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Getting to Know the Bible: 3 John Overview

Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.

Today we are going to visit our Getting to Know the Bible Series. In this series, our goal is to come to a comprehensive understanding of each book of the bible. At this point of the series we're going to focus on 3 John. But before we get to 3 John 1, I want to ensure we have a baseline understanding of the book of 3 John. This way we can have a full appreciation for the exquisiteness of the entire book, as well as each individual chapter.

And so, in that spirit, see below for a comprehensive overview of the book of 3 John, as we prepare to behold and discern 3 John, beginning with 3 John 1 in our next installment of this series.

Book Type: One of Apostle John’s five General letters, also known as a Catholic Epistle. and the 25th book of the New Testament.

Author: Apostle John

Date of Writing: ~A.D. 80-95

Audience: A man called the beloved Gaius, an unknown believer.

Theme: Love in Truth; discernment

Original Language: Greek

Genre: Letter

Purpose of Writing: Third John supplements statements on Christian hospitality in 2 John. It applauds a Christian named Gaius for living out the teachings of the apostles-he had welcomed traveling Christian missionaries into his home-while condemning Diotrephes, a selfish church leader who not only refused to help these itinerant, godly teachers but also had slandered and opposed those who disagreed with him. This book demonstrates that pride can divide Christians if they are not living by God's Word. To avoid the dual dangers of false teaching and division within the church, believers should practice the dual virtues of love and discernment.

Summary: John is writing with a strong emphasis on truth to beloved brother in Christ, Gaius, a layman of some wealth and distinction in a city near Ephesus. He highly commends Gaius' care and hospitality to his messengers whose mission was to take the Gospel from place to place, whether they were known to him or were strangers. John exhorts him to continue to do good and not to imitate evil, as in the example of Diotrephes. This man had taken over the leadership of a church in Asia and not only refused to recognize John’s authority as an apostle but also refused to receive his letters and submit to his directions. He also circulated malicious slanders against John and excommunicated members who showed support and hospitality to John’s messengers. Before John concludes his letter, he also commends the example of Demetrius, of whom he has heard excellent reports.

Overview: This brief letter of 15 verses (divided into just 14 in some translations) includes only one chapter. This is the second shortest book in the New Testament after 2 John. Other one-chapter books in the New Testament include Philemon, 2 John, and Jude. Third John begins with a one-verse introduction to Gaius from the elder, traditionally believed to be the apostle John. This elder states that he loves Gaius in truth, a key theme in the letter.

Verses 2–8 then develop the positive traits of Gaius. He treats the brethren, traveling Christian teachers, well (3 John 1:5). They speak highly of him among the churches (3 John 1:6). Such traveling teachers serve for the sake of the Name and receive no monetary support from Gentiles (3 John 1:7). They are to be supported by us as missionaries or messengers of the truth (3 John 1:8).

Verses 9–10 speak of the evil committed by Diotrephes, a proud church leader who disregarded the authority of Gaius and John (3 John 1:9). John hoped to rebuke him and his actions against God’s people (3 John 1:10).

Verse 11 emphasizes that believers are to imitate good, not evil (3 John 1:11). Verse 12 shifts focus to a third person, named Demetrius, who has a good reputation with everyone (3 John 1:12).

Verses 13–15 offer a brief conclusion. John wants to meet in person (3 John 1:13–14) and offers a blessing. He passes on greetings from others, and asks readers to greet their common friends by name.

Application: As believers, we should be discerning in who we follow, and take instruction from. We should also exhibit hospitality to each other, as well as to those who minister to us the word of YHWH.

Key Verses (ESV):

3 John 1:4: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

3 John 1:11: Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.

*Note: Several themes are included in this brief letter. John encourages Gaius in his hospitality towards teachers traveling to share the gospel. In addition, he speaks against Diotrephes, a prideful leader of one of the churches in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). Third, John speaks positively of Demetrius and his good testimony.

I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.

May the joy of the Lord continue to be your strength.

Love you much.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!

-Humble Servant

P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.

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