This brief letter was written by John shortly after his other two letters, between c.86 and 88AD. He refers to himself once again as ‘the elder’ and uses similar phrases to describe the believers (compare, for example, 3 John 1:1 & 2 John 1:1, or 3 John 1:4 & 2 John 1:4). The letter was written to Gaius, a church leader in one of the churches of Asia Minor.
In this letter, John praises Gaius for welcoming John’s messengers, and condemns Diotrephes – another leader, who has rejected the itinerant teachers sent by John.
An early Christian baptistry
amongst the Roman shops
at Sardis - one of the churches
John wrote to in Asia Minor
John commends Gaius and rebukes Diotrephes
3 John 1:1-4 John sends personal greetings to Gaius and commends him for welcoming the ‘Christian brothers’ sent by John to teach the truth.
3 John 1:5-8 He praises Gaius for assisting the itinerant preachers sent out by John from the ‘mother church’ in Ephesus.
3 John 1:9-11 John rebukes Diotrephes for refusing to pay any attention to what John has written to the church in an earlier letter – perhaps John’s First Letter.
Diotrephes has even tried to drive those who have welcomed John’s messengers out of the church. John promises to come and expose Diotrephes and his lies.
3 John 1:12 On the other hand, John supports Demetrius, who is sticking to the truth.
3 John 1:13-15 John says he hopes to see Gaius soon. He closes by sending greetings from Gaius’s friends in the ‘mother church’ at Ephesus.