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Bible Commentaries

International Critical Commentary NT

3 John 1

Verses 1-99



1. ὁ πρεσβύτερος] Cf. 2 John 1:1 note.

Γαίῳ] Three persons of this name are mentioned in the N. T. (1) Gaius the Macedonian, who is mentioned together with Aristarchus in connection with the tumult in the theatre at Ephesus (Acts 19:29). They are described as Macedonians, fellow travellers of S. Paul. (2) Gaius of Derbe, one of S. Paul’s companions on his last journey to Jerusalem. (3) Gaius of Corinth. Cf. Romans 16:23, Γαίος ὁ ξένος μου καὶ ὅλης τῆς ἐκκλησίας: 1 Corinthians 1:14, Κρίσπον καὶ Γάιον, whom S. Paul mentions as the only Corinthians, besides the household of Stephanas, whom he had baptized himself. Of this Gaius, Origen says that according to tradition he was the first Bishop of Thessalonica. Cf. Origen, Comm. in Ro. x. 41, “Fertur sane traditione maiorum quod hic Gaius primus episcopus fuerit Thessalonicensis ecclesiae.” Dom Chapman’s ingenious attempt to connect the Epistle with Thessalonica on this ground is not convincing (see Introd.). Coenen (ZWTh., 1872, p. 264 ff.) has attempted to show that Gaius of Corinth is intended in the “fictitious” address of this Epistle, on the ground of the similarity of the conditions prevailing here and at Corinth, as testified by the Pauline Epistles. The similarities are of too general a character either to compel identification or even to make it probable. Coenen’s interpretation of ὁ ἐρχόμενος (2 Corinthians 11:4) as a “pillar apostle whom S. Paul’s opponents threatened to invite to Corinth to overthrow his authority,” is certainly not helped by the statement in our Epistle of the Elder’s intention of paying a visit to the Church of Gaius. But perhaps it is not necessary now to spend time in dealing with the theory that the two smaller Johannine Epistles owe their origin to the desire of the “great unknown” to gain credence for the view that his more important forgeries (the Gospel and First Epistle) were really the work of the son of Zebedee. As Windisch says, “III. (i.e. 3 Jn.) für Fiktion zu erklären, widerspricht allen gesunden Sinnen.” The statement in Const. Apostol. vii. 46, that Gaius was the first Bishop of Pergamus, is of too slight historical value to guide our conjectures as to the recipient of this Epistle (vid. Introd.). Bartlet’s suggestion of Thyatira does not claim more than relative probability. But all such attempts at identification of the Church or the individual addressed are mere speculation. Where our knowledge is inadequate the building up of hypothesis is of the nature of pastime rather than of serious work. Truer scholarship is seen in Harnack’s less interesting judgment, “Gaius, to whom (the Epistle) is addressed, receives no title of honour. That he occupied a prominent position in his Church is clear from what follows.” In Commentaries, if not in periodicals, the rule should be remembered that “there is a time to keep silence.”

τῷ�Romans 1:7, Romans 1:16:5, Romans 1:8, Romans 1:9, Romans 1:12; Colossians 4:9, Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:2; Philemon 1:1.

ὃν…�2 John 1:1 (notes).

εγω] om. boh-cod.

2. περὶ πάντων] must be taken with εὐοδοῦσθαι. The writer prays for the prosperity of Gaius in all respects, and especially in the matter of health. There is no need to alter περὶ πάντων into the conventional πρὸ πάντων of epistolary introductions. The converse change would be far more likely to have taken place.

εὐοδοῦσθαι] Bartlet’s ingenious conjecture that the other name of Gaius may have been Euodias, is again outside the sphere of commentary. The word is part of the common and conventional language of Epistles. For its use in the N. T., compare Romans 1:10; 1 Corinthians 16:2. Cf. also Hermas, Sim. vi. 3, 5.

δγιαίνειν] The word may possibly suggest that Gaius’ health had caused his friends anxiety; but it certainly does not necessarily do so. Its use in letters is conventional. Cf. Oxyrh. Pap. ii. 293 (p. 293), Διονύσιος Διδύμῃ τῇ�

καθὼς… ψυχή] Cf. Philo, Quis rer. div. heres, p. 514 (Wendland, iii. p. 65). Philo is commenting on “μετʼ εἰρήνης τραφείς” (Genesis 15:15). Πότε οὖν τοῦτο συμβήσεταῖ; ὅταν εὐοδῇ μὲν τὰ ἐκτὸς πρὸς εὐπορίαν καὶ εὐδοξίαν, εὐοδῇ δὲ τὰ σώματος πρὸς ὑγίειάν τε καὶ ἰσχύν, εὐοδῇ δὲ τὰ ψυχῆς πρὸς�

και ῦγιαινειν] om. boh-codd. | καθως] + καιIc 364 (137).3. ἐχάρην] Cf. 2 John 1:4; Philippians 4:10.

