November 19, 2022 Saturday
The book of 3 John is not a very long book in the Bible. It is about not just showing hospitality and support within the church, but this book is about exposing the overbearing, bossy, selfish, narcissistic, arrogant, and pastors who want to lord it over their flocks. These pastors have crept into churches back then, and they are still creeping into churches today. When these types of people creep into the church, they stifle the work of the Holy Spirit within that church.
My supposition is that Diotrephes is one of the earliest examples of the misrepresentation of the NT model of the plurality of elder church government. Diotrephes is one leader that was pursuing to be in charge over the other church leaders rather than exhibiting a servant heart in management. The Apostle John recognized the danger and takes steps to address the problem. This problem still needs to be addressed today because this problem is widespread today.
There are many authoritarian, and overbearing leaders within the church today. All of these leaders need to be exposed for they are not doing what God wants them to do, and not doing so…they corrupt the church, compromise the church, and truth of Jesus is not taught properly. They do not truly have a servant’s heart for the people but have the heart to be in charge and many think they are way more important than the very people they were to serve.
3 John 9 “Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.”
The book of 3 John is a book to show us an example. Will we learn from it or ignore it?
There is a Greeting and introduction.
The Elder (Apostle John is writing), To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.
So, it sounds like the Elder was the Apostle John and he was writing to a beloved Gaius. John doesn’t call himself the Apostle here and one might wonder why not. Could it possibly be that since the church was being persecuted at that time that he didn’t want to use his name, but the one receiving the message knew exactly who this letter was from?
To the beloved Gaius: Who exactly was this Gaius? Not sure because this was a common name at that day within the Roman Empire.
(2-4) A blessing for faithful Gaius.
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
So when John says, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things”
- Note: Therefore, 3 John 2 cannot be used to promote a belief that Christians can and should always be healthy and wealthy. We also need to think a little bit about the definition of prosper. In our culture, when we hear the word prosper, we automatically associate that with wealth. We think that being prosperous means being wealthy, but this word here means having a good journey. It is more like telling someone I sure hope things in your life go well.
“Both verbs [for prosper and be in health] belonged to the everyday language of letter writing” (Stott). I’d say it is sort of like your cell phone language where you might say LOL. It is common to many people who use their cell phone a lot. (just an example…don’t get caught up in this) Instead of us saying “laughing out loud” we just write LOL. The abbreviation used in Latin was SVBEEV, meaning Si vales, bene est; ego valeo – “If you are well, it is good; I am well.” Might not make as much sense to us today, but it was used a lot in their day.
I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers: This statement was a common phrase in sending his best wishes and blessings to Gaius. Yet, some have taken this as a promise somehow that Gaius would have perpetual wealth and perfect health. We all would like that to be true, but it was a common phrase, and then we also must realize that God wants the best for us…but the best doesn’t always mean what we want, or that we will be given wealth, or great health.
It could very well be that God wants some to be wealthy in this world because many were and are who serve the Lord. But what do they use their wealth for? Do they further the kingdom of God or do they use their wealth to benefit them above all? However, one day, when we go across that finish line we will have all the wealth of heaven that God offers to His kids.
Now think about this for a moment: Maybe God does want you rich so you could/can use that to help the kingdom of God, but maybe He doesn’t want that for you this side of heaven because money, fame, etc might get in the way of your walk with God and with helping other people. Sometimes the very things we must go through here while upon this earth helps people with what they go through way more than having money in the bank…or possessions. But also the following can also be true: However, some live in hardship and disease merely because they do not seek God’s best for their life nor do they follow God’s rules, and walk in faith. God blessing you, or anyone, does not mean that you can do whatever you desire (sexual sins for one). You have to be on the same page as God is. I was reading something this last week about a well-known entertainer (s) who have these 100-200 billion dollar homes, cars, and all that goes with it, but they are so shallow and misguided. All that “stuff” they posses or think they possess owns them and won’t go with them when they did. Does anyone need 20 bedrooms, 12 plus bathrooms to live a good life? And the people it is about picture after picture in compromising positions (in God’s sight). Why do people make (actors and athletes into stars? They are actors and athletes) How much time do they give to the glory of God and how good He is? They will stand in line after line to see one of them or go to a game and route for their star athlete…but do they go to church and have the same enthusiasm for God?
