Saturday, April 25, 2015

To Gaius - 3 John 1-8

"The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth." (3 John 1-8)
This short epistle is a letter between John and his beloved Gaius, John often refers to himself in his letters as "The elder." The Greek word he uses is the same word we render as "Presbyter." However, it seem that John does not use this word in connection with the ecclesiastical office that it has come to represent, but simply in reference to his position of honor as one who has lived long in has walked a lifetime with the Lord. We could just as easily read his opening remarks as, "From John, the old man in Christ" or "From one who has lived his whole life with Christ." Today we hear terms like Elder or Presbyter and we think of authority, but the early church heard them in terms of honor not authority. John was worthy of honor both because of his age and his years with their Lord.

Gaius was a man who prospered in his soul. He lived his life according to the truth. He not only confessed the truth but his actions kept pace with his words. Furthermore, he not only loved God but also loved people and he was quick to help those in need. In loving others, Paul commands us to "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality." (Romans 12:10-13) Hospitality is important to God and Gaius was one who practiced it well, even to strangers. He often cared for those who were passing through in their work for the Gospel and, in so doing, his name was know outside the local church as one who loved and showed hospitality to others. John prays for him that, even as he was prospering in his soul, that he would prosper in his outward man as well. The Greek word for prosper means to "help on the road" and can imply succeeding in business. John was praying that God would help his friend "on the road", both spiritually and physically.

Finally, John encourages us to support those who have gone forth to the work of the Gospel, not taking anything from the gentiles; literally, from the nations; not depending upon the support of those they went to work among. There are many ways we work for the truth of God; some go, some care and show hospitality, and some provide the means, but they all are co-labors with the truth. We must learn to do our part and to do it with our whole heats that all may come to hear of the truth and that the truth may have an impact through the whole world. We must all find our part in the truth.

David Robison

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