Good Guys Are God’s Guys

3 John

Copyright © 2005 Jeremy Myers


  I.  Greeting to Gaius (1-3)

 II. Great Gladness (4)

III. Giving Guidelines (5-8)

IV. Good Guys Are God’s Guys (9-12)

 V. Goodbye Greetings (13-14)



Who should you support in ministry? Who should you give money to? Who should you pray for? Who should you allow to come speak in your church? If you were to move to a different city and pick another church to attend, how would you decide which church to pick?


For me, there are two primary things I look for. For any church, ministry or person I support financially and prayerfully, I make sure that first and foremost, they accurately teach how a person can receive eternal life. There is so much false teaching and confusion out there today, that it just doesn’t make sense to support anybody or any ministry that is unclear on how to receive eternal life.


And you know, being in this church, that the only way to receive eternal life is to believe in Jesus Christ for it. Faith alone in Christ alone. But there are many churches and organizations and pastors and teachers who add some sort of works into their message. I do not and would not support ministries such as that.


Another thing I look for is expository preaching. Preaching that is book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse. This is not just a preference of mine. I believe it can be proven from the Bible that this is the way God wants His Word to be taught, and the way it has most often been taught throughout history – even by Jesus Himself.


So those are two things I look for in churches and ministries I support.


As we come to study the short little letter of 3 John, we see a few other things to look for in a ministry that you choose to support, and we see a few things to look for which will send up red flags. If you see these red flags in a person, in a church, in a pastor, or in a ministry, avoid them at all cost. But most important of all in 3 John, we see why we must be careful about choosing which ministries to support.


So 3 John gives us some insights on what to look for in a ministry – both positive and negative – so that we can make an informed decision about whether to support that ministry through service, through prayer, or through giving. And 3 John will tell us why it important to scrutinize a ministry before we support it.


Third John is the third letter of John the Apostle. He also wrote the Gospel of John, and the book of Revelation, but 1, 2 and 3 John are his three epistles. And there is an easy way to remember what each of the three are about.


In the Greek New Testament, the three letters are not separated by numbers, as they are in English, but with the first three letters of the Greek alphabet – A, B, and G. Gamma (G), of course, is equivalent to our letter “g” but it is the third letter in the Greek alphabet. So 1 John is A John, 2 John is B John, and 3 John is G John.


First John, or A John, has the key word “abide.” The word is found in A John almost twenty times. So A John is about Abiding. Through abiding, we remain in fellowship with God, with Jesus Christ, with the truth, and with one another. Abiding is the key idea in A John.


B John has one main idea as well, which we learned last week from Mark Malott. He showed us that B John is about one things – “Don’t support the Bad Guys.” There were false teachers coming on the scene, Gnostic heresies were beginning to be taught, and John did not want these false teachers to be accepted in the church, or welcomed into the homes of people in the church. This doesn’t mean, as we saw last week, that we turn away from and refuse fellowship with non-Christians. No, what it means is that we do not accept, support, fund, welcome, encourage or validate false teaching or false teachers. B John: Don’t Support the Bad Guys.


That brings us to G John, our text for this morning. The theme of G John is “Do Support the Good Guys.” B John: Don’t Support the Bad Guys. G John: Do Support the Good Guys. John tells us how to which ministries and people to support, and why it is important to only support these. Let’s see how John develops this, beginning in verses 1-3 with the Greeting to Gaius.


  I.  Greeting to Gaius (1-3)


1The Elder, To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:


John, The Elder, is writing to a man named Gaius, whom, John says, he loves in the truth. Who was Gaius?


There are several references in the New Testament to men named Gaius (Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4-5; 1 Cor 1:14; Rom 16:23), and it is very difficult to tell whether all these references refer to the same man, or to several different men. And even if we could tell, it would be harder still to link any of these references to this Gaius in 3 John 1.


So the only thing we can really know for sure about this Gaius, and who he was, is from what John writes about him in this short letter. And we see from verses 2-8 that whoever he was, there was much to love about Gaius.


2Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.


