Thomas Chalmers

Lectures on Romans

ROMANS xvi "I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea that ye receive her in the church as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well beloved Epenatus, who is the first fruits of Achaia unto Christ. Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us. Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord. Sa1ute Urbane our helper in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. Salute Appelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus household. Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord. Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persia, which laboured much in the Lord. Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. Salute Asyneritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them. Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them. Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our, Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; -and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For our obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. Timotheus my work-fellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you. I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord. Gaius, mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelatiou of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, nade known to all nations for the obedience of faith: to God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen."

This whole chapter, filled with the salutations of respect and cordiality - not only from Paul direct to his correspondents, but from the friends and companions who were with Paul to those whom he was addressing - evinces how much Christianity is fitted to promote the interchange of such feelings between man and man. We are here presented with the form and homages of our own modern politeness, animated by the spirit and sincerity of the gospel - forms which, though but in themselves the dry bones of Ezekiel's vision, are yet befitting vehicles for the best and highest of our mutual affections, after that the breath of life has been infused into them. Altogether we hold this chapter to be a singularly valuable document - as proving how capable the usages of a Christian church are of being amalgamated with the graces, and the amenities, and the complimentary expressions of the every-day intercourse that takes place in general Society.

Ver. 2. 'I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: that ye receive her in the Lord; as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.'
And here too we are presented with another most useful indication - the employment of female agency, under the eye and with the sanction of an apostle, in the business of a church. It is well to have inspired authority for a practice too little known and too little proceeded on in modern times. Phebe belonged to the order of deaconesses - in which capacity she had been the helper of many, including Paul himself. In what respect she served them is not particularly specified. Like the women in the Gospels who waited upon oux Saviour she may have ministered to them of her substance - though there can be little doubt, that as the holder, of an official station in their church, she ministered to them of her services also. They to whom she was commended by Paul were to receive her as becometh saints, or with all that respect and delicacy which were due to a Christian female; and also to render her all that assistance which her business, not here specified, might require at their hands.

Ver. 3, 4. 'Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus; who have for life laid down their own necks: unto who not only I give thanks, but also all the church of the Gentiles.'
Aquila and Priscilla must this time have been at Rome. They had formerly been at Corinth, where Paul was their guest, and then at Ephesus, whither they accompanied Paul, and where he left them - to which place they afterwards returned, if we may conclude from the salutation sent to them from Rome by Paul, in his letter to Timothy, when he was bishop of the Ephesians. Both at Corinth and Ephesus they had been the helpers of Paul in Christ Jesus - his helpers, we presume, chiefly in things temporal - at least not in spiritual things, as they had been to Apollos, when they expounded to him the way of God more perfectly. Our great apostle did not require this at their hands - yet may they have been of most important use to him even as the ministers of holy things, in refreshing and confirming the souls of his disciples. And here it should be remarked, that Priscilla, the wife of Aquilla, is joined to him in this work, seeing they are both represented in the book of Acts as contributing to the further instruction of Apollos, even after that he had signalised himself by his might in the Scriptures, and his eloquence in speaking the things of the Lord. Much more then might she be qualified to officiate as a teacher of her own sex, and more particularly of children. We cannot think then that the service of females in the Christian church was restricted to the mere office of deaconeses, who ministered to the sick and the destitute. They also laboured in a higher vocation; and should be enlisted still in the business of a parish, as most invaluable auxiliaries in dispensing both religious comfort and religious instruction, within such spheres as might with all fitness and propriety be assigned to them. In particular, they will be found the most efficient of all civilisers among the families of a now outlandish, because heretofore neglected population - and this whether as the visitors of sewing and reading, or as themselves the teachers of Sabbath-schools - Or in the former capacity as the patronesses of week-day and common, and in the latter the direct agents of christian education.

It appears that Aquila and Priscilla had exposed their own lives to jeopardy for the safety of Paul's. The special occasion on which this took place is not certainly known. There is abundant evidence of their having both had a will to have braved this hazard at any time for the sake of their beloved apostle. And we can be at no loss to imagine a way in which this might have been brought to the proof, when we read of the insurrection at Corinth against Paul, where Aquila and Priscilla both were; and whence they accompanied him to Ephesus, where they probably were also, at the time when such a fearful outbreak was made upon him in that city by a riotous and enraged multitude. Whatever the occasion was on which they thus signalised themselves, it must have been some signal deliverance or service to Paul of which they were the instruments, that called forth so memorable an expression of gratitude, not alone from Paul individually, but probably and with open manifestation from all the churches.

