The Book of 3 John, one of the shortest books in the Bible, is a letter written by the Apostle John, the same author of the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, and the Book of Revelation. This epistle is addressed to Gaius, a Christian leader whom John expresses his deep affection and appreciation for. The primary purpose of this letter is to commend Gaius for his faithfulness and hospitality towards fellow Christians, and to address the issue of false teachers and ungodly leaders within the church.
In this brief, yet powerful letter, we see the heart of the Apostle John, emphasizing the importance of living in truth, loving one another, and maintaining unity in the church. As we delve into the Book of 3 John, we will explore the key takeaways and themes that can still be applied to our lives today as believers in Christ.
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- The importance of walking in truth and love
- The significance of hospitality and support for fellow believers
- The need to discern and reject false teachings and ungodly leaders
- The essence of imitating what is good and righteous
- The value of maintaining good reputation and testimony within the church
- Key Takeaways
- Walking in Truth and Love
- Discerning and Rejecting False Teachings and Ungodly Leaders
- Imitating Good and Righteous Behavior
- Maintaining Good Reputation and Testimony
Walking in Truth and Love
Living in Truth
In the opening of the letter, John commends Gaius for his faithfulness in walking in the truth (3 John 1:3-4). For John, living in truth means abiding in the teachings of Jesus Christ and adhering to the apostolic doctrine. As believers, we are called to know the truth, live by it, and share it with others. Jesus Himself declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
Loving One Another
John also praises Gaius for his love and hospitality towards fellow Christians, even those he did not know personally (3 John 1:5-8). Love is a key theme in John’s writings, as he consistently emphasizes the command to love one another (1 John 3:11, 4:7-11). When we extend love and hospitality to our fellow believers, we reflect God’s love for us and help to strengthen and encourage the body of Christ.
Unity in the Church
This letter highlights the importance of maintaining unity within the church. As believers, we are called to work together for the furtherance of the gospel and the edification of the body of Christ. John encourages Gaius to continue to support and cooperate with fellow Christians who are spreading the gospel (3 John 1:7-8). Paul also emphasizes the importance of unity, urging believers to “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
Discerning and Rejecting False Teachings and Ungodly Leaders
John writes about a man named Diotrephes, who sought to control and dominate the church, rejecting John’s authority and the teachings of the apostles (3 John 1:9-10). Diotrephes serves as a warning against the dangers of pride, self-promotion, and rebellion against God-ordained leadership. We must be cautious of those who exalt themselves and seek to cause division within the church.
The Need for Discernment
As believers, it is essential that we exercise discernment when it comes to teachings and leaders within the church. We must be like the Bereans, who “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). John warns against blindly accepting and following false teachers, as he states, “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1).
Rejecting False Teachings
John urges Gaius to stand against Diotrephes and those who follow his example, as they do not represent the teachings of Christ (3 John 1:11). As believers, we must be willing to reject false teachings and separate ourselves from those who cause division and strife within the church. Paul also warns against false teachers, instructing believers to “note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).
Imitating Good and Righteous Behavior
Following the Example of Demetrius
John presents Demetrius as an exemplary believer, one who is well spoken of by everyone and known for his good deeds and adherence to the truth (3 John 1:12). Demetrius serves as a contrast to Diotrephes and as a positive example for Gaius and the other believers to follow.
As believers, our ultimate example is Jesus Christ, who lived a sinless life and demonstrated perfect love and obedience to the Father. Paul encourages us to “imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). By following the example of Christ and godly leaders like Demetrius, we can grow in our faith and become more like Christ in our daily lives.
John instructs Gaius to “do not imitate what is evil, but what is good” (3 John 1:11). As believers, we must actively pursue righteousness and the fruits of the Spirit, as we are called to “walk by the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
Maintaining Good Reputation and Testimony
A Good Testimony
John’s praise of Gaius and Demetrius highlights the importance of maintaining a good reputation and testimony within the church. A good testimony is a powerful tool in sharing the gospel and edifying fellow believers.
Our personal conduct plays a significant role in our testimony to others. As Christians, we should strive to live in a manner that is consistent with our faith and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Paul exhorts believers to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Ephesians 4:1).
A Light to the World
As we live lives that reflect our faith in Christ, we become a light to the world and a testimony to the transforming power of the gospel. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
The Book of 3 John, though brief, contains valuable lessons and insights for believers today. It serves as a reminder of the importance of walking in truth and love, the significance of hospitality and support for fellow believers, the need to discern and reject false teachings and ungodly leaders, the essence of imitating what is good and righteous, and the value of maintaining good reputation and testimony within the church.
As we apply these lessons to our lives, we can grow in our faith and become more like Christ, shining as a light in a dark world and making a lasting impact on those around us. Let us be encouraged by the example of Gaius, Demetrius, and the Apostle John, and strive to live lives that are characterized by truth, love, and unity in the body of Christ.
The Third Epistle of John, commonly referred to as 3 John, is a short and obscure letter found in the Bible. It is believed to have been written between AD 90-100 by the Apostle John, and is the last of three epistles attributed to him. 3 John tells of John’s visit to a nameless church leader named Gaius and highlights his commendation for Gaius’s commitment to the Christian faith.
The epistle is simple but powerful in its content. It begins with a declaration of joy to Gaius, his family, and his church. Gaius has been described as a man of truth, a lover of the faith, and a hospitable host of traveling Christians. John motivates Gaius to keep on doing what he is doing in an effort to exemplify true Christian character. He then advises Gaius to be wary of a certain man in the church named Diotrephes, who has been going about in opposition to most of what John teaches.
In the remainder of the letter, John encourages Gaius to follow his lead, sending a delegation from his church while urging the same hospitality to Diotrephes, as well as to the delegation. John concludes his letter by reminding Gaius to follow him in all that is good and to keep away from any falsehood or sin.
3 John teaches some basic but important lessons about Christian obedience and hospitality. In John’s own words, “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). Most importantly, it serves as a reminder to follow God’s word and be firm in the faith despite temptations of evil. Truly, 3 John serves as testament to God’s ever-abiding faithfulness and power.