Free Bible Study Magazine
Introduction – The Life of John the Apostle
The writer of this epistle was John, the apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was one of the twelve disciples for had followed Christ from the beginning of his ministry. It is thought that he had been with John the baptist when he saw Jesus and declared “Look, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” and together with Andrew, began to follow him. They stayed at Jesus’ house that night and from that time on, John became a committed follower and close to Jesus heart. He is described as the disciple whom Jesus loved. At the last supper, he leaned on the breast of Christ and asked who would betray him. He was, with James and Peter, one of the inner three, so called for Jesus often took just these three men with him when he went on some special task or to perform some miracle. John was present on the mount of transfiguration and saw the Lord’s glory. In his gospel he recounts a number of the miracle she saw Jesus perform, including his first miracle at Cana in Galilee. John was present at the cross, where Jesus committed his mother Mary into John’s hands for her old age. He was present at the empty tomb and was the first of the twelve to believe the news of the resurrection, even before he had seen the risen Lord. After Christ ascended to heaven, John joined Peter in gospel ministry, before being exiled or his faith to the island of Patmos where he received the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the last book in our Bible and a prophecy concerning the end of the world. I’m sure that you’ll agree with me that John is well qualified a person to tell us all about Christian Fellowship. To be in fellowship with John would have been to be in good Christian fellowship.
A Glimpse of the fellowship of John and Gaius
We do not know much about the friend John is writing to, except that his name is Gaius. We know that he is a believer, who provides hospitality, and it is possible that it is the same Gaius known to Paul, although Gaius was a very common name in those days. We can learn much about Christian fellowship by observing the fellowship of these two men.
A Unity of Spirit
John five times describes Gaius as the beloved, whom I love in the truth. Here is a unity of spirit. Beloved by God, they love one another, for they had been born again of the same Spirit. The word of God says, those who love the Father will love his child as well. The whole Christian church has been brought into a divinely bestowed/designed unity – we are all one in Christ Jesus. God’s command is that we keep the unity of the Spirit. The means of doing this is love. For it is love which binds us together in perfect unity. Love that covers the multitude of faults, makes allowance in forbearance, forgives so that we might remain, as God intended, one in him. Disunity grieves and vexes the Holy Spirit, but when we dwell together in unity, the Holy Spirit Is able to flow and move and bless our lives. Behold how good. Eph. 4.3
This unity which we have in Christ is something we are to strive or work at. Phil 1.27
It may not be easily bought, but it is well worth the price. The early church are an example of unity. They met together daily. They had all things common, and none of them had need, for if anyone was without, others sold their lands or possessions so that they might meet that need of a brother or sister. They began well. But as time went on, a problem arose. Quite rightly, the believers made a daily provision to feed the widows of their number who had no other means of support. But it had become disorganized, and the charge began to get about that the Hebrew Jews among the widows were getting more than the Greek Jews. Beware these satanically inspired charges. The Bible no where says that this was happening – the problem was it WAS PERCEIVED TO BE HAPPENING and that could have split the church along racial lines. The apostles were given wisdom to handle and diffuse this potentially destructive situation – choose seven men from among yourselves, said Peter, and we shall appoint them to oversee this business. From then on, the problem never arose again. They had a business meeting and the matter was solved by the word of wisdom given to the oversight and by men in the church WILLING to take on the task of feeding the widows.
As we shall see, practical Christian service demonstrates the love and humility of Christ.
Today, the problems that vex the church can be many and varied. They can be as serious as ever. But let us obey the scriptural injunction to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
A Prosperity of Soul
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
(3 John 1:2)
This is characterized by:
A) a love for Christ (and therefor a love for his church).
If we are to prosper in Christ, then we must have love for Christ. To know the love of Christ is to be filled with all God’s fullness (Eph. 3.19) It is a love which nothing can separate us from. What prosperity this is. The shriveled soul has no love for Christ, but the one who is full of Christ’s love will allow this love to flow out of him. Gaius love for Christ was clearly demonstrated in his love for the church, particularly by his ministry of hospitality. He may not have been a preacher himself, but he helped and provided for the evangelists and missionaries as they went about their God given tasks, and so was described as a fellow helper to the truth. Why did he do this, because he loved the Saviour. In as much, said Jesus as you have done it to the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me. To cook a meal for a sick Christian man, or to help with some Christian old lady’s housework might not sound much like Christian ministry to many these days, but if it is done as unto the Lord, because of him, then it is accepted as if we had ministered to him himself. John knew all about this, for he saw in his practical ministry to Mary, looking after her in old age, obedience to the command Christ had given him and the fulfilling of that ministry as unto the Lord.
B) faithfulness to Christ (and therefore to his church)
Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers,
(3 John 1:5)
One of the things which the Lord requires if his followers is faithfulness. This could be described as standing by your post, and doing what has been entrusted you to do. To be faithful means .. If we are faithful to the Lord we will, like Gaius, also be faithful to his church, that is his people. I cannot understand those who talk about church as if it were a building. Oh, I don’t go to that church anymore, they say, I don’t like it. It’s not they don’t like it, it’s that they don’t like us. For we are the church.
C) obedience to Christ (walk in truth). Two cannot walk together unless they are agreed. No lie is of the truth, no stealing, no shady dealings.
The fellowship of John and Gaius was proven genuine because their desire was to meet together for face to face fellowship. When we part from the house of God, may this be our desire, to meet again, and may our fellowship be characterized by all the above characteristics, for Jesus sake. Amen.