Ver. -5. 'Likewise greet the church that is in their house.'
It would appear from this, that in these days, Christian congregations met and had their religious services done to them in dwellinghouses. It was the practice for Aquila and Priscilla to have a church in their house elsewhere too - as here in Rome, and also in Asia, when Paul wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians, and sends the church there a salutation from the church held in the house ofthese devoted followers of our Lord. We have traces of the same practice in other places of the New Testament. "Salute Nymphas and the church which is in his house." "Paul unto Philemon, and to the Church in thy house."Then follows a list of salutations, in the course of which some brief notices are given as if casually and incidentally, yet which are by no means devoid of interest. As when he salutes Epenetus, he signalises him by an epithet - well-beloved - Which marks him out as an object of the apostle's special and superlative affection. It is like the love which one has for a first-born - he having been the first of Paul's spiritual children in Achaia. It is true that the house of Stephanas is elsewhere termed the first-fruits of Achaia. It is possible that Epenetus may have been of the household of Stephanas, or at all events may have been converted at the same time, or time of the first conversion which took place in Achaia under Paul's ministry. Some critics find an explanation in the circumstance that there are Greek manuscripts which present us with Asia instead of Achaia.

We also gather from this enumeration additional evidence for the agency of females in these days - of Mary, who bestowed much labour as well as Tryphena and Tryphosa, who laboured; and Persis, who laboured much in the Lord. This may have, been the labour of mere deaconship - as that of Stephanas was at the time when he was the bearer of a supply for the apostle's wants, and of whole family it is said that they addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints. It may however have been more than this - a ministration in spiritual as well as temporal good things. The passage before is scarcely allows of any specific determination on this point. To labour in the Lord gives no decision. To assist the disciples of Christ in things, necessary for the present life is part of that labour in the Lord which shall not be in vain. " In as much as ye have done it unto one of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." We may here add, that in the 6th verse there occurs a variation of reading - some manuscripts bearing that Mary bestowed much labour among you, instead of on us. That is, she may have been helpful to the members of the church, whether spiritually or temporally; or in the latter of these two senses, may have been helpful to Paul himself.

Ver. 7.
We have no taste for ascertaining that which the Bible has left uncertain, and on which ecclesiastical antiquity throws no light whatever. Why supersaturate the world with conjectures on matters which have no ground of evidence to stand upon - as whether Andronicus and Junia were man and wife; whether Junia was not Julia, or if she was a woman at all; whether they were claimed by Paul as of kin to himself, because Israelites, or because of still nearer affinity; whether they were of note among the apostles, because, being converted before Paul, they might have been of the seventy disciples; and lastly, what the occasion of their imprisonment along with the apostle. Enough for us the generalities of Scripture, which are at the same time of themselves sufficiently interesting.

Ver. 8. 'Beloved in the Lord.'
This expression denotes a purely spiritual relationship, as distinguished from the natural relationship adverted to in the preceding verse. The two verses together suggest the two distinct grounds on which one might be the object of affection. Both might be united in the same person; and this reminds us of what Paul says respecting Onesimus, that he should be received by Philemon as a brother beloved, "both in the flesh and in the Lord." It is pleasing to observe the former of these two affections thus legitimised by the apostle - or the sanction given by him to the natural as well as spiritual love - to the love of friendship and relationship, as well as that love of Christians which is emphatically termed the love of the brethren, and is singled out by St. John as an evidence of our having passed from death unto life.

Ver. 9.
'Our helper in Christ.'
This expression, even in our English Bible, powerfully suggests that the help given by Urbane to Paul was in his apostolic work. But the original fixes this more surely. He was the fellow-worker of the apostle.

Ver. 10.
'Approved in Christ' - or found. He was one of those whom Paul here distinguishes by the special proof which he had given of his discipleship.

