THIRD EPISTLE OF JOHN.
Completed by Mr. T. Reynolds.
CHRISTIAN communion is exerted and cherished by letter. Christians are to be commended m the practical proof of their professed subjection to the .gospel of Christ. The animating and countenancing of generous and public-spirited persons, is doing good to many — ^To this end, the apK>stle sends this en- couraging epistle to his mend Gaius, in which also he complains of the quite opposite spirit and prac- tice of a certain minister, and confirms the good report concerning another more worthy to be imitated.
In this epistle the apostle coni^atulates Gaius upon the pros- perity of his soul; (v. 1, 2.) upon the fame he had among good Christians; (v. 3, 4.) and upon his chariij and hos- pitality to the serrants of Christ, r. 5, 6. He complains of contemptuous treatment by an ambitious Diotrephes, t. 9, 10. Recommends Demetrius, r. 12. And hopes to rlsit Gaius shortly, 7. 13, 14.
1.THE elder unto the well-beloved JL Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 2. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. Here we see, 1. The sacred penman who writes and sends the letter ; not here indeed notified by his name, but a more general character — The elder ; he that is so by years and by office : honour and defer- ence are due to both. Some have questioned whe- ther this were John the ap)ostle or no : but his stvle and spirit seem to shine therein. They that are be- loved of Christ, will love the brethren for his sake. Gaius could not question fix>m whom the letter came. The apostle might have assumed manv more illustrious characters, but it becomes not Christ's ministers to affect swelling pompous titles. He al- most levels himself with the more ordinar- pastors of the church, while he styles himself — Tlie elder. Or, possibly, most of the extraordinary ministers, the apostles, were now dead, and this holy surivor would countenance the continued standing ministry, by assuming the more common title — The elder. The elders I exhort , zoho am alio an elder, 1 Pet. 5. 1. . The p>erson saluted and honoured by the let- ter ; the former was directed to an elect lady, this to a choice gentleman ; such are worthy of es- teem and value : he is notified, (1.) By his name. Gains. We read of several of that name, particu- larly of one whom the apostle Paul baptised at Co- rinth, who possibly might be also the apostle's host and kmd entertainer there ; (Rom. 16. 23.) if thia be not he, it is his brother in name, estate, and dis- position- Then, (2.) By the kind expressions of the apostle to him — the ivell-belo-ved, and ivhom I love in the truth. Love expressed is wont to kindle love. Here seems to be either the sincerity of the apos- tle's love, or the religion of it ; the sincerm- of it — vfh'jm I love in timth, whom I truly cordially love; the religion of it — vjhom I love in the truth, for the truth's sake, as abiding and walk'mg in the truth, as it 18 in Jesus. To love our friends for the truth's sake, is true love, religious gospel-love. . The salutation or greeting; containing a prarer, introduced by an affectionate compellation — Bel^ ved, thou beloved one in Christ. The minister whc would gain love, must shew it himselt Here is, (1.) The apostle's good opinion of his friend, that his soul fir osfiered. There is such a thing as vjul-firtj*- fierity — the greatest blessing on this side heaven; this supposes regeneration, and an inward fiind of spiritual life ; this stock is increasing, and while spiritual treasures are advancing, the soul is in a fair way to the kingdom of glory. (2. ) His good wish for his friend, that his bNody may firotfier and be in health as well as his soul. Grace and health are two rich companions ; grace will impiDve health, health will employ grace ; it frequently falls out that a rich soul is lodged in a crazy bodv ; grace must be exercised in submission to such a dispensa- tion ; but we may well wish and pray that they who have firosperoua scula, may have healthfiil bodies too ; there grace will shine in a larger sphere of ac- tivity. . For I rejoiced greatly, when the bre- thren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. 4. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 Beloved