Opposites in the Same Church
by Matt Smith
The book of 3 John is one that we often will quickly skim through on our way to the much more interesting book of Revelations. In this closing epistle of the Apostle John, we see him referring to himself as the “elder”, no doubt referring to his old age. Certainly John knew that he would soon be seeing his Savior once again. He writes this letter to a dear friend of his named Gaius. While there are several other times the name Gaius is mentioned in the NT by the Apostle Paul, this is likely a different Gaius and one who we know very little about. It would seem that Gauis may have had some type of leadership position in an unnamed church that John had a direct connection to.
In this book we see John point out the character of two individuals. First of all, we are introduced to a man named Diotrophes. This man was a thorn in John’s side. In verses 9 and 10 we see that he likes to put himself first, did not “receive” John, and likely a reference to John’s authority as an original apostle. Diotrophes also did not welcome other believers and even was involved in putting some out of the church. Clearly this man had a major pride problem. Whether he was a pastor or not we aren’t sure but even if he was, he certainly thought a lot more of himself than he should have and acted almost as we would expect a dictator would.
In contrast to Diotrophes, we see another man mentioned named Demetrius. While we know very little specifics about him, we see from verse 12 that he “had a good report of all men.” This is another way of saying that everyone spoke well of him, including John himself. He is also noted to be living in the truth. So he was well known as a good and godly man, in stark contrast to Diotrophes. It’s interesting to note that these two men were both involved with the same church yet were virtually opposites of each other when it came to character. May we emulate the character of Demetrius and not allow any position we may have at church cause us to be lifted up with the same pride that we see in the life of Diotrophes.