3 John 1
When I was a young Christian I remember learning the different books of the Bible, and their themes, with some very creative flashcards. According to these particular flashcards the theme of 2 John was, “Close the Door,” and the theme of 3 John was “Open the Door.” When you read through these 2 letters you understand the reason for the simple synopsis – in 2 John we are taught to “close the door” to false teachers, and in 3 John we are taught to “open the door” to true teachers of God’s Word.
Once again we have John the Beloved Apostle writing as an Elder, this time to a brother named Gaius, who appears to be a one of John’s “children,” in the sense that John may have been instrumental in leading him to the Lord. Someone had testified to John that Gaius was walking in the truth, and I echo his sentiments with enthusiasm, that there is no greater joy! As a parent and a pastor I agree wholeheartedly…there really is no greater joy than to see our children, honestly and genuinely in love with Jesus! I can have the most successful career or ministry, or be blessed financially, but if my children didn’t know the Lord, it would be tough to experience the fulness of joy.
John writes this letter to let the church know that it’s good to welcome faithful ministers and missionaries into their homes, and then to send them out on their way with prayers, words of encouragement, and even financial support at times. John mentions in v. 7 that they didn’t receive donations from non-believers, therefore we ought to receive them, show them hospitality, and send them forward in a manner worthy of God.
Apparently there was a man in the church named Diotrophes who liked to have preeminence and power, who wasn’t allowing the people to help genuine servants of the Lord. Diotrophes even opposed John! John said that when he arrived, he was going to deal with Diotrophes and discipline him, because he spoke maliciously, didn’t receive the brethren, and forbade others to do so. What a drag to see some disciples so pridefully divisive. John had learned his lesson, he had a vision for the entire body of Christ (see Luke 9:51-56).
John encourages the church not to imitate (mimic) what is evil, but to imitate what is good – this is the fruit, the evidence of salvation. If a person only does evil, they simply are not born again!
John mentions a man named Demetrius who had probably been rejected by Diotrophes; John tells the church he’s a good guy, it’s okay to receive him, show him hospitality, and to support his ministry. He had been recommended by the Apostle himself.
Again, John is hoping to visit them…it’s always better when it’s done in person.