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Ferdinand Christian Baur.

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Chap. IV.] EPISTLES TO EPHESIANS AND COLOSSI ANS. 1&

against tbe multiplicity of former revelations, that he wanted to
express. I believe this irokmroUikof; <rwf>ia can only be explained
thus : that the writer saw hovering before his mind that Gnostia
fro^la of which this predicate is characteristic more than any other )
for it was of the essence of that Sophia to pass through a series of
the most varied forms and conditions. We even find Irenaeus
using the same expression in speaking of the suffering condition
in which for the most part she dwells.^

In this connexion we cannot set it down to chance that an idea
occurs in one of these Epistles to which the apostle. Paul never
makes the slightest allusion. I refer to the passage, Eph. iv. 8.
In spite of the reclamation of most modem interpreters, it appears
to me that we cannot, with any regard to the natural meaning of
the words, refer this passj^e to anything but the descent into hell.
Harless urges that this would be the only passage where the descent
into heU would appear as a characteristic of Christ's appearance,
which it certainly is not. But to this I can allow no weight, nor
do the other reasons to which Harless appeals in support of his
rendering appear to me to be more forcible. It is said that the
antithesis of earth and heaven is alone suited to the context ; but
this is simply to take for granted that the two clauses of ver. 8 are
to be referred to the same subjects, those, namely, whom Christ
had won for himself upon the earth. It may be very true that in
the psalm from which the words in verse 8 are taken, there is no
trace of any reference to death or to a descent into hell ; but Har*
less asserts further, " only then could we prove that the Apostle
found such a reference in the psalm, if he quoted the passage in a
connexion in which the death or the descent of Christ was directly
before him, but that here the very contrary is the case ; and what
connexion can be shown between the gifts of grace which Christ
gives to his own people, and his death or his descenms ad inferos f
If the Apostle seeks to demonstrate that the procedure of God
triumphant who brings his captives with him without waiting till

> Adv. Haer. i. 4. 1, avfmeirktxBcu r^ ird^ci, icai fi6vriv diro\€i<l>$€ia'av !{«»
irayri fitpii r6v ira^ov; viroirc<rcti', nokviAtpovs koL voKvn'otkikov xnrdpxopros.



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16 LIFE AND WOBK OF PAUL, [Part IL

they render themselves to him, is also the procedure of the Son,
who also places his people in the Church on earth in the place he
fixes for them, what need is there here for any reference to the
death or the descent of Christ ?" With all this I disagree, just
because the reasoning assumes that the passage can be understood
in no other sense but one exclusive of the descent into helL But
what is more natural than to take ai/)(jMiKoyrevuv aixf^oKcoalap of
those captives whom Christ, when he descended into Hades, brought
up with him as his own captives, ie, as those whom he had set
free? And this was the original and common view of the purpose
pf th(B descent. It is very true that the preceding verse 7 preparer
us for only the second clause of verse 8, but what hinders us from
assuming that it was just the passage he Was quoting from the Old
Testament, which led the writer to the further thought expressed
in the first clause, namely, the idea of the descent into heU, and
>hat then he worked out this idea in verses 9, 10, and came back in
verse 1 1 to the connexion of verse 7 ? And as for the question what
fthe gifts of grace which Christ gives his people have to do with
fthe descent into hell, the answer is not tax to seek. It is given us
;in this very passsage in the words TrX^/ooxn; ra wavra, and that
so clearly as to exclude all doubt on the subject. It might be
^possible to take the Ktvrirepa fiefnj riy: yfj^ as simply a circumr
locution for yfj, if that phrase stood alone, but it is altogether im-
^possible in a passage arranged as this one is, where the writer
■speaks of an ava^divew and a xarafiaivecv, and where the one is
'.called ava^aivevv inrepdvoD irdvT<ov tS>v ovpav&v, that is, an ascend-
ing to the highest height, as far as it is possible to ascend : it is
impossible to take the Kora^iveiv €49 ra Karatrepa fiepij rrj^ ryfyf,
.which forms the antithesis to avapaivei,v xrrrepdvto irdvroDv t&v
ovpav&v, in any more limited sense than that which the nearest
lind most natural meaning of the Words demands. By doing do
|we should take from the principal clause, Iva irktipoaari ra irdvra
(all things without exception, as the article indicates) its imre-
stricted ineaning. What the author here seeks to express, is the
activity of Christ which extends equally far upwards and down-



