Survey of the Bible - III John

Text: III John


I.         The three letters of John all deal with various topics related to fellowship

            A.        III John develops the idea of fellowship by contrasting two individuals: Gaius and Diotrephes.

            B.        Second shortest book in the Bible

            C.        Author

                        1.         The authorship being John is basically uncontested.

                        2.         The similarities in style in all of John’s letters as well as the topics address give strong support.

            D.        Date

                        1.         Usually placed between A.D. 85 and 95, usually about A.D. 90

            E.        People mentioned

                        1.         The letter is written to Gaius.

                                    a.         Paul mentions baptizing a Gaius in I Corinthians 1:14. That would have taken place during the same time covered by Acts 18.

                                    b.         Gaius, called a Macedonian along with Aristarchus, traveled with Paul to Ephesus - Acts 19:29

                                    c.         Aristarchus is again mentioned as being from Thessalonica, and Gaius is mentioned as being from the city of Derbe in Asia, traveled with Paul from Macedonia to Asia - Acts 20:4

                                    d.         Paul sends greetings to Rome from Gaius, in whose house he is staying in while in Corinth. He is mentioned as hosting the church in Corinth in his house as well - Romans 16:23

                                    e.         It is possible, but not certain, that these are all the same man: born in Derbe, living in Macedonia and then Corinth.

                        2.         Diotrephes serves as the contrast. Nothing else is known of him but what is written here.

                        3.         Demetrius is the purpose of this letter. It introduces him to Gaius.

                                    a.         There is a Demetrius mentioned in Ephesus in Acts 19:24, 38, but it is unlikely to be the same man.

II.        Outline

            A.        Salutation - III John 1

            B.        Commendation of Gaius - III John 2-8

                        1.         Word of his faithfulness has reached John - III John 2-4

                                    a.         John’s prayer that Gaius’ physical life be as good as his spiritual life

                                    b.         There is nothing more pleasing to a teacher than to learn that a student is doing well - II John 4; I Corinthians 4:15; Proverbs 23:24

                        2.         Importance of hospitality to brethren - III John 5-8

                                    a.         Gaius is faithful in serving others - I Peter 4:10; I Timothy 6:17-19

                                    b.         He has helped those teaching Christ - I Corinthians 9:18

                                    c.         We all ought to receive such men - Matthew 10:40

            C.        Condemnation of Diotrephes - III John 9-10

                        1.         Some time in the past, John had written to the church to introduce those coming through, but Diotrephes rejected them and John

                                    a.         Hence this letter is being sent directly to Gaius instead of the local church

                                    b.         The motive is Diotrephes desire to control the church. This was a way he saw to assert his will - Matthew 23:4-8

                                    c.         Notice that he forbids others from also receiving the brethren, to the point of putting those brethren out of the church (or putting the brethren who would receive them out of the church)

                        2.         John warns that if he must, he will face down Diotrephes

                                    a.         Notice John’s willingness to judge a man’s sins when necessary - I Corinthians 5:3-5; II Corinthians 13:2

                                    b.         Jesus warned there would be men like Diotrephes - Luke 6:22

            D.        Lesson to be learned - III John 11

                        1.         I John 2:29; 3:6-9

            E.        Introduction to Demetrius - III John 12

                        1.         Demetrius is testified to being a good man by people and by God’s Word. John also affirms he is a good man.

            F.        John’s plans to come soon - III John 13-14

                        1.         Some things are best left private

            G.        Closing - III John 15

III.       The importance of this letter

            A.        Many places talk of our need to keep the church pure and not to allow the acceptance of sinners in our midst.

            B.        III John serves as a balance against an extreme isolation from everyone.

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