Grab your notes for this episode by completing the form
and we will send you the link to all our notes.

Follow the podcast

* indicates required

John writes to the elder Gaius, who is faithful, to encourage him as he handles the split in the church.

Dan: (00:00)
Hi everyone, and welcome again to TrainingforLifeRedeemed. I’m Dan, and this is my father, David Jackson. We are working through the three letters of John. We are starting today at number three. We’re going to look at the third letter of John. Now, Dad, John is writing letters to a church where there is some kind of split. There’s this guy Diotrephes or Diotrephess, or if you wanna try and pronounce it correctly, Diotrephes. . Depends on whatever pronunciation you wanna go with your Greek. But, that’s there. And then there’s Demetrius who’s there as well. And John’s writing a letter to this church. Let’s start with, do we have any idea what church this is? Who are these two people? Why is John not with them? Why is he writing letters to them? He does say at the end of this letter that he’s going to come and talk face to face, so he can’t be locked up yet. No. obviously somewhere else. What’s going on?

David: (00:55)
What’s going on? As far as we know John based his ministry toward the end, in Ephesus. So you’re on the west coast of Turkey, and there’s a, a river valley that then a group of churches, the Lycus valley. So churches like Laodicea Colossae. and if you go to the book of Revelation, he writes to seven churches and they’re all in that general area. So somehow John has responsibility, to look after the, those, that little network of churches and whatever’s going on at the time. some false teaching has swept through all those churches, or at least some of them. Mm-hmm. . and the result is that one elder in the church is going this way. One elder’s staying faithful, one’s following the heresy. and in the process, the church members have then got to decide who’s who, which is right.

David: (01:54)
And some church members have gone one way and some have gone the other. And John’s the apostle. He’s the guy who was with Jesus. So the question is, how do I know whether I’m in the right camp? How do I know that what I’m believing is true? Do I go with the, the nice charismatic elder, you know, who delivers Christmas hampers to the poor or something? Or do I go with the other elder who’s, you know, maybe not as friendly? Do I go with who’s friendly do I go with who’s right? How do I know? Mm-hmm. . so this whole question of assurance that we talked about last time has come up because a second gospel has been introduced. And from what we can pick up in 1 John, part of that story is that they don’t believe Jesus is God. So at the heart of this heresy, God did not come in the flesh. And that’s, you know, that’s hard enough to believe anyway. but if people are going to come in and deny the Trinity and deny that Jesus is God, how do you know?

Dan: (03:05)

David: (03:06)
and we still, I mean, you look around our world, how many church splits have there been over doctrine? Lots. And how many of those doctrines are the kind of doctrines that determine whether you’re saved or you’re not saved?

Dan: (03:20)
Not too many. Not

David: (03:21)

Dan: (03:21)
Well, modern, modern wise, not too many. Yeah.

David: (03:24)

Dan: (03:24)
Past funny .

David: (03:26)
Yeah. But you look at all the different cults and sects and, you know, we had a group two houses up, three houses up that were Unitarian Pentecostals. So they believed in the filling of the Holy Spirit, but they believed the Holy Spirit wasn’t a person.

Dan: (03:44)

David: (03:45)
And Jesus wasn’t God. And you just go, What, what’s happening here? so this is a gospel issue and this church has split, and obviously some people have contacted John to say help.

Dan: (04:03)
Mm-hmm. . Okay. So John writes this letter. It looks like it’s at a time where things are kind of persecuted as well, because it’s not written overly bluntly. It’s . I’d like to know. You know, so it’s from the elder who we’ve presumed is John .

David: (04:18)
He doesn’t name himself

Dan: (04:19)
So it’s never been named . But then throughout here he talks about, Yeah. Welcoming in the brethren. Are the brethren then, like the group of apostles, are they other leaders of the church? Are they different churches in the area? , who are the brethren that they’re accepting and rejecting? He calls them children and like he doesn’t, Are they, is that just the code name for the church? Is it ? Yeah. So there’s lots of different words here that could mean a few different things. Can you clarify for us just a few of them? ? Yeah. So when we read it, we go, Okay. That’s what, that’s who it’s talking about. Yeah. Yeah.

David: (04:56)
So John’s, the elder. Churches were ruled by a board of elders. So a synagogue. So you just take that synagogue thing, roll it over, and heads of families who were believers, and who had their life together, respectable, exemplary heads of their families were elders. And if you put a bunch of elders together, they basically, former council that guides, governs rules, the Christian community. so if you had a problem, you had a dispute, you’d bring it to the elders. Yep. and they’ll open their Bibles and sort out what’s wrong, so that he is included in that company. But he’s also the older elder . and he’s, because he was with Jesus. So we, we are looking at this and thinking this is somewhere in the sixties ad mm-hmm. , John would’ve been in his sixties at the time.

Dan: (05:52)
How older possibly wouldn’t he?

David: (05:54)
Oh, possibly.

