By special invitation or with a surprise knock, company arrives and with them comes the promise of soiled floors, extra laundry, dirty dishes, altered schedules, personal expense, and inconvenience. From sharing a meal to providing a bed, hospitality costs… in time, energy, and money. But how we treat others reflects our true values—what is really important to us. Do we see people as objects or inconveniences, or as unique creations of a loving God? And which is more important to God, a person or a carpet? Perhaps the most effective way to demonstrate God’s values and Christ’s love to others is to invite and welcome guests into our homes.
For Gaius, hospitality was a habit, and his reputation for friendship and generosity, especially to traveling teachers and missionaries (1:5), had spread. To affirm and thank Gaius for his Christian lifestyle, and to encourage him in his faith, John wrote this personal note.
John’s format for this letter centers around three men: Gaius, the example of one who follows Christ and loves others (1:1-8); Diotrephes, the self-proclaimed church leader who does not reflect God’s values (1:9-11); and Demetrius, who also follows the truth (1:12). John encourages Gaius to practice hospitality, continue to walk in the truth, and do what is right.
Although this is a personal letter, we can look over the shoulder of Gaius and apply its lessons to our life. As you read 3 John, with which man do you identify? Are you a Gaius, generously giving to others? a Demetrius, loving the truth? or a Diotrephes, looking out for yourself and your things? Determine to reflect Christ’s values in your relationships, opening your home and touching others with his love.
Purpose: To commend Gaius for his hospitality and to encourage him in his Christian life
Author: The apostle John
Original Audience: Gaius, a prominent Christian in one of the churches known to John
Date Written: Approximately A.D. 90 from Ephesus
Setting: Church leaders traveled from town to town helping to establish new congregations. They depended on the hospitality of fellow believers. Gaius was one who welcomed these leaders into his home.
Key Verse: “Dear friend, you are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you” (1:5).
Key People: John, Gaius, Diotrephes, Demetrius
- God’s children live by the standards of the gospel (1:1-12)
- John’s final words (1:13-14)
John wrote to commend Gaius, who was taking care of traveling teachers and missionaries, and to warn against people like Diotrephes, who was proud and refused to listen to spiritual leaders in authority. If we are to live in the truth of the gospel, we must look for ways to support pastors, Christian workers, and missionaries today. All Christians should work together to support God’s work both at home and around the world.
|Hospitality||John wrote to encourage those who were kind to others. Genuine hospitality for traveling Christian workers was needed then and is still important today.||Faithful Christian teachers and missionaries need our support. Whenever you can extend hospitality to others, it will make you a partner in their ministry.|
|Pride||Diotrephes not only refused to offer hospitality but also set himself up as a church boss. Pride disqualified him from being a real leader.||Christian leaders must shun pride and its effects on them. Be careful not to misuse your position of leadership.|
|Faithfulness||Gaius and Demetrius were commended for their faithful work in the church. They were held up as examples of faithful, selfless servants.||Don’t take for granted Christian workers who serve faithfully. Be sure to encourage them so they won’t grow weary of serving.|
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Source: Life Application Study Bible, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1988), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 2158-2159.