Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

as they had visited. What care the apostle Paul took to encourage this fellowship of the churches is gratefully manifested in the salutations which he sends in their behalf. All the churches of Christ salute you, Rom. 16: 16. The churches of Asia salute you. All the brethren greet you, 1 Cor. 16: 19, 20.

Under these circumstances, the churches severally referred to the apostles, for instruction, for counsel, and for assistance, as they might have occasion. This oversight the apostles carefully exercised; caring for all, and watching for all, as they had opportunity, that thus they might, as far as possible, supply the place of their Lord, and fulfil the ministry which they had received from him. In the distribution of their labors, by mutual consent, they occupied, to a great extent, their separate fields. Some going to the heathen, and others to the circumcision, Gal. 2: 7-9. But none had any settled cure, or any prescribed field of labor, bearing the remotest analogy to a modern diocese. Paul was greatly oppressed by the care of all the churches, which came daily upon him. Who is weak and I am not weak? Who is offended and I burn not? 2 Cor. 11: 29. So that while each may have been the apostle of particular churches, each and every one exercised a common oversight and jurisdiction over all, by whomsoever they may have been originally organized. Nor was this jurisdiction of the several apostles exercised by them on their own individual responsibility, but in common rather as fellowapostles and co-workers, for the rearing up of the church of Christ, and the extension of his kingdom. In a word, the government of the churches was vested in the apostles, not individually, but collectively; and each exercised his authority as a joint member of the apostolical body, who were ordained and endowed with grace to be witnesses of the gospel of our Lord in every place, "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifica

tion of the body of Christ." Such are the views of Rothe,41 one of the latest writers on this subject, who has set forth his sentiments with great clearness, and supported them with unequalled learning and ability. Such also are the sentiments of Chrysostom, an ancient and learned bishop. "The apostles were constituted of God rulers, not over a separate nation or city, but all were entrusted with the world." 42

(b) Timothy at Ephesus was not a bishop.

Timothy was one of a class of religious teachers who acted as the assistants and fellow-laborers of the apostle. Their assistance was employed as a needful expedient to enable the apostles to exercise their supervision over the infant churches which sprang up in the different and distant countries through which Christianity was propagated by them. Over churches widely separated, the apostles could personally exercise but little supervision. Some of them, as the apostle Peter, and especially the great apostle of the Gentiles, were instrumental in planting many churches in distant countries. He saw the necessity of employing suitable and competent men, who, invested with his authority, and in his name, might supply his lack of service to those churches which lay beyond the range of his immediate inspection. They were neither permanent officers in the church, nor restricted to any specific circuit, but temporary residents, to assist in setting in order the churches, and giving needful instruction, as the occasion might require, and then to pass away to some other station, wherever their services might be required.

Such assistants and delegates of the apostles are of frequent occurrence in the Scriptures. And this view of

41 Anfänge, Christ. Kirch., pp. 297-310.

42’Εισὶν ὑπο θεου χειροτονηθέντες απόστολοι ἄρχοντες, οὐκ ἔθνη καὶ πόλεις διάφορους λαμβάνοντες, ἀλλὰ πάντες κοινῇ iny dixové vyv kuniστévoεvτas-Cited by Campbell, Lectures, p. 77.

their office affords, at once, a natural and easy explanation of the peculiar and somewhat anomalous rank which they seem to hold. Bishops they certainly were not, in the Episcopal sense of that term.43 Neither were they merely presbyters; for, though in many things their office was analogous to that of presbyters, in other respects it was widely different. Such was Timothy, whom Paul styles his fellow-laborer, ovvɛgyós. Rom. 16: 21. 1 Thess. 3: 2. In the salutations of his epistles, also, he often couples the name of Timothy with his own. Phil. 1: 1. 1 Thess. 1: 1. 2 Thess. 1: 1, &c. Accordingly, Timothy appears as the travelling companion of the apostle.

