3 John Commentaries & Sermons

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Another Overview Chart - 3 John - Charles Swindoll
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HENRY ALFORD (1810-1871)
The New Testament for English Readers
3 John Commentary

(Read his fascinating brief biography - Henry Alford and Phil Johnson's related comments)

James Rosscup writes that Alford's series on the New Testament "contains much that is valuable in the Greek New Testament… though all of the Greek New Testament words have been changed to English throughout." (Commentaries for Biblical Expositors: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Works or Logos)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (see his comments in following entry on Alford).

Editorial Note: If you are not proficient in Greek, you will find this work considerably more useful than the following work by Alford, because in this volume he translates the Greek and Latin into English. While the "The Greek New Testament" (see next entry below) is longer (e.g., English version of 1John = 66 pages compared to Greek version = 94 pages in part because the latter includes comments of more technical nature), the substance of the commentary is otherwise similar to that found in the "NT for English Readers".

3 John Commentary

The Greek New Testament
3 John Commentary


Charles Haddon Spurgeon writes that this text "is an invaluable aid to the critical study of the text of the New Testament. You will find in it the ripened results of a matured scholarship, the harvesting of a judgment, generally highly impartial, always worthy of respect, which has gleaned from the most important fields of Biblical research, both modern and ancient, at home and abroad. You will not look here for any spirituality of thought or tenderness of feeling; you will find the learned Dean does not forget to do full justice to his own views, and is quite able to express himself vigorously against his opponents; but for what it professes to be, it is an exceedingly able and successful work. The later issues are by far the most desirable, as the author has considerably revised the work in the fourth edition. What I have said of his Greek Testament applies equally to Alford’s New Testament for English Readers,* which is also a standard work." (Spurgeon, C. H. Lectures to my Students, Vol. 4: Commenting and Commentaries; Lectures Addressed to the students of the Pastors' College, Metropolitan Tabernacle)

3 John 1 Commentary

Commentary on 3 John

James Rosscup writes that Barnes "includes 16 volumes on the Old Testament, 11 on the New Testament. The New Testament part of this old work was first published in 1832–1851. Various authors contributed. It is evangelical and amillennial… Often the explanations of verses are very worthwhile." (Commentaries for Biblical Expositors: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Works or Logos)

C H Spurgeon "Albert Barnes is a learned and able divine, but his productions are unequal in value, the gospels are of comparatively little worth, but his other comments are extremely useful for Sunday-school teachers and persons with a narrow range of reading, endowed with enough good sense to discriminate between good and evil… Placed by the side of the great masters, Barnes is a lesser light, but taking his work for what it is and professes to be, no minister can afford to be without it, and this is no small praise for works which were only intended for Sunday-school teachers." (Spurgeon, C. H. Lectures to my Students, Vol. 4: Commenting and Commentaries; Lectures Addressed to the students of the Pastors' College, Metropolitan Tabernacle)

3 John
Sermon Notes

Good illustrations

Commentary on 3 John
Gnomon of the New Testament

James Rosscup writes "This work (Gnomon), originally issued in 1742, has considerable comment on the Greek, flavoring the effort with judicious details about the spiritual life. It has much that helps, but has been surpassed by many other commentaries since its day." (Commentaries for Biblical Expositors: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Works or Logos)

The Critical English Testament
Commentary on Jude

Represents Combination of Bengel's Gnomon (above) and Comments
by more modern expositors (in brackets) to make this more usable for those who do not read Greek.

Spurgeon comments on the goal to make Bengel's Gnomon (listed above) more accessible -- "Such is the professed aim of this commentary, and the compilers have very fairly carried out their intentions. The whole of Bengel’s Gnomon is bodily transferred into the work, and as 120 years have elapsed since the first issue of that book, it may be supposed that much has since been added to the wealth of Scripture exposition; the substance of this has been incorporated in brackets, so as to bring it down to the present advanced state of knowledge. We strongly advise the purchase of this book, as it… will well repay an attentive perusal. Tischendorf and Alford have contributed largely… to make this one of the most lucid and concise commentaries on the text and teachings of the New Testament" (Spurgeon, C. H. Lectures to my Students, Vol. 4: Commenting and Commentaries; Lectures Addressed to the students of the Pastors' College, Metropolitan Tabernacle)


Resources that Reference 3 John
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Critical and Exegetical Commentary
3 John

3 John
Anecdotes, Illustrations, Exposition
Joseph Exell, Editor
25 pages of resources

Alfred Plummer
3 John

Commentary on 3 John

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3 John

3 John Commentary
William Alexander

3 John Commentary
David Smith

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Studies in 3 John

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More technical comments on Greek, etc

Devotional Illustrations
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3 John

3 John

Commentary on 3John

Commentary on 3John

Commentary on 3John
F C Cook


Commentary on 3 John

Word Studies in the New Testament
on 3John

Devotional Illustrations
from Radio Bible Class

3 John

IT'S one of the few places on earth where the air is as fresh and clean as it must have been millennia ago. Constant winds keep out pollution and germs, and the climate discourages the growth of native viruses.

It sounds like the healthiest place on earth. So why doesn't anyone want to live there? Because it's also the coldest place on earth. With temperatures that drop to minus 100 degrees Fahr­enheit, the South Pole is too frigid even for germs.

Some churches bear a striking resemblance to that sterile atmosphere. The truth of God is preached, Scriptures are metic­ulously quoted, and error has no chance to survive. But neither does life. The spiritual temperature is subzero, as evidenced by the cold shoulder given to the poor and needy (James 2:2-6). Those weak in the faith engage in icy arguments (Romans 14:1). Those who threaten to invade their comfortable cliques are left out in the cold (3 John 5-10). Unloved and unwelcomed, many people leave.

The church is to function as the body of Christ. As such, it should be warm, compassionate, and inviting. Our goal is not to keep out germs; it's to create an atmosphere where the spiritually sick can find healing. —M R De Haan II (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


3 John Climate Control

It's one of the few places on earth where the air is as fresh and clean as it must have been millennia ago. Constant winds keep out pollution and germs, and the climate discourages the growth of native viruses.

It sounds like the healthiest place on earth. So why doesn't anyone want to live there? Because it's just too cold. With temperatures that drop to -100¡ Fahrenheit, the South Pole is too frigid even for germs.

Some churches bear a striking resemblance to that sterile atmosphere. The truth of God is preached, Scriptures are meticulously quoted, and error has no chance to survive. But there is no corresponding obedience or love, and the spiritual temperature is sub-zero. The poor are given the cold shoulder (James 2:2-6). Those weak in the faith engage in icy arguments (Rom. 14:1). Brothers in Christ are left out in the cold because they pose a threat to comfortable cliques (3 John 5-10). Unloved and untouched, many people leave.

The church was formed by the redeeming love of Christ and is designed to be a warm and inviting fellowship! Our desire must not be merely to "keep out the germs," but to let the Lord create a climate where brothers and sisters can open their hearts to His soul-healing love. --M R De Haan II (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

The house of God should be a place
For praise and fervent prayer;
How sad when folks let small things break
Their sweet communion there!
--H G Bosch

The church should always be a warm shelter in a cold world.


3 John 4 The "Pistol" And The Lord
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. . --3 John 4

When it's my turn to pack school lunches, I write my kids' names on the bags. But on two of the lunches, I've been instructed to write "Pistol Pete." That's because Julie and Steven have become enamored with the memory of Pete Maravich, one of the greatest basketball players of all time. And I'm responsible for this because I've told them about the Pistol since they were little. They've watched his instructional videos, read his biography, and viewed his life story. So they both are Pistol Pete "wannabes."

