Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter IV
p. 136 Chapter IV.—The First Successors of the Apostles.
1. That Paul preached to the Gentiles and laid the foundations of the churches “from Jerusalem round about even unto Illyricum,” is evident both from his own words, 601 and from the account which Luke has given in the Acts. 602
2. And in how many provinces Peter preached Christ and taught the doctrine of the new covenant to those of the circumcision is clear from his own words in his epistle already mentioned as undisputed, 603 in which he writes to the Hebrews of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. 604
3. But the number and the names of those among them that became true and zealous followers of the apostles, and were judged worthy to tend the churches founded by them, it is not easy to tell, except those mentioned in the writings of Paul.
4. For he had innumerable fellow-laborers, or “fellow-soldiers,” as he called them, 605 and most of them were honored by him with an imperishable memorial, for he gave enduring testimony concerning them in his own epistles.
5. Luke also in the Acts speaks of his friends, and mentions them by name. 606
6. Timothy, so it is recorded, was the first to receive the episcopate of the parish in Ephesus, 607 Titus of the churches in Crete. 608
7. But Luke, 609 who was of Antiochian parentage and a physician by profession, 610 and who was especially intimate with Paul and well acquainted with the rest of the apostles, 611 has left us, in two inspired books, proofs of that spiritual healing art which he learned from them. One of these books is the Gospel, 612 which he testifies that he wrote as those who were from the beginning eye witnesses and ministers of the word delivered unto him, all of whom, as he says, he followed accurately from the first. 613 The other book is the Acts of the Apostles 614 which he p. 137 composed not from the accounts of others, but from what he had seen himself.
8. And they say that Paul meant to refer to Lukes Gospel wherever, as if speaking of some gospel of his own, he used the words, “according to my Gospel.” 615
9. As to the rest of his followers, Paul testifies that Crescens was sent to Gaul; 616 but Linus, whom he mentions in the Second Epistle to Timothy 617 as his companion at Rome, was Peters successor in the episcopate of the church there, as has already been shown. 618
10. Clement also, who was appointed third bishop of the church at Rome, was, as Paul testifies, his co-laborer and fellow-soldier. 619
11. Besides these, that Areopagite, named Dionysius, who was the first to believe after Pauls address to the Athenians in the Areopagus (as recorded by Luke in the Acts) 620 is mentioned by another Dionysius, an p. 138 ancient writer and pastor of the parish in Corinth, 621 as the first bishop of the church at Athens.
12. But the events connected with the apostolic succession we shall relate at the proper time. Meanwhile let us continue the course of our history.
Rom. xv. 19.136:602
From Acts ix. on.136:603
In chap. 3, §1.136:604
1 Pet. i. 1.136:605
Philip. ii. 25; Philem. 2.136:606
Barnabas (Acts ix. 27, and often); John Mark (Acts 12:25, Acts 13:13, Acts 15:37, 39); Silas (Acts 15.40); Timothy (Acts 16.1 sqq. and often); Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18.); Erastus (Acts 19.22); Gaius of Macedonia (Acts 19.29); Aristarchus (Acts 19:29, Acts 20:4, Acts 27:2); Sopater, Secundus, Gaius of Derbe (perhaps the same as the Gaius of Macedonia?), and Tychichus (Acts 20.4); Trophimus (Acts 20:4, Acts 21:29).136:607
That Timothy was the first bishop of Ephesus is stated also by the Apost. Const. (VII. 46), and by Nicephorus (H. E. III. 11), who records (upon what authority we do not know) that he suffered martyrdom under Domitian. Against the tradition that he labored during his later years in Ephesus there is nothing to be urged; though on the other hand the evidence for it amounts to little, as it seems to be no more than a conclusion drawn from the Epistles to Timothy, though hardly a conclusion drawn by Eusebius himself, for he uses the word ἱστορεῖται, which seems to imply that he had some authority for his statement. According to those epistles, he was at the time of their composition in Ephesus, though they give us