From:  Over 50 Interpreters Explain 1 to 3 John                           Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2018

 

 

List of All Sources Quoted At End of File

 

 

 

 

 

Entire Third John

(Verses 1-14)

 

 

 

Verse 1                                               Translations

Weymouth:     The Elder to his dear friend Gaius. Truly I love you.

WEB:              The elder to Gaius the beloved, whom I love in truth.    

Young’s:         The Elder to Gaius the beloved, whom I love in truth!

Conte (RC):    The Elder, to Gaius, most beloved, whom I love in the truth.

 

Verse 1           The elder.  One possibility for the language used to describe the author:  In this letter, too, John does not mention his name, but only describes himself as the last representative of an older generation, around whom an entirely new generation had already grown up.  [41]  

                        The author of this letter is the elder, the aged Apostle John.  He modestly and invariably describes himself under some general or distinguishing description (see John l:35; 21:20.)  In striking contrast to the claims made and the terms used by the modern popes and the bishops of Rome in the early centuries is the modest demeanor of Peter and John.  [51]

unto the wellbeloved.  In the Greek order the name comes first.  Gaius the beloved.  [1]  

An epithet thrice used in the epistle, as “elect” is twice in the Second Epistle.  [33]

Gaius.  The name was not an uncommon one, and it cannot be determined now who he was, or where he lived. Whether he had any office in the church is unknown, but he seems to have been a man of wealth and influence.  [18]

The name occurs several times in the New Testament, at Acts 19:29; 20:4; Romans 16:23; 1 Corinthians 1:14.  The person addressed here cannot be identified.  [1]  

If he is one of these:  The Gaius of Acts 19:29, was a man of Macedonia.  The Gaius of Acts 20:4, was “of Derbe,” a city in Asia Minor.  The Gaius of 1 Corinthians 1:14 was a Corinthian, and he was almost certainly the Gaius of Romans 16:23, who was host to the Apostle Paul.  This Gaius may very well have lived on to old age, and still exercised his hospitality when John wrote.  If so, he presents us with a very delightful picture of one who did not grow weary in well-doing.  [8]    

whom I love in the truth [omitting “the:” ESV, NASB].  Either as fellow followers of the Truth (retaining “the”) or “in reality, genuinely, sincerely” (omitting “the”).  [rw]

Arguments both ways:  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 verse 3.  [33]

 

 

Verse 2                                               Translations

Weymouth:     My dear friend, I pray that you may in all respects prosper and enjoy good health, just as your soul already prospers.

WEB:              Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be healthy, even as your soul prospers.

Young’s:         beloved, concerning all things I desire thee to prosper, and to be in health, even as thy soul doth prosper,

Conte (RC):    Most beloved, concerning everything, I make it my prayer that you may benefit by advancing and succeeding in whatever may be to the benefit of your soul.                            

 

Verse 2           Beloved.  Indicating the intensity of feeling and good will.  [rw]

I wish above all things.  Since his soul's prosperity is presupposed, “above all things” does not imply that John wishes Gaius' bodily prosperity above that of his soul, but as the first object to be desired next after spiritual health.  I know you are prospering in your soul.  I wish you similar prosperity in your body.  Perhaps John had heard from the brethren (verse 3) that Gaius was in bad health, and was tried in other ways (verse 10), to which the wish refers.  [4]

The sense is, “In every respect, I wish that it may go as well with you as it does with your soul; that in your worldly prosperity, your comfort, and your bodily health, you may be as prosperous as you are in your religion.”  [18]  

The order of the Greek is striking, “all things” at the beginning being placed in contrast to “soul” at the end of the sentence:  in all things I pray that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as prospereth thy soul.  The verse is a model for all friendly wishes of good fortune to others.  [23]

that thou mayest prosper.  Literally, have a prosperous journey.  [1]

Implies John’s belief that the soul of Gaius did prosper.  [47]

and be in health.  Prosper” -- in general.  “Be in health” -- in particular.  [4]

Possibly implying that he had had serious health problems that might reoccur.  [rw]

An ascetic would be surprised that one of the greatest of the Apostles should be so earnest on such a point.  But the better a man’s health, the more thoroughly he can do the work of God.  A Christian whose faith is firm and character established, can ill afford to despise the inestimable blessing of a sound body.  Functional and organic disorder proportionately lessen the capacity for thought, resolution, and activity.  [32]

Or:  We cannot conclude from these good wishes that Gaius had been ailing in health and fortune:  but it is quite clear from what follows that “prosper and be in health” do not refer to his spiritual condition, and this verse is, therefore, good authority for praying for temporal blessings for our friends.  In the Pastoral Epistles “to be in health” (ὑγιαίνειν) is always used figuratively of faith and doctrine.  [23]

even as thy soul prospereth.  It appears from the last clause that the soul of Gaius was in a very prosperous state.  [17]

The word “prospereth” is literally makes good way, and so links on to the idea of walking, in verses 3-4.  The health of the soul came first in the Apostle’s mind: when there is that, he can wish for bodily health to support it.  [32]

                        A man’s spiritual prosperity is known by his works.  [49] 

 

 

Verse 3                                               Translations

Weymouth:     For it is an intense joy to me when brethren come and bear witness to your fidelity to the truth--that you live in obedience to the truth.

