3 John 1:11
Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that does good is of God: but he that does evil has not seen God.
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1:9-12 Both the heart and mouth must be watched. The temper and spirit of Diotrephes was full of pride and ambition. It is bad not to do good ourselves; but it is worse to hinder those who would do good. Those cautions and counsels are most likely to be accepted, which are seasoned with love. Follow that which is good, for he that doeth good, as delighting therein, is born of God. Evil-workers vainly pretend or boast acquaintance with God. Let us not follow that which is proud, selfish, and of bad design, though the example may be given by persons of rank and power; but let us be followers of God, and walk in love, after the example of our Lord.Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good - There can be no doubt that in this exhortation the writer had Diotrephes particularly in his eye, and that he means to exhort Gaius not to imitate his example. He was a man of influence in the church, and though Gaius had shown that he was disposed to act in an independent manner, yet it was not improper to exhort him not to be influenced by the example of any one who did wrong. John wished to excite him to acts of liberal and generous hospitality.

He that doeth good is of God - He shows that he resembles God, for God continually does good. See the sentiment explained in the notes at 1 John 3:7.

He that doeth evil hath not seen God - See the notes at 1 John 3:8-10.

11. follow not that which is evil—as manifested in Diotrephes (3Jo 9, 10).

but … good—as manifested in Demetrius (3Jo 12).

is of God—is born of God, who is good.

hath not seen God—spiritually, not literally.

Follow not; Mh mimou by following here he means imitation, i.e. the deformity of evil appearing in the practice of some, and the beauty of true goodness in others, (examples being given of both sorts, 3Jo 1:9, and 3Jo 1:12), he exhorts to decline the former, and imitate the other; and enforces the exhortation by the weightiest arguments.

He that doeth good; a doer of good, one made up of kindness and benignity (as the contest draws the sense to that special kind of goodness); agayopoiwn and o kakopoiwn, signify doing well or ill, from a fixed, prevailing habit, 1Jo 3:7,8.

Is of God; is allied to heaven, born of God, his offspring.

But he that doeth evil hath not seen God; an evil-doer, on the other hand, such a one as is a composition of spite, envy, and malice, is a mere stranger to him, hath not been, or known, or had to do with him. Beloved, follow not that which is evil,.... Follow not evil in general, it being hateful to God, contrary to his nature and will, and bad in itself, as well as pernicious in its consequences; and particularly follow not, or do not imitate the particular evil or evils in Diotrephes; as his pride, ambition, love of preeminence, and tyrannical government in the church, and especially his hard heartedness, cruelty, and inhospitality to the poor saints; and so the Arabic version reads, "do not imitate him in evil"; the examples of persons in office and authority have great influence, especially in cases of charity, when men can be excused thereby, and save their money, or be freed from an expense:

but that which is good; follow and imitate that, be a follower of God, imitate him in acts of kindness and beneficence, be merciful as he is; copy the deeds of Jesus Christ, who went about doing good, and declared it to be more blessed to give than to receive; and tread in the steps of those good men, who have shown love to the name of Christ, by ministering to his saints; for though the apostle may mean everything that is good, which is to be followed and imitated in any, yet he chiefly designs acts of kindness and beneficence to poor saints and ministers: to which he encourages by the following,

he that doeth good is of God; he is a child of God, he appears to be so, in that he is like to his heavenly Father, who is kind and merciful; he is born of God, he is passed from death to life, which his love to the brethren shows; he has the grace of God, and strength from Christ, and the assistance of the Spirit, without either of which he could not do that which is good:

but he that doeth evil hath not seen God; has had no spiritual saving sight of God in Christ; for if he had, he would abhor that which is evil, and, with Job, abhor himself for it, and reckon himself, with Isaiah, as undone, Job 42:6, for such effects has the sight of God on the souls of men; such an one knows not God, nor what it is to have communion with him: for those who live in sin, in whom it is a governing principle, cannot have fellowship with God; nor has such an one ever felt the love of God in his soul, or been made a partaker of his grace, which would teach and constrain him to act otherwise. Compare this text with 1 John 3:10, which shows the Apostle John to be the writer of this epistle. The Ethiopic version reads, "shall not see God"; that is, hereafter, in the world to come.

Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not {e} seen God.

(e) Has not known God.

