Growing in Christ
"He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." Luke 24:45
John shows Jesus as Savior and Lord in His cosmic perspective and significance.
Practical and Pastoral Observations on the Letter of 3 John (please read each chapter slowly and meditatively before reading observations below):
Introduction: John's final years, before his imprisonment on Patmos, were likely spent in Ephesus where he wrote this letter to Christians throughout the region in about 90AD. John warned them and us against the dangers of Gnosticism which offered salvation (through the lure of secret knowledge) but could not deliver it.
In every age there is a doctrine or philosophy opposed to the Gospel to which we need to respond, as John did, clearly and strongly. There is no substitute for Jesus (I John 5:11-12).
John was both "the apostle of love" ('love' appears 35 times) and the 'son of thunder' (Mark 3:17) in this way reflecting Christ who was both 'full of truth and of grace' (John 1:14). The letter of 3 John was likely written after the Gospel of John and before the Revelation of Jesus Christ (96 AD).
Aiding Traveling Teachers: Travel was difficult and dangerous in the first century. Providing hospitality was a major aid to both false teachers (i.e. those denying the incarnation; the concern of 2 John) and those John calls brothers (v.5) teaching the truth of the Gospel (3 John 8).
Discernment: Since hospitality makes us fellow workers with those we welcome (v.8), discernment is necessary. Gaius (v.1) provided the necessary help (v.6) while Diotrephes (v.9-11) did not. Diotrephes's opposition extended to the apostle John (v.10), descending to behaviors John calls evil (v.11). Local congregations cannot cut themselves off from the influence of, or accountability to, the larger church.
The letters of 2 and 3 John in this context highlight a responsibility which cuts two ways: the local church must protect the flock from false teachers (2 John) and must not shield the flock from the encouragement and challenge of teachers of the Gospel in truth.
Personal Application: I will make my home open to those who claim the Name (v.7) though I do not yet know them, believing they will enrich my service of Christ. I will take care however to know their teachings before commending them to other Christians. I will also open my home to non-Christians in need. v.2 Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.
My Prayer: Father, Jesus knows and calls his sheep by name (John 10:3); give me discernment also regarding who is wholly yours. Give me generosity of spirit, of our home in hospitality, welcoming others as You have welcomed me in Christ.