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3 John 1:1-4

Context
Introduction and Thanksgiving

1:1 From 1  the elder, 2  to Gaius 3  my dear brother, whom I love in truth. 4  1:2 Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. 5  1:3 For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, just as you are living according to the truth. 6 

1:4 I have no greater joy than this: to hear 7  that my children are living according to the truth. 8 

1 tn The word “From” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to indicate the sender of the letter.

2 tn Or “presbyter.”

sn The author’s self-designation, the elder, is in keeping with the reticence of the author of the Gospel of John to identify himself. This is the same self-designation used by the author of 2 John.

3 sn Little reliable information is available concerning the identity of the person to whom 3 John is addressed. Because the name Gaius was very common in the Roman Empire, it is highly unlikely that the person named here is to be identified with any of the others of the same name associated with Paul (1 Cor 1:14, Rom 16:23 [these two references are probably to the same person]; Acts 19:29, Acts 20:4). A 4th century tradition recorded in the Apostolic Constitutions 7.46.9 (ca. a.d. 370) states that John the Apostle ordained Gaius as bishop of Pergamum, but this is questionable because of the relatively late date. The only certain information about this individual must be obtained from 3 John itself, and there is not a great deal there. It is obvious that this person is well known to the author, but it is not so certain whether they had met personally or not, because the report of Gaius’ conduct toward the brothers is received secondhand by the author (v. 3). Nor can it be determined with certainty whether Gaius belonged to the same local church as Diotrephes (v. 9), or was himself the leader of another local congregation. It is clear that the author regarded him as orthodox (v. 3) and a valuable ally in the controversy with the secessionist opponents and their false Christology discussed at length in 1 John.

4 tn The prepositional phrase ἐν ἀληθείᾳ (en alhqeia) in 3 John 1 is similar to 2 John 1, although it is not qualified here as it is there (see 2 John 1). This is not merely the equivalent of an adverb (“truly”), but is a theological statement affirming the orthodoxy of Gaius, to whom the letter is addressed. “Truth” is the author’s way of alluding to theological orthodoxy in the face of the challenge by the opponents (see 1 John 3:19).

5 tn The noun ψυχή (yuch) is used 10 times in the Gospel of John and 2 times in 1 John; of these 6 of the uses in John and both in 1 John refer to a person’s “life” (as something that can be laid down). In John 10:24 and 12:27 the ψυχή is that part of a person where emotions are experienced; one’s ψυχή is held in suspense or deeply troubled. This is, in other words, the immaterial part of a person as opposed to his physical existence. A close parallel is found in Philo, Heir 58 (285): “nourished with peace, he will depart, having gained a calm, unclouded life…welfare in the body, welfare in the soul (ψυχή)…health and strength…delight in virtues.”

sn Just as it is well with your soul. The equivalent contemporary idiom would be to speak of ‘spiritual’ health as opposed to physical health. The author affirms that Gaius is indeed well off spiritually, and he prays that Gaius’ physical health would match his spiritual health, i.e., that Gaius would be as well off physically as he is spiritually. It is the spiritual health which is to be the standard by which one’s physical health is measured, not the other way round.

6 sn Living according to the truth (Grk “walking in [the] truth”). The use of the Greek verb περιπατέω (peripatew) to refer to conduct or lifestyle is common in the NT (see 1 John 1:6, 2 John 4, as well as numerous times in Paul. Here the phrase refers to conduct that results when a person has “truth” residing within, and possibly alludes to the indwelling Spirit of Truth (see 2 John 2). In the specific context of 3 John the phrase refers to true Christians who are holding fast to an apostolic Christology in the face of the secessionist opponents’ challenge to orthodoxy.

7 tn Grk “that I hear”; the ἵνα (Jina) clause indicates content. This is more smoothly expressed as an English infinitive.

8 tn Grk “walking in (the) truth” (see the note on the phrase “living according to the truth” in 3 John 3).



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