The Historical Christ of St. Paul

Part 2c

By G. Matheson.


1 Corinthians xii. 3.—"Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed; and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." This passage seems to imply that there existed in the primitive Church a traditional and historical test of the boundary line between the Christian and the non-Christian. The words sound like a Church formula; at all events, St. Paul would not have ventured on his own uninspired responsibility to prescribe such a test of the right to the name of Christian. In the absence of our Gospels, and looking simply to the facts of Church history, we should have expected a more narrow and severe line of demarcation. The question is, in the presence of our Gospels, Is this the line we should have expected? We can have no hesitation in saying, Yes. It seems to us that both the negative and positive clauses of this passage find in precise terms their warrant in our Gospels. " No man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed." Read these words in the light of St. Mark iii. 29, 30. Christ had been accused of demoniacal possession, of acting by means of an unclean spirit. He declares that this accusation is a sin against the Holy Ghost, and therefore a. manifestation of radical and unpardonable evil; it is a boundary line between light and darkness. The men who had imputed to Christ the possession of an unclean spirit had thereby pronounced their anathema upon Him; but, by that very act, they had pronounced an anathema upon themselves: they had proved their inability to see any beauty which they should desire in the Spirit of the Son of Man; and, in calling his goodness unclean, they had shown badness to be their ideal. We find it impossible to doubt that some such thought as this was the germ of the Pauline utterance on its negative side. Let us look next to its positive side. "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." If the inability to see Divine beauty indicates an absence of the Divine Spirit, the power to discern the divinity of that beauty is an infallible proof of the presence of its Spirit. This is clearly the thought of St. Paul. The question is, Whence did he derive it? It implies a breadth of view which an Apostle, on his own responsibility, would hardly have dared to manifest in an age when the test of the Divine Spirit was frequently made to consist in the observance of a certain ritual. But if we turn to St. Matthew xvi. 17, we shall find that the positive, like the negative, side of St. Paul's doctrine has its warrant in certain words which our Gospels have put into the mouth of the Christian Founder. Christ asks his disciples what view they had of his own person, and the man amongst them who is habitually the boldest makes answer: " Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." The reply of the Master is remarkable: " Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." He declares that this apparently simple confession constitutes to Peter a proof that he has passed the line of demarcation between the natural and the supernatural; he has said something which he could not have derived from the forces m influences of this world, and which therefore proves him to be inspired by higher forces and by diviner influences. Nor can we fail to be struck with the conformity-we should say the identity-of teaching between the words attributed to the Master and the words actually written by St. Paul. The confession of faith is precisely the same; it is in each case the acknowledgment that the Spirit of the Master is Divine. The inference is precisely the same; it is in each case the declaration that an act, seemingly so simple, has yet established beyond controversy the possession of the Divine Spirit by the man who has performed it; the acknowledgment of the Christ without is the evidence of inspiration from the Christ within.

1 Corinthians xiii. 2.—It will be observed that we have omitted any formal consideration of 1 Corinthians xii. 9 and 10. The reason is that we have already incorporated that passage along with Galatians iii. 5, in the section on Romans xv. 18, where we have considered 'the claims of St. Paul to the possession of miraculous power; and to what we have said in that section we have nothing to add. It will be remembered that by a comparison of 1 Corinthians xii. 10 with Galatians iii. 5, we there arrived at the conclusion that faith was conceived by the Apostle to exert a dynamical power; and we found that this conception was in harmony with that of St. Matthew xvii. 20, where the Founder of Christianity is represented as assigning to faith the power of removing mountains. In 1 Corinthians xiii. 2 the harmony of conception passes into an identity of statement; and we find St. Paul attributing to faith the very metaphor which the Master had assigned to it: "Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains." We attach, indeed, little importance to verbal parallels. The Christian Founder is made to apply to faith the same power over a fig-tree which He gives to it over a mountain. The one metaphor is to us as good as the other. What we want to grasp is the thought underlying the symbol; and that thought we have already seen to be the possession of dynamical power. Why should Paul not have assigned to faith the ability to discern mysteries instead of the ability to lift mountains? He is well aware that Christianity confers such an ability, for he mentions it in this very Verse, but he attributes it to a different quality of mind, which he calls the gift of prophecy. To a modern man there is far more connection between faith and knowledge than between faith and dynamical power. The fact that St. Paul is not in harmony with the modern usage shews clearly that in his day there was attributed to faith an influence beyond the subjective, an influence which did not merely, like the gift of prophecy, exert a power over the individual who possessed it, but which was able to pass out from the individual soul, and was capable of exerting its sway over the forms of matter and the bodies of men.

