Three Men: Two Types

The book of 3 John is among the shortest in the Bible. Being just fourteen verses long, it is a note of encouragement to a fellow by the name of Gaius. We do not know with certainty who Gaius was. The name occurs four times in the Bible: Acts 19:29, Acts 20:4, Rom. 16:23, and 1 Cor. 1:14; but, still there are no definite indications if he is the one to whom any of these four passages refer.

John prays for Gaius' prosperity, health, and soul. Gaius has proven himself to be a good steward. Those to whom Gaius had shown hospitality and generosity had told of his good deeds to the church. Recall that Jesus taught that we are to be good stewards with what we have been given in the kingdom (Matt. 25:14-30). Also, Paul, in his epistle to the church in Corinth, reminded them that they who participate in the work of the kingdom shall also partake of that for which they hope (1 Cor 9:8-11). Note that John prays for Gaius' prosperity and health, but only to the point that his soul would prosper. How many warnings are given to those who would be rich, that the endeavors to gain great wealth can become a snare to them, causing them to lose their soul (Matt. 13:22, 1 Tim. 6:9,19, et al.)? Nevertheless, the rich are not forbidden to enter the Kingdom, nor does the Christian faith prohibit financial prosperity; but, it is always of greatest importance that one's soul prospers. (James 2:5). Gaius was a hospitable man (3 John 5). What are the words which shall be spoken to those who are mindful of the brethren? . . .ye did it unto me. (Matt. 25:40,45)

Diotrophes was the antitheses of Gaius. He would not extend any hospitality even to the Apostle, John. He spoke out against John with “malicious words.” It was not enough for Diotrophes to malign others, but would not acknowledge them as brethren. Furthermore, Diotrophes would cast out of the church anyone who would receive John and his companions. He forced his will on others in the most despicable way. He “hath not seen God” (3 John 11). What was Diotrophes' motivation? He loved “to have the preeminence among them.” He wanted to be the one who called all the shots, regardless of how wrong those calls were. He wanted to be number one.

In sharp contrast to Diotrephes, Demetrius was of God. Everyone knew what kind of man Demetrius was. The truth gave witness to his faithfulness. John gave witness of his faithfulness, which “ye know that our record is true.” John (and the Holy Spirit) wanted Gaius, as well as all the world, to know that what he said was true, not made up, not idle gossip, nor designed to defame anyone. This was necessary information for Gaius so that he would not be fooled by Diotrephes. It is also necessarry information for us so that we will not be pushed around and lead astray by anyone like Diotrephes.

It is important to remember that Diotrephes was not a man operating within the bounds of an elder, feeding the flock. He was one who was just trying to have his own way because “he loved the preeminence.” Notice his tactics of 1) defaming others whom he disliked, 2) rejecting those he defamed, and 3) making sure no one else accepted those whom he attacked. By this scheme he attempted to maintain control of that congregation. But, after John had written his epistle the truth had been made known; Diotrephes had been exposed as the type of domineering man that he was.

It is hard to determine just how much damage one such as Diotrephes could do to the faith of others. Firstly, one such man could prevent new converts to Christ from hearing the true, unadulterated, pure Gospel, which would otherwise cause their faith and resolve to increase. Secondly, by that one's own hypocrisy, he may cause others to lose their faith: new (or even older) Christians may flee that congregation, looking for a congregation whose members really believe and live by the Bible. Perhaps they would find a congregation where they will be fed false doctrine, or even leave the church altogether.

Gaius was a man who had truly been converted by the Gospel. By all accounts of those with whom he interacted, his life exemplified that light which is set upon a candlestick and not buried under a bushel (Matt. 5:15-16). He was shown the poor example which should not be followed (Diotrephes), and shown the good example which should be followed (Demetrius). Which example do we follow in our daily walk?

Curtis Little, Royse City, TX

Curtis A. Little
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Schedule of Services

Morning Worship . . .9:30 AM
Bible Class . . . . . . 10:45 AM

Evening Worship . . .5:00 PM
(except for every 1st Sunday of the month, devotional at ~12:30 PM)

Bible Class . . . . . . . 7:00 PM

Ladies' Bible Class
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205 Bell St.
Royse City, Texas 75189

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P.O. Box 103
Royse City, Texas 75189