The apostle John is frequently characterized as the “apostle of love” because there is a marked interest in love in his writings. But love does not ignore wrongdoing, and John was not averse to rebuking error when the occasion demanded it.
In his letter to Gaius, John spoke of Diotrephes, a brother who was consumed (as indicated by the present participle form, “loveth”) with the desire for preeminence. “Preeminence” translates a Greek word which means “love of being first.” This disposition is the exact opposite of that which had been taught by the Spirit, namely that of putting others first (see Philippians 2:3,4). Underline “preeminence,” and record this reference in your margin.
Diotrephes even rejected the authority of John, an apostle of Christ. Accordingly, John states that when he arrives on the scene where this rebel is disturbing the church, he will recall and charge this man with the evil works he has done. The apostle is unwilling simply to “let bygones be bygones.” One of the sins of which Diotrephes was guilty was “prating against” John and those identified with him. The term denotes making “unjustified charges.” Make that notation. Too, he was ruling the local church, “casting out” those who did not agree with his dictatorial policies. The word “church” (v. 10), is used either in the local sense (i.e., he arbitrarily disfellowshipped some from the local congregation), or in the assembly sense (i.e., he refused them access to the worship services). Underline “church” in verse 10 and note: Local membership or denied assembly access. Unfortunately, the spirit of Diotrephes still troubles the brotherhood of Christ.