Summary: 3 John verse 11 echoes the words of John throughout his writings. We are called by Jesus Christ to leave sin and follow the truth.
This morning our text is 3 John.
Adam Clarke notes that we seldom hear 3 John quoted but in reproof of lordly tyrants, or prating troublesome fellows in the Church. He says that it has been the lot of both the minor prophets and the minor epistles to be generally neglected, because with many readers, bulk is everything.
Today, we complete our study of the writings of John in the New Testament. We have gone through John's gospel, the Revelation, and the letters of John, and now come to this final little post card, as David Proctor called it.
What does God have to tell us from this little New Testament note? We actually call it a book of the New Testament, don't we? Someone told me that the little letters of second and third John each contain just enough writing to fill one side of one piece of papyri. Jude contains enough to fill front and back of one piece of papyri.
We should be careful not to judge its value by its size. Lincoln's Gettysburg address, which has been called the most important presidential address in our history, contains 10 sentences, 3 John contains 10 sentences in the KJV (although it contains17 sentences in the RSV and 23 in the NIV). The Gettysburg address contains 269 words, 3 John contains 294. The Gettysburg address contains 1,192 letters or punctuation characters, 3 John contains 1,318.
Second and third John are the twitters of the New Testament, small in size, but powerful in message.
The key word in both little books is "truth." John takes delight in seeing Christians walking in the truth. The truth John refers to is the gospel of Jesus Christ: who He is, what He taught and what He did for us. Jesus Christ himself is indeed the incarnation of God's truth in this world. By the time of this writing of John, the church has spread far and wide through the Roman empire. It faces troubles from within and without. John warns in his second letter against many false teachers that have gone out into the world. These deceivers are preaching the name Jesus Christ, but not the truth about who he is, what he taught and did for us.
So it is still today that many speak the name of Jesus Christ, who do not faithfully represent who Jesus is or what he said and did. John McArthur, in his book, The Gospel According to Jesus, wrote: (p. 59).
What McArthur is describing is a faulty theology as old as the Bible itself. On the other hand, as we have seen in 1 John, there are certain things we can know, here in 3 John vs. 11, we are again reminded of how to tell the difference between who is and who is not one of God's faithful people. (Read verse 11). That's simply an echo of all John has said in his first letter, is it not?
Let me refresh your memory with a few lines of 1 John:
From chapter 1: 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
From chapter 2: 3We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
9Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.
From chapter 3: 4Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.