At the end of John’s 3rd letter he said, “The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.” (3 John 14). Why did John put it this way? Why didn’t he call these Christians brethren, or saints, as others did? He was trying to make a point that the church needed. Three men are mentioned by name in this little book: Gaius, Demetrius and Diotrephes. Gaius was commended by John because he helped faithful, traveling Christian preachers financially, and provided hospitality; Demetrius was likely one of them. Diotrephes was a church leader who loved to be prominent, and refused to help said traveling brothers, even to the point of denying them fellowship. Who do you think proved to be a friend to Christians?
John teaches us that brothers and sisters in Christ must look after each other. He’s also saying that our relationship should develop to the point that we become close, much like friends. Jesus considered his chosen men to be his friends, not just followers. “”I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15). He had shared eternal secrets with them, and treated them special.
You may not feel that you have many true friends in the faith, but it can develop over time. Some people are hard to know, others are difficult. But friendship starts with you. To have friends you must be a friend. Start by doing what John did: “Greet the friends by name.”
– Tim Johnson