"THE THIRD EPISTLE OF JOHN" The Spirit Of Diotrephes (9-10)


The Spirit Of Diotrephes (9-10)


1. In our study of Third John, we have noticed the commendable spirit
   found in Gaius...
   a. The truth was in him - 3Jn 3
   b. He walked in the truth - 3Jn 3-4
   c. He demonstrated love and hospitality towards the brethren and for
      strangers - 3Jn 5-6

2. Unfortunately, another man mentioned in this letter did not possess
   the spirit of Gaius...
   a. His name was Diotrephes
   b. And John felt it necessary to relate what Diotrephes had done, 
      and what he (John) would have to do in response - 3Jn 9-10

3. While there are many people today who possess the spirit of Gaius,
   and bless the Lord's church accordingly, it is not uncommon for 
   "The Spirit Of Diotrephes"...
   a. To be found in some churches
   b. To tear apart the love and unity that ought to prevail in every congregation

4. That we might be on guard against "The Spirit Of Diotrephes", in
   this lesson we shall...
   a. Identify exactly what characterized the spirit of Diotrephes
   b. Consider how it was so contrary to the principles taught by our
      Lord and His apostles

[We begin, then, by noticing that "The Spirit Of Diotrephes" was one  of...]


      1. John wrote that he "loves to have the preeminence"
      2. The word "preeminence" in the Greek is "philoproteuo" {fil-op-rote-yoo'-o}
         a. It means to be fond of being first
         b. I.e., ambitious of distinction; love to have the preeminence
      3. It was his love of being first (a sin in itself) that led to
         other sins that he committed
      4. Unfortunately, Diotrephes failed to consider that "sin" is
         spelled with a capital "I" (i.e., "self" is at the root of all sin)

      1. When the mother of James and John expressed a desire for her
         sons to be given preeminence, Jesus taught the principle of
         humility and service - Mt 20:20-28
      2. He did so again as he spoke out against the scribes and 
         Pharisees - Mt 23:6-12
      3. Paul taught that in matters of honor we should give preference
         to one another - Ro 12:10
      4. Indeed, we must not have the sort of selfish ambition found in
         Diotrephes, but the humble servitude found in the mind of 
         Christ - cf. Php 2:2-8
      5. Whereas "sin" is spelled with a capital "I", the cross is an 
         "I" that has been crossed out! (i.e., denying "self" is a 
         cardinal principle of Christianity)

      1. We live in the "me generation" where the spirit of Diotrephes
         reigns supreme
      2. It should not surprise us, when the church is so often 
         influenced by the world, to hear people say:
         a. "But I want..."
         b. "But I think..."
      3. But there is no room in the kingdom for the "me first" 
         mentality; where it exists, more sins and problems are bound to follow

[We see that to be the case as we notice that "The Spirit Of 
Diotrephes" was also one of...]


      1. John writes simply: "[he] does not receive us"
      2. It may seem incredible that one would refuse to accept and submit to...
         a. The disciple whom Jesus loved!
         b. An apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ!
      3. But because of his love to be first, there was no room in 
         Diotrephes' heart for someone over him in matters of authority

      1. It is important that we appreciate the proper chain of 
         authority in the kingdom...
         a. As Creator, God inherently has all authority
         b. However, the Father has delegated all authority to His Son 
            - Mt 28:18; Ep 1:20-22
         c. Jesus in turn has delegated authority to His apostles - Jn 13:20
            1) He sent the Holy Spirit to assist them, and guide them
               into all the truth - Jn 14:26; 16:12-13
            2) Thus they could speak and write with the authority of 
               God behind them - cf. 1Co 14:37; 1Th 2:13
      2. This is why we find that the early church "continued 
         steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine..." - Ac 2:42
      1. The spirit of Diotrephes appears to reign unchecked in those 
         churches that reject...
         a. The authority of the apostles in preference for the 
            authority of their own councils, synods, or conferences
         b. The clear teachings of the apostles concerning such issues
            as homosexuality, women preachers, etc.
         c. Apostolic precedent (whether by command or example) to 
            authorize any church practice that suits their fancy
      2. And the spirit of Diotrephes reigns supreme in the lives of
         those professing Christians who reject the apostles' call for
         holy and sanctified living...
         a. So they can choose their own sexual preference and lifestyle
         b. So they can put their own personal interests first, before
            the kingdom of God

[Yes, living in a narcissistic society such as ours, it is not uncommon
to find the spirit of Diotrephes present in so many peoples' lives.

When it is found in the lives of Christians, things can get ugly rather
quickly.  As we see in our text, "The Spirit Of Diotrephes" can 
manifest itself in Christians by...]


