This third and final epistle of John is addressed “unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.”  John again identifies himself as “the elder,” reminding his readers of his position in the church of God.  He could rightly claim the title of apostle, but often he and his fellow apostles humbly linked themselves with the other elders in Christ’s churches.  Peter himself, at the end of his first epistle, said that he also was an elder, as well as a witness of the sufferings of Christ.  It is always important to notice the humility of the apostles of Christ, who knew nothing of the papal system of elevating men to stations of divine authority, and compelling men to address them as “holy father,” or other gaudy and preposterous titles.  Though the apostles exercised a great authority within the church, which was not to be passed down to succeeding generations except through the writings they left behind, they were content to number themselves with the other humble officials in the Lord’s churches.

Who “the wellbeloved Gaius” was cannot be definitely known, except through what John says of him here.  It is possible, I suppose, since John does not identify his location, that he may be the same Gaius from Corinth, of whom Paul spoke so highly.  At any rate, he seems all in all to have been one of the most admirable characters in the early church.  John speaks in very glowing terms of his Christian character, and throughout the letter deals on a very personal level with individuals and issues within the church.  Tragically, although Gaius set a shining example which all his brethren should have done well to emulate, there were those within the church who knew nothing of his gracious spirit.

As with the elect lady and her children, John affirms that he loves Gaius “in the truth.”  It is not a friendship built upon similarities of taste in civil or social matters, or of equality in caste; rather, it is founded upon the timeless and infallible truth of God’s word.  Both John and Gaius believed the same book, trusted the same Saviour, and thus walked in the same paths of righteousness.  Wherever there are two Christians who can they say this of themselves, there ought to be a strong mutual affection between them, which is able to overcome all external differences.

 

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