Forums » 3 John

List of newest posts

    • November 3, 2016 9:44 PM EDT
    • 3 JOHN 1




      3 JOHN IS A PERSONAL LETTER. Very personal. Gaius, Diotrephes, Demetrius, friends...this is John's most personal letter. In fact, it is so personal one might wonder why it ended up in the canon of Scripture. And the answer to that becomes clear once the message unfolds.


      Again you can see the emphasis here on THE TRUTH, some form of the word true appears SEVEN times. Everything in the church is always built on the truth...always.


      John loves in truth. He affirms the importance of bearing witness to truth, of walking in truth, of being fellow workers with the truth, of receiving a good testimony from the truth. At the foundation of everything in the church is the truth. That was our emphasis in the second letter and it certainly spills over here. This is about how to live and love in the truth.


      Now as I told you when we studied 2 John last week, in the ancient world hospitality was a necessity.




      You did NOT have all of the fancy hotels and motels and inns and resorts that we have today for people to stay in in the lap of one level of luxury or another. People were largely dependent upon somebody opening THEIR home to them.



      On the day of Pentecost, you remember, there were all kinds of pilgrims in Jerusalem who had come to celebrate the Passover. They stayed through Pentecost. When Peter preached, three thousand of them were saved. Three thousand of them then brought into the church of Jesus Christ and that was the only church that existed on planet earth at that time, the one only and only. They did NOT want to go back to where they came from because they now were a part of the body of Christ and the only place they could meet and fellowship was there with the Apostles in Jerusalem. And so the church there, those that had come to Christ prior to the day of Pentecost, the 120 in the upper room, and those who came to Christ on the day of Pentecost had to absorb ALL those believers and care for them and meet their needs.


      That's why later on the Apostle Paul took a collection in order help the church support the strangers who never went back to where they came from because there new reason to live was singularly located in Jerusalem.


      And from then on, as the church expanded and moved and grew, and went from city to city and town to town and place to place, believers began to move and travel and itinerant preachers did the same. And they had to be embraced by the believers as well who were in every locale and be given a home and a place to rest and food and support.


      This was NOT really anything completely new in the ancient world. Hospitality was really a DUTY even in the secular side. Strangers were supposedly under the protection of Zeus Xenios who was known as the god of strangers... “Xenios” means STRANGER.


      And the ancient world understood that there was a deity in their own mind that was sort of a sign to take care of strangers. And if they wanted to have that deity on their side and not against them, they needed to be kind to strangers.


      The ancient world even had a system of guest friendships, whereby families in different parts of the country undertook to give each others members hospitality in their parts of the country when they traveled.


      It was reciprocal.


      People carried what was called a "Sumbalon," they carried a token to identify themselves to their hosts. The host would know the token that belonged to him and open up his home to show hospitality.


      SO, think about it, IF the heathen did that, if the pagans did that, how much more importantly should the Christians do that?

      And that is why when you look at the New Testament, you see this emphasis on hospitality.


      1 Peter 4:9, "Be hospitable to one another without complaint."


      The Greek word for hospitality is love of strangers, love of strangers. It's just basic to the Christian responsibility to open up our home to those CHRISTIAN brothers and sisters we do NOT know, who are strangers to us.


      Elders, pastors, shepherds needed to be the FIRST to open their homes and embrace strangers in order to set the pace for everybody else. This was a basic responsibility, a basic expression of Christian love.


      In fact, in the early church, THE HOME was the center of everything, absolutely everything.


      As you read the New Testament you NOTICE YOU DO NOT find any church buildings...NONE!






      They met in homes for prayer. They met in homes for fellowship. They met in homes for teaching. They met in homes for evangelism. They met in homes to break bread and to have the Lord's supper. They met in homes to worship. They met in homes for personal discipleship. They even met in homes for preaching. They met in home for discussion and dialogue. Everything happened in the home. And so the home WAS the church, the place where they gathered and so it was very natural for them to open their homes to the traveling believers who came their way, even though they MAY NOT HAVE PERSONALLY known them.


      This is behind both 2 John and 3 John, this reality...this reality. And as we learned in 2 John, John told us to BE VERY CAREFUL about whom you welcome in.




      Very careful. And again the truth is the essential ground on which your hospitality is built. Hospitality is a form of Christian love. We are called to Christian love, to love other Christians in a unique and special and embracing way. But we have to be very careful.




      Well it all came down to 2 John 7-8. "Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, or for that matter any other heresy. This is the deceiver and the antichrist." "Watch yourselves that you might not lose what we've accomplished but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far doesn't abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. The one who abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you, does not bring the teaching that is the true teaching of the gospel, the fullness of the truth revealed in Scripture, do not receive him into your house and do not give him a greeting. For the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds."