The word prosper often refers to making money, and being successful in life, and so if that is how John means it here, he prays that Gaius would be healthy and wealthy. That sounds like a prayer request we would all want someone to pray for us. But notice he prays that Gaius would be healthy and wealthy just as his soul prospers.


John prays that Gaius would be just as physically healthy as he is spiritually healthy. That’s a dangerous prayer – especially if you are spiritually sick. If John prayed that you would be just as healthy physically as you are spiritually, would your health increase or decrease? Some of us might find ourselves on life support.


But notice that John only prays this for Gaius, because of the character that Gaius already has. John prays these things for Gaius because John knows that Gaius is already healthy in his soul, and John knows that someone like that can be trusted with physical health and worldly riches.


One of the worst things you can do for someone who is spiritually immature is pray for them to get rich and healthy. Health and wealth generally cause us to draw away from God rather than draw closer to Him. But if somebody is already close to God, as Gaius was, then they view health and wealth as tools to further the work of the kingdom of God. Our goal in life should be to have a prosperous soul – not necessarily a big bank account or to be in tip-top shape.[1]


And that’s the kind of man Gaius was. We know it from what John says about him in verse 2, but we see it in much more detail in verses 3-8. From verse 3, a prosperous soul, a healthy soul, is one that first and foremost walks in the truth. 


3For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth.


Someone came from the church where Gaius ministered and reported to John that Gaius lived by and walked in the truth. Gaius was strong and healthy in his soul because the truth was in him and he walked in the truth. John knows that Gaius’ soul prospered because Gaius walked in the truth.


So what does this look like?


Since the truth is the Scriptures (Psa 119:160; John 17:17), someone who has a prosperous soul is someone who not only knows Scripture, but is obedient to it. He knows God’s Word and he obeys God’s Word.


If you are not in the Word, reading the Word, studying the Word, and obeying the Word, there is no way you can be walking in the truth. It doesn’t matter how spiritual your life looks, or how much activity you are involved in at church, or how loud you sing, or how much you pray – if you are not in the word and obeying the Word, you are not walking in the truth.


Walking in the truth is so vitally important, look at what John says about it in verse 4.  


 II. Great Gladness (4)


4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.


What brings you joy in life? Time with your family? Success at work? Vacation? Watching your football team win a tough game? All of these thing give me joy, but look at what gives John great gladness – that his children walk in the truth.


He does not refer so much to his physical children—we do not even know if John had any children of his own. He is referring to his spiritual children—those who believed in Jesus under his teaching, and whom he discipled and trained.


Gaius apparently was one of those, and John is absolutely thrilled to hear that Gaius continues to live according to the truth. This reveals the pastoral heart of John. All pastors who labor at preaching and teaching the Word of God long for nothing more than that the people who hear the teaching of the Word, obey it, and continue to obey it, even if he is no longer with them.


Those of you who teach the Word of God to your children—whether they are your physical or spiritual children—know that there is no great joy than to see them continue to walk in the Word day by day in their lives. And conversely, there is no greater sorrow than to see someone walk away from the Word after you have poured your time and energy into them to teach them what God’s will for their life is.


Now what exactly what Gaius doing that gave John such great gladness?  Gaius was giving generously to a specific group of people. And it is here we get to the heart of this short letter. John is thrilled to hear that Gaius is walking in the truth, as he is thrilled whenever he hears of his children walking in the truth.


But in verses 5-8, we see one of the practical ways a person can walk in the truth, and how Gaius himself practiced the truth.


III. Giving Guidelines (5-8)


5Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers,


First of all, Gaius was faithful toward everyone – whether brethren or strangers. Gaius prayed and provided for Christians he knew and Christians he didn’t know. Gaius helped people within his own fellowship of believers, and when strangers, when traveling Christians or missionaries came into town, Gaius would provide for them as well.


And it is they 6who have borne witness of your love before the church.


This doesn’t necessarily mean that Gaius was praised in his own church, but that when these traveling Christians, or missionaries, went back to their own home church, they testified there of the warm reception they had received from Gaius.