WEB:              For I rejoiced greatly, when brothers came and testified about your truth, even as you walk in truth.

Young’s:         for I rejoiced exceedingly, brethren coming and testifying of the truth in thee, even as thou in truth dost walk;

Conte (RC):    I was very glad when the brothers arrived, and when they offered testimony to the truth in you, that you are walking in the truth.

 

Verse 3           For I rejoiced greatly.  Giving reason “for” assuming that his soul was all right; namely, his accepting and aiding John’s missionaries of “truth,” instead of the errorists.  [33]

when the brethren came.  Possibly the visitors who reported to “the elder” the facts named in verse 4.  [10]

Who these were is not certainly known.  They may have been members of the same church with Gaius, who, for some reason, had visited the writer of this Epistle; or they may have been the “brethren” who had gone from him with a letter of commendation to the church (verse 9), and had been rejected by the church through the influence of Diotrephes, and who, after having been hospitably entertained by Gaius, had again returned to the writer of this Epistle.  In that case, they would of course bear honorable testimony to the kindness which they had received from Gaius, and to his Christian character.  [18]

and testified of the truth that is in thee.  Thy faith, love, and other Christian graces.  [35]  

Some brethren had brought a report of the conduct of Gaius which was favorable.  That is the basis of his remark about his soul prospering.  [9] 

even as thou walkest in the truth.  Walkest” shows the constantly maintained Christian life.  A man is responsible for his beliefs; they are his own.  They both make him and he makes them.  The two thoughts that control this letter are truth and love.  John joins them indissolubly together.  [52]



Verse 4                                               Translations

Weymouth:     I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are living in obedience to the truth.

WEB:              I have no greater joy than this, to hear about my children walking in truth.

Young’s:         greater than these things I have no joy, that I may hear of my children in truth walking.

Conte (RC):    I have no greater grace than this, when I hear that my sons are walking in the truth.      

 

Verse 4           I have no greater joy.  In the Greek “greater” is put first for emphasis, and this is worth preserving:  Greater joy have I none than this.  [23]

than to hear.  By word or correspondence.  [rw]

that my children.  Gaius appears to come under the term, “my children.”  If this means that he was a convert of John, it would mean that he was not one of the others named Gaius, who are mentioned in Scripture.  However John probably uses the term in a pastoral way here, as he evidently does in his first Epistle.  He had a fatherly interest in all the saints who came within the sphere of his ministry.  Peter warns the elders not to act as “lords over God’s heritage.”  By his example John shows us that the true attitude for an elder is that of a father filled with love and solicitude for his children.  It would have been well if all who have exercised rule amongst the saints had followed his steps.  [8]

walk in truth.  That they adhere steadfastly to the truth, and that they live in accordance with it.  [18]   

 

 

Verse 5                                               Translations

Weymouth:     My dear friend, you are acting faithfully in all your behaviour towards the brethren, even when they are strangers to you.

WEB:              Beloved, you do a faithful work in whatever you accomplish for those who are brothers and strangers.

Young’s:         Beloved, faithfully dost thou do whatever thou mayest work to the brethren and to the strangers,

Conte (RC):    Most beloved, you should act faithfully in whatever you do for the brothers, and those who are sojourners;

 

Verse 5           Beloved.  Beloved marks the introduction of a new thought.  Four times in this short letter John uses the term (verses 1, 2, 8, 11).  [51]

thou doest faithfully.  Uprightly and sincerely.  [2] [35]

It is noticeable that his “faithfulness’’ in this regard is mentioned.  It was not a spasmodic thing on his part, but a steady flow of grace through him.  His breadth of disposition is also mentioned since his giving was not limited to those he knew but extended to those he did not know.  [6]    

whatsoever thou doest to the brethren.  In all your contact with them, and in all your conduct toward them.  The particular thing which led to this remark was his hospitality; but the testimony respecting his general conduct had been such as to justify this commendation.  [18]

“Whatsoever” marks the entire range of the treatment of the Christian brother.  A cup of cold water will not be forgotten (Matthew 10:42).  Jesus makes use of the same expression in Matthew 26:10, rendered, “wrought a good work upon me.”  [51]

and to strangers.  The duty of entertaining Christians on their travels was of peculiar importance in early times, (1) from the length of time which traveling required, (2) from the poverty of the Christians, (3) from the kind of society they would meet at public inns” (Sinclair).  [7] 

The brethren and the strangers are not two classes, but one and the same.  It enhanced the hospitality of Gaius that the Christians whom he entertained were personally unknown to him.  Compare Matthew 25:35 [“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat:  I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink:  I was a stranger, and ye took me in”].  [23]

 

 

Verse 6                                               Translations

Weymouth:     They have testified, in the presence of the Church, to your love; and you will do well to help them on their journey in a manner worthy of your fellowship with God.

WEB:              They have testified about your love before the assembly. You will do well to send them forward on their journey in a way worthy of God,

Young’s:         who did testify of thy love before an assembly, whom thou wilt do well, having sent forward worthily of God,

Conte (RC):    they have given testimony to your charity in the sight of the Church. You would do well to lead these ones worthily to God.             

 

Verse 6           Which have borne witness of thy charity [love, NKJV].  These traveling brethren reported to the Church how Gaius had aided them.  [3]   

Reconstruction of why Gaius is complimented and not the congregation he was presumably part of:  He doubtless refers to the first visit of the missionaries.  Diotrephes had not only on his part failed to receive the brethren, but had also prevented the congregation from doing so.  The congregation was ready to do so, but by threatening to excommunicate from the congregation everybody who was willing to do this, he defeated their wishes.  This had probably been the fate of Gaius, of whom we have heard that he had received these men kindly; and for this reason he recommends the missionaries now not to the congregation, but only to this private man.  [41]  

before the church.  The congregation with whom I now reside.   [2] [35]  

Probably at Ephesus; but wherever John was when he wrote the letter.  Only in this Third Epistle does he use the word “church.”  [23]

In like manner Paul and Barnabas gave an account of their missionary journey before the church at Antioch (Acts 14:27).  [51]

whom if thou bring forward on their journey.  Supplied with what is needful.  [2] [35]

Furnishing them counsel, guidance, and material aid.  [33]

after a godly sort.  Margin, as in Greek, “worthy of God.”  The meaning is, As becomes those who serve God; or as becomes those who are professors of His religion.  [18]

No higher standard could well be set.  It reminds us of “perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” Gaius is to treat them as remembering the Divine declaration, “He that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me” (John 13:20).  This coincidence, consciously or unconsciously made, between the Gospel and Third Epistle, is lost in the rather colorless rendering in the Authorized Version, “after a godly sort.”  [24]

thou shalt do well.  You will do what religion requires in these circumstances.  [18]

There would be abundant opportunity in the early Church for such friendly acts; and in telling Gaius that he will do a good deed in helping Christians on their way the Apostle gently urges him to continue such work.  Compare Philippians 4:14; Acts 10:33.  [23]  

                        To help them was, in reality, to help God in His work upon the earth.  In like manner Jesus speaks of the reception that ought to be accorded to His messengers (Matthew 10:40).  Jesus regards kindness shown toward His disciples as displayed toward Himself (Acts 9:4; Matthew 25:40).  Hospitality when exercised with the right motive becomes a godlike act.  [51]

 

 

Verse 7                                               Translations

Weymouth:     For it is for Christ that they have gone forth, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.

WEB:              because for the sake of the Name they went out, taking nothing from the Gentiles.

Young’s:         because for His name they went forth, nothing receiving from the nations;

Conte (RC):    For they set out, on behalf of his name, accepting nothing from the unbelievers.

 

Verse 7           Because that for his name's sake.  Out of zeal for his honor and interest.  [35]

“For the sake of the Name:  Such is the exact rendering of the true text; the insertion of “his” before “Name” weakens the effect.  There was no need to say more.  Just as to a Jew “the Name” must mean “Jehovah,” so to a Christian “the Name” must mean “Jesus Christ” (compare Acts 5:41; James 2:7).  St. Ignatius writes to the Ephesians, “I am in bonds for the Name's sake” (3); and “Some are wont of malicious guile to hawk about the Name” (7); and again to the Philadelphians, “It is becoming for you, as a Church of God, to appoint a deacon to go thither as God's ambassador, that he may congratulate them when they are assembled together, and may glorify the Name” (10).  [24] 

This use of “the Name” is common in the Apostolic Fathers; Ignatius, Eph. iii., vii.; Philad. x.; Clem. Rom. ii., xiii.; Hermas, Sim. viii. 10, ix. 13, 28.  [23]

they went forth.  To preach the gospel.  [2]

taking nothing of the Gentiles.  The words in the Greek imply that this was their deliberate purpose.  [51]

Interpreted as Gentile Christians:   Refusing to receive anything as pay, or maintenance, though justly entitled to it:  as Paul at Corinth and at Thessalonica (1 Corinthians 9:12, 15; 1 Thessalonians 2:6, 9).  [4]

Objection:  There was reason in not accepting money or hospitality at all, but working for their own living, as Paul loved to do.  And there was reason in not accepting help from heathen.  But there would be no reason in accepting from Jewish converts, but not from Gentile ones.  [23]

Interpreted as Gentile non-Christians:  We are not to understand that the Gentiles offered help which these brethren refused, but that the brethren never asked them for help.  [23]

Interpreted as they being victims of Gentile unbelievers:  Some expositors render this very differently. “For the Name’s sake they went forth from the Gentiles, taking nothing;” i.e. they were driven out by the heathen, penniless.  But “went forth” is too gentle a word to mean this; and the negative (μηδέν not οὐδέν) seems to imply that it was their determination not to accept anything, not merely that as a matter of fact they received nothing.  For “receive from” in a similar sense compare Matthew 17:25.  [23]

The reason for the principle:  Lest the heathen should suspect their motives, and think, “Like all the quack priests and philosophers, you make a mere trade of your doctrine, and preach to fill your bellies.”  Nothing wins men over so much as clear proofs of disinterestedness.  The missionary who is suspected of self-seeking will preach in vain.  [24]  

Paul preached in a like manner, refusing to take pay from the newly formed churches (1 Corinthians 9:18; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:9).  Jesus commanded a like course in Matt. 10:8.  On the other hand, Paul insists on his right and the right of the ministry to a maintenance from the churches when established (1 Corinthians 9:14; Hebrews 13:16).  A first duty among the missionaries today is the work of bringing the native churches to a self-support.  [51]

 

 

Verse 8                                               Translations

Weymouth:     It is therefore our duty to show hospitality to such men, so that we may be fellow workers in promoting the truth.

WEB:              We therefore ought to receive such, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

Young’s:         we, then, ought to receive such, that fellow-workers we may become to the truth.

Conte (RC):    Therefore, we must accept such as these, in order that we may cooperate with the truth.          

 

Verse 8           We therefore ought to receive such.  The pronoun is very emphatic.  If no help comes from the heathen, we must give it; that we may become their fellow-workers for the truth.  Just as the apostle warned the elect lady that to welcome and support preachers of false doctrine is to partake in their evils works (2 John verse 11), so he encourages Gaius and his friends with the thought that to welcome and support preachers of the truth is to partake in their good works.  It is the Master's teaching in another form, “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward” (Matthew 10:41).  [24]

All of us ought hospitably to entertain and help such persons.  The work in which they are engaged is one of pure benevolence. They have no selfish aims and ends in it.  They do not even look for the supplies of their own needs among the people to whom they go to minister; and we ought, therefore, to help them in their work, and to contribute to their support.  Doubtless, the apostle meant to urge this duty particularly upon Gaius; but, in order to show that he recognized the obligation himself, he uses the term “we,” and speaks of it as a duty binding on all Christians.  [18]  

that we might be fellowhelpers [fellow workers, ESV, NASB] to the truth.  All Christians cannot go forth to preach the gospel, but all may contribute something to the support of those who do; and in this case they would have a joint participation in the work of spreading the truth.  [18]

It is quite a common idea that the man should accredit the message:  So-and-so is duly ordained, so what he says must be right.  Or it may take this form:  So-and-so is such a good man, so earnest, so gifted, so spiritual, therefore he cannot be wrong.  The whole principle however, is a false one.  The true principle is just the reverse:  The message accredits the man.  The Lord’s words in Luke 9:49-50, virtually enunciate this principle; and it is clearly stamped on both 2 John and 3 John.  The man is not the test of the truth:  the truth is the test of the man.  How important then that we should be so established in the truth that we can use it as a test!  [8] 

                        to the truth.  Which they preach.  [2]

 

 

Verse 9                                               Translations

Weymouth:     I wrote to the Church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the first place among them, refuses to listen to us.

WEB:              I wrote to the assembly, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, doesn't accept what we say.

Young’s:         I did write to the assembly, but he who is loving the first place among them -- Diotrephes -- doth not receive us;

Conte (RC):    As it happens, I had written to the church. But Diotrephes, who loves to bear the highest rank among them, would not accept us.

 

Verse 9           I wrote unto the church.  That letter was not designed by the Spirit for the universal Church, else it would have been preserved.  [4]

                        This may either have been a copy of his Gospel or his First Epistle, or a lost letter of no special importance.  [32]

                         Likely contents of the letter:  The Epistle which was written on that occasion is now lost, and its contents cannot now be ascertained.  It was, probably, however, a letter of mere commendation, perhaps stating the object which these brethren had in view, and soliciting the aid of the church.  [18]

                        Another reconstruction:  Diotrephes gained nothing by destroying the letter, for we have in this letter, doubtless, a repetition of its contents, with the added characterization of Diotrephes himself.  [51] 

                                    Based on a modestly attested alternate reading, the possibility that the letter was never actually written:  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.”  [35]

but Diotrephes.  Nothing more is known of Diotrephes than is here specified.  [18]

who loveth to have the preeminence among them.  To govern all things according to his own will.   [2]

The single word rendered “who loveth to have the pre-eminence  (φιλοπρωτεύων) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.  It means simply, “who loves to be first”--meaning that he loved to be at the head of all things, to rule, to lord it over others.  It is clearly supposed here, that the church would have complied with the request of the writer if it had not been for this man.  [18]

Alas, an undying mind-frame:  Diotrephes wanted to be the leader of the assembly, a kind of a pope in embryo.  He loved the preeminence and this self-love and seeking to maintain his position led him to act so outrageously that he excommunicated the brethren and dared to rise up against the apostle himself.  What harm such jealousies, self-seeking, self-glorification and ecclesiastical bossism have worked and are working in the body of Christ!  and nowhere so much as in circles where the full truth is known and confessed.  [38]

Both Christ and the apostle Paul had warned against this kind of dominating mind-frame:  Love of pre-eminence, desire of holding the first place, is common to man.  It is a part of that nature which must undergo a change.  And there is a “first place” in spiritual concerns as well as secular.  Our Lord foresaw this and warned His apostles, “He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve” (Luke 22:26).  “Neither be ye called masters:  for one is your master, even Christ” (Matthew 23:10).  To which Paul has added:  “Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory:  but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3).  [46]      

receiveth us not.  Neither them nor me.  [2] 

Did not regard the instructions which John had given [as authoritative]; perhaps intercepted and suppressed the letter.  [12]


                        In depth:  What post did Diotrophes hold in the local congregation [18]?  Erasmus and Bede supposed that he was the author of a new sect; but of this there is no evidence, and if he had been, it is probable that John would have cautioned Gaius against his influence.  Many have supposed that he was a self-appointed “Bishop” or “Pastor” in the church where he resided; but there is no evidence of this, and, since John wrote to “the church,” commending the strangers to “them,” this would seem to be hardly probable.  Others have supposed that he was a deacon, and had charge of the funds of the church, and that he refused to furnish to these strangers the aid out of the public treasury which they needed, and that by so doing he hindered them in the prosecution of their object.  But all this is mere conjecture, and it is now impossible to ascertain what office he held, if he held any.  That he was a man of influence is apparent; that he was proud, ambitious, and desirous of ruling, is equally clear; and that he prevailed upon the church not to receive the strangers commended to them by the apostle is equally manifest. 

