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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

3 John 1

Verses 1-15

  1. INTRO:
    1. 2nd John was written to warn against showing hospitality to false teachers. 3nd John was written to encourage proper hospitality to Christian teachers.
    2. 3 Men & a Church - John confronts a church problem encouraging Gaius & Demetrius, discussing the problems caused by Diotrephes. 3 men all professing Christians.
      1. What a great glimpse we get into a 1st century church & into the lives of 3 of its members.
      2. Churches run into problems, & will, as long as saved sinners inhabit them.
  2. 3 MEN & A CHURCH!
    1. GAIUS THE PROSPEROUS CHRISTIAN! (1-8)
    2. Gaius appears to be a leading member of a local church.
      1. Exactly where he lives was unknown.
      2. Probably around Ephesus where John continued to live & write these 2 letters.
    3. Gaius excelled in truth.
      1. The truth was in Gaius, & Gaius walked in the truth. Spurgeon
        1. If the 1st was not the case, the 2nd would not have occurred.
        2. And if the 2nd could not be said of him, the 1st would have been a mere pretense.
      2. Truth must enter into the soul, penetrate & saturate it, or else it is of no value.
      3. Illus #1: Hold bread in the hand - no nourishment to your body (like holding doctrine as a matter of creed) But when you digest the bread your body is able to assimilate it, resulting in the sustaining & building up of the body. (same, when doctrine is accepted into the heart!)
      4. Illus #2: As a rule of nature, the inward affects the outward. Light shines from the center of the lantern, through the glass (when truth is kindled within, its brightness soon beams forth in the outward life & conversation)
      5. Illus #3: The silkworm is really not a worm at all, but a caterpillar/moth.
        1. 1 cocoon is made of a thread of raw silk from 1000-3000’ long.
        2. About 2,000 to 3,000 cocoons are required to make 1 pound of silk.
        3. Based on 1,100 yards per cocoon, 10 unraveled cocoons could theoretically extend vertically to the height of Mount Everest.
        4. ​​​​​​​At least 70 million pounds of raw silk are produced each year. A distance well over 300 round trips to the sun. [Amazing!]
      6. ​​​​​​​It is the food of silk worms that color their silk thread.
        1. ​​​​​​​It eats mostly leaves from the Mulberry tree, but to get different colors some are fed different leaves.
          1. ​​​​​​​So, the spiritual food on which we feed, will tint every word that proceeds from our mouth, and color(or discolor) every step of our Christian walk!
      7. The truth was in Gaius, & Gaius walked in the truth.
    4. (2) Prosper - The bible has little to say about “prosperity”, though both the Heb & Gk indicate progress, “having a good journey”.
    5. This is a beautiful prayer of blessing upon a friend.
    6. Gaius may not have been in good health or maybe was just recovering from an illness.
      1. ​​​​​​​But this we know...he had a healthy spiritual life!
      2. May you have as much bodily strength as you have spiritual power! (not vice-versa)
      3. Whatever the condition of the outer man, the inner man was prospering.
    7. But note...the apostle was concerned for the temporal well-being of Gaius, & not only for his spiritual welfare.
      1. ​​​​​​​He must surely have learned this from Jesus whose concern for people’s physical troubles is attested in all 4 Gospels.
      2. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Certainly this is a biblical warrant for Christians today to pray for the temporal needs of others.
    8. (4) Every Christian parent can echo vs.4 & even make it a prayer!
    9. (5) You do faithfully whatever you do - We have nothing to do with how much ability we've got, or how little, but with what we do with what we have!
      1. ​​​​​​​The man with great talent is apt to be puffed up, & the man with little talent to belittle the little.
      2. God gives it, much or little. Our part is to be faithful, doing the best with every bit and scrap.
    10. Hospitality
      1. ​​​​​​​Benjamin Franklin said, “Fish & visitors smell in 3 days”
        1. ​​​​​​​Not the Christian perspective on Hospitality!
      2. Jewish Proverb, “Hospitality is 1 form of worship.”
      3. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​A Danish Proverb says, “When there is room in the heart there is room in the house.”
        1. ​​​​​​​At Christmas, why do we blame the Innkeeper for having a full Inn & putting the family out in the stable. Why not the 1000’s of homes in Bethlehem at the time, which were not full of guests?
