3 John Lesson

Role models

3 John was written by the Apostle John, in Ephesus, in A.D. 90, as were 1 John and 2 John. It is a short epistle, comprised of only 15 verses and 333 words.

The overriding theme of John’s third epistle can be found in the following scripture:

“Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.” – 3 John 11.

In his third epistle, John contrasts the character of two vastly different figures:

  1. Gaius, who was good.
  2. Diotrephes, who was bad.

John calls Gaius, “The beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth (3 John 1).” He mentions that he has received good reports about Gaius for, “Acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers (3 John 5).”

By way of contrast, Diotrephes did not receive commendation from John, quite the opposite. Diotrephes was not accepting what John had tried to tell him in previous letters. John calls him out for, “Unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, neither does he himself receive the brethren, and he forbids those who desire to do so, and puts them out of the church (3 John 10).”

John paid attention to the type of people that he associated with and so should we. Paul wrote in his first letter to Corinth:

“Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33.

The people that we associate with influence how we behave. That is why John wrote what he wrote. If we spend our time with people committing sins, there is a good chance that we will find ourselves being tempted to sin more in our own lives. If we surround ourselves with Godly people, there is a far greater chance that we will grow and mature in our faith as we seek to imitate their righteous behaviors.

There are several takeaways from John’s third epistle that we can apply.

The first takeaway is that we need to take a spiritual inventory of the people that we associate with. Are they Godly people, like Gaius, seeking to serve the Lord? Or are they sinners, like Diotrephes, with selfish motives seeking only to serve themselves?

This epistle is a call to action! As we read it, we should become motivated to seek out the Gaius’ in our lives and try to imitate their righteous behavior. Conversely, we also need to recognize the Diotrephes’ in our lives and disassociate ourselves from them before their bad morals corrupt our behavior.

Another takeaway can be found in the influence that Gaius had on John. Gaius was a follower of Christ who lived his life in such a way that others noticed his love for the Lord. How about us? What type of influence do people say that we have on their spiritual lives? What do other people say about our faith?

During His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” – Mathew 5:16.

God wants us to live our lives in such a way that others see our love for the Lord and are brought closer to God because of having known us. Each of us gets only one earthly life, and we all will be judged by God for how we choose to live it.

“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” – Hebrews 9:27.

John’s inspired writing is an encouragement to us to evaluate our lives and make sure that we are putting God first and surrounding ourselves with people doing the same. God has a plan for each of us (Jeremiah 29:11), but His plan will only work if we seek it out.

The final takeaway from today’s lesson is to identify the people in our lives that are only out for themselves and make sure that we are not associated with them, and that we do not imitate their selfish behaviors.

Diotrephes let his pride and selfish desires lead to sin. John’s third epistle serves as a warning to us not to make that same mistake.

We are blessed to have God’s word to encourage us to live lives in accordance with God’s will. If we pay attention to what the scriptures are telling us, we can avoid potential pitfalls in our lives and avoid temptations that cause us to stumble. One of the ways that we do that, is to imitate those that put God first and distance ourselves from those that put themselves ahead of God.


Virtual Bible Study

How can you apply what you have just learned?

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Virtual Bible Study

How can you apply what you have just learned?

Virtual Bible Study

I have friends that regularly do things that I now understand are against God’s will (cursing, drinking too much, pursuing worldly pleasures, etc.).

The more serious I take my faith, the less I keep in touch with them.

I’ll admit, it is somewhat lonely, but it is a sacrifice I make for God.


“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” - John 15:18-19.

Dan W
Virtual Bible Study

The arrogance of Diotrephes is incompatible with service to Christ.

James A Guillory

Always always keep your eyes on Jesus and your walk with him, always to walk with him in a way that pleases him and the closer we walk with Jesus the more and more His character will reflect out of our daily walk and we will be the influence in other people's lives that draw people to Christ!!