« AnteriorContinua »
surrection from the dead. These chosen persons Jesus named apostles; and the sons of Zebedee being of that number, he sirnamed them Boanerges, or sons of thunder, to mark the courage with which they would afterwards preach him to the world, as Christ the Son of God.-How well James fulfilled his Master's prediction, may be known from his being put to death by Herod Agrippa not long after our Lord's ascension, on account of his boldly testifying the resurrection of Jesus from the dead; so that he became the first martyr among the apostles.—Cave in his life of James, says the sons of Zebedee had the sirname of Boanerges given them, on account of the impetuosity of their tempers. And it must be acknowledged that they shewed too much anger, in their proposal to have the Samaritans destroyed by fire from heaven, because they refused to receive Jesus, as he was going up to Jerusalem to worship, Luke ix. 54. Lord wilt thou, that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did?
But although James and John shewed improper zeal on the occasion mentioned, they were highly esteemed by their Master, for their other good qualities; as appears from this, that of all the apostles they only, with Peter, were admitted by him to be the witnesses of the resurrection of Jairus's daughter, and of our Lord's transfiguration, and of his agony in the garden. John more especially was so much beloved of Jesus, that he was called the disciple whom he loved.-His benevolent disposition John manifested in this his first epistle, by the frequency and carnestness with which he recommended mutual love to the disciples of Christ.-With benevolence, John joined great fortitude and constancy in his attachment to his Master. For he only of the twelve, attended him during his crucifixion; and saw the blood and water issue from his side, when the soldier pierced it with a spear; and, I doubt not, was present when his body was laid in the sepulchre; and saw the sepulchre closed with a stone.--He with Peter, ran to the sepulchre, when Mary Magdalen brought word that the Lord's body was taken away. He was present also when Jesus shewed himself to his apostles, on the evening of the day of his resurrection; and on the eighth day thereafter. He with his brother James, was present when Jesus shewed himself to his disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and to the five hundred on the mountain in Galilee, mentioned Matt. xxviii. 16.-Moreover, he was present with the rest of the apostles, when our Lord ascended into heaven from the mount of
Olives. So that, with the greatest propriety and truth, he could begin his first epistle with saying, That which was from the beginning which we have heard, which we have seen, &c. we declare unto you; referring to his gospel, in which he hath narrated the crucifixion, miracles, sufferings, death, and resurrection of the living Word; his appearances to his disciples after his resurrection; and last of all, his ascension into heaven.-To conclude, John was one of the one hundred and twenty upon whom the Holy Ghost descended, on the day of Pentecost which immediately followed our Lord's ascension.
After the effusion of the Holy Spirit, John displayed the greatest boldness in maintaining his master's cause, when with Peter he was brought before the council, and was strictly charged not to teach in the name of Jesus. For on that occasion, he made the noble answer recorded, Act. iv. 19. Whether it be right in the sight of God to harken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have heard and
We are told, Acts viii. 14. That when the apostles who were at Jerusalem, heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. It seems none could confer that gift but apostles. From Gal. ii. 9. it appears that John was present at the council of Jerusalem, which met A. D. 49. or 50. to determine the great question agitated in the church of Antioch; namely, whether it was necessary to the salvation of the believing Gentiles, that they should be circumcised.—And if, as is probable, John had his ordinary residence in Jerusalem till that time, he had his share in working the many signs and wonders, which are said to have been done by the hands of the apostles, Acts ii. 43. iv. 33. v. 12.
We are told, Rev. i. 9. That John was banished to the Isle of Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus. In that island, he was favoured with the visions, which he hath recorded in his book of the Revelation.
The foregoing particulars concerning John, are all mentioned in the New Testament. The fathers in their writings add, that John lived to a great age; that he spent the latter part of his life mostly at Ephesus the metropolis of the province of Asia; that the Roman emperor Domitian banished him to Patmos about the year 95; consequently after the destruction of Jerusalem. But Grotius and Sir Isaac Newton, place John's banishment to
Patmos, the former in the reign of Claudius, the latter in the reign of Nero: consequently before the destruction of Jerusalem. And in support of their opinion, they allege some testimonies of later writers, together with other particulars: But Lardner, Can. vol. 1. p. 359.-377. hath shewed, that these things are insufficient for establishing the early date of John's banishment. He therefore adheres to the common opinion, that John was banished to Patmos, by Domitian's edict for persecuting the Christians, published in the latter part of his reign, A. D. 95. Domitian died September 18. A. D. 96. and was succeeded by Nerva, in the first year of whose reign, if not sooner, John being released, returned to Ephesus, where, according to the ancients, he died in the third year of the Emperor Trajan, answering to A. D. 100. Or, as Jerome expresses it, he died in the 68th year after our Lord's passion; which was the third of Trajan. Wherefore, if Lampe's opinion is well founded, that John was born in the same year with his master, he must have been an hundred years old when he died.