ἐρχομένων… καὶ μαρτυρούντων] The tense almost precludes the reference of the words to a single occasion, and their evidence should not be so interpreted in attempts to discover the historical setting of the Epistles. They suggest rather the means by which the Elder kept himself in touch with the Churches for whose welfare he regarded himself as responsible, and over which he exercised his supervision.

σου τῇ�

περιπατεῖς] Cf. note on 1 John 1:6.

εχαρην γαρA B C K L P al. pler. boh-codd. syrbodl et p Thphyl. Oec.] om. γαρ א 4. 5. 6. 13. 25. 65. 100 dscr vg. boh-ed. sah. arm. aeth. | σου] σοιIa 64 (328) sah. (uid.) | τη αληθεια] την αληθειανIa 158, 1100 (395): caritati boh-cod. | συ] pr. και22. 56. 80. 98 arm-codd. (uid.): om. A 37.

4. μειζοτέραν] Cf. ἐλαχιστοτέρῳ, Ephesians 3:8; Deissmann, Bibel Studien, p. 142, who quotes Pap. Lond. 130, μεγιστότατος.

τούτων] explained by the clause introduced by ἵνα. The plural is used instead of the singular, as the writer is thinking of more than one occasion on which he had experienced the joy of which he speaks. If this explanation of the plural is correct there is no need to correct the text by supplying ἤ before ἵνα, as Wilamowitz suggests (Hermes, 1898, p. 531). In his interesting note on the Epistle he does not offer any explanation of τούτων. Cf. John 15:13, μείζονα ταύτης�

χαράν] The variant χάριν is probably due to scribe, who substituted a commoner phrase. Cf. 2 Corinthians 1:15. For χαρά, cf. 1 John 1:4; 2 John 1:12; Philemon 1:7.

τὰ ἐμὰ τέκνα] Those over whom he exercises his fatherly supervision, whether actually his “children in the faith” or not. The bearing of this phrase on the meaning of τέκνα in the Second Epistle should not be overlooked.

μειζοτεραν] μειζοτερονIb 78-157 (—): μειζονα137 | τουτων ουκ εχω] post χαρανH 257 (33) Ia 505. 192 (69) O 46 (154) | τουτων] ταυτης27. 29. 31. 40. 66**. 68. 69. 73 dscr al. fere. 10 sah. boh-ed. syrbodl Dam. | ουκ εχω] post χαρανC 31. 68 aeth. | ουκ] om. Ic 364 (137) | εχων B* | χαραν א A C K L P al. pler. cat. tol. arm. sah.] χαριν B 7. 35 vg. cop. | ινα] pr. η69 vg. (maiorem horum … quam ut) vid. sup. | ακουσωIa 216 δ355 (301) | τεκνα] σπλαγχναIc 114 (335).


καὶ τοῦτο ξένους] For καὶ τοῦτο, cf. 1 Corinthians 6:6,�Philippians 1:28, ἔνδειξις… ὑμῶν δὲ σωτηρίας, καὶ τοῦτο�Ephesians 2:8, τῇ γὰρ χάριτι ἐστὲ σεσωσμένοι διὰ πίστεως· καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν. Its use in Romans 13:11 is rather different.

The recognition of the duty of φιλοξενία among Christians is fully testified, 1 Timothy 5:10; Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2; Heb_1 P. 4:9, as also the special duties of the leaders in this respect, 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8. Cf. also Herm. Sim. ix. 27, ἐκ δὲ τοῦ ὄρους τοῦ δεκάτου, οὗ ἦσαν δένδρα σκεπάζοντα πρόβατά τινα, οἱ πιστεύσαντες τοιοῦτοί εἰσιν· ἐπίσκοποι φιλόξενοι, οἵτινες ἡδέως εἰς τοὺς οἴκους ἑαυτῶν πάντοτε ὑπεδέξαντο τοὺς δούλους τοῦ θεοῦ ἄτερ ὑποκρίσεως… οὗτοι οὗν πάντες σκεπασθήσονται ὑπὸ τοῦ κυρίου διαπαντός. Justin, Apol. i. 67, αὐτὸς (sc. ὁ προεστὼς) ἐπικουρεῖ… καὶ τοῦς παρεπιδήμοις οὖσι ξένοις.

