Papias

, bishop of Hierapolis, a city of Phrygia in Asia Minor, near to Laodicea, was the disciple of St. John the Evangelist, or of another of that name; but Irenaeus says positively, that he was the disciple of St. John the Evangelist; for Polycarp was his disciple, and he says, Papias was Polycarp’s companion. Papias wrote five books, entitled “The Expositions of the Discourses of the Lord;” of which there are only some fragments left in the writings of Irenaeus and Eusebius. He made way for the opinion several of the ancients held touching the temporal reign of Christ, who they supposed would come upon earth a thousand years before the day of judgment, to gather together the elect, after the resurrection, into the city of Jerusalem, and let them there enjoy all felicity during that period. Irenaeus, who was of the same judgment, relates a fragment he took out of Papias’s fourth book, where he endeavours to prove that opinion from a passage in Isaiah; and Eusebius, after having quoted a passage taken out of Papias’s Preface, adds, “That that author relates divers things which he pretended he had by unwritten tradition; such as were the last instructions of our Lord Christ, which are not set down by the Evangelists, and some other fabulous histories, amongst which number his opinion ought to be placed touching the personal return of Christ upon earth after the resurrection.” The occasion of his falling into | that error,“says Eusebius again,” was his misunderstanding of the discourses and instructions of the Apostles, as not thinking that those expressions ought to bear a mystical sense; and that the Apostles used them only for illustration, for he was a man of a mean genius, as his books manifest, and yet several of the ancients, and, among the rest, Irenaeus, maintained their opinions on the authority ofPapias." 1

1

Cave, vol. I.—Lardner’s Works.—Dupin.