In the Book of 3 John 1 we are presented with the character of two men, Diotrephes and Demetrius. They are influential and prominent men, probably in the same church, yet their ultimate destination was not the same. Demetrius was on his way to Heaven from the church, while Diotrephes was not, based upon his behavior. Let us look at these two men, spoken of by Apostle John, and learn from their lives.
Apostle John wrote about Diotrephes in verses 9-10. He condemned him for his arrogance and hostility when he spurned John’s apostolic authority, rejected John’s missionaries, and cast out the men either that John sent or the men in the church who would have received John’s missionaries.
9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
10 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.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary has this to say about Diotrephes:
Both the heart and mouth must be watched. The temper and spirit of Diotrephes was full of pride and ambition. It is bad not to do good ourselves; but it is worse to hinder those who would do good.
Barnes’s Notes on the Bible says this about vs. 9:
Whatever was the cause, the case furnishes an illustration of the evil influence of one ambitious and arrogant man in a church. It is often in the power of one such man to bring a whole church under his control, effectually embarrass all its movements, and prevent all the good that it would otherwise accomplish.
Dake’s Commentary says this about Diotrephes:
Who this man is was not known, and all speculation is useless. Regarding character, he is known as being proud, ambitious, exclusive, malicious, inhospitable, despotic, and rebellious against apostolic authority.
So, Diotrephes was proud, ambitious, exclusive, malicious, inhospitable, despotic, and rebellious against apostolic authority. Lord, deliver us today. The fact that Diotrephes would have the unmitigated gall to oppose an Apostle is shocking.
Apostle John’s response to his opposition in the 10th verse was that if he had an opportunity to come to that church, he would not forget what Diotrephes had done. John rebuked Diotrephes in harsh but straightforward words.
In verse 11, John states:
11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.
John cautioned that we are not to imitate Diotrephes’ behavior, but we are to be merciful, loving, and kind.
Dake’s Commentary says of verse 11:
We are not to follow this kind of man but do good, for this will be proof that you are of God and know Him.
Poor Diotrephes. He was in the church but not on his way to Heaven. One could not even prove that he knew God based upon his behavior. We can only hope that he got right with God before meeting Him in judgment.
And now we contrast the evil Diotrephes with an excellent man of God, Demetrius. Following is what Apostle John had to say about Demetrius in verse 12.
12 Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.
What an excellent commendation of Demetrius this was. He said that Demetrius had a good report of all men and that any who speak the truth must give him a good character. John put the weight of his personality behind his commendation of Demetrius, saying that you know (talking to Gaius) that you can depend upon what I say about him.
How wonderful it must have been for Demetrius to hear that he was so well thought of by the Apostle John. May we all live in such a way that our character may be so well spoken of like this.
In these few passages, 3 John 1:9-12, Apostle John taught Gaius, and us today, a tremendous and powerful lesson about the kind of person we must never be as well as the kind of person we should all strive to be. Will you be a Diotrephes or a Demetrius? I’m going for the character of Demetrius. Based on the words of Joshua 24:15, but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. I am going to Heaven, not Hell. And certainly, no one should go to Hell from the church. According to Hebrews 13:17 we are to:
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.