The Second Sunday of the Season of Advent  —  December 06, 2020

Sarah’s Faithful Waiting for her son and her Savior

         Whenever we think about the anticipation of the Old Testament believers regarding the coming Messiah, we often do so with about as much interest as we might have watching a replay of our favorite football team’s latest defeat….in other words, not much interest.   We already know who the Promised Messiah is, and so there isn’t any mystery or suspense about the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies regarding the coming Messiah.

         Certainly you and I fail to appreciate what it must have been like to be one of those Old Testament believers who looked forward to the arrival of the Messiah.   For example, how every pregnant Israelite woman might wonder whether or not the child in her womb was a boy, and if so, whether he might be the Promised Savior.  

         While we read in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke the accounts of the Savior’s birth, we 21st century Christians cannot begin to grasp the feelings of anticipation experienced by those godly individuals who were yearning for the Messiah’s arrival.  During certain times in Israel’s history, the anticipation of Messiah’s coming was great, while at other times the sense of expectancy waned.    As the Old Testament record progressed, more and more details were provided until, by the close of the Old Testament era, a great deal was known about God’s Messiah Who was to come.    The inspired New Testament writers made it a point to inform us of many of the ways in which our Lord’s person and birth fulfilled these prophecies, thereby providing us with the assurance that the Christ in Whom we put our faith is truly the world’s (and our own) Savior from sin.

         Of course, during this Advent season 2020 you and I aren’t going to be able to study all of those Old Testament predictions about the coming of Messiah.    However, we do hope to gain an appreciation for what some of those Old Testament believers – in particular, four faithful women – who each eagerly anticipated the Messiah’s arrival, so that the stories of their faith might enhance our celebration of Christ’s birth this year.  Consequently, as we did last week with the story of Eve’s waiting for the Messiah, today we’re going to be considering Sarah’s anticipation of the Savior.   And in the next two weeks, we’ll study the stories of Elizabeth (Zechariah’s wife) and Mary, the mother of Christ.

         In Genesis 1 and 2, we have the record of God creating the universe and everything in it, including our first parents, Eve and Adam, as the crown jewels of His creation.   Had Adam and Eve obeyed God in the one prohibition God gave them (not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, 2:16-17), they would have lived eternally in fellowship with God in the Garden of Eden.   However, they succumbed to Satan’s temptation, and their disobedience had devastating implications for them, their descendants (us, included) and the entire creation.

         Last week in our worship service, we were able to examine the sad story of Adam and Eve’s fall into sin found in Genesis chapter 3.  There God pronounced a curse on each of the three parties involved in the fall: Satan, Adam and Eve.   At the same time, He also presented Adam and Eve with His promise of a coming Messiah, Who would destroy Satan’s power and redeem fallen humanity.   Among the curses God pronounced was the pain that would come to mothers as they gave birth to children, but associated with childbirth was the promise that one of Eve’s descendants (the Seed) would be the One Who would defeat the Devil.  

         When their first child was born, Adam and Eve must have been filled with great joy simply to hold Cain in their arms and hearts.   But there was more to his birth for them; Eve’s expectation was that her firstborn was the Savior God has promised them on the day of the Fall.   Eve expressed her faith this way: “I have gotten a man, the LORD” (Genesis 4:1).   Regrettably Cain, subsequently the first murder, was absolutely not the Promised Savior.

         In the 12th chapter of Genesis, God called Abram to follow Him in faith.  Abram did.  And just as God promised to deliver sinful humanity through the seed of Eve in Genesis chapter 3, He now promised to deliver all the nations on earth through the Seed of one man:   Abram/Abraham:  “all the families of the earth will be blessed in you” (Genesis 12:3).

         However, Abraham and Sarah getting older day by day.  In addition, over their many years of married life they had been unable to have a child of their own, no matter how hard they had tried or prayed.  Time seemed to be running out….and there was absolutely nothing they could do about it except wait and trust that God knew what He was promising and doing.   After twenty four years of waiting for God to keep His promise of giving them a son through whom all of the Lord’s other promises to them would be fulfilled, they still had no child of their own.        Nevertheless, both Sarah and Abraham continued to hold in their hearts the Messianic expectation God had given them.   Finally, after twenty five years of faithfully waiting, that hope would be fulfilled.   Abraham and Sarah would both laugh with joy (and surprise) that they were about to become parents, but it happened.   Isaac (meaning “he laughs”) was born…..and God’s promise to send His Savior for the nations (us, included) moved forward.


This morning’s Scripture lessons

         Following the “penitential” character of this Advent season, today’s Psalm of the Day is one of the seven so-called “penitential psalms” (Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143).   In the 32nd Psalm David especially rejoices in the freedom from guilt that God has given him through the forgiveness of his sins, but he also recounts the spiritual misery he endured when he, at first, tried to ignore and hide his sin – instead of repent of it in word, heart, and action.  

         In this morning’s Old Testament Lesson/Sermon Text God restates His earlier promise to a childless Abraham to develop His descendants into a great nation and to bring the Messiah into the world through his family line.   It took faith for Abraham and Sarah to accept this and wait for God to act.  In spite of some doubts on their part, Abraham and Sarah did trust and wait on God to act, and their faith in Him was not disappointed.   In time a son, Isaac, was born to them through which God’s promises were fulfilled.   Today we’ll focus on Sarah’s faith in our sermon.

         In our Epistle Lesson Paul encourages us to trust in God for our justification, just as Abraham believed God’s promise that he would have a son – even though he was old and Sarah was barren.   Abraham was not disappointed in his faith, and we will not be disappointed either.

         Today’s Gospel Lesson is Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus.   Please not the many prominent names in this list – from Israel’s kings to the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).  This listing  of ancestors is actually the family line of Joseph, who embraced Jesus as his legal step-son.

         Finally, this morning’s Children’s Lesson will use a familiar Psalm (Psalm 130) to encourage us to wait for the Lord to keep His promises to us, from taking care of us in life, to taking us to heaven through faith in Jesus.



Scripture quotations in this worship flyer, unless otherwise noted,  are taken from the EVANGELICAL HERITAGE VERSION of the Bible.  Copyright 2019  by the Warburg Project.   All rights reserved.



