Not Walking in Truth - 3 John 1:9-10

Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on 3 John 1:9-12

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Not Walking in Truth - 3 John 1:9-10

Negative Contrast. This is the most critical point of the epistle. John sees a problem in the church (v. 9). It is possible John is worried that Diotrephes will deny what John wrote in his other letters. Diotrephes will lead the church astray if he tells the people to go against John’s leadership. So, John handles this difficult situation here, warning Gaius what lies ahead

Who loves to be first - 3 John 1:9

who loves to be first among them. This phrase could mean Diotrephes was not elected as an elder or deacon, but took power for himself. It might just mean John views him has a trumped-up dictator. It is also possible that Diotrephes did not allow anyone else to speak or teach in the church, wanting the community to only listen to him. There is no historical record of Diotrephes ever being charged with heresy, so it is likely that John is talking about how he did not allow anyone else to teach but him. Diotrephes is insecure, so he lusts for power. This kind of person does not accept the authority of the apostles. By not receiving the people that John sent, Diotrephes disrespected John as well. To receive people who are sent is the same as receiving the one who sent them (see notes on Jn. 5:23; 12:44-45; 13:20; 14:24)

Wicked nonsense - 3 John 1:10

wicked nonsense… refuses to welcome… stops… puts them out. On the arrival of an apostle, see notes on 2 Cor. 13:1-3, 10. See WLC 151. John names four specific things that Diotrephes is doing. He is spreading gossip about John and his community (see note on 1 Tim. 5:13). He refuses to welcome travelling missionaries endorsed by the apostles. He stops other people who want to welcome those missionaries (see notes on vv. 5-8). And if anyone does welcome those missionaries, Diotrephes throws them out of the church. This last point is very serious.
In 2 John, John warned his readers not to be hospitable to the opponents. But he did not threaten to excommunicate them if they did

Exhorting Hospitality - 3 John 1:11-12

John commends Gaius’ right behavior and right belief. It is clear that Gaius knows God (v. 11). John wants him to keep doing what he has been doing. John also commends Demetrius, talking about how trustworthy he is (v. 12)

Doing good - 3 John 1:11

imitate… does good… does evil. This is related to what John says elsewhere, that doing right is the mark of those who are from God (see notes on 1 Jn. 3:7-10). However, doing right and doing good are not the same thing. In 1 John, doing right has to do with obeying God’s commands, the opposite of sinning or lawlessness. In 3 John, doing good has to do with giving hospitality. In this context, doing good is providing hospitality to the travelling missionaries, and doing evil is failing to take care of the missionaries.

Demetrius - 3 John 1:12

Demetrius… testimony. See WLC 144; WSC 77. This is a recommendation for Demetrius from John and the rest of his churches. For more on letters of recommendation, see note on 2 Cor. 3:1. The case here may be that no one in Diotrephes’ house church will help Demetrius, so John is asking Gaius to take care of him. In Paul’s case, there were sometimes fake letters that had to be uncovered (see note on 2 Thess. 2:2). Not only this, but letter carriers sometimes had to explain Paul’s letters. It is possible that Demetrius is going to play this role for John, so John gives Gaius reasons to listen to him. The local church has endorsed Demetrius (see notes on Acts 6:3; 10:22; 16:2; 22:12; Heb. 11:2, 4, 5, 39). He is also endorsed by the truth itself and by the apostles (see notes on Jn. 19:35; 21:24)

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