2 John 1:1-2
This elder is John. The word 'elder' probably isn't intended to be understood as the office of elder; it's a word speaking of his age.
To the elect lady and her children,
This is who John is writing to. So the big question is, who is the lady and her children. Is it a lady or maybe the owner of a house church? It is referring to a church as a lady, the children are all those in the church. The bottom line is we don't know who she is.
If it is a church then why the secret code? Persecution was rampant and being a Christian got you crucified, fed to the lions or worse. Writing in code kept anyone from intercepting this letter and being able to identify these people. So this is written to a believer or group of them.
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, 2 because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever:
John's all about love and truth in a world that's short on both. That speaks to us today doesn't it? Love has grown cold and truth is relevant. This lady, whoever she is, was loved by all those who were believers. All believers have this common bond. We've all received an amazing gift of truth. And we carry this eternal gift, abiding in us while we walk in this imperfect body.
John has a knack for word counts. Look at those first 2 verses and we see he stuffed the word 'truth' into one sentence 3 times. That shows John's concern for what was happening. The truth was being challenged and the unsuspecting Christian needed to be on guard.
2 John 1:3
3 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.
Grace is getting what you don't deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. And peace comes from knowing both. This kind of looks like a normal opening to a letter. But notice in verse 3 the proclamation that Jesus was the Father's son. This is speaking directly to counter the false teachings of Gnosticism.
2 John 1:4
4 I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.
This is the joy of this elder pastor. He crossed paths with some of these children and discovered that they were walking with the Lord. They had held onto their first love and not fallen prey to the false teachers.
John doesn't imply it necessarily but you wonder how many he's run into that aren't walking in truth? How many had fallen prey? How many ran for a while and faded? How many never took a step? Within this passage also lies evidence of John's grave concern. While he finds joy in some of the children, the false teachers were working hard spreading their lies and drawing some away. As the elder, he wants the continuation of those walking in truth and the correction of those who weren't.
2 John 1:5
5 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.
Nothing new here, but John's not beyond pleading for others to listen. Truth never changes; its' the same as it was in the beginning. So John repeats with a pleading tone what the lady already knows. Love one another. Love is the measure of character of the Christian walk. Character is what you do when no one is looking. When no one is looking and there is nothing to be gained or loss, do you love your brother and sister?
2 John 1:6
6 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 love for God is revealed in obedience. Within that obedience is to love and, John said, you should walk in it. This is just making it an everyday part of your life. It's not hit and miss or only when it's convenient.
2 John 1:7-8
7 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. 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
In that day and time it was normal and expected to show hospitality to a traveler. With the birth and the spread of the church many teachers and missionaries had gone out into the world to teach their message. The problem now was that many of them were teaching a false message. They did not confess Jesus coming in the flesh. They said Jesus couldn't be associated with the flesh; flesh is bad, spiritual things are good and the two never mix. Imagine the confusion. These folks have been raised up in a way that says Hospitality is all important. Now they are torn between what the apostle says and what their mother and father taught them.
This was a common problem at the time. Some believe this is when the Did-a-kay came into being. The Did-a-kay is like a book instructing people in how to function as a Christian in this world. Many believe it was written by the Apostles although no one sees it as inspired. It's not equal tot he bible. The Did-a-kay dealt briefly with many different topics. One of the topics was hospitality.
Therefore, the one
who comes and teaches you all of these things which have been previously
spoken, accept him. But if he, the teacher, should turn to teach another
teaching, so as to release this one, do not listen to him. But if he teaches to
promote what is right and knowledge of the Lord, accept him as you would the
Now about the envoys and prophets, do just as according to the tenet of the good message. Now each envoy who comes to you, accept as you would the Lord. But he will not remain for one day. Now if there is need, also the next day. But if he remains for three, he is a false prophet.
Now when the envoy departs, he should take nothing except bread until he lodges. But if he should ask for money, he is a false prophet.
