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hidden purpose of God, to be, that the Gentiles as well as the Jews should be partakers of the blessings of the Gospel, and that through the goodness of God he was appointed to be the Apostle of the Gentiles; he desires the Ephesians not to be dejected on account of his sufferings, and closes this part of the Epistle with an affectionate prayer and a sublime doxology (g). In the last three chapters, St. Paul gives the Ephesians many practical exhortations; and in particular, he recommends union, purity of manners, veracity, and meekness (h); he enjoins charity, and forbids every species of licentiousness; he enforces the duties of wives, of husbands (i), of children, of fathers, of servants, of masters; he recommends watchfulness and firmness in the Christian warfare, and concludes the Epistle with a general benediction (k).
(8) C. 3. (h) C. 4. (i) C.5. (k) C.6.
CHAPTER THE FOURTEENTH.
OF THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS,
I. Dute of this Epistle, and Occasion of its being
written.-II. Its Contents. 1. PHILIPPI was a city of Macedonia, and a Roman colony, not far from the borders of Thrace. It was the first place at which St. Paul preached the Gospel upon the continent of Europe, in the year 51. He made many converts there, who soon afterwards gave strong proofs of their attachment to himn(a). He was at Philippi a second time, but nothing which then occurred is recorded.
The Philippian Christians, having heard of St. Paul's imprisonment at Rome, with their accustomed zeal, sent Epaphroditus to assure him
(a) C. 4. v. 15.
of the continuance of their regard, and to offer him a supply of money. This Epistle was written in consequence of that act of kindness; and it is remarkable for its strong expressions of affection. As the Apostle tells the Philippians that he hoped to see them shortly (6), and there are plain intimations (c) in the Epistle of his having been some time at Rome, it is probable that it was written in the year 62, towards the end of his confinement.
- II. St. Paul, after a salutation in his own name, and in that of Timothy, declares his thankfulness to God for having made the Philippians partake of the blessings of the Gospel, and prays for their farther improvement in knowledge and righteousness; he informs them that his confinement had contributed to the furtherance of the Gospel, and declares his readiness to die in its cause, or live for its promotion; he exhorts them with great warmth and earnestness, to live as it becometh the Gospel of Christ, being in nothing terrified by their adversaries (d); to live in harmony with each other, and to practise the virtue of humility after the example of Christ; he encourages them to work out their salvation,
and expresses his intention of sending Timothy to them soon, and some hope of visiting them himself; in the meantime he tells them that he had sent back Epaphroditus, their messenger, who had been detained at Rome by a dangerous illness (e); he cautions them against false teachers, with particular reference to Judaizers, and gives some account of himself and of his zeal for the Gospel, which he advises the Philippians to imitate (f). In the last chapter he adds farther exhortations, expresses his satisfaction and thankfulness for their repeated liberality, and concludes with salutations, and his usual benediction.
" It is a strong proof,” says Chrysostom,“ of the virtuous conduct of the Philippians, that they did not afford the Apostle a single subject of complaint; for in the whole Epistle, which he wrote to them, there is nothing but exhortation and encouragement, without the mixture of any censure whatever (g)."
(e) C. 2. (f) C. 3. (8) Preface to this Epistle.
CHAPTER THE FIFTEENTH.
OF THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS. 1. The Occasion of this Epistle being written, and its
Date.-II. Whether St. Paul when he wrote it, had been at Colosse. III. By whom the Church at Colosse was founded.-IV. The Substance of this Epistle.
1. The Christians of Colosse, a city of Phrygia, in Asia Minor, having heard of St. Paul's imprisonment at Rome, sent Epaphras thither to inform him of the state of their affairs, and to enquire after his welfare. In return for that mark of attention, St. Paul, while he was still in confinement, and probably in the year 62, wrote this Epistle to the Colossians, and sent it to them by Tychicus and Onesimus. Epaphras was cast into prison after his arrival at Rome; and it is generally supposed that he had provoked the displeasure of the Roman government by his zeal in preaching the Gospel.