Alfred Plummer on the Gospel of Matthew

The following public domain commentary on the Gospel of Matthew is now available for free download in PDF.

Alfred Plummer [1841-1926], An Exegetical on the Gospel of S. Matthew, 2nd edn., 1920. London: Robert Scott, 1909. Hbk. pp.451. [This material is in the Public Domain]

Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew


The Author


In no case is the title to a book of the New Testament part of the original document. It was in all cases added by a copyist, and perhaps not by the first copyist. Moreover, in all cases it varies considerably in form, the simplest forms being the earliest. The “according to” neither affirms nor denies authorship; it implies conformity to a type, and need not mean more than “drawn up according to the teaching of.” But it is certain that the Christians of the first four centuries who gave these titles to the Gospels meant more than this: they believed, and meant to express, that each Gospel was written by the person whose name it bears. They used this mode of expression, rather than the genitive case used of the Epistles, to intimate that the same subject had been treated of by others; and they often emphasized the oneness of the subject by speaking of “the Gospel” rather than “the Gospels.” This mode of expression is accurate; there is only one Gospel, ‘the Gospel of God’ (Rom. i. 1) concerning His Son. But it has been given us in four shapes (Iren. III. xi. 8), and “according to “indicates the shape given to it by the writer named.

Was the belief of the first Christians who adopted these titles correct? Were the Gospels written by the persons whose names they bear? With the trifling exception of a few passages, we may believe this with regard to the Second, Third, and Fourth .Gospels: but it is very difficult to believe this with regard to the First, the authorship of which is a complicated problem not yet adequately solved. But the following results may be accepted as probable, and some of them as very probable.

Ancient testimony in favour of Matthew being the author is very strong. It begins with Papias and Irenaeus in the second•century, and is confirmed by Origen in the third and Eusebius in the fourth, not to mention a number of other early writers, whose evidence repeats, or is in harmony with, these four. Papias speaks of “the oracles” or “utterances” which Matthew composed; the other three speak of his “Gospel”. Assuming that the two expressions are equivalent, the testimony is uniform that the First Gospel was written in Hebrew by Matthew, the tax-collector and Apostle. In that case the Greek Gospel which has come down to us must be a translation from this “Hebrew” original.

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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.

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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.

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