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B. For His Devotion to the Truth (1:3-4) C. For His Hospitality to Godly Messengers (1:5-8) A. Concerning the Bad Example of Diotrephes (1:9-11) B. Concerning the Good Example of Demetrius (1:12) Theme: Devotion to God’s Truth and Hospitality to His Messengers John, one of the original apostles (i.e., those personally authorized and empowered by Christ to deliver his original message and help establish the NT church), again identifies himself by the title of “the elder” (v. 1; see the introduction to 2 John). This personal letter is addressed to a loyal follower of Christ named Gaius (v. 1), who was likely a member of one of the church communities in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). As with John’s other letters, 3 John was most likely written from Ephesus in the late 80s or early 90s of the first century. (For further background on John, see introductions to John’s Gospel and 1 John.) Toward the end of the first century, itinerant ministers (i.e., ones who traveled from city to city) were commonly supported by believers who welcomed them into their homes and helped them on their way with material and financial support (vv. 5-8; cf. 2Jn 1:10). Gaius was one of many faithful Christians who graciously hosted and supported trustworthy traveling ministers (vv. 1-8). However, a leader named Diotrephes arrogantly resisted John’s authority and refused to receive messengers whom John had sent.
John wrote to (1) commend Gaius for his gracious hospitality (i.e., welcome, friendliness, kindness, generosity) and faithful support of trustworthy traveling ministers, (2) indirectly warn the rebellious and prideful leader, Diotrephes, and (3) prepare the way for his own personal visit.
Three men are mentioned by name in 3 John. (1) Gaius is warmly commended for his faithfulness to God and devotion to the truth (vv. 3-4) and his exemplary hospitality to godly messengers (vv. 5-8). (2) Diotrephes, an arrogant and selfish leader, is denounced for his pride (“loves to be first,” v. 9). He had rejected a previous letter from John (v. 9), personally slandered John and refused to receive John’s messengers. He even threatened to excommunicate (i.e., expel from the church) those who welcomed and accommodated the messengers (v. 10). (3) Demetrius, perhaps the one who delivered this letter or a pastor in a nearby community, is commended as a man of good reputation and of loyalty to the truth (v. 12).
Two major features characterize this letter. (1) Though brief, it provides insight into several important facets of early church history toward the end of the first century. (2) There are remarkable similarities between 3 John and 2 John. Still, the two letters differ in one important aspect: 3 John encourages believers to offer hospitality and support for trustworthy traveling ministers, while 2 John urges believers not to welcome or support untrustworthy ministers. His aim is that believers will not mistakenly promote false or destructive ministry, but rather share in the work of those who spread the true message of Christ.
In order to read the entire New Testament in one year, the book of 3 John should be read in 1 day: = 3 John NOTES
1 The el der, a
1:1 a 2Jn 1:1
in the truth. b 4 I have no greater joy
than to hear that my chil dren c are 2 Dear friend, I pray that you may
en joy good health and that all may 1:3 b 2Jn 1:4
5 Dear friend, you are faith ful in what
go well with you, even as your soul is 1:4 c 1Co 4:15
get ting along well. 3 It gave me great 1:5 d Ro 12:13
though they are strang ers to you. d 1:1 THE ELDER. See introduction to 2 John.
