John warned the Saints about people who deceive and preach that Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh. He also praised Gaius for his faithfulness.
Note: This lesson includes a teaching suggestion for 3 John that involves students receiving letters from parents or Church leaders. If you choose to use this teaching suggestion, you will need to prepare several days in advance. Invite the parents or, if needed, local Church leaders of each student to write a short letter to the student expressing the joy they have felt as they have seen the student’s efforts to live the gospel. Make sure you have a letter for each student from his or her parents or a Church leader on the day you teach this lesson.
Name a well-known athlete who is familiar to most students.
What might this athlete do to stay in peak health to perform well?
What could happen if this athlete, after working hard to get in shape, stopped going to the gym and began eating junk food, watching a lot of TV, playing video games, and taking substances that are harmful to the body?
Invite students to consider how the work that successful athletes must do to preserve their peak physical condition can be compared to the work that Church members must do to preserve the blessings they have obtained through the gospel. Invite them to look for a principle as they study 2 John that can help them preserve the blessings they have obtained as Church members.
Summarize 2 John 1:1–4 by explaining that the Apostle John began his epistle by addressing “the elect lady and her children,” which may have been either a direct address to a female Church member and her children or symbolic language to describe a Church congregation.
Invite a student to read 2 John 1:5–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the commandment that John reminded the Saints about.
What commandment did John remind the Saints about?
Why did John counsel Church members to obey the commandments?
What were the “deceivers” (verse 7) teaching?
Explain that when John wrote this epistle, a philosophy known as Docetism was gaining popularity. Docetists believed that God was so exalted that He was above suffering, death, or any other mortal experience. Therefore, they concluded that Jesus Christ as the Son of God did not actually come in the flesh but that His spirit only seemed to do things that a mortal would do or experience.
What are some examples of false teachings in our day that contradict the truths of the gospel?
Why are these teachings spiritually dangerous?
Invite a student to read 2 John 1:8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what John counseled Church members to do in light of these false teachings. Explain that to “look to yourselves” means to be watchful or careful not to adopt false teachings and that wrought can mean performed or acquired (see 2 John 1:8, footnote a).
What principle can we learn from John’s teachings in verses 6–8 about how we can continue to enjoy the gospel blessings we have received? (Using their own words, students should identify a principle similar to the following: As we keep the commandments and are watchful, we can continue to enjoy the gospel blessings we have received. Write this principle on the board.)
Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals a list of gospel blessings they have already received or hope to receive. Ask them to share what they wrote with the class. Write their responses on the board.
How could adopting false teachings prevent us from obtaining and continuing to enjoy these gospel blessings?
Invite a student to read 2 John 1:9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what John taught would happen to those who abide in the doctrine of Christ, or remain close to and endure in the gospel.
What do those who abide in the doctrine of Christ have with them? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we abide in the doctrine of Christ, we will have the Father and the Son with us.)
Point out that one way we have the Father and the Son with us is through the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
Ask students to ponder their efforts to keep the commandments, to be watchful, and to abide in the gospel. Invite them to write down why they want to preserve the blessings they have received through the gospel and one thing they will do today to be more faithful and consistent in keeping the commandments.
Summarize 2 John 1:10–13 by explaining that John encouraged the Saints to avoid people who spread false doctrine. He also expressed his desire to personally visit the Saints he was writing to.
Bring to class a small pebble and a large bowl full of water. Ask a student to drop the pebble into the water without making any ripples.
Why is it impossible for the water to remain unchanged by the pebble?
Who else besides yourself can be positively affected by your choice to live the gospel?
Explain that as recorded in 3 John, John addressed a faithful member of the Church named Gaius.
Invite a student to read 3 John 1:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how John was affected by Gaius’s faithfulness in living the gospel. Explain that children in verse 4 may refer to Church members whom John had helped convert to the gospel.
How was John affected by Gaius’s faithfulness in living the gospel?
How would you summarize a truth from these verses about how living the gospel can affect ourselves and others? (Students may identify a variety of truths, but make sure they identify a truth similar to the following: Living the gospel brings joy not only to ourselves but to others.)
When have you experienced joy because someone else faithfully lived the gospel?
To further illustrate this truth, if you chose to have parents or Church leaders write letters to students, hand out those letters at this time. Make sure each student has a letter from his or her parents or a Church leader, and allow students time to read the letters.
Summarize 3 John 1:5–14 by explaining that John praised Gaius for his willingness to receive traveling Church leaders or missionaries, and he criticized a local leader named Diotrephes, who did not receive John and his companions.
Review the truths identified in this lesson. Testify of these truths, and invite students to apply them in their lives.