no hint as to whether he was afterward there or not. From Heb. xiii. 23 (the date of which we do not know) we learn that he had just been released from some imprisonment, apparently in Italy, but whither he afterward went is quite uncertain. Eusebius report that he was bishop of Ephesus is the customary but unwarranted carrying back into the first century of the monarchical episcopate which was not known until the second. According to the Apost. Const. VII. 46 both Timothy and John were bishops of Ephesus, the former appointed by Paul, the latter by himself. Timothy is a saint in the Roman Catholic sense, and is commemorated January 24.136:608
Cf. Tit. i. 5. Titus is commonly connected by tradition with Crete, of which he is supposed to have been the first bishop,—the later institution being again pushed back into the first century. In the fragment de Vita et Actis Titi, by the lawyer Zenas (in Fabric. Cod. Apoc. N.T. II. 831 sqq., according to Howson, in Smiths Dict. of the Bible), he is said to have been bishop of Gortyna, a city of Crete (where still stand the ruins of a church which bears his name), and of a royal Cretan family by birth. This tradition is late, and, of course, of little authority, but at the same time, accords very well with all that we know of Titus; and consequently there is no reason for denying it in toto. According to 2 Tim. iv. 10, he went, or was sent, into Dalmatia; but universal tradition ascribes his later life and his death to Crete. Candia, the modern capital, claims the honor of being his burial place (see CavesApostolici, ed. 1677, p. 63). Titus is a saint, in the Roman Catholic sense, and is commemorated January 4.136:609
Of Luke personally we know very little. He is not mentioned in the Acts, and only three times in Pauls epistles (Col. iv. 14; Philem. 24; 2 Tim. iv. 11), from which passages we learn that he was a physician, was one of Pauls fellow-workers who was very dear to him, and was with him during his last imprisonment. Irenæus, who is the first to ascribe the third Gospel and the Acts to this Luke, seems to know nothing more about him personally. Eusebius is the first to record that he was born at Antioch; but the tradition must have been universally accepted in his day, as he states it without any misgivings and with no qualifying phrase. Jerome (de vir. ill. 7) and many later writers follow Eusebius in this statement. There is no intrinsic improbability in the tradition, which seems, in fact, to be favored by certain minor notices in the Acts (see Schaff, Ch. Hist. I. 651). Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. 25) says that he labored in Achaia, and in Orat. 4 he calls him a martyr. Jerome (ibid.) says that he was buried in Constantinople. According to Nicephorus (H. E. II. 43) and later writers, Luke was a painter of great skill; but this late tradition, of which the earlier Fathers know nothing, is quite worthless. Epiphanius (Hær. II. 11) makes him one of the Seventy, which does not accord with Lukes own words at the beginning of his Gospel, where he certainly implies that he himself was not an eye-witness of the events which he records. In the same connection, Epiphanius says that he labored in Dalmatia, Gallia, Italy, and Macedonia,—a tradition which has about as much worth as most such traditions in regard to the fields of labor of the various apostles and their followers. Theophylact (On Luke xxiv. 13–24) records that some supposed that he was one of the disciples with whom Christ walked to Emmaus, and this ingenious but unfounded guess has gained some modern supporters (e.g. Lange). He is a saint in the Roman Catholic sense, and is commemorated October 18.136:610
See Col. iv. 14136:611
Of Lukes acquaintance with the other apostles we know nothing, although, if we suppose him to have been the author of the “We” sections in the Acts, he was with Paul in Jerusalem at the time he was taken prisoner (Acts xxi.), when he met James at least, and possibly others of the Twelve. It is not at all improbable that in the course of his life he became acquainted with several of the apostles.136:612
