Studies in 3 John Part 2: An Exposition of 3 John 5-10 -- By: D. Edmond Hiebert

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 144:574 (Apr 1987)
Article: Studies in 3 John Part 2: An Exposition of 3 John 5-10
Author: D. Edmond Hiebert


Studies in 3 John
Part 2:
An Exposition of 3 John 5-10

D. Edmond Hiebert

Professor Emeritus of New Testament
Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, Fresno, California

Following the laudatory epistolary introduction (vv. 1–4), the elder launched into the main purpose of his letter to Gaius. The body of the letter (vv. 5-12) deals with four matters, all directly involving the recipient. Verses 5–8 present the obligation to support the missionaries of the gospel; verses 9-10 condemn the hostile activities of domineering Diotrephes; verse 11 lovingly points out the personal lesson for Gaius; and verse 12 is a commendation of Demetrius, apparently the bearer of the present letter.

Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they bear witness to your love before the church; and you will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, that we may be fellow-workers with the truth.
I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, neither does he himself receive the brethren, and he forbids those who desire to do so, and puts them out of the church (3 John 5-l0).

The Obligation to Support the Missionaries

In turning to the immediate occasion for this letter, the elder again addressed Gaius as “beloved” (ἀγαπητέ), the third use of this warm epithet in the first five verses. Stimulated by the reports just mentioned (v. 3), John’s heart was aglow with love for this lovable man. His words in verses 5–8 naturally grew out of those reports. He commended Gaius for his services to the missionaries (vv. 5–6a), indicated the nature of the service desired on their behalf (v. 6b), and explained the missionary obligation of fellow Christians toward such workers (vv. 7–8)...

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