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same author j1 and both also are unpretending notes evidently subsequent to 1 John, whether they were written by the apostle, or—as was widely and early felt in the church (Jerome, De Vir. Must. 3)—by the Presbyter John. The doctrinal and ecclesiastical circumstances which they reflect have suggested 130-140 A.d. as the date of their origin. So Hilgenfeld (Einl. pp. 682-694), Holtzmann (HC, rv. 2, pp. 268, 272), and Weizsacker (AA, ii. 239), who reckon the epistles as products of the Johannine school which were composed about the time when the great Gnostic systems began to rise. But this is to interpret far too rigidly their occasional references. Their atmosphere is similar to, though less developed than, that of the "pastorals "; so much at least can be traced in their incidental allusions. Also, the similarity of ecclesiastical life to that portrayed in the Didache (c. 130 A.d.) becomes significant only when it is remembered that the latter implies a system which has been in existence for some time previously. The letters may be put, therefore, into the opening decades of the century 3 when that system was in process of consolidation (J. Reville, Les oriqines de I'itpiscop. pp. 204-208).
The emphasis in the second epistle is on doctrine. But the false teaching which is insidiously permeating the church is apparently none other than that already controverted in the first epistle. Although the third epistle is addressed to an individual, the second seems to imply a community veiled under the semi-poetic, semi-playful title of " the elect Lady." The tenor of the counsels suits the circumstances of those who were the members (or "children") of this church, in their exposure to heresy and uncharitableness. Evidently, ultra-spiritualism was also one of the dangers of that critical period. Its failure to do justice to the historical basis of the faith had to be corrected by a sharp recall to the apostolic tradition in which that basis was preserved.
In the third epistle, again, the organisation of the church comes into greater prominence. If Harnack's ingenious theory 8 be correct in the main, it is a ray of light upon the passage of the early church from the earlier and undeveloped state of primitive itinerant preachers to one where the more settled order of monarchical bishops (lilce Diotrephes) and churchofficials was assuming control; though in some aspects Diotrephes seems
1 Reville (he. cit.)remarks : "II faut se representer la coexistence de ces cournnts intellectuels differents dans les petits cercles mystiques de l'Asie-Minenre greeque, de la meme facon que s'associent, dans certaines soci6tes mystiques de la tin du moyen age, le legalisme monastique et la plus large independence a 1'egard de la tlieologie eccldsiastique officielle. Eusebius (HE, IV. 22) mentions a certain Theobutis (Thebutis) who, according to Hegeaippus, corrupted a pure church (r«f0i>»>) with his teaching /uasre/«<;), owing to anger at missing a bishopric. A proto
type or comrade of Diotrephes! Bruckner (Chron. pp. 302-306), I observe, agrees that the two smaller epistles are due to one hand ; he is not sure if this writer also wrote the first epistle, but in any case it was not the author of the gospel. There is really no reason, however, to doubt the obvious fact—noticed long ago by Erasmus and Grotius, and amply confirmed by modern criticism—that these notes are to be relegated to John the presbyter.
3 Adeney (BT, pp. 455-458), like Weiss and Westcott, puts them towards the end of the first century, a position which is of course necessary if they are ascribed to John the apostle. Zahn goes even earlier, to the 9th decade of the first century (EM. ii. pp. 576-582), and is followed by Bartlet (A A, pp. 418-433).
* Cp. TU, xv. 3. "Es ist der Kampf der alten patriarehalischen und provinzialen Missionsorganization gegen die sieh konsolidierende Einzelgemeinde, die zum Zweck ihrer Konsolidierung uud strengen Abschliessnng nach aussen den monarchischen Episkopat aus ihrer Mitte hervortreibt" (p. 21); also IID, i. p. 213 f. But see reviews by Buldensperger (Prolog, p. 148), KrUger (ZwTh, 1898, pp. 307-311), and Hilgenfeld (Ibid. 316-320).
more like the champion of the old order. It is at any rate the private note of an ecclesiastic, varying from irate criticism of an influential rival to generoas approval of his correspondent's hospitality and character. Official rights are in the air, and here as in Clem. Rom. (13-15) their possessors insist upon deference. Order and unity are the object of desire within the church, as the Ignatian epistles clearly indicate, although the origin of this movement to hegemony (Palestinian Jewish Christianity, or Asiatic Hellenism) remains far from clear.
Questions of authorship1 and object apart, however, the three Johannine epistles undoubtedly follow in the wake of the fourth gospel. It is safest to print them immediately after it, as the epistles themselves are Bo isolated in the NT that they fail to furnish evidence 2 which would enable us to determine their relative position with any more definiteness, from literary affinities with the subsequent records. There is equally little evidence for the supposition that the first epistle was composed after the others.