1 Corinthians xv. 3-8.As apologists, we have here only to do with the historical part of this Chapter. We have to avoid everything which may be interpreted as a mere doctrine of Pauline theology. We have to confine our attention exclusively to the testimony which the Apostle gives regarding the historical facts of Christ's resurrection. We wish, however, at the outset to direct the consideration of the reader to two passages which, although lying outside our immediate province, appear to us to throw a light upon the whole purpose and aim of the Chapter; we allude to Verses 12 and 19.

Verse 12 runs thus: " If Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? '' In reading the first clause of this passage we look for a different sequel; we expect to read, " If Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that Christ is not risen? " It is no accident that we do not read this. St. Paul never meant to impute to those whom he criticizes the actual denial of Christ's resurrection; he does not in his own mind assume that they had ever doubted it. It must have often struck the reader how little comparative space in this long Chapter is afforded to the proof of Christ's resurrection. That doctrine was to St. Paul not only important but vital. He tells us that, without it, preaching is vain, faith is vain, human testimony a lie, human virtue a dream, human hope a delusion, human affection a curse; yet the account of its historical manifestations occupies but three or four Verses. The reason is plain. The aim of the Chapter is not to prove the resurrection of Christ, but to prove the resurrection of humanity, which signified to Paul the prolongation after death of the individual life of man. It is quite true that, in Verse 13, he states in the most unqualified terms that the denial of man's immortality involves the denial of a risen Christ: " If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen." But to point out the inevitable consequence of a doctrine, is a very different thing from asserting that this consequence is recognized and held by the man who believes in the doctrine. When you say in argument with a friend, " Let me point out to you the inevitable result of your theory," so far from imputing that result to him as something which he had foreseen, your hope is that his first sight of it will cause him to revolt from his own theory. Even so St. Paul's consequence is an argument. In effect he says this: " Those who deny the immortality of the human soul are at the very same moment assuming the name of One whom they profess to reverence as more than man. I tell you that, if their doctrine be true, the Object of their worship is dead. Surely they cannot have considered the consequence of their own creed."

A question here occurs. Is it possible they should have failed to see that consequence? Is it possible they should have been able to divorce the immortality of man from the immortality of Christ? We have no hesitation in answering in the affirmative. St. Paul held, and from the distinctively Christian standpoint held rightly, that the denial of man's immortality involved the denial of Christ's resurrection. But why? Because St. Paul held the doctrine of the Incarnation. He believed that Christ had assumed, not simply a human form, but the very body of humanity itself; He was the head of the human members, and was bound to share their fortune, whatever that might be: his rise would be their exaltation; their dissolution would be his death. But we must remember that there was a multitude of Jewish converts far behind this lofty stage of Christian development. There were thousands of professing Christians who had not grasped the fact of Christ's union with humanity, and who did not dare to link their fortunes with that of the holy Servant of God. Death was the wages of sin, and therefore due to man; but the Christ was sinless, and therefore incapable of being held by death. Gradually there had been growing up a tendency to refine away the humanity of Jesus; to see in his huma1; manifestation something different from mortal clay. How easily, for example, might such a view as that of Cerinthus have lent itself to the denial of man's immortality! Cerinthus himself had probably not yet spoken out, but he was even now alive, and his tendency, we believe, was in the air; indeed, one of his distinctive tenets, that of substitutionary baptism, is alluded to in the 29th verse of this Chapter. Cerinthus held that Christ was a Divine Spirit who descended upon Jesus at his baptism, and fled away from Him immediately before the Cross. He could not be tainted by human suffering; and, therefore, He must escape the suffering: his resurrection was not a lifting from the grave, but a rising out of humanity. It is clear that, on such a view, no connection could be established between the fate of Christ and the fate of his disciples. Christ had never been incarnate in their nature; and, therefore, his life could not prove their immortality. It is manifest, all the same, that they could think of Him, and worship Him, as a Christ who was alive and risen.

