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3 John 1

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Verses 1-4

3Jn 1:1-4


(3 John 1:1-4)

1 The elder unto Gaius the beloved, whom I love in truth. The author is thus the same as the writer of the second epistle, "the elder," i.e., the apostle John. (See the Introduction to the Second and Third Epistles of John.) The missive was addressed to Gaius. The name occurs in Acts 19:29 20:4; Romans 16:23 ; and 1 Corinthians 1:14, but inasmuch as it was a common name in the Roman Empire of the time, we are not justified in inferring that it was one of those thus referred to. The description, "the be-loved," reveals the esteem in which Gaius was held by those who knew him. "Whom I love in the truth" was John’s specific affir-mation of regard, in addition to that in which the disciple Gaius was generally held. For the significance of the phrase "in truth," see the comments on 2 John 1:1.

2 Beloved, I pray that in all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.--Four times, in this brief letter, the word "beloved" occurs, viz., verse 1, here, and in verse 5 and 11. This verse thus contains an address of affec-tion; it reveals that John was praying for his beloved friend and brother in the Lord; informs us that that for which he prayed was that Gaius might (a) prosper (financially); and (b) be in health; that such should be to the extent that his soul prospered. Here, incidentally, is the standard by which to determine how rich one may safely become: just so long as the soul prospers! So long as one enjoys soul prosperity, his riches bless and benefit not only himself, but others; when they impair spiritual health, the interests of the soul demand, as in the case of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17 31) that a surgical operation be performed and they be severed from us!

It would appear from the apostle’s petition that Gaius’ health was not good and that he was also not a prosperous man. It is possible his soul health was better than either his physical or finan-cial health, hence the prayer that these might equal that. On the other hand, it may be that the prayer was a simple petition for the welfare of Gaius without any implication that either his finan-cial condition or physical health was good or bad, but that they might be as good as his soul already was. In either view, the principle is the same: a recognition of the superior importance of the interests of the soul. The apostle was speaking in the spirit of his Master’s admonition when he said: "But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33.) Having put first things first, it was entirely in order that Gaius should have health and pros-perity. It is a lesson so sorely needed among us today. We should ever remember to subordinate the material to the spiritual, and never allow the world to gain precedence in our thoughts and lives.

3 For I rejoiced greatly, when brethren came and bare wit-ness unto thy truth, even as thou walkest in truth.--The apostle rejoiced-; the occasion of his joy was the witness which the brethren brought of the faithfulness of Gaius that he walked in truth. The verbs, "came," and "bear witness," are present participles, (erchomenon, marturounton), and thus suggest repeti-tive action, i.e., "brethren are constantly coming, and continually bearing witness to me of thy truth." The clause, "even as thou walkest in truth," is not an independent one by which the apostle added the testimony of his own to that of the brethren; but is epexegetical of the former, and gives the substances of the testi-mony which they brought.

The brethren who bore this testimony regarding Gaius to John are not certainly known, though they may well have been those to whom the apostle refers in verse 5. These brethren had carried a letter of recommendation to the church, which John had written, and though entertained by Gaius and given hospitality by him. had been rejected by the church through the influence of Dio-trephes. (Verse 5-11.) These would, therefore, be able to testify of the kindness and faithfulness of Gaius, in contrast with the un brotherliness of Diotrephes. It seems reasonable to assume that these bearing witness particularly referred to here were indeed the brethren whom the apostle had sent. The final clause of verse three, rendered, "Even as thou walkest in truth," has, in the origi-nal text the pronoun "thou" in emphatic position: "Thou (in con-trast with Diotrephes), walkest in truth."

From verses 5 and 6, it appears that Gaius’ faithfulness con-sisted not only of devotion to the cause of the Lord, but in liber-ality, hospitality and good works. In these matters that disciple continued; and this, John described as walking in truth! Again, there is emphasized here, that which is repeatedly taught through-out the Bible: it is not possible to separate theory and practice in genuine Christianity. "What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he bath faith, but have not works? can that faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked and in lack of daily food, and one if you say unto them, Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; and yet we give them not the things needful to the body ; what dothprofit?Evensofaith, if it have not works, is dead in itself. Yea, a man will say, Thou bast faith, and I have works show me thy faith apart from thy works, and I by my works will show thee my faith. Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well: the demons also believe, and shudder. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith apart from works is barren? Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith." (James 2 14-20, 24.) There is thus no genuine faith without works, nor are works of value without faith, or such as are produced by faith. It is only when the two are united that the practice of genuine Christianity results.

4 Greater joy have I none than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.--"Greater," here (meizoteran), is a double comparative, and thus a term of great emphasis. Compare the "more better" of Paul in Philippians 1:23. These forms are of frequent occurrence in both biblical and classical Greek. In Ephesians 3:8, there is a comparative on a superlative: "Unto me whom am less than the least of all saints . . ." In this manner did the apostle indicate the tremendous satisfaction he derived from the knowledge that his children (those whom he converted to the truth, or with whom he had been closely associated in the work of the Lord), walked in truth. That which brought joy to the apostle’s heart is likewise a source of much satisfaction to all faithful gospel preachers today. To know that those we have been instrumental in leading to the truth are continuing stedfastly in faith and good works warms the heart and stirs the emotion of all true teachers of the word.

Commentary on 3 John 1:1-4 by E.M. Zerr

3 John 1:1. The clder. This term is explained at verse 1 of 2 John. There are several persons named Gaius in the New Testament. Thayer notes them in connection with certain passages, and at our verse lie says the following: "An unknown Christian, to whom the third epistle of John is addressed." Robinson’s Lexicon, Funk and Wagnalls New Standard Bible Dictionary all favor the same identity. He was evidently John’s convert, for in verse 4 he is included in "my children." Whom, I love in the truth is the same thing he says of the "lady" in the preceding book. It means his love for them is because of their devotion to the truth.

3 John 1:2. This verse is similar to many passages where the grace of God is wished for the disciples. However, in this the writer is first expressing a wish for the physical health of his convert. He is interested in his spiritual welfare, of course, but he seems to know that Gaius is in satisfactory condition in that respect, which is indicated by the words as thy soul prospereth.

3 John 1:3. Some brethren had brought a report of the conduct of Gaius which was favorable. That is the basis of his remark about his soul prospering.

3 John 1:4. The joy over the faithfulness of this convert is the kind of "reward" that he means in 2 John 1:8. Being one of his converts John speaks of him as being among his children. (See explanation of this subject at 1 Timothy 1:2.)

Commentary on 3 John 1:1-4 by N.T. Caton

3 John 1:1The elder unto the well beloved Gaius.

This is a repetition of what was said in the second epistle by the writer as to himself. He calls himself here, as there, the elder. It may be an allusion to his age; in any event, it exhibits the same modesty that his brother apostle, Peter, showed in his writings. For this characteristic the apostle John was specially noted.

