“The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth” (3 John 1). It is not enough to talk about love. We must “love in the truth.” Why did John keep repeating this expression? It’s similar to how Mr. Armstrong kept repeating the truth about the two trees time and time again. Why? Because the people simply weren’t getting it!
Many deceivers and antichrists were and are talking about love continually. This is the approach of most false ministers. Like Satan, they come as angels of light.
Love in the truth means love spelled out in God’s Word, the Bible. Satan has a counterfeit love that is lawless. He attacks any government that would dare teach God’s law of love.
Prosper and Be in Health
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth [or, you prosper spiritually]” (3 John 2). First John mentioned Gaius—a man who was very dedicated to God’s Work (perhaps not even a minister). Then he talked about prosperity and health.These are two areas where God’s people are tested very heavily. God tests all of us with a lack of prosperity and health. So we must not condemn people who are being tested in these areas. But apart from that, John is saying that the way to have maximum health and prosperity is to give your life to this Work! That’s what Gaius did. We must realize that there is often a lack of prosperity and a lack of health because we haven’t learned to put God’s Work first as we should.
God wishesabove allthat we prosper and be in health, as we prosper spiritually! God wants to bless us in these areas! If you want the ultimate prosperity and the ultimate health, this is your best opportunity to receive these blessings: Give your life to this Work as Gaius did!
There have been several times when I have been unwell, and I had to get something done for the Work. I’d just go do it, feeling confident that it was what God wanted. Almost every time, my health improved.
Why did God discuss health and prosperity in this context? Because everyone wants health and prosperity. You will get the most of those two blessings if you prosper spiritually, the way Gaius did.
God truly is passionate about His Work! Christ said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34). God’s Work was Christ’s life—and still is!
If you want to help God’s Work with all your being, do you think that, as a general rule, God would take away your prosperity and health? Or will He say, Bless that individual, because I know he will put my Work first with his energy and his money! We have to think about this the way God does. He does everything with great passion. If you want to use your prosperity and health for God’s Work, you are going to have more prosperity and health! That doesn’t mean you will always be prosperous and healthy, but you will have more of those blessings.
If your life is filled with bad health and little or no prosperity, then you should closely examine yourself for sin. God wishes “above all” that we prosper and be in health. Of course, we should be examining ourselves for sin all the time.
Like Christ, our first priority must be to invest our health and prosperity in God’s Work.
A Positive Example
“For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth” (3 John 3). In all three of John’s epistles, which were written during the worst crisis he had ever faced, John speaks about his joy. Real joy! We do have a lot to rejoice about! Look at what God is doing for this Work! Look at the steady flow of revelation. Look at the dedication of God’s people that makes it possible to proclaim that revelation. We are witnessing miracles that God is performing through His people!
But don’t think there won’t be opposition. While God wants to give us full joy, Satan wants to take it away and make us as miserable as he is! The devil is doing a tremendous job of making this world miserable—getting people addicted to evils that are sapping all their joy.
God is telling you, Rejoice with me, and I will give you full joy and afull reward! If people don’t want that, it is their choice; God won’t force anything on them. But you can be sure that, like any good parent, He will do all He can to help straighten out any of His children who are hurting themselves. He wants to give us full joy.
John rejoiced when he heard people testify about Gaius walking in the truth. Gaius didn’t just talk about doing good deeds—he walked in the truth! He didn’t just talk about love. He expressed his love in deeds.
John used this inspiring example to show people how to prosper and be in health. Gaius was a marvelous example for them to follow. His whole life revolved around God’s Work. How wonderful such an example is to God’s Church. It is the most effective way to teach God’s truth. This is how we achieve a full reward.
Like Gaius, if you walk in the truth, you will passionately serve God’s Work.
Why was John emphasizing this so much?
In verse 10, we read how Diotrephes was doing exactly the opposite—turning people from the truth.
So John began this epistle talking about an example who turned people toGod and to righteousness. John was sad that more people didn’t follow such a wonderful example; there should have been many more who did. Nevertheless, John rejoiced because Gaius sacrificed his life for the Work—and he looked to Christ and the elder.
