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Balaam's Reproof by the Ass.
2 PETER, III.
Sureness of Christ's Comin. lit., "beast of burden;" the ass was the ordinary | IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST. 1. non--"This now animal used in riding in Palestine. dumb - Greek, / & second epistle I write." Therefore he had lately "voiceless-speaking in man's voice:" marking the written the former epistle. The seven Catholicepistles marvellous Dature of the miracle forbade - lit., / were written by James, John, and Jude, shortly be *hindered." It was not the words of the ass (for it fore their deaths: previously, whilst having the promerely deprecated his beating it), but the miraculous spect of being still for some time alive, they felt it fact of its speaking at all, which withstood Balaam's less necessary to write. (BENGEL) unto 300-The verversity in desiring to go after God had forbidden second epistle, though more general in its address, yet him in the first instance. Thus indirectly the ass, and included especially the same persons as the first episto directly the angel, rebriked his worse than asinine ob- was particularly addressed to. pure-lit.. "pure when stinacy : the ass turned aside at the sight of the angel, examined by sunlight:" "sincere." Adulterated with but Balaam. after God had plainly said, Thou shalt I no error. Opposite to "having the understanding not go, persevered in wishing to go for gain; thus the darkened." ALFORD explains, The mind, will, and ass, in act, forbade his madness. How awful A con- affection, in relation to the outer world, being tarned trast-a dumb beast forbidding an inspired prophet! to God (the Sun of the soul), and not obscured by 17. (Jude. 12. 13.) wells “clouds" in Jude : both fleshly and selfish regards. by way of-Greek, “is, in promising (cf. 0. 10) water, but yielding none : so putting you in remembrance (ch. 1. 12, 13). Ye already their "great swelling words" are found on trial to be | know (v. 3): it is only needed that I remind you but " vanity" (v. 18). clouds-The oldest MSS. and (Jude, 5). 2. propbets-of the Old Testament of 1sversions read, "mists," dark, and not transparent and The oldest MSS, and Vulgate read, "And of the combright as “clouds" often are, whence the latter term | mandment of the Lord and Saviour (declared by is applied sometimes to the saints: fit emblem of the YOUR apostles" (so "apostle of the Gentiles," Romani. children of darkness. "Clouds" is a transcriber's cor-1l. 13) - the apostles cho live among you in the present rection from Jude, 12, where it is appropriate, "clouds | time, in contrast to the Old Testament "propbets. ...without water" (promising what they do not per- 1 3. Knowing this first-from the word of the apostles. form): but not here, "mists driven along by a tempest." shall come-their very scoffing shall confirm the truth mist- blackness: "the chilling horror accompanying of the prediction, ecotters - The oldest MSS. and darkness." (BENGEL.) 18. allare-Greek, "lay baits Vulgate add, " (scoffers) in lie., with) scofing." As for." throngh-Greek, "IN;" the lusts of the flesh be- Revelation, 14.2.“ Harping with harps." Walking after ing the element in wbich they lay their baits. much their own lasts-(ch. 2. 10; Judo, 16, 18.1 Their own wantonness - Greek, "by licentiousness :" the bait pleasure is their sole law, unrestrained by reverence which they lay. clean escaped - Greek, "realy," &c. ) for God. 4. (Cr. Psalm 10. 11; 73. 11.) Presumptuous But the oldest MSS. and Vulgate read, "scarcely," scepticism and lawless lust, setting nature and 1 or " for but a little time:" scarcely have they escaped so-called laws above the God of nature and revelation from them who live in error (the upgodly world), when and arguing from the past continuity of nature's they are allured by these seducers into sin again (v. 20). I phenomena that there can be no future interruption 19. promise...liberty-(Christian)-these promises are to them, was the sin of the antediluvians, and shall instances of their great swelling words" (v. 18). The be that of the scoffers in the last days. Where-Imple liberty which they propose is such as fears not Satan, ing that it ought to bave taken place before this, nor loathes the flesh. Pauline language, adopted by ever it was to take place, but that it pever will the Peter bere, and 1 Peter, 2. 