Module 10: Foundational Doctrine Part 1
Module Guide: Hebrews - Christ the Final Speech of God; and 1,2,3 John - Christ and Fellowship with God
This pre-read guide is taken from the public domain source "The Analysed Bible in 3 Volumes" by G. Campbell Morgan.
There is great uncertainty as to the authorship of this treatise. Into the discussion we do not propose to enter. Its main subject is that of the superiority of the revelation of God in Christ to all that had preceded it. This is dealt with in order that the faith of Hebrew Christians may be established. For the strengthening of that faith the writer laid bare the foundations, and described the fruitfulness. Its purpose is to show the hopelessness of those guilty of apostasy from Christ, by revealing the perfection and finality of His message and work. The broad divisions are; Introduction (1:1-1:2a); The Argument, Foundations of Faith (1;2b-10:37); The Appeal, Fruitfulness of Faith (10:38-12:29); Conclusion (13).
The introduction takes us at once to the heart of the subject, and declares in compact form the truth upon which all the subsequent arguments and appeals depend. Two truths are taken for granted — the existence of God, and the fact that He reveals Himself to men. Two periods of revelation are referred to in the phrases, "of old time," and "at the end of these days."
The Argument: Foundations of Faith
The first division of the book is devoted to the argument which sets forth the superiority of the speech of the Son "at the end of these days," to all that had been spoken, "of old time"; and claims the superiority of consequent relationships.
After the declaration that God now speaks in the Son there follows a sevenfold description of the glories of the Son, which perfectly includes all the economies of the past. In Him all voices merge into the one Voice, all signs are fulfilled in the one Manifestation, all visions shine through the essential Light. Thus emphasis is laid upon the authority and finality of the Christian revelation, and the absolute safety of the same as the groundwork of faith.
Then follows the detailed argument for the superiority of the Son to all the methods of the past. The Hebrews believed that their system was ministered by angels, and so was supernatural. The subject of the superiority of the Son to the angels is introduced by seven quotations from Old Testament Scriptures. The first two show the superiority of the Son in the matter of relationship to God. The third claims the worship of the angels for the Son. The fourth, fifth, and sixth contrast the service of the angels with the supremacy of the Son. The seventh shows the superiority of the Son Who shares the Throne over those who are its ministers.
The epistle is characterized by occasional applications and solemn warnings. While the writer specially devotes himself to such statements concerning the foundations of faith as shall strengthen faith, he is careful to make such deductions as will reveal the peril of apostasy. The first of these warnings argues that if the ministration of angels had been of so stedfast a character, how much more the speech of the Son.
Continuing the argument concerning the superiority of the Son to the angels, the writer introduces a new statement. He Who in essential nature was superior to them, yet for a period was made lower. Through His humiliation and the victory wrought therein. He passed back to the place of superiority, carrying with Him a new right of supremacy over man, to whose level He passed in humiliation.
The argument now passes to the second claim of superiority, that over human leaders. It includes in its process the superiority of the Son to Moses and Joshua, the man who led the people out, and the man who led the people in. It first institutes a comparison between Moses and Christ. Christ is the Son over the spiritual house, of which the tabernacle was but the shadow, in which Moses was a servant. The contrast is striking, and the argument intended is, that if faith centred on the pattern and the men who built it, how much more may it confidently take hold upon the One Who in His own Person fulfils all that was shadowed forth by the servant of old, and by the pattern house in which he served.
Then follows the second exhortation and warning. Readers are reminded of what happened in the wilderness. The heart was hardened by unbelief, God was displeased, and they were shut out from rest. The whole force of the illustration is that of reminding those to whom the letter is addressed that if in the case of unbelief in the servant, men were shut out from rest, much more will that be true in the case of those who are disobedient to the Son. The reason why a generation perished in the wilderness is declared to be that "the word of hearing did not profit them, because it was not united by faith with them that heard." Notwithstanding the fact of this past failure the offer is repeated, this time, however, hy the superior speech of the Son. All this gives urgency to the appeal with which the section opened, "Let us fear, therefore, lest haply a promise being left of entering into His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it."
In close connection, because the subject is virtually the same, the writer deals with the superiority of the Son over Joshua. Joshua completed that in human leadership, in which Moses failed. He led the people in. Yet while it is true that he led them into the land, he did not lead them into rest. What he failed to do, the Son accomplished; and this is referred to by the writer in the words, "He that is entered into His rest hath himself also rested from his works as God did from His."
