Bible Query from
Q: Just saw a few of your videos on youtube. Would you be able to explain 3 Jn 2 and Prov 10:22? I am not sure how important the original languages are to us or which translation has it correct. Can you tell me how, or if I can apply these verses to my life?
I did not see any interesting translation issues in these verses. Wuest's Expanded Translation of the New Testament more fully brings out verb tenses, and this is what it has for 3 John 2: "Beloved, in all things I am praying that you will be prospering, and that you will be continually having good health just as your soul is prospering."
The first part of 3 John 2 shows that it is fine to pray for good health for others and yourself. The in the last part, the phrase "your soul is getting along well" means that as a believer you both faithful to the truth you know, as well as continuing on in progress in the truth. The last part implies you are (or should be) walking close to the Lord, having good times of prayer with Him, studying His word, loving Him, loving others, and in short, everything that Christians are to be experiencing and doing. The connection between the first part and last part indicates that your soul getting along well is even a higher priority than your health. John did not say I hope you enjoy good physical health regardless of your spiritual condition, but rather that your spiritual condition be well, and your physical health be well like that.
But being an obedient Christian does not mean you will have good health all the time. Epaphroditus, companion of Paul was very ill and came close to death in Philippians 2:25-27. Paul himself was ill, and God used that circumstance for him to preach to the Galatians in Galatians 4:13. When Timothy had frequent stomach illnesses, Paul did not say in this case "come so that I (or God) can heal you" but rather "take a little wine because of your frequent stomach illnesses in 1 Timothy 5:23. Elisha, who did so many miracles, suffered from an illness, which killed him in 2 Kings 13:14. Daniel was ill for several days after receiving a vision in Daniel 8:27.
So a Christian should not expect never to get sick.
We should pray to God for health for ourselves and others.
It is fine to go to doctors for medicine and cures.
God supernaturally healed people of disease in the past, and God supernaturally heals people today.
We should not make an idol out of health, and seek the Giver more than just His gifts.
While God wants most of all for us to be spiritually wealthy, Proverbs 10:22 refers to God blessing us with material wealth too. This is not a guarantee for every Christian; otherwise what about Paul the apostle, who never had a lot of material wealth? God gives Christians what they need to exist, but Proverbs 10:22 uses the word "wealth" which indicates an abundance beyond what we and our family barely need. Why would God want to gives us that? - so that we could glorify God by giving back to him to help others. In fact, it seems that God does not directly give some Christians what they need to survive, and an over-abundance to others, so that the second group and testify to God's love overflowing in their hearts by being the instruments God uses to supply the needs of believers who by themselves are lacking what is needed. If you are in the latter group, pray that you be both wise and diligent giving where God intended you to give.
Wealth is different from many gifts of God, because it is so easy to become a curse. Wealth itself is not bad, or Proverbs 10:22 would not have been written. Abraham was actually an extremely wealthy man, both by ancient times and modern. Yet, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:9-10). If God only gives us the food and clothes we need, we should be content with that (1 Timothy 6:8). Many have turned away from the faith due to money (1 Timothy 6:9) including Gideon in the Old Testament. In fact, unwisely giving someone in need far more money than they need is can be a deadly spiritual trap for them.
If you ask God for something, whether it be knowledge, a healing, money, or something, else, examine yourself; why are you asking? Is it to glorify God, and to satisfy your selfish pride, greed or other desires? Or is it solely for you to glorify God. If your own selfish desires are a part of it, then you need to cleanse your heart first, then, if God still wants you to ask, then ask. If you wanted a lot of wealth so that you could help missionaries, for example, would you be equally joyful if God positively answered your prayer, by giving a huge amount of money to someone else, and you did not see a dime of it, and they helped the missionaries instead of you? If you would be even slightly less joyful, then you need to check your heart.
Q: In 3 Jn 1, did John treat Gaius as an ally who will support John against Diotrephes, the leader of another faction, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.1171 says?
A: No. There is no evidence for this idea that John, an apostle of Jesus, was in need of allies for himself. However, John was likely writing to indirectly ask Gaius's support for Demetrius against Diotrephes.
Q: In 3 Jn 2, does "I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you" show that all Christians ought to be healthy and rich?
A: No. Prosperity teachers might try to use this verse to teach this error, but every mention of health and well-being does not mean we are to think of God primarily in terms of the health and good things He gives us. John was praying for their well-being in every way. The Bible has nothing against wealthy believers, such as Abraham, as long as they do not love money. See When Cultists Ask p.303 for more info.
Q: In 3 Jn 7 (KJV), should the word be "Gentiles" or "pagans" as in other translations?
A: The word, in isolation, could be translated either way. However, the context here is unbelievers, pagans, or heathen as the Williams Translation. Paul did often receive help from Gentile Christians. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.750-752 for more info.
Q: In 3 Jn 7, should Christians accept anything from "Gentiles"? How about a paycheck?
A: Christians can accept things from Gentiles and non-believers in general. Two points here.
1. It describes people who were going forth to share the Gospel. In general, it would be strange for full-time Christian workers to be paid by non-Christians. (Though this is done in state-sponsored churches, such as in Norway, Great Britain, and so forth.)
2. John was mentioning this to shame Christians who were refusing to help other Christians who were sharing the Gospel. Even today, there are genuine Christians who refuse to associate with other Christians in evangelism. One unfortunate excuse I heard was, "they might sing songs that are not doctrinally correct." Yet, they were not willing to look over the songs in advance and come to an agreement.
Geisler and Howe in When Critics Ask p.547, after stating this applies to ministering the Gospel, add that this is "descriptive, not prescriptive." In other words, John did not say, "I command you never to take money from pagans." Rather, John mentioned that as an example for us to follow, in his ministering, he did not take money from pagans. See also Hard Sayings of the Bible p.750-751 for more info.
