3 John: The True Meaning


3 John: Hospitality And Support For Traveling Missionaries

The letter known as 3 John was likely penned around 90-100 AD, during the late first century. Tradition attributes the authorship to John the Apostle, one of the Twelve Disciples who followed Jesus.

The epistle was most probably written from the bustling city of Ephesus, an important commercial and cultural hub on the western coast of Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey. At the time, Ephesus was a thriving metropolis, home to the renowned Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The city had also become a center of early Christianity, with the Apostle Paul having established a church there, and John believed to have spent his final years.

Politically, the region was under the control of the Roman Empire, which had extended its influence throughout the Mediterranean. The Christian community in Ephesus and the surrounding areas would have been subject to Roman rule, though the letter does not indicate any specific persecution.

The letter is addressed to an individual named Gaius, whom the author praises for his hospitality and support of the traveling missionaries. It also condemns the behavior of a man named Diotrephes, who is accused of rejecting the author’s authority and refusing to welcome other Christian workers. This provides a glimpse into the internal dynamics and power struggles within the early church.

The significance of 3 John lies in its insights into the challenges faced by the nascent Christian movement as it sought to establish itself and spread the Gospel. The letter emphasizes the importance of mutual support, hospitality, and unity among believers, even in the face of dissent and opposition from within the community. It serves as a valuable historical document, shedding light on the lived experiences of the first generations of Christians.

The Author of 3 John

The author of the book of 3 John is traditionally believed to be the Apostle John, the same author of the Gospel of John and the letters 1 and 2 John. John was one of the twelve disciples chosen by Jesus and was known as the “beloved disciple.” He was a close companion of Jesus and was present at many significant events in Jesus’ life, including the crucifixion. John writes to Gaius in the book of 3 John, commending him for his hospitality and support of traveling missionaries. John’s motivation in writing this letter was to encourage and affirm Gaius in his faithfulness and to encourage the church to support those who were spreading the message of the gospel. John also addresses the issue of Diotrephes, who was causing trouble in the church by refusing to show hospitality to those who were preaching the truth. John’s personal circumstances at the time of writing this letter are not explicitly mentioned in the text, but as an elderly disciple of Jesus, he likely faced challenges and persecution for his faith. Despite this, John continued to faithfully serve and support the early Christian community through his writings and teachings.

Overview of 3 John

The epistle of 3 John is a personal letter written by the apostle John, likely addressed to a man named Gaius. At just 14 verses, it’s a short but meaningful work that commends Gaius for his hospitality and support of traveling missionaries.

The main themes of 3 John are hospitality, truth, and supporting fellow believers in their ministry efforts. John praises Gaius for his generosity and encourages him to keep up the good work. The letter is structured in four parts: greetings and commendation of Gaius, praise for his support of missionaries, condemnation of Diotrephes’ selfishness, and final words of encouragement.

Throughout the epistle, John emphasizes the importance of walking in truth and love, echoing similar sentiments from his other writings. He highlights the significance of Christians supporting one another in practical ways, through hospitality and generosity.

Though brief, 3 John carries valuable lessons for believers. It serves as a reminder to live out our faith by showing love and care for our brothers and sisters in Christ. The epistle also underscores the unity and mutual support that should characterize the Christian community as we work together to further God’s kingdom.

Key themes of 3 John

3 John is about Hospitality

The theme of hospitality is prominent in the book of 3 John. In this short letter, the author commends Gaius for his hospitality towards traveling missionaries who were spreading the message of the Gospel. The writer emphasizes the importance of supporting these messengers of God, showing kindness and hospitality to them as they journey in the name of Christ. This act of hospitality is seen as a way of participating in the work of God and furthering the mission of spreading the truth. Conversely, the author also criticizes Diotrephes for his lack of hospitality and his refusal to welcome these missionaries, displaying a selfish and unchristian attitude. The message of 3 John underscores the significance of hospitality in the Christian community, encouraging believers to show love and support to those who are working for the Kingdom of God. (3 John 1:5-8)

3 John is about Support

The key theme in the book of 3 John is the importance of hospitality and support for fellow believers. The author, John, commends Gaius for his hospitality towards traveling missionaries who were spreading the message of Christ (3 John 1:5-8). He emphasizes the need for believers to support these workers in their ministry, showing love and care for them as they go about God’s work (3 John 1:6). On the other hand, John also warns against the negative example of Diotrephes, who refused to welcome these missionaries and even hindered others from doing so (3 John 1:9-10). Through these examples, the book of 3 John highlights the importance of showing hospitality and support to those who are spreading the gospel, as a way of participating in their work and furthering the kingdom of God.

3 John is about Truthfulness

3 John emphasizes the importance of truthfulness in relationships and interactions. The writer commends Gaius for his commitment to the truth and living according to it (3 John 1:3-4). In contrast, Diotrephes is criticized for his love of power and spreading malicious gossip (3 John 1:9-10). The letter highlights the need to discern between those who walk in truth and those who do not, urging believers to imitate what is good (3 John 1:11). Ultimately, truthfulness is presented as a foundational aspect of Christian living, essential for fostering genuine fellowship and unity among believers.

Important Verses in 3 John:

3 John 1:2: 2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

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

3 John 1:5-6: 5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;
6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:

3 John 1:11: 11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.