« ZurückWeiter »
sion: forasmuch as the violent persecution, which began about the time of Stephen's death, had continued at least three years after Paul left Judea to go to Damascus.
It was also well for him, that he was out of Judea, during the three or four years' reign of Herod Agrippa, when he was king of all Israel. It was, indeed, owing to a violent onset of the Grecians, as they are called, that the disciples were induced to convey him to Cæsarea, and send him forth to Tarsus, Acts ix. 29, 30. But it was overruled for his good. By this means he was out of Judea, during the reign of that proud and cruel prince, which appears to have been a troublesome time to the followers of Jesus in that country, till near the end it broke out into the greatest violence. As we learn from the history in the twelfth chapter of the Acts.
IV. What was Paul's age at the time of his conversion is not certain. Witsius supposeth, that he was born near the end of Herod's reign, about the same time with our Saviour. It is observable, that in the epistle to Philemon, ver. 9, written about the year of the vulgar æra 62, he calls himself Paul the aged. Which, I think, must lead us to suppose, that he was then sixty years of age, or not much less.
In the account of the martyrdom of Stephen he is called a young man, Acts vii. 58. But it is well known, that among the ancients the word youth is used with latitude.
Some things said of him about that time may induce us to think him arrived to years of maturity, or discretion. For he seems to have been one of the principal agents in the persecution of the believers after the death of Stephen: and to have been entrusted by the Jewish rulers in carrying it on. As he says to king Agrippa, Acts xxvi. 10," Which thing I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests." And it is well known, beings again and again related, that he had a commission from the high priest, when he went to Damascus. And it is also mentioned afterwards in the farther account of himself to Agrippa, ver. 12, "Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests." And there were several others with him at the same time, who may be supposed to
At in neutram vastationem incidit pueritia Pauli, quem natum esse oportet circa mortem Herodis. Quod ita conficitur. Ipse se senem' fuisse docet, quando evangelii causà vinctus Romæ detinebatur a Nerone. Philem. comm. 9. Neque tamen admodum senex eo tempore fuit, quum vɛaviac dicatur in martyrio Stephani. Unde necesse est, ejusdem propemodum cum Christo ætatis fuisse. De Vitâ Pauli, sect. i. n. iii.
* See Acts ix. 1, 2, 14; xxii. 8.
have been officers under him. All which shows the regard that was paid to him.
Mr. Biscoe thinks, that before his conversion Paul had been ordained elder, or rabbi, or doctor. And he supposeth, that this may enable us to account for Paul's being never excommunicated by the Jews. It may seem strange to 'some,' says he, that St. Paul was not excommunicated by the Jews, after he turned christian. For St. John tells us, ch. ix. 22, "The Jews had agreed, that if any man did 'confess, that Jesus was the Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. St. Paul, notwithstanding, entered boldly into their synagogues, wherever he came, and preached that Jesus was the Christ. He was often scourg'ed by them, 2 Cor. xi. 24. But we no where read of his 'being excommunicated. The Talmud explains this to us: 'forasmuch as thence it is abundantly evident, that they were very backward to excommunicate the disciples of the wise, the doctors, and teachers of the law.'
Whether that be certain or not, I think it may be inferred from what was before said, that at the time of his conversion, Paul was of an age when men are able to judge of the evidence of things, and to form a reasonable determination concerning their future conduct.
V. It may be now fit for us, before we proceed any farther, to consider when Paul became an apostle.
It has generally been the opinion of learned men, that Paul was called to the apostleship at the time that he was converted, or very soon after. So says "Spanheim, and Witsius, who follows him. So likewise say divers others, who also have carefully considered this point, particularly Cave, Pearson, y Basnage. To whom I must add my late much valued friend Mr. Hallet. Who, in his discourse The History of the Acts confirmed, p. 269, 270.
