What Does 3 John 1:11 Mean?

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God. 3 John 1:11(NASB)

Verse Thoughts
John’s brief correspondence to the beloved Gaius, must have given this Christian brother great encouragement. Gaius was a mature believer in Christ who walked in sincerity and truth, as led by the Spirit of God. And John, the elderly apostle, rejoiced with great joy that Gaius.. who was obviously his ‘son in the faith’, was walking in spirit and in truth.

John rejoiced to receive good tidings of this Christian brother, who was acting faithfully in his ministry role and was fruitful in his various endeavours. Gaius was a man that showed kindness and hospitality to Christian brothers and strangers alike. This practical outworking of his faith demonstrated Christian love in action, as he ‘gossiped’ the gospel of grace with all he met… and sent travelling preachers on their journey, in a way that honoured the Lord.

This man’s gracious hospitably was enjoyed by many Christian brothers as well as travellers and set a good example to others. But there were those in the congregation who displayed an entirely different spirit, and John felt it necessary to publicly expose those who displayed such hostility and to warn Gaius, and others, of the dangers of fellowshiping with such people.

So after praising Gaius for his loving hospitality, John called out Diotrephes because of his unchristian attitude and behaviour, which dishonoured the Lord and discredited the Gospel of Christ. John knew it was necessary to name this man because of his prideful boasts, ungodly attitude, and critical spirit.

Diotrephes, who was jealous of John, elevated himself as an elder in the church and tried to discredit both the apostle, with malicious gossip, and his fellow-labourers in the Lord. Not only did Diotrephes seek preeminence within the church, but it seems that he even tried to tarnish John’s apostolic authority by withholding information, sent from John. He was also disrespectful and discourteous to those who delivered John’s greetings. “For this reason, if I come,” John wrote, “I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words… and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren either, and forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.”

While the beloved apostle rejoiced greatly about Gaius’ faithful work, his sincere testimony to the truth, and the love, friendship, and grace, he demonstrated to his Christian brothers and sisters, John needed to warn him about men like Diotrephes, and to exhort him not to follow his ungodly ways and teach him the godly way to live. “Beloved,” John wrote to Gaius, “do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God but the one who does evil has not seen God.”

While John gives great encouragement to his fellow-believers, who read his epistle, he also provides some serious warning for all born-again believers about the dangers of narcissistic people in the Church, who display a spirit of control – the spirit of Jezebel. “Precious people,” he pleads, “do not pattern your behaviour on what is evil, but model yourself on everything that is righteous, pure, holy, and good.”

Paul had a deep love for this beloved brother, and felt called to expose the egotistical person in their congregation, and warn Gaius not to entertain men like Diotrephes. Instead, he encourages him to practice doing good, by exhibiting a godly character, moral courage, and personal integrity, which only comes from God – while the one who engages in evil, like Diotrephes, has no personal experience of God. 

John identified Diotrephes, as a man who had succumbed to fleshly temptations and the carnal allures of the world, through selfish pride, ambition, and a lust for pre-eminence, through ecclesiastical suppression of God’s people. This behaviour prompted John to implore Gaius not to copy the evil conduct of people like Diotrephes, but to imitate that which is good, and to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, and lovely.

As children of God, we are to be like our heavenly Father in thought, word, and deed. We who are born of the Spirit are to be kind and merciful. We are to reflect the character and attributes of our Father in heaven Who is tender-hearted, long-suffering, full of kindness, and of great goodness. We are to show respect to others, exhibit hospitality, and grow in grace… but we are also to shun evil and are not to be intimidated by those that elevate themselves through browbeating their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Godly love for our brothers in Christ, is a demonstration of the grace of God, the love of Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, to whomsoever we come in contact. It is only through the strength of Christ, and the supernatural power of the indwelling Spirit, that we are enabled to do the good and eschew the evil – for the one who does good IS of God while the one who does evil IS NOT of God.

May we, who have passed from death to life, love others as Christ loved us, and imitate the grace of God in our lives, knowing that the one who does good is of God, while the one who does evil has not seen God.

My Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank You for the witness of godly men like the apostle John, and examples of spirituality like Gaius, who walked in sincerity and truth as led by the Spirit of God. I pray that I may follow in their footsteps and do only those things that are righteous in Your eyes. Help me to eschew evil, and keep me from being influenced by the ungodly practices of the world. I pray that I may reflect the beauty and goodness of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, so that His name may be glorified through my life. This I ask in Jesus’ name, AMEN.


Bible References

11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

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