Prayer in Preparation for Worship:  Almighty God, my Creator, Redeemer, and  Sanctifier, please bless this time that I spend in Your house today.  Enable my faith in You to increase as I meditate upon Your Word.  Prepare me for greater works of service to You in Your Kingdom.   And motivate me to give myself, out of love for You, more willingly and generously to Your work.   Bless the Pastor and he brings Your Word to me today.  Bless also my fellow worshipers that their souls might be enriched this morning through the ministry of the Word.   And finally, please allow all of us, assembled here, to rejoice in and enjoy the Christian fellowship that we are a part of today.   All this I ask, in Jesus’ name.   Amen.



Silent Prayer before worship

Pre-service music                                                                                                   


We Praise Our God


The Greeting and Introduction to Worship


At the Pastor’s invitation the Congregation will rise for the invocation


The Invocation


Pastor        We begin this service in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.    Amen.



The Psalm for Today                                                                              Psalm 32


How blessed is the person   whose rebellion is forgiven,   +     whose sin is covered.   +   How blessed is the person  whose guilt the Lord does not charge against him, +      in whose spirit there is no deceit.


3 When I kept silent,   +   my bones wasted away as I groaned all day long.   +   For day and night Your hand was heavy on me.    +    My moisture was dried up by the droughts of summer.   + I acknowledged my sin to You,   +  and I did not cover up my guilt.   +  I said, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord,”   +  and You forgave the guilt of my sin.


Because of this, let everyone who receives favor pray to You   +       at a time when You may be found.   +  Surely when the mighty waters overflow,   +    they will not reach him.    +     You are my hiding place.   +  You will protect me from distress.   +    You will surround me with shouts of deliverance.


I will make you wise.   +    I will instruct you in the way that you should go.   +  I will guide you, keeping My eye on you.   +   Do not be like a horse or a mule, which has no understanding.   +  Its mouth must be controlled by a bit and bridle, +  or else it will not come to you.   +  Many are the sorrows of the wicked,   +   but mercy will surround those who trust in the Lord.   +    Rejoice in the Lord and celebrate, all you righteous,   +  and shout joyfully, all you upright in heart.


after which the Congregation will be seated


The Opening Hymn                                      Hymn 12  “Hark, the Glad Sound”


1 Hark the glad sound! The Savior comes,   The Savior promised long;

Let ev’ry heart prepare a throne   And ev’ry voice a song.


2 He comes the captives to release,   In Satan’s prison held.

The gates of brass before Him burst;   The iron fetters yield.


3 He comes the broken heart to bind,   The bleeding soul to cure,

And with the treasures of his grace   To enrich the humble poor.


4 Our glad hosannas, Prince of Peace,   Your welcome shall proclaim,

And heav’n’s eternal arches ring  With Your beloved name.   Amen


After which the Congregation will rise as


We Make Confession of Our Sins To God


Pastor        Beloved in the Lord!  Let us draw near with a true heart and confess our sins to God our Father, asking Him, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, to grant us the forgiveness of all our sins.  Our help is in the name of the Lord.


         Congregation    (Sung)   Who made heaven and earth.


Pastor        I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord.


         Congregation (Sung)   And You forgave the iniquity of  my sin.



Congregation     O Almighty God, merciful Father, I a poor miserable sinner confess unto You all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended You and justly deserved Your temporal and eternal punishment.  But I am heartily sorry for them, and sincerely repent of them, and I pray You in Your boundless mercy, and for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of Your  beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor sinful being.


Pastor        Upon this, your confession, I, by virtue of my office as a called and ordained servant of the Word, announce the grace of God unto you all, and in the place of and according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.



We Respond To God’s Forgiveness


(Sung)    Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.   World without end.   Amen.



Pastor –              “Behold, people of God!  Your King comes to you; 


Congregation –  He is just and brings salvation!


Pastor –              “Rejoice people of God!   Your Lord Jesus Christ has appeared and fulfilled God’s promises of old for your comfort and salvation.”


Congregation – Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.   +   Let us bow in humility before Christ, and give Him the praise that our Savior deserves.


ALL:           (join in singing “Lift Up Your Heads, You Mighty Gates”


1 Lift up your heads, you mighty gates!         Behold, the King of glory waits.

The King of kings is drawing near;   The Savior of the world is here.

Life and salvation He will bring;   Therefore rejoice and gladly sing.

To God the Father raise   Your joyful songs of praise.


2 The King is born in poverty,    His chariot is humility,

His kingly crown is holiness,   His scepter, pity in distress.

The end of all our woe He brings;   Therefore the earth is glad and sings.

To Christ the Savior raise   Your grateful hymns of praise.


3  Redeemer, come!   I open wide   My heart to You;   here, Lord, abide!

Let me Your inner presence feel,   Your grace and love in me reveal;

Your Holy Spirit guide us on   Until our glorious goal is won.

Eternal praise and fame    We offer to Your name.     Amen.


The Prayer For The Second Sunday in Advent


O Almighty God, Father in heaven  +  mercifully hear the prayers of Your people,   +   that as we rejoice in the celebration  +   of Your only-begotten Son’s first advent   +    to dwell among us and to give His life for us,  +   so may we also daily repent of our sins, +   recommit ourselves to faithfully serving and honoring You through our Christian lives,   +   and eagerly look forward to receiving Your Son without fear   +   when He comes in all His glory   +   to redeem His Church and to judge our world.   +  All this we ask   +   in the name of Jesus Christ,   +  Your Son our Lord   +   Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit   +   One God,  forever and ever.   +   Amen. 


after which the Congregation will be seated



We Hear God’s Word


The Old Testament Lesson                                                Genesis 17:1-9, 15-19


When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty. Walk before Me and be blameless. 2 I will make My covenant between Me and you, and I will make your descendants very numerous.” 


3 Abram fell on his face. God spoke with him. He said, 4 “As for Me, this is My covenant with you. You will be the father of many nations. 5 Your name will not be Abram anymore, but your name will be Abraham,  for I have made you the father of a large group of nations. 6 I will make you extremely fruitful, and I will produce nations from you. Kings will come out of you. 7 I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you as an everlasting covenant throughout their generations. I will be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 I will give the land where you are living as an alien, all the land of Canaan, to you and to your descendants after you as a permanent possession. I will be their God.”


