Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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3 JOHN - Chapter 1

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3 John

Supplemental Commentary:

THE THIRD EPISTLE OF ST. JOHN

1.  Gaius: this is a common Roman name, and is found often in the New Testament.  Cf. Introduction.  St. John is said to have appointed one of this name as bishop of Pergamon (Const. Apost. VII, 46).  We gather from the Epistle that he was a fervent Christian, but it does not seem that he enjoyed an ecclesiastical office.  He is known for his good deeds, and for his hospitality to the preachers of the gospel.  He enjoys the confidence of St. John, and probably for this reason is looked upon with suspicion by the Apostle's opponents.

2.  Even as thy soul prospers: subtle but very high praise.    3.  Walkest in the truth: by his faith and works of charity.    5 f.  Strangers: the traveling missionaries.  See them off, etc.: to provide them with means for their work, and see them along part of their journey.  Cf. Acts 15, 3; Rom. 15, 24; 1 Cor. 16, 6.11; Col. 4, 10.  Worthy of God: i.e., with generosity.

7.  Of the name: i.e., of Christ.  They have gone forth: from their own homes to preach the gospel.  Taking nothing: accepting no pay or material reward for their labors.  Hence their need of help from such as Gaius.

9.  Cf. note to text.  Nothing certain is known of this Diotrephes.  He may have been the bishop of the place, or a priest who, in the absence of the bishop, loved to have the first place among them.  Does not receive us: either by refusing to admit St. John's authority, or by rejecting a former letter which St. John had written this church.    10.  Does not receive the brethren: the missionaries sent out by St. John.  Casts them out of the church: this seems to imply that Diotrephes is bishop of the place, and the action is equivalent to excommunication.  However, it is possible to interpret the phrase as a simple exclusion from the meetings of the faithful, and in that case Diotrephes could have been a simple priest.    11.  To do good is a sign of communion with God, and to do evil is a sign that one has not seen God.  Cf. 1 John 2, 3; 3, 6.10; 5, 19.    12.  Demetrius: otherwise unknown.  He may have been one of the itinerant missionaries recommended by the Apostle.  By the truth itself: either by the very upright conduct of his life, or by the Holy Spirit speaking through inspired men, or through signs of the Holy Spirit working in and through Demetrius himself.

13.  Cf. 2 John 12 f.    15.  The Apostle closes with a familiar Jewish greeting, which  now has added Christian meaning.  Cf. John 14, 27; 20, 19.21.26; 1 Pet. 5, 14.  There is no greeting from church to church, since the letter is private.  Instead there is an exchange of greetings between their friends.

Albert G. Meyer


Confraternity Bible:

Salutation  1* The Presbyter to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.

2 Beloved, I pray that in all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers.  3 I rejoiced greatly when some brethren came and bore witness to thy truth, even as thou walkest in the truth.  4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.  5 Beloved, thou dost in accordance with faith whatever thou workest for the brethren, and that even when they are strangers.  6 They have borne witness to thy love before the church.  Thou wilt do well to see them off on their journey in a manner worthy of God.  7 For on behalf of the Name they have gone forth, taking nothing from the pagans.  8 We therefore ought to support such as these, that we may be fellow-workers for the truth.

9* I would have written perhaps to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to have the first place among them, does not receive us.  10 Therefore if I come, I will recall to mind his works, prating against us with evil words; and as if this were not enough for him, he himself does not receive the brethren, and those who do so he hinders, and casts them out of the church.

11 Beloved, do not imitate evil, but that which is good.  He who does what is good is of God; he who does what is evil has not seen God.  12 Witness is borne to Demetrius by all, and by the truth itself, yes, we also bear witness; and thou knowest that our witness is true.

13 I have much to write to thee; but I do not want to write to thee with pen and ink.  14 But I hope to see thee shortly, and we will speak face to face.

15 Peace be to thee.  The friends greet thee.  Greet the friends by name.
__________

*

1: While not the head of a church, Gaius seems to have been a man of great influence and to have been much loved by the Apostle.

9: Diotrephes: probably the bishop of one of the churches established by St. John.  He is censured here, not for usurping authority but rather for abusing it, especially by his opposition to St. John.