      1. John relates that Diotrephes was guilty of "prating against us
         with malicious words"
      2. The word "prating" in the Greek is phluareo {floo-ar-eh'-o}...
         a. It means to be a babbler or trifler
         b. By implication it means to berate idly or mischievously
      3. The word "malicious" is poneros {pon-ay-ros'} and means "hurtful, evil"
      4. Diotrephes gave little concern, then, about how he spoke with
         evil and hurtful words concerning his brethren

      1. We will be judged for the idle words that we use - Mt 12:36-37
      2. We are commanded not to speak evil of one another - Jm 4:11-12
         a. To do so is to speak evil of the law of God!
         b. To do so is to set ourselves up as judges
      3. While it may be necessary at times to "rebuke" our brethren(cf. 2Ti 4:2)...
         a. We are given the proper tools (i.e., the Scriptures themselves) - 2Ti 3:16
         b. We are instructed how to approach those in error - 2Ti 2:24-26; Ga 6:1

      1. Does not the spirit of Diotrephes manifest itself when 
         Christians engage in malicious gossip?
      2. Does not the spirit of Diotrephes reign when overzealous and
         self-appointed "guardians of the faith" lambaste their
         brethren with whom they differ?
      3. Indeed, it is often the desire for preeminence that prompts
         Christians to reject apostolic teachings concerning brotherly
         relations and to engage in malicious prating

[The use of malicious words are not the only weapons used by those
possessed by the spirit of Diotrephes, however.

If in their love for preeminence they have actually gained positions of
influence, it is not unusual to see "The Spirit Of Diotrephes manifested in...]


      1. Not content with using prating with malicious words,
         Diotrephes is described as one who...
         a. "does not receive the brethren"
         b. "forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church"
      2. In two ways, then, he was abusing church discipline...
         a. Refusing to associate with those worthy of association
         b. Using it as a weapon to manipulate others to do what he wanted

      1. Jesus taught there might be times when church discipline is
         necessary - Mt 18:15-17
      2. Paul described such a time on two occasions, and gave
         instructions for carrying it out
         a. When a man was living with his father's wife - 1Co 5:1-13
         b. When Christians refused to work - 2Th 3:6-15
      3. So there are times when we must "put away from yourselves that
         wicked person"
      4. But there is also the possibility of abusing this method of
         church discipline, as in the case of Diotrephes

      1. That church discipline could be abused back then, means that
         it can be abused today
      2. This is not to be an excuse to never exercise church
         discipline, but to do so carefully
      3. Just because another church has carried it out against someone
         does not mean they did so properly...
         a. It may have been prompted as part of a power play by a "Diotrephes"
         b. The ones being withdrawn from may be innocent
         ...thus the need to exercise discretion and to know the facts
         before accepting the disciplinary action of another church


1. "The Spirit Of Diotrephes" can be summarized as one of...
   a. Desiring preeminence
   b. Rejecting apostolic authority
   c. Speaking evil of brethren
   d. Abusing church discipline

2. One must not have all four of these to be guilty of sin...
   a. Any one is an abomination before God!
   b. Any one can destroy brotherly relations!

May John's description of "The Spirit Of Diotrephes" serve as a 
warning for us!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Does a Personal Response by Paul Disprove Inspiration? by Wayne Jackson, M.A.

Does a Personal Response by Paul Disprove Inspiration?

by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


Some have suggested that the Bible contains a lot of trivial information—e.g., Paul’s request that Timothy bring his “cloak” to Rome (2 Timothy 4:13). They say this sort of material argues against the idea of verbal inspiration. Could you comment on this?


What appears to be superficial initially, upon deeper reflection, may contain a rich depository of truth. Consider the following possibilities.
(1) Why did Paul leave his cloak in Troas? Was he forced to flee, and thus had no time to obtain it? Is this another hint of the apostle’s ongoing persecution in his declining years? Perhaps.
(2) This is another commentary on the sacrificial poverty of him who was willing to spend and be spent for the cause of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:15). Think of it—winter approaching (vs. 21), and yet the apostle’s one coat is a thousand miles away! Paul was no stranger to “cold and nakedness” (2 Corinthians 11:27).
(3) Where are the saints in Rome during the time of Paul’s physical need? Where are the enthusiastic Christians who had rushed out of the city years earlier to meet the tireless preacher as he approached the city (Acts 28:15)? Had many of them been scattered by persecution? Had some turned against the apostle (see Philippians 1:15-17)? At Paul’s first defense, no one took his part; all forsook him (vs. 16). And even as this second letter to Timothy was composed, only Luke remained with him (vs.11). People can change; love can wax cold (Matthew 24:12).
(4) The passage is revealing of the fortitude and independence of the magnificent Paul. No word of complaining or whimpering comes from his courageous lips. No brow-beating of neglectful brethren, and no pitiful solicitation from others, is here in evidence. What a man!
Let it never be said that this, or any other passage of Scripture, is meaningless or trite. Such superficial criticisms come only from those who neglect the responsibility of serious investigation. There is not an insignificant sentence in the Sacred Volume.