That's okay with me. Children need good role models and examples. And Maravich was a Christian. But I would be disappointed if my children didn't see Jesus Christ modeled in my life also and want to be like Him. That's why when Stevie tells me that Jesus is his best friend, I'm a happy dad.

As parents, we must tell our children about Jesus and be role models who live for Christ. That was the case with Paul, who counted Timothy as his son in the Spirit (1Ti 1:18), and with John, who rejoiced over those whom he called his children (3Jn. 4).

Like them, let's live, talk, and love in a way that points everyone--especially our children--to Jesus. --J D Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Whatever you write on the heart of a child
Is written indelibly there;
Each action and word makes an impact, you know,
Like a kindness or beautiful prayer. --HGB

The greatest gift a parent can give is a worthy example.


3 John 4 The value of God's truth

The truth of God is a wonderful asset to a Christian. Joni Tada likened the value of God's truth to an experience in her childhood. She wrote,

"At four, I was too young to have my own horse, and I'm not sure a horse fit for a four-year-old could have kept up with my father and sisters. So when we went horseback riding, I sat behind my father on his big horse. With my tiny hands, I'd hang on to the back of his belt and away we'd go. I'd bounce up and down in the saddle, sliding this way and that, but as long as I had a strong hold on that belt, I knew I was safe."

God's truth is like that belt. It's strong and reassuring, and we can hold on to it amid the turns and bumps of life. He is our all-loving, all-powerful God, and He does not change. He will give us all the help we need. —D. C. Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)




3 John 9 - Diotrephes

Pastor H. A. Ironside had a man in his church who always tried to run the board meetings. If Ironside agreed with him, all went well. But when he disagreed, he would receive a harsh letter from the man, who sarcastically addressed him as “Dear Diotrephes.” Actually, the board member deserved the title, not Ironside, who was known for his graciousness.

In John’s third letter we read about Diotrephes, who wanted to be a boss in the early church. Overly ambitious and domineering, he opposed the apostle John and set himself up as a dictator over those in his spiritual care. Anyone who took exception to him was dismissed from the congregation.

The problem of bossy church leaders was not limited to the first century. A. T. Robertson wrote a magazine article in which he rebuked leaders who follow in the footsteps of Diotrephes. After it was published, he received letters from at least 25 different church leaders, demanding that their subscriptions to the magazine be canceled. Although Robertson had never met any of them, they all said in effect, “You have personally attacked me!”

A lust for power springs from pride and selfishness. In contrast, Jesus served in humility and obedience to His Father (Phil. 2:8). He must be our pattern.

3 John Resources
Illustrations, Devotionals

3 John 1-8 Today in the Word


3 John 3 The Vital Importance of Truth

“For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.” (C H Spurgeon)

The truth was in Gaius, and Gaius walked in the truth. If the first had not been the case, the second could never have occurred; and if the second could not be said of him the first would have been a mere pretence. Truth must enter into the soul, penetrate and saturate it, or else it is of no value. Doctrines held as a matter of creed are like bread in the hand, which ministers no nourishment to the frame; but doctrine accepted by the heart, is as food digested, which, by assimilation, sustains and builds up the body. In us truth must be a living force, an active energy, an indwelling reality, a part of the woof and warp of our being. If it be in us, we cannot henceforth part with it. A man may lose his garments or his limbs, but his inward parts are vital, and cannot be torn away without absolute loss of life. A Christian can die, but he cannot deny the truth. Now it is a rule of nature that the inward affects the outward, as light shines from the centre of the lantern through the glass: when, therefore, the truth is kindled within, its brightness soon beams forth in the outward life and conversation. It is said that the food of certain worms colours the cocoons of silk which they spin: and just so the nutriment upon which a man’s inward nature lives gives a tinge to every word and deed proceeding from him. To walk in the truth, imports a life of integrity, holiness, faithfulness, and simplicity—the natural product of those principles of truth which the gospel teaches, and which the Spirit of God enables us to receive. We may judge of the secrets of the soul by their manifestation in the man’s conversation. Be it ours to-day, O gracious Spirit, to be ruled and governed by thy divine authority, so that nothing false or sinful may reign in our hearts, lest it extend its malignant influence to our daily walk among men. (Spurgeon, C. H. Morning and Evening)


