Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 58
Okay, we’re going to right back in where we left off, we Are in III John now. We’re winding down these little Jewish epistles and next program we’ll go into Jude and I failed to do the first five chapters of Revelation when we did it years back, and so we’ll probably go into the first five chapters because a lot of people are calling, now where are we going to go when we finish these little epistles? So after we’ve finished the first five chapters of Revelation, I’m thinking and planning if the Lord leads, we’ll go back and start a study in Isaiah.
Okay, but today we’ve still got a ways to go, we’re in III John and we just made a few comments on it in our last program, so we’ll just start at verse 1.
III John 1:1
“The elder unto the well beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.”
Again he refers to himself as “The elder” even as he did in the letter to the lady in II John. And now he’s writing to his beloved friend Gaius, who was no doubt a rather well to do gentleman. And whom he said, “Whom I love in the truth.” There’s that word again. John is constantly making reference to being in truth. And as I said in that time, a couple of programs back, that you can almost always substitute “truth” with the name of the Lord Jesus, who is Truth.
All right now verse 2 is an interesting verse. I imagine the casual reader would never catch it.
III John 1:2
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, (physical health) even as thy soul prospereth.”
Now evidently in spite of his wealth, Gaius, was in poor health. And so John is concerned about his health situation, which again brings up the point that just because we’re believers doesn’t mean that we are guaranteed good health. A lot of people like to proclaim that good health and salvation go hand in hand, but the Scripture doesn’t substantiate that.
We found that Paul prayed for his friend that was on the island of Miletus, what? Sick. He couldn’t heal him. And for Timothy, who had evidently had a stomach problem, he prescribed wine for his stomach. Why didn’t he heal him? Well that had all faded off the scene. And so the same way here. Why didn’t John just stop a minute and heal Gaius, but he does not and he cannot. But he would certainly pray and hope that his health would equal his physical prosperity. Now verse 3.
III John 1:3
“For I rejoice greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in truth.”
In other words, fellow believers had come and told John about the spiritual walk of this man Gaius.
III John 1:4
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”
Now isn’t that true of all of us? There’s nothing that thrills us more than to know that, not just our immediate family, but all those with whom we are intimately concerned, to know that they walk as fellow believers. My what a joy!
I know Iris and I are so blessed, we’re confident that if the Lord should come today none of our immediate family would be left behind. Not many people can say that. And so we know that we are singularly blessed. And here John makes the same kind of statement. What greater joy could a person have than to know that your whole family is in Christ and walk in it.
III John 1:5
“Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;”
Gaius was no doubt a hospitable man and opened his wealthy beautiful home to strangers.
III John 1:6-7
“Which have borne witness of thy charity (that is his love, his outgoingness) before the church: (or that local congregation of believers) whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: 7. Because that for his name’s sake (because of the name of Christ) they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.”
That is these folks that had been part and parcel of the ministry there of this particular area church. Now remember we’re talking to an individual but he’s been involved in a local congregation, no doubt of mostly Jews; there may have been some Gentiles in regard to verse 7, “because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.”
III John 1:8
” We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow helpers to the truth.”
And I think it’s the reference to the Gentiles, they’re not going to shut them out as they did back in Christ’s earthly ministry.
Now when I say that, somebody who hasn’t been with me very long will never have a clue what I’m talking about. Gentiles, shut out? Absolutely! Come back with me to Matthew chapter 10. And I always make the point, never in all of Israel’s history were they told to go out and evangelize those pagan Gentiles, with one exception. And that was when Jonah was told to go where? To Ninevah. But being a good Jew, did Jonah saddle up and head east to Ninevah? Hardly. He went to the Mediterranean, got on ship, and he went as far the opposite direction as God would let him go.
And then of course, he was confronted with the alternative and rather than go to Ninevah, he what? Walked the plank! He just simply dropped into the Mediterranean. But of course, God had the big fish waiting for him and fulfilled the type at least of three days and three nights in the whale’s belly as Christ was three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40)
And then he could become a messenger to the Gentile city of Ninevah and Jesus uses that same analogy then in John’s Gospel chapter 12, “that as a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, then it can bring forth much fruit.” Well, He was referring to His own death, burial and resurrection before Gentiles could become objects of His Grace.
