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7/9/12 V. 1, John is the elder. It’s obvious from his letters that his relationship to those he writes to is deep. In this case he is writing to a particular friend of his whom we know nothing about.
V. 2, He greets Gaius with a traditional greeting of good health and prosperity and adds to it a wish for the prosperity of his psuche, his soul or spiritual life as well.
V. 3, Some people had been to see John who had given him a favorable report about Gaius. He had been faithful in walking in the truth as it is in Jesus.
V. 4, John is overjoyed to hear such things about those so dear to him.
V. 5, When strangers from other churches would come to where Gaius lived he would go out of his way welcome them and show them hospitality.
V. 6, Those who received his hospitality carried with them the reports of his loving service and John commends Gaius for doing this work.
V. 7, The particular people Gaius had cared for were, evidently, evangelists, who were traveling to share the gospel. They were missionaries living by the grace of God through the generosity of other believers, since they could expect no help from the pagans.
V. 8, It is especially important, then, to are for such missionaries working to spread the message of truth.
V. 9, It seems that John had written another letter to the church previously but the church leader by the name of Diotrephes apparently wouldn’t cooperate. Maybe he didn’t read the letter or allow it to be read or something. John puts his finger on the problem. Diotrephes had an ego problem that was threatened by John and others.
V. 10, So John intended to deal with the situation when he arrived. He would call attention who what was apparently not being seen by the other church members. The fact was, though, that Diotrephes was gossiping about John and those associated with him. Neither would he help any of the missionaries who would pass through and refused to allow other church member to help them either. Gaius must have gone against Diotrephes in order to do what he had done, which may have been why John was specially writing to commend him. He risked being put out of the church by Diotrephes in doing what he had done.
V. 11, John confirms Gaius in his path, that he should continue to do the right thing by avoiding evil and holding to good because good comes from God. Those who do good had God living in them, while those who do evil haven’t seen God. They don’t know who God is.
V. 12, We don’t know who Demetrius is either. Perhaps he was the one who carried John’s letter. John wanted to Gaius to know that he could trust Demetrius. His reputation was good with everyone and was consistent with the truth. The truth requires certain character traits, which Demetrius exhibited. And John’s personal recommendation came with him as well. If Gaius trusted John then he could trust Demetrius.
V. 13, This is a short letter again just to hold Gaius over until John could come in person.
V. 14, As far as I know we have no idea who John wrote to or whether he got to see them, but that was his plan anyway.
This brings to a close this devotional study. Find devotional commentaries on other books of the Bible at www.scoggins.biz. Also find information about my book on Revelation.
7/8/12 V. 7, This short letter has two primary points. The first one in the first part was to obey God by loving each other. The second part is a warning against those who were teaching contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Many deceivers who are anti-Christ were going about, John warns. They do not acknowledge that Jesus Christ the Son of God had come in the flesh.
V. 8, If we reject the gospel teachings we are in danger of losing all that we worked for. Losing what we worked for spiritually is possible. We still have free will. But we will lose our reward.
V. 9, Those who begin teaching things other than the gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t have God living in them. Whoever continues in that gospel have both Father and Son.
V. 10, Anyone coming with anti-Christ teachings we are not to welcome him into our hospitality. They are, as Jesus stated, wolves in sheep’s clothing.
V. 11, To welcome such a person is to become an accessory to his wicked work. We treat no one in an unkind manner, but we do nothing to support what he is doing.
V. 12, John quickly ends his letter because he intends to speak to them face to face. Meeting together brings our joy to completeness.
V. 13, The children of your chosen sister are the members of another church.
7/7/12 V. 1, The elder is John himself. He was obviously well known enough that he didn’t even need to use his own name. And it may have been for the sake of secrecy given the persecution of Christians at the time. That would be the reason for the enigmatic greeting as well. Who was the chosen lady. Some believe it was an individual, as the Roman authorities who may have had occasion to read the letter would have thought. But the Christians of that time had their own code using symbols in which they could speak of religious things without being caught.
When one studies Revelation and the OT prophets the chosen or elect lady is clearly a reference to God’s people, which would have been the Christian church in John’s day. John was writing to a group of believers, the children of the woman.
John loved these church believers as did everyone who believed the unpopular truth.
V. 2, The truth, which is truth itself but could also serve as code for Jesus Christ, lived in the members of the body, as John was so fond of pointing out in all of his writings.
V. 3, John was a representative of God, so as such he brought greetings and blessing from God to his people. Grace, mercy, peace from the Father and the Son.
V. 4, John finds much joy in the fact that the members of the body, or at least many of them, are living in relationship with Jesus as the Father has commanded everyone to do.
V. 5, And without further ado he launches into his favorite topic: Jesus’ command to love each other. The command isn’t new. Indeed it has been around since the beginning. God is love and love has always been the foundation of God’s government.