In the rest of verse 6, we see John encourage Gaius to not only receive and welcome these missionaries, but also to send them on their journey with generosity. John writes,


If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well,


John encourages Gaius to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. How does God send us on our journey through life? With much generosity, and holding nothing back from what we need. He gives us everything we need for life and Godliness (2 Pet 1:3), and He holds nothing back from those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. Freely we have received; freely we should give.


This is the way Gaius gave. He recognized that all he had came from God, and so he gave to others the same way he had so generously received from God. But it is in verses 7-8 that we see some giving guidelines that John reminds Gaius of. There are two principles in these two verses which explain who should be supported, and why we should be careful about who we support. Verse 7 explains who should be supported.


7because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles.


Gaius supported people who went forth for His name’s sake, that is, for the cause of Christ. Support should be given – whether financial or prayerful – only to those who want to spread the name of Christ.


There are many in Christianity who are more concerned about making their name great, then about making known the name of Christ. They may do all they do in the name of Christ, but when you look at what they do, and how they do it, it soon becomes clear they are more concerned with building their own little empire, than about furthering the kingdom of God.


How do you know if someone is working for themselves or for Christ?  There will be several clues given in verses 9-11, but John gives the first clue here in verse 7. He says that those who go forth for the name of Christ, take nothing from the Gentiles.


Now remember, there were both Jews and Gentiles in the church by this time, but in the church, God had taken the two, and made them one (Gal 3:28; Eph 2:11-22). So when John refers to Gentiles here, he does not at all mean Gentile Christians in contrast to Jewish Christians. What he means is that they took nothing from the world with them.


Those whom Gaius supported are those who are not supported by worldly means, nor do they go about ministry with worldly methods. This does not mean they don’t have jobs. They may very well have secular jobs. But when they go about doing ministry, they use the principles and provision of God, through the Holy Spirit (cf. Ezra 8:22).


They do not seek the counsel of the world for how to have the most impact. They do not ask the pagan Gentile neighbor about what kind of Gospel they would find attractive, or what kind of church they would attend. They do not perform a survey on what kind of preaching they would like to hear.


No, those whom Gaius should support are those who perform God’s ministry, in God’s ways, using what God has provided by Jesus Christ, in the Word, and through the Holy Spirit.


I think there are many missionaries, and churches, and pastors today that have lots of money coming in, lots of people following them, but because their ministries are founded on worldly principles, while they may be successful here in this world, when they stand before Christ in heaven, they will not hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


What kind of ministry should we support? The one that takes nothing from the Gentiles, from the world, but receives all of their instructions and guidelines from God as recorded within the Word. And verse 8 tells us why.


 8We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.


Did you know that when you support a missionary or a pastor or a ministry, you are taking part in what that ministry accomplishes or fails to accomplish?


A lot of companies today are moving toward a method of motivation called profit sharing. The idea is that if the company succeeds, all those who work for the company or who have invested in the company, receive benefits—like an increase in wage, or stock options or simply a bonus check.


But this is what God has always been doing in His kingdom. John writes that when we support a ministry, a church, a pastor, or a missionary, whether we support them through prayer, or giving, or volunteering to help out where needed, we become fellow workers for the truth.


You may not be able to go overseas. You may not be able to get up and preach a sermon. You may not be able to write books and articles. But if can support those who do, and if they are working for God, rather than to further their own name, you share in their work for the truth. It is as if you are alongside them doing what they do, going where they go, teaching what they teach.


That is why it is so important to know who you are supporting, whether you support them in prayer or finances, so that you make sure you are supporting the right people for the right reasons. G John: Do support the good guys.


Now, in the rest of this short letter, John provides two examples to Gaius of what he is talking about. He talks about two men, both of whom are probably Christians, but one acts out of self interest, while the other looks to the interests of others. And it is the second, the good guy, who is of God, so he is the one who should be supported. We’ll see that in verse 11, but the main point of verses 9-12 is that good guys are God’s guys.


VI. Good Guys Are God’s Guys (9-12)


9I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us.


From the way John writes about Diotrephes, it appears he had some sort of authority in the church. Possibly, he was an elder, or even the teaching elder, which we would call the pastor.


