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3 John Intro

The Three Men Of Third John (1-14)

INTRODUCTION

1. It is not unusual for people to wonder...
   a. What was the early church like?
   b. We know a lot about its early leaders, such as apostles Paul and
      Peter; but what about the average Christians themselves?
   c. Were they more spiritual than Christians today?  Did they 
      experience the kind of problems seen so often in churches today?

2. Several books of the New Testament reflect the life of the early 
   church, and this is especially true of the Third Epistle of John
   a. It is a private letter, between the apostle John and a Christian
      named Gaius
   b. It provides portraits of three different men, and in so doing 
      gives us a glimpse of 1st century life in local churches

3. When one examines the portraits found in this letter, we learn that
   there is not much difference between people back then, and in the 
   church today

4. Therefore this epistle is very relevant, though we may live 2000 
   years later.  In this lesson, we shall...
   a. Consider some background material concerning the epistle
   b. Notice the difference between the three men described in the letter
   c. Summarize with some lessons that can be gleaned from this book

[Let's begin with some...]

I. BACKGROUND INFORMATION

   A. THE AUTHOR - "THE ELDER"
      1. As with 2 John, the "elder" is believed by most conservative
         scholars to be the apostle John
      2. The INTERNAL evidence...
         a. The three epistles of John utilize much the same language and ideas
         b. All bear similarity to concepts and language to the Gospel of John
         c. The term "elder" would be a fitting description of John as
            the author, writing in his old age
      3. The EXTERNAL evidence is slight, but Dionysius of Alexandria,
         living in the third century A.D., credits John with being the author

   B. RECIPIENT - "THE BELOVED GAIUS"
      1. Gaius was a common Roman name, and appears five times in the
         New Testament - Ac 19:29; 20:4; Ro 16:23; 1Co 1:14; 3Jn 1
      2. Whether he is one of those mentioned by Luke or Paul cannot be determined
      3. He is evidently a dear friend of John, and known for his 
         hospitality (more below)

   C. PLACE AND DATE OF WRITING
      1. Ephesus is usually suggested as the location from which John
         wrote this epistle, as he was known to live there in the later
         years of his life
      2. Estimation of the date of writing varies widely, some placing
         it before the destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.), most however
         placing it around 90-95 A.D.

   D. PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE
      1. To confirm that Gaius did right in supporting those teachers
         who came his way, encouraging him to continue this hospitality - 3Jn 5-8
      2. To express his condemnation of Diotrephes for rejecting John
         and others whom he should had received - 3Jn 9-10
      3. To encourage Gaius to imitate what is good, commending 
         Demetrius as a good example - 3Jn 11-12

   E. BRIEF OUTLINE
      1. Greetings, with an expression of great joy (1-4)
      2. The confirmation of Gaius (5-8)
      3. The condemnation of Diotrephes (9-10)
      4. The commendation of Demetrius (11-12)
      4. Concluding remarks (13-14)

   F. A COMPARISON BETWEEN SECOND AND THIRD JOHN
      1. Both letters focus on the words "love" and "truth" - 2Jn 1; 3Jn 1
      2. But notice this difference:
         a. In 2nd John, love is enjoined, but there is a warning 
            against tolerating those who denied the truth
         b. In 3rd John, love is praised, and there is commendation for
            supporting those who proclaimed the truth
      3. Another comparison:
         a. 2nd John condemns the departure from the truth which is known as "heresy"
         b. 3rd John condemns the lack of love among Christians which
            results in "schism"
      -- (These comparisons are from Charles R. Erdman's commentary)

[With this brief background to the epistle, let's take a closer look at...]

