Page images

and joined him in sending the epistle to the Colossians, (ver. 1.) Nevertheless he is, by the general expression under consideration excluded equally with Luke from the number of the apostle's fellow-labourers of the circumcision, notwithstanding he was born of a Jewish mother, (Acts xvi. 1.) was educated in the knowledge of the Jewish religion, (2 Tim. iii. 15.) and was circumcised by Paul, Acts xvi. 3. The reason is, he could not properly be called one of the circumcision, because he was not an Hebrew of the Hebrews. His father was a Greek or Gentile, which may have been the case with Luke also.

To prove that Luke was a Jew by birth, some have used the following argument. They observe that the apostle (Rom. xvi. 21.) mentions one Lucius, whom he calls his kinsman. This person they take to be Luke the evangelist, who without doubt was with the apostle when he wrote to the Romans. They think that, being Paul's companion, he would certainly be mentioned by him; and they affirm, that if he is not spoken of under the name of Lucius, he is no where else to be found in the epistle. Moreover, they imagine that in writing to the Romans, the apostle turned Luke's name into Lucius, as more agreeable to Latin ears, and affirm that the change is not more extraordinary than of Silas into Silvanus. But to render this argument conclusive, it should be proved that none of Paul's relations were married to Gentiles, otherwise his relation to Lucius will not prove the latter to have been a Jew by descent.

Many learned men have supposed that Lucius, mentioned Rom. xvi. 21. is the same with Lucius of Cyrene, spoken of Acts xiii. 1. and that in both passages the evangelist Luke is meant. If these suppositions are admitted, we will have some knowledge both of Luke's character and history. From Acts xi. 19,-21. xiii. 1,—4. it appears he was an early Jewish believer, and together with others was very serviceable in preaching the gospel to the Jews and Gentiles out of Judea. Moreover, his native place, Cyrene, gives reason to think that he was not a Jew of the most perfect order, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, but a Jew by religion, or at most, by one of his parents only.

Cave and Mill, with others, think it probable that Luke was converted by Paul. But there are no hints of this either in the Acts or Epistles; neither are there any expressions used by Paul in speaking of him or to him, which denote peculiar affection, nor any particular demonstrations of gratitude from Luke towards Paul as a spiritual father; circumstances which render it highly probable that Luke was a Christian long before his acquaintance. with Paul.

Epiphanius, and after him many of the ancients, have affirmed, that both Mark and Luke were of the number of the seventy disciples; and many learned moderns have gone into the same opi


nion, particularly Whitby and Heuman. The last mentioned author, in his dissertation concerning the seventy disciples, supposes that Matthias who succeeded Judas in the apostleship, and Joseph called Barsabas, and the seven deacons, or some of them, and the prophets of Antioch, Barnabas, and Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, were all of this number. The argument by which he supports his conjecture is ingenious; namely, that the office of the seventy disciples being temporary, their names are not recorded in the Gospels, neither were they formed into a college or company, as the twelve apostles were. They were but once sent out, and when they returned, their commission was at an end. Nevertheless, if after Christ's ascension any service occurred, which could not be managed by the apostles, it is reasonable to believe that persons, whose characters had been so publicly approved of, and so highly dignified by the choice which Jesus made of them, would be preferred to such a service before all others. The apostles and disciples would think, they could not make a better choice than their Master had done. Besides, these men being already exercised in the service of the gospel, were thereby fitted for farther usefulness; not to mention that they themselves would cheerfully embrace every opportunity of promoting their Master's interests, and on all occasions zealously exert themselves in his cause.-Some are of opinion, that the preface to Luke's Gospel forbids the application of this reasoning to him. For he speaks of himself as writing according to the information of the eye-witnesses, which it is thought implies that he was not one of the number himself. But to remove this objection, Heuman observes, that Luke's words imply no more, but that he was not one of the eye-witnesses from the beginning; that he may have been nevertheless a follower of Christ in the latter part of his ministry; and that though he was an eye-witness of many of the things which he relates, he very properly places the authority of his history on the testimony of the apostles. However, though Luke may have been one of the eye-witnesses, as Heuman supposes, it does not seem probable that he was one of the seventy disciples. The most ancient authors do not mention him as such; nor is it likely that he would be of their number, unless he was both a Jew by birth, and had his residence in Galilee, from which country our Lord appears to have chosen not only his apostles, but the seventy also.

