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to establish their authenticity univerfally, by his own acknowledgment. Besides, being written to private individuals, we may suppose they remained some time concealed in their poffeffion, and did not come abroad fo as to occafion much enquiry concerning them, whilft the apoftle was alive.-This, I suppose, was the reason that the fecond and third epiftles of John, were doubted of by many in the early ages; whilft the first was received univerfally as his, immediately on its publication.

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SECT. V. Of the Perfos for whofe Ufe the First Epistle of John

was written.

Lardner, Can. vol. 3. p. 273. faith of this epiftle, "As the "writer does not at the beginning prefix his name, nor any "where else mention it in the epiftle; fo neither does he "describe, or characterize the perfons to whom he writes, by "the name of their city, or country, or any fuch thing."

Auguftine, Caffiodorius, and Bede, inform us, that the first epiftle of John was anciently called, the epifle to the Parthians : as if it had been written to the Jewish believers in the country of Parthia; which Eftius faith lay between the Tigris and the Indies. For in that country, as Jofephus informs us Antiq. lib. xxiii. c. 12. there were many Jews, of whom, it is probable, fome were converted to Christianity. For Luke, fpeaking of the Jews, who came to Jerusalem to worship at the feast of Pentecost, which immediately followed our Lord's afcenfion, and who heard the apostles preach after the Holy Ghost had fallen on them, mentions first of all, Parthians.

Eftius, following the tradition preserved by Auguftine, was of opinion, that as Peter wrote his epiftle to the strangers of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Afia, and Bithynia, fo John wrote his first epistle to the ftrangers of the dispersion in Parthia, and the neighbouring countries; and to persons of all ages in these countries, as he himself testifies, chap. ii. 13. 14. 18. because he had a concern for the falvation of all.

Whifton, in his commentary on John's epiftles, faith, "None "of these three epiftles of St. John were written to the Par

"thians,

"thians, as fome later Latin writers have fuppofed: but rather "to the Chriftians or churches of Afia near Ephefus." This opinion he supports, "by the perfect filence of all true anti"quity, as to St. John's ever preaching in Parthia; and from "the account which we have in Eufebius from Origen, that "Parthia was St. Thomas's province, and Afia St. John's: As "alfo from the account in the Recognitions ix. 29. That "Thomas really preached the gospel in Parthia, without a fyl"lable of St. John, thereto relating. All which," fays he, "makes it plain, that this pretended direction of any of St. "John's epiftles to the Parthians, stands on no good authority "at all. And it is not improbable, that the occafion of this "error, was barely a false reading in fome ancient manuscripts, "where πgos аges, to the Parthians, was read for magdeves, "to the virgins: which latter inscription might easily be applied "to the first epiftle. For as it is chiefly addreffed to young "Christians, yet uncorrupted both as to fleshly and to spiritual "fornication, fuch as in St. John's revelations are called

TagIevos, virgins: fo was the fecond epiftle, anciently affirmed "by fome to be written to the virgins: as we learn from Cle"ment of Alexandria in Caffiodorius," that is, as Lardner obferves, from Clement's Adumbrations on the Catholic epiftles, tranflated by order of Caffiodorius. But as L'Enfant hath remarked, there is nothing in the fecond epiftle which fuits virgins, more than other Chriftians.

Oecumenius, in his comment upon the laft verfe of this epiftle, fays it was written to the whole church in general. And in the proem to his commentary upon the fecond epiftle, he calls the first a catholic epiftle; and fays, "That epiftle is not writ❝ten to a certain perfon, nor to the churches of one or more "places, as the bleffed Peter's to the Jews in their dispersion; "nor as James, before him, to the twelve tribes of the Jewish "people. But he writes to all the faithful in general, whether "affembled together, or not; for which reafon there is no in"fcription to that epiftle, as there is to the other two."—" To

me, therefore," faid Lardner, "it feems that this epiftle was "defigned for the churches of Afia, under St. John's infpection C 3

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"and for all other Chriftians into whose hands it should "come."-Lampe fays, "We easily admit that Jewish be"lievers are specially regarded in this epiftle. Nevertheless, "we think that St. John directed it to all believers of his time, "in general; forafmuch as there appears not in it, any expref"fion of limitation."-Neverthelefs, chap. ii. 2. He is the propitiation for our fins, and not for ours only, but even for those of the whole world, feems to intimate, that this epiftle was intended chiefly, though not exclufively, for the Jewish believers in Judea and the neighbouring countries. To this opinion Oecumenius likewise inclines; for in his note on chap. ii. 2, he thus writes, "This John said, either because he wrote to Jews, "and intended to fhew that the benefit of repentance was not "restrained to them, but extended to Gentiles alfo: or else, "that the promise was not made to the men of that time only, "but likewife to all in future times.”

