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His right hand a book with the words inscribed "Veni, Electa Mea, et ponam te in thronum Meum."
The word Kupía, Lady, here used with exλEKTη, elect, is descriptive of a Church. Jesus Christ, the Lord, is Kúpios; His Spouse, a Church, is Kupía'. This is declared by the very name Church (Κυριακή).
In the Old Testament the Churches of Israel and Judah are designated as sisters'.
Besides, it is not likely that St. John should have written to a private woman and to her children, and have sent a salutation from the children of a woman, and not have made any mention of the Husband of either of these two women. They may have been both Widows: but there is no evidence of this.
Still further, St. John does not say, "Thy elect sister and her children greet thee.” He would probably have written so, if he had been writing from the household of one woman to another woman. But he says, "The children of thine elect sister greet thee."
This circumstance also confirms the opinion, that the sister is a Church. Her children are the members of the Church. They are the Church. And if the Elect sister whose children's saluta
tions are sent, is a Church, the Elect Lady whose sister she is, is probably a Church also.
Besides, St. John describes the children of her to whom he writes as "loved by all persons, who have known the truth 3." This could hardly be applicable to the children of a private woman— particularly a widow: but it might be true of the spiritual children of a Church.
To personify a Church, is also in harmony with the manner and mind of St. John. In his Apocalypse, the Christian Church is represented as a Woman', and the Church triumphant is described as "the Bride, the Lamb's Wife"."
Accordingly, we find that in early times this Epistle was supposed by some Interpreters' to be addressed to a Church, or to the Church.
This exposition has also been adopted in recent times by many learned writers 3.
If this Epistle was addressed to a Church, it may be next inquired ;—
To what Church?
For a reply to this question, let us consider the brotherly relation of St. Peter to St. John'; and that it is a distinguishing characteristic of the Catholic Epistles, that they are interwoven 10 with one another, in thought and language; and that there was an intimate connexion and sympathy between the Jewish Christians of Asia, where St. John resided, and those of Babylonia, from which St. Peter wrote "; and that the Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, and dwellers in Mesopotamia, that is, the inhabitants of Babylonia and its neighbourhood, are mentioned the first among those who were evangelized by the Apostles on the day of Pentecost 12, and that almost immediately after them are mentioned the dwellers in Asia; and that the Parthians then occupied the second place among the nations of the world, and that they inhabited the region of Babylon and the adjacent countries. Let us also bear in mind, that St. Peter's First Epistle was written to the elect of St. John's own province, Asia, and that he sends in it the greetings of a co-elect Church 13.
When these circumstances are duly weighed, it will not appear improbable, that St. John's Epistle, which was written to an elect Lady, and that Lady a Church; and which conveys the salutations of the children of an elect Sister, and that sister a Church; was of the nature of an Apostolic reply from a sister Church of Asia,—such as that of Ephesus the capital of Asia and the residence of St. John,-to that other Church, from which his brother Apostle, St. Peter, had written to the Churches of Asia,—namely, the Church at Babylon.
Such a sisterly communication, from one Church to another, would come with peculiar grace from a Church of St. John to a Church of St. Peter. tenderest and most endearing ties of love, as brother
St. John and St. Peter had been united by the Apostles in Christ. They had been together Cramer's Catena, p. 146, and Cassiodorus in the sixth century (Complexiones, p. 136) says here, "Joannes electæ Domina scribit Ecclesiæ filiisque ejus." And at the end of this Epistle the elect sister (in v. 13) is described by some MSS. as the Church at Ephesus. See Tischendorf, p. 233.
& Hammond, Whitby, Michaelis, Augusti, Hofmann, H. W. Thiersch, and Huther.
with Christ in His Transfiguration and Agony; they were together at His sepulchre; they were together at the Sea of Galilee after His Resurrection; they were together at the day of Pentecost, and in the Temple after His Resurrection'; they were together in Prison at Jerusalem; they went together from Jerusalem to Samaria to lay hands on those who had been baptized.
Some confirmation is afforded to this opinion by the following facts.
This second Epistle, as well as the first Epistle of St. John, is described by some ancient authorities as addressed to the Parthians.
It seems probable, therefore, that this Epistle was addressed to the Church at Babylon.
There would be a peculiar interest and beauty in such an address as this from St. John to a Church at Babylon.