      Pretty serious, right?.


      So we saw the restraint, the constraint, the limitation put upon Christian love and hospitality. And the limitation comes in regard to a FALSE teacher. It does NOT mean you should NOT let an unconverted person in your home. You are not, however, to harbor a false teacher. Your love does not go to that extent even though he may claim Christ, he may claim Christianity, he may claim to be a brother or sister.


      That theme then is continued here in 3 John. Second John is sort of the negative, who NOT to receive. Third John is the positive, who TO receive. And so together we get a great insight into how we deal with those who say they represent Christ and who come to us for support and help and need. There are some we MUST reject, there are some we MUST accept.



      Now another way to look at 3 John is to look at it in comparison to not only 2 John but 1 John.


      FIRST JOHN was written generally to the WHOLE church. It was generally written to ALL Christians telling them how they could test the validity of their faith, how they could be sure they were saved. And the tests were given, doctrinal tests, and moral tests. John pictures that on the broadest scale in his first epistle, written to ALL all of the family of God.


      SECOND JOHN narrowed the audience and it's written to A FAMILY...a family in the church. The family is identified as the chosen lady and her children, and the children of her chosen sister also mentioned in the last verse. And John calls for families to be loyal to the truth.


      THIRD JOHN is to an individual, to the beloved Gaius. The third epistle calls for INDIVIDUALS to be loyal to the truth.


      In 2 John and 3 John, truth and love are ALWAYS related. Hospitality is limited. It is limited to those who are in the truth. And here in 3 John we further see those who are in the truth are NOT to be forbidden to have that hospitality. But we will see that John says, "Diotrephes, he forbids people who desire to help those who represent the truth and he puts them out of the church."


      This is unacceptable. This is evil. The third letter is also MORE personal.


      First John has no personal references at all to anyone.

      Second John has an anonymous personal reference, to the chosen lady and her children, and her sister and her children.


      Third John is totally personal.


      For the first time in his epistles, actual people, Gaius, Diotrephes, Demetrius. So John starting at the widest level, speaking to all believers, narrows it down to a family and then to a man. And the themes are ALWAYS the same, truth and love.


      In the general epistle, truth and love, sound doctrine and love are what define a true believer.


      In the second epistle, sound doctrine is the essential for showing love.


      And in the third epistle where someone is sound, that love is to be shown and never ever withheld.


      Now the third epistle is easy to outline. You just outline it by the three people: Gaius, the one who gave hospitality, Diotrephes, the one who refused hospitality, and Demetrius, the one who is to receive hospitality.


      John oversaw the church at Ephesus and probably had oversight over daughter churches that had literally been founded out of the church at Ephesus.


      John was, of course, the last living Apostle.


      You're now in the last decade of that first century, A.D. And though he is an Apostle and though they are NOT many years from the very life of Christ and although he's an eyewitness to all of the events of the life of Christ, John HAS problems.


      John is a pastor of pastors, an Apostle, and yet he has to deal with people in the church who make life in the church difficult.


      Some too loving, too embracing, some too harsh, too narrow, to unkind and in the second epistle he dealt with the one who was too inclusive, and too embracing, and too tenderhearted and too compassionate, too hospitable, threatened to open the arms of the church, let antichrist in.


      Here he's going to deal with one who is the very opposite. That's what you struggle with in the church.


      JOHN MACARTHUR ADDS, “You know, when you try to build the ministry on truth, when you try to found everything on truth, you always get people who whether it's because of their sentimentality, whether it's because they are generally compassionate people, or whether it's because their lack of discernment, or whatever, they always want to kick the door wider than it should be and let people in that should NOT be let in. And there are those of us who always want to make sure we're there to close the door when it needs to be closed. And we become sort of the bad guys. We're the ones who are accused of being unloving.


      And then on the other hand, you have those narrow-minded, self-important, loving to have the preeminence kind of people who want to make the thing so narrow that only the things and the people that they approve of can be accepted. I mean, it either goes one way or the other. And as I said, it's comforting to know that even the Apostle John had trouble in the church. And those at least are two of the extremes we have to deal with. We are called to love, it's in our hearts to love, the love of Christ is shed abroad there. We want to extend that love and there's always that temptation by those who are committed to that love to be too embracing and the temptation by those who are so strongly committed to doctrine to be too narrow. And so we come to this balance through John.”



      Verse 1 tells us The writer and the reader.


      THE ELDER, To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.”


      Christians have understood that this was the Apostle John writing, the same John who wrote the Gospel of John, 1 and 2 John, and the Book of Revelation.


