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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

Pity

Those who have not seen God.

3 John 11–15

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.

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.

I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face.

Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.

John wraps up by noting the obvious; we should imitate Gaius and not Diotrephes. He follows up with a harsh description of the difference.

He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.

But notice that while this highlights the importance of works, it does not say that works are unto salvation. Rather, they’re indicators of someone’s relationship with God.

But there’s another theme in this passage—pity. The one who does evil has missed out. John isn’t even saying that the one who does evil has a terrible destiny, only that he hasn’t had this ultimate experience. His existence lacks meaning. His doing evil looks like an attempt to just do something, anything.

He needs to get life.


“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”
— Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NIV)

Solomon saw the meaninglessness of life absent any relationship with its creator. Conversely, look at the way this letter closes.

John is happy about Demetrius, and Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. That’s a full and rich life. John is not satisfied with just writing to people he loves. He wants to speak face to face. The COVID lockdown taught us how John feels here; we longed to gather face to face. (I wonder what John would have thought of Zoom.) Once again, this longing is about the joy of a meaningful life.

And at the very end, John gives a curious instruction. Greet the friends by name. Once again, we’re back to a parting term of endearment. They know how to greet each other, just as my kids know to drive safe.

Their lives are full.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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