                        (Later on the same subject:)  If he was an officer in the church--a pastor, a ruling elder, a deacon, a vestry-man, a warden, or a private individual--we have no means of ascertaining.  The presumption, from the phrase “who loveth to have the pre-eminence,” would rather seem to be that he was an aspiring man, arrogating rights which he did not have, and assuming authority to which he was not entitled by virtue of any office . Still he might have held an office, and might have arrogated authority, as many have done, beyond what properly belonged to it.  [18]

 

The argument that he was probably a church leader because he was in a position to frustrate the congregation acting on the letter:  The fact that John wrote unto the church but that Diotrephes ignored the letter, indicates that the epistle was sent to this man as an elder of the congregation.  That would be usual to send an official document to the officers, or at least in their care, as we read that Paul addressed his epistle to the church at Philippi to “the bishops and deacons” (Philippians 1:1).  The epistle had something to do with John’s proposed visit to the church, since he declares or implies that he is going to make the journey notwithstanding the opposition of Diotrephes.  [9] 

 

                        In depth:  What was Diotrophes’ excuse not to accept and go by John’s letter [18]?  What were the alleged grounds for the course which he constrained the church to take, we are not informed; the real ground, the apostle says, was his desire to rule.  There may have been at the bottom of it some secret dislike of John, or some private grudge; but the alleged ground may have been, that the church was independent, and that it should reject all foreign interference; or that the church was unable to support those men; or that the work in which they were engaged was one of doubtful propriety.  Whatever was the cause, the case furnishes an illustration of the bad influence of one ambitious and arrogant man in a church. It is often in the power of one such man to bring a whole church under his control, and effectually to embarrass all its movements, and to prevent all the good which it would otherwise accomplish.    

           

                        In depth:  Additional thoughts on Diotrephes’ possible motives [17].  Diotrephes might have been a converted Jew, who was unwilling that the Gentiles should be received into the Church; or a Judaizing Christian, who wished to incorporate the law with the Gospel, and calumniated the apostles who taught otherwise.  This haughty and unfeeling man would give no countenance to the converted Gentiles; so far from it, that he would not receive any of them himself, forbade others to do it, and excommunicated those who had been received into the Church by the apostles.  This appears to be the meaning of “neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the Church.”  He had the complete dog in the manger principle: he would neither do, nor let do; and when good was done that he did not approve, he endeavored to undo it. 

 

 

Verse 10                                             Translations

Weymouth:     For this reason, if I come, I shall not forget his conduct, nor his idle and mischievous talk against us. And he does not stop there: he not only will not receive the brethren, but those who desire to do this he hinders, and excludes them from the Church.

WEB:              Therefore, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words. Not content with this, neither does he himself receive the brothers, and those who would, he forbids and throws out of the assembly.

Young’s:         because of this, if I may come, I will cause him to remember his works that he doth, with evil words prating against us; and not content with these, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and those intending he doth forbid, and out of the assembly he doth cast.

Conte (RC):    Because of this, when I come, I will admonish his works which he does, babbling against us with malicious words. And as if this were not sufficient for him, he himself does not receive the brothers. And those who do receive them, he hinders, and he ejects them from the church.                 

 

Verse 10         Wherefore, if I come.  He was evidently expecting soon to make a visit to Gaius, and to the church (verse 14).  [18]

I will remember his deeds which he doeth.  Meaning, not only that he would tell him of them to his face, but make mention of them, and expose them to the whole church, and reprove him for them.  [16]

Why John would have to do this:  What had been done was public.  It pertained to the authority of the apostle, the duty of the church, and the character of the brethren who had been commended to them.  If the letter was written, as is supposed by the aged John, and his authority had been utterly rejected by the influence of this one man, then it was proper that that authority should be asserted.  If it was the duty of the church to have received these men, who had been thus recommended to them, and it had been prevented from doing what it would otherwise have done, by the influence of one man, then it was proper that the influence of that man should be restrained, and that the church should see that he was not to control it.  If the feelings and the character of these brethren had been injured by being rudely thrust out of the church, and held up as unworthy of public confidence, then it was proper that their character should be vindicated, and that the author of the wrong should be dealt with in a suitable manner.  [18]

prating against us.  Excusing himself by maligning John.  [3]

The word “prate,” (φλυαρέω) occurring nowhere else in the New Testament, means to “overflow with talk,” to talk much without weight, or to little purpose; to be loquacious; to trifle; or, to use an expression common among us, and which accords well with the Greek, to run on in talk, without connection or sense.  The word [implies] that the talk was of an idle, foolish, and unprofitable character.  [18]  

The word for “prate” (φλυαρεῖν) occurs nowhere else in N.T.  It is frequent in Aristophanes and Demosthenes, and means literally “to talk non-sense.”  Its construction here with an accusative after it is quite exceptional.  “Prates against us” cannot well be improved:  it conveys the idea that the words were not only wicked, but senseless.  Compare “And not only idle, but tattlers (φλύαροι) also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not” (1 Timothy 5:13).  [23]

with malicious words.  Greek, “evil words;” words that were fitted to do injury.  [18]

Not only hostile, but intrinsically evil “words.”  [33]

and not content therewith.  Not satisfied with venting his private feelings in talk.  Some persons seem to be satisfied with merely talking against others, and take no other measures to injure them; but Diotrephes was not. He himself rejected the brethren, and persuaded the church to do the same thing.  Bad as evil talking is, and troublesome as a man may be who is always “prating” about matters that do not go according to his mind, yet it would be comparatively well if things always ended with that, and if the loquacious and the dissatisfied never took measures openly to wrong others [as well].  [18]

neither doth he himself receive the brethren.  The messengers John sent.  [3]

Does not himself treat them as Christian brethren, or with the hospitality which is due to them.  He had not done it on the former visit, and John evidently supposed that the same thing would occur again.  [18]

One particular victim specifically/especially in mind?  It is evident that the servant who had been so ruthlessly rejected by this self-elected leader is the man named in verse 12):  “Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear [witness]; and ye know that our [witness] is true.”  But such a report matters little to those with the spirit of Diotrephes.  They could care less that a man is honored of God, that he proclaims the truth, that his walk is blameless, that many can testify to his devotedness, piety, spirituality, and helpfulness of his ministry.  These arrogant people feel that if “he followeth not with us” he must be treated as a publican and a sinner, or rejected as though he were a blasphemer.  [30]

and forbiddeth them that would.  Seeks to prevent any of the church from hearing or extending hospitality to these messengers.  [3] 

and casteth them out of the church.  There is no occasion to take the word as pointing at that which Diotrephes was attempting to do or threatening to do, and so as spoken in irony (Huther):  the present tense indicates his habit.  [22]

It has been made a question whether the reference here is to the members of the church who were disposed to receive these brethren, or to the brethren themselves.  Macknight and some others suppose that it refers to those in the church who were willing to receive them, and whom Diotrephes had excommunicated on that account.  Rosenmuller, Bloomfield, and others, suppose that it refers to these strangers, and that the meaning is, that Diotrephes would not receive them into the society of Christians, and thus compelled them to go to another place.  That this latter is the correct interpretation seems to me to be evident, for it was of the treatment which they had received that the apostle was speaking.  [18]

                                               

 

Verse 11                                             Translations

Weymouth:     My dear friend, do not follow wrong examples, but right ones. He who habitually does what is right is a child of God: he who habitually does what is wrong has not seen God.

WEB:              Beloved, don't imitate that which is evil, but that which is good. He who does good is of God. He who does evil hasn't seen God.

Young’s:         Beloved, be not thou following that which is evil, but that which is good; he who is doing good, of God he is, and he who is doing evil hath not seen God;

Conte (RC):    Most beloved, do not be willing to imitate what is evil; instead imitate what is good. Whoever does good is of God. Whoever does evil has not seen God.

 

Verse 11         Beloved.  Again stressing his positive feelings toward the recipient.  Hence what he says is not disguised criticism but what it appears to be on the surface—an encouragement that he live in the right and proper manner and not allow the discouragements even of his fellow church members to deter him from doing so.  [rw]   

follow not that which is evil.  There can be no doubt that in this exhortation the writer had Diotrephes particularly in his eye, and that he means to exhort Gaius not to imitate his example.  He was a man of influence in the church, and though Gaius had shown that he was disposed to act in an independent manner, yet it was not improper to exhort him not to be influenced by the example of any one who did wrong.  [18]

The word for “evil” or “ill” is not that used in the previous verse (πονηρός), but a word, which, though one of the most common in the Greek language to express the idea of “bad,” is rarely used by John (κακός).  Elsewhere only John 18:23; Revelation 2:2; Revelation 16:2: in Revelation 16:2  both words occur.  [23]

but that which is good.  Of course doing good and doing evil are to be understood in a wide sense:  the particular cases of granting and refusing hospitality to missionary brethren are no longer specially in question.  [23]

He that doeth good is of God.  He shows that he resembles God, for God continually does good.  [18]

but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.  Is a stranger to him.  [2]  

 

 

Verse 12                                             Translations

Weymouth:     The character of Demetrius has the approval of all men, and of the truth itself. We also express our approval of it, and you know that we only give our approval to that which is true.

WEB:              Demetrius has the testimony of all, and of the truth itself; yes, we also testify, and you know that our testimony is true.

Young’s:         to Demetrius testimony hath been given by all, and by the truth itself, and we also -- we do testify, and ye have known that our testimony is true.

Conte (RC):    Testimony is being given for Demetrius by everyone, and by the truth itself. And we also offer testimony. And you know that our testimony is true.                                                     

 

Verse 12         Demetrius.  Respecting Demetrius we know no more than is told us here.  All that we can safely infer from what is stated is that he is a person of whom Gaius has not hitherto known much; otherwise this elaborate commendation would scarcely be necessary.  [24]

                        Who is Demetrius ?  Is he a member of the church where Gaius lived?  or is he one whom John sends there to bear the present needed letter and give support to the shattered cause?  Not the former, since in that case John would have appealed to the good opinion of Gaius concerning Demetrius.  The other view commends itself as reasonable.  In sending him John emphasizes his good standing, in order that Gaius may receive him with confidence, and that others may be favorably influenced by his coming. [52]

hath good report [testimony, ESV, NKJV] of all men.  No one speaks ill of his behavior or faith.  [rw]

“All men” means chiefly those who belonged to the Church of the place where Demetrius lived, and the missionaries who had been there in the course of their labors.  [23]

and of the truth itself.  As meaning “proved true” by behavior:  Not only by men, who might possibly be deceived in the estimate of character, but by fact.  It was not merely a reputation founded on what “appeared” in his conduct, but in truth and reality.  [18]

As meaning “proved true” by a comparison with what the truth itself says:  The “truth itself,” by agreeing with his faith and doctrine, attested and bore “record” of his genuineness.  [33]   

yea, and we also bear record [witness, NKJV].  John himself had personally known him.  He had evidently visited the place where he resided on some former occasion, and could now add his own testimony, which no one would call in question, to his excellent character.  [18]

and ye know that our record is true.  That every commendation I give is well founded.  [35]

Being that of an original witness of Christ.  [33]

True in quality; true morally; true in the very strongest sense.  Such pre-eminently is apostolic testimony, as Gaius knows.  A manifestly weighty evidence of the apostolic origin of the letter.  It is natural as coming from John the apostle (John 19:35; 21:24), but unnatural for another.  [52]

 

 

Verse 13                                             Translations

Weymouth:     I have a great deal to say to you, but I do not wish to go on writing it with ink and pen.

WEB:              I had many things to write to you, but I am unwilling to write to you with ink and pen;

Young’s:         Many things I had to write, but I do not wish through ink and pen to write to thee,

Conte (RC):    I had many things to write to you, but I am not willing, through ink and pen, to write to you.

 

Verse 13         I had many things to write.  This Epistle closes, as the second does, with a statement that he had many things to say, but that he preferred waiting until he should see him rather than put them on paper.   [18]

but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee.  The reason being given in the next verse:  He does not think it will be long before they see each other again.  [35]

 

 

Verse 14                                             Translations

Weymouth:     But I hope to see you very soon, and then we will speak face to face. Peace be with you. Our friends send greetings to you. Greet our friends individually.

WEB:              but I hope to see you soon, and we will speak face to face. Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.

Young’s:         and I hope straightway to see thee, and mouth to mouth we shall speak. Peace to thee! salute thee do the friends; be saluting the friends by name.

Conte (RC):    Yet I hope to see you soon, and then we will speak face to face. Peace to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.

 

Verse 14         But I trust.  He could promise nothing peremptorily, but submits to God.  [25]  

I shall shortly see thee.  It won’t be very long so there is no necessity of saying more at this time.  There will be plenty of time to cover everything at that point.  [rw] 

and we shall speak face to face.  How ever ably “pen and ink” can communicate knowledge, insight, and emotions, yet there remains something “special” in face-to-face communications.  If there is misunderstanding, it can be straightened out immediately.  If more information is sought, there need be no delay.  Plus the way you look and react shows your affection and concerns in special ways that written communication does not.  [rw]

Peace be to thee.  And every desirable blessing, from God our Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord.  [35]

This is the only instance in the New Testament of this personal formula.  Jesus with this term greeted His disciples (John 20:19).  [51]

Our friends salute [greet, NKJV] thee.  That is, your friends and mine.  This would seem rather to refer to private friends of John and Gaius than to Christians as such.  They had, doubtless, their warm personal friends in both places.  [18]

Friends:  Seldom [used] in the New Testament, as it is absorbed in the higher title, “brother, brethren.”  Still, Christ recognizes the relation of friend (John 15:13-15; James 2:23), based on the highest grounds--obedience from love, entailing the highest privileges--admission to the intimacy of the holy God and sympathizing Savior: so Christians have “friends” in Christ.  In a friendly letter, mention of “friends” appropriately occurs.  [4] 

Greet the friends by name.  The phrase (κατ' ὄνομα) occurs in N.T. in only one other passage (John 10:3):  “He calleth His own sheep by name.”  The salutation is not to be given in a general way, but to each individual separately.  John as shepherd of the Churches of Asia would imitate the Good Shepherd and know all his sheep by name.  [23] 

                        This Epistle [is] “not addressed as from an apostle to a church, but as a friend to his friend, in which mutual friends on both sides would be the senders and receivers of salutation.”  (Alford).  [47]  

                        Such a letter received by a person or by the church would be placed among the archives of the church as a part of its treasures; would be read before the church (see 1 Thessalonians 5:27); would be copied and sent to other churches (see Colossians 4:16).  In this way, little by little, the writings of the New Testament were gathered together and formed one collection.  [51]

 

 

 

 

 

BOOKS/COMMENTARIES UTILIZED IN THIS STUDY:

 

 

All commentaries are in the public domain; the copyright having expired or never been on them. 

 

 

1          Marvin R. Vincent, D.D.  Word Studies in the New Testament.  1886.  Internet edition. 

 

2          John Wesley.  Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible.  1754-1765.  Internet edition.

 

3          Barton Johnson.  People’s New Testament.  1891.  Internet edition.

 

4          Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, David Brown.  Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible.  Unabridged edition.  Internet edition.

