John Calvin on the Pastorals and Philemon

John Calvin, author of Commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles and Philemon
John Calvin [1509-1564]
The following commentaries by John Calvin are now available on-line in PDF:

John Calvin, (Translated from the Original Latin by the Rev. William Pringle). Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus and Philemon. Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1856. Hbk. pp.398.

John Calvin’s Commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles and Philemon

The Argument of the First Epistle of Timothy

This Epistle appears to me to have been written more for the sake of others than for the sake of Timothy, and that opinion will receive the assent of those who shall carefully consider the whole matter. I do not, indeed, deny that Paul intended also to teach and admonish him but my view of the Epistle is, that it contains many things which it would have been superfluous to write, if he had had to deal with Timothy alone. He was a young man, not yet clothed with that authority which would have been, sufficient for restraining the headstrong men that rose up against him. It is manifest, from the words used by Paul, that there were at that time some who were prodigiously inclined o ostentation, and for that reason would not willingly yield to any person, and who likewise burned with such ardent ambition, that they would never have ceased to disturb the Church, had not a greater than Timothy interposed. It is likewise manifest, that there were many things to be adjusted at Ephesus, and that needed the approbation of Paul, and the sanction of his name. Raving therefore intended to give advice to Timothy on many subjects, he resolved at the same time to advise others under the name of Timothy. In the first chapter, he attacks some ambitious persons who made their boast of discussing idle questions. It may readily be concluded that they were Jews, who, while they pretended to have zeal for the law, disregarded edification, and attended only to frivolous disputes.

Click here to continue reading

St Paul the Traveller and Roman Citizen

The following public domain book is now available for free download in PDF:

William M. Ramsay, St Paul the Traveller and Roman Citizen. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1895. Hbk. pp.394.

St Paul

Chapter I.

The Acts of the Apostles

I. Trustworthiness. The aim of our work is to treat its subject as a department of history and of literature. Christianity was not merely a religion, but also a system of life and action; and its introduction by Paul amid the society of the Roman Empire produced changes of momentous consequence, which the historian must study. What does the student of Roman history find in the subject of our investigation? How would an observant, educated, and unprejudiced citizen of the Roman Empire have regarded that new social force, that new philosophical system, if he had studied it with the eyes and the temper of a nineteenth century investigator?
As a preliminary the historian of Rome must make up his mind about the trustworthiness of the authorities. Those which we shall use are: (1) a work of history commonly entitled the Acts of the Apostles (the title does not originate from the author), (2) certain Epistles purporting to be written by Paul. Of the latter we make only slight and incidental use; and probably even those who dispute their authenticity would admit that the facts we use are trustworthy, as being the settled belief of the Church at a very early period. It is, therefore, unnecessary to touch on the authenticity of the Epistles; but the question as to the date the composition, and the author of the Acts must be discussed. If the main position of this book is admitted, it will furnish a secure basis for the Epistles to rest on.

Click here to continue reading.

Davidson’s Commentary on Hebrews

Andrew Bruce Davidson (1831 – January 26, 1902)
Andrew Bruce Davidson (1831 – January 26, 1902)

The following public domain book is now available for free download in PDF:

A.B. Davidson [1831-1902], The Epistle to the Hebrews with Introduction and Notes. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, n.d. Hbk. pp.260.

Commentary on Hebrews – Introduction

Chapter 1

The Readers of the Epistle

1. The readers themselves.-ln our English Bibles the Epistle has the heading: “Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews;” and at the end there stands the remark: “Written to the Hebrews from Italy by Timothy.” In the best MSS. the heading reads simply, To the Hebrews, and the remark at the end is wanting, or agrees with the superscription. The heading “To the Hebrews” is the proper heading of the Epistle, and is found from the time that the Epistle is historically mentioned in connection with other New Testament books. It has been supposed that the Epistle was also known under other designations, as, To the Laodiceans, or, To the Alexandrians, but this seems incapable of proof. Though as old as the first historical mention of the Epistle in connection with other New Testament books, the inscription To the Hebrews does not come from the hand of the original writer of the Epistle. It originated, no doubt, in the course of transcription, and whether it rests on tradition or was suggested by the contents of the Epistle cannot be ascertained. Any one reading the Epistle now would stamp it with the same title, apart from all tradition respecting its origin or destination. The term u Hebrews” is used in a wider and in a narrower sense. In a wider sense, it describes all who were descendants of Abraham, wherever they resided, and whatever language they spoke. In this sense it is equivalent to Israelites and opposed to Gentiles (comp.2 Cor. xi. 22; Phil. iii. 5). In its narrower sense, it describes Jews living in Palestine and using the native language of that country. In this sense it is opposed to “Grecians” or Hellenists, that is, foreign Jews, speaking Greek (Acts vi. 1, ix. 27). There is nothing to determine in which of these senses the term is used in the superscription to the Epistle. The Alexandrians understood by it Palestinian Jews; but this is merely their interpretation, and can hardly be assumed to rest on tradition. The phrase “To the Hebrews” might mean of itself that the Epistle was addressed to all Christians of Jewish extraction; but the local colour of the Epistle is very distinct, and the allusions are of such a kind as to make it certain that the Epistle was addressed to “Hebrews” in a particular locality. No allusion is made in the Epistle to Gentile believers, and this seems to imply that it was written to a community consisting exclusively of Jewish Christians, or one at least in which the Hebrew element very greatly predominated. The Author’s view is no doubt that the Hebrews to whom he writes are the true and rightful successors of the Old Testament church; they are “the People” of God, and they are so as believing Hebrews. But this way of regarding them, even though it be based on principles recognised in other New Testament writings (Rom. xi.), would have had something unnatural in it if they had been a minority in the church or circle of churches to which the letter was addressed. Thus all the information which we gather from the inscription to the Epistle is, that it was addressed to Christian believers of the race of Israel-a conclusion which we could have reached apart from any inscription.

Click here to continue reading.