Full Text for The Primitive Christians, part 1 (Text)

(ttnurnr~iu aJqtnlngirul ilnutlJly Continuing LEHRE UND WEHRE MAGAZIN FUER Ev.-LuTH. HOMILETIK THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY-THEOLOGICAL MONTHLY Vol. V October, ,1.934 No. 10 CONTENTS Page Rede zur Eroe:lfnung der Synodalkonferenz. L. Fuerbringer • 737 The Primitive Christians, E. G. Sihler •••••••••••••••••••• 741 Die Gnadenwahl nach Zeit und Ewigkeit. J. T. Mueller •••• 748 Externalism and Sacramentalism. P. E. Kretzmann. • • • • • • • •• 757 Von dem Beruf der Lehrerinnen an christlichen Gemeinde- schulen. G. Stoeckhardt t. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 764 Sermon Study on 1 Tim. 4, 4-11. T. Laetsch ••••••••••••• 774 Sepnons and Outlines ............................... 782 Miscellanea ......................................... 789 Theological Observer. - Kirchlich-Zeitgeschichtliches ..•.. 791 Book Review. - Literatur ............................ 807 Em Prediger muss nicbt a11em weiden, also dass er die Schafe unterwelse, wle sie recbte Ohrtsten BOllen &em, BOndern aucb daneben den Woelfen tDehr.m, dass sle die Schafe nl~ht lIJ\grel1en und mit fol!:ch~r Lehre verfuehren und Irrtum e1n. fuehren. - LuIAef'. Es 1st kem Ding, daa die Leute mehr bel der Kircbe bebaelt denn die lUte Predlgt. - Apologie, An.~. If the trumpet give an uncertain BOund, who shall prepare himself to the hattie f 1 Cor.~, B. Published for the Ev. Luth. Synod of l!rtissouri, Ohio, and Other States CONCORDIA PUBLISHING HOUSE, St. Louis, Mo. The Primitive Christians. 741 The Primitive Christians. I. They were first called N azarenes or Galileans. The name Ohris- tians, or Messiah believers, was first applied to them at Antioch (Acts 11, 29), and, it seems, in scorn. The Messiah in whom the Jews hoped was something entirely different. Their conception of Him was connected with the Temple tax, which was annually sent to Jerusalem from all the provinces of the Roman Empire. Let us hear Philo of Alexandria, who flourished at the beginning of the Ohristian era. "The Temple has as resources not only sections of land, but even much greater other ones, which will not be destroyed by time. For as long as the human race shall endure, always will the resources of the Sanc- tuary be guarded, enduring coequally with the universe. For it has been ordained that every year those [Jews] beginning with twenty years shall offer up first-fruits. The contributions are called 'first- fruits'; hence, too, they give the first-fruits most eagerly, radiant and rejoicing. It happens that, as the nation [of the Jews] is most populous, the first-fruits, too, are most copious. For in almost every town there is a treasury of the sacred fund, into which it is customary to enter and pay first-fruits." (Philo, De ][onarchia, II, 3.) Else- where Philo says: "And when they shall get this unexpected freedom, they, who a little while before were scattered" (the Diaspora) in the Greek and non-Greek world, "over islands and continents, rising with a single impulse, some from this, some from that, point, they set out eagerly toward the one spot appointed." (De Execrationibus, II, 436.) It is curious how our Lord's disciples themselves clung to such worldly visions (Matt. 20,20). Salome, the moth61' of James and John, when our Lord was going up to Jerusalem for the laBt time, Matt. 20, 21, said: "Grant that my two sons may sit, the one on Thy right hand and the other on the left in Thy kingdom." They under- stood not, even then, the spiritual character of this },{essiahship. With terrible distinctness He foretold the end of Jerusalem, Matt. 23, 37. Even those closest to Him had not yet learned that the Kingdom is in the souls of men, Luke 17, 21. And so the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, after the crucifixion, said: "But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel" (chiefly from the Roman yoke), Luke 24,21. Even after His resurrection they asked of Him, saying: "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel!" As for the Jews, they, even before the beginning of the Ohristian era, had absolute freedom of worship; such privileges had been guar- anteed them by Oaesar, by Augustus, by Agrippa, by Olaudius (as attested by a proclamation preserved in a papyrus of Egypt). See Biblical Review, 1925, p. 563: "Wherefore still even now I solemnly 742 The Primitive Christians. adjure the people of Alexandria to bear themselves in a kindly and gentle manner toward the Jews, who have resided in the same city long ago, and not to commit outrages on their established usages of worship, but let them enjoy the same customs which also they did enjoy under the div~ts Augustus." We also know that the messengers who carried the annual contributions of money for the Temple to Jerusalem were protected by imperial decrees issued from Rome. These funds were large, even in Oicero's time. I now quote from my Oicero of ArpinumJ p. 199: "During Oicero's own consular year" (63 B. 0.) "his famous friend" (Pompey) "had taken Palestine, a mere minor appanage - to the conqueror's vision - of Syria. Many Jews then were Roman citizens, and their compact organization and cooperation was well known to the political or social observer. Now, Flaccus" (as proconsul of the province of Asia) "had issued an edict that no gold was to be exported from his province to Palestine. This was the annual usage among the Hebrews of the Mediterranean world. Perhaps Flaccus appropriated these exportations nnom pretense of in- hibiting them." (Imperial protection came later.) The following words of Oicero illustrate for us how a given religion was considered strictly a political and national thing: "Each state has its own re- ligion. We have our own. While Jerusalem is standing, and after the Jews have been subjected, still the religion of those rituals was shrinking from all contact with the brilliancy of this empire, the im- pressive might of our name, the customs of our ancestors, now indeed the more so because that people made a display by armed resistance, of the sentiments which it entertained of our sway. How dear it was to the immortal gods is taught by the fact that it was vanquished, has been defeated, has been let out" (to the tax collectors), "that it has been enslaved." So a state religion depended on a state's power. Mter the fall of Jerusalem, 70 A. D., every Jew in the empire was ordered to make his annual contribution to the temple of Jupiter Optimu8 :Maximus on the Oapitoline Hill at Rome. But the religion of Ohrist was to be not for any single nation, but for all the world. After His resurrection our Lord said to His disciples: "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature," Mark 16, 15. And so the British and Foreign Bible Society in London has translated the Bible into many hundred languages and dialects, and as you enter the offices in London, 146 Victoria Street, you observe these words, chiseled in marble: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but :My words shall not pass away," Mark 13, 31. The ethics of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the stern tenets of the Stoics, with their glorincation of the sage's soul, the gods of the Greeks being changed to the forces of nature, all these have become dry leaves, re- posing in the herbaria of classical seminars. Whereas the parables of the :Merciful Samaritan and of the Prodigal Son are an enduring The Primitive Christians. 743 blessing- and directive for all the children of men, and for all time, appealing at once to the hearts and consciences of all mankind, let- tered or unlettered; they are what the sun is to the human eye or pure air to the human lungs. Even in Athens, in St. Paul's day, Greek religion had become mainly an archeological thing of architecture, marble, and bronze. He spoke of the countless idols there; his spirit was stirred within him when he saw the city wholly given up to idolatry (literally covered with idols), Acts 17, 16. The Stoics and the Epicureans in no wise affected the traditional idolatry. The entire first book of Pausanias is devoted to the temples and figures. The xoan-a, the figures carved from hard wood, older than bronze and marble, were much more honored than the supreme works of Phidias, Polyclitus, or Praxiteles. But no real spiritual attitude to these man-made :figures of the scupltors and poets, the