The section showing the superiority of the Son to the leaders closes with an inclusive exhortation and warning, descriptive of the power of the Word of God.
The writer now passes to discuss the superiority of Christ as Priest. He first makes a statement of the fact of His priesthood, which he accompanies by appeals. Because Jesus, the Son of God, is a great High Priest, the appeal is made, "Let us hold fast our confession." Because of the nature of His priesthood, the appeal is made, "Let us therefore draw near." Then commences the argument by contrast. The two essential qualifications for a priest are a capacity for sympathy, and a vocation of God. These are fulfilled in Christ, as they never were in Aaron.
Having thus introduced the subject, the writer declares his sense of difficulty in dealing with it, because of the incapacity of the readers; and he appeals to them to leave the first principles, and press on to perfection; again in solemn and awful words warning them against apostasy.
Turning to the subject of the superiority of the priesthood of the Son to the Levitic, the writer commences by taking his readers back in thought to Abraham, whose anchorage was the oath of God, which oath is ratified in the Person of our High Priest, Whose priesthood was after the order of Melchisedec. He then shows the superiority of the Melchisedec priesthood to the Levitic. The whole Levitic priesthood paid tithes to Melchisedec in the person of Abraham, from whose loins they sprang. Thus the living Priest received tithes from the dying, even while they were yet unborn, and He blessed them in the person of Abraham. Therefore it is evident that the Levitic priesthood is inferior to that of Melchisedec; and the priesthood of the Son is after the pattern of that of Melchisedec. In the next place he shows the inferiority of the Levitic priesthood in that it was unequal to the realization of perfection; and the superiority of the priesthood of Jesus is revealed in the fact that through Him a better hope has been given to men through which they draw nigh unto God, and perfection is realized.
The contrast is finally made vivid in two particulars, first, as to the oath of appointment; and second, as to the perpetuity of the office. These contrasts are marked by two phrases, each occurring twice, "they indeed," "but He." The High Priest is described finally as to character, "holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners"; as to position, "made higher than the heavens;" as to mediatorial rights, the sacrifice of Himself once for all.
Having established the fact of the superiority of Christ, the argument now proceeds to deal with the superiority of the relationships consequent thereupon. The superiority of the Priest demonstrates the superiority of the place of the exercise of the priesthood, and thus finally demonstrates the superiority of the covenant. That superiority is threefold. It is internal rather than external; it is universal rather than local; and finally it is based upon the forgiveness of sins.
Upon the basis of the better priesthood and the better covenant there issues a better worship. The sanctuary is first described. The imperfection of its service is shown in the limitation and restriction of priestly service, because the ordinances were unavailing in the realm of conscience. In contrast to this, Christ entered a greater tabernacle through a greater sacrifice. Therefore His entry was once for all, because in the shedding of His own blood He dealt with sin finally. The superiority of the sacrifice is next emphasized. In this matter Christ is at once Priest and Sacrifice. He offered Himself through the eternal Spirit. The prominent thought in this section is that in the priesthood of Christ there is a place of worship unlocalized and unlimited. Into the better sanctuary through the better sacrifice, the worshipper may enter, in any place, and at any time, if he come through the better Priest.
Still dealing with worship, the subject of the superiority of the service is finally dealt with. In this connection, for special reason, the writer restates the fact of the superiority of the priesthood of Jesus, in the matters of sacrifices and offerings. The sacrifices of the old economy could never perfect men. By the One Sacrifice of Christ, He perfects for ever the sanctified. Moreover, through this offering and sacrifice of Christ the worshippers are brought into relationship with God, in which instead of consciousness of sin, there is delight in the doing of His will.
The better covenant and the better worship issue necessarily in the better fellowship. The privilege of the worshipper is that in union with the Priest he may approach with boldness. The responsibility of the fellowship is that the worshippers should "draw near," "hold fast," and "consider one another." The preparation for such approach is then clearly stated. All this is to be the more carefully observed because of the assurance that the High Priest Who ministers will appear again, and that the day is drawing nigh.
