Diotrephes who loves Pre-eminence
3 Jn. 9 – 10
As I have written last week, this short epistle can be divided into 3 parts mentioning 3 persons. We
have talked about Gaius, now we will be talking about Diotrephes. A man who wants to be the “big
boss” in the church. The way I see it, Gaius and Diotrephes were pastors of different congregation in
the same city. Diotrephes wants the first place in position and in authority. In my honest opinion
though he was a pastor, he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. His character, traits, and actions, tells us who
he really is. No written commendation or approval was given to him, just his faults. Let’s see his errors
so we can know who really is he.
I. His faults
A. He wants to occupy the leading place or Pre-eminence.
1. He was motivated by pride in his quest for position and authority.
2. Overly ambitious and domineering, he would stop at nothing just to occupy the
first place in the church.
3. Self centered and self-seeking, he doesn’t want to serve but wants all to serve
4. Diotrephes had an authority problem. He felt he was an authority in himself;
whereas the pastor’s sole authority is the Bible.
5. Diotrephes is acting in direct disobedience to the commands of our Lord. “And
whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” (Mk. 10:44)
6. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ served in humility and obedience to His Father
(Phil. 2:8). He must be our model, and we ought to follow his example.
7. It is pride that puts ahead of Christ. Did you notice how the word pride was
spelled? At the center is the letter “I”. The letter I tells “myself first before you”.
John the Baptist says “He must increase but I must decrease”. Paul says “not I but
Christ”. How about you?
8. Remember that the cause of Satan’s downfall is pride. (Isa. 14:12-14).
Illustration 1: Diotrephes
Pastor H. A. Ironside had a man in his church who always tried to run the board meetings. If Ironside
agreed with him, all went well. But when he disagreed, he would receive a harsh letter from the man,
who sarcastically addressed him as “Dear Diotrephes.” Actually, the board member deserved the title,
not Ironside, who was known for his graciousness.
The problem of bossy church leaders was not limited to the first century. A. T. Robertson wrote a
magazine article in which he rebuked leaders who follow in the footsteps of Diotrephes. After it was
published, he received letters from at least 25 different church leaders, demanding that their
subscriptions to the magazine be cancelled. Although Robertson had never met any of them, they all
said in effect, “You have personally attacked me!”. Our Daily Bread.
Illustration 2: Pre-eminence
Scientists recently announced they had found the missing piece in a universal puzzle. The “Tau
neutrino,” a minutely small particle, was the last-theorized member of the family of particles that
make up the universe. Recent experiments reportedly proved the existence of the neutrino.
Phillip Schewe of the American Institute of Physics said the discovery was like finding the letter Z in
the alphabet of fundamental particles. He added, the study “doesn’t save lives or fill stomachs, but it
does investigate the most fundamental structures, out of which everything, including ourselves are
Jesus created the “Tau neutrino.” He holds all matter together. He is more vital to our existence than
any fundamental particle of matter. Jesus gives us life physically and spiritually, and he holds every
aspect of our lives together. Jesus is the missing piece of every life. Have you discovered Him?
Colossians 1:16-17 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible
and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were
created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. Fresh Illustrations
B. He refused to receive John
1. Diotrephes openly defied or does not acknowledge the authority John as an
2. He wants absolute control, power and authority in the church and he doesn’t
want to share it with anyone. The Apostle John was a threat to Him.
3. In reality this ambitious, false leader defied the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ
who chose the Apostle John and commissioned him as one of the twelve (Luke
6:12-14; Matthew 28:18-20).
C. He made malicious statements against the apostles or slandered them
1. The phrase prating against us with malicious words means “bringing false and
empty charges against us.” What Diotrephes was saying about John was sheer
nonsense, but there are people who love to hear such talk and who will believe
2. Apparently, Diotrephes had made these accusations against John at one of the
church meetings when John was not present to defend himself. But John warned
that the day would soon come when he would settle accounts with Diotrephes
3. Christians must be careful not to believe everything that they read or hear about
God’s servants, particularly those servants that are really faithful in serving the
4. In contrast to the evil words of Diotrephes such as slander, backbiting, gossips,
tale bearing, Christians must speak:
a. Pleasant words – Prov. 16:12
b. Gracious words – Eccl. 10:12
c. Inspiring and unforgettable – Eccl. 12:11
d. Comforting – Isa. 50:4
e. Appropriate – Pro. 25:11
Four preachers met for a friendly gathering. During the conversation one preacher said, “Our people
come to us and pour out their hears, confess certain sins and needs. Let’s do the same. Confession is
good for the soul.” In due time all agreed. One confessed he liked to go to movies and would sneak
off when away from his church. The second confessed to liking to smoke cigars and the third one
confessed to liking to play cards. When it came to the fourth one, he wouldn’t confess. The others
pressed him saying, “Come now, we confessed ours. What is your secret or vice?” Finally, he
answered, “It is gossiping and I can hardly wait to get out of here.” Source unknown
D. He refused to entertain the missionaries
1. Missionaries and other church workers whom the Apostle John sends and
recommends were not received by Diotrephes. No hospitality or love were shown
to those people. (3 Jn. 1:8, 10; Mt. 10:40).
2. Not only that, he forbids other Christians to receive those missionaries and show
kindness to them.
3. Let me remind you once more that we must help Christian missionaries and
other faithful servants of the Lord with all means possible. What we do to them,
we do it to the Lord.
4. False teachers must be denied of any help or assistance not even bidding them
God speed (2 Jn. 10)
E. He excommunicated those who did entertain the missionaries.
1. He disciplines and punishes those Christians that disobeys him.
2. The punishment is excommunication, a denial of Christian fellowship, by putting
them out of the church.
II. What is happening today?
A. There are so many Diotrephes almost in any Christian churches.
1. They control the Pastor because they are rich and influential. They use their
material wealth to gain the favor and acceptance of their fellow believers.
2. Some may be deacons who applies the “Golden Rule”. What I mean here is, “he
who has the gold rules”
3. In this time that “fake news” is rampant, lots of gossips, backbiting, false
accusations are being spread not only against church leaders but also among
church members. Some don’t mind to speak malicious and hurtful words
concerning other Christian brothers or sisters just to get what they want.
4. Gossips, backbiting’s, false accusations, “fake news”, have destroyed live, broken
families, broken friendships, split churches, even destroyed reputations of faithful
pastors and other faithful servants of the Lord
5. If church discipline can be abused during that time, there is no reason why it
cannot be abused now by many Diotrephes in churches today.
Diotrephes may be a church leader but his ways and conduct show that he is of the devil.
Churches now are invaded by wolves in sheep clothing. You can know them by their fruit.
There are so many Diotrephes now in many Christian churches , examine yourselves, I
pray that you are not one of them. If you are a Diotrephes, its time for you to repent from
your sins now and receive Christ as your personal Saviour. Your time is running out