In the third and final letter from John, truth is once again evidenced in his thoughts.
John is writing, in part, to commend a man named Gaius. John said of Gaius that he was walking in the truth and that he was being faithful in providing support for strangers who were traveling around sharing the gospel (perhaps like modern day missionaries?).
While there are many who are called to travel around sharing the gospel – to be missionaries – most of us are not. That doesn’t excuse us from the responsibility of the Great Commission (Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”). We can all come alongside those who are called to do such work by providing prayer, encouragement, and financial support. This makes us the “fellow workers” that John talks about in verse 8.
John then goes on to contrast the faithful and loving behavior of Gaius with the selfish and subversive behavior of Diotrephes. In verse 11 he tells Gaius, and us, “do not imitate evil but imitate good”. It’s not enough to just not imitate evil, but it is commanded that we imitate good. The one who does good is from God.
-Todd & Amy Blanchard
Do you know who the missionaries we, as a church, support? You can learn about them and our organization for supporting them, Lord’s Harvest International here: http://lhicog.com/
Who do you know that you could imitate? How?
Are the choices you make (attitudes, actions, words, etc.) worthy of imitation?
For such a short letter, John really packs a lot into it. The greeting, which, if I am being honest, often gets skimmed, offers some insight into what the letter contains. He mentions truth or the truth four times in the greeting alone. I think his point is that truth matters. So, what is the truth that he is talking about? Verse 9 talks about abiding in the teaching of Christ. This is the truth that is empathized in his greeting. Verse 7 says that a deceiver is one who does not confess (believe) that Jesus Christ came in the flesh – that he was a real man who lived on this earth. No one likes to find out they were deceived, tricked, or made to look foolish because they believed a lie. The truth is that Jesus is the Son of God, he did live on the earth, he did preach a message of the coming kingdom, he did die for our sins, he was raised up, and he will come back. We are to abide in that teaching, in that truth.
I looked up abide and was surprised at the many definitions it has. Here are a few:
to accept or act in accordance with
to remain in a stable or fixed state
to continue in a particular condition, attitude, or relationship
to be able to live with or put up with
Not only are we to abide in this truth, but to NOT abide in it is to NOT have God. That is a scary thought!
John provides a warning to us in verse 8 to “Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward”. He warns us because there will be “many deceivers” – many people who won’t be abiding in the truth about Jesus. The only way to know if you are being told the truth or if you are being deceived is to “test everything” (I Thessalonians 5:21). In order to do that, we need to know the truth ourselves. We need to “test” what we are being taught against what is in God’s word, the Bible.
Todd & Amy Blanchard
Have you ever been deceived by someone? How did you learn about the truth and what steps have you taken so you aren’t deceived in that way again?
How can you apply that to being watchful with regard to your faith walk (walking in the truth)?
Being aware that knowledge of the truth prevents deception, how can you share your knowledge to help keep others from being deceived?
In his final letter, John again expresses the joy he has knowing that young believers (“my children”) are “walking in the truth.” It is an important truth that godly parents want to see their children also pursuing the things of God. When we are young, we may think of all the accomplishments we could do in school, in sports, or in other extracurricular activities, but none of that can measure up to how proud a parent is when we do what pleases the Lord. We may not think that such things are all that meaningful when we are young compared to achieving awards, getting good grades, or winning a championship, but children who obey the Lord bring greater joy to their parents than all their other successes combined.
Another main point that John raises in his letter is the importance of hospitality, especially when it involves fellow believers. He instructs Gaius to continue to do what is “faithful” for the brothers and sisters, “even when they are strangers.” We don’t need to know who someone is in great detail before we offer them food, shelter, or aid. Christian believers should be apt to show hospitality to all people, but especially to those from the household of faith, even if they are strangers.
To be generous and hospitable toward someone whom you do not know and who is not able to repay you is a sincere demonstration of love. My father used to always say that I should leave someone better than when I found them, and I believe that is what John is expressing when he tells Gaius that he will “do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.” That means giving them the best treatment and going to the furthest extent possible to assist them and prepare them for whatever comes next for them.
Whether it is giving someone a ride somewhere, dropping off a home-cooked meal, or helping with homework or other assignments and projects, no matter what it is, if we do it wholeheartedly as if we were serving the Lord Christ, then we can be confident that we will be sending our fellow brother or sister on their way “in a manner worthy of God.”
Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Hosea 12-14 and 3 John 1
John writes about those who have “come to know the truth” and that he is rejoicing to see some young family members “walking in the truth” (vv. 1, 4). This “truth” is not some list of doctrines or deep theology but a simple commandment: “that we love one another” (v. 5). Sometimes we can overcomplicate the “truth.” Now don’t misunderstand John; the truth in Scripture is very deep and has many levels. It is not merely comprised of this one commandment. We might say that whatever Scripture reveals on any subject can be constituted as “truth.”
As John wrote about in his previous letter (cf. 1 John 5), biblically speaking love is not predominantly this passionate emotion of desire as some might think of it. Rather, the love that John is talking about is intricately bound together with obedience. And therefore, this is why he says, “And this is love: that we walk according to his commandments” (v. 6).
Why is this so important to John that he is reiterating it again here in his 2nd letter? The reason is likely part of his subsequent warning about the “many deceivers” who are in the world (v. 7). There are many forces at work in the world vying for our attention and our devotion. John raises the danger about these “deceivers” and how they can lead someone astray from the truth, for he declares that “everyone who goes too far and does not remain in the teaching about Christ does not have God (v. 9).
We need to be aware and watch ourselves concerning those who do not “bring the teaching about Christ.” John is very stern about not entertaining deceivers in our homes. The adversary works in subtle ways and sometimes these deceptive influences can come from unlikely places and people who may not even be consciously or intentionally opposing God and the teaching about Christ, but nonetheless are stealthily subverting the message of the good news with criticism, skepticism, or mockery.
Let us be careful to recognize these evil works and not lose our focus on living according to God’s commandments.
Read or listen to today’s Bible reading passages at BibleGateway.com here – Hosea 9-11 and 2 John
Today, you are racing through two books at a blazing speed. Some of the shortest books in the Bible by word count, verse count, chapter count. However, a sad reality happens with Biblical books. The smaller they are, the less they are read. Out of the top 10 least read books on BibleGateway, you have read three this week. Jude is number 8 on the list of least read books. Though Obadiah takes home the #1 spot, 2 John and 3 John take spots 3 and 4, respectively. It’s sad, because what we get in 2 John and 3 John is the same God-inspired message, just in much smaller, some would say, bite-sized portions.
Let’s talk about the letter’s collectively. Both are written to smaller groups than 1 John. 1 John was to a general audience; 3 John is to one man, and 2 John is to one woman, or one church. Either way, 2 John’s statements make sense. John says that he is joyous that some “children” are walking in truth. In 3 John 4, we see that this is his greatest joy. Walking in truth means believing in Jesus and following his way of living. Those young people he loves, who he has “raised in the faith”, his “children”, he loves to know they have remained faithful to Jesus.
We have already talked about this remaining faithful. You must follow the commands of Jesus. It is not a new commandment but an old way. LOVE our brothers and sisters, one another in the body! If you don’t understand loving a brother and sister, you don’t understand the gospel. John is clear. This is THE commandment of Jesus. 3 John gives us an example of this. John is commending Gaius for supporting the work of brothers and sisters who were passing through preaching the gospel. He welcomed them in, allowed them to teach, gave them money and sent them on their way. This was the right thing to do. And a man named Diotrephes DIDN’T do the right thing, but in jealousy and out of a lack of love, did not support them and kicked out those who helped them.
But Diotrephes isn’t alone in harming the message of Jesus. Diotrephes wanted to be the top dog, and his ego was hurt that respected teachers were coming into town. He wanted to be the greatest in the eyes of the church. His arrogance earned him disapproval from John. Moreover, John’s CONDEMNATION is poured out onto those who are deceivers, false teachers. People come along who are denying that Jesus came in the flesh, that he was born in the Little Town of Bethlehem on a Silent, Holy Night. John roundly condemns this attitude, this belief.
We don’t have people claiming that to us, but we can learn from this. John encourages “the woman” to compare the claims of these “teachers” with the claims of the apostles. If they didn’t match up, follow the trusted source. For you, test the claims that you hear about God, Jesus, the world, the afterlife, against the claims of those who have known and followed God, in scripture and the church. Trust those who have known and experienced God over those who want to be “first among everyone”. Don’t let false teachers and “Big-Headed-Egoists” harm THE faith or harm YOUR faith.
My brothers and sisters, I am glad to have been reading along with you this week, this week when we remember the birth of Christ. Whether we celebrate together or separately, we are bound together in love, affirming together the truths of Jesus and his message of eternal life.
May you love your brothers and sisters in faith.
May the church you call home be a beacon of love in a hurting world.