πιστον] pr. uenim et boh-cod.: πιστωςIa 175 (319) |εργαση א B C K L Pal. omnuid cat. etc.] εργαζη A | τους] om. H δ6 (Ψ) | και τουτοא A B C 17. 27. 29. 33. 66**. 68. 81. 97. 126mg vg. syrbodl et p sah. cop. arm. aeth.] και ταυταIa 200f (83): και εις τους K L P al. pler. dscr (om. τους) cat. Thphyl. Oec.

6. οἳ ἐμαρτύρησαν κ.τ.λ.] The�

ἐνώπιον ἐκκλησίας] The absence of the article is significant. The anarthrous phrase denotes a meeting of the Church at which the witness was borne. Cf. 1 Corinthians 14:19, 1 Corinthians 14:35, ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ: John 18:20, ἐν συναγωγῇ καὶ ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ: also 6:59.καλῶς ποιήσεις προπέμψας] The reading ποιήσας προπέμψεις is probably a correction. καλῶς ποιήσεις is a common phrase in letters, and no special stress should be laid on it. It is a conventional expression. In many papyrus letters the double future occurs. Many letter writers would have written καλῶς ποιήσεις προπέμψεις. But the textual evidence does not justify our attributing such a solecism to the author. For the phrase, cf. Tebtunis Pap. i. 56, p. 167, καλῶς οὖν ποιήσῃς εὐχαριστῆναι πρῶτον μὲν τοῖς θεοῖς δεύτερον δὲ σῶσαι ψυχὰς πολλάς: 57, p. 168, καλῶς οὖν ποιήσεις�

προπέμψας] Cf. Titus 3:13, σπουδαίως πρόπεμψον ἵνα μηδὲν αὐτοῖς λείπῃ. It is also found in Acts and the earlier Pauline Epistles (Ro.; 1, 2 Co.).

ἀξίως τοῦ θεοῦ] Cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:12, εἰς τὸ περιπατεῖν ὑμᾶς�Romans 16:2), τῆς κλήσεως (Ephesians 4:1), τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τοῦ Χριστοῦ (Philippians 1:27), τοῦ κυρίου (Colossians 1:10).

οι] o K | σου] σοιIa 64 (328): om. Ib δ309 (35) | την αγαπηνH 162 (61) Ic 364 (137) | εκκλησιας] pr. τηςIa 200. 175. 101 (83) O46 (154): ecclesiarum eorum boh-ed. | ους] ου B* | ποιησεις προπεμψας א A B K L P etc. (ποιεις7. 18. 27. 29. 68 demid. tol. al.) am. fu. tol. demid. boh-sah.] ποιησασπροπεμψεις C vg. (benefaciens deduces) arm. (deducis) | αξιως] αξιουςIa 70. 175 (505) | του θεου] τω θῶIa 70.f (505) O46 (154): om. Isa_55 (236).

7. ὑπὲρ γὰρ τοῦ ὀνόματος] gives the reason why they deserve such help. For the phrase, cf. Acts 5:41, χαίροντες… ὅτι κατηξιώθησαν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος�Romans 1:5, ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ. Dom Chapman’s interpretation of the phrase as hinting at “withdrawal from the scene of persecution,” or even banishment, at a time when the mere fact of being a Christian was enough to procure condemnation (cf. 1 P. 4:14, εἰ ὀνειδίζεσθε ἐν ὀνόματι Χριστοῦ: 15, μὴ ὡς φονεύς… εἰ δὲ ὡς Χριστιανός, μὴ αἰσχυνέσθω) is wholly unnatural. As Bartlet has pointed out, it might be possible if the phrase used were διὰ τὸ ὄνομα.The absolute use of τὸ ὄνομα, which is found in the passage quoted from Acts (cf. also Philippians 2:9), is also to be found in Ignatius (ad Eph. iii. εἰ γὰρ καὶ δέδεμαι ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι: vii. εἰώθασινγάρ τινες δόλῳ πονηρῷ τὸ ὄνομα περιφέρειν ἄλλα τινὰ πράσσοντες�

ἐξῆλθαν] probably from Ephesus, though Dr. Westcott’s more cautious statement, “from some Church well known to the Apostle and Gaius,” is alone completely justified by the facts known to us from the Epistle and by the language used.