Do Christians Sin? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Do Christians Sin?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

A quick reading through the small epistle of 1 John reveals a number of verses that seem to disagree with each other. For instance, in 1 John 1:8,10 the author assures his readers that all people have sinned. In 2:1, John seems to indicate that even Christians will sin and therefore need Jesus Christ to be their advocate. Yet, 3:6 has John on record as saying: “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” In verse 8 of chapter 3, John wrote: “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning.” And verse 9 states: “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” Steve Wells, in his work, The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, wrote concerning these verses in chapter 3: “Earlier in this letter (1:8,10) John assured us that everyone sins. Yet in these verses he claims that Christians don’t sin” (Wells, 2003).
Are these verses examples of contradictions within the Bible? If they are not, what do they mean? Do Christians sin, or don’t they?
The answers to these questions actually are much simpler than it may, at first, appear. When we compare other translations of 3:6,8,9, we see that the actual Greek wording of the verses makes a major difference in the understanding of the passages. R.C.H. Lenski translated 3:6 as follows: “Everyone remaining in him does not go on sinning; everyone continuing to sin has not seen him, nor has he known him” (1966, pp. 457-458, emp. added). Lenski translated verse 9: “Everyone that has been born from God does not go on doing sinning because his seed remains in him; and he is not able to go on sinning because he has been born of God” (p. 462, emp. added). The New International Version translates 3:6: “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (emp. added).
Lenski explained that 1 John 3:6,9 uses a Greek construction called the present durative, which should be translated “does not go on sinning” (pp. 458,462). John, then, is saying no more in these verses than what Paul was saying in Romans 6:1-2, when he stated: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any long in it?” Numerous other verses teach that Christians will commit sins, even after they have been washed in the blood of Christ (cf. Romans 7:14-25; Philippians 3:12-13). However, John is saying that any person who rebelliously continues to sin, making it his or her usual, habitual way of life, is not following God. In 1 John 3:9, the Greek present infinitive means to habitually sin without compunction. In more practical terms (to offer an example), it is one thing for a Christian to slip up and commit an act of sexual immorality for which he or she is penitent. It is altogether another thing for a person to live as a prostitute and claim to be “having fellowship with the Father” (1 John 1:6).
Therefore, it is easily shown that no discrepancies exist between the verses under discussion in 1 John. Furthermore, it is refreshing to know that when a Christian does sin, “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”


Wells, Steve (2003), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible [On-line], URL: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/1cor/index.html.
Lenski, R.C.H. (1966), The Interpretation of the I and II Epistles of Peter, the Three Epistles of John, and the Epistle of Jude (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).

Do Babies Go to Hell When They Die? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Do Babies Go to Hell When They Die?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