Q: In 3 Jn 9, how could Diotrephes be a leader in God's church?
A: Unfortunately, history has shown it was all too easy for a false brother to become a leader of Christians. People did not to wait for history to show them this, though. Paul expressly prophesied this in Acts 20:29-31 and 2 Timothy 4:3-5.
Q: In 3 Jn 11 and 1 Jn 2:29, how is it that "anyone who does what is good is from God"?
A: We have to answer the question "what is good?" before we can answer this question. Mark 10:18 says that only God is good. Good in this context means what is pleasing to God, and Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith, it is impossible to please God.
Since Diotrephes was doing evil in 3 John 9-10, John was saying these words in 3 John 11 to indirectly show why Diotrephes was not from God. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.752-753 for more info.
Q: In 3 Jn 12, is Demetrius the same person named Demetrius in Acts 19:242?
A: We do not know, but most likely not. Demetrius was a common Greek name.
Q: In 3 Jn, how do we know if what we have today is a reliable preservation of what was originally written?
A: There are at least three reasons.
1. God promised to preserve His word in Isaiah 55:10-11; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25; and Matthew 24:35.
2. Evidence of the early church. No writers referred to 3 John by name or any of the 14 verses prior to Nicea. Here is what they did say.
(disputed) Origen (225-254 A.D.) "What are we to say of him who leaned on Jesus' breast, namely, John, who left one Gospel, though confessing that he could make so many that the world would not contain them? But he wrote also the Apocalypse, being commanded to be silent and not to write the voices of the seven thunders. But he also left an epistle of very few lines. Suppose also a second and a third, since not all pronounce these to be genuine; but the two together do not amount to a hundred lines." Commentary on John from the fifth book.5 no.3 p.346-347
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.) discusses at length the views of Dionysius of Alexandria on questions relating to 2 and 3 John, as well as whether or not Revelation was by the same John as the Gospel and 1 John. Fragment 1 ch.4-5 in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History (319-339/340 A.D.) book 7 ch.25 p.309-310.
Note that the Muratorian Canon (c.170 A.D.) only mentions two letters of John.
Eusebius of Caesarea (319-339/340 A.D.) discusses at length the views of Dionysius of Alexandria on questions relating to 2 and 3 John, as well as whether or not Revelation was by the same John as the Gospel and 1 John. Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History book 7 ch.25 p.309-310.
Athanasius (367 A.D.) does not refer to any specific verses in 1,2,3 John, but he lists the books of the New Testament in Festal Letter 39 p.552
Hilary of Poitiers (355-367/368 A.D.)
Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (350-370 A.D. or 5th century) mentions three books of John as part of the New Testament. It quotes all of 3 John 1.
Ambrosiaster (c.384 A.D.) alludes to 3 John
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) (implied) mentions the seven epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude. Catechetical Lectures Lecture 4 ch.36 p.27-28
Gregory of Nyssa (c.356-397 A.D.) says "John in one of his Catholic Epistles" and quotes 1 John 2:1. This indicates there were other epistles too. Against Eunomius book 2 ch.14 p.128
Epiphanius of Salamis (c.360-403 A.D.) (Implied)
Pope Innocent I of Rome (c.405 A.D.)
Rufinus (374-406 A.D.)
Council of Carthage (218 bishops) 393-419 A.D.)
Jerome (373-420 A.D.) quotes all of 3 John 1 as by John. Letters of Jerome Letter 146 ch.1 p.288
John of Damascus (706-749 A.D.) "...seven Catholic epistles, viz. one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude..." Exposition of the Orthodox Faith book 4 ch.17 p.90
Among heretics and spurious books
X Pelagian Theodore of Mopsuestia (392-423/429 A.D.) rejected James through Jude.
3. Earliest manuscripts we have of 3 John show there are small manuscript variations, but no theologically significant errors.
p74 (=Bodmer 17) Acts 1:2-5,7-11,13-15,18-19,22-25; 2:2-4; 2:6-3:26; 4:2-6,8-27; 4:29-27:25; 27:27-28:31; James 1:1-6,8-19,21-23,25,27; 2:1-3,5-15; 18-22, 25-26; 3:1,5-6,10-12,14,17-18; 4:8,11-14; 5:1-3,7-9,12-14,19-20; 1 Peter 1:1-2,7-8,13,19-20,25; 2:6-7,11-12,18,24; 3:4-5; 2 Peter 2:21; 3:4,11,16; 1 John 1:1,6; 2:1-2,7,13-14,18-19,25-26; 3:1-2,8,14,19-20; 4:1,6-7,12,16-17;5:3-4,9-10,17; 2 John 1,6-7,13; 3 John 6,12; Jude 3,7,12,18,24 (7th century)
7th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament has James 2:4 and 1 Peter 1:12
7th century - 1975 - Aland et al. third edition
6th century - 1998 - Aland et al. fourth revised edition
Vaticanus [B] (325-350 A.D.) and Alexandrinus [A] (c.450 A.D) have all of 3 John.
Sinaiticus [Si] (340-350 A.D.), has all of 3 John on one page, sharing the page with the end of 2 John and the start of Jude.
Bezae Cantabrigiensis [D] (c.450-550 A.D.) has preserved 3 John 11-15.
Bohairic Coptic [Boh] 3rd/4th century
Sahidic Coptic [Sah] 3rd/4rth century
Ephraemi Rescriptus [C] 5th century
Armenian [Arm] from 5th century
Georgian [Geo] from 5th century
Ethiopic [Eth] from c.500 A.D.
See www.BibleQuery.org/3jnMss.html for more on early manuscripts of 3 John.
For more info please contact Christian Debater™ P.O. Box 144441 Austin, TX 78714. www.BibleQuery.org