Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

3 John: The Inclusive Boundaries Of God's Local Church Fellowship
Part II: Correcting The Abuses Of Biblical Inclusivism In The Local Church
(3 John 9-14)
  1. Introduction
    1. The effort of protect the local church from error through applying the 2 John 9-10 call to separate from apostates has at times extended much too far, resulting in errant, unedifying division in the family of God.
    2. After describing the correct bounds of inclusivism for the local church's fellowship in 3 John 1-8, John addresses abuses of this boundary of inclusivism in 3 John 9-14 in a passage very relevant for us today:
  2. Correcting The Abuses Of Biblical Inclusivism In The Local Church, 3 John 9-14.
    1. John addressed the abuses of inclusivism in the local church performed by Diotrephes in 3 John 9-10:
      1. Diotrephes "desired to have the preeminence" (philoproteouo) to "love the chief place, to be first," in the local church, Moulton & Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek N. T. , 1972, p. 671. This desire was sin, one that is countered by Scripture passages like Philippians 2:3.
      2. To feed his lust for preeminence, Diotrephes did not tolerate rival leadership, so he rejected even the Apostles like John from visiting the local church, 3 John 9b. John thus claimed that when he came, he would hold Diotrephes accountable for his words against the Apostles since he chattered (phluareo, Ibid., p. 673) evil [malicious] words against them, 3 John 10a NIV, U. B. S. Greek N. T. , 1966, p. 831.
      3. Not only that, but Diotrephes also refused to let traveling evangelists and teachers, "missionaries" enter and speak to the local church as they became a threat to his preeminence in his estimation, 3 John 10b.
      4. Still not content, self-exalting, controlling Diotrephes forbade others in the church from receiving these missionaries, and "banished" (ekballo, Ibid., Moulton & Milligan, p. 191) those who did, 3 John 10c!
    2. John admonished his reader Gaius against such abuses in favor of uprightness, 3 John 11:
      1. John urged Gaius not to imitate what is evil in Diotrephes' life and actions, but what is good, 3 John 11a. Versus wanting the preeminence so as to reject other leaders, a sin leading to verbal abuse and controlling rejection of others, Gaius was to be humble, accepting other godly folk in the body.
      2. After all, any who did what was good in humbly accepting others who Biblically qualified to be a part of the body was from God, but any who acted like Diotrephes did not fellowship with God as he was spiritually blind relative to the things of God, 3 John 11b; Bible Knowledge Com., N. T., p. 914!
    3. John addressed the correct inclusivism in the local church regarding Demetrius, 3 John 12:
      1. Opposite his critique of evil Diotrephes, John praised the godly Demetrius, 3 John 12a.
      2. That testimony came from a variety of attesting witnesses as mentioned by John, 3 John 12b:
        1. All of the believers in the local church spoke well of Demetrius, 3 John 12b. This means none of them had been wrongfully maligned or pushed away from the local church by him since he had no evil lust to be preeminent in the local church like Diotrephes did!
        2. The truth of God's Word itself testified as to his uprightness (3 John 12c), meaning Demetrius was not arrogant or proud, but supportive of other gifted, prominent believers in the local church.
        3. Christ's apostles also testified of Demetrius' uprightness along with the testimony of Scripture (3 John 12d), so their spiritually mature oversight saw in him true the quality of true selflessness.
    4. John closed his epistle in 3 John 13-14, claiming he wanted to say much more in person when he met Gaius, and he ended with a greeting until such a productive meeting would occur.
Lesson: Where Diotrephes sinfully lusted for the preeminence in the local church and wickedly countered and maligned all who threatened his agenda to be exalted there, including the Apostles, traveling "missionaries" even to become controlling by banishing believers in the local body who accepted those he opposed, Demetrius correctly remained humble, having no desire for preeminence, but was edifying to all local believers, being testified as upright by Scripture and the Apostles. Gaius was thus to follow Demetrius' good example instead of Diotrephes' evil one.

Application: May we follow the godly example of Demetrius instead of Diotrephes' ungodly one, being careful to avoid the lust of self-exaltation in favor of humbly serving God in the local church.