Page images
PDF
EPUB

forth, Bede however informs us, that anciently two interpretations were given of these words. The first was, For his name's sake they went forth to preach the gospel. The second, For the faith and profesion of the holy name of Chrif, they were expelled from their native country. Heuman adopts the latter interpretation, and often calls these strangers, exiles; and faith they were Gentiles. But, as the brethren are distinguished from the fran. gers, and as it is said that they bare witness to Caius's love before the church, it is reasonable to think these brethren were mem. bers of the church over which St. John presided.--And with respect to the strangers, without determining in this place, whether they were exiles from their own country or not, I suppose, that having come to the place where the brethren, of whom the apoflle speaks, dwelled, they joined them in their journey, which I think was undertaken for the fake of preaching Christ to the Gentiles. If I am right in this conjecture, the strangers as well as the brethren, were preachers, as above observed. For, if they were only persons in want, it was no commendation of them that they went forth taking nothing of the Gentiles : because standing in need of alms, it was their duty, not only to receive, but even to ask alms for the support of their life, from the unbeliev, ing Gentiles; especially as, in many places, there may have been no Christians, to whom they could apply for relief, Whereas if they were preachers, they were greatly to be praised, when, in imitation of the apostle Paul, they supported themfelves by their own labour, and took nothing from their Gentile converts on the score of maintenance, left it might have marred the success of their preaching. In short, if these brethren and strangers had not been preachers, the apostle could not with propriety have said, ver. 8. We therefore ought to receive fuch, that we may be joint labourers in the truth. For the terms lan bourers, and joint-labourers, are always, in the apostolical writings, applied to preachers of the gospel, or to those who in some way or other assisted the preachers of the gospel. These things Lardner did not attend to, when he said, “I see nothing " that should lead us to think preachers are spoken of, but only " persons in want,"

Commentators

Commentators are no less divided concerning the character and office of Diotrephes. - Erasmus in his paraphrase faith, Diotrephes was the author of a new sect. This likewise was Bede's opinion. But, as other learned men have well argued, , if Diotrephes had been a corrupter of the Christian doctrine, the apostle, without doubt, would have cautioned Caius, and all the members of his church, to have avoided him, as he defired the elect lady to avoid the false teachers, of whom he wrote in his letter to her. But this, as Lamy observeth, he did not do. He only reproved the pride of Diotrephes, his contempt of the apostle's authority, but especially his ordering the members of his church, not to fhew kindness to the brethren and the stran, gers who applied to them for relief.

It is the opinion of many, that Diotrephes was a bishop in the church where he refided, and of which Caius was a member. In support of their opinion they observe, First, that he is said to have hindered those, from receiving the brethren and the strangers, who were willing to shew them kindness; and to have cast them out of the church, who, contrary to his orders, continued to entertain them.- Next, they take notice that the apostle faid to Caius, ver. 9, I would have written to the church, but Diotrephes, who loveth to rule them, doth not receive us. The apoflles wrote most of their letters to the churches, that is, to the whole body of Christians living in a particular place, and sent them to the bishops and elders of these churches, to be by them read in the public assemblies, for the instruction of their people. But, as Diotrephes did not acknowledge John's authority, he had reason to fear that, if he had written to the church, and had sent his letter to Diotrephes to be read by him publicly to the brethren, he would have fuppreffed it by virtue of his epifcopal authority. Or, if it had been read to the church without his confent, he would have rendered it ineffectual by means of his adherents.

