9, 10. DIOTREPHES CONDEMNED FOR HIS ARROGANCE AND HOSTILITY
This is the most surprising part of the letter; and of the internal evidence this is the item which seems to weigh most heavily against the Apostolic authorship. That any Christian should be found to act in this manner towards the last surviving Apostle is nothing less than astounding. Those who opposed S. Paul, like Alexander the coppersmith (2Ti 4:14), afford only remote parallels (1Ti 1:20; 2Ti 1:15). They do not seem to have gone the lengths of Diotrephes: the authority of Apostles was less understood in S. Paul’s time: and his claim to be an Apostle was at least open to question; for he was not one of the Twelve, and he had himself been a persecutor. But from the very first the N.T. is full of the saddest surprises. And those who accept as historical the unbelief of Christ’s brethren, the treachery of Judas, the flight of all the Disciples, the denial of S. Peter, the quarrels of Apostles both before and after their Lord’s departure, and the flagrant abuses in the Church of Corinth, with much more of the same kind, will not be disposed to think it incredible that Diotrephes acted in the manner here described even towards the Apostle S. John.