The Legacy Of Discipleship: A Legacy Of Blessing The Congregation

Bible Book: 3 John 
Subject: Discipleship
Series: Discipleship

In “Becoming A Christ-Centered Disciple-Making Church” Let’s Consider...

“10. The Legacy Of Discipleship:

A Legacy Of Blessing The Congregation”

Text: 3 John

Theme – Purpose - Introduction

Theme: We come now to the conclusion of our series, “Becoming A Christ-Centered, Disciple-Making Church.” Our starting point was the “Lesson Of Discipleship” from the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5 thru 7. Then we considered the “Life Of Discipleship” using Andrew as our case study. Now we’re dealing with the “Legacy Of Discipleship.” In the so-called “Great Commission” of Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15, we saw the legacy of bringing converts. Our final study takes us to the 3rd epistle of John, as we consider the legacy of blessing the congregation.

Purpose: Our one enduring purpose throughout this series has been to guide individual believers as well as our entire church towards becoming Christ-centered disciple-making disciples. We are to be Christ-centered, “that in all things He might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18) and disciple-making because that is what Jesus commanded, i.e. “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19 NIV). In this concluding lesson, I want to show, from the 3rd epistle of John, how that those who pursue this goal become a source of blessing to the church.

Introduction: The writer of this short epistle was the apostle John, the brother of James. In his gospel account, he never referred to himself by name, but as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2; 21:7; 21:20). As Albert Barnes remarked, “The fact that the name of the writer is not affixed to the Epistles is much in the manner of John.” John has a consistent relationship with our study in that he was there to hear the Sermon on the Mount, and in all probability it was John who accompanied Andrew on that first day that they followed the Lord. Furthermore, John had heard Jesus present the Great Commission in Matthew 28.

When we come to Third John, some sixty years have passed since Jesus articulated the Great Commission. According to Adam Clarke, the beloved disciple John is now “generally supposed to be about ninety, and therefore he uses the term ‘elder’ (vs. 1), not as the name of an office, but as designating his advanced age.” As we read this epistle we soon realize that it revolves around three men with whom the elder John was acquainted, all of whom seem to have been active disciples within a local church. A writer named J. M. Gibbon said, “that in the drama of life the scenery shifts and the draperies change, but the plot is the same and the characters the same. This is true; and because of this the most ancient history is in its essentials the story of today. Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius are ancient names, but modern characters.” The spiritual descendants of these three men are found in virtually every church, their spiritual legacy is evident in nearly every congregation.

Main Message

A. In Gaius We See The Legacy Of Truth In A Disciple

It is uncertain whether the Gaius to whom John wrote his third epistle is identical with any of those mentioned in connection with the ministry of Paul. What is certain is that this man embraced truth in his life. Verse 2 indicates that Gaius was spiritually healthy, and it brought great joy to John “when the brethren came and testified of the truth that” was in Gaius (vs. 3). It’s also certain that this man exhibited truth in his love. The brethren said that Gaius walked in truth (vs. 3), but they also bore witness of his charity (vs. 6). Because of these qualities, Gaius was a disciple whom John loved.

B. In Diotrephes We See The Legacy Of Transgression In A Disciple

In contrast to the spiritual legacy of blessing and the loving heart of Gaius, Diotrephes’ legacy was a malicious ambition that is burdensome to any church. John uses such strong terms to describe Diotrephes that it may be a stretch to even call him a disciple, however it seems clear that he was part of the church and had a leadership role, for he was casting some “out of the church” (vs. 10). If he was saved, there was clearly sin in this man’s life. The transgression is seen in his works, for John said, “I will remember his deeds which he doeth” (vs. 10). Furthermore, the transgression is seen in his words. John said that he was “prating against us with malicious words.”

C. In Demetrius We See The Legacy Of A Testimony In A Disciple

When we encounter transgression in the church such as is seen in Diotrephes, John’s advice was “follow not that which is evil, but that which is good” (vs. 11). John then mentions a third man in this epistle, a truly good man and exemplary disciple. There is one other Demetrius in the scriptures, a silversmith at Ephesus who incited a riot against Paul in Acts 19. If this is the same person, then at some point he had become a disciple of Jesus, for John said in verse 12 that he had a good testimony and a “good report of all men.” And he had a genuine testimony, for John said, “we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true” (vs. 12).


What is a disciple? The Amy Foundation has defined a disciple as “an obedient follower of Jesus Christ who is actively engaged in making disciples by teaching obedience to everything Jesus commanded in self, family, congregation, and neighborhood.” Similarly, in his series “Greater Men And Women Of The Bible,” James Hastings wrote that “disciple” is “the term consistently used ... to mark the individual relationship existing between Christ and His followers.”

Many who heard the Sermon on the Mount and the Great Commission undoubtedly became disciples. Andrew, Simon Peter, and John were certainly disciples of Jesus. We can’t be as certain about Diotrephes, but we definitely include Gaius and Demetrius among the disciples of Jesus. All of these disciples were a source of blessing in the church. As we come to the conclusion of this series, let’s each ask ourselves another question: “Am I a disciple of the Lord Jesus?” Am I an obedient, productive follower of the Lord who seeks to be a channel of blessing in my congregation? May God help us as we continue our individual and corporate quest in “Becoming A Christ-Centered Disciple-Making Church.” Amen.