The Visiting Preacher John Phillips March 1, 2004 3 John 3-8 A. Recognizing him (v. 5) “Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers.” John is still commending Gaius, but he shifts the focus slightly. He has in mind now the itinerant evangelist, sometimes a man not well known, who can use all the help he can get. Gaius had a reputation of being a friend to all such, evidently regarding as a sacred duty to extend help and hospitality to visiting preachers. And he was faithful in discharging this duty, recognizing all such. The well-known visiting preachers and those he had never met before – one and all found a warm welcome with Gaius. The strangers, of course, would be put to the test at the door, but once their credentials were verified, they would be invited in, their feet washed, a guest room put at their disposal, and an extra plate put on the table. B. Refreshing him (vv. 6-7) 1. A privilege extended (v. 6) John now points to a privilege extended, underlining the importance of ministering to those who have given their lives to ministering to others: “Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well” (v. 6). Gaius evidently seized every opportunity to show the love of Christ to these visiting preachers, and they appreciated his hospitality, telling of his helpfulness wherever they went in their travels. Gaius himself appears to have been a very ordinary person. His name means “of the earth,” and as we would put it, he was a “down-to-earth” sort of person. The Lord could have said of him what He said of the woman in the house of Simon of Bethany: “She hath done what she could” (Mark 14:8). Gaius had a true pastor’s heart, noted not only because he championed the truth but also because his heart was full of love. The Lord has many such. In many years of traveling across Canada and the United States and to other countries, I have been royally helped by many a present-day Gaius. Great will be their reward in heaven. 2. A principle extolled (v. 7) John points also to a principle extolled: “Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles” (v. 7). These visiting preachers deserve to be helped. John had in mind those who had no visible means of support, those who lived by faith, looking to the Lord to meet their needs, determined to accept financial aid from other believers, not from the unsaved. When I was a boy growing up in Britain, my father had a small automobile business. He bought and sold and repaired cars, had a garage, a workshop, a showroom, and some gasoline pumps. He was not a wealthy person, but we lived comfortably. Then came the war. Overnight his business was practically wiped out. The government commandeered private cars for the military, spare parts vanished off the market, gasoline was severely rationed. The only people who could drive cars were those on essential war work. Still, my father struggled on, and the Lord saw to it that he had sufficient customers – farmers and the like – so that we survived. And he was a true Gaius. His hospitality was proverbial. One missionary family sat at our table every Sunday for years, despite the stringent food rationing. I can think of a number of traveling preachers who headed for my father’s workshop whenever they were passing through town. Two of them, particularly, stand out in my mind. Both of them were poor, both had ramshackle old cars, always in need of repair work, always nearly out of gas. And both of them always seemed to arrive at mealtime. Neither of them was sent away empty. My father fixed their cars for them and, out of his own small allowance of gas, filled up their tanks. My mother performed miracles, multiplying loaves and fishes so that these preacher friends could go on their way well fed. And my dad always left a sizable wad of banknotes in their hands with his parting handshake. Often, we had a Spartan meal or two afterward. But that was my dad. He ought to have been called Gaius. Great is his reward now in heaven, and great is my mother’s reward as well. C. Receiving him (v. 8) “We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow helpers to the truth.” It is the responsibility of believers to support those who are full-time workers in ministry. There is no place in the New Testament for the practice, common enough in our day, of shamelessly begging for money. Saint and sinner alike are besieged with requests to give to this “ministry” and that. We are the ones whom God calls upon to be His “fellow-helpers,” receiving and supporting those who have given themselves to the ministry. The word used for “fellow-helper” is sunergos, and Paul used it of Apollos, one of his colleagues in the Lord’s work: “We are laborers together [sunergos],” he said (1 Cor. 3:9). Paul planted, Apollos watered, God gave the increase – and an army of people like Gaius lent a helping hand. _____________________ Adapted from Exploring the Epistles of John: An Expository Commentary by John Phillips. Used by permission of Kregel Publications. The John Phillips Commentary Series from Kregel is available at your local or online Christian bookseller, or contact Kregel at (800) 733-2607. _____________________ John Phillips received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Luther Rice Seminary. He served as assistant director of the Moody Correspondence School as well as director of the Emmaus Correspondence School, one of the world’s largest Bible correspondence ministries. He also taught in the Moody Evening School and on Moody Broadcasting radio network. 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