Just as your soul prospers: John is talking here but what is he really saying? He made a correlation comparison between the state of our health and the state of our soul. Now consider that today even….how many Christians would be greatly ill if their physical health was suddenly in the same state as their spiritual health? Really think about that one. I would rather my soul prosper and be in good health and know where I was going when I died than have all the riches of this earth and lose my time with God Almighty.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth: John’s goodwill towards Gaius came from his understanding that he walked in the truth. Nothing pleased John more than to know that his children walk in truth.
I got to this point and wham……………………….I would not have any greater joy than each and everyone of my kids walk with God every day of their life, and that all my relatives (close and far) and extended family, and friends also. I want all of them in heaven and this verse is really what the Bible is all about….getting people into heaven, doing right while here, and praying and telling others about the love of the Lord. I also found that I would pray for my enemies to make it to heaven. Why? Because when an enemy accepts the Lord…if they truly are a Christian then…then they would no longer be my enemy but my brother or sister in the Lord. If only we could accept Jesus for the ones we care about.
John knew that Gaius walked in truth because brethren came and testified of the truth that was in Gaius. His walk of truth was noticed by others, and they could talk about it because they saw it.
So now ask yourself right here………….does/can anyone see Jesus and your Christian walk in you? If someone had to testify about you and what they saw in you…would they say that they saw that you walk with God and try to do as God wants you to do?
That my children walk in truth: This means more than living with correct doctrine. We can all “hear” the truth but not follow it. We need to hear the truth and apply the truth of God’s word in our life. We can’t pick and choose what we want to believe and follow. God is not a smorgasbord.
To walk in truth means to walk consistently with the truth you believe in, but you need to know the truth to be able to truly walk in it correctly. If you believe a lie, let’s say, then your walk is faulty. Stand up for truth no matter the cost to you here on this earth. What do you believe about where you are, right now, with your walk with God. Are you forgiven? Then act like it. Let your walk with the Lord be honest and true and never be a phony for people might not see that, but God surely does.
Learning from not only the good examples that come into your life, but learn from the bad examples as well. We are always on a learning journey if we are alive. Take advantage of everything you learn.
(5-8) Gaius: A good example.
Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.
So we look at Gaius and we can see that he was to be a good example for us.
You do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers: John praised Gaius for his hospitality. I look at that verse and it hits home in my heart. I have seen a great many people who showed great hospitality to others, and I have seen many try to be this, while others did a really lousy job in this area. I personally lack in this area. Not that I don’t try, but I really don’t do a great job in this area at all. I am so glad others do well here, but God uses each of us in different ways. (For that I am grateful). Now it might seem a little thing but I’d venture since it is in the Bible that it is not a little thing to God. Yes, we must love one another, but I am truly thankful that each of us has a God-given gift of some type and God can use whatever ours is to further His kingdom and to bring people to the Lord.
This was a great compliment: you do faithfully whatever you do. Again, I add that each of us has something we can offer to God to be used by Him for the kingdom of God. Whatever God gives us to do, we should do it accurately, and truthfully, and be ready in season and out of season. Jesus said that when we see Him face to face some will hear the words, well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord (Matthew 25:21). Of the good servant, it is said he was faithful.
Send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God: In that day, Christian travelers in general and itinerant ministers, in particular, were greatly dependent upon the hospitality of other Christians. This doesn’t happen all the time in our day and age. We all are weary of people because we see what goes on in this world even between people who are called Christians. How often does one now open their door to a stranger and house them even if what they are doing is serving the Lord? You see this more in foreign countries than you do here. Why is that? We should be showing others hospitality and love, but people don’t do it enough nowadays.
