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Introduction to 3 John


Summary of the Book of 3 John

This summary of the book of 3 John provides information about the title, author(s), date of writing, chronology, theme, theology, outline, a brief overview, and the chapters of the Book of 3 John.


The author is John the apostle. In the first verses of both 2 John and 3 John the author identifies himself as "the elder." Note other similarities: "love in the truth" (v. 1 of both letters), "walking in the truth" (v. 4 of both letters) and the similar conclusions. See Introductions to 1 John and the Gospel of John: Author.


The letter was probably written about the same time as 1 and 2 John (a.d. 85-95). See Introduction to 1 John: Date.

Occasion and Purpose

See Introduction to 2 John: Occasion and Purpose. Itinerant teachers sent out by John were rejected in one of the churches in the province of Asia by a dictatorial leader, Diotrephes, who even excommunicated members who showed hospitality to John's messengers. John wrote this letter to commend Gaius for supporting the teachers and, indirectly, to warn Diotrephes.


I.           Greetings (1-2)

  1. Commendation of Gaius (3-8)
  2. Condemnation of Diotrephes (9-10)
  3. Exhortation to Gaius (11)
  4. Example of Demetrius (12)
  5. Conclusion, Benediction and Final Greetings (13-14)

──New International Version


Introduction to 3 John

This epistle is addressed to a converted Gentile. The scope is to commend his stedfastness in the faith, and his hospitality, especially to the ministers of Christ.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on 3 John

3 John General Review
1. It is not unusual for people to wonder...
   a. What was the early church like?
   b. We know a lot about its early leaders, such as apostles Paul and
      Peter; but what about the average Christians themselves?
   c. Were they more spiritual than Christians today?  Did they 
      experience the kind of problems seen so often in churches today?
2. Several books of the New Testament reflect the life of the early 
   church, and this is especially true of the Third Epistle of John
   a. It is a private letter, between the apostle John and a Christian
      named Gaius
   b. It provides portraits of three different men, and in so doing 
      gives us a glimpse of 1st century life in local churches
3. When one examines the portraits found in this letter, we learn that
   there is not much difference between people back then, and in the 
   church today
4. Therefore this epistle is very relevant, though we may live 1900 
   years later.  In this lesson, we shall...
   a. Consider some background material concerning the epistle
   b. Notice the difference between the three men described in the 
   c. Summarize with some lessons that can be gleaned from this book
[Let's begin with some...]
      1. As with 2 John, the "elder" is believed by most conservative
         scholars to be the apostle John
      2. The INTERNAL evidence...
         a. The three epistles of John utilize much the same language
            and ideas
         b. All bear similarity to concepts and language to the Gospel
            of John
         c. The term "elder" would be a fitting description of John as
            the author, writing in his old age
      3. The EXTERNAL evidence is slight, but Dionysius of Alexandria,
         living in the third century A.D., credits John with being the
      1. Gaius was a common Roman name, and appears five times in the
         New Testament - Ac 19:29; 20:4; Ro 16:23; 1 Co 1:14; 3 Jn 1
      2. Whether he is one of those mentioned by Luke or Paul cannot be
      3. He is evidently a dear friend of John, and known for his 
         hospitality (more below)
      1. Ephesus is usually suggested as the location from which John
         wrote this epistle, as he was known to live there in the later
         years of his life
      2. Estimation of the date of writing varies widely, some placing
         it before the destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.), most however
         placing it around 90-95 A.D.
      1. To confirm that Gaius did right in supporting those teachers
         who came his way, encouraging him to continue this hospitality
         - 3 Jn 5-8
      2. To express his condemnation of Diotrephes for rejecting John
         and others whom he should had received - 3 Jn 9-10
      3. To encourage Gaius to imitate what is good, commending 
         Demetrius as a good example - 3 Jn 11-12
      1. Greetings, with an expression of great joy (1-4)
      2. The confirmation of Gaius (5-8)
      3. The condemnation of Diotrephes (9-10)
      4. The commendation of Demetrius (11-12)
      4. Concluding remarks (13-14)
      1. Both letters focus on the words "love" and "truth" - 2 Jn 1;
         3 Jn 1
      2. But notice this difference:
         a. In 2nd John, love is enjoined, but there is a warning 
            against tolerating those who denied the truth
         b. In 3rd John, love is praised, and there is commendation for
            supporting those who proclaimed the truth
      3. Another comparison:
         a. 2nd John condemns the departure from the truth which is 
            known as "heresy"
         b. 3rd John condemns the lack of love among Christians which
            results in "schism"
      -- (These comparisons are from Charles R. Erdman's commentary)
[With this brief background to the epistle, let's take a closer look 


--《Executable Outlines