on 3-john 1 :14
Peace be to thee - Mayest thou possess every requisite good, both of a spiritual and temporal kind.
Our friends salute thee - Desire to be affectionately remembered to thee. Greet the friends by name - remember me to all those with whom I am acquainted, as if I had specified them by name. This is a proof to me that this epistle was not sent to Corinth, where it is not likely John ever was; and where it is not likely he had any particular acquaintances, unless we could suppose he had seen some of them when he was an exile in Patmos, an island in the Aegean Sea.
For other particulars concerning John, the reader is requested to refer to the preface to his gospel.
Instead of φιλοι and φιλους, friends, the Codex Alexandrinus and several others read αδελφοι and αδελφους, brethren. The former (friends) is a very singular appellation, and nowhere else found in Scripture; the latter is of frequent occurrence.
Subscriptions in the Versions: -
In the ancient Syriac. - Nothing.
The Third Epistle of John the apostle is ended. - Syriac Philoxenian.
Aethiopic. - Nothing.
Vulgate. - Nothing.
The end of the epistles of the pure Apostle and Evangelist John. - Arabic.
The Third Epistle of St. John the apostle is ended. - Latin text of the Complutensian.
The end of the Third catholic Epistle of St John. - Ditto, Greek text.
Subscriptions in the Manuscripts: -
The third of John. - Codd. Alex. and Vatican.
on 3-john 1 :14
But I trust I shall shortly see thee ... - Notes at 2 John 1:12.
Our friends salute thee - That is, your friends and mine. This would seem rather to refer to private friends of John and Gaius than to Christians as such. They had, doubtless, their warm personal friends in both places.
Greet the friends by name - That is, each one individually. He remembered them as individuals, but did not deem it proper to specify them.
Practical Remarks On 3John
(1) It is proper to desire for our friends all temporal good; to wish their happiness in every respect, 3 John 1:2. The welfare of the soul is indeed the great object, and the first desire in regard to a friend should be that his salvation may be secured; but in connection with that we may properly wish them health of body, and success in their lawful undertakings. It is not common that in their spiritual interests they are so much more prosperous than they are in other respects, that we can make that the standard of our wishes in regard to them, but it sometimes does occur, as in the case of Gaius. In such cases we may indeed rejoice with a friend, and feel that all will be well with him. But in how few cases, even among professed Christians, can we (with propriety) make the prosperity of the soul the standard by which to measure the happiness which we desire for them in other respects! Doddridge says, "What a curse would this bring upon many to wish that they might prosper even as their souls prospered!" Of how much property would they at once be deprived; how embarrassed would be their affairs; how pale, and wan, and sickly would they be, if they should be in all respects as they are in their spiritual interests!
(2) it is an unspeakable pleasure to a Christian to learn that his friends are living and acting as becomes sincere Christians; that they love what is true, and abound in the duties of hospitality charity, and benevolence, 3 John 1:3-6. When a friend learns this of a distant friend; when a pastor learns this of his people from whom be may be for a time separated; when those who have been instrumental in converting others learn this of their spiritual children; when a parent learns it of a son or daughter separated from him; when a teacher learns it of those who were formerly under his care, there is no joy that goes more directly to the heart than this - nothing that fills the soul with more true thankfulness and peace.
(3) it is the duty and the privilege of those who love the cause of religion to go and preach the gospel to those who are destitute, expecting to receive nothing from them, and doing it as a work of pure benevolence, 3 John 1:7. The missionary spirit existed early in the Christian church, and indeed may be regarded as the "prevailing" spirit in those times. It has always been the prevailing spirit when religion has flourished in the church. At such times there have been many who were willing to leave their own quiet homes, and the religious privileges connected with a well-organized church, and to break away from the ties which bind to country and kindred, and to go among a distant people to publish salvation. In this cause, and with this spirit, the apostles spent their lives. In this cause, the "brethren" referred to by John went forth to labor. In this cause, thousands have labored in former times, and to the fact that they were "willing" to do it is to be traced all the happy influence of religion in the world. Our own religious privileges now we owe to the fact that in former times there were those who were willing to "go forth taking nothing of the Gentiles," devoting themselves, without hope of reward or fame, to the business of making known the name of the Saviour in what were then the dark places of the earth. The same principle is acted on now in Christian missions, and with the same propriety; and as we in Christian lands owe the blessings which we enjoy to the fact that in former times there were those who were willing thus to go forth, so it will be true that the richest blessings which are to descend upon India, and Africa, and the islands of the sea, will be traced in future times to the fact that there are in our age those who are willing to follow the example of the apostles in going forth to do good to a dying world.
