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Intro to 3rd John

“The elder,

To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
(3 John 1-4 NIV)

Today, we begin our walk through the book of 3rd John.

Like many other New Testament books, this is a letter.  Unlike many of the New Testament books, this letter is to an individual, rather than a church (like Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, etc.) or a group of believers (like James or 1 and 2 Peter).  The only other letter sent to an individual is Paul’s letter to Philemon.

The letter is attributed to the apostle John, who simply identifies himself as “the elder”.  The letter is short, and most likely was written on one page of papyrus (a plant-based fiber that was made into an early version of what we now call paper).

John addresses this letter to Gaius, a fellow minister of the Gospel.  While there are five different people named Gaius mentioned in the Bible, John does not tell us if they are one in the same or not.  Gaius was a very common name in that time, similar to present-day names like John, David, or James for men, or Mary, Elizabeth, or Barbara for women.

From the introduction, we see that John considered Gaius a dear friend and fellow follower of Christ.  As John writes his introduction, it’s clear that writing to Gaius brings John great blessing and joy.

John’s appreciation came not only from his remembrance of Gaius, but also from testimonies of mutual friends who shared the news of Gaius’ faithful service to the Lord as they communicated with John.

As John greets Gaius, we see John reminding Gaius of an important truth that applies to us as well:  as our soul prospers, so goes the rest of our being.  If we take care of that inner place where God lives inside us, the rest of who we are will be nourished and cared for as well.

John makes both a specific statement in verse 3 about how Gaius is walking with the Lord, and a general statement in verse 4 about how other “spiritual children” (those that John has discipled and invested his life into) are walking with the Lord, and how this brings John great joy.

As we stop for a moment to consider John’s greeting, the question comes to mind:  whom have we invested in as our spiritual “children”?  Our own kids?  Others that the Lord has brought across our path?

The great thing about the good news of Christ is that we don’t have to be trained as a pastor or have a degree in Biblical studies to be able to invest in others’ lives.  We simply need to stay in God’s Word, and share what we learn with others.

By way of application, a few questions and resulting actions to consider:

  • Who has invested in your spiritual growth over the years?
    Have you thanked them recently for their input into your life?
  • Whom have you helped with their spiritual growth and journey?
    Have you written them a note of encouragement lately, like John wrote to Gaius?


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