3 John 6 Worthily of God

If in his second letter John dealt specially with the subject of those to whom no hospitality should be extended, in this he commends hospitality, and shows what its nature should be. There were those who "for the sake of the Name went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles." These were to be received and welcomed, and "set forward on their journey worthily of God." Two interpretations have been given of this phrase. One is that these men were to be treated as the very messengers of God, and so worthily of that fact. The other is that those who tendered them hospitality were to do it as God would do it, "worthily of God." Most probably both views are correct, both ideas being involved. In harmony with the whole spirit of the letter the second is the more patent. What a pattern and test is here of hospitality! What kind of a host is God? How does He treat His guests? When we have answered those questions, we shall have discovered the nature of the hospitality we ought to extend to all those who go forth for the sake of the Name. To those who receive the hospitality of God, He gives of His best, He gives lavishly, He gives of pure delight. His concern is ever for the highest wellbeing of His guests. He opens His home to them; He spreads His table before them; He admits them to familiar converse with Himself; He places at their disposal all His knowledge, and all the riches of His grace. If we are to entertain "worthily of God" these are the lines upon which our hospitality must proceed. It is one of the things which constantly cheer and help those who go forth for the sake of the Name. (Morgan, G. Campbell)


3 John 7 - For the sake of the Name they went forth. (F B Meyer)

The beloved elder is anxious about some travelling evangelists, who had gone forth to visit the churches; and is commending them to the care of Gaius. He was to set them forward in a manner that should be worthy of God. This is a high standard for our entertainment of brethren and strangers withal. It would save us from niggardliness and stint, for God is never miserly or meager. It would equally save us from ostentation, since in God there is perfect simplicity. It would pervade our behaviour with the most perfect grace. But notice, in respect of these evangelists: —

Their motive. — “For the sake of the Name.” It is not needful to say whose Name. There is one Name above every name, in which whatever we do is to be done. To teach the meaning hidden in that Name; to unfold its sweetness and power; to exert its spell over souls that had never felt its magnetism; to glorify it and make it honored and beloved — this was their one thought and aim. Oh that we were animated by the same gracious motive!

Their delicacy. — They would take nothing of the Gentiles. It seemed to them incongruous to go for alms and maintenance to those who do not love their Lord. Besides, could not He maintain his own servants? They certainly would not have sanctioned the means that modern Christians adopt of getting money from the ungodly.

Their welcome. — We ought to welcome all such and in doing so we may be fellow-helpers with them and with the truth. It is a very beautiful act to link ourselves with God’s honored servants by prayer and sympathy, that we may be counted their fellow-helpers and companions. (Meyer, F B: Our Daily Homily)


3 John 7 The key to the missionary devotion (Oswald Chambers)
For His name’s sake they went forth. 3 John 7.

Our Lord has told us how love to Him is to manifest itself. “Lovest thou Me?” “Feed My sheep”—identify yourself with My interests in other people, not, identify Me with your interests in other people. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 gives the character of this love, it is the love of God expressing itself. The test of my love for Jesus is the practical one, all the rest is sentimental jargon.

Loyalty to Jesus Christ is the supernatural work of Redemption wrought in me by the Holy Ghost Who sheds abroad the love of God in my heart, and that love works efficaciously through me in contact with everyone I meet. I remain loyal to His name although every commonsense fact gives the lie to Him, and declares that He has no more power than a morning mist.

