صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Barnabás deserves a distinguished place among those whose labours were rendered instrumental for the conversion of the Gentiles. Some suppose him to have been the same with Joseph, surnamed Justus and Barsabas, candidate with Matthias for the apostolic office; and the authority of a various reading in the Cambridge manuscript favours this opinion. He was a Cyprian Levite of distinguished liberality, who sold his paternal estate, and placed the produce in the hands of the apostles; and received, from his disposition to comfort the afflicted, the surname of Barnabas, the son of consolation. [Acts iv. 36, 37.] He is asserted, by antient authors, to have been one of the seventy disciples. He became acquainted with Paul soon after the conversion of that eminent servant of God, and took pains to introduce him to the apostles, who were afraid to associate with him on account of his former enmity to the cause of Christ. [Acts ix. 27.] Whether he was an old acquaintance of Paul, or had been informed concerning him by Ananias, or some other Christian at Damascus, or whether he acted thus by the especial direction of the Spirit of God, is utterly uncertain. He was sent by the apostles and elders from Jerusalem to Antioch, after that they had received the pleasing intelligence of the work of God in that city; soon after which he went to Tarsus in Cilicia to find Paul, that he might have the benefit of his labours in that important station of usefulness in which he was now placed. [Acts xi. 22..26.] After he had resided about a year at Antioch, in which his labours, with those of Paul, were attended with great success, these two holy men were made the bearers of a present to the saints at Jerusalem. [Acts xi. 30.] From this time, Barnabas and Paul continued to labour together, until a dispute arising between them respecting their taking John Mark on a journey with them, they agreed to separate, and Barnabas employed himself more particularly for the benefit of his native country, the island of Cyprus. There is every reason to believe, from the friendly mention which Paul makes of Mark, that this breach was afterwards closed, and that the most cordial union subsisted between them. Further particulars of his life are unknown. Dr. Lardner inclines to think him the author of an epistle which bears his name, but which was not reckoned among apostolical writings, because he had not received a commission immediately from Jesus Christ.

The history of Apollos is chiefly given in the eighteenth chapter of the Acts. We are there informed, that while Paul was employed in diffusing the light of the gospel through several provinces of the Lesser Asia, a certain Jew, whose name was Apollos, a native of Alexandria in Egypt, an eloquent man, and powerful in the scriptures of the Old Testament, which he had diligently studied, and had an excellent faculty of expounding, came to Ephesus. This person was, in some measure, already instructed in the way of the Lord; and, being fervent in spirit, and earnestly desirous to promote the progress of the truth and the conversion of souls, he spake and taught the things of the Lord with great accuracy and exactness, to the best of his knowledge, though as yet he had but an imperfect knowledge of the gospel, being only acquainted with the baptism of John; so that he insisted upon the doctrine of repentance and faith in a Messiah, who was quickly to be revealed, for the reception of whom he shewed that it was necessary they should have their hearts prepared. And, to this purpose, he began to speak boldly in the synagogue, pleading the cause of God and real vital religion with an earnestness becoming the importance of the subject, as well as reproving the Jews for those evils which were so commonly found among them, and battering down those vain hopes which, as the seed of Abraham and disciples of Moses, they were so ready to entertain. And Aquila and Priscilla being then at Ephesus, and hearing him express so upright and so good a spirit, were desirous to promote his further improvement in knowledge and usefulness, and accordingly they took him

with them to their house, and there explained to him the way of God in a more c. mplete and perfect manner.

And shortly after, when he intended to go over to Achaia, that he might preach the word at Corinth, and other places in that province, the brethren at Ephesus wrote to the disciples there, exhorting them to receive him with all affection and respect, as a person whose character well deserved it. And being arrived there, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace, and was evidently serviceable in establishing and confirming those who had embraced the gospel. For he strenuously debated with the Jews, and that in the most public manner, and upon all proper occasions; making it evident, and clearly shewing by the scriptures, not only that a glorious spiritual deliverer was there foretold, but that Jesus of Nazareth, though so ungratefully treated by their rulers at Jerusalem, was, and is indeed the only true Messiah; so that the salvation of men depends upon receiving and submitting to him.

