The Pastoral Epistles in the Epistle of Barnabas, Part V

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

Ep.Barn. 14.5 and Titus 2.14 have some commonalities.


Ep.Barn. 14.5 || Titus 2.14



(5) ἐφανερώθη δὲ ἵνα κἀκεῖνοι τελειωθῶσιν τοῖς ἁμαρτήμασιν καὶ ἡμεῖς διὰ τοῦ κληρονομοῦντος διαθήκην κυρίου Ἰησοῦ λάβωμεν, ὃς εἰς τοῦτο ἡτοιμάσθη, ἵνα αὐτὸς φανείς τὰς ἤδη δεδαπανημένας ἡμῶν καρδίας τῷ θανάτῳ καὶ παραδεδομένας τῇ τῆς πλάνης ἀνομίᾳ λυτρωσάμενος ἐκ τοῦ σκότους, διάθηται ἐν ἡμῖν διαθήκην λόγῳ. (Ep.Barn. 14.5)
(5) And he was made manifest in order that they might fill up the measure of their sins and we might receive the covenant through the Lord Jesus who inherited it, who was prepared for this purpose, in order that by appearing in person and redeeming from darkness our hearts, which had already been paid over to death and given over to the lawlessness of error, he might establish a covenant in us by his word. (Ep.Barn. 14.5)
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers : Greek texts and English translations (Updated ed.) (312, 313). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.


14 ὃς ἔδωκεν ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, ἵνα λυτρώσηται ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀνομίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἑαυτῷ λαὸν περιούσιον, ζηλωτὴν καλῶν ἔργων. (Tt 2.14, NA27)
14 who gave himself on behalf of us, to redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for himself a chosen people, zealous for good works. (Tt 2.14, my own translation)


These texts have slight lexical commonalities and, therefore, some topical similarity. First, previous to the common material, Ep.Barn. notes Christ’s “appearing in person”. Titus 2.13 also notes “appearing”, but there it is the “appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ”. One passage focuses on Christ’s person, the other on His glory. The end is the same (focus on the appearing of Christ) but the means are different.


Our NT passage here (Titus 2.14) also focuses on Christ’s person, using the reflexive pronoun ἑαυτὸν. Thus we know it is “our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” who gave himself. Ep.Barn. also uses a pronoun (though here the personal pronoun, αὐτὸς) to refocus and emphasize the one received: the covenant-inheriting “Lord Jesus”, the one who was “prepared for this purpose”. In both texts Jesus Christ himself is the one given to a special, prepared people.


This special people that Christ is being given over to is lawless and in need of redemption. The word translated “lawlessness” in both texts is ἀνομία. Additionally, both texts use the verb λυτρόω (Ep.Barn. an aorist middle participle, λυτρωσάμενος; Titus a future indicative, λυτρώσεται) for “redeem”. In both texts, the problem (ἀνομία) is the same, and the solution (λυτρόω) is the same.


Note, however, that Tt 2.14 may echo Ps 130.8 [LXX 129.8]. The language is similar and the verb is exactly the same: 



8 καὶ αὐτὸς λυτρώσεται τὸν Ισραηλ ἐκ πασῶν τῶν ἀνομιῶν αὐτοῦ.
8 and he himself will redeem Israel from all of its lawlessnesses. (Ps 130.8 [LXX 129.8])


Ps 130.8 [LXX 129.8] may therefore lie at the root of both texts; or it may lie at the root of Titus 2.14, which may in some loose way influence Ep.Barn. Either way, direct dependence is unable to be proven though the confluence of lexical and topical similarities may indicate some loose affinity between the two.


The Oxford committee further notes:



Here the idea of Christ preparing for Himself a special people, by redeeming it from ἀνομία, is present in both writings in rather similar language, and so far strengthens the presumption created by Ep.Barn 1.3-6 || Tt 3.5-7, 1.2. (14).


The earlier noted affinity (Ep.Barn 1.3-6 || Tt 3.5-7, 1.2) brings to light the idea of the spirit being “poured out” on men, creating a “hope for life” that is present in both texts. This hope has ground in Christ’s own sacrifice, the price of redemption being paid. The two parts do go together, but whether or not these two texts are dependent in this presentation cannot be said. Christ’s death redeems sinners, and the giving of the spirit (a result of his death was the gift of the spirit, see here) and the resultant hope of life (the spirit is present as a temporary deposit after Christ’s resurrection, just as he promised, which gives us hope of his return) are foundational and necessary pieces to the whole of Christianity.


It is not surprising that two Christian texts would make these statements. What is surprising, however, is the commonality of language between the two. There may be some influence, or the two may both have some influence from both common liturgies/creeds/hymns and the LXX, but direct influence of Titus on Barnabas is not likely. Might the author of Ep.Barn. known of Titus, and might he have read it? Sure. Might he have been influenced by that exposure? Perhaps. But his using of Titus as direct source in areas of Ep.Barn. isn’t very likely, in my estimation.


Next up: Pastoral Epistles in the Didache