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We are to read the Bible in order to understand God’s message to us. He speaks to us in plain language but there are times we need a helping hand in what we read. Commentaries are not just for preachers or seminary students. They are for us all. The Ultimate Commentary Collection is designed to bring you a variety of thoughts and insights from theologians of high renown and reputation. Their study of the Bible is of great help to us. We are presenting to you the studies and thoughts of 6 of the Church’s greatest minds: Albert Barnes – John Calvin – Adam Clarke – Matthew Henry – Charles H. Spurgeon – John Wesley. Their commentaries will help you understand, enjoy and apply what God’s word says to you. In addition to these commentaries you will also find all of Spurgeon’s sermons on this particular book of the Bible. This volume is The Ultimate Commentary On 3 John.
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3 John Contents
3 JOHN CONTENTS
Chapter Two - Albert Barnes
Chapter Three - Adam Clarke
Chapter Four - Matthew Henry
Chapter Five - John Wesley
3 John Contents
Bible Study Guide
3 John Contents
3 JOHN CONTENTS
3 John Introduction
3 John Chapter 1
3 John Contents
Bible Study Guide
3 John Introduction
3 JOHN INTRODUCTION
Introduction to 2 John and 3 John
Section 1. The Authenticity of the Second and Third Epistles of John
The authenticity of these two Epistles was doubted by many in the early Christian church, and it was not before a considerable time had elapsed that their canonical authority was fully admitted. The first of the three Epistles was always received as the undoubted production of the apostle John; but, though not positively and absolutely rejected, there were many doubts entertained in regard to the authorship of the Second Epistle and the Third Epistle. Their exceeding brevity, and the fact that they were addressed to individuals, and seemed not designed for general circulation, made them less frequently referred to by the early Christian writers, and renders it more difficult to establish their genuineness. The evidence of their genuineness is of two kinds - external and internal. Though, from their brevity, the proof on these points must be less full and clear than it is in regard to the First Epistle; yet it is such as to satisfy the mind, on the whole, that they are the production of the apostle John, and are entitled to a place in the canon of Scripture.
(1) External evidence. The evidence of this kind, either for or against the authenticity of these Epistles, is found in the following testimonies respecting them in the writings of the Fathers, and the following facts in regard to their admission into the canon.
(a) In the church and school at Alexandria they were both well known, and were received as a part of the sacred writings. Clement of Alexandria, and Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, quote them, or refer to them, as the writings of the apostle John. - Lardner‘s Works, vi. 275; Lucke, p. 329. Origen, the successor of Clement, says: “John left behind him an epistle of very few ‹stichoi;‘ perhaps also a Second and Third, though some do not consider these genuine. Both these together, however, contain only 100 ‹stichoi.‘” Dionysius of Alexandria shows that he was acquainted with all of them, but calls the two last φερόμεναι pheromenai- writings alleged to be genuine. For the import of this word, as used by Dionysius, see Lucke‘s Com., pp. 33,331.
(b) These Epistles were known and received in the western churches in the second and third centuries. Of this fact, an important witness is found in Irenaeus, who, on account of the place where he resided during his youth, and the school in which he was educated, deserves special regard as a witness respecting the works of John - Hug. He was born at Smyrna, and lived not long after the times of the apostles. He was a disciple of Polycarp, who was acquainted with the apostle John; and having passed his early years in Asia Minor, must, in the circumstances in which he was placed, have been familiar with the writings of John, and have known well what writings were attributed to him. He quotes the Second Epistle 2 John 1:11, and with express reference to John as the author, under the name of “John, the disciple of our Lord.” In another place, also, he refers to this Epistle. After quoting from the First Epistle. he continues. “And John, the disciple of Jesus, in the Epistle before mentioned, commanded that they (the heretics) should be shunned, saying,” etc. He then quotes, word for word, the seventh and eighth verses of the Epistle.
(c) The African church, in the third century, regarded the Second Epistle, at least, as the production of John. At a synod in Carthage, under Cyprian, Aurelius, the Bishop of Chullabi, in giving his vote on the question of baptizing heretics, quotes the tenth verse of the Second Epistle as authority, saying, “John, in his Epistle, declares,” etc.
