3 John - Dear Friend

May 26, 2014 version


3 John does not say who it was written by, but in general it is understood to have been written by John the apostle. Certainly the style is similar to the gospel of John, 1 John, and 2 John. We don't know when it was written.

Pre-Nicene and Post-Nicene writers who refer to 3 John

Origen (225-254 A.D.) Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.)
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.) Gregory of Nyssa (c.356-397 A.D.)
Eusebius of Caesarea (319-339/340 A.D.) Epiphanius of Salamis (c.360-403 A.D.) (Implied)
Athanasius (367 A.D.) Pope Innocent I of Rome (c.405 A.D.)
Hilary of Poitiers (355-367/368 A.D.) Rufinus (374-406 A.D.)
Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (350-370 A.D. or 5th century) Council of Carthage (218 bishops) 393-419 A.D.)
Ambrosiaster (c.394 A.D.) alludes to 3 John Jerome (373-420 A.D.)

3 John - Dear Friend (to agapeto)

1. In 3 Jn, is there any rebuke or correction given to Gaius here? If not, then why would Paul spend so much time saying what was already being done right?


2. In 3 Jn 1, what is the different between loving someone and loving them in the truth?



3. In 3 Jn 2, does "I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you" show that all Christians ought to be healthy and rich?



4. In 3 Jn 2, why do we focus more on spectacular rescues and healings than on God giving us mundane protection and health?



5. In 3 Jn 2, what does it mean that someone's soul gets along well?



6. In 3 Jn 3-4, if once saved always saved is true, do you see any clue that John takes for granted that Gaius is still walking in the truth? If not, when should we take for granted that someone will continue to walk in the truth?



7. In 3 Jn 3-4, why do we take for granted some things that we should not?


8. In 3 Jn 3 some brothers told John of Gaius' faithfulness and walk. When should we tell others about another Christian's faithfulness and walk? How is that not gossiping?



9. In 3 Jn 4, why would John's joy in hearing that a Christian continues to walk in the truth be greater than his joy in hearing that someone got saved? Why do we sometimes get this backwards?



10. In 3 Jn 5, why shouldn't we just spend our ministry resources on Christians we know (and can trust), versus strangers?



11. In 3 Jn 6, how do you send someone on their way in a manner worthy of God?



12. In 3 Jn 7, how do we go out "for the sake of the Name" versus going out some other way?



13. In 3 Jn 7, should Christians accept anything from "Gentiles"? How about a paycheck?


14. In 3 Jn 7, what kinds of help should we receive from non-believers in preaching the gospel, and what kinds of help should we not receive?



15. 3 Jn 8,10; Mt 25:38,40; Rom 12:13; 16:23; 1 Tim 3:2; 5:10; Tt 1:8; Phm 22; Heb 13:1-2; and 1 Pet 4:9; show that God is serious about us showing hospitality. What are at least eight reasons why we should show hospitality to other believers?


16. In 3 Jn 9, how could Diotrephes be a leader in God's church?


17. In 3 Jn 9, what is wrong with wanting to be first here?



18. In 3 Jn 9, should Christians ever want to be first in anything, or is that always wrong?



19. In 3 Jn 9, in what ways do some Christians, churches, or denominations want to be first in the wrong way?



20. In 3 Jn 9, do Rom 2:17-21; Rom 11:14; show it is OK to use the motivation of wanting to be first or better?



21. In 3 Jn 9, how do Php 1:15-18; Php 2:3; Php 2:17; Rom 3:27 show attitudes that are diametrically opposite?



22. In 3 Jn 9, how is Php 3:4-9 have both similar and opposite concepts?



23. In 3 Jn 9, in what ways should we try to excel above others (see Php 3:12-15; 1 Cor 9:24-27; Prov 6:6), and in what ways not (see 2 Cor 10:12; Prov 3:7)?



24. In 3 Jn 9, how is this attitude begin rebuked both different from and similar to the attitude being rebuked in 1 Cor 3:1-5?



25. In 3 Jn 9-10, when your church leader is not doing something in what you think is the best way, when do you still follow because he is your leader, be neutral about it, and/or actively reject or oppose what your spiritual leader is doing? (See 2 Tim 3:1-5.)



