3 John 1:12
Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also testify for him, and you know that our testimony is true.
A Good NameW. Jones, D. D.3 John 1:12
DemetriusS. Cox, D. D.3 John 1:12
The Christian Character Will Stand Every TestThe Weekly Pulpit3 John 1:12
The Aged Presbyter's Letter to a Private Church-MemberR. Finlayson 3 John 1: 1-14
Imitating the GoodW. Jones 3 John 1: 11, 12

I wrote unto the Church: but Diotrephes, etc.

I. THE CHARACTER OF DIOTREPHES BRIEFLY STATED. "Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them." We do not know who or what this man was beyond what is stated in our text. Whether he was pastor, elder, deacon, or other office-bearer in the Church, we cannot tell. Whatever he was in other respects, we know that he was ambitious of the highest place and of the greatest power in the Church: he would be first and chief of all, or he would be nothing. An evil and dangerous character in any one. "Before honour is humility." "A man's pride shall bring him low; but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit." "Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord." "Pride goeth before destruction," etc. "Whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister [or, 'servant']; and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant [or, 'bondservant']; even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto," etc. The chiefship is to be given, not to him who loveth to be first, but to him who most humbly and faithfully serves others. "For every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." "Humility is the surest path to exaltation." "The highest honour is won by the deepest humility." He who will be first of all, or nothing, will in the end be last and lowest of all.


1. He rejected the highest commendation. "I wrote somewhat unto the Church: but Diotrephes... receiveth us not." He would not recognize the authority of St. John, and rejected the letter of commendation which the apostle had sent to the Church. Neither would he receive the missionaries, and that probably because St. John commended them, and he would acknowledge no one to be greater than himself in the Church to which he belonged. He was determined "that not the apostle, but himself, should rule the Church."

2. He defamed the fairest reputation. "Prating against us with wicked words." Here are two evils, and one worse than the other.

(1) Loquacity. "Prating" - running on with speech. "The reproaches were mere tattle, worth nothing, irrelevant." "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin." "Be slow to speak." "If any man bridleth not his tongue, this man's religion is vain." Beware of the slavery of the tongue, and the sin of gab.

(2) Slander. "With wicked words." The holiest man is exposed to the venom of the tongue of the slanderer. Arrogance leads to terrible extremes; it dares to calumniate the most beautiful-spirited apostle. When a man has done wrong to another, he finds it necessary either to confess the wrong or to say false and wicked things against him he has wronged, hoping thereby to justify himself. So Diotrephes prated against St. John with wicked words. Therefore beware of the first wrong step. The slanderer frequently assails the best of men. Our Lord was thus attacked. "A gluttonous man and a wine-bibber." "He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the demons casteth he out the demons."

"No might nor greatness in mortality
Can censure 'scape; back-wounding calumny
The whitest virtue strikes: what king so strong
Can tie the gall up in the slanderous tongue?"


"Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow,
Thou shalt not escape calumny."

(Ibid.) Be not dismayed if you are thus assailed. Loathe this sin.

3. He prohibited the exercise of a sacred privilege and duty. "Neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and them that would he forbiddeth," etc. He would neither receive the missionaries himself nor allow others to do so. "The dog in the manger" is the best exponent of his spirit and conduct. He prevented some from doing two things which are at once duties and privileges:

(1) exercising hospitality to the "brethren and strangers;"

(2) aiding them in their work of evangelization.

How terribly evil was the course he pursued! He injured the apostle, the missionaries, those who would have received them, those to whom they were sent, the whole Church, and the Church's Lord; and yet he was a member of the Church, and the chief man in it! He went so far as to expel from the Church those who would have entertained the evangelists. "And casteth them out of the Church."

III. THE CHARACTER AND CONDUCT OF DIOTREPHES CONDEMNED. In this letter they are justly censured. And further rebuke is referred to: "If I come, I will bring to remembrance his works which he doeth," etc. There is nothing vindictive in this. The apostle would vindicate his own authority and the commission of the missionaries, enlighten the Church, and rebuke Diotrephes. "There are awkward men in the Church; men who, if they have any grace at all, have so much of the devil in them still that their grace has but little control over them. Good men should resist such persons. It may be very pleasant to talk of dealing with them in a spirit of charity, and being gentle with them, and forbearing and kind. Up to a certain point this is perfectly right. There is a work which compassion has to do; there is a sphere in which pity may be called into active exercise; at the same time, we are to mark those who cause divisions and offences, and to avoid them; and there is a certain class of men on whom pity has no effect, and compassion is lost; and the only thing which can be done is to 'deliver them over unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme'" (Dr. Joseph Parker). One masterful, power-loving man in a Church may work incalculable mischief and injury; therefore

(1) let us guard against the presence or growth of such a spirit in ourselves;

(2) let us take heed that we afford no encouragement or countenance to such a spirit in others. - W.J.

