Thursday, September 10, 2009

3 John 1-4

V1-4 – 1The elder, to my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 2Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. 3It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

John again starts this letter by calling himself “the elder,” just as he did in 2 John. He’s writing to his “dear friend Gaius,” but we really don’t know anything about this man, except that he was a leader with some significant responsibility. John also says that he loves Gaius “in the truth.” In the words of one commentator, “John is expressing his love to Gaius but he’s noting that the bond, the deep bond they share, is bound in the truth, bound in the gospel, bound in Jesus Christ.”

In v2, John proclaims his prayer for Gaius, and it is truly humbling. John is praying that Gaius would experience physical health and good circumstances to the same degree that he already has spiritual health. In other words, Gaius is so spiritually healthy that John’s prayer is for his physical health to reach that level. Now that doesn’t mean that Gaius was physically struggling. On the contrary, it is quite a compliment to the man’s spiritual well being. I am not worthy of that prayer, for my physical health, which I don’t take for granted, is sadly far better than my spiritual health. I pray that my spiritual health would catch up to my physical health!

On another note, this verse is commonly used in proclaiming the “health and wealth gospel.” But it is misconstrued and taken out of context. Besides noting what we’ve already pointed out about Gaius strong spiritual state, we must also note that this style of greeting – to wish one well – was quite common in the Greco-Roman Empire. One commentator concludes, “John is not saying that every Christian is going to be fabulously wealthy, deliriously prosperous, and unendingly healthy. Those things would indeed be a blessing – were the Lord to give us wealth or health (to use for His glory) – but these are not things that are promised to every believer. The Lord Jesus Christ’s own life bears witness of this. At any rate, John’s point in this passage is to raise the issue of the spiritual health of Gaius, which is described in the following verses. And we too should long to have that kind of spiritual maturity and growth manifested in our lives.”

Next in v3-4, John rightly celebrates with great joy the obedience of Gaius, who is walking in the truth – exhibiting orthodoxy (right doctrine) and orthopraxy (right behavior). John may have been Gaius’ spiritual father, just as Paul was to Timothy. And John has heard from others how faithful Gaius had been to the truth, even about his life of love (v6). One commentator points out, “Doctrine and love are often set against one another in the Christian life. You’ve heard people say, ‘Well, he loves truth more than he loves people.’ Or you’ve heard people say, ‘He cares too much about doctrine and doesn’t show enough love.’ But in Gaius we see a man who loves the truth and he loves people. He loves sound, biblical, apostolic doctrine and he is committed to living out that truth in love in his life. And it causes John’s heart to rejoice. There is this coordination of belief and practice in Gaius that causes John to rejoice. And, again, this is an example to be emulated because Jesus Himself is the One in whose image Gaius is being recreated. And what does John say about Jesus? That He was full of grace and truth. And there is the picture of the complete Christian.”

No comments: