The Epistle Written Unto the Christians, To Aid Them in Recognizing the Pastors Who Desire the Preeminence Among the Congregation

John the Apostle writes about two examples of Christian leaders in his third letter. An interesting point in his third Epistle is that he spends more time explaining the wickedness of Diotrephes, than he did writing about the good report of Demetrius.

Diotrephes is an easily recognized character in the modern Christian world. He did not receive the truth of God’s Word, he spoke harsh words against those who spoke the truth in righteousness, he was discontent and unthankful, he did not receive Christian brothers or sisters into his congregation, and threw those that were against his doctrine out of the Church. Most Pastors today exhibit one or more of these traits

All of this information can be seen in the following scripture:

I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 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 9-10

Demetrius is a harder to recognize character in the modern Christian world because Pastors like him are so rarely seen. John describes him as having a good report of men, but most importantly, of the truth itself. This is evidenced by this scripture: “Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true” (3 John 12).

The most important thing to note about Demetrius is not that he had a good report of men, but that he had a good report of the truth itself. Favor is deceitful, but to have a good report of the truth should be desirable for a Christian. Christian, Do you seek a Pastor that has a good report of the truth? Let us analyze what this means precisely.

The qualifications for a Pastor must be met for a man to be a Pastor. Why is this not followed in Christianity today? It baffles the mind that we have more Pastors like Diotrephes than Demetrius. The qualifications for a Pastor are described in 1 Timothy 3, and they will be briefly described here. 

  • The Pastor must be a blameless man, according to the scriptures, and certainly not blameless according to the world
  • The Pastor must be vigilant, on the guard for the souls of the congregation (Hebrews 13:17)
  • Not greedy of filthy lucre. Does your Pastor exhibit greediness?
  • Patient, Apt to teach truth and not the works of men
  • Not a brawler, not covetous
  • Having a good report of them outside the Church he is in. Has there been another Pastor or Church that says he is unfit? If so, what are their reasons?
  • Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil

Since Demetrius had a good report of these by the Apostle John, then he met the qualifications for a Pastor, if God called him to be one.

This is not an Epistle written against Pastors, rather this is for Christians to take notice of the simple, recognizable, traits of a good Pastor, with the number one trait being that they have a good report of the truth. Do they teach sound doctrine? Do they preach God’s Word? Perhaps they wrongly hold men as emulated in their lives? (This means they put the opinions of men above the truth that came by the Holy Spirit). Do they seek to make corrections to God’s Word? Look closely, Christian. It would be better to search the scriptures than to live in ignorance (See 1 Corinthians 10). Paul said that “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinners, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:10-11). Reject the heretical Pastors, because to learn under them is to bid them God speed and partake in their sin (2 John 1:10-11). Also, if your Pastor is a woman, then she is not following the will of God, who said that only men would be Pastors. This is for reasons we will pursue in another Epistle.

Finally, we can see that Diotrephes fails the qualifications. He is lifted up in himself, elevated above the others in the Church. This is pride and lack of humbleness, which influenced his opinion of the Apostles’ doctrine. He spoke against the Apostles’ doctrine and taught differently than it. John’s report must be believed, that Diotrephes was a discontent, greedy, impatient man who did not care about the souls of his congregation. All Diotrephes cared about was Diotrephes, and how Diotrephes could increase his reach to the rest of the world in order to teach the doctrine of Diotrephes. He was also a brawler, as he casted the Christian brethren from the Church.

Christian, does your Pastor exhibit the traits of Diotrephes? If you read this and think that these traits apply to your Pastor, pray for him, but do not partake in his doctrine any longer. It is because of Pastors like him that the hearts of the saved and unsaved are turned away from the Lord Jesus Christ. Dear Reader, if you are under a Pastor who does not believe in repentance from sin and salvation through Jesus Christ, then you are under a heretick Pastor. If you have never repented of your sins and asked Christ for salvation the Bible says now is the time to do so. 

Peace to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.

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