Encourage those who do good work

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Book of 3 John


Ian Mackervoy

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


About this letter

1 The writer

The author of this letter was the *apostle John. He also wrote 1 John and 2 John. He called himself Ďthe *elderí when he wrote to his friend Gaius. An *elder was a man who was a leader in the church. Each church had its own leaders. The *apostles were the leaders of the whole church. So, John wrote as the *elder to Gaius.

2 The reason for the letter

John had written a letter to the church where Diotrephes was a leader. In that letter, John had told the church about some men who were coming to teach. He wanted the church to help them. But the church had not received the letter. Perhaps Diotrephes had kept or destroyed that letter. Diotrephes would not help the teachers. He also did not allow other church members to help them.

Gaius was a friend of John. In the past, Gaius had been kind to the travellers who came to teach. They stayed in his home while they taught in his town. Afterwards they told their own churches how good Gaius had been.

3 The purpose of the letter

John now wrote to ask Gaius to continue this good work. He told Gaius that this is right. We should help Christian teachers who come to us. As we help them, we are workers with them. And we join in with their good work. But the behaviour of Diotrephes was bad.

Then John told Gaius that Demetrius was a good man. Perhaps Demetrius brought this letter to Gaius. Demetrius might also be one of the teachers that John sent to that place.

Contents of the letter of 3 John


†From the leader to Gaius

verses 1-4


Continue in the good work

verses 5-8


Problems with Diotrephes

verses 9-10


Copy good men in the way that you live

verses 11-12


Last words

verses 13-14

1. From the leader to Gaius (3 John verses 1-4)

v1 From the *elder.

To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love because of the *truth.

v2 My dear friend, I pray that everything may go well for you. I ask that you may be in good health. I want your health to be as good as is your life with God. v3 I was so happy when some Christians came to me. They told me about you. They told us that you are loyal to the *truth. And they told us how you live for God. v4 It gives me great joy to hear such news about my children. I am happy when they live in the *truth.

Verse 1 This is a personal letter from John to his dear friend called Gaius. John wrote as the *elder (that is, a leader of the church). The Christians loved Gaius like a brother in the *Lord. And John loved Gaius because Gaius was true to the *Lord Jesus.

Gaius was a common name. We do not know who he was. Perhaps he was a member of the church where Diotrephes was a leader. It is clear that the Christians in his local church respected Gaius. Gaius would have been a leader in his church. If he were not a leader, John would not have written to Gaius about Diotrephes.

Verse 2 John prayed to God for his dear friend. John wanted all things to go well for Gaius. He wanted the best for his friend. He prayed that Gaius would have good health. This does not mean that Gaius was sick. It was a normal greeting to wish good health.

Gaius was a good Christian man. His inner life was healthy. He was alive with God in his spirit. Gaius knew and loved the *Lord. And Gaius lived daily with God. John prayed that Gaius would also be healthy in his body.

Verse 3 There were Christians who travelled to the churches to teach. John may have sent these Christians on their journeys. They may even have stayed in Gaiusís house. When they returned to John they told him about Gaius.

What these Christians said made John happy. They told him what he already knew about Gaius. But to hear their report gave John much joy.

These Christians told John that Gaius was loyal to the *truth of the *gospel. He lived in the *truth. His life showed that he believed the *Lord Jesus Christ. Gaius was living as a real Christian should live.

Verse 4 In fact, Gaius was not Johnís child. But John described Gaius as if Gaius was Johnís own child. Maybe John led Gaius to believe in the *Lord Jesus. Nothing gave John more pleasure than when his children were living in the *truth. To live in the *truth is more than to agree with it. It means to allow the *truth to affect every part of the life. The *truth is that Jesus Christ is *Lord. To live in that *truth is to live as God wants us to live.

As an *elder, John cared for many Christians. He saw himself as a father to them. They seemed to him like his children. Many of these people became Christians because of Johnís work.

2. Continue in the good work (3 John verses 5-8)

v5 My dear friend, you are so loyal in the work that you do for other Christians. You help them even if they are strangers to you. v6 Some of these have spoken about your love in the church. You will do well if, as Godís servant, you provide for them. And you should give them all that they need for their journey. v7 They set out on this journey to work for Christ. They would not accept help from those who were not Christians. v8 Therefore, we ought to help such people, so that we may be workers with them for the *truth.

Verse 5 John again called Gaius his dear friend. Then, he praised Gaius for his good deeds. Gaius saw it as his duty to help other Christians. He did what he could for them. He was true to what he believed. He was ready to receive all who were Christians. When they came to him, he always helped them. It made no difference whether he knew them or not. He helped them even if they were strangers to him.

Verse 6 Some of those whom Gaius had helped had returned to their own church. They told the church about Gaius and the help that he had given them. They did not merely say that Gaius had helped them. They also spoke about the love that Gaius had shown to them. Gaius had acted in this way because he loved them as his own brothers. Christian love was the reason that he helped them. He helped all who came to him.

Some of these Christians would be going to other places. On the way, they would come to Gaius. In a polite manner, John asked Gaius to help them again. He asked Gaius to provide whatever they would need for their journey. Gaius was Godís servant in this matter. So Gaius should provide for them, as God would want him to do.

Verse 7 John asked Gaius to help these Christians. This was because they were going to serve Christ. Their own church sent them to teach the *gospel of Jesus Christ. As they travelled, they had to depend on the help of Christians. They had no other resources to live on. In each place, they needed food and somewhere to stay. They would not ask for help from those who did not believe in Christ.

Verse 8 Since these travellers went on behalf of Christ, the church should provide for them. The Christians had a duty to help them. The travellers needed more than just food and somewhere to stay. So the churches should encourage them and provide for all their needs.