16. Note; cf. ch. 3. 16; Ro- promise-which you, believers, are so continually look mans, 6. 16-22; 8. 15, 21: Galatians, 6. 1, 13; cf. John, ing for the fulfilment of (v. 13). What becomes of the 8. 34. corruption-Note, v. 12,"destroyed...perish...cor- I promise which you talk so much of his-Chriss: ruption." of whom " by whatever...by the same, &c." | the subject of prophecy from the earliest days. the 20. after they-the seducers " themselves" hare escaped fathers-to whom the promise was made, and to (v. 19 : Note, Hebrews, 6. 46), pollations-which bring / rested all their hopes on it. all things in the mit ** corruption" (v. 19). through Greek, "IN." know- tural world: sceptics look not beyond this. 26 let ledge-Greck, "full and accurate knowledge." the Lord were - continue as they do; As we see them to co and Saviour Jesus Christ-solemnly expressing in full tipue. From the time of the propise of Christ's callthe great and gracious One from whom they fall. latter | ing as Saviour and King being given to the fathers end is worse...than the beginning - Peter remembers | down to the present time, all things continue, led Christ's words. "Worse" stands opposed to "better" | have continued, as they nono are, from the begit (v. 21). 21. the way of righteousness—" the way of ning of creation." The "scoffers" here are not nece truth" (v. 2). Christian doctrine, and "the knowledge | sarily atheists, nor do they maintain that the world of the Lord and Saviour." turn-back again: 80 the existed from eternity. They are willing to recognie Greek. from the holy commandment-the gospel which a God, but not the God of revelation. They reason enjoins holiness: in opposition to their corruption, from seeming delay against the fulalment of God "Holy," not that it makes holy, but because it ought word at all. 5. Refutation of their scoffing fra to be kept inviolate. (TJTTMANN.) delivered once Scripture history. willingly wilfully: they do not for all: admitting no turning back. 22. But-Yon Deed wish to know. Their ignorance is voluntary. not wonder at the event; for dogs and swine they were ...are ignorant of-In contrast to v. 8, "Be pot ignons before, and dogs and swipe they will continue. They of this." Lit., in both verses, "This escapes TEEB ** scarcely" (v. 18) bave escaped from their filthy folly. notice (sagacious philosopbers thongh they think when they again are entangled in it. Then they seduce themselves :" "let this not escape YOUR Dotice. others who have in like manner "for a little time They obstinately shut their eyes to the Scripture escaped from them that live in error" (v. 18). Peter cord of the creation and the deluge: the latter is to often quoted Proverbs in his first epistle (1.7: 2. 17: | very parallel to the coming judgment by fire, stie 4. 8. 18): another proof that both epistles come from Jesus mentions, as Peter doubtless remembered. the same writer.
the word of God not by & fortuitous concurrence CHAPTER III.
atoms. (ALFORD.] of old-Greek, “from of old.fr Ver. 1-18. SURENESS OF CHRIST'S COMING, AND ITS the first beginning of all things. A confutation of the ACCOMPANIMENTS, DECLARED IN OPPOSITION TO objection, "all things continue as they were TROX TER SCOFFERS ABOUT TO ARISE. God's LONG-SUFFER- BEGINNING OF CREATION." Before the flood. ING A MOTIVE TO REPENTANCE, AS PAUL'S EPISTLES same objection to the possibility of the flood mig SET FORTU: CONCLUDING EXHORTATION TO GROWTH have been urged with the same plausibility: 15
Refutation of the Scoffers.
2 PETER, III.
Burning of the Hearens and Earth.
