John’s Letter to Gaius

Text: 3 John

The letter of 3 John is addressed to a man named Gaius. There are at least three men named Gaius in the New Testament – Gaius of Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:14), Gaius of Derbe (Acts 20:4), and Gaius of Macedonia (Acts 19:29). We do not know if this Gaius was one of those or someone else. But what we do know is that he was a Christian who was acquainted with the apostle John. There are several lessons for us contained in this short letter.

Relationship with Other Christians (v. 1-4)

  • Love in the truth (v. 1) – as children of God, we must love our brethren (1 John 4:7-8,20-21); tied to obeidence (1 John 5:2); rejecting/compromising God’s word is not an act of love
  • Pray for one another (v. 2) – pray for physical and (primarily) spiritual prosperity
  • Walk together in truth (v. 3) – keeping God’s commandments; similar to walking in Light (1 John 1:5-7); this is the basis for fellowship (1 John 1:3; cf. Amos 3:3)
  • Commend one another (v. 3) – others spoke well of Gaius; we should speak well of our brethren (2 Corinthians 12:11)
  • Rejoice in the faithfulness of others (v. 4) – this is most important (Romans 10:1); put aside petty conflicts and bitterness (Philippians 4:2-4); rejoice in the hope that each one of us has

Supporting Preachers (v. 5-8)

  • Act of faithfulness (v. 5) – individuals can, to the degree they are able, support preachers (Galatians 6:6); they were previously strangers to Gaius, but he knew they were preaching “for the sake of the name” (v. 7)
  • Act of love (v. 6) – putting others ahead of oneself; the Philippians abounded in love (Philippians 1:9), in part for their support of Paul (Philippians 1:3-5; 4:15-18)
  • Preachers preach for Christ, not for money (v. 7) – yes, preachers may be supported (1 Corinthians 9:14), but that should not be the motive; the motive should be truth (2 Timothy 4:2-5)
  • Support is fellowship (v. 8) – not everyone can preach (James 3:1); but individuals and churches can participate in that work through support (Philippians 1:5)

Learning from Bad Examples: Diotrophes (v. 9-10)

  • Desire for preeminence (v. 9) – we need humility (Romans 12:3); follow God’s plan (Ephesians 5:21; Hebrews 13:17)
  • Rejection of truth (v. 9) – humbly receive the word (James 1:21); love the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
  • Limiting fellowship (v. 10) – we often hear of brethren wrongly expanding the bounds of fellowship (2 John 10-11; 1 Corinthians 5:1-2); yet it is also wrong to limit the bounds of fellowship in refusing to accept one that God has accepted (Romans 14:1-3,10-12)
  • Must be exposed (v. 10) – not out of meanness/vindictiveness; so others will not be led astray (Galatians 2:11-14)

Learning from Good Examples: Demetrius (v. 11-12)

  • Imitate what is good (v. 11) – look to the good examples of others (Philippians 3:17; Hebrews 12:1-3)
  • The standard of goodness is God (v. 11) – others may appear to be good but are not (Revelation 2:2); God alone is good (Mark 10:18); we must strive to live up to His standard (Matthew 5:48), not man’s
  • Importance of a good reputation (v. 12) – a good name is valuable (Proverbs 22:1), in part because it takes so long to build
  • A good reputation must be based on truth (v. 12) – we must be commended by the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:18); some may speak well of us for evil (Luke 6:26); we must be known for doing what is right

Limits to Writing (v. 13-15)

  • Writing is a good way to communicate – helps compensate for real or perceived deficiencies (2 Corinthians 10:10); can be carefully crafted for the best possible wording (Ecclesiastes 12:9-10); can be a lasting resource (2 Peter 1:12-15); and can be passed around easily to others (Colossians 4:16)
  • But writing cannot replace in-person communication (v. 13-14)
  • We must value personal relationships (v. 15; cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:6,10; Acts 20:36-38; 2:46)

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