This week we read 3 John. We begin with 3 John 1:1-8
Although this epistle does not have a listed author it is traditionally thought (based upon the style of writing, the vocabulary etc) that it was written by the Apostle John – the same John who wrote the gospel of John, the preceding two epistles as well as the book of Revelation.
v1: The elder: The author, presumablyJohn, is speaking of himself here. He was probably not speaking as the elder of a local congregation, but as someone who oversaw many different congregations. As such, he was in a position of authority and respect. Elders had a reputation of providing G-dly counsel to individuals, as well as to the local assembly.
- Gaius: John iswriting to this individual (possibly a leader in a local assembly) in order that the local congregation might be set in order. When the church is in order, the power of G-d can be released through them, and they can have a testimony that is pleasing to G-d.
- Love: (ἀγαπῶ) Agape – a love that involves investment and sacrifice. The author of this epistle loved Gaius and wanted to be involved in his life – willing to assist him and make sacrifices for him.
- In truth: John recognized that Gaius knew truth and lived according to it. John wanted that same proper (correct) doctrine to characterize this local congregation. G-d is a G-d of truth. Our enemy, the father of lies, enjoys deceit. In the last days a very strong delusion will be in the earth, and this will lead to a rejection of the truth (2 Thess 2:9-12).
v2: Pray: We should be praying for others. We need to pray that they would mature in their faith and grow in their knowledge of the truth, so that they are able to implement truth in their lives. This is a prayer we should also be praying for ourselves as well. Living in truth pleases G-d.
- All things: In everything that can be part of our lives.
- Prospers: Has success, achieves – not what we want to achieve, but achieving what G-d has called us to achieve/fulfil. Biblically, prosperity has nothing to do with what we want or desire. We need to submit to the purposes of G-d, His objectives, in every area of our lives (leisure, work, sustenance, service to Him etc). The prosperity that the Word of G-d speaks about is G-d having His way, His will, in our lives.
- Your soul prospers: This is speaking about the spiritual aspect of an individual. When we walk in truth we are going to prosper spiritually. As Gaius prospers spiritually, John is praying that his health and everything he has will also be touched by the power of G-d – every aspect of Gaius’ life. This does not necessarily mean that someone who is in the faith is going to be wealthy materially. John is simply revealing that truth is fundamental in bringing about the prosperity or success of someone spiritually. As we grow and mature spiritually, we will have discernment, and G-d will move to accomplish heavenly purposes in and through our lives.
v3: The truth…in you: John placed an emphasis on truth. Gaius was someone who implemented the truth of G-d in his life. Truth is the foundation for success and spiritual prosperity, and it should touch every aspect of our lives. It is only when we know the truth, and when we walk in it, that we can submit to the objectives/purposes of G-d.
- You walk in the truth: Walking is an important concept Biblically. In Judaism, applying the instructions or law of G-d to our lives is related to the term ‘walking’. ‘Walking’ speaks about a behaviour, a lifestyle, a way of living out our lives.
v4: Joy: This is the second time that John has emphasized joy (see 3 John 1:3). John is filled with joy when he sees others implementing truth in their lives, as he knows that truth leads to spiritual success and prosperity (i.e. G-d’s will being done).
- Children: This is a word that is frequently used by John. It is a term that speaks about those that he has great endearment, love, compassion, and concern for. In many instances he is probably discipling and training them, so that they learn greater truth in the Word of G-d and can mature in it.
v5: Do faithfully: Truth caused Gaius to behave in faith, and to do the things that demonstrated what he believed.
- Whatever you do: Making or working. A word of action, a doing word.
- Brethren: Other believers.
- Strangers: There is great debate as to who John meant by ‘strangers’. He could have been talking about fellow believers who were unknown to Gaius but whom Gaius impacted (For example: Doing something similar to what is described in Acts 11:29-30 or 1 Cor 16:1-3). ‘Strangers’ could also be referring to those who were non- believers (Gentiles or foreigners – see 3 John 1:7). Either way, Gaius had a testimony of doing faith before those he knew and those he did not personally know (Believers and unbelievers).
v6: Have borne witness/testified: John is writing to encourage Gaius. Gaius has embraced truth, he is living in a way that demonstrates faith, and he shows no partiality (favouritism) for those fellow believers that he knows and for those who are unknown to him. He has a testimony that is pleasing to G-d.
- Your love: Gaius demonstrated love to those he knew and to those he did not know.
- In a manner worthy of G-d: This means that he put things into order in a proper or G-dly way.
- You will do well: He did things well, properly.
v7: They: Fellow believers who went out (preaching, teaching etc) in G-d’s name.
- His name: (Ha Shem) G-d. Within the Jewish community it is very common to refer to G-d as ‘HaShem’ or ‘The Name’.
- Gentiles: This is a term that could refer to strangers or foreigners, non – Jews or people from the nations (see 3 John 1:5). In this verse John is clearly speaking about non-believers. The term ‘Gentile’ is used frequently throughout the New Testament. Usually, it is a term used to describe those who have no (old or new) covenantal relationship with G-d.
- Taking nothing from the Gentiles: These believers did not take anything from the unbelievers and nor did they participate with them, because the unbelievers were not in the truth.
v8: We… ought to receive such: These (sent out) believers behaved in a way that agreed with truth and therefore they agreed with us. For this reason, we can fellowship or partner with them. Truth impacts our decisions and, therefore, our behaviour – who we fellowship with, who we serve with, who we receive into our congregations, who we do not receive etc.
- *Fellow workers: By receiving them we demonstrate to them that we are committed and loyal to the same truth that they are walking in (truth that has its foundation in the Word of G-d). We become fellow servants, as we are all committed to, and working towards, the same objective or goal – to see G-d glorified and lives transformed.