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Does 3 John prove no plurality?

Submitted: 3/22/2010
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Question: 3rd John was written to an elder, Gaius. Is it a proof that there was somehow one man who led a local church?

Answer: Absolutely not. The word 'elder' is not limited to the leaders of a local assembly, though it is mostly used this way in the epistles. But it can also be used as a generic term for an older, mature man. In this letter, the writer is the elder, not Gaius. Most believe the writer to be John the apostles in his old age. This is not an example of a solo pastor writing to an underling. It is an old man writing to a dear friend. He may not have used his name because he knew it wasn't necessary. Here is Matthew Henry's explanation, which we find to be credible: '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 deference are due to both. Some have questioned whether this were John the apostle or no; but his style and spirit seem to shine in the epistle. Those that are beloved of Christ will love the brethren for his sake. Gaius could not question from whom the letter came. The apostle might have assumed many more illustrious characters, but it becomes not Christ's ministers to affect swelling pompous titles. He almost levels himself with the more ordinary pastors of the church, while he styles himself the elder. Or, possibly, most of the extraordinary ministers, the apostles, were now dead, and this holy survivor would countenance the continued standing ministry, by assuming the more common title-the elder. The elders I exhort, who am also an elder, 1 Peter 5:1.'(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)