Friday in the Eighteenth Week of Ordinary Time

3 John 9-15

Diotrephes and Demetrius

We are presented with two other men in this letter: Diotrephes and Demetrius.  And once again we see how trouble and personality issues roiled the early Church just as it does today.  We are reminded again that the devil goes to church—for different reasons, of course. 

A perennial problem in churches is leadership.  The Apostle Paul gives us all the guidance we need in his letters to Timothy and Titus.  And though the word is not written explicitly, still the qualities Paul lists are redolent of that most important of virtues for pastors and church leaders otherwise known as humility.  Well, Diotrephes presents us with the opposite of this.  He likes to “put himself first,” “refuses to welcome the brothers,” and puts people out of the church who do.  But worst of all, he does not recognize John’s authority—which is the APOSTOLIC authority—and even spreads lies about him.  The authority—the ONLY authority—upon which your pastor and deacons may speak, preach, teach, and act upon is the apostolic authority, which means that apostolic witness provided us in the Sacred Scriptures.  Thus, this man was acting out of the height of arrogance and so unfit to lead any church.

Demetrius is different.  Demetrius had “received a good testimony from everyone.”  Pastors, deacons, and church leaders in general must be proved before proceeding (1 Timothy 3:6, 10).  Indeed, such people must receive a good testimony from “the truth itself,” meaning that he is faithful to the revealed word of truth—the Scriptures.  Unlike Demetrius, we have no apostles to add their testimony, but the testimony of a church living in obedience to Christ’s commands provides the sure word of testimony today that this man is ready to lead.  John even adds a common sense test: “Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.”  So take a look at the life of Diotrephes and then Demetrius and then decide; it’s not that hard.

Just like the “elect lady” of his Second Letter, he would rather cut this letter off to Gaius and save the rest for blessed personal fellowship.  And notice how he closes: “The friends greet you.  Greet the friends, everyone of them.”  Our Lord even said, “I have called you friends” (John 15:15).  But the faith places friendship into an entirely different category, for the sharing of the Spirit provides a bond between brethren the pagan can never comprehend. 

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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