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.

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Plummer’s 2 Corinthians Commentary

The following public domain commentary on 2 Corinthians is now available in pdf:

Alfred Plummer [1841–1926], A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. Edinburgh: T &T Clark, 1915. Hbk. pp.404.

Don Carson notes in his New Testament Commentary Survey (6th edn.), that this commentary:

“…tends to be pedestrian, but is worth picking up second hand; I cannot imagine paying those prices [$50.00] for a new copy.”

 2 Corinthians


1. Authenticity

The evidence, both external and internal, for the genuineness of 2 Corinthians is so strong that a commentator might be excused for assuming it without discussion. In the present state of criticism there is no need to spend time in examining the captious and speculative objections which have been, during the last sixty years, urged against this and others of the four great Epistles of St Paul by a very small group of eccentric critics, and various recent commentators not only abstain from doing so, but do not even think it worthwhile to give so much as a summary of the evidence in favour of the genuineness.The external evidence does not begin quite so early as that for 1 Corinthians; for we may regard it as certain that the Second Epistle was unknown to Clement of Rome, who was so well acquainted with the First. Much of the Second would have served his purpose much better than the First Epistle; yet, frequently as he quotes the First, he nowhere exhibits any knowledge of the Second, for none of the five or six passages, in which some writers have thought that there may be an echo of something in 2 Corinthians, can be relied upon as showing this. Those who care to verify this statement may compare 2 Cor. i. 5, viii. 9, x. 3, 4, x. 13, 15, 16, x. 17, x. 18 respectively with Clem. ii. l, xvi. 2, xxxvii. 1, i. 3, xiii. l, xxx. 6.Clement is writing on behalf of the Church of Rome to rebuke the Corinthians for rebelling against authority, and he tells them to “take up the Epistle of the blessed Paul the Apostle” and see how he rebukes them for party spirit. It would have been far more to the point to have referred to the Second Epistle in which St Paul rebukes them far more severely for rebellion. “Yet in the sixty-five chapters of Clement’s epistle there is not a single sentence which indicates that he had ever heard that the Corinthians has before his own time rebelled against those set over them, or that they had ever repented of their rebellion, though he tells the Corinthians that he has handled every argument”(Kennedy, The Second and Third Epistles to the Corinthians, p. 147). The absence of any clear quotation may be regarded as conclusive. “In the whole field of literature it would hardly be possible to adduce a stronger case of proof” (Rendall, The Epistles of St Paul to the Corinthians, p. 91). The inference is that 2 Corinthians in A.D. 96 was not known in the Church of Rome; it had not yet been circulated through the Churches.

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Alfred Plummer’s Thessalonian Commentaries

The Rev. Alfred Plummer wrote a number of commentaries on the books of the New Testament. As he died more than 70 years ago these are now in the public domain, so I have digitised his two-volume set on Paul’s Letters to the Thessalonians:

Alfred Plummer [1841–1926], A Commentary on St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians. London: Robert Scott, 1918. Hbk. pp.116. Click here to download in PDF.

Alfred Plummer [1841–1926], A Commentary on St. Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians. London: Robert Scott, 1918. Hbk. pp.118. Click here to download in PDF.

Alfred Plummer [1841–1926],

A Commentary on St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians.


The Epistles to the Thessalonians do not tell us a great deal about the city in which these most interesting converts of the Apostle of the Gentiles lived; but what they tell us harmonizes very well with what we learn from other sources. The passage of the Gospel from Asia to Europe is a momentous event in the history of the Apostolic Age; and it took place when St. Paul, in obedience to what he believed to be a Divine command, ‘set sail from Troas’ and came ‘to Philippi, which is a city of Macedonia, the first of the district, a Roman colony’ (Acts xvi. 8-14). To us this means the spread of Christianity from one continent to another. But that is not the way in which it is regarded in the N.T., in which the word’ Europe’ does not occur, and in which ‘Asia’ never means the continent of Asia. The Apostle of the Gentiles and his historian, St. Luke, seem rather to have regarded the event as a passage from Eastern to Western civilization, an advance from a world in which the best elements had centred in Judaism to a world in which the best elements were found in the art and thought of Greece, and in the political and military organization of Rome.

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