3 John 1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
3 John 1:10 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.
This verse is a summary of Diotrephes’ criminal record. According to the text, Diotrephes was a “leader” in the congregation John is writing to (actually he’s writing to a member there, Gaius). He had written to this church previously, but this Diotrephes fellow refused to allow the letter to be read to the church. There are six misdeeds Diotrephes commits, that John states in v10. These six things describe a man who has a lust for leadership but not the right disposition to lead. What’s his deal? John tells us…
First, the Apostle uses the word “prating” to describe Diotrephes’ actions. The word means “to be a trifler” or “to berate.” He was a man who turned little disagreements into big feuds.
Second, John says he spoke malicious words. and mistreated his brothers in Christ. Put simply, he uttered hurtful words. Some people seem to enjoy saying cruel things to put others down. This man was one such person.
Third, he was “not content therewith.” With whom was he not content? With his brethren. This is a man that is never satisfied, and is always upset about something. He always has an issue to complain about, even if he has to fabricate one in his own mind.
Fourth, John repeats what he said in v9, how he would not “receive the brethren.” Unlike Gaius, whom John praises in this book as someone known to be hospitable to strangers and outsiders, Diotrephes turned his back on such people.
Fifth, he forbid other brethren to receive strangers and foreigners. Naturally, a person as arrogant as this is not going to stop at personally rebuffing outsiders; he is going to stomp his foot and insist that the congregation follow his example.
Sixth, he cast certain Christians out of the church. By this we can assume that these cast-out brethren were those who—like Gaius—extended hands of relief and aid to outsiders. Diotrephes no doubt warned them not to transgress his own personal brand of religion and when some did, he made it clear they were not welcome to assemble with the brethren of that congregation.
So what kind of person is this? He’s loud and outspoken, he’s brash and arrogant. He’s a “leader” only in the sense that he loves giving orders, but he lacks the proper skills it takes to be a leader in Christ’s church. A leader that Jesus would have us to be is humble, meek, charitable, and hospitable. Diotrephes was none of those things. He was a leader, yes, but not the kind Jesus wanted.
Let us examine ourselves to make sure we are leading the way the Master of us all desires!