Ever-present Evil, 3 John 1:1-14

“The ELDER, To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:” 3 John 1:1.

The exact identity of this man is unknown, since there are other men named Gaius mentioned in the New Testament; it is likely though that he had a high standing within the church of which he was a member.

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2.

John is not praying for prosperity for this man in the sense of the name it and claim it hucksters who teach Christians that God wants to make them rich.

Too many good Christians have been martyred, died in dungeons, and have had their worldly goods confiscated to give weight to the idea that God wants to make you rich.

Be assured that God was with these folks throughout their trial; but if they had believed that God was going to make them rich, they would have lost their faith well before the trial was over. We too must persevere when bad things happen.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.

Memorize this verse in the good times and do not forget it in the bad.

“I pray that you may prosper in all things” does mean that John is praying for Gaius’ work to prosper so that he may continue to care for the traveling evangelists, both by feeding them and giving them money to help them on their journey.

And that he may be blessed with a home for his family, food on the table and whatever else is necessary for their well-being.

“Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die): Remove falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches – feed me with the food You prescribe for me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.” Proverbs 30:7-9.

It would be nice to be rich and perhaps some of us will be, but it would be better if we could say the following with the apostle Paul.

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13.

“…to be abased”, means in low circumstances, treated with contempt yet live humbly, and “…how to abound”, means to live in prosperity and in good graces with all; we can do all these things through Christ who strengthens us.

It would be good if all Christians, particularly the heads of the households (fathers or grandfathers ideally) were to pray continually for their family’s well being.

Not for riches, but for enough, for work, housing, food, clothing, and whatever needs present themselves.

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2.

And finally, pray as John prayed, for health, and growth in Christ; it does not matter how rich one is, without good health, life is a drab place indeed.

And without growth in Christ one becomes spiritually ill which can have eternal consequences when rewards for service to Christ are given out at the judgment seat of Christ, see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.

“For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 3 John 1:3-4.

This truth is the truth as it is found in the gospel, which is not just the good news of the salvation which is in Jesus but all of God’s truth both in His commandments to love one another and to grow in Christ.

As can be seen in these epistles, particularly 1 John, the apostle is fighting the Gnosticism which unsaved men were trying to add to the doctrine of Christ.

This was a period when much heresy was creeping into the church, so it is easy to see why the apostle is joyful when he sees his spiritual children walking in the undefiled truth.

“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:20-24.

“Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well…” 3 John 1:5-6.

So Gaius had a reputation for helping the brethren and traveling evangelists, even strangers, and these things were reported to other churches as well as the one John was in. By repeating these things to him, John was encouraging him to continue a good work.

“…in a manner worthy of God” means to assist them with money, food, lodging, and to help them on their way, either with traveling companions, or provisions; good things as one would expect from God Himself.

This is in contrast to a church sending an evangelist or missionary on their way via bus, instead of by plane if they could afford it.

Giving them generic food, or used clothing instead of something of a better quality; even pledging money and not keeping that pledge.

Often a church cannot afford anything better, but they should do their best always.

This, my friends, is why God wants us to share our money by giving tithes to the church, tithes means one tenth (if you like, give more).

But God loves a cheerful giver, if one cannot give cheerfully then give to a Christian cause of choice, or give less, or keep the money, but never be a hypocrite, see Acts 4:32-5:11.

In turn, it is the responsibility of the church to use the money wisely, or they are robbing God.

There is nothing more disgusting than to see church supported leadership driving around in a new Mercedes and living in a huge new house while there are those in the church or in the mission field suffering, God will judge as surely as that Day is coming.

But if the church can afford it, why not treat missionaries and evangelists the same way they would want to be treated? It is this attitude that is a manner worthy of God.

There are missionaries and evangelists who are doing a good ministry, yet they are living hand to mouth, not because God is cheap, but because the church supporting them is cheap.

“…because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.” 3 John 1:7-8.

These men stepped out in faith to preach and teach Christ Jesus and Him crucified, for Christ’s sake because they loved Him and had a burden for the souls of the lost.

In so doing they relied on God alone to supply their needs, not going to the unsaved, which is the likely meaning of Gentiles (non-Jews) here.