heavens (sky) and earth have been FRON OF OLD, number of those appointed to "salvation" (v. 16) shall how unlikely then that they should not continue so. be completed. to us-ward-The oldest MSS., Vulgate. But, replies Peter, the flood came in spite of their Syriac, &c., read, "towards you." any-not desiring reasonings; so will the conflagration of the earth come that any, yea, even that the scoffers, should perish. in spite of the "scoffers" of the last days, changing the which would be the result if He did not give space whole order of things (the present "world,” or as for repentance, come-oo and be received to repentGreek means,"order"), and introducing the new ance: the Greek implies, there is room for their being heavens and earth (v. 13). earth standing out of received to repentance (cf. Greek, Mark, 2. 2; John, 8. Greek, “consisting of," i.e., "formed out of the water." 37). 10. The certainty, suddenness, and concomitant The waters under the firmament were at creation effects, of the coming of the day of the Lord. FABER gathered together into one place, and the dry land argues from this that the millennium, &c., must emerged out of, and above them. in -rather, “by precede Christ's literal coming. not follow it. But means of the water." as a great instrument (along with "the day of the Lord" comprehends the whole series fire) in the changes wrought on the earth's surface to l of events, beginning with the pre-millennial advent. prepare it for man. Held together By the water. The and ending with the destruction of the wicked, and earth arose out of the water by the efficacy of the water final conflagration, and general judgment (which last itsell. (TITTMAxx.] 6. Whereby-Greek, "By which intervenes between the conflagration and the renova (plural). By means of rohich heavens and earth (in tion of the earth. will-Emphatical. But in spite of respect to the WATERS which flowed together from the mockers, and notwithstanding the delay) come and both) the then-world perished (i.e., in respect to its oc be present the day of the Lord SHALL. as a thief-Peter cupants, men and animals, and its then existing order: remembers and repeats His Lord's image (Luke, 12. not was annihilated): for in the flood "the fountains | 39, 41) used in the conversation in which he took a of the great deep were broken up" from the earth (1.) part: so also Paul (1 Thessalonians, 6. 2) and John (Rebelow, and "the windows of heaven" (2.) above “were velation, 3. 3; 16. 15), the heavens-which the scoffers opened." The earth was deluged by that water out of say shall "continue" as they are (v. 4; Matthew, 24, 35; which it had originally risen. 7. (Cf. Job. 28. 6. end.) | Revelation, 21, 1), with a great noise-with a rushing which are now-"the postdiluvian visible world." In noise, like that of a rohizzing arrow, or the crash of a contrast to "that then was," v. 6. the same - Other devouring flame. elements-the component materials of oldest MSS. read, “His" (God's). kept in store-Greek, the world. (WAUL] However, as "the works" in the ** treasured up." reserved - "kept." It is only God's earth are mentioned separately from "the earth," so constantly watchful providence which holds together it is likely by "elements," mentioned after "the the present state of things till His time for ending it. heavens," are meant "the works therein,' viz., the 8. be not ignorant-as those scoffers are (v. 5). Besides sun, moon, and stars as Theophilus of Antioch, p. 22, the refutation of them (v. 6-7) drawn from the history | 148, 228; and Justin Martyr, Apology. 2. 44, use the of the deluge, here he adds another (addressed more to word "elements"): these, as at creation, so in the believers than to the mockers), God's delay in fulfilling | destruction of the world, are mentioned. (BENOEL.) His promise is not like men's delays, owing to inability | But as "elements" is not so used in Scripture Greek, or fickleness in keeping His word, but through “long-perhaps it refers to the component materials of "the suffering." this one thing as the consideration of chief heavens," including the heavenly bodies; it clearly beimportance (Luke, 10. 42). one day...thousand years longs to the former clause, “the heavens," not to the Psalm 90. 