Thursday, 9 July 2020
…because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. 3 John -7
To get the whole sense of John’s words, the context of the entire thought should be considered –
“Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, 6 who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, 7 because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles.” 3 John 1:5-7
John explains why it is good to send these missionaries forward on their journey in a manner that would be worthy of God. It is “because they went forth for His name’s sake.” It is a rather unfortunate translation, following along after the archaic KJV and not correcting their translation. The Greek reads, “for the sake of the Name.”
The force of the statement is pretty much ruined in the translation. As noted in the introduction to the book of 3 John, this is the only book in the New Testament where the name “Jesus” is not used. Instead, John says, “the Name.” It could be that by stating this, he was keeping the recipient from persecution if the letter was obtained by a person hostile to the faith.
For whatever reason, to say the simple words “the Name” is to identify Christ with the Lord of the Old Testament. Just as any Jewish believer would understand the title to refer to Jehovah, so any believer in Christ would understand this to refer to the Incarnate Lord, Jesus Christ. Thus, it is a direct reference to the fact that Jesus is God, as “God” is the nearest antecedent in verse 6.
It is the same thought reflected elsewhere in the New Testament, such as –
“They, therefore, left the Sanhedrin and went their way, rejoicing that they had been deemed worthy to suffer disgrace on behalf of the NAME.” Acts 5:41 (Weymouth)
These missionaries didn’t just go forward in the name of “God.” Rather, they went forward bearing the Name of Jesus Christ. And, it is in that Name that they made their proclamation to others. In this, John then finishes with, “taking nothing from the Gentiles.”
The word translated as “taking” signifies “accepting.” They would not accept help from those they ministered to, meaning “the Gentiles.” The word translated as “Gentiles” is ethnikos. It is an adjective used only in Matthew (three times) and in this verse. It especially refers to a non-Israelite, and thus a pagan.
The missionaries had taken the message out into the pagan world, doing exactly as Jesus commanded in Matthew 28 –
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20
The message went out from the Jewish believers to the Gentiles. From there, both Jew and Gentile continued to spread the message further. The words of John here clearly demonstrate that the teaching of hyperdispensationalism – which says there are two gospels, one to the Jew and one to the Gentile – is a false and heretical teaching. John makes no distinction between the gospel that was first brought to the church he is addressing and to the gospel that went forth to the nations from them. There is one church that is made up of both Jew and Gentile, and that one church proclaims one gospel to all people.
Life application: It is one thing to help people out that are passing through the area where you live who simply need a hand. Maybe there is a flat tire, or maybe they are on their way to visit an ailing relative and are facing financial trouble getting there. This would be a completely different issue to John than when someone is going forth for the sake of the Name of God, and specifically the Name of Jesus Christ. Such people are worthy of being sent out in a fitting and respectable manner because their duties are the most important in all of human existence.
To this day, missionaries generally receive all of their support from other Christians so as not to impose any burden on those they are ministering to. Because of this, the message of the gospel will simply never go forward without the prayer, financial, and logistical support of other believers.
These past three verses together form a sound and logical reason for supporting mission causes and ensuring that missionaries receive all the support necessary to accomplish their tasks to the glory of God. Let us remember this as we give to the mission budget in our churches.
Yes, Heavenly Father! May our hearts be geared towards the care of our faithful missionaries as they go forth and spread the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ to an unbelieving world! Even if our financial ability is limited, our prayer ability is not. And so, Lord, give us the desire to keep these faithful servants in prayer, along with any financial help we can provide. To Your honor and glory we pray. Amen.