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And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Summary of John's Third Epistle

By H. A. (Buster) Dobbs

I.  Introduction.
    A.    The author of the letter (1:1).
        1.   John refers to himself as the elder--the aged apostle (1:1).
    B.    The letter was written to Gaius (1:1).
        1.   Three persons named Gaius are mentioned in the New 
            Testament (Rom. 16:23; Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4).
            a.  We cannot be sure John refers to any of the three.
            b.  Gaius was a common name in the first century.
        2.   The Gaius to whom John wrote was known to and loved by 
            John in the truth (truly or sincerely) (1:1).
    B.    John's prayer for Gaius (1:2).
        1.   Gaius would have material abundance and good health (1:2).
            a.  It is not wrong to want worldly possessions, but we must 
                guard against trusting in them (Luke 12:15).
            b.  It is not wrong to want good health, but it is wrong to 
                want it so much we cannot be content (Phil. 4:11).
        2.   John knew Gaius was firm in faith and rich in virtue, 
            enjoying an abundant and complete life, and asked of God 
            that Gaius might be as affluent in money and health as he was 
            in spirit and truth (1:2).
II.  Hospitality in Support of Truth (1:3-12).
     A.    The good report concerning Gaius (1:3-4).
         1.   John learned Gaius was walking in the truth (1:3).
             a.  Walking in the truth is equivalent to walking in the light 
                 (1 John 1:7).
             b.  Walking in the light of truth brings freedom from sin, and 
                 therefore, liberty from panic and alarm (John 8:32).
         2.   John's greatest joy was hearing his disciples were faithful 
             a.  John considered spiritual prosperity to be more important 
                 than wealth and health (1:4).
             b.  John thought of Gaius as his child in the faith--John was 
                 responsible for the conversion of Gaius (1:4).
     B.    John's request of Gaius (1:5-8).
         1.   John commends Gaius (1:5).
             a.  Gaius sheltered and supported true teachers of the word 
             b.  Gaius was helpful to brethren and strangers (1:5).
             c.  The brethren were members of the church known to both 
                 John and Gaius. The strangers were also members of the 
                 church, previously unknown to Gaius, but for whom he 
                 provided (1:5).
         2.   Those who has been helped by Gaius reported it to the 
             church from which they went out (1:6).
             a.  John congratulates Gaius for his continued help of these 
                 brethren and strangers (1:6).
             b.  This was done in a manner worthy of God (1:6).
         3.   The workers Gaius helped on their journey went among the 
             Gentiles preaching the gospel, but taking no financial support 
             from the Gentiles (1:7).
             a.  Gentiles would later be taught to give material aid to their 
                 spiritual teachers (1 Cor 9:11-14; Gal. 6:6).
             b.  When Gentiles were first converted, they were not asked 
                 to give money to advance the preaching of the word lest 
                 the motive of the teacher be in doubt (1 Cor. 9:15).
             c.  These preachers faced many dangers and accepted 
                 hardship to teach the Gentiles (1:7).
         4.   John says when we help such people we are fellow workers 
             for the truth (1:8).
             a.  By supporting those who leave the comforts of home and 
                 face peril to teach the word, we please God by advancing 
                 truth (1:8).
             b.  We are credited with the good done by agents we have 
                 commissioned (1:8; John 4:1-2).
     C.    Diotrephes and Demetrius (1:9-12).
         1.   John had either written to the church of which Gaius was a 
             member, or would have written, to give this same counsel 
             a.  Diotrephes, a ruler in the church of which Gaius was a 
                 member, loved power and ran rough-shod over the church 
             b.  Diotrepehes received not John as an apostle (1:9).
         2.   John intended to visit the church and remember the deeds 
             of Diotrephes (1:10).
             a.  John claims to be superior to Diotrepehes. He will call the 
                 trouble maker to account and punish him.
             b.  This is not a personal matter, but Diotrepehes was 
                 forbidding disciples to receive the brethren and strangers, 
                 and those who did receive them were cast out of the 
                 church. He interfered with the free course of truth--a 
                 religious offense (1:10).
             c.  Diotrepehes also attacked the apostle John with malicious 
                 words (1:10).
         3.   John tells Gaius to follow good and not evil (1:11).
             a.  He who does good is of God (1:11).
             b.  He who does evil has no right knowledge of God (1:11).
         4.   John commends Demetrius (1:12).
             a.  All men praised Demetrius.
             b.  The truth praised Demetrius because his conduct was 
                 according to the rules of the gospel (1:12).
             c.  The apostle John also sincerely praised him (1:12).
             d.  His example was worthy to be followed (1:11).
III.  Conclusion (1:13-14).
      A.    John hoped to speak with Gaius face to face (1:13).
      B.    "Peace be unto thee. The friends salute thee. Salute the 
          friends by name" (1:14).
          1.   John uses the word "friend" as a synonym for disciple, or 
              believer, or Christian.
             a.  They were friends of Christ and therefore friends of one 
                  another, and friends of all who know and love truth (John 

H. A. "Buster" Dobbs, email:
P. O. Box 690192
Houston, Texas 77269-0192
(281) 469-3540

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