Serve Loyally as “Fellow Workers in the Truth”
“You are doing a faithful work in whatever you do for the brothers . . . We . . . are under obligation to receive such persons hospitably, that we may become fellow workers in the truth.”—3 JOHN 5-8.
1. To please Jehovah, what kind of worship must we render to him?
JEHOVAH is looking for those who will worship him “with spirit and truth.” (John 4:23, 24) To meet with his approval, their worship must be consistent with what God has revealed about himself and his purposes. They must also adhere to the entire body of Christian teaching emphasizing Jesus Christ. Continuing to walk in this truth is essential for salvation.—Ephesians 1:13, 14; 1 John 3:23.
2. What question arises, and where will we find helpful guidance?
2 Witnesses of Jehovah must continue to walk in the truth. In fact, they must cooperate fully in “sacred service” by loyally promoting Kingdom interests as “fellow workers in the truth.” (Romans 12:1; 3 John 5-8; Matthew 6:33) But how can this be done? Very helpful guidance on this appears in the third inspired letter of the apostle John.
Continue Walking in the Truth
3. How is the bond of Christian love made evident in the opening words of Third John?
3 The bond of Christian love is evident in the apostle’s opening words. He wrote:
“The older man to Gaius, the beloved, whom I truly love.” (3 John 1)
John identified himself as “the older man,” apparently because of his advanced age and degree of spiritual growth. Gaius was his cherished Christian friend living at an undisclosed location. John calls him “the beloved,” using an affectionate term common among early Christians.—Romans 16:5; 2 Peter 3:1; Jude 3.
4, 5. (a) What was John’s prayerful wish for Gaius? (b) How was Gaius using his life?
4 John had good reason to love Gaius, for we read:
“Beloved one, I pray that in all things you may be prospering and having good health, just as your soul is prospering. For I rejoiced very much when brothers came and bore witness to the truth you hold, just as you go on walking in the truth. No greater cause for thankfulness do I have than these things, that I should be hearing that my children go on walking in the truth.”—3 John 2-4.
5 The apostle prayed that Gaius might ‘prosper in all things,’ both spiritually and materially. John also prayed that his friend might have “good health.” This fairly common wish did not necessarily mean that Gaius was then ill. (Compare Acts 15:29.) Here John’s use of the word “soul” denotes present life as an intelligent person. And how was Gaius using his life? Faithfully in God’s “sacred service.”
6, 7. (a) What reason did John have to ‘rejoice very much’? (b) Like Gaius, what must all faithful witnesses of Jehovah do as regards “the truth”?
6 From spiritual brothers who had come to Ephesus, John had received heartening news that caused him to ‘rejoice very much.’ The apostle could be joyful because his friend Gaius was faring well spiritually and holding to the truth. (Proverbs 15:30; 25:25) The “brothers” may have been part of the congregation with which Gaius was associated or those who may have gone from Ephesus to visit that congregation, perhaps even carrying an earlier letter the apostle had written to it.—3 John 9.
7 These brothers ‘bore witness to the truth Gaius held.’ He had fully accepted the truth as it related to Christ and was abiding by Jehovah’s requirements. Gaius was “walking in the truth,” loyally holding to the entire body of Christian teachings. Indeed, every faithful witness of Jehovah must not only be ‘in the truth’ but must also walk in it as a way of life. Loyal Christians always conform to “the truth,” rejecting apostasy and actively serving God “with a complete heart.”—2 John 1-4; Isaiah 38:2, 3.
8. Why could John consider Gaius to be one of his “children”?
8 John said he had no greater cause for thankfulness than to hear that his “children” continued “walking in the truth,” or, “living by the truth.” (The New English Bible) The apostle may have become a spiritual father to Gaius by helping him to gain accurate knowledge of the Scriptures. (Compare 1 Corinthians 4:14-17.) But even if John had not introduced this beloved friend to the truth, the apostle’s advanced age, degree of Christian growth and fatherly affection for Gaius made it appropriate for the apostle to consider this apparently younger man to be one of his “children.”
“Fellow Workers in the Truth”
9. According to 3 John 5-8, what was Gaius encouraged to do in behalf of certain brothers?
9 Gaius had been fulfilling his Christian responsibilities well, and John commended him, saying:
“Beloved one, you are doing a faithful work in whatever you do for the brothers, and strangers at that, who have borne witness to your love before the congregation. These you will please send on their way in a manner worthy of God. For it was in behalf of his name that they went forth, not taking anything from the people of the nations. We, therefore, are under obligation to receive such persons hospitably, that we may become fellow workers in the truth.”—3 John 5-8.
10. What “faithful work” was Gaius doing, and how do Jehovah’s Witnesses act similarly today?
10 Gaius was doing “a faithful work,” or, “a loyal thing,” in receiving visiting brothers hospitably. (Revised Standard Version) This was especially noteworthy since they were “strangers at that”—individuals formerly unknown to their Christian host. Jehovah’s Witnesses today do similar “faithful work” when they extend hospitality to such fellow believers as traveling overseers sent out by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.—Romans 12:13.