gods of Greece, was possible; they were men and women, lustful, selfish, vain, vindictive, and as for conduct and conscience the First Psalm is infinitely mure precious and sovereign to the soul than all the mythology of Homer and Hesiod, while the few legends of Rome are absolutely without any spiritual content. We have two epistles of St. Paul to the Corinthians: let us learn something apropos from Strabo, a contemporary of Augustus, who died under Tiberius. At Corinth the fame of Aphrodite (Venus) was once so high that the city possessed some 1,000 iCsacred" or iCcon- secrated" handmaids of the lust-goddess (Strabo, p. 3783), whose in- come, nay, wealth, came largely from the sailors and commercial folk coming to the Isthmian emporium, most of the women's fees going to the priests. One of the girls boasted that she had in a short time "furled three sails," i. e., ruined three skippers. In Corinth, in St. Paul's time, there was also a temple of Octavia, the sister of Augustus. Passing now to the Tiber and the capital of the world, we quote from the young Stoic the poet Persius of the N eronian age: "Most of our magnates pray for what they dare not utter aloud. Anyone can hear their petitions for a sound mind and good report, but the prayers for the death of an uncle, a ward, a wife, the prayer for sudden gain, are mere whispers. Strange that, in order to prepare for such im- pieties as these, men should go through all the manners of lustral services and entrust to the ears of Jove what they would not breathe to any mortal." J uvenal wrote (X, 23) : "The foremost vows and those most familiar to all the temples - are for riches." The Jews in Rome (Jewish Encyclopedia, s. v. Diaspora) had five cemeteries in the suburbs. Eight thousand J ewe in Rome escorted the delegates from Jerusalem who demanded the deposition of Arche- laus (6 A. D.). Augustus banished him to Gaul. Ther.e were eight 744 The Primitive Christians. synagogs in Rome; according to Reinach the members bore these names: Augustinians, Agrippians, V olumnians, Oampensians (on Oampus Martius), Suburians (the subura quarter was the Bowery of Rome), Hebraians (probably the only one still using the Hebrew Ian:' guage in their worship and not the Septuagint), Elaians, Oascaresians. II. It is very difficult for us modern Ohristians to realize the attitude of the primitive Ohristians to the world and of the world to them. Our Lord first took the name of the physical universe, the kosmos, and applied it to non-Ohristian humanity; Ohrist had established a veri- table abyss between His own Ohurch and the world as well as Judaism with its ceremonial, its holidays, its permitted and forbidden food. "If the world hates you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you," John 15, 18. So also He said before Pilate: ''My kingdom is not of this world." In the first place, the new society was universal, all- embracing, and knew no ranks, classes, racial divisions, or nations. "Where there is neither Greek nor Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Ohrist is all and in all," 001. 3, 11. Then the hatred· for the new religion: "And ye shall be hated of all nations for My name's sake," Matt. 24, 9. Why? When we compare the ethics of the Beatitudes with the narrow and exclusive tenets of Plato and Aristotle, we marvel. Plato was interested in an intellectual aristocracy; he had no concern whatever for the common people. Aristotle wrote with contempt of craftsmen and slaves. (Pol, I,ll.) Now, the very disciples of our Lord were of humble rank, John and James, Peter and Andrew, were fishermen. Elsewhere Aristotle wrote that the slave is the body of the master, the master the soul of the slave. (Ethica N icomachia, VIII, 13.) It is notable, too, that the term witness (martyr, Greek) of Ohrist in the history of the Ohristian Ohurch assumed the meaning of martyr, who having borne witness of Ohrist, i. e., having confessed his belief in Ohrist, gave up his life for the confession, became a martyr. Now it is clear that in many parts of the Roman Empire, even before the N eronian persecution, 64 A. D., the name of Ohristian was one of great danger to the bearer, or confessor. The