A Tale of Two Leaders

04 Jun

Imagine your church bulletin contains an announcement, “Housing needed for a pastor and his wife, who will be in town for 5 nights from September 28 – October 3.” Would you offer to host the guests at your home? Would you wonder why they can’t stay in a hotel and rent a car during their visit? How you respond to this opportunity says much about your character.

In his third letter, the apostle John paints a contrast between two different leaders. Their character is revealed in how they treat ministers and missionaries. John encourages his readers to make a wise choice as to whom they will pattern their lives after.

Like a musical composition or a movie script, 3 John has both a major theme and a minor theme, a plot and a subplot. The major theme is to make a wise choice as to whom you follow (11). The minor theme is that ministers and missionaries are to be loved and cared for (5-8).

Gaius was a man who put ministry first (1-8). Gaius was a man who had a healthy spiritual life (2-4). He walked in the truth which pleased John immensely. He was a man who was generous and hospitable towards visiting ministers and missionaries (5-8). He was ministry minded and honored those who loved Jesus Christ.

Diotrephes was a man who put himself first (9-10). In contrast to Gaius, Diotrephes was a man who was ambitious, arrogant, a malicious gossip, and controlling. His root problem was pride and he wanted to be preeminent. He was not teachable and would not submit to authority. He made evil accusations against the apostle John and spread malicious rumors. He wanted to be the gatekeeper of the church, controlling who came and went. If you did not agree with his position, he asked you to leave the fellowship. His life was a contradiction to the gospel.

John encourages his readers to make a wise choice in whom they follow (11). He points out Demetrius as an individual with an excellent reputation (12).

Like 2 John, John closes his letter with heartfelt greetings (13-15). While he has much to share, he prefers to do so in person rather than in a letter.

In this short letter, John paints a stunning contrast between two leaders.



Motivation Love for others

He took care of strangers; others gave testimony about his love

Love of position

He wanted to be first; to be recognized as most important

Attitude to Instruction

Walks in truth

Listened to instruction; obeyed the Scriptures

Won’t listen

Would not submit to John’s leadership

Treats Others

Open arms

Welcomed strangers

Closed heart

Refused to welcome fellow ministers and threatened others if they didn’t follow his opinion

Builds up

Looked for opportunities to encourage

Tears down

Spread malicious lies about John; evil gossip

Use of Resources


He gave and supported other ministers and missionaries


He controlled not only his resources, but those of others as well



Whatever it takes to move the gospel forward


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


Honor God

Sent missionaries off in a manner worthy of God

Honor self

Wanted to be first



John praised him for his lifestyle of truth and love


John pointed out his ambition, arrogance, gossip, and controlling nature

Is your example worth following?

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on June 4, 2017. It is the final message in a series of sermons on The Letters of John. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


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