3 John 1:1 --Well beloved Gaius.

Whether it be of importance to know something of the person to whom the aged apostle pens this letter or not, it can not be amiss to notice what the inspired text says of one having a similar name. "And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre" (Acts 19:29). This was at Ephesus, the place where the writer of this epistle is sup­posed to have resided after the destruction of Jerusalem. A companion of Paul in his labors and travels would suffi­ciently indicate a character devoted to the cause of the gospel as would entitle him to the endearing words applied to him by the disciple whom Jesus loved, "the well-beloved Gaius." And, not withstanding his rough treatment at Ephesus, he continued in the company of Paul in some of his subsequent journeyings, as we learn from Acts 24:4. Before his sufferings for the cause of Christ, he is mentioned as a householder at Corinth, where of him the apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, makes mention as follows: "Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you" (Romans 16:23). The character here given of the man is in keeping with the view that the writer of the third epistle of John would doubtless have us entertain. He is one of the few Corinthians that was baptized by the apostle Paul in person. (1 Corinthians 1:4.) Take the history all in all, I am inclined to believe that these mentions of the name of Gaius, however few they may be in number, refer to one and the same individual. With these references to the well-beloved Gaius, the curtain of sacred history drops upon him forever, and no further view is permitted of one so highly esteemed for his devotion to and steadfastness in the faith by our Lord’s last surviving ambassador on earth. Enough, however, is outlined by his Christian character to justify John, in our judgment, for his expressions of love for him in the truth. More of like character in the church of Christ would render that church a much greater factor in accom­plishing the moral reformation of the world.

3 John 1:2Beloved, I wish above all things.

The writer unbosomed himself to the person he addresses by showing his warm affection for him in the expression: "I wish above all things." The wish is, that he may prosper and be in health, and the extent of that prosperity and health which he wished Gaius to enjoy, he measures by the prosperity of his soul. This was a measure Gaius would easily comprehend by his own consciousness. Gaius would know within himself how unselfishly he was devoted to the Lord and his cause; and just to the extent he prospered spiritually, he was to understand that just to that extent John wished him to prosper and have good health.

3 John 1:3For I rejoiced greatly.

John now gives Gaius a view of how the reports the brethren brought him of the conduct and conversation of Gaius affected him. He was overjoyed to learn that Gaius exhibited all these unmistakable evidences of being a true follower of the Master, notwithstanding his evil surround­ings.

3 John 1:3 --I have no greater joy than to hear.

John’s life was wrapped up in his desire to have all men learn, and know, and obey the truth. For this he lived; for this he labored; for this he suffered. And when he heard of men and women who had taken upon themselves the name of Christ, acting in accord with the instruction they had received, it gave him great pleasure. This is the compensa­tion he sought, all the reward he seemed to care for on earth.

3 John 1:4 --My children walk in truth.

How tenderly the aged apostle looked upon the children of his Master. He calls them "My children." They may have been such when age is taken into the account, or with reference to the time they became servants of the Lord, as compared to his own service, or with regard to the relation­ship, spiritually, that existed—the same close, tender ties that exist between father and son.

3 John 1:4 --Walk in truth.

The course of conduct enjoined by the inspired instruc­tors. The Master had said, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20). First. Preach the gospel. Secondly. All who believe the gospel so preached and trustingly accept—baptize. Thirdly. The baptized ones teach how they shall conduct themselves throughout their life’s journey. Fourthly. Assuring them by such conduct of the reward of eternal life. All such as observe, the inspired instruction given them after becoming members of Christ’s body, the church, are said in Scripture to be walking in the truth.

Commentary on 3 John 1:1-4 by Burton Coffman


3 John 1:1 --The elder unto Gaius the beloved, whom I love in truth.

The elder ... For another comment on the apostle’s use of this title, see under 2 John 1:1.

Gaius ... It is impossible to make any positive identification of this man with any of the four other persons of the same name mentioned in the New Testament. See in introduction, above. Nothing whatever is known of this man, except that which may be supposed or surmised from what is written in this letter.

The beloved ... This expression is personal and intimate, contrasting sharply with the far more general "whom I love in the truth" used in connection with it; and, significantly, it was the general expression only that John used in Second John, indicating that the 2nd epistle was actually addressed to a church, and not to an individual. "Whom I love in the truth" is a broad greeting, much like, "in Christian love," and carries nothing of the personal intensity conveyed by "the beloved."

The truth ... Of this expression, Plummer noted:

We have to notice the characteristic repetition of the word "truth," which occurs four times in the first four verses ... "To walk in the truth" is nothing less than to follow in the footsteps of the Lord.[7]

It is this and other typical words which require the conclusion that the apostle John is indeed the author of all these letters ascribed to him.


[7] A. Plummer, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22,3John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 1.

3 John 1:2 --Beloved, I pray that in all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

Beloved ... "Three of the first eleven words with which the Epistle opens refer to love."[8]

That thou mayest prosper ... Here the apostle prayed for the prosperity of Gaius, and from this it is clearly not wrong for Christians to pray for prosperity; however, the qualifier should be carefully noted, "as thy soul prospereth!" The prosperity of the soul is paramount. Truly Christian people need prosperity that they may be able, as Gaius was, to dispense hospitality, aid good causes, and prevent themselves from becoming burdens upon the backs of other people. Beza translated the verse here as a prayer "for things temporal as well as for things spiritual."[9] "Prosper literally means to have a good journey."[10]

And be in health ... Good health is likewise a blessing which Christians are privileged to pray for; because, without good health, Christian service must necessarily be curtailed or abandoned, The apostles were, in no sense, health fadists, Paul even saying that "bodily exercise profiteth little (or for a little while)"; but, having due regard for the transitory nature of all earthly endowments, the child of God should nevertheless strive mightily for the maintenance and preservation of good health, the greatest of all physical blessings.

[8] John R. W. Stott, Tyndale New Testament Commentary, Vol. 19 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964), p. 218.

[9] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 158.

[10] John R. W. Stott, op. cit., p. 218.

3 John 1:3 --For I rejoiced greatly, when brethren came and bare witness unto thy truth, even as thou walkest in truth.

When brethren came ... "The present tense indicates that not on one occasion, but on several, report[11] came." Wilder also agreed that, "The Greek participles here indicate that numerous such reports had come in."[12]

Their witness unto thy truth ... This refers to the enthusiastic reports of traveling missionaries in their appearances in various congregations where they were privileged to speak (3 John 1:6). "Witnessing" of this kind was done by the apostles themselves when they reported to "sponsoring" congregations that sent them out.

That thou walkest in truth ... Truth in the apostolic age was almost a technical term meaning "the faith," "the doctrine of Christ," or "the true religion." The modern conception of "all of us disciples are merely trying to find out what truth is" was never heard of by the primitive church. They knew the truth; they had obeyed the truth; they were walking in the truth; they loved the truth. With regard to the great basics of Christianity, one must indeed know them before he can even become a Christian.

[11] Charles C. Ryrie, Wycliffe Bible Commentary, New Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 1036.

[12] Amos N. Wilder, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. XII (New York: Abingdon Press, 1956), p. 309.

