Our last reading in the Epistles of John: 3 John 1:9-14
v9: Church/Congregation: ἐκκλησίᾳ (ekklēsia) The church or local assembly (i.e. those who have heard and responded to the call of G-d and have formed a community, or fellowship, with other believers – ‘called out ones’)
- Diotrephes: The name of a man – probably a leader in this congregation. When someone is not walking in truth, is troublesome, is divisive, is harming the local congregation, etc it becomes the responsibility of other leaders to confront this man/woman. Sometimes this means that the person first needs to be confronted privately. If he/she remains unrepentant, take one or two witnesses. If there is still no resolution the matter needs to be taken before the entire congregation (Matt 18:15-17). There comes a point in time when it is acceptable for unsubmissive and unrepentant people to be called out, publicly, by name (see also Titus 3:10-11, Eph 5:6-7, etc).
- Does not receive us: John, and the fellow believers with him, wanted to have an influence in this local assembly. Diotrephes, however, was not willing to receive them.
v10: Call to mind his deeds/make mention of his works: Although John has called out and named Diotrephes, this verse makes it clear that it is not personal. John does not have anger, hatred, or bad feelings toward Diotrephes on a personal level. John knows that what Diotrephes is doing is dangerous and harmful to the local congregation. John calls him out because of his behaviour.
- Prating: Gossips or slanders. He repeatedly speaks in a negative way.
- Not content with that…ie These things: Diotrephes is not pleasedconcerning the criticism levelled against him. Although the criticism is well founded, he has no desire to receive it, submit to it or make changes to his behaviour concerning it.
- Forbids those who wish to (receive us): Those who are part of Diotrephes’ congregation. They have purposed in their minds that what John is saying is right and correct. They want John and the fellow believers to come and speak into this situation.
- Putting them out of the church: Diotrephes is a controlling individual. He is not open to criticism and nor is he willing for debate, for instruction, or for any correction whatsoever. Whoever does not agree with him he excommunicates.
v11: Has not seen: When the perfect tense of a verb is used in Greek (which it is here), it is a unique grammatical construction and one which we need to pay particular attention to. The perfect tense speaks of an action that was completed and true in the past, but it produced results which are still true today and which will continue into the future – maybe eternally.
- Has not seen G-d: Those who are doing evil did not see (experience or perceive) G-d in the past, they do not see Him now and nor, left to themselves, will they see Him into the future. There is no knowledge of G-d in an evil man’s life. Although he may be in the congregation of believers, he is not someone of faith because he is not living according to the truth.
v12: (Diotrephes)…Demetrius: What we can conclude here is this: In this local congregation there seems to be a struggle, or a contention, going on between these two men. Some might say: ‘We will love and support both of them.’ This is not possible, as there is a conflict between truth and lie. Truth demands an evaluation and a decision. We cannot submit to both truth and lies. By default, one has to give way to the other. Also, we do not submit to someone because he is more likeable than another. We submit to those who are committed to the things of G-d, those who have the truth of G-d.
- Truth…true: Emphasised, once again, in this passage.
- Testified by all… we bear witness: Between these two men, Demetrius is the man who has a testimony of living in truth.
v14: Friends: φίλοι (philoi). This is a Greek word for friends that speaks of those we have brotherly love for (friendship, affection, liking etc)
- By name: John is speaking about a need to get to know the character of those we love and associate with. When we know people, we can make informed and wise decisions as to whether or not we should listen to their counsel, whether or not we should follow them etc. As we begin to know people, we will know what they are committed to, we will know if they live/behave in truth etc.
In summary: A study through the Epistles of John reveals that doctrine is extremely important to us. Our doctrine begins (and ends) with Biblical truth. John has emphasised the divinity of Yeshua, the Messiah, and how we are to submit to Him. Through Him we have forgiveness of sins; and the good news is that this justification removes us from the wrath of G-d. As new creations in Messiah we are completely submitted to the truth and are committed to the instructions (commandments) of G-d – which is seen in our love for one another. Loving each other involves removing and warring against those things that attack the spiritual well-being, the growth, the maturity, the prosperity, the success, etc of each believer and of each local congregation. John was a serious individual in regard to preparing congregations, one individual at a time, that they might function in the anointing of the Spirit of G-d.