3 John: do not imitate what is evil but what is good
Scholars agree that the author of 3 John is John the apostle, who wrote this epistle around the same time as 1 John and 2 John, between 85-95 AD. John rebuked Diotrephes, a dictatorial leader in the Church around Ephesus who rejected itinerant teachers sent by John and excommunicated those who supported the itinerant teachers. The epistle was written to Gaius who supported John’s itinerant teachers.
Heavenly Father, we pray that You will open our spiritual eyes, ears, and hearts to understand scripture and wisdom to apply spiritual truth into our lives. We pray that You will speak to each one of us individually through Your word, in Jesus’ name, Amen,
3 John 1-14, Gauls, Diotrephes, and Demetrius.
VV 1-4, 1 The Elder, To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. 2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
This epistle from John, the Elder, was addressed to the beloved Gaius whom he loved in truth. John prayed for Gaius’ health, material, and spiritual prosperity. He rejoiced when other Christians testified to him that Gaius was walking in the truth.
VV 5-8, 5 Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, 6 who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, 7 because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. 8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.
John commended Gaius for his generosity in receiving, showing hospitality, and looking after the needs of itinerant teachers that he sent to him.
VV 9-10, 9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. 10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.
John rebuked a dictatorial leader called Diotrephes, who rejected itinerant teachers that John sent to the churches in the region of Ephesus. Diotrephes even excommunicated those who supported the itinerant preachers.
VV 11-12, 11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true.
John warned his audience and us not to do evil but to do good. Those who do good are from God, those who do evil do not know God. John commended Demetrius who had a good testimony.
VV 13-14, 13 I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; 14 but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.
John wanted to write a longer letter but he preferred to speak to them in person by visiting them soon. He pronounced peace to them as a farewell greeting.
We are to do good and not evil. We are not to imitate Diotrephes, the dictatorial leader, but to imitate Gaius and Demetrius who supported preachers and teachers of the Word. There is no place for dictatorial leaders in the kingdom of God.
Heavenly Father, thank You for speaking to us through the epistle of 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John. Thank You for the timeless messages that transcend time, culture, geography, history, and language. Help us to have a strong foundation in the Word so as not to be deceived by false doctrines, in Jesus’ name, Amen.