2nd John: Walking in Truth

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2nd John
Walking in Truth


Practice the truth, Protect the truth.

Background: John, from Ephesus, to a 'Chosen Lady' around 90 AD
Theme: Faithful walking in love
Outline: Practice and Protect the Truth:
Key Verse: " I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another." (2nd John 1:5, NIV)

I. Practice the Truth

{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;

While it is possible that John is writing to a woman and her children, it is generally thought that he is writing to a church in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and the children are believers who belong to that church. See the parallel in verse 13 at the end of this letter.

A Woman and her Children

A Church and her Members

v. 1 - Most literal interpretation

v. 1 - Most common interpretation

v. 10 - The woman is not to support false traveling teachers. Women supported teachers such as Jesus

v. 10 - General principle to members of Church not to support false traveling teachers

v. 13 - 'Your chosen sister' is either a literal sister or a sister in the Lord.

v. 13 - 'Your chosen sister' is a sister church, the children are members.

{2} for the truth's sake, which remains in us, and it will be with us forever:

For John, the truth is more than just a correct fact or correct belief. It is an essence of God, who is truth. This truth is eternal, and is dependent upon the character of God, not on the emotion or character of man.

{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.

John assures us that grace, mercy, and peace will be with us. Grace is unmerited favor, God's goodwill to us even when we do not deserve it. Because of this we have His mercy, which is His goodwill based upon our need. These result in peace, a cooperation with God rather than conflict.

{4} I rejoice greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, even as we have been commanded by the Father.

These children are either members of the Church or of the Lady (see verse 1). Whichever they are, John has noted that their lifestyle or walk makes it evident that they know and love the Lord. They walk in truth, which means no deceit, they are honest, can be trusted, and are true the Lord. May this be said of our children.

{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.

As in the First Letter of John, John places emphasis on Christians loving other Christians. He reminds us that this is a command from Jesus, given throughout His ministry.

{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.

Our culture thinks of love only as an emotion. John presents love as obedience to our Lord. Because God is love, and is characterized by love, when we obey Him we are living in love.

Protect the Truth

{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.

Any teacher who denies that God became flesh in Jesus (Jesus is the Christ), is a false teacher. We must understand all of the prophecies of the Christ, and the teachings of this Son of David who would be divine. Some false teachers in John's time taught that the Christ was a spirit which descended on Jesus at his baptism and departed before his death. However, we know the truth, that God died for our sins. Our belief that Jesus was born as the Christ and died as the Christ, God become man, is vital to our faith in his death for our sins. A man cannot die for the sins of the world, but God did.

{8} Watch yourselves, that we don't lose the things which we have accomplished, but that we receive a full reward.

In other words, do not let others deceive you. What would we lose? Perhaps comfort in the knowledge that ALL our sins are fully forgiven. Some false teachers would make us try to earn forgiveness (do penance or good deeds to make up for our sins). Perhaps we would lose our peace and joy in knowing what God has done for us. Or we could lose our confidence in approaching God.

{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.

Our faith rests in what God has revealed in the Bible. It is the only infallible source of truth. When men begin to outguess God, and go beyond Scripture to find truth that God has not revealed, they leave the path of truth. John says that those who go beyond the teaching of Christ depart from it, and never really had that truth or God in their lives.

{10} If anyone comes to you, and doesn't bring this teaching, don't receive him into your house, and don't welcome him,

In the Bible, women who could afford it often supported traveling teachers and prophets as their service to God. Jesus received support from women, some of whom followed him to the cross. And a widow supported Elijah (and he worked a miracle on her behalf). However, this woman (or church) is warned not to support false teachers. It is important not to support false teachers. This means not supporting missionaries who do not hold to the true faith, or even community organizations run by false religions.

{11} for he who welcomes him participates in his evil works.

Mr. Hodges (of Dallas Theological Seminary, in the Bible Knowledge Commentary) makes it clear that the inviting of a false teacher into one's home would be giving or providing support for his ministry by providing room and board. This is different from talking to a 'cultist' who comes to our door today. The warning that we must not in any way condone their heresy, must be taken to heart. We must balance the obligation to try to present the gospel and win them to the truth with the care of not condoning or supporting their false doctrine in any way.

{12} 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.

It would be interesting to know the details of John's visit, and the conversation. But that is not recorded for us. We may perhaps learn of this visit in heaven.

{13} The children of your chosen sister greet you. Amen.

If John is writing to a church (called a lady), then he sends greetings from another church, perhaps the one he attends.


Updated March 2012
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