The Geographical Context of 3 John

Thanks for visiting Bible Mountain. This is the fourth in a series of lessons on The Third Letter of John. Watch the video or scroll down to read the transcript. In this lesson I explain the geographical context of 3 John.


Hi, thanks for watching Bible Mountain. This is the fourth lesson in a series of lessons on The Third Letter of John. 

In the first lesson we learned that The Third Letter of John is a letter about how Christians should treat other Christians who are strangers, and/or engaged in evangelism. 

In the second lesson we learned that Third John is part of a collection of letters that were written by various church leaders to Christians and other churches. 

In the third lesson we learned that Third John is one of the last portions of Scripture that was written. This means the instructions in Third John apply to our lives today.

In this lesson, I’m going to talk about the geographical context of Third John. 

If we look at a map of the world, we see Europe and Africa in the middle. Off to the right, or to the east, we see Asia and Australia. Off to the left, or to the west, we see North and South America. 

If you study overall world history you will see that the earliest civilizations in history were found in Egypt and Mesopotamia. We have solid written and archaeological evidence that places the start of those civilizations around 2500 BC. 

Later, between 2000 BC and 1500 BC, civilization arose in India and China. Later still, civilization arose in Greece after 1000 BC. Civilization arose in Britain after 0 BC. Eventually civilization went to North and South America, and Australia. 

As I said, civilization started in Egypt and Mesopotamia. That is an area of the world known as the Middle East. The events recorded in the Bible took place in the Middle East and in the area known as the Mediterranean world. 

The Middle East has always been an important part of the world because the Middle East is the area of the world where the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa all come together and meet each other. The Middle East is the crossroads between those three continents. Since it is a crossroads, it is an important area of land to control. 

As I said, the Middle East is where the events in the Bible took place, so let’s take a closer look at this area. If we look at a map of the modern Middle East, we see Egypt in the lower left. Egypt is in Africa. We see Turkey in the upper left. Turkey is the gateway into Europe. Off to the right we see Iran. Iran is the gateway over to Asia. In between those three countries we see Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. These are the countries of the modern Middle East. This is the area of land where the events recorded in the Old Testament took place. 

The Old Testament tells us about events that took place between the creation of the world and 400 BC. All during that time span the dominant world powers were in Egypt and the Mesopotamian Valley. The Mesopotamian Valley is in what we know today as Iraq. Those civilizations, those great empires were founded on important rivers. In Egypt, it was the Nile River. In Mesopotamia it was the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. 

Between the Old Testament and the New Testament, there was a major shift westward. Between 400 BC and 300 BC Greece became the dominant world power. Alexander the Great was from Greece. He conquered the entire Middle East. After Greece declined, Rome became the dominant world power. By the time of the birth of Christ, Rome had conquered the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East. The New Testament reflects that geographical shift. The events in the New Testament are centered around the Mediterranean world, not the Middle East. 

If we look at a map of the modern eastern Mediterranean world we see Italy in the upper left. We see Greece in the upper middle and Turkey in the upper right. Below Turkey, or south of Turkey, we see Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel. The first four books of the New Testament are the four gospels which tell us about the life of Jesus. Other than a little bit of time in Egypt, Jesus spent His life in the area we know today as Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. That is where He conducted His ministry. 

After Jesus rose from the dead and before He ascended to heaven, He gave His apostles a commission to go out and tell the whole world about Him. The book of Acts tells us what the apostles did as they started going out and telling the world about Jesus. First, the apostles went to people in the area around Jerusalem and Israel. Then they took the message up to the area we know today as Syria, Cyprus, and Turkey. Then they took the message into areas we know today as Greece and Italy. As the apostles were going out and sharing the gospel, various church leaders wrote letters to Christians and other churches giving instruction on how we should live our lives. Third John is one of those letters. 

This process of taking the gospel message to the whole world continues today. You and I, as Christians in the 21st century, are part of the process of taking the gospel message to the world. The Third Letter of John is one of the letters, one of the books of the Bible, that was written to give us instruction on how we should conduct ourselves as humans, and as Christians, as we take this message to the world. We need to read, study, and learn The Third Letter of John because it contains instructions that Jesus expects us to know and follow.

Thanks again for visiting Bible Mountain. I greatly appreciate you spending some of your valuable time watching my videos and reading my articles. In the next lesson I will start going through Third John verse by verse and talk about the author and recipient of Third John. If you haven’t already done so, please join either my email list or my Patreon Page in order to make sure you receive that lesson as well as all of the future lessons in this series.

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Scripture quotations from 3 John taken from a translation by Bible Mountain.

“All other Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission.” (