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Chap. IV.] EPISTLES TO EPHESIANS AND COLOSSIANS. 17

wards, which descends from the highest height to the lowest depth,
and ascends again from the latter to the former, which embraces
and replenishes the whole universe, so far as it is inhabited by
intelligent beings, with its gracious and redeeming influence. It
is the idea of the pleroma belonging to Christ in the highest sense,
which is here dealt with on the side of its scope and extension.
If Christ is the pleroma absolutely, then the activity, which accord-
ing to this conception he exerts, cannot come short of comprehend-
ing everything in the widest possible circle, and of binding the
highest and the lowest together.

If this be the sense of our passage, then not only does it contain
the idea of Christ's descent into hell, — it exhibits to us very dis-
tinctly the genesis of that idea. Christ as the ifkjqptofia is also
the ra iravra 7r\rip<o(ra^, and if he be the ra iravra irXripda-a^,
thus he must also be the eU ra Karirepa fiept) t^9 yrj^ searafid^s
Now even if it were not possible to trace the idea of the descent
of Christ into hell so distinctly as we do as one of the Gnostic doc-
trines, yet the Gnostic origin of this passage could not be doubtful,
when we considered the inward connexion of these ideas, and the
relation which, as we showed, exists between the Christology of
these Epistles and the Christology of the Gnostics. Some
Gnostic systems, notably the Valentinian, make the redeem-
ing spirit return and close its eartiily work before the catas-
trophe of death, and of course such a scheme as this can scarcely
have contemplated a further action to deal with the under- world. .
But this was not universally the Gnostic conception; we know
about Marcion at least, that in his system, Christ went down
into the under-world after his death. ^ And it is not probable

^ ** Super blasphemiam," says Irenaeus, i. 27. 3, " qtiae est in Deum, adjecit et
hoc (Marcion), Cain et eos, qui similes sunt ei, et Sodomitas, et Aegyptios et
similes eis et omnes omnino gentes, quae in omni permixtione malignitatis
ambulaveruut, salvatas esse a Domino, cum descendisset ad inferos et accucurris-
sent et in snum assumpsisse regnum : Abel autem et Enoch et Koe et reliquos
justos — non participasse salutem — non accucurrerunt Jesu neque crediderunt
annuntiationi ejus, et propterea remansisse animas eorum apud inferos. Cf.
Epiph. Haer. xliL 4 : Xpiarhv (Xeyct MapKicov) av&Stp dir6 tov dopdrov Koi dicaro-
vofidaTav irarpbs K.ara^€^riK€vai iiii cwnypi^ tSv -^x®" KoiiitX ikeyx*)^ tov Qeov

B



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18 UFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Pabt IL

that Marcion, a man who borrowed so much from old Gnostic sys-
tems, and whose only peculiarity almost was to give a dualistic
turn to what he borrowed, was the first to set this view in circula-
tion« It fits so naturally into the whole Gnostic set of ideas, that
we may well believe it to have existed before him. The greater
the height was from which the Christ of the Gnostics came when
descending from the all-encircling pleroma, the greater the number
of heavens through which he had passed, the more natural was it
to think of his descending also as far as it was possible to descend,
not only down into the world, but even down into the under-
world. And again, a thorough working out of the hostile relation
in which Christ and the demiurge were conceived to stand to each
other would itself suggest that Christ should visit the place where
those souls lay whom the demiurge had caught and bound, and
who had no hope of freedom in any other way.^