He seems, indeed, at different times, to have had the superintendence of several churches in various places. Comp. 1 Cor. 4: 17, 1 Tim. 1: 3, and 1 Thess. 3: 2, from which it appears that he was sent to Corinth, to Ephesus, and to Thessalonica, as a fellow-laborer and assistant of the apostle. From what is said of his influence at Corinth, it would seem that he might with almost equal propriety be styled the bishop of that city as of Ephesus. In the first epistle, he is reputed to have been sent to them, as the representative of the apostle, to bring them into remembrance of his ways and doctrines; and, in the second, he unites with Paul as his brother in the salutation of that church. The whole history of the Acts of the Apostles, and indeed the language of the epistles proves that, like the other of St. Paul's fellow-travellers, Timothy had no settled abode, no fixed station; but assisted him, as an evangelist, in setting the churches in order, and in the accomplishment of any special object which the apostle had in view, and to which he could not personally attend. The apostle, often coupling the name of Timothy with his own, presents him to us as his travelling companion and

43 Bishop Onderdonk only claims this distinction for Timothy, and many of that communion give up this point.

assistant. This itinerating life of Timothy sufficiently proves that he was not the bishop of Ephesus. When both the epistles to the Thessalonians were written, A. D. 62, Timothy was with Paul at Corinth, having lately returned from Thessalonica, where he had spent some time in ministering to that church.

When Paul wrote the first epistle to the Corinthians, A. D. 57, from Ephesus, Timothy was absent again, on a mission to Macedonia and Achaia, from whence he was expected soon to be there. 1 Cor. 16: 10. Titus also goes about this time on a mission to Corinth.

The year following, when Paul wrote his second epistle from Macedonia, Timothy was with him there, and Titus, whom Paul had met in Macedonia, was again one of the messengers by whom the letter was forwarded to that church.

Some months later, A. D. 58, when he wrote his epistle to the Romans from Corinth, Timothy was with him there.

The epistle to the Ephesians was written from Rome, A. D. 61, subsequent to the time when Timothy is alleged to have been made bishop of Ephesus; yet he is not named in it, nor is there any allusion in it to any head of the church there, but only to "the saints and faithful brethren." Indeed, it is certain, from the epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, written about the same time from Rome, that Timothy was, at this time, in that city; so that he could scarcely have been in his supposed diocese at all.

"The expression in 1 Tim. 1: 3, 'As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus when I went into Macedonia,' seems to mark but a temporary purpose, and to bear little similitude to a settled appointment and establishment of him as head of the church there, i. e., bishop, in the modern acceptation of the term, resembling rather his previous mission to Thessalonica, referred to in the epistle to the Thessalo

nians (3: 2); and this is confirmed by the undoubted fact, that when the second epistle to him was written, not only was Timothy not in his supposed diocese at Ephesus, but the apostle tells him that he had sent Tychicus there, who is spoken of by the apostle as being in like manner a fellow-servant, beloved brother, and fellow-minister of the Lord (Ephes. 6: 21), as Timothy himself was. This we know to have been shortly before the death of the apostle." 42 The absurdity of supposing that this request was made to Timothy as bishop, is forcibly presented by Daillé. "Why beseech a bishop to remain in his diocese? Is it not to beseech a man to stay in a place to which he is bound? I should not think it strange to beseech him to leave it, if his services were needed elsewhere. But to beseech him to abide in a place where his charge obliges him to be, and which he cannot forsake without offending God and neglecting his duty, is, to say the truth, not a very civil entreaty; as it plainly pre-supposes that he has not his duty much at heart, seeing one is under the necessity of beseeching him to do it." 43

By the imposition of hands he was endowed with peculiar gifts, that qualified him to serve the churches as a fellow-laborer with the apostle, who accordingly charges him not to neglect this gift.44

But what need of many words on this subject? The apostle, just before his death, and long after he is supposed to have settled Timothy as bishop at Ephesus, gives him his true designation,-an evangelist, "Do the work," not of bishop, but " of an evangelist." The work which he was

42 Bowdler's Letters on Apost. Succession, pp. 25, 26.

43 Daillé, ci-dessus, p. 23. Cited in Mason's Works, Vol. III, p. 197. 44 Comp. Neander, Apost. Kirch., 1, c. 10. Rothe, Anfänge, Vol. I, pp. 160, 161, and 263; also, J. H. Böhmer, Diss. Jur. Eccl. Antiq., p. 424, seq., where is given an able discussion of the points under consideration, in relation to Timothy, Titus, and the angel of the churches. Barnes's Apost. Church, pp. 99-107, and Smyth's Presbytery and Prelacy, chap. 12, § 3.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »