Christian Churches of God

No. F064




Commentary on 3John


(Edition 1.0 20200921-20200921)

This third epistle is directed at the division occurring in the church seemingly caused by a faction led by a Diotrephes.




Christian Churches of God

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(Copyright © 2020 Wade Cox)


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Commentary on 3John


This third epistle is directed at the division occurring in the church seemingly caused by a faction led by a Diotrephes who is not otherwise known except for this unfavourable mention in verse 9. 


The Gaius to whom the letter is addressed has been reported to John as being loyal and John is preparing to go to the church to address this division. John regards him as a loyal friend.  John as we know was also a Levite.


There are three mentions of Gaius in the church. He was baptised by Paul and mentioned in the letter to the Corinthians (1Cor. 1:14). He is almost certainly the Gaius of Romans 16:23 which letter was written at Corinth. He was host to Paul when the letter was written and indeed the church. He was identified with Titius Justus of Acts 18:7.


The Second was a Macedonian Christian travelling companion of Paul who was seized with him at Ephesus with the disturbance caused by Demetrius the silversmith (Acts 19:29).  The variant Doberios in MS D would make him a Macedonian of the town of Doberus (cf. F.W. Gingrich, Interpreters Dict. of the Bible, Vol. 2, p.336 art. Gaius).  He may be the same man as Gaius a Christian of Derbe who accompanied Paul on a journey from Ephesus to Macedonia (Acts 20:4). Both are closely mentioned in connection with Aristarchus and may be the same man (ibid).  He certainly knew the church at Ephesus.


He may well be the recipient of this letter. John declares them all as Friends in both churches.


Chapter 1

1The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.2Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in health; I know that it is well with your soul. 3For I greatly rejoiced when some of the brethren arrived and testified to the truth of your life, as indeed you do follow the truth. 4No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth. 5Beloved, it is a loyal thing you do when you render any service to the brethren, especially to strangers, 6who have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey as befits God's service. 7For they have set out for his sake and have accepted nothing from the heathen. 8So we ought to support such men, that we may be fellow workers in the truth. 9I have written something to the church; but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge my authority. 10So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, prating against me with evil words. And not content with that, he refuses himself to welcome the brethren, and also stops those who want to welcome them and puts them out of the church. 11Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. He who does good is of God; he who does evil has not seen God. 12Demetrius has testimony from every one, and from the truth itself; I testify to him too, and you know my testimony is true. 13I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink; 14I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face. (1:15) Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, every one of them. (RSV)


So John endorsed Demetrius (not the silversmith above) on his visit, no doubt with this epistle, and indicates his intention to visit soon and to deal with this division in the church in the area from one of the churches there in which he was working.


Bullinger’s notes on 3John (for KJV)


Verse 1

wellbeloved. App-135. Same as "beloved", 3 John 1:2, &c.

Gaius. It is impossible to say whether this was the same as any one of the others of the same name mentioned Acts 19:29Acts 20:4Romans 16:231 Corinthians 1:14.

the. Omit.

truth. See p. 1511.


Verse 2

wish = pray. App-134.

above = concerning. App-104.

prosper. Greek. euodoumai. See Romans 1:10.

be in health. Greek. hugiaino. See Luke 5:31.

soul. App-110. 3 John 1:1. As Gaius had a sound mind, John desires for him a sound body also.


Verse 3

rejoiced greatly. See 2 John 1:4.

the. Omit.

testified. Greek. martureo. See p. 1511.

the truth, &c. Literally thy truth.


Verse 4

no = not. App-105.

joy. See 1 John 1:4.

than, &c. Literally than these things, that (Greek. hina) I may hear of.


Verse 5

faithfully = as a faithful (deed). App-150.

doest = workest.

to. The texts read "that to". The brethren referred to were strangers. Compare Hebrews 13:2.


Verse 6

have borne witness = bare witness. Same as "testify", 3 John 1:3.

charity = love. App-135.

before = in the sight of.

if . . . journey. Literally having sent forward. Greek. propempo. See Acts 15:3. Compare App-174.

after a godly sort = worthily of God (App-98.)


Verse 7

Because that = For.

for, &c. = on behalf of (App-104.) His name.

His. The texts read "the".

nothing. Greek. medeis.

of. App-104.

Gentiles. Greek. ethnos.


Verse 8

that = in order that. Greek. hina.

fellowhelpers. Greek. sunergos. See 1 Corinthians 3:9.


Verse 9

wrote = wrote something, as the texts.

Diotrephes. Nothing is known of him.

who loveth, &c. Greek. philoproteuo, love to be first.

among = of.

receiveth. Greek. epidechomai. Only here and 3 John 1:10.


Verse 10

Wherefore = On account of (App-104. 3 John 1:2) this.

if. App-118.

remember. See John 14:26.

prating. Greek. phluareo. Only here. Compare 1 Timothy 5:13.

malicious. App-128.

therewith = upon (App-104.) these (things).

neither. Greek. oute.

forbiddeth = hindereth, as Luke 11:52.

them that would. Literally the willing (ones). App-102.

casteth. Greek. ekballo. Compare John 9:34.


Verse 11

follow. See 2 Thessalonians 3:7.

doeth good. Greek. agathopoieo. See Acts 14:17.

God. App-98.

doeth evil. Greek. kakopoieo. See Mark 3:4.


Verse 12

hath good report = is borne witness to. See 3 John 1:6.

bear record = testify, 3 John 1:3.

ye know. The texts read, "thou knowest". App-132.

record = testimony. See p. 1511.


Verse 13

will. App-102.

with = by means of. App-104. 3 John 1:1.

ink. See 2 Corinthians 3:3.

pen. Greek. kalamos. Elsewhere translated "reed".


Verse 14

trust = hope.

I shall, &c. = to see (App-133.) thee, &c.

shortly. Greek. eutheos. Generally translated "immediately", or "straightway".

speak. App-121.

face, &c. See 2 John 1:12.

salute. Greek. aspazomai. See Acts 18:22.

Greet = Salute. Here, as in the close of so many epistles, the word aspazomai is translated by two different English words in successive verses or even in the same verse. Compare Romans 16:3-231 Corinthians 16:191 Corinthians 16:202 Corinthians 13:122 Corinthians 13:13Philippians 1:4Philippians 1:21Colossians 4:10Colossians 4:12Colossians 4:142 Timothy 4:192 Timothy 4:21Titus 3:151 Peter 5:131 Peter 5:14.