He is supposed by Locke to have been the false apostle who troubled the Corinthiau church; but in this opinion we cannot concur, as he is mentioned respectfully in the epistle to Titus.

The following brief history of the evangelist Timothy is given by Dr. Macknight. Paul and Barnabas, in the course of their first apostolical journey among the Gentiles, having come to Lystra, a city of Lycaonia, in the lesser Asia, [Acts xiv. 6.] preached there some time, and converted a pious Jewish woman, named Lois, with her daughter Eunice, whose husband, it is thought, was then dead. [2 Tim. i. 5.] Soon after this, Timothy, Eunice's son, who had been brought up by his mother and grandmother in the Jewish religion, and in the knowledge of the scriptures, [2 Tim. iii. 15.] being greatly affected by the apostles' discourses, believed. From the time of his conversion, Timothy made such proficiency in the knowledge of the gospel, and was so remarkable for the sanctity of his manners, as well as for his zeal in the cause of Christ, that he attracted the esteem of all the brethren in those parts. Accordingly, when the apostle came from Antioch in Syria to Lystra the second time, they so praised Timothy, that, him would Paul have to go forth with him. [Acts xvi. 2, 3.] The testimony of the brethren, however, was not the only reason of this choice. Timothy was pointed out as a fit person to be ordained an evangelist, by a revelation made either to Paul himself, or to some of the Christian prophets in Lystra. [1 Tim. i. 18.] In the mean time, Timothy, though a Jew, not having been circumcised by reason that his father was a Greek, or Gentile, it was proper he should bear that mark of his descent; because, without it, the Jews would have looked on him as a Gentile, and have despised his instructions. This, and not any opinion that circumcision was necessary to salvation, determined the apostle to propose, and Timothy to receive, the rite by which the Jews, from the earliest times, had been distinguished from the rest of mankind. Afterwards, the eldership at Lystra, the more strongly to impress Timothy with a sense of the importance of the function he had undertaken, solemnly set him apart to the office of an evangelist by the laying on of their hands, [1 Tim. iv. 14.] and by prayer. This was followed by the laying on of the apostle's hands, for the purpose of communicating to Timothy the gifts of the Holy Ghost. [2 Tim. i. 6.]

Timothy, thus prepared to be the apostle's fellow-labourer in the gospel, accompanied him and Silas when they visited the churches of Phrygia, and delivered to them the decrees of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem, freeing the Gentiles from the law of Moses, as a term of salvation. Having gone through these countries, they, at length, came to Troas, where Luke joined them, as appears from the phraseology of his history. [Acts xvi. 10, 11, &c.] In Troas, a vision appeared to Paul, directing them to go into Macedonia. Loosing, therefore, from Troas, they all passed over to Neapolis,

and from thence went to Philippi, as appears from his changing the phraseology of his history at verse 40. We may therefore suppose, that, at their departing, they committed the converted at Philippi to Luke's care. In Thessalonica, they were opposed by the unbelieving Jews, and obliged to flee to Berea, whither the Jews from Thessalonica followed them. To elude their rage, Paul, who was most obnoxious to them, departed from Berea by night to go to Athens, leaving Silas and Timothy in Berea. At Athens, Timothy came to the apostle, and gave him such an account of the afflicted state of the Thessalonian brethren, as induced him to send Timothy back to comfort them. After that, Paul preached at Athens; but with so little success, that he judged it proper to leave Athens, and go forward to Corinth, where Silas and Timothy came to him, and assisted in converting the Corinthians. And when he left Corinth, they accompanied him first to Ephesus, then to Jerusalem, and after that to Antioch in Syria. Having spent some time in Antioch, Paul set out with Timothy on his third apostolical journey, in which, after visiting all the churches of Galatia and Phrygia in the order in which they had been planted, they came to Ephesus the second time, and there abode long. In short, from the time Timothy first joined the apostle as his assistant, he never left him, except when sent by him on some special errand. And, by his affection, fidelity, and zeal, he so recommended himself to all the disciples, and acquired such authority among them, that Paul inserted his name in the inscription of several of the letters which he wrote to the churches, to shew that their doctrine was one and the


Some account of the first epistle of Timothy has been given in a preceding chapter, where also it was observed, that the second epistle was written to him by Paul a little before the martyrdom of that apostle. We are not furnished with any further authentic accounts of this evangelist's history.

