3 John: Support Missions Well!

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For the gospel of Jesus Christ to spread around the world, churches and their leaders must seek to support and care for missionaries well.

Attention Getter: Derickson, “Welcome to the shortest book of the Bible!”
Introduce Topic: Support Missions Well!
Scripture: 3 John
Background: Stott, “Both 2 John and 3 John are therefore concerned with Christian truth and love and with their relation to hospitality.
Stott, “There are differences, however. In the second letter ‘the elder’ writes to a local church, personified as ‘the chosen lady and her children’, whereas in the third letter he addresses by name one of the leading members of a local church, and refers to two others.
Challenge Audience:
Stott, “This mention of Gaius (1), Diotrephes (9) and Demetrius (12) makes the third letter more vivid than the second and gives us a clearer glimpse into the inner life of a first-century church.

The Word for Gaius

John Cared For Gaius

1 The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.

2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

The recipient of the letter is called Gaius.
Gaius of Corinth, who after his baptism by Paul became host to the apostle and to ‘the whole church’ (1 Cor. 1:14; Rom. 16:23), and who, according to Origen, was traditionally thought to have been the first Bishop of Thessalonica;
Gaius of Macedonia, linked with Aristarchus of Thessalonica as one of Paul’s companions, who suffered in the riot at Ephesus (Acts 19:29); 
Gaius of Derbe, who travelled with Paul on his last journey from Greece through Macedonia at least as far as Troas and was probably his church’s delegate for the transmission of the collection for the poor in Judea (Acts 20:4).
Stott, “According to the fourth-century so-called ‘Apostolical Constitutions’ (7.46.9), it was this last Gaius of Derbe to whom the third letter of John was sent and whom John appointed the first Bishop of Pergamum.
Stott, “Since ‘Gaius’ was ‘perhaps the most common of all names in the Roman Empire’ (Plummer), it is safer to resist the attempt to identify the Gaius of this letter.
Gaius Modeled The Christian Life
1. Gaius walked in the truth.

3 For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Stott, “Visiting evangelists seem to have stayed with him rather than with others, and the elder would hardly have written so outspokenly of Diotrephes to any but a church leader.
Stott, “The verb translated that all may go well with you (euodousthai) means literally ‘to have a good journey’ (Dodd), and metaphorically to ‘succeed’ or ‘prosper’ (Rom. 1:10; 1 Cor. 16:2). The other verb rendered enjoy good health (hygiainein) is used by Luke the physician to describe those who are ‘fit and well’ or ‘safe and sound’ (e.g. Luke 5:31; 7:10; 15:27).
Stott, “Both verbs belonged to the everyday language of letter writing.
Bruce, “So regular was this sort of thing in Latin letters that it was customarily expressed by the use of initials SVBEEV (“if you are well, that is good; I am well”).’
Stott, “There is biblical warrant here for desiring the physical as well as the spiritual welfare of our Christian friends.
Stott, “Gaius was a balanced Christian. He held the truth in love (cf. Eph. 4:15). He also loved in truth
Stott, “John rejoiced if his children were continuing to walk in the truth (2 John 4).
Stott, “To walk in (‘follow’, rsv) the truth is more than to give assent to it. It means to apply it to one’s behaviour. Whoever ‘walks in the truth’ is an integrated believer in whom there is no dichotomy between profession and practice
Stott, “correspondence between creed and conduct.
2. Gaius walked in love.

5 Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, 6 who testified to your love before the church.

The Didachē, the first-century church manual gives instruction for early Christian hospitality:
an ‘apostle’ may not stay beyond one day or, ‘in case of necessity’, two. ‘If he stays three days, he is a false prophet’ (11:5).
On departing, he may receive enough food to last him his journey. But ‘if he asks for money, he is a false prophet’ (11:6).
If a prophet says ‘give me money, or something else’, he is not to be heeded unless the money is ‘for others in need’ (11:12).
If a true prophets wants to settle, ‘he must work for his living … If he refuses to do this, he is trading on Christ’ (12:3–5).
Stott, “The word ‘faithful’ seems to link together the truth and the love of Gaius. His practical ministry to strangers was true to his profession. His love was consistent with the truth which he believed.
3. Gaius walked in obedience.

You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. 7 For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. 8 Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

Support Missions because God is Worthy (v.6b)
Stott, “You will do well...” Thoughtful sending forth of missionaries on their journey is not only ‘a loyal thing,’ but a ‘beautiful’ thing (kalōs poiēseis.)
Dodd, “send them on their way was ‘something like a technical term of early Christian missions’, implying ‘the assumption of financial responsibility for the journey’ of departing missionaries.
Stott, “in a manner worthy of God ...The implication of extending hospitality to itinerant missionaries is now clear. They are not just to be received when they arrive, but to be so refreshed and provided for (no doubt with supplies of food and money) as to be sent forward on the next stage of their journey (cf. Col. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:12). 
Support Missions because missionaries have no other support. (v. 7)
Stott, “they went out. It depicts a deliberate setting out on a mission.
Stott, “By contrast, Jesus told the Twelve and the Seventy to take with them ‘no bag’ (Mark 6:8; Luke 10:4). Christian ministers and teachers certainly have the right to be supported by those who benefit from their service, as Paul several times insisted (especially 1 Cor. 9:1–18; Gal. 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:17–18). But missionaries begging money from unbelievers is another.
Stott, “An important principle lies buried here, namely that we Christians should finance Christian enterprises which the world will not, or should not be expected to, support. 
Support Missions because you are fellow-participants in their work. (v.8)
Stott, “Entertaining and providing for travelling missionaries is that by so doing we work together for the truth. This implies that we are co-operating with the missionaries and ‘so play our part in spreading the truth’ (neb).
Stott, “The Christian missionaries co-operate with the truth by proclaiming it; we co-operate with it by entertaining them.
Application: Chris Dodson and family are coming in a few weeks and we want to treat them well. If you are interested in giving a little for a treat basket, let me know.

