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this means, we attain to eternal life. Since, as I have observed, Christians alone are of the family of God, and the Heathen world lies in wickedness, the enemies of God, and exposed to condemnation, let me conclude with earnestly admonishing my younger converts to abstain, as becomes Christians, from every thing that belongs to the Heathen worship, whatever they may suffer in consequence of it.
THESE two smaller epistles of John, are supposed to have been written between A. D. 80 and 90.* Both the subjects . and the language are so much the same with those of the former epistle, that there cannot be a doubt of their having the same author.
1. This second epistle is supposed by some to have been addressed to a church, but by others, to a particular woman of eminence, in the church; her name, according to some, being Eluta, and according to others, Kuria.t
That it was addressed to a particular woman, I think much the most probable, and which of these two words was the name, and which the epithet, or whether both of thein be not epithetsé is of little consequence.
There is much of dignity and modesty in the apostle calling himself an elder. It was the title assumed by Peter in his first epistle. [v. 1.]
3. That is, the true and beloved Son of God.
4. By walking in the truth, there cannot well be a doubt but that this apostle, whose principal object in writing, was to oppose the Gnostic heresy, meant their adhering to the Catholic Church.
7. This precisely marks the Gnostics, who said that Jesus and the Christ were different persons, or that Jesus had not real flesh, but only the form of a human body, not subject to pain or death.
9. Christ and the Father being in strict union, a separation from the true Church of Christ is a separation from the Father, and an union with it, is an union with both.
* See Lardner, VI. p. 607; Doddridge's Introd. VI. pp. 381, 382. + See Le Clere; Lardner, VI. pp. 593—597; Doddridge ; Bengelius in Bovoyer.
1 Ver. 10. “ Thus the Jews, as Lightfoot and Whitby observe, were forbid to say God speed to an excommunicated person, or to conie within four cubits of an heretic. But the apostle must not be here understood as excluding the common offices of humanity to such persons, for that is contrary to all the general precepts. of benevolence to be found in the gospel.” Doddridge.
11. The apostle could hardly have expressed his disapprobation of the Gnostics more strongly than in this manner. It was the practice of the Jews with respect to the persons whom they excommunicated.
13. This language is much more natural concerning a particular person, than a church. One of the sisters, probably, resided where the apostle did, and the other, to whoin the epistle is addressed, at some distance.
1. This third epistle of John is addressed to a person of the name of Gaius,* or Caius, who must have been a respectable and wealthy member of some church in the neighbourhood of Ephesus, where the apostle resided, and of which Diotrephes was the bishop.
2. This may be rendered in all respects, as well as above all things.t
4. By walking in the truth, no doubt this apostle meant adhering to the Catholic Church, and not joining the Gnostics. I
6—8. The persons who had been entertained by this Gaius, must have been some who, like the apostle Paul, preached among the Gentiles, and bore their own expenses, so that they had the more reasonable claim to the rights of hospitality, when they met with Christians.
9, 10. We see how soon a haughty, overbearing spirit got into the Christian Church, but knowing so little of the circumstances of this particular case, we cannot say what degree of blame attached itself to the conduct of this Diotrephes. $ The apostle evidently thought it highly reprehensible. By casting out of the church, is probably meant, in this place, his refusing to receive these strangers, and thereby compelling them to apply to other churches for relief. The custom of excommunicating persons who did not belong to the church, in which the excommunication was pronounced, did not begin so early, and the receiving and entertaining strangers, though it might be deemed un
This name occurs Acts xix. 29; xx. 4; Rom. xvi. 23; 1 Cor. i. 14. See Lardner, VI. pp. 597, 598. + Doddridge. “ Above all persons.” Hallett, I. pp. 61, 68.
On vers. 6, 7, see Theol. Repos. IV. pp. 243, 244. § See Lardner, VI. pp. 599-607.
necessary, will never be deemed a plausible ground of excommunication, at any time.
