III John: 9-13 Seeking What Is Good.
John indicates that he had previously written to the church that Gaius had some association with. It could be that he was referring to one or both of his other letters, since it was common practice to have them circulated, especially those that found their way into the canon of Scripture (v. 9a). Diotrephes may have been one of the false teachers that John had opposed. In any case, John makes quite clear that this man was self-seeking. Not only did he refuse to receive John and his colleagues and friends, but he openly prated against them, which means he prated against apostolic truth (vv. 9b-10 Cf. Prov. 10:8-10).
Again, John addresses his audience as ‘beloved’, and he warns them not to imitate this evil, but to imitate what is good. Just as he who loves is of God, even so they who do good are also of God, who is good (v. 11 Cf. Pss. 34:14; 37:27; I Th. 5:15; I Jn. 2:29; 3:10). That which is good is that which is true. On the other hand, Demetrius was one who had a good testimony, and this was an important thing to have, especially from “the truth itself” (v. 12a). With this testimony John bore witness that this testimony was true (v. 12b). These letters were important and necessary, but John ultimately wanted to meet face to face, and so he concludes by sending peace and greetings from their shared friends to the friends with Gaius, by name.
III John: 5-8 Supporting The Ministry.
John commends Gaius for putting into practice the command to love one another and one’s neighbour (v. 5), to which the recipients bore witness (v. 6a). Apparently his love found expression in his giving support to those travelling through his midst, “in a manner worthy of God” (v. 6b). Gaius did this because he wanted to support those who “went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles” (v. 7). By Gentiles John is referring to those outside the faith, because by this time the church was made up of both believing Jews and Gentiles (Cf. I Cor. 9:12, 15). “The obligation to welcome and encourage those who proclaim the true gospel from place to place, and the joy that comes from this, stand in contrast to the need to avoid those who proclaim a false gospel (I John 4:1-3; 2 John 10, 11)” (NGSB pp. 1997-8). “We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth” (v. 8 Cf. Mt. 10:40; Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:2; I Pet. 4:9).
III John: 1-4 Prospering In The Truth.
Once again John, who could have addressed his friend Gaius as an Apostle, chooses to refer to himself as the Elder. There was no flattery here in his address. He loved his friend with agape love, and it was true or sincere (v. 1 Cf. II Jn. 1). Those with Gaius were also beloved. In his first letter, John emphasized the necessity of praying according to God’s will. Therefore, it is very interesting to have him tell us what it was that he was praying about for the beloved. Of first importance, he prayed that their souls would prosper. The word ‘euodoutai’ translated here as ‘prosper,’ is used only here and a variation at Romans 1:10. The ESV translates this as “be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”
Strong’s uses other expressions like, “succeed in reaching, to help on the road.” It very clearly is a progressive action. It is not an instantaneous thing. Christ has purchased for us everything we need, but there is a progression in how this happens in each of our lives. We are not yet perfect, but it is God’s will, and must be our prayer, that the people of God make good progress to this end. John’s prayer is also not strictly “spiritual” only. He also prays that all things, including the health of the beloved, may also prosper, or make good progress (v. 2). However, what he specifically rejoiced in learning, was that they were all walking in the truth (v. 3). How we prosper depends on what we believe.
We can only prosper if we believe and walk in the truth. What we believe must be lived, and how we live reflects on what we believe. Walking in the truth is a command we have from the Father (II Jn. 4). John also shows us an example to follow, not just in our own believing and walking in the truth, and prospering in this, but in having no greater joy than to learn that our fellow believers are also making good progress in doctrine and life. His beloved were his children, those whom he had ministered to in the faith. Paul had the same attitude (I Th. 2:19-20). Paul was a Father to many, even as John was the Elder (I Cor. 4:15). Ministers ought to be personally invested in the lives of those they serve.