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copal authority. Or, if it had been read to the church without his consent, 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 stock, in relieving the brethren and the strangers.
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 character of Demetrius, John wrote to Caius, that he and all the members of the church, might imitate him rather than Diotrephes, 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 might have an opportunity of speaking with Caius face to face concerning that imperious man.
Of the Date of the Second and Third Epistles 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 "first; that is, in the year 91 or 92. Whiston supposeth that "they were all three written about the year 82 or 83. I im
"agine, that St. John was somewhat advanced in age, and that "he had resided a good while in Asia, before he wrote any of "these epistles; consequently I am disposed to think that these "two were not writ sooner than the first. And, as it was be"fore argued that the first epistle was written about the year "80, these two may be reckoned to have been writ between the 66 years 80 and 90.” Thus far Lardner, Can. vol. iii. p. 313.
In the preface to the first epistle, I have attempted to shew from the epistle itself, that it was written about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. But there is nothing in the second and third epistles leading us to think they were written so early. We 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 eminence.
View and Illustration of the Matters contained in this Epistle.
To encou o encourage Caius to persevere in that virtuous course, by which he had obtained the love of all who knew him, 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 assisted by him, brought him the welcome news of his perseverance in the true doctrine 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 still do a good work acceptable to God, ver. 6.—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 benefitted 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 shew such persons kindness, that they might be joint-labourers with them in spreading and establishing the truth, ver. 8.
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 apostolical authority; thereby insinuating, that Diotrephes 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 assisting them, who were disposed to do it, and his casting those out of the church who had persevered in assisting them, contrary to his arbitrary orders. By this, I think, the apostle threatened to exercise his miraculous power in punishing Diotrephes for his evil deeds, ver. 10. But beloved, said he, do not imitate what is evil in Diotrephes, but what is good in Demetrius, one of your own church. For he who doth good actions is begotten of God; but he who doth evil actions hath not seen God; he hath no right knowledge of God, ver. 11.-He then told Caius, that Demetrius was every way worthy of being imitated, because he was praised not only by all good men, but by the gospel itself, his temper and actions being conformable to the precepts of the gospel, in every respect. To these honourable testimonies John added his own approbation of Demetrius's character, which
OLD TRANSLATION. VER. 1 The elder unto
the well-beloved Caius, whom I love in the truth.
2 Beloved, I wish above
all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prosper
3 For I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came
and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.
1 Ὁ πρεσβύτερος Γαιῷ τῷ αγαπητῳ, ὁν εγω αγαπω εν andag.
2 Αγαπητε, περι παντων ευχομαι σε ευοδούσθαι και υγιαίνειν, καθώς γιαινειν, καθως ευοδούται σου ἡ ψυχη.
3 Εχάρην γαρ λιαν, ερχο μενων αδελφων και μαρτυρουν των σου τη αληθεια, καθώς συ εν αληθεια περιπατεις.
Ver. 1.-1. The elder. This appellation signifies the aged apostle. See Pref. to 2 John, Sect. 1. penult paragr.
2. To Caius (See Pref. Sect. 2.) the beloved, whom I love in truth. See 2 John, ver. 1. note 5.
Ver. 2.-1. Beloved, I pray, that with respect to all things thou mayest prosper. In the Greek it is, περι παντων ευχομαι σε ευοδεσθαι, which in our Bible is rendered, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper.-Beza's translation is, Deum oro de omnibus rebus; I pray God concerning all things; things temporal as well as things spiritual, that thou mayest prosper. In this translation Beza is followed by Estius, and Erasmus Schmidius.-Doddridge's translation is, Beloved, 1 pray that in respect of all things.