First Epistle of St. Peter was addressed, in the main, to Jewish Ohristians; the very term Diaspora betokens this. Peter names the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Oappadocia, Bithynia, Asia (the Roman province 80 called, of which Ephesus was the capital). In chap. 1, 18 we read of the "an- cestral mode of living." What does Peter mean? The King James version gives it thus: "from your vain conversation [the Greek is anastrophe] received by tradition from your fathers," i. e., the feast- days, Sabbaths, forbidden and permitted foods, all of which the Ohris- tian converts abandoned. Now, who stirred the hatred directed at the Ohristians in these eastern provinces of the empire? Olearly those The Primitive Christians. 745 who resented the abandonment of Judaism by converted Ohristian Jews - the first Jews of the Diaspora. As long as the new converts had been consistent Jews, they were free from all persecution, pro- tected in their traditional worship by the Roman government, from Oaesar o~ward. Now, who would resent the abandonment by the new OhristiaIi of the synagog and the Jewish life but the orthodox J ews ~ We ~ust especially examine 1 Pet. 4, 12 ff.-5, 14: "if ye are re- proached" (abused, Ol'StlJiCBI1I')S) "for the name of Ohrist"; v.16: "yet if any man suffer as a Ohristian." The Roman government in the East was of course perfectly indifferent as to whether a Jew aban- doned the synagog. Not so, of course, the leaders of the Jews; they clearly strove to bind up the following of Ohrist with disloyalty to the emperor at Rome, Ohrist being an authority superior to all terrestrial rulers. And the secular interpretation of the Messiah name in time seems to have become a sufficient cause and justification of perse- cution. That is why Peter stressed the political loyalty of the Ohris- tian converts, 1 Pet. 2, 13 (I attempt a closer version of my own): "Subject yourselves to every human institution on account of our Lord, be it to the emperor, as having supreme power, or to the pro- consuls appointed by him," etc. This brings us to St. Paul to the Galatians. The persecutions of St. Paul, fairly unbroken until his appeal to the emperor, brought him from Oaesarea to Rome, where he arrived in March, 61 A. D. - these persecutions of St. Paul were all caused by the Jews. He reprimands the Galatian Ohristians for resuming Jewish habits after his departure. The passage which in my opinion must figure large in our present inquiry is found in Gal. 6, 12: "As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh" (simeoaro:rtstv, assume a specious outward display, i. e., of loyalty, I think), "they constrain you to be circumcised, only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Ohrist." What was the episcopus of the primitive Ohristian Ohurch ~ Olearly not the "bishop" of later times. The change from paganism to Ohristianity was a radical step; a new life was demanded, for the change from paganism was a practical and incisive one. The epi- scopus was an overseer, who, among other things, satisfied himself in some orderly way that the old life was abandoned and the new life begun. How such officials were "appointed" we see in Acts 14,23. The Ohristian converts were taught by oral instruction ("aT1')xiro); they were catechumens before baptism. What were they taught? The words and deeds of our Lord as we now have them in the gospels; but this teaching by word of mouth must have been practised from the beginning, before the gospels were written or spread abroad. And so the introductory words of St. Luke, addressed to a gentleman in Antioch, are full of suggestion. Theophilus himself had been a cate- chumen before he was baptized: "Many had undertaken to arrange in 746 The Primitive Christians. order the matters which had been accomplished among the Ohristians just as they handed them down who from the beginning were direct witnesses" (avr6:rn:a" literally "sel£seers," a term used also by Polybius as a requisite of trustworthy and genuine historiography) "and ser- vants" (clearly our Lord's disciples are meant) "of the Word.