shortest Book in the Bible is called an Epistle because
it is a letter that John wrote. There are two other
letters John wrote which are First John and Second John.
In Greek this Epistle is called the "Ioannou
gamma" or "Ioannou G", which translates
the "third of John". It has only 14 verses,
but within it there are a lot of key points to help the
Christian reader learn what true fellowship with other
believers (whether in our local Christian Church or from
other Christian Churches) is.
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John wrote this letter
while in Ephesus to a man named Gaius who lived in Asia.
The name Gaius was common in the Roman Empire. In fact,
you will find other Gaius' mentioned in the New
Testament such as the Gaius that traveled with Paul from
Macedonia in Acts 19:29,the Gaius of Derbe in Acts
20:4,and the Gaius that hosted Paul and got baptized by
Paul in Corinth in Romans 16:23 and 1Corinthians 1:14.
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In this letter, John encourages Gaius to keep strong in
the faith and to love and receive other Christians that
come to do God's work. He writes about the problem the
church is having with a man named Diotrephes, who is not
doing the will of God. This letter teaches Christians
how to receive fellow believers and not to be blinded by
the one's, such as Diotrephes, in a church that are not
loving God's people as we are called to do.