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Bible Commentaries
3 John 1

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

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Verse 1

(Ἰωάννου γ in B. and Cod. Sinait. C. adds ἐπιστολὴ, G. τοῦ ἁγίου�.)

I. The Address

3 John 1:1

The elder unto the well beloved Gains, whom I love in the truth1.


3 John 1:1. On ὁ πρεσβύτερος see Introduction § 1. It can hardly be determined whether this Gaius is one of the two or three persons of that name, who are mentioned as friends and companions of Paul in Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4; Romans 16:23; 1 Corinthians 1:14. Lücke thinks that our Gaius is identical with Gaius of Derbe mentioned Acts 20:4, Wolf, in his Curis ad. h. l., that the Gaius mentioned 1 Corinthians 1:14 is meant here. Others suppose that the Gaius, mentioned Constit. Ap. 7, 46, and appointed by John Bishop of Pergamus, is the one referred to here (Whiston); but this is also purely hypothetical. Nor can it be inferred from 3 John 1:8 of this Epistle that Gaius was a presbyter. As John adds to the address the term τῷ�, so he also addresses him as ἀγαπητέ in 3 John 1:3; 3Jn 1:5; 3 John 1:11, and superadds as in 2 John 1:1, the words: ὃν ἐγὼ� (Oecumenius: ὁ κατὰ κύριον�).


Starke: Those who wish to be loved of men, must be lovable and worthy of love; this is done, if they give up the love of the world, and love God only.—Truth and love are precious jewels of Christians, which must be linked together and are more ornamental than golden chains. The one cannot exist without the other; truth without love is dead, and love without truth is blind.


3 John 1:1; 3 John 1:1. [German: The presbyter to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.—M.]

Verses 2-12

The Apostle’s joys and sorrows

3 John 1:2-11

2Beloved, I wish above all things2 that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even 3as thy soul prospereth. For3 I rejoiced greatly when the4 brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee,5 even as thou6 walkest in the truth.7 4I have no greater joy than8 to hear that my children walk in truth.9 5Beloved, thou doest faithfully10 whatsoever thou doest11 to the brethren, and12 to strangers; 6Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church13: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:14 7Because that for his name’s sake15 they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.16 8We therefore ought to receive17 such, that we might be fellow helpers to the truth18. 9I wrote unto the church19: but Diotrephes,who loveth to have the preeminence among them,20 receiveth us not. 10Wherefore, if I come, I will remember21 his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words22: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and23 forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. 11Beloved, follow24 not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but25 he that doeth evil hath not seen God. 12Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself26: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know27 that our record28 is true.


Wish for the prosperity of Gains. 3 John 1:2-4.

3 John 1:2. Beloved:—Joy in and care for Gaius account for the accumulation of terms of endearment.

In all things I wish that thou mayest prosper.—Περὶ πάντων is simply idiomatic: with respect to all things: περὶ, with the idea of including, encircling, shutting in, both in connection with substantives and absolutely, is found at the head of whole sentences in the sense of adtinet ad; 1 Corinthians 16:1. Cf. Winer, p. 390, sq. Connected with εὔχομαι, which signifies “to wish,” but carries here also the force of intercession (cf. James 5:15), the most natural sense is “praying for, concerning all things,” without any necessity for recurring to the Homeric usage of the preposition, viz. prae=above all things, as alleged by Schott, Düsterdieck and others. Rather than giving it that construction, we may connect περὶ πάντων with εὐοδοῦσθαι (Bengel, Huther, al.), which connection is affected neither by the rhetorical emphasis of the position of περί πάντων (Lücke), nor by the circumstance that it cannot belong to ὑγιαίνειν.—The prosperity referred to (εὐοδοῦσθαι) is general, in re familiari (Bengel), in all outward relations of life. Εὐοδοῦν, to make, lead a good way (εὐοδία) is transitive, while εὐοδεῖν to have a good way, is intransitive; hence the Passive, which carries the same force as the intransitive verb. Cf. Romans 1:10; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Lücke, Düsterdieck and al.—Καὶ ὑγιαίνειν singles out a particular point. Possibly Gaius had been sick (Düsterdieck), or was in delicate health; but this cannot be inferred with certainty as a fact, for health per se is important enough, if outward prosperity is the matter referred to.

Even as thy soul prospereth.—Oecumenius: ἐν τῇ κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον πολιτείᾳ, consequently in that it has the truth, and that he walks in it (3 John 1:3); the words καθὼς εὐοδοῦταί σου ἡ ψυχή contain a high encomium on Gaius and the object of the Apostle’s particular rejoicing.

3 John 1:3. For I rejoiced greatly.—On ἐχάρην γὰρ λίαν see 2 John 1:4. These words give the reason of the encomium, as of a well authenticated fact.

