Friday, August 21, 2015

Reading Through 3rd John

index johnI am continuing to read through the New Testament accompanied by the commentary series The Bible Speaks Today, edited by John R. W. Stott. This post quotes from the book The Message of John’s Letters: Living in the Love of God, written by David Jackman. My analysis of the letter by 3rd John is in black below. Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I post quotes from these commentaries on my Facebook page and periodic summaries of the commentary here on my blog. I welcome discussion on these post on my Facebook page. As always, quotes from the author are in blue font.

The 3rd Epistle of John is also authored by "John the Elder," traditionally considered to be John the Apostle.  The opening, closing, style, and outlook are so similar to 2nd John that both epistles must have been written by the same hand. It was written to Gaius. He was probably a Gentile member of one of the churches of Asia Minor which John had charge after the death of Paul. It seems that Gaius was showing hospitality to traveling teachers who had been sent to the church by John. He was being opposed in this by Diotrephes who was rejecting the authority of John and trying to establish his own. John wrote the letter to commend Demetrius to be received as a teacher of the truth and encourage Gaius. This letter was most likely written at about the same time as 2nd John.  

The letter was written to encourage believers to support ministries of teachers of the truth and to remind believers that love results in practical action. 3 John chartThe message of 3rd John is "Faithfulness to the truth is seen in loving actions that promote the spread of the Gospel. Those that do the right thing show that they know God and are His children." That is, Love is Acting on The Truth

Faithfulness is shown by daily practical actions based on God's truth. Believers should be concerned for each others' well-being. Gaius showed his faithfulness to truth by supporting the ministries of apostolic teachers. We show what we really believe in by what we support. Disciples bring joy to their mentors when they act according to the truth. 1-4

Every Christian has a responsibility to work for the cause of the truth, and the extent to which we are prepared to do so, whatever it may cost us, may well be the most reliable indicator of the true depth of our believing. One of the greatest joys of Christian dedication is Christian teamwork. 3 John 1-8, 195

Gaius' good example shows that faithfulness is seen in meeting the needs of God ministers and showing love to God's people. Hospitality to God's people, even those we don't know and partnership with God's ministers is an important evidence of faithfulness. We must continue to support Christian ministry and Christian ministry should be supported from within the church, not from outside it. Those who support Christian ministry become partners in the ministry and share in its reward. 5-7

Very few churches have cause for satisfaction when they look at their level of support for world mission, or even for their own missionaries. One still hears of missionaries who are able to stay on location abroad only with the financial support of their fellow missionaries. If local church leaders are to be held ‘in the highest regard in love because of their work’ (1 Thes. 5:13), surely that applies even more strongly in the case of those who have left home and family for the sake of the Lord and the gospel. Providing for the financial needs of those who have been sent out for the sake of the Name is a spiritual work in itself. Those who represent the Lord should be supported worthily, not in luxury but adequately. Some churches need to take these principles much more seriously. 3 John 1-8, 196

Diotrephes bad example shows that lack of support for God's ministers reflects a selfish desire for control and lack of understanding of God's truth. Love of control and power reveal a lack of truthful living. Those that do not live by truth (false leaders) reveal themselves in their loveless words and actions, rejection of the apostolic authority of the scriptures and abuse of their authority. 8-10

Whenever we start to serve ourselves rather than Christ, or to use our fellow Christians for our own ego trip, or to become concerned about our status within the church, we need to recognize the Diotrephes syndrome and take whatever strong action is needed to eliminate it. 3 John 9-10, 199

Believers must continue to love God's people, respect God's word and promote the Gospel despite the opposition of false leadership. Your relationship to truth is most clearly seen in your actions. 11-14

As we have looked at these three very different, and yet representative, church members around whom the letter revolves, we cannot fail to be challenged concerning our own discipleship. The ultimate proof of the truth we profess to believe and the love we profess to exercise will be seen neither in words nor in feelings but in the progressive transformation of our character, and therefore of our lifestyle, into the image of Christ. The challenge to us now is how much are we really prepared to let Jesus Christ change us. Is it to be my will or his? 3 John 13-14, 202

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