It has been generally believed that Luke was a physician, because (Col. iv. 14.) the apostle says, "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas greet you." But some call this in question, pretending that if the apostle had been there speaking of the evangelist, it would have been superfluous to have mentioned the occupation of a person so well known. They affirm, therefore, that Luke the physician was different from Luke the evangelist. Calvin, Bas


[ocr errors]

nage, and Heuman, were of this opinion. But those who espouse the common notion, support it by this argument, that though Luke be here styled by his profession, yet being joined with Demas, he must be the evangelist, because in the other passages, where, according to the opinion of all, the evangelist is spoken of, he is joined with Demas, and both are called Paul's fellow-labourers, Philem. ver. 24. 2 Tim. iv. 10, 11. This argument is the more to be regarded, that the epistle to the Colossians, in which Luke is styled the physician, was sent at the same time with that to Philemon who was an inhabitant of Colosse.

What is certain concerning this evangelist from his own history of the Acts is, that he often attended Paul in his travels, and was his fellow-labourer in the gospel. The first time he speaks of himself as Paul's companion is Acts xvi. 10. where, using in his narration the first person plural, he intimates that he was one of Paul's company at Troas, before he took ship to go into Macedonia. He went with him therefore from Troas to Samothrace, then to Neapolis, and after that to Philippi. But it is observable, that having finished his account of the transactions at Philippi, he changes his style from the first to the third person plural, chap. xvii. I. nor does he any more speak of himself till Paul was departing from Greece, with the collection for the saints in Judea, Acts xx. 6. Here therefore he joined him again, accompanying him through Macedonia to Troas, and from thence to Jerusalem, where he abode with him. After this, Paul being sent prisoner from Cæsarea to Rome, Luke was in the ship with him during the whole of the voyage, came with him to Rome, and there abode ministering to him, as is plain from the salutations in the epistles which Paul wrote from that city. In all probability, therefore, Luke attended the apostle during the whole of his imprisonment; and as he published his history of the Acts before Paul's release, it can hardly be doubted that he composed it in Rome under the apostle's eye, while he waited on him. It is not certain indeed where he penned his Gospel. Cave supposes he did it at Rome likewise. But Jerome seems to contradict this; for he tells us that Luke, the third evangelist, published his Gospel in the countries of Achaia and Bacotia. Grotius imagines, that when Paul was released, Luke went into Greece and there wrote his Gospel. Nevertheless, as this work came abroad before the Acts, it is more natural to suppose that Luke employed himself in collecting and digesting the materials of his Gospel, while he travelled with Paul in Greece and Judea, before the latter was seized upon by the Jews in the temple; that he finished it while Paul was imprisoned in Cæsarea, and then undertook his history of the Acts of the Apostles. Both these treatises Luke inscribed to one Theophilus, an intimate friend of his own, who from his name is supposed to have been a Greek. The epi


thet (xgaris) most excellent wherewith he addressed him, shews him to have been a person of distinction; for it was usually given to men in the highest stations, such as præfects and governors of provinces. Accordingly we find it thus applied by Lysias in his letter to Felix, by Tertullus in his speech to Felix, and by Paul in his speech to Festus.

§ 2. We have already mentioned the tradition of Epiphanius, in which Mark the evangelist is represented to have been one of the seventy disciples, and we have given the reasons which seem to confirm that tradition, page 66. It now remains that we examine the books of the New Testament, in order to see what hints they furnish us for forming an history of this evangelist.