…….15 God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai anymore, but her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and even give you a son by her. Yes, I will bless her, and she will be a mother of nations. Kings of many peoples will come from her.”    17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to someone who is one hundred years old? Will Sarah, who is ninety years old, give birth?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh, let Ishmael live in your presence!”    19 But God said, “No, Sarah, your wife, will bear a son for you. You shall name him Isaac.    I will establish My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.



The Epistle Lesson                                                                      Romans 4:17-25


In the presence of God, Abraham believed Him Who makes the dead alive and calls non-existing things so that they exist.    18 Hoping beyond what he could expect, he believed that he would become the father of many nations, just as he was told: “This is how many your descendants will be.”    19 He did not weaken in faith, even though he considered his own body as good as dead (because he was about one hundred years old), and even though he considered Sarah’s womb to be dead. 20 He did not waver in unbelief with respect to God’s promise, but he grew strong in faith, giving glory to God 21 and being fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”  


23 Now the statement “it was credited to him” was not written for him alone, 24 but also for us to whom it would be credited, namely, to us who believe in the one who raised our Lord Jesus from the dead. 25 He was handed over to death because of our trespasses and was raised to life because of our justification.


after which, the Congregation will rise for


The Gospel Lesson                                                                      Matthew 1:1-17


A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.   2 Abraham was the father of Isaac. Isaac was the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez was the father of Hezron. Hezron was the father of Ram. 4 Ram was the father of Amminadab. Amminadab was the father of Nahshon. Nahshon was the father of Salmon. 5 Salmon was the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz was the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Obed was the father of Jesse. 6 Jesse was the father of King David.   David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. 7 Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Rehoboam was the father of Abijah. Abijah was the father of Asa. 8 Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat was the father of Joram. Joram was the father[a] of Uzziah. 9 Uzziah was the father of Jotham. Jotham was the father of Ahaz. Ahaz was the father of Hezekiah. 10 Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh. Manasseh was the father of Amon. Amon was the father of Josiah. 11 Josiah was the father of Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the Babylonian exile.   12 After the Babylonian exile, Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel. Shealtiel was the father of Zerubbabel. 13 Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud. Abiud was the father of Eliakim. Eliakim was the father of Azor. 14 Azor was the father of Zadok. Zadok was the father of Achim. Achim was the father of Eliud. 15 Eliud was the father of Eleazar. Eleazar was the father of Matthan. Matthan was the father of Jacob. 16 Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, from whom Jesus was born (Who is called Christ).    17 So altogether there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen generations from David to the Babylonian exile, and fourteen generations from the Babylonian exile to Christ.



The Nicene Creed


I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,  and of all things visible and invisible.  And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God,  Light of Light.  Very God of Very God.  Begotten, not made.  Being of one substance with the Father, By Whom all things were made;  Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven   And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary   And was made man;  And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.  He suffered and was buried;  And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures;  And ascended into heaven,  And sitteth on the right hand of the Father;   And He shall come again with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead;  Whose Kingdom shall have no end.   And I believe in the Holy Ghost,  The Lord and Giver of Life,  Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son,  Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified,  Who spake by the Prophets.  And I believe one holy Christian and Apostolic Church.  I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins,  And I look for the resurrection of the dead,  And the life of the world to come.  Amen.


after which the Congregation will be seated


The Children’s Lesson                                                            Psalm 130:5-8


5 I wait for the Lord. My soul waits,   and in His word I have put my hope.   6 My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

7 Israel, wait confidently for the Lord, because with the Lord there is mercy. With Him there is abundant redemption.


“Wait for the Lord to keep His promises to You”


The Sermon Hymn                          Hymn 23   “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”


1 Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,  And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here  Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel  Shall come to you, O Israel!


2 Oh, come, O Root of Jesse, free   Your own from Satan’s tyranny;

From depths of hell Your people save,   And bring them vict’ry o’er the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel   Shall come to you, O Israel!


3 Oh, come, O Dayspring from on high,   And cheer us by Your drawing nigh;

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,   And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel   Shall come to you, O Israel!


4 Oh, come, O Key of David, come,   And open wide our heav’nly home.

Make safe the way that leads on high,   And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel   Shall come to you, O Israel!     Amen


after which the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED


The Sermon                                                based on Genesis 17:1-9; 15-19


Sarah Waited Faithfully for her son and her Savior


after which, the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for


The Post-Sermon Blessing


Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, to Him to glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever.  Amen!


The Offertory –                                                                              Psalm 51:10-12


(Sung)    Create in me a clean heart O God

And renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from Your presence,

And take not Your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation.

And uphold me with Your free Spirit.    Amen.


We Offer Our Gifts and Prayers to the Lord


Our Offerings of Love to our Lord


Because we aren’t able to pass an offering plate today during today’s worship service, those in attendance may leave their offerings in the offering plates by the exits at the close of our service.    For those watching today’s service, we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:     

1) You can mail a check (no cash) to the church address (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can go to our website ( and use the giving option

The Prayer for this Day


P:      Heavenly Father, since You graciously chose to give us spiritual birth through the power of Your Word of truth, we pray that You would continue to send us Your Holy Spirit through the Means of Grace.


C:      Daily renew and strengthen our faith, +   that we might perform works of service to You and others here, +     until by Your grace, we live with You in everlasting glory in Paradise.


P       Lord God, as John the Baptizer boldly and powerfully made people aware of their sinfulness so that they would penitently look to the mightier One, Jesus Christ, for their salvation, grant that same spirit of courage, conviction and faithfulness to all pastors, teachers, and leaders in Your Church on earth.


C:      May we join them, through our offerings, efforts, and witnessing…..becoming Your tools through which many more may come to know of Your salvation in Christ our Lord.


P       Precious Redeemer, on the Day when You triumphantly return to judge the world, every knee will bow before Your glorious throne  in humility and reverence at the sound of Your marvelous, saving name.   