Then follows the fifth solemn warning of the epistle, which deals again with the sin of apostasy. The nature of that sin is described in terrible words: "trodden under foot the Son of God, ... accounted the blood of the covenant ... an unholy thing, ... done despite unto the Spirit of grace." To those guilty of such sin there can remain nothing but judgment, and the fierceness of fire. The warning ends with words full of hope. They had "endured"; and are urged therefore not to cast away their boldness; and their faith is encouraged by a further reminder of the certainty of the second advent of Jesus.
The Appeal: Fruitfulness of Faith
The letter now passes to its second division, which consists of an appeal made by the writer, describing the fruitfulness of faith; and falls into two sections, in the first of which he masses the evidence by calling the witnesses; while in the second he makes his appeal.
Quoting from the prophecy of Habakkuk he shows that the principle of life is faith, and makes it clear that apostasy issues in death. This he then illustrates on the positive side. His first illustration is all-inclusive in its teaching concerning the spiritual origin of all things. He then passes in rapid review the outstanding names in the history of the Hebrew people, in each case showing that at the centre of all their victories lay the principle of faith. He then gives a list of names, each one of which stands for some triumph through faith; and immediately following a list of deeds, all accomplished in the selfsame power. And yet again, he describes the sufferings endured in the strength of faith. The matter of supreme interest in this massing of the witnesses is the variety of types of character, of circumstances, in all of which the principle of victory is the same. The fruitfulness of faith in all these is yet more clearly revealed in the closing declaration that none of them received the promise. Faith was strong enough to enable them to endure, postponing their final realization until the great promises of God should be perfectly wrought out in the history of men.
Having thus shown that faith was the abiding condition of victorious life under the old economy, the writer declares it to be the abiding condition of victorious life under the new. The one supreme Witness is presented to the mind as the Author and Perfecter of faith. Seeing the witnesses, and looking at the Witness, the readers are urged to lay aside weights, and the sin of unbelief, in order that they may run.
Then follows the great appeal. It opens by a careful and yet tender setting forth of the perils which threaten the life of faith. The first is that of failure to respond to chastening, and in order to safeguard them against such failure he explains the real meaning of their suffering and chastening.
The second peril is that of falling short of the grace of God, which falling short manifests itself in disputes, and differences, caused by moral failure; and he urges them to look carefully lest they so fail.
Then in order to their encouragement, the writer brings graphically before the mind the contrast between the old economy and the new. The former was characterized by terror and majesty, of which he gives seven illustrations. The new is characterized by tenderness and mercy, of which he gives eight illustrations. The old revealed distance, and filled the heart with fear. The new reveals the way of approach, and should inspire with faith.
At last he utters the appeal itself. The first words "See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh" should be read in connection with the affirmation in the introduction of the letter. "God ... hath spoken ... in His Son." Between that first affirmation and this final appeal lie all the arguments concerning the superiority of the speech of the Son. The writer shows that greater privilege means greater responsibility, and consequently creates graver peril. Therefore they are charged not to refuse, and in order that they may not, they are further charged to have grace. The last word "Our God is a consuming fire" will affect the conscience according to its condition. The men of faith will rejoice in the fire which purifies; the men of apostasy will tremble in the fire which destroys.
The conclusion of the letter consists of a series of injunctions which illustrate the value of faith, in the superior relationships created by the revelation made through the Son. The conduct of faith will be that of love in all practical application. The encouragement of faith is, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever." The worship of faith consists of leaving the old economy, by going without the camp, and entering into the new by worshipping within the veil. The fellowship of faith is to express itself in doing good and communicating.
The last paragraph is a personal conclusion, first urging the readers to pray for those in the ministry, and finally recording the prayer of the writer for those to whom his letter is addressed.
