Summary: Diotrephes was a trouble maker trying to run the church. Paul tells Gaius he will deal with him when he comes. Peace is possible in spite of those who love to be first.


SCRIPTURE: KJV III John 1:9 “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the

preeminence among them, receiveth us not. (v. 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.”

Amplified Version III John 1:9 “I have written briefly to the church; but Diotrephes, who likes to take the lead among them and put himself first, does not acknowledge my authority and refuses to accept my suggestions or listen to me. (v. 10) So when I arrive, I will call attention to what he is doing, his boiling over and casting malicious reflections upon us with insinuating language. And not satisfied with that, he refuses to receive and welcome the [missionary] brethren himself, and also interferes with and forbids those who would welcome them, and tries to expel (excommunicate) them from the church.”



A. John’s letter is written to a local church in Asia Minor under the leadership of Gaius.

B. It is apparent from the introduction of the letter that Gaius was dearly loved by John. (v. 1)

C. Beloved by the local church. (v. 2)

D. Walking in truth as testified of by visiting brethren. (v. 3)

E. Attempting to accept in hospitality the missionary brethren. (v. 6)

F. Dealing with Diotrephes

1. Gaius

a. Accepting those who preach and practice the truth.

b. Rejecting those who preach false doctrine; gnosticism in this case.

c. Needing apostolic affirmation that he was doing the right thing.

2. Diotrephes

a. Rejecting those who preach the truth.

b. Accusing Gaius and the local church of not showing love to him and those like him.

c. Needing an apostolic rebuke. (v. 10) “I will remember his deeds”


A. Preached Gnosticism. A Gnostic heretic according to Spiros Zodhiates.

1. Gnostics denied the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

2. John addressed Gnosticism in his first epistle.

I John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;”

I John 4:1 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (4:2) Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”

B. Loved the preeminence. (v. 9)

1. It means simply, “who loves to be first” — meaning that he loved to be at the head of all things, to rule, to lord it over others. It is clearly supposed here, that the church would have complied with the request of the writer [to receive missionary brethren] if it had not been for this man. Barnes’ Notes

2. Have you ever seen the actions and reactions, the behaviors, the attitudes of someone who loves to be first? “The Disease of Diotrephes” by Darren Ethier

a. Such people are usually filled with pride - the kind of pride that is not easily humbled [unteachable].

b. Such people like to have their name prominently mentioned whenever possible, have to have the jobs that get tons of recognition, and always want to have to last word.

3. Why do you think people want to be first?

a. Maybe they want recognition, maybe its because they’re afraid of being last, of being left out or left behind.

b. Maybe they crave the attention.

c. Maybe its because they want to hide some weakness they have.

4. Often people want to be first because it satisfies their desire to feel needed .

The inappropriate expression of this need leads many down a road of destruction,

and disaster, and the one thing they feared the most . . . being rejected.

5. The case furnishes an illustration of the bad 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, and effectually to embarrass all its movements, and to prevent all the good which it would otherwise accomplish. Barnes’ Notes

C. Rejected the Apostle John and the Brethren. (v. 9)

1. Resented interference from outside authority declaring independence.

a. Diotrephes did not accept the Apostle John to be over him because he thought of himself as a super-apostle, and therefore he was a false prophet.

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