3 John: Truth & Love

Read the Bible in 2011Week 51: Sunday

The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. For I was very glad when brethren
came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.

Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they have testified to your love before the church.
3 John 1–6a

Sunday’s Bible reading is 3 John. As he did in 2 John, John writes about truth, using the word six times, and love, using the word three times (in verse 9 in a negative sense, but in that instance he uses a different Greek word for love). Testified and testimony are found five times. Together all these words tell you what this letter is all about—truth and love—or their absence—seen and witnessed in the lives of three specific people: Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius.

John is writing to Gaius, whom he frequently calls beloved. He rejoices over Gaius’ walk in the truth and commends his faithfulness to fellow believers; Christians have testified to his truth and testified to his love.

John denounces Diotrephes who is not walking in truth and love as evidenced by his refusal to accept John’s teaching, his false accusations, his lack of hospitality and his tyrannical use of authority.

Demetrius is mentioned last—not only has he received a good testimony from everyone, but he has also received a good testimony from the truth itself. Leon Morris writes:

This difficult expression perhaps means that Demetrius’ conduct squares with the gospel, so that the truth of the gospel is declared in his life.1

Is the truth of the gospel declared in our lives? To walk in the truth is to demonstrate love. To demonstrate love is to walk in the truth. There is no false dichotomy of doing one or the other. When a church or individual compromises the truth—even if it is done, as is frequently claimed, in the name of ‘love’, then love is denied because the Gospel is denied. We deny the God who loved us.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

False teaching erodes love; only the teaching of the truth produces love in our lives. When truth is held to without love, then truth is denied because Jesus who is Himself the Truth commanded believers to love one another.

Testified to your truth. Testified to your love. There cannot be one without the other.

Related posts:
“Love or Die”
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
Anbetung der Hirten: Gerard van Honthorst, Public Domain.
1Leon Morris, “3 John,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds. (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1970) 1273.

Original content: Copyright ©2011–2013 Iwana Carpenter

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