All right, now here was the attitude then that the Twelve were to hold against the Gentiles until the work of the cross was completed. Matthew 10 verse 5. Now I imagine most of people never know this is in their Bible. Sunday School quarterlies will never touch it, that’s for sure. All right, but look what it says, Jesus has chosen the Twelve and is giving them instructions.
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, nor into the city of the Samaritans enter you not: (Why?) 6. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’”
Now that throws a curve at a lot of people unless they have been with me all the way from Genesis 12, when God commissioned Abraham now to be the father of this new race of people (Israel – the Jew) that would come on the scene and through whom, God was going to eventually yes, take salvation to the Gentiles, but the Nation of Israel had to become obedient in total before that could happen. And so when He comes into His earthly ministry it’s in fulfillment of all those Old Testament promises made to the nation of Israel. And it had nothing to do with the Gentiles until that point out in the future when everything was appropriate.
All right, so now then for John to use this term is certainly a departure from Christ’s earthly ministry. And so now then, he says in verse 8:
III John 1:8
“We therefore ought to receive such, (that is Gentiles) that we might be fellow helpers to the truth.”
Okay, that should suffice for that for now. Now verse 9, where John says:
III John 1:9a
“I wrote unto the church:…”
And I’m sure he’s dealing with the local congregation of which Gaius was a part. Now here comes one of three names in this epistle. I haven’t mentioned them in this program, have I? I did in the last program. We’ve got three gentlemen in this little book of III John – Gaius, the wealthy house owner, who was hospitable and was a close friend of John. And then we have this Diotrephes, who was an adversary of the Apostle John, and who was a church ringleader of opposition. And then we have a good man associated with the church who was more or less an evangelist of sorts, and that’s Demetrius. So we have these three men that John is dealing with. All right, here is the one to whom he’s not very kind.
III John 1:9a
“I wrote unto the church: (I wrote to your local assembly) but Diotrephes,…”
Now he wasn’t the pastor, from what I can gather but he was one of the ringleaders, he was one of the kings-men in that local church. And he was more or less ruling the roost.
III John 1:9b
“…but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the (what?) preeminence…”
You know people like that? Sure we do. They want to have control of everything. Even though they’re not the pastor, they’re the ones who want to be looked up to. They may give the most. They have the most power and clout. Well, it’s been that way from day one. And so Diotrephes is a good example of that.
III John 1:9c
“…loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.”
They wouldn’t even welcome John! Can you imagine that? John one of the Twelve! John who has been in, what I’ve always called, the inner sanctum – Peter, James and John. Who was one of the pillars of the church at Jerusalem. And this guy won’t even respond to him? It’s unbelievable. But see, that’s how Satan can control certain individuals and yet they think they have and they want the preeminence.
III John 1:10a
“Wherefore, (John says) if I come, (that is to that local congregation) I will remember his deeds which he doeth prating against us with malicious words;…”
In other words, I just use the expression, running off at the mouth. Now I’m not concocting anything that’s not here. This is exactly what it was. Here was this rank individual controlling that little local congregation and even against an authority like the Apostle John. It’s unbelievable isn’t it?
III John 1:10b
“…and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, (in other words, he was not very hospitable even with his own fellow believers. If indeed you can call him a believer) and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.”
Quite a guy wasn’t he? Amazing. Now this is back in the Apostolic Age. This is back probably in the 50’s. Now when I say the 50’s, I’m not talking about the 1950’s! I’m talking about the 50’s of the first century. Pentecost 29 (AD); Paul is converted in 37 (AD) and goes to the Gentiles in 40 (AD) and now the Scriptures, the New Testament is coming together from about 50 AD until 68 AD. All right, so when I speak of the 50’s in these little epistles, that’s the 50’s of the first century. All right, verse 11.
