The Word This Week

3 John 1...

The last recorded written words of the apostle John are again a personal letter, this time to a man named Gaius, who is a beloved friend and brother in Christ of John.

We have no idea how their relationship began or developed, but we can tell from these words John has a great fondness for Gaius, who is facing difficulties which apparently had become common in the early Church.

In the first century Church, which were probably mostly house churches meeting in benefactor's homes, there was a severe lack of people with enough Biblical background to teach Bible studies to the attendants. This would have been especially true in the Gentile regions where there were no people of Jewish background who had been raised reading the Word of God or familiar with its content from being taught from childhood.

In the Gentile regions, the members of the various bodies of Christ had come from paganism, atheism, and/or the worship of the false gods established in the Greco-Roman empire. The need for Biblical teaching was met by traveling evangelists and pastors. There was a great need for itinerant preachers who could read the Word of God to the people and explain its meaning.

Today, we call these people missionaries. In those days, Paul was one of those. Apollos was another. In this letter we read of a faithful man named Demetrius, who was one of the traveling preachers called to meet the need existing in the Church in those days.

Since there were no motels, but only terribly inhospitable and despicable inns in those days, it was very valuable for the early Church to welcome these itinerant preachers with a place to stay and food to eat in their own homes. (This was especially important in the Middle East, where hospitality is one of the highest cultural virtues.)

We read in this letter John’s concern that this particular church was rejecting hospitality to the faithful visiting preachers come to teach them – Demetrius being a case in point – but also the apostle John and his writings. This was very upsetting to John.

For the survival of the Church in those days it was imperative each local body of Christ be welcoming and supportive of the faithful men who were placing their lives on the line to bring them understanding of the Word of God as they traveled through the ancient world.

This idea of being as welcoming as we can be of those faithful men God has sent to bring instruction in His Word is still vital today, and it blesses and empowers His Church to not only be welcoming with material means, but also sending them on as well – until the whole world hears!

Pastor Bill