One of the most often-used weapons in the skeptic’s arsenal is to seize statements from religious people that make God look like a cruel despot waiting to cast any and everyone into a torturous lake of eternal fire. However, this frequently lands the skeptic in a less-than-defensible position when the actual text of the Bible is consulted. Consider the following paragraph from Ronald Defenbaugh, a self-avowed atheist:
One evening, a friend about the same age as us rode home with us from one of our children’s sporting events. This was the first time I realized I may have a real problem with believing. She was a good friend of my spouse’s, a member of our Church and very religious. I don’t remember how the subject came up but salvation was our subject of conversation. She stated that even though my father had been an honest, caring person who did nothing but good, he would not receive salvation. He could only go to Heaven if he accepted Christ as his Savior. I remember thinking that I wanted no part of a deity that sent my father to Hell under those circumstances. Why would a baby, or my father, or even me be sent to Hell just because we didn’t accept Christ as our Savior? What about the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists? Again, what about me? This started me thinking that I probably was without belief. Or at least I didn’t understand it. It didn’t fit my logic (2003, emp. added).
After hearing from his religious friend that his father would not be in heaven because of his failure to obey Jesus’ teachings, Mr. Defenbaugh quickly constructed a straw man by insinuating that the God of the Bible would have no problem sending babies to hell along with disobedient, reasonable adults.
Does the Bible teach that babies go to hell when they die? In order to answer this question, we must find a biblical example in which an infant died, and in which his or her eternal destination is recorded. To do such is not difficult. In 2 Samuel 12, King David’s newborn son fell terminally ill. After seven days, the child died. In verses 22 and 23, the Bible records that David said: “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” It is clear that David’s dead infant son would never return to this Earth, but David also said that one day, he would go to be with his son. Through inspiration, David documented that his own eternal destination was going to be “in the house of the Lord” (Psalm 23:6). Therefore, we can conclude that “the house of the Lord” would be the eternal destination of his infant son to whom David would one day go. King David was looking forward to the day when he would be able to meet his son in heaven. Absolutely nothing in this context gives any hint that the dead infant son’s soul would go to hell.
Furthermore, Jesus said in Matthew 18:3-5:
Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
And in Luke 18:16-17, Jesus remarked: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
Therefore, we have been given a specific example in the Old Testament of an infant who died and would live forever in heaven. And Jesus Christ Himself, in the New Testament, stated that little children retain the qualities that make a person eligible to inherit the kingdom of God. We see, then, that infants and small children that die are in a safe state, and will live eternally in heaven.
With such clear statements from the Bible about the eternal destiny of dead infants and small children, why have religious people mistakenly taught that babies go to hell when they die? Due to the influential nature of John Calvin and his teachings, many people have taught that sin is “passed” from one generation to the next. It is believed by many religious people that children “inherit” the sins of their parents. Yet, the Bible pointedly and explicitly teaches that such is not the case. In Ezekiel 18:20, the Bible says: “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son.” Also, in Exodus 32, Moses pleaded with God to forgive the sins of the Israelites when he said: “Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book’ ” (Exodus 32:32-33). The Bible is plain in its teaching that babies do not inherit the sins of their parents. [One commonly misapplied scripture used to teach that infants inherit sin is Psalm 51:5-6, which has been dealt with in detail by Wayne Jackson (2000).]
The Bible nowhere teaches that babies go to hell if they die in infancy. Neither does it teach that babies inherit the sins of their parents. Although many skeptics have tried to portray God as an evil tyrant Who condemns innocent children to eternal destruction, their arguments are without merit or any semblance of biblical credence. In the words of Jesus Christ, “Let the little children come to me.”


Defenbaugh, Ronald (2003), “Why I Couldn’t Deconvert,” [On-line], URL: http://www.secweb.org/asset.asp?AssetID=263. Jackson, Wayne (2000), “ ‘Original Sin’ and a Misapplied Passage,” [On-line], URL: http://www.christiancourier.com/archives/originalSin.htm