4: Moses there says, Thy eternity, knowing following. " the earth,* &c. melt-be dissolved, as in no distinction between a thousand years and a day, is v. 11. the works... therein--of nature and of art. 11. the refuge of us creatures of a day. Peter views | Your duty, seeing that this is so, is to be ever eagerly God's eternity in relation to the last day : that day expecting the day of God. then-Some oldest MSS. seems to us, short-lived beings, long in coming, but substitute "thus" for " then:" a happy refutation of with the Lord the interval is irrespective of the idea the "thus" of the scoffers, v. 4 (English Version, "As of long or short. His eternity exceeds all measures they were," Greek, "thus). shall be - Greek, "are of time: to His divine knowledge all future things are being in God's appointment, soon to be fulolled) dispresent: His power requires not long delays for the solved;" the present tense implying the certainty as performance of His work: His long-suffering excludes though it were actually present. what manner of men all impatient expectation and eager haste, such as we-Exclamatory. How watchful, prayerful, zealous ! maen feel He is equally blessed in one day and in a to be-pot the mere Greek substantive verb of exist. thousand years. He can do the work of a thousand ence (einai), but (huparchein) denoting & state or conyears in one day: so in v. 9 it is said, “He is not slack,"dition in which one is supposed to be. (TITTMANN,) i.e., “slow." He has always the power to fulfil His What holy men ye ought to be found to be, when the * promise." thousand years as one day-no delay whicheveut comes! This is "the holy commandinent" menOccurs is long to God: as to a man of countless riches, I tioned in v. 2. conversation...godliness - Greek plural: 3 thousand guineas are as a single penny. God's Behaviours (towards men). godlinesses (or pieties toceonologe (eternal-ages-measurer) differs wholly from wards God) in their manifold modes of manifestation. unen's horologe (hourglass). His gnomon (dial-pointer) 12. hasting unto - with the utmost eagerness desiring shows all the hours at once is the greatest activity and (WAHL), praying for, and contemplating, the coming in perfect repose. To Him the hours pass away. Saviour as at hand. The Greek may mean "bastening neither more slowly, por more quickly, than betits (1.6., urging onward (ALFORD]) the day of God;" not His economy. There is nothing to make Him need that God's eternal appointment of the time is changeeither to basten or delay the end. The words, "with able, but God appoints us as instruments of accomthe Lord" (Psalm 90.4,"In thy sight"), silence all man's I plishing those events which must be first before the day obiections on the ground of his incapability of under of God can come. By praying for His coming, further standing this. (BENGEL) .slack-slow, tardy, late; | ing the preaching of the gospel for a witness to all na exceeding the due time, as though that time were tions, and bringing in those whom “the long-sufferalready come. Hebrews, 10. 37, “Will not tarry." | ing of God" waits to save, we hasten the coming of bis promise - which the scoffers cavil t. Ver. 4. the day of God. The Greek verb is always in New "Where is the promise. It shall be surely fulfilled Testament used as Neuter (as English Version here). ** according to His promise" (v. 13). some-the scos- not Active; but the LXX. use it actively. Christ says, fers." count-His promise to be the result of "slack "Surely I come quickly. Amen." Our part is to speed Dess" (tardiness). long-suffering-waiting until the full forward this consummation by praying. "Even so.
Things Hard to be Understood
2 PETER, U.
by the Spiritually Unlearned. come, Lord Jesus." the coming-Greek, "presence of showing that certain definite churches, or particular a person: usually, of the Saviour. the day of God-God classes of believers, are meant by "you." in which has given many myriads of days to men: ope shall be epistles. The oldest MSS. read the feminine relative the great "day of God" Himself. wberein-rather as hais); not as Received text Chois)." in which things." Greek, " on account of lor owing to) which' day. hea- some things hard to be understood-riz., in reference to vens- the npper and lower regions of the sky, melt- Christ's coming, e... the statements as to the man of Onr igneous rocks show that they were once in a liquid sin and the apostasy, before Christ's coming. "Paul state. 13. Nevertheless - "But:" in contrast to the seemed thereby to delay Christ's coming to a longer destructive effects of the day of God stand its con- period than the other apostles, whence some doubted structive effects. As the flood was the baptism of the altogether His coming." (BENGEL) Though there be earth, eventuating in a renovated earth, partially de- some things hard to be understood, there are enough livered from "the curse," so the baptism with fire / besides plain, easy, and sufficient for perfecting the man shall purify the earth so as to be the renovated abode of God. "There is scarce anything drawn from the of regenerated man, wholly freed from the curse, his obscure places, but the same in other places may be promise - (Isaiah, 66, 17; 66. 22.) The "we" is not found most plain." (AUGUSTINE.) It is our own preemphatical as in English Version. new heavens-new judice, foolish expectations, and carnal fancies, that atmospheric heavens surrounding the renovated earth, make Scripture difficult. (JEREMY TAYLOR) righteousness - dwelleth in that coming world as its learurd - Not those wanting human learning are essential feature, all pollutions having been removed. | meant, but those lacking the learning imparted by the 14. that ye...be found of him "in His sight" (ALFORD). Spirit. The humanly learned have been often most at His coming : plainly implying a personal coming. deficient in spiritual learning, and have origiasted without spot - at the coming marriage feast of the many heresies. Cr. 2 Timothy. 