BibliaTodo Commentaries


Benson Joseph

3 John 1

1. THE ELDER, To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:

2. Beloved, concerning all things I pray you to prosper and to be healthy, just as your soul prospers.

3. For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and witnessed to the truth which is in you, just as you walk in truth.

4. I have no greater joy than these things, that I hear that my children are walking in truth.

5. Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you work for the brothers and for the strangers,

6. who gave testimony concerning your love before the church, with reference to whom you will do well if you send them forth in a manner worthy of God,

7. for on behalf of the Name they went out, taking nothing from the pagans.

8. We therefore ought to receive such, in order that we may become fellow workers with the truth.

9. I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves the preeminence over them, does not receive us.

10. On account of this, if I come, I will call to mind his works which he does, slandering us with evil words. And not being content with that, he does not receive the brothers, and hinders those who desire to, casting them out of the church.

11. Beloved, do not imitate the evil, but the good. He who does good is of God; he who does evil has not seen God.

12. Demetrius has a good testimony with everyone, and of the truth itself. And we also testify, and you know that our testimony is true.

13. I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink.

14. But I wish to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.


3 John 1

3Jn 1:1. The elder unto the well-beloved Gaius — Gaius, or, according to the Latin orthography, Caius, was a common name among the Romans. In the history of the Acts and in the epistles we meet with five persons of this name. 1st, One mentioned Act 19:29, called a man of Macedonia, and Paul’s companion in travel. 2d, A Gaius of Derbe, a city of Lycaonia, mentioned Act 20:4. Gaius with whom St. Paul lodged at Corinth, and called his host, Act 16:23. ne of that name, whom the apostle had baptized at Corinth, mentioned 1Co 1:14, who probably was the same person with the Gaius last mentioned. 5th, A Gaius to whom John wrote this epistle, thought by Estius and Heuman to be a different person from all those above mentioned; because the apostle hath intimated, 3Jn 1:4, that he was his convert, which they suppose he could not say of any of the Gaiuses mentioned above. Lardner supposes he was an eminent Christian, who lived in some city of Asia, not far from Ephesus, where St. John chiefly resided after his leaving Judea. For, 3Jn 1:14, the apostle speaks of shortly coming to him, which he could not well have done if Gaius had lived at Corinth, or any other remote place. This Gaius being neither a bishop nor a deacon, but a private member of some church, (as appears by the contents of the epistle,) his hospitality to the brethren, who came to him, is a proof that he possessed some substance, and that he was of a very benevolent disposition. The design of St. John, in writing to him, was not to guard him against the attempts of the heretical teachers, who were gone abroad, or to condemn the errors which they were at great pains to propagate; but only, 1st, To praise Gaius for having showed kindness to some Christian strangers, who, in journeying among the Gentiles, had come to the place where Gaius resided; and to encourage him to show them the like kindness, when they should call upon him again, in the course of their second journey. 2d, For the purpose of rebuking and restraining one Diotrephes, who had arrogantly assumed to himself the chief direction of the affairs of the church, of which Gaius was a member, and who had both refused to assist the brethren above mentioned, and had even hindered those from receiving and entertaining them who were desirous to do it. 3d, The apostle wrote this letter to commend an excellent person named Demetrius, who, in disposition and behaviour, being the reverse of Diotrephes, the apostle proposed him as a pattern, whom Gaius and the rest were to imitate.

3Jn 1:2-4. Beloved, I wish — Or, I pray, as ευχομαι is translated by Beza, Estius, Erasmus, Schmidius, Doddridge, and others. Above all things — Or, with respect to all things, as περι παντων rather signifies; that thou mayest prosper and be in health — Namely, of body; even as, I doubt not, thy soul prospereth — In faith, love, and every virtue. For I rejoiced greatly when the brethren — Who went to the church, of which thou art a member; came back and testified of the truth that is in thee — Thy faith, love, and other Christian graces; even as thou walkest in the truth — Adornest the gospel by an exemplary conduct, and all good works. The apostle emphatically terms Gaius’s joining works of charity with faith in the doctrines of the gospel, the truth that was in him. For there is no true faith without good works: it always produces good works: neither are any works good but such as proceed from faith. These two joined constitute the truth of religion. For I have, &c. — That is, nothing gives me greater joy, than to hear that my children walk in the truth — Such is the spirit of every true Christian pastor. It seems probable by this, as has been intimated above, that Gaius was converted by St. John. Hence, in speaking to him, he uses the tender style of paternal love, and his calling him one of his children, when writing under the character of the elder, has peculiar beauty and propriety.