The testimony to the existence of our third Gospel, although it is not so old as that for Matthew and Mark, is still very early. It was used by Marcion, who based upon it his own mutilated gospel, and is quoted very frequently by Justin Martyr. The Gospel is first distinctly ascribed to Luke by Irenæus (III. 1. 1) and by the Muratorian Fragment. From that time on tradition was unanimous both as to its authorship and its authority. The common opinion—still defended by the great majority of conservative critics—has always been that the third Gospel was written before the destruction of Jerusalem. The radical critics of the present century, however, bring its composition down to a latter date—ranging all the way from 70 to 140 (the latter is Baurs date, which is now universally recognized as very wild). Many conservative critics put its composition after the destruction of Jerusalem on account of the peculiar form of its eschatological discourses—e.g. Weiss, who puts it between 70 and 80 (while putting Matthew and Mark before the destruction of Jerusalem). The traditional and still prevalent opinion is that Lukes Gospel was written later than those of Matthew and Mark. See the various commentaries and New Testament Introductions, and for a clear exhibition of the synoptical problem in general, see Schaffs Ch. Hist. I. p. 607 sqq. On Luke in particular, p. 648 sqq.136:613
Luke 1:2, 3.136:614
Traces of a knowledge of the Acts are found in the Apostolic Fathers, in Justin, and in Tatian, and before the end of the second century the book occupied a place in the Canon undisputed except by heretics, such as the Marcionites, Manicheans, &c. The Muratorian Fragment and Irenæus (III. 14) are the first to mention Luke as the author of the Acts, but from that time on tradition has been unanimous in ascribing it to him. The only exception occurs in the case of Photius (ad Amphil. Quæst. 123, ed. Migne), who states that the work was ascribed by some to Clement, by others to Barnabas, and by others to Luke; but it is probable as Weiss remarks that Photius, in this case, confuses the Acts with the Epistle to the Hebrews. As to the date of its composition. Irenæus (III. 1. 1) seems (one cannot speak with certainty, as some have done) to put it after the death of Peter and Paul, and therefore, necessarily, the Acts still later. The Muratorian Fragment implies that the work was written at least after the death of Peter. Later, however, the tradition arose that the work was written during the lifetime of Paul (so Jerome, de vir. ill. 7), and this has been the prevailing opinion among conservative scholars ever since, although many put the composition between the death of Paul and the destruction of Jerusalem; while some (e.g. Weiss) put it after the destruction of Jerusalem, though still assigning it to Luke. The opposite school of critics deny Lukes authorship, throwing the book into the latter part of the first century (Scholten, Hilgenfeld, &c.), or into the times of Trajan and Hadrian (e.g. Volkmar, Keim, Hausrath, &c.). The Tübingen School saw in the Acts a “tendency-writing,” in which the history was intentionally perverted. This theory finds few supporters at present, even among the most extreme critics, all of whom, however, consider the book a source of the second rank, containing much that is legendary and distorted and irreconcilable with Pauls Epistles, which are looked upon as the only reliable source. The question turns upon the relation of the author of the “we” sections to the editor of the whole. Conservative scholars agree with universal tradition in identifying them (though this is not necessary in order to maintain the historical accuracy of the work), while the opposite school denies the identity, considering the “we” sections authentic historical accounts from the pen of a companion of Paul, which were afterward incorporated into a larger work by one who was not a pupil of Paul. The identity of the author of the third Gospel and of the Acts is now admitted by all parties. See the various Commentaries and New Testament Introductions; and upon the sources of the Acts, compare especially Weizsäckers Apost. Zeitalter, p. 182 sqq., and Weiss Einleitung, p. 569 sq.137:615