2. 23. A different Lamb, in contrast to ch. 2, 13, “Spots they are and Greek word, "unlearned," lit., "untutored." When blemishes while they feast," not having on the King's religion is studied as a science, nothing is more ab pure wedding garment. blameless-(1 Corinthians, 1. 8: | struse; when studied in order to know our duty and Philippians, 1, 10; 1 Thessalonians, 3. 13; 6. 23.) in I practise it, nothing is easier, unstable--not yet esta peace--in all its aspects, towards God, your own con- blished in what they have learned; sbaken by every sciences, and your fellowmen, and as its consequence seeming difficulty; who, in perplexing texts, instead of eternal blessedness; "the God of peace" will effect waiting until God by His Spirit make tbem plain in this for you, 15. account...the long-suffering...is saiva-comparing them with other Scriptures, bastily adopt tion-9 designed for the salvation of those yet to be distorted views. wrest - strain and twist (properly gathered into the church: whereas those scoffers with a hand-screw) what is straight in itsell, es ** count it to be the result of) slackness" on the Lord's 2 Timothy, 2. 18. Other scriptures-Paul's epistles vere. part (0.9). our beloved brother Paul - A beautiful in- | therefore, by this time, recognised in the church, 86 stance of love and humility. Peter praises the very "Scripture:" a term never applied in any of the fifty epistles which contain his condemnation. according to places where it occurs, save to the Old and New the wisdom given unto him - Adopting Paul's own Testament sacred writings. Men in each church bav language, 1 Corinthians, 3. 10. " According to the grace ing miraculous discernments of spirits would have of God which is giren unto me as a wise master prevented any uninspired writing from being put on a builder.“ Supernatural and inspired wisdom "GIVEN" par with the Old Testament word of God: the him, not acquired in human schools of learning. bath | apostles' lives also were providentially prolonged, written-Greek aorist, "wrote," as a thing wholly past: Paul and Peter's at least to thirty-four years after Paul was by this time either dead, or had ceased to Christ's resurrection, John's to thirty years later, 50 minister to them to you - Galatians, Ephesians, that fraud in the canon is out of question. The three Colossians, the same region as Peter addresses. Cf. first Gospels and Acts are included in " the other ** in peace," o. 14, a practical exhibition of which Peter Scriptures," and perhaps all the New Testament DOW gives in showing how perfectly agreeing Paul (who books, save John and Revelation, written later. unte wrote the epistle to the Galatians) and he are, not their own destruction-not through Paul's fault (ch. 1.1. withstanding the event recorded Galatians, 2. 11-14. 17. Ye-Warned by the case of those "unlearned si Colossians, 3. 4, refers to Christ's second coming. The unstable persons (v. 16), knowing... before the event. epistle to the Hebrews, too (addressed not only to the led away with the very term, as Peter remembers, Palestinian, but also secondarily to the Hebrew used by Paul of Barnabas' being “carried," Greek, led Christians everywhere), may be referred to, as Peter away with, Peter and the other Jews in their hypocris. primarily though not exclusively) addresses in both wicked --" lawless," as in ch. 2. 7. tall from-grace. epistles the Hebrew Christians of the dispersion (Note, Galatians, 6. 4: the true source of) "stedfastnesi 1 Peter, 1. 1). Hebrews, 9. 27, 28: 10. 25, 37, "speak of or stability in contrast with the "unstable" it. & these things" (v. 16) which Peter has been handling." established" (ch. 1. 12): all kindred Grect terms. viz., the coming of the day of the Lord, delayed Cf. Jude, 20, 21. 18. grow-Not only do nos fall fros through His “long-suffering." yet near and sudden, (0, 17), but grow onward: the true secret of not goi 16. also in all his epistles-Romans, 2. 4, is very similar backward. Ephesians, 4. 15. “Grow up into Him, the to , 16 beginning. The Pauline epistles were by this Head, Christ." grace and...knowledge of Christ time become the common property of all the churches. I grace and knowledge of Christ" (ALFORD richthyl: the The "all" seems to imply they were now completed. grace of which Christ is the author, and the barried The subject of the Lord's coming is handled, 1 Thes- of which Christ is the object for ever-Ordi salonians, 4, 13,-5, 11; cf. v. 10, with 1 Thessalonians," to the day of eternity :" the day that has no od: 5. 2. Still Peter distinguishes Pani's epistle, or the day of the Lord," beginning with the long epistles," TO YOU." from "all bis (otheri epistles," | coming.
THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF
INTRODUCTION. AUTORSHIP.-Polyenrp, the disciple of John (ad Philippenses, c. 7), quotes ch.4.3. Eusebins, Ecclesiastical History,
8. 39, says of Papias, a hearer of John, and frieust of Polycarp, "He used testimonies from the first epistle of John." Irenens, according to Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 5. 8, often quoted this epistle. So in his work against heresies (3. 15. 5,8) he quotes from John by Dame, ch. 2. 18, &c.; and in 3. 16.7, he quotes ch. 4. 1-3; 5. 1, and 3 Joha, 7, 8. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 2. 68, P. 464, refers to ch. 3. 16, as in John's larger epistle. See other quotations, Stromala, 3. 32, 42; 4102, Tertullian, adversus Marcion, 5, 16, refers to ch.41, &c.; adversus Praxean, c. 15, to 1 John, 1.). See his other quotations, c. 28; and contra Gnosticos, 12. Cyprian, Epistle 28 (24), quotes, as John's, ch. % 3, 4; and de Oratione Domini, 5., quotes ch. 2. 15-17; and de Opere and Eleemos, ch. 1. 8; and de Bono Patientiae, 2., quotes ch. 2. 6. Muratori's fragment on the canon states, " There are two of John (the gospel and epistle ?) esteemed Catholic," and quotes ch. 1. 3. The Peschito Syriac contains it Origen in Eusebirus, 6. 25, speaks of the first epistle as genuine, and "probably the second and third, though all do not recognise the latter two:" on the Gospel of John, tom. 13., vol. 2, he quotes ob. 1. 5. Dionysius of Alex. andria, Origen's scholar, cites the words of this epistle as those of the Evangelist John. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3. 24, maye, John's first epistle and gospel are acknowledged without question by those of the present day, as well as by the anciente. So also Jerome, in Catalogus Ecclesiasticorum Scriptorum. The opposition of Cosmas Indicopleustes, in the sixth century, and that of Marcion, because our epistle was inconsistent with his views, are of no weight against such irrefragable testimony.
The internal evidence is equally strong. Neither the gospel, nor our epistle, can be pronounced an imitation; yet both, in style and modes of thought, are evidently of the same mind. The individual notices are not so numerous or obvious as in Paul's writings, as was to be expected in a Catholic epistle; bat such as there are, accord with John's position. He implies his apostleship, and perhaps alludes to his gospel, and the affectionate tie which bound him as an aged pastor to his spiritual "children;" and in ch. 2. 18, 19; 4. 1.3, he alludes to the false teachers as known to his readers; and in ch. 5. 91, warns them against the idols of the surrounding world. It is no objection against its authenticity, that the doctrine of the Word, or Divine second person, existing from everlasting, and in due time made flesh, appears in it, as also in the gospel, as opposed to the heresy of the Docetae in the second century, who denied that our Lord is come in the flesh, and maintained He came only in outward semblance ; for the same doctrine appears in Colossians, 1. 15-18; 1 Timothy, 3. 16; Hebrews, 1. 1-3; and the germs of docetism, though not fully developed till the second century, were in existence in the first The Spirit, presciently through John, puts the church beforehand on its guard against the coming heresy.
TO WHOM ADDRESSED.-Augustine, Quæst. Evang., 2. 39, says this epistle was written to the Parthians. Bede, in a prologue to the seven Catholio epistles, says that Athanasius attests the same. By the Parthians may be meant the Christians living beyond the Euphrates in the Parthian territory, outside the Roman empire, "the church at Babylon elected together with the churches in the Ephesian region, the quarter to which Peter addressed his epistles. As Peter addressed the flock wbich John subsequently tended (and in which Paul had formerly ministered), so John, Peter's close companion after the ascension, addresses the flock among whom Peter had been when he wrote. Thus " the elect lady answers to the church elected together." See further confirmation of this view in Introduction to 2 Joha. It is pot necessarily an objection to this view, that John never is known to have personally ministered in the Parthian terri. tory. For peither did Peter personally minister to the churches in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, Bithynia, thongh he wrote his epistles to them. Moreover, in John's prolonged life, we cannot dogmatically assert that he did not visit the Parthian Christians, after Peter had ceased to minister to them, on the mere ground of absence of extant testi. mony to that effect. This is as probable a view as Alford's, &c., that in the passage of Augustine, "to the Parthians," is to be altered by conjectural emendation, and that the epistle is addressed to the churches at and around Ephesus, on the ground of the fatherly tone of affectionate address in it, implying his personal ministry among his readers. But hig position, as probably the only surviving apostle, accords very well with his addressing, in a Catholic epistle, a cycle of churches which he may not have specially ministered to in person, with affectionate fatherly counse), by virtue of his general apostolio superintendence of all the churches,
TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING.-This epistle seems to have been written subsequently to his gospel, as it assames the readers' acquaintance with the gospel facts and Christ's speeches, and also with the special aspect of the incarnato Word, as God manifest in the flesh, set forth more fully in his gospel. The tone of address, as a father addressing his "little children" (the continually-recurring term), accords with the view that this epistle was written in John's old age, per haps about 90 A.D. In ch. 2. 18, * It is the last time," probably does not refer to any particular event, as the destruction of Jerusalem, which was now many years past, but refers to the nearness of the Lord's coming as proved by the rise of anti-Christian teachers, the mark of the last time. It was the Spirit's purpose to keep the church always expecting Christ as ready to come at any moment. The whole Christian age is the last time in the sense that no other dispensation is to arise till Christ comes Cr. “these last days," Hebrews, 1.2 Ephesus may be conjectured to be the place whence it wag written, The controversial allusions to the germs of Gnostic beresy, accord with Asia Minor being the place, and the last part of the apostolie age the time, of writing this epistle.