If, now, we ask what hope could such a Christ afford to the Judaic Christian of the first century, we shall find ourselves on the lines of Verse 19. It was all along the tendency of the Jewish people to seek for a corporate immortality; that is to say, an immortality of the nation, as distinguished from a perpetuated life of the individual. The imagination of that people had been mainly centred in the glory of the family, the tribe, the race; and the individual was chiefly viewed as a contributor to the collective whole. The Messiah Himself was for the nation; his essential office was that of King; his voice was ever for the multitude. The interests of the individual soul faded before the welfare of the community; and the destiny of glory which awaited the prospective kingdom was designed to be the pole-star of every human life. We may well believe that, to these Judaic Christians of the Corinthian Church, the Messiah after his coming remained an object of reverence for the same reason which had made Him an object of reverence before He came-as the promise and pledge to the nation of a destiny of immortal glory. It is against this view, in our opinion, that St. Paul protests in Verse 19. He says in effect: "If in this life only we have hope in Messiah (which is the contention of those among you to whom I speak), if the only hope He can afford us is that of a temporal kingdom which our descendants shall enjoy, and to whose consummation our lives are contributing, then, indeed, we are of all men most miserable. Our temporal state is beyond measure sad; and, in the midst of its present sadness, our comrades. are passing away. If the work of your Messiah can only extend to the things of life; if it cannot reach the borders of death and the grave, 'They which are fallen asleep are perished.' "

If our view of this subject be the true one, we shall be warranted to conclude that the historical evidence of Christ's resurrection embraced from Verses 3 to 7 does not exhaust all that St. Paul could say upon the matter. His aim is not to prove Christ's resurrection; he does not assume that it is consciously doubted. What he says on the subject is only intended to confirm faith by giving a brief abstract of what he had taught the Corinthians years ago. It is quite clear from reading the passage that he is simply recapitulating the heads of a discourse previously given; the very manner in which the names are alluded to assumes on the part of the Corinthians a much wider knowledge of the Resurrection-history than they could have gathered from this rapid evidential summary. Let us now, however, proceed to review this Pauline account of Christ's manifestations after his resurrection. Before considering these manifestations themselves, it will be necessary to lift from the threshold two preliminary objections which have been advanced to the reception of this evidence. They are both founded on the assertion that there was something in the mind of St. Paul which tended to disqualify him from being a fair witness on such a question, and we shall briefly glance at each in turn.

The first objection is made by the author of" Supernatural Religion," and is founded on an expression in Verses 3 and 4. The words run thus: " How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures." The expression which the author of" Supernatural Religion " finds suspicious is the twice-repeated phrase, " according to the scriptures." That the Founder of Christianity died, was buried, and rose on the third day, is stated by our Gospels; but our Gospels were probably not in existence at the time when St. Paul wrote these words, and had certainly not acquired the authority of Scriptures. The Scriptures, therefore, here mean the Old Testament. Now the author of" Supernatural Religion" avers that the repetition of this phrase by St. Paul throws suspicion on the whole narrative; it shews that St. Paul was so impressed with the strength of the Old Testament prophecies regarding Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, and so convinced of the necessity of their fulfilment, that he was ready, without historical evidence, to accept the doctrines here predicted. We are astonished that a writer usually so acute should have failed to see that the case was exactly the reverse. Is it not plain that St. Paul's reason for insisting on the countenance given by the Old Testament to Christ's death and resurrection was the deep ·Conviction that, to the mind of his readers, the Old Testament would be esteemed the weakest part of the evidence? He felt that he was writing to men whose belief in the crucified and risen Lord would be held, if held at all, not according to the Scriptures, but in spite of the Scriptures. He was conscious that, in the very act of accepting the narrative of Messiah's death and burial, they would feel themselves at times to be at variance with the spirit of the Old Testament and with the traditions of their fathers. St. Paul had no doubt in his own mind that the Scriptures had predicted a Messiah raised from death; he could point in confirmation to Psalm xvi., or Hosea vi., or Isaiah liii. But none knew better than St. Paul that even those who had admitted the Messianic application of these passages, had only accepted their Evangelical interpretation after they had accepted the facts of Christianity. The Scriptures had not prepared for the facts; the facts had reinterpreted the Scriptures. St. Paul did not need to look far to find the demonstration of this. He had only to consult his own experience. Long before his conversion to Christianity, he was thoroughly versed in the Scriptures of the Old Testament; he was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, and knew all that could be known concerning the Jewish interpretation of the law and the prophets. Yet not only was St. Paul not led by these Scriptures to favour Christianity; he believed himself, by their teaching, imperatively called to fight against Christianity: he persecuted the Church, and thought he did God good service. In due time he was converted; but he was not converted "according to the scriptures." It would be more correct to say that, from his point of view, he was induced to embrace the Gospel in spite of the Scriptures. As long as we are forbidden to assume the authenticity of the Acts, we may not quote as authentic the narrative of his conversion there given; but, keeping strictly to the testimony of his own Epistles, we have infallible evidence that he was brought to Christianity by Christianity itself, or, as he puts it, by a revelation of Christ in his soul. It was not the study of the past, but the perception of a fact in his own day which led Paul to the Cross. When he came to the Cross, all things became new to him; and, amongst them, the Scriptures also. He tell us in the plainest terms (2 Cor. iii. 14) that the veil over the reading of the Old Testament was only withdrawn in Christ; that is to say, that the Evangelical interpretation of the law and the prophets, so far from leading to Christianity, was itself the result of the Christian consciousness. We receive, therefore, from St. Paul himself the strongest weapon against the author of " Supernatural Religion." We are made to feel that his reason for quoting the Old Testament to the Corinthians was a reminiscence of his own past experience, a fear lest the sense of an adverse national tradition should prevent them from fully weighing the historical evidence of a dead and risen Lord.

