3 John 1:3
For I was overjoyed when the brothers came and testified about your devotion to the truth, in which you continue to walk.
Sermons
FameW. Jones, D. D.3 John 1:3
GaiusS. Cox, D. D.3 John 1:3
The Testimony of OthersT. Davies, M. A.3 John 1:3
The Aged Presbyter's Letter to a Private Church-MemberR. Finlayson 3 John 1: 1-14
Spiritual ProsperityW. Jones 3 John 1: 3, 4


For I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, etc. In these and some subsequent verses we have some aspects and evidences of the spiritual prosperity of Gaius.

I. ASPECTS OF SPIRITUAL PROSPERITY. "Brethren came and bare witness unto thy truth, even as thou walkest in truth."

1. Truth appropriated in mind and heart. Our interpretation of the words, "thy truth," would be superficial and inadequate if we simply said that they express the sincerity of Gaius. The expression involves this, that he was true in religion and in life; but it means that his religious beliefs were correct - that he held the truth concerning the Person and work of Jesus Christ. On these subjects pernicious errors had arisen in the Church. Some denied the Godhead of our Saviour; others denied the reality of his manhood. "The first stumbled at his pre-existence and incarnation, because he suffered indignity and anguish; the other, admitting his Divine nature, thought it beneath him actually to suffer, and therefore denied that his body or his sufferings were anything else but illusory appearances" (Binney). Against each of these errors St. John wrote. And by the expression, "the truth," he generally means the apostolic doctrine concerning the Person and work of Jesus Christ. "This truth Gaius held; held it as his life; it was 'in him,' as filling his intellect and affections; in his understanding as a source of light, in his heart as the object of love." The apostle, as we have learned from his former Epistles, attached the utmost importance to correct religious belief.

2. Truth manifested in life and conduct. "Thou walkest in truth." His practical life was in harmony with his professed creed. The truth he held was not merely a form of sound words, but a living force in his character and conduct. His faith was not a mere speculation or opinion, but a thing of deep feeling and firm conviction. The faith that does not influence the life towards harmony with itself is not faith in the scriptural sense; it is assent, or opinion; but it is not Christian faith, or saving faith. Our real faith moulds the life into conformity with the truth believed. St. John quite as earnestly insisted upon practicing the truth as upon holding it. "He that doeth good is of God; he that doeth evil hath not seen God" (verse 11; and 1 John 3:7, 10). Let us, like Gaius, hold the truth, make it our own; and also live the truth, walk in it day by day. Cultivate a true faith and a holy life.

II. TESTIMONY TO SPIRITUAL PROSPERITY. " Brethren came and bare witness unto thy truth," etc. These brethren were probably those who had been commended to the Church by the apostle, rejected through the influence of Diotrephes (verse 9), and then entertained by Gains. They probably presented this report on their return to the Church of which St. John was pastor, and from which they had been sent forth (verses 5, 6).

1. It is a pleasure to good men to testify to the excellence of others.

2. It is gratifying to a good man to receive the commendation of good men. "A good name is better than precious ointment." "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches."

III. THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL PROSPERITY UPON THE GOOD. "Greater joy have I none than this, to hear of my children," etc.

1. The tender relation here mentioned. "My children." It seems that Gains had been converted through the ministry of St. John. He was the spiritual child of the apostle; his "true child in faith;" his "beloved child," as St. Paul says of Timothy. This relationship is very close, tender, and sacred (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:14, 15).

2. The great joy here spoken of. "Greater joy have I none than this," etc. Every genuine Christian rejoices to find men walking in the truth; but the apostle had the additional joy which arose from the dear and holy tie by which he and Gains were united. The success of a young man in temporal things is a great joy to his parents. To Christian parents it is a far greater joy when their children give their hearts to God, and walk in truth. And to the Christian minister, and the Sunday school teacher, the spiritual prosperity of those whom they have led to the Saviour is a source of deep and pure rejoicing. Such prosperity is a proof that we have not laboured in vain; it is a distinguished honour conferred upon us by God; and it gives a foretaste of the grand final reward, "Well done, good and faithful servant," etc. To hear of or to behold such fruits of our Christian work both humbles and rejoices us. Christian brethren, let us aim both to appropriate and to exemplify Christian truth. - W.J.