        2. Singer John Charles Thomas, at age 66 wrote to syndicated columnist Abigail Van Buren: "I am presently completing the 2nd year of a 3-year survey on the hospitality or lack of it in churches. To date, of the 195 churches I have visited, I was spoken to in only 1 by someone other than an official greeter and that was to ask me to move my feet."
          1. ​​​​​​​Hospitality must be revived today!
    11. (5-8) The brethren - probably the evangelists & missionaries.
      1. ​​​​​​​Gaius faithfully tried to help the Christian's workers who came his way.
      2. No hotels & the Inn’s were uncomfortable & often dangerous.
    12. Why did Gaius help the saints? [1] He loved them [2] He wanted to share in their ministries [3] He wanted to further the truth.
      1. ​​​​​​​A man might not be a preacher himself but he can help others to preach (Wiersbe)
    13. This is Missionary Care at its finest!
      1. ​​​​​​​I don’t know what to do at the church? Care for a missionary!
        1. ​​​​​​​Email, call them, stay in touch; find out their needs (not to meet all, but at least to pray for, or to share needs with others); go visit them; send care packages; be part of a missionary’s Care Team; do their taxes; newsletters (edit, stuff, lick envelopes, send); help them on furloughs (see Judy Terry); pick them up at airport (to take to); talk to Larry Hansen for other ideas (oversees Missions Care).
    14. These are the believers that make the church healthy!
    15. DIOTREPHES THE PROUD CHRISTIAN! (9-11)
    16. Gaius excelled in truth. Diotrephes was an egotist.
    17. This was a problem not w/doctrinal defection, but proud ambition!
    18. Diotrephes wanted to be the Boss of the church! (To John - Your not the boss of me!)
      1. ​​​​​​​Preeminence - fond of the 1st position; to be 1st in everything, always.
        1. ​​​​​​​Col.1:18 And He(Christ) is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
    19. Diotrephes had not welcomed the itinerant Christian teachers with the proper hospitality, & had discouraged others from doing so also.
    20. John indicted Diotrephes on 6 counts:
      1. ​​​​​​​He loves the preeminence (his demand to occupy the leading place)
      2. He does not receive us (his refusal to receive John himself)
        1. ​​​​​​​Imagine rejecting (& talking others into rejecting) a message from the apostle John?
      3. He prated(talk nonsense) against us w/malicious words(his slander of the other apostles)
      4. He does not receive the brethren (his unwillingness to entertain missionaries)
      5. He tries to put them out (his attempt to excommunicate other believers)
      6. He is evil (his utter wicked character)
    21. A. T. Robertson wrote a magazine article in which he rebuked leaders who follow in the footsteps of Diotrephes. After it was published, he received letters from at least 25 different church leaders, demanding that their subscriptions to the magazine be canceled. Although Robertson had never met any of them, they all said in effect, “You have personally attacked me!” :)
    22. (11) Don’t let this bad example influence you.
      1. ​​​​​​​Verse 11 acts as a toggle switch from the Catastrophes of Diotrephes, to the Virtuous Demetrius!
    23. DEMETRIUS THE PLEASANT CHRISTIAN! (12)
    24. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Gaius excelled in truth. Diotrephes was an egotist. Now, Demetrius was an example.
    25. His witness shines with 3 rays of sunshine: [1] Everyone speaks well of him. [2] Truth speaks well of him. [3] John & the boys speak well of him.
      1. ​​​​​​​The church needs more Demetrious’.
      2. This will make the local church healthy (vs2).
    26. Leopold V of Austria was called “Leopold the Virtuous” - The last of Leopold's family to rule was Frederich II, who was called “Frederich the Quarrelsome”!
      1. ​​​​​​​Q: What would you be called if we were given nicknames based on your conduct or character?
      2. Q: Would we be called the Virtuous or the Quarrelsome?
      3. Q: What would you be called based on this last week, or yesterday?
        1. ​​​​​​​“Brian the Bodacious”(blend of bold & audacious {recklessly bold}) or “Brian the Bozo”?
    27. FAREWELL GREETING! (13,14)
    28. ​​​​​​​Pen – a reed used for writing. Ink – black ink [chief ingredient “soot” or “black carbon”]
      1. ​​​​​​​It was also mixed w/gum or oil for use on parchments (sheep or goat skins).
      2. Or, it was mixed w/a metallic substance for use on papyrus.
    29. Churches today need more members like Gaius & Demetrius.
      1. ​​​​​​​Saints who love the bible; the church family; & lost souls.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 3 John 1". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/3-john-1.html. 2017.