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Rev. Ronald C. Purkey, a Baptist minister, claims no originality for this Bible study outline.
However, every Bible study posted on this website has been taught by Rev. Purkey.
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ADVANCING GOD’S TRUTH TOGETHER
May 3, 2015
SCRIPTURE: 3 John 1:3-14
A. This little letter is only entitled 3 John because it is slightly shorter than 2 John.
I really think both 2 John and 3 John form a balanced message to a local church, probably somewhere in the Roman Province of Asia Minor, towards the end of the first century.
B. 2 John deals with the problem of heretical, itinerant preachers, while 3 John deals with the admonition to help itinerant Christian preachers.
C. There are three different men specifically named in 3 John.
1. Gaius (a godly man in the recipient church)
There are three Gaiuses mentioned in other parts of the Bible: (1) Gaius of Macedonia, Acts 19:29; (2) Gaius of Derbe, Acts 20:4; and (3) Gaius of Corinth, Romans 16:23; 1 Corinthians 1:14.
The writings known as "Apostolic Constitutions" list the Gaius of 3 John as the Bishop of Pergamum, appointed by the Apostle John.
2. Diotrephes (a godless trouble-maker in the recipient church)
This is the only mention of this man in the NT. His name is a very rare name which means "nursed of Zeus." How ironic it is that man named after "Zeus" would be against travelers when "Zeus" was supposed to be the "protector of travelers."
Diotrephes’ attitude is exposed in 3 John 1:9-10.
3. Demetrius (the bearer of John's letter to this local church)
Apparently Demetrius is one of the traveling missionaries and the bearer of the letter from the Apostle John in Ephesus.
The tradition called "The Apostolic Constitutions" lists Demetrius as the Bishop of Philadelphia, who was appointed by the Apostle John.
I. A GOOD MODEL: GAIUS. (3 John 1:1–8)
A. Faithful in Service. (3 John 1:1-2)
· (3 John 1:1) The elder unto the well-beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
“The elder.” As he did in the second epistle, John adopts the term elder. It could refer to his age. He is in his nineties, and certainly he is a presbyter, an elder, in the sense of age. He is a senior citizen at this time. Also, elder speaks of an officer in the early church, and certainly John could claim that. In fact, he could have claimed more. He could have said, “I am an apostle,” but he doesn’t do that. Gaius is a friend, and you don’t write that way to your friend.
“Unto the well-beloved Gaius” -- I love that. John’s letter is addressed to a believer in the early church by the name of Gaius. Gaius was a beloved brother in the church. Four times John calls him “beloved” (verses 1, 2, 5, 11). John knows and loves him in the Lord, and he now writes a letter to this brother in Christ who apparently is in some local church.
“Whom I love in the truth.” Immediately we are told that Gaius is sound in doctrine. He accepted the deity of Christ. Gaius is a man who stood for the truth, and he not only stood for the truth but he also worked for the truth. Here is a man who walked and worked in love. He manifested love. You have to think right if you are going to act right -- that is true in any sphere of life today.
· (3 John 1:2) Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
“Beloved” -- John evidently thought a great deal of Gaius and was very close to him since, again, he calls him “beloved.”
“I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health.” Very frankly, John makes it clear that he wants Gaius to prosper not only financially (he apparently was a man of means), but John also says, “I want you to prosper in your health.” Evidently, Gaius was not a well man.
John says, “even as thy soul prospereth.” And John wanted him to prosper also in his soul, to grow spiritually. There are a lot of Christians today who are sick spiritually. They have good health physically, but they have pretty bad health spiritually. It is certainly well for a child of God to have both.
Good health physically is wonderful to have -- many of us don’t appreciate it until we lose it. And it is important to have good health spiritually. What physical health is to the body, holiness is to the spiritual life of the believer. To be healthy spiritually is holiness; it is to be growing in grace and in the knowledge of Christ.
B. Faithful to Truth. (3 John 1:3-4)
· (3 John 1:3) 3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.
The reason for John’s joy is the testimony of others that Gaius walks “in the truth.” “Truth” here refers to the body of truth given to the church through the apostles and prophets, that is, the Scripture. Gaius walks according to the Word of God rather than the ways of the world.
· (3 John 1:4) 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
“My children” is a description that Paul used of those he has led to saving faith in Christ (see 1 Corinthians 17) and may indicate that Gaius was one of John’s converts. It may also be a term John uses to describe those under his pastoral care. To “walk in truth” means to walk according to God’s Word, the revelation of His truth.
C. Faithful in Hospitality. (3 John 1:5-8)
· (3 John 1:5) 5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;
“Thou doest faithfully” describes Gaius’s support of “the brethren,” including those he does not know personally, reflects his faithfulness to the Lord. This emphasizes the importance of serving the Lord by being faithful in our responsibilities within our local churches.
Note: There were traveling around in that day many men who were teaching the Word of God and doing missionary work. Gaius would open his home to them and entertain them. He was not only a large-hearted man, he not only walked in love, but he also walked in truth, and he tested these teachers. And in spite of his poor health, he was able to be very active in hospitality.