INTRODUCTION - Hebrews 1:1-1:2a
1. Unargued Truth
- God speaks
2. The Two Economies
- "Of old time"
- "At the end of these days"
Part A: THE ARGUMENT FOUNDATIONS OF FAITH - Hebrews 1:2b-10:37
A.1. Superiority of the Speech of the Son - Heb. 1:2b-7:28
- Superior to Angels (The Book of Genesis) - 1:2b-2:18
- (Exhortation and Warning - 2:1-2:4)
- Superior to Leaders (The Books of Exodus and Joshua) - 3:1-4:13
- (Moses - 3:1-3:6)
- (Exhortation and Warning - 3:7-4:7)
- (Joshua - 4:8-4:10)
- (Exhortation and Warning - 4:11-4:13)
- Superior to Priesthood (The Book of Leviticus) - 4:14-7:28
- (Aaronic - 4:14-5:10)
- (Exhortation and Warning - 5:11-6:12)
- (Levitic - 6:13-7:28)
A.2. Superiority of Consequent Relationships - Heb. 8:1-10:37
- The Better Covenant - 8:1-8:13
- The Better Worship - 9:1-10:18
- The Better Fellowship - 10:19-10:25
- (Exhortation and Warning - 10:26-10:37)
Part B: THE APPEAL FRUITFULNESS OF FAITH - Hebrews 10:38-12:29
B.1. The Witnesses - Heb. 10:38-12:3
- The Old Economy. A Cloud of Witnesses - 10:38-11:40
- The New Economy. The One Witness - 12:1-12:3
B.2. The Great Appeal - Heb. 12:4-12:29
- The Perils - 12:4-12:17
- Failure to respond to Chastening - 12:4-12:13
- Falling short of the Grace of God - 12:14-12:17
- The Encouragement - 12:18-12:24
- The Old. Terror and Majesty - 12:18-12:21
- The New. Tenderness and Mercy - 12:22-12:24
- The Appeal - 12:25-12:29
- "See that ye refuse not ... for ..." - 12:25-12:27
- "Let us have grace ... for ..." - 12:28-12:29
CONCLUSION - Hebrews 13:1-13:25
1. Closing Injunctions - Heb. 13:1-13:17
- Conduct of Faith - 13:1-13:6
- Anchorage of Faith - 13:7-13:9
- Worship of Faith - 13:10-13:15
- Fellowship of Faith - 13:16-13:17
2. Personal Conclusion - Heb. 13:18-13:25
1 John Introduction
This is probably the last apostolic message to the whole Church. If the second and third epistles were written later, they were to individuals. This letter is catholic in the fullest sense of the word, being addressed to no particular church or district, and dealing with the fundamental question of the life which is the true bond of the Church's unity.
A comparison of John 10:31 and 1 John 5:13 will show the gospel and epistle to be complementary. The gospel was written that men might have life, the epistle that believers might know they had life. In the former we have Divine live as revealed in Christ; in the latter the same life as realized in the Christian. The gospel declares the way of life through the incarnate Son; the epistle unfolds the nature of that life as possessed by the children of God.
The subject of the epistle is that of fellowship with God, into which believers are introduced through their union with Christ. Its divisions mark the subjects dealt with. These subjects overlap in each case. This is the outcome of the fact that they are closely interrelated, the three forming phases of a great whole. They may be indicated thus; Introduction (1:1-1:4); Fellowship with God as Light (1:5-2;29); Fellowship with God as Love (3;1-4:21); Fellowship with God as Life (5;1-5;12); Conclusion (5:13-21).
By way of introduction John affirmed his knowledge, in common with others, of the certainty that eternal life was manifested in the Word. "We have heard ... we have seen ... beheld ... our hands handled." The word "that" refers in each case to a Person. As in the gospel, the "Word" which cannot be touched, became flesh which could be touched, so here, "the Word of life," which is a quantity intangible, imponderable, and immeasurable, had yet been touched and handled by men. The purpose of the manifestation was that of bringing men into fellowship with God. This the apostle proceeded to discuss under the three headings of light, love, and life, showing not only the privileges but also the responsibilities of such fellowship.
Fellowship with God. God is Light
In this division the apostle first dealt with the fellowship of the saints with God in light, and then described the perils of darkness.
The first great message of "the Word of life" to men is that "God is light." This is a truth never to be lost sight of. To forget it is to minimize the meaning of the next declaration that "God is love." The exercise of such fellowship on the part of the believer consists of walking in the light of God. Yet because of perpetual imperfection even in holy things, there is need of constant cleansing, and this is provided in "the blood of Jesus His Son." Light makes sin known. Sins of the past are forgiven, and the soul is cleansed from unrighteousness. The apostle was careful to state that he wrote in order that we sin not. He added, however, a gracious declaration concerning the provision of the Advocate Jesus, through Whom sins might be put away. Having stated the nature and conditions of fellowship with God as light, the apostle proceeded to speak of the tests whereby we may know our relation to light, first as to God, and then as to our fellow-men. The test of light is love - love to God exemplified in obedience. The supreme commandment was not new, in that it was the original Divine intention for man. Yet it was new in its new interpretation in Christ, and in the experience of men who in its power love each other.
