In these verses we have,
I. The good report that the apostle had received concerning this friend of his: The brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee (3 John 1:3), who have borne witness of thy charity before the church, 3 John 1:6. Here we may see, 1. The testimony or thing testified concerning Gaius—the truth that was in him, the reality of his faith, the sincerity of his religion, and his devotedness to God; and this evinced by his charity, which includes his love to the brethren, kindness to the poor, hospitality to Christian strangers, and readiness to accommodate them for the service of the gospel. Faith should work by love; it gives a lustre in and by the offices of love, and induces others to commend its integrity. 2. The witnesses-brethren that came from Gaius testified and bore witness. A good report is due from those who have received good; though a good name is but a small reward for costly service, yet it is better than precious ointment, and will not be refused by the ingenuous and religious. 3. The auditory or judicatory before which the report and testimony were given—before the church. This seems to be the church at which the apostle now resided. What church this was we are not sure; what occasion they had thus to testify his faith and love before the church we cannot tell; possibly out of the fulness of the heart the mouth spoke; they could not but testify what they found and felt; possibly they would engage the church’s prayer for the continued life and usefulness of such a patron, that he might prosper and be in health as his soul prospered.
II. The report the apostle himself gives of him, introduced by an endearing appellation again: Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers, 3 John 1:5. 1. He was hospitable, good to the brethren, even to strangers; it was enough to recommend them to Gaius’s house that they belonged to Christ. Or he was good to the brethren of the same church with himself, and to those who came from far; all who were of the household of faith were welcome to him. 2. He seems to have been of a catholic spirit; he could overlook the petty differences among serious Christians, and be communicative to all who bore the image and did the work of Christ. And, 3. He was conscientious in what he did: “Thou doest faithfully (thou makest faithful work of) whatsoever thou doest; thou doest it as a faithful servant, and from the Lord Christ mayest thou expect the reward of the inheritance.” Such faithful souls can hear their own praises without being puffed up; the commendation of what is good in us is designed, not for our pride, but for our encouragement to continue therein, and should be accordingly improved.
III. The apostle’s joy therein, in the good report itself, and the good ground of it: I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came and testified, etc., 3 John 1:3. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth, in the prescripts of the Christian religion. The best evidence of our having the truth is our walking in the truth. Good men will greatly rejoice in the soul-prosperity of others; and they are glad to hear of the grace and goodness of others. They glorified God in me. Love envieth not, but rejoiceth in the good name of other folks. As it is joy to good parents, it will be joy to good ministers, to see their children evidence their sincerity in religion, and adorn their profession.
IV. The direction the apostle gives his friend concerning further treatment of the brethren that were with him: Whom if thou bring forward on their journey, after a godly sort, thou shalt do well. It seems to have been customary in those days of love to attend travelling ministers and Christians, at least some part of their road, 1 Cor. 16:6. It is a kindness to a stranger to be guided in his way, and a pleasure to travellers to meet with suitable company: this is a work that may be done after a godly sort, in a manner worthy of God, or suitable to the deference and relation we bear to God. Christians should consider not only what they must do, but what they may do, what they may most honourably and laudably do: the liberal mind deviseth liberal generous things. Christians should do even the common actions of life and of good-will after a godly sort, as serving God therein, and designing his glory.
V. The reasons of this directed conduct; these are two:—1. Because that for his name’s sake these brethren went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. It appears thus that these were ministerial brethren, that they went forth to preach the gospel and propagate Christianity; possibly they might be sent out by this apostle himself: they went forth to convert the Gentiles; this was excellent service: they went forth for God and his name’s sake; this is the minister’s highest end, and should be his principal spring and motive, to gather and to build up a people for his name: they went forth also to carry a free gospel about with them, to publish it without charge wherever they came: Taking nothing of the Gentiles. These were worthy of double honour. There are those who are not called to preach the gospel themselves who may yet contribute to the progress of it. The gospel should be made without charge to those to whom it is first preached. Those who know it not cannot be expected to value it; churches and Christian patriots ought to concur to support the propagation of holy religion in the pagan countries; public spirits should concur according to their several capacities; those who are freely communicative of Christ’s gospel should be assisted by those who are communicative of their purses. 2. We ought therefore to receive such, that we may be fellow-helpers to the truth, to true religion. The institution of Christ is the true religion; it has been attested by God. Those that are true in it and true to it will earnestly desire, and pray for, and contribute to, its propagation in the world. In many ways may the truth be befriended and assisted; those who cannot themselves proclaim it may yet receive, accompany, help, and countenance those who do.