devotion 6-3-14

Good Morning! We really need this rain so I will not complain! It is coming down at a pretty steady clip right now.

3 John 9 – 13

9 I have written something to the church; but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing in spreading false charges against us. And not content with those charges, he refuses to welcome the friends,* and even prevents those who want to do so and expels them from the church.

11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. 12Everyone has testified favorably about Demetrius, and so has the truth itself. We also testify for him,* and you know that our testimony is true.

13 I have much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink; 14instead I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face.

15 Peace to you. The friends send you their greetings. Greet the friends there, each by name.

Whatever the position the Elder holds, whether as a founding missionary for the church, or as an appointed Elder or even Bishop, the current leader in the church, a person named Diotrephes, does not recognize his authority. Furthermore, he spreads false charges. The Elder gets personal, resorting to making personal remarks about this man, whom he says puts himself first. Not only that but this Diotrephes refuses to offer hospitality to those whom the Elder, and presumably the mother church, sends as missionaries or traveling preachers to that church. Not only does he do this, but he instructs others not to receive them and expels those who do from the church.

The Elder tells Gaius not to imitate what is evil, presumably meaning not to follow the example of Diotrephes, but to imitate what is good – to provide hospitality to those whom the Elder sends. The good comes from God – if one does not do good they have not seen God. (This argument, and it is an argument between two points of view or positions of authority in the early church, gets ugly when one person accuses the other of not even knowing God.) The Elder then goes on to commend the person whom he is sending, probably the person carrying the letter, a man named Demetrius, to whom he seems to expect Gaius to offer hospitality. Everyone has testified favorably about this man, as has the truth itself, as well as the personal testimony of the Elder. He would write more, but prefers to see Gaius in person. He sends his peace and greetings from the friends (members of the church) there and to the friends in the church where Gaius and Demetrius are.

Inclusion of this short book/letter into the writings the early church considered sacred was debated for a long time; it was not accepted until the late 4th century. There is little of theological significance (according to the commentators); what the letter does do is to show us the humanity of even these early saints. There were disputes even in the early church, and as the letter shows, neither side was willing to resolve them with grace and love, but rather accused one another of falsehood and not knowing God.

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