3 John

Structure:

The structure of 3 John is similar to the structure of 2 John. The author is the same: the elder, whom we believe to be the same writer of the Gospel of John and 1 John. 3 John is written to the beloved Gaius. Unfortunately the name Gaius was a very common name in the first century. We see a number of different people named Gaius in the New Testament.

We read about one Gaius in the riot that took place in Ephesus. “So the city was filled with confusion; and they rushed all together into the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s traveling companions” (Acts 19:29). Acts 20:4 tells us that one of Paul’s companions was Gaius of Derbe, which may or may not be the same Gaius that was attacked in the riot of Ephesus. We also read about Gaius who was a Christian in the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 1:14. Romans 16:23 also speaks about Gaius who is a host to Paul. He may or may not be the same Gaius as any of the previous names we have looked at. The point being that we cannot know if the Gaius referred to in 3 John is the same as any of these other men listed in the New Testament or not.

The salutation is missing from this letter, which is interesting. There is no known reason why the salutation is missing, but it is a curiosity. Rather, John goes right into his thanksgiving in verses 2-4. Verse 2 is a very challenging prayer. John prays that Gaius may prosper in all things, including his physical health, just as his soul prospers. I do not know that many people would want this prayer made on their behalf. Would you like your life to prosper just as your spiritual life prospers? Would you like your physical health to be as good as your spiritual health? I think that most people would say no. Most people probably have better physical health than spiritual health. More people are prospering in the physical but are not prospering in the spiritual. This is a powerful prayer which makes a grand statement about the spiritual health and faithfulness of Gaius. The prayer seems to indicate that Gaius’ health was not great and it was John’s prayer that his health and prosperity would match his spiritual health. Verses 3-4 describe the joy John has knowing that Gaius is doing so well walking in the truth.

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