When brethren came and testified to thy truth.—The connection with the Aorist ἐχάρην requires us to continue the Participles ἐρχομένων καὶ μαρτυρούντων as Imperfects, as in Luke 17:12 (Lücke, Huther, Düsterdieck al.); the Dative σου τῇ� governed by μαρτυρεῖν (as in 3 John 1:6; 3 John 1:12; John 5:33; John 18:37; John 3:26) denotes the truth become subjective in Gaius; hence not=sinceritas (a Lapide, Beza and al.), but inward, Christian life, born of the truth, and itself truth (Lücke, Huther, Düsterdieck and al.); the restriction to liberalitas (Lorinus), is inadmissible.

As thou walkest in truth.—This clause contains the testimony of the brethren, hence it is an indirect clause recording the Christianity of Gaius as evidenced by his walk; on that account we have also ἀκούω in 3 John 1:4, so that it is not the testimony of the Apostle added to that of the brethren (Besser). So Brückner, Huther, Düsterdieck, and al. The express and emphatic σὺ denotes that the testimony of the brethren had been different with reference to others, for instance in the case of Diotrephes 3 John 1:9-10.

3 John 1:4. I have no greater joy than this.—Here the Apostle expresses his mind in general. On μειζοτέραν, a double comparative, like Ephesians 3:8, see Winer, p. 81. Grotius: “Est ad intendendam significationem comparativus e comparativo factus.” The Genitive τούτων is not=ταύτης, the neuter Plural, carrying a general reference, is restricted by the following ἵνα to one idea. Winer, p. 175 compares ἐφ’ οἰς and ἀνθ’ ὦν, also μετὰ ταῦτα and καὶ ταῦτα, Hebrews 11:12, and cites John 1:51.

That I hear my children are walking in the truth.—On ἵνα see John 15:13. It signifies the Apostle’s desire to hear this; this is his whole aim. Τὰ ἐμὰ τέκνα are the Christians committed to John; the members of the Churches confided to his care and placed under his paternal direction (Huther).

Praise and necessity of hospitality, 3 John 1:5-8.

3 John 1:5. Beloved, as in 3 John 1:2.

Thou actest faithfully.—πιστὸν ποιεῖς; Oecumenius: ἄξιον πιστοῦ�. Bengel: “Facis quiddam quod facile a te pollicebar mihi et fidelibus;” this explanation is too narrow, the reference to the πίστις which lays hold of the ἀλήθεια and carries out in love being too definite. But it is not on that account=πίστιν ποιεῖσθαι (Ebrard).

Whatsoever thou doest for the brethren.—Ὃ ἐὰν (ἃν)=quodcunque denotes that this activity had various modes of expression and made itself felt in different directions. On ἐργάζεσθαι εἰς, cf. Matthew 26:10.

And that strangers.—Καὶ τοῦτο, as in 1 Corinthians 6:6; Ephesians 2:8; Philippians 1:28, is not different in point of sense from καὶ εἰς τοὺς ξένους: and that=this too for (towards) strangers. This additional particular shows that the brethren were unknown and strangers, and acknowledges and praises the hospitality of Gaius as more liberal and not confined merely to brethren personally known to him. On the importance of φιλοξενία, cf. Hebrews 13:2; Rom 12:13; 1 Timothy 3:2; Tit 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9.

3 John 1:6. Who have testified to thy love before the Church.—Οἳ ἐμαρτύρησαν are the strange brethren; not only some of their number singled out (de Wette). Ἐνώπιον τῆς ἐκκλησίας denotes the Church where the Apostle was at the time of writing (Grotius, Huther, Düsterdieck al.), before which they gave an account of their experience [on their missionary journey—M.], like in Acts 14:27, and made mention of the love of Gaius. Bengel’s “publice commemorabantur exempla ad hortandum” goes too far.

Whom thou shalt do well to conduct (forward) worthily of God.—The reading: οὓς καλῶς ποιήσεις προπέμψας is established; the Future with the part. aor. is difficult. The Future is simple and clear; Gaius will do well; we must not construe it, with Huther, as Futur. exactum. For at Mark 13:13, the being saved (σωθήσεται) does not take place until after the enduring is accomplished (ὃ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος). Cf. Winer, p. 306, where only the part. aor. carries the force of the futur. exact. But the action of Gaius is not finished until he has accomplished the providing and speeding forward of the brethren; this is the sense of the part. aor. In such a connection the Future indicates a certain expectation, not without the direction softened by the Future, even as the ὀφείλομεν, 3 John 1:8, is morata formula hortandi (Bengel). It is more allowable to see here with Luther, a vagueness of expression than to venture with Ebrard on the correction ἐποίησας. As καλῶς qualifies ποιεῖν (Acts 10:33; Philippians 4:14), so ἀξίως τοῦ θεοῦ qualifies προπέμπειν, to fit out for a journey (Titus 3:13; 1 Corinthians 16:11); in a manner worthy of God [whose messengers they are—M.], with all care and love (Lücke); the viaticum (Grotius), commeatus (Bengel), will not be wanting; but this is not all. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Colossians 1:10.

