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1. Heuman gives it as his opinion, that in the title of elder, there is a reference to John's great age, when he wrote these epistles, and that he was as well known by the title of elder, as by his pro. per name; so that elder, was the same as if he had said, the aged apostle. The circumstance that the writer of these epistles hath not mentioned his own name, is agreeable to John's manner, who neither hath mentioned his name in his gospel, nor in the first epistle, which is unquestionably his. Besides, it may have been a point of prudence in the writer of these epistles to conceal himself, under the appellation of the elder, from his enemies into whose hands these epistles might come.
Beausobre and L'Enfant, in their preface to the second and third epistles, take notice, that the writer of the third epistle speaks with an authority, which the bishop of a particular church could not pretend to, "and which did not suit John the presbyter, " even supposing him to have been bishop of the church of "Ephesus, as the pretended Apostolical Constitutions say he "was appointed by John the apostle. For if Diotrephes was bi"shop of one of the churches of Asia, as is reckoned, the bishop "of Ephesus had no right to say to him, as the writer of this "epistle doth, ver. 10. If I come, I will remember his deeds "which he does. That language, and the visits made to the "churches, denote a man who had a more general jurisdiction "than that of a bishop, and can only suit St. John the apostle." This threatening, therefore, is an internal proof that the third epistle belongs to John, who by his miraculous powers, as an apostle, was able to punish Diotrephes for his insolent carriage toward the members of his church, and toward the apostle himself,
Of the Person to whom John wrote his Second Epistle.
The inscription of this epistle is, Exdenty xugie; which hath been translated and interpreted differently, both by the ancients and the moderns. Some fancying Eclecta to be a proper name, have translated the inscription thus; To the Lady Eclecta. Accordingly, in the Adumbrations of Clemens Alexandr. this epistle is said to have been written to a Babylonian woman, or virgin, named Eclecta. Among the moderns, Wolf and Wetstein are of the same opinion as to the name of this woman..-But Heuman and Benson contend that her name was Kugia, Kyria, and translate the inscription thus, To the elect Kyria.-Oecumenius in his prologue saith, "He calls her Elect, either from her name, or
"on account of the excellence of her virtue." And, in his commentary on the beginning of the epistle, he saith, " John did not "scruple to write to a faithful woman, for as much as in Christ "Jesus there is neither male nor female."-On the other hand, Cassiodorius among the ancients, thought a particular church was meant by the apostle: And of the moderns, Whitby and Whiston were of the same opinion; for they say, this epistle was not written to a particular lady, but to a particular church: And Whiston mentions the church of Philadelphia; but Whitby that of Jerusalem, the mother of all the churches. Our English translation expresses the commonly received opinion concerning this matter; which Mill also, and Wall, and Wolf, with Le Clerc and Lardner have adopted.-Beza too was of the same opinion, for in his note on the inscription he thus writes: "Some think "Eclecta a proper name, which I do not approve, because in that "case the order of the words would have been Kugia Exλenty, To "the Lady Eclecta, Others think this name denotes the Chris"tian church in general. But that is disproved, first, by its "being a manner of speaking altogether unusual; secondly, by "the apostle's expressly promising in the last two verses, to "come to her and her children; thirdly, by sending to her the "salutation of her sister, whom also he calls Eclecta. I there"fore think this epistle was inscribed to a woman of eminence, ❝of whom there were some here and there, who supported the "church with their wealth, and that he called her elect, that is ex❝cellent, and gave her the title of xvgia Lady, just as Luke gave "to Theophilus, and Paul gave to Festus, the title of nga71505 "most excellent. For the Christian religion doth not forbid such "honourable titles to be given, when they are due."
It is supposed, that the writer of this letter did not mention the name of the lady to whom it was sent, lest the enemies of the gospel into whose hands it came, finding her pointed out as a person of eminence among the Christians, might have given her trouble. But the same reason should have hindered the writer of the third epistle, from mentioning the name of Caius in its inscription. Benson therefore thinks Kyria the name of the woman to whom the second of these epistles was written: and in support of his opinion observes, that the authors of the second Syriac, and of the Arabic versions of this epistle, understood Kyria to be her name for they have inserted the word Kyria in their versions, without translating it.
It is not known where this lady lived. But from the apostle's proposing to visit her soon, it is conjectured that she lived not far from Ephesus, where the apostle abode when he wrote to her.
Of John's Design in writing his Second Epistle.
The Continuator of Estius's commentary saith, that any onc who compares ver. 7. of this epistle with what is written in the first letter, and with what Tertullian hath said De Prescript. c. 46. and Epiphanius Heres. 24. will be sensible, that this short epistle was written to confute the error of Basilides and his followers, who affirmed that Christ was not a real man, but only a man in appearance; consequently, that he neither did nor suffered what he appeared to do and suffer.