3 John 1:4 --Greater joy have I none than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.

Greater joy have I none ... The word "greater" here, in the Greek is, "a double comparative as betterer would be in English."[13] Paul frequently used such expressions, as in Ephesians 3:8; and Shakespeare has, "How much more elder art thou than thy looks!"[14]

My children walking in the truth ... Some have surmised from this that John had converted Gaius, but "this is not certain."[15] After all, John’s writing as "the elder" to congregations and persons over whom he had spiritual oversight was fully justified in this usage, whether or not he had converted all of his charges.

Walking in truth ... What does this mean? See under 3 John 1:3. Bruce gave the following definition of it:

"The truth" is Christianity to its fullness; when one who professes allegiance to Christianity lives a life in conformity with his profession, then he does not merely pay lip-service to the truth but "walks in the truth." In effect, walking in the truth is the same things as walking in the light (1 John 1:7).[16]

[13] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 1062.

[14] William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, IV, 1.

[15] Amos N. Wilder, op. cit., p. 309.

[16] F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972), p. 134.

Verses 5-8

3Jn 1:5-8


(3 John 1:5-8)

5 Beloved, thou doest a faithful work in whatsoever thou doest toward them that are brethren and strangers withal; --In verse 4, John had commended Gaius for the fact that he walked in truth. Here, he makes particular mention of the acts in which Gaius had exhibited faithfulness: he had supplied hospitality for the "brethren," and "withal" (and that also) to "strangers." This faithful disciple had not limited his bounty to those known to him; he had extended it to the strangers who came, i.e., to brethren personally unknown to him. Missionaries, properly ac-credited, were certain to find a welcome at his house, whether he had previously known them or not. From what follows in the Epistle, we may infer that Gaius had been sharply criticised by Diotrephes (a domineering church boss) for what he had done ; and John carefully put the stamp of apostolic approval on his work in emphatic fashion. To provide for those who were bearers of the message of salvation was a faithful work; and the apostle urged Gaius to continue in it.

6 Who bare witness of thy love before the church:--The antecedent of "who" is both the brethren and the "strangers" of verse 5. Though strangers, they were brethren, but brethren formerly unknown to Gaius. These testified to the church of Gaius’ faithfulness and acts of love. The congregation before which they appeared and bore this witness is not stated, though we may infer that it was the church in Ephesus, since here, accord-ing to reliable tradition, John lived when, it is believed, his Epistles were written. That it was before the public meeting of the church when Gaius was commended, follows from the fact that the article does not appear before the word "church" in the text. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 14:35, en ekklesiai, "in church.") The commendation was uttered, so we believe, in the midst of a report being made to the church of their evangelistic activities.

Whom thou wilt do well to set forward on their journey worthily of God:--From this it would appear that this same group of missionaries were contemplating another visit to that re-gion, and would need the aid of Gaius; and the apostle, therefore, admonished him that he would "do well" to continue to evidence his faithfulness by setting them forward on their journey in a man-ner worthy of a follower of God. The custom then prevailed to start a guest on his journey by accompanying him for some dis-tance, by providing money and food for the trip, and by bidding him Godspeed on the way. To this gracious custom Paul refers in Romans 15:24, and Titus 3:13. The phrase, "to set forward on their journey," means thus not only to accompany one a portion of the way, but also to supply the ordinary means for such a journey. (Cf. Acts 21:5.)

7 Because that for the sake of the Name they went forth. --The name for which these missionaries went forth was the name of Jesus Christ. (Cf. Acts 5:4; James 2:7’; 1 Peter 4:16.) Thus early in the history of Christianity, the name represented all that Christ was and taught and did. When the shadow of Dark Ages descended upon the world, the word became a passport in dangerous places, serving as an introduction and protection to those who accepted the Lord’s standard. When the agents of persecution came to ferret out the martyr, and when civil and papal edicts shut the door of sympathy, occasionally help could be ob-tained by knocking at the door of others, and whispering, "In the Name!" As the name in the Old Testament stands for Jehovah so in the New Testament, it is the synonym for Christ.

These words explain why the hospitality which Gaius accorded the missionaries which came his way was so essential and im-portant. They "went forth," not in their own name, or by their own authority, but "in the name of," (by the authority of) Christ, to bear his message to the lost. They were thus entirely worthy of the bounty bestowed upon them, the shelter and food which they received.

Taking nothing of the Gentiles.--It would have been un-seemly for these who carried the message of salvation to depend for support on those to whom they preached. Such would have exposed them to the charge that they sought material advantage for themselves, and that their preaching was merely a pretext to obtain that. There is nothing which so quickly wins men to a sympathetic hearing as the realization of complete unselfishness on the part of those who bear the message to them: and it is abso-lutely requisite that in all missionary efforts, the missionaries be wholly independent financially and materially of those to whom they preach. (Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:3.)

8 We therefore ought to welcome such, that we may be fellow-workers for the truth.--That missionaries are not to receive support from the heathen or unbelievers to whom they go, does not mean that they are not worthy of support, or that the church is released from the obligation to provide for them. On the contrary, "we" (who are children of God) "ought" (are morally obligated) to "welcome such," (hupolambanein, present active infinitive), keep on welcoming such, as a regular practice in life, in order that we may be fellow-workers for the truth. As those who welcome and support those who preach false doc-trines become partakers with them (2 John 1:9), so those who re-ceive and maintain those who preach the truth, become fellow-workers for the truth. The word "welcome," is translated from a word which, in the first century, signified the reception of people into one’s house, the association which attends such receptions ; the fellowship which obtains; and the readiness with which, under such circumstances, provisions are supplied them.

Commentary on 3 John 1:5-8 by E.M. Zerr

3 John 1:5. Doest faithfully denotes that whatever Gaius did he was in earnest about it; not halfhearted. He did his good deeds for others "heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men" (Colossians 3:23). To brethren and to strangers is in keeping with Galatians 6:10. Paul there says for disciples to "do good unto all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith."

3 John 1:6. Have borne witness was done by the brethren mentioned in the preceding verse. They seem to have been traveling from place to place, or some of them were, which gave them an opportunity for making the report to John referred to. Gaius assisted these travelers in some way for their journey. After a godly sort means it was in the name of God and because of their work for Him.

3 John 1:7. These traveling brethren were evidently engaged in spreading the Gospel, for the next verse speaks about being fellowhelpers to the truth. The Lord has "ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:14). Yet Paul refrained from such support in order that he might relieve the brethren of that pressure. The brethren of our verse did something similar, except they evidently made that concession to the people of the nations (Gentiles).

3 John 1:8. Because of the aforesaid sacrifice John insists that the disciples should voluntarily assist them. Fellow helpers to the truth. A man may not be able to preach the Gospel, but if he supports the man who does so he becomes a partner with him in the work and will be blessed of the Lord for his contribution.

Commentary on 3 John 1:5-8 by N.T. Caton

3 John 1:5Beloved, thou doest faithfully.

Here, the apostle commends the conduct of Gaius. His hospitality extended not only to the brethren known to be such, but also to those who were unknown—those who were strangers. The contrast of this conduct with the men of that age was marked. In this hospitable conduct, Gaius was faith­ful, zealous, unremitting.