3Jn 1:5-8. Beloved, thou doest faithfully — Uprightly and sincerely; or, as πιστον ποιεις is more accurately rendered, thou dost a faithful thing; or a thing becoming a faithful person, or one who is a real believer; whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers — To thy fellow- Christians, known to thee, and to those with whom thou hast had no acquaintance. Who have born witness of thy charity before the church — The congregation with whom I now reside; whom — Which brethren or Christian strangers; if thou bring forward on their journey — Supplied with what is needful; after a godly sort — In a manner worthy of God, or from a principle of divine love, and correspondent to the relation in which you and they stand to him; thou shalt do well — How tenderly does the apostle enjoin this! Because that for his name’s sake — Out of zeal for his honour and interest; they went forth — To preach the gospel, abandoning their habitations, possessions, and callings; taking nothing of the Gentiles — Among whom they laboured, toward their support, that they might take off all suspicion of their being influenced by mercenary motives. We, therefore — Who do not undertake expensive journeys for the sake of preaching the gospel, and who have any habitation of our own; ought to receive such — Hospitably and respectfully; that — If Divine Providence do not give us opportunities of laying ourselves out, as they do, in the exercise of the ministerial office; we might — Though in a lower degree; be fellow-helpers to the truth — Which they preach, and may be entitled, through divine grace, to a share in their reward.

3Jn 1:9-11. I wrote — Or have written; to the church — Probably that to which they came; but Diotrephes &c. — As if he had said, But I fear lest my letter should not produce the desired effect; for Diotrephes, perhaps the pastor of it, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them — To govern all things according to his own will; receiveth us not — Neither them nor me; or, does not acknowledge my authority as an apostle of Christ. So did the mystery of iniquity already begin to work! As six or seven MSS. read here, εγραψα αν, a reading which is followed by the Vulgate, the Syriac, and the Coptic versions, Macknight, supposing it to be the genuine reading, renders the clause, I would have written; remarking, that the letters which the apostles wrote to the churches, were all sent to the bishops and elders in those churches, to be by them read to the people in their public assemblies. So that “if Diotrephes was a bishop or elder of the church to which St. John would have written, the apostle might suspect that that imperious, arrogant man, would have suppressed his letter; consequently, to have written to a church of which he had usurped the sole government, would have answered no good purpose.” Wherefore, if I come — As I hope I quickly shall; I will remember — Or, as υπομνησω more properly signifies, I will bring to remembrance; his deeds which he practiseth, prating against us — Both them and me; with malicious words — As if I were not an apostle, but had assumed that office. “In thus speaking, the writer of this epistle showed himself to be Diotrephes’s superior. It is therefore highly probable that the writer of it was not the person called by the ancients John the presbyter, but John the apostle. Heuman and Lardner are of opinion the apostle only meant that he would put Diotrephes in mind of his evil deeds, and endeavour to persuade him to repent of them by mild admonitions. But there is no occasion to give a mild sense to the apostle’s words: for, allowing that John threatened to punish Diotrephes for his insolence, in prating against him with malicious words, and for his uncharitableness in refusing to entertain and assist the brethren and the strangers, his threatenings did not proceed from resentment, but from zeal for the interests of religion, in which he is to be commended; because, as Whitby remarks on this verse, ‘private offences against ourselves must be forgiven and forgotten; but when the offence is an impediment to the faith, and very prejudicial to the church, it is to be opposed and publicly reproved.’” — Macknight. Neither doth he himself receive the brethren — Though he knows they come from us; and forbiddeth them that would — Receive them, to do it; and casteth them — Who entertain them contrary to his orders; out of the church. But as for thee, beloved, follow — Or imitate; not that which is evil — In Diotrephes, or any one; but that which thou seest to be good in those with whom thou art acquainted; that is, behold such a conduct as that of Diotrephes with a just abhorrence, and act according to that model of humility and condescension which you have seen in others. He that doeth good — From a proper principle, namely, from love to God, in obedience to his will, and with a view to his glory; is of God — He knows God, and, as one of his people, imitates him; but he that doeth evil — That harbours unkind tempers in his heart, and acts in an unfriendly manner toward the servants of Christ, in their wants and necessities, whatever high notions he may entertain of himself, hath not seen or known God — But is evidently ignorant of his perfections and of his will, and even an enemy to him.

3Jn 1:12. Demetrius, on the contrary, hath good report — Hath a good testimony from all that know him; and of the truth — The gospel; itself — His temper and conduct being conformable to its precepts, and he having exerted himself greatly to propagate it. Yea, and we also bear record — I, and they that are with me; and ye know that our record is true — That every commendation I give is well founded.

3Jn 1:13-14. I had many other things to write — To communicate to thee concerning the affairs of your church, and concerning Diotrephes; but I will not — I am not minded; to write unto thee with ink and pen — Meaning, probably, lest this letter should fall into hands who might make an improper use of it. But I trust I shall shortly see thee — Lardner conjectures that John did actually visit Gaius; and adds, I please myself with the supposition that his journey was not in vain, but that Diotrephes submitted and acquiesced in the advices and admonitions of the apostle. Peace be to thee — And every desirable blessing, from God our Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord. Our friends salute thee — Our translators have inserted the word our in this clause without any authority. The apostle’s words are οι φιλοι, the friends, an expression nowhere else found in Scripture; but it applies excellently to the primitive Christians, as it denotes, in the strongest manner, the love which, in the first ages, subsisted among the true disciples of Christ. Greet the friends by name — That is, in the same manner as if I had named them one by one. The apostle, by sending a salutation to the faithful disciples of Christ, who were in the church of which Gaius was a member, and who were living together in great love, showed his paternal and affectionate regard for them, and encouraged them to be steadfast in their adherence to the truth and grace of the gospel, and to walk worthy of it.