The time of John's leaving Judea is unknown. But, as in Luke's history of Paul's travels, John is not mentioned, and no salutation is sent to him in any of the epistles which Paul wrote from Rome to the churches of Asia, not even in his epistle to the Ephesians, nor in the epistles which in the latter part of his life he wrote to Timothy in Ephesus, it is reasonable to think, that John was not at Ephesus while Paul was alive. I therefore am of their opinion, who suppose that John remained in Judea, from the time of the council of Jerusalem, till he saw Jerusalem encompassed with armies, and observed the other signs of its aproaching destruction foretold by his Master; that he then fled into Asia; and coming at length to Ephesus, he fixed his ordinary residence in that city, and abode there till his death; as all the ancient Christian writers testify.-Because none of these writers say our Lord's mother went with John into Asia, Cave, Basnage, and Lardner, conjecture that she died before John left Judea.
The other particulars, said by the ancients to have happened to John after he settled at Ephesus, it is needless to mention ; as some of them are not sufficiently attested, and others of them are embellished with circumstances evidently fabulous. Yet, if the reader is desirous to know, what ancient authors have reported concerning our apostle after he went into Asia, he will
find the passages of their writings, in which these things are mentioned, quoted by Lardner, Canon, vol. 1. beginning at page 349.
Of the Authenticity of the First Epistle of John.
The authenticity of any ancient writing is established, First, by the testimony of contemporary, and of succeeding authors, whose works have come down to us; and who speak of that writing, as known to be the work of the person whose name it bears. Secondly, by the suitableness of the things contained in such a writing, to the character and circumstances of its supposed author; and by the similarity of its style, to the style of the other acknowledged writings of that author.-The former of these proofs is called the external evidence of the authenticity of a writing: The latter its internal evidence. Where these two kinds of evidence are found accompanying any writing, they render its genuineness indubitable.
The external evidence of the authenticity of John's first epistle shall be laid before the reader in the preface to the second epistle, sect. 1. by shewing that the earliest and best Christian writers, have all with one consent, and without any hesitation, ascribed the first epistle to him. And their testimony is confirmed by this circumstance, that the Syriac translator who omitted the second epistle of Peter, the second and third epistles of John, and the epistle of Jude, because some doubts were entertained concerning them in the first age, or perhaps because they had not come to his knowledge, hath translated John's first epistle, as an apostolical writing of which there never was any doubt.
In this preface, therefore, we shall state the internal evidence of the authenticity of the first epistle ascribed to John, by shewing, First, that in respect of its matter; and Secondly, that in respect of its style, it is perfectly suitable to the character and circumstances of its supposed author.-In respect of the matter or subject of the epistle under consideration, the writer of it hath discovered himself to be John the apostle, by introducing a number of sentiments and expressions found in the gospel, which all Christians from the beginning, have acknowledged to be the work of John the apostle.
CHAP. I. 1. That which was from the beginning- 0αausta, which we have contemplated-concerning the living
II. 5. Whosoever keepeth his word, truly in that man the love of God is perfected.
II. 6. He who saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. See chap. iii. 24. iv. 13. 16.
II. 8. I write to you a new commandment.
III. 11. This is the message which ye have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
II. 8. The darkness passeth away, and the light which is true, now shineth.
10. Abideth in the light, and there is no stumbling-block to him.
II. 13. Young children, I write to you, because ye have known the Father.
14. Because ye have known him from the beginning.
II. 29. Every one who worketh righteousness, is begotten of God. See also iii. 9. v. 1.
III. 1. Behold how great love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God!
Chap. I. 1. In the beginning was the word. 14. And, ε.9Eaμɛda, we beheld his glory. 4. In him was life.
14. The word was made flesh. XIV. 23. If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him.
XV. 4. Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bring forth fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
XIII. 34. A new commandment I give to you,
that ye love one another as I have loved you.
I. 5. The light shineth in darkness.
9. That was the true light. XI. 10. If a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light to him.
XVII. 3. This is the eternal life that they might know thee the only true God.
And Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.
III. 3. Except a man be begotten again.
5. Except a man be begotten of water and of the Spirit.
I. 12. To them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on his name.