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Love in Action

From the elder[a] to my dearly loved brother Gaius,[b] whom I truly love:[c]

Beloved friend, I pray that you are prospering in every way[d] and that you continually enjoy good health, just as your soul is prospering.[e]

I was filled with joy and delight when the brothers arrived and informed me of your faithfulness to the truth. They told me how you live continually in the truth of Christ.[f] It is the greatest joy of my life to hear that my children are consistently living their lives in the ways of truth!

Financially Supporting Missionaries

My beloved friend, I commend you for your demonstration of faithful love by all that you have done for the brothers on their journey, even though they were strangers at the time.[g] They have shared publicly with the congregation[h] about the beautiful acts of love you have shown them.[i] Now, if you would be so kind, send them on their way with a generous gift, in a manner that would honor God.[j] You see, it was their passion for the glory of the name of Christ that launched them out, and they’ve not accepted financial support from unbelievers.[k] They are deserving of all the support we can give them, because through our giving we can partner with them for the truth.[l]

Domineering Diotrephes

I have already written you once about this,[m] but Diotrephes,[n] who loves to be in charge and recognized as first among you, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will address what he’s doing—spreading his malicious slander against us.[o] And not content with that, he refuses to welcome our brothers,[p] and he stands in the way of those who want to receive them and show them hospitality by throwing them out of the church!

11 Delightfully loved ones, don’t imitate what is evil, but imitate that which is good.[q] Whoever does good is of God; whoever does evil has not seen God.[r]

Devoted Demetrius

12 As for Demetrius, everyone speaks very highly of him,[s] and even the truth itself stands by his side. We too wholeheartedly endorse him, and you know that our recommendation is reliable.

13 Although I have many more subjects I’d like to discuss with you, I’d rather not include them in this letter.[t] 14 Instead, I hope to visit you and speak with you face-to-face.[u]

15 Peace to you, my friend. Your friends here send their loving greetings to you. Please greet each one of our friends there by name.


  1. 3 John 1:1 Or “presbyter.” This was obviously a self-designated term for the apostle John. He was an elder because of being the only living apostle who was chosen by Jesus.
  2. 3 John 1:1 Gaius was a convert of John’s and a close friend who likely had a leadership position in the church (location not given). Church tradition states that he was one of the seventy whom Jesus sent out and was later ordained by John as the bishop of Pergamum. See Apostolic Constitutions (7.46.9; Funk 1, 454). However, there was also a Gaius who became the bishop of Ephesus. There are four mentions of Gaius in the New Testament, although it is unlikely that they were the same person (Acts 19:29; Rom. 16:23; 1 Cor. 1:14). The name Gaius means “joyful or happy.” The Latin form of Gaius can be translated “lord.”
  3. 3 John 1:1 Or “continually love in truth” (reality).
  4. 3 John 1:2 The Greek word eudōomai means “to be brought along to a smooth and prosperous journey” or “to be continually prospered [unto success] in every way.” The Aramaic can be translated “as much as succeeds you.” See Josh. 1:8.
  5. 3 John 1:2 John is praying that Gaius’ physical health would match his spiritual health. God is concerned for both our physical health (he gave our bodies an immune system) and our souls (emotional and spiritual well-being). If physical health and soul “prosperity” were not the will of God, why would John pray that for Gaius?
  6. 3 John 1:3 Although the words Jesus, or Christ, do not appear anywhere in the text of 3 John, they are clearly implied.
  7. 3 John 1:5 These are traveling missionaries and itinerant speakers who were shown hospitality by Gaius. True hospitality is a lost art in some churches today and needs to be valued anew.
  8. 3 John 1:6 This would likely have been the church where John was ministering (Ephesus, Pergamum, or another unnamed location).
  9. 3 John 1:6 As translated from the Aramaic.
  10. 3 John 1:6 Or “equal to God’s value of them.” Apparently, these missionaries had reported to John, returned to the area where Gaius was living, and then continued on with their missionary journey. The Aramaic is quite different: “You outfitted them like a plank billboard for God”; that is, “The gifts you gave them made them an advertisement for God.”
  11. 3 John 1:7 Or “from the gentiles.”
  12. 3 John 1:8 By giving to those who preach the gospel and nurture the people of God, we are partnering with them in their ministry.
  13. 3 John 1:9 This refers to a lost letter, possibly destroyed by Diotrephes. So the letter we now have is actually 4 John.
  14. 3 John 1:9 Diotrephes was most likely an elder in the congregation who saw himself as the most important one, pushing himself forward with a controlling leadership style. He refused the apostolic authority of John and would not accept guest speakers who may have been sent by John. His name means “nourished by Jupiter.” Leaders must view other leaders not as threats but as coworkers. Love is not controlling or tyrannical. It is clear in the New Testament that the local church must have God-appointed ministry in the congregation from pastors, prophets, teachers, evangelists, and apostles (Eph. 4:11). Additionally, there were itinerant ministers that—if proven authentic—were to be received by the local church authorities and given both opportunities to minister and generous gifts to send them on their way.
  15. 3 John 1:10 Or “with evil words talking nonsense about us.”
  16. 3 John 1:10 These would be the itinerant ministers, missionaries who visited their assembly to minister in the region.
  17. 3 John 1:11 The Aramaic gives an entirely different slant to this verse. It can be translated “Beloved, don’t treat him with malice but with blessing” (good deeds).
  18. 3 John 1:11 This last clause is asyndetic in order to add emphasis.
  19. 3 John 1:12 It is possible that Demetrius was one of the “brothers” (v. 3) who was now coming to visit the church and that he was the one who carried this letter to Gaius. This letter served the purpose of being a “letter of recommendation” of Demetrius and his ministry.
  20. 3 John 1:13 Or “I’d rather not write with ink [pen] and paper.”
  21. 3 John 1:14 The Aramaic can be translated “mouth to mouth.”