Did the Patriarchs Know Jehovah by Name? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Did the Patriarchs Know Jehovah by Name?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Can you imagine if a friend whom you have known for years told someone else that you did not know him? Or, what if this friend, whose family name your family has known for generations, and whose first name you personally have known for at least two decades, indicated that you were not aware of his name? Such would likely make you wonder whether this “friend” was a liar or a lunatic. Similarly, some Bible students (and skeptics) have questioned why the Bible says that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not know God by His name Jehovah when the book of Genesis indicates that they did.
After Moses first visited Pharaoh regarding the release of the Israelites from bondage, God assured Moses that the Israelites would be liberated. He then added: “I am Jehovah: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty; but by my name Jehovah I was not known to them” (Exodus 6:2-3, emp. added; NOTE: All Scripture citations in this article are taken from the American Standard Version). The difficulty that Bible students have with this statement is that the name “Jehovah” (Hebrew Yahweh; translated LORD in most modern versions) appears approximately 160 times in the book of Genesis. Furthermore, “Jehovah” is used between Genesis chapters 12-50 (which deal mainly with the families of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) more than 100 times.
After God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice (instead of his son, Isaac) on Mount Moriah, Genesis 22:14 says, “Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh. As it is said to this day, in the mount of Jehovah it shall be provided” (emp. added). Years later, Isaac asked his son Jacob (who was deceiving his father in hopes of receiving a blessing), “How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, because Jehovah thy God sent me good speed” (Genesis 27:20, emp. added). How could God tell Moses that “by my name Jehovah I was not known to them” (Exodus 6:3), if Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were well aware of the name Jehovah, and even used it in their conversations? Is God a liar? Does the Bible contradict itself on this point? What reasonable answer can be given?
There is no denying the fact that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were aware of God’s name, Jehovah (Yahweh) [cf. Genesis 15:7; 22:14; 24:35,40,42,48,50,51,56; 26:22; 27:20; 49:18; etc.]. As John J. Davis wrote: “[I]n the book of Genesis...the name of Yahweh is introduced in a way which utterly precludes the supposition that it is used proleptically, or that it is anything but a correct account of the incident and the actual term employed” (Davis, 1963, 4[1]:34). Based upon the number of times the word (Yahweh) appears before Exodus 6:3, and the various ways in which it was used, including being a part of compound names that have specific meanings (e.g., Jehovah-jireh, meaning “Jehovah will provide”), it is unwise to argue that the patriarchs in Genesis were unaware of the name Jehovah. So what is the answer to this alleged problem?
Although Bible critics and unbelievers may scoff at any attempt to explain this difficult passage, which they believe is irresolvable, the fact is, a logical explanation exists. The expressions “to know the name of Jehovah” or simply “to know Jehovah” frequently mean more than a mere awareness of His name and existence. Rather, “to know” (from the Hebrew word yada) often means to learn by experience. When Samuel was a boy, the Bible reveals that he “ministered before/unto Jehovah” (1 Samuel 2:18; 3:1), and “increased in favor both with Jehovah, and also with men” (2:26). Later, however, we learn that “Samuel did not yet know Jehovah, neither was the word of Jehovah yet revealed unto him” (1 Samuel 3:7, emp. added). In one sense, Samuel “knew” Jehovah early on, but beginning in 1 Samuel 3:7 his relationship with God changed. From this point forward he began receiving direct revelations from God (cf. 1 Samuel 3:11-14; 8:7-10,22; 9:15-17; 16:1-3; etc.). Comparing this new relationship with God to his previous relationship and knowledge of Him, the author of 1 Samuel could reasonably say that beforehand “Samuel did not yet know Jehovah” (3:7).
According to Gleason Archer, the phrase “to know that I am Jehovah” (or “to know the name of Jehovah”) appears in the Old Testament at least 26 times, and “in every instance it signifies to learn by actual experience that God is Yahweh...” (1982, pp. 66-67). In the book of Exodus alone, the expression “to know” (yada) appears five times in relation to Jehovah, and “[i]n every case it suggests an experiential knowledge of both the person and power of Yahweh. In every case the knowledge of Yahweh is connected with some deed or act of Yahweh which in some way reveals both His person and power” (Davis, 4[1]:39). For example, in the very passage that has drawn so much criticism, God stated: “I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God, who bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:7, emp. added). Later, after God already had sent ten plagues upon the Egyptians (Exodus 7:14-12:30), parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14), and miraculously made bitter water sweet (Exodus 15:22-25), He said to Moses, “I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God”(Exodus 16:11-12, emp. added). After several more weeks, God said to Moses on Mount Sinai: “And they shall know that I am Jehovah their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them: I am Jehovah their God” (Exodus 29:46, emp. added). Did the Israelites not know Who Jehovah was by this time? Without question, they did. “They had already learned of Him as deliverer; now they would know Him as their provider” (Davis, 4[1]:39).
Notice also what Isaiah prophesied centuries after the time of Moses.
Now therefore, what do I here, saith Jehovah, seeing that my people is taken away for nought? They that rule over them do howl, saith Jehovah, and my name continually all the day is blasphemed. Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore (they shall know) in that day that I am he that doth speak; behold, it is I (Isaiah 52:5-6, emp. added).
More than 100 years later, following Judah’s entrance into Babylonian captivity, God foretold of their return to Judea and spoke to them through the prophet Jeremiah. He said: “Therefore, behold, I will cause them to know, this once will I cause them to know my hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is Jehovah” (Jeremiah 16:21, emp. added). Are we to gather from these statements that Israel and Judah were not aware of God’s name (Jehovah) before this time in their history? Certainly not. Obviously, something else is meant by the expression “to know (or not know) the name of Jehovah.” In truth, it is a Hebrew idiom that “generally signifies knowledge of some particular act or attribute of Yahweh as it is revealed in His dealing with men” (Davis, 4[1]:40).
Even in modern times it is possible for someone to know a person’s name or office without really “knowing” the person (or understanding his/her office). Imagine a group of foreigners who had never heard of Michael “Air” Jordan before meeting him at a particular convention a few years after his retirement from the NBA. They might come to know his name in one sense, but it could also be said that by his name “Air Jordan,” they really did not know him. Only after going to a gym and watching him dunk a basketball by jumping (or “flying” in the air) from the free throw line, and seeing him in his original “Air Jordan” shoes, would the group begin to understand the name “Air Jordan.”
Admittedly, at first glance Exodus 6:3 may seem to contradict what the book of Genesis teaches about the patriarchs’ knowledge of Jehovah. However, when one realizes that the Hebrew idiom “to know” (and specifically “to know” a name) frequently means more than a mere awareness of a person, then the difficulty disappears. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew God as Creator and sovereign Ruler of the Universe. But it would not be until centuries later, when God fulfilled the promises made to these patriarchs by delivering the nation of Israel from Egyptian bondage, that the full import of the name Jehovah would become known.