ticularly those with whom we have shared 1:2 ALL MAY GO WELL. It is God’s provision
and plan that his people be healthy and that 12; 6:4-10; 12:7-10; 1Pe 1:6-7). (b) We may, at their lives reflect his care and goodness and times, endure difficulty and distress when our be accompanied by his blessings. God wants faith and service to Christ bring opposition all to go well with us, meaning that he desires and persecution from the world (Lk 6:20-23; for our lives, families, work, plans and service Heb 10:32-34; 1Pe 2:19-21; Rev 2:9-10; see arti- for him to go according to his purposes and direction. For this reason, God’s blessings p. 839). (c) We may experience lack or even and provisions—made available through the poverty due to national disasters or natural life and personal sacrifice of his Son, Jesus— circumstances, such as war, famine, drought are provided to meet both physical and spiri- (4) God’s presence, help and blessing in prosper us both physically and spiritually, our physical lives are related to the health Scripture teaches the following: (1) The word and prosperity of our spiritual lives. This does here translated “all may go well” (Gk euodoö) literally means “to have a good journey, to exceptional health is spiritually healthy or that be led along a good road.” According to those who experience ill health are necessar- that meaning, John’s prayer was that as we ily lacking spiritually. It simply means that as walk the road of relationship with Christ (cf. we are faithful to Christ, he will bless us in 1Jn 1:7; 2:6; 2Jn 1:6), we may continue to follow all ways and provide everything he desires his truth (vv. 3-4) and to experience the “full for us so that our lives honor him and fulfill life” (Jn 10:10)—the overall purpose, blessing his purposes. For this reason, we must seek and fulfillment—that he desires for us.
God’s desires (Ps 37:4), pursue his plans and (2) God desires that we earn enough to pro- purposes (Mt 6:10; 26:39; Heb 10:7-9) and obey vide the necessities of shelter, food and cloth- the Holy Spirit (Ro 8:14). We must also remain ing for ourselves and our families and that we separated from the corruption of the world have enough to help others as needed and (Ro 12:1-2; 2Co 6:16-18), love God’s Word to contribute to Christ’s cause (Php 4:15-19). (Jas 1:21; 1Pe 2:2), ask for his help in prayer According to his purposes, God will provide (Mt 6:9-13; Heb 4:16), work hard (2Th 3:6-12), the means for us to do so. But whatever our trust him to supply our needs (Mt 6:25-34; means or circumstances, God is able to give 1Pe 5:7) and give priority to his kingdom and us enough for our needs (2Co 9:8-12), and he standards above all else (Mt 6:33; see Mt 6:11, promises to supply our needs “according to note; Lk 11:3, note; Col 4:12, note; see article his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Php 4:19; (5) Although our souls may be getting along well in a spiritual sense, this does not remove (3) Although we should trust God to supply all difficulties from other areas of our lives. all of our material needs, we must recognize the Bible’s teaching that he may allow us to experience times of need. (a) We may some- our needs and situations to him in prayer.
times experience need with the purpose of 1:5 YOU ARE FAITHFUL. John praises Gaius
challenging and encouraging us to trust God for one particular aspect of his “walking in the truth” (vv. 3-4); that is, he has been faithful in strengthen our faith and spiritual endurance. helping traveling evangelists and missionaries They also help us to effectively relate and (i.e., those called by God to take Christ’s mes- sage to specific lands, cultures and people 6 They have told the church about your 1:7 e Ac 20:33,35
noth ing to do with us. 10 So if I come,
I will call at ten tion to what he is do- 7 It was for the sake of the Name that
Not sat is fied with that, he refuses to the pa gans. e 8 We ought there fore to
9 I wrote to the church, but Di ot re-
11 Dear friend, do not im i tate what
groups who have yet to hear about Jesus; vv. that he is—his nature, attributes, character, 5-8). He has supplied them with lodging, food, accomplishments, etc. It also represents his money and whatever other help they needed full authority and power to fulfill his purposes for their ministry and journey (cf. Tit 3:13). His and bring spiritual salvation to all who will commitment to fulfilling Christ’s missionary receive him by faith and willingly identify with his Name (See Ac 4:12, note on salvation were spreading Christ’s message throughout being found in “no other name”; see Jn 14:13, the world (Mt 28:19) was so impressive that note on the significance of Jesus’ name.) missionaries had specifically mentioned it to 1:7 RECEIVING NO HELP FROM THE PA-
John (v. 6). Gaius’ action toward these faithful GANS. Missionaries who leave their homes
