Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Is there Evil in the Church?


3 John 1:1 NKJV The Elder, To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:

3 John 1:9 NKJV I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us.

3 John 1:12 NKJV Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true.


The Apostle John

This is really a sad letter as far as I am concerned.  Gaius needs instruction.  Diotrephes needs to be recognized for what he is–an evil man trying to control an assembly of the Lord.  Demetrius needs to be imitated or followed by Gaius and others in the assembly since John sees him as having a good testimony.  His life was evidence of the reality of his profession of faith. 


The Key Verse

3 John 1:11 NKJV, “Beloved (Gaius), do not imitate (follow) what is evil (Diotrephes), but what is good (Demetrius). He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.”


Apparently Diotrephes was not saved.  He had not seen God yet he took a position within the church that God had not given him.  He was keeping the Apostle John and other faithful brethren from coming and ministering to the church.  He was saying malicious things about the Apostle John.  He was casting out of the church those who tried to help the faithful who wanted to come and minister to the needs of those in the assembly.  In other words, Gaius either had to agree with him or he too would be “put out” of the church.  And yet John tells Gaius to support Demetrius who is good and to not support Diotrephes who wanted to be the main man in charge of the church.


Who Won?

I don’t know whether Diotrephes was brought into submission or not. All I know is that in the church universal, there is no evil.  All are saved.  All are subject to the Lord.  But in the local church there is evil.  Not all are saved.  Not all are walking with the Lord and not all are subject to the will of the Lord.  We often hear that the local church is a miniature of the universal church but obviously there are some differences, and this is one of them.  There are no unsaved men with the personality of a Diotrephes in the universal church.


When Paul left Ephesus for the last time he warned them in Acts 20:29-31: “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” I would assume that Diotrephes was one that rose up from within.  Paul had warned Ephesus and now Gaius was being warned by the Apostle John about this very situation. Would we have the courage today to carry out the instructions of the Apostle John?


What was Wrong?

Diotrephes wanted the preeminence.  The Lord is supposed to have the preeminence.  The Lord always raised up elders by the Holy Spirit.  There was always more than one when a church was functioning properly.  Diotrephes seemed to want to be the man in charge without accountability to others.


What are We supposed to Do?

Obviously, we should pray about this situation.  We should consult with others in the assembly to make sure that we don’t become like a Diotrephes ourselves. It appears that we as Christians need to pray for discernment and sometimes we need an outside authority like the Apostle John to come and help us deal with the situation.  That person should be one that the whole congregation trusts.  Perhaps it should be one who has seen people saved within the congregation.


I am sure that at first Diotrephes seemed like a good leader.  But I wonder if those who were following him had heard how he came to faith in the Lord. Then did they wait for a while that he might be ‘tested” or proved by the life he was living?  Has the person been a shepherd that those in the flock trust?  We don’t like to be “suspicious” of everybody but eldership is not a popularity contest.  Neither should current elders recognize subsequent elders without considering the desires of the congregation.  The congregation should be accountable to the leaders but the leaders need to be accountable to the congregation as well. 


Practical Comments

The Lord is our head.  He is our leader.  But he was a servant leader who washed his disciples feet. How good it is when our leaders are an example to the flock and when they are more concerned about seeing souls saved and straying sheep recovered than they are about their own positions.  We all need to support that kind of leadership.


Bruce Collins


Meditation for the week of December 9, 2018

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