And apparently, John wrote a letter to the church, and Diotrephes would not allow it to be read in the church or by the members of the church. When John writes that Diotrephes did not receive us, he means that Diotrephes did not receive the letter, or the messenger or missionary who was carrying the letter.


Now we don’t know which letter John has in mind here. Possibly it was 1 John, or maybe even 2 John, both of which were possibly circular letters, going from church to church to be read, or maybe it was some letter we no longer have written specifically to this church that Diotrephes ministered in. But whatever letter it was, Diotrephes would not receive it. He stamped “Return to Sender” on it, and put it back in the mail.


Why would he refuse a letter from the Apostle John? Because, as verse 9 indicates, he loves to have the preeminence. He wants the recognition. He wants the authority. He wants the praise. He wants people to be amazed at his teaching. He wants people to come to him alone for insights and instruction about the Word. He does not want the Christians under his care to be going to other teachers for instruction—not even if it is the Apostle John, who learned from Jesus Christ!


I find this amazing, but I think it explains a lot of what is going on today in so many churches. Part of the problem is that they have gone to the world for advice and wisdom, as we learned from verse 7, but the main problem is that the majority of churches and ministries today are patterned after Diotrephes.  They do not want to hear or receive the Word of God as written by the Prophets and Apostles. Why? Because they want preeminence. They want their words to be heard; not God’s Word. They want their ideas to be spread; not God’s ideas.


There are lots of churches who say they are founded on the Word. There are lots of churches who have “Bible” as their middle name. There are lots of churches who have doctrinal statements that say they believe in the supremacy and authority of the Word of God. But in practice, they deny the Bible it’s rightful place, and substitute music, or drama, or sharing of testimonies, or concerts, or humorous homilies, all designed to bring glory to the church, rather than glory to cause of Christ.


Be very wary of any church or ministry that does not allow the Word of God to be faithfully and systematically taught. That is an indication of a ministry you should not support. Verse 10 has another one.


10Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words.


The downfall of Diotrephes is even more evident here!  He not only refused to accept the letters and messengers that John sends, but he actually speaks against John with malicious words. He is lying about John and saying things about John’s writings that are not true.


And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.


Church discipline is necessary, but sometimes, what is called church discipline is actually someone in power trying to maintain their power against those who disagree with them. That is what was going on here with Diotrephes. He was in power. John writes a letter which Diotrephes would not receive, nor would Diotrephes allow anyone else in the church to receive it.


And not only that, Diotrephes forbade the members of the church to welcome those who carried the letter into their homes. Diotrephes was refusing both the message and the messenger.


But apparently, some in the church welcomed the messengers anyway. And what happened? Diotrephes put them out of the church. He did not want anybody to question his authority, or go against his desires, and anybody who did, was summarily dismissed from the assembly.


Possibly, Gaius was one of those put out of the church, and so Gaius went and started his own house church. It’s difficult to know for sure, but if what John writes about Gaius is true, that he welcomes and supports others from outside who come to the church, and Diotrephes excommunicates anybody who receives such brethren, then it is very possible that Gaius is one of those kicked out of the church.


But John urges Gaius to keep on doing what he is doing, even though it draws the ire of Diotrephes. This is what we see in verse 11.


11Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.


Gaius is not to imitate what is evil, but what is good.  In other words, Gaius is not to follow the evil example of Diotrephes, but is to continue doing what he knows is right, and verse 12 will have an example of someone who does good. 


But notice the second half of verse 11. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God. There are many who understand this verse to mean that if someone is sinning, or is living in sin, or consistently has a pattern of sin in their lives, then that person is not a Christian.


But that is not what John is teaching. In John’s day, a heresy called Gnosticism was developing, and one of their main tenants was that to be truly spiritual, you needed a special blessing, a special insight, a special knowledge of God. And when you received such knowledge, you gained truth which others did not have. And sometimes, the Gnostics said, what seemed like sin to others, was not in fact sin for those with the special knowledge.


