"THE THIRD EPISTLE OF JOHN" Supporting Ministers Of The Gospel (5-8) INTRODUCTION 1. In writing to Gaius, John has referred to his joy of hearing that Gaius is "walking in the truth" - 3Jn 3-4 2. An area of Gaius' life in which this was especially true was in showing hospitality to traveling ministers - 3Jn 5-8 3. In Second John, we saw the "danger" of receiving and supporting those teachers who do not proclaim the doctrine of Christ - cf. 2 Jn 9-11 4. But here in Third John, we learn of the "good" that can be done when we receive and support those involved in the spreading of the gospel 5. In this study, we shall consider... a. The scriptural authority for supporting ministers of the gospel b. The reasons given by John for why we should be willing to do so [Going outside of our text to other portions of Scripture, consider what we learn about...] I. THE SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY FOR SUPPORTING MINISTERS A. AS TAUGHT BY JESUS... 1. Jesus Himself was dependent upon others for support as He went about preaching - Lk 8:1-3 2. In sending out the twelve disciples, He taught that "a worker is worthy of his food" - cf. Mt 10:5-10 3. In sending out the seventy, He said "the laborer is worthy of his wages" - cf. Lk 10:1-8 B. AS TAUGHT BY PAUL... 1. Though for personal reasons he generally chose not to accept it, Paul defended the right of supporting ministers - 1Co 9: 3-14 a. Just as soldiers are not expected to support themselves - 1Co 9:7a b. Just as farmers and shepherds enjoy the fruits of their labors - 1Co 9:b c. Just as the Law illustrated with the command not to muzzle the ox that treads out the grain - 1Co 9:8-10 d. From the principle of reasonableness: if one sows spiritual things, is it a great matter to reap material things? - 1Co 9:11 e. From the example of those serving in the temple who could partake of the offerings on the altar - 1Co 9:13 f. Even the Lord commanded: "Those who preach the gospel should live of the gospel" (perhaps a reference to Mt 10:10 and Lk 10:7) - 1Co 9:14 g. NOTE: Paul chose not to receive such support under normal circumstances for the following reasons... 1) It was one of the few areas in which he could boast - 1Co 9:15 2) He could not boast in preaching the gospel, for he had been divinely commissioned - 1Co 9:16-17 a) He must do it as a steward of Christ b) He had no choice if he were to be saved c) Such is not the case of those who preach today; unless the Lord appeared to us and commanded us to preach (as He did with Paul), it is something we do willingly and thereby have a reason to boast 3) But, that Paul might have a reason to boast, a reward, he freely gave up his right (authority) to receive support in _most_ cases - 1Co 9:18
(however cf. 2 Co 11:7-9; Php 4:10-16) 2. Another passage by Paul suggesting the scripturalness of supporting teachers - Ga 6:6 [With the approval of Jesus and His apostle Paul, there should be no question about the scripturalness of supporting ministers of the gospel. As we return to our text (3Jn 5-8),we find that John gives us six reasons that ought to motivate us to do so...] II. SCRIPTURAL MOTIVATION FOR SUPPORTING MINISTERS A. IT IS A TESTIMONY TO OUR FAITHFULNESS... 1. John wrote of Gaius: "Beloved, you do faithfully..." - 3Jn 5 2. When we show hospitality to brethren (and ministers), it demonstrates our faithfulness to the teachings of Christ and His apostles B. IT IS A TESTIMONY TO OUR LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER... 1. John said of those who had received Gaius' hospitality that they "...had borne witness of your love..." - 3Jn 6a 2. We demonstrate that we are keeping that "new" commandment first given to us by the Lord Himself - cf. Jn 13:34-35 3. In light of the value of such love ("by this all will know..."), we ought to be grateful for opportunities to bear witness of our love for the brethren C. IT HONORS GOD... 1. John makes reference to sending such ministers on their journey "in a manner worthy of God" - 3Jn 6 2. "worthy of God" means "as befits God" 3. Thus the way in which we support ministers of God can be a reflection upon God Himself a. If we do not consider His faithful ministers worthy of support, what do we think of God? b. If we honor and support those servants who faithfully proclaim His Word, it is because we honor and respect the One they serve! D. IT IS A TESTIMONY TO THE LOST... 1. The ones Gaius was encouraged to support were those who were "taking nothing from the Gentiles" - 3Jn 7 a. This likely means they would not solicit support from the unsaved b. Depending instead upon their brethren 2. When ministers of the gospel solicit help from those lost souls they are trying to save, it sends a bad message a. Perhaps the ministers are in it just for the money... b. If what they taught was worth anything, why don't their own followers support it? 3. When the gospel is offered free of cost, being supported whole-heartedly by those who know it best, it can be a powerful testimony of the value _we_ place on it! E. IT OBEYS GOD... 1. John, by inspiration of the Spirit of God, tells us "We therefore _ought_ to receive such" - 3Jn 8a 2. Thus, supporting ministers of the gospel is not only an opportunity, but an obligation! a. Exhorted by Paul in Ga 6:6 b. Exchange of material things for spiritual things considered reasonable by Paul in 1Co 9:11; cf. also Ro 15:26-27 F. IT MAKES ONE A FELLOW WORKER FOR THE TRUTH... 1. As John concludes in verse 8: "that we may become fellow workers for the truth" 2. When we support a teacher, we become co-workers in what they do a. If we support teachers of error, we share in their evil deeds - 2Jn 10-11 b. But when we support teachers of the gospel, we have fellowship in their work - Php 1:3-5; cf. 4:15-16 3. As co-workers, we will one day enjoy the same rewards - cf. Mt 10:40-42 CONCLUSION 1. So we not only have scriptural authority for supporting ministers of the gospel, but many reasons to do so! 2. The rapid spread of the gospel and growth of the early church was facilitated by such people as Gaius, along with... a. Aquila and Priscilla, who allowed the churches to meet in their homes - Ro 15:3-5a; 1Co 16:19 b. Philemon, who let the church meet in his house, and could be called upon without hesitation to provide lodging for the apostle Paul - Phm 1-2, 22 3. Today, as walls tumble down that once stood preventing the free course of the gospel, there is still a need to support those who preach the gospel May the spirit and liberality of Gaius fill the hearts of those Christians and churches who would be fellow workers for the truth!