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with him. After this, Paul, being sent prisoner to Rome, Luke attended him to that city, and remained with him for his assistance, as is plain from the salutations which are contained in the epistles which Paul wrote during his imprisonment. It is not certain where he wrote his gospel ; but as that work came abroad before the Acts of the Apostles, it is supposed that Luke collected the materials while travelling with Paul in Greece and Judea, before the latter was seized upon by the Jews in the temple, and finished it while Paul was a prisoner in Cæsarea. Both these treatises he inscribed to one Theophilus, an intimate friend, who, from his name, is supposed to have been a Greek, and, from the epithet most excellent, to have been a person of high rank.
It has been generally believed that the gospel of Luke was the third in the order of time that was written ; but Dr. Macknight and some others have been induced to ascribe to it an earlier origin than that of either Mark or Matthew.
Whoever has read the four gospels attentively, will easily perceive that the three former evangelists have written for a different purpose and on a different plan than John. As this is a point of very considerable importance, we shall present the reader with an extract from Dr. Macknight, which will cast considerable light 'upon the subject.
The evangelists did not intend to relate all the transactions of Christ's life. The Spirit, by whose direction they wrote, guided thenı into this resolution, lest their books should have swelled to too great a bulk. Accordingly, when Luke set about writing, he proposed to give little besides the history of our Lord's ministry in Galilee and Perea, because that period comprehended the principal transactions of his public life, and was less known to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. It was, therefore, consistent with his plan to omit what happened at the passovers and other feasts during the period which is the subject of bis history. Farther, though Jesus preached several months in Judea, and made many disciples after his baptism, [John iii. 22, iv. 1.] bis ministry in Galilee, properly speaking, did not begin till John's imprisonment. Before that event, his preaching was, for the most part, confined to Judea, as is evident from this, the cure of the nobleman's son after the Baptist's imprisonment was the second miracle he performed in Galilee. Wherefore, the transactions in Judea, in the beginning of our Lord's ministry, being out of the period which is the subject of Luke's history, are omitted by him entirely; and he begins his account at John's imprisonment, bringing it down to the conclusion of Christ's ministry in Perea. He judged it neces. sary, however, to relate with accuracy our Lord's conception, birtli
, circumcision, baptism, and temptations, these being matters of great importance, and very needful to be known. He gives a particular account also of his death, resurrection, and ascension, because they are the great foundations upon which the truth of the Christian religion rests. Withal, he introduces a short'sketch of the Baptist's history, for this reason, that as he was Messiah's forerunner, his ministry was subservient to Christ's, and had a necessary counection with it.
Matthew and Mark seem to have adopted Luke's plan, thinking it needless to relate the transactions in Judea before the Baptist's imprisonment, or in Jerusalem at the passovers and other feasts. For though these were matters of great importance, whether their quality or their number be considered, Jesus, having gone to Jerusalem, at least, thrice every year, they were abundantly well known to the inhabitants of that metropolis, and, indeed, to the whole nation ; the Jews, in general, coming up to worship in these seasons. Most of them were performed in the temple before great multitudes of people, who always resorted thither. And such persons as had not the happiness to be eye-witnesses of them, being, however, in the town where they
were done, matst have been speedily informed of them, either by the eye-witnesses, e by tbe subjects of the miracles, who did not fail to publish them every where, or by the general reports which pobody presumed to coniradict. Wherefore, as Matthew and Mark published their gospels while the fame of Christ's actions in Jerusalera was every where fresh, and the witnesses of them were living in all parts of the country, they had the same reason with Luké for writing the history of the principal period only of our Lord's ministry. Moreover, composing their gospels while the disciples had the conversion of the Jews much at heart, as a matter of great importance to the success of Christianity, even among the Gentiles, it was entirely agreeable to their purpose to adopt Luke's plan, that, by supplying what he had omitted, they might make their countrymen as well acquainted as possible with that part of our Lord's history whiclı