3 John 1:7. For they went forth on behalf of the name.—Ἐξῆλθαν; the reason why they went forth is intimated by ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος, as in Acts 5:41, on behalf of the name of Christ, cf. James 2:7, even for the purpose of preaching it, as in Romans 1:6, so that they went forth as missionaries, as in Acts 15:40 (Lücke, Huther, Düsterdieck and others). Hence the reference is neither to the name of God, which would require αὐτοῦ, and then to be referred back to τοῦ θεοῦ, 3 John 1:6, nor only to the Christian religion, and least of all to the name of the brethren who were called missionaries (Paulus). The connection of ἐξῆλθαν with ἀπὸ τῶν ἐθνικῶν is untenable (Beza, Bengel, al.), which belongs to λαμβάνοντες.

Receiving nothing from the heathens.—The Part. Præs. with μηδὲν denotes the maxim of the missionaries not to receive any support from the heathens (Huther, Düsterdieck), agreeably to Matthew 10:8. The Mathematical astrologers and thaumaturgs did, on the contrary, make a business of religious affairs. But compare also the practice of St. Paul (1Co 9:18; 2 Corinthians 11:7, sqq.; 2 Corinthians 12:16, sqq., 1 Thessalonians 2:9, sqq.), although he might not take any thing from the younger Churches. On the construction of λαμβάνειν�, cf. Matthew 17:25, and Winer, p. 388, note 1.

3 John 1:8. We therefore ought to receive such persons.—In contrast to τῶν ἐθνικῶν the Apostle begins with: ἡμεῖς οὖν [οὖν because they receive nothing from the heathens, therefore we, etc.—M.]. The communicative Plural denotes the general Christian duty to take part in missions; hence ὀφείλομεν. There is a fine play on the word ὑπολαμβάνειν after μηδὲν λαμβάνοντες; elegans antanaclasis (Carpzov). According to Strabo’s definition: οἱ εὔποροι τοὺς ἐνδεεῖς ὑπολαμβάνουσι, this word implies both the προπέμπειν (3 John 1:6), and the λαμβάνειν εἰς οἰκίαν (2 John 1:10).

That we may become fellow-workers (for) the truth.—The purpose (ἵνα) is a noble one, viz. to serve the truth and work for it. The Dative τῇ� denotes the object to which the work of the missionaries is devoted; we should become the assistants and fellow-workers of the missionaries; συν also refers back to τοιούτους, not to τῇ� as Luther, Bengel and Besser allege. Our view is also held by Brückner, Huther, Düsterdieck. Cf. Colossians 4:11 : συνεργοὶ εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; συνεργὸν ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ; 2 Corinthians 8:23 : εἰς ὑμᾶς.

Complaint of a hostile person. 3 John 1:9-10.

3 John 1:9. I wrote somewhat to the Church.—Ἔγραψα designates a lost Epistle; τι does not imply that the writing was specially important, but brief, he wrote somewhat (Lücke, Huther, Düsterdieck), the writing was not particularly valuable [nothing is said one way or another, τι leaves the matter quite indefinite and merely imports that he had written somewhat—M.]. The reference here cannot be to the first Epistle (Wolf, Stier al.), or to the second, for they contain not the remotest allusion to the relations here specified. Diotrephes might have withheld it from the Church (Huther).—The Church to which he had written (τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ), is that of which Gaius was a member, who was to correct and repair the injuries done by Diotrephes (3 John 1:5-8; 3 John 1:11). Hence it is wrong to hold with Bengel (“illius loci, ex quo exierunt. Occupatio: ne Cajus dicat, cur itur ad nos?”), with whom Besser agrees, that the reference here is to the Church from which the missionaries went forth.

But he who loveth to be foremost among them, Diotrephes, doth not receive us.—We have no particulars concerning Diotrephes; it neither may be affirmed nor denied that he was a presbyter or deacon of the Church. But φιλοπρωτεύων renders it more improbable than probable. It is a pure conjecture to describe him as an opponent of the Jewish Christians (Grotius), or as a gnostic or judaistic false teacher; he was ambitiosus; this is known. Schol. I. defines φιλοπρωτεύων thus: ὁ ὑφαρπάζων τὰ πρωτεῖα.—Αὐτῶν is taken from ἐκκλησία, [the collective noun—M.], and designates the members of the Church who, as Huther supposes, were wont to meet at his house. Ἐπιδέχεσθαι ἡμᾶς signifies to receive us; hence not: to acknowledge our Epistles and exhortations (de Lyra, Grotius, Lücke, de Wette and al.).—Huther 1st ed. [corrected in the 2d—M.]. In not complying with the directions given in the Apostle’s Epistle, Diotrephes virtually delined to receive the Apostle himself (3 John 1:10).

