A Study on 3 John
1The Elder, to Gaius, my dear friend, whom I truly love.
2Dear friend, I pray that in every way things may go well with you and that you may be healthy -
just as I have heard that things are going well with your soul. 3For it filled me with great joy when
Christian brothers came, and told me about the truth that is in you - the truth in which you
continue to live. 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my spiritual children continue to live in
5Dear friend, you have been faithful in what you have done for the Christian brothers, even
though they are strangers to you. 6They have told the church about your love. You will do well to
send them on their way, in a manner worthy of God. 7It was for his name's sake that they went out,
receiving no financial help from those who do not know God. 8We, therefore, ought to help them,
so that we may be fellow workers for the truth.
9I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to put himself first, will not pay attention to
what we say. 10So if I visit, I will point out what he is doing, spreading false rumors about us. Not
satisfied with that, he not only refuses to welcome the Christian brothers, but also tries to stop
others from doing so, expelling them out of the church.
11Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does what is good is from
God; he who does what is evil has not seen God. 12Everyone speaks well of Demetrius; the truth
itself speaks well of him. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.
13I have many things to say to you, but am unwilling to do so with pen and ink. 14I hope to see you
soon, and then we will talk face to face.
Peace to you. The friends here greet you. Greet the friends there by name.
- Looking at the context (v. 1-4), what is John's primary concern
in his opening statements?
- Compare/contrast his
emphasis with what is prevalent today.
- What brings John joy? (See also: 2 John 1:4.) Why does it bring him joy?
- Using this passage, along with the other books written by John, what is involved in his concept of "truth"? (Selected
verses might include: John 1:14,17; 8:32,44; 14:6,17; 16:13; 17:17; 18:37; 1 John 1:6,8; 2:4,8,20,21;
3:18,19; 4:6; 5:6; 2 John 1:1-4; 3 John 1:8,12.)
- How did John encourage Gaius?
- How did Gaius have an impact on the lives of others? How might we (in our own circumstances) follow Gaius' example
of expressing love and faithfulness?
- Compare or contrast Gaius' attitude toward others with the attitudes that are common in the world around us.
- See also 2 John 1:9-11. In both of these passages, what is our obligation? Why? What is the end result?
- (You may wish to discuss examples of individuals being "sent out," and other people's obligations to such individuals.
A few suggested references are: Mark 6:7-13; Acts 13:2-3; Romans 16:23; 1 Peter 4:8-10.)
- Compare the attitude of Gaius (v. 5-6) with that of Diotrophes. What is the motivating factor for each? (Alternate
question: Who or what does each of them love and serve?) How does this motivating factor (or person/thing being
loved/served) manifest itself in their actions? What are the results (short term/long term) of such actions?
- What do other verses in the Bible say about these attitudes?
- How could we (in our own circumstances) fall into the trap of expressing the same type of attitude that Diotrephes
had? What can we do to make sure it doesn't happen?
- The message of v. 11a occurs in many other passages. (A few such passages include: Psalm 1; 1 Corinthians 10:6;
11:1; 15:13; etc.) Using these (and similar verses), discuss right and wrong ways to use people (or things) as
examples that we can "imitate." (Include how we can know the difference between these right and wrong
ways to use examples.)
- Read Matthew 7:15-23; Galatians 5:19-23; James 1:22-25 (and any other verses you may wish to include from James and 1
John). Discuss the differences and similarities that may exist, between one's "fruit" and what is in his "heart."
If possible, discuss the relationship between the two. (Support your statements with Scripture.)
- Nothing is mentioned about Demetrius' background. He may have been one of the "Christian brothers" who was
coming to visit the church (compare with v. 5-6) - perhaps being sent by John with this letter. Obviously, he
had a good reputation.
- How great was this reputation? According to Scripture, how does a person get such a reputation? (What is his
motivation or attitude? Is he trying to get such a reputation?) In answering this question, perhaps a good place
to start might be with these verses: Mark 9:33-37; 1 Corinthians 15:9-10; Philippians 2:3-5; 1 Timothy 1:15-16; James 3:13-18.
- Of all the things John could have written about, what are
some possible reasons that God led him to select
this topic for writing? (Example: How does its message fill a
unique need that God's people might have?)
- What type of attitude toward others is seen in v. 14? What can we learn from it?
QUESTION FOR THE WHOLE BOOK:
- The two greatest commands are summarized in Matthew 22:34-40. How are these commands exemplified (shown by
example) in 3 John?
Dennis Hinks - Translation © 1996
Study Guide © 1994, 2004