3 John

3 John

Background

  • Although the name of John is not mentioned, the author has been reported as the apostle John since the earliest times.
  • Those who commented about the letter also placed John in Ephesus at the time, late in his life.
  • Gaius could be the same as one mentioned before (Acts 19:28, 20:4, Romans 16:23, 1 Corinthians 1:14), but it was a common name. The Gaius of Acts 19:28 is from Macedonia.  The Gaius of Acts 20:4 is from Derbe.  The Gaius of Romans 16:23 and 1 Corinthians 1:14 is from Corinth.
  • Demetrius probably is not the silversmith of Acts 19:24, but possibly.
  • Diotrephes is not mentioned elsewhere.

The Text

(1)             “Truth” also appears in verses 3, 4, and 8.  As in 2 John, “Spirit” could be used in the same place.

(2)             Praying for physical things appears to be appropriate if kept in context.

(3 – 6)       As in 2 John and most of the other letters, the motivation for writing was encouragement

  • (3) The excellent reputation of Gaius had spread, so John reported that fact.
  • (4) The foundation of John’s joy was derived from the successes of faith.  John expressed the same sentiment in 1 John 1:4 and 2 John 4.
    • Paul’s expressions of joy are found in Philippians 1:4, 1:18, 1:25, 2:2, 2:28, 3:1, 4:1, 4:4, 4:10; Colossians 1:11, 1:24, 2:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:6, 2:19, 2:20, 5:16; 2 Corinthians 2:3, 7:4, 7:7, 7:9, 7:16
    • James 1:2
    • 1 Peter 1:8
  • (5) Gaius’ generosity had become well known.
  • (6) The recipients of Gaius’ generosity reported it to other congregations.
  • Encouraging those who do well and reporting good work to others is an important function within the church.

(6 – 8)       Helping those who travel and teach the gospel is a good work.

  • (6) These teachers were already on the road, not raising support for future work.
  • (7) They did claim support as a right.  Paul did the same (1 Corinthians 9:4 – 18, 2 Thessalonians 3:9), although he accepted gifts when appropriate (Philippians 4:10 – 20).
  • (8) In helping such teachers, we participate in their work
  • Christians are encouraged to support such works (Titus 3:13, 1 Timothy 5:17 – 18, James 5:4, Colossians 4:10, Philippians 2:29, Romans 16:2, Acts 18:27).
  • Not everyone has the faith or is physically able to become a travelling teacher. But if everyone did so, all would starve.  Those who stay home, work, and share are essential to the process.

(9 – 11)           The desire for position happens in the church, too.

  • Diotrephes’ motive was revealed by an inspired writer, not assumption.
  • “Receive” meant to both honor and financially support.
  • Diotrephes’ words were forcefully delivered nonsense.
  • Diotrephes’ claimed authority over the actions of others and the authority to regulate church membership.
  • John draws the conclusion that Diotrephes has not seen God.

(11 – 12)   Do the right thing.

  • John does not ask Gaius to oppose Diotrephes, but to do what he knows is right.
  • Stick with those you have decided are the right ones to follow (hegemony).
  • Stick with those who show the results of the Spirit dwelling in them.
  • If congregations followed this pattern, poor leadership would die of starvation.

(13 – 14)   As in 2 John, personal visits are superior to letters.

  • Peace would be in short supply with Diotrephes around; but only if you let his poor behavior overcome the truth.
  • Greet the friends according to their inner quality; greet them with encouragement as John did in verse 3.
  • Congregations have an obligation to spread peace.