3 John 9 “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, recieveth us not.”
This is an amazing statement….the beloved Apostle John….the one that leaned his head on Jesus shoulder at the Last Supper….the one that ran with the other disciples, but then came back and followed Jesus into the Judgement Hall……the only one of the twelve that stood at the foot of the cross, as Jesus was crucified…..
…..was not received!
Who would even consider such an action? And what was this about?
(We think of apostolic power…..of how much they accomplished for Christ Jesus….going out and spreading the gospel….because of the great love they had for Christ…
….but here is a picture into the decay of a church.
A church that went from the bright, joyful fellowship of believers….into one that allowed this one who “loves to have the preeminence”, to rule.
John lived longer than any of the Apostles….he was younger….and he was the only one who died a natural death….the others were martyred.
He had been imprisoned (Revelation 1:9, 10:11)…….and let out, to preach and teach again….mending the church, with the Words of Christ:
Revelation 2:4-5 “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works: or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
This candlestick was the Light of God shining through them….they were quenching it, by “leaving their first love”….Christ. Other things had come in….and their “light” was dimming.
And here is the state of the church now……”lukewarm”. We think they are all right….but God wants us zealous….boiling hot….and to get there we need to repent.
Revelation 3:15-16, 19 “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold or hot: I would that thou wert cold or hot.
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold or hot, I will spur thee out of my mouth.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”)
Here, in his last epistle, John was writing his friend Gaius, and thanking him for receiving the men, who for Christ’s sake, were going around as itinerant preachers….to the churches.
3 John 7-8 “Because that for His (Jesus Christ) name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.
We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow helpers to the truth.”
Now these men, who had been called to go out and preach at churches for their instruction and encouragement….had not asked for money from the churches…..and had only gone into homes that asked them in.
Yet there was one in the church, Diotrephes, that wanted to have the say about who would speak in the church….and who would not.
3 John 9 “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, receiveth us not.”
These men that had come, were Jewish/Christian preachers……sent from the Apostle John to this church;…for it’s good.
But because they were Jewish……that gave this man an excuse for “prating” about them…..to berate them….and by implication,….
….to refuse the Apostle John’s recommendation.
Instead,…substituting his own opinion as right…..which had to be obeyed.
(The criteria for receiving those who say they are Christians, was set down by our Lord Jesus, and the Apostle John:
John 13:20 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that recieveth whosoever I send receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me.”
And how do you know that the Lord sent them? By the doctrine they preach….is it the Word of God?
2 John 9-10 “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed:”
How important it is, for us to know God’s Word!)
Love and fellowship, is a predominant topic with John….and this man, Diotrephes, has neither.
Diotrephes, instead, uses his influence,….for the love of being in charge….not for the love and good of the church.
He went even further, than speaking against them. He demanded that they would not be received!
Then, a step more……he demanded to have those people who would want to hear these preachers,….or give them a place to stay…….to be cast out of the church!
3 John 10 “Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbideth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.”
But the Apostle John spake out against such behavior of fellow believers.
3 John 11-12 “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.
Demetrius (one of the men John had sent) hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.”
(There is personal conviction for each believer….
….so if Diotrephes could not hear them….or open his house to them…..fine.
But others could….and would have,….
….except, that he threatened them…..
…..but where did he get such authority? Not from God….but from those in the church….who let him take over their own responsibility.
Paul warned the church at Ephesus, about the same thing:
Acts 20:28-31 “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Also of your own selves, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
But Gaius is of another spirit….he recognizes another Christian, by their conversation and reactions……especially some sent by the beloved Apostle
John…..no matter what background they are from….
….and he welcomes them into his home….giving them food and lodging….having fellowship with them…..taking them to the church…
….and when they are refused there….he keeps them till they are ready to depart to the next place…and sends them away with food.
3 John 3, 5-6 “For I rejoice greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.
Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;
Which hath borne witness of thy charity before the church whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:”
As Christians, we are to love one another….looking for the Word of God to be worked out in ourselves, and others through the Holy Spirit…
…..to grow in grace and the knowledge of God…. for God’s glory…..and for the strengthening and encouraging of the local church.
1 John 2:5-6 “But whoso keepeth His Word, in him verily, is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him.
He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He (Christ Jesus) walked.”
Each Christian’s responsibility before the Lord……is to know the Word of God, listen to the Holy Spirit, and to love each other in the Lord.