In approaching the subject of the perils of darkness against which he was about to utter warnings, the apostle, in a beautiful passage, declared the groundwork of his appeal to be the experience of believers in Christ. The perils against which he warned believers were those of materialism, and the false spirit of Antichrist. The description of worldliness is very clear. It consists in "the lust of the flesh," that is, desires which are wholly of the flesh, without the control of the spirit; "the lust of the eyes," that is, desire to see things which minister to the flesh only, evil curiosity to contemplate unholy things; "the vainglory of life," that is, satisfaction and boasting in things which are of the world only, and are passing and perishing. He then described the spirit of Antichrist to be that of denying that Jesus is the Christ, which denial involves also the denial of the Father and the Son. The Church needs to be ever on the watch against such desires or teachings. Her safety consists in the fact that she has the record as received "from the beginning"; and moreover, that she has that anointing of the indwelling Spirit which interprets and explains the things received, so that she has no need that any one teach her.
Fellowship with God. God is Love
In this division the apostle dealt with the fellowship of the saints with God in love, and then declared the perils of hatred.
The love of God is supremely manifest in that we are called "children of God." All the meaning of this relationship we do not yet know, but this much is certain that eventually we shall be like Him. The present influence of this hope, born of love, is that he that has it purifies himself. The apostle proceeded to declare that in Christ there is no need for any one to sin, and that if a believer do so it must be in violation of the very life-principle which makes him a child of God. The test of fellowship with God as love is righteousness of conduct, and love one to another. The result of fellowship with God as love, will be that of hatred toward us on the part of the world. Yet such hatred is to be answered by the love of the Christian, such love being the proof of the presence of the new life. Affirmations of love for the men of the world, which are not demonstrated by ministry to their actual needs, are of no value. The apostle then declared the test by which we may ourselves know that we are of the truth. The true anxiety of Christian experience is to possess a heart at rest before God. Doubt or uncertainty in the inward life is ever productive of harm. The place of peace and power is that of abiding in Him. To keep His commandments is to abide in Him, and to abide in Him is to have strength to keep His commandments. The all-inclusive commandments are two in number. The first is that we should believe in Jesus Christ; and the second is that we should love one another.
Two closely related perils threaten our fellowship with God as love: those of false prophets, and the spirit which actuates them. There is a simple and yet searching test which the children of God are carefully to apply. The testimony of the Spirit of God is to Jesus Christ as having come in flesh. Those who confess not Jesus are those who deny what the Spirit of God aflftrms concerning Him. All such are of Antichrist. The test of the spirits is the indwelling Spirit. There need be no fear, for the indwelling One is greater than the spirit working in the world; but there must be no carelessness in the matter of testing. The apostle then made an appeal. He used two arguments as he urged the duty of love. First, the nature of God is love, and therefore those begotten of Him should love. The second argument was that of the manifestation of the love of God. He "sent His only begotten Son into the world." That is the last word of love, and upon it the apostle based his appeal. "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." The argument and appeal now go a step further. The perfect love which has no fear is the true revelation of God. There may be this realization and revelation because "as He is, even so are we in this world." The apostle's consciousness of the glorious perfection of his provision lent strenuousness to his words of application. "If a man say I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar." To every person in actual union with God in Christ, love is possible. Moreover, it is not a privilege merely, it is a stern duty. The world waits for the knowledge of God, and can only attain it through His revelation in the love of His children.
Fellowship with God. God is Life
The final subject is that of our fellowship with God in life. This is fundamental, and is here shown to be so. Passing back over the ground traversed, the apostle shows the relation between life and love, and then between life and light.
As to the first God gives life to the believer. The love of one begotten for the One begetting issues in love for all begotten. In other words, children of the Father love each other. The spring and power of love is life. Fellowship with God in life issues in love.
There is also a close relationship between life and light. Those who are begotten of God overcome the world. Fellowship with the light of God is not possible to those who are alienated from His life. As the fundamental aspect of fellowship with God is fellowship in life; and moreover, as man enters into that life by believing, the apostle now gives the witness upon which faith takes hold. Jesus Christ came by water and blood. He "came by water" in the sense that the baptism in Jordan witnessed to His fellowship with light. He "came by blood" in the sense that the passion baptism witnessed to His fellowship with love. The supreme Witness to this is the Spirit. Thus three bear witness: the Spirit, of life; the water, of light; the blood, of love. These three "agree in one," that is, Jesus. Thus has God borne witness to man. The Son of God possessed, is the life in which men have fellowship with God in light and love.