3 John 1:10. Therefore, if I come, I will bring to remembrance the works which he doeth.—With διὰ τοῦτο the Apostle bases his coming and censure on the refractory conduct of Diotrephes. On ἐὰν ἔλθω see 1 John 2:28. That it would take place soon is indicated by εὐθέως, 3 John 1:14. It is not necessary to supply αὐτὸν (Huther), or ἐκκλησίαν (Paulus) after ὑπομνήσω; the Accusative of the person which is added in John 14:26; Titus 3:1 is also wanting in 2 Timothy 2:14.—It was the Apostle’s intention to censure not only Diotrephes, who was not singular in his reprehensible conduct, but had a friendly party backing him. Bede: “In omnium notitiam manifesting arguendo producam.” Although the connection requires us to understand the feature of censure (de Lyra: puniam, Bengel: notabo, ut sentiat, animadvertam), the idea of an instructive calling to mind is by all means to be retained; the censure lies in the matter being mentioned and that publicly. Αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα, ἃ ποιεῖ are the object of ὑπομιμνήσκειν, and these consist in the sequel, viz.:

Prating against us with wicked words.—On λόγοις πονηροῖς see 2 John 1:11; 1 John 3:12. They were slanderous words calculated to lower and detract from the Apostle’s influence, but idle, worthless tattle, untenable falsehoods; hence φλυαρῶν, “apposite calumnias Diotrephis vocat garritum” (á Lapide); the intransitive verb has a transitive reference to ἡμᾶς taken from the λόγοις πονηροῖς; a similar construction may be seen in μαθητεύω, Matthew 28:19; θριαμβεύω, Colossians 2:15 (properly nugari, cf. 1 Timothy 5:13.)

And not contented with this.—Ἀρκεῖσθαι with the Dative only, occurs at Luke 3:14; Hebrews 13:5 instead of ἐπὶ τούτοις; μὴ� with φλυαρεῖν against the Apostles, he wrongs the missionary brethren in two ways, viz.:

Neither doth he himself receive the brethren.—Οὔτε followed by καὶ is of frequent occurence, see Winer p. 516, 7. Αὐτὸς answers to βουλομένους. Ἐπιδέχεσθαι signifies literally to receive, to entertain hospitably, 2 John 1:10. The reference is to the ἀδελφοί mentioned 3 John 1:7.

But also, those who would do it, he hindereth.—There was consequently no lack of well-disposed Church-members; but he κωλύει by force, imperiousness, cunning tricks and speeches.

And casteth out of the Church.—Ἐκβάλλειν ἐκ τῆς ἐκκλησίας may signify: to excommunicate, but according to the context also to turn out of the local congregation. In the latter case κωλύει and ἐκβάλλει would have the same object; but in the former ἀδελφοί would be the object with αὐτούς understood. The former, adopted by Düsterdieck on account of the meaning of the word and the construction, seems to be improbable, because excommunication in a case which had no reference to false doctrine or immorality of life, would be immoderate and unheard of, and hardly conceivable at that time. But it might be possible that Diotrephes was wont to hold, or caused to be held, the meetings of the Church in his own house, and refused admittance to those who were opposed to him; but that would not be an excommunication. Huther, who maintains the other view, seems to enter more fully into the circumstances hinted at, and to avoid untenable conjectures.

Exhortation and Commendation. 3 John 1:11-12.

3 John 1:11. Beloved; peculiarly emphatic as following what goes before. 1 John 4:1; 1 John 4:7; 1 John 4:11.

Imitate not evil but good.—On μὴ μιμοῦ see Hebrews 13:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; Ephesians 5:1. Τὸ κακόν in Diotrephe, τὸ� in Demetrio (Bengel). De Wette erroneously asserts that the diction here is “unjohannean,” for we have τὰ ἔργα πονηρὰ and δίκαια in 1 John 3:12; τὸ κακόν in John 18:23; τὰ� and τὰ φαῦλα in John 5:29 : the diction is generally biblical, 1 Peter 3:10-11.

He that doeth good, is (out) of God.—Cf. 1 John 3:10. Ὁ� is general, as before (1 Peter 2:14; 15:20; 1 Peter 3:6; 1 Peter 3:17); a Lapide, Grotius, Paulus and al erroneously apply and restrict this expression to benevolence and hospitality.

He that doeth evil, hath not seen God.—It is inconceivable how Lücke and de Wette can call this expression, unjohannean,” considering that ἐκ θεοῦ ἐστίν with the constantly recurring ἐκ θεοῦ εἶναι (1Jn 4:2-4; 1 John 4:6; 1 John 3:10; 1 John 5:19) is manifestly “johannean,” and that we read at 1 John 3:6 : οὐχ ἑώρακεν αὐτὸν notwithstanding the addition there of οὐδὲ ἔγνωκεν αὐτὸν, and at 1 John 4:8 : οὐκ ἔγνω τὸν θεόν, 1 John 2:3 : ἐγνώκαμεν αὐτὸν.

