Updated: Dec 13, 2022
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Great Things Come in Small Packages: 3 John
The saying “great things come in small packages” comes to mind when I think about 3 John.
I feel like 3 John is a good book to study if you, like myself, struggle to read long passages of scripture - because once you have read these 15 verses, you have finished a whole book of the Bible! I would highly recommend getting your bible or bible app out and follow along!
The book of 3 John is a letter written by John (one of Jesus’ 12 disciples) to a man named Gaius, who was a member of a church that was overseen by John.
We learn about three Christian men in this book:
Gaius and Demetrius provide imitative examples and Diotrephes serves as a not so imitative example. First, we learn about Gaius…
John begins by commending Gaius for his hospitality towards friends and strangers. In fact, John was told of Gaius’ faithfulness to the truth by fellow believers! Gaius demonstrated his faith (v3), extended hospitality to all (v5) and loved others unconditionally (v7) which makes him a great example to all Christians. Side note, when I study different passages of scripture, I usually turn to different versions to gain a greater perspective. When reading verse 5 in the message version, when speaking about extending hospitality, John says, “you make faith visible.” How awesome is that?!
Next, we learn about Diotrephes who would be somewhat of a troublemaker. Now, Diotrephes was a Christian and a very prominent member of the church however, he strove to create problems among the church’s members. We can pull SIX different things from only TWO verses about Diotrephes:
Firstly, He was a very proud man “who loves to have first place…” (v9). This is wrong because pride blinds us to the fact that it was God who gives us everything that we have. Pride can also cut us off from others as we can become arrogant and egotistical and furthermore become someone that no one wants to be around. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says, “As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
Secondly, unlike Gaius, Diotrephes was very unwelcoming to fellow believers. We are told to have fellowship with other Christians in 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Fellowship encourages us to grow in our faith.
The third statement about Diotrephes is that he used “malicious words” (v10). So, what does malicious mean? It means intending to do harm. In simple terms, Diotrephes was a gossip. As Christians, we should strive to only allow good things to come out of our mouths. As the saying goes, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!”
Another thing that Diotrephes did was prevent others from showing hospitality to others. It is already wrong that he, a Christian, was not welcoming to others but he was telling others to do the same. Remember – kindness is a fruit of the spirit.
Diotrephes wanted people to follow his poor example, which is just another aspect of his pride. He “loves to have first place” (v9) and he wants others to aspire to be like him.
Finally, and probably the most extreme, he excommunicated people from church (v10)! In this case, we can see Diotrephes making a bad decision because people wouldn’t follow his bad decision. However, we can look at this as a good thing. We can clearly see that Diotrephes constantly acts in defiance to God and it is definitely better for believers to have no association with someone like this unless they are praying for them or evangelising to them.
John then goes on to write to Gaius about a man named Demetrius. John only mentions Demetrius in one verse (verse 12) but we can learn quite a bit about him. Demetrius had a good reputation among believers, accepted God’s truth and walked in faith. But what does this mean? John 14:6 says ‘Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” If we are walking in the truth, then we are walking in the way of Jesus and striving to become more Christ-like. This means reading the bible, studying it and ultimately putting it into practice daily. As I mentioned previously, Demetrius had a good reputation among believers, much like Gaius. To maintain a good reputation, we should want to be more like Jesus and walk in the truth. Proverbs 22:1 says, ‘a good name is to be chosen over great wealth; favour is better than silver and gold.’ When you come to the end of your life, how do you want to see the life you lived? Do you want to see a life of love for material objects, or do you want to see a life of love for God and others?
What can we learn from these three men?
Well, from Gaius we can learn to be hospitable, loving and committed to the truth. From Diotrephes we can learn to be modest, have fellowship, to be truthful, to be kind and to be God-fearing. And finally, from Demetrius we can learn to strive to be Christ-like and reputable.
A verse that perfectly sums up 3 John is verse 11, ‘Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.”
14 Jul 2021