The epistle known as 3 John is the shortest letter in the New Testament. Like 2 John, it is from the Elder but, unlike 2 John, it is addressed to an individual--Gaius--and not to a local congregation, although the letter may well have been intended for a wider audience. The purpose of 3 John is to encourage Gaius to continue extending hospitality to trav eling emissaries, especially those who come from the Elder or who are loyal to him. In particular, the Elder urges Gaius' reception of one mis sionary named Demetrius (v. 12). It may well be that Demetrius is carrying 3 John to Gaius and that the letter serves as something of an introduction of and reference for Demetrius. The Elder must call Gaius to his aid since an individual named Diotrephes--who is apparently exerting considerable influence--has placed himself in opposition to the Elder by failing to support the Elder's messengers. The Elder has already written one letter to the congregation of which Diotrephes is a part (v. 9), but apparently that letter was ignored. So the Elder now turns to Gaius, and asks for him to undertake the work of hospitality that Diotrephes has refused to do (vv. 9-10).
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