"To my good friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth."
The third letter of the Apostle John is never talked about very often. It is only 1 chapter and 13 verses long. Yet, it contains instruction and encouragement which is very fundamental to the Christian. Because of this, it bears a look into...
This letter, written about A.D. 85-95, is addressed to one of John's friends and brother in Christ named Gaius. Very little is known about this person except that he was probably a missionary somewhere in the Asian territory. John felt he deserved acknowledgement for the good Christian example he was setting before his brothers.
In (VV 3, 5-7), John expresses that praise, and at the same time, reiterates a couple of basics of the Christian faith. Here we read:
"It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell me about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love...It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans."
Apparently, John had sent out some itenerant teachers to help spread the message of salvation. Gaius was apparently one of them and was doing very well. However, it also seems that a number of these teachers were not being well received in some of the churches, especially by someone named Diotrephes.
John felt the need to mention this person in his letter to Gaius. We read what John had to say in (VV9-11):
"I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God."
From this short letter, we are told about two different men on two different paths. John's friend, Gaius was teaching the truth in God, and serving others in the Lord's name. On the other hand, Diotrephes apparently had some issues and was driving people out of the church and away from God.
Sadly, there are still people like Diotrephes in churches today. Maybe they have a personal agenda they are following, or seek prominence and personal adoration within the church. Whatever the problem may be, they cause others to stray from their Lord. In doing this, they heap buring coals upon their heads and will answer for such actions in that final day!
We must keep company with those who stand for unity in God's message, spreading the good news of salvation to others in love. If we find those who do not do this, we must instruct them to change their ways. However, if they will not listen, get away from them for they are evil!
The Lord, through John's letter, is clear on this point: Those who work sincerely in His name will benefit greatly! Let us follow the command of love...