Rom. ii. 16, xvi. 25; 2 Tim. ii. 8. Eusebius uses the expression φασί, “they say,” which seems to imply that the interpretation was a common one in his day. Schaff (Ch. Hist. I. p. 649) says that Origen also thus interpreted the passages in Romans and Timothy referred to, but he gives no references, and I have not been able to find in Origens works anything to confirm the statement. Indeed, in commenting upon the passages in the Epistle to the Romans he takes the words “my Gospel” to refer to the gospel preached by Paul, not to the Gospel written by Luke. It is true, however, that in the passage from his Commentary on Matthew, quoted by Eusebius in VI. 25, below, Origen does suppose Paul to refer to Luke and his Gospel in 2 Cor. viii. 18. The interpretation of the words “according to my Gospel,” which Eusebius represents as common in his day, is adopted also by Jerome (de vir. ill. chap. 7), but is a gross exegetical blunder. Paul never uses the word εὐαγγέλιον in such a sense, nor is it used by any New Testament writer to designate the gospel record, or any one of the written Gospels. It is used always in the general sense of “glad tidings,” or to denote the scheme of salvation, or the substance of the gospel revelation. Eusebius is not the first to connect Lukes Gospel with Paul. The Muratorian Fragment speaks of Lukes connection with Paul, and Irenæus (III. 1. 1, quoted below in V. 8. §2) says directly that Luke recorded the Gospel preached by Paul. Tertullian (Adv. Marcion. IV. 5) tells us that Lukes form of the Gospel is usually ascribed to Paul, and in the same work, IV. 2, he lays down the principle that the preaching of the disciples of the apostles needs the authority of the apostles themselves, and it is in accord with this principle that so much stress was laid by the early Church upon the connection of Mark with Peter and of Luke with Paul. In chap. 24 Eusebius refers again to Lukes relation to Paul in connection with his Gospel, and so, too, Origen, as quoted by Eusebius, Bk. VI. chap. 25. The Pauline nature of the Gospel has always been emphasized, and still is by the majority of scholars. This must not be carried so far, however, as to imply that Luke drew his materials from Paul; for Paul himself was not an eye-witness, and Luke expressly states in his preface the causes which induced him to write, and the sources from which he derived his material. The influence of Paul is seen in Lukes standpoint, and in his general spirit—his Gospel is the Gospel of universal salvation.137:616
2 Tim. iv. 10, where the Greek word used is ἐπορεύθη, which means simply “went” or “is gone.” That Paul had sent him as Eusebius states (using the word στειλ€μενος) is not implied in the epistle. Instead of εἰς τὰς Γαλλίας (or τὴν Γαλλίαν) most of the ancient mss. of the New Testament have εἰς Γαλατίαν, which is the reading of the Textus Receptus, of Tregelles, of Westcott and Hort and others. Some mss., however (including the Sinaitic), have Γαλλίαν, which Tischendorf adopts; and some of the mss. of Eusebius also have this form, though the majority read τὰς Γαλλίας. Christophorsonus in his edition of Eusebius reads ἐπὶ τὴν Γαλατίαν, but entirely without ms. authority. Epiphanius (Hær. LI. 11) contends that in 2 Tim. iv. 10 should be read Γαλλία and not Γαλατία: οὐ γὰρ ἐν τῇ Γαλατί& 139· ὥς τινες πλανηθέντης νομίζουσιν, ἀλλὰ ἐν τῇ Γαλλί& 139·. Theodoret (in 2 Tim. iv. 10) reads Γαλατίαν, but interprets it as meaning τὰς Γαλλίας: οὕτω γὰρ ἐκαλοῦντο π€λαι.137:617
2 Tim. iv. 21.137:618
See chap. 2, note 1, above.137:619
Clement is mentioned in Phil. iv. 3, but is not called a “fellow-soldier.” Eusebius was evidently thinking of Pauls references to Epaphroditus (Philip. 2.25Phil. ii. 25) and to Archippus (Philem. 2), whom he calls his fellow-soldiers. The Clement to whom Eusebius here refers was a very important personage in the early Roman church, being known to tradition as one of its first three bishops. He has played a prominent part in Church history on account of the numerous writings which have passed under his name. We know nothing certain about his life. Eusebius identifies him with the Philippian Clement mentioned by Paul,—an identification apparently made first by Origen, and after him repeated by a great many writers. But the identification is, to say the least, very doubtful, and resting as it does upon an agreement in a very common name deserves little consideration. It was quite customary in the early Church to find Pauls companions, whenever possible, in responsible