This brief letter of John was apparently written and sent in haste to counter the actions and teaching of Diotrephes. John had much more to say, but wrote that he planned to visit the recipient of his letter, Gaius, and would address in person the other topics he had in mind. Nevertheless, the actions of Diotrephes apparently required an urgent and immediate response.
John begins his letter by referring to himself as an elder, rather than an apostle, to put himself on equal footing with his recipient, Gaius. He seeks to advise, not dictate, concerning a problem within the church which Gaius helps shepherd.
John expresses his love for the church and his hope that it will thrive.
John has heard report of how well the church was doing and it makes him glad.
John commends the church for its faithfulness toward other believers, especially traveling missionaries who preach the gospel of Jesus. John affirms that it is right to support these travelers, so that we can share in their work.
John criticizes a man named Diotrephes who puts himself first above the church, rather than serving the believers. Diotrephes has rejected what John and other church leaders say, and has made false accusations against them. Worse still, he has worked against helping missionaries and has removed church members who wanted to support them.
John finishes his letter by reminding the church to imitate good, not evil, for doing good is of God, but doing evil is disobedience to God. John commends a man name Demetrius to the church and concludes that he hopes to see them soon in person to speak about other matters.