III John 1:11a
“Beloved, follow not that which is evil,…”
Now human nature being what it is, this guy had some kind of power. Whether he had wealth or whether he just had the ability to manipulate people – were they following him? Yes, they were following him. Even in his false teaching. In his derogatory remarks concerning John. Yeah, the majority of the congregation evidently were following this fellow and were a destroying factor of the local congregation. But he says, “Don’t follow him – Follow that which is good.”
III John 1:11b
“… He that doeth good is of God: be he that doeth evil hath not seen God.”
Even though he’s a member of the church. That doesn’t mean anything. He still does not know God. All right, now verse 12.
III John 1:12
“Demetrius hath good report of all men, (quite a difference isn’t it? What a difference!) and of the truth itself: (and again, of Jesus Christ. Demetrius had no problem elevating the name of Christ) yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.”
John could speak of those three years with Christ’s ministry. John could speak of the resurrection. In fact, that just brings me a thought. I wasn’t going to do this but come back with me to John’s Gospel. And don’t think these fellows ever forgot these things. They were just as human as we are. I think we forget that. I think a lot of times we think these people 2000 years ago were a total different makeup. No they weren’t. They were just as human. They had the same hang ups. They had the same memories that we do.
All right, in John’s Gospel chapter 20 and I imagine this is some of what he’s thinking of. Must have been. I’ve got time enough to do this, so let’s start right at verse 1 because this is all part and parcel of the memories that were still with these men some 20 years later now. That’s not all that long when it comes to memory.
“The first day of the week (Sunday) cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, (Sep-ul’-cher. Somebody told me I didn’t pronounce it right, so I’m going to try to remember my critics) and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. 2. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, (now with that word loved, who was it? John.) and saith unto them. They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.”
Do you get the consternation? The tomb is empty. Somebody robbed the grave. Now what does that tell you? They didn’t know He was going to be raised from the dead! They had no idea He was going to be crucified. If they would have, they would have been out there watching for it, but they weren’t. But now she does come to anoint the corpse, as was custom. I don’t know who she was going to have roll that stone away, but evidently that was accounted for. But here she comes. And the tomb is empty and she thinks He’s been robbed. She said, “I don’t know where they’ve laid Him.” Peter is just as shocked as Mary Magdalene.
“Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulcher.”
They ran. Why were they running? Shock! How could that tomb be empty? We had guards placed outside of it. The Romans put those guards there at threat of death. And He’s gone? How can it be?
“So they ran both together: and the other disciple (John) did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.”
And John, he was timid, and I think several years younger than Peter looked in.
“And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. 6. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie.”
Now have you got a little imagination? Can you see these two guys on a dead run? John probably being a little younger, lighter of foot, he gets there first. But he’s too timid to just jump into that empty tomb. Now remember it’s a cave in the side of a limestone hill. We’re not talking about a hole in the ground. But he looks into that sepulcher and Peter of course, jumps right in. He has to look it all over. All right, so “Simon Peter following went into the sepulcher and sees the linen clothes lie.” WOW! That’s what He was wrapped in! How can they be here and He’s gone?! Now you want to remember resurrection hasn’t entered their head yet. They know nothing of that.
“And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.”
Now what does that indicate? Well, something transpired that after He was out of the linen wrap, He took the head wrap and laid it off probably at the corner by itself. Now all of this suddenly got them to thinking. All right, read on, verse 8.
“Then went in also that other disciple,…”
Now you’ve got to stop and smile a little bit. What do you suppose John now figures? Well it’s safe. Peter’s been able to go in and he’s still alive. So now John goes in and joins him into that cave, into that sepulcher.
“…which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, (the evidence and he what?) and believed.”
He believed! He’s risen from the dead! Now why am I making that point? The next verse. And why am I making the next verse the point? Because someone told me years back that on their Sunday School quarterly on the Easter Sunday morning lesson, they skipped that verse. Totally skipped it as though it wasn’t even in their Bible. Now what a tragedy, because this says it all!
“For as yet (up until that point in time) they (Peter and John and of course you can throw Mary in as well) knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.”
They didn’t know. But now they believed it. They saw the evidence. And then verse 10:
“Then the disciples went away to their own home.”
