Page images

hands, and which they gladly received, and made use of it. I say again, the notion of St. Matthew's writing in Hebrew, probably bad its rise from the Hebrew edition of his gospel. For, allowing that date of bis gospel which to me appears most probable, I cannot conceive the reason, why Matthew should write in Hebrew any more than any of the other evangelists. For it may be reckoned bighly probable, or even certain, that he understood Greek, before he was called by Christ to be an apostle. Whilst a publican, he would have frequent occasions both to write and speak Greek ; and could not discharge his office without understanding that language.

This Hebrew gospel may likewise have been the cause, why so many ancient christian writers say, that Matthew wrote first. This may be true: but I do not think it was said upon the ground of any certain knowledge, or good information. I apprehend it not to be easy to say, which gospel was first written, for all the first three gospels were written about the same time: and St. Luke's, for

any thing that I know, may have been written first; which' was the opinion of Mr. Basnage.


Of the time when the apostles left Judea to go and preach

the gospel in other countries.

AS many ancient christian writers, whom we have lately quoted, say, that St. Matthew, having preached some while in Judea, was desired by the believers there to leave with them in writing, before he went away, a history of what he had taught by word of mouth: this may not be an improper place to inquire, how long it was after the ascension of Jesus, before Matthew and the other apostles left Judea, to go abroad into foreign countries.

Ănd first of all, we will observe some remarkable passages of ancient writers, relating to this matter. And then, secondly, we will consider what light the book of the Acts may afford upon this subject. Člement of Alexandria, about 194, quotes from a work,

i Ann. 60. num. 31.


entitled the Preaching of Peter, this passage:

There · fore Peter says, that the Lord said to the apostles; If any • Israelite will repent, and believe in God through my name, • his sins shall be forgiven. After twelve years go ye • out into the world, that none may say, We have not • heard.'

The next passage is that of Apollonius, undoubtedly in part cotemporary with Clement, and placed by Cave at the year 192, by me at 211, as near the time of his writing against the Montanists. Moreover, says Eusebius, he re• Jates as from tradition, that our Saviour commanded his • apostles not to depart from Jerusalem for the space of • twelve years.' Which passage has been already cited in this e work.

By these two passages Cave was induced to think, that a for twelve years after Christ's ascension the apostles did not depart from the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. Supposing our Saviour to have been crucified, and to have ascended to heaven in the year 29 of the vulgar æra, wbich was a common opinion of the ancients, these twelve years ended in the year 41. Supposing those great events to have happened in the year 33, which is a common opinion of learned moderns, those twelve years would reach to the

year 45.


Beside those two passages alleged by Cave, and other learned men, I shall take notice of some others also.

Origen says in general, • Thate when the Jews did not ' receive the word, the apostles went to the Gentiles.'

Chrysostom, in a homily upon Acts xi. 19, and what fol. lows, speaks to this purpose. • They heard that Samaria • had received the word, and they sent Peter and John.

They heard what had happened at Antioch, and they sent • Barnabas; for that was at a great distance. And it was • not fit that the apostles should go so far as yet, lest they should have been esteemed deserters, and thought to have

Λαι τ8το φησιν ο Πετρος ειρηκεναι τον Κυριον τοις αποσoλoις Εαν μεν τις θεληση το Ισραηλ μετανοησαι [forte μετανοησας] δια τα ονοματος με πισεύειν εις τον θεον, αφεθησονται αυτη αμαρτιαι. Μετα δωδεκα ετη εξελθετε εις κοσμον, μη τις ειπη Ουκ ήκgσαμεν. Clem. Str. l. 6. p. 636. Conf. Cav. H. L. T. 1.-5. et Grabe, Spic. T. I. p. 67. b H. E. I. 5. cap. 18. p. 136.

c Vol. ii. p. 393. d Hist. Lit. T. i. p. 5. et 13.

μη παραδεξαμενων Ιεδαιων τον λογον, απεληλυθεσαν εις τα εθνη. In Matth. T. i. p. 225. E. Huet. Πολυ

yap το διατημα, και εδει τις αποσολες τεως χωρισθήναι εκειθεν. ινα μη νομισθωσιν ειναι φυγαδες, και τες αυτων πεφευγεναι· τοτε αναγκαιως χοριζονται, οτε λοιπον ανιατα εχειν εδοκει τα κατ' αυτος. In Act. hom. 25. tom. ix. p. 202, 203.






• fled from their own people. But it then became necessary • for them to separate, (or go from thence,] when the Jews • showed themselves to be incurable.'

In the Paschal Chronicle are these expressions, speaking of Paul. Afterwards & he coming to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and finding there Peter and the rest of the apostles, with James the Lord's brother, the apostles send an epistle to Antioch in Syria, establishing their church. And Paul and Barnabas carry the epistle to Antioch, as the Acts • show. By this it appears, that the apostles then wrote their • catholic epistles before their dispersion.' Such the

passages of ancient writers, which must be reckoned to be of some weight.

Let us now observe the history in the Acts. And it seems to me, there is reason to conclude, that the apostles stayed in Judea, till after the council at Jerusalem, of which an account is given in the xvth chapter of that book. For St. Luke does continually speak of the apostles, as being at Jerusalem, or near it. Acts viii. 1; “ And at that time, there was a great persecution against the church, which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” One of those persons, who then left Jerusalem, was Philip the deacon and evangelist : who went to Samaria, and preached Christ unto them, and with good effect. Whereupon, at ver. 14, “ Now when the apostles, which were at Jerusalem, heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John.” This needs no comment. Here is proof, that when the rest of the disciples were scattered abroad, Peter and John, and the other apostles, were still at Jerusalem.