CONTENTS.-The leading subject of the whole is, fellowship with the Father and the Son (ch. 1. 3). Two principal divisions may be noted, (1.) ch. 1. 5,-2.98: the theme of this portion is stated at the outset, "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all;" consequently, in order to have fellowship with Him, we must walk in light; connected with which is the confession and subsequent forgiveness of our sins through Christ's propitiation and advocacy, without which forgiveness there could be no light or fellowship with God: a further step in thus walking in the light is, positively keeping God's com. mariments, the sum of which is love, as opposed to hatred, the acme of disobedience to God's word : negatively, he exhorts thern according to their several stages of spiritual growth, chudren, fathers, young men, in consonance with their privileges as forgiven, knowing the father, and having overcome the wicked one, not to love the world, which is incompatible with the indwelling of the love of the Father, and to be on their guard against the anti-Christian teachers already in the world, who were not of the church, but of the world, against whom the true defence is, that his believing readers who have the anointing of God, should continue to abile in the Son and in the Father. (2) The second division (ch. 2. 29,-5. 5) discuss the theme with which it opens, "He is righteous;" 000sequently (as in the first division), "every one that docth righteousness is Introduction.
born of Him." Sonship in us involves our purifying ourselves as He is pure, even as we hope to see, and therefore to be marle like our Lord when He shall appear : in this second, as in the first division, both a positive and a negative side are presented of "doing righteousness as He is righteous," involving a contrast between the children of God and the chil. dren of the devil. Hatred marks the latter; love, the former: this love gives assurance of acceptance with God for our selves and our prayers, accompanied as they are (s. 23) with obedience to His great commandment, to believe on Jesus, and love one another:" the seal (v. 24) of His dwelling in us and assuring our hearts, is the Spirit which He hath girea 128 la contrast to this (as in the first division), he warns against false spirits, the notes of which are, denial of Christ, and a herence to the world. Sonship, or birth of God is, then, more fully described: its essential feature is unslavish free low to God, because God Arst loved 18, and gave His Son to die for us, and consequent love to the brethren, grounded on their being Sons of God also like ourselves, and so victory over the world: this victory being gained only by the man who below in Jan as the Son of God. (2.) The conclusion establishes this last central truth, on which rests our fellowship with God, Chefs having come by the toater of baptism, the blood of atonement, and the witnessing Spirit, which is truth. As in the opening, he rested this cardinal truth on the apostles' witness of the eye, the ear, and the touch, so now at the close be rests it on God's witness, which is accepted by the believer, in contrast with the unbeliever who mnaten God a har. Tben follow his cloning statement of his reason for writing (oh. 5. 18; cf. the corresponding ch. 1. 4, at the beginning), namely, that were in Christ the Son of God may know that they have now already) eternal life (the source of joy," eh. 1. 4; of similarly bia object in writing the gospel, John, . 31), and so have confidence as to their prayers being answered (corresponding to e. 3. 2 in the second part); for instance, their intercessions for a sinning brotha (unless his sin be a rin imto death Be closes with a brief summing up of the instruction of the epistle, the high diguity, sanctity, and safety from evil, of the children of God, in contrast to the sinful world, and a warning against idolatry, literal and spiritual: "Keep yourselres from idols.*
Though the epistle is not directly polemical, the occasion which suggested his writing was probably the rise of ant Christian teachers; and, because he knew the spiritual character of the sereral classes whom he addresses, children, youth fathers, he feels it necessary to write to confirm them in the faith and joyful fellowship of the Father and Son, and to sur them of the reality of the things they believe, that so they may hare the full privileges of believing
