3 John 1:7
Because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.
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3 John


3 John 1:7.

The Revised Version gives the true force of these words by omitting the ‘ His,’ and reading merely ‘ for the sake of the Name.’ There is no need to say whose name. There is only One which could evoke the heroism and self-sacrifice of which the Apostle is speaking. The expression, however, is a remarkable one. The name seems almost, as it were, to be personified. There are one or two other instances in the New Testament where the same usage is found, according to the true reading, though it is obscured in our Authorized Version, because it struck some early transcribers as being strange, and so they tried to mend and thereby spoiled it.

We read, for instance, in the true reading, in the Acts of the Apostles, as to the disciples, on the first burst of persecution, that ‘they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the Name.’ And again, in Philippians, that in recompense and reward for ‘His obedience unto death’-the Father hath given unto the Son-’the Name which is above every name.’ Once more, though less obviously, we find James speaking about ‘ the worthy name by which we are called.’

Then the other part of this phrase is quite as significant as this principal one. The word rendered ‘for the sake of,’ does not merely mean-though it does mean that-’ on account of,’ or ‘by reason of,’ but’ on behalf of,’ as if, in some wonderful sense, that mighty and exalted Name was furthered, advantaged, or benefited by even men’s poor services. So, you see, a minute study of the mere words of the Scripture, though it may seem like grammatical trifling and pedantry, yields large results. Men do sometimes ‘gather grapes of thorns’; and the hard, dry work of trying to get at the precise shade of meaning in Scriptural words always repays us with large lessons and impulses. So let us consider the thoughts which naturally arise from the accurate observation of the very language here.

I. And, first, let us consider the pre-eminence implied in ‘the Name.’

Now I need not do more than remind you in a sentence that eminently in the Old Testament, and also in the New, a name is a great deal more than the syllables which designate a person or a thing. It describes, not only who a man is, but what he is; and implies qualities, characteristics, either bodily or spiritual, which were either discerned in or desired for a person. So when the creatures are brought to Adam that he might give them names, that expresses the thought of the primitive man’s insight into their nature and characteristics. So we find our Lord changing the names of His disciples, in some cases in order to express either the deep qualities which His eye discerned lying beneath the more superficial ones, and to be evolved in due time, or declaring some great purpose which He had for them, official or otherwise.

So here the name substantially means the same thing as the Person Jesus. It is not the syllables by which He is called, but the whole character and nature of Him who is called by these syllables that is meant by ‘the Name.’ The distinction between it, as so used, and Person, is simply that the former puts more stress on the qualities and characteristics as known to us.

Thus ‘the Name’ means the whole Christ as we know Him, or as we may know Him, from the Book, in the dignity of His Messiahship, in the mystery of His Divinity, in the sweetness of His life, in the depth of His words, in the gentleness of His heart, in the patience and propitiation of His sacrifice, in the might of His resurrection, in the glory of His ascension, in the energy of His present life and reigning work for us at the right hand of God. All these, the central facts of the Gospel, are gathered together into that expression the Name, which is the summing up in one mighty word, so to speak, which it is not possible for a man to utter except in fragments, of all that Jesus Christ is in Himself, and of all that He is and does for us.

It is but a picturesque and condensed way of saying that Jesus Christ, in the depth of His nature and the width of His work, stands alone, and is the single, because the all-sufficient, Object of love and trust and obedience. There is no need for a forest of little pillars; as in some great chapter-house one central shaft, graceful as strong, bears the groined roof, and makes all other supports unnecessary and impertinent. There is one Name, and one alone, because in the depths of that wondrous nature, in the circumference of that mighty work, there is all that a human heart, or that all human hearts, can need for peace, for nobleness, for holiness, for the satisfaction of all desires, for the direction of efforts, for the stability of their being. The name stands alone, and it will be the only Name that, at last, shall blaze upon the page of the world’s history when the ages are ended; and the chronicles of earth, with the brief ‘ immortality’ which they gave to other names of illustrious men, are molded into dust. ‘The Name is above every name,’ and will outlast them all, for it is the all-sufficient and encyclopaedical embodiment of everything that a single heart, or the whole race, can require, desire, conceive, or attain.

