Truth In Love

Truth In Love
Truth In Love

This is a shorter study than most, and much of the ideas that were conveyed in 1 John were echoed in this letter to a church that was addressed somewhat anonymously. But this church that John writes to is what I would refer to as a model church. I can’t help but wonder if was written to the church of Smyrna, or even Philidelphia. But even though we are not exactly sure who the recipients were we can glean a great deal of encouragement from this letter, the second of three from John to fellow believers.

[2Jo 1:1 NKJV]
The Elder, To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth,

The Elder here is in reference to the author of this epistle and is presumed to be John. Those who were the recipients of the letter would have immediately recognized the author. Perhaps this was code so as not to identify either party as we will see moving forward that it is addressed to the elect lady and her children. During the time that John wrote this letter the church was under immense persecution and this may have been a way to protect both parties from the enemies of God were they to fall into wrong hands.

John here refers to himslelf as the elder and it is likely that he was in his nineties at the time he wrote it. The word used here for “elder” comes from the Greek word “presbyteros” which in relationship to the church means one who presides over the church. The New Testament uses the terms bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably, and so it was likely that John was emphasising his function in the body while giving them a clue to who he was.

John is writing this epistle or letter to a person or persons of the faith. The term for elect lady may have been addressing a particular individual or perhaps it could have been to a congregation. Either way, John is sending this letter as an encouragement and a warning. Some commentators believe it was the latter, that John was addressing a local church as the lady and the individuals within the fellowship as the children. I could argue for both positions but it is most likely the latter in my opinion. By using a personification it would have been more deceptive should the letter fall into enemy hands.

If we examine this epistle in light of the previous letter from John we see that the content is nearly identical to this letter. It is reasonable to say then that the one whom John loves along with all who have know the truth is the believer in general. John’s emphasis on knowing the truth is replete throughout his letters to the churches as it is the one identifier, along with love that uniquely sets the believer apart from the world and inescapably binds the believer together with other fellow, like-minded, believers.

[2Jo 1:2 NKJV]
because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever:

As we discussed in previous studies, the truth abides in us and it is eternal. Jesus said that He is the Truth (John 14:6). And we know that the truth is eternal and immutable. And so John likely uses this phrase to show the agape love that he has for those to whom he is writing, since they hold to the same truth.

[2Jo 1:3 NKJV]
Grace, mercy, [and] peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

John does not simply lead with the tratitional intro here. Notice that he adds in truth and love. Again, the overriding emphasis of Johns epistles are directed at these two topics. We know that this is a traditional introduction as we see it mirrored in the Pualine letters where Paul writes, “Grace to you and Peace…” (Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:13, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 1:2, Colossians 1:2, etc…).

[2Jo 1:4 NKJV]
I rejoiced greatly that I have found [some] of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.

It is not uncommon to meet fellow believers when you are out and about. Apparently, John ran in to some of these from this particular fellowship and makes note of them. And as a pastor, This would have brought much joy to the heart of John. To see his “offspring” walking in truth would have been a confirmation to John as well to his faithfulness to teach the Word. Notice here too that he points out the commandment from the Father. John is faithful to always tie everything back to the Father who sent His Son for our redemption.

[2Jo 1:5 NKJV]
And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.

John emplores his audience to maintain the love that they had from the beginning. This was nothing new to them, yet John felt it was important en0ugh to reiterate this statement. As it is with all believers, we too must keep our attention on the commandments of the Father always focusing on our need to love one another.

[2Jo 1:6 NKJV]
This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.

Our “walk” is essential in the life of Christ. Notice that we are to always be moving forward, as the term walk implies. I am reminded of Psalm 1:1, which warns us not to be idle by standing or sitting. We should always be moving forward holding fast to the precepts and commandments of our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ.

[2Jo 1:7 NKJV]
For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ [as] coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

The Gnostics of John’s times did not believe in the resurrection of the body or in the virgin birth. John warned of these decievers and others that were decievers and antichrists. As believers we are not to fellowship with those who deny the authority of Christ (2 Corinthians 6:14). We discussed this in detail in previous studies, but to recap: the believer has no business numbering non-believers amongst their core group of friends. It is impossible to be in the world without encountering and living at peace with all men (Romans 12:18) but it is possible to be in the world but not of it (John 15:19).

[2Jo 1:8 NKJV]
Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but [that] we may receive a full reward.

The forward momentum of the believer requires us to remain faithful to the calling that we have in Christ. The Apostle Paul likens the walk of the believer to the many of the Olympic Games which found their origins during the times of Christ. Like these games we are to fight to win. As believers today we must hold on to the things which the Bible gives us to live the lives that God has called us to.

[2Jo 1:9 NKJV]
Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.

The word for doctrine here is the Greek word, “didachÄ“” which simply means teaching. And so John is telling us whoever transgresses or sins and does not abide in the teachings of Christ does not have God but the one who abides in His teaching not only has God but Jesus as well. Too many times people will segregate the Father from the Son in misplaced theology. The fact is that the two are inseparable. God is three persons in one, each distinct but all together. The trinity, though never called that by name in the Bible, is a doctrine of truth replete throughout the Bible none-the-less.

[2Jo 1:10 NKJV]
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him;

John warns the believers to avoid those who do not hold to this doctrine. There are many subversive people in the world, and treachery and deceit is there modus operandi. It would not have been unheard of for enemies of Christ to seek to infiltrate fellowships to expose them to curry favor with the Roman authorities who were persecuting believers during John’s time. But I believe this warning has been echoed through the whole of Scripture. For example, the reason that God did not want intermingling between His children and the pagan nations is that it opened the door for corruption and idolatry. We see that John ends his last letter 1 John 5:21 with the warning to keep away from idols.

[2Jo 1:11 NKJV]
for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

My mom used to say, “Birds of a feather flock together.” This is the warning that John leaves his audience with. We know that evil company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33). If we approve of fellowship with people who bring heretical teachings we are, in essence, condoning their philosophies. No believer in good concience can do what is commonly referred to as “missionary dating.” We are not to court the world in an attempt to woo them to Christ. Instead we should be bold about our faith and share with them the truth of Christ, but not allow them in to our inner circles.

[2Jo 1:12 NKJV]
Having many things to write to you, I did not wish [to do so] with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.

Of course there are some things that John longs to share with the recipients of this epistle face to face. And you know, we too will get to answer his desire one day when we are in heaven beside John! But here John is desiring the fellowship and has some things that he wants to share things with them face to face. Now I love to write, I can’t say that when I am in my nineties that I will share the same thrill. Perhaps John was thinking that it would take longer to write what he wanted to write than it would to get there and just share it with them. Even if an amanuensis was used to write this letter for John nothing is quite like face to face fellowship with those you love. I think that was John’s heart here.

[2Jo 1:13 NKJV]
The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen.

Apparently some of those from the church that John wrote to were there with John at the time he wrote this letter and so they send their greetings as well. John closes with this.

This is one of the shortest letters in the Bible, and yet it delivers a powerful roundhouse kick to the face of apathy. John’s encouragement is haunting even today in a good way, of course. As believers in our age, we would want to be able to say that this letter could have very well been written to us (minus the persecution) ! In a way it was. While we do not face the same persecution that the church in John’s time faced, we still face persecution. I would venture to say that there are more false teachers today than any other point in history. But John is ever the encourager and his encouragement for us today would likely be to hold fast to truth and love.

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