May you never be divided by the arrogant or the false teachers, but if they try, may you stay true to the faith of scripture.
My brothers and sisters, may you forever live in the words of 3 John 2 – Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.
Congratulations, you were born at a time when society rejects the notion of absolute truth! The world of the late 20th and early 21st century is characterized by a movement known as Post-modernism. It’s the age of skepticism, of subjectivity. It’s the age when society has been systematically doing away with notions of absolute, objective truth. The Post-modern notion is that reality is socially constructed. A good example of this is the idea of gender. Back in the olden days, before Post-modernism, you were either a male or a female. The way that you knew this was fairly simple and it was based on your physical anatomy. You were objectively a male or a female depending on how your body was equipped. But we were so unenlightened back in those days. Now we know that gender has nothing to do with the objective reality of your biological make up or even your D.N.A. It is determined by how you feel… it’s subjective and it’s fluid.
Along with the death of absolute truth in favor of subjectivity has come a change in notions of what is right and wrong. It used to be that right and wrong were measured against a set of standards given by authority. That authority was either God, or the laws of society. So things like murder or stealing, or adultery were wrong. Now, it seems, the far greater wrong is to tell people that they are not free to do as they please. It’s wrong to tell a man that he’s not free to marry another man or to tell a woman that she is not free to marry another woman. It’s wrong to use the masculine pronoun “He” to refer to God… or to even say that there is a God who makes rules about what is right and what is wrong.
These changes in our worldview are troubling to older people like me, and they should be troubling to younger people, too. However, this should not come as a surprise to any of us. For the Bible predicted, nearly 2000 years ago, that such things would happen. In fact, it was beginning to happen in some places even then.
In the back of your Bible are some letters that are so small they are almost invisible. The letters of 2 and 3 John and Jude are extremely brief. Sandwiched between the longer letter of I John and the book of Revelation, 2 and 3 John and Jude are short, but don’t dismiss them as being unimportant. Each of them has some important things to say about the need for objective truth and the need for Christians to stay faithful to the truth and to fight for the truth.
“I ask that we love one another. 6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.” II Jn 5-6.
Love is a great thing and it is at the heart of Christianity. Jesus said that the most important command is to love God and to love others. It’s important to understand that love is a term that is often subject to people’s arbitrary definitions. Love has become highly subjectivized. Love is whatever I say it is. John here offers a corrective to this subjective, Post-modern view of love. Love, as John defines it, is to “walk in obedience to his commands.” Love is more than just feeling good inside about God or your neighbor. There is objective content to love. It’s in a different part of the Bible, but go back sometime and check out I Corinthians 13 vs. 4-7. It gives a good, practical description of what love is… and it has very little to do with your feelings and everything to do with right actions. Love of God and neighbor is all about doing the things that God has commanded us to do.
3” 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. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – III John 3-4. Here, John holds up the standard of truth for Christians to follow and live by. We are to “walk in the truth.” This has to do with obedience to an objective standard or truth. God has things that he expects us to obey. There is a way that God expects us to live. Truth has objective content that we need to understand and obey. Post-modernism has tried to jettison this idea of objective truth and replace it with our own definition. Again, this is nothing new. In the Old Testament book of Judges it describes a time in Israel before there were kings that’s described as follows: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25. Just as Judges points to a time in our past history when people followed their own subjective desires rather than submitting to the objective truth of God as revealed by His word and by Jesus Christ, Jude warns of a time that was still to come when this would again be the case: 18…“In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.” Jude 18-19
As followers of Jesus, who is our true and ultimate king, we must reject this. We must follow the teaching of our king, we must receive his instructions to us as absolute truth and we must follow him by walking in that truth. It is sad when the people of the world abandon truth and follow their own desires. It is absolutely tragic when Christians abandon the absolute truth of God and fall for the subjective lies of this broken world. And yet, many Christians have done exactly this. Jude gives a strong admonition to all believers:3 “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. 4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” Jude3-4
Jude wants desperately for us to not allow ourselves to be lied to by any who would distort and twist the clear objective truth of God’s word and the absolute teachings of Jesus, in order to justify their own perversions. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that there’s no absolute truth, no black and white or right and wrong. There is and always will be truth, and that truth, as Jude contends, is worth fighting for. As you go to school or university or talk at work or with your friends, or even at Church, wherever you go where some would seek to undermine the objective truth of God’s word and substitute the subjectivity of this world with its anything goes faulty belief system, stand firm, don’t give up!!