By Charlie Garrett
and Rory Wilson
This page comprises the Daily Devotionals that I sent out while working through the book of 3 John. If there's a particular passage in this book that you don't understand, scroll down to read the analysis. I hope what you find will bless you. I want to give my sincere appreciation to Rory Wilson who took the time to compile and edit these for me. God bless you brother!
Daily Bible Verse
By Charlie Garrett
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth. Psalm 115:1
The Elder, To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth: 3 John -1
This is John’s third and final epistle in the New Testament. It consists of 14 verses and mentions “truth” six times in five verses. Like his other letters, the subject of the truth of the Person and work of Jesus Christ is at the forefront of his thoughts. Despite being “the Apostle of Love” John has no time for heretics and clearly identifies the consequences of such views.
As in 2 John, he begins his letter with “The Elder.” Because of his reputation, age, and status, this was all that was necessary to identify himself to his readers. This is a personal letter and is being written to Gaius. Gaius was a very common name at the time and so he can’t be linked with any other Gaius – either mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament or from archaeological discoveries. As we go through this short letter, we’re going to get a good idea of the workings of the church at this early stage in Christianity and about the problems they faced then.
Some of these problems are still being faced today. One of the problems is discontent among those within the body leading towards animosity. We can tell this even from this first verse. John uses an emphatic “I” in today’s verse implying that there were those who were at enmity with Gaius. John was stressing, in essence, that “even though others don’t love you I (stated boldly) do.” And why was there this bond of love? Because of the truth, meaning the doctrine of Jesus Christ when properly taught and accepted. John loved those who received the truth which implies that he had no love for those who didn’t, or those who taught it falsely. Let’s take the Bible in its proper context when dealing with such issues as Christian love.
Again Lord, we look with anticipation at the coming letter and the treasures of wisdom You have placed there. May we properly handle these words so that You will be glorified and we will be found truthful in our lives and doctrine. What more could a soul desire than this! Amen.
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 John -2
John, speaking to Gaius, calls him “beloved.” He uses the same term at the beginning of each major point, stating it again in verses 5 and 11. John prays that Gaius “may prosper in all things and be in health.” This is pointing to temporal things and indicates that it is completely acceptable to pray for temporal blessings.
In the case of the word “prosper” we have the image of a successful journey, so John is praying for a successful journey in all the things of life. However, this isn’t a call to a prosperity gospel where we can “claim” these things. That’s a twisted way of looking at “pray.” Instead, a prayer is a petition of request, not a demand. Likewise, it says his prayer for Gaius is to “be in health.” This may indicate that he was ill and that prayers for health (restoration and continuance of that health) were being offered. Again, this isn’t a pronouncement of, or claim for, health by the touch of a “faith healer.” It is a prayer of petition.
For someone to stand on a stage or on a TV show and claim healing in the name of Jesus is both unbiblical and unwise. Unbiblical because the Bible doesn’t teach it! And unwise because when God, in His sovereignty, decides to not heal someone, then that person’s faith or the faith of others can be damaged. It is a crime against the Lord to demand that which is at His prerogative alone.
Another point, the word used for “be in health” is sometime used in a metaphorical sense by Paul when speaking of sound doctrine. But this isn’t the case in today’s verse. It is speaking of Gaius’ physical health. The verse ends, “just as your soul prospers.” There was nothing wrong with Gaius’ spiritual condition and John notes this. He then is praying that Gaius will be blessed in health and in the temporal things of life, just as he is in his spiritual life. Again, this is a classic verse for deducing that we can’t expect these things simply because we are obedient to the Lord. Instead, we can pray for them and the Lord will respond according to His wisdom and our needs.
The prosperity gospel and the health gospel are both revealed as false teachings from this one verse. Instead, the Christian is to pray for, but never expect or demand such things.
Lord, I have fallen pray to the false teachings of the prosperity and health gospels and I expected things which I should have only prayed for. I had a defiant attitude toward Your sovereign choices for my life and I am sorry for this. May I accept whatever You give me as a blessing – be it wealth or poverty, health or ailment. To Your glory alone! Amen.
For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. 3 John -3
This is John’s third epistle and just like in the first two, he speaks of walking in the truth. In his first letter he does so in 1 John 1:6. In his second letter, he does it in 2 John 1:4 –
I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.
