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3 John 1:3-8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, just as you are walking in the truth. No greater joy do I have than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.
Gaius Commended
Beloved ones, you act faithfully in whatever you do for the brothers, especially when they are strangers; who testified to your love before the congregation.[3] You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.

GAIUS: THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE 3 John 3–8

John continues his comments to Gaius with more encouragement. He writes, It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth (v. 3). Once again, as in the second letter, John highlights the truth in these opening lines. He is all about sound teaching and protecting the people from heresy. He lauds his friend for faithfulness in belief and faithfulness in the practice of the faith. This balance of faith and practice has been the steady theme in all three letters.

Verse 4 is such a tender and universal expression of a parent, spiritually and otherwise. John writes, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. The love of parents causes them to desire that their children have it better than they. They want them to excel in every way. It causes grief and pain to see their children struggle and suffer, while it brings sheer delight to see them succeed and thrive. Christian parents feel that way about the faith and spiritual health of their children. Pastors feel that way about their parishioners and those whom they have led toward Christ. Teachers often feel that way about their pupils. Coaches feel that way about those on their teams. Maybe every Christian would do well to consider a handful of “younger” Christians in the congregation as their “children” in the faith.

LIFE CHANGE

Leave a Legacy

Most people want to leave something behind that allows their influence to continue. We begin to wonder what it is that will remain of our lives and efforts after we are gone. Besides whatever else we leave behind, Christians want to leave a legacy of faith and integrity, an example of how to live life in faith and love. We want others to be inspired by our lives, thereby helping them be inspired to live lives of faith and holiness in Christ. May all who come behind us find us faithful!

PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL

Verses 5–8 get to the central point of extending hospitality. Again, the warmth and respect for Gaius shows as John writes, Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you (v. 5). Gaius apparently had a heart and willingness to reach out to the visiting strangers who apparently were friends of John. They were probably some of the itinerant teachers who had to rely on the support of the churches to which they ministered.

The strangers were certainly positive about Gaius. John says, They have told the church about your love (v. 6). He was apparently a man with a great heart and practical compassion. We cannot be sure exactly what Gaius’ role was in the early Church. He may have been a leading layperson. He may have had some ecclesiastical position. We do not know for sure. Whatever Gaius’ role, John gives him advice very different from that which he gave to “the chosen lady” in the second letter. He tells Gaius that he would do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. This is a strong encouragement to treat these folks with godly kindness and grace.

AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT_01

This letter is the only one in the New Testament not to mention the name of Christ directly. However, John says that the visiting teachers did their work for the sake of the Name (v. 7). To whom does “the Name” refer? The NIV is very close to the direct Greek phrase, and we find a similar usage in Acts 5:41. “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” The context of that passage is the opposition the apostles were receiving for speaking in Jesus’ name. On other occasions (Acts 4:12; Phil. 2:9–10), similar use is made of “the name.” The Name is Jesus.

GREAT THEMES

Hospitality

The Didache, the first-century Church manual to which reference was made in the introduction to the Second Epistle, shows that early Christian hospitality was sometimes abused. Instructions are given that an “apostle” may not stay beyond one day or, “in case of necessity,” two. “If he stays three days, he is a false prophet” (xi. 5). On departing, he may receive enough food to last him his journey. But “if he asks for money, he is a false prophet” (xi. 6). Again, if a prophet, apparently speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, says “give me money, or something else,” he is not to be heeded unless the money is “for others in need” (xi. 12). It is recognized that true prophets have a right to stay and be supported (13), but an ordinary Christian traveler must not be entertained free for more than two or three days (xii. 2). If he wants to settle, “he must work for his living … If he refuses to do this, he is treading on Christ” (xii. 3–5).

Those traveling evangelists, teachers, and missionaries were apparently dependent only on the Church since they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. Since their mission was honorable, and they were men of integrity to the truth, John wanted Gaius to be sure that there would be those who would show hospitality to such men so that they may work together for the truth (v. 8).[1]

By David A. Case and David W. Holdren

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[1] David A. Case and David W. Holdren, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude: A Commentary for Bible Students (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2006), 347–349.

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