Jesus promised that even the help offered in a cup of cold water to one of His children would not be forgotten when God brings His reward (Matthew 10:42). Can’t we help others a bit more than we are right now? Of course we can.
God has blessed each of us. We might be struggling in this world at this time, but we still have so very much to be thankful for. We also can pray, as John did for Gaius that he would prosper. This doesn’t always mean with money…but it could be because people need money for their needs and this is also a way that God can use to get us out doing His will. Everything we do, a place to stay, to eat, clothes, getting around…things cost money and it is okay to have some…but don’t let the money have you. What do you use your resources on? Be honest! We can always use a little of what we have to somehow bless another. No, they might not care or use what we give them wisely…but be open to what God wants you to do, and even that cup of water can bless someone who is thirsty.
Taking nothing from the Gentiles: The ancient world of the early church was filled with missionaries and preachers of various religions, and they often supported themselves by taking offerings from the public (non-Christian aka gentiles) However, John was saying that they should not accept money from nonbelievers. Why? Possibly because then people would want something in return. It is like our government nowdays. They promise to represent the people then accept money from others who expect a favor/s in return for their giving and pretty soon they are as corrupt as the ones they took that money from. We need to give to help our Christian brothers and sisters and don’t play the games of this world. How many politicians go into this believing they can make a difference, but they get caught up doing wrong very quickly and the very people they swore to help they now hinder?
In a manner worthy of God: Christians are not only called to help but to help in a manner worthy of God. We are to do our best to help others admirably. Our work and our help should benefit others not hinder them. Is what we are doing helping or hindering the spread of the gospel?
Then they must see that they do it in a manner worthy of God and when they do they are serving others and being part of the great commission.
Matthew 28:19: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
We must all do our part.
Jesus said, He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward (Matthew 10:40-41).
(9-11) Diotrephes is a bad example.
I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.
But Diotrephes was a very bad example of what a Christian should be like: John openly admonished this man, and he criticized him by name. In rebuking him by name the apostle of love did not act outside of love. Instead, he followed the clear command of the Scriptures (Romans 16:17) and the example of other apostles (2 Timothy 4:14-15).
We are not to go around and rebuke people for one without a godly cause to do so, and not to hurt another but to help. We do it in love and not meanness. However, any such open criticism must be made only when necessary, and we must be careful to not judge a brother against any standard that we ourselves would not be judged (Matthew 7:1-2). We all do things wrong in our life. How many would want to be judged publicly for their own actions? Wouldn’t you first want someone to come to you privately and in love and tell you what is wrong? If changed…bravo, if not then it needs to be dealt with if what they are doing is going against God and His people.
Diotrephes realized that he was open to public criticism – just as much as he would publicly criticize the apostle John and his associates (chattering against us with malicious words). We all know people who criticize and disapprove of us … even when there is absolutely nothing to criticize. They just want to cause problems. We all know people (even close associates and even family) who tell lies about another and they don’t mind the pain it causes another.
Who loves to have the preeminence among them: Some people just don’t get the word of God. Some are just down-right prideful. Diotrephes was very prideful.
What was so prideful about Diotrephes? For one thing, he did not receive the apostles. This was the total opposite of Gaius who was humble, and hospitable, and who was walking in the truth of God’s word.
Think for a moment about the difference between Gaius accepting the apostles and helping them to Diotrephes…one of the leaders in the church is prideful and dishonoring God and God’s word and thinking why should I accept John and others. Pride leads a lot of people to destruction. Some are never willing to change and do right no matter who or what comes into their life to help them.
Who loves to have the preeminence/prestige among them: “This is the original and greatest of all sins. It is the sin of Satan, who was unwilling to be what God had created him to be and who desired rather be ‘like the Most High’ (Isa. 14:14).
We all know people who do basically the same thing in their life. They don’t like what God created them to be…yet that call was God’s and not theirs to make. God created males to be males, and females to be females period. Your DNA is still that of what God called you into being. People think somehow they can change what God created by adding to or subtracting from themself…but God knows exactly who and what He created you to be. Don’t be like satan and think you can change what God created.
We were not ever created to be God, and we can never be God.
Prating (chattering) against us with malicious words: Diotrephes not only failed to receive John and the other apostles, but he also spoke against them. His malicious gossip against the apostles showed what kind of man he really was. People do wrong every day, but we don’t have to be listed among those doing wrong. We don’t want to be listed among those like Diotrephes.
( “The Greek verb which is here translated ‘gossiping’ comes from a root which was used of the action of water in boiling up and throwing off bubbles. Since bubbles are empty and useless, the verb eventually came to mean indulgence in empty or useless talk. This was the nature of Diotrephes’ slander, though, of course, the words were no less evil in that they were groundless.” (Boice)”)
Putting them out of the church: Diotrephes not only used his influence to forbid others from showing hospitality to John or his associates; he even tried to excommunicate those who tried to show such hospitality. Aren’t some churches today the same? If you don’t do what the so-called Diotrephes type tells you then he doesn’t want you in his church. The only thing is the church does not belong to any denomination, any pastor, or any leader. The church in its entirety belongs to Jesus Christ. It is His church.
“To begin with, a man named Diotrephes had supposed an unjustifiable and harmful authority in the church, so much so that by the time of the writing of this letter John’s authority had been challenged and those who had been supportive to John had been excommunicated from the local assembly.
The example of Diotrephes shows that those who love to have authority also love to use whatever power they think they have as a sword against others. Most of us have known people in so-called authority like this. Some pastors are so far from being “God’s servants”, while others are great servants of God doing God’s work, walking rightly, and loving the flock so much they would never consider themselves better than the ones they serve. We all have a job to do for God and all are just as important to do as the next person is.
Let every one of us not imitate what is evil, but imitate what is good: John gave us two clear examples, one good (Gaius) and one bad (Diotrephes), and he now relates the point – follow the good, for we serve a good God and those who follow Him will likewise do good. We might falter sometimes but know this…if you mess up then run to God and confess and repent/change your direction. Our God is the God of chances. He is a God of forgiveness if your repentance is real.
John did not excommunicate Diotrephes, though as an apostle he had the authority to do so. Instead, he simply exposed him – and he trusted that discerning Christians would avoid Diotrephes as they should. On thinking about this many of us have come across these prideful people in a church and knew what they were doing was wrong. What did you do about it? We don’t have to do wrong to make things right. Use wisdom, use God’s strength, and be kind and loving in your dealings. The person will either change or won’t. If they do…great. If they don’t then they should not be in that position, and if they are and no one does anything to make the situation better…leave!
(12) Demetrius: A good example. Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true. Because of the testimony of the people, John recommended this man to Gaius. Demetrius was so faithful to the truth that even the truth was a witness on his behalf.
John explains such a short letter to Gaius. I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink, but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. Now, don’t we like to face someone when there is something important to say? However, sometimes from distance and circumstances we don’t always have that luxury. But John wrote this letter and this letter is for all of us as well. If John had just met Gaius face to face then we would not have gotten this letter to direct us to this truth.
Final blessings. Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.
In thinking on this statement…shouldn’t we love and greet our brothers and sisters in Christ with honor and blessings? Shouldn’t we ask for peace be in their life?
Peace to you: This is a letter about disagreement and disputes, yet John properly ends the letter with a desire and expectation for peace. Shouldn’t we, as Christians, have peace in our lives, and pray for peace in the life of others as well? Difficult times come for all of us. Let us learn to love other Christians with the honor they deserve.
Now may the God of all creation bless you, keep you, provide for your needs, heal your body, watch over and save those you love and care about, and may God give you His peace no matter what conflict is in your life right now. God is so able to bring us through the difficult times in life. God bless you.