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 Diotrophes

Franklin Camp

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 together. 

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. 

Smoke Screen

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 Diotrophes. 1 

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.) 


 
 

 

 

 

 

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