Evidence for the late stage of development in the apostolic consciousness is furnished incidentally by the use of the collective name avrixpi<rros. The word, while evidently a familiar term and implying a tradition (1 Jn 4s- 6, aKrjKoart), only occurs—and that figuratively—in 1-2 Jn (cp. the quotation and commentary in Polyk. Ad Philip, vii.). From denoting, as in 2 Thess and Apoc 13, 17 (probably earlier portions of the book), a personage or world-power, primarily Jewish and secondarily pagan, the idea has become that of a principle, i.e. the Gnostic denial of Jesus' true humanity. This heresy 3 (a spirit, 1 Jn 43) may again be represented in numerous individuals. These exponents of the idea become "antichrists," as they oppose and displace Christ, by their belief in other divine powers, idolatrous and untrue (vide Baldensperger, Prolog, pp. 145-147). In the crisis and change which mark the opening of the second century, this untoward result has already taken place within the sphere of Christianity (<ccu vvv . . . rj^rf). The "great" church is being driven to the verge of a distinction between the visible and the invisible ecclesia (2 Ti 220). Her increasing self-consciousness demands that the cleavage (Jn 179,1 Jn 516, 2 Jn 10) be recognised between herself and the heretics of the day. Through her communion, founded on apostolic tradition (1 Jn lw 46), communion with God is alone possible for men.
From the point of historical interest, then, these writings help incidentally to corroborate (1 Jn l1"4, 2 Jn 12) the traditional theory that even alongside of the written gospels oral teaching with its systematic catechism4 kept a tenacious existence and supplemented the records, just
1 2 and 3 John were in all likelihood written by John the presbyter, as Jerome admits. 1 John at any rate cannot have been written by the man who wrote Apoc. 2, 3. The contrast between concrete pregnant advice and abstract review is fatal to identity of authorship. See farther on this presbyter, Jiilicher, Mini. 200, 823 f.
9 2 Jn 7 is too vague to be taken as a reflection of the Domitianic persecution. It could have been written at almost any time after 65 A.d.
3 The evidence for the existence of a party who perverted Paulinism (1 Jo 37, etc.) within the church, is scarcely adequate, although the fact is perfectly probable. The maiu issues of Paul's epoch are of course ancient history to this writer.
* "There must be, we admit, a fairly constant impact. A wandering voice will not fill the mind, it will prove like a fine symphony heard once and then only faintly remembered. . . . But, given a long-continued and sustained personal influence over receptive minds, we think that the power of the living voice as an organ of reason cannot be dispensed with or surpassed" (Spectator, March 1899, p. 411, "On the Living Voice and the Printed Page"). Cp. Zahn, OK, i. p. 840 f., on oral tradition and the gospels. An interesting instance in Pliny's Epp. ii. 3. Also Clem. Al. Strom. 1.275.
as the use of stone implements (Reville) persisted after the discovery and employment of various metals. Through all the Johannine epistles stress falls not on the appeal to scripture or the sayings of Jesus, but on the authority and personality of the writer conveyed usually viva voce and specially in writing, as well as on tradition (air' apx<is) and the spiritual conscience. Individually, the notes have a certain distinctiveness. In the first epistle' the atmosphere is the antinomian Gnosticism and libertine tendencies of the second century. Between the epistle and the gospel there is a manifest identity of phrases and ideas, and although the former has its own characteristics, these are not psychologically incompatible with the unity of authorship. They are explicable upon the supposition that some years later the author of the gospel had occasion to re-state in another and more polemical form some of his convictions and principles in view of a more developed situation. His main concern is with the inward errors and dangers which were in operation (4°) throughout the Christian society in regard to the person of Christ and the moral obligations of faith ; * the extension and organisation of the church are not upon his horizon. The unimportant, homely notes which have been preserved under the titles 2 and 3 John have quite an ecclesiastical tinge. Evidently they were written by some one familiar with the Johannine circle of ideas, but fortunately their date does not depend upon their authorship.3 Their world is the world of 1 John, partially of the "pastoral epistles," and they afford but a glimpse into one corner of that world. Like drops of water under a microscope, these tiny letters nevertheless can be made to disclose a teeming activity of life, though it is limited withal and comparatively speaking petty.