      As I said last week, John does not directly refer to himself for the same reason he does not directly refer to his readers in 2 John - the threat of persecution may be making direct reference unwise; and of course, unnecessary.


      Gaius...We do NOT know if this specific Gaius is connected with the other men by this name mentioned in the New Testament (Acts 19:19, 20:4; 1 Corinthians 1:14; Romans 16:23).




      The identification is difficult because Gaius was a very common name in the Roman Empire.



      Verses 2-4 tells us A blessing for faithful Gaius.


      Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”



      The word for PROSPER literally means "to have a good journey." It metaphorically means to succeed or prosper. It is like saying, "I hope things go well for you."

      I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers….John used this common phrase in his sending of best wishes and blessings to Gaius. Some have wrongly PLUCKED this piece of the entire scripture to mean WE ARE AND SHOULD EXPECT IT IS A guarantee of perpetual wealth and perfect health for the Christian.


      Of course, we should always remember that God wants our best and plans only good for us. Often present material prosperity and physical health are part of that good He has for us – but we KNOW this prosperity and health are absolutely promised as the ultimate destiny of all believers when we walk through the gates of Heaven.


      Just as your soul prospers…


      John here made an analogy between the condition of our health and the condition of our soul. Many Christians would be desperately ill if their physical health was instantly in the same state as their spiritual health.



      I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth…


      John's goodwill towards Gaius came from his understanding that he walked in the truth. Nothing pleased John more than to know that his children walk in truth.


      John KNEW that Gaius walked in truth because brethren came and testified of the truth that was in Gaius. His walk of truth was noticed by others, and they could talk about it because they saw it.


      To walk in truth means to walk consistent with the truth you believe. If you believe that you are fallen, then walk wary of your fallenness. If you believe you are a child of God, then walk like a child of heaven. If you believe you are forgiven, the walk like a forgiven person.



      Verses 5-8 tells us Gaius: A GOOD example.


      Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, because they went forth for His name's sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.”



      You do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers…



      John praised Gaius for his hospitality. This may seem somewhat trivial to us, but it is NOT to God. This is a practical outworking of the essential command to love one another; it is love in action.


      This was a GREAT compliment: you do faithfully whatever you do. Whatever God gives us to do, we should do it faithfully.


      REMEMBER MATTHEW 25:21, Jesus said that when we see Him face to face some will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”


      Of the good servant, it is said he was faithful.


      Send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God…


      In that day, Christian travelers in general and itinerant ministers in particular were greatly dependent upon the hospitality of other Christians. John knew that when Christians assist those who contend for the truth, they become fellow workers for the truth.



      The reward for these support people is the same as those who are out on the front lines.


      REMEMBER OUR STUDY OF 1 Samuel 30:21-25. It shows this principle, where the spoils are distributed equally among those who fought and those who supported. King David understood that the supply lines were just as vital as the soldiers, and God would reward both soldiers and supporters properly and generously.



      MATTHEW 10:42, Jesus promised that even the help offered in a cup of cold water to one of His children would not be forgotten when God brings His reward.


      This also explains why John would pray for the prosperity of Gaius: he used his resources in a godly way, being a blessing to others. If God blessed him with more, others would be blessed more also.


      Taking nothing from the Gentiles…


      The ancient world of the early church was filled with the missionaries and preachers of various religions, and they often supported themselves by taking offerings from the general public. But John said that these Christian missionaries should take nothing from the Gentiles (non-Christians). Instead of soliciting funds from the general public they were to look to the support of fellow Christians.



      In a manner worthy of God…


      Christians are not only called to help, but to help in a manner worthy of God. We are to do our BEST to help others excellently.


      Christians must first see that they are doing something to help the spread of the gospel. Then they must see that they do it in a manner worthy of God. God calls every one of us to have a part in the great commission.


      The command of Matthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”


      One can have a part by going or have a part by helping, but everyone has a part and should do it well.


      REMEMBER MATTHEW 10:40-41, “Jesus said, He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.”


      This should make us consider how we receive and help those who are preach the gospel.



      Verses 9-11 tells us Diotrephes: A BAD example.


      I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.”



      John publicly rebuked a man named Diotrephes, and he rebuked him by name. In rebuking an individual by name, the apostle of love did not act outside of love. Instead, he followed the clear command of the Scriptures (Romans 16:17) and the example of other apostles (2 Timothy 4:14-15).



      BUT WE REMEMBER, MATTHEW 7:1-2, However, any such public rebuke must be made only when necessary, and we must be careful to not judge a brother against any standard that we ourselves would not be judged.