3 John 1:12. Unto Demetrius testimony hath been borne by all, and by the truth itself.—Demetrius was probably the bearer of this Epistle (Lücke, Düsterdieck, Huther), and John commends him to Gaius. Hence he cannot be one of the βουλόμενοι, whom Diotrephes is said to have hindered and excommunicated (Ebrard); in that, case he would have been a member of the congregation to which Gaius belonged, and known to him. The Perfect μεμαρτύρηται denotes a testimony which has been given and continues to be valid; used absolutely, without any further qualification, it always denotes a good testimony (Acts 6:3; Acts 10:22; Acts 16:2, etc.). In ὑπὸ πάντων the reference is to Christians; for the matter in question bears on the Christian excellence of Demetrius (Lücke); the restriction to those who knew him, is self-evident, and hence otherwise than in 2 John 1:1. Limiting it to the brethren 3Jn 1:5; 3 John 1:7; 3 John 1:10 (Ebrard), or extending it to Jews and Gentiles (Oecumenius), cannot be done; there is nothing to warrant either construction; the former would require a further qualification, the latter is limited to his congregation by the context.—Καὶ ὑπ’ αὐτῆς τῆς� imports a personified and independent testimony running parallel with that of the πάντες, equal to it, real, and the truth itself giving that testimony. Hence we cannot agree with the explanation of Huther who thinks that the Apostle wanted to give prominence to the circumstance that the good testimony of all was not founded on their human judgment, in the testimony of the ἀλήθεια dwelling in them, and refers to John 15:26-27. There the truth does not bear testimony concurrent with, and outside of the πάντες, but in them and out of themselves. We ought rather to think with Düsterdieck of the walk and conversation of Demetrius, in which the ἀλήθεια dwelling in him, shows itself as vital and bearing testimony to him; he is an image of the truth, which is personified in him, in his walk and nature. It is not sufficient to think here only of the res ipsa, or res ipsæ, the reality (a Lapide, Grotius, Beausobre); the Divine Truth is the witness here. [Alford reproducing, and, as so often, improving on Düsterdieck: “The objective Truth of God, which is the Divine rule of the walk of all believers, gives a good testimony to him, who really walks in the truth. This witness lies in the accordance of his walk with the requirement of God’s Truth. It was the mirror in which the walk of Demetrius was reflected; and his form, thus seen in the mirror of God’s Truth, in which the perfect form of Christ is held up to us (1 John 2:6; 1 John 3:3; 1 John 3:16), appeared in the likeness of Christ: so that the mirror itself seemed to place in a clear light his Christian virtue and uprightness, and thus to bear witness to him.”—M.].

But we also bear testimony.—John adds now his own testimony, as a third [and independent testimony—M.]; καὶ ἡμεῖς δὲ makes this testimony of the Apostle very emphatic. Cf. notes on. 1 John 1:3.

And thou knowest that our testimony is true.—The reference is only to the personal testimony of the Apostle; Grotius explains erroneously: “alii, qui Ephesi sunt.” Cf. John 19:35; John 21:24. Gaius knows and values it as a true and reliable testimony; not however because of the episcopal, apostolical and canonical dignity of John (a Lapide), but because of his personal truthfulness.


1. Outward prosperity, and more especially physical health, are of sufficient value to become the objects of a Christian wish in the form of intercession, but must always be subordinated to the health, or rather by Divine grace to the recovery of the soul walking in the truth of God. A parallel passage is 2 Corinthians 12:7 (σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί) cf. 3 John 1:9—(ἀρκεῖ σοι ἡ χάρις μου, ἡ γὰρ δύναμις ἐν�).

2. The greatest joy of the servants of Christ is, not to labour in vain in their congregations, though they labour for nothing (3 John 1:4).

3. Participation in the work of missions is the sacred duty of individuals (3 John 1:5-8) as well as of Churches (3 John 1:10), and a life-token of the truth in them (3 John 1:8; 3 John 1:11). Missionaries are objects of Christian love.

4. Ambition destroys the efficiency and position of men, so that they not only work evil themselves, but also hinder good.
5. Church-visitation is an official work, derived from the Apostolical Church.
6. We should look to and imitate in our walk and conversation those who have a good testimony in truth, not those who err and commit sin.


Compare Ethical.—Health is the foundation of all human activity. A sickly man cannot even think healthily. Men would be surprised, if they were able to take such a survey, to find how many of the things which have filled the world with feuds and laden with errors, may be traced back to a disordered stomach. Who would go to sea in a leaky vessel?