Archer, Gleason L. (1982), An Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Davis, John J. (1963), “The Patriarchs’ Knowledge of Jehovah: A Critical Monograph on Exodus 6:3,” Grace Theological Journal, 4[1]:29-43, Winter.

God has revealed the mystery of His will to His saints! by Roy Davison

God has revealed the mystery of His will to 

His saints!

The Bible unveils a great mystery. Paul proclaimed “the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints” (Colossians 1:25, 26).
The mystery, revealed in the Bible, is described in various ways: the mystery of God (Colossians 2:2; Revelation 10:7), the mystery of His will (Ephesians 1:9), the mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3:4; Colossians 4:3), the mystery of the kingdom of God (Mark 4:11), the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19), the mystery of the faith (1 Timothy 3:9), and the mystery of godliness (1 Timothy 3:16).
In the Bible, a mystery is a hidden truth that can be known only by revelation.

God has revealed mysteries to man.

Daniel declared: “He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things” (Daniel 2:21, 22).
God has revealed His mysteries to enable man to do His will: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

These mysteries are not understood by all.

“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight’” (Luke 10:21).
“And the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand’” (Matthew 13:10-13).

Why do some fail to understand?

Although man’s ears cannot be closed physically, they can be switched off. Zechariah said of God’s rebellious people: “They refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets” (Zechariah 7:11, 12).
God instructed His people for their good, “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward” (Jeremiah 7:24). God’s word is keyed to those who “incline their ear,” to those who are eager to learn.

How do people avoid hearing?

By not listening! People tune out what they do not want to hear. They prefer to watch dramatic presentations that require little effort or thought.
To really learn something however, especially if it is a little complicated, active listening is required. Like in school, one must listen to learn.
A preacher notices certain people who are listening to every word to learn more about the will of God. He notices others who sit with a blank expression, apparently thinking about something else, or nothing at all. Some allow themselves to be easily distracted by little disturbances rather than focusing on the message. Some even go to the rest room ... to see who just sent them a text message on their cell phone!
A preacher spends many hours in study and preparation to present a message from the word of God. But he is not an entertainer: he cannot mesmerize your mind like television.
While God’s word is being preached, the hearer also has a task to perform. He must listen attentively.
This lesson about the mystery of God will require concentration. We will be reading some beautiful, yet complicated passages of Scripture. Listen carefully so you can understand what God is telling us in His word.

Who can understand the mysteries of God?

About the coming reign of righteousness it was foretold: “The eyes of those who see will not be dim, and the ears of those who hear will listen” (Isaiah 32:3).
Only those who want to do the will of God understand the mysteries of the kingdom. Jesus said: “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority” (John 7:17).
Paul explains that the mysteries of God are comprehended only by people who value spiritual realities: “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:6-8).
Paul had not based his message on human wisdom, so their faith would be in God, not man (verses 4 and 5). To the mature Paul speaks “the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory.” Even before creation, God had a marvelous plan for man. This plan could not be known by human wisdom.
Paul continues: “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him’” (1 Corinthians 2:9). The blessings God has prepared are so vast that they not only cannot be known by human wisdom, they cannot even be imagined!

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11). The mystery of the wisdom of God and the unimaginable blessings He has in store for those who love Him, have been revealed through the Spirit!
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12). The mystery of the grace of God has been revealed by the Spirit.

Paul continues: “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13). Some claim that the ideas in the Bible are inspired, but not the words. Paul emphasizes, however, that he communicated the revealed mystery in words taught by the Spirit.
He concludes: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Thus, spiritual discernment is required to understand “the things of the Spirit,” the mystery of the wisdom and will of God.

The mystery was revealed to the apostles in the first century.

Paul’s understanding of the mystery came by revelation. He explained: “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles - if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” (Ephesians 3:1-4).
Paul gained knowledge of the mystery of Christ by revelation. Others can obtain this knowledge by reading what Paul has written.
“Which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power” (Ephesians 3:5-7).
The mystery of salvation by Christ, made known to the apostles and prophets in the first century, included the truth that believing Jews and believing Gentiles would be united in the same body, the church of Christ.
Paul’s special mission was to preach the gospel to the Gentiles: “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).
But he also addressed everyone, “And to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God” (Ephesians 3:9).
The fellowship of the mystery is the fellowship of the saved of every nation in the church of Christ, as determined by God before creation.
“To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10-12).
Never underestimate the importance of the church of Christ. The mystery of the manifold wisdom of God is made known by the church, not only to man on earth, but also to the principalities and powers in heaven!
This purpose is accomplished in Christ who is the source of salvation for mankind.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth” (Ephesians 1:7-10).
For the sake of the church, Paul was willing to suffer so the mystery - the word of God - might be preached: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints” (Colossians 1:24-26).
It was God’s will that the saints might know the glory awaiting those in whom Christ dwells: “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:27, 28).
Paul had a burning desire to help people understand the mystery of God so they might enjoy the blessings God gives to those who are in Christ.
“To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 1:29 - 2:3).