In his concluding words John stated the reason of his writing. His purpose was that of confirmation. The certainty of life possessed, results in a confidence in God which is calm and content. That confidence is exercised in intercession, the limitation of which is clearly marked. The letter closes with a group of certainties, and an injunction against idols. The force of the final warning lies in the certainty of the fellowship of the believer with God in light, and love, and life.
INTRODUCTION - 1 John 1:1-1:4
1. Facts of the Gospel Epitomised - 1:1-1:2
2. The Purpose - 1:3-1:4
Part A: FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD. GOD IS LIGHT - 1 John 1:5-2:29
A.1. Fellowship with Light - 1 John 1:5-2:11
A.2. Perils of Darkness - 1 John 2:12-2:29
Part B: FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD. GOD IS LOVE - 1 John 3:1-4:21
B.1. Fellowship with Love - 1 John 3:1-3:24
B.2. Perils of Hatred - 1John 4:1-4:21
Part C: FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD. GOD IS LIFE - 1 John 5:1-5:12
C.1. Life and Love - 1 John 5:1-5:3
C.2. Life and Light - 1 John 5:4-5:12
CONCLUSION - 1 John 5:13-5:21
1. "That ye may know" - 1 John 5:13-5:17
2. "We know" - 1 John 5:18-5:21
2 John Introduction
This second epistle is a concrete application of the principles taught in the first. Its subject is the value of truth in the threefold life of fellowship. Its scheme may be stated thus; Introduction (1-4); Love (5); Love and Light (6); Light and Life (7-9); Conclusion (12, 13).
The repetition of the word "truth" in the address gives the keynote to the letter. The salutation refers to grace, mercy, and peace, which are the effects of truth, the inward sanctifier; and the expression of love, the outward result. This is followed by a declaration of the apostle's joy that the children of the elect lady were found walking in truth.
The apostle then wrote the central and all-inclusive commandment, and urged her to obey it. It was not a new commandment, but the repetition of that possessed from the beginning.
Love and Light
Then followed the statement of supreme importance that love is obedience to light. The commandment heard from the beginning was that of love. Love, therefore, is obedience to the commandment.
Light and Life
All already written was preliminary to the warnings which followed, and the necessity for which constituted the real occasion of the letter. Deceivers were gone forth into the world, denying essential truth concerning the Christ. Because love is walking in light, the test of love is light. Any consent to darkness out of a so-called charity, is not true love. Loyalty to truth concerning the Person of Christ is the true way of love, and any charity which compromises that is false, and eventually violates love.
The teaching against which the apostle warned the elect lady was progressive teaching. Progress out of first principles is retrogression. The stern requirement of the apostle manifests the sanctified son of thunder, and the determined apostle of love. No hospitality or greeting must be given to those who by false teaching imperil the life, and light, and love, of the believer.
The special teaching of this letter may thus be summarized. Christianity is love. Love is dependent upon the light of truth. To deny the truth is to make love impossible. The continued experience of fellowship is dependent upon the continued fact of fellowship in love and light and life. The continued fact of fellowship is proved by the continued experience of fellowship.
The apostle expressed his hope that he might soon see face to face the one to whom he wrote, and sent the salutation of the children of her elect sister.
INTRODUCTION - 2 John 1:1-1:4
1. Addresses and Key Word Truth - 1:1-1:2
2. Salutation - 1:3
3. The Apostle's Joy - 1:4
Part A: LOVE - 2 John 1:5
A.1. The Commandment
Part B: LOVE AND LIGHT - 2 John 1:6
B.1. Love Defined
B.2. Light Defined
Part C: LIGHT AND LOVE - 2 John 1:7-1:11
C.1. A Warning - 2 John 1:7
C.2. Injunction - 2 John 1:8
C.3. A Test - 2 John 1:9
C4. A Requirement - 2John 1:10-1:11
CONCLUSION - 2 John 1:12-1:13
1. The Farewell - 2 John 5:13-5:17
3 John Introduction
There are three persons previously mentioned in the New Testament bearing the name of Gaius: Gaius of Macedonia (Acts 19:29), Gaius of Derbe (Acts 20:4), and Gaius of Corinth (1 Cor. 1:14). The Gaius to whom John wrote may be yet a fourth. It is, however, extremely probable that he was the Gains of Corinth, for there is similarity between the hospitality which Paul mentioned (Rom. 16;23) and that commended by John.