comprehended the subsiance of his public life, and which was, at least, known. That the conversion of their own nation was long the principal object of the apostles' study, is evident from the general strain of their labours in preaching, which, for a good while, were confined wholly to the Jews. The evangelists, Matthew and Mark, indeed, speak little of our Lord's ministry in Perea, which Luke has related at some length. But the reason, perhaps, was this, his sermons and parables in Perea being many of thein the same with those preached in Galilee, which they have supplied, they judged it needless to repeat them. What they had to do was only to inform us that those parables and sermons were delivered also in Galilee, because Luke had omitted to mention them in his account of Christ's ministry there. The three historians were directed to treat of Christ's life on so 'narrow a plan, and in so succinct a manner, not only that a sufficient number of Jews might be converted, but for other reasons ; and this among the rest, that to find the disciples silent where they might have told things greatly to the honour of their Master, adds not a little weight to their testimony, and beautifully displays the modesty with which they wrote. Wherefore, the world has suffered no loss by the brevity of the first historians ; especially as the Holy Spirit, from the very beginning, intended to raise up one to write a bistory of Jesus, in wbieh some of the principal transactions of his lite, omitted by the former historians, should be supplied, to the great praise of their modesty, to the recommendation of their work, and to the edification of the church. Besides, that the three first evangelists should have formed their gospels upon one and the same plan was highly proper, in order that by the joint concurrence of their several testimonies, the accounts which they gave of him might be fully confirmed, and gain the greater credit in the world.
This account of the plan upon which the three evangelists formed their histories is the more probable, as it appears they composed them in Judea for the use of the Jews, and to forward their conversion. We have already observed, that the three evangelists, in their accounts of things, all along suppose their readers perfectly acquainted with the Jewish affairs. For example, when they happen to speak of matters peculiar to their own country, however remote those things night be from the apprehension of foreigners, they generally give no explication of them; besides, they are at no pains to obviate the objections which might be made to their story by persons unacquainted with it, nor are the general circumstances of time marked by two of them. I now add, that in all their computations of the hours of the day, the three make use of the Jewish form and division of it. It is quite otherwise with John; for he supposes bis readers ignorant of the Jewish affairs, and, for that reason, never mentious any thing peculiar to the Jews without giving such an explication of it as he knew was necessary to make himself understood. Thus, [chap. v. 2.) speaking of Jerusalem, he says,there is at Jerusalem, by the sheep-market, a pool, which is called in the Hebrew congue, Bethesda, having five porches. (chap. vi. 4.] Speaking of the passover, he
tells us that it was a feast of the Jews. In like manner he describes the feast of tabernacles, [chap. vii.2.] The Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand; and, verse 37, he informs his readers that the last day was the great day of the feast. Chap. xix. 13, be givcs both the Roman and the Jewish names of the place where Jesus was tried by the governor
But as remarkable as any, is the explication found chap. xix. 31. The Jews, therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath-day, for that sabbath-day was an high day, 8c. Likewise, verse 42, There laid they Jesus, therefore, becausc of the Jews' preparation day. This manner of writing. every reader must be sensible, John would not have made use of, bad be composed bis gospel for the use of the Jews, or published it in Judea. On the other hand, the three evangelists would hardly have written in the manner they have done, had they originally designed their works for the Gentiles, or published them out of Judea.
From what has been said, it clearly appears that John wrote his gospel for the use of the world in general, and published it in some of the Gentile countries after the writings of the other evangelists were sent abroad. Hence, in forming his history, be followed a different plan from theirs. For, as he lived to see a new generation arise in Judea, which was not personally acquainted either with our Lord himself or with those who had heard and seen him, he judged it proper to record Christ's ministry in Judea, but especially his sermons and miracles at ihe great festivals, lest the memory of these things should have died with the witnesses, who, by that time, were mostly taken off the stage.
