C. H. Brown, 1963
Reading, and introductory comments.
There are some rather dark things in this little epistle. Some gross failure on the part of Diotrephes, and yet the Apostle John, the dear aged servant of the Lord, uses the lovely word, “beloved.” It is a wonderful thing to belong to the beloved of the Lord. It is the Lord Himself who says it by His Spirit. John’s Epistle is inspired. Most associations of the world are bought by the dues that you pay in order to be called a brother. But these ties are not bought and last for an eternity.
II. “Even as thy soul prospers” (vs. 2)
“Beloved, I desire that in all things thou shouldest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers” (3 Jn. 2).
We all ought to feel well, but the apostle does not stop there. God has balances in connection with the truth that we do not take it only intellectually and then it fails in our life. And so He has the means to help us in the display of the life of Christ. We cannot forget the last phrase, “even as thy soul prospers.”
2 Cor. 4:10-12: “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”
- Let’s never take a vacation from consistency with this verse.
- We represent in this world (wherever or whenever) our Lord Jesus Christ. The life of Jesus ought to be manifest in our bodies.
“For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh”
- The Lord knows how we fail, and He helps us.
- He allows us to pass through the fire of refinement in order that the Life of Christ may be more manifest in us.
- The Lord deals with us on an individual basis, and He does not let us go without interfering in grace and government in our lives.
- How good He is to not leave us alone!
“So then death worketh in us, but life in you”
- Paul is expressing that in the degree that he bears about the dying in the body of Jesus, he is able to help others.
- Going on reckoning myself dead to sin, and alive to God — as I live to the glory of God, I can be of help to you! To the degree that I do it, I will be able to help you!
- Has another seen Christ in our lives practically?
III. “The brethren came and bore testimony” (Verse 3)
What kind of testimony do we bring? The brethren know us pretty well. “When the brethren came and bore testimony to thy holding fast the truth.”
We cannot overemphasize the truth. THE truth. Only one. Only that which is found in the word of God. Learn to make the Bible your companion and live in it! Saturate yourself with it.
“Even as thou WALKEST in the truth” — It is not enough to have learned the truth, but we must practically walk in the truth.
John rejoiced greatly to hear the news that Gaius was found walking in the truth.
IV. Hospitality, and “For the name” (Verses 5-8)
It is an honorable thing for a believer to be exercised in hospitality and caring in love for fellow believers – “thou wilt do well!” (Vs. 6). It is consistent for the believer to be in fellowship with the work of fellow believers.
“For the name have they gone forth”
- Consider also Acts 4:7, 10, 12, 17-18: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”
- Acts 5:40-42: “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”
“Taking nothing of those of the nations”
- God doesn’t want money from the unsaved. He cannot sanctify the money from those who have crucified and rejected His beloved Son. We need “fellow-helpers with the truth,” and not money from the world that crucified our Lord.
V. The self-appointed leader, Diotrephes (Verse 9)
Diotrephes did not want anyone to detract from his own self-appointment and importance. There is nothing in Scripture that speaks of “the elder” or “the bishop” among men in the church. But how many countless men throughout the ages have taken such a place and jealously try to protect it? Why aren’t we satisfied with the simplicity of Scripture? Do we lust for prominence and power? Why do we lust after a position that seeks a place of special acceptance and special esteem? This is not of God.
VI. Demetrius, a contrast to Diotrephes (Verse 12)
“Demetrius has witness borne to him by all, and by the truth itself”
This report had a double recommendation: of the truth itself, and of the believers who testified of him.
He was pleasing to the brethren, and they enjoyed him. But it went beyond that because it says “by the truth itself.” Then John goes on to add his own approbation. Of course, every word that John wrote, was inspired by the power of the Holy Spirit.
“But I will not with ink and pen write to thee”
Some things are better to be said face-to-face (as we saw with the elect lady at the end of 2 John, too).
“Greet the friends by name”
As the Lord knows us by name, so should not we also greet each by name, and not just lump everyone together for convenience?
The Lord knows each sheep by name. He knows you by name.
May the Lord stir our hearts by the affection that appeals in this little letter. It is warm with the heart’s affections, and though it speaks some plain truth, yet it is mingled with the warmth of love that appeals to the depths of our souls.
Shall we not surrender ourselves to the spirit of this Epistle?
Read it as a message to your own heart, and yield yourself to it.