(d) There is some doubt in regard to the Syrian church, whether these Epistles were at first received as genuine or not. The manuscripts of the Peshitto, or Old Syriac version, at least since the sixth century, do not contain the Epistle of Jude, the Second Epistle of Peter, or the Second Epistle and the Third Epistle of John. Yet Ephrem the Syrian, in the fourth century, quotes the Epistle of Jude, the Second Epistle of Peter, and the Second of John, as genuine and canonical. Since this father in the Syrian church was not acquainted with the Greek language, (Lucke), it is clear that he must have read these Epistles in a translation, and as would seem most probable in some Syriac version. The probability would seem to be, since these Epistles are not in the oldest Syriac version, that there was some doubt about their authenticity when that version was made, but that before the time of Ephrem they had come to be regarded as genuine, and were translated by some other persons. Their use in the time of Ephrem would at least show that they were then regarded as genuine. They may have been, indeed, at some period attached to the ancient version, but at a later period, as they did not originally belong to that version, they may have been separated from it - Lucke, in loc. At all events, it is clear that at an early period in the Syrian church they were regarded as genuine.
(e) Though there were doubts among many of the Fathers respecting the genuineness of these Epistles, yet they were admitted in several councils of the church to be genuine. In the 85th of the apostolic canons, (so called); in the 60th canon of the Synod of Laodicea; the Council at Hippo, (ad 393), and the third Council of Carthage (397 a.d.), they were reckoned as undoubtedly pertaining to the inspired canon of Scripture.
(f) All doubts on the subject of the genuineness of these Epistles were, however, subsequently removed in the view of Christian writers, and in the middle ages they were universally received as the writings of the apostle John. Some of the Reformers again had doubts of their genuineness. Erasmus quoted the sentiment of Jerome, that it was not the “apostle” John who wrote these Epistles, but a “presbyter” of the same name; and Calvin seems to have entertained some doubt of their genuineness, for he has omitted them in his commentaries; but these doubts have also disappeared, and the conviction has again become general, and indeed almost universal, that they are to be ranked among the genuine writings of the apostle John.
It may be added here, that the doubts which have been entertained on the subject, and the investigations to which they have given rise, show the care which has been evinced in forming the canon of the New Testament, and demonstrate that the Christian world has not been disposed to receive books as of sacred authority without evidence of their genuineness.
(2) there is strong internal evidence that they are genuine. This is found in their style, sentiment, and manner. It is true that one who was familiar with the writings of the apostle John might compose two short epistles like these, that should be mistaken for the real productions of the apostle. There are, even in these brief epistles, not a few passages which seem to be a mere repetition of what John has elsewhere said. But there are some things in regard to the internal evidence that they are the writings of the apostle John, and were not designedly forged, which deserve a more particular notice. They are such as these:
(a) As already said, the style, sentiment, and manner are such as are appropriate to John. There is nothing in the Epistles which we might not suppose he would write; there is much that accords with what he has written; there is much in the style which would not be likely to be found in the writings of another man; and there is nothing in the sentiments which would lead us to suppose that the manner of the apostle John had been assumed, for the purpose of palming upon the world productions which were not his. Resemblances between these Epistles will strike every reader, and it is unnecessary to specify them. The following passages, however, are so decidedly in the manner of John, that it may be presumed that they were either written by him, or by one who designed to copy from him: 2 John 1:5-7, 2 John 1:9; 3 John 1:11-12.
(b) The fact that the name of the writer is not affixed to the Epistles is much in the manner of John. Paul, in every case except in the Epistle to the Hebrews, affixed his name to his Epistles; Peter, James, and Jude did the same thing. John, however, has never done it in any of his writings, except the Apocalypse. He seems to have supposed that there was something about his style and manner which would commend his writings as genuine; or that in some other way they would be so well understood to be his, that it was not necessary to specify it. Yet the omission of his name, or of something that would lay claim to his authority as an apostle, would not be likely to occur if these Epistles were fabricated with a design of palming them upon the world as his. The artifice would be too refined, and would be too likely to defeat itself, to be adopted by one who should form such a plan.
(c) The apparently severe and harsh remarks made in the Epistle in regard to heretics, may be adverted to as an evidence that these Epistles are the genuine writings of John the apostle. Thus, in 2 John 1:10, he says, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.” So in 3 John 1:10; “If I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words,” etc. It has been made an objection to the genuineness of these Epistles, that this is not in the spirit of the mild and amiable “disciple whom Jesus loved;” that it breathes a temper of uncharitableness and severity which could not have existed in him at any time, and especially when, as an old man, he is said to have preached nothing but “love one another.” But two circumstances will show that this, so far from being an objection, is rather a proof of their genuineness.
One is, that in fact these expressions accord with what we know to have been the character of John. They are not inappropriate to one who was named by the Master himself, Boanerges - a son of thunder, Mark 3:17
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