The Third Letter of St. John
The Third Letter of John preserves a brief glimpse into the problems of missionary activity and local autonomy in the early church. In contrast to the other two letters of John, this work was addressed to a specific individual, Gaius. This brief letter and the situation that it mirrors show us how little we know about some details of early development in the church: schools of opinion existed around which questions of faith and life were discussed, and personal ties as well as doctrine and authority played a role in what happened amid divisions and unity.
Excerpts from Third John:
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The Third Letter of St. John:
 Who loves to dominate: the Presbyter does not deny Diotrephes’ place as leader but indicates that his ambition may have caused him to disregard his letter and his influence.
 If I come: the Presbyter may visit the community to challenge the actions of Diotrephes toward himself and the missionaries. Will not receive the brothers: Diotrephes may have been critical of the teachings of the Presbyter and sought to maintain doctrinal purity; cf. 1 Jn 2:19 and 2 Jn 10–11.
 Do not imitate evil: Gaius should not be influenced by the behavior of Diotrephes.
 Demetrius: because of the fear of false teachers, Demetrius, perhaps the bearer of the letter, is provided with a recommendation from the Presbyter; cf. 2 Cor 3:1; Rom 16:1. Even from the truth itself: this refers probably to the manner of Demetrius’s life that testifies to his true belief; cf. Gaius above (3 Jn 3).