26. In 3 Jn 10-11, how do you handle a Christian, or someone else, who is trying hard to be first, in a wrong way?



27. In 3 Jn 11 and 1 Jn 2:29, how is it that "anyone who does what is good is from God"?



28. In 3 Jn 12 John stood up for Demetrius. When should we stand up for someone else, and why?


29. In 3 Jn 13, why isn't pen and ink, or email, sufficient many times?


30. In 3 Jn 14, what is the difference between greeting others vs. greeting them by name?

 

3 John - Dear Friend (to agapeto)

1. In 3 Jn, is there any rebuke or correction given to Gaius here? If not, then why would Paul spend so much time saying what was already being done right?
A: This letter was both very personal and very official. John used the phrase "dear friend" three times. But John also wanted Gaius' support for Demetrius over Diotrephes

2. In 3 Jn 1, what is the different between loving someone and loving them in the truth?
A: Loving someone in the truth can mean you love them, but you love the truth, and them being in the truth, more than just their company. If you enjoyed a friendship with someone, and they needed to know something that was true, but if you told them, you think it might jeopardize the friendship, would you tell them? In other words, would you love the friendship more, or the friend more? Loving someone in truth is more than just loving the person; it means loving someone enough to tell them what they need. Do you trust that your friends will tell you things you need to know, even when you might not want to hear it?

3. In 3 Jn 2, does "I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you" show that all Christians ought to be healthy and rich?
A: No. Prosperity teachers might try to use this verse to teach this error, but every mention of health and well-being does not mean we are to think of God primarily in terms of the health and good things He gives us. John was praying for their well-being in every way. The Bible has nothing against wealthy believers, such as Abraham, as long as they do not love money. See When Cultists Ask p.303 for more info.

4. In 3 Jn 2, why do we focus more on spectacular rescues and healings than on God giving us mundane protection and health?
A: This does not mean that Gaius was sick. Rather it was thankfulness for his good health.

5. In 3 Jn 2, what does it mean that someone's soul gets along well?
A: John is saying that he prays that he would have good health that corresponds with his good walk with the Lord.

6. In 3 Jn 3-4, if once saved always saved is true, do you see any clue that John takes for granted that Gaius is still walking in the truth? If not, when should we take for granted that someone will continue to walk in the truth?
A: It does not look like John takes for granted that someone is continuing to walk in the truth, and neither should we. From Jesus' parable of the four soils, of the three soils that all looked good initially, only one actually bore any fruit. persecutions can dry up and cares of this world can choke out spiritual growth and show whether spiritual life is real or just apparent. If you see a believer you have not seen in a long time, it might be good to ask them how is their walk with the Lord.

7. In 3 Jn 3-4, why do we take for granted some things that we should not?
A: Unfortunately it is often natural to have a lack of gratitude. People tend to focus on getting what they don't have, and often don't appreciate what the do have. Often people want to work to get what they don't have, while forgetting to preserve what they already have.

8. In 3 Jn 3 some brothers told John of Gaius' faithfulness and walk. When should we tell others about another Christian's faithfulness and walk? How is that not gossiping?
A: First ask yourself why you are telling others? If it is to excite your hearers, or to build yourself up, then don't do it. Ask yourself if the person you were speaking about were to hear what you were saying, would they be happy with what you were saying, or would you be embarrassed? If so, then don't say it. On the other hand, if it would be a good example for others, it would be an encouragement or correction for others, and the person would not mind you speaking about them, then it is fine.
How would you know if they would mind if you spoke about them or not? When possible, why don't you ask them. One time a pastor was telling his congregation a story about his primary school daughter, and he said that he had first asked his daughter if it was OK to share this. his daughter said it was fine, because she shares stores about him with her classmates too!

9. In 3 Jn 4, why would John's joy in hearing that a Christian continues to walk in the truth be greater than his joy in hearing that someone got saved? Why do we sometimes get this backwards?
A: In the parable of the four soils, from a human perspective, initially there are three "rejoicings" of the three kinds of soil that appear to be good. But long-term there was only one real rejoicing, for the good soil. If someone claims to accept Christ, but does not continue in Christ, that is not evidence that there was reason for rejoicing. In Matthew 18:19, Jesus did not command us to make converts of all nations, but rather disciples. Of course being a convert is prerequisite to being a disciple, but the emphasis is on disciples (who continue), not just converts (who might or might not continue.).

