“Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, each by name.” ~ 3 John 15
Explanation of the Text: Finally we close on what has been an insightful journey through the epistles of John. This journey has taken us through some basic recurring themes from the practice of the Christian life, to hospitality, to guarding against false teachers. Whatever it may be, John’s writings are compelling for believers pushing them to continue in the following ways:
1) Live in such a way that your behavior confirms you are a child of God.
2) Guard yourselves from false teaching that seeks to take you away from God.
3) Be hospitable in such a way that glorifies God.
Many would say these points are a given, yet behavior, both in John’s time and now, dictates the need to repeat them. Furthermore, John’s expounding upon them convey a deep sense of conviction that all of us need.
Now, in this final verse John says his goodbyes, or rather in some cases his hellos. It is worth noting that in most versions this is still part of verse 14; however in the ESV it has been placed as its own separate verse.
His final closure begins with the phrase, “Peace be to you.” There is obviously conflict between believers as Diotrephes asserts his authority, so this closing is both applicable and comforting. It indicates a level of trust that God’s will be done and they will enjoy a measure of peace from that knowledge.
Finally, John sends greetings from others to Gaius. Clearly these are mutual friends with John that know Gaius. Furthermore, John sends his own greetings to others through Gaius. He gets more personal by asking Gaius to greet them by name.
Examination & Application of the Text: I must confess my own longing for intimacy not just between believers, but between churches. I will qualify that by saying that I am not suggesting ecumenism. We must understand that separation is sometimes necessary, especially when it comes to those who distort the truth of Scripture. However, for some this exclusivity is extended to the point that outside of a core group, or even one’s own church, there is no association with anybody.
In a relationship I have with a group of churches in other countries, I have watched like-minded people come together for the cause of Christ. One group I can think of in particular function so well that they are together frequently. 10-15 churches that cover a several hour radius are so interconnected that they know what is going on in with one another’s lives. For example, if a baptism is to take place, many from the other churches will travel those great distances in order to support the body. They are acutely aware of the major events that take place in the lives of each individual believer and are able to encourage, support, and rejoice with them.
It is fascinating to see, and is unfortunate that it has not been replicated in the States. I recognize for some, the challenges of distance can be difficult. Especially in ‘reformed’ churches where they exist few and far between. However, there are things that can be done to bridge those gaps to a point. Clearly the churches in the New Testament had done that, because we see intimacy between the churches throughout the letters of both Paul and John.
For us then, John has preached about fellowship through each of the epistles. He has done so in such a way to show believers of the need to know one another, to function as a local body of Christ and as a global body of Christ. In doing this, he has also provided guidelines for those that we should not fellowship with for the sake of the Lord’s testimony. Even more, he doesn’t merely teach us about it, but this final verse shows John modeling it. May this be our example