3 John 1:8

Because that for his Name's sake they went forth, etc. The Bible is remarkable for its universality. Either directly or inferentially, it has something of importance and value to say on almost everything which affects human life and interests. It throws light on many modern questions; and in studying it we are often agreeably surprised to find directions and hints touching many things which we regard as quite modern, and concerning which we had not expected to find much suggestion or light in its pages. Thus in this short letter we have some apostolic notes on Christian missions, which are as applicable to missionary enterprise now as they were to the mission work of the Church eighteen hundred years ago. Here are notes on -

I. MISSIONARY WORKERS. "For the sake of the Name they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles." Notice:

1. The motive of these Christian missionaries. "For the sake of the Name they went forth." In all that we do we are actuated by some motive or motives. Christian work is no exception to this rule. In Christian propagandism there may be various motives; e.g., zeal for a cause or society, or for the spread of certain doctrines or forms of Church government, etc. Each of these is allowable in its place; but neither of them is the highest and best motive of Christian service. The most devoted workers in Christianity have a nobler motive than any one or all of these. "Go into a large manufacturing establishment. If you will notice carefully, you will perceive a large shaft running the whole length of the building. To this are attached wheels, and bands go from these wheels to other wheels, and in these is inserted short shafting, and to it are attached augers, saws, knives, and chisels; and by these an immense amount of mechanical work is done. But what is the cause of all this motion? Where is the secret power which makes all this machinery do the work of five hundred men? The answer is easily given. It is steam. Let the steam go down, and this whole machinery would become as still and silent as the grave" (C.M. Temple). And the grand motive power for working the machinery of Christianity is love to the Lord Jesus Christ; not zeal for doctrines, however sound, but love to a Person; not the desire to build up the Church, still less to extend a denomination or sect; but a passionate attachment to the living Lord of the Church. Christ himself is the life of Christianity. The great motive of the noblest Christian work is supreme love to him. "The love of Christ constraineth us" is the explanation of the best and bravest work which is done for men. There is no motive like love; and love to a person will always prove a stronger motive than love to a cause or a creed. When Christ is received into the heart he awakens its highest, holiest, intensest love. This love is the mightiest inspiration in Christian service. It can dare most, do most, endure most. The bravest workers go forth "for the sake of the Name" of Jesus Christ.

2. The policy of these Christian missionaries. "Taking nothing of the Gentiles." The apostles held and repeatedly asserted the principle "that they which proclaim the gospel should live of the gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:14). Our Lord taught the same truth: "The labourer is worthy of his food" (Matthew 10:10). But there were cases in which it was not expedient to enforce this principle. The gospel should be proclaimed without charge to those who know it not; for they cannot be expected to prize it before they are acquainted with it. Therefore these early missionaries, by "their own deliberate purpose," took nothing of the Gentiles to whom they went. If they had done otherwise, they might have been suspected of mercenary motives. We should always be able to say to the heathen, both at home and abroad, "I seek not yours, but you." "I coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel." But when the heathen are heathen no longer, but have learned to appreciate the gospel, we may say unto them, "If we sowed unto you spiritual things," etc. (1 Corinthians 9:11, 13, 14). In these respects the apostles and the early missionaries are an example for succeeding ages.

II. MISSIONARY HELPERS. "We therefore ought to welcome such, that we may be fellow-workers with the truth." This brings out the duty of the Church to missionary workers.

1. To support the missionaries. "We ought to receive such;" Revised Version, "to welcome;" Alford, "to support." The word signifies not only "to welcome," but "to aid and strengthen." And this should be done in a worthy manner - "worthily of God." Workers for Jesus Christ should be treated with kindness, generously entertained, and encouraged in their work. They need this from the Church. Without it they may "wax weary, fainting in their souls;" and in that case the work will suffer.