The second epistle to Timothy, being written by Paul to an intimate friend and companion in the work of the gospel, under the miseries of a jail, and in the near prospect of death, it is natural to think, that if the facts which he had every where preached concerning Christ had been falsehoods, and the gospel scheme of salvation which he and his brethren apostles had built thereon had been a delusion, he would, at such a time as this, have made reparation to mankind for the injury he had done them, in persuading them to believe on Jesus of Nazareth, for whose name so many had already suffered, and were likely to suffer death; and that he would have made this reparation, by acknowledging to Timothy, that the things which he had related concerning the character, miracles, and resurrection of Jesus were fables; and by ordering him to undeceive the world. Or if vanity, or regard to his own fame, or obstinacy in wickedness, or any other cause, prevented him from doing justice to the world and to truth, it might have been expected, that, in this private correspondence with so intimate a friend and associate, some expression would by accident have dropped from his pen, betraying the falsehood and wickedness of the cause they were engaged in; or that some word or circumstance would have escaped him which might have led to a discovery of the fraud.

Nothing, however, of either kind appears throughout the whole epistle. On the contrary, almost every sentence in it exhibits the most unambiguous proofs of the apostle's strong conviction of the truth of our Lord's pretensions, and of all the things he had told concerning him. For example, he begins his letter with affirming, that, by preaching the gospel, he served the God of his forefathers with a pure conscience; and says he thanked God, in his private prayers, continually for Timothy's faithfulness in preaching the gospel. Then ordered him to stir up the spiritual gift which he had conferred on him, and to be courageous in the work he was engaged in; because

[ocr errors]

the effect of that gift was not to fill those who possessed it with fear, but with courage and love, and self-government, and not to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor of me, said he, the Lord's prisoner; but to suffer evil jointly with me for the gospel, of which I am an herald, and for which I suffer such things. Next, he expressed the highest satisfaction in suffering for Christ; because he knew he was really the Son of God, and would reward him in the end. And ordered Timothy to guard, by the power of the Holy Ghost which dwelt in him, the good doctrine concerning Christ, which had been committed to him in trust; and to be strong in the honourable office of an evangelist, which was bestowed on him; and to deliver all the particulars of the doctrine concerning Christ which he had heard from the apostle, confirmed by many witnesses, to faithful men capable of teaching that doctrine to others, that it might be continued to the end and more especially to publish and affirm every where that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead, and thereby proved to be the Son of God; for preaching which facts he was himself now suffering as a malefactor, even unto bonds. But he told him it was not in the power of the enemies of the gospel to keep it in bonds: do what they would, they could not hinder it from being preached, and believed in the world. And, with respect to himself, he assured Timothy, that he suffered imprisonment and every evil patiently and with the greatest joy for the gospel; because he knew that if he were put to death with Christ, he should also be raised from the dead with him, and reign with him in the life to come. Whereas, any preacher of the gospel, who, from the love of ease, or the fear of death, either concealed or denied the things concerning the Lord Jesus, him will Christ deny at the day of judgment. Then charged Timothy to put the teachers at Ephesus iù mind of these things; and, in the mean time, to strive to present himself to God an approved unashamed workman in the gospel. And, being deeply impressed with a sense of the importance of the gospel doctrine to the happiness of the world, the apostle severely condemned two false teachers whom he mentioned by name, whose corrupt doctrine concerning Christ, he told Timothy, was as destructive to the souls of men as a gangrene is to their bodies. What stronger proofs can any one desire of the apostle's sincerity in the things which he preached? If he had been carrying on an imposture, would not these wicked teachers, one of whom he had enraged by delivering him to Satan for blaspheming Christ, have published the imposture to the world? In the mean time, that Timothy and others might not entertain harsh thoughts of God for permitting corrupt teachers to arise in his church, he told him, that in a church, as in a great house, there are vessels appointed to a dishonourable use; thereby insinuating, that these corrupt teachers, when driven out of the church for wicked practices, not being able to make any discoveries to the prejudice of the gospel, or of its ministers, that circumstance, though originating in the vices of these men, and dishonourable to them, was a strong proof of the truth of the gospel, and of the sincerity of its ministers in what they preached. Next, that Timothy might not follow the corrupt teachers, but strenuously oppose them, the apostle commanded him to flee youthful lusts, and to practise assiduously the duties of piety and morality; and put him in mind that the servant of the Lord must use no violent nor improper methods with those who oppose themselves, but be gentle to all men, meekly instructing the enemies of the gospel, if by any means God will give them repentance. And, that posterity might have undoubted evidence of the apostle's inspiration, he foretold the state in which the church would be in after ages, through the base practices of hypocritical teachers but that a stop would, in due time, be put to their delusions. Then, conscious of his own faithfulness as an apostle, he appealed to Timothy's perfect knowledge of his doctrine, his manner of life, his purpose in teaching that doctrine, the virtues which