The City of Babylon had said, in the day of her heathen pride, "I shall be a Lady for ever"," and she had been called the Lady of Kingdoms. Babylon had fallen from her high estate; but St. Peter had preached on the Day of Pentecost to the Parthians, the inhabitants of Babylonia, and they had been baptized into Christ. Thus there was an elect Church at Babylon; a Sion even at Babylon. And there would be a happy coincidence in the circumstance, that the great Assyrian Babylon, that persecuting city which had boasted that she should be "a Lady for ever," and was rejected, and then fell, should have risen again in Christ, and have been espoused to Him as a Church, and become an Elect Lady in Him, and be addressed as such by the Apostolic brother of St. Peter, the beloved disciple, St. John.
If the above opinion is well grounded, we may recognize here a special use of this Epistle. It is indeed a very short one, but it serves an important purpose.
St. Peter, in his two Epistles addressed to the Christians of Asia, had inculcated those Articles of the Christian Faith which St. John laboured to defend; and St. Peter had delivered a prophetic warning against those Heresiarchs, who in the age and country of St. John, were endeavouring to destroy the foundations of the Faith in the Incarnation of the Son of God, and in the Godhead of Jesus Christ and who, as St. Peter had predicted, were denying the Lord that bought them, and were walking after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness 10.
In the present Epistle St. John delivers a clear statement of the truth on those great articles of Christian Faith and Morals; and pronounces a stern condemnation of those heretical and antinomian Teachers who assaulted them, and whom he calls Antichrist".
This profession and protest would be more easily transcribed, and be more readily circulated, on account of the brevity of this Epistle, in which they are contained. It may seem surprising at first, that so short an Epistle should be received into the Canon of the New Testament. But, under the circumstances of the case, one of its strongest recommendations was, that it was short. symbol of Faith, and safeguard against Error,-from the hands of St. John.
The Christians of Asia, and of the East, would be confirmed in their Faith and Practice by receiving the Apostolic witness of St. John to the same truths as those which they had heard from St. Peter. And the Church of every age may derive comfort from seeing the two Apostles, St. Peter and St. John, associated for ever in their writings, as they had been associated in their lives, in preaching the Truth, as it is in Jesus Christ, and faithfully feeding His flock, and guarding it valiantly against the wolves, who endeavour to destroy it 2.
The facts and considerations now submitted to the reader have some bearing on the question which was briefly mentioned at the close of the Introduction to the First Epistle of St. John. That Epistle also, as we have seen ", is described by some Ancient Writers and Manuscripts as having been addressed "to the Parthians."
1 See on Acts iii. 1.
2 See Acts viii. 14.
3 See Athanasius in Bede, Prolog. ad Ep. Catholic. p. 157. Augustine, whose Commentary on the First Epistle is entitled Tractatus in Epistolam Joannis ad Parthos, see vol. iii. p. 2480, and Cassiodorus, Complexiones, p. 126. Scholz, p. 155. Tisch. p. 213.
Cp. Tisch. p. 233. In the Latin Translation of S. Clement's Adumbrationes (p. 1011) we read "Secunda Joannis Epistola, quæ ad Virgines inscripta est, simplicissima est." Here the word Virgines is a translation of Пap@évous, which was probably only a corruption of Пápovs, the Parthians, who had the rule of Babylonia in the age of St. Peter and St. John (see Kirchofer,
There is nothing improbable in this statement. In the Apostolic age, as has been already observed, the Parthians were second only to the Romans among the nations of the world. Many Jews dwelt in Parthia. The Parthians are placed first in the catalogue of the Jews who heard St. Peter preach at Jerusalem'. Babylon was in Parthia. St. Peter, it is probable, had gone thither in person, and had thence written an Epistle to the Churches of St. John'.
Bearing in mind these circumstances, and considering the testimony of some ancient writers and Manuscripts specifying the Parthians in the inscription of the Epistle, and that there is no evidence to the contrary, and that no other name is mentioned by any ancient writer in that inscription, we cannot reject that testimony as altogether incredible; and we may at least be permitted to suppose it probable, that the First Epistle of St. John, written in all likelihood from Asia, was addressed to the same country as that in which his brother Apostle, St. Peter, was, when he wrote his first Epistle, which he sent to the Churches of Asia.
