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Biblical commentary on the New Testament, tr. from the Germ. Containing the Epistle of st. Paul to the Romans

by Hermann Olshausen

Excerpt:

B

only for this reason, that Paul did not write the latter until he was at Corinth on his third missionary journey. But Schrader's hypothesis, with respect to the epistles to the Galatians, is even more capricious. His assumed journey from Ephesus to Jerusalem is in fact supposed to be that mentioned, Galat. ii. 1, from which it would no doubt follow that the composition of the letter belongs to a much later period, since the Apostle, in the course of that chapter, mentions many other occurrences in his life. But the very circumstance that Barnabas accompanied the Apostle to Jerusalem, in the journey alluded to, Galat. ii. 1, whilst it is certain from the account in Acts xv. 36, etc., that they had parted from one another long before St Paul went to Ephesus, is a convincing argument against this wholly unfounded theory; and Schrader's assertion that the difference between St Paul and Barnabas had previously been made up is likewise founded upon mere hypothesis. For though I am very far from accounting for this separation, as Scholt appears to do (Erorterung, p. 64, etc.) by supposing a discrepancy in their views, and am much rather inclined to assume merely outward reasons as the cause of its continuance, yet the circumstance, that after Acts xv. 36, etc., Barnabas is no more mentioned in connection with St Paul, is decisive against Schrader's assumption.* But the arguments, which Schrader thinks he can adduce from the contents of the Epistle to the Galatians in favour of his hypothesis, are so completely overthrown by Scholt in detail (p. 65, etc.) that it is enough in this place to refer to the latter writer's treatise. Schrader thinks especially that he discovers in the passage, Galat. vi. 17, a declaration of the Apostle, that he is looking forward to the sentence of death, and, therefore, concludes that the composition of this letter must be referred to quite the end of St Paul's life. But how entirely unfounded is such an explanation of the text will appear hereafter from our commentary upon it. Kohler t also has made a similar attempt to refer the composition of the Epistle to the Galatians to a later period; but he does not understand the jour

* The passage 1 Cor. ix. 6, is the only one which appears to support a later coming together of Barnabas and St Paul; if we are not willing to admit that Barnabas was separated from St Paul in Corinth. He must, however, at all events have visited this city, according to the passage above quoted, after the foundation of the Christian community there.

t "Ub;r die Abfassungszeit der epistolischen Schrifteu des N. T." Leipz. 1830.

ney to Jerusalem mentioned in Galat. ii. 1, like Schrader, of a separate journey made from Ephesus, but thinks that he discovers in it the journey recorded in Acts xviii. 22. No doubt, as I have already endeavoured to represent as probable in my commentary on the passage, St Paul did visit Jerusalem about that time, (which Scholt is mistaken in denying, p. 37); but for the assumption that this journey is meant in Galat. ii. 1, there is not a shadow of proof; it is much more certain that it was that made from Aiitioch to the council of the Apostles, Acts xv. Much less however can we assent to Kohler's view, that St Paul first preached the gospel in Galatia on his journey through that province mentioned in Acts xviii. 23, since the words added in that passage, eiriarrjpifav Tovs fiaOrjrds, plainly express that the Apostle wished to confirm in the faith the churches which he had already founded in Galatia. (See Acts xvi. 6.) Since, moreover, this scholar can only give even a shadow of probability to his postponement of the composition of the epistle to the Galatians to the latest period of St Paul's life, by means of a conjecture and hypothesis heaped upon his first assumption, we cannot feel ourselves called upon by his arguments to depart from that order of succession of the epistles of St Paul, which is now almost universally received. This is connected in the following manner with the principal events of St Paul's life, according to the chronology which we have adopted from Hug; in this account, we must however, as we have already remarked, leave the pastoral epistles again untouched, because they present pe culiar difficulties as regards their insertion into the history of St Paul's life, and on that account demand a separate consideration. After St Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus, (about the year 36 after the birth of Christ), he went to Arabia, where he remained three years. (Galat. i. 17). After this he returned to Damascus, but in this city he was persecuted by the Jews, and only escaped to Jerusalem with extreme difficulty (2 Cor. xi, 32. Acts ix. 24, 25). On^this visit of St Paul to Jerusalem, Barnabas introduced the Apostle to St Peter and St James (Galat. i. 18, 19); he however only remained there fourteen days. On leaving Jerusalem, the Apostle repaired first to his native city Tarsus (Acts ix. 25, etc.), from whence Barnabas, who it appears was the first to discover his wonderful gift of teaching, fetched him away to Antioch, at which place, in the meantime, Christianity had also