μηδὲν λαμβάνοντες] The form of the sentence (μηδέν) states more than the bare fact. It was their custom, a custom which emphasized the character of their work, to carry out the spirit of the Commission to the Twelve (Matthew 10:8, δωρεὰν ἐλάβετε, δωρεὰν δότε), and the tradition established by Paul (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:14, ἑτοίμως ἔχω ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ οὐ καταναρκήσω οὐ γὰρ ζητῶ τὰ ὑμῶν�1 Thessalonians 2:9, νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας ἐργαζόμενοι πρὸς τὸμὴ ἐπιβαρῆσαί τινα ὑμῶν ἐκηρύξαμεν εἰς ὑμᾶς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦθεοῦ. They carried out as their rule of mission work the Pauline custom of refusing support from those amongst whom they were working as Missionaries. They had therefore a special claim on the hospitality and help of the Churches in places through which they had to pass. There is an interesting parallel to the sentence in the Didache xi. 6, ἐξερχόμενος δὲ ὁ�

ἀπὸ τῶν ἐθνικῶν] For λαμβάνειν with�Matthew 17:25,�Matthew 5:47, ἐὰν�

του ονοματος א A B C K L P al. plu. cat. am. fu. sah. cop. syrp txt armed. Thphyl. Oec. Bed.] + αυτου minusc. mu. vg. demid. syrbedl et p armed. aeth. | λαμβανοντες] λαβοντεςIb 157 (29) | απο] παρα5. 13. 29. 118 dscr Rev_5 | εθνικων א A B C Rev_12 fu. tol. (gentilibus) boh-ed.] εθνων K L P al. longe. plu. boh-codd.: gentibus vg. am. demid. sah.

8. ἡμεῖς οὖν] In view of their policy of refusing support from the heathen to whom they minister, we Christians are under a special obligation to do what we can to forward their work.

ὀφείλομεν] Cf. 1 John 2:6, 1 John 3:16, 1 John 4:11, and John 13:14.ὑπολαμβάνειν] The�2 John 1:8, μισθὸν πλήρη�Acts 1:9). The usage of the LXX is similar. But in other Greek it is often used in the sense of receiving with hospitality, and especially of supporting. Cf. Strabo, p. 653, οἱεὔποροι τοὺς ἐνδεεῖς ὑπολαμβάνουσιν. It suggests support as well as welcome.

τοὺς τοιούτους] Cf. 1 Corinthians 16:16, ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς ὑποτάσσησθετοῖς τοιούτοις καὶ παντὶ τῷ συνεργοῦντι, and ver. 18, ἐπιγινώσκετεοὖν τοὺς τοιούτους. All who act on such principles have a claim on our help and support.

συνεργοὶ γιν. τῇ�2 Corinthians 8:23, κοινωνὸς ἐμὸς καὶ εἰς ὑμᾶς συνεργός: Colossians 4:11, οὗτοι μόνοι συνεργοὶ εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. There is no other example of συνεργός with the dative in the N.T., the usual construction being with the genitive, either of the person or the work, or with a preposition. But the dative with συνεργεῖν is not uncommon. Cf. James 2:22, ἡ πίστις συνήργει τοῖς ἔργοισαὐτοῦ. Cf. also 1 Esther 7:2, συνεργοῦντες τοῖς πρεσβυτέροις τῶν Ἰ.: 1 Mac. 12:1, ὁ καιρὸς αὐτῷ συνεργεῖ. In view of this usage, and the writer’s use of�

υπολαμβανειν א A B C * 13, 16. 27. 29. 46. 66**. 68. 73. 126mg Oeccod] post τοιουτουςIa 56 (316): απολαμβανεινCcav K L P al. pler. cat. Thphyl. | γινωμεθα] post αληθειαIa 251 (326): γενωμεθα K 42. 69. 105 al. fere.10 cat. Thphyl: γινομεθα C 100 | αληθεια] εκκλησια א * A.

9. ἔγραψα] The addition of αν is clearly an attempt to remove the (supposed) difficulty of admitting that a letter written by an Apostle has not been preserved, or could have failed in its object. It must have been added at a time when the supposed reference to the Second Epistle was unknown, or at any rate not accepted.

τι] Cf. Matthew 20:20, αἰτοῦσά τι�Galatians 2:6, τῶν δοκούντων εἶναί τι) nor something insignificant. Its omission in the Textus Receptus is probably due to error.

τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ] The local Church of which Gaius and Diotrephes were members. Cf. S. Paul’s usage in his earlier Epistles (1, 2 Th.; Gal.; 1, 2 Co.) and the usage of the Apocalypse (1:4, 2:1, etc.).In spite of the close resemblance in form between the Second and Third Epistles, which certainly favours the view that they are companion Epistles, and the many points of similarity in the circumstances of the Churches to which, or to members of which, they are addressed, the context of ver. 9; makes it almost impossible to see in the words ἔγραψά τι τῇἐκκλησίᾳa reference to the Second Epistle. (Cf. Introduction, 83.) It must, of course, be admitted that Diotrephes probably favoured, or at least condoned, the Gnostic or other teaching which the writer condemns in the Second Epistle. And in spite of what Harnack has said, it is doubtful whether that Epistle “must have contained a reference to the sins of Diotrephes if it had been addressed to the Church of which he was a member.” But ver. 9; must be read as it stands, between verses 8 and 10. The reception, or the refusal to receive, the Missionary brethren is the subject of both these verses. The letter to which reference is made in the intermediate verse, and which the writer fears that Diotrephes will suppress or persuade his Church to neglect, if, indeed, he has not already done so, must have contained some reference to the question of the hospitable reception of these brethren. If we add to this the totally different aim of the two letters, on which Harnack rightly lays stress, the warning not to receive false brethren in the Second, and the exhortation to welcome the true brethren in the Third Epistle, the case against the supposed reference is convincingly strong. The most natural interpretation of the words is that the Elder wrote to the Church a letter of similar content to the private letter to Gaius, exhorting them to show hospitality to Demetrius and the brethren whom he commends to their care: but knowing the power of Diotrephes to oppose his wishes he wrote a private letter to Gaius, a member of the Church on whose loyalty he could thoroughly depend. The Second Epistle, with its sharply expressed prohibition of any intercourse with those who claimed the rights of brethren, but who had forfeited them by their false teaching, fails altogether to correspond to the requirements of the case.

ἀλλʼ] The letter had been written, but the writer feared that it would fail to secure the carrying out of his wishes.φιλοπρωτεύων] not found elsewhere, except in Patristic writings, where it is derived from this passage. A scholion in Matthaei (p. 162) explains it as equivalent to ὁ ὑφαρπάζων τὰπρωτεῖα. The cognate φιλόπρωτος and φιλοπρωτεία are both found. Of the passages quoted by Wettstein in illustration of the word two will suffice: Plutarch, Alcibiad. p. 192, φύσει δὲπολλῶν ὄντων καὶ μεγάλων παθῶν ἐν αὐτῷ τὸ φιλόνεικον ἰσχυρότατον ἦν καὶ τὸ φιλόπρωτον: Agesil. 596 D, φιλονεικότατος γὰρ ὢνκαὶ θυμοειδέστατος ἐν τοῖς νέοις καὶ πάντα πρωτεύειν βουλόμενος. The word expresses ambition, the desire to have the first place in everything. It should not be pressed either to prove or disprove the possession by Diotrephes of an “episcopal” position. It certainly does not suggest “aspiring to a place not already obtained.”

αὐτῶν] The members of the Church to which the Elder had written. For the construction, cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2, τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦθεοῦ… ἡγιασμένοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.

οὐκ ἐπιδέχεται ἡμᾶς] ἐπιδέχεσθαι is not found in the N.T., except here and in the following verse, where it is used in a somewhat different sense. Diotrephes refuses to recognize the authority of the Elder and those who side with him. Cf. 1 Mac. 10:1, κατελάβετο Πτολεμαίδα καὶ ἐπεδέξαντο αὐτὸν καὶ ἐβασίλευσενἐκει: 12:8, ἐπεδέξατο… τὸν ἄνδρα… ἐνδόξως: 12:43, 14:23. In papyri it is used for “accepting” the terms, of a lease, etc. (esp. ἐπιδέχομαι μισθώσασθαι). For its use in ver. 10 we may compare Oxyrh. Pap. 2:281 (p. 272), ἐγὼ μὲν οὖν ἐπιδεξαμένη αὐτὸν εἰς τὰ τῶν γόνεων μου οἰκητήρια λειτὸν παντελῶς ὄντα.

εγραψα] εγραψας B sah.: + αν אc 13. 15. 18. 26. 29. 33**. 36. 40. 49. 66**. 73. 180 dscr cat. vg. syrbodl et p | τι א A B C 7. 29. 66**. 68 sah. cop. arm.] om. K L P al. pler. vg. syrbodl et p aeth. Thphyl. Oec. | αλλ] quia sah. | ο] οτιIa 106, 397 (179) | αυτων] pr. τη αληθειαIa 173 (156) | Διοτρεφης]ΔιοτροφηςIa 264 (233) boh-ced.: ΔιατρεφηςH162 (61) | οτρεφηςHδ6 (Ψ)| ουκ] ουδεH162 (61) | αποδέχεταιIa 397f (96).