The idea has progressively moved up towards the beginning of each letter – verse 6, then 4, then 3. It is as if the Bible is saying that the truth is of such paramount importance that it needs to be highlighted at the earliest possible moment as time unfolds. Maybe it’s telling us that as time passes people will need to be more on guard than ever as to what is and what isn’t truthful. Based on the tense of the statement, John hadn’t merely heard about Gaius’ walk on this one occasion, but repeatedly. Gaius, therefore, was a person who continuously demonstrated the Christian life in all he did.
Let’s pretend today that we’re going to be mentioned to the Apostle John. What type of report about us will he receive as he administers to his own church in Ephesus? Will the traveling brethren come and testify of the truth in us or will they find fault in how we walk and conduct our Christian lives. Will the vote be unanimous or sketchy? Will they find good in some areas, but fault in others? These questions and their answers about us are important because Jesus knows even better than these traveling visitors and the reports He files away for us will be opened when we stand at the judgment seat – each to be evaluated before we receive rewards or lose rewards. May we be found walking in the truth!
Jesus, I know that I am ultimately accountable to You. And by Your own words, You embody truth. Therefore, reveal to me the surety of my doctrine, correct my deficiencies, and guide me into all truth that I may be a pleasing and acceptable vessel, prepared for Your glorious use now and in the ages to come. Amen.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 John -4
Interestingly, John stresses “my children” in today’s verse which most likely indicates those who personally came to Christ through his ministry and which also probably means Gaius himself. This then is the greatest joy John could possess.
He was commissioned as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, walked with Him, learned from Him, saw His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, saw Him hailed as “the Son of David” on Palm Sunday, and watched Him crucified a few days later. He was given personal charge of Jesus’ mother as He was dying on the cross. And after the sadness of the burial came the glorious memory of the resurrection. He stood on the Mount of Olives as Jesus ascended to the right hand of God. All of these things he personally beheld and participated in and therefore when someone heard his words and accepted Jesus as personal Lord and Savior John certainly rejoiced. But greater than this was his joy that those converts continued to walk faithfully in the truth of the gospel.
This encompasses the entire life experience for each person. In other words, the Great Commission was fulfilled in that person’s life. This was not only to “make disciples” and “baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” but also to “teach them to observe all things.” This is what brought John the great joy – that the gospel message would be continued on through them and not die out or be distorted.
John, being old and unsure of the timing of the Lord’s plan, could feel satisfaction that what was given to him was safely passed on to others. And the stream of faithful transmission has been carried on through the ages, even until today. Despite the tricks of the devil and the deceit of deceivers, the truth is both available and flourishing in the world. Hallelujah!
Yes Lord! Hallelujah and Amen! To know that Your gospel message has been safely protected and transmitted throughout the ages is a blessing to the people of the world. We know that we have a sure and firm foundation in the pages of the Bible and also from the mouths of those who properly and tenderly pass it on to others. Amen.
Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers,…3 John -5
Gaius is, as John’s addressee, beloved to him. Therefore, the things John is writing to him are based on his heart and an approval of Gaius’ actions.
He says to him “you do faithfully.” Gaius is faithfully accomplishing tasks both for the “brethren” and also “for strangers.” In this verse, John uses to different words for the two times “you do” is mentioned. As said, he is faithfully accomplishing the tasks, but the second word shows that he is diligently, even unceasingly laboring for these people. Together, these words sum up the entire scope of his faithful and welcoming ministry.
He is working in this manner for people he knows and those he doesn’t know. The “strangers” are more than likely traveling evangelists or missionaries – just like we have even today. Gaius was apparently opening his home to them and giving them all the assistance they needed so that they could save their money for places which weren’t as accommodating.
Just like today, if we travel we’ll find that hotels and restaurants cost money, but if there are people willing to take us in during our travels, the bed is always more comfortable – even if it’s a lumpy mattress, the food is always better – even if it’s simple and not so tasty, and the friendship is always exceptional in comparison to a place we check in and where everyone is a stranger. A hospitable person or family is always the preferred option. This is a lesson for all of us.
If we have room and the ability to open our doors to those passing through, we should do so. The world has never been a safe place, but we can demonstrate faithfulness in opening our doors and trusting that we are doing a service that will long be remembered. When done in the name of Jesus, we truly are blessing the soul of another.
Thank You, Lord, for those who are willing to open their doors to us as we travel the highways and byways of life. May You bless them in all ways for their faithful and kind service to those they often don’t even know. And thank You for putting this on their hearts as we know all good blessings truly come from You. Amen.
…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,… 3 John -6
Remember yesterday’s verse for today’s context –
“Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers,…”
Apparently, the visiting brethren, and also the strangers bore witness of Gaius’ love before the church that John attended in Ephesus. The word “love” is agape and in this case conveys more than just a feeling but rather includes his actions as well.
