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The “Presbyteros” of 2 and 3 John

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The Greek term πρεσβύτερος (presbyteros) could be translated as “elder” or “presbyter” in 2 John 1:1 and 3 John 1:1. If one adopts the second meaning, it raises the further question of whether the author was part of a collective presbyterate in the geographical area where the epistles originally circulated. Whatever the case, I do not think the anonymous presbyteros in the Johannine epistles can be confidently identified with the presbyteros John known to Papias of Hierapolis (Ecclesiastical History 3.39.3) on the basis of this single term. For my argument against this view, see my book The Beloved Apostle? or my article for the website Bible and Interpretation.

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