Through the Scriptures this mystery is made known to all nations.

After the mystery of salvation was revealed to the apostles, God commanded that the gospel be made known to all nations through inspired Scriptures: “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith - to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever” (Romans 16:25-27).

Preachers are stewards of the mysteries of God.

They must faithfully proclaim the gospel. Referring to Peter, Apollos and himself, Paul wrote: “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1, 2).
We are to pray that preachers will boldly proclaim the mystery of the gospel: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints - and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:18-20). “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak” (Colossians 4:2-4).
The Bible is a book of mysteries revealed. What have we learned?
- God has revealed the mystery of His will to His saints.
- Only those who want to do the will of God comprehend the mysteries of the kingdom.
- Only those with spiritual discernment understand the mystery of God’s wisdom revealed by the Spirit.
- The mystery of salvation through Jesus Christ was revealed to the apostles and prophets in the first century.
- It was God’s good pleasure to make these mysteries known. He wants us to know the mystery of God.
- God commanded that the revelation of this mystery be made known to all nations through inspired Scriptures.
- Preachers must faithfully proclaim the mysteries of God.
- We are to pray that they will boldly do so.

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).
What a tremendous blessing that God has revealed to us the mystery of salvation! Through the Scriptures this mystery has been made known to all nations for a purpose, “for obedience to the faith” (Romans 16:26).
Thus Jesus commands: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15, 16). “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20).
What is the mystery revealed? The good news that sinful man can be saved by the grace of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Accept God’s mystery of salvation by believing in Christ and confessing His name (Romans 10:10), by repenting and being baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Do not delay. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive

Bible Reading September 23, 24 by Gary Rose

Bible Reading September 23, 24

World  English  Bible

Sept. 23
Psalms 95-97

Psa 95:1 Oh come, let's sing to Yahweh. Let's shout aloud to the rock of our salvation!
Psa 95:2 Let's come before his presence with thanksgiving. Let's extol him with songs!
Psa 95:3 For Yahweh is a great God, a great King above all gods.
Psa 95:4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth. The heights of the mountains are also his.
Psa 95:5 The sea is his, and he made it. His hands formed the dry land.
Psa 95:6 Oh come, let's worship and bow down. Let's kneel before Yahweh, our Maker,
Psa 95:7 for he is our God. We are the people of his pasture, and the sheep in his care. Today, oh that you would hear his voice!
Psa 95:8 Don't harden your heart, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness,
Psa 95:9 when your fathers tempted me, tested me, and saw my work.
Psa 95:10 Forty long years I was grieved with that generation, and said, "It is a people that errs in their heart. They have not known my ways."
Psa 95:11 Therefore I swore in my wrath, "They won't enter into my rest."

Psa 96:1 Sing to Yahweh a new song! Sing to Yahweh, all the earth.
Psa 96:2 Sing to Yahweh! Bless his name! Proclaim his salvation from day to day!
Psa 96:3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.
Psa 96:4 For great is Yahweh, and greatly to be praised! He is to be feared above all gods.
Psa 96:5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but Yahweh made the heavens.
Psa 96:6 Honor and majesty are before him. Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Psa 96:7 Ascribe to Yahweh, you families of nations, ascribe to Yahweh glory and strength.
Psa 96:8 Ascribe to Yahweh the glory due to his name. Bring an offering, and come into his courts.
Psa 96:9 Worship Yahweh in holy array. Tremble before him, all the earth.
Psa 96:10 Say among the nations, "Yahweh reigns." The world is also established. It can't be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.
Psa 96:11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice. Let the sea roar, and its fullness!
Psa 96:12 Let the field and all that is in it exult! Then all the trees of the woods shall sing for joy
Psa 96:13 before Yahweh; for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, the peoples with his truth.

Psa 97:1 Yahweh reigns! Let the earth rejoice! Let the multitude of islands be glad!
Psa 97:2 Clouds and darkness are around him. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Psa 97:3 A fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries on every side.
Psa 97:4 His lightning lights up the world. The earth sees, and trembles.
Psa 97:5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of Yahweh, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
Psa 97:6 The heavens declare his righteousness. All the peoples have seen his glory.
Psa 97:7 Let all them be shamed who serve engraved images, who boast in their idols. Worship him, all you gods!
Psa 97:8 Zion heard and was glad. The daughters of Judah rejoiced, because of your judgments, Yahweh.
Psa 97:9 For you, Yahweh, are most high above all the earth. You are exalted far above all gods.
Psa 97:10 You who love Yahweh, hate evil. He preserves the souls of his saints. He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.
Psa 97:11 Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.
Psa 97:12 Be glad in Yahweh, you righteous people! Give thanks to his holy Name.

