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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

3 John 1

Verse 1

1. Gaius] A Gains or Caius—the common Latin form of the name—is mentioned in four other places in the NT. (Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4; Romans 16:23; 1 Corinthians 1:14). The trait of character indicated here is in line with the generous hospitality referred to in the third of these passages. It is hardly likely, however, that one who was sufficiently prominent in the Church of Corinth to be a general host about the year 50, would be still exercising the same function some thirty years later. The identification therefore of the Gaius to whom the Third Epistle is addressed, with St. Paul’s host, or with any of the others mentioned, is more than doubtful. In the truth] see on 2 John 1:1.

2. I wish] better, ’I pray.’ This may imply that Gaius had been ill.

3. Thou] In the Gk., emphatic; in contrast with others, like Diotrephes, of whom this could not be said.

4. Greater] In the Gk., a double comparative, as in English ’betterer’ would be. This may indicate that the author was not a classical Greek scholar, or the usage may be intentional, for emphasis, like the comparative formed on a superlative in Ephesians 3:8. Cp. also, ’How much more elder art thou than thy looks!’ (’Merchant of Venice,’ IV, i).

5. Doest.. doest] The second verb is different in the Gk. from the first, and implies more of toilful labour. And to strangers] Much stronger in the best text—’ and that too to strangers.’ ’The duty of entertaining Christians on their travels was of peculiar importance in early times, (1) from the length of time which travelling required, (2) from the poverty of the Christians, (3) from the kind of society they would meet at public inns’ (Sinclair).

6. Bring forward] i.e. with practical assistance—money, provisions, escort, etc.

7. Taking nothing of the Gentiles] The missionaries whom Gaius had entertained had not been willing to receive assistance from the non-Christians among whom they had been labouring. While they might properly receive from those who had long been Christians, it would be of great importance that there should be not the least suggestion of selling the truth.

9. I wrote, etc.] The Gk. makes the statement more exact by inserting an object of the verb—’I wrote somewhat to the Church.’ Of this letter we have no further knowledge. Possibly a part of the offence of Diotrephes had been its suppression; so that this may be a hint to Gaius that the contents of this letter at least should be made known to the Church.

We know no more of Diotrephes. 3 John 1:10 may imply that he had the power of excommunication, and therefore was the official head of the Church to which Gaius belonged. It may, however, only imply that he had sufficient social influence to exclude the brethren from the Christian society of the place. His fondness for being preeminent had, at all events, brought him a certain local power.

11. Hath not seen God] a truly Johannine thought: cp. 1 John 3:6.

12. Nothing further is known certainly of Demetrius. But as both he and the mob-leader of the same name (Acts 19:24) lived apparently in or near Ephesus, there is nothing impossible in the suggestion that the agitator had become a disciple, and that both references, therefore, are to the same person. He may have been the bearer of this Epistle. The thought of a threefold witness—in this case, general report, the truth, and the Apostle himself—is characteristic of St. John: cp. 1 John 5:6-10.

13, 14. The conclusion is the same as that of the Second Epistle. Possibly the journey contemplated in both is the same.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 3 John 1". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/3-john-1.html. 1909.