Ver. 1. The ancient priest, or bishop. See 1 Pet. v. 1.
--- To the lady Elect. Some conjecture that elect might be the name of a family, or of a particular church; but the common opinion is, that it was the proper name of a virtuous lady.
--- Whom I love in truth, with a sincere Christian charity as well as her children. By reason of the truth, or the true faith, that abideth in us. Wi.
SECOND EPISTLE OF S. JOHN,
This Second and Third Epistles of S. John were not at first received as canonical by all Churches. See Euseb. and S. Jerom, in Catalogo, and Tillemont, art. 9, on S. John, p. 349. The style sufficiently shews they were written by S. John the evangelist. The time and place whence they were written is uncertain. The design in both is to exhort those he writes to, to stand firm in the faith of Christ against all seducing heretics, to love one another, &c. Wi.
--- But though these last two Epistles of the beloved apostle were frequently contested till the fourth or fifth century, from that period they have been regularly received; and even during the first ages, they were frequently cited by many of the holy Fathers as Catholic Scripture. This short Epistle may still be divided into two parts. The first, a congratulation to the lady he styles Elect, in which he felicitates her on account of the faith and virtue he had discovered in some of her children. He exhorts both them and their mother to be more and more confirmed in charity, as the essential and fundamental precept of Christianity, and of which the unequivocal mark is the observance of the other commandments. This part is from the beginning to v. 6, inclusive. The second, which begins with v. 7, and continues to the end, is to put them on their guard against the errors of Simon, of Cerinthus, of the Gnostics, and of Basilides, and prescribes the manner how they are to behave themselves towards these seducers. Though the time and place be uncertain, there is some appearance that it was written from Ephesus, when the apostle governed this Church and all the others of Asia.
Ver. 6. This is the rule of a Christian and Catholic to walk in that faith and worship which he hath received from the beginning, and which we now call according to the Scriptures, the tradition of the apostles. Thus shall the faithful avoid seducers that start up in every age, teaching new doctrines. B.
Ver. 7. Many seducers are gone out into the world; antichrists, who confess not Christ to have come in the flesh. These were the disciples of Simon, the Cerinthians, Ebionites, &c. See 1 John ii. 18. Wi.
Ver. 8-9. We here see the reward for adhering to the Catholic faith, and the condemnation for revolting from the received truth. The apostles, and their lawful successors in the ministry, determine the true doctrine in points which innovators call into controversy, which being once done and declared to the faithful, they need no other mark to know a false teacher, but that he cometh with another doctrine than that which has been delivered.
Ver. 10. Nor say to him, Hail; or peace be to you, God speed you, all hail; or use any form of saluting him, as you would a friend, much less receive or entertain him in your house: this admonition is in general to forewarn persons of the dangers which may arise from a familiarity with heretics, and such as teach evil doctrine. But by this is not forbidden civility, kindness, and a sincere charity for all men, by which we ought to wish and pray for the eternal salvation of every one. I translate Ave by peace be to you, because this was the usual salutation among the Jews, and in those times, as we see Luke xxiv. and John xx.