 

5          Charles Simeon.  Horae Homileticae.  1832.  Internet edition.

 

6          James Gray.  Concise Bible Commentary.  1897-1910.  Internet edition.

 

7          John Dummelow, editor.  Dummelow’s Commentary on the Bible.  1909.  Internet edition. 

 

8          Frank B. Hole.  Old and New Testament Commentary.  Internet edition.            

 

9          E. M. Zerr.  Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament.  Internet edition.

 

10        Arthur Peake.  Commentary on the Bible.  1919.  Internet edition.

 

11        John A. Bengel.  Gnomon of the New Testament.  1897.  Internet edition.          

 

12        John S. C. Abbott.  Illustrated New Testament.  1878.  Internet edition. 

 

13        Joseph Sutcliffe.  Commentary on the Old and New Testaments.  1835.  Internet edition. 

 

14        Matthew Poole.  English Annotations on the Bible.  1685.  Internet edition.        

 

15        Paul E. Kretzmann.  Popular Commentary.  1921-1922.  Internet edition.            

 

16        John Gill.  Exposition of the Entire Bible.  1746-1763.  Internet edition. 

 

17        Adam Clarke.  Commentary.  1832.  Internet edition.        

 

18        Albert Barnes.  Notes on the New Testament.  1870.  Internet edition.   

 

19        Heinrich Meyer.  Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament.  1832.  Internet edition.             

 

20        Johann P. Lange.  Commentary on the Holy Scriptures:  Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical.  1857-1884.  Internet edition.        

 

21        William R. Nicoll, editor.  Expositor’s Greek Testament.  1897-1910.  Internet edition. 

 

22        Henry Alford.  Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary.  1863-1878.  Internet edition.        

 

23        Alfred Plummer.  Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges.  1889.  Internet edition.  Basically a “simplified” version of the Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges.       

 

24        The Pulpit Commentary.  1897.  Internet edition.  

 

25        John Trapp.  Complete Commentary.  Lived 1601-1669.  1865-1868 reprinting.  Internet edition.  

 

26        William Godbey.  Commentary on the New Testament.  Internet edition.  

 

27        John Calvin.  Commentary on the Bible.  Internet edition.            

 

28        Joseph C. Philpot (1802-1869).  Commentary on Select Texts.  Internet edition.            

 

29        George Haydock (1774-1849).  Catholic Bible Commentary.  Internet edition.  

30        H. A. Ironside.  Ironside’s Notes on Selected Books.  1914.  Internet edition     

 

31        Lost source; rather than delete the material, I felt it better to simply list the unidentifiable volume and admit my error.          

 

32        Charles J. Ellicott, editor. Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers.  Internet edition.          

 

33        Daniel D. Whedon.  Commentary on the Bible.  Internet edition. 

 

34        Philip Schaff, editor.  Schaff’s Popular Commentary on the New Testament.  Internet edition.  

 

35        Joseph Benson (born 1748).  Commentary of the Old and New Testaments.  Internet edition.  

 

36        Thomas Coke (published 1801-1803).  Commentary on the Holy Bible.  Internet edition.          

 

37        Robert S. Candlish.  The First Epistle of John Expounded In A Series of Lectures.  1877 edition.  Internet edition.           

 

38        Arno C. Gaebelein.  The Annotated Bible.  Internet edition.         

 

39        Joseph Parker.  The People's Bible.  Internet edition.       

 

40        Thomas Scott.  Commentary on the Bible.  Volume Six.  Fifth Edition.  London:  L. B. Seeley et al, 1822.           

 

41        Bernhard Weiss.  Commentary on the New Testament.  Volume Four.    New York:  Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1906.        

 

42        M. F. Sadler.  The General Epistles of SS James, Peter, John and Jude.  London:  George Bell and Sons, 1895. 

 

43        [Robert S. Hunt?]  The Cottage Commentary:  The Epistle to the Hebrews and the General Epistles.  London:  Joseph Masters, 1865.     


44        Charles Erdman.  The General Epistles:  An Exposition.  Philadelphia:  Westminster Press, 1918.      

 

45        W. H. Bennett.  The Century Bible:  The General Epistles—James, Peter, John, and Jude.  Edinburgh:  T. C. & E. C. Jack, 1901.     

 

46        John B. Sumner.  A Practical Exposition of the General Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude.  London:  J. Hatchard and Son, 1840.           

 

47        James C. Gray.  Biblical Museum:  Hebrews to the End of the New Testament.  London:  Elliot Stock, 1877. 

 

48        William G. Humphry.  A Commentary on the Revised Version of the New Testament.  London:  Cassel, Petter, Galpin & Company, 1882.    

 

49        Revere F. Weidner.  The Lutheran Commentary:  Annotations on the General Epistles of James, Peter, Peter, John, and Jude.  New York:  Christian Literature Company, 1897.           

 

50        A Short Protestant Commentary on the New Testament.  Volume 3.  Translated from the Third German Edition.  London:  Williams and Norgate, 1884. 

 

51        O. P. Eaches.  Clark’s Peoples Commentary:  I, II, and III John, Jude, and Revelation.  Boston:  American Baptist Publication Society, 1910.           

 

52        Henry A. Sawtelle.  Commentary on the Epistles of John.  Philadelphia:   American Baptist Publication Society, 1888.