3 John 1:6Which have borne witness.

Persons upon whom these Christian favors had been bestowed by Gaius, the recipients of his Christian charity, had given the apostle information concerning it. It should, therefore, be no surprise to Gaius that the writer should speak of the matter in this epistle. These informants also testified before the church about this exhibition of love which Gaius had for the cause of Christ. I take it, that many of these recipients of the hospitality of Gaius had been out upon missions of one kind or another connected with the church—possibly upon evangelizing tours—and while the apostle not only rejoices at and commends Gaius for receiving these into his home, he also adds the additional method of helping the proclamation of the word in this, by aiding the proclaimers in going from place to place. These journeys are attended with labor and more or less expense. Gaius may aid in lessening the one or the other by his con­tributions. In this, should you thus act, you will do well.

3 John 1:6 --After a godly sort.

This would be well pleasing to God. It is as God would have you do. This will meet the approbation of the Master. The meaning is this: in addition to your hospitality to brethren and strangers, if you add such additional help as you can to those who are away on missions for or on behalf of the church, thus making their labor or expenses lighter on their journeys, you will also be performing acts well pleasing to God.

3 John 1:7Because that for his name’s sake.

Those whom I desire you to help on their journey went forth to sound the praises of the Master, the love of God to the world, that those who should be hearers might become the sons of God. Now, these went forth on this mission of love without calling upon the unconverted for assistance in the performance of the duties thereof. They went forth in the name of Christ, and for his cause; hence, could not call upon the Gentiles for aid or assistance. The meaning is not that the Gentiles had tendered aid which was rejected, as some suppose.

3 John 1:8We therefore ought to receive such

Since it is not prudent for those who go out upon evan­gelizing tours to ask for aid from the Gentiles, we who are members of Christ’s body, the church, ought to receive such and aid them to the extent of our ability. We thus become fellow-helpers in spreading the truth.

Commentary on 3 John 1:5-8 by Burton Coffman

3 John 1:5 --Beloved, thou doest a faithful work in whatsoever thou doest toward them that are brethren and strangers withal;

Beloved ... Note the transition to the section praising Gaius for his hospitality.

Thou doest ... doest ... "The second of these verbs is different from the first in the Greek, and implies more of toilful labor."[17] What is in view here is the marvelous hospitality of Gaius extended to traveling brethren who were spreading the gospel; and the words "strangers withal" show that he did not merely entertain those with whom he was personally acquainted. There were good solid reasons why traveling preachers of that day depended upon faithful brethren such as Gaius for their maintenance. The scarcity of inns, the disreputable character of such inns as were available, and the general poverty of many Christians contributed to this necessity.


[17] J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 1062.

3 John 1:6 --who bare witness of thy love before the church: whom thou wilt do well to set forward on their journey worthily of God:

This is a description of the "witnessing" mentioned in 3 John 1:3, which see. One may glimpse the enthusiasm and excitement of 1century evangelism in the thoughts here.

Set forward on their journey ... "The Greek works used here imply not only good wishes, but material support."[18] The New Testament custom of congregations accompanying such travelers a part of the way upon their departure is glimpsed again, and again, in the account of Paul’s travels in Acts.

Worthily of God ... indicates that Gaius was to go the whole way in his hospitality. It meant, "to help on one’s journey with food, money, by arranging for companions, and providing means of travel."[19] Dodd went so far as to declare that "set forward on their journey" was somewhat of "a technical term of early Christian missions, implying the assumption of financial responsibility for departing missionaries."[20] This would seem to be true. Certainly, Paul seems to have had in mind the financial support of brethren in Rome for his projected trip to Spain.

[18] Amos N. Wilder, op. cit., p. 310.

[19] J. W. Roberts, The Letters of John (Austin, Texas: R. B. Sweet Company, 1968), p. 175.

[20] John R. W. Stotts, op. cit., p. 222.

3 John 1:7 --because that for the sake of the Name they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.

In this and the following verse, there are three clear reasons why such missionaries should be supported: (1) What they are doing is for the glory of the precious Name (the name of Christ, of course). (2) They were not taking up collection among the heathen populations where they preached. (3) When such people are aided, their helpers become fellow-workers with them, thus sharing in the rewards of their labors (3 John 1:8). f For the sake of the Name ... The holy name of Jesus Christ stood for everything that Christians held dear; and the missionaries John was pleading for had forsaken everything for the privilege of preaching it to others. The generosity of the early church toward such preachers was profoundly great, leading to all kinds of abuses. Ignatius in his writing to the Ephesians said, "There are some who make a practice of carrying about the Name with wicked guile, and do certain other things unworthy of God."[21]

Taking nothing of the Gentiles ... Blaney noted that this does not mean that, "The Gentiles offered help which these brethren refused; but that they did not ask them for help."[22] Furthermore, it is obvious that Christian Gentiles are not meant, but the heathen. There is also another possible meaning here which was cited by Orr:

They went forth from the heathen taking nothing, in becoming Christians, and more particularly preachers, they surrendered rights of ownership and of inheritance in their heathen families.[23]

Paul, it will be remembered, counted "all things but dross" when he became a Christian.

[21] Amos N. Wilder, op. cit., p. 310.

[22] Harvey J. S. Blaney, Beacon Bible Commentary, Vol. 10 (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1969), p. 415.

[23] R. W. Orr, A New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 624.

3 John 1:8 --We therefore ought to welcome such, that we may be fellow-workers for the truth.

See under 3 John 1:7 for three reasons why missionaries such as these should be supported, the third being, "that we may be fellow-workers in the truth," that is, participants in the rewards of spreading the gospel. John has built up the case here to show how important it was for such men to be aided, thus pointing up the sinful nature of Diotrephes’ actions in shutting his doors against them and blocking the efforts any one else might have been willing to make on their behalf. All of this contrasts with the beautiful and hospitable behaviour of Gaius.

Verse 9

3Jn 1:9


(3 John 1:9)

9 I wrote somewhat unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. --Apparently, John had written a brief letter to the church in which Gaius held membership; perhaps it had been sent along by the missionaries which had come their way; but it had been suppressed and destroyed by Diotrephes, a man of prominence and leadership in the congregation, perhaps an elder or preacher. Because he loved to have the "preeminence," he refused to ac-knowledge John’s apostleship, or the missionaries in the fellowship of the apostle, and, hence, received them not. This personal letter to Gaius was a warning with reference to this designing man. The word "preeminence," (philoproteuon, present active participle,) is derived from philoprotos, a fondness for being first; and is, alas, a disposition too often observable in our ranks today. The spirit manifested by this man Diotrephes is wholly foreign to the New Testament and opposed to the teaching of the Lord himself. All self-serving and personal aggrandizement must be eschewed and avoided if we would measure to the standard of primitive Christianity.

