Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter XXII
Chapter XXII.—Paul having been sent bound from Judea to Rome, made his Defense, and was acquitted of every Charge.
1. Festus 469 was sent by Nero to be Felixs successor. Under him Paul, having made his defense, was sent bound to Rome. 470 Aristarchus was with him, whom he also somewhere in his epistles quite naturally calls his fellow-prisoner. 471 p. 124 And Luke, who wrote the Acts of the Apostles, 472 brought his history to a close at this point, after stating that Paul spent two whole years at Rome as a prisoner at large, and preached the word of God without restraint. 473
2. Thus after he had made his defense it is said that the apostle was sent again upon the ministry of preaching, 474 and that upon coming to the same city a second time he suffered martyrdom. 475 In this imprisonment he wrote his second epistle to Timothy, 476 in which he mentions his first defense and his impending death.
3. But hear his testimony on these matters: “At my first answer,” he says, “no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” 477
4. He plainly indicates in these words that on the former occasion, in order that the preaching might be fulfilled by him, he was rescued from the mouth of the lion, referring, in this expression, to Nero, as is probable on account of the latters cruelty. He did not therefore afterward add the similar statement, “He will rescue me from the mouth of the lion”; for he saw in the spirit that his end would not be long delayed.
5. Wherefore he adds to the words, “And he delivered me from the mouth of the lion,” this sentence: “The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom,” 478 indicating his speedy martyrdom; which he also foretells still more clearly in the same epistle, when he writes, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” 479
6. In his second epistle to Timothy, moreover, he indicates that Luke was with him when he wrote, 480 but at his first defense not even he. 481 Whence it is probable that Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles at that time, continuing his history down to the period when he was with Paul. 482
7. But these things have been adduced by us to show that Pauls martyrdom did not take place at the time of that Roman sojourn which Luke p. 125 records.
8. It is probable indeed that as Nero was more disposed to mildness in the beginning, Pauls defense of his doctrine was more easily received; but that when he had advanced to the commission of lawless deeds of daring, he made the apostles as well as others the subjects of his attacks. 483
The exact year of the accession of Festus is not known, but it is known that his death occurred before the summer of 62 a.d.; for at that time his successor, Albinus, was already procurator, as we can see from Josephus, B. J. VI. 5. 3. But from the events recorded by Josephus as happening during his term of office, we know he must have been procurator at least a year; his accession, therefore, took place certainly as early as 61 a.d., and probably at least a year earlier, i.e. in 60 a.d., the date fixed by Wieseler. The widest possible margin for his accession is from 59–61. Upon this whole question, see Wieseler, p. 66 sqq. Festus died while in office. He seems to have been a just and capable governor,—in this quite a contrast to his predecessor.123:470
Acts xxv. sqq. The determination of the year in which Paul was sent as a prisoner to Rome depends in part upon the determination of the year of Festus accession. He was in Rome (which he reached in the spring) at least two years before the Neronic persecution (June, 64 a.d.), therefore as early as 62 a.d. He was sent from Cæsarea the previous autumn, therefore as early as the autumn of 61. If Festus became procurator in 61, this must have been the date. But if, as is probable, Festus became procurator in 60, then Paul was sent to Rome in the autumn of the same year, and reached Rome in the spring of 61. This is now the commonly accepted date; but the year 62 cannot be shut out (cf. Wieseler, ibid.). Wieseler shows conclusively that Festus cannot have become procurator before 60 a.d., and hence Paul cannot have been taken to Rome before the fall of that year.123:471
Col. iv. 10.124:472
See below, Bk. III. chap. 4.124:473
See Acts xxviii. 30.124:474
Eusebius is the first writer to record the release of Paul from a first, and his martyrdom during a second Roman imprisonment. He introduces the statement with the formula λόγος žχει, which indicates probably that he has only an oral tradition as his authority, and his efforts to establish the fact by exegetical arguments show how weak the tradition was. Many maintain that Eusebius follows no tradition here, but records simply his own conclusion formed from a study of the Pastoral Epistles, which apparently necessitate a second imprisonment. But were this the case, he would hardly have used the formula λόγος žχει. The report may have arisen solely upon exegetical grounds, but it can hardly have originated with Eusebius himself. In accordance with this tradition, Eusebius, in his Chron., gives the date of Pauls death as 67 a.d. Jerome (de vir. ill. 5) and other later writers follow Eusebius (though Jerome gives the date as 68 instead of 67), and the tradition soon became firmly established (see below, chap. 25, note 5). Scholars are greatly divided as to the fact of a second imprisonment. Nearly all that defend the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles assume a second imprisonment, though some (e.g. Wieseler, Ebrard, Reuss and others) defend the epistles while assuming only one imprisonment; but this is very difficult. On the other hand, most opponents of the epistles (e.g. the Tübingen critics and the majority of the new critical school) deny the second imprisonment. As to the place where Paul spent the interval—supposing him to have been released—there is again a difference of opinion. The