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CHAPTER THE TWENTY-EIGHTH.
OF THE SECOND GENERAL EPISTLE
OF ST. JOHN.
I. Genuineness of this Epistle.-II. To whom it was
addressed. III. Design and Substance of it.
IV. Its Date. 1. This Epistle is quoted by Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Dionysius of Alexandria ; and therefore its antiquity is unquestionable, although it was formerly doubted whether it was written by John the Evangelist, or John the Presbyter of Ephesus ; but since the fourth century, it has been allowed to be the genuine work of St. John the Evangelist, and as such it is admitted into the
II. In the inscription of this Epistle, St. John, without mentioning his name, calls himself the Elder, which title he probably adopted as being a term of honourable distinction in the primitive
church. It is addressed, 'ExAEXT Kupoly concerne. ing the meaning of which words there has been a variety of opinions (a). Some, fancying that 'Exnext9 is a proper name, have translated them to the Lady Electa; others have taken Kupige to be a proper name, and have translated the words to the elect Kyria or Cyria; others have thought that the Christian church in general, or that some particular church was meant, as of Philadelphia or Jerusalem. Our translators have rendered the words, To the Elect Lady, which is the common acceptation of them, and from which I see no reason for departing; I therefore consider that this Epistle was written to some lady of eminence, styled elect on account of her distinguished piety. The place of her residence is not known.
III. This Epistle consists of only thirteen verses; and Dr. Lardner observes, that of these
eight may be found in the first Epistle, either in sense or expression.". The design of it was to caution the lady, to whom it was addressed, against those false teachers, who asserted that Christ was not a real man, but only
(a) Vide Wolfii Prolegom. in Ep. Joan. 2dam, and Benson's Preface to the 2d and 3d Epistles of St. John,
a man in appearance; and that he did not actually suffer what he seemed to suffer. This doctrine the Apostle condemns in very severe terms, as being destructive of the atonement of Christ; and he recommends, that no encouragement or countenance should be given to those who maintain it; he inculcates also the necessity of obedience to the coinmandments of God, and of mutual love and benevolence among Christians.
IV. From the similarity between the sentiments and expressions of this and the former Epistle, it is conjectured that they were written at nearly the same time; and therefore we place the date of this Epistle also in the year 69.
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-NINTH.
OF THE THIRD GENERAL EPISTLE
OF ST. JOHN.
I. Genuineness of this Epistle.-II. Its Inscription and · Date.—III. Design and Substance of it.-IV. Observations upon this and the foregoing Epistle.
GNATIUS is supposed to have referred to this Epistle, and it is mentioned by Origen, Eusebius, Cyril
, and most of the later fathers. The same doubts were formerly entertained concerning it, as concerning the preceding Epistle, and they were removed at the same time.
II. This Epistle, in which also the Apostle calls himself the Elder, is addressed to Caius; but it is not known who this Caius or Gaius was. Several persons of that name are men
tioned in the New Testament (a); and in the antient history of the church we meet with one Caius, who was Bishop of Ephesus; a second, who was Bishop of Thessalonica; and a third, who was Bishop of Pergamus; all of whom are said to have been contemporary with John. It is impossible to ascertain to which, or whether to any, of these several persons this Epistle was addressed; but the commendation of the hospitality of Caius seems to imply, that he was in a private station, and that he was possessed of some substance. It is supposed to have been written soon after the two former, that is, about the year 69.
III. The design of this short Epistle was to commend Caius for having shewn kindness to some Christians, as they passed through the place where he resided ; to censure Diotrephes, who had arrogantly assumed some authority. to himself; and to praise the good conduct of Demetrius. It is not known whe Diotrephes and Demetrius were.
IV. This, and the foregoing Epistle, are supposed to have been written from Ephesus; and it is probable that the persons to whom they
(a) Acts, c. 19. v. 29. C. 20. v.4. 1 Cor. c. 1. v. 14. Rom. c. 16. v. 23.