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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

3 John 1

Verse 1

Notes on Third Epistle of John.

1. The elder Note on 2 John 1:1.

Well beloved An epithet thrice used in the epistle, as elect is twice in the Second Epistle. This epithet in the Greek comes after the name, and strikingly reads, Gaius the well beloved, as if the epithet were a regular title.

Gaius Or Caius, a very common name among the Romans. There was among the followers of St. Paul a Caius of Macedonia, (Acts 19:29;) a Caius of Derbe, (Acts 20:4;) and a Caius of Corinth, at whose house St. Paul probably wrote his epistle to the Romans. This Gaius is some thirty-five or forty years later, and in Asia Minor, being in visiting distance from John, 3 John 1:14. He cannot, therefore, be probably identified with either of the other three. Wordsworth reminds us that “a Gaius was appointed by St. John to be bishop of Pergamos.” Constitut. Apost. 7:46.

In the truth As the article is wanting in the Greek, some interpreters understand the phrase, whom I truly love. This makes good correspondence with beloved. Thou art the well beloved, and I love thee in truth. But John often omits the article where the real meaning is the gospel truth, as in 3 John 1:3.

Verse 2

2. Beloved Commencing the real matter of the epistle with a direct address.

Above all things Rather, in all respects.

Prosper Literal Greek, be in a good way.

Health So that estate, body, and soul, should all prosper alike. It is a happy fact when the soul is the standard of the prosperity, and the other prosperities are measured up to it.

Verse 3

3. For Giving reason for assuming that his soul was all right; namely, his accepting and aiding John’s missionaries of truth, instead of the errorists.

The brethren came The missionaries sent by John, who returned from their first mission into Asia Minor, back to Ephesus, and made report. Their report in regard to their entertainment by Gaius was such that our apostle rejoiced greatly. And he was induced thereby, on their starting for their second journey, to send by them this letter to Gaius.

Verse 4

4. My children This would seem to imply that John numbered Gaius among his own converts, and was rejoiced unspeakably at his constancy and zeal.

Verse 5

5. Faithfully A faithful thing; a thing inspired by a true faith.

Brethren… strangers In apposition, as both meaning the same persons. The brethren were evangelists of John, but strangers to Gaius. He entertained them, not as old acquaintances, nor from pure hospitality in general; but because they were Christian itinerants authenticated by the apostle.

Verse 6

6. Before the church Their report from their first mission was not to John alone, but before the metropolitan church of Ephesus. So that Gaius’s benefaction had gained for him an illustrious recognition.

If thou bring forward If on their second mission, to which I commend them in this letter.

Bring forward Forward them from thy home on their farther way, furnishing them counsel, guidance, and material aid.

After a godly sort Literally, worthily of God, whose ministers and revealers they are to the Gentiles.

Verse 7

7. His name’s sake Literally, for the name, they went forth; that is the name above every name, of Jesus.

Went forth As holy itinerants, commissioned by the apostle, and preaching Jesus.

Taking nothing Receiving no compensation, and no payment of expenses.

Gentiles Among whom, rather than among Jews, their course of journey lay.

Verse 8

8. Therefore In view of their unpaid labours and need of supplies, Christians should support the missionaries if Gentiles or pagans do not.

Fellow-helpers Of the missionaries. Ordinary Christians cannot go on missions in their own persons; but they can become fellow-helpers by paying missionary expenses.

Verse 9

9. I wrote Perhaps in a letter sent by these missionaries on their first tour.

The church Of the city where Gaius resided. The letter doubtless commended the missionaries to the entire Church, but met with rejection from Diotrephes. We suppose that in a full sense the word church included the entire body of Christians in the city. Yet it consisted of separate congregations, each perhaps under its own elder or pastor, and each would be called a church. The period of great church buildings had not commenced. One congregation would worship in a private house, (Romans 16:5,) another in a hired hall, (Acts 19:9,) a third in a synagogue, (James 2:2.) But Diotrephes, an elder over one of these congregations, rejected the apostle’s letter and authority.

Loveth to have the pre-eminence Literally, making himself first. He would be master and supreme in his own congregation. He would obey none of these mandates from Ephesus, even though from an apostle. He was an independent, a high congregationalist. Bede says, that he was “a heresiarch of that time, proud and insolent, preferring, by maintaining novelties, to usurp the primacy of knowledge to himself than to listen humbly to the ancient doctrines of John.” Alford denies the possibility of his heresy, and maintains that he was simply “an ambitious man, who wished that not the apostle, but himself, should rule the Church.” But certainly he would not reject the apostle but upon some doctrinal ground. And that he was tinctured with the antinomianism arising from finding all sin in matter, will appear from 3 John 1:11.

Receiveth us not By us is meant primarily the apostle himself, through his letters and messengers; yet inclusively, the whole party of apostolic Christians and Christianity.

Verse 10

10. Remember his deeds Compare the terrible apostolic threats of St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 4:19-21.

Prating The Greek word implies a certain full flow, or fluency, of contemptuous languages.

Malicious Not only hostile, but intrinsically evil words.

Casteth… out of the church He had such a mastery over his own congregation that he was able to excommunicate the apostolic believers, in spite of such men as Demetrius and Gaius in the same or other congregations of the church.

Verse 11

11. Beloved Repeated from 3 John 1:2; 3 John 1:5, as now furnishing a monitory lesson from the narrative of Diotrephes’s conduct.

Evil… good The difference between Diotrephes and the apostle was not a mere question of party, or even of non-essential doctrine, but of intrinsic goodness and badness, of holiness and wickedness.

Doeth good Not the falsely regenerate in evil-doing, but he that doeth good is of God. This clearly implies that Diotrephes held to a Nicolaitan regeneration, allowing of a doing evil and yet being of God. This was a total depravation and falsification of Christianity.

Seen God As he is, the truly pure God, seen by the spiritual eye of true faith. The holiness of the Christian is at one with the holiness of the truly holy God.

Verse 12

12. Demetrius Elder or pastor, as we suppose, of another congregation of the Pergamos Church.

Of the truth itself He was certified by men as adhering to the truth; and the truth itself, by agreeing with his faith and doctrine, attested and bore record of his genuineness.

Our record is true Being that of an original witness of Christ. See our notes on 1 John 1:1.

Verse 13

13. Many things to write Compare note on 2 John 1:12.

Pen The calamus or reed.

Verse 14

14. By name Says Bengel, “just as if their names were written.” But as John knew the Church only by occasional visitations, and is writing only a private letter, he sends greeting not to the Church generally, but only to the special friends whom Gaius well knew, and to whom he would show this epistle.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 3 John 1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/3-john-1.html. 1874-1909.