begun to spread amongst the heathen. (Acts xi. 19). This hap pened about A.d. 42. St Paul and Barnabas had been teaching together about a year in Antioch when the great famine made its appearance in Palestine, in consequence of which they were both sent to Jerusalem (St Paul for the second time) as the bearers of a contribution to the necessities of the poor brethren at that place. Acts xi. 80. Perhaps, however, Paul himself did not go to Jerusalem, for it is not stated in the Acts that he did, and that difficult passage Galat. ii. 1, would render the supposition probable. After the accomplishment of this business, the people of Antioch expressed a wish that the Gospel might be preached to the Gentiles in other countries also. The elders of the church thereupon chose St Paul and Barnabas as their messengers to the heathen, and they accordingly entered upon their -first missionary journey (about A.d. 45). Their journey went first by Cyprus, through Pamphylia and Pisidia, and they then returned to Antioch by sea (Acts xiii. 5; xiv. 26). The time of their return it is just as impossible to determine with any certainty, as the length of their subsequent stay at Antioch (Acts xiv. 28). At the same time there can be no doubt that the third journey of St Paul to Jerusalem, occasioned by the disputes concerning the reception of Gentile converts into the Church, formed the conclusion of this residence (Galat. ii. 1). The apostles and the presbyters of the Church at Jerusalem examined into this question together, and, after hearing the reports of St Paul and Barnabas, decided in favour of the milder course, according to which the heathen were not obliged to submit to circumcision and observe the whole law. This important transaction, the so-called apostolic council (Acts xv.), happened A.d. 52 or 53. Immediately after the return of St Paul from Jerusalem to Antioch, about A.d. 53, he entered upon his second missionary journey, which he undertook in company with Silas. On this journey he first of all visited again the churches he had already planted, and then proceeded' to Galatia, and by Troas to Macedonia (Acts xvi. 9). Philippi was the first city of this ^country in which St Paul taught, but this place he was soon obliged to leave in consequence of a tumult stirred up against him by the employers of a female ventriloquist, and to betake himself to Thessalonica (Acts xvi. 12, etc.). The Apostle was only able to preach here a few weeks, yet even in this short time a Christian community was formed there. But a tumult occasioned by the Jews compelled St Paul soon to fly from Thessalonica, and to go to Athens byBerea, to which latter place his enemies continued to follow him (Acts xvii. 1). His companions, Silas and Timothy, he had left behind him at Berea, but soon called upon them to follow him to Athens, probably that he might obtain intelligence of the churches in Macedonia (Acts xvii. 15). However, he immediately despatched Timothy to Thessalonica, in order that he might establish in the faith that young and hardly pressed community (1 Thess. iii. 1). In the meantime the Apostle, after the dismissal of Timothy, left Athens, where he does not appear to have laboured long, and repaired to Corinth (Acts xviii. 1). Here he met with the famous Jewish family of Aquila and Priscilla, which had been expelled from Rome by Claudius; and as Aquila practised the same handicraft which St Paul had learnt, the latter undertook to work with him, and since his preaching produced great effect, remained there a year and a half. By means of the fact here mentioned, the expulsion of the Jews from Bome by Claudius, we also obtain pretty exact information with respect to the date of St Paul's residence at Corinth; it must have been in the year of our Lord 54 and 55. During this his stay at Corinth, it would appear that the Apostle commenced his labours as a writer, at least nothing remains to us of any letters which he may previously have indited. In fact, when Timothy had returned from his mission to Thessalonica, St Paul wrote his First Epistle to the Thessalonians, and soon afterwards the Second, likewise from Corinth. All his apostolical epistles belong, therefore, to the later and more mature period of his life, a circumstance which is certainly not to be regarded as accidental.


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