The Word for Diotrephes

Diotrephes is proud.

9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.

Who is Diotrephes?
Stott, “Yet Gaius and Diotrephes were probably members of the same congregation,
Dodd, “they were members of neighbouring churches.”
What is Diotrephes Doing? He is rejecting John’s authority!
Stott, “The other letter must be an official letter addressed to the church. The letter in question must, therefore, have been lost, possibly because Diotrephes destroyed it.
Stott, “Whether or not Diotrephes destroyed the letter, or declined to read it to the church, he certainly rejected the elder’s written instruction.
Stott, “He was not going to be dictated to by John. He evidently claimed an authority of his own.
Why is Diotrephes rejecting John’s authority?
1. The reason was not theological.
Stott, “Not doctrinal heresy but personal ambition was the cause of the trouble.
Findlay points out that the name Diotrephes was as rare as Gaius was common. His name means ‘Zeus-reared, nursling of Zeus’ and was only to be found ‘in noble and ancient families’, he conjectures that this Diotrephes ‘belonged to the Greek aristocracy of the old royal city.’
2. The reason was not the autonomy of the local church.
Barclay suggests Diotrephes may have been an elder who was determined to champion the autonomy of the local church
He resented both the ‘remote control’ of John and ‘the interference of wandering strangers’.
Stott, “Precisely what his position was depends on whether his excommunication of church members (10) rested on any proper authority or was arrogantly presumptuous.
3. The reason is moral sin.
Stott, “The root of the problem was sin
Stott, “He wanted the supremacy himself. He was ‘greedy of place and power’ (Findlay). He had not heeded the warnings of Jesus against ambition and the desire to rule (e.g. Mark 10:42–45; cf. 1 Pet. 5:3).
Smith comments that ‘proagein (2 Jn. 9) and philoprōteuein denote intellectual arrogance and personal aggrandisement’.
3 Signs of Leadership Pride

10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

1. Diotrephes slandered John.
Stott, “He is gossiping maliciously about us. The word for gossiping (phlyarōn) means in classical Greek to ‘talk nonsense’. ‘It conveys the idea that the words were not only wicked, but senseless’ (Plummer).
Stott, “Diotrephes sought to undermine his position by slanderous gossip.
2. Diotrephes refused outside instruction or assistance.
Stott, “He was not satisfied with a campaign of malicious gossip about John, but went further and deliberately defied ‘the elder’: He refuses to welcome the brothers.
Stott, “He did not honour them for setting out ‘for the sake of the Name’; he was more concerned for the glory of his own name. Perhaps he had no better reason for refusing to welcome these strangers than that John had commanded it. He would not have them in his home or help them.
3. Diotrephes cut off any relationships with people who disagreed.
Those who wanted to obey John and welcome them he first prevented from carrying out their desire and then excommunicated.
Application: Self-love vitiates all relationships.

11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.

Stott, “Diotrephes slandered John, cold-shouldered the missionaries and excommunicated the loyal believers—all because he loved himself and wanted to have the pre-eminence.
Stott, “This is the moral test which is often applied in the first letter (e.g. 2:3–6, 28–29; 3:4–10; 5:18).
Stott, “Perhaps in this generalization John has Diotrephes in mind and thus obliquely indicates that he questions whether Diotrephes is a true Christian at all.

The Word for Demetrius

12 Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.

Demetrius’s Testimony is Good.
The testimony of others is good.
Stott, “A certain Demetrius is mentioned in Acts 19:23ff., a silversmith of Ephesus; but there is no evidence that it is he who is here described.
Stott, “Nor can we say that he is the same as Demas in Paul’s letters (Col. 4:14; Phlm. 24; 2 Tim. 4:10), although Demas is probably short for Demetrius.
According to the Apostolical Constitutions John later appointed him Bishop of Philadelphia.
The testimony from the truth is good.
Stott, “ It surely means rather that the Christian genuineness of Demetrius did not need human witness; it was self-evident.
The testimony from us is good.
Stott, “It has been conjectured that John thus commended him because he was the bearer of the letter, a ‘travelling assistant of the Apostle’ (Findlay),
or because he was an object of Diotrephes’ malice and Gaius needed to be reassured about him. Either is possible; both are speculative.
The former is more probable as John seems to be commending Demetrius to Gaius as if Gaius did not already know him.
Demetrius’ Testimony is the same as the gospel of John:
John 21:24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

Final Application

13 I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink. 14 I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.

15 Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, each by name.

Conclusion is the same as 2 John 12.
Stott, “Peace to you, the Hebrew greeting, invested with new meaning by Jesus after the resurrection (John 20:19, 21, 26), is an appropriate prayer for Gaius if he had to exercise leadership in a church where Diotrephes was stirring up strife.
Tonight again, do not rush out but spend some time enjoying one another face to face.
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