STYLE.-His peculiarity is fondness for aphorism and repetition. His tendency to repeat his own phrases arises partis from the affectionate, hortatory character of the epistle; partly, also, from its Hebraistic form, abounding in parallel clauses, as distinguished from the Grecian and more logical style of Paul; also, from his child-like simplicity of spirit which, full of his one grand theme, repeats, and dwells on it, with fond delight and enthusiasm. Moreover, as Alford wch says, the appearance of uniformity is often produced by want of deep enough exegesis to discover the real differences in passages which seem to express the same. Contemplative, rather than argumentative, he dwells more on the general, than on the particular, on the inner, than on the outer Christian life. Certain fundamental truths he recurs again and again to, at one time enlarging on, and applying them, at another time repeating them in their condensed simplicity. The thoughts do not march onward by successive steps, as in the logical style of Paul, but rather in cireles drama found one central thought which he reiterates, ever reverting to it, and viewing it, now under its positive, now under its negative aspect. Many terms which in the gospel are given as Christ's, in the epistle appear as the favourite expressions of Johann naturally adopted from the Lord. Thus the contrasted terms, "flesh" and "spirit, "light" and "darkness, it and “death," "abide in Him:" " fellowship with the Father and Son, and with one another," is a farourite plirase also. not found in the gospel, but in Acts, and Paul's epistles. In him appears the harmonious union of opposites, adapting bim for his bigh functions in the kingdom of God, contemplative repose of character, and at the same time ardent seal, cu bined with burning, all-absorbing love; less adapted for active outward work, such as Paul's, than for spiritual service. He handles Christian verities pot as abstract dogmas, but as living realities, personally enjoyed in fellowship with God in Christ, and with the brethren. Simple, and at the same time profound, his writing is in consonance with his spirit, eurde torical, and updialectic, gentle, consolatory, and loving: the reflexion of the Spirit of Him in whose brunst he lay at the last supper, and whose beloved disciple be was. Ewald in AVord, speaking of the "unruffled and heavenly repose" wbida characterize this epistle, says, “It appears to be the tone, not so much of a father talking with his beloved children, of a glorified saint addressing mankind from a higher world Never in any writing has the doctrine of heavenly love, love working in stillness, ever unwearied, never exbausted, so thoroughly approved itself, as in this epistle.
JOHN'S PLACE IN THE BUILDING UP OF THE CHURCH.-As Peter founded, and Paul propagated, so Jela completed the spiritual building. As the Old Testament puts prominently forward the fear of God, su John, the last writer of the New Testament, gives prominenoe to the low of God. Yet, as the Old Testament is not all limited to prekosis the fear of God, but sets forth also His love, so John, as a representative of the New Testament, whilst breathing so 006 tinually the spirit of love, gives also the plainest and most awful warnings against sin, in aocordance with his original bar acter as Boanerges, son of thunder." His mother was Salome, mother of the sons of Zebedee, probably sister to Jest mother (cf. John, 19.25, "His mother's sister," with Matthew, X. 56; Mark, 15. 40), so that he was cousin of our Lord; his mother, under God, he may have owed bis first serious impressions. Expecting, as she did, the Messianic kingdes glory, as appears from her petition (Matthew, 20. 20-93), she doubtless tried to fill his young and ardent mind with the same hope. Neander distinguishes three leading tendencies in the development of the Christian doctrine, the Pauline the Jacobean (between which the Petrine forms an intermediate link), and the Johannean, John, in common with Jasse was less disposed to the intellectual and dialectio onst of thought which distinguishes Paul He had not, like the apostie the Gentiles, been brought to faith and peace through severe conflict; but, like James, had reached his Christina is dividuality through a quiet development: James however, bad passed through a moulding in Judaism previously, which under the Spirit, caused him to present Christian truth in connexion with the law, in so far as the latter in its par though not letter, is permanent, and not abolished, but established under the gospel. But John, from the Erst, a drawn his whole spiritual development from the personal view of Christ, the model man, and from intercours # Him. Hence, in his writings, every thing turns on one simple contrast: divide life in communion with Christ; death 1 separation from Him, as appears from his characteristic phrases, "life, light, truth; death, darkness, lie. As J and Peter mark the gradual transition from spiritualised Judaism to the independent development of Chreticin, and as Paul represents the independent development of Christianity in opposition to the Jewish stand-point, et enteinplative element of John reconciles the two, and forms the e'o ing point in the training of the ar astolic che (Neander.]