2 John - Truth and Love

INTRODUCTION: In this letter, John referred to himself only as the elder, and there is no detail herein or elsewhere in scripture to give us the identity of the woman he addressed in his opening. This letter of approximately 300 words in English, and 3 John of similar length, are the two shortest writings in the New Testament. This letter does not contain biographical or geographical information, but there are essentials of faith recorded that are just as precious to keep in the heart today as they were when John wrote them.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the World English Bible.


A - LOVE IN TRUTH BRINGS GRACE, MERCY, AND PEACE

2John "1 The elder, to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not I only, but also all those who know the truth; 2 for the truth's sake, which remains in us, and it will be with us forever: 3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love."

COMMENTS: John opened his letter to this group of believers without using any names as he addressed the chosen or elect lady and referred to the others as her children. When John wrote about his love, he was expressing his esteem, goodwill, and endearment for them because of their mutual belief and trust in the truth of the Word of God and in the Lord Jesus Christ. The written Word and the Living Word, Christ, provide the basis for all truth that sets apart the chosen of God from the perishing world, and guarantees eternal life for them with God the Father and his Son Christ Jesus. For that reason John can say that not only does he love them, but all who are part of the family of God share in that love relationship. Truth and love wrap around the foundation of our faith in various ways to hold us close to each other and to the LORD to be together forever as part of his eternal kingdom.

The LORD Jesus told his disciples that they should display love for each other that would be consistent with their love of God. John 13 "35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." In John's first letter he declared that those who are born of God through their belief in Christ Jesus love God and they love other children who are born of God. 1 John 5 "1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. Whoever loves the Father also loves the child who is born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. His commandments are not grievous." The Apostle Paul emphasized the characteristics of Christian love in his letter to the Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 13 "4 Love is patient and is kind; love doesn't envy. Love doesn't brag, is not proud, 5 doesn't behave itself inappropriately, doesn't seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; 6 doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;"

Love cannot have lasting value unless it is founded in truth. Jesus declared to Thomas and the other disciples in the upper room that he is the very embodiment of truth. John 14 "6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me." When Jesus was in Roman custody and his death on the cross was eminent, he did not emphasize his ultimate authority as king of kings, in his answer to the question from Pilate. What he said can not be understood by anyone who rejects Jesus as god the Son. John 18 "37 Pilate therefore said to him, "Are you a king then?" Jesus answered, You say that I am a king. For this reason I have been born, and for this reason I have come into the world, that I should testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice." This fact that the Word of God is truth that brings righteousness had also been expressed in the writing of the Psalms. Psalm 119 "142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness. Your law is truth." John assures the believer that Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. Isaiah had made a similar statement about secure peace for the people of God as he wrote prophetically. Isaiah 26 "2 Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter: the one which keeps faith. 3 You will keep whoever's mind is steadfast in perfect peace, because he trusts in you."


B - WALKING IN TRUTH

2 John "4 I rejoice greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, even as we have been commanded by the Father. 5 Now I beg you, dear lady, not as though I wrote to you a new commandment, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 This is love, that we should walk according to his commandments. This is the commandment, even as you heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it."

COMMENTS: John does not state how he found some of the "children" walking in truth, but it may have been through personal contact, and he said he rejoiced greatly about them. This woman apparently had a very strong witness before others, and this was true of Priscilla working together with her husband Aquila when they were leaders in house churches. The term children may well be used to describe the strong example represented to others by this lady, and not that they were her physical offspring. Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians referring to his "dear children" as he was urging them to begin to bear fruit evident of their salvation in Christ without depending upon satisfying the law. Galatians 4 "19 My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ is formed in you, 19 but I could wish to be present with you now, and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you."

John did not say all of her children, for only those who fully accept the truth as commanded by God the Father in love are kept in truth and love, and later in John's letter he warns about the corrupting influence that can come in among them. Paul used language similar to that of John when he wrote to believers in Colossae. He let them know that he was praying for them because of their faith in Christ Jesus and the love they had for each other as he wanted them to grow in the grace and peace from the LORD. Colossians 1 "2 to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 We give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which you have toward all the saints, 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the Good News, 6 which has come to you; even as it is in all the world and is bearing fruit and growing, as it does in you also, since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth;"


C - BEWARE OF THE DECEIVERS WHO ARE ANTICHRISTS

2 John "7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who don't confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the Antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, that we don't lose the things which we have accomplished, but that we receive a full reward. 9 Whoever transgresses and doesn't remain in the teaching of Christ, doesn't have God. He who remains in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son."

