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3 John





This letter is the shortest epistle in the original Greek.  But it is full of important stuff for us to consider.  In many ways, this short letter is the story of three men.

The first one is mentioned in verse 1.  Gaius was a good man who had a great reputation in the church.  He was an exemplary Christ follower.  As you read the first three verses it is obvious that John thought the world of Gaius.  John referred to him as the beloved on several occasions. 

In verse 2, John speaks a prayer over Gaius.  Basically John prayed Gaius would have a good life with good physical health and strong spiritual health.  That is a great prayer that we should pray for a lot of people.

From what we know, Gaius was probably not a preacher or teacher in the church.  He probably was a layman who was very involved in ministry.  He ministered to the church.  He ministered to people that were not in the church.  He saw to it that the right people had the right financial support.  Gaius is the kind of guy every pastor wishes he had in his church.  In fact, most pastors would love to have a church full of people like Gaius.

And then we get to verse 9 and meet a man named Diotrephes.  Diotrephes was like the polar opposite of Gaius.  Diotrephes was a prideful, arrogant rascal who wanted to rule the church.  In fact, it seems that when anyone had the audacity to disagree with or oppose Diotrephes, he kicked those folks out of the church.  God never intended for His church to be ruled by dictators.  God’s intention was His church would be led by shepherds.

Diotrephes also refused to submit to apostolic authority.  Remember John was one of the apostles and verse 9 says Diotrephes would not acknowledge John’s authority.  But worse than that, Diotrephes was talking all kinds of nonsense about John undoubtedly trying to ruin his reputation and cause the church to turn away from John. 

John’s response was if he revisited the church, he would confront Diotrephes and deal with the problem.  The vast majority of pastors (me included) don’t like conflict.  Indeed the vast majority of pastors (including me) have a tendency to let issues continue that should be confronted.  But the church desperately need brave people who know the truth to defend the truth even if that means confrontation.  Sometimes the only way you can deal with a Diotrephes is confront his heresy head on and not back down.

From there John speaks about a man named Demetrius.  Demetrius is much more like Gaius and much less like Diotrephes.  He too had a good testimony in the church.  That means that he lived out the truth of the Gospel in such a way that others respected him and appreciated him. 

At the end of the day, every church has its own Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius.  But every church needs their own Gaius and Demetrius to corral and correct their Diotrephes.  The church’s reputation hangs on their willingness to do that.  And ultimately the reputation of the Gospel hangs in the balance as well.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

2 John





Typically we only do one chapter a day.  But today and, in fact, for the next couple of days we are going to do an entire book each day.  Before you panic, remember that 2 John is just a one chapter book.  That’s also true about 3 John that we will tackle tomorrow and Jude which is on our list for Wednesday.  And then we get to take a couple of days of respite during the holidays.

The author of 2 John is the same man who wrote The Gospel According to John, 1 John, and Revelation.  He is the man that is referred to as the beloved disciple in John’s Gospel.  He was part of the inner circle of disciples that seemed to have a more intimate, personal relationship with Jesus.  The other two disciples that were in that group were James and Peter.

As John opens this letter that we call 2 John, he addresses the elect lady and her children.  There is a bit of argument about who this is.  There are some that believe the letter was literally written to a woman and her household.  There are others that believe the reference to the elect lady is a reference to a church and the children were members of that church.  It may be that both could be true if the church he was writing to met in a woman’s home.  By the way, it was not uncommon for churches to meet in homes during this time in history.

There are two words that are repeated several times during this letter.  One of those is the word truth.  The other is the word love. 

One of the reasons the word truth is repeated may very well be the fact that part of what John is doing is warning folks about false teachers.  He references those who deny that Jesus came in the flesh.  This would have been part of what is called the Gnostic heresy.  The Gnostics believed that the physical world was evil therefore if Jesus came in a human body He was evil.  And if He were evil, He could not be the Messiah.  So, they wrongly taught that Jesus came as a spirit form. 

Obviously this heresy is completely in opposition to the truth of the Scripture.  It is absolutely necessary that Jesus come as man because it was a man that He could die for the sins of humanity.  John said we should receive anyone that denies the humanity of Jesus.

The other word John uses a lot in this short letter was love.  If you are familiar with 1 John, you will know that John used the word “love” a lot in that letter.  The reality of love as the basis for what God did for us through Jesus is the foundation of the Christian faith. 

As John develops his thoughts about love in this letter, we find the repeating theme that love is not proven by our talking about love but by our obedience to Jesus.  Obedience is the result of loving Jesus. 

That doesn’t mean we are saved by obedience.  We are not saved by following a list of rules or commandments.  We are saved by grace through faith.  But when we are saved, we will live in accordance to what Jesus taught.  Our obedience to the Gospel is evidence of our love. 

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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