This morning concludes our study of What Love Is: The Letters of 1,2,3 John by Kelly Minter. We have learned so many life sustaining, wonderful truths over the last seven weeks. I have a couple of extra goodies for you this week so be sure to check back during the week. If you’d like to review past recaps or would like to begin this study from the beginning, all of the former posts related to this study can be found under the Bible Studies Archive tab here. I’m so glad you joined in for this journey!
“The elder, To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth-and not I only, but also all who know the truth-because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love. It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” 2 John 1-6
Instead of a generalized circuit letter read from church to church which was a common practice at that time, John sent this letter to a specific church. He commends some for walking in truth but encourages all to walk in obedience to God’s commands. John tells them that love and truth go together. They compliment one another. We need both of these qualities to walk rightly. Truth without love is harsh and judgmental. Love without truth doesn’t seek out the highest good only the emotions and passion.
“Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 7-9
When my son was younger, he hated doing worksheets at school. He called them busy work. He would hustle through his work without checking it because he disliked doing it and wanted to get to the fun activities. He would run ahead. Sometimes, we feel as if our spiritual walks seem boring and monotonous. Like my son hurrying to the fun, we can find ourselves straying after a new shiny idea, the latest fad, or a message that isn’t quite truth. We need to watch ourselves by holding up every shiny new idea, fad, experience, or doctrine against the plumbline of truth so we aren’t deceived. John provided a question to the church in order to determine whether the person came in truth: Does this person acknowledge Jesus as coming in the flesh?
“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work. I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete. The children of your chosen sister send their greetings.” 2 John 10-13
Kelly Minter instructed us that the word for house in this passage implies the home where the church meeting was held. She also told us that the person listed here was not a casual visitor but an official speaker. With these clarifications in mind, John instructs this church and us to be careful who we allow to speak from our pulpits. We should guard against deceptive and false teachings that don’t acknowledge Jesus as divine and human. On a final note, John wanted to speak and visit with this church and the members face to face. He felt affection for these believers and wanted to enjoy their fellowship. John also wanted to be with them in person to see all the nuances of their faces, their vocal intonations, and their expressions as they talked. So much more is conveyed when we talk with one another face to face rather than by phone, email, text,or letter. Don’t you agree?
“The elder, To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.” 3 John 1-8
Gaius received this personal letter from John. He wrote to encourage Gaius, to assure him of Demetrius, and of his upcoming visit. John also expresses his joy to Gaius about the reports he had received from others about Gaius’ faithfulness and hospitality to strangers. During the time of this letter, hospitality was a duty that all in the ancient world shared. To send someone to a local inn was to subject them to not only unsanitary conditions but also the innkeeper’s greed, likely physical danger, and the possibility of being sold as a slave. The Christian was to gladly welcome friends, friends of friends, and even strangers into their home with generosity. In this passage, the strangers were wandering preachers sharing the message of Jesus Christ.
“I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone- and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true. I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.” 3 John 9-14
What surprised me the most, upon reading this portion of 3 John, was that Diotrephes talked maliciously about John and wanted nothing to do with him. John was a pillar of the church [Galatians 2:9] and a disciple of Jesus [Matthew 10:2] yet this man was at odds with him and spoke against him. Diotrephes was a believer yet he wasn’t acting in a manner that reflected his beliefs. Perhaps, he felt his local congregation had outgrown the need of support from the Church or maybe, he felt that they should settle their own affairs without any interference from the Church and apostles like John. Diotrephes, obviously, resented what he felt was John’s meddling and having to provide hospitality for these traveling ministers. The outcome of Diotrephes’ behavior was reflecting poorly on this congregation.
John contrasts Diotrephes’ behavior and actions with those of Demetrius. John speaks highly of Demetrius and encourages Gaius to make sure that hospitality is extended to him. John concludes this letter with friendship greetings. These fellow Christians weren’t people that John didn’t know. He knew their characters, good and bad. He knew them by name. They weren’t nameless faces but friends that he looked forward to seeing.
In this lesson, we returned to where we began in 1 John. We revisited the phrase “that which was from the beginning” in an effort to try and understand what John meant. We also cross referenced and reflected on the importance of the incarnation of Jesus and the divinity of Jesus.
Questions to Consider
- Do I walk in faith with truth and love or do I focus more on one characteristic without the other one?
- Am I sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading regarding the information that I read and hear?
- Am I only a morally good person that believes in God or do I truly seek to follow the teachings of Jesus?
- Have I ever considered extending hospitality to traveling Christians by inviting them into my home and providing for them? If so, what can I do to practice more hospitality? If not, what keeps me from showing hospitality to other believers in my home?
- Jesus was fully God and fully Man. Which aspect of Him impacts me the most: His humanity or His divinity?
Congratulations on finishing well! Excellent job! Thank you for joining me on this journey through What Love Is: The Letters of 1,2,3 John by Kelly Minter. Blessings,