A Tale of Two Men


If your community came together to discuss the merits of your life, what would they say? How would they describe the way you treat people, work, or serve God? Would your character be built up or torn down? In today’s passage, John receives a report about two men who influenced the early church. One report is glowing, and the other . . . well, not so much.

  • What do you wish people would say about you when you aren’t around?


1:1 The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. 3 For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

5 Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, 6 who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. 8 Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Who had brought news of the church to John? Why did John describe them as both brothers and strangers (vs. 5)?
  2. What did Gaius do to earn John’s praise? How did Gaius’ actions edify the church?
  3. Describe the differences in character between Gaius and Diotrephes. For instance, how did each of them treat fellow believers?
  4. How are you building up the church? Are there any ways in which you are tearing it down?


I doubt Diotrephes ever considered that his actions would characterize him as a self-centered and nonsensical troublemaker to Christians throughout history. On the flip side, Gaius could not have known John’s short letter of encouragement about his faith would forever lift him up as an example of a humble leader in the early church. But that’s exactly what happened. Our true character and motivations always find a way to shine through. We don’t know the influence of our legacy on the future, but we can determine to serve God with humility and truth in the present.

  • Talk to God about the influence you are having on your church and the brothers and sisters in faith around you.
  • Ask God to give you a heart like Gaius, eager to walk in the truth and to love others.