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21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
21 Dear children, keep yourselves from worshipping false gods and images. Now to shew my sincerity in this, and in all the things I have written to you, I conclude the whole with an Amen.
Nice, disputing against Arius, called this text of John, a written demonstration and added, That as Christ said of the Father, John xvii. 3. This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, so John said of the Son, This is the true God and eternal life : And that Arius then acquiesced in this written demonstration, and confessed the Son of God to be the true God. For these facts Glassius appeals to Athanasii. Oper. Tom. 3. p. 705.
Ver. 21.—1. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. For the meaning of the word Edwnav idols. See 1 Cor. viii. 4. note 2.-The apostle cautioned his disciples against going with the heathens into the temples of their idol gods, to eat of their feasts upon the sacrifices which they offered to these gods, and against being present at any act of worship which they paid to them, because, by being present at the worship of idols, they participated in that worship; as is plain from what St. Paul hath written on that subject. 1 Cor. viii. and x.-The exhortation to the brethren to keep themselves from idols, sheweth that this epistle was intended for the converted Gentiles every where, as well as for the Jews in Judea, to whom I suppose it was first
OF THE SECOND
EPISTLE OF THE APOSTLE JOHN.
Of the Authenticity of John's Three Epistles. THE 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 shall 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 epistles as written by John the apostle.
Lardner on the Canon, vol. iii. p. 262. hath shewed, That the first epistle of John is referred to by Polycarp, 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 saith, "John, beside the Gospel and Revelation, hath left 66 us an epistle of a few lines: Grant also a 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 epistle; and likewise mentions the other two as ascribed to him. That the first epistle was received by Cyprian.—And that the second is cited by Alexander bishop of Alexandria.
Eusebius'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, Eusebius insinuateth 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 epistles to him, in opposition to the testimony of the earliest and best Christian writers.
All the three epistles were received by Athanasius, 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 Ruffin, by the third council of Carthage, by Augustine, and by all those authors who received the same 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 observes that some received only one of them.-The Syrian churches received only the first. See Pref. to James, sect. 2. paragr. 3. Nor did Chrysostom receive any other.
Bede, in the beginning of the eighth century, wrote thus in his exposition of the second epistle: "Some have thought this "and the following epistle not to have been written by John the (6 apostle, but by another, a presbyter of the same name, whose "sepulchre is still seen at Ephesus: whom also Papias men“tions 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 epistle. 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. S.-and ver. 6. with 1 Epist. v. 3.-and ver. 7. with 1 Epist. v. 5.-and 3 Epist. ver. 12. with John xix. 35.-Of John's peculiar manner of expressing things, 2 Epist. ver. 7.—and 3 Epist. 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 first 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 assumed 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 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, Exλexty nugą; 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 Exλɛnty, 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 ngαt1505 “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.