Besides all this, how many references do we find in these Epistles
to Gnostic ideas and expressions ! How often do they speak of a
fivoTTiptov, a a-fxpia, a yv&ai^, etc. — cf. Eph. i 8, 17 ; iii. 3, 9, 19 ;
iv. 13; vi 19; CoL i 6, 9, 26; ii 2; iii 10, 16. With what
peculiar meaning and emphasis is the word ala>v used, as for
example Eph. iii. 21. The aioii/e? might seem here to be nothing
more than the yepeal (as in CoL i 26, al&ve^ and yeveal are coupled
together), but the aeons and the yeveal rov al&vo^ r&v aKovcov, in
the same sense in which God himself, as the extratemporal unity
of time, individualizes himself in the aeons, as the several stages
of time, while unfolding itself. In the irpodeat,^ r&v al(ova>v also,

T&v ^lovbai&v Koi v6fJLOv Koi irpo<t>rirS>v Koi tS>p roiovrcov, Koi axpi fdov KortxPeprj'
K€vai t6v Kvpiov, iva a-t^irq roifs ir^pl KaXv, etc.

^ Thiia what Irenaeus says, v. 31. 2, about the Gnostic deoial of the idea of
the descent into hell, refers only to those Gnostics for whom the whole history of
Christ seems to have had a merely symbolical meaning, si Dominus legem mortu-
orum servavU — commorattis usque in tertiam diem in inferioribus terrae, post deinde
surgeons in came — adscendit ad patrem, quomodo non confundaaUWj qui dicunt irrferos
quidem esse kunc mundum, qui sit secundum nos, inferiorem autem hominem ipsorum^
dereliiiqu/entem hoc corpus, in supercodestem adscendere locum f Thus there were
those who understood the adscendere adpatrem even with reference to Christ, only
of the Spirit of man. This was, however, by no means the general view.



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Chap. IV.] EPISTLES TO EPHESIANS AND COLOSSIANS. 19

Eph. iii 11^ the conception of the aeons in their relation to time,
corresponds with the Gnostic conception of them as spiritual beings
who are the bearers of the thoughts of GoA Still more striking is
this in the expression aloop tov Koafiov tovtov, Eph. ii 2. The
interpreters think that the passage is sufl&ciently explained by giv-
ing the word the meaning "earthly life/' "course of the world," "era
of the world," and declare it to be quite a mistake to render aliov in
the Gnostic sense. Yet it can scarcely be denied that the expression
is at least not very unlike the Gnostic conception, and why should
not the subject amp tov Koafiov tovtov be parallel to the other
subjects, namely, the ap^tov t^9 efyvala^ tov aipo^ and the Trvevfia
epefxyovvl The only Pauline expression with which this one can
be compared is Seo? tov amvo^ tovtov, 2 Cor. iv. 4, and that instead
of 6609 we have here ai€ov, and that the alav tov Koafiov tovtov is
mentioned by the side of an amv t&v alafvcov, can only be
explained by the influence of Gnostic ideas. In the same passage,
on inspecting it more closely, and comparing it with the kindred
passage vi 12, we detect still more Gnostic representations and
expressions in which the eye of the author expatiates in the super-
natural world of darkness, as at other times it does in the brighter
regions of the spirit-realm. The Koa^ioKpaTope^ tov ckotov^, Eph,
vi 12, cannot disown their Gnostic origin. The Valentinians gave
the name of Kosmocrator to the deviL To the same origin with
Kosmocrator are the Sai/jbovui and arfyekoi to be referred. What
he is in unity, these are in plurality.^ Marcion gave the name of
Kosmocrator to the demiurge, who is in his system the representa-
tive of the evil principle.^ Now if the KoafioKpaTope; cannot be
subordinated to any principle but the ala)i; tov Ko<r/iov tovtov, then
the aloDv is the Koa/jLOKparcop, As ieo<rfioKpdTa>p, he is, according
to Eph. ii 2, the apxa>v tt}? e^ovda^ tov depo^ and the wpevfjui to
evepyovv, etc., that is, the devil described in Gnostic phrases. For the
peculiar expression, tcl irvevfuiTiKa ttj^ irovripia^, Eph. vi 1 2, there
is no parallel to be found but in the language of the Gnostics.^

^ IrenaeuB, Adv. Haer. i. 5. 4. ' Irenaens, i. 27. 2.