In the preface to the first epistle, Sect. 3. it was observed that in the latter end of the first age, many false teachers, the disciples of Basilides, were going about disseminating his doctrine concerning the person of Christ. Wherefore, as that doctrine overturned the whole scheme of the gospel, and in particular annihilated the atonement which Christ is said, in the gospel, to have made for the sin of the world by his death, robbed Christians of their best hopes, and turned the whole of their faith into a dream or illusion, John did not content himself with condemning that pernicious doctrine in his first epistle, but judged it necessary, in a more particular manner, to put this lady and her children on their guard against the deceivers who taught it. He therefore said to them, ver. 7. If any teacher come to you, who doth not hold the true doctrine concerning the person of Christ, do not receive him into your house, neither wish him health and prosperity, lest by seeming to encourage him in his errors, ye become partakers in his evil deeds.
Some readers, not attending to the circumstances in which this lady was, may perhaps from the apostle's advice to her, conclude that he was of an evil disposition himself, and encouraged in his disciples an intolerant spirit, toward those who differed from them in opinion concerning matters of religion. But those who thus reason ought to consider, that the person to whom the apostle gave this advice was a woman, whose benevolent disposition laid her open to be imposed on by cunning deceivers. They ought also to call to mind the black picture, which the apostle Paul in his second to Timothy chap. iii. 6, 7. and in his epistle
to Titus, chap. i. 10. 12. hath given of the ancient heretical teachers; together with what the Fathers have written concerning their base arts, their impiety, their monstrous tenets, their hypocrisy, their covetousness, and their debauchery. For, if they attend to these things, they will be sensible that the apostle's directions to this lady and her children, were by no means too severe especially as these heretical teachers pretended to be inspired: nay to possess an higher degree of inspiration, than even the apostles themselves were endowed with.-Besides, John's directions to this lady and her children, are not inconsistent with the precepts of the other apostles, who have commanded us meekly to bear with those who err, and in the spirit of meekness to reclaim them. For the persons they had in view in these precepts, were not false teachers who disseminated their corrupt doctrines, and who erred from corruption of heart, but persons who erred through weakness of understanding, and ignorance. This is plain from Paul's ordering Titus to rebuke the false teachers in Crete with a cutting sharpness: And from his commanding Timothy to shun the company of obstinate heretics. And as John's advice to this lady is not inconsistent with the precepts of his brethren, so neither do they contradict his own precepts, earnestly and repeatedly delivered in his first epistle, to love and to do good to the worst of men. They are only advices to this lady and her children, not to expose themselves to the danger of being seduced by false teachers, and not to aid them in spreading their errors.-His advice, therefore, ought to be attended to by those, who, either from piety, or benevolence, are disposed to shew hospitality to teachers, of whose character and tenets they are ignorant; because such, notwithstanding their shew of godliness, and their plausible discourse, may be deceivers: in which case, the persons who entertain them in their houses, or who give them money, certainly become partakers of their evil deeds, as the apostle in this epistle hath expressly declared.
View and Illustration of the Matters contained in John's Second Epistle.
T HE apostle, after addressing this letter to a woman of distinction and her children, and expressing great affection to them on account of their adhering to the truth of the gospel, ver. 1. -declared that he was moved thus to love them, by the gospel itself, ver. 2.—And as a testimony of his love, he gave them his apostolical benediction, ver. 3.-Then told this lady, that he felt the greatest joy when he found some of her children, with whom he had conversed, perhaps at Ephesus, walking in the truth; that is holding the true doctrine of the gospel, and behaving suitably to that doctrine, ver. 4.-From this he took occasion to exhort them, to love all the sincere disciples of Christ, and to do them good offices, according to the commandment which Christ gave to his apostles at the beginning, ver. 5.-and to express their love to Christ by obeying all his commandments; particularly the commandment they had heard from the beginning, that they should love one another sincerely with a pure spiritual love, ver. 6.-Next he told this excellent lady, that his joy, on account of her children's walking in the true doctrine of the gospel concerning the person of Christ, was the greater, as many false teachers were going about, who denied that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh. Each of these, he told her, was the deceiver and the antichrist foretold by our Lord to come. This account of the false teachers the apostle gave, lest the lady and her children, deceived by their plausible speeches, and their shew of extraordinary piety, might have been disposed to shew
OLD TRANSLATION. VER. 1 The elder unto
the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the
truth and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;
. Ὁ πρεσβύτερος εκλεκτη κυρια, και τοις τεκνοις αυτης, &ς εγω αγαπώ εν αληθεια" και ουκ εγω μονος, αλλα και παντες οἱ εγνωκότες την αληoi θειαν
Ver. 1.-1. The elder. For the import of this title, see Pref. Sect. 1. penult paragr.
2. To the elect lady. The apostle gave to this lady the appellation of elect or excellent, (See Ess. iv. 41.) not only on account of her virtues,