“I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.
Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.”
(3 John 13-14 NIV)
As John winds down his letter to Gaius, we see the heart of a pastor coming out again. John wants to encourage Gaius, but prefers to do so face-to-face, rather than writing him a long letter. Clearly, John, the great apostle, the one whom Jesus loved, is a people person, not just a church administrator.
If you recall, at the beginning of our study of 3 John, we said that this letter is short, and was likely written on a single sheet of paper, one-sided. In your mind’s eye, can you imagine the great apostle John writing this letter? He has written everything that he must say, and now adds a few personal comments at the bottom. He has likely run out of space, so the last few words are squeezed in at the very bottom of the page.
What is John’s first personal remark to Gaius? “Peace to you”.
Those words must have been incredibly comforting to Gaius, considering the upheaval and turmoil in the church caused by Diotrephes demanding to control everything and everyone in the congregation. Gaius had been very kind to the short-term missionaries coming and going through his town, and John had commended Gaius for that. But from John’s letter, we can guess that this kindness had gotten Gaius in big-time trouble with Diotrephes. In fact, Gaius may have been one of the people that Diotrephes kicked out of the church because of his kind actions towards these short term missionaries.
When we’re in the midst of upheaval and chaos, what do we want most? Peace.
Where does peace come from? Is peace simply the absence of external conflict, the ability to control the circumstances around us? No, it runs so much deeper than our circumstances. It comes from within, and is first and foremost governed by our relationship with God.
Paul writes to the Roman believers:
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
(Romans 5:1-5 NIV, underlines mine)
Paul goes on to explain in verse 10 of Romans chapter 5 that we were God’s enemies because of our sin, but are now reconciled to God through Christ.
So that’s good for us who are Christ followers, but how does that enter in to our daily lives and circumstances? We have a choice in how we conduct our relationships. Paul brings this up a little later in his letter to the Roman believers:
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18 NIV)
Paul is not condoning or promoting peace at any cost. He is saying that we have a choice whether to pass on peace to others in our relationships. It’s our call, when we initiate conversations, in our actions, and how we choose to respond to others.
And that was what John was wishing for Gaius, even in the midst of all the chaos at the church.
John concludes by offering greetings from mutual friends (obviously too many to name), as well as offering greetings to everyone whom John knew at Gaius’ church. John even says to greet them by name – again, these must have been mutual friends whom John had served with, or been close to.
Through this study of 3rd John, may we be encouraged to be faithful to God’s Word and walk in it, support the work of the Gospel through faithful servants, and stand firm in the face of adversity.