The key to missionary devotion means being attached to nothing and no one saving Our Lord Himself, not being detached from things externally. Our Lord was amazingly in and out among ordinary things; His detachment was on the inside towards God. External detachment is often an indication of a secret vital attachment to the things we keep away from externally. The loyalty of a missionary is to keep his soul concentratedly open to the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. The men and women Our Lord sends out on His enterprises are the ordinary human stuff, plus dominating devotion to Himself wrought by the Holy Ghost. (Chambers, O. My Utmost for His Highest)


3 John 9 Unity and the Spirit of Diotrephes (C H Spurgeon)

Now that we know that there is a unity of the Spirit worthy to be kept, I want to point out that it needs to be kept. It is a very difficult thing to maintain, for several reasons. First of all, our sins would, very naturally, break it. If we were all angels, we would keep the unity of the Spirit and not even need the exhortation to do so. But, alas, we are proud, and pride is the mother of division. Diotrephes, who loves to have preeminence (3 John 1:9), is very sure to head a faction. How envy, too, has separated good friends! When I cannot be satisfied with anything that is not hammered on my workbench, when another man’s candle grieves me because it gives more light than mine, and when another man troubles me because he has more grace than I have—oh, there is no unity in this case. Anger—what a deadly foe that is to unity! When we cannot overlook the smallest disrespect, when the slightest thing turns our faces red, when we speak unadvisedly with our lips—surely then there is no unity. But, I do not need to read the long list of sins that spoil the unity of the Spirit, for it is lengthy. Oh, may God cast them out of us, for only then can we keep the unity of the Spirit. (Power in the Blood)


3 John 9 Three D's (Vance Havner)
In the New Testament family album three men whose names begin with the same letter stand out as typical of three kinds of Christians today. The Scripture account of them all is very brief, but a little window lets in much light and from the meager record we immediately recognize that their kind has not yet disappeared from the earth.

1. There was Demas, who forsook Paul, having loved this present world (2 Tim. 4:10). Doubtless he had started out in dead earnest, maybe with plenty of fire, but the pull of the old life and the charm of the world were too much for him.

2. Then, there was Diotrephes, who loved the preeminence (3 John 9)… His sort is still with us in the minister who bosses instead of shepherds his flock; in ecclesiastical overlords who reject all visiting brethren who do not measure up to their private yardstick; in any and all who want to rule instead of serve.

3. How refreshing it is to move from these two troublesome souls to Demetrius, who loved the truth (3 John 12). Whether or not he was the Ephesian silversmith, now converted, he had good report of all and of the truth and of John; and his sort is altogether too rare today. He was no celebrity, but we could profitably exchange some of our striking personalities for more of his kind. What would the church do today without his quiet, faithful, steadying testimony?

God help us in such a time to choose the Demetrius way of good report and not the Diotrephes way of loud report! (Vance Havner)


3 John 9-15
The third epistle of John addresses the problem of overly ambitious and domineering church leaders. But this problem was certainly not limited to the first century. Bible scholar A. T. Robertson wrote a magazine article that rebuked leaders who follow in the footsteps of Diotrephes (3 John 9). After it was published, he got numerous letters from church leaders, demanding that their subscriptions be canceled. Although Robertson had never met any of them and had not used any names, they all felt that he had attacked them personally! (Today in the Word)



DISCLAIMER: Before you "go to the commentaries" go to the Scriptures and study them inductively (Click 3 part overview of how to do Inductive Bible Study) in dependence on your Teacher, the Holy Spirit, Who Jesus promised would guide us into all the truth (John 16:13). Remember that Scripture is always the best commentary on Scripture. Any commentary, even those by the most conservative and orthodox teacher/preachers cannot help but have at least some bias of the expositor based upon his training and experience. Therefore the inclusion of specific links does not indicate that we agree with every comment. We have made a sincere effort to select only the most conservative, "bibliocentric" commentaries. Should you discover some commentary or sermon you feel may not be orthodox, please email your concern. I have removed several links in response to concerns by discerning readers. I recommend that your priority be a steady intake of solid Biblical food so that with practice you will have your spiritual senses trained to discern good from evil (Heb 5:14-note).