^ Irenaens says of the Valentinians (L 5. 4) : '£je r^( \virqs (of the Sophia) r^



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20 UFS AND WOBK OF PAUL. [Part IL

That in connexion with such representations the contrast of
light and darkness should be peculiarly dwelt upon (Eph. ii 2»
iv, 18, V. 8 ; CoL L 18), may not be a very important circumstance ;
yet the universal proposition, EpL v. 13, irav to ^avepovymfov ^w
Irrt,, is worthy of remark. This sentence affirms, according to the
Gnostic theory of light, that light is the principle through which,
everything that is and has existence for consciousness, is mediated.
All becoming takes place just by that which existed already in its
essence becoming manifest to consciousness. The Yalentinians
used this proposition in this way in their explanation of the pro-
logue to John's Gospel, when they said. When John called .^cd^
the ^9 dv0panr<dv, he meant to include in the word dvOptoiroDv the
avOpomo^ and the eKicKiriala, &rrc9^ Sia rov hfo^ ovoftaro^ Sffkioirij
TTjv T7j^ av^vyla^ Koiv<oviav, €/e yap rov Xoyov /cai Trj^ ^^ii>V^
av0payrro^ ylverat, Kcui ^KKKtfaia^ <f>&^ Se ehre r&v dpOpayirwv Tqv
^mjv, Sta to ire<f>a>ria6(u avrov^ vrr airni^, 8 Sij earh fiefiop<l>&(r0<u
Kol ireifKLvep&aOai,, Tovro h\ 6 HatTXo? \^€r wav yap ro if>ave^
povfievov ^£9 iari'^ errel rolwp i^avepctxre Kiu eyevvfjce top t€
apOptoTTOp Kat TTjp €KK\rf(rtav 17 ^ayi], ^£9 eipfjaOai, avr&p. Life is
called the light of man and the church, because the origin of the
syzygy of the man and the Church is nothing but its becoming
visible. Everything that arises simply emerges to the light out of

irvevfJurriKh rrjs novrfpias btbdaKovai yeyovevcUf o6€V k<u didfioKov rrfv ycvtaof
€(rxi]i^^vcu9 ^v xal Koa-ftoKpdropa fcoXovcrt, Ka\ tcl bcuft6via Koi roifg ayyikovs kcu,
vaa-av rriv irvtvyuanKriv ttis novripias {mSorao'iv. The different states of mind are
here described, into which Sophia or Achamoth fell outside of the Fleroma.
Each of these states of mind is, through the subjective becoming objective, the
principle of a definite sphere of the material and spiritual world. Sorrow
objectivated itself to the substance of the air {depa yty ovivai Kara ttjs Xvrr^s-
itri^iv)y but from the same Xvtti; arose also the Trvcv/xariK^ r^( irovripias, and
especially the btdfioXos or KoapjOKpdroip, who has his seat iv r^ itaff fffias Kdo'fuj^.
So in our Epistle the aloiv rov KSa-fiov rovrov, who presides over the KoapLOKparopes
rov (tkStovs, is the &px<ov rrjg i^ovaias rov dipos. The spiritually evil beings are
the inhabitants of the atmosphere which envelopes the earth, and as such, the
Koa-poKpdropes rov aK&rovs, The conceptions air and darkness are the physical
substratum of the spiritually eviL

^ This is, moreover, one of the oldest pieces of evidence for the supposed
Pauline origin of the Epistle to the Ephesians, and should not be omitted from
the catalogue.



