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Sect. I. Of the Authenticity of John's Three Epistles.
THE *HE internal evidence of the authenticity of the three
epistles commonly ascribed to John, having been explained in the preface to the first epistle, sect. 2. this section Thall be employed in setting before the reader what is called the external evidence, arising from the testimony of contemporary, and of succeeding authors, who speak of these epiftles as write ten by John the apostle.
Lardner on the Canon, vol. iii. p. 262. hath shewed, That the first epistle of John is referred to by Palycarp, and by the martyrs of Lyons ;-That his first and second epistles are quoted by Irenæus, and were received by Clemens of Alexandria ;—That Origen faith, “ John, beside the Gospel and Rea " velation, hath left us an epistle of a few lines : Grant also a VOL. VI.
« second and third : For all do not allow these to be genuine;"
- That Dionysius of Alexandria received John's first epistle, which he calls his Catholic epiftle; and likewise mentions the other two as ascribed to him. That the first epistle was received by Cyprian.-And that the fecond is cited by Alexander bishop of Alexandria.
Eufebius's testimony to the first epistle of John hath been already mentioned in his own words, pref. to James, sect. 2. paragr. 2. In bearing that testimony, Eufebius infinuateth that some ascribed the second and third epistles to another person of the name of John, called the Elder, of whom he speaks, lib. iii. C. 39.-- Jerome likewise hath mentioned this John in his catalogue.--And Grotius, on a circumstance mentioned by Bede, in a passage to be produced immediately, hath ascribed the second and third epiftles to him, in opposition to the testimony of the earliest and best Christian writers.
All the three epistles were received by Athanafius, by Cyril of Jerusalem, by the council of Laodicea, by Epiphanius, and by Jerome. But the second and third were doubted by some in Jerome's time.--All the three were received by Ruflin, by the third council of Carthage, by Augustine, and by all those authors who received the fame Canon of the New Testament which we do.-All the three are in the Alexandrian MS. and in the catalogue of Gregory Nazianzen, and of Amphilochius, who obferves that some received only one of them.
-The Syrian churches received only the first. See Pref. to James, sect. 2. paragr. 3. Nor did Chryfoftom receive any other.
Bede, in the beginning of the eighth century, wrote thus in his exposition of the fecond epistle: “Some have thought this « and the following epistle not to have been written by John - the apostle, but by another, a presbyter of the same name,
whose fepulchre is still feen at Ephesus : whom also Papias « mentions in his writings. But now it is the general consent « of the church, that John the apostle wrote also these two “ epistles, forasmuch as there is a great agreement of the « doctrine and style between these and his first epiftle. And « there is also a like zeal against heretics."
Mill, in his Prolegomena, No. 153. observes, that the second and third epistles of John, resemble the first in sentiment, phraseology, and manner of expressing things.--The resemblance in the sentiments and phraseology may be seen by comparing 2 Epistle ver. 5. with 1 Epistle ii. 8.--and ver. 6. with 1 Epist. V. 3.and ver. 7. with 1 Epist. v. 5.—and 3 Epift. ver. 12. with John xix. 35.-Of John's peculiar manner of expressing things, 2 Epist. ver. 7.--and 3 Epift. ver. 11. are examples.Mill farther observes, that of the 2d Epistle which consists only of 13 verses, 8 may be found in the first, either in sense, or in expression. See Whitby's pref, to 2 John.
The title of elder, which the writer of the second and third epistles hath taken, is no reason for thinking that they were not written by John the apostle. For, elder, denotes that the person so called was of long standing in the Christian faith, and had persevered through a long course of years in that faith, notwithstanding the many persecutions to which all who professed the gospel were exposed in the firft age. It was therefore an appellation of great dignity, and entitled the person to whom it belonged, to the highest respect from all the disciples of Christ. For which reason it was affumed by the apostle Peter. 1 Pet. v. 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 proper name ; so that elder, was the same as if he had said, the aged opoftle.—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.
Beaufobre 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 fuppoqng him to have been bishop of the “ church of Ephesus, as the pretended Apostolical Conftitua.
“ tions say he was appointed by John the apostle. For if “ Diotrephes was bishop of one of the churches of Aga, as is “ reckoned, the bishop of Ephesus had no right to say to him, “ as the writer of this epiftle 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.
Sect. II. Of the Person to whom John wrote his Second Epifile.
The inscription of this epistle is, ExaExtxsgię; which hath been translated and interpreted differently, both by the ancients and the moderns. Some fancying EcleEta to be a proper name, have trandated the inscription thus; To the Lady Ecleta. 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 Kupix, Kyria, and translate the inscription thus, To the elect Kyria.-Oecumenius in his prologue faith, “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 faith, “ 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 wriiten 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 9