This letter is indeed on the subject of that hospitality as it revealed love, and afforded the apostle an opportunity to utter a warning again schism, which is always due to lack of love. His argument circles around three persons - Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius. It may be divided thus; Introduction (1-4); the Hospitality of Gaius, its Value, Love practised (5-8); the Arrogance of Diotrephes, its Condemnation, Love violated (8-10); the Example of Demetrius, its Cause, Love, Light, Life (11, 12); Conclusion (13, 14).
Very tender and delicate is the introduction. The apostle's recognition of the spiritual health of Gaius when he prayed that his physical prosperity and health might equal it, is beautiful. Again the keynote is Truth. As in the letter to the elect lady the apostle had uttered his warnings against a false charity and hospitality, here he commended true love and hospitality. If there is a hospitality impossible to loyalty to truth, it is equally true there is a kind which such loyalty necessitates and inspires.
Gaius. Love Practised
Certain evangelists had been received and entertained by Gaius. For this the apostle commended him, and declared that he would do well to set them forth on their journey, "worthily of God." This is a remarkable phrase, and capable of more than one interpretation. It may mean that Gaius was to see in them the messengers of God, and was to send them forth in a way befitting such sacred calling. It may have reminded Gaius that he was a child of God, and urged him to act accordingly. In all probability it included both these thoughts. The privileges of showing hospitality to the messengers of the Gospel is set forth in the words, "that we may be fellow-workers for the truth."
Diotrephes. Love Violated
In striking contrast to Gains stands Diotrephes. He had refused to receive some who were recommended to the Church by John, and had gone so far as to cast out of the Church those who did receive them. The whole truth about this man is seen in one of those illuminative sentences in which the character of a man is so often revealed in the Scriptures. "Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence." That is the essential violation of love, for "love ... seeketh not her own." This is an instance of heterodoxy of spirit or temper, rather than of intellect. There is no evidence that this man was teaching false doctrine, but he was not submissive to authority. As is always the case, the unsubmissive one becomes the greatest tyrant, and thus by disobedience he manifests his lack of love. As loyalty to truth is the sphere of love, so also is it the evidence of love. The arrogance of this man shows the governing principle of his life to be selfishness rather than love.
Demetrius. Love. Light. Life
Gaius is urged to imitate good rather than evil, and immediately another change is before us in the introduction of Demetrius. In all likelihood he was the bearer of the letter, and John quoted him in direct contrast to Diotrephes. The central statement of the epistle is found in verse eleven. "He that doeth good is of God; he that doeth evil hath not seen God." The relations of love to life and light are suggested. Doing good is to be interpreted by the subject of the letter, hospitality. Those who act in love thus, do so because they are of God, that is, related to Him in the fellowship of life. Such are Gaius and Demetrius. Those who act in evil by selfishness, do so because they have no fellowship with God in light, not having seen Him.
The letter closes with words anticipatory of a meeting, and with a message of peace.
INTRODUCTION - 3 John 1:1-1:4
1. The Address - 1:1
2. The Prayer - 1:2
3. The Apostle's Joy - 1:3-1:4
Part A: GAIUS: LOVE PRACTICED - 3 John 1:5-1:8
A.1. Gaius' Hospitality - 3 John 1:5-1:6a
A.2. Injunction to Continue - 3 John 1:6b
A.3. The Reason - 3 John 1:7-1:8
Part B: DIOTREPHES: LOVE VIOLATED - 3 John 1:9-1:10
B.1. The Reason of Diotrephes' Disobedience - 3 John 1:9
B.2. The Warning - 3 John 1:10a
B.3. The Expression of Diotrephes' Pride - 3 John 1:10b
Part C: DEMETRIUS: LOVE, LIGHT, LIFE - 3 John 1:11-1:12
C.1. The Injunction - 3 John 1:11a
C.2. Central Statement - 3 John 1:11b
C.3. The Example of Demetrius - 3 John 1:12
CONCLUSION - 3 John 1:12-1:13
1. Anticipation of Meeting
2. A Message of Peace
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