So then, brethren, the uniqueness and solitariness of the name demands an equal and corresponding exclusiveness of devotion and trust in us. ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord thy God is one Lord. Therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.’ And in like manner we may argue -There is one Christ, and there is none other but He. Therefore all the current of my being is to set to Him, and on Him alone am I to repose my undivided weight, casting all my cares and putting all my trust only on Him. Lean on none other. You cannot lean too heavily on that strong arm. Love none other except in Him; for His heart is wide enough and deep enough for all mankind. Obey none other, for only His voice has the right to command. And lifting up our eyes, let us see ‘no man any more save Jesus only.’ That Name stands alone.

Involved in this, but worthy of briefly putting separately, is this other thought, that the pre-eminent and exclusive mention of the Name carries with it, in fair inference, the declaration of His Divine nature. It seems to me that we have here a clear case in which the Old Testament usage is transferred to Jesus Christ, only, instead of the Name being Jehovah, it is Jesus. It seems to me impossible that a man saturated as this Apostle was with Old Testament teaching, and familiar as he was with the usage which runs through it as to the sanctity of ‘the Name of the Lord,’ should have used such language as this of my text unless he had felt, as he has told us himself, that ‘the Word was God.’ And the very incidental character of the allusion gives it the more force as a witness to the commonplaceness which the thought of the divinity of Jesus Christ had assumed to the consciousness of the Christian Church.

II. But passing from that, let me ask you to look, secondly, at the power of the Name to sway the life.

I have explained the full meaning of the preposition in my text in my introductory remarks. It seems to me to cover both the ground of ‘on account of,’ or ‘ by reason of,’ and ‘on behalf of.’

Taking the word in the former of these two senses, note how this phrase, ‘for the sake of the Name,’ carries with it this principle, that in that Name, explained as I have done, there lie all the forces that are needed for the guidance and the impulses of life. In Him, in the whole fullness of His being, in the wonders of the story of His character and historical manifestation, there lies all guidance for men. He is the Pattern of our conduct. He is the Companion for us in our sorrow. He is the Quickener for us in all our tasks. And to set Him before us as our Pattern, and to walk in the paths that He dictates, is to attain to perfection. Whosoever makes ‘for the sake of the Name’ the motto of his life will not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

And not only is there guidance, but there is impulse, and that is better than guidance. For what men most of all want is a power that shall help or make them to do the things that they see plainly enough to be right.

And oh, brother, where is there such a force to quicken, to ennoble, to lead men to higher selves than their dead past selves, as lies in the grand sweep of that historical manifestation which we understand by the Name of Jesus? There is nothing else that will go so deep down into the heart and unseal the fountains of power and obedience as that Name. There is nothing else that will so strike the shackles off the prisoned will, and ban back to their caves the wild beasts that tyrannize within, and put the chain round their necks, as the Name of Jesus Christ. That is the Talisman that ennobles everything, that evokes undreamed-of powers, that ‘out of these stones,’ the hard and unsusceptible and obstinate wills of godless men, will ‘raise up children unto Abraham.’ This is the secret that turns the heavy lead of our corrupt natures into pure gold.