· Ὁ ΠΡΕΣΒΥΤΕΡΟΣ ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ καὶ τοῖς τέκνοις αὐτῆς, οὓς ἐγὼ ἀγαπῶ ἐν ἀληθείᾳ, καὶ οὐκ ἐγὼ μόνος, ἀλλὰ καὶ πάντες οἱ ἐγνωκότες τὴν ἀλήθειαν, · διὰ τὴν ἀλήθειαν τὴν μένουσαν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ μεθ ̓ ἡμῶν ἔσται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα· * ἔσται μεθ' ὑμῶν χάρις, ἔλεος, εἰρήνη παρὰ Θεοῦ Πατρὸς, καὶ παρὰ ̓Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ Πατρὸς, ἐν ἀληθείᾳ καὶ ἀγάπῃ.
a John 13. 34.
4 Εχάρην λίαν, ὅτι εὕρηκα ἐκ τῶν τέκνων σου περιπατοῦντας ἐν ἀληθείᾳ, καθὼς ἐντολὴν ἐλάβομεν παρὰ τοῦ Πατρός. 5. Καὶ νῦν ἐρωτῶ σε, Κυρία, οὐχ ὡς ἐντολὴν γράφων σοι καινὴν, ἀλλὰ ἣν εἴχομεν ἀπ ̓ ἀρχῆς, ἵνα ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους. 6' Καὶ αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἀγάπη, ἵνα περιπατῶμεν κατὰ τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ. Αὕτη ἡ ἐντολή ἐστιν, καθὼς ἠκούσατε ἀπ ̓ ἀρχῆς, ἵνα ἐν αὐτῇ περιπατῆτε. 7 Οτι πολλοὶ πλάνοι ἐξῆλθον εἰς τὸν κόσμον, οἱ μὴ ὁμολογοῦντες 2, 18, 22
1. δ πρεσβύτερος] The elder. The beloved Disciple and Apostle, St. John, thus designates himself in modesty; so St. Peter calls himself συμπρεσβύτερος, 1 Pet. v. 1. Cp. 3 John 1. St. John was eminently "the elder," because it is probable, when he wrote his Epistles, he was the only survivor of those who had been ordained by Christ; and this title may also have been adopted by him because he was advanced in years. Christ had declared His will, that St. John “ should tarry till He came (John xxi. 21 ; see also on 1 John ii. 6); and his life was continued to upwards of a hundred years, so that there was a peculiar significance in this appellation, as applied to him. Here also is an evidence of genuineness. A writer personating the Apostle would not have withheld the Apostolic title, which the true Apostles sometimes do: see James i. 1. Jude 1. In the Apocalypse St. John in his modesty calls himself only John: i. 1. 4. 9 ; xxii. 8.
ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ] to the elect Lady and her children. On the sense of these words, see above, Introduction to this Epistle. οὓς ἐγὼ ἀγαπῶ ἐν ἀληθείᾳ] whom I love in Christian truth, which is the only genuine foundation and element of Christian love; cp. 3 John 1. Truth is here opposed to the deceits of the false Teachers who are called liars, ψεῦσται (see 1 John ii. 22; cp. ibid. ii. 4; iv. 20), and whose heresies impugn the doctrine of Christ's Divinity and Incarnation, and are destructive of Christian Love and Christian Morality; see above, p. 102. Observe, therefore, how St. John dwells on the word ἀλήθεια, truth, Truth of Christian doctrine. That word Truth is repeated five times in this short Epistle; and six times in the Third Epistle, consisting only of thirteen verses.
8. χάρις, ἔλεος, εἰρήνη] Grace, Mercy, Peace. Both St. Peter's Epistles begin in like manner with the salutation, χάρις καὶ εἰρήνη: and so St. John, Rev. i. 4.
παρὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ] from Jesus Christ the Son of the Father-a profession of the true Faith against the heretical doctrines of the Gnostic Teachers; see above, Introduction to the First Epistle; on 2 Pet. ii. 1; and on 1 John i. 1-3; and iv. 9.
4. ἐχάρην λίαν] I rejoiced exceedingly: on this use of λίαν see 3 John 3. Matt. ii. 10; xxvii. 14. Luke xxiii. 8. Cp. Barnabas, Epist. c. 1; Avete, filii et filiæ, in nomine Domini Nostri Christi in pace, supra modum exhilaror beatis et præclaris spiritibus vestris.
του 15. 10.