I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee.
We are now to study the character of Gaius, the sincere and generous host of Demetrius, the quiet but sturdy opponent of the intolerance and tyranny of Diotrephes, and the study should be very welcome to us since, if he has not climbed so high as the fervent and zealous Evangelist, still less has he fallen so low as the prating lover of pre-eminence who would not defer even to the apostle himself. With his first touch St. John strikes the ground-note, or the keynote, of the whole music which went to make up the character of the man. Gaius was one who "walked in truth," and so walked in it that men "bore witness to his truth." The Greek word here rendered "truth" might, if the change were worth making, be rendered "reality." But if I say that Gaius was a true man, a genuine man, a real man, whose life was all of one piece, whose daily conduct was the practical outcome and inference from the truths he believed, I may perhaps help you to some conception of the apostle's meaning. Still he implies much more than he says, and we must try to recover his implications also. We may, and must, infer from his stress on the word "truth" that Gaius cared more for deeds than for words; that there was not that unhappy divorce between his professions and his actions, his creed and his conduct, which we may see in Diotrophes and recognise only too clearly in ourselves. He did not look one way and walk another. He did not say one thing and mean another. He did not approve the better, and follow the worse, course. There was no hypocrisy, no insincerity, in him. He, the whole man, was "in the truth." Come what may, no danger, no allurement, will draw or drive him from his steadfast and habitual round, or make him unfaithful to the faith and service of Christ. And we may also infer that Gaius was not one who would bring the spirit and methods of the world into the Church. Diotrephes might be as selfish, as opinionated, as ambitious, as subtle and scheming, as he was before he had entered the Christian fellowship. But that was not possible to a true man, a genuine Christian, such as Gaius, who really believed the truth as it is in Jesus. Nor, again, could a true man, in the apostle's sense, yield to that still more subtle and fatal temptation by which those are overcome in whom religion degenerates, as it seems to have done in Diotrephes, into mere ecclesiasticism or sectarianism. A too keen and exclusive interest in the outside of the cup and the platter is as dangerous in the Church as it is anywhere else. And the charity of Gaius was as conspicuous as his unworldliness. Not only had he received and entertained strangers, who were also brethren, setting forward Demetrius and other travelling evangelists on their journey; he continued to receive and serve them even when Diotrephes forbade him, and had persuaded the Church to excommunicate those who ventured to receive them. He could do no other, for he walked in truth. Nor was he to be talked out of his loyalty to truth, or threatened out of it. Truth in every form was welcome to him, let who would teach it, let who would prate against it. It was his duty to receive brethren even if they were strangers. A certain genuineness and wholeness, then, a certain staunchness and loyalty, combined with great breadth and tolerance, seems to have been characteristic of the hospitable and kindly Gaius. He was in the truth. He walked in truth. There was a clear accord, a fruitful harmony, between his principles and his practice which gave unity and force to his life. He could be true to truth, come whence it would. He could be true to men, even when they were reviled and thrust out of the Church. Now this large, steadfast, yet gentle loyalty to truth is as essential to a genuine, a real and strong, Christian character now as it was then: a loyalty which can not only stand against the narrow intolerance of a Diotrephes, and sympathise with the disinterested zeal of a Demetrius, but can also bring the large generous truths in which we believe to bear upon our daily life and practice, and constrain us to receive and set forward all who are serving the truth "that we may be fellow-workers with the truth" they teach. Before we can put ourselves even on the modest level of Gaius, we must ask ourselves, "What risks have we run, what sacrifices have we made, what pleasant fellowships have we put in jeopardy, that we might stand up for unpopular truths, or back up the men who were enforcing and defending them? There are men, no doubt, who have a terrible struggle to wage in the sacred precincts of their own soul before they can make religion the ruling inference and power of their lives; and of these, perhaps, we must not expect much public service until the issue of the inward conflict has been decided; though I believe that, even in this inward personal war, they would be greatly aided were they to make it more impersonal, and to care and contend for the salvation of other men instead of simply fighting for their own hand. And there are other men who are so engrossed and exhausted by the labours and cares, the occupations and irritations, of their daily business that they have as much as they can do in bringing the spirit of religion to bear on their daily task, and have neither leisure nor energy left for works of public usefulness. Remember, we are not told that Gaius talked Diotrephes down, or that he made a masterly defence of St. John, or even that he took a prominent part whether in managing the affairs or conducting the services of the Church. All we are told of him is that he showed much sympathy with the strangers whom John had commended to the Church, that his sympathy took very practical forms, and that he exercised it at the risk, and perhaps at the cost, of losing the sympathy of brethren who were not strangers, and with whom he habitually worshipped.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

I. FAITH IN POSSESSION.

1. The unconditional acceptance of the truth.

2. The harmony of truth with our moral nature.

II. FAITH IN ACTION.

1. Faith in action is a healthful and energising exercise of our whole life.

2. Faith in action is a power wielded over others.

III. FAITH ON RECORD. The faithful witnesses who gave their evidence in the presence of St. John were samples of others who gave their evidence before the tribunal of the world.

1. It is a record worth making. To write down the deeds, the trials, and the victories of faith is not a waste of either time or materials.

2. It is worth rehearsing.

3. It is worth preserving. Its influence is marvellous. The lamp of another strengthens the light of our own, to make clearer the Christian path.

IV. THE REFLEX INFLUENCE OF FAITH. Gaius was the apostle's son in the faith. How the soul of the aged minister was lighted up as the brethren related to him the glad tidings concerning the soul he had been instrumental in saving.

(T. Davies, M. A.)

is like a ship that receives all passengers, like a waggon that entertains all, good and bad. Bad things go abroad, and good things go abroad, but here is the difference.

1. Bad things go speedily, good slowly; the one flies like eagles, the other creeps like snails.

2. The one are enlarged, the other diminished.

3. The one all hear of, but a few of the others.

4. Bad things go without ceasing; men are like flies that are ever insisting upon sores; the report of good things is like a hue and cry that quickly falls down in the country.

5. The one we tell of with delight; we take little pleasure in talking of the other, yet we ought to testify of the one rather than of the other. Let us witness of the virtues wherewith God hath adorned any. It shall redound to his glory, and it shall be a spur to prick on others to the like.

(W. Jones, D. D.)

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