Have you ever felt unwelcome in a church?
If so, it doesn’t mean you won’t be welcome in the Kingdom of God.
In fact, you may find it surprising that even the Apostle John was kicked out of a church – and told he and his brethren, other messianic Jewish believers, were not welcome.
It’s scriptural evidence that even before the first century was over, the dangerous heresy of what we call “replacement theology” had already begun – that being the notion that a gentile-dominated form of Christianity had usurped God’s covenantal promises to Israel.
We see this remarkable development in a seldom-studied passage – 3 John 9-11.
“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. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.”
We don’t know a lot about Diotrephes. This is the only reference to him in the Bible. But all we need to know is revealed in this short book. His name means “nourished by Jupiter” or “nourished by Zeus.” That sounds like a strange name for a believer in Jesus in the first century, given that all of his early followers were Jews. He was obviously not a Jew because he was bearing a pagan name. It was common for early gentile believers with pagan names to change them. Diotrephes did not. He kept his pagan name that glorified a pagan Greek god.
We also know that Diotrephes spoke maliciously against the inspired Jewish apostolic leadership and refused to allow messianic Jewish believers into his assembly. In fact, he threw them out!
Just to underscore the incredible historical lesson here: The Apostle John, or Yochanan, one of the exclusively Jewish disciples, was not welcome in a “Christian” church in the latter part of the first century – just decades after Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, suffered and died on the cross to extend salvation and eternal life to the whole world, gentiles included.
Think about that! The Apostle John was not welcome in a “Christian church.”
How did it happen? A schism developed between the Jewish followers of Jesus, of Yeshua, as they called Him, and part of the church that had lost connection with its Hebrew roots – the very basis of all that Jesus came to fulfill in His first coming and his future second coming, in which He is prophesied to rule and reign over the whole earth from His Kingdom in Jerusalem.
There is much historical evidence of this rift. I discuss it at some length in my book, “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age.” But this brief passage in scripture leaves no room to doubt it was real – and no doubt shocking to John, who was one of the 12 who walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, loved and revered Jesus and who were appointed by Jesus to carry out the Great Commission. He was one of those who “turned the world upside down” in one generation, spreading the faith all over the world.
It raises these questions:
- If the Christian faith changed so much in that short time from Jesus’ death on the cross, resurrection, the 40 days He spent with his closest disciples in His resurrected form and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit by John and his fellow apostles and disciples, how much did it change thereafter?
- If part of the church had already lost touch with its biblical Hebraic roots and foundation in a few decades, how much then has it morphed since?
- How many Diotrephes are there leading churches today?
- How many pagan ideas and unscriptural attitudes have entered the church and come to dominate it?
I think about these questions as we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation coming up at the end of this month, wondering, “Is it time for a new Reformation?”
Are you ready for a new way to explore the scriptures and only the scriptures? Are you ready to learn more about what, why and how Jesus accomplished in His first coming and what it will be like when He returns? Check out Joseph Farah’s “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age.”