And where does the impulsive power lie? Where, in that great continent, the whole life and work of Jesus Christ, is the dominant summit from which the streams run down? The Cross! The Cross! The Love that died for us, individually and singly, as well as collectively, is the thing that draws out answering love. And answering love is the untiring and omnipotent power that transmutes my whole nature into the humble aspiration to he like Him who has given Himself for me, and to render back myself unto Him for His gift. Brother, if you have not known the Name of Christ as the Name of the Divine Saviour who died on the Cross for you, you do not yet understand the power to transform, to ennoble, to energize, to impel to all self-sacrifice that lies in that Name. In the fact of His death, and in the consequent fact of the communication of life from Him to each of us if we will, lie the great impulses which will blessedly and strongly carry us along the course which He marks out for us. And they who can say ‘.For the sake of the Name’ will live lives calm, harmonious, noble, and in some humble measure conformed to the serene and transcendent beauty to which they bow and on which they rest. The impulse for a life-the only one that will last, and the only one that will lift-lies in the recognition of the Name. And so, let me remind you how our consequent simple duty is honestly, earnestly, prayerfully, always, to try to keep ourselves under the influence of that sweet compulsion and mighty encouragement which lie in the Name of Jesus Christ. How fragmentary, how interrupted, how imperfect at the best are our yieldings to the power and the sweetness of the motives and pattern given to us in Christ’s Name! How much of our lives would be all the same if Jesus Christ never had come, or if we never had believed in Him! Look back over your days, Christian men, and see how little of them has borne that stamp, and how slightly it has been impressed upon them.

Our whole life ought to be filled with His Name. You can write it anywhere. It does not need a gold plate to carve His Name upon. It does not need to be set in jewels and diamonds. The poorest scrap of brown paper, and the bluntest little bit of pencil, and the shakiest hand, will do to write the Name of Christ; and all life, the trivialities as well as the crises, may be flashing and bright with the sacred syllables. Mohammedans decorate their palaces and mosques with no pictures, but with the name of Allah, in gilded arabesques. Everywhere, on walls and roof, and windows and cornices, and pillars and furniture, the name is written. There is no such decoration for a life as that Christ’s Name should be inscribed thereon.

III. Lastly, notice the service that even we can do to the Name.

That, as I said, is the direct idea of the Apostle here. He is speaking about a very small matter. There were some anonymous Christian people who had gone out on a little missionary tour, and in the course of it, penniless and homeless, they had come to a city the name of which we do not know, and had been taken in and kindly entertained by a Christian brother, whose name has been preserved to us in this one letter. And, says John, these humble men went out ‘on behalf of the Name ‘ to do something to further it, to advantage it! Jesus Christ, the bearer of the Name, was in some sense helped and benefited, if I may use the word, by the work of these lowly and unknown brethren.

Now there are one or two other instances in the New Testament where this same idea of the benefit accruing to the name of Jesus from His servants on earth is stated, and I just point to them in a sentence in order that you may have all the evidence before you. There is the passage to which I have already referred, recording the disciples’ joy that they were ‘accounted worthy to suffer shame on behalf of the Name.’ There are the words of Christ Himself in reference to Paul at his conversion, ‘I will shew him how great things he must suffer for My Name’s sake.’ There is the church’s eulogium on Barnabas and Paul, as ‘men that have hazarded their lives for the Name of our Lord Jesus.’ There is Paul’s declaration that he is ‘ready, not only to be bound, but to die, on behalf of the Name of the Lord Jesus.’ And in the introduction of the Epistle to the Romans he connects his apostleship with the benefit that thereby accrued to the Name of Christ. If we put all these together they just come to this, that, wonderful as it is, and unworthy as we are to take that great Name into our lips, yet, in God’s infinite mercy and Christ’s fraternal and imperial love, He has appointed that His Name should be furthered by the sufferings, the service, the life, and the death of His followers.

‘He was extolled with my tongue,’ says the Psalmist, in a rapture of wonder that any words of his could exalt God’s Name. So to you Christians is committed the charge of magnifying the name of Jesus Christ. You can do it by your lives, and you can do it by your words, and you are sent to do both. We can ‘adorn the doctrine’; paint the lily and gild the refined gold, and make men think more highly of our Lord by our exam pie of faithfulness and obedience. We can do it by our definite proclamation of His Name, which is laid upon us all to do, and for which facilities of varying degrees are granted. The inconsistencies of the professing followers of Christ are the strongest barriers to the world’s belief in the glory of His Name. The Church as it is forms the hindrance rather than the help to the world’s becoming a church. If from us sounded out the Name, and over all that we did it was written, blazing, conspicuous, the world would look and listen, and men would believe that there was something in the Gospel.

