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1

The Third Epistle of John

2 John and 3 John are both short enough to fit on one sheet of papyrus, in the form of a letter. Their content is unremarkable. Therefore their survival and inclusion in the Canon points to early belief that their author the elder was prominent.[1 p.26] The author was able to instruct the churches because he embodied Christian tradition, and was well known, so no name need be mentioned.[1 p.29]

One would not expect a short private letter to be written in the same style as a Gospel that is seventy times as long.[1 p.32], but the letters of John address children and friends, as Jesus does John's Gospel.[1 p.35]

Commentary

1

Gaius was a common name so it is not possible to identify the individual to whom the letter was addressed.

Truth: see comment on 2 John verse 2.

3–4

The references to "joy" may be a pun on Gaius's name, which means "happiness".

Truth: see comment on 2 John verse 2.

5–10

The letter encourages hospitality for itinerant preachers, in contrast to Diotrephes' habit of excluding people.

8

Truth: see comment on 2 John verse 2.

9

Diotrephes must have been leader of a house church, whose authority arose not from being learned but from having the right to control events in his own home.[1 p.36]

12

Truth: see comment on 2 John verse 2.

1:14

In some translations this verse is divided into two verses numbered 14 and 15; see Wikipedia.

References:

  1. Hengel, Martin The Johannine Question (London: SCM, 1989)

© David Billin 2002–2021