6 things third letter of John teaches us about God and faith


“I have no greater grace than to hear than this, to hear my children are walking in truth.”

3 John 1:4

The Third Letter of John brings us close to the heart of faith, highlighting how our actions reflect our commitment to God.

In his third letter, St. John discusses leadership, kindness, and resolving conflicts, showing us how to support one another in love and truth.

This letter’s teachings are a beacon for anyone looking to deepen their faith and live in a way that draws them closer to God.

Here, we’ll uncover 6 essential lessons that can inspire us to navigate our spiritual journey with grace and conviction. Join us as we explore how these timeless insights apply to our lives today.

Overview of 3 John

The Third Letter of John is one of 7 catholic or universal letters of the New Testament of the Bible, along with the Letters of James, the First and Second Letters of St. Peter, the First and Second Letters of John, and Jude.

These letters are so called because they are addressed to the universal Church in general, and not to a specific community such as, for example, the Philippians. The Third Letter of John is followed by the Book of Jude.

Want to know what makes this particular letter stand out?

Unlike the broader audience of the other universal letters, this one zeroes in on individual relationships within the church.

It delves into the challenges and dynamics of early Christianity, offering a glimpse into how faith was practiced and nurtured among the first believers.

This letter not only continues the themes of love, truth, and hospitality found in John’s other writings but also addresses the practical aspects of supporting and recognizing true leaders within the Christian community.

Who’s the recipient of John’s third letter?

John’s third letter is uniquely addressed to an individual named Gaius.

Unlike most New Testament letters that speak to entire congregations or broader church groups, this one focuses on encouraging and instructing a single person.

Gaius is commended for his faithfulness and his hospitality towards fellow believers, especially those traveling and spreading the gospel.

Main themes of 3 John

1) Truth and love in Christian leadership

The Third Letter of John places a profound emphasis on the concept of “walking in truth.”

But this theme isn’t merely about adhering to doctrinal correctness. It extends to living out one’s faith with integrity and sincerity.

For Gaius, walking in truth means actively showing love and hospitality to fellow believers, even strangers.

This authentic expression of faith is what John celebrates and sees as the cornerstone of a thriving Christian community.

It challenges readers to reflect on their daily lives:

Does our walk match our talk? Are our actions a true reflection of our beliefs?

2) Hospitality as a Christian virtue

Hospitality shines through as a core virtue in the Third Letter of John. John commends Gaius not only for his faithfulness but also for his hospitality towards fellow believers, even strangers.

This practice of welcoming and supporting others is an essential part of living out one’s faith.


Because that way we can see Christ in everyone we meet and extend God’s love through our actions.

The thing is that John praises Gaius for his faithful service to the brethren and strangers, embodying the Christian call to love.

Therefore, this passage beckons us to see hospitality not as an optional extra but as an essential, joy-filled expression of our faith that directly impacts our spiritual leaders and communities.

3) The danger of pride

Have you ever seen pride turn sour?

Well, the Third Letter of John warns us about Diotrephes — a leader who lets pride cloud his judgment.

Instead of welcoming fellow believers, he chooses to exclude them, craving personal recognition over unity.

As you can see, it’s a stark reminder that pride can distort our sense of community and mission.

Imagine a scenario where someone in a community project dismisses others’ ideas to keep the spotlight on themselves.

The result?

A fragmented team and a compromised goal.

Let’s take this as a cautionary tale to check our motives and ensure that our actions build up the community, not just our ego.

4) Supporting fellow believers

“We therefore ought to receive such, that we may be fellow helpers of the truth.”

3 John 1:8

This directive from John underscores the Christian duty to support and uplift fellow believers, especially those who labor in spreading the Gospel.

Simply put, it’s a call to partnership in faith, recognizing that the work of the Kingdom is not a solitary endeavor but a communal effort.

If believers receive those dedicated to preaching the truth, they can participate directly in the mission of the Church.

This emphasis on mutual support is not just about providing for physical needs but also about fostering an environment where spiritual growth can flourish.

It prompts several reflective questions:

  • How do we currently support those in our community who are spreading the Gospel?
  • In what ways can we become more involved in being “fellow helpers of the truth”?

By answering these questions in our lives, we echo the early Christian commitment to fellowship and cooperation, strengthening our communal bonds and advancing the cause of Christ in the world.

5) Choosing good over evil

“Dearly beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doth good, is of God: he that doth evil, hath not seen God.”

3 John 1:11

Let’s admit it: making choices is part of life.

But how often do we pause to consider their nature?

John highlights this by endorsing Demetrius, who is well-spoken by everyone, as a model of goodness in contrast to Diotrephes.

It’s a call to action for us: choose paths that reflect God’s goodness.

When faced with a decision at work or in personal relationships, ask yourself, does this choice bring me closer to reflecting God’s love and truth?

By consciously choosing good over evil, we align our lives more closely with God’s will, becoming beacons of His light in a world that often wanders in darkness.

So, here’s the thing:

Choosing what is good aligns us with God’s nature and His will for humanity, fostering a life that radiates His love and truth.

6) Dealing with opposition within the Church

Facing opposition within your own ranks can be challenging, right?

The Third Letter of John addresses this head-on, using the situation with Diotrephes as a prime example.

He resisted John’s authority and excluded those who disagreed with him, showing how internal opposition can disrupt church unity. So, what do we do when faced with similar challenges?

First, it’s about sticking to the truth of the gospel, not compromising just for the sake of peace.

Then, approach conflicts with humility and love, seeking a resolution that aligns with Christian principles.

This section underscores the value placed on living a life that aligns with gospel truths so profoundly that one’s life becomes a testament to their faith and character.

It’s a straightforward reminder that how we live speaks volumes about who we are and what we truly believe.

Final words: Living the lessons of 3 John

In conclusion, the Third Letter of John offers us a treasure trove of wisdom on living out our faith in the face of everyday challenges.

As we reflect on its teachings, let’s consider how we can apply these insights to strengthen our walk with God and our relationships with others.

  • Fostering open communication: Encourage honest and open dialogue within your community to prevent misunderstandings and grow stronger together.
  • Practicing forgiveness: Remember the power of forgiveness in overcoming conflicts and building a more cohesive community.
  • Encouraging spiritual growth: Take active steps to support the spiritual development of those around you, sharing resources and experiences.
  • Leading by example: Be a living example of faith and love in action, inspiring others to follow your lead.

As we move forward, let’s carry the core messages of love, truth, and community from the Third Letter of John into every aspect of our lives.

By doing so, we not only enrich our own spiritual journey but also contribute to the flourishing of our broader faith community.

What would Jesus say?

Unsure whether to move on from a failed marriage? Struggling with desire and feeling guilty for it? Wanting to live a life Jesus would be proud of?

Let Jesus tell you how to be a good Christian according to the teachings of the Bible.

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Mikkel Andrews

Mikkel Andrews

I'm Mikkel Andrews a theology professor currently based in Philippines. I've been walking with Christ ever since I can remember. My life's work is about understanding His teachings and sharing that knowledge. You'll often find me involved in community outreach or curled up with a book on theology, always looking to deepen my faith. When I'm not volunteering or diving into the latest theological texts, I'm writing for Bible Scripture to make spirituality relatable.

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