1 John 2. 24.
εὕρηκα ἐκ τῶν τέκνων σου] I have found some of thy chitdren. Here is another evidence in favour of the opinion-stated above in the Introduction-that he is writing to a Church. He had said that "all men love the Elect Lady and her children " (v. 1), and he now says, that he himself has found some of them walking in the truth. These assertions are hardly applicable to the children of a private woman, but they are suitable to the case of a Church. The Church to which he writes was known as a Church to all, and some of its members had come to the place where the Apostle was, and he had found them to be walking in the truth.
5. οὐχ ὡς ἐντολὴν γράφων σοι καινήν] not as writing to thee (who art already well instructed) a new commandment: see above on 1 John ii. 8; iii. 11.
β. αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἀγάπη] this is love, that we walk according to His commandment. A protest against the false teachers who pretended to gnosis, but set at nought praxis: see on 1 John i. 5-8; ii. 6—10.
7. πολλοὶ πλάνοι] many deceivers went forth into the world. Even from out of the Church herself, the house of God, some have gone forth into the World, which "lieth under the Wicked one (1 John v. 19); and have made the World more wicked than it was. See on l John ii. 18, 19.
Elz. has εἰσῆλθον, but A, Β have ἐξῆλθαν and ἐξῆλθον, and so the Syriac, Vulgate, and Irenæus (iii. 16. 8), who quotes these words as from the First Epistle of St. John, and applies them to the Gnostics, who, under pretence of superior intelligence, separated Jesus from Christ (as the Cerinthians did), and separated Christ from the only-begotten of the Father, and from the Eternal Word.
οἱ μὴ ὁμολογοῦντες] those who do not confess—but deny Jesus Christ coming in the flesh. See above on 1 John iv. 3. He says ἐρχόμενον, coming, because Jesus Christ is ever coming in the flesh to those who receive the benefits of His Incarnation by their baptismal Incorporation into Him, and by the reception of the Holy Sacrament of His Body and Blood; by which, when received with faith, their bodies as well as souls are preserved unto everlasting life. See above on John vi. 54-56; and 1 Cor. x. 16-20. 1 John v. 6.
This the Gnostics denied: see Ignatius, ad Smyrn. 6, and note on 1 John iv. 2.
Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν ἐρχόμενον ἐν σαρκί· οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ πλάνος καὶ ὁ ἀντίχριστος.
8 ὰ Βλέπετε ἑαυτοὺς, ἵνα μὴ ἀπολέσητε ἃ εἰργάσασθε, ἀλλὰ μισθὸν πλήρη ἀπο
λάβητε. 9 Πᾶς ὁ προάγων καὶ μὴ μένων ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ τοῦ Χριστοῦ Θεὸν οὐκ ἔχει· ὁ μένων ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ οὗτος καὶ τὸν Πατέρα καὶ τὸν Υἱὸν ἔχει. 105 Εἴ τις ἔρχεται πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ ταύτην τὴν διδαχὴν οὐ φέρει, μὴ λαμβάνετε αὐτὸν εἰς οἰκίαν, καὶ χαίρειν αὐτῷ μὴ λέγετε· 11 ὁ γὰρ λέγων αὐτῷ χαίρειν κοινωνεῖ τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτοῦ τοῖς πονηροῖς.
12 5 Πολλὰ ἔχων ὑμῖν γράφειν οὐκ ἠβουλήθην διά χάρτου καὶ μέλανος· ἀλλὰ ἐλπίζω γενέσθαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ στόμα πρὸς στόμα λαλῆσαι, ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡμῶν ᾖ πεπληρωμένη. 13 'Ασπάζεται σε τὰ τέκνα τῆς ἀδελφῆς σου τῆς ἐκλεκτῆς.
οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ πλάνος] this is the deceiver and the Antichrist: who now specially desires and endeavours to seduce you, and against whom I specially warn you: see above, 1 John ii. 22. 26; iv. 3.
8. ἵνα μὴ ἀπολέσητε] in order that ye may not lose what ye wrought, but may receive a full reward. Elz. has these verbs in the first person plural, "in order that we may not lose;" but the second person, "Ye," is authorized by A, B, and Irenæus (iii. 16. 8), and by many Cursives and Versions; and so Lach., Tisch. As to the meaning of the words, see above, 2 Cor. v. 10. Eph. vi. 8. Col. iii. 25, and note on 1 Cor. iii. 12-15.
