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in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Certainly these exhortations of the apostle are the more proper and forcible, supposing the Colossians to have been first taught and instructed by him. Nor had he any occasion to be more particular. They knew who had taught them. But I think that in this, or some other of the places, where he reminds the Colossians of what they had heard, and had been taught, if those instructions had been received from another different from himself, that would have appeared in the expressions made use of by him. In short, if they were converted by the apostle, there could not possibly arise in his mind a doubt whether they remembered who had been their first teacher, and who were his fellow-labourers who had accompanied him in his journies, when he was in their country. And therefore there was no need to remind them of himself more expressly than he has done. The thing is supposed all along. 7. The presence of Epaphras with Paul at Rome is an argument that the Colossians had personal acquaintance with the apostle. Indeed Grotius upon ch. i. 7, says, “that Epa“ phras is the same as Epaphroditus, mentioned in the ‘epistle to the Philippians.” But Beausobre well observes upon the same place: “ This may be the same name with ‘Epaphroditus, Philip. ii. 25. But it is not probable that it “is the same person. St. Paul had sent Epaphroditus to ‘Philippi. #. Epaphras was still at Rome. And there is ‘reason to think, that he was a prisoner there. . See Philem. “ver. 23.” If Epaphras was sent to Rome by the Colossians to inquire after Paul's welfare, as may be concluded from ch. iv. 7, 8, that token of respect for the apostle is a good argument of personal acquaintance. And it is allowed, that Epaphras had brought St. Paul a particular account of the state of affairs in this church. Which is another argument that they were his converts. 8. Ch. i. 8, “Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit:” that is, says * Grotius, ‘how you love us on ac‘count of the Holy Spirit given to you.” Or, as Peirce, ‘Who also declared unto me the love you bear to me upon ‘ a spiritual account.” Or, as Whitby, ‘Your spiritual and ‘ affectionate love to me, wrought in you by the Spirit, whose ‘ fruit is love.’ All thus understanding it of their love of the apostle, and rightly, as seems to me. . Nothing else can be meant by it. For before, at ver.4, he had spoken of “ their love to all the saints.” This I take to be another * Quomodo nos diligatis propter Spiritum Sanctum vobis datum. Grot. in loc
good proof of personal acquaintance. And the place is agreeable to what he writes to the Thessalonians, allowed by all to be the apostle's converts. I Thess. iii. 6, “But now when Timothy came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity: [that is the same with Col. i4, “Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of your love to all the saints:”] and that ye have good remembrance of us always.” 9. Ch. iii. 16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” This shows, that the Colossians were endowed with spiritual gifts. And from whom could they receive them, but from St. Paul ? Apostles' only are allowed to have had the power and privilege of conveying spiritual gifts to other christians. This text therefore had been a difficulty with such as have supposed that Paul never was at Colosse. But now that difficulty is removed. 10. Ch. ii. 1, 2, “For I would, that ye knew, what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh : that their hearts might be comforted.” This quick change of persons upon the mention of such as had not seen the apostle's face, seems to imply, that the Colossians, to whom he is writing, had seen him. For if the Colossians had been among those who had not seen him, he would have expressed himself in this manner: “I would that ye knew, what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that your hearts might be comforted.” But upon the mention of such as had not seen him, he says: “that their hearts might be comforted.” And having finished his testimony of concern for such “as had not seen his face,” he returns to the Colossians, to whom he was writing, and says, ver. 4, “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.” Theodoret, beside what he had said in the preface to this epistle, which has been already transcribed, speaks again to this purpose in his paraphrase of ch. ii. 1, 2, ‘I would have “you be persuaded of my great concern for you, and * for the Laodiceans: and not only for you and the Lao
f ‘Though several of the christians had spiritual gifts, and miraculous “ powers, none but apostles could confer upon others such gifts and powers.' Dr. Benson upon the Acts, Vol. I. p. 157, first edit. p. 162, second edit. In like manner other commentators. And see Acts, ch. viii. 5–25.
‘ diceans, but likewise for all who have not seen me. “And # that this is his meaning, appears from what follows: * “that their hearts may be comforted.” He does not say * “your:” but “their :” that is, of such as had not seen ‘ him.” 11. Ch. ii. 5, “For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying, and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.” It is here implied, if I am not mistaken, that the apostle had been with them, and had been present in the assembly of the believers at Colosse. 12. What is said, ch. iv. 7–9, “All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you,” and the rest, best suits the supposition of personal acquaintance, as before hinted. Indeed, I think it to be full proof, that Paul was acquainted with them, and they with him. 13. The salutations in ver. I0, II, 14, from Aristarchus, Mark, Luke, Demas, suppose the Colossians to have been well acquainted with St. Paul’s fellow-travellers, and fellow-labourers. And Timothy's name is in the salutation at the beginning of the epistle. Consequently, the Colossians were not unknown to the apostle, nor unacquainted with him. And the like salutations are also in the epistle to Philemon, an inhabitant of Colosse. - 14. Ch. iv. 15, “Salute the brethren, which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. Ver. 17. And say to Archippus : Take heed to the ministry, which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.” This shows, that Paul was well acquainted with the state of the churches in Colosse and Laodicea. And it affords an argument that he had been in that country, and particularly at Laodicea. He salutes the brethren there, and Nymphas by name, and the church in his house. “It" “is probable, says Theodoret, that he was one of the faith‘ ful in Laodicea, who had made his house a church, adorn‘ing it with piety.” As for Archippus, the same Theodoret says, “That some had supposed him to have been minister ‘ at Laodicea : but,” says he, “the epistle to Philemon shows, ‘ that he dwelled at Colosse, where Philemon was.’ See Philem. wer. 2.
15. Ch. iv. 3, 4, “Withal praying also for us, that God
* Orl 6s Tavra kara Tavrmy avrop rmv ćuavouav supnrat kau ra strayopsva Öm\ot twa trapak\mbooty ai Kapòual avrov. Ovk sits v špov, a\\ avrov, Tat' set, rov pumčetro Ts6sapsvov. Theod. ib. p. 350, 351.
* Ibid. p. 363.
* Tivic spagav, rerow Aao'ucciac yeyevnaðat Ötöaoka)\ov, K. A. Ibid.
would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am in bonds, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.” And ver. 18, “Remember my bonds.” Such demands may be made of strangers. But they are most properly made of friends and acquaintance. In a word, the whole tenour of this epistle shows, that the apostle is not writing to strangers, but to acquaintance, disciples, and converts. 16. Finally, an argument may be taken from the epistle to Philemon, an inhabitant of Colosse, sent at the same time with this to the Colossians. From ver, 19th of the epistle to Philemon, I suppose it to be evident, that he had been converted to christianity by St. Paul. Indeed this might be done at some other place. But it may as well have been done at home. And St. Paul’s acquaintance with Philemon and the christians at Colosse, may be inferred from several things in that epistle. At ver. 2, he salutes Apphia by name, probably wife of Philemon: and Archippus, probably pastor at Colosse, at least an elder in that church : who, as before observed, is also mentioned, Col. iv. 17. Once more, at ver. 22, St. Paul desires Philemon “to prepare him a lodging.” Whence I conclude, that Paul had been at Colosse before. We might argue also from the characters of Philemon and Archippus, in the first two verses of the same epistle. The former the apostle calls his “fellow-labourer,” and the other his “fellow-soldier.” Which expressions imply personal acquaintance, and that they had laboured with him in the service of the gospel in some place. And what place can be so likely as Colosse? There are many, of whom St. Paul speaks in his epistles, as his “fellow-labourers,” or “fellow-helpers,” or “fellow-soldiers:” concerning whom it may be made to appear, that he and they had laboured together in some one place. And why then should these two be exceptions? Yea, it may be reckoned not improbable, that Archippus had been ordained by St. Paul himself an elder at Colosse. Whether Philemon likewise was an elder there, I do not say: though he may have been so. From all these considerations it appears to me very probable, that the church of Colosse had been planted by the apostle Paul, and that the christians there were his friends, disciples, and converts. And if the christians at Colosse were his converts, it may be argued, that so likewise were the christians at Laodicea and Hierapolis. None of which places were far asunder.
I. The antiquity, and the reason of that Denomination. II. Called also canonical. III. Concerning their reception in several ages. IV. Their order.
I. THERE are seven epistles, which we call catholic. The antiquity of this denomination may be made manifest from a few quotations. Eusebius, having given an account of the death of James called the Just, and our Lord’s brother, concludes: ‘Thus * far concerning this James, who is “ said to be the author of the first of the epistles called ‘ catholic.” In another place he says, “That" in his Insti“tutions Clement of Alexandria had given short explica‘tions of all the canonical scriptures, not omitting those ‘which are contradicted. I mean the epistle of Jude, and “ the other catholic epistles.’ They were so called therefore in the time of Eusebius, and probably before. Of which likewise we have good proof. For St. John's first epistle is several times called a catholic epistle by Origen, “ in his remaining Greek works, as well as in others. It is likewise" so called several times by Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria. Athanasius, Epiphanius, and later Greek writers, received seven epistles, which they called catholic. I only observe here farther, that they are so called likewise by * Jerom. They are called catholic, or universal, or general, because they are not written to the believers of some one city, or
* Petrus——scripsit duas epistolas, quae catholicæ nominantur. DeV. I. cap. i. Jacobus——unam tantum scripsit epistolam, quae de Septem catholicis est. Ib cap. 2.
Judas, frater Domini, parvam, quae de Septem catholicis est, epistolam reliquit. Ib. cap. 4.