      By presenting himself as a "prominent Christian leader" (at least in his own mind), Diotrephes knew that he was open to public criticism - just as much as he would publicly criticize the apostle John and his associates (prating against us with malicious words).



      Who loves to have the preeminence among them…


      Simply, the problem for Diotrephes was pride. In his pride, he did not receive the apostles such as John. This was in contrast to the humble hospitality of Gaius, who walked in the truth.


      We can imagine a man like Diotrephes, a leader in the church in some city, looking at John and saying to himself, "Why should these big shot apostles get all the attention and honor? Look at my ministry! Isn't it just as good?" And pride would lead him, like many others, to destruction.


      BOICE says it well,"This is the original and greatest of all sins. It is the sin of Satan, who was unwilling to be what God had created him to be and who desired rather to be 'like the Most High' (Isaiah. 14:14). It is the opposite of the nature of Christ who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant'."



      Diotrephes not only failed to receive John and the other apostles, but he also spoke against them. His malicious gossip against the apostles showed what kind of man he really was.



      Diotrephes not only used his influence to forbid others from showing hospitality to John or his associates; he even tried to excommunicate those who tried to show such hospitality.


      BOICE again says it well, "To begin with, a man named Diotrephes had assumed an unwarranted and pernicious authority in the church, so much so that by the time of the writing of this letter John's own authority had been challenged and those who had been sympathetic to John had been excommunicated from the local assembly. Moreover, due to this struggle, traveling missionaries had been rudely treated, including probably an official delegation from John."



      The example of Diotrephes shows that those who love to have the preeminence also love to use whatever power they think they have as a sword against others.


      There have always been such people who love the preeminence, who are proud and selfish and self-centered who seek the places of power and the places of fame and the places of prestige. In fact, the Scriptures literally abound with such characters in this category, and I thought it might be instructive for us to just go back and meet some of this Hall of Infamy, people who would never show up in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, that's for sure. These are the anti-heroes.


      That is just another thing about the Bible...God does not EDIT or WHITEWASH His heroes nor anti-heroes nor Himself. He gives us the truth, good and bad about them, unlike secular journals, histories...which tend for the most part to paint whom they are writing about, recording their ruling lives, and personal lives in the best light and skip over or dismiss the bad. Almighty God tells it like it was, is and ever shall be always, Amen.


      I thought you might like to know other anti-heroes of The Bible. Most we have already studied with our CSN Bible studies, given my Kat, CindyLou, Charles, or myself over the years.



      Remember GENESIS 4, we met a man by the name of LAMECH.. He had already broken God's commandment by being a polygamist. Lamech said, “"I have slain a young man who merely wounded me, a young man who merely hurt me. God may take care of Cain sevenfold, but I'll take care of myself seventy-sevenfold." Lamech is the FIRST bully of the Bible.


      Lamech was one of those ungodly people who did ungodly deeds in an ungodly way and spoke harsh things against God. Lamech was a hard sinner and he flaunted his sin against God. He viewed himself as above God.



      Lamech composed his own song here. It is Hebrew poetry. Well here is an illustration of blasphemous arrogance. The FIRST murderer, Cain, had produced a grandson who is also a murderer. The first murder was the result of envy, this one was the result of pride. And what you have there is a picture of Lamech strutting before his two wives and pontificating about his bloody deed and how able he is to defend himself, even to the seventy-seventh limit.



      GENESIS 1O gives us another anti-hero, a proud man named Nimrod. His story is really the story, a horrible story of desperate rebellion against God by one who wanted to be preeminent. and he began to be a tyrant in the land. Nimrod appears to be the FIRST DICTATOR. The first one who brought together an organized rebellion against God. And Nimrod wanted to be first and it all ended up in Babel and Babylon, the mother of all false religion, it can all be traced back to Nimrod.





      JUDGES 9 we met another one of these kinds of people by the name of Abimelech. He was the half-breed son of Gideon. And he had these tremendous aspirations to become king. And he sought power and prominence and preeminence so that he gathered together all of his brothers to support him in his effort to be king and then killed them all, committing atrocities in order that he might eliminate any other potential claimant to his throne. God dealt with him in a most bizarre way. Three years later, while trying to smash down the tower while his army was attacking an enemy at Thebez, a woman dropped a millstone on him, hit him on his head, split his skull open. He immediately cried for his armor bearer to run through with a sword before he died from the crushed skull, lest it go down in history that he was killed by a woman. Thinking only of his pride down to the very end, he sought preeminence.



      ESTHER, which we have already studied, tells us of another anti-hero named HAMAN. Haman became drunk with power and drunk with prestige. He demanded everybody to obey him and bow before him and pay him homage and honor him, but Mordecai refused, because of that, HAMAN decided he would literally annihilate the Jews. He would commit genocide. He loved the preeminence to such a degree that he would literally obliterate a whole race of people because of one man who would not bow to him. He and his family ended up being hanged on the gallows he built to hang the Jews on.



      DANIEL 4 which we have already studied, tells us of NEBUCHADNEZZAR who sought to exalt himself and because he sought to exalt himself above God, God turned him into a maniac and left him out grazing like an animal for seven years, till he finally came to his senses. He is the model of self-centered proud power-mad love for preeminence.


      ACTS 12, which we have studied, tells us of HEROD, who sat on this throne, declared HEROD DAY, and expected the people to say, "The voice of a god and not a man." And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he didn't give God the glory, he was eaten by worms and died.



      MATTHEW 23, Jesus gives us a whole collection of prideful arrogant, self-piety, equal to God thinking people, rebelling against God people, THE PHARISEES AND SCRIBES, whom Jesus called, white sepulchers, tombs full of dead men's bones, hypocrites, and snakes and vipers. And they loved to be called rabbi. And they loved to be called father source. They loved to be called leader.



      MATTHEW 20, tells us there always have been these kinds of people, even among the people of God. We've given you an illustration of it. And it's a temptation even for good people. Remember that James and John had the audacity to get their mother to go to Jesus and plead with Jesus to give them the preeminent place in His Kingdom because they thought they were worthy of it. Can you imagine that? Jesus said, "You know, that's something for the Father to give, but it goes to those who have suffered the most, not those who have sought the preeminence." If you want to be first, you should seek to be last. You should be like the Son of Man who didn't come to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many.”

      That ended that conversation.



      And then John injects this whole section about this man who contrary to the call of loving hospitality is doing everything he can to prevent the servants of the gospel from having any reception in the church because he sees them as a threat to his power, a threat to his preeminence. Is there anything as ugly as spiritual pride? Anything? I don't think so. So John is probably thinking of The Bible history, when he says...



      Do not imitate what is evil, but what is good…


      John gave us two clear examples, one good (Gaius) and one bad (Diotrephes), and he now applies the point - follow the good, for we serve a good God and those who follow Him will likewise do good.

      John did NOT excommunicate Diotrephes, though as an apostle he had the authority to do so. Instead, he simply exposed him - and he trusted that discerning Christians would AVOID Diotrephes as they should.



      Verse 12 tells us of Demetrius: A GOOD example.


      Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true.”



      Demetrius has a GOOD testimony from all…


      John recommended this man to Gaius. Perhaps he was the one who carried the letter from John to Gaius, and John wanted Gaius to know that he was worthy of Christian hospitality.



      Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself…


      Demetrius was so faithful to the truth that even the truth was a witness on his behalf.



      Verses 13-14a tells us John explains such a short letter to Gaius.


      I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face.”



      We can sympathize with John's preference for personal, face to face communication rather than the writing of letters. Yet we are thankful that John was forced to write, so that we have the record of this letter of 3 John.



      Verse 14b tells us John’s Final blessings.


      Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.”

      Our friends greet you…


      In addition to a familiar blessing of peace upon Gaius, John also reminded him (and us) of the common ties of Christians - even if they are separated by miles, they are still friends in Jesus, and appropriately they should greet one another.



      Peace to you…


      This is a letter about contention and conflict; yet John appropriately ends the letter with a desire and expectation for peace. As Christians, we can and should have a sense of peace even in the midst of difficult times. Christians have the resources in Jesus Christ to have peace even in unsettled seasons.



      And then John closes, "Peace be to you," and I'm sure he wished that peace could pervade that congregation. And then he adds, "The friends greet you," which adds intimacy to the brothers, Gaius and John must have had mutual friends that they both knew.


      Three great truths stand out here in John’s last letter.


      FIRST, We are to KNOW the truth and WALK in the truth.


      SECOND, We are to be hospitable to others who PREACH the truth.


      THIRD, We are to PATTERN OUR LIVES after godly examples. And then there will be peace in the church and God will be glorified in His church.


      And then he adds, "Greet the friends...I love name."


      John, the beloved of Jesus Christ, the Apostle John, the great Apostle, the last Apostle who had that amazing life with our Lord Jesus Christ, who lived into his nineties, who was now the only Apostle left who had absorbed so many friendships and relationships, still knew the names...STILL KNEW the names of the people in his life. And he closes out his last letter by affirming how important friendship is, remembrance is, and peace in the body of Jesus Christ...His church.