There is nothing in Scripture that indicates Gaius was a minister. He was probably a lay member, helping John do the Work in any way he could. Anyone John would send, Gaius would help. And other people would return to John and tell him what a great work Gaius was doing—how Gaius served them. Gaius couldn’t hide his good works. None of us should be parading our goodness before anyone, but if you do good works, people are often going to know—especially those you serve!
Do your works impress God? If so, great things will happen in your life!
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (verse 4). John talked with the depth of God the Father! His greatest joy was that his “children walk in truth.” Those are words right out of the mind of our loving Father.
What depth of love John had!
John, this great man of God, rejoiced when he heard about Gaius. If you want to give joy to your minister, this is how: Like Gaius, walk in the truth; do whatever you can to further God’s Work. When I see God’s people getting out and serving, or when that news gets back to me, I am so thankful to God! Some areas of the Work would simply break down if not for people such as that!
John opened his three epistles by discussing joy. He was in the midst of probably the worst crisis he had ever faced. But God’s joy is always there for those who walk in the truth. John knew how to rejoice in his trials. God’s people should always have real joy.
Do you have full joy?
Move the Work Forward
“Beloved, thou doest faithfully …” (3 John 5). Beloved—John used this word so often in these epistles. He really did love the people. But most of God’s people thought that John did not love them.
“Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have borne witness of thy charity [love] before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well” (verses 5‑6). The subject is Gaius, and what he and others like him were doing. People bore witness of their agape, or God’s love. How precious it is to God when He sees a family or an individual doing all they can to support His Work.
In verse 6, “if thou bring forward” should read “having sent forward.” These people saw ministers who were supporting the elder and did all they could to send them forward to serve God’s Work even more. I’m sure they fed them and gave whatever offerings necessary to help these men on their way. “After a godly sort” really means “worthy of God.” We all need to give service worthy of God.
If we all keep this attitude, the Philadelphia Church of God cannot die! Those areas in the pcg that have leaders like this are flourishing! These people take it upon themselves to lead and to help build the Family of God. That is truly walking in love.
We are being tested and tried to prove the quality of our love. Are we doing everything we can to move this Work forward? When I study John’s epistles, I realize I need to get more depth out of the Bible to strengthen God’s Work! It takes real effort to understand this kind of love!
Is our effort of a “godly sort,” or worthy of God? Do we do the Work in a way that God would approve? This is a beautiful expression and a profound concept. This is how God separates Laodiceans from the very elect. We must sacrifice for God’s Work as Christ did.
That work may be supporting God’s television program, publishing books, booklets and magazines, or any number of other projects. If we are the ones who “sent forward” God’s leaders to do the Work, our reward will be beyond our imagination.
If the Work dies, the Church dies! Doing God’s Work is what keeps true Christians alive! The Laodiceans have no open door because they stopped doing God’s Work (Revelation 3:7-20). That is why they are dying spiritually! (2 Thessalonians 2:10).
Help keep God’s Work alive and it keeps you alive spiritually! This is why you have been called today—out of season. Our spiritual lives revolve around moving the Work forward.
“Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles” (3 John 7). Here were ministers who were so gentle with the prospective members, they didn’t even ask them for their tithes, which God commands us to give. They didn’t think of their own needs first. They treated those people like fragile flowers to help save them for God.
Gaius and other members saw what those ministers were doing and said, I want to give my life to that. I want to move the Work forward! What would have happened if they hadn’t stepped in and provided for those ministers, to keep them moving? The Work would have been stagnant at best.
What was these people’s motive? They did it for “his name’s sake”—for God. They knew and loved God. That is why they did His Work. They followed the apostles’ examples, “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name” (Acts 5:41).
Do you think God wouldn’t prosper someone who thinks like that?
‘Fellowhelpers to the Truth’
“We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth” (3 John 8). John canonized their good deeds in Scripture for all time! This book is addressed to “the wellbeloved Gaius.” How many people have a book of the Bible addressed to them—let alone someone who probably was not a minister? God’s feelings about Gaius are recorded for all to see. God had this canonized so we would see how valuable it is for someone to support the Work. God sees what His saints are doing! He shows them how pleased He is by prospering them and giving them health and other blessings.
This epistle is a huge monument to all the scattered brethren who areserving the work!God wants us to know that He sees it all. God is aware of our deeds. How would He know to give us a full reward if He didn’t know all about our good works? He wouldn’t know who to reward and who to punish. Our Father knows what His children are doing!
1 Corinthians 3:9 says “we are labourers together with God.” What an honor! If you realize what we are doing, who wouldn’t want to participate? Gaius said, I justwant to labor with God! This is God’s Work! I want to be a part of that! He was loyal when most of God’s people were falling away, and in the midst of a treacherous time. God says He will give such a person a full reward.
The word receive in 3 John 8 is translated support in the Revised Standard Version. I think that is a better word. You could receive some of God’s laborers into your house but rebuke them for doing God’s Work. What we should always do is support them.
This is one of the most beautifully instructive examples in all the Bible, and it is for us today. Ezekiel spoke of the royal sons of Zadok (e.g. Ezekiel 44:15), people who are always loyal to the throne of David, regardless of the shocks and traumas. Even apostasy doesn’t faze them because they know they are laborers with God! No other work in the world remotely compares with it!
Mr. Armstrong said, “I have always noticed that those whose hearts—and their pocketbooks as well—are really in the Work of God are the ones who remain spiritual, close to God, and who are growing spiritually. And, without exception, every single member of God’s Church who has ever lost interest in this Work of God—this work of carrying the gospel to the world … begins to fall backward spiritually. Soon such people go off into false doctrines. Their understanding is closed. They begin to believe errors and lies. They become more and more bitter, unhappy, and they either go back into the world or they go into some false offshoot movement which bears no fruit and fails totally to carry out the commission of Christ—the Work of God!” (Good News, March 1960).
In another article he wrote, “But some of those in the Church today will grow weary with well-doing. They will brag about being the true Church—thinking they are spiritually rich, when they are, in fact, almost spiritually destitute. Because they are indifferent to the real Work of God, lukewarm, lacking in zeal, Christ will spew them out of His mouth. They cannot be used in His Work! They shall lose the very salvation they boast of having unless they repent! God help you never to drift into the Laodicean Church!” (Good News, January 1960).
John faced similar problems and drew the same conclusions.
“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not” (3 John 9).
Here is an example diametrically opposite that of Gaius. Diotrephes was a minister, a regional director. The Greek here shows that “he loves to be first.” Gaius loved to do anything he could to help the men who were serving John. Gaius put God’s servants and Work first.Diotrephes justlovedto put HIMSELF first! When everything was falling apart in God’s Church, he loved to be first! That attitude consumed him. And he probably lost his eternal life. He was eaten alive by vanity and that vulgar desire to be number one. And all Gaius wanted to do was labor with God.
As Diotrephes descended into the gutter, Gaius was exalted to the top.
“Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church” (verse 10). The Anchor Bible Dictionary says this about Diotrephes (emphasis mine): He “rejected the authority of the elder who wrote 3 John, attacked the elder in public, forbade anyone to receive the elder’s emissaries, and excluded all who did”—just the opposite of Gaius!
Interestingly, the name Diotrephes means “nourished by Zeus.” Does that give you a clue about what was happening to this man? He was just like a man in God’s end-time Church. And most people today think this man of sin has so much love! They think he sets a marvelous example of love because he talks about it all the time!—as he butchers God’s law of love.
Diotrephes was a type of the end-time antichrist. His big problem wasn’t in rejecting doctrine. He lusted for power. His big problem was that he wanted the top office! That is exactly what Satan’s problem was! This evil man operates in the spirit of Satan. He may have been possessed by the devil.
John said he would set things straight “if” he came. This indicates John could have been in prison. In the midst of such a severe Church crisis, it would surely have taken something like being in prison to keep John away!
This “prating” that John describes is prophecy for what people will say about me and the pcg ministers. In this last hour we will see a lot of slanderous charges made against us. “Malicious words” in the Greek means full of labor and pain and working mischief. People inspired by the devil are laboring to destroy God’s Work.
Do you think Diotrephes thought his wretched example might get canonized in God’s Bible for all time? What a tragedy when a minister goes bad.
At times, God gets very specific. God was naming some names—good and bad. Never forget the example of Gaius—and Diotrephes.