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Purpose of The Book of 3 John:
Traveling teachers sent out by John were rejected in one of the churches in the province of Asia by the leader, Diotrephes. This man had gone so far as to excommunicate members who showed hospitality to John’s messengers. John wrote to Gaius, his friend and a leader in the church. He writes to praise and thank Gaius for his help and to give him encouragement. He also reproves Diotrephes for not cooperating and for rebelling against John’s leadership. In a later visit John will deal with him personally.
Summary of The Book of 3 John:
This letter is very similar to 2 John, with one difference: where 2 John deals with general principles, 3 John gives concrete examples in the life of a specific congregation. John encourages his readers to walk in Christ, brotherly love, and to avoid false doctrine.
We do not know which Gaius this is. There are three friends of Paul with this name: Gaius of Corinth (1 Cor 1:14), Gaius of Macedonia (Acts 19:29) and Gaius of Derbe (Acts 20:4). Gaius was a very common name in the time of the letter’s writing. It is possible that 3 John 9 is referring to 2 John and, if so, then both letters went to individuals in the same church (one to a loyal woman and one to a loyal man). Three persons are described in 3 John. Gaius is the dependable layman in the church, Diotrephes is the dominating official, Demetrius is the kind messenger from Ephesus with the letter.
Author and Dates of The Book of 3 John:
This letter was probably written about the same time as 1 John and 2 John. A comparison of 2 John and 3 John suggests that the apostle John was the author of both letters. John functioned as an elder in his later years, and he begins both 2 John and 3 John with that title. John uses identical phrases in both books: “love in the truth” (2 John 1 and 3 John 1) and “walking in the truth” (2 John 4 and 3 John 4).
Outline of The Book of 3 John:
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