Saturday, June 15, 2024

Morning Message: Beloved Gaius

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "Beloved Gaius"
Written by:  Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Today we study a most personal letter from John to a fellow believer. It reminds me of the Apostle Paul’s letter to Philemon, regarding Onesimus; full of love, and hope for personal and spiritual growth for both of them.

There are many common names in the Bible. If we include Moses’ sister Miriam in the count, there are six “Mary’s” in the Bible, five of them in the New Testament. In 3rd John, we have his personal letter to Gaius. We are faced with multiple men named Gaius in the New Testament, possibly four of them.

In Acts 19, a man named Gaius is from Macedonia, one of Paul’s travel companions. In Acts 20, we find another Gaius from Derbe. This one accompanied Paul from Corinth to Jerusalem for Pual’s final trip to the Holy City. There was also a Gaius of Corinth mentioned in Romans 16, and 1 Corinthians 1 who had been a host to Paul at one time or another. Finally, the Gaius mentioned here in 3rd John is a fourth Gaius, but based on the letter’s greeting, this Gaius is a 
"wellbeloved" and well known to John. John’s friend Gaius could also be one of the three that knew Paul, but there is direct evidence of that.

John’s well-beloved Gaius received this personal letter that was deemed important enough to be included in the Cannon of the Bible. The theme is the walk of believers, and to a lesser degree the need for Christians to be discerning about whom they spend time with, even within the Church.

God is love, and He loves all His children. The Living Word Himself teaches that the children are to love one another, and even prefer each other’s company, but also be open towards non-believers (Romans 12:9-11). The New Testament reiterates God’s Command to
"love one another" 69 times in 19 individual verses, among which in 13 of them, it occurs as exactly above in the quotes.

"These things I command you, that you love one another." - John 15:17

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
3 John 1-14 - "Beloved Gaius"

Summary/Additional Commentary & Definitions:

This week we are studying the John's third epistle.  It is the third in a series of 3 epistles that bear the Apostle John’s name. Of Course, the author is the Apostle John. He describes himself in v. 1 as "The Elder" which conveys the advanced age of the apostle, his authority and his eyewitness status especially during the foundational period of Christianity when John was involved with Jesus’ ministry (2 John 1). 

Third John is perhaps the most personal of John’s 3 epistles. While 1 John appears to be a general letter addressed to congregations scattered throughout Asia Minor, and 2 John was sent to a lady and her family (2 John 1), in 3 John the apostle clearly names the sole recipient as "the wellbeloved Gaius" (v. 1). This makes the epistle one of a few letters in the NT addressed strictly to an individual (Philemon). The name "Gaius" was very common in the first century (e.g., Acts 19:29; 20:4; Rom. 16:23; 1 Cor. 1:14), but nothing is known of this individual beyond John’s salutation, from which it is inferred that he was a member of one of the churches under John’s spiritual oversight.

As with 2 John, 3 John focuses on the basic issue of hospitality but from a different perspective. While 2 John warns against showing hospitality to false teachers (2 John 7–11), 3 John condemns the lack of hospitality shown to faithful ministers of the Word (vv. 9,10). Reports came back to the apostle that itinerant teachers known and approved by him (vv. 5–8) had traveled to a certain congregation where they were refused hospitality (e.g., lodging and provision) by an individual named Diotrephes who domineered the assembly (v. 10). Diotrephes went even further; he also verbally slandered the Apostle John with malicious accusations and excluded anyone from the assembly who dared challenge him (v. 10).

In contrast, Gaius, a beloved friend of the apostle and faithful adherent to the truth (vv. 1–4), extended the correct standard of Christian hospitality to itinerant ministers. John wrote to commend the type of hospitality exhibited by Gaius to worthy representatives of the gospel (vv. 6–8) and to condemn the high-handed actions of Diotrephes (v. 10). The apostle promised to correct the situation personally and sent this letter through an individual named Demetrius, whom he commended for his good testimony among the brethren (vv. 10–12).

Some think that Diotrephes may either have been a heretical teacher or at least favored the false teachers who were condemned by 2 John. However, the epistle gives no clear evidence to warrant such a conclusion, especially since one might expect that John would have mentioned Diotrephes’ heretical views. The epistle indicates that his problems centered around arrogance and disobedience, which is a problem for the orthodox as well as the heretic.

Sunday Morning Audio Message

Key Words and Definitions with Reference:

The Elder (v. 1) - John uses the same term for himself as he did in 2 John 1.  The term probably has reference to his age, his apostolic eyewitness of Jesus' life, and also that he had an official position of authority in the church.  