~' Further, what was meant by the "mystery" of the Ohristian reve- lation and service? It was essentially, the incarnation of Ohrist, the unparalleled combination of the human with the divine, without any analogy in all the records or speculation of mankind; and so St. Paul concludes his Epistle to the Romans, sent from Oorinth about Feb- ruary, 58 A. D. (Zahn), 16,25: "and the preaching of Jesus Ohrist, according to the revelation of the mystery," etc. The story of Ohrist was indeed a "mystery," revealed to the initiated, not at all a mytho- logical legend and rites, such as those of Eleusis, but a narrative of facts, which within a generation after the ascension of Ohrist were preached from Jerusalem to the Euphmtes and also from Jerusalem to the Pillars of Hercules in the West. But there is another passage in St. Paul which is extremely significant and seems to give us a glance into the services of the primitive Ohurch. I refer to 1 Tim. 3, 16. This summary of the Ohristian faith is now edited by eminent scholars like Nestle and Westcott in six distinct strophes, perhaps to be recited by presbyter and worshiping congregation antiphonically: "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness" (the essential element of Ohristian faith and worship): "God" (8sc;', another reading 8r;, "who") "was manifest in the flesh, was justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached among Gentiles" (the nations), "was believed on in the world, received up into glory.". There was absolute freedom in the Roman Empire to abstain from, nay, to attack, any provincial form of religion. In the capital the Jupiter religion was by no means an exclusive or dominant thing. The mysteries of Isis an Osiris had countless worshipers in Rome. The Artemis of Ephesus and the silversmiths who made a living from visitors, all this is related in full by Luke in the Acts. This service was really more Asiatic than Greek. We read many details in Acts 19, and it is noteworthy that Paul first taught in a synagog and then in the school of a Greek grammatic us. Paul even counted the Asiarchs as friends. At this point it may be well to cite some of the data which Wood, a British archeologist, ascertained in digging on the site of ancient Ephesus (1863-1875). Pausanias (VII, 2, 6) says the wor- ship of Artemis was much older than the settlement of that coast by the Ionians. The Artemision lay seaward from the city proper. Near to it was the sanctuary of Augustus (the Sebasteion). (At Alexan- dria there was a temple of Augustus near the chief native sanctuary, the Sarapeion.) More and more in the Mediterranean world the cult of the Roman emperor was overshadowing the local cults. Distin- The Primitive Christians. 747 guished citizens of Ephesus were honored with the title of neokoros (temple-warden). Every citizen of Ephesus was ranged as a wor- shiper of Artemis. It seems clear that no Jew or Ohristian could be a full citizen of Ephesus, because they could not share in the worship of Artemis, with which, as we saw, that of the Roman emperors was curiously bound up. As for the Olympian mythology, Pliny the Elder, who wrote under Vespasian and before, declared the traditional religion of the Greeks a mass of absurdities. Olearly, the Ohristians suffered not for abstaining from the traditional temples and altars, but chiefly, I think, for refusing to share in the emperor cult. But let us cite Pliny the Elder, the veritable cyclopedia of erudition at the beginning of the Ohristian era (see my From Augustus to Augustine, 1923, p. 81): "To believe in matrimonial unions indeed among gods, and that in so long an age no one is born of them and that some are always aged and gray, others young men and boys, of swarthy complexion, wearing wings, lame (Vulcan), sprung from eggs (Helena), living and dying on alternate days (Oastor and Pollux), is a matter of almost childish craziness. But the extremity of impudence it is that adul- terous relations between them should be invented and, by and by, feuds and hatreds and that there should be divinities of theft and crimes. Godlike it is for one illortal to help another, and that is the road to eternal glory; it is by this way that the great men of Rome passed; it is by this now, that with the step of gods strides, with his