This is another short letter by the apostle John, written between 85-95 A.D. John addresses this letter to a loyal believer called Gaius. The second letter of John spoke of not helping missionaries who speak falsely. Well Gaius was a gracious helper of missionaries. Therefore, John had a few things to say, and some comparisons to make to other leaders, Diotrephes and Demetrius.
John starts the letter addressing Gaius and wishing him prosperity. He praises Gaius’ faithfulness and charity unto the church. This is because he helps missionaries faithfully. This sets a good example of other Christians, which is why John praises it. It also allows other audiences to realize the importance of helping missionaries. Now, missionaries are not beggars, they are simple people doing God’s work by carrying the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. Therefore, it is important to support their endeavors.
Next, John comments on another leader, Diotrephes, who is like an opposite of Gaius. Diotrephes was someone who did not receive John well, thus firing malicious words, and not being content with himself enough to help people in the church. Lastly, he comments on Demetrius, another leader, who had good reports from all men. People loved Demetrius. John claimed that Demetrius does well. John ends the letter letting Gaius know he would see him face-to-face soon (which is probably why the letter was short).
When it comes to walking in the truth, as John wrote in verse 3, this literally means to be good in your faith so much that people observe and testify of you. Gaius was a man that John thought mentionable as walking in the truth. Of course, Diotrephes was rebuked, mainly for undermining an office in the church and preventing people from being hospitable. Moreover, it is only right to not imitate evil (but rather to do good of God). Demetrius was another good example just like Gaius, which is why he was also mentioned.
It is important in the body of Christ, that God’s people do not mock the example of Diotrephes, but rather take on a better approach like Gaius and Demetrius. Therefore, we, as Christians, should support missionaries and help those who are in need. While doing this, we heed John’s warning in 2 John, where he warns about false teachers. If we heed those warnings, and give faithfully – then we will also walk in the truth, prosper, and be in good health. By supporting the Great Commission, we are doing the Will of God for all His people. We can expect to be blessed in this degree as stated, if we do God’s Will.
As such, we can put labels on these three men. Then, we can know what people would follow as an example. Gaius was a dependable leader in the church, who helped people. Diotrephes was the dominating or controlling official. Last, Demetrius is the kind messenger, who seems to have a good heart like Gaius. These are great examples.
Lessons and other notes from John here
PEOPLE: Gaius is a helpful man who provides hospitality to traveling preachers. He supports these people and wishes them well. He is warm, especially in welcoming people to preach into the Church, and helps strangers as well. He also helps preserve God’s truth.
Diotrephes is a man who acts out of selfish ambition – kind of a counter to Gaius, as this man was simply one who opposed the authority of John; refusing to pass on his instruction to the Church. He made false accusations about John and was very domineering. He didn’t welcome traveling preachers, and would be subject to John’s punishment if he had to come.
Demetrius was a man with a good report among men, and was to be a reliable helper in the difficult time of preserving the Gospel in the time of great false teaching.
Dangers of the defiled road:
- Romans 13:13 identifies: Rioting, drunkenness, chambering, wantonness, strife, envying
- 2 Peter 2:10 identified: Walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, Despising of government, Presumptuous are they, Self-willed are they, They speak evil of dignities
- 1 John 1:6, “If we say we have fellowship with Him, but walk in darkness, we lie and don’t know the truth.”
Instructions to remain of the prosperous road:
- We should walk in good works (Ephesians 2:10)
- Walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10)
- Walk in Christ Jesus, be rooted and grounded in Him and stablished in the faith – abounding with thanksgiving (Colossians 2:6-7)
- If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other (1 John 1:7)
Conclusion of the matter
The teaching on the Characteristics of Diotrephes was good, because he was inhospitable, and therefore, this was not Christlike. It’s good to learn what not to do, because it helps you do what you’re supposed to do. This was a prideful man that did not receive others, was selfish, and forbade others to receive the brethren. He did not care much for people, and had an attitude of arrogance among them. These are different ways that authority can devour a person’s personality and intentions. Give a person a good amount of power, and you may have a problem on your hands if that person misuses the power they’re given. John was so angry at this man that his old self was starting to boil, because he could not believe the insolence stemming from him. He was just one example of someone who isn’t Christlike.
John, once again, is amazed at the hospitality of those under his care and those that are his friends. He is so happy that Gaius is a hospitable person and glad that he is prospering. He is so excited when his people walk in truth, and he hopes that he will continue. He is not happy at Diotrephes, who is a near mere polar opposite of Gaius. He warns about Diotrephes and talks about him quite a bit for the issues that he has brought to the Church, and hopes he can stop the nonsense. Other than all that, he is still against the false teachings of the day, and hopes that they can continually be dealt with, so he appoints people to help (namely Demetrius) to preserve the truth of the Gospel.
We could learn from these examples. We could learn the great hospitality of Gaius and put it into practice immediately, and we could learn how not to be in our hospitality through the example of Diotrephes. Being a hospitable person requires selflessness, self-control, compassion, showing mercy, and other virtues – and therefore, selfishness, arrogance, pride, mean-spirited attitudes, and other evil or negative things should not be welcome in a hospitable place.
Some have said the Church is a hospital for sinners. Whether that’s true or not is of no concern, but what is of concern, is that we do treat people in our everyday lives with hospitality, whether they are a Christian or non-Christian (for John told Gaius to not just treat Christians, but also strangers). We should follow suit on the admonitions given to Gaius, for it can help us improve our ministry and methodology of helping people in our everyday lives.