3 John 1:11. From the special case the apostle deduces an exhortation of general import.

μὴ μιμοῦ τὸ κακόν, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἀγαθόν] On μιμεῖσθαι, comp. especially Hebrews 13:7.

The expressions: τὸ κακόν and τὸ ἀγαθόν, can so much the less be regarded as un-Johannean (de Wette) as in John 5:29 the corresponding antithesis: τὰ ἀγαθά and τὰ φαῦλα, is found, and in John 18:23 the neuter singular τὸ κακόν. The additional sentence: ὁ ἀγαθοποιῶντὸν Θεόν, expresses the same thought that frequently appears in the First Epistle of John, especially in chap. 3:6.

The ideas: ἀγαθοποιεῖν and κακοποιεῖν, are to be taken quite generally, and must not be limited to the special virtue of benevolence (a Lapide, Lorinus, Grotius, Paulus); comp. 1 Peter 2:14-15; 1 Peter 2:20; 1 Peter 3:6; 1 Peter 3:17.

The corresponding expressions: ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ εἶναι and ἑωρακέναι τὸν Θεόν, are used also in the First Epistle of John; but why the Johannean: οὐκ ἔγνω τὸν Θεόν (1 John 4:8), should be more conformable to the style of John than the equally Johannean: οὐχ ἑώρακε τὸν Θεόν (1 John 3:6), as Lücke and de Wette think, is not quite perceptible.3 John 1:11-12. Testimony to Demetrius. “Beloved, do not imitate what is bad but what is good. He that doeth what is good is of God; he that doeth what is bad hath not seen God. To Demetrius testimony hath been borne by all and by the Truth itself; yea, and we testify, and thou knowest that our testimony is true.”11. Beloved] The address again marks transition to a new subject, but without any abrupt change. The behaviour of Diotrephes will at least serve as a warning.

follow not that which is evil, but that which is good] More simply, imitate not the ill, but the good. The word for ‘evil’ or ‘ill’ is not that used in the previous verse (πονηρός), but a word, which, though one of the most common in the Greek language to express the idea of ‘bad,’ is rarely used by S. John (κακός). Elsewhere only John 18:23; Revelation 2:2; Revelation 16:2 : in Revelation 16:2 both words occur. Perhaps ‘ill’ is hardly strong enough here, and the ‘evil’ of A.V. had better be retained. Nothing turns on the change of word, so that it is not absolutely necessary to mark it. For ‘imitate’ comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; Hebrews 13:7 : the word occurs nowhere else in N.T.

He that doeth good is of God] He has God as the source (ἐκ) of his moral and spiritual life; he is a child of God. In its highest sense this is true only of Him who ‘went about doing good; but it is true in a lower sense of every earnest Christian. See on 1 John 2:16; 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:8-9; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 4:6-7.

hath not seen God] See on 1 John 3:6. Of course doing good and doing evil are to be understood in a wide sense: the particular cases of granting and refusing hospitality to missionary brethren are no longer specially in question.

11, 12. The Moral

11, 12. This is the main portion of the Epistle. In it the Apostle bids Gaius beware of imitating such conduct. And if an example of Christian conduct is needed there is Demetrius.3 John 1:11. Τὸ κακὸν, that which is evil) in Diotrephes.—τὸ ἀγαθὸν, that which is good) in Demetrius.—ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ, from God) who is good.—ἔστιν, is) as born from Him.Ver. 11. - This is the moral to which St. John has been leading up. Diotrephes will at least serve as a warning. A Christian gentleman will note such behaviour in order to avoid it. Strengthened by his own previous walk in the truth (verse 3), and encouraged by the apostle (verses 5-8), with Diotrephes as a warning on the one hand, and Demetrius as an example on the other, he ought not to fail in proving his heavenly birth by doing good and avoiding evil (see on 1 John 3:6). Follow (μιμοῦ)

More correctly, as Rev., imitate. Elsewhere only 2 Thessalonians 3:7, 2 Thessalonians 3:9; Hebrews 13:7. The kindred word μιμητής imitator, uniformly rendered follower in A.V., occurs 1 Corinthians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1. Hence our word mimic; also pantomime. Μῖμος means both an actor and a kind of prose drama, intended as a familiar representation of life and character, and without any distinct plot.

That which is evil - that which is good (τὸ κακὸν - τὸ ἀγαθόν).

Compare τὰ ἀγαθά good, τὰ φαῦλα evil, John 5:29.

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