Starke:—Christians should bless and greet one another, wish one another good, pray for one another, so that all of us may be benefited.—There is none so weak but that he may be of use to others; though it be done only by wishing and praying, yet it is a great service.—A faithful teacher may be known by this token, that he rejoices over the spiritual growth of his hearers and others, and thanks God for it.—The evangelical truth is not still, it walks and causes those to walk who have it.—The natural life is not concluded with one step; sure, the spiritual life is a constant progression unto death.—Preachers have anxiety and toil in their ministry, they meet with hatred and envy, opposition and persecution, mockery and derision, but their joy in the fruits of their labour overcomes all the rest.—Would that all evangelical ministers might become zealous and imitators of the holy men of God, who have faithfully performed the work of the Lord. Let every one be of good cheer and courage in the discharge of his duty and he will be exalted to their society in heaven.—He who seeks only temporal and transitory things in the ministry is an antichrist and brings shame on the name of Christ.—It is very injurious to the course of the Gospel, if its servants seek only their own advantage; this makes more atheists than Christians.—Those who while exhorting others to the practice of godliness, include themselves, not only set a higher value on their exhortation, but also render it more telling and efficacious.—Those who receive the servants of Christ, receive Himself. Should we then not eagerly long to receive Him in His members? He will richly pay for His entertainment.—He that is of the truth and loves the truth must seek to further it in every possible way; this is the mark of a true one.—Be not surprised if thou findest no room with the clear truth among false teachers and prophets; for Christ Himself and His Apostles did not find it.—When loose talkers have exhausted words and proofs, they forthwith have recourse to detraction, slander and abuse.—Devilish malice—not to do good yourself and actually to hinder others who would do good.—False teachers are opposed to the children of God and avoid their company; but this very course shows plainly that they are not the children of God.—Heretics and false teachers foster not only errors of the understanding, but these are also allied to perversity and a malicious will.—The knowledge of the letter [of the Scriptures], is vastly remote from illumination.—He who does not see God by faith here, will not see Him in glory hereafter.—Benefits which have been shown to us, should be publicly acknowledged.

Heubner:—Here we are reminded of the double health. How rarely do we ask after the health of the soul: it is thought unbecoming, and yet it is the most important matter.—Let the sick in body be specially anxious for the health of the soul (2 Corinthians 4:16).—Spiritual paternal joys may compensate us for the want of bodily ones (2 Corinthians 1:14; 1 Thessalonians 2:19).—Where do we now find a congregation interested in the spiritual condition of another congregation?—The exhibition of love to the messengers of the Gospel, is a duty we owe to the Gospel itself. Such love exalts the praise of Christianity and of the Church.—Diotrephes probably turned them away as vagabonds. There were of course those who went begging in the name of the Gospel, idle begging brothers [Grussbrüder], like the μητραγύρται among the heathen went begging in the name of Mother Cybele.—The hatred of strange, calling and visiting Christians which is also found among clergymen, proceeds from a secret, wicked malice; they do not want strangers to become acquainted with the condition of their congregation, or to bring the Gospel which they themselves do lack; they are afraid of being eclipsed and of having their credit impaired (1 Thessalonians 2:16).—Demetrius is so faithful and simple that the truth itself commends him in speaking forth from him. This is the best commendation, which we can have through ourselves and through faith (2 Corinthians 1:12).—You cannot give a testimonial to others, unless you have out of themselves [i.e., from their life and conversation.—M.] a testimony of the truth.

Besser:—Hospitality was a conspicuous virtue of the first Christians, and St. Paul enumerates it among the qualities of an unblamable bishop (1 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:8). Every parsonage, yea, every Christian house was a home to travellers, where expelled brethren, or brethren travelling as evangelists met with hospitable welcome.—Instead of causing his name (Diotrephes, one nursed by Jupiter, the great mythological god of the heathen) to be mistaken and of becoming a Theotrephes, one nursed by God, he continued in the captivity of the love of the world.—The elder would not have admonished a confirmed obdurate man.—When a Diotrephes desired to be highly esteemed, a John had to be little esteemed. Where it is impossible to obey the law of God, there we ought not to be possible.


3 John 1:2; 3 John 1:2. [German: “In all things.” So Lillie. “Concerning all things.” Alford.—M.]

3 John 1:3; 3 John 1:3. Cod. Sin. and several minusc. omit γὰρ after ἐΧάρην.

3 John 1:3; 3 John 1:3. [German: “When brethren came.” Lillie.—M.]

3 John 1:3; 3 John 1:3. [German: “And testified to thy truth;” so Alford, Lillie.—M.]

3 John 1:3; 3 John 1:3. σὺ is emphatic, omitted in A., but inserted in B. C. G. K. Cod. Sin.

3 John 1:3; 3 John 1:3. [German: “In truth,” without the Article; so Alford, Lillie.—M.]

3 John 1:4; 3 John 1:4. The best authorities read τούτων; ταύτης found only in minusc. and versions, is doubtless a correction.—Some read χάριν instead of χαρὰν. [German: “Greater than this I have [no joy, that;” Lillie: “Greater joy than this I have none, to hear;” Alford: “I have no greater joy than this, that.”—M.]

