A Commentary of the Third Letter of John
A PROPHETIC PREVIEW
The third letter of the apostle John is not an easy letter. For this reason, we provide some useful help and hints in advance. We provide them with appropriate links, so that the reader can look at things (again). Without this knowledge it will be difficult to follow the fullness of our latest discoveries in terms of content. The reader should be familiar with:
- the links between the 21 teaching letters of the New Testament and the seven churches; link
- with the term "circular route" and a basic understanding of the three rounds of the postal route of Asia Minor; link
- the three levels of interpretation of the seven churches, which are:
- the historical course;
- the order of the seven churches according to the festival cycle;
- the spiritual level (explained in this script);
- the seven-flame candlestick, the menorah, i.e. ,which of the seven spirits of God is assigned to which of the seven lamps; the same applies to the assignment of the seven spirits to the corresponding congregation.
We would like to begin our commentary on the 3rd Epistle of John with a quotation. Jesus spoke the following about Himself at the end of His discourses in Matthew 13: "Therefore every scribe who is instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old." In each of the parables, Jesus both told and explained old things from the treasure of the Old Testament and brought forth new things from it. We do likewise.
With the four Gospels we possess a precious treasure, but with it we have far from everything. In John 16:12, Jesus informs his disciples, "Still many things I have to tell you," that is, his first "digs" are few compared to those treasures that were hidden and still are to this day. The speeches of the Messiah are undoubtedly of a fundamental nature, therefore extremely important for the understanding of the New Testament. How and in which way the Lord will instruct his disciples in the future about the many, we learn in verse 13: "But when that one, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth." The whole truth is synonymous with the many. It is the Spirit of the Lord, when He comes, who guides us into all truth. At Pentecost 2000 years ago he had come, and from that time on he guides us step by step, explaining to us the whole truth and what is to come.
John also speaks about the truth and the things to come in his third letter and that he wrote to Gaius about things to come, we will show and explain on the basis of the structures we have discovered. We remind the reader of the assignments we have made of the doctrinal letters of the New Testament, in which John's third letter is assigned to the church of Philadelphia.
https://simson-project.com/tab_4_lehrbriefe_sendschreiben.html s. dazu Tabelle 4
Weitere einführende Informationen auf https://simson-project.com/struktur_der_bibel.html
Introduction to the 3rd Epistle of John
Like in his second letter to the Lady, in his third John introduces himself to the addressee as an elder, only that he also calls the addressee by his name, but only in the first sentence. What is special about this is, by using the present tense of the verb "to love" in verse 1, he not only lets Gaius know that he may feel beloved, by switching to the form of address, beloved, he expresses that he loves him not only during the writing of the letter, but far beyond. It is obviously a personal letter, but with an extraordinary language. With a kind of cipher, interspersed with cryptic allusions, he writes to his younger self. He chooses a kind of internal secret language for it, not in the classical sense, but as it is usual in families that keep themselves covered outwardly because they are exposed to an external pressure. The letter is written in such a simple way that third parties, should they get hold of it, would consider it to be of inferior quality and come to the conclusion: Kids write like that. Only the addressee can really grasp and understand the content of the letter.
Isn't that a special characteristic of our time, too? An infinite number of abbreviated messages run over the messengers, which only lead a fellow reader around by the nose. The actual recipient, however, understands the content of the message.
Special features and conspicuousness
Six times we find in this short letter the Greek word Agape, which is translated as love. In addition, John uses the word philos twice, which also means to love and is hidden in the English word "friends". Furthermore, it is noticeable that John uses the word truth seven times; in the end times this is extremely important to hear; even the chatter of a Diotrephes cannot drown it out. That Diotrephes hinders the acceptance of brothers and sisters, who after all went out because of " the Name ", is already very strange, but that he also tries to push out those who speak in favor of the acceptance of the strangers, leaves one speechless. Diotrephes seem to be springing up like poisonous mushrooms in our day. Nevertheless, John encourages not only his beloved not to imitate evil, but also us to continue to welcome strangers in love.
The closing section of the letter also seems strangely brief and succinct. The author leaves the recipient with the hint that he will discuss everything else in a personal conversation, in "private", so to speak, and then follows the sentence: Peace to you! It could hardly be any shorter. The letter ends with greetings from friends and to friends. Who are the friends?
Structure and composition of the third Epistle of John
It is said about the letter of Jude that it is linguistically and stylistically the most accomplished letter of the New Testament. No wonder, since Judas came from a family that was virtually cradled in the written word and oral speech, especially since Judas, as the nestling, was instructed daily by his siblings. Especially he might have learned from his big brother, you know, the Elder One.