The second objection is that of Strauss, and is founded upon Verse 8: "Last of all He was seen of me also." Strauss says that this vision of the Apostle, which he holds to have been subjective and imaginary, probably constituted the germ of all the other Resurrection narratives. Now whether this vision of St. Paul was or was not imaginary, it is quite certain that it did not constitute the germ of the Resurrection narratives. If it be an imagination, the germ of it must be that which produced it. In St. Paul's case we are specially called to ask, what could have originated such a fancy? If we say that it was created by the vast historical testimony to Christ's resurrection which he heard ringing in his ears, then this historical testimony, and not the Pauline vision, is the germ of the Resurrection narratives. If we say, on the other hand, that it was a phantom of his own brain, we are confronted by the fact that his was of all others the brain which had no right to have such a phantom. Whence could he have derived it? We have already seen that it was not from the Scriptures; we have now to remark, in addition, that it was not from personal remembrance. We can understand how the form of a well-known and lately departed life should be present to a man in his dreams; such an imagination is the product of past sight. But St. Paul had never seen the Founder of Christianity. He had no loving memories to stimulate his imagination; the scenes of Galilee were, to him, but the records of abstract history. His was not naturally an empirical mind; few writers exhibit so little of the pictorial; the thought to him ever takes precedence of the form. This is favourable to argument, but it is unfavourable to imagination: and it almost renders impossible such an imagination as can represent itself to the mind as reality. If St. Paul imagined that he had received a manifestation from the risen Lord, the image must have been created in his mind by the influence of a powerful historical atmosphere; he must have been driven out of his natural bent by the overwhelming pressure of a current persuasion that the Founder of Christianity was alive and had manifested Himself to hundreds of his brethren. It is this persuasion, on the part of Paul, which requires to be investigated, and which needs to be accounted for; for in this, and in the source of this persuasion, lies the true germ of the Resurrection narratives. "When the mythical theory shall have proved that St. Paul's vision was subjective and imaginary, its work of difficulty will only then begin; for it will then be incumbent on it to shew how such a vision should have animated a soul so utterly unprepared for it.

Passing, now, to the historical manifestations themselves as they are here recorded by the Apostle, the one question to be determined is this: Do they meet the conditions of historical evidence? That question can only be answered by a brief examination of each in turn. We must premise that from the phrase, "last of all,'' in Verse 8, we have every reason to believe that St. Paul is presenting the manifestations according to their chronological sequence. Yet we have no reason to think that he is here enumerating all the manifestations he knew. "When we remember that the fourth Gospel, which, on any theory of its authenticity, must have had the full materials at its command, professedly contents itself with mentioning only a few of Christ's manifestations (John xx. 30), we need not be surprised that St. Paul should have confined himself to a selection of instances; especially as, according to his own statement, he is merely recapitulating the main heads of past teaching. Keeping these points in mind, let us look at each of the manifestations here recorded, and see whether it meets the standard adequate to constitute legal evidence.

