Study of 3 John

"Four Men In The Church"

By Dr. Edgar Pierce

(c) 2006




Four Men In The Church

3 John 1-14



The Elder, John:

I. The Elder, John the Apostle, was watchful of falsehood in the early church. (vv. 1-14)

          A. He rejoiced over those who walked in the truth. (vv. 3-4)

          B. He rejoiced over right treatment of other saints. (vv. 5-8)

          C. He was willing to stand against wrong. (vv. 9-10)

          D. He wanted to take a hands on, eye to eye, approach to falsehood. (v. 14)


II. Gaius is a shining example of Christianity. (vv. 1-6)

          A. He was "well-beloved" by John. (v. 1)

          B. He was sound in his doctrine. (vv. 1,3)

          C. He was known for supporting the work of God with hospitality. (v. 6)


III. Diotrephes is an active opponent to the work of God. (vv. 9-10)

          A. God hates those who sow discord among the brethren. (Prov 6:16,19)

          B. This attitude is, "As old as Moses." (Num. 16:1-3)

          C. The church has only one head, the Lord Jesus and not Diotrephes. (Eph 1:22)


IV. Demetrius is obscure but not forgotten by God. (v.12)

          A. The only mention of Demetrius in scripture is here by John. (v. 12)

          B. God has not forgotten those deeds done for Him to others. (I Cor.:13-14; Rev 22:12)



Four Men In The Church

In the third epistle of John we see four men that span the spectrum of the Christian walk. What church today has not at one time in its history been under the watchcare of an elder pastor? Few, if any, churches have not had a saint such as Gaius that was a shining example of Christianity. Unfortunately most have felt the sting of someone with the spirit of Diotrephes who actively opposed everything and everyone that seemed God sent. Still there are those in the church, who like Demetrius, serve faithfully without the glory or recognition they deserved. Still they are not forgotten by God and are so desperately needed by the church today.

So we see four men that we can look at to understand our Christian walk today. God's word is contemporary to our lives as much as it was in the days of the Apostles. First, let us look at the Apostle John. Who is he? We find that Christ surnamed him and brother James, "Sons of Thunder," in Mk. 3:17. We also see him as vindictive toward a city of Samaritans that would not receive them. In Luke 9:54 we read, "...when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?" We also see him as an ambitious young man in Mark 10:35-37 where he and James ask to sit on the right and left hand of Christ in His glory, his earthly kingdom is understood here.

Next we find he calls himself "The beloved" or "The one that Jesus loved" in the gospel that he wrote. In fact he learned the lessons of love in the school of Christ. In John 13:23 we find him lying on Christ breast at the Passover. He was the one that Christ trusted the watchcare of His mother, Mary to as he hung on the cross.

Now John is, "The Elder", the elder gentleman of the church, an apostle that has grown into the wise watchman of the church. Here he writes to Gaius as a friend not as an apostle. He rejoiced over those who walked in the truth. (vv. 3-4) He rejoiced over Gaius because he had a reputation of walking in the truth. The brethren who testified of this were probably the traveling evangelist of the day that Gaius had help.

He also find that John rejoiced over right treatment of other saints given by Gaius in verses 5-8. These men were spreading the gospel by giving of themselves and taking nothing of the Gentiles to whom they preached.

We also see some of the spit and fire come out in John that he had in his younger days in verse 10 where he seems to be itching to get to the fight at hand with Diotrephes. He saw the wrong and did not bury his head in the sand and straddle the fence, but stood against it. We would be much better off in the church today if there were more men and women like John who would take a stand against wrong by other church members with the wrong attitudes. We see that he wanted to take a hands on, eye to eye, approach to the trouble that was there in verse 14 where he says he hopes to see Gaius soon.

Now to Gaius where we need to see who he was and what he stood for. We can state that Gaius was a shining example of Christianity for us all to mimic and imitate as evidenced in the first six verses of this short epistle. We see three things about him: 1- he was "well-beloved" by John according to verse 1; 2- he was sound in his doctrine as seen in verses 1 and 3 where John says that he held to the truth, 3- he was know for supported the work of God with hospitality as seen in verse 6.

Still who was he? Harold Willimington in Willmingtons Guide to the Bible says, "There were at least three New Testament people by this name. One was from Corinth (Rom 16:23), one from Macedonia (Acts 19:29) and one from Derbe (Acts 20:4-5)." I personally believe that he was the one mentioned in Romans 16:23 because it was said of this man named Gaius, "Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, salutes you." If this is not the same man then the men named Gaius was given to hospitality of God's workers. Nevertheless, regardless of who he was, we know that he was loved by John, because he stood for the truth and because of the way he treated others.

Let us consider now Diotrephes who was in open and direct opposition to John and the traveling evangelist that came to teach in the church. (vv. 9-10) There is an old saying that the "Wheel that squeaks gets the grease" well evidently Diotrephes was a squeaking wheel. He was the one who was either going to have his way or no way. He was either going to run the church or ruin it. My friends may I say, God hates those who sow discord among the brethren. Prov 6:16,19 makes this very plain. Those who would tear down, and it takes only a few to destroy, cannot be pleasing to God.

Still we find this attitude is, "As old as Moses." In fact in Numbers 16:1-3 we find that Korah was sowing discord among the Israelites in the exodus. If you read the rest of the story you will find that God destoryed them. My friends it is a dangerous thing to stand in God's way when he is moving in a church. This magnifies the wisdom of a man named Gamaliel in the book of Acts. Here he told the council concerning the apostles, "...if this counsel or this work be of men it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." Do we need reminded that the church has only one head according to Ephesians 1:22, the Lord Jesus and not Diotrephes or any men like him? Men have been standing against what God wanted for a long time with their carnal attitudes and their feeling of wanting to be the hot shot or big wig, that controls instead of letting God and God's men lead. Many churches have tolerated this type behavior from individuals till they have died on the vine and have no vitality or spirit living within them now. Oh, brothers and sister we need some Johns today to give us wisdom and guidance and some men like Gaius to inspire us.

Still in spite of the problems of personalities and conflicts the work of the church goes on. Sometimes unnoticed by anyone but God. Much as we see here where Demetrius is obscure but not forgotten by God as seen in verse 12. This is the only mention of Demetrius in scripture. We don't know anything about him, where he was from or what he did, other than what we find here in Third John. Still if we could have access to the record books of heaven, we might find many things done in Jesus name by him on file. You see friends, God has not forgotten those deeds done for Him to others. I Cor. 3:13-14 tells us, "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall recieve a reward." There is an old song that says, "My God keeps a record of thing we're doing on earth." Even the most obscure things such as a cup of cold water will not go unrewarded. (See Matthew 10:42) In Rev 22:12 I feel is a message to those who serve like Demetrius seemingly without reward, where Christ tells us, "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according to his work shall be." Friend the most important thing to God is that we as stewards be found faithful.

So we see these four men, so typical and recognizable in the church even today. The watchful ones keeping a watchful eye on the doctrine and walk of the church. The shining example walking before us to encourage us by being those living epistles, read by all. The opponents making us learn to rely on the Lord for His provision and timing. The obscure background players continue on and the church rises to minister in Jesus name. Who among us will dare to be a Gaius for all to survey and copy. Or who is willing to be a Demetrius and see that the work gets done in subtle ways. Four men in the church, almost any church.

2006 by Dr. Edgar Pierce