10. διὰ τοῦτο] Because of his refusal to recognize our authority, and the lengths to which he has gone in opposing us in consequence.

ἐὰν ἔλθω] Those who find in the Second Epistle the letter to which ver. 9; refers naturally see in these words a reference to ver. 12 of that Epistle (ἐλπίζω γενέσθαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς). They are equally well explained by the expectation expressed in ver. 14 of this letter. The writer perhaps speaks somewhat less confidently (ἐάν) of his coming than he does of the arrival of false teachers in the Church to which 2 Jn. is addressed (εἴ τις ἔρχεται). But the difference between the two constructions cannot be pressed.

ὑπομνήσω] Cf. John 14:26, ὑπομνήσει ὑμᾶς πάντα ἃ εἶπον ὑμῖν ἐγώ. The Elder will recall to them the whole conduct of their leader and show it in its true light.

τὰ ἔργα] Cf. John 3:19 ff (ἵνα μὴ ἐλεγχθῇ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ… ἵνα φανερωθῇ αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα). The writer is confident that the conduct of Diotrephes will not stand the light of truth, and that the Church will recognize the fact.

λόγοις πονηροῖς κ.τ.λ.] Two accusations are brought against Diotrephes: his boastful opposition to the Elder and his friends, and his harsh action in the matter of the Missionaries.φλυαρῶν] Cf. 1 Timothy 5:13, οὐ μόνον δὲ�

μὴ�1 Timothy 6:8, τούτοις�Hebrews 13:5,�

οὔτε. . καί] For the construction, cf. John 4:11, οὔτε ἄντλημα ἔχεις καὶ τὸ φρέαρ ἐστὶν βαθύ.

ἐπιδέχεται τοὺς�

τοὺς βουλομένους] sc. ἐπιδέχεσθαι. His custom is to put every hindrance in the way of their carrying out their wishes, or he actually prevents them. The description of his action does not decide his position. The words used express action possible either in the case of a “monarchical” bishop, or of an influential and self-willed leader.ἐκ τῆς ἐκκλησίας ἐκβάλλει] John 9:34 f. is rightly quoted in illustration. But the difference in tense should also be noticed (καὶ ἐξέβαλον αὐτὸν ἔξω). Again a policy or practice is described rather than a single incident. And the words cannot be used to determine the exact position of Diotrephes. Even if he had already obtained the “monarchical” position he could not have inflicted the penalty of excommunication without the concurrence of the whole Church. And a leading presbyter might well succeed in forcing his will on the community. The words, therefore, only indicate the position of power to which he had attained. And they do not determine whether the sentence of excommunication had been actually carried out, either in the case of those who wished to receive the Missionaries to whom reference is made in this Epistle, or in any other case.

The suggestion of Carpzov, revived by Poggel, to make τοὺσἀδελφούς the object of ἐκ τῆς ἐκκλησίας ἐκβάλλει, involves a construction which is intolerably harsh. The writer’s love of parenthesis, even if ὁ εἰπών is the true reading in John 1:15, hardly goes so far as this. And the arguments by which it is supported are not convincing: (1) Diotrephes could not have expelled those whose only offence was the desire to show hospitality to the Missionaries; (2) if he succeeded in preventing them from carrying out their wishes, why should he go further?

υπομνησω] ελεγξωO46 (154) | εργα] + mala boh-cod. | πονηροις λογοιςIa δ180 (1319) | ημας] pr. ειςC vg.: υμαςH162 (61) Ia 158 (395) Ib 62 (498) Ic 258 (56) | επι] om. H162 (61) | επιδεχεται] υποδεχεταιIc 208, 174 (307): + uos neque accipit sahw | βουλομενους א A B K L P al. pler. cat. am. fu. cop. syrp txt aeth. Thphyl. Oec.] επιδεχομενους C 5. 7. 27. 29. 66** vg. demid. tol. sah. syrbodl et p mg arm.: + suscipere boh. | εκ—εκβαλλει] εκβαλλει και κωλυει τησεκκλησιας4 | εκ A B C K L P al. plu. Thphyl. Oec.] om. א2. 3. 15. 25. 26. 36. 43. 95*. 98. 99. 100 bscr hscr.