C:      Lead us during this Advent season to celebrate Your incarnation,   +    and daily to give thanks that You have taken upon Yourself our humanity, +     becoming like us in every way — yet without sin – in order that You might live righteously   +    and die sacrificially as our Substitute and Savior.


P       We give You thanks, Almighty Lord, for this nation of which You have so graciously made us citizens.   We ask that You would bless our people and our government with a way of life which pleases You and which preserves our republic.   


C:      Therefore, give wisdom to our President, Representatives in Congress, our Governor and State Legislators,   +     as well as all those persons who serve in government at our local level,   +     that they might lead our nation, state, and community wisely   +     and that all people might live in peace, prosperity, and harmony.


P       God of all power and might, defend and protect all our military personnel who put themselves in harm’s way in order to defend our liberty and freedom.


C:      Grant success to their work so that peace and stability might be established,   +   defend them from every temptation of body and soul,   +    and bring them home – whole, healthy, and soon – upon the successful completion of their work.


P:      Great Physician of body and soul, You know our weaknesses and needs. You know how we struggle with loneliness, pain and illness, longing for healing. Remember in mercy Your servants who are alone, and those who are ill, hospitalized, or recovering from surgery.   In particular,  we pray that You would bless and support our sister and brother, Bev and Darrell Anderson, who were injured in an automobile accident last Sunday, and who are being treated now at the Highlands nursing and rehabilitation center in Bella Vista.   Guard them from anything that would complicate or hinder their recovery, and allow them to return soon to their home and to us, their church family.   Please also support and comfort our sister Erica Babinec Wilitz as she and her husband, Mike, deal  with the death of their daughter Magdalena, who was born prematurely this past Wednesday, and who – after a short time here on earth – was baptized and later taken to heaven by You.  Please give Erica and Mike the assuring peace of knowing that  – even in their loss – Your will has been done, and that will is always best for Your children.


C:      According to Your will, grant each of these suffering individuals +   the physical and emotional support they need at this time,  +   and especially the strength of faith to trust You totally in the face of their physical and personal challenges.   +  And please use these troubles they have faced, O Lord,   +   to draw them even closer in faith to You.


P:      Hear us also, gracious God, as we take a few moments to individually offer You our personal petitions and praises:

Time for Silent Prayer


P:      Confident, O Lord, that You hear even before we speak, we lay before You all our prayers and requests, knowing that You will always answer in those ways which You know are best for us.   This we pray in the name and for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, and in Whose name we also join in praying:


The Lord’s Prayer      Our Father, Who art in heaven,  +   Hallowed be Thy name;   +   Thy  Kingdom come;   +   Thy will be done, on earth as it is in

 heaven;   +  Give us this day our daily bread;   +   and forgive us  our trespasses,  as we forgive those who trespass against us;   +  and lead us not into temptation;   +   but deliver us from evil;    +   for Thine is the Kingdom,  and the power,  and the glory,   forever and ever.  +   Amen.



We Celebrate the Lord’s Supper


Pastor –              The Lord be with you.


Congregation    (Sung)   And also with you.



Pastor –              Lift up your hearts.


Congregation       (Sung)    We lift them up to the Lord



Pastor –              Let us give thanks unto the Lord, our God.


Congregation     (Sung)     It is good and right so to do.


Consecration of the Elements                                                                                                                     (Pastor)


Pastor –              The peace of the Lord be with you always.


Congregation (Sung)    Amen.



The Exhortation Regarding the Lord’s Supper                                      (Pastor)


The Distribution Hymn    Hymn 312 “Lord Jesus Christ, You Have Prepared”


1 Lord Jesus Christ, You have prepared    This feast for our salvation;

It is Your body and your blood,   And at Your invitation

As weary souls, with sin oppressed,   We come to You for needed rest,

For comfort, and for pardon. 

2 Although You did to heav’n ascend,   Where angel hosts are dwelling,

And in Your presence they behold   Your glory, all excelling,

And though Your people shall not see   Your glory and Your majesty

Till dawns the judgment morning,


3 Yet, Savior, You are not confined   To any habitation,

But You are present ev’rywhere   And with Your congregation.

Firm as a rock this truth shall stand,   Unmoved by any daring hand

Or subtle craft and cunning.


4 We eat this bread and drink this cup,   Your precious Word believing

That Your true body and your blood    Our lips are here receiving.

This Word remains forever true,    And there is naught you cannot do,

For You, Lord, are almighty.


5 Though reason cannot understand,    Yet faith this truth embraces:

Your body, Lord, is ev’rywhere    At once in many places.

I leave to You how this can be;   Your Word alone suffices me;

I trust its truth unfailing.


6 Lord, I believe what You have said;    Help me when doubts assail me.

Remember that I am but dust,   And let my faith not fail me.

Your supper in this vale of tears   Refreshes me and stills my fears

And is my priceless treasure.


7 Grant that we worthily receive   Your supper, Lord, our Savior,

And, truly grieving for our sins,   May prove by our behavior

That we are thankful for Your grace   And day by day may run our race,

In holiness increasing. 


8 For Your consoling supper, Lord,   Be praised throughout all ages!

Preserve it, for in ev’ry place   The world against it rages.

Grant that this sacrament may be    A blessed comfort unto me

When living and when dying.      Amen



At the pastor’s invitation, the congregation will rise   


We Leave with the Lord’s Blessing

The Benediction


The LORD bless you and keep you.

         The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

                  The LORD look with favor upon you, and give you His peace.   Amen.


The Closing Hymn                                              “The Time Has Come, O Lord”


The time has come O Lord,   for us to leave this place.

Tend Your sheep, Good Shepherd,   and lead us in Your grace.

Wherever life may take us   as we go our separate ways,

Help us share with others   the things we’ve shared today.


May the peace of God the Father,   and the Love of Christ, His Son,

Guide us in the days ahead,   and strengthen us, each one.

May the blessings of the Spirit    fill us from within.

God bless us and return us.   to this fellowship…..Once again.

Amen.   Amen.   Amen.   Amen.   Amen.