Commentary on 3 John 1:9 by E.M. Zerr

3 John 1:9. I wrote unto the church means the church of which Gaius was a member. This is indicated by some following statements in the book. John insists that he will come to the place to which he wrote the letter referred to, and at the same time trusts to see Gaius face to face. The fact that John wrote unto the church but that Diotrephes ignored the letter, indicates that the epistle was sent to this man as an elder of the congregation. That would be usual to send an official document to the officers, or at least in their care, as we read that Paul addressed his epistle to the church at Philippi to "the bishops and deacons" (Philippians 1:1). The epistle had something to do with John’s proposed visit to the church, since he declares or implies that he is going to make the journey notwithstanding the opposition of. Diotrephes. This may raise a question in the mind of the reader whether it is right to visit a congregation against the authority of an elder. It is proper for an apostle to do so, for they were in the church before the elders. (See 1 Corinthians 12:28 where "governments" stands for the eldership.) Loveth to have the preeminence. This thirst for power among the elders is what resulted in the great falling away and development of the Church of Rome. Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 that the mystery of this iniquity was already at work when he was writing, and he evidently was referring to such characters as Diotrephes. (See General remarks at 2 Thessalonians 2).

Commentary on 3 John 1:9 by N.T. Caton

3 John 1:9—I wrote unto the church.

That is, John wrote a letter to the church of which Gaius was a member. This letter has not come down to us; it is presumably lost.

3 John 1:9 --But Diotrephes.

Here is the first mention of this man; nowhere else is he mentioned on the sacred pages. The same character he seems to have exhibited is frequently met with in others, even in our own day.

3 John 1:9 --Who loveth to have the pre-eminence.

Diotrephes assumed to be a leader. He was ambitious of prominence; he attempted to lord it over God’s heritage he, as far as in his power lay, controlled. He was enabled to assume the exercise of this authority by virtue of being a church official. Men assuming dictatorial powers are generally unscrupulous.

3 John 1:9 --Receiveth us not.

This man Diotrephes refused to be governed by the suggestions contained in John’s letter, which, probably, among other things, suggested hospitality and aid to those journeying in the cause of the gospel. Against this, Dio­trephes rebelled.

Commentary on 3 John 1:9 by Burton Coffman

3 John 1:9 --I wrote somewhat unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

I wrote somewhat unto the church ... Presumably, John had written to the church to which both Gaius and Diotrephes belonged; but as there were usually household churches in every city, they might have belonged to different groups with the church in the larger sense. The letter mentioned here has not come down to us, perhaps being destroyed by Diotrephes. At any rate, John wrote to Gaius, a person totally independent of the evil influence of Diotrephes, and also promised a visit with the evident purpose of counteracting the work of Diotrephes.

But Diotrephes ... Nothing is known of this character except what is stated in these two verses. "The name Diotrephes is very rare, meaning Zeus-reared nurseling of Zeus, and was only to be found in noble and ancient families."[24] This suggests that he might have been wealthy or of high social standing. With it, however, he was proud, arrogant and insensitive.

Receiveth not us ... Some have thought these words mean that he rejected both the missionaries and John who associated himself with the travelling preachers in these words; but it is more likely that John here used "us" in the sense of the apostles; for it was apostolic authority that Diotrephes rejected.

Who loveth to have the preeminence among them ... This prideful and arrogant attitude of Diotrephes was the sin which disturbed the church to which the apostle wrote; but commentators, in some instances, cannot allow that this was the trouble. No! They believe that, `Diotrephes’ radical intransigence was due ... to theological partisanship."[25] "Diotrephes could have been an elder who was determined to champion the autonomy of the local church."[26] All such evaluations of the root of the trouble are based upon blindness to the sin of Diotrephes (the true cause of the trouble) which John specifically mentioned. Could it be that "loving to have the preeminence" is not considered sinful in some circles? "Pride was his sin ... and a violent jealousy."[27] "One masterful, power-loving man in a church may work incalculable mischief and injury."[28] "He had slandered (one of the apostles) ... and broken the fellowship of the church."[29] May we take a closer look at:


It was through pride that Satan fell. It leads the procession of the things God hates (Proverbs 6:16 f). Fellowship within the sacred fold of the church itself cannot prevail where the poison ivy of pride is enthroned. The spirit of Diotrephes not only rejected the authority of an apostle, arrogantly turned away the Lord’s missionaries from his gates, and slandered the apostle who sat next to Jesus and leaned upon his breast; but it in time placed a Diotrephes in the saddle of authority in every urban community on earth (in the rise of metropolitan bishops), and at last repudiated the word of all the apostles, making a man to be the head on earth of the universal church! Yes indeed, as Paul put it, "the mystery of iniquity" was already at work; and this little gem of a letter gives a close-up of the very tap root of the spirit of Lucifer.

[24] John R. W. Stott, op. cit., p. 225.

[25] Amos N. Wilder, op. cit., p. 311.

[26] John R. W. Stott, op. cit., p. 227.

[27] Robert Law, International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Chicago: Howard-Severance Company, 1915), p. 1719.

[28] W. Jones, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22,3John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 11.

[29] Leon Morris, The New Bible Commentary, Revised (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 1273.

Verse 10

3Jn 1:10


(3 John 1:10)

10 Therefore, if I come, I will bring to remembrance his works which he doeth, prating against us with wicked words and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and them that would be forbiddeth and casteth them out of the church.--The apostle entertained the hope that he would soon be able to visit Gaius and the congregation where he worshipped, and where Diotrephes was exercising such domi-nence, and he assured the faithful Gaius that when he came he would not ignore what this church-troubler was doing. The great apostle was not intimidated by Diotrephes, and he promised that he would deal with him adequately when the opportunity presented itself. The verb "doeth," in the phrase, "works which he doeth," (poses), is present active indicative, "which he keeps on doing," thus revealing a persistent course on the part of Diotrephes.

The extent of Diotrephes’ lordship over the congregation is seen in the fact that (1) he prated (phluaron, to babble, to accuse idly and falsely) against John and his associates with wicked words, (not merely idle, but actually evil words); (2) he refused to re-ceive the brethren which came from John; (3) he forbade others in the congregation to do so; (4) those who refused to bow to his will he expelled from membership in the congregation. This does not mean that Diotrephes was able actually to sever faithful members from the body of Christ; the Lord added them to the church (Acts 2:47), and it was obviously beyond the power of this ungodly man to turn them out of the body of Christ; but, exer-cising domination over the congregation, and having imposed his will and way over the saints here, he could and did expel them from membership in it. He was an ambitious, unscrupulous, church boss, opposed alike to apostolic authority and missionary work, a servant of Satan and an agent of the devil. Diotrephes’ conduct was insobordination of the most advanced type and the apostle promised to deal in summary fashion with him when he arrived. Just what course John would follow, he does not indi-cate; we may be sure that he would expose the rebellious disposi-tion characteristic of the man, exhibit the ungodliness he was mani-festing, and warn the saints against him. He would, of course, be divested of any further authority in the congregation; and if he did not repent, would be speedily excluded from the fellowship of the church.

Commentary on 3 John 1:10 by E.M. Zerr

3 John 1:10. John expects to come and when he does he will consider the deeds of Diotrephes, namely, his opposition to the apostle. Prating means to use false accusations against John in an effort to defend himself. Malicious words are the kind uttered with the intent of doing harm. Not content therewith is said because he not only opposed John, but opposed the brethren whom he sent to the church as messengers. He also forbade others who would have accepted the messengers, and if they showed friendship for the apostolic messengers, they were excluded from the church.

