3rd John: Hospitality

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3rd John

Gratitude to Gaius, Dangers of Diotrephes.

Background: John, from Ephesus, to Gaius in Asia Minor around 90 AD
Theme: Hospitality
Outline: Gratitude to Gaius and the Dangers of Diotrephes
Key Verse: "Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God." (3 John 1:11, NIV)

Gratitude to Gaius

{1} The elder to Gaius the beloved, whom I love in truth.

The Apostle John simple refers to himself as 'the elder'. This is in keeping with his humility, everyone knew of his Apostleship and he did not need to proclaim it.

{2} Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be healthy, even as your soul prospers.

John knows that the soul of Gaius is prospering, that he is spiritually growing, So, he prays for his physical prosperity and his physical health. While we must be concerned about the spiritual condition of our friends and acquaintences, it is also good to be concerned about their physical welfare. Do you pray for the physical needs and health of your friends, as well as their spiritual growth?

{3} For I rejoiced greatly, when brothers came and testified about your truth, even as you walk in truth.

A mature christian has great joy in seeing others live the christian life. There is no hint of jealousy, although in the Gospel accounts a much younger John wanted to have first place in the kingdom. Here, the elderly John rejoices that Gaius is walking in the truth, and even having a reputation as a Christian example.

{4} I have no greater joy than this, to hear about my children walking in truth.

The 'truth' is important to John, and seeing it in his spiritual children was extremely important. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the light", the truth being personified in Jesus. In the same way, believers were to walk in truth, which means putting the sincere or true faith in practice. Christian beliefs are not just opinions, but the truth. As the truth, they are to be followed and acted upon. Truth goes beyond (but includes) honesty.

{5} Beloved, you do a faithful work in whatever you accomplish for those who are brothers and strangers.

In the Second Letter, John warns against supporting false teachers. Here, Gaius is commended for supporting true teachers. Not every Christian has the ability to teach and lead - Gaius has the gift of hospitality and is commended for assisting those who can teach.

{6} They have testified about your love before the assembly. You will do well to send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God,

Do you send missionaries on their journey in a manner worthy of God? You may have a part in this ministry through your local church.

{7} because for the sake of the Name they went out, taking nothing from the Gentiles.

These teachers determined that the Lord's people should support the Lord's work. Not everyone has this conviction, but these men did and were commended for it. Should we pay for Christian churches with money from unbelievers? (Perhaps bake sales, car washes, appeals for money, candy sales?) I personally do not believe this is the way the Lord wants us to witness. (I realize that some good Christians disagree with me.) These men would not take money from 'gentiles' (meaning unbelieving gentiles) and were supported by other Christians such as Gaius.

{8} We therefore ought to receive such, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

The verses 5-8 are talking about providing for the physical needs of traveling preachers, common in the early church. This is as much a spiritual ministry as witnessing or praying. We do not, in the United States, have much of this type of teacher (traveling teachers) today, but there are a few. For instance, visiting missionaries, musicians, special speakers, and etc. As churches and as individuals we should not be grudging but be generous towards them. Consider giving generously to/for a visiting musician or missionary, or providing a place in your home for a meal or a nights stay if you are able.

Danger of Diotrephes

{9} I wrote to the assembly, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, doesn't accept what we say.

There is always a danger of pride among Christian leaders. Diotrephes has become proud, and will not tolerate anyone who disagrees with him, even rejecting the Apostle John.

{10} Therefore, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words. Not content with this, neither does he himself receive the brothers, and those who would, he forbids and throws out of the assembly.

The charge is that Diotrephes slanders John, rejects traveling teachers (such as the ones Gaius has supported), and shuns any believer who does. Three charges. These are proper actions to take for false teachers, but Diotrephes lacks discernment through his own pride and jealousy of others.

{11} Beloved, don't imitate that which is evil, but that which is good. He who does good is of God. He who does evil hasn't seen God.

Ouch! John implies that Diotrephes does not have a true understanding of God, and is not in fellowship with God. How can he be? After all, whoever loves God must love God's children. Regardless of Diotrephes position and knowledge, look at his actions. If what he does is evil, watch out!

{12} Demetrius has the testimony of all, and of the truth itself; yes, we also testify, and you know that our testimony is true.

Different person - Demetrius. Perhaps a traveling teacher. One way to know about a teacher is the testimony of reliable men. The Apostle John, and many others, affirm that Demetrius is worthy of being received as a teacher. Even the 'truth' testifies, which may mean that God has given a stamp of approval that is spiritually discerned. Anyone who knows the truth knows that Demetrius is a true teacher.

{13} I had many things to write to you, but I am unwilling to write to you with ink and pen;

Many things should be said face to face, and not in a letter.

{14} but I hope to see you soon, and we will speak face to face. Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.

The friends that greet and are greeted are fellow Christians. John did not mention names in this short letter. Perhaps he did not want them to be picked on by Diotrephes, or perhaps there were just too many to mention them all.

Updated March 2012
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