In contrast, some scholars accuse the Elder of not having written proper Greek at all. John the systematist should be above such criticism and smile amiably. Nowadays we would count him to the group of the computer-affine, because they also speak and write similarly cryptic. Only those who know their hermetic symbols, expressions and idioms understand their language, understand what they say and write, but above all what they mean and what they allude to. We take out three terms, chosen and set as key words by the author with mathematical precision: Agape, Aletheia and Philos.
Six times agape (love):
1st verse 1: the beloved Gaius;2nd verse 1: whom I love;3rd verse 3: beloved;4th verse 5: beloved;5th verse 6: love;6th verse 11: beloved.
Seven times Aletheia (truth):
1st verse 1: in truth;2nd verse 3: thine - hold fast to the truth;3rd verse 3: you - walk in the truth;4th verse 4: my children - walk in the truth;5th verse 8: become co-workers of the truth; see Epistle to Titus.6th verse 12: the testimony of truth;7th verse 12: our testimony is true.
Twice Philos (love):
1st verse 14: Philos;2nd verse 14: Philos.
The following are some rather weak arguments in favor of assigning the third letter of John absolutely to the church of Philadelphia. Even though the arguments are weak, they still carry considerable weight when taken together.
Argument 1: The six agapes can be assigned to the churches according to the historical cycle, they end at Philadelphia, thus we get the following order:
1st Ephesus verse 1: the beloved Gaius;2nd Smyrna verse 1: whom I love;3rd Pergamos verse 3: beloved;4th Thyatira verse 5: beloved;5th Sardis verse 6: love;6th philadelphia v.11: beloved
Six times the key word Agape
The three key words Agape, Philos and Aletheia, we understand as variables, which also serve as pointers. Each variable has its unique name, the first is called Agape, the second Philos and the third Aletheia. Each variable also has a value, which means in our case, it contains what it says on it and so the variable Agape contains the value love, the variable Philos also contains love and the third, Aletheia, contains the value truth. The variables are slightly modified in the letter by their use.
1st time in verse 1: the beloved Gaius.
The first time the word agape becomes an adjective, that is, Gaius is said to feel loved by his friend John. In a time like ours, the feeling of being loved has become rarer because the love of the many has grown cold.
2nd time in verse 1: whom I love
The second time agabe turns into a verb. The writer of the letter loves Gajus and obviously not only when he puts agape in his mouth. He loves him in praising the deeds of Gajus and in encouraging him to continue in what he is doing.
3rd time in verse 3: Beloved.
In the third time, agape takes a holistic form, it becomes the name of the addressee and is meant to transform him to that person. John from now on does not call the addressee of the letter Gajus, but only Beloved. In this way, the older expresses his deep love for the younger, reveals their intimacy with his tender address. In addition, he makes clear to his Beloved with what great interest he participates in the needs of his brother. And something else is to be achieved with the form of address - Beloved. By using the word Beloved in the vocative, John wants to maintain the connection with Gaius until the end, at the same time he wants to increase his attention. The proverb should apply here: All good things come in threes.
4th time in verse 5: Beloved.
When John again addresses the recipient as Beloved, he does so in connection with his deeds. The comprehensively beloved walks in the footsteps of his model, he loves and even does so faithfully. True love, once kindled, is like a small fire that becomes a great conflagration. Each of us knows, and has certainly experienced it himself, that praise from the mouth of a true brother is not only worth its weight in gold, it spurs the praised on.
5th time in verse 6: love
The fifth time John speaks of the love of the Beloved. We think that this is the love of which John writes in his first letter, in chapter 2,5: But whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. Yes, it really says: perfected! Also the Lord himself praises in this matter, when he writes to the church of Gaius: Because you have kept my word, I promise you, I will also keep you. So to keep his word means: To be perfected in the love of God.
6th time in verse 11: Beloved.
The sixth time Gaius is asked again for increased attention, John accomplishes this by using the word beloved in the vocative for the third time. The salutation is then followed by a phrase that actually requires full concentration: "Do not imitate evil, but good." Why does John once again heat up the full attention, demand it to the utmost? Hasn't Gaius shown by his love, then, that he strives after good? Yes, he has. At this point, John does not want to criticize his brother, but to draw attention to a way of behaving that is common to all people, yet so often slips through our fingers in everyday life. John directs the focus to the strangeness of "imitation". What is it all about?
Well, the word "mimeomai" is in the passive voice in Greek, meaning: it happens to one more or less unconsciously and drives us to act. Imitation is rather a passive process, from which everyone is moved unnoticed. Slowly but steadily, one imitates the behavior of another. John draws attention to this ubiquitous phenomenon. Because good is also imitated in the same way, Gaius is to be purposefully careful to imitate only the good and to consciously counteract the imitation of evil behavior.
We can also observe very beautifully in our children how they imitate the behavior of others. This is an important skill, because it trains them for life. We never get rid of such automatisms of learning and that is also good. John wants to warn with his hint on the one hand not to imitate the evil, on the other hand to encourage to train us the good over the abilities of the imitation. Do not surround yourself with the Diotrephes, because their appearance and behavior will imperceptibly rub off on you without any ifs and buts. Surround yourself with the good ones.
Diotrephes pushed the brothers out of the community, this is a behavior towards strangers that should not cause a similar reaction in Gajus, this is exactly what he should not imitate. Not even to Diotrephes, even if it becomes difficult for him now and then. It is for the Lord to judge, so he writes with and in behalf of the Lord, "When I come, I will remember his works that he does." With these words, the Lord's return is implied for the wicked servant Diotrephes. It is different for Gaius, for to the latter he writes with and on behalf of the Lord, "I hope to see you soon, and we will talk verbally." And so for Diotrephes the Lord and John come as judges, for Gaius they come as friends.
Seven times the key word Aletheia
The number 7 stands for completeness, perfection, totality. In Genesis 1:31, after the 6 days of creation, it is said "it was very good," but only from the seventh day do we read that God had completed his work, and so it is then also said in Genesis 2:2: "And God had finished his work which he had made on the seventh day." Six times God says that He loves His church, but it is only with the sevenfold testimony of truth that the Triune God completes His work with Laodicea. That is why Revelation 1:8 says, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” (KJV)
Seven times Aletheia (truth):
1.Ephesus verse 1: in the truth;
2.Smyrna verse 3: yours - holding fast to the truth;
3.Pergamos verse 3: thou - walkest in the truth;
4.Thyatira verse 4: my children - walk in the truth;
5.Sardis verse 8: become co-workers of the truth; see Epistle to Titus.
6.Philadelphia verse 12: the testimony of the truth;
7.Laodicea verse 12: our testimony is true.
The word Agabe can only be assigned to six assemblies and the sixth one is Philadelphia according to the historical order. We conclude from this: the letter is prophetically addressed to Philadelphia. Now the second table comes into play. From it it is evident, Philadelphia has the testimony of truth. Let's take a closer look at the details of the table Aletheia (truth).
"In the truth": Ephesus walks in the truth, the Lord testifies to her. Jesus specifically points out, Ephesus has invented as liars those who call themselves apostles but are not apostles at all. What did the church examine? It examined the authenticity of the gold of those false apostles. The gold stands as a metaphor for the righteousness of God as unfolded by the Apostle Paul in the Letter to the Romans. "By faith alone, and not of works."
"Holding fast to the truth": Smyrna is afflicted, some of them are thrown into prison, others die a martyr's death. The Lord encourages Smyrna to hold fast to the truth. Literally, Jesus says to her, "Be faithful even unto death." To be faithful means to hold fast, is it not? In no book of the Bible is the phrase, "Know ye not," repeated more often than in 1 Corinthians; in it we find the corrections necessary to complete holiness. (Note: 1st Corinthians is attributed to the church of Smyrna).
"You walk in the truth", this addresses the recipient personally. On Yom Kippur, everyone stands for himself. The Lord has the sharp and double-edged sword and will use it to separate, among other things, the hidden and obvious lies from the truth with razor-sharp precision. In the service of the gospel, the faithful will be recognized. This may also result in their death, such as the murder of Antipas. He was a particularly faithful witness and therefore he was murdered by the liars, killed by those who come from the synagogue of the father of lies. Those who walk in the truth of the gospel are an abomination to the Egyptians.
"My children walk in the truth": Thyatira has many children, this can be seen from the epistle addressed to her. The Lord knows their works, their love, their faith and their service and all this will not be less but more in the end times. And where more works and more love and more faith are seen, there must be more "children" to do the increasing works and service or not?
"Becoming co-workers of the truth": There is abundantly little of this in Sardis. No other letter in the New Testament reports the hiring of qualified co-workers like the letter to Titus. Man must certainly be equipped as a co-worker by the Lord to meet the required criteria. We have assigned the letter to Titus to the church of Sardis. Olaf Latzel has rightly called upon the believers of the Protestant church to report the false teachings to the church and not to let go until the church lawyers take up the matter. Then hopefully "co-workers of the truth" will be employed again.
"The testimony of truth": as already mentioned, in Philadelphia the testimony of truth can be heard and seen in everyday life. It is not for nothing that the Lord says to her: I am the truthful one. Jesus is the witness of truth, he is, as testified in Rev.1,5 "the faithful witness"; this witness is heard in the middle of Philadelphia.
