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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
3 John 1

 

 

Verse 1

3 John 1:1. The well-beloved Gaius, We read of one Gaius, of Corinth, Romans 16:23 who hospitably received St. Paul, when he went out to preach the gospel gratis; and if this were, as he seems to have been, the same, he was St. Paul's convert: nor is St. John's calling him his child, an argument to the contrary; since in the general he addresses all Christians in the same tender and affectionate style, agreeably to the sweetness of his temper, and suitably to his advanced years.


Verse 2

3 John 1:2. Above all things In every respect. Schmidius and Doddridge. The word ' Ευοδουσθαι signifies to walk in a right path, or to go prosperously on one's way; from whence it is applied to prosperity in general. See 1 Corinthians 16:2. Comp. Psalms 1:3.


Verse 3

3 John 1:3. Testified of the truth Testified concerning the truth ( σου τη αληθεια ), as thou walkest in the truth, and adornest the gospel by an exemplary behaviour.


Verse 4

3 John 1:4. To hear that my children There is no occasion to understand hereby that they were all St. John's own converts: (see 1 John 2:1) he had styled himself the elder; there was therefore a beauty in his calling all those his children, who were under his apostolic care, or paternal inspection; and he rejoiced like a tender father over a wise son. The apostle seems to have alluded to Proverbs 10:1 with which compare Proverbs 13:1; Proverbs 17:25; Proverbs 19:13. Baxter's note on this verse is, "True ministers rejoice more for the welfare of men's souls, than in preferments, wealth, or worldly honour."


Verse 5

3 John 1:5. Thou doest faithfully "As becomes a faithful Christian." The Papists have contrived, by various falsifications, to make the scriptures speak the language of their church. We have given a remarkable instance on James 5:11. Here we have another; for "St. John," say they, "praises Gaius, for having dealt faithfully with pilgrims." See "Popery an Enemy to Scripture," by Mr. Serces, and the Preface to Dr. Middleton's Letter from Rome, p. 66, &c.


Verse 6

3 John 1:6. If thou bring forward on their journey If, according to your wonted kindness, you will do what in you lies to give them all needful assistances for their journey, in a manner suitable to your own Christian temper, and to their relation to, and employment for God, you will act ( καλως ) a worthy part toward them in imitation of his goodness.


Verse 7

3 John 1:7. Because that for his name's sake "For the sake of spreading the name or religion of Jesus:" out of zeal for his honour and interest, they went out, abandoned their habitations, possessions, and callings, that they might spread his gospel; receiving nothing of the Gentiles among whom they laboured, that they might take off all suspicion of those mercenary views, above which divine grace had so far raised them.


Verse 8

3 John 1:8. We therefore ought to receive such, &c.— "It therefore certainly is our duty, who wish well to the cause of Christ and to immortal souls, to take such generous, and disinterested, and needy ministers into our affectionate care and kind regards; and to be helpful to them according to our ability, that we may have the pleasure and the honour of bearing a part with them in the success of their ministrations, by contributing to their maintenance; and so may work together with them in propagating the truth of the gospel among the Gentiles as well as the Jews.


Verse 9

3 John 1:9. But Diotrephes, Diotrephes has been taken for a Gentile Christian, who would not receive the Jewish Christians; and it must be acknowledged that it was a common name among the Gentiles: but it is also well known, that Alexander, Philip, Stephen, AEneas, and many other Gentile names, were common among the Jews, and therefore the name of Diotrephes will prove nothing. Besides, the Gentile Christians rarely or ever refused communion with the Jewish Christians; but the Judaizing Christians very frequently refused to join with the Gentile converts; and several of the Judaizers resisted men endued with apostolic authority. Diotrephes therefore seems to have been a zealous, bigoted, Judaizing Christian, the minister of some Christian church near Ephesus; who was out of all patience with such as preached the gospel to the Gentiles, and would neither use them kindly himself, when they passed that way, nor suffer any of his church, if he could help it, to treat them with kindness, and encourage them in that attempt.


Verse 10

3 John 1:10. If I come, When I come. See 1 John 3:2. 2 Corinthians 13:2. Diotrephes's turning out of the church such as displeased him, renders it highly probable that he was bishop or pastor of that church. See the former note.


Verse 11

3 John 1:11. Follow not that which is evil, Imitate not, &c. As Diotrephes seems to have been pastor of the church where Gaius lived, and a zealous, conceited, Judaizing Christian, it is not unlikely but he made boasting pretensions to greater knowledge of God and of the Gospel than St. John had; and lest such glorying should recommend his bad example, and make him pass for a person of high reputation, St. John cautions Gaius against following his example; and recommends to him rather the imitation of such plain honest Christians as kindly received those whotravelled about to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. It is very likely that they boasted not of their own knowledge, but behaved well; and that was a much better proof of their understanding the nature of God, and of the gospel of Christ, than any pretensions to uncommon knowledge, without a suitable temper and conduct.


Verse 12

3 John 1:12. Demetrius hath good report Good men are in scripture often and justly praised; and the giving of such characters did not proceed from selfishness, flattery, or respect of persons, but from the real truth of the case. When the scriptures condemn persons, it is not from malice or personal resentment, but because of their wickedness; and they applaud no man, but for his holiness, virtue, and piety. Demetrius has been taken for a member of that church to which Gaius belonged. Others, however, take Demetrius for the bearer of this letter, and one of the most eminent and zealous of the persons who had then got out into those parts, preaching the gospel gratis to the Gentiles. This would probably exasperate Diotrephes the more against him, and render it proper for the apostle to be more particular and earnest in recommending Demetrius to the peculiar protection and regard of G


Verse 14

3 John 1:14. Greet the friends by name. St. John's saluting the faithful Christians by name, shewed his paternal and affectionate regard for them, and tended, under the divine blessing, to keep them steadfast in the truth and purity of the gospel. Comp. 1 Corinthians 16:21; 1 Corinthians 16:24.

