‘The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.’
Here we have sketched for us the character of a most remarkable man.
I. His religious character.—‘Beloved,’ says St. John, ‘I wish concerning all things that thou mayest prosper, and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.’ The strength of his religious character, and the growing strength of that character—for the word ‘prosper’ means to advance—is the first point to be noticed. It was so sound and wholesome that his best friend, in his best wishes, could not wish anything better for him than that his outward life, and perhaps his physical health, might be up to the mark of, and correspond to, his religious condition. Do you think that anybody that wanted to invoke a very large measure of worldly prosperity on your head would say, ‘I wish your fortunes may prosper as your religion is prospering?’ Is it not far more often the case that Christian people have these two kinds of progress and prosperity in an inverse ratio?
II. His outward life moulded by Christian truth.—St. John’s Epistle goes on to say, ‘I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified to the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.’ ‘The truth’ means here neither more nor less than the whole sum of the revelation of God, which St. John had had entrusted to him, and had given to Gaius. It is all gathered up in the one Person Who is Himself the Incarnate Truth; and to ‘walk in the truth’ means neither more nor less than that the outward life, that is, the walk, the external activity of a man, should be in the truth, as it were, the path that is traced out, ‘which God hath before ordained that we should walk in it.’
III. His Christian service.—‘Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers.’ A handful of Christian messengers had come from the Apostle to the Church with which Gaius was connected. There was hesitation in that Church to receive them; some of the members would not have anything to say to them. Gaius took in the strangers because they were brethren, and received them ‘after a godly sort.’