· (3 John 1:6) 6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:
These people had reported to others about Gaius’s ministry in their lives.
· (3 John 1:7) 7 Because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.
“Gentiles” here refers to unbelievers, not to Gentile Christians. The majority of Christians in the churches of Asia Minor were Gentile converts rather than Jewish.
· (3 John 1:8) 8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.
We become “fellowhelpers” in the Lord’s service when we support the ministries of others, publicly as well as financially. To receive means to identify with people publicly, welcome them into our homes, and supply their needs.
II. A POOR MODEL: DIOTREPHES. (3 John 1:9–10)
A. Diotrephes Closed The Door. (3 John 1:9)
· (3 John 1:9) 9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
“I wrote” indicates that John had written an earlier letter that was either lost or possibly destroyed by Diotrephes, who was asserting his control over the church out of his own personal ambition (see 1 Peter 5:1-5). John had probably written asking Diotrephes’ church to extend hospitality to the traveling missionaries the apostle had sent out (See verse 10), and Diotrephes had refused to heed John’s request.
B. Diotrephes Made Verbal Attacks. (3 John 1:10)
· (3 John 1:10) 10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
“If I come” reflects the idea of “when I come.” John intends to come and take Diotrephes to task for his attitudes and actions, and to exercise his apostolic authority in punishing him. This is a warning similar to those of Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:2; 13:1, 2. Diotrephes’ sins include verbal attacks on John and his representatives, as well as active opposition to those who wanted to support legitimate ministers.
III. CHOOSE THE RIGHT MODEL: DEMETRIUS. (3 John 1:11–14)
A. Choose A Model Like The Well Beloved Gaius. (3 John 1:11)
· (3 John 1:11) 11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.
John encourages Gaius to continue doing that which is good. Again, he emphasizes that the one who practices righteousness is a child of God but the one who does not practice righteousness is not born of God.
B. Choose A Model Like The Faithful Man Demetrius. (3 John 1:12)
· (3 John 1:12) 12 Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.
We come now to the third man, Demetrius. He is a wonderful man. You just cannot help but rejoice in him. (1) Gaius is a delightful brother, (2) Diotrephes is a dictator, and now we will find (3) Demetrius to be a dependable brother.
C. Choose A Model Like So Many In Glory. (3 John 1:13-14)
· (3 John 1:13-14) 13 I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: 14 But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.
1. John’s desire.
Someday this will be true for you and me: we will be able to speak face to face with John. I want to talk with him about these little books he wrote. There are a lot of questions I want to ask him.
But, of course, John is actually referring to the fact that he will come and speak face to face with these men of the first century. He will speak face to face with Diotrephes. I feel sorry for old Diotrephes -- I’m sure he really got it in that day. And John will speak to Gaius and Demetrius, those wonderful men of God. He says, “We shall speak face to face.”
2. John’s farewell.
John gives his farewell greeting: “Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name. “Isn’t that a wonderful way to end this letter?
John says, “I want you to know that our friends who are here with me greet you. And will you greet the friends by name? Go and say to Demetrius, ‘Demetrius, I have a message from John. He wanted to greet you and to tell you he will be coming our way before long.’”
One of the helpers of a noted evangelist gave up that kind of work because he “loved this present world” (2 Timothy ). That was back in the first century, but in the twentieth century a young preacher’s wife deserted her husband and took a job in her uncle’s law firm because she thought the preacher “was never going to make any money.”
Also in the twentieth century a whole family dropped out of church because they moved to a town where the church full of strangers “just didn’t seem like church.” They didn’t realize that they were leaving the Lord as well as His church. In the twenty-first century three families left a church because they wanted green carpet in the auditorium, and all the other members voted for red carpet.
At times we all fail to see the big picture. The church is Christ’s body, and He is the head of it (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18). In this picture only the head is perfect. The parts of the body all have their faults, but we put up with them because we have faults, too.
There is no way to forsake Christ’s body without forsaking its head as well. To be faithful and loyal to Christ (the head), and to the church (His body), and to the Bible (His Word) is our constant challenge. – Author Unknown
CONCLUSION: (1) Gaius, (2) Diotrephes, and (3) Demetrius -- these are the three men who pass before us in this little epistle. Christianity was on trial in the first century. Two of these men who are mentioned in this epistle are genuine. They are real and wonderful children of God. One is a delightful brother; another is a dependable brother.
Sadly, one man is a dictator and a phony. May I say to you, the gospel walked in shoe leather in the first century in the Roman Empire. And it needs to get down where the rubber meets the road in 2015. We need to get the gospel onto the highways and byways of life.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “Before we were loyal to God, God was loyal to us.”
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REFERENCES: References used in the Bible study are the King James Bible (KJV), Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network ( www.ttb.org ), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: ( http://www.intouch.org/ ), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/ ), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries ( http://rbc.org/ ), selected illustrations, and other references.
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