The Epistles of John, verse-by-verse
Session 22 | 3 John 9-14
3 John 9-12 | A Contrast In Character
Verse 9 -
The author speaks of that which he wrote unto the church“Fourth John."
The church, as I am interpreting it, is an assembly of Jewish believers (see notes on v. 6). Of course, the behavior of Diotrephes is not unique to any assembly of men.
The problem with Diotrephes is that he loveth to have the preeminence among them, and this love caused him to reject the elder (v. 1). We know nothing more about Diotrephes, nor the situation at hand, than what we read here.
Verse 10 —
It is clear that the elder“roadblock" work of Diotrephes in this epistle, but implies that he will call him out (I will remember his deeds) if he is able to come.
The stinging words of condemnation are some of the strongest in the Bible. Diotrephes is accused of two activities:
First, prating against us with malicious words. This is the only time the Greek word translated prating is used in the Scripture. the English word prating“talk excessively." This particular prating was with malicious words, that is, words of evil intent and almost undoubtedly false.
Second, he does not receive the brethren and further forbiddeth them that would even going so far as to kick them out of the church.
A few words about the second charge. The term, the brethren appear to be fellow believers but could be leadership or even apostolic brethren. The author uses the term in a way that looks specific, but nothing in Scripture defines the specificity. Furthermore, Diotrephes somehow would stop those who desired to receive the brethren and would even cast them out of the church. This man appears to be completely out of order. As far as we are able to tell (though information is scant), ancient Jewish assemblies and ancient assemblies of the Body of Christ were never organized in such a way that a single member could determine the behavior and membership requirements for the members.
“don't rock the boat" attitude in order to love one another (1 Jn. 3:11, 23, 4:7, 11, 12, 2 Jn. 5) is not what the author had in mind. Sometimes love one another means protect one another or discipline one another, etc.
On a note of incidental application for believers today, we should recognize that everyone may not be interested in our favorite issues, nor us in theirs. This is acceptable in a fellowship, and we do not have to insist on uniformity of passions.
Verse 11 --
On a general note of application, Gaius is instructed to follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. Then the author clarifies that, as we might say, the proof is in the pudding.
Verse 12 --
In contrast to Diotrephes we are now introduced to Demetrius who hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself. Whoever this man Demetrius was, he certainly had a sterling reputation. Was he one cast out of the church by Diotrephes? Was he one that stood and opposed Diotrephes? Or was he unrelated to the Diotrephes event? We will not know this side of heaven, but we can certainly desire to have such a reputation.
To this the author says we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true. The interesting matter is the personal pronoun. Until now, throughout 1, 2, and 3 there was no indication of plural authorship. John 21:24 includes a pronoun switch from first person singular (I) to first person plural (we) which is also shrouded in mystery, but could be a reference to the general audience. So who is this we in reference to? We cannot take it as inclusive of the audience because of the mention of ye (second person plural). The best guess is that the brethren mentioned in verse 10 and verse 3 is likely a reference to some inner-circle of leadership such as apostles or other dignitaries of the faith. Though they are not writing a joint communique the elder (v. 1) can include them in his remarks.
3 John 13-14 | Closing Remarks
Verse 13 --
As in 2 John 12, the author prefers not to write some information with ink and pen.
Though it has no immediate theological bearing, one wonders why all of the modern translations (including NKJV) chose to change the word order of ink and pen to pen and ink. While our modern language does tend to use the phrase pen and ink more than ink and pen suspicious of translators who seem so determined to put their own mark on a translation.
Verse 14 -
Since he will not write, he hopes to soon speak face to face (as in 2 John 12, literally mouth to mouth).
The author closes saying, Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name. Who are these friends? It is interesting that the only person in the Bible said to be Our friend“followers of Lazarus?" Clearly it is much speculation, but in light of the potential of Lazarus as an author, it is intriguing. John 15:14 defines the friends of Jesus as those who do whatsoever I command you. Since these friends are to be greeted by name it seems apparent that a specific group of people is in mind.