“Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.” ~ 3 John 11
Explanation of the Text: It was eight months ago when I began a small study through the first epistle of John. It has seemed logical to simply continue on through all of the epistles, and so today, I begin a look at 3 John. The epistle flows well from 2 John because there are so many connections between the two.
The similarities between the two suggest the same author for both epistles, which, for the second epistle that bears his name, as been established as the apostle John (to read more of the previous discussion, you can click here). The symmetry between the two is not limited to merely the author, but also to a number of literary aspects:
- The structure of the letter.
- The style of the letter.
- The content of the letter.
- The overlap of phrasing in each letter.
The two letters mirror each other from the macro to the micro levels. In both the author refers to himself as the elder and commends the recipients for the testimony he has heard about them. He even ends the letter in much the same way as he does the previous, with a greeting to the people and by expressing his desire to see them in person.
Even the content between the two letters is very similar. While in the previous letter John addresses the issue of hospitality towards false teachers, he continues on here to address the issue of hospitality towards truth teachers. As a result, with both letters in view, we get a well-rounded look at our response to teachers within the church, and the need for discerning behavior.
Examination & Application of the Text: As the journey through 3 John progresses, it will be a fascinating study to see the importance rejecting falsehood and embracing truth. It seems easy to look out over the world today and be bewildered by how quickly people readily accept falsehood while openly denying the truth. How sorrowful a situation this is.
It underscores the importance of thinking logically and completely in light of a biblical worldview as the culture around us seeks to deceive us. It also demonstrates the need to teach the truth, including how to think critically and logically about it, to others. We stand firm, proclaiming with both words and actions, what we know to be true so that the eyes of others may be opened.