Summary: Gaius was a believer who is commended by the Apostle John for two things that all believers should seek to have be true of them.
In the book of Third John, we read a tale of three Christians - Gaius, who John commended; Diotrephes, who John saw as cantankerous; and Demetrius, who John cited as being consistent in His walk with Christ.
John identifies himself here as “the elder,” which is a term that is used interchangeably in the New Testament with “bishop” and “pastor.” The term “pastor” refers to one who shepherds and feeds the flock of God. The word “bishop,” means an overseer or administrator. “Elder” emphasizes the idea of maturity and counsel. It is in the latter context that John writes - to share out of his maturity and offer counsel to Gaius - one who John says he 1oves. So it is that in third John we have the “beloved disciple,” the Apostle John, addressing one of his “beloved disciples,” Gaius. And as John addresses Gaius, he mentions Diotrephes and Demetrius. Let’s note what we are told about each of these men. Today, let’s think about what John has to say about Gaius - a commendable Christian.
1. He was a growing Christian - vs. 1-4
John pronounces a blessing upon Gaius here in association with his greeting. We must be careful not to make too much of this verse, as a say, many so called “health and wealth” preachers do. John isn’t guaranteeing that we’ll be blessed physically and financially if we are growing in Christ. This isn’t a verse that we can go around “claiming” and insisting that God is obligated to make us wealthy and healthy because of our commitment to Jesus.
Rather, John is commending Gaius’ commitment to grow in the Lord by saying something like, “Man Gaius, you are really growing in Christ! If you were being blessed financially or physically half as much as you are growing to be more like Jesus, then think of how healthy and wealthy you would be.” “In fact,” John says, “That is my prayer - that your financial and physical blessing would mirror your spiritual health and spiritual wealth.”
To insist that John is teaching that those who are right with God will be wealthy and healthy is to misunderstand spiritual growth and misrepresent the teaching of Scripture. The fact is, some of the greatest occasions for growth are times of financial and physical difficulty.
For the growing Christian, our primary goal is not to be healthy, as good as that is, or wealthy, as good as that might seem to be.
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” - 1 Timothy 4:8 (NIV)
“. . . men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” - 1 Timothy 6:5-7 (NIV)
Now, Paul isn’t criticizing getting exercise or making money. He is simply saying there is a priority in life for the Christian that should be of greater importance than keeping health or gaining wealth - our goal is godliness - being more like Christ. But how does this happen?