Diotrephes

1.0 Diotrephes was a problem in the early Church:

A Judaizer Diotrephes was described as ambitious, proud, disrespectful of apostolic authority, rebellious, and inhospitable

5 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. 10 So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.

11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.

3 John 1: 5-10

Diotrephes.1)http://www.icr.org/books/defenders/8886 “Diotrephes” means “Nourished by Zeus,” and Diotrephes had chosen to keep his pagan name rather than to follow the custom of other Gentile converts and change it to a Christian name. He was evidently only half-converted from paganism, and resisted any teaching from John or other God-called teachers. Nevertheless, he had somehow gotten himself elevated by the congregation to the highest position of power in the church, able even to ignore or reject even the teachings of the Apostle John himself. He loved his position of power and was intent on keeping it. John was hoping he might soon be able to come and deal with the situation personally (III John 10), though his health and age might not allow (but note III John 13 and 14).

v.13 I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink. v.14 I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.

3 John 1: 13-14

2.0 Diotrephes (wiki) 2)From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diotrephes

Diotrephes was a man mentioned in the Third Epistle of John (verses 9–11). His name means “nourished by Jupiter”. As Raymond E. Brown comments, “Diotrephes is not a particularly common name.”3)Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (New York: Doubleday, 1997), p. 403

In addition to being ambitious, proud, disrespectful of apostolic authority, rebellious, and inhospitable, the author of the letter says that Diotrephes tried to hinder those desiring to show hospitality to the brothers and to expel these from the congregation. Not even the location of Diotrephes’ church can be determined from the letter. It is debatable whether the antipathy expressed in 3 John is based on “a theological dispute, a clash of competing ecclesiastical authorities, a disagreement about financial responsibilities for the mission, or personal dislike”.4)Margaret M. Mitchell, “‘Diotrephes Does Not Receive Us;: The Lexicographical and Social Context of 3 John 9-10,” Journal of Biblical Literature 117.2 (1998:299-320), with bibliography of the conflict on each possible arena of the conflict

Adolf von Harnack was of the view that Diotrephes was the earliest monarchical bishop whose name has survived.5)Harnack, “Über den dritten Johannes brief” (series Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur) 15.3 (Leipzig 1897:3-27).

Biblical passage

The following is the passage and notes from the New English Translation.

