In 3rd John there are three main characters: Gaius "the wellbeloved", Diotrephes "the preeminence", and Demetrius "the good report". Diotrephes is contrasted to the others. It almost looks as if John is holding these three up for comparison and it is easy to see the flaws in Diotrephes. Almost like holding out three apples to choose from, and one is rotten!
Gaius was wellbeloved (verse 2). He brought joy to the Apostle John (verse 3). He was faithful (verse 5). He was charitable (verse 6). He bore the burden of the Church (verse 7).
On the other hand we have Diotrephes.
His name means "nourished of Zeus". THE CHURCH CAN'T SURVIVE WITHOUT AMBITIOUS
PEOPLE, AND SOMETIMES IT CAN'T SURVIVE BECAUSE OF THEM! A PERSON'S AMBITION
MUST BE CHANNELED THROUGH THE WILL OF GOD.
DIOTREPHES DID AT LEAST THREE DEADLY THINGS: RESISTED APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY, RECEIVED FALSE TEACHERS, AND TALKED A LOT.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A DIOTREPHES CHURCH-SPLITTER: He is a Proud person (v.9). His preeminence is more important than the cause of Christ (v.9). He resorts to perverted actions (v.10). When his position is threatened, he reacts maliciously (v.10). He has strong personal ambitions (v.10). HE IS NOT ONE TO BE FOLLOWED (v.11) "Beloved, follow not after that which is evil, but that which is good..."
Then there is Demetrius. In verse 12 he "hath a good report of all men" unlike Diotrephes. He is praiseworthy and follow-worthy.
To whom would you compare yourself? Gaius and Demetrius or Diotrephes?
Colossians chapter 3 should be read in regard to this subject. For sake of space I will give some key words in Colossians 3 and quote one verse. "seek", "set", "mortify", "put off", "put on", and "let".
Now verse 17: "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
1 Corinthians 10:31,33: "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."..."Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved."
Diotrephes lived for self... Gaius and Demetrius lived for God. Titus 1:10-11 says, "For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake."