« PreviousContinue »
συγκοινωνοι μου της χάριτος, joint contributors to the gift which I have received."* Nothing more is said in this place. In the latter part of the second chapter, and at the distance of half the epistle from the last quotation, the subject appears again : “Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and companion in labour, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants : for he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick : for indeed he was sick nigh unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
I sent him therefore the more carefully, that when ye see him again ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation : because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me" (i. 25—30). The matter
ii is here dropped, and no farther mention made of it till it is taken up near the conclusion of the epistle as follows: “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity: not that I speak in respect of want; for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; every where and in all
* Pearce, I believe, was the first commentator who gave this sense to the expression ; and I believe also, that his exposition is now generally assented to. He interprets in the same sense the phrase in the fifth verse, which our translation renders, “ your fellowship in the gospel ;” but which in the original is not kouvwvią toû evayyeríov, or, κοινωνία εν τώ ευαγγελίω; but κοινωνία εις το ευαγγέλιον.
things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye, Philippians, know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only: for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity: not because I desire a gift; but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound; I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you” (iv. 10–18). To the Philippian reader, who knew that contributions were wont to be made in that church for the apostle's subsistence and relief, that the supply which they were accustomed to send to him had been delayed by the want of opportunity, that Epaphroditus had undertaken the charge of conveying their liberality to the hands of the apostle, that he had acquitted himself of this commission at the peril of his life, by hastening to Rome under the oppression of a grievous sickness; to a reader who knew all this beforehand, every line in the above quotations would be plain and clear. But how is it with a stranger? The knowledge of these several particulars is necessary to the perception and explanation of the references; yet that knowledge must be gathered from a comparison of passages lying at a great distance from one another. Texts must be interpreted by texts long subsequent to them, which necessarily produces embarrassment and suspense. The passage quoted from the beginning of the epistle contains an acknowledg
ment on the part of the apostle, of the liberality which the Philippians had exercised towards him; but the allusion is so general and indeterminate, that had nothing more been said in the sequel of the epistle, it would hardly have been applied to this occasion at all. In the second quotation, Epaphroditus is declared to have “ministered to the apostle's wants,” and “to have supplied their lack of service towards him :" but how, that is, at whose expense, or from what fund, he “ministered," or what was the “ lack of service” which he supplied, are left very
, much unexplained, till we arrive at the third quotation, where we find that Epaphroditus “ministered to St. Paul's wants,” only by conveying to his hands the contributions of the Philippians: "I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you;" and that “the lack of service which he supplied” was a delay or interruption of their accustomed bounty, occasioned by the want of opportunity; "I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again ; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.” The affair at length comes out clear; but it comes out by piecemeal. The clearness is the result of the reciprocal illustration of divided texts. Should any one choose therefore to insinuate, that this whole story of Epaphroditus, of his journey, his errand, his sickness, or even his existence, might, for what we know, have no other foundation than in the invention of the forger of the epistle; I answer, that a forger would have set forth his story connectedly, and also more fully and more perspicuously. If the epistle be authentic, and the transaction real, then every thing which is said concerning Epaphroditus and his commission, would be clear to those into whose hands the epistle was expected to come. Considering the Philippians as his readers, a person might naturally write upon the subject, as the author of the epistle has written; but there is no supposition of forgery with which it will suit.
No. II. The history of Epaphroditus supplies another observation: “Indeed he was sick, nigh unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.” In this passage, no intimation is given that Epaphroditus' recovery was miraculous. It is plainly, I think, spoken of as a natural event. This instance, together with one in the second epistle to Timothy (“ Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick”), affords a proof that the power of performing cures, and, by parity of reason, of working other miracles, was a power which only visited the apostles occasionally, and did not at all depend upon their own will. Paul undoubtedly would have healed Epaphroditus if he could. Nor, if the power of working cures had awaited his disposal, would he have left his fellow traveller at Miletum sick. This, I think, is a fair observation upon the instances adduced; but it is not the observation I am concerned to make. It is more for the purpose of my argument to remark, that forgery, upon such an occasion, would not have spared a miracle ; much less would it have introduced St. Paul professing the utmost anxiety for the safety of his friend, yet acknowledging himself unable to help him : which he does almost expressly, in the case of Trophimus, for he “left him sick;" and
virtually in the passage before us, in which he felicitates himself upon the recovery of Epaphroditus, in terms which almost exclude the supposition of any supernatural means being employed to effect it. This is a reserve which nothing but truth would have imposed.
No. III. Chap. iv. 15, 16: “Now ye, Philippians, know. also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only: for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity."
It will be necessary to state the Greek of this passage, because our translation does not, I think, give the sense of it accurately.
Οίδατε δε και υμείς, Φιλιππήσιοι, ότι εν αρχή του ευαγγελίου, ότε εξήλθον από Μακεδονίας, ουδεμία μοι εκκλησία εκοινώνησεν εις λόγoν δόσεως και λήψεως, ει μη υμείς μόνοι, ότι και εν Θεσσαλονίκη και άπαξ και δις εις την χρέιαν μοι επέμψατε.
The reader will please to direct his attention to the corresponding particles ότι and ότι και, which connect the words εν αρχή του ευαγγελίου, ότε εξλήθος από Μακεδονίας, with the words εν Θεσσαλονίκη, and denote, as I interpret the passage, two distinct donations, or rather donations at two distinct periods, one at Thessalonica, άπαξ και δις, the other after his departure from Macedonia, ότε εξλήθος από Μακεδονίας.* I would render the passage, so as to mark
* Luke ii. 15: Και εγένετο, ωσάπήλθον απ' αυτών εις τον ουρανόν οι άγγελοι, as the angels were gone away,” i.e. after their departure, οι ποιμένες είπον προς αλλήλους. Μatt. xii. 43: “Όταν δε το