The next thing John says, speaks of the actions Gaius could take after their stay. In other words, his hospitality should also include giving them provisions for their continued journey. By doing this he would be demonstrating “a manner worthy of God.”
The “you do well” was a common idiom of the time and basically meant “please.” To understand this, one can simply turn the sentence around – “Please, send these brethren forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God.” The parallel most commonly found in churches today would be that of missionaries looking for financial assistance as they travel from church to church before departing for their mission field. We, as individuals or a church body, should welcome these people into our homes, feed and care for them, and then provide them not only with financial assistance for their continued journey, but also a promise of support (if they meet the church requirements) as they live in their mission assignment.
A majority of these people have a true heart for the Lord and are dedicating their lives to the continued spread of the gospel. Because of this, they should be received, tended to, and sent out in a manner worthy of God. Let’s remember this as we set our personal and congregational budgets in the years ahead.
Lord Jesus, help me to be a responsible person with the money You have provided me. A cup of coffee at Starbucks can be 5 or 6 dollars. If I do this 50 times a year, I’m up to $250-300. Is this the best I can do with that money? Help me to use what You have given me wisely. Amen.
…because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. 3 John -7
Again, we will review this verse in its complete context –
“Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, 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, because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles.”
John asked Gaius to send out the brethren and strangers who had come into his life in a “manner worthy of God.” Today he cites two specific reasons why –
1) They went forth for His name’s sake. It is one thing to help people out that are passing through the area where you live who simply need a hand. Maybe they have a flat tire or maybe they’re on their way to visit an ailing relative and are facing financial trouble getting there, etc. But it is a completely different issue to John when someone is going forth for the sake of the name of God, specifically Jesus Christ. Such people are worthy of being sent out in a fitting and respectable manner because their duties are the most important in all of human existence.
2) They took nothing from the Gentiles. Missionaries generally receive all of their support from other Christians so as not to impose any burden on those they are ministering to. Because of this, the message of the gospel will simply never go forward without the prayer, financial, and logistical support of other believers.
These past three verses together form a sound and logical reason for supporting mission causes and ensuring that missionaries receive all the support necessary to accomplish their tasks to the glory of God. Let’s remember this as we give to the mission budget in our church.
Yes Heavenly Father! May my heart be geared towards the care of our faithful missionaries as they go forth and spread the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ to an unbelieving world! Even if my financial ability is limited, my prayer ability isn’t. So Lord, give me the desire to keep these faithful servants in prayer. To Your honor and glory I pray. Amen.
We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth. 3 John -8
John is making a logical point based on the last few verses. We “ought” or are “bound to” receive such people as he’s been describing. These visiting missionaries and evangelists are carrying out God’s will and are doing it without being a burden on those they minister to. Therefore, it should be obvious that if we receive such people, we will “become fellow workers for the truth.”
Concerning missions work, there is an old saying – “Either go with your person or go with your purse.” Not everyone can set aside their life to head out into the mission field, nor would that be realistic. Instead, there are those who are called to missions and there are those who support missions. In both instances, the people are filling different parts of the necessary roles for accomplishing the task. People who conduct the actual mission work are no more important, but they are worthy of the respect and honor of those who send them. This is the same as a pastor. He is merely fulfilling a different role than others, but he is still entitled to the respect of the position.
When receiving missionaries, pastors, or others, we are to receive them as equals – without elevating them in their person. And yet at the same time we are to acknowledge their elevated position. Using wisdom in supporting missionaries is important too. From time to time, missionaries need to be evaluated to ensure they’re actually accomplishing the duties they set out to do. If they aren’t, then they should be recalled and all support needs to be withdrawn.
A mission field for the sake of a mission field without any mission work is as pointless as mowing a lawn without any grass. Take all things into consideration, but be sure to receive the faithful missionaries as workers for the gospel of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, give me and the congregation I attend the desire to properly receive and tend to those who are faithfully proclaiming the gospel of Jesus. Give us the heart and will to tend to them as approved ministers. And yet Lord, help us to be wise and discerning about where the money we spend is mostly prudently used. All to Your honor, O Lord! Amen.
I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. 3 John -9
John has been talking about missionaries and the receiving of them as they conduct their lives and duties. All of a sudden, he shifts the focus of the letter to a guy named Diotrephes. This is the only time he’s mentioned in the Bible and his name is derived from “nurtured by Zeus.”