" Id vero ante omnia in disquisitionis hujus limine supponimus, idem omnino esse tempus vocationis Paulinæ ad apostolatum, quod fuit ad Christum, annum adeo eundem utriusque ac mensem. Spanh. ubi supra, sect. iv. p. 314. ▾ Quo tempore ad christianismum, eodem ad apostolatum vocatus est Paulus. Actor. ix. 15; xxiii. 15; xxvi. 17; &c. Wits. de Vit. Pauli, sect. ii. num, xxi. w See before, note P, p. 474.
* Tiberii 22. A. D. 36. Saülus in Arabiâ moratur, ubi per revelationem accepit plenam a Deo notitiam evangelii, ad quod prædicandum immediate
-A. D. 37. Saülus ex Arabiâ redit Damascum, satis in officio per revelationem instructus. Pearson. Ann. Paulin. p. 2.
His peractis, Paulus, relictâ Damasco, in vicina loca aliquantisper secessit, ut ab ipso Christo autowe institueretur, quod et ipse tradit, Gal. i. 15-17. eo igitur recessu non ab hominibus edoctus est, sed ab ipso Christo per revelationem didicit evangelium, et creatus est apostolus, &c. Basnag. ann. 37. num. lxii. From this view of the history of St. Paul's
on ordination, had occasion to consider Acts xiii. 2, 3, as well as some other texts.
That Paul was now made an apostle, and fully instructed for preaching the gospel, is evident from the account of his conversion given by the evangelista Luke, and from all the accounts which he gives of himself in his discourses in Judea, to the Jewish people, and to Festus, and Agrippa, and from his epistle to the Galatians, and from the manner of his speaking of himself at the beginning of divers of his epistles.
What he says of himself to the Galatians, in particular, implies his having had a full knowledge of the gospel-revelation, and his being invested in the apostolical character, before the time of his first coming to Jerusalem, after his conversion. Gal. i. 11, 12, " But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel, which was preached of me, is not after men. For I neither received it of men, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ-ver. 15, 18. But when it pleased God (who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace) to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem, to them which were apostles before me. But I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem, to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days."
Paul must have been an apostle, and qualified to preach the gospel, before he came to Jerusalem, and saw Peter: or what he says here cannot be reckoned material, and to the purpose about which he is speaking.
Undoubtedly, for some good while Paul preached to Jews only. And when he began to preach to Gentiles also, he may have had some farther revelations from Christ. But it does not follow that he was not an apostle before that.
life after his conversion to christianity, it is plain, that many years (thought ⚫ to have been ten) had passed, during which he had been a preacher, and an apostle, before the time mentioned, Acts xiii. At the beginning of those ten years, just after his conversion, Christ made him a minister and an apostle, ' and particularly gave him a commission to preach to the Gentiles, when he appeared to him from heaven, and said, as in Acts xxvi. 16, 17, 18. When, therefore, ten years after this, the prophets at Antioch separated Paul for the 'work to which he was called, by prayer, and fasting, and imposition of hands, it is evident they did not give him any authority. He had received the full apostolical authority, and that, as the apostle of the Gentiles too, long before this, immediately from Christ himself.' Hallet's Notes and Discourses, Vol. ii. p. 321, 322.
Ch. xxii. 6-15.
a Acts ix. 15--22.
c Ch. xxvi. 13-24.
Peter, and the rest, had been apostles several years, before they were required or qualified to preach to gentiles.
Paul seldom speaks of his being an apostle, or " called to be an apostle," as he often does at the beginning of his epistles, but he seems to refer to and intend his early call, when he was converted, and put into the ministry. Rom. i. 1, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, separated unto the gospel of God." 1 Cor. i. 1," Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, through the will of God." See also 2 Cor. i. 1, but especially Gal. i. 1," Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by men, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead." See likewise 1 Tim. i. 12; ch. ii. 7; 2 Tim. i. 11.
One requisite qualification of an apostle appears to have been, that he should see Christ in person, and that after his resurrection. This was manifestly one privilege of the first twelve apostles, and of Matthias, chosen in the room of Judas, Acts i. 21, 22. Accordingly, we find, that Paul also, claiming the character of an apostle, speaks of his having seen Christ, and as of a well known, and uncontested thing. 1 Cor. ix. 1," Have I not seen Jesus Christ, our Lord ?" And largely in the 15th chapter of the same epistle, rehearsing divers appearances of our Lord, after his resurrection, to the apostles and others, he says, ver 8, 9, " And last of all he was seen of me also, as one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God."
