You must be in fellowship prior to your Bible study, so that the spiritual information you receive can become a source, of blessing to your soul and produce spiritual growth.
3 John 1:1
1 The elder [presbuteros] unto the wellbeloved [agapetos] Gaius [Gaios], whom [hos] I [ego] love [agapao] in [en] the truth [aletheia]. KJV-Interlinear
1 The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. NASB
As he did in 2 John, John uses the reference to his advanced age in the opening of this letter. He is presumably in his 90's by now which we speculated before. And as someone who has lived a very long life, and has spent most of that life in the study of the Bible, he would have a great deal of wisdom. Thus the word for 'elder' comes to mean a very wise and well established person.
Unlike 2 John, which is addressed to a general audience, this book, 3 John, is addressed to a specific individual, Gaius.
1 John and 2 John taught the importance of fellowship and doctrine. Now 3 John teaches the principle of bring the two together on a personal level. Thus the letter to a personal friend.
Gaius has several meanings. First, it is the Greek form of the Latin name Caius meaning, 'I am glad, or rejoice.' It also carries the meaning of 'lord or master' as one in authority. Also an 'earthly man,' or one who is down to earth as in having his head on straight, one with common sense.
John addresses this letter to Gaius, the one whom he loves. But again love here is not an intimate or mushy love, not even a love of friendship, but one whom is loved in truth. That is, one who is in compliance with the principles taught in the Bible.
Gaius is a person who lives by the teachings of the scriptures as should every Christian who is growing up in their spiritual life. Love then is a reference to the content of the Bible. Previously in this John series, we have discovered that the terms 'light,' 'love,' 'truth' all have the same or similar meanings - referring to the content of the Bible. Referring to the principles, precepts, mandates, concepts, counsel and so forth which is taught in the Bible.
All of this begins of course with salvation. The spiritual life only applies to believers. Next, the spiritual life is lived and functions within the fellowship sphere. Third, spiritual growth must have a daily dose of food which is your daily study. Next, you have to live by the principles which you learn. And last, you have to repeat these steps within your life, throughout your life, and we call that the circle of wisdom.
The result is that you grow up spiritually and your life produces divine good, or spiritual production.
Gaius' life applies to all of this. John's relationship with Gaius is the same as his relationship with you and me. John loves you and me 'in truth' even though you and I have never met John, since John lived some 1900 years ago. So we all as believers in Christ, have a relationship with each other by means of our common interest - Bible doctrine. We can also call our relationship one of love, or one of truth, or one of light. They all mean the same thing.
So much for those out there who try to make these words like love and beloved, into some sort of queer or odd relationship. Those folks do not have any inkling as to the meaning or purpose of the content of the Bible.
Gaius lived the Christian life as John herein indicates. That is his walk, or how he conducted his life day after day back in his time. So too, we as believers in Christ must live our daily lives in accordance with Gods Word. But we cannot do that unless we know what is expected of us. And, that knowledge is only obtained by learning Bible doctrine on a daily basis.
Figure out your life's priorities and get it through your head that you will probably be alive here on this earth for many years, so begin and maintain your study on a daily basis. Do not try to learn it all in one weekend. Even the 'read the Bible in one year' programs don't do much for you. If you learn and retain nothing, then you just waste your time. Better to read and learn a little each day and actually retain it, than to try to cram it all in, in a hurry.
Like little children who want so badly to grow up and be adults, we all have to wait on time and maturity. It all comes along sooner or later. Patience!
Likewise, do not procrastinate in your study, thinking that you will have time to learn tomorrow, or next week, or when things get better for you. That time will never arrive. God just might surprise you and take you home early. There goes your long life and your opportunity for spiritual growth.
None of us know Gods time table for our lives, so we need to set out priorities now, for spiritual growth now. Lest we lose out on tremendous blessings for all of eternity. And since eternity is a very long time, any loss will be huge. Only you can screw up your own life and destiny.
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End Of Lesson
Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.