3 John 1:4; 3 John 1:4. A. B. ἐντῇἀλησείᾳ; C. Cod. Sin. al. omit the Article.

3 John 1:5; 3 John 1:5. [German: “Beloved, thou actest faithfully.” So Lillie.—M.]

3 John 1:5; 3 John 1:5. B C. G. K. Cod. Sin. al. read ἐργάσῃ, so that the ἐργάζῃ of A cannot stand.

3 John 1:5; 3 John 1:5. A. B. C. Cod. Sin. al. have καὶτοῦτο, instead of καὶεἰςτοὐς, of G. K. [German: “And that strangers.” So Alford.—M.]

3 John 1:6; 3 John 1:6. [German: “Who have testified to thy love before the Church;” so Lillie and Alford, who renders however; “in the presence of the Church.”—M.]

3 John 1:6; 3 John 1:6. [German: “Whom thou shalt do well to conduct (forward) worthily of God.” Alford: “Whom thou wilt do well if thou forward on their way, worthily of God;” Lillie: “Whom thou shalt do well to forward their way, in a manner worthy of God.”—M.]

3 John 1:7; 3 John 1:7. [German: “For they went out on behalf of the name;” Lillie: “For in behalf of the name they went forth.” Alford: “On behalf of.”—M.]

3 John 1:7; 3 John 1:7. A. B. C. Cod. Sin. al. read ἐθνικῶν, instead of ἐθνῶν, the reading of G. K. [German: “Receiving nothing from the heathens.”—M.]

3 John 1:8; 3 John 1:8. A. B. C. Cod. Sin. al.: ὐπολαμβάνειν; G.K.: ἀπολαμβάνειν.

3 John 1:8; 3 John 1:8. Τῇἀληθείᾳ; Cod. Sin.: τῇἐκκλησίᾳ, with the emendation τῇἀληθείᾳ, [The latter reading, without the emendation, occurs also in A.—M.]

3 John 1:9; 3 John 1:9. A. B. C. Cod. Sin. read τι; a hand has added ἄν in Cod. Sin. [German: “I wrote somewhat to the Church;” so Alford.—M.]

3 John 1:9; 3 John 1:9. [German: “ But he who loveth to be the first of them, Diotrephes, does not receive us;” Lillie: “But he who loveth to be foremost among them, Diotrephes, doth not admit us;” Alford: “Howbeit, Diotrephes, who loveth preëminence over them, receiveth us not.”—M.]

3 John 1:10; 3 John 1:10. [German: “Therefore, if I come, I will bring to remembrance;” so Lillie; Alford: “Bring to mind.”—M.]

3 John 1:10; 3 John 1:10. [German: “Wicked words.”—M.]

3 John 1:10; 3 John 1:10. [German: “And not contented with this, neither does he himself receive the brethren, but also, those who would do it, he hindereth, and casteth out of the Church.”—M.]

3 John 1:11; 3 John 1:11. [German: “Imitate not evil, but good;” so Alford.—M.]

3 John 1:11; 3 John 1:11. ὁκακοποιῶν is best authenticated [A. B. C. K.—M.]; ὁδὲ κακοπ., text. rec., is only feebly supported. [German: “He that doeth evil,” omits the “but” of E. V., so Alford.—M.]

3 John 1:12; 3 John 1:12. [C. inserts τῆς ἐκκλησίας καὶ before τῆςἀληθείας. Instead of ἀληθείας A. probably reads ἐκκλησίας. [A. corrected, B. G. K. read ἀληθείας. German: “Unto Demetrius testimony hath been borne by all, and by the truth itself.”—M.]

3 John 1:12; 3 John 1:12. [German: “And thou knowest; A. B. C. al. Vulg.: οἶδας; οἴδατε 1.r. according to the G. K. al. several versions, etc.—M.]

3 John 1:12; 3 John 1:12. [German: “That our testimony is true.”—M.]

Verses 13-14


3 John 1:13-14

13I had many things to write,29 but I will30 not with ink and pen write31 unto thee:32 14But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face.33 Peace be to thee. Our friends34 salute thee. Greet the friends35 by name.36


Close of the Epistle. 3 John 1:13-14.

3 John 1:13. I should have much to write to thee.—Πολλὰ, emphatic, placed first. The Imperfect εἶχον without ἄν, is idiomatic Greek and must be rendered in the Subjunctive in German. See Winer p. 283 sqq.; [The objection to the rendering of E. V. “I had many things to write” is that the Apostle does not advert to the past but to the present. So Huther 2d ed. “I should have much to write” brings out this shade of thought in English.—M.].

