Tuesday, February 2, 2010

fellow workers for the truth

missions For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

3 John 7-8

Here, in one of the shortest books of the Bible, a case is made for the support of gospel workers. These early evangelists and what we might call missionaries were called by God to move into new regions to proclaim the truth of the gospel. We can look to the ministry of the apostle Paul for more detail.  He appears to not have been alone in this type of gospel work.

John makes several things clear about this kind of gospel work. First, they have “gone out”. They left familiar territory, home, and home church and went somewhere else for the express purpose of proclaiming the truth of the gospel. Secondly, they were called. The phrase “for the sake of the name” makes it clear that God is the high purpose behind all their efforts. This is not just a career choice, nor is it a two week travel chance sanctioned as a holy vacation. They were answering the leading of God by going forward with the gospel and were doing so at great risk, leaving everything behind, including financial means in a subsistence culture.

Thirdly, they were self-supporting and relied on believers for gifts of support and hospitality. They did not take funds from those not yet believers (that is what the phrase “accepting nothing from the Gentiles” is all about). John urges and commend Gaius as he continues in his hospitality and support of these efforts. The church was obligated to assist these who had dedicated themselves to the gospel message.

Finally, John saw their work as supporting the broad work of the apostles as well. He joins their ministry with his ministry by calling them “fellow workers”. Those who respond to God’s call to take the gospel to new people groups are doing the work that Jesus Himself gave the apostles to do in the Great Commissions (Matthew 28:19-20). We still actively persist in this today. And support of this kind of gospel work is still the call of the individual believer.

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