and influential positions during the latter part of the first century. A more plausible theory, which, if true, would throw an interesting light upon Clement and the Roman church of his day, is that which identifies him with the consul Flavius Clement, a relative of the emperor Domitian (see below, chap. 18, note 6). Some good reasons for the identification might be urged, and his rank would then explain well Clements influential position in the Church. But as pointed out in chap. 18, note 6, it is extremely improbable that the consul Flavius Clement was a Christian; and in any case a fatal objection to the identification (which is nevertheless adopted by Hilgenfeld and others) is the fact that Clement is nowhere spoken of as a martyr until the time of Rufinus, and also that no ancient writer identifies him or connects him in any way with the consul, although Eusebius mention of the latter in chap. 23 shows that he was a well-known person. When we remember the tendency of the early Church to make all its heroes martyrs, and to ascribe high birth to them, the omission in this case renders the identification, we may say, virtually impossible. More probable is the conjecture of Lightfoot, that he was a freedman belonging to the family of the consul Clement, whose name he bore. This is simply conjecture, however, and is supported by no testimony. Whoever Clement was, he occupied a very prominent position in the early Roman church, and wrote an epistle to the Corinthians which is still extant (see below, chap. 16; and upon the works falsely ascribed to him, see chap. 38). In regard to his place in the succession of Roman bishops, see chap. 2, note 1, above. For a full account of Clement, see especially Harnacks Prolegomena to his edition of Clements Epistle (Patrum Apost. Opera, Vol. 1.), Salmons article, Clemens Romanus, in the Dict. of Christ. Biog., Schaffs Ch. Hist. II. 636 sq., and Donaldsons Hist. of Christ. Lit. and Doctrine, I. p. 90 sq.137:620
Acts xvii. 34. This Dionysius has played an important part in Church history, as the pretended author of a series of very remarkable writings, which pass under the name of Dionysius, the Areopagite, but which in reality date from the fifth or sixth century and probably owe their origin to the influence of Neo-Platonism. The first mention of these writings is in the records of the Council of Constantinople (532 a.d.); but from that time on they were constantly used and unanimously ascribed to Dionysius, the Areopagite, until, in the seventeenth century, their claims to so great antiquity were disputed. They are still defended, however, in the face of the most positive evidence, by many Roman Catholic writers. The influence of these works upon the theology of the Middle Ages was prodigious. Scholasticism may be said to be based upon them, for Thomas Aquinas used them, perhaps, more than any other source; so much so, that he has been said “to have drawn his whole theological system from Dionysius.”
Our Dionysius has had the further honor of being identified by tradition with Dionysius (St. Denis), the patron saint of France,—an identification which we may follow the most loyal of the French in accepting, if we will, though we shall be obliged to suppose that our Dionysius lived to the good old age of two to three hundred years.
The statement of Dionysius of Corinth that the Areopagite was bishop of Athens (repeated by Eusebius again in Bk. IV. chap. 23) is the usual unwarranted throwing back of a second century conception into the first century. That Dionysius held a position of influence among the few Christians whom Paul left in Athens is highly probable, and the tradition that later he was made the first bishop there is quite natural. The church of Athens plays no part in the history of the apostolic age, and it is improbable that there was any organization there until many years after Pauls visit; for even in the time of Dionysius of Corinth, the church there seems to have been extremely small and weak (cf. Bk. IV. chap. 23, §2). Upon Dionysius and the writings ascribed to him, see especially the article of Lupton in the Dict. of Christ. Biog. I. p. 841–848.138:621
Upon Dionysius of Corinth, see Bk. IV. chap. 23, below.
Next: Chapter V
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