Moreover, he had the pleasure to see the Christian religion propagated into countries far distant from Judea, where Jesus liad lived ; in which distant countries his history could not be known, but by the gospels already published, or by the reports of those who were personally acquainted with him. Wherefore, the other evangelists having altogether omitted it, he judged it absolutely needful to give the world a specimen of Christ's ministry in Judea, that we might thereby know more of bis doctrine and miracles, be able to form a better notion of his consummate prudence, and behold with admiration the courage and zeal wherewith he acted in the capital, under the eyes of the great men, the priests, the scribes, and the elders, before whom he was not afraid to assume the character of one sent by God, and to act accordingly. Such were the plans upon which the four gospels were composed, and such the views with which they were published. Taken together, they contain as compicte an account of our Lord's life as was necessary to be left on record ; and each, in its order, was adapted to the circumstances of mankind at that time, the subscquent gospels supplying what was wanting in the precedent ones, till the history was conspleted.
John was the son of Zebedee, a fisherman, who had a boat, and nets, and hired servants, (Mark i. 20.] and followed bis occupation on the sea of Galilee. From Matthew xxvii. 55, compared with Mark xv. 40, it appears that the name of Zebedee's wife was Salome ; for, in the former of these passages, she is called the mother of Zebedee's children, who, in the latter, is named Salome.
Zebedee had another son, whose name was James, and who secms to have been clder than Jolo. Both of them were fishers like their father, and assisted him in his business till they were called to follow Jesus. They seem all to have lived in one family, in the town of Bethsaida, which, heing situated near the sea of Galilee, was a convenient station for fishers..
Because the mother of Zebedce's children is mentioned among the women wbo followed Jesus from Galilec to the last passover, ministering to him, as related Mat. xxvii. 56, Lardner conjectures that Zebedee was then dead, and that the two brothers lived in separate houses. For when our Lord upon the cross recommended his mother to John, it is said, [John xix. 27.] From that hour that disciple took her unto his wwn home. Perhaps John and his mother Salome lived together. Theophylact was of opinion that John's mother was related to our Lord ; and Lardner supposes that that relation encouraged her to ask the two chief places in Christ's kingdom for her sons, and that it was the occasion of our Lord's committing the care of his mother to John. But there is no evidence in scripture of Zebedee's children being related to our Lord by their mother.
John had not the advantage of a learned education. For we are told [Acts iii. 14.] that the council perceived Peter and John were unlearned men. Nevertheless, like the generality of the Jewish common people of that age, they may have been well acquainted with the scriptures, having often heard them read in the synagogues. And as, with the rest of their countrymen, they expected the coming of Messiah about that time, they lent a willing ear to the Baptist when he published that Messiah was actually come, though the people did not know him. [Jolin i. 26.] Afterward, when the Baptist pointed out Jesus' to bis disciples, (verse 29.] as the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world, he said to them, (verse 33.] I knew him not to be Messiah, but he who sent me to baptize with water, the same said to me, upon whoix thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he who baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. [verse 34.] And I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God. If the sons of Zebedee were of the number of those to whom John testified that Jesus was the Son of God, we may believe they attached themselves early to brim, and were among those who are called his disciples, and to whom he manifested his glory at the marriage in Cana, by turning water into wine. [John ii. 11.]
After the miracle in Cana, the sons of Zebcdee seem to have followed their ordinary occupation, till Jesus called them to attend on him constantly, as mentioned Mat. iv. For the evangelist, having related the calling of Peter and Andrew, adds, (verse 21.) And, going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them; [22.] And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him, namely, when he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among the people.
