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3 John

  • What has stood out to you this term, as we have explored living from the overflow into different spheres of life? (Here's the list of topics to jog your memory:

    • into love

    • into the harvest

    • into homes

    • into relationships

    • into culture

    • into conflict

    • into the wilderness

  • How do you think we can access 'the good' that should overflow it into all of life?

This final study is going to examine the often overlooked 3rd Letter of John, written to "my dear friend Gaius", a church leader about whom we know almost nothing outside of this very short letter. We will use it as a case study of people Living from the Overflow (or not!)


Read 3 John 1-8

  • The Elder describes Gaius as 'faithful to the truth' and 'walking in the truth'. What do you think he means by this?

  • He also describes Gaius as 'faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters' showing them love and hospitality. How are these actions the outworking of Gaius' faithfulness to the truth?

  • How does a life lived out of the overflow of 'the truth' end up looking?

  • What about us today? How do our relationships with God overflow into love and care for others?

    • Consider especially how we can offer welcome and show hospitality to strangers in our own context. What might this look like in our homes, at our church gatherings, or in other situations?

    • Do you find it hard to do this? Share tips and ideas with one another on practical and achievable ways we can offer welcome and hospitality as an expression of God's love.


Read 3 John 9-15

  • What can we infer in these verses about Diotrephes and Demetrius?

  • How is Diotrephes different to Gaius? What happens when a life is lived without accessing the 'overflow' of the truth?

Spend a moment meditating on the profound words in verse 11. (You could read it in a couple of different translations; underline all the key words; circle all the repeated words/concepts; rewrite it in your own words; draw pictures/diagrams; etc.) [1]

  • What is God saying to you in this verse right now?

  • Is there a particular aspect of 'what is good' that you want to 'imitate' in the next few weeks? If so, share it with the group, write it down, and hold one another accountable.


[1] John Stott writes this about verse 11:

Perhaps he is anxious lest even Gaius should be influenced by Diotrephes. So he writes: Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Everybody is an imitator. It is natural for us to look up to other people as our model and to copy them. This is all right, ‘the elder’ seems to be saying, but Gaius must choose his model carefully. Diotrephes will not do, for instance. Gaius must ‘not imitate evil but imitate good’ (RSV), and John adds the reason. It is not just because of the effect which our copying others has on our behaviour, but because of the evidence which everybody’s behaviour supplies of their spiritual condition. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God... The true Christian may be described both as being from God (cf. 1 John 4:4, 6) and as having seen God (cf. 1 John 3:6). Birth of God and the vision of God are to some extent equivalent. He who has been born of God has come, with the inner eye of faith, to see God. And this vision of God deeply affects his behaviour. To do good is to give evidence of a divine birth; to do evil is to prove that one has never seen God.

John R. .W. Stott, Tyndale Commentary Vol. 19: John's Letters, p236.

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