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The Epistle of 3 John

 

Theme- Hospitality, pride and Faithfulness

Introduction- John is the author of this epistle and this epistle was written about AD 90 from Ephesus along with the other 2 letters of John. This letter was written to Gaius and was intended to commend Gaius for his hospitality and also to encourage him in his Christian walk. Also John wrote this letter to warn Diotrephes whom posed a problem to John. The letter features four main characters and they are John, Gaius, Diotrephes and Demetrius. I believe that verse 5 is a key verse to the hospitality theme of the epistle. Hospitality to Gaius was a habit and his reputation for friendship and kindness had spread around. This letter although intended to be personal to Gaius, can be applied to us today. Those that read and analyze the letter will associate themselves with one of these 3 persons featured in the letter. Gaius whom generously give to others, Demetrius whom Loved truth, or as Diotrephes whom looked out for himself and his own affairs.

 

I. Living and working together in the truth (v.1-8).
A. The letter is addressed to Gaius whom means allot to John whom calls him “wellbeloved” in the Authorized Version, but only “dear friend” in the NIV. Well beloved sounds far more special and more cherished than “dear friend.” John loves Gaius very much and according to the Easton’s Bible Dictionary Gaius was John’s fellow traveler and his host at Corinth when he wrote his Epistle to the Romans. Gaius and his household were baptized by John (1 Cor 1:14). So it looks as if Gaius came to faith in Christ under the teachings of John. In verse 2 does John pray and wish that Gaius would prosper in good health and good times. John is not concerned with Gaius’s spiritual well being, as Gaius is already doing well in the most essential areas, John is simply concerned for his friends physical condition and needs. John sets an example for Christians today to be not only concerned for the spiritual but for the physical as well. There are some types of Christians that do not believe in praying for felt needs, and are only concerned about spiritual things. Such pastors would rather not bother or bog down a Sunday school or small group gathering with personal prayer requests but are more interested in Bible preaching and teaching. While this is the most important thing, it certainly is not all we need to be concerned about. John prayed and wished his friend well in non-spiritual things, and Jesus was very concerned with the physical health of others as he illustrated in all 4 gospels (v.1-2).

B. Gaius is not weak in the faith, but is strong as John commends him in verse 3. The testimony about Gaius was not form his own lips, but was from others. Its one thing if Gaius had been a boaster and a bragger about himself, but he was not, and others have testified to John about Gaius and this made John very happy and he rejoiced. John says in verse 4 that he has no greater joy than to hear that his children walk in the truth. John declares Gaius to be his child, so this tells me that John is the teacher and spiritual father of the community. John is not only concerned with his own affairs but rejoices when he learns of his children walking in the truth (v.3-4).

 

(Application) There are many pastors in the ministry these days that could care less about their children, and are only concerned for their children as long as they are the pastor. To them ministry is a vocation not a job. But this book teaches us that ministry to John was a life and not only a vocation.

C. In verse 5 John says that Gaius is faithful has been faithful in what he has does for the brothers, and has been faithful to complete strangers. I believe that the context would imply that Gaius has been faithful to missionaries. Gaius was not only concerned about his own affairs but was very concerned with the affairs of the missionaries. The support that Gaius gave to the missionaries was reported back to John and the love was well known. Gaius helped the traveling missionaries according to the customs of the times and that would be to provide rest, encouragement, and needed supplies to aid them in their travels. In verse 7 John says to ask for no support from the Gentiles. However the NIV says to ask for no support from the pagans. The context would apply unbelievers so I believe the NIV translates the Greek more accurately here. John did want unbelievers questioning their motives or the message, so it would be best not to have unbelievers donate to the ministry (v.5-8).

 

II. Condemnation of Diotrephes (v.9-11).

A.     John writes in verse 9 that he wrote to the church, and the wording here seems to imply that this is the church that Gaius belongs. However this is where Diotrephes is mentioned. Diotrephes had an important position in the church, but was blinded with pride and self-importance. He probably ignored the letter and may have even destroyed it. If this was so, then this necessitated John to write this letter to Gaius so his words would be heard. John promises in verse 10 to deal with Diotrephes when he comes. Diotrephes was a gossip, did not acknowledge the authority of other spiritual leaders, and he was putting people out of the church who disagreed with him. Diotrephes is a reminder of some church leaders today who are guilty of the same types of sins.

B.     In verse 11 John encourages Gaius not to be influenced by the bad example set by Diotrephes, but rather to follow what is good Gaius needs to continue to show support and hospitality to others. (v.9-11).

 

III. Recommendation of Demetrius and farewell (v.13-14).
A. In verse 13 does John give a strong recommendation of Demetrius whom has a good reputation among the church. Little is known about Demetrius other than what is written in 3 John. Paul concludes his letter with a farewell, and wishes to visit his friends soon (v.13-14).

 

Conclusion: Hospitality, pride and faithfulness are important themes in this book and very important for us today. Christians today need to learn from the example of Gaius whom was very faithful to the truth and hospitable to strangers. On the flipside there are people like Diotrephes whom are gossips, prideful, and are being worked as Satan’s tools in the church. Christians need to watch out for people like this, and be faithful to the truth and following what the word of God teaches.

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