Commentary on 3 John 1:10 by N.T. Caton

3 John 1:10Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds.

Here, in my judgment, the apostle asserts authority. The founder of the Christian faith had selected John as one upon whom authority was conferred to establish the king­dom and publish all the laws necessary for its government; and while he remained on earth he was the superior of Diotrephes, or of any other, as to the proclamation of ways to be pursued in Christian conduct.

3 John 1:10Remember his deeds.

I will arraign him, call him to an account; no sug­gestion of deposition or excommunication, but that of cor­rection.

3 John 1:10Prating against us with malicious words.

Diotrephes justified his course by uttering words against John, possibly denying that John was an apostle; possibly asserting that John assumed to be an apostle when he was not. He thus calumniated and maligned his character, and thus impeached his Christian integrity. While it was John’s duty to forgive, it was equally his duty to correct in love, and hence he said he would remember his deeds, if he came, herein intimating that it might not prove necessary for him to come.

3 John 1:10 --Not content therewith.

Diotrephes was not satisfied in disregarding the con­tents of John’s letter, and rebelling against his authority, and prating against him, but he went so far as to refuse to receive and extend hospitality to those engaged in the work of the church, and proceeded further, and did forbid other members of the church in receiving such into their homes. He even carried his foolish idea of control to such an extent, having for the time being official authority, as to cast out of the church such members as did extend hospitality to the traveling proclaimers of the word, after he had forbidden such to be done. That is to say, that he, to the extent of his ability, denied to some Christian fellowship on this account.

Commentary on 3 John 1:10 by Burton Coffman

3 John 1:10 --Therefore, if I come, I will bring to remembrance his works which he doeth, prating against us with wicked words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and them that would he forbiddeth and casteth them out of the church.

If I come ... In 3 John 1:13, the apostle made this much more definite: "I hope shortly to see thee, and we shall speak face to face."

I will bring to remembrance ... Wilder supposed that, "at the same time (John) will refute his empty charges";[30] but it is a mistake to understand it in this way. What John evidently intended to do was to bring the words and conduct of Diotrephes "to remembrance, not of himself, but of the whole church, exposing his wicked conduct that it might receive the censure to which it was entitled. Nothing that Diotrephes had said concerning the blessed apostle required any refutation.

His works which he doeth ... wicked words ... It is interesting that "words" here are equated with "works." Words are indeed works, wicked words being works of Satan, and righteous words being a "work of faith." Since it is supposed that Gaius was a member of the same church as Diotrephes, or at least a resident of the same area, some have wondered why it was necessary for John to elaborate the works of Diotrephes, thinking that perhaps Gaius would have known about them already. Orr explained as follows:

The objection would be valid only if this were purely a private letter; but there are no purely private letters in the New Testament. This letter is a formal indictment of Diotrephes, as well as a testimonial for Gaius and Demetrius.[31]

Them that would he forbiddeth and casteth out ... These words clearly indicate an action called in later times "excommunication"; but the manner of Diotrephes’ doing this is not suggested. It is not known if he was "an elder" who had induced the group to take such action, or if he here merely "arrogated to himself an authority which later became legal for local bishops."[32]

Roberts also noted in this context that:

The Greek makes it plain that it was the members of the church who wanted to practice this virtue (of receiving the missionaries into their homes and supporting them) who were put out of the church (by Diotrephes)[33]

This clearly indicates Diotrephes’ action as being a vicious secondary boycott of every Christian who would not receive and honor his dictum that the missionaries should be turned away. He not only disfellowshiped and rejected the missionaries, he went far beyond this and disfellowshiped (even to the extent of denying them membership in the body of Christ) everyone who would not follow his lead in this matter. As noted above, it is not clear just how Diotrephes was able to do this. Dummelow explained it thus:

He could have been "the head of the church" to which Gaius belonged; but it may be that he had sufficient social influence to exclude the brethren from the Christian society of the place.[34]

However, Diotrephes might have accomplished his evil design, he had utterly no right to any such authority; and the granting of it at a later period of church history to "bishops" was likewise sinful, anti-Christian, and diabolical. Not even an entire eldership could have been justified in the brutal enforcement of a secondary boycott of their fellow-Christians because their judgment had not been honored in such a case. It is a hopeless blindness indeed that fails to discern the heinous nature of the sin of Diotrephes.

[30] Amos N. Wilder, op. cit., p. 311.

[31] R. W. Orr, op. cit., p. 624.

[32] Amos N. Wilder, op. cit., p. 312.

[33] J. W. Roberts, op. cit., p. 178.

[34] J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 1263.

Verses 11-12

3Jn 1:11-12


(3 John 1:11-12)

11 Beloved, imitate not that which is evil, but that which is good.--Having shown the true nature of Diotrephes, and having warned Gaius of such conduct as he had seen in him, he then exhorted him to follow and to copy (mimou mimic) that which is good. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1.) The verb is a present active imperative, "keep on imitating that which is good." Diotrephes afforded an example of conduct not to be imitated; Demetrius, one which Gaius might safely follow.

He that doeth good is of God: he that doeth evil hath not seen God.--Inasmuch as God is the source of all good, he who does good is of God. This does not refer to isolated acts of good-ness which may appear in the lives of evil men, but to that of a life habitually good, good from proper motives, good because influenced from the proper source. Here, again, the verb "doeth" is a present participle, (poion), and thus denotes a settled mode of life. Con-versely, he who practices evil continually evidences that he has not seen God, i.e., has never become acquainted with him. See the comments on 1 John 3:6.

12 Demetrius hath the witness of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, we also bear witness; and thou knowest that our witness is true.--Demetrius (in contrast with Diotrephes), was universally regarded; those who knew him did not hesitate to ascribe to him the highest possible attainment in Christian liv-ing. Moreover, the apostle and those with him also bore witness to the faithfulness of this disciple, and Gaius knew that this testi-mony was true. The phrase, "and of the truth itself," an addi-tional testimony to Demetrius’ character is obscure, and its mean-ing not readily apparent. On the whole, the best explanation is that conformity to the truth, which was characteristic of Demetrius, was itself a public witness of the type of man he was, and thus the truth to which he adhered approved his course. As one who breaks the law is condemned by the law, so one who keeps it is approved by it. The truth itself thus becomes an independent witness to the faithfulness of those who walk in harmony with it.

Commentary on 3 John 1:11-12 by E.M. Zerr

3 John 1:11. This whole verse is a kindly exhortation for Gaius to continue in the good life that he is now following which will demonstrate that he is of God.

3 John 1:12. This Demetrius is not found in any other place that I have seen. He was a disciple well spoken of by all who knew him. Of all, and of the truth itself. A man could have a good name without deserving it, but the report for Demetrius was a truthful one. John adds his testimony for the good name of this brother by saying we also bear record. It is probable that he was to be the bearer of this epistle.

Commentary on 3 John 1:11-12 by N.T. Caton

3 John 1:11Beloved, follow not that which is evil.

The course pursued by Diotrephes he regarded as evil. His desire was that the saints should pursue an exactly opposite course—that which is good—and he proceeds to give the all-important reason.

3 John 1:11He that doeth good is of God.

He is begotten of God. God is good, and that which is begotten of him must necessarily be good.

3 John 1:11But he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

That is to say, possesses no right knowledge of God, for God is good, and one who knows God must of necessity do good if he seeks acceptance with God. Doing evil, the reverse of what God desires, shows a fearful lack of knowledge of God, of his character, and of his requirements.

3 John 1:12Demetrius hath good report.

Here the apostle brings into view a very different char­acter to Diotrephes. He calls him Demetrius. He says the testimony concerning him from all sources is good. His benevolence, his meekness, his humility, meet with univer­sal commendation. The gospel itself commends him, in that his acts are conformable to its precepts; and lastly, I praise him. My testimony to his perfect Christian character I freely give; and you, Gaius, to whom I write, and all others, know that my testimony is true. Have I not given instruc­tion how all the saints shall conduct themselves to meet with God’s approbation? Was not this a duty imposed upon me by the Master? Have I not told you that, in giving these instructions, I was guided, so I might not mistake, by the Spirit of the living God? Since, therefore, Demetrius has unerringly followed these commands, I praise him—praise that I withheld from that opposite character of Diotrephes.

Commentary on 3 John 1:11-12 by Burton Coffman

3 John 1:11 --Beloved, imitate not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

Sinclair observed in this connection that there might have been many human considerations which would have encouraged Gaius to follow the lead of Diotrephes. "Peace, good fellowship, popular example, the dislike of singularity, and the indolent indifference which ordinary men feel for truth and right"[35] - all such things would have entered into the minds of people as reasons why they should have followed Diotrephes. Besides that, any action, no matter how wrong, which could be made the excuse for shirking plain Christian duty, like that of helping the missionaries, would be bound to have its appeal. "But the difference between right and wrong is eternal and irreconcilable."[36] John here made the loving appeal to true Christians that they should imitate good conduct, not bad. He at once cited the example of Demetrius, who like Gaius, had placed his life squarely on the side of righteousness.

[35] W. M. Sinclair, Ellicott’s Bible Commentary, Vol. VIII (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), p. 501.

[36] Ibid.

3 John 1:12 --Demetrius hath the witness of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, we also bear witness; and thou knowest that our witness is true.

This verse must take its place as a "church letter" similar to the one Paul wrote for Phoebe (Romans 16:1), this being another proof that more is intended by this letter than a mere communication to Gaius. Paul Hoon called attention to the thorough nature of this recommendation:

Three forms of testimony of Demetrius’ character were cited. (1) "the witness of all men," that is, general consensus of opinion. This is good up to a point but can be wrong. (2) Testimony from a trusted friend is more reliable ("I testify ... too"); but (3) the integrity of Christian character in which "the gospel exhibits itself ... in life" crowns all else.[37]

Demetrius ... Nothing is certainly known of this man except what is written here. Another Demetrius is mentioned as the mob leader in Acts 19:24; but, as a rule, scholars do not identify the two as being the same man. Russell declared flatly, "He was not the Demetrius of Acts 19:24."[38] However, Dummelow viewed it as an intriguing possibility that perhaps he was.

Both he and the mob leader lived in or near Ephesus, and 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 letter.[39]

We may not leave this verse without observing the characteristic phraseology of the apostle John who often appealed to his own reliability as in John 21:24.

[37] Paul W. Hoon, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. XII (New York: Abingdon Press, 1956), p. 312.

[38] James William Russell, Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1964), p. 610.

[39] J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 1062.

Verses 13-14

3Jn 1:13-14


(3 John 1:13-14)

13 I had many things to write unto thee, but I am unwill-ing to write them to thee with ink and pen:--There were many matters which John desired to communicate to his beloved brother and friend Gaius, but he was not disposed to do so with ink and pen. (Cf. 2 John 1:12.) The "pen" (kalamos), was a reed used for the purpose of a stylus; the "ink" (maw), a black sub-stance prepared from soot and oil. Ink is mentioned three times in the New Testament; here, in 2 John 1:12 and 2 Corinthians 3:3.

14 But I hope shortly to see thee, and we shall speak face to face.--The reason why John did not desire to communicate the matters he had in mind. He hoped soon to see Gaius, and to be privileged to talk with him face to face, a much more effective and satisfactory method than that of the laborous and tedious medium of writing with pen and ink.

Peace be unto thee.--A usual greeting (eirene soi). Cf. the Lord’s greeting following the resurrection. (John 20:19; John 20:26.) This greeting was especially appropriate, because peace is the sum of the divine blessings through Christ. The salutation is one which all genuine disciples extend to others. Those who are good and happy wish joy and peace to be the portion of all those about them. Peace, genuine peace, lasting peace comes only through willing service and complete obedience to the will of Christ. In disobedience there is rebellion; and where rebellion obtains between God and man, the result is a state of war and not peace. (Cf. Romans 5:1.)

The friends salute thee.--The apostle is joined, in the salu-tation, by friends of Gaius who were associated with him, per-haps in the congregation and city of Ephesus. Who these friends were does not appear; we may, however, be certain that they were faithful members of the body of Christ themselves.

Salute the friends by name.--In saluting "by name" the name of each was to be specifically mentioned. It is indeed a heart-warming experience to have people remember us, and to call us by name. The statement is reminiscent of the only other in-stance where the phrase "by name" occurs in the New Testament "To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name." (John 10:3.) The apostle thus wanted to follow the example of his Master by his own recognition of each lamb of Christ by name! And so this brief and tender missive ends; an exceedingly short letter, compared with other New Testament Epistles, but one of great importance to us to day, in its revelation of the inner feelings of the beloved apostle, and the glimpse which it affords us of the personal life of John and those whom he knew and loved so well. From it we learn that the apostles were not always involved in written or oral discussions of profound theological themes; they did not spend all of their time in intricate and involved dissertations or subtile and learned essays such as Romans and Hebrews they had their tender and personal sides, and the world is greatly blessed by this short letter to Gaius by the apostle whom Jesus loved.

Commentary on 3 John 1:13-14 by E.M. Zerr

3 John 1:13. This has the same meaning as 2 John 1:12.

3 John 1:14. The usual friendly salutation from friends, just another affectionate title from the mind of the loving John. Greet the friends by name. This denotes a personal recognition of the faithful messengers who are coming to see the congregation.

Commentary on 3 John 1:13-14 by N.T. Caton

3 John 1:13I had many things to write.

John thought of other things concerning the church—its members, Diotrephes, Demetrius, and all—but forebore writing with pen and ink, lest it fall into improper hands.

3 John 1:14—But I trust I shall shortly see thee.

Here he expresses the hope that some time in the near future he can meet Gaius, when he can, face to face, talk over the things about which he forbears to write, and since having the hope of so meeting, it would be needless to write.

3 John 1:14—Peace be to thee.

John’s loving benediction.

