I hope you had a great week last week. It was busy around here as we prepared for our congregation’s 10th birthday party; and wow, what a day. I won’t go into it, because unless you go to the same place we do, it will be pretty meaningless. I will say this, though, and it relates to the letters of John, if you are not attending a Church at all, or are going someplace that compromises on the truth, or does not practice Grace and Mercy, then let me know and I will help you find a good one. I’m not trying to be a jerk, but, as you can tell from John’s letters, there’s not time to put up with all the compromise and goofiness going on in many congregations these days. We need to be about the Father’s business rather than chasing some political or social agenda. So if you need help finding a good congregation, email me, or use the comments section of the show notes. If you include your name and where you live, I PROMISE to research and give you some suggestions. Yeah, it’s that important to me.
Speaking of important, let’s take a look at 3rd John. Unlike 2nd John, or Revelation, this letter does not appear to be in code. John, kicks but and takes names, or at least names names, so he doesn’t seem to even make an attempt at discretion, so that suggests to me that he’s probably writing from his home base back in Ephesus.
John’s frequent use of the word truth in his 3rd letter, just like the first two, maintains his pattern of emphasizing historic Christian doctrine in contrast to the mysterious Gnosticism that was so pervasive in Asia Minor during the latter decades of the first century.
Let’s face it, the New Testament’s emphasis on the uniqueness of Christian doctrine stands in stark contrast to the overwhelming opinions of the 21st century as well. Christianity is rapidly becoming an unwelcome presence in the public arena. I was recently reading a politically tinged article where the leftist magazine Salon, urged the Republican party to abandon their alliance with Christianity or fall into irrelevancy in our ‘post Christian’ America.
Wow. I’m not going to spend one second on politics, but I didn’t know any party had an alliance with Christianity or with ‘Post Christian’ America either for that matter. But the article DOES imply that those who control the microphone, and editorial content of the mainstream have little tolerance for our faith.
So be it. It doesn’t change a thing. If we look at the New Testament writings, the early Church, and Jesus Himself during His ministry, saw truth as more important that acceptance. Their attitude and practice was to tell the truth in love and let the chips fall where they may.
3rd John is a classic example of that. The letter is written to one, Gaius. That doesn’t tell us much at all. Several men by that name are mentioned in the New Testament. It was extremely common. Heck, it was even Julius Caesar’s first name. Frankly, it’s like starting a letter, Dear Bill. Without context, there’s just no knowing which Bill.
There is an ancient tradition that says John appointed a leader named Gaius as ‘Bishop of Pergamum. While I’m not convinced that the Apostle appointed Bishops (we’ll leave that for another day), it is certainly possible that an elder by that name was the target of John’s letter.
Considering the possibility that John may have sent Gaius of Ephesus (see Acts 19) to Pergamum, this letter could be John’s welcome to Pergamum letter.
After a pleasant, if maybe a little lengthy, considering the brevity of the note, greeting, John identifies two other leaders for Gaius’ consideration. One, very negative and one, very positive.
The first of the two, Diotrephes, has become a pain in the rear for the Apostle. He is not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture, but because of the tradition of Gaius being the Pastor of the Church in Pergamum, I can’t help but associate Diotrephes with the letter to the Pergamum congregation in Revelation 2. Pergamum is dealing with a great deal of false teaching including Gnosticism. I just see Diotrephes as the villain behind the problems. You do your own homework and see what you think.
At any rate, this Diotrephes, had assumed almost dictatorial control over the congregation. He does not recognize the authority of the Apostles, and even excommunicates people who do receive the apostles and their representatives. What a goofball.
I love verse 10, where John demonstrates there’s a little Boanerges left in his 90 plus year old frame. This ancient Son of Thunder says if he gets to come to Pergamum he’s going to face down Diotrephes. That verse always sends a tingle down the back of my neck. I love it. The man of God refuses to back down to the enemy of truth. I only hope I would be so bold under the same circumstance.
In contrast to Diotrephes, John mentions another member of the Church, one Demetrius. Again, there are far too many men of that name to identify who this is. Going back to Acts 19 and the beginning of the Church in Ephesus, a silversmith by that name, was so upset at the Gospel for hurting his business, nearly caused a riot in the city.
Wouldn’t it be really cool if it was the same guy? An enemy of the Gospel, who became a Christ Follower and a great example of the Faith? We have no way of knowing, but it would be awesome if it was him.
John says in verse 12, that Demetrius is a man of absolute integrity and character. He says even the truth itself offers testimony to Demetrius character. Oh how I pray that could be said of me.
Then suddenly, after brief remarks about these two contrasting men, John just shuts down the letter, just like he did in 2nd John. He says here, Gaius, you rock, I’m so proud of you. Beware of Diotrephes, he’s a jerk, but Demetrius is a great guy. See you soon, Say hello to the Church. See you soon, John.
It begs more questions than it answers, but you have to love it. We have two great role models in Gaius and Demetrius, and we have one moron, Diotrephes. Just change the names to modern ones and it could be anywhere.
All I know is, I want to be someone accused of walking in the truth. I hope you do too.
That’s all I got. I do hope you love this little note that way I do. Ping me and let me know. I can hardly wait until we look at Jude next week. It is STRONG. Until then, be blessed. And be a blessing.