“I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.” ~ 3 John 13-14
Explanation of the Text: Remarkably similar, reading John’s closing in the his third epistle is very much like that in the second epistle. So close are they that it is reasonable to think that the two letters were written very close together. The words, simplistic as they may be, convey the deepness of fellowship between believers.
The meaning of the text is quite clear. There is more that friends, or more importantly family, could converse about, but John would rather do so face to face instead of by letters. Whether or not John was able to fulfill that desire before his death, we do not know, nor does that impact the text’s meaning.
What we do know is that this closing is extremely personal in nature. It conveys John’s connectedness to Gaius, and likely the others there. It is a closeness that certainly cannot come without Christ. Only could fasteners from Christ be strong enough to stitch two people together to create such an inseparable and incomparable bond.
Examination & Application of the Text: Throughout my devotion on 3 John, I have constantly been reminded of the context of this letter, which is hospitality of believers. In contrast to this genuine hospitality has been Diotrephes and his prideful behavior. There is a great division that is taking place at the time of John’s writing. The division is characterized by disregard, disobedience and discord.
It is phenomenal then to read these closing verses in light of that. John’s demonstration of Christian fellowship stands in great contrast to the strife that is otherwise taking place.
Not only does John’s relationship with Gaius exemplify Christian fellowship, as we have seen repeatedly throughout. There is a specific demonstration here of Christian unity against falsehood, whether it be false teaching or false portrayals of Christ.
We find a love then, between Gaius and John that is deeply rooted in Christ. It is a love for God that causes them to be drawn closer together for the cause of Christ. Likewise it is a love for God that compels the confrontation of the strife . . . which is an expression of love for Diotrephes as well in wanting to see him be reconciled with God.
This tells us much about our relationship with our fellow believers. Accountability must take place. Unity must take place. Even in the midst of discord, love shall prevail, but it does according to God’s terms and definitions. As Christ fastens believers together, they must stand together for the testimony of God alone. They do so through their unique fellowship and support of one another.