Sweet Harmony?

3 John 9 – 12

I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.

In the video service for Sunday I make mention of how some yearn for the First Century Church when they fondly imagine all was sweetness and light with everyone getting on famously with everyone else. Except of course it wasn’t quite like that at all.

There were many false prophets who for whatever reason preached a false Gospel. Sometimes this was due to a genuine misunderstanding on their part of the message Jesus had both preached and lived, others though deliberately corrupted the Gospel for their own malicious reasons. Remember when Paul was writing to the Church in Galatia he became so exasperated with them following false teachings he called them “Foolish Galatians”?

Here John hears of the trouble caused by Diotrephes.  He doesn’t go into a lot of detail as both he and the recipients of the letter know only too well what the problem is, so no need for explanations which is a bit annoying for us two millennia later trying to work it out! The accepted view is that he is not a spiritual leader like a Bishop or Deacon but a very strong willed Elder or other layman.  He enjoys the power he has obtained through his position in the congregation and will not accept John’s or anyone else’s authority. John seeks to establish his authority not for himself or to satisfy his ego but to ensure the Church and congregation receive the correct Gospel message.

Argument and dispute over matters of faith are at times a good thing; they ensure the faith is tested and found to be robust enough to withstand doubt and indeed attack from outside. The trick is to remember after the discussion that we are all God’s children, that there are no winners or losers just children on a journey.


Lord God our loving Father in Heaven, we seek to walk with you.  Help us keep to the path and not wander off to follow our own desires and wants. May we seek to follow Jesus’ example and seek to fulfil your will before our own.

In your Mercy hear our prayer,