Why, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither does he himself receive the brothers, and forbids them that would, and casts them out of the church.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)3 John 1:14.
I will remember his deeds which he doeth - That is, he would punish his arrogance and presumption; would take measures that he should be dealt with in a proper manner. There is no evidence whatever that this is said in a vindictive or revengeful spirit, or that the writer spoke of it merely as a personal matter. From anything that can be shown to the contrary, if it had been a private and personal affair merely, the matter might have been dropped, and never referred to again. But what had been done was public. It pertained to the authority of the apostle, the duty of the church, and the character of the brethren who had been commended to them. If the letter was written, as is supposed by the aged John, and his authority had been utterly rejected by the influence of this one man, then it was proper that that authority should be asserted. If it was the duty of the church to have received these men, who had been thus recommended to them, and it had been prevented from doing what it would otherwise have done, by the influence of one man, then it was proper that the influence of that man should be restrained, and that the church should see that he was not to control it. If the feelings and the character of these brethren had been injured by being rudely thrust out of the church, and held up as unworthy of public confidence, then it was proper that their character should be vindicated, and that the author of the wrong should be dealt with in a suitable manner. No one can show that this was not all that the apostle proposed to do, or that any feelings of private vindictiveness entered into his purpose to remember what Diotrephes had done; and the existence of any such feelings should not be charged on the apostle without proof. There is no more reason to suppose this in his case than there was in the case of Paul, in administering discipline in the church of Corinth, 1 Corinthians 5:3-5, or than there is in any instance of administering discipline now.
Prating against us - The word "prate," (φλυαρέω phluareō,) occurring nowhere else in the New Testament, means to "overflow with talk," (Greek φλύω phluō, Latin: "fluo," flow;) to talk much without weight, or to little purpose; to be loquacious; to trifle; or, to use an expression common among us, and which accords well with the Greek, to run on in talk, without connection or sense. The word does not properly imply that there was malignity or ill-feeling in what was said, but that the talk was of an idle, foolish, and unpprofitable character. As John here, however, specifies that there was a bad spirit in the manner in which Diotrephes expressed himself, the real thing which is implied in the use of the word here is, that there were much talk of that kind; that he was addicted to this habit of "running on" against the apostle; and that he was thus constantly undermining his influence, and injuring his character.
With malicious words - Greek, "evil words;" words that were fitted to do injury.
And not content therewith - Not satisfied with venting his private feelings in talk. Some persons seem to be satisfied with merely talking against others, and take no other measures to injure them; but Diotrephes was not. He himself rejected the brethren, and persuaded the church to do the same thing. Bad as evil talking is, and troublesome as a man may be who is always "prating" about matters that do not go according to his mind, yet it would be comparatively well if things always ended with that, and if the loquacious and the dissatisfied never took measures openly to wrong others.
Neither doth he himself receive the brethren - Does not himself treat them as Christian brethren, or with the hospitality which is due to them. He had not done it on the former visit, and John evidently supposed that the same thing would occur again.
And forbiddeth them that would - From this it is clear that there were those in the church who were disposed to receive them in a proper manner; and from anything that appears, the church, as such, would have been inclined to do it, if it had not been for the influence of this one man.
And casteth them out of the church - Compare Luke 6:22. It has been made a question whether the reference here is to the members of the church who were disposed to receive these brethren, or to the brethren themselves. Lucke, Macknight, and some others, suppose that it refers to those in the church who were willing to receive them, and whom Diotrephes had excommunicated on that account. Heumann, Carpzoviius, Rosenmuller, Bloomfield, and others, suppose that it refers to these strangers, and that the meaning is, that Diotrephes would not receive them into the society of Christians, and thus compelled them to go to another place. That this latter is the correct interpretation seems to me to be evident, for it was of the treatment which they had received that the apostle was speaking.
