The Pastoral Epistles in the Epistle of Barnabas, Part II

[This post is part of a series on The Pastoral Epistles in the Apostolic Fathers. RWB]


A few NT references are listed as potential allusion sources for Ep.Barn. 5.6.


Ep.Barn. 5.6 || 1Ti 3.16, 2Ti 1.10*



(6) οἱ προφῆται, ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ ἔχοντες τὴν χάριν, εἰς αὐτὸν ἐπροφήτευσαν. αὐτὸς δὲ ἵνα καταργήσῃ τὸν θάνατον καὶ τὴν ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀνάστασιν δείξῃ, ὅτι ἐν σαρκὶ ἔδει αὐτὸν φανερωθῆναι, ὑπέμεινεν,
(6) The prophets, receiving grace from him, prophesied about him. But he himself submitted, in order that he might destroy death and demonstrate the reality of the resurrection of the dead, because it was necessary that he be manifested in the flesh.
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (284, 285). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


16 καὶ ὁμολογουμένως μέγα ἐστὶν τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον· ὃς ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί, ἐδικαιώθη ἐν πνεύματι, ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις, ἐκηρύχθη ἐν ἔθνεσιν, ἐπιστεύθη ἐν κόσμῳ, ἀνελήμφθη ἐν δόξῃ. (1Ti 3.16, NA27)
16 And most certainly, great is the mystery of godliness: Who was revealed in flesh, Vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed amongst the peoples, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory. (1Ti 3.16, my own translation)


10 φανερωθεῖσαν δὲ νῦν διὰ τῆς ἐπιφανείας τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, καταργήσαντος μὲν τὸν θάνατον φωτίσαντος δὲ ζωὴν καὶ ἀφθαρσίαν διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου (2Ti 1.10, NA27)
10 and now has been revealed through the appearance of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who indeed abolished death and brought to light life and immortality through the gospel (2Ti 1.10, my own translation)


There are a few spots where affinities between Barnabas and the PE texts can be seen.


First, between Ep.Barn. 5.6 and 1Ti 3.16, the primary affinity has to do with the idea of Christ being manifested (φανερόω) in the flesh (ἐν σαρκὶ). The ideas are remarkably the same and the language seems almost liturgical. Indeed, that’s the vibe one gets from 1Ti 3.16, which has long been considered to have some sort of early Christian hymn or creed as its source. The Oxford committee that gathered these references notes the same thing: “But as it itself (1Ti 3.16) is probably quoting a current liturgical form, literary dependence cannot be pressed either way” (13). Note also that Ep.Barn. uses the phrase “manifested in the flesh” several times (Ep.Barn. 6.7, 9, 14; 12.10; 14.5). The idea has to come from somewhere, whether it be common liturgical formula (probably) or this portion of First Timothy.


Second, between Ep.Barn. 5.6 and 2Ti 1.10, there are a few points of contact. The first is similar to that of 1Ti 3.16, that Christ has appeared. 2Ti 1.10 uses φανερόω not in reference to Christ (directly, as both Ep.Barn. 5.6 and 1Ti 3.16 do) but as a participle clause that further explains “purpose and grace” from v. 9. We were saved according to God’s “purpose and grace” and not our own works. 2Ti 1.9-10 has two clauses that further explain this purpose and grace. The first is v.9, explaining that his purpose and grace have “been granted to us in Christ Jesus from times eternal”. The second is the first part of v. 10, which here has some affinity with Ep.Barn. 5.6. God’s “purpose and grace” has been “revealed” (φανερόω) through the appearance (ἐπιφανείας) of our Saviour Jesus Christ. This is similar to 1Ti 3.16, though the specific note of manifestation/appearance in the flesh (ἐν σαρκὶ) is not made in 2Ti 1.10.


The second point of contact between Ep.Barn. 5.6 and 2Ti 1.10 has to do with the destruction of death. The word translated destruction (Ep.Barn) or abolish (2Ti) is καταργέω. In both cases the destruction is of death (τὸν θάνατον). Both texts portray Jesus Christ as the one who destroyed death.


A third point of contact is not specifically lexical but rather topical. Both texts note the effect of the destruction of death using different words but both essentially supporting the same concept. In Ep.Barn., the consequence of the destruction of death is that Christ demonstrates “the reality of the resurrection of the dead”. In 2Ti, Christ brings “to light life and immortality through the gospel”. In both cases, the effect has to do with life — immortality. Because Christ destroyed death, the dead in Christ also are not bound by death, they will rise. Christ’s death obliterates the darkness and shines light on the life we will have into the ages. Different words, same basic concept: With the destruction of death those who are dead are no longer bound by death. There is now life.


These three points in common between Ep.Barn. 5.6 and 2Ti 1.10 are striking. I don’t know that dependence can be proven, but the ideas behind both texts share several commonalities that stimulate thought.


Next up: Ep.Barn. 7.2.





* Note that the Oxford committee also lists 1Pe 1.20-21 as a possible allusion/parallel source along with 2Ti 1.10:



20 προεγνωσμένου μὲν πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου φανερωθέντος δὲ ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων διʼ ὑμᾶς 21 τοὺς διʼ αὐτοῦ πιστοὺς εἰς θεὸν τὸν ἐγείραντα αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν καὶ δόξαν αὐτῷ δόντα, ὥστε τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν καὶ ἐλπίδα εἶναι εἰς θεόν. (1Pe 1.20-21, NA27)
20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1Pe 1.20-21, ESV)

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