We therefore ought to receive such. The Greek for receive is ÎºÎ±Ï„Î± Î»Î¬Î¼Î²Î±Î½Î¯Î½. This means, not to wait until they come to us, but to prevent them, to invite them to our house, yea, to constrain them to come in. Å’cumenius says, as the disciples constrained Christ at Emmaus ( Luke 24:29). Moreover to receive and reception means in Scripture every sort of kindness and protection, care and assistance.
That we may be fellow-workers with the truth, by ministering necessary things to those who preach the truth or who suffer exile or tribulation for the truth"s sake.
Observe: S. John by many arguments stirs up Caius to persevere in his liberality to pilgrims1st He praises his generosity because also his guests praised it before the whole Church. (Ver3.) 2d Because it was a work befitting a Christian believer. (Ver5.) 3d Because it was a work worthy of God. (Ver6.) 4th Because it was done to those who made known the name of God. (Ver7.) 5th Because it was done to those who were forsaken or despoiled by other Gentiles. (Ver7.) 6th Because by this means they became fellow-workers with the truth and the Gospel, and preached it themselves through the preachers and confessors whom they received and nourished.
Moreover, when S. John exhorts Caius to persevere in hospitality he makes use of the first person, "we ought therefore," that his exhortation may be sweeter and more powerful. Certain it is that S. John was very hospitable to pilgrims. For he was the Bishop of Ephesus, and in that capacity was wont to dispense the goods of the Ephesian Church to the poor and strangers. Moreover, Bede says that S. John , like S. Paul, lived by the labour of his hands.
9. I would have written, it may be, to the Church. The Greek is ÎÎ³Î¶Î±ÏˆÎ±, i e. I have written. So Erasrnus, Cajetan, Vatablus, Clarius, who think the Vulg. of this passage is corrupt. But Gagneius, Serarius, &c. think the translator"s reading was ÎÎ³Î¶Î±ÏˆÎ± Î¬Î½, or at least that Î¬Î½ ought to be understood. They think this for three reasons: 1st Because it gives the better meaning. "I would have written, but I have not written, because that proud Diotrephes receives neither us, nor our letters." 2d Because there is no extant letter of S. John to a church3d Because the Syriac version entirely supports this reading. It Isaiah , I was seeking, or desiring to write to the Church, but he who loves to be first among you, Diotrephes, receives us not.
But he who loves to bear the primacy among them, i.e. in the Church. This Greek is Ï†Î¹Î»Î¿Ï€Î¶Ï‰Ï„ÎÏ…Ï‰Î½, ambitious of the primacy. Wherefore Diotrephes seems to have been either a bishop, or else some powerful and arrogant Prayer of Manasseh , who was fond of domineering in the Church, and arrogated to himself episcopal rank. Bede adds that he was a heresiarch. But S. John intimates nothing of the kind; indeed rather the contrary. For had he been a heresiarch S. John would have dealt much more severely with him, and have excommunicated him, as S. Paul did Hymenæus and Alexander. ( 1 Timothy 20.) Diotrephes then hated S. John , not because he was heretic, but because he was ambitious. For he saw that S. John resisted the pre-eminence which he coveted.
Diotrephes: Vatablus thinks this was an appellative name, meaning full of boasting and arrogance. For of old those who were puffed up by the nobility of their extraction were accustomed to be called Î´Î¹Î¿Ï„Î¶ÎµÏ†ÎµÎ¹ÌƒÏ‚, i.e. nourished by Jupiter. But L. Dexter, with more reason, thinks that it was a proper name, or rather one given him. For Hebrews , boasting of his riches and birth among the heathen, colled himself by a heathen name, Diotrephes, or a son of Jove.
Moraliter: they imitate Diotrephes who covet benefices and prelacies, and assert that they are their due because of their nobility and their wealth, whereas Christ chose for His Apostles the ignoble and the poor. Again, those temporal princes and nobles imitate Diotrephes who having no rights of patronage in conferring benefices usurp and invade them, or abuse them by domineering over the clergy.
Receives us not: i.e. our apostleship and authority, our letters and our precepts. For it was part of the bishop"s office to receive the letters addressed to his Church, and to read them publicly to the faithful. For he was, as it were, the head and primate of the Church.