Apparently, John had written a letter to the church where Gaius and Diotrephes met – a letter which has not survived as a part of the Bible – and it was ignored by Diotrephes. The term “who loves to have the preeminence” is from the word philoproteuon and this is the only time it’s used in the New Testament. The word is not commenting on Diotrephes’ doctrine, but it is rather speaking of his ego leading to self promotion. An easy way to grasp this idea is to think of him starting his own church and calling it Diotrephes’ Ministries. And to make a real life comparison, turn on the TV, go to a Christian channel, and see how many ministries are named for the main person.
This, in and of itself isn’t an indication of self-promotion, but the aura around the ministry is. When the highlight of the ministry is on the person, then regardless of sound doctrine, it is a ministry of self-promotion, not the glorification of Christ Jesus. These people ignore the words of Colossians 1:18 –
“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”
As you listen to pastors, radio or TV personalities, or read websites be careful to look for self-promotion and then flee in the opposite direction. Why spend your time and effort learning from a bag of wind who seeks self glorification? Instead, make sure that it is Jesus who is being exalted in the ministries you listen to and support.
Heavenly Father, it’s often hard to disassociate a ministry from the person the ministry is named for. Many prominent figures in Christian circles have ministries named after the earthly leader and I know some of them are good ministries. Guide me to know which are the bad and keep me away from supporting them at the expense of glorifying You. Amen.
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. 3 John -10
Unfortunately, even though these words seem almost impossible to believe, they occurred as early as John’s day and they still occur in churches all around the world even today. This person, Diotrephes, was an arrogant and abusive person with no heart for anyone who would dare disagree with him. John says, “if I come,” but the “if” means when. When he does, he’ll make sure to get control of the situation. It was his determined purpose to set things straight and highlight the perverse nature of Diotrephes for everyone to see.
Diotrephes was “prating” against John and the other leaders. This term literally means “talking nonsense” and it’s the only time it’s used in the form of a verb in the New Testament. The imagery is comparable to ridiculous speaking that bubbles out of a foolish mouth just as vinegar will bubble over when mixed with baking soda. He was the epitome of the “perverse man” so often mentioned in Proverbs – “the perverse man sows strife.” His perverse nature went beyond mere words though. He wasn’t only content to be a backbiter, but he was an active control freak as well – not receiving true believers and even putting people out of the church who wanted to receive them. Paul spoke of such a person in the book of Romans –
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Romans 12:3
We are admonished to not think of ourselves “more highly than” we ought. Diotrephes never learned this lesson and so his life and actions testify against him, even to this day. If our deeds, our words, and our hearts were open for all to see, what would others find out about us that we’d be ashamed of? Think it through as you deal with those you fellowship with.
Lord, there are certainly times when I act in a manner which must be displeasing to You. I look back on my day and think of how I could have handled things differently. Let my heart be right in all of my dealings with others, and may my life be one of faithful and wholesome service to You and to Your glory. Amen.
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. 3 John -11
Today we have a transition in thought with the introductory word “beloved.” After speaking about Diotrephes’ abhorrent behavior, John tells Gaius not to fall into acting in the same manner. One may question, “Why would John say this to Gaius if he’d been acting in a Christian and responsible manner so far?” The answer is that just as a stone wears down to a pebble in a river by the continued slow grinding of the water and turbulence, we are equally susceptible to wearing down in our Christian conduct.
Bad company and bad examples will always bring down those around it unless they are diligent in maintaining their good behavior. This is abundantly evident in the political landscape of America. As people practicing perversion and others with less than moral behavior move into positions of power, those around them tend to degenerate into like-mindedness. The exceptions are belittled for their morality and defense of godliness. Eventually, only the most resolute and determined souls maintain their strong morals – usually at the expense of any true influence. This then is what John is warning against.
When he says “does good” he is using a term which describes moral and spiritual goodness, just as mentioned in the example of those in politics above. The word “does evil” refers to something which lacks the necessary qualities that it should otherwise possess – like a lemon in a car lot. This was Diotrephes – the lemon on the lot, inferior and unworthy of any true value in the kingdom of God. We know this because John says that he who acts this way has not seen God in any heartfelt way which would qualify him for glorification.
Glorious and Almighty heavenly Father – the world is a difficult place filled with perversion, wickedness, and unrighteousness and it is so very easy to become overwhelmed by the ungodly living around us. Please be our Shield and our Defender against the fiery darts which are constantly thrown at us. Keep us wholesome and healthy in our walk with Jesus. Amen.