he exercised, and the persecutions which he suffered for the gospel, particularly at Antioch, Iconium, aud Lystra; but God delivered him out of them all; so that if Timothy shewed himself equally faithful, he might expect the like deliverances. Having further informed him that all who adhered to truth should suffer persecution, he charged him, notwithstanding, to continue in the profession of the things which he had learned of him, and been assured of, knowing from whom he had learned them, and that they were agreeable to the antient scriptures, in the knowledge and belief of which he had been educated from, his childhood. Then he solemnly charged him, in the presence of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, the judge of the world, to preach all the things which he had mentioned, without considering whether the doing so was seasonable or unseasonable with respect to himself; because the church was soon to lose the benefit of the apostle's labours, the time of his departure being nearly come. This charge the apostle accompanied with a high expression of joy, on the reflection that he had fought the good fight, had finished the race, had preserved the faith, and was sure of a crown of righteousness from Christ, his Master, at the day of judg ment. And, to encourage Timothy to follow his example, he informed him, that though no man appeared with him when he made his first answer, yet the Lord Jesus stood by him, and strengthened him to declare boldly the doctrine concerning the salvation of the Gentiles by faith; and that though he had no hope of deliverance at the tribunal of Cæsar, yet he knew that Christ would deliver him from betraying his cause, and from every evil work, and would preserve him safe to his heavenly kingdom. In which persuasion, he directed to him a doxology, which, on other occasions, he ascribed to God the Father.

These strong asseverations of the truth of those things which he had uniformly preached, these earnest charges to Timothy to preach the same things plainly to the world, these high expressions of joy in the sufferings which he had endured for preaching them, and these confident expectations which he expressed of receiving a full reward in the life to come, being the apostle's dying words to his intimate friend, conveyed in a private letter, no judge of human nature can read them without feeling a strong conviction that the apostle was thoroughly persuaded of the things which be had constantly preached without the least variation. And, seeing the most important of these were facts which he had learned from his own senses and experience, such as the appearing of Christ to him on the road to Damascus, his endowing him with supernatural powers, his revealing to him the particulars of his history and of the gospel doctrine, and his having been enabled to persuade multitudes in many countries to embrace and profess the gospel, is such a proof of the reality of these facts, and of the truth of the gospel: history, as can never be shaken.

Titus is mentioned by Eusebius as the bishop of Crete. He is not once mentioned by Luke in his book of the Acts; so that his history must consist of such particulars as are related of him in the apostle Paul's epistles, where, indeed, he is often mentioned with great respect, and of such probable conjectures as these particulars naturally suggest.

That Titus was converted by Paul, appears from his calling him his own son in the common faith. [Tit. i. 1.] Yet at: what time, and in what place Paul converted him, he hath no where told us. They who think Titus was a religious proselyte before his conversion, are of opinion that he was converted at Antioch, soon after Paul and Barnabas came to that city from Tarsus, as mentioned Acts xi. 25. But others, supposing him to have been originally anidolatrous Gentile, conjecture that his conversion bappened in some of the countries of the Lesser Asia, through which Paul travelled in the course of his first apostolical journey, the history of which is given Acts xiii. xiv.

« السابقةمتابعة »