The first appearance recorded is that in Verse 5: "He was seen of Cephas",1 Was there any mythical consideration which should have induced St. Paul thus to glorify the name of Peter? If we believe the negative school, there was no love between these men. Without believing the negative school, and looking merely to the testimony of Galatians ii., we are warranted to say that there was no theological sympathy between them. Peter was not St. Paul's hero, not the man around whose brow he would voluntarily have wreathed a garland. Yet such a garland, in Verse 5, he undoubtedly wreathes; he gives him, in thought, the pre-eminence amongst the Resurrection witnesses. The inevitable inference is that St. Paul must have felt the facts too strong for him,-must have conceded to Peter the place which actual history had assigned· to him. History, indeed, has prominently associated the name of Peter with the appearances of the risen Christ. In the Gospels, he holds a leading place in the roll of witnesses (St. Mark xvi. 7; St. Luke xxiv. 34; St. John xx. 2 ff.). In the Acts, he is made to say that he ate and drank with the Son of Man after He rose from the dead. In the first Epistle ascribed to him, he is represented as declaring that the belief in Christ's. resurrection had renewed the hope of his days (1 Pet. i. 3). In the second Epistle which goes by his name, we have an allusion to that last conversation which in the closing verses of the fourth Gospel is alleged to have taken place between the disciples and their risen Lord (2 Pet. i. 14). We dare not assume that these documents are authentic; but, on any assumption, we are entitled to hold that they mark a wide-spread tradition in favour of Peter's place among the Resurrection witnesses.

The next question is: Was there sufficient intercourse between St. Peter and St. Paul to give the Gentile Apostle an opportunity of learning the facts regarding Him? In answer we point to Galatians i. 18, where St. Paul distinctly states that he went up to Jerusalem to make the acquaintance of St. Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. No doubt it must be remembered that his reason for mentioning the fifteen days is apparently to shew the opposite of what we wish to shew. He wants to prove that he received his Gospel, not from man, but from a personal revelation of Jesus Christ; in proof of this he states that his intercourse with Peter only extended over fifteen days -a time far too short to indoctrinate a man by any natural process in the mysteries of the Gospel. Yet we must bear in mind that what St. Paul means by the Gospel is not the historical facts of Christianity, but the spirit and system of the Christian theology. Fifteen days would· be too short a time to instruct him in the latter; fifteen minutes might give him the outlines of the former. St. Paul never meant to affirm that he arrived supernaturally at the knowledge of things which he himself would say belonged to the natural man. He reached the historical facts of Christianity by a strictly historical process-how historical this passage in Corinthians shews. The fifteen days he spent with Peter at Jerusalem were beyond all question the period in which he received from that Apostle a narrative of his Resurrection experiences. When we add that, at the time when St. Paul wrote this Epistle, Peter was still alive to rebut or to verify the statement, we shall be forced to confess that no legal tribunal of any age has exhibited a more unexceptionable witness than that which St. Paul finds in Cephas.

The second appearance recorded by St. Paul is contained in the words: "Then of the twelve," and was probably a part of that testimony which he received during the fifteen days. We note here the fact that there were twelve a confirmation of the statement with which our Gospels have made us familiar. The number, however, is here evidently used officially. "The Twelve" had become a name employed to designate the apostolic company. The appearance to the Twelve does not imply that this was the number present; it signifies a manifestation made to the Apostolate; as we should speak of a communication made to the presbytery or to the bench of Bishops. Such a manifestation is recorded by our Gospels in St. Luke xxiv. 36.

The third testimony adduced by St. Paul is contained in Verse 6: " After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep." This evidence is the most remarkable which has yet been given. The testimony of St. Peter, however sincere, was that of an isolated individual; and an isolated individual is sometimes subject to hallucinations. Here is a testimony which, if accepted, would exclude the possibility of such a supposition. That five hundred men should at the same moment be arrested by an imaginary vision, and mistake it for a reality, appears to us to be a physical as well as a moral impossibility. We are pointed to the fact that in revival meetings a whole assembly is frequently affected simultaneously; we would ask in reply, What is the reason of this simultaneous influence? It is not a subjective vision, but a purely outward and historical phenomenon which produces such an impression; it is the voice of a living man proclaiming from a veritable book a message clothed in human language, which professes to be, and which by that assembly is believed to be, a call addressed to the souls of men. There never was an illustration which more exactly proved a premiss than this illustration proves the premiss which it is intended to destroy. The mythical element being thus excluded, the only question remaining is, Can we accept the fact here adduced; can we receive the statement of St. Paul that above five hundted Christian brethren professed to have seen the risen Christ in a simultaneous vision? St. Paul is not afraid to put into the hands of his contemporaries a means of testing the accuracy of his statement. He declares that the greater number of these men are "still alive," and can speak for themselves. Some, he says, have fallen asleep (using that very metaphor which, according to our Gospels, the Christian Founder applied to the dead); but the majority still "remain," to refute or to confirm him. The point, however, which above all others strikes us as worth recording is the glimpse we here get into the evidential character of St. Paul's mind. This man, with all his claim to extatic revelations, was evidently no dreamer; he was fully alive to the value of historical evidence. He has been all along keeping his eye on these five hundred brethren. They have been to him something more than a cloud of witnesses; he has been following them individually. He knows each of them by headmark; he has. been observing the life of each, and the death of each. He has been keeping hold of the chain of witnesses, and marking when any link was severed by the grave. As we realize the fact, we feel instinctively that, with St. Paul for a guide, we are on stronger ground than we had been wont to imagine. There springs up within us the confidence we experience in the guidance of a practical man who has his eyes and ears open to the facts and the lessons of history; and, without undervaluing or disputing the mystic nature of his hidden life, we breathe more freely in the consciousness that he has also a life, with us, in the "light of common day."

