Week Four. John Son of Thunder Apostle of Love

February 26. 3 John

John pens another short little note that we have preserved for us as 3 John. And, in some translations, he names himself as “John the elder” both in this letter and 2 John as well. He’s relaxed his former approach of never naming himself by this stage in his life, evidently. I thought he only named himself in Revelation. In any case, he’s chatting to a “dear friend” and we see John’s emphasis on both truth and love in the very first part of the letter: “I am writing to Gaius, my dear friend, whom I love in the truth.” John loves well and John values truth highly. We should be like him in these twin ideals!

John is thrilled that traveling teachers are being welcomed into Christian homes in his churches. This is as it should be. We still do this today. Over the years, my husband and I have welcomed many a missionary or traveling singer from a college into our home. Even though they are technically strangers, they are siblings in Christ and swiftly become dear friends. I’ve found that there is a bond between those of us who love the Lord that unites us together in heart almost instantly. It’s amazing!

John is NOT thrilled with one of the leaders of one of the churches. Diotrephes receives John’s thunder in this letter. Diotrephes evidently was letting power go to his head. He didn’t want anyone else teaching his flock. This is a dangerous attitude, when we think we are the only ones who can “do it right.” God uses many different personalities and temperaments to teach in the church. The important thing is that they believe the truths found in God’s Word. I wonder if John did get to go and scold Diotrephes in person, or whether he was exiled before he had that opportunity! Quite frankly, I would not have wanted to be in Diotrephes’ sandals if John came to visit me!!

What can we learn from this little letter? Well, to continue to value truth and love, to be willing and ready to open our homes to fellow believers, and to guard against an attitude that says we are the only ones who understand correctly in all matters. It’s okay to disagree about a lot of things. We can’t create clones of ourselves and shut everyone out who doesn’t precisely do things our way. At the same time, we must always agree on the essential doctrines found in God’s Word. How do we discern this? Well, by reading the Word and studying it which is exactly what we’ve been doing this past month.

My verse: 3 John 2. “Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong on spirit.”

My response: I love John’s concern for Gaius’s total well-being. A healthy body is a great gift we should never take for granted. And, even more important, we ought to be concerned that our friends are “strong in spirit.” In fact, in verse four John says there is no greater joy than to hear his children in the Lord are following the truth. Lord, help me to be concerned about both in the lives of those I love. And the greatest good is that they be strong in spirit. 

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