μὴ μιμοῦ τὸ κακόν] Cf. Hebrews 13:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:7, 2 Thessalonians 3:9. The use of φαῦλον is more frequent in this writer, but κακόν is found in John 18:23 (εἰ κακῶς ἐλάλησα μαρτύρησον περὶ τοῦ κακοῦ). It is not necessary to limit the writer’s meaning to the examples of evil and good afforded by Diotrephes and Demetrius, especially as the conduct of the latter would seem to have needed apology. If two special examples are intended, they must be the action of Diotrephes, and that of Gaius and his friends who wished to show hospitality. But the writer’s object is rather to set two courses of action in the sharpest possible contrast, and to help forward a right decision by showing the true character of the point at issue in all its simplicity. Viewed rightly, it is simply a matter of refusing the evil and choosing the good. There are times when the simplest platitude in the mouth of authority is the expression of the truest wisdom; cf. Mark 3:4 (= Luke 6:9).

ὁ�1 John 3:9, 1 John 3:10. He who “does good” shows by his conduct that the inspiration which dominates his life and work comes from God. He who “does evil” shows similarly that he has not made even the first step towards union with God; cf. 1 John 3:6, πᾶς ὁ ἁμαρτάνων οὐχ ἑώρακεν αὐτόν (Dr. Westcott’s note); John 3:3, John 3:5.For the use of�

ο2o א A B C K P h. al. longe. plu. cat. d vg. boh-codd. sah. syrp] +δε L 31 ascr al. mu. tol. boh-ed. arm. aeth. Did. Dam. Thphyl. Oec.

12. Δημητρίῳ] Nothing is known of Demetrius except what can be gathered from the Epistle itself. The conjecture that he should he identified with the Demas mentioned in the Pauline Epistles (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 1:24, and 2 Timothy 4:10), and the less improbable suggestion of his identity with the Ephesian silversmith whose opposition to S. Paul is recorded in Acts 19:21 ff., have been referred to in the Introduction. Purely conjectural identification is hardly a branch of serious historical study. But the mention of Demetrius here may be interpreted in different ways. (i.) It is possible to regard him as a member of the Church of Gaius and Diotrephes, whose conduct had somehow or other given cause for suspicion, even if we cannot follow the ingenious attempts of Weiss to show that he must have been the leader of the Church to whom under the special circumstances of the case the Elder had sent his letter to the Church (ver. 9), and of whose attitude Gaius was uncertain, as he stood between the two parties (Weiss, p. 210).

(ii.) With greater probability he has been regarded as the bearer of the Epistle (3 Jn.). Wilamowitz and others are probably right in finding in this Epistle a commendatory letter on behalf of Demetrius and his companions. The special emphasis of ver. 12 is most easily explained, as Dom Chapman, Mr. Bartlet and others have seen, by the supposition that Demetrius had fallen under suspicion, though the grounds for such suspicion are altogether unknown. On the whole, the hypothesis which best suits the facts of the case which are known to us is that he was one of the Missionaries, perhaps their leader. The main object of the letter is to commend them to the hospitality of the Church of Gaius. This the Elder had already attempted to do in a letter written to the Church. But his object had been frustrated by the machinations of Diotrephes, who had succeeded in forcing his will upon the Church. Probably Diotrephes had found his task the easier because of suspicions felt about Demetrius, which were not altogether unwarranted. We cannot, however, say more than that of several possible hypotheses this is the most probable�John 16:13), and the statement of 1 John 5:6, ὅτι τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν ἡ�John 14:6, ἐγώ εἰμι… ἡ�

In what manner the “Truth” is said to bear witness to Demetrius is a different question. Probably it is in so far as his life and conduct show those who know him that the ideal of Christianity has been realized in him, that he “abides in the truth.”

ὑπὸ πάντων] If any qualification of the words is necessary, that of Oecumenius will serve the purpose, τῶν τὴν�

καὶ ἡμεῖς δέ] For the construction, and also for the combination of the witness of men with the higher witness, cf. John 15:26 f. ἐκεῖνος μαρτυρήσει περὶ ἐμοῦ· καὶ ὑμεῖς δὲ μαρτυρεῖτε, ὅτιἀπʼ�John 15:26 f. are in his mind as he writes. In the present verse, however, there is nothing to suggest that he means more than “we who are personally acquainted with Demetrius.”

οἶδας κ.τ.λ.] The close connection of this clause with John 21:24, καὶ οἴδαμεν ὅτι�

οἶδας] The plural of the Textus Receptus is not well supported, and the personal appeal to Gaius is more natural. Possibly the correction is due to the influence of the plural in John 21:24.