Silent Prayer, Announcements, Post-Worship Music                                          




Last Week At Grace Lutheran                                       Worship Attendance: 63

Sunday School: 5             Sunday Bible Class: 16      Online Offerings:  $50.81

Budgetary Offerings:    $9705              Capital Improvement:   $100

Midweek Advent Worship Service: 44 (Communed: 39)           Budget Offerings: $805


The Coming Week At Grace Lutheran Church

Today                 Worship Service, with the Lord’s Supper, 9:30 a.m. 

                           Bible Class/Sunday School, 11:05 a.m.                     Confirmation Class, noon-1:15 p.m.

Dec 08 (Tues)     Tuesday Morning Bible Class, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Dec 09 (Wed)     Midweek Evening Advent Worship Service, 7 p.m. 

Dec 13 (Sun)      Worship Service, 9:30 a.m.

                           Bible Class & Sunday School, 11:05 a.m.                                   


Serving our Lord Next Week          Ushers:   Kent Mayer, Jim Winnat, John Wambold

Elders: Steve Stone, John Johnson          Altar Guild:   Tammy Schwartz, Linda Winnat


The Week’s Birthdays      

Dec 07 – Robert Bontke;        Dec 07 – Brady Hesgard;         Dec 07 – Kent Mayer

Dec 08 – Christine Quinlan         Dec 09  – Frank Giardino;            Dec 12 – Josh Nobert


Midweek Advent Worship Services Continue THIS WEDNESDAY –    We’ll meet up in our chapel to hold the second of three special midweek evening worship services this coming Wednesday, December 9th, starting at 7:00 p.m (We’ll also worship on December 16th at 7 p.m.).     The theme of this year’s services is “Isaiah’s Inspired Names For Jesus.”   The topic of Wednesday evening’s meditation, based on Isaiah 9:6b, will be “Jesus is our Mighty God.”    We hope that all of you will make the effort to be with us this Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. as we join together to better prepare ourselves spiritually for the celebration of our Savior’s birth.    


Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Worship Services     Please join us for worship on Christmas Eve (Thursday) at 7:00 p.m. as we close our out Advent preparations through a special service called “The Names of the Christ Child.”   The next morning, (Friday, December 25th), we’ll return at 9:30 a.m. for the festival celebration of Christ’s nativity.  This service will include the singing of some very traditional and meaning-filled Christmas hymns.   We’re looking forward to joining with you in this special observance of Jesus’ birth. – And don’t forget to invite  your family and friends who don’t have a church home of their own to come and celebrate our Savior’s birth with us!


Bible Classes This Week      This morning, we’ll conclude a study of the story of one of the Bible’s more unwilling servants of the Lord…..yet one who was amazingly successful in his service:   Jonah.   Class starts approximately 15 minutes after our service concludes.   In our Tuesday morning Bible Class (10:30 to 11:30;   in-person and over-the-phone) we’ll continue working through the book of 2 Samuel.   This Tuesday we’ll study chapters 20-21….the  first civil war between Judah and Israel (Sheba’s rebellion);   and the story of a three year famine that afflicted Israel.  


DEVOTIONAL BOOKS FOR YOU,   In the entry are two devotional books:   Meditations (our church’s daily devotion book);  and “The Jesse Tree,” a set of Advent devotions, prepared by our Martin Luther College faculty (where Kelvin Johannes goes).   Please take home your copy today.


Your Photographs are  needed… for a new church “Picture Display.”   We’d need a a CURRENT photo of everyone in our church.   Some of you have already had your picture taken.  If you haven’t, please let us take your phot before you leave today, or next week.   Fred Cusanelli will be at the main exit after worship to take your photos.

Bible Study Winter 2020

Grace Lutheran Church, Lowell, AR

The Three Letters of John


I John

The Christian’s Confident Assurance……..

We Have the Truth, and We Truly Are God’s Children Through Faith in Christ


  1. Author and Date


The writer is not directly identified by name in the text, but there has never been any question regarding who was the author of I John.  Both from external affirmations of very prominent early Church “Fathers” (such as Irenaeus [140-203]; Clement of Alexander [150-215]; Tertullian [135-222]; and Origin [185-235]), as well as from the internal evidence in this epistle, we can be certain that the Apostle John wrote this letter which bears his name.  Even the most casual of readers cannot fail to recognize the profound similarities in writing style, vocabulary, and choice of expressions between the Gospel of John and the first Epistle of John.  In addition there are a number of “eyewitness” references regarding the person and work of Christ (1:2; 4:14), an authoritative tone (consistent with the office of an Apostle), and indications that the author was an aged man (“my little children”) which all support the church’s traditional position that John the Apostle wrote this epistle.


It’s difficult to determine exactly when I John and its sister epistles were written.  In all probability, they were penned after 85 A.D. (the approximate date of the writing of the Gospel of John) and before 95 A.D.



  1. The Recipients


Unlike most epistles, I John does not address a specific congregation or group of people.  It seems quite likely on the basis of the foregoing that I John was a “circular” letter, intended to be read in a number of congregations.   From early church history evidence that we possess, we know that John resided in the city of Ephesus from @ 70 to 100 A.D.   We also know that he was directed to write what we now know as the book of Revelation for seven Asia Minor churches that surrounded the city of Ephesus.  In all likelihood, then, this circular letter also was written for the members of those congregations surrounding the “mother church” of Ephesus.   Incidentally, on the basis of internal evidence (see  2:13, 14, 20, 21) we can confidently say that I John was addressed to experienced Christians (not novices) who had been well instructed in the faith.



III.   Observations by Luther on I John


“….the first epistle of John is a genuine apostolic epistle and ought to follow right after his gospel.  For as in the gospel he promulgates faith, so here he opposes those who boast of faith without works.  He teaches in many different ways that works are not absent where faith is….He does this, however, not by harping on the law, as the epistle of James does, but by stimulating us to love even as God has loved us…..He also writes vigorously here against the Cerinthians, against he spirit of Antichrist, which was beginning even then to deny that Christ has come in the flesh…..Thus the epistle…keeps us in the true middle way, that we become righteous and free from sin through faith;  and then, when we are righteous, that we practice good works and love for God’s sake, freely and without seeking anything else.”  LW 35:393).



