III John
- Regarding Proper Charity And Improper Authority

Clarence Bishop

III John Vs. 1-14


The Second Epistle dealt with improper recipients of the church's benevolence. The "elect lady" was advised very strongly not to receive any of these propagators of error into her house nor give them God's speed at the risk of becoming a party to their evil. This third epistle is still dealing with the benevolence of the church but here false and improper leadership is condemned.

Diotrophes was either the pastor or else an extremely influential member to be able to case someone out of the church as is stated in v.10.

As the church's benevolent practice was a source of trouble for the early church, it continues to be true of this day. God's people should always be careful to be obedient to the Bible no matter what.


When people are willing to walk in truth, that reveals character.

A. There Is A Designated Person - v.1

His name is Gaius. He is well beloved to the apostle John and evidently a convert of John, v.4. John refers to him as one of his children - John's love for Gaius was in the truth - No illicit or abnormal situation is suggested here at all -

B. There Is A Desired Potential - v.2

This is a very natural desire for any father - spiritual or fleshly. John says he desires Gaius to prosper materially and physically along with Gaius' prosperity spiritually - The positive mental attitude folk really abuse this verse claiming that this is God's expressed will for all saved people. In Seminary, we were taught that truth was arrived at when we recognized who the speaker was, what was being spoken and to whom was it spoken. That rule is really necessary here in v.2.

C. There Was Declared Progress - v.3

Now John relates that word has come from the brethren regarding Gaius' walk in and for the truth - Ah, what a thrill a father has over the progress of one of his children! This is no less so when the relationship is spiritual rather than fleshly.

D. There Was Defined Pleasure - v.4

John now places the spiritual progress of his children he faith as being the no. 1 source of his joy. When there is no growth, there is sorrow and one falling away is one of the soul-winner's greatest disappointments.


Even as Second John, the charity or benevolence of the church is of utmost importance.

A. There Is Spiritual Commendation - vs.5-6

The Holy Spirit of God never loses an opportunity to commend a believer when there is something commendable to mention.

1. The work of love - v.5

Notice that this work is done faithfully - It is the work of charity or love that is under discussion and the recipients are the brethren first and strangers second. We must assume that these strangers are brethren from other churches and worthy of help, v.8.

2. The witness of lips - v.6a

These who were recipients are testifying to the love expressed to them by Gaius. John says this witness has been made before the church - so it isn't wrong to point out some good thing done by some worthy believer.

3. The walk of life - v.6b-c

John emphasizes the previous testimony by encouraging Gaius to bring these folk forward on their journey after a godly sort. When the necessities were supplied to cause these people to be able to reach another town, they were being brought forward. This is very typical of our missionary offering.

B. There Is Special Commitment - v.7

Now we see something about those who were being helped. They are those who for His name sake have gone forth with the gospel taking nothing from the Gentiles (or unbelievers), but depending wholly upon the Lord. This is a Bible description of a Bible missionary.

C. There Is Specific Commandment - v.8

We should receive these people and further them on in their way. Then we would be fellow-helpers in their labors, and fellow-recipients of their blessings. King David established the principle "..but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike." I Sam. 30:24.


This church has two elements to contend with - one was selfish and a seeker of authority - the other was generous and a true believer.

A. The Error Of Diotrephes - vs.9-10

Many churches are hindered by the spirit of Diotrephes.

1. The fault revealed - v.9

Here is a man who coveted authority - John's presence, being an apostle would have overshadowed his own authority, so he chose not to have John.

2. The forced registered - v.10a-d

John, as an apostle, still was free to come and was so commissioned by the Lord to deal with sin, John 20:23.

3. The folly recognized - v.10c-h

This man's selfishness and arrogance was very foolish., Sharing with missionaries doesn't lessen our funds, rather it tends to increase them - A truly missionary church never has to worry about its needs being met.

B. The Example Of Demetrius - vs.11-12

Most churches have some who have the spirit of Diotrephes. A church can survive in spite of this if the church likewise has the spirit of Demetrius.

1. The sermon - v.11

Beloved, do not follow the evil example of Diotrephes. In v.11, there is advice given and an acknowledgment made as well - The acknowledgment suggests that Diotrephes is not saved.

2. The servant - v.12

This is a clear testimonial of the man named Demetrius. He has a good report from all men and the truth itself bears this out. John offers his own testimony to the fact, and he declares that "╔ye know our record is true." John's relationship with Gaius was so real that Gaius knew John would make no false statement.


As in the Second Epistle, a choice is made between what could be done and what John desired to do.

Many times over we see where the Holy Spirit allows the personality and the peculiar traits of the human author to be seen in the Word.

A. The Burden - v.13

This represents the unsaid things that remained in John's heart that he did not put on paper - Evidently these things were not necessary to the church today or they would have been written down.

B. The Benefit - v.14a-b

This was to be in a face to face conversation. This was not to be very far off.

C. The Benediction - v.14c-e

Three things -

1. Peace be to thee.

2. Our friends salute thee.

3. Greet the friends by name.

What a wonderful little book!