The manifestation to the five hundred may be identified with Christ's appearance on the mountain of Galilee recorded in St. Matthew xxviii.; that is to say, there is nothing in the nature of things to prevent their identification. The same cannot be said of the next appearance, which is not found in our Gospels; it is contained in Verse 7: "After that He was seen of James." The manifestation is recorded in the Gospel to the Hebrews, but our narratives are silent on the subject. It seems to us, however, that, if we accept our Gospels as genuine, we shall find something which, although insufficient in the absence of St. Paul's testimony to constitute the record of a manifestation, is yet fitted in the light of that testimony to suggest the probability of one. For what are the facts? Throughout the whole course of our Gospel narrative James is an obscure man. Even on the supposition that he was the Apostle, the son of Alphæus (which indeed is our own opinion), he is still obscure. The only James who figures in that narrative is. the son of Zebedee. We hear of Peter, of John, of Thomas, of both the Judas, of Philip and of Andrew, but not of this. James. Suddenly, however, as we pass from the Gospels. to the Acts, we are confronted by a change. This man, so obscure, so unknown, so undistinguished amongst his con-· temporaries, all at once becomes a leading power. We find him at the head of the Church in Jerusalem, enacting its. laws, and presiding over its deliberations. We do not need the Acts to tell us this; in Galatians ii. 9 he is expressly called a " pillar of the Church." The question is, Why? What has produced the change in the fortunes. and destiny of this man; what has brought him to the front of the Christian community? We may be told that he was the Lord's brother; but he was the Lord's brother during the Lord's lifetime; and, in spite of that, remained a cipher. Something must have intervened to lift him into the light of public estimation; and that which intervened must have been some real or supposed mark of favour conferred upon him by the risen Lord. A manifestation of that Lord's person specially vouchsafed to James, or the belief that such a manifestation had been vouchsafed to him, would have accomplished the transformation in a moment. There is, then, inferential evidence even in our existing narratives that James was one of the Resurrection witnesses. All that we have said of Cephas finds equal place here. St. Paul had no mythical motive for wreathing the brows of this Apostle. James was not, any more than Peter, St. Paul's ideal of heroism; if the negative school be believed, he was a more direct antagonist even than Peter. It must have been fact, and not fancy, which induced the Gentile Apostle to crown him. And here again, as in the case of Peter, he had an opportunity from his own lips of learning the fact. In Galatians i. 19 he tells us this expressly: " Other of the apostles saw I none save James, the Lord's brother." He declares that, During the fifteen days of his stay at Jerusalem, he was in communication with one whom he now asserts to have been one of the witnesses of Christ's resurrection. The -chain of evidence again appears to be complete.

The fifth appearance is thus described: " Then of all the apostles." The word " all " is suggestive; it evidently stands in contradistinction to something; is it to the Twelve, or is it to the solitary apostle James? If to the former, it indicates that. the appearance to the Twelve was an appearance made to the Apostolate at a time when all its members were not present. If to the latter, it seems to us that it ought to decide the question as to the identity of James; if James was an Apostle at the date assigned to the resurrection, he could have been no other than the son -of Alphæus. Be this as it may, however, we have here a second manifestation made to the apostolic company at a time when we are distinctly told that all its members were present. We have seen (1 Cor. xi. 23) that St. Paul was acquainted with the story of the betrayal; he probably, therefore, knew that the full number of the Apostles was at that time eleven. An appearance in every respect corresponding to this description is recorded in our Gospels (St. John XX. 19, 26).

