To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth — and not I only, but also all who know the truth — because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.
It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.
I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
The children of your sister, who is chosen by God, send their greetings.
- 2 John 1:1-13
Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments
2 John ‘introduction’: “Second John is the only letter in the New Testament that was written specifically to a woman. …”
- Ray C. Stedman, Adventuring through the Bible
2 John 1-3 ‘the elect lady’: “Some think that the phrase refers metaphorically to a particular local church, while ‘her children’ refers to members of the congregation. The more natural understanding in context, however, is that it refers to a particular woman and her children (i.e. offspring) who were well known to John. The basis of Christian hospitality is the truth (vv. 1-3). John accentuates the need for truth by repeating the term truth five times in the opening four verses. Truth refers to the basics or fundamentals of the faith that John has discussed in 1 John (e.g., vv. 4-6). Truth is the necessary condition of unity and, as a result, the basis of hospitality.”
- John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)
2 John 7-11 ‘truth in love’: “These verses emphasize truth, as verses 5-6 do love. The occasion for the whole letter is the departure of ‘many’ habitual ‘deceivers’ into the evil world (v. 7, 1 John 2:18-26; 4:1-6). With missionary zeal they denied the incarnation of deity in Jesus Christ – perhaps even the permanent, everlasting union of his human and divine natures (John 6:14; 11:27). Their character embodied the spirit of the archdeceiver and Antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3). Verses 8-9 give the first of two basic commands: the readers must practice personal vigilance (Mark 13:5). The purpose is both negative and positive: to avoid losing what they have worked for and to receive a full reward or wages for faithful service. … Verses 10-11 give the second basic command: the readers must not encourage deceivers by welcoming officially to the house church (probably not a private home) itinerant, self-appointed teachers to their false view of Christ. Neither should they be greeted in parting. Such practice implies active participation in evil deeds of deceit.”
- Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible
2 John ‘challenge’: “If you’re out of the grace of God, do you know where the grace is? Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and there’s the grace of God flowing free for you – all the grace you need. If you set your teeth against Him, the grace of God might as well not exist for you. And Christ might as well not have died. But if you yield to Him and come home, then all the overwhelming, incomprehensible plentitude of goodness and kindness in the great illimitable reaches of God’s nature are on your side. Even justice is on the side of the returning sinner: ‘He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins’ (1 John 1:9). All the infinite attributes of God rejoice together when a man believes in the grace of God and returns home.”
- A. W. Tozer, The Attributes of God I
To whom was this letter addressed? The Baker Commentary is among those that Rev. MacArthur says that think the addressee is a local church and its members. The letter reads as if it was written to a specific person.
Does it matter? In the quote from the Baker commentary above, they focus the withholding of hospitality to only the church, where if the addressee was a real person, then that would indeed include the personal home as well. This is a key point. If you accept someone into your home that is a false prophet, you could be swayed and cause a rift among the members of the congregation or a departure from those teachings that they had paid a large price to obtain in the first place.
Rev. MacArthur suggests (not quoted here) that the greeting of ‘grace, mercy, peace’ is a natural progression. We start with grace that leads to the understanding of what mercy we have been granted and that understanding leads to everlasting peace.
It seems the Apostle John is still fighting the false prophets. In this case suggesting that we never show them the usual hospitality afforded the leaders of the church that go from one church to another.
What are John’s weapons in the fight? Truth and Love. To know the Truth, we must believe in Jesus, but also study the Bible to learn more. To have Love, we pray, answer God’s call, and trust in Jesus and Jesus’ teachings.
And maybe that is why John ends this letter with a cryptic note about having a lot to say, but he wants to do so in person. It is hard to show the love that he has for his fellow church members without doing so face to face.
Some Serendipitous Reflections
“1. Which is easier for you to do – ‘walk in truth’ or ‘walk in love’?
“2. Have you ever been involved in a deep relationship that had to be terminated because of an overriding issue involving your faith? What happened?
“3. How do you distinguish between those missionaries you ought not to support and those you should? How can you exercise truth and love in that decision?
“4. When was the last time you had someone over who was really hurting, lonely or needing help (no names)? Should you do this more often? What’s stopping you?”
- Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups
In the last question the notion of not giving names is for a group discussion setting. In all these questions, that is a good suggestion for better group dynamics and trust.
If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.