10. In 3 Jn 5, why shouldn't we just spend our ministry resources on Christians we know (and can trust), versus strangers?
A: It is not enough to just give money for God's work; we should give money wisely. On one hand, it is easier to give money wisely but restricting funds to just people who know who live close to you. On the other hand, it would be more difficult to spread the gospel to far-away places without giving money to any Christians you do not personally know well. When Paul collected money from churches for an offering to the believers in Jerusalem who were suffering from famine, people were giving money to Paul when they might not have seen him for more than a few weeks total.

11. In 3 Jn 6, how do you send someone on their way in a manner worthy of God?
A: This means to give them help generously, as a gift to God. In Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus told the sheep they had fed, clothed, visited, and helped Jesus, because what they did to the least of the brothers was as doing to Him.

12. In 3 Jn 7, how do we go out "for the sake of the Name" versus going out some other way?
A: Traveling for business, family, or other purposes, and sharing the gospel as you go and encounter people is fine, but that is not what is spoken of here. This speaks of a dedicated trip for sharing the gospel. Travel back then was hazardous, with danger from robbers, danger from storms if going by ship, and possibility of contracting sickness. But they went out for the sake of the Name anyway. In this day, how much more should we be willing to go out for the sake of the Name!

13. In 3 Jn 7, should Christians accept anything from "Gentiles"? How about a paycheck?
A: Christians can accept things from Gentiles and non-believers in general. Two points here.
1. It describes people who were going forth to share the Gospel. In general, it would be strange for full-time Christian workers to be paid by non-Christians. (Though this is done in state-sponsored churches, such as in Norway, Great Britain, and so forth.)
2. John was mentioning this to shame Christians who were refusing to help other Christians who were sharing the Gospel. Even today, there are genuine Christians who refuse to associate with other Christians in evangelism. One unfortunate excuse I heard was, "they might sing songs that are not doctrinally correct." Yet, they were not willing to look over the songs in advance and come to an agreement.
Geisler and Howe in When Critics Ask p.547, after stating this applies to ministering the Gospel, add that this is "descriptive, not prescriptive." In other words, John did not say, "I command you never to take money from pagans." Rather, John mentioned that as an example for us to follow, in his ministering, he did not take money from pagans. See also Hard Sayings of the Bible p.750-751 for more info.

14. In 3 Jn 7, what kinds of help should we receive from non-believers in preaching the gospel, and what kinds of help should we not receive?
A: People give other people common courtesy and help all the time. But it would seem strange to ask someone who believes in a different religion, for money to propagate something they do not believe. It would be even worse if someone were to ask for the money under false pretenses. But even if they do not ask for the purpose of the donation, you should not ask people for money for something they would not believe in if they knew what it was.

15. 3 Jn 8,10; Mt 25:38,40; Rom 12:13; 16:23; 1 Tim 3:2; 5:10; Tt 1:8; Phm 22; Heb 13:1-2; and 1 Pet 4:9; show that God is serious about us showing hospitality. What are at least eight reasons why we should show hospitality to other believers?
A: There are at least eight reasons, but there might be more.
1) Obey God - even if we did not see any other reason, we should still be hospitable to obey God's instruction in the listed verses.
2) Express love - Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. This does not mean us to have loving feelings, but to "do love" by practical expression, and showing hospitality is one practical way to love others.
3) Need help - The guest might need material help, or a place to stay. But even if the guest is financially in no need, the guest might want the friendship and interaction of staying with a host family.
4) Can count on help - It does not express much love to help others only when you feel like, or if you are in the mood that day. Rather, can the prospective guest count on your hospitality as a dependable expression of love.
5) Your witness that you believe in their words - When you provide a meal, a place to stay, or other hospitality to someone who is sharing the gospel, you a witness to others that you approve of and agree with their words. This was important to John, in 2 John 10-11, John specifically tells us not to welcome someone who shares a false gospel into your house.
6) Giving them encouragement - related to the previous, you provide encouragement to the guest in his work in sharing the gospel.
7) That they could enjoy it - Romans 16:23 mentions Paul enjoying the hospitality of Gaius. Gaius was a common name, so we do not know whether this was the same Gaius in 3 John or not. But it does not matter, because whoever we are, other believers should be able to enjoy our company and hospitality, and us theirs.
8) Entertaining angels unawares - Hebrews 13:2 shows that sometimes when we give hospitality to strangers, this could be a test from God, because, unknown to us, the guest might not be a human, but actually an angel in disguise.

