3 John

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

There is insufficient information to determine who Gaius was. Perhaps it was a close friend? Perhaps it was someone in the church in Jerusalem? I don’t know.

The apostle John refers to himself as the elder. This leads me to think that Gaius was someone in the church where he was an elder.

Jesus said that He is the Truth (Jn 14:6). Those who know the truth are those who know Jesus. This knowledge of Jesus is the knowledge referred to in Jn 17:3 where Jesus says that eternal life is to know the Father and Jesus. It is knowledge of God that results in our transformation into His likeness.

Such knowledge sets us free from sin (Jn 8:32).

As a result, our love for others becomes a sincere love. Such a love results in behavior and thought and action that stems from a desire for the other person to benefit from us rather than a selfish desire to benefit from the other person.

All who know the truth will love in truth. That is, all who have eternal life will have a sincere love for the brethren.

2 Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.

John’s prayer was that Gaius prosper, not just spiritually, but also physically and financially.

3 For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, {that is,} how you are walking in truth.

4 I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.

John knew the importance of walking in truth. However, he saw that most people were not walking in truth but in lies. Therefore, whenever he saw someone who was walking in truth it brought great joy to him.

To walk in truth means to first acknowledge, and then practice, what the Holy Spirit teaches you; not what man teaches you, but what the Holy Spirit teaches you.

One aspect of walking in the truth is that when the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin, instead of justifying yourself, you acknowledge the sin, and then you repent of it, and then you work on overcoming it.

Another aspect of walking in the truth is that when the Holy Spirit shows you something in Scripture you believe it even if everyone around you does not desire to believe it.

To walk in truth you have to love the truth more than anything else. You have to be willing to stand alone. You have to be willing to be persecuted and ostracized.

5 Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially {when they are} strangers;

6 and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.

7 For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.

8 Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.

John urges Gaius to use the money that God has given Gaius to support other people’s ministry. In doing so, Gaius becomes a fellow worker with the truth.

Note that John made this request of Gaius because Gaius was walking in the truth. If Gaius was some rich backslider John wouldn’t have made this request to him.

Note also that John recommends support for those who didn’t accept anything from those who were not born again. We should never accept money for our ministry from those who are not born again.

9 I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.

I don’t know about you, but I find in me a love to be first among people. And unless I put that desire to death I fear that I will cause havoc wherever I am. Churches split because of people who love to be first. True men of God will put to death the desire to be first. If God exalts us then so be it, but we should never exalt ourselves.

John was an apostle, and he was in a position to write things to the church he started. But apostles can be wrong (In Gal 2 we read of the apostle Peter being wrong), and so it may not be intrinsically wrong to not accept what an apostle says. But we shouldn’t not accept what an apostle says just because we want to be first.

10 For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire {to do so} and puts {them} out of the church.

It is one thing to disagree with someone, but the next step is never right – to unjustly accuse the other person.

I’ve seen this happen many times in people who cannot discern the wickedness in their own flesh: somebody says something to them; they disagree; and the next thought that comes to their mind is that the person with whom they disagree with is a bad person; and suddenly that person’s motives are all suspect. When such thoughts enter our mind we must recognize them as fleshly thoughts that must be put to death.

Soon, if you listen to your flesh, those who associate with the person you disagree with are categorized as your enemies, and your friends who associate with the person who you disagree with not your friends anymore because they associate with the person you disagreed with.

Do you remember what Moses did when people disagreed with him on matters that God had directed him? He fell on his face before God. And he let God defend him. This is how people who walk with God deal with these kinds of situations. And God is well able, at the proper time, and in the proper way, to defend those who walk with Him.

11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.

So let us imitate Moses who let God defend him. And further, let us imitate Jesus, who forgave those who crucified Him.

How you behave in these situations clearly indicates whether you are of God or whether you have not seen God. When God allows such situations in your life, judge yourself and see whether you are of God or have never seen God.

12 Demetrius has received a {good} testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself; and we add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.

John tells Gaius that Demetrius, unlike Diotrephes, is a good person to hang out with.

13 I had many things to write to you, but I am not willing to write {them} to you with pen and ink;

14 but I hope to see you shortly, and we will speak face to face.

John had many things to write but some things are best spoken rather than written, and John was wise enough to know which was which.

15 Peace {be} to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.

John ends with a terse ‘Take care. Everyone here says hi. Say hi to everyone there for us.’

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