Demetrius hath good report of all men.
The Weekly Pulpit.
1. The test of public opinion. All men had a good word for Demetrius. But there are antipathies in the worldly mind; how, then, can we expect an unbiassed judgment? We answer that truth must vanquish error as the light does the darkness. Dishonesty can only obtain a temporary triumph over integrity (1 Peter 2:12).

2. The test of the Word of God. The standard of character is the law of the Lord. We use the Bible for comparison as well as for instruction. It is a mirror in which to see our true condition.

3. The test of Church fellowship. Christians know each other intimately, and as such they know each other's failings; yea, and they know the difficulties which beset a holy life. To have a good word from those who thus know us testifies to the genuineness of our character.

4. The test of the final judgment.

(The Weekly Pulpit.)

An evangelist, possibly a prophet, animated by a most self-sacrificing and disinterested spirit, which sprang from an ardent love for Christ the Saviour of men, Demetrius won for himself a threefold testimony.

1. He won "the witness of all," says St. John, i.e., the witness of all good men, of all who were capable of appreciating goodness. Even those who rejected his message had nothing to allege against the man, save the sublime folly of a perilous and unprofitable enthusiasm; while those who accepted it from him, or had already accepted it from other lips, could not but admire the fineness of his spirit and the fire of his zeal.

2. More, and better still, he won "the testimony of the truth itself." For he who daily sets his life upon the die that he may be true to his convictions, he who, moved by the grace and love of Christ, seeks not his own things, but the things of others; he who devotes himself with burning zeal and all-enduring courage to the service of truth and the salvation of men — to him the truth itself, which has made him what he is, bears witness. Men do not despise ease and a sure provision for their daily wants; they do not daily affront every form of danger and loss, for truths, or beliefs, which have no real, no vital, hold upon them. "They who do such things as these declare plainly"; they "make it manifest" that they are the servants of a truth, which they love more than they love them selves. It is the truth itself which speaks through them, and bears witness to them.

3. Last of all, St. John adds his own testimony to that of the previous witnesses: "We also bear witness." And any man who has devoted himself to the service and spread of a truth which has not met with wide or general recognition will understand the special charm which this testimony would exert on Demetrius. A very noble character, on which, simply by describing it, St. John has pronounced a very noble eulogium. Let me also remind you that great as Demetrius looks to us — great in his disinterestedness, his devotion, his zeal — he was not a man of any great mark in the primitive Church. It is not some hero of distinction, some honoured and beloved man of spiritual genius, whom I have tried to place before you; but a man of whom we should never have heard but for the prating insubordination of Diotrephes.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

There be two things which we ought all to procure — a good conscience in respect of God, and a good name in regard of men.

1. A good name is sweet and comfortable; it is preferred before the most precious things that men have in greatest estimation (Proverbs 22:3).

2. It is profitable. A good name maketh the bones fat. A good name maketh a man fat; he eats, he drinks, he sleeps the better for it.

3. It secures a man while he is alive; they that have a bad report for their injurious dealing are maligned; they go, in some sort, in danger of their lives; they that have a good report walk cheerfully and safely.

4. It is a consolation to a man, even on his deathbed; he hath the less, then, to vex and trouble his mind.

5. It leaves a sweet savour after us; when we be dead it is an odoriferous ointment; the house will smell of it a good while after. Therefore let us so live, that we may be well reported of, so far as it is possible of all men. I say, so far as it is possible; for in truth it is impossible; the best of us all must make account to pass through good report and ill report into the kingdom of heaven.

(W. Jones, D. D.)

Demetrius, Diotrephes, Gaius, John
TRUE, Approval, Bear, Borne, Character, Demetrius, Deme'trius, Express, Itself, Received, Record, Report, Speak, Spoken, Testify, Testimony, Truth, Witness, Yea, Yes
1. He commends Gaius for his piety,
5. and hospitality,
7. to true preachers;
9. complaining of the unkind dealing of ambitious Diotrephes on the contrary side;
11. whose evil example is not to be followed;
12. and gives special testimony to the good report of Demetrius.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
3 John 1:12

     1462   truth, in NT
     5594   tribute
     5769   behaviour
     8495   witnessing

The Books of the New Testament
[Sidenote: The Author.] The author describes himself as "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ" (i. 1). Few books of the New Testament are so well attested as this Epistle. The external evidence for its authenticity is strong, and stronger than that for any other Catholic Epistle except 1 John. It seems to be quoted in Didache, i. 4. The letter of Polycarp written about A.D. 110 shows a complete familiarity with 1 Peter. He evidently regarded it as a letter of the highest authority. His contemporary
Leighton Pullan—The Books of the New Testament

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