Vol.XVIII No.I Pg.6
March 1981


Curtis Wubbena

In 3rd. John we read of one who arrogated divine authority. His name was Diotrephes, and he took it upon himself to decide church matters. In v. 9 we learn that he refused the authority of John. He alone decided what should or should not be accepted. His power even extended into the area of fellowship. At will he cast Christians out of the local church (v.10).

It is amazing that the people in this congregation tolerated such an attitude. Diotrephes was not concerned with the welfare of the church. He simply "loveth to have the preeminence among them" (v. 9). He loved to be the chief. Could they not see his self-serving attitude? Apparently not for if they had, they would have cast him out. "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned: and turn away from them" (Rom. 16:17).

To be first he also had to resort to anything that would make him first. If this meant spreading false rumors, fine. If this meant making slanderous statements, fine. Anything to insure his dictatorship. John said, "Therefore, if I come, I will bring to remembrance his works which he doeth, prating against us with wicked words..." (v. 10).

In many locales today there is a similar acceptance of those who embrace Diotrephesism. What else may one conclude when people of God allow the eldership or leadership to ignore or go beyond the will of God? We must not allow those who love the preeminence to go unchecked. Why would people who claim to be servants of God tolerate such men? To get in a position of authority one must have the consent of a majority of the people. The actions of Diotrephes must have been endorsed by the church. This means he was providing what they wanted to hear. "...The time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts" (2 Tim. 4:3).

The writing of John to Gaius was as much a sad commentary on the state of that particular church as it was on the attitude of Diotrephes. Devotion must be to truth. The sole authority of Christ must be respected. Jesus said, "All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth" Matt. 28:18). This means that His will goes.

One serious attitude often found in those who take the lead in following error is desire for fellowship! As the apostle Paul warned the elders of the church in Ephesus, "I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them" (Acts 20:29-f).

One serious attitude often found in those who follow after these who serve self is justification of sin. Who is profited? In the end all are lost. May we, like John, love our brethren enough to speak out against all error. "Beloved, follow not that which is evil" (v.11).