It is plain, then, that Paul had seen Christ, and after he was risen from the dead, as the other apostles had done. But where did he see him? It is generally said, and I think d Vide Wits. de Vitâ Pauli, sect. ii. num. v. vi. vii. et Basnagius, ann. 37. num. lviii.
Qu. 2. Qualis erat hæc apparitio? Resp. Indubie corporalis; quia se, ut cæteros, testem oculatum adducit. Qu. 3. Quando, et ubi Christum vidit ? Resp. Dum iret Damascum. Act. ix. Obj. At Paulus tunc excrcatus erat. Resp. Prius tamen Dominum vidit, cujus maximâ claritate perstricti sunt ejus oculi, ut sit solem intuentibus. Poli Synops. ad 1 Cor. xv. 8.
Jam quod ad hanc apparitionem Dominicam Paulo factam attinet, quæ sine dubio post ascensionem Domini contigit, illud etiam indubitate tenendum est, talem fuisse quâ Christus semetipsum corporaliter atque oculis corporeis videndum Paulo ostenderet: ad quem modum et aliis omnibus supra memoratis viNam nisi talis visio fuisset etiam hæc, de quâ nunc Paulus loquitur, quomodo se perinde ut cæteros testem adduceret oculatum ad probandam veritatem resurrectionis Christi? -Nam Paulum illo tempore suæ conversionis, quum iret Damascum, non tantum audivisse Dominum loquentem, sed etiam vidisse, ex subsequenti narratione clarum est. Dicit enim ad eum Ananias, ix. 17, "Dominus misit me, Jesus qui apparuit," Græce, opetus, qui visus est, "tibi in vià." Et cap. xxii. 14, "Deus præordinavit te, ut videres justum, et audires vocem ex ore ejus." Rursum cap ix. 27, Barnabas de eo nar
rightly, in the way to Damascus. Then, as seems to me, Christ personally appeared to him. It is evident from St. Luke's account of Paul's conversion, Acts ix. 3—6,“ And as he journeyed, he came near to Damascus, and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven. And he fell to the earth, and beard a voice saying unto him: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said: Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said: I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest.And he trembling, and astonished, said: Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him: Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." When Ananias by special order entered into the house where Paul was, and put his bands upon him, he said: ver. 17," Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, who appeared to thee in the way, as thou camest, ὁ οφθείς σοι εν τη οδώ, hath sent me.” Compare ch. xxii. 14, and ch. ix. 27," Barnabas brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken unto him." Paul likewise in his own accounts of his conversion uses words expressive of a personal appearance to him. So Acts xxii. 6-8, in his speech to the people of Jerusalem, where truth and exactness were very requisite. "And it came to pass, that as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus, about noon, suddenly, there shone from heaven a light round about me. And I fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me. And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me: I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest." So likewise Acts xxvi. 12-19, very strong and expressive, indeed, To which the reader is referred.
If Paul did not see Jesus in person at the time of his conversion, when did he so see him? Some may say at the time mentioned, Acts xxii. 17-21.-—“ And it came to pass, that when I was come again to Jerusalem, even when I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance, and saw him saying unto me: Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me."
Some think thate Paul had this trance when he first
rat apostolis, quomodo in viâ vidisset Dominum, et quia locutus est ei. Sed et Dominus ad Saülum prostratum, ipso referente, cap. xxvi. 16, “ Ad hoc enim apparui, wp0ŋv, visus sum tibi, ut constituam te ministrum et testem eorum, quæ vidisti." Et quæ sequuntur. Est. in 1 Cor. xv. 8.
Ver. 17, Retourné à Jérusalem.] Non pas d'abord. Voyez Gal. i. 17. mais après son voyage en Arabie et son séjour à Damas. Ibid. ver. 18. L'En