The scriptures are clear. The Lord’s apostle said the saints are to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). That can hardly happen where there is present a “Mr. Diotrephes” or a “Mrs. Diotrephes.” John wrote with regard to the “Diotrephes” spirit, “I wrote somewhat unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not” (3 John 9). This is the disposition of a person who wants his (or her) say and way. Those who are of this attitude and spirit have no regard for the words of the Holy Spirit.
In the “funnies” section of the newspaper, the cartoon “The Middletons” make a perfect illustration. There are two dogs barking continuously (like dogs sometimes do). One dog stops and asks, “What are we barking at?” The other dog replies, “A leaf fluttered to the ground.” “Oh” came the reply. The dogs resume barking fervently. This a perfect illustration of the Diotrephes spirit that exists with some. It begins with a lack of biblical knowledge, continues with failure to gain knowledge of the situation as it needs to be properly understood, then proceeds with a lack of a charitable disposition toward the thinking and ways of someone else, coupled with a desire to have control / power / influence over others (all in a compelled sort of way, at least some of the time), all to arrive at a point of “we don’t need a reason of substance, let us just make up one.”
The Diotrephes spirit in a local congregation is exhibited in more than just what the Lord’s apostle wrote; it’s exhibited in identifying “sound brethren” and only those who are identified can be fellowshipped, in telling a preacher from what exclusive translation he can preach (and it better not be the Greek text!), how the preacher can make no use of illustrations that come from life but can only come from Genesis to Revelation (Paul and Jesus would both have been condemned by the Diotrephes spirited person). The Diotrephes spirit splits churches, sometimes those splits manifest themselves in a congregation imploding, the majority of the saints walking out to start a new work or wandering off “back into the mire.”
Maybe you know someone in the congregation where you worship manifesting all of this, or only some of it. If so, you are headed down a path that brings frustration, confusion and heartache.
What the Lord’s apostle said in Ephesians is not an option or suggestion, it is a command of the Holy Spirit. Those who divide churches because of the Diotrephes spirit will answer the Lord for their self-exultations. We may wonder, sometimes, who is guilty of this sort of thinking. Generally speaking, however, the Diotrephes spirited person is manifest to all. When we wonder, we can be sure the Lord knows! “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3, ASV). RT