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and brought a foul blot upon his memory. His repentance, however, was equally remarkable, and his subsequent life and labors prove him to have been one of the most eminent of the disciples, and most useful of the apostles of Jesus Christ.
Very little is known for certain of this distinguished minister of the gospel, beside what is mentioned in the New Testament, until the admission of the Gentiles into the church of Christ, Acts xv. The Roman Catholics assert that he was bishop of Rome for twentyfive years; but we have no evidence beyond contradictory tradition, that he ever was at Rome, much less that he was bishop of the Christian church in that city. Tradition reports that he came to Rome during the persecution under Nero; and that he was apprehended and put to death about three miles from the city. It is also said, that being sentenced to be crucified, and remembering his shameful denial of his Saviour, he requested that he might be allowed to suffer with his head downwards, as unworthy to die in the same position as his Master, which was the manner of his punishment, A. D. 66. We possess two epistles written by this devoted apostle.
J U D E .
Jude, or Lebbeus, the apostle, surnamed Thaddeus, was the brother of James the Less, and the writer of the epistle which bears his name. At the commencement of his ministry, he preached the gospel in Judea, Samaria, Galilee and Idumea, and afterwards in Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia, confirming his doctrines with miracles. We have no certain information as to the place where he terminated his ministry, though it is related by some that the magii put him to death in Persia.
JMatthew wrote his gospel for the use of the Hebrew believers, and, as is supposed by some, in their own language, about five years after the ascension of Christ. This book is the only part of the New Testament which is believed to have been written in Hebrew.
.Mark. The gospel according to Mark is supposed to have been written about A. D. 61, under the direction of the apostle Peter, for the use of the Gentiles, to whose conversion the ministry of that apostle had been effectual. It records most of the things contained in Matthew, with some few additional particulars, but in a more concise form.
Luke. The gospel according to Luke, was written for the use of the Gentile Christians, and dedicated to Theophilus, a nobleman converted to the faith of Christ.
John. The precise year in which John wrote his gospel is not agreed upon among the learned. The reasons for the writing of this gospel were, to preserve several of the most important and edifying discourses of Christ, not recorded by the other evangelists.
A C T S .
The book of the Acts is a kind of history of the ministry and actions of the apostles, from which it derives its name. It forms a most desirable supplement to the four gospels, and a necessary introduction to the several Epistles.
Paul had for a long time purposed to visit the Roman church, but being prevented, he was inspired to write this
epistle for their instruction, exhibiting to them fully the whole gospel economy. The epistle to the Romans is “a writing which, for sublimity and truth of sentiment, for brevity and strength of expression, for regularity in its structure, but above all for the unspeakable importance of the discoveries which it contains, stands unrivalled by any mere human composition, and as far exceeds the most celebrated productions of the learned Greeks and Romans, as the shining of the sun exceeds the twinkling of the stars.”—Macknight.
The first epistle having been useful to promote a reformation in that church, especially in many whose conduct had been scandalous, some false teachers were offended with the apostle, and blamed him for interfering in their affairs.
The second epistle was intended to comfort the penitents, and to justify the character of the apostle.
Galatians. The Galatians were a people inhabiting a large district of Asia Minor, among whom Christianity was planted by the ministry of Paul. These churches consisted of both Jewish and Gentile converts, many of whom, in a short time, were drawn away from the simplicity of Christian doctrine, and the great essentials of the gospel, by some false teachers, who insinuated that Paul was not properly an apostle of Christ, but only a missionary deputed from the church at Jerusalem. To refute their errors, and to establish the Galatians in other doctrines, the apostle was directed to write this epistle.
Ephesians. Ephesus was a city of great note in Lesser Asia. It was celebrated on account of a magnificent temple dedicated to the fabulous goddess Diana, which was
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esteemed one of the wonders of the world. The Ephesians were deplorably sunk in degrading superstition and idolatry, and addicted to the grossest impurities. Among these people, however, the ministry of Paul was eminently blessed to the conversion of many. The church at Ephesus was founded about A. D. 54, and this epistle was written when the apostle was prisoner at Rome.
Philippians. The apostle Paul wrote this epistle while a prisoner at Rome, about A. D. 62, to instruct and encourage the believers in their profession of the gospel. The epistle is written in a style the most elegant, and it is filled with the loftiest sentiments, and the most affectionate exhortations to all the members of the Philippian church.
Colossians. This epistle was written about the same time as those to the Ephesians and Philippians, when the apostle was a prisoner at Rome.
Thessalonians. The first epistle to the Thessalonians was the means of much consolation to that people; but some expressions in it had been misapprehended by several members of the church. They were in expectation of the near approach of Christ, of the end of the world, and of the day of judgment; by which they were led to neglect their temporal affairs as inconsistent with the anticipation of that awful event. To correct this misapprehension, the tendency of which was so injurious to the interests of Christianity, the apostle was inspired to write this second epistle soon after the former.
T I M O T H Y I. I. I. — T IT U S. – PHIL E M O N.
Timothy I. Timothy the evangelist appears to have been a native of Lystria, a city of Lycaonia. His father was a Greek; but his mother Eunice, who was a Jewess, and his grandmother Lois, who were excellent persons, took such pious care of his education, that his mind was stored with the scriptures even from a child. He was brought to a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, when but a youth, by the ministry of Paul ; who, on a second visit to the brethren at Lystria, found Timothy in such high estimation by the church at that place, and at Iconium, that he chose him as his companion and assistant in his missionary labors. He accompanied Paul in his journeys, assisted him in his apostolic office, preaching the gospel, and establishing the infant churches; and he never left him except when sent on some special mission. To defend and preserve the purity of evangelical doctrine, and to regulate the discipline of the church at Ephesus, Timothy was left by the apostle in that city. Timothy II. The second epistle to Timothy was written by Paul, while he was a prisoner at Rome, and expecting the termination of his life by martyrdom, and, as many suppose, only a few months before that event happened. Titus. Titus was left by the apostle in Crete, as he says, “to set in order the things that were wanting, and to ordain elders in every city.” The epistle to Titus might not improperly be called the epistle to the Cretans, as it was designed not so much to instruct Titus, as to serve for a warrant to lay before them, to which he might appeal as his infallible directory in the regulation of the churches on that island. Philemon. This epistle was written by Paul, at Rome, about A. p. 64, for the purpose of reconciling Philemon to his slave Onesimus; who, having robbed his master, and fled to this city, was there converted to the faith of Christ by means of the apostle's ministry.