12. This Demetrius was probably the person who carried this epistle.*
This epistle of Jude was probably written on the same occasion, and about the same time,t with the second of Peter, being evidently designed to guard Christians against the practices and principles of the Gnostics.
1. We know but little concerning this apostle, but that he was otherwise called Lebbeus and Thuddeus, that he was the brother of that James who is called the brother of Jesus, and that they were the sons of Alpheus, or Cleopas. Where this apostle lived, or how he died, we are not informed, but probably he continued in some part of Judea till the the breaking out of the war. I
3. Here we clearly see that the object of this epistle was to preserve the Christians in their adherence to the proper Church of Christ, established by the apostles, in opposition to others who made innovations, and these we know were, in those times, the Gnostics only. All the characters by which he describes those whose opinions and practices he censures, were either avowedly maintained by them, or generally ascribed to them.
4. || At first, the Gnostics were, of course, members of the common Christian churches ; but afterwards, in consequence of holding opinions very different from those of other Christians, it was found convenient for them to form separate societies ; and it is probable that this was at first
* On vers. 5—14, see Lardner, VI. pp. 603-607.
+ See Ibid. pp. 624_627; Doddridge's Introd. VI. pp. 401, 402; Michaelis's Introd. Lect. (Sect. cxlvi.), p. 317 ; Impr. Vers.
I “ Origeu Comm. in Matt. p. 488, Euseb. Lib. vi. 14, mention Jude as a writ. ing whose authority was not owned. Sophronius says that it was rejected by many, because the author had used the authority of a spurious buok of Enoch. See Jerom. Ep. 103, ad Paulinum.
“Grotius observes, that Jude does not style himself an apostle, as the apostles used to do, even in their epistles to private personis. Besides, if the epistle had been apostolical, it would have been trauslated into the other languages, and received by all the churches, which it was not, wherefore Grotius thinks it was writ by Jude, the Bishop of Jerusalem, in Adrian's time, about the year 130. see Euseb Lib. iv. 5. The epistle is writ chiefly against the Carpocratians, of whose enornious behaviour, in putting out the candles, &c. at the love feasts, see Clemens Alexand. Strom. III. p. 480.” N. T. 1729. See Lardner, II. p. 482; Bowyer.
See Blackwall (S. C.), II. pp. 200-202.
See John xvii. 3. “ Bishop Lucifer (A. D. 354) omits the word God, saying the only Lord, as do many Greek MSS." Lærdner, IV. p. 373.
voluntary on their part: for they are said [ver. 19] to be those who separated themselves. They were charged not only with holding erroneous opinions, which was certainly true of them, with respect to the person of Jesus, as has often been explained, but with practices of the most flagitious nature. That some of them were guilty of such vices, is very credible, because there are unworthy members of all societies; but that the tenets of the Gnostics necessarily led to vice, does not appear.
Like other Christians, they expected a future state of righteous retribution, though not in the body, and professing to bate and mortily the body, they would rather avoid all sensual indulgences ; though it is possible that their contempt of the body might be so great, and its connexion with the soul, in their opinion, so little, and only temporary, that they might think that the pollution of the body would not remain with the soul. This contrary effect of similar principles has been seen in some more modern sects of Christians.
5. As the Hebrews, though delivered from their bondage in Egypt, died in the Wilderness for their unbeliet, the apostle warns Christians against a similar conduct and a similar fate, if they should depart from the true faith of the gospel.
6. By the angels who left their first estate, are probably to be understood, as I observed in the Notes on 2 Peter,' those who are called the sons of God, in the antediluvian world, and who perished in the general deluge.t
8. This should rather have been rendered, vain dreamers, alluding to the wild speculative systems of the Gnostics, in which there was much of fancy, and suppositions of the most improbable kind, on which account Paul (1 Tim. i. 4; iv. 7] calls them endless genealogies, and old wives' fables. The first Gnostics were Jews, strongly prejudiced in favour of the law, which they wished to impose on the Gentile converts. They also ill brooked their subjection to the Romans.