Ver. 11.
'Which are in the Lord.'
This adjunct to the household of Narcissus, and not of Aristobulus, would imply that only a part of Narcissus family had been converted - whereas all of the other household had been turned to the faith. We may here observe, that Paul confines these salutations only to brethren in Christ - though none more courteous than he to them who were without. His were not common letters, but written for the use of the churches.

Ver. 13.
'Chosen in the Lord.'
Elect - it is not said beloved, as with many of the others. The two expressions harmonise. They who are loved now were loved before the foundation of the world. They who were loved then, are loved even unto the end. 'His mother and mine.' The mother of Rufus by birth, of Paul by affection - a claim of relationship by which he delicately and beautifully propounds the love that he bore to her. Rufus is understood to have been the son of Simon, who was compelled to bear the cross of our Saviour.

We may close these remarks, by observing that these names are not without their use - in clearing up certain points, or at least furnishing ground for certain plausible conjectures, both in the evangelic and in ecclesiastical history. As an example of the latter, there is no reason for doubting the testiniony of the ancients - that the Hermas to whom Paul here sends his respects, is identical with the apostolic father of that name, whose works have come down to us. For specimens of the help which these names afford, in establishing certain connections and references - so as to harmonise some of the distant places and passages of the New Testament, and thus elicit a confirmatory evidence for the truth of the evangelic story, see Dr. Paleys Horin Pauline.

Ver. 16.
'Salute one another with an holy kiss.'
The customary method of salutation in these days - exchanged, however, only between those of the same sex. It is remarkable that, by the testimony of Suetonius, an edict was published by one of the Roman emperors for the abolition of this practice among his subjects - perhaps in order to check abuses, for the prevention of which our apostle enjoins that it shall be a holy salutation. It is a custom advrted to in other places of the New Testament.
"The churches of Christ salute you" - Those churches probably to whom he had made known his purpose of writing to the church at Rome - whose faith was spoken of throughout the whole world. We might well imagine the satisfaction which would be spread abroad among the disciples everywhere, when they heard of the progress which Christianity was making in the metropolis of the empire; and with what cordiality they would send their gratulations to the believers there.

Ver. 17.
' Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offcnces contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.'
Paul recurs to the topic of his unceasing earnestness and desire - the peace or unanimity of the church. He had just finished a long series of salutations, and enjoined them to exchange these tokens of mutual affection with each other - when, as if the more strikingly to mark his adverse feeling towards the authors and promoters of dissension in their society, he points them out as men, with whom, instead of the signs or interchanges of regard, they were to hold no fellowship. He who before had told them whom they were to receive, now tells them whom they are to reject or avoid. The doctrine which they had just learned from him was that of forbearance, one for another, in the matter of certain Jewish observances - the doctrine of that charity which endureth all things, save that spirit which is hostile to its own, and wherewith it must ever be, at antipodes. For them who caused divisions, such as the judaising teachers who would have forced their own burdensome ritual on all the converts; or for them who caused offences, such as those Gentile believers, who, in the wantonness of their liberty, cared not to insult and to wound the consciences of their weaker brethren - for neither of these could our apostle feel the slightest complacency or toleration. They were marked men in his estimation - notorious in the sinister sense of the term: And it strongly evinces the value that he had for unbroken concord in every Christian society - when, in point both of reckoning and treatment, he puts these disturbers of the peace on the same level with those profligates whom he would cast out from the attentions of all the brethren.