COMMENTS: There are various ways that false teachers will present deceptions from the truth that Christ is God, and that he came into the world in human flesh as the unique Son of the Father. Christ Jesus is not another God, for the LORD God does not allow the worship of any other. Exodus 34 "14 for you shall worship no other god: for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." Isaiah recorded that the LORD himself declared that there is no other God. Isaiah 45 "21 Declare and present it. Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has shown this from ancient time? Who has declared it of old? Haven't I, Yahweh? There is no other God besides me, a just God and a Saviour; There is no one besides me." Jesus reaffirmed the Old Testament truth that God is one. Mark 12 "29 Jesus answered, The greatest is, Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one:"

The gospel of John opens with the truth that God was made flesh and dwelt among men. John 1 "1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1 "14 The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth." In John's first letter he also identified as antichrist those false prophets who deny that Christ has come in the flesh. 1 John 4 "1 Beloved, don't believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit who doesn't confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God, and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of whom you have heard that it comes. Now it is in the world already." John is the only writer in the New Testament that uses the term antichrist, and he places very strong emphasis that those who deny that Christ came in the flesh, have no part with God the Father.


D - KEEP SEPARATED FROM THE DECEIVERS

2 John "10 If anyone comes to you, and doesn't bring this teaching, don't receive him into your house, and don't welcome him, 11 for he who welcomes him participates in his evil works."

COMMENTS: John opened his letter expressing his love for those who held fast to the truth, but he also wanted to be sure that the believers be continually on guard against those who could bring deceptive teaching in among them. He did not want them to tolerate any teaching that was antichrist, and not even to give a welcome to those who hold such beliefs. The error of teaching that Christ did not come in the flesh is so grievous that it must be clearly and completely rejected. The Apostle Paul gave a similarly strong warning to the believers at Galatia telling them there is no other gospel, than the truth about Christ Jesus. Galatians 1 "6 I marvel that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different "good news"; 7 and there isn't another "good news." Only there are some who trouble you, and want to pervert the Good News of Christ. 8 But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you any "good news" other than that which we preached to you, let him be cursed. 9 As we have said before, so I now say again: if any man preaches to you any "good news" other than that which you received, let him be cursed."

The Apostle John closed his first letter with a very forthright statement that Jesus is God. 1 John 5 "20 We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us an understanding, that we know him who is true, and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols." Mark opened his gospel account with a declaration that the "good news" is found in Christ Jesus, the Son of God. Mark 1 "1 The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." There was much speculation from unbelievers about Jesus of Nazareth, but Peter quickly responded to Jesus about his belief. John 6 "68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God."" John stated in his gospel account that the many signs Jesus performed validated his identity. John 20 "30 Therefore Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name." There is ample evidence in scripture that Christ Jesus came in flesh, and as the way, the truth, and the life. Those who do not have God the Son, also do not have God the Father.


E - GREATER JOY IS FOUND WHEN SAINTS GATHER TOGETHER

2 John "2 Having many things to write to you, I don't want to do so with paper and ink, but I hope to come to you, and to speak face to face, that our joy may be made full. 13 The children of your chosen sister greet you. Amen."

COMMENTS: When distance separates those who share a close affection for each other, even the most EFFECTIVE means of communication cannot SURPASS THE JOY OF being together in person. Though we do not know where either John or this lady resided at the time of the writing, he did desire to go to where she was located to share much more than he had written in this letter.

When Paul had to leave Thessalonica because of the threat of harm from the Jews, he had a strong desire to see the believers there again. 1 Thessalonians 2 "17 But we, brothers, being bereaved of you for a short season, in presence, not in heart, tried even harder to see your face with great desire, 18 because we wanted to come to you - indeed, I, Paul, once and again - but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Isn't it even you, before our Lord Jesus at his coming? 20 For you are our glory and our joy." When Paul wrote his letter to the believers at Rome he had a great desire to be able to be with them. Romans 1 "9 For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the Good News of his Son, how unceasingly I make mention of you always in my prayers, 10 requesting, if by any means now at last I may be prospered by the will of God to come to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, to the end that you may be established; 12 that is, that I with you may be encouraged in you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine." Paul stated a very important element available when Christians are together, that they can be encouraged, each of them by the faith of the others who are present.

John closed his letter with the mention of the children of a "chosen" sister who send their greeting to the other group of believers. No names are used, but we do know by John's designation that the sister mentioned is chosen as are all who belong to God. This is such an important part of the truth of God's love in that he chose us by his grace. Ephesians 2 "4 But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus; 8 for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, that no one would boast." As John said in his first letter, 1 John 4 "19 We love him, because he first loved us."

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

I thank you, LORD, that you have opened my heart to the truth of your Word which will be with me forever and which gives me your grace, mercy, and peace because of Christ Jesus. Keep in the forefront of my mind my need to walk in love for my God and for my fellow Christians as you have commanded, and as you have provided your enablement through your Spirit within me. I want to be ever watchful for any manifestation of antichrist teaching even in the most subtle form. I want to be completely separated from such teaching, and nurture only the truth about God the Father and God the Son in myself and in other Christians. Help me, LORD, to experience the joy that should be part of any gathering of Christians who are bound together by truth and love. I praise you, my god, that you have chosen me to be your child! Amen.

Published 15 November 2014