3 John 1:14—Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.

The friends here salute thee. Everywhere else the New Testament writers use the words brethren or saints. A friend is close in intimacy, a brother is nearer, while the relationship indicated by the word "saint" carries with it a holy association. On this closing verse, Macknight says: "This appellation is singular, being nowhere else found in the Scripture, but it applieth excellently to the primitive Christians, as it denoteth in the strongest manner the love which in the first age subsisted among the true disciples of Christ. Let it not then be pretended that the gospel does not recommend private friendship." Here we part with the beloved John. We can only praise the Lord for the lessons of love he has left upon record, and so live here on earth that the study of the blessed theme of love may be resumed in company with the Master and the beloved disciple in heaven’s blest abode.

Commentary on 3 John 1:13-14 by Burton Coffman

3 John 1:13 --I had many things to write unto thee, but I am unwilling to write them to thee with ink and pen:

"The conclusion here is the same as that of the Second Epistle; and possibly the journey contemplated in both is the same."[40] The usually admitted opinion that all of these letters were written "in quick succession" would seem to bear this out.

Wilder also point out that, "Since this is a personal note, the greetings are more intimate than in 2 John 1:13."[41] See 3 John 1:14.

Unwilling to write with ink and pen ... This is a very curious deviation from John’s words in 2 John 1:12, "I would not write them with paper and ink." "Ink and pen ... paper and ink ..." It is impossible to believe that any forger, or pseudonymous writer, would have dared to make a change like this.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Amos N. Wilder, op. cit., p. 313.

3 John 1:14 --but I hope shortly to see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be unto thee. The friends salute thee. Salute the friends by name.

On the tenderness of the greetings here, see under 3 John 1:13, above.

I hope shortly to see thee ... It is usually supposed that the contemplated visit here is the same as that mentioned in 2John.

Peace be unto thee ...

This was the best wish which the apostle could form: it was our Lord’s resurrection greeting, the internal peace of a good conscience, the external peace of universal fellowship, the heavenly peace of future glory, begun even in this life.[42]

The friends salute thee ... salute the friends by name ... "By name" as used here is found nowhere else in the New Testament, except in John 10:5; and many have found in this "an echo of the Good Shepherd’s calling his own sheep by name, an example for under-shepherds,"[43] and a good closing note for this letter. It is the teaching of the text here that, "The salutation was to be given to each individual separately."[44]

The tremendous importance of this letter is seen in the fact that it deals with the prime sin of the ages, the seeking and the grasping on the part of evil men for the control levers of God’s church on earth. The spirit of Diotrephes still rides high and mighty in the ecclesiastical counsels of the earth, denying and contradicting the holy teachings of Christ and his apostles; but the loving apostle unmasked it for what it is in the glowing lines of this precious fragment of the word of the Lord.

[42] W. M. Sinclair, op. cit., p. 502.

[43] R. W. Orr, op. cit., p. 624.

[44] Charles C. Ryrie, Wycliffe Bible Commentary, New Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 1038.



Cecil B. Douthitt

1. To whom is John’s second letter addressed? Ans. 2 John 1:1.

2. How long will the truth of the gospel be with us? Ans. 2 John 1:2.

3. Who is the source of all grace, mercy and peace? Ans, 2 John 1:3.

4. What had John learned which caused him to rejoice? Ans. 2 John 1:4.

5. What commandment does he write? Ans. 2 John 1:5.

6. How is love demonstrated? Ans. 2 John 1:6.

7. Who is the "deceiver and antichrist"? Ans. 2 John 1:7.

8. Why should all guard against being led astray by these deceivers? Ans. 2 John 1:8.

9. What is said about those who do not abide in the teaching of Christ? Ans. 2 John 1:9.

10. How may one become a partaker of the evil works of false teachers? Ans. 2 John 1:10-11.

11. Why did John not write many things that were on his mind? Ans. 2 John 1:12-13.

12. John the elder addressed this third letter to whom? Ans. 3 John 1:1.

13. Tell what you know of Gaius. Ans. Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4; Romans 16:23; 1 Corinthians 1:14.

14. John prayed that Gaius may be blessed with what three things? Ans. 3 John 1:2.

15. From what did John derive the greatest joy? Ans. 3 John 1:3-4.

16. What faithful work had Gaius done? Ans. 3 John 1:5-6; Romans 16:23.

17. Why should saints on evangelistic missions be welcomed and assisted by all? Ans. 3 John 1:7-8.

18. Of what was Diotrephes guilty? Ans. 3 John 1:9.

19. Describe the wicked works of this ambitious and rebellious man. Ans. 3 John 1:10.

20. What should be imitated by the children of God? Ans. 3 John 1:11.

21. What is said of Demetrius? Ans. 3 John 1:12.

22. Why was John unwilling to write more at this time? Ans. 3 John 1:13-14.

23. By what unusual title does John call the brethren in the last lines of this letter? Ans. 3 John 1:14.

Questions on III John

by E.M. Zerr

1. To whom is this epistle addressed?

2. Is it the only individually addressed epistle?

3. What is stated with reference to Gaius?

4. State the good will he expresses for him.

5. What was already prospering?

6. On what material can the soul prosper?

7. For what did he rejoice greatly?

8. By what means did he learn this?

9. What gives John his greatest joy?

10. In what relation does he represent Gaius?

11. How could this relation exist?

12. Was Gaius selfish in his conduct?

13. Was he partial in his good deeds?

14. Who are meant by strangers?

15. What did Paul command on this subject?

16. Yet to whom is our first obligation?

17. What had the favored ones borne for Gaius?

18. Of what had they borne this?

19. Where had they done so?

20. State the antecedent of "whom" in 3 John 1:6.

21. Explain "after a godly sort" in this verse.

22. How could this conduct be toward God?

23. Who went forth in 3 John 1:7?

24. Taking nothing of what, from the Gentiles?

25. For whose sake did they do this?

26. What apostolic examples have we for this?

27. Is a preacher required to do this?

28. What may he require of the church?

29. In receiving such as above what do we become?

30. On what principle could this be?

31. To whom did John write?

32. Did he have special authority to write?

33. Why did Diotrephes receive him not?

34. How might his evil desire be hindered by John?

35. Explain hi. desire in light of 2 Thessalonians 2:7.

36. Did this decide John not to come ?

37. In what way did Diotrephes oppose John?

38. State further how he treated brethren.

39. To what extent did he work against them?

40. What would John have Gaius to follow?

41. By what facts does he identify each kind?

42. State the general reputation of Demetrius.

43. And tell the special report he had.

44. What personal testimony was added to this?

45. Instead of writing further what does he expect?

46. What were materials were uscd in this letter?

47. Did that make it a dead letter?

48. What does he wish to be with him?

49. Who joined John in greetings?

50. What personal greeting did he here direct?

Third John

Ralph Starling

Again in this letter LOVE is the key

That helped him with his every need.

Such as Gaius’ work in the church

Testified by all as to his worth.

Such an example we should all be

That for Christ’s sake others may be free.

Others, however, have not been so noble

There was Diotrephes noted for trouble.

For in all things he love the preeminence

So many of his deeds and words were without any sense.

True to John’s nature of love

He wishes for all that peace from above

And hopes that in due time,

“Face to fac with you, will be mine.”

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 3 John 1". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/3-john-1.html.
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