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Gentiles, believed on in 9η εν εθνεσιν, επιςευθη εν the world, received up κοσμω, ανεληφθη εν δοξη. into glory.
or acquitted from the crime of blasphemy, which was imputed to him by the chief priests and elders, and demonstrated to be the Son of God through the operation of the Spirit, who raised him from the dead, (See 1 Pet. iii. 18. note 2.) and who, agreeably to Christ's promise, by descending on his apostle's, enabled them to speak foreign languages and to work miracles. Likewise at his baptism, the Spirit, by descending on him, pointed him out as the person whom the voice from heaven declared to be God's beloved Son.
4. Was seen of angels, that is, of the apostles, and of the other witnesses, who were appointed to publish and testify his resurrection to the world; and who are here called (egger or angels) messengers, for the same reason that John Baptist is so salled, Luke vii. 27. This is he of whom it is written, Behold I send (eggerov ur, my angel) my messenger before thy face. See also Luke ix. 52. where the messengers, whom Jesus sent before him into a village of the Samaritans, are called a778185, angels, without the article, as in this passage. Yet I have not ventured to alter the common translation, because I cannot tell whether the apostle may not have had in his eye, those angels, who, during his ministry, saw the Son of God manifested in the flesh; those also who, after his resurrection, saw him manifested in the
5. Was preached to the Gentiles. It is with great propriety mentioned by the apostle as a part of the mystery of godliness, formerly kept secret, that the Son of God manifested in the flesh, was preached to the Gentiles as their Saviour, as well as the Saviour of the Jews. For, on the one hand, this was a thing which the Jews were persuaded would never happen ; and on the other, it was a favour which the Gentiles had no reason to expect.
6. Was believed on in the world. This undeniable fact, of which the evi. dence remains at this day, is mentioned as a part of the mystery of godli. ness, because it is a strong proof of the truth of Christ's resurrection, and of the spiritual gifts and miraculous powers, by which the apostles and their assistants, are said, in the Christian records, to bave spread the gospel through the world. For, to believe that the multitudes, not only among the the barbarous nations, but among the learned Greeks and Romans, who for. sook their native religion and embraced the gospel, were persuaded to do so, merely by the force of words, without the aid of miracles and spiritual gifts, is to believe a greater miracle than any recorded in the gospel history. See this argument illustrated, 2 Cor. iv. 7. notes 2, 3.
7. Was taken up in glory. Av22906». This is the word used to signify our Lord's ascension, Mark xvi. 19. Acts i. 2. 11. 22. See also Luke ix. 51.But, because in the order of time, Christ's ascension preceded his being preached to the Gentiles and his being believed on in the world, a critic, mentioned by Benson, interprets this clause of the glorious reception which the mystery of godliness, or gospel, met with from mankind. To this interpretation, however, there are two objections. 1. It supposeth
quas seen of angels, 4 was in the flesh; was justified through the preached to the Gentiles, Spirit, who raised him from the dead; was believed on in the was after his resurrection, seen of the world, 6 was taken up in apostles his messengers; was preachglory.
ed to the Gentiles as their Saviour; was believed on in many parts of the world ; was taken up into heaven in a glorious manner.
('0) to be the true reading in the beginning of the verse, whereby the mystery of godliness, or the gospel will, as before observed, he said, not very intelligibly, to have been manifested in the flesh.—2. The glorious reception of the gospel, is the same with its being believed in the world, a tautology by no means to be imputed to so accurate a writer as St. Paul.-The supposed difficulty, arising from the order in which the events mentioned in this verse are placed, is in reality no difficulty at all; as, in other passages of scripture, things are related, neither in the order of time in which they happened, nor according to their dignity. Thus, Heb. xi. 27. Moses's leaving Egypt with the Israelites, is mentioned before the institution of the passover, ver. 23. Thus also, Heb. xii. 23. The spirits of just men made perfect, are mentioned next to God, and before Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, because something was to be added concerning him. For the same reason, the seven spirits are put before Jesus Christ, Rev. i. 4, 5.-As the taking of Christ up in glory, implies that he sat down on the right hand of God in the human nature, and is to continue there till all his enemies are subdued, it is a principal part of the mystery of godliness, and affords the greatest consolation to believers. It was therefore with much propriety placed last in this enumeration, that it might make the stronger impression on the reader's mind. It was placed last for this reason also, that it was appealed to by Christ himself, John vi, 62. as a proof of his having come down from heaven ; that is, of his being the Son of God manifested in the flesh.
