Truth & Love: A Final Summary of 2nd John

Truth & Love: A Final Summary of 2nd John

  1. Truth and Love Must Be Proclaimed (1–3)

Truth and love belong together. That is the message of the apostle John. Remember that we said “the Elect Lady” was very likely a real person but she could also be a personification of the Church. Dr. Guzik suggests this personification is the likely scenario and I tend to agree. Given the time in which the epistle was written, I suspect that the Elect Lady is both, the Church in Ephesus over which John was Elder and a prominent lady in that congregation. In either case, John had a special love for this lady and her children (13); he is not just the Elder of her church but he demonstrates a fatherly concern for the well-being of the lady and her children. Assuming she is a specific person, she belonged to a faithful Christian family that evidently was very active in the local church and hers was a dedicated Christian home in the midst of an ungodly, pagan society.

We are rapidly heading into a culture very similar to that which John faced, maybe even worse. Our society is not only post truth but is rapidly becoming anti-truth. It has become considered, by many, to be the new “hate speech.)

In verses 1–3, John used the word truth four times bracketed on both ends by “love.” Truth is the foundation of our faith. Jesus said, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). In addition, truth is the basis of love. It gives love teeth, making love real and possible. The bottom line is that a wrong understanding of love can lead a person away from truth.

Additionally, John said that truth “abides” in the believer (2 John 2). The Greek verb is meno, which means “to remain” or “to stay” According to John, truth abides in the believer; its residence is the believer’s mind and heart. But only as truth is tempered by love—for God and for others (see Matt. 22:37–40).

Recall our earlier lesson, we said two important things about truth:

  1. Truth is an objective proposition which defines reality.
  2. The Lord Jesus IS THE objective proposition which defines all reality

 

  1. Walking in Truth is Commanded (4–6)

John moves from proclaiming love and truth together to practicing love and truth together (2 John 4–6). He explains how this happens. First, Christians do it by continuing to love God. The Bible often uses the image of “walking” (4) to gauge the healthiness of one’s faith. For example, the apostle Paul exhorted newly baptized believers to get busy walking (Rom. 6:4). Paul further instructed that believers do not walk in “craftiness” (2 Cor. 4:2) but by faith (2 Cor. 5:7). Finally, Christians are to “walk in the Spirit” so that they will not fulfill the “lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). As a prisoner of the Lord, Paul concluded that all believers must “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Eph. 4:1). Walking expresses the love believers have for their Savior as well as the lifestyle they pursue as each new day unfolds.

In fact, our “walking” according to the commandments of the Lord implies a full devoted love for one another (2 John 5). Love is the greatest commandment upon which Jesus insisted, the hinge upon which the entire law hangs (Matt. 22:37–40). That believers must be encouraged to love one another is strange. Yet the Lord Jesus used love for one another as the world’s yardstick by which they judge the church’s authentic faith (John 13:35). Christ made love for one another the measure the world could use to determine that we are His followers.

This leads to John’s second way Christians practice truth and love together—by continuing to obey God. “This is love,” John says (2 John 6). If Jesus demonstrated anything to us, He demonstrated that love is no illusion. Love may be perverted, twisted, misguided, and erroneous. But love is real (Rom. 5:8). In fact, if love is not real, neither is God, for “God is love” (1 John 4:8). And, according to John, our love is expressed for God in our obedience to Him, obeying His commandments (1 John 5:3).

III. Truth and Love May Be Perverted (7–13)

We suggested earlier that truth and love hang together on a single hinge. And both are in jeopardy of perversion apart from their foundational rootedness in Scripture (2 John 7–9).

If you have a pastor who is not teaching through the Bible, they do not have the truth. I would go so far as to say that pastor hates you. There is nothing more hateful a person can do than to refuse to bring the Word of God, and I mean the whole thing, both testaments, to bear on sinners and warn them of what God thinks of sin and what He plans to do about it. If you claim to love someone, you had best be willing to tell them some uncomfortable truths.

John speaks openly about “many deceivers” who have entered into the world (7). Open rebuke is necessary when the eternal soul of another is at stake. Specifically, John is warning against docetists who denied Jesus had come in human flesh. For them, He was no more than a ghostly apparition. Deceivers attempted to lead faithful, but sometimes weak or gullible, Christians astray. While a believer cannot become an unbeliever, a weak believer may get sucked into a deceptive vacuum void of sound doctrine. Consequently, those who do will ultimately regret that they fell for the deception—either in this life or when standing before God.

Note John’s term transgresses (9). It means “to go beyond,” carrying the idea of violating legitimate boundaries. It is very similar to hunters who come upon a sign in the forest that says specifically, “No Trespassing!” but ignoring the warning, crossing the boundary, and proceeding to hunt nonetheless. How do the deceivers operate? John tells us (10, 11). They made their rounds perhaps when the church was gathered for worship. Weak believers often make a habit of avoiding the assembling of the saints together (Heb. 10:25). Hence, weak believers would invite the false teachers into their homes, listening to their smooth presentations, and opening themselves up for probable deception. To this John flatly says, “Do not receive him into your house nor greet him” (10). While this may seem harsh, it is not. John was not telling Christians to be unkind but warning them not to be exploited by deceivers. The false teachers did not show up because they were hungry. Instead they showed up for a single purpose: to deceive.

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