3 John

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3 John
Book Number 64
Testament New
Number of Chapters 1
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Literary Genre General Epistle
References Used Bibliography: 3 John

This book is very similar to 2 John, from the same general length, to the format, the desire to come and talk in person, and the designation of the author as “the elder.” 3 John, however, is slightly shorter and more personal, containing greetings to individual people with actual names. Where 2 John is written to keep people from extending hospitality to false missionaries, 3 John is written because some members of a church, namely Diotrephes, are not extending hospitality to any missionaries, including the elder (Brown 401). So the elder wrote to Gaius to convince him to help visiting missionaries, especially Demetrius who apparently was a missionary that the elder had sent along with this letter.

This letter was probably written to a church near Ephesus, though the exact location is unknown (Gundry 341). This is apparently the second letter that the elder had written to Gaius's church. This one, however, is personal as the last one sent to the entire church went ignored. It is possible that the previous letter was 2 John and that Diotrephes merely went overboard following those instructions, but this is purely conjecture. We also do not know whether Gaius is part of the troublesome church or not. It is possible he was from a neighboring church being warned about Diotrephes (Guthrie 897).

There is a lot of discussion about the authorship of this letter. It is traditionally associated with the apostle John, though it is referenced rarely if at all in any surviving documents before the third century (Guthrie 895). Regardless of the authenticity of this claim, it was almost certainly written by the same author as 2 John, someone widely respected as a leader in the early Christian Church. This elder apparently had some authority over many churches, either as an early bishop, because they were from his school of thought, or because of his connection with Jesus.



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