9. πᾶς ὁ προάγων] every one who goeth before, and doth not abide in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. Every one that goeth before, προάγων : so A, B, and Vulgate, and so Lach. Tisch. Elz. has παραβαίνων.
There seems to be a gentle touch of irony in the word προάγων. These False teachers are not content to abide in the doctrine of Christ, but they set themselves up as leaders; and on the specious plea of making progress they carry men away from their stedfastness (2 Pet. iii. 17), and lead them astray (πλανῶσιν) from the right path. They who are wolves, set themselves up as shepherds, and lure Christ's sheep away from those spiritual pastures in which they ought to abide, and from the spiritual fold in which alone they can have rest and safety : προάγων is a pastoral word. Mark x. 32, and John x. 4. Cp. Matt. xxvi. 32; xxviii. 7. 10, 11. εἴ τις ἔρχεται πρὸς ὑμᾶς] If any one cometh to you and bringeth not this doctrine, do not receive him into your kouse, nor bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed communicateth in his evil deeds.
St. John here treats heresy as an ἔργον πονηρόν, a wicked work; as sound faith is a good work, see John vi. 29. Vain therefore is the notion of those who separate practice from faith, and say that a man may lead a good life without a sound belief. A sound faith is the only root of virtuous practice; and heresy is the source of immorality. Cp. 2 Pet. ii. 1-14, and the remarks of Dr. Waterland on the Trinity, chap. v. St. John, the beloved disciple, the Apostle of love, and who (as Dr. Waterland expresses it, v. p. 108) was all love, meekness, and charity, yet severely condemns the heretics of his own times, either such as denied Christ's Humanity, or impugned His Divinity. He calls them Antichrists (1 John ii. 18. 22; iv. 3. 2 John 7), liars (1 John ii. 22), seducers (1 John ii. 26), false prophets (1 John iv. 1), deceivers (2 John 7). See above, Introduction, pp. 102, 103.
And St. John here forbids to entertain or salute a man who perverts the doctrine of Christ as these heretics did.
This precept may be illustrated by St. John's own example, who one day-as is recorded by S. Irenaus-having met Cerinthus at the bath, retired without bathing, "for fear lest the bath should fall, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, was there.” Iren. iii. 3. Euseb. iii. 28. Theodoret, Hær. fab. ii. 3; and Bede here.
A like story is told by S. Irenaeus of S. Polycarp, St. John's disciple; who, when he was accosted by Marcion, the Archheretic, and was asked by him, "Dost thou not know me?" replied, "Yes, I know thee the first-born of Satan" (S. Irenæus iii. 3. Euseb. iv. 14). So cautious (adds Irenæus) were the Apostles and their followers to have no communication, no not so much as in discourse, with those who adulterated the truth. Dr. Waterland on the Trinity, ch. iv. vol. v. p. 91; see also p. 108; and compare note above on 1 Cor. v. 11.
12. χάρτου] paper. It therefore seems that the original of this Epistle was not written on parchment (pergamena).
On the ancient materials of writing, see Jer. xxxvi. 18. 23. Isa. viii. 1. 2 Cor. iii. 3. Cp. Jahn, Archæol., §§ 86-88. Winer, R. W. B. ii. p. 421.
ἐλπίζω γενέσθαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς] I hope to come and stay with you. Elz. has ἐλθεῖν, but γενέσθαι, which is more expressive, and not likely to have been introduced by a copyist, is in A, B, and many Cursives, and received by Lach., Tisch. On the idiom in γενέσθαι πρός, literally "fieri apud," cp. John x. 35. Acts xxi. 17; xxv. 15. 1 Cor. xvi. 10.
On the supposition that this Epistle is addressed to a Church, and that the Church to which it is addressed was a Church in Babylonia (see above on v. 1), there is no reason for surprise that St. John should intend a journey thither. The inhabitants of that country had come up to Jerusalem, and had been evangelized by the Apostles there on the day of Pentecost (Acts ii. 9). St. Peter in his old age had gone to Babylon, and thence to Rome; see pp. 37-40. And if St. John was now in Asia, as is probable, he was at about a middle point between Babylon and Rome; and if he had “many things to write " he would not consider a journey from Asia to Babylon as long. 13. ἀσπάζεταί σε] The Children of thine elect sister greet thee. See on v. 1.
St. John calls his own spiritual children his τέκνα, 3 John 4. Cp. 1 John ii. 1.