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Bible Commentaries
3 John 1

Expositor's Dictionary of TextsExpositor's Dictionary

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Verse 1


3 John 1:2

'I wish above all things that....' I purposely leave the sentence unfinished, in the guise of a dim interrogation, in order that each of us may supply the missing piece. How do I finish the imperfect pile? The nature of the insertion will determine the quality of the contribution which I make to the common life. Let me give one or two suggestions of worthy ways in which perhaps we may complete the sentence, wishes that will be fruitful in moral and spiritual progress.

I. Let us wish for a renewal of the secret intimacies of family worship.

II. Let us wish for an enrichment of the fellowship of the Christian Church.

III. And let us wish for the creation of a more fervent evangelisation.

J. H. Jowett, British Congregationalist, 11th July, 1907, p. 32.

The Third Epistle of John

3 John 1:2

'I believe,' wrote Edward Thring to R. L. Nettle-ship, 'that one of the most obvious tests to a truth lover that he is really loving truth and not a sham, not a Duessa, is the perpetual growth of capacity. Every year has been to me a softening of the impressible nature, and a clearing of the eye in all fields of Divine goodness, quite irrespective of the hard, hot, choking work of the external world and its attacks. I feel more and more how all right spirit life is a gladness and glory increasing; how Divine goodness is speaking in all tones that reach the heart with joy or sorrow, awe or ecstasy, everywhere and in all things, if we can but hear it; how completely the spirit within can be in communion with light independent of external circumstances, and yet how external circumstances and creation are the medium through which God speaks.'

3 John 1:4

All joy worth the name is in equal love between unequals.

Coventry Patmore.

References. I. 2. J. Caird, Sermons, p. 218. C. Perren, Revival Sermons in Outline, p. 189. J. G. Greaves, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. p. 394. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Epistles of John, p. 54. I. 4. A. P. Stanley, Sermons for Children, pp. 10, 76. T. H. Bell, Persuasions, p. 119. C. Bradley, The Christian Life, p. 269. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix. No. 1148. Expositor (6th Series), vol. viii. p. 323.

3 John 1:5-6

There can be no true love without devotion; devotion is the exercise of love, by which it grows.

R. L.


References. I. 5-8. Expository Sermons on the New Testament, p. 276. J. Bunting, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 170.

3 John 1:6

I had expected to find in the Church the inexpugnable citadel of Faith; but I have found in it no less the home of Love.


References. I. 6-8. H. Elvet Lewis, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lix. p. 400. 7. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture 3 John, p. 61.

3 John 1:9

'He expects,' said Bentham of James Mill, 'to subdue everybody by his domineering tone, to convince everybody by his positiveness. His manner of speaking is offensive and overbearing.'

References. I. 11. Expositor (6th Series), vol. xii. p. 50. I. 12. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture 3 John, p. 79.

3 John 1:14

No one would care to live without friends, though he had all other good things.... We need friends, when we are young, to keep us from error; we need them, when we are old, to tend to us and carry out the plans we are unable to execute ourselves; and we need them in the prime of life to keep us in noble deeds 'two together' for thus are we more effective both in thought and in act.


3 John 1:14

'I find all things on earth, even truth and joy, sooner than friendship.'

Jean Paul.

This for the motto to examine and attest the fact, and then to explain the reason. First, then, there are the extraordinary qualifications demanded for true friendship, arising from the multitude of causes which make men delude themselves and attribute to friendship what is only a similarity of pursuit, or even a dislike of feeling oneself alone in anything. But, secondly, supposing the friendship to be as real as human nature ordinarily permits, yet how many causes are at constant war against it, whether in the shape of violent irruptions or unobserved yet constant wearing away by dyspathy, etc.


Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 3 John 1". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/3-john-1.html. 1910.
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