I. AUTHOR – John, one of the twelve.
A. John identifies himself as “the elder” (v.1) as in 2nd John.
B. 3rd John was spoken against as an authentic book of the canon [antilegomena]:
1. External evidence: weak
· Origen, A.D. 185-253
· Dionysius of Alexandria, A.D. 200-265
· Eusebius, A.D. 260-340
· Jerome, A.D. 340-420
2. Internal evidence: strong
· Similarity of style and content to 2nd John affirms John as the author of 3rd John.
II. DATE – between 90 and 95 A.D. from Ephesus
III. OCCASION – warning against a tyrannical leader named Diotrephes.
Diotrephes refused hospitality to emissaries sent out from John and excommunicated anyone who did.
Gaius extended hospitality to emissaries from John.
IV. COMPARISON TO 2 JOHN
Both epistles address the concern over itinerant teachers and hospitality given to them.
Both epistles are concerned with the relationship between “truth” and hospitality but for different reasons.
2nd John is a condemnation for giving hospitality to false teachers whereas 3rd John is a commendation for giving hospitality to teachers of the truth.
2nd John stresses the truth of doctrine whereas 3rd John stresses integrity of doctrine.
2nd John is more general but 3rd John is more personal in dealing with specific cases.
V. DESTINATION – to Gaius and the Christian community in the Roman province of Asia.
A. 3rd John is a genuine letter written by “the elder” to a highly wealthy and influential believer named Gaius [common name].
Uncertain as to whether he is one of the Gaiuses of Acts 19:20; Ro 16:23; 1 Co 1:14
B. 3rd John designed to be shared with other believers in Asia Minor [in Turkey today].
C. 3rd John has universal value to the church of all ages.
VI. BACKGROUND: Diotrephes refused to recognize itinerate preachers sent by John and opposed them. He did this for personal reasons – he wanted to have preeminence in the church. The issue was personal, not doctrinal.
VII. PURPOSE – to warn against self-exaltation and self-assumption in leading the local church.
A. To commend Gaius’ commendable conduct of putting the needs of teachers of truth above his own (vv. 5-8).
Providing for teachers is worthy of God (v. 6)
Providing for teachers is necessary to advance the gospel (v. 7)
Providing for teachers puts the supporter as a partner with the teacher (v.8)
B. To warn against Diotrephes’ contemptible conduct by putting his own needs before the cause of Christ (v. 9)
1. Diotrephes’ problem was pride
2. Result of pride (v. 10):
Lies and false accusations to lift self above others
Selfishness and insecurity
Oppressiveness, intimidation and exclusion of others from fellowship
C. To commend Demetrius as a traveling teacher and bearer of the letter of 3rd John (v. 12).
D. To inform his readers that John is coming for a visit soon (v. 14)
VIII. KEY VERSES: verses 3,4,8,12
IX. KEY WORD – “truth” (vv. 3,4,8,12)
X. THEME – examples of leadership who walk and who do not walk in integrity (v. 4)
XI. CHARACTER I ST I CS
A. Highly personal epistle but also clearly official.
E. 3rd Johnis the most personal letter in the New Testament.
F. Shows the relationship between truth and love.
G. 3rd John deals with more of a personal issue than a doctrinal issue.
XII. MISCELLANEOUS MATTER
A. Second shortest book in the New Testament [2nd John is shortest in terms of verses; 3rd John is the shortest book in terms of size – one line shorter]
B. 3rd John revolves around 3 people
C. 3rd John is important for the nature of church leadership
Introduction, vv. 1-4
· Salutation, vv. 1-2
· Joy in standing for truth, vv. 3-4
Three Portraits (5-12):
1st Portrait: Confirmation of Gaius as a leader with God’s viewpoint, vv. 5-8
2nd Portrait: Complains of domineering Diotrephes as a leader with selfish viewpoint, vv. 9-10
3rd Portrait: Commendation of Demetrius as a leader with God’s viewpoint, vv. 11-12
Conclusion, vv. 13-14
Reason for short letter, vv. 13, 14
Benediction and greeting, v. 14b