John was the beloved and the most loving disciple. It was not often he said negative things so bluntly. But just before he was imprisoned in Patmos, he really disliked this character Diotrephes in

3 John 1:9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. 10So 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.

I understand that at the time, there was only one church in one city. Diotrephes seemed to have a lot of power in the city church. Is there anything else we know about this guy?

1 Answer 1


There is almost nothing known about the person Diotephes outside of this one reference. Here is a summary of all that is known.

According to the Pulpit commentary:

Diotrephes (Διοτρεφὴς)

The name is from Δίος of Zeus (Jove), and τρέφω to nourish, and means Jove-nursed.

According to Barnes:

But Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, receiveth us not - Does not admit our authority, or would not comply with any such recommendation. The idea is, that he rejected his interference in the matter, and was not disposed to acknowledge him in any way. Of Diotrephes, nothing more is known than is here specified. Compare the analysis of the Epistle. If he was an officer in the church - a pastor, a ruling elder, a deacon, a vestry-man, a warden, or a private individual - we have no means of ascertaining. The presumption, from the phrase "who loveth to have the pre-eminence," would rather seem to be that he was an aspiring man, arrogating rights which he did not have, and assuming authority to which he was not entitled by virtue of any office. Still he might have held an office, and might have arrogated authority, as many have done, beyond what properly belonged to it.

According to Wikipedia on Diotrephes:

Adolf von Harnack was of the view that Diotrephes was the earliest monarchical bishop whose name has survived.

See also https://www.gotquestions.org/Diotrephes-in-the-Bible.html

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