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Bible Commentaries
3 John 1

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-14

-3 John

So the third epistle of John is now again, John addresses himself as

The elder [the presbyturos] unto the wellbeloved Gaius ( 3 John 1:1 ),

Probably not the Gaius mentioned in Paul's epistle to the Corinthians where he was in Corinth, and it would appear that these letters were written to those in the area of Ephesus.

whom I love in the truth. Beloved ( 3 John 1:1-2 ),

And he's talking to Gaius.

I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth ( 3 John 1:2 ).

Now there are many people who quote this scripture as a sort of promise for healing. And they twist the scriptures slightly making it really sort of God's declaration, God saying I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers. But this is a personal letter from John to Gaius. And he is greeting Gaius who is well-loved with this beautiful wish that you may prosper and be in good health. As we so often in our letters writing to someone we haven't seen for a long time, I hope that this letter finds you in good health. So to use this as a promise for healing is really not scriptural, as God's promise for healing. It is the wish of John for Gaius. Beautiful wish indeed. "I wish that you might prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers."

But it is interesting that there is a relationship made between the prosperity of the soul and the physical well being. And we are discovering more and more as we study the human body that there is a very definite direct relationship between a person's physical health and their mental well-being. We are learning how that attitude can change the body chemistry and that bad attitudes can create harmful chemicals that will attack your body physically. And there's a definite relationship between mental attitude and organic illnesses in many cases. The psychologist say ninety percent, I think, that they're overstressing their side. But there is a definite relationship between many illnesses and the mental attitude of the person. So there's a correlation made between the physical well-being with the mental, the prosperity of the soul, the mind.

There is a proverb that says, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine" ( Proverbs 17:22 ). You know that they have discovered that that is scientifically correct. That laughter aids tremendously in the digestion of food. You ought to have a joke book at your dinner table. Bitterness can eat at your physical being, can create ulcers, chemicals that are harmful, destructive. So it is interesting that John would make the correlation between the physical and the emotional or mental. "I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers."

For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as you walk in truth. And I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth ( 3 John 1:3-4 ).

I can concur with what John is saying here. The greatest joy, I think, of a teacher is to hear that their children are walking in truth. You know, to come across someone that you ministered to fifteen, twenty years ago and find them walking in the truth is just a thrill, no greater joy.

In the same way, there's probably no greater sorrow than to hear that your children have turned from the truth, got caught up in some weird doctrine, some heresy. That's painful, that hurts. But "no greater joy than to hear that they are walking in the truth."

Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do to the brethren, to the strangers; Which have borne witness of your love before the church: whom if you bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, you will do well ( 3 John 1:5-6 ):

Now he's talking about Gaius's treatment of these itinerary evangelists and prophets. You've been hospitable to them. You've helped them along their way. And in this you did well. It was, and they've come, and they've told of your love. They've told of your hospitality.

Because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing from the heathens ( 3 John 1:7 ).

So these itinerant prophets have gone forth in the name of the Lord and for his name's sake, but they wouldn't take anything from the Gentiles, which is in the New Testament Greek the heathen or the pagans, because in Christ, you know, they were all brothers. "There is no Jew nor Greek, Barbarian, Scythian" ( Colossians 3:11 ). So the Gentiles referred to those outside of Christ.

I question some of the fund raising techniques of the churches today that go to the major corporations or they go to the businesses or they go to the world to find financing for the ministry and for the work of the church. The early prophets that went forth did not practice that. In fact, as I told you, if they asked for money they were considered to be a false prophet. That's the apostle wrote their Dedike and they said if they ask for money they're false prophets. So he is encouraging Gaius in his hospitality, the love that he had shown was good.

It had been reported and he said,

We ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers of the truth. Now I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, did not receive us ( 3 John 1:8-9 ).

Diotrephes, an interesting character. We look how his sin has been exposed throughout the years. A man who loved the preeminence in the church. He didn't want to give, you know, any place to anybody else. He wanted the preeminence. So when these prophets would come in, he wouldn't receive them. In fact, he even refused John the beloved, apostle of the Lord. There are Diotrephes still in the church today, those who are looking for a position for themselves, those that are looking for a place of power and authority, who want preeminence.

So John said,

Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and he forbids them that would, and casts them out of the church ( 3 John 1:10 ).

I mean, this guy was a real tyrant. He wouldn't receive these itinerant ministers and if someone in the church would receive them, he'd throw them out of the church.

John's exhortation is

Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. And he that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God ( 3 John 1:11 ).

Again here, John puts the emphasis upon what a person is doing. "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourself" ( James 1:22 ). "Not he who has the law is justified by the law, but he who does the law is justified by the law" ( Galatians 3:11-12 ).

Having the knowledge of Jesus Christ doesn't save you. It's following Him as your Lord that brings salvation. It isn't mouthing the Apostle's Creed that will save you. It's what are you doing. You're doing good, then you're of God, but if you're doing evil, you really don't know God.

Demetrius has a good report of all men ( 3 John 1:12 ),

And probably this letter was given to Demetrius who was headed that way as a letter of reference from John and he told him to give it to Gaius, and so he is encouraging now, when Demetrius gets there to receive him. "Demetrius has good report of all men,"

and of the truth itself: yes, and we also bear record; and you know that our record is true. Now I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face ( 3 John 1:12-14 ).

So as he closed the second epistle, so he closes the third with the anticipation of seeing him, not having to write to him the things that are on his heart.

Peace be to thee. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends [my friends] by name ( 3 John 1:14 ). "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 3 John 1". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/3-john-1.html. 2014.
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