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Chap. IV.] EPISTLES TO EFHESIANS AND COLOSSI ANS. 2)

what it was essentially before. There is, therefore, and this
expiresses accurately the Gnostic view of the universe, no becoming
or originating, but everything that becomes and originates simply
begins to exist for consciousness, for everything that is, is absolutely.
Nothing therefore acquires essential existence ; all becoming and
originating is true only for the sphere of consciousness. The whole
process of the world's becoming is just the process of the develop-
ment of consciousness. If then such be the true sense of the sup-
■ posed Pauline proposition, who does not perceive that it has come
into this connexion out of a totally different set of ideas, and that
the moral purport here given to it can only be properly understood
if it be explained by the metaphysical meaning which underlies it?
The striking affinity of these two letters with Gnostic ideas and
expressions has been for the most part disregarded by interpreters,
bat where this has not been the case, only two explanations seem
to have been considered possible : (1.) That the Gnostics derived
those views from the Pauline Epistles, or, (2.) That ideas like those
of the Gnostics were already in circulation at the apostle's time, and
that he set himself to combat and correct them. The latter alter-
naitive is thoroughly improbable; on the one hand there is no proof
of the existenciB of Gnostic ideas at so early a period, and on the
other, the Epistle to the Ephesians exhibits no trace of even an
indirect polemic against the Gnostic doctrines. On the contrary,
this apostle would have been playing into the hands of the Gnostics
both in this and to some extent also in the Colossian Epistle. And
the former alternative is just as unlikely or even more so. Ter-
ftilliari has been appealed to in support of it.^ But what can Tertul-
Han prove for an opinion that has against it the whole constitution
of the Gnostic systems, especially of the Valentinian system, the
structure of which is far too original to be explained by what Tertul-
lian says of it, that Valentine materiam qd scriptural excogitavit? '

. ^ CWpare Harless on Eph. i 23, where he cites Tert.de praescr. Haer. o. 38.
^ ^ .Non ad materiam soripturas (as Marcion), et tamen plus abstulit et plas
adjecit, anferens proprietates singnlomm qaoque Terboram et adjicieiis disposi*
tiones non camparentiamrenmi.



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22 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part IL

If, then, both alternatives are equally inadmissible, both those
sides combine to make us think that the Epistle to the Ephesians
especially is of post-apostolic origin, and dates from a time when
the Gnostic ideas were just coming into circulation, and still wore
the garb of innocent Christian speculations.

We are the more led to think of this period, that the same
Epistle to which these remarks chiefly apply, namely that to the
Ephesians, indicates an acquaintance with another phenomenon of
the age of Gnosticism, viz., Montanism. We may remark here that
the elements out of which Montanism arose were in existence long
before the reputed founder of that sect, and were as far as may be
from being heretical And thus, though we should find in our
Epistle the echoes of Montanism, we should not be compelled to
place it at too late a date. The emphatic designation of the
irv€Vfm as the distinctive principle of Christian consciousness and
life might of itself appear to point out such a relation. Compare
Eph. I 3, 13, 17 ; ii. 18 ; iii. 5, 16 ; iv. 3, 30, 23 ; v. 18 ; vi. 17 ;
and CoL L 8, 9 ; iii 16. With the Montanists, the conception of
the irvevfia was identical with that of ao<\>ia ;^ it was to them the
principle of Christian wisdom, of knowledge and insight, which
constituted the peculiar distinction of the Christian, if at least he
understood his position in the world. In this sense Tertullian
speaks of the administratio paracleti quod intellectus reformaJtv/r
quod ad meliora proficUur? Through the agnitio paracleti which
distinguishes them from psychical men, the Montanists are also
instructiores per paracletum,^

Shall we seek here for an explanation of the fact that in both
our Epistles, that to the Colossians also, the essence of Christian
perfection is so often made to consist in <rvv€<n^, in a'o<f>ia, yvaxri^^t
etc. ? (Compare in addition to the passages last cited, Eph. v. 15 ;
Col. ii. 23; iii 16 ; iv. 5 ; i. 9.) The Montanists held the view

1 In Epiphanins, Haer. xlix. 1, the Montanist prophetess PrisciUa^ or Quintilla,
says that Christ had appeared to her in female form, koi cWjSoXcv iv €fun r^v
(roff>Lap ical aTrcKoXv^c /M>t, etc. CL Eph. L 17y irvevfia a'o<l>ias ical aTroncoXv^ttf.

a De veL Virg. c. 1. * Tert. ad. Prax. c. 1.