Ver. 18. '
For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.'
He obviously refers here to the judaising teachers - because to them who deceived the hearts of the simple, that is, of the scrupulous or weak, who refrained from meats, and attached a religious importance to the eating of herbs. There were false teachers in these days, to whose inroads the earlier churches stood peculiarly exposed. They practised on those of a tender conscience, making a trade as it were of their superstitious fears; and made unhallowed use of the ill-gotten ascendancy which they obtained over them. Their object, as the apostle here tells us, was not to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, but to make out a lazy and luxurious livelihood for themselves - and that at the expence of those, whom by good words and fair speeches they had deceived. No wonder that the noble, manly, disinterested Paul, and withal so jealous as he was for the maintenance of the pure truth of the gospel, should, on so many occasions, have protested with such vigour and vehemence against them. It is of such that he seems to speak in Philippians, iii, 18, 19, where he denounces the enemies of the cross of Christ, "whose god is their belly;" and in Gal. vi, 1 2 - where he tells of those who "desire to make a fair show." They were the troublers of whom he desired that they should even be cut off - the perverters of the gospel of Christ, who preached another gospel, and whom he pronounces to be accursed. These deceivers were specially of the circumcision, who subverted whole houses, and taught things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. We can quite imagine them to be of that sort who entered into houses and led captive silly women. Our knowledge of such characters and such doings furnishes a clue to the explanation of other passages. They were of such impostors that Peter speaks, and who seem to have taken a most shameful advantage over their dupes or victims - " beguiling unstable souls" - given to "covetous practices" - " sporting themselves with their own deceivings, while feasting" with the deceived - and "speaking great swelling words of vanity."

And so also Jude, in exhorting the disciples to whom he wrote, that "they should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints," describes to us the men against whom that contest had to be maintained - " men crept in unawares," and "who run greedily after the error of Balaam for reward " - who having insinuated themselves into the society of the faithful, feasted among them without fear - who with their mouths spake great swelling words, and flattered men for their own advantage.

Ver. 19
. 'For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. '
What he had before said of their faith, he now says of their obedience, that it was spoken of everywhere. He is anxious therefore that they should not tarnish their fair fame - for certain it is that from the ready and general intercourse which subsisted between Rome and all parts of the empire, the story of their degeneracies would as speedily go abroad as did that of the virtues and graces by which they adorned their profession of the gospel. He rejoices in the praise which they had earned from all the churches; but proportional would be his grief should they ever forfeit the reputation which they had acquired. He does not express, however, the same doubt or diffidence of them which he did of the Galatians - yet for their greater security he cautions them to be wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. This last injunction is analogous to that given by our Saviour to those disciples whom he sent forth as "lambs in the midst of wolves." "Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." But though analogous, it does not seem to be identical. The apostles of our Lord needed the wisdom of the serpent for their protection from the wiles of their skilful and practised adversaries, who knew, for they had made a study of it, how best to circumvent and distress their victims. And they were harmless as doves, because they neither felt the disposition, nor had ever cultivated the art of malice. It is thus that they might be wise in one thing and simple in another; and the application of these qualities to the case before us seems to have lain - First in ability to discriminate what was really and essentially good from that, which but claimed or pretended to be so, in virtue of which they cleaved to the one and rejected the other - Secondly in abstaining from all fellowship, and so having no knowledge of their ways, with those deep and mischievous designers who could so sophisticate and so counterfeit evil as to make it pass for that which was good - imposing on their deluded followers, by a show of will-worship and zeal for the law, to the utter subversion of the gospel of Christ. By the first they were men in understanding - proving all things, and holding fast that which is good. By the second they were children in malice - strangers to its wishes, and therefore unskilled in its methods or its ways.

Ver. 20.
'And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.'
A good many manuscripts, and even a warrantable translation of the received reading, would authorise our turning this clause from a prophecy into a prayer - May the God of peace bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The reference by the apostle to the great adversary of human souls was very naturally suggested by the view he was then taking of those false teachers, whom he elsewhere designates as the ministers of Satan transformed into angels of light. And the terms in which the prayer or prophecy is couched, is precisely such as would be suggested by the prediction in Genesis, iii, 15, "It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." He is the great author of all confusion and controversy in our churches: And the achievement proper to the God of peace, or to His Son, who came to destroy the works of the devil, would be to trample them under foot, and so evolve harmony and order out of all the disturbances by which he retards, though unable to prevent, the final establishment of the triumph of Christ over all His enemies. The invocation for His grace to be with them comes in most appropriately - seeing that this is indeed the great instrument of Satan's overthrow - the Spirit who is at the giving of Christ, being the alone victor over the spirit which worketh in the children of disobedience - the spirit of him who is the god of this world.

"Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world." It is not unworthy of notice that this Epistle to the Romans seems to have had three distinct conclusions. The first is at the end of the 15th chapter, where the last verse is quite in the form of a valedictory invocation; but, just as if before the letter had been sent off, there had occurred time enough for the subjoining of something more, we find the apostle adding the salutations of the 16th chapter, from the first to the sixteenth verse. As he had recurred to the letter for the purpose of sending these salutations, he is revisited while in the act of penning or rather of dictating them, with that desirousness which he felt so strongly for the peace of the church at Rome: And this occasions a prolongation of the letter from the 16th to the 20th verse, which he concludes with a second farewell salutation - The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. After this, and with the benefit of a further allowance of time ere the messenger was despatched, there seems to be a second postscript of more salutations which occupy three verses, from the 20th to the 24th - where a third valedictory, the last of all, concludes the epistle.

Ver. 21 - 23.
Here follow the salutations, not from Paul himself to the individuals whom he names - these he had finished already; nor yet from the churches at large, which also had been given; but from certain Christian friends who were with him, and were desirous of sending through him their respects to the whole church at Rome. In the 21st verse, there occur two remarkable scriptural names - Timothy, who by the consent of all is he to whom he addressed the two epistles; and Lucius, who though regarded by some as Lucius of Cyrene, is, by far the greater number of critics, and with more probability, reckoned to be Luke the Evangelist, author of the Gospel and Acts, and the fellow-traveller of Paul. We leave the question undecided, whether the kinsmen here mentioned were nearer relatives, or only Israelites, whom the apostle elsewhere calls his kinsmen according to the flesh. In the 22nd verse Paul suspends his dictation, and lets his own amanuensis interpose a salutation from himself to the church at Rome. In his first epistle to the Corinthians he also suspends his dictation; and, taking up the pen himself, writes - "The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand." Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, mentioned in the 23rd verse, is with good reason conceived to be the Gaius of Corinth whom Paul had baptized; from which city this epistle was written. Paul was at that time an inmate of his house; and he takes occasion to make honourable mention of his hospitality to Christians at large - a frequent and most useful virtue, being much called for by the exigencies of the times. Erastus the chamberlain, or city treasurer of Corinth, is an example, that though not many of wealth or high station, yet that some such had become obedient to the faith. As we have just stated that this epistle was written from Corinth, we might give a specimen of the way in which this is reasoned out - or of the kind of data on which such a conclusion is supported. - Paul commends Phebe, who seems to have been sent with the epistle, to the church at Rome. She was a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea, the port of Corinth, and a few miles distant from it. Then Gaius is the host of Paul; and Gaius was baptized by Paul at Corinth. Then Erastus is chamberlain of the city, which he does not name. It must have been a well-known city therefore; and in all likelihood this capital of Achaia.
Lastly, Erastus, we are told in 2 Tim. iv, 20, abode at Corinth - though probably often absent from it, as to all appearance he was a fellow-helper of Paul, and at times accompanied him in his travels.

Ver. 24 - 27.
'The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: to God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.'

The final benediction of Paul comes at last, and closes the epistle. It begins with a repetition of the same which he had already given in the 20th verse - imploring upon them all the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. What remains is in the general an ascription of glory to the Father of our Lord - but it is of such a complicated and parethetic structure, as to require some attention for unravelling the several topics which are involved in it. 'To him that is of power to stablish you.' This clause is suspended in Paul's own frequent and characteristic way, by the interposal of other matter suggested at the time; and which if removed would connect immediately the words now given with those of the 27th verse. To him that is of power to stablish you to God only wise, &c. The contiguity only, not the connection, of these two clauses is broken up by what comes between them. To him that is of power; or as Jude says in his closing benediction - " To him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless." To establish a man in the faith is to make him stand fast therein - so as that he shall not fall, or "fall away." It is well thus to connect our perseverance with the power of God. He who hath begun the good work, can alone confirm and perfect it. It is by a perpetual reference therefore, in prayer to Him, and for the strengthening influences of His Spirit, that grace is alimented in the heart. Let him who thinketh he standeth, thus take heed lest he fall. Let him work out his salvation with fear and trembling, because sensible of his own weakness, and so having no confidence in himself. Yet let him mix with his trembling mirth - because rejoicing in the Lord Jesus, and looking upward to that God who alone worketh in him to will and to do of His own good pleasure. According to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ. May He stablish you in the truths and principles of that system which is agreeable to, so agreeable as to be identical with my gospel or with the gospel which I preach, and which Christ also preached