“We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.” If you are afraid to speak publicly, if you are bedridden and cannot get out of your house, if you are painfully shy or get tongue tied when you try to speak, if for any reason, you find that you cannot serve the Lord in some manner, consider supporting those who can do the things you cannot do.

Remember, we all have different gifts, we are not all missionaries, evangelists, pastors, or teachers; rather than envying their gifts, support them in the manner that you can.

Individuals and ministries that work on a faith basis always need money to support their work.

But be careful how you distribute your money, you are God’s steward with the things He has given you, make sure that they have a reputation for putting your donations to good use in reaching the lost, or helping the down and out.

If a televangelist has gold faucets in his home or an air conditioned doghouse; he obviously has no need for your money.

Money is not the only need in the world, if you have a love for writing letters (or emails), perhaps you could write to those who are isolated, like a missionary.

Some may be sick and you may be good at visiting folks; some may be hungry and you can provide food; some may be coming out of the hospital and could use a hot meal; and everyone needs prayer.

If this is something you like to do, pray for the sick, the needy, the missionary, the evangelist, the lonely and depressed, or me.

You are only useless to God if you long to do great things and neglect the simplest of things at hand.

When you help in this way, you become co-workers with the folks who do the things that you cannot. And God will reward you along with them.

“I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us.” 3 John 1:9.

This is evidently the purpose of the letter, Diotrephes, who is either an official in the same church as Gaius, or in another near by, would not read the letter to the church.

In this manner John is doing an end run around the arrogant Diotrephes to encourage the members of his church to receive these traveling brethren.

It would also appear that unless things change, John is planning to make a trip to this church and correct the problem in person.

“Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.” 3 John 1:10.

“…prating against us with malicious words”, prating; to accuse one falsely with malicious words; malicious, meaning wicked.

“These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” Proverbs 6:16-19.

Diotrephes certainly fits at least four of these categories, especially the last one, sowing discord among brethren.

“…he himself does not receive the brethren”, since this person seems to have some authority in the church, he really should be the one greeting these visitors.

He then compounds his evil, “…and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church”, not receiving visiting ministers to speak in church is one thing, but to put someone out of the church for no good reason, is a travesty.

Often when one is put out like that they become discouraged, not having fellowship and what could have been a wonderful ministry can shrivel down to nothing, robbing God.

“Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.” 3 John 1:11.

John is repeating what he has been saying in different ways throughout these three epistles; those who do good are of God and those who do evil are not of God.

This brings us back to what Jesus said some time before.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” Matthew 7:15-16.

These verses show us exactly who Diotrephes serves and John warns the church, “do not imitate what is evil, but what is good.”

This man somehow has authority in the church, but his actions show us that he is nothing but a godless man serving the devil, and John warns others not to imitate him or those like him.

False prophets have been an ever-present evil since the beginning of the church at Pentecost, and going even further back, after the flood in Noah’s time.

One thing becomes abundantly clear, especially if you study the last eight books of the New Testament; men do knowingly and with malice, lie to people, especially the gullible who do not study the Scriptures.

In doing so they gain riches, power, and an undeserved respect; rest assured, they will spend eternity in the lake of fire, and unfortunately, there will be many of their victims with them.

It is these ungodly false prophets who have made such a shambles of the church over the last, nearly two thousand years, and if you study the Book of Revelation, it will become clear to you that the lies will not stop until Christ returns to earth to reign.

“Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true.” 3 John 1:12.

Here we have Demetrius, “he who does good is of God” in contrast to Diotrephes, “but he who does evil has not seen God [unsaved]” 3 John 1:11.

In all likelihood Demetrius who, “has a good testimony from all”, was also an evangelist or traveling teacher, who carried this letter to Gaius.

This would explain the sudden mention of him. It was not uncommon for these men to have letters of introduction from other churches, identifying them as men who were trustworthy in their exposition of Scripture, thus lessening the possibility of a false prophet misleading the members of the church.

“I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. Peace to you. Our friends [Christians] greet you. Greet the friends by name.” 3 John 1:13-14.

Ever-present Evil, 3 John 1:1-14 taken from godisrevealed.com posted on 3-27-12, updated on 8-11-18.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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