3 John 1:4
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
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1:1-8 Those who are beloved of Christ, will love the brethren for his sake. Soul prosperity is the greatest blessing on this side heaven. Grace and health are rich companions. Grace will employ health. A rich soul may be lodged in a weak body; and grace must then be exercised in submitting to such a dispensation. But we may wish and pray that those who have prosperous souls, may have healthful bodies; that their grace may shine where there is still more room for activity. How many professors there are, about whom the apostle's words must be reversed, and we must earnestly wish and pray that their souls might prosper, as their health and circumstances do! True faith will work by love. A good report is due from those who receive good; they could not but testify to the church, what they found and felt. Good men will rejoice in the soul prosperity of others; and they are glad to hear of the grace and goodness of others. And as it is a joy to good parents, it will be a joy to good ministers, to see their people adorn their profession. Gaius overlooked petty differences among serious Christians, and freely helped all who bore the image, and did the work of Christ. He was upright in what he did, as a faithful servant. Faithful souls can hear their own praises without being puffed up; the commendation of what is good in them, lays them at the foot of the cross of Christ. Christians should consider not only what they must do, but what they may do; and should do even the common actions of life, and of good-will, after a godly sort, serving God therein, and designing his glory. Those who freely make known Christ's gospel, should be helped by others to whom God gives the means. Those who cannot themselves proclaim it, may yet receive, help, and countenance those who do so.I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth - That they adhere steadfastly to the truth, and that they live in accordance with it. This is such language as would be used by an aged apostle when speaking of those who had been converted by his instrumentality, and who looked up to him as a father; and we may, therefore, infer that Gaius had been converted under the ministry of John, and that he was probably a much younger man than he was. John, the aged apostle, says that he had no higher happiness than to learn, respecting those who regarded him as their spiritual father, that they were steadfast in their adherence to the doctrines of religion. The same thing may be:

(a) of all the ministers of the gospel, that their highest comfort is found in the fact that those to whom they minister, whether still under their care or removed from them, persevere in a steadfast attachment to the true doctrines of religion, and live accordingly; and,

(b) of all Christian parents respecting their own children. the highest joy that a Christian parent can have is to know that his children, whether at home or abroad, adhere to the truths of religion, and live in accordance with the requirements of the gospel of Christ.

If a child wished to confer the highest possible happiness upon his parents when with them, it would be by becoming a decided Christian; if, when abroad, in foreign lands or his own, he wished to convey intelligence to them that would most thrill their hearts with joy, it would be to announce to them that he had given his heart to God. There is no joy in a family like that when children are converted; there is no news that comes from abroad that diffuses so much happiness through the domestic circle as the intelligence that a child is truly converted to the Saviour. There is nothing that would give more peace to the dying pillow of the Christian parent, than to be able to leave the world with the assurance that his children would always walk in truth.

4. my children—members of the Church: confirming the view that the "elect lady" is a Church. See Poole on "3Jo 1:3"

I have no greater joy,.... Nothing that causes greater joy. The Vulgate Latin version reads "grace" or "thanks"; and then the sense is, that he had nothing to be more thankful for:

than to hear that my children walk in truth; meaning his spiritual children, those whose conversion he had been the instrument of; and among these it seems Gaius was one.

I have no greater joy than {a} to hear that my children walk in truth.

(a) Than these joys.

serves as confirmation of ἐχάρην λίαν

3 John 1:4 serves as confirmation of ἐχάρην λίαν.

μειζότεραν] Grotius: est ad intendendam significationem comparativus e comparativo factus; similar formations occur in the classical language of poets and later writers; see Winer, p. 65; VII. p. 67; in the N. T. comp. Ephesians 3:8.

τούτων οὐκ ἔχω χαρὰν ἵνα κ.τ.λ.—“I have not a greater joy than this, that;τούτων is not used for ταύτης, but “as an indefinite word is to be connected with the more definite ἵνα” (Lücke); some commentators incorrectly supply “” before ἵνα. John 15:13 is to be compared with this passage; only that ταύτης is used there, but it does not refer, however, to something preceding, but finds its explanation in the following ἵνα.[17]

τὰ ἐμὰ τέκνα, not “all Christians;” but neither merely the converts of John, but the members of the Churches which were under the special fatherly direction of the apostle (so also Braune).

[17] In opposition to Meyer, who says on the passage cited: “the usual view, according to which ἵνα is taken as the explanation of ταύτης, does not correspond to the idea of purpose which is contained in ἵνα,” it may be observed that in the usus loquendi of the N. T. ἵνα has by no means retained the idea of purpose in its distinctness, and often serves, in reference to the demonstrative pronoun, to state the meaning of the latter.

3 John 1:4. Cf. Senec. Ep. xxxiv.: “Si agricolam arbor ad fructum perducta delectat, si pastor ex fœtu gregis sui capit voluptatem, si alumnum suum nemo aliter intuetur quam adulescentiam illius suam judicet: quid evenire credis his qui ingenia educaverunt, et quæ tenera formaverunt adulta subito vident?” Ev. sec. Heb. (quoted by Jerome on Ephesians 5:4): “Et numquam, inquit (Dominus), læti sitis nisi cum fratrem vestrum videritis in caritate”. μειζοτέραν, a double compar.; cf. ἐλαχιστοτέρῳ (Ephesians 3:8); our “lesser”; Germ. mehrere. τούτων: this use of the plur. (ταῦτα) rather than the sing (τοῦτο) is common. See Moulton’s Winer, p. 201. ἵνα, epexegetic of τούτων. Cf. Luke 1:43 and 1 John 3:11. τέκνα implies that Ganius was a convert of St. John. Cf. marg. note.

4. I have no greater joy] In the Greek ‘greater’ is put first for emphasis, and this is worth preserving; Greater joy have I none than this. ‘Joy’ should perhaps rather be grace (χάριν) i.e. favour from God. The Greek for ‘greater’ is a double comparative (μειζοτέραν), like ‘lesser’ in English. In Ephesians 3:8 we have a comparative superlative. Such things belong to the later stage of a language, when ordinary forms are losing their strength. ‘Than this’ is literally ‘than these,’ where ‘these’ either means ‘these joys,’ or more likely ‘these things,’ viz. the frequent reports of the brethren. Comp. John 15:13.

to hear that my children walk in truth] Better, as R. V., to hear of my children walking in the truth. Similarly in Acts 7:12; ‘When Jacob heard of corn being in Egypt.’ ‘My children’ means in particular members of the Churches in Asia which were under S. John’s Apostolic care.

3 John 1:4. Τούτων) than these, joys.

3 John 1:4Joy (χαρὰν)

The texts vary; some reading χάριν grace or favor from God, on which see 2 John 1:3. Note the Greek order: greater joy than this have Inot.

My children (τὰ ἐμὰ τέκνα)

Lit., mine own children.

Walk (περιπατοῦντα)

Rev., rightly, walking. The participle expresses something habitual.

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