Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religion, New Testament PhD

First Advisor

Robert M. Johnston

Second Advisor

Oystein S. LaBianca

Third Advisor

W. Larry Richards


Problem. This investigation focuses on social dynamics in the third epistle of John. In the context of 3 John hospitality and patronage seem to be opposed as two non-compatible models of behavior. In what sense they are different and what makes them non compatible in a church setting is the main focus of this research.

Method. A social approach is utilized in this investigation for the purpose of understanding the social system, values, and circumstances that shaped the events of 3 John. I first collect evidence to explain the ancient customs of hospitality and patronage in order to create a model for each. In the final step I contrast the two models. This exercise helps to visualize the differences and non-compatibility between the two models.

Results. Hospitality is a host-guest relationship between non-kin individuals who deferentially alternate their roles by practicing balanced reciprocity, which brings them into a state of equality. On the other hand, patronage is a reciprocal patron-client relationship based on social inequality of the parties involved, where the patron uses his power to benefit his client as well as to benefit himself through that relationship, and the client looks for ways to satisfy his own needs, while being of use to his patron. Traditional ancient hospitality included an element of subordination of the host to the guest, as well as deference of the parties to each other. Patronage, however, selfishly exploits another person for the purpose of domination.

Conclusion. In 3 John, Gaius has modeled hospitality and is encouraged to continue doing so. On the other hand, Diotrephes has followed patronage and his actions are condemned. The Elder wants to help avoid all the conflicts and power issues that result from the inequality inherent inpatronal relationships. That is why he recommends traditional hospitality as a relationship of equality which increases networking, cultivates deference of the parties involved, and produces a healthy local church. In that sense 3 John presents the model of hospitality versus the model of patronage.

Subject Area

Hospitality in the Bible, Patronage in the Bible, Bible. New Testament Epistle of John, 3rd -- Criticism, interpretation, etc

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