Sept. 24
Psalms 98-100

Psa 98:1 Sing to Yahweh a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand, and his holy arm, have worked salvation for him.
Psa 98:2 Yahweh has made known his salvation. He has openly shown his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
Psa 98:3 He has remembered his loving kindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Psa 98:4 Make a joyful noise to Yahweh, all the earth! Burst out and sing for joy, yes, sing praises!
Psa 98:5 Sing praises to Yahweh with the harp, with the harp and the voice of melody.
Psa 98:6 With trumpets and sound of the ram's horn, make a joyful noise before the King, Yahweh.
Psa 98:7 Let the sea roar with its fullness; the world, and those who dwell therein.
Psa 98:8 Let the rivers clap their hands. Let the mountains sing for joy together.
Psa 98:9 Let them sing before Yahweh, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

Psa 99:1 Yahweh reigns! Let the peoples tremble. He sits enthroned among the cherubim. Let the earth be moved.
Psa 99:2 Yahweh is great in Zion. He is high above all the peoples.
Psa 99:3 Let them praise your great and awesome name. He is Holy!
Psa 99:4 The King's strength also loves justice. You do establish equity. You execute justice and righteousness in Jacob.
Psa 99:5 Exalt Yahweh our God. Worship at his footstool. He is Holy!
Psa 99:6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel among those who call on his name; they called on Yahweh, and he answered them.
Psa 99:7 He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud. They kept his testimonies, the statute that he gave them.
Psa 99:8 You answered them, Yahweh our God. You are a God who forgave them, although you took vengeance for their doings.
Psa 99:9 Exalt Yahweh, our God. Worship at his holy hill, for Yahweh, our God, is holy!

Psa 100:1 Shout for joy to Yahweh, all you lands!
Psa 100:2 Serve Yahweh with gladness. Come before his presence with singing.
Psa 100:3 Know that Yahweh, he is God. It is he who has made us, and we are his. We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Psa 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, and bless his name.
Psa 100:5 For Yahweh is good. His loving kindness endures forever, his faithfulness to all generations.

Sept. 23

2 Corinthians 3

2Co 3:1 Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as do some, letters of commendation to you or from you?
2Co 3:2 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men;
2Co 3:3 being revealed that you are a letter of Christ, served by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tablets of stone, but in tablets that are hearts of flesh.
2Co 3:4 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God;
2Co 3:5 not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God;
2Co 3:6 who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2Co 3:7 But if the service of death, written engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly on the face of Moses for the glory of his face; which was passing away:
2Co 3:8 won't service of the Spirit be with much more glory?
2Co 3:9 For if the service of condemnation has glory, the service of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.
2Co 3:10 For most certainly that which has been made glorious has not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasses.
2Co 3:11 For if that which passes away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.
2Co 3:12 Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech,
2Co 3:13 and not as Moses, who put a veil on his face, that the children of Israel wouldn't look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away.
2Co 3:14 But their minds were hardened, for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains, because in Christ it passes away.
2Co 3:15 But to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.
2Co 3:16 But whenever one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
2Co 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
2Co 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Sept. 24
2 Corinthians 4

2Co 4:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, even as we obtained mercy, we don't faint.
2Co 4:2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
2Co 4:3 Even if our Good News is veiled, it is veiled in those who perish;
2Co 4:4 in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the Good News of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn on them.
2Co 4:5 For we don't preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake;
2Co 4:6 seeing it is God who said, "Light will shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2Co 4:7 But we have this treasure in clay vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves.
2Co 4:8 We are pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not to despair;
2Co 4:9 pursued, yet not forsaken; struck down, yet not destroyed;
2Co 4:10 always carrying in the body the putting to death of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
2Co 4:11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal flesh.
2Co 4:12 So then death works in us, but life in you.
2Co 4:13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to that which is written, "I believed, and therefore I spoke." We also believe, and therefore also we speak;
2Co 4:14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will present us with you.
2Co 4:15 For all things are for your sakes, that the grace, being multiplied through the many, may cause the thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
2Co 4:16 Therefore we don't faint, but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day.
2Co 4:17 For our light affliction, which is for the moment, works for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory;
2Co 4:18 while we don't look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.