I will remember—literally, "I will bring to mind" before all by stigmatizing and punishing.
prating—with mere silly tattle.
neither doth he … receive the brethren—with hospitality. "The brethren" are the missionaries on their journey.
forbiddeth them that would—receive them.
casteth them—those that would receive the brethren, by excommunication from the Church, which his influence, as a leading man (3Jo 9) in it, enabled him to do. Neander thinks that the missionaries were Jews by birth, whence it is said in their praise they took nothing from THE Gentiles: in contrast to other Jewish missionaries who abused ministers' right of maintenance elsewhere, as Paul tells us, 2Co 11:22; Php 3:2, 5, 19. Now in the Gentile churches there existed an ultra-Pauline party of anti-Jewish tendency, the forerunners of Marcion: Diotrephes possibly stood at the head of this party, which fact, as well as this domineering spirit, may account for his hostility to the missionaries, and to the apostle John, who had, by the power of love, tried to harmonize the various elements in the Asiatic churches. At a later period, Marcion, we know, attached himself to Paul alone, and paid no deference to the authority of John.See Poole on "3Jo 1:9" 3 John 1:14;
I will remember his deeds which he doth; meaning, not only that he would tell him of them to his face, but make mention of them, and expose them to the whole church, and reprove him for them: and which are as follow,
prating against us with malicious words; it is a common thing for ministers of the Gospel to be prated against, not only by the men of the world, but by professors of religion, and by such who call themselves preachers also; nor need it be wondered at, since John, an apostle of Christ, the beloved disciple, who was so harmless and inoffensive in his conversation, so kind and loving in his disposition and temper, so meek and humble in his deportment, and now in such an advanced age, was prated against by a Diotrephes: and what is said against Christ's ministers is no other than prating; silly, idle, trifling, and empty stuff, as the word used signifies; for want of greater things, they take up any little matter, and improve it against them; and this is often done with a malicious intent, to hurt their characters, spoil their usefulness, and render their ministry unprofitable.
And not content herewith; with prating against the Apostle John, and the ministers with him, in this wicked way:
neither doth he himself receive the brethren; the meaning is not, that he did not receive them into the church, for they were there, since afterwards mention is made of his casting them out from thence; but he did not receive them into his house, and entertain them as he ought to have done; for a minister of the Gospel, and a pastor of a church, ought to be hospitable, and given to hospitality, and entertain strangers, especially those who are brethren in Christ, and fellow ministers of the word: and the rather these were to be received, since they travelled about to spread the Gospel among the Gentiles, and took nothing of them. And this was not all, he not only did not receive them himself, and reject them, but was not willing that others should receive them:
and forbiddeth them that would; on such who had a heart, as well as ability, to receive and entertain these poor brethren, he laid his injunctions, and gave them strict orders, in his lordly and tyrannical way, not to show any respect unto them;
and casteth them out of the church; that is, he excommunicated them, either those that entertained them, or rather the brethren themselves; which was an abuse of the ordinance of excommunication, as that ordinance is abused, when any single person, a pastor, or any other, as here, assumes the power of doing it himself, and does it without the church; whereas it is a punishment or censure, to be inflicted by many, or to be done by the joint suffrage of the church; and when it is done in a wrong cause, for some small trifling matter, or none at all, and not in a case of heresy or immorality, obstinately persisted in; and when it is done from wrong principles, and with wrong ends, as to gratify the pride and passion of some; and not for the good of the person cast out, or to prevent others from falling into the same snare, or for the honour of religion, and the glory of God. The phrase seems to be taken from the Jews, who expressed their excommunication, or putting out of the synagogue, by a casting out; see John 9:34.Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)3 John 1:10. ἐὰν ἔλθω: the aged Apostle with his failing strength can only “hope” (cf. 3 John 1:14) to undertake the journey. ὑπομνήσω αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα, not “remind him of his works” (contrast the “work” of Gaius in 3 John 1:5), but “bring his works to remembrance,” by reciting them at a meeting of the Church. St. John does not threaten excommunication or any sort of discipline, but simply that he will state the facts and let them speak for themselves. A terrible reckoning, like that of the Day of Judgment (cf. Revelation 20:12)—to hear a recital of all one’s passionate speeches and inconsiderate actions. Contrast St. Paul’s threats (1 Corinthians 4:21; 2 Corinthians 10:11; 2 Corinthians 13:1-3). St. John deserved to be called “the Apostle of Love”. φλυαρεῖν (nugari, verschwatsen), of foolish chattering. Suid.: φλύαρος· φλήναφος καὶ λῆρος καὶ μάταιος λόγος. The chatter of Diotrephes was not only foolish but malevolent (λόγοις πονηροῖς). μὴ ἀρκ., see note on 1 John 2:4. οὔτε … καί, cf. John 4:11. κωλύει, ἐκβάλλει, pres. implying not that he actually did it but that he tried to do it. ἐκβάλλει, here not of literal ejection (cf. John 2:15 = Matthew 21:12 = Mark 11:15) but of excommunication from the fellowship of the congregation.10. Wherefore] Or, For this cause: see on 1 John 3:1.