9. This is probably an allusion to a passage in Zechariah iii. 2, as was observed in the Notes on 2 Peter. I
* Ch. ii. 4. See supra, pp. 416, 417 ; Lardner, VI. p. 623; Simpson in Impr. Vers. + Gen. vi. 2. See Vol. XI. p. 53.
I See supra, pp. 416, 417. “ Among other apocryphal writings of the Jews, there was a book entitled The Assumption of Moses, where Michael and the Devil were introduced disputing about the body of Moses, and where the archangel delivered the answer here mentioned." N. T. 1729.
This, “ Origen supposed; but indeed there is no good reason to suppose there was any such book extant in the time of Jude. It is more probable that it was forged afterwards.-To me it is apparent that St. Jude refers to the vision in Zech. iii. 1-3. Vitringa would read, the body of Joshua. Nevertheless, the common
12.* It should have been rendered, hidden rocks, on which ships are dashed before mariners are aware of them.
13. There was hardly any vice or excess with which these Gnostics were not accused.
14,7 15. The words of Jude are, word for word, the same with those in the book of Enoch, which was seen by Mr. Bruce, in Abyssinia. I
This must have been an ancient tradition among the Jews, and it is by no means improbable in itself. To have been translated to heaven without dying, Enoch must have distinguished himself by his zeal in the cause of virtue and of God; and his translation might be considered as a confirmation of his doctrine, and especially a proof of the reality of another stale, to which men passed after they had done with this. For it would not be supposed that he was taken up into the clouds, that he might die there, or elsewhere. And the power that could remove a man from this state to that, without dying, would easily be supposed to be able to do it after death. It is not improbable, therefore, but that Enoch was the first to whom the doctrine of a future state was distinctly revealed, though we have not now any sufficient evidence of it.
18. The appearance of the Gnostics was thought by Paul, Peter, and John, as well as Jude, to be an indication that theirs were the times in which there was to be a great departure from the true faith, and a proportionable corruption of morals ; so that, according to our Saviour's prophe
reading may be explained agreeably to Zechariah. For, according to Ephrem the Syrian, · Joshua the High-priest,' there denotes the Jewish people; whom St. Jude might call • the body of Moses,' as Christians are called • ihe body of Christ," by St. Paul, 1 Cor xii. 20, 25, 27; Eph. j. 23; iv. 12, 16; Col. i. 18.” Lardner, VI. pp. 621, 622. See ibid. IV. p. 435; Bowyer.
w It is well known the Jews had many dramatic pieces among them, (though not perhaps designed for the stage,) taken from stories out of their own chronicles ; such seems the book of Job. To me it appears almost evident, that St. Jude alludes to a kind of dramatic poem, where Michael and the Devil were introduced disputing about the burial of Moses. The story might be taken from some old Rabbinical comment upon the last chapter in Deuteronomy, and the subject might be, The death of Moses." Upton on Shakespeare, p. 29. See Le Clerc; Doddridge. On railing accusation, “ Archbishop Tillotson suggests that the Archangel was afraid the Devil would have been too hard for him at railing.” Ibid.
See Hallett, III. pp. 46, 47 ; Bowyer. 7." Prophesied against these.". Blackwall (S: C.), I. p. 164. See Doddridge.
| Travels, p. 499. (P.) “It is not certain that St. Jude cites any book; nor is there yood Hvidence that in St. Jude's time there was extant any book entitled Enoch, or Enoch's Prophecies, though there was such a book in the hands of Christians in the second and third centuries." Lardner, VI. p. 619.
“ Behold the Lord cometh with his holy myriads." Mede, p. 344. See Theol. Repos. IV. p. 244. “ Ecce venit Dominus in sanctis millibus suis.” Vulg. On ver. 7, see Blackwall (S. C.), II. pp. 20-22. Taylor's Orig. Sin, p. 160.