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If we take note of what is most peculiar in them, we cannot help seeing that their main purpose is to insist that with certain members of the Christian Church communion must be ended. We read in 2 Jn. 10 f.: “If any one cometh unto you, and bringeth not this (the right) teaching, receive him not into your house and give him no greeting: for he that giveth him greeting partaketh in his evil works.” Here the Gnostics are intended who are called in verse 9 people who “go onward.”

In the Third Epistle the opposition to these is less perceptible; there was less opportunity, for the occasion for this Epistle was provided by disputes between the author and a certain Diotrephes as to the authoritative influence in the community. “I wrote somewhat unto the Church; but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among 213them, receiveth us not . . . neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and them that would he forbiddeth, and casteth them out of the Church” (3 Jn. 9 f.). These brethren are therefore travelling Christians, who belong to the party of the author. The idea of the Epistle is to request Gaius, to whom it is addressed, to receive them kindly. The author claims to have an influence extending beyond his own dwelling-place. The Demetrius who is mentioned at the end of the Epistle, and of whom it is expressly stated that he “hath the witness of all men,” may well have conveyed it himself.

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