In Third John or the apostle John’s third letter which is addressed to, “my dear friend Gaius,” he centers the letter around three men – Gaius, the example of one who follows Christ and loves others (verses 2-8); Diotrephes, the self-proclaimed church leader who does not reflect God’s values (verses 9-11); and Demetrius, who also follows the truth (verse 12). John encourages Gaius to practice hospitality, continue to walk in the truth, and do what is right.
John wrote to commend Gaius, who was taking care of traveling teachers and missionaries, and to warn against people like Diotrephes, who was proud and refused to listen to spiritual leaders in authority. If we are to live in the truth of the gospel, we must look for ways to support pastors, Christian workers, and missionaries today. All Christians should work together to support God’s work, both at home and around the world.
Although this is a personal letter, we can “look over the shoulder” of Gaius and apply its lessons to our lives. As you read Third John, with which man do you identify? Are you Gaius, generously giving to others? A Demetrius, loving the truth? or a Diotrephes, looking out for yourself and your “things”? Determine to reflect Christ’s values in your relationships, opening your home and touching others with his love.
Written by the apostle John, brother of the apostle James who was martyred in A. D. 42 by Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:2).
During the Great Scattering described in Acts 8-12 (A. D. 40s). possibly written from Jerusalem, since the apostles were headquartered there during the Great Scattering.
To Whom Written:
To “the elder unto the well beloved Gaius,” John’s friend (3 John 1).
The purpose of the letter of Third John was to warn Gaius about deceivers. Apparently, John’s agents had been rejected and mistreated by a man named Diotrephes, one of the deceivers mentioned in I and II John. Demetrius, John’s highly recommended agent, personally carried this letter to Gaius, so Diotrephes could not intercept it. John urged Gaius to do the right thing until he himself could come and deal with Diotrephes, no doubt with the sword that every apostle carried in the Acts period.
To download a PDF outline of Third John click here.
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