Summary: Christians are taught to love one another. However, what is it that causes us to love one another? How shall we love? John gives us a glimpse of the love we are to have in this brief letter to a man named Gaius.
“The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
“Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.
“I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.
“Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.
“I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink.”
We meet Gaius only one time in Scripture, and that is here in the brief book we know as Third John. The book, if it can be called a book, is actually a personal letter to this man. In this letter, the author encourages Gaius to continue doing what he has been doing to advance the Kingdom of God. Likely, Gaius pastored a congregation, perhaps in the Roman province of Asia. He distinguished himself through faithful service to the One who appointed him to his charge, and John, occupying a position of respect among the believers, was aware of his service.
The aged Apostle uses an arresting phrase when addressing Gaius. He says Gaius is loved in truth: “The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.” This is a theological statement affirming the orthodoxy of Gaius. “Truth” is the Elder’s way of pointing out theological orthodoxy, theological orthopraxy and Christian love in the face of challenges mounted by others, even among the churches.
TRUTH AS WITNESSED IN ORTHODOXY — Every religion claims to be orthodox—even those that are identified as cults. Christians often seem ready, even eager, to cast aspersions on fellow believers who do not agree with them. Let me say quite frankly that we will not ever agree fully on every doctrine that is presented. This should not be surprising since after all, the revelation of God draws us to explore One who is infinite. Thus, the truths revealed through His Word are far greater than we could dare imagine with our limited understanding and with the finite abilities we possess.
Orthodoxy speaks of “right doctrine.” We can always find something about which we disagree with fellow Christians. I heard of a businessman who was driving home from work when he saw a man perched on the side of a bridge. It was obvious that this man was preparing to jump from the span into the dark waters below. Moved with compassion for the poor soul prepared to take his life, this businessman stopped his car, got out and crawled over the railing and stepped onto the bridge span with the man threatening to end it all. Getting close, the businessman tried to strike up a conversation.
“Man, don’t jump,” the businessman started. “Surely you’ve got something worth living for.”
“Life isn’t worth living,” said the dejected man, looking down at the river below. “My wife ran away. My dog died. The bank seized my car. The mortgage company repossessed my house. I was fired from my job. Life just isn’t worth living.”
Well, this was a serious situation, and so the businessman changed his tack. He decided to point the desperate man to God. “You know,” he began, “I’m a Christian, and maybe if you knew God…”
“I’m a Christian,” interjected the jumper with genuine interest in his voice.
“Yeah? What denomination?”
“I’m a Baptist.”
“Wow! I’m a Baptist too! Convention or Independent?”
“Great! So am I. Missionary or Anti-missionary?”
“Okay! Armenian or Calvinist?”
“No kidding! Eschatology?”
The fellow who was trying to help became very excited, and so he asked, “Pre-trib? Post-trib? Or Mid-Trib?”