3 John 9-10
I wrote unto the church: but Diotrophes, who
loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore,
if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us
with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself
receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them
out of the church.
There is much that we do not know about Diotrophes.
There is enough said about Him for us to learn some things to avoid. It
is highly improbable that Diotrophes was opposing and casting some out
of the church because of error. He may have made himself believe that this
was true, but this evidently was not the case as John would have joined
with him in opposing error.
The Desire for Recognition
Just what it was that Diotrophes was offended
about, we are not told, but it is not difficult to offend a man who has
an undue sense of his own importance. The person that is in love with himself
is always easily offended. The desire for recognition that is not deserved
is always a dangerous thing. Some of the apostles were at one time affected
by this same spirit. They were wanting to be first, have the preeminence,
but Christ showed them that service when given wholeheartedly and without
desire for recognition, will bring exaltation.
Creates Competition Instead of Cooperation
The desire for preeminence creates competition
rather than cooperation. Members of the body of Christ are not in competition
with one another, but are to function together as the members of the human
body. The church does not grow and prosper by competition, but by working
This principle is true not only of members of
the local church, but also of congregations. In all too many instances
where there are several congregations in a community, they act as if they
are in competition with one another. It is possible for a congregation
to have the spirit of Diotrophes. The church grows in the community where
congregations work together and not against one another.
The spirit of Diotrophes will cause one to use
some "trumped up" charge against another. It is evident that Diotrophes
was doing this, for how could he have succeeded in "casting some out of
the church" unless he was able to convince others to go along with him.
Too often personal differences -- matters of opinion -- are used as a smoke
screen to create factions. The spirit of Diotrophes makes a person color-blind
so he cannot distinguish between his opinion and matters of faith. A person
that is in love with himself thinks his word, opinion is law. This is the
ultimate end to which one comes that seeks preeminence. Christ is to have
preeminence and His word is our law. But if some man seeks preeminence,
he usurps the authority that belongs to Christ and the result is that he
feels that his word is bound on everyone.
Better to Rule in A Small Church Than Serve
in A large One
The motto of Diotrophes is "it is better to reign
in a small church than to serve in a large one. When matters of faith are
involved, it is better to reduce the size of the congregation and have
it scriptural than to have the "biggest church in town" that is unscriptural.
This was not the case with Diotrophes. It was the matter of controlling
the church that reduced its size as far as Diotrophes was concerned. This
is what always happens where a Diotrophes is found. The church shrinks
instead of growing.
Power Not Usefulness
The spirit of Diotrophes causes one to seek power,
not usefulness. The supreme desire of Diotrophes was to stand first, not
do the most. This is a false aim and can only lead to ruin. The church
at Corinth was cursed by this attitude and Paul said, "Seek that you may
EXCEL TO THE EDIFYING OF THE CHURCH." The spirit of a Christian is to build
up the church, not himself. We need more of this seeking rather than the
seeking for preeminence.
Will Abuse Power
The spirit of Diotrophes, with its lust for power,
is sure to abuse any power one may have This very desire for power is evidence
of a lack of any power given to him. Diotrophes' casting people out of
the church was an abuse of power. The desire to serve is the only safeguard
against the abuse of power.
Wanted His Way Not The Best Way
Diotrophes wanted his own way, not the best way,
not the way that would be beneficial to others. If he could not have his
way by fair means, he would attempt to get his way by foul means. The most
prevalent way of "foul means" is "prating against us with malicious words."
Let us follow Demetrius and Gaius rather than
1. Franklin Camp, Old Truths In New Robes, Vol.
II. Roberts & Sons, Birmingham, AL, Pg. 19-21 (This entire article
was written by Franklin Camp.)