The Letter of John 3

Background

The third letter from John was written around the same time as the other two, between 85–95 AD. It is another personal letter, but this time the topic is a particular false teacher.

Outline

  1. 1:1–4 Greeting and Praise
  2. 1:5–8 Instructions about helping others
  3. 1:9–10 Proud Diotrephes
  4. 1:11–12 Good Demetrius
  5. 1:13–14 Final greetings

1:1–4 Greeting and Praise

As with the second letter, John introduces himself as “the Elder”, but this time he writes to an individual named Gaius. He has a good reputation of being honest and faithful among people he doesn’t even know well.

1:5–8 Instructions about helping others

John instructs Gaius to support the people and share in their work. He tells him to send out some believers for an unnamed purpose. As with Paul, we understand this to refer to making provision for them, that is, not sending them out empty-handed. They gave up their possessions and livelihood in many cases, and so had nothing.

1:9–10 Proud Diotrephes

Like Paul, when John encounters a teacher who is deliberately and knowingly leading people astray or abusing them, he names them publicly. Someone called Diotrephes is domineering and not recognizing the authority of the Ambassadors. He gossips against them and even throws people out of the fellowship if they don’t do everything his way.

Sadly, this is a common problem today. There are many preachers who are proud and egocentric. They beat the sheep in their care and demand blind obedience, even excommunicating any who don’t follow their “vision”. An example was the Purpose Driven fad that swept the world. Many reported being shown the door for resisting or asking questions, and some allege that this is official policy.

Another expression of this pride is concerning women believers. Many who oppose women’s full equality have come to the point of calling those who support it unbelievers and heretics. They refuse to let women exercise their God-given gifts for the benefit of the whole Congregation, and throw out any who teach otherwise. It is truly a case of those who “love to be in charge” domineering over those they consider beneath them.

1:11–12 Good Demetrius

So Gaius is to be sure not to imitate such evil people but only good. In contrast to Diotrephes is one named Demetrius, someone everyone speaks well of.

1:13–14 Final greetings

Like the second letter, John cuts it short so he can say more in person.