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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

3 John

Book Overview - 3 John

by Matthew Poole

THE ARGUMENT

Some question there hath been concerning the penman of this Epistle, and some have thought that Jude the apostle was not the man, whoever were;

1. Because he doth not give himself the title of apostle: but that is objected against James too, and hath been already answered.

2. Because the writer of this Epistle speaks of himself as coming after the apostles, Jude 1:17. But what necessity is there for his coming behind them in office and authority, because he doth in time?

3. Because he mentions the contention about the body of Moses, and the prophecy of Enoch, which are no where to be found in Scripture. But when there were divers traditions among the Jews, (whereof this about Moses's body seems to be one), why might not the Holy Ghost assert some that were true (though before doubtful) by this apostle, and make them certain, as well as he doth by Paul the names of Jannes and Jambres, 2 Timothy 3:8 , which were known only by tradition; and Moses's quaking and fearing at Mount Sinai, Hebrews 12:21, whereof no mention had been made in the Scripture? As for the prophecy of Enoch, it seems to have been a tradition too, (for he mentions no writing), and then the same may be said as to the other. Yet if it were a book, and an apocryphal one too, his citing of it doth not make it to be canonical; for Jude might as well cite a passage out of an apocryphal writer, as Paul doth several out of heathen authors, Acts 17:28, 1 Corinthians 15:33, Titus 1:12. And:

4. Because much of this Epistle seems to be transcribed out of 2 Peter 2:1-22 , and therefore not to be dictated by the Spirit. But to this it may be said, that though many passages in this Epistle agree with what Peter speaks, yet there is so much difference in the whole, that it is plain they are not transcribed thence. And yet why might not the Spirit dictate the same truths to several penmen, either to be published to several persons, or the same persons at different times? Most of Obadiah's prophecy is to be found in Jeremiah's; Psalms 60:1-12 is in a great part the same with Psalms 108:1-13, and Psalms 14:1-7 the same with Psalms 53:1-6; and Paul by the same Spirit wrote many of the same things to the Ephesians, and to the Colossians. And what is alleged of the ancients questioning the authority of this Epistle, it is not so considerable, as it might be alleged, even out of them, for the confirmation of it.

Sure we may say, the spirit of an apostle breathes in this as well as in others; the same majesty, purity, and efficacy appear in it, and whatever may evidence its Divine authority. It is written to the Christian Jews. The matter of it agrees very much with 2 Peter 2:1-22, and the scope is mostly the same, viz. to arm them against those who, by their wicked errors and wicked manners, secretly and slily brought in, might infect them, and seduce them into the same wickedness with themselves, whereby they might be exposed to the same judgment, which he pronounceth were like to come upon such.