1 Cp. a lucid article by A. Zahn (Wanderungen (lurch Schrift und Gcschichte, 1891, pp. 3-74) on the conception of siu in the first epistle of John, especially chap. (., with Wiesinger's analysis of the book in iSJST(1899), pp. 575-581, and Karl's paragraphs (Johan. Studien, I. 1898, pp. 97-104); also Klopper (ZwTh, 1900, 585 f.) on 1 .To 516 f..
s Hiring, ThA, pp. 187-200. Evidently the church has been able to shed off the unsound members of ner communion (1 Jn 219 l4). But the state of matters corroborates the impression of trouble with the Asiatic churches which is left by the earlier record in Ac 20^-».
s Professor Bacon (INT, pp. 230-250), who is absolutely sure that John the apostle is responsible for the Apocalypse, hesitates upon this tract against Gnostic uluminaii which has come down to us under the title of " 1 John." He prefers to attribute all these epistles (95-100 A.D.) to an Ephesian presbyter, who got the name "John" from scribes of the second century owing to the connexion of his writings with the fourth gospel. This hypothesis scarcely seems much of an improvement upon that of John the presbyter's authorship, which Bacon cannot see his way to accept, any more than Schmiedel (EIH, ii. 2556-2560). Yet pseudouymity seems out of place in brief notes such as 2 and 3 John, and it is reading too much between the lines to attribute, with Liidemann (JpTIi, 1879, 565-576), to the minor epistles (written beforo 1 John and the fourth gospel) the role of correcting Papias' representation of John by substituting one more characteristic. Schmiedel, who places the three epistles with, and probably after, the fourth gospel in the first half of the second century, attributes the first epistle to a different author, whom he rightly praises for avoiding personalities and preserving a high degree of moderation in his
rlemic—in contrast to disputants such as the writers of the pastorals, Judas and Peter. Rendel Harris, in a pretty and romantic study of 2 John (Exp." March, 1901, pp. 194-203, partially followed by Bamsay, ibid., May, pp. 354-356), views it as a "love-letter," whose recipient was a Gentile Christian widow.
Soltau most recently (ZXW, 1901, 140-119) attributes the first epistle to John the presbyter, who also, it is conjectured (op. Umere Evangelien, 1H01, p. 110 f.), was the final editor of the fourth gospel, which he composed out of Johannine logia and a previous narrative-tradition.
1 John is a writing meant to controvert an antinomian Gnosticism. It is a defence of that true Gnosis, which upon the one hand finds iu the incarnate Son of God the full knowledge of God and all that pertains to that knowledge (even life eternal), while upon the other hand it feels the need of breaking with sin and showing love; nor can it urge too often against the pride of the so-called "spirituals," that what we possess in religion and morals is a gift of God, and that only by the practice of corresponding deeds can our claim to possess this as a gift of God, be justified at all. Over and again the author returns to what he has already handled, nor does he fear to contradict himself. Indeed, he brings out from his world of thought whatever will be of service iu this battle against moral and religious anarchy, doing so not for its own sake, but simply as he can mako use of it in order to strengthen the confidence of his readers in anti-Gnostic Christianity. There is a
striking connection between 1 John and the gospel of John, which is explained with the greatest probability when the epistle is regarded as a later composition of the evangelist. His reason for allowing it to follow the earlier work was not to present the main thoughts of that great predecessor in a popular form, or to express them over again as propositions that could be remembered. It was because his gospel and conceptions of Christianity were seriously threatened now by Gnostics, who frankly made a partial use of his formulas to recommend themselves to the ignorant, and indeed found many points in his own views with which they coincided. In composing his defence, he chose the form of an "epistle," which, thanks to Paul, had come into high favour; but this did not materially alter his own style.—Julichcr.
Iw Introduction! fellowship with God and man.
l5-2" Light and darkness: the conditions of fellowship—
218-29 Truth and falsehood: the dangers of fellowship—
31-11 Children of Cod and children of the devil: the character of
3ls-5" Brotherly love: resulting in, confidence towards God.
47-" union with God.
6'-" based upon faith in the Son of God—the victory of faith.
gi»-»i Epilogue: a resumed
1 \ That which was from the beginning:
which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes,
2 yea, the life was disclosed,
and we have seen and bear witness, and bring word to you of
3 of that which we have seen and heard we bring word to you as
well, that you also may have fellowship with us: yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son
4 And these things we write,
that our joy may be complete.
5 And the message which we have learned from him and disclose to you is this:
"God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." C If we say, " We have fellowship with him," and walk in the darkness, We lie and we do not practise the truth:
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light,
We have fellowship one with another,
And the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say, "We have no sin,"
We lead ourselves astray,
9 If we confess our sins,
Faithful is he and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity. 10 If we say, "We have not sinned," We make him a liar, And his word is not in us.
2 1 My little children, these things I write to you
That you may not sin. Yet if anyone sins,
We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the upright.
2 And he is the propitiation for our sins,
Yet not for ours only, but also for the whole world.
3 And hereby we know that we know him,
If we keep his commandments.
4 He who says, " I know him," and keeps not his commandments,
Is a liar, and the truth is not in him: