July 17th 2010

No Help From Pagans

7th in a series based on 3 John

“…they went out, receiving no help from the pagans…”
3 John 7 (NIV)

Reading 3 John is like walking in midway through a movie. A lot has been happening before you get there.

John is writing to his friend, Gaius, whom he had probably baptised. Gaius had been sent to help some brothers in the faith whom he did not know. They, in turn, were commissioned with a specific task, presumably gospel related. Now we read that as they did this, they received no help from the pagans.

Lots of questions remain unanswered. With what church was Gaius involved? Who were these strangers to whom he was sent? What was the message he gave them? Where did the strangers go? Who were the pagans, and why did they not help?

When we first read the passage above it appears that the pagans did not offer any help. The original text does not imply this. Rather it is better translated, “not taking any help from the pagans”. As missionaries, those sent out did not want to impose on the non-Christians to whom they would preach Christ.

Therefore, says, John, it is the church’s responsibility to offer the missionaries hospitality and to support them. It was a bit like what happens today with church funding. Financing and supporting the church in mission comes from believers. “We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men”, John instructs (v 8). Elsewhere, in discussing how believers should provide for the church in mission, Paul had written, “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14).

Not everyone agreed with what John had to say, as we’ll see soon in this unravelling story. Some opposed his every word.

John’s view, however is clear. Let’s support those who do the work of salvation.

Father, our prayers are with the church as it goes out with its mission to the world. We pray for the church that it may be more than adequately supported and funded in order to continue the mission of Jesus Christ. In his name.

Study by James Henderson 

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