sons, the greatest ruler of all times, Vespasian Augustus, devoted as he is to the service of the weary world." The following emperors were honored with the epithet divus, voted by the Senate: Oaesar, Augus- tus, Olaudius, Vespasian, Titus; not so honored were Tiberius, Oalig- ula, Nero, Domitian. One could safely scorn the gods, but to abstain from the cult of the deified emperors was another matter. How early the foul charges against the (secret) services of the Ohristians sprang up or who fostered and spread them I do not know. The fullest ex- position of these charges is found in the Octavius of Minucius Felix, written about 230 A. D. We pause to marvel at the long duration of these terrible charges. "And they who talk of a man who was pun- ished with the severest form of execution" (the cross) "for crime and" (who talk) "of the deadly wood of the cross as an emblem of their religion assign them altars which befit depraved and criminal men, so that they worship what they deserve" (the cross). "Further, the cur- rent talk (fabu.la) as to how neophytes are initiated is as awful as it is familiar." (What now follows is perhaps a caricature of the Lord's Supper.) "An infant covered with grain, so as to deceive those who are not apprized, is placed before him who is to be initiated. This infant, by means of a covering of grain, is slain by the neophyte" (who has been invited, as it were, to deal some harmless stabs) "by 748 IDie ®nnDcntva~I nndj ~tui(lteit nnb ,Beit. unseen and secret wounds. The blood of this" (infant) "- for shame! - they lap with eager thirst; by this victim" (hostia) "they are bound in association; through this complicity of crime are they pledged to mutual silence. These rites are more abominable than any form of sacrilege." We also learn that Oornelius Fronto, who was tutor to the later emperor Marcus Aurelius, charged that they practised indiscriminate sexual profligacy in the dark - I dare not stain this page. Do we wonder that the Ohristians were bitterly hated? (The King James version [1611J of Jude 12 translates [urana,] "feasts of charity"; to- day we would say "love-feasts.") Mount Vernon, N. Y. E. G. SIHLER. (To be concluded.) c;l)ie ~ultbeuit1ltfjI Ultdj ~it1igfeit nub 3dt. 1. Sl'oniroberfen Iaffen ficq leicqt in brei ®ru\:l\:len einteHen. :rlie erfte ®rU\:l\:le oefte~t aU§ folcqen, tuo ficq bel' cqriftricqe ~olemifer vis-a-vis foIcqer ®egner finbe±, bie trot arrer ~ere~rung bei i~rem ~rrtum berfjarren unb bie @5cqriftre~re burcqau§ nicqt anne~men tuorren. :rla ift e§ benn fefjr erffiirIicq, tuesfjaIb tuucqtig crugefjauen tuirb, roie bies Eutfjer befonber§ in feinen retten Eefjrftreitigfeiten mit ben ~a\:liften unb @5aframentierern getan qat. :rlann giM es Sl'ontroberfen, tuobei fid} bel' ®egner im ~rrtum berftricH finbd, fidj abel' au§ bel' @5djrift belefjren Iaf3t unb- f clbft fIeif3ig tueiterforf djt, tuie e§ fidj mit bel' ~afjrqeit berfjarten mag. ~acq Eutfjer§ ;itob berneinie Bum ~eif\:lier ®eorg Sl'arg, bieIIeicqt beffer belannt unter feinem Iatinifierten ~amen, ~arfimoniu§, ben tatigen ®efjorfam ~fjrifti (obedientia activa) ai§ fur bie funbige ~eIt gefcqefjen unb .liefjau\:ltde, ~fjriftus fjabe nul' burcq feinen Ieibenben ®efjorfam (obedientia passiva) fur uns genuggeian. Sl'arg tuar nidjt &;;lardifer, tuie e±tun D. (Ed ober aucq 2tDingIi. @5eThft ein BeittDeiHge§ feite§ ~eftefjen aUf teinem ~rrtum ftem\:leIt iijn nicqt aI§ einen ;itfjeologen, bel' feine !8ernunft nicqt unter ben ®eijorfam ~ijrifti gefangennefjmen tuill. ~arfimonius tuiberrief feinen ~rrtum im ~afjre 1570 in fjocqft efjrenber ~eife unb tuurbe aI§.liaIb tuieber in rein ~mt eingefett. :rlie !8erfjanblungen bel' ~ittenberger ~afurtat uber ben genannten @5ireit\:lunft tDaren bemgemaf3 aucq fjiicqit maf3ig gefjarten unb erreicqten fo ifjr .:Bier aUf treffIicqe ~eife. @5djIietIidj grot e§ abel' aucq eine Sl'ategorie bOn S\!ontroberf en, mobd, burcq alledei llmitanbe beranIaf3±, rebIicq meinenbe ;itfjeologen li.lier bie @5cqriftIefjre fjinau§gefjen unb im (Eifel' be§ ®efecqt§ befjaU\:lten, ma§ fie felber nicqt in foro veritatis fjarten tuollen. :rlen eifrigen unb ta\:lferen j8odam\:lfer fur Die @5cqrifttDafjrfjeit, ben fo treuen g:reunb bel'