In Acts ix. 26–30, is St. Luke's account of Paul's coming to Jerusalem, after his conversion : where he says, " that the disciples were afraid of him—But Barnabas took bim, and brought him to the apostles.” St. Paul, speaking of the same journey, Gal. i. 18, 19, says: - Then after tbree

years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.” Here we find, that at this time, three years after bis conversion, Paul saw two

8 Μετεπειτα ελθων εις Ιεροσολυμα μετα Βαρναβα, και εύρων Πετρον και τας λοιπες αποσολες αμα Ιακωβω τώ αδελφω τα Κυρια, γραφουσιν επισολην οι αποσολοι εις Αντιοχειαν της Συρίας, θεμελιαντες την αυτων εκκλησιαν, και διακονεσι την επιςολην εις Αντιοχειαν αυτος Παυλος και Βαρναβας ως δηλεσιν αι Πραξεις. Εκ τοτε δεικνυται, ότι και τας καθολικας αυτων οι αποστολοι τοτε γραφεσιν, προ της διασπορας αυτων. Chr. Pasch.


233. B. C.


apostles only, Peter and James. But St. Luke's words, as seems to me, imply, that all the apostles were then at Jerusalem, though Paul saw two only, the rest for some reasons declining to show themselves in person to him. Dr. Doddridge has this note upon ch. ix. 27. • Paul himself * tells us, that upon his going up to Jerusalem, he saw no • other apostles but Peter and James. Gal. i. 19. Beza • well observes we are quite uncertain on what occasion the ' rest were then absent from Jerusalem. Had they been there, though Paul stayed but about a fortnigbt, he would no doubt bave seen them.' Nevertheless the solution of this difficulty appears to me very easy. The apostles were now all at Jerusalem, or near it : but they lived privately, because it was a time of persecution. The great persecution against the church, which began with the death of Stephen, was not yet over: the apostles therefore could not appear abroad without danger : and it was sufficient, that they spoke to Paul, and received him by Peter and James; wbich I take to be the true import of St. Luke's expression : “ But Barnabas took him, and brought him to ibe apostles.”

After Peter had been at the house of Cornelius, it is said, Acts xi. 1, " And the apostles and brethren that were in Judea, heard, that the Gentiles also had received the word." Another proof, that all the apostles, or most of them, were still at Jerusalem. But I do not suppose, that the apostles, like many other of the Jewish believers, were offended at what Peter had done. Or, if they were at first somewbat offended, they were soon, and easily satisfied, and were very willing to testify their approbation of Peter's conduct.

From the twelfth chapter of the Acts we know, that James, son of Zebedee, and brother of John, and Peter, were at Jerusalem, in the year 44, or thereabout, near the end of the reign of Herod Agrippa : the former of whom was beheaded,

and the other imprisoned. And at ver. 17, is mention made of another James, supposed to be the Lord's brother, and always resident at Jerusalem.

From the account of the council of Jerusalem, and of the occasion of it, all the apostles appear to have been then in Judea, and at Jerusalem, or in its neighbourhood. Acts xv.

“ When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined, that Paul, and Barnabas, and certain others of them, should go up to Jerusalem, unto the apostles and elders about this question.” Ver. 4, “ And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and or even’ the


[ocr errors]

apostles, and elders.—Ver. 6, “ And the apostles and elders came together, that is, met in council,' for to consider of this matter.”—Ver. 22, “ Then pleased it the apostles, and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch.”—Ver. 23, “ And they wrote letters by them after this manner: The apostles, and elders, and brethren, send greeting.”—Ver. 33, “ And after they had tarried there a space,” that is, at “ Antioch, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.”

In all these places the apostles must intend all the apostles, or the apostles in general: for how can the expression be understood otherwise ?

If it should be said, that the apostles might be at the council at Jerusalem, though several of them had been before in other countries, I think, that would be said without ground and reason. It does not appear, that the apostles were sent to, invited, or called in from abroad, to attend this council: but the christians at Antioch supposed, or rather knew, that the apostles were at Jerusalem, and therefore directly sent thither to them.

Indeed none of the apostles are expressly named as speakers in the debates of the council, beside Peter and James : but all the rest may have been there. divers other occasions in the gospels, and at the beginning of the Acts, Peter only spake, though all the rest were present. In Gal. ii. 8, 9, 10, St. Paul, giving an account of a journey to Jerusalem, supposed to be the same with this to the council, speaks of conferences wbich he had with three, namely, James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be

Here b is one more mentioned as present at Jerusalem, beside the two before taken notice of. And there must have been others beside these three, who seemed to be pillars, or were the most eminent.

The first time that we meet with the mention of any one of the twelve, as being out of Judea, is that in Gal. ii. 11, after this council, as is generally allowed, when Peter was at Antioch. It is very observable, Acts xi. 19_22, when “ tidings came to the ears of the church at Jerusalem,” that many Gentiles had been converted at Antioch by some of those who were scattered abroad by the persecution," they sent forth Barnabas that he should go as far as Antioch.” None of the apostles went, not so much as one, to accompany

h Theodoret has a like argument : Εξ ών ραδιον κατιδειν, ώς εδεπω καταλελοιπει την Ιεδαιαν ο θειος αποτολος Ιωαννης. Τheodr. Pr. in ep. ad Εph. Tom. III. p. 290.

So upon


« PreviousContinue »