Some time after this, Jesus chose twelve of his disciples to be with him always, that they might be eye and ear-witnesses of all he did and said, and be qualified to testify the same to the world ; and, in particular, be qualified to bear witness to his resurrection from the dead. These chosen persons Jesus named apostles ; and the sons of Zebedee being of that number, he surnamed them Boanerges, or sons of thunder, to mark the courage with which they would afterwards preach him to the world as Christ
, the Son of God. How well James fulfilled his Master's prediction may be known from his being put to death by Herod Agrippa, not long after our Lord's ascension, on account of his boldly testifying the resurrection of Jesus from the dead ; so that he became the first martyr among the apostles. Cave, in his life of James, says,
the sons of Zebedee had the surname of Boanerges given them ou account of the impetuosity of their tempers. And it must be acknowledged, that they shewed too much anger in their proposal to have the Samaritans destroyed by fire from heaven, because they refused to receive Jesus as he was going up to Jerusalem to worship. (Luke ix. 54.) Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elias did.
But although James and John shewed improper zeal on the occasion mentioned, they were highly esteemed by their Master for their other good qualities, as appears from
this, that of all the apostles, they only, with Peter, were admitted by him to be the witnesses of the resurrection of Jairus' daughter, and of vur Lord's transfiguration, and of his agony in the garden, John, more especially, was so much beloved of Jesus, that he was called the disciple whom he loved.' His benevolent disposition John manifested in his first epistle, by the frequency and earnestness with which he recommended mutual love to the disciples of Christ. With benevolence, John joined great fortitude and constancy in his attachment to his Master. For he only of the twelve attended him during his crucifixion, and saw the blood and water issue from his side when the soldier pierced it; and was, probably, present when his body was laid in the sepulchre, and saw the sepulchre closed with a stone. He, with Peter, ran to the sepulchre when Mary Magdalene brought word that the Lord's body was taken away. present also when Jesus shewed himself to the apostles on the evening of the day of his resurrection, and on the eighth day thereafter. He, with his brother James, was present when Jesus shewed himself to his disciples at the sea of Tiberias, and to the five hundred on the mountain in Galilee, mentioned Mat. xxviii. 16. Moreover, he was present with the rest of the apostles when our Lord ascended into heaven from the mount of Olives. So that, with the greatest propriety and truth, he could begin his first epistle with saying, That which was froin the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen, gc, we declare unto you, referring to his gospel, in which he liath narrated the crucifixion, miracles, sufferings, death, and resurrection of the living Woru, his
appearances to his disciples after his resurrection, and, last of all, bis ascension into heaven. To conclude : John was one of the hundred and twenty upon whom the Holy Ghost descended on the day of Pentecost, which immediately followed our Lord's ascension,
After the effusion of the Holy Spirit, John displayed the greatest boldness in maintaiping bis Master's cause, when, with Peter, he was brought before the council, and was strictly charged not to teach in the name of Jesus. For, on that occasion, he made the noble answer recorded Acts iv. 19. Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot bui speak the things which we have heard and seen.
We are told, [Acts viii. 14.] that when the apostles who were at Jerusalenı heard that Samaria hal receiveil thc word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. It seems, none could confer that gift but apostles.
From Gal. ii. 9, it appears that John was present at the council of Jerusalem, which met A. D. 49, or 50, to determine the great question agitated in the church of Antioch, namely, whether it was necessary to the salvation of the believing Gentiles that they should be çircumcised. And if, as is probable, Johu had his ordinary residence in Jerusalem till that time, he had his share in working the many signs and wonders which are said to have been done by the hands of the apostles. (Acts ij. 43, iv. 33, y. 12.]
Jolin, according to Mill, Fabricius, and Le Clerc, wrote his gospel at Ephesus, after his return from the isle of Patmos, A. D. 97, at the desire of the Christians in Asia. Wetstein thought that this gospel might be written about thirty-two years after our Lord's ascension. Basnage and Lampe, together with Dr. Lardner, fix the date of its composition in the year sixty-eight, just before the destruction of Jerusalem. This hypothesis brings its date very near to that of the other three gospels, which was about the year sixty-four or sixty-five ; and, in the opinion of somc, the gospel itself, the leading design of which was to shew how inexcusable the Jews were in not receiviug Jesus as the Christ, and to vindicate the providence of God in the calamities