  1. A Brief Outline


  1. The great blessing extended to us by the incarnation and death of Christ (chapter 1)
  2. How we should show our gratitude to Christ for His blessing (chapters 2 and 3)
  3. A warning not to be turned from this gratitude by false teachers (chapters 4 and 5)



  1. The Gnostic/Cerinthian Heresy in John’s Time


There were a variety of heresies that afflicted the Christian Church during its first centuries.  Those heresies included:  Docetism, Arianism, Cerinthianism/Gnosticism, Manichaeism, Apollinariasm, Pelagianism, Nestorianism, and monophysitism.   The heresy with which John contended was an “embryonic” from of Gnosticism (which would become fully developed over the @ next 150 years).   This type of gnosticism was essentially “dualism,”  where anything spiritual was regarded as good and anything material was regarded as evil.  As a result, the gnostics of John’s time taught:


            1)         The human body is evil;  and that they body, therefore, can be treated severely (e.g. asceticism).

            2)         Salvation is release from ones physical body, and is achieved through attaining a special “gnosis” (knowledge)

3)         That Christ was not a true, physical human.  The Gnostics maintained either that He merely  “seemed” to be human, but wasn’t (Docetism);  or that the real Christ “inhabited” the body of the man Jesus immediately after His baptism and left Him just before His death on the cross (Cerinthianism).

            4)         Amazingly, they also allowed for a very libertine (sexually immoral) lifestyle, reasoning that the physical body was evil (as opposed to evil being the breaking the Ten Commandments), and so was beyond redemption;  and that there were no moral or eternal consequences for breaking God’s Law.


Specific to John’s writing was the fact that some of the more talented, intellectual and influential members of the congregations to which the Apostle was writing had withdrawn from the fellowship in order to form another/different fellowship of their own (2:19).   They claimed that they had improved upon what they had previously been taught by John and others.     Naturally, confusion abounded.   Who was right?   To what truths/teachings should they hold fast?     How could anyone truly know who was, and who was not a child of God?



  1. The Purpose of I John



…in a phrase, was “to combat the gnostic/Cerinthian heresy.”    John states his purpose in two ways:    A)    to expose false teachers (2:26), highlighting their immorality (3:8-10);  and, conversely,   B)    to give believers the assurance of salvation through faith in the Gospel (5;13), especially focusing on the incarnation of Christ for them (1:3).


John’s aims were to alternately prove that Christ is God; and then to move his readers to Christian action as their grateful response (and glowing evidence) to their being saved.


We need to recognize that the spiritual problems and challenges that John and his readers faced in the late 1st century are our issues too – and so the principals and objectives of faith which the Apostle lays out are not at all irrelevant to us, but are actually very contemporary and applicable to our lives of faith.




  • The Main Emphases of this Epistle



To the question, “How can a person know whether he/she has the truth, or is just merely being presumptuous?”  John offers us three “tests.”  They are:


            Truth – (The Doctrinal Test)  that God has given us the sure knowledge of Himself in Christ

                        (Also, bear in mind that “truth” without “love” is dead orthodoxy);


Righteousness/Obedience – (The Moral Test) Through the Gospel He has given us the motivation to obey His commandments (Also, remember that “righteousness” without “truth”/doctrine results in legalism); and


Love – (The Social Test)   He has given us the basis for a new relationship with Him and with  others  (Also, we need to realize that “love” without “righteousness” is nothing more than immorality.)



VIII.  Notes on Key Verses


            1:1       “which we have seen with our eyes, which we have observed, and our hands have touched regarding the Word of life” – John affirms his right to speak as an eyewitness of the ministry of the “Word of Life.”


Incidentally, let’s take notice of the similarity between these opening verses of I John and the opening verses of the Gospel of John.        


            1:3       John’s purpose:  “so that you also may have fellowship with us.”     This implies that there were divisions in the church(es) to which John wrote…division developed by certain teachers – who, in spite of their claims to be orthodox are actually outside the true fellowship of believers.    These individuals had actually denied the truth about Christ and so – whether they realized it or not – they were attempting to deprive their unwitting hearers of continuing fellowship with Christ.


In general, from your personal experiences what are some of the ways through which contemporary false teachers – notably those “inside” the visible church – try to compromise and corrupt true Christian “fellowship” today?


            1:1-4    Why does John in these verses make such a point of emphasizing the way in which He “experienced”/encountered the Word?


            1:5       “heard from Him and proclaim to you” – John’s Gospel was not “here-say.”


“God is light.  In Him there is no darkness at all” – an interesting way of expressing God’s righteousness and holiness.


            1:6       “But still walk in the darkness” – i.e., living impenitently in our sins…all the while claiming a faith-relationship with Christ.


            1:7       “the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin” – ours is a bloody religion, built upon the blood of our sin-substitute, Jesus Christ.   Succinctly, John describes the atoning justifying work of Christ for us.


Why did God demand “blood” (offered/displayed in various ways in connection with the OT ceremonial/worship laws) as the way of making payment for sin?


            1:8       How can any human being actually and “honestly” claim to be without sin?


            1:9       What hope does John offer to those who have failed to live as God expects His children to live?


            1:10     “we make Him out to be a liar”   ….How?


                        “and His word is not in us” – Isn’t that an awfully strong and judgmental statement to make?


                        Look at the following verses (1:6, 8, & 10;   2:4, 6, & 9)  and answer these questions:    What were the false teachers evidently saying about……God?     Sin?    Forgiveness?    Christian living?       In contrast, what truths does John stress about each of those subjects?


            2:1       “so that you will not sin” …..  Seriously, is this possible?   Isn’t “the bar” being set too high here?    What hope does John give when people to slip and fall into sin?


                        “We have an Advocate before the Father” – part of Jesus’ office as High Priest:  He is our mediator.   (I Timothy 2:5).    By the way, which are the other two “offices”/roles of Christ our Redeemer?


            2:2       “Atoning Sacrifice”  – (see Leviticus 16:6-22, 34)


                        What modern-day example(s) might you offer – as a way of better explaining to someone unfamiliar with the OT rituals — to describe what John is talking about in connection with “the atoning sacrifice”? 


