Imatges de pÓgina

II. THERE have been great doubts, both among the antients and the moderns, concerning the persons to whom it was addressed. Some have supposed that it was written to the inhabitants of Parthia, because St. John is said to have preached the Gospel in that country, but of this there is not sufficient evidence; others have supposed that it was addressed to the churches of Asia, and others, to the Christians of Judæa, because John had preached in both those countries; but as there is no expression of limitation in any part of the Epistle, I am inclined to consider it as written to Christians in general, of every place, and of every denomination.

III. THERE has also been considerable doubt concerning the date of this Epistle; some have supposed that it was written before, and others after, the destruction of Jerusalem. In the following passage, "It is the last time; and as we have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many Antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time (b)," the Apostle seems to allude to the approaching dissolution of the Jewish state, and to Christ's predictions (c) concerning the false teachers who were to appear before the destruction of Jerusalem; and therefore (b) C. 2. v. 18. (c) Matt. c. 24. v. 5, & 24.

therefore I place its date about the year 69. It is impossible to ascertain where it was written, but it seems most probable that it was written in Judæa.

IV. Its principal design was to preserve the Christians in the true faith of Christ, in opposition to the erroneous doctrines which had then begun to make their appearance, and were afterwards maintained by the Gnostics, Docetæ, and Cerinthians.

The Apostle begins by assuring the Christian converts, that he had seen and heard every thing, which he had delivered to them concerning Christ; he declares, that if we walk in light, that is, sincerely endeavour to obey the precepts of the Gospel, the blood of Christ will cleanse us from all unrighteousness; he condemns those, who say that they are guilty of no sin, and recommends confession of sins (d); he asserts the universality of Christ's propitiation; he states that the knowledge of God consists in the observance of his commandments; he cautions the Christian converts against the love of this world, and against false teachers (e); he points out the love of God for mankind, and thence inculcates the duty of mutual love among men (f); he urges

(f) C. 3.

(d) C. 1.

(e) C. 2.

urges farther cautions against false teachers, and especially against those who deny that Christ is come in the flesh, that is, who deny the preexistence of Christ, and the incarnation of the Son of God (g); he repeats his admonitions to mutual love (h), and to the observance of God's commandments; he pronounces, that "the whole world lieth in wickedness," and that "God has given us eternal life through his "Son (i)."

THIS Epistle has neither inscription in the beginning, nor salutation or benediction at the end; and indeed it has so little of the epistolary form, that some persons consider it as a treatise rather than a letter.

(g) Some of these early heretics maintained that Christ was not a real man, but a phantom, and that he did not really suffer death; others, that the Son of God was united with Jesus at his baptism, and left him before his crucifixion.

(h) C. 4.

(i) C. 5.




I. Genuineness of this Epistle.-II. To whom it was addressed.-III. Design and Substance of it.IV. Its Date.

I. THIS Epistle is quoted by Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Dionysius of Alexandria; and therefore its antiquity is unquestionable, although it was formerly doubted whether it was written by John the Evangelist, or John the Presbyter of Ephesus; but since the fourth century, it has been allowed to be the genuine work of St. John the Evangelist, and as such it is admitted into the


II. IN the inscription of this Epistle, St. John, without mentioning his name, calls himself the Elder, which title he probably adopted as being a term of honourable distinction in the primitive church.

church. It is addressed, 'Exλxтy Kupia, concerning the meaning of which words there has been a variety of opinions (a). Some, fancying that 'ExλExτ is a proper name, have translated them to the Lady Electa; others have taken Kupig to be a proper name, and have translated the words to the elect Kyria or Cyria; others have thought that the Christian church in general, or that some particular church was meant, as of Philadelphia or Jerusalem. Our translators have rendered the words, To the Elect Lady, which is the common acceptation of them, and from which I see no reason for departing; I therefore consider that this Epistle was written to some lady of eminence, styled elect on account of her distinguished piety. The place of her residence is not known.

III. THIS Epistle consists of only thirteen verses; and Dr. Lardner observes, that of these thirteen " eight may be found in the first Epistle, either in sense or expression." The design of it was to caution the lady, to whom it was addressed, against those false teachers, who asserted that Christ was not a real man, but only

a man

(a) Vide Wolfii Prolegom. in Ep. Joan. 2dam, and Benson's Preface to the 2d and 3d Epistles of St. John,

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