But I will not write unto thee with ink and pen.—Cf. 2 John 1:12.

3 John 1:14. But I hope, soon to see thee.—The contrast to writing, for which the Apostle has no further inclination (Düsterdieck), is oral intercourse which he hopes soon to realize.

And we shall speak mouth to mouth.—The Future λαλήσομεν denotes the assurance of hope. The object is πολλὰ 3 John 1:13, and the particulars indicated in the Epistle.

Greetings 3 John 1:14.

3 John 1:14. Peace be to thee.—The greeting of the Apostle to the beloved Gaius. As at the beginning of the Epistle the simple χαίρειν is not sufficient for the fulness of the Christian greeting, so at the close the common ἔῤῥωσο (Acts 23:30; Acts 15:29) is displaced by richer and deeper forms. There the wish of peace is most appropriate (Galatians 6:16; Ephesians 6:23; 1Pe 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Romans 15:33 and al.), because peace may be regarded as the sum-total of the Divine gifts of grace in Christ (Luke 2:4; John 14:27) as N. de Lyra correctly explains it: “Pax interna conscientiæ, pax fraterna amicitiæ, pax superna gloriæ” (Düsterdieck). [Alford: “Remember our Lord’s legacy, John 14:27; and His greeting after the resurrection, εἰρήνη ὑμῖν, John 20:19; John 20:26.”].—Joy moreover is health of the soul.

The friends salute thee.—Bengel: “Rara in N. T. appellatio, absorpta majori fraternitatis. Errant philosophi, qui putant amicitiam non instrui a fide.” John 15:15. The expression suits a purely private Epistle, written on purely personal relations (Lücke). Bede: “Amicis gratiam pacis mandat et salutis et per hæc Diotrephen ceterosque veritatis inimicos a salute et pace vestra monstrat extraneos.” Among the ἀδελφοί, which are generally saluted (Php 4:21; 1 Corinthians 16:20; Ephesians 6:23), John, according to 2 John 1:9-11, probably included Diotrephes, because he acted only as an ambitiosus, but does not seem to have been wrong and erred in the doctrine of Christ’s incarnation; but he and his party were not φίλοι to the Apostle, like Gaius and Demetrius. Cf. John 11:11; Acts 27:3.

Greet the friends by name.—Κατ’ ὄνομα=ὀνομαστί (John 10:3); Bengel: “Non secus ac si nomina eorum præscripta essent.” The greetings, and especially those by name, have so deep an import and so great a value, that Paul fills a whole chapter of his Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:1-24) with them, and often adds a series.


Starke:—It is not advisable to confide every thing to the pen; many things may be better and more effectively stated orally than in writing.—It is not a small benefit, if the children of God may visit each other and delight in friendly conversation.—We are in the company of the holy men of God whenever we hear or read their writings.

Heubner:—We see, how even letters of friendship are hallowed by faith. Everything should have the impress of our evangelical frame of mind. A mind wholly penetrated by the spirit of Christianity will not deny itself even in unimportant letters of friendship. Examples may be seen in Sailer’s Christian letters of every century, in the letters of Luther, Tersteegen and John Newton.—The children of peace receive peace (Luke 10:5-6).

Besser:—John greets the friends by name; he carries them all in his heart, and every one in particular. This is presbyter-fidelity.—

[Wordsworth:—The good pastor imitates that Good Shepherd, who “calleth His sheep by name.” John 10:3.—M.].


3 John 1:13; 3 John 1:13. A. B. C. Cod. Sin. read: γράψαισοι.

3 John 1:13; 3 John 1:13. B. C. Cod. Sin.: οὐ θέλω. The reading οὐκ ἐβουλήθην in A. originated from 2 John 1:12, and like οὐκ ἤθελον formed alter it.

3 John 1:13; 3 John 1:13. B. C. Cod. Sin.: σοιγράφειν; A: γράφεινσοι.

3 John 1:13; 3 John 1:13. [German: “I should have much to write unto thee, but I will not write unto thee with ink and pen.”—M.]

3 John 1:14; 3 John 1:14. [German: “But I hope soon to see thee, and we shall speak mouth to mouth.”—M.]

3 John 1:14; 3 John 1:14. B. C. G. K. Cod. Sin. read: φίλοι; A. ἀδελφοί. [German: “The friends salute thee.”—M.]

3 John 1:14; 3 John 1:14. Several unimportant Codd. read ἀδελφούς instead of φίλους.

3 John 1:14; 3 John 1:14. G. inserts ἀμήν.—A. B. Cod. Sin. have the subscription: Ἰωάννου γ. The usual additions occur here and there, but are not sufficiently authenticated.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 3 John 1". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/3-john-1.html. 1857-84.
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