Heuman thought that Diotrephes was a deacon; and that having the charge of the church's stock, he had it in his power to refuse relief to the brethren and the strangers who applied to him; and that by so doing he cast them out of the church, that is, obliged them to depart. But Lardner, who supposeth Diotrephes to have been a bishop, argueth, that as he loved to rule every thing in his church according to his own pleasure, his office as bishop, enabled him to restrain the deacons from employing any part of the church's ftock, in relieving the brethren and the strangers.

that

Demetrius, who is so highly praised by the apostle in this letter, is thought to have held some sacred office in the church of which Caius was a member. But Benson rejects this opinion, because, on that supposition, Caius must have known him so well, as to need no information concerning his character from the apostle. Benson therefore believed him to be the bearer of this letter, and one of the brethren who went out to preach to the Gentiles.-But whoever Demetrius was, his character and behaviour were the reverse of the character and behaviour of Diotrephes. For the apostle speaks of him as one who was esteemed of all men, and whose behaviour in every respect was conformable to the gospel ; in short, one to whom the apostle himself bare the most honourable testimony. This high cha. rader of Demetrius, John wrote to Caius, that he and all the members of the church, might imitate him rather than Dio. trephes, whose arrogance, uncharitableness, and contempt of the apostle's authority, were so great, that he threatened to punish him for these enormities when he visited Caius; which he

promised to do soon, that he inight have an opportunity of speaking with Caius face to face concerning that imperious man.

Sect. IV. Of the Date of the Second and Third Epiftles of

John.

Of the time of writing the second and third epistles of John, nothing, as Lardner observes, can be said with certainty. But he tells us, “ Mill places them about the same time with the $6 first ; that is, in the year 9ı or 92. Whiston supposeth that " they were all three written about the year 82 or 83. I fr imagine, that St. John was somewhat advanced in age, and " that he had refided a good while in Asia, before he wrote any " of these epistles; consequently I am disposed to think that t these two were not writ sooner than the first. And, as it 1 was before argued that the first epistle was written about the

pear 80, these two may be reckoned to have been writ be. "tween the years 80 and 90." Thus far Lardner, Can, vol. iii. p. 313 In the preface to the first epiftle, I have attempted to

shew froin the epistle itself, that it was written about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. But there is nothing in the fecond and third epiftles leading us to think they were written fo early. may

therefore fix their date as late as Lardner hath done; or even later, when John was, so old as with much propriety to take the title of the elder, or aged apostle, by way of emia hence,

We

View and Illustration of the Matters contained in this Epifile.

O encourage Caius to persevere in that virtuous course, by

, John, in the inscription of this letter, declared his own love to him, on account of the uncommon goodness of his character and actions, ver. 1.--and prayed to God to prosper him in his spiritual concerns, ver. 2.-- and told him what joy it gave him, when the brethren who had been affifted by him, brought him the welcome news of his perseverance in the true do&rine of the gospel, ver. 3.- because the apostle's greatest joy was to hear that his disciples walked in the truth, ver. 4.- Next, he praised Caius as acting agreeably to the gospel, when he shewed kindness to the brethren and to the strangers, who had applied to him for succour in their straits, ver. 5.- And to encourage him to persevere in these charitable christian offices, he told Caius, that the brethren and strangers, when they returned, bare an honourable testimony to his love, publicly before the church over which John presided. And, as they were, at the time this letter was written, making a second journey among the Gentiles, he told him, if he helped them forward a second time, in a manner worthy of God whom they served, by succouring them, he would stilldo a good work acceptable to God, ver. g. - Because these brethren and strangers, for the sake of publishing the name of Christ and the doctrine of the gospel among the Gentiles, were gone forth, as formerly, with a resolution of taking nothing on the score of maintenance from the Gentiles, notwithstanding they greatly benefited the Gentiles by preaching the gospel to them, ver. 7.-For which cause, all who had the furtherance of the gospel at heart, he told him, were bound to fhew such persons kindness, that they might be joint-labourers with them in spreading and establishing the truth, ver. 3.

Next he told Caius, that he would have written the same exhortation to the church of which he was a member ; but he had abstained from writing, because Diotrephes, who ruled every thing in that church according to his own humour, did not acknowledge his apoftolical authority; thereby insinuating, that Demetrius probably would have suppressed any letter which the apostle might write, ver. 9.--He added, that because Diotrephes did not acknowledge his authority, he would, when he came among them, put him in mind of his deeds; his prating against the apostle with malicious words, his not receiving the brethren and the strangers who had applied to him in their straits for relief, his hindering the members of his church from allifting

3

them,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »