Biblical People

Biblical People: Diotrephes

In John’s letter to his friend Gaius, he not only mentions Demetrius, whom everyone respects, but he also names Diotrephes. Unfortunately, Diotrephes is not so highly esteemed. This guy has issues. He’s a control freak.

To start with, Diotrephes loves to be first. He wants to be in charge. 

At one time, John wrote a letter to the local church Diotrephes is part of, but he refused to accept what John said. On John’s next visit he promises to publicly call out Diotrephes’s inappropriate actions. 

In addition to loving to be first and not accepting John’s message, Diotrephes compounds the problem by gossiping about John and other disciples. Diotrephes’s smear campaign promotes spiteful rumors. It must stop.

Not only does Diotrephes refuse to welcome John and his crew, he also refuses to welcome other believers when they visit. But this isn’t only a personal attack. He also stops others in the church from welcoming visitors and kicks them out if they try.

Diotrephes is part of Jesus’s church, but his actions certainly don’t honor Jesus or support his followers.

Diotrephes serves as internal opposition to Jesus. He is a foe of Jesus from within the church.

Do we ever seek to be in control? Do we love to be first? If so, what do we need to change to honor Jesus and support his church?

[Discover more about Diotrephes in 3 John 1:9–10.]

Read more about other biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at