I love John’s third epistle. It is written to Gaius. He begins the letter with these words, “The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.” (3 John 1)
This is significant because as we read further down, John had written to the church previously but there was some church problems. The church would not receive John because they were being run by one man:
“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.” (3 John 9)
Diotrephes was quite possibly the pastor, a deacon, or some prominent member there. We do not know but Gaius was a member who was not of the same persuasion of Diotrephes. What Pastor Diotrephes or Deacon Diotrephes (his title doesn’t matter) was doing was wrong! And Gaius had paid a price for it.
“Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” (3 John 10)
What does this last part mean about casting out of the church? Was he forbidding those that disagree from coming to the worship services? Was he having them excluded? Either one is wrong, and abuse of power is nothing new. Gaius would have been caught in that.
John didn’t “treat him as a heathen man and a publican.” He didn’t even write to tell him to go back and “apologize to Diotrephes” or to “have better respect for church authority” in order to keep the peace. No! He wrote to Gaius as “well-beloved” who he loved for the truth and he encourages him to continue in those things that would have gotten him in trouble in the first place.
In a day when so many are departing from the truth, we don’t need any more guys like Diotrephes, but we do need more men like Gauis, and more men like John. The Lord’s churches would be so much better!
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”
(3 John 4)