August 14th 2010

No Welcome In The Parlour

11th in a series based on 3 John

“Not satisfied with that, he (Diotrephes) refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.”
3 John 10b (NIV)

Imagine a scene in which your local congregational leader refuses publicly to welcome visitors sent by his church supervisor.

This appears to be the case here. We have read how Diotrephes, the local church leader, loved to be first in the church and how his position and power were under threat by what the Apostle John had to say. Therefore Diotrephes tried to discredit John’s message by spreading malicious gossip about John. And now, to top it all off, he rejects the visitors sent by John, and, if some members of the congregation try to welcome them, they are disfellowshipped!

Diotrephes acts without local accountability in what he does. John is bringing him into church discipline, but there appears to be no one locally who had tackled Diotrephes’ inappropriate use of authority. Elsewhere in the New Testament there are references to councils of elders that shared local accountability (1 Timothy 4:14), but that does not seem to be case in this instance.

This was an emergency situation. What should a congregation do? What should John as the pastoral overseer do? What about Gaius to whom John addressed his letter? Should Gaius do something? And what about the missionaries, the brothers, as John calls them?

There is also another player on the scene and it is to him that John points the congregation. Next week we will see the how this additional player fits into the unfolding drama.

Father in heaven, my prayers go out for congregations in distress. I pray for pastoral supervisors, that they may know how to respond to whatever situation comes their way. And I pray for our local leadership that you would keep them close to you.  In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson

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