messengers of God came from his love for and go to other places to deliver the message them, his love for the message of Christ and of forgiveness and eternal life through faith his love for those who had not yet heard and in Christ generally receive no financial or ma- received that message. We, too, can show this terial help from the world. Their only source kind of love and devotion by faithfully sup- of support is from dedicated Christians like porting those who take Christ’s message into Gaius and from faithful churches who are doing their part to take Christ’s message to all 1:6 IN A MANNER WORTHY OF GOD. Vv. 5-8
the world (Mt 28:19). This is fully appropriate, refer to traveling messengers of the gospel since missionaries should not have to depend of Christ—the “good news” (see Mk 14:9, on material support from those they are try- first note on “the gospel”). It is a duty and ing to reach for Christ. To do so could easily privilege of God’s people to contribute to hinder the message and expose the mission- missionary needs and work—efforts that take ary to accusation of preaching for financial Christ’s message to people and cultures that gain (cf. 1Co 9:12). As we contribute to the still need to hear and receive his good news task of taking Christ’s message to all people of of forgiveness and eternal life. (1) Receiving, all nations, we must remember the words of sending and supporting Christian ministries the Lord Jesus himself, “Anyone who receives and missionaries must be done “in a manner a prophet because he is a prophet will receive worthy of God” (v. 6; 1Co 9:14; Php 4:10-18). a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives (a) This means that we must treat faithful mes- a righteous man because he is a righteous sengers of God’s Word as we would treat the man will receive a righteous man’s reward” Lord himself (see Mt 10:40) because they are his servants carrying his message to all the 1:9 LOVES TO BE FIRST. This phrase is
world (see Mt 28:19, note). (b) It also means one word in the original Greek (philoprö- that the help, provision and giving should be teuön), used here as an adjective to describe done with excellence and to the best of our Diotrephes. His desire to show himself supe- ability (cf. 2Co 8:2-3, 11-12; 9:6-8)—even to the rior, in the place of highest honor, and in point of personal sacrifice—reflecting the gra- control caused him to reject John’s authority cious gift and sacrifice Christ made for us. and assistance. This form of selfish pride eas- (2) The sending of missionaries in the early ily leads to sin (deception, presumption and church consisted of providing for their jour- malicious talk) that finds satisfaction in put- ney and supplying them with food and with ting others down and lifting up oneself. Those money to pay expenses and live adequately who are full of pride and put their own needs, (see Gal 6:6-10, note; Php 4:16, note; Tit 3:13). interests and honor ahead of others are not By supporting missionaries, God’s people following Christ’s example of humility (see worked together in spreading the truth (v. 8). Php 2:3-5ff), nor are they growing in servant 1:7 FOR THE SAKE OF THE NAME. Referring
leadership (see Lk 22:27). Such people, even if to Jesus Christ by “the Name” represents all they think they are serving God, are not fulfill- is evil but what is good. f Any one 1:11 f Ps 37:27
13 I have much to write you, but I
1:12 g 1Ti 3:7
ink. 14 I hope to see you soon, and
not seen God. 12 Demetrius is well
spo ken of by ev ery one g—and even ing their part in spreading Christ’s message Instead, we must pattern our lives after the example of Christ and of others who have 1:11 DO NOT IMITATE WHAT IS EVIL BUT
faithfully followed him (cf. 1Co 4:16; 1Th 2:14; WHAT IS GOOD. As followers of Christ,
Heb 13:7). We must be “imitators of God” we must be careful not to get caught up in (Eph 5:1; cf. 1Th 1:6), whose behavior and behaviors, activities and pastimes that are character are openly and positively distinct common in the world but that do not reflect from those who do not follow Christ. Only God’s character or promote his purposes (cf. then will people who are truly looking for Dt 18:9). Many such things may even contra- hope and answers in life be able to see Christ dict his standards of truth and moral purity in us and notice a difference worth consider- (see Eph 5:1-7). We are not to conform to the pattern of this corrupt world (Ro 12:2).
STANDARD KIT LIST You should consider that whatever you pack, you will have to carry with you. Therefore, be careful not to get too excited and take too much. Ideally you should have a 60-80 litre rucksack or holdall and a small day sack (30-35 litres). You may want to pack a bum bag for use when you are there. You should use the following checklist as a guide: Kit • 2-3 sets of