2 John 4-6
Love Fulfills the Commandment
There’s a reason John is called the “Beloved Disciple”—love is what he most likes to talk about—whether the gospel or his letters, and yes, even the Book of Revelation, are saturated with this greatest of all Christian virtues. Our Lord said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). This was the old commandment which received new light in the life and ministry of Jesus (1 John 2:7-8). In John’s letters, he speaks primarily of love of the brethren because believers share a bond in Christ Jesus that they do not share with unbelievers. A believer’s best friends and soulmates should be fellow-believers—people who can encourage them in their walk with Christ.
And so the Apostle reminds those of this church (“dear lady”) that we must love one another. Perhaps this church was struggling with some inward strife, showing us that even churches during the New Testament era suffered from this sin. The causes of such strife are as limitless as the passions of our sinful natures. Granted, there are certainly matters against which to stand, such as heresy and unrepentant sin in various members. But most matters of division in churches are due to pride. And it is to our shame that the world often sees this (Romans 2:24).
John then switches to the plural: “And this is love: that we walk according to his commandments.” But then he returns to the singular, “This is the commandment….” All of the commandments (plural) are summed up in love of God and neighbor (singular) as we saw above. Moreover, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
As we saw yesterday, love must be based upon the truth of the gospel; and, when it is, there is no greater love in the world. And when love is true, it keeps our Lord’s commandment(s) to love God and the brethren (and neighbor). We worship a true God who truly loves us; we are expected to return love just as true by truly loving the brethren, killing the sins which so easily beset us, and living a life for Him in holiness and godliness. Anything less is fake—and there are many fakes. Love with kindness, forgiveness, humility, sympathy, and affection (Philippians 2:1-11). And what a blessing it is when brothers dwell in unity (Psalm 133:1).