Monday, 6 July 2020
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 John -4
The Greek of the previous verse showed where the articles should rightly be placed. It said, “For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in truth.” There was an article before the first instance of truth, but not one before the second. John now says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” In this, manuscripts vary. Some say, “in truth,” while others say, “in the truth.” It would be improbable that John said one and then another. Therefore, it is likely that he again says, “walk in truth.” The verse will be evaluated as such.
He begins with, “I have no greater joy.” There is an emphasis on the word “greater,” as it begins the verse in the Greek. It should be kept in that order to highlight this emphasis –
“Greater joy than these, I do not have.” John is placing the joy he will next explain as the highest joy he could possess while in this life. And that joy is “to hear that my children walk in truth.” The verb is actually a present participle, and it should be translated that way. Thus, it would say, “that my children are walking in truth.” It is a right-now, active process.
It is one thing to hear that your children walk in truth, which could mean from time to time, and it is another thing to know that they are walking in truth, which means right at this moment. The verbs are carefully selected to show what is truly pleasing to John concerning them. In this, he calls them “my children.” This probably shows that he is speaking of those he personally led to Christ. If so, then Gaius would be reckoned among them. The thought then mirrors what Paul said to those at Corinth –
“I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.” 1 Corinthians 4:14-16
There and elsewhere, a spiritual father/child relationship is recognized by Paul concerning those he had personally evangelized. In this, a father wants what is best for his children, and he will rejoice along with them when they are living properly. This is what John is now expressing to Gaius as his greatest joy. To be walking in the truth means that he is living in the sphere of what he had first been introduced to, without straying from the path of sound doctrine found in Christ. John is well-pleased with this situation in his beloved Gaius and any others who also faithfully walked.
Life application: John was commissioned as an Apostle of Jesus Christ. He walked with the Lord, learned from Him, saw His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, saw Him hailed as “the Son of David” on Palm Sunday, and watched Him crucified a few days later. He was given personal charge of Jesus’ mother as He was dying on the cross.
After the sadness of the burial came the glorious memory of the resurrection. He stood on the Mount of Olives as Jesus ascended to the right hand of God. All of these things he personally beheld and participated in. Therefore, when someone heard John’s words and accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior, John certainly rejoiced. But he had no greater joy than that those converts continued to walk faithfully in the truth of the gospel.
This encompasses the entire life experience for each person. In other words, the Great Commission was fulfilled in that person’s life. This was not only to “make disciples” and “baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” but also to “teach them to observe all things.” This is what brought John that great joy – that the gospel message would be continued on through them and not die out or be distorted.
John, being old and unsure of the timing of the Lord’s plan, could feel satisfied that what was given to him was safely passed on to others. And the stream of faithful transmission has been carried on through the ages, even until today. Despite the tricks of the devil and the deceit of deceivers, the truth is both available and flourishing in the world. Hallelujah!
Yes, Lord! Hallelujah and Amen! To know that Your gospel message has been safely protected and transmitted throughout the ages is a blessing to the people of the world. We know that we have a sure and firm foundation in the pages of the Bible and also from the mouths of those who properly and tenderly pass it on to others. Amen.