This is a personal letter from the Apostle John to a beloved friend named Gaius, who was very active in helping the brethren, and in showing hospitality to strangers, particularly the Lord's servants who traveled from place to place, preaching the gospel.


(Verses 1 through 4) "The elder unto the well beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth."


As in his second epistle, John refers to himself only as "the elder." He addresses this letter to "the well beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth." Since they are both lovers of the truth, which is Christ Jesus our Lord, their love is in the Lord. Oddly enough the apostle's wish for Gaius is for his bodily and material welfare instead of his spiritual well being. In fact, he uses the well being of Gaius' soul as the measure to which he desires his prosperity and health to be raised. This may signify that Gaius has been sick; but it is evident that he is doing well spiritually. Apparently in a recent visit to the apostle some of the brethren who are well acquainted with Gaius, have given a glowing report of his faithfulness and good works, for John says that this report caused him to rejoice greatly. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth," may indicate such a relation between John and Gaius as that between Paul and Timothy, or it may be that by reason of his age and his long service to the churches in this area that he feels a father's love for all the Christians here.


(Verses 5 through 8) "Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: because that for His name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow-helpers to the truth."


The apostle compliments Gaius on his faithfulness in every thing that he does for the brethren, members of the local church, and strangers, those who travel from place to place, preaching the gospel of our Lord. These brethren and strangers have testified before the church concerning his charity, or love. John says that it is well that he be thus hospitable and generous to such, for it is for His [Christ's] name's sake that they have gone forth on this work. And they are taking nothing from the Gentiles [pagans or heathen], that is, they are not supported by them, nor do they have fellowship with them. They are serving the Lord, not heathen deities. "We therefore ought to receive such," show hospitality to them. In so doing, we are fellow-helpers to the truth, as we help those who are sent of God to preach it.


(Verses 9 and 10) "I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church."


It is a sad state of affairs, when a church gets so under the rule of a dictator that he can say who can, and who cannot visit the church. But such seems to be the case with the one in which Diotrephes held sway, and such has been the case many times since, and in many places. John says that if he visits that church, he will remember the deeds of Diotrephes, and the inference is that Diotrephes will regret his high-handed ways. This is apparently the same church as that in which Gaius is a member, for the apostle does not give the name, but only speaks of it as "the church," and, possibly, Diotrephes' refusal to receive him may be the cause of the apostle's letter to Gaius.


(Verses 11 and 12) "Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. Demetrius hath a good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true."


This seems to be primarily a caution not to follow Diotrephes, although it is also good instruction even when there is no Diotrephes around. "Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good." As he has said in his other epistles, "He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God". He is now through with Diotrephes, and turns to a more pleasant subject. There is a man named Demetrius, whom he recommends to Gaius as one who "hath a good report of all men, and of the truth itself." He then gives his own testimony for him, thus: "Yea, and we also bear him record; and ye know that our record is true," thus leaving no doubt as to the character of Demetrius.


Now John brings this letter to a close, thus: "I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee. But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name."



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