II. THE THREE MEN OF THIRD JOHN

   A. GAIUS -- A MAN WHOM JOHN WOULD HAVE PROSPER (1-8)
      1. A dear friend of John, whom he prayed would prosper physically
         as well as he did spiritually - 3Jn 1-2
      2. John so loved and prayed for Gaius, because he was a man who...
         a. Had a good reputation - 3Jn 3a
         b. Walked in the truth - 3Jn 3b
         c. Gave John great joy when hearing of his faithfulness - 3Jn 4
         d. Was hospitable toward all - 3Jn 5-6a
         e. Was encouraged to continue supporting gospel preachers - 3Jn 6b-8

   B. DIOTREPHES -- A MAN WHO WOULD BE PREEMINENT (9-11)
      1. A description of Diotrephes' character...
         a. Self-promoter -- he strove to be first - 3Jn 9a
         b. Insubordinate -- he would not receive the [authority of] apostles - 3Jn 9b
         c. Slanderous -- He spoke nonsense, and slandered - 3Jn 10a
         d. Vindictive -- He would not receive certain brethren, and 
            cast out other brethren - 3Jn 10b
      2. Diotrephes' character serves as a warning:  "he who does evil
         has not seen God" - 3Jn 11b

   C. DEMETRIUS -- A MAN WHO WOULD BE A PATTERN (11-12)
      1. John encourages Gaius to imitate what is good, for he who does
         good is of God - 3Jn 11
      2. Demetrius appears to be offered as a pattern for Gaius, for
         Demetrius had a good report... - 3Jn 12
         a. From all the brethren
         b. From the truth itself ("Demetrius lived according to the 
            mandates of God's Word so that his life showed clear 
            evidence of the truth" - Kistemaker)
         c. From John and the apostles

[Thus we have these pen portraits of three men preserved in this 
letter, giving us some insight into the life of the early church.
There were some good men (Gaius, Demetrius), but sadly there were some
bad as well (Diotrephes).

Not much different today, is it?  That being the case, then perhaps we 
should remember these...]
 
III. LESSONS FROM THIRD JOHN

   A. CHRISTIANS ARE NOT ALWAYS WHAT THEY SHOULD BE...
      1. We may have to serve in the face of opposition from other brethren
      2. Will we allow this to affect our service?
      3. Will we allow this to affect our salvation?

   B. CHRISTIANS OFTEN IMITATE OTHER CHRISTIANS...
      1. John says to imitate what is good for two reasons:
         a. Those who do good are of God
         b. Those who do evil do not know God
      2. What example are we setting in the local church?  Who are we imitating?
      3. Gaius had the example of Diotrephes and Demetrius.  Who do you
         suppose he would seek to imitate?
   
   C. CHRISTIANS OFTEN ALLOW THE "SPIRIT OF DIOTREPHES" TO REIGN...
      1. Diotrephes was successful because some of the members...
         a. Allowed Diotrephes to dominate
         b. Would not take a stand for the truth
         c. Would not support those who took a stand for the truth
      2. Diotrephes was successful because there was a certain climate
         of complacency and cowardice within the local church
      3. NOTE:  That Diotrephes was able to get away with his 
         domination strongly suggests to me that Gaius and Diotrephes
         were not members of the same congregation, but in different
         congregations

CONCLUSION

1. We will consider some more truths that can be gleaned from this 
   epistle in the next couple of lessons

2. But I hope that this introduction to this epistle and a brief look 
   at "The Three Men Of Third John" will stimulate our thinking...
   a. What kind of example are we setting?
   b. If John had written a letter in which your name was mentioned,
      what would he have said about you?
      1) Would he have prayed for your prosperity?
      2) Would he have condemned your desire for prominence?
      3) Or would he have set you up as a pattern for others to follow?
   c. If we will but "walk in the truth" like Gaius, we will have a 
      good "testimony" from all like Demetrius!

NOTE: A special thanks to Chris Reeves (CHREEVES@aol.com) and his 
Expandable Outlines #37 (THREE MEN OF THIRD JOHN), from which I
borrowed heavily in preparing this outline.

3 John

Greetings to Gaius

[3Jo 1:1-15 NKJV] 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.

Gaius commended for generosity

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.

Diotrephes and Demetrius

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. 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.

Farewell greeting

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.

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