CHAPTER IV. View and Illustration of the Predictions contained in this Chapter. By calling the Christian church, in the end of the preceding chapter, the pillar and support of the truth, the Apostle teaches us, that one of the important purposes for which that great spiritual building was reared, was to preserve the knowledge and practice of true religion in the world. Nevertheless, knowing that, in after times, great corruptions, both in doctrine and practice, would at length take place in the church itself; and that the general reception of these corruptions by professed Christians, would be urged as a proof of their being the truths and precepts of God, on pretence that the church is the pillar and support of the truth, the Apostle, to strip these corruptions of any credit which they might derive from their being received by the multitude, and maintained by persons of the greatest note in the church, judged it necessary, in this fourth chapter, to foretel the introduction of these corruptions, under the idea of an apostasy from the faith, and to stigmatize the authors thereof, as lying hypocrites, whose conscience was seared. And to give his prediction the greater authority, he informed Timothy, that the Spirit spake it to him with an audible voice; and mentioned in particular, that these lying teachers would corrupt the gospel by enjoining the worship of angels and of departed saints, ver. 1, 2.And by forbidding certain classes of men to marry, cn pretence that thereby they made themselves more holy; and by commanding some at all times, and all at some times, to abstain from meats which God hath created to be used with thanksgiving, by them who know and believe the truth; ver. 3.-namely, that every kind of meat is good, and that nothing is to be cast away as unclean which God hath made for food, provided it be received with thanksgiving, ver. 4.-For it is sanctified, that is made fit for every man's use, by the word or permission of God, and by prayer, ver. 5.—These things the apostle ordered Timothy to lay before the brethren in Ephesus, because the foreknowledge of them was given to him, and by him discovered to Timothy, for this very purpose, that he might warn the faithful to oppose every appearance and beginning of error, ver. 6.- And because the Jewish fables, termed by the apostle, old wives fables,
GREEK Text. CHAP. IV. I Now, the
1 To δε
σνευμα ρητως Spirit speaketh expressly, λεγει, ότι εν ύςερους καιρούς that in the latter times
and the superstitious practices built thereon, had a natural tendency to produce the errors and corruptions which he foretold were to arise in the church, he ordered Timothy to reject them with abhorrence, ver. 7-Especially, as rites pertaining to the body are of no avail in the sight of God, and of very little use in promoting either piety or love; whereas a pious and holy life is the only thing which renders men acceptable to God, ver. 8.Withal, that these things might make the deeper impression on Timothy's mind, the apostle solemnly protested to him, that in affirming them, he spake the truth, ver. 9.--As indeed he had shewed by the heavy reproaches, and other evils, he had suffered for preaching, that he trusted for salvation, neither to the rites of the law of Moses, nor to the mortifications prescribed by the Pythagorean philosophy, nor to the favour of any idol, but to the favour of the living God alone, who is the preserver of all men, but especially of believers, ver. 10.—The same doctrine he ordered Timothy to inculcate on the Ephesian brethren, ver. 11. -And to behave in such a manner, that it should not be in the power of any person, whether he were a teacher, or one of the people, to despise him on account of his youth, ver 12.—Then, because the Jews and judaizing teachers, founded their errors on misinterpretations of the Jewish scriptures, he ordered Timothy to read these inspired writings frequently to the people in their public assemblies, and likewise in private for his own instruction: and on the true meaning of these scriptures, to found all his doctrines and exhortations, ver. 13.—In the mean time, that he might attain the true knowledge of these ancient oracles, he ordered him to exercise the spiritual gift which he possessed; probably the inspiration called the word of knowledge, which had been imparted to him by the imposition of the Apostle's hands, when, in conjunction with the eldership of Lystra, he ordained him an evangelist, ver. 14.-Farther, he desired Timothy to meditate much on the scriptures of the Old Testament, and to be wholly employed in studying them, and in explaining them to the people, ver. 15.--Finally, he commanded him to take heed to his own behaviour, and to his doctrine, from this most powerful of all considerations, that by so doing, he would both save himself, and them who heard him, ver. 16.
COMMENTARY. CHAP. IV. 1 (A) CHAP.IV. 1 But, although the But the Spirit (intws hey!church, by preserving the mystery expressly saith, that of godliness in the world, be the
Some shall depart from the αποξησονται τινες της πιςεfaith, giving heed to se- WS,
προσεχοντες σνευμασί ducing spirits, and doc
διδασκαλιαις trines of devils.
Ver. 1.-1. The Spirit, (entos 267 41) expressly saith; or, in so many words saith. Mede supposes this to be an allusion to Dan. xi. 36.-39.-But, the things here mentioned are not in Daniel, nor any where else in scripture; not even in the prophecy which the apostle himself formerly delivered concerning the man of sin. I therefore think these words were, for the greater solemnity and certainty, pronounced by the Spirit in the apostle's hearing, after he had finished the preceding passage, concerning the church's being the pillar and support of the truth.–Of the Spirits speaking in an audible manner, we have other instances in scripture. Thus, the Spirit spake in Peter's hearing, the words recorded, Acts x. 19, 20. And in the bearing of the prophets of Antioch, the words mentioned, Acts xiii. 2. See also Acts xvi. 6. xxi. 11.
2. That in after times. So the phrase, sv vsepovs nedspois, may be translated, because it denotes future times, without marking whether they are near or remote.—Mede thinks a particular time is determined in this passage. For he supposes all the times mentioned in the New Testament, to have a reference to Daniel's four monarchies, which he considers as the grand sacred kalendar ; namely, the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman monarchies. Now, as the Roman was the last monarchy, and as under it the God of heaven set up the kingdom of his Son, Mede thinks, the latter, or last times, are the last part of the duration of the Roman empire, when the man of sin was to be revealed. Others, because the times in which the gospel was promulgated, are called, Heb. i. 1, 2. The last days ; and 1 Pet. i. 20. The last times, understand by the latter times, the times of the gospel indefinitely. See 2. Pet. iii. 3. note 2.
3. Some will apostatize from the faith. Though the verb AwISHTOFTLI, was used by the Greeks to signify, subjects withdrawing their obedience from the civil powers, 2 Thess. ii. 3. note 1. the apostle did not use it here to denote rebellion, but men's relinquishing the true faith and practice of the gospel, as the phrase, apostatize from the faith, imports. Whitby, therefore, and those whom he hath followed, are mistaken, who interpret the apostasy foretold, 2 Thess. ii. 3. of the rebellion of the Jews against the Romans, which ended in the overthrow of their state. In the epistle to the Thessalonians, the character of the teachers who were to introduce the apostasy, is described ; but in this epistle, the erroneous opinions and corrupt practices, which constitute the apostasy, are foretold. And as the apostle hat introd ed this prophecy immediately after his account of the mystery of godliness, may we not conjecture that his design in so doing, was to give the faithful an opportunity of comparing the apostasy, called in the