(4) it is our duty to contribute to the support of those who thus go among the pagan, and to help them in every way in which we can promote the object which they have in view. So John felt it to be the duty of the church in regard to those who went forth in his time; and so, when the church, under the influence of Diotrephes, had refused to do it, he commended Gaius for performing that duty, 3 John 1:6, 3 John 1:8. Now, as then, from the nature of the case, missionaries to the pagan must go "taking nothing" of those among whom they labor, and expecting that, for a long time at least, they will do nothing for their support. They go as strangers. They go to those who do not believe the truth of the gospel; who are attached to their own superstitions; who contribute largely to the support of their own temples, and altars, and priesthood; who are, as yet, incapable of appreciating the value of a purer religion; who have no desire for it, and who are disposed to reject it. In many cases, the pagan to whom the missionary goes are miserably poor, and it is only this religion, which as yet they are not disposed to receive, that can elevate them to habits of industry, and furnish them with the means of supporting religious teachers from abroad. Under these circumstances, no duty is more obvious than that of contributing to the support of those who go to such places as Christian missionaries. If the churches value the gospel enough to send their brethren among the pagan to propagate it. they should value it enough to minister to their needs while there; if they regard it as the duty of any of their number to leave their comfortable homes in a Christian land in order to preach to the pagan, they should feel that those who go make far greater sacrifices than those who contribute to their support. they give up all; we give only the small sum, not diminishing our own comforts, which is necessary to sustain them.
(5) for the same reason it is our duty to contribute to the support of missionaries in the destitute places of our own land, 3 John 1:8. They often go among a people who are as destitute, and who will as little appreciate the gospel, and who are as much prejudiced against it, and who are as poor, as the pagan. They are as likely to be charged with being actuated by mercenary motives, if they ask for support, as missionaries among the pagan are. They often go among people as little able and disposed to build churches and school-houses as the pagan are. Nothing is more obvious, therefore, than that those who have the gospel, and who have learned to prize and value it in some measure is it should be, should contribute to the support of those who go to convey its blessings to others, until those to whom they go shall so learn to prize it as to be able and willing to maintain it. That, under a faithful ministry, and with the Divine blessing, will not be long; always for the gospel, when it secures a hold in a community, makes men feel that it confers infinitely more blessings than it takes away, and that, even in a pecuniary point of view, it contributes more by far than it takes. What community is more prospered, or is more rich in all that promotes the temporal welfare of man, than that where the gospel has the most decided influence?
(6) we may see from this Epistle that churches "ought" to be united in promoting the cause of religion, 3 John 1:8-9. They should regard it as a common cause in which one has as much concern as another, and where each should feel it a privilege to cooperate with his brethren. One church, in proportion to its ability, has as much interest in the spread of Christianity as another, and should feel that it has much responsibility in doing it. Between different churches there should be that measure of confidence and love that they will deem it a privilege to help each other in the common cause, and that one shall be ready to further the benevolent designs undertaken by another. In every Christian land, and among the people of every Christian denomination, missionaries of the gospel should find friends who will be willing to cooperate with them in advancing the common cause, and who, though they may bear a different name, and may speak a different language, should cheerfully lend their aid in spreading the common Christianity.
(7) we may see, from this Epistle, the evil of having one troublesome man in the church, 3 John 1:10. Such a man, by his talents, his address, his superior learning, his wealth, or by his arrogance, pride, and self-confidence, may control a church, and effectually hinder its promoting the work of religion. The church referred to by the apostle would have done its duty well enough, if it had not been for one ambitious and worldly man. No one can properly estimate the evil which one such man can do, nor the calamity which comes upon a church when such a man places himself at its head. As a man of wealth, of talents, and of learning, may do great good, if his heart is right, so may a man similarly endowed do proportionate evil if his heart is wicked. Yet how often has the spirit which actuated Diotrephes prevailed in the church! There is nothing that confers so much power on men as the control in religious matters; and hence, in all ages, proud and ambitious men have sought dominion over the conscience, and have sought to bring the sentiments of people on religion to subjection to their will.
(8) there may be circumstances where it is proper - where it is a duty - to receive those who have been cast out of the church, 3 John 1:8. The decisions of a church, under some proud and ambitious partisan leader, are often eminently unjust and harsh. The most modest, humble, devoted, and zealous men, under a charge of heresy, or of some slight aberration from the formulas of doctrine, may be cast out as unworthy to be recognized as ministers of the gospel, or even as unworthy to have a place at the table of the Lord. Some of the best men on earth have been thus disowned by the church; and it is no certain evidence against a man when he is denounced as a heretic, or disowned as a member, by those who bear the Christian name. If we are satisfied that a man is a Christian, we should receive him as such, however he may be regarded by others; nor should we hesitate to help him forward in his Christian course, or in any way to assist him to do good.
(9) finally, let us learn from the examples commended in this brief Epistle, to do good. Let us follow the example of Gaius - the hospitable Christian; the large-hearted philanthropist; the friend of the stranger; the helper of those who were engaged in the cause of the Lord - a man who opened his heart and his house to welcome them when driven out and disowned by others. Let us imitate Demetrius, in obtaining a good report of those who know us; in so living that, if the aged apostle John were still on earth, we might be worthy of his commendation, and more than all, of the approbation of that gracious Saviour before whom these good men have long since gone, and in whose presence we also must soon appear.
on 3-john 1 :14
1:14 Salute the friends by name - That is, in the same manner as if I had named them one by one. The word friend does not often occur in the New Testament, being swallowed up in the more endearing one of brother.