“He is the Atoning Sacrifice…for the whole world” – He died for all;  not just for believers!  Since this is true, then, what some church bodies teach as the “limited atonement” (that Jesus died only for those who would believe in Him) cannot be correct.   Can you identify a few of those church bodies which teach that Christ’s atoning work was/is limited only to those who do, or will believe?     


What are some of the theological problems that might arise out of this false teaching of a “limited atonement”?


            2:4       “The one who says ‘I know Him,’ but does not keep His commands is a liar…”    This is an important passage to remember when matters pertaining to “Church Discipline” develop in the midst of a Christian congregation.


                        The “Know” in verse 3 is contrasted with the “know” in verse 4;  the latter is “intellectual”/head knowledge, while the former is an “intimate, spiritual” knowledge.


            2:6       What does this really mean for me and my spiritual life that I “walk as Jesus did?”


            2:7-8    What is the “old command” about which John writes in this verse?  (See John 15:12, 17;   Leviticus 19:18;    Deuteronomy 6:5)   


Likewise, what’s the “new command” that the Apostle mentions here?


            2:9       What constitutes “hate”?


            2:10     “there is nothing in him to make him stumble”   What’s John saying here?


            2:11     “darkness has blinded” – this is a man’s hardening of his heart toward God


Regarding the deadly sin of “hardening” ones heart toward God……..see Mark 3:28,29;    Acts 7:51-53;    Matthew 23:37;   Exodus 8:15, 19, 32   plus Exodus 9:7, 35 – also Exodus 9:12;  Exodus 10:1, 20, 27;   and Exodus 11:10


            2:12-14            ….did you notice the repetitious pattern here:   Children, Fathers, Young Men, Children, Fathers, Young Men?     What’s the significance of this list and the information provided about the children, fathers and young men?


            1:5-2:14           In light of what’s been said in this section, how would you respond to the person who says the following:   “It doesn’t really matter how I live.   As long as I’m a Christian God will forgive me anyway”?


Where today (in our/your world) do you see some of the false claims/teachings and attitudes that John has challenged (and corrected) in this opening section of his epistle?


            2:15     “do not love the world or anything in the world” … more than God;  it’s alright to love family and friends, pets and even material possessions unless and until those “worldly” objects/people replace the number one spot in the believer’s life which belongs only to the Lord.

                        Where are some of the places and ways in you life where love for the world competes in your life with love for the Lord?


            2:16     “Everything in the world” – what does John mean by this term?


2:17     “the one who does the will of God remains forever” – does this teach that “works righteousness” is actually the way for us to secure a place in heaven?


            2:18     What does John mean by the words – “last hour”?


                        How would you recognize an antichrist if you met one?  (see also I John 4:1-3)


                        “many antichrists” – anyone who opposes Christ is an “antichrist”


                        “THE Antichrist” – who/what is this?


            2:19     “They went out from us” – enemies of the Church who, although the were members of the visible congregation, really didn’t belong to the true/invisible Church.


            2:20     “an anointing from the Holy One” – (see John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13)   How is this related to knowing the truth?


            2:23     No one who denies the Son has the Father – in John’s time it was the Gnostics who denied the truth about Christ.   Two hundred plus years later it was the Arians.  In our time it is the “Theological Liberals/Higher Critics” and the “Post-Modernists.”   The point is that regardless of the era in history, the lie lives on….through Satan’s efforts to undermine the Gospel.


            2:26     Here is one of the purposes of I John:  to warn the faithful about false teachers.


            2:27     You don’t need anyone to teach you “anything new” – this was a recurring problem in the Church in its infancy….the false teacher’s continuing claim that the basic Gospel (the Good News about Christ living perfectly, dying sacrificially and rising glorious for us and our salvation) wasn’t the whole truth;  that there was more that one had to know and become in order to actually be certain of his/her eternal salvation.     Where can you see that kind of “add on” attitude in the “Christian church” today?


            3:1       “The Children of God”


            3:2       “what we will be has not yet been revealed”


            3:3       “Everyone….purifies himself” – Isn’t this the Holy Spirit’s work?


            3:4       “Sin is lawlessness” – a good, succinct definition.


            3:6       “keeps on sinning”  – without genuine repentance.   What’s the difference between being “sorry” for a sin and being “contrite/repentant” over a sin?

            3:8       “to destroy the works of the devil” – the destruction of our souls.


            3:9-10  “Nobody has been born of God continues to sin” …..  “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God” …..Since you and I sin and don’t always do what is right, do these two verses say that we aren’t God’s children?


            3:11     Why is it so hard for us — even as Christians — to “love one another?”


            3:13     What are some of the manifestations of the world’s hatred toward the Church that you have witnessed or experienced?


            3:16     This is “agape” love (giving sacrificially without asking for anything in return).  It’s the love that God enjoins us to demonstrate for each other, and which husbands are to demonstrate toward their wives (Ephesians 5:25).


            3:17-18            ….an encouragement to actually be benevolent by physically giving and helping, not just by offering our words of support.


            3:19-20            When would your heart condemn you?  Where do you find comfort when your conscience afflicts you?


            3:22     “whatever we ask” – really, whatever?


            3:23     This is almost a parallel to Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37-40.


            4:1       “test the spirits” – Why?  How?


                        How do people motivated by the Spirit differ from false teachers in their (the false teachers’) attitudes toward Christ?    ….and, how do they differ in their attitude toward the world?

            4:4       “the one in you is greater than the one in the world” – what a comforting statement/truth for the Christian!


            4:5-6    Note the obvious contrast that will exist between children of the world and the children of God…..we’ll talk and act differently.  At least we should….


            4:7-21              “Love” is mentioned 27 times in this section.   About what kind of “love” is this section talking?


            4:9       Jesus is the manifestation of God’s love among us.  See also Hebrews 1:1-3.  We know that God and God’s love are like by virtue of Jesus having assumed our humanity and living among us for a time.


            4:10     God loved us…even when we were His enemies.


            4:11     Our motivation for loving one another…..not because someone is likeable, or nice, or sorry, but because God loves us….how can we not love one another?

            4:12     “No one has ever seen God”  – really?


            4:17     How can love be “brought to its goal in us”?


