Ecclesiastes Podcast

3 John 1:2

This brief letter of John was apparently written and sent in haste to counter the actions and teaching of Diotrephes. John had much more to say, but wrote that he planned to visit the recipient of his letter, Gaius, and would address in person the other topics he had in mind. Nevertheless, the actions of Diotrephes apparently required an urgent and immediate response.

Diotrephes was a self-serving leader who appears to have been creating a division in the church. He was not a servant leader, but was rather seeking to elevate himself above the other leaders. Further, he was forbidding the members of the church to be hospitable to traveling ministers who were ministering in the name of Jesus.

John confronts Diotrephes, while being careful not to make any of the same missteps. John does not appeal to his superior authority, but rather invites the local church to make their own decision based on the facts, the testimony of reliable people, and the truth of God.

John expresses his love for the church and his hope that it will thrive.

John here pivots from greeting Gaius to speaking to the members of the church. This is likely because the church met at the home of Gaius, and it would be presumed that the letter would be read by Gaius to those assembling in his home. John addresses those assembled in the church as beloved. John often spoke of love, even calling himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:7). John’s primary purpose in this letter is to call out the false teaching and bad leadership of Diotrephes. Why would John make such a public accusation, which would be certain to create conflict? Because this flock is beloved, and John is willing to suffer discomfort in order to seek their benefit. Love does not seek its own comfort, but rather the best interest of others. Diotrephes’ actions are greatly detrimental to the church’s well-being, therefore John seeks to counter him and protect those whom he loves. The Bible consistently admonishes believers to resist false teachers.

John’s initial statement to the believers is I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. This indicates that John has current knowledge of the church members, since he states affirmatively that their soul prospers. The Greek word translated soul is “psuche.” About half the time it is translated “life.” In context, here “psuche” likely refers to their spiritual vitality, since John’s prayer is that in addition to their spiritual well-being, the believers of the church at Gaius’ house will also prosper and be in good health. The word translated prosper is used elsewhere to refer to favorable circumstances. So, John prays that in addition to spiritual vitality, which cannot be overcome by events, the believers in the church with Gaius will also experience favorable circumstances, in this case good health in addition to prosperity.

Biblical Text

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