2. To cooperate with the missionaries. "That we might be fellow-helpers to the truth;" Revised Version, "that we may be fellow-workers with the truth;" Alford, "that we may become fellow-workers for the truth." The idea is that, by supporting the missionaries, Gains would become a fellow-worker with them in promoting the cause of the truth. This is stated as a reason why he should show kindness to them and help them. It is also clearly implied that it is the duty of the Christian to be a fellow-worker in the cause of the truth. Knowing the truth ourselves, we are morally bound to make it known to others. But there are many who cannot do this themselves by preaching or teaching. Then, according to St. John in our text, they should do it by encouraging and supporting those who can preach or teach. "In this way," says Binney, "Gains was enabled to do much; far more, in fact, in the way of preaching, than if he himself had been the most eloquent of preachers; for by aiding many, and helping them on their way and in their work, he was virtually speaking, at the same moment, by many mouths, and in the eye of God might be regarded as converting many souls in several places and at the same time, and when otherwise occupied himself - when he was engaged in his worldly business, at home in his family, asleep in his bed, at rest or on a journey, in sickness or in health, living or dead." Christians, behold your duty and privilege, to be either missionary workers or missionary helpers, - W.J.

For His name's sake they went forth.

1. Their motive: "for His name's sake" — for Christ's service.

2. Their conduct: "they went forth." With the gospel in his hand and the Saviour in his heart he makes his way through burning deserts and the howling wilderness, braving the rage of climates.

3. Their disinterestedness: "taking nothing" of those to whom they are sent. When an artisan or commercial man quits his native country for foreign lands it is in the hope of making a fortune; or when a navigator undertakes an arduous voyage of discovery, it is with the hope of immortalising his name. Not so the Christian missionary.

II. THE POWERFUL AND ENCOURAGING MOTIVES which we have to "be fellow-helpers to the truth" by contributing towards the great work of propagating the gospel.

1. It is the command of our Divine Redeemer: "Go ye into all the world," etc.

2. Every intelligent and responsible being needs the gospel, which alone can supply all his moral and spiritual wants.


1. There is a widely-kindling zeal for the diffusion of knowledge, on the one hand, and an evident eagerness to receive instruction on the other.

2. The facilities for propagating the gospel are now greater than ever.



(T. H. Home, B. D.)


1. They were well principled. This appears from their going forth, not only at the command of Jesus Christ, but "for His name's sake."

2. They were active amidst scenes of hardship. "They went forth."


1. We are "fellow-helpers" to the truth when we suggest what is calculated to animate Christian ministers in their sacred career.

2. We are "fellow-helpers to the truth" when we contribute to the pecuniary support of Christian ministers.

3. We are "fellow-helpers to the truth" when we intercede earnestly on behalf of ministers, and of all whom they endeavour to bring to the knowledge of the truth.

(O. A. Jeary.)

The Weekly Pulpit.
I. THE MOTIVE. To feel a strong compassion for perishing souls is a good incentive, but to work for the glory of God is better.

1. The glorious name. Its lustre is on every page of history.

2. The gracious name. "And His name shall be called Jesus."

3. The enduring name. As long as the sun will shine in the heavens.

II. THE ENTERPRISE. They went forth to proclaim this name.

1. An enterprise of self-sacrifice. Every earthly prospect was abandoned.

2. An enterprise of peril. Not only danger arising from natural causes, but from persecution. It meant possibly death.

3. Consequently an enterprise of faith.

III. THE DISCRETION. They accepted no hospitality from those who might have misunderstood their motive. They were careful that nothing should hinder the work. Prosperity as well as work was their aim.

(The Weekly Pulpit.)

In all the older manuscripts the phrase is, "For the name's sake." The meaning is the same, but the expression of it is more striking in the general form.

I. "FOR THE NAME'S SAKE" IS THE AVAILING PLEA IN ACCEPTABLE PRAYER. God has revealed Himself in Christ. The name is the character; the name of God is the character of God as manifested among men. He has got Himself a glorious name, and our knowledge of that name has been completed, rounded, fulfilled, alone in Christ. To pray in His name, therefore, is to recognise God in Him, in His whole personality, in His whole history, in what He has done and suffered on our behalf.

