The Heart of Hospitality

Scripture Passage: 
3 John 1:5-14

INTRODUCTION: This short epistle deals with one specific problem: the reception and aid of the brethren who will be passing through as they perform their deeds of ministry. In short, this epistle is about the importance of hospitality. It is a blessed act of love when performed and a wickedness when some refuse to do it. The lessons of hospitality are taught in the actions of three men.

  1. THE TRUST OF GAIUS (3 John 1:5-8)
    1. One to be Trusted with the Care of Others (3 John 1:5-6a)
      1. The faithfulness of his hospitality (3 John 1:5)
        1. To the brethren
        2. To strangers
      2. The testimony of his charity (3 John 1:6a; 1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 13:1-7; 1 Corinthians 16:14; Colossians 3:14; 1 Timothy 1:51 Peter 4:8; 2 Peter 1:5-8)
        1. Borne by witnesses
        2. Before the church
        3. Note: this was a charity that could be seen, not a hidden feeling of the heart.
      3. Note: the duty of hospitality for the Christian
        1. A requirement of the pastor (Titus 1:8 – “a lover of hospitality”)
        2. A requirement for the widow indeed (1 Timothy 5:10 – “Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.”)
        3. A requirement for all believers
          1. Romans 12:13 – “Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.”
          2. 1 Peter 4:8-9 – “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging.”
    2. One to be Sought Out for Help (3 John 1:6b-8)
      1. To encourage certain brethren on their journey (3 John 1:6b-7)
        1. After a godly sort (John 1:6b)
        2. Because of their purpose (John 1:7)
          1. They go forth for His name’s sake
          2. They take nothing of the Gentiles
            1. The Gentiles are a reference to the lost
            2. No charge is to be made for the gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 9:18 – “Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge.”)
            3. God’s work is to be supported by God’s people (2 Corinthians 8:1-7).
      2. To be fellowhelpers to the truth (3 John 1:8)
        1. By receiving and helping the brethren
        2. By becoming a part of the ministry of others (2 Corinthians 8:23 – “Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper”).
  2. THE TREACHERY OF DIOTREPHES (3 John 1:9-11)
    1. His Reception of the Brethren (3 John 1:9)
      1. He heard of their needs
        1. John had written to the church
        2. It was not a matter of ignorance
        3. Note: the four levels of sin in Psalm 19:12-13
          1. Ignorant sins (Psalm 19:12a – “Who can understand his errors?”)
          2. Secret sins (Psalm 19:12b; Psalm 90:8)
          3. Presumptuous sins (Psalm 19:13a); these are sins that brazenly go against the clear teaching of the word and the clear will of God.
          4. The great transgression (Psalm 19:13b); this would be the sin that brings the full judgment of God, like the sin unto death (1 John 5:16)
      2. He desired first place
        1. This is the place that belongs exclusively to Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18).
        2. One of the great dangers of spiritual leadership (Matthew 20:20-21; 1 Peter 5:1-3)
        3. To minister we must become a servant (Romans 12:10; Philippians 2:1-5)
      3. He received not the brethren
        1. He was lifted up with pride (1 Timothy 3:6)
        2. He refused to humble himself as a servant
        3. He refused to minister to others (Ezekiel 34:1-4)
    2. His Remembrance by John (3 John 1:10)
      1. His words
        1. His prating; to prate is to talk much with foolish talk (Proverbs 10:8, 10; Ecclesiastes 5:3; Ecclesiastes 10:14).
        2. His malice; malice is ill will; it is the desire and the attempt to hurt someone else (Ephesians 4:31; 1 Peter 2:1).
      2. His works
        1. He rejects the brethren
        2. He rejects those who receive the brethren
          1. He forbids those who would receive them
          2. He casts out of the church those who do receive them
            1. This is not proper church discipline
            2. This is a willful casting out for purposes of personal power (Isaiah 66:5; Luke 6:22; John 16:2)
    3. His Report by his Deeds (3 John 1:11)
      1. We are known by what we follow
        1. Whether we follow that which is evil (Exodus 23:2; 2 Kings 13:1-2; 2 Peter 2:1-2)
        2. Whether we follow that which is good (Psalm 38:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; Ephesians 5:1)
      2. What we follow expresses our relationship to God
        1. He that does good is of God (1 John 3:16-19)
        2. He that does evil has not seen God (John 3:20)
  3. THE TASK OF DEMETRIUS (3 John 1:12-14)
    1. The Report of his Deeds (3 John 1:12a)
      1. The evaluation of his report: good (Acts 22:12)
      2. The sources of his good report
        1. Of all men
          1. Of the saints
          2. Of the lost (1 Timothy 3:7; Colossians 4:5)
        2. Of the truth itself (3 John 1:3; 2 John 1:4)
    2. The Remembrance of John (3 John 1:12b-13)
      1. The record of John (3 John 1:12)
      2. The truth of John’s record (3 John 1:12)
      3. The quantity of John’s record (3 John 1:13)
        1. Much more to say
        2. Too much to write with pen and ink
    3. The Reception of Gaius (3 John 1:14)
      1. Anticipation
        1. Of seeing him soon
        2. Of speaking face to face
      2. Final greetings
        1. Peace to Gaius
        2. Salutations from friends
        3. Greet the friends by name

CONCLUSION: In a most interesting way, the two epistles of 2 John and 3 John parallel one another. They are about the same length. They were probably written at the same time. They are both one-issue epistles. They use some of the same terminology (frequent use of “truth;” mention of children walking in truth; mention at the end of the epistles of much more to say but not with pen and ink but face to face).

However, in another way, they are exact opposites in their message. In 2 John, John warns the elect lady against accepting those who teach falsely concerning the doctrine of Christ. “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” (2 John 1:10). In 3 John, John applauds Gaius for his hospitality to brethren and strangers (3 John 1:5-8) and condemns Diotrephes because he would not receive the brethren (3 John 1:9-10).

The two epistles taken together almost give a manual on hospitality. We are to show special hospitality to those who are going about serving the Lord. However, we are to draw the line when it comes to doctrinal issues dealing with the person and work of Jesus Christ. May the Lord teach us all to live the life of hospitality and yet know where to draw the line.

David Reagan

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 18:14

The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?