Dan: (05:55)
Jesus dies

David: (05:56)
33, AD. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. So, and he was born 6 BC Yeah. So, you know, he, he could be 70, but there he is, He’s, you know, he’s got all these churches. He was there from the beginning, he’s the senior of the elders. you’ve got messengers going for it. And I think we don’t appreciate, we don’t appreciate this. I get on the, my phone and I contact anybody. Right. so you got to go back to a point where a, there were no printing presses, let alone computers. Everything was handwritten. And if you wanted to send a letter, you had to physically find somebody to carry it there for you. So in this network of churches, they had

Dan: (06:41)
Before the post office too

David: (06:43)
? Yeah. No post office. The only, the post office was only operating for Roman officials. so official Roman correspondence. But if you were just a pleb an ordinary person, you had to find somebody to take your letter to another city. and that could take quite some time. Mm-hmm. so what the churches did, the early churches organized people They called messengers. And so when you open revelation, John will talk about this, the angel of the church at, And he’s what? He’s talk

Dan: (07:13)

David: (07:14)
Yeah, he’s talking about messengers. The word Anglo just means messenger. Sometimes it’s a human being. sometimes it’s not. God referred to the prophets, as his messengers, didn’t mean they had wings and funny halos and things. So these message messengers are carrying letters from one church to the other and then bringing the replies back and there’d be little bags of mail. I think that what’s happening here is that 3 John, 2 John and 1 John are all in one packet. And this letter third John, is written to the minister at one of the churches who has been faithful. And his name’s Gaius. Yep. So Gaius is a good guy. He’s stuck with the gospel. He’s faithful to the word, but this other fella Diotrephes or mm-hmm. , however you say it, trophies. He’s a bad guy. He’s the, obviously the elder of who walked outta the church and started another church. And he’s not accepting any messengers from John or from any of the other churches. He’s setting up his own show. So if you belong to John’s faithful cohort, he won’t have you in church membership. Yep. So it’s that kind of a split, but these messengers are going backwards and forwards. Now, if you’re a messenger from Ephesus and you’re going to walk all the way to say Laodicea or Colossae, where you going to stay? No, Airbnb, no motels.

Dan: (08:46)
Well, it’s kind of Airbnb. It’s just not online. got to go there and find someone who has a spare room called an inn .

David: (08:53)
Yeah. So you go to the marketplace at the town and you say, Does anybody know Demetrius? Yeah. I’m looking for a Demetrius. And eventually somebody, you know, will find Demetrius and you go to his house and you hope to goodness that he’s going to let you stay there and feed you, and give you some food for the trip back. So there’s, there’s this culture of hospitality and all of these guys are, you expect as a Christian household that you would be having people stay with you on a regular basis. but you won’t be staying at Diotrphes’ house. but you can get a bed at Demetrius. So, we’re going to go there and John’s written to Gaius and Demetrius to say, Well done, you guys. Hang on. and how then to handle it. and again, he talks about love and he talks about lifestyle. So three John, I think it gives us a bit of a model of how church, One church relates to another church and how Faithful Church handles people who walk out to believe a different gospel. and part of the way is these letters are being exchanged and things are being put in writing so that everybody can get the, get the message at the same time rather than gossipy sort of conversations.

Dan: (10:17)
Okay. So a basic gist then from the third letter of John. Yep. Is Diotrephes is bad . Yep. The other guys are doing faithful stuff. keep going with your faithful stuff. I’m going to come and hang out with you in a minute. Cause says is coming , he’s coming face to face. he doesn’t seem to indicate that he’s going to come and like issue judgment on the other guy.

David: (10:40)
He’s coming, he’s coming to

Dan: (10:42)
Un, he’s coming to just sort stuff out. He’s

David: (10:44)
Coming to encourage the ones who are faithful and to set out for them, you know, answer their questions and deal with the issues and reassure them that they’re on the right page with Jesus.

Dan: (10:54)
Not like a Paul in one or two, whatever, whichever Corinthians it is where he is like, I’m going to come and Yeah. Get rid of that guy. And

David: (11:00)
That, that’s because in the Corinthians setup, the church didn’t split.

Dan: (11:03)

David: (11:04)
it was fractured, It was in factions, but it was still one church. This church has split. Yeah. And John isn’t welcome in the other place, so he’s going to come to where he is Welcome and encourage those people.

Dan: (11:16)
Right. Well, I hope you guys enjoy reading Third John, the third letter. If you would like your study notes to go along with this book from the Bible, please head over to Please make sure you subscribe in a hit the second letter of John next week and talk about that. So we would love for you to come and join us for that. and if you are listening on the podcast series, we also have videos on YouTube if you would like to come and see what we look like or anything like that. And, see us chat to each other in my dad’s library. you’re welcome to come and do that too. Just search for TrainingforLiferedeemed on YouTube and you can find us there. All right guys, have a lovely week.