John is teaching against that here. He says that those who sin don’t sin because of some special insight into the character and nature of God they have received. John says that such people have not seen God. In other words, they don’t really know God. They may be Christians, but they have some serious defects in their theology. Sin is never a result of gaining special insight or knowledge of God. It is possible that Diotrephes was claiming such knowledge, and that is why he refused the letters and messengers of John.


John is teaching something very similar to what he wrote in 1 John 3:4-9 where John teaches that when we sin, it has nothing whatsoever to do with Christ now residing in us, but rather is a result of the flesh, the old man, and it’s inclination to rebel against God and follow the way of Satan.


It is amazing how many people try to justify their sin by saying that God told them to do it because God wants them to be happy. I have talked with couples who had terrible marriages, and they were convinced that God wanted them to get divorced. My wife and I once counseled a young woman who was certain that God wanted her to marry a non-Christian man.


Whenever we sin, it is never because God wants us to, or is giving us some special license to sin which nobody else has.


Demetrius, in verse 12, is held up as a good example for Gaius to follow.


12Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true.


It is likely that Demetrius was the one carrying this letter of John to Gaius. And we see in verse 12, that Demetrius and a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself, and also from John. That is a threefold testimony that Demetrius is going about the Lord’s work, and Gaius should welcome him and provide for him, even if Diotrephes has forbidden it. We must please God, rather than men.


Verses 11 and 12 are the primary reasons John has written this short letter. He is sending a traveling missionary Demetrius to spread the good news of eternal life by faith in Christ, and to make disciples of those who believe, and he is afraid that when Demetrius arrives in the church that Diotrephes leads, Demetrius will be turned away.


John wants to make sure that this does not happen. Demetrius must be accepted and must be welcomed, just as all who serve God in truth must be provided and prayed for.


Verses 13 and 14 close out the letter with a goodbye greeting.


  V. Goodbye Greetings (13-14)


13I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; 14but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.


John shows that he has much more he could write to Gaius, but would rather speak them to Gaius personally. And John hopes he will come to see Gaius, to speak with him face to face. Of course, if John comes, he will also Diotrephes, as we learned in verse 10.


That is what G John is about: Who to support, and how to support them, and why we should support them. It is interesting to compare and contrast 2 and 3 John.


“Second John was written to a godly woman about her family, while 3 John was written to a godly man about his church. John warned ‘the elect lady’ about false teachers from the outside, and he warned Gaius about dictatorial leaders inside the fellowship. The false teachers in 2 John would appeal to love so that they might deny the truth, while Diotrephes would appeal to truth as, in a most unloving way, he would attack the brethren.”[2]


So who do you support? Hopefully, this church is your primary area of prayerful and financial support. And as part of that, you need to support your pastor and elders – unless they are like Diotrephes – which Mark Carr is not. Pray for them to make careful and wise decisions. Praise them when they make choices to bring you the Word of God, and provide you with sound teaching and doctrine.


And by the way, did you know that October was pastor’s appreciation month? I hope that all of you showed your appreciation to Pastor Mark in some way. Send him a card. Buy him a book. Give him a gift certificate so he can take his wife out for dinner. Do something for her as well—pastoring can be very hard on pastor’s wives.


I was a pastor for five years, and I will tell you that although we know that ultimately our praise must come from God, pastoring is hard work, and it is very nice to receive encouragement from time to time from the people in our church. October is over tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until next year to show your pastor you appreciate him. If G John is about supporting good guys, your pastor is one good guy you should support.


But aside from your church, your pastor and your elders, are there any other people and missionaries and ministries you support, either prayerfully or financially? If so, do you know what those ministries believe about the Gospel? You better give them a call and find out. Do you know how those ministries go about doing what they do? You better learn. Do you know whether they are building for God or building for themselves? Pray to God for discernment.


We must make sure that whatever ministries and missionaries we support, they walk in the truth of the Gospel and the Word of God, that they are not seeking their own preeminence, and that they have a good testimony from all. If we support ministries lacking in these areas, we are wasting our time and resources. Be careful to support the good guys.


[1] Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary, 1723.

[2] Wiersbe, 546.