Now what does that tell you? Well, they didn’t go out into the highways and byways proclaiming it. They went home! Why? Well, they had no idea what to proclaim. This was something that caught them totally off guard. And so they’re not in any position to even go out into the streets and the highways and the byways of Jerusalem and proclaim the resurrected Christ. Amazing isn’t it? They went home.
Now then, a little bit later in Luke’s account, where does Jesus find them? Up at the Sea of Galilee fishing. Remember? And then He appears on the seashore and He’s got fish frying and He’s got bread waiting and when He asks them if they’ve caught any fish, and their answer was “no not a thing.” Well, He’s got breakfast ready so it really didn’t matter. But see, it all goes to show they could not preach the Gospel of Grace (faith in His death, burial, and resurrection) …now this brings in another point. Back to Luke 18. Because see all of this fits. And this is what most of Christendom do not see. It isn’t because I’m concocting it, because it’s right here in the Book, it’s just that most of Christendom is never taught this for whatever reason.
It’s been a long time since we’ve used these verses here in Luke 18. A long time. They’re at the end of Christ’s earthly ministry. They’re up in northern Israel, up there north of Galilee and they’re going to go up to Jerusalem for Passover and the Crucifixion, in a matter of hours. But now look what happens.
“Then he (Jesus) took unto him the twelve, (the twelve Disciples, that He’s been with now for three years) and he said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets (Old Testament) concerning the Son of man, shall be accomplished. 32. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on; 33. And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.”
That’s what Jesus told them! Did He know it was coming? Of course He did! He programmed it all in eternity past. And I’ve said it a hundred times if I’ve said it once, He could have named the Roman soldiers that nailed Him to the cross. He knew every little detail. But look at the next verse.
“And they (the Twelve) understood none of these things: and this saying (every word that He had just said) was hid from them, (they never caught it. Why?) neither knew they the things which were spoken.”
Well they weren’t supposed to. You ever stop and think what would have happened up there in Jerusalem if these twelve men would have known that they were going to try and kill their Messiah. Why they would have precipitated some kind of problem, but it just caught them so totally off guard that they made no defense. And after the fact they scattered, as I’ve often said, like a little flock of quail.
And then when resurrection morning comes and Mary Magdalene comes running and telling Peter and John the tomb was empty, they were in utter shock. They had no idea that He was going to be raised from the dead. But He had told them. And what’s my point? God keeps things secret from whomever He wants to keep it until He’s ready to reveal it.
And of course, that’s the whole concept of Paul’s message that everything that was revealed to the Apostle Paul, God had kept secret from the Twelve and from everybody else until it was time now to go to the Gentile world with the salvation message that Paul had received for us from the ascended Lord. How we must believe in our heart that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again, as we see in I Corinthians 15:1-4 and many other of Paul’s writings.
All right, let’s go quickly back to III John, maybe I can finish it and be ready for Jude next time. Now verse 13.
III John 1:13a
“I had many things to write,…”
Well, now I’ve just given you a glimpse, what all could he have written about? All of his experience in those three years with the Lord Jesus, the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit coming down. How he and James and Peter had confronted the Apostle Paul, and his message of Grace in Acts chapter 15, and all these things were just filling the Apostle’s mind.
And you know I get a little glimpse of it once in a while. People will send me a list of ten questions and I just finally say, hey, I can’t put all this down on pencil and paper. I’d rather call you on the phone. Well I imagine John was the same way. There was so much that there wasn’t any way he could put it all down on paper. He said:
III John 1:13b
“I will not with ink and pen write unto thee.”
III John 1:14a
“But I trust I shall shortly see thee,…”
In spite of old Diotrephes, he’s going to go for a visit. And he’s at least going to visit with Gaius and he’s going to meet this fellow Demetrius and he would probably have to ignore the local congregation, they probably wouldn’t let him in the door. Sound familiar? It is to me.
III John 1:14b
“…and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.”
And that’s the end of John’s little epistles. But do you catch the love in it all. And yet in spite of all of his love there was an individual who detested him, and fought him tooth and nail.