In the Acts and in the epistles, there is mention made of one John Mark; but both ancients and moderns, have doubted whether he be the evangelist. Among the moderns, Cave, Grotius, Du Pin and Tillemont, have thought them different persons. But Jones, Lightfoot, Wetstein, Lardner, and others, affirm them to have been one and the same. The chief reason which induced the ancients to consider them as different persons probably was, they found John Mark blamed by Paul for deserting him, while with Barnabas he preached the gospel to the Gentiles in Asia; and imagining that this conduct betrayed either cowardice or want of inclination to the service, they were not willing to attribute it to an evangelist; so made John Mark, who behaved in that faint-hearted manner, a different person from the author of the gospel. The moderns who follow the ancients in this opinion, have not been able to offer any reason of moment to support it. For though it should be allowed that the expression, Marcus my son, 1 Pet. v. 13. implies that Peter converted Mark, it is not inconsistent with the tradition mentioned by Epiphanius, that Mark was one of the seventy disciples. Mark may have been converted by Peter, when the latter was sent abroad with the twelve on their first mission in Christ's own life-time. Farther, that Mark, mentioned in the Acts, was called John, is no proof of his being a different person from the evangelist, it being well known that with the Jews it was customary to have more names than one. Besides, John Mark is sometimes called simply Mark, in the history of the Acts. Lastly, though John Mark sometimes attended Paul, it does not follow that he never was Peter's companion. He may have been often with both the apostles, though more frequently with Peter, as the ancients affirm. Accordingly, the first mention that is made of John Mark in the history, assures us of Peter's intimacy with him; for we are told, that after Peter was delivered from prison by the angel, he went straight to the house of John Mark's mother, Acts xii. 12. who it seems was his particular friend. Upon the whole, it is probable that Mark, the author of the gospel and companion of Peter, was the same


person with John Mark mentioned in the Acts, who was some time fellow-labourer with Barnabas and Paul.

John Mark was the son of a pious woman called Mary, who lived in Jerusalem, and who being an early convert, the disciples used to meet in her house for prayer and other religious exercises, Acts xii. 12. This Mary was the sister of Barnabas, Col. iv. 10. Therefore when Barnabas and Paul went to preach to the Gentiles, Barnabas took his nephew Mark along with them, in quality of their minister, Acts xiii. 5. But when they came to Perga in Pamphylia, Mark being either discouraged with the difficulties attending the work, or wanting sufficient inclination to prompt him to go on, he left the apostles and returned to Jerusalem, Acts xiii. 13. For this fault Paul opposed his being taken along with them a second time, notwithstanding Barnabas vehemently urged it. Their contention about this matter was so sharp that the apostles parted, Barnabas going away with Mark to Cyprus, Acts xv. 36.-41. It appears, however, that Paul afterwards was fully reconciled to Mark, for he mentions him with respect in several of his epistles. See Philem. ver. 24. Col. iv. 10. 2 Tim. iv. 11. Lastly, Bede and Cave suppose that Mark was a Levite, because Barnabas his mother's brother (Col. iv. 10.) was of that order, Acts iv. 16.

§ 3. For the history of Matthew and John, see the Paraphrase and Commentary, § 37.

[ocr errors]


§ 4. The evangelists Matthew and John being apostles, were eye-witnesses of most of the things they have related. They attended our Lord during his ministry; they heard him preach all his sermons, and saw him perform the greatest part of his miracles; they were present at his crucifixion; they conversed with him after his resurrection; and they beheld his ascension. sides, as apostles they possessed the gifts of illumination and utterance. By the former, they were absolutely secured from falling into error, in any point of doctrine, or matter of fact relating to the Christian scheme. By the latter, they were enabled to express themselves clearly and pertinently upon every subject of Christianity, which they had occasion to treat of either in their sermons or writings. These gifts our Lord had expressly promised to all his apostles, John xiv. 25. "These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." So likewise after his resurrection, Luke xxiv. 49. « And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." Farther, the apostles of the Lord spake by inspiration also in all the courts of justice and assemblies where they happened to be tried. This privilege their Master

« PreviousContinue »