“I wrote to the church, but Diotrophes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church” (3 John 9-10).
I have met Diotrophes and he is a nice person. He is concerned about the church and has deep convictions. He visits the sick and offers to help if someone is in need. He is respected because he is zealous for personal evangelism. He is also misunderstood and has been the object of a smear campaign among brethren.
He had a problem with a brother, but it was nothing more than a personality clash and now the brother is worshipping with another church by his choice. Maybe he is right—the brother can be stubborn sometimes. He was creating waves and if it was not for Diotrophes, the church would be a mess.
Does this sound familiar? A Diotrophes is not necessarily mean and hateful—at least not on the surface—but you dare not cross him because he will use coercion, exclusion, force, and mandate to accomplish his purposes.
Problems from outside the church are bad enough, but problems from inside the church can be devastating. The apostle John confronted Diotrophes who was censuring brethren and then driving away members who dared help the ones he had refused. It was not a doctrinal deviation; it was a moral deviation. In the meantime, other members such as Gaius and Demetrius needed encouragement and support.
Evil men like Diotrophes sometimes have commendable traits. They may not be completely bad and unlikable. For example, Absalom was charming, handsome, and popular, but he was a threat to the nation of Israel because he was rebellious. Satan deceives us into admiring the positive characteristics of a Diotrophes while ignoring his sinful attitudes and actions. The result is that he wreaks havoc in a congregation and his supporters are enablers. He excuses his misconduct in the name of standing for the truth or maintaining the purity of the church, but sin is sin and he should be exposed.
He wants to rule the church, but he has not learned the true meaning of leadership from the word of God. He views criticism or disagreement as a challenge to his authority and he will always be mystified that Moses could lead a nation and be the meekest of men (Numbers 12:3).