Inferences.—How desirable, but, alas! how few are the instances of such prosperity of soul and spiritual concerns, as one would wish to be the measure of a proportional state of bodily health and success in temporal affairs! Such Christians as abound in faith and charity towards their pious acquaintance and strangers, and give substantial proofs of it in their lives, are exceeding lovely and greatly beloved, rejoiced in, caressed, and honourably spoken of as worthy of imitation, by all true friends to the gospel of Christ, and especially by his ministering servants. But how should proud, insolent imposers upon churches, and malicious revilers of the uncorrupted gospel and its faithful preachers, be detested, exposed, and censured, as open enemies to it and them, and as injurious and domineering lords over God's heritage, who will neither do good themselves, nor suffer others to do it that would! They are strangers to the true knowledge of God: but all who, from principles of faith and love, seek and do the things that please him, are his children, and ought, for his sake, to assist ministering servants in their Lord's work, that they may bear a part with them in propagating evangelical truth and the good of precious souls. To write such things as these to Christian friends, as occasions offer, is very useful: but how much more delightful and advantageous is it to converse freely together about them! May all religious affection be ever preserved among true believers, and mutual sincere wishes of every kind of happiness, both temporal and spiritual, be cultivated between them, with cordial friendship one towards another! And especially may our love abound to those who have a desire to spread the gospel. And O, that it were more universal! O, that Divine grace would excite more to quit the indulgence of their homes, or their countries, if there be no bond of duty to detain them there, that they may go and preach to the Gentiles! And, though there be no prospect of any requital from them, God will open to them his celestial treasure, and they shall be recompensed in the resurrection of the just.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, We have,

1. The inscription and salutation. The elder, John, unto the well-beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth, as a faithful member of Jesus Christ. Beloved, I wish above all things, that thou mayest prosper, and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth; and may your success in all temporal things, and your bodily health, bear pace with your spiritual prosperity. Note; (1.) The true prosperity, and that which is most desirable, is the health of the soul. (2.) Bodily health is a singular mercy, especially as it enables us more eminently to improve our spiritual gifts and graces for the good of mankind.

2. He testifies the satisfaction that he felt in the report which he had heard. For I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came, and testified of the truth that is in thee, of thy faith and love unfeigned; even as thou walkest in the truth, adorning with all manner of holy conversation thy Christian profession. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Note; It is a sincere and heartfelt delight to the faithful ministers of Christ, to behold the children whom they have begotten in the gospel, walk worthy of their vocation.

3. He commends his kind and charitable conduct. Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; such hospitality and generosity are the general characteristics of thy faithful heart, and have been justly praised by those which have borne witness of thy charity before the church, and gratefully acknowledged the kindnesses which they received: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, and assist those itinerant preachers of the gospel who devote their time and labour to this blessed work of spreading the glad tidings through the earth, thou shalt do well, and act a noble part in thus advancing the blessed cause of our divine Redeemer; because that for his name's sake they went forth, giving up all the world, that they might devote themselves wholly to the ministry, and, with a spirit uninfluenced by any mercenary views, taking nothing of the Gentiles, but preaching the gospel of God freely. We therefore, who wish well to that service, and whom God hath blessed with ability, ought to receive such, and afford them a comfortable maintenance; that we might be fellow-helpers to the truth, and, though not ordained to be preachers, may hereby receive a preacher's reward. Note; They who devote themselves to the ministry, foregoing all worldly pursuits for the love of Christ and immortal souls, deserve every kindness at our hands that we can shew them.

2nd, The apostle,

1. Points out a man of a very different character. I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, and proudly to lord it over them, receiveth us not, pays no regard to our apostolic injunctions. Wherefore if, or when, I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, and severely animadvert upon his imperious and uncharitable conduct, prating against us with malicious words, assuming the most insolent airs, and daring even to cast reproach on the divinely-constituted apostles of the Son of God: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren to any hospitable entertainment in his house, and forbiddeth them that would; and, when any notwithstanding disobey his mandates, and receive, assist, and further in their way those faithful ministers of Christ, who travel preaching the gospel, he casteth them out of the church, merely for presuming to disobey his wicked commands and usurped authority. Note; (1.) Nothing is more contrary to the spirit of a Christian minister, than overbearing arrogance and pride. (2.) They are doubly wicked, who neither will do good themselves, nor suffer those to do it, who are willing.

2. He dissuades Gaius from copying so bad an example. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good; let no height of station or office lead you to copy a bad man, but ever imitate the excellent and the generous. He that doeth good, is of God, proves that he is born of him, and partakes of his Spirit: but he that doeth evil, hath not seen God; whatever pretensions of religion he may make, he is destitute of all experimental knowledge of divine things.

3. He mentions Demetrius as an excellent man, and worthy of imitation. Demetrius hath good report of all men; all who know him bear testimony of his amiable and pious conversation; and of the truth itself, every one who would speak the truth, must acknowledge his excellence; and we, who are ministers of truth, declare our full approbation of him: and ye know that our record is true, and may be assuredly depended upon. Note;

It is a noble character indeed, so to behave as to be entitled to universal applause, and to be approved of God, and of all men of truth and integrity.

4. He concludes his epistle with the hopes of a personal interview shortly. I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee; but I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face, when I can more fully communicate all my mind. Peace be to thee; prosperity of every kind attend thee in body and soul. Our friends salute thee, joining in all Christian wishes. Greet the friends with thee by name, presenting to each my most affectionate remembrances.

*.* The Reader is referred to the different Authors mentioned often already.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 3 John 1:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/3-john-1.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 8th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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