I will remember] I will direct public attention to the matter, ‘will bear witness of it before the Church’ (3 John 1:6). It is the word used in John 14:26, ‘He shall bring all things to your remembrance.’
his deeds which he doeth] Or, his works which he doeth: see on 2 John 1:11.
with malicious words] Or, with evil words: it is the same adjective (πονηρός) as is used throughout the First Epistle of ‘the evil one.’ The word for ‘prate’ (φλυαρεῖν) occurs nowhere else in N.T. It is frequent in Aristophanes and Demosthenes, and means literally ‘to talk non-sense.’ Its construction here with an accusative after it is quite exceptional. ‘Prates against us,’ garriens in nos, cannot well be improved: it conveys the idea that the words were not only wicked, but senseless. Comp. ‘And not only idle, but tattlers (φλύαροι) also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not’ (1 Timothy 5:13). Other renderings are ‘chiding against us’ (Wiclif), ‘jesting on us’ (Tyndale and Cranmer), ‘pratteling against us’ (Genevan), ‘chatting against us’ (Rhemish), plaudert wider uns (Luther).
neither doth he himself receive the brethren] The same word (ἐπιδέχεται) is used here and at the end of 3 John 1:9. It occurs nowhere else in N.T. but is common in classical Greek. In 3 John 1:9 the meaning probably is ‘admits not our authority,’ or ‘ignores our letter.’ Here of course it is ‘refuses hospitality to.’ But perhaps ‘closes his doors against’ may be the meaning in both places; ‘us’ being S. John’s friends. By saying ‘us’ rather than ‘me’, the Apostle avoids the appearance of a personal quarrel.
casteth them out of the Church] He excommunicates those who are willing to receive the missionary brethren. The exact meaning of this is uncertain, as we have not sufficient knowledge of the circumstances. The natural meaning is that Diotrephes had sufficient authority or influence in some Christian congregation to exclude from it those who received brethren of whom he did not approve. For the expression comp. John 9:34-35.3 John 1:10. Ἐὰν ἔλθω, if I shall come) 3 John 1:14.—ὑπομνήσω, I will remind him) A Metonymia of the antecedent for the consequent: that is, I will notice (punish), I will set a mark of censure upon, so that he may feel.—λόγοις πονηροῖς, with malicious words) by which he endeavours to excuse himself.—τοὺς βουλομένους, those that wish) that is, to receive us and them.—ἐκβάλλει, he casts out) a great amount of insolence.Ver. 10. - For this cause, if I come, I will bring to remembrance his works which he doeth. The apostle is proceeding on the lines prescribed by Christ. He has remonstrated with Diotrephes privately; he has sent messengers to him to speak in his name, and Diotrephes has declined to receive them. There remains one step more, and St. John means to take it. "If he refuse to hear them, tell it unto the Church: and if he refuse to hear the Church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile [ὁ ἐθνικός, as in verse 7] and the publican" (Matthew 18:17). Just as the missionary brethren bore witness before the Church to the Christian love of Gains, so the elder will bear witness before the Church to the arrogant hostility of Diotrephes. Once more we see that words may be works. He who sanctions teachers of false doctrine shares in their "evil works" (2 John 1:11); and the "works" of Diotrephes partly consist in "prating against us with evil words." The same word for "evil" is used in both cases πονηρός - the word used to express "the evil one;" the coincidence is significant. The insolent opposition to the apostle on the part of Diotrephes, and the severe language used by St. John in condemning him, stand almost alone in the New Testament. For a parallel to the latter we must look to our Lord's denunciation of the arrogant and hypocritical Pharisees who opposed him. The Pharisees, like Diotrephes, not merely refused to walk in the right path themselves, but hindered those who were entering upon it (Luke 11:52). They also "cast out" those who presumed to take a less narrow view than themselves (John 9:34, 35).
From φλύω to bubble up or boil over. Hence of talk which is both fluent and empty. Compare the kindred adjective φλύαροι tattlers, 1 Timothy 5:13.
Them that would
Those who were disposed to receive the strangers.
Casteth them out
By excommunication, which, through his influence, he had power to bring about.
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