V. 6, And how do we love each other? Easy. By obeying the things Jesus commanded us. When we do the things of love we actually do love. The Sermon on the Mount is jammed with specifics on how we love each other the way God intends.
7/6/12 V. 19, Even though Satan is in control of the entire planet, he cannot harm us because we are God’s children and under God’s protection. All we need to do live in relationship to him, which has been the point of this entire letter.
V. 20, Jesus came to earth and in so doing he showed us the way to live in relationship with God. God is the one Truth in the universe. He is the one reality. All else is derived from that reality. And we have the incredible privilege of being in such close relationship with this one Truth that we are in him and he in us. In such close relationship we are, in some way, a part of God himself, which is why the psalmist was able to say, “You are gods…”
V. 21, John’s parting words to keep yourselves from idols can appear at first glance to be out of place, but it’s really not. To live in close relationship to God it to give him the place of God in our lives. To keep ones self from idols is to guard against allowing anything or anyone else to occupy the place that only God is supposed to occupy.
To summarize the entire letter in a sentence we could say, live in close, intimate relationship with God and obey him by loving each other.
7/5/12 V. 16-17, This can feel like an abrupt change in topic, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. John has been talking about keeping God’s commands and loving each other and when we do this we can ask God for anything and receive it. One of the things we are to ask God for is the lives of others. Intercession.
If one loves his brother and sees him commit a sin he should intercede for him in prayer and God will give him life. This is illustrated in the way that Moses prayed and Aaron burned incense and stood between the living and the dead. It’s also illustrated by the way Jesus prayed for Simon when Satan wanted to sift him as wheat.
One idea of these verses, though, is a little harder to understand. John says we are to pray for those whose sins do not lead to death and not those sins that do lead to death.
Many commentators cite the Jewish thinking that sinning by mistake is a different thing than sinning in rebellion. The sins that do not lead to death are those sins that are merely mistakes and can be atoned for. Sins of rebellion, however, could not be atoned for. That explanation doesn’t seem air tight, though, because we can cite example of rebellion that responded to intercession. One of those instances was when Aaron stood between the living and the dead. All the people were in rebellion but those still living when the plague stopped were forgiven presumably.
Another interesting example that supports this is when Achan stole the silver and garments from Jericho. After their defeat at Ai Joshua and the elders of Israel lay on their faces before the ark and God asked them why and told them to get up. Israel had sinned and transgressed the covenant. The sin was still active. It hadn’t been confessed or repented. It was ongoing. No sin can be forgiven while it’s still in it’s active state.
Another explanation would be to differentiate acts of sin from the disease of sin. Acts of sin can be forgiven and overcome whereas the disease of sin cannot be cured before all sin is forever destroyed by Jesus’ second coming. It’s no use to pray against the disease of sin since we will bear that burden for life, but we should definitely pray to overcome the acts of sin because we can grow in that area. That is the next verse.
V. 18, We must stop participating in the acts of sin even though we still have the disease. And we are able to overcome through Jesus. He protects us from Satan who tempts us to continue to participate in acts of sin.
It seems to make a good deal of sense, then, to understand the sin that leads to death as ongoing, unrepentant rebellion, which is the disease of sin in an active stage. In other words, the unpardonable sin. The sin that does not lead to death is sin that is in process of being overcome, sin that is being fought, sin that is a result of weakness and mistakes but the sinner desires to be free.
7/4/12 V. 10, We have, based on the testimony of God, the best evidence possible to believe and obey the Son. When we believe we accept this testimony, but when we don’t believe we are, in effect, calling God a liar.
V. 11-12, The testimony that God gives, in a nutshell, is that he has given me eternal life and I receive that eternal life through Jesus, his Son. If I don’t accept Jesus I don’t accept eternal life. If I do accept Jesus I accept eternal life.
V. 13, John is writing all of this so that we will believe in Jesus and have faith (assurance) that we have eternal life. We are not to live in fear wondering whether or not we will be saved. If we believe in Jesus to the degree that we listen and obey his commands then we can know that we have eternal life. To believe as a fact that Jesus was a historical person or even that he is God but not to the degree that that fact causes us to do what he says to do is really not to believe in him at all for believing carries with it the idea of living according to the belief.
V. 14, When we believe to the degree that we listen and obey then we may have confidence when we approach God. Not only are we confident of having eternal life but we are also confident in the requests me make of him. When we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
The question many people ask, though, is how does one know if we are praying according to God’s will. The fact is, though, that when we are living in obedience that’s not a question we will ask. We easily discern those requests that are within God’s will. If we are not sure if a particular request is within God’s will we approach it tentatively and are ready and willing to accept from God an answer of no.
V. 15, This promise is so sure that it’s phrased in the past tense. If we ask we have received what we asked for. And we must treat it that way. We must believe that we have received what we have asked for. That doesn’t always mean we recognize the answer right away. But we are confident in the God we have come to know. He withholds no good thing from his children.