II. "FOR THE NAME'S SAKE" IS IN A PRE-EMINENT DEGREE THE SPRING AND MOTIVE POWER OF HOLY OBEDIENCE. This is the meaning of the text in its own connection. These men went forth in a spirit of self-consecration that asked no questions, that fixed no limits; they went forth to tell the world the news. And they lived upon the news they told. When they had plenty of outward comfort it was hallowed by the "name." When they had no comfort the gospel was compensation. The gospel would be benefited by their self-denial — that settled the question in a moment. Nor was this a transient impulse pertaining exclusively to the very earliest days. It multiplied itself in great numbers of instances, it continued from age to age. The whole secret of such loyalty, of such endurance, of life so unselfish, so divine, lay in this — "For the name's sake." Nor let any one say that in this matter we live upon the past, and that we are always speaking of a glory that has faded from among men. Answer ye graves of missionaries on Indian plains! and ye martyrs for Christ lately slain. Ye glorious company of consecrated souls! You and your labours are more to the city, and more precious to the State, than bridges and viaducts, and queenly procession and regal pomp. What essentially is this Christian service? It means the consecration of the redeemed self in wholeness to the glory of Christ and to the service of our fellow-men under Him. The love of Christ has this perfectly unique peculiarity, that it is the love of God and the love of man in one; and when, "for the name's sake," we give ourselves to God and live to God, then we are swayed by this all-comprehending love. And just as surely as we are so, "we are more than conquerors." For love is invincible. Of what importance, then, must it be to a Christian to be full of love, full of the love of Christ to him, full of quick answering love to Christ, full of the power of "the name."

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

Fellow-helpers to the truth
I. WE ARE "FELLOW-HELPERS TO THE TRUTH" WHEN WE YIELD OURSELVES TO THE INFLUENCE OF TRUTH. The most powerful agencies only effect their work through co-operation.

II. WE ARE "FELLOW-HELPERS TO THE TRUTH" AS WE SHOW ITS POWER IN OUR LIVES. If you want to judge of the electric light you go and see it in operation, and as you see mansions, halls, and streets illuminated, you are impressed with the greatness and utility of the discovery more than you would be by all the writers and lecturers who attempt to describe its merits. So, when you see a man temperate, upright, and benevolent, happy amidst surrounding ills, patient in suffering, gentle under opposition, firm in upholding what is right, you see what education cannot do, what human effort cannot accomplish — what can only be realised and exhibited by those who know and receive the truth. You are impressed, convinced, led to admire and desire the same experience yourselves.


IV. WE MAY BE, AND OUGHT TO BE, "FELLOW-HELPERS TO THE TRUTH" BY PERSONAL AND PECUNIARY CONTRIBUTIONS. We should be, like Caius, hospitable and generous. Men are honoured who fight the battles of their country, who make discoveries in science, who improve the arts of civilised life; but I tell you to have lived the truth, to have contributed to the advancement of the truth, will count for more in the eternity of the future than all the wreaths of honour that victors ever won or all the wealth that the millionaire has ever amassed.

(R. Sewell.)

What distinguishing honour has God put upon His chosen that He not only makes them partakers of His grace, but instruments for communicating that grace to others? Not the intellectual and the learned alone, not the bishop and the priest alone, but the weak and the despised.

I. THE PRECIOUS TREASURE CONFIDED TO THE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST. "The Truth." It is the Truth of God. Not merely as all truth may be said to be of God. It is not truth as gathered up from the works of God, it is not truth as wrought out by the efforts of human reason, it is not truth as discovered by investigating the mysterious page of providence, of which the apostle speaks, but it is the Truth revealed by God Himself. The Truth of God. Because "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God." The Truth of God: which He has authenticated by incontestable miracles, to which He has given the stamp and character of His own glory. The Truth of God: because, as God hath recorded it, so God conveys it to the believing mind and heart. It is written, "All thy children shall be taught of God." It is the Truth of God that is entrusted to us, and it is the truth touching eternity. Take away this simple word and you take from the world all its moral, spiritual, eternal light. It is, too, the truth unto salvation. It does not merely reveal our origin, our duty, our destiny; it does not merely unfold to us the law that we have transgressed; it does not merely thus reveal to man what will deepen his guilt and darken his doom; but it does all this to prepare the way for the disclosures of that unspeakable work — the redemption of lost mankind through the incarnation, death, and blood of God's own Son.

II. WHAT IS THE DUTY OF THOSE TO WHOM GOD HAS CONFIDED SO UNTOLD A TREASURE? what is their duty towards that truth? "We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow-helpers to the truth." And first of all, it is clear, our duty is to "receive the truth in the love of it" for our own souls. What mean we to aid in building the ark if we ourselves do not enter it? But if we "receive the truth in the love of it," it is clear from the whole tendency of the gospel that we shall look upon that truth us a treasure confided to us us stewards, and "it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful." The truth is evidently not designed for the few, but for the many; not for some one chosen nation, but for the whole world. There is no exclusiveness in the gospel. Then "the truth as it is in Jesus" cannot communicate itself. God has made no provision for the truth to be self-propagated. He hath not ordained that it should be so much spread abroad by the written hook as that it should be proclaimed principally by the living voice. It is dear, therefore, that the truth is confided to the Church, that the Church may be "fellow-helper to the truth," aiding it in its glorious career; giving it its chariot in which it may ride on "conquering and to conquer"; supplying, if we may so speak, the gale that is to spread the sails of the vessel, freighted with the "pearl of great price," that it may bear it round the world.

III. HOW CAN WE DISCHARGE OURSELVES OF THIS RESPONSIBILITY? and how can the lowliest amongst us discharge his duty in this high matter?

(H. Stowell, M. A.)

1. By speaking friendly to the preachers of the truth. Hezekiah spake comfortably to the Levites, which was a cheering of their hearts, as the word importeth.

2. By a private instructing of others, as Priscilla and Aquila did Apollos. Householders that catechise their families are great fellow-helpers to the truth.

3. As they that made apologies for them.

4. By pulling them out of dangers. So they that let down Paul in a basket through the wall of Damascus were fellow-helpers to the truth that Paul preached.

5. By helping them to their maintenance. So did Hezekiah by commanding the people to pay their tithes and offerings to the priests and Levites, whereby they were encouraged in the law of the Lord (2 Chronicles 31:4).

6. By ministering temporal things to them, by receiving the preachers of the truth into our houses, by relieving of their necessities, by affording them all the comfort we can, by sending to them if they be in distress.

(W. Jones, D. D.)

In the old coaching days, before railways were as common as they are now, I observed a notice about the amount of first, second, and third-class fares upon one of these coaches. As the seats all appeared alike, I took a third-class ticket, expecting to be as well off as those with second or first-class tickets, and beside that, I should have the satisfaction of having saved my money. However, at the foot of a steep hill the driver stopped, and shouted in stentorian tones, "First-class passengers keep your seats; second-class passengers get out and walk; third-class passengers push behind." Let us all be third-class passengers, not sitting at ease looking on while others do the work, nor walking off from it, but pushing behind with all our might, and so helping and encouraging the often overworked and overstrained leaders who are bearing the burden and heat of the day.

(F. Clarkson.)

Demetrius, Diotrephes, Gaius, John
TRUE, Faith, Fellow, Fellowhelpers, Fellow-helpers, Fellow-workers, Guests, Hospitality, Ought, Promoting, Receive, Support, Truth, Welcome, Workers
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 1:8

     7025   church, unity
     7925   fellowship, among believers
     8445   hospitality

3 John 1:5-8

     7924   fellowship, in service

3 John 1:5-10

     8446   hospitality, duty of

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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