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OF THE THIRD
EPISTLE OF THE APOSTLE JOHN.
Of the Authenticity of the Third Epistle of John,
For the proofs of the authenticity of this epistle, see Pref. 2 John Sect. 1. To which may be added, that in the third epistle, we find some sentiments and expressions which are used in the second. Compare ver. 4. with 2 epistle, ver. 4. and ver. 13, 14. with 2 epistle, ver. 12.
Of the Person to whom this Epistle was written.
This short letter is inscribed to a person named Gaius; or according to the Latin orthography, Caius; a common name, especially among the Romans. In the history of the Acts, and in the epistles, we meet with five persons of this name.-1. There is a Caius who was with St. Paul in Ephesus, during the riot of Demetrius, and who is called A man of Macedonia, and Paul's companion in travel, Acts xix. 29.-2. A Caius is mentioned, Acts xx. 4. called Caius of Derbe, which was a city of Lycaonia or Isauria. Probably he was a person different from the Macedonian Caius, though like him he was Paul's assistant in preaching the gospel. Caius of Derbe accompanied Paul to Jerusalem with the collection for the saints. Probably, therefore, he was chosen by the churches of Lycaonia, their messenger for that effect.-3. Paul, writing from Corinth to the church Rome, speaks of a Caius with whom he lodged, Rom. xvi. 23. who was a very benevolent person, and in opulent circumstances. For the apostle called him his host, and the
host of the whole church of Corinth.
Wherefore as the Caius, to whom John wrote his 3d epistle, was in like manner a very benevolent person, and in good circumstances, Bede, and after him Lightfoot, conjectured that he was the Caius, who in Paul's epistle to the Romans sent his salutation to the church at Rome. -4. The same apostle mentions his having baptized one of the name of Caius at Corinth, 1 Cor. i. 14. Probably he was the person whom in his epistle to the Romans, which was written from Corinth, Paul calls his host, and the host of the church.--5. There was a Caius to whom John wrote this third epistle. Him Estius and Heuman thought a different person from all those above mentioned, because the apostle by numbering him among his children, ver. 4. hath insinuated that he was his convert, which they suppose he could not say of any of the Caius's mentioned above.
In the ancient history of the church, we meet with three persons of the name of Caius. One of them a bishop of Ephesus, another of Thessalonica, and a third of Pergamos; all about this time. Whiston and Mill have said, that the bishop of Pergamos was the Caius to whom John wrote his third epistle. But as Lardner observes, they said this on the testimony of the pretended apostolical constitutions, which in the present affair are of no authority at all. Besides, from the epistle itself it is evident, that Caius, to whom it was written, was at that time a person in a private station.
Lardner's account of Caius is, that "he was an eminent "Christian, who lived in some city of Asia not far from Ephe"sus, where St. John chiefly resided after his leaving Judea. "For ver. 14. The apostle speaks of shortly coming to him: "which he could not well have done if Caius lived at Corinth, "or any other remote place." Canon, vol. iii. p. 293.
Caius being neither a bishop nor a deacon, but a private member of some church, of which the apostle took the inspection, his hospitality to the brethren, and to the strangers who came to him, is a proof that he possessed some substance, and that he was of a very benevolent disposition.-Grotius thought Caius a good Christian, who lived in one of the churches or cities mentioned in the Revelation. However, as John hath not suggested any circumstance, by which we can distinguish his Caius from others of the same name, it is impossible to say with any certainty who he was, or where he lived.
Of the Apostle's Design in writing his Third Epistle, and of the Persons who are mentioned in it by Name.
It doth not seem to have been John's design in writing to Caius, either to guard him against the attempts of the heretical teachers who were gone abroad, or to condemn the errors which they were at great pains to propagate: But only, in the first place, to praise Caius for having shewed kindness to some brethren and strangers, who, in journeying among the Gentiles, had come to the place where Caius resided; and to encourage him to shew them the like kindness, when they should come to him again in the course of their second journey.-In the next place, he wrote this letter for the purpose of rebuking and restraining one Diotrephes, who had arrogantly assumed to himself the chief direction of the affairs of the church, of which Caius was a member: and, who had refused to assist the brethren and strangers above mentioned; and even had hindered those, from receiving and entertaining them, who were desirous to do it. In the third place, the apostle wrote this letter to commend an excellent person named Demetrius, who, in disposition and behaviour, being the reverse of Diotrephes, the apostle proposed him as a pattern, whom Caius and the rest were to imitate.
Commentators are not agreed in their accounts of the brethren and the strangers, to whom Caius shewed kindness, as they pas. sed through his city.-Grotius aud Lampe thought these stran. gers were believing Jews, who had been driven out of Palestine by their unbelieving brethren, or, who had been forced away by the calamities brought on that country during the Jewish war; and had come into Asia, in hopes of obtaining assistance from the Christians in that province; or perhaps of obtaining a settlement among them.-Grotius supposes Diotrephes would not receive these strangers, nor even the brethren, that is, the Christians who were of his acqaintance, because they joined the rites of the law with the gospel. This, likewise, was the opinion of Le Clerc and Beausobre. Wherefore, according to these authors, Diotrephes was a Gentile convert, and zealous for the freedom of the Gentiles from the yoke of the law. But Mosheim rejects their opinion, as having no foundation in antiquity. Others think these strangers were Gentile converts, whom Diotrephes, a Jew zealous of the law, would not receive, because they did not observe the rites of Moses. That
opinion Benson adopted, founding it on this circumstance, that Diotrephes did not receive John; that is, did not acknowledge his authority as an apostle. For he thinks, none but the Judaizing teachers denied the authority of the apostles.
The brethren, who were hospitably entertained by Caius, were some believers who had gone from Ephesus to the church where Caius abode. For they are said to have praised his liberality, in the presence of the church over which John presided. Probably they belonged to that church as members.-Further, since the apostle desired Caius to help these brethren and strangers for. ward on their journey, it implieth that they had gone forth, or were going forth, on a second journey among the Gentiles, in which they proposed to visit Caius again.-Estius conjectures, that John sent this letter to Caius by them.
The account given ver. 7. of the purpose for which the brethren and strangers went forth to the Gentiles, inclines me to think they were preachers: For his name's sake they went 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 profession of the holy name of Christ, they were expeled from their native country. Heuman adopts the latter interpretation, and often calls these strangers, exiles; and saith they were Gentiles. But, as the brethren are distinguished from the strangers, and as it is said that they bare witness to Caius's love before the church, it is reasonable to think these brethren were members 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 apostle speaks, dwelled, they joined them in their journey, which I think was undertaken for the sake 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 thein
selves by their own labour, and took nothing from their Gentile converts on the score of maintenance, lest 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 such, that we may be joint labourers in the truth. For the terms labourers, 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 are no less divided con oncerning the character and office of Diotrephes.-Erasmus in his paraphrase saith, 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 desired 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 shew kindness to the brethren and the strangers who applied to them for relief.
It is the opinion of many, that Diotrephes was a bishop in the church where he resided, 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 said to Caius, ver. 9. I would have written to the church ; but Diotrephes, who loveth to rule them, doth not receive us. The apostles 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 suppressed it by virtue of his epis