If you are a Christian professor, either Christ is glorified or put to shame in you, His saint; and either it is true of you that you do all things in the Name of the Lord Jesus and so glorify His Name, or that through you the Name of Christ is ‘blasphemed among the nations.’ Choose which of the two it shall be!

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.Because that for his name's sake - The word "his" here refers to God; and the idea is, that they had undertaken this journey not on their own account, but in the cause of religion.

They went forth - Or, "they have gone forth" - ἐξῆλθον exēlthon - referring to the journey which they had then undertaken; not to the former one.

Taking nothing of the Gentiles - The term "Gentile" embraced all who were not "Jews," and it is evident that these persons went forth particularly to labor among the pagan. When they went, they resolved, it seems, to receive no part of their support from them, but to depend upon the aid of their Christian brethren, and, hence, they were at first commended to the church of which Gaius and Diotrephes were members, and on this second excursion were commended particularly to Gaius. Why they, resolved to take nothing of the Gentiles is not stated, but it was doubtless from prudential considerations, lest it should hinder their success among them, and expose them to the charge of being actuated by a mercenary spirit. There were circumstances in the early propagation of Christianity which made it proper, in order to avoid this reproach, to preach the gospel "without charge," those to whom it is preached to contribute to its maintenance, and that it is the right of those who preach to expect and receive a support. On this subject, see the 1 Corinthians 9 notes, particularly 1 John 1:15, 1 John 1:18 notes.

7. his name's sake—Christ's.

went forth—as missionaries.

taking nothing—refusing to receive aught by way of pay, or maintenance, though justly entitled to it, as Paul at Corinth and at Thessalonica.

Gentiles—the Christians just gathered out by their labors from among the heathen. As Gaius himself was a Gentile convert, "the Gentiles" here must mean the converts just made from the heathen, the Gentiles to whom they had gone forth. It would have been inexpedient to have taken aught (the Greek "meden" implies, not that they got nothing, though they had desired it, but that it was of their own choice they took nothing) from the infant churches among the heathen: the case was different in receiving hospitality from Gaius.

Ver. 7,8. They went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles; it thence appears these were Jews, who went out from their own country to serve the interest of the gospel, which therefore he should serve in helping them.

Because that for his name's sake they went forth,.... From Judea; either of their own accord to preach the Gospel, or being drove out by the unbelieving Jews, for professing the name of Christ; and be it which it will, there was good reason why they should be regarded, and especially since they did as follows,

taking nothing of the Gentiles; even of those who were converted, though their preaching the Gospel, to whom they ministered, for of others, the unconverted Gentiles, they could not expect to receive; and this they did, as the apostles before them, because they would not be chargeable to them, and lest it should be thought they sought their own worldly interest, and not the good of souls and glory of Christ, and so a stumblingblock be laid in the way of the Gospel, to hinder the progress of it. The Ethiopic version reads this in the singular number, "and I went forth for his name's sake, taking nothing of the Gentiles".

Because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.
3 John 1:7. Confirmation of the exhortation that has been uttered: the brethren deserve such help, for, etc. ὑπὲρ γὰρ τοῦ ὀνόματος ἐξῆλθαν] With the Rec. reading: ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ, αὐτοῦ refers back to τοῦ Θεοῦ; but this αὐτοῦ is to be regarded as an interpolation; τὸ ὄνομα (without αὐτοῦ) is neither “the Christian doctrine or religion,” nor “the name of the brethren” (Paulus: “because they were called missionaries”), but “the name of Christ” (Lücke, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Sander, Braune, etc.), as in Acts 5:41 (according to the correct reading); comp. also Jam 2:7, and Ignatii ep. ad Ephes. cap. 3 and 7.

ὑπέρ is here used in the same sense as in Romans 1:6, and ἐξέρχεσθαι as in Acts 15:40 (Lücke, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Sander, Braune, etc.); so that the sense is: for the sake of the name of Christ, i.e. for the spread of it, they went forth (as missionaries). Several commentators (Beza, Schmidius, Bengel, Carpzovius, Wolf) connect ἐξῆλθαν with ἀπὸ τῶν ἐθνικῶν [ἔθνων] in the sense: expulsi sunt a paganis; but this idea is arbitrarily imported into ἐξῆλθαν;[20] besides, the connection with ἀπὸ τ. ἐθν. is unsuitable, because then the words ΜΗΔῈΝ ΛΑΜΒΆΝΟΝΤΕς remain too indefinite. The assertion of Wolf, that ΛΑΜΒΆΝΕΙΝ is not construed with ἈΠΌ, is refuted by Matthew 17:25. By the addition: ΜΗΔῈΝ ΛΑΜΒΆΝΟΝΤΕς ἈΠῸ ΤῶΝ ἘΘΝΙΚῶΝ, the necessity of assisting these brethren is brought out. The present participle is either used in the imperfect sense (3 John 1:3), or—as is more probable—it is used in order to indicate the μηδὲν λαμβάνειν ἀπὸ τ. ἐθν. as the maxim of these missionaries (so also Düsterdieck and Braune). It is very usual to regard this maxim as the same as that which Paul took for his, and of which he speaks in passages like 1 Corinthians 9:18; 2 Corinthians 11:7 ff; 2 Corinthians 12:16 ff.; 1 Thessalonians 2:9 ff.; but ἈΠῸ ΤῶΝ ἘΘΝΙΚῶΝ (= ἜΘΝΩΝ, comp. Matthew 6:7; Matthew 18:17) does not suit this; the maxim of Paul was not to make the care for his support an obligation on the Churches among which he laboured, but here it is heathen that are spoken of. It was by these that these missionary brethren would not allow themselves to be assisted, because they did not want to build up Christ’s work by the wealth of the heathen, but trusted to Christians that in Christian love they would provide for them what was needful.[21]

[20] Grotius, indeed, correctly connects ἀπὸ τ. ἐθν. with λαμβάνοντες, but interprets ἐξῆλθον: a Judaea ejecti sunt per Judaeos incredulos; the erroneous idea that the apostle considered the Jews as the antithesis of the Gentiles has clearly led him to this arbitrary interpretation.

[21] Ewald unsuitably deduces this maxim from the command of Christ, Matthew 10:8-10.

3 John 1:7. τοῦ Ὀνόματος, sc. of Jesus (cf. Acts 5:40-41). There is perhaps a reference to this verse in Ignat. ad Eph. 7:1: εἰώθασι γάρ τινες δόλῳ πονηρῷ τὸ ὄνομα περιφέρειν, ἄλλα τινὰ πράσσοντες ἀνάξια Θεοῦ. 3:1: δέδεμαι ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι. ἐξῆλθαν, sc. from Ephesus, the seat of the Apostle and therefore the headquarters of the Church in Asia Minor. Cf. Introd. p. 155. μηδέν, see note on 1 John 2:4. Winer (Moulton’s Winer, p. 463, note 1) draws a distinction, perhaps too fine, between λαμβάνειν παρά τινος and λαμβάνειν ἇπό τινος, The former would have been used here had the Gentiles “proferred an acknowledgment; the latter implies exaction. The missionaries might have accepted maintenance (Matthew 10:10), but like St. Paul they waived their right, “that they might cause no hindrance to the Gospel of Christ” (1 Corinthians 9).

