2, 3 John

2 and 3 John Observation


A. This little letter in only entitled III John because it is slightly shorter than II John. I really think both II John and III John form a balanced message to a local church, probably somewhere in the Roman Province of Asia Minor, towards the end of the first century.

B. II John deals with the problem of heretical, itinerant preachers, while III John deals with the admonition to help itinerant Christian preachers.

C. There are three different men specifically named in III John:

1. Gaius (a godly man in the recipient church)

a. There are three Gaius’s mentioned in other parts of the Bible: Gaius of Macedonia, Acts 19:29; Gaius of Derbe, Acts 20:4; and Gaius of Corinth, Rom. 16:23; I Cor. 1:14.

b. The writings known as "Apostolic Constitutions" list the Gaius of III John as the Bishop of Pergamum, appointed by John.

2. Diotrephes (a godless trouble-maker in the recipient church)

a. This is the only mention of this man in the NT. His name is a very rare name which means "nursed of Zeus." How ironic it is that man named after "Zeus" would be against travelers when "Zeus" was the "protector of travelers."

b. His attitude is exposed in verses 9-10.

3. Demetrius (the bearer of John’s letter to this local church)

a. Apparently he is one of the traveling missionaries and the bearer of the letter from the Apostle in Ephesus.

b. The tradition called "The Apostolic Constitutions" lists Demetrius as the Bishop of Philadelphia, who was appointed by the Apostle John.

D. The early church struggled with how to evaluate and support traveling preachers, teachers, and evangelists. One early non-canonical Christian writing from the early second century called The Didache or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles has these guidelines:


"Whosoever, therefore, cometh and teacheth you all these things that have been said before, receive him. But if the teacher himself turn and teach another doctrine to the destruction of this, hear him not; but if he teach so as to increase righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord. Bur concerning the apostles and prophets, according to the decree of the Gospel, thus do: Let every apostle that cometh to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not remain except one day; but if there be need, also the next; but if he remain three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle goeth away, let him take nothing but bread until he lodgeth; but if he ask money, he is a false prophet" (p. 380).


"But whosoever saith in the Spirit, Give me money, or something else, ye shall not listen to him; but if he saith to you to give for other’s sake who are in need, let no one judge him. But let every one that cometh in the name of the Lord be received, and afterward ye shall prove and know him; for ye shall have understanding right and left. If he who cometh is a wayfarer, assist him as far as ye are able; but he shall not remain with you, except for two or three days, if need be. But if he willeth to abide with you, being an artisan, let him work and eat; but if he hath no trade, according to your understanding see to it that, as a Christian, he shall not live with you idle. But if he willeth not so to do, he is a Christ-monger. Watch that ye keep aloof from such" (p. 381).


1. "from the beginning," 1:1

2. "God is Light," 1:5

3. confess, 1:9

4. "my little children," 2:1

5. advocate, 2:1

6. propitiation, 2:2

7. know, 2:3

8. "abides in Him," 2:6

9. "do not love the world," 2:15

10. "the last hour," 2:18

11. the anointing, 2:27

12. "the Spirit and the water and the blood," 5:8

13. "a sin leading to death," 5:16

14. "guard yourselves from idols," 5:21


1. the Word of Life, 1:2

2. antichrist, 2:18 (II John v. 7)

3. antichrists, 2:18

4. the chosen lady, II John v. 1

5. her children, II John v. 1

6. "the children of your chosen sister," II John v. 13

7. Gaius, III John v. 1 8. Diotrephes, v. 9

9. Demetrius, v. 12



1. Why does 1:1-5 have so many verbs that relate to the five senses?

2. Why would someone say they have no sin? (1:8)

3. How does 2:2 relate to John 3:16?

4. Explain 2:7-8 in your own words.

5. Does 2:12-14 relate to different age groups in the church or all Christians?

6. Explain 2:22-23 in light of gnostic theology.

7. What is the central truth of the paragraph, 2:28-3:3?

8. Why are 3:6 and 9 so hard to interpret?

9. How does 3:!5 relate to the Sermon on the Mount?

10. Explain 3:20 in your own words.

11. How does one test the spirits? (4:1-6)

12. How does 4:2 relate to gnostic theology? (II John v. )

13. What is the central truth of 4:7-24?

14. How does 5:13 function as one of the themes of the whole book?

15. Does God answer all prayer? (5:14-15)

16. Is II John 10 referring to one’s home or one’s church? Why?

17. Is III John v. 2 a text that promises health and prosperity?