16. In 3 Jn 9, how could Diotrephes be a leader in God's church?
A: Unfortunately, history has shown it was all too easy for a false brother to become a leader of Christians. People did not to wait for history to show them this, though. Paul expressly prophesied that their would bee spiritual wolves among church leaders in Acts 20:29-31 and 2 Timothy 4:3-5.

17. In 3 Jn 9, what is wrong with wanting to be first here?
A: In a game it is OK to want to in and be first, versus your competitors. But in God's kingdom, we are all on the same team, and should act as such. When little kids play soccer, or basketball, they tend to hog the ball instead of passing to their teammates when they should. In the church, we likewise should be quick to "pass" to other Christians who might be more capable, in a better position, or more in need of experience than us.

18. In 3 Jn 9, should Christians ever want to be first in anything, or is that always wrong?
A: It is fine to want to be first in a game, and it is fine to want your company to succeed in business. But remember who your teammates are. Even in business though, you should be fair and ethical towards your competitors. In anything serious where you want to be first, you should ask yourself why you want to be first. If God were equally glorified if you or someone else were first, then why would you prefer that you be first, if your only goal was for God to get the glory.

19. In 3 Jn 9, in what ways do some Christians, churches, or denominations want to be first in the wrong way?
A: In a ministry context it is possible to wrongly want to be first, in at least six ways.
Financial considerations - Sometimes people might be desperate to raise money to keep the organization functioning. Sometimes they still act as though they are desperate to raise money, even when there is no longer any desperate need. it is also possible they want to hoard up money, to try to eliminate the possibility of ever needing money. One common them historically is that some Christian denominations, when they are growing and active in sharing the word, get a lot of contributions. Then later others come in, perhaps attracted by the money, the zeal is lost, and maintaining and increasing the money becomes the goal.
Lost sight of the goal - Our goal should be to glorify God. Sometimes that goal can be unconsciously laid aside for personal promotion or fame for the individual or organization.
Teammates vs. competitors - Sometimes churches and denominations can view other godly groups as competitors, instead of teammates. When another godly Christian group succeeds in something, you should rejoice, even if it brings no benefit whatsoever to your organization, if God is getting the glory.
Not feel connected to others - On a sports team, teammates talk with each other, to encourage each other, correct each other's tactics, and plan strategy. When is the last time your church or organization planned strategy with another church or organization?
Envy and jealousy - Sometimes a divisive spirit can degenerate into envy of the success of another group. Paul taught that these are sins.
Not feel appreciated - Sometimes envy can turn to pity for yourself for not feeling appreciated by others. But when that occurs, are you appreciating the work they do for God? Furthermore, is it primarily God's pleasure and approval you are seeking, or that of other people? While we are always approved by God as believers, 1 Corinthians 4 shows that some people's work of God is approved and rewarded by God, and other work is not.

20. In 3 Jn 9, do Rom 2:17-21; Rom 11:14; show it is OK to use the motivation of wanting to be first or better?
A: Gene Getz wrote that three common motivations are hope of reward, fear of punishment, and to be thought better in the eyes of yourself and others. The Bible has a higher motivation; agape love, but the Bible uses these other motivations too. In Romans 11:14 Paul says he hoped to "arouse my own people to envy " (NIV), or "provoke to jealousy" (NKJV). In other words, to use that emotion to open their eyes to the need for the gospel.
This is sort of like Jesus telling His disciples how hard it is for a rich man to be saved, without mentioning grace. When the disciples replied "who then can be saved?", then Jesus said "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Romans 2:17-21 speaks negatively about bragging about being a Jew. Paul is saying NOT to rely on being a Jew and your own works, but that Jews need grace and mercy as Gentiles do.

21. In 3 Jn 9, how do Php 1:15-18; Php 2:3; Php 2:17; Rom 3:27 show attitudes that are diametrically opposite?
A: Diotrephes essentially baptized his selfish ambition into the church. He sought his own glory, masquerading it under the banner of service to Jesus. Some leaders in churches have selfish ambition. He have wanted everyone to be on their team, and even God be on their team. But we need to be on God's team, and not have our own team. Some have envy when their selfish ambition is not realized, and they someone else in a higher place than them.
Sometimes we also can do things to look good in the eyes of others, masquerading it under the banner of service to Jesus.