Wellbeloved (v. 1) - Gaius is called "beloved" by John no less than four times in this short epistle.  He had evidently been won to Christ by John (v. 4), and John had frequently received good reports from traveling Bible teachers and others concerning his spiritual growth and godly life (v. 3).  The term beloved is only used of Christians in the NT (see Colossians 3:12; Philemon 1,2; 2 Peter 3:14; 1 John 4:1).

Whom I Love in the Truth (v. 1) - Because Christians have common knowledge of the truth, they have the common source of love (2 John 1).  While some have taken the phrase to mean simply "truly" or "really" (Mark 12:32; John 1:47), John's usage of this phrase elsewhere in these letters, where truth takes on such a significant meaning, suggests that the elder intended the kind of love that is consistent with the fundamental truths of the faith (v. 4; 1 John 2:21; 3:19).

Wish (pray) (v. 2) - A better interpretation would be "I pray."  John's prayer for Gaius is significant.  Gaius's spiritual state was so excellent that John prayed that his physical health would match his spiritual vigor.  Asking about one's health was customary in ancient times, as it is today.  John adapted this custom to use in a unique manner, highlighting Gaius's vibrant spiritual state.

Walkest in Truth (v. 3) - Gaius's reputation for practicing what he preached was exemplary (2 John 4).  John's commendation of him is one of the greatest given in the NT, since the commendation centers not only on the fact that he knew the truth, but that he faithfully practiced it.  Gaius's actions were in stark contrast to Diotrephes' negative reputation (v. 10).  Believers should ""know the truth" (John 8:32), "believe and know the truth" (1 Timothy 4:3), obey the truth (1 Peter 1:22), speak the truth (Ephesians 4:15), do the truth (John 3:21), and, like Gaius, "walk in truth" (v. 4).

My Children (v. 4) - The world my is emphatic in the original.  John's heart delighted in the proper conduct of his spiritual children in the faith.  Those who walk (conduct) in the truth (belief) have integrity; there is no dichotomy between what one professes and how one lives.  John had strong fatherly affection for them (1 Corinthians 4:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 2:11; 3:1-10).

Thou Doest Faithfully (v. 5) - Faith that is genuine always produces genuine good works (James 2:14-17).

Brethren, and to Strangers (v. 5) - Gaius practiced hospitality not only toward those whom he knew, but also to those whom he did not know.  The reference concerns, especially, itinerant gospel preachers whom Gaius aided on their journeys.

After a Godly Sort (v. 6) - or, "in a manner worthy of God." The phrase has the connotation of treating people as God would treat them (see Matthe 10:40) and becomes the key manner in which hospitality should be practiced (Matthew 25:40-45).

Receive Such (v. 8) - John give several grounds for practicing hospitality in a "manner worthy of God."  First, we should receive those dedicated servants of the Lord, those who have pure motives.  Itinerant missionaries went out "for his name's sake"" (v. 7; Romans 1:5). Such are doing the work of the ministry for God's glory, not their own, or for money.  John had instructed them to withhold hospitality from false teachers, but to extend hospitality to genuine teachers.    The word "receive" conveys the thought of "underwriting" or supporting them physically and financially. 

Church (v. 9) -John apparently had written a previous letter to the church, but it was lost, or intercepted by Diotrephes who refused to honor John's request to help and hear the itinerant teachers, even going so far as to excommunicate those who disagreed with him (v. 10).

Diotrephes...loveth to have the preeminence (v. 9) - The preeminence has the idea of "desiring to be first."  It conveys the idea of someone who is selfish, self-centered, and self-seeking.  The language suggests a self-promoting demagogue, who served no one, but wanted all to serve only him.  Diotrephes's actions directly contradict Jesus' and the NT"s teaching on servant-leadership in the church (Matthew 20:20-28; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Timothy 3:3; 1 Peter 5:3).  

Receiveth Us Not (v. 9) - Diotrephes had a bad reputation.  He modeled the opposite of kindness and hospitality to God's servants, even denying John's apostolic authority over the local congregation and, as a result, denying the revelation of God that came through that authority.  His pride endeavored to supplant the rule of Christ through John in the church.  His character was the polar opposite of Gaius, a godly man, loving and hospitable. 

If I Come...Call to Mind His Deeds (v. 10) - Diotrephes would have to answer for his ungodly behavior, his usurping of Christ's place in the church.

Follow Not That which is Evil, But That Which is Good (v. 11) - Demetrius was commended in verse 12.  Gaius was to imitate Demetrius as the correct role model for his actions.  

Doeth Good (v. 11) - The test of a true believer. This verse affirms, that those who do good are of God.  Those who are of God obey His Word, His commands.  Those who possess God's love walk in truth, and obedience, in practice and deed. 

Demetrius (v. 12) - Demetrius mentioned here was well-known to John, who was now at Ephesus, and was probably being entrusted with carrying this letter from Ephesus to Gaius and the church where Gaius served.  

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