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Chap. IV.] EFI8TLES TO EFHESIANS AND C0L088IANS. 23

of a divine Eevelation which unfolds itself in definite succes-
sive stages, and is completed in the period of the Spirit, and
in these stages the Christian perfection, which approves itself
through the o-o^m, etc., was reckoned analogous to the ripeness
of manhood. So far, they held, had the Church advanced through
the manifestations and communications of the Paraclete within
her.^

The Epistle to the Ephesians takes up the same idea for the
principle of the development of the Christian Church, which, as
the body of Christ, has still to grow up to maturity, iv. 11 sq.
"He has given some as apostles, others as prophets, others as
evangelists ; others as pastors and teachers, that the saints m^ht
be prepared for the* work of ministration, for the building up of
the body of Christ, tiU we aU come to the unity of faith, and of the
knowledge of the Son of God, to the perfect man, to the measure
of the age of the Church at which Christ is filled with her,* — ^that
we should be no more children." Here also the end of the corporate
life of the Christian Church is held to be reached by a progress
stage by stage, from the state of infancy to that of manly maturity.
But while Montanism held that end to be already attained
in the presence of the Paraclete, the author of our Epistle, seek-
ing to think the thoughts of the apostle, represented it as yet
to be attained through the harmonious co-operation of all the
Church's members.

That the age to which our Epistles belong was one in which
there was a practical interest to take this idea as the principle
of the development of the Church, is rendered still more likely by
the fact that the Epistle to the Colossians also contains it, i. 28 ;

^ Compare the fine paauge Tert de VeL Virg. o. i JoBtitia primo fait in rudi-
mentiB, dehinc per legem et prophetas promovit in infantiam, dehinc per evan-
geliom efferbnit in juventutem, nnnc per Paracletum componitur in maturitatem.

s It is incorrect to take r6 irX^pw/Mi rov Xpifrrov in the sense of being filled
with Christ ; it is the fulness of Christ, or the contents with which Christ fills
himself, that is, the church. The vXrfpmfM Xp. is thus equivalent to the (r&fia
rov Xp. in the preceding verse, and it cannot be said that the Montanist phrase
would be irX^pcofui rov trc^MueXi^rov*



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24 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [Part IL

xarayyeWofiep (Xpurrop) SiSaa-Kovref: iraura avOpomov Iv wcurp
ao<f>ia, tva Trapaarria'cofiei/ irdvra avOptrrrov reketov €V Xpurrm}

But the most striking references to the ideas and institutions of
the Montanists are contained in the passages, Eph. iL 20 ; iii. 5 ;
iv. 11; where the apostles and prophets are named together, and
in each case the prophets after the apostles. Only a superficial
method of interpretation, a thing, however, which is not absolutely
unknown in the later commentaries, could hold this placing of the
prophets after the apostles to be merely accidental, and so under-
stand the prophets here spoken of to be the prophets of the Old
Testament Harless has with perfect justice repudiated this inter-
pretation; but he goes on to say that the want of the article
before irpojyrfT&v shows the apostle to have united the two sub-
stantives at iL 20, and iii 5, as forming together one conception,
that is, that he gives the apostles the additional designation of
prophets; and that this is done in reference to the description of the
state of the heathen Christians, ii. 12, who were there said to be
without promise and without hope, but who now possess the pro-
mise which the apostles, as the bearers of the promise of the new
covenant, have brought them. We cannot follow him in this ; the
interpretation is far too artificial to be a real solution of the diffi-
culty. The text iv. 11 shows distinctly that the apostles are
distinguished from the prophets. Harless remarks indeed that
the aTrooToXri involves the irpo^Tela, while the irpo<fyqrela does
not involve the airo<TTo\ri \ and this is true; yet it is clear from
iv. 11 that there were prophets who were distinct from the
apostles, and the question must still be asked. Who are these
proph^s, and how came the author of our Epistle to couple them



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