Today: [3 John 1:] A Personal Letter to a Friend. 3 John is unique in that it constitutes personal correspondence between John and his friend, a man named Gaius. For all that John wrote on the love of God and loving others, in 3 John we have a demonstration of what love looked like in the apostle’s personal life and friendships.
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[3Jo 1:1-14 KJV] 1 The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; 6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: 7 Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. 8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth. 9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth [them] out of the church. 11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. 12 Demetrius hath good report of all [men], and of the truth itself: yea, and we [also] bear record; and ye know that our record is true. 13 I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: 14 But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace [be] to thee. [Our] friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.
Here in 3 John is not so much a doctrinal treatise as a personal letter between friends. John writes to his friend Gaius expressing his love and his concern for the man’s well being. John the Beloved who wrote so often about love and the need to walk in love here demonstrates for us how that love flowed through him out to others. We are particularly advantaged not only to have John teachings on love then but to have a demonstration of the same.
In the second verse, John’s love boils over in an outpouring of benediction, blessing, and concern for his dear friend. In this we see the heart of God speaking to us as John speaks to his friend. What a treasure this letter must have been to Gaius that in spite of its brevity it was preserved, passed down and placed in the canon of scripture in the fifth century.
What is the heart of God toward us demonstrated in the words of John? That we prosper and be in health even as our souls prosper. What is the occasion of this outburst of sentiment? John has heard by word of mouth across the miles a testimony of Gaius’ love and the quality and character of the people that are with him in the Christian community wherein he serves. John beholds in the spirit the stellar quality of heart in this man and his followers and family and utterly rejoices at what he senses in his spirit. His outcry was “Oh, Gaius! I would that you would be outwardly prosperous and well as you are in your inner man and your walk with God!”
What about you? Are you in good spiritual health? What if your physical health suddenly shifted into parity with your spiritual wellbeing? Would you be fit, strong and well or would you be in intensive care on life support? God’s heart is that you thrive and be strong spiritually and that you would thrive and be well bodily and prosperous in natural things as well. God is a good, and loving Father and John’s heart reflects this in his sentiments toward his friend.
What about you? Do you wish for others what John wants for Gaius? Sometimes when people don’t measure up to what we think they should be doing, we secretly wish some downfall might be visited upon them to justify our criticisms. This was not in John’s thinking at all. He looks for the best and desires the best. He has no greater joy than to see these children to him in the faith walk in truth, experience truth and know the rewards of the life and life more abundantly that Jesus promised to all those that follow Him.
In v. 5 the apostle encourages Gaius to continue showing hospitality not only to the brothers and sisters of the faith but also to strangers. Gaius had a reputation that had reached John’s hearing as being a man who blessed others “after a godly sort” which means Gaius blessed people in the same style and with the same heart that God blesses his people. Is this your testimony? Do you bless others as God has blessed you? Are you holding back? Are you indifferent? There was no indifference in John, and there was no indifference in Gaius. These men were brothers under the skin delighting in blessing and being a blessing to all they met by the leadership of the Holy Spirit. What a refreshing they must have been!
Gaius’ love and benevolence is in contrast to a man known to John by the name of Diotrephes who interfered in the affairs of the church with contentious ways and jealous affectation seeking to draw disciples after himself. John is aged when he writes this letter, but he has every intention to rise up and make the journey to Gaius community to deal with this man and his maliciousness. How do you hand prating and contentious people around you? Do you leave them for someone else to deal with or do you interfere with them, reproving them that others may fear?
Diotrephes notwithstanding John intends to send a mutual friend to Gaius by the name of Demetrius. Demetrius is held on high regard with a good reputation among all the brethren, having the personal endorsement and seal of approval from John himself. John goes on to say that he had many things to write to Gaius but instead plans to come personally to see him. Here again, as in 2 John the apostle wants more than remote communication via a letter. He wants to be in the presence of his friend. He remembers laying his head on Jesus’ shoulder when they sat for their meals and that love that he soaked in during those times now saturates his heart. He wants to give away the love that Jesus showered upon him. Is that your desire? Let us pause and soak up the love and fondness that Jesus would shower upon us. Take a moment, closing your eyes and in your mind just lay your head on Jesus’ shoulder. Feel him respond as He wraps His arms around you, brushing his lips on the top of your head and you know that He loves you. That is the love that is ours and the love it is our privilege to give out to others.
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