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. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.
Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, each by name.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Gaius was walking with Christ and John made no effort to correct Gaius. In fact, John commends Gaius. He commends him for his support of the brothers. These were most likely traveling missionaries. Their mission was not evangelism. Their mission was to combat false teachers. And they accepted nothing from non-Christians.
John used the first person plural. That indicated John, Gaius and all believers in Christ ought to support these efforts. By supporting them, we become participants in their work. Contrast this with 2 John. There John states if we give support to the false teacher, we take part in their evil. John says even it if is the smallest of support.
What Diotrephes was doing, was not doing right. The context indicates Diotrephes did not support the missionaries. And he even accused John of misconduct requesting support for them. John will confront Diotrephes when he comes. John then goes on to say not to imitate evil but to imitate good. This is a clear reference to Diotrephes’ conduct. John calls into question Diotrephes’ faith (whoever does evil has not seen God).
Jesus gave the great commandment in Matthew 28:19-20.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Not everyone has the opportunity to fulfill that command directly. Scripture acknowledges this. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul says we are not all teachers. We do not all have the same gifts. But John lets us know how we can fulfill Christ’s command. We need not be the missionary. We fulfill this command by supporting their ministries. When we support them we take part with them. That is the good news.
But there is bad news too. If we support false teachers even in the smallest manner, we are guilty of their false teaching. (2 John)