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. 3 John -12
Today marks a sudden shift in John’s letter. He’s been speaking about the rotten person known as Diotrephes and suddenly he makes a marked contrast by bringing in Demetrius. This isn’t by coincidence, but rather it is perfectly placed based on verse 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.
Diotrephes of the previous verses is “evil” and is not to be imitated; Demetrius is “good” and is worthy of imitation. In fact, John points out three ways in which Demetrius makes this true –
1) He has a good personal testimony from everyone who comes in contact with him.
2) The truth itself (the constant theme of John’s writings) testifies to his conduct and character.
3) John and those he is associated with bear witness to Demetrius’ character.
John uses the perfect tense in the first two instances. This means that the action is complete and points to everything in the past associated with them. In the third instance, John’s testimony is valid because Gaius himself bears witness to it. The question for each of us based on today’s verse then is, “How do I measure up against such witness and testimony?
Lord, may my conduct and Christian witness be of such a high caliber that I pass the three points concerning personal testimony given today. May I be approved by those who come in contact with me, may I be on the side of truth at all times, and may those who know me personally speak well of me. By meeting these tests, I know that I will glorify you. Amen.
I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; 3 John -13
This verse is very similar to that of 2 John -12 and is therefore probably something that he often did; start a letter and decide to end it early and wait to talk about what was on his mind in person. Maybe he wearied of the task mentally or from bad eyesight, or maybe he just needed to vent about Diotrephes a little. Whatever the reason, he started out with a lot on his mind and ended before it was all on the paper.
Fortunately for us, regardless of what else he had on his mind, the Lord found this letter exactly right to be included in His wonderful gift to us. The Bible contains the hopes and aspirations of psalm writers, the frustrations of the prophets, the joy of Solomon and a bride, the exacting details of the priests and chroniclers of Israel’s history, and so very much more for us to think on and study. It ultimately points to Jesus Christ and our relationship with Him. In turn, this leads to our relationships with others who are also called by His name as well as those opposed to His message.
This short little letter has given us a great deal of information to think about in this respect and if it were lacking from the Bible, we would be less able to handle the important issues he brings up. God’s word is perfect in all it contains and teaches and we should feel blessed that John took the time to pick up “pen and ink” and write his brief thoughts. The pen was literally a reed and the ink was more than likely a soot based resin.
One other thing to note is that many times the apostles had scribes to write their words as they dictated, but in the case of 2 John and 3 John, it is more than likely that they were written by his own hand. If he had a scribe, the letter would probably have included all of his thoughts. But then, it wouldn’t have been exactly what the Lord planned for His word. As you can see, even the actions of John were somehow directed by the wisdom of God.
Lord God, it’s so very wonderful to peer into the thoughts of John and see how he perceived the issues we’ve been studying. And his personal touches remind us that he was a man, like all the others who have come and gone over the ages – each fulfilling his time and then being called home to You. May I also be used by You to Your honor and glory. Amen.
…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. 3 John -14
We’ve arrived at the end of this tender and beautiful composition by the beloved apostle.
This final verse begins with a “hope” to see Gaius shortly. The particular intent of the word “hope” isn’t one of uncertainty, but rather it leads room for God’s sovereignty in the matter. Such is what James spoke of in the fourth chapter of his letter – “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’”
As in his previous letter, John uses the term “speak face to face” which literally means “mouth to mouth.” Certainly he would go into more depth about the issues raised in this letter as he indicated in verse 10 – “I will call to mind his deeds which he does.” Diotrephes would get his comeuppance at the arrival of John.
Next John passes on the biblical blessing of “Peace to you” which stems from the earliest books of the Bible. In the New Testament, this same blessing was assimilated into the church by the apostles and Jews who had come to Christ. It is especially well chosen because biblical “peace” is exactly what was needed for Gaius and the church he met at.
After his blessing, he passes on the greeting of the other friends in Ephesus, just as Paul and the other apostles did in their letters. He also asks that the other friends of John, known to Gaius, to be likewise greeted. This particular Greek phrase is only used one other time in the New Testament, in John 10:3 – “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
One final note should be considered. When 2 John and 3 John are set side by side, we see a fuller intent being conveyed. 2 John warns of entertaining false teachers whereas 3 John reminds us to entertain those who faithfully carry out the gospel. Take time today to read these two short letters from this perspective and you will understand more fully these important issues.
Lord God, how wonderful it has been to read and study John’s three epistles and to understand more fully the intent behind them. Thank You for including these marvelous treasures in Your word. They help us to properly direct our conduct in the face of heresy as well as interpersonal matters which arise in the church. Amen.