Paul thus affirming his doctrine and Jesus Christs doctrine to be at one. According to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began, or kept secret in ancient times. He had before said according to my gospel ; and when he now says according to the revelation of the mystery, he but substitutes one method of expression for another - The subject-matter in both being the same, only amplified or expressed otherwise. This gospel was kept secret, or held back in silence from the earth - there having been little or nothing said of it to the earlier generations of our species. - It has been made a matter of discussion what the mystery here spoken of precisely is. Some would have it specifically to be the calling of the Gentiles, and for countenance to this their explanation of it would refer to Ephesians, iii, 9, and Colossians, i, 26. We have no doubt ourselves, that generally it is the subject-matter of the gospel. But now is made manifest. That which was profoundly hidden before is now made manifest - first in a dimmer and lesser degree by the prophets to the Jews; and afterwards in the fuller light of gospel times made known to all nations. We are not to wonder that the revelation made to the prophets should be spoken of as only made now. At the time when this revelation was first given its meaning was little known even to the prophets through whom it passed. Though ministered by them it was not unto themselves but unto us. It had been given in words to the world centuries before the appearance of our Saviour - yet was only made known for the first time to the disciples of Emmaus, when He opened their understandings to understand the Scriptures - beginning with Moses and the Prophets.

What our Saviour did in person to these disciples upon earth, He afterwards did to believers in general by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, and whose office it is to make the sure word of prophecy obvious to their view, by causing the day to dawn and the day-star to arise in their hearts. The gospel might well have been said by the apostle to be manifest by the scriptures of the prophets only now - for only now were these scriptures made manifest. "According to the commandment of the everlasting God made known unto all nations for the obedience of faith." To perfect the revelation of the gospel, the work of apostles had to be superadded to that of prophets. The gospel had been witnessed to by the Law and the Prophets - when it lay in enigma till cleared up by the more explicit statements of those who were commissioned to go and preach it unto every creature. These three verses (25, 26, and 27) might be rendered thus. - Now to Him who is able to establish you in the discipleship of my gospel, which is nothing else than the gospel of Jesus Christ Himself - or in the discipleship of that revelation whereby there has been divulged the truth that was before hidden, and kept back from men in the earlier ages of the world; but is now made manifest, both by the prophetic writings which we in these days have been made more fully to understand - and also is the proclamation of the same agreeably to the commandment of the everlasting God, amongst all nations, for the purpose of obtaining their submission to the faith - To Him, the only wise God, be glory for ever, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We may be assured that there is nothing misplaced or inappropriate in the epithets employed by the apostle; and more especially in those which he applies to the Divinity. In particular, when he applies different epithets to Him at different times, there must, we apprehend, be a discriminative reason for his so doing. In the 26th verse he denominates Him the everlasting God; and in the 27th, the God only wise. The epithet everlasting seems to have been suggested to the mind of the apostle, when he had in view the different and distant ages at which God had His different dealings with men from the beginning of the world - as keeping them in ignorance at its earlier periods, and at length in due time making known the scheme of His salvation. He, the King Eternal, who knows the end from the beginning, knows what is best and fittest to be done at each of the successive stages in the process of that great administration whose goings forth have been of old, and whose issues are from everlasting to everlasting. And He is denominated the only wise, that we, the short-lived creatures of a day, might learn to receive with unquestioning silence all the intimations which He has been pleased to have given us. In particular, it should reconcile the Jews to the termination of that economy under which they had hitherto lived, and under which they had vainly arrogated to themselves an exclusive and ever-during superiority over the rest of the species - whereas it appeared that the middle wall of partition was now to be broken down; and that their fancied monopoly of the Divine favour was but a temporary evolution in the history of the Divine government. And so he concludes his epistle, by calling on both parties in the church to which he writes it, to unite with him in the one ascription of glory to the Father through the Son; and that verily a glory which shall never end.
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