3rd letter of John

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New Testament
Acts of the Apostles
Paul's letters
Catholic letters

The 3rd Letter of John is the last of three New Testament letters in the Bible that are ascribed to the Evangelist John .


The 3rd letter of John is with 218 words (after Nestle-Aland 28 ) the shortest letter in the New Testament. Who wrote it is controversial among theologians . Tradition sees John the Evangelist as the author. But this is disputed by many who ascribe the letter either to the presbyter John, who is mentioned by Papias , or to another student of the Johannine school .

Depending on theological doctrine, the date of writing is set at 50 AD to about 130 AD. Ephesus is the place of composition .

Structure and content

The letter is structured like a classic antique private letter, but with the difference that the salutatio , i.e. the usual greeting in the introduction, is missing.

Letter prescript

At the beginning of the letter, in the so-called letter prescript , there is the superscriptio , i.e. the sender information . Only πρεσβύτερος = "The Elder" or "The Old One" is given as the sender, without any further naming. The recipient is a Gaius, about whom nothing else is found in the New Testament.


The actual main part of the letter, the so-called corpus , can be divided into four sections:

  • In the first section, vv. 5-8, the author makes a request to Gaius: He should support the traveling missionaries on their journey
  • In the second section, verses 9-10, the author mentions Diotrephes, a member of the ward who does not recognize the author's authority and refuses to support the missionaries.
  • The third section, v. 11, has a chiastic structure:
Beloved don't imitate the bad
but the good.
He who does good is from God.
Whoever does evil has not seen God.
  • In the fourth section, v.12, a third person is introduced, Demetrius, who is described very positively by the author. This verse prompts some theologians to see a letter of recommendation in 3rd John.

Closing letter

The letter deadline is 13–15 after the corpus. The end of the letter consists of the declaration of intent that the author is planning to visit Gaius (v. 13-15) and the final greeting in v. 15.


  • Udo Schnelle, Introduction to the New Testament , 5th ed., Göttingen 2005, pp. 492–498, ISBN 3-8252-1830-9 .
  • Wolfgang Baur, first, second and third Johannesbrief , Stuttgart small commentary, vol. 17, Stuttgart 1991, ISBN 3-460-15471-3 .
  • Rudolf Schnackenburg, Die Johannesbriefe , Herder's theological commentary on the New Testament XIII, 3, 7th edition, Freiburg 1984, ISBN 3-451-01150-6 .
  • Rudolf Bultmann, Die Drei Johannesbriefe , Critical-Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Dept. XIV - 2nd edition of the new interpretation, Göttingen 1969.
  • Hans-Josef Klauck: The second and third letters of John , Evangelical-Catholic Commentary on the New Testament XXIII, 2, Neukirchen-Vluyn 1992, ISBN 3-7887-1420-4 .
  • Georg Strecker, Die Johannesbriefe , Critical-exegetical commentary on the New Testament, XIV. Abbot, Göttingen: Vandenhœck & Ruprecht 1989, ISBN 3-525-51621-5

See also

Web links

Commons : 3rd Letter of John  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files


  1. Klaus Berger : Commentary on the New Testament. Gütersloh 2011, p. 975.
  2. Hans-Josef Klauck: The second and third letters of John , p. 86.
  3. Hans-Josef Klauck: The Second and Third Letter of John , p. 111.
  4. Hans-Josef Klauck: Die Johannesbriefe , p. 84.