3 John 1-15
More on Hospitality
Third John is written to one named Gaius, apparently a leader in the church to which John was writing. He writes to commend Gaius for his hospitality in receiving “the brothers.” We spoke yesterday about how traveling evangelists often went from church to church in missionary activity. In his second letter, John warned the church not to entertain anyone who denied that Jesus had come in the flesh. In this letter, however, he affirms Gaius for receiving true preachers of the gospel. All of this, of course, calls for discernment on behalf of pastors and churches. Churches need to exercise caution in opening their pulpits to just any traveling preacher, indeed, perhaps even to someone of their own denomination. The pulpit is not for just anyone who would like to stand up and say something. It is a sacred piece of furniture, the primary purpose of which is to be the station where the gospel of Jesus Christ is carefully proclaimed. Specifically, the pastor acts as gate-keeper for the church as he is especially entrusted to guard the flock from wayward teaching. But the church as a whole must also guard the sacred deposit of the faith that has been entrusted to her by the hands of her Master. Each member must be a devout listener and faithful student of the word, not accepting anything less than the straightforward preaching of the word in all of its fullness and glory.
Then John brings up one named Diotrephes. He is someone in the church who apparently likes to have control. He “puts himself first,” acknowledges not the apostolic authority, and likes to talk about other people. Furthermore, he refuses to welcome the brothers, that is, the true preachers of the word. And just in case there is a question about this, John reminds them that those who do good are from God and those who don’t aren’t. Our Lord said, “You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:20). That’s how you can tell a Diotrephes from, say, a Demetrius, whom everyone knows is a good fellow.
So let the church welcome the pure and sincere preaching of the word, and rejoice in the truth. For our Lord has “no greater joy than to hear that [his] children are walking in the truth.”