            4:18     “there is no fear” – fear of divine judgment.


            5:3       “and his commands are not burdensome” – this is a theme repeated often in Psalm 119.  God’s Law is the believer’s delight!  ….


            5:4       “everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world” …. both in the sense of the initial victory of turning from unbelief to faith, and in the continuing, day-by-day overcoming of sin (even if it isn’t flawless) of the Christian who sets his/her heart — with the Holy Spirit’s help — on doing the will of God.


            5:6       “water” and “blood” – baptism and the cross.


            5:7       “there are three that testify” – the OT law required two or three witnesses to verify truth (Dt 17:6;  19:5)


            5:11-12            Without proper faith in Christ there is no hope of eternal life, regardless of a person’s religious sincerity and devotion.


            5:13     The second stated purpose for this letter.


            5:1-4 & 10-13 Using these verses, how would you explain to someone what being a Christian is all about?


                                    Using the “love test” (from verse 1;  to love God is to show love to His children), how are you doing at loving God?


            5:13-15            How does the assurance of eternal life (v. 13) relate to our confidence in prayer?


            5:14     Prayer, according to God’s will, works.   But not when it’s “My will be done.”  This verse goes a long way in explaining why many people don’t get what they pray for….


            5:16     The sin that leads to death – Matthew 12;31,32.  – Impenitence.


            5:18-20            The letter ends with three strong “we know” statements


                        What has convinced you that true life is found in Jesus?


                        What “idols” of the world today tempt you away from steadfastly following Jesus?


            5:18     “anyone who has been born of God” – Jesus Christ.


            5:20     “He is the true God” – a description of Christ, and an affirmation of His deity.



II John & III John


  1. Luther on II & III John


“The other two epistles of John are not doctrinal epistles, but examples of love and of faith. They too have a true apostolic spirit.”           (LW 35:393)



  1. The Occasion/Reason for II John and III John


In especially the first two centuries of the Christian Church the Gospel was spread primarily by traveling missionaries.  They would often receive bed and board in the homes of believers in the communities which they served.  John’s words here are to encourage the believers to be discerning in welcoming teachers into their homes and church;  after all, not everyone was a faithful teacher of the Gospel, and those who weren’t, were not to be welcomed.   In III John he commends Gaius for his faithfulness and hospitality.  He also rebukes Diotrephes, for his rudeness and dictatorial behavior both in dealing with faithful traveling teachers and with his brothers in the church.



III.   Date and Recipients


Certainly these two epistles were written after I John, but as far as exactly when (sometime between 85 and 95) and to whom II John was written (whether to a congregation or an individual), we don’t know.  III John was addressed to Gaius and Diotrephes.




  1. The Text of II John



            II:1      “The Elder” – John


“The chosen lady and her children” – possibly a woman and her family;  more likely a congregation and its members.


“Truth” – the term is used here in a comprehensive sense, referring to all that Jesus is, does, and represents for mankind;   as a result, truth is not only known, but followed/practiced (see verse 4) by the Christian.


            II:7      the core of the gnostic heresy:  that God, in Christ, did not become flesh/fully human.


                        “antichrist” – anyone who denies Christ as Savior and God.   (for specific Scripture relating to THE Antichrist (the Papacy), see II Thessalonians 2:3-12;  I John 2:18;  Daniel 11:36-45;  and  Revelation 13:1-15;  also see the Smalcald Articles [Power and Primacy of the Pope, 39-59])

            II:8      “what you have labored for” – all the God-given energies with which they have “worked out their salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).  John is warning them not to lose sight of the goal of their faith:  eternal life in heaven….by instead being deceived by false teachers and their false gospel.


            II:9      “goes on ahead” – who thought they were advanced believers. 


                        There are many people like that today.


            II:10-11           What error would “the lady” be guilty of if she were to show hospitality to these strangers?


How then are we to handle people like the Jehovah’s Witnesses (in light of this passage, esp. v. 11)?


Have you ever been involved in an association or relationship that had to be terminated because of an overriding issue involving your faith?


            II:12    “Paper and ink” – paper in those days was made from papyrus;  the ink was a mixture of carbon, water, and oil.



  1. The Text of III John


            III:1     “Gaius” – this was a very common name in Roman times.   Although it is possible that he could be one of the Gaius’ mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament (Acts 19:29;  20:4;  Romans 16:23;  and I Corinthians 1:14) we really cannot be certain who he was.


            III:3     “when brothers came and testified” – John had received a good report about Gaius’ hospitality.   


            III:4     “my children” – possibly people for whose conversion John was humanly responsible, or believers who were under his spiritual care.   Note the fatherly affection in which John holds them.


            III:6     “send them off” – this seems to be an almost “technical” term, some type of a formal send-off for missionaries, although not as formal as the our (one-time) practice of “commissioning” of missionaries which we carry out today.   The practice in John’s day evidently involved providing material support (Acts 15:3;  Romans 15:24;  I Corinthians 16:6;  and Titus 3:13) for those missionaries.


            III:7     “the Name” – Jesus Christ, see Philippians 2:20 and John 15:21.


            III:8     Practically speaking, how do we (as a congregation) show hospitality to such men today?


How does III John deal with the “hospitality” issue differently than II John did?


            III:9     “I wrote something to the church, but…” – since a letter previously sent to the church, dominated by Diotrephes, seems not to have had the desired effect, John promises to make a personal visit to deal with Diotrephes’ malicious behavior.


“Diotrephes, who loves to be first” – a dictator, who always wanted to be in the limelight.


            III:10   “I will call attention” – those who sin publicly are to be rebuked publicly  (I Timothy 5:20;  see also Titus 3:10).


“puts out of the church” – Diotrephes was exceeding his authority, to the extent that he was arbitrarily excommunicating (invalidly) anyone who “displeased” him.


            III:11   “the one who does what is evil has not seen God” – But don’t we do evil?  


            III:12   “Demetrius” – probably the leader of a group of evangelists.


            III:13-14          The conclusion here is similar to that of II John 12-13




            III:15   “Friends” – though by no means inappropriate, this term for fellow believers is rarely used;  the term “brothers” being the commonly used designation.