by John Greene
Like 2 John, 3 John bears the signs of a letter written during Christian persecution by the Romans. Like many Bible names in scripture, these names can be translated into other meanings. This is the case in 3 John. Once again, John is writing a kind of coded message to an assembly where he is overseeing ministry. Popular opinion maintains that John is writing to certain ones that we do not know. However, 3 John has the same character as 2 John, containing names which can be otherwise translated to make the letter more meaningful and much warmer in character. (“2 John – Love & Truth During Persecution“; “Real Love Resides in Righteousness“)
“The elder of the beloved Master that I love in truth; Beloved, I pray a hedge around everyone as you prosper and live in health, just as your breath of life prospers, because I was full of joy as the brothers set out and reported the truth in you, just as you walk the Way in truth.” – 3 John 1-3, P4T
John is writing to an assembly of disciples as an elder of the beloved Master Yahshua [Jesus]. His first concern was to tell them that they were in his prayers, as he continued to pray a hedge of protection around them. (Job 1:8; 1 Peter 5:8) The original text indicates that this ‘Hebraism’ is the most likely original expression of what John actually wrote. Breath of life refers to what most people know as the ‘soul’, but is more accurately expressed as spirit [nephesh: an animated, breathing, conscious and living being]. (John 20:22; “Disciples & the Occult of the World“; “Discernment 101: Learning to be Discerning“)
Genesis 2:7 contains three significant details about man’s creation. The first is that Elohim [‘God’, YHWH] created man and that man did not evolve from other creatures. Impersonal forces did not form man. All the cells, DNA, and other physical constructs did not create man. These are only the substances that make up man’s physical body. YHWH formed man and created man using these substances. He formed man much as a potter would [yatsar: to mold, shape or form]. YHWH had the concept of man and brought that concept to life on this earth. (“Faith: What You Believe is Important“; “Gods in Their Own Minds“)
Our Father breathed His own breath of life into man. Human beings are more than dust or physical substance. Each human has a ruach [spirit]. Our Heavenly Father is the Source of life, and He directly placed life within man. Mankind is unique among all living things upon the earth. Mankind has the life and power of Elohim [‘God’, YHWH], given to man to animate him [ruach: wind, breath, air, spirit].
John was full of joy from the report of the brothers that had been sent out to them because they were found to be walking the Way in truth. Then John began the core of his message to this troubled assembly.
“I possess no greater delight than this – to hear my children walk the Way around in truth. Beloved, agree to be trustworthy in whatever you labor for. The brothers and strangers who witnessed your love in the presence of the assembly, those who journey appropriately as blameless and righteous in the presence of Elohim; because in behalf of His Authority they went out, set apart from the multitude and taking nothing. Then we are in debt to receive anyone such as this hospitably, that we become fellow workers of the truth.” – 3 John 4-8
Here and in 2 John, we learn an important truth about the treatment of brothers, sisters and others in the first century – that welcoming and warm hospitality were seen as the same as being ‘fellow workers’. Because of this, it was very important to know who you were meeting, greeting and associating with. Most important was complete trust in the provision of Yahshua [Jesus] the Messiah, who made the Way around sin. The direct expression of this trust was and is shown in love for others, especially brothers and sisters in Christian unity under Messiah and Spirit. (“Real Trust in YHWH and Caring for Brothers and Sisters“; “Love: Departing from Death to Life“)
“My beloved children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. Then when anyone sins, each of us has an Intercessor at the side of the Father, Yahshua, the righteous Messiah. And He is the atoning offering that [G4012 peri] made the Way around our sin, but not the Way around ours alone, and also the Way around for the whole world. And in this we know that we know Him when we guard His commands. The one that claims to know Him and does not guard His commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that one. But whoever holds fast to His Word, in that one is truly the love of Elohim completed. In this way you know that you are in Him, speaking and continuing in Him, owing it to yourself also to walk the Way, just as He walked.” – 1 John 2:1-6, P4T
John gives instructions to the assembly about the problems that they are having with Authority, love, and hospitality among their brothers and sisters in the presence of Elohim. He calls certain ones out on idle accusations of evil, as well as driving elders and visiting brothers out of the assembly. (“Leaders & the Antichrist Spirit of Wisdom“; “Choosing to Serve YHWH, Not Man“)
“I write to the assembly, except those nourished by a false god, that desire to be first, that do not receive us hospitably. For this reason, when I come, call to mind these deeds that are produced against us by making idle accusations with evil words. And not satisfied with this, neither do these receive the brothers hospitably, and deliberately hinder and drive them out of the assembly. Beloved, do not imitate wickedness, but be agreeable with righteousness. Righteousness is of Elohim, but wickedness does not know Elohim.” – 3 John 9-11, P4T
Can you imagine an assembly of disciples where visiting brothers and strangers are driven out by egotistical and crazed members that insist on their own way, to the point of casting out unwanted and unknown visitors? John was not only dealing with persecution, but hyper-vigilant and accusing members that professed to be of the body of Messiah. They may have done so with the excuse of keeping out potential spies, those that could report to the Romans. Whatever the excuse these ones might profess, these men were evil operators in an assembly seeking to reflect truth and caring hospitality to teaching and visiting brothers and sisters. (“Video: Corruption of Christianity in the Third Century“; “Christianity Proclaimed a Threat to Society“)
“The ones in charge of spiritual food are witnesses of all, and by the truth itself. Moreover, even we bear witness and know that our testimony is true. I have much to write, but have purposed not to write to you with ink and pen. But I have expectation to see you soon, and speak face to face. Prosperity to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, each by name.” – 3 John 12-14, P4T
John informs this assembly that those overseers of spiritual food were witnesses of what had happened in the assembly, as well as truth itself in all disciples of Messiah. The visiting brothers also bear witness with the truth of the Savior, Who is High Priest over all. Once again, John declines to detail any further matters, except his expectation to see them soon. Just as he greeted them, he expected them to warmly greet and care for their brothers and sisters in truth, even by name, getting to know them well. (“Following the Right Jesus“)
Even during uncertain times, disciples are set apart and called out to hospitably receive teaching disciples and visitors that desire to meet together and to know more. Persecution is not an excuse to drive out those that are not as well known, or fear those apostles that have come to teach and report back to overseers. Instead, uncertain times are for each disciple to put full trust in the provision of the Savior Yahshua [Jesus] the Messiah and the Set Apart Ruach [‘Holy Spirit’]. (“Authority: The Real Meaning of Romans 13“)