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CHAP.

CHAP. I.

View and Illuftration of the Matters contained in this Chapter.

ITc

Tis remarkable, that the apoftle begins this epiftle, with a confutation of those corrupt teachers, whom he afterwards. calls antichrifts, but who were named by the ancient fathers Doceta, because, as was obferved, pref. fect. 3. they affirmed that Chrift had not come in the flesh, and that the things which were related concerning him by the evangelifts, were not really done and fuffered by him, but were tranfacted in appearance only. For he affures us, that the evangelifts and apostles teftified to the world, nothing concerning the life of the word in the flesh, but what they had heard with their ears, and feen with their eyes, and handled with their hands; founding their attestation on the evidence of their own fenfes, ver. 1.-So that the apoftles, who accompanied the word during his abode on earth, bare witness to his life in the flesh, as it was plainly manifested to their fenfes, ver. 2.-And, that they declared these inconteftable facts to the world, that all who received them, might have fellowship with the apoftles, through their believing the truth. This he told them, would be a great honour to them, because the apostle's fellowship was with the Father of the univerfe, and with his Son Jefus Chrift, ver. 3.-John mentioned the honourableness of being in the fellowship of the Father and of his Son Jefus, because the heathens boatted to the believing Jews and Gentiles, of the honour which they derived from their fellowship in the Eleufinian and other myfteries. But these were far inferior to the Chriftian fellowship in this refpect, that the heathen gods, the fuppofed heads of the heathen fellowfhips, were mere non-entities, 1 Cor. viii. 4. Or if Or if any of them were real beings, they had no power in the affairs of the world. Whereas the Father and his Son Jefus Chrift, the heads of the Christian fellowship, governed the whole affairs of the universe without controul. Thefe things concerning the heads of the Christian fellowship, the apoftie told them, he wrote that their joy in being members of fuch an honourable and powerfully protected fellowship, might be complete, ver. 4.-Further, that the believing Jews and Gentiles might know the advantages alfo which they enjoyed in the Chriftian fellowship, he told them, This is the meilage which we apoftles have received from Christ, and which we declare to you the initiated into our fellowship, That God is light, and in him is no darkness at all; He is goodness and truth, without any mixture of evil or error. C 4 Wherefore,

Wherefore, the difcoveries made in the gospel, to the initiated into the Chriftian fellowfhip, concerning the nature and perfections of God, were very different from, and far fuperior to the boafted difcoveries made to the initiated in the heathen myfteries, who were made to believe that their gods practifed every fort of vice, and that their votaries worshipped them acceptably by imitating them in their vices, ver. 5.-To fhew that the character and manners of the initiated into the fellowfhip of God, were of a very different nature from those of the initiated into the heathen fellowships, the apoftle declared, That if any one pretended to be a member of the fellowship of God, who lived in wickednefs, he lied, and was no member of the fellowship of God, who is infinitely holy, and admits none but the holy into his fellowship, ver. 6.-In the mean time, to encourage the difciples of Chrift, to imitate the head of their fellowship in his moral perfections, the apoftle affured them, That if they walked in holiness as God is holy, they would certainly have fellowship with God, and the blood of Jefus

OLD TRANSLATION. CHAP. I. 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which

we have feen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled,

of the Word of life.

GREEK TEXT.

I Ὁ ήν απ ̓

с

κηκόαμεν,

¿ aexns, αὁ ἑωράκαμεν τοις οφθαλμοις ἡμῶν, ὁ ἔθιασαμa, медов, на ai χειρες ήμων εψηλάφησαν περι τες λόγες της ζωής.

Ver. 1.1. That which was from the beginning. As the apoftle is here defcribing, not the word fimply, but the living word, the Son of God made flesh, he doth not fay, yag, in the beginning; as he doth, John i. 1. but an' agxns, from the beginning; a phrafe ufed in other paffages, to denote the beginning of the golpel. See John xv. 27. Acts xxvi. 4. 1 John ii. 7. 24. ii. 11. 2 epiftle, ver. 5, 6.That which was from the beginning, which the apoftles heard and faw, and contemplated and handled, was the life of the word in the flesh, together with his doing and fuffering all the things related of him in the gofpel; namely his baptifm, the defcent of the Holy Ghoft on him at his baptifm, his temptation of the devil in the wildernefs, his preaching, his miracles, his transfiguration, his agony in the garden, his trial and condemnation by the Jewish council, his death on the cross, his refurrection from the dead. Alfo the eye. witneffes converfing with him, and handling his body after his refurrection, his eating and drinking with them at different times, and

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