All the Bible, Every Book: 2 John

True Love

Now this is love: that we walk according to His commandments…

..just as you heard from the beginning (2 John 6).

The nine General Epistles point to the person and work of the resurrected Christ. They encourage Christians to cling to Him and exhort them to serve Him faithfully because He is the only source of life. Written primarily to persecuted Jewish Christians, the truths apply to every believer from every culture and in every age of church history.

John was with the apostles who were in Jerusalem (Acts 8:14), and Paul calls him one of the pillars of the church (Galatians 2:9). And then, for decades he’s not mentioned. Early Christian tradition tells us he left Jerusalem just before its destruction in A.D. 70 and headquartered in and around Ephesus. In his later years he wrote the Gospel of John and three epistles, probably as he was serving in Ephesus.

John’s first epistle was written to a group of churches in danger of following false teachers. His second letter is addressed to one of those churches (elect lady) and its members (her children) who are actually aiding and encouraging these false teachers.

Wrongly concluding that Christian love demands a tolerance of heresy, these believers were in danger of losing all that they had worked for on earth (disciplemaking ministry) and some of what they hoped for in heaven (eternal rewards).

John wastes no words as he makes his point in this letter sent hastily with First John to warn them, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine (the teachings of Christ and the Apostles), do not receive him into your house nor greet him” (v 10).

The message of 2nd John—love is based on truth—is a timeless reminder to every Christian and every church. Truth and love cannot be separated:

2 John: Abide in the truth if you want to love well!

The epistle easily divides into the relationship of truth and love in personal relationships (1-6), and in church relationships (7-13).

I. Abiding in Christ’s truth is critical to maintaining Christian love.

A.   John exhorts the church to love one another by walking in the truth they originally heard.

1. This church (elect lady, the chosen assembling in a local church) of maturing disciples (have come to know the truth, 1 John 2:3-4) should listen to the elder (Apostle John) because he loves them in truth (emphasis of truth, 6X in 3 verses, 1-3).

2. John pleads with them to love one another by abiding in the truth (4-6).

a. John was delighted to discover that members of this church were walking in the truth (note the emphasis on disciplemaking, not just conversion in John’s ministry, 4).

b. In spite of the good report or maybe because of the good report, John now implores them to love one another by living according to the truth they heard from the beginning (apostolic teachings, 5-6).

B.   John exhorts the church to love one another by resisting false teachers who deceive Christians.

1. John instructs them to love one another by resisting error (4-6).

a. The reason (for) they should love one another in truth is because false teachers have gone out to deceive Christians and oppose Christ’s work (deceivers and antichrists, 7).

b. Warning: False teaching in the church severely damages a disciplemaking ministry (all that we worked for) and could lead to a loss of reward (full reward threatened) for all who have served Christ in a local church (we occurs 3X, 8).

c. Identification: Anyone who goes beyond or turns aside from apostolic doctrine (doctrine of Christ) does not have God, is not abiding in His love and truth (9).

d. Instructions: Do not help (receive him into your house, hospitality) or encourage (greeting that is a type of rejoicing) this person in any way (10). In fact, you are either resisting them or joining them (11).

2. This matter is so pressing that John had to write this brief letter, but they can count on a personal letter soon and the love of their sister church from which John is writing (elect lady, the chosen assembling in a local church, 12-13). 

II. 2 JOHN AND YOU: What we believe will determine the quality of our love. If we want to love others with the love of Christ, we need to abide in the truth and abide in Him.

A. We love others best by living according to the truth as the Spirit teaches it!

1. True love cannot be separated from God’s truth (2 John 6).

2. The best gift of love I can give is the objective truth of God’s Word (Ephesians 4:15).

3. The impact of my love is maximized by my obedience to God’s Word (walk in truth, lifestyle). 

B. We love others best by protecting them against false teaching!

1. True love cannot be separated from God’s truth (2 John 6).

2. Heresy always hurts those we love and the ministries we love.

3. Tolerating false teachers in the name of love foolishly risks the spiritual health of those we love.

4. Supporting or encouraging false teachers in the name of love is aiding and abetting Christ’s enemies!

5. When false teachers “come for a visit” to your home, your family, your disciples, or your church, the most loving action is to slam the door in their face!


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