And every prophet who speaks with the spirit, you will not test or judge, for every sin will be forgiven. But not everyone who speaks with the spirit is a prophet: but if he has the conduct of the Lord. Therefore, from their conduct, the false prophet and the prophet will be made known. And no prophet with the spirit who orders a meal eats from it, unless indeed he is a false prophet. Now every prophet who teaches the truth, if he does not do as he teaches, is a false prophet. But every prophet who has been proved, who is true, who does things for the kosmic secrets of the assembly but who does not teach to do as he does, will not be judged among you. For the ancient prophets did it this way also. But whoever says with the spirit, "Give me money (or something else)," you will not listen to him. But if he says to give on behalf of others who are in need, no one should judge him.
So John acknowledges that many had gone out in the world as deceivers. And He said "LOOK TO YOURSELVES" not to help these people. How do you do that? No one wanted to be helping those apostle considered deceivers and antichrists. The Did-a-kay may have been the tool provided. At the least, it may have been when John was involved in the thought process identifying the need for such a thing.
John encourages the lady to not lose all that the apostles had worked for. Don't allow the enemy to destroy the church. It wasn't just good enough to have a good start, but that they finished well. In the first epistle John said he wrote that they would know the Son and continue in that belief of the Son. There is a very real sense that aiding or maybe even allowing false teaching diminishes or forfeits eternal rewards.
2 John 1:9
9 Whoever transgresses (a transgression is getting outside the boundary; you might look at it as going out of bounds.) 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 false teachers were running out of bounds. You can't deny the son yet claim a relationship with God. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are inseparable. They are One God in three persons. Fallen man can only know the Father through the Son. So, when we believe the Son and abide in Him, we have both the Father and the Son.
2 John 1:10-11
10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
Receiving someone who knowingly runs out of bounds is to share in their ministry of false teaching. No matter how religious or wise or politically correct the teaching may seem. If it causes you to leave your foundation to partner with them, you are running out of bounds also. Where their culture and tradition might call for hospitality inspite of belief, John says this is trouble. The absence of the doctrine of Christ nullifies any cultural norm or tradition.
The doctrine of Christ is the belief that Jesus is a real man that was born of a human and died as a man, but overcame death. Jesus is alive today as a man, in a glorified state. If someone comes to you without this teaching, John says, don't welcome him in. If you do, you are sharing in his wicked work. You are promoting the antichrist agenda.
The question for us is, what do we do with this? We had a Sunday school teacher years ago who interviewed the kids that came over to their house. They weren't allowed in until he was convinced they were believers in Christ. This seems a little extreme considering most eight to ten year olds aren't experts in the Doctrine of Christ. John isn't saying we can't have an unbeliever in our house. He is talking about the deceivers who have gone out into the world. They are promoting an agenda. They are missionaries for the antiChrist. My old Sunday school teacher's heart was in the right place but I don't think they eight year olds next door were missionaries for the anti Christ. Our lives will be lived in the presence of many unbelievers and those who don't know the doctrine of Christ. It's our job to share it with them while remaining in bounds.
I think the church often gets too focused on this open arms concept; just inviting the whole world in the front door of the church. Sure everyone is welcome but church is for believers. Churches are being redesigned to make the pagan feel comfortable. We don't owe our hospitality to the pagan preacher. We don't offer our blessings to bless those who don't hold the doctrine of Christ. At the same time, John isn't calling us into seclusion. We aren't to hole up and seal ourselves away from the world.
We need to be cautious in our walk, John said Look to yourselves. Don't run ahead beyond your teaching. Keep you feet planted in the word. Don't ever get so wise you leave your foundation. We live in a world that believes its okay to run out of bounds because everyone else is doing it. We aren't ever called to partner with darkness.
2 John 1:12
12 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.
John has serious concerns and he has much more to say. His joy can't be complete until there is a face to face visit.
2 John 1:13
13 The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen.
The lady has an elect sister. Her children send greetings to the elect lady.
John touched a lot of lives. Regardless of whether the lady is one person or a church or the children are her offspring or a group of believers, it doesn't change a thing. We see John's joy in fellowship with her and her children. We see his encouragement to them and we see his warning. All this is done in love, touching their life with truth, boldly speaking it, unashamedly.
So, today in your life, what do we do with this. We receive the same joy, encouragement and warning from John. And, we keep our walk. But it's not just for us to receive, but also to those who pass it on by speaking boldly of the truth to the next generation. This happens in day to day conversations. It happens without thinking about it because as we walk with Christ we become more like Him. And we touch lives without knowing it.