As we help the servants of Christ, we join them as workers for the *truth. As they work for the *Lord, we are partners with them. We share with them in their task as they teach the *truth about the *Lord Jesus Christ.

3. Problems with Diotrephes (3 John verses 9-10)

v9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes does not respect us. He loves to be the most important one among them. v10 So if I come, I will remember him. I will remember what he is doing. He speaks wicked lies about us. Worse than that, he will not help the Christians when they come to the church. He also forbids those who want to help them. Then Diotrephes forces those that do help to leave the church.

Verse 9 John had already sent a letter to the church. Diotrephes was a local leader in that church. John would have sent the letter to Diotrephes for him to read it to the members. But the members never heard the contents of that letter. Perhaps Diotrephes destroyed it. We can guess what was in the letter. Probably in the letter, John asked them to help those whom John sent. Diotrephes refused to do as John had asked. He also would not let the members of the church help these visitors.

Gaius knew about that church. Perhaps he was a member of it. Or perhaps he was a leader in another church.

Diotrephes did not agree that John or other *elders had authority in that church. His ambition was to be the only leader of that church. He loved the feeling of power as the person who led the church. He would not share this with John or any other person. Therefore, he did not respect John or those whom John sent. He would not give them a welcome or give them any help.

Verse 10 John intended to come to this church. He was not sure when that might be. He was not even sure if it would be possible. But if possible, he himself would deal with Diotrephes.

At a meeting of the church, John wanted to accuse Diotrephes. There, John would tell the church what Diotrephes had done. Perhaps some members were not aware of these problems. John would take action against Diotrephes. Maybe he would remove Diotrephes from leadership in the church.

Diotrephes, with evil words, told lies about John and the other leaders in the church. Diotrephes accused John of things that Diotrephes knew were not true. Diotrephes tried to make people doubt Johnís good character. Diotrephes was jealous of the authority that John had in the church. Diotrephes wanted that power in the local church to be his alone.

Worse than this, Diotrephes also refused to greet those who came to the church. As these Christian teachers came, he would not give them any help. He did not give them a welcome. He offered them no food and he provided no home for them. What he did was not how a Christian ought to behave. His actions forced these teachers to go elsewhere. So his actions did not help their work for the *Lord.

Worse than all this, he prevented those who wanted to help the teachers. He warned them and he forbade them. He forced those that did not obey him to leave the church. As the leader, perhaps he had power to remove them from the church.

4. Copy good men in the way that you live (3 John verses 11-12)

v11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil. But imitate what is good. The person who does good things is from God. But the person who does evil things has not seen God. v12 Everyone says that Demetrius is a good man. He lives in a way that matches the *truth. We also speak well about him. You know that our words are true.

Verse 11 John told his dear friend Gaius what to imitate. Gaius should do what is good. He should not do what is evil. What Diotrephes was doing was evil. Gaius should not copy that. What Gaius was doing to help the visitors was good. This is what Christians ought to do. John did not think that Gaius would do evil things. Instead, John encouraged Gaius to continue his good deeds.

God is the origin of all that is good. So those who are Godís children should do good things. By our good deeds, we show that we know God.

Nothing that is bad comes from God. When we live with God, we cannot do evil things. The person who does evil things does not know God. Although Christians are not perfect yet, God is making us perfect. Before we were Christians, we often wanted to do evil things. But now we want to do good things, so that God is pleased with us.

Perhaps John thought that Diotrephes was not a real Christian. Diotrephes was certainly doing what was bad. He did not do what he ought to do.

Verse 12 Here, John wrote about another man called Demetrius. John told Gaius that Demetrius was a good Christian.

Probably Demetrius brought this letter from John to Gaius. In verse 12, John introduced Demetrius so that Gaius would give Demetrius a welcome.

All the Christians who knew Demetrius spoke well about him. They said that he was a good man. He lived as a true Christian should live. The manner of his life proved that he believed the *gospel of Christ. John and the other leaders knew Demetrius and spoke well about him. They had confidence in Demetrius and they trusted him.

5. Last words (3 John verses 13-14)

v13 I have many things to write to you. But I do not want to tell you these things by a letter. v14 I hope to come to you soon. When I come, we can talk together.

May God give you calm in yourself. The friends here send their greetings to you. Please greet each of our friends there for me.

Verse 13 The author wanted to say much more to Gaius. But it would not be wise to write these things in a letter.

Verse 14 John was hoping that very soon he would be able to visit Gaius. When they were together, he could speak about these things.

John asked God that Gaius might be calm and quiet in himself. This is a normal kind of greeting at the end of a letter. But John was also aware of Gaiusís problems. He knew the risks that Gaius was taking. So, John asked God to give that inner strength to Gaius.

John sent greetings to Gaius from the members of his church. Probably Gaius did not know them all but they considered him as their friend.

John asked Gaius to greet each one of the friends who were there with him. This would include all those in the church who did not follow Diotrephes.

Word List

apostle ~ one whom God sends; especially one of the 12 men that Jesus chose to be his helpers.

elder ~ a leader in the church.

gospel ~ the good news about Jesus.

Lord ~ name for God in the Bible; name that we use for Jesus when we obey him; a title for Jesus, to show that he is over all.

Ďtruthí ~ the truth that God has shown to Christians.

Book List

Glen W Barker ~ The Expositorís Bible Commentary

Stephen S Smalley ~ World Biblical Commentary

J R W Stott ~ The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries

R J Drummond and Leon Morris ~ The New Bible Commentary (IVF)

Exegetical Summaries ~ SIL

W E Vine ~ Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words



A Marshall ~ The Interlinear Greek New Testament


© 1997-2005, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

April 2005

Visit our website: www.easyenglish.bible