22. In 3 Jn 9, how is Php 3:4-9 have both similar and opposite concepts?
A: As a legalistic Pharisees, Saul was against Jesus and the gospel, and Diotrephes, at least in appearance, was for Jesus and the gospel. But except for that, they are more similar than you might think. Diotrephes wanted to be first in the church, and presumably, first spiritually. Saul of Tarsus, as a legalistic Pharisee, tried to be first among his peers, and presumably, spiritually. Both had no time for others who saw things differently, or were presumed to be threats.

23. In 3 Jn 9, in what ways should we try to excel above others (see Php 3:12-15; 1 Cor 9:24-27; Prov 6:6), and in what ways not (see 2 Cor 10:12; Prov 3:7)?
A: We should try to excel in God being pleased with us. We should do this not in order to get or keep salvation, but because we love the Lord. We should not try to excel in the increasing the view that others have for us. Finally, we should excel in being helping others, by evangelism and discipling, to become good and better disciples of Jesus. In business does it seem strange that the people who make the most money don't typically do anything directly? The directors and managers don't dig ditches, write software, or manufacture anything. But if they are good, they make everyone under them more productive at achieving what are the most important goals. Perhaps God is less concerned with how much we have invested in our own life, and more on how much we have invested in others.

24. In 3 Jn 9, how is this attitude begin rebuked both different from and similar to the attitude being rebuked in 1 Cor 3:1-5?
A: Wanting to be first, easily leads to kicking people out of your group. Having divisions within the church is spoken against in 1 Corinthians 3:1-5.

25. In 3 Jn 9-10, when your church leader is not doing something in what you think is the best way, when do you still follow because he is your leader, be neutral about it, and/or actively reject or oppose what your spiritual leader is doing? (See 2 Tim 3:1-5.)
A: 3 Jn 11: Do not imitate what is evil but what is good. If the leader is publicly teaching wrong, or giving a bad example to others, then this matter needs to be brought out publicly, for the sake of the others. 2 Timothy says we are not to pay attention to those kind of people. Not paying attention to them certainly includes not following them as leaders.

26. In 3 Jn 10-11, how do you handle a Christian, or someone else, who is trying hard to be first, in a wrong way?
A: This can be a difficult situation, and even if you do everything in the best way, the result might not be successful. But as a first step, you should give the person a chance to change by first talking with them privately. Explain to them that the real rewards are in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21; 1 Corinthians 3:14; 1 Peter 17). Each one receives praised or rebuke from His Master, God (Romans 14:4; Matthew 12:36). If they will not pay attention to you alone, then warn them again, bringing others with you. But if they will not listen, and their attitude or behavior harms others, then warn the church publicly. See Matthew

27. In 3 Jn 11 and 1 Jn 2:29, how is it that "anyone who does what is good is from God"?
A: We have to answer the question "what is good?" before we can answer this question. Mark 10:18 says that only God is good. Good in this context means what is pleasing to God, and Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith, it is impossible to please God.
Since Diotrephes was doing evil in 3 John 9-10, John was saying these words in 3 John 11 to indirectly show why Diotrephes was not from God. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.752-753 for more info.

28. In 3 Jn 12 John stood up for Demetrius. When should we stand up for someone else, and why?
A: Sometimes we have to choose our battles, and only be concerned about important matters, not trivial things. But if a godly leader's leadership is not respected, and we are in a position to command respect we should stand up for that leader and against those who despise his authority. If someone, (regardless of whether they are a believer or not) is being wronged, oppressed, or slandered, we should stand up for them.

29. In 3 Jn 13, why isn't pen and ink, or email, sufficient many times?
A: Pen, ink and email are fine some times, and they are the only choices open to us at some times. However, when possible it is often better also to have a personal touch, so that they can see in person your caring for them.

30. In 3 Jn 14, what is the difference between greeting others vs. greeting them by name?
A: It is good to great people in general, but rather than just showing general interest in people, it is better to show a personal interest in them. Love can be general and generic, but how much better it feels when you know it is personal.


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