2 The prosperity of the soul must not be confounded with spiritual prosperity. Like the salvation of the soul (1Pt.1:9), it refers to that physical enjoyment and satisfaction which will be fully known in the coming kingdom. The Circumcision are promised all physical blessing on the earth; we are blessed with every spiritual blessing among the celestials (Eph.1:3). Such a salvation as this is not at all suited to our calling above in Christ Jesus.
7 "Getting nothing from those of the nations" is proof of the Jewish character of this note. If this were literally obeyed by those who proclaim the truth today, they would have no support whatever. This statement is like a flash of light in a dark place. It shows us that, in early days, there were two entirely distinct churches, one connected with the kingdom proclamation and the hope of Israel, which has since passed away, and the other connected with the preaching of Paul to the nations.
Much of the confusion today Is the result of mingling truth intended for one church into that which belongs to the other. The truth found In the Circumcision epistles will come into play again after the present administration of grace has come to an end.
9 It Is significant that any man would dare to oppose an apostle. Diotrephes evidentiy did it in order to secure for himself the highest place in the ecclesia. There is no suggestion of any difference in doctrine. This spirit, which was severely condemned by our Lord, has been the cause of much harm to the saints. True servants of the Lord are taught by His example, and do not desire to exalt themselves, knowing well that He will abase such, and will Himself exalt all who truly deserve it in that day. Diotrephes exalted himself and, as a result, his name has been a by-word down the centuries since. Demetrius does not seem to have thought of himself yet his name is honored and his place a permanent one in the annals of the good.
Three typical characters, Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius supply the topics of the letter. "The elder, Gaius", showed fidelity and hospitality. Pride of place seems to be the sin of Diotrephes. He rails against John and refuses his message, excommunicating from the church those who receive the brethren. Demetrius receives a triple commendation. He is testified to by all, by the truth, and by John.