"Our testimony is true!": shouts it from Philadelphia towards Laodicea. May they hear it, not only the shouting of Philadelphia, but also the knocking of the Lord who is already at their door, desiring to enter the hearts of those who overcome and open the door.
Six times love and seven times truth prove, on the basis of the historical cycle, that our interpretation is true. The "double-historical argument," as we will call it, is the two things that John points out are inseparable. Love without truth deceives and truth without love lies. For 2000 years, the unity of love and truth can be seen in Philadelphia, because for 2000 years they have been fighting together and then always succeeding. Together they are strong. The third letter of John must definitely be assigned to the church of Philadelphia.
The truth in numbers
Now we roll up the whole thing by means of the numbers, because we should also consider the meaning of the numbers for the interpretation of the letter; (see script by P.F.Kiene on https://www.bibelkommentare.de/kommentare/332/was-bedeuten-die-zahlen-in-der-bibel)
What is the relation of the numbers to the church of Philadelphia?
The number 2 expresses in the Bible the smallest community as it can be formed by people, such as: two friends, twins or a married couple. In his third letter John writes to a friend, further he mentions two groups of friends. Who these friends are and what they have in common we will elaborate in this commentary.
The number 6 is the number of man, because God created Adam on the sixth day. In the same way, man should, can and may attend to all his works, needs and relationships for six days, but the seventh day is to be a day of rest for him to have special fellowship with God. The seventh day belongs to rest with God. This brings us to the next number, the number 7, which stands for completion, completeness and totality.
There is a fourth number hidden in our examples, it is the number 8. By mentioning the word Philos twice, the number of the word love in the letter increases from 6 to 8. What the two Greek terms Agape and Philos and their number tell us, we will tell later. In advance only this much: The number 8 stands for a new beginning, which is represented by the church Philadelphia and is initiated by it. Only to this church Jesus said that he gave an open door. Luke tells us about the new beginning in his second account, tells about the very first Pentecost, which took place in Jerusalem. With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a new era was ushered in. For all nations, the Jews first and then the Greeks, the door to the sanctuary has been open since that time. This epoch soon comes to an end or, to put it more precisely, it is interrupted for a short time because God makes another change. The changes are often indicated, like in Joh. 19,26-27 and 2.Kö. 2. With the round way and with the festival cycle connected with it, the repeated changes can be explained well.
The truth in the festival cycle and its spiritual meaning
We have already pointed out at the beginning of this script that the seven epistles have different narrative levels. For the sake of completeness, we list all the levels we have discovered in the following list, but we will not go into all of them comprehensively, even mentioning some only in passing. In this script, we will direct our focus to points 4 and 6.
1. John wrote to 7 churches that actually existed about 2000 years ago;
2. the Epistles have been regarded as an orientation and location guide for every local church for 2000 years;
3. the epistles are always addressed personally to each reader and this also since 2000 years;
4. the epistles prophesy the historical course of the church;
5. they contain veiled the entire festival cycle;
6. they figuratively describe conversion and rebirth based on the spring feasts;
7. they describe the last 7 years before the Second Coming, divided into:
a. the spring festivals; they form the first three and a half years;
b. the fall feasts; they describe the great tribulation.
On the map below, we see the seven churches marked along the postal route of Asia Minor, a circular route that started in Ephesus. We have donated an envelope to Ephesus to mark the circuit as a postal route. From Ephesus, the route first went north to the city of Smyrna, then continued to the "far" north, to Pergamos, the path continued to meander east to Thyatira. From there, the road turned downward toward the south, then passed through Sardis and Philadelphia, finally reaching Laodicea. If one traveled on this route further, one arrived at the end again at the starting point.
The Postal Route of Asia Minor
of The Seven Churches
God completes his work with Laodicea
At this point it is important for us to repeat that we always speak of the seventh and last church, the assembly of Laodicea, because it is this church that forms the end-time church. Moreover, like the other six churches, it stands for one of the seven stages of the postal route, which we explained with the help of the map above. The places delimit as milestones partial routes, supply us thereby also a temporal horizon, which is more exactly marked out by the seven feasts. Their epistles, in connection with the 3rd Epistle of John, provide a narrow but clearly defined framework of meaning, which, as we have seen, is marked out by the key words and reinforced by the numbers.
The milestones of the recent church history
In terms of salvation history, the first round on the postal route of Asia Minor ended prematurely. Thyatira had left the way of truth and so the Holy Spirit initiated already in the 15th century the Reformation, which then spread in the 16th century from Wittenberg over Europe and later over the whole world.
With Martin Luther it went back to the start, i.e. back to the beginning (Laodicea). The beginning is given by the first feast, the Passover (see Genesis 23). It went from the fourth stage, Thyatira, straight to Laodicea, stage five. From there it went very quickly to Ephesus, stage six. But sadly, this time too, as many centuries before, the church left its first love, and so it came to pass as it had to. After a spiritually-furious departure, a Smyrna period immediately followed, stage seven, in which the church suffered suffering, persecution, hardship and death. Those who know and understand European history have an inkling of why so many people had to perish in the 15th and 16th centuries. Between the 17th and 18th centuries, Philadelphia_1 finally came into view. The breakthrough effected in it brought the gospel in ever new waves to the far corners of the earth, despite all resistance.
Only for a short time we are still on the stage Philadelphia_1, because the Lord will end it abruptly. It will be ended by the Rapture (the taking away of the firstborn into heaven). After this drastic event, those that are left behind find themselves in Laodicea. The Lord, though not in their midst, is already at their door again. (There are said to be men who do not give up, so also the Lord, at their door). With his knocking and then the miracle of their appearance, the overcomers start the ninth and last stage, whose seven stations are marked out by the festival cycle. The ninth stage is also the third and last round of the postal route.
Pentecost 33 AC to 2023 - 1990 years of hard work by the small power
During the Reformation, the Holy Spirit was working vigorously, so the sincere Thyatiras in Laodicea were able to go directly to the start of the second round and, after many turmoils and disputes, reached Philadelphia, where the Holy Spirit continues to work. After the Rapture he will be in waiting for a short moment. How short this period will be can be estimated from the story of Elijah and Elisha (see 2 Kings 2), because while Elijah was being raptured, his mantle (which is an image of the Holy Spirit) fell off. Elisha immediately took it in his hand. Proverbially, it was then in Elisha's hand to receive the Holy Spirit. Only when and where, we learn only in the course of his story.
When Elisha set out to return to the Jordan River, the most exciting and mysterious part of his life began. Arriving on the east bank of the Jordan, he certainly stood there for some time alone and with an anxious heart. It took him a while to get his way and cry out for "the God of Elijah." Isn't it amazing that Elisha had already gone to Elijah's school of prophecy for several years and still didn't know God personally, even though the Lord had chosen him to be Elijah's successor. (This is exactly the situation we see with those who are Laodiceans: without a personal relationship with Jesus). The Lord was not God to Elisha, but only the God of Elijah.
Still in a state of grief and pain over the loss of his friend (this is what happens to those left behind in Laodicea) and against all doubt, Elisha strikes the water with the mantle of Elijah. And then: Attention! A second person also strikes the water and so the waters of the Jordan divide. This scene stands metaphorically for rebirth; only it enables Elisha to pass dry-footed through the riverbed of the Jordan and to come up again on the west bank. The ascent from the Jordan is a shadow image for the resurgence at baptism and is again a shadow image for the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and thus also a shadow image for the co-resurrection.
If we transfer what happened at the Jordan to the festival cycle, we can conclude that everyone who starts at Laodicea has it personally in his hands. One is born again on the same day and then finds himself in Philadelphia. Another, to his own weariness, goes the detour via Ephesus and only then arrives in Philadelphia.
Let us not forget: "The Spirit of God blows where He wills," Jesus once explained to Nicodemus, and further the Lord elaborated: "You hear its whirring, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." The personal Pentecost is indeed something very personal and the work of the Holy Spirit happens at its specific time in a specific place. The crucial condition is to first cross the Jordan River from west to east. The west in this case represents the old life that one leaves to "die" in the Jordan. Elisha's old nature died in the first act when he went down into the Jordan with Elijah. This process is the shadow image of immersion during baptism. The return of the prophet's disciple to the Jordan River describes the second act. By Elisha striking the waters of the Jordan and God answering him by also striking, Elisha receives the Holy Spirit far from all men.
With this scene of the second act, we are shadowily illustrated the two sides of the same coin: the completion of the baptism that leads to the resurrection, with simultaneous rebirth through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Thus, Elisha is the shadow image of the Jews of Acts 2. The apostle Peter answered the audience to the question: What shall we do brothers? By saying, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Now we don't know exactly when Elisha repented, just before the Jordan perhaps? But we do know this for sure, there was a day when Elisha went down into the Jordan with Elijah. Only after Elisha had fully returned, back to the west side of the Jordan, did he have forgiveness of sins, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and had eternal life. Therefore, we strongly exhort every Jew: be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your repentance will be valid before God, otherwise it is all just wastepaper.
After this passage, it should also have become clear that infant baptism is completely useless. Just as Elisha decided to go through the Jordan River after some time, everyone must also make the decision for himself personally after careful consideration; this can happen on the same day, like the Minister of Finance from Ethiopia, or even a little later, like Elisha.
We must still draw attention to a difference in this matter, which exists between Jews and "Greeks". A Jew must be baptized in order to then receive forgiveness of sins and a new life. But a "Greek" receives forgiveness through his faith; the "Greek" also receives the Holy Spirit through his faith. The difference derives from the law. First the confession of sins before the priest, then the slaughter of the sacrificial animal, and then the prescribed cleansing bath. Only then was one pure.
Note: From the phrase: "God of Elijah," it is understandable that many Jews have a hard time acknowledging Jesus as God. Elisha firmly believed in Yahweh, but he did not have a personal relationship with the Lord. It was only after crossing the Jordan twice that Elisha finally arrived in Philadelphia and there the Spirit of the Lord works, with double power, through the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3.
But Philadelphia does not only stand for the new spiritual life, the church also stands for the third house, the spiritual temple. In addition, Philadelphia forms the base camp for the ministries, but especially for the two witnesses, because during the heat of the summer and the hard work in the harvest, times of rest are needed. Three and a half years the harvest will last and then Philadelphia_2 will again be brought close to the Lord in a miraculous way (see Book of Ruth and Genesis 29:22 -23 u. 25a) Afterwards the autumn begins with Sardis, whose first storms announce the tribulation of Jacob.
Summary: The seven churches describe the historical development of the church of Jesus, at the same time, although hidden, the seven feasts of the Lord from 3. Moses 23. Three times must be started, so that the work of God is completed. The first round was prematurely abandoned at Thyatira. For a new start, it went back to Laodicea for the second round, which ends with Philadelphia because it is raptured. Those left behind go to Laodicea for the start of round three, with Ephesus, Smyrna and Philadelphia representing the spring festivals, and Sardis, Pergamos and Thyatira representing the fall festivals. The Lord also brings Philadelphia_2 to safety before judgment comes upon the world.
The four churches, Laodicea, Ephesus, Smyrna and Philadelphia, can be used to describe both conversion and rebirth. In Laodicea the fear of the Lord returns, it follows: She realizes that she is poor, blind and naked, and that only the Lord makes truly rich, opens the eyes and clothes. Ephesus represents the Feast of Unleavened Bread, are form the metaphor for a holy life that the Lord creates. This feast follows immediately after the Passover. Smyrna represents the Feast of Barley Firstfruits, and represents the sacrifices of total surrender to the Lord unto death. Philadelphia stands for the fourth feast.
About John the Elder
Before we deal with the friends and brothers in the next sections, we would like to draw the readers' attention to a detail that we discovered between the lines in this letter. John is a highly sensitive man who is able to empathize with his friends, brothers and also enemies. Sensitively close and yet with respectful distance, he presents his concerns. In clever and wise words and in the hints made between the lines, he conveys what is so burning on his heart. With this heart he had already grasped, without ever having met him personally before, that Jesus is the Messiah and so he followed him without being asked. With this heart John also grasps the good in Philadelphia, but also the evil that has gone unnoticed by the friends and brothers for a long time.
Two times the key word Philous - friends
We come to the third key word, the word friend, which in Greek is philos. The apostle John uses it twice in the plural. What is prophetically indicated by the use of the word Philous twice? Already with our remarks we indicate it again and again: John and Gaius are friends, and very special ones at that. In our search for the other friends, we let the Scriptures lead us to Philadelphia. The name of the church is programmatic, it is composed of two terms, the word Philos for friend and the word Adelphos, which means brother. From this we conclude three things:
John and Gaius are not only friends, they are also brothers; John holds the position of elder and the beloved stands in the position of the younger;
John did not only write the Epistle, as we learn from Rev.1,19, he also wrote the 3rd Epistle of John, because with the key words Agape and Aletheia he undoubtedly refers twice to the historical course, which he himself wrote and still remembered well.
The letter that John mentions in 3.Joh. 1, 9 is the epistle to Philadelphia.
But who are the friends that send greetings and who are the friends that John sends greetings and then also by name? Gajus will need many weeks, if not months, to greet all friends by name. I wonder would John really have wanted to say that?
As already described in the section "Keyword: Agape", under point 6, the return of Jesus is indicated by verse 11 with the words: "When I come, ...". If this is so, then John sends greetings from friends who are already in heaven and the friends whom Gaius is to greet by name are on earth. John and the friends who are with him must be seen as raptured.
But who are the friends who send greetings through John? Here are some passages from the greatest friends of the Old and New Testament. In Exodus 33:11 it is said that the Lord spoke to Moses as one speaks to a friend. In 2 Chr. 20:7 it is said: Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land from before your people Israel and give it to the seed of Abraham, your friend, forever? To this James writes in his letter to the 12 tribes of Israel: "And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, But Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God." And in John 3:29 it says, "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly at the voice of the bridegroom: this joy of mine is now fulfilled." This is what John the Baptist said. The friends are therefore the 12 tribes of Israel, which undoubtedly include Abraham, Moses and John the Baptist.
We conclude from this: the friends of the Old Testament were first resurrected and then raptured, and that together with John. He, who knows how to write, forwards the greetings of the friends who are already in heaven to friends who are on earth and who, without exception, all belong to the 12 tribes of Israel, but still live in the Scattering. Gaius will need a computer and an e-mail address if he is to personally greet all the friends on the vast globe of the earth.
We have our doubts about this interpretation. Let's remember, John writes cryptically, sparing with his words and that with system. His words are placeholders, variables and pointers. Let's take a closer look at the last sentence of the verse. John writes, "Greet the friends with name." Let's do a test and replace the preposition "with" and write "without" instead. We get the following sentence: greet the friends without names. When we would say to a child one or the other sentence, first a question mark would be drawn on the forehead and what answer would come? Try it out.
The key word for our solution is the word name, because John wrote: Greet friends with name, those without name he should not greet. As we said before, John writes cryptically and is only understandable to the recipient. And because Gaius always listened attentively to his elder, he had immediately grasped what his big brother wants to tell him.
And so, in the letter to Philadelphia, we look for those who bear a name. Rev. 3:12: Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall never go out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and my new name. What is striking in this verse is that John uses the word name three times in this verse, right?
The Lord promises in this verse to the overcomers that He will make them knowable by writing the name of God on them and also the name of the new Jerusalem. That was the first step to solution, the second follows. Where do you think we find the parallel? Well, of course, in Rev. 14:1. It is the 144,000 sealed ones who are said to stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion, with the Father's name written on their foreheads. These are the friends by name, the name of the Heavenly Father, who were purchased "as firstfruits" (Smyrna). Of them it is said that only they can learn the new song that is intoned in heaven by harp singers. - Music to our ears - Furthermore, it is said of them that they have not engaged in fornication (Sardis and Thyatira) and are purchased as firstfruits for God and the Lamb and follow the Lamb wherever he goes. - Gaius, finely done. -
Adelphoi - Brothers
In the threefold mention of the brothers, John's empathetic participation in the brothers' concerns is palpable; moreover, we see him making himself one with them. He feels how they feel, we gather from the first sentence of the third verse: "For I rejoiced greatly!" Do we hear it, do we feel it? John rejoiced with great joy! A brother can only feel this way if he has previously experienced such joy in his life, the great joy of Fellowship.
What kind of fellowship are we talking about here? At the Last Passover, the First Supper, John leaned on the breast of the Lord Jesus. As that disciple whom Jesus loved, he eagerly desired to be so close to his Lord and Savior at all times, so that on the said Passover he laid his head on the breast of Jesus and thereby heard the heart of his Lord throbbing. John's ears heard the throbbing of eternity. We take it from such a brother that he rejoiced greatly. Verse 4 indicates the breadth and extent of his friends, "I have no greater joy than this, that I hear that my children (we remember, these are the children of Thyatira) walk in the truth. The truth of the fellowship of all the brethren, even the strangers, that is his greatest joy.
When John rejoices in verse 3 as brethren came, the phrase points to the church of Smyrna; we spoke of this earlier in assigning the key word aletheia (truth). We, the authors, believe the phrase, "I rejoiced when the brothers came," is the hidden reference to the martyrs. John's joy refers to their coming after their death, because finally they are in the longed-for port, have arrived in heaven. Where else would the brothers come from if not from earth? John, as we have already noted, including in the script to Revelation 1, writes from heaven. If the brethren from Smyrna arrived with him, they also arrived with Jesus. Let us not forget, where John is, there is Jesus, or theologically correct, before it hails criticism: Where Jesus is, John is not far away.
We find the next brothers in verse 5. The elder writes: Beloved, faithfully you do whatever you may have done to the brethren, and that to strangers. Here it is the brothers from Thyatira who arrived in Philadelphia as strangers. The strangers from Thyatira are indeed strangers to the Church of Philadelphia. It is from that very church that the Jews have experienced unending suffering, not from the true brethren, but from the enemies who have usurped dominion by force, even though Jesus is Lord and the head of the Church. From jThyatira they "went out" and came as strangers to Philadelphia. Remember, the strangers obeyed the Lord's command in Revelation 18:4, which reads "Go out of her (Thyatira), my people, that ye be not made partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."
The last time we read of the brethren is in verse 10 and how they stand before the open door of Philadelphia seeking entrance, which the Diotrephes of the cutting try to deny them. May the friends continue to welcome the strangers from Thyatira and not slacken in following the lovely example set for them by Gaius.
Note: It was only through the assignment of the key words Agape and Aletheia made earlier that we were able to assign the brothers and strangers to the appropriate churches, such as Smyrna, Thyatira and Philadelphia.
Who is Demetrius?
Of another, Demetrius, the following is said:
- all bear witness,
- the truth bears witness and
- John himself bears witness.
We have already pointed out in the introduction that Demetrius is not given a good testimony, whether this means that he is given a bad one, we will now examine. We repeat our question:Why a threefold testimony, what does the Scripture say about it?
Demetrius' name does not augur well. It means: belonging to Demeter. Who or what is Demeter? When we hear the name, it certainly reminds us of the "organic brand" Demeter (in Germany), and it should. Demeter was the goddess of agriculture, today she is the goddess of organic brand manufacturers and their politicians. As the mother goddess, she represents the Catholic Mary, not to be confused with the mother of Jesus.
Genesis 19:15 states: On two witnesses' testimony or on three witnesses' testimony a thing shall be confirmed. The Lord Jesus quotes this passage in Matthew 18:16: "But if he - Demetrius - does not hear, take one or two with you, that out of the mouths of two or three witnesses every thing may be confirmed." This is exactly what John does, he testifies the truth to Demetrius, but the latter obviously does not accept the testimony. The elder adds two more witnesses, the truth and the church, the latter witness, the church as a whole, speaking with one voice. We thus have the required number of witnesses: John, the truth, and all - the congregation in its entirety, that is, all seven churches. Only Diotrephes, the deceiver, and Demetrius, the deceived, hold on to their segregation and admission practice.
The apostle Paul's formulation also emphasizes a threefold testimony, for he tells the Corinthians, "This third time I come to you: out of two or three witnesses' mouths every thing is confirmed." Prophetically, Paul's phrase from 2 Corinthians 13:1 points to the third and final round. In each round Paul's writings testify to the truth.We recall, the 2nd Corinthians is assigned to Pergamos and because Pergamos is on all three rounds, the sentence, "This third time I come to you," 'and that is on the day of the great feast of atonement to Pergamos,' applies especially to her. The sentence must necessarily be understood prophetically, because Paul's words are first of all the words of our Lord Jesus, are they not? Is not the New Testament his word? Therefore: To the great day of atonement the Lord comes and woe to those from the synagogue of Satan.
In the First Epistle to Timothy, chapter 5:19, Paul writes to Timothy, "Against an elder - like John - do not accept a complaint, except with two or three witnesses. (This letter is also assigned to Pergamos.) Would a complaint by Diotrephes against the elder John have been accepted? And if so, would two or three witnesses have been found? And thinking one step further, would the complaint also be successful? Addressed to Pergamos, the Lord, who has the sharp and double-edged sword, says that with razor-sharp precision he cuts off and removes the liars, deceivers and slanderers of the synagogue of Satan. The case is dismissed. The plaintiffs, however, who were convicted of lying, will bear their guilt and pay for it themselves.
It might be interesting to note what the apostle Paul writes to Timothy in the following verse: "Let those who sin be convicted in the sight of all, that the rest also may have fear." Even if Diotrephes were to complain, Timothy must not be afraid to stand up publicly against those who oppose the truth, because the realization or non-realization of the truth ultimately determines life and death, and we are talking here about eternal life and eternal death.
Let's listen to how Paul thickly underlines his strong words, "I earnestly testify before God and Christ Jesus and the angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing according to favor." Strong words to Timothy, who is both a sensitive and timid worker. But because he loves God, he will obey the orders, thereby many a false witness could still revoke his lies at the last second. It is also therefore important for Timothy not to deviate from the order, because otherwise he himself will be called to account, not for nothing did Paul give his earnest testimony to Timothy before God, before Christ Jesus and the angels. With the invocation of the highest judicial powers, the apostle throws everything into the balance and this is also necessary, because the doctrine of segregation and the associated practice of admission in the exclusive brotherhoods belongs to the most sophisticated and perfidious lies from the synagogue of Satan, department of Freemasons. May Paul's strong words to Timothy also be heard by the Brethren.
Berlin, June 11, 2023
© Copyright H. Randy Rohrer