3 John 3 John

3 John 3 John

3 John
At a Glance
Author: The apostle John
Audience: Gaius, a friend of John
Date: AD 85–90
Type of Literature: A letter
Major Themes: Truth, hospitality, divisiveness, and doing good
Letter Opening — 1–4
An Exhortation to Show Hospitality — 5–8
An Example of Inhospitality — 9–11
Letter Closing — 12–15
About 3 John
Though it is almost the smallest of the New Testament letters, this piece of ancient correspondence offers us a glimpse into a problem every modern church should consider: hospitality, especially for those called and anointed by Christ as ministers of his gospel.
There’s a good chance that one of the characters in the letter, Demetrius, was himself a missionary who was associated with the apostle John and actually carried it as a sort of letter of introduction to the letter’s recipient, Gaius. This dear man was known to John as a faithful host for missionaries who were spreading the gospel in the region. One can imagine Gaius rolling out the red carpet, breaking out the fine china, and making up an extra bed for Christ’s emissaries who were tirelessly working on behalf of the Lord. Oh to be known for being a welcoming spirit, and for pouring out love and support for the sake of others! And woe to the one who denies hospitality and stirs up trouble within the body, which is exactly what one of the other characters had done.
John’s motivation for penning and sending his letter to the small community in modern-day Turkey (Asia Minor) was to commend hospitality as a way of expressing Christian love. John was thrilled at how Gaius had welcomed traveling evangelists throughout the region, and he wanted him to continue this show of support. John’s letter will bring a fresh understanding of God to your heart. Let him speak to you through his faithful servant John. Enjoy!
John’s third letter, similar in structure and vocabulary as his second letter, was more of a general letter sent to the churches scattered throughout Turkey (Asia Minor), even as it was addressed to one leader of one local community. John wrote to them to encourage them to welcome itinerant minsters who would travel and teach the different congregations—commending a particularly hospitable church leader, Gaius. He also warned against allowing pride and self-centeredness to get in the way of showing such love and support. It is a letter of hospitality and carries John’s trademark truths of showing love and grace to all.
Author and Audience
This intimate letter between Christian brothers addressing a situation in a local church involved four people: the elder, who sent the note; Gaius, who received the letter; and Diotrephes and Demetrius, church leaders in the region mentioned in the letter. Though various suggestions have been offered as to the identity of this elder, as with 2 John early Christians identified him as the apostle John, beloved disciple of Jesus. Although he wrote to one church leader in Asia Minor, the letter may have been intended for a wider audience to encourage them to continue to support missionaries bearing the gospel of Christ with open-armed hospitality.
Major Themes
Walking in the Truth. This is a common theme in John’s letters, walking in the truth of Christ. Such walking is not only a joyful experience for those who are spiritually responsible for others (like parents when they see their children walking with Christ); it’s also a joyful experience for believers, whose souls get along well in spiritual health as they maintain their commitment to Jesus in words and deeds.
Showing Christian Hospitality. True hospitality is a lost art in some churches today and must be valued. Gaius stands as an example to all of how it looks to faithfully demonstrate loving hospitality to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ—especially when it comes to ministers of the gospel, who deserve our full, generous support. True Christian commitment to truth means a commitment to love through support.
Divisiveness within the Body. One of the greatest toxins to the body of Christ is divisiveness—whether that’s a division in truth that false teachers bring, or a division in love that some believers create. Such an attitude manifests itself in pride, inhospitality, gossip, slander, malice, and obstruction. Not only did John warn against such people, he warned against imitating them within the body. We should name them and call such people out—just as John did with Diotrephes.
Doing and Imitating Good. “Don’t imitate what is evil,” John wrote, “but imitate that which is good” (11). John reveals something important about what we are to imitate: the good here is not just any good, but godly good. It’s goodness reflecting God’s good character and good acts, built on his inspiring love. Such people prove they are of God, and those who don’t imitate good prove they’ve never been in relationship with him in the first place.
3 John
Love in Action
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