3 John 1–8 (NKJV)
John opens his third letter with a greeting to a different audience, namely Gaius. This letter is the only one of John’s to identify his intended audience specifically by name. This is similar to the personal letter of Paul to Philemon.
1 The Elder,
To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:
2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.3 John 1-4
The letter opens with a greeting that is somewhat typical of secular correspondence, offering the “from” and “to” identifications, but not the normal Christian greeting of grace and peace. John identifies himself as “The Elder,” which is translated in other versions as “presbyter.” He writes to his beloved friend, Gaius, expressing deep personal love. He then offers a prayer for Gaius, that “you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” This blessing includes a promise that is tied to a condition. John sees the prosperity of an individual as being tied to that person’s spiritual health and prosperity. To have the things you need, and some of the things you want, make sure that your soul is right with God and that you are walking with Him daily and rightly. John follows up with a statement that he rejoiced over their commitment to truth and righteousness. To him, there is no greater joy than knowing that his children, his disciples, walk in truth.
5 Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, 6 who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, 7 because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. 8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.3 John 5-8
John moves on to commend the Christians associated with Gaius. They are kind and supportive toward the brethren and strangers among them. They are so active in blessing and caring for others that they are witnessed of before the church. This sending people forth with blessings is considered doing well, or fulfilling the purpose of God. John makes it clear that when people are in need that come into our circle of influence, that we should bless them and care for their needs because it is right. It is further to be applauded because that caring may bring the needy into the body of Christ and encourage them to become fellow workers of the truth. This is God’s will and His purpose, that we do the ministry of God through care and benevolence, and that we evangelize the lost in so doing. Charity is not just for charity’s sake, but is also a means whereby people can experience the love of God in a practical and real way. When people see that love, they are drawn to His presence and saved. Be a light to those captured in the darkness of sin and poverty. In so doing, we will win souls and transform lives. Be the arms of Jesus to your community and those seeds sown will result in a harvest of precious souls.