Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you will be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.
These pieces of advice do not contradict each other because each is wise in its own way. Verse 4 means that in replying to a fool one should not descend to his level by giving him a foolish response (e.g., 2 Kings 18:36). Verse 5 means that one should correct a fool so he will not conclude that he is right (e.g., Neh. 6:8; Job 2:9-10). Some of a fool's comments do not deserve a reply (v. 4), but others require one (v. 5). In unimportant matters one should ignore the foolish comment, but in important matters one needs to respond lest others conclude that the fool is correct.
From: Dr. Constable Notes
3 John 8
WISDOM PROJECT: For this month, I will supply links to both the NIV and ESV versions of the chapter each day (Feb. 1 = Proverbs 1, etc.) in the post—both of which contain the audio.
And in the month of February a unique feature for the WP will be Commentaries on selected passages/verses from within the chapter for the day. And for the most part, these comments will be from links in the Online Bible Study Resources feature here on the 3 John 8 blog (scroll down in the column to the right to find the links).
Note to Proverbs class participants: this is the place where you should post your application comments for the Daily Proverbs Reading Assignment.