Sermon Study Guide

 

 

I’m So Happy, Here’s the Reason Why

3 John (Lesson 22) - June 13, 2021 - Pastor Alan Cousins

 

Text:  3 John 1-8, NASB 

 

Introduction:  While 3 John is addressed to a particular man named Gaius, like the rest of John’s epistles it was also meant to be read to the Ephesian congregation, then be passed along to the other churches in the region of Anatolia.

We don’t know exactly who Gaius was. There were many speculations about his identity in the days of the Early Church, because Gaius was a very common name in the Greco-Roman world.

What we do know is that he was probably a leader, maybe even the pastor of the Ephesian congregation during at least part of John’s banishment. 

Second John was written to warn Christians not to show hospitality to false teachers; while 3 John was written to encourage Christians to show genuine hospitality to true Christian missionaries and evangelists.  

 

Outlining the Passage:

 

(1)  The salutation or greeting (vs. 1-2). John speaks to the significance of spiritual health.

 

(2)  Celebratory words of encouragement (vs. 3-4). John joyfully praises the balance of belief, love, doctrine, and practice in the life of the church, and in particular, its leader Gaius.

 

(3)  A commendation for Christ-like behavior  (vs. 5-8). John notes his appreciation for Gaius’ hospitality, and encourages him and the church to continue showing this hospitality to missionaries and the Lord’s servants who visit the church.

 

I.    THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SPIRITUAL HEALTH (3 Jn. 1-2)

 

Why does John simply  identify himself as “the elder”?

  •   Was he drawing attention to his age?
  •   Was it to identify his seniority?
  •   Was it because of his own respect for the office of an elder?
  •   Was it a way to protect the safety of the church?

 

What We Know About Gaius:

  1.   It appears that missionaries who visited the city and church stayed in Gaius’ home.
  2.   He was probably the pastor of the church, or at least one of its leaders because John spoke to him  concerning a man who was spreading dissension in the church.
  3.   John refers to him as: “Beloved Gaius.”
  4.   I believe John is implying that Gaius was loved by all his brothers and sisters in the church family. He even makes it clear later on that the missionaries who were the recipients of Gaius’ hospitality loved him.
  5.   For all these reasons we can tell that Gaius was a person of reputable Christian character and responsible leadership in the Ephesian congregation.

 

We should all desire to be as spiritually healthy as Gaius was, so we can give the same kind of encouragement as he did to others.

Because these two verses are often used as a proof-text, let me define some terms: The “health and wealth gospel” (aka: prosperity theology) purports that God not only wants your soul’s salvation, but He also wants you to be healthy and wealthy.

We must constantly assess our spiritual condition because if we are spiritually unhealthy, then it may be that God cannot bless us physically and materially either.

Because God knows us so well, He also knows what will help us grow spiritually or cause us to drift further away from Him. Rest assured that God is always going to do what He knows is best for us.

John is not saying that every Christian is going to be fabulously wealthy, deliriously prosperous, and unendingly healthy.

 

II.   PRAISE FOR THE BALANCE OF BELIEF, LOVE, DOCTRINE & PRACTICE IN THE CHURCH (3 Jn. 3-4,6a)

 

John is reminding us of the joy we ought to have when we see our fellow Christians walking in the truth and love.

By the phrase “walking in truth” John means that Gaius was doctrinally sound in the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

According to verse 6a, John was delighted that Gaius was demonstrating his belief in the Word of God by his real, tangible Christian love.

 

III.  A COMMENDATION FOR THE CORPORATE & PERSONAL MINISTRY OF HOSPITALITY (3 Jn. 5-8)

 

John commends Gaius for the hospitality he was showing especially to Christian workers and missionaries.

 

Three Reasons to Support Missions:

1)   “Because of the Name” (v. 7). These missionaries had left their world behind for one reason -- to spread the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

2)    “Accepting nothing from the Gentiles” (v. 7). It is incumbent upon those of us who are already believers to support missions and evangelism to those who are not believers.  

        3)   “So that we may prove to be fellow workers with the truth” (v. 9). We should support

              evangelist and missionaries because when we do our prayers, financial support, and gifts

              enable us to be a  part of their ministry.

 

Conclusion:  Do we have the vision to support our missionaries with hospitality, provision, and encouragement?

 

The gospel is the source of a missions-minded heart and mentality; the ultimate goal of which is to reach the lost, establish churches, and exalt the Lord Jesus Christ.