The writer apparently makes his appeal to Gaius’ knowledge of himself, and the trustworthy character of his witness in general. It is possible, however, that he is thinking of Gaius’ knowledge of Demetrius, which would help him to judge of the truth of the Elder’s witness in this particular case.

αυτης] om. boh. sah. | της αληθειας] pr. της εκκλησιας καιC syrbodl et p mg arm. (om. αυτης): της εκκλησιας A* | και οιδας א A B C al. plus 20 cat. d vg. sah. boh-ed. arm.] και οιδατε K L P al. longe. plur. syrbodl et p aeth. Thphyl. Oec.: και οιδαμεν14*. 38. 93. 104. 180 Rev_3 scr boh-codd.: om. ascr: om. καιHδ6 (Ψ) | η-εστιν] αληθης ημων εστιν (εστ. ημ.68) η μαρτυρια C 68: αληθης εστιν η μαρτ. ημ.31aeth.

13-15. The close of the Epistle

13. γράψαι… γράφειν] This is probably the true text, though the variants γράφειν—γράψαι are found. The use of the tenses is correct. The “much” which he has to communicate is naturally regarded as a whole, the aorist being used. But he does not wish to go on using pen and ink (γράφειν).

μέλανος] Cf. 2 John 1:12.

καλάμου] The reed, the pen of the ancients, here takes the place of the writing material mentioned in 2 Jn. Cf. Psa_44. (45.):1, κάλαμος γραμμάτεως, Oxyrh. Pap. 2:326 (p. 306) παρατέθεικα

τῇ μητρὶ φιλουμένῃ τὸ βροχίον τοῦ μέλανος καὶ τοὺς καλάμους.

ειχον] η θελονIb 157 (29): habens boh-ed (?) | γραψαι σοι א A B C Rev_10 d vg. sah. cop. syrbodl et p arm. (uobis codd.) aeth. Thphyl.] γραφειν K L P al. pler. cat. Oec.: συγγραψαιIc δ 299 (—) | ου θελω] ουκ εβουληθηνA :ουκ ηθελον 27: nolui vg. | δια—καλαμου] per chartam et atramentum arm. | σοι γραφειν א B C 5. 27. 31. 33. 105] γραφειν σοιA 73: σοι γραψαι K L P al. pler. cat. Thphyl. Oec.: om. σοι4.16arm.

14. ἐλπίζω… ἰδεῖν] Cf. 2 John 1:12, ἐλπίζω γενέσθαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς.

The εὐθέως may possibly suggest that the intended journey is nearer than when 2 John was written. The action of Diotrephes, and perhaps of others in other places, may have brought matters to a crisis.

στόμα πρὸς στόμα] Cf. 2 John 1:12 (notes).εἰρήνη σοι] The Christian wish (cf. John 14:27) takes the place of the usual ἔρρωσο, or ἐρρῶσθαί σε εὔχομαι of ordinary correspondence.

ἀσπάζονται] In the private letter the private greetings are given instead of the general greeting of the members of the Church in the more formal Epistle (2 John 1:13).

σε ιδειν A B C 5. 31. 73. d vg.] ιδειν σε א K L P al. pler. cat. cop. Thphyl. Oec.: uenire ad te sah. | λαλησομεν] λαλησωμενK 22. 26. 33. 41. 99 Thphyl.: λαλησαιH 103, 162 (25) I a 70, 200f (505): loqui tibi arm.


C δ3. Codex Ephraimi. Paris. Bibl. Nat. 9 (v.); 1 John 1:1 τους—(2) εωρα[κομεν]. 4:2 εστιν—(3 John 1:2) ψυχη.

L α5. Rome. Angel. 39 (ol. A. 2. 15) (ix.).

P P. α3. Petersburg. Bibl. Roy. 225 (ix.). Palimpsest. 1 John 3:2 του.

אԠא. δ2. Codex Sinaiticus. Petersburg (iv.).

13 13 ( = 33gosp.). δ48. Paris. Bibl. Nat. Gr. 14 (ix.-x.).

Ψ̠δ6. Athos. Lawra 172 (β52) (viii.-ix.).

h. h. Fleury Palimpsest, ed. S. Berger, paris, 1889, and Buchanan, Old Latin Biblical Texts, Oxford (v.). 1Jn 1:8-20.

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Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on 3 John 1". International Critical Commentary NT. 1896-1924.