1:9 I wrote something to the church,6)sn The church mentioned here, which the author says he may visit (3 John 10) is not the same as the one mentioned in 3 John 6, to which the author apparently belongs (or of which he is in charge). But what is the relationship of this church in v. 9 to Gaius, to whom the letter is addressed? It is sometimes suggested that Gaius belongs to this church, but that seems unlikely, because the author uses a third-person pronoun to refer to the other members of the church (among them). If Gaius were one of these it would have been much more natural to use a second-person pronoun: “Diotrephes, who loves to be first among you.” Thus it seems probable that Gaius belongs to (or is in charge of) one local church while Diotrephes is in another, a church known to Gaius but to which he does not belong. but Diotrephes,7)sn Diotrephes appears to be an influential person (perhaps the leader) in a local church known to Gaius, but to which Gaius himself does not belong. The description of Diotrephes as one who loves to be first suggests he is arrogant, and his behavior displays this: He refuses to acknowledge the written communication mentioned by the author at the beginning of v. 9 (and thus did not recognize the author’s apostolic authority), and furthermore (v. 10) refuses to show any hospitality to the traveling missionaries (welcome the brothers) already mentioned by the author. It has been suggested that the description “loves to be first” only indicates that Diotrephes sought prominence or position in this church, and had not yet attained any real authority. But his actions here suggest otherwise: He is able to refuse or ignore the author’s previous written instructions (v. 9), and he is able to have other people put out of the church for showing hospitality to the traveling missionaries (v. 10). who loves to be first among them, does not acknowledge us.8)tn Since the verb ἐπιδέχομαι (epidechomai) can mean “receive into one’s presence” (BDAG 370 s.v. 1; it is used with this meaning in the next verse) it has been suggested that the author himself attempted a previous visit to Diotrephes’ church but was turned away. There is nothing in the context to suggest an unsuccessful prior visit by the author, however; in 3 John 9 he explicitly indicates a prior written communication which Diotrephes apparently ignored or suppressed. The verb ἐπιδέχομαι can also mean “accept” in the sense of “acknowledge someone’s authority” (BDAG 370 s.v. 2) and such a meaning better fits the context here: Diotrephes has not accepted but instead rejected the authority of the author to intervene in the situation of the traveling missionaries (perhaps because Diotrephes believed the author had no local jurisdiction in the matter). 1:10 Therefore, if I come,9)tn The third-class condition (ἐὰν ἔλθω, ean elthō) seems to be used by the author to indicate real uncertainty on his part as to whether he will visit Diotrephes’ church or not. I will call attention to the deeds he is doing10)sn Because Diotrephes did not recognize the authority of the author, the author will expose his behavior for what it is (call attention to the deeds he is doing) if he comes for a visit. These are the charges the author will make against Diotrephes before the church: (1) Diotrephes is engaged in spreading unjustified charges against the author with evil words; (2) Diotrephes refuses to welcome the brothers (the traveling missionaries) himself; (3) Diotrephes hinders the others in the church who wish to help the missionaries; and (4) Diotrephes expels from the church (throws them out) people who aid the missionaries. (Diotrephes himself may not have had supreme authority in the local church to expel these people, but may have been responsible for instigating collective action against them.). – the bringing of unjustified charges against us with evil words! And not being content with that, he not only refuses to welcome the brothers himself, but hinders the people who want to do so and throws them out of the church! 1:11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is bad but what is good.11)sn The exhortation do not imitate what is bad but what is good is clearly a reference to Diotrephes’ evil behavior. The author exhorts Gaius (whom he wishes to continue assisting the missionaries) not to follow the negative example of Diotrephes, but to do what is right. Implicitly there may be a contrast between the bad behavior of Diotrephes and the good reputation of Demetrius (mentioned in the following verse); but it seems more likely that Demetrius is himself one of the traveling missionaries (perhaps their leader), rather than the leader of a local congregation who, unlike Diotrephes, has supported the missionaries himself. The one who does good is of God; the one who does what is bad has not seen God.12)sn The statement The one who does what is bad has not seen God is asyndetic; its abrupt introduction adds emphasis. The statement reiterates the common Johannine theme of behavior as an indication of genuine faith, found in 1 John in 3:6, 10; 4:7, 20; and in the Gospel of John in 3:17-21. By implication, the genuineness of Diotrephes’ faith is called into question, because he has obviously done what is bad (v. 11b; cf. vv. 9-10). In John’s terminology it is clear that the phrase has not seen God is equivalent to “is not a genuine Christian” (see John 3:17-21 and 1 John 3:6, 10; 4:7, 20).

Subsequent References

In 1588, the Elizabethan Puritan John Udall wrote a dialogue13)https://archive.org/stream/diotrephes00udaluoft/diotrephes00udaluoft_djvu.txt with a haughty bishop named Diotrephes. Writing anonymously, Udall claimed that his godly and witty protagonist, Paul, was merely cautioning the English bishops to be wary of false counselors, particularly the Catholics from whom they had inherited the structure of English ecclesiology. Although the dialogue’s actual title is The state of the Church of Englande, laide open in a conference betweene Diotrephes a byshop, Tertullus a papist, Demetrius an vsurer, Pandocheus an inne-keeper, and Paule a preacher of the worde of God,14)sn British Library’s English Short Title Catalogue, STC (2nd ed.), 24505 it is commonly referred to by scholars as Diotrephes.


3.0 Who was Diotrephes in the Bible?15)http://www.gotquestions.org/Diotrephes-in-the-Bible.html

Diotrephes is mentioned in one passage of the Bible, in the short letter of 3 John. In brief, Diotrephes was a self-seeking troublemaker in an unnamed local church in the first century. We know nothing of his background, other than he was probably a Gentile (his name means “nurtured by Jupiter”).

John wrote 3 John to his friend Gaius. Here is the passage mentioning Diotrephes: “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church” (3 John 1:9–10).

