Good Imitations

27 Aug

The letter of 3 John is like a symphony with a melody and a countermelody, or perhaps like a movie with a plot and a subplot. The main theme of the letter is to make a wise choice about whom you will imitate or follow (11). The secondary theme is that missionaries should be loved and cared for (5-8). John paints a contrast between two leaders, Gaius and Diotrephes, whose character is revealed by how they treat missionaries.

As I studied the letter, I used the following chart to help me compare and contrast their lives.



3 John 1-8


3 John 9-10


Love for others

He took care of strangers. Other people bragged to John about how he treated missionaries.

Love of position

He wanted to be first; to be in charge; to call the shots; to be recognized as most important.

Accept Instruction

Walks in truth

He listened to instruction and obeyed the Scriptures. His lifestyle matched his beliefs.

Won’t listen

He would not recognize John’s authority nor submit to his leadership. He appeared to be unteachable.

Treat others

Open arms

Welcomed strangers. He went out of his way to make them feel welcome and cared for.

Closed heart

He refused to welcome fellow believers. He even threatened others if they didn’t follow his example.

Builds up

He looked for opportunities to encourage.

Tears down

He spread malicious lies about John and engaged in gossip. If you didn’t agree with him, he began spreading rumors about you.



He gave and supported other gospel workers.


He controlled not only his resources, but those of others as well. He refused support if it didn’t fit his agenda.



Whatever it takes to move the gospel forward.


Don’t rock the boat; don’t change things.


Honor God

He sent missionaries off in a manner worthy of God.

Honor self

He wanted to be first. He wouldn’t help because it might threaten his position.


Gaius was commended by John for his lifestyle of truth and love.

Diotrephes was confronted by John for his ambition, arrogance, accusations, and evil actions.

I came away from my study asking myself the question, Am I leader worth following?


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