians, while it does ample justice to the Johannine features which otherwise appear c. 60 A.D., as—to say the least--very notable anticipations. In this event, the epistle is pseudonymous. It was composed 2 in view of current libertinism, church divisions, and theoretical errors of Alexandrian colour, in order to counteract such tendencies by a restatement of the true Pauline faith. Possibly, too, the errors were actually due (as in James and 1 John) to abuses or misconceptions of some original Pauline doctrines.

Even if one refuses the highly probable conjecture that ayious is a gloss, the crucial difficulty raised by the apparently objective and collective references to “apostles” (220 35)—assuming the text to be uncorrupted—is partly eased by passages like 1 Co 95 1228, and Ro 167. For all that can be said in defence of the various soteriological and cosmical “novelties," cp. Zahn, Einl. i. p. 355 f., and Haupt's satisfying commentary ad loc. That these form a natural development of Paulinism is undeniable. The only question is whether they are “natural” within the limits of the apostle's lifetime. Hesitation upon this point does not at all imply that Paul lacked constructive and broad ideas of the Christian brotherhood, nor does it involve any theory that binds the apostle to “one limited and carefully catalogued repertory of ideas.” He may well have been a fresh and advancing thinker, and yet incapable of having written this epistle, which is so strangely silent upon, e.g., the cardinal Pauline ideas of Christ's death, second coming, and relation to the individual Christian, while it approximates remarkably to the Christology of “Hebrews" and the fourth gospel (Christ=the unifying principle for the universe, and for the contradictions of Jew and Gentile, the Johannine use of ảyánn in Ephesians, the antithesis of pôs and okótos, etc.), in the 17th chapter of which “almost every verse offers a parallel to this epistle" (Lock).

1“Que Paul ait écrit ou dicté cette lettre, il est à peu près impossible de l'admettre; mais qu'on l'ait composée de son vivant, sous ses yeux, en son nom, c'est ce qu'on ne saurait déclarer improbable” (S. Paul, p. xx). He follows Schleiermacher's suggestion of Tychicus.

2“ Die Interessen des Briefs haben zwei Pole, die völlige Verschmelzung von geboren Juden und Heiden in der Christenheit zu einer geschlossenen Gemeinschaft und die Erfassung des grossen kosmischen Ziels des Christenthums. In der mitte steht beide verbindend der Begriff der {xzhnoice" (von Soden). The really vital problem in regard to “Ephesians” is the question whether this theology is compatible with what we know of Pauline ideas from the other epistles. An affirmative answer has been made easier but not inevitable by the admission that Colossians is authentic. Upon the other hand, the later date and the pseudonymity which it involves are brought into clearer relief than ever when attention is directed (as by von Soden) to the affinities of the writing with the Apocalypse-its use of the bridal metaphor, its stress on the apostolic foundation and aronáduales (117 33. 5), and the subsequent treatment of church-questions (Pastorals, Hermas) in epistolary form (Apoc 2-3). Besides, the Gentile is the predominant partner in the church to an extent unprecedented in the earlier literature. Cp. Holtzmann, Einl. pp. 254–267, NTTh, ii. pp. 254-258.

(6) Otherwise, and on the same line, there is the more artificial structure-hypothesis-either in Holtzmann's or in a modified presentment—which explains the Pauline characteristics here, as in the pastoral epistles, chiefly by the theory of interpolation or compilation. Originally taken in part from the Colossian epistle, these genuine fragments may have formed the nucleus of, or have been worked up into, an extant epistle (vide Mangold-Bleek, p. 602). But this is needless in view of (a), and inherently stiff (cp, especially Oltramare's ed. p. 113 f.).

The recent admission of Colossians as authentic has however helped to make a seventh decade date in the first century intrinsically more probable. That both epistles were written together has often been made

a commonplace of criticism, though perhaps this is too hastily assumed. ✓ Still a similarity of situation is obvious, and the estimate of one certainly

touches the estimate of the other (vide Sabatier, op. cit. pp. 229-234). “They were in all probability,” says Weizsäcker, "written not in succession but together; ... they were meant to supplement each other, and were composed with that object on one complete plan. Both therefore start from the same ideas, the same doctrine” (AA, ii. p. 245). The result is that if the “Gnosticism” which explains Colossians is to be discovered in the middle of the first century throughout Asia Minor, it would require more serious and detailed proof than has yet been led to bring the twin-epistle-in spite of its independent elements and characteristic standpoint-down to the second or even to the close of the first century. This theory of simultaneous origin, however, does not necessarily follow from the similarities of the epistles, as Ephesians 2 might well be a later restatement of the earlier writing. Still it seems to be widely felt as a possible hypothesis, e.g. by Oltramare (ii. pp. 5-104, a copious statement), Trenkle (Einl. 69-72), Jülicher, and Harnack ; neither of the latter will dogmatise against or for the authenticity of “Ephesians," although the vast majority of modern scholars agree in making it sub-Pauline. Most recently Zahn 3 (Einl. i. pp. 347–362) has accepted the epistle as literally genuine, the copy of a circular letter to the Asiatic churches. Dr. A. Robertson (Smith's Dict. B.2 i. pp. 947–964) has an excellent discussion

1 Cp. besides von Soden, Schmiedel, EWK, ii. 38, pp. 138–144.

2 One of the most difficult passages (Eph 514) has been made the subject of a special study by M. W. Jacobus (ThSt, pp. 9–29). If his elaborate arguments are correct, the citation is perfectly Pauline in method and object: it is a free spiritualisation of Jonah 16, as a reproof of evil (077=xæbiudeov).

3 Who is much more successful in exposing the weak points of the later date, than in presenting a positive statement of the earlier.

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