We come now to the sixth and final manifestation, that received by St. Paul himself: "Last of all He was seen of me also" (Verse 8). It has been thought that, in Verse 9, he falls into an irrelevant digression. If we deny the genuineness of the narrative in Acts, it is indeed irrelevant; but is not this just a presumption in favour of that narrative's authenticity? If we come to the passage before us with the historical account of St. Paul's conversion already in our minds, we shall see a close connection of thought, or rather of feeling, between the eighth and ninth Verses. When he says, " I am the least of all the apostles," there is clearly in his mind the conviction that he was the last of all because he was the least of all. When he says, in the same connection, that he persecuted the Church of God, he seems, to a reader of the Acts at least, to associate the Divine manifestation which he received with the time when he was a persecutor. We are, at all events, entitled to say that we have here a singular congruity of statement between the Epistle and the Acts; and, as the book of the Acts is confessedly the sequel of the third Gospel, we have another harmony added to the union of testimony between St. Paul and the Evangelists.

As to the value of this personal experience of St. Paul, it must depend upon the value we attach to his impersonal experiences. If we believe that the previous facts which he records existed only in his own imagination, we shall be justified in concluding that the personal vision which he received was the product of his own brain. But if we believe that the appearances to Cephas, to the Twelve, to the Five Hundred, to James, and to all the Apostles, were founded upon real historical evidence, we shall be bound in all logical fairness to place the vision of St. Paul on an equal level with them. If we admit Christ's resurrection at all, and if we admit that He appeared at all, why should St. Paul's vision be esteemed a less certain witness than the others? The ascension of Christ was never regarded as an event which drew a hard and fast line between the natural and the supernatural; the early conception of the risen Christ is rather embodied in the words, "Lo, I am with you alway." An appearance after his ascension cannot be esteemed more supernatural than an appearance immediately after his resurrection. If we accept the spirit and teaching of our Gospels, we shall believe that the fact of the ascension detracted nothing from the fact of his humanity; but simply rendered invisible that human presence which had once been outwardly manifested: and we shall see no contradiction in the statement that from time to time in the early history of Christendom the veil which concealed his presence should have been momentarily withdrawn.

1 Corinthians xv. 29, 51, 52.We have still two short annotations to append to this remarkable Chapter. The first is suggested by Verse 29: " Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead." We have only here to consider the apologetic element in the passage. We gather from it that in the Church of Corinth there had grown up a practice of baptizing men as substitutes for those who had died without baptism. The existence of such a practice shews how deep and firm a hold the ordinance of baptism had taken on the Christian consciousness. By referring back to 1 Corinthians i. 13, we find that this ordinance was from the beginning indissolubly associated with the person of the Christian Founder; it was baptism, not into the name of Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, but into that of Christ. We need not say that St. Paul would never have made this statement unless he had known, as a historical fact, that baptism had been as much an institution of the Christian Founder as was the Sacrament of Communion. It is true, the ceremony of baptism was in existence before the advent of Christianity, and St. Paul must have known that well; but all the more on that account would he have been prone to disparage it, as he did circumcision, unless he had believed assuredly that it had received a sanction from the lips of the Christian Founder. Here, therefore, we have incontestable evidence that, according to the earliest Christian tradition, the sacrament of baptism was instituted by the command or with the sanction of Christ Himself.

Our second note is on Verses 51 and 52. St. Paul, as we have seen, wrote nothing which he did not believe himself to have received in germ from the Christian Founder. If the Christian Founder uttered the discourse attributed to Him in St. Matthew xxiv., we have found the germ of the Pauline revelation exhibited in this passage. With " The trumpet shall sound," compare St. Matthew xxiv. 31, "He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet." With "In a 1noment, in the twinkling of an eye," compare St. Matthew xxiv. 27, "As the lightning cometh out of the east," etc. The idea in St. Matthew is evidently that of suddenness as well as of clear revelation; and this is confirmed when we take in connection with this passage Verses 42 and 43 of the same Chapter. " We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed," says St. Paul; and we would ask if even this mystery may not have its germ in the somewhat obscure promise of St. Matthew xxiv. 40, "One shall be taken, and the other left "?

G. Matheson.


1) The women may be omitted through the Jewish prejudice against female testimony (Josephus, Ant., iv. 8, 15).