Read verses 11-14
Q: How does the instruction to not imitate evil relate to verse 10?
A: The relationship is this: what Diotrephes is doing, John calls evil. Therefore, false accusation, lies, power plays, and rejecting the truth is evil.
Q: In verse 12 John makes the statement, “The one who does good is of God….” Does this mean that anyone and everyone who does good is of God, or by it does he mean something else?
A: There are plenty of good people in the world, but that doesn’t mean they are of God. If that were the case, then salvation would be based upon works. What John is saying is that those who are truly of God will turn from evil and do good. The goodness is a result of being of God, not the other way around. The same is true of the latter half of the verse. Can a Christian do evil? Of course. But because a Christian stumbles doesn’t mean he or she is not of God. John is characteristically talking about a lifestyle, a way of life, a philosophy of life. It means those who have rejected God and turned away from Him have adopted a lifestyle that is not of God, and it’s visibly evident in their actions.
Q: Do you think Diotrephes was a Christian?
A: According to verse 11, apparently John is saying that he isn’t or he wouldn’t be doing these evil things. He may be head of the church, but he is not of God.
Application: Have you experienced or heard of others’ experiences when the head of a church (pastor, elder, deacon) was not of God? How would you know? According to John, what are the two essential qualities for knowing if a person is of God or not? (They have the truth, and they love others as a result of the truth.)
Q: What is the meaning of verse 12 in regard to the person of Demetrius? Who was Demetrius?
A: Demetrius is an unknown person. However, he may have been a leader in the church. He has a “good testimony” which means that his beliefs and lifestyle are in keeping with someone who is of God. The truth itself also gives testimony to Demetrius, in that his beliefs are in keeping with the truth. Note how the truth itself is able to testify. Added to that is the testimony of John and the other apostles. In summary, that Demetrius is of God is revealed by the fact that he believes and speaks correctly, and is supported by the apostles.
Application: Those who are truly of God will turn away from evil and do good.
- How do we know a person is of God in regard to their beliefs and according to what they teach?
Application: What are the two things we look for in determining whether or not a person is of God? (They believe correctly and they love fervently.)