2 John 1-13
Fellowship with One Another and the Commandments
We are almost at the end of the Easter Season, but we will take up Second and Third John before we close. These are the two shortest “books” of the New Testament, and therefore do not say as much as others. But we must remember that they are still God’s word to us, and the Church has ever found strength and sustenance in them.
The letter is written to the “elect lady,” probably a way of referring to the church to which John is writing. John calls himself “the elder,” referring to his pastoral role as an apostle. The theme of the letter seems to be “truth.” John rejoices that the some of the children of the “elect lady” are walking in the truth. It is this truth that abides with us and will be with us forever. Although he does not express exactly what that truth is, it appears doubtless that what he says in verse seven gives us a clue, along with what he wrote in his first letter, namely, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who came in the flesh. This is the truth that the Church of Jesus Christ must abide in at all times if she will abide in Him.
But there is a further “truth” that comes from this letter. He reminds the church (the elect lady) of the commandment which was from the beginning – that they love one another. We heard that from John in the first letter, numerous times. But then he defines love somewhat differently from the way he defined love in the first letter. In his first letter, love was defined as something God did (4:9-10). But in this second letter, love is defined as something we do: “And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments.” And what is that commandment? We already said it: that we love one another. Love is the fulfillment of all of God’s commandments (Romans 13:10). To love one another is to be an obedient child of God, is to know the joy of walking with God. It is in this way that the love of God is perfected in us (1 John 2:5).
John closes with words of warning for the church. At that time, many roving evangelists were visiting the churches. Churches generally gave hospitality to such men. John warns them sternly not to entertain anyone who denies that Jesus came in the flesh. Indeed, to do so would be to take part in their sin. A stern warning it seems, but John would have us know that we must never even entertain the notion of compromising the gospel message, not even for the sake of hospitality. We must guard this treasure with our lives, for the gospel is our life, the life of the Church.