(3 John) Showing Christian Hospitality

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"We therefore ought to show hospitality..." (3 John 8)


"According to Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History 3:25), John returned from the Patmos exile to Ephesus....spending his closing years visiting the Asiatic churches (cf 2 John 12; 3 John 10,14), ordaining elders and ministering." (M.F. Unger) (like a superintendent of the churches in the area around Ephesus.)

This letter of the Apostle John: written to Gaius, and delivered by Demetrius, is about showing loving and faithful hospitality to visiting preachers of the Gospel of Christ. Harvey Blaney (in the Beacon Bible Commentary) said: "This short letter is a gem of a treatise on personal relationships in the church. The koinonia (fellowship) of the First Epistle (of John) was not easily attained or maintained in the first century - perhaps no easier than today."

This Christian fellowship is attained when Christians are walking in the truth of the Gospel of Christ, and are living in the love of Christ.

The Apostle John also warns us not to show hospitality to false teachers(2 John verses 10-11), so that we do not share in their evil deeds.

The Apostle Peter urges Christian people to "be hospitable to one another without grumbling." (1 Peter 4:9)

1 A good Example of Christian Hospitality

  1. Gaius to whom John writes the letter, was a good example of Christian hospitality to the traveling ministers. He "urges that hospitality be extended to the traveling teachers of the truth...John wanted Gaius to set an example of hospitality to the rest of the people." (H. Ray Dunning in Asbury Bible Commentary)

    (There were at least 3 men in the New Testament with the name Gaius):

  2. The hospitality came from the spiritual qualities in the life of Gaius.

    The truth is in you (verse 3)

    You are walking in the truth (verse 3)

    You do faithfully whatever you do for the brothers and strangers.

    You have the love of God in your soul (verse 6).

    Demetrius, the letter carrier is also a good example

    He has a 3-fold testimony: all, the truth, and our testimony (verse 12)

2 An enemy of Christian Hospitality

Diotrephes was perhaps "the pastor of the church to whom the Apostle John wrote." (John Wesley)

  1. Diotrephes loved his own importance, so he "loves to have the pre-eminence among them." (verse 9). This is a clear example of what kind of behaviour results from self-centredness.
  2. As a result, he refuses to receive the Apostle John, his presiding elder or superintendent. (verse 9)
  3. Also, he prates against Paul with malicious words.(verse 10)
  4. Nor does he receive visiting fellow Christian brothers. (verse 10)
  5. Further, he puts out of his local church, fellow Christians who wish to receive the visiting Christian preachers. (verse 10)
  6. He had also prevented one of John's letters being read in his church. (verse 9)
  7. No wonder John warns dear brother Gaius not to imitate this evil example. (verse 11)

3 What is Christian Hospitality?

  1. Christian Hospitality is showing the love of Christ in practical ways to fellow Christians and strangers - based on love and truth.
  2. Do it faithfully (verse 5)
  3. Do it with love (verse 5)
  4. Do it "in a manner worthy of God." (verse 6)
  5. Treat visiting Christians as equal to yourself. (verse 8 says "fellow workers for the truth")
  6. Do it "for His name's sake" (verse 7) - the true Christian motive


Showing Christian hospitality is not based on gushy sentimentality or emotion without backbone.

  1. It is based on the truth of the Gospel of Christ.
    Five times in this letter, John mentions "the truth:" Love in truth (verse 1), Walk in Truth (twice in verse 3, 4), Help the Truth (verse 8) and Witness of the Truth (verse 12)
  2. It is based on living in the love of Christ.

Love and truth must walk together. As an application of this - we are not to show hospitality to false teachers, because they are teaching lies. (2 John 10-11)

But Christian hospitality means we show the kindness of Christ by receiving traveling preachers and Christian workers into our homes and fellowship. Yes, there is need for discernment, because there are many false teachers and anti-Christian people who would pretend to be Christian in order to take advantage of us. Love and Truth together keep us in balance.

In the case of which John writes to Gaius about, John himself was well known to them all and the visiting Christian preachers - though strangers to them - came with the commendation of the sending church.

The Lord Jesus said, "When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed." (Luke 14:13-14a). There is a beautiful example of the Lord's hospitality to His disciples, when He made them breakfast at the beach. This is recorded in John's Gospel, chapter 21. The disciples had been fishing on the Sea of Tiberias, "then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread." (verse 9). Then "Jesus said to them, "Come and eat breakfast." (verse 12). "Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish." (verse 13)

Christ is our example of showing us Christian Hospitality.


Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.

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