7. Because that for his Name’s sake] Much more forcibly the true text (אABCKL), For for the sake of the Name: the ‘His’ is a weak amplification in several versions. A similar weakening is found in Acts 5:41, which should run, ‘Rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the Name.’ ‘The Name’ of course means the Name of Jesus Christ: comp. James 2:7. This use of ‘the Name’ is common in the Apostolic Fathers; Ignatius, Eph. iii., vii.; Philad. x.; Clem. Rom. ii., xiii.; Hermas, Sim. viii. 10, ix. 13, 28.

they went forth] Comp. Acts 15:40.

taking nothing of the Gentiles] Hence the necessity for men like Gaius to help. These missionaries declined to ‘spoil the Egyptians’ by taking from the heathen, and therefore would be in great difficulties if Christians did not come forward with assistance. We are not to understand that the Gentiles offered help which these brethren refused, but that the brethren never asked them for help. ‘The Gentiles’ (οἱ ἐθνικοί) cannot well mean Gentile converts. What possible objection could there be to receiving help from them? Comp. Matthew 5:47; Matthew 6:7; Matthew 18:17, the only other places where the word occurs. There was reason in not accepting money or hospitality at all, but working for their own living, as S. Paul loved to do. And there was reason in not accepting help from heathen. But there would be no reason in accepting from Jewish converts, but not from Gentile ones.

Some expositors render this very differently. ‘For for the Name’s sake they went forth from the Gentiles, taking nothing;’ i.e. they were driven out by the heathen, penniless. But ‘went forth’ is too gentle a word to mean this; and the negative (μηδέν not οὐδέν) seems to imply that it was their determination not to accept anything, not merely that as a matter of fact they received nothing. For ‘receive from’ in a similar sense comp. Matthew 17:25.

3 John 1:7. Τοῦ ὀνόματος, the name) Understand, of God: Leviticus 24:11. Comp. Jam 2:7.—[ἐξῆλθον, they went forth) either as exiles, or as preachers of the Gospel.—V. g.]—μηδὲν, nothing) They waived that to which they were justly entitled; and either received no reward for their labour, or submitted to the spoiling of their goods.—ἀπὸ, from) Construct this with they went forth.

Ver. 7. - For the sake of THE NAME. Such is the exact rendering of the true text; the insertion of "his" before "Name" weakens the effect. There was no need to say more. Just as to a Jew "the Name" must mean "Jehovah," so to a Christian "the Name" must mean "Jesus Christ" (comp. Acts 5:41; James 2:7). St. Ignatius writes to the Ephesians, "I am in bonds for the Name's sake" (3); and "Some are wont of malicious guile to hawk about the Name" (7); and again to the Philadelphians, "It is becoming for you, as a Church of God, to appoint a deacon to go thither as God's ambassador, that he may congratulate them when they are assembled together, and may glorify the Name" (10.). Taking nothing of the Gentiles, lest the heathen should suspect their motives, and think, "Like all the quack priests and philosophers, you make a mere trade of your doctrine, and preach to fill your bellies." Nothing wins men over so much as clear proofs of disinterestedness. The missionary who is suspected of self-seeking will preach in vain. That οἱ ἐθνικοί here must mean "heathen" seems clear from Matthew 5:47; Matthew 6:7; Matthew 18:17, the only other places in the New Testament where the word is found; moreover, the context requires it. There is no need to ask whether the word may not mean "Gentile Christians." The missionary brethren would, therefore, have been in great straits but for the courage and generosity of Gains; Diotrephes turned them out of doors and forbade others to succour them; and they themselves made it a rule not to ask for help from Gentiles. 3 John 1:7For His Name's sake (ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος)

His is supplied by the A.V. It is not in the text. Rev., correctly, for the sake of the Name. The Name (Jesus Christ) is used thus absolutely in Acts 5:41; compare James 2:7. For a similar absolute use of the way, see on Acts 4:2. See on 1 John 1:7.

Taking nothing of (μηδὲν λαμβάνοντες ἀπὸ)

For the phrase taking of, or from, see on 1 John 1:5.

The Gentiles (ἐθνικῶν)

This word occurs elsewhere only in the Gospel of Matthew. The more common word is ἔθνη, which is the reading of the Tex. Rec. here: ἐθνῶν. See on Luke 2:32.

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