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Bible Commentaries
3 John 1

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


From the Elder. See note on 2 John 1:1. To my dear Gains. This is probably the Gaius of Corinth (Romans 16:23).

Verse 2


My dear friend. The theme of this Letter is to praise Gaius for his good work and to urge hospitality. In good health. It was usual to wish health as a greeting. Here John wishes health, both physical and spiritual. [Some think this implies that Gaius’ health was being drained by his problems with Diotrephes.]

Verse 3


I was so happy. “I know your spirit is in good health, because of the report some brothers brought back to me!” The Greek implies it was a continuous good report that was coming to John. These are brothers whom Gaius has helped.

Verse 4


Nothing makes me happier. It makes a preacher happy to know that someone he has helped to grow in Christ is being faithful to the truth.

Verse 5


You are so faithful. “The hospitality you show to the brothers is especially important! This is evidence of your faith!” John trained evangelists (see note on Ephesians 4:11) and sent them out. They would depend upon the local churches for food and lodging. See Introduction to this Letter. Strangers. Gaius did not know many of these brothers personally. They were strangers to him, yet he showed his love for truth by his hospitality to them. [But contrast 2 John 1:10-11.]

Verse 6


Spoken of your love. “They all praise your good work and the hospitality you showed to them!” Please help them. “Since the work of ministry must continue, you will be called upon again and again to help. Since you are God’s friend, help them in a generous way that will please God!”

Verse 7


Any help from unbelievers. “In their work of preaching the Good News, they do not ask any help from unbelievers. So they must depend upon people in the church like yourself, to support them.” Compare 1 Corinthians 9:6-18; Philippians 4:14-19.

Verse 8


We Christians, then. John is still urging Gaius to show hospitality to the brothers and strangers who come. “We Christians can all share in the work these brothers are doing by helping them!” We can sometimes fulfill our responsibility (at least part of it) by proxy. See Luke 10:35.

Verse 9


I wrote. As an apostle, John supervised the work of the church. He would write many such short letters to keep in touch with many local churches and individuals. But Diotrephes. We know nothing ‘else about him. He is probably a church elder, and may be a Nicolaitan (See notes on Revelation 2:14-15). Who loves to be their leader. Diotrephes is a church boss. It may be that the glory of power is what motivates him, but we can only guess, since we have no details. There must have been many such as this man in the early church (See 1 Peter 5:3 and note). Will not. He refused to listen to what John said. Some think this means he was a Paulite (1 Corinthians 1:12) who rejected the authority of the other apostles.

Verse 10


When I come. John intends to come personally and use his authority as an apostle to deal with Diotrephes (see Acts 13:10-12 and note). Everything he has done. Diotrephes: (1) would not pay attention to John’s letter; (2) said terrible things about John (compare Jude 1:15) and told lies to cause trouble; (3) refused to receive the brothers and would give them no hospitality; (4) tries to drive out of the fellowship all who even admit they want to receive the brothers from John. [The present continuous implies that Diotrephes was trying to drive out those who wanted to receive the brothers. See Expositor’s Greek Testament. ]

Verse 11


What is bad. “Don’t follow the bad example of such people as Diotrephes!” But even Diotrephes is a Christian, and we ought to listen to what Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 and notes. This does not conflict with 2 John 1:10-11 where the circumstances are not the same. Whoever does. Faith is made perfect through actions (James 2:22). Whether a man is good or bad will show up in the general pattern of his actions. One who makes a habit of sin does not know God!

Verse 12


Demetrius. We know nothing more about this man. Roberts thinks he was one of the brothers whom John sent out. But he may have been a church elder along with Diotrephes. He is an example of good. Truth itself. “The truth of God, which guides the lives of all believers, is a witness to the one who actually lives in truth!” And we. John is also a witness to the good character of Demetrius. [Letters of recommendation were used to identify true teachers to people who did not know them personally. See Acts 18:27; 2 Corinthians 3:1; Romans 16:1; Colossians 4:10.]

Verse 13


I have so much. This Letter ends much the same as 2 John. John feels it best to write this short letter and deal with things in detail when he can be there in person.

Verse 14


I hope. John expects to visit Gaius soon. John may have made regular tours to the churches of the area.


Peace be with you. [Chapter and verse divisions date from the sixteenth century. Most Greek texts divide a 15th verse, as the TEV has done.] This is the Hebrew style of greeting (1 Peter 5:14). Friends. This is a personal letter. This is why John says friends rather than brothers.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 3 John 1". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/3-john-1.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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