This third Letter of John is the second shortest book in the New Testament, after 2 John. John, the apostle and closest friend of Jesus, writes this letter probably from Ephesus, where he spent the last years of his life.
It is addressed to Gaius but clearly intended for the whole church.
In that day it was normal for travelling teachers to be given hospitality in the churches that they visited. But as we see in 2 John, not every travelling preacher was worthy of that care. There were false teachers who wanted to force their heresy on others and churches were being wrecked as a result.
But in 3 John, John commends Gaius for looking after people so well. It was also important that those worthy of being looked after were cared for so that the Gospel could be communicated speedily across the Roman Empire and into areas that didn’t have it.
John’s purpose is to:
- Encourage his co-worker, Gaius.
- Condemn the behaviour of Diotrephes, a dictatorial leader who had taken over one of the churches in the province of Asia.
- Commend the example of Demetrius who had a good testimony from all.
Why Read it?
It won’t take you long!
How you behave towards others matters. Gaius is included in the Bible for his hospitality, Demetrius for his life, but Diotrophes for his attitude towards people who are preaching the good news. It’s clear who you should want to emulate.
You won’t be included in scripture, but your love and kindness will be precious to the church you are part of and valued by God. Make sure that your actions are worthy of commendation.
|1:5-8||The faithfulness of Gaius|
|1:9-11||The divisiveness of Diotrephes|
|1:12||The service of Demetrius|