In only two verses, we have the following statements made about Diotrephes: 1) he loves to be first; 2) he refuses to welcome the apostles into the church; 3) he maliciously spreads gossip about men of God; 4) he withholds hospitality from other believers; 5) he requires others to follow his poor example; and 6) he excommunicates anyone who crosses him.

From John’s description, we can assume that Diotrephes was a leader, or at least an influential member, in the local church where Gaius was a member. Diotrephes was clearly abusing his position of authority. For some reason he was jealous of the apostles and refused to allow them in his church. Instead of following the command for a pastor to be hospitable and “not quarrelsome” (2 Timothy 3:2–3), Diotrephes was inhospitable and pugnacious. Instead of seeking to be the servant of all (Mark 9:35), Diotrephes loved to be in charge.

John says that he is planning a visit to Gaius’s church, and that, when he comes, he will publicly rebuke Diotrephes for his actions (3 John 1:10). The slander, the sectarianism, and the self-seeking would be dealt with. The apostle would not sweep such things under the rug.

On the other hand, John commends Gaius for showing hospitality to the itinerant preachers of the gospel who passed through his city (3 John 1:5–8). In fact, Diotrephes, with his inhospitable, self-serving attitude, could be considered the “anti-Gaius.” John’s admonition to Gaius to “not imitate what is evil” (3 John 1:11) is probably another way of saying “don’t be like Diotrephes.”

Those who, like Gaius, minister to preachers of the gospel honor God (3 John 3:6). Those who, like Diotrephes, refuse to aid the spread of God’s Word are deserving of rebuke (3 John 3:10). The pastorate is no place for power-hungry, jealous, slanderous men who reject the apostles’ teaching. “Rather, [a pastor] must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught” (Titus 1:8–9).


4.0 Easton’s Bible Dictionary – Diotrephes16)http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/eastons-bible-dictionary/diotrephes.html

Jove-nourished, rebuked by John for his pride ( 3 John 1:9 ). He was a Judaizer, prating against John and his fellow-labourers “with malicious words” (7).


5.0 International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Diotrephes.17)http://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/diotrephes.html

di-ot’-re-fez (Diotrephes):

A person mentioned in 3 John 1:9,10 as contentiously resisting the writer’s authority and forbidding others from exercising the Christian hospitality which he himself refused to show.

The words “who loveth to have the preeminence, among them” may indicate that he was a church official, abusing his position, chief stars in the constellation of the Twins. Some 4,000 years BC they served as pointers to mark the beginning of the new year by setting together with the first new moon of springtime. The constellation of the Twins was supposed to be especially favorable to sailors, hence, ships were often placed under the protection of the twin gods.



genealogy-150-150

We know nothing of his background, other than he was probably a Gentile (his name means “nurtured by Jupiter”)


SOURCES

1.0) Source: http://www.icr.org/books/defenders/8886

2.0) Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diotrephes

3.0) Source: http://www.gotquestions.org/Diotrephes-in-the-Bible.html

4.0) Source: http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/eastons-bible-dictionary/diotrephes.html

5.0) Source: http://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/diotrephes.html

6.0) Source: bibleresources.americanbible.org | Tittle: “A Guide to Key Events, Characters and Themes of the Bible”


Related: Biblical Overviews List of Key Old Testament Characters

References   [ + ]

1. http://www.icr.org/books/defenders/8886
2. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diotrephes
3. Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (New York: Doubleday, 1997), p. 403
4. Margaret M. Mitchell, “‘Diotrephes Does Not Receive Us;: The Lexicographical and Social Context of 3 John 9-10,” Journal of Biblical Literature 117.2 (1998:299-320), with bibliography of the conflict on each possible arena of the conflict
5. Harnack, “Über den dritten Johannes brief” (series Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur) 15.3 (Leipzig 1897:3-27).
6. sn The church mentioned here, which the author says he may visit (3 John 10) is not the same as the one mentioned in 3 John 6, to which the author apparently belongs (or of which he is in charge). But what is the relationship of this church in v. 9 to Gaius, to whom the letter is addressed? It is sometimes suggested that Gaius belongs to this church, but that seems unlikely, because the author uses a third-person pronoun to refer to the other members of the church (among them). If Gaius were one of these it would have been much more natural to use a second-person pronoun: “Diotrephes, who loves to be first among you.” Thus it seems probable that Gaius belongs to (or is in charge of) one local church while Diotrephes is in another, a church known to Gaius but to which he does not belong.
7. sn Diotrephes appears to be an influential person (perhaps the leader) in a local church known to Gaius, but to which Gaius himself does not belong. The description of Diotrephes as one who loves to be first suggests he is arrogant, and his behavior displays this: He refuses to acknowledge the written communication mentioned by the author at the beginning of v. 9 (and thus did not recognize the author’s apostolic authority), and furthermore (v. 10) refuses to show any hospitality to the traveling missionaries (welcome the brothers) already mentioned by the author. It has been suggested that the description “loves to be first” only indicates that Diotrephes sought prominence or position in this church, and had not yet attained any real authority. But his actions here suggest otherwise: He is able to refuse or ignore the author’s previous written instructions (v. 9), and he is able to have other people put out of the church for showing hospitality to the traveling missionaries (v. 10).
8. tn Since the verb ἐπιδέχομαι (epidechomai) can mean “receive into one’s presence” (BDAG 370 s.v. 1; it is used with this meaning in the next verse) it has been suggested that the author himself attempted a previous visit to Diotrephes’ church but was turned away. There is nothing in the context to suggest an unsuccessful prior visit by the author, however; in 3 John 9 he explicitly indicates a prior written communication which Diotrephes apparently ignored or suppressed. The verb ἐπιδέχομαι can also mean “accept” in the sense of “acknowledge someone’s authority” (BDAG 370 s.v. 2) and such a meaning better fits the context here: Diotrephes has not accepted but instead rejected the authority of the author to intervene in the situation of the traveling missionaries (perhaps because Diotrephes believed the author had no local jurisdiction in the matter).
9. tn The third-class condition (ἐὰν ἔλθω, ean elthō) seems to be used by the author to indicate real uncertainty on his part as to whether he will visit Diotrephes’ church or not.
10. sn Because Diotrephes did not recognize the authority of the author, the author will expose his behavior for what it is (call attention to the deeds he is doing) if he comes for a visit. These are the charges the author will make against Diotrephes before the church: (1) Diotrephes is engaged in spreading unjustified charges against the author with evil words; (2) Diotrephes refuses to welcome the brothers (the traveling missionaries) himself; (3) Diotrephes hinders the others in the church who wish to help the missionaries; and (4) Diotrephes expels from the church (throws them out) people who aid the missionaries. (Diotrephes himself may not have had supreme authority in the local church to expel these people, but may have been responsible for instigating collective action against them.).
11. sn The exhortation do not imitate what is bad but what is good is clearly a reference to Diotrephes’ evil behavior. The author exhorts Gaius (whom he wishes to continue assisting the missionaries) not to follow the negative example of Diotrephes, but to do what is right. Implicitly there may be a contrast between the bad behavior of Diotrephes and the good reputation of Demetrius (mentioned in the following verse); but it seems more likely that Demetrius is himself one of the traveling missionaries (perhaps their leader), rather than the leader of a local congregation who, unlike Diotrephes, has supported the missionaries himself.
12. sn The statement The one who does what is bad has not seen God is asyndetic; its abrupt introduction adds emphasis. The statement reiterates the common Johannine theme of behavior as an indication of genuine faith, found in 1 John in 3:6, 10; 4:7, 20; and in the Gospel of John in 3:17-21. By implication, the genuineness of Diotrephes’ faith is called into question, because he has obviously done what is bad (v. 11b; cf. vv. 9-10). In John’s terminology it is clear that the phrase has not seen God is equivalent to “is not a genuine Christian” (see John 3:17-21 and 1 John 3:6, 10; 4:7, 20).
13. https://archive.org/stream/diotrephes00udaluoft/diotrephes00udaluoft_djvu.txt
14. sn British Library’s English Short Title Catalogue, STC (2nd ed.), 24505
15. http://www.gotquestions.org/Diotrephes-in-the-Bible.html
16. http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/eastons-bible-dictionary/diotrephes.html
17. http://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/diotrephes.html

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