11. Concerning what could the traveling brothers bear witness regarding Gaius?
11 Beloved Gaius surely was displaying principled love, and the traveling brothers bore witness to this “before the congregation,” perhaps during a Christian meeting in Ephesus. (Compare Acts 14:27.) They could testify that Gaius had been hospitable. He had manifested a love of strangers, thus displaying an age-old trait of godly individuals.—Genesis 18:1-8; Matthew 25:34, 35, 40.
12. (a) In what manner were the traveling Christians to be sent on their way? (b) In behalf of whose name had these brothers gone forth? (c) What contrast is there between the way the faithful brothers and the apostates should be treated?
12 The apostle urged Gaius to send the traveling Christians on their way “in a manner worthy of God,” in whose service they were exerting themselves. They should be furnished with such things as food and funds for their journey. (Titus 3:13) These brothers should be assisted because they had gone forth in behalf of “the name,” according to the Greek text. Here John apparently meant God’s peerless name, Jehovah, since he urged that they be sent on their way “in a manner worthy of God.” (Compare New World Translation; Kingdom Interlinear Translation; RS.) Although traveling apostate teachers were not to be received hospitably, these faithful visiting brothers deserved to be treated as loyal witnesses of Jehovah God and his Son.—Isaiah 43:10-12; Acts 1:6-8; 2 John 9-11.
13. (a) The fact that the Christian travelers were “not taking anything from the people of the nations” meant what? (b) So how could others become “fellow workers in the truth”?
13 The hardworking Christian travelers were “not taking anything from the people of the nations.” Like the apostle Paul, they evidently wanted to “furnish the good news without cost” by not placing a financial burden on those to whom they were preaching the truth. (1 Corinthians 9:18; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:9) Since these brothers had gone forth in behalf of Jehovah’s name and were declaring the “good news” to the Gentiles without accepting material support from them, fellow Christians were “under obligation to receive such [evangelizers] hospitably.” By assisting them, these hospitable worshipers of Jehovah were playing a vital role in furthering the interests of Christianity. They thus proved to be “fellow workers in the truth.” A similar spirit motivates Jehovah’s Witnesses today.
Loyal Support Despite Opposition
14. What opposition had arisen within the congregation with which Gaius was associated?
14 Gaius was serving loyally as a ‘fellow worker in the truth.’ But opposition was being encountered, for John stated:
“I wrote something to the congregation, but Diotrephes, who likes to have the first place among them, does not receive anything from us with respect. That is why, if I come, I will call to remembrance his works which he goes on doing, chattering about us with wicked words. Also, not being content with these things, neither does he himself receive the brothers with respect, and those who are wanting to receive them he tries to hinder and to throw out of the congregation.”—3 John 9, 10.
15. What attitude did Diotrephes have, and what if a professing Christian happened to be like him today?
15 John had previously written “something to the congregation,” but arrogant Diotrephes received nothing from the apostle with respect. Actually, presumptuous Diotrephes ‘liked to have the first place’ among fellow believers; he wanted “to be their leader.” (An American Translation) So this proud man was out of harmony with Jesus Christ, who told His disciples: “All you are brothers. . . .Neither be called ‘leaders,’ for your Leader is one, the Christ.” (Matthew 23:8-12) Of course, since “haughty eyes and an arrogant heart . . . are sin” and ‘Jehovah knows the lofty one only from a distance,’ any professing Christian who is like Diotrephes today has no intimate relationship with God.—Proverbs 21:4; Psalm 138:6.
16. (a) How did Diotrephes act toward the apostle John? (b) In this, what lesson is there for 20th-century Christians?
16 By not receiving anything from John with respect, Diotrephes was rebelling against God-given authority. Hence, if the aging apostle came to the congregation, he would “call to remembrance” the evil deeds of Diotrephes, as well as what he was saying. Diotrephes was “chattering about” John with “wicked words,” thus maligning one of the apostolic foundation stones of heavenly New Jerusalem. (Revelation 21:2, 14) Surely, he could not do that with impunity! Nor can professing Christians today expect to escape God’s adverse judgment if they unrepentantly slander fellow believers and disregard divinely constituted authority.—Leviticus 19:16; Jude 8-13.
17. Of what other wrongdoing was Diotrephes guilty?
17 Diotrephes also refused to receive the diligent traveling brothers hospitably. In fact, he was trying to hinder others who desired to extend hospitality to the visiting evangelizers. Worse still, Diotrephes was attempting to throw hospitable and loving individuals out of the congregation by having them disfellowshipped wrongly. But in the face of all this opposition loyal Christians were undeterred in supporting Kingdom-preaching activity.
Imitate What Is Good
18. According to 3 John 11, 12, what did John tell Gaius, and why?
18 If Diotrephes did not change, he himself might eventually be expelled from the congregation. However, the faithful should do what John told Gaius:
“Beloved one, be an imitator, not of what is bad, but of what is good. He that does good originates with God. He that does bad has not seen God. Demetrius has had witness borne to him by them all and by the truth itself. In fact, we, also, are bearing witness, and you know that the witness we give is true.”—3 John 11, 12.
19. ‘Imitating what is good’ calls for what?
19 Gaius was being admonished to ‘imitate not what is bad but what is good.’ The pursuit of goodness calls for hating what is wicked and actively clinging to what is good. (Psalm 97:10; Romans 12:9) And how important this is, for “he that does good originates with God”!—1 John 3:4-12.
20. On earth, how do Jehovah’s worshipers ‘see’ him?
20 Making an impressive point, the apostle added: “He that does bad has not seen God.” Upon being resurrected to spirit life in heaven, faithful spirit-anointed Christians could expect to see God and Christ. But on earth Jehovah’s worshipers ‘see’ him by observing his acts in their behalf. Those ‘seeing God’ do so with ‘the eyes of the heart.’ (Ephesians 1:18; Exodus 33:20; Job 19:26) With perception that involves both mind and heart, these individuals really come to know Jehovah as his worshipers who appreciate his qualities, such as his boundless love in giving his only-begotten Son for mankind.—John 3:16.
21. (a) Who was Demetrius? (b) How did Demetrius have “witness borne to him . . . by the truth itself”?
21 Gaius was urged to ‘imitate what is good,’ and Demetrius was a doer of good. Likely, Demetrius was traveling with the visiting brothers, perhaps overseeing that group of preachers, or missionaries. (Compare 2 Corinthians 8:16-24.) Gaius may not have known Demetrius very well, if at all, but other Christians spoke well of him, and he had “witness borne to him . . . by the truth itself.” What fellow believers were saying about Demetrius was supported by his godly conduct, for he had harmonized his life with Jehovah’s requirements and was ‘living the truth.’ Hence, “the truth,” in effect, spoke well of Demetrius. So did the apostle John, and Gaius knew that he was truthful. (Compare John 19:35; 21:24.) Despite the opposition of Diotrephes, therefore, the traveling Kingdom proclaimers must have been received hospitably by Gaius and other loyal “fellow workers in the truth.”
Love Evident Among Fellow Workers
22. Instead of writing more to Gaius, what did John hope to do?
22 John’s concluding words to Gaius give abundant evidence of the love existing among “fellow workers in the truth.” He said:
“I had many things to write you, yet I do not wish to go on writing you with ink and pen. But I am hoping to see you directly, and we shall speak face to face. May you have peace. The friends send you their greetings. Give my greetings to the friends by name.” (3 John 13, 14)
Yes, John had much to say to Gaius, but he did not wish to put it all in writing. Instead, the apostle was “hoping to see [Gaius] directly,” or, “immediately.” (Kingdom Interlinear Translation) Then they could “speak face to face,” enjoying “heart-to-heart” discussion.—Phillips.
23. (a) In wishing Gaius peace, John desired that his friend enjoy what? (b) In concluding Third John, how did the apostle refer to beloved fellow believers?
23 In the meantime, John earnestly desired that Gaius might have peace—the calmness that results from an intimate relationship with Jehovah, the tranquillity that removes undue anxiety and puts the mind and heart at rest. (Philippians 4:6, 7) Finally, in closing, the apostle sent Gaius the greetings of “the friends,” thus referring to beloved fellow believers in a way that Jehovah’s Witnesses often do today. (Compare John 15:13, 14.) And how appropriate that John should know members of the local congregation so well that he could ask Gaius to convey his greetings to them “by name”!
Keep on Serving Loyally as Fellow Workers
24, 25. Second and Third John should impress Jehovah’s Witnesses with what need, and how should these letters motivate us?
24 Surely, the second and third inspired letters of John impress modern-day Christians with the need to love one another, reject apostasy, cling to the truth and promote the interests of true worship. Hence, we, as Jehovah’s Witnesses, are determined to remain loyal to Scriptural truth as we sing our Father’s praises, declare the good news of the Kingdom and point to Jesus Christ’s vital role in God’s arrangement for blessing mankind.
25 As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we face many tests of faith in these critical “last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) But the apostle John’s sound counsel will help us to continue “walking in the truth” as our way of life. May we, therefore, imitate what is good, do all we can to promote Kingdom interests and go on serving together loyally as “fellow workers in the truth”—all to the praise of the marvelous God of truth, Jehovah.
Can You Answer?
□ What “faithful work” was Gaius doing in behalf of fellow believers?
□ The bad course of Diotrephes can teach us what?
□ How can we, like Gaius, serve loyally as “fellow workers in the truth”?
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Gaius did “a faithful work” in receiving his visiting brothers hospitably
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Jehovah’s Witnesses, like their first-century counterparts, serve together loyally as “fellow workers in the truth”