Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, April 20th, 2024
the Third Week after Easter
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
3 John 1

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verse 1

Book Comment:

3 John 1:1

Walking Thru the Bible


Third John

The third letter, like the other two, deals with their love for the Lord, His Word, and their love for one another from a very practical point of view. All of John’s epistles draw a sharp line of distinction between truth and error, light and darkness, and love and hatred.

Recipient of 3rd John: This is a very personal letter addressed to "Gaius, the beloved whom I love in the truth" (v.1). We do not know which Gaius this may be (cf. Acts 19:29; 20:4; Rom. 16:23; 1 Cor. 1:14). Some early writers mention a Gaius, not referred to in the scriptures, who had been ordained a "bishop" of Pergamos by John but we do not know that such is reliable.

Message: The letter focuses on showing hospitality and giving support to those traveling evangelists who were faithfully preaching the truth. Gaius had received them with hospitality while Diotrephes, a self-assertive leader in one of the churches, had refused to receive them. Whether Gaius and Diotrephes were members of the same congregation or sister congregations is unknown


Traveling preachers, perhaps sent by John, had visited the church and a leader there named Diotrephes had spoken against the Apostle John and had stood against those who had received them.

The only reason given for his conduct was that he "loved to have the preeminence." John condemned this haughty and selfish ambition and the envy and jealousy it stirred up in his heart as reflected in his wicked treatment of both John and other brethren.

Rejection of Apostolic authority and instruction is a destructive attitude and alienates a man from God (I John 4:6).

Outline of the Book:

John expresses his love for Gaius (1) and assures him of his prayers (2), tells him his joy over his standing for the truth (3-4), commends him for his hospitality and fellowship toward faithful brethren (5-6), encourages him to continue to do so in spite of Diotrephes (7-9).

John informs Gaius of his intended visit to deal with Diotrephes (9-10), commends Demetrius to him (11-12), and gives assurance that he intends to visit him and talk with him face to face and tell him many things he could not write (13-14).

This third letter, as John’s other epistles, was evidently written toward the end of John’s ministry in the area of Asia Minor in the decade of the 60’s or 70’s. It gives us a view of life in a congregation of that period.


1. These two epistles together serve to warn us against fellowshiping false teachers and supporting them in their error.

2. They also encourage us to extend hospitality and support to those who preach the truth.

3. There is a sever warning for leaders who let their position go to their head and seek the "preeminence" instead of supporting faithful preachers preaching the truth.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Verse Comment:

vs 1-4 Address and Commendation

Elder . 1) Term used as a title for the Apostles. In the 1st and 2nd centuries, i.e., "The ancient ones." EGT p.160 "The second generation of Christians used it of their predecessors "the men of early day.’"

Papias uses it this way of Apostles in the 2nd century where we would say "the Apostle John" he said "the elder John."

2) Used in Jesus; day for city officials.

3) Used for synagogue rulers.

4) Used in the N.T. for overseers, bishops, of the church, indicating they were oder men.

Gaius -- EGT p. 163 A common name. Three in the N.T. 1) Gaius of Macedonia, Acts 19:29; 2) Gaius of Derbe, Acts 20:4; 3) Gaius of Corinth, Romans 16:23, 1 Corinthians 1:14.

The name is so common this Gaius may be altogether a different one.

Well beloved --

I -- ἐγὼ emphatic,

In truth -- a fellowship in Christian knowledge and faith.

Verse 2

3 John 1:2

Prosper -- in worldly matters. EGT "A good knight is best known in battle, and a Christian in the time of trouble and adversity." Gaius had stood the test. Had his battle with Diotrephes affected his health?

Verse 3

3 John 1:3

Came -- repeatedly, not on one particular occasion. "The itinerant brethren were always at work, going out from Ephesus on their missions and returning with their reports." EGT.

Question: What is meant by "walking" in truth? Answer: They were guiding their lives and living according to God’s Word.

Verse 4

3 John 1:4

My children -- probably a reference to one’s converts, and thus, an implication that Gaius was one of John’s converts.

Verse 5

3 John 1:5

faithfully -- constant and untiring.

Question: What did Gaius do for brethren and strangers?

What is the difference between the "brethren" and the"strangers"? ["brethren" a reference to Christians, "strangers" to non-Christians, or outsiders.]

Verse 6

3 John 1:6

Verse 7

3 John 1:7

his names sake -- They went preaching and teaching. Doing so without begging from non-Christians.

Gentiles -- Those who didn’t know God or Christ.

Verse 8

3 John 1:8

such -- These journeying preachers.

Verse 9

3 John 1:9

Wrote -- Probably with a request that the church receive and help these men on their journey.

Verse 10

3 John 1:10

Verse 11

3 John 1:11

Verse 12

3 John 1:12

Demetrius -- He may have been one of the traveling preachers John had wrote about, 2) or Demetrius may have been the bearer of this letter to Gaus, and either way, John speaks to his good character.

Whether he is one of the other men with the same name is the scriptures is not certain, but probably not.

Verse 13

3 John 1:13

Verse 14

3 John 1:14

Shortly see thee -- From verse 10, The third-class condition (ἐὰν ἔλθω, ean elthō) seems to be used by the author to indicate real uncertainty on his part as to whether he will visit Diotrephes’ church or not. But it may be that Gaius would himself be traveling to meet with the writer at some location.

Face to face -- Lit. mouth to mouth. (Used to speak face to face (2 John 1:12; 3 John 1:14; Sept. Numbers 12:8 [cf. Jeremiah 32:4]).

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on 3 John 1". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/3-john-1.html. 2021.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile