What brings you joy? I find great pleasure in listening to live music. Last summer, my wife and I attended a concert by the Emerson String Quartet. They played pieces by Barber, Brahms, and Schubert with precision and passion. My wife and I drank it in with great joy.
What brings a person joy reveals something about them. For the apostle John, his joy was hearing that “my children are walking in the truth” (v. 4). In this third epistle (the shortest book in the New Testament!) John refers to himself simply as “the elder” (v. 1). “Gaius” appears to have been a specific person, probably a pastor or other church leader. As in 2 John, he loved him “in the truth” by which they both lived.
John’s greeting showed concern for both physical and spiritual health (v. 2). Most of all, he rejoiced to hear that Gaius was “walking in the truth,” meaning that he was living, growing, and ministering in faithful love and obedience (vv. 3–4; see 2 John 4). By referring to Gaius as one of “my children,” John might be indicating that he’d been the one to originally lead Gaius to Christ.
The apostle commended Gaius and his congregation for showing hospitality to traveling teachers and missionaries (vv. 5–8). (This was exactly the kind of hospitality he commanded not to be shown to false teachers in 2 John.) Hospitality played a key role in the growth of the early church and can be compared to the way we support missionaries today. John praised it as a practical example of faithfulness (v. 5), love (v. 6), honoring God (v. 6), and working together for the truth (v. 8). For their part, the itinerant teachers and missionaries were motivated by the gospel, God’s glory, and the name of Christ (v. 7).
<< Does your church support missionaries? Our prayers and gifts are an important part of taking the gospel to every person. Today, pray for a missionary you know!
Lord, we pray for missionaries and church leaders, knowing that You hold them to a high standard. Give them strength against temptation, courage to proclaim the truth, and gracious words to speak to others.