Lesson 4 of 6
In Progress

Introductory Issues in 3 John

Relationship with the Gospel of John and the other letters of John

The relationships among this letter, the Gospel of John, and the other two letters remain unresolved issues among biblical scholars. The letter may have been written by the same person or people responsible for the Gospel of John. It is probably older than 1 John, but its relationship to 2 John remains an open question. One idea is that both 2 and 3 John were written at the same time, one to the church at large (2 John) and one to a key leader in a house church (3 John).

Who was Diotrephes? 

We know almost nothing about Diotrephes. Scholars debate whether he was a false teacher or a church leader and what was his general relationship to John the Elder. He does not seem to have been a false teacher, in contrast with the “antichrists” of 1 John. It is significant that issues of leadership and proper discipleship were so important to the mission and character of the early church. Here they are clearly linked to ongoing community in Christ (vv. 9-10).

Who was Gaius? 

The role of Gaius in the local church and his relationship to John the Elder remain questions that concern biblical scholars. John writes to him in a familiar, familial way, calling Gaius his child (v. 4) and “beloved” (vv. 2, 5). John’s authority seems to be rather informal, whereas Gaius may have been an official of some kind in the local house church.