Pastoral Epistles, if assumed to be genuine, seem to necessitate another visit to the Orient. But for such a visit there is no ancient tradition, although Paul himself, in the Epistle to the Philippians, expresses his expectation of making such a visit. On the other hand, there is an old tradition that he visited Spain (which must of course have been during this interval, as he did not reach it before the first imprisonment). The Muratorian Fragment (from the end of the second century) records this tradition in a way to imply that it was universally known. Clement of Rome (Epistle to the Corinthians, c. 5.) is also claimed as a witness for such a visit, but the interpretation of his words is doubtful, so that little weight can be laid upon his statement. In later times the tradition of this visit to Spain dropped out of the Church. The strongest argument against the visit is the absence of any trace of it in Spain itself. If any church there could have claimed the great apostle to the Gentiles as its founder, it seems that it must have asserted its claim and the tradition have been preserved at least in that church. This appears to the writer a fatal argument against a journey to Spain. On the other hand, the absence of all tradition of another journey to the Orient does not militate against such a visit, for tradition at any place might easily preserve the fact of a visit of the apostle, without preserving an accurate account of the number of his visits if more than one were made. Of the defenders of the Pastoral Epistles, that accept a second imprisonment, some assume simply a journey to the Orient, others assume also the journey to Spain. Between the spring of 63 a.d., the time when he was probably released, if released, and the date of his death (at the earliest the summer of 64), there is time enough, but barely so, for both journeys. If the date of Pauls death be put later with Eusebius and Jerome (as many modern critics put it), the time is of course quite sufficient. Compare the various Lives of Paul, Commentaries, etc., and especially, among recent works, Schaffs Church Hist. I. p. 231 sqq.; Weiss Einleitung in das N. T. p. 283 sqq.; Holtzmanns Einleitung, p. 295 sqq.; and Weizsäckers Apostolisches Zeitalter, p. 453 sqq.124:475
See below, chap. 25, note 6.124:476
Eusebius looked upon the Pastoral Epistles as undoubtedly genuine, and placed them among the Homologumena, or undisputed writings (compare Bk. III. chaps. 3 and 25). The external testimony for them is very strong, but their genuineness has, during the present century, been quite widely denied upon internal grounds. The advanced critical scholars of Germany treat their non-Pauline authorship as completely established, and many otherwise conservative scholars follow their lead. It is impossible here to give the various arguments for or against their genuineness; we may refer the reader particularly to Holtzmanns Die Pastoralbriefe, kritisch und exegetisch behandelt (1880), and to his Einleitung (1886), for the most complete presentation of the case against the genuineness; and to Weiss Einleitung in das N. T. (1886), p. 286 sqq., and to his Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, in the fifth edition of the Meyer Series, for a defense of their genuineness, and also to Woodruffs article in the Andover Review, October, 1886, for a brief and somewhat popular discussion of the subject. The second epistle must have been written latest of all Pauls epistles, just before his death,—at the termination of his second captivity, or of his first, if his second be denied.124:477
2 Tim. 4:16, 17.124:478
2 Tim. iv. 18.124:479
2 Tim. 4.6.124:480
See 2 Tim. iv. 11.124:481
See 2 Tim. iv. 16.124:482
This is a very commonly accepted opinion among conservative commentators, who thus explain the lack of mention of the persecution of Nero and of the death of Paul. On the other hand, some who accept Lukes authorship of the Acts, put the composition into the latter part of the century and explain the omission of the persecution and the death of Paul from the object of the work, e.g. Weiss, who dates the Gospel of Luke between 70 and 80, and thus brings the Acts down to a still later date (see his Einleitung, p. 585 sqq.). It is now becoming quite generally admitted that Lukes Gospel was written after the destruction of Jerusalem, and if this be so, the Acts must have been written still later. There is in fact no reason for supposing the book to have been written at the point of time at which its account of Paul ceases. The design of the book (its text is found in the eighth verse of the first chapter) was to give an account of the progress of the Church from Jerusalem to Rome, not to write the life of Paul. The record of Pauls death at the close of the book would have been quite out of harmony with this design, and would have formed a decided anti-climax, as the author was wise enough to understand. He was writing, not a life of Paul, nor of any apostle or group of apostles, but a history of the planting of the Church of Christ. The advanced critics, who deny that the Acts were written by a pupil of Paul, of course put its composition much later,—some into the time of Domitian, most into the second century. But even such critics admit the genuineness of certain portions of the book (the celebrated “We” passages), and the old Tübingen theory of intentional misrepresentation on the part of the author is finding less favor even among the most radical critics.125:483
Whether Eusebius conclusion be correct or not, it is a fact that Nero became much more cruel and tyrannical in the latter part of his reign. The famous “first five years,” however exaggerated the reports about them, must at least have been of a very different character from the remainder of his reign. But those five years of clemency and justice were past before Paul reached Rome.
Next: Chapter XXIII
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