This short, personal letter from the apostle John to a man named Gaius (a very common name then) opens a window into the life of a first century local church. Gaius may have been a convert of John’s (v. 4).
The primary reason John wrote Gaius was because of a significant problem in Gaius’s church. Diotrephes dominated church life, making himself prominent and forcing his agenda. He would push anyone out of the church who opposed him. Though John wrote and sent messengers to help with the situation, Diotrephes accused John of terrible things.
John thus encouraged Gaius three ways. First, Gaius lives a life characterized by Christian truth, a great joy to John (vv. 2-4). Second, Gaius welcomed and supported traveling Christian ministers (vv. 5-8). Third, Gaius should continue doing what is right despite the difficulties Diotrephes caused (vv. 8-11).
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- Genuine Christianity is characterized by a life conforming to God’s truth (vv. 3, 11). The standard is always the mind of Christ, given and revealed in the Scriptures. Christians align their lives with the Scriptures, imitating and doing good.
- Church workers are supported and sustained by churches (vv. 7-8). This is done by regular church giving. Bake sales, bingo games, rummage sales, and soliciting funds from unbelievers should not be done. Christians who thus support those who go out for the sake of the name (v. 7) are fellow workers for the truth (v. 8).
- Beware of those in churches who are like Diotrephes! They are self-centered, self-promoting, unrepentant, slanderous, unwelcoming of Christian laborers, and exclusionary. Such must be Scripturally dealt with and not allowed to dictate Christian testimony and activity.